The Lempert Report LIVE

Elon Musk vs U.N., Phygital, Throwback Menus

November 08, 2021 Phil Lempert Episode 9
The Lempert Report LIVE
Elon Musk vs U.N., Phygital, Throwback Menus
Show Notes Transcript

Today its about money – Elon Musk vs. the UN, is the latest foodservice trend throwback menus (I hope not) a frank discussion about why there is so much misinformation about the foods we eat and why the shortage of fresh water is creating serious issues for us all – and more! 

Phil:

Welcome to the Lempert Report LIVE. Now, today, it's all about money. Elon Musk versus the UN. Is the latest food service trend throwback menus. (I certainly hope not) A Frank discussion about why there's so much misinformation about the foods we eat and why the shortage of fresh water is creating serious issues for us all and even more stay tuned for an important bullseye and to ensure you type your comments and questions in the chat. And we'll take those at the end of the broadcast. We bring you our unique insights on grocery retail, sustainability e-commerce new product reviews and consumer trends. Sally, what are the issues to discuss this week?

Sally:

Hi, Phil. Um, I'd like to start with this, a great story that we just read about Elon Musk, David Beasley , the director of the UN's world food program has asked some of the wealthiest people in the world to step up and help 42 million people from save them from starvation. So he specifically reached out to Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and Elon Musk did reply.

Phil:

What did he say?

Sally:

Well, he said that he, that, that Fort that's $6 billion was only 2% of his net worth, which is three over 300 billion. And he also said that he would, that he would consider it if , um, they were to be, if they were to publish for everyone, to see the accounting of how the money was going to be used.

Phil:

And, you know , uh , the other thing that happened on Tuesday is I'm at the UN , um , not, sorry, not the UN, but the climate summit in Glasgow , um, in front of president Biden, other world leaders. And so on Jeff Bezos hit the stage and he said that he is pledging $2 billion to restoring natural habitats and transforming food systems , um, as well. So what I, what I love , um, is there's a quote that Beto said, I was told that seeing the earth from space changes the lens through which you view the world, looking back at earth from up there, the atmosphere seems so thin. The world's so finite and so fragile now in this critical year. And what we all know is the decisive decade. We must all stand together to protect our world. So if we got 2 billion from Bizo , so we've got 2 billion now from , um, Elon Musk , um, we need a couple others to step up and maybe we could actually cure world hunger. Wouldn't that be great? That would be

Sally:

Fantastic.

Phil:

So what's next on our agenda.

Sally:

Next up, we just read about a study showing that , um, about 890,000 people a year are dying from air pollution. And the problem is that they're looking at how much of this air pollution is coming from food production. Now, generally we associate emissions with transportation and that is where a lot of, a lot of this pollution is coming from. But in addition , uh, the university of Minnesota looked at all of the stages of food production , um, in agriculture. And they they're seeing that it has contributed greatly to death globally.

Phil:

Yeah. And , and the report shows that about 27% of all air pollution is coming from our food supply. So, you know, we hear a lot of discussion about, you know, reducing carbon and , and all these other things. Um, you know, last week we talked about , um, water , um, and , and the importance of water we're going to talk more about today. Matter of fact, as well. Um, and it's really, you know, it's really a serious issue that I think that the average American consumer isn't thinking about air and water , um , sure. We hear about pollution climate change, but I think we've got to be a little bit more direct when it comes to these issues, if we're going to affect change.

Sally:

Yes, I agree. And I think we've got to be clear about what solutions, what types of solutions contribute the most. And something interesting that I was just reading and thinking about is that we look, we look towards technology and technological solutions to mitigate this problem, and that's great, but it really isn't enough to make the kind of difference we need to make. What we really need to look at is reducing , um, our production. Um, and, and that is what is going to make the biggest difference.

Phil:

Yeah, I agree. Um, so we found this story, or you found the story from the Denver post that has made me cringe a little bit , um, that , that one of the trends that we're seeing that started through the pandemic were throwback menus. And what I mean by that is that a lot of comfort foods , um, took the replacement of some of the fancier foods that the restaurants are selling. And the reason for that simply was they , they were doing takeout and a lot of those fancier meals that they were doing , um, just didn't hold up well during takeout . So for you, what are some of the scariest throwback menu ?

Sally:

Well, some of the things that I've seen that might scare me the most are , um, they're bringing back deviled eggs and a white bread sandwiches, bologna sandwiches in particular. And the bologna sandwiches really crack me up because that was my favorite food when I was a little girl. And I remember when they came out with the idea that this dye , this red dye that was in bologna was harmful. My mother decided that I could not eat baloney anymore, and it was devastating,

Phil:

But, but when I look at the way they're serving bologna , now it's fried topped with mustard, Mayo, iceberg, lettuce, and potato chips , um, in, in white bread, this is, this is not a good, healthy , um, direction that we're taking. I've never been a fan of deviled eggs , uh, to your point. And also you clued me into something that I have never tried and, and hopefully never will a Frito pies. What's a Frito pie.

Sally:

Um, I would describe a Frito pie as a , basically a taco salad with Fritos.

Phil:

Yes.

Sally:

And it's, it's , uh , I've seen it, it's popular here in the south, in Tennessee as a bar food, which is very much in line with this, with this article, because they're talking about , um, these foods that people want to get, want to have when they clock out of work, what they want to go and munch on and have cocktails with. So, so yeah, Frito pie makes a good happy hour dish, I suppose.

Phil:

Yeah. But when we look at the next story, we're going to talk about , um, we should be banning Frito pie pies , and a lot of these other things , uh, because you know, we, we have the story that talks about one of the biggest risks as it relates to COVID that has been proven now over, over the past year and a half is obesity. Um, let's, let's talk a little bit about that and you know, what we need to do, because when we look at the stats, it is unbelievable 40 right now, 42% of American adults, about a hundred million people had obesity before the pandemic, and now three quarters of American adults are overweight or have obesity, roughly one in five kids are now obese. What's going on here?

Sally:

Yeah. These statistics are very alarming. And we've also heard that two thirds of the cases of COVID that required hospitalization were from people that had issues with obesity , um, diabetes, hypertension, those issues that are diet. Um, I think that, I think that what we're hearing from researchers, that's very interesting and changes the conversation a lot is that they're saying that obesity is not a disease that is about willpower. They're saying this is something we need to look at as our society has created this system where this unhealthy food is so widely available to us, there are people get less sleep. People are more stressed out. And so looking at those issues, maybe we can do something, but we are one of the countries that is a little bit behind in this. Some other countries have stepped up and, and set in place, some policies to , um, to tackle obesity.

Phil:

You look at what, what happened with the UK , um, with, with Boris Johnson who had COVID , um, went to the hospital and, and discovered that it's , it was as serious as it was for him and his girlfriend because of his obesity. Um, and he's really turned on a dime. He was never concerned about health as far as it as administration. And now when you look at what they're instituting in the, in the UK, it's great. Uh, probably the , the most important quote from this story came from Dan Glickman, our former ag secretary , uh, someone , um, who we consider a friend who's been on farm food facts, a number of times , uh , before the USF RA , um , webcast podcast that we do. Um, he , he talked about the country's leading voices on Corona virus, including Dr. Fowchee. They don't focus on the underlying conditions. What they focus is on vaccines. They're not talking about how you can prevent , um, the deadly COVID-19 hospitalization and his quote is they hardly ever talk about prevention. It's missing. It's a gigantic gap in the discussion about how healthcare relates to COVID and how it relates to the prevention of disease. Now, Tom, Vilsack the current secretary. Um , this is his second round as being secretary is saying the same thing and what he said , um , which I didn't realize, which was shocking to me. The government spends $150 billion a year on treating people with diabetes. And that's more than the entire budget of the USDA. So when you look at these kinds of numbers , um, it's, it's dumbfounding and what this report also found , um, which I didn't know either is that they looked at snap recipients , uh, versus non snap recipients and what they bought in the store. So what we hear, which isn't true, what we constantly hear is that those people are on snap benefits are buying all kinds of junk food. Well, it's not true. Um, what they're doing is they're buying very similar foods to what people who are not on snap buys with one exception. And that one exception is soda. That's where, you know, those extra calories are coming from for these snap benefit people. And , um, we really need to do something , uh, not only because of COVID, but when we, when we see three quarters of Americans or now overweight or obese , um, that, that can't be ignored,

Sally:

Agreed, fell . And it, and , and there are a couple of things that we are seeing happen. It just, we just need more. One thing that I am excited to see happen is that we are bringing back some of the school nutrition standards that we lost in the last administration. And, you know, we know we, you and I both have appreciated very much what Michelle Obama did with her program at getting healthier foods in the schools. And so that, that's a , that's a good step.

Phil:

Yeah. It's a great step. Um, and our last insight for today is , is a new word to my vocabulary.

Sally:

Yes, it's, it's kind of a clunky word, but I think an important one for all of us paying attention to retail trends. Phygital , um, this is a word to describe connecting the physical shopping world and the digital world. And , uh , there's a lot of, there's a lot to follow right now, as far as this trend.

Phil:

So, you know, to me, this is a throwback, this is what we did with the national grocers association and Frankie Pasquel , I don't know, 10, 12 years ago on second life. That's what we were trying to do is to connect , um , the digital world with the physical world , um, in a supermarket environment. And, you know, maybe we were just too early for that.

Sally:

Yes. I agree, Phil. I mean, we're talking a lot these days about , um, about live shopping, which has apparently been really successful in, in the Asian marketplace. And it is now starting to come over here. Um, but, but it's really exciting because people want a personal, we're hearing more and more about this in surveys telling us that people want a more personal shopping experience, but if they're not going to be going to the stores as much in person, we have to find a way to give that to them through our laptop laptops and our phones.

Phil:

Yeah. A big challenge, but it can be done. It can be done. So we have to bring back second life. Um , also a quick mention, you know, I've been in New York as most of you can tell. Um , I haven't been in our studio, so we haven't been doing new product reviews, but I'll be back in our studio next week. And our new product reviews will start up again , uh, right then. So thanks Allie. Thank you . So for today's lumper report, we're going to take a different look. We're going to look very carefully at fresh water, according to a new report, feeding ourselves thirsty that was produced by the sustainability non-profit series. 70% of the world's fresh water supply is now being used by, you know, the food industry, the report lists the water scarcity strategies of 38 food and beverage companies, and then graded them based on governance, corporate oversight, risk assessment, reduction targets, and financial support for growers. Now, the score was based on a scale of zero to a hundred. This is an important report for all of us. And the demand for fresh water is expected to increase by 20 to 30% by the year 2050, according to the United nations, the average score of these companies, just 45, the highest score was Coca Cola at 90 followed by Unilever and Anheuser Busch InBev who both received scores of 83, followed by Nestle with a score of 80 now consumption of meat and animal products account for 27% of the world's total water footprint, according to food print, a nonprofit sustainability firm . So it's not a surprise that among the lowest scores were JBS 12 Purdue , 11 Sanderson farms, six Pilgrim's pride for the meat producer with the highest score of 37 was Tyson the lowest score on the list. Monster beverage received their score of zero. Interestingly enough, 53% of the companies rated actually link executive compensation to water performance goals. And that's up from just 11% back in 2015, clearly the boardrooms are listening and paying attention. The series report goes on to say that abundant clean water is essential for food production as an ingredient for cleaning and growing raw material. And as the principal agent in sanitizing plant machinery, however, the vast majority of the food sector water used in water pollution footprint is associated with ag supply chains. What are risks from these supply chains include agriculture runoff, impaired ecosystems, regulatory risks, and limited local access to water. While more accompanies are assessing what are risks in their ag supply chains, the scope and rigor of these assessments is often limited 87% of the companies they report analyzed, provided educational support to farmers to encourage the adoption of practices, to reduce water use and impacts up from 70% in 2019 and just 32% in 2015, more than half the companies, 55% provide direct financial incentive to farmers to encourage these practices. That's up from 40% in 2019 and 11% in 2015, this analysis can also help food companies more effectively manage their water risks, which is critically important to their bottom line with the intensifying negative effects of climate change, placing an unprecedented strain on our world's water supply and quality along with steadily increasing demand for water intensive goods from a rising global population companies must evaluate, they must manage. They must mitigate the water risks in order to offer a competitive returns to their investors over the long-term the other day, I had a great discussion with Dr. Tia rains while the smartest people in the food world that I know about the consumer confusion, dilemma on nutrition and ingredient information, and what we need to do about it as an industry for the complete interview, just go to retail, dieticians.com , but here's a highlight of what she had to say. So my first question is what do you both see as the most confusing issues for consumers when reading food labels to you ? Why don't you go first?

Tia:

Well, first off you alluded to this when you started that, I think there is a lot of misinformation out there that's being driven by non-experts and food and nutrition propagating their opinions, as well as maybe other opinions that they've heard that they are amplifying out there. And I think it leads to a lot of confusion with people in terms of what's fact and what's myth or, or an extension of, of misinformation. So I think that is what's driving a lot of this confusion. And unfortunately I think that spills over into responses by whether it's the mainstream media, but also retailers. Uh , and even the food industry has a role to play here. For example, the whole clean label movement, I think, is a response to misinformation where the industry has reacted by defining what should be on a food label when science should be, what's defining what's on that food label. And , and unfortunately we're at a place where science isn't leading the narrative right now. It's , uh, it's in the backseat . And I hope to change that.

Phil:

And now it's time for the bulls-eye bike delivery seems to be all the rage, especially here in New York city, where us startups that have been successful in the EU and other parts of the world are raising crazy money from VC funds, go puff gorilla, and others are challenging. The traditional services like Uber eats and door dash to deliver groceries faster. The promise is 15 minutes or less. The concept is that new Yorkers want a pint of ice cream or diapers at 2:00 AM, and just don't want to walk the block to a corner bodega themselves await New York city has had bike deliveries from grocers and other food purveyors for my entire lifetime. So is this really a trend or is it a fad or is it a way for venture capitalists to make money quickly and see the service disappear as quickly as it was born? Bike delivery has become high tech with the old bike. Usually surrounded with plastic bags, wrapped around the seats to avoid having to buy a new seat. Since it's been so worn out from use and weather conditions, they're being replaced with fancier e-bikes that have cup and full and iPhone holders. They can reach 20 to 30 miles an hour, depending on the model and can cost upwards of $2,000. But in this urgent and perhaps needless need for faster, faster, faster delivery, there are problems. These bike drivers go through red lights. They weave around traffic causing fender benders, and even having to fend off attackers who tried to steal their bikes all the while the delivery companies are pushing them to go faster and faster and make more deliveries in New York city. There are approximately 65,000 food delivery workers and their preferred bike is the arrow battery powered mountain bike, which sells for $1,800. A recent survey of 500 delivery workers conducted by the workers justice project and Cornell university found that more than half have had an accident or crash while doing a delivery half, three, and four delivery workers said they had to pay for medical care from a work-related injury out of their own pocket. Half said that it had their bike stolen in the first nine months of 2021. Then 10 delivery cyclists have died according to the workers justice project. These include one who died after a hit and run in Brooklyn. Another worker who was stabbed to death for his bike, another was fatally stabbed and had his e-bikes stolen in Manhattan's Chinatown early Saturday morning. And he was reportedly a food delivery worker who was on the job. Police say a 52 year old man was found with cuts to his face and a stab wound to his abdomen on Hester street, near Christy street at around 1:05 AM. Delivery workers have been the victims of violence while on the job in separate incidents in Queens, there was a man on his scooter when he was run over by a driver who then slammed into a restaurants , outdoor dining setup on April 30th, no charges have been brought against the driver. Francesco Villanova was fatally shot inside a playground in east Harlem while he was on the job. He had been approached by a man at gunpoint and demanded to give up his bike. In all three cases, the delivery men were on the job. The worker's justice project group successfully lobbied the New York city council to set minimum pay wages and require restaurants to let workers use their bathrooms, which was previously not allowed in response to these growing safety concerns. Door dash just announced a new food tool on their app called safe dash in six cities, including New York in partnership with the security company ADT, the app offers reassurance calls. If a door Dasher feels unsafe and an easy way to connect nine 11, if a worker encounters danger is 15 minutes delivery that important. What do you think? So, thanks for joining us today. Um, make sure if you have any comments or questions you put it on and don't forget to go to supermarket guru.com and retail dietitians.com and sign up for our newsletters until next week. And we'll be back in Santa Monica.