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EXTREME RETAILING How deep discounters keep customers coming back SNACKING TRENDS A look at the next big nibbles FRESH FOOD SAFETY Retailers leverage tech to ensure compliance

See how Agua Plus is eliminating bottle confusion on Page 10

May 2022

Volume 101, Number 5



Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart agree that the BIC® EZ Reach® lighter truly is the ideal lighter for all lighting occasions. EZ Reach is pocket-sized for convenience. Its 1.45-inch wand is designed for lighting hard-to-reach places while helping to keep fingers away from the flame. BIC EZ Reach, The Ultimate Lighter.


*Information Resources, INC. C-MULO 52 weeks as of 27-JUN-21

© 2022 BIC USA Inc., Shelton, CT 06484

Contents 05. 22

Volume 101 Issue 5



Grocery’s Greatest Stories Part 2

26 A New Era of Transformative Growth


12 ways grocers will drive innovation in 2022 and beyond.




Household Products

Trends in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging


Purpose, People and Power

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.


Black Hair Care


CBD Update


July 2022




Home Sweet Homesome

To Aloe Vera Drinks by GOYA®

Consumer demand for plant-based beverages continues to strengthen and GOYA®’s line of Aloe Vera Drinks is expanding*. Take advantage of this growth opportunity by offering your shoppers refreshing GOYA® Aloe Vera Drinks. Ideal to enjoy on their own or as an ingredient to create a variety of flavorful drinks!

Contact your GOYA® representative or email | *Nielsen Answers on Demand, Total U.S. (All Outlets Combined), dollar sales, 52 weeks ending 01/01/22 ©2022 Goya Foods, Inc.

Contents 05.22

Volume 101 Issue 5

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

Not Your Average Nugget Plant-based innovator Skinny Butcher leverages food and cultural trends with a Netflix deal.



MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 347-962-9395 SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Marian Zboraj 773-992-4405 SENIOR EDITOR Lynn Petrak 708-945-0415

Going to Extremes

MULTIMEDIA EDITOR Emily Crowe 502-550-5082

Progressive Grocer finds out what makes some of America’s favorite deep-discount grocery stores tick.



The Snack Track

Protein portions, permissible indulgence and a focus on flavor come out winners as noshing habits evolve.

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






Creating a Fresh Food Safety Culture Grocers are tasked with modernizing their approach to safety in the perimeter.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373 CLASSIFIED PRODUCTION MANAGER Mary Beth Medley 856-809-0050 EVENTS VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS Michael Cronin VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS & CONFERENCES Megan Judkins 773-837-7595 MARKETING BRAND MARKETING MANAGER Rebecca Welsby 773-992-4407 AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Marie Briganti 914-309-3378



Seafood Sustainability Is Here to Stay

A Better Ring

A trip to Seafood Expo North America revealed numerous initiatives. 72 FROZEN & REFRIGERATED FOODS

Nondairy Frozen Desserts Go Mainstream Innovative novelties, premium flavors and reformulations have propelled the category. 76 PLANT-BASED FOODS & BEVERAGES

The Primacy of Plant-Based Milk

The segment has become the growth engine of the milk category, according to recent research.


Self-checkout providers look to evolve their offerings as frictionless solutions like Amazon’s Just Walk Out tech gain ground.




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

Purpose, People and Power THESE ARE THE THREE STR ATEGIES THAT FOOD RE TAILERS WILL NEED TO THRIVE AF TER THE PANDEMIC. any of the food retail industry’s top leaders were thrilled to be in Florida twice this spring for the first time since COVID-19 shut things down in 2020. Senior execs at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, in Orlando, Fla., and the NACDS Annual Meeting, in Palm Beach, Fla., frolicked in the sun and traded handshakes and hugs by the pool. It was a chance to celebrate what went right during the pandemic. The demographics of the attendees varied, but the messages delivered to them were the same: This industry helped save lives and reopen the country during the biggest health crisis in generations. The results of those valiant efforts are reflected in Progressive Grocer’s 89th Annual Report and The PG 100 featured in this issue, a special edition during our 100th year of service to the industry. Post-COVID, the industry now has a huge opportunity to transform itself again by leveraging three key themes spotlighted during the pandemic, and in focus at the FMI and NACDS events: Purpose, People and Power. At FMI Midwinter, that group’s CEO, Leslie G. Sarasin, talked about how food retailers led with purpose during the crisis by responding to Food retailers are fast-changing consumer behaviors and moving with agility to macro conditions with innovation, resiliency, courage and customer care. That operate with purpose sense of purpose can move the industry by leveraging people through its next stage of transformato power growth, gain tion, Sarasin noted. In an exploration of “why grocery share, and deliver workers stay or go,” Meijer CEO Rick value for consumers. Keyes told FMI Midwinter attendees that taking better care of people must be a priority. While retailers have leveraged higher wages and expanded benefits as a way to resolve recruitment and retention challenges, too many people are still leaving the food retail industry. Keyes said that upskilling employees to prepare them for the grocery jobs of the future is one way to stay ahead of workforce challenges. At the NACDS Annual Meeting, Kroger Health President Colleen Lindholz said that the industry has power “when we move in a unified direction at a pace that matters for a cause much greater than ourselves.” Lindholz

stressed that health care will play an increasingly big role in grocery, and that the future of retail health is value-based, not volume-based; personalized, not generalized; interprofessional, not siloed; and patient-driven, not prescription-driven. Of course, senior executives at both events said that they had other challenges keeping them up at night: the impact of geopolitical strife and COVID-19 on the supply chain, mitigating labor shortages with automation, inflation and its effect on basket size, the ROI of micro fulfillment, and the stickiness of curbside pickup. This operating environment no doubt will continue to change fast and become increasingly complex and expensive. After listening to grocery leaders at both events, however, I’m confident that the industry is well equipped to thrive in any environment with a strategy led by Purpose, People and Power. Food retailers are moving with agility to operate with purpose by leveraging people to power growth, gain share, and deliver value for consumers. The transition from crisis mode to recovery mode is a watershed moment for the grocery industry — a unique opportunity for a different kind of transformation. The changes that are made now will affect the way grocers operate for the next 100 years. And Progressive Grocer will join them on that journey, every step of the way. Gina Acosta Editor-In-Chief

CORRECTION: In the April 2022 article “Sustainability Matters,” Progressive Grocer ran images of a produce section and a living wall in the Mom’s Organic Markets and New Seasons Market/New Leaf Community Markets profiles, respectively, that were actually of Mollie Stone’s Markets. PG regrets the error.



Calendar S



National Blueberry Month National Baked Bean Month National Culinary Arts Month National Grilling Month



National Horseradish Month National Hot Dog Month National Ice Cream Month National Picnic Month







Canada Day. Let’s kick off the month by wishing our neighbors to the north a happy holiday.


International Plastic Bag Free Day. Remind customers to replace any reusable bags that may have been lost or damaged over the past year.


National Kitten Day. Make sure your pet care section has everything shoppers need to welcome a new furry friend.


National Lottery Day. Anyone can be a winner.


It’s not only Independence Day, but also Independence From Meat Day.


National Blueberry Muffin Day. Lure customers to the bakery for a freshly made box of these.


National Caviar Day


National Apple Turnover Day National Graham Cracker Day

National Hand Roll Day. Spotlight your in-store sushi operations on this occasion.



Cow Appreciation Day. Thanks for all of the milk and other dairy products!


National Daiquiri Day

National Sour Candy Day


National Cousins Day National Parents Day


National Hire a Veteran Day. Shine the spotlight on your employees who have proudly served in the armed forces.


National Mutt Day. Run an adoption drive to find shelter dogs their forever homes.



National Bagelfest Day. Have a tantalizing selection available in the bakery for anytime noshing.

National FatherDaughter Take a Walk Day. May we suggest a stroll to the nearest supermarket?

National Chocolate With Almonds Day National Freezer Pop Day

Made in the USA Day. Showcase those products manufactured in this country.

Kebab Day, or is it “kabob”? Regardless, your prepared food and meat sections should highlight variations of this meat (or other protein) on a stick.




National French Fry Day

National Mac & Cheese Day. This American staple is particularly delectable when paired with lobster chunks.








National Beans ‘N’ Franks Day

National Lollipop Day National Hot Dog Day





National New Jersey Day. Don’t fuhgeddaboudit: The Garden State abounds in quality food and beverage products.

Legal Drinking Age Day. This is a good time to review your policies regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages.

National Refreshment Day. Help shoppers beat the heat by discounting some favorite seasonal quaffs, like lemonade mixes.

National Gummi Worm Day. Prepare a display positively wriggling with these sweet temptations.

National Mango Day. Eaten as is or as part of an indulgent recipe, this syrupy tropical fruit is perfect summer fare.

National Lasagna Day National Chicken Wing Day

National Cherry Day. Offer up an array of recipes starring several varieties of this beloved stone fruit.

Hot Enough for Ya Day. Given our location in the Western Hemisphere and the time of year, it probably will be.

National Father-in-Law Day. Cheer those who shop with their spouse’s pop.





Shelf Stoppers

Household Products

Basket Facts

Total Department Performance Household Products

Latest 52 Wks W/E 04/02/22

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 04/03/21

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 04/04/20




Top Household Product Categories by Dollar Sales Bath Tissue

Laundry Detergent

Paper Towels

Disposable Dishware

Trash Bags


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





on all household items, up 6.4% compared with a year ago



Latest 52 Wks W/E 04/02/22

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 04/03/21

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 04/04/20

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 April 2, 2022


on aluminum foil, up 6.9% compared with a year ago

Cross-Merch Candidates Sauce and Seasoning Mixes

Oils and Butter/Margarine Spreads and Substitutes


Food Storage Supplies

Packaged Coffee

Coating Mixes and Crumbs


on dish soap, up 9.5% compared with a year ago Fully Cooked Meat



Generational Snapshot Which cohort is spending, on average, the most per trip on laundry detergent?


Gen Xers


The Greatest Generation





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



on multipurpose cleaners, up 0.7% compared with a year ago

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

THE SHOW FOR DAIRY, DELI, BAKERY IDDBA 2022 is where the future of the industry begins.

NETWORK WITH MORE THAN 10,000 Serious retailers, buyers, merchandisers and manufacturing executives who share a passion for food and the industry.

THE ALL-NEW VISIONARY PAVILION First-time exhibitors showcasing innovative new products!

WHAT’S IN STORE LIVE The latest What’s in Store trends come to life. See, smell, and taste the newest approaches for engaging customers!

NEW PRODUCT SHOWCASE A glimpse into innovation and trends through cutting-edge products, packaging, and services.

Stay in the know with myIDDBA Receive late-breaking IDDBA 2022 news, connect with other members, keep notes and more.


Global New Products Database

Black Hair Care Market Overview

Black consumers continue to be disproportionately economically affected by COVID-19. While the pandemic has driven some trading-down behaviors, Black consumers have remained engaged in the space by taking a DIY approach to routines and prioritizing hair health. 18% of Black consumers said that they used their hair care routine as a way to relax more often in 2021, compared with 2020. Nearly half of Black consumers agree that the ingredients used in hair products are more important than brand name, compared with just under two in five of the general population By 2026, Black adults are expected to make up 13.7% of the U.S. population. Mintel estimates that Black consumers’ share of shampoo and home hair color is equal to their share of the population, while their share of sales is slightly higher in hair conditioner and styling segments.

Key Issues

Brands and retailers have the opportunity to provide solutions that boost not only hair health, but also mental health, by using uplifting fragrances and sensorial elements.

of Black adults who purchase hair care products look for offerings that use ingredients commonly found in skin care, such as vitamin C.


There are also opportunities to grow the Black hair care market and reach more multicultural consumers by expanding options for Black adults with both thin and coily hair textures. Nine percent of Black adults describe their hair texture as type 4, suggesting a coily hair texture. While coily hair is often thought to be thicker, adults with coily/curly textures can still have thin hair. Since most products geared toward coily hair textures tend to be very moisturizing, adults with thin/coily hair may feel like their hair is being weighed down. There are opportunities to grow the Black hair care market and reach more multicultural consumers by expanding options for Black adults with both thin and coily hair textures. As mainstream and Black-targeted brands increase competition for Black consumers’ share of wallet, Black women will have more choices across value and premium price points, as well as who they trust will deliver on their hair care needs and expectations.


What Consumers Want, and Why Black consumers yearn simply to wear their hair in a style that aligns with their lifestyle needs, not necessarily to make a political statement or a proclamation of their beliefs. Some consumers are moving away from natural styles due to the time-consuming care that they require. There are opportunities to keep consumers engaged and invested in at-home hair care routines by enhancing the overall experience. Mintel data reveals that 20% of Black adults who have hair express interest in customizable hair care formulas. There are opportunities to address Black consumer-specific needs and allow for special touches such as the ability to “cocktail” different formulas, and customize scent and ingredients.




fifififi ™




LIFE UNSTAINED™ © 2021 Delta Carbona, L.P.



0 S

Y 40,000



By Angelina Bice

Trends in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging NE X TUP’S K AREN JONES DISCUSSES THE IMPORTANCE OF ADVANCING THESE VALUES IN THE WORKPL ACE. aren Jones, VP of learning and partner solutions, came to NextUp with 25 years of experience and endless testimonials to her insight and grace. She was a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) expert before “diversity” was a buzzword, and before many companies cared what the world thought about how many women and people of color sat on their boards. Jones now leads NextUp’s learning and development team, and personally conducts dozens of DEI&B workshops every year with companies all over the country and beyond. In this wide-ranging interview, Jones discusses what she’s heard in searingly honest conversations inside some of the largest corporations in the world, the work we all still must do to reach equity, and what’s on the horizon in the DEI&B conversation. This article is excerpted from the full interview, which can be read at Angelina Bice: What’s in the air right now in DEI&B? What’s bubbling up in the DEI&B education community and the wider conversation about women going back to work?


Karen Jones: It’s how we re-engage women, or what the engagement of women in the workforce is going to look like moving forward. And I have to say, the reality is that we’re never going to fully go back to the way we were before COVID-19 hit. It caused people to self-reflect about what would be meaningful to them when it comes to work. It caused people to become intolerant to mistreatment. We must ensure that we do not try to bring people back to the traditional forms of work, which clearly weren’t serving women. And for women of color, on top of the intolerance for the style of work, there is intolerance to going back to how we were treated prior to the pandemic. The workplaces that are going to become more appealing are those that do create a sense of belonging and are values-based. As we talk about our approach and what we can do for our partner companies, we can help you through leadership development, as well as through understanding more about inclusion and getting those values in place. Building a principle-centered workplace creates high engagement. AB: Absolutely. Anything else that just jumps to mind that’s a growing trend? KJ: I can tell you, the biggest thing from talking to other DEI&B and our practitioners is what I see as a healthy restlessness and a healthy impatience. ... The glacial pace of change must accelerate. ... We’re hearing from employees that it’s time to make equity happen, or that employees have options outside of the corporate sector. They’re more willing than ever to just go start their own company or do something else if they can’t be fulfilled inside their organization.

My prediction is that those organizations who don’t evolve over time to meet their employees’ needs and deliver equity will see themselves with less and less employee engagement — and failure, honestly. AB: On the heels of the many employee walkouts that have happened over the last couple of years, as well as the “Great Resignation,” it seems that people are really losing patience with corporate culture and are less tolerant than ever for behavior they feel violates their values. Do you think there’s a likelihood that that’s going to get more intense? KJ: I think it’s highly probable, and I believe we’ll see it crescendo over the course of the next five years. For those people who have been working from home for the last two years and are being summoned back to their workplace for five days in a row, they’re counting all their chips and trying to figure out their next move. The old way of just working all the time, living to work – that’s over. Who wants to keel over dead in front of their desk? It’s driving innovation to have people work off-site, to crowdsource, and I’m old [laughs], but I can’t wait to work for

“The workplaces that are going to become more appealing are those that do create a sense of belonging and are values-based.” —Karen Jones, NextUp

Millennials and Gen Z. I feel like you all are leading the way to where we should be. It’s creating more opportunity for us and new ideas, and it’s creating a brighter future for everyone.

Angelina Bice is copywriter and content strategist at NextUp, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to Advancing All Women. NextUp has more than 15,000 members, 21 regions, and 300-plus national corporate partners and regional sponsors committed to transforming workplaces for gender equity.




CBD Update RE TAILERS CAN CAPITALIZE ON CONSUMERS’ DESIRE FOR WELLNESS WHEN IT COMES TO THESE OF TEN MISUNDERSTOOD PRODUCTS. ublished sales projections point to a $ 26.4 billion CBD market by 2025, up from $4.6 billion in 2020. Generally, consumers report high satisfaction and positive impressions of nonintoxicating hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). Despite strong consumer demand and perceived efficacy, the CBD market has sustained its share of disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerns and uncertainty in the broader economy, including looming fears of recession, heightened gas prices and rising interest rates, may hamper CBD sales growth and consumers’ willingness to spend in the short term. Retailers, however, can capitalize on shopper reorientation toward wellness and CBD’s positive role in personal well-being.

Why Do Consumers Use CBD?

According to a study by cannabis industry data, analytics and technology firm New Frontier Data that was published in May 2021, the primary reasons cited for CBD use among consumers can be divided into four categories: pain management (41%); unwinding (33%), including anxiety reduction, relaxation and stress relief; general wellness (18%), including improved sleep quality, mood enhancement and feeling more energized; and medical (9%), to treat a medical condition, aid gastrointestinal distress, manage negative effects of other medications or reduce spending on other medications. Overall, the medical consumer segment spends more compared with the other types of users and is far more likely to consist of habitual daily users who develop brand loyalty to products that effectively meet their needs.

What Drives CBD Trial?

Social influence and peer reinforcement are prime drivers of CBD trial. In fact, a majority (66%) of consistent CBD consumers have friends or family who also consume CBD. One noteworthy observation is that users who receive CBD recommendations themselves are more likely to recommend CBD to others. This type of influence can be powerful, as 84% of users report having CBD recommended to them by someone they know. In addition, anecdotal discussions with friends and family help to introduce various forms and brands of CBD. Retailers that provide a forum for CBD consumers to ask questions and share testimonials may reap the benefits of social influence in the form of increased sales.

Educate and Curate The differences between the various forms of CBD, including full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, whole-


Retailers that provide a forum for CBD consumers to ask questions and share testimonials may reap the benefits of social influence in the form of increased sales. plant or isolate, are significant in terms of composition and the manner in which the body responds. Delivery methods vary as well, from popular oils, tinctures and topicals, to pills, capsules, edibles and beverages. Consumers want help understanding the differences to be able to make informed purchasing decisions. Because more than half of existing CBD consumers have yet to identify a preferred brand of CBD, the door is wide open for grocery retailers to educate about and curate high-quality, trusted CBD products with the highest standards of purity and dose consistency to capture shopper loyalty and share of wallet.

Edibles, Pet and Synthetics

As the CBD market matures and consumer confidence and acceptance regarding CBD broaden, innovation is expected, particularly in the edibles market, which includes candy, gummies, beverages and more. The evolving pet CBD market, aimed at inducing calm, soothing anxiety and helping to manage pain, is another area poised for growth. Research supporting safe dosing and efficacy among pets of various breeds and weights is needed, as well as the acceptance and support of the veterinary community. Meanwhile, among current CBD users, eight out of 10 voice concerns about the quality and accuracy of dosing of plant-derived CBD. Synthetic forms of CBD, currently in development, may provide much-needed consistency and help to pave the way for new avenues of delivery.

Karen Buch, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who specializes in retail dietetics, and food and culinary nutrition communications. One of the first supermarket dietitians, she is now founder of and principal consultant at Nutrition Connections LLC, providing consulting services nationwide. You can connect with her on Twitter @karenbuch and at


News Events



EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a continuation of the April 2022 issue feature, which highlighted key grocery industry news stories from 1916 to 1982.

1986 & 1988

BIG CHAINS BECOME TARGET OF LEVERAGED BUYOUTS In the late 1980s, Safeway found itself in danger of closing, as it was carrying billions of dollars in debt. A relatively new New York investment firm called Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. moved to acquire the chain using leveraged capital. While the process helped Safeway accelerate its restructuring process and


become profitable again, some observers criticized the move, in part because of the large number of workers who lost their jobs after the buyout. Still, after the leveraged buyout, a number of additional private-equity firms followed suit and pursued grocery chains. Kohlberg Kravis acquired Stop & Shop Cos. in 1988, and then made a $5.03 billion bid for Kroger, which was America’s second-largest grocery operator at the time. After Kroger rejected the bid, some feared that Kohlberg Kravis

would attempt a hostile takeover. Pursuing its own path, however, Kroger moved ahead with a $4.6 billion corporate restructuring plan. Leveraged buyouts declined in popularity after the 2008 financial crisis, but several regional grocery chains that have filed for bankruptcy in more recent years were owned by private-equity firms, including Fairway and Southeastern Grocers. Meanwhile, some modern-day financial analysts speculate that leveraged buyouts are just starting to gain in popularity once again.

2007 1987

CULLUM COS. AND WALMART JOIN TO OPEN HYPERMARKET Hypermart USA was the United States’ answer to the successful hypermarket concept that had become so popular in European markets. In a joint venture, Walmart Stores and Cullum Co. opened five acres’ worth of a supermarket/discount store in Dallas in 1987. Known as a “mall without walls,” the 220,000-square-foot store featured 70,000 products. At the time of its opening, the store was drawing more than 60,000 shoppers a week who wanted to experience the com-

bination of a supermarket, discount store, pharmacy, auto service center and mini-mall under one roof. After Hypermart USA’s initial success, European companies started bringing their hypermarkets to the United States, starting with French retailer Carrefour, which opened a hypermarket in Philadelphia in 1998, and then French retailer Auchan, which opened a sprawling 250,000-square-foot store in Houston later that year. While the concept proved a little too large to become profitable for Walmart and other companies, the idea of mixing grocery and general merchandise on such a large scale lived on in the Walmart Supercenter (Walmart’s first Supercenter opened later in 1988, in Washington, Mo.).


COSTCO MERGES WITH PRICE CO. TO FORM LARGEST WAREHOUSE CLUB In a deal that created the nation’s largest warehouse club, Price Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp. merged in a stock swap valued at more than $2 billion. Price Club was the original warehouse membership club, launched in 1976 by Sol and Robert E. Price, while Costco, which was founded in 1983 by Jim Sinegal and largely based on the



While it has been reported that The Kroger Co. became the first supermarket to take online grocery orders for home delivery in 1995, several tech companies came onto the scene toward the end of the decade to capitalize on high-spending customers looking for more convenience. Webvan, founded in 1996, launched its operations in California and then pursued aggressive expansion plans, with

Price Club model, took the concept a step further in the grocery arena by offering fresh meat and seafood, as well as a large produce department. Walmart entered the warehouse club business in 1983 with Sam’s Club, and another player, BJ’s Warehouse Club, first opened its doors in 1984. Even though some analysts have questioned the potential longevity of membership clubs, especially in modern times since Amazon has disrupted retailing, the concept remains alive and well today, with Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s all operating successfully.

a goal to operate in 26 major cities around the United States. Another tech player that followed suit was, which got its start in Washington state in 1997. One of the biggest challenges for these well-meaning startups was the lack of infrastructure — including warehouses — to support their grocery business. But their ideas led to the start of an e-commerce grocery business that has been gaining significant ground in recent years, especially as seasoned grocery operators combine their business savvy with new logistics methods.

TESCO VENTURES ACROSS THE POND WITH ‘FRESH & EASY’ CONCEPT Toward the end of 2007, all industry eyes were on Southern California as leading U.K. retailer Tesco launched a new made-for-America grocery concept focused on convenience and fresh and prepared foods. The new format, dubbed Fresh & Easy and taking up about 10,000 square feet of selling space, premiered with six stores in Los Angeles and Orange County. “The new retail concept drew large crowds of customers and competitors alike on opening day, cramming into tight parking lots that had to be manned by traffic controllers,” noted Progressive Grocer at the time. “All were curious to see if Fresh & Easy would be true to its name and to Tesco’s promise of bringing fresh, easy and affordable meal choices to shoppers in a streamlined ‘neighborhood market’ format.”

One of the most fascinating angles of this story was that Tesco had spent many years gathering U.S. consumer input to uniquely tailor its stores to the American market. Some analysts predicted it would “revolutionize” American retailing. While Tesco certainly had great plans for the concept and went on to open more than 200 stores in Arizona, California and Nevada by the end of 2012, the retailer confirmed in April 2013 that it was pulling out of the U.S. market, after years of struggling to turn a profit. Some of the factors that contributed to this included the company’s failure to merchandise stores for local markets, missteps in packaging, a continuous issue with out-of-stocks, overpriced private label items, and a hefty investment in a large distribution center that didn’t pay off for the company. In addition, Tesco put itself up against some major competitors, including Walmart, Target and Trader Joe’s. In 2013, Tesco revealed that it was transferring ownership and operations of more than 150 stores to supermarket owner Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. group. Then in October of that year, Fresh & Easy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Two years later, in 2015, Fresh & Easy filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time.




News Events 2008


The year 2008 saw two mammoth mergers in the CPG industry, beginning with Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev’s $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch in July. After resisting offers for a

month, the Anheuser-Busch board finally agreed to accept the more attractive bid. The company had enjoyed its status as a premier American brewer for 150 years, and the new deal created not only the world’s largest beer company, but also one of the top five CPG firms in the world. In further consolidation moves, in 2012 Anheuser-Busch InBev purchased GrupoModelo, and then in 2016 the beer company acquired its rival SABMiller. In another large deal in 2008, Mars Inc., the maker of M&Ms, purchased


AMAZON ACQUIRES WHOLE FOODS To some observers, it sounded like a marriage out of left field, but when Amazon revealed its plans to acquire leading natural food retailer Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, others saw the synergies right away. In Amazon’s words, the union was designed to help “pursue the vision of making Whole Foods Market’s high-quality, natural and organic food affordable for everyone.” But others saw the undeniable advantage of Amazon gaining more insights into the grocery industry,

inheriting physical real estate and turning its Amazon Prime members into an even more loyal customer base. In an article published in PG in 2021, Rob Twyman, EVP/operations at Whole Foods, said he felt that the retailer has so far maintained its separate identity while still finding ways to learn from and grow with Amazon. “They’ve


GLOBAL PANDEMIC TURNS SUPERMARKET WORKERS INTO FIRST RESPONDERS; HOME COOKING IS HOT AGAIN In March 2020, few people likely recognized the humongous changes the country was about to go through when the COVID-19 virus was officially declared a global pandemic. In those early days,


grocery store workers suddenly found themselves being categorized as frontline workers, since supermarkets were one of the few businesses to stay open — and everyone obsessed about running out of food and toilet paper!

chewing gum manufacturer William Wrigley Jr. Co. for about $23 billion. Famous financier Warren Buffett was a supporter of both transactions, which were emblematic of the CPG consolidation to come, in the face of mounting production costs, global logistics challenges, and changes in consumer tastes and preferences.

helped us understand through data the different aspects of our business, and we continue to bring a philosophy around food in particular that I think is important as they continue to get into the food business,” he said. Of course, Whole Foods has also upped its e-commerce game since becoming a part of Amazon and is now testing delivery-only dark stores and delivery fees for Prime delivery members. And with the stated intention of making natural and organic foods more affordable, the retailer has launched numerous Prime promotions and discounts, as well as price cuts across all departments. Amazon, meanwhile, is trying its hand at retailing with its Amazon Fresh grocery banner.

The impact that the pandemic had on speeding up grocers’ online operations and logistics regarding pickup and home delivery is only beginning to be fully realized, while long-lasting impacts on the retail supply chain and price inflation are being felt in a big way by shoppers today. PG’s recent “What’s Next for the Way America Eats” research revealed that during the days of lockdown, many Americans enjoyed cooking again and said they plan to continue making their own meals. COVID-19 also spurred record rates of sales growth among retailers, to a degree that may not ever be experienced again.


12 ways grocers will drive innovation in 2022 and beyond. By PG Staff

About the Data Progressive Grocer relies on public and private sources, independent research, and proven forecasting techniques to develop the Annual Report and The PG 100. The result is an analysis and annual ranking intended to serve as the definitive guide to the 100 largest retailers of food and consumables in North America, including companies based in Canada and Mexico that may have operations in the United States, and U.S. companies that operate north and south of U.S. borders.


What do gig labor, plant-based crab cakes and nonfungible tokens have in common? They’re all part of the big bet that grocery retailers are making now on the future of the industry. Two years after one of the most challenging events in world history, Progressive Grocer’s 89th Annual Report and The PG 100 ranking of the top food retailers in North America show that the nearly $3 trillion grocery industry is in the throes of a different kind of transformation this year, one that involves not just new technology or consumer habits, but also the evolution of an industry’s identity. That’s because the pandemic has changed the American identity: how consumers work, shop and eat. Over the past year, grocers have had to confront a deadly virus, supply chain disruptions, a difficult labor environment and rising costs as the pandemic ebbed and flowed through the lives of the American grocery shopper and worker. Longterm shifts toward online shopping and remote work will have far-reaching societal implications, and the consequences will continue to be felt at the grocery store. In 2021, the combined sales of the companies on The PG 100 increased 11% to $2,275 trillion, compared with $2,112 trillion in 2020. Many of these companies were challenged by continued COVID-related tumult, while others benefited from consumers flocking back to foodservice counters and those retailers offering discounts on skyrocketing fuel prices. The past year also saw lots of activity in the mergers-and-acquisitions space, and this is reflected in The PG 100 as well. Raley’s Supermarkets acquired Bashas’ Family of Stores, creating a new western superchain worthy of being included in Progressive Grocer’s Top Regionals report in 2022. Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets LLC also merged, while Bodega Latina Corp., a subsidiary of Grupo Comercial Chedraui, bought Smart & Final Holdings Inc. from Apollo Global Management. C&S Wholesale Grocers purchased Piggly Wiggly Midwest, as well as 12 Tops Markets stores that it re-bannered as Grand Union (remember that chain?). As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Perhaps this year we’ll see more blockbuster M&A taking a page from the past, or maybe retailers will all just end up selling groceries in the metaverse — or is it the grocery-verse? In the meantime, what should grocers in real life be doing to drive growth amid constant change? Be smart about keeping employees healthy and happy. Be prepared to act fast on technology and food trends. Personalize everything, from curbside pickup coupons to store checkout belts to marketing texts so that the customer can’t help but be loyal. And prepare for more supply chain disruptions and higher costs. If the grocery retailers listed in The PG 100 want to emerge in the same or a better position five or 10 years from now, they will focus on reimagining strategies for the 12 themes driving innovation and grocery growth now: employee experience, physical store design, alternative food trends, foodservice innovation, last-mile speed, purposeful retailing, store-brand premiumization, hyper-localization, checkout-less transactions, retail media, inflation-busting operations and virtual reality. These are the topics poised to have big impacts on grocers’ operations this year and beyond.




Success in the grocery industry is a two-way street — or at least a two-way aisle. As retailers focus on customers, they’re increasingly looking inward to ensure worker-friendly operations. The pandemic era reinforced the importance of essential workers in the grocery industry, and the first two years of the decade have also wrought hiring shortages and the coining of the term “The Great Resignation.” Cascading circumstances are spurring grocery industry leaders to provide their employees with more support across the board. In today’s competitive environment, grocers are looking to attract and retain workers — and avoid costly labor disputes — by offering more benefits spanning wages, flexible schedules, tuition reimbursement, child care options, and more. In addition to formal benefits, grocers as employers are quickly learning that they need to support their workers by creating a culture of inclusivity, mental and physical wellness, and open, shared communications. Creativity counts: Gig workers in the e-commerce space are responding to inventive app-based scheduling options, while forward-looking grocers are providing new opportunities for employees as automation and technology free up more rote tasks.


The brick-and-mortar store has gained renewed importance in recent years as a means of differentiation and innovation. Not only do technology-enabled bells and whistles make the shopping experience more seamless and exciting for customers, but they also allow retailers to keep track of inventory, gather important data and further perfect their trade. Artificial intelligence-based robots are rolling out in more banners across the country, providing everything from greetings to shelf management and floor scrubbing. Walmart’s updated store design focuses on a digitally enabled shopping experience, complete with digital directories; Amazon is rapidly expanding its Just Walk Out technology; and myriad other retailers are employing digital shelf tags, cooler doors with digital screens, and so much more. As we move forward, a tech-enabled shopping experience that makes life easier for both shoppers and retailers has practically become the norm. Expanded payment options and new cashierless checkout formats will proliferate, along with other tech-driven solutions to keep customers engaged and make grocery shopping even more convenient. Following the lead of independent grocers like Choice Market and its multiple checkout options, or Nourish + Bloom and its highly advanced delivery bots, the sky’s the limit for how retailers can reinvent the in-store experience.

People ultimately drive business success, whether it’s the people who shop stores or the people who keep the operation going on a daily basis. Grocery employees have shown remarkable resilience throughout and beyond the pandemic, with retailers able to keep their doors open and, for the most part and whenever possible, their shelves stocked. In return, grocers can continue to prioritize the health, safety and productivity of their diverse workforce through wages, benefits, and a shared, sincere mindset of collaboration. This will only become more crucial as younger workers demonstrate their preferences for a viable work-life balance, and seek out jobs that are meaningful to them and support their physical and mental well-being.

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As options grow across categories and flexitarianism becomes commonplace, grocers are increasingly treating the plant-based segment as just another lifestyle choice by merchandising such products with their animal protein counterparts. The success of this strategy is undeniable: Back in 2020, a study carried out by the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and The Kroger Co. found that plant-based meat sales increased by 23% when those items were sold in the meat department. Now such placement is expected by plant-based food consumers, who don’t want to go in search of a segregated section to pick up their pea protein burgers or oat milk yogurt.

During the pandemic, dining spaces, including those in grocers’ stores, abruptly shut down, obliging retailers to demonstrate their takeout, pickup and delivery prowess when it came to convenient prepared foods. Now, as COVID restrictions ease and consumers return to dining in public places, how can grocers make sure that shoppers stay with them rather than defect to reopened restaurants? As Erin McCullough-Crume, director of deli and emerging business at Tampa, Fla.-based Bay Food Brokerage, notes in an online Progressive Grocer column, retention of these customers boils down to offering them compelling choices. That 30

Since the time of the PBFA/Kroger study, plant-based food sales have continued to surge, reaching an all-time high of $7.4 billion in 2021, despite unsettled economic conditions exacerbated by the pandemic, supply chain issues and inflation, according to recent data from PBFA, The Good Food Institute (GFI) and SPINS. (Read more

about this data in relation to plantbased milk on page 76.) Meanwhile, an April 2022 report from sales and marketing firm Acosta notes that consumers, concerned with staying healthy amid the pandemic, are increasingly replacing beef, pork and traditional milk products with plant-based alternatives. In fact, 40% of consumers surveyed by Acosta had purchased plant-based meat and/ or dairy products within the past six months, with more than half of those surveyed (60%) purchasing such products several times a month. In the realm of innovation, there’s no doubt that plant-based food products are improving in flavor and texture by leaps and bounds, driven by a record period of investment in companies creating sustainable alternatives to conventional animal-based foods, according to a GFI report, which finds that 73% of the nearly $11.1 billion in capital invested in this area since 2010 has been raised since 2020.

means paying close attention to consumers’ evolving demands and preferences in prepared foods. McCullough-Crume cites transparent packaging, fare that looks like it was prepared in-store, diverse offerings from a range of cuisines, bundled products for meal deals, size variety and delivery/pickup options, with heavy promotion of fresh prepared meals and meal bundles on websites and apps, as key ways to keep customers buying supermar-

ket prepared foods. Further, in a February article for PG, Kathleen Hayden discusses the importance of a full array of meal solutions to meet varying shopper needs, including, as at Albertsons, ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat and ready-to-cook options. Meanwhile, innovations such as ghost kitchens — facilities set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals — are enabling concepts like the off-premise kitchen center opened earlier this year by Kroger’s Ralphs banner and Pasadena, Calif.-based restaurant tech company Kitchen United to bring fresh restaurant-quality meals directly to the Los Angeles-area supermarket chain’s shoppers. Kroger has also worked with Indianapolis-based ClusterTruck to launch on-premise ghost kitchens powered by a proprietary software system that uses custom algorithms to optimize kitchen and delivery operations.



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Just because something can be delivered in 10 minutes, does that mean it should be? Obviously, the ever-narrowing delivery windows touted by such burgeoning quick-commerce platforms as FastAF, Gopuff and Gorillas aren’t achievable outside of densely populated urban areas with ample spaces for micro-fulfillment centers, so grocers that can offer only same-day or even half-hour delivery must manage customer expectations when it comes to bringing orders to homes. That said, in a world where online grocery sales are expected to keep rising, the technology enabling e-commerce delivery is making the process simpler — and, yes, faster — than ever for retailers and shoppers. Companies like Rosie, Mercato, Farmstead and Homesome (see the Ahead of What’s Next column on page 86) continue to make online grocery operations acces-

“Doing what’s right for the environment.” That’s what Jason Wadsworth, category merchant for packaging, energy and sustainability at Wegmans Food Markets, said when the company revealed on April 14 that it would eliminate plastic bags at all stores by the end of 2022. But food retailers today are focused not just on doing what’s right for the planet, but also on doing what’s right for society as a whole. From sustainable store design to hyperlocalization of assortments to climate-friendly supply chains, indoor farming, ethical retailing, greener packaging, upcycled foods, and measurable progress when it comes to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, food retailers are creating positive changes by 32

sible and viable for smaller independent grocers, with software that allows them to be up and running as omnichannel retailers in a matter of weeks. Among larger operators, Walmart and The Kroger Co. are busily building out their respective distribution/ fulfillment infrastructures, guaranteeing faster delivery times due to the

actively nurturing healthier communities, fashioning more equitable workplaces and fighting against environmental damage. For example, Ahold Delhaize USA has joined an advanced recycling initiative billed as the first of its kind in the United States. The project recycles flexible

of consumers believe that companies are responsible for protecting the planet and its people. Source: Wunderman Thomson Intelligence

sheer number of facilities cropping up across the nation. Kroger is adding to its Ocado-powered hub-and-spoke delivery network in geographies where it doesn’t even have brick-and-mortar stores, including Texas and Alabama, while Walmart is opening massive new fulfillment centers in Pennsylvania and Mississippi to support the tech platform that powers its last-mile delivery ecosystem through automation and machine learning. Beyond delivery time, e-grocer Thrive Market has received recognition for its highly intuitive app driven by past purchases and preferences, as well as an email approach in which the brand delivers a personalized experience by onboarding data and continues to integrate even more advanced personalization elements over time. While these particular attributes may not make groceries arrive any faster, they certainly enhance the overall e-grocery experience, and drive shoppers to use the service again.

plastics from the food supply chain and remakes them into certified-circular food-grade packaging. The initiative is expected to launch this summer and scale over time. Meanwhile, Walmart is asking packaging companies with innovative solutions to submit them online via a new portal. The retailer is aiming to find and implement sustainable packaging solutions across its operations more quickly. None of this is any wonder. A recent survey from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence has found that an increasing number of consumers believe that retailers and brands should take the lead when it comes to sustainability. In fact, 87% of consumers believe that companies are responsible for protecting the planet and its people. So far this year, grocery retailers have much progress to celebrate when it comes to purposeful retailing.

FLEET ADVERTISING UP TO 16 MILLION VISUAL IMPRESSIONS PER YEAR The value in vehicle branding is clear. The vast majority of high value transportation fleets utilize this medium for maximum benefit. Take a drive on any road in North America or even globally and you will see cars, vans, trucks, trailers – virtually everything that is mobile – with some level of corporate vehicle branding. These statements are more fully supported when you consider the following statistics: USA Traffic Bureau Authority: 90%+ people notice vehicle decals 75%+ develop an impression based on what they see 29%+ make a purchase decision based on that impression RYP & Becker Group: 97% survey respondents recalled add on truck 98% thought the ad created a positive image of the advertiser 96% thought fleet graphics had more impact than billboards Further, vehicle graphics are the most cost effective of various media options: COST PER THOUSAND VIEWS (CPM)











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Sure, the team at Progressive Grocer is feeling nostalgic as we mark our 100th year. But as we look back at the past, we can’t help but be struck by common threads that have sustained this industry over time, including perennially successful practices and a few full-circle trends. Things like strong customer service, a robust and relevant product assortment, and store shopability and cleanliness never go out of style. Interestingly, some aspects of the grocery business that

On an upward trajectory for some time now, store-brand products are the preferred choice of consumers looking for more affordable options amid record inflation. These products made impressive gains in the first quarter of 2022, with market research firm IRI finding that store brands outpaced national brands in dollar sales by a margin of 1.3%. Retailers are heeding the move toward private label purchases with brand extensions that run the gamut from pantry basics and decadent snacks to reformulated cheeses and plant-based chicken nuggets. More premium options are popping up left and right, and several e-commerce and traditional retailers have rolled out 34

were more common a century or even 50 years ago are coming back, albeit in a different form. The focus on knowing one’s customer is one example. It might not be the proprietor who greets the same customers with a hearty hello and a recollection of their favorite products, but technologies like artificial intelligence let shoppers know that their preferences are being recognized and met. Similarly, while early stores stocked local items because they didn’t have the logistics to source items on a national basis, today’s retailers are back to touting products sourced within a nearby radius. Even as grocers carry items from all over the country and the world, they seek goods

from local farmers, livestock producers and food entrepreneurs, which resonate in a surprise-and-delight way, as well as from an environmental, social and governance standpoint. This emphasis on local and personalized — both in-person and online — harkens back to the more intimate relationships between grocers and their customers in days gone by, and will likely continue as retailers strive to differentiate their businesses in a competitive omnichannel environment. At the same time, expect grocery stores to continue — and in some cases reclaim — their role as community hubs, whether it’s at in-store cafés and classes, or through special events and outreach programs.

their first-ever private label lines. As a majority of grocers ramp up their private label offerings, and with inflation showing no immediate signs of slowing down, shoppers are more than likely to continue their quest for these lower-priced items. While price will remain a consideration, consumers

will also expect a solid premiumization of store-brand products, in common with national-brand offerings across the store. With studies finding that consumers increasingly expect retailers to take the lead on sustainability, private label packaging will also need to become more environmentally friendly.

The percentage that store brands outpaced national brands in the first quarter of 2022. Source: IRI


Payment was among the first avenues for customer-facing, tech-enabled innovation at food retail, and the pandemic brought with it a more pressing need for touchless checkout options. Beyond adding more self-checkout stations, grocers are increasingly introducing scan-and-go options and piloting artificial intelligence-powered technology, including Amazon’s rollout of its Just Walk Out technology in full-size supermarkets, and Wakefern Food Corp.’s partnership with Israel-based computer vision startup Trigo Vision. Digital payment options like Apple Pay, Venmo and PayPal are being more

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widely accepted, and even cryptocurrency is making inroads at retail. Most experts believe paying with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin will become more popular as consumers, especially younger generations, increasingly use this form of payment in their everyday lives. Some even agree that the use of cryptocurrency could overtake credit card payments within several years. Further, a wider rollout of computer vision cameras in stores could potentially give rise to technology that can recognize shoppers, scan items as customers select them and even tie back to credit systems.

Does anyone really believe that soon — very soon — many Americans will be conducting a major part of their lives in virtual reality? Walmart does, if several new trademarks filed in December are any indication. According to the retailer, it plans to make and sell virtual goods, including electronics, home decorations, toys, sporting goods and personal care products. In a separate filing, Walmart said that it would also offer users a virtual currency, as well as nonfungible tokens (NFTs). It’s not just Walmart. Food companies, including Campbell Soup Co. and Coca-Cola Co., are also getting

into the metaverse game. Last year, Campbell celebrated a new label design by diving into the digital art world and dropping its first-ever NFT; all proceeds went to Feeding America. Coca-Cola put four unique NFTs up for auction on the OpenSea online marketplace in late 2021. Proceeds from the auction went to Special Olympics International. Food retailers and brands taking the metaverse seriously understand that not every consumer will want to have dinner, buy groceries or learn about wine in the metaverse (or foodverse or web3 or NIRL/Not In Real Life). But they also understand that what the metaverse offers is another way for retailers to create connections and community among consumers. Retailers and brands ignoring this nascent opportunity to engage customers and promote themselves do so at their own peril.

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It’s not what shoppers or grocers want to hear, but it seems like high prices will be sticking around as geopolitical upheaval continues, and as other contributing factors, from supply chain bottlenecks to the still-tentative COVID-19 situation, linger. Many economists have projected inflation to continue into at least the short-term future. Analysts at Bank of America, for instance, expect inflation in the United States to hit 9% by the end of 2022 — even more than the recent 8.8% rate, the highest since 1981. High prices are the latest in a series of significant disruptions to drive innovations in the grocery space. Certainly, changes are accelerating to help manufacturers and retailers keep a lid on

costs, including technologies that allow for better demand forecasting and product pricing. Automation, extending from fulfillment and distribution to seamless omnichannel experiences, improves efficiencies and provides actionable real-time data. While grocers look to technologies to help them curb prices, they’re also focusing on providing value to their shoppers. Customers have shown a tendency to pay for things they deem valuable, something that retailers can keep in mind when managing categories and promotions. Conveying deals through a range of social media and

other channels helps build trust during inflationary times. Combining resource-saving technologies with tried-and-true tactics to provide value to customers via specials and promotions can help food retailers weather the inflation storm. Having several tools on hand should prove useful even when prices come back in line and the situation is less acute. Value and price are longstanding purchase drivers through many economic states, after all.

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The trend of grocers leveraging first-party data and launching retail media networks isn’t new; retail media revenue is expected to reach $50 billion by 2023 in the United States. What is new, however, is that retailers are reimagining the retail media business model to seize the opportunity in the depreciation of third-party cookies. Consumer privacy concerns regarding data collection have led to browsers such as Chrome removing third-party cookie functionality; Apple is also changing the IDFA (identifier for advertisers) in its App Store. These changes are contributing to a seismic shift in how companies acquire, retain and engage with digital shoppers, and grocery retailers are uniquely positioned to benefit from the changing dynamics of the digital media ecosystem.

In April, Digital Labs, the digital, e-commerce and commercial engine for the brands of Ahold Delhaize USA, expanded media partnerships and capabilities available to consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies through its AD Retail Media arm. The new capabilities enable CPGs to reach connected customers through both digital and in-store avenues. “This is the best time in the history of grocery for brands to invest in retail media,” said Bobby Watts, VP, AD Retail Media’s head of e-commerce merchandising. “At AD Retail Media, we’ve worked with our partners to deploy an enhanced set of retail media offerings that will enable deeper relationships with customers in ways that complement their shopping experience.” To capture the full retail media opportunity, grocers will need to ramp up their capabilities as e-commerce footprints continue to grow.






Fiscal Year End Sales (In Millions of Dollars U.S.)

Prior Year

Percent Change

Store Count

Top Executives


Walmart U.S.






Amazon (Online and physical stores)





Andrew R. Jassy, CEO


Costco (U.S.)





Craig Jelinek, President and CEO


The Kroger Co.





Rodney McMullen, Chairman and CEO


Walgreens Boots Alliance (U.S retail)





Rosalind Brewer, CEO







Brian Cornell, Chairman and CEO


CVS Health





Karen Lynch, President and CEO


Sam’s Club (U.S.)





Kathryn McLay, President and CEO


Albertsons Cos.





Vivek Sankaran, President and CEO

Ahold Delhaize USA





Kevin Holt, CEO


Loblaw Cos. Ltd.





Galen Weston, Executive Chairman


Publix Super Markets





Randall T. Jones Sr., CEO


7-Eleven Inc. (U.S. only)






Walmart de Mexico y Centroamerica






Dollar General












C&S Wholesale Grocers





Bob Palmer, CEO


Alimentation Couche-Tard (U.S., Circle K)





Brian Hannasch, President and CEO


Costco (Canada)





Pierre Riel, EVP/COO, Costco International

Meijer Inc.





Rick Keyes, President and CEO


Rite Aid





Heyward Donigan, President and CEO


Empire Company Ltd. (Sobeys)





Michael Medline, President and CEO


Walmart Canada





Horacio Barbeito, President and CEO


Aldi U.S.






Wakefern Food Corp.





Joe Colalillo, Chairman and CEO


BJ’s Wholesale Club





Bob Eddy, President and CEO


Trader Joe’s Co.





Dan Bane, Chairman and CEO


Metro (Canada)





Eric R. La Fleche, President and CEO


Dollar Tree (Including Family Dollar)





Michael Witynski, President and CEO


Hy-Vee Food Stores Inc.







Source: Company reports, Progressive Grocer research, industry and analyst estimates


John Furner, President and CEO

Joe DePinto, CEO Guilherme Loureiro, President and CEO Todd Vasos, Chairman and CEO Charles Butt, Chairman and CEO

Jason Hart, CEO

Randy Edeker, Chairman and CEO



Turning Empathy into Action for Domestic Abuse Survivors with Pets Purina’s Purple Leash® Project By Nina Leigh Krueger, President and CEO of Nestlé Purina PetCare For several years now, Purina’s purpose of enriching the lives of pets and the people who love them has been brought to life through our Purple Leash Project program, which is helping domestic violence shelters across the country become pet friendly. While we have always believed that pets and people are better together, it has never been truer than for victims of domestic abuse and their beloved pets. Not only does domestic abuse impact one-third of women and a quarter of men in this country, but for victims with pets, leaving is made even more difficult by the fact that only 15% of shelters allow pets. We believe that we can help change that. Perhaps like many of you, I hadn’t spent much time internalizing the issue of domestic violence before Purina started doing work in the space. And while I have been sheltered from the realities of abuse in many ways throughout my life, the more I’ve learned, the more I’ve realized that domestic abuse is far too often a story that isn’t told. That is all the more reason why lending our voices and brands to shine a light on this issue through the Purple Leash Project has been so inspiring to me, and I’ve been humbled by the willingness of our retail partners to support this work. Together, we are making a difference. What started nearly a decade ago as a phone call to see how Purina could help a single domestic violence shelter become pet friendly has evolved into a mission to change the narrative and the domestic violence survivor services landscape altogether at a

national scale. From getting handson at shelters to make pet-friendly improvements through associate volunteer days to lobbying for federal support for survivors with pets in Washington, D.C., Purina is committed to doing more than writing checks to make a difference. We’re putting in work to make real change.

But there is more work to do.

And because of your support, and the support of our brands, we’ve helped 30 domestic violence shelters become pet friendly and donated more than $1 million to the Purple Leash Project fund since creating the Purple Leash Project with our nonprofit partner, RedRover, in 2019.

To our partners who have embraced the Purple Leash Project, thank you. And to those who are considering it, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Purina sales rep to find out how you can support this initiative during key periods throughout the year with merch programs designed to drive attention and awareness of this issue and give your customers a way to get involved by donating and purchasing specially marked Purina products.

More survivors and pets are safe today because of this work. This program is saving lives. The Purple Leash Project is inspiring pet owners to get involved and join us on this mission. In fact, in addition to the funding Purina provides, consumers have donated more than $400,000 to the Purple Leash Project so far.

There are more doors to open for survivors of domestic violence with pets, so they can escape abuse and heal together. It is only through the support and advocacy of many that we will continue to lead this charge and protect the bond between survivors and their beloved pets.

Purina trademarks are owned by Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. Any other marks are property of their respective owners.




Fiscal Year End Sales (In Millions of Dollars U.S.)

Prior Year

Percent Change

Store Count

Top Executives


EG America (C-stores)











Chris Gheysens, President and CEO


QuikTrip Corp.





Chet Cadieux, CEO


Wegmans Food Markets Inc.





Colleen Wegman, President and CEO


Associated Wholesale Grocers






Giant Eagle Inc.

















Max McBrayer, CEO


Southeastern Grocers LLC





Anthony Hucker, President and CEO


Grupo Comercial Chedraui (U.S. and Mexico)





Jose Antonio Chedraui Eguia, CEO


SpartanNash Co.





Tony Sarsam, President and CEO


Costco (Mexico)





George Fournier, President

Dave Smith, President and CEO Laura Karet, CEO Darren Rebelez, CEO

Jaime Gonzalez, SVP/Country Mgr. Mexico

Source: Company reports, Progressive Grocer research, industry and analyst estimates

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4/20/22 4:19 PM



Fiscal Year End Sales (In Millions of Dollars U.S.)

Prior Year

Percent Change

Store Count

Top Executives







Ricardo Martin Bringas, CEO


Northeast Grocery Inc.





Frank Curci, Chairman and CEO


WinCo Foods Inc.





Grant Haag, CEO


ARKO Corp.






Sheetz Inc.





Joseph Sheetz, CEO


Raley’s Supermarkets





Keith Knopf, President and CEO


United Natural Foods Inc. (Independent sales only)





Steven Spinner, Chairman and CEO








Demoulas Super Markets Inc. (Market Basket)






Big Lots






Sprouts Farmers Market






Alimentation Couche-Tard





(Canada, Couche-Tard)

Over 80 Base Sizes

Ari Kotler, President and CEO

Dominik Richter, CEO Arthur Demoulas, President and CEO Bruce Thorn, President and CEO Jack Sinclair, CEO Brian Hannasch, President and CEO


Retail Display Solutions PROGRESSIVE GROCER May 2022





Fiscal Year End Sales (In Millions of Dollars U.S.)

Prior Year

Percent Change

Store Count

Top Executives


The Save Mart Cos.






H-E-B (Mexico)











Darrell Jones, President


Ingles Markets Inc.





James Lanning, President and CEO


Stater Bros. Markets





Pete Van Helden, CEO


Save-A-Lot/Onex Corp.





Leon Bergmann, CEO


Weis Markets





Jonathan Weis, Chairman, President and CEO


Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA)





Bill Moore, Director and CEO


Brookshire Grocery Co.





Brad Brookshire, Chairman and CEO


Schnuck Markets Inc.





Todd Schnuck, Chairman and CEO


Alex Lee Inc. (Lowes Foods)





Brian George, President and CEO







Nicole Pesco, CEO Fernando Martinez, Director General

Neil Rossy, President and CEO

Source: Company reports, Progressive Grocer research, industry and analyst estimates

The Value of Different Shopper Segments Sales Not Adjusted for Price Inflation Monthly Spend


l e n n a h c i n m O l i a t e R y r Groce Sell l more and d attract a bigger share of grocery spend.

Share of Wallet



$120 20% $100 15% 15%

$80 $60



$40 5% $20 0%

$0 Omnichannel

Online only

Instore only

Source: Bain US Adovcacy in Retail Grocery study, conducted in partnership with ROI Rocket, Q4 2020




Fiscal Year End Sales (In Millions of Dollars U.S.)

Prior Year

Percent Change

Store Count

Top Executives


Brookshire Brothers





John Alston, President and CEO


K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. (Food City)





Steven C. Smith, CEO


Key Food Stores Cooperative





Dean Janeway, CEO


Grocery Outlet Inc.





Eric Lindberg, CEO


99 Cents Only





Barry Feld, CEO


Houchens Industries Inc.





Dion Houchins, Chairman and CEO


Associated Food Stores





Robert Obray, President and CEO


Giant Tiger (Canada)





Paul Wood, President and COO


Big Y Foods Inc.





Charles D’Amour, President and CEO


Bozzuto’s Inc. (Wholesale)





Michael Bozzuto, President and CEO


Fareway Stores Inc.





Reynolds Cramer, President and CEO


The Fresh Market





Jason Potter, CEO

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Fiscal Year End Sales (In Millions of Dollars U.S.)

Prior Year

Percent Change

Store Count

Top Executives








Woodman's Food Markets Inc.





Phil Woodman, President


H Mart


$ 1,455



Il Yeon Kwon, Founder and CEO


Coborn’s Inc.






Rouse Enterprises LLC






Lowe's Pay-N-Save Inc.






Marc Glassman Inc.





Marc Glassman, Chairman


Village Supermarket





Robert Sumas, CEO


Vallarta Supermarkets

$ 1,498

$ 1,311



Enrique Gonzalez Jr., President and CEO


99 Ranch





Alice Chen, CEO


Lidl U.S.






Sedano’s Supermarkets





Source: Company reports, Progressive Grocer research, industry and analyst estimates

Yakir Gola, Co-Founder and CEO

Chris Coborn, President and CEO Donny Rouse, CEO Roger Lowe Jr., CEO

Michal Lagunionek, President and CEO Agustin Herran, President and CEO



Fiscal Year End Sales (In Millions of Dollars U.S.)

Prior Year

Percent Change

Store Count

Top Executives


Fresh Thyme Farmers Market





Gerald Melville, President


La Michoacana Meat Market





Rafael Ortega, President


Festival Foods





Mark Skogen, CEO


Superior Grocers





Mimi Song, President and CEO


Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage

$ 1,055





Northgate Gonzalez Market






Farmacias Benavides

$ 43





Patel Brothers






Blue Apron





M&M Food Market








Kemper Isley, Chairman, Director and Co-President Miguel Gonzalez Reynoso, President and CEO Macedonio Garza Hernandez, CEO Talashi Patel, Co-Founder Linda Kozlowski, CEO Andy O'Brien, CEO


Plant-Based Foods


lant-based proteins have moved beyond being trendy and into an accepted lifestyle that’s part of U.S. food culture. Now the driving force behind one of America’s most creative plant-based brands is looking to integrate his alternative-protein products into pop culture as well. Dave Zilko, the strategic innovator behind the Garden Fresh Gourmet salsa brand and now Skinny Butcher, talked to Progressive Grocer about what makes his plant-based products different, his approach to branding, and “Stranger Things.” Progressive Grocer: How was Skinny Butcher developed? Dave Zilko: After we sold Garden Fresh to Campbell Soup Co. in 2015, my partner and friend Jack Aronson switched to a completely vegan lifestyle after being diagnosed with cancer. He was unbelievably passionate about it. So when I was with him and our creative director, Mike Griffin, I couldn’t help but be moved by Jack’s passion for a vegan lifestyle. And it just struck me that this is a space that we could make a real contribution to. PG: You remember the exact moment when you came up with the name?

“We wanted to have Skinny Butcher come into a crowded sandbox with the best product on the market.”

DZ: Yes. As Jack’s health deteriorated, he really couldn’t be involved in it to that great extent —Dave Zilko, CEO, Skinny Butcher anymore. So it was really me and Mike, who’s just brilliant, who developed the brand aesthetic. It really evolved from there, somewhat serendipitous really, a combination of what Jack did after we sold Garden Fresh and what he was going through health-wise, and then still recognizing that this is a place that we can make a real contribution in. We wanted to have Skinny Butcher come into a crowded sandbox with the best product on the market. And I define “best product on the market” by meaning we’re winning on branding and we’re winning on a flavor profile. PG: Tell me about the winking butcher. DZ: Our brand aesthetic for Skinny Butcher is designed to put a smile on your face. And he’s winking at you because there’s an old joke: Never trust a skinny butcher. But he’s winking at you, saying, “Look, this is so good, even I’m eating it. You can really trust me.” And the butcher is the second-most-trusted individual in the supermarket, right behind


the pharmacist. So that was the brand aesthetic we set out to create. PG: Your flavor profile is innovative and unique. DZ: We’re importing a bamboo fiber from Italy. We’re the first in this country to do it. We put together a proprietary blend of chicken flavoring that we just think is terrific. And then we decided to follow the gold standard and be pea protein-based, so all our items are soy-free. But pea protein can have an unpleasant aftertaste, so in the development of this product, we really focused on masking agents so there’s no unpleasant aftertaste with our products. So our approach was to come to market with the best product, and define “best product” by winning on branding and winning on flavor profile. PG: Can you talk about the response you’ve had from buyers and retailers? DZ: We are literally in launch mode right now. We’re in Safeway, about 350 stores. But we have a lot of onboarding coming soon. So far, the response has just been great. I mean, it

has been universal for buyers and brokers alike saying: “Never seen anything like this. This really does put a smile on my face.” I think my favorite response was from a digital media executive. He said: “Look, I got to tell you. … I’m committed to a flexitarian lifestyle. I know it’s good for me. I know it’s good for the environment,” but, he said, “I just hate how all these other plant-based protein brands are leaf this and leaf that.” He said: “Skinny Butcher, you guys aren’t afraid to be what you want to be. You have swagger, braggadocio.” It’s really representative of the response we’re getting to the brand aesthetic.

Skinny Butcher's Crazy Crispy Chick'n Nuggets are part of a high-profile promotion at Walmart for the popular Netflix series "Stranger Things."

PG: Let’s talk a little bit about innovation when it comes to marketing. Can you talk about what Skinny Butcher might be bringing to bear in this area? DZ: Yeah. It’s really fascinating to me, because when we were building Garden Fresh years ago, Google, Facebook, they weren’t even invented yet. At Garden Fresh, everything was at point of sale. So as we’re embracing this new technology and saluting it, we’re kind of saying, what makes our brand special, and how do we extrapolate that into the digital zeitgeist? So again, our brand is designed to put a smile on people’s face. These are chicken nuggets, for crying out loud. They should be fun. So we want to have fun with it. So we’re engaging with a bunch of digital media firms, and we’re telling them to go ahead and have fun with us. PG: You have something cooking with Netflix. Do tell! DZ: Our manufacturing partner is Golden West Food Group, run by Josh Solovy and Zach Levenson in Los Angeles. When I went out to L.A. to meet them and showed them our brand aesthetic, they wanted to license the brand. And I said: “Look, I’m not looking to license the brand. I like to control my manufacturing. I want to be partners.” So we brought them in as a very significant equity partner, and we gave them a contract to do all our manufacturing. And they’re doing just a phenomenal job. Golden West does a lot with Walmart, and Walmart has a “Stranger Things” deal. Golden West was in touch with Walmart, which said, “We’re looking for a chicken nugget.” And Golden West said, “Well, we’ve got a plant-based chicken nugget that we’re really proud of.” So they ran samples over to Netflix, and Netflix said: “Environmentally, this is on-brand for us. We should be doing something plant-based.” But they also said these are the best chicken nuggets they’ve ever had, either regular or plant-based. So we were very flattered by that response. We are going to be part of the Walmart “Stranger Things” promotion. It’ll be in concert with their series finale, which begins in May. There’s going to be 11 “Stranger Things” products throughout the store. We’re going to have our Crazy Crispy Skinny Butcher nuggets co-branded with “Stranger Things.” We met with Netflix and we told them, “Hey, we’re a brand that doesn’t take ourselves too seriously, so have fun with this.” And they said, “Well, how much fun can we have?” And I said: “Just knock yourself out. If you go too far, we’ll tell you.” PG: How far did they go? DZ: Well, one of the main characters in “Stranger Things” is Eleven, and whenever she goes to this upside-down world, she comes back and she might have a little bit of blood under her nostril. So we told them, “Go ahead and put some blood under our winking butcher’s

nostrils.” They said, “Are you crazy?” I said: “Look, we’re going to take a chance. We think our brand aesthetic and our brand personality is that we should put a smile on people’s face, so go ahead and do it.” And they did, and we’re going to run with it. We’re going to take a chance with it, and we’re going to be on an end cap at Walmart. It’ll be nationwide in May. And Walmart is putting a point-of-sale sticker on the freezer door, and it’s going to have a QR code. And a consumer can scan the code and have a map pop on their phone that will be a kind of scavenger hunt for going around Walmart and buying other “Stranger Things” items. PG: It’s a great brand-building exercise for you. DZ: Yes, it’s a great way to onboard us nationwide at Walmart. Walmart’s really been great about it. Netflix has been phenomenal, and we’d like to expand the relationship with them even beyond this. PG: What else might be in the pipeline for Skinny Butcher at retail or marketing-wise, or anything at all? DZ: We’re coming to market right now with chicken nuggets, chicken tenders, chicken patties, and chicken breasts. Very soon, we’re going to have sliders, so we’re really excited about that. In probably about three months, we’re going to have spicy items out. And then probably in the third quarter — and this is something I’m really excited about — we’re going to have fish sticks and fish fillets. We’re having fun with our brand. On our fish sticks and fish fillets packaging, we’re literally putting a sea captain’s hat on our beloved butcher, and it is just putting a smile on people’s faces when we share it with them. EDITOR’S NOTE: For more about Dave Zilko and Skinny Butcher, see Progressive Grocer’s February 2022 issue.




Extreme-Value Retailers

GOING TO EXTREMES Progressive Grocer finds out what makes some of America’s favorite deep-discount grocery stores tick.

Key Takeaways Extreme-value retailers keep prices low through such methods as a focus on private label, limited assortments, stocking top-selling items in advance and opportunistic buying. Beyond savings, these retailers offer such enticements as stores run by independent operators and tailored to a local community, and a treasure-hunt experience. Value and discount grocery is one of the fastest-growing retail segments, with no signs of slowing down as customers continue to hunt for bargains amid an uncertain economy.


t a time of escalating grocery prices, extreme-value food retailers present an especially attractive option for budget-conscious consumers. The mission of these grocers goes well beyond present problems such as high inflation, supply chain headaches, and rising wages for a shrinking workforce, however. For these businesses, low prices are a way of life. How do they do it, though? Progressive Grocer spoke to some of the most prominent extreme-value retailers in operation to find out the various ways they deliver value, as well as who their target customers are, what sets them apart besides deep discounts on everyday essentials, and where the future of extreme-value retailing is headed.

The Lowdown on Low Prices

“When it comes to combating macroeconomic pressures, our business was designed to withstand fluctuations in the market,” explains Scott Patton, VP national customer interaction services at Batavia, Ill.based Aldi U.S., which operates more than 2,000 stores in 36 states. “Features like our smaller-format stores,


Extreme-Value Retailers

Aldi keeps prices low for customers through such means as small-format stores and limited assortments.

carefully curated private label range of groceries and even our quarter cart system all add up to tangible savings that we pass on to our customers. These differences may seem small but become increasingly important as operational costs increase.” “Grocery Outlet has always been focused on value, delivering customers the brands they love at prices they can afford,” stresses Layla Kasha, chief marketing officer and chief new store growth officer at Emeryville, Calif.-based Grocery Outlet, which has more than 400 stores across the country. “Our model is unique because we are opportunistic buyers, meaning a lot of what we buy has already made it through the supply chain, and our independent operators can select products from our inventory — passing the savings on to customers and insulating us a little bit from inflation, though we have felt some of the same effects as everyone else. Ultimately, our model helps people stretch a dollar, which is needed even more right now.” Going into more detail about the company’s opportunistic buying model and independent owners and operators, Kasha notes: “While we have the ability to purchase excess inventory and leverage long-standing relationships with name brands, it really is up to our independent operators to cater to their customers and determine what products will perform best in their community. Our model allows us to provide shoppers with great prices on staple items, while 52

“Aldi has been saving people money on groceries and household items for decades, and … we have set the standard for this business model.” —Scott Patton, Aldi U.S.

also creating a treasure hunt for unexpected and unique items that are fun and help add some variety to their weekly grocery run.” St. Ann, Mo.-based Save A Lot, with about 900 stores in 32 states, similarly employs an independent licensing model that gives owners, known as retail partners, the flexibility to respond to the needs of their local communities. As CEO Leo Bergmann puts it: “Retailers truly operate as a community grocer supported with the buying power of a national brand. It’s a key differentiator for Save A Lot.” Beyond that, the chain has a few other tricks up


Extreme-Value Retailers

its sleeve. “While supply chain challenges are impacting the grocery business as a whole, Save A Lot collaborates closely with vendors to stock top-selling items and project store needs in advance, securing inventory at competitive prices,” says Bergmann, who notes a similarity with Aldi: “We are also able to keep prices low by stocking shelves with our over 55

“With a model like ours, it’s critical to find balance in the supply chain, ensuring just-in-time delivery to stores and promoting inventory turnover in our warehouse to protect the bottom line. Competing in the extreme-value category is fierce, and our focus must always be on how we can continue to provide value to our retail partners that in turn enables them to deliver outstanding value to consumers.” —Leo Bergmann, Save A Lot


Save A Lot CEO Leo Bergmann is proud of the chain's "great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables."

private label brands. The power of maintaining a large private label assortment means we can provide customers with quality products that are on par with the national brands at significant savings — as much as 40% or 50% on some products.” Further, in common with Aldi and Grocery Outlet, Save A Lot offers a limited assortment — in Save A Lot’s case, only about 3,000 SKUs — which, according to Bergmann, “means a smaller retail footprint with minimal backroom warehouse space, resulting in lower overhead costs, which also help to keep prices low.” He asserts: “Our banner is built on the philosophy that we can offer outstanding value by focusing on a core assortment of products customers need every day, with a heavy emphasis on private label brands that are as good as, or better than, the national-brand equivalent.” However, Bergmann also points out: “With a model like ours, it’s critical to find balance in the supply chain, ensuring just-in-time delivery to stores


Extreme-Value Retailers

Grocery Outlet's opportunistic buying model enables it to pass the savings on to its customers.

and promoting inventory turnover in our warehouse to protect the bottom line. Competing in the extreme-value category is fierce, and our focus must always be on how we can continue to provide value to our retail partners that in turn enables them to deliver outstanding value to consumers.” For Dollar General, PG’s 2021 Retailer of the Year, which

has been focused on aggressively growing its store count, along with its fresh and frozen offerings, it’s all about the ability “to provide convenient and affordable access to the everyday products they need and want,” observes Crystal Luce, senior director of public relations at the Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based retailer, which currently operates more than 18,000 stores in nearly every state. According to Luce, Dollar General occupies a unique space as an extreme-value retailer. “We strive to serve communities across the country as today’s neighborhood general store, as we are not a full-service grocer and don’t consider ourselves to be a dollar store,” she notes. “Our stores serve communities who might be miles away from the nearest grocery store and otherwise be forced to drive farther and pay more for their food and household necessities.”

Who’s Shopping

In addition to those in food deserts who need access to inexpensive groceries, extreme-value retailers are often dedicated to serving the broadest range of shoppers, because who doesn’t appreciate a bargain? “At our core, saving people time and money is what we do, so it’s no surprise that our shoppers truly span all ages, locations and income brackets,” affirms Patton. “Every day, new customers are discovering just how much they can save by switching to Aldi. This ever-expanding following

Dollar General is aggressively growing fresh and frozen offerings in its stores.


“What makes shopping with us fun is the same thing that makes a concert fun — walking in, you have a general sense of what’s going to be there, but there are a few things that you’ll experience one time.” —Layla Kasha, Grocery Outlet

and support from our fans is what has propelled us to continue our coast-to-coast expansion.” “Our shoppers span a variety of socioeconomic settings,” says Save A Lot’s Bergmann. “The common trait is they are all searching for value while feeding quality, nutritious foods to their families. As such, they benefit from our competitive pricing on our assortment of key products — including our private label items — that they need most every day.” He adds that the company has continued to broaden its reach through such efforts as its “Like, A Lot A Lot” advertising campaign, which launched in 2021, “making the brand more fun and accessible, and sharing our message of quality and value to younger families.” Meanwhile, Grocery Outlet understands that despite a clear desire for value, some customers wish to be surprised and delighted as well. “Our target shopper is someone looking for great products at deeply discounted prices,” notes Kasha. “They are discerning and value quality, but also have a goal of saving money. They have a budget, but there’s a line item that is devoted to the unexpected. People emotionally connect to Grocery Outlet’s treasure-hunt model, especially when money is tight.”

The Total Experience

Most shoppers prefer low prices, but it’s the total shopping experience that keeps them coming back for more. That’s where Grocery Outlet’s famed treasure-hunt aspect really comes into play. “Much of what we sell are things people can’t find anywhere else,” asserts Kasha. “That’s the whole crux of the treasure-hunt experience. Each store has limited products, tailored specifically to their customers and curated by the independent operators or the Grocery Outlet team. So, while we’re a national brand, customers are still shopping at a local store and having a local, unique experience. What makes shopping with us fun is the same thing that makes a


Extreme-Value Retailers concert fun — walking in, you have a general sense of what’s going to be there, but there are a few things that you’ll experience one time.” Save A Lot also emphasizes its neighborhood cred. “As local business owners, our retail partners have the ability to customize their assortment to cater to the tastes and preferences of customers in the local communities they serve,” notes Bergmann, who also points out the stores’ fresh meat cut in-store daily and produce departments providing “a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables,” along with its private brands offering “the same great quality customers can get with a national brand, but often at a significant value.”

The Future of Extreme-Value Retailing

What’s ahead for the extreme-value channel? Value and discount grocery is already one of the fastest-growing retail segments, and Bergmann cites a forecast from Hamburg, Germany-based market data company Statista that it will grow by 4.2% annually through 2026. “We believe we will continue to see new players

Among its offerings, Grocery Outlet carries a selection of natural, organic, specialty and healthy (NOSH) items in a dedicated section.

entering and competing in this space,” the chief executive predicts. “Now, more than ever, customers are looking for ways to access value, particularly in the grocery aisles. We believe that retailers will always continue to compete on price and quality, even more so during inflationary periods.” He further notes that “[m]ore customers than ever are willing to try private label brands, and we expect to see continued growth” in that area. And while “[c]ompetition is a constant” in extreme-value retailing — not to mention in all corners of the retail industry — Bergmann is convinced that Save A Lot offers “a compelling offering for customers.” “Value-oriented shoppers will always look for ways to stretch their dollar, and with inflation and gas prices driving consumers to count every penny, extreme-value retailing will only continue to grow both in terms of popularity and importance for families,” says Kasha. “Grocery Outlet is uniquely nimble, getting products from suppliers to our stores quickly and efficiently, which is difficult to re-create. This model makes us stand out from other value-oriented retailers and allows us to pass along savings to our customers without much overhead.” For his part, Patton admits that while he “can’t predict the future of value-based retailing, what I know is that Aldi has been saving people money on groceries and household items for decades, and that we have set the standard for this business model. We remain more committed than ever to keeping our prices low in every market we serve, despite what is going on in the world around us.” 58


Snacking Report


few years ago, food industry analysts noted that the United States had become a nation of grazers, with people searching for solutions that fit their on-the-go lifestyles and elevated tastes. Then came the pandemic, supply chain backups, inflation rates not seen in more than 40 years, and global upheaval. Even the most prescient trend forecaster couldn’t have anticipated the simultaneous headwinds that would blow into the market and change the way that people buy and consume products. The overall snack sector has been affected by this spate of changes, with people seeking equal parts comfort and health as they nosh and nibble during day and night schedules that are decidedly different from the past decade. Driven by taste, price, convenience and circumstances that are regularly in flux, consumers are reshaping the snack market. If it seems a little up and down, that sentiment is shared by Sally Lyons Wyatt, EVP and practice leader, client insights at Chicago-based IRI, who has shared insights on the “seesaw state of snacking” in a recent webinar. “The bottom line is that COVID and inflation have not stopped consumers from snacking; however, we are seeing a seesaw state,” Wyatt notes, citing increases in some categories and package sizes, and declines in others. Likewise, Jeff Frank, group VP, grocery products for Austin, Minn.based Hormel Foods Inc., says that there has been a shakeout of sorts in snacking habits. “Snacking and grazing and ‘snealing,’ as we call it — eating snacks as meals — were all significant trends before the pandemic, but there’s no question that the pandemic accelerated changes,” he observes, noting that the shift to at-home eating has been a major catalyst. “We can all relate to working from home and having the refrigerator and pantry a few steps away, and now those behaviors have endured into the current time.”

The lagging return to pre-pandemic schedules has bolstered the state of snacking as people continue to reach for more snacks at home.


Key Takeaways While more people are snacking more of the time, there’s been a shift in both palates and plates when it comes to eating occasions. Convenience, cost and health are also key considerations when it comes to snacking. Despite inflation and lingering COVID-19 concerns, consumers are eager to serve snacks at inperson gatherings.

The World of Snacking

Before we go any further, let’s take an overarching look at the current state of snacking: According to IRI, 45% of people in the United States consume three or more snacks a day, and core snacking outpaced total food and beverage in 2021. An earlier study by Chicago-based Mintel revealed that 94% of Americans snack every day. While more people are snacking more of the time, there’s been a shift in both palates and plates when it comes to eating occasions. The annual “State of Snacking”

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Snacking Report report released earlier this year by Deerfield, Ill.-based International shows that 64% of consumers prefer snacking as a regular eating behavior over traditional mealtime, up five percentage points since pre-pandemic 2019. An overwhelming 79% of respondents in ’s research said that their definition of what constitutes a snack has evolved over the past three years. Similarly, IRI’s data indicates that 45% of consumers often eat snacks instead of meals at home, a statistic that’s higher than it was five years ago, according to Wyatt. She points to pandemic-related lifestyle changes — especially work-from-home and hybrid work schedules — as strong drivers for the snackversus-meal tipping point. The consumption of snacks at work and school dipped from 2019 to 2021, while snacks consumed at home and while walking or driving from place to place rose across several segments, IRI research shows. Late-day snacking is also on the rise, with 60% of consumers snacking at night and 43% noshing late at night. While snacking is stacking up, there’s also a new definition of convenient snacks emerging from the wild ride of the early 2020s, as people seek a different kind of ease. Wyatt points out that 51% of consumers are looking for snacks that can be eaten on the go, but that doesn’t necessarily mean out of the house, as in-home convenience is trending in the United States — think pre-cut vegetables with dip that can be eaten at a home office desk, or a mini charcuterie kit that can be shared around the table when kids come home from school. As consumers have adjusted and readjusted their snacking patterns to align with their work-life circumstances, they’re also tweaking their eating habits due to cost. Wyatt notes that as the economy has been “swinging like a pendulum,” consumers are scaling back on some snack types but not others. Case in point: Although there has been an 8%-10% spike in prices, the categories of snack bars, cookies, crackers, tortilla chips and potato chips are still showing strong growth.

Retailers like SpartanNash's Family Fare banner are creating in-store snacking stations to entice shoppers in the perimeter.

Consumers' penchant for snacking and their renewed interest in entertaining are evident in the success of charcuterie meats and cheeses.

How long this robustness lasts depends on the future pace of inflation, and the fallout from other price-affected areas, like housing and fuel. Many economists have projected that inflation will remain a thorn in consumers’ and retailers’ sides for at least the next few months. Optimists can take heart in the fact that even with price concerns and stubborn COVID-19 variants, there’s an eagerness to serve snacks as part of gatherings that have been put off for a year or two. “Now that things are opening up a bit more and you see snacking continue, another area [of growth] is entertaining,” Frank affirms. “We look at snacking and entertaining as related but separate occasions.” His colleague, Jeff Baker, group VP, deli at Hormel, says that snacks for individual consumption, as well as for group gatherings, are poised to do well as summer arrives. “During the pandemic, people invested in their homes,” Baker points out, adding that many consumers are now using features like renovated patios and equipment such as smokers when entertaining guests. “We have casual gatherings covered with party trays, and charcuterie fits perfectly when trying to impress guests.” As consumers continue to refine their snacking habits based on what they’re concerned about or doing at the time, there are some noteworthy trends in today’s snack market.

Protein, Please

The collective craving for protein, a movement that began before COVID-19 came along, continues. “People are definitely leaning into protein — that’s part of what’s on trend in today’s market,” Hormel’s Baker says. Shopper demand for protein-rich snacks is evident in certain high-performing categories. “When I started doing research, meat snacks kept popping up,” Wyatt notes. “Meat snacks have had one of the most phenomenal years of any category I’ve seen in a long time.” According to IRI’s data, dried meat snacks were up 22.4% for the 52-week period ending Dec. 26, 2021.


There’s also a notable uptick in cheese snacks. Recent cheese products reflect innovation, like recently launched Whisps Cheese Crisps & Nuts, whose ingredients are in the name, and Crispy Brie Bites from French brand Fromager d’Affinois. Of course, protein doesn’t come just from animal sources, and plant-based high-protein snacks are also making their way into shoppers’ baskets. There have been plenty of different plant-based snacks hitting the shelves in recent months, like Beyond Meat Jerky, a joint venture of Beyond Meat Inc. and PepsiCo, and Bel Brands USA’s Babybel plant-based cheese snacks. That said, there’s ample room for growth in the plant-based snack segment, which, despite making some inroads, has yet to go mainstream. Wyatt points out that a mere 10% of consumers “usually” or “always” look for plant-based snacks, while 28% “sometimes” seek out these items.

Where Functionality and Comfort Meet

“Permissible indulgence” isn’t an oxymoron, but an often used descriptor for the type of eating that today’s shoppers are doing — including snacking. While consumers are mindful of wellness as they seek to enjoy longer, healthier lives, they also turn to snacks as a form of comfort during a prolonged period of disruption and worries. Two things can be true in this climate, as snacks that fall under the permissible-indulgence billing are faring well. In its market report, indicates that 88% of consumers consider a balanced diet as one that includes small indulgences; moreover, 68% say that they couldn’t imagine a world without a sweet treat during the day. Hormel’s Baker likewise underscores the demand for these kinds of snack options. “When you can provide [shoppers] with indulgence and convenience, that is a very important place to be,” he asserts. As for how permissible indulgence translates into snacking behavior, consumers are taking different measures to fuse snacking with their cravings and their intent to live well. On some occasions, shoppers seek out products that taste good but offer some kind of functionality or “free-from” claim, such as Birch Benders’ recently introduced line of no-sugar-added keto-friendly cookies. Other examples include Nestlé Rallies nut butter bombs made without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives; Super Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Cups from Hormel’s Justin brand that are made with 80% cocoa and 5 grams of sugar, with no added stevia or sugar alcohols, and are non-GMO project verified, gluten-free and USDA-certified organic; and Spudsy Sweet Potato Fries that are vegan, grainfree, non-GMO and made from upcycled potatoes. Portion-controlled snacks also fall under the permissible-indulgence umbrella. The Voortman brand recently downsized its popular sugar-free cookies with a new line of minis sold in a 5-ounce multiserve pouch for on-the-go snacking, while Keebler has unveiled Fudge Stripes Dip’mmms available in a single-serve portable tray. At the same time, many consumers are trying to have it both ways by balancing out their intake of better-for-you snacks and nibbles

“Snacking and grazing and ‘snealing,’ as we call it — eating snacks as meals — were all significant trends before the pandemic, but there’s no question that the pandemic accelerated changes.” —Jeff Frank, Hormel Foods

consumed for pure satisfaction and delight. “In research we’ve done, consumers say they are looking at the snacking portfolio as ‘debits’ and ‘credits,’” explains Andrew Quinn, director of marketing for Hormel’s deli solutions group. Quinn cites an example: “I had a banana at my desk in the morning, a granola bar at 10 a.m., a sandwich at lunch, and some peanuts in the early afternoon.”

Big Flavor

Finally, although flavor is a perennial selling point of snacks and a focal point for new varieties, things are getting really spicy out there. Or, if not spicy, at least bold and interesting. IRI’s Wyatt confirms that demand for flavor is showing up in snack product performance, as evidenced in brisk sales of hotter flavors like scorpion pepper, spicy sesame ginger and flaming hot queso, as well as zesty menu-influenced flavors. Traditional favors are holding strong as well, per IRI, including fruity flavors like strawberry and mixed berry, and flavor stalwarts like cheese and peanut butter. Recent new product launches reflect this trend, among them Mann Packing Co.’s Mezete On the Go hummus packs in Fire Roasted Red Pepper, Red Hot Chili and Zesty Mixed Herb varieties. Meanwhile, the stalwart Lay’s brand has rolled out Lay’s Layers, bite-sized “multidimensional” chips in Three Cheese and Sour Cream & Onion flavors. In addition to spicy snack foods, spreads paired with snacks are also getting a punch of flavor. The Challenge Butter brand recently unveiled a line of snack spreads in dessert flavors of Vanilla Fudge, Chocolate Dessert and Salted Caramel, and savory flavors of Everything Seasoned, Garlic Parmesan and Herb Seasoned, and the venerable cereal brand Cinnamon Toast Crunch is now the headliner in a flavorful new spread from B&G Foods.

The Wholly Guacamole brand has paired guacamole and chips for even more convenient snacking. PROGRESSIVE GROCER May 2022



Food Safety

Creating a Fresh Food Safety Culture

Without a digital food safety solution, fresh fruits and vegetables have the potential to be contaminated throughout the supply chain with harmful germs that can cause shoppers to get sick.


Key Takeaways ith the potential for fresh fruits and vegetables to be contaminated with harmful germs anywhere in the supply chain, and for pathogenic bacteria to grow on fresh meats due to improper storage temperatures, it’s no wonder that many consumers have likely experienced a food safety issue. A recent “DEEP Study on Food Safety” from Sensormatic Solutions by Johnson Controls and Progressive Grocer found that 56% of the 1,000-plus grocery shoppers surveyed had experienced a


Digital tools help grocers enforce safety standards, reduce risk, and protect a store’s brand by optimizing and improving safety and quality protocols. Being able to safely monitor compliance is especially essential as stores operate with limited staff who are often stretched too thin. The FDA is working to identify courses of action to address potential food safety vulnerabilities, including those arising in the “last mile” of delivery.

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Food Safety food safety issue in the past. More than one in four (28%) experienced an issue in the past year alone. This highlights the widespread issue of grocers needing to create a better food safety culture by accelerating efforts to digitize fresh management.

Smarter Food Safety

Digital tools help grocers enforce safety standards, reduce risk, and protect a store’s brand by optimizing and improving safety and quality protocols, and shoppers agree. According to Sensormatic’s survey, 57% of respondents say that having automated “smart system” temperature controls would be a helpful step taken by grocery stores to ensure food safety, while 49% say that having a comprehensive digital food safety solution would be helpful. “Tech tools provide essential data, allowing store owners and managers to spot trends, including areas of noncompliance, to mitigate risks,” says CJ Pakeltis, account manager at Salt Lake City-based RizePoint, a quality management software provider. “Data provides key insights across the organization and/or drilled down to individual stores.” Tech solutions also help boost transparency. “Historically, food businesses conducted safety protocols ‘behind the scenes,’ but since COVID, there’s been an increased demand for transparency,” notes Pakeltis. “Key audiences expect to see safety protocols being implemented correctly and consistently. Even if customers order their groceries to go, they want to see ‘proof’ of safe food practices, such as cold food being transported in coolers, raw proteins being separated from ready-to-eat foods, and high-quality items arriving at their doorstep.” Incorporating robust fresh food traceability capabilities can identify problems faster, therefore reducing recalls at retail and lowering liability in case of food safety issues.


“Historically, food businesses conducted safety protocols ‘behind the scenes,’ but since COVID, there’s been an increased demand for transparency.” —CJ Pakeltis, RizePoint Being able to safely monitor compliance is especially essential as current conditions dictate that many stores operate with limited staff who are often stretched too thin. Sensormatic is helping grocers comply with safety standards. In early March, the Swiss retail solutions provider added the PENN Connected Digital Food Safety System to its Sensormatic IQ intelligent operating platform. PENN Connected helps manage data monitoring, recording and reporting to help ensure that food is stored, prepared and consumed safely. Adding it to Sensormatic IQ platform capabilities helps improve operational efficiency through remote refrigeration monitoring. The digital food safety solution helps retailers with compliance by monitoring product storing temperatures, both hot and cold, via remote monitoring. Through prompt alerts, retailers can intervene early if a temperature issue arises. Midwest grocer Coborn’s recently expanded its collaboration with Mississauga, Ontario-based Invafresh to optimize fresh food operations throughout its banners. The St. Cloud, Minn.-based grocery chain deployed the tech company’s fresh food retail platform for its merchandising and replenishment solutions. Coburn’s made the move in light of pressures and complexities in managing fresh food operations and staying compliant with food safety. A food traceability solution allows Coborn’s to adhere to U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements for ground beef recordkeeping. Robust fresh food traceability capabilities identify problems faster, therefore reducing recalls at retail and lowering liability in case of food safety issues. Meanwhile, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. implemented the Procurant One technology platform from Watsonville, Calif.-based Procurant across all of its retail banners for purchasing and order management in the produce department. A cloud-based buying application, the Procurant One system connects all suppliers and stakeholders across Albertsons’ supply chain for perishable foods, giving its buyers more visibility and insight when placing orders and allowing automated fulfillment of routine orders. All participants across the supply chain get better information, faster issue resolution, easier collaboration, and a practical foundation for improved food safety and traceability.

Building Confidence in E-Commerce

Because of the increased number of consumers ordering their foods online, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a summit last fall centered on food safety in e-commerce. The FDA is currently working to identify courses of action to address potential food safety vulnerabilities, including those that may arise in the “last mile” of delivery. One of the potential vulnerabilities in e-commerce is temperature monitoring. According to a recent North Carolina State University study, the majority of meal kits delivered to consumers contain one or more perishable food items that have been exposed to temperatures above the 40-degree Fahrenheit safety zone that impedes the growth of harmful bacteria. Researchers evaluated 72 deliveries of identical menu items from 12 leading companies that deliver meal kits, ready-to-eat meals or perishable foods via a delivery service such as FedEx. Key findings include: More than 76% of the 72 boxes delivered included at least one product above the 40-degree F food safety zone. Nearly 42% of the companies had all deliveries above 40 degrees F. 50% of the companies shipped boxes with at least one meat or poultry product above 40 degrees F. Nearly 17% of those companies had all deliveries over 40 degrees F. More than 58% of the 12 companies shipped boxes with at least one fruit or vegetable product above 40 degrees F. Of those companies, more than 41% had all packages arrive over 40 degrees F. The report indicates that meal kit companies and grocers that deliver need to more accurately track and measure temperatures throughout the product journey. “While the popularity of home-delivered foods and meal kits is still increasing, few details are known about the journey of these packaged foods from when they leave the vendor to when the foods are delivered and prepared in consumer homes. Gaining a better understanding of the journey of these packaged foods would identify opportunities for providing safer, more wholesome foods to consumers and higher customer satisfaction,” says Joseph Battoe, CEO of Chicago-based Varcode, which provides technology that monitors meal kits and other temperature-sensitive products throughout the cold chain. Battoe adds that, beyond temperatures at the time of delivery, companies also need to determine how long a perishable food item was at a specific temperature. “If a chicken cutlet, for example, registered at 50 degrees Fahrenheit when delivered, we need to know how long it was above the recommended 40-degree safe zone,” he says. “Knowing whether it was for 10 minutes or more than four hours is important for determining food safety.” The study also confirmed that transit times are a major factor in product safety. Deliveries with a total travel time of 20 hours or less had the lowest average box temperatures, while those with transit times of 40 hours or more had the highest average box temperatures.

Innovating the Salad Bar In December 2021, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. partnered with a Swedish food tech company to ensure safe fresh meal solutions. Albertsons debuted Picadeli’s high-tech salad bars in six Safeway, Acme and Kings locations across Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and New Jersey. Picadeli’s modular store-within-a-store salad bar concept prioritizes food safety, with the design comprising hygiene-first materials, technology-enabled shielding hoods, and automatic hand sanitizer and bowl dispensers. The mounting system for utensils ensures that the grip is never in contact with food and that products aren’t mixed to avoid cross contamination. Its digital management system allows for full traceability of its supply chain and operation, as well as QR code scanning to ensure that products don’t stay out longer than safely allowed, signaling the need for refilling and artificial-intelligence reordering.

Varcode recently introduced Smart Label technology that provides end-to-end monitoring and reporting of meal kit temperatures. It enables consumers to scan their meal kits with any smartphone and instantly confirm that their meals are safe and fresh. Varcode also provides companies with food safety data to improve their operations. Types of packaging coolants also significantly affect fresh food safety. A new solution for shipping perishables was recently introduced by Islandia, N.Y.-based Minus Works. As a sustainable alternative to the freezer brick, the new Plant-Based, Leak-Proof Gel Packs feature a biodegradable plant-based gel that is semisolid and won’t leak or flow if the containment film is broken or punctured. The gel is a 32-degree F refrigerant, ideal for protecting perishables at refrigerated temperature ranges. Applications include meal kits, online grocery and specialty food delivery. The safety of fresh food delivery is on FDA’s radar; therefore, it needs to be on the radar of food retailers as well. PROGRESSIVE GROCER May 2022




Seafood Sustainability Is Here to Stay A TRIP TO SE AFOOD E XPO NORTH AMERICA RE VE ALED NUMEROUS INITIATIVES. By Bridget Goldschmidt

ustainability has been a major trend for some years now in seafood, but where is it going next? A visit to Seafood Expo North America, which took place March 13-15 in Boston in person for the first time since 2019, revealed a range of initiatives undertaken by stakeholders to further sustainability in seafood.

Package Deals

Packaging maker Sealed Air displayed some of its sustainable packaging solutions, including plant-based renewable roll stock, partly made from cornstarch instead of oil-based plastics, and the company’s Darfresh vacuum skin packaging mounted on recyclable cardboard. Scott Corey, director of marketing, seafood and adjacent markets at Charlotte, N.C.-based Sealed Air, acknowledged the increasing demand for sustainable packaging materials as retailers and manufacturers seek to lower their greenhouse-gas emissions, and noted that the use of cardboard was a European trend now gaining steam in the United States.


Key Takeaways Sustainability efforts showcased at Seafood Expo North America in March spanned packaging, means of production, methods of reducing bycatch, and forthcoming technologies. Organizations are getting the word out about their sustainability moves through innovative marketing platforms. With Millennials now the largest demographic group, consumers increasingly see their own health and the health of the oceans connected through eating seafood.

ASC & BAP Certifications


Seafood Culture Shift

A March 13 panel discussion at the expo on cell-cultured seafood, featuring Lou Cooperhouse, president and CEO of San Diego-based BlueNalu, and Marika Azoff, corporate engagement seafood specialist at The Good Food Institute, in Washington, D.C., and moderated by Chris Chase, editor at Portland, Mainebased SeafoodSource, noted that a key advantage of the product was that it supported sustainability by being better for the environment. As Cooperhouse pointed out, governmental interest in cell-cultured seafood is driven by the issue of food security as global warming contributes to ocean depletion. He predicted that by 2030, large“Action by retailers scale producand the entire tion of this type of seafood — created by a process seafood supply he likened to the brewing chain is essential to of beer — at big factories reducing bycatch was likely.

of ocean wildlife.” —Kathryn Novak,

Bycatch Begone

Also during the show, Honolulu-based Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) launched a new online interactive tool that provides a visual evaluation of methods to reduce wildlife bycatch in tuna longline fisheries, based on those methods’ relevance to specific species, effectiveness, ease of implementation, and cost. “Sustainable seafood means reducing the harm from fishing to sharks, marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds,” said Kathryn Novak, global markets director at SFP, on the occasion of the Solve My Bycatch Problem launch, which took place at the marine conservation organization’s Bycatch Solutions Open Sustainable Fisheries Partnership

At a panel discussion during Seafood Expo North America, BlueNalu CEO Lou Cooperhouse (far right) talked about the sustainability of cell-cultured seafood.

House on March 14. “Action by retailers and the entire seafood supply chain is essential to reducing bycatch of ocean wildlife.” The open house enabled retailers and seafood suppliers in attendance to connect with experts on the latest bycatch reduction technologies and initiatives. In the course of a chat with Progressive Grocer ahead of the launch, Novak observed that the new program highlighted proven best practices at fisheries to effect change, spur adoption at scale, and drive innovation and further improvement in this area. She explained that over the past year and a half, the emphasis had shifted from conservation to “restoration of balance to the ecosystem.” She also noted that seafood sales had risen dramatically during the pandemic as more consumers began preparing and eating food at home, and that initiatives of this kind, capitalizing on rising consumer interest in sustainability, were a way to retain those sales. As far as retailers’ promotional efforts in this regard, Novak was hopeful that that there “will be good stories to tell,” just as there have been with retailers involved in SFP’s popular Ocean Disclosure Project, a reporting framework introduced in 2015 for seafood companies, including retailers and suppliers, to voluntarily disclose their wild-caught seafood sourcing alongside information on the environmental performance of each source.

Sealed Air displayed sustainable packaging solutions at Seafood Expo North America this past March.


Grass-Roots Effort

As it prepares to boost its U.S. presence, the Utrecht, Netherlands-based Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is beefing its up its tech investment, which will allow the organization to offer such resources as trace element fingerprinting that will be able to verify ASC-certified seafood back to its farm of origin with better than 95% accuracy, and digital tagging and tracing through every stage of the supply chain, from farm to point of sale, along with chain-of-custody protocols that each member of the seafood supply chain must follow to prevent fraud and promote secure handling. Speaking to PG on the Seafood Expo floor, ASC USA Director of Marketing Mark Lang described the forthcoming tech offerings, which should become available over the next two years, as enhancements to the organization’s existing certification program. ASC’s planned media program promoting these enhancements consists of coordinated targeted social and digital communication, along with a “boots-on-the-ground” presence in three U.S. cities at a time, starting in Miami, Minneapolis and Philadelphia, where the organization will team with local retailers and restaurants on sampling and show-and-tell events, with the eventual goal of spreading nationwide. Additionally, in a genius move, the five-year marketing strategy includes establishing a presence at universities through partnerships with cafeteria chefs. Currently, 22 universities will feature ASC-certified salmon on the menu, targeting the very demographic — Gen Z — that likely would be most interested in the organization’s sustainability story. According to Lang, the idea behind aquaculture is to help achieve “sustainability at a global level” by providing farmed seafood to meet world demand, given the decreasing supply of wild-caught product. “There’s great potential in the big picture” for aquaculture, he said, “but it has to be done right.”

“We are at a demographic fork in the road where changing the messages we use can both substantially increase the market for fish and seafood and also help maintain current demand.” —Arlin Wasserman, Changing Tastes

Maine Events

Speaking of aquaculture done right, the Maine Aquaculture Association has had that goal since it was founded back in 1977, making it the oldest state aquaculture organization in the country. According

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has embarked on an ambitious five-year marketing strategy as part of its quest to achieve "sustainability at a global level," in the words of ASC USA Director of Marketing Mark Lang.

to Executive Director Sebastian Belle, with whom PG spoke during the expo, the Hallowell-based nonprofit association also pioneered the internal adoption of best practices, developing codes of conduct to which farmers were expected to adhere, with external audits and third-party certification beginning in 1991. Today, the Maine Aquaculture Association spends much of its time providing support services, including business planning, to new farmers. Belle pointed out that Maine’s aquaculture community is an increasingly diverse group whose average age is in the mid-thirties. In regard to sustainability specifically, Belle admitted that it was difficult to get farmers to change their behavior, and that a top-down approach didn’t work. “It has to come from the farmers themselves,” with the right incentives, he noted.

Getting the Message Across

Food retailers and other seafood industry stakeholders that want to encourage further seafood consumption while promoting sustainability need look no further than the More if By Sea messaging platform created by Philadelphia-based food strategy consultancy Changing Tastes. The platform, which was presented at the expo on March 15, aims to shift American appetites more heavily toward foods from the ocean by enhancing the effectiveness of the messages and advice that users share with customers, partners and the public. “We are at a demographic fork in the road where changing the messages we use can both substantially increase the market for fish and seafood and also help maintain current demand,” explained Changing Tastes Managing Director Arlin Wasserman. “The increase in fish and seafood consumption over the past decade has been driven by the Baby Boomer generation, which has embraced a message of seafood as simple and healthy, including a focus on healthy fats and heart health. But America is experiencing a generational shift, with Millennials now being the largest demographic group. Today’s consumers increasingly see their own health and the health of the oceans connected through eating fish and seafood. To increase consumption, we need to adopt new messages and approaches that match the preferences, attitudes and beliefs of those poised to eat more fish and seafood. This new messaging platform is designed to do just that.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER May 2022



Nondairy Frozen Desserts


In an age of health consciousness punctuated by a desire for small indulgences, nondairy frozen desserts seemingly have it all: a plant-based health halo and an easy-to-eat format, all wrapped up in a cold, sweet and creamy treat. And consumers are increasingly taking notice. The nondairy frozen dessert segment is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11% from 2020 to 2027, according to Grand View Research, with demand partly driven by young consumers seeking out more dairy-free products. Further, Global Market Insights expects nondairy ice cream sales to surpass $1 billion worldwide by 2026. Further research from the Plant Based Foods Association, The Good Food Institute and market research firm SPINS finds that sales of plant-based ice cream and frozen desserts have increased 31% over the past two years to reach $458 million. Producers are taking heed of the growing trend, and, according to Mintel, dairy-free product claims grew 8.8% from 2019 to 2020.

Key Takeaways An evolution in flavor options, formats and formulations, accompanied by an increase in shopper education about plantbased products in general, is causing more consumers to switch to nondairy frozen desserts. More approachable milk substitutes and identifiable ingredients are also compelling more consumers to pick these products and stick with them. Frozen desserts have forward momentum and the potential to be a driving force in the overall frozen dessert category in the long term.

So Delicious Dairy Free's Wondermilk line now also includes frozen pints and sundae cones.



Nondairy Frozen Desserts “Nondairy frozen treat offerings have significant awareness and adoption, and are increasingly popular with their base, meaning consumer expectations of product quality, variety and unique selling points of brands will grow,” notes Mintel’s “2021 Ice Cream and Frozen Novelties Report.”

Gaining Market Share

With an evolution in flavor options, formats and formulations taking place over the past decade, accompanied by an increase in shopper education about plant-based products in general, nondairy frozen desserts are being embraced by vegans and dairy eaters alike. “I think there was kind of a convergence of animal welfare, sustainability and health orientation around eating more plants,” says Deena Jalal, co-founder and head of product at plant-based ice cream producer Sweet Tree Creamery, in the Boston area. Dave Robinson, director of So Delicious Dairy Free, a division of White Plains, N.Y.-based Danone North America, agrees that today’s consumers are more likely than ever before to reach for plant-based alternatives. “Now that flexitarian diets are on the rise, consumers are more interested in all aspects of the plant-based food experience, not just specific hero ingredients,” Robinson observes. “They’re seeking out nondairy options that bring high-quality taste, texture and variety to their diet.” More approachable milk substitutes and identifiable ingredients are also compelling more consumers to pick these products and stick with them, according to Jalal. “I think people

Alden's Organic is among the plant-based frozen dessert brands offering products beyond the typical pint-sized package.


“Now that flexitarian diets are on the rise, consumers are more interested in all aspects of the plant-based food experience, not just specific hero ingredients. They’re seeking out nondairy options that bring high-quality taste, texture and variety to their diet.” —Dave Robinson, So Delicious Dairy Free

are more open-minded and more likely to try it,” she explains, providing a further reason that consumers are becoming long-term adopters of these desserts. In an effort to ramp up its dairy-like appeal, So Delicious unveiled the Wondermilk line of pints and frozen sundae cones using a mix of these more approachable milk substitutes — including oat, coconut and soy — that promises to be smooth, rich and creamy. “With our Wondermilk Frozen Desserts, we wanted to ensure the flavors took the spotlight, not the dairy-free ingredients themselves,” Robinson emphasizes. “We also unlocked a uniquely indulgent texture, so pints and cones have a creamy, melty finish that delights the senses.” He continues: “With Wondermilk, we have set out to reach reluctant dairy lovers and challenge their assumptions about just how good plant-based alternatives can taste, thus helping to close the gap between dairy and plant-based households.” Ice cream mainstay Ben & Jerry’s, based in South Burlington, Vt., is doubling down on vegan-friendly desserts with the recent introduction of Nondairy Boom Chocolatta and Nondairy Bananas Foster core flavors, while among newcomers to the segment, Cleveland-based Wonderlab’s dairy-free oat and hemp gelatos, known as Doozy Pots, rolled out to grocers nationwide at the end of last year. Beyond ingredients, many manufacturers are taking plant-based


frozen desserts to the next level by moving beyond the typical pint-sized package, including the frozen sundae cones from So Delicious; a dairy- and gluten-free Vanilla Bean Sammie from Eugene, Ore.-based Alden’s Organic; and plant-based, gluten-free oat milk mochi from Phoenix-based Bubbies. For its part, Sweet Tree Creamery is now offering its nondairy ice creams in quart sizes, a move that Jalal says opens up options for families who would like more product but don’t want to spend so much money on small pints.

Keeping Up With Demand

According to Mintel, these frozen treats have forward momentum and the potential to be a driving force in the overall frozen dessert category in the long term. “The amount of innovation happening in the plant-based space is really exciting, and I see a great deal of potential for growth and continued innovation in the dairy-free frozen category, as well as the plant-based category overall,” So Delicious’ Robinson says. Mintel further notes that formulations, as well as touting their products’ health benefits, should be a consideration for manufacturers and retailers. People are also growing increasingly interested in newer, trendier milk-alternative options like oat and cashew milk, which indicates that consumers are excited for the next big thing. “Players will want to keep an eye on emerging trends in the milk space, like macadamia milk and nutrient-dense ubermilk, for inspiration,” the Mintel report observes. Additionally, the report notes: “While indulgent nondairy options can cater to consumers with dairy allergies who simply want to indulge without risk, nondairy brands will be challenged to continue innovating with ingredients and bring health to the forefront for those who seek out nondairy options because they perceive them as healthier.” In addition to product attributes, companies are paying close attention to product marketing and consumer demographics. Robinson cites a Danone North America survey of more than 4,000 multicultural consumers, including Hispanic, Black and Asian American communities, that found plant-based eating is on the rise among these groups, especially the younger Millennial and Gen Z populations. For Jalal and Sweet Tree, a major focus is making these products accessible to people outside urban areas who are still learning why a plant-based diet can be good for their health. As a matter of course, both manufacturers and grocers alike can continue educating shoppers about nondairy frozen desserts, and plant-based alternatives in general.

“We see dairy-free as part of a lasting lifestyle shift among consumers. They crave options, whether it is a household that is purchasing both dairy and dairy-free products for multiple family members, or someone following a plant-based lifestyle.” —Joelle Simmons, Alden’s Organic

Sweet Tree Creamery is focusing on making its nondairy frozen desserts accessible to people outside of urban areas.

“Once you leave the city, that education, that awareness and that accessibility drops pretty quickly,” Jalal says. “I think there still is a ton of opportunity as more and more people outside of those areas learn about the benefits of a plant-based diet and eating more all-natural foods.” Others are winning over consumers through packaging claims and third-party certifications. “[W]e have secured vegan certification on our dairy-free products, as well as gluten-free certification on a majority of our products as well,” says Joelle Simmons, SVP of sales and marketing at Alden’s Organic. “It’s important to us that consumers can trust what they are serving their families, especially when it comes to dietary needs.” For whatever reason shoppers reach for nondairy frozen desserts, growth and interest in the segment aren’t expected to wane anytime soon. “We see dairy-free as part of a lasting lifestyle shift among consumers,” Simmons asserts. “They crave options, whether it is a household that is purchasing both dairy and dairy-free products for multiple family members, or someone following a plant-based lifestyle. Consumers are looking for dairy-free solutions to eating occasions from snacking to dessert.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER May 2022



Nondairy Milk

The Primacy of Plant-Based Milk THE SEGMENT HAS BECOME THE GROW TH ENGINE OF THE MILK CATEGORY, ACCORDING TO RECENT RESE ARCH. By Bridget Goldschmidt t’s well known that plant-based milk often serves as a gateway for consumers to a plant-based diet, but new data from the Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA), The Good Food Institute (GFI) and market research firm SPINS shows just how important these products are. While the data reveals that U.S. retail sales of plantbased foods reached an all-time high of $7.4 billion in 2021, and that overall, plant-based food retail sales grew three times faster than total food retail sales, with most plant-based categories surpassing their conventional counterparts, plant-based milk was a particular standout. Dollar sales for plant-based milk increased 4% and 33% in the past three years to hit $2.6 billion, while animal-based milk sales fell 2% in 2021. Now accounting for 16% of all retail milk dollar sales, plant-based milk is the growth engine of the milk category, contributing $105 million in growth, while animal-based milk’s decline equated to a loss of $264 million. In the natural enhanced channel, plant-based milk makes up 40% of all milk sold, up from 34% in 2018. Forty-two percent of households buy plant-based milk, and 76% of plant-based milk buyers bought it several times in 2021. As the biggest category in the plant-based market, plant-based milk continues to benefit from product innovation, and greater merchandising space and assortment. Almond milk is the category leader, accounting for 59% of the total category, with oat milk the second-largest segment, having grown more than 44 times in the past three years to now make up 17% of category sales, up from just 0.5% in 2018. Plant-based milk is now the innovation leader in the milk category, backed by key advancements in ingredient diversification and product development to enhance taste, functionality and nutrition.


Effect on Adjacent Alt-Dairy Categories

The success of plant-based milk has laid the groundwork for significant growth in other plant-based dairy products, which attained $2.1 billion in total sales in 2021. Categories such as ready-to-drink beverages, and plant-based creamers — which now has a 9% share of all creamers sold — saw rapid growth as plant-based milk consumers increasingly moved into these adjacent categories. Across the store, plant-based dairy dollar sales are growing more quickly than those of many conventional animal products. In 2021, plant-based yogurt dollar sales rose 9%, three times the rate of conventional yogurt, to a 4.5% dollar share. Plant-based cheese grew 7%, while conventional cheese decreased 2%, and plant-based ice cream and frozen desserts increased 31% over the past two years to reach $458 million. In the natural enhanced channel, where retail trends start, dollar share of plant-based creamers rose to 33% of all creamers sold, while plant-based yogurt increased to a 21% share of all yogurt.

Still Going Strong

This year, milk alternative sales are continuing their upward rise, logging a 3.8% increase in dollars and a 1.5% increase in units, according to IRI data for the 52 weeks ending April 17. Meawhile, for the same time period, dairy refrigerated milk experienced a 1.7% uptick in dollar sales and a 4.2% decline in units. Why do plant-based alternatives have a much higher hoousehold penetration in milk than in meat — 42% versus 19% in 2021, per GFI data? One key reason is likely lactose intolerance, a condition where the body develops a reduced ability to digest lactose, the sugar present in dairy milk, notes Anne-Marie Roer-

Of households buy plant-based milk, and 76% of plantbased milk buyers bought it several times in 2021.

Be Plant s Promiscuous Calilujah! | @califiafarms

ink, president of San Antonio-based 210 Analytics. In the United States, about 36% of people have lactose malabsorption, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, with African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics more likely to have the condition, which causes such issues as bloating, diarrhea and gas following the consumption of milk products. Therefore, as Roerink observes, while there may be a medical need to purchase milk alternatives, there’s no such need with meat.

A Frictionless Future for Self-Service Experiences in Retail Self-service in retail is no longer a luxury, it is a required experience that customers have come to view as a standard part of their shopping experience. Recent research shows a growing interest among shoppers for self-service experiences that remove friction so retailers must understand customer expectations, future trends, and new self-service technology to create a path towards frictionless that keeps them competitive. • What are shoppers saying about self-checkout experiences? A consumer survey1 conducted by Toshiba and showed that 66% of customers indicated speed of self-checkouts as the primary reason why they prefer that checkout method. From self-service kiosks to full self-checkout options, shoppers are increasingly looking for faster, more convenient ways to get through the checkout line. Retailers have also observed this trend in a recent survey2 which indicated that 97% of brands agree that improving the speed of checkout is a priority while 48% also indicated their customers prefer self-checkout to cashier checkout. The growing interest for self-checkout is clear, so retailers must adapt by delivering self-service experiences that give shoppers more control and spend less time in the checkout line. • Are shoppers ready to adopt new self-service experiences? Toshiba and found that just over 40% of shoppers who use traditional checkout methods do so because it was the only option while a staggering 80% were interested in trying non-traditional checkouts. There is a growing interest among shoppers to have more control over their checkout experience. With the combination of shoppers returning to stores in larger numbers and an ongoing labor shortage, consumers are finding longer lines in traditional checkout lanes. As a result, self-service, including product recognition with new camera vision technology, is becoming an increasingly attractive checkout method that saves shoppers time and gives an alternative for their in-store interactions. • How is self-service expanding beyond the front end? Self-checkout at the front end is only one part of the self-service experience. Shoppers are also looking for in-store ordering on kiosks, mobile shopping with their own devices, smart carts, mobile payments, associate mobility for line/queue busting, and price checking. Data shows that brands highly rate the impact of self-service technologies to their stores, including consumer mobile shopping (74%), self-checkout kiosks (68%), and mobile checkout (66%). Additionally, self-service is evolving beyond just grocery where it has historically been most prominent. With new kiosks and all-in-one systems that deliver new features and enhanced loss prevention, there is a growing interest among restaurants, quick service, specialty, and general retail that are finding increasing value in self-service options anywhere in their stores, including in space-limited counters where self-service wasn’t possible previously. • What does the self-service trend look like for the future? Toshiba and found that over 80% of shoppers still used in-store shopping as their most frequent shopping method, with over one-third of those saying they were willing to switch merchants to get the experiences they wanted. As shoppers become more willing to move away from their favorite brands in exchange for better experiences, retailers must listen to their customers today and plan for where consumer trends are headed. Research3 shows that Bridge Millennials, Millennials and Gen Z, whose expectations will define store experiences over the next few decades, were found to be overwhelmingly leading the interest for self-service experiences with more digital interactions. Sources: 1. “Today’s Self-Service Shopping Journey: The New Retail Expectation,”, July 2021. 2. “Convenience & Gas Stores Industry Outlook: Self-Checkout Systems,” Incisiv, February 2022. 3. “Decoding Consumer Affinity: The Customer Loyalty to Merchants Survey 2022,”, January 2022




mazon’s Just Walk Out technology and similar systems under development are getting a lot of attention today, but self-checkout isn’t going to disappear overnight, and is already adapting to address market conditions in regard to consumer expectations, design developments and operational considerations, including labor. Stores can offer more convenient shopping using the self-checkout options that are spreading through the market. They can reduce costs, make effective investments and, in addition, differentiate themselves from their competition by introducing new ways of shopping that today’s customers, who are used to endless-aisle, get-it-now shopping on their computers and, even more critically, their tablets and smartphones, might well prefer to more traditional purchasing methods. The camera-based, skip-the-checkstand Just Walk Out technology may not prove practical in all store formats in its present form. After all, it would take a lot of the cameras required in the Just Walk Out design to cover the biggest food retail concepts, including marketplaces and food-and-drug formats. Still, it’s possible that the technology, perhaps combined with others, will make gains. As that

Key Takeaways Grocers have an opportunity to install mixed technologies that will provide better selfcheckout experiences. Self-checkout equipment producers are looking at the current business demands on grocers and developing new ways to improve their checkout prospects. Flexibility, customercentricity and choice are big factors in creating self-checkout solutions for today’s shoppers.

Diebold Nixdorf emphasizes modularity, scalability and upgradability in self-checkout solutions that can integrate new technology and so adapt to any retail environment.


Pan-Oston wants to give grocers the opportunity to shift between manned checkstands and self-checkout as volume and circumstances require.

Flexible Solutions

Pan-Oston, which has long provided checkout fixtures for major retailers, has looked at the future and seen the need to stay flexible. “The future includes what we call convertible checksuggests, grocers have an opportunity to install mixed technologies out lanes,” says Russell Callaham, product manager for that will provide better self-checkout experiences. the Bowling Green Ky.-based company. That said, from its Seattle base, Amazon continues to forge ahead Convertible checkout lanes produced by Pan-Oswith its Just Walk Out vision. Plans for Just Walk Out technology include ton can be switched around from self- to manned its installation in both existing and new Amazon store formats, as well as operation. The company wants to give grocers the at third-party operations. But even as Amazon expands its high-profile opportunity to shift between manned and self-checkapproach to quick store exits, other retailers are testing sysout as volume and circumstances require. tems such as the mobile-phone-and-app-based Scan and So, at times when traffic volume is slight, “The future Go system that’s been trialed at Sam’s Club. Although such an employee can operate a checkstand includes what we systems may have a larger, even dominant place in future that functions in the traditional manner. shopping, they aren’t at a point, in terms of operations and However, that same fixture can flip to call convertible consumer acceptance, to replace checkstands, manned or self-checkout when it benefits the grocer. checkout lanes.” otherwise, over the next few years. This approach takes into consideration —Russell Callaham, What’s more likely to happen, according to people the current labor market and the grocer’s Pan-Oston working in companies that are making the hardware and need to provide an acceptable level of software that powers self-checkout systems work, is customer service at an appropriate cost. a hybridization that gives grocers the ability to balance technology, By shifting to self-service at those times when hardware costs, operational requirements, labor and customer expeshopper traffic warrants, grocers can cut their labor rience. At least for now, self-checkout systems will be the increascosts while keeping checkout lanes open, according ingly capable fulcrum on which tradition and innovation balance. to Lindsay Bisel, marketing specialist at Pan-Oston. Of Established producers of self-checkout equipment are looking at the course, grocers not only have to deal with the higher current business demands on grocers and developing new ways to labor costs in the market today, but they also have to improve their checkout prospects. cope with the constant problem of missed shifts as PROGRESSIVE GROCER May 2022



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Retail is changing faster than most retailers can react. Staying ahead of everchanging consumer demands is a key challenge. DN Series™ EASY meets these evolving challenges head-on. Our new retail self-service solutions are highly modular, more open than ever before and offer you the ultimate in uptime and reliability. Explore the family at


Taking Your Self-Service Solution to the Next Level Self-service solutions are fast gaining ground in all retail verticals, including the grocery vertical—and the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated its adoption worldwide. PROGRESSIVE GROCER sat down with Carl von Sydow, director of self-service, Americas, retail, Diebold Nixdorf, to discuss how retailers can enhance their self-service solutions and take them to the next level.

PG: What’s sparking the accelerated growth of self-service in retail? CVS: The pandemic has accelerated several changes that were already happening in people’s consumption habits and shopping behaviors. Also, shoppers increasingly expect frictionless, flawless, self-service-oriented experiences. They expect services to be available quickly and on-demand, and to support their “always on the go” lifestyle. Meanwhile, retail competition is getting fiercer. To enrich the overall shopping experience and guarantee customer loyalty, retailers must quickly adopt and adapt solutions to meet shoppers’ expectations. Self-service technology plays a crucial role here. PG: What considerations are imperative for retailers when preparing to move to self-service technology? CVS: Self-service implementation shouldn’t be a “one and done” process. This isn’t about adding myriad unattended self-service checkouts and dehumanizing the in-store experience—and expecting consumer adoption and satisfaction. On the contrary, staff and consumer journeys are increasingly intertwined and must be understood, studied, and evaluated. Only then can you design a solution that supports those consumer journeys, with technology as a catalyst and enabler. Another relevant consideration: Retailers frequently need to integrate new technologies and touchpoints into their existing brick-and-mortar stores. Even if a retailer already has some sort of self-checkout technology in place, meeting consumer and business needs requires an approach that supports constant change and adaptability. It also requires relentless focus on optimizing consumers’ experiences while lowering overall costs. Retailers must integrate new technologies with existing ones in a flexible way, to preserve their existing investments.

PG: What technologies can enhance supermarkets’ self-service offerings? CVS: When preparing stores for now and the future, retailers can consider adding innovative features like AI-based age verification and fresh produce recognition, or just combining existing in-store technology like personal self-scanning, using either store-owned scanners or shoppers’ own devices, with self-checkout to finish the transaction. Retailers must start by focusing on the preferred journeys of their target audience and the “frictions” they face while shopping. Then they can select the appropriate next-generation features to incorporate into their current point-of-sale arsenal. The objective: to design and enable appealing consumer journeys, supported by an optimal combination of customer checkout technologies that benefits both the consumer experience—no more queues, faster checkout, and more convenience—and the staff journey, where staff time is freed up to make consumer interactions more efficient and technology TCO is lower. However, innovative features should be deployed one by one, so they can be introduced, monitored, evaluated, and adjusted step by step. Otherwise, retailers won’t fully leverage their self-checkout investments. That’s why we developed Storevolution™, an over-arching approach and program designed to help retailers adapt to constant change, with a focus on optimizing consumer experiences while lowering overall costs. Accordingly, our experts support retailers in designing, enabling, and operating relevant consumer and staff journeys on a daily basis. PG: What self-service technologies and services does Diebold Nixdorf offer to retailers? CVS: The DN Series™ EASY is a complete, first-of-a-kind portfolio of highly modular retail self-service solutions built on a single platform. Designed to be software- and hardware-agnostic, it offers open APIs to fit retailers’ ecosystems and provide a more modular, open, and “always-on” approach to the evolving challenges of the modern store. Thanks to its customizable configurations, best-in-class components, and optimized footprint, our customers can choose from multiple options for card/cash modules, screen sizes, and peripherals, with on-site scalability, seamless adaptability, and upgradeability—letting them control their innovation roadmap. Undeniably, the retail environment is becoming more complex than ever before. A partnership with Diebold Nixdorf can offer retailers a way forward by providing hardware and software solutions. We can also partner with retailers to enable and manage the entire multivendor IT ecosystem, end to end, for ultimate device availability—ensuring availability levels of up to 99.8%, at the lowest TCO.

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Diebold Nixdorf offers self-checkout systems ranging from vertical stands to more typical shelf and screen designs.

employees call in sick or are otherwise unable to report to work. In response to this, retailers can create more self-checkout lanes and not disappoint shoppers stuck staring at unmanned cash registers. “You can just shift to self-checkout,” notes Bisel. “No lanes have to be closed, so the store won’t go from 10 lanes to two open.”

Enhancing the Experience

For its part, Diebold Nixdorf wants the consumer to be the center of everything it does and the products it develops. “The major trend that we see in the self-service space is the absolute focus on the consumer experience within the store,” says Matt Redwood, director of advanced self-service solutions at the Hudson, Ohio-based company. “The focus is shifted more so than ever to: How do I enrich the consumer experience in my store? How do I better tailor the technology that I’m providing to those consumers in that exact store so that I deliver the experience that they expect, because loyalty, brand loyalty, store loyalty is at an all-time low? So they are constantly chasing this euphoric customer experience to try and make sure that the consumer comes back to that store again.” According to Redwood, the technology should suit a large strategic purpose, and so the company will have multiple discussions with a client to determine who the core customer is and how it wants to interact with key shoppers, keeping in mind both the organizational and customer adoption curves, as the grocer has to introduce both employees and shoppers to new technology and make them comfortable with it. Retailers should consider self-checkout as part of the larger store environment and work with self-checkout tech provider partners in scaling and advancing the potential of their installations. Retailers also should think about the role of store employees in the system. Of course, many retailers assign store personnel to the self-checkout area to smooth the path of consumers through the payment process. In those circumstances, Redwood notes, retailers should train them not only to assist when shoppers don’t quite understand how to check themselves out, but also to handle


delicate situations such as when the equipment alerts them to potential shoplifting. In keeping with the theme of building around shopper needs, Diebold Nixdorf emphasizes modularity, scalability and upgradability in self-service retail solutions that can integrate new technology and so adapt to any retail environment, Redwood says. The company offers self-checkout systems ranging from vertical stands to more typical shelf and screen designs. Redwood advises that retailers should aim to create the number and array of touchpoints that shoppers want while minimizing overlap so that self-checkout components work together in a cost-effective manner. He also points out that such self-service elements as scan and go have to be considered as complementary elements as they find their way onto customer smartphones.

Customers’ Choice

Self-checkout can provide shoppers with choice, an important factor for many consumers. According to David Wilkinson, president and general manager at Duluth, Ga.-based NCR Retail, today’s self-checkout technology’s recent evolutions increase flexibility, speed and safety, but also empower consumers with choices across a larger range of payment types, including tapto-pay and mobile payments, and enable more contactless purchases. As such, self-checkout does much more than just scan barcodes and take payments. “Advancements in artificial intelligence, computer vision and facial recognition present valuable opportunities to delight customers and save resources,” says Wilkinson. “For example, these innovations enable self-checkouts to manage age-restricted purchases without needing an attendant to intervene. They also automatically identify items being scanned by appearance and weight.” Although hardware is the most conspicuous component of a self-checkout structure, it’s part of a much more complex and potentially valuable system. “Today’s [self-checkout] hardware now connects to the entire store via software and services solutions,” notes Wilkinson. “At NCR, for example, our strategy is software and services led with our NCR Commerce Platform that helps better connect self-checkouts with the rest of a store’s technology, such as other point-ofsale solutions, inventory management and back-office technology. This integration streamlines operations for retailers and allows their hardware to stay agile and keep up with what’s next in consumer expectations.”

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AHEAD OF WHAT’S NEXT By Bridget Goldschmidt

Home Sweet Homesome

96% found rate in their online grocery stores, according to the company. “Staying on top of their e-commerce inventory is an enormous struggle for grocers, but Homesome automates the inTHE E-COMMERCE PL ATFORM’S CEO ventory management to elimiDISCUSSES MAKING ONLINE RE TAILING nate friction and ensure accuraSIMPLER FOR INDEPENDENT GROCERS. cy,” notes Chabukswar. “Everything we As orders come in, store emare building is to t a time when online groployees are alerted automatically, cery has gone from cool help independent and pick and pack items using extra to absolute neces- grocers compete Homescan’s iOS/Android mobile sity — pushed forward and thrive in the app. “With grocery-specific feaby the pandemic — food digital age.” tures such as item grouping, barretailers of all sizes, but —Rahul Chabukswar, code scanning and substitutions/ particularly smaller in- CEO, Homesome replacements, we make the endependents, are discovtire process efficient, resulting in ering the difficulties of adopting and faster picking times,” says Chabukswar, maintaining such operations. Rawho adds: “Our technology is sophistihul Chabukswar, CEO of San Jose, cated enough to support different buying Calif.-based e-commerce platform paths. For example, orders are sent autoHomesome, has plenty of ideas on how to streamline this process for matically to kitchen printers for time-based grocers – a goal stemming from the company’s beginnings. prep, or with Homesome Express, orders “Homesome’s roots are in both the grocery and tech industry, which gives for prepared foods and drinks are sent to us a unique point of view,” recounts Chabukswar. “In 2017, after frustratthe kitchen and delivered in 30-45 minutes. ing and inconsistent experiences from marketplace apps, we started operThese workflows prevent bottlenecks and ating a grocery warehouse where we picked orders and handled logistics. eliminate human error at service counters.” … Other retailers were contacting us, asking what we were doing, wanting Once the orders are picked and us to deliver from their locations, too. Through these experiences, we unpacked, they’re scheduled and delivered derstood how current e-commerce software isn’t built for the demands and automatically, employing a bag-tags sysrealities facing independent grocers. That’s when we shifted Homesome to a tem to improve accuracy. “With more technology provider focused on your neighborhood grocery stores.” than 80% of U.S. consumers covered Homesome’s model is a flat monthly fee per store “so that grocers through our partner network, the grocer don’t have to give up precious percentages from their revenue,” he exdoesn’t have to worry about the lastplains. “The more they sell, the more they get to keep. … Plus the store mile logistics,” asserts Chabukswar. owns the customer relationship, experience and data, too.” Since they own the customer data, grocers “get a clearer picture of Unified View the customer’s spending habits, product preferences and shopping freEven with a solution already offering quency, making it easier to maximize marketing effects,” notes Chaso much, Chabukswar is focused on bukswar. “Grocers can make better business decisions from shopping providing more. data taken from the online and physical stores together, too. The “Everything we are building is to goal is to help improve operational efficiency related to inventohelp independent grocers comry management, even in-store product placement, which leads pete and thrive in the digital to a more profitable business.” age,” he says. “Next, we want to enable retailers to take inWorking Model sights from their e-commerce How does a grocer get started? “We train store staff to leverbusiness and optimize in-store age the platform from start to finish, including best practicoperations. This unified view es to maximize efficiency,” says Chabukswar. “Our dedicatof what’s happening in their ed customer support and account managers do this through business helps them win, and a combination of documentation, online training, in-person that’s the goal.” training and seven-day-a-week support. Sessions are customized to each store’s unique workflow.” Bridget Goldschmidt Beyond that, through Homesome’s point-of-sale integration and Managing Editor proprietary predictive inventory algorithm, its store customers have a 86

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