PG - Oct 2019

Page 1

Comprehensive Fresh Guide offers a deep dive into perimeter products

TOP OF MIND Retail Produce & Floral Review finds category still primary driver for shoppers MERRY MERCHANDISING Setting the stage for higher holiday candy and snack sales OLD HABITS PG Pet tells why grocers should cater to senior pet needs



October 2019

Volume 98, Number 10

THE NO-TIME-TO-COOK SOLUTION Your deli customers can bring home our xperience that is quick, convenient and purely delicious. , lay vors and culinary expertise, our sides are loaded with capabilities. F en hot-to-go sides program, contact your Blount sales rep at 774.888.1300 PROVEN. PREFERRED. PROFITABLE




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LOYAL CUSTOMERS Loving pet parents are spending more than ever on their “fur babies” — and buying their favorite foods and snacks again and again. Capture your share of category growth with these beloved brands, including new products to help you meet evolving demand. Contact your J.M. Smucker Company rep to learn more and stock up.

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Contents 10.19

Volume 98 Issue 10




Reshaping Grocery From the Ground Up

In the race to own the omnichannel experience, Walmart is emerging as the front-runner.

Departments 8 EDITOR’S NOTE

The Race to Grocery’s Future 10 IN-STORE EVENTS CALENDAR

December 2019



Cross Purposes

Developing creative ways to group complementary products at retail is key to lifting sales and shopper satisfaction. 51 SPECIAL SECTION

The Fresh Guide

An in-depth look at one of the fastest-growing, innovation-rich areas in grocery.



Everything Is Better With Bacon

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats




Total Meal Solutions Summit Delights and Inspires


Fruits and Vegetables 20 ALL’S WELLNESS


Health in the Freezer Case



Contents 10.19

Volume 98 Issue 10

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 773-992-4450 Fax: 773-992-4455


Rise to the Occasion

Selling candy and snacks during the winter holidays means creating in-store seasonal excitement. 74 PROGRESSIVE GROCER’S RETAIL PRODUCE & FLORAL REVIEW

The Primacy of Produce

GROCERY GROUP EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Mike Troy 813-857-6512 EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR James Dudlicek 224-632-8238 MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603


SENIOR EDITOR Gina Acosta 813-417-4149 SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Abby Kleckler 773-992-4405 CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Princess Jones Curtis, D. Gail Fleenor and Lynn Petrak

This year’s survey shows that the category still helps customers decide where to shop.





The Strength of the Smartphone

AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Elizabeth Jackson 847-492-1350, ext. 318 SUBSCRIBER SERVICES/SINGLE-COPY PURCHASES 847-564-1468 or email at

Grocers’ mobile technologies are empowering in-store customers to own their shopping trips and their purchases.




Old Dogs, New Tricks

ART DIRECTOR Bill Antkowiak

Grocers should start addressing the needs of the nation’s growing contingent of aging pets.





86 6

Holiday troubles are part of the celebration. Heineken will help your customers enjoy them. While the social media-worthy Holiday moments are worth posting for “likes”, those that can’t be posted are the real stories worth sharing with friends. Encourage your customers to celebrate every holiday moment with Heineken.


















Contact your sales representative today. 1 3

Nielsen FDCM+ 52 Weeks Ending 4-20-19 Nielsen Total US Food 26 Weeks Ending 4-20-19


EDITOR’S NOTE By Jim Dudlicek

The Race to Grocery’s Future his year’s selection of Progressive Grocer’s Retailer of the Year became clear fairly early in our nomination process. In 2019, one retailer dominated our headlines with reports of innovation and disruption. But even as we finished our feature on Walmart (page 26), an arch-competitor threatened to upstage the mega-retailer. Of course, I’m talking about Amazon. Back in March, word leaked out that the e-tailer, not satisfied with owning Whole Foods Market and rolling out new Amazon Go locations, planned to launch an entirely new grocery store chain. Just as this issue was ready to go to press, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon’s new grocery venture would launch by year’s end, with a dozen leases signed in greater Los Angeles and sites staked out in Chicago and Philadelphia. Am I crazy, or does each Amazon move strike progressively less fear into the grocery market? Well, at least among those who are aggressively investing in the transformation of their businesses, like Walmart and other large players. I mean, traditional grocers panicked at first in the face of a pure e-tailer. So they invested in online and made a pretty good showing; depending on who you talk to, Walmart is as good as or better than Amazon Accelerating at the online game. Now, Am- convenience, azon’s latest investments are in brick and mortar, against peo- broadening ple who have been doing brick assortment and and mortar for decades. So, what does Amazon’s forcing e-tail to new venture mean? face its greatest “First, I believe they will extend additional benefits to Prime fear: prepared members that will encourage foods. and reward shopping behavior at their grocery locations,” Kevin Sterneckert, CMO at Symphony RetailAI, tells PG. “Secondly, I expect Amazon to offer delivery in less than two hours, which is typically much faster than most grocers can commit to today.” Beyond that, Amazon could extend its marketplace to introduce additional vendors into physical stores. “What you’ll find in an Amazon grocery store will most likely differ in assortment from what’s already established in Whole Foods, but we’ll certainly see more of Amazon’s private label products. And because 8

early reports point to the buildout of kitchens in the spaces Amazon has leased, we’ll see Amazon offer fresh and ready-made meal options prepared onsite, which presents some uncharted territory for the ecommerce giant,” Sterneckert says. “Where I think today’s grocers have a slight advantage to Amazon at the moment is in the intricacies of the grocery supply chain, fulfillment and distribution infrastructure, and the unique ability to understand consumer demand between fresh and the center store. I expect to see Amazon looking for seasoned executives with the right experience, picking off talent across the business as they go.” Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus, tells us that he expects this to make Amazon an even more formidable omnichannel competitor: “Amazon has shown clear commitment to optimizing its entire omnichannel experience. Its physical grocery stores will certainly use expansive shopper data to merge the in-store and online grocery experience, and use its valuable insights into shopper behavior to deliver impactful shopping experiences.” Perrier says traditional grocers can no longer rely solely on physical footprint to differentiate themselves from digital natives like Amazon and, increasingly so, Walmart. “They can begin by consistently modeling shopper behavior and invest in digital best practices that complement in-store and online shopper experiences,” he suggests. “Since Amazon hasn’t wholly absorbed Whole Foods, I believe it’s time for Amazon to shutter the Whole Foods brand and call it by a different name, such as Amazon Foods, in order to anchor the value end of the market.” Is the industry in for a Walmart-Amazon catfight, with the others just trying to keep up? It’s going to be fun to watch. CORRECTION In the Editors’ Picks feature that ran in Progressive Grocer ’s September 2019 issue, Happy Egg Free Range Blue & Brown Heritage Breed Eggs were mistakenly referred to as Certified Humane. The Happy Egg Co.’s products are American Humane Certified.

Jim Dudlicek Editorial Director Twitter @jimdudlicek




Buckwheat Month National Pear Month National Tropical Fruits Month

Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month Stress-Free Family Holidays Month

Worldwide Food Service Safety Month
















Eat a Red Apple Day. They say it keeps the doctor away.

National Brownie Day


National Lemon Cupcake Day

National Fritters Day

Christmas Card Day

Advent begins. Break out the calendars with the little pieces of chocolate behind the doors.

National Pastry Day

In honor of National Lager Day, hold an allday tasting of local brands.



National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Now might be the time to offer the chocolate-coated crickets.

National Maple Syrup Day

National Cookie Day. Solicit consumers’ favorite holiday recipes on social media.

National Noodle Ring Day

Repeal Day. Mark the anniversary of the day that Prohibition ended by offering a sale on spirits.

Poinsettia Day. Have your plant section well stocked with these festive favorites.



National Roast Suckling Pig Day

National Hard Candy Day

Bake Cookies Day

Oatmeal Muffin Day

For National Gazpacho Day, post a recipe for the classic cold soup by the fresh tomatoes in the produce section.

Ice Cream Day. Who cares how cold it is outside?

National Cotton Candy Day. Erect a fairground-type stand selling the confection in the parking lot.

National Bouillabaisse Day Roast Chestnuts Day


National Ugly Sweater Day


National Coquito Day. Hold an instore demonstration showing how to make this Puerto Rican holiday drink akin to egg nog. Winter Solstice


Hanukkah begins.


National Date Nut Bread Day

Festivus. As famously noted on TV’s “Seinfeld,” it’s for the rest of us.



National Pepper Pot Day. Pay homage to the soup that won the Revolutionary War.


National Bicarbonate of Soda Day National Bacon Day


National Chocolate Day National Egg Nog Day


New Year’s Eve. Raise a glass to your hard-working associates.



National Pumpkin Pie Day

National Candy Cane Day

Christmas Day

Boxing Day


National Fruitcake Day. Well, duh.


National Chocolate Candy Day. Offer what’s left at a discount.

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Research & Analysis

Meat Flavors Drive Excitement Meat — whether fresh, frozen or value-added — will always be a staple in retail. Keeping consumers interested with new cuts or flavors is the challenge. You can perk up the perimeter with inspiration from restaurants, though, where operators live by the motto, “Everything is better with bacon.” These four idea starters span the spectrum from unique and unctuous (bone marrow) to safe and savory (bacon). Remember, it’s always good to merchandise the familiar with the adventurous — we call it safe experimentation. Bone Marrow MAC stage: Inception — Ethnic markets, ethnic independents, and fine dining. Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation and presentation.

This rich, fatty, gelatin-like tissue, found on the inside of animal bones, has a buttery, mineral flavor. Commonly used in soup stocks, or split open, roasted and served with bread, it offers a rich flavor and soft texture that make it a great substitute for foie gras.

Chicken Sausage MAC stage: Proliferation — Proliferation-stage trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal.

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

Often combined with popular applications (on a burger, pasta, etc.).

Bison is often thought to be healthier than beef, and it’s often free from antibiotics and hormones. This lean, tender meat is most frequently served as a burger and commands a premium price over its beef equivalent. On 2.1% of U.S. restaurant menus Up 16% on menus over the past four years

On 2.1% of U.S. restaurant menus

76% of consumers know it, 29% have tried it

Up 41% on menus over the past four years

Menu Example Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery Bison Prairie Burger Seasoned smash-griddled bison burger topped with sautéed poblano peppers, mushrooms, pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo and chipotle mayonnaise

61% of consumers know it, 15% have tried it Menu Example Herb & Wood Bone Marrow Pizza Bone marrow, escargot, gruyere, fines herbes and caramelized onions


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

Ground chicken is often mixed with bread crumbs and spices, and filled into a casing. While frequently featured as a protein side on breakfast menus, it’s also used as a pizza topping or served “hot dog style” on a bun. On 3.9% of U.S. restaurant menus Up 16% over the past four years 74% of consumers know it, 43% have tried it Menu Example Dave and Buster’s Asian Chicken Wonton Nachos All-natural ginger sesame chicken sausage tossed in house-made sriracha honey soy glaze and roasted Asian slaw, drizzled with ginger lime crema

Bacon MAC stage: Ubiquity — Ubiquity-stage trends have reached maturity, and can be found across all sectors of the food industry. Though often diluted by this point, their inception-stage roots are still recognizable. These fatty strips of cured pork (hungry yet?) are commonly smoked, flavored or otherwise seasoned. This versatile and popular ingredient appears in all three dayparts as a side, topping or even center-of-plate offering. Even desserts (maple bacon brownies) and cocktails (Bloody Marys) have benefited from the flavor-enhancing power of cured pork. On 71% of U.S. menus Up 3% over the past four years 95% of consumers know it, 88% have tried it Menu Example Cracker Barrel Bacon Baked Beans Smoky beans cooked traditionally with tomato, mustard and spices, and topped with chopped bacon for extra flavor


INNOVATION AND VARIATION Jack Link’s new flavors and exciting product variety continue to ring the bell at the cash register.

COLD CRAFTED LINKWICH™: COLBY JACK & HARD SALAMI, PEPPER JACK & GENOA SALAMI, CHEDDAR & HARD SALAMI Family-friendly; the ultimate breadless sandwich – keep refrigerated.

ORIGINAL RECIPE & SPICY RED PEPPER BEEF SMOKED SAUSAGES Since 1885, generations of Links have worked in the smokehouse to master the craft of making smoked sausages. That craft continues today.

ON THE HUNT FOR THE MODERN SNACKER? You need to offer products that are:

✔ PROTEIN-RICH ✔ COMPLETELY FILLING ✔ FAMILY-FRIENDLY ✔ ON-THE-GO Jack Link’s delivers snacks that defeat those daily hunger pangs while packing in the protein. It’s food that suits the latest diet trends – whether paleo, keto or diabetes-friendly – and satisfies today’s busy consumer.

ZERO SUGAR ORIGINAL BEEF JERKY An excellent source of protein without the sugar. Introducing your new zero hero.

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In other words, your customers will eat them up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cheese and Fresh Pasta

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Shelf Stoppers

Shelf Stoppers



(52 weeks ending April 2, 2016)

Basket Facts

Total Department Performance Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 07/13/19

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 07/14/18

Latest 52 Wks W/E 07/15/17





Top Dairy Supercategories by Dollar Sales Cheese






How much is the Consumers chose average American frozen broccoli over alternatives for household a variety of reasons: spending per trip on various dairy products? 12% because it’s quick and easy




because it tastes great


$5.83 9%

8,000,000,000 6,000,000,000

on cheese, 2% less than a year ago

Spotlight on Frozen Broccoli




Broccoli as an ingredient is most commonly consumed at dinner, followed by lunch.

Frozen broccoli is most often used in a side dish, followed by as a main entrée.

0 Latest 52 Wks W/E 07/13/19


Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 07/14/18

3% Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 07/15/17



because it’s low in calories, fat and sugar


Total U.S. xAOC (all outlets combined) – includes grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, select dollar stores, select warehouse clubs and military commissaries OCCASION (DeCA) MEAL ITEM 29% 13, 2019 Period: Latest 52 weeks, week ending July - top five categories TYPE 62% 35% Source: Nielsen Retail Measurement Services, inclusive of Nielsen’s Total Food View

because it’s healthy and nutritious

on yogurt, 3% more than a year ago


We continue to seeDINNER dynamic shifts demands of American consumers in dairyOTHER LUNCHin the OTHER SIDE DISH MAIN ENTRÉE aisles. Traditional dairy-based options such as cow’s milk and yogurt continue to decline annually. Alternatives to these traditional products, such as nondairy yogurt or almond milk, continue to increase annually. In fact, nondairy milk alternatives continue to drive consistent returns, exceeding 5% in sales growth in each of the last two years. Whether dairy-based or not, in order to win in aisles today, your consumers must be assured of the taste and functional benefit of key ingredients in the products they buy.”

$3.48 on milk products, roughly the same as a year ago

—Lauren Fernandes, Manager-Strategy and Analytics, Nielsen

Generational Snapshot


Which cohort is spending, on average, the most per trip on cheese?

on eggs, 1% more than a year ago Millennials

Gen Xers


The Greatest Generation





Source: Nielsen Homescan Data Total U.S., 52 weeks ending June 29, 2019


Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending June 29, 2019

Š General Mills


Global New Products Database

Fruits and Vegetables Market Overview

The fruit category is seeing slow growth, with a modest 1.4% increase from 2018 to reach $42.2 billion in sales in 2019. The fresh fruit segment dominates fruit sales, with its success positively impacting category sales overall, but it does steal market share away from center-of-store segments such as frozen and canned/jarred fruit. The vegetable category grew by double digits over the past five years, a trend expected to continue. Fresh vegetables are drawing upon the widespread appeal of natural as a selling point, while frozen vegetables continue to leverage consumer interest in options that are promised to be picked and frozen at the peak of ripeness and to lock in nutrients.


Key Issues

77% of consumers report eating loose fresh fruit, making the segment far more popular than all other fruit formats.


What Does It Mean?

Snacking is a popular occasion for the fruit category, but growth will rely on consumers finding ways to incorporate fruit into other meal times.

Whether through product innovation or increased messaging, brands will need to find ways to differentiate themselves from private label to grab consumers’ attention.

Price strongly impacts consumers’ choice of vegetables, and rising costs may well lead consumers either to lessen their overall consumption rates, seek less-expensive alternatives, or even consider vegetable forms with a longer shelf life to prevent waste.

Plant-based proteins and the use of vegetables prominently in other categories could foreshadow distinct competition looming, as well as an opportunity for brands and companies in the vegetable category.

Brand names have a low impact when it comes to purchasing fruits and vegetables, with consumers continuing to opt for private label across all segments. Growth in the vegetable industry is primarily among fresh and frozen vegetables, as shelf-stable options continue to erode sales amid consumer concerns about shelf-stable foods being overly processed. Vegetable plantings and production have steadily dropped in recent years.

s. re also supply chain fanatic fanatics, which means we’ h fres re we’ it— p hel ’t We can s. fanatics. Food safety fanatic lity fanatics. Sustainability qua And s. atic fan tion And innova ours. g your business along with And fanatics about growin



Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc

©2019 Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc.


Health in the Freezer Case TURN THE SECTION INTO A WELLNESS DESTINATION. oday’s health-conscious consumers seek fresh, natural and minimally processed foods with beneficial ingredients that help to fight disease and promote good health. Yet convenience remains a key consumption driver, as 63 percent of Americans decide what to eat less than an hour before a meal. Lack of advanced meal planning and the need for convenience are factors helping to drive frozen food sales, which grew 2.6 percent in 2018. Frozen foods need an image makeover among low-frequency purchasers, however. Negative perceptions persist regarding healthfulness, quality, degree of processing and high sodium content, presenting major opportunities for retailers. Understanding what consumers appreciate about frozen foods is an important first step.

What Do Consumers Like About Frozen Foods? Provide Backup Solutions Eight out of 10 shoppers like having frozen foods in stock as the ultimate backup solution for home meals. Particularly when shoppers are out of time, frozen foods fill the need for something quick, either as complete meals or ingredients at the ready. Fill in the Gaps Frozen foods help fill in the gaps between shopping trips, as households start to run low on fresh food supplies. The combination of extended shelf life and ease of preparation gives frozen foods an advantage over fresh foods when quality, taste and price are equal. Satisfy Cravings Frozen foods can satisfy evolving taste preferences for foods that shoppers either don’t know how or don’t want to make themselves. This is especially true for Gen Z and younger Millennial shoppers, who may be receptive to inspirational selling of boldly flavored or ethnic meals featuring frozen ingredients. Deliver Desired Attributes Seventy percent of shoppers are concerned with better-for-me claims, while two-thirds purchase frozen items specifically because of nutrition, planet, worker or animal welfare concerns. Likewise, free-from frozen products, addressing preservatives, sodium, GMO, organic and gluten, are growing faster than the rest of the store. Niche shoppers also seek kosher, vegetarian, keto, and Paleo claims, as well as U.S.-sourced products. Add Nutritional Value The freezer aisle offers an array of better-foryou options controlled in calories, saturated fat or sodium, or product


attributes such as plant-based, high fiber and good source of protein, along with real, recognizable ingredients. Frozen meat alternatives and seafood are poised for growth as traction builds among health-conscious consumers. Gain All-Day Convenience Consumers seek convenience throughout the day. Frozen breakfast items are growing. Frozen fruit sales are up, too, fueled in part by the breakfast smoothie trend. Bringing frozen lunches to work offers consumers an alternative to eating out or meal skipping. And with 94 percent of adults snacking daily, frozen snacks deliver instant gratification.

Driving Frozen Food Sales

First, track healthy food trends — such as plant-based eating, emerging popularity of specific foods, flavors, and the changing menu landscape — to help shelve the right mix of frozen offerings. Then use signage to group and organize frozen products and highlight new item introductions. Use sampling programs, social media recommendations and sale promotions to draw shoppers to the frozen aisle, prompt trial and boost frequency of frozen food consumption. Additionally, retail dietitians can educate consumers about the many ways that frozen foods can contribute to healthful eating. Karen Buch, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who specializes in retail dietetics, and food and culinary nutrition communications. One of the first supermarket dietitians, she is now founder of, and principal consultant at, Nutrition Connections LLC, providing consulting services nationwide. You can connect with her on Twitter @karenbuch and at



BOLD LEADERSHIP: A diverse leadership team that sets, shares and measures equality targets openly. COMPREHENSIVE ACTION: Policies and practices that are family-friendly, support both genders, and are bias-free in attracting and retaining people. AN EMPOWERING ENVIRONMENT: One that trusts employees, respects individuals, and offers freedom to be creative and to train and work flexibly. These are areas so familiar to the Network of Executive Women (NEW), which I lead. We see concrete actions in these areas of the business lead to concrete results with

As many of us follow the progress that the U.S. women’s national soccer team is making for equal pay, I’m reminded of research findings released last year by Accenture, “When She Rises, We All Rise.” Based on survey data from more than 22,000 working men and women across 34 countries, the findings define the characteristics in corporate culture that drive equality. Policies and programs that advance women are key to females advancing, to equal pay, to the kind of gender diversity that equals good business. But the Accenture report found that beyond those results, a culture that supports equality means that everyone rises. In those cultures, women are four times more likely, and men are two times more likely, to rise to senior management positions. What I love about this study is the science. This is not about broad generalizations; there’s a formula that works. Out of more than 200 personal and workplace factors studied, like behaviors and collective employee opinions, Accenture pinpointed 40 that are statistically shown to influence advancement, including 14 that are the most likely to make positive change happen. And here’s the link to what the U.S. women’s soccer team is fighting for: When companies make these factors the most common ones in their culture, it impacts women’s pay. Women’s salary and wages could increase by 51%, or up to an additional $30,000 per woman each year. Globally, that boosts women’s earnings by $2.9 trillion. Using these findings, businesses have a concrete way to begin to adjust pay gaps in a way that sports has yet to do. I read profiles recently on the 30 highest-paid tennis players of all time. No. 1 was male tennis player Novak Djokovic, who clocked in at $131 million. Female player Serena Williams was the fourth-highest paid player, with $88.7 million in winnings. That’s quite a gap, considering that Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles (72 overall titles), compared with Djokovic’s 15 Grand Slam and 74 overall titles. Businesses can begin to make progress now by creating a culture of equality. The Accenture report findings group the 40 advancement/equality factors into three categories, and here I’ll quote from the report:


Bold Leadership Gender diversity is a priority for management. A diversity target or goal is shared outside the organization. The organization clearly states gender pay-gap goals and ambitions.

Comprehensive Action Progress has been made in attracting, retaining and progressing women. The company has a women’s network. The company’s women’s network is open to men. Men are encouraged to take parental leave.

An Empowering Environment Employees have never been asked to change their appearance to conform to company culture. Employees have the freedom to be creative and innovative. Virtual/remote working is widely available and is common practice. The organization provides training to keep its employees’ skills relevant. Employees can avoid overseas or longdistance travel via virtual meetings. Employees can work from home on a day when they have a personal commitment. Employees are comfortable reporting sex discrimination/sexual harassment incident(s) to the company.

our member companies — like PepsiCo. In its Frito-Lay business, PepsiCo has paired future women leaders with sponsors at the VP level or above, in 18-month sprints. In 2018, the program — in its third round — was showing great results. Women in it were being promoted at a 70% higher rate than female employees overall. Check out NEW’s “The Female Leadership Crisis” report for more detail. The important thing to note is that in addition to this program and others to champion women, PepsiCo is making cultural changes to support an environment in which all can rise. Both are required to exact real change. I mentioned at the beginning that there are 14 cultural drivers most likely to enable positive change. You’ll see that some of them are specific to women — pay-gap goals, a women’s network — but others are targeted at men, like males being encouraged to take parental leave. And some apply to both genders, from remote working opportunities to broader diversity targets. As you can see, the report is aptly titled. When she rises, we really all do rise. As you look at your own company, how many of these factors play a prominent role in shaping your culture? Maybe that’s a conversation to start. Here’s to our talented, brave women soccer players as they make not only history — but, hopefully, also great strides toward gender equality. Equal-pay and tennis champion Billie Jean King




put it best in a recent Los Angeles Times article: “People have a very different outlook now when it comes to equal pay,” King said. “In the old days, it was a much different road. No one thought we should get paid equally. They didn’t care. That’s changed. It’s the right thing to do for everyone. Would you pay your little girl less allowance than your little boy? No. Let’s just do the right thing. It’s an issue everywhere, not just in sports. We have single mothers trying to support their families on less pay then men. It’s not right. We need everyone to step up and do the right thing.” King and the U.S. women’s soccer team have elevated the pay-gap conversation. There’s no reason that the rest of us can’t do so in our own organizations. That’s usually how the road to progress starts. And I’m all for speed in the journey.

Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, a learning and leadership community representing 12,400 members in 22 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at




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Total Meal Solutions Summit

Total Meal Solutions Summit Delights and Inspires PG E VENT L AUNCHES TO GRE AT RECEPTION IN AUSTIN. By Jim Dudlicek rogressive Grocer hosted its inaugural Total Meal Solutions Summit on Sept. 9-10, at the JW Marriott in downtown Austin, Texas. Grocery retailers started their day with a bus tour of Austin, stopping first at Easy Tiger, a bakery and beer garden that makes baked goods for sale in its own shop as well as at Austin-area retailers, along with house-made charcuterie. After sampling some of Easy Tiger’s wares, the tour moved on to Wheatsville Co-op, Texas’ only co-op grocer, focusing on natural, locally procured products and prepared foods. The tour finished the morning at Austin’s Rainey Street Food Truck Court, where attendees sampled gourmet grilled cheese and barbecue sandwiches. On return to home base, retailers broke into groups for their first round of immersion tours, enjoying face-to-face meetings with sponsoring exhibitors. Content sessions included a presentation on menu trends by Datassential, followed by concurrent sessions focusing on meal kits, cross-merchandising, tech applications and culinary influences in meal solutions. Following a second round of immersion tours, attendees enjoyed an evening cocktail reception highlighted by the Chef Showcase, in which two chefs from Midwestern grocery chain Hy-Vee created dishes using a selection of ingredients revealed to them on stage. Interactive food theater and sampling brought the first day to a close. Food Network star Jeff Mauro opened day two with his keynote address, question-and-answer session, and a meet-and-greet with attendees following presentation of Progressive Grocer’s Total Meal Solutions Awards, revealed in PG’s August 2019 issue. Rounding out the event were a presentation by the Food Marketing Institute on its 2019 "Power of Foodservice" report and original consumer research by PG and EnsembleIQ. The Total Meal Solutions Summit will return to Austin in 2020 — watch the summit website for details.


Food Network star Jeff Mauro discusses his restaurant concept’s entry into grocery (top). Immersion tours allowed retailers and exhibitors to meet one on one (above). The bus tour included a stop at Austin’s Rainey Street Food Truck Court (right).

Retailers discuss their winning Total Meal Solutions Awards entries (left); Rick Stein and Anne-Marie Roerink present FMI's Power of Foodservice report (below).

Thanks to Our Summit Sponsors Avery Dennison Coca-Cola LK Packaging Litehouse Foods McCormick MillerCoors Nestlé Professional NuTek Food Science Giovanni Rana Ruiz Foods Sigma/Fiorucci SunButter Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Hy-Vee chefs Neal Meier (left) and Edi Cucurullo treated guests to a show of their culinary prowess.

View the Video Watch video highlights of the Total Meal Solutions Summit at watch?v=jIO8DW3tJv4. Visit the summit website at PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2019



from the In the race to own the omnichannel experience, Walmart is emerging as the front-runner. By Jim Dudlicek


Autonomous delivery vehicles, stock-checking robots and an intelligent retail lab are among Walmart’s investments in the future.





Why Walmart? Walmart dominated the business news headlines over the past 12 months. Here’s a few of the stories we reported that influenced our selection of PG’s Retailer of the Year:

Walmart Inc. President and CEO Doug McMillon: “Customers are responding to the improvements we’re making, the productivity loop is working, and we’re gaining market share.”

hat’s the one thing consumers can’t buy?


“Or is it?” Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Walmart Inc., wondered in his message to stockholders this past June. Certainly, most of the innovations that retailers have been furiously pursuing can be said to have been designed to save time, enhance convenience or otherwise make it easier for consumers to acquire their basic daily needs. Among retailers that sell groceries, Walmart has been head and shoulders above the pack in the reinvention of routine buying and selling. It’s one of the reasons that Progressive Grocer selected the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-merchant as its 2019 Retailer of the Year. And it’s not just about the consumer’s time — it’s about the associate’s time, and finding ways to make their job easier so they can focus more attention on the shopper. “We’re learning how to work in an agile way,” McMillon said in his June stockholders address, “with customer experiences designed thoughtfully from the start, and with technology doing more of the work so our associates can focus on customers.” One of Walmart’s latest efforts: solving the last mile, or rather, the last few feet of the last mile. The retailer is piloting in-home grocery delivery to nearly 1 million customers in three markets: Kansas City, Pittsburgh 28

Oct. 19, 2018 Walmart Unveils Grocery ‘Distribution Center of the Future’ for 2020 Walmart is opening what it calls the “distribution center of the future” for perishables, in Shafter, Calif., where it will move 40 percent more groceries than a traditional distribution center while also greatly reducing damaged goods. The center will feature forward-looking technology and engaging tech-focused jobs, the company noted. It will also use technology from Germany-based logistics company Witron to process perishables such as produce, eggs, dairy, flowers and frozen foods. “The high-tech DC in Shafter will allow us to move product to stores and clubs faster so that we can better serve customers,” said Tim Cooper, Walmart’s SVP of supply chain. Technology, rather than associates, will do the heavy lifting. Every product, when it arrives, is measured and documented. An algorithm makes it possible to see all cases ordered for a given location and determine how to palletize all of them to maximize the space on a pallet or trailer, reducing transportation costs and limiting potential damage. Jan. 15, 2019 Walmart to Debut High-Tech Consolidation Center Walmart plans to open a 340,000-squarefoot high-tech consolidation center in Colton, Calif., this July — the first in the company’s supply chain to receive, sort and ship freight via automated technology that “will enable three times more volume to flow throughout the center and [help] Walmart deliver the right product to the right store, so customers can find the products they need,” according to the company. The new system allows suppliers to fill one huge order instead of various ones. The technology also solves the problem of suppliers shipping orders in trucks not filled to capacity, resulting in added shipping costs, and additional trucks on the road causing more carbon emissions and traffic. Feb. 26. 2019 Walmart Reveals New Plastic PackagingWaste Reduction Commitments The new commitments, involving Walmart’s private-brand program, are expected to affect more than 30,000 SKUs. The move builds upon existing efforts to reduce plastic waste in Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club operations, and aims to encourage national-brand suppliers to set similar packaging goals. Walmart is working with its U.S. privatebrand suppliers on, among other things, achieving 100 percent recyclable, reusable

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and Vero Beach, Fla. All deliveries are done by associates with at least a year of service. Customers are notified upon arrival and can watch a live first-person view of their delivery, or a recording of it later. Entering someone’s home when they’re not there — it’s the new frontier of the creep factor. “We’re trying to understand customers’ appetite and whether or not that’s a process they enjoy,” Tom Ward, SVP of digital operations, tells PG during a visit to Walmart’s home office. “We definitely know customers want the convenience, the fact that they can come back and all these groceries are already inside the house. .... They can see the whole process happening. They can see the items get put away into the fridge and the cupboard, and they can see the associate leave again. For the small test that we’ve got right now, people really love this service. It’s something we’re going to continue to experiment with.”

Where Customers Want to Go

Walmart’s experiments in grocery appear to be paying off. For the second quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, the retailer posted a U.S. ecommerce sales increase of 37%, including strong growth in online grocery, along with a 7.3% rise in U.S. comparable sales on a two-year stacked basis — the mega-retailer’s strongest growth in more than a decade, as reported in August at The segment’s operating income climbed 4%, marking its fifth straight quarter of growth. Total revenue for the company came to $130.4 billion, a $2.3 billion increase, or 1.8%. Walmart operates more than 11,300 stores under 58 banners in 27 countries, as well as ecommerce websites, employing more than 2.2 million associates worldwide. The company is No. 1 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States, with sales topping $514.4 billion. At McMillon’s side leading this success is Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. He is responsible for the strategic direction and performance of Walmart’s 4,600 U.S. stores and more than 1 million associates. Since taking the lead in 2014, Foran’s team has led a transformation of the U.S. business, executing a strategy around Every Day Low Costs and Every Day Low Price. The result: multiple consecutive quarters of comp sales growth over the past several years. “Customers are responding to the improvements we’re making, the This racking system at Walmart’s flagship store in Rogers, Ark., is designed to increase capacity and expedite the process for the retailer’s grocery pickup service. Company-wide, Walmart has hired and trained 45,000 pickers for its online grocery business.


Walmart in the Headlines or industrially compostable packaging for its private-brand packaging by 2025; labeling all food and consumable privatebrand packaging with the How2Recycle label by 2022; and eliminating the nonrecyclable packaging material PVC in general merchandise packaging by 2020. “As a global retailer that has set an ambitious aspirational goal to create zero waste, we fully recognize that reducing plastic waste by increasing packaging circularity is an area where Walmart can lead,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart’s SVP for global sustainability. April 2, 2019 Walmart Voice Order Debuts Walmart has debuted its Walmart Voice Order in partnership with Google, allowing customers to say, “Hey, Google, talk to Walmart,” prompting the Google Assistant to add items directly to that customer’s Walmart Grocery cart. The Assistant is available on more than 1 billion devices. “We know when using voice technology, customers like to add items to their cart one at a time over a few days — not complete their shopping for the week all at once,” said Tom Ward, Walmart’s SVP of digital operations. “So this capability aligns with the way customers shop.” April 10, 2019 Walmart Unpacks Reusable Bag Campaign Walmart’s U.S. stores have started making reusable bags available for purchase at its checkout carousels. The campaign aims to help reduce plastic waste and increase customer convenience by placing reusable bags in easyto-find and highly frequented areas of its stores. Walmart is working with suppliers to avoid 1 billion metric tons — a gigaton — of emissions from global value chains by 2030. In the first two years of Project Gigaton, many suppliers report avoiding more than 93 million metric tons of emissions toward the initiative’s goal. “Progress to date shows how companies can contribute to climate action through practical actions all along the product supply chain,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s SVP and chief sustainability officer. The company also reported progress in its efforts to increase the availability of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at its stores and clubs across the United States, with EV chargers available at retail locations across 29 states as of 2018, and discussed its aspirational goal of being powered by 100% renewable energy, as well as its mission to power 50% of its operations with renewable energy by the end of 2025. Over the past year, Walmart completed contracts for 136 new solar and wind projects, which will supply the company with an additional estimated 2.14 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable energy annually, the equivalent electricity usage of more than 260,000 homes in a year.

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productivity loop is working, and we’re gaining market share,” McMillon said at the August earnings call, during which EVP and CFO Brett Briggs observed, “Comp sales growth reflects strength in grocery, including strong growth in private brands. We’ve been pleased with the consistently strong performance in food and consumables.” Walmart ended Q2 with more than 2,700 grocery pickup locations and more than 1,100 delivery locations, the unveiling of Walmart InHome Delivery, having NextDay delivery service from cover about 75% of the U.S. population, the launch of same-day pickup nationwide at Sam’s Club, a collaboration with other major companies as part of the FDA’s program to evaluate the use of blockchain to protect pharmaceutical product integrity, an agreement with US Solar for 36 community solar gardens, and the completion with Electrify America of 120-plus car-charging stations at Walmart stores across the country, with plans for expansion. Walmart’s great quarterly performance is no fluke, according to Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO and co-founder of, a San Francisco-based cloud-based search-as-a-service provider, who believes that the mega-retailer’s strong results are due to its successful digital initiatives and solid online grocery options that enable it to beat Seattle-based ecommerce behemoth Amazon at its own game. Finkelshteyn said of Walmart: “As they continue to focus on the quickly growing online grocery business in Middle America, where their brand is powerful and they have many locations, their strong ecommerce growth will continue.” To be sure, ecommerce investment is a priority for Walmart. But physical stores are still an integral part of the retailer’s expanding omnichannel experience, from automated pickup towers in stores to back-of-house robotic fulfillment systems. “The No. 1 thing that’s driving it is where customers want to go,” Ward says. “People still come through the doors of the Supercenters and the Neighborhood Markets, and physical traffic’s increasing. But increasingly, people want to shop online. What that means is different to different people. You’re seeing us evolve the different propositions, like our huge pickup footprint now, deliveries rolling out really aggressively, all the way through to the super-innovative things like the in-home discussions. Wherever it is that customers want to go, we want them to be able to interact with Walmart.” And at the heart of it all is grocery.“People increasingly look to us to save them money and time," Ward asserts. "One of the biggest time crunches in any busy family’s week is grocery shopping. The easier we can make that, both in store and online, for customers, the better. That’s where most of the focus on our innovation is being driven, from online grocery, for sure.” Walmart shoppers who “Check Out with Me” can bypass front-end cashiers and get out of the store faster.

Walmart in the Headlines April 16, 2019 Walmart to Remodel 500 Stores Walmart has revealed plans to remodel 500 stores and open 20 new locations in more than two dozen states as part of an $11 billion cap ex investment, Business Insider reported. Proposed changes include wider aisles, shorter shelving, new signage and flooring, a revamped electronics department featuring interactive displays, new private consultation rooms adjacent to pharmacies, and more self-checkouts, in addition to renovated cosmetics, home, hardware, auto, baby and produce departments. The majority of overhauls will occur in Florida and Texas, where Walmart will lay out a combined $477 million on 14 new and 82 remodeled stores. The retailer's plans also include spending $145 million on 34 stores in California, $94 million on 27 stores in Ohio, $75 million on 14 stores in Virginia, $68 million on 12 stores in New Jersey, and $35 million on 10 stores in Minnesota. April 24, 2019 Walmart Entering Beef Industry Walmart is developing an end-to-end supply chain for Angus beef, partnering with suppliers to ensure the supply of quality product and fulfill customer demands for greater transparency. “As clean labels, traceability and transparency become more and more important to customers,” said Scott Neal, Walmart’s SVP of meat, ”we’ll be able to provide customers with unprecedented quality, provide transparency throughout the supply chain and leverage the learnings we gain across our business.” May 1, 2019 Walmart, Digimarc Automate Markdown Process for Packaged Fresh Food Walmart is working with Beaverton, Ore.-based Digimarc Corp., the inventor of the Intuitive Computing Platform (ICP) featuring Digimarc Barcode, to improve the management of packaged fresh food. The solution promises to reduce fresh food waste and provide everyday lowest prices by automating the markdown process. “As we apply this new technology to our fresh processes, our goal is to realize new customer benefits while accelerating our commitment to reduce waste,” said John Crecelius, Walmart’s SVP of central operations. May 14, 2019 Walmart Introduces Free NextDay Delivery Walmart has launched its free NextDay delivery in Phoenix and Las Vegas, with plans to expand to Southern California next. There is no membership fee for the service, but there is a minimum purchase requirement of $35. Up to


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The Momentum Continues

Walmart may be the best positioned of any traditional retailer not only to match but also beat Amazon as the e-tailer continues to burrow its way into the grocery space with its ever-evolving hybrid of online delivery services and experimental brick-and-mortar stores. “Between a positive economic climate and major merchandising and operational improvements, Walmart is enjoying sales momentum like it hasn’t seen in a long time, and it looks like the momentum will continue,” notes Mike Troy, editor of PG sister publication Retail Leader, referring to comments made by Steve Bratspies, Walmart U.S.’ chief merchandising officer, during the recent Goldman Sachs Global Retail Conference. “The most notable comment [Bratspies made] was that stores offering grocery pickup service are still producing positive same-store sales after three years. That’s a big deal because Walmart will have pickup service at 3,100 locations by year-end, and since about two-thirds of those came online in the past two years, they are expected to provide a strong tailwind to comps,” Troy points out. Regarding the pickup service, Bratspies said: “It’s proving to be highly incremental to our business and bringing in new customers with strong repeat. The average basket size is about two times what a standard grocery basket is, so obviously we’re excited about that.” The baskets could get even bigger as the service evolves to delivery from grocery pickup, and shoppers gain the ability to choose from a rapidly expanding assortment of general merchandise. “Walmart, like most retailers, has to serve shoppers how they choose to engage. That’s why it’s building an omnichannel ecosystem of fulfillment methods,” Troy says, pointing to the company’s delivery pilots. “If it works, the service could be expanded as rapidly as Walmart added grocery pickup.” Walmart has impressed market analysts as well. “Walmart’s efforts haven’t just halted Amazon’s impact on its biggest business — they’ve attracted new customers to the retailer that spend more per trip than in-store grocery shoppers,” stock adviser Adam Levy wrote for The Motley Fool this past June. “Amazon has made several moves to integrate Prime and Whole Foods to offer more online grocery options for its customers.” Amazon Prime members can pick up online orders from Whole Foods in 30 markets. But as Levy noted: “Walmart has been able to leverage its vast footprint of brick-and-mortar stores to enable customers to make pickup orders at about 2,450 stores, and order delivery from over 1,000 stores. By the end of the year, Walmart will offer grocery pickup for about 80% of the U.S. population, and it’ll deliver to about 50% of households. That makes Walmart a more attractive option for most consumers in the country.”

Upping the Experience

Ward says that new “really unique pieces of technology” will help further streamline the click-and-collect experience, including check-in capability. “When you’re on your way, we allow our customers to check in and say, ‘Hey, we’re on our way.’ That sends a notification to the store and allows the store to pull the orders together, get the fresh and frozen items out right at the last minute so we maintain really high quality,” he says. “Each of our spaces is numbered out in the parking lot. When customers pull in and they’re checked in, they can say, ‘Hey, I’m in spot No. 6.’ The associate can bring their order straight out to that car, and they can get on their way in a couple of minutes. We’re seeing that prove really popular.” Maintaining quality within the cold chain is something the Walmart team continues to refine. In fact, Ward believes delivery offers shoppers a step up in food integrity. “When you’re a customer walking in and you

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We’re learning how to work in an agile way, with customer experiences designed thoughtfully from the start, and with technology doing more of the work so our associates can focus on customers.” —Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Walmart Inc.

hit the ice cream aisle and the fresh meat aisle, you put those things in your cart, and you do the rest of your shopping, and then you go through the checkouts and you load your car and you drive home. Those items that have been kept in the cart for 20, 30, 40 minutes,” he says. “With delivery, we keep fresh and frozen items in the fridge and freezer until the last minute. So all the technology that teams have built for pickup applies to our delivery business as well. “They check in through the application automatically, and then as the driver pulls in to pick the order up, the team will consolidate those fresh and frozen areas. About 20 minutes is our average delivery time right now, from the moment it leaves the freezer to the moment it gets to somebody’s front door. It’s actually a really good way to maintain high quality.” Walmart considers delivery just an extension of its pickup

service. “We always say delivery’s built on a pickup engine,” Ward says. “We have 2,800-plus stores running pickup right now. The personal shoppers that we have that’s out there on the sales floor, they’re picking up to eight different orders at a time to maximize productivity. But they don’t actually know if they’re picking a delivery order or a pickup order. They then stage that order in the back of house. It’s not until the driver arrives that we realize it’s a delivery or a pickup. There’s a few guidelines that our associates follow when it’s a delivery driver, but for the most part, that’s what’s enabled us to scale so quickly in terms of the delivery space. It might actually get to about 50% national coverage this year, from a standing start only about 12 or 18 months ago.” The next step — autonomous delivery vehicles — is in the pilot stage and is expected to further drive cost out of the process. “We’re really excited about this space. We’ve been looking into it for a long time,” Ward says. “There’s helping to take cost out of the delivery model by using an autonomous vehicle. It could take a grocery order from the store all the way to the customer’s house. That helps us reinvest back into prices and reinforce that key factor for our

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customers, saving money, plus time with the convenience and the delivery.” Testing is underway in Arizona — a partnership with Burlingame, Calif.-based technology company Udelv and its second-generation autonomous delivery van, the Newton — where it’s already making waves. “This thing turns up, and customers are excited to go out there and retrieve their order,” Ward says. “It has a compartmentalization system, so the vehicle can actually hold multiple orders and just reveal the customer’s order that it arrives at. We’re excited to see what we can do with these.” Another test, around Walmart’s headquarters, with Palo Alto, Calif.-based autonomous-vehicle company Gatik, was announced in June. “That’s where we take volume that we pick for our online customers from one facility, and we move it to a different facility so the customers can get all the convenience of pickup, even if the store itself doesn’t pick the orders,” Ward explains. “We operate that hub-and-spoke system really successfully in a number of markets, including Bentonville, but we use a gas-powered, person-driven truck right now. We’ll pick the orders in one place, we’ll put them into the truck and we’ll transport them to the

Walmart personal shoppers on the sales floor are picking up to eight different orders at a time to maximize productivity.

spoke. What Gatik is helping us do is make that spoke journey with an autonomous vehicle. It’s really exciting to see where that was going to go next. We think we can take a lot of cost out and pass that back on to the network.” Next on the list is voice ordering, which Ward expects “to be really big, and that’s why we went in hard with the partnerships we announced earlier this year.” The service aims to leverage the proliferation of in-home voice-assist devices among consumers, although Ward admits that this kind of



shopping “hasn’t really taken off that broadly” — yet. “We think the reason it’s pretty hard to shop through a device on voice [is] because you need to see the item that you’re looking for. So what we did with our online grocery project is, when customers sign up for Google Home, we already know what it is that they buy. … Rather than having a conversation with the voice unit … it asks you the one we’re pretty sure you want, from the first time. We’ve seen this has been a true time-saving convenience play. It’s less about doing shopping, because cell phones and laptops and so on are perfectly designed for those kinds of occasions. “This is more about when you’re in the kitchen and you realize you’ve run out of something — hands are full and the kids are playing — you can say, ‘OK, Google, talk to Walmart, add Pepsi,’ and it will add it to your cart. We’re really excited about what we’re seeing in this space and we think that it’s the right balance of convenience and technology that suits customers’ needs right now.”

Removing Friction

Yet with all of the technology innovations aimed at making it easier for folks to shop from home, Walmart remains committed to its stores, announcing an extensive capital expenditures program earlier this year. “I think the store is absolutely critical to the omnichannel experience,” Ward says. “Physical traffic continues to grow. The biggest areas customers tell us they want us to invest in are our fresh areas, where you can see considerable reinvention.” Enhanced fresh areas, including produce and prepared foods, were indeed in evidence during PG’s visit to Walmart’s flagship store in Rogers, Ark., near its corporate headquarters. The store is a test site for many new initiatives. “We have a really high fresh penetration in our baskets. That’s across the board, from produce to meat and seafood to bakery. And we continue to transform the checkout experience. We go through constant iterations of, how do we take friction out of that area for customers?" Ward says. “They can use tools within our app, like Item Finder, Walmart is testing autonomous vehicles for grocery delivery in multiple markets. “We aim to learn more about the logistics of adding autonomous vehicles into our online grocery ecosystem,” says Tom Ward, Walmart’s SVP of digital operations.

Walmart in the Headlines 220,000 of what Walmart says are “the items most frequently purchased” are available for NextDay delivery, complementing its current grocery pickup and delivery offerings. The company plans to reach 75% of the U.S. population with NextDay delivery by year-end, while continuing to expand grocery pickup to 3,100 stores, or 80% of the population, and grocery delivery to 1,600 stores, or 50% of the population, by year-end. According to Walmart, NextDay will actually be less expensive for the company, since items will come from a single fulfillment center closest to the customer. “This means the order ships in one box, or as few as possible, and it travels a shorter distance via inexpensive ground shipping,” said Mark Lore, president and CEO of Walmart ecommerce U.S. June 7, 2019 Walmart to Launch Delivery Inside the Home Walmart’s new InHome Delivery service allows customers to receive their groceries when they're not home. Walmart associates will use smart-entry technology to go inside the home at an agreed-upon time, unpacking groceries and putting them in the fridge. “These associates, whose jobs are focused on this service, will also go through an extensive training program which prepares them to enter customers’ homes with the same care and respect with which they would treat a friend’s or family’s home — not to mention how to select the freshest grocery items and organize the most efficient refrigerator,” said Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart ecommerce U.S. Associates have wearable cameras, allowing customers to watch the entire process remotely in real time. June 11, 2019 Walmart Subscribing to 36 Community Solar Gardens Walmart has reached an agreement with Minneapolis-based United States Solar Corp. (US Solar) to subscribe to 36 of the latter’s community solar gardens in Minnesota. The 1-megawatt community solar gardens will generate clean, renewable energy and provide energy savings to Walmart locations in 13 Minnesota counties. The first solar gardens have completed construction, with the rest slated to be operational by the first half of 2020. “Solar is a vital component of Walmart’s expanding renewable-energy portfolio,” said Mark Vanderhelm, Walmart’s VP of energy. “Walmart plans to tirelessly pursue renewable-energy projects that are right for our customers, our business and the environment. This ... initiative with US Solar is moving us in the right direction toward our renewable-energy goals.”


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and maps that allow them to navigate their shopping route efficiently. When they find items they want, they just want to go to the checkout and get out.” Meanwhile, Walmart continues to aggressively expand pickup and delivery, with about 3,200 stores expected to be activated with online grocery by year’s end. “I think we get to about 78% of all U.S. households covered by My Grocery Pickup by the end of this year, and 50% delivery, around 1,400 stores, for that. We’re really excited about the scale that we’re going to be able to reach, and the access that’s going to provide to customers.” Walmart’s tech incubator is helping feed all of these initiatives. ”Within my organization, we have a lab down here on 8th Street [in Bentonville] where we test all kinds of technology,” Ward explains. “Anywhere we can take cost out of our business or drive efficiency, that means we can pass that back onto the business and allow it to invest in price, and more convenience through the remodels and the capital program.” The lab tests everything from autonomous vehicles, to autonomous picking cars that are being piloted at a number of locations right now, “to the less flashy stuff that’s even more exciting,” Ward says, such as the algorithms that allow stores to pick orders more efficiently and, for example, make better substitution choices. “Once we learn that about our customers, we can make much more seamless decisions that help them just get on with their day and put more trust into the online grocery business, which is all driven through the experimentation and testing that we do within the teams.”

Being a Positive Force

Walmart’s ability to thrive in the future, McMillon said last June, “comes down to one thing: our ability to solve problems together well enough and fast enough.” That extends beyond shopper-focused initiatives. For store associates, the retailer is introducing apps, hardware and automation like pickup towers

With continued robust traffic in physical stores, Walmart is responding to consumer demand by investing in fresh areas, including produce and prepared foods.

Walmart in the Headlines June 17, 2019 Walmart Offers Unlimited Grocery Delivery Walmart has rolled out a new subscription grocery delivery option, Delivery Unlimited, for $98 per year, or $12.95 per month after completing a 15-day free trial. Shoppers place orders online at or via the dedicated mobile app, and then can choose their delivery window and check out. Earlier this year, Walmart partnered with four additional delivery partners, Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire and Roadie, to continue its expansion of the service. July 25, 2019 Walmart Pilots Self-Driving Car Walmart partnered with Palo Alto, Calif.based autonomous-vehicle company Gatik to pilot a single vehicle moving customer orders on a 2-mile route in Bentonville, Ark., between two stores. “We aim to learn more about the logistics of adding autonomous vehicles into our online grocery ecosystem, operation process changes and more opportunities to incorporate this emerging technology,” said Tom Ward, Walmart’s SVP of digital operations, noting that the company has “been exploring a few pilot projects with selfdriving car companies that include both customer delivery as well as transporting goods between our locations.” These have included tests with Burlingame, Calif.-based technology company Udelv to introduce its second-generation autonomous delivery van, the Newton, in Surprise, Ariz.; a plan to deliver groceries via self-driving vehicles in November 2018 through a pilot program with Ford; and a pilot in the Phoenix area with Mountain View, Calif.-based Waymo to provide customers with rides to and from stores in selfdriving cars to pick up online orders. Aug. 19, 2019 Walmart Offering Shoppable Recipes Via Tasty App Walmart and BuzzFeed’s Tasty food network have teamed up to provide consumers with shoppable recipes. Customers can add the entire ingredient list from a menu of 4,000 Tasty videos directly to their Walmart Online Grocery carts with a single click. Then they can place their order for pickup from more than 2,500 stores nationwide, or have the groceries delivered to their homes from 1,100plus stores across the United States. “We’re excited to create a fun solution that feeds customers’ appetites to put time back in their busy schedules, all while saving money with Walmart’s everyday low prices,” said Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s chief customer officer. Walmart earlier enabled its shoppers to place their grocery orders online through shoppable recipes on Cary, N.C.based Myxx Inc.’s platform.




and floor cleaners, with cameras checking inventory. “Our goal is to design tools for associates just as well as we design experiences for customers,” McMillon said, “and we want our associates to grow and be ready to use them.” PG got a peek at a few of these innovations at the Rogers flagship store, where a robot plied the aisles scanning for out-of-stocks, shoppers accessed orders via touchscreen from a pickup tower, and a new online order rack system stood poised to come online to expedite click-and-collect orders. Walmart’s also investing in its associates, rolling out an incremental $4.5 billion in pay for U.S. store and club associates, boosting its starting wage rate by 50 percent, and increasing the number of U.S. full-time roles to 60 percent full-time, ahead of the industry average, McMillon noted. Further, the retailer expanded its parental leave policy to 16 weeks and created a benefit of $5,000 per child to help families growing through adoption. Also this year, the company expanded Live Better U, its debt-free, dollar-a-day college program, by adding technology degrees and more schools, as well as support for high school students entering the workforce. “As technology changes jobs and the tasks that make up a job, we want our associates to learn and succeed,” McMillon said. On the sustainability front, Walmart is two years into Project Gigaton, which aims to avoid 1 billion metric tons of emissions from its supply chain. To date, the company has signed on more

The store is absolutely critical to the omnichannel experience. Physical traffic continues to grow. The biggest areas customers tell us they want us to invest in are our fresh areas, where you can see considerable reinvention.” —Tom Ward, SVP of digital operations

than 1,000 supplier partners to the program. “In the first two years, they tell us more than 93 million metric tons of emissions have been avoided,” McMillon said. Additionally, Walmart reports that it’s now powered by 28% renewable energy, diverts 78% of its waste from landfills, has hired more than 225,000 U.S. veterans since 2013, is a top 50 DiversityInc company, donated $1.4 billion in cash and in-kind gifts last year, and has provided 4 billion meals to those in need since 2014. “We want to be a positive force in the world,” McMillon said, “and we can use the size of our company to do good and influence others.”

'Doing What is Right'

Heaping huge praise on Walmart overall and McMillon in particular is Burt Flickinger, managing director of New Yorkbased consumer industry consultancy Strategic Resource Group. As what Flickinger calls the “Retail Ice Age” approaches for 20th-century legacy retailers, including department and specialty stores, and grocery and drug retailers, those best positioned to win “have the best leaders who invest in innovation to lower prices to raise shoppers’ standards of living.” For Flickinger, Walmart leads the winners list, scoring points for leadership, innovation, and commitment to sustainability to lower costs and prices. “Walmart has younger, dynamic transformational leadership” in McMillon, “the last of the handpicked young leaders chosen by Mr. Sam [Walton, founder of Walmart],” he says. Flickinger calls McMillon “a humble, dynamic leader,” and the first to successfully change the company from a family-managed business to “a professionally led company focusing on raising shoppers’ standard of living world40

wide, through lower prices with good quality, and profitably increasing sales growth for Walmart and its suppliers.” He continues: “Doug McMillon consistently works with dedication combined with great determination and effectiveness … based on his strong personal and professional beliefs in what he reinforces to do what is right.” This includes raising wages and benefits, leading other mass retailers to follow suit; increasing store staffing and service; strong community and consumer commitments; hiring veterans and disabled workers; and accelerating leadership in solar and sustainable energy. Flickinger places great weight on this latter initiative, citing research that shows a growing number of consumers plan to switch their shopping dollars to retailers dedicated to sustainable energy. “In the retail ‘War of the Worlds’ versus Amazon, Doug McMillon has worked exceptionally with [Walmart Ecommerce

U.S. President and CEO] Marc Lore to ‘checkmate’ Amazon and have deliveries available to 90% of the U.S. population within the next year." With strong financial returns, Walmart is “brilliantly reinvesting those savings into the best advertising, marketing and merchandising, as well as higher wages and levels of store staffing and shopper service,” Flickinger asserts. “While most of food, drug, and department and specialty store retail chains are getting crushed with higher costs, Walmart is very entrepreneurial and innovative in every important area for consumers, from sustainable energy to sourcing goods and services locally as much as possible,” he continues. “Walmart is winning by ‘doing what is right,’ realizing record market shares and shopper satisfaction scores.”

What Does Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab Mean for Grocery? Walmart's transformation of a Neighborhood Market in Levittown, N.Y., into what it calls an Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL), featuring artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled cameras, interactive displays and a vast data center, has garnered plenty of publicity, but what do these latest technological moves by the retailer actually mean for the company and the industry in general? To find out, Progressive Grocer reached out to Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO and co-founder of San Francisco-based, a cloud-based search-as-a-service provider, and Darin Archer, CMO of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Elastic Path, a provider of flexible enterprise commerce software. Following are their responses.

PG: What do you think of Walmart’s use of AI for inventory, stocking and cart availability rather than for automated checkout like Amazon Go? Eli Finkelshteyn: Both Walmart’s and Amazon’s approach to AI illustrate how AI will continue to play a larger and more prominent role in commerce. While Amazon Go may provide a glimpse of what brick-and-mortar shopping will be like in years to come, Walmart’s use of AI in areas like inventory and stocking is clearly targeted at the here and now. Ever focused on efficiency, Walmart is using AI in clever and innovative ways to further streamline its operations. Some recent examples are technology to automate outof-stock detection and adding in-store search to their app to make products easier to find for consumers (and encourage downloads of the Walmart app). They might not look as shiny as Amazon Go, but they do drive the metrics Walmart cares about right now. Darin Archer: Amazon and Walmart are obviously taking very different approaches to how AI can be used to serve consum-

er needs. I think, ultimately, the approach that will be the most successful will be the one that actually addresses what the store’s consumer is looking for. Is an automated checkout bringing the most value to shoppers, or will they appreciate the broader availability of products? Shoppers want things that make their lives easier, but ease and convenience may look different to different shoppers. Retailers — whether Walmart, Amazon or otherwise — need to make sure their experiences support customers’ needs.

PG: How do this new store and Walmart’s other recent technology investments position it against Amazon in the CPG and grocery industry? EF: Walmart is racing to become a technology leader before Amazon becomes great at in-store logistics and operations. The future of commerce will be a mix of online shopping, in-store sensory experiences and virtual reality, and both companies recognize this. With its acquisitions of Aspectiva and Polymorph, Walmart is focused on building its tech advantage and enhancing its online experience. We can expect Walmart to continue to explore ways of unifying its online and in-store experiences through tech acquisitions, third-party partnerships and in-house development on its path to becoming a tech powerhouse. DA: Walmart’s big advantage against Amazon has been their physical footprint. The option to buy online and pick up in store has been huge for them, and for many people, ordering something and picking it up at their nearest Walmart is faster and easier than a shipment from Amazon. As a parent with small children, I already use the pickup-in-store option, as I don’t need to get the kids out of the car to grab a few items that we can’t wait 24 hours for. Originally published May 2, 2019, on



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This next-generation pharmacy service was poised to be piloted at the time of PG’s visit to Walmart’s Rogers, Ark., flagship store.

A Simple Mission

What’s a typical day for the Walmart team? Not surprisingly, Ward indicates there’s really no such thing. “I spend the beginning part of the day looking over what all we’ve got to do that day, reviewing all the numbers from the days before and any opportunities that we think we might have. We always tie up with our operations teams,” he recounts. “We have a really fantastic group out in the field. I’m always interested to hear what their views are because programs roll out from the home office, and we hope they land one way, and the field team tells me if they don’t. So I constantly think about how we can improve. “We have a really grounded presence in the stores because that’s where our personal shoppers work, and our regional ecommerce teams. … There’s probably no typical day. There’s just a day where we understand things, fix things and get excited about new things.” What makes Walmart such a great place to work for those aiming to change the course of grocery retail? The scale and the opportunity, Ward says: “We have an excellent mission at Walmart, and it’s the easiest mission to remember: Just save money, live better. Saving people time goes hand in hand with living better. If you have that as your North Star, and with the resources and the footprint that Walmart has, and once we built some momentum and trust within the business, there’s not many things that people tell me I can’t do as long as we get a great result out of it. That really motivates the team. “There’s not many places that you can get the kind of opportunity you can get here at Walmart to change as many lives. We continue to stretch the limitations of what’s possible for our customers. It motivates the team all the way through, from the ground up.”

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ross-merchandising is hardly a new concept. Yet many retailers fail to identify key opportunities to bring products together to boost sales and improve overall customer experience. According to Marcia Schurer, president of Chicago-based Culinary Connections, creating a strategy for cross-merchandising complementary products is critical for boosting impulse purchases and increasing additional sales per shopping trip. “Any cross-merchandising that encourages impulse buying should be a top priority for any retailer,” she says. “Once you get the customer in the store, you want to keep increasing that basket. Helping the consumer with their meal-planning efforts, and sampling items together so the customer can taste how well they complement each other, increases the chances of impulse buying.” Jim Hertel, SVP at Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Inmar Analytics, believes that the value of effective cross-merchandising strategies goes beyond simply building baskets and traffic.


Key Takeaways The most effective crossmerchandising programs for building traffic and loyalty are those that help consumers find meal solutions. Retailers that put their own unique spins on commonly adopted crossmerchandising strategies give them even more customer impact. Incorporating general merchandise in cross-merchandising programs can make them even more successful.

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He’s convinced that it’s necessary to a store’s positioning in an ever-crowded marketplace in which younger consumers are seeking an experiential shopping environment. “The emerging consumer seeks convenience and new experiences, and cross-merchandising done well delivers on both,” Hertel notes. “Good cross-merchandising creates anticipation for shoppers who seek new and sophisticated eating and entertainment experiences, and helps a retailer surprise and delight the shopper, ultimately creating the kind of loyalty money can’t buy.”

The Most Bang for the Buck

Cross-merchandising programs that are most effective in building traffic and loyalty are those that help consumers find meal solutions. “Everybody is selling food. Consumers are seeking out the stores that are selling solutions,” says Cindy Sorensen, founder of The Grocery Group, in Minneapolis. “Retailers should be cross-merchandising around what the consumer is looking for, whether it's local, transparency of labeling, meal solutions — even a particular type of diet.” Supermarket retailers are uniquely positioned to be that solution source for consumers and should make the most of their advantage, notes Schurer. “So many consumers need help with meal planning, and supermarkets should be helping with that,” she says. “Every department in the store should be looking for ways to cross-merchandise items that pair well together and are complementary to make meal planning easier for the customer.” In support of her position, she cites a recent store display incorporating fresh pizza dough, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh pizza sauce and sliced cured pepperoni to provide an easy meal idea by gathering all of the essential elements in one location. In another real-world example, Minneapolis-based Lunds & Byerlys recently added a 4-foot upright cooler near the deli featuring several elements of a dinner, such as a cut of meat, precut vegetables and bagged salad. “That display needs to have its selection changed at least twice a week to keep consumers interested,” says Sorensen. “It’s a great strategy that, with strong execution, can really deliver for the retailer and consumers.” For his part, Wes Jaramillo, commercial marketing channel director of off-premise at White Plains, N.Y.-based Heineken USA, observes that regional or local cross-promotions are more relevant to consumers than national ones are. “This leads to increased velocity at the point of purchase,” he explains. The brand recently partnered with Minneapolis-based General Mills and its Old El Paso Game Day Taco Kit at Publix for Superbowl LIII in 2019. “Mexican Import Dos Equis, combined with Old El Paso, provided a Mexican meal solution to shoppers looking for game-day entertaining ideas,” says Jaramillo. “In-store, the pre-packaged taco kit was merchandised with Dos Equis 12-packs for a one-stop-shopping experience that solved a consumer need.” A display Schurer cites is a self-service sushi case that cross-merchandised single-serve refrigerated Japanese wine and beer for impulse beverage sales.


Heineken USA partnered with General Mills’ Old El Paso brand for a cross-promotion at Publix.

For the coming winter holidays, Heineken will join forces with Itasca, Ill.-based regional chain Jewel-Osco and co-promoter Coca-Cola. “By combining the marketing forces of two powerhouse brands, we will be cutting through the inevitable holiday clutter and adding meaningful value to the retailer during a key selling period,” says Jaramillo. Other examples of creative and effective cross-merchandising include: Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets’ table in the produce department featuring chopped bagged escarole and canned white beans for a vegetarian dinner Sickle’s Market, a specialty grocer in Little Silver, N.J., offering a two-for-$14 promotion on grill kits and fajita mix, and pre-cut packaged fresh vegetables ready to cook with meat from the butcher counter located nearby Guido’s Fresh Marketplace, a specialty supermarket with two locations in Berkshire County, Mass., creating an eye-catching display of imported pastas and sauces near a self-serve antipasto bar

Retailers should be crossmerchandising around what the consumer is looking for, whether it's local, transparency of labeling, meal solutions — even a particular type of diet.” —Cindy Sorensen, The Grocery Group

Legal Notice


SUMMARY NOTICE OF PROPOSED ADDITIONAL SETTLEMENTS AND HEARING REGARDING SETTLEMENTS TO: All persons and entities in the non-Western United States who purchased FRESH AGARICUS MUSHROOMS directly from an Eastern Mushroom Marketing Cooperative (EMMC) member or one of its co-conspirators or its owned or controlled affiliates, agents, or subsidiaries at any time between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2008, YOUR RIGHTS COULD BE AFFECTED BY A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT. You were previously notified through a notice sent to you by first class mail and/or by publication in Progressive Grocer that Direct Purchasers of fresh agaricus mushrooms have filed a lawsuit against the Eastern Mushroom Marketing Cooperative (EMMC); Robert A. Ferranto trading as Bella Mushroom Farms1; Brownstone Mushroom Farms; To-Jo Fresh Mushrooms, Inc.; Cardile Mushrooms, Inc.; Cardile Brothers Mushroom Packaging, Inc.; Country Fresh Mushroom Co.; Forest Mushroom Inc.; Franklin Organic Mushroom Farms, Inc., formerly known as Franklin Farms, Inc.; Gino Gaspari & Sons, Inc.; Giorgi Mushroom Company; Giorgio Foods, Inc.; Kaolin Mushroom Farms, Inc.; South Mill Mushroom Sales, Inc.; Leone Pizzini and Son, Inc.; LRP-M Mushrooms LLC2; Modern Mushroom Farms; Sher-Rockee Mushroom Farm; C&C Carriage Mushroom Co.; Oakshire Mushroom Farm, Inc.; Phillips Mushroom Farms, Inc.; Harvest Fresh Farms, Inc.; Louis M. Marson, Jr. Inc.; Mario Cutone Mushroom Co., Inc.; M.D. Basciani & Sons, Inc.3; Monterey Mushrooms, Inc.; Masha & Toto, Inc., trading as M&T Mushrooms4; W&P Mushroom, Inc.; Mushroom Alliance, Inc.; Creekside Mushrooms Ltd.; Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms, Inc.; J-M Farms, Inc.; United Mushroom Farms Cooperative, Inc.; and John Pia (collectively, the “Defendants”),5 alleging that they violated the antitrust laws by fixing the prices, and restricting the supply, of fresh agaricus mushrooms. The lawsuit was certified as a class action by Judge Thomas N. O’Neill of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and is known as In re Mushroom Direct Purchaser Antitrust Litigation, No. 06-620. Defendants denied Plaintiffs’ allegations, but have agreed to settle all of Plaintiffs’ claims on the terms described in this Notice. That notice also informed you of three settlements with the defendants Giorgi Mushroom Company and Giorgio Foods, Inc. (collectively referred to as “Giorgi”), Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms, Inc. (“Kitchen Pride”), and Creekside Mushrooms Ltd. (“Creekside”). Following that notice, the Court approved these three settlements. The Class certified is: All persons or entities in the non-Western United States who purchased fresh agaricus mushrooms directly from an Eastern Mushroom Marketing Cooperative (EMMC) member or one of its coconspirators or its owned or controlled affiliates, agents, or subsidiaries at any time between February 4, 2001 and August 8, 2005 (the “Class Period”). For group buying organizations and their members, direct purchasers are either: (1) members who have a significant ownership interest in or functional control over their organizations; or (2) if no member has such interest or control, the organizations themselves. The Class excludes the EMMC, its members and their parents, subsidiaries and affiliates. The non-Western United States refers to the following states which were in the six regions of the country which plaintiffs claim were subject to the EMMC’s pricing policies: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Illinois, and the District of Columbia. As you were previously notified, the Class previously entered into a settlement with Giorgi, dated April 27, 2011, before the Court certified the class identified above.6 The settlement with Giorgi defined a class similar to the one described above except for the time period which begins on January 1, 2001 (as opposed to February 4, 2001) and ends on December 31, 2008 (as opposed to August 8, 2005). The difference in these class definitions resulted from developments in the case following execution of the Giorgi settlement, including counsel’s continued development and evaluation of the discovery record, legal rulings issued by the Court, and opinions of Class Plaintiffs’ economic expert. In approving the Giorgi Settlement, the Court certified a separate Giorgi Settlement Class using the time period in the Giorgi settlement agreement. Only purchases in the non-Western United States of fresh agaricus mushrooms directly from one or more of the Defendants, their co-conspirators, and/or owned or controlled affiliated distributors are covered by this lawsuit. If you are located outside the non-Western United States, you are not a member of the Class or the Giorgi Settlement Class. If you only bought fresh agaricus mushrooms from a source other than any of the Defendants, their coconspirators, and/or owned or controlled affiliated distributors, you are not a member of the Class or the Giorgi Settlement Class. If the Court approves these settlements, there will be no determination by the Court as to the co-conspirators and owned or controlled affiliated distributors. For purposes of the distribution of the settlements, you will be considered to be a direct purchaser if you purchased from one of the Defendants or any of the following affiliates of a Defendant: Buona Foods, Inc., Manfredini Enterprises, Inc., Basciani Foods, Inc., and/or Robert Masha Sales, Inc. If you do not meet these requirements or are not a member of the Class or the Giorgi Settlement Class, this Notice does not apply to you. The purpose of this notice is to inform you that seven additional settlements have been reached that, if approved, would fully resolve this case. The Class has entered proposed settlements with Defendants Cardile Mushrooms, Inc. and Cardile Brothers Mushroom Packaging, Inc. (collectively referred to as “CMI”), J-M Farms, Inc. (“J-M”), Mushroom Alliance, Inc. (“the Mushroom Alliance”), Franklin Organic Mushroom Farms, Inc., formerly known as Franklin Farms, Inc. (“Franklin”), Mario Cutone Mushroom Co., Inc. (“Cutone”), M.D. Basciani & Sons, Inc. (“Basciani”) and a group of Defendants identified as “Certain Defendants.”7 Subject to the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement with CMI, which is on file with the Court as Exhibit 1 of Class Plaintiffs’ April 16, 2019 Motion for Preliminary Approval, and is also available at www.garwingerstein. com, CMI has agreed to pay $100,000 in cash for the benefit of the Class upon final Court approval of the settlement. CMI does not admit any wrongdoing or liability on its part. Subject to the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement with J-M, which is on file with the Court as Exhibit 1 of Class Plaintiffs’ July 11, 2019 Motion for Preliminary Approval, and which is also available at www., J-M has agreed to pay $200,000 in cash for the benefit of the Class upon final Court approval of the settlement. J-M does not admit any wrongdoing or liability on its part. Subject to the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement with the Mushroom Alliance, which is on file with the Court as Exhibit 2 of Class Plaintiffs’ July 11, 2019 Motion for Preliminary Approval, and which is also available at, the Mushroom Alliance has agreed to pay $50,000 in cash for the benefit of the Class upon final Court approval of the settlement. The Mushroom Alliance does not admit any wrongdoing or liability on its part. Subject to the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement with Franklin, which is on file with the Court as Exhibit 3 of Class Plaintiffs’ July 11, 2019 Motion for Preliminary Approval, and which is also available at www., Franklin has agreed to pay $975,000 in cash for the benefit of the Class upon final Court approval of the settlement. Franklin does not admit any wrongdoing or liability on its part. 1

Buona Foods, Inc., not a defendant in this litigation, is its affiliated distributor for purposes of the settlements only.


Manfredini Enterprises, Inc., not a defendant in this litigation, is its affiliated distributor for purposes of the settlements only.


Basciani Foods, Inc., not a defendant in this litigation, is its affiliated distributor for purposes of the settlements only.


Robert Masha Sales, Inc., not a defendant in this litigation, is its affiliated distributor for purposes of the settlements only.


The Court has not made a determination as to whether non-Defendants Buona Foods, Inc., Manfredini Enterprises, Inc., Basciani Foods, Inc., and/or Robert Masha Sales, Inc. are, in fact, owned or controlled affiliates of any Defendant in this litigation. However, and ONLY for the purpose of distributing the settlements, all persons and entities who purchased from these distributors during the Class Period and who otherwise meet the class definition will be considered to be direct purchasers from a “controlled affiliate[], agent, or subsidiary” of an EMMC member, and therefore, members of the settlement class. 6


The Giorgi settlement referenced below is on behalf of a class that is defined as follows: All persons or entities who purchased Agaricus mushrooms directly from an EMMC member or one of its coconspirators or its owned or controlled affiliates, agents or subsidiaries at any times during the period January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2008. The term “Agaricus mushrooms” shall mean all varieties and strains of the species Agaricus bisporus, including, among others, both brown and white varieties. The Direct Purchaser Class excludes the EMMC, its members and their parents, subsidiaries and affiliates. The Class also excludes Giant Eagle and Publix Super Markets, Inc. and their parents, subsidiaries and affiliates (the “Giorgi Settlement Class”).

“Certain Defendants” are Eastern Mushroom Marketing Cooperative, Inc. (“EMMC”); Robert A. Ferranto, Jr. t/a Bella Mushroom Farms; Brownstone Mushroom Farms, Inc.; To-Jo Fresh Mushrooms, Inc.; Country Fresh Mushroom Co.; Gino Gaspari & Sons, Inc.; Gaspari Mushroom Co., Inc.; Kaolin Mushroom Farms, Inc.; South Mill Mushroom Sales, Inc.; Modern Mushroom Farms, Inc.; Sher-Rockee Mushroom Farm, LLC; C&C Carriage Mushroom Co.; Phillips Mushroom Farms, Inc.; Louis M. Marson, Jr., Inc.; Monterey Mushrooms, Inc.; Forest Mushroom, Inc.; Harvest Fresh Farms, Inc.; Leone Pizzini and Son, Inc.; LRP-M Mushrooms LLC; United Farm Cooperative, Inc.; Masha & Toto, Inc., trading as M&T Mushrooms; Oakshire Mushroom Farm, Inc.; W&P Mushroom, Inc.; and John Pia.

Subject to the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement with Cutone, which is on file with the Court as Exhibit 4 of Class Plaintiffs’ July 11, 2019 Motion for Preliminary Approval, and which is also available at www., Cutone has agreed to pay $375,000 in cash for the benefit of the Class upon final Court approval of the settlement. Cutone does not admit any wrongdoing or liability on its part. Subject to the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement with Basciani, which is on file with the Court as Exhibit 5 of Class Plaintiffs’ July 11, 2019 Motion for Preliminary Approval, and which is also available at, Basciani has agreed to pay $4,000,000 in cash in three installments over the course of two calendar years for the benefit of the Class upon final Court approval of the settlement. Under the terms of the agreement, the second and third installments will include any interest at the post-judgment interest rate and will be secured in a manner not subject to creditor claims in bankruptcy. The Court will determine the adequacy of the security as part of its final approval of the settlement. Basciani does not admit any wrongdoing or liability on its part. Subject to the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement with Certain Defendants, which is on file with the Court as Exhibit 6 of Class Plaintiffs’ July 11, 2019 Motion for Preliminary Approval, and which is also available at, Certain Defendants have agreed to pay $28,000,000 in cash in three installments over the course of two calendar years for the benefit of the Class upon final Court approval of the settlement. Under the terms of the agreement, the second and third installments will be secured in a manner not subject to creditor claims in bankruptcy. The Court will determine the adequacy of the security as part of its final approval of the settlement. Certain Defendants do not admit any wrongdoing or liability on their part. If the Settlements are approved by the Court, CMI, J-M, the Mushroom Alliance, Franklin, Cutone, Basciani, and Certain Defendants and their respective present and former parents, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates, stockholders, officers, directors, employees, agents and any of their legal representatives (and the predecessors, heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns of each of the foregoing) (the “Released Parties”) shall be released and forever discharged from liability for all claims that were or could have been brought by Class Plaintiffs and members of the Class in this case (the “Released Claims”). Each member of the Class covenants and agrees that it shall not seek to establish liability against any Released Party based, in whole or in part, upon any of the Released Claims. Any disputes arising under or relating to the Settlement Agreement, including, but not limited to, the releases in the Settlement Agreements, will be resolved in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The foregoing text is only a summary of the settlements with CMI, J-M, the Mushroom Alliance, Franklin, Cutone, Basciani and Certain Defendants. Full copies of the Settlement Agreements, including their respective releases, are attached as Exhibit 1 of Class Plaintiffs’ April 16, 2019 Motion for Preliminary Approval and as Exhibits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Class Plaintiffs’ July 11, 2019 Motion for Preliminary Approval on public file with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 601 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Class Counsel have also made copies readily available at Other Settlements Previously Approved by the Court. The Court previously approved three settlements in the total amount of $11,875,000. Those settlements were with Giorgi (for $11,500,000), Kitchen Pride (for $125,000), and Creekside (for $250,000). As indicated above, the Court certified a Giorgi Settlement Class with a different class definition than applies to all other aspects of this case. The Giorgi Settlement Class period is longer and includes class members with purchases during the time periods January 1, 2001 through February 3, 2001 and/or August 9, 2005 through December 31, 2008. The Proposed Plan of Allocation for the Settlement Funds below describes how members of the Giorgi Settlement Class who only have purchases during the January 1, 2001 through February 3, 2001 and/or August 9, 2005 through December 31, 2008 time periods will be compensated. Mailed Notice. If you believe you are a member of the Class but have not yet received the more detailed Notice of Proposed Additional Settlements (“Mailed Notice”), you may obtain a copy of the Mailed Notice (that includes additional information regarding objections to the settlement as well as deadlines for asserting those objections, if any), by contacting the Notice Administrator at: Mushrooms Direct Notice Administrator, c/o Rust Consulting, Inc. - 6647, P.O. Box 44, Minneapolis, MN 55440-0044. Objecting to the Settlements. If you object to all or any part of the proposed settlements, write to the Court about why you do not like the proposed settlements. If you previously excluded yourself from the Direct Purchaser Class, however, you cannot object to the proposed Settlements. Class members who wish to object to the Proposed Settlements must do so no later than Friday, October 25, 2019 and any Notice of Intention to Appear and Summary Statement of Objections to the proposed settlements filed by a Class member must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 6, 2019, 30 days prior to the Fairness Hearing, which will be held on Wednesday, January 8, 2020 at 10:30 a.m., before The Honorable Berle M. Schiller, United States District Judge of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, in Courtroom 13B at United States Courthouse, 601 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. If You Do Nothing. You will share in recovery from the proposed settlements. Although not required, you may also hire your own attorney at your own expense and enter an appearance in the case through your own lawyer, if you so desire. In the event the proposed settlements are approved by the Court and become final, the Settlement Funds8 will be distributed in accord with a Plan of Allocation approved by the Court. The Proposed Plan of Allocation will provide for the distribution of the Settlement Funds after payment of all fees, expenses, and incentive payments to named class representatives (the “net Settlement Funds”). The Proposed Plan of Allocation will provide that each Class member filing a claim will receive its proportionate share of the net Settlement Funds based on its estimated damages as a share of the total estimated damages for all class members filing claims. For purposes of this allocation, the damages of members of the approved class who submit claims will be determined by multiplying their purchases during the class period (February 4, 2001 to August 8, 2005) by the overcharge percentage of 7.178427% determined by Class Plaintiffs’ expert. The damages of members of the Giorgi Settlement Class who submit claims and do not have damages during the approved class period will be determined by multiplying their purchases during the additional time periods in the Giorgi Settlement Class (January 1, 2001 through February 3, 2001 and/or August 9, 2005 through December 31, 2008) by 1%. The purchases of class members will be determined based on the class member’s submission of acceptable records of purchases of fresh agaricus mushrooms from Defendants during the period February 4, 2001 to August 8, 2005 or from records of Defendants’ sales produced to Plaintiffs during this case to the extent such records were produced and can be used for this purpose. As the terms of the settlement agreements with Basciani and Certain Defendants provide for a portion of the funds from those settlements to be paid to the Class in installments, the allocation plan will provide for the proceeds from those settlements to be distributed to Class members in two installments, one as soon as possible following final approval, and a second as soon as possible following the final payments of both Basciani and Certain Defendants. Class counsel intends to submit an application to the Court for (a) attorneys’ fees of no more than 40 percent of the recovery from these settlements and the previously approved settlements, (b) reimbursement of Class Counsel’s litigation expenses totaling approximately $4,500,000 and (c) incentive awards for Class Representatives who aided Class counsel in the prosecution of the case and in achieving these Settlements as follows: $100,000 for Wm. Rosenstein & Sons Co., $100,000 for Associated Grocers, Inc., and $100,000 for M. Robert Enterprises, Inc., M.L. Robert, II, LLC, and Market Fare, LLC (collectively “the Robert Entities”). If the Court grants Class Counsel’s requests, fees and expenses would be deducted from any money obtained for the Class. Members of the Class will not have to pay any attorney’s fees or expenses. Getting More Information. If you have questions, need additional information, or want to receive the Mailed Notice, please contact the Notice Administrator Rust Consulting, Inc., as set forth above. You may also get additional information by visiting PLEASE DO NOT WRITE OR CALL THE COURT OR THE CLERK’S OFFICE FOR INFORMATION. DATE: August 19, 2019 BY THE COURT Honorable Berle M. Schiller, United States District Judge 8

In addition to the settlement agreements disclosed in this notice, the Settlement Funds include the previously approved settlements with Giorgi, Kitchen Pride, and Creekside totaling $11,875,000.

For Information:



Retailers that are providing meal solutions are winning with customers.

Ramping Up Performance

While those examples represent some new ideas, savvy retailers are also putting their own unique spins on commonly adopted cross-merchandising strategies to give them even more customer impact. Displaying specialty cheeses with specialty fruit preserves, specialty crackers, specialty nuts, or artisanal dried sausages and cured meats isn’t new, but the approach has been highly effective in building the basket. “These artisanal and specialty items are usually


higher-priced then the same category of items that might be found someplace else in the store, and bringing the products together has helped,” notes Schurer. Retailers that include high-margin serveware in their displays add another layer. “Hy-Vee offers everything consumers need to put together a charcuterie board, including the board itself, along with serving knives, and the margin on those items is fantastic,” observes Sorensen. Sampling is an effective way to spark add-on sales, but when that’s not an option, signage telling consumers which cheese pairs best with a particular fruit, spread, sausage or cracker can add impact to the department. “That’s part of the experience you need to provide to help the consumer with meal planning,” advises Sorensen. “Descriptive signage goes a long way.” While displaying heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil is routine, some specialty markets have found ways to go one step beyond. For instance, Guido’s recently sampled its store-made caprese salad at a station where an employee was making the product, and cross-merchandised olive oil spread and sliced French bread. “Retailers need to take displays to the next level,” asserts Sorensen. “Give [consumers] ideas with pictures and recipes. We can’t assume that just because we put it on display, they know how to prepare and present it.” Sickle’s Market put a unique spin on the strategy with a display of New Jersey-made products that included store-made mozzarella and farm-fresh basil, along with local-made Fourth Creek Relishes, Booskerdoo Coffee and Outer Limits Hot Sauces, all offered at 20% off during the month of September. The store’s clever signage spotlighted the products with a local Bruce Springsteen angle: The Boss was asked to step aside for consumers who were “born to run to Sickles Market this September” to satisfy the cravings of their “hungry hearts.” It was fun, effective and memorable. Reinforcing messages through social media magnifies the impact of promotions and gets consumers excited about shopping the store. “Retailers need a great website and should be posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook that get consumers excited,” recommends Schurer. “If rotisserie chicken is on sale, they should be showing the consumer some sides that go well with it.” She adds that Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s does a great job using its Insider Report customer newsletter to tell the story of the product and what it pairs well with. The idea is that retailers should be using all of their consumer touchpoints to cross-sell. “Wegmans’ themed creative meal preparation cross-merchandising displays include not only ingredients from multiple departments, but also include GM items like paella pans,” notes Inmar Analytics’ Hertel. “These executions are tied to recipes they feature in their monthly MENU magazine, which is now online and has links to order the items in the recipes.”

GM in the Mix Boosts Appeal

Bringing general merchandise into the mix can raise a retailer’s game even further. “The general merchandise department is a great place to start when thinking about cross-merchandising,” asserts Colin Stewart, SVP of business intelligence at Jacksonville, Fla.-based marketing

Cross-Merch Success Requires Commitment

company Acosta. “Typically, GM products are spread throughout the store, and customers only go looking for items they already planned on buying. By pairing complementary items, such as food with cookware — think cedar planks with seafood The general or brownie mix with pans — merchandise retailers can offer a one-stop department is a great shopping experience that place to start when makes their customers’ lives easier and increases the likeli- thinking about hood they will buy items that cross-merchandising.” weren’t on their list. —Colin Stewart, Acosta “Some retailers are experimenting with GM clusters to create traffic destinations,” he adds. “Seasonal, for example, always piques customers’ interest, even months early, and provides a platform for a wide variety of product categories, from food-related offerings to decorations and more.” “A ‘party time’ display with snacks and beverages is even more eye-popping with the addition of colorful signage, paper plates, cups and napkins, serveware, and tear-off recipe ideas,” offers Sorensen. Seasonal nonfood items placed at the front of the store are an effective means for promoting products that are top of mind for consumers, according to Mark Mechelse, VP of insights and communications at Colorado Springs, Colo.-based GMDC|Retail Tomorrow. “Christmas is always the most popular season, especially in the grocery store, and these formats should be carrying Christmas memorabilia and décor,” he suggests. “The Christmas season gives retailers a significant sales boost across all nonfood categories.” Adjacency between kitchenware products and their relevant food items gives basket ring a boost, according to data from GMDC|Retail Tomorrow. “Heightened product adjacency within stores helps retailers to evolve with the consumer mindset, which is now to shop by occasion or need, not category,” says Mechelse. “For physical retailers to remain relevant, it’s critical that they don’t make shoppers hunt across stores, because their time and attention are increasingly limited.” Retailers are finding creative ways to incorporate GM products. “I might put a panini grill near artisanal breads and cheeses,” says Schurer. “Specialty waffle mixes and fruit would be great with crepe pans and waffle makers.” Wegmans, for one, has added in yoga clothing and mats near its pharmacy aisles adjacent to supplements. “Among purchases stemming from pharmacy-related trip drivers, customers are typically focused on health,” observes Mechelse. “Retailers can expect to see a significant lift in health, beauty and wellness sales when cross-merchandising self care-related products in the pharmacy department.”

Experts say that cross-merchandising is most successful when retailers give the strategies full long-term support. “Retailers need to have commitment, consistence and compliance,” counsels Cindy Sorensen, founder of The Grocery Group, in Minneapolis. “They have to commit to building cross-merchandising into their strategic plan, and actually give the practice its own strategic plan.” Planning must be done at a corporate level to commit the personnel needed to plan and execute winning strategies. “Retailers have to choose a location for a display and keep it in same spot so busy consumers know exactly where to find it,” advises Sorensen. “Then they have to create standard operating procedures to keep those displays stocked.” All too often, however, strategies fail because of a lack of commitment and headquarters. “If you have a cooler planned around meal solutions, for example, with great signage that identifies it as a dinner solution station, and it’s not stocked at 4:30 p.m., you are breaking your promise to the consumer,” she cautions. “Someone at the store level has to make sure that all elements of that display are always in stock.” Rotating products in what Sorensen calls a “dependable cadence” is also critical to compliance. “If you commit to having a different meal solution every Friday night, you have to deliver on that,” she insists. “Rotating the ingredients in that cooler on a regular basis so consumers are always finding something new is part of that commitment.” When the selection changes, a retailer’s website and social media should ramp up support of that new offering. A successful cross-merchandising strategy often means changing how retailers measure success on a per-department basis. “Too often, operations gets in the way of a good idea,” observes Sorensen. “There’s an ongoing discussion about who gets the ring for the sales. That’s an insane conversation. They have to start thinking about what’s best for the entire store.” The next stages in cross-merchandising will leverage data, analytics and digital to make the practice significantly more productive. “Analysis of transaction log data can reveal ‘shopping trip missions’ that have multiple, related or complementary items in many baskets,” notes Jim Hertel, SVP at Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Inmar Analytics. “These are natural candidates for cross-merchandising. Ecommerce creates cross-merchandising opportunities in virtual space, which can help avoid turf wars between merchants as well as help overcome obstacles, like merchandising refrigerated, frozen and ambient-temperature products in a single location in-store.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2019


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An in-depth look at one of the fastest-growing, innovation-rich areas in grocery.

Growing Profits From Healthy Eating Trends: THE



A Q&A with Bil Goldfield, Director of Corporate Communications, Dole Food Company, Inc.

Progressive Grocer: With the rise of vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian lifestyles, there seems to be tremendous opportunity for growth in produce at this time. How has Dole positioned itself in today’s industry?

PG: Give us some insight into how Dole is delivering value on the store floor.

Bil Goldfield: Dole has long been an advocate of a plantbased diet. Through research education, consumer outreach programs and the Dole test kitchens, we are the trusted, go-to resource for both the ideas and the products that make customers and businesses healthier in this environment. As a national lifestyle brand, the company is wholly committed to leading the growth of the fresh produce category.

BG: As the country’s premium, farm-fresh foods brand, we are constantly innovating and bringing delicious fruits and vegetables from around the world to grocery stores at the peak of quality, freshness and taste. We build and tailor programs to help retail banners make healthy profits from the healthy eating habits that today’s consumers can only satisfy with a visit to the fresh produce aisle. Our variety, product range and best-in-class service make it easy to grow with Dole.

PG: Compared to the competition, what advantages does Dole bring to business owners and consumers? BG: Our promise is to apply our more than a century and a half of farming knowledge, award-winning category expertise and product innovation to create more engaged grocers and shoppers. Wholesale customers can rely on Dole as a consummate source of knowledge on how our exceptional products were grown and the best ways to handle, pack and redistribute them through the supply chain. Additionally, our website and newsletter offer a wealth of educational materials for shoppers who want to understand the current scientific research and prepare healthy meals. PG: What are some of the benefits to plant-based eating that have made this such a sustained and profitable movement? BG: The science bears out the recent trends in grocery shopping. While some consumers have turned to supplements for a health boost, nutrients taken as pills are just not as effective as the synergy of multiple nutrients working together within whole foods. We continually educate our customers and supply partners about the many nutrients that are vital to overall health. For example, spinach, chicory greens, carrots and sweet potatoes support eye health. Arugula, broccoli, rhubarb and Brussels sprouts help build strong bones. We have some terrific, entertaining resources on our website that detail these many benefits.

PG: Customers are always looking to marry convenience with their healthy choices. Does Dole offer products that serve these consumer needs? BG: We are all about the “one-stop shop” solution. Some of the best examples I can offer are our latest Bountiful Salad Kits. They are beautifully packaged, offer a variety of innovative flavor combinations, and they’re full of plant- and grain-based proteins. Whether customers crave the zesty southwestern taste of our Fiesta Ranch kit, the enticing Asian flavor in our Sweet Thai kit, or any of our other kits, they know they’re getting the foundation of a healthy meal from a single package. These are value-added products that suit the trend perfectly, and are poised to bring more traffic to the stores..





hat’s in a word? Plenty, if that word is “fresh” and if it applies to foods and beverages. It’s not like it’s a new descriptor, but this attribute is a top priority among today’s grocery shoppers. “I think fresh is one of those food attributes that shoppers are really focusing on more now than they ever have been,” asserts Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator for the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). Fueling the use of the word is its broadening definition as an umbrella term of sorts. “There is the health-and-wellness aspect of fresh, and at the same time, people are also looking for simplicity and for a minimal amount of ingredients,” explains Richard.


"There is the healthand-wellness aspect of fresh, and at the same time, people are also looking for simplicity and minimal ingredients.” —Eric Richard, IDDBA

At the grocery level, demand for products deemed to be fresh is evident across categories. According to “Top Trends in Fresh” research from Chicago-based market research firm IRI, people are shopping the perimeter of the store for fresh products “like never before.” IRI notes that fresh meat, deli, produce, bakery, seafood and prepared food areas can comprise up to 40 percent of a store’s footprint these days. In some ways — and perhaps most importantly for food retailers — the concept of fresh is uniting several categories for a more cohesive approach to providing solutions to shoppers. “People want to know that the food they are eating has been made recently, often on-site and, in some instances, even made especially for them,” observes Richard. “If you look at stores that do a prepared foods program with sandwiches, if they can incorporate freshbaked bread they make in their bakery into their sandwich program, they have the fresh advantage and the personalization that makes consumers feel good.” Making consumers feel good is always the goal of a grocer, but is increasingly crucial in a crowded marketplace in which people have more choices for foods and beverages across the retail, online and foodservice sectors (and the increasing fusion between the three). Fresh is a sweet spot for supermarkets because of the nature of the business: Fresh food is a part of a store’s offerings in the perimeter and, increasingly, in foodservice-at-retail programs. It’s what grocers do with that advantage that makes or breaks the store as a destination. “We see in our research that grocery shoppers will go out of their way to find the stores with the freshest and highest-quality produce,” points out Rick Stein, VP of fresh food for the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI). “They will also deviate from their usual shopping radius to visit a store that has a strong reputation for foodservice. These consumer insights only support food retailers’ investment in fresh as a differentiation strategy.”





ven before 2019 began, trend projections highlighted plant-based eating and drinking as a dominant influence. The Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati, called out plant-based eating as a key movement, citing the shift among consumers to reduce their meat consumption and increase fresh produce intake. Chicago-based market research firm IRI, meanwhile, asserted that plant-based eating is no fad, supported by data showing that the trend “is poised to transform the food industry.” Right now, the market for fresh produce is strong and growing. According to the 2019 “Power of Produce” report, from the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI), fresh produce has a household penetration of nearly 100 percent and racks up $60 billion annually in traditional channels. A study conducted by Nielsen for the Washington, D.C.-based Plant Based Foods Association finds that sales of plant-based foods grew 20 percent from June 2017 to June 2018. If there are shoots of growth all over, the grocery store has


75% of shoppers said that fresh produce is most important to them, followed by fresh meat, poultry and seafood. Source: Nielsen and Produce Marketing Association (PMA)

strong roots in providing consumers with the fresh produce they’re seeking. According to Nielsen data shared by the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association (PMA), 75 percent of shoppers said that fresh produce is most important to them, followed by fresh meat, poultry and seafood. Moreover, consumers said that the quality of the produce is more important than simply finding the lowest price. The “Power of Produce” findings affirm that supermarkets are in a solid position for selling produce, particularly brickand-mortar stores that provide an opportunity for shoppers to see, touch and pick out their own fresh fruits and vegetables. The freshest and highest-quality produce that shoppers want includes traditional bulk produce as well as packaged fresh produce items that are steadily gaining steam. “Many of us remember the simple suggestion of cutting carrots into snackable segments and putting them in packages next to vegetarian or dairy-based dips. This snacking phenomenon still exists today, but translated to even more popular trends like ricing cauliflower, or serving sliced apples in packages with a sweet dip,” observes Rick Stein, VP of fresh food at FMI. This new crop of packaged products at retail includes items like packaged baby cauliflower from Mann Packaging; a line of BetterBreak snacks based on fresh vegetables, from Fresh Del Monte Produce; and blush-colored Rosé Berries (strawberries and raspberries) from Driscoll’s, to name a few. The way produce is grown is also affecting food retailers and giving them new options to share with their shoppers. Industry observer Burt Flickinger, managing director of New York-based Strategic Resource Group, cites indoor-farming initiatives for natural and organic produce, including work being done at Cornell University, in upstate New York. “Prof. Neil Mattson at Cornell and his team can grow five or more crops a year with a tenth of the water and no rust and contaminants, with full-flavor produce from greens to fruits,” notes Flickinger, adding that such indoor-farming programs open the door to having fresh produce available within a day to supermarkets. According to the latest “Power of Produce” report, consumers are open to such production methods. Four in 10 shop-

Produce Results Leaves

$6.43 billion

Driven by Millennials, locally grown produce demand continues to rise, with 44 percent of shoppers buying local whenever possible. (2019 “Power of Produce,” FMI)

Sales that the plant-based protein market is estimated to reach by 2023 (MarketsandMarkets)

Plant-based proteins could comprise a third of overall protein by 2054. (Lux Research, published by Plant Based Foods Association)

Half of shoppers purchase producebased beverages, mostly younger, male and higherincome shoppers; that number is growing, too.

Value-added snacking solutions are an innovative segment aimed at one of the newer consumption occasions.

(2019 “Power of Produce,” FMI)

(2019 “Power of Produce,” FMI)



of shoppers eat fresh produce every day. (2019 “Power of Produce,” FMI)

Currently, the top three most popular fruits are bananas, apples and grapes. (The Packer’s “2018 Fresh Trends,” published by PMA)

The top three most popular vegetables are potatoes, onions and tomatoes. (The Packer’s “2018 Fresh Trends,” published by PMA)

Age and income are key drivers of fresh produce sales. (Produce Marketing Association)

97% Roots

of shoppers eat fresh fruits and beverages at least once a week. (2019 “Power of Produce,” FMI)






pers said that they’ve seen information on greenhouse-grown or hydroponically grown items on produce packaging or signage, and most shoppers accept hydroponics as a form of local and/or organic produce. Regarding the always important factor of taste, a majority of consumers agreed that hydroponic or greenhouse-grown produce tastes “as good as or better than” conventional produce.

Seeds of Change and Growth

There are several opportunities for grocers to leverage interest in plant-based eating to boost their produce sales across the store. Creative merchandising is one way to do this. “Fresh fruit or veg available near the sandwich bar, or peppers displayed near a store’s stew beef, are all ways to make produce more accessible and convenient,” suggests Stein. Providing solutions for different occasions can be effective as well. “As grocers implement fresh merchandising programs to cater to a curious customer who may be willing to venture outside of his or her routine for a sensory experience, they are highlighting opportunities across meal occasions that feature produce,” points out Stein. He cites an example: “For instance, breakfast and beverages were noted in our annual ‘Power of Produce’ report as particularly important to younger shoppers as ways to increase their produce consumption. Consumers want to eat more produce, and supermarkets are well positioned to help them through creative

Grocers should highlight opportunities across meal occasions that feature produce.

merchandising strategies.” Another opportunity to capitalize on this mushrooming interest — produce pun intended — is the dinner occasion. Plant-based proteins are increasingly served at dinner; “Power of Produce” shows that 73 percent of consumers are eating produce as an alternative to traditional meat and poultry. Sharing information about the fresh produce they carry is an additional way for grocers to connect with their customers. “Another area that consumers have shown interest in is: How fresh is fresh? When did it leave the field? When did it ship? When did it get put on the shelf?” notes Stein. “I think retailers have great opportunities to convey freshness and communicate about speed from farm to shelf.” Seeking out information and pursuing new options applies to a retailer’s own approach to doing the most with plant-based foods, in and beyond the produce section. “Since the majority of stores employ nutrition professionals — at the store level in addition to the corporate setting — we’re


All In On Onions A Q&A with Teri Gibson, Director of Marketing & Customer Relations, Peri & Sons Farms

Peri & Sons Farms, known for its flavorful Nevada Whites™ onion varietal, is celebrating its 40th anniversary as a master grower.

microclimate provided by Nevada’s Mason Valley. Plus, we’ve built a pretty strong reputation by selling over 400 million pounds of onions across the globe.

Progressive Grocer: How has Peri & Sons Farms harmonized with the current trend toward healthier eating habits?

PG: At a time when consumers demand environmentally sound practices from their farmers, how has Peri & Sons Farms set itself apart?

Teri Gibson: Awareness for white onions is growing and demand for our famous Nevada Whites is on the rise. Food movements like clean-eating, power bowls and plant-based diets are all motiving people to purchase the best-tasting, most nutritious produce.

TG: For decades now our company’s founder and owner David Peri has built a reputation for land stewardship. Peri & Sons Farms is the first recipient of SCS Global’s Sustainably Grown certification for domestic onions. We are dedicated to being No-GMO, Pesticide-Residue Free, USDA Certified Organic, Sustainably Grown, Food Safe and certified by GFSI/GlobalGAP.

PG: Why are so many of today’s grocery shoppers seeking out Peri & Sons’ Nevada Whites? TG: In addition to being beautiful, our Nevada Whites are full of flavor — when cooked, they’re even sweeter than most Spanish yellow onions! Their higher pyruvic acid levels make them spicy and flavorful with little-to-no aftertaste. It has everything to do with the unique


Nevada Whites

To learn more, visit or


“Consumers want to eat more produce, and supermarkets are well positioned to help them through creative merchandising strategies.” —Rick Stein, FMI

witnessing their influence in the form of creative spins on plant-forward protein options in foodservice to zoodles in the produce aisles,” says Stein, using a term often employed for “noodles” crafted from zucchini. “Cross-merchandising strategies often bring canned produce or products that are traditionally center store to help complement a fresh meal solution.” He adds: “I believe rising tides float all boats, so produce departments should continue to communicate why fruits and vegetables are healthy, but not at the expense of selling the latest Beyond Burger. Both can grow.” As for future growth, although conventional supermarkets are still the primary place where consumers buy fresh produce,

Conventional supermarkets are still where most consumers buy fresh produce, but competition from other channels is growing.

grocers recognize that competition is growing. According to “Power of Produce,” supermarkets have the highest share of all channels but currently “under-index” for Millennials In addition, limited-assortment stores that focus on value are now a primary produce channel for 8 percent of shoppers, while specialty/organic stores are gaining sales from a growing number — 6 percent — of buyers. The report concludes that such growth in other channels among younger shoppers underscores the importance of grocery stores’ positioning and differentiation when it comes to fresh produce.







ere’s the raw truth: Two-thirds of shoppers “mostly” prepare fresh meat and poultry. Although fully cooked meats are in demand, especially among younger shoppers, fresh is still where it’s at, according to the 2019 “Power of Meat” report, from the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Education and Research, in Washington, D.C.



billion Size of the meat and poultry category Source: 2019 “Power of Meat” report, FMI and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Education and Research

Other research points to a similar focus on fresh. Technavio, based in Toronto, predicts that the market for fresh meat packaging will hit $3 billion by 2022, at a compound annual rate of more than 3 percent. That’s not to say that that today’s fresh meat, poultry and seafood are the same commodity-style products that they’ve been in the past. Even as most stores still sell a lot of products in traditional tray-and-overwrap formats, a growing number of case-ready meats are available, benefiting consumers who appreciate the convenience, and retailers that may be facing a shortage of skilled butchers and meat department staff. Consumers’ perception of case-ready meat is highly favorable, with 80 percent of shoppers saying that it’s "as good as or better than" meat cut and/or packaged in the store, according to last year’s “Power of Meat” report. In consequence, brands continue to launch new fresh meat and poultry products, including case-ready items. Minnetonka, Minn.-based Cargill’s Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms brands recently launched Turkey Skillet Kits, which include four fresh seasoned turkey breast cutlets and sauce packets. Mighty Spark Food Co., in Minneapolis, offers a line of innovative case-ready meats, including Sweet Thai-style ground chicken packaged in a chub format with an outer paperboard package. Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods, for its part, recently invested $300 million in a new case-ready plant in Utah. These and other items in the fresh meat case are value-added in some way to make preparation easier for today’s consumers, who are lacking time and, often, the knowledge of how to cook meat. According to the 2019 “Power of Meat” study, sales of value-added cuts rose 5.1 percent in the past year. In general, the report notes that consumers use a variety of methods to prepare fresh meat bought at the store. The leading cooking appliances for fresh meat are stove, oven, grill and Crock-Pot. Younger shoppers are driving the use of the pressure cooker and air fryer for meat and poultry cooking. At the same time, there’s notable interest in meat and poultry products that are “better for” the planet, or for one’s personal health and wellness. The 2019 “Power of Meat” study finds that consumers associate production

practices, including animal welfare, back to their own health, seeking out items that are described as all-natural or hormone-free. “Production attributes continue to deliver above-average growth, at 4.8 percent,” the report observes. “And shoppers want to see their meat departments carry more.”

Alternative Rocks

In 2019 and looking ahead to 2020, it’s hard to review the meat department without bringing up plant-based meat alternatives. Indeed, meat alternatives are now thought of by many consumers — and traditional meat and poultry companies seeking to diversify their business — as just another form of protein. Market interest is there. While still a small part of the overall market, blended plant/meat items and plant-based alternatives are growing rapidly, up nearly 19 percent to $878 million in sales, according to the most recent “Power of Meat” report. The study reveals that three-quarters of meat eaters integrate plant-based meat alternatives into their dinners. As the traditional meat case has undergone a makeover of sorts, shoppers can buy fresh meat items beyond the meat department. The “Power of Meat” report finds that people are increasingly shopping the spectrum of fresh meats, buying from the meat case and counter as well as the deli and the frozen aisle. Accordingly, grocers can think out of the box — or the case, as it may be — when it comes to meat merchandising. “Food retailers who work with their suppliers to align their thinking with shoppers, who view meat as a meal occasion, and not a commodity in one department, can reap benefits in broader interest and sales,” asserts Rick Stein, VP of fresh food at FMI. Where does that leave the merchandising of plant-based meat alternatives? That’s a complex question.

86% 5% 10% 13% 6%

of U.S. shoppers describe themselves as meat eaters.

follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. describe themselves as ‘flexitarian.”

of Generation Z consumers eat a flexitarian diet.

of Baby Boomers follow a flexitarian diet.

Source: 2019 “Power of Meat” report, FMI and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Education and Research

“The plant-based protein trend has ignited another interesting debate among food retailers: Where should plant-based proteins be featured in the grocery aisles?” says Stein, adding that consumers aren’t definitive in their preferences. “When we asked consumers where they wanted plant-based alternatives placed in the grocery store, we got a mix of answers: 26 percent believe plantbased alternatives should be found in the produce department, 37 percent thought the meat department placement was best, and 37 percent shop the frozen aisle for plant-based alternatives.” Brands and retailers are mixing up the merchandising of fresh meat and poultry items and fresh meat alternatives. For example, Beyond Meat products are often placed in or near the meat case, allowing shoppers to shop a true range of products, including plantbased as well natural, grass-fed, organic and conventional proteins. Even as some traditional protein companies have gotten into plant-based meats — Tyson Foods recently created a new Raised & Rooted brand, and introduced its first plant-based and blended products — there has been pushback from some in the meat industry to keep the fresh meat case just fresh meat. “I think the ranchers have a point that plant-based products should be in their own category,” observes Burt Flickinger, managing director of New York-based Strategic Resource Group. “The poultry and beef industries collectively have constructed points that plant-based is big enough to have its own designated area that is not co-located with beef.” There’s room for effective cross-merchandising, however, Flickinger adds. “You could have primary or secondary placement, the same as you’d have for sauces and seasonings, with plant-based alternatives,” he notes. Whatever their displays look like, retailers would be wise to evaluate their overall approach to merchandising meat and connecting with protein-buying shoppers, experts advise. “We certainly see a role for the retailer to be a counselor to a shopper, especially in offering cooking, food safety and recipe ideas,” Stein says. “Customers, more than ever, are looking for how to cook, recipes, and the difference between different cuts of meat. Retailers can provide direction and education with their seasoned staff. Plus it makes the shopping trip experiential.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2019




Guide attributes, including health and wellness, the data reveals that “there is power in satisfying a customer’s emotion to drive sales.” The latest “Power of Bakery” study also confirms the significance of freshness as an attribute, revealing that the term “fresh” tops production-related claims important to shoppers. Seven in 10 consumers cite freshness as the claim that matters most to them, generally defining fresh by date and time of production. The notion of fresh may relate to time, but it’s also about place. According to an April 2019 report from Chicago-based Nielsen, bakery is second, behind produce, in products that consumers really care about buying on a local basis. More than half — 54 percent — of consumers said that that buying local bakery items is important to them. The power of freshness and positive associations of bakery items is emphasized by Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator for the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). “If you look at the rise of online shopping, which is growing rapidly as a percentage, one thing you don’t get from online shopping is the experience,” he says. “When people walk in the store, they like to smell bread being baked and seeing people making the products they can purchase. That conveys a level of freshness, quality and taste.” Beyond baking a variety of goods in store, supermarkets can also promote the freshness and variety of their bakery offerings through a food theater experience featuring staff members visibly decorating cakes or mixing batters. Because taste is still the main sensory driver, Richard points to the perennial effectiveness of giving shoppers a taste of what they can buy. “Sampling is so important,” he stresses. “Traditional retailers have the advantage to have people try products, something that online doesn’t have. It’s another way of building the experience.” He adds that the department's skilled pastry chefs and bakers can also provide information what they’re making. While seeking more indulgent items in the bakery section, however, shoppers often pick up more functional or everyday baked goods in center store, according to the "Power of Bakery" report. Total bread and baked food sales topped $59 billion in 2018, divided between the fresh bakery department and items in the grocery, frozen and dairy departments.


s pretty much anyone can attest, there’s something enticing about the aroma of freshly made bread or just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. The fascination of watching a pastry expert roll fondant or decorate a cake has led television series like “The Great British Baking Show” and “Cake Boss” to attract huge global audiences. Fresh baked goods engage all of the senses, and also have ties to fond memories, whether it’s a grandmother’s kitchen, a child’s birthday party or a favorite bistro visited on vacation. Grocers can evoke those associations and deliver multisensory appeal with their offerings of fresh baked items. The 2019 “Power of Bakery” report, from the Arlington, Va.based Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the American Bakers Association, in Washington, D.C., highlights the ways in which the in-store bakery, despite its location on the perimeter of the store, can get to the heart of shoppers’ cravings. Among other findings, the report shows that the main word associations with bakery are positive and emotional, with terms like “love” and “bakery” frequently mentioned together. The “Power of Bakery” emphasizes that although it’s important to meet people’s interest in functional


$13.8 billion

worth of in-store bakery sales are driven by desserts, sweet goods and cookies. Source: 2019 “Power of Bakery,” FMI and the American Bakers Association


s the deli and prepared food areas of the store have become destinations for take-home purchases and on-site dining, expectations of quality have increased, along with growing interest and sales, which have reached the $36.6 billion mark by Chicago-based Nielsen’s estimates. Freshness is tied into those expectations. For deli and prepared foods, freshness refers to the type of foods offered, from fresh produce at the salad bar and fresh salads, to fresh-from the-oven pizzas and meats. The notion of fresh also applies to novel offerings that are outside of conventional choices. While they’ve got nothing against mac and cheese, rotisserie chicken, and iceberg lettuce, today’s shoppers, savvy on shawarma, sriracha and sorrel, are enticed by a world of flavors and dishes. “I think that’s key: offering freshness with interesting new takes and putting a focus on the quality of the food,” affirms Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator for the Madison, Wis.-based

$36.6 billion

Sales of deli and prepared food sales Source: Nielsen

International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). “It’s not just falling back to having food under hot lamps. It takes a commitment and creativity, often working with a corporate chef who can boost and enhance these programs.” In both aspects of freshness, grocers are poised to distinguish their store as a solution for fresh meals, snacks and beverages. For one thing, food retailers have the biggest pantry possible to make and offer a plethora of fresh foods, spanning longtime favorites as well as trending foods and ingredients. If they hire a professional chef, to Richard’s point, they can give that pro a lot to work with. Grocery stores can also tout convenience, in that shoppers can stock up on essentials while bringing home dinner that’s pre-made or ready to make. That’s appealing, considering that more than two-thirds (65 percent) of shoppers don’t know their dinner plans two hours before mealtime, according to the 2018 “Power of Foodservice at Retail” report from the Arlington, Va.based Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Deli and prepared food areas can be solution centers for entrées as well as PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2019




sides for busy shoppers seeking sustenance: According to IDDBA’s “What’s in Store 2019” report, 53 percent of consumer meals are described as “some scratch and some semi- and fully prepared items,” while 39 percent are “mostly cooked from scratch” and 8 percent are “mostly semiand fully prepared items.” The 2019 “Power of Foodservice at Retail” report from FMI, released this past September, amplifies the opportunity. According to FMI’s Stein, the report shows that more shoppers are willing to make their daily commute longer to visit a store that they think has high-quality — think fresh — foodservice offerings.

To Your Health

Even as most shoppers enjoy the occasional indulgent dish, health and wellness are influential factors in the decision to buy fresh food perceived as good or better for you. A mindful dining study cited in “What’s in Store 2019” finds that 81 percent of consumers said that “they shouldn’t have to try too hard” to eat healthy. Meanwhile, in a March 2019 report on fresh food, Chicago-based Nielsen notes that healthier dishes like sushi and innovative salads continue to drive sales. Grocers that include fresh, healthy options in their deli and prepared food areas can meet the needs of their many healthand nutrition-minded consumers, whether they’re on strict diets or balancing indulgent and healthy meals during a typical week. Fresh and healthy options in the deli and foodservice areas can be creative without sacrificing taste for nutrition. In addition to providing inventive fare, like plant-based entrées made with alternative proteins, stores' culinary staff can offer better-for-you versions of indulgent favorites, like pizza with a cauliflower crust, or spaghetti squash cut into “noodles.”



“Traditional retailers have the advantage to have people try products, something that online doesn’t have. It’s another way of building the experience.” —Eric Richard, IDDBA

Grocers can help their customers find and buy healthier fresh deli and prepared food items by serving as a resource. According to the FMI’s 2019 “Power of Foodservice at Retail” report, although 68 percent of shoppers think they have sufficient information available to make generally educated decisions, many of them said they would appreciate having more tools in the deli and prepared food departments. Those tools can include cleanlabel choices and healthier ingredients, as well as improved nutritional education and detailed in-store health information, according to the report.

Putting the ‘Custom’ in Customer

Customization is also important to shoppers who browse fresh food and beverages in the deli and prepared food departments. People have been able to build their own salads and order deli meats as thick or thin as they’d like for decades, but the level of customization has recently ratcheted up. “The inventory is there, so grocers are able to really let consumers customize their meal — more than they can with meal-kit companies,” Richard notes. Tied into customization is the idea of a fresh food choice that’s appealing on a visceral level. In the current foodie-centric culture, the freshness of food is about looks as much as it is about taste. As the “What’s in Store” 2019 report asserts, “The more photo-friendly your food, the better.” Presentation is key in fresh prepared foods, the report concludes. Appearance matters in a big-picture way, too. According to “What’s in Store 2019," one of the main suggestions for improvement in the deli and prepared food departments is creating a “fresher image through clean stores, frequent product rotation and in-stock items." Finally, Richard emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach to freshness, with deli and prepared foods playing their parts in a broader solution. “A grocer could offer meal solutions that incorporate a main dish from the deli or prepared foods area, a bread or dessert from the in-store bakery, and some greens from the produce department,” he suggests. “It’s really opening up the idea for departments to work together.”

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Candy & Snack Merchandising


esearch from Chicago-based Mars Wrigley has identified the desire to celebrate seasonal events and special moments as one of the four main reasons that consumers reach for treats and snacks. During the winter holidays in particular, with their hectic round of parties and feasting opportunities, indulgence becomes permissible, which translates to more shoppers looking to splurge on candy and snacks. Grocers can capitalize on this greater interest with enticing displays and strategic placement of such items. “Eighty percent of consumers say that emotional well-being is as important as physical well-being,” notes Carly Schildhaus, public affairs manager at the Washington, D.C.-based National Confectioners Association (NCA). “Seasons and holidays tend to be sharing occasions with family and friends, which is a component of emotional well-being for many.”


Key Takeaways Seasonal items have continued to grow in importance with shoppers while enabling retailers to drive incremental purchase occasions, as well as lure shoppers back during off-seasonal periods. The right holiday assortment is crucial, with many companies offering new versions of familiar products, while others play up their items’ unique attributes. Merchandising and promotions have moved well beyond the candy and snack aisles to encompass the whole store, and even cyberspace.

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Candy & Snack Merchandising

Retailers should make a big deal of the seasons by creating sensory experiences — they should leverage their aisles, lobbies and seasonal display areas to move beyond functional merchandising and into memorable, experience-based merchandising.”

OCHO offers seasonal organic chocolate candies in the shape of Christmas trees, with either caramel or peanut butter filling.

—Carly Schildhaus, National Confectioners Association

Continues Schildhaus: “Seasonal items have continued to grow in importance with shoppers while providing retailers opportunities to drive incremental purchase occasions — and bring shoppers back to their aisles during off-seasonal periods.” See the sidebar on page 73 for NCA’s principles for spurring seasonal candy and snack sales. “Consumers are looking to create experiences and fun memories with their candy purchases during the holidays,” notes Clark Taylor, SVP of sales/marketing for Louisville, Ky.-based CandyRific,

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which offers licensed novelty products containing candy. “One of the best ways to do this is with a fun and exciting end cap of color and variety. Customers like to shop for an experience.” “Holiday packaged candy drives 15% … of total confection sales,” observes Marlene Creighton, VP of food

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East at The Hershey Co., in Hershey, Pa. “Shoppers are at the grocery store more than once a week, and there are ample opportunities for the grocer to engage them during the holiday season.” To that end, Hershey is “continuing to dial up the in-store experience around traditional seasons and micro seasons,” says Creighton. “This will ensure that retailers become the destination for candy and snacking events.” She also points to an uptick in “localization, which is the analytical focus against the customer to optimize the right assortment, pricing, shelving and merchandising ideas for the local market.”

Licensed winter holiday items from CandyRific include "Star Wars"-inspired light sabers containing candy, in honor of the latest film in the venerable franchise.

Seasonal Products

Of course, an integral part of holiday candy and snack merchandising is having the right products to sell. Naturally, this is the time of year that many candy and snack makers come out with limited-edition items in honor of the season. “We’re excited to launch Kit Kat Mint Duos in December of this year, which will combine mint and dark chocolate in our famous Kit Kat bar,” says Creighton. “This trend is hot, as shoppers are looking for bold flavor combina-

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Candy & Snack Merchandising

tions in something that they are already familiar with.” Familiarity is a major consideration for licensed holiday products as well. “CandyRific is very strong on licenses and the comfort that these can bring to kids and parents alike,” notes Taylor. “This holiday season, you will see us promoting both the ‘Frozen 2’ and ‘Star Wars 9’ movie launches in November and December. During these events, we will be launching several of our top items with these strong franchises. These will include fans, talkers, spinners and, of course, our award-winning light sabers.” “Frozen” franchise-inspired products in updated packaging, timed to roll out in tandem with the film sequel’s Nov. 22 premiere, are also due from Fairfield, Calif.-based Jelly Belly Candy Co., according to VP of National Sales Dennis Spiller, who says, “We offer shippers and clip strips [in the company’s movie tie-in lines] to fulfil the needs of our grocery retailers.” He adds that such items “are a ‘must’ purchase for Disney fans.” Other festive offerings play up their uniqueness. For instance, Oakland, Calif.-based OCHO is one of the few organic candy bar companies making shapes for the holidays, in such forms as Christmas trees. Available at retailers like Target, the candies come with either caramel or peanut butter filling in seasonally appropriate wrapping. On the snack side, Harvest Snaps is bringing back the limited-edition Salted Caramel and Cinnamon Brown Sugar seasonal flavors in its Red Lentil Snack Crisps line. Fairfield, Calif.-based snack maker Calbee

Attractive displays, like this one from Hershey, get customers into the holiday spirit of enjoying and sharing special treats during the festive season.

North America touts the baked (never fried) item featuring Non-GMO red lentils as the first ingredient and containing just 130 calories per serving as a guilt-free alternative to more calorific holiday treats. In a similar vein, leading free-from brand Enjoy Life Foods has introduced two seasonally inspired allergen-free Soft Baked Cookies varieties, Apple Cider Donut and Peppermint Bark, made with all-natural ingredients, ancient grains and aromatic spices and flavors. The packaging incorporates the company’s customary teal color, which signifies food allergy awareness, as well as cheerful winter graphics. “With treats at holiday parties, cookie exchanges or leaving cookies out for Santa, the holidays are often a challenging time for those with food allergies, intolerances and special dietary needs,” says Joel Warady, general manager and chief sales and marketing officer at Chicago-based Enjoy Life. “Our new Holiday Soft Baked Cookies allow family and friends to celebrate the holidays together.”

All Around the Store

Allergen-free holiday offerings from Enjoy Life enable those with special dietary needs to indulge safely.


“During the 2018 holiday season, Hy-Vee stores created cross-merchandising and tie-in opportunities for holiday candy favorites in nearly all departments,” recounts Todd Gean, candy category manager at the West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocer. “From placement in the traditional seasonal aisle and stocking-stuffer displays, to using wooden crates and three-tier baskets to create eye-catching placements within the holiday home sale areas, as well as bakery and other fresh departments, Hy-Vee envisioned outof-the-box ways that our customers could gift candy.” This is a winning strategy, according to candy and snack merchandising experts. “Ultimately, retailers should make a big deal of the seasons by creating sensory experiences — they should leverage their aisles, lobbies and seasonal display areas to move beyond functional merchandising and into memorable, experience-based merchandising,” advises NCA’s Schildhaus.

S5 for Holiday Success

Online and digital is the new normal, so we want grocers to take advantage of this trend in order to catch up with shoppers in the digital space.” —Marlene Creighton, The Hershey Co.

To facilitate this type of merchandising, CandyRific has created small convertible displays of its products, in assorted item floorstand/power wing units. “These promotional vehicles allow the retailers greater flexibility in finding the right location in their stores to promote the [items],” explains Taylor. “In addition to the flexibility of these panels, we have reduced the number of selling SKUs down to 24-30 units to help the retailer move through their product faster and create greater turns on the display space.” Rasheda Boyd, senior marketing director at Plano, Texas-based Frito-Lay North America, a division of PepsiCo, suggests “prominently displaying seasonal packaging or flavors at key points of interruption out of aisle. With Frito-Lay Variety Packs being a planned purchase in over half of homes with families, these consumers are accustomed to go to the aisle to pick up their usual item. Leveraging the perimeter and displays to signal new holiday-specific offerings will maximize a grocer’s opportunity to provide a destination for an impulse, seasonally relevant product.” “The holiday season should encompass the store to bring excitement to shoppers with ideas that scream the season,” asserts Hershey’s Creighton, who goes on to note that “retailers will continue to cross categories and departments to bring treats, snacks, fresh, frozen, general merchandise, etc., to make the season come to life in stores.”

The Omnichannel Experience

Given the evolving shopping habits of consumers, many of whom purchase products online or research them on the internet before buying them in brick-and-mortar stores, it’s important for grocers to go beyond their physical locations when they create the right settings for consumers to purchase holiday candy and snacks. “The biggest trend is that people will be developing merchandising and promotions using an omnichannel approach,” notes David Stone, managing partner and principal of the New England Consulting Group, in Westport, Conn. “Grocers will leverage in-store, apps, websites, etc. to develop custom programs that engage consumers from the point of purchase to include digital/online programs to extend consumer involvement, from targeted gaming to customized products.”

Jelly Belly provides retailers with seasonal (below) and fall/ winter movie tie-in clip strips.

According to Carly Schildhaus, public affairs manager at the Washington, D.C.based National Confectioners Association (NCA), “Grocers can maximize interest in candy and snacks through merchandising [in accordance with] five shopper-driven principles for winning seasons at retail, which NCA collectively refers to as ‘S5’”:

Significance: Recognize the significance of seasons — and plan to play big.

Secondary: Consider all opportunities for consumption and gifting during the holiday to both extend the season and sell other products that fit the occasions.


Take a shopper-centric approach to seasonal occasions by examining consumer rituals at holidays, and work candy/snacks into those occasions.


Plan and execute seamlessly at retail, which includes everything from timely seasonal orders to visible and inspirational displays and signage.


Become the seasonal destination for shoppers by offering an inspiring, relevant and sensory experience, and help customers imagine the occasion, which means they will buy not only candy, but also other items for the holiday.

“Grocers should aspire to be the destination of choice for seasonal purchases, and they can surprise and delight their shoppers during this time by creating an omnichannel seasonal experience inclusive of items across the box,” says Creighton. “They’re also able to leverage items across categories and departments to bring easy solutions together for their shoppers. These ideas can be brought to life in-store with innovative sensory merchandising displays anchored in prime store locations, while online with visuals, recipes, etc.” She adds: “Online and digital is the new normal, so we want grocers to take advantage of this trend in order to catch up with shoppers in the digital space. Fun ideas like recipes, sweet shops and more are becoming standard as well.” NCA’s Schildhaus puts it more succinctly: “Think of what might be Instagram- or Pinterest-worthy!” PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2019



2019 Retail Produce & Floral Review


roduce still stands strong as the main reason that customers select a primary store, according to Progressive Grocer’s annual Retail Produce & Floral Review, which informs readers about what’s going on in produce and floral departments across the United States. From CEOs to store managers, buyers to department specialists, this year’s review contains opinions for 2019 and comparisons to the 2018 report. In the survey, labor is always a top issue for produce department managers: hiring, training, supervising and, many times, repeating the process. As one retailer says in the 2019 survey: “People are the most important ingredient to a successful produce operation. If you have the right people, they can make the produce department look like gold.” Competition seems to be of somewhat greater concern this year, whether it’s from other supermarkets, Walmart, limited-assortment stores like Aldi or Lidl, or online.


Several retailers cite oversaturated markets. One respondent notes, “You have to maintain displays in the face of slower turns, with the increased competition.” Another retailer observes, “Costs are higher to buy produce for our store than for bigger chain stores,” and yet another says that because of competition, retail prices have had to be lowered, which affects gross profits. “Competition is brutal,” one respondent concedes. Competition from other supermarkets was mentioned by 46% (up from 40% in 2018); Walmart by 34% (up slightly from 2018); other channels, including Aldi and farmers’ markets, by 30% (about the same); and online by 28% (up slightly). The

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2019 Retail Produce & Floral Review

Produce Sales Change Increased


Stayed the same



fight for produce customers brought a response from almost 50% of respondents who are concerned about the price perception of fresh produce. These respondents know that produce can influence shoppers’ primary supermarket choice. Although in the broad market, produce sales to date in 2019 were flat in comparison with the previous year, increasing only 1%, when asked how their produce sales had fared over the past six months, 53.7% of 2019 Progressive Grocer survey respondents said they had increased, versus 59% of respondents to the 2018 survey. Further, when asked to project total same-store department sales for the entire year of 2019, 68.4% of survey respondents said that they would increase, down from last year’s survey, in which 72% of respondents expected that same-store sales would rise. Like last year, roughly one-quarter of 2019 survey participants believed that same-store sales would stay the same. Fresh produce continues to convert and keep customers by a large margin, according to the 2019 “Power of Produce” report from the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI). This surpasses the meat department and even total-store price image as a lure for conversion.

The Challenges Continue

When 2019 PG survey participants were asked to rate the seriousness of issues facing their produce and floral departments, more than half of respondents cited three areas. The top response, labor and recruitment costs, received a rating of 4.45 out of 6, with profits right behind that, earning a rating of 4.44. Competition from other channels and from other supermarkets tied with ratings of 4.42, while quality of product rounded out the top five, at 4.37. Employee training was seventh, with a rating of 4.18, right



5 3.7%

2 6.3%




Net change

Net change 14%

2 0.0%

Same-Store Projected Total Sales for 2019 Increased


Stayed the same



6 8 .4%



Net change





Net change

Floral Sales Change in the Past Year 2 6.3%

32 .6%

Increased Decreased Stayed the same Don't sell floral in produce department

31.6% Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019


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2019 Retail Produce & Floral Review

A major struggle in produce departments is trying to find the balancing act with labor and having the ability to have highly qualified individuals on the sales floors.” —Blake Lee, Bristol Farms behind price perception (4.22). “Educating associates so they can inform the customer is critical to the livelihood of any brick-and-mortar establishment,” says Jeff Cady, director of produce and floral at Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops Markets LLC, which has more than 150 stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. “Without knowledgeable, friendly associates, why shop brick-and-mortar when you can have it delivered to your house? . . . We must educate to maintain our point of differentiation.” “Produce is, and will always be, a service-driven department within retail,” notes Blake Lee, director of produce, bulk, procurement and merchandising for Carson, Calif.-based Bristol Farms, which operates more than 12 locations in California and is known for its organic produce. “Customers should be able to interact with produce clerks on a personal level. I think a major struggle in produce departments is trying to find the balancing act with labor and having the ability to have highly qualified individuals on the sales floors.” Lee observes that that Bristol Farms offers customer service during the day on the sales floor, and also services fresh juice bars from the department. “By taking the time and investing in our employees, we can combat the training gaps that seem to be on the rise,” he says. Jeff Wingo, supervisor of produce operations for Fredericktown, Mo.-based Town and Country Supermarkets, with more than 20 stores in the Show Me State, asserts that, “without a doubt,” personnel and staffing are the biggest challenges for the produce department. “Creating an environment whereby you can create some retention from your associates is vital,” he stresses. “There is nothing more frustrating


Rating Problems Facing the Produce/Floral Department Rated on a scale of 1-6, where 1=not serious through 6=extremely serious


Year Ago






Competition from other outlets (farmers’ markets, natural food stores, etc.)



Competition from other supermarkets



Quality of product



Price perception of fresh produce



Labor/recruitment costs

Employee training






Wholesale prices



Transportation costs



How to increase consumption



Competition from Walmart



Traceability (point of origin)






Leveraging produce as snacks



Produce/floral department overhead (building upkeep, energy costs, etc.)



Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019

Compared with a year ago, sales of organic produce ... Increased


Stayed the same



5 6. 8%

5.3% Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019

4 6%

4 6%


Produce Sales by Segment 4.5%




41. 8%

Fruit All others, including exotics, mixes, etc.


Refrigerated salad dressings and dips Premium juices Nuts

3 6.1%

What percent of fruit sales are ... 13.1% Random-weight Packaged Value-added/ Fresh-cut

6 0.6%

2 6.3%

than spending four to six weeks training an individual, and then they decide that the grass is greener somewhere else.” Shrink and profit are inextricably linked in produce departments, and both are a source of concern for department managers. As one survey respondent affirms, “Shrink is such a large percentage of cost and hits profits hard.” Shrink and spoilage were concerns for 43% of those surveyed, down slightly from 47% last year. Several respondents mentioned poor-quality produce delivered to stores. Top efforts to reduce shrink ranked in the 2019 PG survey included use in prepared foods (57%, flat from last year); donation to food banks (51%, down from 56% last year); use in fresh-cut programs (49%, compared with 56% in 2018); and ugly produce (31%, a large drop from 42% last year). In looking at departments’ physical needs, managers and merchandisers highlighted a lack of space and display equipment for the many new products rolling out. “While the amount of different produce commodities themselves may not be growing that fast, the actual different ways they are offered is growing more each day,” says Tops’ Cady. He notes that trying to work these new items into his produce sets is difficult. “We only have so much space to put items, but consumers demand it, so it is forcing us to find ways to increase space,” he explains. “One might think, just cut back on the main item and make room for its offspring. The problem is, there are still plenty of people who want the main item. Trying to take care of every customer has always been a challenge, but one that must be met.”

Produce Components

What percent of vegetable sales are ... 11. 2% 6 0. 2%

Random-weight Packaged

The average gross margin percent reported in the 2019 PG survey was 33%, roughly the same as last year. Average net profit percent reported by respondents this year was 21%, the same as in 2018. Produce department average percent of total store sales was 17%, a very slight increase from last year. Vegetables are the primary produce purchase for respondents, at 41.8%, a slight uptick from 41% in the 2018 survey. Fruits were up a bit in second place,

Value-added/ Fresh-cut

2 8 .6%

Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019




2019 Retail Produce & Floral Review

at 36.1% versus 33% last year. Sales of nuts were slightly lower, according to respondents, at 4% in 2019, versus 6% in 2018. Premium juices, and refrigerated dressings and dips were mentioned by 4.5% and 6.4%, respectively, with little change since last year. The “all other” category, which includes exotics and mixes, also showed little change, coming in at 7.3% in 2019. Sales of organic produce have increased, according to respondents in the 2019 survey, with 56.8% citing a larger percent of produce sold being organic, up from 46% in 2018. At the same time, 37.9% of respondents said there had been no change in organics sold, a large drop from 46% in 2019. “Some of my most frequent organic customers buy salads, strawberries, bananas, potatoes, grapes and apples,” observes Bridget Winkelman, farmer’s market and floral manager for Coborn’s, based in St. Cloud, Minn. “Under 10% of sales [are] organic. The people who do want organic tend to be very adamant about it . . . but on the flip side, I have a lot of guests that are adamant about [not buy-

ing] organic because they don’t want to pay extra for it.” Some produce managers are concerned about “changing over to organic,” while others worry about “continued availability of high-quality organic local produce.” In the most recent “Fresh Facts on Retail” quarterly report from the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, organic produce dollar sales reached nearly $1.5 billion, which is 3.9% higher than the amount logged the same time last year. This represents 9.1% of all produce dollars in Q2 2019. Organic vegetables sold the most, but organic fruit also gained in sales. Signage for weekly specials within the produce department remained the most popular form of promotion, the current survey showed. According to respondents, 81.1% place signage within the department and 44.2%

Promoting Produce/Floral

In the Produce/Floral Department

Elsewhere in the Store

Social/Digital Media (Cross- Promotion)

Don’t Use

Signage for weekly specials

81.1% 44.2% 42.1% 5.3%

“Local” signage

80.0 34.7 33.7 11.6

Country-of-origin signage

79.0 21.1 4.2 17.9


60.0 34.7 10.5 27.4

Signage for meal/eating suggestions

41.1 39.0 24.1 39.0

Cooking/new product demonstrations

20.0 29.5 22.1 51.6

Investment Plans for Produce/Floral Recently Invested

Investment Within the Next 1-2 Years

Future Investment Wish List

No Interest/ No Response

Energy-efficient lighting

45.5% 14.4% 18.9% 13.3% 10.0%

Donation of unsold produce



40.0 25.6 20.0 8.9 10.0

Floral displays/bins

34.4 13.3 11.1 12.2 31.1

Portable bins

28.9 18.9 11.1 18.9 24.4

Mobile merchandisers

27.8 23.3 13.3 13.3 25.6

Energy-efficient chill cases

25.6 16.7 22.2 27.8 12.2



Total department renovation

18.9 17.8 22.2 25.6 22.2

“Ugly” produce

17.8 13.3 11.1 11.1 46.7

Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019




7.8 14.4 27.8

11.1 24.4 35.6

use it elsewhere in the store. Signage promoting meal and eating suggestions is used elsewhere in the store by 39% of those surveyed, and in the department by 41.1%. Signage denoting the local origin of produce is used within the department by 80% of those surveyed, and elsewhere in the store by 34.7%, while signage identifying the country of origin is used in the department by 79% and elsewhere in the store by 21.1%. Sampling items is also strong in the produce department, according to 60% of respondents, and elsewhere in the store, cited by 34.7%.

Blossoming Sales

According to 32.6% of 2019 survey respondents, in the past year, floral sales have increased (roughly the same as last year, at 35%) while 31.6% said that sales stayed the same, up slightly from last year’s 28%. An additional 26.3% said that they didn’t sell floral in their produce departments. John Savidan, senior director, produce and floral for Encino, Calif.-based Gelson’s, with more than 25 stores in Southern California, notes that the chain’s floral sales were up year over year, but that current conditions were different. “It’s a warm summer,” he points out, adding that “customers aren’t interested, so sales are flat for this season.”

And the Future . . .

Looking to the future, there are many opportunities and challenges for the produce department. “One thing we are facing … is sustainability in packaging, for stores and for the industry,” says Savidan. Southern California is beginning the move toward bans on plastic containers. “We will be using 100% compostable containers eventually,” he notes. “This will be huge for the industry. It’s like going back to where we started, with [pre-plastic] containers. “I believe that the biggest challenge for produce departments today is the drastic weather/climate changes, which can be favorable to crops one week, driving costs down, and the next week, the opposite, creating product shortages driving cost and pricing up,” says Juan Estrella, produce specialist at Garland, Texas-based El Rancho Inc. Supermarket/Supermercado, which

operates more than 20 stores. One crucial area for the future is customer education. Many produce managers already know this, judging by their comments. “Product education for customers is needed,” one retailer asserts. “Teach them to use items they are not familiar with,” while another respondent is concerned about “the changing consumer. Customers want to know exactly what is used in farming methods of produce.” Another area that produce departments are dealing with, which is still fairly new, is product recalls. According to FMI’s 2019 “Power of Produce” report, among the 97% of shoppers who would appreciate updates on major product recalls, email and in-store signage are the preferred contact. Twice as many shoppers simply want in-store signage to inform them of recalls, rather than having the store suggest alternatives. Many shoppers, in particular Millennials, are also interested in learning more about how to safely handle produce at home, especially in regard to safe storage and preparation. On the same subject, in responses to PG, one survey respondent notes the challenge of “contamination scares of fresh leafy vegetables.” Given this need for greater knowledge and transparency, educating customers can create a bond and build trust.

Click and Shop Does your store offer a home delivery/grocery-ordering (with store pickup) service?

52.2% Yes

Have you expanded these home delivery/grocery-ordering (with store pickup) services in the past year?

85.4% Yes

Has the home delivery/ grocery-ordering service increased produce sales?

66.7% Yes

Do you plan to add store pickup or home delivery services in the next year?

25.0% Yes




Mobile Solutions

Apps can allow consumers to find items in the store, or check out groceries without having to wait or receive a paper receipt.




Mobile technology can improve the customer experience and let shoppers make their own choices, as well as empower store and warehouse associates through enhanced operational efficiency.


Sam’s Club and other retailers are now testing augmented reality for both fun and function.

obile phones have evolved tremendously over the years, becoming a ubiquitous part of daily life. The number of shoppers who walk into your store with a smartphone far outweighs the number of those without one. With this in mind, mobile phones can be one of a grocer’s greatest tools to improve the customer experience and empower shoppers to make their own choices with a high level of confidence. The pocket devices can also help remove much of the friction in the shopping experience. From faster checkouts to augmented reality, many retailers have started embracing customer-facing smartphone technologies that combine the physical in-store experience with the advantages that an ecommerce experience offers. Some of these advancements were on display — and definitely a topic of conversation — at Groceryshop, which took place Sept. 15-18 in Las Vegas. “I think about our customer, our shopper, and we know things about her. She has less time than before; she wants convenience,” notes Sepideh Burkett, VP, store support, at Carlisle, Pa.-based Giant Food Stores. “And we know she has a cellphone. She wants full integration.”

Answering an Age-Old Question

One shopper question can never escape employees: Where do I find this? Customers have likely been wandering around the store in search of an item long before they stop an employee, and now the employee stops what they’re doing to assist. It’s a frustrating process all around. Schnuck Markets has introduced robots from San Francisco-based Simbe Robotics, named Tally, into its stores. These robots help check inventory and manage stock, but they can also improve the grocer’s mobile experience for customers. David Steck, VP of IT infrastructure and application development at St. Louis-based Schnucks, and his team can use the data from Tally in an app. “If you’re building your shopping list, we have the ability to tell the customer exactly where an item is,” Steck says. “If you’re in the store and you can’t find the item, you can search for it, and we will give you the aisle, side and shelf segment number.” As customers create their shopping lists, the app also sequences the items by location to create the easiest and smoothest shopping experience when they enter the store. Schnucks employees can also use the app. For them, it provides the shelf number in addition to the other directionals, so they can take the customer directly to an item. Steck cautions against taking store mapping to the next level of indoor GPS capabilities, although he doesn’t rule it out completely. “I’ve looked at that for a couple years, and to what result do you get? Do you really want your customers walking through the store staring at their phone and seeing their blue dot move and navigate through the store?” Steck asks. “If you look at it from an analytics

capability, then I say it’s probably worth pursuing, but I wouldn’t be upfront to the customer about it. I would collect that passively in the background.”

Improving the Checkout

One of the largest pain points in any retail experience is the line. Customers have done their shopping and are ready to check out, but they have to wait. There are a lot of potential options surfacing, from Amazon Go-style just-walk-out technology to smart carts, but one solution already being implemented at grocers uses customers’ smartphones. Sam’s Club has a tech hub in Dallas, referred to as Sam’s Club Now, where the company’s Scan & Go technology was tested before being implemented nationwide. Customers use their mobile phones to scan the barcode on products while placing them in their carts, and a receipt is tallied as they shop. “It’s a very digital experience,” says Jamie Iannone, CEO of and EVP of membership and technology at Sam’s Club, a division of Bentonville, Ark.based Walmart Inc.. “We originally built it as a standalone application so we could build it fast and learn, but now we’ve integrated it into the core experience.” On Sam’s Club’s app, customers can have their digital membership card, use Scan & Go, and get scanned out as they leave the club. There’s no need for paper, since the process is fully digital. Sam’s Club also integrated the solution of the age-old question of where to find an item into the experience. “You can say, ‘Where is the Nutella?’ and it’ll navigate you almost like you were in Google Maps to the Nutella, and it’ll automatically add it to your basket for you really easily,” Iannone says. “We’re solving one of the top questions that our members ask our associates.”

At Sam’s Club, customers can use their mobile phones to scan the barcode on products, and a receipt is tallied as they shop. PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2019



Mobile Solutions

Other grocers are also embracing similar technologies, such as Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer with its Shop & Scan solutions, and Giant Food Stores with Scan IT. Giant Food Stores, however, has taken a slightly different approach from that of Sam’s Club. “We offer handheld devices that our shopper can grab and, as they go, they can scan their items,” Burkett says. “But they can also do that with their own mobile device.” Shoppers can then pay with their mobile wallet for a completely frictionless experience, or with another form of payment. These mobile scan technologies are still evolving. Sam’s Club recently solved the issue of purchasing alcohol in accordance with individual state requirements, and is rolling out that solution now. According to Iannone, the club retailer is also working on an item recognition tool, so customers don’t have to scan the item. “It’s using AI and machine learning to figure out what’s in your cart,” he says. “It’s pretty easy to tell paper towels from soda, but it’s actually pretty hard to tell lettuce from spinach, and [our engineers] have figured that out.”

Augmenting Reality

The team at Groceryshop compiled “75 Ways Retail Will Change in the Next Decade,” and this next way of using customers’ smartphones made the list: “Augmented- and mixed-reality technologies will be used primarily for fun/experiential in-store applications, but also for navigation, promotions and product information.” Sam’s Club, among other retailers, is currently testing augmented reality for both fun and function. “Customers are looking for more information now than they ever have before,” says John Furner, CEO of Sam’s Club. “Now, with augmented reality, we help make getting the information about the product, where it came from, how it’s made, or the recipe, fun.” At Sam’s Club Now, shoppers with children can make the experience more engaging by using augmented reality in the app to turn the shopping cart into a pirate ship. Zurich, Switzerland-based technology company Scandit uses computer vision and machine learning to enhance mobile shopping apps. “We can overlay the physical world with a virtual layer of information that makes me as a consumer more empowered to make the right decision at the right time,” says Samuel Mueller, co-founder and CEO of Scandit. Customers can use the quick-scanning technology to find out whatever information is provided by the retailer, online databases, and more. Wine ratings appear when a specific bottle comes into focus, foods are given a green or red color depending on whether a certain allergen — noted by the customer — appears in them, special savings pop up over the shelf tag, and more. Scandit’s quick-scanning technology enables special savings to pop up over the shelf tag when it’s scanned with a mobile phone.


Sam's Club’s app enables shoppers to find items anywhere in the club, through a navigation process likened to Google Maps.

Scandit also provides self-scanning and self-checkout technologies, ID verification and rewards programs, to name just a few of its offerings. One key component of all of these mobile apps is the data collected and the ability for retailers to use this data to provide a more personalized experience for shoppers. From tailored recommendations and rewards, to an acknowledgement of how long they’ve been loyal to your store, customers enjoy feeling like they matter. “Based on the membership model [of Sam’s Club], we have 100% perfect information about everything we’ve done online or in the club, and not only that, but they know that we have perfect information,” Iannone says. “That gives us the freedom to do some really magical things for our customers.” Operational efficiency both in the front of the store, as well as in the warehouse, is one aspect of all of these mobile technologies that can’t be overlooked. In addition to empowering customers, these technologies can empower employees. “We channel these technologies to either elevate customer experience — so make the process much more engaging, simpler and more empowered — or to improve operational efficiency,” Scandit’s Mueller says. Grocers are using many of these same technologies in tandem with other consumer-grade tools to help store employees do their jobs better, and with that, the possibilities of smartphones at retail continue to progress.

Customers are looking for more information now than they ever have before. Now, with augmented reality, we help make getting the information about the product, where it came from, how it’s made, or the recipe, fun.” —John Furner, Sam’s Club

Check Your Shelf Before You Wreck Your Shelf.

John Rep


e’s an old fella, but he’s still got a lot of life in him,” says 28-year-old Michelle Williams, referring to her 10-year-old pit bull mix, Blue. Although relatively healthy for his advanced age, Blue still needs more frequent veterinary care and medication for his kidney issues. A receptionist at an Austin, Texas, veterinarian’s office, where she sees senior animals every day as part of her job, as well as owning one, Williams also depends on specially formulated dog food and supplements to keep Blue healthy. “I just want his golden years to really be golden, you know?” she adds. According to the Kansas City, Mo.-based North American Pet Health Insurance Association, more than 60 percent of households own a pet, and today’s pets are living longer than ever. Their higher longevity stems from a number of contributing factors, among them the increased personification of pets by their humans.

“The pet-and-owner relationship has evolved over the years, and pets have truly become part of our families,” asserts Joe Toscano, VP of trade and industry development at St. Louis-based Nestlé Purina PetCare Co., which offers both Purina One Smartblend Vibrant Maturity and Purina One Vibrant Maturity cat food for senior pets. “As such, there is a better-for-you trend in our country today, where owners not only want better-for-you items for themselves, but also better for their pets. “Pet care is currently ranked eighth out of 305 supermarket categories by IRI InfoScan, and it’s growing two times that of the overall center store, according to Nielsen Scantrack data,” adds Toscano. “Pet care also has the potential to boost total store traffic, triggering more trips than any other category, according to a Nielsen shopper study. It’s an anchor to center store, as the No. 2 reason consumers leave the house to go to the store, and it’s shopped by 75% of U.S. households.” “As more people view their pet’s health as equal to their own, the more conscious they become with their pet-related purchasing habits, from the food and treats they buy to fitness trackers, grooming products, and more,” notes Chanda Leary-Coutu, director of consumer experience for Tewksbury, Mass.-

Key Takeaways Pets’ longer lives are attributable in part to the rising trend of personification by their human owners. Senior pets have unique health problems that younger animals don’t experience, requiring specially formulated products. Education, product placement and variety are important factors in creating a winning senior pet section.


based Wellness Natural Pet Food, which has a number of options under the Wellness Complete Health Senior brand, including a version for small dogs and a paté option. “We see pet parents proactively seeking recipes that contain natural, wholesome ingredients — similar to the natural foods they seek out in their own diets — which often command a higher price point for better ingredients, and real, wholesome meat compared to alternatives that are often comprised of fillers like meat byproduct, corn or soy.” “Pets are part of the family, and pet owners want to ensure that their dog or cat has the best life possible,” observes Tom Baldwin, VP sales planning and category for Franklin, Tenn.-based Mars Petcare North America, whose robust senior lineup includes Iams Protective Health Mature Adult, Nutro Wholesome Essentials and Royal Canin Indoor 7+ Dry Cat Food. “Whether that’s ensuring they get proper nutrition and veterinary care, or hiring a dog walker to keep their dog active during the workday, pet owners want their dogs and cats to get the most out of each and every day.” Adds Baldwin: “These consumers are looking for products that are specifically designed for senior pets. That’s why it is important that pet owners feel knowledgeable and comfortable about the food they’re feeding their pets.”

Senior Pet Health

Like humans, the needs of animals change as they age. Senior pets have unique health problems that younger animals don’t experience. “Our scientists have been studying aging in pets for more than a decade and discovered that nutrition can positively impact canine cognitive health and feline longevity,” says Purina’s Toscano. “According to the experts, cats and dogs both begin to experience changes around age 7. For dogs, the glucose metabolism in the brain begins to change, which can affect memory, learning, awareness or decisionmaking. For cats, their bodies begin to change, affecting the immune and digestive systems, as well as body weight and skin condition.” Metabolism and brain function aren’t the only things that change in senior pets, though. “Consumers are not only focusing on pet food, they are working to implement healthy habits such as feeding their dog a daily dental chew, or protein-packed mixers made with raw protein ingredients and farm-grown produce,” explains Wellness’ Leary-Coutu. “Functional treating is a fast-growing category. What’s driving this? A mindset shift. Pet parents are asking themselves, ‘I clean my teeth each day; why shouldn’t I clean my dog’s?’” In answer to this hypothetical question, Wellness launched a dental treat product, Whimzees Daily Use Packs, to help pet owners care for their aging pets' teeth, a particular concern for senior pets. According to Leary-Coutu, periodontal disease is the most common disease in adult dogs. “It affects over 87% of dogs over 3 years of age,” she points out. “Whimzees, a non-GMO Project Verified brand of ours, are specifically engineered for the way dogs chew, and equipped with innovative grooves and ridges to help remove plaque and tartar. And because they are two times more effective at reducing plaque and boast a three-times-longer chewing time than leading competitors, pet parents won’t need any convincing to reach into the treat bag seven days a week.” In terms of audience, senior pet products will appeal to any pet owner who’s aware of the health needs of their animal. “Pet parents

Pet parents who are actively having conversations with their veterinarians about the needs of their aging pet will likely be the main audience for senior pet food.” —Chandra Leary-Coutu, Wellness Natural Pet Food

who are actively having conversations with their veterinarians about the needs of their aging pet will likely be the main audience for senior pet food,” says Leary-Coutu. “Because they are aware of their pet’s nutritional needs and changing habits, they understand the importance of feeding pets the correct nutrients, vitamins and minerals to support their current life stage.”

Educating the Consumer

It’s said that location is everything, and there are few situations that test this theory as well as a retail store’s shelves. But one challenge that retail grocers will have when selling these products is that many consumers may not know that such items exist. That being the case, there may have to be a bit of awareness building on the part of the retailer. Leary-Coutu suggests a two-pronged approach of education and product placement. “If retailers are educated on the importance of feeding pets food correlating with their age and activity level, they can convey these benefits to customers,” she notes. “We encourage pet parents to have a discussion with their veterinarian first to assess what added nutrition would benefit their pet, and then have a conversation with an informed retailer to point them in the right direction. Product placement is another way for customers to become aware of senior pet offerings. Displaying these products in the front of the store will certainly help catch the eyes of shoppers and make an impression.” “With any targeted pet food, there is a consumer education opportunity, and this is especially important when it comes to promoting foods targeted for senior pets,” advises Toscano. “According to a 2019 Senior Dog Owner Survey by Purina One, most dog owners are unaware that at age 7 their dog is considered a senior. That fact tends to creep up on dog owners, but it is important information to know. As dogs and cats age, their needs change, which makes it a good time to consider a diet that helps keep them healthy in their senior years. So there should be educational information included in any in-store and out-of-store promotions of senior pet foods.” Mars’ Baldwin also stresses consumer education. “One way to do this is to include information near the product display that shows how and why the product meets the unique needs of a senior pet,” he suggests. PROGRESSIVE GROCER October 2019


“This ensures a consumer is armed with the information and reassurance they need to know it’s the right product for them.”

Variety on the Shelves

Product variety is also important to selling senior pet products. As Leary-Coutu puts it: “Retailers will always want to offer the best variety for customers in an effort to beat out competitors — so the more products, the better. A store that has ample options for senior pets will often be the one that consumers shop at, especially if other stores don’t have as diverse of an offering. For consumers, the opportunity to have options is beneficial — this gives them the ability to compare and contrast products, and ultimately choose the right one for them.” Toscano agrees that choosing the right assortment is important. “Stocking the right mix of product enhances a retailer’s chance of converting a shopper into a buyer,” he says. “In many cases, these tailored diets [like those for seniors] can be more expensive on a price per pound, thus offering the retailer an opportunity to increase sales and profits.” Don’t overwhelm customers in the quest for shelf variety, though. “With so many products on the shelf, it can be difficult for pet owners to know which food to choose,” cautions Baldwin. “It can be an overwhelming choice, but it’s an important one, because giving your pet the proper nutrition helps fuel a healthy and active life.”

As dogs and cats age, their needs change, which makes it a good time to consider a diet that helps keep them healthy in their senior years.” —Joe Toscano, Nestlé Purina PetCare Co.

Instead, consider displaying senior products together, as opposed to grouping them by brand. This will make them stand out on the shelves.

Display Merchandisers



UNITED STATES MARKETS • Convenience • Grocery/Drug/Mass Store Brands • Specialty Gourmet Technology • Hospitality • Apparel CANADIAN MARKETS • Convenience • Pharmacy • Foodservice

Atkins Nutritionals Inc.


Blount Fine Foods

Inside Front Cover-3

Clarion Events


Consorzio Tutela Del Formaggio Grana Padano


Creekstone Farms



8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 773-992-4450 Fax: 773-992-4455 PROGRESSIVE GROCER (ISSN 0033-0787, USPS 920-600) is published monthly by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Single copy price $20, except selected special issues. Foreign single copy price $85, except selected special issues. Subscription: $125 a year; Canada $190 (Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40031729. Foreign $270 (call for air mail rates). Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL 60631 and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: Send all address changes to brand, PO Box 3200 Northbrook IL 60065-3200. Copyright ©2019 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.

Outside Back Cover

Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc.


Dole F52-53 Fibre Box Association


Forte Products


General Mills Marketing, Inc.


Goya Foods Inc.


Hallmark Cards, Inc.


Heineken USA Inc.


Jack Link’s Beef Jerky


Kellogg Company


Kinsella Media


Limoneira F66 Litehouse 11 Mars Wrigley Confectionary


Marukan Vinegar (U.S.A.) Inc.


MasonWays Indestructible Plastics


Movista 85 Naturipe Farms LLC

F55, 75

Peri & Sons


Private Label Manufacturers Association Sealed Air Corporation

67 42-43

Supervalu Inc.


The Coca-Cola Company


The Holiday Gift Check Program


The J.M. Smucker Company


Thermal Technologies Inc.


The Wonderful Company/Fiji Water


Trion Industries Uniweb Inc.

14-15 Inside Back Cover

UPEMI 40 V & V Supremo




Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Bolder Bacon

Sigma U.S. has teamed with McCormick Grill Mates on a line of McCormick Grill Mates Marinated Bacon, featuring four varieties enhanced by the spice and condiment manufacturer’s Grill Mates marinades and seasonings. In a unique three-step process, the pork is marinated to absorb flavor, smoked with natural hardwood smoke, sliced thick and finally seasoned. The varieties are Ultimate Bacon, marinated and seasoned with extra bacon flavor; Montreal Steak, a robust blend of pepper, garlic and spices; Smoky Applewood, a sweet, smoky combination of chili pepper, garlic and applewood smoke flavor; and Brown Sugar Bourbon, a blend of sweet brown sugar, bourbon, red bell peppers and spices. Aside from being consumed at breakfast, recommended uses include as a burger topping, as a garnish to a Bloody Mary, and as an ingredient in mac and cheese, baked beans, and potato salad. A 16-ounce package of any variety retails for a suggested $6.99, although pricing is subject to market values. The bacon is part of a line of Sigma U.S. and McCormick Grill Mates-seasoned products, which also includes beef franks and smoked sausage.

Full Steam Ahead

Take Your Veggies to Work

Inspired by the growing desire among Millennials to incorporate more produce during lunch, Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. has introduced the Better Break convenience line to provide busy consumers with on-the-go prepared meals. Based on fresh vegetables and containing 130 calories or under per serving, the microwaveable meals are ready in just three minutes. The chef-inspired varieties, offering 4 grams of protein per serving, are Spicy Pomodoro, made with kohlrabi linguine and chunky, spicy chipotle pepper tomato sauce; Zesty Green Chile, with kohlrabi, cauliflower, kale, chickpea and bell peppers tossed in a tangy green chile sauce; and Summer Corn, with cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, kale, and corn sauce with roasted corn and bell pepper. A 7-ounce heat-and-eat, microwave-safe, BPA-free bowl retails for a suggested $3.99.

The latest addition to the B&G Foods brand’s Veggie SwapIns line, Green Giant Simply Steam Riced Veggies offers a variety of frozen, seasoned riced vegetables with a cauliflower base in small microwavable pouches suitable for a snack, side dish or meal. Green Giant’s first foray into the seasoned riced vegetable marketplace, the convenient product is available in four SKUs — Riced Cauliflower Casserole, Riced Cauliflower with Broccoli Florets & Cheese Sauce, Riced Cauliflower Italian Style, and Riced Cauliflower & Cheese Sauce — each containing from 40 to 120 calories per serving. Containing no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, the item retails for a suggested $1.99 per 7-ounce package.;

Sugar Busters

Developed at the Food for Health Science Center at Sweden’s Lund University, and brought to the United States by Good Idea Inc., a California subsidiary of Swedish food and biotech company Aventure AB, the Good Idea Drinks line offers an attractive alternative to sugary sodas by actively helping the body handle the carbs and sugar from ordinary meals. The sparkling beverage enables consumers to stay energized without adding calories as they avoid post-meal crashes and sugar cravings. Containing a unique blend of five amino acids, Good Idea is the only mealtime beverage on the U.S. market that contains a significant amount of the essential mineral chromium, which has been clinically proved to reduce the blood sugar response after a meal. The all-natural, zero-sugar, zero-sweetener, zero-calorie and zero-caffeine product line comes in Lemon-Lime, Orange-Mango and Dragon Fruit flavors, with a 12-ounce can retailing for a suggested $2.69.


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Uniweb Panels will NEVER RIP OR TEAR!! Install and Use: Simply attach the appropriate brackets, and then insert the panel into the existing upright system. Hooks fit in without tilting and slide horizontally, allowing merchandising directly under shelves or flexibility in adjusting product without disturbing products.

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