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INNOVATION: RETAILERS ADVANCE DISRUPTION AMID CHAOS
FUNCTIONAL FOODS Eating for life and longevity BACK TO SCHOOL? Get educated on healthy lunches at home CHEF’S PERSPECTIVE A Wahlberg talks Wahlburgers
We’re in this...
Together. How the food industry is taking action on an urgent and expanding sustainability agenda
Volume 99, Number 7 www.progressivegrocer.com
CLEAN UP ON EVERY AISLE CATALINA'S INSIGHTS DRIVE AN AVERAGE SALES LIFT OF 16.8%
Get the nerd on your side.
From all of us, to all of America. At Unilever, we know there’s never been a more important time to stand united. That’s why our brands and employees are coming together to deliver food, hygiene and cleaning products, and other critical supplies to aid organizations like Feeding America® and Direct Relief. Visit our site to join in sending your support and gratitude to the volunteers working harder than ever to provide for those in need. Together, we will deliver hope to millions of Americans. Learn more at
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Contents 07. 20
Volume 99 Issue 7
Cover Story SUSTAINABILITY
The Sustainability Imperative The food industry takes action in a world of expanding opportunities.
23 Why Transparency Matters More Than Ever A new FMI report details opportunities for grocers.
34 Taking Stock of Sustainability
How sourcing, manufacturing and retailing are links in the same chain.
44 The New Sustainable Workforce Best practices for the age of corporate social justice.
Features 50 FEATURE
What Innovation Means Now
Kroger Builds on its Invisible Advantage
Digital Adoption to Cripple Print Promotions
20 retailers are redefining the grocery experience for the COVID-19 age.
The grocer is setting a new standard for precision and accountability.
Coupons.com founder offers a dire prediction.
12 NIELSEN’S SHELF STOPPERS
16 ALL’S WELLNESS
Preparing Kids’ Lunches and Snacks
6 EDITOR’S NOTE
Adjusting to a WorkFrom-Home World
14 MINTEL GLOBAL NEW PRODUCTS
Body Care and Deodorants
8 IN-STORE EVENTS CALENDAR
86 AHEAD OF WHAT’S NEXT
September 2020 10 MENU TRENDS
Build a Perimeter That’s ‘Better-for-You’ 4
85 EDITORS’ PICKS FOR INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS
3 Ways to Start Tackling America’s Broken Recycling System
8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 773-992-4450 Fax: 773-992-4455
www.ensembleiq.com GROCERY GROUP PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672 email@example.com
60 RETAIL FOODSERVICE INNOVATION
GROCERY GROUP EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Mike Troy 813-857-6512 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask a Chef
Wahlburgers Chef and co-founder Paul Wahlberg dishes on menu trends, retail relationships and how the restaurant chain has weathered COVID-19.
MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 347-962-9395 email@example.com SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Abby Kleckler 773-992-4405 firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR EDITOR Thad Rueter 773-418-8975 email@example.com CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Princess Jones Curtis, D. Gail Fleenor, Jenny McTaggart and Lynn Petrak
64 FRESH FOOD
The ABCs of Fall Produce
Kids may be learning from home when school begins, but they and their families can still fuel up on healthy fruits and veggies.
EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR Gina Acosta 813-417-4149 firstname.lastname@example.org
ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Nella Veldran (NEW ENGLAND, SOUTHEAST) 201-937-7972 email@example.com SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Theresa Kossack (MIDWEST, GA, FL) 214-226-6468 firstname.lastname@example.org
REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Tammy Rokowski (SOUTHWEST, MI) 248-514-9500 email@example.com JUNIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER-GROCERY GROUP Natalie Meehan p 773-992-4410 m 619 823-4926 firstname.lastname@example.org
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373 email@example.com
On the Move
CLASSIFIED PRODUCTION MANAGER Mary Beth Medley 856-809-0050 firstname.lastname@example.org
Nutrition bars and beverages aren’t just for dedicated athletes, but also for anyone who wants to eat better.
EVENTS VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS Michael Cronin email@example.com AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Marie Briganti 914-309-3378
SUBSCRIBER SERVICES/SINGLE-COPY PURCHASES Toll Free: 1-877-687-7321 Fax: 1-888-520-3608 firstname.lastname@example.org PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTION Derek Estey email@example.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Colette Magliaro firstname.lastname@example.org
74 PG PET
ADVERTISING/PRODUCTION MANAGER Jackie Batson 224-632-8183 email@example.com
ART DIRECTOR Bill Antkowiak firstname.lastname@example.org REPRINTS, PERMISSIONS AND LICENSING Wright’s Media email@example.com 877-652-5295
With the right merchandising, pet retail sales stand to gain during the global pandemic.
CORPORATE OFFICERS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Jennifer Litterick CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Jane Volland
Speed and Efficiency at the Curb
CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER Ann Jadown EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS & CONFERENCES Ed Several SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CONTENT Joe Territo
With e-commerce skyrocketing, food retailers are turning to technology to keep up. 82 SUPPLY CHAIN
Pandemic Playbook To survive in the age of COVID-19, retailers need to work toward building a more resilient supply chain.
CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER Tanner Van Dusen
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). 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 ©2020 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 Mike Troy
Adjusting to a Work-From-Home World hoppers have learned a lot of new behaviors since March. These range from wearing masks in public and social distancing to ordering food online, working from home and rediscovering cooking, or simply learning how to cook. Because so much is different about the way people live today, the question on every retailer’s mind is how we’ll live tomorrow. Which of our newly learned behaviors will stick and become the new normal, and which of our pre-COVID-19 behaviors will we resort to once a more effective treatment or a vaccine becomes available? There are more questions than answers at the midpoint of 2020, but there’s clarity regarding one huge driver of future behavior — the work-from-home phenomenon — to which it’s worth paying close attention. In a recent Gallup survey, more than 63% of people had worked from home as of mid-April. When they were asked about their preferences for going back to offices, the reaction was mixed. One-fourth said that they were ready to return, and another fourth said that they’d prefer to work from home until concerns about COVID-19 subside. But half said that they’d prefer to continue working from home even if returning were an option. That’s significant. In another survey, from the big office leasing firm Cushman & Wakefield, 73% of the workforce surveyed said that their companies should embrace some level of working from home.
Retailers’ strategies will need to adjust, because what worked in a world in which people trudged to and from work in the morning and evening won’t work in a nation experiencing a massive structural shift in where work gets done. And why not? After experiencing the flexibility and the productivity boost that typically occur when people begin working from home, along with the avoidance of fuel and parking costs, who wants to go back to a soul-crushing commute on a crowded highway, bus, train or subway? Remote work requires some adjustment for first-timers, and there can be some withdrawal 6 progressivegrocer.com
symptoms from the loss of camaraderie in an office environment at a company with a welcoming culture, but those sentiments tend to wane over time, especially as virtual technologies improve and provide a workable substitute for face-to-face interaction. Even those with pre-COVID-19 short commutes to nice offices can appreciate the advantages of working from home, even if only occasionally. The reason all of this matters to food retailers is that before the pandemic, many people were defined by their commute. It was reflected in lifestyle choices of where and when to shop, and whether to eat out, cook at home or order something for pickup. Anticipated commute times had to be factored into all sorts of decisions such as the start and end times of meetings, or the optimal time to drive to and from an office based on congestion. Over decades, these rhythms became normal and shaped shopping patterns, merchandising and marketing strategies, store staffing levels, and even supply chain decisions so truck routes could be timed to avoid peak congestion. Commuting patterns also affected the desirability of store locations, based on morning and evening traffic patterns. All of these factors, and plenty of others, are affected when a massive group of people stops doing one thing in favor of something completely different. Retailers’ strategies will need to adjust, because what worked in a world in which people trudged to and from work in the morning and evening won’t work in a nation experiencing a massive structural shift in where work gets done. If there’s one qualification to this thesis, it’s that effects on retailers will be proportional to how much of the workforce stays at home post-pandemic or works a blended schedule with occasional trips to the office. A major shift will happen, so it comes down to degree. This is a key area to watch in the next 12 to 18 months, because how the future of work ultimately shakes out will have a huge impact on the future of food retailing.
Mike Troy Editorial Director, Grocery Group mtroy@ensembleIQ.com
BIG INNOVATION From the Biggest Brands in the Store
Â© General Mills
Baby Safety Month Better Breakfast Day Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept.15-Oct.15)
National Chicken Month National Cholesterol Education Month National Honey Month National Mushroom Month
S M T W T F S
National Cherry Popover Day. Feature the baked treat in the in-store bakery.
World Coconut Day. Can you really put the lime in it? Ask shoppers for their favorite pairing flavors with this tropical favorite.
National Welsh Rarebit Day. Help revive this traditional dish by posting instructions on how to make it.
National Food Bank Day
National Cheese Pizza Day
National Macadamia Nut Day
National Tailgating Day
National Coffee Ice Cream Day. Make sure your freezer section has dairy and nondairy options available.
National Fried Rice Day
National Pecan Cookie Day
National Ice Cream Cone Day
National Snack Stick Day. Showcase cured meat nibbles of all kinds â€” and even alt-meat options.
National Lobster Day
National Pancake Day
National Peanut Day
National String Cheese Day
National Corned Beef Hash Day
National Chai Day
National Drink Beer Day
National Chocolate Milk Day
National Linguine Day. Provide a range of online recipes featuring this versatile flat pasta.
Family Health & Fitness Day USA National Coffee Day
Itâ€™s probably no accident that Mexican Independence Day is also National Guacamole Day.
National Hot Mulled Cider Day. Place on an end cap all of the ingredients to make this classic comforting beverage.
National Apple Dumpling Day. Host a virtual screening of the Disney movie including the beloved dessert in its title.
National Cherries Jubilee Day. Give tips on how home cooks can avoid setting their kitchens on fire.
National CreamFilled Doughnut Day. Encourage customers to snap them up by the dozen.
National TV Dinner Day. Swanson may have started it all, but spotlight your complete collection of frozen meals.
National Salami Day
National Celiac Awareness Day
National Wiener Schnitzel Day. Offer an online demo on how to prepare the Viennese specialty.
National Ants on a Log Day. Invite shoppers to share their own variations on this iconic healthy snack.
National Hot Cross Bun Day
National Cheeseburger Day. But what kind of cheese? Poll shoppers on their fave gooey toppings.
National Cooking Day
National Chocolate Milkshake Day. Challenge shoppers to make their own at home.
National Butterscotch Pudding Day. Have a prepared option ready for a bonus dessert with grab-and-go meals.
Better Breakfast Day
Research & Analysis
Build a Perimeter That’s ‘Better for You’ During shelter-in-place restrictions, 50% of consumers reported that they were eating/cooking healthier foods more often, which opens up an opportunity for grocers to make the most of a “healthier food” mindset. Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle highlights suggestions for exploring better-for-you options ranging from the novel (Inception) to the mainstream (Ubiquity). Let’s investigate some better-for-you foods and ingredients with versatile applications making an impact with consumers in search of healthy halos to build a better-for-you grocery perimeter. Source: Datassential MenuTrends 2020 and FLAVOR
Açai MAC stage: Inception – International markets, global independents and fine dining. Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation and presentation. Hailing from Central and South America, these small bright-purple berries are the superstars of better-foryou foods. Açai has taken off on menus in smoothies, smoothie bowls and beverages. Consumed as juice, in smoothies or even as an inclusion in breakfast options, the fruit lends a healthy halo with a premium touch. On nearly 3% of U.S. restaurant menus
Farro MAC stage: Adoption – Ethnic aisle at supermarkets, casual independents, fast casual. Adoption-stage trends grow their base via lower price points and simpler prep methods. Still differentiated, these trends often feature premium and/or generally authentic ingredients. Like quinoa and amaranth, farro is an ancient grain that has found its place with a modern, healthconscious audience through its nutty, wheaty, slightly sweet taste and a chewy, al dente texture. Upgrade starches, grains and salads in hot and cold cases with farro paired with vegetables and tossed with dressing.
Beet MAC stage: Proliferation – Proliferation-stage trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal. Often combined with popular applications (on a burger, pasta, etc.) Many consumers are familiar with these dark-purple roots and see them throughout the perimeter, but beets are now gaining traction on menus for their pop of color and healthoriented associations. Heirloom varieties, which can be orange, yellow or red, add interest to salads, spreads and even breakfast offerings. On 19% of U.S. restaurant menus
On 4% of U.S. restaurant menus
Up 19% over the past four years
Up 48% on menus over the past four years
89% of consumers know it/ 60% have tried it
24% of consumers know it / 11% have tried it
Menu Example First Watch Brilliant Beet Toast Whole grain artisan toast topped with beet hummus, fresh avocado, pickled onions, diced red beets, lemondressed arugula and herbed goat cheese
Up 10% over the past four years 61% of consumers know it/ 34% have tried it Menu Example Blenders & Bowls The Chilled Berry Açai, strawberries, bananas, apple juice blended and topped with hemp granola, strawberries, blueberries, goji berries and local honey
Hummus MAC stage: Ubiquity – Ubiquity-stage trends have reached maturity, and can be found across all sectors of the food industry. Though often diluted by this point, their inception-stage roots are still recognizable. This healthy spread has hit a point of ubiquity with its presence on mainstream menus of quickservice restaurants to grocery perimeters. At its core, hummus is relatively straightforward in preparation – mashed chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic – but operators are generating interest through inclusions, toppings and side offerings for scooping, dipping and spreading. On 15.5% of U.S. menus
Menu Example Lenwich Spring Bowl Salad Mixed quinoa and farro, kale, grilled chicken, apple, grilled zucchini, blue cheese, dried cranberry and almonds, with balsamic vinaigrette
Up 23% over the past four years 86% of consumers know it/ 58% have tried it Menu Example Pret A Manger Moroccan Hummus Pot Pot of chickpeas, roasted peppers, harissa and hummus, topped with almonds, cilantro and lemon
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*IRI Total US All Outlet 52 Wks End 4-19-20 / Consumer Sensory Study Q1 2020
Frozen Vegetables TOTAL FROZEN VEGETABLE SALES REACHED $2.97 BILLION IN THE PAST YEAR
Beverages(52 weeks ending April 2, 2016)
Total Category Performance Latest 52 Wks W/E 3/28/20
Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 3/30/19
Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 3/31/18
Top 5 Beverage Categories by Dollar Sales Soft Drinks
How much is the Consumers chose average American frozen broccoli over alternatives for household a variety of reasons: spending per trip on various beverage items 12% because versus theit’syearquick and easy ago period?
because it tastes great 10,000,000,000
Spotlight on Frozen Broccoli
WHEN ARE CONSUMERS EATING FROZEN BROCCOLI? Broccoli as an ingredient is most commonly consumed at dinner, followed by lunch.
0 Latest 52 Wks W/E 3/28/20
Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 3/30/19
Frozen broccoli is most often used in a side dish, followed by as a main entrée. 3% Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 3/31/18
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 May 23, 2020OCCASION MEAL ITEM 29% TYPE CLASS 62% 35% 61% Total beverage sales continue to grow year over year, with annual sales from the end of May up 6.8% compared to a year ago. While the top contributors to category growth are soft drinks (up 7.0%), water (up 5.0%) and energy beverages (up 9.7%), we are LUNCH to alcoholic OTHER beverages. SIDE DISH the MAIN ENTRÉE in OTHER also seeing growth in categoriesDINNER that are adjacent Despite decline on-premise sales due to COVID-19 restrictions, alcohol is up 11.0% as consumers shift their occasions to at-home consumption. Adjacent beverage categories like tonic water (up 19.5%), lemon/lime juice (up 13.0%) and club soda (up 12.2%) are benefiting from the rise in alcohol sales. As consumers continue to make mindful decisions on where and how they consume alcohol, there is an opportunity for beverage categories to align themselves with the growing trends.”
—Katie Hazlett, associate manager - global client delivery, Nielsen
because it’s healthy and nutritious
on beverages, up 3.6%
because it’s low in calories, fat and sugar
$6.65 on soft drinks, up 3.7%
$4.72 on fruit juice, up 1.2%
Generational Snapshot Which cohort is spending, on average, the most per trip on soft drinks?
$4.41 on water, up 0.7%
The Greatest Generation
Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending April 25, 2020
Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending April 25, 2020
“WHEN YOUR DRIVERS ARE NO-SHOWS, I GRAB MY KEYS.” RANDALL RHODES MARKET LEAD DRIVER
You can’t sell produce you don’t have. These days, retailers either have too many trailers or too few drivers, delaying perishables from delivery. So when a retailer had 10 truckloads of fresh produce and no drivers, Randall and his team quickly subbed in for their drivers, letting the retailer avoid delays and empty shelves. The produce was all delivered, ripe and on time.
CanDoDoneDaily.com for the full story Del Monte word mark and the Del Monte Shield Logo are registered trademarks used under license from Del Monte Foods, Inc. © 2020 Del Monte International GmbH . All rights reserved.
MINTEL CATEGORY INSIGHTS
Global New Products Database
Body Care and Deodorants Marketing Overview
Body care and deodorant sales remain on a slow trajectory, reaching $6.5 billion in total retail sales in 2019, a 3.4% increase from 2018. Mintel predicts that the market will continue to experience slow yet steady growth, increasing sales 15% from 2019 to 2024. Traditional body care products (e.g., hand cream and body cream) are significantly more likely to be used than specialized products (e.g., in-shower lotion).
Specialized body care is usually intended to reach a more engaged consumer base, which is a smaller portion of the general population. This creates challenges for brands looking to boost sales by expanding product offerings.
Many body care consumers donâ€™t see value in product innovation, indicating challenges for brands trying to encourage consumers to try anything beyond the basics.
Consumers age 18-24 are less likely than the average to agree that quality is more important than price. This group is also more likely than average to say that they mostly buy whatever products are on sale, regardless of brand, which further supports price-conscious shopping.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.MINTEL.COM OR CALL 800-932-0400
What Does It Mean? Price-conscious shopping indicates challenges for brands and retailers trying to sway younger adults to trade up to premium options. If brands incorporate unique formats or benefits that are typically found in facial skin care products into body care products, it could help persuade consumers to look beyond the functional nature of the category. Highlighting both performance claims and natural ingredients will continue to help deodorants stand out in a mature market.
Sales increase in 2019
ALL’S WELLNESS By Diane Quagliani
Preparing Kids’ Lunches and Snacks FOOD RE TAILERS CAN HELP PARENTS COPE DURING COVID-19. s fall approaches, “uncertain” is the best way to describe the coming school year as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic linger. Will students be back in the classroom, continue e-learning from home, or participate in a hybrid of the two? And just where and how will students get fed during the school day? These questions affect parents and retailers alike.
Challenges All Around
No matter how the coming school year plays out, parents and other caregivers will continue to face the challenge of fueling children with a steady supply of nutritious and appealing lunches and snacks. Students returning to the classroom can expect significant changes while eating at school. Foodservice may be limited or absent, meaning that some parents will pack lunches and snacks more often than ever before. Kids who e-learn from home are probably ready for new options after months of repetition due to parents’ limited shopping trips and the unavailability of some foods. In addition, parents who are strapped for time and money will seek ideas that are convenient and economical. Although more home-prepared school lunches and snacks benefit retailers, certain challenges make program planning difficult. Traditional in-store “lunch-packing” promotions and vendor partnerships could remain curtailed due to supply issues, holds on sampling and demos, and persistent lasting changes in consumer shopping behavior, such as making fewer trips to the store and opting for pickup or delivery. Shoppers may remain fearful of foods handled by others, such as produce, prepared foods and bulk-bin foods.
Retailers and Dietitians as Resources
Whatever this fall’s school scenario, retailers and retail dietitians can team up to help parents prepare easy lunches and snacks that are safe, nutritious and fun. Following are a few ideas: Use digital channels to promote products and provide helpful ideas for shoppers with different needs. For instance, retail dietitians can help develop healthful lunch and snack ideas with companion shopping lists customized for both at-home and packed meals, and offer creative substitutions for popular lunch foods and ingredients that are still hard to find. Cater to shopper behavior. For parents who want to stock up to minimize in-store contact, focus ideas on shelf-stable sandwich favorites like nut butters and canned tuna, as well as frozen foods and individually packaged items. Consider promotional tie-ins with vendors to offer kits containing a supply of staple lunch and snack
Whatever this fall’s school scenario, retailers and retail dietitians can team up to help parents prepare easy lunches and snacks that are safe, nutritious and fun. components for pickup or delivery. Provide recipes and tips for thrifty new ways to stretch foods like peanut butter and hummus, and for makeahead meals for the freezer. Refresh on food safety. Reassuring shoppers about in-store COVID-19-related safety measures is important, but so are standard food safety practices. Remind parents about basics like handwashing, avoiding cross-contamination and keeping packed foods in the safe temperature zone. Suggest using insulated thermoses and cold packs, and including individually packaged hand wipes or small bottles of hand sanitizer in lunchboxes.
Diane Quagliani, MBA, RDN, LDN, specializes in nutrition communications for consumer and health professional audiences. She has assisted national retailers and CPGs with nutrition strategy, web content development, trade show exhibiting, and the creation and implementation of shelf tag programs.
Spark Change Join Natural Products Expo on a journey of what’s next in product discovery and mission-driven business. Natural Products Expo’s Spark Change initiative is based on the powerful concept of Innovation for Good and offers unique experiences and content that will connect and inspire the marketplace. Through a series of digital events and community-building engagement opportunities, Natural Products Expo’s Spark Change will provide our partners with the platforms to showcase their products and tell their stories. Our audience will conduct meaningful business, make connections and discoveries, and gain knowledge around key industry topics.
Spark Change is about digital product discovery, education, and connection. It is a platform for 2020 and beyond. How will YOU spark change? Programming will start in August; stay tuned for details on registration.
By Informa Markets
THE SUSTAINABILITY IMPERATIVE The food industry takes action in a world of expanding opportunities. By Mike Troy
he phrase “We’re in this together” has been heard a lot this year. Back in March and April, it served as a message of encouragement related to COVID-19, because people were implored to stay home, wear masks and practice social distancing. The collective efforts of a nation were needed to slow the spread of a deadly virus. The fight against COVID-19 was ongoing when a different fight broke out. In late May, the “this” that required togetherness centered on the pursuit of racial equality and social justice. That’s not a new fight by any means, but one that took on tremendous intensity and urgency in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Battling these common enemies — a new virus on one hand and an old sickness on the other — inspired swift and unprecedented actions by companies and individuals within the food retailing universe. These efforts and the desire to make a difference in the world represent a fundamental shift in the way that companies operate and view their role in society. That’s why the phrase “We’re in this together” takes on such a larger meaning; there’s a lot of “this” in the world that requires a large degree of unity to make progress. There are many distinct challenges facing societies globally and in the United States, but they tend to roll up nicely under an umbrella of sustainability. There are now many dimensions to sustainability that go far beyond the classical definition, which leaned toward environmental issues. Recycling programs, package reduction, the elimination of harmful chemicals and the use of alternative energy sources such as solar power were the low-hanging fruit of
the early sustainability movement at retail. Initiatives in these areas were straightforward and process-oriented, so seemingly small changes could be undertaken and the impact easily measured once a baseline had been accurately established against which progress could be tracked. However, the definition of sustainability and the roles of retailers and their trading partners have morphed into something far more expansive than simply selling product at the highest possible margin and lowest operating cost to maximize profit. Broadly speaking, many retailers have become purpose-driven organizations, or are in the process of doing so. That’s because consumers increasingly expect the retailers with which they do business to stand for something and clearly communicate what that something is. Consumers want to be “in this together,” for whatever dimension of sustainability “this” represents for a specific retailer or manufacturer.
To see how organizations have expanded their view of sustainability and taken specific actions against a broad range of causerelated initiatives has been remarkable.
This has been one of the more notable shifts in retail during the past decade. To see how organizations have expanded their view of sustainability and taken specific actions against a broad range of cause-related initiatives has been remarkable. For example, companies that used to publish annual sustainability reports dealing largely with environmental matters now create wider-ranging reports that encompass environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters. These ESG reports take a more holistic view of sustainability and are used to signal a company’s priorities and accomplishments in a world of ever greater transparency, a world where good works are expected and misdeeds, no matter how isolated, are easily amplified. This latter point can put at risk a company’s fa-
vorable reputation, built over decades of consistent execution. It may not be fair to an organization that has long done things the right way, but that’s the reality in the age of social media, where a single voice with a grievance to air is amplified and a reasoned discussion may not be possible amid the shouts of anonymous commenters. This is the environment in which food retailers now operate, and it’s a demanding place. Food retailing was already hard — harder than any other type of retail — but now it’s imperative for retailers to let their values be known. After all, it’s those values, and how they come to life against the different dimensions of sustainability, that are setting the new standard for success. The phrase “We’re in this together” can sound trite and hollow if overused. But when it comes to sustainability and the role of food retailers, truer words have never been spoken. PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
At Hormel Foods, we are on a Food Journey.TM We believe that food has the power to bring people together. To heal hearts and minds. To feed our souls. To inspire us to create, solve problems and be intentional as we create a better world for this generation and future ones. We believe in a just and equitable country and world, and we want to contribute to that vision while doing what we do best: making great food. Our team of inspired people, 20,000 strong, is a collection of innovators and foodies, scientists and entrepreneurs, advocates and ambassadors, working together to build a distinctly diﬀerent type of company, one that truly understands our position in the world and the diﬀerence we can make in it. And making a diﬀerence we are – from food security to food waste and environmental stewardship, we are taking on causes and issues that matter most to our customers, our fans and this planet. We are fueling ideas and partnerships – using our resources to be the change-maker we know we should be. And while we are at it, we are sharing some love with those who need it the most. After all – food is love.
CUISINE NUTRITION & RECOVERY
Hormel Foods continues to be recognized for its eﬀorts, including as a World’s Best Employer by Forbes, as one of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens by 3BL Media and as the eighth best in the consumer foods products category on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies, among many others. Learn more about our journey at hormelfoods.com.
A Food Journey to a Better Place Environmental sustainability and hunger relief are two paths on Hormel Foods’ overarching Food Journey that connects the world’s population with affordable, safe, nutritious and delicious foods. We talked with corporate responsibility experts at Hormel Foods about the role of sustenance and sustainability in the march forward to make the world a better place. Progressive Grocer: What are some cornerstones of your sustainability efforts? Tom Raymond, Director of Environmental Sustainability: Efficiency and waste reduction have been embedded in our programs for decades, with reported programs dating back to the 1930s. We were one of the first in the industry to create a position that focuses on sustainability and put initiatives into action in the supply chain. One of the great evolutions of our company’s sustainability programs has been increased stakeholder engagement. People like facts and figures but they also need to see concrete examples of improvement and meet people involved in some of these efforts. PG: What are some highlights of the company’s progress toward greater sustainability? TR: We set 10% reduction goals for 2012 to 2020 after coming off our first goal set that went from 2006 to 2011. We met our first 10% goal for solid waste in 2014 and also met our water goal early. Our energy goal was the next goal to be achieved in 2018, and we continue to make great strides on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. For example, we recently completed construction of an on-site solar array at our Swiss American Sausage Company facility in California. We have also implemented a Sustainable Agriculture Policy that applies to our suppliers, contract animal producers and feed grain growers, and helped form a public-private partnership to provide farmers with tools and resources to address water quality for a watershed covering our major manufacturing facility in Austin, Minn.
PG: How is hunger relief also part of the Hormel Foods Food Journey? Kelly Braaten, Corporate Responsibility Communications and Charitable Giving Manager, Hormel Foods: Donating to communities around the world, including areas where we have operations, is another way we are working together to make the world a better place. Our focus areas for our giving are hunger, education and supporting communities where we operate. Prior to COVID-19, we worked with several national partners such as Feeding America, Convoy of Hope and Conscious Alliance, as well as local food pantries in our communities. As COVID-19 took off, we donated more than $1 million in cash and product donations and another 1 million meals. We also have given $10,000 to each of our plants to share for relief in their areas. We look at requests daily and fine tune the process to make sure we are helping as many people as possible, such as an effort here in Austin, Minn., to buy 300 meals a day from local restaurants. We donate these meals to senior citizens in the community and they are delivered by employees of our SPAM® Museum that has been closed during the shelter-in-place period. Those are just some examples of innovations in corporate responsibility. In all aspects, from the environment to hunger relief, we continually try to find ways to advance our efforts and make an impact.
To learn more about the Hormel Foods Food journey, visit https://www.hormelfoods.com/responsibility.
WHY TRANSPARENCY MATTERS MORE THAN EVER A new FMI report details opportunities for grocers.
he acceleration of online grocery shopping during the pandemic has presented grocery retailers with a unique opportunity to build shopper trust at a time when shoppers are scrutinizing food retailers and consumer packaged goods companies more than ever before. Pandemic shoppers are demanding that retailers and suppliers be more transparent in their corporate sustainability practices, and especially when it comes to what’s in their food. According to a new report from FMI - The Food Industry Association and Label Insight, “Transparency Trends: Omnichannel Grocery Shopping from the Consumer Perspective,” 81% of shoppers say that transparency is important or extremely important to them now more than ever before.
IMPORTANCE OF TRANSPARENCY
15% Somewhat Important
3% 1% Not Important
Not Important at all
45% Extremely Important
By Gina Acosta
Key Takeaways A new report from FMI and Label Insight has found that transparency is highly important to most consumers. Shoppers have higher transparency expectations of online grocers than of brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers and suppliers can leverage consumers’ desire for transparency and sustainability into higher sales.
“It’s one thing to know consumers want transparency; it’s another thing to act on it. We’re seeing more and more that providing detailed product information is key to building trust and loyalty with consumers,” says Tim Whiting, VP of marketing at Chicago-based Label Insight. “Moving forward, brands will need to continue to listen better to their customers, continuously update their online and in-store content to keep pace with changing consumer preferences, and be an open book when it comes to their products so that they can maintain and grow market share.” Transparency is increasingly important in omnichannel shopper buying decisions, the report shows, but it plays out somewhat differently depending on the shopping platform used. How do omnichannel shoppers determine whether
Continued on page 26
Source: FMI - The Food Industry Association and Label Insight, “Transparency Trends: Omnichannel Grocery Shopping from the Consumer Perspective.”
of shoppers say that transparency is important or extremely important to them now more than ever before. PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
Waves of Change:
Bumble Bee Launches New Actions to IMPROVE OCEAN HEALTH Just as oceans are vast, diverse and changing with weather and climate, so, too is the movement to protect them. Mike Kraft, Vice President of Global Sustainability and Social Responsibility for the Bumble Bee Seafood Company, talks about how Bumble Bee is redefining sustainability to ensure the health of the world’s Mike Kraft
through our funding of the third phase of the Indonesia Ghost Gear Prevention, Retrieval, and Net Recycling Program. PG: How are you bringing consumers
along with you on this journey?
oceans, both on an everyday basis and into the future.
Progressive Grocer: What does
sustainability mean to Bumble Bee Seafood Company in 2020? Mike Kraft: Our sustainability journey started many years ago, and while we are proud of our initiatives, including our role in the formation of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, now is the time to accelerate actions. Bumble Bee recently announced a $40 million commitment over the next five years towards efforts that will further restore and protect the health of the world’s oceans. We believe it is the right thing to do for the planet, for the billions of people who rely on seafood for sustenance and for the long-term success of our business, and we were
honored to partner with World Oceans Day to commemorate the launch of this new initiative. PG: What are some specific actions
that will be put into place to safeguard our oceans? MK: There are several components to this initiative. For example, we recently partnered with FCF Co., Ltd, Bumble Bee’s new owner, and Ocean Outcomes to launch a longline albacore Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) in the Indian Ocean. This first-of-its-kind work in this region is designed to move the fishery towards the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard that ensures the abundance of the target albacore stock, mitigates the impact of fishing on other species and certifies the fishery is monitored and well-managed. By 2022, we plan to source 100 percent of our light meat tuna from MSC-certified fisheries, and by 2023, all longline albacore will come from a credible FIP. In addition, we are excited to expand our partnership with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative
MK: Earlier this year, Bumble Bee became the first and only major seafood company to enter into the plant-based protein sector through a joint distribution venture with Good Catch Foods. We recognize that wild-capture fisheries alone won’t be able to deliver enough seafood protein to meet growing demand and to feed a global population of 10 billion by 2050. Providing people with alternative ways to enjoy ocean-inspired food is a key pillar to our commitment to ocean health. Also, our customers may notice we will be eliminating plastic shrink on our canned tuna multipacks, as we move toward 98 percent recyclable packaging by 2025. And a percentage of sales from our MSC certified Wild Selections line continues to support the World Wildlife Fund’s ocean conservation efforts that protect marine life and expand sustainable fishing practices. Since 2014, that has added up to $1 million.
For more information on Bumble Bee and its full line of seafood and specialty protein products, visit www.BumbleBee.com. For more details on the company and its sustainability programs, visit TheBumbleBeeCompany.com.
Sustainability Continued from page 23
a brand or manufacturer is being transparent? Shoppers told FMI and Label Insight that the most important areas for transparency include ingredients, certifications and in-depth information about the nutrition of products: Most omnichannel shoppers consider whether brands and
manufacturers provide a complete list of ingredients (62%) and/or if the description of ingredients is in plain English (53%). Shoppers also look for more detailed information about ingredients, such as sourcing details (38%) or an explanation of what the ingredients are used for (32%). Almost one-half of shoppers (48%) say that providing
certifications, such as USDA Organic, is an indication that a brand or manufacturer is being transparent. Many shoppers (47%) determine transparency based on
a brand or manufacturer providing in-depth nutritional information. In addition, some shoppers look for information on allergens (35%) or product claims such as heart healthy (29%). To a lesser degree, shoppers look for information about
how products are produced (39%); values-based information such as animal welfare, Fair Trade and labor practices (35%); or facts about sustainability practices (29%). Shoppers are also placing a lot of responsibility for transparency on manufacturers, brands and government institutions, but they often don’t trust the information provided, the data shows. Responsibility for transparency is met with distrust. Sixty-one percent of omnichannel shoppers believe that manufacturers, brands or government institutions are completely responsible for providing detailed product information; however, fewer than one-half of shoppers completely trust product information from manufacturers and brands (41%), or from government institutions (46%). Shoppers have higher transparency expectations of online grocers compared with brick-and-mortar stores, according to the report. In fact, there’s a greater desire for information about products when shopping online versus in store. Some shoppers, for example, are seeking information about allergens, and use online filters for this purpose. Shopping based on a specific allergy is an example of an activity that many shoppers find easier or just as easy to do online versus in store.
of shoppers believe that online grocery retailers should be responsible for providing detailed product information, compared with brick-and-mortar grocers (35%).
“Pre-pandemic, online shoppers expressed a desire for expanded features that would enable search capabilities, exploration and better ways to compare products. The analysis helps food retailers prioritize how consumers want to engage with them and their brands in an authentic way,” says Doug Baker, VP, industry relations at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. Online experiences could be improved through better product selection, more and better product information, and more accurate search functionality, the report shows. Online expectations for transparency are higher than for brick-and-mortar stores. Forty-two percent of shoppers believe that online grocery retailers should be responsible for providing detailed product information, compared with brickand-mortar grocers (35%). About their experiences shopping online: Most omnichannel shoppers (78%) can cite at
least one product category that they wouldn’t purchase online. In fact, omnichannel shoppers cite an average of more than four product categories that they wouldn’t purchase online. Meat and seafood (48%), fruits and vegetables
(43%), deli (40%), dairy (38%), and bread, bakery or baked goods (32%) are the most frequently mentioned products that omnichannel shoppers wouldn’t purchase online. Frozen food is also a product type that many
omnichannel shoppers (38%) say that they wouldn’t purchase online. Shoppers are highly focused on buying products for diets, and this leads to a lot of online searches for more information, especially as part of e-commerce activities. Despite this, shoppers find it harder to obtain this type of information during online shopping as compared with in store, according to the report. More shoppers are sticking to a diet or health-related eating program in 2020 (64%) than in 2018 (49%), and their shopping behaviors are affected even more by food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities than two years ago, with 44% indicating this in 2018, versus 55% in 2020. Some information gathering is easier during online shopping than in store. This is especially true for new product discovery and learning stories about products. Consumers go online to get more information. When met with a need to get more detailed product information or to clarify questions, shoppers turn to the internet. Forty-seven percent of shoppers will choose to research ingredients online in the face of confusion, and 89% would be more likely to seek details on a product if it offered more online information.
Sustainability Shoppers like the expanded features that retailers are adding to online shopping platforms — especially for search, exploring packages, and digital coupons and promotions. However, online experiences could be further improved through better product selection, more and better product information, and more accurate search functionality, FMI notes. As for how retailers and suppliers can leverage all of these sustainability trends into higher sales, the report offers ideas for next steps on transparency efforts. Here are six key recommendations from FMI: Accelerate Transparency: Manufacturers and brands
have opportunities to further enhance transparency in ways that boost trust for omnichannel shoppers. This is especially important given that shoppers consider these stakeholders largely responsible for transparency, but don’t always trust the information that they provide.
Emphasize User Experience: Focus on online user
experience as an opportunity to cement consumer loyalty and gain new shoppers spanning different channels. Boost Health-and-Wellness-Related Details:
The report points to shoppers’ interest in finding information about allergies and intolerances. At a time when shoppers are heavily focused on diets and health, enhancing transparency that supports these needs represents a huge opportunity to cater to consumers. Advance Product Information: Other trans-
parency opportunities to improve the online shopping experience include better product selection, more and better product information, and more accurate search functionality.
Prioritize Online: It’s an especially good time to advance
transparency in online shopping, especially in the wake of the pandemic, as e-commerce grows in usage. This is particularly important because transparency expectations are higher for e-commerce than in store.
Enable Item Comparisons: Product comparisons
should be a particular focus of online grocery in boosting transparency. Retailers need to make it easier to accomplish this.
DETERMINING TRANSPARENCY Provides a complete list of ingredients Provides a plain-English description of ingredients Provides certification (such as USDA Organic) Provides in-depth nutritional information Provides information about how products are produced Provides information about how ingredients are sourced Provides value-based information such as animal welfare, Fair Trade or labor practices Provides all allergen information Provides an explanation of what the ingredients are used for Provides claims (such as heart healthy) Provides sustainability practices Other
62% 53% 48% 47% 39% 38% 35% 35% 32% 29% 29%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Source: FMI - The Food Industry Association and Label Insight, “Transparency Trends: Omnichannel Grocery Shopping from the Consumer Perspective.”
Five Common Questions About Farmed Chilean Salmon answered by some of the world’s most notable authorities on food and health. WHY DO WE NEED FARMED SALMON? Farmed seafood provides half of all the fish we eat in the world and is critically important to relieving pressure on wild fisheries and oceans.1 If we attempt to pull that amount of seafood out of wild fisheries, we will be depleting sea life species that are important to ensuring a healthy ocean.
The farming of fish, also known as aquaculture, reduces pressure on certain overstressed wild stocks and is key to solving this pressing environmental challenge.
OF WORLD FISHERIES OVEREXPLOITED2
100% OF NATURAL FISHERIES DEPLETED2
IS FARMED SALMON AS HEALTHY AS WILD SALMON? Yes. Nutritionally, farmed salmon and wild salmon have been shown to offer the same overall nutritional value, though farmed salmon has a higher content of key nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids compared to most wild salmon.3 Farmed salmon is a staple of healthy and affordable diets around the world.2
IS THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF SALMON FARMING WELL MANAGED? Chilean salmon farmers work hard to ensure fish are raised sustainably, while minimizing impact on the environment.4 This is in compliance with federal guidelines, industry standards, and recommendations shared by NGOs like the World Wildlife Fund.5, 6
HOW DOES FARMED SALMON GET ITS BRIGHT COLOR? Both farmed and wild salmon get their coloring from food sources containing antioxidant-rich astaxanthin. Crustaceans — a dietary staple for wild salmon — are rich in astaxanthin, which is also added to the feed of farmed salmon to give them their color and keep them healthy.
IS FARMED SALMON MORE OR LESS SUSTAINABLE THAN OTHER ANIMAL PROTEINS? Farmed salmon is one of the most sustainable animal proteins. A common gauge of environmental impact is its feed conversion ratio (FCR), the estimated food required to gain one pound of body mass. Of all the animal proteins, fish are the most efficient at converting protein.7
Feed Conversion Ratio ESTIMATED FEED REQUIRED TO GAIN ONE POUND OF BODY MASS
FARMED ATLANTIC SALMON
Fund, W. (n.d.). Farmed Seafood. Retrieved July 2019, from https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/farmed-seafood
International Salmon Farmers Association 2018 Report. (n.d.). Retrieved July, 2019, from https://sjomatnorge.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ISFA-Report-2018-FINAL-FOR-WEB.pdf
Cahu, C., Salen, P., & De Lorgeril, M. (2004). Farmed and wild fish in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases: Assessing possible differences in lipid nutritional values. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 14(1), 34-41. Retrieved July, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0939475304800450.
The fishery and aquaculture sectors in Chile (Rep.). (2010, August). Retrieved July, 2019, from Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) website: https://web.archive.org/ web/20100813190353/http://www.embassyofchile.se/espanol/Documentos/Pesca_Acuic_Fishery_Aquac_BD.pdf
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2018 Report on the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. (n.d.). Retrieved July, 2019, from http://www.fao.org/3/i9540en/I9540EN.pdf
WWF Farmed Salmon. (n.d.). Retrieved July, 2019, from https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/farmed-salmon
Bourne, J., Jr. (n.d.). How to Farm a Better Fish. National Geographic. Retrieved July, 2019, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/aquaculture/
Visit us at ChileanSalmon.org to learn more about the delicious, nutritious, sustainably-raised salmon from the Patagonian region of Chile. Follow us:
Chilean Salmon Marketing Council
© 2020 The Chilean Salmon Marketing Council. All rights reserved.
IS SI O
PASTURE RAISED EGGS FOR A BETTER WORLD George Weaver IV Marketing and Brand Specialist Utopihen Farms Progressive Grocer: How does the Utopihen Farms line of pasture raised eggs give new meaning to the farmto-table journey of wholesome foods? George Weaver IV: We started the new Utopihen Farms brand because we are on a journey to make the world a better, more sustainable place. We consider our hens to be as much our partners in this endeavor as the farmers we work with, the retailers who carry us and the consumers who enjoy our eggs. That’s why our core message is “join us on the journey” — it’s not a mission one person or one company can accomplish alone. To succeed it requires everyone working together, and that’s what Utopihen Farms is all about — creating tomorrow together. One part of the journey begins in the pastures of the farmers who provide our eggs. These family farms have very small ﬂocks of 1,000 to 3,000 birds. Each chicken has 110 square feet of space to spread their wings — two feet more than the Certiﬁed Humane standard — and their eggs are typically hand-gathered from the nest. So if you can’t raise hens or ducks in your own backyard, you can have Utopihen eggs.
PG: How does the Utopihen Farms brand continue a tradition of stewardship and sustainability? GW IV: Sustainability and care for hens and planet have been central to our family’s legacy for over 55 years. I’m the fourthgeneration George Weaver, and since my great-grandfather started the egg business, we have done the best we can to carry on a commitment to wellness and sustainability. More than 30 years ago, my grandfather introduced the ﬁrst proven lab-certiﬁed low-cholesterol egg which he achieved in part by adjusting the lighting in the henhouse. We were also one of the ﬁrst to bring an organic egg to market under the vision of my grandfather, George Weaver Jr, and then my father, George Weaver III, also took us from cage free to free range and pasture raised.
What’s new is how we are taking Utopihen Farms’ promise “To Make Change Happen” beyond the farm and making the journey real. In fact, we’re launching this brand with a literal journey — a road trip — where we’ll be partnering with consumers and retailers to clean up spaces in the areas where we deliver our eggs. We also plan to support our consumers in making the positive changes they want to see in the world. In fact, our soon-to-launch full website will have a place where consumers can share their own ideas for change.
PG: What kinds of products are in this line and how will you be working with retailers and consumers? GW IV: The Utopihen Farms line includes our original pasture raised eggs, organic pasture raised eggs, soy-free pasture raised eggs and pasture raised duck eggs, all packaged in cartons made of 100% recycled materials. Beyond being better for the planet, pasture raised eggs are better for you, in that there is more nutrition in eggs laid by hens that freely feed in natural surroundings, plus our organic pasture raised hens are fed a wholly organic diet and, of course, our soyfree eggs are perfect for those with soy allergies or anyone who doesn’t want soy in their diet for any number of reasons. With the debut of Utopihen Farms 100% pasture-raised eggs, we are forming new partnerships with retailers and consumers. Among other plans, we would like to invite them on literal road trips to help us make improvements in areas of need. Ultimately, the overall and vision of this brand is beyond the egg and the farms — we hope to have this community and the people who care about what they eating make a diﬀerence in the world at large.
Now, led by our third and fourth generations, we are launching a movement with the Utopihen Farms brand. It starts with 100% pasture raised eggs and a collective, concerted eﬀort to make the world a better place. For example, we use solar panels on our buildings, our workforce is 50% female and we’re continuing our tradition of giving back to communities to help them improve their own sustainability and quality of life.
To learn more about Utopihen Farms, its mission and its new line of 100% pasture raised eggs, visit https://utopihenfarms.com/.
TAKING STOCK OF SUSTAINABILITY How sourcing, manufacturing and retailing are links in the same chain.
W By Lynn Petrak
hen talking sustainability, one of the most obvious and traditional dimensions is the use of environmentally friendly practices. In the farm-to-fork, fieldto-table chain, those practices span the responsible use of land, water, air and energy, and the effort to curtail waste in its many forms. It’s about the health of the planet and, by innate association, the people who call it home. For those who produce and sell food, the facets of eco-responsibility are often driven by their own desire to protect the planet and those who share it. It’s often been said that food providers have the biggest stake in stewardship and a healthy environment, given that their livelihoods and future depend on it. Efforts are helped along by a consumer base that’s increasingly interested in — and often demanding — earth-friendly actions as a way to protect and conserve resources and blunt the effects of climate change. An overwhelming majority — 88% — of consumers surveyed in a poll for Futerra by One Pulse said that they would like brands to help them be more environmentally friendly and ethical in their daily lives. In a study conducted by Nielsen, 81% of global respondents said that it’s very or extremely important that companies implement programs to help the environment. Lining up with those numbers, Innova Market
Key Takeaways Studies show that consumers are concerned about sustainability issues such as environmental health and food waste — even in the midst of a pandemic. Grocers are taking a multifaceted approach to sustainability, addressing its various dimensions by procuring and promoting sustainable products for shoppers, and changing their way of doing business. U.S. companies can gain inspiration from abroad in making e-commerce and other areas of business more eco-friendly.
Eco-improvements in the egg industry include better use of natural resources, disease control and a new hen house design. Source: The American Egg Board
Insights found that 85% of consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom expect companies to invest in sustainability in the next year or so. But will shoppers invest in sustainable products? A study from IBM for the National Retail Federation, released earlier this year, showed that more than 70% of consumers would pay a premium of 35% for brands that are seen as environmentally responsible. That research also confirmed that every age group cites sustainability and environmental and personal wellness as important attributes when choosing brands and products. The proof is in the organic, Fair Trade or vegan pudding when it comes to some purchase behaviors. Research from New York University, using data from IRI, found that half of CPG growth from 2013 to 2018 came from products marketed as sustainable. Based on its own insights, Nielsen projected that shoppers will spend up to $150 billion on sustainable products by 2021. Even as the novel coronavirus has overtaken headlines and become the focus of much of the food and retail industry, consumers remain concerned about sustainability, especially food waste. According to the U.S. Grocery Trends COVID-19 Tracker, released by FMI – the Food Industry Association, 37% of grocery shoppers say that they’re more successful in avoiding food waste now than before the pandemic. FMI, along with the Consumer Brands Association and National Restaurant Association, continues to work with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance to divert food waste from landfills and cut down on the amount of food waste generated. The pandemic has revealed some vulnerabilities in the current food chain and opened the door to changes in sustainable protocols and practices.
A R T
T H E
M E R C H A N D I S I N G
THE ART OF MERCHANDISING
THE ART OF MERCHANDISING
Merchandising is more than ﬁtout and ﬁxtures. It’s the art of creating an attractive, well-organized retail presentation. As with any artistic composition, a wide variety of tools
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spring tensions and lane depths are available to fit any and all shelf and Call 800-444-4665 | TrionOnline.com product needs. Scan® Label Holder, and you’re finished!
©2019 Trion Industries, Inc. Trion Industries, ©2020
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Zip Track Merchandiser
tensions and lane depths are available Call | TrionOnline.com to fit 800-444-4665 any and all shelf and product needs. The sturdy plastic is durable, with an extended merchandising life.
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See More, Sell More
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Neatly and effectively display cooler oo ss ss SS items, ee ll ll AA ddincluding jj aa cc ee n ii ee ss andC C rrfreezer n cc yogurt, r o s s S e lice l Acream, d j a c esingle-serve ncies dips,C puddings, foods, and more. Our small Adjustable After one itemTray is removed our Merchandising (AMT) fitsfrom a range After one item is removed from our After oneadjustable item is removed from our auto-feed, trays,AMT the of 4- to 6-ounce cups;dual the lane medium auto-feed, adjustable dual lane trays, the auto-feed, adjustable dual lane trays, the next product moves right into position. organizes mid-range offerings; and the next product moves right into position. next lane product be moves right into position. Each individually adjusted to large AMTcan gives ice cream lovers pause Each lane can be individually adjusted to Each lane can be individually adjusted to a range of widths to maximize cross-sell to browse and choose a pint of their aarange maximize cross-sell cross-sell range of of widths widths to to maximize opportunities. In addition, younot canget choose favorite flavor (hmmm ...why both opportunities. In youcan canchoose choose opportunities. In addition, addition, you the push strength for either lightweight or Cherry Vanilla and Road?). This the strength for either lightweight lightweight or thepush push strength forRocky either or heavy items. Dual Lane Trays give you the manual-feed tray ensures that products heavy items. Dual Lane Trays give you the heavy items. Dual Trays give you the ability tofaced customize displays to suit your remain and accessible. Time to ability displays to suit suit your abilityto to customize customize displays to your inventory Just offerings. re-stock? lift out and refill. Add Clear inventory inventoryofferings. offerings.
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Dividers WonderBar Hooks Dividers & & Pushers Pushers
Dividers & Pushers
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® Call || TrionOnline.com TrionOnline.com Scan Label Holder, and you’re finished! Call800-444-4665 800-444-4665 Call 800-444-4665 TrionOnline.com
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©2019 ©2019Trion TrionIndustries, Industries,Inc. Inc. ©2019 Trion Industries, Inc. ©2019 Trion Industries, Inc. Trion Industries, ©2020
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Air Flow Baffle Literature Literature Holder Holder Don’t judge a Air literature holder by its you useLiterature Trion’s FlowHolder Baffle in coolers. Don’t judge a literature holder by its Literature Holder Zip Track Merchandiser ®
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Call 800-444-4665 | TrionOnline.com ® together. ZIP Track o f f e r s a wide Call 800-444-4665 | TrionOnline.com
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Literature Holder Clear Dividers & WonderBar EWT Large Clear Dividers & Stops Stops Don’t judge a literature holder by its Truth or dare? The truth & is that Trion’s Clear Dividers Stops If you think the WonderBar EWT is Truth or dare? The truth & ismulti-taskers that Trion’s cover. . . these coated-wire Clear Dividers Stops ShelfWorks Clear Dividers and Product great, wait till you meet its big brother! ®
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range of adjustability for changing merchandise selections.
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Cooler&Capable AMT Holders Strips on Holders & Strips display on Hooks Hooks Neatly and effectively cooler You’ll be hooked on these Clear Scan Holders & Strips on Hooks You’ll be hooked on these Clear Scan Holders & Strips on Hooks and including yogurt, Labelfreezer Holders items, when you see how easily
® You’ll be hooked onyou these Label puddings, Holders when seeClear how Scan easily ® dips, ice You’ll be hooked oncream, these single-serve Clear they accommodate drop-in plain Scan paper Labelaccommodate Holders when drop-in you seeplain how paper easily they foods, and more. Our small Adjustable Label when you see how easily labels.Holders Promote product and price or they accommodate drop-in plain paper labels. Promote product and price or Merchandising Tray (AMT) fits a paper range they accommodate drop-in plain features and benefits so customers can labels. Promote product and pricecan or features and benefits so customers of 4- toPromote 6-ounce cups; medium AMT labels. product and price or choose easily. . . and sothe can you! Make features easily. and benefits so can customers can choose . . and so you! Make organizes mid-range offerings; and the features and benefits so customers can your selection of Clear Scan Label choose easily. . . and so canScan you! Label Make your selection of cream Clear large AMT gives ice lovers pause choose easily. . and soofcan you! colors Make Holders from a .variety profiles, your selection of Clear Scan colors Label Holders from a variety of profiles, to and choose a pint their your selection of add Clear Scan Label andbrowse lengths, then them toofhooks Holders from athen variety ofthem profiles, colors and lengths, add hooks TM to favorite flavor (hmmm ...why not get both Holders from a variety of profiles, colors with flip-front or FISH-Tip mounts. TM and lengths, then them to hooks with flip-front or add FISH-Tip mounts. Cherry and Rocky Road?). This and add them to hooks Skip lengths, theVanilla messthen of sticky adhesive labels TM with flip-front FISH-Tip mounts. Skip the mess oforsticky adhesive labels TM products manual-feed ensures that with flip-front FISH-Tip mounts. and trade up tray to or easy-to-use plain paper Skiptrade the mess ofeasy-to-use sticky adhesive labels and up toand plain paper remain faced accessible. Time to Skip mess of sticky adhesive labels label the holder systems. and trade upsystems. to easy-to-use plain paper label holder re-stock? Just lift out and refill. Add Clear and trade up to easy-to-use plain paper Call 800-444-4665 | TrionOnline.com label®800-444-4665 holder systems.| TrionOnline.com Call Scan Label Holder, and you’re finished! label holder systems.
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Inventory Control WonderBar Hooks Inventory Control Holders & Strips ontheHooks Keep those carded products and easy Inventory WonderBar DisplaysControl are tidy versatile Keep those carded products tidy and easy Inventory Control to heroes seebe when you add inventory You’ll hooked on these Clear Scan of the Trion product control family, ®
Keep carded products tidy and easy to seethose when you add inventory control Keep those carded products tidy andeasily easy clips (ICCs) to your standard, medium, Label Holders when you see how to the rescue when you need to coming see(ICCs) when you add inventory control clips to your standard, medium, to see when you add inventory control heavy or extra heavy wire hook displays. they accommodate drop-in plain paper muscle and to merchandise clips togood yourlooks standard, heavy(ICCs) or extra heavy wire hook medium, displays. clips (ICCs) tosizes. your standard, medium, These handy clips keep merchandise labels. Promote product and pricecan or items of all These Hooks heavy or extra heavy wire Bar hook displays. These handy clips keep merchandise heavy or extra heavy wire hook displays. faced and double as a marker to let features and loads benefits so customers can lift heavy in keep their capable arms. These handy clips merchandise faced and double as a marker to let These handy clips keep merchandise you Display know when it’sSaddle time to reorder or choose easily. . . and soacan you! Make or Scan, Mount orto Plug faced and double marker let you know when it’sas time to reorder or faced and double as a marker to let re-stock products. Available in Rabbit Ear your selection of Clear Scan Label in, there are Trion WonderBar Hooks you know when it’s time to reorder or re-stock products. Available in Rabbit Ear you know when it’s time to reorder or ICC and circular Sham configurations. Or Holders from a variety of profiles, colors for every need. re-stock products. Available in Rabbit Ear ICC and circular Sham configurations. Or re-stock products. Available in Rabbit Ear orderlengths, with half-moon ATICC Inventory and then add them to hooks ICC and circular Sham configurations. Or order with half-moon ATICCTMInventory ICC andclips circular Sham configurations. Or control already pre-mounted on the with or FISH-Tip mounts. orderflip-front with ATICC Inventory control clipshalf-moon already pre-mounted on the order with half-moon ATICC Inventory hookthe for you. Skip mess of sticky adhesive labels control pre-mounted on the hook forclips you.already control clips pre-mounted the and trade upalready to easy-to-use plain on paper hook for you. hook holder for you.systems. label
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Call 800-444-4665 800-444-4665 || TrionOnline.com TrionOnline.com Call
Trion Industries, ©2019 Trion Industries, Inc. ©2020
HOOKS | lAbElING | SHElF & COOlER MERCHANDISING 800-444-4665 | firstname.lastname@example.org .triononline.com/Art
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Mini Dual Lane Trays S t a Air g i n gFlow A r e a sBaffle Built In This mini tray leads to maximum revenue, The isWaterfall a cold Beverage cooler front when Forforecast Grab-and-Go Sales Pin-Stop Hooks because it allows complimentary items to
you use Trion’s®Air Flow Baffle in coolers. be featured together.downward-canted Dual lanes adjust to These strong, Product temperature can be difficult to fit narrow hooks merchandise sizes as small as waterfall lift more weights than Merchandise all front size drinks from mini maintain at the of a cooler. This 1a3⁄personal features a separate pusher 4 ". Each lane Ready for a workout, ® trainer. ® Red Bull Baffle cans to oversized Air Flow ensures that Gatorade cold air is paddle to keep products and Trion Industries’ hooks forwarded display heavy ® the most bottles. ZIP Track forced forward to is keep itemsversatile at their faced. Feature itemsweights of different widths products, like free in multiple and system idealcost-effective temperature. Grab-and-Go Use as part of your via asymmetric configurations. Cross sizes, with bothlane sales and safety in mind. available on the strategy, market. along Use actual cooler outfitting with merchandise a variety of products with Your customers can easily browse the ® lane width from 2" to 3 3/4 ". product to set WonderBar Bar Merchandisers and ease. Trays install without tools and lift out merchandise, which is held in place TM Reset width on set-up in less Tray than hooks,lane EWT Expandable Wire for restocking or product rotation. by quick built-in pins to keep product 30 seconds. Shelf-based System, and cooler capableand ClearcoolerScan® Full includes and oversize fromline shifting or standard falling. Exercise your ready, this anchored system billboards label holders. trays, and display, and pusherrelated hooks. opportunity to scan cross-sell
them and neatly using Mirror,attractively mirror on the wall. You can be great, wait till you meet its big brother! front fencing and dividers to display customize the most difficult item to of Oversized just like some of your the and create all. display Clever space merchandisers useunique large products, this weightlifter stays strong presentations of similar or related items. literature holders for three-dimensional, on both metal and open wire shelves This cross-selling approach makes awkwardly sized items like mirrors, and bar. One-piece installation means shopping easier forand themore. customer and framed art, clocks, Available you can drop this bad boy right into more profitable you. Select from in a range of sizes,for gauges, and weights, place, adjust as needed, and watch aTrion’s rangelarge of other Trionholders outfitting to literature can be the revenue increase. The EWT takes maximize selling space from the base spaced horizontally to accommodate all over from there, automatically feeding deck to the top shelf and beyond. manner of product sizes. product to the front and billboarding®
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Call 800-444-4665 || TrionOnline.com Call 800-444-4665 TrionOnline.com product for easy selection and fast sale. merchandise for maximum visibility. Call 800-444-4665 TrionOnline.com products and keep your bottom line in Call 800-444-4665 || TrionOnline.com ZIP Track® forwards and faces product at Call 800-444-4665 | TrionOnline.com shape! Of course these waterfall utility Create Your Own Merchandising Masterpiece with Trion Fixtures all times. Quickly add lanes with this easy hooks are perfect for more than hand® ® to install and adjust system. ZIP Track T HGiveEthem aAtry.R T O F M E R C H A N D I S I N G weights. offers a wide range of adjustability for Call ever-evolving 800-444-4665beverage | TrionOnline.com Create Your Own Merchandising Masterpiece with Trion Fixtures this category and changing package designs. An Open and Shut Case P l a c e a L a b e®l A n y w h e r e
Over 450 Profiles
Clear Scan Label Holders Containers Well Contained Storewide solutions for any labeling Cooler Capable AMT need. Available in a variety of profiles ®
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Pin-Stop Waterfall Hooks Pin-Stop Waterfall Hooks Versatile Wall Tags
weights. Give them a try.
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©2019 Trion Industries, Inc.
©2019 Trion Industries, Inc. Trion Industries, ©2020 ©2019 Trion Industries, Inc.
Flip-Scan Hooks Flip-ScanScan-It and shut Shooks u p e rareH an oScan o open k s ! Arms case for ease of use. The articulated Scan-It do this? Scan-It do that? WonderBar Hooks label holder lifts up and out of the way ®
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When Visibility is Your Goal
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Zip Track EndlessMerchandiser Baskets
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Clear Acrylic Dividers Clear Acrylic Dividers WonderBar EWT Large When Visibility is Your Goal Oversize? No Problem!
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Cooler CapableHooks AMT Attached-Back Attached-Back Hooks
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©2019 Trion Industries, Inc.
©2019 Trion Industries, Inc. Trion Industries, ©2020
Extend Your Revenue Super Hooks! E x t e n d Y o u r® R e v e n u e
Pegboard Extenders WonderBar Hooks Pegboard Extenders
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Pegboard Extenders Pegboard Extenders
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Slatwall Hooks WonderBar Hooks Super Hooks!
Let’s review® your wish list Yeah, We’ve Got That of slatwall hook features: ® flat back plate are base? Trion’s WonderBar Displays the versatile got it. Even loadproduct distribution? heroes of family, Let’s review the yourTrion wish list of slatwall Check. Customizable with Clear Scan coming to theflat rescue when youbase? need hook features: back plate Labels? Yep. Flip-front ordistribution? metal plate muscle and merchandise Trion’s got it.good Evenlooks loadto Label Holder, gotcha. Like varied items of all sizes. These Baryour Hooks can Check. Customizable with Clear Scan products, Trion’s Hooksarms. are lift heavy loads inSlatwall theirorcapable Labels? Yep. Flip-front metal plate offered in aorrange of standard, medium, Display Scan, Saddle or Plug Label Holder, gotcha. LikeMount your varied heavy, andTrion’s extra heavy gauges. Our in, there are Trion WonderBar Hooks products, Slatwall Hooks are hooks fit all industry standard slatwall for every need. offered in a range of standard, medium, slots, and manyheavy workgauges. with slot heavy, and extra Ourinserts. hooks Call for a sample to check the fit with fit all industry standard slatwall slots, and
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©2019 Trion Industries, Inc. ©2019 Trion Industries, Inc. Trion Industries, ©2020
HOOKS | lAbElING | SHElF & COOlER MERCHANDISING HOOKS | lAbElING | SHElF & COOlER 800-444-4665 | email@example.com MERCHANDISING .triononline.com/Art 800-444-4665 | firstname.lastname@example.org .triononline.com/Art
T H E
A R T
M E R C H A N D I S I N G
THE ART OF MERCHANDISING
Merchandising is more than ﬁtout and ﬁxtures. It’s the art of creating an attractive, well-organized retail presentation. As with any artistic composition, a wide variety of tools
masterpiece. In retail Visual Merchandising, a gondola, pegboard, slatwall or shelf is your blank canvas. When combined with tools such as display hooks, label and sign holders, bar merchandisers, tray systems, and merchandising accessories, there are endless ways to effectively display all kinds of products and inspire your target audience to make a purchase. As one of the world’s top retail ﬁxture manufacturers, Trion offers a generous supply of over 25,000 components and over 50 years of experience using them to execute precise planogram solutions, store designs and retail displays. Call us to turn your vision into an inspirational retail masterpiece. DISPLAY AND SCAN HOOKS LABEL HOLDER SYSTEMS DIVIDER AND PUSHER SYSTEMS BAR MERCHANDISING SYSTEMS COOLER MERCHANDISING SYSTEMS
Hooks | Shelf Merchandising | Labeling WWW.TRIONONLINE.COM /ART | 800-444-4665 ©2020 Trion Industries, Inc.
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resources has spurred actions across the industries that connect consumables to consumers, from origin to disposal.
Sustainability from the Start
The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has scheduled a Food Systems Summit in 2021 to raise awareness and launch actions to transform systems to help the planet and alleviate hunger and diet-related diseases.
A World of Meanings
Despite the seeming agreement on the need to protect the environment and its resources, sustainability is an all-encompassing term, and its dimensions are open to interpretation. What, exactly, is “responsible”? If something is sustainably sourced, what does that entail, and how does that definition vary by industry and category? How do standards for organic, Fair Trade, natural and non-GMO overlap, and how do products labeled as such really impact the environment? Officially, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations defines a sustainable food system as one that provides food security and nutrition for all in a way that doesn’t compromise economic, social and environmental bases. From an environmental perspective, the FAO notes that a sustainable food system has a positive or natural impact on the environment. While sustainability is an umbrella term that covers an increasing number of concerns and initiatives, the traditional meaning of protecting and preserving
Back in the beginning part of the chain that links people to the foods and beverages they consume, sustainability encompasses the care of land, water, crops and animals. While agriculture comprises about 10% of U.S. emissions, comparatively less than transportation and industry, that sector has received a lot of attention for its methods. In recent years, those in the livestock, seafood, dairy, produce, egg and grain industries, among others, have focused on eco-friendlier practices. The organization Farmers for a Sustainable Future reports that farmers and ranchers have added 132% more renewable-energy resources in the past five years, spanning solar panels, geothermal solutions, windmills, hydro systems and methane digesters. Farmers and ranchers have increasingly adhered to better husbandry methods that are lighter on land, water and energy. The beef industry, for example, has invested in a life cycle assessment (LCA) to set and measure benchmarks on the environmental, economic and social contributions of the cattle industry. The Beef Checkoff-funded LCA found that various methods, from irrigation to nutrition to animal care, have lowered the negative environmental impact of raising beef, and enhanced farm and ranch sustainability overall. The egg industry, meanwhile, conducted a life cycle analysis showing that the industry has cut its environmental impact even while increasing hen supply to meet the population’s food need. Compared with 1960, today’s egg production results in 71% lower greenhouse-gas emissions. The analysis’ researchers attributed the eco-improvements of the egg industry to a variety of factors, including better use of natural resources, disease control and a new hen house design. At a time when the dairy industry is facing stiff competition from plant-based milks and dealing with concerns about the environmental impact of dairy production methods, more dairy farmers are using anaerobic digesters to break down food waste and dairy cow manure to power their operations. Small changes are making a difference, too, like the use of recycled bedding for cows in dairy barns. Continued on page 40
The pandemic has revealed some vulnerabilities in the current food chain and opened the door to changes in sustainable protocols and practices. PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
with CleanWell’s Director of Marketing, Ramona Roof
Progressive Grocer: Can you tell us a bit about CleanWell® and its history?
need to understand our products and technology in order to create loyalty and drive sales.
Ramona Roof: CleanWell was born from a father’s love for his son with an immune system disorder. When he realized the use of chemical-laden household products made his son’s life immensely more difficult and unsafe, he tried to ﬁnd a safer option. When he couldn’t, he started CleanWell.
PG: The buying public is showing a keen interest in sustainable, responsible products these days. Would you consider CleanWell to be in step with this trend?
CleanWell disinfectants are made with thoughtfully selected ingredients that make up our proprietary formula, including Thymol — our unique, plant-based active. Our disinfecting technology is only available in two brands — CleanWell® and Seventh Generation® on retailer shelves. We have a long-standing partnership with Seventh Generation to make their household disinfecting products. All of their products are noted with a “CleanWell Inside” logo to reference the partnership and technology.
PG: What’s exciting about CleanWell today? RR: We’re on a mission to thoughtfully clean up “clean,” with effective family-, pet-, and planet-friendly products. We recently debuted a new look that creates a cohesive product family and increases the shelf/counter appeal. It clearly calls out the product beneﬁts and claims, and easily denotes scent through color and botanical graphics. We also focus on educating the consumer through print and digital advertising, and social media, press, and inﬂuencer campaigns. As we expand distribution to conventional grocery, we know that consumers
RR: Our mission is to clean up “clean” and we do this by carefully selecting the ingredients we use in our formulas. Our plant- and mineral-based products are vegan, never tested on animals, and are packaged in easily recyclable containers. One of our core values is “Keep Cleaning,” and what we mean by that is to never stop asking if we can do better. Our dedicated Product Development and Sourcing teams are always evaluating the latest consumer trends, along with developments in sustainability and raw materials to incorporate in our products.
PG: We’re all aware of the crucial role that disinfectants are playing in our current climate. How can CleanWell make a difference for today’s consumers? RR: The proprietary 0.05% Thymol formula has third-party testing data registered with the EPA to prove that the products kill 99.99% of household germs and viruses on hard, nonporous surfaces. CleanWell Botanical Disinfecting Wipes and Sprays are on the EPA’s List N “Disinfectants for Use Against SARSCoV-2”. All products included on List N meet the EPA’s criteria for use against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The pandemic has created strong consumer demand for better-for-you cleaning products, and the CleanWell brand offers proven efficacy without harsh chemicals. Our disinfecting products have many advantages over competing brands. For instance, CleanWell ingredients are food-grade, allowing for a no-rinseneeded product. They can be used around children, pets and food. And our products don’t require warning or ﬁrst aid statements — the labels of most disinfectants include warnings about ﬂammability and exposure to skin and eyes, as well as directions for pre-cleaning, using gloves, eye protection, and proper ventilation, and the need to rinse afterward.
PG: Do you see a robust future for planet-friendly disinfectants? RR: The growing interest in green household cleaning products is an extension of the overall explosion of interest in clean food and personal care products, and environmental protection issues. We sold through nearly a year’s worth of planned product in the ﬁrst four months of 2020, so clearly there are consumers who want to “clean green” even in the face of the pandemic. New cleaning product companies are launching at a rapid rate. Today’s successful retailers are the ones who exercise good judgment when selecting their inventory. They’ll want to choose truly green and eco-friendly products from companies with missions and values that resonate with their shoppers.
HOW TO CLEAN UP
L E A R N M O R E B Y V I S I T I N G W W W. C L E A N W E L L T O D AY. C O M
Speaking with…Matt Banghart, Director of Food Packaging, LK Packaging
Sustainable Packaging Programs According to a new survey (1), consumers consider a product’s impact on the environment when making purchasing decisions now more than ever. In 2019, 71 percent of consumers took that into account at least occasionally; as of mid-April, after several weeks of the coronavirus shutdown, 83 percent said they consider that when shopping.
PG: How is LK working to help retailers who want to align their value proposition with their customers’ earth-ﬁrst motivations?
Here, Matt Banghart, Director of Food Packaging at LK® Packaging, explains the important role packaging plays in helping grocery retailers communicate the message that they’re making environmental sustainability a priority in their stores.
Our new #ReadyFresh™ program arms grocery retailers with a way to present a continuous theme in their in-store bakeries and delis. The line includes ﬂexible fresh food pouches, sandwich packs, pizza boxes, clam shells, trays with lids, and salad packs—all made from materials that are either compostable, recyclable or both, which is a ﬁrst!
Progressive Grocer: Can the way grocery retailers package their grab-n-go and prepared food oﬀerings really help attract today’s environmentally conscious shoppers? Matt Banghart: Yes! Not only that, it makes it easier for consumers to BE more environmentally conscious, too! Packaging is one of best tools grocers have to attract and engage consumers—and it can drive product and store diﬀerentiation. Oﬀering sustainable packaging can help grocery retailers meet increasing demand for products that are good for the environment while building greater customer loyalty and, ultimately, greater revenue with packaging programs, not just packaging products. For example, using sustainable packaging can help grocery retailers create a ready-made private label program for their store’s fresh perimeter—and that’s one of the quickest ways to increase sales and margins for made-in-store meal solutions.
MB: We’re proud to oﬀer FSC-certiﬁed, recyclable paper-board packaging and our new COMPOSTA™ products. We have several programs that include non-plastic options.
We also have a program called Ready. Chef. Go!®, which has been popular with supermarkets that oﬀer locally packed, ready-to-cook meals. Our new cooking boxes in this program not only enable retailers to oﬀer meal-merchandising containers their shoppers can cook in, they also help convey an importantsustainability message because they’rerecyclable, too. PG: What are some ways grocery retailers can call out their sustainable packaging programs in-store? MB: We can help! At LK Packaging, we support each of our packaging programs with a variety of in-store merchandising aids—case clings, danglers and case signs—that enhance a store’s fresh food oﬀerings while capturing customers’ attention and building loyalty for the store’s prepared foods program.
#ReadyFresh is Good, To Go
For more information, contact your supplier or visit LKpkg.com. (1)
Kearney Earth Day Consumer Sentiments Survey LK Packaging LKpackaging.com
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Sustainability Continued from page 35
The seafood industry, in particular, has put significant muscle behind sustainable practices. Many organizations and industry groups are part of those initiatives, including the Walton Family Foundation and the James Beard Foundation, the latter of which launched a Three Steps Sustainable Campaign that encourages consumers to look for sustainable seafood from retailers and restaurants. “All over the world, we are working with fishermen to help them adopt sustainable practices so that we can protect species vulnerable to overfishing and preserve the habitats the ocean species need to thrive. Consumers demanding sustainable seafood, whether in a restaurant or in a grocery store, is an essential component to accelerating change in the marketplace,” says Teresa Ish, program officer for the Oceans Initiative of the Walton Family Foundation. The foundation, established by the Walton family that founded Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart, has invested in fisheries that support the sustainability of a variety of fish sourced in the United States. Elsewhere in agriculture, farmers across the fruit, vegetable, nut and grain industries are implementing practices that lessen their impact on the earth’s resources. Whether improving soil health, monitoring air quality, changing irrigation methods to conserve or maximize water use, or examining and changing their use of pesticides, farmers are taking steps to improve their carbon footprint.
Moving through the supply chain, a range of food processors, producers and manufacturers are working with their suppliers to develop products made in more sustainable ways and/ or with more sustainable ingredients. In late June, Smithfield Foods Inc. revealed that it was teaming up with San Francisco-based farm management software provider Granular Insights to enhance its grain supply-chain efficiency and increase its farm sustainability. The Virginia-based pork producer and food-processing company uses 13 billion pounds of feed a year for its animals. “Over the last several years, we’ve focused on working alongside grain farmers in our supply chain to provide information and Hormel Foods is employing solar energy to power a California plant.
advice about strategies to improve fertilizer usage and crop production,” says Stewart Leeth, Smithfield’s VP of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer. “With Granular Insights, we’ll be able to partner those recommendations with a technology-driven solution to help drive farm profitability with fewer environmental impacts.” Some manufacturer goals are broad in scope and reach, like Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo’s sustainability plan that covers next-generation agriculture, positive water impact, packaging, sourcing, climate change mitigation and social impact. Paris-based Danone, for its part, has a multipronged approach to become carbon neutral by 2040. In following and sharing what it calls its “food journey,” Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods reached its first set of environmental goals in 2011 and is working toward completing its 2020 goals for lowering waste, water use, greenhouse-gas emissions, nonrenewable energy use and packaging. Some of the biggest players are teaming up on sustainability as an interlinked priority. The Sustainable Food Policy Alliance was formed by Danone North America, Mars Inc., Nestlé USA and Unilever USA to “drive progress in public policies,” often focusing on carbon emissions and nutritional labeling. In June, the group commended recent congressional legislation aimed at transitioning to low-carbon alternatives while also helping ensure opportunities to create value for farmers, ranchers and others in food production. More recently, companies of many sizes and types have zeroed in on packaging as a priority, from discontinuing the use of single-serve plastic to embracing compostable or easily recycled materials. PepsiCo is working toward a goal of 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable repackaging by 2025. Arlington, Va.-based Nestlé USA has likewise pledged to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. At the same time, food and beverage manufacturers are taking steps to make their own operations more sustainable. Deerfield, Ill.-based Mondelez International, for instance, reported that it has lowered carbon emissions by 15% across its manufacturing facilities and slashed waste in its operations by 21%.
The Grocery Link in a More Sustainable Chain
A step closer to consumers, grocers are taking a multifaceted approach to sustainability. Recognizing the immensity of sustainability as a concept and in action, grocery chains and stores are addressing its various dimensions by procuring and promoting sustainable products for their shoppers and changing their own way of doing business. Walmart, which got into sustainability early and often with the launch of a program in 2005 and the rollout of its Sustainability Index in 2009, continues its march toward earth-friendlier retailing. Two years 40
Nestlé is one of the major CPG companies that have committed to improving packaging performance.
ago, the mega-retailer met its goal of buying 70% of its goods in 125 categories from suppliers that participate in the index. Starting this month, Walmart is sourcing its Great Value canned tuna as either Marine Stewardship Council-certified or from a time-bound fishery improvement project working toward certification. Notes Sean Reber, head of Walmart’s global sourcing team on direct import programs for packaged food: “With a clear signal from leadership, our team has invested in research to help us better understand the value chain of tuna and ask the question, ‘What’s the right way to do this?’” Other retailers are also diving into sustainably sourced seafood. Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion, an Ahold Delhaize USA banner, recently joined the Ocean Disclosure Product (ODP) and revealed that its seafood products are completely traceable to wild fisheries or farms and come from sustainable sources. “Being a good neighbor to us means offering the products and services our customers expect from Food Lion, but also sourcing and packaging those products and operating our stores in a sustainable way,” says Food Lion President Meg Ham. “It’s important to us that our customers know where their seafood comes from, so it only makes sense to join the ODP and make public the origin of wild-caught seafood sold in our stores.” Publix Super Markets is conveying its sustainably and responsibly sourced seafood choices to shoppers with new store-brand packaging for seafood. According to company information, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix will also begin reverse audits on sustainability information to verify the accuracy of sourcing claims. In addition to carrying and verifying products that meet consumers’ interest in sustainable products, progressive grocers are making internal changes for the betterment of the planet. The Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati, has rolled out several ongoing
Despite the seeming agreement on the need to protect the environment and its resources, sustainability is an all-encompassing term, and its dimensions are open to interpretation.
initiatives as part of its action plan; these span the reduction of water use to the implementation of foodwaste recycling programs in more than 2,000 stores. Earlier this year, Wegmans Food Markets, based in Rochester, N.Y., said that it was working with a packaging and supply-chain partner to ship caseready meat products in reusable plastic containers, eliminating more than 1 million pounds of corrugated packaging from the supply stream. Wegmans also has removed single-use plastic grocery bags from its New York state stores, in line with that state’s ban. To be sure, many retailers are moving that way, including Kroger and Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle. Beyond packaging, grocers are taking a new look at their stores’ consumption of resources, such as the use of water in the produce section, or refrigeration and cooling systems that rely on water and use up energy. Retailers can install more efficient appliances, switch to less environmentally impactful practices and educate their staffs on ways to conserve resources when possible. There are many examples of such improvements. The De Pere, Wis.-based Festival Foods chain has updated its stores with features like LED lights that reduce electricity consumption and new refrigerants. Earlier this summer, Landover, Md.-based Giant Food, another Ahold Delhaize USA banner, started installing electric vehicle-charging stations at select East Coast locations. Store design, especially for greenfield buildings, is moving in a more environmentally responsible direction. too. San Antonio-based H-E-B built a store in Austin, Texas, that is LEED Gold-certified and has received an Austin Energy Green Building 4-Star sustainability certification. Finally, with the notable upswing in home delivery this year due to COVID-19, there are some ways that e-commerce is becoming more environmentally friendly here and abroad. For instance, to lower package waste for deliveries, South Korean e-commerce company Coupang is moving to a zero disposable-packaging system for fresh orders. Products are shipped or dropped off in recyclable cooling bags that are later picked up, cleaned and reused, and shelf-stable products are delivered boxless. Looking to the future, there may be clues to future actions in the United States based on what’s happening elsewhere. As one example, an S-market grocery store in Finland hosts a “happy hour” aimed at clearing shelves with lower prices to reduce food waste. A Berlin store called Original Unverpackt is a zero-waste business that allows shoppers to buy exactly how much they need. Italian organic supermarket company NaturaSi has added boxed-water dispensers to move consumers away from plastic bottles and also offers an app to let customers know when products are nearing their expiration date. Time will tell how many of these ideas will catch on in this country. PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
Taking the Lead: Alpha Packaging Is All-In on Sustainability A Q&A with Marny Bielefeldt, Vice President of Marketing, Alpha Packaging Progressive Grocer: How does Alpha Packaging define “sustainable packaging?” Marny Bielefeldt: “Sustainable packaging” can mean different things to different brands, depending on what their product is and what they are trying to achieve. We typically define something as sustainable if it uses fewer raw materials — either through reduced package weight or through recycled content that replaces virgin material. Sustainable can also encompass materials made from renewable resources, such as plant-based plastics. When customers ask to see our “sustainable options,” we take them through a series of questions to determine the options that might be right for their products, customers and retail environment. PG: Increasingly, consumers and regulators are demanding that businesses meet the challenge of sustainable packaging. What are the solutions you typically steer people toward? MB: Most of the sustainable options we offer to customers fall into one of four categories: recycled post-consumer resins (PCR) for both PET and HDPE resins; recyclable packaging made from PET or HDPE; plant-derived (bio-based) resins; and light-weighted bottles and jars that use less resin per bottle. PG: Alpha Packaging has made it clear that it wants to lead in sustainable packaging. What are you doing to demonstrate that leadership? MB: To be a leader in sustainability, a packaging manufacturer needs to make sustainable solutions available to a greater number of brands, and needs to take a leadership role in educating brand owners about the right options for their brand. At the corporate level, Alpha has embraced sustainability as a core value. We have invested time and resources to create a team of Sustainability Ambassadors; and several of our associates have completed certifications that make them experts not just in the sustainable options we might offer, but in sustainable business practices as a whole.
PG: How is this expertise put to use? MB: Our sustainability team meets quarterly to discuss new resins — such as Certified Ocean Bound PCR — that we can offer commercially. We also develop internal and external presentations and train our sales and customer-facing teams about how to engage customers who want to be more sustainable. Our objective is to stay abreast of the newest trends and educate our customers about why some options may be far better for them than others. PG: What challenges has Alpha Packaging had to meet to become a more sustainable packaging supplier to the grocery industry? MB: To become a sustainable partner with this industry, we’ve had to make a commitment to find FDA-approved sources for all sustainable resins. We’ve also had to refine our own manufacturing standards in order to run 100% recycled content in all of the manufacturing processes that we use to serve this market. PG: And what actions can grocers take, to commit to sustainable packaging? MB: We encourage grocers to stay educated and ask questions. They can partner with suppliers who use environmentally responsible materials. New developments in packaging materials mean that making the sustainable choice no longer has to cut into your bottom line. Sustainable packaging is entirely attainable. We all just need to commit to being a part of the solution.
THE NEW SUSTAINABLE WORKFORCE Best practices for the age of corporate social justice.
hen food retailers and consumer packaged goods companies talk about sustainability, often it’s energy efficiency, reusable bags, emissions reductions and food waste that get most of the oxygen. But sustainability in 2020 is about a lot more than being green. It’s primarily about people, or your employees. And supporting employees has never been more critical than it is now, as the nation faces a pandemic, a deep recession and racial division. The killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in May generated one of the largest protest movements that the United States has ever seen. And the intense reactions from consumers and employees to those protests suggest that the standard corporate sustainability playbook may need to be rewritten.
By Gina Acosta
Key Takeaways Organizations can’t be sustainable without protecting the safety, health and social welfare of their associates. Employees and consumers alike want their preferred retail and CPG brands to take a firm stand on social and political issues. Developing talent by providing career advancement, educational opportunities and the chance to learn new skills is also key.
DO WONDERS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. AND YOUR BOTTOM LINE. People are having more goods delivered, faster than ever before. Which means your fleet is generating more emissions than ever before. You can now lease or purchase new natural gas medium-duty trucks through Clean Energy® for the same price as diesel or gasoline trucks, and we’ll even guarantee a fuel price on Redeem™ renewable natural gas that is significantly discounted to diesel.
Sustainability More than ever before, food retailers and CPG companies must embrace the sustainability pillars of profit, planet and people in a new way. This means that organizations can’t be sustainable without protecting the safety, health and social welfare of their most vital resource: workers. Many food retailers and CPG firms have embraced this new sustainable-workforce mindset as a way to showcase their values, measure impacts and outcomes, and increase their competitive advantage. Today, to be impactful, any corporate sustainability framework requires a deep integration of the three “people pillars” of social justice, opportunity and education. Many employees and consumers now see social justice, which includes diversity, inclusion and racial equity, as a necessity, not just buzzwords. One company meeting this new challenge head-on is PepsiCo. The Purchase, N.Y.-based beverage giant knows that by helping its workforce not just survive, but also thrive, employees will give back to the economy, the community and the environment. “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic ... the food system was under tremendous stress,” said PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta in the company’s latest sustainability report, released in June. “The past few months have been among the most challenging in recent memory. COVID-19 has profoundly transformed how we work, parent, shop, learn and socialize. It has caused unfathomable grief and taxed our social infrastructure like nothing before, laying bare longstanding inequalities and injustices.” Laguarta noted that the company has set three “aspirations,” or goals, to transform its business for the new age of corporate social sustainability (CSS) or corporate social justice (CSJ), two topics now used interchangeably. “We know that systemic problems require systemic solutions, and the pandemic has brought into sharp focus the larger need to address our long-term sustainability challenges,” Laguarta said. “It is clearer than ever that organizations like PepsiCo and our partners need to take bold steps to catalyze positive change and bring about a stronger, more sustainable future for us all.” Specifically, PepsiCo has pledged a five-year, $437.5 million commitment in support of efforts to address inequality and create opportunity for Black communities and increase Black representation within the multinational company.
The CSJ era
In the post-George Floyd era, social justice, diversity and inclusion will become bigger strategic imperatives in the food retail industry. Companies won’t be able to just publish a diversity report or casual press release anymore: Employees and consumers both want their favorite retail and CPG brands to take a firm stand on social and political issues. Corporate social justice is driven by socially aware con46
sumers and employees who want companies to do better by everyone. Companies have an opportunity to rise to the occasion, and some are doing just that. In June, Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Seattle-based Amazon, wrote a note to employees saying that his leadership team had been reflecting on the “systemic racism” facing Black communities, and urged employees to take time to learn about and reflect on Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States. (Amazon also announced that it would donate $10 million to organizations that are working to bring about social justice and improve the lives of Blacks and African-Americans.) Several other food retailers, including Minneapolis-based Target, made Juneteenth a paid holiday. These strategic actions are part of a wave of moves by some companies to reframe their corporate sustainability efforts to include a social justice component. With nearly half the members of Gen Z identifying as a racial or ethnic minority, companies that prioritize social justice initiatives will have a huge leg up in recruiting and retaining the next-generation workforce. Retailers and CPG companies looking to revamp their diversity and inclusion programs to focus on social justice should:
“Whilst there are areas [where] we have made progress in the fight against systemic racism and inequality — including pay equity and the diversity of our front-line workforce — we know we cannot keep pointing to what we did decades ago. The promise of our journey remains unfulfilled. We have much work to do going forward, and to echo Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’” —Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo
1. Develop a Vision: Pledges and statements won’t resonate with employees or consumers unless they’re backed up by a solid vision for social good. 2. Create Internal Working Groups: Stakeholders should collaborate on social justice issues and use this knowledge to proactively inform how the company acts on, and reacts to, societal problems. 3. Take a Stand: Companies should talk about social justice issues and establish a clear track record of standing behind the programs that they develop to deal with them.
An Opportunity to Succeed
At The Kroger Co., one of the key drivers of the Cincinnati-based company’s Restock Kroger transformation plan is making sure that employees feel supported, valued and put in a position to succeed. In June, the grocer was named to Computerworld magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Work in IT for 2020. This marks the third consecutive year that Kroger’s technology and digital team has been recognized by the annual list for having an innovative, industry-leading workplace culture where employees feel like they have opportunities for advancement. This year, Kroger ranks 51st among large companies, and is the only food retailer on the list. “A big part of our organization’s culture is providing opportunities to grow, learn and develop the talented and passionate team behind the company’s seamless ecosystem,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief technology and digital officer, at the time that the ranking was released. “Our internship program offers real-life opportunities to future industry talent, which has never been more important to those entering the workforce, and I’m proud of our ability to continue to provide these experiences in the current environment.” This summer, as part of its emphasis on developing talent, Kroger’s technology and digital team is offering its first virtual summer internship program in which more than 30 interns will work on real projects impactful to the business, as well as participate in a series of virtual networking, mentorship and community service opportunities.
Upskilling as Education
Retailers have the power to drive a collective solution for the future of education in the workplace, empowering workers with opportunities for learning new skills and continuing their education. Amazon’s Career Choice program, for example, pays up to 95% of tuition and fees toward a professional certificate or diploma in qualified fields of study, up-leveling skill sets and allowing recipients to apply for in-demand jobs. More than 10,000 employees have participated in this initiative so far. Other companies, such as Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart, are investing in upskilling programs for existing employees across the organization, whether they work in physical stores, at corporate headquarters or in a warehouse. In June, Walmart announced the expansion of Live Better U (LBU) education benefits to include in-demand skilled-trade and digital-skills programs, beyond the initiative’s traditional college programs. LBU is designed to support working adult learners and meets associates where they are on their educational journeys by focusing on
Kroger's technology and digital team is offering a virtual summer internship program in which participants will work on business projects and get involved in community service.
degree completion through a number of supportive elements, free student coaching, college credit for Walmart training and career pathways for LBU graduates. Regardless of which path an employee chooses, those who take advantage of LBU have one thing in common — they’re earning a degree or certificate along with a paycheck, without lifelong student debt. “The current economic climate has only added urgency to the need for practical training and education opportunities for Americans, especially those who do not fit the historic profile of a full-time student,” said Julie Murphy, EVP of people of Walmart U.S., at the time of the program’s expansion “By adding both digital courses and skilled trades to our education benefit, associates have access to even more in-demand skills, so they can advance their careers, whether at Walmart or elsewhere.” Nationally, there has been much focus on the future of work, but less has been placed on future-proof jobs such as skilled trades. The United States suffers from a skilled-trades talent gap accelerated by retirement, turnover and a shift away from trade education in high school. A Deloitte study found that the skills gap may leave an estimated 2.4 million jobs unfilled by 2028. Other key training and retention trends that food retailers can expect in 2020 include the growth of upskilling for jobs in foodservice, distribution, delivery and logistics. As food retailers continue to invest heavily in machine learning and automation, opportunities for upskilling will only increase. This is a great strategy for retaining workers who are hungry for career advancement. Clearly, embracing social justice, opportunity and education as cornerstones of sustainability is good for workers and good for business. Integrating these pillars into sustainability strategies can transform an organization into one that strives for long-term economic viability and allows all people to thrive. PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
CREATING A CLEANER,
WORLD Sustainability is in the DNA of ALEN USA, a leading manufacturer of household cleaning and laundry products. This 70-year-old family-owned company—one of the Top 10 plastic recyclers in North America—has gone beyond plastic neutrality, recycling more plastic than it uses. ALEN was the 2020 Product of the Year winner in the green cleaning category from Product of the Year USA for its new Art of Green® product line.
Progressive Grocer: Sustainability has become an integral part of what shoppers look for. How is ALEN answering consumers’ call for products that will clean their homes and help the environment, too? Greg Schwarz: S b g .C m xp — d d m d d v gb p d d g g .A d g N , 73 p m d g mp b d mp v m , d 30 p g p p m m p d d v p b m. S b b p ALEN’ DNA. W ’v b p g d v b m k g dp k g g 1989. M , ’v d d v p gg d p d L , d dA G m dE ñ ® N b .
PG: What are some highlights of the company’s progress toward greater sustainability? GS: S 1995, v d 14 b b .A d m k b m p :O PET b m d 100% d p , d HDPE b 70 80 p .F p p k g db d d, . W ’ mm d p b g g d.M p d p — g UUMBAL P j , d p .W v dR A C ﬁ b m g p .A d m p b d g d p b . F x mp , ® ® A G dE ñ N b USDA-C ﬁ d B b d p d . PG: Why should grocery retailers dedicate shelf space to sustainable products? pp GS: E v m p d m d b m m pp d g , v .J k mb ! S b m k d p d ’m k 16.6 p 2018, b m k g b 2013 d 2018 50.1 p . T
g m k .D g ® R&D p A G , m d g :N xp v , d d ’ kv . W d— d gv pp b d pp d p d g . ® A G p m m m — d d $2.99, p d g ﬁ g gp d m k . PG: How can retailers attract environmentally-conscious consumers? And how can ALEN help? GS: F , p d q
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CONTACT US TO OFFER THIS PRODUCT TO YOUR SHOPPER! T m J
Progressive Grocer spoke with Greg Schwarz, EVP and USA country manager, to discover how ALEN is meeting its mission to create a cleaner, more sustainable world, while stepping up and getting product on shelves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Future of Retail
What Innovation Means Now 20 RE TAILERS ARE REDEFINING THE GROCERY E XPERIENCE FOR THE COVID-19 AGE.
Before the pandemic, in-store dining rooms (restaurants, food halls, etc.) dominated the focus of retail foodservice projects. Today, the pandemic has forced retailers to rethink that focus. In June, Wegmans Food Markets permanently shuttered its Pub restaurants.
By Gina Acosta and Mike Troy
hange was happening at a rapid pace throughout the retail world prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. But when the virus happened, food retailers gained a new perspective on what an accelerating pace of change really looks like. Health officials imposed new policies that altered the lifestyle and behavior of every American, while essential retailers acted with ingenuity, instinct and a sense of purpose to serve shoppers and maintain safe operations under extraordinarily challenging circumstances. It was a display of innovation unlike anything the food retailing industry has ever seen, and it highlighted the speed at which retail leaders are capable of moving, especially when lives are at stake. COVID-19 revealed how innovation has become, or must become, a core competency for every retailer that hopes to be successful in the future. However, it
Key Takeaways The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the already rapid pace of change in the retail industry. The public health crisis also revealed how innovation has become, or must become, a core competency for every retailer that hopes to be successful in the future. Various food retailers are meeting the pandemic innovation challenge head-on, and flourishing as a result.
tended to be a reactionary type of innovation. Moving forward, as COVID-19 hopefully soon fades, retailers will resume the more purposeful and strategic type of innovation that was gaining traction throughout the industry. What that means can vary widely from retailer to retailer, but rest assured that innovation is alive and well, and happening faster than ever, as grocers transform their operations and the way that Americans discover, shop, buy, consume and experience food. Here are 20 retailers that are meeting the pandemic innovation challenge head-on, and staying ahead of what’s next.
Store Experience Evolution
Wegmans Food Markets Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets has just made a move that tells you everything that you need to know about the future of grocery innovation. The grocer with 101 locations is famous for its massive stores — some span more than 150,000 square feet — with quality dine-in foodservice departments. But with the COVID-19 crisis, how many consumers want to sit in a restaurant wearing a mask and positioned 6 feet apart from the next human? Now Wegmans has become one of the first food retailers to press the pause button on in-store dining post-COVID-19. In June, the retailer said that it would close all 12 of its Pub by Wegmans in-store restaurants, setting off what could be the start of a wave of grocerant closures. Wegmans is ahead of the game by pivoting its foodservice offering to be more focused on e-commerce at a time when the pandemic shows few signs of abating.
Stew Leonard’s Norwalk, Conn.-based Stew Leonard’s was doing oneway aisles way before anyone had ever heard of the word “coronavirus.” Each Stew Leonard’s store, including the newest one, in Paramus, N.J., has a rustic, farmers’ market-style feel, with a single one-way aisle winding through the store in a zigzag. The company says that shoppers have always liked the one-way aisle (even before social distancing was a thing), because the design gives them an immersive food experience. The grocer prides itself on carrying an abundance of fresh food and stocks an assortment that’s more than 60% private label, another disruptive grocery trend. Stew Leonard’s adds that it’s growing its storebrand assortment to leverage skyrocketing demand.
Publix Super Markets Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets’ newest format, GreenWise Market, reflects the latest thinking on how to serve natural and organic shoppers. The stores, which are opening slowly across the South, have an expanded foodservice offering, with custom-made pizzas, sushi, burrito bowls and artisan sandwiches all available for delivery or pickup. At the front of the store is the “Finds” department, where shoppers can purchase specialty cheeses, charcuterie and a wide range of wines, with some bottles costing upwards of $200 merchandised horizontally in a chilled glass case. GreenWise Market strives for a highly differentiated assortment, with about 70% of products designated as natural or organic, another 25% characterized as specialty items, and 5% considered traditional brands. This savvy mix of products enables Publix to take an innovative approach to natural.
Albertsons Cos. Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Cos. gave fans a hint of how it’s thinking about its next-generation format when it opened a 100,000-square-foot-plus store in Meridian, Idaho, last December. Albertsons Market Street features a popcorn station and one of the largest wine bottle collections in the state. The concept also features an expanded seafood and meat department, madefrom-scratch bakery items and deli salads, four aisles dedicated to pet food, and even a drive-thru pharmacy. At a time when Albertsons is also investing in micro fulfillment centers and other digital innovation efforts, the company is still committed to delighting in-store shoppers with a whopper of a store.
Meijer Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer, builder of massive supercenters in its Midwestern market area, thinks that going smaller is the way of the future in attracting urban shoppers. The retailer debuted its Woodward Corner Market format earlier this year, and even at a quarter of the size of a traditional Meijer store, it still packs a punch. The smaller store features fresh and prepared foods, and an estimated 2,000 local, artisan items. It will also offer a Great Lakes Coffee shop; an extensive beer, wine and liquor counter; and an expansive international food aisle catering to eight ethnic backgrounds.“Our small-format stores like Woodward Corner Market and Bridge Street Market provide new ways to serve our customers,” asserts Meijer President and CEO Rick Keyes.
Buc-ee’s Ask any Texan: What's the best place to get food and gas? The answer will more than likely be Buc-ee’s. The Houston-based chain of convenience stores has developed a cult-like following with its nearly 50,000-square-foot stores and assortments offering everything from toilet paper to local beer to buckets of bacon grease. The 37-store chain is now taking its unique operating model to new markets, hoping to capitalize on the cult-like devotion that it has inspired at home. Buc-ee’s is in the midst of a multistate expansion, having broken ground in Alabama, with further stops planned for Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas. Watch out, Wawa!
Rest assured that innovation is alive and well, and happening faster than ever, as grocers transform their operations and the way that Americans discover, shop, buy, consume and experience food. PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
Future of Retail Business Model Transformation
Casey’s General Stores The nation’s fifth-largest pizza chain isn’t Papa John’s or Little Caesars. It’s Ankeny, Iowa-based c-store chain Casey’s General Stores, which has been going all in on foodservice innovation, as evidenced by many of its newest hires and efforts to expand e-commerce and assortments. The company, which operates more than 2,200 stores in 16 Midwestern states, just hired a new CIO, Adrian Butler, who was previously CIO of Dine Brands Global, parent company of IHOP. The CIO role is new at Casey’s, and one that the company believes will lead its effort to advance next-generation technology. Butler’s hiring follows the addition of Steve Bramlage as CFO. He was previously CFO for eight years at Aramark, the $16 billion food, facilities and uniform services provider. His hiring followed the April appointment of Michelle Wickham, a former executive for national burger chain Red Robin, to the role of VP of foodservice.
The Kroger Co. If anyone has a winning formula for the future, it’s The Kroger Co., whose digital investments and unconventional partnerships are poised to pay off amid unprecedented pandemic demand from consumers. The Cincinnati-based grocery giant just logged record-breaking digital sales in its first quarter. Everyone is watching the company’s automated grocery partnership with U.K. e-commerce provider Ocado as they look to transform the world of digital grocery and the traditional operating model of grocery stores. And then there’s Kroger’s Pickup partnership with Deerfield, Ill.-based drug store operator Walgreens, a venture that solves many of the problems associated with grocery delivery. Considering that Walgreens has stores within five minutes of 75% of the U.S. population, Kroger may have solved the last-mile problem in a way that rivals will have difficulty duplicating.
Dollar General Americans can expect to see a lot of black and yellow in the coming years as Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General opens thousands more stores on top of an already impressive footprint of 16,368 locations. Late last year, the company revealed plans to open 1,000 new stores, remodel 1,500 others and relocate 80 stores in 2020. If Dollar General is able to follow through on its store expansion plans amid unprecedented COVID-19 demand, it will mark the company’s greatest increase in store expansion ever. Dollar General has been transforming itself from a discounter to a corner grocer, adding fresh and frozen food items to thousands of its stores through a cooler door expansion program and a multiphase shift to self-distribution of frozen and refrigerated goods. The company has also been accelerating the expansion of its produce offering, which provides the top 20 items typically sold in traditional grocery stores, and is focused on enhancements to its app and e-comm offerings.
Service Delivery Disruption
Walmart Walmart is working to change how many products and services are delivered to consumers, but no service offering may be as critical in the middle
of a pandemic than health care. The Bentonville, Ark.based company has recently launched four Walmart Health clinics in the South as it looks to “innovate, transform the industry and create significant health care savings for customers.” The health care concept is bound to expand to more of the company’s stores across the country as Walmart repurposes space at its massive supercenters to engage with shoppers in new ways. Last month, Walmart acquired the intellectual property of CareZone, including an app that helps patients manage health information and access health services. The partnership gives the company more ammunition in the retail health arena against competitors such as Seattle-based Amazon, which owns online pharmacy PillPack.
Choice Market This grocery store/fast-casual restaurant/ upscale c-store chain based in Denver features a chef-driven kitchen, prepared foods, fresh produce, groceries, beer, cashierless checkout, fuel pumps, and supercharging stations for electric cars. Choice says that it works with local farmers to source a majority of its products, including organic produce and antibiotic- and nitrate-free proteins. Last April, the retailer launched a campaign to remove all single-use plastic water bottles from its stores by 2021. Refill stations mean that Choice customers can now refill their reusable water bottles and other containers safely and never have to buy another plastic water bottle again. Choice currently has two locations in the Denver metro area, with three additional locations set to open by the end of 2020.
Thrive Market Online grocer Thrive Market is, well, thriving. The membership-based retailer with headquarters in Los Angeles told The Wall Street Journal in June that sales were up 110% in May compared with a year ago. When Americans couldn’t find peanut butter or toilet paper at the local supermarket (or they just wanted to avoid going to the store), they rushed to their computers to buy groceries. Thrive, which is privately held, now has more than 800,000 members, who pay $60 a year. The company notes that it has seen more than 100,000 people sign up during the pandemic. Although Thrive doesn’t disclose sales, CEO Nick Green says that they’re in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. This past June, the grocer responded to demand from quarantined shoppers for frozen foods, entering the category by rolling out its own branded Paleo and Plant-Based Bowls.
Instacart and Shipt The rocket ship known as Instacart recently got another infusion of fuel. In June, the San Francisco-based grocery delivery company was valued at $1 billion after securing $225 million in new funding to scale its
Amazon said in June that it would invest in the speed of its supply chain by leasing an additional 12 Boeing 767-300 aircraft ahead of the opening of the Amazon Air Hub, near Cincinnati. The 12 new airplanes will join a fleet that has grown to 70 aircraft since its launch in August 2016. Amazon's Air Hub, which is expected to employ 2,000 people, will open in 2021.
operations as it races to keep up with shopper demand for online grocery. Instacart says that it expects to deploy the new capital by continuing to support its growing shopper community and further scaling its operational and technical teams. The company, which has hired about 300,000 new workers since March, is now accessible to more than 85% of households in the United States and more than 70% of households in Canada. The new cash infusion comes at a pivotal time for Instacart and for the online grocery space in general. More and more shoppers are buying groceries online due to the pandemic. Instacart and Shipt have benefited from that trend over the past few months. Birmingham, Ala.-based Shipt, which is owned by Target, has hired more than 70,000 new shoppers during the public health crisis. According to Minneapolis-based Target, Shipt’s sales grew 278% in its first quarter ended May 2.
Ahold Delhaize For Dutch retail conglomerate Ahold Delhaize, disrupting its core selling strategy is key to building the e-commerce experience that customers want. That’s why the company is focused on adding more warerooms, or dedicated areas attached to Ahold Delhaize USA stores such as Giant Food or Stop & Shop that allow for centralized distribution supporting efficiency and accuracy in order fulfillment (similar to micro fulfillment centers). This month, Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop revealed that it will add three new warerooms and at least 50 more pickup locations in 2020 to support increased e-commerce demand and make it easier for more customers in the northeastern United States to have Stop & Shop groceries delivered to their doors.
70 aircraft since its launch in August 2016. Amazon broke ground on the Air Hub in May 2019, and when fully operational, the facility is expected to employ 2,000 people. The combination of a fleet of more than 80 aircraft and a major air hub in a centralized location gives Amazon a new and different type of speed advantage, and more direct control over its supply chain. According to the e-commerce giant, its air fleet expansion comes at a time when people in communities across the country continue to adjust to an unprecedented time, with many relying on having the items they need delivered directly to their doorsteps. Now, with expanded cargo capacity to come, Amazon will continue to meet evolving demand and a growing customer base.
Raley’s Supermarkets The pandemic has forced many food retailers to respond to massive customer demand for online grocery delivery and pickup. But West Sacramento, Calif.-based Raley’s Supermarkets is responding to a different kind of pandemic-related consumer demand: a demand for food transparency. According to a new report from FMI - The Food Industry Association and
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Amazon Seattle-based Amazon is reimagining a lot of things, but the self-distribution model seems to be priority No. 1, with the growth of Amazon Air. In June, the company said that it would invest in the speed of its supply chain by leasing an additional 12 Boeing 767-300 aircraft ahead of next year’s opening of the Amazon Air Hub, near Cincinnati. The 12 new airplanes will join a fleet that has grown to
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Future of Retail Label Insight, “Transparency Trends: Omnichannel Grocery Shopping from the Consumer Perspective,” 81% of shoppers say that transparency is more important to them now, during the pandemic, than ever before. The grocer’s latest move involves opening a new concept called Raley’s O-N-E Market, which is focused on food transparency and education, with a highly curated product selection. Raley’s O-N-E Market says that its assortment of products is nutritious, organic when possible, minimally processed and sustainably sourced. In every department, the items on the shelves are selected to exclude ingredients from the Raley’s O-N-E Market banned-ingredient list.
goPuff In every city in America there’s a 23-year-old in need of last-minute snacks at 1 a.m., but who wants those snacks delivered. That’s why there’s Philadelphia-based goPuff, founded by two college students in 2013. For a flat $1.95 fee, a consumer can order candy, soda, toilet paper or a pre-made salad and get it delivered in under 30 minutes. The company operates in more than 500 cities across the United States and works with distributors to deliver snacks, drinks, ice cream, personal care items, home essentials, baby products, alcohol, over-the-counter medicine, and more. Last year, goPuff opened its 150 th distribution facility, nearly tripling the number in one year.
Raley's Supermarkets has opened a new concept called Raley’s O-N-E Market, which is focused on food transparency and education, with a highly curated product selection. Raley’s O-N-E Market says that its assortment of products is nutritious, organic when possible, minimally processed and sustainably sourced. In every department, the items on the shelves are selected to exclude ingredients from the Raley’s O-N-E Market banned-ingredient list.
Basics Market There’s an innovative grocery retailer in Portland, Ore., that’s resonating with consumers who are looking for more local and less processed foods. Basics Market, which opened its fourth location in Portland’s Hillsdale area last February, was founded by natural food pioneer Chuck Eggert and works with
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local producers “to provide high-quality products at lower prices, while preserving nutrition and minimizing distribution costs and waste.” The retailer designs its stores with a small-format layout where shoppers can find ingredients organized by recipes that were developed by award-winning chefs and vetted by staff nutritionists for optimal health. Stores also offer a Discovery Kitchen classroom with state-of-the-art cooking facilities and a full schedule of free classes, including hands-on workshops, interactive demonstrations, and nutrition classes taught by Basics Market’s culinary and nutrition mentors.
PCC Community Markets The PCC Community Markets cooperative has a deep and long history of being at the forefront of sustainability innovation. Last year, the Seattle-area grocer and largest community-owned food market in the nation became the first grocer in the world to pursue Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Certification, the most rigorous green-building standard. The retailer also became among the first to launch compostable deli containers, thus removing 8 million pieces of single-use plastic from the waste stream annually. Yet while PCC is perhaps best known for its environmental work, it’s also a formidable competitor within the grocery industry, consistently raising standards across all aspects of its business. At PCC, the produce department is 98% 9:13 organic, KinterCSN_PrintAdFINAL.pdf 1 1/30/20 AM the coffee bar
is Fair Trade, and the locally sourced, premium-quality private label program is seeing double-digit growth year over year. In 2018, PCC contributed 50% of its after-tax earnings to its members and its surrounding communities. The co-op has also donated 430,000 meals to food banks and given to more than 600 community organizations and schools.
H-E-B Texas grocer H-E-B is helping the hurting restaurant industry and tapping into pent-up consumer demand for foodservice with an innovative program. In April, the San Antonio-based retailer teamed up with local restaurants to prepare meals to go for H-E-B’s Meal Simple program of chef-inspired grab-and-go meals. Participating restaurants prepare and deliver the meals to a limited number of H-E-B stores, the restaurants set the price for each meal, and H-E-B pays them for what’s prepared. At the same time, the grocer isn’t abandoning dine-in foodservice. In June, the company confirmed that it’s adding a food hall, a bar and an outpost of restaurant chain True Texas BBQ to an Austin store this August. Could H-E-B be signalling that grocerants will come roaring back?
PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
Kroger Builds on its Invisible Advantage THE GROCER IS SE T TING A NE W STANDARD FOR PRECISION AND ACCOUNTABILIT Y. By Mike Troy f all of the ways that innovation is happening in retail, some of the most profound changes are occurring in how retailers and brands engage with and influence shopper behavior. These marketing innovations, unlike a splashy new ad campaign, are happening in less visible ways that involve data capture, analytics, personalized offers, measurement, integration and optimization. They’re also happening against a backdrop of huge changes in the way that brand budgets are allocated against new and existing media types. This is due to a quiet revolution happening in the marketing world, in which retailers have emerged as media platforms — networks, in essence. This revolution hasn’t been all that quiet for those involved in marketing, but it’s poised to gain traction in the second half of 2020 and beyond as digital grocery accelerates. Retailers large and small now realize the value of their shopper audiences in an increasingly digitally engaged world where everything is becoming clickable and shoppable. In such an environment, brand marketing budgets are being put to use in new, interconnected and highly measurable ways. “As shoppers are changing their buying behaviors, and there is an easier connection between an advertisement and influencing the buy, the reality is the days of historic silos in media investment choices are all starting to blur,” says Cara Pratt, VP of commercial and product strategy for Kroger Precision
This is a unique milestone moment for many brand marketers to think through how they protect who they have and how they retain who is newly influenced in engaging with their portfolio. We have a unique opportunity to leverage our audience intelligence to help them deliver against the brand objectives they may have.” —Cara Pratt, Kroger Precision Marketing at 84.51˚
Key Takeaways In marketing, retailers have emerged as media platforms, with more realizing the value of their shopper audiences in a digitally engaged world. Kroger Precision Marketing (KPM), a cross-channel media solution, can help brand marketers make sense of spending behaviors upended by the coronavirus. KPM new hire Nancy Winé, who’s leading advertising sales across all regions and clients, is eager to create new ways to build baskets and drive impulse in e-grocery.
Marketing (KPM) at 84.51°. Those silos consist of brand investment dollars spent against awareness and consideration tactics, shopper marketing activities in store, or trade investment dollars used for price promotions at shelf. The fourth silo now involves spending related to digitally engaged shoppers interacting with e-commerce. “We’ve gone from three relatively clear lines of investments on behalf of a CPG advertiser to four potential verticals, which are starting to blur the line,” Pratt notes. “The path to purchase is no longer linear, and there are new ways to create shoppable moments that are not as distinct as before, when standing in front of a shelf.”
The Rise of KPM
Kroger recognized this shift sooner than most, when, in the fall of 2017, it created KPM, powered by its data science subsidiary 84.51°. KPM functions as a cross-channel media solution focused on precise, personalized communication to customers, with one distinct advantage: It taps into first-party purchase data from 60 million households
that participate in Kroger’s loyalty program and are connected to 96% of the Cincinnati-based grocer’s sales. The insights and capabilities of KPM are shaping up to be especially useful in the back half of 2020 as brand marketers attempt to make sense of spending behaviors disrupted by COVID-19. “There is a whole new treasure trove of data,” Pratt says, “as we are seeing a lot of new households take advantage of grocery pickup and delivery at scale.” She believes that it’s a pivotal time for brands as new households buy different brands and experiment with new categories. “This is a unique milestone moment for many brand marketers to think through how they protect who they have and how they retain who is newly influenced in engaging with their portfolio,” Pratt adds. “We have a unique opportunity to leverage our audience intelligence to help them deliver against the brand objectives they may have.” Early indications are that brands are taking advantage of KPM. Despite the fact that brands slowed promotional activity in March and April as products were practically flying off shelves, the media business rebounded so strongly in May, as digital sales growth entered triple-digit territory, that Kroger CFO Gary Millerchip told investors that KPM was on track to experience 50% growth in 2020. This rate of growth is noteworthy because, in addition to helping brands drive sales, KPM is a key element of Kroger’s “alternative revenue streams” that are expected to be key contributors to profit growth. In that sense, KPM is similar to Amazon’s advertising business, which blossomed as its website became immensely popular and overtook Google as the place shoppers went to first to search for products. By tapping into the traffic on its website, Amazon last year reported “other” revenues of $14 billion, which a footnote in its financial results said “primarily includes sales of advertising services, as well as sales related to our other service offerings.” Other revenues in Amazon’s first quarter increased 44% to $3.9 billion. It’s little wonder, then, that retail media is broadly appealing and the source of high expectations at retailers such as Kroger, which boasts similarities to Seattle-based Amazon, including a large and loyal base of customers that doubles as an audience. “We remain confident in the significant potential of alternative profits, especially given the contin-
Kroger has a footprint and unique ability to win in grocery e-commerce, and I want to help continue to build out that foundation.” —Nancy Winé, Kroger Precision Marketing at 84.51˚
ued growth in traffic across our store and digital ecosystem,” Millerchip said when Kroger reported its first-quarter results on June 18. “Despite short-term headwinds due to COVID-19, we continue to expect alternative profit to be a major accelerator of our model in the future.”
Navigating ‘Super-Uncharted Territory’
Helping spread the KPM gospel with Pratt is a former Amazon executive well versed in the advantages of precision targeting. Nancy Winé joined KPM in May to lead advertising sales across all regions and clients. She spent the previous nine years at Amazon, where she co-created the consumables vertical, which is now the largest advertising vertical at Amazon. Prior to Amazon, Winé was on the senior management team for Integer/TBWA, where she launched and scaled Integer’s Digitail practice across more than 600 employees. “I love to build and make things, and grocery is super-uncharted territory,” Winé says of her decision to join KPM. “Kroger has a footprint and unique ability to win in grocery e-commerce, and I want to help continue to build out that foundation. We have a very long runway with KPM, and we are innovating and creating new ways to build baskets and drive impulse.” The perceived length of that runway comes back to the major structural changes happening in the marketing world overall as all forms of digital grow and intersect. “There has historically been a significant difference in investment choices, and as we look forward, we are starting to see those lines blur, and it’s largely due to new opportunities to engage with customers, but also customers’ new opportunities to buy, whether they’re in their car, on a sofa, in a store or anywhere in between,” Pratt observes. “The future is really about unlocking more shoppable moments, and doing that with the most effective audience to deliver against a brand’s objectives, driving clarity into how investments influence behavior and creating more end-to-end synchronization. That’s what advertisers are clamoring for, and what they deserve.” Looking forward, Pratt and Winé hint at new KPM experiences and new content opportunities to inspire connections to brands, but offer no details except to say that they’re excited to release details soon. The pair also indicate that future capabilities will be driven by what advertisers are most interested in and how KPM leverages its assets to deliver against those needs. “We are really focused on driving a new level of accountability into media investments,” Pratt notes. PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
Digital Adoption to Cripple Print Promotions COUPONS.COM FOUNDER OFFERS A DIRE PREDICTION. By Mike Troy
ighteen months. That’s how long Steven Boal says it will be before digital methods of engaging with shoppers replace the familiar print promotional vehicle known as the free-standing insert (FSI). If he’s right, the retail world and consumers are in for a big change — one that’s been a long time coming, as Boal can attest. In 1998, at the dawn of the internet age, he founded Coupons.com with the intent of disrupting the world of retail promotions, but the transformative change happened more slowly than he expected. Today, Boal is chairman and CEO of Mountain View, Calif.-based Quotient Technology, created when Coupons.com rebranded in 2015 to reflect the firm’s expanded offering of promotional solutions, which goes beyond the digitization of coupons. “I was early with a capital E and With the technological an exclamation point,” Boal says of changes, the impact of his initial plans to disrupt the world of print coupons. “In 1998, when COVID-19, which is an I founded the company, I actually accelerant, and CPGs finally expected, watching the way media raising their hand and publicly consumption was changing — resaying they’re coming out of member, this was pre-smartphone and it was the Wild West out here the free-standing insert, this in California — that about 20% of 50-year-old promotional vehicle the physical coupons delivered in will be gone in 18 months.” newspapers would transfer to dig—Steven Boal, Quotient Technology ital. I was surprised, and continue
Key Takeaways According to Steven Boal, chairman and CEO of Quotient Technology (formerly Coupons.com), the days of printed promotional vehicles are numbered. This shift toward digital promotions, already underway, was sped along by COVID-19. Boal believes that mixed-mode shopping will become the new normal.
to be surprised, at how long it took for that to happen. Instead of it taking the original five years that I expected, it took 20 years for 20% to shift.” The key drive of the shift was the decline of Sunday newspaper circulation, which today is less than half of what it was at its peak of around 62 million in the early 1990s. Meanwhile, digital methods of consuming information continue to gain traction. “I’m a strong believer that a free, independent press is a cornerstone of democracy, but the printed newspaper is probably on its last leg, sadly,” Boal says, “and the printed coupon will be gone in 18 months.” Of course, it’s possible that Boal is early in his prediction, as he was before, or even wrong. But the latter seems unlikely, given digital trends overall and the fact that Boal now has a clear view into the world of CPG marketing. Quotient works with some of the biggest names in retail and more than 700 consumer goods companies. That means Boal is in a position to see change coming in how advertising budgets are being allocated and how shopper behavior is changing as a result of COVID-19.
“The thing that will likely surprise me the most over the next two years is how quickly this entire industry goes from being a laggard to an innovator,” Boal says. “With the technological changes, the impact of COVID-19, which is an accelerant, and CPGs finally raising their hand and publicly saying they’re coming out of the free-standing insert, this 50-year-old promotional vehicle will be gone in 18 months.” Quotient, along with other digital marketing solution providers, is doing its part to accelerate the demise of print promotional vehicles. The company is among those offering marketers a better mousetrap to engage with shoppers in a highly precise, measurable and impactful way. One recent example involved the company’s decision in May to work with Birmingham, Ala.-based grocery delivery provider Shipt, owned by Target Corp. The arrangement makes coupons from companies such as Bayer HealthCare, Kimberly-Clark, Colgate-Palmolive, and Johnson & Johnson available through the Shipt website and app for the first time. Customers select their preferred retailer, and then discover coupons as they browse the items they need, and coupons also appear for applicable items on product pages. Once selected, coupons are redeemed when items are purchased and delivered by a Shipt Shopper. Customers can also virtually clip coupons in the app’s savings tab to be redeemed later at checkout
The COVID-19 Effect
The shift toward digital promotions was well established and the trend line was clear at the start of the year. However, when COVID-19 happened, it caused short-term disruption in CPG and retailer promotions while simultaneously helping to accelerate longer-term digital trends. As the outbreak of COVID-19 turned into a national emergency and pantry loading occurred, many brands curtailed promotions because they weren’t needed to grow sales, and shoppers were likely to be disappointed if promoted items weren’t available and out-of-stock levels were high. Also, retailers were looking to limit store traffic. The combination of those factors caused an interruption in promotions, but also caused a massive shift in consumer behavior, with more shoppers now digitally engaged. Customers who were already e-commerce users became even bigger digital fans, while others, eager to avoid setting foot in physical stores, became e-commerce customers for the first time. As they did so, they entered the digital food retailing universe, where they comprise a new type of audience that retailers provide access to via media platform. As more shoppers enter the digital fold, it means that CPGs and retailers can be more precise in targeting than was ever possible with print FSIs and circulars, which Boal defines as separate vehicles, although sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. For example, according to Boal, the FSI is typically delivered through a newspaper or mail delivery and really comprises direct-response national and regional couponing, while the circular is a vehicle that features manufacturer discounts for specific products negotiated with retailers. “Both of those vehicles are on their way out,” Boal maintains. “The
circular is moving more slowly than the FSI because so much of merchandising is dependent on that. And so while Quotient offers digital platform solutions for both of those, I believe the first thing to go will be the FSI.”
More Change Ahead
Regardless of the time frame in which the shift to all digital occurs, it has the potential to benefit smaller brands that may have lacked marketing budgets to participate in FSI or circular programs. Some of these smaller brands may have been purchased by consumers for the first time during the pandemic pantry-loading period in March and April, when shoppers discovered that their preferred brands weren’t available. Smaller brands that filled the void now have the digital means to drive repeat purchase and become preferred brands. “We have about 600 second-, third- and fourth-tier brands on our platform portfolio, and those brands are looking to stay top of mind with digital in a way that analog can’t,” Boal says. “They don’t have the budgets, and they also have cash-flow concerns because they’re also cranking up their supply chains. So we bring those brands to a retailer as a set and say, ‘Here’s an opportunity for all of these brands to participate in the retail system, where they never had that opportunity before.’” While Boal has a dim view of the future of printed promotional vehicles, he has a different view of the physical and digital retail world, where, he contends, mixed-mode shopping is going to be the new normal. “Retailers that have the biggest store footprint, that are closest to the shoppers, that a lot of people show up to pick up their things and maybe discover something else, they are going to win in the long term,” Boal says. But winning long-term also means retailers will have to redesign store spaces that are currently optimized for physical shopping, not the fulfillment of digital orders. “The innovative retailers are thinking about how to design stores for partial warehousing and partial discovery,” he adds. “There’s actually some technological innovation and some process innovation coming that is pretty exciting.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
“You may run into a vegetable and think, 'This would be good with X,' or you may run into a method of preparation and think, 'Oh my God, this would be amazing with Y.' You never know where it is going to come from. I think about food all the time.” —Paul Wahlberg, Chef and Co-Founder, Wahlburgers
RETAIL FOODSERVICE INNOVATION
Ask a Chef WAHLBURGERS CHEF AND CO-FOUNDER PAUL WAHLBERG DISHES ON MENU TRENDS, RE TAIL REL ATIONSHIPS AND HOW THE RESTAURANT CHAIN HAS WE ATHERED COVID-19. By Mike Troy he Wahlburgers casual-dining restaurant and bar has quietly grown to 37 units in 18 states and two foreign countries. Well known for burgers made from a proprietary beef blend, and the involvement of Chef Paul Wahlberg’s celebrity brothers and co-founders Mark and Donnie — note how the name of the restaurant is a play on the family surname that incorporates the chief item on the menu — Wahlburgers recently named fast-casual veteran John Fuller CEO and struck a deal with Hy-Vee to convert the West Des Moines, Iowa-based grocer’s Market Grille locations to Wahlburgers. Progressive Grocer spoke recently with Chef Paul.
Progressive Grocer: What’s the best thing you’ve had to eat in the past week? Paul Wahlberg: I made dinner for my daughter and I at home. We had seared salmon with vegetables with Indian spices, and then finished it with a roasted-carrot yogurt.
PG: Where do you find inspiration for new menu items? PW: I find it everywhere. You never know what you are going to run into or what kind of conversations you are going to have. When you talk about food from your past, something always pops up, and then trying to turn that into something contemporary really helps out. You may run into a vegetable and think, “This would be good with X,” or you may run into a method of preparation and think, “Oh my God, this would be amazing with Y.” You never know where it is going to come from. I think about food all the time.
PG: What’s the hottest trend you see in the food world right now, whether in restaurants or retail?
Paul Wahlberg prepares to chow down on one of the signature offerings at his restaurant chain, Wahlburgers.
PW: There was a re-emergence of comfort foods as people hunkered down, and plant-based items are huge. Comfort food is a core thing for people that puts people at ease, in a state of mind. From-scratch cooking is huge now, too.
PG: Food trends can be all over the place, so do you have to avoid getting too crazy or you risk alienating customers? PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
RETAIL FOODSERVICE INNOVATION
PW: At the end of the day, we are a burger joint, so we have to stay true to the core of what we do. That, to me, is the most important thing.
PG: Do you ever feel constrained? PW: Absolutely. We are more constrained by the equipment piece of it. We don’t have a lot of equipment that you would see if [we were] more of a full-service restaurant. We don’t have any ovens on the line, so I can’t make anything that requires an oven. You want to get a little more creative or experimental, but it is hard.
PG: Have you tasted any of the plant-based burgers? PW: We did a tasting a few years back on the plant-based burgers, and we made the decision to offer the Impossible Burger in our restaurants. It is now one of the top 10 items on our menu, and in the past, I would have never thought we would see that. They did a really good job with it. They have the texture and flavor down.
PG: Would you consider creating a proprietary plant-based blend like you did with the Wahlburgers beef blend?
Top: A Wahlburgers interior. Right: A typical meal served up by the burger joint. Below: The restaurant chain's blended beef patties are also available for purchase at retail.
PW: I don’t know if I’m going to go that far. Way smarter people than I are working on plant-based products now, and they are coming up with some amazing things.
PG: How did Wahlburgers adjust when COVID-19 hit? PW: Some of our locations closed down, and some were able to provide takeout. We had a good following early on, but as we got more involved with some of the digital platforms, things really escalated. How each location responded was different, based on local regulations.
PG: Talk about the Hy-Vee relationship and plans to convert the company’s 21 Market Grille concepts to Wahlburgers. Where are things at with that? PW: We opened a few of the locations earlier this summer, and they have been doing fantastic. They put a ton of work into it, and they are such great partners. They really get it and are all about customer service. We are so happy with everything they have been doing and where things are going.
PG: You recently named a new CEO, John Fuller, with a strong background at some well-known fast-casual concepts. How do you expect him to help the business? PW: He’s a fantastic, solid guy and super-talented. He knows the ins and outs of international [business] and understands the complexities of the industry and compliance challenges. He’s really going to help us expand our base.
PG: What is your aspiration when it comes to expansion?
PW: I’m just worried about the next burger going out. That is my No. 1 concern. Whatever the restaurant becomes, I will be happy with that. If we get to a certain number, and that is as many as we have, then that is what we have. We have to make sure every location executes at a high level. We want to be best in class with the best customer service, the best-quality food and the best customer experience. That is the only thing that I want to focus on, because that is what’s going to drive the business.
PG: How much help do you get from your brothers Mark and Donnie? PW: They are both unbelievable and have really good insight. They don’t want to work on the day-to-day stuff, but if you ask big-picture questions, they really get it, because of their backgrounds in the entertainment industry. They are always extremely helpful.
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The ABCs of Fall Produce KIDS MAY BE LE ARNING FROM HOME WHEN SCHOOL BEGINS, BUT THE Y AND THEIR FAMILIES CAN STILL FUEL UP ON HE ALTHY FRUITS AND VEGGIES. By D. Gail Fleenor
all is harvest time and back to school time (maybe). Regardless of whether they’re in a physical school building, kids — not to mention their grown-up caregivers — need healthy lunches with produce every day. Shorter days; crisp, cool air; and crispy, sweet apples can be signs that fall is here. Many fruits and vegetables are at their sweetest during this time. When kids head back to school and adults to workplaces, healthy lunches will be needed. Even if consumers stay home longer, attention to diet is important. Here are a few ABCs of fall produce, featuring some new and convenient fruit and vegetable items to promote for lunchboxes.
Key Takeaways Consumers are currently visiting grocery stores less often, and looking for ways to stock up on fruits that will last longer at home if refrigerated. Lunchboxes can be for kids or adults, especially if they’re bento boxes. Help customers create lunches their kids want to eat, and promote value-added produce for busy consumers who will be packing lunches.
Confidence & Convenience: Case Ready brings the full package Meat packaging matters more today than ever before. Safety concerns lead shoppers to choose products that have been through less handling, while bulk buying raises the demand for freezer ready packaging. Open Prairie® Natural* case ready products meet these new consumer needs while also helping the meat department save time. This convenient new product lineup brings Never Ever beef and pork to the meat case in exact weight, code dated and UPC scannable packages, which reduces time and labor spent for the meat department. Each product is vacuum sealed to ensure freshness while also reducing shrink and out of stocks and increasing assortment. The packages also come in cases that are lighter and easier to handle than traditional boxed beef and pork, reducing physical demands on your staff.
As consumers look for ways to shop with confidence and convenience, they are searching for meat that is mess free, freezer ready and consistent in size and quality. Exact weight packaging ensures they are getting the same product every time, even when shopping online. Plus, as more shoppers search for meat with no antibiotics or added hormones, Open Prairie Natural Meats provides a wholesome, uncomplicated protein that consumers feel comfortable feeding their families. Refresh your meat case with the new, easy to stock Open Prairie Natural case ready product lineup. Find out more today at OpenPrairieMeats.com.
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A is for Lunchbox Apples
One of the largest fruit growers in the United States, Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt will continue its Lil Snappers line for fall. “It aligns well with the typical back-to-school timing, because that’s when our apples and pears are newly harvested,” notes Brianna Shales,
Melissa's Muscatos Grapes are much sweeter than the average grape.
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Stemilt’s senior marketing manager. The smaller-fruit program has evolved into the leading 3# pouch-bag brand for apples, with year-round availability. Lil Snappers has seen great growth during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the package size, Shales says: “Consumers are visiting the grocery store fewer times and will stock up on fruits like apples and pears that will last a while if refrigerated.” The package provides nine to 12 kid-sized fruits to help parents provide a healthy snack for kids whether they’re at school or still at home. “Personally, my kids request many snacks during these at-home days, and it’s nice to have the package of apples sized just for them in the fridge,” she observes. “The pandemic has changed grocery shopping habits so it’s encouraging to see both produce sales and organic sales up year over year,” asserts Shales. “In fact, apples are among the top four organic items in the produce department.” Multiple organic varieties are available in the Lil Snappers line, including Gala, Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Fuji. Shales believes that carrying organic Lil Snappers apples is an excellent opportunity for retailers to strengthen the category, especially while consumer habits continue to change. “Lil Snappers is great for online sales,” she notes. “Also, while shopping trip frequency is down, the larger pack size provides enough apples to feed a family with two kids an apple snack every day for a week.”
B is for Bento Boxes
If you’re not familiar with bento boxes, now is the time to learn about this concept, which is catching on quickly with kids and adults. The bento box originated centuries ago in Japan as a single-portion meal or snack container. Boxes are available in many stores now. They are reusable and can contain almost any kind of food, especially fruits and vegetables. It’s a great way to compartmentalize foods by segment, control portion sizes, and even keep foods
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We recognize that lunch still needs to be consumed, and now more than ever, we need to make sure those lunches are packed full of nutrition.” —Amanda Keefer, Produce for Kids.
separate for consumers — many of them youngsters — who don’t like their food items to touch. Children can help fill their own boxes for the next day, whether for school or at-home consumption. A display of several bento boxes in the produce department is ideal for generating customer interest and sales. Boxes are available at a variety of prices. Hikers and other outdoor athletes also enjoy them. According to several dietitians, each box should contain a protein, vegetables with dip if possible, and fruit. “This year, we are trying something new with our two young kids,” says Cindy Sherman, director of marketing at Frieda’s Specialty Produce, in Los Alamitos, Calif. “I picked up bento boxes that make packing lunches a breeze. It’s easy to fill the compartments with kumquats, jicama sticks, cheese and whole grain pretzels.” Powering kids’ lunchboxes is a high priority for Orlando, Fla.based Produce for Kids (PFK). Back-to-school may be taking place in different ways this year, but the group is still teaming up with health-conscious brands to bring lunchbox ideas to families. “We recognize that lunch still needs to be consumed and now more than ever, we need to make sure those lunches are packed full of nutrition,” notes Amanda Keefer, PFK’s managing director. Brands currently participating in the program include Bee Sweet Citrus, Crispy Green, Litehouse, NatureFresh Farms, Pero Family Farms, RealSweet and Zespri, and the organization is looking for more key partners. “We work with Produce for Kids,” says Jeff Wingo, supervisor of produce operations at Town & Country Supermarkets, in East Salem, Mo. “We have point-of-sale material in our stores, and also make note of certain items in our ad if they are a Produce for Kids sponsor. We have also used our social media pages to promote healthy recipes and partner with them on other events.”
Convenience Begins with “C”
“Convenience is the name of the game for encouraging kids to eat fruits and vegetables,” observes Annette Maggi, retail accounts manager for the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), based in Brentwood, Mo. “Retailers can promote pre-cut fruits and vegetables as perfect options for adding to lunchboxes or to have on hand for easy self-serve snacks. Or produce
Bento boxes are gaining in popularity for packing healthy lunches.
“With their convenient packaging, it is easy to merchandise them with other common snacking produce like apples or oranges for a back-to-school destination set.” Retailers can also add items such as Frieda’s cape gooseberries, jicama and watermelon radishes to their displays, since shoppers are on the lookout for new, healthy treats that will appeal to kids. To inspire parents, Frieda’s will host a social media campaign starting in August on Instagram and Facebook, and dedicated to sharing what parents are putting in their kids’ lunchboxes as they head back to learn. The campaign uses the hashtag #WhatsForLunch.
departments can offer recipes done all in pictures that kids can make themselves, which are bundled with the produce ingredients.” Supermarkets will be promoting items for lunchboxes with convenient healthy food to keep kids energized all day. “Frieda’s Chilean kumquats are the perfect school snack because they are bite-sized, delicious and ready to eat,” suggests Alex Berkley, director of sales at Frieda’s.
Melissa's Muscatos Grapes are much sweeter than the average grape.
The pandemic has changed grocery shopping habits, so it’s encouraging to see both produce sales and organic sales up year over year.” —Brianna Shales, Stemilt
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Los Angeles-based specialty produce company Melissa’s, meanwhile, has its own range of convenient and healthy produce. For example, the company’s Muscatos grapes are convenient and a naturally sweet option for lunchboxes or snacks. The red, green or black seedless grapes are available during the California season of late June to early October, with peak season from mid-July to mid-September. “Kids love flavorful and colorful grapes,” says Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Melissa’s. Its Muscatos grapes, for instance, have a crisp texture and juicy interior. “Muscatos grapes are much sweeter than the average grape, measuring at a Brix [sweetness] level of at least 22 compared to the average grape Brix of about 16,” he notes. Since only washing is needed, Muscatos grapes are a convenient and welcome lunch addition. They may be stored for up to two weeks wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Melissa’s will run its biggest fall promotion, next to Thanksgiving, from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31. This will be the fourth year for Freaky Fruit, when retailers can create Halloween-themed displays of Melissa’s exotic fruit. According to Schueller, participating retailers see sales increase 20% year to year. The company provides signage and other promotional materials. For more ideas, check out Lunchbox Dad — also known as Beau Coffron — at www.lunchboxdad.com. The site bills itself as “Making parents’ lives easier and kids’ lunches exciting.” There are many bento box ideas on the site. Coffron is among 24 of PBH’s Fruit and Vegetable Ambassadors in Action who offer posts, tips and tricks to encourage kids to eat more fruits and vegetables. As kids become more familiar with various fruits and vegetables at lunchtime, they’ll want to keep adding produce to maintain a healthy diet in the future.
Healthier Days for the Family Eating fruits and vegetables is, of course, an ideal way to create healthy diets for children and adults alike, and there are certain spices and produce that increase immunity against diseases. Los Angeles-based Melissa’s now offers a package of 70% ginger/30% turmeric, two spices that are known for their anti-inflammatory characteristics, as well as making good additions to a variety of dishes. “Since a little goes a long way in these two powerful spices, Melissa’s is now offering them in one convenient package,” says Robert Schueller, the specialty produce company’s public relations director. The Brentwood, Mo.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), meanwhile, recommends marketing certain produce to adult shoppers who are seeking food safety and immune health. Fall favorites like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots and certain squashes are all sources of beta carotene, an antioxidant that may support immune health. Sweet or spicy peppers as well as spinach are high in vitamin C. Combined displays and signage can draw shoppers’ attention to these options that help keep immune systems running at their peak, notes Annette Maggi, a registered dietitian and retail accounts manager at PBH.
On the Move NUTRITION BARS AND BE VER AGES AREN’T JUST FOR DEDICATED ATHLE TES, BUT ALSO FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO E AT BE T TER. By Bridget Goldschmidt
he coronavirus pandemic has been tough on everyone, but for those committed to regular physical workouts, the situation has had its own particular challenges. “There is no doubt about it: The pandemic has made it more difficult for Americans to exercise, especially with gyms and health clubs closing,” asserts Aryn Doll, RDN, nutrition education specialist at Lakewood, Colo.-based Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage. “Despite this, many are finding creative solutions to stay moving and continue their exercise regimens at home, which has helped to maintain and potentially even grow sales in the sports and performance products arena.” According to Doll, the retailer offers a range of high-quality and affordable sport- and performance-specific products, along with foundational supplements, and among its top-selling categories are collagens, whey and plant proteins, MCT oils, electrolytes, and pre- and post-workout formulas. During the pandemic, Natural Grocers saw its performance nutrition category increase by 3.2%, the protein category rise by 10.8%, and collagens soar by 19%. The company provides customers and its good4u Crew with free nutrition education on a quarterly basis about a different supplement that can aid their health, and has on staff highly trained nutrition experts, also known as Nutritional Health Coaches (NHCs), to help customers achieve their fitness goals, notes Shelby Miller, Natural Grocers’ manager of scientific affairs and nutrition education. Beyond its effect on hardcore athletes, the public health crisis has made a lot of consumers reconsider their approach to wellness. Doll observes that “many Americans are recognizing the importance of getting back to our roots — including eating healthier and exercising more — for maintaining health and immune resiliency. In other words, consumers are looking to engage in healthier behaviors, which means greater interest in health-promoting products that retailers have to offer.”
Obviously, for most people, the specialized sports nutrition products consumed by elite athletes wouldn’t be appropriate, but the wide variety of functional bars and other foods on the market can be marketed to appeal to consumers who aren’t necessarily in training for a marathon.
Key Takeaways The COVID-19 public health crisis has made athletes and general consumers alike reconsider their approach to wellness. The opportunity exists to market functional foods and beverages to a wider range of shoppers, with an emphasis on convenience, product bundling, value pricing and omnichannel strategies. Retailers and manufacturers can also offer products that meet nutritional goals while also satisfying consumers’ need for indulgence.
The percent rise in the performace nutrition category at Natural Grocers
“Athletes are an extreme example of the broader health-and-wellness movement,” explains Brenden Schaefer, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Bright Foods, maker of refrigerated Clean Protein and Whole Veggie & Fruit Bars. “People want to eat healthier — but they want products that are simply a better version of what they’re already consuming today. And, of course, they have to taste great.” Those types of items can be “dually merchandised in a sports nutrition [section] and in grab-andgo sets where people are looking for great better-for-you options,” he suggests. Additionally, Schaefer notes: “Athletic consumers aren’t always in a sports nutrition frame of mind — they’re looking to eat healthy food through the day to support their broader goals. Active consumers are the same — they’re just optimizing for getting in a great workout, doing the best work
at their job, and, if they have kids, being the best mom or dad they can be. “With that in mind, we’ve seen great success when our products are merchandised in the graband-go cooler section,” he continues. “Shoppers will grab a beverage and a refrigerated bar to eat after a lunchtime workout or ahead of hitting the 3 p.m. slump. Consider bundling products together — offer shortcuts that check the boxes they’re looking for in their food: clean ingredients, high protein, high fiber, low sugar, plant-based.”
Expanding the Audience
“From a marketing perspective, it is important to take an omnichannel approach, targeting shoppers both in and out of store to purchase,” advises Chelsea Jenkins, senior communications manager at Chicago-based RXBar, whose nutrient-packed products also include kids’ snacks, nut butters and oat cups. “Recently, digital integration has become even more important with the impact of quarantine on online grocery shopping behavior. We at RXBar are currently leveraging shopper digital media — both through programmatic campaigns and on retailer sites — to drive a click-to-cart action. Product feature/search, keyword optimization and promotions are other levers to pull within the digital space to bring the brand top of mind for consumers.”
Consumers are looking to engage in healthier behaviors, which means greater interest in healthpromoting products that retailers have to offer.” —Aryn Doll, Natural Grocers
Adds Jenkins: “At retail, merchandising is key to bring people into the aisle or stand out from the competition. Secondary displays out of aisle, like shippers and end caps, help capture people that may not have planned to go down the aisle, while purchase incentives and promotions, layered on with higher-traffic placements, drive velocity. Other opportunities, like point of sale, are helpful in and out of aisle. One example we recently executed was floor talkers at the end of an aisle. These drive traffic into the aisle, and then include a reminder at shelf to keep the brand top of mind.” “In-store offers absolutely drive increased emotional purchases,” says Nick Greer, co-founder and CEO of Spanish Fork, Utah-based Built Bar, which recently introduced Built Boost, providing a full day’s worth of vitamins and PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
During times of uncertainty, society conforms to comfort and indulgence, so providing nutritionally dense yet decadent items leads consumers to fill both needs.” —Sarah Lowrey, Perfect Snacks minerals, as well as natural energy without added caffeine. “An in-store offer, such as a BOGO, usually requires an upfront investment made payable to the retail location, which varies by chain; however, the ROI typically improves despite smaller profit margin per purchase.” He goes on to note that offering a discounted price in store versus online helps drive in-store sales, and that while end caps and in-store displays are recommended initially to drive trial, they haven’t historically proved to be worth the long-term cost. “The majority of our target audience are on-the-go mothers who enjoy a healthy lifestyle,” notes Greer. “We continually strive to cater to them, while tapping into micro markets we see interest from, including athletes, avid gym buffs and male audiences. … The biggest marketing opportunity is to continue to expand our audience to those not only looking for a protein-filled fuel bar, but also those that love to take a moment to indulge in a delicious healthy snack or meal replacement.”
Protein is where it’s at for San Diego-based Perfect Snacks, which makes refrigerated bars, bites and peanut butter cups with a better-for-you profile.
Bright Foods offers a colorful array of Whole Veggie & Fruit Bars for onthe-go consumers.
“Perfect Snacks products are made with whole-food protein (organic milk, eggs and rice protein), avoiding whey, soy or isolates, which some consumers avoid for digestion issues,” notes Sarah Lowrey, senior director of marketing and innovation at the Mondelez brand. “Additionally, on the point of satiation, the protein matched with fat, carbs and sugar in Perfect Snacks make it low on the glycemic index, causing a slower rise in blood sugar and keeping you fuller, longer. For our fans eating Perfect Snacks for pre-/ post-workout fuel, staying fuller/satiated longer and fueling their bodies with ingredients that provide whole-food nutrition, rather than substitutes, chemical preservatives and fillers, is something on which we place a heavy emphasis.” However, gym rats don’t represent Perfect Snacks’ core consumers. “We, more often than not, are catering to the non-athletic yet active crowd who still enjoys working out and exercising, or are just busy and on the go, looking for snacks that fit into their lifestyles,” observes Lowrey. At a time when consumption of its products “has shifted to in-home, with on-the-go convenience becoming less relevant, [and] some consumers ... looking to eat healthier, while others are seeking comfort foods to deal with stress,” Perfect Snacks “[sees] the opportunity to gain competitive advantage investing in all facets of the brand — especially with innovation — as consumers look for novelty in the form of products they can gain access to, over experiences/travel that is no longer taking place,” she points out. The brand’s in-house R&D/innovation team “is working diligently to bring new concepts to the table for retailers, especially in the wake of COVID-19,” says Lowrey, adding that this month will see the limited-offer launch of two summer-specific flavors, Lemon Poppy Seed and Cherry Pie, in a 12-bar, dual-flavored box. Both new bars provide 12 grams of whole-food protein and are low-GI, gluten-free, certified organic and kosher,
while the tart cherry in the Cherry Pie variety contains properties that increase strength and reduce muscle soreness. This type of innovation allows Perfect Snacks to hit two targets simultaneously. “In terms of format and flavors, during times of uncertainty, society conforms to comfort and indulgence, so providing nutritionally dense yet decadent items leads consumers to fill both needs,” asserts Lowrey.
Beverage company Stratus Group has found success with racks that can be placed outside the beverage set.
Functional beverages stand to gain during this period as well, if for no other reason than to let shoppers know that their options include more than Gatorade and Vitaminwater. “Merchandisers that can tell the product benefits quickly and effectively are imperative to in-store marketing,” says CJ Rapp, principal and CEO at Pittsford, N.Y.-based Karma Water, a beverage line enhanced with a proprietary blend of natural superfruits, antioxidants and vitamins. “For Karma, it is important we share how we are different than other brands, so we make sure to show how our product works — push the cap to release the nutrition — on these materials as well.” Adds Rapp: “It is important to us to make the product, packaging and marketing materials fun and approachable for all consumers.” “The most active consumers are also some of the busiest, so they always appreciate convenience,” counsels Louisa Lawless, chief strategy officer for Los Angeles-based Stratus Group, a beverage company whose brands include alkaline water line Perfect Hydration and Köe Organic Kombucha, both “intentionally priced to hit the intersection of function and value,” as she puts it. “Performance goes hand-in-hand with convenience, so functional products should also be easy to find, store and take on the go. Incremental displays in different parts of the store encourage trial of new and complementary products. We’ve found great success with beverage racks that can be placed outside the beverage set in grocery and convenience.”
Performance goes hand-in-hand with convenience, so functional products should ... be easy to find, store and take on the go.” —Louisa Lawless, Stratus Group
Lawless goes on to note that “[s]elling both individual units for new users and price-advantaged multipacks for pantry loading are also encouraged.” She’s additionally quick to offer a few more pointers: “For beverage, we ... always say ‘cold is sold.’ Ensuring the merchandising environment meets the need state of the consumer is key — especially for products that might be consumed right after a shopping trip. … Deals on multiples to drive trial of more than one variety are key.” In common with functional foods, beverages in this space are increasingly being ordered over the internet. “We’re seeing a massive uptick in consumers taking advantage of services like Instacart, curbside pickup and grocery delivery,” affirms Lawless. “So we’ve invested in new programming to meet them where they are — online. Successful digital merchandising and promotions are becoming as important as in-store programming.”
Form and Function
Karma Water's display outlines its attributes and shows consumers how to push to cap to release its nutritive properties.
Spurred by long-term health-and-wellness trends and the current pandemic, functional foods and beverages for dedicated athletes and general consumers alike would seem to have nowhere to go but up. Bright Foods’ Schaefer has identified several key trends that retailers and manufacturers should pay close attention to: fresher, closer-to-whole products; plant-based; protein; probiotics/prebiotics/microbiome; and convenience. Karma Water’s Rapp, meanwhile points to personalization, noting, “Consumers not only want high-quality products, but they want them tailored to their needs to optimize their health and performance.” “It will be important for upcoming sports/ performance products to not only satisfy consumers’ nutritional needs, but also their cravings,” emphasizes RXBar’s Jenkins. “While many dessert-inspired flavors currently exist in these products, brands will be looking to take it to the next level by providing a whole new eating experience — for instance, new formats like multi-textured protein bars.” At the same time, these products will continue to evolve in terms of what they actually do. Jenkins observes that “while consumers who shop this category prioritize more holistic health and wellness, there is a need/ want for products that deliver specific functional benefits. Whether that be energy, recovery, cognitive function, etc., products will deliver on the trend for functional needs through new ingredients or formats.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
Unprecedented Opportunities WITH THE RIGHT MERCHANDISING, PE T RE TAIL SALES STAND TO GAIN DURING THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC. By Princess Jones Curtis
e’ve never spent this much time together — like, ever.” Maddy Ling is a 24-yearold New Jersey massage therapist who describes herself as having one great love of her life — her 4-year-old Boston Terrier mix, Lilo. “I mean, I love her so much, but I’m usually just so busy with work, school, my friends, etc. But now it’s just me, her and these four walls until this thing is over.” This thing is, of course, the global pandemic caused by the spread of COVID-19, a highly contagious virus that causes a respiratory illness characterized by such symptoms as shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, and digestive issues. Although the elderly and the immunocompromised are the hardest hit by the disease, even otherwise young and healthy patients have ended up hospitalized, using ventilators to breathe. At presstime, according to Johns Hopkins University, more than 120,000 people have died of the coronavirus since January 2020 in the United States alone. Worldwide, the number is closer to a half-million. Ling, like most Americans, has been under some version of a stay-at-home order since mid-March. While some states and counties are reopening slowly, others are moving more quickly. Still, the numbers show that opening back up comes with rising numbers of coronavirus cases. While there are some who say that it’s just impossible to ask an entire country to stay home, given the looming long-term economic and social ramifications, it’s clear that there won’t be an easy or quick solution to the crisis anytime soon. In May, the American Pet Products Association (APPA), the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA), the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), and the World Pet Association (WPA) surveyed more than 500 of the organizations’ members on the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on their businesses. More than 75% of the survey respondents reported that they remained open for business in some capacity, but changed much of their focus to safety. Most cited the use of sanitation and cleaning as a part of this process. Wearing personal protective equipment
Key Takeaways Amid the health and economic uncertainties of the coronavirus crisis, pet owners have been curtailing their shopping trips and paying closer attention to prices. Retailers should create pet care displays in easily accessible areas and spotlight less expensive storebrand and value offerings. Grocery delivery and especially curbside pickup are great ways to safely get pet products to consumers.
(PPE) came in a close second. Using hand sanitizer stations and limiting the number of visitors allowed in the space were also cited. As retailers and consumers alike adjust to the “new normal,” selling pet products has changed in some significant ways.
The Power of Puppy and Kitten Food Progressive Grocer: According to The American Pet Products Association, pets have been instrumental in helping people cope with the stress, depression and loneliness coronavirus has caused. That has led to an uptick in pet adoptions — which means thousands of homes now have new puppies and kittens. What should these new pet parents know about feeding their new little family members? Joe Toscano: Like their human counterparts, young dogs and cats have specific nutrition requirements to support their rapid growth and development. Puppies’ and kittens’ bodies are fast-growing, but unlike babies, they pack all their growth into a few short years. Puppies and kittens need higher level of calories and protein, DHA, antioxidants and bioactive substances.
Joe Toscano, Vice President, Trade and Industry Development, Purina
PG: Why is it important for grocery retailers to understand the role pet food specially formulated for puppies and kittens plays in pet nutrition? JT: Puppy and kitten formulas hold great potential for growth. There was 1.8 percent annual growth rate for the puppy and kitten category, prior to the pandemic. Within the first month of most stay-at-home orders, Petfinder saw adoptions inquiries jump 122 percent between March 15 and April 15 compared to the four weeks prior. A spike in adoptions indicates a potential rise in pets in households and possibly an increase of households to the pet category. The first purchase with puppy and kitten is a lucrative one as it typically includes leashes, bowls and toys, but the interesting thing is that consumers tend to stay with that initial store for future purchases. If retailers can win with puppy and kitten, they can expect to see an increase in channel loyalty and additional sales in areas outside of pet as consumers seek additional cleaning items and to replace broken items. PG: How can retailers merchandise and market products for puppies and kittens in ways that will boost sales and increase customer loyalty? JT: There are multiple ways to capitalize on the power of puppy and kitten.
• At Shelf. Shelve kitten and puppy formula with their parent brand and ensure an optimal assortment of SKUs. Purina has the top performing brands with Puppy Chow and Purina ONE Puppy along with Kitten Chow and Purina ONE Kitten in many flavors and forms to meet all of your puppy or kitten needs.
• Timing. New adoptions happen year-round, but there is a spike for puppies and kittens through the summer months, typically May through August, and another spike in puppy adoptions in December. Retailers can capitalize on the timely bump with promotions and displays that let your consumers know you are in the pet business.
• Educate. According to a 2017 Nielsen Homescan survey, households that acquire a puppy typically transition from puppy food to an adult formula 5 to 6 months after acquisition, which is too early. Utilize signage to educate shoppers on the benefits of feeding puppy and kitten for the first one to two years before transitioning to adult formulas.
• Cross-promotion. Puppy and kitten owners won’t just need food for their new little ones. Keep those customers in your store by crosspromoting the other cat and dog supplies you have including beds, toys and bowls.
PG: Does Purina offer any programs specifically targeted to the puppy and kitten category? JT: Purina has a Puppy Event beginning now and running through the end of the year to educate consumers on the benefits of feeding puppy food. Most puppy owners (92 percent) believe puppies have unique needs, but only 25 percent feed puppy food exclusively. Puppy owners don’t realize how important it is to feed puppy food to their pets. Purina will be offering merchandising vehicles, digital coupons, educational info, and other assets to support the event. Talk with your local Purina rep to create the custom event that meets you and your consumers’ needs.
Stocking for a Pandemic
“The first change retailers are seeing is where the consumer’s priorities lie when purchasing goods right now,” explains Shaun Williams, the owner of Pawfect Pets, a boutique pet brand based in Houston. The company sells handmade pet toys and accessories with an irreverent vibe. Among its best-selling products are stylish printed leash-and-collar combos. “You’re going to notice that the essentials will sell out first, and everything else comes after that,” adds Williams. For instance, items like pet food will be the first to fly off the shelves. And since groomers are closed or taking limited appointments, consumers may be looking to purchase grooming products more than they usually would. “Recently, there have been some issues with the supply chain in other product categories like toilet paper and bleach,” he notes. “Even though most stores have been able to get those scarce items back in stock by now, consumers are still worried about getting their essentials. You may see your customers stocking up on things like dog food or kitty litter.” Williams also warns retailers that consumers will be more price conscious than ever. With millions out of work and unemployment numbers up significantly, many shoppers are feeling the squeeze on their finances. Even those still working don’t know what the future may bring. “They’re gonna be looking at prices, and looking hard,” he affirms. “Expect store-brand sales to rise significantly as well as value brands.” Retailers should consider taking advantage of this trend with appropriate product displays. If the goal is to sell more of its own store brand, they could try pairing each premium-brand display with an adjacent store-brand display to emphasize that there’s a cheaper option. If selling the premium brand would be more beneficial, they might think about stocking it at eye level and placing the value brands either on higher or lower shelving. Stand-alone displays and end caps will also come in handy for moving desired pet products with shoppers in a hurry. Since
Pet parents can have products for their furbabies delivered along with other items from the grocery store.
the CDC has recommended shopping infrequently and spending as little time in stores as possible, a display near the entrance or on an easily accessible end cap prevents the shopper from having to go down narrow aisles or into far-flung areas of the store. For example, a retailer could set up an entryway display with cans of cat food to entice consumers to add the product to their carts before they even make it to the pet food aisle.
Safety Means Distance
“I know the word ‘unprecedented’ is being overused, but this is unlike anything we’ve ever been through before,” asserts Brianna Austin, a retail marketing consultant with more than a decade’s experience working with grocery brands such as H-E-B and Randalls. “Everyone’s first concern is safety. For now, that means limited contact, making time to sanitize the store at regular intervals and offering alternative shopping experiences.” While many grocery retailers have been offering delivery services, the COVID-19 crisis has created an immediate need for contactless delivery. In this iteration, the delivery driver leaves the packages outside of the location in a designated area without interacting with the consumer at all. In some cases, the driver will ring the doorbell or knock on the door, and then step back more than 6 feet. This way, the driver can confirm that the products were delivered, but also avoid interacting with the customer. “Unfortunately, delivery is a little hard to start implementing if it wasn’t on your radar before all of this,” warns Austin. “You’ve got to work out your transportation and your staffing for the deliveries, as well as the packing procedures. On the other hand, curbside pickup is something you can get working on immediately.” Curbside pickup has the consumer either order online or over the phone. Then she drives to the store and remains in her car while a staff member places the order in her backseat or trunk. For the consumer, it prevents the need to go into the store and prolong her exposure to other shoppers. For the retailer, it cuts down on the number of shoppers in the store. This process does require staffing and designating an area for the curbside pickups to occur, though. The good news is that whatever processes grocery retailers put in place to make distance shopping possible will be beneficial far into the future. Retailers and manufacturers both report that they expect demand for these practices to extend well beyond quarantine, according to the survey by the APPA and its partners. Ling agrees with that expectation. “This whole thing has taught me a lot about what I can live with and what I can live without,” she says. “And what I can’t live without is dog food [for Lilo.] Having someone deliver that for me is probably going to continue well after it’s safe for me to do my shopping on my own.”
Geolocation or predictive arrival technologies aim to have employees meet shoppers with their orders right when they pull up to the curb.
Speed and Efficiency at the Curb WITH E-COMMERCE SK YROCKE TING, FOOD RE TAILERS ARE TURNING TO TECHNOLOGY TO KEEP UP. By Abby Kleckler
rocery pickup and delivery have been gaining traction for quite some time, but COVID-19 was the catalyst for e-commerce that no one saw coming. Online sales records in the industry have been shattered month after month, and the number of e-commerce orders have risen to levels that many analysts didn’t expect to see for another five years. Keeping up with this demand, however, has been far from seamless. Shopper satisfaction with online pickup and delivery dropped from 80% in 2019 to right around 50% in March, April and May 2020, according to the latest Brick Meets Click/Mercatus Grocery Survey. Customers are less likely to shop the same provider, potentially due to long wait times, an inability to secure a pickup or delivery window, or discontent with out-of-stocks and replacement items.
Key Takeaways The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated consumers’ adoption of e-commerce, with contactless options in high demand. Location-based solutions streamline the click-and-collect process by enabling the order to be ready to go when the customer arrives for pickup, regardless of retailer size. Vendors are sensitive to consumers’ desire for privacy and have instituted safeguards to protect it.
Food retailers are working hard to enhance the customer experience and streamline operational efficiencies while maintaining enhanced safety measures. To help solve this performance equation, many grocers are looking to technology that helps customers receive their pickup orders as quickly as possible with little to no contact.
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“There are statistics out there where if you are waiting under two minutes, you’re four times more likely to come back to do curbside pickup,” says Jeff Baskin, EVP of global sales and marketing for Washington, D.C.-based Radius Networks. “People are demanding a better service, and it has been a wakeup call.”
Radius Networks’ FlyBuy technology — used by SpartanNash, Giant Eagle, Lowes Foods, United Supermarkets and many others — requests a customer’s location when he or she is en route to the store. Simultaneously, the store staff receives the customer’s estimated time of arrival (ETA) to plan accordingly and ideally meet them at the curb. “Our goal is we want people to be able to meet them at the curb, because that’s an incredible experience,” Baskin says. “I literally just pop my trunk and I’m on my way.” Inside the store, retailers can implement a dashboard at the front of the pickup area with arrival times, along with a staff application for whatever mobile device that employees are using to do the picking. These employees could have the app running in the background and get the same alerts that the central dashboard shows when a customer is a certain time away and when they pull into the parking lot. The Radius Networks solution can integrate with a retailer’s existing systems and consumer-facing app, as well as any other systems it may be using for e-commerce ordering and picking. “It’s completely seamless for the staff as well,” Baskin says. “Depending on who we’re dealing with, operationally we have a lot of different flow and functionality that really leads to good, efficient operations, which at the end of the day is key for these grocers right now.” Toronto-based Mercatus recently launched its Mercatus Enhanced Fulfillment solution, which speaks to how the ecosystem can work together to improve the grocery pickup experience. The solution combines ShopperKit’s fulfillment technology with Radius Networks’ location-based communications. “When grocers specifically hone in on this ecosystem of solutions, quite ultimately for them, it’s the balancing of supporting A, their
Glympse works with food retailers to provide what it calls an "Uber-like" experience for deliveries, although the company has been around a year longer than the more consumer-facing rideshare application.
associates, and protecting them, and B, still being able to nourish their communities, which for them is really critical,” says Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of Mercatus. From a customer standpoint, these location-based technologies require little to no effort on their part. Customers temporarily share their location only when they’re using the app. “We don’t want the customer texting and driving. We don’t want them checking their phone, because that’s just not right,” says Cami Zimmer, chief business officer for Seattle-based Glympse, whose location-sharing technology is used by the likes of Albertsons. “We shouldn’t be making the customer do anything other than provide a seamless experience and a personalized experience, because that’s just what they expect today.”
Making Transactions Contactless
Safety concerns are at an all-time high for employees and shoppers, and many are choosing click-and-collect options so they don’t have to shop inside a store. Location-based and integrated technologies can help make pickup a touch-free experience. San Mateo, Calif.-based predictive arrival company Rakuten Ready released a “Playbook for Creating Contactless Experiences” in June. In its research, Rakuten Ready found that contactless protocols ranked No. 1 with customers as most important to feeling safe while shopping. The company’s three pillars to contactless are digital first, customer-centric preparation and contactless handoff. “In order to keep employees safe and in order to keep customers safe, there’s tremendous interest in demand both from the consumer side and from the retailer side in implementing contactless pickup,” says Jaron Waldman, CEO and co-founder of Rakuten Ready. “Whether you’re using our technology or not, we’re having a lot of really great conversations with people who are struggling to scale out these programs. It’s bigger than just our technology.” Waldman, formerly the lead of Apple’s geo team, knows a thing or two about location, and he brought much of the Big Tech company’s team with him in the early days of Rakuten Ready, formerly known as Curbside. Rakuten Ready gives its partners extremely accurate measurements of how long customers are waiting, with the aim of improving customer satisfaction — Waldman says that its research shows that people who wait longer than 10 minutes are less than 15% likely to come back — and operations. “Retailers will do a lot of work to stand up a clickand-collect program, but then there are operational issues that either they don’t train the staff properly or they don’t staff it appropriately,” Waldman says. Rakuten Ready, which works with Kroger and many other retailers, offers visibility into which stores are performing and which ones aren’t, so as to provide operationally consistent and great performance.
FlyBuy technology from Radius Networks includes a dashboard within the store and on mobile devices to alert employees how long a customer has been waiting, or when he or she is set to arrive, with an easy-to-read color-coded formula.
Geolocation inevitably can come with some skepticism for consumers who download apps without knowing they’ve allowed tracking at all times. Technologies such as those from Rakuten Ready, Radius Networks and Glympse, however, access a shopper’s location only during a transaction. “We’re only tracking the customer from when they have shown intent to pick up their groceries, and then we immediately stop locating them when the order has been completed, either by the customer or by the retailer,” Baskin says. Meanwhile, Rakuten Ready’s user experience team helps retailers explain on their apps the value proposition of location sharing for a great user experience without any selling of customer data. “We had to work really hard to make a distinction between what we’re doing, which is we’re using location only in the context of helping you get your order,” Waldman says. “We’re not pervasively tracking you.” Mercatus has adopted the California Consumer Privacy Act to get ahead of regulations throughout the rest of the country and has worked with the CEOs of ShopperKit and Radius Networks to keep privacy at the forefront of their companies’ respective technologies. “I think it’s about convenience first and foremost, with a high degree of security and compliance,” Perrier says. “We understand the need for privacy, the need for allowing customers to opt into certain communications, and a degree of flexibility.”
Ahead of What’s Next
The coronavirus is changing the retail landscape at such a rapid pace that there are a lot of unknowns about what post-pandemic grocery shopping will look like. “Click-and-collect was already growing faster than delivery as a channel before COVID,” says Waldman. “Obviously, the rate of growth over the last few months has been huge, and it’s hard to keep up with, but I think even post-COVID, we’re going to go back to a world where some of that traffic is going to go back inside the store and shop the traditional way, but it’s going to be a real accelerator for click-and-collect overall.” Glympse has been working with grocers specifically on the pharmacy side of the business for “Uber-like” prescription deliveries, in which customers can track their driver and make sure that they’re home for the delivery.
Predictive arrival technology is also becoming more accessible for smaller food retailers. “In the past, we may have focused mainly on larger-enterprise companies. It was just easier for us to do that. But now, especially in grocery, we have the ability to service and/or help companies of any size,” Zimmer says. “Small to medium-sized businesses are the sweet spot, because they might not have been quite as far in their curbside planning as the larger companies, and they are needing and looking for something.” Rakuten Ready is also opening up its technology to smaller retailers with the launch of its Arrive app, which can act as grocer’s native app for those without one. “We want to be able to open the ability to know when a customer is coming to a lot of restaurants and retailers that are never going to have their own app,” Waldman notes. Radius Networks can also use its geolocation services to identify where shoppers are within the store. Baskin admits that this capability was put on the back burner as the COVID-19 pandemic began and everyone focused on curbside pickup, but it’s increasingly part of the company’s conversations with food retailers. “That is usually the second conversation that we have with grocers, such as, ‘Hey, I’d love to be able to locate customers when they’re in a specific aisle and make sure that they have their loyalty card-specific products, or they’re at the deli counter, and I want to make sure that they can get a Boar’s Head promotion,
We’re using location only in the context of helping you get your order. We’re not pervasively tracking you.” —Jaron Waldman, Rakuten Ready or something like that,” Baskin explains. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), once known as food stamps, has also made huge strides during the first half of 2020. Gradual rollout plans of online SNAP have been replaced by much more expedient efforts, and more retailers are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accept SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). Mercatus is about to release SNAP EBT with its fulfillment solution, allowing recipients to pay for a large portion of their groceries using the government program. Giving people more ways to shop for their groceries is the main reason that geolocation technologies are gaining traction. Retailers can increase speed of fulfillment, smoothe the customer experience with no contact, add additional pickup spots and ultimately keep up with the e-commerce demand that doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon. PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
In the future, better demand-planning tools could help retailers prepare for unexpected surges in categories like toilet paper.
Pandemic Playbook TO SURVIVE IN THE AGE OF COVID-19, RE TAILERS NEED TO WORK TOWARD BUILDING A MORE RESILIENT SUPPLY CHAIN. By Jenny McTaggart he initial outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States rocked the supermarket world unlike anything else in modern times. Behind the frantic scenes of shoppers fighting over toilet paper, the grocery supply chain was being stretched and bent like never before. “All of a sudden, we found ourselves in a situation where it was like 10 snow days, Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled up into one every day of the week, and then restaurants shut down,” recalls Mark Baum, chief collaboration officer and SVP of industry relations at Arlington, Va.-based FMI - The Food Industry Association. “Demand just soared. It was up double digits, even triple digits in certain categories.” “COVID-19 really raised the importance of the supply chain,” observes Tom Madrecki, VP of supply chain for the Consumer Brands Association (CBA), also based in Arlington. “It went from being an issue that was maybe not front and center within the c-suite or within government to being the issue of the moment.” Ultimately, the chain didn’t break, but some vulnerabilities were revealed —
Key Takeaways The coronavirus pandemic has revealed vulnerabilities in the supply chain that the food retail industry must figure out how best to address. Demand planning and inventory management solutions, enhanced by machine learning, can bring greater visibility to the supply chain. Companies should also focus on stronger collaboration with suppliers and other partners, both within and outside the industry, and on developing a crossfunctional workforce.
and exposed to consumers — as excess agricultural products ended up being destroyed, certain products became obsolete seemingly overnight and e-commerce programs were suddenly being used more than ever before, revealing a gap in different retailers’ levels of preparedness.
Now that the pandemic’s initial outbreak has passed, the industry has a brief window of time to reflect on what worked, what went wrong, and ultimately how to plan ahead for what’s next. “I’m hoping retailers have either built or updated their ‘disruption playbooks’ to understand what they need to do going forward,” says Mike Griswold, a research VP with the consumer value chain team at Gartner, a global research and advisory firm based in Stamford, Conn. “A lot of them probably had some type of disruption playbook, but nothing of the magnitude to where they’d need to be limiting products and customer counts, and forcing the majority of people to do an online transaction. This is certainly the biggest disruption most of us have experienced in retail — and it’s not going to be the last.” At presstime, the term “second wave” was already being floated as several states began seeing worrisome spikes in cases and hospitalization rates. Some experts caution that autumn could be particularly bad, as seasonal flu begins cropping up alongside the novel coronavirus. While no one can predict the future precisely, one thing’s for certain: Retailers need to be prepared as much as possible and focused on building a more resilient supply chain to adapt to whatever comes their way. Here are key areas that they can focus on to make their supply chains as COVID-proof as possible, according to Griswold and other industry watchers: Build in more agility and flexibility; Increase the frequency of supply chain modeling; Work to more quickly adopt new technologies that can aid in visibility, planning and beyond; Better collaborate with suppliers and other industry partners, and rethink supplier diversification;
pany has greatly aided the organization over the past six months. “A great deal of the learnings out of China essentially informed all our international markets and our U.S. markets,” he said. “There are a lot of technology and processes that can be implemented faster than anyone would have said was possible last year.” He cited examples such as the ability to onboard an associate in under 24 hours, as well as starting up a warehouse management system in a matter of days, as opposed to weeks or months, to get a new distribution center operational. Buchanan also lauded Walmart’s suppliers for their collaboration, which he said has been “more fluid and dynamic than it’s ever been before,” including getting products through to put on shelves, changing order quantities and the channels that products move through, and adjusting both locally in different markets and globally. Representing a different part of the business — primarily transportation but also managing inventory — Gary Allen, VP of supply chain excellence for Miami-based Ryder, urged companies to get a better handle on data across the supply chain and work to transform that data into information and insights, via predictive analytics.
New Day for Demand Planning
Gartner’s Griswold says that he’s hearing more chatter regarding visibility from his grocery retail clients, as they look to strengthen their supply chains in the months ahead. “They realize they need more visibility around customer orders, demand, inventory and capacity — what space they have in their distribution centers and in transportation,” he notes.
Focus on a well-protected, more cross-functional and flexible labor force; and Reconsider the balance of in-store versus online sales, with a specific focus on last-mile delivery.
Walmart’s Focus on Agility
During a recent webinar entitled “COVID-19 Supply Chain Risk Management,” conducted by Eyefortransport Ltd. and Reuters Events, several leaders representing various areas of the grocery supply chain shared their thoughts on better preparing for unforeseen conflicts in the age of the coronavirus. Josh Buchanan, director of supply chain design and innovation for Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart, noted, “In our processes of refreshing supply chain strategies annually for our international partners, we’re going to see that leaders reviewing those strategies are going to have [COVID-19] as a lens for the near future. There will be a value on agility in contingency planning.” Going forward, Walmart will be “accelerating how often and how fast” the company does supply chain modeling and network design, he added. “We’re looking at scenarios that we never contemplated before. We’re doing a lot of worst-case scenarios about turning off different nodes if they’re impacted, and how we’d react to that.” Buchanan noted that Walmart’s ability to work as one com-
All of a sudden, we found ourselves in a situation where it was like 10 snow days, Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled up into one every day of the week, and then restaurants shut down.” —Mark Baum, FMI “Certainly, people need to be thinking long and hard about their demand planning and inventory management platform, not that any tool was ever going to predict the demand for toilet paper and Lysol that we saw,” continues Griswold. “What you’re looking for now in a tool is one that will help you learn from the effect of this event, so that when you have another disruption similar to it, you can model that. But the second piece of this is that people need to figure out how to take the effects PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
company said it would expand its Dairy Rescue Program to support children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic through the summer. In some cases, even competitors worked together to share resources, according to Jason McCourt, senior solutions consultant for Aptean’s U.K.-based Paragon Software Systems. “This crisis highlighted the value of collaboration between competitors, and that’s something we believe may well be the future of transportation and retailer distribution,” he notes. “Increasing urban restrictions, sustainability concerns and a host of other issues means it makes increasingly little sense to have one truck delivering half a load of Charmin and another one delivering Cottonelle to the same store. Maybe following this crisis, we will see more companies willing to collaborate for mutual benefit.”
Collaborating With Other Industries In April, Kroger kicked off its Great Georgia Give milk donation campaign with Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black (right). The retailer's Dairy Rescue Program to support children and families during the pandemic will now run through the summer.
of COVID-19 out of their history, so they can plan better moving forward. In other words, your demand planning tools need to be able to sift through what would have been normal based on historical trends, not from what happened during the COVID outbreak.” Griswold also points to more advanced planning capabilities that are made possible by machine learning. “This should be an investment area,” he advises. Another area that companies need to focus on, according to Griswold and others, is stronger collaboration with their suppliers and other industry partners. In terms of supplier relationships, Griswold advises retailers to think of their suppliers in two ways. In normal times, suppliers may generally be segmented into two groups — the top 10 to 15 companies with which retailers have the closest relationships, and then another segment of suppliers that are more tactical. In times of disruption, however, the relationships may need to change so that retailers become more collaborative with the midtier, more tactical suppliers, especially if they make a product that’s in high demand (think toilet paper). CBA’s Madrecki points out that the COVID-19 crisis has shone a light on the importance of collaboration. “I think the companies that were most responsive and performed the best had the greatest degree of collaboration and data sharing,” he says. Collaboration was also key to helping companies combat food waste, he adds. “In just one example, Land O’Lakes partnered with a retailer in Wisconsin, so that rather than dumping milk, they turned it into 10-pound bags of mozzarella,” he notes. Cincinnati-based Kroger, already known for its sustainability commitment, made a similar move by redirecting some dairy farmers’ excess milk to food banks as part of its ongoing Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative. In late May, the
Partnerships were built outside the traditional supermarket industry as well. According to FMI’s Baum, his association stepped in when the foodservice business suddenly halted. “You had a bunch of these broadline distributors with tremendous capacity, whether it was in transportation services or warehousing capacity, and then from a retail standpoint, we had this unprecedented demand. So we worked really, really hard and put up a series of partnerships.” The first was an ad hoc partnership with the Washington, D.C.-based International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) to bring their products, as well as labor and equipment resources, to retail. The endeavor, which started off as a manual exchange, grew into what FMI now calls the Food Industry Exchange, a more advanced digital trading exchange powered by The Seam, in Memphis, Tenn. Companies can take advantage of the exchange yearround, says Baum. Suppliers can use it to expand their distribution networks, make buy-now offers available and introduce items to certain customers they might not get to otherwise. In the same vein, retail buyers can use the exchange as a source of discovery, he notes. FMI also found a creative way to tap into the new labor pool created as foodservice and other businesses shut down. The trade group worked with Eightfold.ai, an artificial intelligence-based talent exchange, to find workers to fill in labor gaps in the supermarket industry. According to Baum, “We’ve got everyone from Instacart to C&S to Ingles on the hiring side, and then companies including restaurants, United Airlines, Macy’s and other nonfood retailers populating the supply side.” Retailers will no doubt be able to use this exchange going forward as labor needs shift amid changing COVID patterns and general economic trends.
Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products
Catch the Fever
Global premium mixer producer Fever-Tree has launched Fever-Tree Sparkling Pink Grapefruit, the company’s first mixer developed specifically for the American consumer. Containing naturally sourced ingredients, including real juice from handpicked Florida pink grapefruits, the carbonated mixer uses naturally sourced ingredients and is suitable for such trending cocktails as tequila-fueled palomas and vodka-forward spritzes, as well as on its own as a zero-ABV refreshment. Each 6.8-fluid-ounce bottle has just 30 calories, with no artificial colors or artificial sweeteners. A 4-pack retails for a suggested $4.99. www.fever-tree.com
Ready-to-serve Cello Cheese Flights from Schuman Cheese are an upscale, pre-paired collection that offers consumers a low-risk way to discover and try new varieties and flavors. The refrigerated trays also provide beer and wine pairing suggestions, making them an appropriate choice for quick and easy snacks or picnic-style lunches. The options are Copper Kettle, Pepper Jack Goat and Creamy Dill Rubbed Fontal cheeses in yellow packaging, and Asiago, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, and Dijon & Herb Rubbed Fontal cheeses in red packaging. Cello Cheese Flights retail for $12.99 per 10-ounce tray. www.schumancheese.com
Field Roast Grain Meat Co., owned by Greenleaf Foods SPC, has added par-fried Plant-Based Nuggets to its portfolio of frozen plant-based appetizers and entrées. Made from whole food ingredients like roasted garlic, wheat and pea protein, the crispy, bite-size breaded nuggets offer a taste and texture comparable to traditional chicken nuggets. The item contains 14 grams of protein per five-nugget serving, but no GMOs, soy, artificial ingredients or colors. A 10-ounce package of about 13 nuggets retails for a suggested $7.99. Field Roast’s frozen portfolio also includes Fruffalo Wings and Miniature Corn Dogs. www.fieldroast.com; www.greenleaffoods.com
Meat District has launched a line of Premium Pork Sausage featuring five signature flavors: Original, Hot, Sage, Maple and Chorizo. Crafted with no high-fructose corn syrup, no corn solids, no nitrates or nitrites, as well as no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives of any kind, Meat District’s Premium Pork Sausage is lean with less fat and contains 50% less sodium than traditional bulk sausage. All of the ready-to-cook sausage varieties are made by coarse-grinding 100% whole-muscle pork shoulder with a blend of aromatic spices and seasonings. A 16-ounce chub of any of the varieties retails for a suggested $5.49. In addition to its line of sausage, Meat District offers consumers butcher-crafted premium burgers and hormone- and antibiotic-free gourmet marinated chicken wings. www.eatmeatdistrict.com PROGRESSIVE GROCER July 2020
AHEAD OF WHAT’S NEXT By Geoff Freeman
3 Ways to Start Tackling America’s Broken Recycling System INPUT IS REQUIRED FROM ALL STAKEHOLDERS. f we were to completely reimagine the U.S. recycling system, what would it look like? There’s no question that recycling in America is broken. There’s also no question that we must do everything we can to save it. But the fix isn’t going to be easy or quick, and it’s going to take a lot of work from all stakeholders. We’ve got three ways to start tackling this critical problem:
Gather Badly Needed Data to Chart a Path Forward
Do you know how many recycling systems there are in the United States? How about the average recycling rate in your hometown? Do you know what percentage of waste in your state gets landfilled? You likely don’t have the answers to those questions. In fact, no one does. There’s disagreement even on the recycling systems that exist. The EPA says that there are nearly 10,000, but The Recycling Partnership estimates it at closer to 20,000. The lack of consistent, reliable data across the waste and recycling system is preventing us from implementing lasting change. Without data, we can neither identify the trouble spots to address, nor can we find the success stories to replicate. The future of recycling requires sound data as its guide.
Clear Up Consumer Confusion
For every recycling system in the United States, there’s a distinct set of rules and regulations, often contradictory to neighboring systems. For example, I live in Arlington Country, Va., where you can recycle your pizza box. But in neighboring Fairfax County, that same pizza box isn’t accepted. And that’s just for single-family homes. When you look at the varying policies for apartment houses, offices, schools, supermarkets and restaurants, the rules get even murkier. This patchwork of policies means low participation rates and high levels of contamination in residential recycling, undermining the investment and innovation that CPG companies have put into making their packaging more recyclable. All of the largest 25 CPG companies have made commitments to improving their packaging, including fully recyclable packaging or more recycled content. However, a recyclable package makes a difference only if it is, in fact, recycled. If we want a recycling system that works, it needs to be uniform and simple to understand. Our research found that only 4% of consumers said that recycling wasn’t confusing. How can
we possibly succeed when so many consumers aren’t clear on how to participate? We need national, or at least regional, uniform standards that can provide clarity to boost rates. The state of Delaware is a great example of the benefits of standardization. Its Universal Recycling Law notes that “it is in the public interest to develop a comprehensive statewide system of recycling and resource recovery, which maximizes the quantity of solid waste that can be recovered, reused or converted to beneficial use.” Standardized recycling allows programs to scale, keeping valuable packaging material out of landfills and having a positive impact on the environment.
Make Sustainability Financing Sustainable
Any functional and successful system is going to require substantial investment. A decade of underinvestment and a rollercoaster ride of global markets for recyclables means a need to double down on modern U.S. recycling infrastructure. There’s a shared responsibility among stakeholders to finance a lasting system. I believe that every stakeholder in the packaging ecosystem — from the materials manufacturers to the CPG industry to the waste and recycling sectors — will step forward to create a long-term solution.
Whatever mechanisms we choose, it’s imperative that funding goes to help solve problems — improving the recycling system, enhancing recycling infrastructure or educating consumers — not simply layering new funding on systems that don’t work. Whatever funding mechanisms we choose from the many under consideration, it’s imperative that funding goes to help solve problems — improving the recycling system, enhancing recycling infrastructure or educating consumers — not simply layering new funding on systems that don’t work. This won’t happen overnight, but the CPG industry is committed and ready to work with all willing stakeholders to create a system for the 21st century, one that benefits consumers, businesses and the environment alike. Geoff Freeman is president and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based Consumer Brands Association.
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HONORING SIX DECADES OF CONSISTENCY, QUALITY AND TRUST We hope you’ll join us in celebrating IBP’s 60th anniversary this year — your loyal support over the years is greatly appreciated. The IBP name has a storied tradition that spans 60 years. This legacy has helped make ibp Trusted Excellence® Beef and Pork a meat industry mainstay and a favorite of retail and foodservice customers.
dedicated team members and retail and foodservice partners like you who continue to be our most valued resource. Thank you for trusting us to provide the consistency and selection you need.
Originally founded in 1960, Iowa Beef Packers, Inc. (IBP) helped revolutionize the industry. IBP was the ﬁrst to introduce smaller portions of vacuum-packed boxed beef as a new customer option in 1967. In 1982, IBP also entered the pork packing world and became the premier commodity beef and pork supplier in the country. Then in 2001, Tyson Foods Inc. acquired IBP and formed Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., driven by an unyielding commitment to offer products that consistently meet — or exceed — customer expectations. Today we continue to honor IBP’s 60-year heritage through the ibp Trusted Excellence brand. We’re proud to be backed by 41,000
For more information, please visit ibpTrustedExcellence.com.