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MAKING HISTORY More than a century of grocery’s pivotal moments PARTY ON Getting on board with charcuterie trends EAT DIFFERENTLY PuraVida’s plans to revolutionize the food industry

Full, Fresh & Friendly Kroger builds a grocery ecosystem for the future

April 2022

Volume 101, Number 4

Lead W Lead W


At Tyson Fresh Meats, we believe Atchampion Tyson Fresh Meats,agriculture, we believe for American th

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*Minimally processed. No artificial ingredients. ®/ TM/© 2022 Tyson Foods, Inc

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Providing safe and wholesome fresh meats is our top priority. We’re

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Chairman’s Reserve® Meats | Open Prairie® Natural* Meats ibp Trusted Excellence® Brand | Reuben® Corned Beef Star Ranch Angus® Beef

Contents 04. 22

Volume 101 Issue 4

22 Features


Grocery’s Greatest Stories Part 1


22 Full, Fresh and Friendly Kroger builds a grocery ecosystem for the future.




Health and Beauty Care

Is Plant-Based Eating Better for You?


Home Is Where the Store Is




June 2022


Progressive Grocer takes a look back at some of the defining news stories from the past 100-plus years and how they shaped the industry we know today.

Milk and Nondairy Milk


Local Woman Makes Good

To GOYA®’S line of Coconut Waters. Our product portfolio includes GOYA® Coconut Water with Pulp, the top-selling SKU nationwide*, and our Pure Coconut Water line, winner of the ChefsBest Excellence Award** for its outstanding quality. Your health-conscious shoppers will love these high-quality, better-for-you beverages!

Contact your GOYA® representative or email | *Nielsen Answers on Demand, Total U.S. (All Outlets Combined), unit sales, 52 weeks ending 01/01/22 **The ChefsBest® Excellence Award is awarded to brands that surpass quality standards established by independent professional chefs.

©2022 Goya Foods, Inc.

Contents 04.22

Volume 101 Issue 4

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


GROCERY GROUP PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672

Boarding Passes

EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Gina Acosta 813-417-4149

All options are on the table — or the platter — when it comes to charcuterie.

MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 347-962-9395 SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Marian Zboraj 773-992-4405


SENIOR EDITOR Lynn Petrak 708-945-0415

Grilling Season Is Heating Up


With Americans expected to gather in larger groups this summer amid lower COVID concerns, retailers need to update their fresh meat departments.





Unlimited Appeal

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373

Limited-edition beverages add excitement — and sales — to the category.


46 CPG Q&A


The Power of Food


PuraVida CEO Lauren Watkins is on a mission to revolutionize the food industry.

MARKETING BRAND MARKETING MANAGER Rebecca Martin 773-992-4407 AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Marie Briganti 914-309-3378




ART DIRECTOR Bill Antkowiak

Tactics for Transformation


Jessica White Hall’s Simpactful helps retailers and CPGs solve today’s biggest challenges in grocery. 52 SPECIAL REPORT


Sustainability Matters

Retailers and manufacturers ramp up their efforts in this increasingly important area. 82 EQUIPMENT & DESIGN

Tried and True Refrigerant Solutions

These safe, simple and sustainable systems are the best way to go for grocers.

82 6


PROGRESSIVE GROCER (ISSN 0033-0787, USPS 920-600) is published monthly by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Single copy price $14, except selected special issues. Foreign single copy price $16, except selected special issues. Subscription: $125 a year; $230 for a two year supscription; Canada/Mexico $150 for a one year supscription; $270 for a two year supscription (Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40031729. Foreign $170 a one year supscrption; $325 for a two year supscription (call for air mail rates). Digital Subscription: $87 one year supscription; $161 two year supscription. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL 60631 and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: Send all address changes to brand, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200. Copyright ©2022 EnsembleIQ All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce in whole or in part. All letters to the editors of this magazine will be treated as having been submitted for publication. The magazine reserves the right to edit and abridge them. The publication is available in microform from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.

EDITOR’S NOTE By Gina Acosta

Home Is Where the Store Is WHY SHOPPERS ARE CR AMMING GROCERY AISLES AGAIN. n March, Adobe released data showing just how transformative the pandemic has been for the grocery industry. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many consumers have switched to shopping online for groceries, which now make up 8.9% of the e-commerce market overall (up from 6.3% in 2019). Recently, the U.S. online grocery market generated $8.7 billion in sales during February, a gain of 8.5% compared with the same period a year ago, according to the latest Brick Meets Click/ Mercatus Grocery Shopping Survey. Yet, despite all of this e-commerce growth, nearly nine in 10 household shoppers still do most or all of their grocery cart filling in person, according to another survey, this time from Advantage Sales. The reality is that physical stores still really matter, including to me. In fact, the store matters so much that it’s my deciding factor on where to live. A few months ago, I came to the conclusion that I have outgrown my current address and need to find a new home with better office space (I work from home). So I have spent some time looking at homes in my city and also out in the suburbs. I visited one subdivision called Lake View and fell in love with the new homes being built there — homes not too big and not too small, with offices pre-wired for high-speed internet (important when you’re hosting virtual events for America’s leading grocery publication!). But when I drove around the Lake View area looking for the nearest grocery store, there were none. In fact, I couldn’t find a food retailer within 10 miles of the development. And my favorite grocery store was at least 25 miles away. I immediately took Lake View off my list of potential places to live.

Are we building enough grocery stores, with enticing omnichannel designs, for the demand that we’ll have in five, 10 or 20 years?

Keep Them Close

I like roaming the aisles of the grocery store, and picking out the perfect set of avocados, ones that will ripen on different days. There are lots of Americans like me who still want to shop in person, no matter how good your app is or how fast your delivery is. When Advantage Sales released its “What Brick-and-Mortar Grocery Shoppers Really Want” report in January, it found that grocery shoppers want their brick-and-mortar grocery store to be clean, offer everyday low 8

prices, stock a wide variety of products, have an excellent produce department, provide pharmacy and health services, and be located close to their home. This is why Amazon, Dollar General, Publix and so many other food retailers are focused on opening hundreds of physical stores this year. Amazon specifically is going to open a bunch of physical grocery stores in suburban areas as consumers spend less time in the office and more time working from home. I know that a lot of food retailers are laser focused on technology and e-commerce these days (and they should be), but the physical store shouldn’t be taking a backseat to digital. The pandemic has blurred the lines of where people live; many Americans now work from home, from anywhere. People are moving to suburbs and far-off places that are cheaper. At the same time, Millennials are the biggest generation, and they’re entering the home-buying age. Are we building enough grocery stores, with enticing omnichannel designs, for the demand that we’ll have in five, 10 or 20 years? Whether due to the easing of the pandemic, nostalgia, cost or new working habits, shoppers are flocking back to stores. Will the industry be ready? Gina Acosta Editor-In-Chief





Calendar S



National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month National Candy Month National Country Cooking Month




National Hazel Nut Cake Day National Olive Day

National Dairy Month National Iced Tea Month National Papaya Month National Pollinators Month







National Rotisserie National Egg Day. Chicken Day. It’s still incredible and Remind shoppers always edible. that this prepared food stalwart is the perfect center-of-the-plate protein to pick up on the way home from work.

National Cheese Day. Make sure you celebrate the occasion in both the deli and the dairy department.



























National Veggie Burger Day. Tout your selection of meatless alternatives for summer cookouts.

National Red Rose Day. Your floral department should be abloom with this signature flower for the occasion.

Juneteenth. Take the time to observe the first federal holiday established since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

National Barcode Day. This day marks the first-ever public use of the now ubiquitous UPC code, at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio, in 1974.


National Gardening Exercise Day. Promote the healthy aspects of the pastime, along with a sale on implements.

National Sewing Machine Day Let the sewing enthusiasts among your customers know that they can purchase an array of notions in your nonfood section.

World Refugee Day. Give a thought (and whatever funds you can spare) to those driven from their homes by war, famine or other disasters.

National Onion Day. There may be tears when you slice it, but this vegetable undoubtedly adds flavor to our lives.

National Oklahoma Day. It’s more than OK to spotlight the foods and beverages of the Sooner State today.

National New Mexico Day. Highlight all of the great fare from the Land of Enchantment.

National Selfie Day. Run a contest among your customers and post the best ones on social media.

National Logistics Day. Salute those along the supply chain who get the products to your stores that customers need and want.

National Upsy Daisy Day. Encourage positivity among staffers, and award a prize for cheeriest demeanor.

National Bug Busting Day. If nits or full-blown head lice strike, your stores have the remedies.

It may be National Kissing Day, but please ask before you pucker up.

Camera Day. Remember those? People used them to capture images before there were smartphones.

National Earl Day. Offer any associates or customers with the name a free cookie at the bakery, just for being them.

National Career Nurse Assistants Day. These invaluable workers deserve a special discount.

National Pink Day. Showcase flower arrangements and bakery treats incorporating all shades of this beloved color.

National Handshake Day. Let’s not retire the pandemic-inspired elbow bump all at once, though.

National Ballpoint Pen Day. Direct customers to the office supply section to stock up on these elusive items that always seem to vanish when you need them.

National Take Back the Lunch Break Day. Shoppers can start in the deli and prepared food section.

National Making Life Beautiful Day. Pay tribute to your associates and customers who are doing just that by helping the community.

International Sushi Day. Invite customers to observe your sushi chef hard at work preparing these bite-sized seafood masterpieces.

Midsummer. The Bourdain Day. days are only going to On his birthday, get shorter after this. commemorate the life of the late chef and food influencer by encouraging shoppers to cook and eat something out of their comfort zone.


Shelf Stoppers

Health & Beauty Care

Basket Facts

Total Department Performance Health & Beauty Care

Latest 52 Wks 03/12/22

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 03/13/21

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 03/14/20




Top Health & Beauty Care Categories by Dollar Sales Supplements

Internal Analgesics



Body Wash


How much is the average American household spending per trip on various health & beauty care products versus the year-ago period?

7,000,000,000 6,000,000,000 5,000,000,000 4,000,000,000



on all health & beauty care items, up 0.5% compared with a year ago

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

Latest 52 Wks W/E 03/12/22

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 03/13/21

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 03/14/20

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) for the 52 weeks ending March 12, 2022

Cross-Merch Candidates Fruit Snacks

Toaster Pastries

Feminine Care

Diapering Needs

Wraps and Tortilla Shells

Fully Cooked Meat


on allergy products, up 3.4% compared with a year ago


on body lotion, up 2.5% compared with a year ago Meal Combos

Writing Tools and Supplies


Generational Snapshot Which cohort is spending, on average, the most per trip on body wash?


on facial moisturizer, up 7.6% compared with a year ago Millennials

Gen Xers


The Greatest Generation





Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Feb. 26, 2022


Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Feb. 26, 2022


Global New Products Database

Milk and Nondairy milk Market Overview

Pre-pandemic (2016-19), the milk market faced several years of decline and stagnancy as dairy milk navigated fluctuating prices and consumers’ dissatisfaction with mainstream offerings.

Key Issues

The portion of consumers purchasing unflavored dairy milk was 20 points lower in 2021 than the year prior — falling below the majority of U.S. households.

50% of consumers say that they consume only dairy products, while 38% of consumers say that they consume both dairy and dairy alternatives.

The majority of U.S. adults believe that dairy products have a positive impact on health, and dairy milk has a greater perception of nutrition than dairyalternative milk.

The transition back to away-from-home activities contributed to an estimated 3% decline in the total milk market by the end of 2021, driven primarily by an estimated 6.5% drop in the dominant dairy milk category.

A large-scale barrier for the category is the increasing popularity of online shopping trends. Dairy and nondairy milk brands need to employ creative tactics that address health and safety concerns such as delivery speed and guarantees.

of consumers believe that dairy has a positive impact on their health.


What Consumers Want, and Why In the pursuit of what’s fresh and exciting to the new era of milk drinkers, brands must continue to prioritize delivering on the attributes and benefits that consumers have come to rely on, such as protein, bone health, and high vitamin and mineral content. Amid a level of functional interest in dairy and dairy-alternative milk, especially among young adults, purchase- and trialdriving attributes reveal a continued prioritization of the fundamentals. Gen Z consumers in this category are influenced by ethics, specifically surrounding the environment and animal welfare, and they’re more likely than the general consumer to follow up on brand claims through online and social media research.




By Diane Quagliani, MBA, RDN, LDN

Is Plant-Based Eating Better for You? RE TAILERS CAN SHOW SHOPPERS THE WAY. he explosive growth of foods marketed as “plant-based” is due, in part, to consumer perceptions that plant-based options are more healthful — perceptions that aren’t always true. The point is driven home by findings from the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2021 Food & Health Survey. When respondents were told that two products had the same Nutrition Facts Panel, but one was labeled “plant-based food” and the other wasn’t, about four times more respondents said that the plant-based option was more likely to be healthier. The fact is, though, that all plant-based foods are not created equal when it comes to nutrition. The foundations of a healthful plant-based diet are nutrient-rich plant foods — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds — and foods predominantly made from them. Snacks, sweets and other treats labeled “plant-based” are an enjoyable part of plant-based eating, but choosing them alone isn’t necessarily a step toward a healthful diet.

Just What is Plant-Based Eating?

The Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) defines plant-based foods as “foods made from plants that contain no animal-derived ingredients.” There’s no single type of “plant-based diet,” but it’s generally defined as a diet that completely or predominantly consists of plant foods. Examples are vegan diets, which include no animal products; vegetarian diets, which include dairy and/or eggs; and the Mediterranean diet, which includes small amounts of meat, poultry, seafood and dairy. Many people are simply striving to eat fewer animal foods and more plant foods. Flexitarians, a fast-growing group that’s actively reducing meat and dairy

All plant-based foods are not created equal when it comes to nutrition. 14

consumption, are driving purchases of plantbased alternatives. About three in 10 (29%) shoppers identify as flexitarians, according to survey data from the PBFA. Market potential is especially high among Millennials: 30% are trying to eat more plant-based foods, and 79% already eat plant-based meats.

Is Plant-Based Eating Better for You?

The short answer is yes, within certain parameters. Diets aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans — abundant in nutritious plant foods, with limited saturated fat, sodium and added sugars — are linked with several potential health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and certain cancers. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines name vegetarian and Mediterranean-style diets as two recommended eating patterns for good health. A third recommended pattern, known as “Healthy U.S.-Style,” contains far more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes than the typical American eats.

Teaching Plant-Based Eating

Retailers and retail dietitians can point shoppers toward healthful plant-based eating. Use icons, signage and messaging to educate shoppers about the health benefits of plant-based foods and the most nutritious options. Teach shoppers to look beyond plant-based claims and to assess the Nutrition Facts panel. Taste is still the top purchase driver. Use sampling and cooking demos as no-risk ways for shoppers to try new plant-based alternatives and traditional ones like tofu and tempeh. Offer easy plant-focused tips, recipes and meal ideas. For the less adventurous, include favorites like chili made with less meat and more beans, or spaghetti sauce made with plant-based crumbles. For cost-conscious shoppers, highlight economical options like beans and lentils, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, and whole grains like oats and brown rice.

Diane Quagliani, MBA, RDN, LDN, specializes in nutrition communications for consumer and health professional audiences. She has assisted national retailers and CPGs with nutrition strategy, web content development, trade show exhibiting, and the creation and implementation of shelf tag programs.

Don't congra miss tu t h e w i n l at i n g n with an ers in the ad Jun issue! e

Nov. 3-4, 2022 | Orlando, FL Progressive Grocer's Top Women in Grocery award is the most prestigious honor for female leaders in the grocery industry. Award winners represent all levels in the industry within both the retailer and supplier communities and are celebrated in our June issue!

We would like to thank the following sponsors who have already signed on to help us bring this exciting event to life this November:

Want to learn more about available sponsorship opportunities and pricing? Contact your sales representative today! Tammy Rokowski Associate Publisher, Regional Sales Manager Southwest, MI, International 248.514.9500

Theresa Kossack Sales - Midwest, GA, FL 214.226.6468

Bob Baker Sales - New England, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast US, Eastern Canada 732.429.2080

Lou Meszoros Business Development Manager - Grocery Group 203.610.2807


News Events


PROGRESSIVE GROCER TAKES A LOOK BACK AT SOME OF THE DEFINING NE WS STORIES FROM THE PAST 100-PLUS YE ARS AND HOW THE Y SHAPED THE INDUSTRY WE KNOW TODAY. By Jenny McTaggart Sometimes, you recognize big news stories as they happen — and other times, there are more subtle occurrences that don’t stand out so much at the time, but end up changing the course of history in one way or another. While there’s no easy way (or enough space here) to recount every major headline from the past 100 years, Progressive Grocer has compiled a brief timeline of news stories that ended up having a notable impact on the supermarket industry in the years to come. While looking back on news from the past is one way to relive history, perhaps some of the greatest stories are those that didn’t always make headlines — the story of an aspiring merchant who had a dream to operate a first-class store that would serve his neighbors, and who overcame obstacles to do so; the hard work of an otherwise unnoticed warehouse worker

In 1950, George and John Hartford were featured on the cover of Time magazine to tell their story about fighting "trustbusters" that wanted to break up A&P.

who put his children through college; or even a cashier who made a difference in one of her customer’s lives by offering a smile and supportive ear during a difficult time. If you have a “great grocery story” from the past century that you’d like to share, we encourage you to reach out to us on social media to tell us about it.


PIGGLY WIGGLY INTRODUCES SELF-SERVICE GROCERY erica’s Clarence Saunders founded Am Piggly e, stor cery first self-service gro ing pav n., Ten is, mph Wiggly, in Me bely tual even ld wou t wha for the way was e stor come the supermarket. The ortunity for grocery Clarence Saunders saw an opp a dramatic departure from money and time by having save to ilers reta omers rs. stores of the day, in which cust shoppers pick their own orde who k cler a to list r thei give would ers. would then assemble their ord to make decisions e pub- allowed consumers azin mag e In an article in Tim ted to buy — and profes- as to what they wan lished in 2016, John Stanton, a panies to think com Joseph’s over time, it spurred sor of food marketing at Saint branding to and sing erti adv ning of more about University, noted that the ope rs. “the appeal to these shoppe the first Piggly Wiggly marked which Saunders p., Cor gly Wig ly Pigg that the origin of branding.” He said his first store, ned ope he that it established when store was groundbreaking in to hundreds es chis fran e issu went on to their own of grocery retailers to operate

bePiggly Wiggly stores. Saunders also r afte soon k stoc y pan com ing gan issu k stoc the ile the corporation began. Wh New was successfully traded on the time, e som for ge han York Stock Exc early the in es trad of s serie a through trol con lost 1920s, Saunders ultimately iled prof was y stor of Piggly Wiggly. His er und 3 192 in es Tim k in The New Yor rs nde Sau gly Wig gly “Pig line the head Fought to Bitter End.”



On Aug. 4, 1930, M ichael Cullen opened the doors to America’ s first supermarket, King Kullen, in a lar ge vacant garage in Jamaica, in the New York City borough of Queens. The Smith sonian Institute recognizes this store as Am erica’s first supermarket, since it was “the first to fulfill all five criteria that defin e the modern supermarket: separate de partments, self-service, discount pricin g, chain marketing and volume dealing.” Cullen, who had joi ned A&P as a clerk in 1902, spen t years dreaming of his idea for a supe rmarket and tried to persuade grocer y executives of the concept’s potential, but his words ap-

Michael Cullen ca lled his store "th e World's Greatest Price Wr ecker," which ce rtainly resonated with De pression-era shop pers.

parently fell on deaf ears. Once he had the ch ance to make his dream a reality, he pro moted his store with newspaper ads and circulars that billed King Kullen as “the Wo rld’s Greatest Price Wrecker.” According to the company, curious customers drove from 100 miles away to see what the new store was all about and to save money on groceries.

Indeed, the lo w-price propos ition was one of the biggest draw s of Cullen’s store , particularly sin ce it debuted durin g the Depressio n. By 1936, there we re 17 King Kulle n locations in New York City and on Long Island, and they were bringin g in about $6 millio n a year in sales. Unfortunately, Cu llen died at the young age of 52, but his wife and ch ildren carried on the business, wh ich continues today. In fact, just last month , King Kullen appoint ed Michael Cullen’s grandson, James Cu llen Jr., chairman of the company.





News Events

OVEMENT M IN A H C IT N A F O nown as o., better k A&P IS TARGET the acific Tea C 1940s

ough tic & P iler. Even th e great Atlan s largest reta y’ t as envitr By 1930, th p n u ce n co co e ecome th ermarket b p su ce ad e h th P, & ce A bra the self-servi as slow to em up adopting ed d en it company w , ichael Cullen ly. sioned by M e substantial e country’s its store bas lash from th k ew ac b gr ea d e an m ca idea 40s, A&P b great growth the early 19 in th y, tl ro b en Yet with this u s, q onse its owner ovement. C it, in which itn su U w e la th st anti-chain m y u b tr ti e sued iled in an an tford Jr., wer on of came embro George Har d dents, exacti an en ep rd d o tf in ar st H n s, ai n h ag an Jo n ers g allow ce petitio of advertisin r unfair com se u In . ab ed d n fi an e ed States fo , ters d wer by headquar st the case an the allowances e owners lo h T it calling for s. su w ge la ar ch ew n er a th o d g r le amon a majo PR neral fi P conducted . attorney ge .S & U A , e the se th n , o 9 4 sp 19 y. In re featured on the compan s were even er n red u w o ss e re h p breakup of (t e s finally save its imag and its effort ), 0 5 9 campaign to 1 in e magazine . cover of Tim case in 1953 as it failed to t to end the en g the 1950s n m ri rn u d kets ve e go lin e th dec er supermar y began to building larg e ote er m w ro The compan p at th rs ght helped h competito its strong fi dent t en u b ep keep up wit d s, in re d u ns an modern feat oth big chai with more s room for b e’ er th at th e. the principle ng landscap e U.S. retaili grocers in th


SAFEWAY’S N.Y. ES S A H C R U P L A N IO T A FIRST N ION TO DATE IT IS U Q C A T ES G R A L to date, DIVISION IN gle acquisition stry’s largest sin York

y as the indu quired the New Making histor ional Stores ac at N t rs Fi 4 stores. At n ai ch included 16 hi northeastern ch w , c. In es ore chain in feway Stor rgest grocery st -la division of Sa nd co e se e th ay was l to eighth plac the time, Safew d First Nationa lte e pu th ta as ca w al is th de the f course, the nation, so ocery chains. O gr of y. g ur in nt nk ce ra e th in the national to come later in as g acquisitions m “Finast,” w ny ro ac e th first of many bi ed us r d te an la , ch 78 hi l, w hio in 19 First Nationa rmarkets of O pe Su ay -P -N Pick purchased by in 1998. ired by Ahold qu ac r te la as w


HOUSEWIVES BOYCOTT SUPERMARKETS TO PROTEST HIGH PRICES As inflation was driving up costs and ultimately consumer prices in the 18


At 60,000 square feet, Albertsons’ new “super store” of 1951 was the first of a few experimental com bination food-and-drug stores to be built during the decade . This was during a period tha t founder Joe Albertson was beginning to expand op erations beyond the com pany’s home state of Idaho. In 1957, the company pu rchased Sugarhouse Drug, in Sal t Lake City, making a further investment in the idea that food and drugs tog ether offer more convenience for shoppers. By the following decade , more supermarket op erators were catching on to the concept of com bination stores. In 1961, Jewel Tea acquired Osco Dr ug, and in 1962, Giant Food of La ndover, Md., built its firs t combination food store and pharmacy. Later in the 1960s, Acme Markets of Ph iladelphia acquired a 46-store Pennsylvania drug sto re chain, and Albertson s entered into a partnership wit h Skaggs Drug Cente rs Inc. to open more combination food-and-drug stores.


FEDERAL FOOD STAMP ACT IS PASSED On Aug. 31, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Food Stamp Program into law after a twoyear pilot program proved successful (the country’s first Food Stamp program was introduced in 1939, but ended in 1943, when the economy and employment opportunities improved.) It became the most significant food plan in the United States, providing needy individuals with food stamps that could be exchanged like money at authorized stores. Today, the grocery industry continues to play a critical role in providing products for consumers in need, and also serves shoppers through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which became permanent in 1974.

mid-1960s, housewives across the country participated in a boycott of supermarkets. The movement was centered in Denver, where women belonging to “Housewives for Lower Food Prices” pledged to boycott five major supermarket chains: Safeway, Red Owl, Miller’s, Furr’s and Kings. Yet, to grocers’ dismay, the boycott spread across the country to

New York, Florida, Arizona, California and New Mexico. During the annual meeting of the American Bakers Association, Michael J. O’Connor, executive director of the Supermarket Institute, urged the women to “listen to logic,” in the form of the balance sheets of supermarket operators. O’Connor




The supermarket industry entered a new era of efficiencies on June 26, 1974, when the first-ever barcoded item — a pack of Wrigley gum — was scanned at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The store happened to be located near NCR’s scan study and development facility, so Marsh got to work closely with NCR, Hobart Corp. and Spectra Physics to bring the idea to fruition. Barcodes had actually been invented decades earlier, in the 1940s, but there was no technology available to read the codes at that time. In a press release commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first scan, Claude Fenstermaker, who was a co-manager at the Troy store in 1974, recalled: “We had visitors from everywhere around who came to see the technology and learn the steps we took to get the project finished. We also had to deal with customers’ concern that the prices were not visible on the products. We ended up printing labels and adding them to the products to ease their minds.” The new technology significantly improved the customer experience by speeding up checkout time, keeping shelves better stocked and ensuring more competitive pricing, thanks to the efficiencies gained all the way from the warehouse to the store shelf.

noted that the impact of inflation was also being felt by retailers and producers. He also pointed out that wages of food industry workers were increasing at a faster rate than prices, amid a labor shortage, food shortage and money shortage that retailers were having to contend with.


News Events 1977


splash in the ld made a big ho A r ile ta re Dutch -Lo Stores, a n it acquired Bi he w t ke ar m . U.S t. The company in the Southeas regional chain t in subsequent Carlisle, Pa., ow its footprin -store chain in 29 a , es went on to gr or St and Landover, ng Giant Food Shop in 1995; & years by acquiri op ired St d se . It later acqu y, Mass.-ba er, Md. in 1998 in 1981; Quinc ov nd La of 01. nt Food e Peapod in 20 sMd.-based Gia e grocery servic lin 2000, the new on in ed st as Po .-b n to ng hi as ” Skokie, Ill W n. io he ld dominat blished in T ning for “wor In an article pu an pl to as ks w an ld ler, th ed that Aho growing smal paper speculat ld seemed to be asn’t too far or w w n e io th at n rv he se aps this ob At a time w rh pe e, ad clear from tr g al in in glob ake one th an expansion ecutives did m retain its ex ld to d ho A an t Bu gional U.S. br re e off the mark. ch ea d te that idea in th They wan ue to champion in the beginning: ch nt hi co w y e, he iz T ha Del d name. Belgian grocer local flavor an r merging with te af en ev y, . da present ers, in 2016 erous U.S. bann operated num



Panic took over the nation in 1982, when a 12-year-old girl in a suburb of Chicago died from ingestin g an extra-strength Tylenol capsule laced with highly poisonous potassium cyanide. Her death was followed by six others also linked to Tylenol capsules that had been tampered with. After investigators made the discovery, McNeil Consumer Products, the manuf acturer of Tylenol, proactively issued mass warning com munications and immediate ly called for a recall of the more than 31 million bottles in circulation. The case pro mpted the FDA to require tamper-proof packaging for over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements.

EDITOR’S NOTE: See Progress ive Grocer’s May 2022 issue for more of “Grocery’s Greatest Stories.”

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“Everything we do really starts with the customer and our obsession with taking care of the customer. If you look at the way we look at competition, you wouldn’t hear us talk too much about fighting off competition. It would be very focused on what does the customer want, what is the customer wanting that they may not even know they want? And then you test and learn on some of those things. We’re trying to be the best for our associates, we’re trying to be the best for our customers, and we’re trying to be the best for the communities we operate in.” — Rodney McMullen, CEO, Kroger



Retailer Deep Dive

Kroger builds a grocery ecosystem for the future. By Gina Acosta f you ask Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen how inflation is affecting customer traffic at his stores, he just might tell you a story about cheese. “Our value proposition always starts with our people, whether it’s a smiling face or helping somebody prepare a meal. And with inflation being what it is, we’re trying to help people manage their budget, but at the same time not have to give up anything, including good cheese,” McMullen says in an exclusive interview with Progressive Grocer. “What I thought was cheese, growing up, isn’t what I think is cheese today. I didn’t know the difference until the Murray’s Cheese folks started sharing with me some of the amazing cheeses we have, and those are things you can only get at Kroger. My wife and I, we love mac and cheese. And the cheese that we used to use in our mac and cheese isn’t what we use now, thanks to Murray’s. And once you do that, you don’t go back.” The grocery giant’s acquisition of the small artisanal cheese brand back in 2017 now seems like another magical moment of Kroger foreshadowing. Today, more consumers than ever before are cooking at home, often using premium products that are frequently store brands. They’re cooking at home partly because they got used to doing it during the pandemic, and partly because they’re looking to cut costs amid food price inflation. Whatever the reason, Kroger has leveraged these trends — plus investments in technology, innovation, fresh, supply chain and alternative business units — into record-setting traffic and growth. McMullen explains why he’s so excited about the momentum in his business, even amid a rapidly changing operating environment. “We were on a journey before COVID, trying to make sure that a customer could engage with us seamlessly, whether PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022



Retailer Deep Dive

During the fourth quarter, Kroger successfully completed the initial phase of its in-store End-to-End Fresh Initiative, which is designed to deliver fresher food to shoppers and keep perishables on the shelf longer. The program is focused on suppliers, distribution, merchandising, refrigeration and loyalty.

in-store, with pickup or with delivery,” he notes. “COVID significantly accelerated that by three or four years. And that’s pretty much stayed in place; the people that used to shop online or use pickup, more than 90% of them are now shopping instore also. So I find it exciting, because what we want to do is to be able to serve a customer however they want to be served, whether that’s delivery, pickup or in-store. And what we find is, customers are bouncing back and forth among the three.”

Value Creation Flywheel

The inflationary and supply chain crises currently rocking the country are proving to be no match for Kroger. The grocery chain, which saw an earnings boost during the pandemic, isn’t seeing that much of a slowdown as consumers keep cooking at home and loading their pantries to save money as prices rise. “Customers have learned how to cook,” McMullen says. “A lot of customers know how to cook today more than they did before, and they love showing those skills off, and they’re finding their food budget stretches a lot further when they cook at home. Those are things that are helping somebody’s budget go further, but also it helps support the company’s growth.” For the fourth quarter ended Jan. 29, same-store sales increased 4% at The Kroger Co., which today operates more than 2,700 physical grocery stores under various banners. Digital sales grew 105% on a two-year stack. Total company sales were $33 billion for the period, versus $30.7 billion for the same period last year. Total company sales, excluding 24

fuel, increased 3.7% compared with the same period last year. Net income at Kroger totaled $566 million, or 75 cents per share, a 1.7% increase from the prior-year period. For fiscal 2021, revenue at Kroger was $137.9 billion, an increase of 0.2%. Net earnings for fiscal 2021 were $1.6 billion, an increase of 1.2%. Same-store sales excluding fuel increased 14.3% on a two-year stack. Digital sales grew 113% on a two-year stack. Kroger expects same-store sales growth of 2%-3% without fuel, and adjusted earnings per share of $3.75-$3.85 in fiscal 2022. “Kroger’s 2021 results demonstrate the strength of our value creation model, and in 2022 we expect to build on this momentum,” Gary Millerchip, Kroger’s CFO, said in March. “We will continue to be disciplined with capital allocation. In 2022, we are increasing capital investments in strategic pri-

$137.9B For fiscal 2021, revenue at Kroger was $137.9 billion, an increase of 0.2%.




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Retailer Deep Dive orities that will drive sustained future earnings growth. At the same time, we expect to generate strong free cash flow and we will continue to return excess cash to shareholders.” Kroger returned $2.2 billion to shareholders in 2021. The company repurchased $1.6 billion of shares in 2021, under its board authorizations. Kroger also increased the dividend by 17% from 72 cents to 84 cents, marking the 15th consecutive year of dividend increases, which resulted in a payout of $589 million. In a recent business update, the grocery chain outlined four key themes of the company’s post-pandemic business model: Growing the food business through the competitive moats of innovation, technology, partnerships and people Leveraging assets such as data, retail media, retail health, fuel and personal finance, which are margin accretive and have clear paths to additional growth outside of the traditional grocery segment Investing in other assets to drive sales growth, which in turn generates data and traffic that enable fast-growing alternative profit streams Using free cash flow to invest in the business that drives net earnings growth. This flywheel creates value for shareholders, and confidence in growth earnings of 3%5% per year, which enables funding of capital projects to grow the business, increase dividends and enable shareholder return of 8%-11% over time Kroger today serves 60 million households, and 82% of its customers live within 5 miles of a store. McMullen attributes Kroger’s ability to navigate the peaks and valleys of the pandemic to an adherence to the things that really matter. “Our core values have been incredibly helpful throughout the Today, more than 70% of grocery shoppers choose a grocer based on its selection of fresh food, and 92% of Kroger customers buy at least one fresh product per trip. The grocer reported a 15.6% increase in fresh sales growth in 2021.


pandemic,” he asserts. “I always tell people: ‘The company will change, the way we feed people will change over time, but our values will always remain who we are,’ and I don’t see them changing because of COVID.”

Leading With Fresh 2.0

A big part of the Kroger value proposition is Full, Fresh and Friendly: omnichannel stores full of the products that shoppers are looking for, offering fresh food no matter how shoppers shop, and always friendly service. The “fresh” part of Kroger’s value prop propelled the grocer to record performance in 2021, on top of record results in 2020. Today, more than 70% of grocery shoppers choose a grocer based on its selection of fresh food, and 92% of Kroger customers buy at least one fresh product per trip. The grocer reported a 15.6% increase in fresh sales growth in 2021. In fact, Kroger’s fresh departments grew faster than its center store departments in 2021, so leading with fresh is a core competitive priority for the company. During the fourth quarter, Kroger successfully completed the initial phase of its in-store End-toEnd Fresh Initiative, which is designed to deliver fresher food to shoppers and keep perishables on the shelf longer. The initiative has five key components: suppliers (leveraging data and technology to choose the best suppliers when it comes to supply chain and quality); distribution (decreasing the time product spends in transit); merchandising (optimizing assortment/pricing); refrigeration (more mobile refrigeration ensures that product stays fresher when the customer buys it); and loyalty programs. According to McMullen, the company is doing everything it can to keep fresh food affordable for customers amid historic inflation. “We believe all customers deserve to have access to fresh, affordable food, so everything that we do is around helping a customer get affordable, fresh food,” he explains. “So you’re looking at everything you can. In some cases, it might be consolidating from multiple suppliers to one so that they have more efficiencies. In other cases, it’s identifying your total supply chain costs with a CPG partner, and how do you eliminate it? In a lot of places, technology’s an important part of that, and how do you eliminate steps?” Another important differentiator for Kroger in this environment has been private brands. The company’s $28 billion Our Brands division launched 72 new items during the fourth quarter, many in support of providing easy food-at-home meal solutions, including Simple Truth skillet meals for two and Kroger brand multiserve tray meals. “One of the changes we made a few years ago, before COVID, was looking at all the different types

of food that people eat, as opposed to only traditional grocery store food,” McMullen notes. “And what we want to do is to be able to have a meal that’s already made for you, or really easy to make, or the ingredients. So we’re serving all of those buckets. It’s one of the reasons we merged with [meal kit company] Home Chef. And we’re leveraging Home Chef back into the Kroger stores as well. So their business continues to grow incredibly well on a direct-to-customer basis, but we’re also leveraging their recipes and leveraging their talent back into the Kroger stores.” During the March business update, Kroger said that it sees products in the natural/organic, multicultural and health/ cleaning areas, and innovative categories such as plant-based foods and functional beverages, as being double-digit growth drivers for the company in the future. Retail foodservice will also remain a focus. “If you’re eating, we want to serve you when you eat, and we want to serve you if all of a sudden you’ve got three or four people over that you didn’t expect, and you need a delivery or a pickup in a short amount of time,” McMullen says. “If you want amazing cheese or cut fruit or something out of the meat department or deli. We’re really striving for the customer to decide how they want to engage with us, and then use technology to make it really easy for them to engage with us. And [we want to] make sure that we’re personalizing and curating that experience for each person individually.” Another important differentiator for the company, espeThe company’s $28 billion Our Brands division launched 72 new cially now, is fuel. Kroger seems to be benefiting from the items during the fourth quarter, many in support of providing easy surge in fuel prices as shoppers look for discounts on gas. food-at-home meal solutions, including Simple Truth skillet meals for two and Kroger brand multiserve tray meals. CEO Rodney “Customers that redeem fuel points spend, on average, four McMullen says that Kroger aims to curate meal solutions. times more at Kroger and visit four times more frequently,” McMullen says. “Our investment in fuel rewards, which is reflected in our supermarket gross margin, also helps customers we’re getting better. Would I like to say that it was stretch their dollars further and allowed us to achieve gallon completely back and everything was normal? It’s growth of 5% in the fourth quarter, outpacing market growth.” not. And with every supplier, you have a specific Other operational initiatimeline on how you’re working together to get it tives that the company is the way it was before COVID.” “We believe all focused on in 2022 and becustomers deserve to yond include a new enhanced Accelerating Innovation have access to fresh, inventory management In the fourth quarter, Kroger grew new customer affordable food, so system powered by mobile acquisitions through online pickup and delivery by everything that we platforms, which improves 25%. One big reason for this is that the company in-stocks and replenishment is building a competitive advantage that leverages do is around helping systems; a new artificial-intel- a customer get both stores and robotic warehouses, which the groligence (AI) forecasting and cer revealed in 2018 that it would start building. affordable, fresh food.” ordering app for fresh food; “Several years ago, we significantly increased the a new associate scheduling amount of resources, in terms of talent, expense and — Rodney McMullen, CEO, Kroger and training mobile platform; capital, on investing in technology to improve our and the expansion of a smart technology that the customer connects with us on, shopping cart system called KroGo. but also improve the technology our associates use as McMullen admits that although the supply chain has imwell, to try to make their jobs easier to do,” McMulproved, it’s not back to pre-pandemic normal. len explains. “The standard our teams are using is, “If you look at every week, we’re making progress on really, how do you make technology so intuitive and improving in-stocks and supply chain,” he says. “It’s an active so easy to use? And then how do we make sure that conversation that we have with every partner, especially the it’s personalized for that person individually? And CPG partners. And in some cases, we pick product up to be have we arrived? No. But that’s our aspiration and able to get it faster to the warehouse. But it’s an incredibly open desire, and every day our teams are doing AB testing and transparent relationship with suppliers, and every week, to help move us in that direction.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022



Retailer Deep Dive Kroger now has 2,200 locations that offer online grocery pickup, 2,500 locations that offer delivery, and at least 17 warehouses, or customer fulfillment centers (CFCs), that will be open by 2023. Kroger grocery delivery is headed to many more new markets.

Kroger now has 2,200 locations that offer online grocery pickup, 2,500 locations that offer delivery, and at least 17 warehouses, or customer fulfillment centers (CFCs), that it’s planning to open by 2023. The grocer is leveraging these CFCs to enter new geographies without opening physical supermarkets. Just in the past month, Kroger has revealed it will offer grocery delivery in such new markets for the company as Alabama, Texas and California. This expansion represents an extension of a partnership that began in 2018 between Kroger and U.K. online grocer Ocado. The companies teamed up to establish a delivery network that combines artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and automa-


tion. Through a hub-and-spoke delivery network, the organization now serves customers in Florida without brick-and-mortar stores. According to McMullen, the grocer’s delivery service in Florida is earning high customer repeat rates and net promoter scores. As for competing with the proliferating quick-commerce startups of the world, Kroger launched in September Kroger Delivery Now, a new service in partnership with Instacart that offers fresh food, household essentials, meal solutions and snacks from early morning to late at night in 30 minutes or less. According to Kroger, the service was profitable “on day one after the first order.” Last month, Kroger said that it would collaborate with Santa Clara, Calif.-based computing company NVIDIA to open a state-of-the-art artificial-intelligence lab and demonstration center within Kroger’s headquarters in Cincinnati, which will be used to further the grocer’s shipping logistics, freshness initiatives and store experience. “Our collaboration with NVIDIA supports Kroger’s ‘Fresh for Everyone’ commitment,” says Wesley Rhodes, VP of technology transformation and research and development at Kroger. “We look forward to learning more about how AI and data analytics will further our journey to provide our customers with anything, anytime, anywhere.” Kroger is also experimenting with a new loyalty program called Boost, plus drones, Nuro driverless vehicles, ghost kitchens and countless other innovative projects. “When you think about innovation, to me that’s something that’s not been thought of,” McMullen says, “It’s also something that makes the world a better place, and I think all of us strive to be part of a team that makes the world a better place. I always like to say, ‘Respect the past and create the future.’ I’m super proud of what we’ve done, but at the same time, we’ll continue to strive to improve for our customers, our communities and our associates. And when we do that, our shareholders are rewarded as well.”

Through a hub-and-spoke delivery network, Kroger now serves customers in Florida without brick-and-mortar stores. According to CEO Rodney McMullen, the grocer’s delivery service in Florida is earning high customer repeat rates and net promoter scores. Last month, Kroger said that it would collaborate with computing company NVIDIA to open a state-of-the-art artificial-intelligence lab to further the grocer’s tech efforts.

Living its Purpose

Last month, Kroger said it will donate an additional $1.1 million into The Kroger Co. Foundation Racial Equity Fund to catalyze innovative approaches to help create more equitable and inclusive communities. For McMullen, diversity and inclusion are core values that the company must do better on. “When the killing of George Floyd happened, we as a team decided that we were proud of what we had done, but we also agreed as a team that we can do more,” he observes. Kroger has been doing a lot more on the environmental, social and governance (ESG) front, from establishing a Framework For Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan, to spending $4.1 billion to elevate diverse suppliers, to spending gobs of cash on the company’s more than 400,000 associates. In 2021, Kroger invested $450 million to increase wages, bringing its average hourly wage to more than $22 with benefits factored in. Kroger offers its workers low-cost health care, 401(k)s and pensions, which many competitors don’t offer. “One of the things that’s important for us is, I always say, ‘We have to make sure people stay at Kroger long enough to fall in love with us,’” McMullen notes. “Our purpose is to feed the human spirit. It’s so much more than just helping put a meal on somebody’s table. When we originally set our purpose on feeding the human spirit, when we talked to customers, they wanted something more than the food on their shopping list. When we talked to our associates, they wanted to provide something to others more than just their food.” The company is also “living its purpose” through its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste program. In February, Kroger launched an exclusive, first-of-its-kind partnership in the United States with the Loop initiative of Trenton, N.J.-based TerraCycle to introduce a selection of products in reusable packaging rather than in single-use plastic. “With our commitment to Zero Hunger | Zero Waste, last year we were able to provide 499 million meals. You look at over the last four years, north of 2 billion meals. And that’s an example of something that we strive to keep getting better on,” McMullen says. He adds that the company’s ESG efforts, which aim to make Kroger a better place to work and to shop, all tie back to customer obsession. “Everything we do really starts with the customer, and our obsession with taking care of the customer,” McMullen says. “If you look at the way we look at competition, you wouldn’t hear us talk too much about fighting off competition. It would be very focused on what does the customer want, what is the customer wanting that they may not even know they want? And then you test and learn on some of those things. We’re trying to be the best for our associates, we’re trying to be the best for our customers, and we’re trying to be the best for the communities we operate in.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022





est anyone think that charcuterie has reached a pinnacle as a trend, it seems that consumers, retailers and CPGs are just scratching the surface of the serving board. For instance, just a few months ago, Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi revealed that it had assembled a Charcuterie Board of Directors, comprising various food experts. “As the weather warms up, we know people are eager to kick off spring and summer entertaining,” says Kim Brazington, “Cheese Queen” on the board and Aldi’s buying director for cheese. “Charcuterie boards are the perfect way to impress, with delicious and affordable board options that you can customize in a variety of ways.” Food industry expert Sharon Olson, executive director of Chicago-based Culinary Visions, which regularly surveys consumers and opinion leaders on food industry trends, agrees that charcuterie reflects broader ways of eating and entertaining. “These boards have definitely not peaked,” she says. “If anything, they are gaining momentum as shareable gourmet snacking experiences. Shared food experiences feed the need for connection that American consumers crave today.” Because of the inherent variety on a platter or board filled with foodstuffs, charcuterie is a popular dish for entertaining, especially as the spring and summer entertaining season approaches. According to Lauren Edmonson, category manager, perishables, at Dom’s Kitchen & Market, in Chicago, there’s a little something for everyone when it comes to these kinds of arrangements. “Our charcuterie category continues to grow even as people become more health-focused,” notes Edmonson. “Charcuterie is an indulgent treat, great for entertaining, and we’re excited for people to celebrate again.”

out of every meal,” the company’s food experts assert. “As ‘boardies’ start or end their day, breakfast and dessert boards open a world of flavors without the commitment to a single dish.” Aldi’s Charcuterie Board of Directors recently had some fun with this topic, projecting ideas for boards that might catch on with shoppers in 2022. Those concepts include boards made of French fry forms like tots, waffle fries and veggies fries; melted cheese boards consisting of cheese in fondue pots or mini-grilled cheese sandwiches; pickle-focused platters spotlighting pickled vegetables and fruits; and charcuterie for kids, with platters teeming with fruits and vegetables in fun shapes and patterns, among other items. According to Brazington, there’s room for traditional, inventive and seasonal experimentation with board components. “We also expect to see salad boards taken to the next level as the perfect pairing for grilling out,” she predicts. “Think charred lettuce cups surrounded with toppings, including items like our Emporium Selection Honey Goat Cheese log or fresh marinated mozzarella for a DIY chopped salad.” The parallel interest in charcuterie and globally inspired cuisines can also be reflected in ideas for charcuterie. “Although travel is opening up, boards with international flavor themes can offer a world of taste experience at home,” says Olson. Charcuterie boards may be known for different types of rich and indulgent foodstuffs, but there’s a growing number of options for health-minded consumers and those who adhere to plant-based diets. Grocers can suggest focusing on

Putting It All Together

Traditional and technically, charcuterie refers to the art of arranging cured or specialty meat products and serving them on a platter or board. It owes its name to the French culinary style that focuses on preserved meats. At Dom’s, Edmonson says that classic charcuterie components remain popular. “A hallmark of our charcuterie program is our freshly sliced meats,” she adds. “Our signature prosciutto, Levoni’s Prosciutto di Parma DOP 24 Months, is sliced ever so thinly, in-house, by our team on a Berkel Volano Flywheel slicer.” The team also freshly slices charcuterie from Molinari, a famous San Francisco deli. Over the past few years, the notion of charcuterie has broadened from basic meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts and chocolate to include various specialty foods that are skillfully assembled and served. Today’s charcuterie boards are piled with everything from chocolate-covered blueberries to marshmallows to plant-based cheeses. As part of its “2022 Food Trends Report,” The Kroger Co. highlights the ever-evolving possibilities of charcuterie. “Boards have branched out beyond appetizers to offer consumers a variety of small portions to make the most


Key Takeaways Today’s charcuterie boards are piled with everything from chocolate-covered blueberries to marshmallows to plant-based cheeses. Grocers can position themselves as charcuterie resources, both from offering and educational standpoints. Digital platforms can also help shoppers figure out how to build the board they want.

“Shared food experiences feed the need for connection that American consumers crave today.” —Sharon Olson, Culinary Visions

nutrient-packed vegetables, fruits and nuts, and let customers know that they can incorporate plant-based cheeses or meat alternatives like vegan salami. Meanwhile, although many people continue to buy foods for at-home use, not all consumers want to do the heavy lifting. In recent years, convenience-oriented charcuterie products have emerged, such as the fully arranged Charcuterie Tasting Board from the Columbus Craft Meats brand of Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods, and a new line of Enjoy AperiTime trays from Logan Township, N.J.-based Veroni. In late 2021, Hayward, Calif.-based Columbus launched three new collections for the holidays and in February, the brand rolled out a new integrated marketing campaign, Like This, showing consumers how to create boards and bites.

Curating Choices for Shoppers

Even as brands like Columbus and Veroni offer charcuterie-ready products and ingredients, grocers can position themselves as charcuterie resources, both from offering and educational standpoints. Olson offers some suggestions. “Supermarkets can get ideas from creative customers who are posting pictures of their own creations,” she observes. “These ideas can inspire instore merchandising of items that work together and have widespread appeal.” She also emphasizes the important role that in-store culinary staff can play in enticing shoppers to load up on charcuterie goods and have fun arranging them. “Supermarket chefs are a great resource to offer patrons,” she remarks. ”For example, a chef-curated box of ingredients and a video tutorial can inspire sales. Boards are a great subject for no-cook cooking classes for busy food-savvy customers.” Given the variety of today’s charcuterie platters, grocers can promote and merchandise charcuterie across different departments. “It is also an opportunity to think beyond savory components and explore dessert boards with bite-size indulgences from the bakery, and fresh seasonal produce,” Olson points out. Across the grocery landscape, food retailers are positioning themselves as charcuterie pros. For example, as part of its new store slated to open this fall in Oconomowoc Wis., Milwaukee-based Sendik’s Food Markets is bringing in certified cheese professionals to help shoppers create custom charcuterie boards. When The Giant Co. revamped its store in Camp Hill, Pa., a couple of years ago, the Carlisle, Pa.based retailer added a charcuterie station. At Aldi, Brazington says that charcuterie applications are often a two-way street. “As always, we love when our fans share their creations and can’t wait to see what inspiration they provide in our Aldi Insiders Facebook Group,” she notes. Digital platforms can also be designed to help shoppers figure out how to build the board they want. For example, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer brings online shoppers to a page to help them “create a charcuterie for sophisticated snacking.” There, customers can pick from such items as grapes, cheeses, meats, crackers and breads, nuts, produce, and more. PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022



Seasonal Trends

Grilling Season Is Heating Up WITH AMERICANS E XPECTED TO GATHER IN L ARGER GROUPS THIS SUMMER AMID LOWER COVID CONCERNS, RE TAILERS NEED TO UPDATE THEIR FRESH ME AT DEPARTMENTS. By Marian Zboraj ith COVID mask restrictions easing from coast to coast, an increased number of consumers are feeling more comfortable about attending gatherings and celebrations. According to Numerator’s recent Consumer Behavior & Sentiment Survey, COVID-19 concern is falling fast. Thirty-three percent of consumers said in March that they’re highly concerned about COVID-19, compared with 42% in February and 50% in January. This new level of comfort comes at an ideal time for food retailers: summer grilling season. With 74% of Americans describing themselves as meat eaters, according to 2022’s “Power of Meat” report from FMI — The Food Industry Association and The North American Meat Institute, this summer is expected to experience a rise in fresh protein sales as larger numbers of friends and family members get ready for outdoor entertaining around the grill.

Merchandising Arounds Meals

Grilling season this year comes at a time when consumers are watching their wallets amid record high inflation, so they’re eating out and ordering in from foodservice less often, opting instead to recreate restaurant experiences at home. As a result, consumers will be looking for outdoor cooking ideas when they head to the grocery store as warm weather arrives. At the same time, Dana Ehrlich, founder and CEO of Woburn, Mass.-based beef provider Verde Farms, points out that busy shoppers are looking for an easy dinner when they go to the store — not just ingredients. “Retailers who provide value-added items to consumers, like grass-fed pre-made burgers with steakhouse seasoning — or who can merchandise all the components of a great meal together, like protein, fajita veggies and tortillas — can boost consumers’ confidence to create elevated meals at home this grilling season that feel more special,” says Ehrlich. Bread is also a staple for grilled meats, and brioche provider St Pierre Bakery is ready to provide merchandising solutions. “To help retailers maximize grilling season this year, we are launching branded ‘knee-knockers,’” notes David Wagstaff, VP North America at St Pierre Bakery, whose U.S. office is in Cincinnati. “These new display solutions mean that we can take


Key Takeaways This summer is expected to experience a rise in fresh protein sales as larger numbers of friends and family members get ready for outdoor entertaining around the grill. More consumers are shifting to digital sources for recipe inspiration for their proteins. New products will also help attract more consumers to the fresh meat department this summer.

that in-store branded experience to new sectors of the store. It makes perfect sense to place premium buns with premium meats and grilling ranges. Some stores aren’t set up to do this, so we’ve created a solution to help increase basket spend at a key time of year.” Wagstaff explains that if retailers place their premium bread offering next to fridges, not only are they saving the shopper a trip to the bread aisle, but they’re also making


Seasonal Trends To help shoppers kick off summer grilling season, food retailer Aldi will showcase a variety of new food items like seasoned skirt steak — which is ideal for fajitas.

it more likely that shoppers will spend more dollars on these premium offerings rather than on basic buns or hot dog rolls from the commercial bread aisle. St Pierre recently secured new distribution with ShopRite Supermarkets Inc., which operates stores across New York and New Jersey, offering a selection of the bread brand’s grilling range. “Providing recipes and grilling tips alongside merchandise can also be helpful for consumers, offered through a tear pad on the shelf, or a QR code driving to recipes on the brand’s website,” adds Verde Director of Marketing Sarah Crowley. Retailers need to adjust their strategy for merchandising meats to online this grilling season as well. The 2022 “Power of Meat” report found that more meat consumers shop online than ever — 61%, up from just 39% in 2019 — and nearly half of meat shoppers (46%) today shop online regularly. Crowley recommends delivering recipes digitally via retailer reward programs and apps.


Meat Marketing Goes Digital

The annual ”Power of Meat” report proves that more consumers are shifting to digital sources for recipe inspiration for their proteins. More than half of meat shoppers (51%) say that websites, apps and social media are their top resources for meat preparation advice. Of those who search online for meat cooking tips and ideas, 72% use Google or another search engine, and 57% use YouTube. The social media platforms Pinterest, Instagram and TikTok are particularly popular with Generation Z and Millennials — they’re used by around half of shoppers in those demographics for discovering meat preparation inspiration. For example, 53% of Gen Z find meat inspiration on TikTok, compared with just 4% of Boomers. Crowley agrees that social media content, like meat tips, how-tos, and inspirational photos and recipes, definitely influences preference and purchase decisions. “Grilling can

be such a social activity in the way that it brings family and friends outside to share in not only the meal itself together, but the prep and process,” she says. “Pro and weekend barbecuers alike will also be proudly sharing their own grilling pictures via social media, a great opportunity for brands to engage with an enthusiastic community.” Some of the marketing programs that Verde will be developing this grilling season include partnering with foodie and grilling social media influencers to broaden marketing reach with credible and trusted content providers; encouraging followers to post their favorite grilling ideas and recipes; partnering with meat thermometer and other grilling brands to develop Instagram and Facebook giveaway programs; sharing unique grilling ideas, such as kofta or ground beef kabobs, on social media; and providing recipes for the rising number of consumers following a keto, Paleo or Whole30 diet.

Keep It Fresh

New products will also help attract more consumers to the fresh meat department this summer. Food retailers like Aldi are excited to unveil new products to help shoppers kick off the 2022 grilling season. “This year, our customers can get a variety of new items available all summer long, like seasoned skirt steak, which we love for fajitas, and bacon-wrapped pork loin filets,” says Kate Kirkpatrick, director of communications, for Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi US. “We’ll also have all your traditional grilling needs covered, with

Currently available in New York and Los Angeles, Silver Fern Farms' new USDA-approved Net Carbon Zero Angus beef is a step forward in meeting environmental and consumer demand.

favorites such as smoked brats, sausages and hot dogs, delicious baby back pork ribs, and deluxe beef patties. And because no barbecue is complete without sides, we’re bringing fun new flavors like fried pickle ranch or loaded bacon-and-cheddar potato chips, along with essentials like potato and macaroni salads.” Meanwhile, as consumers are more conscious than ever of the environment in which their food is raised, one of the growing areas of interest in the red meat department is sustainable options. In March, New Zealand-based Silver Fern Farms debuted its USDA-approved Net Carbon Zero By Nature




Seasonal Trends beef. According to the red meat producer, which has been supplying the U.S. market with its grass-fed product for four decades, its Net Carbon Zero By Nature product is a further step in its journey to being climate-positive and regenerative by 2030. Silver Fern’s approach uses “insetting,” which means that the carbon credits needed to offset the emissions of the product are found by working with farmers to optimize the role that the farms where the animals are raised can play in acting as carbon sinks, rather than having to rely on purchasing carbon credits from other projects. “We are not outsourcing our emissions; rather, we are recognizing and incentivizing our farmers for their efforts to create farm environments that are better able to capture carbon, increase biodiversity and support nature-positive food production,” notes Silver Fern CEO Simon Limmer. Net Carbon Zero By Nature branded Angus Rib-Eye and New York Strip steaks, ground beef, and other cuts are currently available at supermarkets in New York and Los Angeles. Silver Fern says that these new products will have exactly the same bold, nutrient-dense profile and unmatched texture of its 100% grass-fed suite of meat cuts. “Nothing has changed in terms of our famous 100% grass-fed taste profile,” affirms Limmer. “All of our cattle browse outside in nature all year round on a diverse diet of rich clover and rye grasses,


Verde's new 100% Grass-Fed Beef Burgers tout more hearthealthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidant vitamins than grain-fed beef.

on farms that can increasingly offset the emissions they produce. This is truly beef made better.” New in the grass-fed segment is Verde’s 100% GrassFed Beef Burgers and 100% Grass-Fed Steakhouse Marinated Steak Tips. The beef burgers are ready to grill, as they are conveniently lightly seasoned with steakhouse spice blend. The pre-marinated steak tips — ideal for kabobs — are also ready to cook. Both grass-fed products will arrive at BJ’s Wholesale Clubs in early May, just in time for Memorial Day grilling occasions. Verde’s beef is 100% grass-fed on pasture where cattle roam free 100% of the time, with no feedlots. For health-conscious consumers, the company cites some healthy attributes of grass-fed beef compared with grain-fed beef, including more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, more omega-6 fatty acid (linolenic acid) and more antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E. Plus, Verde touts that its beef doesn’t contain added growth hormones.




By Bridget Goldsch


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SPEAKING WITH... Joe Bouma, Executive VP of Sales, The Jel Sert Company Progressive Grocer: The Jel Sert Company has been a leader in powdered drink mixes, freezer bars, and dessert mixes since the Wegner family founded the company in 1926. Why is the company’s history, and the fact it remains a family-owned enterprise, important to grocery retailers? Joe Bouma: Being in this business as long as we have, The Jel Sert Company has faced tremendous change, especially in the last two years. We have remained steadfast in putting the consumer at the highest level of importance, and never wavered from delivering meaningful innovation with the highest quality ingredients at a tremendous value. I can confidently say we are not slowing down our efforts to innovate and grow incremental category sales in powdered drink mixes, shelf stable freezer bars, and desserts even in these uncertain times. New product launches like Vitafusion hydration drink mix will land right in the sweet spot of current immunity and hydration trends. Our retail partners can count on growing with us as we continue to deliver on consumer needs and demands. PG: What are some trends driving the powdered drink mixes, freezer bar, and dessert mixes categories? JB: We continue to see growth in all our functional products, like All Sport Elite Drink Mixes, Powerade Freezer Bars, and Super C Gelatins. Consumers have never been more focused on health and wellness, and we know this won’t slow down any time soon. We are staying ahead of this curve with innovative products that hit on multiple trends all in one package. And we aren’t losing sight of the fact that taste matters. Some companies have realized that marketing a product that lacks quality and taste is not a sustainable business plan. We continue to grow because consumers know they can rely on us to deliver a high-quality product that tastes great! PG: How is inflation impacting the categories The Jel Sert Company leads in? How are you helping retailers navigate the challenges it brings? JB: Households are and will be under budget pressure, which makes each purchase decision even more important. It’s no secret that shoppers gravitate to the brands they trust during these times. They can’t

afford to take any purchase risk. This is right in our wheelhouse. For almost a century, The Jel Sert Company has focused on delivering high-quality products at a substantial consumer value. Over the last two years, we’ve seen a significant increase in consumers returning to our categories and re-engaging with our brands. Fla-Vor-Ice Freezer Bars are a great example — a trusted brand at pennies per treat. Retailers who rely on our great brands, unwavering focus on consumer value, and almost 100 years of navigating change will continue to win. We’re ready to work hard for our retail partners and loyal consumers. PG: What can grocers expect from The Jel Sert Company moving forward? Why should they partner with you to fill their needs in the powdered drink mixes, freezer bar, and dessert mixes categories? JB: I’m proud of how The Jel Sert Company responded to the significant challenges over the last two years. The Wegner family and our business leaders stepped forward when it would have been easy to step back. While others in our categories are third-party co-packed, our leadership team understood the importance of manufacturing and producing all our products and fully controlling the process, so we’ve doubled down on investments in our production facilities. This has been a competitive advantage and will allow us to continue to service our customers at the highest level. We’ve also accelerated efforts to become a more digitally sales-driven company to ensure our products are available when and where our consumers want to buy them. Finally, The Jel Sert Company is running wide open to deliver game-changing innovation with brands like Vitafusion, Skittles, and Sunkist. At the same time, the team is working to manage and grow our legacy brands like Otter Pops, Royal Dessert Mixes, and Wyler’s Light. We are so pleased with our current and new retail partners, and I know they are as excited as we are about the future growth in our core categories.



Beverages Cultural Connection

Coke’s big move into unique limited-edition beverages reaffirms the idea that such items can play a key role in generating excitement and sales in the category. Fellow soft-drink giant PepsiCo shares a similar point of view. “At Pepsi, we’re constantly looking for new ways to evolve our product portfolio based on consumers’ evolving taste and beverage preferences,” notes Todd Kaplan, chief marketing officer at the Purchase, N.Y.-based company. “We think it’s important to ensure that what we’re investing in and rolling out across retailers speaks to our core consumers and piques the interest of potential new Pepsi customers. Some of our most successful limited-time offerings at retail include Pepsi-Cola Soda Shop in Cream Soda and Black Cherry, Pepsi Lime, Crystal Pepsi, Pepsi Blue, and many more. We know our retail partners value our exciting new offerings as they continue to intrigue and interest shoppers.” He adds that Pepsi will roll out additional limited-edition beverages in the coming months. According to Kaplan, the kind of beverages that work best in this space are “[l]imited-edition flavors that are concepted by focusing on cultural truths. You can have the best-tasting flavor innovation on the market, but if it is not relevant to your target consumers, it won’t matter. That’s why at Pepsi, we approach limited-edition beverages with a smart, nimble, culture-forward attitude that we’ve seen success with time after time.” In terms of marketing and merchandising limited-edition beverages at retail, he stresses that it’s important “to have clear consumer-facing messages that are rooted in culturally relevant moments or trends. Creating a campaign that is inclusive of all digital and physical marketing assets helps to provide a clear story and build consumer excitement.”

Shaking Things Up

Beyond the two biggest soft-drink brands, other beverage manufacturers have eagerly embraced the limited-edition strategy, including Los Angeles-based Koia, which offers creamy plant-based functional protein shakes “Limited-time product releases continue to keep their consumers engaged and enticed by the discovery of new brand partnerships and exciting seasonal offerings,” says Chris Pruneda, Koia’s chief marketing officer. “Consumers make most of their purchase decisions at the point of purchase and have a level of expectation that new and interesting innovation will be a part of their shopping journey. By enticing consumers with limited-edition products, both the retailers and manufacturers can drive incremental sales while also adding value to consumers’ shopping experience.” Pruneda goes on to note that “[t]he most effective limited-edition beverages are either seasonally relevant or come with an added brand enhancement. Koia Protein Pumpkin Spice was an excellent opportunity to appeal to consumers’ fall craving while providing an indulgent twist on our healthy plantbased protein beverage. Another approach that provides fantastic marketing impact is through

Labatt focuses on specific consumer needs to create its seasonal variety packs.


Launched in September 2021, Pepsi-Cola Soda Shop came in Cream Soda and Black Cherry flavors.

promotional partnerships. Koia recently partnered with Thomas DeLauer, a ketogenic health coach with 3 million YouTube followers, [on] a special formula: Koia Keto Raspberry Lava Cake. Koia and DeLauer formulated a new keto formula with a macadamia nut base and pumpkin seed protein to deliver a twist on our current Koia Keto offerings. The flavor was also inspired by DeLauer’s favorite keto-friendly dessert (that his wife created), Raspberry Lava Cake. Koia was able to launch this LTO [limited-time offer] online and share it with DeLauer’s massive following, bringing many of DeLauer’s faithful followers into the Koia brand.” In both cases described above, as Pruneda observes, “one big advantage of these LTOs is that they become a low-risk process for testing new products to carry at retail on a permanent basis.” He further points out that “these offerings have the potential to attract new customers and bring existing customers back more often, driving up sales in the long term.” Regarding future rollouts, Pruneda asserts: “As long as it is delicious, plant-based, low sugar and convenient for the consumer, sky’s the limit from an innovation standpoint. We plan to launch a lot of LTO products as part of our innovation process.”

Tailored Experience

Of course, it’s not just nonalcoholic beverage manufacturers that make extensive use of limited-edition products. “From our standpoint, limited-edition releases allow the manufacturer to bring innovation to the category with unique packaging, styles and flavor profiles,” says Jason Folaron, brand manager at famed beer brand Labatt, whose U.S. headquarters is in Buffalo, N.Y. “This is not only beneficial for the manufacturer, but the retailer as well. It gives the retailer a new and exciting product that can break frame during key periods of the year. It creates excitement and demand for the consumer, benefiting the manufacturer, retailer and, most importantly, the


Beverages consumer all at once.” Adds Folaron: “The limited-edition beverages that work best in the market seem to be beverages that focus on a specific time period, such as the summer and holidays, or specific occasions such as sports. Focusing on the specific consumer allows us to tailor the package, style and flavor profile that is most appealing to them.” The brand’s seasonal products include the Labatt Blue Light Flavors Summer Variety Pack, available for the entirety of the season. “At retail, limited-edition or any kind of new product launch focuses on engaging the shopper and bringing awareness to the brand and product,” he notes. “Some ways to do this are to activate unique display opportunities, consumer experientials and economic incentives.”

Riding the Wave

Retailers can leverage the buzz created by limited-edition beverages. According to Rachel Shemirani, SVP of Poway, Calif.-based Barons Market, which operates nine stores in the San Diego area, “Offering limited-edition beverages creates excitement, especially for longtime customers that love that particular brand. Customers will often come in specifically for that new limited-edition drink after seeing it on social media.” Noting the demand for seasonal limited-edition flavors around the fall and “Limited-edition winter holidays and summer, Shemirani products create a points out big sales at Barons Market of limited-edition beverages “among our sense of urgency kombucha or cold-brew brands such as for the customer. Healthade, Brew Dr., La Colombe and They’ll often Modern Times. Of course, beer and seltpost the product zers are constantly doing limited-edition on their own beverages, which are quite popular.” Instagram pages, The reason that these beverages do so well is “because it’s something new, saying something exciting and sought-after,” she explains. like ‘Look what I “Limited-edition products create a sense of found!’ and tagging urgency for the customer. They’ll often post us as the retailer.” the product on their own Instagram pages, saying something like ‘Look what I found!’ —Rachel Shemirani, and tagging us as the retailer.” Barons Market For its part, Barons Market will “often post the limited-edition flavors on our Instagram page,” notes Shemirani. “In-store, we’ll display them in barrels of ice near the register.”

More to Come

Whatever comes next in limited-edition beverages, Shemirani is certain that there will be a greater number of them. “More and more brands are offering limited edition flavors, and those brands who do offer them are doing it more often,” she observes. “We’re seeing that these brands are also doing more innovative flavors instead of bringing in the same limited-edition flavor year after year. Most brands start out by doing a limited-edition beverage for the holidays and then expand to other times of the year.” PepsiCo’s Kaplan agrees with the idea of novel flavor offerings. “We can expect to see innovations that test the limits of what consumers are used to, particularly in the way these flavors are formulated,” he predicts. Lebatt’s Folaron believes that’s just the tip of the innovation


Drop it Like It’s Hot Some of PepsiCo’s hottest limited-edition products aren’t found in stores. Todd Kaplan, chief marketing officer at the Purchase, N.Y.-based company, notes that it’s “always looking for new ways to tap into pop culture through the development of exclusive product drops and innovations. These products are typically available through a social drop only — not at retail — as they are limited in quantities. We’ve launched a number of drops over the last few years tied to a specific moment in time or culture, including Pepsi x Cracker Jack, in celebration of October baseball; PEPSI x PEEPS, launched at the beginning of spring; Pepsi “Hot Chocolate” Cola, rolled out on National Hot Chocolate Day; Pepsi Apple Pie, inspired by DIY Thanksgiving desserts; and many more that consistently drive high consumer engagement and excitement.” It’s safe to say that consumers can expect more of these exclusive beverages. The latest was Pepsi Maple Syrup Cola, a partnership with IHOP that combined the indulgent flavor profile of maple syrup with the crisp, refreshing caramel notes of a Pepsi. From March 24 through March 29, uniquely designed 12-ounce cans of the beverage were available only through the #ShowUsYourStack program on Instagram and Twitter. Those eager for a taste of the limited-edition offering could post a photo or video of their stack(s) of pancakes on Instagram or Twitter, tagging #ShowUsYourStack, #PepsiSweepstakes and @IHOP to ensure that they were among the 2,000 winners. One consumer even received a custom Pepsi Spout, inspired by the iconic IHOP syrup pitchers, to produce the perfect pour to enjoy the beverage.

iceberg, however. “I think you will continue to see manufacturers push the envelope on limited-edition beverages when it comes to exciting new flavors, formulations and styles; unique packaging, whether it be the actual structure of the can, bottle or secondary packaging, or unique graphics that break frame; or innovating with new beverages,” he says.


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Health & Wellness

The Power of Food PUR AVIDA CEO L AUREN WATKINS IS ON A MISSION TO RE VOLUTIONIZE THE FOOD INDUSTRY. By Gina Acosta he pandemic has caused health-andwellness trends to accelerate across the grocery industry, and consumers are taking a second look at their foods. Specifically, plant-based, organic and holistic foods that heal are red-hot. Shoppers are demanding high-quality ingredients that are ethically sourced and packed with vitamins and nutrients. Food entrepreneur Lauren Watkins explains how her company, Etobicoke, Ontario-based PuraVida Foods, is stepping up to meet the expectations of grocery shoppers looking for nutritionally superior food. Progressive Grocer: Lauren, why did you decide to become a food entrepreneur? Lauren Watkins: Well, my background is actually in psychology, but the job that I ended up getting right out of school was selling food, selling ingredients. And I didn’t necessarily love sales initially, but as the role grew and as I grew, I realized that I was really passionate about selling high-quality ingredients that helped customers build better meals. I grew up in a household of medical professionals. Both of my parents worked at a hospital for sick children in Toronto, and pretty much every night, we would talk about health and the importance of not only eating nutritious food, but also being proactive with healthy choices. So when I started working in the food industry, I really opened my eyes to the quality of ingredients that manufacturers use. PG: You started reading labels more carefully?

“We are promoting a flexitarian diet, and our items are simple and clean enough that they can be used in a variety of different lifestyles.” —Lauren Watkins,

LW: Yes, I started looking at ingredient decks, President, PuraVida Foods nutrition fact panels, and seeing what the food I was eating on a daily basis was made of. And a lot of the things that I thought were healthy were packed full of preservatives and things with really complicated names that I wouldn’t even try to pronounce. These were foods that I thought were healthy that were labeled as being healthy and good for me, but were not. So that is really what sparked the idea of PuraVida. PG: How did you come up with the name “PuraVida”? LW: A lot of work went into designing the brand, and I wanted it to be


something that people really connected with. I am not only passionate about health, but also passionate about our planet and being connected to the whole process. I love being outside, which is kind of where the little leaf on the logo came from. We wanted our logo to speak to what we do and that we’re connected to the ingredients that we source. We’re connected to the vendors that we work with. And a lot goes into our packaging. We look at how we can differentiate ourselves with our formulations. We make many revisions to make sure that sodium levels, carb levels and the ingredients that we use do something good for the body. PG: What would you say is the most challenging part of what you’re doing now? LW: Well, the feedback that we get from our customers has been great. I would say retail’s very different from what I used to do before. I’m very used to someone reaching out to me and saying, “I need 80,000 pounds of black beans tomorrow,” and I would quickly plug it in. But in retail, people plan the freezer case months in advance. There’s a lot that goes into the buyer planning, and obviously, everyone wants to feel connected to what products they put on the shelf. So that’s very different from what I used to do before, because it was very fast-paced. PG: I know that part of your mission is to educate consumers on “the power of food.” What does that statement mean?

LW: Food can send different signals to our bodies, and can tell us to make muscle, and can tell us to feed our brains, and can help us combat and prevent disease. But on the flip side of it, food can also send negative signals to our bodies, and can tell us to not repair or be as efficient with bodily functions [as] we would expect. And so those things can appear in different ways. We can feel sluggish, we can be bloated, we can lack the energy or the enthusiasm that we would normally have. And so it’s about helping people not necessarily drastically change their diets, because that’s not sustainable in the long term, but helping people eat more vegetables or try something new that’s maybe presented in a different way. PG: Do you think that food companies are making enough changes to help people lead healthier lives? LW: I think that food companies need to be more cognizant of the choices that they make. Obviously, there are lots of changes happening. And I think the shift we’re starting to see is toward more simple, clean-label products that really speak to the mindset of people emerging out of the pandemic. People spend a lot more time at home now with their families, with their kids especially, and they really took the time to look at their lifestyle choices, whether that’s food or spending more time together as a family doing things. And I think that food companies need to take that bigger picture into mind, because the little choices we make about using one ingredient over another have a role in that and have a role in the larger picture of the food industry, which feeds into the health system as well. PG: Do you think some of these trends of consumers wanting to eat healthier at home and cooking food at home more, are going to stick? LW: I do, and I firmly believe that the longer people engage in more active lifestyle choices, the more they will realize that when they eat better, their body just feels better. At least for me, when I make better-quality food choices, I feel much, much better. I’m not bloated; I’m not feeling icky. So I think people [will] start to realize, ‘Hey, maybe I’m not going out for a full-blown run or I’m not going to the gym, but I’m eating more fiber and I’m eating more vegetables. I feel really good.” I think that when people start to realize that these little changes they’re making have an effect on them and that they feel great, those will spiral into larger, more profound changes that will also impact their health as a whole. PG: Can you tell me a little bit about what else might be in the pipeline at PuraVida and when it might be available at retail? LW: We are launching something really exciting: our Kids Life program. It’s going to be familiar favorites that kids are excited to eat and that they want to grab off the shelf, but they’re also going to be

PuraVida's line of products aims to help consumers eat healthier foods without making drastic changes to their diets.

things that parents feel good about serving their kids. They’re going to have fortified ingredients. We’re going to make sure that kids are getting the protein, the carbs and the fats they need to have the energy to play on the playground and have the energy to be sustained during classroom sessions. It’s going to be launching just in time for back to school. PG: What are you hearing from retailers about how they’re thinking about their natural/ organic/plant-based assortments? LW: We just got back from Expo West, and the feedback that we got at the booth was very, very positive. People were excited that we weren’t just vegan or keto or vegetarian. We are promoting a flexitarian diet, and our items are simple and clean enough that they can be used in a variety of different lifestyles. PG: What’s your outlook for the industry in five years? Will we all be flexitarians? LW: I think we’re seeing a lot of really innovative plantbased options, but that doesn’t mean that people have to be only plant-based. A lot of the people that stopped by our booth said that they ate a predominantly plantbased [diet], but that they also ate animal proteins, which I think speaks to people really looking at what they’re eating. ... I think that we’re going to continue to see that push towards more healthy, nutritious food on the shelf, and that more brands will become innovative. So I’m really excited for the direction that we’re going in. It means that we’re on the right course. PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022



Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging PG: Are your clients looking for help with e-commerce and digital transformation?

Tactics for Transformation JESSICA WHITE HALL’S SIMPACTFUL HELPS RE TAILERS AND CPGs SOLVE TODAY’S BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN GROCERY. By Gina Acosta ince its founding nearly seven years ago, retail/ consumer goods consulting firm Simpactful has generated strong year-over-year growth, including doubling sales during the pandemic, by leveraging a team made up of the industry’s best and brightest, who have come together after leading, innovating and making big impacts at top companies. As Simpactful has expanded its client base, strong leadership and succession planning have also been the foundation of its success. In November, the Danville, Calif.-based firm made a move designed to drive its next stage of growth: the naming of Jessica White Hall as chairperson. Hall, a Procter & Gamble veteran, has more than 30 years of experience in brand development, markets, consumer insights and analytics. Hall talked to Progressive Grocer about the biggest challenges for retail and CPG companies right now, and how diversity and inclusion are key to solving the labor crisis. PG: Jessica, what are the top challenges that your clients are asking Simpactful to solve? Jessica White Hall: Right now in particular, we get a lot of requests for help in the space of supply chain management and everything that comes with that. Inventory, out-of-stocks, all of that. Pricing is also a hot topic for us right now. The other one that has been hot from the beginning, and has remained hot for us, is moving from direct to consumer to brick and mortar. We have helped and supported a number of brands to make that transition.


JWH: Yes, e-commerce and omnichannel work is certainly another problem we are helping them solve. I mean, a number of the requests are really trying to help folks either profit up, shift in a huge way or start in some ways. One of the things that differentiates us is that we’re practitioners. And so whenever we’re asked to do the work, it’s because we’ve done it. This is not theory or what we learned in schools. This is because we’ve done the work and we’ve led the organizations in those ways. The other thing is that we bring both sides to the table. So that’s why we get pulled into a lot of this kind of work, in e-commerce in particular, because we’ve got folks who come from both retail and CPG. PG: Are these clients farther along with digital than you thought they should be at this time? Or are they still sort of lagging? JWH: They are farther along as a result of the pandemic. Some of them have been able to make the leap a little bit easier, and others are struggling. And I would say there’s probably a third bucket: Others made the leap, but they’re not quite sure how to sustain it. For those who were a bit more out in front and a little bit ahead in their thinking, they’re excited, right? They’re like, “Wow. We put some thought into it, and here we are.” And it’s still challenging. But for some of the folks, it was a little bit of a whack-amole kind of thing to make the shift. And again, without some of those foundational elements in place, that’s why that question of sustainability is in play. And so they’re trying to hurry and catch up, and we’ve gotten requests for help in every one of those particular areas. PG: How is Simpactful helping companies with diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) efforts? JWH: The events of 2020 really put DEIB at the forefront; meaning, the issue really reached and resonated in the C-suites and in the boardrooms. So where are we

today? I would say while we’re paying attention more than we used to, the scale of what we’re doing, the solutions that are being brought forward, broadly speaking, don’t yet match with the size of the problem or the scale of the problem. There’s still very much a gap there, No. 1. No. 2, even though the donations are continuing and we are paying more attention, there’s a little bit of trailing off as well with some of the companies. People will put their resources against it very often, and most often with good intentions. But it does tend to be one of those areas that, when cuts have to be made or resources have to be redeployed or whatever, it often comes from that space. PG: How should retail and CPG companies be thinking about DEIB when it comes to hiring and retention in 2022, especially considering the current labor crisis? JWH: It absolutely has to be a part of it, and in some ways, it’s been a part, but there has to be more focus. As I think about a couple of the companies I’m working with, that is one of the key areas that we’re starting with. We’re looking at the entire talent cycle, because it’s one thing to be invited to the party, but it’s a whole other thing to be asked to dance. The risk is even higher now, because of the whole Great Resignation, or great re-evaluation of life. You’ve got to pay more attention to the individual and speak to the individual. So when you’re talking about hiring, first thing is, let’s kind of “un-bias” — or “de-bias,” I guess, is a better word — the job description that

you put out there. And not only does it speak to the diversity and the need to bring in diversity across the board, but it also starts to have companies think about what the individual needs. PG: What are those “needs”? JWH: How do we make people feel a sense of belonging? How do we make people feel safe when they’re at work? Because that will speak to this whole re-evaluation of life that’s happening as people are resigning and walking away. This is the time to really create a shift in how we hire and develop and provide a sense of belonging with authenticity. Because that’s the other thing I would say from 2020 to where we are now: For those folks who have become a bit more lukewarm in this space, it questions their authenticity. And we know that with this whole Great Resignation, and as we start to think about Gen Z and so forth, they’re looking for the authenticity piece of it, and they’re willing to walk away from companies that don’t demonstrate the investment in DEIB, who don’t demonstrate the investment, clear demonstration, measurement kind of demonstration, in social causes. We know that they will walk away from that. And so it’s always been important, but it’s so important with the environment that we’re in — even more so, I think.

“Companies are in a place now where not only is transparency critical, but they’re being evaluated more so by both the consumers that they serve as well as the employees that they’re hiring. So they’re a bit more under the microscope, and so the tables are shifting a little bit. And when I think about that from a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging standpoint, you have got to figure that out. We have got to figure out what is the working environment that creates a sense of belonging.”

PG: So you think this is a fundamental realignment in how people define work? JWH: Yeah, I don’t think this is temporary. Like anything, there are pendulum swings, but I don’t believe it’s going to go back to the way it was. When we start to think about how we think and what causes human behavioral changes, this is one of those things that is that type of change that is long term. There has been a mind shift of re-evaluating what’s important, work/life balance and what are companies offering, and do their actions match their words? PG: And this all goes back to environmental, social and governance goals, and companies staying accountable.

JWH: Companies are in a place now where not only is transparency critical, but they’re being evaluated more so —Jessica White Hall, by both the consumers that they serve Chairperson, Simpactful as well as the employees that they’re hiring. So they’re a bit more under the microscope, and so the tables are shifting a little bit. And when I think about that from a diversity equity, inclusion and belonging standpoint, you have got to figure that out. We have got to figure out what is the working environment that, again, creates a sense of belonging. PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022


best sustainable fishery Alaska Alaska Seafood Alaska Fisheries


RFM Certification Drives Purchase of Wild-Caught Alaska Seafood

Sustainability means more than protecting the environment

Certification Wields Basket-building Power

When it comes to seafood, it also means protecting the fish and the communities responsible for the catch — all things that are important to today’s increasingly health- and environmentally conscious consumers. Carrying and promoting sustainable, wild-caught Alaska Seafood offers a high level of assurance that seafood-loving customers who shop your store will find products that meet those pillars of sustainability. And as data shows, it will help build baskets, too. Why should you, as a grocery retailer, care about sustainable, wildcaught seafood?

While sustainability claims can attract customers, many products that shout “sustainable” and “wildcaught” often don’t have anything to back up those labels. Alaska Seafood does. Not only is Alaska the only state with sustainable fishing written directly into the state constitution; seafood from Alaska also is certified by the Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification program, one of the most trusted certification programs in the industry. RFM has a Chain of Custody program (that doesn’t charge any logo fees), which assures buyers that certified fish can be traced through the supply chain back to its origin. Alaska’s fisheries are also certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Certification is a key component of Alaska Seafood’s sustainability story, and can be for grocery retailers, too. Why? Forty-six percent of consumers overall, and 55 percent of Millennials believe seafood certification is very/extremely important when making purchasing decisions — which means proving you source from certified sustainable


of consumers say the RFM eco-label drives purchase


are willing to pay more for it Because your customers do! Sixty-five percent of consumers say it is important that the fish and seafood they buy is sustainable and 5:1, they prefer wild vs farmed product.1

fisheries is more important than ever in capturing seafood customers. Displaying seafood that carries the RFM certification eco-label is one simple way to do just that. “RFM certification is one of the most credible and robust wild-capture sustainable seafood certification programs in the marketplace, and it is one of the few certification programs that features origin on its eco-label,” explains Megan Rider, domestic program director for ASMI. “And unlike some other programs, there are no fees to pay to use the Alaska RFM certification eco-label.” Recent data shows that the RFM logo holds sway with seafood shoppers. “Using the RFM logo demonstrates to your customers that you are responsibly sourcing seafood,” Rider adds. “And based on this recent data, it shows it can add a significant amount to your bottom line, too.” 1 2

Datassential 2021

Datassential RFM Certification Study 2022

For more information about how Alaska Seafood can help your store write its own sustainability story, visit or


Profiles in Sustainability

Retailers and manufacturers ramp up their efforts in this increasingly important area. By Barbara Sax orward-thinking sustainability initiatives are no longer a nice-to-have for retailers. Having a position on sustainability and following through on those commitments have become table stakes for any company in the current retail environment. “Consumers are continuing to place an emphasis on sustainability when making purchasing decisions, indicating that eco-friendly lifestyles are here to stay,” says Colin Stewart, EVP, business intelligence at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta. “Retailers have an opportunity and responsibility to think through their environmental footprint and deliver value in ways that matter increasingly more to their customers.” According to Stewart, 69% of consumers surveyed by Acosta in 2021 agreed that sustainability was a somewhat/very important


consideration when purchasing consumer packaged goods. “Since concern for the environment is clearly impacting shopping habits, retailers must take demand into account when looking at product assortments and larger business strategies,” he says. “Investing in green products is increasingly critical for retailers, as purchases within this category are on the rise,” continues Stewart. “Consumers are particularly interested in fresh produce and green cleaning products. Eighty-five percent of consumers who buy green products say they will always or most likely buy them in the future.” Food waste is another increasing concern for consumers. Seventy-five percent of those surveyed by Acosta said that minimizing food waste was their most important consideration when deciding on a retailer, and nearly every shopper surveyed agreed that food waste is a problem within the United States. Additionally, 64% of shoppers said that they’d made a conscious effort to decrease food waste over the past year. “Given consumers’ concern over food waste and their increasing awareness of its environmental impact, retailers would be extremely wise to make food waste reduction a top priority,” advises Stewart. As most shoppers make more of an effort to live eco-friendlier lifestyles, recycling has come into sharper focus. “Our research found that 80% of shoppers have made it a priority to reduce, reuse and recycle products and packaging,” notes Stewart. “Older shoppers (Boomers+) are more likely to recycle, while younger shoppers (Gen Z and Millennials) are more inclined to modify their buying habits. Importantly, 60% of all shoppers surveyed say they are paying more attention to product packaging and its impact on the environment.” Data from the Murphy Research and the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) indicates that 80% of shoppers think food retailers should expand their focus beyond sales by implementing initiatives to help employees and communities. “Retailers who make it clear that their larger purpose extends towards making the world a better place will likely be viewed more favorably by consumers than retailers who appear to be solely focused on earnings,” says Stewart. The following pages reveal what some retailers and CPG companies are doing to make their operations more sustainable in terms of sourcing, food waste, energy use and packaging.

Since The Giant Co. rebranded in 2020, sustainability initiatives have become even more important to the Ahold Delhaize USA company’s core. “Doing the right thing for our planet is a huge responsibility, and also a huge opportunity,” says Nicholas Bertram, president of The Giant Co. “A more sustainable shopping basket helps reduce carbon emission, improve soil health, mitigate deforestation and increase biodiversity, which in turn will heal our planet.” To that end, the company recently donated $1 million to Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in support of the school’s new Center for Advanced Agriculture and Sustainability, which will be focused on sustainability and localized sourcing through high-tech food and agriculture.

Supplier Sustainability

The Giant Co. continuously boosts its selection of responsibly sourced products. In the fish department, 100% of the chain’s own-brand seafood items are sustainably sourced, including frozen shrimp and canned tuna, and the meat department continues to expand its plant-based meat alternatives. In addition to working with Rodale Institute to promote regenerative organic farming practices, the company built a 7-acre pollinator-friendly solar field at its corporate headquarters in Carlisle, Pa., in 2020. The solar field is designed to create a synergistic environment that contributes to clean energy and supports bee and pollinator populations.

The Giant Co. designates special sections for plant-based foods in its stores. The grocer continues to expand the space that it devotes to these products.

Reduced Packaging

Reducing packaging is also a focus for the chain. In 2018, Ahold Delhaize USA’s Retail Business Services arm unveiled a company-wide commitment to increase sustainable chemistry practices used in products and packaging, as well as to dramatically reduce plastic and packaging waste for its private-brand products. The Giant Co. plans for all plastic in its own-brand packaging to be 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. “The pandemic certainly drove a huge demand for bag versus bulk produce, and we see no sign of that slowing down,” says Ashley Flower, a spokeswoman for the company. “We’ve piloted options for more sustainable packaging, with SKUs such as

The Giant Co. has moved away from Styrofoam trays to recyclable PET trays for packaging for chicken and sausage products, and is looking to expand recyclable packaging options.

store-packaged corn now in a recyclable tray, versus the Styrofoam we used previously.” The chain partnered with one of its seafood department suppliers to test and transition two major seafood items away from Styrofoam to reusable plastic crates. “Product ships in the crates, which our stores return to the vendor to be reused,” explains Flower. “The program will be expanding to several more items in the future.” In the meat department, chicken and sausage product lines have been moved from Styrofoam trays to recyclable PET trays, and the team continues to work with supplier partners to review packaging and move toward sustainable options.

Greener Operations

The Giant Co.’s stores and warehouses follow a rigorous program toward achieving both zero waste and reducing food waste, and 80 have reached zero-waste status, meaning that at least 90% of their total waste is being diverted from landfills or incineration. “All facilities have recycling and donation programs in place to make sure we’re diverting as much material from landfill as possible,” says Flower. Last year, all stores rolled out the Flashfood program to help reduce food waste. Stores and warehouses are maximizing energy efficiency with LED light conversions, medium-temp doors on cases, and refrigerant conversions to use more ozone-friendly refrigerants with a lower global-warming potential. “Environmentally friendly, ozone-friendly refrigerants and the most efficient refrigeration machinery have helped to reduce electrical usage,” notes Flower. “Enclosing refrigerated cases with glass doors helps hold in cold air while giving customers full view of the products offered.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022


Stop eating the costs of food waste. Sustainability isn’t an option anymore–it’s a must. And with 70% of retail food waste coming from perishables, it’s time for stores to focus on fresh.

Grocery stores use AI-driven ordering from Afresh to: Prevent shrink and food waste Reduce overstock in perishables Eliminate scan outs and weigh outs Build customer confidence and loyalty


Technology Delivers Sustainable Solutions that Transform Fresh Speaking with... Matt Schwartz, CEO and co-founder, Afresh

Sustainability is a topic grocery retailers know they must address. That is especially important in their fresh departments, where food waste has become a key supply chain challenge. Here, Matt Schwartz, CEO and co-founder of Afresh, explains how the Afresh Fresh Operating System enables fresh teams to champion sustainability, prevent waste, and keep shelves full and fresh, too. Progressive Grocer: How would you describe the Afresh Fresh Operating System for retailers who want to transform their fresh departments? Matt Schwartz: Our Fresh Operating System is an AI-powered solution that optimizes fresh inventory, forecasting, merchandising, ordering, and store operations. It combines artificial intelligence, real-time store insights, and store-level expertise to reduce shrink, increase sales, empower store teams, and provide fresher food for customers. Unlike existing supply chain solutions, we’re built specifically to handle the challenges unique to fresh food, and do it in a way that’s easy to understand. Our app has a familiar workflow and intuitive design, and our AI makes reliable recommendations that help employees create perfect orders, which minimizes stockouts and shrink. Employees who use Afresh tell us they love writing orders — and they report higher job satisfaction and more time for customer interactions, too. PG: How does the system help grocery retailers become more sustainable businesses? MS: Food waste is a global problem that impacts the environment, climate change, and access to food. Retail businesses,

including grocery stores, account for 28 percent of food waste within the supply chain, with the highest occurrence in fresh food. Grocers have been starved of technology and left to rely on pen, paper, and intuition to make decisions leading to massive inefficiencies, excess waste, and lost profit. Afresh changes that! It gives retailers and fresh department employees the tools they need to curb climate change by reducing waste in stores. PG: With everything on grocers’ plates, why should they take time to implement a new system? Why is the Afresh Fresh Operating System what every grocer needs to succeed in fresh? MS: Adopting Afresh has a triple bottom line impact: we improve profitability, reduce waste, and also help get fresher food on shelves to customers. And the results speak for themselves! Retailers who have partnered with Afresh have ordered a combined 6.7 billion pounds of food and $1.6 billion of food with Afresh. The progress they’ve made is significant:1

Afresh’s Impact to Date: 6.9 million pounds of food waste prevented 140 million gallons of water saved 3,818 metric tons of GHG emissions prevented And on average, retailers who use our system have seen: 25%+ reduction in shrink 3% increase in sales 80% reduction in stockouts 2+ days increased post-sale shelf life

By partnering with “ Afresh, we are now able to improve our processes to better manage our fresh product supply and provide our store teams with a tool to better predict demand and monitor inventory.

– SUSAN MORRIS, EVP and Chief Operating Officer, Albertsons Companies

PG: Does it have benefits from a customer perspective, too? MS: Absolutely! Retailers who use our Fresh Operating System are taking steps to become a more sustainable business, offer the freshest produce, and reduce waste, too. Those are things consumers want, and they can positively impact the bottom line, too. For example, 74% of consumers say fresh, delicious-looking produce is a top priority when shopping; 65% say fresh produce drives them to shop a store again; 56% say it makes them spend more time shopping the fresh section; and 51% say they’re willing to spend more money on fresh produce.2 They’re also concerned about food waste: 63% of shoppers who know a store is taking steps to reduce food waste feel more compelled to shop there; 52% will shop there more frequently; and 52% will recommend the store to others.2 PG: Do you have an example of a retailer who has implemented the system? MS: We are live with a number of regional and national retailers including Winco, Heinen’s, and Albertsons across the US, and by the end of the year 10% of produce ordered in the US will be ordered with Afresh! We have more partners we can’t quite announce yet, and are very excited to increase the impact of our system by scaling to even more partners.

97% user adherence 20% labor efficiency gains


1 Afresh 2021 Impact Report Fresh Success: Keys to Customer Retention



Profiles in Sustainability Hy-Vee's Homegrown produce program sources from growers within 200 miles of a store.

Promoting Reusable Bags

Hy-Vee Inc. is uniquely positioned to lead the way in sustainability. Last year, the company’s food waste diversion and recycling efforts received the Iowa Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award in Waste Management. In 2022, the company is building on those successes and continuing its proactive approach to preserving the environment. Through efficiency measures like solar panels and daytime lighting controls, plus the addition of more electrical-vehicle-charging stations at all of its grocery store fueling stations, West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee is working to reduce its footprint. “We are always pursuing new design features to make our facilities more energy efficient,” affirms Tina Potthoff, SVP, communications. “All of Hy-Vee’s distribution centers are TRUE Zero certified, meaning that 98% of their waste is diverted from landfills through recycling and reuse of materials.” In past 15 years, Hy-Vee has lowered the amount of electricity used in each store by 36% through increased energy efficiency measures and has exceeded its goals for managing refrigerant emissions.

Built for Sustainability

Hy-Vee’s new Grimes, Iowa, store was built with sustainability in mind. “We’ve gone above and beyond building codes to improve insulation, glazing and roofing, all of which will help reduce energy consumption,” says Potthoff. The Grimes location will also harness the power of the sun through solar panels. The main store features skylights that allow natural light to illuminate the aisles, and daylight-sensing dimmers to reduce energy consumption from LED light fixtures. The new store also includes several electric-vehicle-charging stations. Committed to reducing the number of single-use plastics in its stores, the company has replaced its nonrecyclable to-go containers with containers that customers can recycle in its foodservice sections. “We continue to look for new products and ideas that can help reduce our plastic footprint, like our Smart Stock cutlery dispensers,” notes Potthoff. “These dispensers have reduced the amount of plastic cutlery we hand out by 65%.”


Hy-Vee refreshed its flexible-plastic-recycling program and launched the Bags4MyCause initiative to increase the use of reusable bags. The initiative allocates a portion of the purchase price of each reusable bag to a nonprofit organization chosen by each local store. “We’ve already sold more than 90,000 reusable bags through the program,” says Potthoff. The chain was the first Midwestern retailer to offer 100% responsibly sourced fresh and frozen seafood at all of its stores. Seafood products bearing the Responsible Choice symbol meet Hy-Vee’s Seafood Procurement Policy and are caught or farmed in a responsible manner. Currently, all of the company’s sushi and private-brand shelf-stable tuna products come from responsible sources. “We’ve continued our commitment to sustainable seafood sourcing, most recently joining more than 200 other retailers in an open letter to support permanent protections for the fishing industry in Bristol Bay, Alaska,” observes Potthoff. Additionally, Hy-Vee’s Homegrown produce program, part of each new Hy-Vee location, seeks to support local growers and minimize the environmental impact of fresh produce offerings by sourcing from growers located within 200 miles of a store location. The Homegrown program promotes and supports local growers and helps Hy-Vee reduce its environmental impact.



White Paper


Grab-and-Go, Single-Serve







Beverage Merchandising

Designing, Building, and Executing for Maximum Effectiveness in Retail and Beyond

S p o n s o r e d By

Source: Trion

Introduction Psychology tells us temporary goals can be triggered by the environment (e.g., the smell of freshly baked bread activates the goal to eat) or by a deficiency (e.g., dehydration triggers the goal to drink). There are numerous situations that can trigger a temporary goal; sometimes marketers can activate them, while at other times they can present their brand and product as the best way to address them. And what better way to satisfy the goal of thirst than to have a grab-and-go beverage when shoppers need it and where they least expect it. Once located primarily in the checkout area, single-serve beverages are now enjoyed throughout the entire retail establishment. Driving Impulse Purchases A recent Global Packaging market research study from The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, found that customers tend to pick up grab-and-go foods for purchase as an impulse. Retailers and brands can capitalize on this impulse spending while finding ways to implement environmentally friendly messages and customizable elements into foodservice packaging. Grab-and go programs for product in a growing category is one way to increase incremental sales for both brands and retailers. CARBONATED BEVERAGE IMPULSE PURCHASES

68% 68%

56% 56%




IMPUSLE CB Shopper PURCHASE MORE Source: 2014 POPAI Engagement Study LIKELY FROM ENDCAP AND FLOORSTAND DISPLAYS Source: 2014 POPAI Shopper Engagement Study

Beverage Industry Outlook Overall, the beverage industry is positioned to remain strong throughout the coming years with bottled water outperforming carbonated beverages. (See chart below.) According to the U.S. Beverage Market Outlook 2019 report, convenience is a key driver of segment growth. Single-serve RTD (ready-to-drink) beverages appeal to the growing number of consumers who drink, and snack on-the-go throughout the day. Potential Threat to the Single-Serve Market But, there is an ever-growing threat to the single-serve beverage market. Mintel’s 2030 Global Food and Drink Trends report identified conscientious consumerism (which also has been identified as one of the Shop! Future of Retail Trends) as driving consumers to be more mindful about their behaviors and purchases. Consumers





20% + 50%






want companies to be more thoughtful about their packaging and resources. In the report, according to Jenny Zegler, Associate Director of Mintel Food & Drink “tomorrow’s conscious consumers will be looking for eco-friendly packaging and products while also seeking guidance on how to make their diets more sustainable.” In his article, 7 Important Factors that will Shape the Future of the Convenience Retail, Jeff Williams, SVP of Retail and U.S. Industry Relations for Nielsen, lists seven factors that will shape the future of convenience shopping. Prediction 7: Convenience Players Will Re-imagine Grab-and-Go Packaging to Be More Sustainable addresses this threat of consciousness consumerism. “Today’s convenience culture feeds into an on-the-go lifestyle, servicing consumers with neatly packaged offerings to literally grab-and-go. However, U.S. consumers are beginning to adopt a zero-waste mindset. In the coming year(s), C-stores will need to address issues linked to waste management, the antiplastic movement and the rising consumer backlash toward single-use packaging. Retailers that are ahead of the game will be looking to show consumers that they are doing their part to close the sustainability loop and not contributing to the growing packaging problem.” Companies working in the single-serve beverage arena will need to continually monitor the sustainability movement and work together to combat negative perceptions around the excessive waste produced by single-serve product packaging. This white paper will look at how brands and retailers can increase impulse purchases of single-serve beverages by offering opportunities for purchase in various locations throughout the store with a targeted grab-and-go campaign. You will see the key steps your company can take to implement a program, the benefits of a compliantly executed program, the key fixtures, displays, and locations used for beverage grab-and-go programs, along with ideas for creating “rest stop” locations within a “non-food” store.












(CAGR 2020-2023)






(CAGR 2020-2023)


Source: Statista

Source: Statista

(CAGR 2020-2023)


Grab-and-Go, Single-Serve Beverage Merchandising in Retail and Beyond

Creating a Successful Grab & Go Program

Grab & Go Strategies A recent FMI Technomic study shares some key strategies to help implement eye-catching, energy-efficient refrigerated equipment:

Source: Trion

• Make decisions based on the unit’s overall life cost. Look beyond an equipment’s initial purchase price to consider the long-term returns an energy-efficient unit would mean for your bottom line in terms of energy saved in annual operating costs.

A successful program begins with solid promotional planning. This is the key activity for any retailer or brand to create exposure for a new product, drive trial of an item, and, most critically, drive sales. The marketing strategy is one of the key elements for establishing a solid foundation for a promotional plan. A successful strategy starts with informed customer insights that can be deployed into the promotional plan. To enable efficient promotional plan execution, many details should be considered during the planning stage. Once a compelling offer has been selected, the next step is to determine the mechanism to engage the customer. Developing effective in-store marketing campaigns requires research, resources, and reliable teams. With great design, a clear understanding of display economics, and exceptional execution of all aspects of the display program, retailers and brands can maximize program results.

• Keep it clean. Grab-and-go display models are the most energy efficient when operators execute proper clearance around the unit; that means allowing for breathing room to prevent the condenser from overworking itself in tight spaces. • Size matters. Grab-and-go display units maintain higher levels of energy efficiency when the model has the proper ventilation space, including being surrounded by cool air. • Invest in a night cover. Keep cold air inside and reduce overall energy loss by covering the grab-and-go unit with a night cover. For more information on types of grab-and-go fixtures and displays, see the section, Grab-and-Go Displays on page 4.

Benefits of a Grab & Go Program Customers today expect to find grab-and-go, single-serve beverage stations around the store in Grocery, Mass Merchants, Drug/Pharmacies, and even Dollar Stores. In this day of instant gratification and on-demand consumptions, you also find grab-and-go at Gym/Health Clubs, Car Dealers/Service Centers and

Auto Part stores. And, you will also find them in the DIY/Hardware Stores, Arts & Crafts Stores, and your local Garden Center. Grab-and-go programs make for a quick, convenient shopping experience to allow consumers to easily find the beverage items needed to complete their visit.

How brands and retailers use Grab & Go Programs: Attract Shoppers to a product

Introduce new products

Increase product sales

Increase Category Sales

Attract shoppers by creating stopping power and standing out at the shelf. These include color, shape, messaging hierarchy, imagery, and shoppability.

Displays are typically designed to inform shoppers about the new product and provide an experience that shows how it could benefit them.

Displays that persuade shoppers to buy the product now and close the deal.

Displays are designed to persuade shoppers to shop the category and increase overall category sales.

Create impulse purchase opportunities

Create cross-Sell opportunities

Enhance co-branding

Create Brand Experience & Awareness

Displays are designed to persuade shoppers to buy something typically not on their list already. Placement within the store may come into play more than design considerations.

Cross-selling displays create a convenient shopping experience that typically connects the center aisle with the perimeter making it easy to pick up items that go together, similar to online shopping recommendations.

The use of fixtures and displays to cross sell products and preview what shoppers will find down the aisle. This type of co-branded display creates a win-win for the products to co-exist.

Displays designed to inform shoppers by communicating the brand story. They create drama and emotion and provide a glimpse of how the brand is the hero.

Grab-and-Go, Single-Serve Beverage Merchandising in Retail and Beyond


Grab-and-Go Displays T h e r e i s a n u n l imi t e d s u pp l y of options and configurations

Source: Bai WaTer/Keurig Dr. PePPer: raPiD DiSPlayS

Each option can be customized to the specific product, promotional campaign, shopper, and retail location. Many brands and retailers use temporary POP Displays to create beverage impulse purchases around the store. Retailers also use a more permanent fixture in other key areas. Floorstands A two, three, or four-sided display often designed with flexibility to support different types and different combinations of hardware, accessories, or merchandising components. These displays can be constructed of a wide range of materials.


Gravity Feed Beverage Rack Gravity feed displays are a great way to surprise and delight the wandering shopper. These displays are often compact and costeffective, designed to maximize branding in the crowded retail environment. They create impulse opportunities and come in all sizes to perfectly dispense individually wrapped items such as beverages, candy, vitamins, and more. Typically, a clean-cut fold-out opening allows retailers to simply load the products and let gravity do the work.


Merchandising Reach-In Refrigerators For a more permanent program, no matter the retailer, bank, or service center, a carefully crafted and strategically place fixture can make your customers happy. Display drinks in merchandising reach-in refrigerators, so customers can easily see what you have to offer. Fixed-width trays that are gravity fed or spring fed are common with adjustable-width spring feeds also being used.


Air Curtain Merchandisers These permanent heavy-duty merchandisers keep foods cold without a door, making it easy for customers to pick up items to purchase. LED interior lighting can be added to showcase on-the-go products. Fixed width trays that are gravity fed or spring fed are common with adjustable-width spring feeds also being used. 4

ths Dep helf All S

when it comes to fixtures and displays for creating a grab-and-go, single-serve beverage program.



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Product Spotlight


Trion ZIP Track® Keeping products organized on a shelf, or within a refrigerator or merchandiser, is a key component of a successful merchandising program. The Trion Zip Track ® beverage system does just this and allows retailers to accommodate virtually any single-serve beverage size in endless shelf runs. Each Zip Track® lane quickly adjusts to fit everything from skinny Red Bulls to oversized Gatorades, while consistently keeping each drink pushed to the shelf front for easy customer choice. This durable American-made system exploits your full shelf depth and eliminates space-wasting gravity feed shelves. ZIP Track® is a cost-effective merchandising system that maintains and forward faces its product offerings in dedicated lanes at all times. This allows for reduced number of contacts for each can or bottle as customers can clearly see product for sale and easily grab it from the front of a cooler/ shelf instead of reaching to the back if a spring fed unit was not in use. Easily add facings with this simple to install and adjust system. Custom spring tensions and lane depths are available to fit any and all shelf and product needs. ZIP Track® is manufactured from sturdy material for durability and long lasting merchandising life. This system offers a wide range of adjustability for the ever-evolving beverage category and package designs. It’s not just for coolers or beverages. Use ZIP Track® in multiple categories to showcase many different types of product. Here are some items to look for in a shelf organization solution: • Adjustable widths to accommodate the widest array of beverage containers. • High-quality construction manufactured from sturdy plastic material for durability and long-lasting merchandising life. • Long and short runs. Easily fit small grab-n-go coolers or quickly snap on additional lanes for endless runs. • Customized length sized to your shelf specifications for a flush, complete merchandising look. • Cost-effective merchandising system that maintains and fronts its product offerings in place at all times.

Grab-and-Go, Single-Serve Beverage Merchandising in Retail and Beyond

Store Location Implications According to Rich Wildrick, Director of Engineering at Trion Industries, the correct store location and product mix can vary based on where it is being implemented in the store and regional shopping trends. Creating impulse buying and cross-merchandising opportunities can happen anywhere in the store. Floorstands and gravity feed displays can be used for creating last-minute impulse buys at checkout or cross-merchandising situations. A carefully crafted soda floorstand would make a great companion to the salty-snacks aisle or as a mixer in the liquor aisle. The temporary nature of these types of displays is a key benefit as they can be changed out to accommodate different buying seasons (i.e., holiday, Super Bowl, summer) and different marketing campaigns.

to be near the front or back of the store, or at the end of an aisle. A beverage center, appropriately sized for the location and customer base, placed near the coffee station will be a hit with all thirsty customers waiting for a service transaction to be completed.

More permanent solutions are the merchandising reach-in refrigerators and air curtain merchandisers. These types of refrigerated fixtures are used at most grocery stores and at a variety of mass, drug, and specialty stores. Retailers tend to use the open versions in the produce section stocked with fresh and pre-bottled juices and specialty waters. The closed beverage centers need to be close to a power source and thus they tend

• Make restocking easy. Stock your floor with coolers that can be refilled from the back, and ensure your POP is durable enough to withstand multiple restocking occasions.

Suggestions from FMI Technomic: • Place beverage coolers in places where they won’t disrupt traffic flow. Avoid busy spots where customers are already waiting in line for something else, such as the meat counter.

• Grab customers’ appeal with eye-catching design. Try implementing shaped or curved merchandising units to mix up classic C-store design.

Potential location: Produce Department Single-Serve Juice Source: FixturesCloseUp

Potential location: Racetrack by the Salt-Snack Aisle Liquor Department

Satisfying these customers’ short time windows is easier with logical equipment placement. See graphic below for ideas. And most importantly, manage traffic flow with ease using these...

2019 OMA Carbonated Drinks: Semi-Permanent Gold Award Dr Pepper Sweet Rewards Beverage Center Entrant: International Paper Retail Packaging and Display Client: Keurig Dr Pepper

Potential location: Juice or Produce Departments Checkout

2019 OMA Beverages, Beer: Permanent Silver Award POP-UP Merchandising Rack Entrant: Merchandising and Marketing Corp Client: Heineken USA

Potential location: Checkout Potential location: Checkout

Grab-and-Go, Single-Serve Beverage Merchandising in Retail and Beyond

Source: SHOP!

2019 OMA Supermarket: Semi-Permanent Bronze Award Last Sips of Summer Floorstand Entrant: WestRock Merchandising Displays Client: Coca-Cola North America

Potential location: Liquor Department

Curvilinear Smart Snacking Cashwrap Display Source:


Think Outside the Box: Rest Stop Locations within a Non-Grocery Store G r a b - a n d - g o p r o g r a m s a r e c o mm o n

Craft stores, home improvement stores, clothing boutiques, and high-end electronic/appliance stores come to mind...stores where couples, friends, and families shop together or spend more than five minutes making a purchase decision.

in almost every retail establishment these days. Most checkout areas have the cooler filled with soda and water, alongside the racks of mini bags of chips, snack, candy, and gum. But, what you don’t see in many retail establishments (outside a car dealership or service establishment) are “rest stop” locations. Places in the “consultative” areas that customers can sit, take a break from their shopping and have a cup of coffee or bottle of the beverage of their choice.

Stores like Michaels offer crafting classes, store events, project sheets, store displays that offer a shopping experience that can inspire creativity and build confidence in our customers’ artistic abilities. A grab-and-go display can help create a customer-centric shopping environment.

These “rest stops” work best in retail environments where people are in the “going shopping” mode. These shoppers are embarking on an enjoyable shopping expedition, exploring options, and looking for interesting and exciting opportunities.

Stores like Home Depot offer three key areas that scream the need for beverage refreshment: Contractor Consultation Area, Kitchen & Bath Design Center, and the Garden Center. Capture impulse sales while you have a captive audience.

Garden Center

Tool Rental

Tools & Hardware



Lawn Equipment & Chemical Indoor Garden




Seasonal Checkouts



Contractor Center

Source: Home Depot App

Garden Center

2019 OMA Carbonated Drinks: Permanent Gold Award Mountain Dew Game Fuel Cooler Entrant: Unified Resources in Display Client: PepsiCo Restrooms

Lumber & Building Maintenance

Doors & Windows

Blinds, Drapery, Wall Decor



2019 OMA Carbonated Drinks: Permanent Gold Award Silver Award AMP Game Fuel Game Console Entrant: Universal Client: PepsiCo

Appliances & Kitchens

Kitchen & Bath Design Center


Grab-and-Go, Single-Serve Beverage Merchandising in Retail and Beyond

Key Takeaways A well-planned, carefully executed grab-and-go program will not only benefit shoppers, but brands and retailers as well. • Brands – increase impulse purchases, thus increasing product sales and also increase brand awareness. • Retailers – increase impulse purchases, thus increasing product sales, thus increase basket size. Additionally can drive traffic to desired locations. • Shoppers – A refreshing beverage when they need it, where they need. Because, a satisfied customer is a loyal customer.

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When using a POP display to create the Graband-Go experience, make the display durable The extra time spent in making sure the display is durable is vital to its success. It must withstand the rigors of the supply chain, transportation, and store traffic patterns, and also support the weight of the product for the intended lifespan of the display. In consideration of the desired outcome, all parties need to understand the lifespan objective in order to deliver effective merchandising solutions.

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Ensure ease of restocking and ease of access If a display or fixture is intended to hold merchandise for any period of time, its ability to be re-stocked and ease of product accessibility should be considered. If the fixture is hard to shop and product on display is cumbersome to access, shoppers will not have a good experience with the brand, and they will move to the next one.


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Design and Production Considerations Communication among product team members that ends with complete understanding the scope of the project is of utmost importance for success. Some basic considerations need to be understood before the design, production, and implementation process begins.

Source: SHOP!

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Specify placement within the store A brand could have the best in-store marketing campaign in the company’s history, but if no one ever sees it how would they know? A primary location is the slot or space allotted to a CPG vendor for a permanent or seasonal listing. A secondary location is deemed to be off-shelf in another complementary spot within the store. Brands should always consider where the shopper is looking. In the aisle, the typical shopper gaze hovers between the shoulders to the knees (3½ and 4½ feet), known as the “strike zone.” Studies have also shown that a shopper rarely will ever look up once in the aisle, thus a ceiling dangler would not be an effective POP display here.

Design to target the right audience (aka know your customer) It is vitally important to identify the target shoppers or audience before the design process begins. Retailers must understand who they are, what is important to them, how they think, and where they are in their purchase journey. Focus on clearly communicating the right message in a way that resonates with them and relates to their needs. Answering consumer’s fundamental needs and emotions is much more powerful than simply stating your product’s benefits.

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Abide by the specific retailer’s rules and expectations A one-sized merchandising program does not fit within the requirements of all retail chains. Designing programs that will not be allowed on the store floor is a waste of time and money. Brands must understand and keep up to date with the basics of a retailer’s merchandising and display requirements.

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Ensure ease of assembly to maximize compliance As previously mentioned, it is important to know who will be responsible for setting up the display or fixture at the store level. This concern directly relates to how complex the display is to set up and stock. Will it be the store personnel, a third-party installation company or vendor field team (brand representatives)? A general rule is it should take no longer than 15 minutes to set up a display. But, a retailer may have different expectations. Please refer to the 2018 Merchandising Solutions: Space Management and Fixture Considerations to Maximize ROI white paper at for more information on compliance and best practices.

2019 OMA Awards: Dr Pepper Lil Sweet In-Store Activation Program

For more examples of grab-and-go fixtures, please visit Read more about creating store environments, POP Displays, and store fixtures, in the 2019 MaRC Exam Prep book at For best practices on developing and measuring the effectiveness of in-store marketing materials please visit, 2017 Shop! ROI Standards: In-Store Marketing Materials Standards Document at eweb/shopping/shopping.aspx?

Grab-and-Go, Single-Serve Beverage Merchandising in Retail and Beyond



Trion is rated among the Top-50 North American Retail and Point-of-Purchase fixture makers and is the world’s leading manufacturer of display and scanning hooks. Product lines include shelf management systems, cooler and freezer merchandising systems, storewide labeling systems, anti-theft and security fixtures, bar merchandisers, sign systems, display and scanning hooks, POP display components and hardware. aBOut trion ( is rated among the top-50 North American Retail and Point-of-Purchase fixture makers and is the world’s leading manufacturer of display and scanning hooks. Product lines include shelf management systems, cooler and freezer merchandising systems, storewide labeling systems, anti-theft and security fixtures, bar merchandisers, sign systems, display and scanning hooks, PoP display components and hardware. About

Shop! Environments Association is the global trade association dedicated to enhancing retail environments and experiences. Shop! represents more than 1,200 member companies and affiliates worldwide from 25 countries. association value and shop! environments Association ( is the global trade association dedicatedThe to enhancing retailbrings environments to the global retail marketplace through our industry leadership, research programs, experiences. shop! represents more than 1,200 member companies and affiliates worldwide from 25 countries. the association brings value to education and networking events. the global retail marketplaceindustry throughcertification, our industry leadership, research programs, industry certification, education and networking events. aBOut

sOurces: craig Weiskerger, Director of sales & Marketing, trion Industries, Inc. accessed 02/21/2020 accessed 02/20/2020 accessed 02/21/2020 accessed 02/18/2020 accessed 02/18/2020 accessed 02/20/2020 accessed 02/20/2020 accessed 02/20/2020 accessed 01/27/2020 accessed 3/30/2020 accessed 02/20/2020 accessed 02/20/2020 accessed 03/30/2020 Mintel, 2030 global Food and Drink trends Rich Wildrick, Director of engineering, trion Industries, Inc. tony Kadysewski, Director of Marketing communications, trion Industries, Inc.

4651 Sheridan Street, Suite 470, Hollywood, FL 33021 Phone 954.893.7300 | @shopassociation


Shop! Enhancing Retail Environments and Experiences

© 2020 by Shop! All Rights Reserved  No part of this report may be reproduced for distribution without the express written permission of the publisher.

4651 Sheridan Street, Suite 470, hollywood, Fl 33021 Phone 954.893.7300

International grocery retailer Lidl is putting sustainability at the center of its brand in the United States, as well as its operations abroad. Within the United States, Arlington, Va.-based Lidl has committed to selling only certified-sustainable fresh and frozen seafood, and works with the Marine Stewardship Council, the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) program and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council to ensure that suppliers meet the company’s standards. To emphasize a commitment to offering more sustainable products in its stores, Lidl instituted a transparent, credible seal initiative to call out specific products that meet standards and best practices regarding overfishing, organic farming and production, sustainable harvesting, and fair trade with product packaging and in-store store signage.

Too Good to Waste

Lidl is also focused on reducing food waste. The company’s Too Good to Waste program substantially discounts produce that falls short of the company’s standards and displays the products on prominently placed Too Good to Waste fixtures near the entrance of the produce department. The meat department also has a Too Good to Waste chilled-fixture section. Store-level employees have the authority to select perishable items that don’t meet the company’s standards and specifications for inclusion in nearby Too Good to Waste fixtures. The benefits of this approach are multifold: Substandard items

are routinely weeded out of the produce selection, shoppers have easy access to products at reduced prices, and department upkeep is more efficient. The company encourages recycling through a variety of efforts. Lidl has teamed up with How2Recycle for labeling on all of the retailer’s private label products that makes recycling easier and more convenient. The How2Recycle Label, a project of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition formed by Charlottesville, Va.based GreenBlue, communicates instructions for how to dispose of every packaging component. Lidl also includes Save Water labels on select items to encourage consumers to think about how they can limit use of the resource, for example by watering plants with water used to wash produce.

Lidl's Too Good to Waste program substantially discounts less-than-optimal produce to offset food waste.




Profiles in Sustainability MOM's Organic Markets continues to expand its selection of produce options with compostable or reduced packaging.

Family-owned and -operated MOM’s Organic Market is working to reduce food waste as a company by donating to food banks, offering free compost drop-off at all of its stores, carrying upcycled food products and spreading awareness on the issue of food waste to its customers. Last year, the Rockville, Md.-based chain debuted a first-of-itskind end cap highlighting upcycled food products, and dedicated a month-long promotion to food waste awareness. “In 2021, we donated over $1 million in extra food from our stores to over 60 different local food banks, soup kitchens and churches,” says Liz Dunn, category manager, personal care, apparel and lifestyle.

Greener Operations

“We implemented 10-cent credit incentives for reusable bags and have worked on legislative advocacy products for plastic bag taxes,” notes Dunn. MOM’s elects not to sell bottled water, preferring instead to host a filtered-water machine that supplies communities with refillable reverse-osmosis and alkaline water options. “We offer a large selection of bulk products to allow our clients to go plastic-free when possible and provide compostable or recyclable options for our bulk, coffee and produce departments,” says Dunn. The company even sponsors a denim drive to collect old denim jeans for affordable home insulations. Through an internal stewardship program, team captains are chosen to ensure that the chain’s environmental goals are being met in every store. “Grocery managers listen to our customers and provide feedback,” says Chris Miller, produce director and meat and seafood coordinator. “They scour the market for new and more sustainable companies.”

Supplier Sustainability

“We want to shorten the supply chain whenever possible for meat, and work directly with the producers,” continues Miller. “We try to


source local and pasture-based operations, and we love to support farming practices that contribute to soil health, especially the Chesapeake watershed.” According to Miller, the company is the only grocery store in the United States to offer 100% sustainable seafood — right down to its canned tuna — and follows the recommendations of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. “We are evolving further, hosting local seasonal CSA [community-supported agriculture] pickups and partnering with an oyster recovery program to provide fresh oysters via local farms,” he notes. The company is working with a host of new suppliers, including Northfield, Wis.-based aquaponic business Superior Fresh, which grows certified-organic greens that cleanse the water in which salmon is raised. In turn, the salmon provide nutritious water for the greens. MOM’s also works with mushroom grower Smallhold, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based company that’s reimagining sustainability with an inherently circular growing model that repurposes waste from other industries, such as sawdust, to grow mushrooms, and then donates the rich mushroom compost to farms, schools and nonprofits. Miller says that last year, MOM’s found more produce options, such as grapes, heirloom onion varieties and mushrooms, with compostable packaging, or reduced the packaging. “When possible, we work with partners that are moving the needle in sustainable packaging, like Hex Ferments, the only kombucha company in the Mid-Atlantic that has implemented and successfully integrated a bottle-return exchange program, saving over half a million bottles from the recycling and waste stream since 2013,” he points out. The retailer also works with U.K. company Georganics, which uses specialized recycling partners for materials and allows customers to join its Zero-To-Landfill plan to mail in products to be recycled.

Doubling Down on Recycling

MOM’s stores walk the walk when it comes to reuse and recycling. The stores recycle plastic wrap, boxes (waxed and plain), and scrap metal, and use bulk cleaning products. Stores that use reusable mop heads and towels launder them in-house. Registers use sustainable paper, adhesives and ink; the chain’s in-house Naked Lunch and Bake Shop kitchens use compostable utensils and napkins; and breakrooms are equipped with washable plates and cups only.

As neighborhood grocery stores focused on local partnerships, New Seasons Market and New Leaf Community Markets believe that they have a unique opportunity to improve their environmental impact from products and operations and throughout the supply chain. “We know our most significant areas of opportunity to reduce climate emissions come from our supply chain,” says Athena Petty, store support sustainability program manager for the sister banners, which are independent operators within the Good Food Holdings family of brands. “While we don’t have complete control over the practices that our suppliers and vendors employ, we have some leverage in choosing who we work with and how we support those suppliers.” Based in Portland, Ore., and Santa Cruz, Calif., respectively, New Seasons and New Leaf are investing in energy-efficient equipment and practices to reduce carbon emissions associated with producing, processing, transporting and storing food.

Supplier Sustainability

New Seasons and New Leaf are deepening partnerships with vendors that are committed to using regenerative practices. “We plan to spend a lot more time and energy communicating with our customers about the importance of that work,” notes Petty. “We’re also investing in tools to help us assess the environmental performance of our partner-brand private label products with more data and indicators than ever before.” Through a partnership with Santa Cruz-based FishWise, the chain employs in-store signage to indicate the sustainability level of products in its seafood cases.

A number of New Seasons stores feature a living wall that's maintained using recycled water.

For its Greenwheels program, New Seasons partners with Portland, Ore.'s B-line Urban Delivery business to deliver products from small local producers to stores.

Greener Operations

Emissions resulting from their buildings and distribution are a big part of the banners’ operational focus on climate action. “We’re investing in several significant system retrofits to help make our older buildings more efficient, and we’re exploring solar opportunities,” says Petty. Through New Seasons’ innovative Greenwheels partnership with Portland’s B-line Urban Delivery business, products from small local producers are delivered to stores via environmentally friendly electric bikes. “In 2021, the program reduced 35,878 individual delivery trips to New Seasons Market locations, saving more than 4,580,326 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, or the equivalent to CO2 emissions of 4,810 barrels of oil consumed,” explains Petty.

Reduced Packaging

Packaging is a primary sustainability focus area for New Seasons and New Leaf, and according to Petty, the banners are working on several initiatives to reduce the negative impact of single-use packaging. “We’re investing time and effort into developing reuse systems so our customers can shop with us while not creating any waste,” she notes. “We have a partnership with the local reuse company GO Box that allows customers to shop a variety of departments with reusable containers. Since that program launched in 2018, we’ve facilitated over 44,000 reuse cycles.” This year, banners are replacing clamshell packaging for their partner-brand private label fresh pasta with recyclable trays and are transitioning to grab-and-go tubs that are produced with 100% post-consumer recycled content. “Those tubs and all other clean, clear #1 PET containers will soon be accepted at all of our stores, starting Earth Day 2022,” reveals Petty. Recycled tubs then go into a feedstock used to recreate containers. “It’s not perfect,” she admits, “but we want to be part of helping establish recycling markets for this valuable material.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022



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Sustainable Seafood Starts on the Water

Our organizations support sustainabl food.

Seafood is having a moment. In an era of global change, Americans are increasingly turning to the ocean for healthy, delicious meals. Seafood draws shoppers that average a 33% higher basket value, and retail sales are up 30% since 2019. The time is right to stay informed on issues impacting supply— including U.S. fisheries and waterfronts. The U.S. eats more than 6 billion pounds of seafood a year, and growing. Federal policies must support robust, responsible fisheries that meet grocers’ needs and patrons’ expectations. From vessel to store to home chef, we are your partners in sustainable seafood. Grocers are stakeholders in U.S. fisheries. These policy principles support U.S. fisheries and food security, and provide opportunities to engage in sustainable seafood. • Magnuson-St v ct: America’s fisheries law puts science at the heart of management. Core tenets like responsible catch limits, stock assessments and habitat protections sustain a healthy, diverse seafood supply. • Climat F As ocean conditions change, so do our fishermen. Climate policies should help fish, harvesters and seafood businesses remain resilient through change. • W at onts: Our coastlines support a broad range of industries and communities. A secure seafood future depends on stable transportation corridors, a diverse marine workforce and port infrastructure prioritizing food production.

We are proud to support sustainable U.S. seafood. Let’s be engaged — connect with us to learn more. trat

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EXPLORING GROCERS’ ROLE IN SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD SUPPLY Speaking with... Brett Veerhusen, Principal, Ocean Strategies AS GROCERS NATIONWIDE CELEBRATE A STEEP RISE IN SEAFOOD SALES, a unique public affairs firm in the North Pacific is paying attention. Ocean Strategies, founded and led by commercial fishermen, specializes in fisheries and seafood. They know there’s an opportunity on America’s tables right now, and they have a message for retailers: know your stake in U.S. fisheries’ sustainability, and tell your story. Progressive Grocer asked Ocean Strategies’ Brett Veerhusen to explain how grocers are linked to fisheries.

PG: Americans are eating more seafood. Why? What does it mean for grocers? Brett Veerhusen: When the pandemic hit, everyone started cooking more often. Home chefs turned to seafood for new, healthy meals. Important customers like millennials shifted from seafood at restaurants to recipes at home. Baby boomers are eating more seafood, though they already consume more than other generations. This is good news for grocers. Seafood shoppers are willing to pay for quality, variety and sustainable sourcing, and their shopping basket value averages a third higher than others. Seafood is presenting retailers with an unprecedented growth opportunity. But how do we keep these shoppers interested, and a variety of seafood at the counter, in the freezer aisle, and on shelves? The simple answer: Lead by example and communicate your commitment to healthy seafood and sustainable fisheries. This message resonates with customers and supports America’s seafood supply.

PG: Fisheries management is complex. Can you break it down for us? BV: The bottom line is that in the U.S. federally managed fisheries are some of the most responsibly managed in the world. We have a robust, science-based system under the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), which means we are constantly assessing and improving our fisheries. It also means buying American means supporting healthy fisheries. MSA principles include: • Preventing overfishing by setting catch limits • Rebuilding overfished stocks • Increasing long-term economic and social benefits • Protecting habitat for fish to reproduce, feed, and mature

PG: How does science-based management and responsible seafood policy help maintain abundant supply? BV: Through regular assessments and clear limits, we can ensure harvests are responsible and renewable. This keeps supplies stable and businesses resilient. It protects jobs by keeping stores stocked and customers returning. But the ocean is dynamic and so are these issues. The MSA is up for reauthorization, meaning Congress can amend and reaffirm the law through public process. Policy conversations addressing climate issues, blue economies and working waterfronts infrastructure are also increasing. Our seafood community needs policy and development that prioritizes sustainable food production and transportation, even as other industries expand or develop on the waterfront. Harvesters and grocers rely on each other. Retailer commitment to responsible policy helps all seafood businesses partner on resource management, critical infrastructure and climate issues. What retailers need to know is simply that they matter in these conversations and should talk about the importance of seafood within and outside their businesses. They are seafood stakeholders not only because of a significant and growing financial stake, but because they’re the access point for many Americans. Our nation’s leaders need to know that, especially when making decisions about fisheries and waterfronts.

PG: How can grocers educate their shoppers and support ocean health and sustainable seafood? BV: Tell your seafood story. Educate consumers on your sustainability commitments. Those efforts resonate with seafood shoppers and your business partners. Policy discussions like MSA are easy opportunities to talk about why seafood is important to your business. Keep messaging simple and let lawmakers know seafood is sold across country and supports critical jobs nationwide. Partner with commercial fishermen, and let’s tell our story together. Fishing captures America’s attention. Use your store’s digital and print ads, and seafood counter materials, to introduce shoppers to the people providing the seafood they’re buying, and how those livelihoods and America’s seafood remain sustainable.

For more information on how you can support healthy fisheries and seafood supply, contact us at


Profiles in Sustainability

Bacardi prioritizes sustainability practices on a global scale with a “reduce, restore, revitalize” approach. The spirits company is taking bold action in various parts of the world to reduce its global footprint and spark a positive environmental impact. To that end, Bacardi is working toward zero plastic point-of-sale materials and secondary packaging by 2023, zero waste to landfill by 2022, and on becoming 100% plastic-free by 2030. In addition to a recent 50% greenhouse-gas reduction at its rum distillery in Puerto Rico, Bacardi is generating biogas through the wastewater treatment system, which is helping to power the distillation and create electricity. “More than 60% of the distillery’s energy is generated this way,” notes Rodolfo Nervi, VP global safety, quality and sustainability for Bacardi, whose U.S. headquarters is in Coral Gables, Fla. “Additionally, at the distillery in Puerto Rico, we are recapturing 95% of the heat generated during the distillation process to reduce energy required.” Outside of Puerto Rico, Nervi says that Bacardi has instituted renewable electricity at its production sites for Bombay Sapphire, Cazadores, Dewar’s and Martini, and has installed biomass boilers at distilleries for Bombay Sapphire, Cazadores, and Scotch whiskies Aberfeldy and Royal Brackla. As a member of the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER), Bacardi helped launch the Charco Bendito Project to address the shared water challenges in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, Mexico. The company invests heavily in doing the right thing for the planet. Its small-batch whiskey brand, Angel’s Envy, plants trees each September in a Toast The Trees event. Since the program’s inception in 2014, Angel’s Envy has planted more than 130,000 white oak trees in an effort to create a sustainable barrel supply chain. In Puerto Rico, Bacardi has amassed 38,535 square feet of pollinator gardens, which provide an annual food source for monarch butterflies, native bees, honeybees and seven species of bats. In addition to creating an all-volunteer-run 21-acre sustainable sanctuary for wildlife in Jacksonville, Fla., the company works with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and the Florida Audubon Society. These efforts earned the brand a Wildlife Habitat Council Ibis Award, a distinction given to programs that

Bumble Bee has shifted from shrink wrap to paperboard cartons for its multipacks.


Bacardi is on track to hit its target of sustainably sourcing 100% of its key raw materials by 2025.

demonstrated a spirit of resilience and the advancement of conservation despite the challenge of pandemic-related shutdowns, quarantines and workplace fluctuations. The company is on track to hit its target of sustainably sourcing 100% of its key raw materials by 2025 and has made substantial headway with sugarcane for Bacardi rum sourced from Bonsucro-certified suppliers, and 100% sustainably sourced botanicals for Bombay Sapphire. “Bacardi regularly communicates its sustainability achievements via online channels, including social media,” says Nervi. The company continues to explore additional avenues to communicate sustainability news to consumers.

More than 3 billion people in the world currently rely on seafood as a primary source of protein. Through its commitment to sustainability, Bumble Bee is ensuring that those resources will be available for the long term. “We know we must work closely within our complex and global industry, and with NGOs and government, to ensure ocean abundance and diversity so that seafood — including tuna — can remain a long-term source of nutrition,” says Leslie Hushka, SVP, global corporate social responsibility at San Diego-based Bumble Bee. The company has set goals and releases reports

You Don’t Worry About Vaccine Viability

UNTIL YOU DO. It takes a fraction of a degree to destroy the value of vaccines. That’s why your stores need stable, accurate storage for every dose in your inventory. PHCbi brand refrigerators and freezers provide the temperature stability required and many models are ENERGY STAR® Certified to help meet your sustainability goals. We worried about the details so your staff doesn’t have to.

Minimize uncertainty with PHCbi brand products

PHC Corporation of North America 1300 Michael Drive, Suite A, Wood Dale, IL 60191 Toll Free USA (800) 858-8442, Fax (630) 238-0074

PHC Corporation of North America is a subsidiary of PHC Holdings Corporation, Tokyo, Japan, a global leader in development, design and manufacturing of laboratory equipment for biopharmaceutical, life sciences, academic, healthcare and government markets.




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Don't W.T.F.

The Path to Sustainability & Waste Reduction for Grocery Retailers

(Waste the Food)

SPEAKING WITH RUSS NEWALL, Vice President, Customer Success at Invafresh

Reduce the number of overstocks.

Eliminate excess waste with accurate cut test data.

Perpetual inventory to understand shrink.

Calculate the yield and cost of each ingredient for recipes.

Just-in-time production to save labor hours and overproduction.

Progressive Grocer asked Russ Newall, Vice President, Customer Success at Invafresh, to discuss how Fresh Food Retail Platform (FFRP) — the industry standard for fresh food retail management — helps grocers rise to the challenges their fresh departments face and contributes to improved sustainability for grocers and consumers alike.

Achieve 50% reduction in replenishment time 30% reduction in shrink.

Cut fresh floral waste with production planning that understands promotional and seasonal activity.

excess shrink reduction

Progressive Grocer: What are the unique sustainability challenges that grocery retailers face in fresh? RN: First, it is important to remember that fresh isn’t just a concern for produce departments. It impacts your entire perimeter business. A key challenge for grocery retailers is fresh is time-sensitive and many grocers over order and over produce. Easily done when you are operating without having the right forecasting data to understand shifts in demand throughout the day and week. This over production leads to increased waste, reduced margins, and non-sustainable operations. Food retailers generate 10.5 million tons of food waste, sending almost one-third of wasted food to landfills. There is a tremendous opportunity to reduce shrink to improve profits in grocery. Fresh-centric ordering capabilities help to automate just-intime replenishment for store backrooms based on perpetual inventory, merchandising requirements, and forecasts, to generate accurate order amounts for future inbound deliveries. This leads to 50% reduction in replenishment time, 25% reduction in backroom inventory, and 30% reduction in shrink.

Easily manage complex recipes and make the right amount at the right time.


As consumers embrace sustainability in so many aspects of their lives, one thing has become clear: grocery retailers must implement sustainable business practices to stay relevant with their customers.

1.1 day $150M fresh food shelf life guaranteed

waste eliminated annually

Our fresh-centric #1 Fresh Food Retail Platform captures real-time, systematic known data to track and monitor specific areas of high shrink across all fresh departments to eliminate unwanted food waste and drive sustainable operations.

PG: What would you tell grocery retailers who ask, “How can Invafresh improve my business?” RN: To achieve a greener path to profits, grocers must implement the right fresh-native technology to balance demand with supply and availability. Our platform integrates vast amounts of operational data into machine learning algorithms to work as a single source of truth for decision making and operations across all points of the customer

experience — demand, production, availability, and delivery. The platform intelligently forecasts constant shifts in demand and can optimize and match supply and availability. Understanding the data through intelligent forecasting is key. Having the right fresh centric analytics and data is the answer, to make smart decisions that help manage waste, reduce shrink, and drive sustainability. That is exactly what FFRP empowers retailers to do. Our intelligent demand forecasting engine proactively forecasts to highlight anomalies, inefficiencies, and resource waste in operations and supply. All that and anticipates consumer demand accurately in the moment to avoid shrink and shortage.



— Patrick Iannotti, Director of Retail Operations, Price Chopper

PG: Can you share an experience from a customer who is using the Fresh Food Retail Platform (FFRP)? RN: Yes! We’re working with a large-scale supermarket chain that operates over 100 stores in four states throughout the central US. The company wanted to improve sales in fresh, and realized its fresh departments were operating as independent units, with no connectivity or visibility across stores. By implementing FFRP, they could identify core items that helped fresh category managers execute production planning successfully around those items to drive sales. It dramatically dropped markdowns, increased on-shelf availability and sales across their fresh departments — all components of creating a more sustainable business model. Our job is not only to understand what grocers are trying to accomplish, but also to understand how they want to accomplish it and why. We work alongside grocers to onboard, adapt and continuously improve their processes and deliver measurable outcomes in sustainability.


1 .866.332.3055 • •



Don't W.T.F.

The Path to Sustainability & Waste Reduction for Grocery Retailers

(Waste the Food)

SPEAKING WITH RUSS NEWALL, Vice President, Customer Success at Invafresh

Reduce the number of overstocks.

Eliminate excess waste with accurate cut test data.

Perpetual inventory to understand shrink.

Calculate the yield and cost of each ingredient for recipes.

Just-in-time production to save labor hours and overproduction.

Progressive Grocer asked Russ Newall, Vice President, Customer Success at Invafresh, to discuss how Fresh Food Retail Platform (FFRP) — the industry standard for fresh food retail management — helps grocers rise to the challenges their fresh departments face and contributes to improved sustainability for grocers and consumers alike.

Achieve 50% reduction in replenishment time 30% reduction in shrink.

Cut fresh floral waste with production planning that understands promotional and seasonal activity.

excess shrink reduction

Progressive Grocer: What are the unique sustainability challenges that grocery retailers face in fresh? RN: First, it is important to remember that fresh isn’t just a concern for produce departments. It impacts your entire perimeter business. A key challenge for grocery retailers is fresh is time-sensitive and many grocers over order and over produce. Easily done when you are operating without having the right forecasting data to understand shifts in demand throughout the day and week. This over production leads to increased waste, reduced margins, and non-sustainable operations. Food retailers generate 10.5 million tons of food waste, sending almost one-third of wasted food to landfills. There is a tremendous opportunity to reduce shrink to improve profits in grocery. Fresh-centric ordering capabilities help to automate just-intime replenishment for store backrooms based on perpetual inventory, merchandising requirements, and forecasts, to generate accurate order amounts for future inbound deliveries. This leads to 50% reduction in replenishment time, 25% reduction in backroom inventory, and 30% reduction in shrink.

Easily manage complex recipes and make the right amount at the right time.


As consumers embrace sustainability in so many aspects of their lives, one thing has become clear: grocery retailers must implement sustainable business practices to stay relevant with their customers.

1.1 day $150M fresh food shelf life guaranteed

waste eliminated annually

Our fresh-centric #1 Fresh Food Retail Platform captures real-time, systematic known data to track and monitor specific areas of high shrink across all fresh departments to eliminate unwanted food waste and drive sustainable operations.

PG: What would you tell grocery retailers who ask, “How can Invafresh improve my business?” RN: To achieve a greener path to profits, grocers must implement the right fresh-native technology to balance demand with supply and availability. Our platform integrates vast amounts of operational data into machine learning algorithms to work as a single source of truth for decision making and operations across all points of the customer

experience — demand, production, availability, and delivery. The platform intelligently forecasts constant shifts in demand and can optimize and match supply and availability. Understanding the data through intelligent forecasting is key. Having the right fresh centric analytics and data is the answer, to make smart decisions that help manage waste, reduce shrink, and drive sustainability. That is exactly what FFRP empowers retailers to do. Our intelligent demand forecasting engine proactively forecasts to highlight anomalies, inefficiencies, and resource waste in operations and supply. All that and anticipates consumer demand accurately in the moment to avoid shrink and shortage.



— Patrick Iannotti, Director of Retail Operations, Price Chopper

PG: Can you share an experience from a customer who is using the Fresh Food Retail Platform (FFRP)? RN: Yes! We’re working with a large-scale supermarket chain that operates over 100 stores in four states throughout the central US. The company wanted to improve sales in fresh, and realized its fresh departments were operating as independent units, with no connectivity or visibility across stores. By implementing FFRP, they could identify core items that helped fresh category managers execute production planning successfully around those items to drive sales. It dramatically dropped markdowns, increased on-shelf availability and sales across their fresh departments — all components of creating a more sustainable business model. Our job is not only to understand what grocers are trying to accomplish, but also to understand how they want to accomplish it and why. We work alongside grocers to onboard, adapt and continuously improve their processes and deliver measurable outcomes in sustainability.


1 .866.332.3055 • •


Profiles in Sustainability on its progress annually. One goal is to ensure that all seafood sourced will be externally recognized as sustainable or in a formal program moving toward certification by the end of 2025. “We’re already there on wild salmon and clams, and are transitioning our light-meat tuna in 2022,” notes Hushka. Bumble Bee is extending its partnership with the Global Ghost Gear initiative to collect lost and abandoned fishing equipment as a part of its fiveyear million-dollar commitment to Ocean Conservancy, and supporting regenerative ocean practices through a partnership with SeaTrees to restore kelp off the coast of Los Angeles and to plant 15,000 mangrove trees off Biak Island, in Indonesia. The seafood provider also recently revealed an industry-first shift from shrink wrap to paperboard cartons for its multipack can products. “This is significant because it will eliminate an estimated 23 million pieces of plastic waste annually, and it also moves our company to 98% readily recyclable packaging within our total product line,” observes Hushka. The paperboard is made from 100% recycled material, with a minimum of 35% post-consumer content, and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. That means that the multipack can product packaging is fully recyclable in home recycling systems, both the box exterior and the cans inside. “We’ve received very positive feedback about the new paperboard packaging from our retail customers,” says Hushka. “They benefit from the flexibility the new package design offers on the shelf, including the option to set the product vertically or horizontally to maximize shelf space. The recyclable package also helps retailers move toward their own sustainability goals, including plastic waste reduction.” Providing alternative, sustainable ways for consumers to enjoy ocean-inspired food is a key pillar of the company’s long-term commitment to ocean health. Bumble Bee is the first and only major seafood company to enter the plant-based protein sector through a joint distribution venture with Good Catch Foods, a brand of Austin, Texas-based Gathered Foods. Since consumer education is an important component of sustainability, Bumble Bee is listening and responding more than ever to shoppers who are searching for healthy and sustainable food options. “Data shows that the pandemic has not hampered shoppers’ commitment to buying sustainable products, and we are working hard in our marketing efforts to make sure that consumers understand that The Bumble Bee Seafood Co. is committed to sustainability,” asserts Hushka. “We’ve also heard our consumers consistently ask for sustainable packaging choices that make recycling easier. Now consumers can easily recycle our multipack can products within their home recycling systems.”


The Clorox Co. has made a significant dent in minimizing waste in the manufacturing and packaging of its products. “People can only be well and thrive in a clean world,” notes Miranda Helmer, VP of R&D, sustainability, and packaging at The Clorox Co., which is based in Oakland, Calif. “That’s why Clorox has set ambitious goals — integrated into our corporate strategy — to reduce plastic and other waste in our packaging and operations.” One signature goal set by the company is to reduce its virgin plastic and fiber packaging by 50% by 2030. “We’re innovating across our portfolio to help achieve this goal, including our new Clorox multipurpose refillable cleaner starter kit that uses 80% less plastic, our Burt’s Bees Rescue Elderberry Lip Balm tube that is made from 60% recycled and plant-based plastic, and Glad ForceFlex Plus Tall Kitchen Drawstring Trash Bags made with 50% recovered plastic, and packaging made from 100% recycled paperboard,” says Helmer. “We’ve made significant progress but recognize there is still more work to do.” In 2019, the company introduced Clorox Compostable Cleaning Wipes, made with a plant-based cloth, and earned Safer Choice certification from the Environmental Protection Agency for the product in 2021. Clorox Bleach added a 25% more concentrated formula to its lineup in 2020, saving resources across the product’s lifecycle. Sold in a smaller bottle, the bleach uses less water and raw materials, and has a lower carbon footprint during manufacturing and distribution. The move to a concentrated bleach saves millions of gallons of water, 4 million pounds of paper from corrugate shippers, and 15 million pounds of plastic annually. The company’s Burt’s Bees brand uses an average of 50% or more post-consumer recycled materials in its packaging, avoids over-packaging, limits mixed-materials packaging that’s hard

Clorox's concentrated formula uses less water and fewer raw materials.

to recycle and uses innovative recycled materials. Burt’s Bees Facial Towelettes, for example, are made with repurposed cotton from T-shirt manufacturing, and the packaging uses a sticker rather than a plastic closure as a safety seal. The brand also partnered with Trenton, N.J.-based TerraCycle on a packaging recovery program that makes it easy for consumers to recycle Burt’s Bees’ packaging once it has served its purpose. TerraCycle has collected more than 130,000 pieces of Burt’s Bees packaging from consumers since the program began. “Burt’s Bees has worked incredibly hard over the years to use less packaging, to be a leading brand in our use of recycled content and to design packaging that is recyclable,” affirms Matt Kopac, associate director, sustainability for Burt’s Bees. Meanwhile, Clorox’s Glad brand features technology that allows

As one of the largest producers, distributors and marketers of premium branded food products for the U.S. retail market, Del Monte Foods has seized the opportunity to positively influence the way that food is grown on farms across the country. The Walnut Creek, Calif.-based company has been a pioneer in introducing agricultural practices that minimize the use of pesticides and help farmers grow more robust crops and achieve greater yields with less fertilizer, water and other materials. Del Monte works with farmers on a variety of sustainability initiatives, including the development of drought- and pest-resilient seed varieties. The company also focuses on enhancing soil quality while reducing the use of chemicals through innovative processes like plant breeding, managing water use in farms and processing/packaging to maximize efficiency and minimize pollution, and proactively addressing climate change and working to minimize its carbon footprint. Recycling is also an area of sustainability commitment for Del Monte, and the company is committed to informing consumers what’s in its packaging and how it can be recycled. By 2025, it will add How2Recycle icons to 100% of its packaging. Del Monte joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to partner with other leading packaging suppliers and CPGs to work toward more sustainable packaging solutions. Only 4% of the company’s packaging by weight contains any plastics; the rest is fully recyclable steel-, glass- or paper-based. Del Monte is working to develop a compostable fruit cup, as well as beverage and fruit cups that contain post-consumer recycled content, and aims to source more recyclable polypropylene suitable for food contact. In addition, it started trials on two new plant-based plastic alternatives while expanding recyclable packaging to roughly 96%. Through its Del Monte Blue Lake Petite Cut and Blue Lake Farmhouse Cut Green Beans products, which are made with 100% upcycled and sustainably grown green beans from Wisconsin and Illinois, Del Monte redirected approximately 600,000 pounds of surplus green beans last year, helping to provide healthy and affordable food while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. “Helping to lead the upcycled food movement with the industry’s first canned vegetable product to be Upcycled Certified reflects our

its kitchen drawstring bags to be made with 7% to 22% less plastic than the top 10 competing brands. Glad ForceFlex Plus Recovered Materials trash bags use 20% post-consumer recycled plastic diverted from landfills, plus 30% reclaimed plastic, which is reused scrap material from the manufacturing process. In the United States, Glad has declared specific 2030 sustainability targets to reduce its environmental footprint, including investments in strategic partnerships that amplify sustainability efforts. One example is Orem, Utah-based Recyclops, a technology-enabled sustainability and recycling startup that aims to expand access to recycling for more than 100,000 U.S. households currently without viable curbside options.

Del Monte works with farmers on a variety of sustainability initiatives.

team’s dedication to always ensuring that nutritious food reaches its highest purpose,” says Greg Longstreet, president and CEO of Del Monte. “We’re continuously focused on uncovering new opportunities to reduce waste.” The company has begun repurposing syrup from its boba and pineapple product lines to use in a new line of Del Monte Fruit Infusions cups. It’s also diverting apricot pits for use in beauty products, and fruit pulp to be turned into juice. Del Monte will continue to identify opportunities to expand its upcycling efforts across its portfolio of brands. “As we look to the future, setting and achieving ambitious sustainability targets is more important than ever,” observes Molly Laverty, Del Monte’s senior manager of environmental and social governance. “From adopting sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices to innovating around nonplastic and recyclable packaging, we remain focused on growing good for our planet.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022


More corrugated packaging is recovered for recycling than any other packaging material1. The recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) has hovered around 90 percent for years. Maybe that’s because 96 percent of Americans have access to community curbside or drop-off corrugated recycling programs2. And nearly all OCC is used to make new paper products. Reusable. Renewable. Extraordinary. Learn more about the renewability, recyclability and responsibility of boxes at

1 2

2013 EPA “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2013 Fact Sheet” 2014 AF&PA Community Access Survey. Louis Berger, February 2015


THE SUSTAINABLE STORY OF CORRUGATED PACKAGING SPEAKING WITH...RACHEL KENYON, Senior Vice President, Fibre Box Association (FBA) At first glance, you might take all the corrugated cardboard boxes in your store for granted. It’s true, they look pretty ordinary. But the fact is, boxes are really quite extraordinary — with an incredible sustainability story to tell. Progressive Grocer asked Rachel Kenyon, senior vice president of FBA, to explain what makes boxes “the most extraordinary ordinary thing in the world” and why responsibly managed corrugated packaging is good for the planet. Progressive Grocer: There are many misconceptions out there about boxes — especially when it comes to the topic of environmental sustainability. What facts can you share that might quell concerns about cutting down trees and the impact that has on the environment? Rachel Kenyon: The first thing retailers and the consumers who shop in their stores should know is that corrugated boxes are among the most sustainable packaging products in the supply chain today. They’re made from three simple ingredients: fiber from trees, moisture and starch. And about 90% of U.S.-sourced wood fiber comes from trees grown by private landowners who are deeply invested in maintaining a sustainable crop to stay in business — not in selling their land to developers. These landowners grow, harvest and regrow trees using sustainable forest management practices

that perpetuate infinitely renewable forestlands.1 PG: Many people assume that one of the best ways to become more sustainable consumers is to buy 100% recycled content boxes. Is that an accurate assumption? RK: It’s time to demystify that myth! What is lost in translation is that we need new fiber to keep making corrugated boxes. The fibers used to make boxes can be recycled at least 10 times and maybe more — but that recycled fiber must originate somewhere. That origin is the new fiber used to create the first box that was recycled.2 The truth is that a balanced solution — one that uses new fiber for stability and recycled fiber for sustainability — is best. The combination of these complementary fiber streams helps the industry to efficiently operate in a perpetual cycle of sustainability unique to the corrugated industry.2 We’re keeping packaging out of landfills and helping feed the supply of new material to make new boxes. It’s a truly circular manufacturing process. PG: Statistics show that corrugated packaging is the most recycled material in the world. Tell us about “the resounding success story” of corrugated boxes. RK: The average corrugated box contains 52% recycled content,3 which lowers its environmental impact on greenhouse gases, acidification and non-renewable energy. With more than 32 million tons recycled in 2020, the recycling rate for corrugated cardboard boxes can’t be beat.3 And that wasn’t only a one-year success: The total recovery rate has been around 90% for the last decade.

PG: How can retailers encourage customers to recycle corrugated cardboard boxes, especially now that they’re getting so many boxes delivered to their homes? RK: Collaboration throughout the supply chain is key! Consumers today are more conscientious about their shared responsibility than ever before — and they will support retailers who show they care about the environment, too. Letting your customers know that your store recycles corrugated boxes, and then encouraging them to recycle all of the boxes delivered to their doorsteps, will help create a truly circular, sustainable economy — and help build your business in the process, too. 1

UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 3 American Forest & Paper Association 2

➤ To learn more about boxes and how they can help your store become a more sustainable enterprise, visit


Profiles in Sustainability

Hershey is working toward a world where cocoa communities and ecosystems will thrive for generations to come. In 2018, the Hershey, Pa.-based company launched its Cocoa For Good strategy to holistically address systemic social and environmental challenges in cocoa communities. “Our Cocoa For Good program aims to improve farmer incomes and livelihoods, eliminate child labor and improve children’s nutrition, and protect the environment,” says Leigh Horner, VP, corporate communications and global sustainability. “These pieces are interconnected and work together to create better outcomes for farmers, their families and cocoa-growing communities.” Like other challenges in cocoa sourcing, deforestation and biodiversity loss due to encroachment into protected areas is also caused by a complex set of root causes, such as poverty, the absence of land titles, a lack of clarity on land tenure arrangements, limited knowledge of sustainable farming practices and poor law enforcement. To combat this, Hershey is investing in helping farmers secure land titles where they farm, spreading climate-positive farming methods, and investing in protecting the delicate ecosystems where cocoa is produced in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. “We have spent the past few years comprehensively mapping our cocoa-growing farms in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana to create a baseline


The Hershey Co. is working to create better outcomes for farmers, their families and cocoa-growing communities.

deforestation rate through measuring annual tree cover loss and to closely monitor farm locations for encroachment into protected forest areas,” explains Horner. “Farms supported by Cocoa For Good showed less tree cover loss than the national averages for both Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.” Recently, Hershey has changed how the company prioritizes environmental sustainability to align with the best available science to drive impact and action. “We announced science-based greenhouse-gas reduction goals just over a year ago,” notes Horner. “To cut Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, we’re focused on renewable energy through investing in the construction


Profiles in Sustainability of three utility-scale solar farms, and energy efficiency projects like becoming an Energy Star Partner and joining the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Building, Better Plants Program.” Hershey recognizes that its greatest opportunity for emission reduction is within its extended value chain, which includes cocoa, dairy and sugar sourcing, as well as packaging and logistics. “In each of these areas, we are engaging in multi-stakeholder planning and taking action to reduce the impact made by our products and their ingredients,” says Horner. Since much of the company’s value chain emissions are due to land-use change from the farm-level production of ingredients, Hershey is addressing land use as a significant part of its climate action plan and has committed to eliminating commodity-driven deforestation from its ingredient supply chains by 2030, as well as many other initiatives to help the company achieve its emission reduction goals. Hershey also encourages its employees to participate in the Green Team initiative, which “now [has] nearly 20 groups leading wide-ranging, impactful projects — from pollinator gardens to PPE recycling and more — in locations around the world,” says Horner. Green Teams are an important force in educating colleagues on the company’s ambitious commitments and how they can be part of achieving those goals. As Horner puts it, “We knew that tapping into the pride and passion of our Hershey colleagues would drive action and change, and move us closer to our goals.”

The first box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes cereal in 1906 was made from recycled content. Today, Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co. has one of the smallest plastic packaging footprints among peer food companies, and 76% of its packaging is recyclable globally. “Over the years, we’ve significantly reduced the amount of material in our cereal boxes, liners and other packages,” says Janelle Meyers, chief sustainability officer at Kellogg. “We’ve reduced flap sizes, eliminated excess air and introduced other innovations to make our packaging better for the environment.” Kellogg is working hard to ensure that more of its packaging contributes to the circular economy. To that end, 100% of the timber-based packaging that goes into Kellogg’s cereal and other boxes comes from lowrisk, certified-sustainable or recycled sources. In addition, Kellogg has set a sustainable packaging goal to work toward 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by the end of 2025, and is aggressively collaborating with its partners on cutting-edge innovation that will affect how packaging with an even smaller environmental impact protects and enhances foods.

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From producing food to packaging, Kellogg Co. is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.

In North America, the company became a member of The Recycling Partnership to support projects related to curbside recycling. “Leveraging these collaborative partnerships with retailers, suppliers and other companies supports our efforts to design packaging materials that work within both existing and future infrastructure,” says Meyers. Bold packaging redesigns have allowed the company to significantly reduce waste. In 2020, Kellogg launched Bear Naked’s first fully recyclable pouch for granolas in the United States, making it available for store drop-off at more than 18,000 stores nationwide. The brand kicked off a social media campaign on Instagram to support the launch of the bag. The campaign

encouraged consumers to take pictures of themselves dropping off the bags and served to generate more interest among consumers. By moving to redesigned resealable bag packaging for its MorningStar Farms veggie foods, Kellogg reduced packaging weight by 38%. An added benefit of the new packaging is better protection against freezer burn, which further reduces food waste. In the United States, Kellogg is reducing the thickness in some of its bag-in-box retail cereal packages by 17% to reduce plastic packaging, and recently decreased the size of cereal boxes while maintaining the same amount of food in each box. The result was a reduction in size of corrugated shipping cartons that hold these packages, and the elimination up to 1 million pounds of packaging material. “Currently, we have some instances where we bulk ship cereal in reusable bins from the production facility to the final destination, where it is packed into pouches or bag-in-box packages,” says Meyers. “This happens with our granolas and cereals in multiple regions. In 2019 alone, we reduced packaging in South Africa, India, China and Australia by over 80,000 pounds.” Kellogg continues to invest heavily in innovation, and recently expanded the Innovation Suite at its W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research to include a 40,000-square-foot design studio to allow for world-class innovation, from concept to execution, including work on compostable and sustainable packaging.


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1.800.663.2803 rtscom i c com om PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022




Tried and True Refrigerant Solutions THESE SAFE, SIMPLE AND SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS ARE THE BEST WAY TO GO FOR GROCERS. By Jordan Smith oday’s supermarkets and small grocers face many decisions when it comes to managing their refrigeration equipment. Should they retain their existing equipment year after year until a problem arises? Or should they retrofit their equipment to extend its useful life by several years? Maybe the best solution is to overhaul entirely by replacing aging equipment with a new system that can deliver decades of service. Each of these options entail tradeoffs, which can vary from store to store. When grocers consider the thin margins that they face today, they must weigh those tradeoffs carefully. It’s important for decision-makers to carefully evaluate safety, simplicity and sustainability: Is the refrigeration equipment safe for technicians servicing it? Is it safe for customers? Is the equipment simple? Can it be installed and serviced easily with minimal headaches, and for a manageable cost? Does the equipment help the store be more sustainable? Is the system energy efficient?


Fortunately, there are equipment options that meet these questions with a resounding “yes” across the board. Systems powered by lower global-warming potential (GWP) hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and HFC/HFO blends, also known as advanced climate technologies (ACTs), often meet all of these objectives. ACTs regularly offer advantageous flammability and toxicity characteristics at an affordable installation cost. As a baseline case, consider an established grocer currently using R-404A (HFC) but contemplating a future refrigerant choice. Some stores might be able to retrofit a system using common components such as thermostatic expansion valves, while other stores might require an entirely new system with the latest electronics such as electronic expansion valves. As part of the vetting process, the owner should complete a cost-benefit analysis of each approach.

Advantages of ACTs

While many options may exist for the grocer, including the installation of an entirely new system, equipment running on ACTs is reliably safe, simple and sustainable. These new-generation solutions present minimal safety risks, receiving low flammability and toxicity ratings from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

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Use actual product to set lane width from 2.00” to 3.75”. Slide product front-to-back to ‘ZIP’ tracks together in final position.

ZIP Track® maintains its width accurately for the entire depth of facing without the need for a rear anchor system.

It’s not just for coolers or beverages. Use ZIP Track® in multiple categories to showcase many different types of product.

Trion Industries, Inc. | | | 800-444-4665 |

©2019 Trion Industries, Inc.



Additionally, ACTs provide operators with ease of use. They are simple to service by a wide range of technicians and can be retrofitted into existing systems, saving both expense and effort. This ease is particularly advantageous in light of current challenges in recruiting qualified technicians. Sustainability is also critical. Energy efficiency is vital to reducing a refrigeration system’s climate impact. Indirect emissions — including energy efficiency — account for 60% to 90% of a system’s total emissions. In other words, the “green” impact of a refrigeration system is largely a function of how efficiently it cools. Total equivalent warming impact (TEWI) and life cycle climate performance (LCCP) are well-established metrics that help operators gauge the total environmental impact of a system, including indirect emissions from energy usage. ACTs enable operators to optimize energy efficiency in their stores and test favorably against comprehensive climate impact metrics like TEWI and LCCP. Across many measures, ACTs help grocers achieve safe, simple and sustainable refrigeration in their stores. While regulators are driving original equip-

Advanced climate technologies regularly offer advantageous flammability and toxicity characteristics at an affordable installation cost. ment manufacturers (OEMs) to develop equipment that’s both more efficient and environmentally friendly, store owners remain committed to making the smartest long-term investment for their businesses. So, as grocers consider system enhancements, why shouldn’t they select “tried and true” ACTs?

Jordan Smith has been executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Global Forum for Advanced Climate Technologies (GlobalFACT) since its inception in early 2018. He has more than 20 years of experience providing public policy advice and representation on federal legislative and regulatory issues, with special emphasis on energy, environmental, natural resource and health care matters. Smith’s experience includes developing and leading education and advocacy coalitions central to some of the most challenging public policy debates in the United States and across the globe.





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Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Keto-Friendly Kids’ Cereals

Incredi-Bowl offers those looking to cut carbs a way to enjoy their childhood favorites. The keto-friendly product line comes in three varieties: Chocolate Crunch (5.5 ounces), featuring real cocoa, with each serving containing 16 grams of protein, 7 grams of net carbs, 2 grams of total sugars and 9 grams of total fat; Frosted Flakes (8 ounces), lightly frosted and containing 15 grams of protein, 7 grams of net carbs, 2 grams of total sugars and 9 grams of total fat; and Honey Nut Hoops (8 ounces), made from whole grain oats and real honey, and containing 16 grams of protein, 7 grams of net carbs, 2 grams of total sugars and 8 grams of total fat per serving. Mirroring the flavor and form of consumers’ best-loved breakfasts as kids, the cereals are all grain free. The suggested retail price for any of the varieties is $6.99 EDLP.

Shine On

Salad Days

Indoor-grown leafy greens supplier BrightFarms has launched Crunch Kits, a premium salad kit option. Two initial kit varieties, Chickpea Caesar, featuring Sunny Crunch greens topped with crispy chickpeas, organic quinoa, shaved parmesan and garlic crouton crumbles, and paired with a vegan Caesar dressing, and Sunny Bacon, offering with Sunny Crunch greens topped with uncured bacon bits, shredded white cheddar cheese, sunflower seeds, crispy onions, herb croutons, and paired with a vegan ranch dressing, are now available in Illinois supermarkets, and will roll out to additional regions throughout 2022. Salad kits are the fastest-growing segment in both the packaged-salad and indoor-farming segments, creating a unique opportunity for category innovation and growth. Crunch Kits are made with fresh, sustainably grown salad greens and premium toppings. The two 7-ounce varieties are sized to be eaten on their own or as a shared side, providing alternatives to traditional field-grown kits, as well as a more affordable and convenient alternative to expensive fast-casual salads. The average suggested retail price for either Crunch Kit is $5.49 but will depend on the retailer. BrightFarms currently has greenhouses located in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois and New Hampshire.


In keeping with a recent snacking habits survey conducted by Outshine that found 60% of parents prefer kids’ snacks over adult snacks, and 86% of parents are interested in snacks that appeal to the whole family, the company, already known for its frozen fruit bars, has launched Fruit & Yogurt Smoothie Pouches, its first shelf-stable, take-anywhere snack, for kids and adults alike. Made with real fruit blended with nonfat yogurt, the smoothie pouches come in four fruit-forward flavors: Blueberry Pear, Peach Raspberry, Strawberry Coconut and Pear Vanilla. Each smoothie contains fewer than 10 grams of total sugar, zero grams of added sugars, no artificial flavors or colors, and no GMO ingredients. Offered in retailers’ applesauce sections, the product line retails for a suggested $4.49 per 14-ounce box of four 3.5-ounce pouches.

Vegan Breakfast on the Go

Mikey’s, a creator of better-for-you, quality-ingredient frozen pockets, tortillas and English muffins, has now teamed with plant-based egg maker Just Egg to launch a line of PlantBased Breakfast Pockets in two savory flavors: Breakfast Scramble, filled with fluffy scrambled Just Egg along with veggies and melty plant-based cheese, and Tex-Mex Breakfast, containing scrambled Just Egg and black beans, veggies and taco seasoning. Like all of Mikey’s frozen pockets, both varieties of the latest line are Certified Gluten Free and free of dairy and soy. The ready-in-minutes plant-based breakfast pockets join Mikey’s rapidly growing portfolio of vegan options, including the brand’s recently launched Meaty Marinara and Spicy Southwest plant-based pockets made with Beyond Meat, and will be the first vegan breakfast options from Mikey’s when they arrive at retail this month. Both breakfast pockets have a suggested retail price of $6.99 per 8-ounce two-pack.;

Make Your Own Doughnuts

Pillsbury has dreamed up a fun way for consumers to enjoy doughnuts at home. Using the brand’s Funfetti Donut Mix, families can create the treats in three varieties: Chocolate, Cake and Unicorn Pink Vanilla. The doughnuts can be baked, pan fried or air fried, enabling home chefs of all skill levels to create something special. Each box makes 12 large doughnuts or 36 doughnut holes containing candy bits. A glaze mix comes in a separate pouch; home chefs just add milk and the topping is ready to pour on their doughnuts. All of the mixes combine easily with water, milk and eggs, and only take minutes to prepare. Pillsbury’s Funfetti Donut Mix is now available nationwide for a suggested retail price range of $2.50-$4 per 16.2-ounce box. Hometown Food Co.’s portfolio includes the exclusive U.S. rights to the Pillsbury brand’s shelf-stable baking products, including Funfetti, along with the Hungry Jack, White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White brands.;

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars

Dairy-Free Cheese

Saputo Dairy USA, one of the largest manufacturers of cheese and dairy products in the United States, is now introducing the plant-based Vitalite brand to retail customers across the country. Vegan-certified, dairy-free Vitalite provides taste, texture and melting performance comparable to those of dairy cheese, making the product line suitable for those seeking a dairy-free alternative for use in pizza, pasta dishes, tacos, salads, sandwiches and more. The launch of Vitalite in the United States follows the success of the brand in the dairy-free category in the United Kingdom since 2003, as well as its recent debut in the U.S. foodservice channel. Backed by 60-plus years of dairy cheese-making experience, along with 30 years of vegan cheesemaking experience gained through Saputo’s acquisition of Bute Island Foods in 2021, the six products launching at retail are 7-ounce Plant-Based Mozzarella Style Slices, 7-ounce Plant-Based Mozzarella Style Shreds, 7-ounce Plant-Based Cheddar Style Slices and 7-ounce Plant-Based Cheddar Style Shreds, all retailing for a suggested $4.99; 2.1-ounce Plant-Based Grated Parmesan Style, retailing for a suggested $2.99; and 9-ounce Plant-Based Cream Cheese Spread, retailing for a suggested $5.99.;

Starryside Co. has launched its first product, Star Water, an organic, non-GMO, gluten-free immunity-boosting beverage for kids, in three child-centric flavors: Rockin’ Root Beer, Beachy Peachy Strawberry and Magical Mango Pineapple. All three SKUs are fortified with vitamins C and D and zinc to support immunity, and contain 0 grams of sugar, 0 calories and 0% juice. Inspired by educator Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk — the most popular of all time — and best-selling books, Starryside co-founders Liz Seelye and Erin Fasano, who are both moms as well as food and beverage industry vets, set out to create a healthy hydration beverage that would boost kids’ concentration and creativity. Any variety of the product line retails for a suggested $6.99 per “adventure-ready” 4-pack of colorful recyclable 8-ounce cans designed for smaller hands.

Everything to Gain

Procter & Gamble’s Gain brand has now introduced Gain Power Blast Dish Spray, which features the detergent’s familiar scent in a spray-on dish soap. Gain Power Blast Dish Spray uses Aroma Boost technology that allows the product’s signature fragrance to linger long after the dishes are washed and put away. The specially designed nozzle steadily sprays scent-packed suds that activate on contact and don’t require water to begin cutting through everyday grease and baked-on messes. Since water isn’t needed until the final rinse, users can save up to 50% less water compared with running the tap while washing dishes by hand. Additionally, since Gain Power Blast Dish Spray is designed with a reusable sprayer and an easy-to-swap refill bottle, consumers can elevate their dishwashing experience while saving both time and water and minimizing waste. The suggested retail prices are $4.49 for a 16-fluid-ounce starter kit and $3.49 for a 16-fluid-ounce refill bottle.; PROGRESSIVE GROCER April 2022


AHEAD OF WHAT’S NEXT By Bridget Goldschmidt

Local Woman Makes Good A FEMALE STORE OWNER EMBR ACES THE CHALLENGES OF RUNNING AN INDEPENDENT NEIGHBORHOOD MARKE T. rban Market Chicago, which opened last December in its namesake city, is a 40,000-square-foot grocery store owned and operated by business partners Christina Palivos and Maria Dernis. As one of the few female-owned grocery stores in the country, the store plays a key role in its community of River West by helping create more economic diversity while supporting area employees and suppliers, and paying tax dollars that stay right in the neighborhood. I connected recently with Palivos to get her take on what it’s like to be a woman running a local independent grocery store. “The idea for Urban Market started years ago,” says Palivos. “Both Maria and I are foodies, and we both grew up in a Greek household, so there was always food, and we were always around the food and grocery business. We both just grew up around the kitchen. “So, when we put together Urban Market, we really wanted to compile a number of different concepts and ideas to create a destination,” continues Palivos. “We knew that our customers were expecting a lot, not just a place to buy food and leave, so we added a café, we added a bar, fresh food stations, and a meat section that doesn’t have a rival in the city in terms of quality and selection. There was also a huge emphasis on providing local items, because, as an independent store, we know the ex- As one of the few femaletraordinary value in support- owned grocery stores in ing other local businesses.”

More Than a Boys’ Club

the country, Urban Market Chicago plays a key role in its community by helping create more economic diversity while supporting area employees and suppliers, and paying tax dollars that stay right in the neighborhood.

When asked about the difficulties that a woman encounters running a local grocery store, she replies: “It’s absolutely a boys’ club, and it’s always been like that. It’s because all the guys [in this sector] go into certain businesses that have traditionally been male-dominated, and [it] stays like that for generations. ... That’s not to say that women can’t or shouldn’t go into the business, but I know it’s more of a challenge. There’s going to be more of proving yourself and being assertive.” Things are evolving, however, she observes. “I do see more food sup88

Christina Palivos runs Urban Market Chicago with her business partner, Maria Dernis.

pliers being women, women of color and from backgrounds that aren’t traditional, and I love doing business with them,” asserts Palivos. “Especially after COVID, it does feel like it’s a whole new generation of people getting into the food business that may not have if things hadn’t happened how they did the last two years.”

Inside Baseball

In giving advice to anyone, regardless of gender, who wishes to open a neighborhood grocery store, Palivos is quick to point out the advantages that she and Dernis had because of their longtime involvement in the industry, well before they took the plunge of store ownership themselves. “Both of our husbands have owned stores, and they’ve been instrumental in the development of [Urban Market] — the opening and managing — and that support has been crucial to us both,” explains Palivos. “I think anyone thinking of starting out in this business needs to spend a lot of time immersed in it, because there are so many intricacies and insider-baseball elements that you have to have that deep experience.” When it comes to women store owners in particular, she notes that “it’s also critical to have support at home and with your family, because anyone in the grocery business will tell you that it takes up all of your time, so you have to [be] ready to make sacrifices, and that mostly comes from time at home.”

Bridget Goldschmidt Managing Editor









CONTACT YOUR SALES REP FOR DETAILS AND TO START BUILDING YOUR BRAND SUCCESS TODAY! Tammy Rokowski Associate Publisher, Regional Sales Manager Southwest, MI, International 248.514.9500

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DEAR WORLD Smarter Sorting loves you and we want to do right by you. Better still, we’re not alone in this ambition. Today, we are working with the most progressive retailers on the planet. This could be a futuristic idea and sometimes people ask us, “Really?” and “How?”. Well today, we have a passionate team of math nerds, chemistry wizards and retail pros—who care about the planet. And we have built a technology platform that puts the power of big data and algorithms to work. Our data and insights provide the answers to prove that sustainability is good for business. We want to blow out of the water outdated notions. Why should doing business the right way cost more? And we’re taking on the big questions: How do we reduce packaging’s environmental impact? How do we lower the carbon footprint of logistics? Can we use math to end unnecessary animal testing? To solve the big problems in our world is hard. But not impossible. Drop us a line:

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