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LOCAL DELIVERY: INDIES MUST PRIORITIZE E-COMMERCE ENABLEMENT GO PRIVATE Leveraging growth opportunities in the store-brand sector ON THE HOOK How retailers can reel in post-COVID seafood shoppers EYES FRONT NCR’s Wilkinson on grocery’s physical and digital future

Global Growth Multicultural grocers drive sales by catering to an increasingly diverse America

August 2022

Volume 101, Number 8

2021 S




• Contains 5% real fruit juice, squeezed then concentrated, and 5% ABV • Variety pack flavors: Signature Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, Blueberry Lemonade and Watermelon Lemonade




FLAVORED BEER SIMPLY SPIKED CO., MILWAUKEE, WI © 2022 Simply Orange Juice Company, “Simply Spiked” and “Simply Spiked Lemonade” are trademarks of Simply Orange Juice Company

All flavors made with real orange juice: Strawberry Orange, Pineapple Orange, Peach Orange and Pomegranate Orange Only 100 calories and 5% ABV



• With salt, lime and tequila flavor added • Only 100 calories and 4.5% ABV • Variety pack flavors: Signature Margarita, Strawberry Hibiscus, Tropical Pineapple and Prickly Pear



NATURALLY FLAVORED WITH OTHER NATURAL FLAVORS Per 12oz., ALL FLAVORS: 100 cals, 3g carbs, 0g protein, 0g fat TC HARD SELTZER COMPANY, MILWAUKEE, WI *FLAVORED BEER ©2022 The Coca-Cola Company, “Topo Chico” is a trademark of The Coca-Cola Company


Contents 08. 22

Volume 101 Issue 8

18 Features COVER STORY



18 Global Growth

Selling Seafood

Retailers, manufacturers and organizations offer strategies for keeping customers hooked.

Stealth on the Shelf

Multicultural grocers drive sales by catering to an increasingly diverse America.





Managing Health Conditions


Turning Crisis Into Opportunity 10 IN-STORE EVENTS CALENDAR

October 2022



Private brands have opportunities for growth, but to succeed, retailers must be more strategic in their thinking — especially as competition from multiple channels heats up.

Household Paper Products




Pop (Up) Goes the Grocer

To NEW GOYA® Maria Cookies 4-Pack

Our Maria Cookies portfolio just got bigger! Meet new GOYA® Maria Cookies 4-Pack, perfect for larger families or for sharing with friends! Now, your shoppers can enjoy the authentic flavor that only the leading Latin food brand can deliver, over and over and over again. Stock them today!

Contact your GOYA representative or email | ©2022 Goya Foods, Inc.

Contents 08.22

Volume 101 Issue 8

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


GROCERY GROUP PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672

Success Through Local Delivery

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

Small businesses must ensure that they’re prioritizing e-commerce enablement.

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



No Longer Left Behind

Groundbreaking new products in key categories are striving to meet emerging consumer needs.


Worthy of Attention

SENIOR SALES MANAGER Theresa Kossack (MIDWEST, GA, FL) 214-226-6468

Bo Worthy’s new Birdie & Louie brand aims to shake up pet food by sourcing ingredients closer to home.

Behind the Latest Proposed Meat Legislation

MULTIMEDIA EDITOR Emily Crowe 502-550-5082




SENIOR EDITOR Lynn Petrak 708-945-0415




Congress is aiming to stabilize prices, but many trade associations are on the defensive.

MARKETING BRAND MARKETING MANAGER Rebecca Welsby 773-992-4407 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

Turning Toward GuiltFree Plastic Packaging

Amid stringent regulations, new solutions are emerging that focus on innovative materials and reuse and recycling initiatives.





The Future of Grocery

NCR retail chief David Wilkinson details the evolution of the physical and digital front end. 66 EQUIPMENT & DESIGN

Winning With Self-Checkout

These solutions enable grocers to offer their shoppers a seamless experience.

66 6

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


2022 Special Reports SEPTEMBER


Sustainability: Next Generation Packaging & Promotions

Editors' Picks - New Product Packaging Awards!

Ad Close: 8.15.22 Materials Due: 8.22.22

Ad Close: 9.15.22 Materials Due: 9.21.22



International Food Trends

The Grocer's Guide to Tech Innovation

Ad Close: 10.14.22 Materials Due: 10.20.22

Ad Close: 11.11.22 Materials Due: 11.18.22

SHARE YOUR INNOVATIONS & SOLUTIONS OPPORTUNITY INCLUDES: High-profile, 2 -page spread or full page advertising space An opportunity to tell your story with an executive Q&A or advertorial opportunity Appearance alongside trusted, in-depth editorial coverage of sustainability content in the September issue Distribution to Progressive Grocer’s 40,000+ print and digital subscribers Opportunity to add digital boost by converting Q&A/advertorial to an article housed on + promotion

CONTACT YOUR SALES REP TO RESERVE YOUR PRESENCE TODAY! Tammy Rokowski Associate Publisher, Regional Sales Manager Southwest, MI, International 248.514.9500

Theresa Kossack Sales - Midwest, GA, FL 214.226.6468

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

Lou Meszoros Business Development Manager - Grocery Group 203.610.2807

EDITOR’S NOTE By Gina Acosta

Turning Crisis Into Opportunity NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GROCERS TO GE T ON THE FOOD-AS-MEDICINE TR AIN. he price of ground beef is up 36%, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The average price of chicken is up 19%. But the prices of most plantbased items — including fresh fruits and vegetables — have risen more slowly than the general rate of inflation for groceries, which stands at 12.2% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This presents grocers and suppliers with a unique opportunity to drive sales, increase access to food, and improve the health and wellness of the nation by having produce “take more of the plate,” in the words of Bruce Taylor, CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms, at the International Fresh Produce Association’s (IFPA) 2022 Foodservice Conference. “Our great-grandkids are going to look at us and they’re going to say, ‘You guys actually ate meat? You killed a cow and you ate it?’” said Taylor, who is chair of the IFPA board. “What an opportunity we have right now, both from the cost and the climate perspective, to take more of the plate with great-tasting produce.” Taylor spoke to a record-setting audience of nearly 2,000 attendees at the conference, which was held in Monterey, Calif., on July 28-29. He likened the current opportunity before retailers and suppliers to the innovation that led to the creation of the first packaged salad product, which his company manufactured in California in 1995. “We said, ‘Who’s really going to buy a salad in a bag?’ Well, it turns out everybody bought salad in a bag, because they didn’t like washing lettuce and making salad,” Taylor recounted. “And so, by making products convenient and ready to eat, it broadened the marketplace. It attracted people. It allowed us to get our fresh products into more people’s stomachs.”

Health Matters

Encouraging shoppers to put more plants on their plates may not only drive sales, but also solve a publichealth crisis.

Cathy Burns, CEO of Newark, Del.-based IFPA, also appealed to the audience to leverage the opportunity in plants as a way to help a nation heal from preventable diseases. She mentioned the organization’s work with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, which will convene this September. “We spend $1.4 trillion today on diet-related diseases,” Burns noted. “We can do a lot with $1.4 trillion in our industry, can’t we? This is our industry’s time. We really do have an opportunity to make a huge impact.” Both IFPA and Arlington, Va.-based FMI — The Food Industry Association and their respective members have made actionable recommendations to the White House ahead of the autumn conference, among 8

them expanding meal donations; ensuring access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and food-as-medicine initiatives; embedding Produce Prescriptions as a covered benefit within the health system; embedding a fruit and vegetable benefit within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); and promoting nutrition clarity in food labeling of fruits and vegetables at FDA. In July, Cincinnati-based Kroger and other companies took part in a one-day event ahead of the IFPA conference, in an effort to move the nation closer to the goals of ending hunger, improving nutrition and reducing diet-related chronic disease in the United States by 2030. “Today, more Americans are sick than are healthy,” said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, at the event. “Simply put, this is unacceptable, and we thank the task force for taking action. At Kroger, we aspire to make a real difference in the lives of our customers and associates by making it easier to access, choose and enjoy healthy foods, while connecting them to expert and trusted health care providers.” Now that eating your veggies is actually a way to beat inflation, grocers and suppliers have a chance to turn that into an opportunity. Encouraging shoppers to put more plants on their plates may not only drive sales, but also solve a public-health crisis. Gina Acosta Editor-In-Chief


87% 96% 97%



LESS WATER REQUIRED To schedule a cutting, contact Tim White at (513) 227-0730, or at You won’t believe how much they taste like actual chicken! Visit for more info.


Calendar S



American Cheese Month German-American Heritage Month Italian-American Heritage Month National Chili Month



National Pasta Month National Pizza Month National Pork Month National Seafood Month





National Pumpkin Spice Day National Homemade Cookies Day































National Fried Scallops Day. Direct customers to the seafood section for the main ingredient in this tasty dish.

Sukkot. During this seven-day harvest festival, which starts today, observant Jews welcome friends and family to dine in a temporary dwelling called a sukkah.

Global Cat Day. Remind shoppers that they can find the perfect present for their favorite felines in your pet care aisle.

National Motherin-Law Day. If your spouse’s mom is your preferred shopping companion, bring her along for a free bouquet from the floral department.

National Speak Up for Service Day. Turn the spotlight on your associates’ volunteer efforts, and tell customers where they can sign up to do their part.


National Boyfriend Day. Those shopping with their main man qualify for a discount.

National Cake Decorating Day. Display the most gorgeously adorned creations of your talented staff.

Women in Military Service for America Memorial Anniversary

National Food Day. What better place to celebrate healthy, affordable comestibles than at a supermarket?

Halloween National Caramel Apple Day

National Eat Fruit at Work Day. Set out grab-and-go items for those headed to the office.

National Sausage Pizza Day. Highlight your store-made pizzas with this sought-after topping.

National No Beard Day. Those wishing to change their look can head to the personal care aisle for razors and shaving cream.

Sourest Day. This counterpart occasion to Sweetest Day seems made for trying the tartest candies available.

National Pumpkin Seed Day. This protein powerhouse snack deserves to be celebrated every day.

National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day. Tout your in-store dining area as the perfect place for this shared meal.

National Kentucky Day. Now is when we celebrate all of the great food and beverages from the Bluegrass State, starting with that iconic Derby Day drink, the mint julep.

National Mincemeat Day. Spark a revival of this one-time perennial pie filling.

National Noodle Day. This culinary staple is popular in Eastern and Western cuisines alike.

National Yorkshire Pudding Day. Most of us Yanks are familiar with this dish as a popover.

Get to Know Your Customers Day. Use this quarterly occasion to run online profiles of some of your most loyal shoppers.

National American Beer Day. Time to raise a cold one — as long as it was brewed in the U.S.A.

National ChocolateCovered Pretzel Day. Go on and indulge in this sweetand-salty treat.

National Dessert Day

National Witch Hazel Day. Educate beauty shoppers on the beneficial effects of this venerable skin treatment.

National Breadstick Day

International Pierogi Day

National Sweetest Day. Direct shoppers to the candy and card aisles to purchase items for those who mean the most to them.

National Nut Day

National Oatmeal Day. The food equivalent of warm hug is actually great any time of day – and, of course, it can be eaten cold, too.



Service Dogs Provide Life-Changing Benefits to Veterans By Joe Toscano, Vice President, Trade & Industry Development at Purina Purina Dog Chow has proudly supported the military since its founding almost 100 years ago, and the strong commitment to service members continues today. In fact, Dog Chow is celebrating five years of its Service Dog Salute campaign, which highlights the life-changing benefits that service dogs provide to veterans experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Approximately 3.5 million military veterans suffer from PTSD, and while service dogs are demonstrated to reduce the severity of PTSD symptoms and suicidal behaviors, only one in 100 of those in need who seek a service dog receive one each year. Dog Chow is on a mission to help. This year marks $1 million in donations from Dog Chow to service dog organizations since the start of the Service Dog Salute program in 2018. These donations help support the care and training of more service dogs for veterans with PTSD. PTSD service dogs are NOT the same as emotional support, therapy or companion dogs. Like service dogs for the blind, deaf and physically disabled, PTSD service dogs for veterans must be specifically trained to help their handler perform tasks they cannot otherwise perform on their own. As part of this year’s Service Dog Salute program, Dog Chow has launched its first-ever Visible Impact Award in partnership with the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans. The award celebrates the remarkable impact PTSD service

dogs have on veterans’ daily lives and recognizes these outstanding service dogs and the organizations that trained them.

depression and increased social participation compared to those who utilize more traditional clinical care for PTSD alone.

Starting September 1, 2022, dog lovers can join in selecting the first-ever Dog Chow Visible Impact Award winner by voting on the selected finalists at service. For every vote, Dog Chow will donate $5 to the Association of Service Dog Providers for Military Veterans (up to $75,000 total) to help train more PTSD service dogs at no cost to veterans. Additionally, the winning dog’s veteran will receive a $10,000 cash prize and $25,000 for the organization that trained the service dog.

Dog Chow and Purina associates are working to bring more awareness and support to veteran service dogs. Soon, you’ll see our mission highlighted on every bag of Dog Chow that arrives in retail stores. Retailers can make an impact by carrying special Service Dog Salute in-store signage designed to drive attention and awareness for the program. Contact your Purina sales rep to learn more.

The Dog Chow Visible Impact Award complements ongoing research that shows most veterans with trained service dogs exhibit lower symptoms of PTSD, reduced Purina trademarks are owned by Société des Produits Nestlé S.A.


Shelf Stoppers


Basket Facts

Total Department Performance Latest 52 Wks W/E 07/16/22


Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 07/17/21



Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 07/18/20


Top Meat Categories by Dollar Sales Beef




Packaged Lunch Meat

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






on all meat items, up 8.6% compared with a year ago




Latest 52 Wks W/E 07/16/22

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 07/17/21

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 07/18/20

Source: Nielsen, Total U.S. (All outlets combined) — includes grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, select dollar stores, select warehouse clubs and military commissaries (DeCA) for the 52 weeks ending July 16, 2022


on beef, up 11.3% compared with a year ago

Cross-Merch Candidates

Fruit Snacks

Toaster Pastries

Meal Combos



on chicken, up 10.6% compared with a year ago Diapering Needs

Snack and Variety Packs

Wraps and Tortilla Shells


Generational Snapshot


Which cohort is spending, on average, the most per trip on pork?


Gen Xers


The Greatest Generation





Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending July 2, 2022


on turkey, up 7.3% compared with a year ago

Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending July 2, 2022


Global New Products Database

Household Paper Products Market Overview

The household paper market grew by 20.9% in 2020, only to drop by 12.3% in 2021 as supply came into sync with demand and consumers realized that shopping behavior in 2020 was more emotionally driven than need-based.

While Mintel projects that product usage and market growth will remain above pre-pandemic levels well into the recovery, it will take more than five years before category sales reach the $23.6 billion posted in 2020. Nearly half (45%) of female consumers say that they’re drying their hands more often with paper towels to reduce the spread of germs.

One-third of U.S. consumers say that they’re stocking up on toilet paper to prepare for future shortages.

Key Issues

One area of opportunity involves widening the grey area between paper towels and higher-margin wet wipes. Natural-fiber wipes highlight the competitive threat, because they use a similar fiber source and are targeted at the paper towel consumer who believes that polypropylene-containing wipes aren’t eco-friendly. According to Mintel, one-third of all consumers believe that paper towels are more eco-friendly than disposable cleaning wipes. This suggests that paper towel brands have an opportunity to reduce this threat and grow their profit margins by making paper towels more like wet wipes. As irreplaceable as the toilet paper segment seems now, the pandemic has accelerated consumers’ adoption of bidets. As this happens, consumers are learning that these products can save them money because they reduce toilet paper use by up to 80%, saving the average U.S. consumer up to $182 per year. If U.S. consumers adopt these devices at the same rate as Japanese consumers do, the market could see strong disruption. Toilet paper brands may have opportunities to control the disruption on their end by acquiring bidet brands.


What Consumers Want, and Why While the pandemicinduced growth spurt has largely ended, brands have consumers’ attention like never before. Over the next year, consumers will be more receptive to innovations that save time, improve health, and make e-commerce greener, more efficient and more affordable. Mintel believes that due to the emotional imprinting of the pandemic, consumers will remain vigilant against COVID-19 and unknown viral threats still to come. Yet, as of January 2022, there are signs that COVID-19 may be transitioning from pandemic to endemic. As a result, many consumers will embrace a return to normalcy. Rampant inflation has made consumers more cost-conscious, and many consumers trialed store brands for the first time when their regular brands were out of stock. This has created an environment that will continue to tip consumer opinion toward the name-brand equivalency of private label.




By Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD

Managing Health Conditions GROCERY STORES CAN BE AN IMPORTANT RESOURCE FOR SHOPPERS LIVING WITH CHRONIC DISE ASES. t may be hard to believe, but 60% of Americans suffer from a chronic disease. Chronic disease is defined as a condition that lasts one year or more, and requires ongoing medical attention or limits activities of daily living, or both. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a staggering four in 10 of us have two or more chronic diseases. These medical conditions, along with short-term health problems, leave customers confused about what foods align to the possible dietary restrictions that accompany certain health issues. A retailer can potentially be the health care destination of choice by not only offering health events and pharmacy, clinic and dietitian services, but also by featuring products to suit shoppers’ health needs right on the shelves.

Heart Disease

Heart disease continues to push forward as the No. 1 killer in the United States. Two ways to abate risk for this condition are keeping a lid on blood lipids (including triglycerides and cholesterol) and blood pressure. One in two of us has high blood pressure, and this is largely a result of modifiable risk factors such as low physical activity and a diet high in saturated fat and/or sodium. Work with your pharmacy department to offer free or discounted heart-health screenings, coupled with product coupons that can support lowering shoppers’ numbers, such as low-fat yogurts, lean plant proteins and no-added-salt canned vegetables.


There are three forms of diabetes: type 1 (insulin-dependent), type 2 and gestational. Type 2 diabetes makes up more than 90% of all diabetes cases. One of the top nutrition recommendations for prediabetes and diabetes is a controlled and consistent intake of higher-fiber carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Ask your chefs to prepare innovative recipes using these core ingredients, and invite your dietitians to calculate nutrition facts and tips to distribute in print or digital form to customers.

Digestive Disorders

Digestive health has been, and continues to be, a popular topic. Many shoppers are afflicted by minor tummy woes like gas and constipation; others, however, may have clinical problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). These issues might have customers seeking anything from low-“FODMAP” products to probiotic supplements, lower-acid alternatives and higher-fiber foods. Invite CPGs that represent these brands to hold an event at your stores to showcase their gut-friendly products, with the help of your marketing team.


The primary reason that a client books a visit with a dietitian is related to weight control. Being overweight (a body mass index, or BMI, of 25 or


A retailer can potentially be the health care destination of choice by not only offering health events and pharmacy, clinic and dietitian services, but also by featuring products to suit shoppers’ health needs right on the shelves. higher) or obese (a BMI of 30 or higher) is associated with increased risk of chronic disease. America’s waistline is a public health concern and might be a personal journey for your customers. Support their efforts by offering individually packed snacks like carrots with ranch dip, string cheese, crackers and peanut butter, or apples with caramel dip to draw attention to wholesome foods that will improve satiety while also being portion-controlled.

Food Intolerances

From lactose intolerance to an egg allergy to celiac disease, shoppers have their own reasons to find products that suit their unique dietary needs. Customers with food sensitivities, intolerances or allergies gather groceries from all corners of the grocery store as other patrons do, so offering products that highlight “free-from” ingredient lists are helpful for increasing these shoppers’ basket size. Be sure to stock items like nondairy milks, egg-free noodles and gluten-free buns in prominent places so they’re not missed. Also, engage your retail dietitian team to curate pamphlets for educating shoppers on how to shop for these products, including a sample meal plan and grocery list for common food intolerances.

Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian for Kroger Health.

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CONTACT YOUR SALES REP TO GET STARTED TODAY. Tammy Rokowski Associate Publisher, Regional Sales Manager Southwest, MI, International 248.514.9500

Theresa Kossack Sales - Midwest, GA, FL 214.226.6468

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

Lou Meszoros Business Development Manager - Grocery Group 203.610.2807


Retailer Deep Dive

Global Growth Multicultural grocers drive sales by catering to an increasingly diverse America. By Gina Acosta


f you walk into the Fiesta Mart grocery store just north of the main campus of the University of Texas in Austin, you might just see a Vietnamese man shopping for a piñata. Or a Filipina picking up a package of freshly diced Mexican cactus (nopales) for her stir-fry recipe. Or a Thai restaurant owner looking for a deal on fresh cilantro (in July, three bunches were selling for a mere 88 cents). Now more than ever, Houston-based Fiesta Mart, one of the largest Hispanic-focused U.S. supermarket chains, with 63 locations, is attracting not just Latino shoppers, but also many customers with non-Hispanic backgrounds looking for the freshest produce and meats at a good value during a historic inflationary period. In addition to offering great buys on fresh herbs, many multicultural grocery stores are also thriving as the United States grows significantly more diverse. The U.S. Census Bureau reported last year that the populations of people identifying as Hispanic and Asian have surged. People who identify as white now make up just 58% of the population, down from 64% in 2010 and 69% in 2000. The Census Bureau estimates that the United States will be a multicultural-majority nation by 2044. Capitalizing on the multicultural opportunity are pure-play grocers such as Fiesta Mart, H Key Takeaways Mart, 99 Ranch Market, Northgate Gonzalez Multicultural grocery chains Market and many others, all of which offer are keeping shoppers loyal by many items central to cultural cuisine that stocking shelves with fresh aren’t found in a lot of traditional grocery or ingredients, flavors, brands and natural food stores. authentic products. These food retailers are growing revenue and Multicultural shoppers are footprints as demographic changes and youngyoung and have $3.9 trillion er consumers’ interest in global cuisines drive in buying power. multicultural grocery shopping. The multiculHispanics and Blacks are most tural grocery market is estimated at $50 billion likely to shop for groceries online; and growing by nearly 2% a year, positioning Asians are most likely to shop for these retailers to be a major area of growth in personal care items online. the supermarket industry for years to come. However, for Northgate Market, which spoke


Houston-based Fiesta Mart is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The chain, with 60-plus stores in Texas, describes itself as "a truly unique global shopping experience." Fiesta Mart is owned by Mexican grocery company Chedraui, which also owns El Super and Smart & Final.


Retailer Deep Dive

Authenticity rules the day at Fiesta Mart, where shoppers have a variety of international baked goods to choose from. Tortillas are griddled fresh daily, and cakes are made and decorated to order. The bakery also features French breads and custard desserts.

exclusively to Progressive Grocer, being a great merchant for the multicultural consumer is more about traditions and trends than it is about cheap cilantro. “Northgate Market has always strived to deliver several specific experiences for our customers — hometown assortment and quality,” said Mike Hendry, head of marketing and sales at Anaheim, Calif.-based Northgate Market. “Being a great merchant for us is about understanding what our target customer is looking for — a combination of trends and traditions — what is important to them and delivering it with the highest quality.”

A Changing Shopper

The Northgate target customer Hendry mentions is more than likely young and multicultural, with $3.9 trillion in buying power, according to a 2021 shopper insights report from sales and marketing agency Acosta. “Multicultural households continue to be a driving force of purchasing power and will account for half of the U.S. population in less than 25 years,” observes Colin Stewart, EVP, business intelligence at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta. “This 20

means understanding multicultural consumers and their shopping habits is key for grocery retailers to connect with an emerging group and provide a more personalized customer experience.” When it asked consumers about their levels of enjoyment while shopping for groceries, Acosta found that multicultural households were far At the Fiesta Mart near UT-Austin, foodservice takes the form of a taquería featuring tacos, burritos, tortas, pupusas, quesabirrias, ceviche and aguas frescas. Shoppers can also buy hot food by the pound, including steak fajitas, stews and carne asada.









Retailer Deep Dive

more likely to enjoy the experience than white shoppers. Now that the pandemic peak has subsided and shoppers are back to crowding physical stores, this presents an opportunity for all food retailers to attract more of these consumers. While the majority of Black, Hispanic and white shoppers consider low prices to be the most important grocery store attribute, Asian shoppers are more interested in convenience, according to the Acosta report. Forty percent of Asian

Multicultural grocers are winning shoppers by appealing to specific cultural differentiators such as top-notch perimeter merchandising, the freshest produce, and service departments that focus on quality at a good value.

Northgate Market is a family-owned Hispanic grocery chain with 42 stores in California, focused on playing an important role for communities as an authentic market that provides a sense of heritage and family. The company has elevated its omnichannel game by boosting its e-commerce capabilities.


shoppers most highly value grocery stores that are close to home. Thirty-six percent of Black shoppers and 29% of Hispanic shoppers most highly value grocery stores with the best prices, versus 43% of white shoppers. In the area of brand preferences, 51% of Black shoppers told Acosta that they most highly value food brands offering good quality for the price. Trustworthy brands were also a priority (38%). Forty-six percent of Asian shoppers most highly value food brands offering good quality for the price. Fair everyday prices are also a priority (34%). Meanwhile, 39% of Hispanic shoppers most highly value food brands offering good quality for the price, with fair everyday prices also a priority (32%). Another study, this one conducted by Sparkle Insights and TFC in 2022, found that the COVID-19 pandemic has created an inflection point in multicultural consumer behaviors in the United States that offers traditional grocery chains, mass retail and discounters an opportunity to better understand and cater to this growing segment. More than 80% of consumers reported shop-

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Retailer Deep Dive ping for groceries at mass-merchandise stores, according to the Sparkle Insights/TFC study. African Americans and Hispanics are over-indexing on dollar stores and convenience stores, while Asians are over-indexing on multicultural grocery stores and pharmacy stores. The pandemic has also shifted a lot of multicultural shopping online. Close to half of multicultural consumers shop for groceries online, the Sparkle Insights/TFC report found. Hispanic and Black consumers are most likely to shop for groceries online, while Asians are most likely to shop for personal care items online. Multicultural grocers are winning these shoppers by appealing to specific cultural differentiators such as top-notch perimeter merchandising and service departments that focus on quality at a good value. However, multicultural grocers, especially after the pandemic, are also playing an increasingly important role for communities as gathering places that provide a sense of culture and connection.

Vibrant Mercado Experience

For instance, Northgate Market is a family-owned Hispanic grocery chain with 42 stores in California, focused on playing an important role for communities as an authentic market that provides a sense of heritage and family, Hendry notes.

“Our stated purpose at Northgate Market is to enrich the lives of those around us through our faith in God and our deep passion for authentic Mexican food and a vibrant mercado [market] experience,” he explains. “It gives us purpose and is key to our past and future successes. We strive to bring this alive in every interaction we have with our associates, communities and customers. We aim to reward hard work, assume positive intent and give back to the communities that graciously welcomed us.” In addition to serving as a gathering place for the community, the company has also elevated its omnichannel game by boosting its e-commerce capabilities. With help from Atlanta-based NCR’s Freshop solution, Northgate has been able to implement its own online ordering and curbside pickup services. The retailer previously introduced NCR’s point-of-sale solution that unifies technologies used to run the stores. “Northgate Market currently partners with several third-party providers to satisfy the home delivery needs of customers,” Hendry adds. “We also have deployed our own curbside service — Northgate Pronto — that provides the convenience of curbside

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“in-store” relationships

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“Northgate Market has always strived to deliver several specific experiences for our customers — hometown assortment and quality. Being a great merchant for us is about understanding what our target customer is looking for — a combination of trends and traditions — what is important to them and delivering it with the highest quality.” —Mike Hendry, Head of Marketing and Sales, Northgate Market Northgate Market has been leveraging social media to suggest that its shoppers go plant-based on Meatless Monday by replacing meat with nopales, which a shopper is seen here inspecting.

service, handpicked by our own specially trained associates.” The groer is also embracing technology by digitizing its stores’ advertisements on its website and offering virtual cooking classes. “We continue to learn about our e-commerce customers’ ever-changing behaviors and needs, and adjust our offerings,” Hendry observes. “Ultimately, our goal is not to replace a store visit but to augment our in-store experience with a

digital extension of our in-store experience through our omnichannel offerings.” According to the Acosta study cited earlier, 54% of Hispanic consumers shop for groceries online, and these shoppers spend 42% of their monthly grocery dollars online; 41% of Black consumers shop for groceries online, and these shoppers spend 39% of their monthly grocery dollars online; 41% of white consumers shop for groceries online, and these shoppers spend 38% of their monthly grocery dollars online; and 41%




Professional Series

The In-Store “Relationship Management” Specialists




Retailer Deep Dive of Asian consumers shop for groceries online, and these shoppers spend 39% of their monthly grocery dollars online. While all online shopper segments spent about 40% of their grocery dollars online, Acosta’s data shows that multicultural shoppers are most likely to increase their spending in the future, which makes Northgate’s focus on e-commerce all the more prescient. When it comes to merchandising, however, authenticity drives much of the strategy at Northgate, regardless of the way its customers shop. “Since we opened our first store, we have focused on carrying the authentic foods important to our Mexican heritage and our customers’ culture and family,” Hendry says. “We will always strive to deliver the highest, freshest quality. We train our associates by saying, ‘If we would not serve it in our own homes, we will not sell it in our stores.’ We have never wavered from this and feel that today is no different from the past.’ The company has the tradition part of serving customers down pat, but according to Hendry, the company keeps pace with trends by hyper-localizing assortments. “We stay on top of merchandising trends by staying close to our customers’ traditions and to any Mexican-related food trends,” he notes. “Most of our stores are composed of 80%-plus of the same assortments. However, by the size of

the store and regionality, we change the assortment to match the community — which part of Mexico families are from — and to maximize the best fresh and authentic offerings for the customer, given any space restrictions.” Northgate has a distribution center in Anaheim that services all of its stores, as well as a network of distribution partners and vendors that it leverages. “Combining this and the growth of our customer demographics in California, we believe we are poised for future growth,” Hendry says. “We are committed to continual and responsible growth that will serve our communities well.” Part of serving the community means making sure there’s a way for local residents to take advantage of the company’s talent development and training programs centered on Northgate’s core values. “Leadership Rise is our program that allows our leaders to be the best they can be while maximizing their strengths for success,” Hendry notes. “In this program, we focus on the people side of leadership and techniques to help leaders create an engaging environment for our associates to thrive. Our Immersive Leadership program allows leaders to advance their understanding of each area of the operation, furthering their growth and development through hands-on immersion.”

Kimchi and Congee

Of course, it’s not just the Hispanic-focused chains that are poised for big growth. Asian food-centered grocers are also booming. With locations in California, Washington, Nevada, Texas and now New York, Buena Park, Calif.-based 99 Ranch Market has expanded rapidly because of its popularity within the Asian community and is now one of the largest Asian grocery 26

H Mart, founded in 1982 in the New York City borough of Queens, now has nearly 100 stores across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The grocery chain has set its sights next on opening stores in Hawaii, Massachusetts and Florida.

chains in the country. Its stores offer a mix of Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and other Asian foods. The company was founded in California’s Orange County by Taiwanese immigrant Roger Chen in 1984. The store in Houston has a huge bakery with seating, a produce department stocked with every vegetable one might need for an Asian recipe, and an enormous seafood selection, including many things still swimming. Shoppers can expect to find not only Hong Kong-style barbecue, noodles and congee, and dim sum, but also French pastries, Snake River Farms steaks, Berkshire pork and Caribbean-style papaya shakes. The market also has an in-store mini-mall that carries a selection of Asian cosmetics, toiletries and jewelry, as well as a pho bar. Meanwhile, H Mart, founded in 1982 in the New York City borough of Queens, now has nearly 100 stores across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. It has such a cult following that it even gets name-checked by a New York Times best-selling book: “Crying in H Mart,” a memoir about growing up Korean American by Michelle Zauner. The Lyndhurst, N.J.-based grocery chain has set its sights next on opening stores in Hawaii, Massachusetts and Florida. All of these strong offerings from multicultural grocers are pushing some traditional grocers to increase their offerings in this space. Some food retailers are placing a greater emphasis on multicultural through more shelf space, broader assortments and digital recipe inspiration. While Walmart, Target, Kroger and other big chains expand their multicultural assortments, Southeastern Grocers has recently expended its Fresco Y Más branded stores in South Florida, which cater to Hispanic communities. Traditional supermarkets may not be able to offer the expansive assortment seen in multicultural stores, but one of the ways that all retailers can stay relevant amid this massive cultural shift in the United States is by tailoring their product mix to their customer demographics. Traditional food retailers should take a page from the multicultural grocer handbook as they look to leverage the potential of a trend that’s only intensifying.



Selling Seafood RE TAILERS, MANUFACTURERS AND ORGANIZ ATIONS OFFER STR ATEGIES FOR KEEPING CUSTOMERS HOOKED. By Bridget Goldschmidt s bad as the pandemic was at its height, it had an unequivocally positive effect on seafood sales. “In the first year of the pandemic, seafood sales saw some of the most dramatic increases among all areas of food retail across fresh, frozen and grocery and across all species,” notes the introduction to the 2022 “Power of Seafood” report from Arlington, Va.-based FMI — The Food Industry Association. “Sales of seafood benefited from a number of factors, including restaurants closing, consumers seeking healthier and nutritious foods, the desire for variety, the trend to cooking at home coupled with cooking fatigue, supply chain issues and higher prices for other proteins.” That growth was maintained in 2021, with seafood sales edging up an additional 0.9%.


Key Takeaways With pandemic restrictions largely over, retailers and other stakeholders must continue to sustain and build on the growth across all seafood segments that occurred during that time. Retailers are focusing on making home preparation of seafood fun, easy and affordable, with resources such as recipes, promotions, free nutritional health coaching and in-store cooking demos. Suppliers are offering preparation tips and varied and convenient products, including plant-based options, while aquaculture certification organizations seek to raise awareness of sustainable farm-raised product.

During the pandemic, fresh, frozen and shelf-stable seafood sales soared as homebound consumers ventured into their kitchens to prepared home-cooked meals.


RFM Certification Drives Purchase of Wild-Caught Alaska Seafood

Sustainability means more than protecting the environment

Certification Wields Basket-building Power

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

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


of consumers say the RFM eco-label drives purchase


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

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

Datassential 2021

Datassential RFM Certification Study 2022

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


Seafood Now that pandemic-related restrictions have largely been lifted and most people have returned to previous eating routines — among them dining out — how are seafood sales across the store currently faring? “Frozen seafood dollar sales were about $18 million higher than fresh seafood in June 2022, at $520 million versus $502 million, respectively,” notes Anne-Marie Roerink, president of San Antonio-based 210 Analytics, citing data from Chicago-based IRI. “This was due to a 13.3% decline for fresh seafood when comparing June 2022 dollar sales to year-ago levels. Frozen seafood dollars declined as well, but at a much slower rate of 7.4%. Only shelf-stable seafood (canned and pouches) increased, at 7.8%, along with an increase in volume sales.” The reason for this, Roerink observes, is that “[a]mbient seafood sales often do well during times of inflation and uncertainty.” With this the case, the question becomes, how can retailers and other stakeholders “[continue] to sustain and build on” the growth across all seafood segments that occurred during the pandemic, as the 2022 “Power of Seafood” report asks?

Retail Inspiration

“We’ve seen strong sales in seafood, significantly stronger than preCOVID 2019 sales levels,” says Brittney Bullock, category merchant and buyer, seafood, at Bronx, N.Y.-based e-grocer FreshDirect, part of Ahold Delhaize USA. “There’s softness compared to 2021, which was softer than 2020, which is indicative of customers’ behaviors resuming to more of a balance between dining out and cooking in the home, which is a sign of a much healthier, more normalized food economy. The pandemic has given us a chance to prove to customers that our quality and assortment is unmatched and the best value for a seasonal seafood meal is to prepare it at home.” To retain shoppers who took up cooking seafood at home during the pandemic, Bullock suggests: “Keep giving customers inspiration to cook at home with great recipe content that is also extremely accessible, so they’re successful. Every week, there’s something new on the [FreshDirect] site for customers to try, and there’s always Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon aims to help consumers to cook salmon at home with its Fast Wild Easy campaign, featuring simple recipes with five ingredients or fewer.


“The pandemic has given us a chance to prove to customers that our quality and assortment is unmatched and the best value for a seasonal seafood meal is to prepare it at home.” —Brittney Bullock, FreshDirect

accompanying seafood on sale for them to buy. If you can build confidence among consumers, all while giving them the best deal on the freshest and widest assortment of quality seafood, customers will keep coming back. We also try to communicate to the customer very clearly on our sourcing partners so they can feel confident that they know where their fish is coming from. We want them to feel connected to the fisheries we source from and understand that those are the people they’re buying seafood from; we’re just the middlemen who cut and prep their order to their specifications.” According to Bullock, the most popular seafood items at FreshDirect include its farm-raised Sixty South salmon, wild Icelandic cod loins and wild domestic gulf shrimp, as well as farm-raised branzino from Greece. For those who remain reluctant to prepare their own seafood dishes, FreshDirect offers assistance. “For years, we’ve worked to bring consumers into the category that may be wary or intimidated by the idea of cooking seafood at home,” says Bullock. “Our homepage has always included simple recipes to inspire customers who come onto the site to say, ‘I can make that.’ We’ve found it much more effective than just putting a fish on sale and hoping someone will buy it.” Additionally, the e-grocer’s ready-to-cook pre-marinaded seafood main courses and meal kits “come with cooking instructions, and so those are a great place for [cooking-averse] customers to start,” she points out. At Lakewood, Colo.-based Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, which boasts “a well-curated seafood category with very high standards to match the increased demand” related to alternative lifestyles such as pescatarianism and even “seaganism” — a regime in which people follow a vegan diet but include sustainably sourced seafood for healthy extra protein — PR Manager Katie Macarelli notes that the focus is on “making cooking with sustainably sourced seafood fun, easy and affordable! Each month, Natural Grocers publishes a Health Hotline. This is a fun, engaging resource for our customers — available in print or online — that includes seasonal recipes, consumer


Seafood “The best way to retain these new home cooks is to inspire them with the variety of recipes that they can make with seafood.” —Jeremy Zavoral, Bumble Bee Seafoods education, and in-store promotions and discounts.” Macarelli also cites the grocer’s “amazing” social media team members, who “really bring our monthly promotions to life,” as well as “old-school” recipe cards offered at Natural Grocers stores across the country. “You can walk in, browse our recipe display for inspiration, pick up the recipe card and shop for all the ingredients right there,” she says, adding that shoppers “can feel good about where [their] food came from.” The retailer additionally provides free nutritional health coaching and in-store recipe demonstrations at its stores, as well as many more recipes on its website that incorporate seafood — “63, to be exact,” according to Macarelli. Natural Grocers also touts its status as “the only specialty retailer with our size of footprint dedicated to delivering 100% humanely raised and sustainably sourced fish and seafood,” as Macarelli notes. “When we choose products and practices as an

Bumble Bee is launching a line of Quick Catch Tuna Bowls offering convenient mini-meals that can be eaten hot or cold.



industry that support renewal, we create a future that is sustainable. By providing these products with transparent labeling and consumer education, we empower our consumers to vote with their wallets, which continues to support regeneration.”

Frozen, Shelf-Stable and Plant-Based Innovation

Seafood suppliers have also been working to maintain seafood sales. For instance, Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon, the wild-caught brand of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, in Anchorage, Alaska, has come up with three inventive cooking-salmon-at-home campaigns, according to Marketing Director Lilani Dunn: “Fast Wild Easy, which uses five or fewer ingredients that can be found in your kitchen already; HealthFULL recipes that pair already nutritionally rich salmon with accompanying sides; and our well-performing and popular Salmon Cooking Guide that speaks to the variety of ways to prep salmon and includes pro tips from various culinary experts from around the country.” Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon is available frozen and canned. “The best way to retain these new home cooks is to inspire them with the variety of recipes that they can make with seafood,” advises Jeremy Zavoral, brand marketing director at San Diego-based Bumble Bee Seafoods, whose products encompass shelf-stable and frozen items. “Everyone knows that Bumble Bee Solid White Albacore tuna makes a great tuna sandwich, but have you tried using it as a

flatbread topping, mixing it into a ceviche or including it in a Mediterranean hummus dip?” As for non-cooks, “We know that 60% of tuna consumption occurs at lunch and that younger consumers are more likely to purchase ready-to-eat meals that are convenient and healthy,” he notes. “That is why we are creating new product options designed for on-the-go meals like our Bumble Bee Protein on the Run kits, the first gourmet tuna snack experience on the market. Each convenient kit comes in one of three delicious flavors — Zesty Lemon, Black Pepper or Mild Jalapeno — and features buttery, savory artisanal crackers and a rich, smooth caramel treat to finish.” Adds Zavoral: “Later this fall, we will also be launching a new line of Bumble Bee Quick Catch Tuna Bowls featuring wild-caught, dolphin-safe, high-quality tuna for a convenient mini-meal that can be eaten hot or cold.” Bumble Bee’s innovation also extends to its packaging. In keeping with the company’s commitment to sustainability, Zavoral notes that “earlier this year, we announced an industry-first shift from shrink wrap to paperboard cartons on our multipack can products. This is significant because it will eliminate an estimated 23 million pieces of plastic waste annually, and it also moves our company





Seafood to 98% readily recyclable packaging within our total product line. The paperboard is made from 100% recycled material, with a minimum of 35% post-consumer content, and is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. That means that the multipack can product packaging is fully recyclable in home recycling systems, both the box exterior and the cans inside. Consumer testing also revealed appreciation for the modern and unique package design, easier-to-read label and option to easily stack the box on a home pantry shelf.” Plant-based seafood is also an increasingly popular option, including the OmniSeafood Golden Fillet, OmniSeafood Classic Fillet and OmniSeafood Crab Cake from OmniFoods, which are due in U.S. grocery stores nationwide through the second half of this year. “For retailers, this is a whole new product range that offers diversity, variety and great quality,” says David Yeung, co-founder and CEO of Hong Kong-based Green Monday Holdings and OmniFoods. “It also means an added dimension of environmental consciousness. For consumers, this is a good chance to become much more aware of the mercury and micro-plastic pollution that have a clear negative effect on our health. It also is a chance to know about the crisis in ocean conservation and sustainability due to overfishing and unsustainable seafood consumption.” Yeung also cites inflation as a factor in consumer adoption of such products: “Given the backdrop of seafood and meat prices skyrocketing, [plant-based seafood] is no doubt becoming an even more attractive option.”

The Rise of Aquaculture

While wild-caught seafood remains prominent, seafood produced through aquaculture is steadily increasing its profile “Farmed seafood awareness and consumption has grown significantly in the U.S. in recent years, reaching the point that now more than half of all seafood purchased in the U.S. is farm-raised,” asserts Kathleen McDavitt, U.S. market development manager at the Utrecht, Netherlands-based Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which offers a highly regarded farmed-seafood certification program. “Retailers see this consumer acceptance of farmed seafood and are working to meet that demand, but selling farm-raised Plant-based seafood options like the OmniSeafood Crab Cake are increasingly available at U.S. grocery stores across the country.


Farmed-seafood certification programs such as Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) are encouraging consumers to seek out certified products at retail.

seafood also is a fact of life as pressure continues to dangerously impact wild stocks. There simply isn’t enough global capacity for wild-caught seafood to meet consumer demand, and retail companies are seeking solutions that must include social and environmental responsibility.” McDavitt suggests: “On a tactical level, grocers could take advantage of this growing demand [for aquaculture] through sampling, digital marketing campaigns, marketing events, etc. On a strategic level: Put a label on it! The ASC logo is far more than just a marketing label. It is used by ASC as an assurance tool that demonstrates chain-of-custody protocols have been followed throughout the supply chain. Relying on ASC’s certification program and putting the ASC logo on products makes it easy for retailers to assure consumers they are enjoying healthy and responsibly farmed seafood. Simple pointof-sale signage can give a big boost as well.” She adds: “ASC just this year has embarked on a multiyear campaign to educate consumers on the benefits of certified farmed seafood and the meaning of our sea green label to help better inform consumers on their next visit to the seafood case. This campaign includes national social media outreach, influencer campaigns, media relations and local sampling events in select markets this fall at food festivals, restaurants and grocers. In its first year, we kicked off the campaign with ‘The New Way to Seafood’ tagline and will continue to evolve and expand our message in 2023 and beyond.” The Global Seafood Alliance (GSA) also offers farmed-seafood certification, under the trusted Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) program. “There are two primary ways for retailers to inform customers about BAP,” says Steven Hedlund, manager of communications and events at Portsmouth, N.H.-based GSA. “With the growth of online retail sales, it is really important for retailers to explain their use of BAP for sourcing on their website and to communicate it also on their online shopping platforms and apps. Another great way is to use the BAP label on store-brand products, request its use on branded seafood and highlight the BAP products with signage in the fresh case. Seeing the label at the point of sale is very reassuring for customers. There also is no logo licensing fee associated with using the BAP logo.”

As to how likely shoppers are to pay attention to this tactic, according to Hedlund, “64% of consumers would choose products with the BAP label over other proteins, and about half of consumers have favorable views of retailers who display the BAP label.” Further, GSA plans to conduct its first consumer communica-

ASC Holds 1st Shrimp Summit On July 12-13, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) hosted the inaugural 2022 ASC Shrimp Summit, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The first-of-its-kind event aimed to unite North American retailers with Ecuadorian producers of ASC-certified and labeled shrimp, offering an in-depth look at the supply chain right where it starts: on the farm. Kathleen McDavitt, U.S. market development manager at the Utrecht, Netherlands-based ASC, described the summit as “the perfect opportunity to connect grocers who are experiencing this growing demand for farmed seafood with the producers who are supplying it to them.” Adds McDavitt: “As retailers continue to engage with their customers about farmed seafood, there’s no better way to make them better informed than giving them the opportunity to learn what certified seafood farming and processing looks like in person. This also, of course, gives retailers the opportunity to share with the producers the preferences and issues that are most important to their customers.” To accomplish this goal, ASC gathered 14 representatives from major food retailers, including Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize USA and Loblaws, along with such industry heavyweights as Sysco, for a series of farm tours, panels and workshops over the two-day summit. Known as the “gateway to the Galapagos,” Guayaquil is a port city in southern Ecuador. Greater Guayaquil stretches across land and coast, where its diverse ecosystem strikes a unique balance with the largest shrimp industry in the world. The country went from 5.6% global production in 2010 to 22.1% in 2021, exporting more than USD $5 billion in shrimp alone. “We worked closely with Ecuadorian-based Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP) to ensure over 40 aquaculture companies were represented as part of the effort to expand dialog between the two markets,” notes McDavitt. The busy agenda included: Trips to four ASC-certified shrimp farms demonstrating a wide range of production volumes and environments, including those using sea water (high salinity) and river water (low salinity), with both resulting in healthy mutual water exchange. An up-close look at hatcheries and harvest activities, which is when ASC-certified farms are audited to monitor and document practices during the busiest times of the year.

tions campaign for National Seafood Month in October. “Retailers can join with us to help promote their stores and BAP-certified farmed seafood at the same time,” notes Hedlund, adding that GSA's new consumer-facing website offers more information about the label.

Samplings of ASC-certified shrimp dishes, showing the unique flavors that arise from Ecuador’s mid-salinity environment, where antibiotic-free, responsibly farmed Pacific white shrimp are raised. A series of panels and workshops featuring retailers, producers and processors to foster better understanding of the North American marketplace and ASC-certified, labeled shrimp production in Ecuador. In other sustainable shrimp news, specialty grocer Gelson’s highlighted Del Pacifico’s wild-caught blue Mexican shrimp at all of the retailer’s 27 Southern California locations with a special 25%-off promotion that ran July 22-24. Caught off the western coast of Mexico, the shrimp are chemical- and preservative-free and completely traceable. They’re caught using artisanal panga boats powered by the winds and tide to drift a “suripera” net, one of the most sustainable ways to catch shrimp. The product is then processed, flash-frozen once and shipped the same day that it’s caught to ensure and preserve freshness and premium quality. The shrimp are also fair-trade certified, which means a premium from all purchases is returned directly to the fishers themselves. Currently, a portion of the premium must be spent on environmental conservation projects, while the rest can be spent as the fishers and community determine. “Del Pacifico’s wild blue Mexican shrimp aligns perfectly with what type of seafood we want to offer our customers: It’s clean, sustainable, fair-trade certified and delicious,” said Fernando Moreno, meat and seafood buyer for Encino, Calif.-based Gelson’s, when the promotion rolled out in July. “It’s a great time for customers to take advantage of the special promo and discover how versatile this shrimp is. The sweet, succulent taste and crisp, snappy texture make them a great option for all types of occasions and recipes, from shrimp cocktail and ceviche to pasta dishes or tossing them on the grill.” During the promotion, Gelson’s customers could find specially priced wild-caught blue Mexican shrimp offered by Downey, Calif.-based Del Pacifico at the grocer’s seafood counters, as well as packaged in its frozen seafood sections.




Private Brands


ith record inflation looming large in the minds of most American grocery shoppers, retailers’ private brands are well positioned to experience further growth this year. Experts stress, however, that it will take some renewed focus and ingenuity for grocers to truly take their strategies to the next level. What’s the current state of private label? It depends on whom you ask and what you’re measuring. Dollar sales have certainly been up for


Natural food retailers like Whole Foods Market attract shoppers with the value and lower price of their private brands. Produce is seen as a huge growth area for private label, particularly as prices continue to rise due to inflation.

Key Takeaways Despite private brands’ potential for further growth, it will take renewed focus and ingenuity for grocers to truly take their strategies to the next level. Inflation is playing a key role in how some consumers shop for private brands, whose lower prices and value for money are particularly attractive during periods of economic downturn. Driving consumer trial of store brands is key to success; ongoing product innovation and omnichannel marketing are key components of this.

“Nearly 70% of consumers say private brands are a better value for their money. Consumer expectation is at an all-time high, with shoppers looking for products that not only fit their budgets, but deliver on lifestyle needs ranging from health and wellness, to meeting sustainability desires, to minimizing environmental harm, to cultivating convenience.”

private brands — but this is due in large part to higher prices. Additionally, private label saw a huge boost during the initial stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many national brands were out of stock, but that growth has slowed since supply chain issues have eased, at least in some areas. Chicago-based market research firm IRI reports that private-brand dollar sales grew 1% in 2021 to hit a record $199 billion in all U.S. retail channels. In comparison, in the first half of 2022, all-outlet dollars spent per household increased 7.9% for private brands compared with a year ago, while spending on national brands increased 5.8%. Meanwhile, consumer unit purchases declined in the first half of the year for both private brands and national brands, indicating that consumers are buying less even though they’re spending more. The unit-per-buying-household drop was -2.2% for private brands and -4.1% for national brands. Volume — yet another way to measure demand — will likely edge down a bit for both private and national brands in the coming months due to shrinkflation (that’s when manufacturers slightly reduce the contents of their packages while —Andrew Moberly, Daymon maintaining the same sticker price). Private-brand dollar shares have softened overall in recent years, according to IRI data cited in an FMI report, “The Power of Private Brands 2022,” published earlier this year. Private-brand share of total dollar sales in all outlets fell to 17.2% in the year ending March 20, down from 17.5% the year before and 17.7% two years before. During this time, national brands likely benefited as more consumers who were stuck at home and gaining disposable income through stimulus payments traded up to more premium offerings. When you look at the growth of private label, it needs to be recognized that retailers across the country have different strategies and different approaches, so it’s impossible to measure the “state of private label” in one fell swoop. Limited-assortment chains like Trader Joe’s and Aldi have made private brands a key part of their strategies, and as this format continues to gain ground across the U.S. landscape, it will broaden shoppers’ exposure to these brands and thus continue to grow private label as a whole. Meanwhile, club operators such as Costco that have spent plenty of time and energy developing their own brands will continue to experience favorability with their core shoppers. Mass

merchandisers like Walmart and Target have also rolled out multiple private brands over the years that will likely continue to appeal to their audiences. These formats tend to over-index on private label sales in comparison with conventional grocers. Dollar stores are also starting to introduce more of their own brands, although it might be harder for them to maintain desirable margins, since they already have to keep prices so low. These examples offer promise for the future of private label, but they also illustrate the enormous amount of competition that traditional grocers face in both brick-and-mortar stores and online. “You’re not competing one to one, private label versus the national brand,” notes Mary Ellen Lynch, principal consultant and team leader at IRI. “Any given private brand is also competing with other retailers’ store brands within the shopping universe of each one of your shoppers.”

Inflation’s Impact

While it’s not immediately clear how much private label will advance in the next few years, there’s no doubt that at least for now, inflation is playing a key role in how some consumers shop for these brands, especially in certain categories. “We believe store brands will be a key consumer ally during this current inflationary period and going forward by providing high-quality, high-value products in every category,” says Peggy Davies, president of the New York-based Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA), in the trade group’s “2022 Private Label Report.” At least one other observer also expects to see some long-term gains for private brands. “Inflation has reinvigorated the legacy function of private brands in their ability to

Almost 100% of U.S. households — 99.4% to be exact — purchased private brands in the past year, whether they realized it or not. — IRI PROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022



Private Brands provide savings and value to shoppers, which hisSimple Truth is just one of Kroger's successful private torically provides long-term growth and success brands. The retailer has to retailers during periods of economic downturn,” focused on developing says Andrew Moberly, senior director of strategic unique products that advisory for Daymon, a retail branding firm based appeal to the latest consumer trends in regard in Stamford, Conn. He notes that around the to health and wellness and period of the Great Recession, from 2008 to 2010, sustainability. private brands gained $8 billion in sales. Fast-forward to 2022, and almost 30% of consumers who were surveyed in March said that higher prices had led them to buy more private brands, according to FMI’s report. Just over 40% said that they’ve been purchasing more private brands compared with before the pandemic, and three-quarters said that they expect to continue doing so in the future. Consumer Price Index (CPI) information released in July by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the 1.3% inflation rate in June topped the previous month’s figure that was a 40-year high. The CPI for all items was up 9.1% for the past 12 months, while the CPI for food at home was 12.2% higher than last year. As of late July, gas prices were finally starting to come down, and prices of some food items like cooking oil, coffee and avocados were beginning to drop, although they remained relatively high. IRI’s Lynch notes that if gas prices start to return to a more normal range and consumers hold off on larger purchases because of high finance rates, we could see shoppers shift some household dollars to discretionary CPG goods or preferred brands that they previously put on hold.

Private Brand Department Dollar Sales, 2021 Department

Fiscal Year % Change




General Food



General Merchandise





















Deli Prepared






Home Care



Deli Meat






Deli Cheese









Source: IRI/PLMA


Fiscal Year Store-Brand Dollar Volume


More Than a Low Price

Beyond low prices, today’s private brands are also seen as providing good value — which is certainly a plus compared with years ago, when they were referred to as “generic brands.” “Nearly 70% of consumers say private brands are a better value for their money,” observes Daymon’s Moberly. “Consumer expectation is at an all-time high, with shoppers looking for products that not only fit their budgets, but deliver on lifestyle needs ranging from health and wellness, to meeting sustainability desires, to minimizing environmental harm, to cultivating convenience.”

On average, U.S. households spend 17.5% of their CPG budget on private-brand products. — IRI

FMI’s report confirms this, noting that shoppers say the taste and quality of private brands they use are on par with national brands. Shoppers actually list taste as the No.1 factor in their product selection, whether they’re purchasing a private brand or a name brand. “Retailers have worked hard in recent years to develop store brands as good as or even better than the national brands, so it comes down to getting shoppers to try them,” notes Lynch. “Driving consumer trial of store brands is key to success. And I think it’s even more important in the current inflationary climate, because shoppers won’t want to risk spending any of their budget on something that they or their family won’t like.”

Room for Growth

Over the past three years, one area of grocery that has shown a lot of growth potential for private label is meal components. IRI Omni Scan Panel data for all outlets year to date ending July 12 shows that items such as frozen raw shrimp, spices/seasonings, natural cheese slices, muffins, refrigerated and frozen uncooked meats, frozen appetizers, and refrigerated flavored spreads have all grown in household penetration since before the pandemic. Meal solutions and components will likely remain a growth area for private label if consumers continue to eat at home more, either to save money or fit work-at-home lifestyles, according to Moberly. FMI’s study confirms what some of IRI’s data shows, as consumers who qualify as “frequent private-brand shoppers” say that they tend to purchase store brands in the following categories: fresh bakery items (35%), nonprescription drugs (26%), milk (25%), fresh prepared meals (24%) and deli foods (23%). Categories in which they purchase top national brands include packaged alcoholic beverages, pet food, plant-based meat alternatives, coffee and tea, and HBC products. PLMA, for its part, has recognized the growth potential for products that feature healthier attributes, and has focused on this during its most recent trade shows. These attributes include vegan, clean, plant-based,

“The story behind the brands is going to be the biggest factor for private labels moving forward.” —Randy Riley, GoldenSun Insights

Defining the Frequent Private-Brand Shopper FMI’s “The Power of Private Brands 2022” report finds some key characteristics of shoppers who say that they frequently purchase private brands: They skew female (58%). They’re more likely to be Millennials (37%) than Baby Boomers (22%). They’re likely to be in households with kids (40%) and have a slightly larger household size. They’re more likely to come from households with income of less than $50,000 (48%). They’re more likely to come from rural areas or small towns (41%) or urban areas (31%), compared with suburban areas (28%). They tend to spend more weekly on groceries ($168 versus $152). They’re most likely to claim a mass merchandiser as their primary store (37%), as opposed to a grocery store (30%).

free-from, natural, organic, keto, high-protein, functional, probiotic, prebiotic, gluten-free, heart healthy, sugar-free and low-fat. In addition, the trade association lists sustainability, fresh food and ethnic/international foods as other growth areas for private label. Another category related to health and wellness that’s attracting interest from private brands is fresh produce. GoldenSun Insights, a Batavia, Ohio-based strategy-centric firm focused on the fresh produce supply chain, supports clients with strategy, business development and marketing, including in private label. President and co-owner Randy Riley notes that one way to add value is to create more sustainable packaging. Retailers also need to be as transparent as possible, whether through their messaging to consumers or by featuring social certification programs. “The story behind the brands is going to be the biggest factor for private labels moving forward,” PROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022



Private Brands he predicts. “Consumers want to know the story behind who is growing their food and how it’s being grown, and a private label can hinder that a bit.” Riley also notes that organic versions of private label are seeing development across the produce category.

Tips to Succeed

Lynch advises retailers to be shopper-centric as they evolve their store brands. “Really know the shoppers in your communities and recognize that your communities are all different and may have nuanced needs,” she suggests. “Speak to them in their own terms. That’s what’s going to win, and that’s what the big national brands are doing. They’re leveraging highly focused, targeted

Private Brands in the News Here are just a few examples of retailers getting more creative with private label, as published on in recent months: Neckarsulm, Germany-based discount retailer Lidl, which now operates about 170 stores in nine East Coast states, is running a price-cutting campaign over the summer that features more than 100 items ranging from frozen prepared foods to household products. The largest savings will be on items such as Black Angus top sirloin steak, dried cherries, orange juice, ground coffee, bratwurst, hot Italian sausage, apple juice and pound cake. The retailer didn’t specify how many of its own brands would be included in the campaign.

messaging, promotions, deals and other communications to retain their most valuable customers.” She adds: “A very valuable grocery-buying cohort going forward is the shoppers who are building households, growing families. They are at a stage in life where they buy more stuff. It’s important to make sure you’re addressing their evolving needs and capturing them with your store brands.” Consumers that fall into both the Millennial and Gen Z groups tend to be way more aware of environmental concerns, and retailers should consider offering sustainable packaging and production or plant-based alternatives when it makes sense, Lynch observes. “If you can make a product sustainable while being affordable and with a clean label, that’s a trifecta,” she asserts. Looking ahead, as long as inflation remains top of mind for shoppers, retailers would do well to think about offering weekly deals in the categories hit hardest by inflation, Lynch continues. This is especially important, since consumers are making more trips and shopping more stores to find the best deals. Along those same lines, the “2022 Private Brand Intelligence Report” released earlier this year by Daymon suggests that retailers think more about product placement in their stores, including secondary placement options such as destination sets and end caps. Moberly also advises retailers stay on top of consumer trends and keep innovating as they plan ahead. He suggests that those retailers that focus on an omnichannel strategy — encompassing not just their stores, but also their online business — will best position themselves to win.

Ahold Delhaize USA’s Peapod Digital Labs has launched an Incubator Program for certified diverse-owned suppliers to develop “new, exceptional-quality private-brand products.” During the two-anda-half-month program, the chosen participants will learn from the company’s private-brands team about its private-brand structure and goals, and will grow their knowledge of its existing brands. Participants will be paired with private-brand mentors, who will help them prepare for their final product pitch. Regional chain Raley’s, based in West Sacramento, Calif., has implemented CMX1 for Grocery, a private label management solution from CMX that enables sourcing, supply chain transparency and supplier compliance. “CMX1 for Grocery has taken what was once a largely manual process across multiple systems at Raley’s and enabled us to have a single solution with standardization and automation for how we manage our private label program,” said Elodie Thao, Raley’s senior food safety and quality assurance manager, who noted that the chain is gearing up to expand its offerings.

Nearly 90% of shoppers surveyed in March said that they shop for private brands at their primary store. About 30% said that a retailer’s private brands are very important in choosing to shop there. — FMI’s “The Power of Private Brands 2022” report


In the past, retailers could rely more on the in-store environment to promote their store brands. Today, in our omnichannel world, consumers can find a product anywhere, so retailers must have an online presence for their brands. Daymon’s report suggests that private brands must be fully represented online across display and search, and must be part of the retailer’s integrated strategy. However, there’s also the possibility of overpromoting your store brands online to the point of annoying shoppers. “You want to build awareness, yet you don’t want to turn off shoppers who might find themselves wading through a lot of stuff to get what they want,” cautions Lynch. FMI’s report notes that there’s an opportunity for more retailers to tie their loyalty programs to their private brands — particularly when it comes to the online side of the business. Only a third of shoppers using their grocery store’s loyalty program said that they receive extra points for purchasing store brands. This is a way for retailers to promote more online private-brand purchases including the use of digital coupons. Looking at business fundamentals, Daymon advises retailers to set appropriate key performance indicators (KPIs) and look beyond just sales figures. “While the overall goal of a product for brand owners is sales, innovative items may serve different purposes, such as consumer loyalty, incremental purchases or basket size,” the report notes. The Daymon report also points out the importance of innovation in every tier of private label — not just the premium tier. A Daymon custom analysis found that innovation is actually most important in the mainstream tier of private label. “Brands need to shift their focus beyond premium, to deliver interesting and Supply chain challenges have hit private brand manufacturers, too, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Club store operator Costco, maker of the well-known Kirkland brand, had to limit purchases of its best-selling toilet paper, even in 2021.

Smaller-format grocery stores like Aldi and Trader Joe's lead in CPG private label share, according to new research from Numerator. Trader Joe's Protein Patties are totally vegan and supply 28 grams of protein per serving.

consumer-centric products that fit every need,” the report advises. “By creating a balance of innovative and core items across the portfolio, this will help bridge the gap between tiers, promoting new trial while providing for every need and price point.” The report cites Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s as an example of a company that has built upon its success in private-brand innovation. The retailer opted to use its popular Everything but the Bagel seasoning in other products and categories across the store, such as chips and dips. Last but not least, retailers need to pay more attention to supply chain management as they grow their private label programs, experts advise. “Retailers must be proactive in managing their supply chain and private-brand program strategies across three critical levers — supplier networks, pricing and marketing — to prepare for future consumer needs,” notes Daymon in its report. What wasn’t mentioned in any of the reports — but what may be viewed as the elephant in the room — is the delicate balance that grocery retailers must continue to maintain between building their own brand strategies and their ongoing commitment to and dependence on national brands. Some observers suspect that as commodity prices start to come down, major CPG brands may start executing more and deeper promotions, which could end up outshining the appeal of private brands in the coming months. PROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022



E-Commerce Solutions


ocal businesses have long been the cornerstone of cities and towns across America. Every business encounters unique challenges, but a common concern we’re hearing is managing delivery from the store. Sometimes called “instant commerce,” this is the final step in the local e-commerce process – when an order finally reaches the customer. It’s an expensive service for any small-business owner, especially with small deliveries over a wide area. Since local delivery is now a major driver of customer experience and satisfaction, particularly for independent


Using a white-label delivery service, independent grocers can continue to own the relationship with the customer and manage customer service directly.

grocers, this can be a big pain point. The pandemic forced grocers to take action, especially as regular customers stayed home and curbed spending, even for everyday household items. Delivery meant survival. Now that restrictions are loosening, businesses are re-evaluating delivery management. Delivering directly to customers instantly, reliably and affordably can still be a huge competitive advantage in a post-pandemic landscape, but companies need to weigh the costs of vehicles, drivers, logistics and more. In many cases, small-business owners don’t have the capital to invest in their own delivery fleet, or the time to dedicate to the logistics of maintaining a delivery service. Independent grocers must regularly navigate these complexities to keep

their businesses operating smoothly. E-commerce infrastructure and local delivery can make or break the modern customer experience. Therefore, there’s massive upside to acing the delivery experience. To ensure they’re operating as effectively as possible, grocers should weigh three things before initiating or growing their delivery capabilities.


Inventory Management

Grocers are always trying to balance perpetually popular items with seasonal or trendy products. This inconsistent demand can make it hard to plan ahead, both for inventory and deliveries. For example, bottles of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry sold out everywhere after a TikTok video went viral featuring a man skateboarding to the song “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. Just as quickly, the trend faded. Smart grocers will work their supplier relationships to satisfy demand without getting stuck with a truckload of product should the fad fade.


E-Commerce Enablement

E-commerce became critical to helping people buy their groceries and other essential items during the pandemic. To meet this demand, grocers must ensure that they’re prioritizing e-commerce enablement. This means having a fully shoppable website and a quality user experience. Improving this initial e-commerce experience will better position businesses to win shoppers’ repeat business. Grocers must also ensure that they can reach customers within a 10-, 15and 20-mile radius. Local delivery is a key component here.


Reaching Shoppers Who Prefer to Go Local

Many consumers are motivated to choose brands that align with their values. These could include concerns regarding sustainability, a preference to shop locally or a desire to support small businesses. Independent grocers can have an advantage with these “local shoppers,” as they prefer being patrons of small, local businesses, particularly those that were vulnerable during the pandemic. Prioritizing inventory management and e-commerce enablement, as discussed above, will make it easier to cater to “local shoppers,” at scale.

When It’s Time to Partner Up

These challenges are common across merchants, but grocers serve an essential purpose in our communities: ensuring food is on the table. When it’s time to evaluate the approach to local commerce that best suits a grocer’s needs, I can’t stress enough the importance of partnering with a company that can provide fast, flexible and competitively priced local deliveries to your customers’ doorsteps. Working with a reliable partner that can satisfy consumer needs at lower costs for all will help to fuel a prosperous community. To ensure that a potential e-commerce partner is able to support and enable expansion of delivery services, look for the following standout qualities that will help meet shoppers where they are. No Hidden Fees. Transparency is key for local businesses keeping a close eye on their books. Having 0% or near-zero commission

Delivering directly to customers instantly, reliably and affordably can still be a huge competitive advantage in a post-pandemic landscape, but companies need to weigh the costs of vehicles, drivers, logistics and more. rates isn’t common throughout the industry, but this competitive pricing allows grocers and small-business owners to keep costs low for shoppers and frees up money that can be spent in other areas of the business. Unlocking Speed and Reliability to Drive Customer Experience. Businesses should consider leveraging a partner’s delivery network, which can serve as a sole provider or work in conjunction with in-house capabilities when extra capacity is needed. Find a partner whose operating model enables it to react in response to expansion on demand. Delivery speed can vary from vendor to vendor, but companies with a large footprint may offer flexible options such as 30-minute delivery, slotted/scheduled delivery, same-day delivery, and more. This means shorter wait times and that businesses will get their product to customers faster than expected. Owning and Strengthening the Customer Relationship. Some delivery providers can facilitate delivery for customers and clients of all sizes. Using a white-label delivery service, grocers can continue to own the relationship with the customer and manage customer service directly, which allows grocers greater control over their brand experience. Acing delivery by fulfilling orders quickly and accurately will strengthen customer stickiness. It’s clear that fast delivery to customers’ homes is taking a prominent role in the customer experience, and retailers are taking note. As local grocers continue to adapt to ever-changing conditions and compete to gain share of wallet, those that thrive will be fast to respond to their customers’ needs with flexible shopping and delivery services that suit newfound preferences in a post-COVID world.

Harsit Patel is VP and general manager of Walmart GoLocal at Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart Inc.




Health, Beauty and Wellness

No Longer Left Behind GROUNDBRE AKING NE W PRODUCTS IN KE Y CATEGORIES ARE STRIVING TO MEE T EMERGING CONSUMER NEEDS. By Barbara Sax nnovation is the fuel that drives HBW categories. New and improved products bring consumers down the aisle and through checkout with higher-priced products. Even with limited shelf space, smart retailers are finding ways to expand their selection in categories that are experiencing the most product transformation. For instance, feminine care, a once stagnant category, has seen tremendous innovation over the past few years as consumers migrate to more natural, organic and eco-friendly products. All-cotton items are gaining share, and the absence of dyes and chemicals is a driving force in the category. Helen Robinson, co-founder of Torrance, Calif.-based Organic Initiative, says that consumers are “more and more savvy about what they are putting in the most sensitive part of their body.” Organic Initiative’s 100% certified-organic cotton tampons, pads and panty liners have no toxic chemicals, chlorine bleach, fragrances or pesticides. Sensing opportunity in the natural segment, Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble snapped up L., a line of tampons, pads, liners and wipes made with organic cotton, in 2019. The brand is currently one of the fastest-growing brands in the category. Rael, another line of products made with 100% organic cotton and packaged in sustainable material, includes reusable organic cotton pads and underwear in its portfolio.

Period care and wellness brand Cora took cues from beauty care brands when it recently redesigned its products to make them more shoppable.


Key Takeaways Feminine care, a once stagnant category, has seen tremendous innovation over the past few years as consumers migrate to more natural, organic and eco-friendly products, including reusable items. Inventive new items are also driving the men’s grooming and oral care categories. Yet more innovation is on the horizon in the health, beauty and wellness space, such as a new hand care segment that addresses cleaning and nurturing.

Sustainable Period Products

Reusable products are becoming a more viable alternative as sustainability becomes a bigger concern for consumers. These products are likely to experience greater trial as consumers find workarounds during the tampon shortage that has been plaguing retailers. The New York-based Thinx brand recently launched an affordable collection of reusable period underwear, Thinx For All, now in 558 Walmart stores, and Cora, a leading period care and wellness company, says that its reusable products are growing 75%




Health, Beauty and Wellness year over year at retail, driving a quarter of the brand’s growth. Last year, San Francisco-based Cora introduced a reusable menstrual disc, which sold out three times at launch. The use of reusable menstrual cups is also growing through a number of technologically advanced launches with innovative designs and features. London-based market research firm Technavio Research forecasts growth for this segment to accelerate at a compound annual growth rate of 5%. Major players in the menstrual cup category are Anigan, Diva International and Earth Care Solutions. Leading brands are finding their own ways to address sustainability. Future Market Insights, a market research firm based in Valley Cottage, N.Y, reports that sales of non-applicator tampons are already gaining traction and are expected to see continued growth as manufacturers introduce products with a lighter eco-footprint. In an effort to reduce plastic waste while still appealing to consumers who prefer plastic tampon applicators, category heavyweight Playtex, based in North Bergen, N.J., recently introduced Clean Comfort, a tampon that combines a plastic tip with an eco-friendly cardboard plunger. The result is a tampon with 40% less plastic, made of 100% organic cotton, and free from chlorine, fragrances and dyes.

Expanding Personal Care

Brands are increasingly expanding across category segments to position themselves as total period care brands. Considering that a recent study from Chicago-based Mintel found that women are seeking products that address multiple aspects of menstruation, such as pain, odor and other issues, and 43% say that they have difficulty controlling menstruation symptoms, there’s plenty of opportunity to be mined.

The men's hair color category is growing, and new products are meeting the demands of consumers.


Playtex has reduced plastic in some of its tampons to increase sustainability.

Joan Driggs, VP of content and thought leadership at Chicago-based IRI (and onetime editorial director at Progressive Grocer), cites The Honey Pot Co., a plantbased, black-owned feminine care brand, as an example of an innovative niche line that’s had a huge impact on the category. The Atlanta-based brand’s portfolio includes natural washes, wipes, tampons, panty sprays, pads, lubricants and other herbal products. This past spring, Cora took its cue from beauty care brands when it launched a rebrand designed to make the category more shoppable. The brand introduced a number of new products, including a Restorative Vulva Balm moisturizer, a Stay Well Period Patch with chasteberry extract and black cohosh, and a Balancing Boric Acid Suppository to promote pH balance. Among larger brands, Summer’s Eve, part of Irvington, N.Y.-based Prestige Consumer Healthcare, launched a new spa collection of feminine care products, including Spa Luxurious Wash and Spa Intimate Skin Serum to hydrate, smooth and soften skin. Retailers can expect continued innovation in this once sleepy category. Sequel, a startup engineering better health-and-wellness experiences for women, starting with a leakage-preventing tampon, will introduce tampons with a spiral design that absorbs fluid more evenly and prevents leaks. Company co-founders Greta Meyer and Amanda Calabrese say that San Francisco-based Sequel is focused on “elevating the standards for products long left behind.”

Men’s Grooming Gets a Boost

Innovation is also driving the men’s grooming category. Cara Busch, CEO of New York-based 5WPR, believes that the category, transformed by the rise of male influencers on social media who are drawing attention to the importance of good grooming, has pivoted from “practical to aspirational.” Notes Busch, “It’s opened the doors to a whole new consumer base who now feel comfortable and confident looking for more than bar soap.” She adds: “Most of the innovation we are seeing is in the form of upgrades to core shaving, moisturizers and deodorant products. Cutting-edge ingredients in hassle-free formats and ‘clean’ options have proven successful for our brands.” In response to consumer feedback, Pacific Shaving Co. recently introduced a three-step fragrance-free skin care routine, Uppercut Deluxe is launching a range of targeted pre-styling products that address several hair care concerns, including oiliness and dandruff, and Monat recently introduced a Matte Styling Clay specifically designed to create thicker-looking, textured definition. “All of these launches are targeted and specific, speaking directly to the newly invested interest stemming from men consumers,” adds Busch. Further, brands once viewed as female-positioned are finding success with male consumers. Londonderry, N.H.-based SmoothSkin, the at-home hair removal brand, and self-tanning brand St. Moriz, based in the United Kingdom, are targeting men with new products, to name just two. The men’s hair color category, which saw dollar sales spike 10% over the 52-week period ending June 12, according to IRI data, continues to flourish as new products enter the market. This summer, Clichy, Francebased L’Oréal introduced L’Oréal Paris Men Expert OneTwist Hair Color, the brand’s first permanent hair color technology created specifically for men. The Colorsmith brand of men’s custom home hair color, based in El Segundo, Calif., recently expanded into hair care with three new products: Protect Shampoo, Protect Conditioner and Anti-Yellow Shampoo. IRI’s Driggs notes that the pandemic helped fuel sales of products like hair clippers, as men were forced to delay trips to the salon or barber and turned to athome tools. Many were happy with the results. “Sales of Wahl clippers were through the roof,” she observes. In fact, products that allow consumers to have what Driggs calls “a professional experience with a product they can use at home,” are stoking growth across the oral care category as well.

Pro Performance Drives Oral Care

Driggs notes that in the oral category, “Crest White Strips were a game changer for the category” that allowed consumers access to professional-quality whitening products at home. It’s been a boon to retailers. “Whitening products tend to be higher-priced, and

Cutting-edge ingredients, hassle-free formats and 'clean' options are driving the men's grooming segment.

people are willing to pay for it,” she says. Products continue to make at-home whitening easier and more convenient. Category leader Crest, a brand of Procter & Gamble, recently expanded its lineup of leave-on teeth-whitening treatments with Crest Whitening Emulsions + Overnight Freshness, taking innovation one step further with the added convenience of before-bed application. One of the most innovative companies in the category is Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Quip, whose Smart portfolio products link to an app that tracks consumers’ brushing routines and reminds them when to brush. The app also offers tips on how to improve effectiveness and keeps users motivated and engaged by allowing them to earn points for two-minute twice-daily brushing sessions. These points can be redeemed for products. Introduced in 2020, Quip has since added an eco-friendly Refillable Floss Pick and a Children’s Smartbrush. Additionally, the brand recently acquired Toothpic, a leading telehealth company offering also based in Brooklyn, in a move to create a “360-degree suite of personal and professional oral care products and services.” More typical line extensions also provide novelty in the oral care section. St. Louis-based SmartMouth has debuted a Mouth Sore Oral Rinse that prevents bad breath and soothes oral pain, while Davids Natural Toothpaste recently launched a Kids + Adults premium toothpaste to appeal to those who can’t tolerate the taste or strength of mint, which is associated with many adult toothpastes. “New flavors are important for the oral care category, because it creates newness that consumers crave and helps take some of the mundane out of brushing our teeth,” asserts Eric Buss, CEO of Temecula, Calif.-based Davids Natural. “Consumer feedback from our own customers told us that many adults cannot use mint-related products.” According to Driggs, more innovation is on the horizon in HBW. “Unilever has identified a new hand care segment that addresses cleaning and nurturing at the same time,” she says. The Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based company’s Dove brand will likely add products with these claims to the segment. As Driggs observes, “Since hand sanitizers and frequent washing can do a number on your hands, and people still do wash their hands a lot, there’s potential there.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022



Pet Trends

Worthy of Attention BO WORTHY’S NE W BIRDIE & LOUIE BR AND AIMS TO SHAKE UP PE T FOOD BY SOURCING INGREDIENTS CLOSER TO HOME. By Gina Acosta hen it comes to trends in the pet food aisle, new products looking to elevate the dining experience for consumers’ furry friends are popping up frequently. Plantbased, artisanal, holistic and fresh are just a few of the attributes that a new generation of pet parents are seeking as pet adoption and spending keeps rising, kick-started by the pandemic. According to the ASPCA, one in five American households has acquired a dog or cat since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. Millennials and Gen Z make up 53% of those numbers. As a result, spending on pets is on the rise, growing 19.3% to $123 billion last year, and it’s anticipated to grow 10% annually until 2026. And Gen Z and Millennial pet owners are likely to spend more on their pets. One of the top attributes that pet parents are looking for is quality sourcing. Pet owners want to know where the ingredients for a dog or cat food are sourced, the cultivation standards,


country of origin, etc. They also want to know that they can count on finding the product on the shelf when they need it, no matter how many deadly viruses or geopolitical conflicts may arise. Those are just a few of the reasons that Bo Worthy, who owns Eclectic, Ala.-based Worthy Promotional Products, is launching a new cat and dog food brand. “Over the past year, I began to notice there was a little less cat food on the shelf, and we started getting phone calls from grocers asking if we could do a pet food,” Worthy recounts. So Worthy got on a plane to South America. “We ended up in Monte, which is considered the tuna capital of the world,” he continues. “It’s on the coast of Ecuador, right at the equator. And it’s where the southern cool currents come up from Chile and Peru, and the northern warm currents come in from Mexico and the Northern Pacific. It’s just great fishing waters.” Worthy and his son quickly put a deal together to source tuna for a new pet food line called Birdie & Louie.

“Ecuador as a country is a great source of protein because of the issues going on right now in Ukraine,” Worthy says. “The war has caused uncertainty in the grain markets. A typical bag of dry pet food averages 25% to 30% grain, and if we get into a grain situation, we’re going to feed humans first. And so the grain market is going to really tighten up on the pet food industry.”

Portrait of an American Entrepreneur

Pivoting from manufacturing mostly general merchandise to pet food is just the Worthy way. “We know how to bring a product line to life in a hurry,” Worthy explains. “We don’t have committees.” Worthy is the quintessential American entrepreneur. He went to college at Auburn University and later worked for a company in packaging for eight years. When he was 29, he started his first company with his high school best friend and college roommate, and they owned that company for 14 years. “It was a plastics packaging company, did all kind of plastics packaging,” Worthy notes. “A lot of plastic bags, a lot of printing. [I] learned printing, flexographic printing, offset printing, all those kinds of things.” He later worked with major companies around the United States and sold his first company in 2006. He then started Worthy’s Inc. and began to build his own brands and personal care products, ranging from lip balm to sunscreens, hand lotions and hand sanitizer (which came in handy during the peak of the pandemic, but more on that later). It wasn’t until 2011 that Worthy got his big break, however. “We took a little bottle of sunscreen, around 1.5 ounces, to Auburn University to see if they would be willing to sell that in the stadiums for fall football,” he says. “And the guy at Auburn University said, ‘Can you print Auburn on it?’ And I said, ‘Sure.’” Fast forward to 2020, and Worthy had been selling little bottles of sunscreen and hand sanitizer to stadiums, fan shops — even Walmart. Then, when the pandemic broke, grocers came calling for sanitizer. “So now we’re dealing with Albertsons, Kroger, CVS, Ahold [Delhaize], everybody, lots of different, large key players, and they’re asking for truckloads, and it elevated us to a [higher] level,” he observes.

Birdie & Louie is about more than quality sourcing and supply chain resiliency, however. It’s also about bringing to market a great pet food that discerning pet parents and their cats and dogs will truly love. Birdie & Louie launched SKUs of wet food on the cat side first, in July.

Supply Chain Savvy

According to Worthy, he was able to increase his volume and scale manufacturing not just in the United States, but also in Mexico. “Suddenly, logistical issues coming out of Asia for all kind of product lines were absolutely chaotic,” he says. “We were able to execute at a really high level with a lot of volume in those first three months. And one of the things I learned during the pandemic is that the consumer does not go to grocery first. They do not go to brick and mortar first. The consumer, when faced with immediate choices, ran to Amazon and bought online that night. Now, they may have bought online as well from some of the other people, some of the grocers and stuff, but it really gave us a first — it gave us a very, very early view into what consumers were thinking.”

Worthy then began to leverage up in other categories such as tissue and towels. Then business went from tissue and towels to sanitizing wipes and all kinds of categories, including other household essentials such as napkins, paper plates, cups and plastic forks. “Because we had executed on sanitizer, because we had developed a beachhead in Mexico, and we’re a North American sourcing company, grocers began to bring all kind of projects to us,” he explains. “They couldn’t get product out of Asia anymore.” Worthy notes that all grocers should be more worried PROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022



Pet Trends “One of the things I learned during the pandemic is that the consumer does not go to grocery first. They do not go to brick and mortar first. The consumer, when faced with immediate choices, ran to Amazon and bought online that night. Now, they may have bought online as well from some of the other people, some of the grocers and stuff, but it really gave us a very, very early view into what consumers were thinking.” —Bo Worthy, Owner, Worthy Promotional Products

about the resiliency of Asian supply chains. “I don’t know what’s going to happen between China and Taiwan, but at some point, somebody’s going to shoot a missile at somebody,” he speculates, “and the very next day, a lot of commerce is going to cease between China and the U.S.” The No. 1 exporter in the world of wet cat food is Thailand, according to Worthy. “Ecuador is No. 2 in the world on human tuna, but they’re not even in the top 15 on pet,” he adds, “and so Ecuador realizes they’ve got a great opportunity now to step in and grab a large share of the pet market if they can react.” So far, his new brand is focused on bringing wet cat food to market first. “If the grain market does tighten up, that market could really [go] sideways,” he observes. “The wet side’s a little bit different. The issues that are causing it to have trouble are deeper

and going to be longer-lasting. Everything that we’ve looked at with the wet pet food side, especially cat, but now moving into dog as well, [indicates this]. The wet pet food side is headed toward a 12-, 18- or 24-month elongation of these supply chain issues.”

Proud Pet Parent

Birdie & Louie is about more than quality sourcing and supply chain resiliency, however. It’s also about bringing to market a great pet food that discerning pet parents and their cats and dogs will truly love. “The wet cat food will be a complete and balanced formula,” Worthy asserts. “Tuna is the No. 1 protein that cats like. They love the taste of tuna, and it’s going to be fresh. And we can bring it to market at scale. We’re not talking about just a few little containers. We’re going to bring it at scale and ramp it up.” Further, if you’re wondering where the brand name comes from: Birdie is the name of Worthy’s golden retriever, and Louie is the name of his cat. “Louie is my fourth cat named Louie,” Worthy says. “For 30 years, every cat I have had I have named Louie, because my mom’s name is Danny Lou and my grandmother’s name is Louise.” The company put the two names together because “we actually want to do something unique with the brand in the sense that it will serve both as a dog and a cat brand simultaneously,” he adds. Birdie & Louie launched five SKUs of wet food on the cat side first, in July. On the dog side, the brand will also launch several products, including a chicken-and-turkey formulation in late summer/early fall.


Meat Supply Chain


ny American consumer can attest to the fact that meat prices have been rising steadily for nearly two years. While inflation is an obvious reason for this, other factors, including a higher demand for meat, rising fuel and labor costs, and even alleged price gouging, are also at play. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs jumped 14.3% from April 2021 to April 2022, representing the largest 12-month increase since 1979. Additionally, the Washington, D.C.-based American Farm Bureau Federation has found that ground beef prices are up 36% from one year ago, while skinless chicken breast prices have risen 33%. While the price issue is seemingly reaching a fever pitch, food and agricultural economist Dr. Jayson Lusk, a distinguished professor at West Lafayette, Ind.based Purdue University, has seen the wheels behind this issue turning for several years. “In some ways, it’s not exactly new, because many of these concerns have existed for a long period of time,” Lusk says. The business concentration ratio in the beef and pork industry, for example, is confined to the four largest packers and has remained static for nearly 25 years. While studies have found that this concentration ratio hasn’t led to negative margins for any sector of the beef industry, Lusk explains that this has been a lingering concern for many years. He also believes the issue can be at least partly traced back to a rise in meat and livestock prices that occurred in 2014 and 2015. While the industry is cyclical by nature and there were good economic reasons for those price increases, there was a significant reduction in prices from 2016 to 2018 that left many questioning the fluctuations. According to Lusk: “Some of the concerns even today are because of that recent history where they saw these periods of high prices, and the prices fell, but they’re looking back, saying, ‘What happened? Why did that happen? Is it market power, or is it other issues?’”

The Proposed Legislative Framework

In an effort to directly address today’s rising prices and possible market issues, legislators have proposed bills that they believe would help regulate meat markets through expanded federal government oversight. One such piece of legislation is the bipartisan Meat Packing Special Investigator Act, sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., as part of H.R. 7606, the Lower Food and Fuel Cost Act, and recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Agriculture Committee. According to the committee, the legislation will address anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries


Key Takeaways To directly address rising prices and possible market issues, legislators have proposed bills that they believe would help regulate meat markets through expanded federal government oversight. The pros and cons of such legislation are being weighed by stakeholders throughout the meat supply chain. Several major trade organizations have already come out against the proposed bills, however, arguing that they would stifle innovation, limit marketing opportunities and waste taxpayer dollars to create a duplicative enforcement office.

that legislators claim hurt consumers and producers. “Anticompetitive behavior by the large meatpackers has raised prices on consumers and pushed family ranchers out of business, so this is a critical step toward making sure capitalism works like it’s supposed to work,” said Tester at the time that the bill was introduced. The North American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and National Pork Producers Council oppose the bill, however. “We are disappointed the House voted to waste $9 million in taxpayer dollars on a redundant special investigator when that money would be much better spent helping Americans seeking assistance from record inflation,” says Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Meat Institute. “This bill simply replicates the authorities already granted to USDA and the Department of Justice to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act and creates

an expensive new government office.” Another bill, the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, would aim to establish minimums for negotiated sales and require clear reporting of marketing contracts. According to Tester, who is also a sponsor of this legislation, “Increasing price discovery will give producers more control and better information when they sell their livestock, and is a key step in making markets more competitive.” Several trade associations also stand in opposition to this bill. “The U.S. cattle industry is home to one of the most complex set of markets in the world,” explains Ethan Lane, VP of government affairs at Centennial, Colo.-based NCBA. “Rather than embrace the freedom of that marketing system, Congress is instituting a onePROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022



Meat Supply Chain

The Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act is opposed by many trade groups, including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which calls the legislation "heavy-handed."

size-fits-all policy that will hurt cattle producers’ livelihoods.” Continued Lane: “Cattle markets are finally returning to normal after pandemic-fueled uncertainty, but these heavy-handed mandates will stifle innovation and limit marketing opportunities. Cattlemen and -women deserve the freedom to market their cattle in whatever way they want.”

Possible Effects Throughout the Supply Chain While these bills are still making their way through Congress and any possible effects wouldn’t be felt for quite some time, the pros and cons are clearly being weighed by stakeholders throughout the meat supply chain. “These are really dynamic markets that are influenced by cycles,” Lusk says. “You breed a cow today, and it’s approximately three years until it’s going to lead to a burger. I think a challenge I see in

“These are really dynamic markets that are influenced by cycles. You breed a cow today, and it’s approximately three years until it’s going to lead to a burger. I think a challenge I see in this sector is being able to associate cause and effect.” —Jayson Lusk, Purdue University


this sector is being able to associate cause and effect.” As Lusk explains it, the contract library that would be created as part of the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act would both facilitate better price discovery and add a layer of transparency for producers to see what others are doing, so as to make better deals for themselves. On the other hand, losing the ability to coordinate through contracts or other mechanisms could cause inefficiencies throughout the sector. “At the end of the day, my concerns are that it would lead to some inefficiencies in the market which would increase cost, and you might see a degradation of the ability to define certain qualities of production,” Lusk says. Meat Institute CEO Potts sees further issues with a special investigator’s obligation to bring as many cases as possible to court, testing the limits of the new rules and eventually affecting retailers and consumers. “The resulting legal uncertainty and market chaos will accelerate unpredictable changes in livestock and poultry marketing that will add costs to both producers and consumers at a time of high inflation,” she says. “Congress should not create a duplicative enforcement office, particularly when Congress doesn’t know what those new rules will be.”

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Coca-Cola is supporting a circular economy for plastic packaging by rolling out 100% recycled PET plastic bottles and transitioning green bottles to clear plastic to increase their likelihood of being remade into new beverage bottles.

Key Takeaways

Turning Toward Guilt-Free Plastic Packaging AMID STRINGENT REGUL ATIONS, NE W SOLUTIONS ARE EMERGING THAT FOCUS ON INNOVATIVE MATERIALS AND REUSE AND RECYCLING INITIATIVES. By Marian Zboraj ustainability continues to be one of the highest priorities in the food packaging market. According to a new Freedonia Group consumer insights analysis, this is driven in part by consumer awareness of the amount of waste generated by household food consumption, with plastic packaging a major offender. Since plastic pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats of our times, it’s important that companies take the steps they can to reduce the amount of single-use plastic packaging used in their businesses.


In the wake of California’s stringent new law on plastics, and as the rest of the country braces for similar legislation, suppliers are working to create more planet-friendly packaging. The CPG industry, formerly considered among the biggest offenders of plastic waste, is now stepping up its commitment to eco-conscious packaging. Beyond choosing brands that truly listen to and meet consumer demand for sustainable options, some retailers are also taking an active role in promoting a circular economy.

Toughest Reduction Laws in the Nation

On June 30, California took nation-leading steps to cut plastic pollution and hold the plastics industry accountable for its waste. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 54, requiring all packaging in the state to be recyclable or compostable by 2032, cutting

plastic packaging by 25% in 10 years and requiring 65% of all single-use plastic packaging to be recycled in the same timeframe. SB 54 is the most significant overhaul of California’s plastics and packaging recycling policy in history, and goes further than any other state in cutting plastics production at the source. The signed legislation requires all plastic packaging in California to be recycled at the following levels: At least 30% on and after Jan. 1, 2028 At least 40% on and after Jan. 1, 2030 At least 65% on and after Jan. 1, 2032 Additionally, the legislation shifts the plastic pollution burden from consumers to the plastics industry by raising $5 billion from industry members over 10 years to assist efforts to cut plastic pollution and support disadvantaged communities hurt the most by the damaging effects of plastic waste. Said Newsom at the time that he signed the legislation into law: “Our kids deserve a future free of plastic waste and all its dangerous impacts, everything from clogging our oceans to killing animals — contaminating the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. No more. California won’t tolerate plastic waste that’s filling our waterways and making it harder to breathe. We’re holding polluters responsible and cutting plastics at the source.” “California’s law is the largest embrace of extended producer responsibility yet,” notes Creighton “Chip” Magid, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney. “It will be interesting to see whether this affects [Democratic Oregon] Sen. [Jeff] Merkley’s proposed legislation in Congress, which creates a federal EPR [Extended Producer Responsibility] program and would similarly take aim at extended polystyrene prepared food containers. “Because California is such a large market, the effects of this act likely will extend well beyond the state’s borders,” adds Magid. “It would be challenging to have California-only packaging and different packaging for the rest of the country.”

Technological Advancements

As the rest of the country braces for similar legislation, several suppliers are working to create more planet-friendly packaging options. Not only is Inline Plastics making sure that its plastic food containers are recyclable, the manufacturer is also ensuring that its packaging is tamper-proof while maintaining the temperature of warm and hot prepared foods alike. Safe-T-Chef is the first polypropylene container with the company’s patented tear-strip technology. Polypropylene is safe for both microwave and dishwasher use. Consumers can additionally serve and eat foods directly from the container, without the need to transfer them to a plate. The clear packaging is also preferred by the recycling industry for its ease of sorting and processing. “Our commitment to innovative products that align with our sustainability initiatives carried over into the development of this new line,” says Tom Orkisz, chairman and CEO of Shelton, Conn.based Inline Plastics. Inline’s portfolio consists of 12 options ranging in shape (rectangular, square and round) and capacity (from 12- to 35-ounce

sizes). This combination offers a packaging solution for anything from individual- or family-size side dishes to entrées or even multicourse meals. Meanwhile, Cruz Foam Inc., a circular materials startup company, recently revealed several significant developments in the company’s transition to commercialization, including the opening of a production facility and the addition of new investors: actor Leonardo DiCaprio plus fellow celeb Ashton Kutcher and talent manager Guy Oseary’s climate-focused investment group SoundWaves. DiCaprio and Kutcher have also signed on as advisors. According to the company, Cruz Foam is an earth-friendly foam material used in protective packaging that matches the strength, flexibility and protective qualities of petroleum-based foams — commonly known as Styrofoam — but breaks down in soil and actually serves as a fertilizer by promoting healthy soil growth. Cruz Foam’s patented formula harnesses the power of naturally sourced biopolymers to be compostable. The company was selected from hundreds of candidates as a finalist in Rabobank’s Foodbytes 2021 program supporting startup companies innovating in food industry technology. “We are excited to enter a new phase of growth with our new facility enabling the scaled production of Cruz Foam products, which are currently being utilized in a series of pilot programs,” says John Felts, CEO and co-founder of Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Cruz Foam. “The mission to eliminate single-use plastics in the ongoing battle for a cleaner and more sustainable environment makes me excited to join as an investor and advisor, and I look forward to what we’ll achieve together,” notes DiCaprio. “We see huge potential in the adoption of Cruz Foam’s consumer packaging as the industry moves away from petroleum-based products and towards new biomaterial technologies,” adds Kutcher.

Inline Plastics’ Safe-T-Chef polypropylene containers feature the company’s patented tear-strip technology while also maintaining the temperature of warm and hot prepared foods alike. PROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022




“Giant is

Traditionally considered a leader in pharma packaging, CPGs Up Their committed to another materials science company, TekniPlex, recently taking sustainable Eco-Commitment reorganized to launch a distinct consumer products diviThe CPG industry, formerly considered actions that sion that includes food and beverage solutions. among the biggest offenders of plastic reduce plastic Thanks to strategic acquisitions, the Wayne, Pa.waste, is now stepping up its commitment waste from our based company has significantly increased its ability to to eco-conscious packaging. provide sustainable packaging solutions geared toward In July, PepsiCo Inc. revealed the closlandfills and the perimeter section of food retail. In May, TekniPlex ining of a new $1.25 billion 10-year green improve our troduced 100% PET Processor Trays that offer premium bond. The Purchase, N.Y.-based compaenvironment. product display while addressing common packaging ny will use an amount equivalent to the We are excited challenges prevalent in the poultry industry, particularly net proceeds from the offering to fund to partner higher-end products such as those labeled organic, eligible green projects that will focus with Loop, a non-GMO or sustainably sourced. on its pep+ (PepsiCo Positive) agenda TekniPlex Consumer Products is also expand— the company’s strategic, end-to-end global leader ing its product line to include foam polypropylene transformation that places sustainability in eliminating processor trays for various fresh food products — and human capital at the center of how it waste, to offer diversifying material offerings for this category. Foam will create growth and value. our customers polypropylene (recycling code 5) has many attractive Part of the funding will go toward cira program that benefits for the food industry, among them being cular-economy and virgin-plastic waste durable, lightweight and heat-resistant, and is FDA reduction. One of PepsiCo’s key pep+ allows them approved for direct food contact. goals is to strive to use 50% recycled to shop their A winner in this year’s Agricultural Plastics Innovafavorite products plastic content in its packaging by 2030. tion Challenge, Enerra Corp. offers technology that The company is already one of the largand help our addresses the need for new recycling processes. est users of food-grade rPET (recycled environment.” The San Bernardino, Calif.-based company operPET plastic) in the world, and the new ates a patented plastic reformation technology that green bond will enable PepsiCo to con—Diane Couchman, Giant Food converts difficult-to-recycle agricultural plastics into tinue its work to increase the use of more market-ready transportation fuels. This is accomsustainable product packaging, including plished without toxic catalysts or harmful emissions. recycled, compostable and reusable materials. In “Enerra Corp. is tackling a current challenge by finding a addition, PepsiCo’s new green bond framework creative outlet for the recycling of agricultural plastics that would enables the company to direct funding to projects otherwise be destined for landfills,” notes Thomas Taggart, VP that strengthen recycling infrastructure and increase of operations at Watsonville-based California Giant Berry Farms. recycling rates in key markets. “They are providing an attractive alternative to costly fossil fuels.” Meanwhile, PepsiCo competitor The Coca-Cola Co. Enerra is currently moving into a field production pilot with revealed in July that two of its biggest brands in North strawberry producer Driscoll’s, also based in Watsonville, America are taking major steps to support a circular Calif., and will continue to explore pilot opportunities with other economy for plastic packaging. Dasani is rolling out industry partners. bottles made from 100% rPET plastic — excluding caps and labels — and Sprite is transitioning from green to Actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher have both signed clear plastic to increase the material’s likelihood of being on as advisors for startup Cruz Foam, which creates compostable remade into new beverage bottles. packaging that replaces Styrofoam to eliminate single-use plastics. The changes help Atlanta-based Coca-Cola get closer to its pledge to remove the equivalent of 2 billion virgin-plastic bottles from production by 2027, compared with 2021 levels. Last fall, the company rolled out its first beverage bottle made from 100% plant-based plastic. Anton Van Zyl, Coca-Cola’s director of sustainability for North America, tells Progressive Grocer that the company is focused on improving the circular economy through these kinds of changes, as well as through its on-package messaging that encourages consumers to recycle. End users are integral to the ultimate success of the circular economy, according to Van Zyl. “Specifically in the U.S., our best opportunity to make progress with refill/reuse is in our dispensed beverages, where we have seen success with consumers adopting the reuse behavior,” he says. “As we continue


to grow this area, we are learning more about how consumers react to reusable packaging, and we are looking for opportunities to transition these learnings to other reusable formats like returnable and refillable bottles.”

Retailers’ Efforts Toward Sustainable Packaging

In addition to choosing brands that truly listen to and meet consumer demand for sustainable options, some retailers are also taking an active role in promoting a circular economy. Beginning this fall, Giant Food customers in the Washington, D.C., metro area will be able to purchase everyday food and household products in durable, reusable containers, thanks to a partnership with Loop, the circular reuse platform developed by Trenton, N.J.-based TerraCycle. “Giant is committed to taking sustainable actions that reduce plastic waste from our landfills and improve our environment,” said Diane Couchman, VP category management, non-perishables at Landover, Md.-based Giant Food, a brand of Ahold Delhaize USA, when the partnership launched in July. “We are excited to partner with Loop, a global leader in eliminating waste, to offer our customers a program that allows them to shop their favorite products and help our environment.” Loop is the first-ever platform to partner with brands and retailers to offer consumers a way to go from single use to reuse with their purchases. Through the platform, customers can purchase their Loop-ready products in refillable, reusable containers found in branded displays in participating Giant stores. After consumers finish the products, they return the empty containers to a Loop Return Point at Giant. From there, the containers are sent to Loop to be sanitized, and then are returned to brands to be refilled and returned to the store for future purchase. On the recycling front, Sam’s Club is collaborating with Texan by Nature (TxN) and Texans for Clean Water (TFCW) to launch a six-month pilot project to recycle PET thermoform plastics in El Paso. This project is a fundamental step in TxN and TFCW’s goal of reducing litter in waterways and roadways through community-driven recycling. The project will provide El Pasoans with cash incentives for PET thermoforms recycled at all four Sam’s Club locations in the city. PET thermoforms include clear fruit and produce containers, trays, tubs, cups, lids, and plastic egg cartons. Data and outcomes from the project will be shared with other retailers as a model for replication and an example of supply chain circularity. “We’re excited to play a role in making recycling more accessible for the El Paso community,” says Christopher Poulin, VP, regional general manager of operations at Bentonville, Ark.-based Sam’s Club. “This pilot aligns with our goals to become a regenerative company, and we’ll be exploring ways to use the recycled materials collected to make packaging for some of the products we sell.” In North America alone, 1.6 billion pounds of PET thermoforms are discarded every year, with only about 10% being recovered. For this pilot project, consumers will use the MeCycle App to drop off their PET thermoforms and receive cash incentives that they can claim through Venmo or donate to a local El Paso charity. Vernon, Calif.-based Green Impact Plastics will recycle the thermoforms, and then the recycled materials will be used in new packaging by manufacturer D6, based in Portland, Ore. To

Loblaw Cos.’ Shoppers Drug Mart recently introduced a new Quo Beauty collection that includes color cosmetics made with innovative packaging designed to reduce plastic waste.

help improve the circularity of its supply chain, Sam’s Club will also explore opportunities to use the recycled packaging for some of its own products. “This pilot is focusing on PET thermoforms, but it could be translated to other materials,” says Maia Corbitt, president of Houston-based TFCW. Meanwhile, Shoppers Drug Mart Inc., an independent operating division of Brampton, Ontario-based Loblaw Cos. Ltd., is improving its plastic packaging with the launch of a new Quo Beauty collection called Big Planet, Big Love in July. Featuring close to 30 vegan and cruelty-free beauty products and accessories, the sustainable collection includes an assortment of color cosmetics that were developed in collaboration with Los Angeles-based global marketplace Oceanworks using renewable materials and reclaimed ocean-bound plastic. “We are committed to finding innovative product and packaging solutions to support our sustainability goals,” says Kelly Jessop, VP, category management at Shoppers Drug Mart. “For example, we’re making it easier for Canadians to create more sustainable beauty routines with our Quo Beauty brand. Working with Oceanworks on select cosmetic products means that consumers can take an active role in reducing ocean plastic pollution with their beauty purchasing decisions.” Packaging innovations include the use of Oceanworks reclaimed ocean-bound plastic in eye and face palettes (100%), facial mist bottles (76%), and lip/cheek products (37%-45%). Among the product innovations are reusable accessories such as swabs and cleansing pads, and the use of bio-sourced materials from renewable vegetal sources in the brand’s plant-based nail color range. Loblaw is committed to ensuring that all control brand and in-store plastic packaging will be fully reusable or recyclable by 2025. PROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022



Front End


PG: What’s your take on the state of grocery retail in 2022? s president and general manager for retail at Atlanta-based NCR, David Wilkinson is responsible for evangelizing the company’s next-gen NCR Commerce Platform. Wilkinson recently talked to Progressive Grocer about what he’s hearing from grocers, how NCR has evolved in the omnichannel age, and the opportunities in grocery e-commerce.

Progressive Grocer: David, how did you come to your current role at NCR? David Wilkinson: I’d been doing behind-the-scenes technology a little bit on the telecom side, and then on the data networking and infrastructure side, and then services. Then I moved over to NCR. At the time, 11 years ago, that was when we were acquiring Radiant and Retalix and really creating the company that we are today. So we’ve had a lot of different formations. Then our current leadership team came aboard. Mike Hayford came on as CEO, and we created the way we’re structured today: on our customer. Before, we were functionally aligned, and we kind of lost sight, honestly, of who we were serving. To address that, we had a business unit realignment. PG: How are you structured now? DW: We have retail, restaurants and banks — three businesses. Then we have a horizontal, a business unit called Payments in Network; that’s where we put the Cardtronics acquisition, where we put the payments and networking team. So there are four of me, four presidents of our core businesses. We have a bunch of shared functions. We share a service delivery team for field services, for example. But the businesses, the product management, the software development, the front-line customer support, who picks up the phone, all that lives within the business units. PG: How has that evolution worked out? DW: If you look back at just the retail business, in 2018 our Net Promoter Score [NPS] for retail was -23. PG: Wow. DW: In a negative NPS world, the unfortunate reality is that you have customers that feel trapped. But NCR is such a big company, such a mainstay in retail, that our customers didn’t leave us. But they were frustrated. So what we’ve done with this new alignment across all of our businesses is improve that NPS. Today, the


NPS for retail is over 40+. So that’s really where we spent a ton of time, just getting more customer-intimate, getting focused on outcomes, and really becoming that more trusted partner and not making our clients feel trapped. Some of that’s through technology, and some of that’s just through hard work and doing the right thing every day.

DW: I think all of our grocery retailers around the world continue to have high volumes. Now, they’ll go through the peaks and valleys of what they’re doing, and they’re in an unprecedented inflationary environment. As I’m on the phone with grocery CEOs, the conversation is, “Look, we’re trying everything we can to not pass on all the inflation onto our customers,” but they can’t help but to do that in a lot of cases, with the pressures they’re facing. PG: It’s the costlier fuel, it’s the costlier wages, it’s so many things. DW: They say: “I can’t staff my stores. I got to pay everybody a little bit more. If I pay people more, that cuts into margins.” So they have a labor crisis and an inflationary crisis along with a period of super-high volumes, and they had to stay up and running during the peak of the pandemic, and react very quickly to everything that was going on. All that to say, grocery is still very strong, and it’s just a different state of challenges. For us as a technology provider, we’re providing all the tech and services to really run the store. We perform a critical function, where we can help offload some of those worries. I mean, our whole end state is, “Let us worry about the technology, and you worry about all the other things you got to worry about.” PG: And their biggest challenge right now is? DW: Their big challenge is, how do we continue to meet consumer demand in a world where we’re getting squeezed on cost, on inflation? And then, honestly, what they’re facing online, whether it’s a pure-play online retailer, or predatory tactics of aggregators and other people that are trying to disintermediate the brick-

and-mortar retail. There’s a battleground happening, and they’re having to launch all these new capabilities to just keep up with shopper expectations. But I think they’re well positioned. They have a unique value in terms of the brick-and-mortar experience. Being able to offer an online-like buying experience in a physical store will be critical to how they differentiate. PG: How much of these inflationary pressures do you see continuing? DW: A lot of the supply chain, the manufacturing side of things, has kind of leveled a little bit, assuming you’re not sourcing stuff from China. COVID spikes up in China every now and then, and the Ukraine conflict creates other supply issues. But it’s the distribution side that is more upstream that I think we’re going to still continue to see pressure on. Then, I think, there’s still such high demand on a lot of these things that I think we’re going to continue to see that pressure. Inflation is at a 40-year all-time high. I think we’re going to see — I don’t know if I’ll use the full “R” word, recession — but there’s something that’s got to give here. I think the labor markets are going to start to figure themselves out. I think the fuel markets will take a little bit longer to stabilize in terms of the way I think “The grocery store has about it. But I don’t think it’s always had checkout in going to let up this year. PG: How you see the physical store evolving, and specifically the front end?

the front. What else in history has never changed over 100-and-something years? We build stores; we put checkouts in the front. That’s the way we do it, well, because we felt like we had to have this physical barrier. I think technology will help break us free of that a little bit.”

DW: I think we’ll kind of land somewhere in the middle of, does the front end of the store change? Absolutely. I’ll put it on continuums because my mind thinks that way. If today, the continuum —David Wilkinson, President of Retail, NCR is every checkout is in the front of a store and it has a person standing at it, I think the continuum will shift towards more and more consumer-driven checkout and less fixed-position checkout. Is it computer vision, Just Walk Out technology? Probably not right away. Is it more of a pervasive checkout, where I’ve got mobile applications where I can scan my own items? Where I make an order ahead of coming into the store, I come in and pick out fresh produce, meats and flowers? The grocery store has always had checkout in the front. What else in history has never changed over 100-and-something years? We build stores; we put checkouts in the front. That’s the way we do it, well, because we felt like we had to have this physical barrier. I think technology will help break us free of that a little bit. PG: Speaking specifically about checkout innovation, what kinds of technologies do you think retailers should be thinking about training their people on now or in the next couple of years?

DW: Mobile checkout has not attracted massive adoption like we thought it would. But if you look at — taking a page out of the restaurant book — a client of ours, Chick-fil-A, the way they’ve done drivethrough mobile, I mean, there’s no reason why you can’t do something like that in grocery. I think mobile is important. I think computer vision is another big thing. And computer vision, you don’t have to necessarily train them on the technology itself, but you have to train them how to interact. So there’s a business process to enable a flexible front end. A lot of that comes with creating that experience. PG: Have you been in an Amazon Fresh store? DW: I have, in London, and a Morrisons and a Sainsbury’s nearby — all of them have their kind of experimental cashier-less checkout. But there’s no shoppers in them. PG: Seriously? DW: I’m not sure how viable they are in their current form. At NCR, we’re trying to achieve balance and inclusiveness in the checkout experience. Just putting a barrier to make checkout life easier is not the way most


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

PG: What’s sparking the accelerated growth of self-service in retail? CVS: The pandemic has accelerated several changes that were already happening in people’s consumption habits and shopping behaviors. Shoppers increasingly demand frictionless, flawless, self-service-oriented experiences. They expect services to be available quickly and on-demand, and to support their “always on the go” lifestyle. Meanwhile, retail competition is getting fiercer. To enrich the overall shopping experience and guarantee customer loyalty, retailers must quickly adopt and adapt solutions to meet shoppers’ expectations. Self-service technology plays a crucial role here. PG: What changes are becoming more and more evident regarding self-service technology, and what can retailers do to prepare their stores for now and the future? CVS: Self-service implementation will never be a “one and done” process. Staff and consumer journeys are increasingly intertwined and must be understood, studied, and evaluated. Only then can you design a solution that supports those consumer journeys, with technology as a catalyst and enabler. With the right self-service solution, retailers can integrate new technologies and touch points from different vendors into their existing bricks-and-mortar stores to support that while preserving their existing IT investments. PG: What technologies can enhance supermarkets’ self-service offerings? CVS: Retailers must start by focusing on the preferred

journeys of their target audience and the “frictions” they face while shopping. They can then select the appropriate next-generation features to incorporate into their current point-of-sale arsenal. For instance, 25% of self-checkout interruptions are caused by age-restricted items. In general, it takes staff two to three minutes to resolve an interruption. A store that has a history of a high number of transactions that involve alcoholic beverages could strongly benefit from adopting a fully automated age verification process. By installing a camera combined with artificial intelligence (AI) for pattern recognition, a shopper’s age can be automatically determined—and with high accuracy. According to a ResearchGate study, such technologies can reduce the number of interventions by 80% to 90%.

PG: What self-service technologies and services does Diebold Nixdorf offer to retailers? CVS: The DN Series™ EASY is a complete, first-of-a-kind portfolio of highly modular retail self-service solutions built on a single platform. Designed to be software- and hardware-agnostic, it offers open APIs to fit retailers’ ecosystems and assures up to 99.8% device availability. Thanks to its customizable configurations, best-in-class components, and optimized footprint, our customers can choose from multiple options for card/cash modules, screen sizes, and peripherals, with on-site scalability, seamless adaptability, and upgradeability—letting them control their innovation roadmap. Undeniably, the retail environment is becoming more complex than ever before. A partnership with Diebold Nixdorf can offer retailers a way forward by providing hardware and software solutions. We can also partner with retailers to enable and manage the entire multivendor IT ecosystem, end to end, for ultimate device availability at the lowest TCO.

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Front End PG: Talk about NCR’s digital commerce and engagement strategy, and why it’s valuable to grocers.

According to NCR's David Wilkinson, offering an online-like buying experience in a brick-and-mortar store will be key to how food retailers differentiate themselves from competitors.

consumers want to interact. I mean, it’s like if I want to pay with cash, I want to pay with cash. If I want to pay with a card, I want to pay with a card. If I want to use this line, if I want to get help, I should be able to. We’re trying to give the broadest reach possible to our customers. To make this happen, we’re experimenting and partnering with a lot of different companies. I just don’t know that [cashier-less checkout] is going to look like it looks today, in my opinion. But I think there’s just still a lot of friction in that experience. PG: Can you talk about the trends that you’re seeing in grocery e-commerce? DW: The grocery e-comm business is about $100 billion and continuing to grow, to get to maybe 10% of sales. Do I ever think it’s going to be 50%? Maybe not — it’s hard to predict. But even if it’s 10%, it is very likely not 100% of the way all shoppers shop. So it’s this blended experience that you have to think about with e-comm. The interesting side of our e-commerce is we find a lot more is being done to be picked up at the store than delivery. If we look at our Freshop, if we look at the data that sits on our platform, as we look at all the transactions that flow through, more orders are being picked up. The basket sizes for the online ordering, or the mobile ordering, are higher — two to three times higher — than the store shop. The margins per basket are higher because of the types of items people are buying. It’s a really good thing for retailers. In the grand scheme of things, I think delivery is a distraction. I mean, grocery can’t make money at delivery. It’s going to be one of those things that will have to figure itself out. I don’t think a grocery chain wants to figure out how to be their own delivery agent. They’ll have to charge for it. We bought Freshop because we think grocers need to control their brand experience online.


DW: We are taking a platform approach, more of an ecosystem-driven approach. In the world today, you have this monolithic software stack that runs the point of sale, and everything you do has to go through the point of sale, integrate to the point. Our platform strips that apart. Our digital experience will be one of unifying the data, unifying the transactions, unifying the capabilities to live in a multimodal world, whether I start the transaction outside of the store and want to finish it in the store, or at the gas pump and finish it in the store on my mobile, or whatever. We are taking that platform approach. PG: How does Freshop fit into the overall retail vision and strategy at NCR? DW: We bought Freshop because we did a lot of research, and it’s quite honestly the best application. It has the consumer-facing mobile capabilities. We can use that same app to do in-store scanning. Our in-store mobile-scanning application has the ability to do cross-sell and upsell. It has the ability to do ad injection. It has picking and planogram integration. It offers two-way communication between consumers. And it was built by people with decades of experience in the grocery industry. I mean, it was effectively purpose-built for grocery. PG: What other trends do you see sticking in grocery? DW: I believe the center of the store will continue to be challenged by pure-play online. Grocers will have to differentiate by creating sensory experiences in-store — smell, taste and touch — things that you just can’t do online. So I think grocery has to take on maybe a little bolder mission and think about how do you create those experiences, and what are your true differentiators around the outside edges of the store? And then create a way to compete and win. I think there’s a way to do it with the mixed trip of buying online, or creating more subscriptions, or doing things like recipes, always with the grocery store as the center of the community.

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Winning With Self-Checkout

Self-checkout can ease the most memorable pain point in shopping: waiting in line to pay at an employee-staffed station.


he idea of the customer taking the checkout with them on the shopping trip isn’t new, but technology has made implementation of the idea more likely. Unlike a hand or mounted scanner, Cust2Mate rides on a shopping cart, providing everything a customer needs to complete a shopping trip, including a scale, and it works with apps and other software to give retailers using it access to data and the ability to provide promotions and other messaging as the customer shops. It also accepts a variety of payment methods. According to Rafi Yam, CEO of Tel Aviv-based Cust2Mate, the company developed the shopping and self-checkout system with the retail environ-


Key Takeaways The in-store experience can, and often does, create friction at the worst possible moment in the shopping process — when customers want to pay for their items. Solutions such as those offered by Cust2Mate, MishiPay and GK Software offer retailers the opportunity to streamline the selfcheckout process for shoppers. While it no longer manufactures self-checkout hardware, IBM offers its hybrid cloud as a resource to integrate selfcheckout and help it work better across its specific functions.

ment as it exists today in mind. The Cust2Mate management team has deep retail service experience — 500 years’ worth, Yam notes. The majority of members have spent time working for Atlanta-based NCR. In applying that experience and working with retailers, Cust2Mate has developed a self-checkout solution focused on security, ease of use, customer communication and an engaging customer journey. “With all of that, you then add in the ease of doing everything on the cart, identifying produce, weighing it, completing your shopping; then just paying and walking out through the security gates,” observes Yam. Where traditional self-checkout systems often have their greatest appeal to customers who have only a few products to process, Cust2Mate focuses on shopping trips of 20-plus items conducted in large grocery stores where customers do family shopping. The device has been adopted by the Israeli supermarket chain Yochananof, which has 700 Cust2Mate mounted carts. In addition, Cust2Mate is currently being piloted at Evergreen, a food retailer in Pomona, N.Y., with further pilots coming to the United States very soon, according to Yam. Cust2Mate also has ongoing pilots in Mexico, with others planned for the Middle East, Asia and Europe. The solution enhances the customer shopping trip in multiple ways, notes Yam, with store navigation provided on the device screen, which provides consumers with an efficient shopping route through the store. “They can locate any item in-store with a touch of the screen, and coupons that are relevant to each shopper will be made available at the correct time,” he says. “The cart offers are displayed so that the shoppers can avail themselves of relevant and personalized value items with our computer vision system. Now there’s —Orit Bar-Ad, GK Software no need to identify fruits, vegetables or other produce. Just pop the item on the Cust2Mate scale, and it will identify it against our unparalleled AI database of food items and weigh it. Once shopping is complete, the consumer self-checks out using credit cards, digital payment platforms and even crypto. The shopper leaves the cart, and it is put on a charging chain until the next customer uses it.”

including an analytics dashboard that delivers visibility into store activity, including in real time. Additionally, MishiPay designed its system to enhance shopper satisfaction, notes Grenham. The reason for this? In the 21st century, the internet has changed expectations, especially those of younger people who’ve grown up with it. This has “led to a shift in what is deemed an enjoyable retail experience,” explains Grenham, who adds that the in-store experience can, and often does, create friction at the worst possible moment in the shopping process, “which is the point when I want to give the retailer my money.” MishiPay originally rolled out not in grocery, but in do-it-yourself, electronics and other retailers, where people rarely pick up 20, 30 or more items in a single shopping trip, and then moved into travel, convenience and food retail. According to Grenham, the company recognizes that “optionality” is part of its participation in grocery. Some shoppers won’t embrace the scan-and-go notion; part of their preferred way of shopping is to fill up a cart and interact with an employee at a traditional checkstand. Therefore, MishiPay is an option that consumers can access and may embrace when they give it a try. The solution is already in use at grocery stores, convenience stores and, in the United States, airports. Even if some consumers limit their use of MishiPay to shopping trips where they’re purchasing just a few items, something that’s true of established self-checkout technology as well, others do use MishiPay on full cartloads of items because they recognize how the technology can save them the time otherwise spent in the checkout line, Grenham points out.

“At the end of the day, regardless of what you do, you need to go back to the expectations of your brand, who the consumer is, what items they are buying and the situation at the moment they are shopping.”

Scan and Go

These days, it seems that just about every consumer technology winds up residing on a smartphone, with examples ranging from home security to betting. Of course, scan-and-go tech has been tested, and to some extent expanded, by the likes of Sam’s Club and Walmart. MishiPay has its own take on the concept, however: You not only don’t need to download an app, but retailers can also integrate the solution into existing technology. All a retailer has to do is to hang up a QR code that consumers can use to scan products as they shop via their browsers. David Grenham, VP communications at London-based MishiPay, says that keeping it simple for the consumer and the retailer is the whole idea behind the offering. At the same time, though, MishiPay delivers a range of benefits,

Follow the LIDAR

The latest and greatest in regard to consumer self-service payment, as developed by GK Software, provides a flexible Just Walk Out-style technology that doesn’t require cameras, is shelf-sensor and LIDAR-operated, and gives consumers choices about how they want to shop and pay. Customers don’t necessarily have to be preauthorized on an app to begin shopping, although they can be. On leaving the sales floor, they can pay via smartphone, using a variety of payment methods, or at an instore kiosk, which can take cash, if the retailer chooses to provide a unit compatible with the GK platform. The flexibility incorporated into the system makes it easier to fit retailers’ needs at various formats or locations. “At the end of the day, regardless of what you do, PROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022


SELF-SERVICE STRATEGIES YOU CAN ACTUALLY WIN WITH It can be hard to keep up with new retail trends and technologies as shopper expectations change rapidly across all retail segments, especially in grocery. That’s why retailers need to stay up to date on strategies that can help them stay ahead of the competition. New self-services experiences can help retailers win in their segment as data shows in increasing demand and adoption for self-service experiences.

SPEED UP CHECKOUT THROUGH AUTOMATION It is no surprise that labor shortages have become a front-runner for being one of retail’s biggest issues with data showing that 92% of brands consider that a critical issue right now. Not only are there fewer associates to assist shoppers, but also fewer workers to stock the shelves, assuming supply chain issues haven’t prevented goods from making it onto the delivery trucks. This a significant operational concern, so how can retailers continue to operate successfully with fewer people? The answer is through self-service experiences. Retailers across the industry are investing in automation across channels, including in-store and online fulfillment, warehousing, inventory management, stocking, and customer mobile shopping and checkout. Toshiba data shows that between 52-74% of brands rate various self-service technologies high on their priority lists. Utilizing just one or two of those channels may be an okay start, but ideally, you want your business strategy to include all channels.

SET A NEW SELF-SERVICE STANDARD Shoppers are becoming increasingly accustomed to the instant gratification self-service technology provides and retailers are seeing this trend, which is why reducing store queues and improving checkout speed are two of the top core business drivers among brands. Recent data shows that nearly 30% of all checkout is expected to be self-service by 2025. Now that it’s possible to shop in-person again, stores need to prepare for that and create blended & seamless experiences that bring together the best of both the physical and digital worlds. But what does that actually look like? • A store app that allows for easy item finding within the aisles • Mobile access to coupons for quick checkout • Grab-n-go frictionless stations (such as deli pickups) • Self-checkout stations with computer vision and A.I. for accurate produce recognition

MAKE DIGITAL WALLETS A PRIORITY The last trend is the ascension of the digital wallet. Shoppers value the convenience of a consolidated shopping experience, so accepting digital payments is a must if you want to remain competitive. Digital wallets position retailers and payment providers at the center of consumer purchasing data; from browsing to fulfillment and delivery, retailers can be there for the entire customer journey. With the increasing trends towards self-service, enabling digital wallets only improves the seamless experience shoppers have come to expect in the digital shopping age. Overall, retail is moving more towards digital solutions, and it’s vital that stores keep up with shopper expectations. By staying ahead of trends and using shopper insights to strengthen your business strategy, you can continue winning over your customers and beating the competition.

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Playing it Smart Instacart recently launched a new way to purchase concessions at Boston’s Fenway Park: The Caper Counter boasts an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered point-of-sale system. Developed in partnership with Philadelphia-based Aramark Sports + Entertainment, the checkout system provides fans with fast, contact-free food and beverage transactions through visual recognition and AI technology. Fenway offers a trio of Caper Counters at select areas around the stadium. The technology scans packaged food and Caper Counter customers just pop their beverage items such purchases on the counter, pay and go as AIas peanuts, soda, beer powered tech rings up their items. and candy, allowing the customer to complete a purchase in seconds while enhancing health and safety throughout the ballpark. Caper Counter uses computer vision and sensor fusion technology to visually detect and identify items based on shape, color, key features and size. Customers place items for purchase on the Caper Counter, where they are automatically detected and added to the cart for checkout. Customers choose a credit card, loaded ticket or team rewards as their method of payment and leave with their items, completing a seamless, autonomous transaction. Sports fans can also purchase items via a Caper Counter at Heinz Field, in Pittsburgh. Caper Counter is just one example of the in-store technologies offered as a part of Instacart Platform, a suite of enterprise-grade technologies to enhance and digitize retail experiences. Retailers with a smaller physical footprint and SKU count can mount their own Caper Counters, allowing customers to purchase a handful of items at a time. “By helping to speed up the checkout experience, fans can spend ... more time where they want to [be], in the stands, cheering on their team,” says Lindon Gao, VP of engineering at San Francisco-based Instacart. “On average, Caper Counter decreases transaction times by approximately 65%.” Instacart has also designed in-store technologies for larger retailers: Caper Carts. The smart carts auto-detect items instantly with AI-powered cameras, and Instacart Platform offers retailers access to the technologies behind Instacart’s consumer marketplace to power their own digital properties and retail operations. The technology that powers Caper Carts’ AI’s checkout counters is a computer vision solution capable of object detection, backed by a machine-learning system that uses a database of 20 million-plus items to match the items in a customer’s cart to a database listing. As such, Instacart maintains, its platform brings together technologies that retailers need to improve the consumer experience online or in-store and to digitize the end-to-end grocery operation.


you need to go back to the expectations of your brand, who the consumer is, what items they are buying and the situation at the moment they are shopping,” asserts Orit Bar-Ad, director of portfolio management at Schoneck, Germany-based GK. Because the design is integrated into the GK retail operating platform, retailers are free to use any hardware combinations they wish. That being the case, there’s no requirement to purchase new self-checkout hardware and integrate it into the existing IT landscape. Consumers receive guidance through the entire scanning and payment process. The system features different modes, allowing for use as both shopper-operated self-checkouts and as traditional point-of-sale units. Stores can monitor the system using an iPod or iPhone and intervene whenever necessary, such as when a shopper is attempting to purchase an age-restricted item. It could even enable stores to develop their own ways of dealing with age- or number-restricted items, up to creating a set section that can be monitored in a flexible way. The system also allows for separate merchandising areas such as an upfront grab-and-go convenience section that can provide a grocery store with an additional attraction for shoppers.

Beyond Self-Checkout Hardware

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM may have left the self-checkout hardware business a few years ago, but it continues to offer its hybrid cloud as a resource that can not only help retailers function operationally, but also better integrate across an entire digital ecosystem. For IBM, the focus is on customizing systems to suit the particular retailer. The collaborative IBM Garage facilitates the customization as a step toward greater coordination, notes Colm O’Brien, a partner for IBM’s Global Consumer Industry segment. The Garage provides discovery sessions that IBM conducts with retailers to learn about what types of customers come through their stores. With a retailer, IBM reviews the entire buying journey. Discussions range from how the retailer involved maximizes profits to how it sets markups to how it integrates digital coupons. At that point, IBM and the retailer can weigh specific point-of-sale strategies and how to optimize configurations based on the

particular business and how it engages customers. In its work with retailers, IBM introduces them to its hybrid cloud strategy, one that unifies digital systems and connects applications and data across multiple clouds as well as legacy environments. Although software may have been designed in the past to fulfill a specific function, IBM is using cloud components that can integrate with contributions from vendors and the retailer and have them function as microservices. When it’s all combined, the hybrid cloud in effect bridges systems and clouds, freeing the retailer to conduct business more effectively and innovate as technology and proprietary operations advance. “If you think about self-checkout, the biggest frustration is the bagging area,” notes O’Brien. In using IBM technology, a supermarket self-checkout system can act with existing, upgraded and new operating systems as they evolve, whether in terms of software sensors and even AI application. As an example, increasingly refined hardware and software for theft prevention that are used in self-checkout units alert the store if a customer is shoplifting. However, sometimes even updated and well-designed systems make mistakes, and an innocent shopper who has inadvertently moved a product past in such a way that it didn’t register winds up having a problem with the store. Combine better hardware with AI-supported software and a cloud solution, and the store can recognize and respond to the

customer’s history and recognize that the free pass was an accident, explains O’Brien. That combination of technologies can mature in a flexible system such as IBM advocates, and also help with everyday activities such as ensuring speedier self-checkout as new kinds of scanners come online that allow quicker product recognition. At the same time, the hybrid cloud can help link the data produced with analytical and marketing systems that can render coupons, loyalty card promotions and other highly personalized deals that simply appear as the consumer checks out. How satisfying and motivating it could be when a consumer is scanning a product at the front of the store, on a shopping cart, on a smartphone or wherever, and is informed that the store and/or vendor is taking an additional 50 cents off a bottle of shampoo that’s been selected on the shopping trip. In ways like the above example, IBM not only integrates self-checkout, but also helps it work better across its specific functions. EDITOR’S NOTE: Mike Duff also wrote about self-checkout solutions in the May 2022 issue of Progressive Grocer.

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Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Deli Delights

Dietz & Watson has given the deli snack pack a better-for-you makeover with a line of four protein-packed grab-and-go SKUS containing heart-healthy items matched with premium Dietz & Watson meats and artisan cheeses. A sophisticated but fun take on charcuterie for the whole family, Dietz & Dats consists of Hot Salami & Fontina, offering mingled heat and tanginess accompanied by sweet cranberries and crunchy melba toast; Milano Salami & Asiago, a sweet and tangy blend complemented by slightly salty almonds and melba toast; Chorizo & Pepper Jack, a smoky, spicy combo paired with sweet dried mangos and melba toast; and Dried Salami & Provolone, a savory, mildly tangy taste experience alongside cashews and melba toast. None of the varieties has any artificial flavors, preservatives or MSG. The savory, sweet stackable Dietz & Dats packs retail for a suggested $4.99 each.

Chicken Versatility

Better for Breakfast

Entering the breakfast category with a line of protein bars, RxBar’s RxBar A.M. provides consumers with 10 grams of protein in three varieties: Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Blueberry. With simple ingredients such as soft-rolled oats, creamy nut butter, honey, egg whites, crispy brown rice and pumpkin seeds, the bars deliver a multisensory experience on the go. Offering a soft and crispy texture, RxBar A.M. bars are sold at a suggested retail price of $2.49 per bar, $8.99 for a 4-pack or $9.99 for a 5-pack.

Go for a Dip

With the launch of Tastes Just Like Chicken Sausages, Al Fresco All Natural has added four flavors to its selection of high-protein and time-saving chicken products. The line of antibiotic- and gluten-free sausages comes in Chicken Burrito, Nashville Hot Chicken, Chicken Parm and Chicken Fried Rice varieties, each containing 100-110 calories and 9-10 grams of protein per serving. With 70% less fat than pork and beef products and no artificial ingredients, the sausages offer a better-for-you meal solution and are suitable for those with dietary restrictions. The suggested retail price for an 11-ounce package of any variety of Al Fresco Tastes Just Like Chicken Sausages is $6.99.

Vegan cheese maker Violife has expanded into another category with 100% plant-based dips in three popular dairy dip flavors: French Onion, Spinach & Artichoke, and Ranch. All three varieties are made with such simple ingredients as coconut oil and real onions, spinach, artichokes and herbs, as well as being free of dairy, nuts, soy, gluten and preservatives. The suggested retail price is $5.29 per 7.5-ounce tub of any flavor.


Liquid Nutrition

Adding to its product portfolio, Lala U.S. has rolled out authentic licuados to dairy cases at Walmart and Hispanic specialty grocers. Containing oats and real milk and fruits, the product line is based on the classic Mexican breakfast beverage – blended like a smoothie but not as thick — sold at outdoor stands for folks on the go. Lala Licuado comes in Papaya, award-winning Mango-Carrot and Vanilla Honey flavors, with each bottle featuring 8 grams of protein and offering a good source of fiber and vitamins A and D. The launch of the licuados is the latest in a series of authentic Mexican cheese and other dairy products recently introduced by Lala, including dessert yogurt smoothies and fruit-and-crema desserts. A 4-pack of 6.7-fluid-ounce bottles of any Lala Licuados variety retails for a suggested $5.60, line priced with the brand’s core drinkable yogurt smoothie products.

Functionality for Fido and Fluffy

Already the maker of organic bone broth and bone-broth-based soups for humans, Osso Good has now ventured into the pet category with the introduction of two Organic Bone Broths for Dogs and Cats. Available in Organic Chicken and Organic Beef varieties, the collection caters to the growing number of pet owners seeking options to support their furry friends’ gut health, digestion and immune system function as part of a complete, balanced diet. The broths start with organic chicken and grass-fed and grass-finished beef, among such other real, simple ingredients as organic carrots, apple cider vinegar, celery and bok choy, and are intentionally crafted in small batches to ensure the highest standards. Pets can consume them as is or as a topper on dry or wet food. Each gluten-free, made-in-the-U.S.A. broth is gluten- and grain-free and rich in protein, with no added salt. A BPA-free 12-ounce pouch of either flavor retails for a suggested $5.99. The product launch comes in the wake of Osso Good’s recent funding success led by strategic capital investment firm Cypress Ascendant, the company’s majority owner since the fall of 2021.

Have a Ball

Butter now comes in a different form with the launch of Land O’Lakes Butter Balls, half-tablespoon-size butter balls for everyday cooking. Inspired by consumers who started cooking during the pandemic, the firstof-its-kind product at retail offers iconic Land O’Lakes Butter in a convenient pre-portioned size that makes cooking a snap. Since research shows that almost 75% of U.S. consumers want to continue preparing meals even after the pandemic ends, the Land O’Lakes innovation team wanted to make at-home meals easier, even as life starts to return to normal. The suggested retail price range for an 8-ounce package of Butter Balls is $4.49-$4.99.

Carb-Conscious Breads

Specialty bread brand Toufayan Bakeries has brought its first line of keto breads to grocers’ deli departments in three varieties: Pita, Wraps and Flat Breads. The Keto Pita and Keto Flat Bread both contain 7 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber per serving, with only 18 grams of carbohydrates and zero sugars, while the Wraps are also sugar-free, with 12 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. Made with top-quality ingredients, Toufayan’s keto breads are hearth baked to a golden-brown color and have the authentic flavor and texture expected of the brand. The suggested retail price range is $4.99$6.49 for an 8.9-ounce package of five Pita loaves, an 8.9-ounce package of five Flat Breads or an 8.9-ounce package of six Wraps. PROGRESSIVE GROCER August 2022


AHEAD OF WHAT’S NEXT By Bridget Goldschmidt

Pop (Up) Goes the Grocer THE FOUNDER OF “THE WORLD’S FIRST E XPERIENCE-FIRST GROCERY STORE” SHARES WHY AND HOW ITS TEMPOR ARY LOCATIONS COME INTO BEING. magine all of the planning and hard work that go into As well as continuing to open new temporary locations planning a retail store. Now imagine all of the planning across the country, Pop Up Grocer is planning its first permanent store. and hard work that go into planning a retail store that lasts only for a month. What’s the strategy behind this concept, which over the past few years has grown ever joy to watch them grow, as we have.” more ubiquitous? To find out, I spoke with Emily Schildt, When it comes to the design of the founder and CEO of New York-based Pop Up Grocer, shops, much depends on geography. which, since its founding in early 2019, has set up shop in “For the most part, we travel with our such cities as the Big Apple itself; Chicago; Los Angeles; major fixtures, such as our shelves and Austin, Texas; Miami; and Washington, D.C. fridges,” notes Schildt. “So, the design “Previously, I’d been working with small food companies process for each location entails localizas they entered the market, and peeked behind the curtain ing the shop through signage, florals and of their retail journey for the first time,” explains other details. We try to bring in Schildt. “I saw just how challenging it was for a “We build and elements of each city to our dignew brand to get on shelf and, even more so once merchandise a ital content as well. For examthey’re there, to stay on shelf. That was my ‘aha’ ple, we’ve used column props in full, beautiful moment. I wanted to create a space where foundour product shots for D.C. We store in just ers could more easily display their creations and build and merchandise a full, a couple of efficiently reach their target consumers. Beyond beautiful store in just a couple that, I wanted that space to be enjoyable — brands weeks, and we break it of weeks, and we break it down aren’t the only ones getting the short end of the down in just a few days. in just a few days. It’s laborious, stick with major retailers. A typical grocery store but it’s also a lot of fun.” It’s laborious, but it’s is 40,000 square feet — about the size of a footIn terms of future plans, Schilball field — and has 40,000 SKUs. It’s difficult and also a lot of fun.” dt reveals: “We’ll continue to pop time-consuming to navigate, and there’s no sense —Emily Schildt, Pop Up Grocer up across the country! We’re also of intimacy to the experience.” busy planning the opening of our Thus, Pop Up Grocer was born, which Schildt originally envisioned first permanent store, which we don’t see as as a service she would provide for her clients, although it’s now taken a pivot. We’ll be able to use that space as on a life of its own. a reliable destination for discovery, for consumers, and for exposure and visibility for In Search of Space and Suppliers brands. We’ll maintain the essence of the Asked about what goes into the decision process to bring a temporary pop-up in our continuous rotation of new store to a certain area, Schildt replies: “We assess where the brands we products that are exclusively better-for-you. work with would want to go, where they want to support retail exAnd we’ll build on the experiential nature pansion and/or validate sales for future distribution, and we also ask of Pop Up Grocer with ongoing in-store our community where they are interested in visiting us. Additionally, programming, as well as a café. We are the we look at where there is a high concentration of spending in natural world’s first experience-first grocery store, products, as well as where there is CPG innovation/a community of CPG and we are excited to continue to evolve startups. Once we’ve determined the city in which we’ll land, we decide our platform with new formats and ways in upon the right neighborhood and search for a short-term lease.” which to bring that to life.” As for cultivating with unique suppliers and local producers, she considers that “the best part of the job! We love scouring the internet and independent Bridget Goldschmidt stores across the country to identify new brands and their founders. We’ve Managing Editor worked with many of our partners time and time again, and it brings us great 74

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

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

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

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