Category Archives: Guilty Pleasures

G20 summit will determine what the Fed does next

G20 summit will determine what the Fed does next

Welcome to the Thematic Signals podcast, where we look to distill everyday noise into clear investing signals using our thematic lens and our 10 investing themes. 



On this episode, host Chris Versace discusses the sharp June rebound in the stock market that is being fueled by “bad news is good news” with return of Fed related hopium for a rate cut. Recently Federal Reserve Chairman Powell confirmed the Fed is closely watching trade and tariff developments and “will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.” As Chris explains, given the timing of the G20 meeting vs. the next Fed monetary policy meeting, those hoping for a June rate cut are likely to be very disappointed. Also on the podcast, several ripped from the headlines signals for a number of our investing themes, including Cleaner Living, Middle-Class Squeeze, Guilty Pleasures and Safety & Security

Have a topic or a conversation you think we should tackle on the podcast, email me at cversace@tematicaresearch.com

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Pizza is America’s favorite food, but…

Pizza is America’s favorite food, but…

Let’s get this out of the way before we get started with this signal by saying that we here at Tematica love pizza. We may be part of the herd on this one, but what can we say – we love it. And it seems we are far from alone, given that it seems pizza is America’s favorite food as well. Per the data, 350 slices of pizza are consumed every second – whoah!

But… and yes there is a but… as consumers embrace our Cleaner Living theme, what will become of this Guilty Pleasure staple?

We’ve seen gluten-free based pizzas come to market, and more recently they’ve been joined by cauliflower based crust ones (trust me, they are better than you might think). Odds are healthier friendly alternatives are on the way as evidenced by even Little Caesar offering a pie topped with plant-based Impossible Sausage.

We have yet to see any movement on the plant-based meat alternatives by industry heavies Pizza Hut, Domino’s, or Papa Johns, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled and our taste buds ready.

Do we think traditional pizza will fall by the wayside? No, but it just may be reserved for moments people truly want to indulge. The same is likely true for burgers and while that may fly in the face of all the headlines for Beyond Meat, the reality is a tasty burger, just like an incredible slice of pizza, will never go out of fashion.

According to a survey conducted last year by The Harris Poll for the California Pizza Kitchen chain, some 21% of the 2,000-plus American diners questioned named pizza as the food they’d pick if they could only eat one thing for the rest of their lives. Pizza beat out steak (16%), burgers (13%), both tacos and pasta (11% each) — though strangely enough, only one pizza operation made our recent list of America’s favorite regional fast food chains: Seattle-based MOD Pizza, which is also the fastest-growing fast-food chain in America.

Every man, woman, and child in the nation eats an average of 23 pounds of pizza annually — that translates to around 46 slices — adding up to a total of about 3 billion pies. To break the pie chart down another way, about 350 slices get consumed every second of the day.

A lot of that pizza — 59%, according to one recent estimate — gets eaten at home, and while some ambitious cooks doubtless make their own from scratch (or with a premade crust), it’s safe to say that a large portion comes out of the supermarket freezer case. (Americans spend about $4.4 billion on frozen pizza annually, and it’s said that two out of three households consume it regularly.)

Source: America’s 25 Favorite Pizza Joints – 24/7 Wall St.

Family Dollar expands its plan to sell alcohol

Family Dollar expands its plan to sell alcohol

When times get tough, companies look to tap into the goods and services with inelastic qualities. In other words, things people will buy no matter what the speed of the economy. Many of these can be found in our Guilty Pleasures investing theme including the one that Middle-Class Squeeze company Dollar Tree is embracing – alcohol.

For Family Dollar, the added benefit is that alcohol, at least in our experience, is a consumable product that needs periodic replacement depending on one’s drinking habits. This portends to recurring trips on which Family Dollar likely hopes to capture additional spending.

Dollar Tree, the company that purchased Family Dollar in 2015, this week announced plans to sell alcohol in 1,000 select stores across the country.

Family Dollar, which serves low- and middle-income neighborhoodsand has more than 8,000 stores nationwide, introduced sales of adult beverages at 45 stores in the first quarter, it said in a news release.

The plans are part of a larger company “store optimization” to improve performance that also includes expanding freezers and coolers in 400 Family Dollar stores and rebranding 200 Family Dollar stores to the Dollar Tree brand.

“We are simply providing customers with a convenient option to purchase adult beverage product while shopping for everyday needs at their neighborhood store,” Kayleigh Painter, investor and media relations manager for Dollar Tree, said.

Source: Family Dollar Plans to Sell Alcohol at 1,000 Stores – The New York Times

Ben & Jerry’s introduces CBD-infused ice cream… but the FDA needs to approve it

Ben & Jerry’s introduces CBD-infused ice cream… but the FDA needs to approve it

We continue to see the market expansion for CBD products, some of which tie into our Cleaner Living investing theme while other hemp-related derivatives fall into our Disruptive Innovators theme. There is little question that a CBD infused ice cream from former hippies Ben & Jerry would be part of our Guilty Pleasure investing theme. Candidly, we suspect we are only in the early innings of the cannabis wave, which is one that is likely to get only stronger as consumer acceptance builds and federal legalization is had.

Ben & Jerrys announced a new flavor Thursday, but it will only arrive on store shelves if the U.S. Food and Dug Administration approves it.The ice cream company says its new flavor will be infused with cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is a component of hemp, part of the same family of plants as marijuana. Ingesting CBD won’t get you high. It generally has very little, or no, THC — the psychoactive component of pot.

“We’re doing this for our fans,” said Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy. “We’ve listened and brought them everything from Non-Dairy indulgences to on-the-go portions with our Pint Slices. We aspire to love our fans more than they love us and we want to give them what they’re looking for in a fun, Ben & Jerry’s way.”

Source: Ben & Jerry’s introduces CBD-infused ice cream — but the FDA has to approve it first

Impossible Foods Debuts Meatless Sausage with Little Caesars Pizza

Impossible Foods Debuts Meatless Sausage with Little Caesars Pizza

We’re pretty sure that almost everyone would agree that from the crust to the sauce, the cheese and the toppings pizza is a Guilty Pleasure, largely because it tastes so good. Yes, there can be bad pizza but that tends to be far and few between. Yet even the pizza market is looking to tap into our Cleaner Living investment theme as evidenced by Little Caesars Pizza teaming with Impossible Foods as it launches the Impossible Sausage.

Little Caesars will be taking the plunge, and while taste will be a key factor of adoption, we have to wonder how much of the Impossible Sausage will be glossed over by the mushrooms, green peppers, caramelized onions, sauce and cheese on the Impossible Supreme Pizza. Potentially a tasty baby step for Little Caesars, but a much bigger one for Impossible Foods.

For the first time since Impossible Foods introduced its game-changing meatless burger in 2016, the plant-based food purveyor is launching a new product: The Impossible Sausage.

The vegan, halal, and kosher-friendly sausage is making its exclusive debut today as a topping on Little Caesars’ $12 Impossible Supreme Pizza, alongside mushrooms, green peppers, and caramelized onions.

The Detroit-based chain’s leaning into the meatless craze is a new tactic. It’s better known for meat toppings and such culinary stunts as wrapping pepperoni pizzas in 3.5 feet of bacon. Just last month, its senior vice president of global marketing, Ed Gleich, declared American consumers “want more meat,” when announcing the return of a pie packed with pepperoni, bacon, sausage, beef, and ham.

To get a slice, you’ll have to go to Yakima, Wash., Ft. Meyers, Fla., or Albuquerque, N.M.

Source: Impossible Foods Debuts Meatless Sausage Atop Little Caesars Pizza | Fortune

Dunkin’ and Harpoon Brewery team up for a Guilty Pleasure coffee pale ale

Dunkin’ and Harpoon Brewery team up for a Guilty Pleasure coffee pale ale

With spring in the air across more of the US, it will soon be time for outdoor yard work and lounging by the pool, river, lake or ocean. In our view here at Tematica, nothing goes better with those activities than a cold one, and yes we are talking about beer. For those both under and over the legal drinking age, that adult beverage and several others fall under our Guilty Pleasure investing theme.

We’ve talked before about the rise of craft and other designer beers, and once again Dunkin’ and Harpoon Brewery are at it again. If you’re a stout beer fan like Tematica’s Chief Economist Lenore Hawkins, you may want to give a try to their latest coffee infused beer. It’s not exactly a new combination, but one that is becoming increasingly popular although it seems more like a Fall beverage than a summer one in our view.

From the team Tematica perspective, it’s two aspects of our Guilty Pleasure theme coming together… not too unlike chocolate and peanut butter. Now to see what it tastes like. Cheers!

With the return to high temperatures this spring, people may be clamoring for a cool beverage. A sweet iced coffee or a chilled beer might help to satisfy one’s yearning to cool down on a warm spring day.

Luckily, for fans of both iced coffee and beer, Dunkin’ is not making you decide between the two.

The quick service restaurant is teaming up with Harpoon Brewery again this year to serve up the Harpoon Dunkin’ Summer Coffee Pale Ale, a coffee-inspired beer. The beverage has 5% ABV and combines the flavors of Dunkin’s Original Blend with a bright pale ale.

This marks the second collaboration between Dunkin’ and the Boston-based Harpoon. In October of last year, the two combined to release Harpoon Dunkin’ Coffee Porter.

The companies’ newest beverage will be available from now until the end of the summer.

Source: Dunkin’ and Harpoon Brewery team up on second beer, a coffee pale ale

Weekly Issue: As earnings season continues, the market catches a positive breather

Weekly Issue: As earnings season continues, the market catches a positive breather

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Alcohol consumption in the US falls for the 3rd consecutive year

Alcohol consumption in the US falls for the 3rd consecutive year

One would think that with the explosion of the craft beer market would have driven overall beer consumption higher. Nope, that’s not what the data is showing us as wine consumption continued to its impressive string of more than 20 years of consecutive growth while beer consumption fell.

What we are seeing is a change in consumer preferences and it is altering the playing field in our Guilty Pleasure investing theme. In a Signal last week, Lenore Hawkins shared how “the world’s biggest brewers and liquor companies are having to push beyond their traditional fare and roll out teas, energy drinks, and nonalcoholic spirits.”  These same brewers are also scrambling to figure out ways to lure consumer back to their core product or attract new ones. In the past, we’ve seen them leverage product extensions under existing brand names (anyone remember Bud Light Lime?), but now with the increasing legalization of cannabis in the US, some of them have started R&D work on cannabis-infused beverages. Odds are they are doing their homework for if and when cannabis is legalized at the federal level in the US, which is a likely inevitability just not one that is going to happen during the current government shutdown.

Total cases of beer, wine and spirits consumed in the U.S. dropped 0.8 percent to nearly 3.35 billion in 2018, the third consecutive year of declining volumes, according to a report from IWSR, which studies the beverage market.

The main culprit is the beer slump, with consumption down 1.5 percent last year as more drinkers gravitated to spirits and wine. It was the 24th straight year that wine gained volume in the U.S. according to IWSR, with prosecco a standout. Mezcal, meanwhile, drove growth in spirits.

“It’s clear that Americans are drinking less overall, which is likely a result of the continued trend toward health and wellness,” Brandy Rand, IWSR’s U.S. president and global chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “We’ve also seen for some time now that consumers aren’t necessarily loyal to just one category.”

Source: How Much Alcohol Do Americans Drink? – Bloomberg