Progressive Grocer - May 2017

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Plus! Store of the Month: Brookshire Brothers Express, P. 26

Aces and Duffers Emerge in Our Annual Ranking of Food Retailers Page 41

May 2017 • Volume 96 Number 5 $10 •

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Volume 96, Issue 5


COVER STORY Progressive Grocer’s Super 50

Turf War

Aces and duffers alike face challenges, leverage opportunities to boost their positions on the cutthroat course.


67 / Beverage Alcohol Here’s to Summer The return of warm weather means exciting seasonal beer and wine products and promotions.

73 / Refrigerated & Frozen Foods

Dairy Days Grocers customize annual observance’s programs to bolster traffic, sales.

26 / Store of the Month Unlimited Express Brookshire Brothers demonstrates how great things can come in small formats. 58 / Candy & Snacks Good Enough to Eat Ingredients, formats adapt to meet demands for healthier, portable products.


May 2017 | |



05.17 81 / Progressive Grocer ’s Retail Bakery Review

In the Sweet Spot In-store bakeries report happier days on the horizon. 98 / Produce Setting the Stage Grocers create theater and spark sales with inspired summer produce displays. 107 / PG Pet Pet Causes Corporate social responsibility initiatives boost image, sales.

570 Lake Cook Rd, Suite 310, Deerfield, IL 60015 224 632-8200 •

111 / Technology Mind the Gap Grocers must address the disconnect between their omnichannel capabilities and those that consumers expect from them. 115 / Equipment &


Standing Orders As retailers adopt kiosks, suppliers enhance their capabilities.

8 / Editor’s Note Masters Tour 12 / PG Pulse 14 / In-store Events Calendar

July 2017 16 / Nielsen’s Shelf Stoppers/Spotlight Packaged Meats/ Breakfast Sausage


EDITORIAL Chief Content Editor Meg Major 724-453-3545 Editor-in-Chief James Dudlicek 224-632-8238 Managing Editor Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603 Senior Editor Randy Hofbauer 224-632-8240 Senior Editor Katie Martin 224-632-8172 Senior Editor Anna Wolfe 207-773-1154 Contributing Editors Kathleen Furore, Bob Ingram, Lynn Petrak and Jennifer Strailey

ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS Southeast Account Executive Larry Cornick 224.632.8248 Midwest Marketing Manager Angela Flatland (AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MI, MO, NE, ND, OK, SD, TN, WI) 224-229-0547 • Mobile: 608-320-4421 Western Regional Marketing Manager Rick Neigher (CA, OR, WA) 818-597-9029 Northeast Marketing Manager Mike Shaw 201-855-7631 • Mobile: 201-281-9100 Account Executive/ Classified Advertising Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373 Classified Production Manager Mary Beth Medley 856-809-0050


SVP, Brand Director Katie Brennan 201-855-7609 • Mobile: 917-859-3619

EVENTS SVP, Events & Conferences Maureen Macke 773-992-4413 CUSTOM MEDIA VP/Custom Media Division Pierce Hollingsworth 224-632-8229 General Manager, Custom Media Kathy Colwell 224-632-8244 MARKETING VP, Marketing & Communications Bruce Hendrickson 224-632-8214

AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT Director of Audience Development Gail Reboletti Audience Development Manager Shelly Patton 215-301-0593 List Rental The Information Refinery 800-529-9020 Brian Clotworthy Subscriber Services/Single-copy Purchases 978-671-0449 or email at

20 / Mintel Global New Products Hairstyling Products 22 / All’s Wellness Retail Guidance 120 / What’s Next Editors’ Picks for Innovative Products 122 / The Last Word Putting Change to the Test

| Progressive Grocer | May 2017

ART/PRODUCTION Director of Production Kathryn Homenick Advertising/Production Manager Jackie Batson 224-632-8183 • Fax: 888-316-7987 Art Director Bill Antkowiak

CORPORATE OFFICERS Executive Chairman Alan Glass President & CEO Peter Hoyt Chief Operating Officer Richard Rivera Chief Brand Officer Jeff Greisch Chief Financial Officer Len Farrell Chief Business Development Officer & President, EnsembleIQ, Canada Korry Stagnito President of Enterprise Solutions/ Chief Customer Officer Ned Bardic Chief Digital Officer Joel Hughes Chief Human Resources Officer Greg Flores



Trusted iconic brands and expert category management deliver real solutions for sustainable growth. Join the Conversation: @HersheyCompany The-Hershey-Company

Note By Jim Dudlicek

Masters Tour


Retailing, like golf, requires a focus not just on the task at hand, but also on what comes next.

etailing is a lot like golf — it requires concentration, precision and a focus not just on the task at hand, but also on what comes next. That’s how we came to select the theme that frames our annual Super 50 ranking of food retailers this year. Much like golfers, there are retailers that are right on par, delivering exactly what’s expected time after time; ones that are adjusting their swing, looking for a better competitive edge; ones that are in the rough, struggling with competitive forces; and ones that are in the hunt for strategic growth opportunities. And, of course, there’s the leaderboard, those carrying the torch for themselves and the industry, setting standards for performance and innovation that others hope to emulate. Among traditional grocers, Kroger tops the leaderboard; we discuss its success in our main report, which starts on page 41. But the leader in sheer volume and sales continues to be Walmart. Firmly in our No. 1 spot, the mega-retailer has been busy beefing up its presence in the digital space as Amazon broadens its sights to include the grocery category. “We are a company of the future,” Walmart President/CEO Doug McMillon recently wrote. “We’ll continue to strengthen our stores around the world, we’ll continue to build our ecommerce and digital capabilities, and we’ll put them together in a way that saves customers time and money.” With its supply chain network and ongoing investments in ecommerce, Walmart may be best equipped to withstand disruptors like etailer Amazon and German hard-discounter Lidl. At No. 6, H-E-B benefits from its commitment to the communities it serves, as well as its team of associates. Operating more than 370 stores in Texas and Mexico, H-E-B recently passed the 100,000-employee milestone, making it the largest privately

Jim Dudlicek Editor-in-Chief Twitter @jimdudlicek


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

held employer in the Lone Star State. Last summer, H-E-B acquired six Sun Fresh Market stores in Dallas, strengthening its position in northern Texas, where it operates the upscale Central Market banner. Further, H-E-B expanded its partnership with ecommerce service Shipt to deliver groceries in its key markets. And it’s beefing up technology to enhance critical communications with employees, who enjoy a company stock ownership plan, perhaps one of the factors that made H-E-B one of’s Best Places to Work in 2017. Also so honored was PG’s 15th-ranked retailer, Wegmans (up two slots from last year), which continues to impress industry observers and its fiercely loyal shoppers with its quality, quantity, consistency, price points and customer experience. Wegmans took second place on The Harris Poll’s latest consumer reputation ranking, scoring high for social responsibility, emotional appeal, workplace environment, products and services, financial performance, and vision and leadership. As a parent company, retailer cooperative Wakefern holds a strong No. 8 position on our ranking. Add in the sales of separately listed ShopRite operators like Village Super Market (No. 40), Foodarama (No. 42) and Inserra ( No. 43), and the brand looks even more formidable. Wakefern has become a leader in online grocery shopping — both click-and-collect and home delivery — which continues to grow as a percentage of its overall sales. Add to that Wakefern’s collaboration on the new “smart fridge” technology, and it’s easy to see why this innovator maintains a strong position among its peers. The co-op reported record sales of $16 billion for its most recent fiscal year, which ended last Oct. 1, a period during which it opened 14 new stores under the ShopRite, Fresh Grocer and Price Rite banners, along with a store boasting a new format, Dearborn Market. “From our retail dietitian program to our expanding private label lines and digital presence,” President/COO Joe Sheridan said last fall, “Wakefern and our supermarket banners are meeting the future head-on to provide great customer experiences in store and online.” Stroll through the Super 50, and then visit The Last Word on page 122, where Meg Major takes a closer look at retailers that are adjusting their swing. PG


©2011 Trion Industries, Inc. 297 Laird Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-6997 Phone 570-824-1000 | Fax 570-823-4080 | Toll-Free in U.S.A. 800-444-4665 | Online Ecommerce purchasing available




■ ■ ■


Talk is



When it comes to deli, shoppers don’t get it. They don’t care about your new equipment and don’t want to figure out menus or be offered pieces and parts of meals. They just want dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast. They’re unhappy with the broken deli experience that limits their ability to provide satisfying meals to their families, and they don’t know what to do about it. But fixing the deli isn’t up to them.

It's on us. The future is shopper-centric and meal-centric. Let's embrace it.

Tired of talking about the broken deli? Let’s change the conversation and do something about it. ™/© 2017 Tyson Foods, Inc.

What’s trending on …

Supervalu Inc.’s acquisition of Unified Grocers for $375 million ranked as the top story on for the March 15-April 14 time period. The deal between the Minneapolis-based wholesaler-distributor-retailer and Unified comprises $114 million in cash for all outstanding stock, plus the assumption and payoff of the Commerce, Calif.-based operator’s debt of $261 million. Another hot topic generating high interest during the 30-day period is the fate of Marsh Supermarkets, which recently closed two Indianapolis-area stores and is expected to close additional locations. Marsh’s store closures, coupled with reports that the Indianapolis-based chain has stopped paying rent on as many as six stores in its home town, have fueled speculation that the struggling retailer is headed for bankruptcy.

“We will make a great team together.” –Mark Gross, president and CEO, Supervalu

Supervalu Acquiring Unified Grocers

“We believe that stories – credible, authentic, human stories – matter more than perhaps anything else.”

Amazon to CPGs: Skip the Stores, Sell Direct


–Mark Tritton, EVP/chief merchandising officer, Target Corp.

Marsh Closing More Stores

–Jessica Adelman, group VP of corporate affairs, The Kroger Co.

Kroger Launches Website to Share Stories, Ideas

“His vast industry expertise will accelerate our plans to bring a unique food and beverage experience to Target guests.”

Target Taps Kroger Vet Jeff Burt to Lead Grocery

Save-A-Lot Names Former Lidl Exec Kenneth McGrath New CEO

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

July 2017 is... National Independent Retailer Month National Ice Cream Month National Picnic Month National Pickle Month National Hot Dog Month









National Ginger Snap Day


Make sure everything is in order to celebrate the country’s birthday on Tuesday.


National Sugar Cookie Day. Offer a free cookie to kids accompanied by an adult.


National Corn Fritters Day


National Vanilla Ice Cream Day


National Chocolate Wafer Day


National Barbecue Day Independence Day


National Piña Colada Day Pick Blueberries Day


National Peach Ice Cream Day. Why not sample some?


Create tasting stations around the store in honor of National Baked Beans Month.


National Mojito Day


National Apple Turnover Day. Have plenty of the delicious treats ready to go, and make sure the freezer case is well stocked, too.


National Pecan Pie Day

National Blueberry Muffin Day


Set up a hot dog cart in the parking lot to celebrate National Hot Dog Month.


National Hot Fudge Sundae Day


In honor of National Picnic Month, have lots of picnic-worthy meals and desserts ready for pickup in the prepared food area.


National Bagelfest Day

National Hot Dog Day


National Cheesecake Day



National Fried Chicken Day


National Strawberry Sundae Day


National Chocolate with Almonds Day. Set up end caps full of candy options.

National Macaroni Day


National French Fries Day. Don’t you wish this could happen every month?


National Ice Cream Sundae Day Fortune Cookie Day


National Chili Dog Day


Hold an in-store celebration — it’s National Independent Retailer Month.


National Tapioca Pudding Day National Gummy Worm Day





National Hamburger Day

National Chicken Wing Day

It’s National Junk Food Day, so entice customers with big displays that will satisfy those “naughty” cravings.

National Milk Chocolate Day

To celebrate National Pickle Month, offer small-batch artisanal pickles as well as tried-and-true favorites.

National Lasagna Day


National Raspberry Cake Day It’s also National Mutt Day. Support your local animal shelter and promote this worthy cause in store.

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Email your calendar submissions to

Front End

Market Intelligence By The Numbers

Shelf Stoppers Stoppers

Packaged Meat Frozen Vegetables

Ethnic Opportunities

ToTal packaged meaT sales reached $24.8 billion in The pasT year


Which consumer group spends the most per trip on breakfast sausage?

5 packaged meat categories (52 weeks ending April Top 2, 2016) $6,000,000,000 5,000,000,000 4,000,000,000

Consumers chose frozen broccoli over alternatives for a variety of reasons:

3,000,000,000 2,000,000,000 1,000,000,000 0


52 Wks - W/e 04/01/17

52 Wks - W/e 04/02/16

breakfasT meaT

52 Wks - W/e 04/04/15

hoT dogs

52 Wks - W/e 04/05/14

refrigeraTed seafood

52 Wks - W/e 04/06/13 deli Trays

“for the last couple of years, the meat department has been in a deflationary position, struggling to see growth. The story is, unfortunately, rather similar for the packaged meat space, where onetime household staples like hot dogs and lunchmeat have experienced dollar declines of 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively. That said, breakfast meat has managed to reverse-trend, posting positive growth of just over 1 percent. While this growth is inflationary for the most part, the category has still fended off declines plaguing fellow packaged meat varieties. With increased emphasis on proper protein intake at all meals of the day, breakfast meat has perhaps homed in on a consumer need for convenient but protein-rich alternatives in their morning meal prep.” —nielsen Vp consumer insights Jordan rost

Spotlight on Frozen Broccoli Demographics

WHEN CONSUMERS EATING FROZEN BROCCOLI? There’s aARE definite ethnic skew in breakfast sausage consumption: african-american households are spending 49 percent more than their expected share on breakfast sauBroccoli as an ingredient is most commonly Frozen broccoli is most often used in a side sage, and interestingly, all other ethnic groups are underindexed in their expenditures consumed at dinner, followed by lunch. dish, followed by as aand main here. asian and hispanic households respectively spend 42 percent 22entrée. percent less than expected on breakfast sausage. larger households with older children also appear to 3% be key demographics for this category. manufacturers and retailers alike would be wise to target high-opportunity households in breakfast sausage messaging. 9%

Cross-merchandising Candidates Top complemenTary producTs for breakfasT sausage OCCASION 29% PrODuct TYPE 62% sugar and sweeteners baking mixes packaged meats-deli desserts, gelatins and syrups DINNERfoods-dry LUNCH OTHER prepared mixes

InDEx 35% 113 112 112 111 SIDE DISH 111


Source: nielsen


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017




because it’s quick and easy

african-american households are spending

10% $4.86

because it tastes per trip great (and are the only multicultural segment to see growth in this figure versus a year ago)


because it’s caucasian healthy and nutritious households spend

$4.32 per trip


asian households spend because it’s low in calories, fat and sugar

$4.29 per trip

hispanic households spend

$4.29 per trip

Source: nielsen homescan, latest 52 weeks ending feb. 25, 2017

Visit Us At the 2017 NRA Food Show Chicago, IL • May 20 - 23 Booth #1831

R&D Culinary Team

The four small words you big sales that

This one is

organic. Because Millennials are all about making smart food choices, you can earn their business by carrying the Blount Organic line of soups, sides, entrees and sauces. Millennials (and all health-conscious shoppers) can choose from exciting and varied recipes that are USDA certified organic, simple and authentic, and that fit busy lifestyles with heat-and-serve convenience. For your share of the 75 million-strong millennial market, call your Blount sales rep at 800-274-2526.



Mintel Global New Products Database Category Insights

Hairstyling Products

For more information, visit or call 800-932-0400.

Market Overview The compound annual growth rate over the next five years is slow, at 0.3 percent. The prevalence of natural-looking hairstyles has had a particularly negative impact on the market: U.S. hairspray/ spritz sales increased just 1 percent between 2013 and 2015, while hairstyling product sales increased 3 percent. key issues Hispanics report higher usage of hairstyling products — 71 percent versus 54 percent overall — and are in turn a key target group. AfricanAmerican consumers are another key target ethnic consumer group. Men’s innovations can expand. Interest in gender-specific styling products is likely driven by Hispanic men who are involved in their appearance, spending more time on their it (23 minutes versus 18 minutes for non-Hispanics), and believing that male-specific products have benefits versus unisex products, such as different scents. In general, 32 percent of U.S. male users of hairstyling products look for gender-specific products, versus 11 percent of women. Further, 37 percent of U.S. men who use hair care products think that men’s hair has different needs from women’s hair, versus 18 percent of women, and 22 percent of men, versus just 7 percent of women, think there should be more hair care products on the market specifically for men. However, only 9 percent of hairstyling product launches in North America this review period were aimed at men. Brands that focus on protecting hair from the elements — as well as on styling — have room to grow further. The healthy halo surrounding recognizable food ingredients is influencing the hair care category, and all-natural (1 percent) and organic (9 percent) innovations are poised to grow.


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Brands could seek to particularly emphasize shine and hair health benefits when targeting Hispanics. Gender-specific hairstyling products are also important to this group and can expand. Food-inspired innovations can expand, given the healthy halo that surrounds recognizable food ingredients. Foodie ingredients recently seen in hairstyling products include quinoa, pineapple juice, coconut water, rice and tomato. Protection claims in the hairstyling market focus on shielding hair against humidity and ultraviolet rays, but growing media attention and consumer awareness of pollution mean opportunities for antipollution claims in hairstyling.


Want to learn more on how to grow? email us:


Retail Guidance RDs can bring perspectives from outside the supermarket world.


ebra Heverling is a registered dietitian/nutritionist, with a background in outpatient nutrition and health coaching. She has been the corporate dietitian/nutritionist for Keene, N.H.-based C&S Wholesale Grocers for nearly four years. Heverling recently shared some insights about her experience as an RD: What’s the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?

I entered the world of supermarket nutrition having never worked in retail. After completing my graduate degree in nutrition and dietetics, I worked in a medical office providing outpatient nutrition services. Part of my job was to offer family-focused nutrition education as part of a grantfunded childhood obesity pilot, through which I conducted grocery store tours for those families. It was a facet of the program that I greatly enjoyed, and I developed an interest in offering this type of community outreach on a larger scale. As C&S’ corporate dietitian/nutritionist, I have been tasked to develop and operate our Eat Right for Life program, which is offered as a service to C&S’ independent retail business customers. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?

Has there been anything specific that has held you back?

With the emphasis on healthier product lines and nutritional claims, I need to stay informed about new items so we can help to educate shoppers on their value in their diet.

Coming from a clinical and coaching background in health and wellness has had its benefits, but the lack of experience in a retail setting has been challenging. Given that we service independent retailers, that also poses a challenge because there are no overarching corporate directives that the participating stores must follow to promote a comprehensive health-and-wellness program. I have had to set realistic expectations around each store’s focus on health and wellness for its shoppers, learning that it’s important to “meet the owners where they are” in terms of prioritizing health and wellness. A big part of my job is to educate them on trends and future directions for health and wellness in retail. What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?

What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?

I have learned to reach out to our retailers for their input. I need to offer them a program that they can embrace and see value in providing to their shoppers. It has also been valuable to work with our procurement teams so that I can develop partnerships with the CPGs and vendors/brokers whose products we distribute. With the emphasis on healthier product lines and nutritional claims, I need to stay informed about new items so we can help to educate shoppers on their value in their diet. Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of, and why.

The Eat Right for Life program is really my baby. Before I was hired, there was no health-and-wellness service available to our independent retail customers. I have been able to develop weekly content for ad circulars, digital content to be shared on store websites and Facebook pages, and in-store signage to promote healthy living with new topics every month. We are currently moving toward a greater in-store health-andwellness presence, with the goal to offer a nutritional shelf tag program. I have also had the opportunity to take over editing/producing a recipes magazine offered to all independent retail customers, even if they are not participating in Eat Right for Life. Throughout my involvement with the magazine, we have offered tips on how to alter recipes to make them healthier. PG

I wish I would have had more knowledge of retail terminology and even a purchasing background. Just because you are a supermarket shopper doesn’t mean you are prepared for the world of retail and wholesale operations.


My role as a corporate dietitian does not offer me the latitude to personally interact with each of our retail customers in their stores. I have tried to overcome this by developing a network of point persons in every store (i.e., the owner and/or an in-store champion) and have worked hard to streamline methods to communicate with these individuals. Whenever possible, I offer turnkey promotional opportunities to help these individuals facilitate instore health-and-wellness events with ease.

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Learn more about Debra Heverling and her programs at and






CONTACT YOUR UNILEVER REP TO ELEVATE YOUR PERSONAL CARE CATEGORY *Euromonitor International Limited; Beauty and Personal Care 2015ed, Men’s Deodorants & Mass and Premium Men’s Fragrances retail value sales combined, as per umbrella brand name classification, 2014; Lynx includes all AXE/Lynx/Ego sales. **Unit sales data 52 W/E Sept. 24, 2016.

©2017 Unilever XTM17006



Talking with…

Rebecca Casey Senior Director, Marketing, TC Transcontinental Packaging

the nation. TC Transcontinental Packaging also has a coast-to-coast network of flexible packaging facilities with a variety of manufacturing capabilities to support our customers and the industry. Progressive Grocer: Robbie Flexibles recently was acquired by Transcontinental, Inc. Can you explain a bit about that acquisition? What does that mean for your company moving forward? Rebecca Casey: The acquisition of Robbie Flexibles by TC Transcontinental was natural and is a privilege. TC Transcontinental’s entrepreneurial experience will undoubtedly help Robbie Flexibles grow and remain a supplier of choice for its customers. The team has worked hard to build their reputation over the years, and we know that TC Transcontinental will continue in this vein while respecting the values that sustain our company and that we both share and foster. In addition, this acquisition will allow us to create opportunities for synergies with TC Transcontinental’s existing facilities nearby.

PG: Robbie is known for using independent, third-party research to gauge consumer sentiments, then taking that data to develop innovative packaging solutions that meet the needs of consumers and retailers alike. What are some of the most innovative, popular packaging solutions you’ve developed using this approach? And will you continue to use this same R&D approach to pursue new product development now that you’re part of Transcontinental, Inc.? RC: TC Robbie has and will continue to spend time researching our industries and consumer trends as well as talking to retailers about what their customers are looking for. With the shift in consumer attitudes towards healthy eating, portion control, and snacking, TC Robbie launched a single serve bakery package and a similar snack size package. This single serve bakery package can hold up to one to two cookies, brownies, muffins or other in-store

PG: Transcontinental is based in Canada. Does that location impact your production process in any way? RC: No. TC Robbie’s facility will remain centrally located in Lenexa, Kansas, the heartland of America. Our strategic location allows for fast and reliable deliveries across


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017


PG: Is there anything new on the horizon that you would like retailers to know about? Any new products or programs you’re ready to launch soon?

baked goods. The small snack size pouch holds savory, salty snacks like peanuts, sunflower seeds or trail mix. Along with the packages, we’ve developed merchandising solutions to helps retailers merchandise the packages in other areas of the store like the deli, dairy and check stands. This helps retailers increase their market basket. PG: Robbie is also known for its outstanding collaborative relationship with retailers. Will that unique, collaborative relationship continue under the new ownership? RC: Most definitely, TC Transcontinental Packaging shares the same values and fosters a similar culture, putting customers at the heart of everything they do. TC Transcontinental’s vast entrepreneurial experience will undoubtedly help us grow and remain a supplier of choice for our customers. We’ve spent a great deal of time and effort collaborating with retailers and becoming their trusted partner. TC Transcontinental has similar experiences working directly with retailers through their integrated offering of creative services, printing services for flyers, catalogs and in-store marketing materials, as well as door-to-door distribution, both companies will share best practices to bring additional value to our retailer customers.

RC: We have watched meal kit deliveries become very popular this year. Meal kits give consumers a fresh, fast and healthy meal option for their family. From meal planning, grocery shopping to clean up— all of this is combined time that working families don’t want to hassle with. Often meal kits can be healthier than other options like fast food or carry-out. More delivery services are coming available, Blue Apron, Amazon’s Private Label Program, HelloFresh and more. All of these home delivery programs are keeping consumers from shopping their local grocery store. TC Robbie’s R & D Department spent several months in the lab developing Oven N’ Done Bags—Fresh Meals Made Easy. The new bag is for use in either the oven or microwave. Consumers can enjoy fresh, fast and healthy seafood, poultry and vegetable meal solutions at lunch or dinner pre-packed by the retailer, complete with a virtually effortless clean up. Retailers will love the increase in their perishable sales, and a new alternative for merchandising fresh seafood. The pouch is intended to be merchandised in the seafood department on ice or in the cold case…and can also be found in the deli. Chefs will use their own seasonings and recipes to deliver these tasty meals. This new product is a great way for retailers to compete with the home meal delivery services. Although consumers will have to make a trip to their local supermarket, they can depend on a healthy meal featuring seafood, chicken and fresh cut vegetables that is ready to cook. May 2017 | |


Store of the Month

Brookshire Brothers Express, Grapeland, Texas


Express Brookshire Brothers demonstrates how great things can come in small formats. By Jim Dudlicek


Photos by Philip Harbuck

here can you get fresh produce, fried chicken, craft beer and a fishing license? For folks in the East Texas community of Grapeland, finding all of that meant driving many miles and stopping at more than one location. That is, until they got a Brookshire Brothers Express store in their town. This 16,000-square-foot store is compact yet chock full of everything local shoppers want most — many of the things you’d find in a much larger grocery store. The Express format is just one of the ways Lufkin, Texas-based Brookshire Brothers has addressed the specific needs of the communities it serves. “The inspiration for this store concept has its roots in the small-store formats that we have operated for the last 20 years,” says John Alston, who ascended to president and CEO of the employee-owned retailer in May after a stint as its COO. “It’s long been a mission of ours to serve the small communities in our operating area. To this end, we have developed several formats through the years tailored to meet the unique needs of these communities. Our Grapeland store is our latest interpretation of this solution.” Brookshire Brothers made sure it was delivering exactly what this rural Houston County community, a two-hour drive southeast of Dallas, wanted when carefully planning how to allot the limited space within the store. “We have a fundamental belief that it’s our mandate to design and select unique item assortments that our customers want,” Alston asserts. “As word circulated in Grapeland that we were going to build a store there, we had numerous requests to include a pharmacy. In fact, a stack of hundreds of letters was personally delivered to me reiterating that request. We listened, included a pharmacy in the design, and it’s off to a great start.”


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

one-StoP ShoPPinG Brookshire Brothers express offers everything from fresh produce and prepared foods to grocery staples and fishing tackle.

Store of the Month

Brookshire Brothers Express, Grapeland, Texas

Convenient Grocery The full-service pharmacy, the first for an Express store, features a drive-up window as well as an immunization room and a LifeClinic self-service health station. Customers needing to do more than just pick up a prescription are greeted outside the store by a selection of locally made wooden outdoor furniture for sale, as well as deer feeders for hunting season. Just inside the front entrance is a display aimed at outdoor cooks, with charcoal, grills and coolers merchandised alongside corn, potatoes, onions and lemons. A little further in, there are fishing tackle and hunting license applications. The market includes a compact produce section featuring fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, caseready meats cut and wrapped on site, deli and prepared foods, craft beers, and core grocery items, with many local products showcased in all departments. Alston describes the store as a “blend of two formats” — grocery and convenience store, with key features of each to best serve local needs. For example, there’s an emphasis on beverages, particularly coffee. Also, the front end features a c-store-type set, with beverages and tobacco products clustered around the checkstands. “During the week, it’ll lean toward convenience,” Alston explains. “We get a good lunch representation. Evenings, people are looking for easy meal solutions. It varies a lot by day and time.” Another strength is prepared foods, with a deli offering sandwiches and hot foods such as Brookshire Brothers’ “famous” fried chicken, along with daily lunch specials, as

tOP OF the liSt Grapeland residents wanted a full-service pharmacy, and Brookshire Brothers delivered, offering prescriptions, OtC items and flu shots.

well as a full breakfast served daily until 10:30 a.m. “We do a lot of fresh prepared here,” Alston says. “We make our own salads and sandwiches, with an emphasis on fresh.” (On the day of PG’s visit, chicken enchiladas were the day’s special — and quite delicious.) But the fried chicken — hand-battered and double-breaded — is a particular point of pride. “It’s not uncommon on a Sunday to get 300-piece orders,” Alston says. Cut fruit is prepared in house for grab-and-go items. And though there’s no full-service butcher shop, meat sold here is cut at the store. “We have a butcher on premises,” Alston notes. “Our meat department is a signature strength of our company, and we wanted to stay true to that.” Continued on page 33

leaderShiP teaM President/CeO John alston, flanked by CFO Clay Oliver and director of retail Operations luke Gustafson


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Talking With…

Don Stohrer, Jr. CEO and President Arla Foods USA

Who is Arla? Based in Viby, Denmark, Arla is a global dairy cooperative owned by 12,700 farmers with a revenue of more than $12 billion worldwide. The company, which has 100 years of experience in the dairy industry, produces a variety of products across several categories and is the fourth largest dairy cooperative and seventh largest dairy business in the world, according to Rabobank’s 2016 Global Dairy Top 20. Arla’s brands include the Arla® brand, Castello® cheeses and Lurpak® butter and spreads. Arla began to expand its presence beyond Europe and into the U.S. dairy aisle in late 2015. The U.S. is a key focus of Arla’s growth strategy; Arla is working to create power brands and build awareness and sales across several dairy categories in America. Arla’s U.S. headquarters is in Basking Ridge, N.J., and the company operates a 110,000-square-foot cheesemaking plant in Hollandtown, Wis.

Question: Why is Arla different than other dairy companies, and well positioned to, in fact, become a leading brand in the U.S. market? Don Stohrer, Jr.: Arla occupies a truly unique space within the U.S. dairy category: our products are great-tasting as well as free from artificial flavors, preservatives and added hormones. Those attributes are pivotal to today’s consumers, who are looking for dairy solutions they can trust, which deliver on greattasting, clean-label needs they require for their families. Those qualities set Arla apart, since many competitive products are either great tasting but not really clean label or clean label but really lack the taste consumers demand. In addition, given that Arla is a cooperative we control the entire value chain – we are truly farmto-fridge. The products consumers buy from Arla begin with Arla milk, which is produced with strict adherence to industry-leading environmental, animal welfare and sustainability standards.

Based on Arla’s DNA as a cooperative, we’re able to give consumers what they’re looking for because we use only simple, recognizable ingredients and because we are the manufacturer. That truly distinguishes Arla from competition in the U.S. Arla’s Original Cream Cheese, for example, has only four ingredients. Q: As you expand in the U.S., what are some other ways that Arla is working on to grow the category? DS: Innovation is key to growth, and that includes wholesome, inventive dairy products that also happen to be clean label. One area of innovation for Arla is providing unique flavors and convenient formats, with growthdriving cheese types such as Havarti and Gouda cheese slices and all-natural Strawberry cream cheese and Mediterranean Garden cream cheese, which is infused with authentic flavors of that region. Packaging is focus of innovation at Arla. With consumers looking for on-the-go solutions and continuing



| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

to snack throughout the day, we’ve recently launched a range of snack cheeses that provide consumers with delicious, nutritious snack options, available in Havarti, Gouda and Cheddar. Later this year, we’ll be launching a squeezable cream cheese tube, perfect for families looking for a fun, unique way to add Arla cream cheese to their bagels and toast. Q: In addition to product innovations, what are some other aspects of building the Arla name and expanding the category presence? DS: New users are important to the future success of any product and category. Thanks to the unique cheese types and cream cheese flavors we’ve launched, data shows that Arla is bringing incremental users into the category. Quite simply at the outset, the consumer has begun to get to know Arla purely by picking up our products in-store. The bottom line is that today’s parents are much more aware and vigilant regarding foods that they bring into their homes, and that’s created momentum for us since Arla is seen as a trusted solution for their needs. Until now, those clean label, truly kid-appealing dairy products were harder to find. From a business perspective, our entry is mutually beneficial for Arla and our customers, as we’ve seen incrementality since our entry. Twenty percent of Arla Cheese sales from a particular customer, for instance, drove 80 percent of the incremental revenue to that natural cheeses category. That kind of growth brings life to a category and shows that Arla products are what today’s consumers demand.

DS: We have really taken a multi-faceted approach to establishing ourselves in the U.S. market, to fulfill Arla’s global “Good Growth” strategy of creating the future of dairy by bringing health and inspiration to the world, naturally. In addition to bringing a certain “newness” to the dairy aisle with our variety of products, we’ve embarked on a journey to break through a category that has been somewhat static for a while, with a unique marketing campaign that rolled out in April. This began with a $30 million media investment across more than 20 national cable networks, broadcast and video on demand, as well as digital, social media, print and in-store retail support. The campaign, called “Live Unprocessed”, sheds light on ingredients that many competitors use in their products, and aren’t in Arla’s products. It’s a fresh, fun campaign that features the unprocessed minds of kids’ and their animated interpretations of “weird” sounding ingredients like xanthan gum and rBST found in other dairy products. Those commercials tested extremely well among consumers with strong purchase intent — especially with moms — and the campaign features flights in the spring and key back-to-school season, to share that message and drive Arla sales. In a more general way, Arla’s brand is built around the inherent product attributes, in providing the combination of better-for-you ingredients and great taste. Consumers also like to learn about the authenticity of products, and the fact that our 12,700 farmers are truly farm-to-table producers whose core values are rooted in environmental responsibility, animal welfare, sustainability and doing things the right way really resonates with them. Ultimately, in expanding our presence and categories, we hope to create the future of dairy by bringing health and inspiration across the world and right to people and their families. n

Q: Given the fact that you’re in your third year of a more significant presence in the U.S., how is Arla working on building its name and brand awareness among retailers and consumers alike? SPONSORED CONTENT

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Brookshire Brothers Express, Grapeland, Texas

Store of the Month

EAT yOur COlOrS The store’s bounty of fresh food includes meat cut on premise and flavored with local seasonings, plus cut fruit in handy to-go cups.

Continued from page 28

The store’s meat case also includes local items like sausage by Renfro in Lufkin, where the retailer has its headquarters, as well as value-added meats made with the locally popular TexJay seasoning. Store-brand smoked sausage carries the 1921 brand, honoring the year Brookshire Brothers was founded. Additionally, craft beer is “a growing category for us,” according to Luke Gustafson, director of retail operations. “We’re having a lot of success with that in the Express format.” “We make sure to carry product specific to the region,” notes Alston. “We looked at customer movement overall and picked the best of the best, and continually review the performance.” All of the products are showcased amid a motif designed by an Austin, Texas-based

The most rewarding part of our project in Grapeland has been the outpouring of support we have received from the community.” —John Alston, president/CEO

agency that developed a new branding image for Brookshire Brothers’ larger stores; Alston says that image has translated well to the Express stores. “We were able to take that down for the smaller format, an industrial, vintage feel,” he says of the store’s rustic graphic treatments.

Community Minded To be sure, the community’s needs are foremost on the minds of the team at Brookshire Brothers, in part stemming from the company’s employee ownership and local ties to the area. Case in point: Billy Harrington, manager of the Grapeland store, is a 21-year company veteran who grew up 8 miles from this store, started as a bagger at age 16 and has worked at stores in several towns throughout East Texas. According to Sally Alvis, senior director of marketing and public relations, “He was the natural choice to run this store.” For Harrington, it’s all about the “family feel formed on family and community. I really appreciate that.” In fact, the retailer’s latest TV spots feature employees telling their stories of working in the community, centered on the theme of “shopping with someone you know.” Alston adds: “It’s common to have people with 20, 30, 40, even 50 years with us. The employee ownership really plays into it. If we’re successful, it benefits all of us.” Continued on page 38

iCE-COld SAlES The Express format does a brisk beer business, including many local and craft varieties.

May 2017 | |


Brookshire Brothers Express, Grapeland, Texas

Store of the Month

Brookshire Brothers Express #112 1111 N. Highway 287 Grapeland, Texas 75844 Grand opening: Oct. 26, 2016 Total square footage: 16,080 Selling area: 8,840 square feet SKUs: 5,800 Employees: 30 Checkouts: 3, plus 1 in pharmacy Hours: Store: 6 a.m.-9 p.m., 7 days a week; Pharmacy: Monday-Friday: 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m., closed Sunday Designer: Brookshire Brothers Store Planning; Heights Venture Architects, Plano, Texas May 2017 | |



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Store of the Month

Brookshire Brothers Express, Grapeland, Texas

Brookshire Brothers History The first Brookshire Brothers store, started by brothers Austin and Tom Brookshire, opened on Sept. 21, 1921. Several cousins and a few friends eventually joined the company, which grew to 33 Brookshire Brothers stores in East Texas by the end of the decade. In 1929, Wood Brookshire and a cousin, W.A. Brookshire, withdrew from the company, taking with them four stores to launch Tyler, Texas-based Brookshire Grocery Co., which operates to this day independently from Brookshire Brothers. In 1952, the company bought Moore Grocery and Lufkin Produce Co. At the same time, Brookshire Brothers entered the wholesale trade and began selling to other stores. By 1968, Brookshire Brothers moved to the west loop in Lufkin, where it built and operated a facility for about 10 years until a final move to the corporate office and warehouse from which it operates today. The company’s first pharmacy opened in 1992; it now operates 73 stores or free-standing locations. It opened Tobacco Barn in 1997; a decade later, the company’s c-store and fuel business expanded through its merger with Polk Oil Co. Its grocery assets blossomed in 2014 through the acquisition of David’s Supermarkets, expanding its footprint into north central Texas. Today, Brookshire Brothers is 100 percent employee- owned, operating 115 retail outlets, including grocery stores and convenience stores, as well as free-standing tobacco, pharmacy and petro locations. Its footprint stretches east to Lake Charles, La.; west to Dublin, Texas; north to Whitesboro, Texas; and south to Ganado, Texas.

fOr GOOdneSS Slake ice-cold beverages are merchandised up front as a convenience for on-the-go shoppers.

Continued from page 33

Brookshire Brothers isn’t shy about its community outreach, especially in this rural food desert that’s home to many impoverished families. The retailer offers Brown Bags of Hope, sacks of grocery staples that shoppers can purchase to be distributed to those in need. Local police often carry the bags in their cars to hand out along their beats as needed, Harrington notes. In addition, the retailer provides bags of school supplies and toiletries for distribution at local schools. “Customers purchase these bags, but we make sure they get to the pantries, the churches, the school counselors,” Alvis says. ‘We give our customers the vehicle to do good things.”

Outpouring of Support Brookshire Brothers evaluates its formats to monitor how shoppers are responding to the individualized item assortments of each store. So far, the retailer feels that its Express stores give it a competitive edge. “Our category managers monitor overall category and specific item movement to ensure that the right variety has Part Of tHe cOMMunity Brookshire Brothers’ local outreach includes Brown Bags of Hope, which shoppers can purchase at checkout for donation to needy families.


been selected for each particular location,” Alston explains. “We feel that for the niche markets we serve, this format is positioned well as a viable alternative to traditional convenience and limited-variety discount operators.” As such, the format is an important part of the company’s diverse offerings. “We view our Express format as a complement to our overall growth plan,” Alston says. “As we expand our geographic footprint as a whole, the Express format, and the flexibility it provides, gives us the ability to meet the needs of the evolving Texas and Louisiana market areas.” The Grapeland project has been warmly embraced from the start. “The community put up their own sign on the property,” to announce the store’s arrival, Alvis recounts. “Before we had the groundbreaking, someone came out and mowed. I think the whole town came out” for the ceremony, and one person even brought a cake. “The most rewarding part of our project in Grapeland to this point has been the outpouring of support we have received since we announced our plans to build,” Alston says. “We’ve received a great response from the community, and we’re very pleased with our results.” PG

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

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Aces and duffers alike face challenges, leverage opportunities to boost their positions on the cutthroat course. By Meg Major, Jim Dudlicek, Bridget Goldschmidt, Randy Hofbauer and Katie Martin

“The road to success is always under construction.” — Arnold Palmer


he quote above as true in golf as it is in business, and certainly grocery retailing is no exception. Increasingly with each passing year, supermarket operators are forced to review, refine and, in many cases, reinvent the way they operate. Smart retailers keep one eye keenly fixed on the next drive and the other over their shoulder, trained on their competition. And competition is everywhere these days — next door, across the street, online, pulling up in a delivery van or maybe even dropped from above by a drone. To be sure, Amazon is the wild card in this high-stakes match. The etailer is delving deeper into grocery, including the fresh side, and even experimenting with brick-and-mortar locations where customers can both pick up online orders and shop for live product, and pay electronically without checkstands. Amazon has been named as a potential buyer of Whole Foods Market by some, B.J.’s Wholesale Club by others.

As is PG’s custom every year, we’ve ranked the industry’s top 50 food retailers, based on the total sales generated in their most recent fiscal years. Breaking down the key players, our editorial team decided a golf theme would be appropriate to frame its analysis. To that end, we’ve pursued a course as follows: On the Leaderboard: The market leaders, its dominant players, maintaining a firm grasp on their leadership positions in the industry. Adjusting Their Swing: These retailers are taking steps to refine their games to better serve their customers and improve their competitive edge. In the Hunt: These retailers are actively working to boost their position in the marketplace, through mergers and acquisitions, by expanding into new territories, or by launching new initiatives to demonstrate their relevance amid their competitive field. In the Rough: These retailers are historically strong companies, but are struggling to maintain their positions as they weather current market conditions. On Par: These are the stalwarts, retailers that are maintaining their positions by satisfying their core shoppers and staying the course. So with that — fore! May 2017 | |




2017 2016 Rank Rank


Fiscal Year-end Sales (000)

No. of Supermarkets



2017 Contenders

Employees (Total or Full-time Equivalents)


Walmart Supercenter Walmart Neighborhood Market

1,284,668 FTE

Top Banners



Wal-Mart Stores Inc.* Bentonville, Ark.



The Kroger Co. Cincinnati



Kroger Harris Teeter Ralphs

237,873 FTE



AB Acquisition LLC Boise, Idaho



Safeway Albertsons Vons

276,000 TOTAL



Ahold Delhaize Quincy, Mass./Salisbury, N.C.



Food Lion Stop & Shop Hannaford

220,000 TOTAL



Publix Super Markets, Inc. Lakeland, Fla.



Publix Publix Sabor Publix GreenWise

191,000 TOTAL



H-E-B Grocery Co. San Antonio



H-E-B H-E-B Plus H-E-B Central Market

80,000 TOTAL



Meijer Inc. Grand Rapids, Mich.




70,000 TOTAL



Wakefern Food Corp. Keasbey, N.J.



ShopRite Price Rite The Fresh Grocer

16,830 FTE



Whole Foods Market Inc. Austin, Texas



Whole Foods Market 365 By Whole Foods Market

87,000 TOTAL



Aldi US Inc. Batavia, Ill.



Aldi Food Store

25,000 TOTAL



Southeastern Grocers LLC Jacksonville, Fla.



Winn-Dixie Bi-Lo Harveys

60,000 TOTAL



Trader Joe’s Co. Monrovia, Calif.



Trader Joe’s

9,453 FTE



Hy Vee Inc. West Des Moines, Iowa




84,000 TOTAL



Giant Eagle Inc. Pittsburgh



Giant Eagle Giant Eagle Market District

34,000 TOTAL



Wegmans Food Markets Inc. Rochester, N.Y.




47,000 TOTAL



Target Corp. Minneapolis




65,515 FTE



WinCo Foods Inc. Boise, Idaho




17,000 TOTAL



Defense Commissary Arlington, Va.



DeCA Commissary

15,000 TOTAL



Supervalu Inc. Eden Prairie, Minn.



Shop ‘N Save Cub Foods Shoppers Food Warehouse

29,000 TOTAL



Smart & Final Inc. Los Angeles



Smart & Final Extra Smart & Final Cash & Carry

11,949 TOTAL



Stater Bros. Markets San Bernardino, Calif.



Stater Bros

18,000 TOTAL



The Save Mart Cos. Modesto, Calif.



Save Mart Lucky Food Maxx

15,500 TOTAL



Sprouts Farmers Market Phoenix



Sprouts Farmers Market

24,000 TOTAL



Price Chopper/ The Golub Corp. Schenectady, N.Y.



Price Chopper Market Bistro by Price Chopper Market 32

11,898 FTE



Ingles Markets Inc. Asheville, N.C.



Ingles Sav-Mor

26,500 TOTAL

* Sales figure represents total U.S. annual sales; retailer doesn’t break out sales by retail format. Source: Nielsen TDLinx, March 2017; Progressive Grocer Market Research, 2017


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017


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2017 2016 Rank Rank


2017 Contenders

Fiscal Year-end Sales (000)

No. of Supermarkets

Top Banners

Employees (Total or Full-time Equivalents)




Demoulas Supermarkets Inc./ Market Basket Tewksbury, Mass.



Market Basket

8,068 FTE



Raleys Supermarkets Inc. West Sacramento, Calif.



Raley’s Bel Air Market Nob Hill

12,000 TOTAL



Weis Markets, Inc. Sunbury, Pa.




23,000 TOTAL



Save-A-Lot Earth City, Mo.




10,474 FTE



Key Food Stores Co-operative Inc. Staten Island, N.Y.



Key Food Food Universe Key Food Marketplace

4,325 FTE



Schnuck Markets Inc. St. Louis



Schnucks Culinaria

14,000 TOTAL



Tops Markets Inc. Williamsville, N.Y.



Tops Friendly Markets

14,800 TOTAL



Brookshire Grocery Co. Tyler, Texas



Brookshire Super 1 Spring Market

8,025 FTE



K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. Abingdon, Va.



Food City Super Dollar

7,002 FTE



SpartanNash Co. Grand Rapids, Mich.



Family Fare D & W Fresh Markets Sun Mart Foods

14,700 TOTAL



Houchens Industries Inc. Bowling Green, Ky.



Save-A-Lot IGA Food Giant

8,913 FTE



Big Y Foods Inc. Springfield, Mass.



Big Y

11,000 TOTAL



The Fresh Market Inc. Greensboro, N.C.



The Fresh Market

10,000 TOTAL



Bashas’ Inc. Chandler, Ariz.



Bashas’ Food City AJ’s Fine Foods

5,313 FTE



Village Super Market Inc. Springfield, N.J.




6,544 TOTAL



Grocery Outlet Inc. Emeryville, Calif.



Grocery Outlet

7,230 FTE



Foodarama Supermarkets Inc. Freehold, N.J.




3,905 FTE



Inserra Supermarkets Inc. Mahwah, N.J.




3,068 FTE



Fiesta Mart Inc. Houston



Fiesta Mart

5,385 FTE



Woodman’s Food Markets Inc. Janesville, Wis.



Woodman’s Food Market

2,755 FTE



Bodega Latina Paramount, Calif.



El Super

3,494 FTE



Lowe’s Pay-N-Save Food Stores Inc. Littlefield, Texas



Lowe’s Food King Lowe’s Big 8

3,714 FTE



Central Grocers Inc. Joliet, Ill.



Strack & Van Til Ultra Warehouse Foods

3,249 FTE



Alex Lee Inc. Hickory, N.C.



Lowes Food Stores Just$ave

9,000 TOTAL



Marc Glassman Inc. Cleveland




5,727 FTE

* Sales figure represents total U.S. annual sales; retailer doesn’t break out sales by retail format. Source: Nielsen TDLinx, March 2017; Progressive Grocer Market Research, 2017


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

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The Super 50 Methodology Information for Progressive Grocer’s annual Super 50 is compiled from direct guidance from retailers and/or data sourced from public records, including 10K, annual reports and corporate websites. For privately held companies, results are based on information from Nielsen TDLinx, which collects and maintains store information across all channels selling consumer packaged goods. The four categories within the Super 50 report include annual sales from the most recently concluded fiscal year, store count, top banners and employee counts, either total or full-time equivalents. Full-time equivalent employees are the sum of regular workers, plus one-half the number of part-time employees. Nielsen TDLinx uses Food Marketing Institute’s definition of a supermarket: a grocery store with a minimum of $2 million in annual sales; its data omit sales from convenience, drug and other retail channels that may be part of total revenue for some companies. Wholesale membership clubs such as Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club are also not included. Supercenters are included, but only for their grocery-equivalent

2017 Contenders

merchandise. Not included are soft goods; clothing; general merchandise such as hardware, appliances, computers and auto service; and other items not common to supermarkets. Sales estimates from Nielsen TDLinx are presented in terms of all-commodity volume (ACV), which is defined as an annualized range of the estimated retail sales volume of all items sold at a retail site that pass through the retailer’s cash registers. Nielsen TDLinx’s ACV is an estimate based on best available data — a directional measure to be used as an indicator of store and account size, not an actual retail sales report. All data are collected by Nielsen TDLinx from a wide range of independent sources, and then enhanced with computer modeling. Information shown is from the March 2017 database. Take a deeper dive into PG’s Super 50 with the Marketing Guidebook Advantage, which is updated daily and provides a versatile online database with in-depth company profiles, market share analytics and contact information. Retailers included in the Marketing Guidebook Advantage include the nation’s top 100 food retailers, as well as more than 2,000 other retail chains and distributors. For more information, visit, call 813-713-4301 or contact

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2017 Contenders

On the Leaderboard D

espite deflationary headwinds that broke its 13year streak of same-store sales growth earlier this year, The Kroger Co. is still a powerhouse, growing its sales by some $5 billion in the past year to maintain its status as the nation’s largest traditional grocer and No. 2 on PG’s Super 50. The Cincinnatibased retailer’s accomplishments speak for themselves: 12 consecutive years of market share growth; record-high unit share of its corporate brands portfolio, including a $1.7 billion year for its Simple Truth brand; mergers with specialty pharmacy leader ModernHealth and Murray’s Cheese; and the creation of 12,000 jobs. “Kroger has always focused on executing against our long-term strategy,” says Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen. “We are lowering costs to invest those savings in our people, our business and the technologies to position Kroger to deliver the value proposition customers are seeking today and in the future.” Kroger isn’t letting up on its investments to ensure its relevance against disruptors that are chipping away at traditional grocers’ market share. It’s aggressively expanding its click-and-collect services, adding more than 420 ClickList and ExpressLane locations in 2016, bringing its total online ordering locations to more than 640. Kroger is staying on top of trends like health and wellness and fresh prepared foods, which will continue to be a significant focus. Regarding the former, Kroger anticipates continued growth in its Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic lines, making its products available throughout the country online, a channel in which it’s successful in markets like New York City, where the retailer has no brick-andmortar presence — but very well could, if speculation that Kroger will next acquire Whole Foods Market proves true.

(For more on the leaderboard, read this month’s Editor’s Note.)

— Jim Dudlicek


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Adjusting Their Swing


s it continues to enhance its multiformat strategy with an eye on maximizing costs and streamlining its supply chain, Giant Eagle, standing at No. 14, has been taking a series of steps. Confronting the various challenges of heightened competition, deflation and shifting consumer preferences, the Pittsburgh-based company has made some difficult but necessary decisions to help it sharpen its focus on finding new and unique ways to motivate its base. Highlights of its recent strategic adjustments include more aggressive everyday prices on popular produce items, the use of more targeted digital communications, its click-and-collect Curbside Express, and continued investments in remodeling its stores. Honored as PG’s 2016 Retailer of the Year, Giant Eagle has also dipped its toe into the home delivery market with the launch of the first phase of its Curbside Express Home Delivery pilot in the South Hills section of its hometown.



In the Hunt


ighest on the list of those grocers determined to crush the competition is Boise, Idaho-based AB Acquisitions LLC (No. 3), parent company of the Albertsons, Safeway and Vons banners, among others across the country. In the two years since the AlbertsonsSafeway merger, the grocer has built 23 groundup stores and acquired 151 locations. But it hasn’t stopped there — it’s shown interest in acquiring Schenectady, N.Y.-based Golub Corp.’s Price Chopper banner, itself No. 24 on PG’s ranking; Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market (up three spaces from last year, at No. 23); and Whole Foods Market, in Austin Texas (No. 9). At No. 4, Amsterdam-based Ahold Delhaize, also reinvigorated by its recent merger, is moving swiftly to create a more decentralized merchandising model to better position its regional U.S. banners in their local markets. As Frans Muller, acting COO of Salisbury, N.C.based Delhaize America.and Kevin Holt, COO of Quincy, Mass.-based Ahold USA explained to PG in February, the company’s brand-centric strategy will enable its regional operating divisions to have distinctive commercial strategies tailored to local markets with dedicated

Beyond those efforts, the 223-store regional retailer offered buyouts to approximately 1 percent of the 34,000-member workforce at its corporate office. Other recent economizing measures undertaken by Giant Eagle included the closures

of five supermarkets and four GetGo convenience stores in Ohio, Maryland, and Altoona, Pa. (For more on who’s adjusting their swing, read The Last Word on page 122.)

— Meg Major

2017 Contenders

resources, including category merchandising, assortment, pricing, promotions, marketing and format teams. The brand-centric structure is expected to be complete by early 2018. In addition, Ahold Delhaize’s newly created Retail Business Services divsion will leverage the company’s scale to drive synergies and best practices while providing industry-leading expertise, insights and analytics to its regional banners to support their respective strategies, including commercial and other support services. To that end, a series of executive appointments were made in late April to accelerate a decentralized strategy for better regional expertise. Publix Super Markets, meanwhile, at No. 5, is moving ahead with its northern invasion, planning to open its first two stores in Virginia, with additional growth slated for its existing footprint of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina, and also rebooting the natural/organic GreenWise banner in its home state. The Lakeland, Fla.-based grocer is also building on its partnership with Nemours Children’s Health System by opening two on-campus pharmacies at Nemours facilities so far. Meijer, clocking in at No. 7, has opened two Indianapolis-area supercenters and introduced home grocery delivery across its entire six-state footprint, through a partnership with Birmingham, Ala.-based Shipt. The Grand Rapids, Mich.-based supercenter retailer’s expansion plans are currently focused on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where it’s prepping to debut its first two stores this month. Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi US, up three notches from last year, at No. 10, has embarked on a $1.6 billion remodeling and expansion program of more than 1,300 of its U.S. stores by 2020 while hewing to an accelerated growth plan to open 650 new locations across the United States, investing more than $3 billion to bring its total to nearly 2,000 supermarkets by the end of 2018. The additional stores and upgrades may place the company in a better position as it braces for the onslaught of fellow German hard-discounter Lidl — a major competitor of Aldi in Europe — starting as early as this summer in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. May 2017 | |




2017 Contenders

Down at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers (No. 11), change is in the air in the shape of additional rollouts of the company’s Hispanic-themed Fresco y Más banner in south Florida — a total of 11 are now open — and its refreshed Harveys format in 70plus locations in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida last year, following the launch of a new Winn-Dixie concept store in its hometown. No. 13 on the Super 50 list — up two rungs from last year — West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee has revealed the restructuring of several corporate departments to grow three key areas — IT, HealthMarkets and restaurant development — and the addition of almost 70 new positions to its corporate staff. This follows the expansion of its corporate headquarters across two locations last autumn. Additionally, the grocer has boosted its presence in Minnesota, where it has operated since 1969, by opening several locations over the past few years in the Twin Cities area. Coming in at No. 27, West Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley’s has introduced a store concept focused on health and wellness and greater sustainability in its hometown market, with plans to open five more over the next 18 months, as well as rolling out an enhanced version of its eCart click-and-collect program across the Bay Area. Meanwhile, Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets (No. 28), having undertaken a flurry of acquisitions from Mars Super Markets, Ahold Delhaize’s Food Lion banner and Nell’s Family Market, converted all 44 locations to the Weis banner in just 96 days last fall and grew its store base to 204 locations across seven states. As a result of these new stores, this past March, the company posted a whopping Q4 sales increase of 17.6 percent and noted that in 2016, it generated more than $3 billion in sales for the first time in its 104year history. What’s more, earlier this year, the grocer introduced a more experiential store concept on Harrisburg, Pa.’s West Shore that features an ice cream parlor, a pub and adjacent café, a food court, servicefocused fresh departments, a drive-thru pharmacy, a fuel center, and online ordering with in-store pickup. And, as this issue went to press, the retailer revealed an ambitious $90 million cap ex plan for the coming year. SpartanNash, at No. 33, saw fit to grow its wholesale capabilities through the acquisition of Indianapolis-based Caito Foods’ produce distribution and fresh-cut fruit and vegetable businesses, along with its newly constructed Fresh Kitchen facility, designed to process and package fresh-prepared foods, and the logistics business of Caito’s Blue Ribbon Transport operations. According to Dennis Eidson, CEO and chairman of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based SpartanNash, set to be succeeded when he retires this month by COO David Staples, the complementary acquisition “further strengthens our platform and enhances our ability to help our customers serve their consumers, benefiting our associates and the communities we serve.” K-VA-T Food Stores (No. 34), based in Abingdon, Va., which in 2015 acquired and converted to its Food City banner 29 Bi-Lo stores from Southeastern Grocers, is continuing to hone its stores, as the location that debuted last year in Johnson City, Tenn., and the six revamped stores in the Chattanooga, Tenn., market amply attest. The new and/or improved supermarkets offer such features as state-of-the-art refrigerated cases, an enhanced meat and seafood service area, a fresh food bar, and café seating, as well as an expanded hot bar and pizza case, and a growler station with craft beers on tap.

— Bridget Goldschmidt


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

In the Rough


small number of food retailers have struggled more than others to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive market over the past year. Take Whole Foods Market (No. 9), for instance. Once the darling of, and a pioneer in, the natural and organic grocery sector, the Austin, Texas-based retailer is finding it hard to maintain its footing as food prices deflate and traditional and hard-discount grocers build up their own natural and organic programs. In February, the grocer posted its sixth consecutive quarter of declining comparable-store sales, during quarter one of fiscal 2017. It also plans to shutter the remaining two of its three commissaries, as well as closing more stores than it’s opening in quarter two. Ready to make a change, New York-based investment firm Jana Partners and several food retail experts in April purchased a 9 percent stake in Whole Foods, collectively making them the chain’s secondlargest investor. The group revealed its intent to hold discussions with the retailer’s board and management regarding such topics as changing board and management makeup, advancing brand development, and addressing deficiencies in areas such as customer loyalty, analytics, and other digital and marketing capabilities. There’s also the possibility of a push for Whole Foods’ outright sale. Around the time that the new investors took their share, Bloomberg

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reported that Seattle-based ecommerce giant Amazon had considered a takeover of the chain last fall but didn’t follow through — though it could still be in the running. As this issue went to press, experts were speculating that Kroger was mulling a bid for the grocer, and that Albertsons parent Cerberus Capital Management was in preliminary talks with bankers about making one. Whole Foods isn’t the only beleaguered chain under scrutiny by third-ranked Albertsons. Following rumors

2017 Contenders

that Northeastern grocery chain Price Chopper (No. 24) was up for sale last year, Reuters reported in November that the Boise, Idaho-based company was in “advanced talks” to acquire the chain for about $1 billion. Both companies declined to comment on the report. In the meantime, Price Chopper is continuing the conversion of its namesake locations to fresh-focused Market 32 stores. Spokeswoman Mona Golub told PG last August that following the “tremendous customer response” to Market 32, the company has formed a board finance committee to explore capital partnerships to accelerate the conversions. Other grocers appear to be in even more dire straits, in particular two regional operators. A year after revealing an ambitious 30-store remodeling plan, Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets (which missed being included in PG’s Super 50 ranking this year) was reported by creditors as defaulting on its bills for rent and contracting services. The grocer has since announced a spate of store closings. Also in the Midwest, Joliet, Ill.-based grocery cooperative Central Grocers (No. 46) revealed plans in April to sell 22 Strack & Van Til stores and close nine of its Ultra Foods-bannered locations, citing fierce competitive forces. Also, at press time, it was poised to sell its warehouse, from which it supplies independent grocers with Centrella brand products. The news came after Strack & Van Til, during the prior 18 months, had launched a new concept store and expanded its ecommerce curbside pickup program.

On Par


hese companies have successful long and short games, driving off the tee straight down the fairway and draining putts, avoiding the rough and hazards for the most part. They addressed top consumer demands like smaller store footprints and healthier lifestyles while adopting new efficiencies to spur growth. Commerce, Calif.-based Smart & Final Stores (No. 20), named one of Fortune’s 2017 World’s Most Admired Companies (coming in at No. 5 in the Food & Drug category) completed its transition of 33 former Haggen locations to Smart & Final Extra stores. The acquisition is part of the company’s Project 100 initiative, which aims to open 100 new stores in the next four years. In addition to the Haggen conversions, Smart & Final converted six legacy Smart & Final stores to the new Extra format, relocated six legacy stores and closed eight others to now operate a total of 305 locations.


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

— Randy Hofbauer

The chain implemented an integrated, end-to-end merchandising, planning and execution solution to transform its supply chain processes for the age of “my way” retailing, and updated its software platform to drive higher margins through improved demand forecasting, increased inventory control and enhanced operational efficiencies. During its 80th-anniversary celebration in 2016, Stater Bros. Markets ( No. 21) opened its first store in Simi Valley, Calif., also its first in Ventura County. During the opening ceremonies for the supermarket, the San Bernardino, Calif.-based company donated $14,000 to local community organizations. The planned opening of another five supermarkets was announced earlier this year.



Produced by


The company, which recently reduced its lighting energy use by 50 percent in all 169 of its stores, was named by Forbes as one of the top 20 companies to offer exceptional job security for employees. To provide more healthful options to consumers, Tops Markets Inc. (No. 32) reformulated its Tops brand of products, which is available in its 172 corporate supermarkets and five franchised locations, to contain cleaner, simpler ingredients. The Williamsville, N.Y.-based chain was honored with two-health related awards in the past year: It earned a 2016 Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America award from the Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress, coming in at No. 41 on the list, and was recognized as a 2016 Healthiest Employer by Syracuse Media Group. In addition to a focus on health, the chain remodeled stores acquired through the Ahold Delhaize merger. It also reported a 2.4 percent increase of inside sales to $2.3 billion in fiscal 2016. Brookshire Grocery Co. (No. 33), now operating 177 stores, took itself off the acquisition table last year and decided to expand instead, acquiring 25 Walmart Express stores in Texas and Louisiana. The new small-format banner — Spring Market, so named after the first Brookshire store, which was located on Spring Street in the company’s hometown of Tyler, Texas — features a full shopping experience with produce, dairy, bakery, grocery, and health and beauty care within just 12,000 square feet. The company also streamlined operations by closing its production bakery and selling its ice cream, dairy and water manufacturing plants. “With an abundant offering of quality product now available through the supplier community,” said Chairman and CEO Brad Brookshire, “this decision made sense on a number of levels.” Big Y Foods Inc. ( No. 37) added eight stores in eastern Massachusetts cast off by the Ahold Delhaize merger. The company retained 1,084 former Hannaford employees, bringing the total to more than 11,000 associates working at 79 locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. The chain, based in Springfield, Mass., also focused on providing its customers with access to affordable health care by opening the first Johnson Memorial Hospital-affiliated retail health clinic. “Our customers already enjoy the ease and convenience of one-stop shopping by being able to have their prescriptions filled while shopping for groceries and nutritional meal solutions,” said Nicole D’Amour Schneider, director of pharmacy. “To now offer the added accessibility of this low-cost health care facility is just one more way in which we can help enhance the services available to our local community and neighbors.” PG

— Katie Martin

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Candy & Snacks

Good Enough to Eat Ingredients, formats adapt to meet demands for healthier, portable products. By Bridget Goldschmidt

W Candy is currently ranked last in ease of shopping, and [stand-up pouches] will enable shoppers to find items faster.” —Larry Lupo, Mars Chocolate North America


ith snacking on the rise among all consumers, especially a certain highly coveted and wellpublicized demographic, it’s safe to say that candy and salty/savory snacks will continue to loom large on the American food landscape, but these mainstay items are adapting in response to shopper and retailer needs. Chief among these needs are innovative product formulation and presentation. “Due to increased health awareness and education, more and more consumers are seeking clean-label products made with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives,” notes Eric Van Der Wal, VP of marketing at Clearview Foods, the better-foryou snack division of Charlotte, N.C.-based Snyder’s-Lance Inc. “Gluten-free, organic and products made with non-GMO ingredients are becoming particularly popular.” “We are seeing more emphasis on the nutrition value, ingredients and smaller serving sizes in candy and snacks,” asserts Rob Auerbach, president of Louisville, Ky.-based CandyRific, a maker of licensed novelty products. “It’s in perfect harmony with what is going on in the mainstream grocery.”

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Sweet Shop Although Nielsen figures for the 52 weeks ending March 11 show overall candy dollar sales down 0.2 percent, the $5.3 billion category’s chocolate candy miniatures segment is a bright spot, with dollar sales gains of 4.3 percent. Larry Lupo, VP of sales for grocery, convenience and drug channels at Hackettstown, N.J.based Mars Chocolate North America, agrees that small is big. “The bite-sized category is projected to grow as treating becomes more prevalent, especially with Millennials,” he says, citing Kantar research. “Shoppers are looking for bitesized treats that are easy to consume and offer portion control in a portable, resealable format.” New to the company’s U.S. lineup are Maltesers, the No. 1 bite-sized candy in the United Kingdom, according to Mars. Portion control is also addressed by the company’s 100 Calorie Sticks for Snickers, Twix, Milky Way and Dove Chocolate. The packaging of some of Mars’ signature brands has evolved as well. “The stand-up pouch format drives both dollar and unit sales, so we’re converting our laydown bags to a redesigned stand-up pouch format for M&M’s Brand Candies,


Candy & Snacks

Snickers Bites and Twix Bites,” explains Lupo. “This makes it easier for retailers to promote and merchandise across brands, plus it improves the shopping experience for consumers.” Referencing information from Mars’ recent path-topurchase study, he adds, “Candy is currently ranked last in ease of shopping, and [stand-up pouches] will enable shoppers to find items faster.” In the “snackfection” space consisting of items with attributes of both candy and snacks, Mars has augmented its glutenfree Goodnessknows snack square line combining fruit, whole nuts and dark chocolate with three new flavors, Blueberry & Almond, Mixed Berry & Almond, and Strawberry & Peanut, which Lupo observes “reflect the most popular flavors in the top berries in the country.” The Hershey Co. is also paying close attention to this hybrid segment, through such offerings as Hershey’s and Reese’s Crunchers and Reese’s Dipped Pretzels, Hershey’s Dipped Pretzels and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Crème Dipped Pretzels, all due in June.


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

“These innovations from our iconic brands deliver a sweet treat with a crunchy texture,” says Dave Nolen, senior director of category strategy and insights at the Hershey, Pa.-based company. Out this month, meanwhile, are Hershey’s Popped Snack Mix and Reese’s Popped Snack Mix, entries in Hershey’s expanding Snack Mix line providing what Nolen calls “sweet and salty with a lighter eat.” Further, to drive home the idea that these items aren’t candy as usual, the company recommends that retailers merchandise them “in the salty snacks aisle with other warehouse snacks, because of shopper behavior,” Nolen explains. “Shoppers view Hershey’s snackfection items as a distinct category from candy. We want our products to show up where it makes sense for the shopper.” Back in the candy aisle, the company combats shopper-discouraging clutter with its “gold-standard planogram that’s proving very successful when implemented at food retailers,” and, in common with Mars, makes use of “stand-up packaging that allows brand logos to stand out as their own billboards and present customers with more modern and convenient packaging,” according to Nolen. Discussing product development at his company,

CandyRific’s Auerbach points to “an evolution as we change the fill in our products, with more fruit-based items and less sugar.” He additionally notes that “the licensing component in confectionary continues to increase, as food and snacks in general have an emotional connection.” To heighten that connection, CandyRific makes use of high-impact merchandising strategies. “We see floor displays and power panels as the most effective way to do in-store marketing,” says Auerbach. “This give stores the opportunity to evaluate whether or not to put them into permanent planograms. It’s a dramatic way to introduce the product and shows the retailer and manufacturer which items sell the best.”

Better Snacking When it comes to the $13.7 billion snack category, although overall sales dollars are up 2.4 percent, caramel corn and popped popcorn offerings have seen explosive growth of 13.1 percent for the 52 weeks ending March 11, on top of a 16.3 percent increase the previous year, according to Schaumburg, Ill.-based Nielsen.

“In a single day, many consumers will reach for a nourishing treat in one daypart and something indulgent in another,” asserts Pamela Reardon, chief marketing officer for Vernon, Calif.-based Popcornopolis. “In terms of varieties, our research tells us that both sweet and savory snackers most often opt for comforting, familiar flavors with a contemporary twist – premium chocolate and natural cheese varieties top the list. Vibrant, authentic flavors and crispy-crunchy texture cue freshness and quality for consumers coast to coast.” For its two latest offerings, the company teamed with shoppers across the country to come up with Popcornopolis Organic Gourmet Popcorn and Zebra by Popcornopolis. “Guided by consumer preferences for clean, non-GMO whole grains, we created both lines using premium organic popcorn,” recounts Reardon. “Our Popcornopolis Organic Gourmet Popcorn line features eight gluten-free USDA-certified organic varieties, [while] Zebra by Popcornopolis is a decadent, confection-style line including five premium

Shoppers view Hershey’s snackfection items as a distinct category from candy. We want our products to show up where it makes sense for the shopper.” —Dave Nolen, The Hershey Co.

May 2017 | |



In a single day, many consumers will reach for a nourishing treat in one daypart and something indulgent in another.” —Pamela Reardon, Popcornopolis

Candy & Snacks

chocolate-drizzled varieties.” Meanwhile, “Snack Factory has added a number of quality better-for-you snack options to our product portfolio in the past year,” notes Clearview’s Van Der Wal. “Most recently, we introduced Organic Original Pretzel Crisps, which meets the growing consumer demand for organic foods. [They’re] are also Non-GMO Project Verified and contain only clean ingredients, which we have found to be incredibly important to many consumers.” Snack Factory has also expanded its gluten-free Pretzel Crisps line. Another recent launch is a line of produceinspired Fruit Sticks and Veggie Sticks. “These products were specifically created to meet the growing demand for convenient and healthy plant-based snacks and, as such, are made from real fruit and vegetables,” says Van Der Wal. Along with the products themselves, in-store merchandising is of the utmost importance to Clearview. “With each new innovation at Snack Factory, we take into consideration both product style and retail location within the store,” observes Van Der Wal.

“We have found that consumers are shopping more frequently around the perimeter of the store, seeking fresh and better-for-you options, which validates our placements of Pretzel Crisps in the deli section and Fruit and Veggie Sticks in the produce section.” He adds that the company also gives retailers “the option of ordering visual shipper displays, which provide easy and eye-catching storage for our products. We find this especially helpful when introducing new products or around high-traffic occasions in grocery stores, such as Super Bowl and holidays.” Among other produce-based shelf-stable snacks, Los Angeles-based Snack It Forward considers itself a leader “in pushing clean labels,” asserts CEO Nick Desai. “Our Sunkist Fruit Chips [have] one ingredient —fresh fruit — that’s it. Our new Sunkist TrueFruit Clusters [are] made from just five ingredients, with nothing artificial.” A blend of three premium fruits

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Candy & Snacks

In common with Van Der Wal, Desai believes that healthier ingredients will stay in demand, observing, “As the snacking category continues to grow, more and more foods are being consumed on the go, pushing companies to provide more real-food, nutritious snack options.” PG

with no added sugar, the crunchy, bite-sized clusters, due in grocers’ produce sections “soon,” according to Desai, contain five servings of consumers’ daily fruit needs per bag. The company merchandises its products with display-ready cases, stackable displays and clip strips.

Sweets & Snacks Expo Continues to Grow Its trade show floor sold out for the fifth straight year, the Sweets & Snacks Expo, hosted by the Washington, D.C.-based National Confectioners Association (NCA), will take place May 23-25 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, with more than 800 companies slated to display an impressive 4 acres of confections and snacks. More than 17,000 industry professionals from almost 90 nations are expected to attend the premier industry event. Barry Rosenbaum, expo chairman and president of Hicksville, N.Y.-based Nassau Candy Distributors Inc., notes that the organizers of the show “continually seek to solidify our stature as the must-attend event for the

candy, snack and specialty categories.” Among the new features for the 2017 show are “Eye Opener” Morning Knowledge Building Sessions featuring state-of-the-market presentations valued at $150 each, but waived for qualified retail attendees and NCA members; the Small Business Innovator Award, under the 2017 Most Innovative New Products Program, specifically designed to highlight companies with net sales of $500,000 and under; and Destination Retail, which will encompass the Merchandising Gallery of Success, along with new technology pods demonstrating the latest in-store advances from top companies. For more information, visit SPONSORED CONTENT

Just Desserts sprouts a New VisioN with Just Delights A Chat with CeO Michael J. Mendes Just Desserts Just Desserts has been extensively repositioned. What are some of the changes and what has been the market response? It has redesigned the brand, design system, brand architecture, and developed innovative, proprietary packaging. Just Desserts has also introduced new flavors and product platforms which are driving strong growth. After 40 years as a leader in clean label bakery quality desserts, it introduced a line of organic and vegan products which is growing rapidly. In order to support this growth, Just Desserts built a new 75,000 square foot bakery last year, and has invested in state-of-the-art baking, mixing, and depositing technology that is improving quality, efficiency, and capacity for future growth. Progressive Grocer: Just Desserts has a wide range of offerings. What are your upcoming new product plans? Michael Mendes: We are excited to launch a new sub-brand called Just Delights. Just Delights applies our same hand-crafted, from scratch baking approach, but also incorporates on-trend, better-for-you ingredients. The result is baked sweet snacks that is nutrient dense, has very little sugar, and with most of the sweetness coming from real fruit.

amaranth. To add a nice dose of texture, we add seeds including sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame. Progressive Grocer: Why have sprouted grains become so popular these days? Michael Mendes: Sprouted grains are a good added-value alternative to regular flour. Plus, they are nutritionally dense, and heralded for supporting good digestive health. Progressive Grocer: But can better-for-you taste better too? Michael Mendes: Of course! We all know that better-for-you doesn’t always mean something that you crave. That’s where Just Desserts brings its expertise in combining better-for-you ingredients with premium quality whole ingredients. The result is a satisfying taste that is truly crave-worthy. But the real bonus is that Just Delights Original Sprouted Grain Bites deliver 50% more protein, 25% less sugar, and 66% less sodium compared to the leading better-for-you bite on the market.

Progressive Grocer: Tell us more about the Just Delights Original Sprouted Grain Bites launch this spring. Michael Mendes: For the debut of Just Delights, we’re taking the sprouted grain, which is all the rage in the bread world, and creating an innovative sweet bite format. We’re using a variety of sprouted ingredients including hard red wheat, purple corn, sorghum, quinoa, and


Learn more at

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Progressive Grocer: What else is planned? Michael Mendes: Building on our strength in innovation, we are also launching a new platform that we call “ready when you are”. The line includes 7 SKUs of organic and vegan cupcakes and mini cake bites. We are also excited to announce that we are now a “Nut Free Bakery”. As 1 in 13 school age children suffer from some form of food allergy, we are excited to offer products free from two of the most common allergens, peanuts and tree nuts.

Beverage Alcohol


Here’s to Summer The return of warm weather means exciting seasonal beer and wine products and promotions. By Bridget Goldschmidt


hen it comes to beverage alcohol, summer is truly sizzling. Suppliers and retailers can leverage the hot season to sell more of the quaffs that consumers love, linking the products to holidays, entertaining and unique events. Foremost among summer beverage alcohol selections are beer and wine. “Beer sales surge from May through early September, along with sales of rosé and crisp white wines,” notes Jeff Cox, wine buyer at Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets, which operates 11 cooperative grocery stores in Washington state and carries a “thoughtfully chosen” selection of wines, beers and ciders spotlighting Northwest producers. “Reds continue to sell, driven by bright, accessible wines that work well with al fresco and barbecue-oriented dishes.”

In consequence, the company devotes “a greater percentage of ad activity … to beer and cider, while white and pink wines drive the wine side. In storewide promotions, we emphasize items that pair well with seasonal dishes.” As for which beers are most popular in summer, Cox sees “pale ale and pilsner enjoying a resurgence, while many brewers are now producing lighter-style, traditional ‘lawnmower’ beers at lower prices than their frontline offerings.” Whatever the style, when the mercury rises, a frosty beer is especially welcome. In fact, Nuno Teles, chief marketing officer at White Plains, N.Y.-based Heineken USA, goes so far as to assert, “Summertime is beer time!” Citing Nielsen figures, he notes that the season “represents nearly 36 percent of total category dollars, and six of the top largest-volume weeks of the year. Heineken USA’s portfolio of high-end imported beers enjoys this seasonal May 2017 | |



We’ve seen more fruitflavored beers enter the category, and this is a trend I see continuing.” —Georgia Homsany, United States Beverage


Beverage Alcohol

spike as consumers flock to cold, refreshing beverages for their warm-weather drinking occasions.” Among Heineken’s new season-specific beer products is the “Coolerpack,” which Teles describes as “engineered packaging that turns an 18-pack into a cooler for any occasion,” adding that it brings “convenience and occasion-based purchase choice to beer drinkers everywhere.” Designed to enable consumers to pop open the top and fill the pack with ice to keep their beer suitably cold, the Coolerpack promises to “[drive] incremental sales and profits for retailers who stock and display the innovative new item,” says Teles. Also on tap – in a manner of speaking – is Amstel Xlight, launching in test markets in Arizona, Texas and Boston. With only 90 calories, 2 grams of carbs, 4.2 percent ABV, and 4 IBUs, the brew “sets the new standard for a sessionable premiumquality light beer with a full beer flavor unexpected from a light beer,” observes Teles. The item comes in 6-pack bottles, 12-pack cans and bottles, and a 24-ounce single-serve can. “Our lager beers, such as Czechvar, Super Bock [and] Tona, do very well in the summer, as well as our Moosehead Radler, which is beer mixed with juice,” observes Georgia Homsany, senior brand director at Stamford, Conn.-based United States Beverage. “We’ve seen more fruit-flavored beers enter the category, and this is a trend I see continuing.” Among the company’s recent introductions, Malibu Beer, making its U.S. debut this month, is a shoo-in for summer. Characterized by Homsany as “a lager with a hint of natural coconut flavor,” the Caribbean-imported item, an extension of the popular Pernod-Ricard rum brand, was created based on extensive research carried out over the past few years that pinpointed consumers’ desire for a mainstream lighter-bodied beer with flavor. Available in a 6-pack of 330-milliliter bottles in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; San Diego; and Ann Arbor and Lansing, Mich., markets, Malibu Beer will be supported by a mix of in-store displays, sampling, events and digital media, among other elements.

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Passport to Adventure In the realm of marketing, Heineken is ready with a full slate of ambitious programs. The season kicks off with The Cities Project by Heineken, a partnership with the Bruno Mars 24K Magic World Tour that will support community and philanthropic efforts across the country through one of 11 locally relevant Indiegogo campaigns while awarding consumers concert tickets. “The program will be supported at retail with impactful POS materials and a simple text-donateget opportunity to attract more valuable shoppers, drive conversion and maximize basket ring,” notes Teles. Meanwhile, the company’s Dos Equis brand is rolling out the Taste Adventure All Summer campaign this month to leverage the overall growth of Mexican Imports and the rising popularity of beer served in cans. Inspired by Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World ads, the beer will help consumers embark on their own summer expeditions through a sweepstakes including Dos Equis Summer Can Buckets for quick cooling and serving outdoors, with a grand-prize sponsored adventure. “The merchandising materials include colorful can floor standees, and 4-foot dimensional cans and five- to 10-case stackers for floor displays,” says Teles. “Cross-merchandising with On the Border Chips and Salsa provides opportunity for multiple-item purchase. Retailers who support the program and increase Dos Equis’ feature and display to maximize volume and profit can add value to their customers’ shopping experience during the key summer selling season.” Over at St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, sports is synonymous with summer. Budweiser, long known as the King of Beers, has introduced limited-edition customized specialty Major League Baseball team cans featuring unique designs created by local artists in time for Opening Day on April 2, in celebration of America’s beloved summertime sport. Additionally, the company’s Michelob Ultra light beer brand has become the Official Beer Sponsor of the World Surf League (WSL) in the United States, Through this partnership, Michelob Ultra is the exclusive beer sponsor of such WSL events as the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif., which attracts 700,000-plus attendees over nine days in late July and early August. Michelob Ultra will also deploy WSL content across social media channels to further drive excitement among surfers and surfing fans alike. Other beer brands are also making use of digital resources. “We’ve been having success with Text to Win programs at retail,” notes United States Bever-


Beverage Alcohol

age’s Homsany. “They are simple to execute, and the key is localizing it for the retailer. Our Moosehead brand in particular has a tie-in with [cooler manufacturer] Yeti, which is a natural fit for the Moosehead brand, especially over the summer months when people are barbecuing, camping, hiking and spending more time outdoors. As we drive Moosehead can 12-packs at retail, we’re offering consumers the chance to win a Moosehead-branded Yeti Colster. This year Moosehead celebrates their 150th anniversary, so we’ll have 150 celebration cans in marked 12-packs, for a chance to win.”

Consumers are looking for innovation in product packaging that increases portability and convenience, and that’s exactly what canned wines Wine and Sunshine bring to the Sure, people like to kick back in the summer with market.” a glass of weather-appropriate wine — something —Kevin Mehra, Latitude Beverage Co.

“fresh, light, easy, relaxing [and] sociable,” as Kevin Mehra, CEO of Boston-based Latitude Beverage Co., puts it — but how about sipping it from a can? Mehra, for one, is betting that canned wine will become a more common sight at beaches and on picnics. “The canned-wine trend is certainly one of the frontrunners on our list” of up-and-coming beverage alcohol items, he asserts. “We saw this segment gain a lot of momentum last summer, and we expect to see this continue ramping up throughout summer 2017. Consumers are looking for innovation in product packaging that increases portability and convenience, and that’s exactly what canned wines bring to the market.” Last April, the company introduced Lila Sparkling, the latest addition to its Lila cannedwine portfolio, which also features Lila Rosé and Lila Pinot Grigio. “Lila Sparkling is an Italian sparkling wine produced using the same method as Prosecco,” explains Mehra. “It offers a fun and convenient way to enjoy premium, varietally correct sparkling wine on the go. Over this past winter, we made some major changes to improve the overall quality of our Lila products, including moving all production and canning to Europe, within close proximity of the source wineries.”

Consider the Can When consumers crack open a cold one on a scorching afternoon, few will give much thought to their choice of beer packaging, despite its ubiquity. “Cans have never been more popular,” affirms Nuno Teles, chief marketing officer at White Plains, N.Y.-based Heineken USA, citing data from Schaumburg, Ill.-based Nielsen. “Legitimized by craft beer, now 10 percent of craft volume is sold in cans, up from 2 percent just two years ago. In addition, cans cool faster than bottles, keep the quality taste, and provide a warm nostalgia, with the crisp ‘pop’ on opening. And not


As well as improving the product inside the can, Latitude has invested heavily in the line’s packaging. “Our Lila 4-pack boxes are updated with more metallics and a brighter look on the shelf,” says Mehra. Then there’s the matter of creating an impact at retail. “Most of our support dollars for Lila are being used to support our in-store POS programs,” notes Mehra. “This summer, we’ll have three-case floor displays, counter units, large-format can replicas and counter can feeders available for Lila.” Beyond the can, Latitude is introducing premium Mija White Sangria, “made just the way you’d make it at home: white wine and real unfiltered fruit juices,” according to Mehra. Other items out in time for summer include 90+ Cellars Lot 138 Reserve Chardonnay from Chalone AVA and Magic Door Sauvignon Blanc from Oakville, both retailing in the $15-$20 range, as well as new vintages of all of the company’s most popular rosés, among them the flagship 90+ Cellars Lot 33 Languedoc Rosé, Lot 132 Reserve Provence Rosé and Magic Door Sancerre Rosé. Indeed, in common with PCC’s Cox, Mehra believes rosé’s reign is far from over. “Rosé — especially French rosé — is still incredibly hot,” he enthuses “This trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. There’s a whole culture around rosé now that will continue to drive sales. It’s a versatile wine, it pairs well with almost anything, and it’s just a great wine to drink and enjoy with friends at any summer social gathering.” Another wine trend Mehra pinpoints is yearround consumption of sparkling wines, particularly during the summer, while Cox notes such alternatives to chardonnay and sauvignon blanc as riesling, gruner veltliner, viura and soave, adding, “We think that vermentino should be on everyone’s summertime list.” PG

surprisingly, warm weather leads to a preference for cold taste, where 42 percent of adults drinking beverage alcohol consider buying their beverages cold highly important.” He adds, “Import cans are growing two times faster than import bottles, driven primarily by their popularity during the summer.” The biggest reason for the can’s conquest of summer beverage alcohol packaging is, naturally enough, convenience. “Ninety percent of regular drinkers who plan to drink this summer say they will drink outdoors, and on-the-go, convenient, easy-to-carry packaging is important to 73 percent of adults drinking beverage alcohol,” Teles notes.

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

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June Dairy Month

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods

Dairy Days Grocers customize annual observance’s programs to bolster traffic, sales. By Lynn Petrak


n an era in which a day is set aside for virtually every food, from soup (National Turkey Neck Soup Day) to nuts (National Macadamia Nut Day), some calendar-related promotions are tried, true and effective in garnering attention and sales. June Dairy Month is an example of an established annual marketing promotion that extends from farm to table, with a strong retail component. June Dairy Month began during the Great Depression, out of the need to stabilize demand for dairy products during a high-production time of year and provide nutrition to hungry Americans. Through the years, June Dairy Month has reflected the times, whether it was an expansion of advertising efforts in the booming postwar 1950s, to messages about dietary concerns and misperceptions in the late 1980s and early ’90s. The event has always had grassroots elements, such as the crowning of local dairy princesses, and farm breakfasts, but also encompasses broad merchandising programs that retailers can leverage to increase traffic and purchases in their stores. At its core, June Dairy Month spotlights products that are a significant part of consumers’ diets. While Americans are drinking less fluid milk, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, they’re

May 2017 | |


Refrigerated & Frozen Foods

Having a cooler with single-serve milk items, a variety of snacking cheeses, and yogurt is a great way to help shoppers identify healthy snacks quickly.” —Jamie Liebich, Midwest Dairy Association

June Dairy Month

eating more cheese, butter and yogurt. “June Dairy Month is a great time to remind consumers of the importance of dairy products, which are a great solution for consumers who are looking for real, fresh and natural products that are packed with nutrition,” notes Jamie Liebich, business development manager, retail for Midwest Dairy Association, in St. Paul, Minn. The association offers a variety of tools and information to those in the dairy chain in the country’s heartland, including grocers, to maximize sales this time of year. The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA), based in Harrisburg, Pa., is a national resource that helps grocers make the most of this annual opportunity. This year’s June Dairy Month theme from NFRA is “Discover Cool Possibilities,” and the organization is providing an idea book with merchandising tips, coordinating logos and artwork, digital marketing, and redesigned point-of-purchase materials. NFRA is also teaming with New York-based massmedia company WestwoodOne to provide messages to consumers through an integrated media program, and working with celebrity chef Ceci Carmichael to share recipes and product information via a satellite media tour. To help retailers best employ its resources, NRFA has published a checklist of 12 ways to plan and promote June Dairy Month, such as leveraging sponsoring brands, decorating stores with POS items, promoting the national NFRA sweepstakes, and coordinating social media and in-store events.

Summer Schooling While the taste-and-nutrition crux of dairy products’ widespread appeal hasn’t changed, June Dairy Month initiatives mirror the current marketplace, both in what consumers want and what dairy providers are producing. “In the past, efforts were focused on strictly promotional opportunities, such as coupons or hot advertisements that resulted in short-term sales lifts,” says Liebich. “Today, June Dairy Month efforts are focused more on educating shoppers, focusing on things like protein and nutrition, where the product comes from, and letting consumers know that milk is one of the most local products in the store.” Millennial shoppers, in particular, she says, want to know where their food comes from and how


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

animals are treated in the food production process. “Most consumers don’t know milk comes from a farm, on average, 100 miles away, and left that farm about 48 hours earlier,” Liebich observes. To share that background, an online toolkit from Midwest Dairy Association provides consumer FAQs, dairy farmer stories, and social media content and resources, as well as copy for use in weekly circulars and a guide for in-store sampling. Another educational tool is a virtual farm tour posted on the association’s website, enabling people to “experience” what happens on a dairy farm. “Shoppers are also time-crunched and often speed through the dairy department for preplanned purchases,” notes Liebich. “Creating ‘speed bumps’ … such as signage to highlight new products, nutrition information, and details about the journey milk and dairy foods take from the farm to the store, will help slow shoppers down and add more items to the basket.” Liebich also points to efforts by the Chicagobased Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) to provide shoppers with information about dairy products and dairy production in an engaging way. “Each June, IGA creates a trivia contest for their shoppers with a new dairy question every day,” she explains. “The questions are focused on dairy nutrition, food safety and quality, animal care, and milk’s journey from farm to store. Shoppers can enter daily, and every entry allows

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods

June Dairy Month

them a chance to win dairy products for a month. That education is key because it influences their future purchasing decisions.” Educational efforts also tout the many new products on the market. NFRA’s Discover the Cool Possibilities campaign, for instance, communicates to shoppers that the dairy category is full of versatile and innovative products.


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| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Many retailers combine education on milk production and sourcing with a spotlight on the diverse types of dairy products now available. The Jewel-Osco chain in the Chicago area, under the Albertsons/Safeway umbrella, is one example. “Jewel-Osco will use the month of June to drive excitement in the dairy department for both the consumer and our hard-working associates,” says Ian Neitzke, assistant grocery sales manager for dairy. “It’s important that people understand dairy is more than the milk they pour on cereal, or the cheese they put on sandwiches. Dairy products are healthy, tasty, and the manufacturers are constantly innovating.” Meanwhile, as more products in trending categories like cheese and yogurt expand the dairy section, June Dairy Month merchandising can make store navigation easier for consumers. “Retailers can add simple signage within the department to segment these large categories, or they can create destination areas within the department with portable coolers or end caps,” Liebich suggests. “Having a cooler with single-serve milk items, a variety of snacking cheeses, and yogurt is a great way to help shoppers identify healthy snacks quickly.”

Reaching Out In addition to in-store materials and events and broader social media efforts, community outreach is another way to tie together a retailer’s dairy department and June Dairy Month. To that end, the Great American Milk Drive is a cause marketing program with an important drive period held before and during the month of June. Now in its fourth year, the drive fills gaps from the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, which go

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods

It’s important that people understand dairy is more than the milk they pour on cereal, or the cheese they put on sandwiches.” —Ian Neitzke, Jewel-Osco


June Dairy Month

on hiatus during the summer vacation. Spearheaded by the Washington, D.C.-based Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP), the Great American Milk Drive aims to assist local communities while also helping to spur store profits, according to Victor Zaborsky, VP, marketing for MilkPEP. “June Dairy Month presents a unique and ownable opportunity for The Great American Milk Drive to spotlight the critical role milk can play in helping to fight child hunger,” he says. “The program has been shown to lift in-store fluid-milk sales without discounting, drive foot

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

traffic and bring in new customers while strengthening community presence and doing good.” As part of June Dairy Month, retailers can use MilkPEP’s resources to reach customers and communicate the program to store employees, an effort that spans checkout programs, point-of-sale materials and marketing support. “Consumer research has proven that the grocery checkout counter is key, with the majority of all Great American Milk Drive donations made by shoppers at register by adding it on to their grocery bill,” observes Zaborsky. “Retailers have also successfully supported the effort by displaying Great American Milk Drive POS in the dairy aisle and strategically throughout the store.” Retail partners have reported category sales lift during the program, due to the supporting POS, Zaborsky says, with a relative category lift as high as 3.5 percent. PG

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2017 Retail Bakery Review

In the Sweet Spot In-store bakeries report happier days on the horizon. By Katie Martin

S Which of the folloWing best describes your in-store bakery program? Multiple responses accepted

current year

year ago

part of a “one-stop-shopping” format



image builder






destination department





none of the above

Source: Progressive Grocer Market Research, 2017

upermarket bakeries are as unique as the stores they operate in, with formats ranging from all-scratch production to thaw-and-sell, and every variation in between. And that individuality — a key ingredient in creating a shopping experience unique from other retail channels — seems to be having a positive impact, according to the results of Progressive Grocer’s 2017 Retail Bakery Review, our exclusive survey looking at the state of the supermarket bakery nationwide. With most bakery products considered a treat by consumers, and sales that are mostly impulse, survey respondents reported healthy sales. Nearly 70 percent indicated that department sales had increased in 2016 over 2015, much higher than the half (52.8 percent) who reported the same in last year’s survey. Only 9 percent reported sales declines. Bakery has traditionally been fairly recession-proof, but customers’ purse strings seem to have loosened a bit more compared with the past several years. Total annual sales for the supermarket bakery category were $11.6 billion, according to Schaumburg, Ill.-based Nielsen. “We’ve continued to see sales grow,” says Christina Jessie, bakery sales and operations manager for Eugene, Ore.-based Market of Choice, a chain of 10 stores. “We’ve really have not had a big dip, no matter what the economy is. If we just do consistently good product, maybe other parts of the store might go up and down, but the bakery just seems to be really solid.” According to the PG survey, the average net change for sales this year was 10 percent, May 2017 | |


2017 Retail Bakery Review Bakery SaleS Change 2016 VerSuS 2015 Increased


Stayed the Same



expeCted Same-Store SaleS Change for 2017 Increased





Stayed the Same



net Change (%)

net Change (%)

4.3% Source: Progressive Grocer Market Research, 2017

a much bigger swing in sales compared with last year’s 3.6 percent net change. For the remainder of 2017, optimism for increased sales continues, with 61 percent expecting sales to

increase. Projected sales net change is 7.2 percent, nearly double last year’s 3.4 percent. However, that optimism is a bit tempered by size of the grocery chain. All survey respondents from chains with

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When one party ends, we’re always ready for the next one to begin. Since we first introduced our twice-baked twists made from sourdough and aged cheddar cheese in 1976, we’ve been making gourmet party appetizers for festivities of all kinds. With 13 delicious varieties, our CheeseSticks, CheeseCrisps and SweetSticks will delight our customers one crispy, crunchy bite at a time. Visit, and follow us on social media to see what’s new.

2017 Retail Bakery Review Bakery Profits 2016 Versus 2015 Increased


Stayed the Same


11 or more stores projected sales to increase, while more than half of respondents from chains with 10 or fewer stores were projecting sales to remain the same.


21.7% Source: Progressive Grocer Market Research, 2017

Profitability on the Rise Bakery accounts for 7.2 percent of total store sales, with an average gross margin of 45.3 percent. Gross margin has remained essentially the same for the past several years. Gross margin was reported as 45.5 percent last

year, and 45.2 percent the previous year. When it comes to the department’s profitability, more than half of survey respondents reported that profits increased, while 21.7 percent indicated that

This completely customizable set-up includes options to create delicious treats with gross profit margins as high as 80% on some items. Products include: -Gourmet popcorn -Fudge -Pralines -Cotton candy -Fresh roasted nuts -Gourmet caramel/candy apples

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| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

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2017 Retail Bakery Review profits decreased and about a quarter reported that they stayed the same. Larger chains, those with 11 or more stores, seem to be outperforming companies with 10 or fewer stores, with 66.7 percent of the larger chains reporting that profits were up, while only 42.9 percent of the smaller companies reported the same. Larger companies could be benefiting from efficiencies both in production and sourcing. Many factors could contribute to the rise in profits. Respondents reported that shrink was 5.9 percent of sales, which is lower than last year’s 7.3 percent, so production is more evenly matched to sales. Labor as a percent of sales also was down: 24.4 percent this year, compared with last year’s 30.5 percent. The number of full-time employees declined as well this year, with 4.3 full-time employees per bakery on average, compared with 5.8 employees reported last year. The decline in labor costs could indicate that bakeries are relying more on part-time help, or just improving efficiency.

What’s Hot? The department’s profitability also could be influenced by the top-selling products. Cakes, back on top of the list of top-selling products, are by far the most profitable product. They had lost the top spot last year to breads, which came in second this year on both the top-selling and most profitable products lists. Artisan breads, which ranked fourth in profitability, saw an increase in the top-selling ranking, with 17.4 percent of survey respondents ranking them as top-selling items, compared with 11.9 percent last year. The top-selling products have seen some shifts, but the top four — cakes, bread, cookies and doughnuts — retained those slots, although they jockeyed for new positions within that space. Other products have seen their ranking on the list shift. For example, pies broke into the top five, with 30.4 percent rating it a top-selling product, compared with only 17.9 percent last year. For Jessie, cakes are the top seller, but cookies are rising in popularity, at Market of Choice. “I cannot make enough kinds of cookies,” she says. “If you make them well, price is really not an issue. In our market, they want good quality. What we focus on is old-

fashioned recipes made with real butter and locally milled flour — high-end ingredients.”

What’s Not? Other products saw their sales drop. Rolls fell out of the top five, seeing a significant decline from last year; only 8.7 percent ranked them as top sellers this year, compared with 22.4 percent in 2016.

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2017 Retail Bakery Review Bakery Department performance current year

year ago

gross margin



percent of sales from self-service Bakery







Bakery Department laBor as a percent of sales



Bakery Department shrink as a percent of sales





average size of Bakery Dept. (sq. ft.) full-time equivalent employees per store

Bakery skus

Source: Progressive Grocer Market Research, 2017

Muffins and danishes/sweet rolls also saw their sales decline. Just 4.3 percent ranked muffins as top-selling items this year, compared with 13.4 percent last year, while danishes/

sweet rolls dropped from 16.4 last year to 4.3 percent this year. Jessie saw a similar phenomenon at Market of Choice, with a drop in sales of cinnamon rolls and muffins as well as other breakfast items. “People want that splurge, but they don’t all necessarily want to start their day with the same items that they used to,” she notes. “For breakfast, we’ve gone into more granolas. Things like that are doing really well right now.” However, Tony O’s Supermarket, in Kingsville, Ohio, is still seeing strong sales of cinnamon rolls. Owner Tony Orlando upgrades a thaw-and-sell product by making his

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| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Continued on page 92

2017 Retail Bakery Review Does your bakery Department offer signature proDucts? 17.4% no

82.6% yes

for those offering signature items 5.3%



31.6% Baked in-house

a year ago

80.7% Yes

Baked to spec and exclusive to your store/chain

19.3% No

A supplier’s product with your store’s label Other

Source: Progressive Grocer Market Research, 2017

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2017 Retail Bakery Review Best-selling Bakery items

Continued from page 88

own “schmear” with brown sugar, butter and lots of cinnamon, and injects it directly into the roll, so it contains three times the amount traditionally found in a cinnamon roll. He then tops the pastry with scratch-made icing. “It’s real simple, and most people still like their junk food,” Orlando says.

What’s Next? As any good bakery executive knows, you can’t rely on what sold well in the past; you have to look forward to what’s going to sell well tomorrow. Celebration cakes have the strongest growth, the survey revealed, followed by seasonal specialties. Signature/specialty items come in third, with gluten-free and smallerportion products rounding out the top five products with the best growth potential. Gluten-free and smaller portions fit in with the healthier eating habuts that many consumers claim to be adopting. At Tony O’s, Orlando predicts that the next big trend will be products that fit into both gluten- and sugar-free lifestyles. Many of his sugar-free products already are gluten-free as well. “The biggest gap that needs to be filled is actually doing a gluten-free/sugar-free combination, because both disorders almost run hand-in-hand,” he notes. “The trend not fully LAP_ProgGrocerAd_05-17_PRINT.pdf 1 4/12/17 11:43is AM Continued on page 96


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

current year

year ago
















artisan Breads












danishes/sweet rolls












Source: Progressive Grocer Market Research, 2017




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W7nt7m7r77C7k77Stru7tur77S7ts? t77fi7nd7th77p7rf77t7supp7rt7f7r7y7ur777k7s.

1-800---------(1-800-332-6722) ©201777777777

2017 Retail Bakery Review Bakery Department Category performanCe Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Feb. 25, 2017

Dollars per Volume Average Store/Week Volume Percent on Retail Percent Percent Volume Promotion Percent Dollars per Change vs. Change vs. Percent on Change vs. Average Change vs. Category Store/Week Year Ago Year Ago Promotion Year Ago Retail Year Ago

Bread and Rolls Breads $1,707 -2.9% -3.8% 14.8% 1.6 $2.28 0.9% Rolls 1,662 2.4 0.5 13.4 2.8 1.98 1.9 Breakfast Bakery Doughnuts $932 0.9% -0.7% 7.7% 2.6 $1.60 1.6% Sweet Goods 807 1.0 -0.8 19.3 3.1 3.22 1.8 Muffins 614 7.2 9.4 15.5 2.7 2.96 -2.0 Bagels 256 0.2 -1.3 7.1 -0.7 1.23 1.5 Desserts Cakes $3,596 2.2% 3.2% 20.8% 4.2 $6.94 -1.0% Cookies 1,373 2.9 2.7 19.9 1.5 3.69 0.2 Pies 764 3.5 30.1 17.1 -3.7 2.38 -20.4 Brownies and Dessert Bars 235 3.5 5.9 17.3 2.7 4.32 -2.2 Specialty Desserts 226 22.8 11.2 19.2 4.3 5.27 10.5 Other Miscellaneous 182 -7.3 -4.5 12.2 -0.4 2.12 -2.9 Source: Nielsen Perishables Group FreshFacts®

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| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

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2017 Retail Bakery ReviewIDDBA.ORG Anaheim, Calif. Continued from page 92

The International Dairy-Deli608.310.5000 Bakery Association’s 53 an-

developed as much as I believe it should be.” Among its products of this type, Tony O’s offers brownies made with “fluff,” or mousse, that are both gluten- and sugar-free, as are the grocer’s nut roll tortes.


nual event, IDDBA 17, brings together today’s leaders with tomorrow’s innovators to all grow their businesses. This year’s Show and Sell, an interactive marketplace of merchandising ideas, retailing concepts and new products, will reflect the fundamental principles of the “Experience Economy.” The merchandising concepts are designed to energize stores and engage, entertain and educate shoppers. New to this year’s show is the Expert Neighborhood, where attendees can meet one-on-one with experts to discuss questions, industry challenges and business problems.

Bakery Positioning Perishables departments such as bakery have become increasingly important draws for customers. Nearly half (43.5 percent) describe their bakery department as part of a “one-stop-shopping” format, while 39.1 percent see it as a destination department. More than two-thirds (34.8IDDBA percent) that their department 2017 4/Cindicate • “Networking Begins” • 8” Xoffers 10.75” Progressive Grocer Ad only the basics or necessities, and 30.4 percent use the Beltrame Leffler Advertising department as an image builder.• (317) 916-9930 • 01.19.17 • S2GA011117 “I think we are a strong draw for our stores,” Jessie says No matter what the PG survey says is popular, bakery execs of her stores’ bakery departments. “We’re really unique need to remember who their customers are. and we are really fortunate to be placed towards the front “Know who you are and who your customers are. Reof the store, so we are the first things that you come in to ally focus on providing for that,” Jessie advises. “Not varysee. We’ve developed a following.” ing to a lot of wild trends, but make sure that your core Part of that following could be Market of Choice’s products are out there, available all the time, and that your strong focus on signature products, which 82.6 percent customers can depend on it.” of all bakery departments offer. Also like Market of Orlando agrees: “The trend around here is staying true Choice, nearly three-quarters of the departments bake to what you do.” PG those products in-house.

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Fresh Food


Setting the Stage Grocers create theater and spark sales with inspired summer produce displays. By Jennifer Strailey

P Display contests drive more excitement in the category and create buzz.” —Kerry Adams, Rouses Supermarkets


owerful promotions and creatively executed displays drive sales of summer produce at grocery chains like Rouses Supermarkets. “We call it ‘theater,’” says Kerry Adams, produce buyer for the Thibodaux, La.based retailer. “So much of summer produce sales are impulse purchases. We need to do everything we can to call attention to produce and bring the consumer over to the display.” Rouses has found that its most successful promotions in fresh produce are those that include a contest for produce managers. “Display contests drive more excitement in the category and create buzz,” asserts Adams. “Our produce managers are highly competitive, so we like to stir the pot and make it fun.” The grocery chain, which has more than 40 stores in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, runs regular display contests, particularly when there’s a change in seasons. Summer means stone fruit and grilling promotions. Cross-promotion is key to Rouses’ summer grilling displays. “What can you do to get a produce item into a buggy that wasn’t on the shopping list?”

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Adams asks. “That’s what it’s all about.” Rouses awards display contest prizes to the produce manager with the highest percentage of sales increase relative to store sales. This affords produce managers at smaller stores an equal opportunity to win. Creativity is also honored. Produce managers submit photos of their displays, and Rouses’ farmer and grower partners vote on the most creative execution. This summer, Rouses’ produce managers will compete in a cherry display contest. “We bring growers into the store as well,” says Adams. “Customers want to make that connection with the farm.” Brianna Shales, communications manager for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers, agrees. Later this month, Stemilt will introduce 5 River Islands, a new brand of late-season premium-quality cherries from the California Delta region. Only the highest-quality and largest cherries from the region will be sold under the brand. Where the fruit originates “is something that consumers want to know, and we’ve found it really resonates with shoppers through the success of our A Half Mile Closer to the Moon cherry program and Kyle’s Pick product line,” she affirms.

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Fresh Food


When it comes to cherry merchandising, it’s important to maximize sales during key promotional windows, advises Shales: “Cherries are an impulse purchase — they rarely appear on someone’s shopping list — so they must be displayed in a high-traffic area in order to capture sales.”

What really drives grocery store profit are events.” —John Pope, MountainKing Potatoes



Grate Expectations According to the 2016 Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA) “Barbecue Lifestyle, Usage and Attitude Study,” 45 percent of U.S. adults plan to purchase a new grill or smoker in 2017, 75 percent already own a grill, and 30 percent plan to do more grilling this year. With enthusiasm for grilling at an all-time high, and fresh produce a natural tie-in to summer barbecues, MountainKing Potatoes, based in Houston, is preparing to reprise its highly successful Get Grilling campaign this year. “We build on it each year,” says John Pope, VP of sales and marketing for MountainKing. In 2017, produce managers will vie to create the best displays, for the chance to win a Weber grill. MountainKing has created a variety of colorful point-of-sale materials, from potato bins designed


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to look like gas grills to bag tags that promote preheating potatoes in the microwave before finishing them on the grill. “We coined the term ‘8-minute grilling,’” notes Pope, who says that the combination of microwave and grill preparation makes for deliciously textured potatoes. Grocers can use the grill bins to cross-merchandise potatoes with peppers, onions, corn, mushrooms and more. “The campaign is about building excitement around potatoes in the warmer months,” explains Pope, who adds that one-third of all meals at home include fresh potatoes of some sort. “We’ve

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Fresh Food


king oF the grill Cross-merchandising opportunities abound with Mountainking Potatoes’ get grilling promotion.

also had a lot of buy-in from protein departments that cross-promote meat, poultry and seafood with different potato varieties.” Get Grilling has grown each year, with grocers increasingly ordering more product and POS. “What really drives grocery store profit are events,” enthuses Pope. “Grilling is a huge deal, and grilled potatoes are such a magnet for other items.”

Berry Bonanza Few things capture the sweetness of summer like berries. Driven by a steady stream of positive press trumpeting the health benefits of the fruit, berry sales remain strong. “Most everything is driven by social media these days, and berries are no different,” says Jim Grabowski, director of marketing for Well-Pict, in Watsonville, Calif. “There are countless sources touting the health benefits of berries. It’s driving berry sales,

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particularly with younger consumers.” To keep berries top of mind in summer, when stone fruits and melons are at the peak of season, Grabowski recommends merchandising displays that employ a “berry patch concept.” “Create a one-stop shop by merchandising strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries all together,” he advises. Recipes for desserts, snacks and salads made with berries can also be useful sales tools. “Successful retailers are using large displays that feature a full assortment of sizes and berry varieties,” notes Grabowski, who has also seen an uptick in sales of value-added, convenient berry items.

Mushroom Boom The Mushroom Council, in San Jose, Calif., is once again teaming with the New York-based James Beard Foundation on the Blended Burger Project, which encourages restaurants and retailers to blend

United Fresh 2017 will welcome retailers, wholesalers, foodservice companies and buyers to the West Hall at Chicago’s McCormick Place, June 1315. Innovation is the theme of this year’s event, which promises to showcase the most creative new produce items and fresh food trends, cutting-edge tools and technology, business-to-business opportunities, industry-leading education sessions, and more. According to the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, the fastest-growing segment of the event is the United FreshMKT Expo, where attendees can explore the latest in fresh produce innovation, with a new focus on prepared meal solutions, convenient snack items, and fresh juices, salsas, soups and dips. The new Organic Showcase will feature new products and a highlighted presence for organic providers, while the FreshMKT Learning Center will offer educational presentations on the show floor, giving attendees an opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics, including organics, retail merchandising and women in produce. Attendees in search of additional inspiration can peruse innovative products from a host of leading companies, and vote for their favorites. The winners will be revealed at the United Fresh Innovation Awards. For complete event information, visit

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Fresh Food


mushrooms into unique burgers and feature them on their menus between Memorial Day and July 31. More than 2 million consumers voted in last year’s Blended Burger Project, according to the Mushroom Council’s Kathleen Preis. In retail sales, total mushroom sales dollars increased by 3.7 percent for the 13-week promotion period. While a small number of retailers participated in last year’s campaign, the council is looking forward to greater participation in 2017 as retailers become more familiar with the Blend. “We are seeing more and more innovative grocerant concepts at stores around the country, where the Blend and an association with a James Beard

Seasonal Spotlight A range of summer promotions feature fresh produce Tomatoes NatureSweet, of San Antonio, is partnering with Palatine, Ill.-based Weber to give shoppers a chance to win a Weber grill in the Sweeten Your Grill sweepstakes. Past grilling partnerships between the two companies have resonated with consumers and retailers alike, according to NatureSweet’s Lori Castillo. For this year’s sweepstakes, consumers are invited to take a photo of how they grill with NatureSweet Glorys and Jubilees, and then upload the photo to Instagram and tag it with #NatureSweetWEBER #sweepstakes for a chance to win. NatureSweet will randomly select prize winners from photos posted between May 22 and July 8. “Digital, social media and email blasts are key components to support sales, along with in-store marketing efforts such as in-store display and POS,” explains Castillo of the program.

Vidalia Onions “This year, we know that numerous retailers will be featuring Bland Farms’ Vidalia onions in their grilling section,” says Alannah Finnan, marketing specialist for Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms, which recommends cross-promotions to boost sales of the sweet onion variety. “Creating cross-promotions involving other produce items, or even meats, allows retailers the opportunity to push Vidalia onions in different recipes, for instance, vegetable kabobs or steak/ chicken fajitas,” adds Finnan.


Foundation campaign can help upscale their menus while offering delicious and sustainable burgers to their customers,” explains Preis. To inspire food professionals and consumers to blend mushrooms into their dishes, the council has launched a Blenditarian consumer website. Retailers wishing to participate in the Project can visit For resources on how to incorporate the Blend at retail, see PG For ideas on merchandising proteins for summer grilling, visit

Vidalia Brands, a division of Bland Farms, has launched two new product lines: Vidalia O’s, frozen, beer-battered sweet-onion rings; and Vidalia Brands’ Dressings, offered in both shelf-stable and refrigerated versions. To celebrate the uniqueness of this special sweet onion, the Vidalia Onion Committee, in Vidalia, Ga., recently launched the Only Vidalia marketing campaign. “The campaign highlights the provenance of the Vidalia onion that has been handcrafted by grower artisans for more than 80 years in Georgia,” notes Executive Director Susan Waters. “The Only Vidalia campaign features advertising aimed at consumers and grocery retailers, social media content, and blogger partnerships — all inviting people to rediscover the original sweet onion.”

Peppers J&J Family of Farms, in Loxahatchee, Fla., is fired up about the sales potential of its signature field-grown colored peppers and mini peppers in summer grilling promotions. “At J&J Family of Farms, we are always looking for ways to drive vegetable consumption and grow our categories, especially the pepper category,” notes Brian Rayfield, VP of business development. “Our colored bell peppers are the staple item when it comes to recipes that consumers need for grilling. What’s a shish kabob without the bell peppers?” This summer, the only trend as hot as grilling is local, and J&J believes that sharing the origin of fresh produce items is critical to connecting with consumers. “As a grower that serves customers on a national level, we love to educate [people] about our Southeastern influence and keep building a conversation around local,” Rayfield affirms. “The deliverable on this messaging is, of course, freshness. Freshness is key to having a win/win/win experience for the grower, retailer and, ultimately, the consumer.”

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

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Pet Causes

Corporate social responsibility initiatives boost image, sales. By Kathleen Furore


ast December, shoppers who visited the Kroger store in New Castle, Ind., had the chance not only to buy groceries, but also to adopt a pet from the New Castle-Henry County Animal Shelter. The store even paid the $95-per-pet adoption fee, and handed out free pet food and toys to customers who took home a furry new family member. That event is just one example of how retailers are reaching out in ways that go beyond merchandising — and it demonstrates how the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has made its way to the pet category. “Research shows that consumers expect the companies behind their brands to act responsibly,” says Paul Cooke, VP, trade and industry relations at St. Louis-based Nestlé Purina PetCare, a company that contributed more than $31.2 million in pet supplies, food, litter and funding to U.S. pet shelters and community groups in 2016. “Consumers in general are looking to be more socially re-

sponsible in their own lives, and they want to make purchases from companies that share their values.”

Good for Pets, Good for the Community How important is CSR to your bottom line? Very, recent industry data show. More than nine in 10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause, according to the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR study. Members of this important demographic group are also willing to pay more for products from companies that are committed to issues they care about, the study found. Many pet product companies, in fact, now count products and programs that embrace CSR as cornerstones of their business strategies. Nestlé Purina PetCare, for example, sources a percentage of the corn in its pet food from the lower Wabash River region, and works with The Nature Conservancy to reduce the flow of nutrients and soil sediment along the Wabash River in Indiana

teaChaBle moment Purina one spokesman and rescue dog advocate andy Cohen visits a a school in long Island, n.Y., working with north Shore animal league america to lead a mutt-i-grees session.

May 2017 | |


“Partnering with a shelter to host an adoption weekend is something we’ve seen great success with.” —Jam Stewart. Mars Petcare

and Illinois. Nestlé Purina also sponsors education programs for children, such as Mutt-i-Grees, which highlights the unique characteristics of shelter pets and reinforces such critical skills as empathy, cooperation and ethical decision-making, and the Purina Family Pet Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, where patients and their families can reunite with their pet during the treatment process. Meanwhile, the Pedigree Adoption Drive, a campaign initiated in 2005 by Pedigree Brand, and the Pedigree Foundation, which focuses on providing grants to shelters and rescues, are among Mars Petcare’s most visible CSR initiatives. “We funded grants in 2016 that focused on bigdog and senior-dog adoptions — a trend that is on the rise,” notes Lisa Campbell, Pedigree Foundation board member and director of marketing communications at McLean, Va.-based Mars Petcare. “Since 2008, Pedigree Foundation has awarded more than $6.1 million through more than 4,700 grants to shelters and rescue organizations.” The company is now preparing to introduce Better Cities for Pets, an initiative “that aims to create enough places for every dog and cat to live, visit and play by supporting shelters, homes, businesses and

parks,” says Jam Stewart, Mars Petcare’s director of corporate communications. “Through this program, we’ve also created partnerships with local nonprofits, business and government partners.” Further, Azusa, Calif.-based Cardinal Pet runs The Crazy Pet Children’s Foundation, which awards grants to kids’ educational foundations, animal foundations or nonprofits with programs that teach children about pet care, as well as initiatives that offer hands-on experiences with animals.

Marketing Magic for Retailers Collaborating with vendors on programs with a CSR component can help boost sales in the pet aisle. Purina Cat Chow’s 2016 Nutrition to Build Better Lives promotion is one example. For every bag of Purina Cat Chow purchased in July last year, the brand donated one meal to Rescue Bank, a nonprofit that distributes pet food and other supplies to local shelters and rescue organizations across the country. Purina Supports Our Heroes, a program that supports the Dogs on Deployment, Warrior Canine Connection and Pets for Vets organizations, is another of the company’s CSR initiatives. “It takes place during the fourth quarter, when 800-837-2881

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display support in-store.” Mars Petcare’s Pedigree You Buy. We Give. initiative, which donates healthy meals to shelter dogs every time a consumer purchases the pet food, is another CSR program that has met with success at retail.

pet category sales tend to experience a slight decline,” Cooke explains. “The donation is tied to coupon redemption for brands like Dog Chow, Friskies, Tidy Cats and Beneful, and the promotion is a fully integrated effort between Purina and our customers, supported by everything from in-store merchandising and POS to FSI and online display. We provide merchandising solutions, in-store POS and customer-specific promotions in support. In many instances, these promotions may fill up half of a page of the retailer’s’ weekly circular with

Advice for Retailers How can retailers embrace CSR in the pet category? Encouraging public and private organizations to work together is one suggestion. “Partnering with a shelter to host an adoption weekend is something we’ve seen great success with,” says Stewart, while grocers like Cincinnati-based Kroger have as well. “Four out of 10 dogs and seven out of 10 cats never make it out of a shelter. And, as people focused on pets day in and day out, we know those numbers are way too high. “We know that lack of space can be a barrier to pet ownership,” she continues. “So another area in which we’d encourage retailers to get involved is helping to build and beautify parks and trails where pet parents can bring their pets.” PG

foR the love of dogs Mars Petcare’s annual sales meeting, held this year in tucson, Ariz., highlighted associates’ volunteer work at a local animal care center and a dog park.


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Omnichannel Solutions

Mind the


Grocers must address the disconnect between their omnichannel capabilities and those that consumers expect from them. By Randy Hofbauer



mnichannel is a new norm in retail. Consumers today expect to be able to find and get the products they need when, where and however they want — and have a satisfying experience, regardless of the platform. But while many retailers have invested in some level of omnichannel capabilities, their operations often aren’t on par with their customers’ growing expectations, creating a false state of “omnichannel comfort,” according to a March 2014 report from Chicago-based technology services company Accenture. “Features that only yesterday seemed game-changing are rapidly becoming the commonplace,” the report notes. The reality remains the same today in the grocery business, and as competition ramps up in this channel, food retailers, too, will need to make sure that they’re doing everything possible to keep their omnichannel capabilities efficient and effective. If they don’t narrow the gap between their own capabilities and those expected by consumers, they risk losing market share, especially with Amazon now getting more serious about groceries both online and through brick-and-mortar outlets.

May 2017 | |



We don’t categorize customers as either digital/online or in-store customers. Our customers are our customers because they like our brand, and we give them different ways to shop and engage with us. Our job is to make sure those experiences — both online and in-store — are equally engaging.” —Steve Henig, Wakefern Food Corp.


Omnichannel Solutions

A Daunting Disconnect First things first: When it comes to omnichannel, all consumers should be seen as the same, no matter what their preferred method of shopping may be. Keasby, N.J.-based retailer cooperative Wakefern Food Corp., which has operated an ecommerce program since 2002 and brick-andmortar stores under the ShopRite banner for much longer, acknowledges that its omnichannel success largely comes from the fact that it’s category-agnostic with its customers. “We don’t categorize customers as either digital/online or in-store customers,” says Steve Henig, VP of digital commerce and analytics at Wakefern. “Our customers are our customers because they like our brand, and we give them different ways to shop and engage with us. Our job is to make sure those experiences — both online and in-store — are equally engaging.” It’s tough for customers to find consistency across the different ways they interact with a retailer when omnichannel operations are fragmented to begin with, however. For instance, grocers often operate their ecommerce arm today as if it were a separate business, making it a disjointed experience from

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

both the shopper’s perspective and the back-office perspective, asserts Randy Evins, senior principal for food, drug and convenience with Newton Square, Pa.-based SAP Retail, which provides omnichannel software. “Their general category managers, the merchandisers who really run the show in the grocery business, are oblivious to what’s going on in ecommerce — they don’t participate in the determination of the product,” he says. “Their ads are maybe used if there is an ad process inside of the marketing strategy for ecommerce, but generally, the context of what the category manager does is invisible to the process, so they’re separated.” Therefore, the ecommerce shopper’s experience can differ dramatically from that of the in-store shopper. Promotions, pricing strategies and more are neither the same nor synchronized. Take ordering online as an example: Grocery ecommerce sites tend to have a lack of integration across the store, website and mobile app, according to Graeme McVie, GM and VP of Precima, a Toronto-based provider of customer analytics solutions. Some grocers outsource their ecommerce site to third parties and manage their ecommerce offering in a separate department.

Further, a number of consumers expect a grocer’s mobile app to have ordering capabilities, much like they would via the Amazon app. However, all too often, this isn’t an option. “There are instances of grocers having an app that is not enabled for ecommerce, so the customer cannot edit or place their orders from their mobile app,” McVie points out. “Data, analytics and insights need to be integrated across the stores and ecommerce, and not housed in silos, so that customers are understood holistically, and not in isolation by channel.”

are there — so why aren’t the promotions? “Many grocery ecommerce sites have a limited ability to communicate relevant offers across all channels,” McVie explains. “Consider how Amazon cross-offers with their suggestions driven by ‘Customers like you also purchased,’ and ‘Customers who purchased this item also bought these offer items.’ Some grocers have yet to incorporate this type of data intelligence into their ecommerce offerings.” This kind of communication offers shoppers exactly what they want from omnichannel — and exactly what omnichannel is supposed to provide: a personalized experience. ShopperKit’s Record notes that one of the main things his company focuses on is communication, which helps not only with substitution orders like those he mentioned earlier, but also with upselling, especially when the customer is essentially shopping by proxy through someone else. “They’re inside the store doing their shopping for you, and when you get a text from them, after the third or fourth shop, you start to recognize your proxy [person] who’s doing your shopping for you,” he notes. So if a new shipment of peaches comes in, and the shopper has the data and knowledge to know

Communication Breakdown But even if apps and websites are fully functional for ordering, incorrect or insufficient information can still make for a bad experience. One out of every 10 items on a grocery list typically will be out of stock on shelves, says Jack Record, CEO of ShopperKit, an Atlanta-based provider of instore grocery fulfillment software. What’s more, Americans are fine with this — it’s part of the shopping experience. What isn’t acceptable, however, is when a grocer’s online portal doesn’t communicate a product’s unavailability. If an order is made with a product, but delivered without it or with a substitute, shoppers have every reason to get upset. This creates two differDepartment of Justice ent shopping experiences between in-store and online: one where a reAntitrust Division placement is easily substituted by the shopper herself, and another where the product and a potential replaceTake notice that the United States has filed a proposed Final Judgment in a civil antitrust case in the ment are left out completely. United States District Court for the District of Columbia, United States of America v. Danone S.A. Then there’s the opposite problem: and The WhiteWave Foods Company, Civil Action No. 17-cv-0592-KBJ. On April 3, 2017, the A product actually is in stock, but its United States filed a Complaint alleging that Danone S.A.’s proposed acquisition of The WhiteWave status can’t be determined through a website or app due to search limitaFoods Company would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 18. The proposed Final tions or lackluster content. If a shopJudgment, filed at the same time as the Complaint, requires Danone S.A. to divest its Stonyfield per gets fed up with subpar search Farms, Inc. subsidiary, including manufacturing, administrative, storage, and distribution facilities in capabilities and descriptions, he has Londonderry, New Hampshire; trademarks to Stonyfield Farms brands, including Stonyfield and every reason to drop an order and shop elsewhere. Brown Cow; and certain other tangible and intangible assets. A Competitive Impact Statement filed “Consumers want a positive user by the United States describes the Complaint, the proposed Final Judgment, the industry, and the experience similar to the experience remedies available to private litigants who may have been injured by the alleged violation. they have when on a more typical ecommerce site like,” Copies of the Complaint, proposed Final Judgment, and Competitive Impact Statement are available McVie says. “For the most part, grocery ecommerce sites will somefor inspection on the Antitrust Division’s website at and at the Office of times have limited search capabilities, the Clerk of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. incomplete product descriptions, few customer reviews and limited abilities Interested persons may address comments to Maribeth Petrizzi, Chief, Litigation II Section, Antitrust to suggest other products that may be of interest or value.” Division, Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street NW, Suite 8700, Washington, DC 20530 This isn’t limited to strict order(telephone: 202-307-0924) within 60 days of the date of this notice. Such comments, including the ing, either, but also in communicating name of the submitter, and responses thereto, will be posted on the Antitrust Division’s website, filed recommendations, thus hurting increwith the Court, and, under certain circumstances, published in the Federal Register. mental sales potential. The products May 2017 | |



Consumers want a positive user experience similar to the experience they have when on a more typical ecommerce site like” —Graeme McVie, Precima

Omnichannel Solutions

the customer has purchased peaches before, she can upsell via text messages or even send a photo. And the in-store proxy doesn’t have to be limited to just the person shopping for the patron. It can even extend to service department experts like the butcher. “Your proxy in the store is a great butcher, [but] you may not know your butcher’s name,” Record says. “Now that you’re talking through your smartphone via text, you actually do recognize names, and you know that this guy’s a great butcher. So when he recommends the ribeyes that you want for the July 4th barbecue, you’re willing to take that into consideration and increase the basket size.” Communication also extends to how shoppers get their deals. Wakefern understands that its customers love its sales circulars and coupons, so it makes them available online, just as they still run in print format, Henig observes. And even interaction with people such as health experts falls under creating a good omnichannel platform. For instance, Wakefern sees dietitians as part of its omnichannel program, helping to create a seamless experience for customers and make their lives easier, Henig says. This is useful for

customers with specific diets who need someone in the store who can answer their dietary questions, in the same way that a quick search on Google might help when placing an order online.

Three Tips There are many ways grocers miss the mark when attempting to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience that customers expect. But there also are many ways they can close the gap between capabilities and expectations. Sy Fahimi, SVP of product at Palo Alto, Calif.-based analytics solutions provider Symphony EYC, offers a few areas where grocers should focus and adopt solutions: Personalized marketing messages and offers: Grocers should create a single view of the customer that includes shopping preferences, buying behaviors, order history, contact details, loyalty rewards and other interactions. They can leverage a sophisticated context-marketing engine to deliver timely, personalized offers and messages to consumers.



YOUR NEXT DATE: COLOGNE, OCT. 7-11, 2017 Koelnmesse Inc. 8600 W Bryn Mawr, Suite 410 North Chicago, IL 60631 Tel. +1 773 326 9922


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017



Omnichannel fulfillment: It’s critical for grocers to work more effectively across functions and channels. For instance, click-and-collect requires coordination and quick decisions across online, the supply chain and brickand-mortar locations, not to mention planning, merchandising and marketing functions, among others. Additionally, the online channel needs to know that inventory is available in the local store. Stores must be able to receive the order, reserve it and provide top-notch service on pickup. Moreover, the supply chain needs to have visibility into the movement of inventory, while marketing must be involved to effectively showcase the offering to shoppers. Inventory assortment and visibility: Food retailers must ensure three things: First, building the right assortment across channels in a way that makes the most of each channel; second, ensuring that back-end functionality is in line with what shoppers see in-store or on digital storefronts; and third, ensuring that demand-driven, suggestive ordering is the foundation for keeping up with customer service levels and ensuring that merchandise is always available for purchase at the right place and time. PG



Equipment & Design

Standing Orders As retailers adopt kiosks, suppliers enhance their capabilities. By Bob Ingram


ood retailers are using kiosks in more ways than ever, and kiosk manufacturers are keeping pace with innovations. “We have a recipe/ coupon kiosk with a printer. It also displays our circular,” says Carol Carlson, director of digital marketing at East Windsor, Conn.based Geissler’s Supermarkets. Geissler’s has also started a program of printing coupons and hanging them in front of the products. “It boosts movement on those items,” Carlson notes. “We also print off some of the recipes and place them near product to give meal ideas.” Carlson admits that she’s surprised by the number of circular views on the kiosk, because Geissler’s has physical circulars at its store entrances. “The kiosk also gives nutritional information, and we have a less interactive kiosk that hangs over our deli department and displays local business ads, our circular and special items,” she says. Located in the first aisle by the meat or deli section to give customers meal ideas before they shop, the recipe/coupon kiosk is used “frequently,” Carlson says, adding that in the future, a sandwich-ordering deli kiosk is a possibility.

Convenience and Customer Service Kiosks are popular elsewhere as well. In Hilo, Hawaii, KTA Super Stores features a Coinstar coin exchange, and Redbox and local video rental kiosks, as well as DocNow, a telemedicine kiosk. KTA President Toby Taniguchi says these kiosks offer customers convenience and community service, as well as driving incremental purchases. Regarding the installation of more kiosks in the future, Taniguchi adds, “We’re always open to what may be out there.” Meanwhile, California’s Mollie Stone’s Markets offers coffee kiosks and is exploring their expan-

sion to other locations, as well as the addition of juice and other trendy items. “We were the first grocery store to have a Starbucks in our store, back in 1998,” says Mike Stone, president and CEO of the Mill Valley, Calif.-based retailer. “We now have three Starbucks and two Peet’s coffee kiosks.” According to Stone, the kiosks are convenient and bring people into the stores, instead of their going to standalone coffee shops. “The customers appreciate it and enjoy a cup of coffee while shopping,” he says. “We also have ample parking, as opposed to customers trying to find street parking.”

Attractive Options In response to this greater interest among retailers, kiosk manufacturers are stepping up. Paul Burke, CMO at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Zivelo, maker of nine lines of kiosk chassis, says that it’s added QSR Fast Casual Kiosks — the X line — which he calls “the perfect hardware solution for the growing number of embedded cafés and restaurants within grocery stores.”

There are ample opportunities for kiosks to further enhance the customer experience all along the shopping journey.” —Frank Olea, Olea Kiosks

May 2017 | |


Equipment Nonfoods & Category Design Kiosks

We can customize everything, including the design and physical appearance of the kiosk, through graphics and custom powder-coating to match the supermarket’s branding.” —Brian McClimans, Peerless-AV

The design provides an engagement vehicle for the increasingly digitized customer, Burke adds, creating more sales and higherticket sizes, as well as freeing up associates to focus on loyalty and customer satisfaction. Kiosk Group Inc., in Frederick, Md., offers a line of tablet-based kiosk enclosures and mounts for various supermarket uses, including promotional information, loyalty programs, deli or quick-service ordering, and POS applications. “We also create custom enclosures when clients need a specific look or form factor,” adds Kiosk Group President Mike James, “and can incorporate physical keyboards, thermal printers, card readers and bar code scanners.” A new branding option at the company is magnetic bezel graphics, which allow customization of the area surrounding a tablet and quick and easy display graphics changes, according to James. “We’re currently working on a countertop model paired with a physical keyboard, and the entire unit

swivels 180 degrees,” he says, “and we’re also experimenting with some new advances in 3D printing.”

Coins of the Realm Jim Weaks, VP of the self-service coin unit at Cummins Allison, in Mount Prospect, Ill., says the company has added a mixed-bag coin collection system to its Money Machine 2 self-service coin counter. “This option makes coin redemption more feasible for grocers whose limited coin pickup options have prevented them from offering coin counters in every location,” he explains. The solution lets store managers take the coins directly to the bank or have regularly scheduled armored-car pickups, which is beneficial in rural areas where limited pickup options have prevented offering coin redemption. According to Weaks, Cummins Allison’s grocer customers have realized up to 5 percent in profit on their self-service coin programs, while other programs yield 1 percent to 2 percent. And by using recycled coins from self-service machines, grocers can save up to $500 a month

that they’d spend purchasing coins from a bank for their tills.

Self-starters Frank Olea, CEO at Los Angeles-based Olea Kiosks, notes that his company markets its Metrolite kiosk for some supermarket applications because there are “ample opportunities for kiosks to further enhance the customer experience all along the shopping journey,” not just at checkout. Olea says that the Metrolite is nimble and well equipped enough for use throughout the store, especially in smaller, boutique-like areas. Additionally, in 2016 Olea introduced its first kiosk with electronic height adjustment for shoppers with disabilities. “One button takes the unit up and down over a 10-inch vertical range,” he explains. “Right now, it’s only in our health care line, but the technology can serve any industry.” Brian McClimans, VP of sales, Americas and APAC at Peerless-AV, in Aurora, Ill., says, “Of particular interest for grocers are our smallerformat self-service solutions, which are designed to accommodate small touchscreen displays.” The company also offers large-format digital signage kiosks for advertising, digital merchandising, entertainment and wayfinding. Supermarkets can add components such as receipt printers, bar code scanners, key pads, audio systems and cameras. Peerless-AV is partnering with display and software producers on solutions like self-service checkout kiosks, and kiosks to pick up online orders and order digital photos.

and trustworthy environment,” he affirms. “We are receiving requests for installations across the country at a variety of grocers.” The company is currently working on another project suitable for supermarkets, but Miller says, “It is still in ‘stealth mode’ right now, so I can’t give any details.” What’s certain, though, is that supermarket kiosks will continue to evolve. PG


Good as Gold Kevin Miller, COO at Goldstur, in Newport Beach, Calif., notes that Goldstur has “the world’s first and only fully automated kiosk for converting old or unwanted gold, silver and platinum jewelry into cash, and is specifically designed for busy locations like grocery stores.” With a footprint of only 2 square feet, Goldstur can analyze an item and offer a cash voucher or gift card in just three minutes. “Goldstur adds revenue and increases store traffic in a convenient

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May 2017 | |


Anheuser-Busch Rolls Out Brand Makeovers On the heels of the brand’s first Super Bowl commercial, St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch’s Busch brand rolled out refreshed packaging in early April. The new packaging introduces a refreshed look that prominently features the brand’s iconic outdoor heritage centered on a crisp, cold mountain stream. The reimagined design brings a cohesive look for all brands in the Busch family, including Busch, Busch Light, Busch Ice and Busch NA. “Staying true to who we are is at the heart of everything we do, which is why we continue to focus on pillars such as racing,” says Chelsea Phillips, A-B senior director of value brands. Busch is primary sponsor of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team for 16 races this season, including The Clash at Daytona International Speedway this past February. Additionally, A-B’s Lime-A-Rita will be


the first brand in its U.S. portfolio to market exclusively to women. Led by a team of female marketers, agency partners and brewmasters, the brand is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a head-to-toe makeover that includes a new look and marketing campaign. The brand will also add five new flavors to the lineup this year. “By using the existing strength we have with female drinkers, we are poised to exclusively speak to women and bring more margarita moments to their lives,” says Selena Kalvaria,Lime-A-Rita senior director. The national campaign, “Make it a Margarita Moment,” features a series of vignettes that showcase the real conversations women have when they get together, and the role that Lime-A-Rita plays in fostering those moments. In conjunction with the new campaign, Lime-A-Rita will debut its first major redesign since 2012, inspired by pop art.;

| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

great taste runs in the family ®

The Coca-Cola Company offers a growing and evolving portfolio of categories and leadership brands with broad reach and relevance across consumer occasions and shopper missions. We support our product lineup with exceptional consumer marketing to provide your shoppers with the categories they demand and the brands they prefer. More choice equals more opportunity at

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© 2017 The Coca-Cola Company © 2017 fairlife, LLC, Core Power® is a registered trademark of fairlife, LLC | © 2017 YUP! All rights reserved | © 2017. DD IP Holder LLC and BR IP Holder LLC

Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Cold Meets Bold Cold-brew coffee already has a strong following, from behind the counters of independent coffee shops to the fridges of big-box retailers. But what about tea, which also is growing in popularity? Pure Steeps has read the leaves and is banking on the future of cold-brewed tea, adding two varieties of it to its Secret Squirrel line of cold-brew coffees: Rwandan Black and Sencha Green. The ready-to-drink organic teas are available in 12-ounce varieties, with an SRP starting at $2.89 per bottle.

Keep It Clean Consumers barely have time to clean these days, especially if the same space gets messy again shortly after. Enter Lemi Shine with two new products, Everyday Cleaner and Laundry Booster, both of which not only clean, but also help keep things that way for some time. The Everyday Cleaner takes on virtually any messes and is specially formulated to resist new ones with GunkGuard, a natural polymer that creates an invisible protective layer for long-lasting cleanliness. The Laundry Booster, available in both liquid and powder formulations, has an additive that removes tough stains and whitens and brightens even in hard water, and is formulated with FunkGuard to enhance detergent scent, not only eliminating odors in the wash, but also preventing them in clothing. The SRPs are $3.50 per bottle of the Everyday Cleaner (28 ounces) and $5.50 per pack of the Laundry Booster powder (26.5 ounces) or liquid (32 ounces).

Sticky Situation Dang Foods’ Sticky-Rice Chips aim to meet consumers’ growing interest in clean labels and adventurous eating. Made with certified-organic sticky rice, Thai coconut, sesame seeds and other simple ingredients, the products come in three varieties: Original Recipe, Sriracha Spice and Coconut Crunch. The quarter-sized chips are soaked in watermelon juice, then crisped and seasoned for a “bottom of the pan” toasty quality. They have 30 percent to 40 percent less fat than regular potato chips, as well as being vegan and free from gluten, dairy and soy. The SRP is $3.99 per 3.5-ounce family-size package.

Better Bites Pizza rolls have long been snacking favorites, though many brands are guilty of not having the cleanest ingredient decks on their products. Smart Flour Foods’ line of better-for-you pizza bites are a wholesome and cleaner take in this space, made with a proprietary flour blend containing ancient grains such as sorghum, amaranth and teff, as well as chia. The frozen bites come in such flavors as Three Cheese, Uncured Pepperoni, and Pepperoni & Sausage Combo, and are filled with a real, hormone-free blend of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, along with uncured, vegetarian-fed, and antibiotic-, nitrate- and nitrite-free pepperoni in the meat versions. They’re certified gluten-free, free from artificial flavors and colors, made with several organic ingredients, and free from allergens such as wheat, nuts, tree nuts and eggs. The SRPs range from $3.99 to $4.99.


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

Index Airius


Madrona Specialty Foods

92 34

Anchor Packaging


Mars Chocolate NA/ Wrigley

Arla Foods


MasonWays Indestructible Plastics

Beiersdorf USA


Blount Fine Foods



MEIJI America




Boston Beer/Samuel Adams Brewery Tour Line


New Pig

Campbell Soup Company


Ole Mexican Foods


Cheyenne International


Perfetti Van Melle USA Inc.




Peri & Sons Farms

Coca Cola NA



Insert 35



Pernod Ricard


Pompeian Olive Oil


Creekstone Farms


Poppies International

Crown Imports LLC


Premier Nutrition

CSM Bakery Products


Sandridge Food Corporation


Dean Foods Co.

Inside Front Cover


Saputo Cheese Usa Inc.



Sato of America


Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc.



Dietz & Watson Inc.

77 Inside Back Cover

Domino Foods E&J Gallo Envirocon Technologies Ferrero USA Inc. Florida Department of Citrus

32 3 116 Back Cover 101

Flowers Foods


Forte Products


Gold Medal Products


Heineken USA Inc.


Hidden Villa Ranch


Insert 51

Specialty Food Association


Stonefire Authentic Flatbreads


Stout Beverages, LLC


Summit Brands


Sweet Street


TH Foods


The Hershey Company


The Spice Lab


Thermal Technologies Inc.


Tosca Ltd.


Toufayan Bakeries


Transcontinental Robbie

Iovate Health Sciences Int’l Inc.


J. Skinner Baking Company


Trion Industries Inc.

Jelly Belly Candy Company


TW Garner Food Co / Green Mountain Gringo

Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher 113 John Wm Macy’s Cheesesticks Inc.


JTM Foods


Just Desserts


Tyson Foods

United StateS MarketS Convenience • Grocery/Drug/Mass Store Brands • Specialty Gourmet Technology • Hospitality • Apparel

Canadian MarketS • Convenience • Pharmacy • Foodservice

advertiSing SaleS & BUSineSS Staff Peter Hoyt President & CEO 773-992-4456



Diva International Inc.

570 Lake Cook Rd, Suite 310, Deerfield, IL 60015 Phone: 224 632-8200 Fax: 224 632-8266

24-25, 87 9 47

Cover Tip, 10-11, 48-49

Unified Grocers


Unilever North America

23 4 59

Kimberly-Clark Co.


Wild Blueberry Assoc Of North America - Canada

Koelnmesse GMBH


WM Wrigley Jr. Company

Progressive Grocer (ISSN 0033-0787, USPS 920-600) is published monthly by EnsembleIQ, 570 Lake Cook Rd. Deerfield IL 60015. Single copy price $10, except selected special issues. Subscription: $135 a year; Canada $164 (Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40031729. Foreign $270 (call for air mail rates). Periodicals postage paid at Deerfield, IL 60015 and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: Send all address changes to Progressive Grocer, P.O. Box 1842 Lowell, MA 01853. Copyright ©2017 EnsembleIQ All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce in whole or in part. All letters to the editors of this magazine will be treated as having been submitted for publication. The magazine reserves the right to edit and abridge them. The publication is available in microform from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.

Richard Rivera Chief Operating Officer 973-264-4380 Jeff Greisch Chief Brand Officer 224-337-4029 Ned Bardic Chief Customer Officer/President of Strategic Platforms 224-632-8224 Katie Brennan Senior Vice President/Brand Director 201-855-7609 • Cell: 917-859-3619 Rick Neigher Western Regional Sales Manager (CA, OR, WA) 818-597-9029 Mike Shaw Northeast, Marketing Manager 201-855-7631 • Cell 201-281-9100 Angela Flatland (AR, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MI, MO, NE, Midwest, Marketing Manager ND, OK, SD, TN, WI) 224-229-0547 Cell: 608-320-4421 Jackie Batson Advertising Manager 224-632-8183

May 2017 | |


The Last By Meg Major

Putting Change to the Test

B Making a swing change is complicated. But with proper determination, a resolute change not only improves overall performance, but also makes the game far more enjoyable.

en Hogan said that the best part of golf is improving, and the most common approach taken to that end begins with adjusting one’s swing. However, there’s a strong tendency to become so absorbed in the swing alone that other parts of the game suffer. So it goes for Target Corp., which clocks in at No. 16 on our annual Super 50 countdown and which we categorized among those retailers that are adjusting their respective swings. After recently moving to shutter a number of innovation-related projects that it’s been preoccupied with during the past few years, Target CEO Brian Cornell affirmed during a call with investors in late February that the “seismic shift” the retail industry is experiencing is putting tremendous strain on its brick-and-mortar business. To stem the tide, Target is now prioritizing “a smart network of physical and digital assets,” per Cornell, fueled by a $2 billion investment this year, and $7 billion over the next three years, to power its increased focus on digital, pricing, development and support of new signature brands. As for its food segment — which generates $18.5 billion in annual sales and accounts for one-quarter of its total pie — the Minneapolis-based retailer is bent on leveraging it as part of its overall strategy. A linchpin in this grocery U-turn is the recent arrival of Kroger veteran Jeff Burt, who joined the retailer as SVP of grocery, fresh food and beverage from his most recent role as president of the Cincinnati-based company’s Fred Meyer division. Burt’s arrival fits well with Target’s plans to open 130 small-format stores by 2019, alongside an aggressive agenda to “reimagine” another 600 of its existing 1,800 national locations, which are currently within a 10-mile-or-less radius of three-quarters of the American population. The density of those large stores, filled with lots of merchandise, are a strong advantage for Target, which is in a great position to fulfill online orders with quick turnaround. Without rapidly building a massive network of physical stores or acquiring a conventional retailer, Amazon, grocery’s boogeyman, is facing an uphill

Meg Major Chief Content Editor Twitter @Meg_Major/@pgrocer


| Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What’s Next | May 2017

battle of its own. So whether Target’s turnaround efforts click remains to be seen, but its willingness to adjust is certainly worth watching. It’s also been a busy period for the Twin Cities’ other retail swing adjuster, Supervalu Inc., at No. 19, which after completing the complex sale of its SaveA-Lot division, saw its most recent fourth-quarter financial performance adding $577 million to its bottom line, proceeds from which put it in an ideal position to acquire Unified Grocers for $375 million. The transaction, comprising $114 million in cash for all of Unified’s outstanding stock, plus the assumption and payoff of the Commerce, Calif.-based co-op’s $261 million debt, will fast-track the Minneapolisbased wholesaler-distributor-retailer to return to its wholesale roots by fusing two highly complementary grocery wholesale organizations that had combined sales of roughly $16 billion in 2016. Another Super 50 contender is 22nd-ranked Modesto, Calif.-based Save Mart Cos., which has been making moves to enhance its game, foremost being the appointment of Nicole Piccinini Pesco to CEO. Most recently co-president and chief strategy and branding officer, Pesco — daughter of Robert “Bob” Piccinini, late owner/chairman of the 207-store regional chain — led Save Mart’s launch of its first new store format in more than 20 years: Lucky California in the Bay Area. In her new role, Pesco is moving to accelerate the market share of the company’s Save Mart, Lucky and FoodMaxx banners via a reinvigoration of each, including investments to modernize and expand them with new features geared toward convenience, service and experience. Meanwhile, the world of limited assortment is poised for further transformation. With Lidl’s forthcoming U.S. expansion set to unfold, a former executive of its international team has signed on to lead 29th-ranked Save-A-Lot following its spinoff by Supervalu to Toronto private equity firm Onex. Replacing its most recent CEO, Eric Claus — who took the helm of Save-A-Lot in December 2015 from former owner Supervalu — is Ireland native Kenneth McGrath, who exited Lidl in mid-2015 after being named to lead the German discounter’s U.S. effort in 2013. As the first major executive move for Earth City, Mo.-based Save-A-Lot under new ownership, McGrath’s late-April arrival depicts how seriously it’s taking Lidl’s stateside summer entrance. Indeed, as golfers know, changing one’s swing is complicated. But with determination and ample effort, a resolute change not only improves overall performance, but also makes the game far more enjoyable than being trapped in the bunker. PG

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