The Lempert Report LIVE

Balancing Food Industry Needs: NYC's Delivery Pay, Healthy Alternatives, and Making Plant-Based Foods More Appealing

June 12, 2023 Phil Lempert Episode 82
The Lempert Report LIVE
Balancing Food Industry Needs: NYC's Delivery Pay, Healthy Alternatives, and Making Plant-Based Foods More Appealing
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

How will New York City's new pay requirements for delivery workers impact the food industry, and what can we learn from Walmart and dollar stores about providing healthy alternatives in food deserts? Join us as we explore these pressing topics and discuss the balance between large stores and independent businesses. We'll also dive into Darius Mosaferin's research on the benefits of dairy consumption, revealing why dairy makes up 10% of the average American adult's diet.

Are you aware of the disconnect between consumers who care about sustainability and those who actually purchase sustainable products? We break down how brands can make plant-based foods more appealing through flavor, price, and labeling. Plus, we talk about Deshaun E. Barnes' new book on how fiber and antioxidants can counteract the effects of junk food, the latest research on nitrites and pancreatic cancer, and the unfortunate mishap with the National Eating Disorders Association's chatbot Tessa.

Phil:

Welcome to the Lempert Report LIVE On today's broadcast. What Walmart and dollar stores have in common, Some surprising facts about your favorite dairy products, what consumers say and what they do about sustainability. There's a new tool in the fight against junk food that's going to surprise you, and a chat bot that's not so smart. We have a new pasta review that you've got to try and, on the bullseye, we wonder if Pizza Hut has pushed the envelope just a little too far. Let's get started. Well, Sally.

Phil:

First, some late-breaking news that just happened yesterday. We reported about this story a few weeks ago how, in New York City, the 60,000 food delivery workers and their union were trying to make an increase. Currently, these people make on average, according to CNN, $7.09 an hour, But now the new pay rate will allow them to eventually earn at least $19.96 an hour. The pay will increase to $17.96 an hour this July 12th and then increase again to nearly $20 an hour in April 2025. This marks the first US city that is going to establish and implement pay requirements for delivery workers. I've got to tell you, I think, that this is going to be a huge story and it's going to affect all delivery, whether it be supermarket delivery or any other kind of food delivery in the nation. What do you think?

Sally:

I think it's really wonderful that these workers are getting fair pay. I believe that everybody should be getting enough money to provide food and shelter for their families. I'm glad to see that these workers are getting that. There will probably be some controversy because companies are going to have to pay a little bit more. Customers might have to pay a little bit more. It might be added on, tacked on somehow to that tab when you order your food. We'll just have to see how this plays out.

Phil:

Yeah, we're going to have to watch it carefully and see what the implications are, but what happened yesterday is going to be groundbreaking, no question about it.

Phil:

So let's move on to our first story, which is about Walmart and dollar stores. Basically, this report out of the Penn Capital Star reported on the Institute for Self-Reliance Panel that was recently held, and the quote is just five giant retail change now capture about half of all grocery sales. One company, Walmart, captures one out of every $4 that Americans spend on groceries. There was actually the newest member of the Federal Trade Commission who participated on the panel, as well as some other experts, and basically what they have said is Walmart super centers and dollar stores, because of the foods that they sell and the prices that they have, are really eliminating good, healthy alternatives for people who live in food deserts And when they don't have the issue of having full service supermarkets. What they also go out to point out that Walmart and others have reduced the amount of business that they're giving to small, independent farmers. They're looking for these huge farms that can fulfill their contracts, needless to say, but as a result, some of these small farmers are going out of business as well.

Sally:

Yes, it is a problem that we as a society should be looking at. I agree, You know I also. Before I say what I'm about to say, I would like to point out that I am a fan of Walmart and their offerings as far as affordable produce and healthy selections. I really think that they do a great job with offering that to people at an in an affordable way. The issue here is when we see dollar stores coming in that are not offering healthy foods but crushing the independent grocer that is there. And, as you pointed out, Phil, with these big stores coming into these communities where these local farmers have relied on the contracts they have with independent grocers for for years and years and years, all of a sudden are losing those contracts and and that is their lifeline- It is, and we've really got to have that balance now.

Phil:

National Grocers Association started running some advertisements talking about how these larger chains are putting independent grocers out of business. But we need a balance. We need a balance to your point of these large stores that can offer great prices, as well as independent stores, and while they can offer the right prices, they might be able to offer service or higher quality or more local. So we really need to, depending on where people live in the country, be able to have all these offerings there. In the meantime, there's some new data that's come out about dairy products. What we've seen over the past couple years is a lot of bad press about dairy full disclosure. My grandfather and father were dairy farmers, so I've got it, you know, in in ingrained prejudice against those kinds of stories when I see them. But what we see now is there's a bunch of long term observational studies that suggest people who consume more dairy have a lower risk of diabetes And they break down what the dairy products are. Dairy currently makes up about 10% of calories in the typical American adults diet For 40 years. This cardiologist and Tufts Medical Center points out. One approach to dairy has reigned supreme get calcium and avoid fat. He was named one of the world's most influential scientific minds by Thompson Reuters, nominated by President Biden to serve on the President's Council on Sports, fitness and Nutrition, and believes that dairy is one of the most interesting and understudied categories of food. He is Darius Mosaferin And basically he breaks down in this report who what dairy products are the best for our health.

Phil:

Number one in his book is yogurt. It's consistently linked to lower risk of diabetes, lower risk of obesity and weight gain in long term observational studies. It's high in probiotics, lower weight and improves glucose and insulin levels. Cheese, which has come under a lot of attack recently he says it's Cheese is the top fermented food consumed in the US. Other cultures around the world consume kimchi or sauerkraut, but here in the US it's cheese, and the fermentation creates new compounds and also many cheeses have active bacterial cultures or probiotics with them.

Phil:

But I've gotta tell you something The one that makes me smile is ice cream. What he said is that the long-term observational studies of ice cream found that people who consume ice cream have a lower risk of diabetes long-term. There's two reasons. One is that it actually lowers the risk through some unknown mechanism. Second is the people who have other risk factors that make them more at risk of diabetes, avoid ice cream. His number one dessert is dark chocolate that's 70% cacao and number two is healthy, minimally processed, real ice cream, not the processed stuff that's full of junk and colors and little you know, munchy things in there and stuff like that. What do you think?

Sally:

Yes, this was a very formative article to read about all these different benefits or not benefits of dairy that we've been thinking all of these years, and obviously, yogurt and cheese having those probiotics in them. That is great to be reminded of that and how that can help people lower their risk of diabetes. These two products also are really great for people who are switching to more of a plant-based diet and moving away from meat. Cheese and yogurt are great options to put into your diet to give you that protein.

Sally:

I thought that his take on milk was very interesting, that he really was kind of neutral on milk. You know that you can drink it if you want to. It's not really bad for you, but it's not necessarily as good for us. What I did learn from this about milk that was interesting to me was him talking about how sometimes on dairy farms, while they are using a cow to produce milk, they also impregnated that cow for a dual purpose to produce meat, and they're producing dairy at the same time. This is not good for the cow, because the cow was then producing these hormones that are getting into the milk that we don't want in our milk, and so that was one thing I really learned from that. So that's something for consumers to know where they're getting their milk if they are interested in avoiding those hormones that you know to buy from dairies that are not doing that. But yes, you know, i love that. He says ice cream is healthier than a piece of bread.

Phil:

Yay, yeah, exactly exactly. And also some other late breaking news this morning. I got an email early this morning that the Museum of Ice Cream, which currently is in New York City, austin, texas, chicago and Singapore, is going to be opening up a new location, a permanent location, in Miami, florida as well. So if you're in New York, singapore, austin, chicago and soon Miami, make sure you check out the Museum of Ice Cream If you've never been there. It's a hoot, it's absolutely fabulous. Food Navigator has a new report. It's their second installment of the Food Navigator USA four-part video series that looks at sustainability and future proofing the food system, how companies and people are reducing their carbon footprint and improving their sustainability. And the fact that you know, is a blow away fact 80% of consumers say they care about sustainability, but only 20% of them are actually acting on it and paying for sustainability when they make food choices. So What's going on here, sally?

Sally:

Yes. Well, there is a disconnect between these consumers that really do want to eat for a better planet or to buy those more premium level products that they know are better for us as a society. But the problem is that what is the most important thing to most consumers is taste and then price, and so if these foods do not taste good to us, or if they are too expensive, then we can't expect the consumers to just jump on and buy these products. Now it's interesting hearing about how, if people that are creating these plant-based products want to get consumers onto their products and buy more of their products, then maybe they need to pull back on the labeling. We've seen studies that say, when we put healthy across something on the package, that sometimes people don't want to buy it, and so we're talking about here, about using the word maybe vegetarian instead of vegan. We're also talking about these companies investing in more flavor and making these products taste better and then also finding ways to bring that price down.

Phil:

And they also talk about some other things that companies should do. Make it very clear about what your source of protein is, so people don't have to hide. Look for it when it's hidden. The third is highlighting some of that more century appeal to it on the juicy, craveable taste sensations And lastly, highlighting more of the positive health benefits. If brands use these, they outperform those that use fewer of them by up to six times. And also, what they point out is consumer interest is very high. Two-thirds of younger consumers age 16 to 40, say they plan to spend more on plant-based meat and dairy in the future. So clearly, if you follow this advice, you're going to do better with your plant-based products. Don't assume that the consumer understands what you understand as the brand that's putting it out there.

Phil:

Talking about scientific studies, a new one shows that fiber and antioxidants can counteract the effects of junk food. It's a book. Deshaun E Barnes is the author and nutrition enthusiast Just wrote a book Counteract the Fat How Scientific Studies Have Shown That Fiber and Antioxidants Can Counteract the Psychological Effects of Junk Food and Promote Cholesterol and Weight Control Without Restriction. Have not read the book. It's the award for the longest title of any food That I have ever seen in my life. But Basically, a lot of science is here. It's worth the read. We've ordered it. We'll get back to you on it, but you know some?

Phil:

some groundbreaking research is that high-fat foods produce cholesterol related acids. They can clog arteries and raise cholesterol levels. We know that that opens the door to heart disease, and the Scientists at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine have a denit type of fiber, known as better glucans, that can counteract that effect. So this book is chock full of what you can do to counteract the effects of those foods. That doesn't mean you should go out and just eat fast food and then eat a lot of fiber antioxidants, but it's a good balance. It also talks as we've talked about here forever. Hot dogs, bacon and other Processed meats contain nitrites and over time the nitrites can open the door to pancreatic cancer by breaking down and converting It. So vitamin C and E can counteract that effect. What do you think of of this review of this book?

Sally:

I Am very interested in this book and what I do like about this approach is that it is It's not. It's not telling us, you know, the top line is not, you know, don't eat this. It's about what we can add to our diets, and, and that is a very positive thing. I've message for people to hear. It is true that only 5% in the of the people in the US are meeting the recommended amount of fiber that they need to have daily, so we really are looking at a very major fiber gap in our diets here in the United States. It is great to see some, even some big food companies like mandala's and unilever are adding More fiber to their products, adding iron to their products, adding antioxidants. This is great to see. While we do want to see those the sodium and the fat consumption coming down. It's encouraging to know that there's some science behind this. Now the shows that we can counteract that, that bad stuff we're eating.

Phil:

Absolutely, and what we're gonna do is, when we get the book, we're gonna put some of the highlights up on supermarket guru comm for all the retailers to do it and urge your Retail dieticians to get out there, get the book. Lots of great Information, it's easy to absorb and easy to understand and, again, it's all based on research. Talking about research, we talk a lot about what's going on in chat, gpt and chat box All over the place, but there's a new one That was just taken down. It was put up by the National Eating Disorders Association. It was called Tessa and The idea was it could discover coping skills for those people who have eating disorders, but they shut it down. Well, first, in March they shut down their human staffed helpline and they turned it over to the bot and It looks, like Sally, that that was a disaster.

Sally:

Yes, it does, and and it's. It's great that they tested this and realized that it wasn't working, because we all are Looking to a technology right now to replace a lot of human capabilities, but this is one area maybe where we don't We have. You know, eating disorders are the among the deadliest mental illness in our country And we've had a big increase in that since the pandemic. With what they found in this Instagram platform based Chatbot, tessa was. They found that Tessa was giving advice, like you know, going on a scale or You know, having a safe deficit of calories, like things that had to do with limiting food, and a lot of people that are experiencing eating disorders Do not. We don't want to encourage them limiting food. They need more calories. A lot of these individuals facing this challenge, and so it's good that they recognize that the chatbot And I hope that in the future, more companies that are trying to use AI will weigh where we need the human involved and where we can use the artificial intelligence.

Phil:

And Johanna Candell, the founder and CEO of the National Alliance for Eating Disorders, is quoted very astutely. When someone is reaching out for help and they're in their eating disorder, they are given content that's not only not helpful with connecting them to care, but can be triggering That can do so much more harm than good. That we're even talking about chatbots as a way to disseminate mental health treatment or prevention or mental health care at all really highlights the crisis that we're in with the mental health epidemic in the country. Very well said And to your point, sally. Before these companies start using it as it relates to our health, wellness, food, they need to do a lot more testing, i think, than they ever realized the impact this is going to have.

Phil:

Well, it's time for a new product review from the makers of Sfoglini pasta. I just love it when a brand is truly artisan, and this one is. Their pastas are extruded in bronze dyes, a production technique that Francis Ford Coppola first introduced me to, oh well, over 25 years ago when he launched his pasta line, and it really does make all the difference. Each piece of pasta is designed, told the sauce perfectly, and it cooks up like you find in a top Italian restaurant. Now this new variety is porcini mushroom that is made with organic durum semolina and a puree of porcini mushrooms, unlike some other brands that might use mushroom powder, basically as a colorant that you can't even taste. This is the real deal, made with real porcini's that deliver an earthy flavor that, frankly, is perfect with their recipe that's on their website for a mushroom sauce or just a little bit of truffle oil and a tiny bit of garlic. I tried it both ways. The pasta itself is campanelli shaped That means little bell in Italian and each piece holds the sauce beautifully. This is truly a delightful dinner. Next time I make it, i'm going to try to mix it with some vegetables and add even more mushrooms. Vegan and non-GMO retails for $5.99. Check it out at Sfoglini. com and in retailers across the country. On today's bullseye.

Phil:

I happen to love pizza, but I'm a bit of a purist Muterella maybe mushrooms, onion, ground beef or pepperoni, depending on my mood, and that's about it. So when I read the announcement that Pizza Hut last Wednesday launched their pickle pizza, i just had to hold my head. Yes, you heard me correctly. Pizza Hut's new pickle pizza consists of a hand-tossed crust. Instead of a tomato sauce, they're using buttermilk ranch base topped with cheesy, crispy, breaded chicken breast seasoned with Nashville hot seasoning Seriously, and then they had slices of white onion and spicy dill pickles on top.

Phil:

Penny Shacken, pizza Hut's head of food innovation, said in a press release that they're always looking for innovative ways to add new taste and textures to our dishes. Comment I'm not sure. This is a new, innovative way, and pickles have been gaining popularity due to their versatility. Our recipe is all about great flavor, balancing the tanginess of pickles with other classic ingredients we know taste good on our beloved pizza. She says So. Here's the good news It's only available for a limited time, thank goodness, at the New York City Pizza Hut at 932 8th Avenue, and it cost $17.99. They would have to pay me a lot more than that just to try it.

Phil:

Pizza Hut actually didn't invent pickle pizza. In a Google search, i found that the first mention of this unique delicacy delicacy at Rhinos Pizzeria in Webster, new York. Yes, pizza Hut, you're generating some weird PR about your brand, so let's leave it at that. In the meantime, maybe just focus on making great pizzas for the rest of us. The Lempert Report is all about inspiring ideas, making our industry think and challenging each other. Let's think about being the shopper and how we can bring our supermarkets and our restaurants and everybody who sells food closer to meet these shoppers' needs. I hope you'll come back to join us on next week's installment of the Lempert Report LIVE, when we focus on the biggest and the best insights and the things that really matter. Be sure to visit Supermarket guru. com throughout the week for the latest marketing analysis, issues and trends affecting our industry.

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