Your favorite snacks, sweets, and spices may be hard to find as more shortages hit the US

Kroger grocery store supermarket
  • Spices, sweets, and snacks made by popular brands may be hard to come by as the US grapples with ongoing supply chain issues.
  • Kellogg’s cereal, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and McCormick spices are the latest items in short supply, according to CNN Business.
  • Everything from food, clothes, cars, and plastics is impacted by delays in transportation and manufacturing.

More items are going to be hard to find at grocery stores as shortages hit the US.

Spices, sweets, and snacks made by popular brands like certain Kellogg’s cereal products, Sour Patch Kids candy, some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors, McCormick gourmet spices, and Marie Callender’s pot pies are expected to be hard to find as manufacturers are hit with delays, CNN Business reported.

Kellogg told at least four grocery distributors last month in an email that Pringles Snacks Stacks, Eggo pancakes, Rice Krispies Treats snacks, and some of the company’s meat products “will remain below service expectations” through the end of the year, according to CNN Business.

Approximately 1,400 workers at Kellogg are also on strike, demanding better health care, retirement benefits, and holiday and vacation pay. The union indicated workers in these cities produce Rice Krispies, one of the items expected to be impacted by these shortages.

Kellogg is currently “implementing contingency plans to mitigate supply disruptions,” Kris Bahner, a Kellogg spokesperson, told Insider in an email. “In instances where capacity is constrained, this means limiting orders over certain time periods while also encouraging full truck loads to ensure we service every community, customer and shopper the best we can.”

Unilever, the manufacturer of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is prioritizing “top-selling items” while they battle a “limited ability to meet demand” caused by labor shortages, according to an email obtained by CNN that Unilever sent to a distributor. Unilever did not respond to Insider’s request to comment before publishing.

McCormick’s Gourmet is the only product line impacted by the ongoing packaging shortage the company is facing, Lori Robinson, a spokesperson for McCormick, said in an email to CNN Business. McCormick did not respond to Insider’s request to comment on when shoppers can see its full range of products back on shelves.

Recently, shortages have been hitting stores across the US as companies are hit with supply chain disruptions in the manufacturing process. Everything from food, clothes, cars, paper, and plastics has been impacted by delays in transportation and manufacturing, while shortages in workers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing strikes add to the disruptions.

Manufacturers have had to find creative solutions to battle these disruptions in the supply chain, such as renting their own container ships to sidestep delays in product shipments and empty shelves in their stores ahead of the holiday shopping season.

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The best deals for getting your flu shot this season

coronavirus flu shot
An advertisement offering free flu shots in New York City on August 21, 2020.

  • Retailers are offering incentives for customers to get vaccinated against the flu.
  • Some of the best deals include coupons for up to $20 off purchases at select stores.
  • This year, health experts are worried patients with the flu could overwhelm hospitals already full of COVID-19 patients.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Retailers are making it easier than ever to battle cold and flu season this fall by offering incentives to get vaccinated.

Last year, because of the precautions many Americans took related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the flu season reached “historical lows,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as only 155 people were hospitalized during its peak.

This year, health experts are worried patients sick with the flu could once again overwhelm hospitals as doctors and nurses are still helping patients fight severe cases of COVID-19. The CDC also says it is safe to receive the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.

The best way to fight the flu is by getting the flu vaccine at the start of the flu season which goes from mid-fall to late spring, according to the CDC. Luckily, flu shots are free with insurance, and some pharmacies and clinics even offer free flu shots without insurance. This year, some retailers are also offering gift cards and coupons to customers who get their flu shots at their pharmacy locations.

Here are some of the best flu shot deals:

Albertsons

Albertsons pharmacies are offering 10% off grocery purchases up to $200 with any immunization.

CVS

CVS Pharmacy is encouraging customers to get vaccinated there by December 31 by offering a $5 shopping pass on any purchase of $20 or more when you shop in stores.

Fresco y Más

Fresco y Más is offering a deal where customers can get $20 off their groceries if they get two immunizations. Fresco y Más pharmacies are offering $10 coupons if customers get their flu shot in store, and another $10 if they get another immunization the same day.

Harveys

Like Fresco y Más, Harveys is offering $10 coupons if customers get their flu shot in store and another $10 if they get another immunization the same day.

Rite Aid

Customers who get the flu at a Rite Aid pharmacy will receive $5 off any purchase of $25 or more, through September. 30.

Target

Target pharmacies, which are operated by CVS, are also offering customers a $5 off $20 or more coupon when they get their flu shot.

Walgreens

Walgreens is offering $5 in Walgreens Cash to receive a flu shot there. With each flu shot, Walgreens will also donate $0.23 to a United Nations vaccine fund.

Winn-Dixie

Customers can get up to $20 off their groceries if they get vaccinated at Winn-Dixie. Winn-Dixie pharmacies are offering $10 coupons if customers get their flu shot in store and another $10 if they get another immunization the same day.

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‘No contracts, no snacks’: Danny DeVito joins striking Oreo factory workers in calling for a boycott of Nabisco treats

oreo oreos
Striking Nabisco workers are calling for a consumer boycott of the popular cookie and other Nabisco snacks.

  • Danny DeVito and striking Oreo factory workers are calling for a boycott of Nabisco products.
  • Workers are demanding better pay and pushing against Nabisco’s proposed 12-hour shifts.
  • Boycotts rarely impact a company’s sales, but they can damage a company’s reputation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Workers in every major Oreo-manufacturing factory in the US are striking, and their call for a boycott of popular Nabisco products like Oreos, Ritz Crackers, and Triscuits was recently bolstered by the support of the famous actor Danny DeVito, Yahoo Finance reported.

“Support Nabisco workers striking for humane working hours, fair pay, outsourcing jobs. NO CONTRACTS NO SNACKS,” the “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star said in a tweet that garnered 160,000 likes.

Over 1,000 Nabisco workers are striking over contract negotiations, with the company’s proposed 12-hour shifts becoming one of the most contentious sticking points for workers. Workers are also demanding better pay and an end to outsourcing to Mexico.

Although public figures with large followings such as Danny Devito and Bernie Sanders have tweeted their support for Nabisco workers, boycotts usually fail in undercutting a targeted company’s sales, according to The New York Times.

Although boycotts can damage a company’s brand, a fast-moving news cycle and constant barrage of information from social media often leads boycotts to fade within a few days if they don’t have strong and sustained participation.

Mike Burlingham, a worker at the Portland bakery and the vice president of the local union, told Insider’s Juliana Kaplan that the unions had recieved strong support for the strike and that anger had been simmering among workers for a long time.

Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, said it’s bargaining in good faith with union leadership and that it was disappointed in workers’ decisions to go on strike.

“If Nabisco can rake in billions of dollars in corporate profits, they can afford to treat their workers with dignity and respect,” Bernie Sanders said in a tweet.

Read the original article on Business Insider

2 Black men accused Walmart of racial discrimination, saying they were handcuffed and accused of stealing when they tried to return a TV

Walmart
Walmart is facing a racial-discrimination lawsuit.

  • Two Black men are suing Walmart, accusing it of racial discrimination.
  • The men say Walmart staff falsely accused them of stealing when they tried to return a TV.
  • One broke down in tears after being handcuffed by police, the suit said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two Black men in their 50s are suing Walmart, alleging that the retailer falsely accused them of stealing when they tried to return a TV.

The plaintiffs Dennis Stewart, a former police officer, and Terence Richardson, a pastor, were handcuffed by the police at a Walmart in the Houston suburb of Conroe, Texas, after trying to return a $300 TV last September, the lawsuit said. Stewart bought the TV earlier in the day but said it wasn’t working properly, and so wanted to return it, the lawsuit said.

The two men said that when they went to return the TV, a white employee at the customer-service counter accused them of stealing it and refused to acknowledge their receipt as proof of purchase.

They said the associate called the police. The lawsuit said the police arrived, handcuffed them, and took them to the loss-prevention office, where Stewart was said to have broken down in tears.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Courthouse News was first to report it.

Insider contacted Walmart for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Read more: I’m a Black woman in tech who was spared from daily microaggressions thanks to remote work. Here’s how work-from-home can make your office less racist.

The police later released Stewart and Richardson, but the lawsuit said the store manager asked the pair to sign a paper confirming they would be arrested if they returned to the store.

The men say a Walmart associate shouted at them: “Take this f—ing receipt, take that f—ing TV, get the f— out of this store, and never f—ing come back.”

The suit said the two men were “regularly tormented and awakened from their sleep with nightmares about what they experienced at the Walmart.”

“Such treatment hurts so deeply it is impossible to describe,” it said. “It is like a cancer that eats at them every moment of the day – causing them to try to avoid people they think might be inclined to act the same way toward them.”

Stewart and Richardson are accusing Walmart of racial discrimination, false arrest and imprisonment, and breach of contract.

The suit said they were “dehumanized” and made to look like criminals when they were just following Walmart’s returns policy.

This isn’t the first time Walmart has faced a racial-discrimination lawsuit. In 2018, a Black customer sued the company, alleging that it was intentionally locking up inexpensive beauty products made for Black people. Retailers often put higher-priced products in glass cases to protect them from theft.

At the time, Walmart told Insider it did “not tolerate discrimination of any kind.” It later said it would stop putting these products behind glass cases.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A Vermont chef made a 7-hour round trip to Whole Foods just to buy pita bread, spending double the normal price, after his supplier canceled last minute

knife chef cooking
Restaurants and retailers are facing ongoing supply chain delays.

  • A catering company said it was left scrambling after its food supplier canceled an order last minute.
  • The head chef made a 7-hour round round trip to a Boston Whole Foods to buy pita bread, he told CNN.
  • Ongoing supply chain issues and soaring demand mean suppliers are struggling to keep up.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Vermont chef made a seven-hour round trip to Whole Foods to stock up on a key ingredient after a supplier let him down last minute, he said.

Nadav Mille, who owns catering company Chef Nadav LLC with his wife, told CNN he ordered a batch of pitas from food distribution giant Sysco weeks in advance, but that the day before the order was meant to arrive, Sysco told him the food would not be sent.

“I got a call saying that we’re not delivering to you tomorrow, or any time soon,” Mille told CNN. “I started calling around, and I found what I needed at Whole Foods in Boston … the next day I was in the car, and I spent twice as much as I would have.”

In a statement to CNN, Sysco said that it paused delivery to certain customers but that it expected this to be temporary. The CEO of the company also acknowledged supply chain pressures and shortages in recent earnings calls and interviews.

Sysco did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read more: This is how the shipping crisis ends

Mille told CNN that he hadn’t found an alternative supplier for his pitas yet. Instead, he’s preparing for more delays and shortages by increasing his freezer capacity and stocking up, he said.

Mille’s Vermont-based catering company is one of many food-service businesses in the US hit by the ongoing supply chain crisis.

After months of lockdown, demand has soared as restaurants reopen, and suppliers are scrambling to keep up. A breakdown in the freight supply chain, along with trucker shortages and the labor crisis, has created a perfect storm, leading to long delays and shortages.

KFC, Starbucks, and McDonald’s are among the biggest chains to have spoken about shortages. And some fast-food giants – including Chipotle – are raising prices to cover higher ingredient and labor costs.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Aldi is raising its average starting wage in the US to as much as $19 an hour as it plans to hire more than 20,000 workers ahead of the holidays

Aldi
  • Aldi is increasing its average US starting wages for open store positions to $15 per hour.
  • The retailer is bumping average US starting wages for open warehouse positions to $19 per hour.
  • Aldi is also hiring more than 20,000 new store and warehouse employees ahead of the holiday season.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Aldi is raising wages to attract new workers ahead of its hiring spree for the holiday season.

The grocery retailer is bumping its average national starting wages to $15 per hour for open store roles and $19 per hour for open warehouse roles, according to a press release issued Monday.

“As an award-winning employer, we know the importance of investing in our people,” Dave Rinaldo, co-president of Aldi US, said in the release. “Employees come to ALDI for the competitive pay and opportunity to work for a growing national brand. They stay for the career potential and satisfaction they feel knowing their work makes a difference in the communities they serve.”

Aldi also announced in the release that it is hiring more than 20,000 new employees to “support its continued growth across the country and prepare for the busy holiday season.” The new roles are available in both Aldi stores and warehouses. They include positions like store associate, cashier, stocker, and warehouse associate. The company has more than 2,100 stores and 25 warehouses across the US.

Read more: Hiring is impossible in summer 2021. But smart companies are reinventing benefits

To aid its holiday hiring efforts, Aldi is hosting a national hiring week from September 20-24, during which stores and warehouses will hold interviewing events to fill open positions.

The company’s wage increases come shortly after grocery store workers reached a key pay milestone. Workers at grocery stores and restaurants now earn more than $15 per hour on average for the first time in history, according to the Washington Post. Aldi follows in the footsteps of companies like Walmart, Costco, and Chipotle, all of which raised wages earlier this year. The tight labor market has led many companies to reevaluate the pay and benefits they offer workers in an effort to attract new talent and keep current workers from walking off the job.

Read the original article on Business Insider

These high-tech, unstaffed stores are tiny, and open 24/7 to help residents get their groceries in rural Sweden. Take a look inside.

Lifvs convenience store
Inside a Lifvs store.

  • Stockholm-based startup Lifvs created technology to run self-service grocery stores in Sweden.
  • These stores are unstaffed and run remotely, which means they can be open 24/7.
  • Low labor and rental costs enabled Lifvs to open stores in low traffic areas and rural communities.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Stockholm-based startup Lifvs set up and runs mini grocery stores in rural parts of Sweden.

Lifvs convenience stores
The company launched in 2018.

These stores are located in shipping container-like structures and are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The stores are completely unstaffed for most of the time.

Lifvs unmanned supermarket stores
A Lifvs unmanned supermarket in Veckholm, a village of a few hundred people, about 80 kilometres from Stockholm.

This is because they are run remotely using artificial intelligence (AI) technology. 

Cofounder and COO Daniel Lundh told Insider that he launched the company in 2018 because he wanted to solve food deserts (an area that has limited access to fresh food) in rural Sweden.

David Lundh Lifvs found
Daniel Lundh co-founded the company.

He’d seen a gap in the market: more than half of Sweden’s grocery stores closed in the 1990s as larger supermarket chains swooped in. 90% of these stores were in rural locations, he said in a recent phone conversation with Insider. 

‘The industry went through a big shift, they were looking at the States – the Walmarts and the Targets of the world – and Sweden was building these large grocery stores and closing local services,” he said.

 

“We wanted to go where we were needed most,” Lundh said. Livfs has 27 stores across Sweden.

Lifvs unmanned supermarket stores
It’s the largest unmanned grocery chain in Europe (though its direct competition is limited).

The “modules” its stores are housed in are made off-site and shipped to each location.

Lifvs convenience store
The Lifvs stores.

They come in two sizes: 290 square feet and 580 square feet. The smaller version is made of steel, and the larger one of wood. 

 

 

These buildings are built from scratch. They are designed to be the perfect width and weight to be transported on the back of the truck.

Lifvs store
The modules being transported across Sweden.

It requires several permits to base a store in a particular location. But once power access is in place, it only takes hours to open a new location.

Lifvs convenience stores
The front of a Lifvs store.

Low store operating costs and labor costs are at the heart of Lifvs’ business model. This enables the company to serve rural areas where there are fewer customers, and therefore, less business.

So how do you actually shop at a Lifvs store?

Lifvs unmanned supermarket store
A man enters the Lifvs unmanned supermarket store.

Customers first need sign up for the Lifvs app on a smartphone and enter card payment details. The app is connected to BankID, Sweden’s national identification app operated by its banks, which will verify the customer’s details.

You then use app to unlock the door and enter the store. 

 

 

Once inside, the customer is free to browse.

Lifvs convenience stores
The Lifvs app.

To make a purchase, you scan the barcode on an item or on its listing on the shelf. The cost of this product is automatically deducted from your card.

 

Lundh says the technology behind the app uses AI to offer customers personalized deals and coupons based on their previous shopping trips.

Lifvs convenience store
Deals and discounts appear on the app.

The app also offers recipe suggestions or bundle deals when you scan an item. 

 

The technology used at Lifvs is akin to what Amazon uses at its cashierless stores, Amazon Go.

Lifvs convenience store
Inside a Lifvs store.

But there’s a key difference, Lundh said. At an Amazon Go store, the technology will automatically detect when an item is taken from or returned to the shelves (using cameras). These are then added or removed to a virtual basket.

At Lifvs, customers have to physically scan and add items to the app, which gives the company a chance to interact with the customer more, he said. 

“To me, you’re throwing away the biggest advantage by not helping them [the customer] with a shopping list or pushing a recipe or coupon,” he said. 

“If I [the retailer] can only track someone with a camera … that doesn’t give me anything more than the data of what they buy,” he added.

Lifvs stocks around 550 product stock-keeping units (SKU), including meat, vegetables, dairy products, and household goods. Amazon Go convenience size stores stock around 1,000 SKUs, for comparison.

Lifvs convenience store
It doesn’t have a license to sell alcohol but plans to sell tobacco in vending machines soon.

Space is limited in these stores so rather than having endless options, there is usually one type of product on offer. 

This is a store for shoppers to pick up midweek groceries rather than to do a big weekly shop. The average customer shopping trip lasts three minutes, Lundh said.

 

 

 

Lundh said his team initially had no idea what quantities of food to order up but gradually the data it’s collected on customers’ shopping trips has enabled its techology to make better estimates.

Lifvs convenience store
A member of staff will visit the store every other day.

The technology is keeping live tabs on stock levels and sell-by dates. “If we know a batch of milk is going old, we can lower the price remotely,” Lundh said. 

A store manager visits each location three times a week to cross-check stock levels. The store is also cleaned at that point. 

This shopping experience is well-suited to Covid times.

Lifvs convenience store
Contact-free shopping.

Aside from the door handle and the items a customer wants to purchase, it’s contact-free.

The lack of staff keeps low labor costs low but it also makes the store more susceptible to shoplifting.

Lifvs unmanned supermarket store
A security camera is pictured in a Lifvs store.

While there are cameras in each store, it’s only when the store manager visits that they’d actually notice if items were missing.

Lundh said this slightly clunky system isn’t designed to focus on catching shoplifters but to service the 99% of people who are not shoplifting.

While Livfs plans to keep expanding in Sweden, its biggest opportunity for growth is licensing its technology to other retailers, Lundh said.

Lifvs Convenience store

He receives enquiries about licensing every week from retailers across the US and in most European countries. 

These enquiries vary substantially. “Anything from a local farmer in Portugal to the second-largest grocery chain in the Netherlands,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Delivery unicorn Gopuff, now valued at $15 billion, says latest $1 billion raise will fund enhanced tech, global growth, and hiring of top talent

Gopuff cofounders Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola
Gopuff cofounders and co-CEOs Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola.

  • Gopuff is an “instant-needs” delivery operator that sells 4,000 items from booze to baby goods.
  • The company told Insider it is profitable in “100% of markets older than 18 months.”
  • The ultra-fast delivery unicorn, available in 850 US cities, announced a $1 billion funding round.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Delivery unicorn Gopuff, born as a fast delivery service geared for college students looking for late-night snacks and smoking supplies, announced a new $1 billion funding round on Friday, growing its valuation to $15 billion.

The latest round- led by new investors such as Blackstone, Guggenheim Investments, Hedosophia, and Adage Capital – follows a $1.15 billion round in March, which at the time, valued the company at nearly $9 billion.

The fast-growing Philadelphia-based delivery operator has now raised a total of $3.5 billion.

Read more: Gopuff is getting into food delivery. Here’s why the ultra-fast delivery operator is letting customers bundle ready-to-eat meals with their grocery order.

Much of those VC funds have been raised in recent months as the company aggressively grows its delivery footprint in the US. As of July 9, online grocery firms globally have received about $14 billion in venture backing since 2020, according to data from PitchBook.

Gopuff bills itself as an “instant-needs” delivery operator whose 4,000-item product mix includes snacks, baby supplies, cleaning products, beer and wine, and over-the-counter medications.

Since November 2020, the company has more than doubled its fulfillment centers from 200 to more than 450 sites delivering to 850 US cities. This week, Gopuff launched delivery in San Diego, California.

Also in July, the company launched a fresh-food delivery operation dubbed Gopuff Kitchen. The company is using mobile kitchens set up near its micro-fulfillment warehouses to cook made-to-order delivery-only meals and drinks such as specialty coffee, breakfast sandwiches, chicken fingers, tater tots, and salads. This allows customers to bundle grocery orders with hot meals.

Gopuff has also been on a buying spree. Over the past few months, the delivery operator bought BevMo, Liquor Barn, the UK delivery startup Fancy, and Bandit. It has also struck a delivery partnership with Uber.

With $1 billion in new funds, Gopuff said it will continue to accelerate its expansion in North America, the UK, and Europe. It also plans to hire “top talent” and focus “on enhancing its technology to continue to deliver an exceptional customer experience,” the company said.

Read more: These 13 ultrafast-delivery companies have raised over $7 billion and are bringing customers their groceries in as little as 10 minutes

Unlike third-party delivery companies like DoorDash, Gopuff said its direct-to-consumer business model is profitable. The company told Insider it makes money in “100% of markets older than 18 months.”

Delivery times in most areas are between 20 and 40 minutes, with 24-hour delivery available in most of Gopuff’s markets.

Gopuff’s operation “has only just scratched the surface,” Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer of Guggenheim Investments, said in a statement.

He added, “Gopuff has quietly built a very strong business and solidified itself as the leading player, continuing to define this evolving category.”

Do you work for Gopuff? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (714) 875-6218 using a nonwork phone, email at nluna@insider.com or Twitter DM at @FastFoodMaven

Read the original article on Business Insider

Frozen food wasn’t always popular, but it has become an almost $300 billion industry

Following is a transcript of the video.

Clancy Morgan: If you’re like me, your freezer is packed full of frozen food that came from a giant frozen section from a factory that freezes millions of pounds of food every year. It’s an enormous operation, but all of that actually started with this, or, more specifically, this.

The story behind this logo is key to understanding how one idea completely changed how we eat and cook and along the way created an almost $300 billion industry.

To understand how we got this, we have to go back to the early 20th century. Before frozen foods, diets in the US looked a lot like this. They were very meat and potatoes, and I know this kid looks super excited, but it was often really bland.

To get meat, people would go to a quaint butcher shop, like this one from 1910. And they’d go to a small, often mom-and-pop grocery store, like this one. You’d actually bring a list, and a worker would pick out your items for you. I’m not sure why this lady looks so displeased with that artichoke, though. But anyway, people could keep food cold, but not really frozen.

Amy Bentley: You had an icebox, but iceboxes were minimally functional. They tended to be smelly. They could create mold.

Clancy: Frozen food at the time actually had a really bad reputation.

Clip: Is that right?

Clancy: Because it was frozen at temperatures that weren’t actually that cold, it sometimes took a day or longer to freeze. This formed large ice crystals, which ruined the taste and texture. Basically, the quality was terrible. But soon that would all change, thanks to this guy. Clarence Birdseye. He invented what we think of as frozen food, and it totally changed the way we eat. I find Clarence Birdseye fascinating.

He was always inventing things, and he actually has over 100 patents. Here’s a photo I printed out of him working on a food dehydrator. And he had a real, like, 20th-century vibe. The editors of his college yearbook actually wrote this quote next to his photo. I don’t even know how to say this. “I ain’t afeer’d o’bugs, or toads, or worms, or snakes, or mice, or anything.” Interestingly, he never actually graduated from college.

Birdseye spent several years working in Labrador in Northern Canada, where he observed Inuit fishermen freezing fish in the frigid outdoors. The fish froze so quickly they actually retained their taste and texture. So like any good inventor, Birdseye engineered a machine that would replicate this process, quickly freezing small quantities of food between two super-cold metal plates. The plates were later swapped for belts, which was more efficient. The machine used temperatures as cold as 50 degrees below zero, and the food was prepackaged in insulated containers. Birdseye called his product “frosted food” to differentiate it from low-quality frozen food.

Now, obviously Birdseye didn’t invent the concept of frozen food, but he did figure out a way to mechanize its production, and it worked great. In 1932, The New York Times described the process as a scientific miracle, having food ready without any “laborious preparation.”

Clip: ♪ Birds Eye peas [pop] ♪ ♪ Sweet as the moment [pop] ♪ ♪ Sweet as the moment when the pod went pop [pop] ♪

Clancy: But there was just one problem. Pretty much no one had a freezer. And I mean no one. When some families did start to get electric refrigerators around the 1930s, it was a really new concept.

Clip: Sliding shelves, too. A marvelous convenience.

Clancy: But it wasn’t just homes. Retailers didn’t have freezers that could keep frozen food from thawing, reportedly failing to keep temperatures “much under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.” And retailers were also skeptical about this new product. One industry analysis wrote that “customers not only did not demand quick-frozen foods but probably had never heard of them.”

Changing how millions of people eat was a daunting task, and Birdseye’s company was running out of money. So in 1929, Birdseye sold his patents and company to Postum for $23.5 million, or over $350 million today. Now, all of that money didn’t go directly to Clarence Birdseye, but he did make around a million dollars from it. [pop] And he must have really liked frozen foods, because he stayed on at the company as a consultant.

Birdseye needed to figure out how to sell frozen food, but he also literally needed to figure out how to sell it. Distribution was cited as “the quick-frozen-food industry’s most serious problem.” So the most serious solution? The company would not only make the food, but also the freezers and the trucks, then lease hundreds of them to retailers as a proof of concept for frozen food. And it worked. It demonstrated that it could be a popular product. By the end of 1937, 2,000 stores carried Birds Eye frozen food.

To market frozen food, Birds Eye focused on its freshness and convenience, advertising peas “as gloriously green as any you will see next summer.”

Clip: Yes, Birds Eye peas are as sweet as that because they are freshest picked, freshest frozen.

Clancy: And this entire cookbook was written just to advertise all the ways you can use frozen food. And there’s some real gems in here. Like, there’s one for French fried asparagus. And this thing called a jellied salmon loaf. But there still wasn’t a big need that frozen foods filled.

In 1937, it was estimated that only around 23% of homes had electric refrigerators. And according to American Heritage, “In 1945 Americans still bought less than two pounds of frozen food apiece.” For context, I have, like, 15 pounds right now. But Clarence believed in frozen food. That same year he told The Washington Post, “I believe we’ll see a phenomenal increase in the demands for both home and commercial use.” And he was right.

Clip: And so they joined the stream of family life in the suburbs.

Bentley: The 1950s and the ’60s is called “the golden age of food processing.” Consumers who had been deprived of consumer goods through the 1930s and the ’40s, with the war and food rationing, all of a sudden have disposable income. The country is very wealthy. And all of these products are flooding the market.

Clip: Miles of checkout counters and endless rows of carts.

Clancy: In less than a decade, frozen-food sales grew from $496 million to almost $2 billion. It was the fastest-growing segment of the food industry, according to a 2003 study. During that time, exciting new products like frozen OJ, TV dinners, and even frozen pizza were introduced. And this is when we see the rise of those household-name brands, like Eggo, Hungry-Man, or Ellio’s.

Clip: And your big Birds Eye buy this week is Birds Eye orange juice.

Clancy: Birds Eye itself reportedly offered over 100 different items. You can actually see the Birds Eye logo here in a freezer ad from 1948. And grocery stores went from having a couple of hundred products to a few thousand. This A&P ad from 1950 boasts over 2,400 items.

But possibly the biggest shift was when families started to move to the suburbs. Now you could drive to the supermarket, buy a ton of food, and store it all in your refrigerator, which actually had a freezer built in now.

Clip: A completely separate food freezer that holds 84 pounds of frozen foods. There’s simply nothing like it.

Clancy: Convenience played a bigger role in American homes, and companies capitalized on it. Birds Eye advertised its frozen spinach as the “work-free-est, farm-freshest.”

Bentley: And so the cuisine and the culture shifts somewhat, and the technology gets better, and the two converge to create this moment where frozen food is seen as no longer, like, low class or a compromise.

Clancy: In 1955, The New York Times wrote, “frozen foods are no longer a specialty item but an integral part of the grocery business.” And about a decade later, the microwave made things even more convenient. What I can’t get over is the brilliance and the absurdity of Birdseye’s invention was that it worked really well, but it was engineered way before retailers or consumers were ready for it, or even wanted it. It took two decades and a world war to catch on. But today, frozen foods are cemented into American society.

Bentley: And it’s emblematic of all of these values that we have always had about food: shelf stable, predictable, relatively low cost, much of it. We want fresh, local, seasonal food. We value that, but we also value frozen food.

Clancy: A lot has changed since the days of the icebox. But you can thank Clarence Birdseye, at least in part, for your Kid Cuisine and your DiGiorno. That was maybe a little too much struggle. I’ll do a little in between.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in October 2020.

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The CDC’s new mask guidelines fail to protect retail workers, a leading union says, as it calls for a national mask mandate in all stores

Grocery store worker, low-wage
“A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus,’ UFCW said.

  • A leading retail union in the US is calling for masks to be mandatory again as COVID-19 cases soar.
  • The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers.
  • New CDC recommendations for masks in high-risk areas don’t go far enough, the UFCW said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The CDC changed its guidance around wearing masks on Tuesday, recommending that everyone wears masks indoors – whether they have been vaccinated or not – in areas of the country where COVID-19 cases are soaring.

But one of the US’ leading retail unions says the new guidelines don’t do enough to protect store workers, and say masks should be mandatory again.

“A national mask mandate is the only way we can finally take control of this virus and every retail CEO in the country must recognize that now is the time for all of us to mask up so we can keep our economy open and communities safe,” UFCW international president Marc Perrone said in a statement shared with Insider.

Insider asked leading retailers in the US including Costco, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Home Depot whether they were updating their mask policies, but did not immediately hear back.

The UFCW represents 1.3 million retail workers in the US. It said that 878 of its members had died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Mandatory masks would help prevent workers from playing “vaccination police,” enforcing different rules in different states, he said.

“Urgent action is needed from states and retailers to strengthen COVID safety enforcement so the burden doesn’t fall on the shoulders or essential workers already stretched thin,” he said.

While some workers are happy to be rid of masks, others fear that fewer masked customers puts them at greater risk of infection.

In May, a Starbucks worker told Insider’s Mary Meisenzahl that she was considering leaving her job after the CDC announced that mask mandates would be lifted.

Larry Barton, a professor of crisis management and public safety at the University of Central Florida, told Insider in

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