Pizza Chains Made a Comeback During Covid-19

The F&B industry was shaken to its knees when the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc around different sectors in the industry; however, one of the sectors is thriving apart from others in these trying times – Pizza chains.

With majority of consumers being homebound and with social distancing guidelines in place, most business were unprepared for the downfall while brands such as Dominoes were thriving in these unusual conditions.

Among many of the pandemic’s unsung heroes, the one’s making sure that we get our regular dose of pizzas are the pizza delivery guys as the rise in pizza consumption are not due to people flocking to pizza chains everywhere, but rather just calling in their orders and enjoying the pizzas from the comfort of their own home. Deemed the ultimate quarantine food, pizza travels well, can usually feed a whole family and holds up perfectly as leftover for the next day.

Domino’s Pizza profit surged 29 percent in the three months through June as consumers chowed down on pizza while riding out the COVID-19 pandemic from home.

As sales for pizza chains increase, it has also led to higher costs for various other essentials such as cleaning supplies, worker pay and also ingredients. Cheese prices went from an all-time low at one point to an all-time high in the last quarter, this means the increased sales have muted profits.

“The total impact from safety and cleaning equipment, enhanced sick pay and other compensation for our team members and support for our franchisees and our communities was $11 million,” CFO Stuart Levy said during an analyst call discussing results. The company expects those costs to remain for the duration of the pandemic.

The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based pizza chain earned $118.7 million, or $2.99 a share, as revenue jumped 13 percent year-over-year to $920 million. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting earnings of $2.24 a share on revenue of $911.5 million.

This success is due to the vital moves that Domino have made over the years, which includes more pizza chains than ever, features like “hotspots” in the U.S. which allows people order pizza to the beach and other outdoor locations, and has also tried their hands at self-driving delivery cars.

The shift from in-person order to digital orders led to the rise as well, as executives said about 70% of sales came through the company’s app and website.

Even though there are downs in terms of international sales, one thing they won’t do is to cut pay for employees.

“This is not the time to lower the rate we pay our valuable team members,” CFO Jeff Lawrence said. 

“Look, I’m a finance guy. I think about efficiency. Right now, it’s not about that. It’s about hiring more people, paying them more and giving them jobs. We’ll leave it for another day on getting efficient on the labor rate.”

How to Not Panic Buy for CMCO

With the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) being in effect from October 14th onwards, the public is already going through this “panic-buy” phase all over again.

For the second time in a year, shelves started going empty on the night of the announcement itself and it is unfortunate to say that we haven’t really learnt from the past when members of the public were over-stocking up on various supplies so much that it created a social media frenzy of “who could do it worst”.

Other than leaving the vulnerable population without the essentials, some of the goods that are hoarded are even often going to waste. So how do you shop for a lockdown?

How often should I go to the grocery store?

The less the better, but it all still comes down to how much food can you transport and store. Consider going an average once every two weeks. The more planned out you are, the less you’ll tend to go for another unneeded grocery run.

If I’m buying to prepare for two weeks, will I cause a shortage for others?

No. Even panic buying at its worst simply created short-term shortages in stores. That doesn’t mean that you should stock up that much more though as the public should’ve known by now that what they put it their shopping cart is usually already more than enough.

So what should I buy that would last me for two weeks?

A good start would be canned goods like canned tomatoes, beans and coconut milk as they’re useful for a variety of dishes while dry foods like pasta, rice, spices and even baking supplies are versatile to keep as well as they’ll be used up at some point. 

Fresh foods that are easy to freeze, sealed blocks of cheese, pre-frozen bags of vegetables can be kept in the freezer while root vegetables, potatoes and onions all can be keot for a long time in the pantry, provided they are stored in a cool, dark place.

If you were to buy meat, buy frozen fish and meat that you can store in the freezer.

All in all, rationalize. Think before you buy and make sure you aren’t overprepared and are coming out of quarantine with and overstocked amount of food supply at home.

What if I come across empty shelves during my grocery shopping trip? 

Empty shelves don’t mean a shortage of food and supplies; it simply means that stores and supply chains need to catch up with the increase in demand. 

It is just taking a while to get the product flowing through supply chain back to the stores, but it is safe to say that the products are surely is on its way back to the public’s demands.

Will there be enough for me if I miss out on the days where everyone is out buying?

Yes. Stores encourage customers to only buy what they need as there’s always plenty to go around for everyone. However, there won’t be a need to wait for a restock if we just buy what we need and not overstock supplies.

Hoarding isn’t really necessary as grocery stores are still going to be open for business and we aren’t limited to visit for emergency grocery shopping. Even if the products aren’t there when you need them, be flexible and move on with other options to replace what is short in supply.

Short Film by Malaysian Filmmaker Wins Multiple Awards

“The Cloud is Still There”, directed by Micky Lai Loke Yee, has garnered multiple awards and has been chosen for showcase by various film festivals.

Following a young Christian woman’s struggle with clashing religious beliefs, the main character, Xiao Le (played by Tan Cheong Bee) faces a dilemma regarding her family’s Taoist rituals. In a bid to save her grandfather’s soul, she prays by his bedside in secret.

Her mother (played by Tang Ling) catches her doing so and she is devastated. Both quarrel until the grandfather passes away. Xiao Le may have made things worst in her attempt to save her family.

Lai is a Master of Fine Arts graduate from the MetFilm School of London and revelaed to SAYS in an interview that she based “the Cloud is Still There” off of her own experiences.

Lai grew up as a Christian in her Taoist and conservative family.

“I remembered I cried so badly during the script consultation with Tan Seng Kiat (director of Shuttle Life, 2017) right after I came back from the UK, as he was trying to help sharpen my script by questioning and digging for something really deep from my heart, in order to understand the story and those characters better.”

“In a nutshell, I hope that The Cloud Is Still There will resonate with audiences’ memories of dealing with the grief of their dearest, and that they could see the precious gift beyond the grave.”

She also added on how she believes that the eyes are significant aspects when delivering a performance.

“I always believe that eyes are powerful and they don’t know how to lie in film.”

Lai thinks that actress Tan’s eyes are “very powerful in delivering her character’s emotional state.”

Lai thought long and hard hen looking for cast members, especially for the role of the mother and eventually found one of her liking as they were in Lai’s words “so authentic and it exposed the pains that we as the audiences try to hide”.

The 19-minute film has since won awards for Best Performance Award at the 2020 SeaShorts Film Festival and the Best ASEAN Short Film & Best Student Short Film at the Asian Cinematography AWARDS July 2020.

It has also been selected for the 2020 Busan International Film Festival, 2020 Norwich Film Festival and the 14th National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle.

McDonald’s Most Expensive Burger That Has Wagyu Beef in It!

If there’s one thing that burger pioneers would agree on, it’s that great meat often leads to great burger.

The quality of meat used in burgers often determines the quality of the burger itself; franchises like McDonalds may not be associated often with a high quality burger at most, but it is set to change that with its new venture, with a type of meat that is particularly known for its unique marbling and taste.

First released in 2018 and currently limited in McDonald’s Australia, testing of a new Wagyu beef burger were sold at a price of AU$10.75 (US$7.67 or MYR31.88), this makes it the most expensive item ever sold at McDonald’s locations anywhere in the world.

Similar to a cheeseburger but a tad bit gourmet, it starts with a 100 percent Australian-breed Wagyu beef patty nestled between a gourmet bun along with special sauce, bacon, caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce and a slice of cheddar cheese.

However, the burger has received mixed reviews from Australian customers at McDonald’s as they are either falling head over heels for it or said that the “wagyu is dry” and the burger tastes like “cardboard”. Another social media user added that he was “having this really strange feeling of disappointment”.

Those who fell for it were quoted saying “Just had one for lunch…not bad at all,” and “The meat is divine”.

“The Wagyu beef burger was a world first for McDonald’s when it first appeared on our menu last year (2018), and it was a definite hit with our customers,” said McDonald’s Australia marketing director Jo Feeney.

“My advice would be to get in quick while stocks last,” Ms Feeney said.

Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Petri Dish

What was once an idea has turned into a reality, as the idea of growing meat without the killing of any animals is being developed in laboratories around the world.

Lab grown meat, or commonly known as cultured meat, comes from being produced in an animal cell’s vitro cell culture, instead of from animals that are slaughtered for their meat. Similar to regenerative medicine, cultured meat uses many of the same tissue engineering techniques.

If widely adopted by the public, lab-grown meat could eliminate the cruel and unethical killings of animals that are raised for food. On top of that, the environmental costs of meat production could be reduced as the resources could be put towards generating and sustaining the cultured cells.

Companies such as Mosa Meat, Memphis Meats, Aleph Farms and BlueNalu are identified by IDTechEX to be leading the cultured meat revolution. 

To grow the meat, a muscle stamp is first taken from the animal followed by the collection of stem cells from the tissue; it is then multiplied to allow to be differentiated into primitive fibers and bulked up to from muscle tissue.

According to Mose Meat, one tissue sample from a cow can produce enough muscle tissue to make 80,000 quarter pounder burgers from McDonalds.

Lab grown meat could easily hit the shelves in the next few years but needs to overcome a number of barriers to be commercially viable.

A burger made from lab-grown meat was presented to journalists in 2013 but the $30,000 patty fell short as it was overly dry due to having too little fat content; expenses for research has since plummeted.

On top of that, lab-grown meat would have to be proved safe to eat before it is to be approved for the market, and organizations are only just beginning to figure out the regulation for that.

Despise pressure from traditional meat producers about how lab-generated products aren’t meat at all and shouldn’t be classified as such, lab-based meat companies are pushing forward in an ethical and environmentally sustainable future.

6 Reasons to Start Listening to Podcasts

Radio stations and media outlets are starting to jump on the podcasting bandwagon again as it’s resurfacing as one of the aesthetically pleasing forms of storytelling through what we as beings are succumbed to hearing, the good old medium that is human voice itself.

Used either to inform or entertain, new ideas for podcasts are being recorded every day and stations such BFM has a wide arrange of topics for listeners to choose from.

Apart from that, it’s easy to find as several streaming apps out there have podcasts in its list of contents. Podcasts also offer much more than written media as the voice of the podcasters literally put the words into your mind.

As humans, there’s nothing more sentimental than hearing another human being’s voice. So what other reasons are there to venturing into the world of podcasts?

1) It’s entertainment, free of charge

Podcasts are offered for free. When compared to audiobooks that costs usually about US$15 a piece and last between eight to 20 hours, you don’t have to pay a single cent to listen to podcasts that can be hundreds of hours in total.

2) You can listen to them anywhere

You probably can’t be on Netflix when driving or read a book when you’re cooking; this is where podcast triumphs as you can listen to them anywhere whilst doing almost anything. Whether you’re on the road, at the grocery store or even having dinner, listening to podcasts in those situations is as simple as just putting on your earbuds!

3) It offers another listening option

Ever got tired from listening to the usually cycle of songs that you have in you rmusic library, podcasts gives you a change in taste as it allows a break from music and you can easily switch between both when you feel like it!

4) Conversations > Stories

Unlike audiobooks or news on the radio, podcasts are usually the conversing of two or more individuals. Conversations feel more personal and it triggers thought of people bouncing thoughts off of each other, you can easily lose yourself in a passionate conversation and that leaves you wanting to learn more!

5) They’re perfect for chores

Doing chores around the house usually don’t require a lot of brain power as it’s pretty much a day-to-day routine for most people; podcasts are great with helping to pass the time as you could immerse yourself in light.

6) Endless learning about different subjects and industries

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A great source of entertainment and education, you’d never know if the next podcast you’re listening to is paving the way for your next field of study or career paths. Whether it be the entertainment industry, cars, technology or even an animal, there’s a podcast out there to teach you about that!

Sabah Polls Contributing to Rising Covid-19 Cases

Malaysia reached a new high in Covid-19 numbers yesterday, a total of 691 new cases with Sabah being the few that are leading the number of positive cases within the country.

After the state elections in Sabah, peninsular Malaysia saw a surge in positive cases and many of those who were positive had a travel history from Sabah. One of the major news was of a United Overseas Bank employee who tested positive which led to the bank branch being closed down for sanitization. 

Did the holding of the Sabah elections play a part in the rising numbers daily? Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says yes. 

“We couldn’t avoid it as we are bound by the federal constitution,” he said at a special telecast.

“The election had to be held within 60 days after the state assembly had been dissolved. It could not be postponed.”

He added that even though SOPs were set by the Election Commission, they weren’t observed during campaigning as he noticed people not practicing social distancing and were shoulder to shoulder even though they were wearing facemasks.

Muhyiddin also insisted that there were no double standards when it came to enforcing home quarantines on those returning from Sabah, citing himself undergoing the 14 day quarantine as of today.

“This is the SOP set by the health ministry, and as the prime minister I am not exempted from the SOP,” he said.

Health ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said earlier that the surge in Sabah could’ve been related to compliance with social distancing guidelines.

“The issue now is the non-compliance to standard operating procedures at every level,” Dr Noor Hisham said at a news conference, referring to the ministry’s guidelines.

“We are not blaming (anyone), but we are reminding … we hope that all of us learn this lesson so we do not repeat this mistake again.”

Malaysia’s positive cases still stands at 13,504 with 10,421 recoveries and 141 deaths as of October 7th.

How the Covid-19 Pandemic Impacted Learning

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Our country has reached a dreaded record high of 300 in terms of Covid-19 infections, and with the restricted movement control order (RMCO) being extended until the end of the year, among the many hardships that is often overlooked is to be a student.

With another wave of the pandemic looming behind our ears, it makes that already confusing year that much confusing for students both local and international, as a simple task which is attending classes, just became that much hard to accomplish.

When classes transition towards online teaching, both teachers and students had that little time to prepare for the change. Many of them who were unfamiliar with telecommunicating had to adapt to these changes swiftly, and majority of them were abruptly rushed into it, resulting in a messy classroom environment.

Consistent connectivity issues, video and voice issue arose that left teachers and learners unprepared. Students may have found the transition smooth as they may be more technology-adept, but the learning environment proved to be substantially different.

The way a place is set up defines the mood of those who are in it, students went from classroom chairs and tables to their bedside and the living room sofa; the mood that it has reflects upon the students who were now confined to the comfort of their own bedroom.

The mood for books simply isn’t there anymore as nobody associates the warm hues of the window curtain and the soft plush of a sofa pillow with work and books. Other than that, the compact homes that young adults can afford doesn’t stimulate reading as it even “lacks the space that eases the mind”.

The working environment also had to go through changes as well; in person teaching was no more and educators had to pick up on video conferencing tools way to quickly with a way too short notice. 

Access to proper teaching tools was always a game changer when it comes to learning, online teaching took that away. Nursing programs and various other STEM programs were unable to carry out in-person projects and it did a significant impact upon those students’ program schedule.

Apart from that, those who lacked internet, or the digital tools to learn were left behind and pretty much forgotten; the constant need to update to the latest software also meant that those who were unfamiliar with this were digitally stranded.

The global change of educational institutions is going to continue to impact educators and students around. Schools need continuous updates to their resources, and it should be implemented correctly to how those are resources.

Given the current situation, maybe more can be done in planning out a long term plan for situations such as this in order to ensure that we be better prepared for situations like that in the future.

How to Handle Negative Reviews as a Business Owner

As business owners, a good day at the office would result in positive reviews on your business’s online profile; however, when things go bad, it too reflects on there for all to see.

One negative review in a haystack of reviews may not seem like a big deal at first, but that doesn’t mean that you should let the review go unaddressed. 

According to the broadly.com, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation; that just gives that much of a reason to manage your reviews both positive and negative that are out there for the world to see.

So how do you do it?

1) Acknowledgement

Even if you think the customer is wrong, it’s important to show that you are acknowledging the issue and not sweeping it under the rug. Thank the customer for taking the trouble to leave a review and bringing it to your attention; it never hurts spend a minute to show that you’re taking the first step in resolving this issue.

2) Apologize

Where do you move on from acknowledgement? Apologising. It is important to stress that even when standing on opposing paths, you should be the one to take the step back to issue an apology.

3) Explain, if it’s necessary

Sometimes, there’s more to be done than just an apology. To rectify the issue, you’ll be needed to provide more information for your customer when needed. Tell the issue from your perspective in order to clear up any misunderstanding that may have arisen.

4) Compensate

As consumers, there’s nothing like having an unresolved issue with a business, as in their eyes it would be seen as a waste of their time or money. Go above and beyond to ensure that the consumer leaves with compensation of incentives that would attract them back to your doorstep again.

5) Discuss the matter offline

If the matter could not be brought to a conclusion online, go offline to reach a resolution with your customer. Make sure that you don’t come off as aggressive and present your intentions transparently in order to not bring up any miscommunication.

As Covid-19 Numbers Go Up, Shopping Mall Visitors Go Down

An eerie sight to all, malls across the country have been more empty and had fewer visitors than usual amid news of infected staff and visitors.

A lunchtime surge unlike any other days, NU Sentral was left with many empty shop lots after news of one of its staff being infected came out.

Similar with Sunway Pyramid and KL Gateway Mall, there wasn’t any visible crowds going out for their usual lunch routines and the ones that are hit the hardest by it are the food vendors and shop lot owners.

A food vendor at Nu Sentral, who wanted to be known as Noor Faezahtun, 19, told the New Straits Times that the mall was usually packed with people buying food from 7.30am until lunchtime.

People have seemed to stop going since Monday, when a case was reported there he said.

“Weekdays are usually busy for us, with crowds lining up to buy our nasi lemak from morning till afternoon.”But it’s now very quiet. I think since Monday we’ve seen a drop of 70 to 80 per cent in customers,” she said yesterday.

Izati Ahmad Fauzi, a worker at a clothing and hijab accessory kiosk at the mall, said that even though operation times were to be usual and following the standard operating procedures (SOP), the numbers has seen a significant drop from the start of the week.

“Usually, about 5pm to 7pm, there would be a lot of people in this area. But since Monday, fewer people are shopping here.

“Even the popular clothing shop near my kiosk looked deserted.”

She added that her customers were usually those working int the area and those transiting between train journeys.

Eric Koh, a shopper said that despite their following of the SOP guidelines, new infections had turned people away nonetheless.

“It is understandable that people are getting more anxious these days. Here, I can see that people maintain physical distancing.

“As long as a vaccine is not available yet, people will continue to exercise caution in public spaces. I think we need a year or two to really get rid of the virus and get things back to normal.”

In the last 10 days, there have been a number of cases involving at least five malls in the Klang Valley.