The Lempert Report LIVE

Supermarket Battle for Thanksgiving and the Meta Lawsuit: An In-depth Insight

October 30, 2023 Phil Lempert Episode 101
The Lempert Report LIVE
Supermarket Battle for Thanksgiving and the Meta Lawsuit: An In-depth Insight
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Could the Thanksgiving dinner table become a battleground for supermarket giants? That's the question we're exploring today as we delve into the fierce competition between retail titans Walmart, Aldi, and Costco. We'll cover everything from meal packages to slashed prices, and assess what this means for your holiday shopping. The conversation doesn't stop there, we also unpack the Farm Bureau's report on the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal and Cargill's Future of the Turkey Study to understand the holiday meal trends.

The second half of our episode takes a decidedly serious tone as we dissect the controversial lawsuit against Meta. With allegations of addictive features impacting children's mental health, the stakes couldn't be higher. We also shift gears to discuss the diet and nutrition of Travis Kelce, with insights from his personal chef Kumar Ferguson. How does an athlete eat for optimal performance and how can brands stay authentic when aligning with athletes? We'll answer all this and more, ending with a deep dive into current marketing trends from SupermarketGuru. It's a jam-packed episode, so buckle up and get ready for an enlightening discussion!

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Phil:

Welcome to the Lemp Report Live. Happy almost Halloween. Now, I'm not sure if you caught SNL this weekend, but if you didn't, they had a great skit parroting brand dresser who's the president of SAG Aftra on her request for kids not to dress up like characters in the movies in order to support the strike. As a member of SAG Aftra, I can tell you that I do support the strike, but think she's gone a bit too far when it comes to Halloween costumes for kids. Again, check out the clip on YouTube or just in our show notes and judge for yourself. A quick programming note next week, TLR will broadcast live on Tuesday, November 7. On today's episode, Walmart, Aldi and Costco begin the battle over Thanksgiving. Hybrid food halls are a thing. A panel of so-called scientists are defending ultra-processed foods. Really? And on Food not Phones, Meta faces a lawsuit in fact a couple lawsuits over our kids' mental health. And, on the bullseye, a new brand of Kansas barbecue foods that Swifties will love. Let's get started. So, Sally, when we look, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Walmart, Aldi and Costco want to start a rumble. First, Walmart came out and they said 92% of their customers are concerned about inflation and the impact on the holidays. As a result, what they're saying is not necessarily what they're doing. What they're saying is they're going to remove inflation from two traditional Thanksgiving meal package options that you can buy either online or in store. And when I say remove inflation, yes, they're doing it on these two packages, but not across the board. We're on that in a minute. One of the options comes with ingredients to create a Thanksgiving meal from scratch and the other comes with ready-to-bake options. They're available starting November 1st, this Wednesday through December 26th. And also Walmart included the notice that they're going to close their stores on Thanksgiving for the fourth year, on the road to give their employees time to celebrate. Costco has gone even further, where they're selling a huge Thanksgiving dinner includes five-pound turkey breast, stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, mac and cheese, sweet corn, green beans, dinner rolls, cranberry relish and apple pie. It sells for $199.99. Works out to roughly $25 a person. If you have eight people now, you've got to place an order for it by November 5th and the kits will be delivered between November 8th and 17th. Lot of food, and Thanksgiving is not till the 25th. So where are you going to store that if you get it on November 8th? Good luck, I'm not sure. I'm not sure that it's really a great deal, except if you have lots of storage room. My choice and then I want to get your opinion, Sally is what Aldi is doing. Aldi has announced that it's slashing prices on Thanksgiving items by up to 50%. What I like about this, versus the meal kit idea, is you can pick and choose what you want with these kids. You've gotta take what they've got in it and in the case of Aldi, everything from pumpkin pie mix to pie crust, to cranberries, to prosciutto, to cheddar cheese and so on. So I think it's really interesting. But the good news is, according to the Farm Bureau, that we should be able to pay less for Thanksgiving turkey this November because there's an improved supply. If you remember, last Thanksgiving we had the problem with bird flu. 60 million birds had to be culled. This year so far there is a bird flu epidemic. It hasn't hit strong yet it's in the hundreds of thousands of birds, which is very containable. So if in fact, it doesn't proceed. What the Farm Bureau is saying is the price is down so far 22% this year over last year and it can go down even further. The full details on what a Thanksgiving feast according to the Farm Bureau and they've done this, I wanna say, for like 27 years. It'll be released on November 15th. Last year they compared for three years. It's an average cost of 10 people. In 2020, it was $46.90. In 2021, $53.31. In 2022, $64.05. And hopefully it'll be down less. And what they include, very different than Costco or Walmart a 16 pound turkey, 14 ounce bag of stuffing mix. Two frozen pie crusts, half a pint of whipping cream, one pound of frozen peas I didn't even realize people still ate peas A dozen dinner rolls, miscellaneous ingredients to prepare the meal, a 30 ounce can of pumpkin pie mix. One gallon of whole milk. Three pounds of sweet potatoes, one pound veggie tray. And cargill just issued their report Cargill's Future of the Turkey Study, and what they found is 86% of consumers report that they're planning to purchase whole turkey birds for Thanksgiving meals. This year, previous year, previous two or three years. It wasn't the whole turkey, it was part, and they identified that 47% of consumers are worried about having too many leftovers when they buy a whole turkey. So don't buy the whole turkey. If you're concerned about using the leftovers, why buy the turkey? So what do you think of these deals? Are we gonna have a war between supermarkets on Thanksgiving?

Sally:

Well, it sounds like there's going to be a lot of options out there. And I mean, who doesn't love leftovers? That's the best part about Thanksgiving. In our house we love it. First off, I really find it very hard to believe. You know, according to this Farm Bureau report, that you can actually only spend $6.50 a person for a Thanksgiving meal. We are finding that hard to do right now for just a regular meal that a family is having. So that seems a little unrealistic to me. But I think that the Walmart option I'm excited to see what they have to offer. I haven't seen what it's gonna cost and exactly what is going to be in it. The Costco package like you said, you need storage for that, but for someone who doesn't really like to cook all of these items from scratch, this could be a great deal. But I'm with you, phil, on Aldi the 50% across the board on a lot of the items that they're selling during the holidays. A lot of those items are things that you can use to bake their ingredients either it's butter, it's vanilla, it's things that you need to cook your own food, and seeing those items significantly lower than they normally are, I really believe it's gonna be very appealing to consumers this year and that they're gonna end up saving a lot more money going that route.

Phil:

I agree with you. And also, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go to Aldi and not just get those ingredients for Thanksgiving, but there's other things that I can buy at 50% off and keep them in the cupboard. Or even with butter, I'll freeze butter, I'll wrap it in aluminum foil, then put it in a freezer bag Ziploc freezer bag and then you can put it in your freezer. And with these kind of discounts, why not stock up? It's a great time to stock up as well. So from the Wall Street Journal come to report that food halls are rapidly multiplying in the suburbs as developers aim to capitalize on the rise of hybrid work and the foodie culture. Now, what's interesting? Unlike what you find in shopping malls, these food halls are basically not, you know, franchisees of Burger King or Anteanis or Cinnabon. These are local restaurants that are participating in these food halls. And what's interesting is last year there were about 120 of these food halls throughout the nation. Now there's at least 364, according to Kushman and Wakefield, the realtor group, and a lot of them used to be in New York and now you have them in Omaha, Nebraska, Grapevine, Texas, Reno Public Market, Selma, North Carolina. And what's so interesting about this is unlike their typical food hall. There's been focused on lunch. They're really focused on getting young families for dinner.

Sally:

Yes, this is really cool. You know, we've heard talk about when the shutdown happened and more people started working from home or in hybrid situations, that these food halls in the suburban area started to appeal to those people that are working from home. And imagine you're all of a sudden working from home and you want to go out and have some lunch. You might want to be in that environment. That feels like a community and it feels like people. You're in other people, absolutely yes, they're sharing seating and so it does sound very appealing in that way and for families. I know as a mom myself who has children that eat very. My two children eat very differently. I have one that's a vegetarian and one that's not, and so it's fun for us to go to the food hall. Here in Nashville we have a really great one called Assembly Food Hall, and it's fun for us to go there because there is something for everyone there.

Phil:

It is, it's convenient, it's less expensive and what this report also pointed out is some punsents are saying that when people go out they want white tablecloth experiences. Well, not everybody does, especially if you've got kids, and also that white tablecloth experience costs a lot more than the white tablecloth experience. And it costs a lot more than going to a food hall. And I was just in Philadelphia for Expo East, and across the way from the convention hall is one of the most famous food halls in Philadelphia and when you walk into it there's a lot of excitement. It's great. You have all these aromas, you have all these people enjoying food. So, to your point, it's a lot about the community as well. All these food halls remain true to their community and have local restaurants and local foods. I think it's going to continue to grow. Once they start bringing in the Dunkin' Donuts franchises, it goes downhill. So I am mortified from a report in the Guardian. There was just a panel of scientists. Three out of five scientists on an expert panel suggest that ultra processed foods are being unfairly demonized and they have ties to the world largest manufacturers of the products. So you know we've talked about it here. There's been a lot of studies that have linked these ultra processed foods, including ice cream, sodas, ready meals to poor health, including an increased risk of cancer, weight gain and heart disease. The global consumption is on the rise of these products and these products now make up half of the average diet both here in the US and in the UK, and this group that was organized by the Science Media Center had headlines like ultra processed foods good as homemade fare. Ultra processed foods can be good for you, say nutritionists. Ultra processed foods can sometimes be better for you, experts claim. And then they go on to talk about the fact that these three experts have been funded by major food companies. Seriously, how can they get away with this? Because it's just confusing to consumers. We've got the science. We see consumers moving away from ultra processed foods, which is great. We see food brands moving away from ultra processed foods and cleaning up their labels and their ingredients and their processes, and then you have something like this that consumers are probably just sitting there scratching their heads saying what's going on. So, Sally, what's going on?

Sally:

Right, phil. It is a shame to hear experts speak this way about these foods, especially since lately we can't get away from research and studies that are coming out that are in the news that are about how highly addictive ultra processed foods are. Some science is saying that that ultra processed foods are as addictive as smoking, so that's pretty serious. We're hearing about how they contribute to a range of diseases, including heart disease, including diabetes, including chronic obesity, so we know that these foods are not playing a great role in our lives and in our diets. On the other hand, processed foods can play a role, sometimes in our diets, in moderation, and sometimes they are necessary and affordable for some families that cannot afford to purchase more expensive products, and sometimes these processed foods are fortified with ingredients that make them a little bit better. But to hear scientists saying that ultra processed foods are not bad for you, that they can be better for you than other foods, is irresponsible and reckless, and we need to make sure that consumers understand where this information is coming from and to be able to know how credible that information is.

Phil:

Absolutely. And our friend Marion Nestle, on Food Politics in her newsletter every day talks about the need for, whether it's a research study or a panel like this, that really is very upfront about who's funding it. And she does that every single day and I have to tell you something we need people like Marion Nestle out there really exposing who's paying these dollars to get this information out there for them, to your point, being able to determine whether or not this is quality information or it's certainly somewhat skewed. On Food Not Phones. Today we're reporting and discussing the fact that 41 states are suing Meta, previously Facebook, claiming that Instagram and Facebook are addictive. What's up with this lawsuit?

Sally:

Yes, Phil. 41 states and DC are suing Meta and they are saying that they have built in features that are addictive for children and unhealthy for children, that these features are contributing to mental health issues among young people. One specific mental health issue pointed out through Instagram is the rise in eating disorders in particularly young girls, by what they are seeing on Instagram and Facebook. These claims are saying that the company was aware of what the consequences could be of these actions they were taking in these features and how they were collecting data and children's privacy was being exploited. They're saying that the company knew and moved forward regardless.

Phil:

And when we look at this complaint, it's a federal complaint 233 pages. It alleges that the company engaged in a scheme to exploit young users for profit. In all fairness, in 2021, when that Facebook whistleblower exposed these reports, they've unveiled numerous policy and product changes intended to make its apps safer for kids, including giving parents tools to track activity, building in warnings that urge teams to take a break from social media and implementing stricter privacy settings for default for young users. But the reality is, how many people are looking at that? How many parents are really using these kinds of tools? And, if nothing else, this lawsuit will hopefully bring all of social media into a realm of trying to help parents, not to worth them. And we have another Food not Phones event coming up, don't we?

Sally:

Yes, we do, and I'm very excited for this challenge because I've been prepping my family. We are already in the habit fill of no one using their phones when we have dinner together, and which was really harder for the adults, actually, than it was the children, but very excited about Thanksgiving coming up because we're gonna have some other family members joining us and we're gonna put a little basket up on our counter and we're just gonna have everybody put their phones in that basket and then enjoy our meal together.

Phil:

That's great. So if you want more information about Thanksgiving challenge, just go to FoodNotPhones. com or check us out on social media to get the latest information on the Next Food Not Phones Challenge. Thanks, allie. On today's bullseye, Kansas City's barbecue roots can be traced back to the early 20th century, when Henry Perry, known as the father of Kansas City barbecue, began selling smoked meats from a cart in the garment district. His operation eventually moved to a permanent location, becoming the city's first barbecue restaurant. Unlike other barbecue traditions that may focus on a set of meat for example in Texas, if not all about beef brisket, Kansas City barbecue is known for its diverse range of smoked meats, including pork, beef, chicken and even fish. One of the most distinctive features of Kansas City barbecue is the sauce. It's typically thick, tomato-based and both sweet and tangy. Often made with molasses and brown sugar, this sauce is liberally applied to the smoked meats. Following Henry Perry's pioneering establishment, many other barbecue joints opened up and Kansas City soon became the major hub for barbecue enthusiasts. In fact, the American Royal World Series of Barbecue hosted every year in Kansas City is the world's largest barbecue competition. It attracts teams from around the world and has been instrumental in promoting the city's barbecue culture. While Kansas City barbecue has deep-rooted traditions, many modern-day chefs and pitmasters have introduced innovative techniques and flavors. Today we even find dishes that incorporate global flavors while maintaining the essence of traditional barbecue. When we walk up and down the aisles and scour the supermarket shelves, we find tons of Kansas City barbecue sauces from restaurants Gates Barbecue, Arthur Bryant, Joe's Kansas City by the way, that's Travis Kelce's favorite. More on him in a bit Fiorello's Jack Stack, Burnt Finger and brands like Cowtown and, of course, KC Masterpiece, which was originally founded in Kansas City but is not associated with any restaurant. Entered Travis Kelce, you know the guy who's become a multimedia sensation both for his football prowess as well as dating Taylor Swift, and he's introduced a new line of refrigerated entrees Travis Kelce's kitchen. It's inspired by Kansas City's most iconic flavors and exclusively being sold at select Walmart stores. The new line features seven dishes, including bacon, mac and cheese, which is a Kansas City classic, with jumbo macaroni noodles coated in a decadent cheddar cheese sauce infused with bacon morsels, brisket, burnt ends and barbecue sauce that has cuts of beef slow cooked, caramelized and topped with a signature Kansas City barbecue sauce. Barbecue, baked beans with burnt ends, baked black beans and white kidney beans topped with brown sugar, bacon and onions that are then paired with seasoned beef brisket burnt ends. Then there's brisket burnt ends with mac and cheese, which is a combination of jumbo macaroni and a cheddar cheese sauce, complemented with charred and seasoned beef brisket burnt ends. They're big on burnt Slice brisket in barbecue sauce, which is brisket infused with the rich and smoky aroma of Kansas City style barbecue sauce. Then there's barbecue baked beans with sausage, baked black beans, sorry and white kidney beans, which are enhanced with a smoky barbecue flavor, sweetened with brown sugar and enriched with bacon and aromatic onions, then complemented by tender pork sausage. Then there's sausage and meatball marinara with peppers and onions, sliced pork sausage with cheesy pork and beef meatballs in a marinara sauce with bell peppers and red onions. Now they retail between $8.17 and $12.78 each, depending on the variety. I have to be fair. I haven't tasted the entrees. This was just announced last week so I can't comment on the flavor or taste. I just received a couple hours ago the ingredients and the nutritionals. More on those in a bit. But based on the current fervor over the swift Kelsey romance and seeing what it's done to the attendance and viewership of Kelsey's games, not to mention the viewership spike for SNL's guest appearances. I would say this is a brilliant move by Walmart. This past April, Kelce also hosted and curated Kelce Jam, a food and music festival that highlighted the best food vendors in Kansas City and, of course, a special from his go-to Joe's Kansas City barbecue. If Walmart promotes these products properly, I can only imagine the new Swifties obsessed coming into Walmart perhaps for the very first time. Here's the problem and potential downside. The athlete's well-known diet consists of steaks, chops and chicken and, according to his personal chef, Kumar Ferguson, everything he eats is for fuel, comfort, hydration and nutrition. Kelsey even told the Food Network that Ferguson, who's a childhood friend, has helped him keep on the right path by eating three fresh meals a day and has helped him in nutrition and being able to eat better, cleaner and the right ingredients. His personal diet criteria doesn't translate to these fresh meals. The mac and cheese, the first one that I described back panel that I received shows that one serving, which is 8 ounces half of the 16 ounce package contains 350 calories. That's great, but it has 18 grams of fat, 1130 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbs. The good news is that it also has 13 grams of protein and no added sugars, but I wish that the recipe stuck to Travis' own diet regimen and clean up the ingredients, especially as they put his picture on the back of the package. If they do that, the brand could be you. Authenticity is key.

Sally:

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

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