The Lempert Report LIVE

Cell Based Meat, Asian Grocery, Takeout Breakup

January 25, 2022 Phil Lempert Episode 18
The Lempert Report LIVE
Cell Based Meat, Asian Grocery, Takeout Breakup
Show Notes Transcript

On today’s episode the intersection of fashion and grocery, how supermarkets are changing takeout, one study finds people who are disgusted by eating cultured meats, What Covid is doing to our taste buds, ethnic food stores delight, my conversation with CEO Beth Johnson of food directions and in the bullseye – Walmart enters the metaVERSE.

Phil:

Welcome to the Lempert Report LIVE. On today's episode, we look at the intersection of fashion and grocery, how supermarkets are changing takeout, a study that found people who are disgusted by eating cultured meats and then a food critic who couldn't tell the difference, what COVID is doing to our taste buds, ethnic food stores delight my conversation with CEO, Beth Johnson of food directions. And today in the bullseye, Walmart enters the metaverse Sally let's get started.

Sally:

Hi Phil, do you plan great outfits for grocery shopping? <laugh>

Phil:

This is it <laugh> I don't , I don't know how great it is. Well , but this is it doesn't get any better than this. This story

Sally:

Works . This story is about COOP Fresh is , um, fi which is a hybrid of eCommerce and brick , brick and mortar shops , um , that they previewed in Shangrila at Bonna Fatio global city. And , um, apparently this was a great opportunity for people , um , in high fashion to, to come out and show their grocery fashion. Um, this, this store is also so , um , hoping to satisfy the customer that is frustrated with being able to get fresh foods , um, ordered online , um, without having to deal with I've, I've ordered, I paid for my food and now they're telling me it's outta stock, or they want me to substitute there's none of that with this store.

Phil:

And what I love is some of the , um , fashion people who are participating in Rihanna , Angelina Jo , and Chrissy Tegan , um , they have taken to wearing these worthy ensembles when food shopping and they're coining a new phrase, grocery fashion. Um, so it , it's interesting in this store back in 2014 , uh, Carl Lagerfeld , um, really used this stage as, as background for his fashion show. So I guess , um, especially since the pandemic, people want to get dressed, they wanna use the clothes that they haven't used for two years, and they're gonna go grocery shopping with it.

Sally:

Yes. And I guess they wanna be seen and they wanna be photographed. And so that's great for the store, isn't it? It's

Phil:

Great for the store. And, and also I'm thinking that probably it's great emotionally , um, for us to, to feel good because so many people now can't go to work and get dressed up , um, that they're getting dressed up in the supermarket. But I guess my question is how does that change the dynamic of the supermarket? I think, you know, if you're in Beverly Hills or if you're certain locations sure. But throughout the country, I'm not sure that, you know , uh , guys wearing suits at Walmart is gonna cut it. <laugh>

Sally:

Agreed. Well, it could give me an opportunity to wear those gold velvet pants I ordered during the pandemic. <laugh> seriously, everyone ordered something crazy during the pandemic to wear at home, I think. And so maybe this is their opportunity to get out in the supermarket and show that off

Phil:

<laugh> . So, so Publix , Kroger, ShopRite, a whole , uh , Hannaford food lion, giant Martin's , um , they all want to get into the takeout business and really start competing with restaurants. What's that all about?

Sally:

I love this , um, Instacart's new , um, ready meals hub , uh, has launched. And this is a platform that is for ordering prepared meals. It's grab and go salads. It's sandwiches, it's rotiserie chickens , um, sushi from Crow . There's , there's all different , um, types of, of items that these different supermarkets specialize in. But now you can order that and have that delivered. And you can also in addition , um, order a couple of sta a few staple items as well, along with your order.

Phil:

So I'm confused why, why didn't in Instacart, just add this feature to their app versus having it a two step process where it looks and feels, you know, ver very different. Um, the , the hub is called ready meals hub, and it's a whole different thing. Why, why didn't they just combine it? It doesn't make sense.

Sally:

Yeah, I agree. It does seem like it should just be an all and , you know, you should only have to go to one place to order all of this. And, and I order through Instacart sometimes, and, and I can still access some of those things from Publix, but not the sub sandwiches and , um, not the rotiserie chicken. So , um, it is another side to it that I think people eating more at home , um, and probably tired of restaurant food, especially people that are dealing with Panda pandemic weight right now. And don't want to eat really unhealthy foods from restaurants. Maybe this is a great option for them. Yeah.

Phil:

I agree. You know, last night, I don't know . I don't know if , um, if you've seen this, but last night on CNN , um, they've got a special, like the top 10 of , um, the 1980s and Rob Lowe was actually the host of it. So there were like two or three episodes last night, but I caught the one about the top 10 of fast food mm-hmm <affirmative> and it showed the different things that were important about fast food in the 1980s. You wanna take a guess with the number one , um, impactful, fast food in the 1980s was

Sally:

Kentucky fried chicken.

Phil:

Nope . Uh , Kentucky fried chicken was on there with their, I forgot what they called it, but they had a little mini chicken sandwich. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um , but the number one was the happy meal from McDonald . Ah , yes. Oh, that , that was the one that they really said changed a lot. Um, a study just came out , um, about cultured meets and what they did is they looked at 1,587 volunteers. Uh, 35% of them were meat eaters. 55% were vegetarians. And what they found is that they felt too disgusted by culture meat to even take a taste. This, this comes, you know, in the face of everything that's going on in Silicon valley and everything else. I mean, are we gonna have a problem where we've spent these billions of dollars to create cultured meat, whether it's burgers, whether it's chicken, whatever it is, and nobody wants to eat it.

Sally:

It is interesting because you've got two different reactions to it. Very different reactions. The vegetarians think it's too much like meat because it is made from animal muscle cells. So it still is meat. Um, and then the other side, the non it's not meat enough for them. It seems unnatural. Um , so, so you've got, it's gonna be really hard to satisfy both sides here.

Phil:

Yeah. I agree. And you know, much like many other things that we've seen when you go to the opposite extremes , uh, you're really not satisfying anybody , but what was interesting , uh , time magazine had this past weekend , um, that there's , um , I'm going to mispronounce her , her name, but it's a professional taster and master chef judge in Israel , uh , Mikel Anky , um , who did the world's first public taste test pitting lab grown or cultivated chicken up against a conventionally raised product. They had TV cameras there. They actually had attorneys there to make sure that even the chef that prepared the food didn't know which one was the real one, which one was the cultured one. Um, it was sponsored by a tech startup called super meat , um , at its in-house restaurant, which is called the check-in. Um, and guess, guess what happened?

Sally:

They couldn't tell the difference.

Phil:

No, she picked the wrong one. <laugh> uh , she, she picked the cultured meat one saying that that was chicken. She said , um , a, you know , they had an, a B test a is the real chicken. They then told her a was grown on the other side of the window just a few days ago. Her jaw dropped, I was wrong. She marveled in front of the cameras and I am the expert. So I guess when it comes to , um, cell bust , uh , cell based meet , we've got a lot of learnings to do on both sides , um, of it. Um, COVID 19. Another story has hit the news on COVID 19 and food.

Sally:

Yes. A new study is suggesting that at least one third of people have genuinely lost their ability to perceive basic taste. Now we don't know exactly why , um, the virus could be directly damaging taste buds. Um, it could also just be , uh , a reaction to inflammation in the body from being from being ill. Um, but people are definitely , um, saying that they cannot distinguish between certain taste.

Phil:

So if in fact we've got this huge population that has had COVID that loses their taste buds, what does that mean for the CPG companies , um, who are developing the products? Do we, do we then have to make the flavors more intense and , uh, to, to think out of the box for a moment , uh, do we then have to have two flavors, you know, similar to what we have with salsa, we've got mild, medium and spicy and probably extra spicy now for the COVID. Are we gonna start to see packaging that says, you know, for COVID loss of taste buds,

Sally:

Possibly, and I think we've also gotta start thinking a lot more about the importance of the mouth feel of food, because that is going to have , um, an even there's going to be a , a greater , um, maybe perception of that as well, because the taste buds are lacking.

Phil:

Yeah. It'll, it'll be an interesting issue that we really have to look at very seriously. And especially as we talk about prepared foods, whether it comes from takeout from Instacart or wherever else , um, that, that we're gonna start to see a further bifurcation of taste buds. And what, what does that do to complicate, you know, products that , that are out there, whether they be fresh, whether they be in a restaurant, are we gonna see as result of this, a whole new line of spices from people like McCormick and Tabasco , and so on to really break through , uh, to, to have this, it'll be interesting to watch , um, and talking about flavors, what, what I'm fascinated by is this other story , uh , that you found about out an Asian supermarket and how it's really changing, not only the way Asians, but also , um, you know, Anglos are looking at Asian food.

Sally:

Yes, this is really interesting to me because the, this is the fastest , um, uh, group , um, growing the , the fastest growing racial group in the us is the Asian population. And , um, and we've also, we've reported here on the limper report live , uh , a couple of months ago about how the Asian community was suffering from food insecurity for a variety of reasons because of , um , increased , um , uh , uh , uh , hate against, against Asians. And so they were afraid to leave their homes to go shopping at the supermarket. And then we also saw the restaurant community in some of these cities where , um, there were, you know, like San Francisco, where there, there are big , uh , populations of Asians with , uh , that are also in the food business, being afraid to are unable to open their businesses during the pandemic. Um, so this is really interesting to me because what we're finding out is that, you know, these foods have not really ever been that accessible to the Asian community. The, the ethnic aisle in our supermarkets is very, very limited. And so Larry Lou who moved from Shanghai to Sacramento, California, started , um, a platform called we, which is now becoming the biggest Asian online grocery out there where people can get these products without having to , um , drive hours and hours away to find them.

Phil:

And , and they're authentic and they're priced affordably. Um, he's raised over 400 million , um, since he started , uh, the company was valued by Bloomberg at 2.8 billion, and they have more than 4,000 Asian and Hispanic products , uh, Taiwan, cabbage, Koreans , pork belly , TA flavored Bobba lattes, and Laise cucumber flavored potato chips. Let's not forget those Laise potato chips <laugh> , um , as part of it and talking about that, I am ranting right before we, right before we started today, I get this , um, email that , uh, there's new pebbles , shakeups, and marshmallow cocoa pebbles that are in stores. Now, this is this big announcement , uh, from pebbles , uh, breakfast cereal fans can watch their milk turn chocolatey with each bite of gluten free , crispy rice cereal packed full of cocoa marshmallows and delicious chocolate flavor, not chocolate, but chocolate flavor. Um , but we gotta get that word gluten free in there, of course. And , um, here's what the, here's what the package looks like. And, you know, I know it's hard to read, but one ounce to one ounce pouch has 13 grams of sugars. It is naturally an artificial flavored marshmallow bits. You know, what's interesting to me, when I look at the package, they've repeated naturally an artificial flavored twice. I guess they have to do that legally because it refers to the cocoa pebbles boulders and the chocolate honey comb that that's in there, cocoa explosion, cereal, snack mix, just what we don't need. I , um , for our , for our food supply or our kids to , uh , to be able to do that, nothing against pebbles, I don't think I've ever tasted pebbles in my life. Have you?

Sally:

I have a very, very long time ago when I was a kid, when my mother just, I begged her so much that she got it for me, but , um, but yeah, as a , as a mother of children that, you know, they look at the, at cartoon cereal , cartoon inspired cereals, and they want those. And , um , this is not something that I want them to eat.

Phil:

Yeah. Uh , understandably, thanks Sally. Today on the Lempert Report, the , we turn to food tank, the think tank for food and share what they believe will be some of the most important issues to guide the food system through 2020 Lana Weid-genant, deputy partnership director at zero hour answered food tanks question, what does the next generation of food advocates need from the, those in power today? This way we, as young people, we're powerful. We can take action. We're making these innovations, but we need the support of the decision makers in for instance, government and business in my , or her experience as a youth advocate. And actionist have seen so many times that the example of what young people are doing can be used to excuse less action from those who are in power, who have the most ability to take the actions. We know we need for food systems for the planet for climate action, because they can feel more relaxed knowing that the next generation has taken it forward for them, but we need that support in line with what we're doing. That's a critical component for her Francis Moore Lappe author of died for a small planet, offered insight about building coalitions. This way, courage is the key to this change, but it's very hard to do things alone that are courageous. So find the one or two or three or a crowd of people and together take action. Because I do think that courage is contagious for more checkout food tank.com on the modern shopper. I spoke with Beth Johnson, CEO of food directions who shares her insights on what food companies and retailers need to be focused on in 2022, in order to help our shoppers meet their health and sustainability goals for the complete episode, just go spoon.guru and click on the blog. So for the average shopper that goes up and down the aisles of a supermarket, seeing 40,000 products , um, how confused or not are they, as it relates to sustainability, is this a conversation that we're having with ourselves internally , uh , and not really communicating properly to the shopper?

Beth:

The, the , I would , I would certainly say that. I think that a lot of the discussion that we are having amongst ourselves , uh , we're talking over each other . And so we, many of us say we absolutely support a sustainable food system . We want to make sure that that happens. We want to make sure we're doing right by our planet, but what does that really mean? What does that mean at again at the production level? What does it mean at the processing level? What does it mean in your home that , that, you know, you're making decisions that are sustainable. Um, it's all along the food system gate to plate , as we say , and don't have a common definition. So it is confusing. It's hard to, for a consumer to look at any product in particular and say , um, this, this product is more sustainable than that product. Or if I eat this diet, it's more sustainable than that diet because you don't really know consumers don't know you. And I don't know how things have been , um , grown and processed in order to get to their supermarket shells. So there has to be a lot more discussion amongst , um , the scientists, the policy makers , um, a number of different folks to find some common ground on what does this mean ? What are the , the definitions that are meaningful? And then we need to that effectively to the consumers so that they truly understand what they're deciding to purchase so that they can make informed decisions. So from my standpoint, we are , we are a ways away from having any kind of common definition, common communication to consumers, so that they can be sure what they're , what they're getting

Phil:

Now. It's time for the bullseye CNBC reports that Walmart is getting into the metaverse with a collection of NFTs or non fungible tokens, and will be creating its own cryptocurrency. In late December. Walmart filed new trademark applications with the us patent and trademark off that indicates that the retailer intends to make and sell virtual electronics, appliances furniture, musical instruments, home decorations, toys, sporting goods, personal care products, and the list goes on and on. And fortunately food is not on that list. Walmart is not alone in the race to the metaverse. Facebook obviously is leading the way with other others, including Nike gap under armor Adidas, Ralph Lauren, urban Outfitters, Abercrombie and Fitch who are in the game. It appears that no one wants to be left behind, but are we really clear about where we're going with the metaverse? Will it be more technology, advanced version of second life or something much different when we race to the future? We're always at risk of losing our way, especially when it's being driven by the next level of revolution in technology, as we've all seen before, we can get caught up in creating and developing these next generation things and experiences, just to find out that no one really wants 'em . How likely are we all to wear those currently cumbersome and ugly headsets? I have little doubt that someone will make , make a lighter, more stylish AR headset, but will it be in time for all these brands to make their metaverses a success? It took Ray ban almost a decade to release its much more consumer friendly version of Google glass. The glass technology was cool. True. The glass was a bit geeky looking, but the biggest problem was that those brilliant designers never figured out what we should actually do with them. I still have mine somewhere. And when I got them, I was excited, but that wore off quickly as most of the software that they offered didn't fit my needs or desires. If memory serves me correctly, the most software offering centered around golf, I don't play golf. The other issue was that the side of the glass got very hot. When you were recording video or talking on the phone and having heat pressed up against my temple, didn't make me feel very safe. Rumor is that this year apple will finally be releasing their version of the wearable technology phenomen. Their product might well be what the metaverse and all these brands need. But the question still must be answered is the metaverse going to be a little more than another digital way to communicate with each other in a 3d format. A more advanced way of gaming is the metaverse a fad or the trend of the future, and what consumer needs or problems will it solve in order to exist past its launch. Is it just a way for these metaverse companies to sell stock or raise billions from the VC community who are always hungry to bet on what's next? Do I really need pair of virtual Nikes? I have to ask the gap is selling NFTs that come with, get this an actual physical hoodie. What all this makes me wonder? What does that Walmart chopper wanna buy in a virtual world? Anyway, Sally, let's hit to the, the questions and comments.

Sally:

We have a comment from John Pandol today who says, he says dressing up to go to the grocery store. How could we get the airline customers to embrace, dressing up, going to the airport? He

Phil:

Has an interesting point there <laugh> very interesting point and, and even pre pandemic. And for those of us in business that have flown a lot, I remember, and I think I sent this photo to Tony. Um, I was on a flight. I think it was LA to New York. And across the, from me was a guy who had taken off his shoes that had , um , and his socks and had the most gnarly feet ever. And I was just so happy that I wasn't sitting next to this person, but I had to send Tony that shot . So make sure you visit us on super market guru.com, sign up for our newsletters and have a great week. And we will see you here next Monday. Same time , same place .