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Annual Grocery Tech Study: The Race for Competitive Advantage

VALUE PROPOSITION Pre-seasoned meats deliver on needs for mealtime solutions MERRY MOVES Mobile merchandisers and displays help grocers own the holidays IT’S A NEW DAY Emerging events bring more occasions for greeting cards

Stew Leonard’s VP Jake Tavello is among our 25 GenNext Award honorees

November 2019

Volume 98, Number 11 www.progressivegrocer.com


LET’S

GROW TOGETHER At The J.M. Smucker Company, we’re focused on driving long-term growth by providing brands and products your shoppers love. With the #1 brands in multiple categories, as well as emerging, on-trend brands, our portfolio can help you earn more smiles in more aisles — and enhance your profitability. Contact your J.M. Smucker Company rep to stock the right products and boost your bottom line.

Keurig, K-Cup, and the K logo are trademarks of Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., used with permission. © 2019. DD IP Holder LLC (as to Dunkin’, Dunkin’ Donuts and all other trademarks, logos and trade dress of DD IP Holder LLC) used under license. ©/TM/® The J.M. Smucker Company


organically grown and farmer owned Our brand is about more than just chicken Every package features a Farm ID, connecting consumers directly to family farmers

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Animals are raised humanely with an organic diet and no antibiotics ever

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ready for winter?

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www.curaleafhemp.com These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


Contents 11.19

Volume 98 Issue 11

2019 GenNext Award Honoree

Amy McClellan SVP, Martin’s Super Markets; Division VP, Retail, SpartanNash

Age 39

Features

20 PROGRESSIVE GROCER ’S 2019 GENNEXT AWARDS

Who’s Next

Our current crop of industry standouts under the age of 40 includes those new to grocery, as well as those raised in the business.

Departments 8 EDITOR’S NOTE

Workplace 2020

12

35 2019 GROCERY TECH TRENDS STUDY

Race for Competitive Advantage

Leading grocers step on the gas to deploy technologies that competitors will hard find to match if they fall behind.

35 10 IN-STORE EVENTS CALENDAR

January 2020 12 MENU TRENDS

Take That, Kale: Comfort Foods are Trending 14 NIELSEN’S SHELF STOPPERS

Baking Supplies

16 MINTEL GLOBAL NEW PRODUCTS

Fish, Meat and Poultry 18 ALL’S WELLNESS

Healthy Choices in Center Store 80 EDITORS’ PICKS FOR INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS

PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

5


Contents 11.19

Volume 98 Issue 11

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

www.ensembleiq.com

46 TOTAL MEAL SOLUTIONS GROCERY GROUP PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672 jschrei@ensembleiq.com

Ask a Chef

The masterminds behind Zoup discuss how soup, that perennial cold-weather staple, can address smoking-hot dining trends. 48 FRESH FOOD

The New Meat Revolution

GROCERY GROUP EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Mike Troy 813-857-6512 mtroy@ensembleiq.com EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR James Dudlicek 224-632-8238 jdudlicek@ensembleiq.com

48

MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603 bgoldschmidt@ensembleiq.com SENIOR EDITOR Gina Acosta 813-417-4149 gacosta@ensembleiq.com SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Abby Kleckler 773-992-4405 akleckler@ensembleiq.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS D. Gail Fleenor, Kathy Hayden, Bob Ingram, Jenny McTaggart and Barbara Sax

For all the buzz about plantbased products, the real opportunity for grocers lies in value-added meats.

ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Maggie Kaeppel (NEW ENGLAND, SOUTHEAST) 708-565-5350 mkaeppel@ensembleiq.com

54 FRESH FOOD

SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Judy Hayes (CA, PACIFIC NORTHWEST) 925-785-9665 jhayes@ensembleiq.com

The Original Ugly Produce

SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Theresa Kossack (MIDWEST) 214-226-6468 tkossack@ensembleiq.com REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Tammy Rokowski (SOUTHWEST) 248-514-9500 trokowski@ensembleiq.com

Winter root vegetables equal sales success.

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ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373 tkanganis@ensembleiq.com CLASSIFIED PRODUCTION MANAGER Mary Beth Medley 856-809-0050 marybeth@marybethmedley.com EVENTS VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS Michael Cronin mcronin@ensembleiq.com MARKETING MARKETING MANAGER Carly Kilgore 201-855-7601 ckilgore@ensembleiq.com

62 TECHNOLOGY

Tech Takes on Health and Wellness

AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Elizabeth Jackson 847-492-1350, ext. 318 ejackson@meritdirect.com

Grocers feel the responsibility to cater to shoppers’ specific dietary needs or preferences

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES/SINGLE-COPY PURCHASES 847-564-1468 or email at PG@Omeda.com

66 SUPPLY CHAIN

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Colette Magliaro cmagliaro@ensembleiq.com

A Seat at the Table

ADVERTISING/PRODUCTION MANAGER Jackie Batson 224-632-8183 jbatson@ensembleiq.com

Grocers that get involved at their local and state levels can have a voice in important supply chain issues.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTION Derek Estey destey@ensembleiq.com

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ART DIRECTOR Bill Antkowiak bantkowiak@ensembleiq.com REPRINTS, PERMISSIONS AND LICENSING Wright’s Media ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com 877-652-5295

69 EQUIPMENT & DESIGN

Wheels and Deals

CORPORATE OFFICERS

Mobile merchandisers and display equipment can make for happier retail holidays.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Jennifer Litterick CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Dan McCarthy CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER Tanner Van Dusen CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER Ann Jadown EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS & CONFERENCES Ed Several

74 NONFOODS

There’s a Card for That Recently recognized occasions require a new wave of acknowledgements.

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key ingredients to big holiday sales! During the holidays, we’ll be serving up our best seasonal recipes and entertaining tips on our website and sprinkled across social media. With all that inspiration, your customers will be reaching for Treasure Cave® Cheese even more. So get ready to deliver!

Take a look at TreasureCaveCheese.com © 2019 Saputo Cheese USA Inc. All rights reserved. Treasure Cave® is a registered trademark owned by Saputo Cheese USA Inc.


EDITOR’S NOTE By Jim Dudlicek

Workplace 2020 alent — the leadership that’s going to take our industry forward — continues to be a top concern of grocery executives, so making the industry an attractive and fulfilling place to work must be a top priority. And it’s no secret that what constitutes “attractive and fulfilling” for the next generation of leaders differs in many ways from their predecessors. Salary, they tell us, isn’t necessarily the deciding factor for Millennials and Gen Zs. Cathy Burns, CEO of the Produce Marketing Association, in her state-of-the-industry address at PMA’s recent annual Fresh Summit, cited research indicating that 70% of emerging leaders say they’re more likely to stay with a company that’s serious about sustainability. And 10% would accept up to $10,000 less in annual salary to work for a company with a better sustainability record. Gen Zs also are upwardly mobile, with opportunities for personal growth a top concern when entering the workforce. In fact, 76% expect a promotion within two years of starting a job, Burns noted. Talent among emerging leaders is certainly not in short supply in this industry, as evidenced by the nominations we received for our second annual GenNext Awards program. The program is open to those under age 40, and this year six of our 25 winners are age 30 or younger. The accomplishments of our winners in their 20s are impressive, to say the least. Our youngest honoree, at age 25, is Daniel Papaleo, manager of corporate demand planning at C&S Wholesale Grocers; leading a team of nine, he works with independent retailers across the entire country. At age 29, Tenia Wallace is COO of Decorworx, a multimillion-dollar grocery store decor company with more than 60 employees. And 26-year-old Floyd Walton, as Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division produce merchandiser, is leading initiatives that are growing annual sales for the retailer by millions of dollars. And the list goes on. The talent, drive and dedication of these individuals — whose accomplishments are covered in greater detail starting on page 20 — are exactly what our industry needs to propel it forward. Perhaps more importantly, these leaders better reflect the youthful, increasingly diverse consumer base for whose dollars retailers of all types are competing, in both the brick-and8 progressivegrocer.com

mortar and digital realms. What will the workplace need to look like to keep all of this new talent on board and fulfilled? The career website Ladders (theladders.com) talked with several executives who shared their visions for the workplace in 2020, including a bigger focus on the environment at the office (reflecting a growing number of grocery consumers), integrated well-being and whole-health programs, cross-functional collaboration, personal development, value-centered leadership, and expanding cultural diversity. To succeed and thrive in 2020 and beyond, retailers will need to reflect, inside and out, the changing times in which they operate and the evolving communities that they aim to serve. Our GenNext winners are ready to move your business forward.

Emerging leaders reflect the increasingly diverse consumer base for whose dollars retailers are competing, in both the brick-andmortar and digital realms.

Jim Dudlicek Editorial Director jdudlicek@ensembleIQ.com Twitter @jimdudlicek


The making a difference experts We’re a company dedicated to doing the right thing — for our customers and our more than 41,000 team members. We’re committed to ensuring our workplace is as safe as the beef and pork products we produce. Because if it has our name on it, it means something to us. TheBeefAndPorkExperts.com

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IN-STORE EVENTS

Calendar

01.20

National Hot Tea Month National Oatmeal Month National Slow Cooking Month

National Soup Month National Baking Month National Fat-Free Living Month

S M T W T F S

1

New Year’s Day Not so coincidently, it’s also National Hangover Day.

5

National Whipped Cream Day

6

National Bean Day

7

Three Kings Day. Have the right ingredients on hand so Latin shoppers can celebrate in style.

8

Elvis Presley’s Birthday National English Toffee Day

2

3

4

9

10

11

National Buffet Day. Promote your prepared food department as an easy meal solution for customers still recovering from the holidays.

National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Give those who protect and serve a discount.

National ChocolateCovered Cherry Day

National Houseplant Appreciation Day. Offer a special on potting soil and watering cans.

National Spaghetti Day. Run a contest to find out how shoppers like to eat it best.

National Hot Toddy Day National Milk Day

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13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

29

30

31

National Glazed Doughnut Day

National Popcorn Day

National GlutenFree Day is the perfect occasion to showcase your products in this category.

National Cheese Lover’s Day

National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day National Banana Bread Day

26

National Peanut Brittle Day. Which is best: homemade or store-bought? Let your shoppers decide.

10

27

National Chocolate Cake Day

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28

National Blueberry Pancake Day

National Bagel Day. Encourage the consumption of this favorite nosh as a snack and lunchtime option as well as for breakfast.

National Blonde Brownie Day, or, as we prefer to call them, blondies.

National Corn Chip Day

National Fig Newton Day

National Pie Day

National Croissant Day. Entice shoppers to the bakery to pick up this classic French pastry in a range of flavors.

National Hot Buttered Rum Day

National Peanut Butter Day. Ask for customers’ favorite PBJ recipes on social media.

National Hot Chocolate Day

National Gourmet Coffee Day. Upsell your shoppers to the really good stuff.

National Irish Coffee Day


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E

ntry and mid-level women are leaving our industry at nearly twice the rate of men — senior-level women are leaving at nearly four times the rate of men.* NEW provides solutions that retain and develop great women leaders. Our learning programs, career development, conferences and local events help tens of thousands of women advance each year. Our insights, best practices and advocacy help transform organizations and create a better industry workplace for all. Join our movement today at newonline.org. * Download our report

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MENU TRENDS

Research & Analysis

Take That, Kale: Comfort Foods are Trending Summer salads start to take a back seat to warmer, heartier fare this time of year. Comfort foods are growing even without the seasonal assist, however. Classics such as mac and cheese and fried chicken are trending upward in restaurants — and probably already have a place in your deli or fresh food menu. There are other opportunities, though, to offer your customers a taste of home from Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle that you might not have thought about.

Etouffee MAC stage: Inception — Ethnic markets, ethnic independents, and fine dining. Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation and presentation. This spicy Cajun and Creole stew is traditionally made with shellfish (often crawfish) and vegetables, and served over rice. It’s growing beyond its Southern roots, but is still a mainstay in Louisiana and Texas. The key to a great etouffee is the roux — which can be blond or brown, and contains various spices dependent upon the chef or region.

Pimento Cheese MAC stage: Adoption — Ethnic aisle at supermarkets, casual independents, fast casual. Adoption-stage trends grow their base via lower price points and simpler prep methods. Still differentiated, these trends often feature premium and/or generally authentic ingredients. This delicious cheese spread is made with mayonnaise and pimento peppers, and spiked with black pepper, onion, hot sauce, jalapeños, paprika and other spices. It’s often spread on crackers, chips or vegetables, but can also be a sandwich filling or topping.

Fried Pickles MAC stage: Proliferation — Proliferation-stage trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal. Often combined with popular applications (on a burger, pasta, etc.). What makes a dill pickle slice better, you ask? Coating it in batter, deep-frying it, and then dipping it in ranch dressing isn’t a bad start. These scrumptious bites are usually served as an appetizer, but can also be used as a sandwich topping. On 7% of U.S. restaurant menus Up 16% over the past four years

12

On 1.3% of U.S. restaurant menus

On 3.9% of U.S. restaurant menus

Up 15% on menus over the past four years

Up 55% on menus over the past four years

31% of consumers know it/ 15% have tried it

68% of consumers know it/ 40% have tried it

Menu Example Luby’s Half & Half Shrimp Combo Six golden-brown fried shrimp paired with six savory etouffee shrimp, served with your choice of white or dirty rice, a side, or bread.

Menu Example Ruby Tuesday Cheesy Crunch Burger Topped with melty pimento cheese, bacon pieces and fried onion rings all drizzled with sriracha ranch. Served with fries or tots.

progressivegrocer.com

Biscuits & Gravy 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.

74% of consumers know it/ 38% have tried it Menu Example White Castle Fried Pickles Crunchy pickle slices coated in a blend of seasoned panko breading and fried to a golden crisp.

This popular Midwestern breakfast dish is made with fluffy biscuits topped with a thick meat or sawmill gravy. It’s most often seasoned with pepper, but also can showcase herbs such as rosemary. On 5.5% of U.S. menus Up 20% over the past four years 92% of consumers know it/ 73% have tried it Menu Example Macaroni Grill Italian Biscuits and Gravy House-baked rosemary cheddar biscuits topped with creamy Italian sausage gravy, parmesan and fresh parsley.


FRONT END

Shelf Stoppers

Shelf Stoppers

Frozen Vegetables TOTAL FROZEN VEGETABLE SALES REACHED $2.97 BILLION IN THE PAST YEAR

(52 weeks ending April 2, 2016) Baking Supplies

Basket Facts

Total Department Performance Latest 52 Wks W/E 06/15/19

Baking Staples

$4,576,612,158

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 06/16/18

Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 06/17/17

$4,496,017,666

$4,521,494,101

on various baking products?

Top Baking Supplies by Dollar Sales Nuts

Flour and Meal

Baking Chips

Pie Filling

How much

Consumers chose are Americans frozen broccoli over alternativesper for trip spending a variety of reasons:

Evaporated Milk

12%

because it’s The average quick andAmerican easy

$1,000,000,000

household spends:

800,000,000

10%

because it tastes great

600,000,000

400,000,000

Spotlight on Frozen Broccoli WHEN ARE CONSUMERS EATING FROZEN BROCCOLI?

200,000,000

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

0 Latest 52 Wks W/E 06/15/19

9%

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 06/16/18

Frozen broccoli is most often used in a side dish, followed by as a main entrée. 3% Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 06/17/17

9%

because it’s healthy and nutritious

$18.84 per trip on Nuts 8%

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 (DeCA)

OCCASION MEAL ITEM Period: Latest 52 weeks, week ending Aug. 24, 2019 - top five categories 29% TYPE CLASS 62% 61% Source: Nielsen Retail Measurement Services, inclusive of Nielsen’s Total Food View 35%

Baking products have seen quite the turnaround over the last three years. In fact, the category is now experiencing a return to growth across the United States, up DINNER LUNCH OTHER SIDE DISH MAIN ENTRÉE OTHER 1.8% in dollars sales compared to a year ago. This is largely thanks to the strong performance of flour and meal products, which drove $930 million in sales, and are growing at an impressive 5.2% compared to last year. Flour has become an important staple to the growing number of home bakers and cooks in America. Inspired by digital content and social networking, there’s both health and personal identity infused in making and sharing homemade delicacies today. Overall, baking products are seeing an impressive rebound in recent years, and this is poised to continue as the desire for personalization in baking grows.”

$9.31 per trip on Flour and Meal

—Lauren Fernandes, Manager-Strategy and Analytics, Nielsen

Generational Snapshot Which cohort is spending the most, on average, per trip on flour and meal?

$7.06 per trip on Pie Filling

Millennials

Gen Xers

Boomers

The Greatest Generation

$3.87

$3.74

$3.46

$3.18

Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Aug. 24, 2019

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Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Aug. 24, 2019


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ALL’S WELLNESS By Molly Hembree

Healthy Choices in Center Store MAKE SURE YOU LOOK BE YOND THE PERIME TER SECTIONS IN PROMOTING NUTRITIONAL ME AL SOLUTIONS FOR SHOPPERS. phrase that makes dietitians cringe is “only shop the perimeter of the store for healthy food.” This thinking is flawed, because although produce is on the outskirts of grocery stores, so are treats like desserts, alcohol and high-fat meats. Instead, the middle of the store often comes with the promise of shelf-stable, innovative, cost-effective and nutritious products to fill customers’ plates. Motivations for purchasing food from center store are convenience and routine, as The NPD Group noted in 2019. Shoppers turn to middle aisles to gather staples for families, basic ingredients for recipes, and products they can rely on when life moves in fast-forward. Expanding the selection of wholesome foods in the center of the store, beginning with these five sections, can be an opportunity for grocers to boost sales while enticing health-conscious consumers.

UP at Kroger, Guiding Stars at Hannaford or NuVal at Coborn’s, along with in-store support from your dietitian team.

Dry Grains

Grains are central to more meals than we realize, even in the age of Paleo, Whole30 and ketogenic diets. Rice, pasta or bread products are found in nearly every basket, and shoppers are seeking out more fiber-filled whole grains than ever: Whole grain intake as a proportion of total grain intake rose 26% from 2005-06 to 201516, according to recent research from the National Center for Health Statistics. Meanwhile high-protein pastas crafted from legumes are stirring up excitement among the growing number of flexitarians and the influential Millennial demographic. In fact, 34% of adults claim that they consume plant-based proteins at least once a day, the International Food Information Council Foundation found this year.

Cereal Aisle

Although the nutritional quality of the food that you eat habitually throughout the day is the best marker of a healthy diet, we still can’t argue with the idea that breakfast just might be the most important meal of the day. Starting it off with dietitian-approved basics like plain oatmeal, reduced-sugar cereal or ancient grain granola can make a positive impact on energy, satiety and even blood sugar. Make cereals flashy with creative applications like overnight oats, trail mix, “puppy chow” or yogurt parfaits that can be mentioned on store signage and tear-off pads, or within your retailer’s mobile app.

Canned Goods

Convenience continues to drive sales. Loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, canned foods like fruits, vegetables and beans are making a welcome comeback. Particularly during cooler months, canned pumpkin imparts fall flavor to homemade dishes, while canned tomatoes provide the most preferred source of a healthful compound called lycopene, and versatile products like cannellini beans can be easily puréed and mixed into sauces. Task your culinary experts to use affordable canned foods as the basis of new recipe concepts for demos.

Nutrition Bars

The ultimate testament to simplicity, nutrition bars continue to gain momentum in center store. Snack and cereal bars account for the largest share of the category, as shoppers tote these in bags to and from work, or as a pick-me-up during an afternoon slump. Protein bars garner attention from physically active consumers looking for a way to refuel. Clear up confusion for shoppers regarding which bar best suits their needs by using your retailer’s nutritional scoring program, such as Opt-

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Snacks

The snack section can be a mecca for healthful grab-and-go choices that don’t spoil quickly. At $42.1 billion in annual sales, according to the Food Marketing Institute, solid snacking options are crucial to the success of retail store operations. Shoppers want unique takes on old favorites like crackers, nuts, rice cakes, popcorn and dried fruit. Showcase specialty snacks like bourbon-roasted cashews, ranch-flavored rice cakes or probiotic prunes in sampling programs or social media messaging.

Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian coordinator for The Little Clinic and Kroger.


Some products take up space. Yakult Probiotic Drinks take up sales.

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10.0% 16.4% 14.5%

2009-2019 12.3% 15.7% 12.3%

Following explosive product growth over the past decade in the Western U.S., the brand is expanding into the East Coast market.

8.2%

29.6% 20.2%

With 40 million bottles consumed every day in 39 countries and regions, Yakult is one of the highest dollar contributors per point of distribution (IRI).

16.8%

41.3%

Contact us at 714-434-6500 to make Yakult a vital part of your healthy product offering today.

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Source: Yakult USA

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MINTEL CATEGORY INSIGHTS

Global New Products Database

Fish, Meat and Poultry

FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.MINTEL.COM OR CALL 800-932-0400

What Does It Mean? The fish and shellfish category has some shortcomings that set it behind the pace of other, more commonly and frequently consumed proteins. Consumers need a reminder of the important everyday role that fish and shellfish play in a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Market Overview

The fish and shellfish category enjoys strong overall consumer participation (86%); with increasing interest in healthy, high-protein foods, coupled with inflated commodity prices, Mintel predicts the market to grow by 15% over the next five years. The red meat category reached $47 billion in sales in 2018, hitting marginal gains of 3% from 2017. With average sales increases of 2% each year in 2013-18, growth in the poultry category has remained modest, perhaps as a consequence of its dominance.

Key Issues

Fish and shellfish fall behind other proteins in consumption frequency, in particular, weekly consumption. Chicken and red meat have a clearer and broader range of strengths that contribute to deeper consumer penetration and consumption frequency.

16

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Compared with other more commonly consumed proteins, consumer perception of fish and shellfish is relatively limited by use occasions; they’re often tethered to dinner, special occasions and restaurants. While participation in the fish and shellfish category is solid, consumers don’t venture too deeply into the category; more likely, they purchase shrimp, salmon and tuna. The red meat market is challenged as concerns rise over expense, health, environmental sustainability, animal husbandry and processing. Nearly a fifth of red meat consumers reported decreased consumption since 2017; among those, more than half said that it’s just too unhealthy for regular consumption. Poultry enjoys a reputation for health and versatility. Because of this, brands in the category have successfully leveraged that with products and suggestions to swap in poultry for pork or beef.

Meat manufacturers and brands need to step up communication of specific claims, and focus on disclosure of farming, sourcing and processing specifics to reassure consumers who are reducing red meat consumption due to expense, health and ethical concerns. Despite the pressures — both health and environmental — the red meat category is holding its own, and it all boils down to what consumers love about red meat: great taste and satiety. Attrition is happening, and is likely to continue. Due to poultry’s position at the top, it faces the challenge of staying there. Ways that brands can do so are by reinforcing the importance of chicken and turkey in consumers’ diets, and keeping products exciting and diverse.


©2019 Goya Foods, Inc.

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COVER STORY

2019

Awards

Our current crop of industry standouts under the age of 40 includes those new to grocery, as well as those raised in the business.

By Bridget Goldschmidt

A

fter the extraordinary honorees we presented for Progressive Grocer’s inaugural GenNext Awards in 2018, we were eager to see what this year’s slate of 175 nominees would bring, and we weren’t disappointed. The entries revealed individuals who are bringing plenty of energy and innovation to bear as they prepare to lead food retail into its next era. Two types of honorees quickly emerged among the submissions: those who are new to the grocery industry, and those who’ve grown up in the business. Among the latter, we were particularly impressed by such scions as James Buddig, of Carl Buddig and Co.; Thomas Cingari Jr., of ShopRite Grade A Markets; and Jake Tavello, of Stew Leonard’s, none of whom were content to rest on their inherited laurels, but rather, were all the more keen to prove themselves worthy of their family legacy, as well as not fearing hard work alongside their employees.

20

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Among those not involved in family businesses, there were some truly inspirational stories, among them that of Brandon Henson, of Ralphs, who, despite being on his own from the age of 16, managed to put himself through school and ultimately excel as a district floral/produce coordinator, bonding with his associates to the point where he learned Spanish so as to be able to communicate with them better. Another note: A look at the fields in which our 25 GenNext honorees are exceeding expectations provides a road map to what will shortly be on all grocery industry members’ radar: inventive plant-based products, creatively reducing food waste, stepping up sustainable practices and streamlining ecommerce, to name just a few. Their colleagues across the food business would do well to pay close attention to their younger counterparts’ ideas and practices. When it comes to adapting to the future of food retail, we can all learn something from the under-40 cohort.


COVER STORY

2019

Awards James Buddig Regional Sales Manager, Carl Buddig and Co. Age 31

I

Richard Akins Category Manager-Dairy, Harris Teeter LLC Age 35

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well-rounded associate with 19-plus years of experience at Harris Teeter, Akins, in his three years as dairy category manager, has successfully navigated top-line pricing deflation of core commodities while improving departmental practices and reducing food waste and reclaim by more $1.5 million dollars in 2018. During the past three years, the dairy industry has faced numerous challenges, including retail deflation, accelerated mergers and acquisitions, commodity pricing pressure, and consumer purchase patterns shifting away from conventional white milk. With dairy operating its own profit-and-loss statement, Akins found ways to grow sales, reduce waste and improve profitability in spite of being inexperienced in a challenging retail environment. Looking at the business through a new lens, he has taken chances on new brands, focusing on such trends as health and wellness and environmental sustainability in the dairy department. Further, Akins’ ability to teach and coach associates enables him to develop others for future opportunities and recruit successful replacements.

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n addition to his daily responsibilities as regional sales manager for 11 Midwestern states, Buddig is heavily involved in key projects and employee programs, and represents the next generation of family owners at customer, employee and trade events, as well as in public relations. Tasked with finding new avenues to sell and support a recently acquired barbecued ribs and prepared entrées business, he is leading a team to develop three platforms for hot deli prepared food innovation; this work will help lead the company to future growth, building on acquired capabilities and delivering much-needed solutions to key customers and consumers. Buddig’s passion for the industry has led him to continue to develop his meat expertise by completing a certificate for professional education in sausage and processed meat at Iowa State University. His accomplishments and active role in the company have set a high standard for other next-gen family members who have yet to join the business.

Dawn Burkett Talent Development Supervisor, Brookshire Grocery Co. Age 35

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tarting out at Brookshire Grocery Co, (BCG) as a cashier while still in high school, Burkett returned to the company after college, eventually rising to her present role, in which she assists with corporate-initiated talent development programs for BGC’s 14,000 employees. A strong proponent of professional development, Burkett has created and instructed various courses for Brookshire University, the company’s in-house education program; implemented web conferences to equip retail store trainers more frequently and without travel expenses; and worked to launch Store Director Academy, a two-day training event focused on leadership and operational skills. She also serves on the corporate Partner Council, a panel of employees who discuss and implement improvement ideas, helping to advance corporate culture through initiatives to boost employee engagement. One of her most impactful contributions, however, is BGC’s learning management system: Burkett oversees the design and distribution of interactive digital training courses on topics relevant to all employees, along with job-specific instruction.


Congratulations to our GenNext winners! Thank you for your dedication to The Kroger Co. and the communities we serve.

Emily Gibbons Vice President of Data Science 84.51°

Lynn Howitz Division Facility Engineering Manager Cincinnati/Dayton

Brandon Henson Store Manager Ralphs

Sabrina Powell Division Fuel Manager Nashville

Thomas Hocker Division Total Rewards Manager Ruler

Floyd Welton Division Produce/Floral Merchandiser Mid-Atlantic


COVER STORY

2019

Awards Jaclyn Cardin Director of Interactive, Cropp Cooperative/Organic Valley Age 36

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ddressing the changing needs of both brick-andclick and pure-play retailers, Cardin has developed a digital transformation strategy for Cropp Cooperative that will enable it to offer retail partners the most impactful content for its products on their platforms, as well as deep content they can provide to their customers on subjects relating to food, farming and healthy eating. Among her accomplishments are helping lead a national media campaign with a strong online video presence, which drove down cost per view, raised awareness and purchase intent recommendation scores by double digits, and overtook the co-op’s biggest competitor, as well as beating ROI goals by two years. Cardin also developed retailer-specific content to support highly successful promotional programs by retailers such as Jewel-Osco. Retailers’ online channels and loyalty programs allow them to engage their customers, and Cardin is determined to provide the most timely and rich content so that retailers can grow their organic and natural businesses and overall basket size.

CONGRATULATIONS, JAKE! 2019 Progressive Grocer Gen Next Award Winner From your family and all of your friends at Stew Leonard’s

Jake Tavello, V.P. of Stew Leonard’s in Paramus, N.J., with his grandfather Stew Leonard, Sr. 24

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Thomas Cingari Jr. VP, ShopRite Grade A Markets Inc. Age 34

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n and around the grocery business all of his life, Cingari is responsible for Grade A’s produce, dairy and floral departments, as well as overseeing technology, ecommerce and retail efficiencies for the company’s 11 stores. He’s one of Grade A’s champions of retailer cooperative Wakefern Food Corp.’s push for efficient retail operations, which requires challenging routines and implementing best practices throughout all departments. Cingari is also executive leader of the PURPOSE Initiative, a Wakefern-wide cultural change initiative. As well as assembling a cadre of trainers and championing the training of every Grade A associate, Cingari has mentored many high-potential employees, allowing them an up-close look at how managing a large organization works and the nuances of leading a culturally diverse workforce, while always maintaining an exceptional level of customer service. Somehow, he also finds the time to be involved with several committees within Wakefern, sharing his expertise and experiences with other owners and senior management, in addition to supporting nine local food banks.

THE SPOTLIGHT IS ON YOU

HIGHLIGHTS 2020 New: Hall 27 featuring leading global players Spotlight on sustainability across all events Your local contact: berlin@b-for.com

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#fruitlog2020


COVER STORY

2019

Awards Ian Flick Senior Manager, Fresh Demand Planning, C&S Wholesale Grocers Age 27

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Angel Cordero Store Manager, Giant Food Stores LLC Age 37

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store manager for 14 years who’s overseen high-volume, conventional, urban, discount and gourmet locations, Cordero has most recently been a part of the project team responsible for creating Giant Heirloom Market, an innovative small-format, upscale grocery store concept whose first two locations he opened as store manager. Before the openings, Cordero’s role was to curate the store assortment, lay out the merchandising, and develop the working operating model and team of partners for each store. Located in Philadelphia neighborhoods desperately in need of fresh food at an affordable price, the stores — now three in number, with a fourth still in the pipeline — are performing above expectations. The concept also represents a departure for Giant Food Stores, which had not offered anything like that previously. In a highly competitive retail landscape, differentiation is critical, and, thanks in large measure to Cordero, Giant Heirloom Markets deliver on that score.

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hrough Flick’s leadership and tireless efforts, he and his team of 10 demand forecasters have driven superior promotional performance for C&S’ customers across all fresh categories. At the same time, he’s been able to reduce food waste through better and more accurate promotional forecasting, which has led to lower leftover promotional product on a weekly basis. Innovative practices implemented by Flick have boosted the wholesaler’s overall year-over-year forecast accuracy to achieve better than “best-in-industry” standards: This year’s results include higher annual promotional service performance across the customer base and significantly lower leftover promotional product. Flick also leads corporate demand planning’s Numbers & Ideas team, which generates “the art of the possible” for the most challenging problems, using technology, employee experiences and outside expertise to give C&S’ demand forecasters a competitive advantage. By accounting for the ever-changing market dynamic, he and his team have been able to achieve strong overall demand forecasting results.

Sarah Galletti Founder, Tattooed Chef Age 32

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he original “tattooed chef” herself, Galletti launched the plant-based food and lifestyle brand in 2017 after time spent abroad, growing it over the next few years into a nationally known company with product distribution at Sam’s Club, Walmart and Costco locations across the United States. Fusing her culinary skills, Italian family roots and new experiences, the company’s products, which include cauliflower burgers, cheese pizza, pizza crust, and mac and cheese; zucchini and other veggie spirals; and açai, Buddha and sofritas bowls, are sourced using only the highest-quality, ethically sourced organic ingredients from its two facilities in California and Italy. The items’ edgy yet playful branding and clever, eye-catching design meet the skyrocketing market demand for plant-based products, and appeal to a new generation of younger, eco- and health-conscious consumers with the power to make a strong impact on the consumer packaged goods industry, as well as to a larger and more conventional audience of individuals and families interested in plant-based eating.


Emily Gibbons VP of Data Science, The Kroger Co./84.51° Division Age 33

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ibbons is responsible for supporting the growth of new ventures within Kroger, finding opportunities to leverage Kroger and strategic partner assets to create alternative revenue streams for the company. She leads the development and delivery of advanced algorithms and predictive analytics that unlock value in such new ventures areas as health care solutions, enabling the identification of, and investment in, consumer product brands. Gibbons worked across multiple Kroger business units and with external partners like Lindsay Goldberg to develop new algorithms, leading to breakthroughs that allow the systematic discovery of new brands that will delight Kroger customers and help the business achieve rapid growth. She was the driving force behind data science innovations that became critical building blocks in the formation of PearlRock Partners, an investment vehicle that identifies, invests in and helps grow the next generation of consumer product brands. Gibbons and her team are responsible for PearlRock’s evolution into one of the most massive data-driven investment vehicles focused on consumer brands today.

Brandon Greene VP Host Experience, Lowes Foods Age 36

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oining Lowes as an intern and working his way up to his present position in what is known at other companies as human resources, Greene has been a positive force for change and innovation throughout his career. Among his many improvements are developing and facilitating the company’s five-year strategy team to ensure that Lowes remains a relevant and progressive retailer; creating the Lowes Legendary Leadership program, in which future leaders are not only identified, but are also given additional opportunities to work cross-functionally and grow as leaders; and implementing in-store training that incorporates role playing, computer-based training, and “growth spurts” that outline development pathways to drive continuous improvement. Greene serves on the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) board and has been instrumental in the continued evolution of the FMI Future Leaders eXperience, his energy and leadership resulting in purpose-driven experiences for attendees from around the world. In addition to all of that, the father of two is an active member of his church’s music worship community.

Brandon Henson District Produce/Floral Coordinator, The Kroger Co./Ralphs Age 30

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verseeing 24 stores, Henson has promoted 15 associates to department leader over the past year, and was recently chosen to oversee the training of all newly promoted produce/floral department leaders for the entire division, developing his own easyto-follow materials. Taking a hands-on approach, he regularly works alongside the associates in the produce/floral departments he oversees, and, as many of the department leaders speak limited English, he even returned to school to learn Spanish so he could communicate more effectively with them. A huge proponent of education, Henson, despite having been born in poverty and living on his own since the age of 16, put himself through college while working full-time at Ralphs, earning bachelor of arts and master of education degrees, and also continued his professional development. As a result of his inspirational leadership, his district’s produce/floral identical sales have risen from near the bottom to No. 1 among all Ralphs districts.

PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

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COVER STORY

2019

Awards Thomas Hocker Total Rewards Manager, The Kroger Co./Ruler Foods Age 36

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ocker has redefined how Ruler Foods handles the recruiting/onboarding pipeline, going well beyond his normal duties to develop crucial pieces of software that automated the new-hire pipeline. He also took responsibility for rolling out and supporting this change at all Ruler stores. The end result has been to give store managers more time to spend on the sales floor with their teams and customers, and the initiative has proved so successful that it’s currently being scaled up to the Kroger Center of Recruiting Excellence. Hocker also redeveloped store training materials to better apply to small-format Ruler stores, created an interactive labor management tool that advises store managers on scheduling and wage spend, mentors a group of high-potential store managers, and came up with an interactive, electronic “Employee Life Cycle” to guide a store manager through every part of an associate’s career. Through Hocker’s work, Ruler is able to develop future leaders who can draw on various disciplines to solve grocery retail problems.

Request Foods is your co-packing partner. With 600,000 sq. ft. of cooking, blending, freezing and packing capacity, we are your one-stop resource for R&D and processing. Our team of top culinary chefs creates custom entrées, side dishes, heat ‘n’ serve portions and a whole lot more—every meal in every size. Give your retail, club store or national brand the consistent quality of Request Foods. We Make Your Brand ... Better.

3460 John F. Donnelly Dr. • Holland, Michigan 49424 • 616.786.0900 • requestfoods.com 28

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Lynn Howitz Division Facility Engineering Manager, The Kroger Co./Cincinnati Division Age 35

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ne of the select few be both a GenNext Award winner and a Top Woman in Grocery — the latter an honor that she received in 2016 — Howitz manages the division’s engineering team in minor capital, maintenance and energy programs, recently leading an organizational restructure and providing efficiencies to operations. Her guidance reduced operational costs and service repair time through collaboration, thereby enhancing the customer experience. Howitz’s leadership in creating and streamlining processes ultimately frees up capital that allows the company to continue investing in new partnerships and innovations. Additionally, passionate about eliminating hunger in Kroger’s surrounding communities, Howitz volunteers and supports the grocer’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative through endeavors such as Fuel NKU, a partnership between Kroger and Northern Kentucky University, for which she led the redesign of a first-of-its kind on-campus food pantry that not only offers healthy options for underprivileged students, but also provides them with space to network and study.

CONGRATULATIONS to our very own DAWN BURKETT GenNext Award Winner

PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

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COVER STORY

2019

Awards

Amy McClellan

Alison Nelson

SVP, Martin’s Super Markets; Division VP, Retail, SpartanNash Age 39

VP of Sales, Insignia Systems Inc. Age 33

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n accomplished executive and role model for achievement who was recognized as a Top Woman in Grocery in 2018 (also see Lynn Howitz on page 29), McClellan has led the way in the store-concept marketing and advertising innovation, personalization, digital media, and ecommerce spaces within a network of small to mid-sized grocery retailers, and she continues to lead case-study-worthy campaigns that act as a blueprint for other retailers. Additionally, McClellan’s corporate responsibility activities — she has served on a variety of nonprofit boards and development committees — showcase the idea that a grocery chain isn’t just a business, but also a cornerstone of the community that can help raise funds and awareness for local efforts. Her drive to innovate with grocery technology highlights the fact that even a small chain with a small budget can change and grow to speak to customers effectively and continue to drive sales in a world of Amazon and meal kits.

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ith a diverse background in shopper marketing, category management and sales, Nelson came to Insignia Systems equipped to bring a well-rounded perspective to clients. Taking a consultative approach, she first seeks to understand her CPG clients’ brand challenges and objectives, and then tailors a solution that addresses their needs. For example, in a campaign for Unilever novelties, Nelson and her team leveraged a unique approach for each brand, enabling Unilever to highlight the most applicable retailers and integrate shopper promotions/offers into national creative, helping its dollars to work harder. In another campaign, she worked with Unilever to develop a process and creative specifications that enabled the company to highlight its J4U loyalty program offers at Albertsons stores. By innovatively combining in-store signage with digital offers, Unilever drove conversion and awareness in programs in which it was investing heavily. These are just two examples of Nelson’s strong analytical and financial acumen enabling her to optimize valuable resources and provide able stewardship of her CPG clients’ investments.

Nick Nickitas CEO and Founder, Rosie Age 35

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hile at Cornell University, Nickitas first had the idea for a service that gives independent retailers the opportunity to offer online ordering and in-store pickup or delivery to their shoppers. With Rosie, he created a best-in-class ecommerce service, offering a whitelabel product that an independent can brand as its own. Unlike large corporate grocery retail chains that can invest in the exploration of ecommerce development, indies don’t typically have the financial resources to develop an ecommerce platform, and most simply don’t know where to start. Rosie delivers that for them in a single affordable package including all of the training, equipment, software and success strategies that an independent retailer often can’t create on its own, and that can be installed and made operational in a short period. Nickitas also continuously improves Rosie by remaining connected with customers to make all adaptations that are required by each individual retailer. He then makes each of those enhancements available to all current customers in the form of upgrades.


Daniel Papaleo Manager, Corporate Demand Planning, C&S Wholesale Grocers Age 25

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apaleo heads a team of nine demand planners whose work spans all categories, with a strong focus on fresh. Their customer base includes C&S’ independent retailers across the United States. Papaleo has motivated his team to understand the needs of customers based on their regional trends, the differences they experience in seasonality, and the differences in their formats. A year ago, he was hand-selected to drive superior promotional performance for the Houston-area independent retailer market serviced by Grocers Supply, delivering tremendous improvement in promotional execution in the region. Papaleo and his team are currently working on innovative tools through his leadership on demand planning’s Numbers & Ideas team. By not only looking at historical data to drive future performance, but also looking at future trends, Papaleo has brought an inventive approach to demand planning that can anticipate the needs of retail customers, and their customers, almost before they do, enabling C&S to deliver the freshest product every time.

Lindsay Peterson Category Management Team Leader, Unilever Age 34

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eterson took a leadership role in an industry-wide group to define e-category management in a group organized by the Category Management Association (CMA) and the Partnering Group, and consisting of more than a dozen manufacturers and retailers. Her work was recognized by all parties involved, with the result that she was invited to speak at the 2018 CMA Annual Conference. Ecommerce, a critical area for growth today and in the future, had yet to be defined for category management, and Peterson took it upon herself to play a big part in the industry initiative to define the space, as well as to develop frameworks and training to help both retailers and manufacturers get started. Peterson performed this necessary work on top of her already demanding day job as a team leader for category management at Unilever. Such untiring dedication makes her, as one colleague heartily attests, “a star in our industry.”

Sabrina Powell Division Fuel Manager, The Kroger Co./ Nashville Division Age 39

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owell was responsible for managing initiatives that assist in controlling expenses, maintaining sanitation standards and supporting the division’s efforts for ecological sustainability across 91 retail grocery facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. She also led the Food Waste Recycling Program, and in that capacity helped the Nashville division improve food rescue by 86% and food waste recycling by 170.8% versus 2018. Currently, more than 99,000 pounds of food in the division are being donated, with more than 68% of stores donating 1,000-plus pounds per month. Under her leadership, all 91 Nashville Kroger retail stores became inaugural members of the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation Get Food Smart TN this year, and she shared reports and information enabling two other Kroger divisions operating stores in Tennessee to become members, too. She’s also a member of the Urban Green Lab Corporate Sustainability Roundtable, which meets to review opportunities and share ideas to promote sustainability at other local companies. PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

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COVER STORY

2019

Awards Chris Shoemaker Senior Manager, Decision Support (Finance and Revenue Growth Management)-Ahold Delhaize, The Coca-Cola Co. Age 29

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Robert Rybick President and CEO, Geissler’s Supermarkets Inc. Age 39

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n Jan. 1 of this year, Rybick was appointed president and CEO of Geissler’s Supermarkets, his family’s 96-year-old business in Connecticut and Massachusetts, embarking on store renovation and design projects to keep shoppers engaged, and moving to enhance partnerships with local businesses and farms. In the latter instance, Rybick took under his wing several local chefs who approached him to sell their spice lines at Geissler’s, taught them how to be successful at retail and forged strong partnerships to help them grow. These spice lines have now evolved into Geissler’s Gourmet Meals, wowing customers while supporting local businesses. Another passion is the environment: He boldly eliminated plastic bags at Geissler’s Connecticut stores two years ahead of a state-wide ban set for 2021. Rybick has also transformed Geissler’s culture with a literal opendoor policy, encouraging associates to share their ideas, be creative, and not be afraid to try something new that they think will be beneficial to customers and businesses.

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hold Delhaize is CocaCola’s fifth-largest retailer, and its six divisions and decentralized structured decision-making make it one of the most difficult customers to manage in the company’s system. Shoemaker oversees this domain with the mastery of a business consultant: His decision science models, revenue growth analysis and agile retail acumen make him one of the most effective and lauded leaders in his space across all national retail sales in the organization. Shoemaker guided the entire Northeast bottling and national retail sales system through the thickets of state legislative pricing, ultimately designing a decision model that enabled all stakeholders to easily understand the various impacts. This has led to collaborative, strategic solutions with the stakeholders and bottling partners. Additionally, he creates financial and revenue assessment models through a sales lens. Shoemaker is an influential leader with a goal of innovating to scale, and the keen ability to make the complex simple.

Matthew Simon VP and Chief Marketing Officer, Giant Food Stores LLC Age 39

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imon’s forward-looking management style pushes Giant Food Stores toward innovative practices. Since Giant has shifted to a digital marketing approach under Simon’s leadership, the reported growth in digital engagement is topping the charts, with 2.5 million weekly coupon activations, up 1,150% from the year prior. He has also helped Giant use social media as a communications vehicle to engage customers by sharing meal inspiration from user-generated content, and to drive sales with spot buys. Simon’s contributions to Giant’s overall strategy have been crucial during a time of remarkable innovation and growth for the company, as evidenced by the recent launches of urban-format banner Giant Heirloom Market; ecommerce program Giant Direct, Powered by Peapod; and the Giant Choice Rewards customized loyalty initiative. He has helped the company turn to data, AI and digital engagement to bring its brand to life, connect with customers and spur innovation, all while nurturing and harnessing the creative power of tomorrow’s marketing leaders.


Jake Tavello VP, Stew Leonard’s Age 31

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he grandson of company founder Stew Leonard Sr., Tavello joined the family business in 2003 at age 15, working in every department across all stores. In college, he spent two summers interning with the company’s COO to learn about store operations. In 2016, Tavello became store director for Stew Leonard’s Danbury, Conn., location; three years later, he was promoted to VP of the chain’s seventh store, in Paramus, N.J. With a focus on increasing customer convenience, Tavello helped spearhead Stew’s Fresh Delivery Powered by Instacart grocery delivery service. Understanding the evolution of how customers shop, he has placed a heavy emphasis on ecommerce and using digital platforms to expand Stew Leonard’s market and social media influence for its customers, and is making it easier for them to shop both in-store and virtually. Despite his youth and status as the “boss’ kid,” Tavello has gained the entire company’s trust and respect through such actions as working holidays on the floor alongside his fellow associates.

Tenia Wallace COO, Decorworx Age 29

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allace is known as the “Experience Creator” at Decorworx, a family-owned branding, design, manufacturing and installation business in Cedar City, Utah, that focuses on the independent grocer. She is positioned to become CEO within the next five years. Wallace understands the importance of keeping up with trends, pushing decor boundaries and attracting the younger generation to local stores. Since companies must evolve to stay relevant and inspire customers, she believes that the design and execution of a grocery store will inspire shoppers to linger, and make their shopping an invigorating experience. Wallace ensures that Decorworx is on the cutting edge of technology and innovation. She has created one strategy to address the concerns of a branding and design sector of the company, while formulating a separate approach to address the challenges of manufacturing and product installation. Further, Wallace serves her rural community by executing her business plan for the local chamber of commerce to expand the area’s tech sector, among other activities.

Floyd Welton Division Produce Merchandiser, The Kroger Co./Mid-Atlantic Division Age 36

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n just his first year at the Mid-Atlantic division, Welton has effectively introduced inspired selling strategies through different merchandising techniques. He focused on implementing more flex space to help create multiweek promotions that drove sales. Welton’s major milestones included reformatting produce department layouts/standards, rolling out assortment adjustments, and harnessing the power of merchandising through incremental displays and themes, leading to positive samestore produce and floral sales during the second half of 2018. Welton also drove strong sales through Kroger’s exclusive brands, and created such winning programs as seasonally relevant items displayed at aggressive retails to drive units in stores, and two to three fresh items and one packaged item featured every four weeks to promote sales. As a result of Welton’s success, he has been asked to share best practices to improve total company results. His work shows that through incremental selling, Kroger can inspire customers to think beyond their shopping lists and fill their baskets with more produce. PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

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TECHNOLOGY

Special Section

4th ANNUAL

2019 GROCERY TECH TRENDS STUDY

Race for Competitive Advantage By Joe Skorupa and Tim Denman

Leading grocers step on the gas to deploy technologies that competitors will find hard to match if they fall behind. Findings in the 4th Annual Grocery Tech Trends Study uncover tectonic shifts in digital strategy and analyze 66 individual technologies against which grocers can benchmark.

PRESENTED BY


TECHNOLOGY

2019 Grocery Tech Trends Study

Top Technologies for Today, 2020 and 2021 One of the best ways to see how grocers are investing in technology is to analyze the 330 data points gathered in this study that dive into spend trends for 66 separate technologies. This data is broken out according to where grocers are spending tech dollars today, where they will spend tomorrow (2020), and where they are planning to spend in the future (2021).

The 3 technologies that achieved #1 rankings on grocers’ priority lists Price Management (investment today) Shopper Tracking in Stores (investment in 2020) Scan and Go on Store-Owned Devices (in 2021)

Top 7 Technologies for Investment Today, 2020 and 2021 TODAY 1. Price Management 2. Predictive Analytics 3. Assortment Planning 4. Category Management 5. Ecommerce Platform 6. Item Master Data Management 7. Replenishment

Today's tech investments are flowing into upgrading or replacing such core technologies as Price Management, Assortment Planning, Category Management and even the nitty gritty of Item Master Data Management.

2020 1. Shopper Tracking 2. Location-Based Marketing 3. CRM/Personalization 4. Assortment Planning 5. Fulfillment 6. Ecommerce Platform 7. Remarketing

In 2020, retailers are focused on identifying and serving the individual customer with tailored services by investing in Shopper Tracking, Location-Based Marketing and CRM/Personalization.

2021 1. Scan and Go on Store Device 2. Scan and Go on Shopper's Device 3. Click-and-Collect Management 4. Chatbots 5. Space Optimization Analytics 6. Workforce Analytics 7. Shopper Tracking

The omnichannel store is the focus in 2021, with planned investment flowing into Scan and Go on Store Device, Scan and Go on Shopper’s Device, and Click-andCollect Management.

From this data-rich perspective, it is clear technology investments are flowing along two primary tracks — core fundamentals and omnichannel advancements. Grocers who want to benchmark against competitors should compare their technology to data about today (current status), tomorrow (in 2020), and the near future (2021). 36

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Top Business Opportunities and Challenges Looking ahead 18 months, grocers identify the top business opportunities for growth and the biggest challenges they face, which are two major concerns that will shape technology investments.

#1 OPPORTUNITY

#1 CHALLENGE

Grocers identify Advancing Digital Strategies, chosen by 75% of respondents, as a way to seize business opportunity over the next 18 months.

Retail is the nation’s largest employer, so it is not surprising a Tight Labor Market (chosen by 57%) emerges as the top challenge for grocers over the next 18 months.

Top 5 Business Opportunities Over Next 18 Months 1

Advancing Digital Capabilities 73%

2

Developing Personalized Marketing Capabilities 58%

3

Proprietary Product Development 45%

4

Expanding Home Delivery 43%

5

Expanding Mobile Capabilities 43%

Top 5 Business Challenges Over Next 18 Months 1

Tight Labor Market 57%

2

Price Competition 50%

3

Increasing Margins/Profits 38%

4 Amazon (innovations, acquisitions, etc.) 28% 5

Lack of Rich Data About Customers 10%

Growth opportunities clearly exist in digital and omnichannel strategies, but there are also obstacles that hinder growth in such areas as price competition and a tight labor market.

Topping the list of business opportunities that will drive growth is Advancing Digital Strategies to supplement and enhance store investments. This was chosen by 73% of grocers and was far ahead of the second-place opportunity, which is Developing Personalized Marketing Capabilities (58%). In the second tier of opportunities are Proprietary Product Development, Expanding Home Delivery, and Expanding Mobile Capabilities. In line with current headlines, it is not surprising to find the top challenge is the Tight Labor Market, which was chosen by 58%. Price competition, which is a perennial concern, came in second place and was chosen by 50%. In the second tier of challenges are Increasing Margins and Profits (38%); Amazon (innovations, blockbuster deals, etc.), chosen by 28%; and Lack of Rich, Detailed Data about Customers (27%).

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TECHNOLOGY

2019 Grocery Tech Trends Study

Revenue Strategy While grocers were slow to enter the digital space, their initial hesitation has faded and been replaced by enthusiasm. Savvy grocers both big and small have embraced omnichannel retailing, offering a host of digital services designed to provide a seamless shopping experience and remove friction from the shopping experience.

Investments in omnichannel are clearly paying off, as grocers report that 17% of total sales today can be attributed to digital efforts. This success has led grocers to expand deployment of next-gen digital experiences and technologies. In addition to growing digital revenue, grocers are also growing their private label sales. In-house brands give shoppers appealing options to namebrand products while simultaneously increasing the grocer’s bottom line. Over the past five years, 81% of grocers recorded increased private label sales, with 42% reporting a major increase.

Amount of Revenue from Private Label Sales

Private Label Sales Over the Past 5 Years 42% Increased Greatly 39% Increased Somewhat 3%

Thanks to the surge in private label sales, these high-margin products now account for 29% of sales across the grocery segment.

Store Technologies Digital shopping options help make the path to purchase smoother for tech-savvy consumers, but the vast majority of commerce still occurs at the store level. As a result, grocers invest heavily in brick-and-mortar locations to ensure they are well equipped with conveniences and services that meet shopper needs today and tomorrow. Grocers report that core capabilities such as Food Safety (71%), WiFi for Customers (61%), Food Labeling (56%), POS Peripherals (54%), POS Software (46%) and POS Hardware (43%) are all up to date. This frees up future budgets to be allocated for investing in experience-enhancing capabilities.

Decreased

15% No change

Started or Will Start Major Upgrade Within 12 Months

39%

Real-Time Store Monitoring of KPIs

37%

Click-and-Collect Management

Will Start Major Upgrade Within 2 Years 40%

Shopper Tracking Location-Based Marketing

34%

Scan and Go Using Customer Devices

34%

Scan and Go Using Retailer Device

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40%

Location-Based Marketing

Click-and-Collect Management

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49%

Shopper Tracking

32% 31%


SPONSORED CONTENT

E-Comm: A Boost to Your Pet Category Progressive Grocer: The growth of e-commerce is changing the face of grocery retailing — and it is a growing challenge for store-based grocery retailers, who are slow to embrace online selling. How is e-commerce impacting the pet category overall? Joe Toscano: Currently, the majority of growth in the pet care category is being driven by e-commerce. In fact, by 2022, we predict that e-commerce will represent 25 percent of the total market and drive another $5.9B in growth for the category. However, e-commerce represents a great opportunity for any grocery retailer to grow their pet category sales. We’re seeing that online pet shoppers spend almost twice as much as in-store only pet shoppers.

SPEAKING WITH…

Joe Toscano, Vice President, Trade and Industry Development, Purina

PG: Companies like Chewy and Amazon get a lot of publicity when it comes to online retailing in the pet category these days. Is there really an opportunity for grocery retailers to compete? JT: The good news for grocers is that Store Based Retailers (SBR) that offer e-commerce solutions, such as curbside pick-up and home delivery, are gaining share of total pet in the e-commerce channel. In fact, SBR growth is outpacing the growth in the Pure Play channels, like Amazon and Chewy. PG: How are grocery retailers who are succeeding in the online space capturing customers who prefer to shop online for pet food and other pet products? What are some easy-to-implement strategies? JT: The opportunity to capture the ever-valuable online pet shopper lies in SBRs developing an instore strategy that drives awareness of your online solutions. Below are some simple ways to meet the pet shoppers’ needs, and promote customer loyalty through e-commerce.

• Navigation is Key. Fifty-six percent of shoppers say that using a site once motivates them to go back and shop there again. SBRs have the unique opportunity to drive shoppers from their aisles to a website through in-aisle signage that communicates their e-commerce solutions such as home delivery or curbside pickup. Pet should be prioritized on the store’s homepage so that it appears “above the fold.” SBRs might also invest in SEO to position their site as a top result when consumers search for pet products online.

• Prioritize the Best-Selling Brands. Ensure at minimum that the online assortment mirrors the in-aisle selection. The best-selling brands should be featured prominently on a pet landing page, and feature engaging brand content, such as product photos, video and ratings and reviews. • Make Checkout Easy. Offering an auto-ship or auto-replenishment service will not only allow shoppers to save time and money, but will also increase the number of repeat buyers. Simplify the online checkout process and be sure to communicate free shipping options. Partnerships with services like Instacart provide a turnkey way to provide these benefits to your customers. • Offer a Variety of Fulfillment Options. Home delivery through services like Instacart, Shipt and Peapod are growing in popularity, as is click & collect. The key is to clearly communicate these options both in-store and online. It’s also important to link the in-store and online inventory to ensure a seamless process. PG: How can improving e-commerce sales in the pet category help a grocery retailer’s overall bottom line? JT: No doubt the grocery business is changing rapidly due to the growth in e-commerce. As the pet category leader, Purina offers retail partners customized strategies to capture the valuable pet shoppers’ sales, both in-store and online. Prioritizing pet is important to building your overall e-commerce business, and potentially to doubling your pet sales, over the next three critical years.


TECHNOLOGY

2019 Grocery Tech Trends Study

Merchandise Management and Supply Chain MERCHANDISE MANAGEMENT

SUPPLY CHAIN

Started a Major Upgrade or Will Start Within 12 Months

Started a Major Upgrade

50% Assortment Planning

22% Order Management

23% Sourcing

47% Category Management 43% New Product or Private Label Development

Will Start a Major Upgrade Within 2 Years

41% Item Master Data Management 34% Real-Time Inventory Management 41% Allocation 26% Fulfillment Having the right merchandise mix is important in every retail segment, but it is even more vital for grocers to be in stock for essential purchases. Customers expect to find their favorite foods readily available whenever they visit a store and are quick to abandon a grocer if their needs are not met. Smart grocers know this and continually invest in advancing merchandise management capabilities. This fact is seen by examining the 13 merchandise management technologies tracked in the study, all of which show significant numbers for being up to date. However, grocers are not standing pat and instead report a broad range of upgrade activity over the next 12 months. Technologies at the top of the upgrade list are Assortment Planning (50%), Category Management (47%) and New Product or Private Label Development (43%).

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A finely tuned supply chain is an essential complement to an advanced merchandise management suite. Products and SKUs in a grocery setting are both located in stores and in motion. Successfully managing these interconnected tasks is the mission of supply chain technologies. As noted in the analysis of merchandise management technologies, it is evident grocers have been steadily investing in their supply chain capabilities in recent years and will continue to do so at least into the next year. The top technologies where major upgrades and deployments are underway are Sourcing 23%, Order Management (22%), Warehouse/DC Management (19%) and Real-Time Order Management (17%). Over the next two years, the top supply chain areas of investment are Real-Time Inventory Management (34%), Fulfillment (26%) and Order Management (20%).


Analytic Technologies

Predictive Analytics is the top analytic technology in deployment today among retailers and also the No. 2 technology overall where work has begun but has not yet been completed.

In-Store Shopper Tracking Analytics, where today only about one in five have the capability, shows a combined 32% investment intent over the next two years — 16% within the next 12 months and 16% within two years.

Space Optimization technology, which analyzes sales data per store, per category and per foot, shows a combined 31% investment intent over the next two years — 17% within 12 months and 14% within the next two years.

Advanced analytics is viewed as a touchstone for improving virtually every facet of the grocer’s tech stack. In this section we track 11 separate analytic technologies that are crucial for succeeding in today’s highly competitive environment.

However, the investment trend has shifted in a big way toward Predictive Analytics, where 33% of grocers say they have started but not yet finished a major upgrade or deployment. Tied in second place at 24% are Price Optimization and Prescriptive Analytics.

Analytic technologies that show the highest future levels of investment are Space Optimization (17% within 12 months) and In-Store Shopper Tracking Analytics (16% within two years).

Among the 11 analytic technologies identified, the top two where grocers have focused their investments to become up to date are Competitive Analysis and Category Analysis.

Despite clear priorities in several individual technologies, the analytic category as a whole does not show the same strength of investment as seen in supply chain and merchandise management technologies for 2020 or store technologies in either 2020 or 2021.

Labor/Workforce Technologies The labor-intensive nature of grocery and food retailing requires a sophisticated approach to workforce management, a core necessity that grocers have long recognized as one of the keys to long-term success. Reliance on a large workforce has elevated the necessity to invest in management technologies that support labor efficiency, productivity and optimization. TASK MANAGEMENT

MOBILE WORKFORCE AND/OR HR APPLICATIONS Planned Upgrade Within 2 Years

Planned Upgrade Within 2 Years

Grocers report that vital technologies such as Time and Attendance (74%), Labor Scheduling (60%), Human Resources and Benefits (59%) and Absence Management (54%) are all up to date due to consistent investment in recent years. Although many key labor solutions are currently up to date, grocers are aware that the tight labor market requires them to take specific actions to adapt. These include planned upgrades to Mobile Workforce and/or HR Applications (27%) within the next two years. Another big area of investment in the next two years is in Task Management (25%).


TECHNOLOGY

2019 Grocery Tech Trends Study

Website and Digital Technologies Grocery shoppers are now digital and omnichannel consumers. Both in-store and out, they demand grocers provide them with capabilities to shop anywhere and anytime. Grocers are actively embracing these technologies and increasing their digital firepower. Major upgrades currently underway include Ecommerce Platforms (26%), Community (24%), Customer Reviews/Ratings (22%) and Product/Catalog Management (21%). ECOMMERCE PLATFORM

PRODUCT/CATALOG MANAGEMENT

Started Major Upgrade

Started Major Upgrade

Planned Upgrade Within 2 Years

Planned Upgrade Within 2 Years

Over the next two years, grocers are planning strategic enhancements to their ability to maximize Remarketing (34%), Digital Coupons (29%), Ecommerce Platforms (28%) and CRM/Personalization (28%). Fast-moving omnichannel shoppers are driving the industry to become fast-moving omnichannel grocers.

Omnichannel Despite initial concerns about the high cost of deployment, grocers have fully embraced delivering omnichannel capabilities to their customers. The reason? Over the past five years, 91% of grocers report an increase in omnichannel expectations among their customer base. This figure is high enough to convince even the most reluctant grocer that the time to adapt is now. In grocery retailing, omnichannel capabilities link digital shopping to the store, as opposed to linking to a DC or warehouse. A big majority of grocers (60%) today offer some form of home delivery for items ordered online. Of these, 42% offer a free delivery option.

of grocers report omnichannel customer expectations have increased over the last five years, with 43% saying they have increased greatly.

Top 5 Omnichannel Services Offered

Ship From Store

While home delivery is the epitome of convenience, enticing shoppers to pick up their digital orders in stores is still the most cost-effective fulfillment option, and one that also produces incremental sales made by shoppers making impulse purchases or buying extra items during their store visits. Currently, 40% of grocers offer Click-and-Collect services. Some grocers are even experimenting with such options as Curbside Pickup (25%) and Pickup Lockers (13%).

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60%

Shopper Tracking

46%

Fast Fulfillment

42%

Free Delivery

42%

Click-and-Collect

40%


Advanced Inventory Management are interested in using a singleversion of the truth to produce realtime (or near realtime) inventory reporting, with 32% expressing strong interest.

are interested in using computer vision to check on-shelf availability, and of these 21% have strong interest.

are interested in using AI to improve inventory management, with 19% expressing strong interest.

have no interest in using autonomous delivery vehicles for last-mile fulfillment.

have no interest in using mobile robots in stores to check inventory; however, 25% have some interest and 12% have strong interest.

have no interest in testing and investing in automated DCs/ warehouses using robotics; however, 32% have some interest and 10% have strong interest.

Grocers can’t afford to tie up valuable capital in inventory. The moment a grocer takes possession of inventory, it begins to lose value. Another key moment occurs when a product is out of stock, which delivers the worst possible experience to a shopper who wants to buy it. Overstocks and out-of-stocks are the twin peaks of bad inventory management, and both are costly. That's why grocers are focusing on advanced inventory management technologies to ensure they are optimizing processes in a way that is best for the customer and best for the grocer. Interest in Testing or Investing in Emerging Inventory Management Technologies

Strong Intrest

Medium Intrest

No Intrest

Real-time (or near real-time) reporting

32%

44%

24%

Computer vision to check on-shelf availability

21%

45%

34%

RFID on cases, pallets or individual products

19%

34%

47%

AI (advanced algorithms combined with big data)

15%

46%

39%

Machine learning (algorithms that deliver predictive/prescriptive analytics and improve over time)

14%

44%

42%

Autonomous delivery vehicles

14%

14%

72%

At the top of the list of advanced inventory management technologies is real-time (or near real-time) reporting, which requires implementing a single-version-of-the-truth system that reduces product reporting from hours to minutes. A big majority of grocers (76%) are interested in deploying this technology, with 32% saying they have a strong interest. Two other advanced inventory technologies on the grocer’s wish list are computer vision to check on-shelf availability (67% are interested and 21% have strong interest) and AI (61% are interested and 19% have strong interest). PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

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TECHNOLOGY

2019 Grocery Tech Trends Study

Recommendations Successful grocers today with healthy balance sheets will be able to compete on price and make investments in technologies that are harder to match for those that are less financially healthy. The recommendations provided here will help sharpen the focus of grocers that want to make tech investments that will help them achieve business performance gains and match key moves made by leaders in the marketplace.

Increase technology firepower to match the 80% of grocers that plan to increase year-over-year tech budgets and 40% that plan to increase 5% or more. Invest in private label product development (29% of total sales) to differentiate from competitors and match a growing industry trend over the past five years (42%). Avoid tying up capital and disappointing customers with overstocks and out-of-stocks. The best way to achieve this is through realtime (or near real-time) inventory reporting (76%). Begin testing Scan and Go technologies to prepare for grocers that will roll them out within two years on Customer Devices (34%) and on Retailer Devices (31%).

Focus on technologies that monitor stores for greater efficiency and profitability, such as those that grocers have either started or will start within 12 months: Shopper Tracking (49%), Location-Based Marketing (40%) and Real-Time Store Monitoring of KPIs (39%). Upgrade merchandise management tools to match those grocers that have either started a major upgrade or will begin one within 12 months for Assortment Planning (50%) and Category Management (47%). Invest in analytic tools to outpace competitors that seem to have a surprising lack of interest. Focus on In-Store Shopper Tracking (32%) and Space Optimization (31%), which will meet (and in most cases) surpass competitors over the next two years.

Demographics and Methodology This benchmark study of the grocery industry draws data primarily from regional and national chains. Data was collected in April 2019 from 60 respondents that hold executive positions within their companies that give them significant influence on technology strategy, project selection and budgets.

NUMBER OF STORES

37%

As a result of growing sales, increasingly fierce competitive demands and the rise of omnichannel shopping, grocers are responding by upping the ante in technology spending. A big majority of 80% say they will increase tech spending year-over-year, and of those, 40% plan to increase tech budgets by 5% or more.

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14%

20%

<10

>500

8%

>$5 Billion

42% <100 Million

250-499

17% 10%

Findings indicate the overall grocery segment continues to expand, which helps 83% report an increase in revenue over the past 12 months, with only 7% reporting a decrease in top-line results.

ANNUAL REVENUE

19%

100-249

8%

10-49

50-99

Decreased

10% No Change

$250 Million $999 Million

8% $100 Million $ 249 Million

REVENUE CHANGE LAST 12 MONTHS

7%

17% $1 Billion $4.9 Billion

YEAR-OVER-YEAR TECHNOLOGY BUDGET

15%

40%

Increased >10

Increased .1%-4.9%

18% Increased 5%-9.9%

50% Increased .1%-4.9%

17% No Change

3% Decreased

30% Increased 5%-9.9%

10% Increased .1%-4.9%


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TOTAL MEAL SOLUTIONS

Retail Foodservice Q&A

Ask a Chef

Progressive Grocer: What are the must-haves for creating a delicious soup?

THE MASTERMINDS BEHIND ZOUP DISCUSS HOW SOUP, THAT PERENNIAL COLD-WE ATHER STAPLE, CAN ADDRESS SMOKING-HOT DINING TRENDS. By Kathy Hayden

s the weather gets cooler, it’s time to put soup on the front burner. From traditional recipes with a twist, to extra-special toppings and on-trend grain bowls, there are plenty of ways to turn up the heat on soup ideas. Together, Erik Erscher, founder, and Dan Carberry, VP of culinary innovation and guest experience, at the Zoup fast-casual chain, have decades of soup experience and plenty of insights to share.

Dan Carberry: It’s all about building on the foundation of a really good broth. Next, you layer in fresh onion and celery, cooked low and slow. Then use the freshest ingredients available and finish with pepper and salt to taste. Soup is simple cooking, and we let the nuances of simple, pure ingredients talk.

PG: I see that you sell Zoup brand broth in supermarkets. What made the company decide to go into retail? Eric Erscher: The inspiration for Good, Really Good Premium Broths came from our staff and customers. They wanted to find good, fresh-tasting broth at grocery stores. Our standard was: Is it good enough to drink? We weren’t necessarily intending to make broth for drinking; rather, we wanted an exceptional product for cooking and soup-making. But people around our office tend to get hungry around 3 p.m., and they were drinking it. The fact that bone broth became popular at the same time is a coincidence, but it fits well with so many eating styles right now. It’s a delicious, easy, low-calorie snack for anyone.

The great thing about soup is there’s something for everyone — vegetarian, keto, Paleo — it’s all covered by our menu, so we don’t have to focus on being the diet police. —Dan Carberry, Zoup

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PG: How has the soup category been influenced by global culinary styles? I’m thinking ramen, pho and other Asian noodle preparations. How can cooks of different skill levels take advantage of these influences? DC: People have so much access to foods from all over the world right now, and it’s interesting to see how people are taking these influences and using them in ad hoc ways. For example, curry soup can have some Thai influences, without being a classic version of a Thai curry. Our lentil soup has a lot of North Indian flavors, but isn’t necessarily a traditional Indian soup. But it is hearty, healthy and satisfying. Getting to know different ingredients and flavor profiles allows for some playfulness in culinary standards, and cross-pollinating flavors and influences.

PG: What about the classic soups? What are some favorite recipes, and what are some innovations you are seeing? DC: Again, we see playfulness and disruption happening around classic dishes like chowders and pot pies. We do a chicken pot pie soup — creamy chicken soup with mixed vegetables and garnished with crumbled pie crust — that has all the flavors and ingredients of a pot pie, but in a soup that’s topped with crumbled pie crust. The same with our mac and cheese — we offer different toppings: crispy pie crust, bacon crumbles, pico de gallo, mashed avocado and lobster bisque. These are examples of how we are pulling soup into the entrée category, and seeing the lines blur between soup, salad, and our Sustain-a-Bowls with ingredients like riced cauliflower, full-husk brown rice, ancient grains, roasted vegetables, proteins and broth. A lot of the time, the toppings and extras can turn a soup into an entrée. We create our garnishes with form and function in mind, so that a crouton becomes a nutritious superfood chia-cheese crouton for our tomato bisque.

PG: How can traditionally creamier or cream-based soups be updated for health-minded eaters? DC: The great thing about soup is there’s something for everyone — vegetarian, keto, Paleo — it’s all covered by our menu, so we don’t have to focus on being the diet police. That said, we always have new recipes under review. We are working on vegetable purées for replacing cream and dairy in cream soups. Cauliflower and chickpeas have become popular ways to replace carbs and dairy, even in pasta. These ingredients are great for soups, especially for people who are eating with better health in mind.

PG: What other aspects of soup are trending? EE: Convenience continues to be a priority, so we are interested in more drinkable soups and the way vegetable purées can be both a garnish and an ingredient. Packaging has also become increasingly important. The more that third-party carry-out and delivery has entered the picture, the more we have to think about how the packaging has to serve the product — how it stores and reheats. We are also really excited by the opportunities in the shelf-stable soup category. And after 21 years of serving soup, we have a unique perspective on what the retail shelves need.

Classic soups are always a hit, and unique garnishes like crisp crumbles are subtle ways to update traditional recipes.

PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

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FRESH FOOD

Value-Added Meats

The New Meat Revolution FOR ALL THE BUZ Z ABOUT PL ANT-BASED PRODUCTS, THE RE AL OPPORTUNIT Y FOR GROCERS LIES IN VALUE-ADDED ME ATS. By Gina Acosta

veryone knows that the U.S. consumer’s hunger for meat is changing. Americans are switching up their protein game as they worry about the health implications of eating meat — not just their own health, but also the health of the planet. A 2018 Oxford University study contends that the most effective way for humans to reduce their environmental impact is to avoid meat and dairy. To wit, sales of meat substitutes and plant-based products are soaring. U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods have grown 11% in the past year, bringing the total plant-based market value to $4.5 billion, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Plant Based Foods Association. Burger King’s Impossible Foods brand vegan Whopper is selling like hotcakes, and Impossible Foods’ main plant-based rival, Beyond Meat, saw its stock value soar an impressive 163%

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While there's no doubt that consumers are looking for alternatives when it comes to sources of protein, much of that desire has nothing to do with veganism and everything to do with convenience.

Key Takeaways Globally inspired marinades paired with an app offering cooking directions make for a winning combination. Offer more exclusive cuts with easy prep instructions, as in meal kits. Don’t forget that shoppers are scrutinizing every ingredient on labels.


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FRESH FOOD

Value-Added Meats

on its Wall Street debut in the best IPO of 2019 so far — valuing the company at $3.77 billion. Buying and eating trends suggest a rise in “flexitarianism” among traditional meat eaters who show a willingness to stray for reasons nutritional or environmental. So, as consumers yearn for more nontraditional meat options, grocers are rushing to meet that demand with alternative products. Retailers and manufacturers are seeing a rapid transformation in how consumers eat meat as technology and sustainability collide. The Kroger Co., for example, is piloting a dedicated plant-based protein section in its refrigerated meat case. Sixty of the Cincinnati-based grocer’s locations in parts of Indiana and Illinois, as well as in Denver, will run the test for 20 weeks this autumn. While there’s no doubt that consumers are looking for alternatives and innovation when it comes to sources of protein, much of that desire for innovation and alternatives frankly has nothing to do with veganism and everything to do with convenience. Yes, there is change unfolding in the grocery meat department, but it’s not all plant-based. “I think we are on the cusp of a revolution in the meat case,” says Kent Harrison, VP of marketing and premium programs at Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based Tyson Fresh Meats. “If you look at our demographics and the populace, you have a Baby Boomer population that is aging out of high-quantity meat consumption. Then you have the Gen Xers, the Millennials and Gen Z, who all have different appetites for meat products. And the younger generations have less knowledge of what

to do with different meat products. So, over the next five years, these demographics will combine with the dearth of people who know how to properly run a meat department at retail. I think all those factors together, plus other consumer demand factors, will lead to this revolution.” Which “other consumer demand factors?” A visit to the meat department at a Publix supermarket in Florida reveals the answer.

Laotian Larb, Anyone?

UP

11%

$4.5

billion

Total sales of plantbased market value Source: Plant Based Foods Association

On a recent Saturday afternoon, shoppers in the meat department of a Publix store in Tampa, Fla., could be seen grabbing packages of Thai Style Ground Chicken — ground chicken thigh meat marinated with garlic, shallots and ginger — placed right next to the conventional ground chuck beef. According to the label, the ground-chicken product is designed to be used to make a Thai nam sod or Laotian larb. Both are appetizers of ground meat spiked with chiles, lime juice and fish sauce, and are usually served wrapped in lettuce leaves. A look around the rest of the meat department showed value-added meats accounting for nearly half of all products in the refrigerated meat section. Shoppers

Value-Added Continues to be a Growth Engine MEAT/POULTRY DOLLAR GROWTH VS. A YEAR AGO

VALUE-ADDED VARIETY DOLLAR GROWTH VS. A YEAR AGO

5.1% 8.8% 6.3% 2.5%

2.2%

3.6%

0.6% Total Meat

0.9% Value-Added

Fully Cooked

Frozen

Source: IRI Market Advantage, U.S. MULO, date ending Dec. 30, 2018

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Beef

Chicken

Pork

Turkey


inspected Cuban mojo-marinated chicken breasts, yakitori-flavored chicken skewers and even bourbon-spiced salmon — all pre-cut, accessorized with vegetables and prepped for the grill. Plastic-wrapped packages of fajita-spiced beef chunks sat beside meal kits full of shrimp seasoned and ready for pasta. The growth in marinated and other value-added meats is a reflection of the American consumer’s never-ending quest for convenience, an interest that may trump the sales growth of plant-based or clean-label foods. At $4.6 billion, sales of value-added meat and poultry that provide shortcuts of some kind have risen 5% over the past year, exceeding total category performance, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) 2019 “Power of Meat” report. “We look at the value-added category as something that is evolving rapidly and growing rapidly to the point where it will be a focus for us over the next five years,” Tyson’s Harrison says. “Meat consumers want new and interesting marinades, extended shelf-life packaging, net-weight products with smaller portions cut to the exact size that they like. These are the things that are going to lead us to a dramatically different meat case.”

Hold the Plants

UP

5%

$4.6

billion Sales of valueadded meat and poultry that provided convienence

Source: FMI 2019 "Power of Meat" report

While it’s true that consumers are craving more alternatives to meat, the idea that the U.S. population is moving to a plant-based diet is more than extreme — it’s just plain wrong. Americans still love their animal-based protein: According to the 2019 “Power of Meat" report, 86% of shoppers reported that they still eat traditional meat. In this $67 billion category with a household penetration of 98.9%, two-thirds of shoppers mainly prepare fresh meat and poultry. Consumers continue to choose fresh meat, poultry and seafood as their preferred sources of protein, which are still tops when it comes to dietary trends. Eighty-one percent of Millennials, 74% of Gen Xers, 66% of Baby Boomers and 50% of Silents said that protein content is extremely or very influential when making grocery store purchases, according to the 2018 “Progressing Protein Palates” report from Jacksonville, Fla.-based consumer packaged goods marketing agency Acosta. The percentage of vegans and vegetarians has remained steady at 5% to 7% since 2017, according to consumer data presented by Randy Blach, CEO

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FRESH FOOD

Value-Added Meats

I think we are on the cusp of a revolution in the meat case. If you look at our demographics ... these demographics will combine with the dearth of people who know how to properly run a meat department at retail. I think all those factors together, plus other consumer demand factors, will lead to this revolution.” —Kent Harrison, Tyson Fresh Meats of Centennial, Colo.-based market tracker CattleFax, at the recent Certified Angus Beef annual brand conference. Blach added that the USDA expects U.S. per capita red meat and poultry consumption to hit a new record high in 2020. In fact, the popularity of animal-based protein and protein-heavy diets such as keto and Paleo are prompting many grocers, including Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets, to up their value-added meat game. Accordingly, value-added meats have emerged as a strong growth area for grocers in recent years. “The never-ending quest for convenience exemplifies the lifestyle-driven nature of meat purchases,” notes Rick Stein, VP of fresh foods at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “Sales of value-added meat and poultry that provide shortcuts of some kind have risen 5% over the past year. Arguably, the growth is influenced by two factors: convenience and confidence. Because the meat purchase is a planned purchase, and consumers are often unsure how to prepare and cook types of meat, value-added meats push consumers halfway to the goal line. Thanks to marinades, cooking instructions and basic prep work, grocers are helping to give their shoppers the confidence they need to prepare a delicious meat dish in a manageable amount of time.” According to Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. (IRI), sales of refrigerated uncooked meats increased 2% during the 52-week period ended June 16, with sales reaching $54.5 billion. Beef sales were up 1.1% during the same period, to $25 billion. Sales of other meats, excluding beef, chicken, pork and turkey, were up 4%. According to FMI’s Stein, the value-added meat and poultry categories can’t get enough attention from grocery retailers, especially since marinated/seasoned items have a higher margin compared with non-marinated proteins. “In value-added or semi-prepared meats, where the product might come marinated or with recipes, or something like a prepared kebab, that

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is the fastest-growing segment in all of fresh, including produce, seafood, meat and poultry,” he says. IRI’s "State of Meat 2019" research revealed that 86% of shoppers could be prompted to buy more value-added meats if: There were better prices: 59% There was greater assortment/availability: 35% There was a greater variety of flavors: 32% There was insight into the quality used: 30% There was insight into the freshness used: 27%

UP

2%

$54.5 billion

Sales of refrigerated uncooked meats Source: IRI

Another trend that food retailers should take into account as they go about how to merchandise value-added meat products is meal kits. In the past year, in-store meal kits overall have seen a 26% increase in sales, growing to $154.7 million in retail sales, according to Chicago-based Nielsen. These meal solutions, which run the gamut from ready-tocook to partially cooked, can introduce shoppers to new types and cuts of value-added meats. “There’s still a ton of different variations of meal kits, and people are looking for the right price point,” Harrison observes. “We found a couple that really work in our Tyson brand, where we have the raw-material meat, the prepackaged vegetables, the sauce that goes with it, and those have sold very well. But another area we’re looking at, not only for retailers, but in the extended version of home use for meal kits, is how can we be the protein providers in the right portions in the right sizes with the right flavors for those meals.” Beyond the self-service meat case, he notes that even the full-service meat counter will undergo an evolution, with more value-added, case-ready and innovative items available. “You see that already, more to the point where part of our value-added offering will end up being how can we provide products in a case-ready format that retailers can take out of, say, a vacuum-sealed


mother bag and just slide right into a full service case,” Harrison says. Retailers are maximizing their caseready assortments at a time when shoppers’ perception of case-ready meat has reached its highest favorability rating yet, according to IRI’s “State of Meat 2019” report. About 80% of shoppers believe that case-ready meat is as good as or better than meat that’s cut or packaged in-store. In terms of which cuts to offer, “in beef, middle meats are driving most of the growth, and that’s your ribeyes and your most tender cuts of beef,” Stein points out. With a strong economy boosting consumer confidence, even higher-end cuts are seeing growth, including ribeye roast (14.2%), T-bone steak (13.9%) and bone-in strip steak (9.5%), according to the 2019 “Power of Meat” report.

Sea Changes

As for today’s seafood shoppers, a significant finding from FMI’s 2019 “Power of Seafood” report is that although the seafood sector is comparatively smaller than fresh meat and poultry, it’s nonetheless lucrative. Seafood shoppers have a higher average household income and education level, and choose to spend more money on groceries, and the average basket size nearly triples when these shoppers buy seafood, versus the baskets of non-seafood consumers, FMI found. Longtime favorites like shrimp, salmon and tuna are still king, representing a combined 60% of the market, according to the report.

As shoppers increasingly have more choices of where to buy their meats, grocers should try to deliver the kind of value-added assortment that competitors can’t match. Consumers will be looking for value-added innovation such as premium brands, exclusive cuts, easy prep solutions, clean labels and globally flavored marinades. Retailers should also pay attention to trends such as combining animal-based and plant-based proteins in the same product, or offering technology solutions that clearly communicate cooking instructions. Also, to drive even more sales in value-added meats, retailers and suppliers should work together to leverage food trends for the best possible assortment, service and shopping experience. “Consumers are expecting greater focus on modern versions of value-added meat that go beyond simple pre-seasoning to offerings that provide heightened discovery, either global or regional seasonings, and prep methods, to pre-pack cuts that provide a deeper level of transparency regarding treatment of animals, workers and more natural processing,” says Melissa Abbott, VP of retainer services for The Hartman Group, in Bellevue, Wash. “We can anticipate increasing consumer interest in callouts that speak to grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free, 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating, [and] Certified Humane Raised and Handled.”

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FRESH FOOD

Produce

The Original Ugly Produce WINTER ROOT VEGE TABLES EQUAL SALES SUCCESS. By D. Gail Fleenor

inter root vegetables are packed with vitamins and full of flavor, but no one would accuse them of being attractive. Many of these roots give stews, soups and casseroles extra flavor. Some of them are tasty raw and are great additions to salads, or can be used as garnishes. Their secret? Spending time underground can build unique flavor and nutrition. The cold days of winter can get a little boring in the produce department. “Most of the exciting produce is out of season during winter months, so produce managers must get creative to entice customers to purchase winter produce,” notes Blake Lee, director produce, bulk and juice procurement and merchandising at DLJ Produce, in Long Beach, Calif. “The key to selling produce at the store level is to create an atmosphere that encourages customers to buy. Most impulse purchases are based on how a display looks and makes someone feel.” By tempting customers with new soup recipes and the smell of samples of that soup, departments can sell multiple vegetables, including these underground items.

The Root of the Matter

Root vegetables may not always be as showy as citrus or corn, but they are nutritious and versatile. These mostly odd-looking vegetables can add flavor to many dishes. According to Jeff Wingo, supervisor of produce operations at Town and Country Markets, based in Fredericktown, Mo., top-selling produce items during winter are cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions — “mostly items that would go into a stew or soup.” That's true of many of the roots profiled in the following pages, from “Melissa's Great Book of Produce” by Cathy Thomas. Try spotlighting some with signage, recipes, and information providing nutrition and preparation. Shoppers are looking for something new and different in winter. These vegetables are capable of heating up your bottom line when it's cold.

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Key Takeaways Root vegetables are some of the healthiest produce available, as the time spent in the ground increases their nutritional content. Directions for purchase, preparation and storage for each root, as well as nutrition information, can be made available to customers. When displaying root vegetables, make sure that they don’t have soft spots.


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FRESH FOOD

Produce

Celery Root, or Celeriac

Celery root might win an ugly produce contest with its lopsided shape and dappled skin. However, inside is white flesh that tastes like celery and parsley. The ugly root has an energizing, clean taste that is celery-like without the strings. Celery root has been used for hundreds of years in soups, stuffing, stews and salads. The root is best if it feels heavy for its size. Soft spots should be avoided and small bulbs with fewer crevices are best. The root can be refrigerated at home in a plastic bag for seven to 10 days. Also known as celeriac or knob celery, this root vegetable is jam-packed with fiber and vitamins B 6, C and K, as well as minerals such as phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Celery root is also low in fat and calories but high in antioxidants. Grated celery root can be eaten raw after peeling, added to a salad, or boiled, braised or blanched. When combined with potatoes, celery root helps create the “best” mashed potatoes, according to many.

Fennel

This root is sometimes labeled “anise” or “sweet anise,” and has feathery green tops like parsley so its identity is sometimes in question. Fennel has a greentinged white bulb and celery-type stalks with dark-green leaves. The flavor is like anise or licorice. It can be eaten raw or blanched, giving it a cooked-asparagus texture. Fennel is available in both mature sizes with 14- to 18-inchlong stalks and immature “baby” sizes with 5- to 8-inch stalks. Baby fennel is prized for its sweetness and strong anise aroma. When purchasing fennel, look for fragrant, firm bulbs without blemishes. Also, the green leaves at the top should be brightly colored. Customers can refrigerate fennel unwashed and dry in a plastic bag for up to five days. This root vegetable is called finocchio in Italian and fenouil in French. It's popular in Mediterranean dishes, eaten with fish in France and in pasta sauces in Italy. Eaten raw, it is also a digestive aid. Fennel is a significant source of vitamin C and potassium. Encourage customers to try cream of fennel soup with leeks, a potato-and-chicken broth for something different when the weather is cold.

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Gobo Root, or Burdock

Gobo root often accompanies sushi in Japanese restaurants as a bright-orange pickled tidbit. Its actual appearance is quite different. It's used as both a vegetable and a seasoning. The slender roots resemble long, brown carrots, 12 to 30 inches long. Gobo root’s appearance is woody, with rough brown skin and white, fibrous flesh. Both skin and flesh are edible. Burdock is usually cooked or pickled, and has a taste similar to artichoke. The flesh turns from white to gray when cooked. When selecting burdock, choose vegetables no more than 18 inches long and 1 inch in diameter, with soil-covered roots. Wrap in moist paper towels in a plastic bag to store. Prep involves scrubbing, peeling, cutting into smaller lengths, soaking in salted water, draining in cold water, and placing in cold water with lemon juice. Then slice or dice. Gobo root can be broiled, roasted or added to stew. Gobo root is a significant source of vitamin B6 and potassium. Popular recipes include stir-fry and gobo-and -mushroom soup. The vegetable’s flavor is earthy-sweet.

Jicama

Jicama is also known as the Mexican potato and as yam bean. The vegetable is a large bulbous root flattened on top and bottom. The tuber is white fleshed and covered in thick skin. Jicamas weigh anywhere from 8 ounces to 6 pounds. The flesh is juicy and comparable to an apple in texture, and the taste is barely sweet and a little nutty.


FRESH FOOD

Produce

When choosing jicama, small or medium sizes are usually the best. Store whole in a cool location for several days, or refrigerate for up to three weeks. To prep, remove the skin, top and bottom. Cut into cubes, slices or sticks. Store the vegetable in plastic wrap. Jicama can be cooked but is usually eaten raw. It can serve as a substitute for water chestnuts in Asian dishes. Jicama can also go on the grill or be baked like French fries. Use in salsas, as a soup topper or in salads. The tuber is an excellent source of vitamin C and is low in carbs.

Parsley Root

Once popular only in Europe, parsley root is now grown in the United States mostly for its roots instead of its leaves. It's also known as turnip-rooted parsley, rooted parsley and Hamburg parsley. While its roots resemble carrots, they are beige in

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color and often double-rooted. The flavor is like a combination between carrot and celery. Parsley root combines well with potatoes, turnips, carrots and onions. The root vegetable is often used in soups and stews. The root can be braised, steamed, boiled, simmered or roasted. It can also be prepared alone, and the leaves used like parsley. When choosing parsley root, look for uniform roots with bright-green crisp leaves. Store roots unwashed in plastic for up to one week. To prepare, gently clean and remove the leaves. Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and a significant source of iron.


Daikon Radishes

Daikon radishes (also called Chinese or Asian radishes) are larger than the average red radish, sometimes 1 to 2 feet long and 3 to 5 inches in diameter. The skin is usually white but can also be black. However, the daikon is different from a black radish. The root is regarded as essential in many Asian dishes. While this radish looks a little like a carrot, its flavor is very different â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a little sweet, juicy, and a little spicy, with a peppery bite. Daikon is a versatile vegetable and can be eaten raw or pickled. The vegetable can be added to soups, stews or salads, or used as a garnish. Asian radishes can also be roasted and steamed. Choose daikon radishes that

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are well formed, smooth, and hard, with no soft spots. Refrigerate them unwashed for up to 10 days in a plastic bag. Scrub with a brush under running water, and then peel or grate. One cup of daikon radishes is a good source of vitamin C.

Salsify

Salsify is also called oyster plant or oyster vegetable for good reason. Most consumers say that the root vegetable has a subtle oyster-like flavor, but others think it tastes like artichokes or asparagus, with a slight coconut taste. It's advisable to use salsify sparingly for

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Produce

flavoring, no matter how it's prepared. The variety distributed in the United States looks like a muddy carrot, but the flesh is cream-colored under its skin. Salsify is about 1 to 2 feet long and 1 inch in diameter. Steaming salsify is preferred over boiling, since it breaks easily. To prepare, remove the skin and discard it. Wear rubber gloves to prevent discoloration of the hands. If boiling or roasting salsify, cut it into 1-inch slices. If not using it immediately, put it into water with lemon. Salsify can be simmered, boiled, roasted or fried, and pairs well with meat or game. One cup is a significant source of vitamins C and B 6, riboflavin, and potassium.

Sunflower Choke

Sunflower choke is also called Jerusalem artichoke or sunchoke, but it's neither from Jerusalem nor an artichoke. This lumpy, brown-skinned vegetable can be mistaken for several other root vegetables, but sunflower choke is actually a variety of sunflower root. The sunflower choke’s inside is creamy-white flesh with a crispy texture. Its taste is nutty and sweet. Avoid soft sunflower chokes when selecting. Store it unwashed in plastic in the refrigerator for up to one week. Sunflower chokes may be peeled or cooked in their skins. If they're cooked whole, the skin can be removed before or after cooking, if desired. This root vegetable can be eaten raw or cooked. In salads, sunflower choke should be thinly sliced. To cook the vegetable, blanch, bake, sauté or roast. One cup is a significant source of vitamin C, and a very good source of iron, thiamin, phosphorus, and potassium. While sunflower choke is similar to a potato, the carbohydrate present is inulin rather than starch, making it a good source of fructose for diabetics.

While sunflower choke is similar to a potato, the carbohydrate is inulin rather than starch, making it a good source of fructose for diabetics." —“Melissa’s Great Book of Produce” by Cathy Thomas

Ginger Root

Instead of grabbing a jar of already prepared ginger off the supermarket shelf, many consumers prefer to use fresh ginger from the produce department in recipes. Ginger rhizomes are some of the stranger-looking items in produce, with knobs of all sizes protruding from dark-beige skin. Inside, the fiber-filled interior is pale yellow and slightly juicy.

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Ginger root is popular in Asian and Indian cooking. Young ginger has paler colors and a milder taste than mature ginger. When purchasing ginger, make sure the product is smooth and wrinkle-free, and feels firm. Store it at room temperature in a cool location for up to five days, or wrap it in a paper towel to refrigerate in an unsealed plastic bag for up to three to four weeks. Ginger can be frozen for up to two months. Ginger skin is very thin, and the root is often used unpeeled. Cut it into matchsticks, mince it or grate it across the grain using a ginger grater. Eat ginger raw in cold sauces, salad dressing, marinades and beverages, or add to soups, casseroles, stir-fries or baked goods. One cup of ginger is a significant source of potassium.

Horseradish Root

Another root competing for an ugly award is horseradish. Its knotty, brown exterior hides a secret sharp, hot flavor inside in its white flesh. When it's cut, essential oils are released. Horseradish is one of the five bitter herbs of Passover. Its leaves are sometimes used in salads, but the root is most popular. Many consumers have only experienced horseradish from a jar. The root is usually peeled, crushed and grated into a sauce for fish or meat. Use it instead of wasabi with sushi, or mix it into mashed potatoes. Horseradish should be firm when purchased. Wrap it in slightly moist paper towels and put it in a plastic bag to refrigerate for up to 10 days. When prepar-


Roots for the Holidays Produce managers may know the usual fruits and vegetables that are most popular at Thanksgiving or Christmas. What about root vegetables? Here are some suggestions:

Hanukkah: turnips, kohlrabi, parsnips, celery root, parsley root, carrots, turmeric root, horseradish, leeks, scallions, beets, fennel, watercress

Christmas:

turnips, parsnips, kohlrabi, t celery root, fennel, sunflower chokes, leeks, shallots, cipolline onions

Caribbean Christmas: ginger, ing, wash and cut it into 3- to 4-inch lengths. Remove and discard the peel and any green patches under the skin. If there's a woody core inside a large horseradish, discard it. Grate or cut it into half-inch cubes for the food processor. One cup is an important source of vitamin C, folate and potassium.

garlic, black garlic, taro root, jicama, malanga, yuca root

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TECHNOLOGY

Health & Wellness

n s o s s e e k n l a l T We h c e T lth & a e H T

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Y I L I T TA R Y B I NS DIE PO IFIC S RE EC S. HE Sâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; SP ENCE T L EE PER FER S F H O P P R E kler R c E S ND Kle OC O A by GR TER T EDS b A A By NE OC


Key Ta keawa y

eemingly every conversation about food centers on nutrition. Many people want to eat better. Some have certain taste or ingredient preferences. Others are following specific diets. More than 90% of Americans sometimes or always seek healthier food options, but less than a third say that supermarkets are doing enough, according to research from U.K.-based food technology company Spoon Guru. In a world where personalization has gained substantial traction in recent years, it has largely lagged behind in grocery. Netflix knows a viewer’s past preferences and recommends future shows. Spotify curates playlists based on listening habits. Social media makes like content easily discoverable. Yet most grocers can’t readily advocate vegan products or heart-healthy options for people with specific dietary needs or preferences. The responsibility is at least partly on the retailer to help shoppers, and many are starting to use technology to do so. “There’s a huge gap between what people would like to see compared to what experience they’re getting,” says Markus Stripf, co-CEO and founder of Spoon Guru. “The good news is there are now technology solutions, most of them AI-based technology solutions, that are readily available that help consumers find whatever it is they’re looking for, reliably, accurately and quickly.”

A Grocer’s Vision

For Heinen’s, which operates 23 stores in the Cleveland and Chicago-area markets, catering to health-conscious customers has been a work in progress for years, and now the grocer is adding a technology component to really bring its services to the next level. “Ten years ago is when we had this vision, and we said, ‘We want to be relevant in health and wellness,’” explains Chris Foltz, chief innovation officer for Cleveland-based Heinen’s. “As a grocer, we believe we have an accountability, and it’s not our accountability to sell food, but to source great food, and then to help customers understand what we have so they can make the best decisions for themselves.” Heinen’s hired a chief medical officer with his own practice, Dr. Tood Pesek; hired a chief dietitian, Melanie Jatsek; and partnered

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More grocer s a r e ta respon k ing s ib il it y fo r c u s tom e r s fi n d h e lp ing he food s th a t a lig n a lt hy w it h th d ieta r y e ir pr r e q u ir e efe r e nc es a n d m e nts . Fo r in s ta nc e , H e in e a c h ief n’s h a s m e d ic a l offic e c h ief d ra ieti ti a n , a pa r tn n d w it h a e r s h ip loc a l h os p it a l, li s t of b and a est pra c tic es , a wo rk in n d is g on a p r o p r ie to take ta r y a p eve r y th p in g d ig it a Com b l. ining m edical experie nc science e wit h data , techn ology c S p oo n ompan Guru m y akes se unstruc nse of tured d ata to p acc u r a ro te prod uct deta vide retailer ils for s both in the s and on tore line.

with Cleveland’s University Hospitals to create best practices for eating healthier. These “7 Amazing Food Scripts” act at a basic level as guidelines that are then tailored to what customers need or are already doing. They are: 1. Eat your greens, as many as you can. 2. Include the rainbow: two vegetables, one fruit per day. 3. Substitute plant proteins as often as you can. 4. Dose with omega-3 fats every day. 5. Choose whole grains, preferably sprouted. 6. Remember functional foods, mostly herbs and a little dark chocolate. 7. Watch your sugar and salt; minimize added sugar and limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day. These food scripts have already been implemented with in-store programming, health coaches and meal kits, but Heinen’s is now in the process of taking everything digital and launching its Fx app. “We have this giant opportunity ahead of us, and if we would just think out of the box a little bit, and we would think about how technology can help us, we could not PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

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TECHNOLOGY

Health & Wellness

Spoon Guru combines AI and machine learning with nutritional expertise, medical guidelines, product information and more to provide a customized shopping experience.

only really please customers, but we could open up a whole avenue of enormous potential for sales and to be relevant,” Foltz says. The Fx app, nearing prototype stage, will home in on personalization, beginning first with asking a customer’s taste preferences, and then filtering foods that may work for him or her. The next step dives a little deeper, whether a customer is looking for help with energy, sleep, managing blood sugar, weight loss, mental clarity or a number of other goals. Working with its chief medical officer and University Hospitals, Heinen’s can take the technology one step further, and doctors can enter health conditions or recommendations for a patient. The patient can then see food options on the app that align with the doctor’s care. “We’ve been talking with our hospital partner, and the doctor can go on [the app] and say, ‘You know what, I want them to do omega-3s every day, and I want them to eat two fruits and one vegetable every day,’ whatever it may be,” Foltz notes. “The patient can come into the app, and they can download those recipes or items, and the app will also have an educational component.”

Cleveland-based Heinen's Fx app will marry technology and the grocer's medical resources to give shoppers an experience that works with dietary needs and preferences.

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The Importance of Accuracy

Heinen’s is developing a proprietary app with its technology partner, but it’s not the only grocer that wants to help carry the torch for customers’ health and wellness. Spoon Guru has partnered with Walmart-owned Jet.com in the United States and grocers around the world to help shoppers easily discover foods and create meals that align with their preferences and requirements. On average today, each shopper has 3.3 dietary preferences, and 64% of the world’s population follows some sort of exclusion diet, according to Spoon Guru’s research. Spoon Guru makes sense of unstructured data to provide accurate product details both in the store and online. “We have defined a couple hundred dietary attributes, which are defined by our team of medics and dietitians, and we have a very complicated, very sophisticated algorithm that basically assigns dietary attributes to the product catalog our partner sends us,” Stripf says. “That additional insight, that level of augmentation, allows them to respond to specific search inquiries much more effectively.” Most retailers with Spoon Guru have started with their ecommerce channels. If customers type in gluten-free pizza sauce or nut-free butters, they’ll get an accurate representation of the products the grocer offers that fit these requirements. If they choose a pizza sauce that isn’t gluten-free, it’s flagged as not compliant, and the website provides alternative options. “Accuracy is our No. 1 metric, and we also give accuracy guarantees to our partners,” Stripf says. “For somebody with a nut allergy that relies on our search engine to find them suitable products, if you get it wrong once, that’s one time too many if that person ends up in an ambulance or worse.” Stripf adds that Spoon Guru is positioned as a technology company, but its real value proposition lies in


There are now technology solutions, most of them AI-based technology solutions, that are readily available that help consumers find whatever it is they’re looking for, reliably, accurately and quickly.” —Markus Stripf, Spoon Guru

the fact that it combines medical experience with data science. The company has a team of in-house dietitians and nutritionists, as well as an advisory panel consisting of medics and allergy specialists.

At the Store Level

For Heinen’s, shoppers are likely walking into the store with the Fx app and searching for the appropriate foods with the help of digital store tours or in-store employees. According to Foltz, the grocer has invested in em-

ployees, and particularly “red coats,” the name given to chefs, since they now wear red coats, in the prepared food department. “This is chef-prepared food,” he says. “We put red coats on our chefs and did training on the food and combining it into meals instead of just listening to what they want and then fulfilling their order.” For search engine and product attribute accuracy, ecommerce sounds like a fitting start, but the possibilities for taking this technology into brick and mortar is there as well. “It can obviously be integrated within native apps. It can be integrated with scan-and-go technology. It can be integrated with in-store kiosks,” observes Stripf. “It can even be used to help staff, employees, that work in physical stores provide much more accurate and reliable customer service by being able to understand whether they actually have gluten-free sausages or not, and by being able to understand where the customer can find them.” The digital shelf edge can also take personalizing the in-store shopping experience to a whole new level. Through readers or a retailer app, shoppers can scan the barcode of a product to see whether it’s suitable for them, and if not, what suitable alternatives exist. Gone are the days of putting on your reading glasses, squinting your eyes and flipping over the package to analyze the nutrition label and ingredient list to see whether a product aligns with your dietary preferences or restrictions.

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SUPPLY CHAIN

Regulatory Issues

Executives from Costco, Raley's, Bristol Farms, Albertsons, Ralphs, Gelson's Markets and North State Grocery Co. participated in the 2019 California Grocers Association Day at the state capitol.

A Seat at the Table GROCERS THAT GE T INVOLVED AT THEIR LOCAL AND STATE LE VELS CAN HAVE A VOICE IN IMPORTANT SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES. By Jenny McTaggart s the saying goes, all politics is local. That couldn’t be truer than in the present time, when environmental activists often have the loudest voices in persuading legislators to consider new laws that impact both cities and states. Luckily for grocers, state trade associations are serving a powerful purpose by weeding through new legislation to find the measures that will hit retailers most significantly, and ensuring that their members’ voices are heard in political discussions. Progressive Grocer recently caught up with leaders from three state trade associations — the California Grocers Associ-

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Key Takeaways State trade associations weed through new legislation to find the measures that will affect retailers the most, and ensure that their members’ voices are heard in political discussions. Pertinent issues affecting retailers in several states include recycling, plastic bag bans, cap-and-trade programs on petroleum, and other environmental issues, as well as sweetened-beverage taxes. Since grocery stores are critical to neighborhoods, there needs to be some consideration about the effect of a proposed mandate on a food retailer’s ability to open or remain in a particular area.


ation, the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association, and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association — to hear about some of the latest regulatory issues coming down the pipeline and how their groups have made a difference for their retail members. Not surprisingly, multiple states are often facing the same kinds of challenges — many of which directly affect the retail supply chain.

successful model. “We’ve seen bag usage in general reduced anywhere from 60% to 80%,” he notes. “But it has taken a few years. The first year was rough because consumers needed to change their behavior and remember to bring their own bags. Now we as grocery stores are able to reduce our carbon footprint. I think other states will learn from us.” While laws such as these are ultimately helping grocers become more sustainable, they also bring with them a particular challenge to retailers’ supply chains, observes Fong. “It’s one thing for legislators to write these laws. It’s another thing to see if our supply chains can supply us with the intended substitute product. For instance, right now the local laws have moved to looking at banning plastic containers in grocery stores and other retailers, but currently there’s not a good alternative. We’ve seen a cardboard alternative, but there’s no scale on that yet. And if you think about meat and fish, nobody is making a compostable meat tray. Our point to legislators is OK, study these things, but don’t penalize grocers if there’s no alternative.”

California: Big State, Big Issues

Ron Fong, president and CEO of the California Grocers Association (CGA), based in Sacramento, jokes that many of his colleagues around the country see him as the “man with the crystal ball,” because so much legislation starts in California before it eventually makes its way to other states. In fact, in California’s latest legislative session, there were a jaw-dropping 2,500 bills introduced. New rules related to improving California’s environment continue to lead the trend in the state, and Fong counts newly passed legislation, Assembly Bill 54, as a recent success story for CGA. The bill was designed to deal with an old law originally passed in the 1980s that requires grocery stores to accept consumers’ recycling in their stores when they no longer have recycling centers available in their parking lots. Due to a major change in how plastic bottles have been received in recent years (there’s essentially no more money in plastic bottles anymore, especially since China has stopped buying them from the United States, explains Fong), California’s largest recycling company recently shut down all of its centers in the state. So that meant that by default, California grocers were required to accept consumers’ recycling in their stores. “This posed a big, big problem for us, because recycling has changed from 20 years ago,” notes Fong. “Now you have people bringing in garbage bags essentially full of trash and dirty needles and plopping them down on our checkstands where we sell produce and meat. So it poses a food safety and health threat.” CGA sponsored AB 54, which provides grocers a temporary reprieve from the law through next year, giving them time to sit down with all stakeholders to come up with a better way to set up recycling. “Thankfully, because we have a great government relations team, we were able to convince the legislature that that’s not the right answer and that we are good citizens who just want to find a better model,” says Fong. CGA was also part of the discussion several years ago on another big environmental issue, when the state was weighing the impact of plastic T-shirt bags on oceans and waterways, and eventually chose to ban them. While CGA didn’t have a firm position on whether to ban the bags, the association’s top priority had been to try and keep local laws as similar as possible, especially since many of its members operate stores in more than one jurisdiction, according to Fong. “It’s very confusing for customers to go to one store and hear they can’t have a plastic bag, but then go to another store not too far away and hear that they can,” he says. By 2012, the association decided that this had become such a big topic that it was time to sponsor a statewide bill so that there would be one law for everybody. The law was signed and put into place four years later, in 2016. Fong says that the law, which bans plastic T-shirt bags and charges customers 10 cents to use a paper or reusable, thicker plastic bag if they don’t bring their own bag, has proved to be a

Greening the Green Mountain State

Vermont is another state that’s seeing more regulations tied to sustainability. Erin Sigrist, president of the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association (VRGA), based in Berlin, Vt., says that her group is learning to work together with government, even on issues that on the surface look like they may negatively impact the industry, so that they have a say in how laws are written. In fact, the state just established its own plastic bag ban during its latest legislative session. While VRGA has been opposed to such a ban for at least eight years, the group and its members saw that the trend was gaining traction throughout the country and would likely be inevitable for Vermont. “So we decided to get on board and have a say in what the legislation looks like,” notes Sigrist. “Is every

It’s one thing for legislators to write these laws. It’s another thing to see if our supply chains can supply us with the intended substitute product.” —Ron Fong, California Grocers Association


SUPPLY CHAIN

Regulatory Issues

retailer happy? No. Is it a perfect law? Absolutely not. But we showed up to the table and made some really good progress, and now we have that open line of communication so that we can continue to move forward with regulators and legislators in a way that I think will allow us some say in what it looks like in the end.” She adds that Vermont’s bill has been deemed the most comprehensive plastics ban bill in the country. It not only bans plastic bags, but also plastic stirrers that are typically used in coffee, as well as polystyrene. Additionally, retailers and food establishments are prohibited from providing straws unless the customers ask for them. The bill also mandated a working group that has been tasked with considering the waste stream in Vermont, and how to eliminate single-use products as much as possible. Another environmental issue being floated around Vermont is a potential cap-and-trade program on petroleum, says Sigrist. “Lawmakers are questioning whether to impose additional costs on the gas used to power trucks, including the trucks that deliver food,” she notes. “There are only a few ways you can make up for that cost, and ultimately it will increase prices to the consumer. So that’s one conversation we’re having not only with petroleum distributors, but also with retailers and food distributors.” California already has a current cap-and-trade law in place, and several large grocery chains — including Safeway and Kroger — have reacted by proactively setting their own green energy goals and looking for renewable sources of energy, observes Fong. “This is forcing people to look at their own operations.”

Midwest Mandates

While Illinois hasn’t seen quite as many regulations dealing with the environment, the state is also mulling what to do about plastic bag waste — and the Springfield-based Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) has been there to represent retailers’ points of view. In Chicago, a ban on thin plastic bags was implemented in 2015, but in some ways it put more plastic into the environment, according to Tanya Triche Dawood, VP and general counsel of IRMA. “Many consumers were getting the thicker plastic bags, so it was more like a swap,” she says. In 2017, the city changed the ban to include a 7-cent fee on all checkout bags instead. “That got folks to think about whether they wanted to use less bags and bring their own bag, which is ultimately what you want them to do,” notes Dawood. Beyond environmental issues, Dawood says she’s concerned that the “constant piling on of mandates,” whether it be in the labor space, taxes or other areas, will ultimately have a negative impact on retailers’ viability. “In Chicago, retailing is extremely competitive,” she explains. “Independent grocers have made great strides at being successful in this environment, but I’m concerned about the impact from so many mandates.” In her view, that’s why trade groups are so important in political discussions. “One of the ways to start addressing this in a real way is to make sure that when lawmakers are making decisions about more regulations, and adding more costs to doing business, that they have a better understanding of how their decisions will impact individual neighborhoods. Grocery stores are critical to neighborhoods, so there should be some real consideration about how each mandate is going to impact the likelihood of whether or not you’re going to get more grocery

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States Go on Summer Retreat Every year, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) brings together retail trade associations and grocery professionals from each state to discuss legislative issues at its State Issues Retreat. “With gridlock at the federal level in Congress, state and local issues continue to grow in importance in the public policy arena — including local ordinances, state legislation and ballot initiatives,” notes Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. At the annual retreat, Hatcher says, attendees explore critical industry issues in depth and share ideas to prepare for the upcoming legislative sessions. “Providing our members with a forum to deep dive into emerging issues with industry experts has allowed us all to be more effective at the state and local level,” she says. “As food retailers, many aspects of the business are regulated at the state or local level, and many of those same public policy issues also have the potential to transition to the federal level.” At this year’s retreat, Tanya Triche Dawood, VP and general counsel of the Springfield-based Illinois Retail Merchants Association, received the Donald H. MacManus Award in recognition of her achievement in public and regulatory affairs. One of Dawood’s most impressive accomplishments was working to help repeal the Cook County sweetened-beverage tax.

stores in every neighborhood that wants them.” Dawood says she feels that it’s more important now than ever for grocers to get involved with their local governments and state associations. “Things happen on a local level early and often. There’s no time like the present to join together with like-minded people who are in your business and have a voice at your local city hall, the town board and the state legislature. Other communities are banding together and have a voice, and if you aren’t at the table, you’re on the table.”

Things happen on a local level early and often. There’s no time like the present to join together with likeminded people who are in your business and have a voice at your local city hall, the town board and the state legislature.” —Tanya Triche Dawood, Illinois Retail Merchants Association


EQUIPMENT & DESIGN

Seasonal Displays

SPC Retail offers a modular holiday lineup of mobile merchandisers.

Wheels and Deals MOBILE MERCHANDISERS AND DISPL AY EQUIPMENT CAN MAKE FOR HAPPIER RE TAIL HOLIDAYS. By Bob Ingram

he seasons of celebration are perfect opportunities for supermarkets to drive incremental sales, making mobile merchandisers and display equipment a strategic investment for grocery retailers. “We have had success with seasonal meal planning that makes it convenient for our customers to purchase several meal options merchandised together,” says Terri Bennis, chief marketing officer at Woodbury, Minn.-based independent grocery chain Kowalski’s Markets. “Our customers look for these meal solutions and sometimes even call the stores to ask what is on display in the merchandisers during that week.” For example, Kowalski’s might team up Skuna Bay salmon in a display with a Ko-

Key Takeaways Supermarkets’ seasonal sales can be highlighted by the use of mobile merchandisers and display equipment. These items’ small footprint, easy construction, convenience and versatility make them must-haves for retailers that wish to spotlight items or cross merchandise product throughout the store. Many suppliers work directly with retailers on customized solutions.

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EQUIPMENT & DESIGN

Seasonal Displays

Kowalski's Markets' mobile merchandisers provide "a ton of flexibility," according to Chief Marketing Officer Terri Bennis.

rean kalbi marinade, a side dish and a salad. Kowalski’s recently started building all of its produce fixtures on wheels, which Bennis says provides “a ton of flexibility” for seasonal merchandising and special events like the retailer’s farmers’ market. “We also introduced a mobile hot unit for our hibachi program,” she says of the program that allows shoppers to order a customized entree from their choice of protein, vegetables and sauce. “The customer can build their own [entree] and wait [for it to be prepared], or grab one from the hot unit that is ready to go. We have seen a significant increase in sales by having them merchandised and ready to go in a mobile hot merchandiser.” Kowalski’s uses small mobile barker units for many refrigerated cross merchandising displays that highlight exclusive signature items. “We have recently found metro racking on wheels to be very effective for specialty displays. It is convenient for the customer, because it keeps the product upright and easy to shop,” Bennis says. “For additional holding power during holiday sell weeks, we convert a portion of our salad bars into holiday side displays to keep up with the demand for proprietary holiday items.”

Building the Basket

Meanwhile, at Karns Foods, in Mechanicsburg, Pa., mobile merchandisers allow the eight-store chain to introduce unique, sale or complementary products to key categories throughout the store. “Through mobile merchandisers, Karns is able to make a big impact in a small footprint,” says VP of Sales and Marketing Andrea Karns. Mobile merchandisers allow Karns to pull center store products into perishable departments. Typically, these merchandisers are used to highlight specialty or local products that connect with these departments. “The use ranges from a local wing sauce in the meat department to fruit crisp toppings in the produce department,” Karnes explains. “Each merchandiser gives Karns the opportunity to build the basket while offering a winning product.”

Hot and Cold Solutions

On-floor refrigeration, coupled with dry cross merchandising, continues to be a growing trend, notes Chris Schotsman, VP of sales and marketing at Cayuga Displays, in Cayuga, Ontario. To that end, Cayuga has developed its new Fresh Go line of products. “Fresh Go bins are mobile critical-temp merchandisers for many uses, and are plug and play,” Schotsman says of the units that come in 3-by-3-foot and 4-by-4-foot configurations. Sales lifts can be “tremendous” for retailers by taking a product out of a large case where it gets lost, and putting it right in front of the customer in a focus destination, Schotsman notes. “We have just launched our new Fresh Go cold- and hot-food bars using our own proprietary technology,” he says. “They can match

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with décor, and are mobile, and come at a price that can allow a client to try out a food bar at a much lower investment.” The key to working with retailers, Schotsman asserts, is “to engage the minds of the merchandising teams to understand how this can help their business. A challenge is when you want to create a meal/snack solution station with these units and getting the different store departments to cooperate and allow their products to be merchandised together. At the end of the day, who owns the display if there are meat, deli, bakery, produce and grocery products combined in the display?”

The End of Seasonality?

“Mobile merchandisers are the answer to the age-old ask: Drive more sales,” observes Abhiroop Dutta, director, product management, food and beverage at Phononic, in Durham, N.C. “Our customers have found that placement is one of the most crucial market and sales tactics — it’s that simple.” Dutta says that Phononic’s F200 Merchandising Freezer, described as compact, sustainable and energy-efficient, makes freedom-of-placement for perishable items a reality for food retailers and opens up new revenue possibilities for brands. That merchandiser and Phononic’s C200 Merchandising Refrigerator “effectively enable brands and retailers to offer fresh and frozen foods anywhere in the store at any time of the year — making seasonality a thing of the past.”

Royston's Hen House line encourages impulse buying.


These solid-state mobile merchandisers ensure that shoppers don’t have to go from one side of the store to the other when searching for holiday items that are related, Dutta says. “With new refrigeration and freezing technology, it’s easy to group perishable and nonperishable items together and suggest pairings for shoppers that easily translate to their holiday tables,” he says. The F200 freezer is small with flexible sizing and can be placed at checkout or anywhere in-aisle and, as Dutta notes, frozen foods don’t have to be relegated to the back of the store and can now be upfront in prime real estate and point of sale. Dutta cites recent research revealing that 85% of consumers believe that grocers should make it easier to find items, and 68% of shoppers would be willing to try new products at checkout, if they were available.

Holidays on Ice

Decorah, Iowa-based Iowa Rotocast Plastics' (IRP) most popular mobile merchandiser is its ice island, delivering a huge packout exceeding 215 single-serve beverages or 360 12-ounce cans and bottles. “Retailers can maximize their product offerings to customers,” Kerry Trenkamp, IRP’s marketing director, says of the unit. Trenkamp adds that IRP’s ice island’s durable rotomolded construction with foam insulation provides superior ice retention and

Supermarkets can become a holiday destination by creating a special swing area for holiday promotions, food tastings, and even provide a holiday concierge service for shoppers inside the store during the holidays.” —Harry Newton, SPC Retail

structural support. It features interchangeable full-size graphics on the front and sides for branding opportunities or to match décor; it also boasts a roll-out reservoir, and draining is safe, clean and simple. “Our in-house design team and on-site commercial print facility will customize our merchandisers for the holidays to help retailers capitalize on these key shopping seasons,” Trenkamp says. “Consumer impulse purchasing is directly tied first to what they see.”

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EQUIPMENT & DESIGN

Seasonal Displays

The ‘Go-To Choice’

Back on the heated side, Jasper, Ga.-based Royston LLC cites the popularity of its two-tier Hen House line of mobile merchandisers. “[It] allows rotisserie chickens, fried chicken and other ready-to-eat dinners to be placed at key impulse areas like the main checkouts or in the deli area,” says Bonnie Padgett, Royston’s VP of business development and marketing. Padgett notes that being able to bring the merchandiser to open lanes, as well as to roll it out of the way at low-use times, makes it “a go-to choice” for many retailers. “We identify the retailer’s merchandising needs, and the time, areas and customers they are targeting,” she explains. “We look at their store branding and image, and work with the broad range of materials and finishes we have available to create a merchandiser that can help increase their sales function and last for years, while supporting their overall brand objectives.” Padgett observes that signage and metal clings can be added for holiday seasons, and that “LED lighting can be specified for color-change options, offering a festive and eye-catching enhancement to holiday assortments.”

Retail Flexibility

Killion Industries, in Vista, Calif., has built multiple ISO (International Organization for Standardization) labs in-house to further develop and refine refrigeration systems to exceed current and future energy regulations. Killion VP Lance Block says that the company’s most popular mobile merchandisers are its “Fresh” PFW and FSI merchandisers. “The combination of retailer-specific décor options and patented ALR [adaptive link rate] energy-efficient condensation removal system gives retailers flexibility for secondary spot merchandising of fresh items throughout the store by easing concerns over potential slip-and-fall due to leakage,” Block adds. Block boasts that Killion is agile enough to work with retailers to create exact planogram merchandisers by making slight modifications that accentuate the featured products while maintaining energy efficiency and required certifications.

Learn to Evolve

Holly, Mich.-based SPC Retail designs and manufactures modular displays built with a patented “Kit of Parts” system, notes director of sales and marketing Harry Newton. “Grocers use our modular displays to aid in the creation of special holiday events, product promotions, and popup shops both indoors and outdoors,” Newton says. “They like the extreme durability, versatility, and fast, easy assembly of displays, which can be done by store-level associates in just a matter of minutes without the use of tools.” Newton believes that grocery is one of the last bastions of retail to

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SPC Retail features a patented "Kit of Parts" mobile merchandising system.

evolve its in-store shopping experience, but it has the benefit of observing and learning from other segments of retail. “Supermarkets can become a holiday destination by creating a special swing area for holiday promotions, food tastings, and even provide a holiday concierge service for shoppers inside the store during the holidays,” he suggests. “Gift ideas can be neatly organized and merchandised to inspire shoppers and tell a story in high-traffic focal areas around the store.” Some of SPC’s displays for holiday use include multilevel aisle merchandisers, platform displays, two-step single-sided displays and five-step mobile pyramid displays.

Creating Emotional Ties

Meridian Display, in St. Paul, Minn., is a full-service manufacturer of corrugated cardboard point-of-purchase displays. “We have a team of structural and graphic designers [and] full production capabilities, including digital printing on corrugated, which is cost-effective and ideal for short runs,” says Director of Marketing Michelle Lee. “Our services include display assembly packout and labeling for distribution.” Lee notes that Meridian’s busy season is the leadup to “Black Friday,” and that most manufacturers choose a theme specifically related to their unique product, and not to a particular holiday. However, she adds, “Some brands choose to modify their packaging and marketing specifically catering to a holiday like Christmas.” Meridian believes that tying a staple product, like Oreos, to a holiday evokes that emotional tie to the season. “For example,” Lee says, “if you put Chips Ahoy, Oreos and Ritz under and between two Christmas trees [as part of an in-store display], they are a special holiday treat, and M&Ms under a chimney in red and green colors are a festive addition.”

Meridian Displays produces corrugated cardboard point-of-purchase units.


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NONFOODS

Greeting Cards

a t s ’ e ha r e Th for T d r a C

E UIR Q E S R S. ION MENT S A E C DG OC ED OWL E Z I GN KN x E C O O F A C ara Sa R Y AV E b L r a T B W EN By REC NE W A

hether consumers want to celebrate a niece’s coming out or express their sympathy for the loss of their friend’s beloved pet, greeting card manufacturers are making sure that there’s a card for that occasion. “There’s been tremendous diversity when it comes to the development of new card lines from both small and larger publishers,” affirms Peter Doherty, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Greeting Card Association. For his part, Patrick Wallace, director of marketing at Boulder, Colo.-based Leanin’ Tree, has seen the emergence of new cards celebrating adoption, same-sex marriage, LGBTQ relationships and

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©AGC, LLC


NONFOODS

Greeting Cards

Key Takeaways Small and large publishers alike have been offering occasion cards covering a wide range of experiences. Multicultural lines commemorating the holidays and observances of various groups are also more widely available. Consumers — particularly Millennials — are willing to spend more on more elaborate cards they consider to be worth the price.

transgender transitions, among other important milestones. Edison, N.J.-based Designer Greetings recently created a line of cards for LGBTQ consumers, and Hallmark has launched Good Mail, a curated assortment that features cards for a variety of relationships and sending situations, including significant moments for the LGBTQ community (coming out, marriage or encouragement), and sympathy cards for the loss of a pet.

Cards in Hallmark's Good Mail line celebrate occasions like getting a new pet.

Galentine’s Day. “This newer occasion is a Valentine’s Day celebration of meaningful connections among female friends, and it’s seen significant increases in sales each year,” notes Garvey. Additionally, Designer Greetings’ Everyday card line includes titles to celebrate “gender reveal,” an occasion growing in popularity. According to Hallmark’s Melton, the company has recently designed cards to “help people create unexpected moments of caring, such as thanking people like hairstylists, coaches, and teachers and child care providers for all that they do, or to celebrate moments in a child’s life, like a sports achievement, a good report card or just to tell them you love them.”

Encouragement and Empathy

As people are responding more openly to life’s emotional and psychological stresses, a new wave of greeting cards in the encouragement and empathy categories has hit the market. Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets recently featured American Greetings cards with new themes such as “here for you,” “grateful for you” and “I believe in you” on a floorstand in the greeting card aisle. “Many of our new cards address situations that can be tough to talk about head-on, such as struggling with infertility, coping with cancer, support for parents going through a tough time in raising kids, or for someone unfolding a new beginning, taking the first step to make a change in their life after being in a difficult place,” says James Melton, SVP, customer development at Kansas City, Mo.-based Hallmark Cards. Designer Greetings’ ’Cause it Matters brand specifically addresses sensitive topics such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. “This line gives permission for the sender to share thoughts and find the right words to comfort the recipient,” says Dawn Garvey, the company’s CFO. Other trends include twists on traditional occasions, such as

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Wegmans featured American Greetings' Millennial-targeted cards on a floorstand near the grocer's floral department.


STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP

Gelson's Markets uses an end cap at the front of the store to display an array of premium party ware.

It’s A Smaller World

Multicultural products that appeal to various ethnic groups, including cards celebrating African-American, Chinese, Indian and Latino cultures, are also becoming a bigger part of the business. In addition to Sentimientos Sinceros, a Spanish-language series of more than 200 well-rounded and colorful cards, Designer Greetings markets Sinceres Sentiments, a French-Canadian card line with 80-plus titles, and Sentimenti Sinceri, an Italian-language line of cards. American Greetings expanded its offerings to include Black History Month, Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year, and milestone Hispanic occasions like Quincinera in its La Rosa card line. Wegmans merchandises the company’s L’Chayim to Life! collection of Jewish cards on a side wing in the card aisle. Hallmark recently introduced four multicultural card lines (Eight Bamboo, Golden Thread, Uplifted and Love Ya Mucho) celebrating the Chinese, Indian, African-American and Latino cultures. “Asian consumers are the fastest-growing multicultural segment in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center, and Eight Bamboo and Golden Thread reflect the beauty PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

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NONFOODS

Greeting Cards

and symbolism of Chinese and Indian cultures, respectively,” observes Melton. Cards help celebrate key holidays such as Lunar New Year and Diwali, and culturally significant moments such as a baby’s 100th day and first birthday.

The Millennial Factor

Many of the new card lines are designed to capture the attention of the critical Millennial consumer, who is becoming a bigger force in the category. “Millennials are the fastest-growing segment of the card market and are spending more money on greeting cards than Boomers now, and have been for a couple of years,” says George White, general manager of consumer products at CM Paula Co., the Mason, Ohio-based company that markets the Up With Paper greeting card line. Leanin’ Tree’s Wallace notes that Millenials are driving sales dollars because they are more likely to purchase higher-priced cards. “Millennial consumers are more likely to shop local retailers that carry alternative greeting card lines that feel relevant and authentic to their relationships, are unique, and reflect their voice and more contemporary design aesthetics,” he points out. “They are more likely to buy higher-priced cards that feature letterpress, are handmade or incorporate high-design embellishments — all of which dictate higher prices.”

Price Matters

Continues Wallace: “Consumers are actually less price sensitive than previously thought and will pay more for the right card than in years past. The success of heavily embellished cards with elaborate add-ons like jewels, 3D design elements, light or sound features, or handassembled details make it clear that consumers are not afraid of a higher price for a genuinely special card with high perceived value.” “The grocery channel needs to offer a more diversified line and not be afraid of price points — some of our best-selling designs are $10.99,” asserts White, of CM Paula Co. “The diversified offering does not need to be huge, and sometimes is not even merchandised in the regular card aisle.” Many retail chains have been successful with higher-priced card brands. Cliff Harding, buyer at Oklahoma

Consumers are actually less price sensitive than previously thought and will pay more for the right card than in years past.” —Patrick Wallace, Leanin’ Tree

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Consumers are willing to trade up to premium brands in both the card and wrap categories.

City-based Homeland Food Stores, notes that there’s no customer resistance to more expensive cards from Fairfield, Calif.-based Papyrus that he stocks at the grocer’s 30 locations. “There hasn’t been any pushback on higher prices. Some of the best-sellers have been musical cards,” he says. “Customers are buying cards with more embellishments that have simple messages inside.” Gelson’s Markets, a 27-store chain based in Encino, Calif., carries both Papyrus and Charlottesville, Va.-based Caspari in its greeting card aisle. Along with single and boxed cards in its 14-foot Caspari set, the chain offers high-end paper tableware. White cites Wegmans as a retailer that’s been successful offering higher-priced cards, along with mid-priced lines. Meijer, Schnucks and Haggens have added in higher-priced cards with more bells and whistles in alternative locations such as floral, he adds. As in most categories, display is critical to sales of greeting cards. “Consumers still enjoy a tactile, haptic shopping experience where greeting cards and other gift products are concerned,” says Wallace. “Nearly 30 percent of consumer decision-making is based solely on packaging, so displaying a full range of product in a cohesive style or color will create a billboard effect for a specific holiday or occasion that creates a strong visual impact for the shopper.” Gelson’s uses an end cap near the front of the store to display design-themed products from Papyrus, including boxed cards, plates, napkins, stationery items and gifts. Wegmans prompts consumers to make additional purchases by seeding sticker packs in with cards and adding signage suggesting that customers “add stickers to your card.” The chain, like many others, has added racks and j-hooks containing gift cards in the card aisle to make gift giving as easy as possible for consumers.


EDITORS’ PICKS

Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Sustainability’s in the Bag

With the kids safely back in school, Lunchskins, inventor of Recyclable + Sealable Paper Food Storage Bags and the Reusable Food-Safe, Dishwasher-Safe Food Storage Bag, has added to its paper bag line Unbleached + Non-Wax Food Storage Bags. Made with Kraft paper from FSC Certified Forests, the item takes Lunchskins, whose products aim to promote sustainability and style, to a whole other level of Earth-friendliness. Available as 50-count boxes in either Avocado or Chevron print that also include 60 fun, recyclable stickers, the easy-to-useonce-and-toss-responsibly bags retail for a suggested range of $3.99-$4.99. www.lunchskins.com

Free to Enjoy Hummus

More Peas, Please

An addition to the popular “Better than Junk Food” product line, Peatos Crunchy Rings (last two items on the right in the image) have rolled out in Classic Onion and Fiery Hot flavors, along with a refreshed look and feel for the snack brand made from peas rather than the traditional corn. The refresh was necessary, according to Peatos CEO Nick Desai, because “as we grew and listened to feedback from loyal fans, we realized that the Peatos products were amazing, but our branding was missing the mark. We were not clearly communicating our product or value proposition. As a result, we spent a considerable amount of time developing a new approach that better aligns with what we had set out to create.” Featuring the updated branding, Crunchy Rings have launched at Kroger stores nationwide and made their debut at last month’s Fresh Summit Conference + Expo, hosted by the Produce Marketing Association. A 4-ounce pillow pack of the snack retails for a suggested $3.59, while a 0.6-ounce bag goes for a suggested $1.29. https://peatos.com

The Power to Soothe

Wedderspoon, the No.1-selling manuka honey brand in the United States, debuted a functional wellness product line, Bee Propolis Throat Sprays with Monofloral Manuka Honey, at Natural Products Expo East in September. According to the company, just three sprays of the product help soothe throats and support immune systems. The line comes in Warming Orange Spice, Cooling Chamomile Mint and Lemon Ginger varieties. Both manuka honey and propolis are whole foods known not only for their nutritional attributes, but also for their functional and biological properties. Available in 1-fluid-ounce bottles suitable for traveling and everyday use, Bee Propolis Throat Sprays with Monofloral Manuka Honey retail for a suggested $9.99 per bottle. https://wedderspoon.com

Known for its non-GMO, small-batch hummus and salsa recipes, Lilly’s Foods has now come out with a first-of-its-kind Organic Keto-Cauliflower Hummus line in Original, Golden Milk, Buffalo and Ranch Dill flavors. The innovative item, a NEXTY-award winner for Best New Organic Food at Natural Products Expo East in September, was created with the aim of providing a keto-friendly, low-carb option for consumers seeking to meet their lifestyle goals while still enjoying the savory flavor of hummus. The vegan, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified, USDA Organic- and kosher-certified line not only appeals to followers of the ketogenic diet, but also to those with other dietary restrictions. An 8-ounce container retails for a suggested $3.99 in the refrigerated deli case. https://lillysfoodscom

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Make a Hash of it

Leader of the Packs

Dole Packaged Foods LLC has brought out Dole Fridge Packs, a line of shelf-stable packaged fruit in clear containers that conveniently snap, stack and store in the refrigerator, so consumers can eat a portion and save the rest for later. The item comes in four all-natural varieties in juice, each offering 3.5 servings of fruit, at 80-90 calories per serving: Pineapple Chunks, Mandarin Oranges, Peach Slices and Mixed Fruit. Besides being enjoyed right from the container, the packs can be used in salads, stir-fries, baking and more. A 15-ounce easy-open, resealable, space-saving, BPA-free package of any of the naturally gluten-free, vitamin C-rich, Non-GMO fruit varieties retails for a suggested $2.49. https://dolesunshine.com

Sprouting Up

Silver Hills Bakery, a Canadian purveyor of sprouted products, has perfected the formula of its sprouted organic bagels, which now also come in updated flavors: Plain, Everything, Sesame Sunflower and Cinnamon Raisin. The bagels combine sprouted organic whole grains and organic wheat flour for a soft, chewy texture. All of the brand’s baked goods are non-GMO, plant-based, and made with nutrient-rich, high-fiber whole grains sprouted in clean, cold Canadian water. The company sprouts all grains under optimal, carefully controlled conditions, soaking them for many hours with just the right amount of moisture and warmth for important enzymes to reach peak activation. Sprouting grains ensures that blood sugar levels remain steady, providing energy for a full day’s work or play, and essential nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin C are made more available to the body, giving it a boost of focus and mental alertness. Further, all Silver Hills Bakery products are certified Glyphosate Residue Free and display the BioChecked Non Glyphosate Certified seal. Joining a portfolio of items that also includes sprouted breads, buns and tortillas, Silver Hills Organic Sprouted Power Bagels retail for a suggested $5.99 per five-count bag. https://silverhillsbakery.ca

Hormel’s Mary Kitchen Hash, the United States’ top-selling hash brand, has launched the line’s first offering outside of the can since it was introduced 70 years ago. The additions are two varieties of frozen hash — corned beef hash and turkey sausage hash — each of which contain more than 9 grams of protein per serving. Both varieties feature a hearty blend of quality meats, roasted potatoes, onions, red bell peppers and a touch of select seasonings. According to Hormel, two further varieties — a breakfast hash made with pork breakfast sausage, roasted red potatoes, onions, red bell peppers and bacon, and a superfoods hash crafted from corned beef, roasted red potatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, mushrooms, onions, peppers and peas — are slated to join the frozen lineup later this year. An 18-ounce bag of either currently available variety, providing four servings, retails for a suggested range of $6.49-$6.99. www.hormelfoods.com

Making Waves

Ripple Foods has introduced a line of Superfoods Milk that combines the clean plant protein of the brand’s nondairy milk with the added functional benefit of superfood ingredients. Each serving contains 8 grams of high-quality plant-based protein, as well as 6-7 grams of sugar and 40% of the daily recommended amount of calcium, and offers a lightly sweetened, balanced taste that can be enjoyed on its own or used in recipes. The line’s three flavors were thoughtfully crafted with distinct, vibrant ingredients: earthy, subtly sweet Matcha for clean, calm energy; golden Turmeric blended with warming chai spices; and berry-forward Acai packed with antioxidants. A 32-ounce bottle of the 100% vegan, lactose-, soy-, nut- and gluten-free beverage retails for a suggested $4.99. Ripple Superfoods Milk will be available exclusively in Target stores through 2019, with additional retail expansion on tap for 2020. www.ripplefoods.com PROGRESSIVE GROCER November 2019

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ADVERTISER INDEX

American Greetings Corporation

75

Biro Manufacturing

53

Brookshire Grocery Company

29

Catalina Marketing

34

Curaleaf Hemp

4

CANADIAN MARKETS • Convenience • Pharmacy • Foodservice ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINES S STAFF

Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA)

58

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Jennifer Litterick jlitterick@ensembleiq.com

Forte Products

71

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Joel Hughes jhughes@ensembleiq.com

Goya Foods Inc.

17

Iovate Health Sciences Int’l Inc.

63

Litehouse 13 MasonWays Indestructible Plastics

59

Messe Berlin GmbH

25

Nestlé-Purina 39 Pfizer Consumer Health Request Foods Inc.

Back Cover 28

Saputo Cheese USA, Inc.

7

Shenandoah Valley Organic

3

Smart.Market for Business

Inside Back Cover

Sopexa USA

49

Stew Leonard’s, Inc.

24

Supervalu Inc.

61

SweetLeaf 15 The J.M. Smucker Company The Kroger Co. Tyson - Brand Solutions

82

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

Inside Front Cover 23 9

Uncommon Flavors of Europe

51

Yakult USA, Inc.

19

progressivegrocer.com

GROCERY GROUP PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672 jschrei@ensembleiq.com SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER (NEW ENGLAND, SOUTHEAST) Maggie Kaeppel 708-565-5350 mkaeppel@ensembleiq.com SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER (CA, PACIFIC NORTHWEST) Judy Hayes 925-785-9665 jhayes@ensembleiq.com SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER (MIDWEST) Theresa Kossack 214-226-6468 tkossack@ensembleiq.com REGIONAL SALES MANAGER (SOUTHWEST) Tammy Rokowski 248-514-9500 trokowski@ensembleiq.com ADVERTISING MANAGER Jackie Batson 224-632-8183 jbatson@ensembleiq.com

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