The Lempert Report LIVE

Exploring Food Industry Innovations and the Impact of Lifestyle Choices on Longevity

September 11, 2023 Phil Lempert Episode 94
The Lempert Report LIVE
Exploring Food Industry Innovations and the Impact of Lifestyle Choices on Longevity
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Could you imagine a world where food companies make bold moves to combat theft? What if we told you that going vegan could actually reduce your food costs? This episode is packed with riveting insights, as we tackle these topics and more. We'll also explore Tyson's autonomous food trucks, and discuss the World Resource Institute's playbook for a plant-rich diet. Plus, gear up with us for the National Food Not Phones Day coming September 19th, 2023

Buckle up as we journey into the mind of Dan Buettner, the trailblazer behind the concept of Blue Zones. We'll dive into the impact of cell phone usage on longevity, and get a sneak peek into his latest Netflix series 'Live to 100,  Secrets of the Blue Zones'. As we maneuver into the legal landscape, we break down FTC's lawsuit against Amazon and its potential implications for the grocery industry, and examine responses from competitors like Walmart, Target, and Costco. Lastly, we pick apart Kraft Heinz's strategy to engage kids through snacks and question if healthier options weren't a better choice. Tune in for an episode pulsating with thought-provoking discussions!

Phil:

Welcome to the Lempert Report LIVE. Now, I hate to say I told you so, but when last October we reported on the Paqui Chip Challenge, we warned how dangerous it was. Now guess what happened? Last week I got an important message regarding our order from Amazon. We have learned of a potentially safety issue regarding certain products that our records indicate you purchased through the Amazon website. For more details on what you should do, please contact Paqui. And now on their website they have the one chip challenge is intended for adults only, with clear and proven labeling highlighting that chip is not for children or anyone sensitive to spicy food, whereas food allergies, is pregnant or has underlying health conditions. If you remember, at that point in time, a lot of schools were banning the product. We've seen an increase in teens and other individuals not heeding these warnings as the result, while the product continues to adhere to food safety standards, out of an abundance of caution, we're actively working with our retailers to remove the product from shelves. We are also offering refunds on our single serve one chip challenge product. Seriously, do we need this stuff? I don't think so. On today's broadcast Giant Food's bold move to deter theft doesn't have CPG brands very happy. Generation Z continues to change the food world. Is Tyson's autonomous food trucks the solution or a problem? The World Resources Institute playbook to urge people to paint to eat plant rich diets? Can being vegan reduce your food costs? On Food Not Phones, it's how to a live to be a hundred years old. And on the Bullseye, it's all about Kraft Heinz trying to bribe kids to read more by giving them snacks. Un healthy ones at that. Please check out FoodNotPhones. com and join us for National Food Not Phones Day coming up real soon, on September 19th. We also had an anniversary to share. Sally Smithwick celebrates 21 years today. On the Supermarket Guru team. Sally, thank you, let's get started. So Giant Food has decided, because of the theft problem that they've got in their Washington DC store, to remove many national brand health and beauty care products from its shelves. They're replacing them with private label items at an effort to deter theft. So what's confusing to me, Sally, is that, yes, store brands are slightly cheaper than name brands, with their removing is , but I'm not sure that this solves the problem of theft. They're also hiring guards to check your cash register receipt as you leave the store. What do you think about all this?

Sally:

Well, we have been hearing a lot and we've reported on it here about theft and how this is continuing to be a problem, particularly with self-checkout being the main way that people are paying for their groceries in the supermarket, so it isn't surprising to hear this. What is confusing to me as well is, yes, how does replacing with a private label a product that is really not that much cheaper and probably as desirable, how does that solve the problem? Or is this just an opportunity to eliminate the competition by putting your private label? There is one thing that I wonder, but it is something that we all need to be paying attention to. I believe, in the food industry, that people are stealing more, and they are stealing more because they can't afford these items. And, Phil, I was looking at, I don't know if you ever look at Reddit, but I was looking at Reddit, which is a popular site where people talk about all kinds of things, and I actually searched the topic people shoplifting, and there are so many threads on there of people confessing that they are stealing items at the grocery store and they are stealing these items even though they feel bad and they feel like it is wrong. They are doing it because they just can't make their pay checks stretch enough to get what they need to get for their family.

Phil:

So maybe what we really need to do if the CPG companies are going to be serious about staying in business maybe don't give their CEOs hundred million dollar bonuses and don't have the record profits that they have been having since the pandemic. Maybe the way around this is lower your prices.

Sally:

Yes, and I also think people are a little frustrated with self-checkout, that it has now become their job to check out and bag their own groceries, and so you know that, right, there is presenting not only an avenue for people to steal, but also just something that the customer is frustrated and feeling a little cheated about. Already, your prices are high, but you want me to do the work, you want me to check out the groceries and you want me to bag them? So these are things to consider.

Phil:

Yes, and in certain stores whether it be ice cream or some of these products they are now behind Plexiglas, so you have got to go find somebody to unlock it, Then they bring it to the cash register for you, and it is just a downward spiral that we have got to get out of. So there is a new report that just came out that found that Generation Z is leading the plant-based movement. 70% of the age group of Generation Z responded they would continue to pursue a vegan diet within the next five years. They consider themselves tech-savvy, socially conscious, entrepreneurial in spirit, and primarily vegan, and 50% of vegans polled, chose the lifestyle because of its health benefits, which is really interesting. But the other thing that is leading for them is how environmentally friendly a plant-based diet can be. They are getting more fiber, more antioxidants, rich in potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamins A, C and E. So the question is are we going to really start to see veganism get even more popular?

Sally:

I believe we are, Phil, and you know it is interesting to see that Mark Stephany, the VP of Food Surface and Sales for Just Egg, who is quoted in this article, says that in the last year, the number of college and university campuses bringing our products into dining halls has grown 45% to include 115 schools. Now, that's just one company, but we think about all of the universities, and not just the universities but the public school systems. We think about what New York City has been doing within their public school system in offering vegetarian and vegan options now to these younger generations, and so they are being exposed to these foods a little bit more and so they are more willing to accept them as part of their diets. Whereas I think of growing up when I was a kid if someone had put tofu in front of me, you know I would have never tried it.

Phil:

Absolutely.

Sally:

So, yes, it is an interesting, very fast movement lately that we are seeing of people into the vegan and the vegetarian world, and I do believe that this climate conscious society is happening right now is a big part of the reason.

Phil:

And also the other side of Generation Z. According to another survey by FlavorStream found that Generation Z is ending relationships with others over arguments about dining choices. Survey was called Diner Habits. Study Finds America's Relationship turmoil. There were 1500 Americans that were surveyed. 68% of people have ended a relationship over arguing where to eat. Seriously, you know, maybe you didn't want to be in that relationship to begin with. If you know, just arguing over food is going to get you to stop that relationship, it just seems kind of weird to me.

Sally:

Yes, I wonder what those arguments about. I think about my children, and they can't really end their relationship with each other, they are brother and sister for life, whether they like it or not? They will definitely argue if we are going out to eat or what we are choosing to order in. You know they will have an argument about what we are having, but maybe this has something to do with the way that people are eating differently and how much weighs on it for them. You know, for those that we just talked about that are moving into vegan diets and vegetarian diets, you know it's health reasons, but it's also being climate conscious, it's also because of cruelty to animals or it's about saving money, and those are all very weighty issues on young people right now. So maybe that's what's making these arguments mean so much more than you think they would.

Phil:

And probably what you need to do is, before you get into a relationship, find out what foods the people like, and that will determine whether or not you know you are going to have a good relationship. So another very strange story this week, Tyson has a pilot program to autonomously ship Tyson Foods products between Dallas and San Antonio, Texas. The reason for it is the shortage of truck drivers, and they go on and on and on talking about how these autonomous trucks can be a huge benefit. I disagree with this. What do you think?

Sally:

I've been on the fence about this, Phil. It seems like this could be very useful, particularly in situations where we don't have the drivers and we need to get things across the country and get food to people. It's slightly frightening to me from a safety standpoint, and so it's concerning. But you know what? I looked up some statistics on this and I found out that autonomous vehicle accidents record a slightly lower rate of accidents compared to conventional cars, so right now they're showing that they are a little bit safer and that most of those accidents happen from human error. I also read that by 2025, that we are expecting 8 million autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles to be on our roads. So if that's true, it's coming and it's something for us to start learning to accept and get used to, I suppose.

Phil:

So part of it for me where it all falls apart is when you can have a truck that can drive itself, but somebody still has to load that truck with the Tyson products. Somebody still at the supermarket level or at the wholesaler level has to unload the truck. So typically that's the truck driver. When I see them here delivering to restaurants, I mean it's the guy in the truck who then opens up the back, takes the stuff out, brings it into the restaurant. So I'm not sure how they're going to automate that. Or are they just going to have to hire more people to do that, because we already have this major shortage of people working in supermarkets. Now if the truck driver can't deliver the product, this supermarket's gonna have to hire more people that they can't hire now.

Sally:

Yes, we'll have to see how this plays out, and I'm not sure how the Truckers Union as well is going to feel about this.

Phil:

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. So there's a new playbook. Back to talking about plant rich diets. There's a new playbook out that talks about how, in food service, restaurants have to get people to eat more plant-based. And they've got what they call the five P's product interventions that focus on modifying the dish or product itself. Placement interventions that involve changing food displays. Presentation interventions that outline ways to redesign food menus. Promotion interventions that focus on how to price and market plant rich meals more effectively. And People interventions that engage staff members to influence diners choices. So when we talk about Generation Z being planned forward, when we talk about how this playbook coming out that's teaching, we're trying to teach restaurants how to sell plant-based. I really agree with you that I think veganism and vegetarianism is gonna get a lot more attention than it's ever gotten before.

Sally:

Yes, and these are really great strategies that the World Resource Institute has put together in this playbook. If you are in the food industry, if you are a food service provider, if you are a retailer, if you have a restaurant, if you are a chef, get this playbook and take a look at some of the suggestions and strategies in here on how to encourage more plant-rich diets, which we all know that we all need, whether we continue to eat meat or not. We all know that only 10% of Americans are eating enough fruits and vegetables and so we need those. And some of these strategies are very simple, like reduce the amount of meat in a dish while increasing the amount of plants, and you can do that in very small proportions, gradually. So the strategies are not completely renovating your restaurant and turning it into a vegan restaurant from a meat-eating restaurant. These are just ways to sort of bring those plants together with the foods that you're already serving and let them all co-exist front and center.

Phil:

Exactly, and some other good news. Again, it seems like today all we're talking about is plant-based and vegan, but there's a new study that found that a vegan diet lowers food costs by 16% for overweight adults. So one of the issues that's always discussed is how a plant-based diet is more expensive, but this clinical trial in the Journal of American Medical Association found that it can actually lower food expenses. They did a sample size of 200 overweight adults between the ages of 30 and 55, over a six-month period and basically going vegan. Saying that doesn't sound like a lot of money, but that's not the point. You could save about $1.51 per day compared to the control group that ate the way they normally did. Now I know that $1.51 doesn't sound like a lot, but the reality is that it really disputes that whole argument that says that being plant-based is more expensive than not.

Sally:

Exactly, and I'm not exactly sure how we came to believe that being on a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet was more expensive, except I wonder if it's because we used to have those. There were certain types of stores that were specialty, that were vegetarian stores or health food stores, and they are more expensive, those specialty stores, and so maybe that's where the idea comes from that people associate those types of stores and having to shop there if they're going to eat vegan. But your regular supermarket is full of produce and full of beans. We're gonna talk about Dan Buettner in a moment and we'll talk about the importance of beans, but he talks about how beans are about $2 a pound, so that's a very inexpensive way to get a very healthy food in your diet daily is what he recommends, and also it's not more expensive to eat this way, but you are making huge improvements in your body mass index and lowering your cholesterol and preventing diabetes.

Phil:

And also researchers from the Massachusetts General Brigham Healthcare System found that providing plant-based foods could be a useful strategy to prevent childhood obesity in kids from food insecure families and then set them up for better health when they become adults. And it's really important because right now, 41.9% of Americans are obese 41% so we really need to do something if we're going to change this. So, on Food Not Phones, today we've all heard about the blue zones that Sally just referred to those areas where people live to a hundred years old or more. Today we're going to explore how most people hope that they'll live a long, healthy and happy life, but still are able to travel the world and attempt to reverse engineer the formula for longevity. That's exactly what Dan Buettner did, beginning in the early 1980s. He collaborated with National Geographic and scoured the globe in pursuit of places where people live much longer than average and created the concept of blue zones. And there's an impact on cell phone usage as well. Sally, as you said, you're a fan of blue zones. What do we need to know?

Sally:

Well, Phil, I just watched this Netflix series how to Live to 100 Wherever you Are in the World that Dan has just released, and it is absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend anyone watching it. It's very inspirational. He goes to these communities throughout the episodes that he has studied where the longest living adults can be found and the highest concentration of centenarians, and throughout the series he walks us through four key components. They are eating wisely, primarily a plant-based diet, moving naturally, like gardening and walking. Having a positive outlook, which also kind of includes having purpose in life, and for some it means having a faith-centered life. But here's the last one, and this is one that really stood out for me and it really stood out for Dan too. He said many times throughout the series it's not just the diet, it's really more the human connections that you make with people, and I love the story he is telling within these communities. One of my favorites, Phil, was in Okinawa, where we have many of these older people living. They have a tradition of forming Maoi's, and Maoi's are socially committed groups that get together on a regular basis. They sing and dance to it. They sing and dance together, they play games, they have conversation, but the other thing they do is that they pool their money together so that if anybody runs into any hardship for any reason, then this little social circle gives the money that they pull together to help them. And to me that is such a shining example of community and also helping people to not become lonely, to not become isolated, which in this series Dan Buettner talks about the epidemic of loneliness that we have here in America, and he talks about it as basically taking years and years off of your life In fact, 15 years, taking 15 years off of your life. So we obviously can take some inspiration from these communities that it is important for us to connect with our families and our friends, and what we are trying to do here through our initiative Food Not Phones is we're trying to encourage people, when they gather around for mealtimes just at that time of the day, to put your phone down and to have face to face interaction and see what sort of impact that has on how you feel all day and probably a significant impact on your physical health as well.

Phil:

Absolutely. And you know we're all in this together and that's the most important thing. And when I say all in this, it's life, and the more that you can join with others, more you can celebrate with others the best. And you know, don't forget Food Not Phones. First day is September 19th. Join with us, along with the industry leaders, the FMI Foundation's Family Meals Movement, acosta Group, Hy-Vee, FreshDirect, That's it, Shuttlerock, and the Association of Retail and Consumer Professionals. For more information, go to foodnotphones. com. Thanks, Sally. On Lost in the Supermarket, I sat down with the CEO of the Chamber of Progress about the monumental FTC lawsuit against Amazon and what it could mean for every grocer in America. For the complete episode, just go to SupermarketGuru. com. Click on Lost in the Supermarket and you can hear the whole episode. But here's just a little bit about what he had to say. If we take a look at Amazon, Amazon sells a lot of grocery products both on Amazon. com and obviously with Whole Foods. I just have to wonder if it is so linked to Amazon Prime that the effect that Walmart Plus will have Hy-Vee Plus. All these grocery retailers have basically copied Amazon Prime and put in their own products, if you would, that offer delivery, that have other services bundled with their $99 or $129 package for all these groceries as well. If the FTC is able to do this with Amazon, is the next step for FTC to go to Walmart and everybody else that has these kinds of programs and try to do the same thing there.

Adam:

I don't think that's their agenda, but I think you're raising a really interesting point, which is that Amazon's competitors in kind of this mega retailer space if you think of it as a market but I think it's probably Amazon's competitors are broader than that. They're all doing something similar Walmart, target, costco, they all have their version of Amazon Prime. You sign up for Walmart Plus. You get access to things yes, you get all the Walmart benefits but then you get access to Paramount Plus streaming service, which is roughly analogous to having access to Amazon Prime Video. I think these bundles are competing with each other. They're understandably trying to vie for customer loyalty and make their bundles sooner and more attractive than the other bundles. The fact that they are competing with each other frankly undercuts the FTC's case that there's something about the Amazon Prime bundle that's anti-competitive. If it was anti-competitive, you wouldn't see Walmart and Target competing with Prime.

Phil:

On today's Bullseye. Kraft Heinz, in my opinion, has crossed the line. They say that they want to help kids read while eating snacks. According to Mashed, the company has created fundamental textbooks and the best part is that they're free. That's the good news. The company has books with snacks tucked away on the inside. That's the bad news. For instance, their Jiggleometry book, a play on geometry, teaches kids about shapes and non-shapes. Tucked inside of the book is a container of Jell-O. The book Nibbolonomy is about astronomy, helping kids learn about the universe. Inside this book is a cup of Kraft macaroni and cheese. Not sure what that has to do with the universe. There's a book called Stackonomics about economics and has a lunchable inside of it. Slurp Story, a funny book about history, has a slurpable Capri Sun inside. Kraft Heinz is donating $10 to the non-profit organization. First Book, every fundamental textbook that's ordered and again, keep in mind they're free $10 goes to the non-profit. Kraft Heinz is also donating $50,000 to the organization. Yes, I think that Kraft Heinz is doing a service for our kids, but seriously, can't they do it with healthier, better for you foods? There's no reason, with their vast portfolio, that they couldn't choose foods that are less processed and that kids would still like, Seriously, Jell-O. Thanks so much for joining us and we'll see you back here next week same time, same place and have a great week.

Sally:

Be sure to visit SuperMarketGuru. com for the latest marketing analysis issues and trends, and don't forget to join us back here next Monday at 2.30 pm Eastern for more.

The Impact of Theft and Veganism
Promoting Plant-Based Diets and Longevity
FTC Lawsuit Impact on Grocery Retailers