Progressive Grocer - January 2019

Page 1

2019 Labor Outlook: Experts weigh in on key retail issues, solutions

PROMOTING PROTEIN How the on-trend nutrient can spur sales AT YOUR FOODSERVICE What’s next for grocerant operations, and the infrastructure behind them OPEN WIDE, FIDO Spotlighting oral care for cats and dogs

SETTING THE STAGE Albertsons’ next-generation store is a showplace for the fresh experience

Albertsons Intermountain Division President John Colgrove and Brian Conley, Albertsons on Broadway store director

January 2019

Volume 98, Number 1 $10 •











Unilever is committed to making sustainable living commonplace. Our mission serves to bring positive change to the food industry through collaboration and by driving growth with purpose. Visit to hear how our sustainable living brands are contributing to make a real difference.

Contents 01.19

Volume 98 Issue 1



Setting the Stage



The Way to Work

Protein Power



In 2019, Globetrot for Fresh Flavor

Top Women Celebrate in Chicago



Experts discuss how to overcome the challenges associated with recruitment, retention, training and diversity.

Albertsons’ next-generation store is a showplace for the fresh experience.

Departments 8 EDITOR’S NOTE


March 2019



Sports Drinks

New Shopping Patterns for New Year’s Resolutions


Retailers can strengthen storewide sales by incorporating more products rich in this nutrient into their promotions and educational efforts.


Talking ’Bout My Generation

Better Nutrition With Prepared Foods PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019


Contents 01.19

Volume 98 Issue 1

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 800-422-2681 Fax: 978-671-0460



What’s on the Menu for Grocerants in 2019?

Convenience, freshness, healthfulness and storytelling are the components of a successful department.






Culinary Adventures

SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Theresa Kossack (MIDWEST) 214-226-6468




Novelty in Season




AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT MANAGER Shelly Patton 215-301-0593 LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Elizabeth Jackson 847-492-1350, ext. 318

Innovation in action at world’s largest brewer.

Here’s to Their Health


Staying on Trend to Drive Sales


DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Randy Hofbauer 224-632-8240

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Princess Jones Curtis, D. Gail Fleenor, Kathy Hayden, Bob Ingram, Jenny McTaggart, Lynn Petrak and Mike Troy

Chef Evelyn Miliate, Raley’s manager of culinary innovation, explains how prepared foods can be healthy.

Less common spring produce offers a bounty of marketing and merchandising ideas — as well as opportunities to sell.

MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603

SENIOR EDITOR Kat Martin 224-632-8172

Ask a Chef

Emerging global ingredients can transform not only the grocerant and prepared food area, but also the center store.

EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR James Dudlicek 224-632-8238



Grocers are increasingly developing mobile apps that empower shoppers to take better control of their wellness.



Prepare and Present

Retail foodservice infrastructure is key to the segment’s continuing growth.




Oral Fixation

Grocers should pay attention to this important pet care segment.




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EDITOR’S NOTE By Jim Dudlicek

Beyond Being Well rogressive Grocer has long made the case for grocers owning the healthand-wellness space in retail. From food to pharmacy, grocery retailers are the gatekeepers of the pantry and the medicine chest, with a 360-degree, whole-store perspective. But opportunities lie beyond simple nutrition. Consumers are increasingly interested in overall well-being, encompassing multiple aspects of feeling good. “Wellness is still a highly relevant term for our industry, but well-being has a broader definition, including aspects such as emotional health, energy levels and sleep behaviors,” says Sue Borra, chief health and wellness officer at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and executive director of the FMI Foundation. FMI has released its 2019 “Power of Health and Well-Being in Food Retail,” in which consumers discuss what wellness means to them and their expectations of grocery stores. This report probes the broader definition of “well-being” at a time when food retailers are increasingly considered allies in their shoppers’ quests for health. As grocery retailers invest in both physical and digital shopper Embracing a experiences, embracing a broad, multisensory multisensory well-being-focused environment presents a huge well-beingopportunity for them to engage focused more intimately with consumers, environment thus burnishing their brands and presents a huge driving sales. Grocers employing taglines opportunity to like “Shop well, eat well, live engage more well” at Mariano’s Fresh Market intimately with in Chicago, and “Eat life up” at the new Albertsons on Broad- consumers, way flagship in Boise, Idaho (our thus burnishing Store of the Month in this issue), brands and have the right idea. driving sales. FMI is already promoting the concept among its members. “At FMI, health and well-being is a core competency and practice that influences the very fiber of our programs — from mining consumer insights across all areas of the store and online, to strategizing about shopper expectations from retail,” says Borra, noting that the group’s well-being report “tells a dynamic story of how food retailers are meeting consumer desires for taste and enjoyment, discovery and mindful connection.” 8

Among the relevant insights from FMI’s latest report, retailers are advised to: Recognize the crucial importance of health and wellness to their businesses, delve deeper into consumers’ unmet needs, and gain insight into the behaviors of younger generations. Adopt total-store wellness strategies, advancing consumer education, embracing local marketing, building health partnerships and otherwise boosting consumer trust. Likewise, the group points out to retailers that consumers: Have new wellness expectations from food retailers, creating an opportunity for retailers to further advance their efforts to engage shoppers. Broadly regard food as “medicine” to boost health, though details are different for the various consumer demographics, including among the generations. Believe in the health and social benefits of eating meals at home with family members. Have strong opinions about food labels, health and transparency. Are raising their requirements for transparency, both for packaged items and for information about sourcing, animal welfare and other factors beyond ingredients. Trust guidance from retail dietitians and other health professionals. Of course, we’ll continue to focus on these areas in our ongoing coverage, demonstrating how health and well-being can be part of shopper solutions across the store. From regular features to our monthly registered dietitian-written All’s Wellness column series, we’ll demonstrate how wellness can drive baskets, sales and trips. Let’s make 2019 a healthy year for your shoppers and your business! Jim Dudlicek Editorial Director Twitter @jimdudlicek

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The Power of Working Together GROWTH Our retail relationships are built on our desire to work collaboratively and effectively to meet the diverse needs of our customers and their shoppers.

SOLUTIONS Our collaborative approach means customizing our efforts to the needs of our customers and providing differentiation.

Š2018 CSC Brands LP.

Campbell’s value to Our Customers is centered around REAL and comes to life through a commitment to our customers and our consumers. We are committed to building better partnerships because real success comes as we all work together. TOGETHER, WE WILL DELIVER REAL, SUSTAINABLE, PROFITABLE GROWTH.

FOOD We are transforming our food, beverages, and snacks, making them affordable and accessible to all.

INSIGHTS We know what both today’s and tomorrow’s shoppers want and how they want it. These real, actionable insights enable us to drive loyalty, increase trips, and maximize basket size.


Calendar S



American Red Cross Month National Women’s History Month National Fresh Celery Month National Noodle Month



National Flour Month National Frozen Food Month National Nutrition Month National Peanut Month




National Peanut Butter Lovers Day National Fruit Compote Day



Have some fun by organizing a Pie Face game in honor of National Banana Cream Pie Day.

Employee Appreciation Day


For National Cold Cuts Day, ask customers for their favorite sandwich meats on social media.


Natural Products Expo begins in Anaheim, Calif., and continues through March 9.

National Mulled Wine Day

National Poundcake Day



National Ranch Dressing Day

National “Eat Your Noodles” Day

National Pack Your Lunch Day


Fat Tuesday/ Mardi Gras National Cheese Doodle Day


Ash Wednesday


National Cereal Day





National Peanut Cluster Day

National Oreo Day

Have a cook-off between your store chefs for National Meatball Day.

National Crown Roast of Pork Day


National Milky Way Day


National Chicken Noodle Soup Day


National Potato Chip Day

National Peanut Lovers Day

National Artichoke Heart Day

National Baked Scallops Day

National Pears Helene Day


National Irish Food Day. Can anyone say happy St. Patrick’s Day?



National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day

National Poultry Day

National Sloppy Joe Day

National Oatmeal Cookie Day


Purim begins. National Ravioli Day

National Chocolate Caramel Day


National Tortilla Chip Day


International Waffle Day

National Cheesesteak Day

National Oysters on the Half Shell Day National Clam Day


National Crunchy Taco Day

World Water Day


National Chips and Dip Day National Melba Toast Day

National California Strawberry Day



National Spinach Day

National Spanish Paella Day

National Something On A Stick Day

National Nougat Day


National French Bread Day


National Waffle Day



National World Whisky Day

National Black Forest Cake Day


National Chiffon Cake Day


National Hot Chicken Day National Turkey Neck Soup Day


Market Research

New Shopping Patterns for New Year’s Resolutions Progressive Grocer, along with sister company EIQ Research Solutions, surveyed 1,000 grocery shoppers about their cooking/ shopping/eating habits, including how these have changed over the past year and might change in the next year, whether they make New Year’s resolutions, and when brand is most important. Of the nearly half of shoppers who make resolutions, 46 percent of those resolutions are food-related. Survey respondents were sourced via ProdegeMR, reinventing the research process by taking a respondent-first approach. Visit for more information.

Almost Half of Shoppers Set New Year’s Resolutions/Goals WHETHER SET RESOLUTIONS


Always Occasionally Rarely Never

Higher for Females

Highest for Millennials


43% 27%

said they set New Year’s resolutions or goals at least “occasionally”







Gen X

Baby Boomer


Opportunity lies in positioning products and retail experiences to focus on the “fresh start” that a new year brings, especially when it comes to food/shopping/cooking.

And, of Those Who Do, Nearly Half are Food-Related FOOD - RELATED RESOLUTIONS



Not Sure Yet

46% Yes


Females are more likely to have food-related resolutions


39% 37% No

For manufacturers and retailers, there is an opportunity to gain new customers at the start of a new year by focusing on health and wellness.

Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2018

“Continue to increase my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.” “Eat healthier and more vegetables. Get back on track with meal planning and cooking at home more.” “Limit my sugar intake to fruits and yogurt, avoid processed foods.”



Food-related resolutions usually focus on eating healthier/better, losing weight or eating “more” or “less” of something.

“Less red meat. Lose weight.” “To eat a lot more healthy foods like beans, lentils, leafy greens, vegetables and fruits, avocados, and salmon.”

Speaking with… Joe Toscano, Vice President, Trade and Industry Development, Purina

Progressive Grocer: Industry data show that pet owners are becoming increasingly aware of their pets’ teeth and mouths as part of overall animal health. Is that a trend you’re seeing at Nestle Purina Pet Care? Joe Toscano: At Purina, our innovation and product introduction cycle is guided by research. We have more than 500 scientists, veterinarians and nutritionists on staff, who work tirelessly to uncover breakthrough nutrition that helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives. That said, we’re well aware of the importance of promoting good dental health in dogs and cats. As pet parents are becoming more informed and engaged in their pet’s care and nutrition, targeted, or functional, food and treats are growing in popularity. Consumers are looking for nutrition that’s not only enjoyable, but also healthy and enables their pet to live his best life. In fact, 25 percent of the pet treat category—a category which has always held great potential for retailers as a basket builder—is made up of functional treats. It’s these better-for-you treats that are growing faster than the rest of the category (at nearly 5 percent growth vs. 3.6 percent). Pet treats that specifically address dental health make up 12 percent of the total pet treat category.

PG: What are some of the most common dental health problems cats and dogs have? And what effect can those problems have on their general health and wellbeing? JT: Periodontal disease is by far the most common dental disease found in both adult dogs and cats. It develops as a result of bacteria and plaque that make their way under the gum line. As periodontal disease progresses, it becomes painful, and if left unchecked, will result in the loss of the tooth. Signs of periodontal disease include bad breath, redness along the gum line, tartar accumulation and oral pain. However, it’s hard to detect oral pain in our pets, as many signs are subtle and can go unnoticed. Left untreated, over time periodontal disease may even result in damage to internal organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. The good news is that with consistent home dental care and regular vet visits, periodontal disease can be prevented. PG: Pet owners are sometimes hesitant to spend a lot of money to have a vet S P O N S O R E D CO N T E N T

care for their pets’ dental health. What are some products available today they can be buy right at retail to help promote the health of their pets’ teeth and gums from puppy stage on? JT: Purina launched the successful DentaLife brand of dog and cat treats early in 2016. The DentalLife treats are made with wholesome ingredients and feature a crunchy exterior and chewy, porous inside that pets love. The treats help clean hard to reach places, are scientifically proven to reduce tartar buildup on your dog’s teeth and are approved by the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council). Under the same Purina DentaLife brand, we launched the Advanced Clean Dental Chew. The new treats are made with a dense, chewy texture designed to keep your dog chewing longer. Together with its patented twisted triple-ridge shape, DentaLife Advanced Clean is able to reduce tartar buildup and deliver a powerful deep clean. Purina DentaLife also will launch ActiveFresh in January 2019, as a brand new revolutionary scientific breakthrough in attacking bad breath at the source. This new proprietary recipe fights bad breath at the source versus the traditional method of masking it. Aside from our new offerings, grocers can realize incremental sales by taking advantage of this current trend and “brushing up” their pet treat section. Retailers should consider a monthly merchandising program that uses new merch units and secondary placements, plus highlights new items in the oral health segment. PG: How can retailers capitalize on this new trend in dental treats? JT: Grocers can take advantage of this trend by brushing up their pet treat sections. Retailers should consider a monthly merchandising program that uses new merch units and secondary placements, plus highlights new items in the oral health segment. In doing so, they can realize incremental sales and profits.


Research & Analysis In 2019, Globetrot for Fresh Flavor GLOBAL FL AVORS ARE THE PERFECT WAY TO CRE ATE E XCITEMENT IN THE GROCER ANT AND IN HOME COOKING. The following are four flavors from around the world that you should consider adding to grocerant dishes, the prepared food department or your product inventory. The flavors are taken from Datassential’s “SNAP! Keynote Report: Global Flavors,” which examines emerging global cuisines outside of mainstream Chinese, Italian and Mexican fare. Use “safe experimentation” to allow consumers to try these less-known flavors through familiar dishes — for example, adding a global flavor like zaatar to a pasta dish.


Zaatar MAC stage: Inception — Ethnic markets, ethnic independents, and fine dining Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation and presentation.

Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation and presentation.

This Middle Eastern spice blend is typically made with dried thyme, dried sumac, sesame seeds and a variety of other herbs. Retail is beginning to embrace this earthy, crunchy mix, which is generally mild enough to be used in numerous applications, from dipping sauces to meat to flatbreads and beyond.

This Vietnamese noodle soup is traditionally flavored with warming spices like ginger, star anise and cinnamon, and includes a variety of other toppings such as bean sprouts and sliced chilies. Several ready-to-eat versions of this approachable dish can be found in retail. Make it a soup in your grocerant, too.

On <1% of U.S. restaurant menus

On 2% of U.S. restaurant menus

+200% on U.S. restaurant menus

Up 47% on menus over the past four years

15% of consumers know it / 6% have tried it Menu Example Pita Jungle, Scottsdale, Ariz. (HQ) Spinach Four Cheese Quesadilla Cheddar, mozzarella, feta, swiss, lavash bread, fresh spinach, tzatziki, pico de gallo, zaatar.



Pho MAC stage: Inception — Ethnic markets, ethnic independents and fine dining


Chimichurri MAC stage: Adoption — Ethnic aisle at supermarkets, casual independents,

fast casual


Gochujang MAC stage: Adoption — Ethnic aisle at supermarkets, casual independents, fast casual

Adoption-stage trends grow their base via lower price points and simpler prep methods. Still differentiated, these trends often feature premium and/or generally authentic ingredients.

Adoption-stage trends grow their base via lower price points and simpler prep methods. Still differentiated, these trends often feature premium and/or generally authentic ingredients.

This bright-green condiment similar to pesto is ubiquitous in Argentina and other parts of South America. The herb-laden sauce is typically made with a base of olive oil and vinegar, as well as chopped parsley, oregano and garlic. It pairs natually with grilled meat and is used as a condiment for various dishes.

This Korean staple has a sweet and spicy kick. It’s made with a combination of Korean chili pepper, glutinous rice and fermented soybean powder. Mix it with oil for a dressing or vinaigrette, or swirl it into mayo or ketchup for a unique burger or sandwich topping. On 2% of U.S. menus

On 7% of U.S. restaurant menus + >300% over the past four years

41% of consumers know it / 24% have tried it Menu Example Loving Hut, San Jose, Calif. Fabulous Pho Famous au lac traditional noodle soup: fresh rice noodles, various soy proteins, onions, olive oil, special homemade vegetable broth. Side of thai basil, bean sprouts, lime.

+83% over the past four years 44% of consumers know it / 23% have tried it Menu Example Endolyne Joe’s, Seattle Chimichurri Pork Tenderloin Pan-seared, marinated and chilerubbed loin finished with roasted pineapple and red chimichurri. Served with sweet potato hash and sautéed kale.

13% of consumers know it, 6% have tried it Menu Example Young Joni, Minneapolis Bibim Grain Salad Job’s tears, farro, brussels sprouts, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, pickled vegetables, daikon, nori, mixed seeds, soft egg, gochujang vinaigrette.

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Shelf Stoppers

Shelf Stoppers


(52 weeks ending April 2, 2016) Snack Products

Salty Snacks Sweet Snacks Fruit Snacks

Top Snack Super-Categories by $ Sales

How much are average American Consumers chose households spending frozen broccoli over per trip on various alternatives for ofofsnacks? atypes variety reasons:





because it’s quick and easy



Basket Facts

Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 09/29/18

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 09/30/17


Salty Snacks

Latest 52 Wks W/E 10/01/16

because it tastes $5.43 great

Total U.S. xAOC (All Outlets Combined): includes grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, select dollar stores, select warehouse clubs and military commissaries (DeCA)


Source: Nielsen Retail Measurement Services

Spotlight on Frozen Broccoli

WHEN ARE CONSUMERS FROZEN Snacking in America shows no sign of slowing, asEATING we’ve seen nearly 4BROCCOLI? percent dollar growth across salty, sweet and fruit snacks. Tried-and-true products tortilla Broccoli as an ingredient is most commonly Frozen broccolilike is most often chips, used in a side potato chips and popcorn to drive growth. The entrée. snack consumed continue at dinner, followed byoverall lunch. category dish,dollar followed by as a main category is one place where consumers still want to indulge, as traditional snack foods lead 3% and rice category growth. At the same time, ‘healthier’ options — such as vegetable-based snacks chips — remain relatively stagnant. From playing into ingredient avoidance to committing to 9% ingredients, there’s now a way for all snacks to play manufacture transparent products with simple healthy. For American consumers, that’s shone a healthful halo around many snack food favorites.”

because it’s healthy and nutritious


because it’s low in Sweet Snacks calories, fat and sugar


—Lauren Fernandes, Manager-Strategy and Analytics, Nielsen OCCASION MEAL ITEM 29% TYPE CLASS 62% 35% 61%

Demographic Spotlight

Looking across various forms of salty snacks, it’s interesting to see demographic shifts emerge. Looking across various household lifestages, families (younger bustling families, and older bustling families) are spending more thanDINNER we’d expect on salty snacks, size as cohorts. Tortilla OTHER LUNCH OTHER given their SIDE DISH MAIN ENTRÉE chips and meat snacks seem to be popular in families with children of all ages, while potato chips and popcorn tend to be purchased by families with older children. Total Salty Snacks

Potato Chips

Tortilla Chips


Meat Snacks

Potato Chips


Description $ / HH Index - Product

HH Index Product

$ / HH Index - Product

HH Index Product

$ / HH Index - Product

HH Index Product

$ / HH Index - Product

HH Index Product

$ / HH Index - Product

HH Index Product

Startup Families











Small-Scale Families











Younger Bustling Families











Older Bustling Families











Young Transitionals











Independent Singles











Senior Singles











Established Couples











Empty Nest Couples











Senior Couples











Household Behavior Stage

Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Sept. 29, 2018


Tortilla Chips


Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending September 29th, 2018

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Trion WonderBar ®


The System That Sells ™

Storewide Applications

Oversize Packages

Vac-Pack Meat

Dual Lane Merchandising


Maximize Your Merchandising Space. Q

Increases product facings and rows, lifts sales as much as 20%.


Maximizes visibility and shopability and billboards package design. Auto-feed trays and hooks assure a continuously well-faced display.


Simple design allows one-man installation in as little as one-tenth the time of traditional systems. Reset 48 facings in as little as 15 minutes. Replanogramming any product is a snap.


Easy tray dismount and rear-loading reduce labor, speed restocking, ensure product rotation, and reduce shrinkage.


Designed for center store, perimeter, general merchandise, soft goods, cooler and freezer use. Tool-free universal mount adapts to all major gondola and upright configurations.


Four bar profiles in both 3' and 4' lengths accommodate trays and baskets, bar-mount and plug-in hooks, auto-feed and security hooks, and horizontal and vertical sign and label holder systems.


System design options allow choice of 1" or 1/2" vertical adjustment and increased usable tray and hook depth for even greater display capacity.


Eleven standard tray depths available with width adjustment from 2-3/4" to 17-1/2." Mini system, oversize product trays, vac-pack deli trays, dual lane trays and others address all product needs.


A store tested solution. Over 5,000,000 trays sold and in use across retail. Proudly Made in the U.S.A.

Cheese and Fresh Pasta

Frozen Food

Candy and Gum

Tall Products

Š2013 Trion Industries, Inc. Toll-Free in U.S.A. 800-444-4665 Note: Product photography is a simulation of a retail environment and is not meant to imply endorsement by or for any brand or manufacturer.


Global New Products Database

Sports Drinks Market Overview

The U.S. nutrition and performance drink category has seen steady growth during the past five years, with sales estimated to reach $14 billion in 2018. Sports drinks make up more than half of the nutrition and performance drink category, the largest share of any sector.

However, the perception of high sugar totals challenge both the sports drink segment and the nutrition and perfor performance drink category as a whole.

Key Issues

Sugar concerns are keeping some shoppers away from nutrition and performance drinks: Two in five consumers think that these products are too high in sugar. A bright spot and growth area for the category is plant-based options, with 27 percent of new nutritional drink launches containing pea protein in 2017, compared with just 7 percent in 2013.

Nutrition and performance drinks also have a hurdle to overcome when it comes to efficacy, as just 15 percent of consumers think that these products deliver on promised claims such as weight loss or muscle building.



What Does It Mean? Manufacturers can experiment with a range of sweetener options to find formulations that deliver on taste and permissibility. At a time when competing categories are expanding functional offerings, proving efficacy will be essential to becoming the product that shoppers choose. While the nutritional drink segment has seen an increase in plant-based options, there’s an opportunity for performance drink brands to innovate with new plantbased and nondairy ingredients to appeal to a wider audience.

ALL’S WELLNESS By Molly Hembree

Better Nutrition With Prepared Foods ENSURE THAT YOUR ME AL SOLUTIONS ARE UP TO SCR ATCH, HE ALTH-WISE. ho doesn’t want their food to be not only tasty, healthy and cost-effective, but also easy? Prepared foods may unlock the answers. The prepared food market has recently experienced many enhanced grab-and-go ofof ferings, and your customers are taking notice. Ready-to-eat foods from your stores can be the perfect solutions to shoppers’ busy lifestyles and discourage them from spending their food dollar at other competitive foodservice outlets. In fact, a report from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), “U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2018,” notes that among all shoppers, 15 percent will “often” or “always” choose to select prepared foods from the grocery store rather than fast-food places or restaurants if they haven’t cooked, with Millennials most likely to do so. Another FMI report, “The Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2018,” explains that retailers are benefiting from investments made in deli/prepared food offerings. It’s reported that deli/prepared foodservice and foods are among the most used (88 percent of the time) and successful (52 percent highly favorable) product differentiation strategies for retailers. Important considerations, including cost, affect the success of your prepared food program. Prepared meals and sides can be advantageous, however, as they seldom have unused ingredients and don’t require partial amounts from original product packaging, thus saving money and lessening the risk of food waste. Your task as a retailer is to strike the right consumer price point of prepared food offerings that falls between the cost of dining out and that of home scratch cooking.

Be Prepared for the New Year

The month of January is a terrific opportunity to broadcast the benefits of controlled servings of prepared foods. Often health-focused resolutions are made for the New Year, which include attention to weight management. Ready-made meals and sides can be bought at the counter in amounts at the discretion of the customer; however, many options, such as one-cup containers of soup, two-person meal kits, single pizza slices or individual sandwiches, can make it inherently easy to determine how many people an item serves. Some bistro and delicatessen departments even offer meals with several sides that are sold only by a set weight, thereby placing tighter controls on how much customers would expectedly consume. Common concerns among consumers of prepared foods are high sodium and calories. Be sure as a retailer that you’re addressing these issues, beginning in the procurement chain and enlisting the help of your dietitian to evaluate nutrition attributes. Frequently, customers assume that


Customers assume that ready-made grocery store foods are healthier than restaurant choices, so it’s wise to build upon this consumer trust.” ready-made grocery store foods are healthier than restaurant choices, so it’s wise to build upon this consumer trust. Stock your prepared food case with snacks or sides at less than 300 milligrams of sodium and fewer than 300 calories per serving, and meals at less than 600 milligrams of sodium and fewer than 600 calories per serving. A simple solution to upping nutrition with little excess sodium or calories is to add fresh or cooked fruits and vegetables. Perhaps the lasagna on your hot food bar could use some cooked spinach, the tuna salad could benefit from added celery, or the sushi rolls at the café could be spruced up with more cucumber and carrots. Putting nutrition at the core of your prepared food department translates to more transparency for your customers in the form of displayed nutrition facts, available ingredient lists, wholesome produce-centric recipes, meal-pairing suggestions and portion control efforts. Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian coordinator for The Little Clinic and Kroger.



Top Women in Grocery Gala

Top Women Celebrate in Chicago DAY TIME PROGR AM, E VENING AWARDS PRESENTATION HONORED E XCELLENCE IN VARIOUS FORMS. rogressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery gala, which took place last Nov. 8 in Chicago, honored the nearly 370 women chosen in the prestigious awards program’s three categories: Senior-Level Executive, Rising Star and Store Manager. Nearly 600 were in attendance to help the honorees celebrate. The event, hosted by PG Director of Content Joan Driggs and Senior Editor Kat Martin, and held at the Palmer House Hilton, recognized women's invaluable industry contributions from all parts of the retail food industry with a daytime educational program and an evening gala. “Women and men are entering the workforce in about equal numbers, according to LeanIn and McKinsey data, but that’s where the equal representation ends. Women already are falling behind from the first step into management,” Martin noted in her address to the honorees, who were selected from nearly 700 nominations, and industry guests. “Take a look at your own company. Does your company reflect its shopping population — the people in the stores buying the products, the community we all serve in some capacity?” During the evening gala, Kathy Russello, EVP, people systems and services at Retail Business Services (RBS), the services company of Ahold Delhaize USA, was named the 2018 Trailblazer, an award that honors a single executive whose leadership, vision and influence have helped break new ground for women in the retail food industry. The award was presented by Sarah Alter, president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women (NEW), and Shirin Odar, South Region VP for PepsiCo. “Kathy has been a role model for women in retail grocery and has helped countless women attain their career goals,” Alter noted. “She has tackled policies that have held women back. She has championed leadership development programs that have helped women move ahead. And she has supported a workplace culture where women are seen, heard and respected for their talent and the business results they deliver.” Two executives were also inducted into the Top Women in Grocery Hall of Fame, an extension of the Top Women in Grocery program that was introduced last year. The two new inductees were Jill Griffin, president, Advantage Marketing Partners for Advantage Solutions, and Cathy Lord, VP corporate human resources for Albertsons Cos.


PG would like to thank all of the sponsors for the Top Women in Grocery gala event: Clif Bar & Company Procter & Gamble Distributing Company Daymon The Kellogg Company PepsiCo The Hershey Company Post Consumer Brands Earth Friendly Products BuzzBallz Coca-Cola Ltd. USA Bouquet Company American Greeting Card Rowdy Prebiotic Simply Protein




Top Women in Grocery Gala

Leadership Development Program

Kicking off the day’s activities, the Leadership Development Program addressed the realities facing women in the workforce. Keynote speaker Julie Jones, GM of grocery and home improvement for Procter & Gamble, discussed the “5 Myths Women Face in the Workforce,” most anchored in the erroneous idea that the workforce is fine, but it’s the women who need to change. Jones noted that there’s a whole industry built around the concept that we need to “fix” the women. “Not all women want to be CEO, but neither do all men,” she pointed out. “Men are called leaders, and women are called bossy. We have to broaden our definition of a leader — stop being so binary.” NEW’s Alter and Julie Janckila, director of corporate partnerships, addressed the organization’s research regarding women in leadership positions. The upshot was that companies need to focus on conscious inclusion to get away from unconscious bias, Alter observed. She also suggested three things that all women need to do in their respective workplaces: advocate for themselves and others, negotiate, and invite. PG’s Martin also moderated a panel of Top Women who discussed their own experiences and offered advice in answer to questions from the audience. The panelists were Susan Morris, EVP and COO of Albertsons; Kelly Sosa, SVP and general manager of Davidson’s Specialty Foods, a division of C&S Wholesale; Rachel Shemirani, VP of marketing for Barons Market; and Sara Herring, director club channel for Coca-Cola Bottling. The day’s educational program was rounded out by motivational speaker Lee Ann Piano, who urged the audience to “Go For It!” Piano suggested that everyone take a closer look at their own leadership styles, because “behavior permitted is behavior repeated,” while “performance is measured and potential is discovered.” Following dinner and the awards presentation, the event’s festivities concluded with the Hershey Dessert Party, where the winners and industry guests hit the dance floor while enjoying some delicious chocolate-based treats.


Nominations are now open for the 2019 Top Women in Grocery program and can be submitted at The next gala event will be held Nov. 7, 2019, at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, in Orlando, Fla.

New Year New Innovation

Š General Mills


Store of the Month


Albertsons’ next-generation store is a showplace for the fresh experience. By Jim Dudlicek Photography by Vito Palmisano

Albertsons on Broadway Boise, Idaho




Albertsons on Broadway

ohn Colgrove can barely contain his excitement when leading a tour of Albertsons on Broadway, the retailer’s nextgeneration concept store a mere stone’s throw from its corporate headquarters in Boise, Idaho. “We call this our food paradise store,” asserts Colgrove, president of Albertsons’ Intermountain Division, as he walks the perimeter, talking up the store’s “meal in a bag” ready-to-cook dinner solutions, the surprise success of exotic meats like frog legs, and a fresh prepared department that, in his words, just kills it. “This is all about winning in fresh.” Fresh, like organic produce, house-made mozzarella and sausage, dry-aged beef, sustainable seafood, handdipped chocolates, and a scratch bakery including signature items like dill pickle-flavored rye bread. There’s also a food court offering pizza, sushi, carved meats, custom sandwiches, salads, soups and a hot bar. And then there’s Broadway on the Rocks, a full bar that hosts bands and other social events, and where patrons can order food from the store’s kitchens while on a lunch break from Boise State University across the street, or enjoy a weeknight meal while gazing into the nearby mountains at what Colgrove calls the best sunset in town. All of these things come together to offer an experience captured by the store’s appropriate tagline: Eat Life Up. “It’s a totally new concept for a grocery store here in the Treasure Valley,” Colgrove says. “This is the first Albertsons store like its kind in the area. The culture of this store is unique, focusing on creating a food experience through expertise, demos and education. From hard-to-find unique ingredients, to prized local favorites, to cooking classes and live events, 32

The Albertsons on Broadway team includes (from left) Tracy Erkelens, butcher block supervisor; Rob Medeiros, assistant store director; Dru Folk, service deli manager; Kelsey Messer, talent relations manager; Molly Tevis, in-store registered dietitian; Alvin Charlton, assistant store director; Jordan Saenz, concierge and events manager; Jose Barrera, produce manager; Christopher McDonald, executive chef; Marie Egynee Ayad, Broadway on the Rocks manager; Emily Tipton, catering manager; Stephanie Jensen, front end manager; John Colgrove, Intermountain Division president; Maryam Karimi, floral manager; Brian Conley, store director; and Tomas Wheaton, assistant store director.

Albertsons on Broadway raises the bar for what customers can expect from a fantastic grocery store.” Albertsons is already replicating the concept with a new store about double the size of Broadway over in Meridian, smack in the center of Idaho’s fastest-growing city, about 12 miles west of Boise. The Broadway store “was designed to attract shoppers looking for something uniquely different,” Colgrove explains, “for those looking for local and fresh ingredients, those who want to learn more about food and nutrition, and those who are needing help in planning the perfect event — even for those who are looking to spend time with family and friends in a unique and trendy environment. We have something for everyone.”

The ‘Wow’ Line

Visitors entering Albertsons on Broadway are met with fresh in every direction, finding themselves surrounded by a sweeping floral boutique, fresh produce, prepared foods and, in the mezzanine above the main sales floor, the bar area, Broadway on the Rocks. These various elements coalesce to create shock and awe for first-time shoppers. “It became the ‘wow’ line,” Colgrove says of folks lined up for the store’s grand opening last July. “As they walked in, they’d stop and the first word out of their mouth was ‘Wow.’” He elaborates: “We wanted to bring something fresh and new to Boise, and we felt this new store concept would resonate. We also thought the time PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019



Albertsons on Broadway


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was right to bring Boise the culinary experiences many hunger for but haven’t gotten yet locally. The store concept was inspired by one of our company’s subsidiaries, United Supermarkets, several years ago. We leveraged that great brand name into something that’s distinctly Idaho. Featuring all things local and fresh, it is a destination food getaway. It is the gathering place where guests can enjoy the exploration, education, preparation and consumption of food in a relaxed and trendy environment, surrounded by employees whose sole purpose is to help them enjoy time with food, family and friends.” And despite the presence of three other Albertsons stores within a few miles, no business has been cannibalized by the new location — in fact, the retailer has experienced incremental sales, Albertsons on Broadway offers time-crunched consumers grab-and-go foods and beverages, a coffee shop, a sushi bar, and a dedicated grocerant checkstand right at the front of the store. 20954_2019_Jan_Enrobed_Progressive_Grocer_Half_Page_Ad_FNL.pdf

Colgrove notes. “We were able to draw in new business that we hadn’t been able to satisfy” with the older, smaller market that Broadway replaced, he says. The store features “ultra-premium merchandising with the convenience of mainstream,” according to Store Director Brian Conley.

The culture of this store is unique, focusing on creating a food experience through expertise, demos and education. From hard-to-find unique ingredients, to prized local favorites, to cooking classes and live events, Albertsons on Broadway raises the bar for what customers can expect from a fantastic grocery store.” —John Colgrove, Intermountain Division President 1 12/20/18 11:19 AM









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Albertsons on Broadway

This includes what Conley says is the largest variety of natural, organic, specialty, health and ethnic (NOSHE) and local items in the region. Foodservice items are developed by the store’s executive chef for in-store dining as well as take-home consumption. The in-store bar offers indoor and outdoor seating, in addition to a state-of-the-art wine collection and three dozen beers on tap, of which about half are local craft selections. Large windows allow panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, as well as a glimpse of Albertsons Stadium at Boise State University; the arena is within earshot of the store, making game days on the outdoor patio even more exciting. The meat and seafood assortment includes numerous ready-to-cook, pre-seasoned and value-added selections, as well as dry-aged beef . An extensive scratch bakery also offers handmade candies and ice cream, while charcuterie and specialty cheeses abound in the service deli. There are also bulk foods; a wide variety of natural, organic and locally made skin care, hair and body products; and concierge services for event-planning needs. “Boise has deep roots in great local food, stemming from our farming and ranching industry to our refugee and Basque community,” Conley notes. “The Albertsons store on Broadway is a place where people are hungry for improved culinary experiences that feature more locally sourced quality ingredients.”

The meat department features a multitude of preseasoned, stuffed and value-added selections, as well as house-made sausages, dry-aged beef and exotic meats.


The store's signature items include scratchmade baked goods and hand-dipped frozen treats.

Made In Store

As a next-generation store, Broadway has become a test bed for new concepts. “We’re looking at what are we doing in this store that we can scale up and take it to the rest of the division,” Colgrove says. Among them are solutions like meals in a bag, exclusive to this store, delivering a single-serve meal including a protein and vegetables. Able to be cooked in a conventional oven or microwave, the items are proving to be “very, very successful,” according to Colgrove. As for the dry-aged beef: “We sell every bit we can get our hands on — we’ve got a waiting list,” Colgrove says, noting that the meat is aged 14 days

before arriving at the store, and then mellows for at least 21 more days. Another huge seller in the meat department is the house-made sausage, available in 25 varieties, including, appropriately enough for the locale, potato (“We can’t keep up with it,” Colgrove says). An unexpected win has been exotic meats, with brisk sales not only for elk, bison, boar and pheasant, but also frog legs and octopus. “We put this in to differentiate ourselves, and it’s been a surprise,” Colgrove observes. The store’s meat department provides all of the protein for the carving station in the food court. “Foodservice is our No. 1 volume department,” Colgrove asserts. The food court features a hot bar that he describes as “off the charts”; shallow pans mean that items are “continually added fresh all day long,” Colgrove notes. Meanwhile, the bar menu upstairs at Broadway on the Rocks is replete with chef-inspired entrées that are prepared downstairs and whisked to patrons relaxing upstairs. Visitors may bring food from elsewhere in the store to the bar area, and you can enjoy a bottle of wine purchased at the store in the bar with no corkage fee. There’s also a community room off the bar, available free of charge to local groups for meetings. “We’ll have a band up here to play while the sun’s setting,” Colgrove says. “You won’t be able to find a table.” Back downstairs, the deli features a variety of meats and cheeses, alongside salads and other items, “all clean labeled and made from scratch,” Colgrove notes. Scratch-made products are big here. The most prevalent signage seems to be “Made In Store.” To serve the large Basque community in the area, the store has a partnership with The Basque Market, a specialty grocery store in Boise. The market supplies an assortment of products to the Broadway store, merchandised in center store, as well as a cooler near the dairy department, and each retailer promotes the other’s store. “It’s a unique partnership,” Colgrove remarks. “We sell so much of the stuff, customers can’t believe we do this. It’s exciting to offer things no other grocery store does.” To be sure, that’s the whole point of Albertsons on Broadway. “You can walk up and down every category and you’ll find mainstream items, but we’ve gone overboard on local and specialty items to give people variety in every category,” Colgrove says. “There are several unique products that we carry in the store, and it gives us a chance to see what our customers like and want to see more of,” he continues. “For example, we showcased a mochi ice cream bar in our bakery department. It was so well received

Chef-inspired menu items include signature sandwiches and custom pizzas, to eat in or take home.

by our customers that we decided to add them in a few other stores across our division. We will continue to evaluate other items that might be a great fit for our stores in the various markets we serve.”

A Gathering Place

Albertsons had intended to call this store Market Street Idaho, using a name borrowed from the retailer’s United Supermarkets division in Texas. As the time to raze the original store on the site drew near, however, the equity of the Albertsons name at this site after so many years was made clear. “The media was here, and people were telling all these stories about how long they’ve shopped here,” Colgrove recalls, “and with the [Albertsons-sponsored Boise State University] stadium down the street, we decided to keep the Albertsons name because there was so much value.” (The new store under construction in Meridian is scheduled to open in March under the name Albertsons Market Street.) PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019



Albertsons on Broadway


Albertsons Store #199 1219 S. Broadway Ave. Boise, ID 83706



Grand opening:

July 21, 2018


Total square footage




Selling area:

45,000 square feet

40,000+ SKUs



350+ Employees Checkouts:

10 main checkstands, 2 express foodservice checkstands Hours: 6 a.m. to midnight daily Designer: Exterior — CSHQA; interior — King Retail Solutions

























Albertsons on Broadway

Broadway on the Rocks offers a pub atmosphere, with a full bar featuring craft beers on tap and an opportunity to enjoy any grocerant item available in the store.

While honoring tradition, the new store brings a different experience than previously available. “National grocery trends are changing and evolving very quickly. Many shoppers are interested in buying local and are purchasing more NOSHE items,” says Gineal Davidson, VP of merchandising and marketing for Albertsons’ Intermountain Division. “They are frequently reading labels and wanting to learn more about what is in their food. The new store concept caters to that audience with a large variety of local items throughout the store, as well as a large variety of NOSHE products that can be found in all departments.” The store attracts shoppers “looking for something uniquely different,” Davidson notes. “Our customers are able to find the items they buy every day and find new items they did not yet know they were looking for. Albertsons on Broadway also features cooking classes and nutritional classes that allow our customers to learn and grow. By having all these features under one roof, our hope is to make life easier for those who shop with us.” The product mix and a fun atmosphere combine to 40

create “an electricity in the store that can’t be beat,” says Shane Sampson, Albertsons EVP and chief marketing and merchandising officer. “The customers are telling us we’ve really got something here, and we absolutely want to bring this kind of store and experience to more communities across the country.” The store is arranged so folks can target their specific needs. For example, in addition to the main entrance from the parking lot, there’s an entryway on the street side facing the university, allowing visitors to enter directly into the Starbucks coffee shop

and prepared food area, and leave without going through the rest of the store. It’s also where the concierge desk is located, at which customers can place catering orders. “We’re getting weddings and all kinds of special events,” Colgrove notes. Another destination is the Living Well aisle in the pharmacy area, where contoured shelves feature natural products, lotions and remedies, along with a refrigerated end cap offering probiotic products. Meanwhile, the fragrances of aromatic bath products draw shoppers to an opposite end cap. Colgrove beams as he discusses the opportunities for concepts launching at Broadway that can be scaled up for stores all over the division, from an emphasis on local products, to healthy refrigerated offerings in the checklanes, to talented chocolatiers turning out decadent treats, to a lavish floral department that’s been busy doing special events. “We didn’t want this to be just a grocery store,” he says. “We wanted it to be a gathering place.” So far, it looks like Albertsons on Broadway is everything that its shoppers need it to be.

Albertsons in Boise The original store at the location of the current Albertsons on Broadway supermarket was a 26,000-square-foot store built in 1959. It remained open during initial construction of the new store, but was finally demolished in April 2018. “When the company broke ground on this particular store in June 2017, it represented our first new store here in Idaho, built from the ground up, since 1999,” says John Colgrove, president of Albertsons’ Intermountain Division. The new Albertsons on Broadway opened 79 years to the day since the opening of Joe Albertson’s first store at 16 th and State streets in Boise. “When Joe Albertson founded our company on July 21, 1939, he began a legacy of delivering an innovative and welcoming shopping experience. Joe’s first store was innovative, with magazine racks, a household section, bakery, meat shop — all under one roof,” Colgrove recounts. “Fast-forward 79 years, and Joe’s innovative ideas and journey are stronger than ever. This new store carries forward his innovative spirit and is the place to shop in the Boise community. I think opening this next-generation store in Boise was a proud day for Joe, and a proud day for our entire company.” As the store’s mission statement declares: “To serve you culinary delights and unique food experiences everywhere you turn. To offer world-class expertise, from cooking classes and events to hand-selected items found nowhere else in Idaho. To build personal friendships that leave lasting impressions and keep you hungry for more. To ignite your appetite and inspire you to … eat life up.”


Best Practices


Training should be offered on an ongoing basis to help employees learn not just the fundamentals of their roles, but also to grasp their larger significance to the grocer’s mission, vision and values.


Key Takeaways Attracting and retaining an efficient retail workforce depends on offering such resources as technology that automates and streamlines daily tasks, seeking candidates who fit within a grocer’s culture, and then making sure that employees stay by increasing their emotional connection to the company.

To benefit from greater workplace diversity, which drives innovation and profits, retailers must help underrepresented groups, including women, to reach their full potential.

ith labor a perennial headache for food retailers that’s only grown worse in recent years — the issue topped the list of big issues keeping grocers up at night, according to Progressive Grocer’s 2018 Annual Report of the Grocery Industry, chosen by 66.7 percent of survey respondents, up from second place in 2017 — it’s more necessary than ever for the industry to figure out the best ways to recruit, retain, train and ensure the diversity of its employees. To that end, Progressive Grocer sought out several experts for their ideas on creating a happier, more efficient workforce in 2019 and beyond.

‘Moments That Matter’

“By investing in resources to enrich the workplace for employees, grocers have an incredible opportunity to attract and retain high-performing, reliable associates — a.k.a. the types of employees you want representing your brand — while also cultivating customer loyalty across all channels,” asserts Amanda Nichols, senior manager, industry marketing, retail and hospitality at Lowell, Mass.-based Kronos Inc., a provider of workforce management and HCM cloud software solutions. “Simple things like making it easy to check a schedule or swap a shift with a co-worker sound small, but when your son has just made the playoffs, knowing that your employer has invested in automated and easy-to-use tools for scheduling and shift swapping really makes a difference,” Nichols goes on to explain. “We call these the ‘moments that matter’ to employees, and it’s critical that grocers simplify and streamline these daily tasks. Essentially, you want to meet your employees’ baseline expectations around work tasks — it’s the first step in building a great relationship with your teams. Get those right, and the stage is set for attracting and retaining the highest-caliber talent in your industry.” To meet those expectations, she urges grocers: “Take action to simplify the employee experience. Consider the tasks that your employees are doing every week, or maybe every day: clocking in and out, checking schedules, swapping a shift. … [I]t’s critical that retailers simplify and streamline these daily tasks.” Continues Nichols: “For starters, tasks should be easy to complete using intelligent workplace apps or technologies that are modern, intuitive and user-friendly. Think one-click actions, automatic shift swapping (without manager intervention), personalized employee dashboards, single sign-on across multiple employee apps, and more. Many employees — especially Gen Z and Millennials — expect a familiar, consumer-grade technology experience at work, and it’s within reach for employers to deliver.” What’s more, according to Nichols, “Additional differentiators like flexible and predictable schedules … and premium pay for hard-to-fill shifts help to maximize employee engagement.”

“If you don’t have a capable, connected and committed workforce, you can’t focus on the rest of your business,” points out Margi Prueitt, executive director of the Produce Marketing Association’s Center for Growing Talent, in Newark, Del. “Companies can turn their talent crisis into a talent opportunity by focusing strategically on [their] ‘people practices.’” Adds Prueitt: “The best way to fix your talent challenge and become a talent magnet is to shift from transactional HR — e.g., focusing on hiring, firing, labor law compliance — to transformational HR. By aligning your HR programs and practices with your business’ goals and related talent needs, you can take your company — and [the food] industry — to the next competitive level and grow your business’ bottom line.” Once you’ve attracted that superior talent, let them know from the first day that they’re valued members of the team. “Onboarding … can be a make-or-break moment to demonstrate your company’s culture, values and your expectations for employees. It’s important to show that you reward top performers and that you’ll provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs well so that employees are armed with this knowledge from the start,” notes Nichols.

Grocers are coming to understand that paying attention to culture and actively supporting employees with knowledge and career growth goes a long way towards attracting and retaining strong talent in the first place.” —Carol Leaman, Axonify “Grocers are coming to understand that paying attention to culture and actively supporting employees with knowledge and career growth goes a long way towards attracting and retaining strong talent in the first place,” agrees Carol Leaman, CEO of Waterloo, Ontario-based Axonify, a B2B software-as-a-service company and provider of microlearning solutions — that is, education offered in relatively small learning units. “It starts [on] day one, with more than just perfunctory onboarding. New employees should feel connected to the team and understand the bigger picture that the organization is trying to achieve.”

Maintaining an Emotional Connection Key to retaining a top-notch workforce is to make sure that associates remain personally invested in their jobs. “Supporting employees every day in a way that’s




Best Practices

Retailers who want to reap the full benefits of women’s leadership and retain talented women need to look at their policies, procedures and corporate cultures to root out bias that prevents not just gender diversity, but gender inclusion … and barriers to women’s success.” —Sarah Alter, Network of Executive Women

easy, personalized and relevant means employees feel engaged at work,” observes Leaman. “Feeling supported and engaged is directly impactful to the sector’s increasing focus on customer experience (CX) as a point of differentiation. Disengaged associates aren’t particularly invested in bringing the CX strategy to life.” She adds: “Grocery retailers need to focus on increasing the emotional connection employees have to the organization to keep them from leaving. Rather than recruit and select candidates just based on their existing knowledge or experience,

grocers should be looking for candidates who are good fits for the culture.” Moreover, this commitment must come straight from the top. “Change starts at the corporate level,” says Nichols. “Executive teams must not only believe that it is important to have a highly engaged workforce and a strong workplace culture, they need to understand that a focus on people, culture and work-life balance is a sound business strategy and the path to future success.”

Change Management

One of the chief ways that a grocer can support employees is by “investing in ongoing development so associates feel confident and equipped with the knowledge to do the right things on the front lines every day,” advises Leaman, who notes that once a grocer has hired those candidates who are a good cultural fit, “they must evolve their training strategy to quickly and efficiently help them learn not just the fundamentals of their role, but understand their larger significance to the organization’s mission, vision and values. This training strategy should … become part of everyday work, so associates can remain agile as the organization continues to evolve their

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business to meet customer needs.” Nichols agrees that, due to the changing nature of the business, “grocers need a nimble workforce that’s willing and able to adapt. For example, if a grocer decides to start developing meal kits, they need the right staff in place — from the leadership team all the way down to the front-line employee that’s charged with assembling the kit. They also need to have a strong change management practice in place to ensure success when implementing these changes.” Once engaged, employees are poised to acquire various valuable skills. “Software solutions that involve microlearning, adaptive learning, enhanced communication and manager coaching capabilities are critical to making sure associates are ready to deliver a new type of grocery experience,” says Leaman. “And, by focusing on the needs of each associate through these strategies, grocers can improve their retention and further


Best Practices

A well-trained, technologyenabled and engaged workforce can be an incredible differentiator to not only recruit and retain a highly effective workforce, but drive customer satisfaction and repeat business in grocery.” —Amanda Nichols, Kronos Inc. strengthen their ability to deliver on their experience goals — for both employees and customers — over the long term.” She offers the following training suggestions to employers: “Evolve the associate experience incrementally so current associates have the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills that will be required to be successful in the business as it changes. Build an associate experience that can efficiently upskill the right people and support their individual needs through continuous learning and mitigate the impact of turnover on the customer experience. Leverage a wide range of data to proactively identify critical performance gaps and embrace an agile, continuous training approach to address … concerns before they become problems. Focus on the roles of store managers, who are the front-line support every day and can make or break an associate experience.” The bottom line, according to Nichols: “Opportunity for change and growth within a shifting market is more accessible to grocers that have already assembled an effective workforce.”

Everyone’s Welcome

Along with the aforementioned strategies for improving the retail workforce, companies must enable underrepresented groups, such as women, to reach their full potential.


A major obstacle to achieving this sort of inclusion, however, is that such traits as empathy, humility, vulnerability, a willingness to collaborate and strong communication skills, which enable “diverse teams [to] perform their best, … aren’t always valued in the workplace,” explains Sarah Alter, CEO of Chicago-based Network of Executive Women (NEW), a leadership organization serving the retail, consumer goods, financial services and technology industries. In response to this reality, NEW created a Blueprint for Gender Equality spotlighting five key areas that must be addressed to achieve gender parity in the workplace. “The first is leadership — it all starts at the top — from the makeup of your board or c-suite to the vocal advocacy of senior leaders and the commitment of resources to ensure the company is one in which everyone can succeed,” notes Alter. “Second is corporate culture, and the elimination of conscious and unconscious bias, and practicing conscious inclusion. Third is accountability — what gets measured gets done. This means measuring the representation of underrepresented groups, goal setting, action planning, transparency and benchmarking. This includes the work it takes to reach pay parity. The fourth area is employee development — this includes inclusive recruiting and making sure everyone can thrive. For women, especially, sponsorship is key, because they are less likely than men to have sponsors who put them in positions to succeed and advance to the next level. The final area of action [that] companies must take is work flexibility — always a struggle for retail jobs — but there is room for job-aligned and family-friendly policies, formal and informal, that help employees through life and career pivot points." What will be the outcome of such radical changes? Pointing to “piles of research,” Alter doesn’t hesitate in her response: “Diverse thinking, experiences and perspectives drive innovation and profits.” Prueitt wholeheartedly agrees, adding, “The best ideas happen when diverse perspectives come to the table.” And that’s really what it’s all about: enabling the grocery business to thrive, now and in the future. “In short, a well-trained, technology-enabled and engaged workforce can be an incredible differentiator to not only recruit and retain a highly effective workforce, but drive customer satisfaction and repeat business in grocery,” observes Nichols. “After all, if workers are engaged, happy, empowered, trained and have the tools to do their job well, that sense of engagement and positivity will be reflected in the way they interact with customers and the experience they provide. It’s a virtuous cycle.”


Protein Outlook

Protein Power RE TAILERS CAN STRENGTHEN STORE WIDE SALES BY INCORPOR ATING MORE PRODUCTS RICH IN THIS NUTRIENT INTO THEIR PROMOTIONS AND EDUCATIONAL EFFORTS. By Jenny McTaggart o longer just for bodybuilders, protein has evolved into a macronutrient seen as necessary for virtually all consumers — from growing youngsters with developing bones, to active young adults who need satiety to make it through a busy day, all the way to elderly people who are less active but still in need of vital nutrition. And just as protein fills a broad variety of consumers’ health needs, it’s also being represented today in a growing number of food and beverage categories throughout the supermarket. Along with the tried-and-true dairy and meat categories, which offer complete proteins, an onslaught of plant-based alternatives are saturating the market, leaving shoppers — and honestly, plenty of retailers — sometimes overwhelmed.

Key Takeaways The surge of interest and sales in protein-containing foods and beverages presents a huge opportunity for retailers to help educate, inspire and save time for time-pressed shoppers in search of solutions. Retailers have begun promoting plant-based products in their stores, aided by prominent manufacturers of such items, including meat alternatives and nondairy milks. Don’t count out animal proteins, however; programs touting the nutrition and uses of meat and dairy can spur sales. PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019



Protein Outlook

The increase in plant-based products is largely being driven by a rise in “flexitarians” — consumers who historically have eaten animal proteins but are looking to reduce their consumption of meat and traditional dairy products. Millennials are leading the charge in this regard. Whether due to health-and-wellness trends or a concern for the environment, this change in eating patterns can’t be ignored, as sales in plant-based foods rose 20 percent to top $3.3 billion in 2018, according to Nielsen.

Beyond Meat, a brand backed by Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio, has joined forces with restaurant operator Carl's Jr. to offer the product at the eatery's locations.

of Americans tried to consume more protein, or as much protein as possible, in 2016, according to the International Food Information Council. That’s up from 54 percent in 2015 and 50 percent in 2014. SPINS data also shows that protein-packed items are selling fast at retail outlets.


Major food companies and even celebrities are also getting firmly behind the plant-based eating trend. Swiss CPG giant Nestlé SA is planning to introduce the Incredible Burger under its Garden Gourmet label this spring, and is reportedly experimenting with walnuts and blueberries to produce a new dairy-free milk beverage. In addition, Laurent Freixe, CEO of Nestlé’s Americas region, was recently quoted as saying that the manufacturer’s plant-based business may reach more than $1 billion in sales within a decade. Meanwhile, Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat, a hot brand backed by Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCaprio, touts a product that “tastes like real animal meat.” In November, the company went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange. But don’t write off the popularity of animal proteins just yet, not by any means. Beef, pork and poultry are expected to enjoy strong consumer demand in 2019, and supply should be readily available, according to the latest projections. In the dairy category, cheese has been a strong performer, and continued product innovation is bringing fresh potential to other segments. Could today's meat department become tomorrow's protein department? This state of flux in protein-related foods and beverages presents a huge opportunity for retailers to educate, inspire and ultimately save time for busy shoppers who know they should eat more protein, but may not be quite sure of the best way to do so. As they plan for 2019, grocers would be wise to consider how protein fits into their overall health-andwellness messaging, and how their promotional efforts could ultimately help grow sales in various categories. As protein is an important meal component, they should also make sure that they’re thinking of a variety of protein-rich foods when planning their cross-merchandising efforts, as well as their meal-kit programs.

Weis Touts ‘Plant Power’

At least one retailer is already making progress in including plant-based, protein-related categories in its health-and-wellness programming. Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets, which operates 205 stores in Pennslyania, Maryland, New York, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware and West Virginia, uses the knowledge and experience of its in-house dietitians to offer education via in-store messaging and overhead radio, its bimonthly Healthy Bites magazine, on-air segments, and social media. Last summer, the retailer launched a chain-wide themed program called Plant Powered, featuring in-store signs identifying a variety of healthy plant-based foods, including soy and almond milks. The initiative was inspired by both general healthand-wellness trends and shopper feedback, Weis’ manager of lifestyle initiatives, Beth Stark, tells Progressive Grocer. “We recognized that there was a heightened interest in learning more about the plant-

based way of eating,” she explains. “That said, we developed messaging to educate our shoppers about the types of foods that shape plant-based meals; how to gradually incorporate more of these foods into a weekly meal plan; and easy, family-friendly recipes to try at home.” The messaging was featured in product shelf tags for eight weeks, and included products under Weis’ own brands, as well as Full Circle products and select national

brands. It included a broad number of catego categories, including soy and almond milks, beans and lentils, and select nuts, as well as less protein-rich items such as fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; fruits packed in 100 percent juice or water; vegetables that can be drained and rinsed; whole-grain rice, pasta, cereal, bread and specialty grains; healthful oils; and tea. In-store dietitians also worked with associ associates to plan in-store events such as workwork

Delving Into Dairy TOP PERFORMERS: Cheese has been a strong seller in the dairy case, especially as products like shredded cheese for cooking and snacking cheeses have met the needs of consumers’ shifting eating occasions, according to Paul Ziemnisky, EVP of global innovation partnerships for Rosemont, Ill.-based Dairy Management Inc. “Expect to see cheese continue to grow as a ‘hero’ in entertaining,” he says. “It is a great party companion with so many new varieties and flavors available to consumers.” Refrigerated and shelf-stable plant-based milks are also gaining significant ground, even if they’re not officially dairy products. While they represent a much smaller dollar volume compared with cow’s milk, both categories show significant growth. Sales of refrigerated plant-based milks were up 10 percent to $1.7 billion in the 52 weeks ending Nov. 4, 2018, according to Jessica Hochman, natural insights and innovation research manager for Chicago-based SPINS. “Many consumers today are looking for ways to eat more plants and fewer animal products, even if their lifestyles aren’t fully vegan or vegetarian,” she observes. “The plant-based milk segment presents an easy entry opportunity, not just from the myriad options developing in the core space as an alternative to dairy milk, but also in the ways plant-based milks are incorporated as ingredients into other segments, such as ready-to-drink coffee and protein beverages.” Hochman notes that almond milks hold the most dollar volume in both refrigerated and shelf-stable categories of plant-based milk, accounting for $1.2 billion combined. ROOM FOR GROWTH: Refrigerated milk has been declining in sales, but several new products offer promise for a better performance in 2019. A report from SPINS notes that organic milk labeled as being from grass-fed cows has experienced notable growth.

Meanwhile, a new product, A2 Milk, which is made only from cows that naturally produce the A2 protein but not the A1 protein, should appeal to consumers who may have experienced discomfort when drinking the A1 protein in other milk products. The milk comes from cows that have not been treated with growth hormones, rBST or antibiotics. Another new specialty milk is Fairlife, an ultra-filtered milk that boasts 50 percent more protein, 30 percent more calcium and half the amount of sugars found in typical milks. In addition, it’s lactose-free. SPINS reported 13.3 percent year-over-year sales growth of milk labeled lactose-free. Julia Kadison, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), encourages conventional supermarket operators to make sure that dairy milk is being fully stocked in their stores, as 48 percent of shoppers report experiencing at least one dairy milk outof-stock experience, which results in lost profit and decreased customer experience. She adds that MilkPEP has developed a robust calendar of shopper marketing programs that retailers can leverage for their stores. ON THE HORIZON: Ziemnisky predicts that the yogurt category will bounce back this year, particularly as major brands recognize consumers’ concerns about sugar and reformulate their products accordingly. “We will see a lot of low-sugar, high-protein, high-cream launches in 2019,” he says. Among plant-based milks, up-and-comers include almond and cashew blends, pea, flax, and oat, according to Hochman. And, a little farther off into the future, look for dairy milk made without cows. Perfect Day, a startup in San Francisco, has entered into a partnership with Chicago-based food processor Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) to expand production of its cow-free dairy. The company uses a fermentation process that’s said to create the same dairy proteins contained in a glass of milk. PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019



Protein Outlook

Heart, Forager, Good Karma Foods, Lightlife Foods, Milkadamia, MorningStar Farms, NadaMoo!, Pure Blends, Quorn, Ripple Foods, Sweet Earth and Tofurky. Specifically focusing on plant-based milks, yogurts and cheeses, along with plant-based meat alternatives, the promotion featured various display elements throughout the store, including advertising stands, register screen ads and educational booklets with coupons. Select stores hosted in-store tastings. Meanwhile, Lucky Supermarkets and PBFA also promoted the campaign on social media and radio.

We recognized that there was a heightened interest in learning more about the plant-based way of eating.” —Beth Stark, Weis Markets shops, samplings and store tours around the theme. “Feedback was very positive,” confirms Stark. “We felt that, based on the customer response and sales metrics, the program was impactful.” Another retailer that has taken action to help its shoppers navigate the newest options in plant-based protein categories is Lucky Supermarkets, a subsidiary of The Save Mart Cos., based in Modesto, Calif. Last fall, the retailer joined forces with the San Francisco-based Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) to introduce a marketing campaign providing information to consumers about plant-based foods available in the grocer’s 70 Northern California stores. The eight-week campaign, Fall in Love with Plant Based, included the participation of 16 PBFA member brands: Almond Breeze, Beyond Meat, Califia Farms, Daiya Foods, Follow Your

Case-by-Case Consideration

While storewide special promotions are a great way to highlight protein-related products, retailers have plenty of other opportunities to provide education and time-saving tips in specific departments, including meat and dairy. Meat knowledge, including information about types of cuts and preparation methods, plays an important role in influencing consumer purchasing habits, observes Michael Schumpp, director of public affairs and member communications for the North American Meat Institute,



March 3-5, 2019 I Hilton Anatole I Dallas, TX The Annual Meat Conference opens the door for meat professionals to access fresh ideas and perspectives. Come and satisfy your appetite for learning and professional growth.


based in Washington, D.C. “Research suggests consumers are particularly interested in transparency, convenience and nutrition when purchasing meat and poultry products. Providing information to consumers about animal handling and environmental practices, as well as meat’s nutrition assets, offers opportunities to address potential barriers to meat consumption, and ultimately yield higher meat sales,” he says. The Certified Angus Beef brand, based in Wooster, Ohio, continues to work closely with its retail partners to develop seasonal promotions, from roasting in the winter to summer grilling, notes Tara Adams, director of account strategy and key accounts. “Many retailers also look to us for promotions that offer beef cooking tips, like our Roast Perfect app,” she explains. “This app is a step-by-step guide to selecting the ideal roast and preparing it to the perfect endpoint for celebrations and hearty family meals.”

The Certified Angus Beef brand continues to introduce videos, recipes and cooking tips to support chefs and grocers' meat departments.









Protein Outlook Meat Remains Strong, But Keep an Eye on Alternatives GREAT EXPECTATIONS: Americans ate a record amount of meat and poultry in 2018, as demand remained strong, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Looking at 2019, the positive trend should continue. The latest Beef Demand Index finds that consumer demand for beef at retail has improved nearly 15 percent since 2012, and consumers are expected to eat 8.9 percent more beef in 2019 than in 2015, according to data from Chicago-based IRI/Freshlook. “We’re expecting 2019 to be a promising year for our retail partners,” asserts David O’Diam, director of retail for the Certified Angus Beef brand, based in Wooster, Ohio. “Demand for great-tasting beef is strong, so many of our partners are looking to Certified Angus Beef Prime as a way to differentiate from competitors and wow customers with a phenomenal eating experience.” He says that the brand is also encouraging retailers to offer ground Certified Angus Beef as a high-quality option. In addition to burgers and classic forms, many retailers are also looking to thin meats like sirloin flap and flank steak, according to O’Diam. CHANNEL CHALLENGES: Looking at overall meat purchases, supermarkets remain the lead channel, and will likely continue to be the primary spot, for meat purchases in 2019, based on findings from the annual “Power of Meat” report from the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). However, meat purchases at conventional supermarkets are declining slightly, as value and specialty supermarkets become more popular destinations to buy meat, according to Michael Schumpp, director of public affairs and member communications for Washington, D.C.-based NAMI. There has also been an increased consumer willing-ness to buy meat online, but consumers still prefer to purchase it at retail — a trend likely to continue in 2019, Schumpp says. TRENDS TO WATCH: While meat is poised to perform well, plant-based meat alternatives will also continue to win over consumers. In the 52 weeks ending Nov. 4, 2018, sales of plant-based meat alternatives grew 20.2 percent in both frozen and refrigerated sections across channels, up to $798.6 million, according to SPINS data. Plantbased burger subcategories ranked high on the list of fastest-growing subsets and showed impressive growth at a rate of 21.5 percent, to $256.9 million. A plant-based protein source that may develop in the marketplace over time is algae, says Jessica Hochman, natural insights and innovation research manager for Chicago-based SPINS. “Algae holds promise for both protein and essential fatty acids from a nutrition standpoint and can be produced through resource-efficient, sustainable cultivation methods,” she adds. Another trend to keep an eye on is cultured cell-based proteins, notes Hochman. “While it’s still in very early stages — and currently too cost-prohibitive for an imminent impact on the market — cultured cell-based proteins have been a focus of a lot of investment activity and technological development recently.”


She adds that Certified Angus Beef is providing more videos, recipes and cooking tips to support chefs and meat departments, with social media a particularly important component for tying campaigns together and to highlight weekly features, magazine articles, cooking tips and classes. Similarly, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, offers the Chuck Knows Beef virtual assistant, powered by Google Artificial Intelligence, on the BeefItsWhatsforDinner. com website. “Beef shoppers may only be comfortable with a few cuts and can lack confidence preparing the beef they buy — and not all retailers have staff trained and ready to answer questions,” notes Bridget Wasser, executive director, science and supply chain outreach at the Centennial, Colo.-based association. “This all-knowing assistant can share beef product, cut selection, preparation/cooking and other tips for customers. They can interact with Chuck Knows Beef on their mobile device, desktop or smart speaker. Making beef shoppers more confident in their beef purchase will equal a win for the retailer.” Likewise, in the dairy case, retailers would do well to organize selling programs with consumers in mind, advises Paul Ziemnisky, EVP of global innovation partnerships for Rosemont, Ill.based Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff for nearly 40,000 U.S. dairy farmers. “I’ve seen some digital programming that effectively highlights the great uses of dairy in dips, appetizers and drinks for the holidays and makes it easy for the consumer to buy the bundle,” says Ziemnisky. “Imagine bringing these digital program elements to life in circulars and in store. For example, meal kits meet consumers’ desire for helping them identify the right recipe. If I was a retailer, I would have circulars and store experiences that bring the appetizer and meal ingredients to life and make them easier to find and purchase together in store. It doesn’t necessarily have to be bundled in an expensive kit, but it could be included in a powerful and experiential display to help seal the sales.”

ser vice O d o o F ut l l i oo a t k Re

Ask a Chef Raley's Evelyn Miliate explains how prepared foods can be healthy


Best Practices


he grocerant, a.k.a. retail foodservice, is becoming increasingly important in a grocery store’s blueprint for success. A customer’s experience in the department is what will determine success, says Lewis Shaye, president of East Greenbush, N.Y.based Grocerant Design Group. The experience is made up of several factors, some noticeable to consumers, others not so much. One of the biggest keys to success for grocerants is getting management to understand that the department has to operate differently from traditional grocery store departments. “It’s critical that the foodservice requirements are really reviewed through a new lens,” Shaye notes. Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods for the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute, agrees. “The retailer needs to start thinking of your foodservice as its own company,” Stein says. “Eliminate this idea that it’s one of your other departments in the store; treat it as if it is its own company with its own P&L.” Retailers must realize that they’re effectively running a restaurant, which is a different type of business from running a grocery store, with different requirements for labor that affect profit and loss.


A mega-trend that all grocerants need to address before any other is convenience. “This idea of consumers’ never-ending desire to have a convenient life is driving food prepared away from home,” Stein observes. “If you’re looking for food prepared away from home, there is no shortage of folks trying to get their dollar, whether they’re doing it via the phone apps, the ability to deliver it, the ability to ship you a kit, anything they can do to meet consumers’ convenience trends.” Grocerants need to be able to compete at that convenience level, something fast-casual restaurants have become very good at doing. For retailers, this means taking away pain points traditionally associated with grocery stores. Retailers need to have a platform that allows for online ordering, or even a kiosk in the store where


We’re not going to just give you the meal, we’re going to give you some ideas of what you can do beyond that.” —Rick Stein, Food Marketing Institute

customers can order without having to stand in line. Again, it comes back to being convenient, Stein notes. “A progressive grocerant is going to be aware of mobile,” Shaye adds. “How am I using mobile to get the pizza order in so it goes right into the queue and the order gets placed? Progressive grocerants are going to be thinking about all the ways to integrate technology, and then ways to integrate it into the design of the department itself so the guest can have a choice if they want to interact with you and get the whole story, or they come in, get it and go. I think that’s going to be really critical.” Retailers also can’t ignore the delivery aspect, because more fast-casual restaurants are getting into the delivery game through third-party platforms like UberEats or GrubHub. While technology will certainly play a large role in the success of grocerants, however, retailers also can’t lose focus on the fact that “a lot of people still use the grocery store as their social community,” says David Sonzogni, VP prepared foods and deli innovation for Boise, Idaho-based Alberstons Cos. The best retailers have staffers that embrace food and “love it, live it, breathe it and want to share that knowledge with the guest,” he adds. “The guests embrace that, and it becomes a community environment.”

Product Choices


Personalization/customization is another part of providing a convenient solution, and grocerants and prepared food departments are uniquely positioned to meet this growing demand. Meeting consumers where they are is critical, and part of that could be offering meal kits, which offer consumers the opportunity to do some of the prep work themselves. “One avenue retailers potentially could take that could give them the advantage over the more traditional meal-kit companies is the ability to let consumers build their own meal kits and giving them options,” suggests Eric Richards, education coordinator for the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA). “That’s another way to connect with people who are looking to cook at home, but they might not have an idea of what they’re looking to cook that night. So you get all these impromptu purchases.” Supermarkets are also uniquely positioned to address the needs of hybrid customers, those who buy a portion of the meal already prepared, and then augment it with items that they prepare themselves at home. For example, few of the customers who buy rotisserie chicken eat just the chicken; instead, as Stein points out, they use it as part of a larger meal when they get home. “What retailers are now thinking about in the grocerant is not only great in terms of being able to meet that convenient foodservice need, but they’re starting to use this interaction between the center of the store and the foodservice area to give customers some ideas,” he notes. “We’re not going to just give you the meal, we’re going to give you some ideas of what you can do beyond that.”

When it comes to product selection, much depends on the market that the store serves; however, savvy retailers are learning that regularly changing what’s on offer can maintain consumer interest. This really hits at the multicultural aspect of Millennial and Gen Z shoppers. FMI’s Stein advises that retailers look at easily interchangeable stations so they can offer “an Asian kitchen for a while, and then during the summer, it becomes a taco stand, and maybe during the fall, it becomes a hot dog stand. So, without having to bring in new equipment and new staff, you can promote different cuisine.” But no matter what products are offered, unsurprisingly, fresh is the name of the game. “Fresh is imperative,” affirms Voni Woods, VP of prepared foods, Starbucks and sushi for Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle Inc. Without projecting an image of quality and fresh products, any retail foodservice program is destined to fail before it even gets off the ground. Along with fresh comes local, as many consumers interpret local ingredients to be fresher. “[When] it’s local produce being used in a grocerant concept, people feel good about eating local,” IDDBA’s Richards says. “It conveys a sense of freshness, and it also conveys a sense of supporting the local economy.” Further, clean label will continue to be factor in what consumers choose to eat. “Food quality will always remain up there,

Key Takeaways Grocerant operators must realize that they’re effectively running a restaurant, as distinct from a grocery store, with different requirements for labor that affect the P&L. Convenience, involving personalization and customization; freshness, encompassing local products; health and wellness, including a focus on clean label; versatility in food choices; and transparency, with a focus on maintaining food safety via blockchain technology, are all integral to a winning grocerant concept. Retailers must also market their offerings effectively by telling a unique story. PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019



Best Practices

and I always say ‘clean and green’ is the way a lot of people have been looking at eating,” Albertsons’ Sonzogni notes. “Customers want to know a product’s contents in detail. All those healthy grab-and-go options have opened up a whole new world, because consumers are a lot more educated. They always want to make sure it’s local, fresh, fast and, most importantly, flavorful.”

Rise of Blockchain

Transparency will also become increasingly important as more consumers want to know more about their food. And it’s not only transparency in ingredient statements, notes Giant Eagle’s Woods, but also “transparency of where the food comes from and what the suppliers’ practices are, or the story behind the item: local, entrepreneurial, minority-owned, cause-driven. The personal experience of food is more and more about who I am and what I want, versus what you — the retailer — are selling.” Transparency is key when it comes to food safety and has given rise to the increase of blockchain. Walmart recently revealed that it was going to require suppliers of its leafy greens to use blockchain by September 2019, and in light of the recent romaine lettuce advisory, more retailers are likely to follow suit. It won’t be just leafy greens, though — look for blockchain to begin to permeate all aspects of the food chain.

Knowing the whole story of how your food got to your table is becoming increasingly important, beyond the food safety component of blockchain. It’s giving consumers the ability to really track where their food comes from.” —Eric Richards, International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association

Another reason for the technology's increasing popularity is that it plays into so many key consumer trends. “Transparency and clean labeling, sustainability, these are all very important components of food in consumers’ eyes,” Richards notes. “And knowing the whole story of how your food got to your table is becoming increasingly important, beyond the food safety component of blockchain. It’s giving consumers the ability to really track where their food comes from.” While health and wellness has been top of mind for both retailers and consumers for a while now, Stein indicates that it can’t be ignored in 2019. “We often see healthy as an either/or,” he observes. “What consumers want to do is think of it as a scale, and they always want to make a choice that’s healthier than another choice. So create healthier options.” This can be as simple as making the switch from fried to baked chicken. Plus, with the menu-labeling regulations now in effect, consumers will easily see the calorie count difference to help them make that healthier choice. “[Retailers] can serve tofu, they can serve low-calorie-type products, but remember people want flavor, they want variety, they want international cuisine, and you can accomplish


a lot of that and still have healthier options,” Stein says. “We’ve finally gotten to the stage where Americans realize that there has to be some element of health and wellness in how we eat, otherwise we shorten our lifespans,” notes Steven Petusevsky, a Plantation, Fla.based chef and founder of Steven Petusevsky Culinary Innovation for the Food Service Industry, an outside resource to the retail grocery industry. “We’re going to functional cuisines. Most of my work now revolves around plant-forward platforms.”


No matter how fresh, healthful or convenient products are, it won’t matter if consumers aren’t thinking about grocery stores in the first place when it comes to making meal decisions. “Supermarkets don’t do a great job of getting on consumers’ radar,” Stein admits. “There’s a small group that has discovered the grocerant, and they give it high marks.” But retailers need to start acting like their competition — restaurants — when it comes to marketing, he adds. Stop thinking about the traditional store advertisements and flyers, and hit consumers where they’re actually looking — all kinds of media, including social, billboards, and TV or radio. “Keep doing a great job of offering a selection, keep doing a great job keeping your prices affordable, but you’ve got to do a better job of instead of advertising to compete against another supermarket, compete for the meal,” Stein advises. “You’re competing against restaurants and all the other solutions.” Grocerant Design Group’s Shaye agrees that marketing appropriately is key. “Be a smart marketer. I find this is something left out a lot,” he notes. “We have to be constant storytellers. We want our guests to share why this is good. When you tell the story, it’s not just good food to eat, it has to operate on all these different cylinders. … Take everyday food and figure out what am I going to get you, the customer, to talk about. And start talking about those things … is it colorful, is it unique, is it the biggest, is it the smallest, is it the smelliest? Come up with something.” A product’s story can come from a variety of places if it doesn’t seem to have something that makes it stand out on its own. Shaye suggests looking to the ingredients and finding a story there, whether it’s an ingredient provided by a local manufacturer or one that has its own unique story to tell. You can co-opt that manufacturer's story to talk about the product. “You don’t have the story, they have the story, [so] how do we weave them together so we get credit?” he asks. Retail foodservice in 2019 “is not only going to be about the quality and diversity of the kind of foods that are offered,” according to Petusevsky, “but it’s going to be more about how we are going to get the food to our customer and how we are going to service them properly.”



Raley's Ready To Go meals prioritize smaller portions, organic ingredients and convenience, based on customer demands.


or many people, every New Year begins with the best intentions to eat better. Grocery store chefs want consumers to know that shopping smarter goes a long way on the road to eating better. At Raley’s, based in West Sacramento, Calif., Chef Evelyn Miliate, manager of culinary innovation, seeks to match a variety of nutritious prepared and ready-to-cook meal components with busy lifestyles. The chain’s Ready To Go line of entrée salads, mini salads, full meals and pre-cut vegetable side dishes make better-for-you eating easy, tasty and varied enough to put dinner on the table every night of a busy workweek. Raley’s Ready To Go salads have high-quality elements like pinot shallot vinaigrette, quinoa and farro. Lean proteins and vegetable dishes derive high-impact flavor from extras such as lemon-thyme butter sauce and basil-garlic oil, coconut yellow vegetable curry sauce, and berbere spice.

Progressive Grocer : What are some health/nutrition priorities among your shoppers, and how are you addressing them?

Evelyn Miliate: Beyond dietary restrictions like gluten-free and nut-free, Raley’s customers are more often choosing to adhere to Paleo, keto, vegetarian and vegan diets. They are also wanting more organic options, seeking smaller portions and prioritizing convenience. To address these dietary needs, we have created healthier, better-for-you prepared food options with cleaner ingredient decks. We are also moving our product offerings into organic where possible and have created PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019




meal. We have also incorporated quinoa, another whole grain, into several Ready To Go meals, like our sweet potato and quinoa mole enchilada and our Mediterranean chicken with white beans and quinoa. Our pesto chicken and vegetable meal also includes a base mixture of lentils, brown rice and quinoa.

PG: What about ways of presenting vegetable side dishes — anything new there?

single-serve Ready To Go meal options. In regards to convenience, we refreshed our Ready To Go meals in late 2017 and recently launched our chef-created meal kits. Both of these options bring quick, high-quality meals to customers.

PG: What are some easy center-plate upgrades people can choose from your offerings that can help support better health and nutrition? EM: Raley’s Ready To Go meals and chef-created meal kits rely on high-quality and clean ingredients, so nearly all of them were designed for customers focused on health and nutrition. Two Ready To Go options that jump out at me are our lemon salmon with broccoli served on a bed of lentil and orzo, as well as our lemon caper chicken breast with spinach, farro and quinoa. We’ve also added composed-vegetable and whole grain salads to our in-store salad bars.

PG: Fiber and whole grains are getting a lot of attention for their health benefits. Are you offering any grain side dishes or salads? EM: In our Build-Your-Own meal kits, we have included whole grains in the form of brown rice and a red and white quinoa blend. These whole grains can be combined with a protein, fresh vegetable and sauce to create a quick, healthy and customized

Raley’s Ready To Go meals and chef-created meal kits rely on high-quality and clean ingredients, so nearly all of them were designed for customers focused on health and nutrition.” —Evelyn Miliate, manager of culinary innovation, Raley’s


Pulses and whole grains bring nutritional heft to salad bar offerings at Raley's.

EM: One of the four options with our new meal kits is to pair steamable vegetables with a rotisserie chicken for a healthy, delicious and lightning-fast meal. These fresh vegetable side dish blends are complete with all of the seasonings and any additions like herbed garlic oil or a variety of cheeses. They are seasonally inspired and will rotate quarterly, but currently include broccoli parmesan, green beans with parmesan, Mexican-style vegetables and Italian-style vegetables.

PG: Tell us about some ways you offer healthful versions of comfort food classics. EM: From macaroni and cheese to enchiladas to chile verde, Raley’s offers better-for-you options for several comfort food classics. We make our macaroni and cheese with roasted cauliflower, our enchiladas with sweet potatoes and serve our pork chile verde over a bed of brown rice.

PG: Describe a favorite better-foryou meal you could put together with components from your prepared food program, and tell us what makes it great. EM: Raley’s Build-Your-Own meal kits allow shoppers to follow a recipe or get creative with mix-and-match components. One of my favorite combinations is fresh salmon, sweet potatoes, and the Brussels sprouts and onion blend with a lemon-thyme sauce. This meal, which can be on the table in less than 30 minutes, features a high-quality ready-made sauce; pre-cut vegetables; and fresh salmon from Raley's seafood department.


Flavor Trends

Culinary Adventures EMERGING GLOBAL INGREDIENTS CAN TR ANSFORM NOT ONLY THE GROCER ANT AND PREPARED FOOD ARE A, BUT ALSO THE CENTER STORE. By Lynn Petrak aking a trip to the nearby grocery store or clicking an online order isn’t normally the stuff of glamorous world travel. For some grocers, however, that’s all the more reason to present dishes with exotic, globally inspired, new and different flavors. Offering prepared foods or grocerant menu items that feature unusual ingredients helps generate interest, sets a supermarket apart from competitors in both the retail and foodservice arenas, and signals that a store is on-trend and knowledgeable about emerging tastes.

Key Takeaways Prepared foods or grocerant menu items that showcase emerging ingredients help generate interest, set a supermarket apart from competitors and signal that a store is on-trend. Ingredients that are gaining attention and can be crossed over into foodservice offerings in grocery settings include items from Asia, Latin America and Africa. As global flavors spur excitement in grocerants and prepared food areas, grocers can also offer them in other parts of the store, such as the center store specialty food aisle.

These types of menu additions don’t necessarily require a lot of extra execution, but they can make a difference in customer appeal and, hopefully, sales. “It should be featured in and alongside mainstream dishes to add excitement and something extra to




Flavor Trends

Once a flavor is introduced through familiar dishes, more operators and chefs begin to use it and it takes off.” —Joe Garber, Datassential consumer experience,” suggests Joe Garber, marketing coordinator for Chicago-based Dataessential, referring to such a program. “It should add an element of fresh flavor to complement dishes and educate consumers about cuisines from around the world in a comfortable way.” According to Garber, that sense of excitement can help set grocers apart, especially those who hang their proverbial hats on their hot food bars, grocerants, prepared food sections and other such departments. “These trends are fresh trends precisely because they are not familiar [to] all demographics,” he points out. “For example, before sriracha went viral on restaurant menus, it was only well known to those very familiar with Southeast Asian cuisine. Once a flavor is introduced through familiar dishes, more operators and chefs begin to use it and it takes off.” Consuming foods with intriguing, seemingly exotic ingredients makes shoppers feel like they’re in on something cool, including young flavor-seeking shoppers like Gen Z and Millennials, as well as more mature shoppers. “Introducing global flavors is an opportunity to get older generations like Boomers, who continue to shop more at traditional supermarkets, enthusiastic about shopping and new cuisine,” Garber says. “It’s also positive for younger generations, too.” As evidence, he cites Dataessential’s “Generations of Change” keynote report showing that Gen Z consumers are more likely to have their meals away from home and


at a counter. “They are looking for not just a good meal, but an experience — which can be achieved by showcasing new flavors,” Garber observes. “They are less likely to notice food trends, but would be excited to try new, flavorful food.” Moreover, world flavors may migrate together in one melting-pot kind of dish. In its recent report on 2019 food trends, Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods highlighted the fusion of global flavors that can be used in a range of consumer-friendly products: “Take the satisfying chewiness of a spicy tuna roll, add the pleasing heft of a burrito, then throw in some of the zingy flavors from Vietnam or, say, South America, and you’ve got one of the biggest trends of 2019 — global cuisines and out-of-the-box flavors, the kind usually only found in restaurants, making the shift to the home.”

Emigrating Flavors

There are many examples of global flavors that have become familiar to consumers — so much so that they’re part of menus around the country. That’s true of items like açai and avocado toast, which were virtually unheard of outside niche or specialty stores 10 or 15 years ago. Although there’s a veritable world of ingredients and flavors that have potential in the United States, some new ones are starting to emerge on the dining scene and can be effectively crossed over into foodservice offerings in grocery settings. For instance, a range of Asian and Latin dishes have become mainstream in America over the years, but there are plenty more where sriracha and guava came from. In its recently released projection of 2019 food trends, Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market included Pacific Rim flavor inspirations — spanning regions including Asia, Oceania and the west coasts of South and North America — as something to watch, featuring ingredients like shrimp paste, dragon fruit and jackfruit. In a recent brief on Asian flavors on tap for 2019, Dataessential’s resident “trendologist,” Mike Kostyo, called out Asian whiskeys, cheese tea — yes, iced tea with a salty-sweet cheese foam topping — and katsu sandos, comprising beef or pork on a type of Asian milk bread. Latin flavors also remain hot, figuratively and sometimes literally. Kostyo cited Mexican flavors worth noting in the coming months and years, including the papalo herb and spicy-sour-salty tajin seasoning. Culinary professionals who work for CPG companies are also keeping an eye on international flavors. New York-based Kind Healthy Snacks, for its part, included African ingredients in its trend forecast for 2019, including harissa, berbere, dukkah, ras el hanout and tiger nuts. Middle Eastern ingredients, including from some of the civilization’s earliest-known regions, are proving to be both time-tested and new to some audiences.

In his report, Kostyo pointed to such fare as Arabic ice cream (also known as booza) and a sweet-tart dried berry called a barberry that's common in Persian cuisine and goes well with American-style dishes like salads and yogurt. Beyond single ingredients or foods, there’s a global influence on dayparts as 2019 dawns. More than 69 percent of chefs polled in the National Restaurant Association’s annual What’s Hot survey said that globally inspired breakfast is a top trend for the year ahead. Within snacks and sweet treats, meanwhile, international ingredients are showing up in ice creams and other cool treats, with items like Thai rolled ice cream, avocado ice cream and the now-standard mochi, according to the Whole Foods trend forecast.

Take the satisfying chewiness of a spicy tuna roll, add the pleasing heft of a burrito, then throw in some of the zingy flavors from Vietnam or, say, South America, and you’ve got one of the biggest trends of 2019 — global cuisines and out-of-thebox flavors, the kind usually only found in restaurants, making the shift to the home.” —Tyson Foods report on food trends

Cross-Departmental Journeys

While buzzworthy global flavors can spur excitement in grocerants and prepared food areas, grocers can carry through the trend in other parts of the store. “The grocerant should … be a place where your store will promote some of these specialty flavors being sold in the main part of the store,” Garber advises. “People generally like to cook at home what they find interesting and delicious at restaurants. An ideal way to do this is for grocerants to feature these new flavor trends in familiar food through ‘safe experimentation.’ We call it ‘Ubiquity with a Dose of Inception,’ like adding an unfamiliar ingredient like barberries to salads. This is also an opportunity for your store to call out the ingredient and that it’s available for purchase on the floor or specialty section.” Grocers are plugging into different world flavors in effective ways. Chains like Hy-Vee, Mariano’s and Rouses, for instance, have added authentic foods and ingredients from Italy, as part of a collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency (ITA). As demand for sushi stations has grown, poké bowls are almost as common as rotisserie chickens in stores such as Kroger and Kings Food Market. Whatever far-flung locales the next flavor trends will hail from, supermarkets must be ready to provide curious shoppers with passports to unfamiliar world cuisines. PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019





t’s time again for spring’s fresh-ripened produce. Many spring vegetables have wintered in the ground, gathering flavor and vitamins. Broccoli and corn are among the vegetables in season in spring. Millennials and those trying to eat healthy, however, are looking for additional vegetables — “new” items, as it were — to add to their diets. Millennials, according to the “Fresh Produce: U.S. Retail Market Trends” report from Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts, are adventurous eaters. “They [Millennials] are the trendsetters and drivers of growth for niche products within the market for fresh fruits and vegetables,” the report notes. In fact, this demographic is credited as a major influence on the avocado trend, the report continues: “Millennials tend to agree that they like foreign foods, trying new products, and trying new diets and foods.” Additionally, although they lead busy lives, this group is likely to prepare meals at home two to three times a day, according to the report: “Their desires for fresh and healthy foods make them prefer home-cooked meals in many cases.” Therefore, introducing Millennials, as well as all customers, to the more unusual vegetables of spring can grow sales. Following is a group of vegetables that ripen and are most flavorful in the spring, courtesy of Fruits and Veggies — More Matters, part of the Brentwood, Mo.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation.

‘New’ Vegetables to Try

Many customers know artichokes by sight, but there are still many who’ve never purchased or prepared the vegetable because they don’t know how to cut or prepare it. Providing this information can be a selling tool. The main harvest of artichokes happens in spring when the largest thistles are available, with a second crop in the fall. Currently, consumers may be purchasing artichokes only for holidays. “It’s been some time since artichokes have been promotable, at least at an attractive price,” says Terry Esteve, produce director for Robért Fresh Market, based in New Orleans. “When they are promotable, then we will carry the 18- to 24-count size and build displays with 20-30 cases at a time — hand-stacked and pyramided. We’ve never cut them for the display.” Artichokes aren’t generally a vegetable for sampling. However, the item is a New Orleans tradition for Easter, Esteve notes, usually stuffed with a breadcrumb-based, garlicky Parmesan stuffing. The prickly vegetable is also popular when tossed in a crawfish pot. Catering to local tastes, Esteve doesn’t dare carry globe artichokes — it has to be the elongated Violetto variety that has the thorns sticking out. “You can’t stuff a globe, and if that’s all you have, you might get backlash from customers,” he explains. In the Northeast, meanwhile, artichokes are always kept chilled, because


sales are slower. “We merchandise our artichokes in the refrigerator,” says Josh J. Padilla, produce and floral coordinator at Scranton, Pa.-based Gerrity’s Supermarkets, part of Shur Save Supermarkets. Padilla merchandises artichokes at the recommended display temperature of 34 degrees Fahrenheit. “We also build a secondary display by the tomatoes, by placing them in a bowl or tray with a little ice to maintain freshness,” he notes. Jay Schneider, produce director for Malvern, Pa.-based Acme Markets, in the greater Philadelphia area, says that artichokes are highly seasonal in his area and sell mostly around Thanksgiving and Christmas. “We do breakout displays with eggplant and mushrooms,” he adds. Cardone, a cousin of the artichoke with edible stalks like celery, but not eaten raw, is considered a delicacy among vegetables. Some produce departments feature stalks of cardone, while others may not have heard of the vegetable, which is popular in French and Italian cooking. “We carry cardone in the weeks before St. Joseph’s Day,” Esteve observes. “It’s used in some Italian dishes and pronounced ‘Cardon-E’ by older customers.” Padilla, however, says that he sells cardone only during Italian holidays.

Key Takeaways Add vegetables that may be different from the norm in early spring, when customers are ready for something “new.” Don’t tuck unusual items like fiddlehead ferns where customers can’t see them; display them in the open where interest can be stirred up. Put up signage with short cooking suggestions like “stir-fry, add to soup or smoothies,” etc., and suggest which vegetables complement each other to customers who want something different and/or healthy. Don’t assume something new or unusual won’t sell; the right display and promotional strategy can attract adventurous eaters like Millennials.





Communicating the Difference Between Spring Onions, Green Onions and Scallions Produce managers know the difference between spring onions, green onions and scallions, but many customers, especially younger ones, may not, so informative in-store signage, or a blog post on a grocer’s website, can help clear up any confusion experienced by novice chefs. These three vegetables are used in Asian, European and American dishes. The three look alike. Both the bulb and leaves may be eaten.

Scallions are younger than spring or green onions, and can be told apart by their bulbs. Scallions have spent less time in the ground, and the bulb has not grown as much. According to San Francisco- and New York-based Healthline, the bulb of a scallion will generally be the same width as the stalk and leaves. So scallions are young green onions.

Green onions look similar to scallions, but have small onion bulbs at the base. These onions are basically more mature versions of scallions. The bulb is usually wider than the leaves and oval in shape, not round. They haven’t matured, and the flavor is not as strong.

Spring onions are planted at the end of summer and grow over winter. They are more mature than both green onions and scallions, and identified by a round bulb. They have a slightly stronger flavor than the other two types, but are still considered young onions. All three of these onion varieties are low in calories, high in fiber, and boast micronutrients such as folate and vitamins K and C. All can be used as a garnish or in salads. They can also be cooked in soups or stews. All three types of onions can be used interchangeably and identified by the shape of the bulb. Source: Healthline


The stalks are usually long and heavy. Recommend that customers cut cardone in half for storage. If you haven’t carried this item before, be sure that you include prominent signage with instructions, and maybe a recipe or two. Let your customers know that cardone may look like celery, but it isn’t crisp and isn't meant to be. The best stalks are a gray-green color. Some customers who are familiar only with the canned version of asparagus think that the thickness of its stalks indicates tenderness. This isn’t so with fresh asparagus, whose tenderness depends on how the plant is grown and how soon it’s eaten after harvest. The stalks are harvested March through June, depending upon the area. “Asparagus is another Easter favorite, both in traditional cooking as well as grilled,” Esteve points out. According to Padilla, asparagus is a core item for his stores in the spring. “April is our prime month and high season for asparagus, especially during Easter, when it is commonly advertised,” he notes. “During this season, you can complement green asparagus with white or purple asparagus. We make vibrant displays in the front when it is at an aggressive price, and we cross-merchandise in the tomato section in pans with icy water and in ice bins alongside the wet rack.” Asparagus is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, leading nearly all fruits and vegetables, making it an item worthy of promotion. The Chinese vegetable bok choy is healthy and versatile, a vegetable that customers will want to experience. Bok choy has sweet leafy greens and a white, juicy mineral-rich stem, both edible. The vegetable keeps its green color when cooked. Salads, stir-fries and soup are perfect dishes to include bok choy, a member of the Chinese cabbage family and high in vitamins A and C. Bok choy is one of the vegetables that Padilla merchandises in the Northeast’s growing season for spring greens: April, May and some of June. Many call it Swiss chard, but whatever you call it, chard grows almost year-round, although it’s at its best when harvested in spring. It will turn bitter when the weather gets too hot, however, like all cooking greens. Chard has glossy, deep-green leaves around its stalks, which are always the same color. It’s the color of the ribs and veins that varies, according to “Melissa’s 50 Best Plants on the Planet” by Cathy Thomas. Green chard has a white stalk and veins, Swiss chard has crimson, and rainbow chard has ribs and veins in various colors: orange, pink, purple or gold. Chard is full of iron and minerals. “We’ve carried both, but the red [Swiss] is the better seller,” Esteve notes. “The juicing customer that buys kale and beets buys chard, too.” Dandelion greens, a favorite of Mediterranean chefs, are available in the United States from early spring through summer. Millennials like dandelion greens, according to Esteve, who adds that he only carries the greens at one store when he can get them locally. “Dandelion greens appeal to a younger hipster-type crowd that experiments

a lot with cooking,” he says. “They will only buy locally grown, and we have tried them in other stores, but they just do not sell.” Padilla carries the greens only when they’re in season locally to expand variety. The greens are often used to add a note of bitterness in salads when the dressing is sweet, according to Thomas’ book. Fresh anise, or fennel, is usually seen during cooler months. The plant is native to the Mediterranean region, but in the United States is mostly grown in California. The type sold by most growers is Florence fennel, which has a bulb-like base, stalks and feathery leaves. The entire plant is edible. Fennel is part of the carrot family and highly nutritious, offering vitamin C, iron and fiber. Fiddleheads are a slightly different “vegetable,” since they’re actually young wild ferns. Available in early spring through early summer, the unique item should interest Millennials, who are always on the lookout for something different. While Esteve says that he’s never carried fiddleheads at Robért Fresh Market, Gerrity’s Padilla notes that his stores carry fiddleheads in season, adding that he personally likes to sauté them at home with butter and garlic. Leeks have yet to earn the popularity in the United States that they enjoy around the world. The vegetable

is related to onions and garlic, but stands on its own in the produce department. Leeks can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, but the green tops aren’t eaten. Leeks are typically chopped into slices. A good source of vitamins A and C, the root vegetable is popular in soups, stews and other dishes. Ramps grow in cool forests from the Appalachians to as far north as Ontario. They often represent the first chance each year for chefs to cook local vegetables and are considered a species of wild onion. The tender leaves and bulbs are edible. The hardy vegetable is celebrated with festivals in several areas across the United States, such as Tennessee. Eat ramps raw for a cross between an onion and garlic, or cook them in stews and soups. Spring’s earliest vegetables are some of its hardiest. Most look a little strange compared with lettuce or green peppers, but after surviving winter, these vegetables save their sweetest flavor for spring.

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Staying on Trend to Drive Sales INNOVATION IN ACTION AT WORLD’S L ARGEST BRE WER. By Mike Troy

rendan Whitworth, chief U.S. sales officer for Anheuser-Busch InBev, is talking about hard teas, coconut water and organics. In other words, sounding very unlike a top executive at a $56.4 billion global brewer. That’s the idea, because in a category such as beer where growth has been hard to come by in recent years, innovation has taken on new significance, whether it is product development, category management or supply chain processes. “Innovation is a key part of what we do and we view it as a way to ‘premiumize’ what we are doing and provide solutions that are totally incremental to our business,” Whitworth says. “When you innovate, you have to reinforce what the mother brand is and stands for. If you look at what we are doing now, it is more about considering where a brand sits within our portfolio and then innovating off of that brand so that it reinforces the position.” For example, with the Bud Light brand, which is classified as an easy-drinking and “sessionable” brew due to its flavor profile and lower alcohol level, Bud Light Orange was a logical innovation, according to Whitworth. Orange reinforces the Bud Light brand as an easy-drinking lager and has been a big success, according to Whitworth, with sales more than double the company’s forecast. By contrast, the flagship Budweiser brand is a classic lager with a richer flavor and greater alcohol level, which meant a different approach was taken with line extensions. The company introduced its Reserve Series, including Repeal Reserve and Freedom Reserve, which Whitworth says leverage recipes discovered in George Washington’s military journal and offer a fuller flavor. Other recent examples of innovation include the introduction of Copper Lager, a unique partnership with Jim Beam, to create a rich-tasting lager with notes of Jim Beam bourbon. New in 2019 will be a partnership with the popular sports and pop culture website Barstool Sports involving the Natural Light brand, according to Whitworth. “There is a ton of innovation we do with new brands that meet the historical definition of beer, but now we are playing around with completely different things,” Whitworth says. That’s why Anheuser-Busch InBev has introduced products such as hard green tea, alcoholic coconut water, alcoholic seltzer water and the industry’s first organic beer. The company also saw what was happening across the food industry, with natural and organic products driving the bulk of growth and basically said, “What about beer?” The result was the launch of Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, the first organic beer, and a new product that will eventually carry the


USDA organic seal once certifications are complete, according to Whitworth. “We are seeing a lot of the sales volume coming from buyers who are new to the beer category, so the sales are totally incremental and repeat purchase is high. We are bringing users in via the equity of organic,” Whitworth says. “The brand grows every month to exceed our expectations.”

Other Forms of Innovation

While Anheuser-Busch InBev is busy on the product innovation front, it is also innovating and thinking about business processes such as category management, supply chains and assortment optimization. For example, Anheuser-Busch InBev owns a brand in Argentina called Patagonia, which research indicated could have potential in the Colorado market. However, rather than ship beer brewed in Argentina to Colorado, the needed ingredients were shipped to a brewery in Fort Collins, Colo.; brewed under the supervision of Patagonia brewmasters; and sold in the Denver area. Category management, or as Whitworth calls it, category leadership, is also an area ripe for innovation and process improvement. “Relative to assortment, you have to have a fine balance between productivity of the space and assortment. You can’t deliver to a store every hour and you can’t merchandise the shelf every minute, but you have to make sure you minimize out-of-stocks. That is the fine line,” Whitworth says. “We are ramping up our category leadership capabilities with new leadership, new hires and a new structure to ensure we are generating the right content and insights while also doing all the tactical things.” Aiding in the process is an artificial-intelligence initiative design to perform complex calculations to optimize assortments across Anheuser-Busch InBev’s more than 500,000 accounts. The company has become much more granular in its approach to assortments by geography and account type to help drive growth for retail accounts. “The way beer shows up in the store is also a big opportunity. We have to present the right level of education and navigation, and we need to be able to educate consumers on all the different beer styles,” Whitworth says. One of those opportunity areas is ecommerce. As other categories migrate online, in some store formats it can free up space

for the beer category, which is currently at a 0.5 percent online penetration rate. Ecommerce is definitely an area Whitworth is keeping an eye on, as is the impact of the growth of cannabis. “If you look at Colorado, it has some of the best beer industry trends in the country,” Whitworth says. “We continue to assess the role of cannabis, but everything we are seeing so far is that cannabis is complementary and not a substitute. I don’t know how that is going to change in the future, but there is much to be understood about how products will be regulated.”

Lessons of Leadership

As head of U.S. sales for Anheuser-Busch InBev, Whitworth leads a sizable team: There are 3,000 employees, a partnership with 450 wholesalers, and 13,000 sales reps going in stores every day. He joined the company in 2013, and prior to that he had no experience in the brewing industry, but had learned the ropes of the CPG world while at PepsiCo. What Whitworth brought to Anheuser-Busch InBev, and PepsiCo before that, was a unique leadership skill set honed during his time in the U.S. Marines and then the Central Intelligence Agency. Whitworth’s father had been a senior person in the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the J. Edgar Hoover regime, which instilled in him at an early age a high opinion of

government service and sense of patriotism. Coupled with what he characterized as a privileged upbringing as the son of a physician, Whitworth says he felt he had a debt to pay society when he graduated from high school. “I couldn’t think of a better way to start than to go into the military,” Whitworth says. However, a lifelong career in the military wasn’t in the cards for Whitworth, who during his time in the Corps decided to pursue an opportunity with the CIA. The year-long process of joining the CIA came to a head on Sept. 10, 2001, when Whitworth was flying from Washington, D.C., back to San Diego to complete testing. The following month, he left San Diego to start with the agency and was in the first post-Sept. 11 class of agency officers. Although no longer a Marine, Whitworth says he felt he was in a better spot to hunt down bad guys as part of the CIA, which ended up proving true considering all the countries where he was assigned. “I felt like I was in a great position to make an individual impact,” Whitworth says of his time in the CIA. He was part of the agency’s counterterrorism center, learned Arabic and spent time in North Africa, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. While in Iraq from 2005 to 2006 and contemplating his next move to Yemen, Whitworth sent an application to Harvard and was accepted to the business school.

The way beer shows up in the store is also a big opportunity. We have to present the right level of education and navigation, and we need to be able to educate consumers on all the different beer styles." —Brendan Whitworth, Anheuser Busch InBev “I went back to Boston instead of Yemen and got exposed to this thing called business,” Whitworth says. “I felt like after eight years in the Marines and the CIA, I had paid the debt.” After earning an MBA from Harvard, Whitworth joined PepsiCo as part of a leadership development program and spent two years inside a Frito-Lay manufacturing business. He progressed to the company’s sales organization and DSD operation, and before long was running key accounts in the Northeast. “I learned a lot about category management, key accounts and retail relationships,” Whitworth says of his time at PepsiCo. When a recruiter came calling about an opportunity with Anheuser-Busch InBev, Whitworth made the switch to a new role at the brewer. He quickly advanced through the organization to his current position, where he’s focused on driving growth by pursuing an innovation agenda that extends from product development through all aspects of the company. Mike Troy is editor of PG sister publication Retail Leader.




Mobile Apps MK


Kroger's OptUP puts nutritional information at shoppers' fingertips, making it easier to find better-for-you groceries.


oyalty programs haven’t seen the brightest days in the grocery space lately. In the past couple of years alone, there’s been a 24 percent decline in memberships. True, the drop — from 188 million in 2015 to 142 million in 2017 — isn’t so much due to declining interest as it is to mergers and acquisitions in the grocery channel. But it still supports the idea that grocers need to continue pro providing enticing reasons for consumers to pick up their phones, download that app and register an account. Shoppers are more willing to give their personperson al data if they get something worthwhile in return — such as a discount, a coupon, or loyalty points redeemable for free products and discounts, Kate Hogenson, strategic loyalty consultant with St. Pe Petersburg, Fla.-based Kobie Marketing, told Progressive Grocer in September 2017. Another major trend: Midwestern grocer Wood Woodman’s Food Markets, which operates more than a dozen stores in Wisconsin and Illinois, has reported that three-quarters of American adults claim they’re taking more personal responsibility for their health than they were a decade ago. Millennials in particular are taking a personal interinter est in their health in record numbers and, in doing so, are increasingly driving sales in categories such as healthy food. Unlike prior generations, Millennials aren’t driven by discounts and have a general mistrust of large food and bever beverage manufacturers, choosing transparentransparen cy and authenticity instead. Bring these trends together, and suddenly there’s an opportunity to leverage the power of mobile apps as a way to help shoppers take charge of their health and, in turn, openly share their information with their favorite grocers. Here’s how several noteworthy grocers, this past summer alone, have begun leveraging mobile apps to do this.

The Kroger Co.

Last July, the Kroger Co. debuted a mobile app that helps customers make more informed, health-con health-conscious decisions when buying groceries. Called OptUP, the new offering is part of Kro Kro-

ger’s Wellness Your Way platform, which supports the grocer’s four-pillar Restock initiative to reinvent the shopping experience, says Collen Linzhold, president of pharmacy and The Little Clinic at the Cincinnati-based grocery giant. It encourages shoppers to engage in a “balanced, holistic approach to self-care” by putting nutritional information at shoppers’ fingertips and making it easier to find and purchase better-for-you groceries. The new grocery technology bases scores on a nationally recognized dietary standard enhanced by Kroger’s registered dietitians. The product-score range is between one and 100: Products scoring 71 or better fall in the “green category”; are lower in saturated fat, sugar, sodium and calories; and may be higher in such content as fiber, protein, fruits and vegetables, or nuts. Meanwhile, products scoring between 36 and 70 fall in the yellow category, and those between one and 35 fall in the red category. Kroger dietitians recommend that shopping carts contain at least 50 percent green-category products. OptUP scores range from zero to 1,000, reflecting a customer’s purchase history over the past eight weeks. The ideal score is 600 or better. Other key features include: Personalized product recommendations A feature for scanning and searching items to find nutritional facts and alternative products A grocery ecommerce link that lets users add better-for-you products to a digital cart for curbside pickup or delivery “OptUP is a collaboration among our health, tech, digital and 84.51° teams,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer, referring to the grocer’s customer data, predictive analytics and marketing strategy company. “The data-driven app creates a more transparent and educational experience for our customers, continuing our commitment to help Americans shop, eat and live healthier on their terms.” Kroger plans to continue improving the grocery technology by adding more features and greater personalization for specific health needs and preferences. Compatible with iOS and Android, the app can be downloaded through Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store. OptUP received a preview last June at PG’s Healthy Shopper Summit, where Allison Kuhn, Kroger’s director of retail nutrition, presented the app to an audience of retail dietitians and other health professionals.

Woodman’s Food Markets

Also in July, Woodman’s Food Markets began piloting a mobile app in all of its stores to help shoppers find better-for-you brands while earning cash rewards and other perks through in-store purchases and social engagement. Developer MyUpside, which created the app, partnered with the Janesville, Wis.-based grocer and other regional retailers for what it calls the “next step in rewards programs,” building a coalition of

purpose-driven brands and retailers tailored to the activities and passions of today’s consumers. Such partnerships allow the grocery technology program to reach crucial shoppers with a turnkey program that increases shopper visits, purchase frequency and basket size. Seattle-based MyUpside complements retailers’ existing rewards programs by filling an in-store need to grow excitement and drive a stronger emotional affinity between consumers and brands, which can be critical to building loyalty with Millennial and Gen Z shoppers. It can help retailers create more personalized experiences sponsored by brand partners to show gratitude for members’ achievements and purchases. Past experiences, for instance, have included sideline passes to a Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field, tickets to U2 concerts, and “Escape Day” packages at local spas. “Although we are a Seattle startup, the Midwest and Woodman’s is a perfect place to launch because of Woodman’s strong customer base that is passionate about better-for-you brands,” says Jeff Sampson, CEO of MyUpside. “Our mission is to be the champion of the independent retailer serving consumers looking to incorporate high-quality, purpose-driven brands in their lives. Rather than depend on the transactional approach — think coupons, rebates, temporary price reductions — our community is embracing the language of experiences and personalization. That’s what MyUpside is all about.”

“Our mission is to be the champion of the independent retailer serving consumers looking to incorporate high-quality, purpose-driven brands in their lives." —Jeff Sampson, MyUpside

Leevers Supermarkets

Leading Save-A-Lot licensee Leever’s Supermarkets, which operates 20 stores in Colorado and Florida, launched a mobile loyalty app last May that encourages healthier eating by incentivizing the purchase of fresh fruits or vegetables. Snap2Save, developed in partnership with digital customer engagement firm Green Piranhas Inc. and available for both iOS and Android devices, is said to be a “new kind of grocery-shopping loyalty app” that gives registered customers one point for every dollar spent, redeemable for gift cards or health care rebates. Through Healthy Food Rewards, the app offers up to four times the points for purchasing fresh fruits and PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019



Mobile Apps

vegetables, and the rewards are anticipated to expand to other healthful in-store offerings such as lean meats. Users also may receive special offers, win prizes, view healthy-recipe videos from Cooking Matters and check their EBT balances through the app. “We’ve been proud to provide customers with quality, value and exceptional service for over 75 years,” says John Leevers, president of the Franktown, Colo.-based chain. “We believe that Snap2Save and Healthy

Food Rewards will help us take our customer offering to the next level.” Adds Sam Jonas, CEO of Centennial, Colo.-based Green Piranhas: “Healthy Food Rewards is the type of offering today’s busy shoppers are seeking: incentives matched with valuable health-and-wellness content.”

Raley’s Supermarkets

Western U.S. grocer Raley’s has long been known for its dedication to helping shoppers make better choices about the foods they consume. This last summer, the West Sacramento, Calif.-based grocer made that philosophy mobile on the pharmacy side of its business by launching an app that integrates mscripts’ mobile pharmacy solutions and texts users when a prescription is ready for pickup or a refill is due to be ordered. Developed in partnership with mscripts, Rx Refill On-the-Go also offers a mobile and web app that customers can use to manage prescriptions for both family members and themselves. It encourages behaviors to improve health by offering customers better access to prescription information and the ability to handle

Snap2Save, which gives a point for every dollar spent at Leever's, offers up to four times the points for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables.



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Raley's Rx Refill On-the-Go integrates mscripts’ mobile pharmacy solutions, and texts users when a prescription is ready for pickup or a refill is due to be ordered.

prescriptions directly from a mobile device, helping to improve efficiency while reducing wait times. Available for both iOS and Android devices, Raley’s pharmacy mobile and web app offers such features as: Text notifications to show that a prescription is ready for pickup and when refills are due to be ordered Prescription management, particularly the ability to order refills, get status updates and access history A single account to manage all family prescriptions A pharmacy locator that provides driving directions to, and store hours for, the nearest Raley’s, Bel Air Market or Nob Hill Foods A single location to keep all doctor-related information Prescription transferral to allow for easy movement of prescriptions from one pharmacy to a Raley’s, Bel Air Market or Nob Hill Foods pharmacy “Offering a convenient mobile pharmacy application delivers on our customer promise to make shopping easier and more accessible,� says Dave Fluitt, Raley’s director of pharmacy. “Our new pharmacy application will allow our customers to save time and gain access to their health information with confidence and convenience.�






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Retail Foodservice


hile foodservice sales in supermarkets continue to climb, the preparation and presentation of the increasing variety of product options is achieved by an accompanying equipment-dense infrastructure. “Foodservice is incorporated into our deli department,” says Dean Walker, president of 18-store Boyer’s Food Markets Inc., based in Orwigsburg, Pa. “It has grown exponentially in the last five years. All of our growth in the deli department has been on the foodservice side of the business, with very modest growth in traditional deli lunchmeat and cheese sales. We project it to grow 45 percent of our total deli business next year.”


Key Takeaways Currently available retail foodservice equipment is designed to be adaptable and sustainable without continual upgrades, and aims to create unique shopper experiences. New technology offered in retail foodservice solutions will enable grocers to overcome operational challenges to growing their prepared food sales. With the consolidation of center store and strong competition from online sales, merchandisers in the perimeter departments in particular, including prepared foods, will need to drive significant portions of store profits.

Hillphoenix's grill station offers full-featured prepared food counters.

All of Boyer’s foodservice is self-serve, notes Walker, adding that the current lineup includes dual salad bar/hot bar buffets with soup, pre-packed sandwiches and salads to go; pre-packed heat-and-eat entrées and meals in multideck cold cases; and graband-go hot sandwiches, chickens, lunch snacks and breakfast sandwiches in a merchandiser at the front of the store. “We continue to tweak our product selections and expand, as we have not found the ceiling of potential sales,” Walker says. “We are expanding ready-to-eat meals in our meat and seafood departments by utilizing Ready. Chef. Go! cooking bags and other oven-ready packaging. We are also experimenting with more specific mealtime programs with our hot buffets, for example, with weekend breakfasts to capture more meal opportunities.”

Evolve With the Times

Manufacturers of foodservice equipment are stepping up efforts to help retailers innovate this key growth area of the store. “We are introducing combi ovens, blast chiller/ freezers and thawing cabinets into the retail segment,” notes Angelo Grillas, director of eastern project business at Charlotte, N.C.-based Electrolux Professional. “At the deli station specifically, we are also introducing the concept of high-speed cooking.” The thawing cabinet solves the need created by prolonged unsafe defrosting of food products, Grillas says, and safely expedites the defrosting of products, which allows the operation to be completed the same day, rather than having to plan it out over 48 to 72 hours. “The Speedlight high-speed cooking unit allows retailers specifically in the deli environment to deliver hot and fresh products quickly and consistently,” he adds. Both products satisfy food safety needs and consistency of the final products at high speed, although labor is still needed, but, as Grillas observes, “Now labor is

utilized efficiently because of expedited systems.” Back-of-house knowledge and creativity is growing, Grillas asserts, as is the need for sustainable practices — that is, using food products to the maximum, without waste, to maximize profits. “In order to plan and prepare a dynamic menu offering, you need flexible equipment that can accommodate evolving menu trends throughout the years without having to upgrade,” he concludes.

Facing Challenges

Hillphoenix offers a wide selection of retail foodservice options, from standard refrigerated, hot and dry service and self-service merchandisers, to custom-designed prepared food counters. “This includes hot and cold service food bars and integrated full-featured prepared foods counters that incorporate multiple OEM [original equipment manufacturer] foodservice equipment manufacturers,” explains Justin Webster, design center specialist at Dover Food Retail, a Hillphoenix company in Conyers, Ga. Foodservice as a whole has become highly competitive, Webster observes, and food retailers have the advantage of responding to change with convenient, healthier, locally sourced products. This helps in adapting more rapidly to new food concepts and flavor profiles that meet the needs of their shoppers. “We as a company offer solutions and ideas while helping them work through operational challenges,” he says. However, Webster notes: “One area that is important to address is balancing between full-service operations, which can be labor-intensive, and self-service offerings. With unemployment at its all-time low, it is a challenge for retailers to hire, train and retain their employees for their peripheral departments. Understanding these challenges helps us to discuss, develop and design service and self-service prepared food counters and merchandisers that create that unique shopper experience.” This self-serve bar is among the options Hillphoenix offers to help retailers "discuss, develop and design prepared food counters and merchandisers that create that unique shopper experience,” says company design specialist Justin Webster.




Retail Foodservice

Keep Cool

For his part, Chris Latta, marketing manager at Muskegon, Mich.based Structural Concepts, says: “We have had tremendous success with our G-Series Atmosphere Meat & Seafood units, as well as with Grocerant food bars. One area of note has been the growth of spot merchandising, and we have expanded our lines to support the need to develop flexible formats for impulse and cross-merchandising sales opportunities.” The company’s comprehensive display strategy can support today’s multidimensional shopper, Latta notes, and self-contained refrigeration means that it can be leveraged in new places in the store. “The flexibility from application to location in our product lines provides the flexibility to truly collaborate with clients and enhance their customers’ in-store experience,” he says. The first of its kind, the G-Series, Latta explains, is “our threetiered answer to single-level gravity and two-level hybrid gravity systems. This unit focuses on what’s happening now: shrinking footprints and the need to maximize the display area with up to three times the SKUs per linear foot.” Structural Concepts launched its Grocerant 2.0 design late last year, with improvements in construction, ease of installation, and on-site operation. Additionally, the company’s MI Island product lines of self-contained merchandisers have been completely redesigned, with the air screen retainers replaced by a sleek, all-glass construction that lends itself to the high-end environments in which clients are placing them. Additionally, the pull-out refrigeration unit allows for easy cleaning of coils and servicing. “The center store is consolidating,” Latta observes, “and will continue to see strong competition from online sales, as it is much easier to sell nonperishables online. We know that means the merchandisers in the fresh departments, and the departments in general, will have to drive significant portions of the store’s profits.” Latta also sees a continued shift toward higher-end departments, experiential store design and “what we are calling flexible venue creation. I like to say we are in the customer relationship business; we just happen to make industry-leading refrigerated merchandisers.”

Bright Future

ITW Food Equipment Group has introduced several new products in the past year for retail foodservice, Director of Brand Marketing Todd Blair notes. The Troy, Ohio-based family of brands includes Hobart, Baxter, Traulsen, Vulcan, Wolf, Berkel and Gaylord, and its food preparation equipment encompasses mixers, slicers, processors and grinders, meat room equipment, weighing and wrapping equipment, refrigeration equipment, hot-food holding equipment, commercial cooking and baking equipment, ventilation hoods, and commercial dishwashers. Baxter has launched its VersaOven, which combines the best features of rotisserie, combi and convection ovens into a space-saving oven designed to cook, bake and steam large volumes quickly and easily. An automated wash system can run a heavy cleaning cycle in just two hours, using only 24 gallons of water. The oven also features programmable touchscreen controls and the ability to upload and store recipes with up to six stages. Hobart, meanwhile, has introduced technology features in various dishwashers to improve energy and labor efficiency: Ventless


Electrolux's Speedlight high-speed cooking unit allows retail deli operators to deliver hot and fresh products quickly and consistently, and satisfy food safety needs.

Energy Recovery, Drainwater Energy Recovery (DWER), and Automatic Soil Removal (ASR). The newest automated wrapping system offers a highly connected solution to fast-paced, large-volume stores, and includes features such as advanced pneumatics, simplified timings and “copy machine” diagnostics. In 2018, Traulsen debuted Glass Door Merchandisers, featuring LED lights built into the doors, but without introducing additional heat inside the cabinets, which also feature durable three-pane glass doors that minimize frost, and a thermal expansion valve for rapid recovery. Traulsen blast chillers provide greater product output due to increased flexibility in cooking schedules, and Blair points out that larger three-section refrigerators have become popular for upfront holding of cold foods designated for “ClickList”-type programs. Glycol prep tables are options for foodservice kiosks and areas that are open to the environment and serving all day or for extended periods, where safe food temperatures must be maintained. A new technology in 2018, available on select units, has bare tube coils with a finless coil design that virtually eliminates the need to clean condenser coils, saving maintenance time and potential costs related to premature compressor failure and replacement. Vulcan recently introduced the Versatile Chef Station (VCS), which offers the ability to sear, braise, simmer, steam, boil, shallow fry, sauté and re-therm. The brand has also come out with SonicSafe, available on its electric generator-based steamers, which uses powerful ultrasonic energy to blast scale away automatically, eliminating forgotten filter changes. “These are certainly exciting times,” Blair remarks, “driven by the consumer desire for greater options and experiences. While change always comes with challenges, the journey and outcome both lend themselves to a bright future for retail organizations and their patrons.”


hen the subject of gum disease comes up, the first image that comes to mind isn’t necessarily Fido or Fluffy. According to the Royal Veter Veterinary College of the University of London, however, periodontal disease is actually the most common ailment in cats and dogs. In fact, most will have some form of it by the time they reach 3 years old. As pet dental health increasingly finds itself on the public radar, consumers are looking for ways to protect their pets from this preventable disease. From dental chews to sprays to specially formulated toothpaste, pet manufacturers are putting out products to fill the need in the market for these oral care items.

Key Takeaways Periodontal disease is the most common ailment in cats and dogs. The global pet oral product market is growing, spurred by increasing pet ownership, rising awareness among pet owners about pet health, and more owners getting pet insurance. Pet manufacturers offer an array of innovative products to promote oral health in pets, including dental chews, sprays and even specially formulated toothpaste.



Pet oral care is a subsection of pet care that could present a real growth opportunity for grocers. According to a report from Dublin, Ireland-based Research and Markets, the global pet oral product market is forecast to rise by nearly 7 percent by the year 2022, driven by increasing pet ownership, rising awareness among pet owners about their pets’ health, and more owners getting pet insurance.

Rising Demand

“I have clients coming in asking me what to put on their dog’s teeth all the time,” affirms Adam Garza, a longtime veterinarian practicing in Virginia Beach, Va. “Ten years ago, a lot of people were worried about a pet getting hit by a car or maybe developing cancer. But now more people realize that gum disease and infected teeth can be far more common. They realize that oral care is one of the biggest factors in a pet’s overall health.” What the veterinary community has known for years has been slowly creeping into the consciousness of consumers. Pet owners are becoming more and more savvy about oral health care for their animals. There are a number of factors driving this change. The first is the increasing humanization of pets, a trend that has been brewing for some time. Many researchers attribute this to the increasing effect that Millennials have on the market. For instance,

almost half of all Millennials think of their pets as their first children, according to Gale agency research recently published in Adweek. This increases the likelihood of owners taking a 360-degree approach to their pets’ health, including oral care. Another factor in the growing demand for oral care is the increase in availability of pet health insurance. About 1.83 million American pets were insured, according to the “State of the Industry” report from the Boise, Idaho-based North American Pet Health Insurance Association. That’s an increase of 17.5 percent since the previous year. Insured pets are more likely to see a vet about more health issues, instead of just major injuries or illnesses. Garza thinks this trend isn’t going anywhere soon. “I think today’s clients are just better informed than the ones in the past,” he observes. “They know what the risks are and really care about preventative oral care.” Further, as owners become savvier about oral health care for their pets, they’re looking for affordable overthe-counter products that can help with the task.

New to Chew, and More

Joe Toscano, VP and director, business development and industry development at St. Louis-based Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., believes that there’s a growth opportunity in the pet dental category. “As awareness about the importance of good pet dental health grows, so does the opportunity in pet oral care products, especially in regards to treats, which have always been good basket builders,” he notes.

“We launched the Purina DentaLife brand last year, which features high-quality ingredients and a unique product design that addresses the three main concerns of dental health: cleaning, tartar control and fresh breath,” Toscano explains. “New in January 2019 is Purina DentaLife Activefresh. ActiveFresh is brand-new revolutionary scientific breakthrough in attacking bad breath at the source … versus the traditional masking of it.” Oxyfresh’s Pet Dental Spray is an unflavored, alcohol-free product that combats bad breath in both dogs and cats. It comes in a compact spray bottle that lends itself to conserving shelf space or to display in shelf hangers. “There is a clear need for a healthy, easy way to help improve pet dental health that isn’t limited to brushing alone,” points out Oxyfresh VP Tom Lunneborg. “We took the best mix of science and Mother Nature to create this special formula that effectively delivers fresh breath and neutralizes bacteria at the source.”

Pet Potential Pet care is big business for retail grocers. According to Joe Toscano, VP and director, business development and industry development at St. Louis-based Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., pet care products are an essential part of the industry. “Pet care is currently a $63 billion industry, growing an average of $2.5 billion each year,” notes Toscano. “Pet care is currently ranked eighth out of 305 supermarket categories by IRI InfoScan, and it’s growing two times that of the overall center store, according to Nielsen Scantrack data. Pet care also has the potential to boost total store traffic, triggering more trips than any other category, according to a Nielsen shopper study. It’s the No. 2 reason consumers leave the house to go to the store, and it’s shopped by 75 percent of U.S. households.” —Princess Jones Curtis

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Online Pet Sales Surge BRICK-AND-MORTAR STORES AREN’T DE AD YE T, HOWE VER. According to a recent Nielsen report, Americans spent close to $33 billion on pet food and treats this year, an increase of $1.5 billion, or 5 percent. This number is based on data extracted from Nielsen’s recent acquisition, GFK’s Pet Specialty Point of Sale (POS) business. The information includes data from mainstream retailers, pet superstores and neighborhood pet specialty stores. Within this increase, ecommerce retailers, premium pet food brands and specialized pet retailers saw the biggest wins. The modest increase was driven by ecommerce sales, which saw a 53 percent jump over the year. In particular, dog food and treats purchased online were up 52 percent, while cat food and treats were up 54 percent. Looking at those figures alone, it may seem like brick-and-mortar retail stores should be worried about the future. However, according to Nielsen’s Digital Shopping Fundamentals research, 51 percent of pet owners say that they don’t ever plan to buy pet items online. Mainstream brick-and-mortar stores saw $16 billion in pet food sales, a 2 percent increase from the previous year. At the same time, consumption of dog food by the ton has gone down by 1 percent. So where did the growth come from? It seems that premium pet food brands have added to the increased spending, bringing more in sales with less volume. Of the $33 billion in sales, specialized pet retail offerings represented $8 billion. Pet superstores saw a decline in sales, but neighborhood pet shops have seen impressive growth. One theory is that neighborhood pet retailers often offer personalized services to increase total sales. They also have connections to the community that a pet superstore doesn’t. Independent stores also convert sales of premium pet meals and meal enhancers. In fact, meal enhancers were up 21 percent this year, representing $84 million in total sales for specialty pet retailers. —Princess Jones Curtis


Ten years ago, a lot of people were worried about a pet getting hit by a car or maybe developing cancer. But now more people realize that gum disease and infected teeth can be far more common. They realize that oral care is one of the biggest factors in a pet’s overall health.” —Adam Garza, veterinarian

“We make it a priority to offer a variety of products for dogs that have oral care benefits,” says Dr. Tiffany Bierer, health and nutritional sciences manager for Franklin, Tenn.-based Mars Petcare US, the makers of Pedigree Food for Dogs. “Combined with regular visits to your veterinarian and a consistent oral care routine, these products help combat oral care issues and minimize those bad dog-breath moments.” Pedigree’s Dentastix is a chew product that uses the natural chewing instincts of dogs to reduce tartar buildup and gum disease.

Supercharge Sales

Once grocers have determined to focus on pet oral care, proper merchandising and marketing of the segment’s products are musts. “Shelf space is extremely important, especially when you consider that almost 85 percent of pet food sales are sold off the shelf at everyday retail prices,” advises Toscano. “As with most categories, the funfun damental 4Ps also are essential. First and foremost, having the right products on the shelf, and offering a wide assortment to meet all your consumers’ needs, is key. From there, competitive pricing and a consisconsis tent promotion strategy can enhance sales and profit. Finally, having an environment that is easy to shop, with navigation signs, end caps and the right flow in the aisle, can stimulate multiple purchases.” Choosing between all of these options for stock can be daunting to retailers. “It’s all about knowing your audience and making sure you’re stocking what they want to buy,” suggests Stephen Thomas, owner of Thomas Communications, a boutique marketing agency that works with pet brands. “Sure, there are customers that will go to specialized pet stores to find these products. But they’re already visiting grocery retailers for food and household items, and it’s an op opportunity for retailers to provide a convenient, efficient experience for those shoppers.”


Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Go for Yogurt

Not Your Grandma’s Tea

A sour-beverage craze is hitting the nation by storm, between the growing number of sour beers reaching the market and the increasing love for kombucha, the effervescent sweet-tart fermented tea that claims to help maintain proper gut health. It’s only natural, then, that a hard version of kombucha would make it to market: In partnership with the Reyes Beverage Group, Flying Embers has introduced its adaptogenic organic hard kombucha. Available in three varieties — Ancient Berry, Lemon Orchard, and Ginger & Oak — the beverage features live probiotic cultures, botanical adaptogens and functional wellness benefits. Each brew is vegan, gluten-free and certified organic. The hard sparkling beverages retail in 22-ounce bottles and 16-ounce cans for a suggested $8 each and $14 per 4-pack, respectively.

Parents are constantly seeking kid-friendly snacks that are nutritious and not loaded with sugar. In response to this need, Chobani has introduced a line of yogurt snacks specifically designed for children. Gimmies comprises four ways to help kids enjoy a more healthful, yogurt-based snack. Made with only natural, non-GMO ingredients — and never any thickeners, preservatives or artificial sweeteners — the refrigerated line includes Crunch, a dual-compartment package with yogurt and mix-ins, in Poppin’ Cotton Candy, Choco Chunk Cookie Dunk, Best Birthday Ever, Ooey Gooey S’More and Rainbow Sprinkle Cone flavors; Milkshakes, in Bizzy Buzzy Strawberry, Cookies & Cream Crush, and Chillin’ Mint Chocolate flavors; Tubes, in Super Berry Rocket, Creamy Orange Dreamy and Cherry Set Go flavors; and Pouches, in See Ya Later Strawberry and Bunch of Bouncy Grape flavors. All products in the line are naturally rich in many essential nutrients that support good health, align with national dietary guidelines, contribute toward the daily dairy recommendations for kids, and contain just the right amount of sugar to balance the tastes of fruit and yogurt. The SRP for Crunch is $1.25 per 4-ounce container, for Tubes is $4.29 per 10-pack of 1.5-ounce portions, for Milkshakes is $4.49 per 6-pack of 4-ounce servings, and for Pouches is $4.49 per 4-pack of 3.5-ounce servings.

Fruit and Fiber

Providing Americans with a convenient way to get more fruit and fiber into their diets, Del Monte has introduced Fruit & Oats, said to be the first ready-to-eat oatmeal containing a full serving of fruit. Made to be eaten hot or cold, the oatmeal contains 400 milligrams of omega-3s and 20 grams of whole grains, while leaving out high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and artificial sweeteners. Three varieties are available: Pear Maple, Peach Cinnamon Spice and Apple Cinnamon. The SRP range is $2.09-$3.19 per 2-pack of 7-ounce cups.

Only the Finest for Fido

Americans want only the best products for their fur babies, so it’s wise to offer pet parents something truly indulgent that keeps their precious pooches satisfied for a long time. Stuffed Center Bones from The Country Butcher help sate dogs’ chewing urges for hours. The 4-inch natural, white bare bones filled with a variety of meats, cheese and/or rice join stuffed hooves and tracheas in the company’s lineup of products. Available in Bully N Beef, Cheese N Bacon and Chicken N Rice varieties, the stuffed bones retail for a suggested $4.49 each, or $7.99 per 2-pack. All Country Butcher products are 100 percent grown and made in the United States. PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2019



Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Plant Protein by the Bowlful

As Americans continue to turn to more plant-based foods for lean protein, fiber and more, they’re seeking convenience-minded solutions that help them get their fix easily while on the go. Green Giant is continuing to provide this benefit in its Harvest Protein Bowls, plant-forward meals that blend flavorful vegetables and whole grains. Available in four varieties — California Style, Asian Style, Southwest Style and Italian Style — each vegetarian item contains 12 to 14 grams of protein; includes such whole grains as quinoa, lentils and ancient grains; and contains no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Each frozen bowl microwaves in fewer than six minutes and retails for a suggested $3.99.

Beefy Bars

Meat snacks have been moving into bar form to appease on-the-go consumers seeking a quick protein fix, and one of the latest is DNX Foods’ keto-compliant Grass-Fed Beef & Uncured Bacon Jalapeño Bar, which features 14 grams of protein and 9 grams of healthy fats from high-quality animal sources free of antibiotics and hormones. Fortified with grass-fed beef collagen, the minimally processed bar is made with certified organic spices, grass-fed beef from New Zealand and Australia, and uncured bacon. It’s high in omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acids, as well as free of nitrates and nitrites, artificial ingredients, preservatives, fillers, GMOs, MSG, dairy, soy, or gluten. The bar is also is free from added sugar or sugar alcohol, and contains only 1 gram of net carbohydrates. DNX’s Grass-Fed Beef & Uncured Bacon Jalapeño Bar has an SRP of $2.99 per 1.25-ounce bar.

Smoothie in a Chip

Banana chips are nothing new, but what if you could have one that tasted like a smoothie? That’s exactly what Bare Snacks thought when it introduced Strawberry Banana Chips, which join the brand’s line of oil-free banana chips. Inspired by the classic smoothie flavor, the snack starts with fresh, ripe bananas that are slowly baked and lightly dusted with crushed strawberries, with no added oil or sugar, and nothing artificial. Suitable for snacking straight from the bag, using in a fruity parfait or sprinkling on oatmeal, the snacks come in resealable 2.7-ounce bags and are Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, fat-free and a good source of fiber. They retail for a suggested $4.29 per bag.

A Taste of the Exotic

Americans continue to seek interesting flavors and taste sensations from across the globe, including in spirits, whether mezcals, Japanese whiskeys or other unique libations. Bluewater Organic Distilling’s Wintersun Organic Aquavit is one of those exotic, unique alcoholic beverages, blending a 100 percent copper-distilled grain spirit with a balanced profile of caraway, aniseed and orange peel. The 80-proof spirit was developed for creative mixology but also is intended to be enjoyed straight. It’s said to be the first USDA Certified Organic spirit distilled from organic grain, and is packaged in American-made glass bottles. The SRP is $33.99 per 750-milliliter bottle.



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By Randy Hofbauer


ast month, Progressive Grocer presented the inaugural class of its 2018 GenNext Awards, recognizing highly skilled and talented individuals among grocers, manufacturers and service providers who, like me, are all under the age of 40. Given their fresh perspectives on the industry — and growing up in a different time from their older colleagues — I thought it’d be interesting to find out what each feels is the greatest misconception regarding the grocery industry. While responses ran the gamut from better-for-you trends to the importance of independent grocers, the underlying theme across the board was straightforward: Grocery is not boring, old-school and out of touch, but exciting, dynamic and totally relevant. Also, for many of those interviewed, technology plays a major part in making this the case. For instance, they took pleasure in refuting the following myths: Grocery retail is “boring” or “outdated.” Hardly, counters Jordan Poff, Cincinnati/Dayton division ecommerce manager with The Kroger Co., who calls the industry “extremely fast-paced. “In the past year, Kroger has continued to evolve, expanding its ecommerce business, introducing self-driving cars, creating meal solutions for families, increasing fresh food options in our retail stores, introducing Zero Hunger | Zero Waste, and starting selling Our Brands products in other countries through Alibaba’s Tmall platform — and through other retailers like Walgreens,” he notes. The grocery market is rudimentary.

In actuality, it’s more advanced than ever, according to Diana Haussling, director of shopper engagement and activation at The Campbell Co. “The intersection of technology and personalization has led consumers to make more informed decisions,” she asserts. “We must meet shoppers where they are, engaging them on social media, utilizing GPS technology to connect with them in aisle, and delivering assortments that are curated to the geography, socioeconomics and ethnographies of the neighborhoods in which we do business.” 82

The grocery market is more competitive than ever.

Not necessarily the case, contends Cara Pratt, VP, customer communications, product strategy and innovation at 84.51˚/The Kroger Co. — competition is just more visible now, as “technology is driving a new speed of change.” “For example, grocery retail is using machine learning and artificial intelligence to influence operations (inventory management, price optimization, etc.) and create personalized experiences and more,” she says. “Grocery retail is disrupting the advertising ecosystem by more effectively (and transparently) executing media to create customer connections. Grocery retail is also using robotics to improve the supply chain.” Grocers are automating ecommerce, and abandoning brick-and-mortar stores and associates in the process. The reality is different, however, argues Darrell

Anhel, division ecommerce manager for Fry’s Food Stores/The Kroger Co. “The best grocery retailers understand how to stay relevant for their customers, no matter what venue they choose to shop,” Anhel continues. “Leveraging brick-and-mortar stores in combination with multiple ecommerce channels will be instrumental in keeping up with customers’ ever-shifting demands while remaining profitable and relevant in the landscape.” “Ecommerce is a huge part of future shopping,” adds Stacy Vossberg, VP of innovation at Insignia Systems, “but in my opinion, the winners will ultimately be retailers and CPGs who figure out how to integrate the physical and digital worlds to inspire shoppers and drive sales.” According to the leaders of tomorrow, the future isn’t boring — it’s dynamic. It’s not rudimentary — it’s complex. It’s not more competitive — it’s more transparent. And it’s not being destroyed by technology — it’s better serving the shopper, which has been its purpose from day one. How refreshing to see such optimism from those who increasingly will be leading the industry in the coming years. Further, with their belief in investing in and fully embracing innovation and technology to get there, we can be sure that the industry — and its customers — have a bright future in store.



Join us at the 2019 NGA Show where two trailblazing strategists will offer perspectives from opposite sides of the aisle on today’s hot-button political issues during our Opening Keynote Session.

Dana Perino

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