The Lempert Report LIVE

Thanksgiving Meal Kits, Martian Tomatoes, Retail Trust

November 12, 2021 Phil Lempert Episode 10
The Lempert Report LIVE
Thanksgiving Meal Kits, Martian Tomatoes, Retail Trust
Show Notes Transcript

A big thank you to all of our military veterans on this Veteran’s Day. We thank all of our generations of military who have protected us and serve – and continue to do so to make our country safe for us all.  Thank you. 

Today we talk about our shoppers lack of trust in retailers ability to fullfill their orders, why the trucking problem just got a whole lot worse, how to navigate around this year’s turkey shortage, the role that Mars will play in our food supply. Our new product reviews are back and you won’t want to miss this one – and more! 

Phil:

Today, we're going to talk about our shopper's lack of trust in the retailers ability to fulfill their orders. Why the trucking problem just got a whole lot worse, how to navigate around this year's Turkey shortage. The role that Mars will play in our food supply, our new product reviews are back, and you won't want to miss this one and more. We would love for you to add your insights during the broadcast in the chat. And we will 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:

I feel, and thank you for acknowledging our veterans today. Um , we're looking at a study today that is showing that there are some trust issues between retailers and shoppers that are ordering online. Um, the 14th annual global shopper stowed at study shows that only 38% of shoppers have complete trust that their orders are going to be fulfilled. And what's even more interesting to me is that the employees are saying 51% are saying that they don't trust their own ability to be able to fulfill those orders.

Phil:

I know it's amazing. And , and this study was done globally by zebra, not just grocery, but all kinds of online shoppers and the most interesting thing , um, that I found also is that 73% of shoppers want to get in and out of their stores quickly. And 65% are still worried about being exposed to other shoppers.

Sally:

Yes. I mean, we are seeing a lot of people still wanting to shop online , uh , but it does become an issue when you can't get what you're ordering the other day. I ordered, I'm still ordering mine online from Kroger here. And the other day I ordered frozen cheese, pepperoni pizzas. And the substitution that came to me was gluten free dairy free pizza, which was much. Yeah. And it was much more expensive than what I ordered. And it was something that my family was not going to eat. And, you know, returning those products is, is a real hassle to try and do.

Phil:

Yeah, it is. And also, and we've talked about this before, you know, the problem with e-commerce grocery commerce is that it's really not that convenient. Um , that what you have is you have a two hour window in most parts of the us. Um, and then what you've got is you also have the fact that you've got to sit there and look at your phone. So when those substitutions come, come out, you, you can then, you know, say yes or no, and it just takes more time and more effort than actually just going the store itself.

Sally:

Agreed. I I'm sure it's very frustrating for the shoppers to ,

Phil:

And you know, the other thing about the zebra study is that a majority of shoppers don't want to spend their money with another retailer six and 10 said they would be willing to purchase out of stock items before leaving the store. If they could pick those up at one of the other retailers nearby stores or the items could be shipped to their home. Um, I found, I found that interesting too. It's a really interesting study that every retailer, everybody in the food business should be looking at. Uh , let's talk a bit about truckers. Uh, what's going on. We know we've got a trucker shortage, according to the American truck association, trucking association , uh, we're down about 80,000 truck drivers, but this past week something else happened, which took another 50, some odd thousand truckers, you know , off the road.

Sally:

Yes. What we're hearing now is that as of January 20, 20, 70 2000 truckers failed drug tests and had to be taken off of the road , um, that is a huge amount that we need , um, you know, with food prices going up because of the lack of drivers , uh, this is a real issue that I'm not sure how these companies are going to, how they're going to approach this.

Phil:

Well, you know, the , the interesting thing is this past week, Walmart , um , announced that they're using , um, the driverless vehicles, trucks , um, in Bentonville Arkansas, that it's going to roll out to another five or six cities. Uh , soon they've been testing it for two years. And I really think that with this truck problem, we have to look at autonomous trucks. Um, I don't know if we, if we have a choice because there's not a lot of new people , um, who were waking up in the morning and say, Hey, I want to be a truck driver. Um, yes, you can make some good money. I think the average truck driver makes about $72,000 a year. Uh, some of them , uh, can be six figures. Uh , these trucking companies are now paying for their , um , education , uh , their training, as well as having signup bonuses that are 10 or $15,000. And they still can't attract these truck drivers. Uh, we had a story a couple of weeks ago if I recall where there's now an effort to have more female truck drivers , uh, because of , uh, their, their schedules are more flexible. They like that. And also they're safer truck drivers when they get into an accident, it is less , uh, harmful , uh, than male truck drivers. So it's either auto it's it's combination of autonomous trucks, as well as female truckers that we're going to have to rely on. I think.

Sally:

Yeah. Yes. And I think I'd like to add also that, you know, with these great incentives that they are, that truckers are offered, that may be something that these companies could consider is adding wellness programs , um, to encourage overall better emotional health and relieving stress, because we are hearing that this kind of job does take an emotional toll on the drivers and their families.

Phil:

Yeah. And especially now, you know, when they pull up to a supermarket, the supermarket managers yelling at them that, you know, Hey, you're a couple of days late. I'm also out of the 72,000 truck drivers. Uh, what the association says is that 54,495 have not yet started the return to duty program and likely will not , uh, for exactly the reason that you said it's becoming an emotional nightmare for them in order to be a truck driver. So what, what are you going to be making for Thanksgiving?

Sally:

Well, if I can get a Turkey, I'll cook, but as we're hearing that, and you've been reporting lot on this bill about Turkey shortages , um, there are other alternatives, there are some great companies that have put together some fantastic , um, uh, meal plans that you can order. Um, in most of cases, the Turkey is coming frozen, so you can cook the Turkey, but then you're getting all of these great sites with it. And , um, some of them are really pricey, but some of them are, are very reasonable.

Phil:

Yeah. I know I was looking at the list and , um , hello fresh has a Thanksgiving meal kit starting at $17. Uh , it has five , uh, seasonal side dishes and dessert. Harry and David starts at $40 butcher box. Now we're getting up there and price is $159 a Williams and Sonoma, their price starts at $230, a Martha Stewart and Marley spoon kit. Now, what I like about Martha Stewart is it has , um, a 12 to 14 pound Turkey. So it's not, you know, this huge Turkey that you're getting, but that's not cheap either. It's at 150 bucks. Uh, probably the, the most interesting one for me is the purple carrot Thanksgiving box, which is a hundred percent plant-based Thanksgiving meal. And it sells out every year. It reminds me of the first time that I had ever tasted and showed Tofurky and Tofurky is still out there. Uh , but I guess they didn't go into the meal kit business this year. Um, let's, let's talk about other high priced food that's taking place.

Sally:

Yes. Um, we're , we've read a story this week. Um , that's very interesting to me, an op-ed that was in civil eats. And this is, this is all about gentrification of communities and how that relates to the food that is being brought into those communities. So we're seeing , um , businesses that have a lot of resources, sometimes celebrity chefs, and they're bringing what they feel is culturally appropriate food to these neighborhoods , um , to attract , uh , let's say, a higher income customer into the neighborhood, which is causing these communities , um, to grow. And the downside to this is what we read in this article is that already in place in some of these communities, are these businesses that are operating on sidewalks that have been providing food to make up for the lack of mainstream retailers in their communities. So we've got people selling tamales and we've got people selling fruit on the street and produce, and, and they're being affected because the new businesses coming in, want stricter rules on how they can operate on the sidewalks.

Phil:

And also what we're finding is , um, as we lose this , uh , this cultural , um, food, if you would , um, it's being replaced sometimes by, you know, more commercial food. Um, I think right here , um , down the street in Venice , um , there's a street called Abbot Kinney. And as you know, Sally and Abbot Kinney , um, when I first moved here close to 30 years ago , um, there was , uh , a bit run down . Um, now it's got really expensive fancy stores. The rents went up , um, there was a, a , a famous restaurant there called house. Um, how was actually a musician? He had a restaurant there for about 25 years. They upped his rent to 50 grand a month. So he had to close and it's now an Adidas store, got to sell a lot of sneakers to pay for 50 grand a month. Um , but also on Abbot Kinney, there was this great little barbecue place. And , um , it was owned by a Southern gentlemen , um, who made , um, you know, this , this fabulous barbecue. And as the rents went up, as the prices went up, guess what he couldn't afford to stay there. So we lost this great barbecue place for just the reasons that you're talking about.

Sally:

Yes, we're seeing the same thing happened here in Nashville. And, you know, some of the members of the community are not happy about it because they feel like it's really taking the soul out of the community.

Phil:

Yeah, it's a great , um , it's a great article by Pascal Josehart Marcella . Uh, she wrote a book called the $16 taco. Um, and , and she really looks at various areas across the country where this has happened and what we can do about it. Um, so you know, all the news on the past couple past couple of weeks , um, William Shatner going up in a space capsule, Elon Musk , uh , wanting to gravitate and, and, you know, expand onto Mars. Uh, but there's a food company that's trying the same thing.

Sally:

Yes. What we've heard this week is that Heinz has now figured out how they can grow tomatoes for catch-up in a soil that has been , uh , that mimics the soil on Mars.

Phil:

Why, why do we want to do that? I mean, when , when you think about the fact that, and I'll probably get the numbers wrong, but it takes something like two years , um , in a spacecraft to get to Mars. So why does Elon Musk and other people think that the cure for our food system is growing foods on Mars? Are we going to transport them back here? It's going to take two years to get back. You know, I think it's an interesting experiment. Heinz have been working on this for about two years. Um, they've worked with , um, a lab that , um, I don't remember the name of the lab. I thought I highlighted it, but, but , um, it's a NASA based laboratory and they're doing it. And , and I just wonder , um, how, how meaningful it is because when you look at the soil on Mars, first of all, Mars is about 50 degrees colder , um , than it is here, you know, on earth. Um, they've got less sunshine, you know, they have all this, the , um, according to this report in courts , um, the soil itself has to be cleaned because it really isn't very pure. Um , it doesn't have nutrients in it. I just think that this is like a real waste of money.

Sally:

Yes. The big challenge is there's so much more carbon dioxide on Mars. And so they do have to find a way to get the toxins and the chemicals out of the food. But I think one of the reasons that they're doing this is because, you know, when it to go for, like you said, to go on a mission to Mars, it takes two to three years. Um, and they would, they would like to start some agriculture there. So that for these missions that we're not just relying on freeze, dried food, that we have food for people,

Phil:

I guess. Um , first of all, I don't want to go to Mars. I don't want to be in a space capsule for two years to get there. And certainly I don't want to , um, you know, eat the food that's grown there by, by the previous group of people that were there. Well, well , uh , thanks, Sally . Appreciate it.

Sally:

Thank you.

Phil:

So on today's lumper report, we take a look to NASA who has a dire warning about how climate change will impact our agriculture crops by the year 2030, a study that was published on November 1st in the journal nature food , uh, by NASA found that corn may soon take a significant hit from the progressing climate change, throwing global food security into a turmoil. Corn is the most produced crop in the world. NASA is predicting that by 2030, the crops yield may be decreased by 25%. If global warming continues at its current pace, massive scientists use advanced computer modeling to look at the expected temperature rise across the globe, changes in rain patterns and rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The results showed that many tropical regions that currently rely on corn production might become too hot for these plants to thrive. The U S China and Brazil are currently the world's largest corn producers. Corn has also grown in many parts of central Asia, Western Africa and central America. NASA says in a statement that all of these regions might see their yields decline within the coming decade. The report's lead sciences, Jonas Jigga Meyer said that even under optimistic climate change scenarios where societies enact ambitious efforts to limit global temperature rise, global agriculture is facing a new climate reality. And with the intersected newness of global food systems, the impact and even one region's bread basket will be felt worldwide. NASA also reports it. Soybeans and rice will be effected as well as all major crops with one exception. Wheat. Now, wheat is the second most important crop grown for human consumption. Number one for humans is rice. Now we might thrive better in the new warmer world. Their prediction is that wheat yields might jump by 17% by 2030. So I guess corn flakes are going to become wheat flakes in the future. Quest is known for their nutrition bars. Their philosophy is offering shoppers, the freedom to eat the foods that they crave. Whenever those cravings hit, they want to share their foods with everyone. Quest has expanded their product line to snack bars, to cookies, chips, protein shakes, and powders, even pizza. Their goal is to create complete protein products while minimizing carbs and sugars. And I must admit that I really liked their protein bars, but this new product that they have, I just don't get it. Birthday cake frosted cookies. This product is really hard to rate good nutrition, but taste is still the most important rating that we have. So it only gets a 79. Now the cookies still meet their criteria. It's only 90 calories, seven grams of only 85 milligrams of sodium, no added sugars, three grams of dietary fiber and six grams of sugar alcohols, and has five grams of protein. I also wish their ingredient list was a bit cleaner without some of the sweeteners and additives. Is this product designed for anyway? Is it kids? Is it adults? The cookies are so sweet. To be honest, I couldn't even finish one. Sometimes line extensions are forced. This is one of those times. I'll stick with their bars, but I do want to try their pizza. Now it's time for the bullseye yesterday. Acosta released its latest research report. The growth of online shopping shows no signs of slowing down. According to the research, nearly 25% of all online grocery shoppers plan to do more within the same within the next year. There's some interesting learnings here. Over half 59% of consumers stuck with their traditional in-store grocer . Since the pandemic started 35% of online grocery shoppers now use their smartphones more often for planning and shopping 34% now buy a wider variety of items and are trying new products. Obviously for me, it's all about the ease of discovery and groceries . Making recommendations through digital Acosta also found that 29% say they're spending less time grocery shopping. I'm just wondering, as I said before, if that assessment includes not just the time it takes to order online, but also the time to confirm or deny replacements while the shoppers shopping for them. And then there's the time sitting at home waiting for them to deliver. Sure. Delivery times have gotten so much better, but in many parts of the country, you still have to select a two hour window except in New York city where the 15 minute grocery deliveries are popping up. But Hey, that was last week's episode. Check out our archives on supermarket guru.com. If you miss that one , uh , cost is survey also reports that during the pandemic, 31% of shoppers started using online subscriptions and about 90% of them intend to continue those subscriptions into 2022. It is clear that online grocery shopping is here to stay. Acosta finds the 23% plan to shop for groceries more in 2022 and 64% continuing to shop at their current level. The reality is that we have to ramp up to meet the shopper needs with better and more accurate search nutritionals and ingredient information and photos on grocers' websites. We also have to make sure that these ordering sites are mobile friendly and most important. We need to understand that while many shoppers like to order online, they also like to shop in store for their produce, their meats and other fresh foods. It's that hybrid model of buying those unemotional branded or store brands that are shelf stable online, then coming into the store to buy their fresh foods, it's click shop and collect. So Sally, we've got some comments and questions. What are they?

Sally:

We've got a couple of things here. And John Panadol, he, he just always has such winning comments. So I want to share a couple of things that he had to say. The ladies who sell tamales out of a pot in the trunk after church will never be replaced by a hipster food truck, if he has

Phil:

Totally

Sally:

Agree. And he also says catch-up from Mars. What happened to local food? Great point for , for the last, I don't know, a 10 to five years we've been talking about really supporting local food. So why Mars?

Phil:

Why Mars?

Sally:

Um, and I'd also like to acknowledge , um, Theresa Butler , who said my friend is learning to be a truck driver. I didn't know about the shortage. So , um, good luck to your friend.

Phil:

Yes. And tell all your friends that we need more truck drivers. And with that , um, don't forget. Go to supermarket guru.com. Sign up for our newsletters also on retaildietitians .com . And we'll see you right back here next week. Same time, 10:00 AM Pacific 1:00 PM Eastern until then be safe.