Meal-Kit Companies Are Gearing Up for Competition or Getting Out

On this episode of The Barron Report, Paul Barron interviews Brittain Ladd, a Supply Chain Management expert and Logistics Consultant for the world of meal kits.  

When the meal kit first came into existence, customers lined up to try this new and innovative system that fulfilled the desire for a high-quality meal without the restaurant price tag. Once the idea gained popularity, meal kit companies began popping up, claiming to have the best meal kit on the market. Slowly but surely, these companies starting shutting down as the market became oversaturated.

“The meal-kit industry is still the wild west. The industry is going through a lot of growing pains...,” says Brittain Ladd.

He believes one of the main reason these companies are unable to stay afloat is they just don’t have enough capital to keep going. One of the biggest challenges for the meal kit is the delivery model and its cost. Known in the restaurant industry as  “the last mile,” these start-ups are struggling to find a location that puts them close enough to a customer in order to keep costs down.

Bigger, established companies like Starbucks or Subway have the most distribution potential with access to resources, real estate, and capital.

Meal kits are a great product–unfortunately, they’re not enough to start a business. Brittain found that many founders of these companies did not have enough business expertise to evolve the idea into a full-fledged business. Consequently, companies faced the harsh reality of high cost-low retention. And although acquisitions may seem like the only light at the end of the tunnel, Brittain sees other opportunities for success.  

“If they’re not going to be acquired, they absolutely should be reaching out to restaurants chains and offering them a branded product or ask them to sell their meal kit exclusively in their store…,” says Ladd. Meal kit companies need to brainstorm a way to close the gap between the product and the consumer.

Listen to this episode of The Barron Report for more insights on the meal kit industry and his recommendations to founders in order to stay afloat!

SHOW NOTES

  • 12:33 Top 5 Companies To Watch

  • 15:34 Restaurants Co-utilizing Space and Meal-kit Delivery System

  • 18:10 Chef’d Biggest Flaw

  • 21:25 Misconceptions Of Success

  • 24:00 Fast Casual New Delivery Systems

  • 30:00 The Future of Meal Kits

  • 33:52 Deliver as Close to the Customer as Possible

  • 00:18 Introductions

  • 01:57 The Demise of Chef'd

  • 02:06 Current Status of the Meal Kit Industry

  • 04:23 Ready-to-eat Meal-Kit Development Ideas

  • 08:08 The Problem with the Meal-kit Industry as a Whole

  • 11:03 Convenience Stores as Distribution Points

 
 

Trump's New Tip Pooling Rule Means Harsh Fines for Rule-Breakers

Trump's New Tip Pooling Rule Means Harsh Fines for Rule-Breakers

First, the back story:  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the rules for paying minimum wage and overtime.  It allows employers to take a tip credit against its minimum wage obligations if certain conditions are met.  One of those conditions is that tipped employees must be allowed to retain all of their tips. There is one exception to this – that employers can require employees to participate in a valid tip pooling arrangement.  

There are various requirements for a tip pool to be valid but most importantly, the tips can only be shared with people who customarily and regularly receive tips. Typically, these jobs are in the front of the house.

The FLSA is silent as to whether these same restrictions apply to employers who don’t take a tip credit and instead just pay a full minimum wage.  In 2010, the Ninth Circuit ruled that they don’t apply if you don’t take the tip credit. In 2011, the DOL issued regulations saying that they apply whether you take the tip credit or not.

The Tip Pooling Loophole

In 2017, the Trump Administration proposed a rule that would clarify this issue.  

The rule sought to allow employers who pay a full minimum wage to include back of house workers in a tip pool.  But the rule as proposed left open a potential loophole – that in giving employers control over the tips (under the expectation that they would use them to pay back of house workers) that the rule would have also allowed employers to pocket the tips if they wanted to.  

This prompted an enormous uproar and ultimately the administration scaled back; the law would be revised to make clear that employers cannot under any circumstances keep any portion of their employees’ tips.

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New Spending Bill Bans Restaurants From Skimming Tips

New Spending Bill Bans Restaurants From Skimming Tips

President Donald Trump just signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill into law Friday that included a section that addresses restaurants and makes it clear that employers may not pocket any portion of tips that diners have left for restaurant staff.

Saru Jayaraman, president of the nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Center said to CNN Money, “We beat them. I think they realized how outrageous what they were proposing sounded to the public, and basically they backed down.”

But that “them” Jayaraman was referring to must have been Congress, as Restaurant industry representatives also showed approval for the rule.

Angelo Amador, senior VP at the National Restaurant Association, argued that most employers wouldn't skim tips even if they were allowed to.

"A decision by a restaurant to retain some or all of the customer tips rather than distributing them to the hourly staff would be unpopular with employees and guests alike, and it could severely damage the public's perception of the restaurant," Amador wrote in his comment on the proposed rule.

The language in the spending bill also does another big thing: It allows employers to pool tips and distribute them among staff, as long as the employer also pays the full minimum wage. Many owners have long sought to boost the pay of kitchen workers and bussers by forcing servers to share their tips.

That's fine with labor advocates at the National Employment Law Project, who say that pooling tips is a good way to create wage equity, as long workers are paid the full minimum wage and tips aren't shared with managers or any other supervisors. "We enthusiastically support this compromise," said Judy Conti, the group's director of federal affairs.

You can read more about the new spending bill and its implications at CNN Money.

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Starbucks Opens First La Boulange in L.A.

Credit: La Boulange

Credit: La Boulange

It’s official: Starbucks-owned La Boulange is officially open for business as of last week. It’s the first La Boulange restaurant in L.A. to open, and will cater to all three day parts — breakfast, lunch and dinner — with all-day hours, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Menu items range from omelets to customizable build-your-own burgers, with a full beverage menu to boot: coffee, cocktails, wine and bar on tap — even handcrafted milkshakes. Menu ingredients are locally sourced when possible. Read More