THIS IS THE
Need to attract sales leads? Worried that ad fatigue and banner blindness is hurting your online ad efforts? Contact Lisa Reibsome to hear how the Michigan Food News can help.
85% $3.95 21% Internet users have ad blocking software or are open to the idea
Returned for every ad dollar spent in print magazines
according to the “The Consumer Engagement Crossroads” study by OpenX, the Mobile Marketing Association and MediaMath.
This was the highest ROI, according to Nielsen’s study, “Yes, Advertising Works. Now, What’s My ROAS Across Media Platforms?”
Readers had a more favorable opinion of advertisers from ads in trade publications According to the Association of Business Information & Media Companies.
Got a business question? Ask Us First! william j. hallan
MRA President and Chief Executive Officer
“When a family emergency meant that we neglected to renew our SNAP authorization, the association intervened, and it was restored immediately!”
agencies and departments, we know who to contact to get answers and get things done.
“Without the association, we would have never gotten our liquor license in time for our store opening.”
Consider this: How much money do you spend on professional fees each year? How much time do you spend trying to ‘do it yourself?’ As an MRA member, you are never on your own. We’re here to answer questions, provide guidance, cut red tape and help get you what you need so you can focus on serving your customers.
“We’ve avoided having to pay attorney fees several times simply by asking the association for help first.” “After several frustrating attempts to correct a tax issue, I remembered the association’s ‘Call Us First’ message. Within a few hours of contacting them, my problem was solved. This is a great member benefit.” These are just a few of the encouraging anecdotes that Michigan Grocers Association heard from members over the years in response to their Call Us First initiative, which reminded members to take advantage of the assistance the association could provide. At MRA, we are pleased to continue to provide this important member benefit for the grocers division and all association members. We know that it takes a lot more than passion, a plan and perseverance to operate a successful business, especially in the heavily regulated food industry. It takes a village; or at least a strong support network. That’s where we come in. Our team has many areas of expertise including legal, governmental, retail, insurance, technical and communications know-how, and we’re passionate about sharing our knowledge with you. We’ve also got connections. Having cultivated professional relationships with state
MRA assistance is a benefit of membership. That means contacting us is not a buying decision or a new expense. So why wouldn’t you come to us first for help? One call or email could be all it takes to solve something that may otherwise require legal counsel and fees. Of the many Call Us First success stories from MGA, my favorite is a straightforward one from a grocer in Northern Michigan. He simply said, “Whenever I have needed support over the years, MGA was there for us.” To me, that sums up our purpose as your association. We are here to serve you, so I hope you will take advantage of that. We’d love to turn your challenge into the next success story. And we’ve got you covered whether you prefer to call or send us an email. We’ve expanded and rebranded Call Us First into Ask Us First. You can reach us at (800) 366.3699 or email@example.com.
Michigan Grocers Division Advisory Board William J. Hallan, President Jim Gohsman DJ Oleson Michigan Retailers Association SpartanNash Oleson’s Food Stores John Leppink Rich Beishuizen Don Symonds Leppink’s Food Centers Country Fresh Lipari Foods Ken McClure Craig Diepenhorst Thom Welch Kroger Company of Michigan H.T. Hackney Hollywood Markets Bryan Neiman Dave Duthler Neiman’s Family Market AMRA Energy Jim Forsberg Arctic Glacier Premium Ice Michigan Grocers is a division of the Michigan Retailers Association
William J. Hallan Publisher Lisa J. Reibsome Editor, Layout & Design, Ad Sales (517) 449-2256 MGAReibsome@comcast.net
Publisher does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers in business competition. © MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS 2020 MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS MARCH/APRIL 2020 3
Meijer takes a different approach to retail with Woodward Corner Market When you walk into the newly opened Woodward Corner Market, the bright, airy, modern space immediately signals that this isnâ€™t your standard-issue grocery store. With 25-foot ceilings, a wall of windows, exposed ductwork and polished concrete floors, it feels a bit like a seasonal, open-air neighborhood market. Come spring, when the six garage-style doors open to an outdoor fresh produce and floral department, that feeling will blossom. For now, the flower shop at the entrance adds pops of color and the smell of fresh brewed coffee pulls you in, while the spacious seating area and natural light invite you to relax and stay a while. 4 MARCH/APRIL 2020
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Woodward Corner Market wants to be the go-to neighborhood grocery store in Royal Oak, Berkley and the surrounding areas. The focus is on fresh, affordable and local products. “Although the store is less than a quarter of the size of a regular Meijer, it has the same size produce spread,” says Marketing Manager Ell Donelson. “We also have a large selection of organic produce and fresh prepared foods. We’re very proud to support local farmers and family-owned businesses.” Woodward Corner Market shoppers can find over 2,000 local, artisan products including Zingerman’s breads, Ethel’s gluten-free baked goods, Rinaldi’s Sausage, Koegel Meats and Michigan-made cheeses. “Shoppers have been pretty excited about the store,” Donelson says. “We hear a lot of great comments about the local products; they really like that they can buy from their own backyard.” The market’s commitment to local goes beyond food and beverages. Design elements include Michigan-specific materials such as reclaimed wood from farms in Hart, Emmett and Ludington and from Hazel Park Raceway, a nearby fixture from 1949 until it closed in 2018. Near the entrance, suspended wooden beams create a lower ceiling to highlight the store-within-astore gift shop. Marquee-size letters such as the metal cut-out ones in the gift shop and the neon-look ones in the produce department call attention to the specialty shops and departments throughout the store. Other signs and shelf-tags are handwritten and designed by market team members. While the store celebrates fresh and local, it still provides a full grocery shopping experience, offering fresh-cut meat, seafood, deli, dairy, frozen items continued on page 6
At 41,000 square-feet, metro-Detroit’s Woodward Corner Market at Thirteen Mile Road and Woodward Avenue is Meijer’s second smaller-format store, having opened Bridge Street Market in Grand Rapids in 2018. Its location and pedestrian-friendly design aim to encourage staff, patients, families and other visitors to walk over from Beaumont Hospital’s Royal Oak campus.
The market opened Jan. 29 with a ribbon-cutting event. Meijer Executive Chairman Hank Meijer talked about the company’s commitment to being a good neighbor, demonstrated by donating $5,000 to three community organizations. MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS MARCH/APRIL 2020 5
Woodward Corner Market continued from page 5
and more. In addition, three aisles are dedicated to non-food items: the household and cleaning, pet care, and health and beauty aisles. “What’s really great about the market is that, like other Meijer stores, we carry Meijer and national brands at everyday low prices,” Donelson says. “In fact, some of our prices are even lower than our supercenters. But at the same time, we’re fast to shelf like an independent store, so we can respond quickly to market changes and customer requests.” There’s also an expansive international food aisle featuring many ethnic backgrounds including Middle Eastern, kosher, Hispanic and Asian. “We cater to all diets and lifestyles like keto and vegan, with products often highlighted in end-cap displays,” Donelson says. “We like to say we offer low prices, high experience. Our two tenants, Great Lakes Coffee Roasters and a Hissho Sushi, add to that experience.” The market features a beer alley and an extensive selection of wines, both offering local favorites and the classics. “If you’re looking for spirits, there’s an entire floor-to-ceiling wall of them along with a rolling ladder so staff can retrieve your selections,” Donelson says. To reduce waste and improve recycling, Woodward Corner Market does not use any single-use plastic or paper bags at checkout. The store encourages shoppers to bring their own reusable bags. They also sell two types of reusable, recyclable bags at the register. The 10-cent bag is white; the thicker $1 bag is black. Both are third-party verified to be used up to 125 times, depending on load weight. “During the grand opening we gave away over 20,000 bags to kick off our green initiative,” Donelson says. “We know it’s not common practice, but we’re committed to lessening our impact on the environment.” (See related Plastic Pollution Act article on page 7.) Woodward Corner Market has 19 checkout registers. The majority are self-checkouts for small purchases; four are longer for larger purchases, and three are for cashiers who are on hand during peak times. The exit area also has convenient bag recycling bins and a feature wall of reclaimed brick from a 1903 Detroit fire station. —By Lisa J. Reibsome, Editor 6 MARCH/APRIL 2020
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MRA announces new Al Kessel Memorial Scholarship In 2013, Michigan Grocers Association created the Al Kessel Awards to memorialize former MGA Director Albert Kessel, Jr., who founded the Flint-based Kessel Food Market chain. Al believed in the philosophy “from those who are blessed, much is expected.” He was known for giving back to the community, having established the Kessel College Fund for Kessel associates, a summer basketball camp for inner-city youth and more.
Beginning this year, MRA will recognize a deserving student in the form of a scholarship, rather than an industry award that recognizes a grocer and supplier as it did in the past. The new Albert (Al) Kessel, Jr. Memorial Scholarship will be awarded for the first time in May 2020 as part of the Michigan Retailers Association scholarship competition. As an official division of the Michigan Retailers Association, Michigan Grocer members are eligible to apply for all of the MRA scholarships including the new Al Kessel scholarship and the long-standing Paul M. Felice Memorial Scholarship. Applications are accepted through April 1 for the 2020-21 academic year. Those eligible to apply are high school seniors and college freshmen, sophomores and juniors who are dependent children of owners or full-time employees of MRA member businesses. Part-time employees who are full-time students are also eligible. To assure complete impartiality in selecting the winners and to maintain a high level of professionalism, the program is administered by International Scholarship and Tuition Services, Inc., a national firm that specializes in managing sponsored scholarship programs. Please make the program known to all of your employees as soon as possible. For more details or to apply online, see bit.ly/MRAscholarship 2020 or retailers.com under the Member Benefits tab. Students may contact MRA’s Rachel Schrauben at (800) 366-3699 ext. 346 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Tom’s President, Grocers Fund Chair Christy Kuhnke passes away
Federal ‘Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act’ introduced
On Jan. 20, Michigan Grocers Fund Chair Christy Kuhnke passed away. She was 61. Christy was president of MRA member Tom’s Food Markets in Traverse City. She grew up working in the family business, which was founded by her grandfather in 1946. For many years, she worked alongside her father, Dan Deering, who passed away last March at age 84.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) introduced the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act to reduce plastic pollution and increase corporate recycling. The bills (H.R. 5845 and S. 3263) currently have 29 co-sponsors in the House and six co-sponsors in the Senate. Among other initiatives, the legislation would:
Christy supported the association, and the Grocers Fund was established under her leadership in 2014. The association, fund board and the entire food retail community were deeply saddened by her loss. You may share condolences with Christy’s family and read the full obituary at Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home’s website, www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com. The Grocers Fund has named Board Trustee Rich Cole as chairman. Rich has serve on the board since December 2017. Along with brother-in-law John Leppink, Rich owns several Leppink’s Food Centers and Save A Lot stores. At its April meeting, fund trustees plan to discuss moving forward by adding new board members.
n Require nationwide beverage container refunds — The legislation would institute a 10-cent national refund requirement for all beverage containers, regardless of material, to be refunded to customers when they return containers. Any unclaimed refunds will go to beverage producers to supplement investments in nationwide collection and recycling infrastructure. n Impose a carryout bag fee — The legislation would impose a fee on the distribution of carryout bags. The fee could be retained by retailers who implement a reusable bag credit program. For those who do not participate in a reusable bag credit program, the fees will be used to fund access to reusable bags as well as litter clean up and recycling infrastructure. The legislation would also require producers of plastic products to design, manage and finance waste and recycling programs and establish minimum recycled content requirements for beverage containers, packaging and food-service products, while standardizing recycling and composting labeling. MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS MARCH/APRIL 2020 7
Report highlights the power of dairy The just-released â€œState of the Industry Reportâ€? by the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association shows the impressive category power of the dairy department. The report found that the dairy department is the second largest edible department in the supermarket (this excludes alcoholic beverages) with sales of $71 billion, delivering $550 million in year-over-year growth. More than 68 percent of all dairy sales are concentrated in the top-five selling categories: 1. Cheese ($16.3 billion) 4. Yogurt ($7.2 billion) 2. Milk products ($13.3 billion) 5. Eggs ($5.8 billion) 3. Other beverages ($8.6 billion) Other high-selling dairy categories include cream and nondairy creamers ($4.4 billion), butter/margarine ($4.2 billion), prepackaged meal combos that have dairy items ($2.3 billion) and fresh prepared foods with dairy items ($2.2 billion). Additional report highlights:
n Younger generations exhibit greater demand for milk alternatives and meal combos that include dairy items.
n More than 90 percent of households in the U.S. purchase cheese, eggs, milk products and butter/margarine.
n Older generations exhibit greater demand for butter and prepared potato sides that include dairy.
n The dairy aisle drives 47 trips per buying household annually with milk products and cheese topping the shopping list.
n As household income increases so do sales for cream cheese, Greek yogurt and snack combos that include dairy items.
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Five keys to influencing bakery channel choices Success in bakery requires understanding what consumers want and where they prefer to buy it. The “where” factor is highly complex. Retailers and manufacturers can improve their chances of success by understanding consumers’ channel choices. That is a key takeaway from “The Power of Bakery,” a report produced by American Bakers Association in partnership with FMI. It includes a section called “Bakery Channel Choices.” Here are five keys to succeeding with consumer channel choices. 1. Identify Bakery Missions Shoppers make decisions on shopping venues based on their bakery shopping missions, the report found. These missions determine if shoppers will rely on the grocery or bakery channel. In purchasing functional bakery items, some 74 percent of shoppers typically rely on their primary grocery store. Functional items include bread, buns and rolls. The picture is different for indulgent items and desserts. For this shopping mission, only 63 percent purchase at their primary store, and 23 percent rely on a bakery/cupcake store or cakery. Meanwhile, for special occasion bakery items, only 40 percent of consumers make purchases at their primary grocery store, compared to 36 percent who rely on a bakery/cupcake store or cakery and 14 percent who bake on their own.
Grocers can sell to in-home bakers by marketing or merchandising time-saving solutions, such as fun decorations, to put the finishing touches on their from-scratch cakes.
2. Explore Channel Switching There are multiple reasons for consumer channel switching in purchasing bakery items. One of the most important is the level of competition in a market. “Ample access to competitive choices drives channel switching,” the report explains. “Urban shoppers are the most and rural shoppers the least likely to buy bakery items beyond their primary store.” In general, supermarkets are least likely to lose shoppers to other food channels. Nevertheless, any outlet can be vulnerable if it doesn’t prioritize factors most important to shoppers, including price and quality. 3. Target Primary and Secondary Shoppers Retailers need to be aware of the different purchase patterns of primary and secondary shoppers. Primary shoppers tend to focus on big stock-up trips, at a minimum, and secondary shoppers take care of fill-in or supplemental trips. Secondary shoppers tend to under index for supermarkets (so they shop/spend less at supermarkets), but they over index for organic/specialty stores and club stores (so when they do shop, they shop/spend more at specialty stores/club stores), the research found. The best approach is to focus on both primary and secondary bakery shoppers. “Being a bakery destination that is top of mind among primary and secondary shoppers goes a long way towards optimizing conversion and attracting shoppers from other retail channels,” the report said. 4. Build Awareness With In-home Bakers In-home bakers represent an opportunity for retailers. More than 10 percent of shoppers make their own indulgent or special occasion items and 5 percent make their own bread. continued on page 10 MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS MARCH/APRIL 2020 9
Five keys to influencing bakery channel choices continued from page 9
By focusing on convenience, the in-store bakery and the bakery aisle have an opportunity to provide time-saving solutions to complement scratch and box-baking, the report said. For example, these shoppers might be interested in purchasing pre-made dough, par-baked items, icing or other cookie/cake decoration items. 5. Address Generational Patterns Generational behaviors play a big role in channel choices. A case in point is younger consumers. Millennials are less likely than older shoppers to identify a supermarket as their primary channel for groceries, the research found. They over index for organic/specialty stores and supercenters. Many of these shoppers are drawn to channels including dollar, drug, convenience and online for bread and baked goods. Understanding the unique attractions of each channel may help a retailer to become more of a bakery destination for younger shoppers, the report said.
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As locations for occasional bakery purchases, many channels nibble at the bakery dollars 67% 44% 35% Bakery/ Convenience Farmers Cupcake Store Store Market 38% 23% 22% Bakery Outlet Online Ordering Drug Store Source: The Power of Bakery 2019
In addition to their primary store, shoppers occasionally pick up bakery items for in-home consumption at other outlets. Sixty-seven percent of the time, they choose a stand-alone bakery.
The channel research in “The Power of Bakery” points to important strategies for winning bakery consumers. “Being a well-known bakery destination with a strong reputation and image is crucial,” the report concluded. —By David Orgel, for the American Bakers Association
Is it time to rethink your store’s approach to deli, prepared foods? Seventy-seven percent of all eating occasions involve some prepared foods, according to food and beverage research company the Hartman Group.
Similarly, Nielsen research found that fresh prepared foods remain a key traffic driver in physical stores. Between 2017 and 2019, sales of prepared foods increased 44.1 percent ($2.2 billion). FMI says grocers have “badly underestimated the foodservice opportunity, worth approximately $120 billion today and expected to grow to $365 billion by 2030.” This is in a new report from FMI and industry partner Kearney entitled, “How will foodservice disrupt the traditional grocery market?” According to FMI: We are witnessing a surge in the proliferation of consumer foodservice choices, from online delivery and grab-and go options to quick bites at a nearby deli/bakery and ordering meal kits tailored to the nutritional profile of consumers. Unfortunately, the supermarket industry has not done enough to catch up to this new consumer reality. Most stores still offer traditional deli/bakery operations, and few have changed merchandising practices, let alone adopt a true foodservice mindset. As a first step, the FMI/Kearney report suggests that grocers ask themselves two questions: 1. What role should foodservice play in my business? Consider whether you want to become a foodservice destination or if you’re simply looking to add incremental revenue. 2. What capabilities do I have to accomplish this? Then, regardless of your goals, FMI says growing a successful foodservice program will require the following: n Strong senior-level support; n Buy-in at every level of your organization, from the bottom to the top; n Leveraging a restaurant profitability mindset (for example, think in terms of ingredient costs, portion size and presentation, rather than category management and trade promotions); n Organizational agreement to think, plan and act cross-functionally at all times. The report reviews various foodservice segments grocers could consider when looking to compete at a higher level for foodservice dollars. FMI recommends that, as you think about
Nielsen reports that the top foodservice items are sushi, salads, sandwiches and appetizers.
each option, keep your location top of mind. For instance, stores in a high-income, high-traffic area could possibly compete with high-end restaurants; on the other hand, grocers in low income areas would likely do better competing with restaurants that offer convenience or value. With which segment do you aim to compete? n Quick-service operators: Can you offer top-quality premade items and streamline the buying experience to get people in and out quickly? n Self-serve operators: Can you offer a broad range of quality food and beverage options at competitive prices, much like a high-end food court? n Casual restaurants: Can you offer a dedicated dining space separate from the store? Is your store already known for food items that you could serve in the restaurant? n Fine-dining restaurants: Can you use your store’s reputation to launch a full-service restaurant? You’ll need a significant investment in equipment, space, people and more. Final food for thought from the report: To grab a bigger share of the foodservice opportunity, retailers must guard against what FMI calls a “one-dimensional view of the consumer.” That means you and your team must understand that a customer’s motivation and preferences when buying items in the grocery store will change when considering options for dinner; therefore your marketing and merchandising efforts must change as well. —By Lisa J. Reibsome, Editor MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS MARCH/APRIL 2020 11
Middleville Marketplace has new owner, new name Middleville Marketplace has a new owner, Tim Harding, and a new name, Harding’s Market, as of Feb. 18. Tim purchased the grocery store, located about 20 miles southeast of Grand Rapids on M-37, from Ralph Fahner and Ransom Leppink, who had owned it since 2000. Harding’s expands in to Middleville “Buying the store was a smart business decision,” Tim says, “because M-37 gets a good volume of traffic, and the store is part of a great community that’s already familiar with the Harding’s brand. That’s also why it made sense to change the name from the Middleville Marketplace to Harding’s Market.”
Ransom Leppink and Ralph Fahner, Middleville Marketplace owners from 2000 to 2020.
Harding’s operates 27 stores in Southwest Michigan and Northern Indiana. Tim’s grandfather, Melvin Harding, opened the first Harding’s Friendly Market in 1944. “As he opened more stores, rather than just keeping the business in the family, he added partners,” Tim explains. “So in my family, I’m part of the third generation running the business. Among his former business partners, there are also third-generation family members running the businesses. That means the Harding’s stores are owned by several different Harding’s groups, and together we all make up the Harding’s brand.” With the addition of the Middleville location, Tim now owns seven Harding’s stores under the corporate name Harding’s Galesburg Market, Inc. “All the Harding’s operate as a group when it’s best to do so, such as to save money on advertising,” he says. “We operate as independents when that’s beneficial, such as when we need to customize our product mix to best serve each community.” Harding’s is supplied by SpartanNash, as was Middleville Marketplace; and for Tim, that was an additional reason to purchase the store. And a final reason? “The store is in good shape. Ralph and Ransom took care of it, putting money back into it to remodel, expand and make improvements such as switching to energy efficient lighting,” he says. “So we’re starting out in a good place.” Middleville Marketplace served community for 20 years In the 20 years that Ralph and Ransom owned the store, they expanded the frozen food department, moved the produce department to the front and tripled its size, added a bakery and deli with fresh to-go meals and sides, and always looked for ways to do more for their customers.
Harding’s Market Store Director Andrew Deniston uncovers the "Now Open" announcement on the sign in front of the store on Feb. 18. 12 MARCH/APRIL 2020
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However, Ralph explains, “As a single store owner, it’s difficult to offer everything customers want right now. The industry is changing so quickly, particularly with the growth of online sales and home delivery. It’s tough to be successful, even with the much-appreci-
ated support of our wholesaler SpartanNash and associations like MRA.” He adds, “I really appreciate everything Michigan Grocers Association has done for us over the years, and the support we continued to receive from Michigan Retailers.” But after 41 years in the grocery industry, Ralph said “it felt like a good time to step away.” Ralph and Ransom are pleased that Harding’s purchased the store. “The customers are so great, they deserve a strong brickand-mortar grocery store in their community,” Ralph says. “Ransom and I wanted to make sure the community remains well cared for, so we’re excited that Tim and his group are taking over. They have the resources to give the community a top-notch grocery store with all the services they need.” And while he’ll no longer own a store, Ralph says he’s not planning to retire. “I’m looking for my next venture, and I’m blessed to be able to take some time to decide what that is,” he says. “It’s bittersweet. I didn’t expect it to be such as emotional time. It’s scary but exciting.” For Ralph and Ransom, opening Middleville Marketplace fulfilled an ambition born in college. As graduates of Western Michigan University’s Food Marketing Program, they thought it would be great to work together and really enjoyed operating the store. Going forward, Ransom will continue to own two Leppink’s Food Centers in Lakeview and Stanton. He says he’ll now have more time to devote to those stores.
Mark Your Calendar Now! Plan to Attend the Association’s Annual Legislative Event Everyone is invited to the Association’s Annual Legislative Reception, which is one of the most talked about events in Lansing — with good reason. It has a reputation for having extraordinary food, beverages and networking opportunities. We showcase the top-of-the-line food and beverages that you, our members, create and sell everyday. This year’s reception will be held Tuesday, April 28 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the offices of the Dykema law firm, which is adjacent to Michigan’s Capitol Building — making it easy for legislators to join us! The reception is an ideal setting to build rapport with public officials. We invite all members — so of course that includes grocers and suppliers — to be there. Don’t miss what is perhaps the year’s best opportunity to share your business, economic and regulatory concerns and to chat informally with lawmakers, regulators and other officials. Have questions? Need a little more information? Want to attend? Please contact Nora Jones at (800) 366-3699 or email@example.com. We hope to see you there!
Harding’s invests in the communities it serves Both Ralph and Tim report that the Middleville Marketplace employees have stayed on, continuing to serve the community. “And we’ve gotten a positive response from shoppers,” Tim shares. “They’re pretty happy there’s still a grocery store in town and are looking forward to our planned updates and improvements.” Tim’s immediate goal is to get to know the store and its customers better before making any major changes. “We will invest in the store,” he says. “We’ll definitely refresh the décor, and we’ll likely expand some product lines and bring in a few new brands. Our plan is to do more once we see exactly what’s needed.” The new store director, Andrew Deniston, comes from Harding’s Galesburg where he was the assistant store director. “Andrew will capture the spirit of the neighborhood in our new store,” Tim says. “We have a strong commitment to the communities we serve, and we’ll work to make sure that comes through. We look forward to serving the Middleville community.” —By Lisa J. Reibsome, Editor
Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy) and Kroger’s Ken McClure at last year’s reception. MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS MARCH/APRIL 2020 13
Paczki Day is a barrel of fun at Neiman’s Family Market in St. Clair Bringing in a polka band to help celebrate Paczki Day is a tradition at MRA Member Neiman’s Family Market in St. Clair. “We’ve been doing this for last eight to 10 years,” says Store Director Kathy Pizzo. “People come from all over. Our guests love it.” Kathy is the sister of Hal Neiman, founder of the four-store, family-run company. She came up with the idea to make Paczki Day, also known as Fat Tuesday — which is a prelude to the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday — into a big store celebration complete with a live polka band. Each year, Ted Pavlik and the Melody Makers set up in the deli area and play for several hours during the lunch period. “There’s a large polka following in this area,” she explains. “And my parents were big polka fans, so they would have loved this.” Neiman’s offers a Polish kielbasa lunch special in the deli, and of course, there are paczki. “We make them from scratch, starting about a week ahead,” Kathy says. “This year the fryer ran for 48 hours straight.” The store sold about 5,300 of the sweet treats on Fat Tuesday and about 7,600 total during the week and a half they were available. The St. Clair store is the only Neiman’s location that brings in a polka band; however, all four make fresh paczki. And the Tawas location has hosted a paczki eating contest for the last several years. “Paczki Day at the store is a very fun event,” Kathy says. “We probably had about 75 people here this year to listen to the band, dance, eat lunch, buy some paczki and just enjoy spending time together as a community.”
Coronavirus resources are available for businesses
NLRB finalizes joint employer rule
n Businesses: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published COVID-19-related guidance for businesses and employers in non-healthcare settings to help protect employees, customers and communities. See bit.ly/2PXbFjP. For CDC information that is updated daily, see www.cdc.gov/covid19.
The final rule clarifies that in order to establish joint-employment, an entity must possess and exercise “direct and immediate control over one or more essential terms or conditions of their employment ...” Those conditions are spelled out in a four-factor balancing test to decide if a business is a “joint employer.” The balancing test examines whether the employer: (1) hires or fires employees, (2) supervises and controls work schedules or conditions of employment, (3) determines rate and method of pay and (4) maintains employment records.
Resources are available to help businesses plan for and respond to COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus disease 2019:
n Food industry: The Food Marketing Institute compiled extensive COVID-19 information including a detailed preparedness checklist and other resources to support the food industry. See www.fmi.org/ food-safety/coronavirus. n Michigan: Gov. Whitmer activated the state Emergency Operations Center to coordinate with state, local and federal agencies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. For Michigan-specific information, see www.michigan.gov/coronavirus. 14 MARCH/APRIL 2020
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The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) published its final joint employer rule, which rolls back the Obama-era standard where two employers could be considered joint employers if one exercised indirect and limited control over employment matters of another company.
The rule also defines “indirect control” and establishes that it can be used to help establish joint-employment, but only if one of the conditions above has been met first. NLRB Chairman John Ring explains: “Employers will now have certainty in structuring their business relationships, employees will have a better understanding of their employment circumstances and unions will have clarity regarding with whom they have a collective-bargaining relationship.” The rule takes effect April 27, 2020.
Bills introduced to change bottle deposit escheats
House Bills 5422-5425 would shift the distribution formula for any unclaimed deposits returned to the state. Currently, 75 percent of unclaimed deposits that revert to the state are deposited into the Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust Fund and 25 percent are returned to retailers. Under the bills, no changes are proposed to the retailers’ 25 percent. However, a new distribution formula would include 20 percent to distributors and 5 percent for fraud investigations by state and local law enforcement agencies. The remaining 50 percent would be returned to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). Of those funds returned to EGLE, the first $25 million would go to the Cleanup and Redevelopment Trust Fund for environmental remediation and the next $5 million to the Renew Michigan Fund for recycling. Any amount over $30 million would go to environmental remediation. The bills also crack down on distributors/retailers selling returnable containers without first originating the deposit on the container. Legislators added an amendment at MRA’s request clarifying that the new language does not allow for expansion to other types of containers. Distributors believe a large amount of fraud is happening in Michigan that cannot be stopped because of a lack of funding and tools to crack down on perpetrators. Proposed penalties range from misdemeanors to felonies, from 93 days in jail and 20 years in prison. Fines vary from $500 to $35,000. The House Ways and Means Committee approved the bills in early March, and they will now be considered by the full House.
House committee approves electric charging station bills House Bills 4806 and 5445, introduced by Rep. Andrea Schroeder (R-Independence Township), would allow private businesses to charge for use of electric vehicle charging stations on their property, if registered with the state.
As proposed, registration fees would not exceed $75 and would allow an entity to register with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. MDARD would partner with the state’s public service commission to use their tools/expertise to ensure that fair and accurate rates are charged to the public. MDARD Weights and Measures Program would regulate the fees/rates in a manner similar to how it monitors gas stations. The MRA-supported bills would not require registration if public access and use of the electric charging stations is provided free of charge. Registered entities would not be considered public utilities. The goal of the bills is to provide an incentive for private businesses and other entities to install more electric vehicle charging stations across Michigan. The bills are now with the House Ways and Means Committee for consideration.
Committee considers tobacco/vape product bills
The Senate Regulatory Reform Committee heard two rounds of testimony so far on bills that reflect the federal government’s new Tobacco 21 law and create a regulatory framework around the sale of vapor products. Senate Bill 781, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), would categorize vaping products under Michigan’s Tobacco Products Tax Act and levy a 24 percent tax on the wholesale price of liquid nicotine solutions. The bill does not tax the electronic vaping device itself, which is an important distinction for fair taxation. Also in the package, SBs 782-786 create a $25 yearly license that would be required to sell vaping products; ban advertising/marketing aimed at minors; increase penalties for noncompliance, and increase the legal age to 21 to buy tobacco, vape and alternative nicotine products to reflect recent federal changes. The bills would also require retailers to use a license scanning device to verify age. MRA has requested an amendment to instead use the existing age verification methods for all products, only adding license scanning as an option, not a requirement. The committee has not yet taken action on the bills.
Bills advance to further limit pseudoephedrine sales The Senate passed Senate Bills 170 and 599, sponsored by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), to further reduce the amount of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine a person may buy per month from 9 to 7.2 grams. The bills also would cap at 61.2 grams the amount someone could purchase in a year. MRA is neutral on the bills because the limits are acceptable to allow for realistic use by families without a prescription. They now advance to the House Committee on Health Policy for consideration.
Did you miss vital information? If you are not getting the twice monthly Michigan Food eNews, you are missing information about deadlines, breaking news, regulations, policy changes, events and more. The Michigan Food eNews is an important extension of the Michigan Food News and a value expansion of your member benefits. Recent eNews bulletins had timely intel, including: n Federal regulatory updates and tobacco oversight changes; n Michigan Liquor Control Commission product sales changes; n Deadlines for vape sales, MIOHSA forms and business forms; n Info on new tax forms and much more. To receive this electronic bulletin, contact Lisa Reibsome at MGAReibsome@comcast.net or (517) 449-2256. MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS MARCH/APRIL 2020 15
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