Progressive Grocer - January 2018

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Made using the same pure, wholesome ingredients you would find in your own kitchen cupboard! Everything you want in a muffin, nothing you don’t. Visit for product information.

Made using the same pure, wholesome ingredients you would find in your own kitchen cupboard! Everything you want, nothing you don’t. Visit for product information.

Transparency: How and why food retailers should embrace the concept everyday holidays Special occasions can drive grocery sales all year round Grocerant Groove Staying on top of culinary, convenience trends reaps rewards click-and-collect What retailers need to know to succeed


Rouses Markets’ Baton Rouge Revival Donny Rouse, CEO

January 2018 • Volume 97, Number 1 $10 •



Co-merchandising your deli products with Coca-Cola brands can increase your deli food sales. Talk to your Coca-Cola representative or visit to learn more.

* Nielsen Retail Execution Audit Custom Study 2015 Š 2017 The Coca-Cola Company


Grocery shopping evolving into omnichannel experience he transition to a more digital grocery shopping experience may feel slow compared with other categories like books, music and clothing. But online grocery may dramatically transform the retail food landscape sooner than we think.


While the majority of consumers still shop in-store for groceries and largely enjoy doing so, new research from American Express suggests that younger shoppers are eager to make it an omnichannel experience. According to this research, one-third of millennials say they’re shopping online for groceries more than they were at this time last year, and 57 percent say they will shop online for groceries more in the next year.

Shoppers who shop online for groceries more frequently than they did a year ago

32% 18-34

23% 35-54

8% 55+

Shoppers who plan to shop online for groceries more frequently in the next 12 months



way, especially among consumers ages 35 to 54 (78 percent). Other perceived benefits of online grocery shopping include time savings (62 percent), value for money (40 percent), and making it easier to see what’s on sale (34 percent).

20% 18-34



The No. 1 barrier to all online grocery shopping is the desire to see the food in person—but it’s a much lower barrier for younger consumers, according to the American Express research report “State of Grocery Retail: Frictionless Customer Experience.” These shoppers are more likely to say their top barrier is the lack of options for online grocery shopping in their area, and they love the convenience and time savings when they are able to shop online. In fact, convenience is the top reason (69 percent) for buying groceries online among all of those who primarily shop this

Meeting the digital shopping needs of grocery customers will soon play a significant role in reshaping retail food shopping into an experience that includes many variations on brick and mortar and online options. Retailers that aren’t adapting and investing in their online shopping offerings today are unlikely to remain competitive in the marketplace in the coming years.

State of Grocery Retail: Frictionless Customer Experience EnsembleIQ Research Solutions surveyed 1,000 consumers to understand their overall front-end shopping experiences, including perception around omnichannel commerce. The survey was conducted online in the United States June 12-19, 2017; margin of sampling error is ± 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.













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Contents 01.18

Volume 97 Issue 1




how grocers can embrace the concept and communicate it to shoppers.

Becoming transparent

50 MaRkETing

Store of the Month

Consumer Connections

Picking Up the Baton Back in business after a devastating flood, this store demonstrates rouses’ commitment to the community.

departments 8 EdiTOR’S nOTE

Use that tax Windfall Wisely

Special-occasion shopping doesn’t stop with the major holidays.

40 16 COnSUMER inSighTS

22 all’S WEllnESS

the Purpose of Prepared foods

Better nutrition With Prepared foods


86 EdiTORS’ PiCkS

Salty Snacks

food, Beverage & nonfood Products

12 PUlSE 20 MinTEl CaTEgORY inSighTS 14 in-STORE EVEnTS CalEndaR

March 2018

feminine hygiene and Incontinence

90 TECh Talk

Bridging the Gap Progressive grocer Januar y 2018


contents 01.18

Volume 97 Issue 1

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 800-422-2681 Fax: 978-671-0460 sVP, Brand director Katie Brennan 201-855-7609 • Mobile: 917-859-3619

56 PrePared foods

Growing Grocerants

edITorIaL Managing Director of content Strategy Joan driggs 224-632-8211

Serving up the latest culinary trends and convenient meal solutions helps retailers compete in a multicategory bid for food dollars.

eDitorial Director James dudlicek 224-632-8238 Managing eDitor Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603 Digital & technology eDitor randy Hofbauer 224-632-8240 Senior eDitor Katie Martin 224-632-8172

66 Produce

Senior eDitor anna Wolfe 207-773-1154

Fresh Start

contributing eDitorS Kathy Hayden, Bob Ingram, Lynn Petrak, Barbara Sax and Jennifer Strailey

The new year spells major merchandising opportunities for seasonal produce.

adVerTIsING saLes & BusINess SoutheaSt account executive Larry cornick 224.632.8248 MiDweSt Marketing Manager angela flatland (ar, co, il, in, ia, kS, ky, Mi, Mo, ne, nD, ok, SD, tn, wi) 224-229-0547 • Mobile: 608-320-4421


Senior Marketing Manager Judy Hayes 925-785-9665 Senior Marketing Manager Theresa Kossack 214-226-6468 weStern regional Marketing Manager rick Neigher (ca, or, wa) 818-597-9029 northeaSt Marketing Manager Mike shaw 201-855-7631 • Mobile: 201-281-9100 account executive/claSSifieD aDvertiSing Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373 claSSifieD ProDuction Manager Mary Beth Medley 856-809-0050 eVeNTs SvP, eventS & conferenceS Maureen Macke 773-992-4413 cusToM MedIa general Manager, cuStoM MeDia Kathy colwell 224-632-8244 MarKeTING Marketing Manager courtney Hofbauer 224-632-8215 audIeNce deVeLoPMeNT Director of auDience DeveloPMent Gail reboletti auDience DeveloPMent Manager shelly Patton 215-301-0593 liSt rental The Information refinery 800-529-9020 Brian clotworthy SubScriber ServiceS/Single-coPy PurchaSeS 978-671-0449 or email at arT/ProducTIoN Director of ProDuction Kathryn Homenick

74 TecHNoLoGy

82 NoNfoods

The Fundamentals of Click-and-Collect

Better Interactions

Speed, substitutions, suggestive selling are just 3 essentials.


The drug channel grabs a larger share in key OTC categories that often require a pharmacist’s recommendation.

aDvertiSing/ProDuction Manager Jackie Batson 224-632-8183 • Fax: 888-316-7987 creative Director colette Magliaro art Director Bill antkowiak rePrINTs, PerMIssIoNs aNd LIceNsING Wright’s Media 877-652-5295

corPoraTe offIcers

78 equIPMeNT & desIGN

Ordering Up

The right equipment can mean more retail foodservice profits.


executive chairMan alan Glass chief oPerating officer richard rivera chief financial officer Len farrell chief buSineSS DeveloPMent officer Korry stagnito PreSiDent, enSeMbleiQ canaDa Jennifer Litterick PreSiDent of enterPriSe SolutionS/ chief cuStoMer officer Ned Bardic PreSiDent anD executive Director, Path to PurchaSe inStitute Mike McMahon chief Digital officer Joel Hughes chief huMan reSourceS officer Greg flores

Beat the Competition by Delivering a Remarkable Customer Experience

OmniLink® TM-T88VI

Epson POS Printers empower endless possibilities – now and in the future. The flexibility and versatility of the TM-T88VI enable you to deliver an exceptional experience for your customers. Connect simultaneously to traditional PC-POS and mobile POS systems. Leverage Epson’s beacon1 support for distributed proximity-based printing, and OmniLink Merchant Services for access to best-of-breed cloud applications, including third party loyalty apps. Plus, triple interface support and NFC2 support for easy Bluetooth pairing. All with the performance, reliability and efficiency you’d expect from the industry leader.

Another Innovation from Epson Business Solutions EPSON is a registered trademark and EPSON Exceed Your Vision is a registered logomark of Seiko Epson Corporation. OmniLink is a registered trademark of Epson America, Inc. Copyright 2017 Epson America Inc. 1. Requires the use of a beacon dongle connected to TM-T88VI printer via the USB-A port. Supports only Apple® iBeacon™ compliant format. The Epson-approved dongle is Laird model BT820. 2. NFC tag requires use of a device that includes NFC reader, and may require additional software.

Editor’s NotE By Jim Dudlicek

Use That Tax Windfall Wisely ith traditional grocers struggling to redefine themselves in a constantly disruptive marketplace, tax reform couldn’t have come at a better time. Analysts indicate that the retail sector will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed both houses of Congress just before Christmas. In a tight-margin business like grocery, the opportunity to have additional money to invest in innovation, workforce and price reduction is a windfall for grocery retailers. “The bill dramatically lowers the corporate tax rate and increases expensing levels, which should help fuel improvements in technology and job growth within our industry,” remarked Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer and SVP for government relations with the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute. Smaller, independent retailers also see cause for celebration. “Independent grocers across the country can feel more optimistic now that a once-in-a-generation tax reform bill has finally passed Congress,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of the Arlington-based National Grocers Association. “For years, independent supermarket operators have tried to keep pace with a rapidly changing marketplace while operating in an industry with high effective tax rates on just 1 percent to 2 percent profit margins. This new weight lifted off their shoulders will allow stores to invest more in their companies, employees and communities.” The Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association similarly declared that the tax reform package “will help spur job creation within the grocery manufacturing industry and provide tax relief for working families,” in the words of GMA President and CEO Pamela G. Bailey. And Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the Washington-based National Retail Federation, said that the new lower tax rates should “put more money in the pockets of consumers,” and presumably drive higher basket rings at the grocery store checkout. Indeed, if the plan works as pitched, there should be benefits for all. That said, retailers should take care to spend this money wisely. Shareholder payouts ought not be a priority so as not to fulfill the prophecies of those who brand all industry as “evil corporations.” To be sure, we’re at a time in retail history when resources need to be pumped into building your business to keep it fresh, relevant and vibrant amid fierce competition across multiple channels. 8

We’re at a time in retail history when resources need to be pumped into building your business to keep it fresh, relevant and vibrant amid fierce competition across multiple channels.” If you haven’t already, now’s the time to invest in omnichannel initiatives. Direct more resources toward talent development and associate career-building programs to ensure a steady flow of quality leadership from the checkstand to the boardroom. Remodel your stores to better reflect the shopping habits and need states of today’s consumers. Boost incentives to associates who make it all work as the public faces of your company. Reassess your community outreach initiatives and find new ways to give back to the folks who support your business. Wise investment of this timely tax relief has the potential for manifold returns in such areas as customers, market share and brand image.

Consumer insights This month, we launch a new feature driven by our own market research, aimed at helping retailers better understand their shoppers. Check it out on page 16.

Jim Dudlicek Editorial Director Twitter @jimdudlicek

Trion Cooler Merchandising ®

AMT Adjustable Merchandising Tray ™

Organize Org ga aniz Chaos, Increase Sales Designed for yogurts; dips; spreads; puddings, gelatins and snacks; ice cream and sherbet; instant soup cups; microwave single-serves; food-to-go offerings, tubs, bottles and other difficult to organize products. ■

Small AMT adjusts from 2 11/16" to 3 5/16" wide for 4-6 ounce yogurt cups and similar small products.

Medium AMT adjusts from 3 5/16" to 3 15/16" wide for 5-6 ounce greek yogurt cups and mid-range offerings.

Large AMT adjusts from 4" to 4 5/8" wide for tub, pint, 11/2 pint, ice cream and large containers.

Width adjusts in 1/8" increments and locks in place. Two breakaways allow easy adjustment in the field from standard 22" length to 20" and 18."

Built-in manual feed allows trouble-free forwarding and facing of products for increased sales and profits.

Trays lift out for rear restocking and proper rotation.

Durable, easy-clean plastic construction for long-life, even under heavy use and in harsh environments.

Optional plain-paper label, sign and flag holder provides a protected home for product and price information and improves promotional opportunities. Proudly Made in the U.S.A.

Built-in Manual Feed Optional Label/Flag Holder

Adjustable Width Breakaway Lengths

Built-in Handles Built-in Ventilation

Paddle Extenders Sidewall Extenders

Part of the Trion® Shelf Works® System of Cooler and Storewide Merchandising Solutions.

©2014 Trion Industries, Inc. 297 Laird Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-6997 Phone 570-824-1000 l Fax 570-823-4080 Toll-Free In U.S.A. 800-444-4665 Patents and patents pending. Note: Product photography is a simulation of a retail environment and is not meant to imply endorsement by or for any brand or manufacturer.

At Blount, we know that the best way to create traffic around your hot-to-go bar is by going all-out. Consider how Blount's Mac & Cheese compliments your chicken wings and turns an everyday option into a gotta have meal. Our sides are ready-to-heat and easy to handle, which translates to low labor. Expect word to get out by going all-out. When your customers eat well, you profit well. For more info, contact your Blount sales rep at 800-274-2526


What’s trending noW on


A new parent company for Ahold Delhaize‘s U.S. banners caused the most buzz among readers of during the Nov. 16-Dec. 15 time period. As of the new year, Ahold Delhaize USA — helmed by former Ahold USA COO Kevin Holt — is the parent of Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Giant, Hannaford, Giant/Martin’s and grocery delivery service Peapod, as well as Retail Business Services, a U.S. shared-services company supporting the brands. In other top news, grocers made difficult decisions in trying times as the year came to a close, with Door to Door Organics shuttering unexpectedly as it was making plans to expand, Lidl stalling expansion in New Jersey and elsewhere, and Kroger closing down its experimental fresh-centric Main & Vine banner. And even though the news came toward the close of the period observed, Target’s purchase of third-party grocery delivery service and Instacart rival Shipt for $550 million made a huge impact on readers, as the acquisition will position Target as an even greater contender in an age when Walmart and Amazon are developing and expanding same-day delivery capabilities.


Ahold Delhaize Creates New Parent Company for U.S. Businesses


Lidl’s Plans for 2nd N.J. Store at a Standstill: Report

“A real estate portfolio that includes several hundred sites, which is what we have, requires constant evaluation and optimization.” —Will Harwood, spokesman, L idl US


Door to Door Organics Shutters Abruptly


C&S Names Mike Duffy CEO


Target Buying Shipt for $550M


Kroger to Shut Main & Vine

“From the Main & Vine experience, we have learned many things about some of the best ways to provide quality, fresh and new foods to our customers. Our family of companies has already started to incorporate some of these features and unique offerings in other stores across the country.” —Kristal Howard, he ad of corporate communications, media relations, K roger



THANK YOU! Food companies are driving transformational changes in how animals on farms are treated. Your companies are switching to cage-free eggs; you’re switching to more humane pork products. And in recent months, dozens of the largest food retailers—including Burger King, Subway, Jack in the Box, TGI Fridays, Boston Market, Sonic Drive-In, Aramark, Sodexo, Compass Group, Focus Brands and many more—have announced plans to ensure their chicken suppliers switch to healthier breeds of birds, provide animals better living conditions, and transition to a more modern processing system. Your work has already led major poultry providers, like Perdue Farms and Wayne Farms, to make similar animal welfare announcements of their own. You’re setting the stage for a more humane food supply and more humane society. Thank you.

in-store events

Calendar S



National Noodle Month National Nutrition Month American Red Cross Month National Women’s History Month



National Peanut Month National Fresh Celery Month National Frozen Food Month National Flour Month



National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day. Promote beyondthe-bread peanut butter ideas on your Pinterest page.



National Banana Cream Pie Day



Moscow Mule Day

National Employee Appreciation Day. Use #Employee AppreciationDay to post on social media. National Cold Cuts Day


National Pound Cake Day


National Cheese Doodle Day


National Oreo Day


National Cereal Day

National Frozen Food Day. Photograph your store’s most creative displays.


Daylight Saving Time begins. Remember to set the clocks ahead one hour. Seafood Expo North America begins and continues through March 13.


National Sloppy Joe Day. Share your staff’s recipes for this favorite.


International Waffle Day


Girl Scouts Day. Invite a troop in to sell in your store.


National Chicken Noodle Soup Day


Stock dips and salsas for National Potato Chip Day.

National Milky Way Day. Create a display of our galaxy featuring the candy.



Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif., opens exhibits in the North Halls today. The Main Hall exhibits are open March 9-11.

National Crab Day



National Everything You Think is Wrong Day

Coffee Fest Baltimore begins and continues through March 18.






International Women’s Day

National Peanut Lover’s Day

National Meatball Day

National Artichoke Hearts Day


International Home + Housewares Show begins in Chicago and continues through March 13.

National Ranch Dressing Day


St. Patrick’s Day Not coincidentally, it’s also National Green Beer Day.

National Coconut Torte Day


National Oatmeal Cookie Day. Make your customers’ day be offering samples.


Encourage employees to make suggestions for Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. National Spinach Day


National Ravioli Day


National Crunchy Taco Day

World Water Day Offer fun foods that require no preparation for International Goof Off Day.

Spring begins. Make sure that your store is ready for the season.

National French Bread Day



Spanish Paella Day

It’s Something on a Stick Day. Sample appetizers, main courses and desserts — on sticks. Whole Grain Sampling Day


National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day

National Chips and Dip Day. Cross-merchandise chips-and-dip bowls and platters.

Make sure that your Easter product displays are stocked for Good Friday.

National Cake Pop Day. Offer a class on making and decorating these treats.

Passover begins. For National Oranges and Lemons Day, plan a class that showcase the versatility of citrus fruit. National Oysters on the Half Shell Day


Grab some.

Start the year right for shoppers looking for a nutritious start. V8® has no added sugar* and comes in the original V8 ® 100% Vegetable Juice, and V8 ® Lower Sugar Juice Blends like NEW Sweet Greens and NEW Orange Carrot. *Not a low-calorie food.

Consumer InsIghts

Market Research

The Purpose of Prepared Foods Why are consumers turning to prepared foods? More supermarkets are offering freshly prepared foods to meet consumer demand. But what are those demands? Progressive Grocer partnered with sister division EIQ Research Solutions to interview 500 consumers who shopped in supermarkets in the past month to better understand the reasons behind the “why” of the purchase. The top two reasons for purchasing fresh prepared foods were “too busy to cook” (41.5 percent) and “buying just the amount needed” (41.5 percent). Most consumers (45.9 percent) also buy enough for two. Below are additional insights.

When you visit the following types of retailers, how often do you purchase fresh prepared foods? (Percentage of respondents answering often or very often)

Older generations are more likely to purchase prepared foods from conventional supermarkets than other formats, while Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to include supercenters in their prepared food purchasing decisions. Base: 500 respondents who shopped at supermarkets in the past month

23% of men purchase prepared meals just for themselves; this was the highest category.

Younger Millennials

Older Millennials

Gen X

Baby Boomers

Mature/ Silents

Conventional Supermarket








4 5%














Limited-assortment Supermarket Natural/Gourmet Food Supermarket

Which types of fresh prepared foods do you purchase? Younger Millennials

Older Millennials

Gen X

Baby Boomers

Mature/ Silents

Hot ready-to-eat foods from the deli/prepared food area






Ready-to-eat foods from the deli/prepared food area that are intended to be eaten cold






Heat-and-eat chilled foods from the deli/ prepared food area






Meals or beverages from an in-store restaurant





12 .5%







Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2017


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Front End

Shelf Stoppers

Shelf Stoppers


Salty Snacks

(52 weeks ending April 2, 2016)

Salt y SnackS re ached $28.4 billion in total SaleS thiS paSt ye ar, down ne arly 3 percent from a ye ar ago.

Consumers chose Consumer frozen broccoli over Insights alternatives for

$7,000,000,000 6,000,000,000

a variety of reasons:

Consumers are spending more on snacking 12% because across it’s annually and easy allquick channels.

5,000,000,000 4,000,000,000 3,000,000,000

The average American household spends:



because it tastes great

1,000,000,000 0 52 wks - w/e 11/25/17 potato chips

Spotlight Broccoli 52 wks - w/e on52Frozen wks - w/e 52 wks - w/e


52 wks - w/e 11/30/13


tortilla chips meat Snacks cheese Broccoli as an ingredient is most commonlypopcorn Frozen broccoli is most oftenSnacks used in a side consumed at dinner, followed by lunch. dish, followed by as a main entrée. 3%

Despite the challenges to growth across the fast-moving consumer goods 9% seen strong performance across both near- and industry, salty snacks have longer-term horizons. Posting dollar growth of nearly 3 percent in the latest year, they’ve also shown consistency with a compounded dollar growth rate of 4 percent over the past four years. OCCASION Valued at over $28 billion, salty snacksMEAL haveITEM been 29% TYPE CLASS 35% 61% bolstered by protein-centric strongholds like pork62% and meat snacks. Channel shifting has driven snack growth across channels, and as consumer tastes and cravings become more varied, we’ve seen an increased appetite for snack combos. Snack variety packs lead the category, growing at 8 percent in dollars. Growth has begun to slow across the largest and LUNCH OTHER SIDE DISH MAIN ENTRÉE OTHER most popular snacks such asDINNER tortilla chips, popcorn and potato chips. The recipe for success in snacking may now lie in versatility, or, in the case of meats snacks and variety packs, bridging health and indulgence, or hitting many needs at once through variety.”

—Jordan Rost,

because it’s healthy and nutritious



more via because it’s low in conventional grocery calories, fat and sugar


more via convenience and gas

Vp consumer insights, nielsen

Spotlight on Salty Snacks Comparison Products


breakfast food



prepared food-dry mixes



desserts, gelatins and Syrup



pizza, Snacks, hors d’oeuvres-frozen






Source: nielsen


Percent Penetration


more via warehouse and club

Source: nielsen homescan, total U.S., 52 weeks ending Jan. 28, 2017, Upc-coded

- E






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Artisan® is a registered trademark of SaltWorks®, Inc. © 2018

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Mintel Category insights

Global New Products Database

Feminine Hygiene and Incontinence speed claim decreased the most, with brands instead looking to add value by emphasizing eco- and skin-friendly attributes. Tampon claims centering on eco- and skin friendliness have seen the highest growth, while portability claims have decreased the most. The percentage of incontinence products featuring the odor-neutralizing claim was double that seen in pads and feminine/intimate hygiene.

Key issues More disruptive convenient innovations, such as two-in-one pads emphasizing versatility and convenience, need to emerge to stand out among a plethora of products marketing superior absorbency (for pads) or ease of use (for tampons).

Market overview The United States, like other Western countries, is forecast to see slow growth in this category, with discounting contributing to the slowdown. Globally, the most active subcategory by far is pads, accounting for almost half of total launches, a small decrease from previous years. Tampons are most active in North America (19 percent), as are incontinence products (27 percent). The top five claims in North America are fragrance-free, 22 percent; time/ speed, 16 percent; odor-neutralizing, 14 percent; environmentally friendly packaging, 12 percent; and ease of use, 11 percent. In pads, the social media claim has seen the fastest growth, with brands increasingly using Facebook, Instagram and the like to reach and engage with consumers, while the time/


Intimate hygiene products can better target men, children, pregnant women and menopausal women, and blur with other markets. For instance, wipes and waterless innovations, which are niche and mostly seen in the women’s segment, can emphasize convenient/portable and eco-friendly credentials, and expand to target both men and women, while incontinence brands can offer style and discretion, and attract pregnant women/ new moms by clearly demonstrating the benefits of incontinence-specific products for bladder leakage, such as better odor protection, and by providing advice relating to health and body changes. Some 29 percent of feminine/intimate hygiene and incontinence product launches in North America were private label. What’s more, retailers are adding value, not just offering cheaper copycat versions of brands, and can expand, given positive attitudes: 57 percent of U.S. women agree that store-brand sanitary protection products are just as good as branded items.


What Does It Mean? Linking intimate cleansers to other markets (e.g., shaving products, deodorants, incontinence products), and emphasizing multiple benefits (e.g., suitability for general body cleansing) can help boost consumer interest, as well as addressing any stigma or embarrassment associated with buying and using intimate hygiene products. There’s scope for more unusual and disruptive natural ingredients to be used in feminine/intimate hygiene products to lend differentiation. Recent innovations in this space include plant waters, plantain, apple vinegar and plant oils. More brands can develop style-focused innovations to help allay any embarrassment experienced when purchasing and wearing such products. These items can even appeal to women and men who accept their incontinence and simply want a greater choice in terms of design and comfort. Collaborations with fashion designers can especially help drive innovation.

All’s Wellness By Diane Quagliani

Better Nutrition With Prepared Foods CONvENIENCE AND hE AlTh CAN INTERSECT. t’s no secret that prepared foods are popular with convenience-seeking shoppers, but can they satisfy those who are hungry for healthful options? Indeed they can, as evidenced by retailers across the country serving up prepared foods — and, in some cases, entire meal lines — developed with health and nutrition in mind. Many health-conscious shoppers look for foods with specific nutrition attributes such as more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fiber and protein, and less sugar, sodium and saturated fat, according to recent consumer survey data from the Washington, D.C.-based International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation. Some shoppers also want help with portion control. Prepared foods can fill the bill. One example is Wegmans’ line of heat-and-eat Power Meals, introduced in early 2017. The Rochester, N.Y.-based company’s retail dietitians helped develop the program by setting specific nutrition guardrails for each meal: 600 calories or fewer; at least 25 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 1 cup of vegetables; and less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium and 10 grams of added sugar. The line includes a variety of delicious-sounding choices, including Grilled Sesame Chicken with Garlic Sauce, Bronzed Salmon with Zucchini Basil Purée, and Black Pepper Beef Tenderloin. Other prepared foods are geared toward shoppers who follow special diets for health concerns such as food allergies, heart disease or diabetes, or those who want “clean-eating” attributes like organic, local or non-GMO. Asheville, N.C.-based Earth Fare targets the clean-eating crowd with its Clean Food Security line of meal options. The grocer’s online meal planner features seven days of meal ideas, many of which include prepared entrées such as whole


roasted chicken, penne and grilled vegetables, and chicken pot pie. Easy sides like prewashed organic salad greens and frozen or canned vegetables are suggested to round out the meals. The meal components are in line with Earth Fare’s Food Philosophy, which “ensures that all products sold are free of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial fats and trans fats, artificial colors, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, bleached or bromated flour, and are never administered antibiotics or growth hormones.” The meals also incorporate several non-GMO ingredients.

If your store wants to ramp up healthful prepared food offerings, look to your retail dietitian for expert guidance.”

Retailers without prepared meal lines have plenty to offer, too. For example, they can highlight deli salads and sides made with whole grains, vegetables and fruits, lean protein and veggie-loaded stir-fries from the grill station, sushi, and even the ubiquitous rotisserie chicken. If your store wants to ramp up healthful prepared food offerings, look to your retail dietitian for expert guidance. Dietitians can advise on food, nutrition and health trends important to your shoppers, recommend on-trend foods and ingredients to incorporate into prepared dishes, develop balanced and appealing meal plans, and help provide relevant nutrition and ingredient information. Dietitians are a highly trusted source of information about food, according to IFIC, so make sure to leverage them in promoting healthful prepared foods. They can get the word out via social media channels, media appearances, and special stops during store tours. Attention-getting “dietitian-approved” selections may also help drive purchase among your target audience.

Diane Quagliani, MBA, RDN, LDN, specializes in nutrition communications for consumer and health professional audiences. She has assisted national retailers and CPGs with nutrition strategy, web content development, trade show exhibiting, and the creation and implementation of shelf tag programs.

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January 2018

Store of the Month

Picking Up the Baton Back in business after a devastating flood, this store demonstrates Rouses’ commitment to the community. By Jim Dudlicek Photography by Frank Aymami III

lackluster market at the time led Louisiana-based grocery chain Rouses Markets to retreat from Baton Rouge in 2000, but nothing — not even a natural disaster — could keep the retailer from coming back to stay. The January 2015 grand opening of Rouses’ supermarket in the Juban Crossing development in Denham Springs, on the outskirts of the Pelican State’s capital, was met with great fanfare, marking the grocer’s return to the area after 15 years. The 54,000-squarefoot store, one of 33 retailers and restaurants in the shopping center, was embraced by consumers for its signature fresh offerings and commitment to local products. Then 25 inches of rain fell over two days in August 2016, bringing massive flooding and widespread damage to the area, including 4 feet of water that ruined the nearly new supermarket and its inventory, an event from which Juban Crossing and its surrounding area have still not quite fully recovered. 24

Rouses Market

Denham springs, La.

“It’s an important part of our growth strategy,” CEO Donny Rouse says of the Denham Springs store, part of the retailer’s expansion in the Baton Rouge area. “This is a very exciting time for our company.”

Progressive grocer Januar y 2018


store of the month

Rouses Market

The Rouses Market in Denham Springs is an anchor of the Juban Crossing development, still bouncing back after a 2016 flood.

serving the Community

We knew what this store meant to this community, and what this community meant to us. Most rewarding is being able to serve a community we want to be a part of.” —Donny Rouse, CEO

Yet Rouses is back and better than ever, reopening its doors in December 2016 to eager crowds and a commitment from the Rouse family to support the stricken area through donations of food and money, as well as its continued investment in the Baton Rouge market. “There was never a question of whether or not we would rebuild. We started work as soon as the floodwaters receded,” CEO Donny Rouse said at the time of the grand reopening of the store, which is almost identical to its original layout. “We’d only been open a year and a half, so the store was practically brandnew. But we took this opportunity to make a few upgrades to make the shopping experience even better.” 26

Flooding ruined the structure of the store, destroyed inventory, and forced the evacuation of Rouses team members, including a few who had to be rescued after working diligently to save their store. Work to rebuild the location began almost immediately. “We were there checking the store from a helicopter multiple times before we were allowed to get in,” Rouse recalls. “As soon as the water came down and we could get in to assess the damage, we were on the horn with our general contractor, and insurance and restoration company. Ninety percent of area homes and all of the tenants in the Juban Crossing development were affected. Every grocery store in the area was damaged, so it was important to get the store up and running as quickly as possible.” And once it was, folks came running back. “Customers showed up in droves the day we reopened, and we’re doing more sales now than we did before,” Rouse says. “We worked day and night to get this store back up and running as quickly as possible. Customers are obviously rewarding us for the job we did to get reopened.” Of course, Rouses is no stranger to natural

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store of the month

Rouses Market

Local Destination

disasters, having pitched in to get its stores and the community back on their feet following Hurricane Katrina a decade ago. “We knew what this store meant to this community, and what this community meant to us,” Rouse says. “Most rewarding is being able to serve a community we want to be a part of.” 28

A staunch supporter of local products, Rouses prominently features Louisiana seafood in its stores.

For its triumphant return to the Baton Rouge market, Rouses “wanted something different than what we’d done before,” Rouse explains. Long a fixture in the New Orleans area, the retailer deliberately evoked the Crescent City with this design. “There’s antique brick mixed with wrought iron,” Rouse notes. “There’s even a balcony outside of the store. “There’s never been anything like it in Livingston Parish,” he continues. “It really is one of the finest grocery stores in the South. Of course, we’re from Louisiana, so we know what locals like to eat. And we’re in our stores every day.” And few retailers are stronger proponents of local than Rouses. From products to décor to community partnerships, Rouses stores are reflections of the neighborhoods they serve, and Juban Crossing is no exception. Since it serves Louisiana State University’s (LSU) hometown, the school’s purple and gold are blatant in many displays, especially during Progressive Grocer’s fall visit. “We are a total-destination store on the weekends,” asserts Donna Dickerson, store director. “We sell 300 pounds of chicken wings on LSU



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store of the month

Rouses Market


Fresh food and attentive service are hallmarks of Rouses Markets. From basic ingredients to fully prepared meals, the store and its team members strive to offer solutions for every need and occasion. Smoked barbecue, signature baked goods, freshly caught seafood, zesty deli sides and seasoned burgers are just a few of the items created to satisfy local palates and daypart demands.

Progressive grocer Januar y 2018


store of the month

Rouses Market

People will come in, have lunch, try samples — they’ll spend two or three hours here.” —Donna Dickerson, store director

Continued from page 28 game days. This is Party Central.” Typical of Rouses Markets, the Juban Crossing store is very focused on fresh, and that includes prepared food. “There’s a BBQ Chop Shop. We smoke our own beef, pork and poultry,” Rouse says. “It has an open kitchen so you can watch our pit masters at work. There’s a Mongolian grill, with noodle and rice bowls. Our hot line serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. You’ll always find something hot and delicious. There’s also a fresh soup and salad bar, a fresh sushi station, and a chef’s case with Rouses signature offerings.” The store’s unique design places the produce department “right in middle of the store,” Rouse notes, “to show the freshness of the produce and to showcase the local produce we offer.” To be sure, every department features local products, from Abita beer to Kleinpeter Farms Dairy milk to Zapp’s potato chips.

the Whole meal It’s evident to anyone entering this store that whether their mission is to procure components for an athome meal or to enjoy one on the premises, they’re not going to be hungry for long. One of the first things shoppers see is the chef’s case, packed with heat-and-eat delicacies. “People come here and buy their whole meal out of the case,” Dickerson says. “You can have a meal for under $20 from this case.” The top seller is Rouses’ twice-baked potatoes, along with stuffed mushrooms, about which Dickerson notes, “We cannot keep these on the shelf.” Other options abound within arm’s reach. There’s a traditional hot bar with favorites like fried chicken, red beans and rice, and gumbo, along with a salad and soup bar. A nearby island offers grab-and-go rotisserie chickens, some seasoned, others “naked,” the clamshells marked with “Eat Right with Rouses” stickers to promote wholesome meal solutions. There’s a hot table featuring boiled seafood such as crabs and shrimp, along with veggies and sausage for jambalaya, plus boiled turkey necks, unique to the region. An iced-shrimp bar offers more local Gulf favorites. “We’ll go through 20 cases on a Saturday 32

— 400 pounds of shrimp,” Dickerson remarks. There’s also made-to-order sushi, along with the aforementioned Mongolian grill concept that turns out fresh rice and noodle bowls, presenting food theater on multiple sensory levels. But the biggest draw among prepared foods is barbecue. “Our No. 1 seller is the Chop Shop,” Dickerson says of the carving counter that serves smoked brisket, ribs, sausage, chicken and boudin (a sausage made with pork and rice, popular in Louisiana), along with macaroni and cheese, greens, and other sides. “It’s a Deep South meal, for sure.” Dickerson continues: “All our stores are based on local demographics. Here, barbecue sells better than, say, brick-oven pizza, which sells [better] in our Baronne store [in downtown New Orleans].” Deli cases are replete with charcuterie and specialty cheeses; the store “sells a ton” of fresh-cut cheese, Dickerson notes. “Brie is huge for the holidays,” she adds, pointing out merchandising of complementary items like figs and fruit spreads to inspire special-occasion purchases and drive incremental sales.

store of the month

Rouses Market

made with beef or chicken; sausage-stuffed mushrooms; head cheese; smoked sausage; house-made jerky; kabobs with veggies; stuffed chicken breast with asparagus; and, according to Dickerson, just about anything wrapped in bacon. Sampling is essential to driving traffic, Dickerson says. “You have to get it in people’s mouths,” she observes. “People will come in, have lunch, try samples — they’ll spend two or three hours here.”

Dedicated team

Meanwhile, the scratch bakery specializes in local favorites like gentilly and strawberry ambrosia cakes, along with gourmet cookies like the Royale, packed with macadamia nuts, chocolate chips, coconut and butter rum, and which routinely sells out. Shellfish and other species from local waters abound in the seafood case, while the meat department features dry-aged beef and a wide variety of value-added items. The top seller: Rouses’ Bayou Boy Burger stuffed with jalapeños, cheese and bacon. Also popular are green-onion burgers, 34

Luncheon meats just scratch the surface at Rouses’ deli department, which also offers a wide variety of charcuterie and specialty cheeses.

Dickerson makes it her mission to create a store team that goes above and beyond to serve shoppers. Every morning, she huddles with her associates to go over the day’s game plan and review any issues or concerns. “I’m training people to know everything that I know, because I want them to be promoted,” says Dickerson, a Louisiana native and Progressive Grocer Top Women in Grocery laureate who spent two decades rising through the ranks at Winn-Dixie before coming to Rouses in September 2016. It’s this locally recruited team that helps drive home the company’s commitment to the community. In the wake of the 2016 flood, Rouses raised more than $200,000 for area families in need, and donated a truckload of hams to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. In fact, the retailer’s collection

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store of the month

Rouses Market

Walk-In Beer Cooler Wine & Beer



Bulk Grains

Cold Cuts Specialty Cheese

Smoked & Fresh


Deli & Prepared Foods


Sushi Fresh Cuts (Mise en Place)

Mongolian Grill

Express Checkout

Dining Area

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Rouses Market #55 January 26, 2015 Grand opening


Dec. 13, 2016 Reopening



Selling Area

Total square footage

Square Feet

53,740 47,000 Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily 36

Customer Service








Covered Rain Canopy 10130 Crossing Way #300 Denham Springs, LA 70726

55,000 SKUs




Employees Progressive grocer Januar y 2018


store of the month

Rouses Market

About Rouses The late Anthony J. Rouse Sr. founded Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses Markets in 1960. CEO Donny Rouse is the third generation of the family to lead the family-owned chain, which is one of the largest independent grocers in the United States. Rouses Markets operates 55 stores in Louisiana, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Lower Alabama, and employs nearly 7,000 team members. In 2016, Rouses acquired the nine LeBlanc’s and Frais Marchés stores in the Baton Rouge area. At the time of this writing, new stores were under construction in Baton Rouge, Sulphur, Moss Bluff and Covington, La., and Mobile, Ala. Rouses’ suppliers include Kansas City, Kan.based Associated Wholesale Grocers, which services Rouses stores from its Gulf Coast division warehouse in Pearl River, La., and foodservice company Perronne & Sons, based in Metairie, La., a suburb of New Orleans.


The aroma of freshbaked bread tickles the nostrils, while gentilly cakes and other fancy pastries dazzle the eye at Rouses’ scratch bakery.

Continued from page 34 of donations continues year-round, with contributions of food and cash to area food banks exceeding $2 million. “My family considers feeding our community job one,” Rouse affirms. The Juban Crossing store is a jewel of the community and sets a high standard for the Rouses Markets locations to follow. “It’s an important part of our growth strategy, which includes remodeling existing stores and building new ones,” Rouse says. “This is a very exciting time for our company.”

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Becoming Transparent How grocers can embrace the concept and communicate it to shoppers. By Bridget Goldschmidt

here’s been a lot of talk in recent years about transparency in government and business, particularly in the food industry, but what does it mean to be transparent, and how can a retailer convincingly adopt that stance with those for whom it matters most, its customers? Unsurprisingly for companies in the grocery sector, definitions of transparency largely center on disclosing sufficient data on the items they offer, particularly the edible ones, although research prepared by The Hartman Group, in Bellevue, Wash., for Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute’s “U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2017” report has uncovered five categories of transparency: easy access to relevant information, clear quality standards, proactivity and accountability, fair treatment of employees, and openness about business practices. “Transparency is ensuring our customers have access to information about their food purchases, which is easy to understand and helps them make more informed decisions,” explains Keith Knopf, president and COO of West Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley’s, whose owner and CEO, Michael Teel, gave a presentation at TransparencyIQ, a CPG transparency-focused event held last October by Progressive Grocer parent company EnsembleIQ. This is particularly important, Knopf notes, given the grocer’s awareness that “many packaged food labels are not well defined or understood by shoppers.” “Transparency is ideally about getting precise on what specific kinds of information are driving consumer behavior at the category and product level, and figuring out how to deliver that,” says Patrick Moorhead, CMO of Chicago- and St. Louis-based Label Insight, whose cloud-based product data engine provides CPG brands and retailers with a deep level of item information. “The fact of the matter is, it varies by product,” notes Moorhead. For example, in canned tuna, a shopper is choosing on environmental sustainability — ‘Is it dolphin safe?’ The same shopper, two aisles over, is choosing salad dressing based on ‘My husband is allergic to honey.’… It’s the same shopper, but with very different transparency issues, depending on category. Successful transparency means understanding what 40



questions drive consideration and conversion, then knowing what your product can offer to address those questions. It’s not one-size-fits-all.” For Sharon Glass, SVP, Catalina U.S. established brands and global CPG strategy lead at St. Petersburg, Fla.-based media company Catalina, transparency “is a matter of grocers and suppliers needing to respond to consumers who are increasingly concerned about the quality, healthfulness and environmental impact of the products they consume. More shoppers, particularly younger Millennial shoppers, want to understand what goes into the foods, beverages and other products they consume, both in terms of ingredients and the processes used to create them. To appeal to changing consumers, retailers and brands need to earn and maintain their trust — and transparency is a prerequisite. Transparency is about making and selling products

Raley’s Shelf Guide offers information on ingredients, nutrients and marketing claims so that shoppers know what they’re buying.

The online experience for Raley’s Shelf Guide is a leader in the industry and, we believe, important for … future shopping experiences.” —Keith Knopf, Raley’s


that fulfill the evolving and defined needs of consumers — and being open and informative about how products are made.” Adds Glass: “For some grocers, this has meant becoming an advocate for the consumer. Retailers who demonstrate to shoppers that they consistently carry products that meet requirements like all-natural, sustainable, fresh and gluten-free enjoy better margins, and win the loyalty of quality-conscious, higher-value consumers. At the same time, new technology-savvy shoppers have come to expect the ability to easily access product information and product comparison information in real time. Brands and retailers will have to respond.”

Shelf-level Initiative At Raley’s, acting on a commitment to transparency began by asking shoppers for their thoughts on the subject. A November 2015 customer survey by the grocer revealed that 66 percent of its shoppers agree that additional information on product ingredients and nutrition can influence what they buy. “In addition, Nielsen data shows that over half of shoppers have a difficult time understanding product labels,” says Knopf. “Raley’s spent over a year looking at the latest health trends and research, and used sound data to develop a comprehensive solution to

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what our customers were looking for. We also used our loyalty data to better understand customer buying trends to develop the custom attributes.” The result was a new shelf-level initiative, created with data supplied by Label Insight. These data encompassed ingredients, nutrients and marketing claims, with more than 22,000 attributes such as ingredient origins, sustainability practices and specialty diet eligibility, resulting in a set of custom attributes. “Raley’s Shelf Guide is a label transparency program that provides trusted clarity, helping guide our customers to make decisions that meet their personal needs,” explains Knopf. “It includes convenient icons on the shelf and online, including both industry standards and attributes that are custom to Raley’s (minimally processed and nutrient dense).” The program reviews more than 20,000 center store items, with more than 13,000 items garnering at least one icon. “Our hope is that Raley’s Shelf Guide starts a conversation with our vendor partners about how their products can receive an icon, working through their production with Raley’s definitions and standards in mind,” observes Knopf. To get the word out, Raley’s has “completed a full multidimensional marketing campaign to share with our customers, who can also dive into the details of the program, including the science, by visiting www.,” he says. “In addition, there is store signage, and each item in center store has an updated tag to include the new icon or attribute.” Looking beyond the program’s in-store presence, Knopf asserts: “The online experience ( for Raley’s Shelf Guide is a leader in the industry and, we believe, important for … future shopping experiences. Customers can search by packaged food category, and then filter by one or all the attributes online. For example, when a customer is looking for tomato sauce with no added sugar, there are over 100 items that [meet those criteria]. They can also add additional filters like organic, nutrient dense and non-GMO to create an entirely customized and personal shopping experience.” According to Knopf, this customization tool is important as customers seek to find “better” options, with the idea that what may be good for one customer isn’t always good for another. “Each individual can select the attributes that are important to them and find the right choice,” he notes. The company’s other transparency initiatives include its partnership with American Homestead Natural Meats, a Hawarden, Iowa-based group of family farms, to offer several varieties of fresh pork that are both non-GMO and antibiotic-free. “We take our customers’ needs seriously, and what they’ve shared with us is the importance in 44

As grocery moves further into new multichannel models, retailers will increasingly shape the store around the shopper, providing recommendations and information that meet individual household motivations and needs.” —Sharon Glass, Catalina

having full transparency in where their food comes from and how it’s produced,” Knopf said at the time of the line’s October 2017 launch. “That’s why we dug deep to find the right partner that will offer our customers natural pork alternatives. … Our customers can trust that they’ll have quality pork options at a value, raised on sustainable and humane practices.”

Blueprints for Food retailers Label Insight’s Moorhead has some advice for grocers about implementing transparency strategies aimed at consumers:




Attribute-driven wayfinding in the store: “Grocers should use the kind of product features consumers are curious about — non-GMO, gluten-free, paleo, etc. — to implement wayfinding tools in the store such as signage, shelf tags and special merchandising sections,” he says.





Attribute-driven search and discovery for ecommerce: “Using the same approach as above, grocers should enable unique one-to-one shopper personalization in ecommerce to power enhanced search and discovery for product features they care about,” notes Moorhead. Define their own health-and-wellness standards: “Many retailers are taking a forward stance on health and wellness, including employing dietitians to develop their own standards on health and product quality,” he observes. “These programs allow the retailer to take ownership of the customer relationship and provide an authoritative voice to the consumer about every product they sell.” For her part, Catalina’s Glass offers these guidelines: Advocate for the shopper: If retailers want to be relevant, they have to speak the language of consumers, and that means understanding and responding to what’s important to them,” she emphasizes. “Grocers need to demonstrate that they are an advocate in helping shoppers find products that matter to them.” Recommend based on need: “If a family has a lactosesensitive child, the parents will certainly appreciate being informed about new products that meet that child’s needs,”


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Consumer expectations about detailed product information will continue to increase, and brands and retailers who proactively work to meet those evolving needs will capture growth and loyalty.” —Patrick Moorhead, Label Insight

explains Glass. “Likewise, someone suffering from celiac disease will welcome notifications about gluten-free products. It’s really about making it more simple and convenient for shoppers to find or try products that best meet the needs of their families. As grocery moves further into new multichannel models, retailers will increasingly shape the store around the shopper, providing recommendations and information that meet individual household motivations and needs.” Personalize shopper communications: “Some leading grocers are already using personalization to help shoppers find the right products,” she notes, affirming that the trend goes beyond Raley’s recent efforts in this area. “Catalina, for example, helps retailers personalize their weekly ad circular content to highlight the deals that align with an individual shopper’s preferences. Catalina now has the ability to understand shoppers not only based on the products and brands they buy, but on cross-category product choices like organic, gluten-free, lactose-free and other preferences. Retailers and brands can engage shoppers around motivations in health and wellness by leveraging more than 22,000 custom product-label attributes for over 1.3 million distinct products.”


Choosing one brand of pasta sauce over another is easier when shoppers have access to the attributes provided by Raley’s Shelf Guide.

Too Much Transparency? In an era of constant clamoring for more information, can there ever be too much it? A couple of experts weigh in on what amount is enough. “Transparency is going to be an evolutionary process, and we are in the early stages,” says Sharon Glass, SVP, Catalina U.S. established brands and global CPG strategy lead at St. Petersburg, Fla.-based media company Catalina. “Much of how this unfolds will depend on the depth of information consumers demand, and the degree to which it impacts purchase behavior. Obviously, only so much information can be communicated on product labels, but programs like the GMA SmartLabel initiative are creating new opportunities for transparency. At the same time, the desire of manufacturers to respond to fleeting consumer motivations could go too far. If meeting growing consumer preferences around attributes like fat-free or gluten-free undermines the very essence of your product, you should avoid the temptation.” “I don’t think it’s a matter of consumers saying, ‘Tell me everything about everything,’ forcing you to expose aspects of the product that are needlessly graphic, complex or irrelevant,” says Patrick Moorhead, CMO of Chicago- and St. Louis-based data provider Label Insight. “I don’t think a canned chili maker needs to make images of the meat-processing factory available to consumers. However, putting a stake in the ground about farming practices and handling practices of meat ingredients would be appreciated by consumers. ‘Full disclosure’ is probably taking it too far, and many consumers would tell you they actually don’t want it. They are trying to answer specific questions, and need to have confidence and trust that the information they are getting is accurate and trustworthy.”


From our farms to your store shelves, California walnuts are handled with great care and attention to bring our customers and consumers the best quality product. For more than a century, the California walnut industry has earned a reputation for producing the highest quality walnuts in the world while maintaining an exceptional food safety record. It all starts at the farm, with growers setting the stage for producing a wholesome product by following established best practices, known as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). With the 2017 harvest underway, walnuts are shaken from the trees and quickly processed, adhering to, if not exceeding, standards set by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The California walnut industry has been a leader in ensuring food safety through continuous investment in education, training and research. And while it helps that walnuts, in addition to being rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, are also naturally protected by two layers of a hull and a shell that significantly reduce the possibility of contamination, there is no substitute for due diligence and effective food safety, sanitation and safe product handling practices while growing and handling walnuts through the supply chain. In preparation for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), including the Produce Safety Rule for growers, the industry has been proactively training walnut growers on reducing the risk of food borne illnesses. Furthermore, several of the walnut handlers voluntarily undergo rigorous GMP and GFSI audits to demonstrate their commitment to food safety and quality. With over $2.1 million invested in food safety research projects for nearly a decade, our industry is committed to solid science to protect our customers and consumers. And this is evidenced by the excellent food safety track record of the California walnut industry.









Transparency and Food Safety

As for how grocers should join forces with suppliers/trading partners to advance transparency issues, Moorhead offers the following:

Grocers interested in growing their transparency initiatives need to be aware of the ways in which it involves food safety. “The issue of food safety intersects with some of the key motivations behind transparency, but it is also a complex regulatory matter,” notes Sharon Glass, SVP, Catalina U.S. established brands and global CPG strategy lead at St. Petersburg, Fla.-based media company Catalina. “Retailers certainly need to be keenly aware of the evolving guidelines and requirements around food safety, and monitor the status and record of their suppliers in meeting those regulations. It’s essential for retailers to win the trust of the shopper by having their best interest in mind.” “If transparency refers to disclosure, or being open to consumers’ understanding your company, its values and its processes, you would not strengthen your food safety just because someone is watching,” asserts Shelley Feist, executive director of the Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit Partnership for Food Safety Education. “You would have a strong food safety culture because it is what is best for your business and what is best for your customer.” In acting according to what “is — or should be — a core company value,” Feist suggests, “A company might communicate with end users — consumers — about food safety because they are truly concerned about the health and wellbeing of their customers, and the discussion or dialogue strengthens food safety throughout the chain of prevention.” A program developed by the partnership, The Story of Your Dinner, sponsored by Cargill, Costco and the Frozen Food Foundation, does exactly that, highlighting the precautions taken along the food chain to safeguard products and teaching consumers what they can do to prevent foodborne illnesses in their home kitchens. West Sacramento, Calif.-based grocer Raley’s undoubtedly views food safety measures as a way to boost shoppers’ confidence in its offerings. “As a retailer, we understand the importance of food safety and trust with our customers,” says Raley’s President and COO Keith Knopf. “For our customers in our Something Extra loyalty program, Raley’s proactively contacts our customers who purchase items that are included in a Class I recall. We can track their purchases through lot numbers and date of purchase. We use this to contact the customer by both phone and email to notify them of the recall. We also offer an opportunity for a full refund. By proactively contacting the customer, we are providing relevant information for their health and safety.”

Standardize on SmartLabel: “The industry standard third-party digital-labeling initiative should be embraced by grocery and manufacturers alike to provide a consistent and trustworthy digital product information experience universally,” he asserts.

Streamline how product data transacts: “Grocers should invest in services and technology that make it easier for brands to submit and keep current the data retailers require to meet customer needs,” suggests Moorhead. “Increasingly, retailers that hope to appeal to ingredient-conscious consumers will need to do more due diligence around the quality, ingredients and practices behind the products on their shelves — and communicate that commitment to shoppers,” says Glass. “As shopper advocates, grocers need to work with suppliers and encourage them to provide relevant information about their products. They’ll also need to find effective ways to make that information available and useful to shoppers. That means providing product information on store shelves and through digital channels. It also means leveraging shopper data to understand shopper preferences on a more granular level in order to serve up information and recommendations pertinent to an individual shopper’s dietary needs and preferences.” Asked what he sees as the future of transparency at grocery, Moorhead’s answer is succinct: “In a word: more.” Elaborating on his response, he continues: “Consumer expectations about detailed product information will continue to increase, and brands and retailers who proactively work to meet those evolving needs will capture growth and loyalty. Nielsen forecasts that grocery ecommerce will evolve to represent nearly 25 percent of all CPG sales in the next five to seven years. We believe the key to capitalizing on this growth is harnessing the power of high-order attribute product data to drive personalization and transparency in ecommerce.” Replying to the same question, Glass observes: “The growing preference and expectation among shoppers for convenient access to product information and comparisons will continue to pressure retailers and brands to be more transparent. This will impact some categories more than others. However, generally speaking, growth is coming from brands and retailers that clearly articulate what goes into their products, as well as their values and purpose, in a way that elicits trust and openness with their intended shoppers.”

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Special-Occasion Merchandising

Consumer Connections Special-occasion shopping doesn’t stop with the major holidays. By Lynn Petrak

he holiday season may be over, but shoppers seek items for special occasions throughout the year, a fact evidenced by the quick switch-out from Christmas cards to Valentine’s Day cards right after Christmas or New Year’s Day. While there’s a lot of buzz around creating an experience out of grocery shopping on an everyday level, there are opportunities to leverage other seasonal holidays and events to engage consumers for bigger basket rings. Seasonal merchandising isn’t new, of course, with examples ranging from the requisite salty snacks and accompanying gridiron POP for the Super Bowl to the grilling-theme buildup to Memorial Day. But are stores getting all they can out of categories associated with various events and big shopping times of the year? That’s what one recent study aimed to find out. 50

Key Takeaways Look beyond holidays to everyday occasions Merchandise easy solutions of complementary products Organize your floor plan around key needs Leverage online and mobile to help shoppers connect the dots Think like a consumer

days and events is warranted in this competitive climate. Wendy Liebmann, CEO at New York-based WSL Strategic Retail, says that thinking like a consumer is pivotal. “Everyone is talking about physical retail needing to be an experience, but in reality, physical retail needs to deliver the basics and get that right before it does anything, then layer on,” she explains. “We know that shoppers’ lifestyle is so important towards this, and it goes beyond solving the problem of ‘What’s for dinner tonight?’ to understanding how they are living their life, including entertaining and special occasions. You need to help people find solutions to occasions that don’t make it complicated, and put it together.” Eddie Yoon, author of “Superconsumers: A Simple, Speedy and Sustainable Path to Superior Growth,” and founder of Eddie Would Grow, a Chicago-based think tank and advisory firm on growth strategy, underscores the yearround opportunities for occasion-based shopping and how grocers can be a resource for consumers. In particular, retailers should actively court superconsumers, or overindexing purchasers of certain categories and complementary products. “Your merchandising during the obvious seasonal spikes are table stakes, but to win, you need to tap into superconsumer creativity around what happens in between,” Yoon asserts. As mindsets change, so, too, should merchandising that’s a step beyond previous tactics, like setting out Halloween candy in a special-occasion aisle. “Grocers only have so many ways to win: assortment, price/ promotion, omnichannel and merchandising. Some retailers have strengths in certain areas, but for most, it’s increasingly hard to win on price and hard to compete versus Amazon/ Whole Foods on omnichannel,” Yoon says. “And assortment can be tricky, as it requires a distinct buyer strategy or a big bet on private label. Merchandising can create unique experiences that can drive trips and build baskets via impulse with the same assortment at regular prices.” He adds, “We are living in the experience economy, and merchandising is the key to win there.”

Something to Celebrate Putting it Together The Madison, Wis.-based International-Dairy-Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) recently commissioned Nielsen Perishables Group to conduct research on the connectivity of entertaining categories throughout the store. “We need to think about the store as the consumer does: an ecosystem of products across the entire store that solve a purpose or fill a need,” the researchers write, noting that total-store connectivity between the perimeter and center store aisles needs to come into greater focus to maximize sales for entertaining occasions. Others agree that taking a new, holistic look at opportunities for merchandising specific to holi-

A boon to retailers is the fact that this kind of merchandising can be continual, given that people have many reasons to gather and entertain. There are thing like proms — they are not the big holidays, but occasions that are really good opportunities for retailers,” Liebmann notes. “Retail at large has … forgotten that there are lots of other occasions to create or enable the shopper to celebrate.” As grocery operators map out their year of promotions, they can reach customers by touting occasions important to their own shoppers. “Think about local college events or kids’ high school playoffs,” Liebmann advises. Yoon agrees that the “buy local” movement can extend to “celebrate local” via merchandising. “Local holidays are a great opportunity,” he says. “Growing up in Hawaii, you had Boys’ Day, Girls’ Day, Lei Day and King Kamehameha Day. They are celebrated locally, but there’s no reason that other Progressive grocer Januar y 2018



Special-Occasion Merchandising

Entertaining Categories Vary in Connections Center Store



Many Strong Center Store Connections

Strong Center Store and Fresh Connections

Many Strong Fresh Connections

Refrigerated Baked Goods and Bread

Fresh Pork Roasts

Bakery Pies

Bakery Cakes

Deli Platters

Snack Chips

Bakery Cookies/Brownies/Bars

Deli Appetizers/Sides/Desserts


Bakery Rolls

Deli Snacks



Specialty Deli Meat


Deli Specialty Cheese

Baking Ingredients and Supplies

Deli Dips/Spreads/Toppings

Frozen Desserts/Fruits/Toppings


Key Findings Entertaining categories had varied levels of connectivity with categories across the store; crackers had the most strong category correlations (154) and bakery pies had the least (four) connections. Overall, entertaing categories in the fresh perimeter — especially deli and bakery categories — were less connected than center store entertaining categories. The entertaining categories fell into three groups based on their share of fresh to center store connectivity and types of categories to which they are strongly connected: center store casual entertaining, cross-store entertaining, and fresh, premium entertaining. Source: “Nielsen Total Store Connectivity Study,” 2015

grocers from beyond the local area couldn’t beg, borrow and steal these ideas to create new news to drive trips to the store.”

In-store Partners There are several ways to create effective merchandising for events ranging from birthdays to baby showers to the Fourth of July, among other notable occasions for gatherings and gift-giving. Chief among those pathways is a tactical approach to cross-merchandising. The IDDBA/Nielsen report recommends building “partnerships” with other products. One example is leveraging the connection between specialty cheese and traditionally successful categories like bakery breads and deli snacks, along with fast-growing categories such as cooking greens, avocados and product beverages. By developing effective cross-merchandising hinged on occasions, stores also can promote the everyday appeal and “snackability” of various combinations of specialty 52

cheeses, deli snacks and breads, among other items. Yoon points to the popularity of candy as another product with many possible partnerships for special-occasion crossmerchandising. “Candy is the great impulse purchase in a highly expandable category,” he observes. “Seasons have become incredibly important to candy manufacturers, who are increasingly open to co-investing here. Grocers should go beyond the obvious Halloween end cap and think of how many holiday dishes should be made better with a sprinkling of chocolate and candy throughout.” He continues: “The more fundamental point here is that superconsumers eat candy year-round. Champagne superconsumers buy [champagne] year-round, not just at the holidays. A little bit of creativity might get them to buy and weave their favorite categories into every season. Find a superconsumer and ask them what would it look like to have an excuse to weave in their favorite category into every season, and you’ll likely have more ideas than you can execute.” Some products are prime for cross-store partnerships to meet shoppers’ needs for entertaining friends and family. In its research specific to the connectivity of entertaining cat-

egories throughout the store, IDDBA identified the top 20 entertaining categories, which include crackers, baking ingredients and supplies, pickles/ relishes/olives, snack chips, frozen dessert/fruit/ toppings, refrigerated baked goods/bread, nuts, bakery cookies/brownies/bars, bakery cakes and bakery rolls. IDDBA’s research also reveals how some products are suited to different types of celebrations. For example, under the area that the organization’s researchers deem “fresh and fancy entertaining,” items like deli dips/spreads, specialty cheeses, specialty deli, meat, steak, shrimp and deli snacks do well; for “casual party entertaining,” meanwhile, products like pickles, relish, olives, crackers and snack chips are strong sellers. In addition to what’s cross-promoted, how it’s cross-promoted makes a difference in engaging consumers looking for entertaining solutions. According to Liebmann, grocers can set up entertaining destinations within a grocery store that spotlight multidepartment items. “There are occasions when people are looking for help,” she notes. “When you think

We are living in the experience economy, and merchandising is the key to win there.” —Eddie Yoon, Eddie Would Grow

about birthdays, for example, some stores have cakes and candles and other items for a birthday all in one place. They really create the birthday experience, and that helps people say, ‘I can do more, because they make it easier for me to do more.’” The opposite is also true, as the IDDBA report points out: “Think about it from a shopper’s perspective: there’s nothing worse than hunting up and down aisles for the marshmallows for the sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving. Why leave the products scattered across the store and risk missing a sale?” Destination areas involve rethinking parts of the store’s floor plan. The front end of the store is one area open to innovation as a key point of contact for shoppers before they check out. Instead of, or in addition to, traditional impulse buys, a grocer can use the front end to engage a customer


Special-Occasion Merchandising

Retail at large has … forgotten that there are lots of other occasions to create or enable the shopper to celebrate.” —Wendy Liebmann, WSL Strategic Retail

through a display tied into products geared toward a holiday or event, from premium items to healthy snacks to even some foodservice/prepared products.

No Muss, No Fuss On another level, thinking like consumers when it comes to shopping for holidays and events entails meeting them where their culinary skills lie. “For the increasing number of consumers who don’t want to cook, special occasions and holidays can be quite polarizing,” says Yoon. “Some may con-

sider the holidays the few times of the year when they do want to cook. These are likely consumers who can cook, but don’t want to unless they have a clear payoff for cooking.” The IDDBA/Nielsen study called out a type of occasion shopping list as “no-work entertaining.” In this area, shoppers look for items that are truly no-fuss, such as bakery cookies/brownies, dessert bars, deli platters, bakery cakes, deli appetizers and desserts. One way to address shopper interest in little or no prep time is to focus on the celebratory aspect of eating versus cooking. “Specifically, just think ‘eat, drink and be merry,’” advises Yoon. “These are categories that are likely ready to eat/drink, or very close, and are in impulse and expandable categories. Grocers should give thought as to which categories fit the bill, and prioritize these to win.” According to Yoon, grocers have the ability to offer partial outsourcing of holiday meals, with a mix of prepared foods and packaged foods and ingredients. “All holiday dishes span a wide spectrum of the ‘fun-to-chore’ ratio, where the numerator is the payoff, enjoyment of eating and opportunity for accolades [for] the meal, with the denominator the prep, cooking and cleanup hassle of a meal,” he explains, pointing to items like Jell-O, which has a high fun-to-chore ratio, as it’s

Front of Store Merchandisers

80 Size Bases Dunnage Racks 800-837-2881

Cross-Store Entertaining EntErtaining CatEgoriEs with a foCus on Both CEntEr storE and frEsh ConnECtions More Center Store Connections

More Fresh Connections

Fresh Pork Roasts

Bakery Cakes

Bakery Cookies/ Brownies/ Desert Bars

Bakery Rolls


Deli Specialty Cheese

Deli Dips/ Spreads/ Toppings










Meat, Deli, Bakery, ProDuce, SeafooD, center Store

Source: “Nielsen Total Store Connectivity Study,” 2015

relatively easy to prepare and is a family favorite, while mashed potatoes has a poor fun-to-chore ratio, since the dish requires a good deal of effort to make from scratch. Likewise, Liebmann says that prepared foods are just one way that stores are meeting consumers’ needs, something that can be leveraged for special-occasion displays and promotions. “Prepared foods, delivery and all of these new tools and digital tools help people think about event marketing and are broader merchandising initiatives in ways we haven’t used before,” she says.

Advance Planning In the area of digital platforms, grocers can deploy a host of online and mobile technologies to help customers connect the category dots in-store, before their store trips or online. “We know shoppers are doing that kind of planning, looking at themes for their event and wondering how to make it their own,” says Liebmann. “Now they can do it in advance — to think, conceptualize the order and take it home. Retailers can use all of these different types of communications and media to tell the story without complicating things in the store.” The IDDBA report recommends thinking like consumers to help them plan events and find the supplies required to make them special. Among other tips, the organization’s experts suggest both in-store and

out-of-store opportunities to capitalize on the occasion, noting, “There’s a lot of planning that goes into fresh and fancy meals, so use this as an opportunity to inspire and engage the shopper during that planning process.” Recipes with premium ingredients, wine-pairing lists and total-meal ideas are just some examples of these kinds of engagement tactics. Even in a digital age, some shoppers appreciate having recipes in their hands, via recipe cards, circular ads or other printed materials. IDDBA notes that several retailers publish retail-specific magazines featuring recipes, events and sample menus for specific occasions. Beyond their own sphere of influence, grocers can take a cue from other countries for some creative merchandising tools. Yoon shares one idea: “Grocers should make like restaurants in Japan that show plastic examples of the food on the outside so you don’t need to read Japanese to order, but array all holiday meals on the spectrum of fun to chore, with the total hours needed to prep. It will actually help consumers figure out how to plan and make better choices about what they really want versus what they don’t.” Ultimately, Yoon says, today’s consumers and the subset of superconsumers have high expectations, but those expectations are coupled with strong sales potential. “The good news is that all grocers still have an opportunity to win more than their fair share of wallet with superconsumers, if they only lean into their origin stories and what events and emotions triggered them to become ‘supers,’ he advises. “Those origin stories have huge untapped value for creating new retail strategies, and even new holidays.” Progressive grocer Januar y 2018


Fresh Food

Prepared Foods

SPINS shows that prepared salads are growing 8.6 percent cross-channel year over year.

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Key Takeaways Engage shoppers on their specific needs Demonstrate easy meal solutions through strategic cross-merchandising Create experiences to show opportunities that prepared foods offer Keep ingredients simple and labels informative Know your shoppers’ changing food interests

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Fresh Food

Prepared Foods

Clean and Green “It’s becoming more important for grocerant planners to know their demographics and to know shoppers’ changing need states and their food interests,” says Jamie Phillips, director of scientific affairs at Chicago based SPINS, which provides retail consumer insights, analytics and consulting for the natural, organic and specialty product industries. “People want more from prepared foods than just bar food or comfort food. We see from consumer packaged goods companies that people are buying more natural products — up 9 percent — and shoppers want to see natural and clean products extended through all parts of the store, including the prepared food sections.” For some retail chains, changing to antibiotic-free rotisserie chicken has been a significant step in offering cleaner options, while others, like Austin, Texasbased Whole Foods Market, strive to ensure prepared foods meet all of the clean-label options available in the CPG aisles. In fact, SPINS data show that natural labeling is up 46 percent across prepared food sections. Phillips observes that leading and independent retailers are overhauling their fresh prepared food sections to meet consumers’ current health-and-wellness needs, with changes ranging from ethically sourced and organic ingredients to protein-packed and plant-based meals that focus on fresh. Food labels and menu messages have made a big impact on restaurant sourcing and consumer food choices. Prepared foods need to follow the restaurant industry’s leads with labeling priorities that include no added hormones, raised without antibiotics, pesticidefree, non-GMO, organic and locally sourced. “So far, prepared foods in retail do not have to follow any food-labeling regulations,” notes Phillips, “but shoppers want to know what they are buying.” Keeping ingredients simple and store labels infor-

People want quality ingredients with more nutritional bang for the buck, like quality carbs, healthy plant and plant-based protein.” —Jill Failla, SPINS


Vegan and vegetable-centric prepared options are increasingly important to consumers.

mative and easy to understand are the best ways to serve health-minded shoppers. Messages like “five simple ingredients” or “nothing added” resonate. Specific diets are having an influence on eater preferences, with paleo-friendly positioning up 127 percent, vegan up 13.4 percent and plant-based eating up 7.5 percent, according to Jill Failla, copywriter at SPINS. “Plant-forward” eating appeals to more people, not just strict vegetarian and vegans, which means that prepared food sections need to provide nutritious, plant-centric dishes for main dishes, sides and even snacks (see sidebars on page 60). SPINS research also shows a need for prepared food sections to look ahead and tie into macro-trends like nutrient density. Plant-based protein sales are up 23 percent, animalbased are up nearly 46 percent and pea protein foods are up 167 percent. “People want quality ingredients with more nutritional bang for the buck, like quality carbs, healthy plant and plant-based protein,” Failla says. SPINS tracks health-minded purchases, which are becoming more specific. Digestive health, cardiovascular health, bone health, immune health, cleansing, detox, energy support and cognitive health are some of the messages emerging in the CPG world and likely to carry over into demands for prepared foods.

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Fresh Food

Prepared Foods

Natural Movement RefRigeR ated fResh, natuR al options aRe showing gRow th.

Proprietary data from Chicago-based SPINS shows that within the refrigerated entreé category, specialty and wellness foods are the fastest-growing subset, up 15.7 percent.

Among natural refrigerated items, the top three fastest-growing subcategories are:



Sandwiches and wraps




+445.6% It’s becoming more important for grocerant planners to know their demographics and to know shoppers’ changing need states and their food interests.” —Jamie Phillips, SPINS

Wrapped and Ready for Growth fResh pRepaRed sandwiches and wR aps aRe gRowing 9 peRcent cRoss-channel, ye aR-oveR-ye aR.

Grab-and-go breakfast demands are fueling sales of prepared breakfast sandwiches in all forms.

Among fresh prepared sandwiches and wraps, the top three fastestgrowing subcategories are:


Breakfast wraps


Snack sandwiches/wraps

Breakfast sandwiches

Source: All data from SPINSscan Natural and Specialty Gourmet (Proprietary), MULO (powered by IRI), 52 weeks ending Aug. 13, 2017


Salad Days for Fresh Prepared Salads SPINS ShowS the category growINg 8.6 PerceNt croSS-chaNNel ye ar-over-ye ar.

New salad ingredient opportunities are cropping up beyond lettuce and greens.

Among prepared salad items, the top three fastest-growing subcategories are:




Potato salad

Pasta salads


Source: All data from SPINSscan Natural and Specialty Gourmet (Proprietary), MULO (powered by IRI), 52 weeks ending Aug. 13, 2017

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Fresh Food

Prepared Foods

Top 5 Fastest-Growing Refrigerated Grab-and-Go Items Global inGredients, fl avors brinG interest to the cateGory.




Casseroles/baked dishes






Stuffed grape leaves

Source: All data from SPINSscan Natural and Specialty Gourmet (Proprietary), MULO (powered by IRI), 52 weeks ending Aug. 13, 2017

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Ready to Serve Grocery stores have an advantage over restaurants when it comes to serving shoppers in meaningful ways. “If you have in-store dietitians, offer their services to people, especially those who need to stick to restricted diets,” Phillips advises. “Labeling, signage and in-store communicating are especially important for people seeking things like vegan and gluten-free options.” Bear in mind that all shoppers, whether on specific diets or not, need help with meal planning, according to Eric LeBlanc, director of marketing at Springdale, Ark.based Tyson Foods. “Our research shows there’s some real stress around cooking, especially at the end of a busy day,” LeBlanc says. “We see how buying groceries can become a pile of good intentions, but turn into a bundle of stress when shoppers now realize they have to use their purchases in two days before it goes bad.” Conducting extensive research on shopping patterns in prepared food sections, Tyson found that 67 percent of all shoppers admit to some confusion about shopping in the prepared food section. Only 3 percent of shoppers ask a question, but of those who do, 97 percent take the advice provided. “Shoppers basically have signs around their necks reading ‘Tell me what to do,’” says LeBlanc, who encourages the industry not to fixate on “the thing in the box,” or the product alone. “We also have to focus on helping people, communicating with people and building flexibility into meal planning.” In July 2016, Tyson worked with Ahold USA markets to test the “tell me what to do” theory, and hypothesized that if the prepared food target audience knows how to use the department to create meals, they’ll shop the department more frequently. Amber Langston, channel marketing manager at Tyson, describes how Ahold USA selected Giant Landover as the test division. Tyson worked with Ahold USA’s shopper marketing, merchandising and digital teams to create a comprehensive three-month program for in-store and out-of-store communication. The campaign highlighted the ease of using prepared foods

Shoppers need to see and hear integrated messages in and out of stores, from pre-shop planning to the ‘tell me what to do’ phase of shopping, and communication around the point of purchase.” —Amber Langston, Tyson Foods

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Fresh Food

Prepared Foods

to assemble convenient, fresh, high-quality meals. Communication included store signage, social media, website integration, magazine advertorial email, and highly targeted mobile and online advertising. One particularly revealing part of the test was having seven stores use merchandised spot coolers to display components of a featured recipe like BBQ Chicken Sliders. Recipes featured a protein from the deli — in this case, rotisserie chicken — and additional items ranging from other prepared foods and produce to center store product. Everything was fully cooked, or as close to it as possible, for ease of preparation. “We saw this campaign hitting a bullseye,” says Langston, who explains how connecting external and internal messages with bundled meal ideas is a holistic way of thinking for the shopper, making inspiration easy. “Shoppers need to see and hear integrated messages in and out of stores, from pre-shop planning to the ‘tell me what to do’ phase of shopping, and communication around the point of purchase. Not only did sales of rotisserie chicken see a boost from this campaign, all prepared foods sales were lifted.” “Shoppers need convenience,” affirms SPINS’ Phillips, “so cross-merchandising and bundling have become increasingly important. Building one-stop shopping stations for fajitas fixings or soup stations with broth, protein, veggies and noodles are other easy meals. This is a way to compete with the ease of QSRs and meal kits. Recipes or DIY instructions and videos are more ways to deliver speed-scratch help.”

Shoppers need help navigating the prepared food section and and finding dinner, as in this Raley’s store, especially at the end of a busy day.

solution-based experiences An elevated level of service and how-to help are part of the experiential shopping and customization that another expert sees as vital to prepared foods’ growth.

It’s important to establish a name for yourself in prepared food and make a mark. It’s about the food and the experience.” —Steven Petusevsky, consultant


“Supermarkets need to get back in the experience business,” asserts Steven Petusevsky, a one-time corporate chef for Whole Foods Market who now acts as a consultant on prepared foods to more than 20 national supermarket chains. “It’s not enough to be a place just to grab food anymore, because people are doing that online and at any number of places. You need to be the place that grabs some of their attention and money. “It’s important to establish a name for yourself in prepared food and make a mark,” he continues. “It’s about the food and the experience. Maybe you’re doing great things with your wood-fired oven or store-made sausages. Show people meal ideas with a sausage sandwich kiosk, or bundle fresh sausages, pasta and vegetables for a standout dinner that’s engaging and affordable. Anything that works incrementally is a great idea, so build on it and make sure you are known for it.” LeBlanc sees one-on-one assistance as the most effective experience a shopper can have. Putting more staff in the department during the “desperate-for-dinner hours” is great, but LeBlanc points out that the category needs to have people on hand who love food and have been trained in giving meal advice based on a store’s offerings and recipe ideas. “It’s often not enough to say ‘Can I help you?’” he asserts. “That’s often met with a ‘no.’ But if you approach shoppers with the question ‘What are you making tonight?’ you create an opening, and people start talking. Even if shoppers aren’t sure what they are making, a staff member can create an opening with questions such as ‘Do you like Brussels sprouts? Have you tried them shaved and sautéed?’ “People love great, exceptional service; it’s like having an exceptional server at a restaurant,” adds LeBlanc. “They are willing to pay for it in more purchases and better purchases, and this kind of personal service elevates the whole store.”




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Fresh Food


Fresh Start The ne w ye ar spells major merchandising opporTuniTies for se asonal produce. By Jennifer Strailey


othing creates excitement and drives traffic in produce like seasonal displays. Whether local, organic or flown in fresh from across the globe, fruits and veggies of the moment are what consumers crave. As grocers head into 2018, many are looking to build on last year’s successes, revamp what didn’t work and push the perimeter to record-breaking profitabil-

ity. While the optimal product mix varies by region and store, maximizing sales of seasonal produce is on everyone’s radar in the new year. At Harps Food stores inc., an 87-store chain based in springdale, Ark., colorful displays of seasonal produce are far from dormant in the cold of winter. “With the soft chilean fruits — cherries, strawberries and blueberries — it almost looks like summer in the produce department in January and February,”

says Mike roberts, Harps’ director of produce operations. And while prices are higher at this time of year than in June and July, shopper purchasing remains strong. As the No. 1 commodity fruit, berries are big business yearround, but perhaps especially in the first quarter. According to “FreshFacts on retail,” from the United Fresh Produce Association, in Washington, D.c., berry sales soared in Q1 2017, with volume sales (behind lower average prices) up 9.2 percent over Q1 2016. organic berries are also helping to drive growth: According to schaumburg, ill.-based Nielsen, berries were No. 2, after packaged salads, among the organic products from the fresh department that garnered the highest dollar sales throughout 2017. Progressive grocer Januar y 2018


Fresh Food


healthy helpings

As a southern grocer, Harps also builds bountiful winter displays of regional berries. “We promote huge displays of ‘Fresh Florida Naturipe Berries’ at the front center of the store in January and February,” notes Roberts. The Florida strawberry season peaks in February and runs through April. Harps employs a combination of in-store signage and circulars to promote seasonal items. “When it comes to where we place seasonal items in the store and in the circular, we use what we call a ‘first-to-market strategy,’ ” he explains. “As new seasonal produce comes on board, we move it to the premier spot up front in the department and in the ad.”

With the soft Chilean fruits — cherries, strawberries and blueberries — it almost looks like summer in the produce department in January and February.” —Mike Roberts, Harps Food Stores Inc.


With the new year comes a renewed interest in health and wellness. As shoppers seek to improve their diets and increase their fruit and vegetable intake, value-added and convenience items from the fresh produce department are what’s in season. “Sales of packaged salads and cut fruit increase for us in the first two weeks of January,” affirms Roberts. Football-themed veggie trays are also strong sellers. “Our hope is that everyone will be watching football and eating vegetables instead of pork rinds,” he enthuses. Harps has found tremendous success with multiple tray sales priced at three for $20. During the holidays, the grocer crosspromoted the trio of trays alongside items from the floral department, fruit baskets and more, with phenomenal results. “The sale ran three days and drove a ton of sales,” Roberts recalls. “Items in the promotion were up over 120 percent in sales versus items in the ad last year. It promoted healthier eating and created lots of excitement for the store.” A number of suppliers and industry organizations are introducing new promotions aimed at creating excitement and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in the new year. Mann Packing, in Salinas, Calif., recently launched its New Year, New You promotional campaign featuring an instant redeemable coupon (IRC) on its Veggie Slaw Blends, and new partnerships with registered dietitians across social media to reach 5 million followers in the United States and Canada. The IRC offers $1.50 off when consumers purchase any two specially marked packages of Mann’s Veggie Slaw Blends in stores from mid-January through early February. Also as part of the campaign, Mann’s products will be featured in TV segments focused on healthy eating, wellness magazines and social media channels throughout January. In an effort to drive mango sales during this health-focused time of year, the National Mango Board (NMB) kicked off its Mango Selfie program this month. The Q1 program seeks to connect with shoppers at retail by inviting them to capture their #mangoselfie on Instagram for the opportunity to win prizes.

Fresh Food


The 2017 Mango Mania Display Contest winner: Elrod’s Cost Plus in Dallas.

Retailers are encouraged to increase their display space for mangos, build eye-catching presentations and use POS materials to educate shoppers about mangos. The program includes a retail component with an incentive for storelevel associates to win a $10 gift card for creative mango displays. “While mangos are a tropical item, more and more retailers are placing them in larger displays,” says Angela Serna, communications manager at Orlando, Fla.-based NMB. “We’ve seen some beautiful displays that combine whole mangos alongside mobile ice tubs with fresh-cut mango.” Retailers that wish to participate in the Mango Selfie program and order POS kits can visit

seasonal snacking Chelan Fresh, in Chelan, Wash., is hoping to boost healthful snacking in the new year and beyond by promoting its New Zealandand Washington state-grown Koru apples. From December through April, Chelan is bringing in 50,000 to 60,000 boxes of Koru apples from Washington. In May, the company will switch to offering New Zealandgrown Koru apples through the season. Further, with the idea that healthful snacking is never out of season, Chelan has introduced the Rockit Shuttle Pack of apples. “We call the apple Rockit Shuttle Pack the Millennial Mom’s cookie jar,” says Mac Riggan, director of marketing. “It’s got a great shelf life, and moms can put the apples on the counter instead of in the fridge. It’s a really cool way to engage kids with fruit by putting what you want your kids to eat right out in front of them.”


Joining Chelan’s Rockit, a clear, tubular container of three, four or five apples, each clear tub of Rockit Shuttle Pack apples contains 3 pounds of fruit. “What’s exciting about this packaging — in a year when the crop has so many smaller apples — is that people will buy more apples in a package,” notes Riggan. “People buy by the count, not the weight, so I see these packs as an opportunity.”

We are truly trying to introduce these produce items in a fun and recognizable way.” —Trish James, Produce for Kids

Calling All Kids When it comes to enticing kids and their families to eat more fruits and veggies in 2018, Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) Springfield, in Missouri, has partnered with Produce for Kids (PFK) to use its messaging year-round. Harps, which is supplied by AWG, took part in the campaign. PFK is an Orlando-based philanthropic organization that brings the produce industry together to educate consumers on healthy eating with fresh produce, while

raising funds for local children’s nonprofits. This year, 15 produce companies have teamed with PFK to support its annual campaign. Harps stores will feature photo-op spots with avocado and apple cutouts that kids can put their heads through and pose for photos. “We are truly trying to introduce these produce items in a fun and recognizable way,” observes PFK VP Trish James. “The vendors really get behind it and help to drive sales,” adds Roberts, who notes that every vendor that participated in the AWG Springfield-PFK campaign last year experienced a sales increase. Seasonal recipes are integral to the campaign’s success. “We offer seasonal recipes using the produce from participating vendors,” explains Roberts. “We hand out recipes during Produce for Kids demos and make the recipes in-store. By the end of the day, we don’t have any recipes left.”

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“Expo West is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to engage with industry leaders, discover the latest trends and showcase our products. The excitement this show generates is unparalleled and makes us proud to be part of a growing, innovative industry. Wild Friends has grown and changed over the years, and each year Expo West has been an invaluable experience.” Keeley Tillotson & Erika Welsh Wild Friends Foods

Fresh Food


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Spring is artichoke season, so Ocean Mist Farms, of Castroville, Calif., is expanding its reach with a seasonal recipefocused promotion this year. “Last year’s overwhelming success surrounding Ocean Mist Farms’ consumer grilling promotion has allowed us to bring the same theme back in the spring of 2018 on a bigger scale,” reveals Diana McClean, senior director of marketing. “The goal of this promotion will be to support the sale of artichokes by encouraging people to purchase and experiment with the vegetable by providing various grilling recipes and prize packs.” Recipes are also front and center for Salinas, Calif.-based Green Giant Fresh, whose new consumer-facing website features easy navigation and a user-friendly interface on both web and mobile applications for finding recipes and nearby retailers carrying Green Giant Fresh products. “We know the No. 1 reason consumers visit our website is in search of recipes,” says Jennifer Dixon, VP of marketing, “so we wanted to make it easy for visitors to find new recipes that include all of our different fresh vegetable products and value-added innovations, as well as inspire people to come up with their own culinary masterpieces.”

Always-in-season Avocados While the California avocado growing season, which runs from February through September, offers the opportunity to promote a seasonal product, avocado-eating occasions, from winter football games to Cinco de Mayo to summer barbecues, are

ideal way to spotlight seasonally themed recipes and displays year-round. To identify continued opportunity for growth in the hotter-thanever avocado category, the Hass Avocado Board (HAB), in Mission Viejo, Calif., recently conducted an “Avocado Category Shopper Segmentation by Channel Study” that revealed how shopper purchase habits are affecting avocado category growth in each retail channel. The study grouped avocado-purchasing households into four segments based on their annual avocado spend: Super Heavy, Heavy, Medium and Light. Grocery had the smallest proportion of Super Heavy and Heavy shoppers (53 percent), while the club channel’s shopper mix was strongly weighted toward Super Heavy and Heavy shoppers (82 percent). While grocery, the largest channel for the avocado category, gained new Super Heavy shoppers and held on to its Heavy shoppers, both shopper segments spent less on avocados in 2016 than in the prior year. “Super Heavy shoppers in grocery made more avocado purchase trips, but spent less per trip,” notes Alejandro Gavito, HAB category data and research manager. “Results for 2017 are unknown at this point,” continues Gavito, “but going forward, strategies and tactics that help shoppers keep avocados top of mind appear to be an important strategy for growth.”

In-Season Berry Lovers To build a fan base of Florida-grown berries and drive traffic to supermarkets along the Eastern Seaboard, the Midwest and beyond, Wish Farms, in Plant City, Fla., has launched a Berry Lovers sweepstakes, which offers consumers who join its online community the opportunity to win $100 in weekly giveaways. The campaign, which runs through the end of April, is being promoted across all social platforms. Wish Farms is sending an eblast this month inviting fans to reach out to friends and


family for an additional chance to win. The grower is also using a new leadgeneration ad feature on Facebook, where shoppers can enter their ZIP code and favorite grocery store. “We’re trying to build brand awareness and loyalty, as well as drive traffic to specific stores,” explains

Amber Maloney, director of marketing. “We hope to build value for our retail partners by sending targeted emails to shoppers at Aldi or Fresh Market, for example, and say, ‘Look for FreshFrom-Florida Strawberries.’” This Florida berry season, Wish Farms will focus on conducting a series of in-store sampling events of its Sweet Sensation variety of strawberries through February. “We’re hoping to get a lot of face time with shoppers,” says Maloney, adding that demos will also provide an opportunity to distribute fliers on the sweepstakes, as well as information regarding the care, selection and storage of strawberries.




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The Fundamentals of Click-and-Collect Speed, SubStitutionS, SuggeStive Selling are juSt 3 eSSentialS. By Randy Hofbauer

t’s one of the most-asked questions in grocery ecommerce today: Pickup or delivery — which do consumers desire most? If last year’s Thanksgiving season is any indicator, it’s the former: Around the holiday, click-and-collect orders saw a 22 percent lift, compared with just a 2 percent lift in delivery orders, according to data from Toronto-based ecommerce platform provider Unata. Aside from the fact that a growing number of consumers are embracing online grocery shopping during the holidays, this stat suggests the importance of offering a click-and-collect feature, especially during the holiday season. But planning and executing such a program isn’t an easy feat, and can be quite costly fiscally and reputation-wise if any grocer introduces a lackluster click-and-collect service. Considering this reality, all food retailers looking to develop a winning buy-online-pick-up-in-store strategy should:



Ask “What’s its Purpose?”: After a grocer has taken the time to talk with customers, the customer service team and cashiers to see what the buzz — including whether clients really want click-and-collect, and which stores should offer it — it must ask itself whether the program is intended to be a loss leader or profit center, advises Dave Makar, director of marketing at Ithaca, N.Y.based ecommerce solutions provider Rosie. Asking this will help determine how to price the offering and every part of the operation. However, smaller grocers should avoid making their program a loss leader, Makar warns. Smaller chains and independents typically don’t have the capital of a national chain, which often can afford to lose money on each order just to keep the customers.


Connect Ecommerce and Main Sites: Too often, grocers that launch click-andcollect programs set up a standalone website that serves




the specific function but isn’t integrated with the main site. As a result, digital coupons, loyalty programs, editorial content, online catering and more aren’t connected, notes Chris Bryson, Unata founder and CEO. “This creates a choppy, disconnected and frustrating experience for customers where a feature, such as clipping a digital coupon, does not impact the ecommerce experience. It’s important for grocers to think about their click-and-collect experience as a part of an overall digital strategy and ensure that it properly integrates from a customer experience point of view,” he says, adding that he hasn’t “really seen any grocers that have properly tackled this issue yet.”


Put “Fast” Before Frills: While grocers can offer all sorts of bells and whistles through an ecommerce platform, such special features mean nothing without better browser speed, suggests Dan Dashevsky, COO of My Cloud Grocer, a New York-based ecommerce platform. To illustrate: Google asked users whether they’d rather receive 10 or 30 results in a given search. While users agreed that 30 sounded better, traffic to pages actually

It’s important for grocers to think about their click-and-collect experience as a part of an overall digital strategy and ensure that it properly integrates from a customer experience point of view.” —Chris Bryson, Unata


dropped 20 percent after Google implemented this option, because loading time was half a second longer than in cases where users were given 10 results. Page-loading time has been shown to be a crucial factor in user retention, and it’s also becoming a more important factor in search engine rankings, according to Dashevsky. Thus, grocers must avoid sacrificing shopping speed in favor of bells and whistles. Speed also is critical to the picking process. According to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola North America’s “Retail Remix: Click-and-Collect” report from August 2017, French hypermarket chain E.Leclerc follows an 80/20 rule, placing items in the highest 20 percent rotation at the ends of aisles to decrease picking time, with the remaining 80 percent in between. Moreover, in many of its fulfillment centers, the grocer has rolled out automated picking to increase speed and improve reliability.


Substitute Appropriately: Even with proper planning between grocers and their supplier partners, out-of-stocks are inevitable. While their occurrence is never desirable, what really turns off shoppers is how grocers respond to them: The No. 1 reason that shoppers don’t make a second click-and-collect order is that they receive unexpected or unwanted substitutions, Unata’s Bryson points out. “That’s why you need a good way to deal with substitutions and out-of-stocks as they arrive, such as informing the customer of an out-of-stock and providing them with a few alternative product options,” he recommends. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer-wholesaler SpartanNash and Roche Bros., in Wellesley, Mass.,

both offer real-time substitution options that can be approved or denied by shoppers via text message, email or phone. By doing this, grocers lower the margin of error and disappointment, and shoppers appreciate the feasibility, Bryson notes.


Push for Incremental Sales: A major downside to click-and-collect sales is that impulse buys — and subsequently larger baskets — may be less likely to occur if shoppers aren’t browsing a physical store. grocers looking to develop a prime ecommerce program, including click-and-collect, must find ways to increase basket sizes, says Danny silverman, chief marketing officer of Boston-based clavis insight. Two ways this can be done are to highlight past purchased items or to discount larger baskets to encourage shoppers to browse and add. other options in this area include merchandising front end products within click-and-collect destinations, and integrating checkout of additional in-store purchases the way drug stores allow payment of additional in-store products along with pharmacy orders, offers Nicole Peranick, senior director of culinary thought leadership at stamford, conn.-based Daymon. Moreover, grocers can incorporate complementary services inside click-andcollect pickup locations to encourage impulse. For instance, e.Leclerc offers a drive-through pickup kiosk concept that combines grocery pickup with a food takeaway station, Peranick observes. This enables shoppers to get their groceries and meals all at once from the same place without leaving the car. Another example from abroad is French grocer Auchan, which, according to the coca-cola North America report, operates kiosks at certain pickup locations for add-on purchases. shoppers picking up their orders may also choose from more than 500 sKUs on-site, allowing for basket building even after the order is pretty much complete.


Click-and-Collect: Start Now or Suffer Later Any U.S. grocers doubting the future of click-and-collect need only look at their European counterparts to see how wrong they are. For instance, in France — which has similarities to the United States in terms of automotive mobility and population density — click-and-collect accounts for 94 percent of online grocery sales, according to “Retail Remix: Click-and-Collect,” an August 2017 report from Atlantabased Coca-Cola North America. Furthermore, the format is a strategic fit for many retailers, as it enables them to leverage existing infrastructure while avoiding the high cost of delivery’s last mile. “While penetration is low today, we predict that clickand-collect could represent up to 40 percent of all online grocery shopping in the U.S. by 2020,” the report notes. That might not sound too impressive when one considers the small role that online sales play in overall grocery purchases in the United States. However, while current online penetration of grocery is just above 4 percent, analysts predict that it has the potential to grow to as much as 20 percent over the next decade, the report says. And competition will continue to heat up in this area of ecommerce, according to the “2017 Grocery Tech Trends Study,” done in partnership between Progressive Grocer and its sister brand RIS News. Currently, 38 percent of grocers are up to date with or have started developing a click-and-collect program, while 47 percent are planning to start building one within 12 months. “Click-and-collect is the ultimate blending of bricks and clicks, and a pure expression of grocery’s rush toward digital transformation,” observes Joe Skorupa, editorial director of RIS News, in the study. “This high level of investment is one of the most significant takeaways in the study, because click-and-collect tech not only surpasses POS investment plans, but it also emerges as the top investment choice among all 58 technologies tracked in this study.”

Get Past That Fourth Purchase: The fourth purchase is the threshold between click-and-collect triers and loyalists, Bryson asserts, suggesting that shoppers need not feel any risk associated with their first few tries of any click-and-collect service. grocers already should be spending the dollars to market their clickand-collect service both inside and outside stores — and those efforts should include incentives that drive customers past that pivotal fourth order. san Antonio-based H-e-B is one grocer that does this, offering no fees for any users’ first four orders through its click-and-collect program. in a similar vein, cincinnati-based Kroger, through its clickList service, waives fees for users’ first three orders.

Progressive grocer Januar y 2018


EquipmEnt & DEsign



Ordering Up The righT equipmenT can me an more re Tail foodservice profiTs. By Bob Ingram

ith foodservice providing an ever-growing portion of today’s supermarket business, equipment is likewise growing to keep pace. At riesbeck Food Markets inc., in clairesville, ohio, Dave orr, director of facilities management/food safety, details his company’s typical lineup of foodservice equipment as follows: a groen 80-quart steam kettle, a randall 10-pan blast chiller, an HP eight-spit rotisserie, a gas stove/oven, a Pitco double-basket open fish fryer, three Henny Penny pressure chicken fryers, a single-door hot holding cabinet, a Henny Penny combi oven, an electrolux food processor, a Univex potato peeler, a Hobart food chopper, a three-door cold holding cabinet, four Hobart automatic slicers, and a Turbo chef sandwich/pizza oven. Further, riesbeck has recently added another Turbo chef oven and another potato peeler, according to orr. equipment historically seen only in restaurants is increasingly making its way into supermarkets looking to up their grocerant games by streamlining operations to deliver dining experiences as good as or better than in traditional eateries.

Brand News

Tebo Store Fixtures’ menu boards have added LG stretch screens.

Among the iTW brands, Baxter’s most popular supermarket foodservice products are the gas rotating rack and mini rotating rack ovens, because of their ease of operation, versatility, product quality and total cost of ownership, notes Laura Barrentine, marketing manager. orting, Wash.-based Baxter’s latest addition is the versaoven, which competes with a combi for speed and versatility, but provides the finished product of a rotisserie. it also bakes to meet the need of smaller operators with combined bakery/deli kitchens. Barrentine sees a future need for more versatile foodservice equipment and the emergence of more remote monitoring or diagnostic features for equipment. Leading demand at iTW’s Hobart Food equipment group, in Troy, ohio, are Hobart & Traulsen AM and PW dishwashers, Hobart Legacy mixers and slicers, and the Hobart HT scales and automatic wrapping system, as well as Traulsen’s reach-ins and blast chiller, says Todd Blair, Hobart marketing director. recent additions include Hobart HT and HTi scales with Progressive grocer Januar y 2018


EquipmEnt & DEsign


touchscreen display, updated Hobart AM and PW dishwashers, a Traulsen glycol prep table, and new display reach-ins. And at ITW’s Vulcan Food Equipment Group, in Baltimore, Marketing Director Brenda Rice notes that combi ovens, fryers, griddles and convection ovens lead in foodservice popularity, adding that “grocery stores are evolving into ‘socializing spaces,’ with retailers offering full-service restaurants.”

Rapid Response

The ability to react to trends, be flexible and responsive to customers’ needs, is really the difference maker in the supermarket prepared foods world.” —Jake Bronson, Henny Penny Corp.

Eaton, Ohio-based Henny Penny Corp. is seeing a big focus on pressure frying, breading and heated-merchandise case combinations in the supermarket segment. Henny Penny has recently added the Velocity Series fryer, a rack-style fryer capable of handling 24 pounds of product in a single cook cycle, and which is available in both open and pressurized versions. Regional Sales Manager Jake Bronson notes that the unit automatically filters after every cook cycle for a significant extension of oil life and a more consistently high-quality product. “The ability to react to trends, be flexible and responsive to customers’ needs, is really the difference maker in the supermarket prepared foods world,” he asserts. “It is more critical than ever that the kitchen is armed with the right equipment to respond to customer demands, offer quality products, and continue to enjoy this profitable, traffic-driving opportunity.”

Designed to sell

The PXE is a Henny Penny pressure fryer.


At Hussmann Corp., in Bridgeton, Mo., Marketing Communication Manager Cheryl Beach points to the Q-Series as the most popular supermarket merchandiser to “attract, guide and influence shoppers through the retail foodservice department.” According to Beach, the series features upscale styling and distinctive designs that provide shoppers with full, unobstructed sight lines to product displays across all service departments. “To expand visual merchandising opportunities, we offer a full complement of shelves, racks, steps, prep tops, counters, curved glass, vertical glass, [and] service and self-service display cases, with the ultimate goal of creating the most interesting and tactical service departments for shoppers,” she says. Hussmann’s most recent addition is the Q2, a self-contained mobile refrigerated merchandiser for cross-merchandising, seasonal promotions and impulse-buy displays. It’s a flexible plug-and-play design with casters, and the temperature can be easily adjusted for red meat, produce and deli. “The smaller size of the Q2 is perfect for daypart merchandising,” Beach adds. She predicts further growth in deli and prepared foods, as well as in-store destinations; more food theater; and greater convenience via meal kits and fully prepared ready-to-eat healthy meal solutions. “To address these continuing trends, retail foodservice display equipment will need to have more merchandising flexibility, be more modular and configurable for different product combinations, and feature more dramatic design elements,” Beach concludes.

Oil Change cooking-oil management systems like those offered by Mendota Heights, Minn.-based restaurant Technologies provide automated oil storage, handling, filtration monitoring and disposal management, all of which eliminate the need for an employee to handle cooking oil, “the most dangerous job in the back of the house, and which [allow] operators to track their oil usage for optimal management and maintenance,” says Jim english, director of national accounts for the company, which serves 3,000-plus supermarket delis. Weis Markets, Fry’s Food stores and Price chopper are among the retailers using restaurant Technologies’ Total oil Management system, english notes. “Automation is the future of supermarket foodservice equipment,” he asserts. “Due to a labor shortage and dangerous tasks within the back of the house, automation will help grocery operators accomplish work in less time and with less manpower, allowing foodservice employees to focus on more important roles, like assisting customers.” With prepared foods a $28 billion supermarket business, progressive grocery operators are modernizing the high-risk task of manually managing fryer oil so they can safely offer a variety of fried foods, english says. “stores are realizing the value of having a deli operation that functions as efficiently as any commercial kitchen to offer a grocerant experience that keeps customers coming back for more,” he adds.

Facing the Future Angelo grillas, director of marketing at electrolux Professional, in charlotte., N.c., says that the company’s most popular foodservice products are combi ovens to preserve product integrity, guarantee uniform results and automate cooking processes. “Another increasingly popular product is our line of blast chillers, because retail customers are more interested in food safety and developing HAccP plans and preserving health-code processes,” he observes. electrolux has recently added speedDelight, a plug-and-play unit that combines three technologies: contact plates, infrared radiation, and microwaves for menus ranging from sandwiches and bakery items to gourmet foods. “equipment purchased today needs to be ready for tomorrow’s challenges,” grillas notes. “capital will be stressed, and money is not available every year. equipment needs to be robust, reliable and flexible to evolve for tomorrow’s needs.”

Henny Penny’s Velocity Series fryer can handle 24 pounds of product.

Simplified Shopping Experience At Denver-based Tebo store Fixtures, which makes digital signage for meat and produce and digital menu boards for the deli and grocerant, New Product Development vP Joe Michaels says that the company’s menu boards are simple to use and cost-effective, and that the company has recently added Lg stretch screens to its lineup to fit in places that conventional screens don’t. “equipment is moving to simplify the shopping experience for the consumer, which ultimately leads to customer satisfaction,” Michaels observes. And customer satisfaction is the ultimate name of the game, equaling return store visits, especially to the growing foodservice departments.

Retail foodservice display equipment will need to have more merchandising flexibility, be more modular and configurable for different product combinations, and feature more dramatic design elements.” —Cheryl Beach, Hussmann Corp. Progressive grocer Januar y 2018



Health, Beauty & Wellness

Better Interactions Grocers can le ver aGe their pharmacies to connect with consumers. By Barbara Sax

he drug channel grabs a larger share in key OTC categories that often require a pharmacist’s recommendation. The food channel’s share of the cold/allergy/ sinus liquid and tablet segments hovers at around 20 percent, while the drug channel accounts for around 40 percent of both segments, according to data from Chicago-based IRI. In the anti-smoking segment, supermarkets account for only about 8 percent of category sales, while drug stores have a 46 percent share. Having a pharmacist available to recommend products might boost the channel’s share of recommendation-sensitive products. “Grocery traditionally does not get its fair share of OTC category sales in key categories such as respiratory products,” admits Bob Sanders, EVP of IRI’s health care practice. Having the pharmacist spend more time with consumers recommending OTCs is one way to increase share, but Sanders notes that a pharmacist shortage puts manpower in short supply. “It’s a challenge to have pharmacists spend more time with patients, since they need to fill prescriptions.”

A Matter of Trust For chains that are prioritizing pharmacists’ time spent in front of the counter, the effort wins consumer loyalty. “The word ‘trusted’ is powerful,” says Jeffrey Mondelli, VP of pharmacy for Keasbey, N.J.-based retail cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. “Pharmacists consistently rank near the top of surveys that list the most trusted health care professionals. Having a pharmacist available for uncertain patients and caretakers in the aisle provides immediate access to expertise that will improve outcomes. Improved outcomes is a win-win scenario and translates to customer loyalty.” Jenny Rapley, pharmacy communications manager at Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos., agrees. “Having a trusted community pharmacist in stores can definitely help boost sales and differentiate us from stores without pharmacies,” she says. “Many times, shoppers come in not knowing what they need, so having the pharmacist as a resource is a tremendous asset.” “There are a lot of OTCs that patients have questions about, and pharmacists have the knowledge about active ingredients and how they can interact with other medications patients are taking,” observes Marcus Hurst, pharmacy supervisor at Rigby, Idaho-based Broulim’s Fresh Foods. According to Hurst, a majority of consumer OTC questions come from parents concerned about which OTCs are appropriate for their children, and the proper dosing for their age and weight.


Cough and cold season also brings consumer questions on how to treat symptoms. “People are spreading germs at work, school and home; they are looking for safe and effective ways to minimize the duration of their illness and bring them comfort,” asserts Rapley. She adds that Albertsons’ pharmacists take the opportunity to encourage flu shots for “all individuals 6 months and older … so they can do their part to help stop the

spread of disease and prevent further illness for them, their families and communities.” During flu season, some Albertsons stores offer free flu shots in exchange for a food donation to a local charity. January often brings weight-loss and smoking cessation programs to the fore. “While there are peaks for different categories, smoking cessation is a category our pharmacists get questions on year-round, so our pharmacy teams work to stay

updated on the latest products and programs,” notes rapley. “Pharmacists make recommendations based on shopper-specific information, such as smoking habits, product preference and cost, and can also provide additional information about insurance coverage, tobacco quitlines and oTc products that support the patient’s goals. in some states, our pharmacists are able to prescribe these medications to have them covered by insurance plans.” Wakefern’s Mondelli says that patients frequently have questions about drug interactions. “Patients taking multiple prescription maintenance medications often ask about the potential for drug-drug interactions,” he points out. “our pharmacists use Progressive grocer Januar y 2018



Health, Beauty & Wellness

their knowledge, along with dosing charts and manufacturersponsored education pieces, to help customers arrive at informed and appropriate purchasing decisions.” Albertsons markets its pharmacy services through programs, fliers, signs and overhead announcements. Rapley says that the chain has increased its marketing efforts for pharmacy on the food side of the store via mailers, signage and promos. For its part, Broulim’s uses on-shelf signage in the OTC section urging consumers to talk to their pharmacists and flagging items as “pharmacist approved.” The chain also teams with manufacturers on promotional messages on in-store audio urging shoppers to talk to their pharmacists about products. “We make sure that our pharmacists’ No. 1 priority is helping customers in the store,” says Hurst. The chain is introducing strep screenings in stores this year, an addition Hurst believes will boost OTC sales. “If a test has a negative result, patients are looking for OTC solutions to treat their symptoms, and pharmacists are on hand to recommend appropriate products,” he says.

Having a pharmacist available for uncertain patients and caretakers in the aisle provides immediate access to expertise that will improve outcomes.” —Jeffrey Mondelli, Wakefern Food Corp.


An ounce of Prevention Preventive services and screening programs offer additional exposure to the OTC department. “Conversations during these events are often one-on-one and very personal,” notes Mondelli. “Informal medication reviews and self-care guidance are often part of the discussion. Wellness events at our locations have included immunization clinics, blood glucose and cholesterol screenings, and consultations with both pharmacists and registered dietitians.”

According to Kristin Williams, SVP and chief health officer at West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, health and wellness is one of the retailer’s three strategic pillars, and the chain tries to incorporate the health-and-wellness message to consumers through a variety of media, including in-store, mobile and digital/social. That message, combined with culinary expertise, can give supermarkets a distinct advantage in the OTC category. Sue Borra, chief wellness officer at Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and executive director of the FMI Foundation, notes that supermarkets have an opportunity to harness the expertise of their pharmacists and nutritionists to offer holistic wellness services. “When customers ask the pharmacist about vitamins and supplements, it’s a great opportunity for pharmacists to recommend that, in addition to supplements, the patient may want to talk to the nutritionist about good sources of vitamin C, for example,” says Borra, herself a registered dietitian. “Supermarkets with a pharmacy and food connection offer a unique environment for patients to explore many avenues for improving their health.” At Albertsons, the Eating Healthy with Diabetes free grocery store tour, led by local registered dietitians and in-store pharmacists, is one of the chain’s longest-standing pharmacy programs. “Beginning in January, this program will be offered year-round and available in Eng-

Supermarkets with a pharmacy and food connection offer a unique environment for patients to explore many avenues for improving their health.” —Sue Borra, Food Marketing Institute/FMI Foundation lish or Spanish,” notes Rapley. “The 90-minute program gives people with diabetes or prediabetes an informationpacked experience in their neighborhood grocery store that reviews key information to inspire them to make healthful food choices and learn about glucose meters, additional group classes we offer, vaccinations, injecting techniques, A1c testing and other services available.” Many ShopRite locations operated by Wakefern members feature both pharmacists and registered dietitians. “We have programs centered around this wellness team that are designed to improve diabetes outcomes, among others,” Mondelli says, “through improved medication adherence and tailored dietary plans.”

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Editors’ Picks

Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Bird’s the Word The benefits of consuming bone broth have been heralded frequently among health-conscious consumers in recent years. And while many have brought their own versions of the fabled cure-all to store shelves, Pacific Foods has still managed to come up with a poultry twist: duck. New from the manufacturer are organic Duck and Poultry (chicken, turkey and duck) varieties, each with 7 grams of protein per serving. Made with quality, simple ingredients, including ethically sourced duck from local farms in Oregon, the broths are said to be rich and complex — made from poultry bones slowly simmered with fresh vegetables, herbs, vinegar and water. Suitable for cooking or sipping, the broths have an SRP range of $4.99 to $5.59 per 8-fluid-ounce container.

Fermented Fruitiness Fermented products — from sauerkraut to kombucha — are all the rage now, as consumers seek more ways to maintain good gut health. Farmhouse Culture, known for its probiotic-rich veggies and kraut, has continued on into ready-to-drink territory, developing Gut Punch, a sparkling beverage line spun off from its Gut Shots probiotic-rich drinks. Available in five flavors — Mango Guava, Ginger Lemon, Cola, Strawberry Hibiscus and Cherry Cacao — the beverages are made with a fermented beet base and infused with real fruit essences, and contain no added sugar. Each 12-fluid-ounce bottle has an SRP of $3.79.

sausage that saves Wild boars have caused a major conservation crisis in the South, destroying levees, farmland and forests. Understanding the need to help, craft sausage maker Charlie’s has developed a line of Wild Boar Pork Sausages, which also meets consumer demand for more flavorful, protein-rich foods. Developed in partnership with farmers and trappers, the gourmet pork sausages are made from a Cajun recipe and smoked in a real hardwood-fire smokehouse, giving them what’s described as a delicious, rich flavor. Available in Original, Mild and Green Onion varieties, the item retails for a suggested $5.99 per 12-ounce pack, each containing three sausages.


Dairy-free Delights Plant-based alternatives to products made with ingredients from animals were huge in 2017, and they’re likely to continue growing in 2018. Adding to the offerings in this segment, My/Mo Mochi ice cream has launched a vegan line of treats: My/Mo Mochi cashew cream Frozen Desserts. The four additions — strawberry, chocolate, vanilla and salted caramel — are made with rich frozen cashew cream wrapped in soft rice dough. The dairy-free snacks come in at just 100 calories per ball. The srP is $6.99 per box, each of which contains six 1.5-ounce pieces.

Protein Power

Stick it to ’Em sriracha has long been the preferred condiment of heat lovers nationwide, and many won’t settle for anything other than the original “rooster bottle” variety from Huy Fong Foods — though the bottle is anything but portable, and individual packets risk bursting in pockets. enter sriracha seasoning stix, a condiment option from sugarmade inc. that uses the renowned sriracha hot chili sauce from Huy Fong for an innovative, no-mess way to season meat, fish, poultry and vegetables from the inside out. The seasoning stix come in four varieties: sriracha Jalapeño, sriracha Butter garlic, classic sriracha and Blend X. each 2-ounce jar, containing 70 sticks, has an srP of $14.99.

Whether for filling an empty stomach at the break of dawn or gaining sustenance as the day moves on, protein-rich breakfast and snack bars are a vital part of many on-thego Americans’ lives today. Pure Protein’s line of breakfast bars fits the bill for these consumers, offering just 2 to 5 grams of sugar and containing nutritious ingredients such as oats, chia seeds, quinoa and flaxseed. The gluten-free bars will be available in four flavors — Dark chocolate Almond oatmeal, sweet & salty Peanut Butter, Blueberry oatmeal, and strawberry Waffle — at an srP of $4.99 per 4-pack of 1.76-ounce bars.

Guilt-free Sweets Although many are paying close attention to their waistlines in the new year, there’s still room for the occasional guilt-free indulgent treat. enter Hammond’s snacking Marshmallows, an organic sugar-based concoction made without any gMo ingredients or corn. The low-fat, cholesterol-free, lowsodium treats contain 100 calories or fewer per serving, and come in three flavors: Toasted coconut, Double chocolate chip and vanilla Bean. The srP is $3.99 per 4-ounce resealable bag.

Pro-breakfast Probiotics A new year brings renewed commitments to healthy eating and living — and being good to one’s gut plays a big role in wellness. Addressing this, Kellogg co. has introduced Kellogg’s special K Nourish Berries & Peaches with Probiotics, said to be the only cereal from a leading brand to contain live, active probiotic cultures. Providing “good” bacteria without the need for refrigeration, the cereal contains peach-flavored flakes blended with visibly wholesome ingredients, including blueberries, raspberries, peaches and yogurty pieces. With 12 grams of whole grains per serving, it’s also a good source of fiber. The srP is $3.99 per 10.5-ounce box. Progressive grocer Januar y 2018


Advertiser index

American Express Co. Apio


Atkins Nutritionals Inc.


Bake ’N Joy Foods Inc. Blount Fine Foods

Cover Tip 10-11

Boston Beer/Samuel Adams Brewery Tour Line


California Walnut Commission


Campbell Soup Company Carl Buddig & Company Coca Cola NA Creekstone Farms Epson America House Foods America Hughes Network Systems

15, 29 17 Inside Front Cover 33 7 63 Back Cover

United states Markets • Convenience • Grocery/Drug/Mass Store Brands • Specialty Gourmet Technology • Hospitality • Apparel canadian Markets • Convenience • Pharmacy • Foodservice advertising sales & BUsines s staff ExECUTIVE CHAIRMAN alan glass 609-276-2842 CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER/CHIEF BRAND OFFICER richard rivera 973-264-4380 CHIEF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OFFICER korry stagnito 224-632-8171 CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER/PRESIDENT OF STRATEGIC PLATFORMS ned Bardic 224-632-8224 SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT/BRAND DIRECTOR katie Brennan 201-855-7609 • Cell: 917-859-3619 SOUTHEAST ACCOUNT ExECUTIVE larry cornick 224-632-8248

Iovate Health Sciences Int’l Inc.


MasonWays Indestructible Plastics


MIDWEST, MARkETING MANAGER angela flatland (AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, kS, kY, MI, MO, NE, ND, Ok, SD, TN, WI) 224-229-0547 Cell: 608-320-4421

New Hope Network


SENIOR SALES MANAGER Judy Hayes 925-785-9665

Organic Valley Family Of Farms


SENIOR SALES MANAGER theresa kossack 214-226-6468

OSI Industries


WESTERN REGIONAL SALES MANAGER rick neigher (CA, OR, WA) 818-597-9029

Premier Nutrition


Request Foods




Saputo Cheese USA Inc.


Stemilt Growers, Inc.


Sticky Fingers Bakeries


The Humane Society of the United States


The Nature’s Bounty Company


The Wonderful Company/Pistachios


Tosca Ltd.


Trion Industries Inc. Unilever North America United Fresh Produce Association Uniweb Inc. 88


9 35 57, 65, 73 49

NORTHEAST, MARkETING MANAGER Mike shaw 201-855-7631 • Cell 201-281-9100 ADVERTISING MANAGER Jackie Batson 224-632-8183

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 800-422-2681 Fax: 978-671-0460 Progressive grocer (ISSN 0033-0787, USPS 920-600) is published monthly by EnsembleIQ, 570 Lake Cook Rd. Deerfield IL 60015. Single copy price $10, except selected special issues. Subscription: $135 a year; Canada $164 (Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40031729. Foreign $270 (call for air mail rates). Periodicals postage paid at Deerfield, IL 60015 and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: Send all address changes to Progressive Grocer, P.O. Box 1842 Lowell, MA 01853. Copyright ©2018 EnsembleIQ All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce in whole or in part. All letters to the editors of this magazine will be treated as having been submitted for publication. The magazine reserves the right to edit and abridge them. The publication is available in microform from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.

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Tech Talk By Randy Hofbauer

Bridging the Gap Content and CommerCe are both CritiCal for Customers to make informed purChases. s it is in the world of media, content is king for grocers playing in the ecommerce space today. The intelligence, insights and interactivity that grocers provide shoppers through imagery, videos, recipes, chatbots and more are, in many ways, as valuable to them as the products that they end up purchasing. The problem is that all too often, grocers today run separate sites for their recipes and for their online ordering. This creates a disconnect between content and commerce — and ultimately shoppers and the products they want — and an opportunity to build a bridge here. As of late, shoppable recipes — where all ingredients in an online recipe can be ordered through an ecommerce service with the click of a button — have been growing in popularity, especially in an age when pure-play meal-kit providers are having a rough go, grappling with high costs that come from marketing, lots of packaging, pre-portioning ingredients and the like. Some 71 percent of users wish that meal kits were less expensive, and 72 percent of nonusers would give kits a try if they were so, according to recent research from Fayetteville, Ark.-based Field Agent. It’s not too difficult to see why shoppable recipes are creating a suitable option: A number of the expenses mentioned above are cut into the process, making the


deal (hopefully) more cost-feasible. But it also bridges the two things shoppers need to make informed grocery purchase decisions: content and commerce. In mid-November alone, Seattle-based Amazon inked deals with personalized nutrition platform and meal-planning service EatLove and media and marketing company Meredith Corp. — the latter of which owns — to add one-click ordering of ingredients to recipes on the brands’ recipe sites. Customers choose the recipe (content) they want to prepare and, with the click of a button, order all of the ingredients they need for delivery via the Amazon Fresh service (commerce). A similar service, eMeals, allows for one-click ordering and delivery through Amazon Fresh and Instacart. And as of today, shoppable recipe orders are no longer limited to ingredients: Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart has announced that Tasty, a social food network from internet media company Buzzfeed that’s said to be the world’s largest of its kind, now allows for one-click ordering via and of the kitchen tools, bakeware and appliances needed to prepare any of the 2,000-plus recipes showcased in the service’s mobile app. Beginning in 2018, groceries will be integrated, too. This is a natural fit: Tasty attracts more than 65 billion video views and is the biggest franchise on Facebook (90 million-plus followers); Walmart operates 4,700 stores and offers more than 70 million products online; and is a “go-to destination for a premium assortment of brands” and “appeals to Tasty’s urban Millennial audience,” as Walmart notes. As time goes on, one may well speculate whether, through Amazon Key’s in-home delivery service, Prime members might have the ability to hire one of the services offered — currently more than 1,200 — to actually cook a meal in-house while customers are commuting home from work, running an errand or picking up the kids. This scenario is possibly not such a long shot for those who might be strapped for time but want to enjoy a meal at home with family — and who’ve got the cash to pay for it. Whatever the future holds, we know this: The future belongs to those that provide great content and to those with solid ecommerce platforms. The question is, when both are ready, how will you integrate them to be the full-fledged solutions consultant and provider that your time-starved, inspiration-seeking followers ultimately need?




Transform the way you think about food at the newest event for the food retail, service and restaurant industries. Embrace the smart food evolution. Food that’s better for your health. Better for your customers. Better for your business. And engage in three days of education on industry-leading insights and access to revolutionary innovations that will help you make smart business decisions, cater to savvy shoppers and sustain momentum in the better-for-you food movement.

JUNE 25-27, 2018 | CHICAGO, IL


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