Food News Today transcripts for July 20th, 2011

July 22, 2011

Earlier this month the royal couple celebrated their wedding, and even came to in Los Angeles to continue the festivities, now comes the latest news on the wedding front - a vending wedding. A new allergy advocate who is making a difference and is just 16 years old; and just how are consumers saving on their grocery visits these days? For July 20th 2011. This is Food News Today.

Good Morning, immediately following Food News Today, we continue with a live discussion in our chat room below. Please sign in and join us. Food News Today is sponsored by ConAgra Foods, who shares with me the desire to provide the most current, interesting and unbiased food news.

The latest obesity counts were just released - state by state – are they correct, and what can we do about them? Colorado is still the least obese at 19.8% while Mississippi takes the cake… literally, a little too much cake at 34.4%... Just how should we empower people to lose those extra pounds?  Let me know what you think in the chat below, or e-mail me -


>In health and wellness we meet Alex Simko Allergy Advocate who has had enough.  Imagine having to sit all alone in the school cafeteria because of food allergies? More and more schools are trying to force just that with allergy free tables in their lunchrooms. Today we meet Alex Simko, who was forced to do just that- she’s severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and as a child, she was also allergic to beef, corn and eggs.  She didn’t let her food allergies get in the way of her self-confidence, and instead took her experiences to another level.  She testifies in state assembly, meets with national legislators and is on a mission to help kids with food allergies.


To learn more about food allergies and to sign up for a free buddy card, go to


>Food prices are going up and shoppers are frustrated by extreme couponers who clean out the bargains and leave empty shelves for the rest of us. Supermarkets, drug chains and mass merchants are all revising their coupon policies so the normal shopper can't save as much as they did a couple months ago.  In economy and spending we surveyed our Supermarket Guru consumer panel how they are coping and just how they are saving money on their groceries.

How much time do people spending planning their shopping/savings? 73% of our panel spend one hour or less to prepare.   Saving money is top of mind with 70% saying that saving money is extremely important. So what kinds of things are folks doing to save on their grocery bills? Eighty-six percent are clipping print coupons, 64% are printing online coupons, and 63% are matching coupons to grocery circulars. Just over half, 58%, are making and sticking to a shopping list, 25% are downloading coupons to their frequent shopper card and just 4% are using mobile coupons.  Although financial circumstances have forced many to pinch pennies, it isn't just saving money that motivates people to employ these strategies. Sixty-two percent do it out of necessity while 53% do it to have extra money to spend elsewhere. But for 50% it's just become a habit, and 49% simply say they enjoy it. By the way, just 6% are dumpster diving to find unused coupons.


>In consumer trends we look at the power of free… free food that is  The idea is a simple one - Dress like a cow and get free food at Chick-fil-A. Imagine thousands of people practicing mooing as Chick-fil-A fans dressed up like a cow to get free food at any of the chain's restaurants nationwide a couple Friday's ago.  It Is the seventh year the chain has celebrated Cow Appreciation Day, featuring the restaurant's bovine mascots that urge consumers to "Eat Mor Chikin." It's fun, a celebration certainly and makes us challenge all the supermarket retailers out there -  what can you do for your customer appreciation day?

>In extreme retail this morning we take a look at one way to save $23,999 - and lots of time. 

We’ve discussed several innovative vending machines here on food news today, everything from vending machines that grow lettuce to ones that make a pizza in 60 seconds - they all provide inexpensive, convenient, and fun fare, now here’s the latest - a vending machine that could save a lot of couples from the astronomical cost and planning nightmare of a traditional wedding- because for just $1 you can say “I do.”  By the way, according to the Wedding Report, the average American wedding costs $24,000-  so this just may be one of those big ideas. AutoWed offers a quick hitch, a couple of rings and a personalized certificate for just a buck! Audio prompts and specially produced music lead a couple through the process using a bespoke retro keyboard and VFD display all wrapped in a cadillac pink cabinet. Rings come inside plastic eggs, and a wedding receipt printer make it official. The designers a UK-based company -  Concept Shed describe the machine as “part parking meter, part Cadillac and part cathedral with a little steam punk thrown in,”  AutoWed even understands the nuances of modern love. Note: “Press one for straight, two for gay, three for lesbian or four for B.F.F.”  of course, it doesnt end there... It even finishes up by offering a 10% discount on AutoDivorce.

For Food News Today, I’m Phil Lempert, thanks for joining us. If you have a colleague in retailing, the media or a blogger who would like to also receive our advance email - please send them to to sign up. Next week’s stories will be in your Tuesday email.