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EXCLUSIVE: 2019 Category Captains Awards — who won and why

THINKING SMALLER Stew Leonard’s growth strategy revealed HOOK, LINE AND SINKER Publix all in on sustainable seafood commitment FIND YOUR FRESH Center plate strategies for the new year

n o i t a v o n In u t l o o k O

The technologies and trends that will transform grocery

December 2019

Volume 98, Number 12

A promise from prairie to plate What the Open Prairie¨ Natural* Meats Openness Promise means To better serve all our partners and customers, we pledge to share our production processes from prairie to plate, including: › Wholesome, Uncomplicated Products: Made from animals raised with no antibiotics ever and no added hormones or growth promotants.** › Complete Traceability: All cattle and hogs are traceable to place of birth through maintained records and unique identification. › Quality Control and Consistency: Dedicated facilities ensure a consistent product you can depend on, crafted by a single workforce.

Start the conversation here:


Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients. |

®/© 2019 Tyson Foods, Inc.


Federal regulations prohibit the use of added hormones or growth promotants in pork.


Contents 12.19

Volume 98 Issue 12

68 Features



Deserted Aisle Land

In the move toward shopper-centricity, don’t get marooned.


2020 Innovation Outlook



February 2020

Category Management Solutions

Shopper-centricity, superconsumers and thoughts from the top. 68 STORE OF THE MONTH

Master of Fresh

The technology and trends that are fast becoming table stakes as they transform the grocery business.



At Stew Leonard’s, the path to growth is paved with perishables, private brands — and puppets.



Plant-Based: Yeah, It’s a Thing

Gen Z in the Workplace


Top Women in Grocery Dazzle at Annual Event


Feminine Hygiene and Sanitary Protection





Retail Solutions for Healthy Resolutions PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019


Contents 12.19

Volume 98 Issue 12


Center Piece

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

76 GROCERY GROUP PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672

Produce takes its place as a main dish.



EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR James Dudlicek 224-632-8238

Publix Takes the Lead on Seafood Sustainability

MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603 SENIOR EDITOR Gina Acosta 813-417-4149 SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Abby Kleckler 773-992-4405

Major changes are happening in the grocer’s seafood department.

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS D. Gail Fleenor, Jenny McTaggart, Lynn Petrak and Barbara Sax ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Maggie Kaeppel (NEW ENGLAND, SOUTHEAST) 708-565-5350 SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Judy Hayes (CA, PACIFIC NORTHWEST) 925-785-9665 SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Theresa Kossack (MIDWEST) 214-226-6468 REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Tammy Rokowski (SOUTHWEST) 248-514-9500 JUNIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER-GROCERY GROUP Natalie Meehan p 773-992-4410 m 619 823-4926 ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373




MARKETING MARKETING MANAGER Carly Kilgore 201-855-7601

Getting Engaged

Walmart and other retailers are using the latest workforce systems to attract, retain and better manage employees.

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



Lasting Experience Grocers should look at GM as an integral part of their full offering for shoppers.








The Way Forward arlier this year, I wrote to you about “Our Future Together” — see the April 2019 issue — and I felt it was vital to revisit that communication, but with an even greater view forward. I mentioned that Progressive Grocer was on a mission to be more “progressive than ever,” and that being nearly 100 years old didn’t mean we were bound by the old way of doing things in our content and in our products. To the contrary, PG will celebrate its next 100 years by being the brand that’s ahead of what’s next in a massive industry being tested by disruption and that’s never been more in need of the information, insights and engagement opportunities that PG provides. Each of us here at PG — internally and externally — are focused every day on the future and the exciting things we have planned for 2020. We plan to produce content that not only informs, but also inspires. We will produce products and events that engage on levels that exceed what we’ve come to expect as acceptable, and we will continue building a community that connects retailers, suppliers and solution providers. You will see a content, sales and marketing team focused on what matters: the delivery of solutions at every platform that are bold, innovative and generate the desired outcomes that you expect from the investment of your time and dollars. I promised that PG would be more progressive than ever. All of us take that promise seriously. At the end of each day, we are accountable to ourselves and to all of you. Our success is a result of what we do for you. Your success is a result of how we do it for you. I invite you to grab a seat and jump on board, and as always, feel free to reach out to any one of us for anything.

John Schrei Group Publisher Progressive Grocer/ Store Brands and Retail Leader (248) 613-8672


You will see a content, sales and marketing team focused on what matters: the delivery of solutions at every platform that are bold, innovative and generate the desired outcomes that you expect from the investment of your time and dollars.

CORRECTION The GenNext Awards feature in the November 2019 issue of Progressive Grocer misreported the age of Floyd Welton, division produce manager in The Kroger Co.’s Mid-Atlantic division. Welton is 36 years old.

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American Heart Month Black History Month Canned Food Month Great American Pie Month National Bake for Family Fun Month National Cherry Month

National Grapefruit Month National Hot Breakfast Month National Macadamia Nut Month National Snack Food Month



National Baked Alaska Day

National Dark Chocolate Day


Groundhog Day


National Carrot Cake Day

National Tater Tot Day


National Pizza Day. Encourage shoppers to make their own, rather than order in, and share the results on Pinterest.


National Almond Day


National Dog Biscuit Day. Run a BOGO special for pet parents.


National Cream Cheese Brownie Day


National Homemade Soup Day. Invite shoppers to submit their cold-weather favorites on your website.


National Peppermint Patty Day


National Chocolate Fondue Day. Run an in-store demo on how to prepare and enjoy this classic.


Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday (1809) National Plum Pudding Day


National Cabbage Day. It’s time this neglected vegetable was shown some love.


National Tortilla Chip Day. They’re not just for Super Bowl snacking.



Bob Marley’s Birthday (1945)





National Fettuccine Alfredo Day

National Frozen Yogurt Day


Galentine’s Day. BFFs who shop together should get a discount.

Valentine’s Day. Make sure the floral department and greeting card aisle are well stocked.

National Gumdrop Day

National Tortellini Day










National Clam Chowder Day

National Pistachio Day

Presidents Day National Drink Wine Day

Fat Tuesday

National Chocolate Mint Day

Ash Wednesday

National Muffin Day. Today and tomorrow, feature the day’s treats in the in-store bakery.

National Protein Day

National Sticky Bun Day

National Chili Day

National Strawberry Day

National Chocolate Soufflé Day


National Boy Scout Day. Run a healthy-foods store tour for your local troop.

National Margarita Day

National Leap Day. An extra day to keep selling.

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As members of Origin Green - Ireland’s leading edge national food quality and sustainability programme - their work is also measured and independently audited to drive continuous improvements in food safety, traceability, animal welfare and greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more about how we work in harmony with nature like nowhere else in the world, visit


Research & Analysis

Plant-Based: Yeah, It’s a Thing You can’t look back at 2019 — or ahead to 2020 — without acknowledging that plant-based proteins are here to stay. The immense popularity of brands, such as Impossible Burger, Beyond Meat and Nestlé’s Awesome Burger (which launched at Datassential’s Foodscape experience in September), is driving consumers to try all kinds of vegetable proteins. Pay close attention to how these appear on restaurant menus, as they can be great ways to offer new items in your deli and prepared food sections. Fava Beans MAC stage: Inception — Ethnic markets, ethnic independents, and fine dining. Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation and presentation.

Chickpeas MAC stage: Proliferation — Proliferation-stage trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal. Often combined with popular applications (on a burger, pasta, etc.) The chickpea is a staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine — both hot right now — not only as a solo snack, but also as the primary ingredient in hummus. These nutty beans are also often added to vegetarian dishes as a protein-rich alternative to meat.

Peas 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.

On 15.6% of U.S. restaurant menus

Peas are often used as a side dish or cooked into soups, stir-fries, casseroles and many other savory dishes. While they can also be seasoned and eaten as a crunchy snack, their current popularity is as a protein replacement. Pea protein is being used in smoothies and shakes — and even as a component in the popular Beyond Burger.

On 2.3% of U.S. restaurant menus

Up 17% over the past four years

On 30.2% of U.S. menus

Up 143% on menus over the past four years

81% of consumers know it, 55% have tried it

Up 0% over the past four years

On 1.3% of U.S. restaurant menus

63% of consumers know it, 33% have tried it

Down 12% on menus over the past four years

Menu Example Jamba Mango Chia Omega Smoothie with Greek Yogurt Double up on the nutrients with Jamba’s craveable combo of mango and a chia topper. It delivers 15 grams of quality complete protein from Greek yogurt, vitamin A from real mangos, and fiber and omega-3 power from chia seeds.

Menu Example Potbelly Gonzo Bonzo Salad Chickpeas, hard-boiled egg, crumbled blue cheese, grape tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and diced red onion on a bed of fresh romaine, iceberg and spinach.

While this African-original legume might go well with a nice chianti, per Hannibal Lecter, it’s poised to pop across a number of trends. Also known as a broad bean, the item is used in a wide variety of cuisines, including one of the hottest: Mediterranean. It can be fried and salted as a snack, or served in a salad or pasta dish.

49% of consumers know it, 21% have tried it Menu Example Aba Avocado & Fava Bean Spread Served with house bread; includes jalapenos, scallions, mint and lemon.


Chia 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.

These small oval seeds are increasingly found on menus as a protein alternative. But chia’s nutrition-dense makeup and low calorie count make it highly desirable for consumers interested in functional foods. The seeds are commonly found in smoothies but are also used as a salad topping.

92% of consumers know it, 82% have tried it Menu Example McDonald’s McAloo Tikki Burger From India, a toasted bun filled with a veggie patty made with potatoes, pea and seasoning reminiscent of samosas, and topped with fresh red onions, tomato slices and an eggless creamy tomato mayo.


Pin-Up Hook

All Wire Hook Ball End or 90° Ball End Safety Tip

Pegboard Extenders

Quick Back For Flip Scan or Right Angle Scan Arms

All Wire Scan Loop Hook Flip Scan, FISH Tip and Metal Plate

Safety Loop Slatwall Hook












All Wire Flip Scan, FISH Tip, or Metal Plate Scan Hook

All Wire Right Angle Mount Scan Hook

Standard All Wire Safety Loop Hook

Pegboard Sign Arms


Flat Back Flip Scan or FISH Tip Scan Hook


All Wire Flip Scan Scan-It

All Wire Flip Scan Scan-It

Anti-Sweep Display Hook Flat Back Design


Single Prong Slatwall Hook Regular or Narrow Back


Flip Scan Slatwall Hook Regular or Narrow Back

Slatwall FISH Tip Scan Hook


Peg Hook Overlay Converts All Wire Hooks to Scan Hooks

Flat Back Flip Scan or FISH Tip Scan Hook

For over 50 years, Trion has been the world’s leading manufacturer of display and scan hooks and display components for retail. The firm is rated as one of the Top 50 North American Retail and Point-Of-Purchase Fixture Makers earning over 120 patents. Additional lines include shelf management, labeling systems, cooler merchandising, bar merchandisers, tray systems, and anti-theft. Trion is a recognized Non-Compete Vender in display design, supplying only components and custom elements to the trade. ©2019 Trion Industries, Inc.

G R I D / C R O S S B A R

Single Prong Hook for Grid

Flip Scan or FISH Tip Scan Arm for Loop Hook


Bar Hooks

Safety Loop Hook for Grid

S T R A I G H T - E N T R Y

Standard, Medium, Heavy Attached Back Straight Entry Hook

Tri-Scan Safety Loop Straight Entry Hook

Tri-Lok Straight Entry Hook

Tri-Scan Heavy Duty Safety Loop Straight Entry Hook

Straight Entry Auto-Feed Pusher Hook

Tri-Scan Straight Entry Hook

Quick Back Anti-Sweep Straight Entry Scan Hook

Picture Frame Displayer Pegboard or Slatwall

Heavy-Duty Utility Loop Hook for Pegboard and Slatwall

Auto-Feed Pusher Hook

Double Arm Heavy-Duty Utility Hook

Two-Piece Swiveling J-Hooks For Tag Channel

Auto-Feed Tray

Two-Piece Swiveling J-Hook Top Mount

Scan Hook with ScanLock

Display, Scan and Specialty Hooks Shelf Management Systems | Bar Merchandising Systems Cooler and Freezer Merchandising Systems Anti-Theft and Security Systems Clear Scan Storewide Label Holder Systems

Swivel Scan Flip Scan , FISH Tip, Metal Plate Straight Entry Scan Hook

Plastic or Metal Quick Back Flip Scan Straight Entry Hook

Tri-Scan Flip Scan or FISH TIp Straight Entry Scan Hook

C O M P L E X / C U S T O M

Literature Pocket


Steelback Straight Entry Hook

Flip Scan or FISH Tip Scan Arm for Loop Hook

Narrow Back Single Prong Hook for Cross Bar

Plastic or Metal Quick Back Right Angle Straight Entry

Steelscan Flip Scan, FISH Tip or Metal Plate Straight Entry


Super Heavy-Duty Utility Hooks Pegboard or Slatwall

One-Piece Swiveling Metal Plate Scan J-Hook

Rack or Wire Grid Sign Arm

Double Arm Super Heavy Duty Utlity Hooks w/Pins

Guarded Scanning J-Hook For Tag Channel

Anti-Sweep All Wire Hook

Trion Industries, Inc. 800-444-4665


Shelf Stoppers

Shelf Stoppers


ending April 2, 2016) Health and(52 weeks Beauty

Basket Facts

Total Department Performance Health and Beauty

Latest 52 Wks W/E 10/05/19

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 10/06/18

Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 10/07/17




Top Health and Beauty Supercateogories by Dollar Sales Hair Care

Upper Respiratory

Oral Hygiene

Cosmetics and Nail Grooming

Vitamins and Supplements

How much

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

on various health products?



because it’s The average quick andAmerican easy

household spends:



because it tastes great





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

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

0 Latest 52 Wks W/E 10/05/19


Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 10/06/18

3% Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 10/07/17

Source: Nielsen, Total U.S. (All outlets combined) – includes grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, select dollar stores, select warehouse clubs and military commissaries (DeCA) OCCASION MEAL ITEM for the 52 weeks ending Oct. 5, 2019 29% TYPE CLASS 62% 35% 61% “Health and beauty continues to see strong performance, up over $1.3 billion in year-over-year sales. Growth has been bolstered by items within ear care, deodorants, and vitamins and supplements. Notably, the burden of trust with facial DINNER LUNCH OTHER SIDE DISH MAIN ENTRÉE OTHER skin care products may be shifting. With strong growth from brands of all sizes, consumers are willing to care for and cleanse their skin with a wide assortment of products. Store brands in particular saw nearly 11% dollar growth for facial skin care. Health-and-wellness products must align with the right strategic ingredients, attributes and values in order to continue to entice consumers. From time savings achieved through multipurpose beauty care to environmental appeal through sustainable packaging, brands must demonstrate how their products pay back to individuals and to the planet.”

$8.68 9%

per trip on earit’scare, because 7%healthy higher and thannutritious a year ago


because it’s low in calories, fat and sugar


per trip on foot care, down 9.7% from last year

$27.37 per trip on facial skin care, 1% more than a year ago

—Lauren Fernandes, Manager-Strategy and Analytics, Nielsen

Generational Snapshot Which cohort is spending, on average, the most per trip on vitamins and supplements?


Gen Xers


The Greatest Generation





Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Sept. 28, 2019 versus year-ago


$45.40 per trip on medical accessories, 1% more than a year ago

Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Sept. 28, 2019 versus year-ago.

80 years of French Artisanship and tradition have made Président® the #1 butter in France and leading cheese brand in Europe. ©2019 Lactalis American Group, Inc., Buffalo, NY 14220. Président is a ® of B.S.A.


Learn more at

Visit us during the Winter Fancy Food Show at booth #2251 - South Hall.


Global New Products Database

Feminine Hygiene and Sanitary Protection Market Overview

The feminine care market is moving further toward a competitive imbalance, with Procter & Gamble becoming more dominant and private label encroaching on the position of smaller players.

A rapidly aging consumer base makes growth a challenge, but there are opportunities. Natural products, improving consumer brand involvement and durable sanitary protection suggest new paths for innovation in a cost-constrained market.

Key Issues

Products are disproportionately aimed at reproductive-age consumers, so the aging U.S. society negates market growth.

Mintel research finds that 71% of women used sanitary protection products in 2016. By the end of 2017, just 66% reported using these products, menopause being the key factor behind this change. What’s more, there’s a large gap between the number of consumers who say they want natural/organic products and those who actually buy them.


What Does It Mean? It will become essential for sanitary protection brands to ensure that products for light bladder leakage are seamlessly integrated into feminine care portfolios to meet the evolving needs of the aging population. Considering that postmenopausal women are the fastest-growing age group, brands are missing an opportunity to sell products across the life-stage continuum. For example, products that relieve the vaginal pain, itching and dryness associated with menopause could futureproof portfolios. Brands must also ensure that they market bladder leakage products to pregnant women who may be experiencing this issue for the first time. This will help shore up loyalty among women as they age out of the sanitary protection category and need products for light to heavy bladder leakage. The natural feminine care sector is small but is growing faster than the broader market. While many of these brands are sold exclusively online, some are migrating onto the shelves of major retailers like Walmart and Target, and this suggests a transition from niche to mainstream.


60+ sessions led by retailers for retailers – all designed to give you actionable ideas to drive immediate growth in your business. Over 400 exhibitors representing the diverse range of product categories you need to stay updated on new products and innovations. Take advantage of a new Tuesday Schedule which includes lunch on the show floor along with the ability to continue your education in the middle of the action in the new Education Theater without leaving the Show Floor! Take advantage of pairing your Show attendance with familyfriendly networking opportunities including golf outings, shopping trips, zoo visits, sailing excursions, craft beer tasting events and store tours across Southern California. New registrations options, including the ‘Bring the Team Bundle’, provide the most cost-effective pricing for total team member education. Bring your entire team to the NGA Show and take home ideas that will drive growth for your organization.

REGISTER TODAY for 10% off with code PG1. Act fast and save – advance rates are in effect through December 13, 2019.




Retail Solutions for Healthy Resolutions HERE ARE 5 WAYS THAT CONSUMERS CAN TR ANSFORM THEIR LIVES IN THE NE W YE AR. ost consumers want to live happy, healthy and active lives through healthier eating and exercise. Food retailers can become trusted advocates by supporting healthy resolutions. Offer mealtime inspiration to help shoppers make good dietary choices in a timepressed world. Resolution 1

Eat More Plants

Plant-forward eating will be a growing trend throughout 2020. Most people understand that significant health benefits are associated with eating more produce, yet they struggle with how to consistently incorporate more fruits and vegetables into meals and snacks. Skip the lengthy lectures on “why,” and focus on “how” instead. Showcase easy and delicious ways to take a plant-centric approach, using various forms. Fresh, canned, dried, frozen or 100 percent juice and blended smoothies all help contribute to fruit and veggie success. Link fresh perimeter foods with center store through cross promotion and recipe ideas. Produce for Better Health Foundation’s Have A Plant campaign offers new research and digital assets at

Resolution 4

Shift to Healthier Food and Beverage Choices

The term “healthier” encompasses both personal impact and sustainability practices to protect the planet for future generations. Consumers seek clarity and accuracy to help answer questions relating to these issues. Be consistent across departments and highlight messaging to help consumers shop for healthier food and beverage choices while meeting their demands for variety and transparency. Resolution 5

Resolution 2

Limit Added Sugars, Saturated Fats and Sodium

Many shoppers define “healthy” as the absence of other perceived “bad stuff” beyond added sugars, saturated fats and excess sodium. Some consumers want foods to be free from growth hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, pesticides, gluten, wasteful packaging, excessive processing, and preservatives and other additives, as personal needs and values dictate. In addition, consumers look for functional foods that promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease. Resolution 3

Eat Seafood Twice a Week

Retail seafood sales volumes have slumped in recent years. Nutrition guidelines suggest eating seafood twice a week, however, to reap unique health benefits for the brain, eyes, heart and bones, and as an excellent source of high-quality protein. Be prepared to accurately answer consumers’ questions about sustainable seafood practices, wild-caught versus farmed, modern aquaculture practices, seafood quality, and safety. The Seafood Nutrition Partnership offers resources at


Fuel Up for Fitness

As consumers dive into new fitness programs, they look for foods and beverages to fuel up before, during and after exercise. Retail dietitians can host Fuel Up for Fitness store tours with food, beverage and recipe tasting stations to support optimal performance and recovery. Whole foods such as honey, eggs, potatoes, bananas, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, hummus, oatmeal and chocolate milk stack up quite well alongside specially formulated sports nutritionals, including beverages, snack bars and gels. Karen Buch, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who specializes in retail dietetics and food and culinary nutrition communications. One of the first supermarket dietitians, she is now founder of and principal consultant at Nutrition Connections LLC, providing consulting services nationwide. You can connect with her on Twitter @karenbuch and at

Wildly Good ! Give your customers what they want — real food that’s healthy, delicious, and sustainable. There’s no end to what’s good about wild-caught seafood from Alaska.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is your resource for wild seafood — nutrition, merchandising materials, training, recipes and more. Visit


Gen Z in the Workplace THIS DEMOGRAPHIC DIFFERS FROM PRE VIOUS GENERATIONS — AND WE CAN LE ARN A THING OR T WO FROM THEM. eneration Z has arrived, and is entering the workforce. By the numbers, they make up 23.4% of the U.S. population and a third of the world population. It’s undeniable that they’re going to make a huge impact on the world, the economy and the workplace. Anticipating this, Network of Executive Women, in collaboration with Deloitte, recently released the “Generation Z Report.” Based on data from more than 1,500 Gen Z respondents, the report separates the myths about Gen Zers from the facts, and takes a deep dive into how members of this generation will impact our workplaces.

What Do We Know About Gen Z?

Most of us aren’t total strangers to this rising generation. Many of us have — or, until recently, had — Gen Zers in our homes. In fact, my own children are Gen Zers, and that’s one of the reasons that I’ve found this generation so fascinating: The world they know is vastly different from the one that I came up in. They grew up totally immersed in technology, they watched their parents struggle financially during the most devastating points of the 2008 recession, and as they’ve grown, they’ve been cognizant of the rising cost of living and higher education. What I love about the findings presented in this report is that they give a three-dimensional and nuanced look at who Gen Zers are and how they think about the world of work. Here are some of the key findings, in a nutshell: Gen Zers don’t want to be put into a box: One key difference between Gen Zers and past generations is that while they’re willing to sacrifice some level of personal fulfillment for financial stability, they aren’t interested in a job that puts them into a box. They want to expand their skills and actively seek opportunities to do so. Gen Zers are diverse … and they care about diversity: Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in history, but they’re also diverse in their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. They prioritize diversity, looking at it as more than just a box to be checked, and expect diversity in marketing and business as well. Gen Zers care about education: Gen Zers consider a traditional four-year college education highly important and are quickly becoming the most educated — and indebted — generation in history.


One of the most interesting findings is that Gen Zers are the generation most likely to demand a shift in the power dynamic between employees and employers. The report predicts that shrinking talent pools, combined with the need for next-generation skills, will put incoming employees into a position to ask for the things they want out of the workplace. Gen Z is different from previous generations, in that they don’t want to start their own businesses or work from home like the Millennials who preceded them. What they do want is to lend their skills to companies that will offer them flexibility and the chance to act entrepreneurially in personalized, rather than cookie-cutter, roles. These young people are attracted to opportunities that will keep them interested while allowing them to continue developing their skills. Many Gen Zers look to tech as an industry where they can attain these things. Out of the 1,500 surveyed, 51% of respondents ranked tech as a top industry to work in. Interestingly, only 34% of Gen Z females seek technology roles, compared with

73% of Gen Z males. This will certainly have implications for tech companies aiming to bolster diversity among their ranks. Organizations that want to attract young talent are going to need to change their approaches to hiring, developing and retaining their workforces. They’ll also need to focus on creating diverse and inclusive workplaces, and to consider their reputation with Gen Zers before they try to attract them. They may even need to create latticed career paths with multiple work formats or introduce internal marketplaces to match projects to needed skill sets. This sounds like drastic change, and if you know me, you also know that I’m not afraid of change. Businesses should be prepared to make changes to create workplaces that attract all kinds of employees and keep them happy, too.

What Can We Learn from Gen Z?

As I’ve toured the country and discussed this groundbreaking report, I’ve thought a lot about the impact that Gen Zers are making on the world of work. There’s something admirable about following one’s interests, staying true to one’s beliefs and asking for what one wants in life, at work as well as outside of it. Those are the hallmarks of this new generation, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what they’ll bring to the workplace.

As women, we can learn a lot from this generation. There’s something so powerful about being confident in your needs and being brave enough to voice them in your workplace. Asking for what we want could be the key to attaining gender parity. Without speaking truth to power and demanding what we want, drastic change won’t come. To read more about our findings and suggested tactical actions for employers, download the full Gen Z report at source=EnsenbleIQ&utm_medium=Article-Sept&utm_ campaign=GenZresearch. Editor’s Note: In November, NEW and Deloitte gave a presentation based on the findings of this report during the Leadership Development Program portion of Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Top Women in Grocery event in Orlando, Fla.

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

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2019 Top Women in Grocery Gala

Top Women in Grocery Dazzle at Annual Event HONOREES CELEBR ATED IN ORL ANDO, FL A. By Abby Kleckler rogressive Grocer honored the 2019 Top Women in Grocery at its annual event in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 6-7 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. Nearly 700 people gathered to celebrate the 393 honorees and their achievements in the industry. The event started with an evening cocktail reception before attendees gathered the next morning for the Leadership Development Program. Stephanie Robertson, director global skin care for Procter & Gamble, kicked things off with a keynote on brands as a force for good, and consumers’ increasing choice to select brands that best align with and reflect their values. Sarah Alter, president and CEO of Network of Executive Women, and Tiffany Mawhinney, principal at Deloitte, came together with Generation Z member Danielle Robinson, business analyst at Deloitte, to discuss a recent survey and first-hand experience of how this emerging demographic is changing the workplace. Top Women in Grocery themselves were the focus of the next panel, with honorees Laurie Casagrande, business development/project manager at UNFI; Eureka McCrae, district manager, Seattle division of Albertsons; and Nicole Parker, VP, business development at FoodStory Brands, along with previous winner Sheila Laing, SVP, chief customer officer of Hy-Vee, tackling such issues as mentorship and the elusive work-life balance. To close out the Leadership Development Program, Kroger Group VP of Fresh Suzy Monford delivered a compelling keynote on food that fuels and the workplace as a fit place. The Top Women in Grocery enjoyed getting their hair and nails done in The Delight Lounge, relaxing with some yoga and sipping on cocktails, before the evening festivities began. At the Gala Dinner and Awards Presentation, the energy was electric. Monica Garnes, division head of Kroger-owned Fry’s, received the 2019 Trailblazer Award; Amanda Martinez, group VP of corporate procurement, and Valerie Wilson, VP merchandising services, both of Albertsons, were inducted into the Top Women in Grocery Hall of Fame; and all 393 of this year’s honorees were recognized, with those present making their way to the stage for their awards. The event continued on into the evening with a Hershey-sponsored Dessert Party and dancing.

For more photos from the event, visit Next year's event will take place Nov. 4-5, 2020, returning to the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, in Orlando, Fla.


Progressive Grocer would like to thank all of the 2019 Top Women in Grocery sponsors: Kellogg Company The Hershey Company PepsiCo Procter & Gamble Molson Coors Post Consumer Brands Coca-Cola NA General Mills Formula Four Beverages Clif Bar American Greetings USA Bouquet Company Crossmark Simply Protein Rich Products Corporation BuzzBallz Smart.Market for Business Milo’s Tea Company Rowdy Bar Brownie Brittle




The Year Ahead

n o i t a v o n In utlook O

The technology and trends that are fast becoming table stakes as they transform the grocery business. By Mike Troy, Abby Kleckler and Lynn Petrak

nnovation in food retailing is everywhere and advancing at a pace so rapid that companies that are considered disruptors question whether they’re moving fast enough, while others wonder whether they can catch up. Wherever a company is on its innovation journey, retailers of all types have awoken to the reality that disruption never sleeps and is coming at them on two fronts: Technology is changing every aspect of how food retailers operate, while fast-moving trends related to consumer behavior, product preference and spending motivations are having a huge impact on sales. With more change ahead, Progressive Grocer offers its 2020 Innovation Outlook to help retailers get ahead of what’s next. One thing that’s abundantly clear when looking across the food retailing landscape is that there’s innovation as far as the eye can see. Entrepreneurs and startups intent on disrupting the food retailing world are dissecting every touchpoint on the shopper’s path to purchase, looking for pain points they can solve. Meanwhile, established retailers are doing the same, but with a heightened sense of urgency in recognition of the fact that their survival is at stake. Retailers have learned — some the hard way — not to be dismissive of a particular technology or trend that initially appears absurd, insignificant or impossible to profitably scale. Look at drone deliveries and plant-based proteins, for example. Both were relative novelties just a few years ago, but not anymore. Plant-based startups, most notably Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, sport billion-dollar valuations, major CPG companies are racing to launch new brands, and retailers such as Kroger are right with them in rolling out store-brand options. Meanwhile, drones have entered retailers’ supply chain planning conversations, moving beyond an “if” to more of a “when” stage as a legitimate fulfillment option. When is now for some retailers. Deerfield, Ill.-based drug store chain Walgreens conducted its first drone delivery from a store in Christiansburg, W.Va., on Oct. 18 in partnership with the Wing subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Not to be outdone, fellow drug store operator CVS Pharmacy completed its first drone deliveries in Cary N.C., on Nov. 1, in partnership with UPS Flight Forward. “CVS is exploring many types of delivery options for urban, suburban and rural markets. We see big potential in drone delivery in rural communities, where life-saving medications are needed and consumers at times cannot conveniently access one of our stores,” says Kevin Hourican, president of Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Pharmacy.

Key Takeaways Technology is changing every aspect of how food retailers operate, while fast-moving trends related to consumer behavior, product preference and spending motivations are having a huge impact on sales. Drones, omnichannel, robotics, electronic shelf labels, cashierless stores, artificial intelligence and gamification are among the tech developments that grocers should keep an eye on. The rising popularity of plant-based foods, ensuring the local provenance of products and the ongoing importance of sustainability are among the consumer trends that supermarkets must contend with.




The Year Ahead Walgreens and CVS drone deliveries followed a Sept. 27 landmark decision by the Federal Aviation Administration that gave UPS Flight Forward approval to operate the nation’s first drone delivery network that doesn’t require operators to maintain line of sight with the drones. The certification means that UPS can operate drones where the combined weight of the vehicle and cargo doesn’t exceed 55 pounds, a threshold that creates interesting implications for grocery. “This is history in the making, and we aren’t done yet,” David Abney, CEO of Atlanta-based UPS, said when FAA approval was granted. Although initial use cases are focused on health care and time-sensitive deliveries in controlled environments with fixed routes, Abney said that UPS will be looking at new uses in the future as it builds out its drone infrastructure. Grocery is certainly one of those uses, even if the financials don’t make sense and there isn’t a clear path to profitability. Those factors won’t deter drone development any more than unfavorable economics discouraged food retailers from racing to implement costly store-based fulfillment of online grocery orders, because shoppers demanded the convenience. Witness the success of click-and-collect services that quickly became commonplace and are now being refined. Major chains such as Walmart, Kroger and Target rolled out the service at a breakneck pace over the past few years and will end 2019 with near-chain-wide availability. Other retailers also point to the success of click-and-collect as a primary driver of their digital growth, with a familiar theme emerging: Customers love it, and average transaction sizes increase. Now, the fact that shoppers are thrilled with a service that lets them avoid setting foot in a store doesn’t say much about food retailers’ efforts to achieve a competitive advantage by elevating the store experience. However, in a world gone digital, the concept of store experience has been turned on its head to include interaction with a smartphone screen and a friendly employee placing reusable bags in the back of an SUV, along with more familiar components such as a compelling fresh presentation and a helpful butcher.

Omnichannel Comes of Age

s click-and-collect has become a core capability essential for grocers to remain competitive, a huge opportunity exists in 2020 for retailers to increase usage of the service and secure customer loyalty. For example, a recent IDC Retail Insights survey, sponsored by Toronto-based loyalty solutions provider Precima, indicated that online shopping for groceries isn’t currently on the radar of one-third of consumers. At the other end of the spectrum are the 8% of shoppers who reported buying food primarily online. “The good news for retailers is that more than half of consumers say that when they shop online, they prefer the website of their primary grocery store. However, Amazon is close behind that figure, and on the mobile front, consumers prefer them equally to their primary store,” says Jon Duke, research VP at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. To expand usage of click-and-collect, innovation is occurring in how shoppers engage with the service, creating a convenience utility for how people execute life’s basic chores. Voice-enabled ordering is a key area where innovation will 28

Retailers understand that drone deliveries will face regulatory, societal and operational challenges in 2020, but early experiments are helping them prepare for a future in which customers demand ever-faster delivery.

continue to transform the path to purchase. For example, in November, Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart added Apple’s Siri to the voice assistant services that shoppers can use to create lists and order groceries for pickup or delivery. The beauty of voice services, at Walmart or elsewhere, is that they get smarter over time, recognizing what customers mean when they say “add milk” or “add dog food,” because they tap into purchase history to understand the intent of those statements. And to literally take things a step further, don’t be surprised if 2020 sees Walmart expand a test of in-home delivery that it recently implemented in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Vero Beach, Fla.

Fulfilled by Robots

he real 2020 innovation battle is heating up between the centralized-fulfillment-of-online-orders approach favored by Cincinnati-based Kroger versus the more store-based micro-fulfillment-center strategy favored by the rest of the industry. Kroger’s partnership with U.K. online food retailer Ocado will continue to take shape in 2020, when the first of the company’s massive automated fulfillment centers, known as “sheds,” could become operational late in the year. Twenty of the facilities, which each measure up to 350,000 square feet, are planned; six locations have been identified and construction is well underway on two locations in Ohio and Florida. When the facilities become operational, which Kroger maintains will be in 2021, the company will achieve close to 100% order accuracy, which bodes well for customer satisfaction and repeat purchase, Chief Information and Digital Officer Yael Cosset said during the grocer’s November investor conference. Another key advantage is relieving pressure on stores by removing, or greatly reducing, the costly and inefficient process of order picking from stores. While centralized order picking offers benefits, increasingly affordable robotics and precision handling systems employed by other retailers will give Kroger a run for its money. Grocers such as Wakefern Food Corp. banner ShopRite and Albertsons are betting — at least partly

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The Year Ahead — on smaller micro-fulfillment centers connected to stores. In 2020, expect to see tests of more fully integrated approaches to the marketplace. Innovations such as what technology company Alert Innovation calls Novastore, or what fellow tech providers Pulse Integration and Locai call Autostore, combine automated warehouses and traditional shopping areas within the store footprint.

The Store is the Core

etailers won’t lose sight of the physical store as a platform for innovation, but some of what passes for innovation in U.S. stores will look familiar to international visitors. For example, electronic shelf labels (ESLs) are nearing the point where their widespread usage in the United States begins to make sense, due to increased labor costs, which is a key reason that the technology is more prevalent in Europe. Don’t be surprised if Ahold Delhaize is among the first to deploy ESLs in the United States. In 2019, the company partnered with Chinese technology provider Hanshow to deploy ESLs to all of its European stores, following a brief pilot program. With shelf-edge technology improving the shopper experience, a tremendous emphasis remains on solving the most friction-filled aspect of physical food shopping: the checkout process. There are now 21 cashierless Amazon Go locations in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and New York, with four more slated to open. These


Friction elimination, especially in the payment and checkout process, remains an area of emphasis for retailers eager to elevate store experience.

locations may be setting new shopper expectations, but other retailers are quietly working on cashierless variants. Ahold Delhaize USA has opened a cashierless pilot store at its Retail Business Services headquarters in Quincy, Mass., developed in partnership with UST Global and Intel. Inside the store, artificial intelligence detects which products are being removed from shelves, and body skeletal tracking connects the right products to the right shopper and their method of payment, according to the grocery. Giant Eagle, based in Pittsburgh, and checkout-free technology company Grabango have partnered on a no-wait customer experience at a pilot store that relies on computer vision and machine learning to track shopped items. It lets customers shop as they normally would and not have to scan items before leaving. Other retailers are experimenting with or have implemented systems that are app-based and essentially shift the checkout process to the aisles, where shoppers scan merchandise as it’s placed in their carts, and then present a code upon exiting the store. While cashierless checkouts remain a work in progress, other innovations focused on improving employee communication have the opportunity to help retailers do more with less and improve the shopper experience. “Heads up and hands-free” is how Chris Todd, CEO of Theatro, describes the core value proposition of the company’s voice-controlled mobile platform. The intelligent assistant system lets employees access information in enterprise systems with voice commands or connect with other employees without having to tap on a screen or otherwise be distracted from customer service functions. The Dallas-based company got its start with The Container Store, but in 2020, Walgreens will roll out the technology to all of its nearly 10,000 U.S. stores.

Invisible Innovation Abounds

uch of the innovation happening in food retail is transparent to shoppers, who know only that their store or online experience is better, products are fresher and promotions are more relevant. Underpinning continued improvement is a foundation of data, artificial intelligence and a shift in organizational structures and operating philosophy. Organizational structure isn’t an area normally viewed as a source of innovation, but market leaders continue to make key personnel moves to expand the horizons of senior leadership and become more data-driven. “There’s a shift that is happening where retailers are moving from supply chain organizations to data-run organizations,” says Brian Crain, head of global business development with Precima. “The supply chain capabilities are there, they’re sound, they’ve been built and they’ve been optimized. Now winners in retail are absolutely embracing data, and it’s not just in marketing and merchandising, it’s everywhere throughout the organization.” Marketing will remain a key area of focus, due in large part to retailers’ recognition that their growing digital business makes them every bit the media platform that Amazon and other large retailers are. In the data-driven world of consumer marketing, the opportunity to reduce or eliminate ineffective or unnecessary promotions is an area rich with innovation. It has some in the industry predicting

that 2020 is the year the long-forecast demise of the print circular becomes reality. Steven Boal, CEO of Mountain View, Calif.-based Quotient Technology, is among those who believe that the industry is at a tipping point. “Through collaborative planning, CPGs and retailers are starting to make digital-first strategies a priority,” Boal notes. “In some cases, Quotient (Retail Performance Media) retailers are now requiring CPGs to commit up to 1.5% of their gross sales to be spent on digital marketing and merchandising. We expect, over the course of 2020, promotion dollars spent in the free-standing insert to significantly decline as large CPGs plan to shift out of the FSI entirely.” As dollars move out of print ads into digital, and retailers exploit their status as media platforms, innovation is occurring with the management of data that makes all

“There’s a shift that is happening where retailers are moving from supply chain organizations to data-run organizations.” —Brian Crain, Precima

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The Year Ahead of the other cool, new, sexy stuff possible. The right data in the right place at the right time is how Mark Detelich, chief product officer at Chicago-based Syndigo, describes the fundamental challenge facing digital retailers. “Competition is going to continue to escalate from nontraditional food retailers, and not just Amazon. The whole industry is looking to up their game to compete. And as brands and retailers look to expand or evolve — either to different channels, online or internationally — they are going to have to ensure their data is accurate and consistent,” Detelich says. “Changing rules and federal guidelines will also put a greater demand on product labeling and attributes. And then there’s the consumer — today they shop, eat and prepare foods differently than the way traditional supermarkets are set up, which may require different packaging, labeling or added content to get the shopper’s attention.” It’s understood that as sources of data have proliferated, unlocking value from the information can occur only by applying artificial intelligence (AI) to identify patterns and behaviors. What’s less understood is that AI isn’t a new phenomenon, but its potential hasn’t been unlocked until now. “AI has been around since before the 1950s, but there hasn’t been the computing power to take the data sources available and leverage it. But now there is,” explains Jeff Smith, founder and head of corporate development at Revionics, an Austin, Texas-based provider of price and promotion optimization solutions. “Ten years ago, if you talked to somebody about AI, they’d kind of freak out. Now everybody’s talking about AI, and you need it in your business, so it’s fully accepted and embraced.”

Make Shopping Fun Again

ith digital natives entering their prime spending years, retailers unable or unwilling to blend the physical with the digital and infuse both with elements of gamification risk losing an entire generation of shoppers. Witness the popularity of gaming, which has coincided with the rise of the smartphone. Video gaming has exploded in the past decade, with the global games market valued at nearly $150 billion in 2019, according to Netherlands-based gaming intelligence provider Newzoo. The firm projects that the gaming market will expand to $189.6 billion by 2022. With younger shoppers embracing games, the obvious implication for retailers is to add gamification elements to their digital and store experience. Since shopping is already a bit of a game, with the hunting for bargains and quest to accumulate rewards, the integration of gaming principles to re-energize loyalty programs is an area ripe for innovation, with fresh ideas sourced from other industries. For example, Nike lets customers compete against each other by tracking their activity, sharing achievements, and receiving personalized messages and product information based on what they log. Walgreens, through its Balance Rewards loyalty program, encourages shoppers to join health challenges, track their progress and earn rewards based on achieving certain goals. Technology helps gamify the shopping experience and making it feel less like a chore. In one fun example, Sam’s Club’s augmented-reality approach lets shoppers use its app to transform a shopping cart into a pirate ship or rocket. 32

Gamification was apparently on Albertsons’ mind when it looked outside the food retailing world to hire its chief customer and digital officer. The Boise, Idaho-based retailer recently appointed Chris Rupp to that role, and what’s interesting about the move is that she’d spent the past three years at Microsoft, most recently as general manager of the Xbox business. Between her gaming background and prior experience at Amazon as part of the team that created and launched Prime Day in 2015, Rupp is indicative of the type of nontraditional executive that food retailers are looking to hire.

The Trouble With Trends

ight around this time a decade ago, prognosticators fixed their lens on the teen years of the young century and surmised that 2010 and the ensuing timeframe would be marked by interest and innovations in ethnic flavors, organic and locally sourced foods, breakfast, prepared meals at home, food trucks, and iPads in restaurants. Many of those predictions have proved accurate. Ethnic flavors have indeed become mainstream, and the development of creative, healthy organic, locally sourced and convenient prepared foods has continued in earnest. Now, looking ahead into this coming decade, experts are weighing in on the changes transforming the way that people buy and eat food, and the methods by which those who produce and sell it are evolving, with major implications for consumer eating and buying behaviors, and advances in food production, traceability and merchandising. A perfect example is the plant-based phenomenon. The clamor about plant-based — or “plant-forward,” as it’s often called — has had a ripple effect in virtually every segment of the produce industry, as well as those in the meat, poultry and dairy industries contending with plant-based competition for their animal-based foods. But is this a seismic, permanent shift, or just another iteration of the grapefruit fad of the 1970s, the oat bran craze of the 1980s, the low-fat diet of the 1990s or the high-protein trend of the early ’00s? The traditional threshold of sales, of course, will be the final determinant, but there are some potential chinks in this plant armor. Growers, including soybean farmers, must work to satisfy demand for both animal feed and plant-based proteins, and since plant-based consumption isn’t anywhere near meat-based consumption, they likely won’t divert all of their energies to that market. There may be some environmental tradeoffs, too, because a higher amount of plant-based foods may be needed to replace animal proteins. Some studies have shown elevated levels of greenhouse gas emissions coming from large-scale greenhouses. At the same time, product developers are spending a lot of R&D effort working on “off” flavors associated with plant-based foods that

aren’t familiar to consumer palates and that can come from plant breakdown or oxidation during processing. After all, it’s all about taste: According to a recent white paper for Ireland-based ingredient supplier Kerry Inc., 73% of consumers think that alternatives should mimic the taste of meat. A more likely scenario, then, is that consumers will eat more plant foods while reducing the amount of animal protein that they eat. Already, 98% of buyers of meat alternatives say that they also buy meat, while 21% of meat buyers also buy meat alternatives, according to research from Chicago-based Nielsen. This flexitarian or “reducetarian” eating pattern will translate to product assortment at grocery and in the ratio of ingredients in various types of prepared meals. The next meat case, for example, will have an array of meat and poultry items as well as plant-based alternatives, while the prepared food sections will have dishes that include meat as an ingredient in selections also packed with vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

Defining “Local”

n many consumer surveys, people indicate a penchant for locally sourced products, from produce to meat to dairy, among other ingredients. “Local,” though, can be a relevant term. While the Nielsen research found a consensus that locally sourced products come within a 50-mile radius, there are some products that U.S. consumers regard as local “as long as they come from the U.S.” Other times, local means regional. In 2020, local could truly mean local. Some stores are finding a niche — for marketing purposes, as well as tighter supply chain reasons — in keeping things highly local with their own production capabilities. Kroger recently teamed with Berlin, Germany-based Infarm to create modular living produce farms in the United States that use hydroponic technology. “Our partnership with Infarm allows us to innovate by combining groundbreaking in-store farming technology with our passion for fresh, local produce and ecological sourcing,” said Suzy Monford, group VP of fresh for Kroger, at the time the news broke. Another case in point is Los Angeles-based vertical farm Local Roots, which provides produce to Walmart stores in California. This mirrors some trends in foodservice, in which chefs grow produce and herbs for their menus in greenhouse and rooftop gardens. Not every food retailer can have its own on-site farm or greenhouse, of course, but one can expect that for as long as consumers indicate a preference that items be labeled or merchandised as locally sourced, stores will sell and promote those items when possible to capture that interest.

Down to Earth

erhaps no area is seeing more innovation than the onward march of sustainability. Groundbreaking 2019 research from IRI and New York University’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business quantified what sustainability proponents intuitively understood: Sustainability is good for business. The research found that half of CPG growth between 2013 and 2018 stemmed from sustainability-marketed products. Sustainability is a catalyst for other trends that will influence the way that food and beverages are produced and sold to consumers in the coming year. Look at packaging around

“Competition is going to continue to escalate from nontraditional food retailers, and not just Amazon. The whole industry is looking to up their game to compete.” —Mark Detelich, Syndigo

the turn of the last decade: Single-use plastic packaging was touted as a convenient trend, and now manufacturers and packaging companies are working together to reduce packaging materials and waste and use more sustainable options. “The heightened focus on single-use plastics is not just a fad, but a reality that goes beyond the purge of the plastic straw” is the point that Benchmark made in its 2020 trend report. Innova Market Insights research shows that 85% of U.S. and U.K. consumers expected companies to invest in sustainability in 2019, up from 65% the previous year. This change reverberates throughout the farmto-fork chain, with differences in transportation, merchandising and end-use recycling and disposal. The sustainability movement is causing companies to take bold actions. Amazon revealed plans in 2019 to purchase 100,000 fully electric delivery vehicles — the largest-ever order of its kind — as it moves toward a goal of running on renewable energy by 2030.

The Innovator’s Imperative

he family-owned Sheetz chain of convenience stores, based in Altoona, Pa., opened its inaugural technology and innovation hub on Oct. 1, and AVP of Strategy Emily Sheetz offered words of wisdom for retailers to live by in an age of transformative change. “Our mission at Sheetz is to create a business that puts the Sheetz as we know it today out of business,” Sheetz said of the new hub, where the focus is on developing, testing and implementing transformative products and services. In that respect, she shares the same mentality as Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who often maintains that it’s still “Day 1” at Amazon. Innovation looks a lot different at a company like Sheetz, compared with food retailers, compared with Amazon. For example, the Seattle-based online giant with a growing physical presence is working on a facial recognition program called Amazon Rekognition, and recently rolled out a quantum computing initiative in its AWS division to rival efforts by Google and IBM. Such programs won’t have an immediate impact on food retailing, but no retailer can afford to be dismissive of anything occurring in the technology world, no matter how futuristic, if it wants to be ahead of what’s next. PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



2019 Category Captains Awards In the move toward shopper-centricity, don’t get marooned in ...

By Jim Dudlicek, Bridget Goldschmidt and Jenny McTaggart he idea of category management is moving beyond individual categories toward a 360-degree view of the store. The future lies in shopper-centric solutions that deliver on key consumer need states and help grocery shoppers visualize the possibilities for any eating occasion. Those solutions include complementary products and leverage key adjacencies and strategic cross merchandising. They require tearing down the old silos that subdivide the supermarket and a vision that extends beyond traditional aisles. In short, this new era of category management transcends categories. To that end, for its 2019 Category Captains Awards, Progressive Grocer has thrown out all of the categories! This year, to reflect the evolution toward pure shopper-centricity, PG accepted only at-large nominations, allowing entries to compete against each other for Category Captain and Advisor (honorable mention) regardless of what traditional category they might represent. Of course, we understand that old habits die hard: We still received many category-based entries, particularly from CPG companies that play in multiple areas of the store. In the spirit of the aforementioned evolution, however, we evaluated those entries collectively and recognized the companies as appropriate for their whole-store efforts. Indeed, CPG suppliers and their grocery retailer partners are embracing shopper-centricity and delivering on the demand for solutions to mealtime needs. Among those we’ve recognized on the following pages: Hispan34

ic cheesemaker Cacique’s Mexican Meals Made Easy destination, Chiquita’s banana-yogurt cross promotion, E&J Gallo’s small-format program, Enjoy Life Foods’ shelf-tagging strategy, Hormel’s charcuterie events and Nestlé Purina’s pet aisle reinvention. But there’s still a long way to go. “There is simply too much focus on categories in the current category management approach and even in the new concepts we have seen from the work being done by several third-party analytic providers,” Win Weber, chairman and CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based consultancy Win Weber & Associates, a category management research partner with Deloitte and the Food Marketing Institute, writes in his analysis of shopper-centricity, featured in the section starting on page 60, following the awards in this issue. “Most everyone continues to be focused on the narrowness of categories, when today, traditional definitions of categories no longer dictate the shopping journey, with shoppers wanting solutions tailored to their lifestyles.” From breakfast, lunch and dinner to snacking and special occasions, consumers should be able to rely on their local grocer for solutions, the answers to all of their “What should I eat?” questions. In the long run, the winners in the grocery game will be the retailers and suppliers that can most effectively bare their souls to each other to deliver on any shopper need, from the simplest to the most elaborate. Look beyond those aisles, tear down those silos, and get to work!


In the past year, Abbott Nutrition continued to build on its successful category management programs in various store departments, including adult/diabetic nutrition, toddler nutrition and infant formula. In the area of adult nutrition and diabetes management, Abbott worked with a retailer that specifically wanted to drive conversion of HBC categories through cross-category promotions and out-of-aisle merchandising. To meet this objective, Abbott joined forces with two other leading suppliers in a co-promotional event targeting caregivers, a group that spends $600 more and visits the store at least 20 more times than the average shopper. The twoweek promotion leveraged secondary merchandising via end cap support, signage, and in-store and online communication across key categories shopped by caregivers. It ended up exceeding Abbott’s projections and helped lift Ensure sales. The adult nutritional segment also grew during the promotional period, seeing lifts in units and dollars. Additionally, a quarter of shoppers during the event were identified as new shoppers to the category. Separately, in the toddler nutrition and baby care segments, Abbott worked with a regional retailer that wanted

merchandising recommendations to improve category shopability and increase space for infant formula, while expanding growth segments in older kid nutrition. Based on the latest consumer research, Abbott developed a new planogram with more space for infant formula, toddler nutrition and oral electrolytes. Toddler nutrition and oral electrolytes were placed adjacent to infant formula, followed by baby foods, to create a section that parents will notice as they shop milestones for their babies. The company opted to promote PediaSure with toddler nutrition, while placing Pedialyte within oral electrolytes. As a result of its efforts, infant, toddler and oral electrolytes at this retailer grew impressively versus year-ago sales, with the formula category growing slightly less. Control stores that didn’t implement resets saw declines during the same period.


Cacique is using its position as the country’s leading brand of Hispanic cheeses, chorizos and cremas to help U.S. retailers capitalize on growing consumer interest in Mexican cuisine. The company’s multiplatform marketing approach targets core Hispanic, bicultural Millennial and general-market consumers, and features a 10-year partnership with celebrity chef Aarón Sánchez to attract new consumers to the category. In its retail partners’ stores, Cacique created authentic destination sets featuring Sánchez and a Mexican Meals Made Easy theme, which brought a significant lift in dollar sales. Meanwhile, the company’s dedicated innovation group has helped it drive new product development faster. In the past six months alone, Cacique has brought two new product lines to market — Fully Cooked Chorizo and Mexican-Style Queso Dips — and expanded its presence into the heated and refrigerated meals set for the first time. Also in the past year, Cacique acquired El Sol Foods, further expanding its portfolio of Mexican mealtime essentials to include Homestyle Salsas. Its initiatives helped drive up overall Hispanic dairy/ meat household penetration over the past year. PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



2019 Category Captains Awards

Chiquita Brands

Following its successful secondary-display programs in previous years, Chiquita leveraged category insights to launch a healthy-snacking campaign with a Southern retailer this past spring. The program covered nearly 80 percent of the retailer’s stores with kid-friendly displays that invited children to take a piece of free fruit. As the sole branded partner, Chiquita’s bananas were featured regularly, but other fruits were also rotated in based on seasonality. The initiative not only promoted healthy snacking, but also helped reduce shrink by using the broken clusters of bananas that otherwise might not have been purchased. In addition to this program, Chiquita joined forces with an East-

ern retailer to provide easy lunchbox solutions. The companies shared lunch recipes and back-to-school ideas via online media, circulars and in-store signage. The campaign successfully drove new users to the retailer’s website, while lifting in-store banana sales; post-campaign, sales continued to increase. In another promotional venture, Chiquita worked with Chobani after realizing through its research that bananas and yogurt have a buyer overlap of 85 percent. The two companies promoted the “ultimate banana and yogurt smoothie bowl” using in-store signage and digital content aimed at health-focused Millennials and families.

Constellation Brands

The habits of beer-loving consumers have changed over time, but for the most part, the beer shelf hasn’t kept pace. Constellation Brands set out to change that through its category management program, which featured its new Shopper-First Shelf initiative. The company recognized through research that consumers are seeking variety but often find too much or too little selection of relevant items. In fact, the high-end beverages that are driving category growth tend to be out of stock most often. Working with multiple research partners such as Kantar, IRI and InContext, Constellation analyzed relevant data and consumer behavior to understand shoppers’ decision-making process, uncover barriers to purchase in the category and determine the necessary solutions. Its Shopper-First Shelf approach is helping retailers grow the beer category by optimizing shelf flow, space and assortment based on how today’s consumers shop for beer. For instance, when its shelf-flow recommendations are implemented, retail-


ers can see up to 10% growth in category dollars versus other common flow scenarios. Its “space to opportunity” approach, meanwhile, incorporates forecasted growth and seasonality to set the shelf for the future. When allocated correctly, that change helps bring retailers up to 8% category dollar growth and helps prevent out-of-stocks. As for assortment changes, Constellation’s research indicated that up to a fifth of the beer assortment can be removed from the shelf with no negative impact to the category. In fact, the category can grow by up to 5% as space is increased for more productive SKUs. Overall, Constellation’s Shopper-First Shelf initiative has helped retailers see net category gains in the mid-single digits. Some accounts even saw double-digit gains. More than 5,000 stores nationwide have implemented the strategy.


2019 Category Captains Awards Dole Food Co.

Dole has created a sweet spot for retailers by leveraging its legacy in commodity produce and value-added salads behind three winning propositions: re-energizing the banana category through organics, driving salad category growth through kit leadership, and leveraging plant-based eating trends with the new Bountiful line. Using national banana consumption trends, Dole provided valuable insights to its retailer partners on the decline of the No. 1 volume generator in produce. The message was clear: Bananas were losing volume to such items as mandarin oranges, cherries and avocados. Low-income households were purchasing less, while high-income households were purchasing more. The company aimed to re-energize the category using organic yellow bananas as a powerhouse to attract and drive more natural and organic households to the store. Through an increased presence at shelf, along with secondary organic displays strategically placed throughout its stores, one retail partner was not only able to impact the organic banana segment, but also drive additional dollars and volume to the entire banana category and store, bringing increases in banana volume and market share.

E&J Gallo

From emerging varietals to alternative packaging formats, the wine industry has experienced continued growth due to innovative products, so it’s critical that retailers adapt quickly and provide solutions for consumers’ ever-changing needs. A major consumer need that has emerged is that of occasion-based drinking, with consumers seeking solutions based on specific drinking occasions. In answer to this need, smallsized wine formats have grown over the past year at more than five times the rate of the total wine category — 15% versus 2% — and Gallo has played an important role in driving this growth. In 2019, the company launched 25-plus small-format wine items, thereby further driving the category opportunity. By leveraging category insights and a progressive shopper marketing approach, Gallo developed the Anywhere, Anytime small-format category program. The nationwide program focused


Dole’s sales-velocity leadership position in the value-added salad kit segment, and in the critical, growth-driving chopped-kit space, extends to new product innovation. In 2019, Dole launched the Bountiful plant-based line, meeting a trending consumer need and bringing new shoppers to the category. At one retailer, more than a quarter of Bountiful sales were above expected from new category buyers, based on the amount of sales from new buyers in the previous period. Retailers that have added Bountiful are seeing higher dollar and unit velocities in chopped kits than those that haven’t. Retailers heavily involved in Dole’s category development process experience an additional five to six points of growth, alongside a thriving partnership primed for sustainable future growth and innovation.

on driving single-serve purchases, while also educating consumers on the benefits of small-format wine for their various drinking occasions. The three phases in the program were Living, centered on building brand awareness via branded

social media content and partnering with social media influencers; Looking, which targeted the consumer through a combination of Pinterest ads and a mobile microsite; and Buying, focused on converting pre-sold customers with impactful in-store point of sale and a digital retailer toolkit. The use of digital advertising, shopper education and solution-focused marketing all contributed to the overwhelming success of Anywhere, Anytime: Nationwide, there was a significant lift in dollar sales on the programmed brands as well as in volume sales, and an incremental $2 million in revenue generated during the two-month digital activation. The program was also highly successful with both national and regional retailers. By embracing change, being quick to innovate and focusing on consumer-centric solutions, Gallo was able to execute a category-focused program that drove business nationally and significantly contributed to overall category growth.


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2019 Category Captains Awards Enjoy Life Foods

The creator of the free-from food category in 2001, Enjoy Life has played the primary role in rapidly expanding the category through its strong understanding of the free-from consumer — ranging from those who rely on lifesaving allergy-friendly foods for medical reasons to those who opt for clean, better-for-you foods. The company works with retailers to reveal how the free-from consumer shops and help them change the way they merchandise their sets by adopting the strategy of brand blocking, including its own products with their distinctive packaging in the color teal — the unofficial color of food allergy awareness — allowing consumers to easily spot the items. Enjoy Life also encourages retailers to use shelf tags educating those seeking free-from products, with the most effective tags those calling out the specific allergens that aren’t in a product.

The Hershey Co.

Working with a large retailer, the Hershey team led several cross category initiatives to drive and enhance seasonal results. One initiative was a candy apple program for Halloween. The goal was to have shoppers dip traditional caramel apples into crushed-up candy, nuts and cereals to enhance the eating experience. Hershey partnered with other manufacturers to develop an event to communicate the idea to shoppers, which included a full-page ad in the retailer’s in-store magazine, paid digital/social media, an e-coupon, in-store demos and custom point-of-purchase signage. To build baskets, stores set up displays near produce to create a simple solution


Where Enjoy Life has assisted with remerchandising using brand blocking, not only have retailers seen double-digit sales increases of Enjoy Life products, but also significant increases in the set itself, as well as the other brands within the set. Retailers have been able to promote connectivity within various shelf sets, including front end and back-toschool displays, and custom signage. Enjoy Life collected sales data from a leading retailer in the Northeast over a six-month period, pre- and post-brand blocking at 13 store locations. The retailer experienced significant actual sales growth versus pre-brand blocking, with three locations achieving about four times average sales growth of Enjoy Life products. Brand-blocking stores outperformed non-brand-blocking stores over the first six months, resulting in incremental sales. Nearly all Enjoy Life product lines are growing faster in brand-blocked stores, with the growth coming from higher turns and access to more product offerings. Enjoy Life’s consumer-centric strategy meets consumer needs at the market intersection of shelf-stable foods, technology, data mining and special diets.

center for shoppers as they entered the store. The program drove significant increases on focused items in the weeks leading up to Halloween and helped the retailer sell more apples in the stores with a display near produce. Again applying a shopper-centric approach, Hershey teamed with another manufacturer to build a Candy Cabin program at the same retailer. To generate awareness, Hershey leveraged an influencer program and the retailer’s magazine to inspire shoppers to build their own cabins. In-store POS brought the idea to life on end caps and in merchandising displays in various locations throughout the store. The program helped the category to grow for the holiday season. Further, Hershey sales for stores using the program signage rose higher than stores that didn’t offer the program. Additionally, after an update to the company’s packaging, Hershey worked with retailers to optimize aisle flow by usage occasions and to secure placement of the new bags. The reinvention and flow-through started in late March/early April, and in-store results are validating the consumer research with strong productivity. Since the reset, several retailers are experiencing double-digit sales growth and improving conversion rates on the new bags to drive base sales growth at the shelf.


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2019 Category Captains Awards Hormel Foods

Hormel works closely with retailers on initiatives designed to drive sales across the store. One of the most impressive focused on the deli as a destination for special-occasion solutions involving its Hormel Gatherings and Columbus deli meat brands. A strategic pricing strategy for in- and out-of-season timeframes grew the category with Hormel Foods and private label products. A Columbus focus on premium in-home entertaining through charcuterie included chef-hosted and charcuterie board events at retailers, and development of a charcuterie sampler with on-package wine-pairing recommendations, with resulting higher basket rings. Additionally, Hormel has been working closely with multiple retailers to drive traffic, sales and interest in center store, which is being ignored by many in favor of the fresh perimeter. Hormel’s business analytics and insights team conducted research and developed a robust strategy to help support customers with long-term center store strategies. Insights allowed for simplification of segments within canned meat and meals based on shoppers’ purchase experience, assortment recommendations based on item exclusivity and incrementality, and a better understanding of segment adjacencies. For a Wisconsin-based independent grocer, Hormel assisted in building a standardized canned-meat

Kellogg Co.

Kellogg is a leader in multiple store categories, and collectively has become a formidable provider of solutions for grocery shoppers. Amid the rise of plant-based meat products, Kellogg’s MorningStar Farms brand stands as a pioneer in meat substitutes, and the company is committed to category development with retailers through a consumer-centric strategy, strong innovation, and proprietary and shared tools and research. As adjacency to frozen vegetables is driving category sales, penetration and new-user conversion, Kellogg is currently executing in-store testing with a major retailer, with plans for fullchain activation in 2020. Additionally, to help retailers optimize space for expected growth through 2023, Kellogg collaborated on macro-spacing projects across the frozen department. Further, the company is seizing

planogram to simplify shoppers’ purchase experience, boosting share and dollar sales. Adjacency and assortment optimization implementation for a Midwestern regional chain grew the category by double digits. Another Midwestern chain anticipates robust growth across the separate canned-meat and -chili sets by implementing adjacency recommendations that will improve shopability and promote cross purchase. A Southeastern retailer expects positive growth in canned meat with assortment and facings optimization to reduce out-of-stocks, and adjacency optimization to improve shopability. Double-digit sales growth was realized through similar partnerships with a West Coast regional grocery chain and a national mega-retailer. Progressive Grocer was similarly impressed with Hormel’s MegaMex division’s partnership with a Southwestern grocery chain to drive sustainable growth in Mexican food with an aisle solution that employs research based on segment lifts and cross purchasing to simplify shopability and drive a bigger basket. Further, a refrigerated snacking study with two major supermarket chains shows promise for its potential to create a cross aisle destination for snack solutions.

an opportunity to close the gap in snacking occasions, with a new platform, including bite-size snacks containing 11 grams of plantbased protein, that’s already showing early success in boosting baskets. Also, the launch of its Incogmeato line puts Kellogg in the game with a product that aims to capture the taste, texture and sizzling qualities of meat. In other categories, Kellogg is: Growing on-the-go snacks with better organization, footprint, adjacencies and packaging design Forging innovative and strategic partnerships for crackers, such as its Cheez-It brand with House Wine, bringing consumers a new way to enjoy cheese and wine with a combo pack of red wine with original Cheez-Its, delivering on the sophistication that snackers are seeking Delivering research-based assortment solutions to retailers for frozen breakfast through leveraging and expanding the iconic Eggo brand by adding French toast Engaging shopper-centric research to improve shopability of portable wholesome snacks by developing shopper-led aisle solutions built around three “mega needs”: taste enjoyment, healthy lifestyle and purposeful nutrition. Overall, Kellogg is making significant investments in research, both account-level and nationally, in collaborations with InContext Solutions, IRI, Nielsen and Kantar, among other partners.



2019 Category Captains Awards Litehouse Foods

Litehouse, a leader in refrigerated salad dressings, credits ongoing collaboration with its retailer partners as key to its success. Its retailer promotions not only show significant increases in unit sales, but also help drive overall basket size. This year, Litehouse provided its retailers with better visibility into consumer behavior and segments by launching two retailer-specific data programs and a consumer panel provider. The resulting insights help Litehouse better assist with supporting retailer business trends, as well as gain a deeper understanding of consumer demographics and psychographics across the store, and in differentiated retailer groups. Cross brand promotions, within the produce category and beyond, leverage secondary placements and advertising materials to highlight product offerings and versatility. For example, Litehouse collaborated with brands across the store during its Super Bowl promotion, including wings and readyto-eat frozen appetizers, boosting sales for its ranch and blue cheese dressings. A retail promotion during May’s National Salad Month spotlighted Litehouse Caesar dressings and was supported by in-store

Mars Wrigley

signage, an integrated online campaign with targeted digital ads, and recipe content to inspire usage occasions and drive consumers to stores. The promotion drove a double-digit sales increase that outperformed the category. Strong cross brand promotions drove product sales and led to promotion opportunities at other retailers, including a successful Q1 I Heart Salad cross promotion with produce brands at a major West Coast-based national supermarket chain. Program awareness and performance resulted in a Q3 promotion extension at a major Southeastern regional retailer. Additionally, Litehouse provides customers and retailers with valuable visibility into consumer segments and behaviors. The company gathers shopper insights from syndicated data providers, third-party research and retailer insights platforms, which help inform innovation, retailer partnerships, promotions and merchandising strategies throughout the year. This year’s data led to three recurring themes: better-for-you offerings, convenience, and size and flavor variety.

As shoppers migrate online, where most purchases are planned, retailers are presented with both an opportunity and a challenge. To meet the demands of today’s consumers and adapt to the evolving retail landscape, grocers must create intuitive, engaging online platforms that drive impulse purchases and leave visitors satisfied. With more than 100 years of category leadership, Mars Wrigley is partnering with national ecommerce and grocery retailers to drive the digital confectionery aisle through new test-and-learns and shopper-based insights. To that end, the company conducted a firstof-its-kind, two-phase neuroscience research effort with the leading ecommerce provider in the United States. This study tracked the shopper experience and the emotional and visual motivators that encourage confectionery purchases online. After evaluating the results, Mars Wrigley identified that online purchases are triggered by a different part of the brain than the instantgratification triggers that happen in-store. Since in-store confectionery purchases are typically made to act as treats in real time,


shoppers devalue the rewards of many impulse categories when there’s a delay. However, because the company has a deep connection with consumers, it also knows that they will buy confections online if they are reminded to treat themselves. The key to increasing digital impulse purchases is to trigger online how the brain reacts in stores, and deliver confections similarly to make them worth the wait. For 2020, in addition to cutting-edge test-and-learns with top grocery retailers, Mars Wrigley will bring new insights to transform the landscape and propel its partners into the future of confectionery through its 2020 Innovative Merchandising Incubator program. Mars Wrigley U.S. unveiled the 2019 Innovative Merchandising Incubator to help retailers nationwide address the biggest issues facing confectionery today. The personalized test-and-learn offers innovative solutions to merchandising new product flavors that blur category lines, like salty and sweet.

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2019 Category Captains Awards Molson Coors

“This category strategy is perfect. It’s factbased, exactly what we need …” — that’s what one large national retailer said about Molson Coors’ Purpose Drives Purchase category management strategy, based on a deep dive into market dynamics and shopper behavior. From this research, four key pillars emerged: consumer choice is driven by occasion, every segment plays a role, the core matters, and the right innovation works. Occasions, ranging from personal to small social groups to large-group celebrations, all require certain pack sizes and package types. Putting a disproportionate focus on one segment or allocating space at shelf based purely on sales is an ineffective strategy, as it requires a smaller assortment of other segments that appeal to specific shoppers. No amount of innovation can offset the losses of strong core items, which are 3% of all items but drive 80% of category

Nestlé Purina Petcare

To stem the tide of lost sales of pet products to specialty stores and online subscription services, Nestlé Purina Petcare is actively working with its retailer partners to create supermarket pet destinations and recapture those valuable basket items. And there’s plenty at stake — pet care is a $34 billion-a-year business that’s grown by more than 6% in the past year, with similar growth projected through 2022, outpacing many other center store categories. Shopper trends and consumer insights helped the company reinvent the pet aisle experience beyond just products: educational moments, community connection, grocery delivery services, emerging retail technology, environmental enhancements such as lighting and custom flooring, and even seamless integration with mobile platforms to encourage repeat interactions that drive loyalty. The end concept reflects an ambitious vision for a one-of -kind in-store experience and learning environment that can be scaled across store locations. Another key component in building stronger partnerships with retailers is Nestlé Purina’s retail innovation center, which brings the company’s innovations and the pet owner experience to life. The immersive lab helps retailers better understand how to overcome their challenges and adapt their aisles to reflect the changing dynamics of the pet care category. Since redesigning the center, the company has seen repeat retailer visits, engaged new audiences from both current and emerging retailers, and


sales. Innovation is important to the category, but retailers must evaluate the amount of innovation being presented based on the incremental value of each item. The beer category has changed dramatically in the past 30 years, and consumer preferences continue to evolve at a rapid pace. In 1990, the category featured 3,000 items; in 2019, 19,000 beer items are sold at retail. This evolution required a strategic shift in category strategy. Winning with beer has proved difficult for retailers, with fundamental issues holding back the category, among them declines in category productivity and conversion, out-ofstocks, and a lack of “relaxation” among category shoppers. The stakes are high for retailers, as more than half of beer consumers say that they’ll walk out without purchasing the category if their preferred brand or pack size isn’t carried. These issues were all targets of Molson Coors’ research. The result: Purpose Drives Purchase has generated category sales increases higher than other category strategies; a reset at a prominent national retailer has been particularly successful, leading to improved performance across all segments.

used the experience to drive new business opportunities with strategic retail partners. Nestlé Purina has implemented a dedicated ecommerce category team to help retailers win with pet across the different ecommerce models, using a best-in-class set of category tools, including ecommerce best practices and self-assessments, activation frameworks, and an implementation guide for all phases of the shopping experience. Further, innovation has focused on premiumization, the primary driver of pet care category growth. Natural products and claims common across human food are increasingly sought by consumers in food for their pets, and the latest Nestlé Purina product releases are reflecting this demand.

A healthy category requires a balanced approach purpose drives purchase

Molson Coors’ category management strategy is based on consumer behavior and an understanding that shoppers’ choices are driven by occasion.

Reach out to your Molson Coors representative today to learn more. CELEBRATE RESPONSIBLY® ©2019 COORS BREWING COMPANY, GOLDEN, CO • BEER


Consumer-Driven, Retailer-Navigated: A Successful Strategy for Winning Sales Q & A with Matt Corona, Senior Director of Category Management, Molson Coors Progressive Grocer: What makes Molson Coors approach unique to that of other suppliers? Matt Corona: First and foremost, our goal is to delight consumers, which is why we’ve invested heavily to gain a deep understanding of their behaviors and needs. It also grounds our belief that a balanced strategy is the best way to lead the category to sustained, profitable growth. We recognize that our retail partners each have unique strategies for growth, whether that be increasing trips, trading shoppers up, or expanding baskets. By adapting to retailer needs and applying a balanced strategy, we’ve helped retailers gain an additional 2.5 points of performance. PG: How does this typically come to life with retailers? MC: Identifying joint ambitions — long term, strategic goals which are mutually beneficial — is the key. Aligning on the problems-to-solve allows us to work together with transparency and speed as we translate the strategy into action. What we identify and how we execute together can differ based on retailer needs: for many retailers, our efforts focus in space and assortment optimization, where our balanced view

among assortment breadth, inventory levels, and brand blocking are grounded in maximizing store performance; with other retailers, we analyze promotion calendars and merchandising standards, identifying opportunities where retailers can drive stronger lift through events. PG: The beer category is rapidly changing. Do you foresee these trends continuing? MC: Consumer preferences will continue to evolve, no doubt. But at the same time, consumers will still base their purchasing decisions on where, when, and with whom they intend to consume. We must not only expand our offerings beyond beer, but also match their shopping expectations as they spend less time in store and in fewer aisles. We can do this by helping retailers implement our Taste System, which aids shoppers with in-aisle navigation to more easily find their desired product, or through our Pints and Plates programming, which prompts shoppers meal pairings. By helping retailers better understand how consumers think, we can create meaningful interactions along their path to purchase.



2019 Category Captains Awards CATEGORY ADVISORS Avocados From Mexico

After spending more than a year on in-depth analysis, custom research and testing to better understand consumer needs, Avocados from Mexico (AFM) identified a major barrier to purchase: Some shoppers just don’t understand enough about the fruit. Key consumer concerns include knowing when avocados are ripe, selecting the best product, and how to best preserve and serve it. One study revealed that 73% of shoppers would be more likely to purchase more avocados if they understood more about the product. AFM responded by introducing an educational initiative called Ready When You’re Ready that provides guidance not only to consumers, but also to retailers and restaurant operators. The program includes a playbook with tools, best practices and techniques. In addition to its educational initiative, AFM joined forces with food-

wrap category leader Glad to get out the message about how best to preserve avocados. Using 1.49 million digital coupons and 2,775 in-store education-focused sampling activations at the country’s two largest retailers, AFM and Glad reached more than 1 million people this past spring. The sampling events alone drove velocity for AFM, resulting in a significant lift in total unit sales.

Bayer HealthCare

Over the past year, Bayer HealthCare continued to pursue growth and opportunity in three mature categories: nutritionals, sun care and upper respiratory. Even though nutritionals is the second-largest HBC category and is benefiting from the current awareness regarding health and wellness, it’s facing challenges — namely a decrease in retailer loyalty and the expansion of online sales. Based on extensive consumer and shopper research, Bayer developed a category framework that includes embracing a more expansive view of the category; identifying strategic growth drivers, including the themes of Restore & Rebalance, Foundational Well-Being, and Natural & Authentic; and implementing simple, actionable shopper targeting that aligns with retailer priorities. So far, Bayer has received positive retailer response as it has begun implementing these initiatives. In sun care, meanwhile, Bayer committed significant resources to help understand challenges to the category and to identify emerging trends. The company developed a Vision Process Roadmap to guide future strategic and tactical development. Key elements include better defining sun care, identifying growth pillars and enablers, and overcoming barriers and capitalizing on shopper triggers. In the period ending Sept. 15, category dollar sales experienced their highest level of growth since 2016. Lastly, Bayer reinforced its strong commitment to upper respiratory by unveiling a comprehensive category strategy platform that will serve as a framework for the future. The shopper-oriented framework identifies growth pillars that speak to prevention, not just treatment. Bayer is exploring cross purchase opportunities via pre-store and in-store solutions. Its efforts seem to be making an impact, as the upper respiratory category increased in dollar sales for the period ending Sept. 15.


The Coca-Cola Co.

As the leader of the flavored sparkling soft-drink category, Coca-Cola saw an opportunity to renew the segment with a three-pronged approach: improve the visual identity system across the brand’s flavor portfolio, innovate with the first highly differentiated new flavor in more than a decade and invest further in the success of Coke flavors. Its new flavor, Coke Orange Vanilla, has exceeded company expectations and has met its goal of attracting new users as well as loyal Coke drinkers. It has driven more than $125 million in incremental retail dollars since its launch, according to the company. To support the launch, Coca-Cola invested in a 360-degree consumer engagement plan using local radio, digital, mobile, social, retail trial, point of sale, experiential sampling, and more. The plan also successfully leveraged Coke’s partnership with NCAA March Madness by launching Coke Orange Vanilla during the basketball tournament. More than 20 national retailer customers leveraged NCAA and Coke Vanilla Orange programs for in-store execution. Separately, Coca-Cola worked with retailers to roll out Coke Orange Vanilla through multiple shopper marketing strategies, including colorful in-store signage, shelf displays and brand blocks prominently featuring all Coke flavors.






2019 Category Captains Awards Fresh Express

Fresh Express’ multifaceted category management program includes an expanded technology platform to maximize category opportunity and validate competitive strategies, targeted marketing and innovation execution, and partnerships with key retailers to develop and deliver best-in-class solutions. The brand’s tools and research found that chopped-kit distribution and portfolio expansion were key platforms for incremental category growth. Based on the insights provided, the innovation team developed products to complement Fresh Express’ current selection of chopped kits. To find space for these new items, Fresh Express

GSK Consumer Healthcare

GSK Consumer Healthcare has made great strides in boosting the allergy, digestive and smoking cessation categories at its retailer partners’ stores. For allergy, GSK developed new in- and out-ofstore activations that are being tested at different retailers, and its brands are changing their narrative to address sufferers’ issues. Consequently, the category, after being flat to even slightly declining at times over the past few years, has begun growing again: For the latest 52 weeks ending Sept. 8, total allergy was up 0.8%, with GSK’s Flonase pacing this growth. Private label has also benefited, up 2.4% as education on different product alternatives increases. GSK, with such digestive health brands as Prevacid, Tums, Gas-X, Ex-Lax and Benefiber, is championing new go-to-market strategies. The

Idaho Potato Commission

To prove that displays, not deep discounts, can drive category growth, the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) teamed with a West Coast retailer on a 10-store test placing secondary-display bins for 10 weeks in various locations. As potatoes are a known driver of larger basket sizes, with an average ring of $77.95 per trip, secondary displays can persuade customers to purchase potatoes and increase overall store sales. The secondary-display bins had a positive impact on 5-pound Idaho russet bag sales, russet variety sales and overall potato category sales. Five-pound Idaho russet dollar sales increased 22% over last year in test stores and 2.5% in control stores. Total potato category dollar growth of 6.3% in test stores versus year ago almost doubled the 3.2% growth in control stores. The test led to the creation of a profit calculator that IPC retail promotion directors use to illustrate for retailers the effectiveness of placing secondary displays.


used software to give quantifiable recommendations based on velocity and space to sales, even incorporating shrink into the decision-making. Detecting key growth segments, allocating the proper space, and proper promotional support were critical to success. The offerings have increased basket size and accelerated salad sales. The brand’s efforts have already paid dividends: Year-to-date chopped-kit dollar sales and units are up significantly.

company is now partnering with retailers to better segment the category and develop more targeted shopper marketing activities. This work is paying off, as the $5.7 billion category grew 2.3% in the 52 weeks ending Sept. 8. Unit sales have increased as well, up 1.8%, meaning that current users are buying more, and new users are entering the category. Key pillars focusing on quit motivations, instore execution and shopper targeting provided the foundation for a new go-to-market smoking cessation strategy, which has seen concrete merchandising changes as it rolls out to retail. This, combined with new mini-lozenges from GSK’s Nicorette, have kept the category growing while helping more smokers quit. While the category was up 1.7% last year, for the 52 weeks ending Sept. 8, the category increased 2.1% as category growth further accelerates, with Nicorette driving this growth.

Idahoan Foods

Armed with a study it conducted with IRI that identified the high interaction between dry packaged potatoes and stuffing, pasta and rice mixes, and instant rice, Idahoan is guiding retailers in proper set, adjacencies and flow. The company worked with one grocer to develop an optimal assortment, merchandising by segment first, and then by brand. The layout also changed from a horizontal brand/segment block to vertical blocks to make it easier for shoppers to locate and purchase multiple flavors, thereby increasing overall basket size. The category is growing 6%, outpacing the rest of the market, which is 2%. Idahoan is also testing an in-aisle convenience/snack subset including cups and microwave items from various categories, and marketing regional cheese flavors of mashed potatoes. Additionally, Idahoan provided free pouches of potatoes to a retailer’s targeted shoppers to increase household penetration, and developed custom multipack options of flavored mashed potatoes for several online retailers.

Your 2020 New Year’s Resolution…

Engage with Progressive Grocer Events and get an audience with the customers that can help grow your business!




September 2020

November 2020

December 2020

The destination to discover the proven tactics for developing a robust prepared meal solutions program. Through groundbreaking research and experiential networking, uncover the ingredients, products, concepts, and trends that will help build basket size and inspire shopper loyalty.

Our signature awards ceremony celebrating the winners of the Top Women in Grocery awards. This also includes a daytime leadership development program designed to honor and inspire female leaders in the industry.

Recognizing the new generation of emerging leaders in grocery for their innovation, ambition and commitment to the industry, alongside established excellence as we also award the Retailer of the Year.

2019 Retailers in Attendance: Kroger, Hy-Vee, Albertsons/ Safeway, Meijer, Ahold Delhaize, UNFI, SpartanNash, Wakefern/ Shoprite and more.

Attendees in 2019 included: Kroger, Walmart, Shoprite, Harris Teeter, Martin’s Supermarkets, C&S Wholesale, Stew Leonard’s and more.

2019 Retailers in Attendance: Albertsons, Kroger, Hy-Vee, HEB, Giant Eagle, Wakefern, Whole Foods and more.

Connecting you with the industry’s hottest topics and top retailers. Contact us to learn more about participating in these events.

John Schrei 248-613-8672



2019 Category Captains Awards Ocean Mist Farms

Upon discovering that top artichoke retailers sell four or more unique artichoke items, both organic and conventional, Ocean Mist Farms introduced a variety of pack sizes to drive retail success. The new items included organic retail packs and 4-count clamshells made with recyclable corrugated and post-consumer material, respectively. Ocean Mist runs at least three consumer promotions annually to align with key eating occasions and support year-round artichoke production. The fact that high-velocity artichoke retailers sell 30% of artichokes on promotion speaks to the necessity of consumer promotions that support instore sales via e-coupons and product locator tools. The company’s marketing efforts, using social platforms, weekly blogs, influencer partners and email marketing, have resulted in a dramatic

improvement in artichoke knowledge among consumers, removing barriers and ultimately strengthening in-store artichoke sales. Additionally, Ocean Mist Farms saw an increase in artichoke sales this past summer through strategic creative retail displays and well-executed promotions.


2019 Category Captains Awards Pharmavite

The Pharmavite category management team continuously engages and prepares comprehensive insights that help retail buyers make focused business decisions. Product opportunities are based on consumer and customer research, aimed at developing national and retail promotional events, displays, mobile influencers, and targeted marketing. Pharmavite creates need-state merchandising within a 4-foot shelf where shoppers can linger over offerings displayed for everyday use as well as peak seasonal periods such as January (New Year, New You); February (Heart Health Month); October (Women’s Health Month); late October (“fall back,” melatonin to promote sleep); and November (immune care season). Newly launched gummie supplements support purchase for key need states and drive incremental growth: prenatal (choline for brain development), melatonin 10 milligrams (for restful sleep), vitamin D and elderberry. Prompted by new FDA regulations, renovated labels offer more shopper-friendly packaging: green for general heath, pink for women’s multis and prenatal, purple for beauty care, dark blue for sleep health, and orange for immune care.

Reynolds Consumer Products

In the grand scheme of the grocery store, parchment paper may be a relatively obscure category, but it’s a necessity for many home cooks and bakers. Reynolds Consumer Products saw an opportunity to help retailers drive incremental category growth by combining its in-depth understanding of consumer product usage with an innovative product offering, delivering measured success to retailers in food and mass channels. By leveraging a demand landscape study, Reynolds helped retailers tailor their strategies across merchandising, assortment, pricing, advertising, convenience and customer service to better accommodate consumers and improve the shopping experience. The company improved products and their positioning to better meet consumer needs, including cooking versus baking, experienced and “exploratory” cooks, traditional expertise, and need for specific-size sheets without cutting and waste. Narrower pop-up sheets and compostable parchment paper are among the innovations that are proving to grow incremental sales for Reynolds’ retailer partners.

Stemilt Growers

Picking a perfectly ripened piece of fruit can be a challenge for many consumers. Washington state grower Stemilt stepped up with the Operation Flavor initiative and its RipeRite program for pears, to deliver d’Anjou and Red d’Anjou pears to retail at a “near-ripe and ready to eat” stage. The idea is that retailers that carry ripened fruit will sell it at quicker rates, because the fruit is ready to eat soon after purchase. A New England grocery chain started carrying Stemilt’s 100% ripened pears in January 2019 and developed a strong promotional plan around the move. By May, the grocer reported double-digit volume and dollar lifts compared with the prior-year period, boosting the pear category and overall produce sales. Operation Flavor also included a com-


pany ban on anti-ripening agents, which shortened the selling window on winter pears but enhanced flavor and juiciness. Stemilt’s retailer partners saw immediate category results; consumers also voiced their satisfaction with the brand.


Topco Associates LLC

Providing support to a retailer partner experiencing a drop in own-brand diaper sales amid overall category growth, Topco partnered with the grocer to support the Tippy Toes brand, positioned to provide baby care products that meet national-brand quality at more affordable prices. Recognizing that Tippy Toes shoppers have higher-than-average baskets, Topco and the retailer took a different approach through placement, product and pricing/promotions. By featuring quality and absorbency, implementing strategic positioning and adding convenience sizes, Topco and its partner were able to widen the gap in pricing versus the national brand. The result: the member’s diaper sales are experiencing double-digit growth, with own brands up more significantly. The retailer’s reaction: “I’m really excited by the direction we are moving in as partners!”

Unilever’s category management team raised the bar in multiple categories this past year, helping retailers outpace their competitive markets. In frozens, the company evaluated floor plans at one of its regional retailer accounts and decided to make more space for one of the category’s top performers: super-premium. That change alone helped catapult sales. Meanwhile, in hair care, Unilever worked on a clustering project with a select retailer to capitalize on the growth of both natural/salon products and dry shampoo. These segments were given special placement, and the total hair category experienced growth as a result. Last but not least, Unilever worked to drive conversion of the highly penetrated soap category by placing select SKUs in the grocery aisles. This placement allowed for greater visibility of naturals, a growing segment within the soap category.



Category Management

Picking Up the Pace of Shopper-Centricity Focus needs to move from categories to solutions. By Win Weber


he pace of implementation of the new beyond-category-management business model, Shopper-Centric Retailing, and its core Shopper Solutions Planning process, is evolving more slowly than desired, and yet similar to the pace of change when we introduced category management in the United States in 1990, with our final retailer client adopting that model a full 16 years later. The magnitude of change was quite significant then, as it is now. Similar to the results of the recent Winston Weber & Associates, Deloitte and Food Marketing Institute survey that revealed that 100% of those surveyed believe the retail industry must move beyond category management for clearly defined reasons, reaction from 100% of the retailers and CPG manufacturers we’ve talked to since the survey agree with the fact that the Shopper-Centric Retailing business model, with its core Shopper Solutions Planning process, aligns perfectly with the importance of focusing on shopper solutions and enhancement of the shopping experience. Everyone has told us our thinking is spot-on. That being said, on a day-to-day basis, there’s simply too much focus on categories in the current category management approach and what we’ve seen from the work being done by several third-party analytic providers. Almost everyone continues to be focused on the narrowness of categories, when today, traditional definitions of categories no longer dictate the shopping journey, with shoppers wanting solutions tailored to their lifestyles. Today’s shoppers crave more than mere transactions. They’re coming into stores seeking solutions to their needs. The lack of a solutions focus is difficult to comprehend, and should be addressed by every retailer as soon as possible. Perhaps it’s so different from how the industry has traditionally approached the topic that it’s more difficult for it to gain traction. A solu-


tions-planning focus should be a priority. Why has the pace of change to the new Shopper-Centric Retailing business model not been faster? Simply put, the retail industry is in one of its most disruptive periods in history. We’re caught in a mass of retailer priorities. Whether it’s the implementation of new AI disruptive technologies, omnichannel initiatives, store remodels, click-and-collect, or curbside pickup, we’re being told that Shopper-Centric Retailing, which itself is a major change, “cannot fit into our priorities at this time.” For example, one major multibanner retailer told us early in the year: “You are two years ahead of us. We will not be able to consider implementation until late 2020 or 2021.” Despite the aforementioned barriers, retailers that have implemented or are at stages of implementation represent approximately $20 billion in sales revenue. The level of retailer satisfaction is extremely high. What have we learned to date? On average, implementation takes a minimum of 24 months. This takes into consideration that retailers must manage their businesses while changing their businesses. We find that it has been necessary to upgrade organization structures and re-engineer business processes before designing and implementing the Shopper Solutions Planning process. Each retailer has changed titles of category managers to customer solutions managers, consolidated consumer/shopper insights and category analytic capabilities into one consolidated analytic group, and realigned merchandising to focus on solutions and the shopping experience. Today’s shoppers crave more than Our approach that customer solutions managers shouldn’t mere transactions. They’re coming into manage people, so they can stores seeking solutions to their needs. be solely focused on driving the business, has been well reThe lack of a solutions focus is difficult to ceived and highly successful. comprehend, and should be addressed by One retailer implemented the new senior position that better every retailer as soon as possible. aligns merchandising and shop-

per-centric priorities; this has been so successful that the retailer has added a second such position. The proposed restructuring of the store is viewed as longer-term by these retailers. CPG manufacturers have given Shopper Solutions Planning an overwhelmingly favorable response. The Situational Assessment Model has proved to be an essential first step, as it guides a retailer’s thinking relative to its future state, the pace at which change should be made and how change can be successfully implemented. This focuses on those areas of the organization that align with the future-state shopper-centric benchmarks as defined in the Shopper-Centric Retailing business model. There are 67 assessment benchmarks that accurately define the roadmap to the future. Looking ahead, we expect more retailers to move beyond category management to Shopper-Centric Retailing and its Shopper Solutions Planning process in 2020 and beyond. Several have already committed to initial meetings in early 2020. We expect the

pace of change to improve as retailers work through their many priority initiatives. Whatever the case, the fact that all retailers must focus on the solutions that shoppers are seeking and enhancement of the shopping experience bodes well for the future of the new Shopper-Centric Retailing business model. There’s no question that it’s the future. Win Weber is founder, CEO and chairman of Tampa, Fla.-based consultancy Winston Weber & Associates (https://winstonweber. com/), which has partnered with Deloitte and the Food Marketing Institute on an ongoing study of shopper-centric retailing.

Milestone Marketing Unlocks Growth Life changes bring need for new shopper-centric solutions. By Eddie Yoon and Treena Labode


few times a year, brands and retailers get together for the time-honored tradition of top-to-top meetings. These meetings go beyond the typical retail buyer and consumer packaged goods sales representative meetings, but often include the chief merchant and chief marketing officers, and even CEOs. And while important topics like consumer trends, insights, opportunities and threats are discussed, more often than not, we’ve heard both sides confide that these meetings are a waste of time and, worse, lead to actions that are a waste of money. The lack of new insights is particularly unfortunate, given how much time and money are spent in preparing for these meetings. The same trends get touted, like multicultural and single-household growth. The same scanner and syndicated data is synthesized and shared. The same consulting firms are used that internally recycle the same insights themselves across clients. Some brands do a better job on the video and multimedia in the presentation, which just shows that the steak is the same, and the sizzle is all that differs. Regardless of the insights, the calls to action are always the same, like “Give us more shelf space,” or “We will invest more in

trade promotion,” or “Here are our new products.” Yet, if we take a step back, the action that the industry collectively takes are mostly negative ROI failures. Is it any surprise that Nielsen’s estimates that of the $500 billion spent on trade promotions globally each year, roughly 60% lose money? Or that Nielsen’s breakthrough innovation reports from 2008 to 2015 highlight that out of 20,000-plus new products that were launched, only 0.4% ever generated more than $50 million in sales in year 1, and sustained most of that in year 2? The dance is not only boring, it’s also extremely costly. Great top-to-top meetings with killer insights and high-growth actions aren’t impossible. Across our careers, we’ve seen dozens of double-digit growth outcomes, from staplers to beer to kids’ crackers. Some require bigger bets; some are realized in very cost-effective manners. But a few themes occur in each of them.

Avoid Autopilot Shoppers

It’s nearly impossible to change the behavior of a shopper on autopilot. Sadly, the vast majority of shoppers who buy a category couldn’t care less about the category. Most shoppers might respond to a convenient feature or display or a temporary price continued on page 64 PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



PG: Farmer Focus chicken is not only USDA Organic and Non-GMO, it’s also Certified Humane – why is that important to consumers?

Farmer Focus offers organic, clean-label, fresh and fully cooked products with a source traceability code on every package. Using our 4-letter Farm ID, consumers can learn about the exact family farm their food came from.

Progressive Grocer: What makes Farmer Focus different than other meat products in the market? Corwin Heatwole: In short, it’s our relationship with our partner farmers and the care with which the chickens are raised. We’ve eliminated the “tournament system” for compensation and pay farmers fair wages – up to 50% more than they would make growing for other companies – because we value their hard work and want to preserve the farming tradition for generations to come.

CH: Buying organic chicken is about more than the quality of the end product – it supports an interconnected set of sustainable practices. Our chickens are raised in reduceddensity housing where they have easy access to outdoor, grassy pastures with shade structures; windows for natural light; and environmental enrichments that encourage natural chicken behavior, like roosting. The combination of these standards work together to benefit the health of our partner farmers, the animals they raise, and our environment. PG: It’s not just your business model that’s unique – your clear packages also stand out. What made you choose that type of packaging? CH: We like to say that “our story is as transparent as our packaging.” Consumers don’t have to wonder about what’s inside, as they can clearly see the chicken they’re purchasing. Our fresh chicken products are also vacuum sealed, which keeps them fresh longer; and the sturdier packaging makes them easy to stack and minimizes mess. Consumers can save time by seasoning or marinating the chicken right in the tray, which is fully recyclable. Consumers love the transparency and convenience, and our retail partners appreciate the nomess packaging. Each product also includes a 4-digit Farm ID representing the exact farm where that chicken was raised. Consumers can enter the Farm ID on our website to meet the farmer and learn more about their farm.

PG: How does that relationship impact your partner farmers? CH: Our model not only ensures sustainable farm profitability, but we also give farmers back the freedom to make farmspecific decisions. Our partner farmers own the chickens they’re raising, so they’re fully invested in the process. Because our farmers are owner operators, they’re happier, the chickens are healthier, and the result is a better product for consumers.

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Category Management The vast majority of shoppers who buy a category couldn’t care less about the category. They value time more than anything and are trying to get in and out of the store. reduction, but in general, they value time more than anything, and are trying to get in and out of the store. Unfortunately, most of the time and money spent generating consumer insights are spent on autopilot consumers to get a “representative read.” But if you ask an average consumer a question, you’ll get an average answer, or worse. Two types of consumers are different: superconsumers and milestone consumers. Superconsumers — the top 10% of consumers that drive 30% to 70% of category sales — are always searching for new benefits, new messages and new products that help improve their lives. Milestone consumers are those who recently went through a trigger or life event that has fundamentally shaken up their routine, like having a baby, buying a new home or starting a new job. These events often cause consumers to enter or leave a category, or switch brands or price tiers. But the best kinds of insights are found via category superconsumers who just went through a milestone. Supers are the most insightful and articulate consumers in the category, and data shows that superconsumers aren’t born super, but evolve into their extremely high buying behavior. Talking to a superconsumer about the milestones that triggered increases in spending is the key to generate new news for your top-to-top meeting. This might seem like finding a needle in a haystack, but desperate times call for extreme measures.

Milestones Motivate Change

Milestones are critical because they’re often a permanent change in a consumer’s life that unlocks latent emotions and motivations that the consumer may not have been aware of. Many consumers, after having a baby, realize their risk tolerance is now very different, which motivates them to get life insurance. Importantly, milestones beget milestones. Having a baby is the first of many milestones: crawling, sitting up, first solids, first words, first birthday party. Each of these mini milestones triggers a cornucopia of category entry and exit, brand shift, and price tier trade-up and -down. The beauty of these mini milestones is that they’re often under the radar — and thus represent new insights — but are also highly predictable, since they anchor off the bigger milestone of having a baby. Thankfully, new technology platforms are emerging to take advantage of this. Tinybeans is an invitation-only private social network focused on the birth of a child and subsequent mini milestones. Unlike Facebook, on Tinybeans, only those you explicitly invite can see your photos and videos, so engagement is quite high, as it’s only immediate family, grandparents and friends who see them. Across the platform’s 3.5 million members and the tons 64

of photos and videos they create, multiple brands and retailers have found that many medium-sized milestones exist and are great opportunities to jointly reach consumers across categories.

Milestones Migrate Across Categories

We often say that brands most often look at the world through a microscope (in their category), but often would benefit from a wide-angle lens across categories. This would help brands see that a milestone triggered in one category creates ripple effects across many categories. Having a baby triggers the need for life insurance, but it also triggers the need for college savings, which triggers the need for financial planning. The first time a toddler tries solid foods, it leads to more wipes — as diaper changing becomes more unpleasant — but it also leads to a cascade of other food, beverage and even developmental toy changes as the toddler works on his or her pincer grasp. The ability to anticipate these ripple effects creates powerful inspiration for breakthrough merchandising, promotional and innovation strategies at point of sale. Brands can bring these insights to a retail buyer, who can then rally other categories and brands to collaborate in unanticipated and powerful ways. One leading consumer packaged goods company did exactly this with one of the top mass retailers. In digging into a key toddler and new-mother milestone, they discovered the milestone of toddler handto-mouth snacking often gave Mom new freedom to leave the house with children in tow for longer periods of time. They realized hand-to-mouth snacking was strongly correlated with the purchase of specific toys and other products in kids’ entertainment. This led to a strategic licensing relationship by the CPG leader to enhance its packaging. It also caused the retailer to unlock ads, displays and a collaborative partnership with the retailer’s shopper marketing team to drive messaging inside and outside of the store. This partnership carried on for several years and led to significant increases in retail trips, basket sizes and category growth, along with high ROI for the CPG leader. Eddie Yoon is the founder of Naperville, Ill.-based EddieWouldGrow LLC (, a think tank and advisory firm on growth strategy. He’s the author of the book Superconsumers: A Simple, Speedy and Sustainable Path to Superior Growth (Harvard Business School Press, 2016).

Treena Labode is a business consultant specializing in the development of profitable joint-business planning for CPG and retailer organizations (

Winners' Circle Category Captains share their thoughts about collaboration, technology and the future. By Jim Dudlicek











ollaboration between retailers and CPG suppliers is essential to shopper-centric category management. We asked some of this year’s Category Captains honorees to share their thoughts about the supplier-grocer relationship, technology most essential to success, and what’s in store for the industry in 2020. The following are their responses, edited for space; a longer version can be found at Progressive Grocer: What factors are most important to the supplier-retailer relationship in category management? Tracey Boyd, category development manager, Dole Food Co.: Dole prides itself on clearly understanding and address-

ing the different needs unique to each of our retail partners. Building that true partnership in which retailers trust us and our knowledge of the business is the most critical aspect in that relationship. Gil de Cardenas, CEO, Cacique Inc.: Operations excellence,

quality and authenticity are paramount to both our business and retailers alike. Continued investment in operations innovation allows us to offer impressive speed of delivery and nimble in-store executions to meet specific retailer requests and needs. Our deep-rooted values of quality and authenticity guide our approach to driving category awareness through an optimized experience for all shoppers. Matt Corona, senior director of category management, Molson Coors: We believe

that relationships are earned in three ways: a deep knowledge of how consumers think and behave, understanding our retailers’ strategies and goals, and seeking ways to help retailers solve their most important problems. Shaf Lalani, VP, SDL, Mars Wrigley U.S.: We

must have a shared trust and openness to change, as well as an understanding of their goals and how Mars Wrigley can drive success. We’ve been able to partner with leading retailers, implement our solu-

tions and grow the category, through these factors and our results-proven recommendations. Stacey Ring-Sanders, VP category management, Kellogg Co.: The key component to a success-

ful supplier-retailer relationship is establishing a process that enables collaboration, defines shared goals and focuses on long-term strategic planning. Kellogg supplies best-in-class tools and category insights through a shopper-first lens. Ultimately, success is defined by established aligned expectations and proven impactful shared outcomes. Kerry Rose Stein, category development analyst, Chiquita Brands LLC: The premise of total

store growth is changing as global trends shape the grocery retail outlook. As category experts, retailers trust Chiquita to identify areas of opportunity. Taking a “one size does not fit all” approach, we tailor our services to support each retailer’s specific needs. Mark Stoddard, managing director, category leadership, Nestlé Purina Petcare:

The most important factor is establishing a common view of the category and its future growth drivers. When supplier and retailer see the category the same way, we find that more significant and long-term category-centric solutions will be developed. PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



Category Management Joel Warady, general manager, Enjoy Life Foods: The most

important factor is trust. The retailer must trust that the manufacturer has done the necessary research for that particular category, and thus trust that the manufacturer possesses the necessary knowledge and expertise as to what is currently working within the category, as well as how the category will evolve. Finally, the retailer must trust that the manufacturer is truly looking out for the success of the category as a whole, and not simply for their brand. Ben Woodbridge, director, marketing research, Litehouse Foods: A consumer-centric model, focused on growing a retailer’s

reach with shoppers, is important in order to build trusted relationships with retailers. This means bringing business analysis and solutions that are geared towards growing our retailers’ category sales, like sharing consumer insights from multiple data sources; focusing on the 4Ps of marketing (product, promotion, placement, pricing); and measuring success through performance. PG: Explain what technologies are most significant to growing sales for you and your retailers. Boyd: The human element will always be the most important

factor in impacting sales. Understanding that knowledgeable staff have the biggest influence at point of purchase, some favored technologies that enhance sales growth include reliable sales databases, shopper data and predictive analytics.

while on the go. For example, Mars Wrigley leveraged a national ecommerce site to implement an EEG and eye-tracking test-and-learn, to understand what motivated shoppers’ purchases to help retailers create a more intuitive site. We’re also looking into new technologies to inspire innovative products. Ring-Sanders: Delivering validated insights through

cutting-edge technology is an important deliverable for Kellogg. We employ extensive usage of ShopperMX virtual store platform … [and] utilize Applied Predictive Technologies (APT) to conduct test-andlearn scenarios in-store across all marketing variables. In the last year, we have conducted 120 tests helping our retailers and categories win. Stein: Chiquita launched a B2B website dedicat-

ed to ensuring its retailer partners enjoy the full benefits of its focused service. The website is offered as a one-stop shop of information on how to grow the banana category. The company aims to ensure that the customer experience is consistently improved and optimized to enable them to meet constantly changing consumer needs. Stoddard: With data that can measure and track

through consumer-centric innovation and created a dedicated innovation group to understand developing consumer trends. … [We can] take an idea from concept to shelf in eight to 12 months, inclusive of extensive consumer-customer feedback and iteration through the company’s proprietary consumer panel.

the behavior of today’s omnichannel shopper, you begin to see the shopper not as a single purchase transaction, but a series of transactions along their journey. Today, those data solutions are limited but continuing to get better all the time. It requires a long-term investment to build these solutions, but [it’s] critical to the relevancy of today’s retailer.

Corona: Through our investments in machine learning, we are

Warady: Being able to connect with our consumers

expanding the scale and efficiencies in decision-making, particularly in space and assortment optimization. We’re doubling down in work automation efforts to engage with more retailers across all classes of trade. Yet technology alone won’t be a cure-all for sustainable growth; more than ever, collaborative research across suppliers, retailers and distributors is essential.

via various technology platforms is an integral part of our overall growth strategy. We use technology to drive consumers to our brand within our retail partners, and this is a result of a growing and robust CRM [customer relationship management] platform that we utilize in-house. In-store, we use technology to answer questions regarding nutritional facts as well as providing our consumers with targeted discount offerings based on their profile.

Cardenas: We see it as our responsibility to expand the category

Lalani: Our retailers have an opportunity to redesign the

e-checkout for mobile shopping and connect with consumers

Woodbridge: We utilize data visualization tools

to look for performance patterns in point-of-sale data, and we also look for consumer panel insights to build robust consumer behavior models that influence our category recommendations. PG: What trends or other factors will have the most impact on your business in 2020, and why? Boyd: As always, demographic, economic and com-

petition greatly impacts business decisions and ulti66

mately sales. Additionally, produce is a volatile business; Mother Nature’s impact also factors in greatly. Cardenas: Authenticity remains a value across our core

bicultural Millennial and general-market consumer targets. We also uncovered the insight that today’s consumers not only shop based on specific consumption occasions, but also seek in-store destinations that can easily facilitate these behaviors. This will continue to drive our in-store marketing activity. Corona: Beer will remain a highly dynamic category, driven

by changes in consumer preferences and expectations. Segment boundaries are blurring, particularly among flavored malt beverages, seltzers and ready-to-drink spirits. Shoppers are also raising their expectations for their path to purchase, driven by the shift to quicker trips to retail, and their omnichannel experiences.

Warady: Consumers are becoming more knowl-

edgeable about the food they eat and the choices they make. Our role is to provide our consumers with as much knowledge as possible around our products, our category, and the way we manufacture our products and the ingredients that we use. We launched Project Transparency [under which] we are informing our consumers about all of the ingredients that exist in our facility, how they are used and where in the bakery they exist. Trust and transparency will be major currencies in 2020. Woodbridge: The demand for real ingredients will

Stein: There is increasing evidence regarding the need for sig-

nificant change in how businesses think about and interact with the environment. Chiquita’s work with key stakeholders, actions and projects to improve biodiversity demonstrateh the leadership role that it has taken in this field.

carry into the new year. We’re also going to see purchasing power transition to Millennial parents, which means developing products that meet their household preferences and needs, like creative twists to familiar flavors and convenient offerings.

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Store of the Month

MASTER OF At Stew Leonard’s, the path to growth is paved with perishables, private brands — and puppets. By Gina Acosta Photography by Christine Keeley

you walked into the Stew Leonard’s grocery store in Paramus, N.J., on Sept. 16, a couple of days ahead of its official grand-opening date, you would have been greeted by a live brown cow mooing near the bananas and grapes in the produce department. Martha, a New Jersey-born heifer named after culinary star Martha Stewart, was brought in from Cloverland Farm, in Frenchtown, N.J., to celebrate the store’s grand opening, a fitting tribute to this small grocery chain’s history and to its value proposition for shoppers today. After all, Stew Leonard’s, a northeastern chain of grocery stores based in Norwalk, Conn., began as a dairy. In the early 1920s, Charles Leonard founded a milk delivery company called Clover Farms Dairy in Norwalk. In 1969, the Leonard family moved the dairy plant to another location in Norwalk and opened a small storefront. Eventually, the company expanded that store by adding meat, seafood and other departments, including eclectic features such as a petting zoo and animatronic puppets (the company’s founder was a big fan of Walt Disney). Over the decades, the still-family-owned retailer’s reputation for top-quality fresh food, unique private-brand products and 68

Stew Leonard’s

Paramus, N.J.

Jake Tavello, VP of Stew Leonard's Paramus, N.J., store, offers a friendly greeting in the bakery department.


Stew Leonard’s

In Paramus, Stew Leonard's offers a burger bar, a hot wing bar, a barbecue walk-up counter, an Asian buffet and other tasty hot foods.

The new, 80,000-square-foot Stew Leonard's in Paramus is located in a space at Paramus Park Mall that was formerly occupied by a Sears store. Shoppers who walk into the grocery store, or the mall for that matter, are treated to the aromas of Stew Leonard's brand warm apple cider doughnuts, hot bagels or bread fresh out of the in-store oven.

a “Disney-esque” shopping experience have fueled so much devotion from shoppers that the company has grown into a seven-store chain with annual sales of $500 million. “What we’re trying to do is really create a fun experience in the store,” explains President and CEO Stew Leonard Jr. “That’s the big challenge that all retailers have today. There’s going to be grocery items that shoppers are going to buy over the Internet, like canned food or laundry detergent. Why go to a store for that? So what we try to do is make a big splash in fresh food and create a theatrical environment to make grocery shopping in the store fun.” Leonard isn’t kidding when he talks about fresh food or theatrics: 80% of the assortment in each Stew Leonard’s store is fresh food. When a shopper walks into the Paramus store, for example, the aromas from the mostly scratch bakery and other 70

fresh departments are mesmerizing. Want a freshdipped ice cream cone, a craft cappuccino, a hot cup of clam chowder or a chocolate-chip scone right out of the oven? Stew Leonard’s has all of it, made fresh. The grocer fries its own apple cider doughnuts,

What we try to do is make a big splash in fresh food and create a theatrical environment to make grocery shopping in the store fun.” —Stew Leonard Jr., president and CEO

No ordinary sheep. No ordinary cheeses. Choose to bring unique cheeses to your table. Choose 3 Pecorini. They are produced with 100% sheep’s milk from sheep that are raised freely in very specific regions of Italy, following ancient traditions that shepherds continue to adhere to still today. 3 Pecorini includes Pecorino Sardo, Pecorino Romano and Fiore Sardo, cheeses with a Protected Designation of Origin label that certifies the highest quality guaranteed by their territory of origin. The production of Sardinian P.D.O. cheese is the result of an unspoiled land, a long-standing dairy culture, and the work of a wise team of men. And of sheep. The term “PECORINI” in Italian means cheese made from sheep’s milk. SIGNATI O DE OF




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Stew Leonard’s

boils its own bagels, pulls its own mozzarella, bakes its own pretzels, griddles its own tortillas, and butchers its own meats, all of which can be cut to order. Prepared foods run the gamut from cauliflower-crust pizza (“a big seller”), to every kind of chicken wing preparation known to man, to the most fragrant Thai and Indian dishes — all made on-site. Stew Leonard’s even makes its own ice cream and butter and processes its own milk. At the 80,000-square-foot Paramus store, parents push shopping carts occupied by children visibly in awe of the singing avocado girl puppets near the fruit and vegetable butcher, or the animatronic milk cartons performing their catchy numbers near the dairy case. By creating this theatrical fresh food value proposition, Stew Leonard’s believes that it’s ahead of consumer trends, giving it more than a fighting chance to win the battle against discounters, ecommerce giants and even the big grocery chains, many of which are still behind the eight ball in responding to the way consumers shop today. Modern grocery shoppers, especially Millennials and Gen Zers, want stores that offer more fresh food and “amazing food experiences.” Stew Leonard’s believes it offers all of that — and more. “With today’s shopper, you have to keep the quality high,” Leonard notes. “The food has got to be super-fresh. You have to create a show. We call it ‘show and sell.’ And you have to have great people to help your customers.” 72

The Paramus Stew Leonard's is the first store in the chain to include a wine shop. Private-brand wine sales have been soaring, and the category is a focus for the grocery chain. Also in focus are produce, cheese and meat departments that are known for high quality and freshness. Focusing on fresh food takes a lot of labor and time, the grocer says. Operational priorities include fine-tuning labor hour allocation.

Stew Leonard’s 700 Paramus Park Paramus, NJ 07652

Opening date

Sept. 18, 2019 Hours: Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Total square footage

100,000 (includes upstairs offices and party room)

Selling area in square feet


Employees: 400 Number of checkouts: 25 Designer: Richard Lung, Stew Leonard’s director of art and advertising


Farmers’ Market Fun

Each Stew Leonard’s store, including the new one in Paramus (a wealthy suburb of New York City), has a rustic, farmer’s market-style façade. Inside, a single one-way aisle winds through the store in a zigzag, similar to the experience of walking through an attraction at Disney World. According to company leaders, the design gives the consumer an immersive experience in fresh, aromatic food; wholesome entertainment; and a “customer comes first” congeniality. In fact, the first thing a shopper sees upon entering each Stew Leonard’s store is a sign: “Rule 1: The Customer Is Always Right! Rule 2: If The Customer Is Ever Wrong, Reread Rule 1.” “Stew isn’t just my grandfather’s name — S-T-E-W is an

acronym for our core values,” observes Jake Tavello, Stew Leonard Jr.’s nephew and VP of the store in Paramus. “S stands for service, as in providing great customer service. T stands for teamwork, having a great place to work. E stands for excellence, as in offering high quality. And W is for wow, wowing customers with our fresh food, animatronics, store events, promotions or giveaways.” Despite his connections, Tavello had to meet the company’s strict requirements for all Leonard family members wanting to join the business. They must work three years for another company, get a master’s degree and interview with an executive panel for the job. He paid his dues by putting in three years at Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets. “Wegmans has done a fantastic job,” Tavello says. “They’re a generation ahead of us, so they’re where we’d love to be. They have a great model, but it was interesting to see how ideas evolved there. There’d be a lot of different steps in order to implement an idea and get it into action. And I think where we fit into the marketplace is, we can be agile. So if we see a trend, we’re just going to try and get it started right away.” Since its founding in 1969, the company has grown slowly, not opening its second store until 1992. A third store followed, in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1999, and a fourth store opened in 2007. Since then, the retailer has accelerated its expansion aspirations and opened new stores in PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



Stew Leonard’s 2016, 2017 and, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the company, its seventh and first New Jersey location this year. Many Stew Leonard’s stores span more than 100,000 square feet, but beginning in 2017, the company decided to “downsize” to a format of about 80,000 square feet. The company doesn’t have a central warehouse, so all products come directly to each store. “Our Paramus store is already doing really well,” Leonard says. “We don’t have aggressive expansion plans, but if something exciting comes our way, we’ll probably go with it. I can definitely see that going smaller is better. We have even talked about doing something like a Stew Junior-type store, an even smaller format.” So how does the company plan to offer its famous fresh food theatrics in a smaller format? “I think you can still keep the same energy and experience in the store, but just go smaller,” Leonard replies. Despite its recent ramped-up growth, the company says that for now, it’s hitting the pause button and focusing on operations. Each store has a VP to the c-level executives, with two store directors under the VP. Many managers and other senior-level folks have been moved around as the company has expanded, leading to a sort of restructuring phase for the retailer. “We’ve loved expanding, but I think in the short term, we’re gonna need to rebuild a little bit,” Tavello notes. “One of the things that makes our family proud is that we’ve hired 80% of our management team from within.”

Paramus store VP Jake Tavello is Stew Leonard Jr.’s nephew and a recent Progressive Grocer GenNext Award honoree.

Tavello adds that the grocer’s operational priorities for the coming year include increasing efficiencies when it comes to staff hours and production, despite an ever-tightening labor market. “Focusing on fresh food takes a lot of labor and time,” he says. “We’re going to have to become more

efficient with that and find better ways to do that. We had to interview about 25% more people to open the Paramus store than we did with our previous stores. Plus, with $15 an hour in our operating states, there’s this constant pressure on labor. Managing our business model, making a lot of fresh food, as wages have kept growing, is definitely going to be a challenge.” The company has acquired new technology “that’s going to really help us try to match the sales in the store with the labor hours,” Leonard observes. “What we want to do is make sure we have the right number of people at the right times to help the customer.”

A Brand of Their Own

Another priority for the company is constantly improving its assortment. The average grocery store stocks approximately 40,000 SKUs; Stew Leonard’s offers around 2,000. Center store products are few, because the stores have such a laser focus on fresh. Overall, its private brand penetration is 60%. “Frankly, I’d like to be all private label,” Leonard confides, adding that the combination of fresh food that’s also private branded is proving irresistible to modern shoppers who’ve come to depend on private brands for quality and value often no longer found in national brands. I can definitely “People are reading labels more than see that going they ever have in the past,” Leonard continues. “We have a private-brand marinasmaller is better. We have ra sauce that we just introduced that’s just even talked about doing rocketed. No sugar added or anything like something like a Stew that. So I think for our private label, we have to be clean. And the second thing I Junior-type store, an think people really resonate with is local. even smaller format.” So we’re getting some chips made from a —Stew Leonard Jr., local family in Connecticut. Those are the president and CEO things that today’s customers want.” According to the grocer, shoppers at the Paramus store are asking for more kosher, gluten-free and organic meats. Interestingly, despite the retailer’s fresh food focus, consumer interest in frozen foods has increased as quality in that category has edged up (the Paramus store has 25% more freezer doors than Stew Leonard's previous stores).

Delivering Fresh

Beyond Stew Leonard’s animatronic puppet shows, fresh food and private brands, Tavello takes pride in the fact that the company has finally embraced big data and delivery. “Going forward, you can’t be just one channel,” he asserts. “Even though we’re focused on fresh and customer experience, sometimes people don’t have time for the store. Our delivery offering through Instacart has been a huge hit.” He says that the company is “doing 1,000 orders a week” through Instacart. “What we’ve noticed is, when shoppers trust your quality and your brand, they’re going to trust having your products delivered,” Tavello notes, “and actually, what we found is they are spending twice as much online as they would if they were coming to the store.” The company plans to work on harnessing all of the data from deliveries, and its new app, launched this year, to better understand its customers. “Our growth areas for the future include those grab-and-go convenience items,” Tavello says. “We have a team that just works on developing those. Obviously, delivery is a big growth driver for us. And just staying focused on fresh, even though that’s nothing new for us. But the categories that are growing are really the fresh items.”

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e c e i P r e t n e C A IN AS A M E C A L P


D IS H .

IT S enor TA K E S E C ail Fle U ROD B y D. G

eatless meals are on the increase as consumers try to watch what they eat. Meals centered on fruits and vegetables are gaining in popularity, spawning a wide range of recipes, from casual eats to formal dinners. Produce departments have the opportunity to grab more sales with this new place on the table for these new main-meal dishes. As plant-based eating continues to grow, many of today’s shoppers are looking for more meatless main dishes to include on their holiday tables, or any day. One-third of Americans consider themselves to be “flexitarians”— those who alternate between a produce-based and a meat-based diet, according to the


Ric e cen d caul ifl ter plat ower o eo f vit ffers a ami ns.

Key Takeaways Cauliflower may be the most versatile vegetable as a main dish, due to its size and flavor. Adding vegetables with protein such as lentils or chickpeas to a produce entrée can make it a satisfying main -dish alternative to meat. Younger consumers such as Gen Z and Millennials are highly interested in produce dishes, which bodes well for future sales.



New York Post. In fact, 60% of people are more likely to include at least one produce main dish on their holiday table than in the past, Chicago-based C+R Research has found. Shoppers will be stocking up on a variety of fruits and vegetables for the center of the plate this year, so be sure to offer options that will draw them in.

Great for Home Plates

When I was a kid, cauliflower with cheese sauce was my introduction to this versatile vegetable, and I loved it. There are many dishes that use this vegetable as an ingredient. Cauliflower is also good raw, especially when dieting after the holidays. Today, this cruciferous vegetable is riced, or made into mock mashed potatoes, and pizza crust. It’s high in vitamin C, fiber and other nutrients. Cauliflower’s peak season is fall, but it’s available year-round. The item usually has cream-colored florets, but also comes in natural colors of green (broccoflower), purple or orange. The taste is the same, but the colors are definitely different. “Frieda’s Colored Cauliflower is a great option for holiday main dishes such as whole roasted colored cauliflower with salsa verde,” says Alex Berkley, director of sales for Frieda’s Specialty Produce, based in Los Alamitos, Calif. “Cauliflower continues to explode in popularity, and adding colored cauliflower to your produce set will keep you on trend with consumers.” The colors will make holiday tables special, while the orange and purple varieties are higher in antioxidants, she notes. “Cauliflower is on its fourth year as a trendy produce item,” notes Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Los Angeles-based Melissa’s/World Variety Produce. “This humble produce item has been re-marked as a center-of-the-plate vegetable — plus it is gluten-free.” Schueller notes that the colorful varieties and new uses for cauliflower have brought it into the mainstream, and it’s no longer just a side dish. Cauliflower main-course dishes are limitless, as are possible promotions. Offer customers recipes and samples of dishes in the produce department to boost sales. Whole heads of cauliflower can be sliced into “steaks,” and then topped with caper butter or

Cauliflower has been re-marked as a center-of-the-plate vegetable — plus it is gluten-free.” —Robert Schueller, Melissa’s/World Variety Produce


Meatless Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday . . . Meatless Monday is a national campaign designed to help put more fruits, vegetables and grains in Americans’ diets. In 2003, 222 pounds of meat was the average consumed per year for every person in the United States — double the recommendation, according to the Food Network website. Saturated fat and cholesterol intake were very high as a result, increasing the risk of a variety of diseases. The nonprofit Meatless Mondays initiative was launched in 2003, and is now accepted in more than 40 countries, and offered 20-plus languages. The initiative even has a Meatless Monday website featuring many recipes and free e-cookbooks for download, including “The Meatless Monday Pizza Collection.” Skipping meat at least one day a week is an easy way to teach youngsters about healthy diets. It is becoming more common now to have at least one day a week when meat, chicken or seafood isn’t on the menu. Here are some recipes from Eating Well magazine to give customers for meatless days: http://www. Kale and Roasted Sweet Potato Hash: a one-pan meal Cauliflower Tikki Masala with Chickpeas: an Indian dish in which chicken is swapped for cauliflower and chickpeas Thai Tofu & Vegetable Curry with Zucchini Noodles: a quick Thai curry recipe Jackfruit Sloppy Joes: a meaty tropical fruit Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Almond Pesto and Butter Beans: quick but suitable for guests

a host of other flavors. Cauliflower steaks can also be roasted with a sear in the frying pan, and then finished in the oven, just like meaty steaks, or broiled in large, thick cuts. One recipe recommends two steaks per cauliflower head. Grilled cauliflower steaks can be prepared with spicy rubs, or the whole cauliflower can be roasted, a dish on menus across the country, according to the Food Network. There are also dozens of recipes for cauliflower main dishes on the internet. It’s a good time to take

advantage of cauliflower’s attractions for customers with signage suggesting uses. Since this is still fairly new to supermarkets, it’s time to be on the cutting edge. Most grocers are like Gelson’s Markets, based in Encino, Calif.: They really push beef, seafood and poultry programs but don’t necessarily — at this point, anyway — consider produce as center of the plate. John Savidan, senior director, produce and floral at Gelson’s, admits that he hasn’t had requests from customers for this type of recipe, but guesses if the chain would do something in this area, it would be cauliflower steaks. “Part of the allure of traditional proteins — turkeys, hams, rib roasts, etc. — is that they visually make a statement,” says Andrew Moberly, director, category solutions at Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon. “We are starting to see vegetables that

Romanesco can be used in dishes instead of cauliflower or broccoli.

are being prepared in ways that can have the same attention-grabbing presence. “Whole-head roasted cauliflower with a few seasonings and your favorite oil can produce an impressive — and tasty — main dish,” adds Moberly. “Substituting romanesco can really create an exotic-looking dish.” Romanesco is a member of the Brassica family that includes cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. It has bright-green symmetrical spirals of different sizes, which are actually individual buds of the plant’s flower. Romanesco tastes like cauliflower, but slightly nuttier or earthier. It can be served raw, lightly cooked or thoroughly cooked, and may be substituted in any recipe calling for cauliflower or broccoli.

A Variety of Main Dishes

Produce main dishes can consist of a variety of vegetables or fruit. Although fruit is often thought of only as a dessert at the dinner table, there are options for main dishes. For example, Purple Fruit Salad featuring plums, black grapes, and blueberries or






What’s a Flexitarian? blackberries, with an optional lime yogurt dressing, can stand on its own at a meal. Tropical Fruit Salad with coconut and lime is another fruit meal option. Daymon’s Moberly notes that the types of produce seeing the biggest increase in popularity fall into two main categories. “First, produce items that most closely resemble what they are replacing, from a texture or preparation perspective — like mushrooms, jackfruit, eggplant, lentils, beans/legumes and veggie noodles,” he says. “Also, Vegetable Wellington is an interesting take on a traditional dish that wouldn’t fool anyone that it is not beef, but still has a great flavor.” “Second, items that are great in supporting functional health are used,” Moberly observes. Produce as a whole is healthy, but especially so for those seeking alternative proteins (legumes); more fiber (cooking greens, berries, artichokes); and lower fat/ unsaturated fats (avocados, edamame). “Consumers looking to significantly change their diet will be turning to these types of produce to maintain balanced nutrition,” he says. “Many of them are easy to incorporate into a main dish and are available in different formats at their local grocery store.”

If you plan to promote a meatless day to customers, you might ask them whether they skip meat sometimes. If so, they’re flexitarians — people who don’t stick to one specific eating style and may combine produce-based and meat-based diets. In 2018, one-third of Americans considered themselves to be flexitarian. More than one-half of Americans (52%) are trying to incorporate more plant-based meals into their daily lives, according to a report in the New York Post . Why are people choosing to “flex” their diets? Seven in 10 Americans believe that this change will allow them to eat healthier without depriving themselves of the foods that they love. Here are the top five reasons consumers become flexitarians, according to the Post : To eat healthier without feeling I am depriving myself: To feel better physically: To feel better mentally: To lose weight: To set a good example for my children/others:

70% 69% 57% 46% 27%

Part of the allure of traditional proteins — turkeys, hams, rib roasts, etc. — is they visually make a statement. We are starting to see vegetables that are being prepared in ways that can have the same attentiongrabbing presence.” —Andrew Moberly, Daymon

Green salads are a long-standing meal for many. Warm vegetable salads, however, are a different meal altogether. Check for recipes like Warm Beet-Orange Salad, Eggplant Salad, and Crisp Roasted Cabbage. Another stand-alone vegetable, cabbage, can be chopped in large chunks and roasted, baked or boiled. “Whole roasted cabbage, similar to cauliflower, is easy to season,” suggests Moberly. “Roasting cabbage gives a much different appearance and texture than most consumers might expect.” Squash, in its many varieties, can be the center of many main dishes. “Stuffed butternut, acorn squash and delicata squashes

are a bit more traditional, but they do not lose the visual appeal and can be customized with a variety of ingredients to produce a delicious main course,” Moberly notes. The key to turning acorn squash or any vegetable into an entrée, according to Food Network, is adding protein, like tofu, lentils, chickpeas or beans, plus complementary ingredients to add extra flavor. “Produce as a main dish is a trend that is here to stay,” Moberly asserts. “Despite the increased attention, it really isn’t all that new. What has really changed is consumers are considerably more aware of the health and ecological impacts of eating more produce. We are also seeing that plant- based proteins, and produce in general, are more popular with Gen Z and Millennials than Boomers. This should mean that consumer interest in vegetables and fruit will only increase as younger generations move into prime spending and decision-making years.”

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Meat & Seafood

Publix Takes the Lead on Seafood Sustainability MAJOR CHANGES ARE HAPPENING IN THE GROCER’S SE AFOOD DEPARTMENT. By Mike Troy

igns touting “responsibly sourced” and “sustainably sourced” began showing up in Publix Super Markets’ seafood departments in September. And soon, Publix store-brand seafood packaging will sport a new look for the first time in 15 years. The operator of nearly 1,300 stores wants seafood shoppers to know that its sourcing claims are backed by rigorous quality assurance standards created by third-party organizations so shoppers feel good when buying seafood at Publix, whether fresh or frozen, wild-caught or farm-raised. “We know that in today’s world, customers strongly desire to shop with brands that they believe are part of the solution, not part of the problem, and they demand transparency,” says Pete Mowitt, Publix’s VP of product business development for bakery and meat. “We want our customers to say, ‘I trust the Publix brand. I see they care about my community and the environment. I feel good about shopping at Publix.’” Shoppers have trusted Publix for decades, but with the company being more vocal about the sustainability attributes of its seafood in marketing, store signage and product packaging, a “trust but verify” approach is being taken. Seafood suppliers to Publix that already comply with various requirements of standards-setting organizations will now be subject to new reporting requirements and documentation. “As a company, we’ve always been quiet and just done things behind the


Key Takeaways Seafood suppliers to Publix that already comply with various requirements of standards-setting organizations will now be subject to new reporting requirements and documentation. The grocer recently held a seafood sustainability summit to share its commitment to sustainability, provide an update on key sourcing and regulatory challenges, and provide details on the use of a reporting portal, timelines in regard to a packaging conversion, and key process changes to simplify store-level execution. A key way that Publix thinks about seafood sustainability is the idea of continuous improvement.

store-level execution for employees tasked with making sure that sustainably and responsibly sourced products are properly signed. “You are here today to help us change the industry and drive sustainability forward,” Pizzuti told the roughly 100 attendees at the sustainability event, the third such event Publix has held in the past 10 years. “We need your support to help us get there.”

‘Only in Seafood’

Seafood sustainability, long an emphasis at Publix, is now more aggressively communicated to shoppers, thanks to robust reporting requirements and compliance mechanisms that ensure claims are substantiated.

scenes, but we are jumping out front now,” says Guy Pizzuti, Publix’s seafood category manager. “We are going to start doing reverse audits on sustainability information, because we have to make sure the information we are plugging in is accurate. This is a different game for us, and we are very protective of our brand.” “Brand” is a word that’s used a lot at Publix, and rightly so. The company is a highly regarded food retailer that has earned shoppers’ trust through decades of consistent execution. For example, Publix is one of the few major retailers that offer fresh, never-frozen fish, with many species available for sale just days after they land at a dock. Its latest sustainability efforts are another way to earn trust, but Pizzuti and Mowitt recognize that nothing happens at retail if suppliers aren’t on board with the program. That’s why this past fall, the pair convened a seafood sustainability summit at Publix headquarters in Lakeland, Fla. The goal, broadly, was to share the retailer’s commitment to sustainability, provide an update on key sourcing and regulatory challenges, and then get into nitty-gritty details about the use of a reporting portal, timelines around the packaging conversion, and key process changes to simplify

The retail industry is filled with acronyms, and the seafood category has more than its share. One of the more unusual ones — a uniquely Publix one, in fact — is OIS. “Only in seafood” is a phrase that Pizzuti says is used at Publix due to the category’s many unique and interesting challenges. “There are things that we deal with as an industry that if you are not in this industry, nobody would believe could possibly happen, but it happens every day, and none of us are shocked when it does happen,” Pizzuti adds. What happens in seafood has a lot to do with the sheer complexity of a category and an industry unlike any other in food retailing. Products are sourced globally — they may be wild-caught or farm-raised, depending on a wide array of species and even subspecies, each with different harvesting methods. To top it off, the industry deals with unique labor issues and working conditions on ships, immense regulatory complexity, and environmental and geopolitical challenges, a reality with highly migratory species that don’t respect national boundaries. Pizzuti has had his share of OIS moments at Publix, having led the retailer’s seafood business for more than 20 years. Prior to Publix, the West Virginia native with a degree in marine biology spent six years with the National Marine Fisheries Service. A key moment in Publix’s seafood sustainability journey occurred a little more than 10 years ago, when Pizzuti decided to hold the first seafood sustainability summit. He wasn’t sure at the time about all of the details, or even the objective, but around Publix, employees quote founder George Jenkins the same way that Walmart associates quote Sam Walton. For Pizzuti, the quote that came to mind was “Begin — the rest is easy.”

We know that in today’s world, customers strongly desire to shop with brands that they believe are part of the solution, not part of the problem, and they demand transparency,” —Pete Mowitt, VP of product business development for bakery and meat, Publix Super Markets PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



Meat & Seafood

Except “the rest” wasn’t so easy. Around the time that Publix and Pizzuti were embarking on a seafood sustainability journey, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) active in the marine stewardship world were pressing retailers to publicly share a policy on sustainability. Publix never provided one, and Pizzuti, channeling George Jenkins again, explains the reason for this. “Some companies are founded on policy. This is wrong. Philosophy, the things you believe in, is more important. Philosophy does not change frequently and is never compromised,” Pizzuti says, referencing one of Jenkins’ more obscure quotes. “We weren’t going to write a policy statement with dos and don’ts and hard timelines we weren’t capable of achieving. Instead, we wrote a philosophy statement about how we were going to conduct our business.”

Making a Difference

Publix's pursuit of ambitious sustainability goals is dependent on the support of key suppliers, many of whom gathered at the retailer's Lakeland, Fla., headquarters for an update on key 2020 initiatives.

Waste / Recycle Island

The distinction between policy and philosophy can be subtle at times, but Publix’s approach to sustainability is rooted in three clear foundational principles. For starters, Pizzuti believes that sustainability needs to be “pre-competitive.” “Compete on quality, service, price, the knowledge you can provide and the availability of the products

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you have, but don’t compete on sustainability. Work together on sustainability,” he told attendees at the retailer’s seafood event. Closely tied to the pre-competitive concept is collaboration, not on an individual company-to-retailer basis, but as a critical mass of suppliers working together with a committed retailer to effect change on a larger scale. “Unless we all come together, we are not going to get lasting change that we are all looking for. We can’t move forward independent of each other,” Pizzuti says. Last, the notion of continuous improvement is how Publix thinks about seafood sustainability. Pizzuti isn’t big on timelines and claims; that’s why the company wrote a philosophy statement rather than a policy statement, even though he’s been a tireless advocate for improving seafood sustainability. He also serves as vice chair of the Food Marketing Institute’s Seafood Committee. “We’re not scared of what we’re doing, but the reality is there is a fluidity with this industry that doesn’t exist in other categories. It is a state of constant change, so to try to make claims that something is going to happen when you have zero control over what can happen doesn’t make sense,” Pizzuti says.

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Meat & Seafood

Goals Are Still Important

While Publix was averse to setting specific sustainability targets a decade ago, that never meant the company wasn’t an ardent supporter of NGOs that were setting targets to advance the cause of sustainable seafood. One of those, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), has an initiative called Target 75, which aims to ensure that 75% of world production in key seafood sectors is — at a minimum — either certified sustainable, green-listed in SFP’s Metrics tool, or making regular, verifiable improvements. SFP founder and CEO Jim Cannon was among those participating in the Publix event. He recounted some of the group’s activities and reinforced Pizzuti’s “only in seafood” perspective of an exceedingly complex industry that requires perseverance among many stakeholders. A similar message was shared by John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), an advocacy group for the seafood industry. Between SFP and NFI, the seafood industry is filled with NGOs and industry organizations focused on different aspects: resource sustainability, supply chain issues and labor challenges. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has its certification standard, and the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) has its Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI), which isn’t to be confused with its

Unless we all come together, we are not going to get lasting change that we are all looking for. We can’t move forward independent of each other.” —Guy Pizzuti, seafood category manager, Publix Super Markets

Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI). Then there are FIPs, or fishery improvement projects, which can be undertaken by any organization. From a supplier’s standpoint, the alphabet soup of organizations, initiatives and certification standards also adds complexity to the seafood industry. That’s why the catalyzing efforts of committed executives such as Mowitt and Pizzuti are invaluable to drive the industry forward, help Publix earn shoppers’ trust and sell more seafood in the process.


Workforce Management

Last year, Walmart rolled out an advanced scheduling system, supported by the JDA Workforce Management solution, for its 1.1 million store associates.


n recent years, grocers have been focused on creating the optimal shopping experience for their customers, as they compete to win trips from other retailers. But few have paid the same degree of attention to how they can woo and retain employees — until now. With the retail unemployment rate sitting at a noticeably low 3.6 percent, and new competition cropping up in nontraditional places (like Amazon), a growing number of retailers are realizing that they can’t afford to neglect the people who are most important to their supply chains. Whether filling traditional roles like cashier, or newer positions ranging from barista to stocking orders in “dark stores” to fulfill online orders, the array of labor needs in retailing is more diverse than ever before. At the same time, the labor pool of today represents a new breed of workers who want to be more appreciated, more engaged and given more flexibility. One tool that’s helping retailers solve these challenges is the latest iteration of workforce management systems. With the new technology that’s available, retailers can better communicate with their employees while allowing them to swap schedules or even pick up new ones to make more money, all in one place — often

Key Takeaways Retailers are realizing that they can’t afford to neglect the people who are most important to their supply chains: associates. Using new workforce management technology, retailers can better communicate with employees while allowing them to swap schedules or pick up new ones via mobile phone. Solutions providers have begun adding artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to their platforms to help managers make the best decisions about scheduling.

on a mobile phone. The technology offers a one-two punch by also giving retail management real-time visibility into scheduling and other labor management needs. Essentially, the country’s leading grocers are realizing that to provide the highest level PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



Workforce Management

of customer experience possible, they must have highly trained, highly engaged associates, according to Will Eadie, global VP of sales and alliances at Cincinnati-based WorkJam, who describes his company as a “digital workplace platform” that’s rapidly gaining adoption in the supermarket industry. “We talk to our grocery clients about allowing their employees to have a better digital relationship with them,” he says. “If you do that, your employees feel engaged. “We’re looking to help the large grocers that are going through a digital HCM (human capital management)/WFM (workforce management) transformation, which they all are,” continues Eadie. “Our WorkJam Digital Workplace brings together different back-office applications into one place. As a retailer, you can no longer ask your front line or managers to have six or seven different apps or have to go to six or seven different intranets to do their job. Our platform allows workers to go in and see their schedules, take surveys, do training and get certified for new roles, all in one collaborative place.” The platform also enables companies to communicate at scale with their workforces more easily, he notes. “People of all ages, but especially Millennials, want to understand the ethos of your company,” Eadie observes. “They want to understand what their company’s mission is and to feel that they’re a part of it. When you give them that, it highly engages them.” He adds that WorkJam’s clients have typically experienced adoption rates of 100% monthly active users and 67% daily active users, noting that “traditional intranets get, like, 10% and 12%.”

Walmart’s App for That

One example of new workplace technology being put to good use comes from Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart Inc. Last year, the mega-retailer rolled out an advanced scheduling system, supported by the JDA Workforce Management solution from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based JDA Software. Walmart’s advanced, predictable scheduling system allows its 1.1 million store associates to view schedules, swap shifts and pick up unfilled shifts. It also supports the Walmart “core hours” program, in which associates who prefer more predictability have a core hour schedule and work the same weekly shifts for at least 13 weeks, giving those associates a consistent schedule and the ability to plan their lives around work. To access the system, Walmart’s employees use an app called My Walmart Schedule. In rolling out the new technology, Rory Graham, senior director of workforce management at Walmart, noted, “Our goal has always been to exceed customers’ expectations when they shop, and having our associates in the right place at the right time is the cornerstone to enabling that seamless experience every time.” As another advantage of the technology, Walmart managers have reported that the new simplified approach has saved them a ton of time — as many as eight hours per week. This has allowed them more time to spend on the sales floor with their associates and customers. JDA Software’s VP of retail solutions, Marty Reynolds, says that grocers are using JDA’s latest software for three main purposes: long-range staff planning, forecasting and scheduling based on specific sections of the supermarket, and to engage workers. “When you consider that 63% of today’s workers feel they could get a job elsewhere for more money, and 47% are actively looking for an-


Labor’s Role in Supply Chain Planning Retailers use supply chain forecasts regularly to plan capacity and foresee bottlenecks. Now some large chains are using this planning data throughout their organizations to support inventory planning and workforce optimization both in distribution centers and in stores, according to Michael Falck, co-founder and president, North America, of Atlanta-based Relex Solutions. “Unified retail planning aligns retailers’ processes for maximum business impact,” he says. Even minor improvements to workforce planning can deliver significant cost savings, says Falck. “Personnel costs typically account for some 10% to 20% of turnover [sales] in retail,” he notes. “The most labor-intensive activities in stores include operating checkout counters, merchandising and customer service. Retailers can match their available staff to actual workload by combining retail math with accurate forecasting of both customer flow and the flow of incoming goods.” Falck estimates that retailers leveraging workforce solutions stand to save millions in labor costs by reducing over-staffing.

other job, you have no choice but to look at how you can use technology to engage your workers,” he points out. “So the mobile platform is not only for convenience and to drive that engagement, but managers of today have to be productive and out on the floor coaching employees and interacting with customers.” Looking to the future, JDA is exploring how artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can take its technology to the next level, continues Reynolds. “JDA just purchased Blue Yonder, one of the world’s leading AI/ML vendors,” he notes. “With that purchase, we were able to leapfrog our technology. I expect to see continued advances in this area.”

Whereas previously, flexibility was kind of nice to have, employees today are starting to expect it.” —Amanda Nichols, Kronos


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Workforce Management

The Benefits of Being Flexible

Amanda Nichols, senior manager for the retail, hospitality and foodservice practice at Lowell, Mass.-based Kronos, says that her company’s latest scheduling product, Workforce Dimensions, permits employees more flexibility while giving management ultimate control. Once an employee has requested a shift change, the system can look at the request to make sure that they’re qualified. “If the retailer wants that decision to flow through the manager, then the system can ask the manager if it’s OK,” she explains. Being able to view schedules in real time, switch shifts and pick up new shifts are conveniences that are now expected by many employees, according to Nichols. “Whereas previously, flexibility was kind of nice to have, employees today are starting to expect it,” she says. As for picking up last-minute shifts, she points to “gig” employers such as Uber, which “has the ultimate flexibility — they’ve had sameday pay functionality since 2016,” notes Nichols. “Some employees are starting to expect that kind of flexibility from other employers. At Kronos, we talk about how the employers we work with can offer shifts for people to pick up at the last minute. That way, employees who need extra money can pick up shifts at the last minute, meeting their needs through their current employer, rather than having to do gig work through a company like Uber.” Like JDA, Kronos has begun adding artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to its platform, which help managers make the best decisions about scheduling, adds Nichols. Kronos’ clients can explore basic descriptive and diagnostic analytics, more advanced predictive analytics, or even prescriptive analytics. “At the most basic, descriptive analytics show you what happened, diagnostics help you understand why it happened, and predictive analytics predict what might happen,” she explains. “So, for instance, the system could tell you that next Thursday is going to be really, really busy, so you need to make sure you have enough staff on hand. “Then we have one step after that, which we call prescriptive analytics,” continues Nichols. “This is where the artificial intelligence really comes into play.” Kronos calls its product AIMEE, which stands for Artificial Intelligence for Managers and Employees. “AIMEE is able to understand and interpret all this data,” notes Nichols, “so she can see that the week before Thanksgiving will be really busy, and she can see all the employees who are available. She can make specific recommendations about staffing in specific departments, even at the front registers to make sure the lines keep moving. Then she can build a schedule for the managers based on all those different data inputs, and the manager can take a look and approve it or make recommendations based on his or her own knowledge and experience in the store.” While AIMEE is still relatively new to the market, Nichols says that a few of Kronos’ grocery customers are currently implementing the solution. “We’ve got high hopes and expectations of where AIMEE is going to go,” she asserts. One of Kronos’s customers, family-operated regional chain Roche Bros. Supermarkets, implemented the Kronos Workforce Central suite last year and has reported achieving “strong results” from it. The technology allows the Wellesley, Mass.-based


Room for Improvement Recent surveys conducted by Cincinnatibased digital workplace platform provider WorkJam reveal that many retailers still lag behind in scheduling practices and employee communications. Likewise, a large number of hourly retail employees feel dissatisfied at work.


of retail employees still depend on paper schedules posted in break rooms to learn of their work shifts for the week.


of companies communicate schedules to employees using physical charts.


of employers say the hardest part of scheduling is assigning shifts that accommodate both their staff’s availability and the compny's business needs.

35% 71%

of retail employees feel disengaged from their work.

of dissatisfied hourly employees are currently looking for new jobs, citing unstable schedules and difficulties reaching their managers as reasons for leaving.

grocer to offer its 4,600 associates time and attendance, scheduling, and self-service applications. The system’s forecasting application gives managers at particular locations access to actionable insights, matching labor volume to anticipated demand. This helps avoid under- or over-staffing situations. Michael Moriello, payroll and process analyst at Roche Bros., notes: “Kronos has been instrumental in our efforts to increase employee engagement and labor productivity by not only simplifying the scheduling process, but also by empowering our associates with a workforce management solution that appeals to today’s talent. We anticipate this solution will continue to build on our reputation as a customer-focused employer.”

Our platform allows workers to go in and see their schedules, take surveys, do training and get certified for new roles, all in one collaborative place.” —Will Eadie, WorkJam


General Merchandise


Key Takeaways ith sales forecasted to grow only 1% per year through 2020, grocery stores need to capture a bigger portion of shoppers’ spend. It’s also imperative that retailers cultivate Millennial shoppers, who have higher reported buying rates in grocery stores than any other generation, according to data from Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta. General merchandise categories hit both targets. Given GM’s higher margins, opportunity to spark impulse purchases that build baskets, and power to help build experiential departments that define stores, retailers

Given its higher margins, opportunity to spark impulse purchases, and power to help build experiential departments, retailers can’t afford to ignore general merchandise categories. Wegmans and Kroger are among the retailers that have been successful at creating nonfood destinations by focusing on assortment differentiators for a more targeted approach. To make a significant impact on customers, retailers must invest in GM and consider merchandising based on solution rather than by category. PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



General Merchandise

can’t afford to ignore those categories. According to Mark Mechelse, VP of insights and communications with Colorado Springs, Colo.-based GMDC/Retail Tomorrow, strong GM departments are critical to retailers’ overall performance. “Nonfood products yield high-margin opportunities across the center store and perimeter,” Mechelse says. “The right GM assortment also allows brick-and-mortar retailers to fulfill shoppers’ trip missions and meet the consumer’s evolving expectations for speed and convenience.” Colin Stewart, EVP, business intelligence at Acosta, sees general merchandise as a way to capture a bigger portion of shoppers’ spend. “Diversifying and strengthening offerings in departments beyond food help create a one-stop-shopping experience that mirrors the convenience of shopping online,” Stewart notes. “Our research shows shoppers are willing to buy more GM products in grocery stores, and shoppers with GM products in their baskets typically spend more.” He observes that top categories for increased GM sales include culinary items, office products and foil pans. As important as general merchandise categories can be, though, they’re often overlooked in the grocery channel. “In many supermarkets, nonfood departments contain the same old assortment year-round of private label products at entry-level price points,” says Amanda Lai, senior consultant at McMillan Doolittle, a Chicago-based consulting firm. “There’s not much excitement.”

Wegmans created a holiday baking end cap with premium products near its housewares aisle.

Tell a Story

Lai recommends that supermarkets look at nonfood categories as an integral part of the full solution that they offer consumers. “When they provide a solution and tell a story with merchandise, they can create a destination department,” she says. “Every time a consumer visits the store, there’s an opportunity for storytelling.” GMDC/Retail Tomorrow’s Mechelse views general merchandise categories as a key component in creating a holistic store experience. “Honing in on assortment differentiators is one of the strongest strategies that retailers can apply to enhance their GM departments and provide a more targeted approach for today’s consumer,” he notes. Wegmans Food Markets has been hugely successful on this front. In its significant Home & Entertaining departments, the Rochester, N.Y.-based retailer dedicates space to the bakeware, cookware, kitchen tools, ceramic dinnerware, stemware and drinkware, and entertaining and serving segments in its ample housewares section, using prominent signage to call out each category.

Nonfood products yield highmargin opportunities across the center store and perimeter. The right GM assortment also allows brick-and-mortar retailers to fulfill shoppers’ trip missions and meet the consumer’s evolving expectations for speed and convenience.” —Mark Mechelse, GMDC/Retail Tomorrow


Wegmans also makes the most of seasonal opportunities, creating excitement with an end cap table display of seasonally themed home and entertaining products that continually changes. A recent display featured a variety of Thanksgiving merchandise, from a set of four fall-themed dinner plates priced at $24.99, to tablecloths retailing for $14.99. Fall-themed serveware, glassware and napkins, along with flatware, were included in the display, with seasonal candles and dish towels featured on an adjacent fixture. A limited selection of Christmas-themed tableware was on a nearby display, serving as a teaser before a full rollout after Thanksgiving weekend. Wegmans seizes seasonal opportunities for nonfood categories in other areas of the store as well. The supermarket chain featured an end cap that incorporated holiday dish towels, priced from $3.99 to $5.99, and cookie sheets, priced between $9.99 and $13.99, in addition to gift-worthy baking sets and an array of holiday-themed baking tools. The display, positioned adjacent to a 4-foot seasonal section of holiday cookie bags and boxes, and rounded out by a floorstand featuring premium Ann Clark cookie cutters retailing for $3.99, left shoppers with little reason to venture to mass merchants or specialty retailers for their holiday baking needs. At the back of the store, the chain featured a four-sided Hanukkah display, which incorporated menorahs, candles, candy, tableware, and Hanukkah-themed

socks and plush toys. Weeks before the holiday, the eye-catching display cued customers to the approaching season and sparked impulse purchases. The Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati, also places a premium on nonfood categories in its stores. “Kroger uses its Fred Meyer-based experience as the basis for its approach to general merchandise for the rest of the chain,” says Lai. “That dedicated general merchandise team from Fred Meyer buys for the entire chain.” She adds that Kroger’s success with general merchandise is a direct result of that expertise and attention the category is given from the Fred Meyer buyers. “Supermarkets can create those destination departments, but they need to dedicate the time, space and staff to nonfoods categories,” Lai advises.

Maximum Impact

When retailers invest in general merchandise, they can create sections that have a huge impact. Kings Food Markets, the Parsippany, N.J.-based chain that also operates Balducci’s, creates significant seasonal sections in its stores, including premium-priced soaps, candles, home décor items and housewares, in departments adjacent to floral. A number of specialty food retailers have carved out space for high-end housewares and gift sections. Lai points to Metropolitan Market, a seven-unit chain based in Seattle, which has created boutiques within its stores that showcase high-end barware, cookware and housewares. Gelson’s Markets, a 27-unit chain based in Encino, Calif., has created a destination upscale toy department in some locations. In its Del Mar, Calif., store, one end cap is permanently devoted to premium toys from manufacturer Melissa & Doug. In early fall, the store expanded its selection of wooden cooking-themed toys and puzzles to an additional end cap for a special promotion with the manufacturer, and plans to expand its selection further during the holiday season to include an island display, in addition to the two end caps. Acosta’s Stewart notes that retailers are offering “store-within-astore” destinations with themes ranging from baby care to sun care to grilling. South Korean chain PK Market has gone even further with its housewares sections, merchandising products in a section modeled on an upscale kitchen. “The setting is aspirational, with cookware hanging over a stone-topped sink,” Lai says. “It’s a break from the typical gondola approach.”

More than 50% of shoppers shop the perimeter of the store weekly, compared to about 20% who shop GM each week, so retailers should incorporate general merchandise into the perimeter, so customers can then easily access the nonfood products they want and, equally as important, the ones they didn’t know they wanted.” —Colin Stewart, Acosta

based on solution rather than just category,” says Lai. When retailers merchandise coffee makers, grinders and filters next to the coffee, they create experiences that set their stores apart from other options. “Retailers are creating permanent rotating displays in perimeter departments, such as barbecue supplies in the produce or meat department,” notes Stewart. “We are seeing supermarkets tie in perimeter products with other categories by cross promoting in feature ads and promoting for awareness — not at deep discounts.” According to Lai, using promotional events to tie nonfood items to grocery is another way to provide full solutions that address all aspects of consumers’ cooking needs. “When they are sampling a food product," she says, "retailers have an opportunity to showcase the cooking appliance used to make it, or the cooking tools and the cookbook used.” A four-sided Hanukkah display near the back of the store generates impulse sales at Wegmans.

Solutions-Based Merchandising

According to experts, retailers are also making the most of logical adjacencies to create in-store experiences that appeal to their highest-value shoppers. “More than 50% of shoppers shop the perimeter of the store weekly, compared to about 20% who shop GM each week, so retailers should incorporate general merchandise into the perimeter, so customers can then easily access the nonfood products they want and, equally as important, the ones they didn’t know they wanted,” Stewart suggests. Pairing food-related GM products with food items — like cedar planks with salmon — gives shoppers new ideas and can drive impulse purchases. “Retailers should consider merchandising PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



Happy Holiday Season AND A


Prosperous New Year!



Abby Gina


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Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Go Seedless

Divine Right

Socially conscious brand Divine Chocolate has added a light, crunchy snack to its Fairtrade product line: Divine Chocolate Crispy Thins. Made with natural ingredients and containing fewer than 20 calories per thin, these smaller portions provide a lighter snacking alternative in the chocolate aisle with their unique shape and texture. The line comes in Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Mint, Milk Chocolate, and Milk Chocolate with Caramel and Sea Salt. Suitable for casual gifting, enjoying alone or sharing with friends, a 2.8-ounce package of Crispy Thins retails for a suggested $3.50. Divine Chocolate is a Certified B Corporation driven by a social mission: to bring people together using the power of chocolate, creating trading relations that empower both producers and consumers.

Less is More

Free of the top eight allergens — no wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, fish and shellfish — Partake Foods’ cookies are made using simple, whole-food ingredients. The gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO cookies also contain 20% to 30% less sugar than comparable products on the market, according to Partake, which bills itself as the only cookie company to have glyphosate residue-free certification. Five varieties are available: Birthday Cake, Carrot Cake, Double Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip and Ginger Snap. A 5.5-ounce box retails for a suggested $5.99.

Nuts About Pie

Century-old producer of specialty nuts Diamond of California has introduced what the company says is the first ready-to-use nut pie crusts available on grocery shelves nationwide, as well as the category’s first-ever crusts made with farm-grown tree nuts instead of pressed cookie crumbs. Diamond’s recipe pulses pecans or walnuts into a fine powder for a moist, crumbly, flavor-packed crust containing just a few natural, nutritious ingredients, chief among them nuts. The Walnut crust is chewy, bold and rich in flavor, and adds a layer of crunch to any filling, while the Pecan crust is naturally buttery and slightly sweet, lending a caramel-like flavor to any pie. Either 6-inch crust retails for a suggested $3.99.


Premium, Non-GMO Project Verified Wonderful Seedless Lemons are coming to supermarket produce departments across the United States and Canada, as well as debuting online at Amazon Fresh. Available in limited quantities in its first year, the naturally seedless variety is launching seasonally through May 2020. The lemons eliminate the need to remove seeds when whipping up recipes. According to a third-party study commissioned by The Wonderful Co. that surveyed lemon buyers, 83% are likely to buy a seedless lemon, and 81% believe that seedless lemons would be more convenient than lemons with seeds. Discovered and developed in Australia, the Wonderful Seedless Lemons variety is juicy and flavorful with a smooth rind, requires no pollination to propagate, and is grown in California. The fruit is supported by a robust consumer marketing campaign, including in-store point-of-sale displays, in addition to digital and influencer marketing initiatives to introduce the branded packaging and create a bigger marketplace for bagged lemons. Wonderful Citrus owns the exclusive rights to sell and market this seedless lemon variety in North America. The lemons are available in 1- and 2-pound bags.

Milk to Grow On

A brand of Danone North America, Horizon Organic has created Growing Years milk in partnership with pediatricians to deliver key nutrients to children ages 1 to 5. Every 8-ounce serving of Growing Years contains DHA omega-3 to support brain health, choline to transport DHA in the body, prebiotics that feed good bacteria in young bellies, and vitamin D and calcium for strong, growing bones. While the nutrients found in Growing Years may be specially formulated for developing bodies, however, the commitment to quality and taste is consistent with the rest of Horizon Organic’s products, which are sourced from pasture-raised cows that spend at least 120 days grazing each year at a network of more than 600 certified-organic family farms across the country. A half-gallon carton of Growing Years milk retails for a suggested $5.99.;

Quality You Can See

Sparkle Plenty

For its first major brand launch in more than a decade, Coca-Cola North America will augment its water lineup this March with AHA, a sparkling product line featuring unexpected yet accessible flavor pairings, vibrant packaging, and inviting, inclusive marketing to meet evolving consumer needs. AHA comes in eight bold flavor fusions – Lime + Watermelon, Strawberry + Cucumber, Citrus + Green Tea, Black Cherry + Coffee, Orange + Grapefruit, Apple + Ginger, Blueberry + Pomegranate, and Peach + Honey, each pairing widely appealing fruit flavors with trending but less common ones. Citrus + Green Tea and Black Cherry + Coffee both include 30 milligrams of added caffeine for an anytime energy boost. The calorie- and sodium-free offerings will be available in multipacks of 12-fluid-ounce cans and in 16-fluid-ounce individual cans. AHA will be priced in line with products found in the mainstream sparkling water category.

Rao’s Homemade, a Sovos Brands line known for its premium pasta sauces, has now come out with a collection of soups made with real ingredients, and no artificial flavors or colors. Packaged in clear glass jars, the shelf-stable, readyto-serve premium soup line consists of Italian Wedding, Chicken Noodle, Vegetable Minestrone, Pasta & Fagioli, Tomato Basil, and Chicken & Gnocchi. All six authentic Italian-style varieties feature slow-simmered broths enhanced with aromatic seasoning blends. A 16-ounce glass jar retails for a suggested $;

Silver Standard

New Zealand’s largest grass-fed lamb, beef and venison producer, Silver Fern Farms, has entered the U.S. retail market. The company’s products had previously only been available to restaurants, specialty butcher shops and industry professionals in North America. With the brand’s 100% standard program, Silver Fern Farms’ farmers surpass the already world-leading New Zealand industry standard to produce meat that’s 100% grassfed, 100% pasture-raised, with no antibiotics ever, no added hormones ever, and no feedlots at any time in the animals’ lives. The company also uses Oritain’s Scientific Traceability system to verify the origin of its red meat, and its retail products will soon feature a QR code-enabled onpack product traceability system that will allow consumers to trace where the meat comes from and the quality of its environment. Available products in the United States are Premium Ground Beef, Premium Ground Lamb, Lamb Medallions, Lamb Steaks, Premium Ground Venison and Venison Medallions, with more items to come next year. Products have a starting price point of $10.99. PROGRESSIVE GROCER December 2019



For grocers, money talks, and cash recyclers walk the walk. From automated, accurate counting to reduced idle cash and third-party fees, the benefits of cash recycling technology are many. And what’s more, these nifty solutions are tailor-made to streamline operations for grocery retailers. We sat down with two cash management industry experts to get a frontline look at exactly how cash recyclers are transforming the industry.

A Q&A with: Tim Adair, VP of SafePoint® Recycler Program at Loomis Tony Walker, Executive VP of Sales & Marketing at Revolution Retail Systems

Q: How have you seen cash recyclers transform the industry? Tony: Cash recyclers enable grocers and other retailers to streamline their cash-handling process, improve efficiency, and compared to a traditional smart safe, it builds a significantly stronger return on investment (ROI) for the operator. Operators are facing a lot of external pressure right now to cut costs as minimum wage increases and unemployment is at its lowest level. Grocers are motivated to maximize their operational efficiency, and cash recyclers help them do that. Tim: With a cash recycler, operators can automate virtually all cash functions within their store. In addition to automation, recyclers help reduce armored car frequency and streamline reconciliation and bank deposit processes. We’ve seen eight plus hours of labor savings daily per store achieved with cash recyclers in the grocery environment.

Q: What features set cash recyclers apart from smart safes? Tim: With a smart safe, operators can achieve the benefit of automating some of their banking and reconciliation processes. But with a cash recycler, operators can achieve complete automation of banking and reconciliation processes, which results in a significant labor reduction at the start-of- shift and end-of-shift not only for the back office functions, but also at the individual cashier level. Tony: The biggest difference is that adopting a recycler program provides more labor reduction benefits by automating the entire check-in and check-out process of a shift while accounting for all cash and coin in the store. It further reduces the amount of idle cash in a store and enables the store to reconcile to the exact penny on a day-to-day basis. A smart safe program provides the ability for both depository and provisional credit, but does not provide the same labor reduction capabilities as a recycler program.

Q: What do customers say is the biggest game changer with implementing cash recycler technology? Tony: It all comes down to the ROI and improving the customer experience. Providing a great customer experience goes a long way in the retail industry, and grocers are constantly looking for ways to improve. The recycler allows them to reallocate labor into customerfacing positions that are going to enhance their customer experience and ultimately their reputation. Tim: That’s the number one thing we’re hearing right now from our customers—“How do I improve the customer experience?” When retailers have the opportunity to free up non-value-add labor to accomplish this, it’s a very desirable point of focus.

Learn more at

When others manage, Loomis solves. Loomis is changing business-as-usual with solutions that do more than manage—they transform the industry. Today, the Titan R® is doing the same for retail. Powered by the latest technology and industry-leading support, the Titan R reduces cost, improves fund availability, and enables precise cash reconciliation.

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11,000 pet lovers strong. Where do thousands of pet lovers come together every day? Purina. And the best part is, Purina employees also happen to be experts. That’s a powerful combination—love and expertise—inspiring safe, best-in-class pet food solutions, and breakthroughs beyond the bowl like increasing pet adoptions, a cleaner environment and more. Thank you, Progressive Grocer, for recognizing Nestle Purina for our 4th Category Captain Award since 2013!


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