November-December 2020 Michigan Food News

Page 1


During good times, it’s easy to keep a steady hand. But when life throws curve balls like the world has never seen, those steady hands can become shaky rather quickly. At Associated Wholesale Grocers, we have thousands of examples of strong, steady hands keeping grocery stores running, true purveyors of hope for our communities. And there are thousands of steady hands at AWG supporting those ESSENTIAL pillars of communities in the 28 states we serve. We’ve been constantly tracking how our industry is changing long before the current crisis and we’re focusing even closer on how the current situation will change things even more. We have long prided ourselves on the lowest cost of goods. But now, and in the future, our retailers need far more than that. Everything from e-commerce to merchandising, digital marketing to support as we navigate through this crisis together. We have helping, steady hands for every area of your store and have prided ourselves on being that steady hand for almost 100 years. Make the call sooner rather than later to learn how Associated Wholesale Grocers can provide you a lower cost of goods and a real chance to compete in the marketplace today and in the future!

For a lower cost of goods PLEASE CONTACT: Keith Knight 615-290-6093 Wayne Hall 608-347-7318

Dave McKelvey 713-876-6240 Diane Guerrero 262-806-1203

Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., 5000 Kansas Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66106


President’s Message

Grocers Division Advisory Board members elected, reelected william j. hallan

MRA President and Chief Executive Officer

On Oct. 30 we held the Grocers Division Annual Meeting and Divisional Board Meeting virtually via Zoom. Normally, this meeting would be held in conjunction with the annual event. Unfortunately, that event was canceled to comply with social distancing requirements and in-person meeting limitations. During the annual meeting, one new member was elected and three members were reelected to the Advisory Board. Rachel Hurst Kroger Co. of Michigan Rachel has been with the Kroger Co. of Michigan for 12 years. As Kroger’s Corporate Affairs Manager, she oversees charitable giving, government affairs and media relations for all 119 Michigan locations. Prior to her current role, Rachel held nine different positions within the company including clerk, assistant manager, store manager and public affairs specialist. Elected for a three-year term, she replaces Kroger’s Ken McClure on the Advisory Board. Bryan Neiman Neiman’s Family Markets Reelected for a three-year term, Bryan is President and CEO of Neiman’s Family Market, with three locations in Clarkston, St. Clair and Tawas. His parents, Hal and Jean Neiman, founded the company in 1983 by opening a store in Alpena. Joining his family’s business in 2007, Bryan worked for The Fresh Market in North Carolina and Indiana prior to that. He joined the Michigan Grocers Association Board of Directors in 2013. When MGA became a division of MRA

in 2018, he became part of the Grocers Division Advisory Board. He also serves on the MRA Board of Directors, which he joined in January 2018 as the MGA division representative. Don Symonds Lipari Foods Reelected for a three-year term, Don is Director, Events & Trade Relations at Lipari Foods. He joined Lipari in 1996 and previously held a multitude of positions in the supermarket industry in retail operations, wholesale sales and distribution. In his current role, he is responsible for creating, coordinating and implementing events including the Lipari Food Show, national shows, various trade shows and customer-created events. Don was elected to MGA’s Board in 2010 and became part of the Grocers Division Advisory Board in 2018. Thom Welch Hollywood Markets Also reelected for a three-year term, Thom is President of Hollywood Markets. The five-store chain has locations in Bloomfield, Madison Heights, Rochester, Royal Oak and Troy. Thom’s grandfather, John Welch Sr., opened the retailer’s first store in Detroit in 1924; today, third and forth-generation family members help run the business. Thom began serving on the MGA board in 2013 and became part of the Grocers Division Advisory Board in 2018. Additional Advisory Board members are listed below. Congratulations to all!

Michigan Grocers Division Advisory Board

Michigan Grocers is a division of the Michigan Retailers Association

William J. Hallan, President Michigan Retailers Association Rich Beishuizen Country Fresh Craig Diepenhorst H.T. Hackney Dave Duthler AMRA Energy

Jim Gohsman SpartanNash Rachel Hurst Kroger Company of Michigan John Leppink Leppink’s Food Centers Bryan Neiman Neiman’s Family Market

DJ Oleson Oleson’s Food Stores Don Symonds Lipari Foods Thom Welch Hollywood Markets

William J. Hallan Publisher Lisa J. Reibsome Editor, Layout & Design, Ad Sales (517) 449-2256 LReibsome@retailers.com

Publisher does not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers in business competition. © MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS 2020 MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

NOV/DEC 2020 3


Governor appoints two to Liquor Control Commission Gretchen Whitmer appointed two new Michigan Liquor Control Commissioners: Lee Gonzales most recently served as deputy director of legislative and external affairs for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, having worked there since 2012. He is also a former state representative for Michigan’s 49th House District, and he served as assistant treasurer for Genesee County. He holds a Gonzales Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Michigan-Flint. He was appointed as a hearings commissioner to represent Democrats for a term that started Oct. 5, 2020, and expires June 12, 2024. He succeeds Ed Clemente, whose term expired in June.

Edward Toma most recently served as a state investigator and regulation agent for the MLCC, a position he’s held since 2009. Toma conducted enforcement, background and licensing investigations as well as financial audits and undercover operations for the commission. Prior to that, he worked in the alcohol retail and restauToma rant industry. He holds a Bachelor of Integrative Studies in Mechanical Engineering and Biological Science from Oakland University. He was appointed as an administrative commissioner to represent Republicans for a term that began Oct. 5, 2020, and expires June 12, 2024. He succeeds Brad Jacobsen, whose term expired in June.

The remaining members of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission are Chair Pat Gagliardi, Hearings Commissioner Dennis Olshove and Administrative Commissioner Geralyn Lasher.

4 NOV/DEC 2020

MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS


Blue skies ahead for rebuilt

Dublin General Store By Lisa J. Reibsome, Editor

T

he Dublin General Store is back in business a little over a year after it was destroyed by a devastating fire. The beloved Northern Michigan landmark has been a community fixture for 85 years, and the fire’s impact was felt far beyond the tiny, unincorporated community in which it sits. Located between Cadillac and Manistee, the store is essential for residents and sought-after by vacationers, especially since 1975 when owners Greg and Bonnie Fischer began making the store’s now-famous jerky, earning it the nickname “The Jerky Place.” A third-generation owner, Greg grew up working in the store, which his grandparents opened in 1935 and his father took over in the 1960s. Greg and Bonnie were heartbroken about the loss. “We hated disappointing our loyal customers by not being able to serve them,” he says. “But we are incredibly thankful there were no injuries.” A few days after the fire, the Fischers made plans to rebuild, much to the delight of the thousands of friends, neighbors and vacationers who’ve made the store an important part of their lives. A Facebook announcement about their reopening plans

garnered 4,000 reactions, 5,200 shares and 548 comments including the following, which highlight how people feel about the store: “Best news possible, especially for residents. Dublin store has always been our lifeline.” “I will be making a trip from South Dakota to get some of that wonderful jerky, Dublin fudge and hot dogs.” “Excellent. My uncle remembers driving there in the horse and wagon. We’ll take the car.” The Fischers broke ground for the new store on Dec. 30 and opened Sept. 23, 2020. A local woodworker made them a plaque (above left) they hung in the entrance that shows the original storefront. That store burned down in 1963 from what is believed to have been an electrical malfunction. The family rebuilt and reopened a few months later with a different facade (above middle). In their new design (top), the Fischers are excited to pay homage to the original store by having a similar entrance. continued on page 6 MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

NOV/DEC 2020 5


Dublin General Store continued from page 5

Above: Community members asked to donate money to help the Fischers rebuild. Since the store was insured, the Fischers suggested that, instead, funds support first responders. The Fischers partnered with O’Keefe’s Reef, a local custom apparel shop, to print and sell #dublinstrong merchandise. Raising $7,350, they gave all proceeds to the Norman Township Fire Department to distribute to the many area departments that responded to the fire. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Far left: Greg and Bonnie Fischer are happy to welcome back their customers. “While there is still more to do, such as putting the store name on the building and opening the pharmacy, we didn’t want to wait any longer to get back to serving our customers,” Bonnie says. Immediate left: While known for its extensive meat selection, the store also sells homemade pies, fudge and specialty items such as jerky dip — which is ground jerky, cream cheese and a few secret ingredients that make it one of the top-10 requested products. Left: The store had a line out the door and across the parking lot for its grand reopening. This photo was taken 15 days later, and people were still lining up to get their jerky. “We can’t keep up,” says Bonnie. “We are making products almost around the clock, and they’re flying off the shelves.” 6 NOV/DEC 2020

MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS


Above: Being a general store means there’s a wide variety of merchandise available, including beer and wine. And for people looking for the unexpected, such as shirts about jerky; yes, they’ve got that, too. In fact, customers created the store’s unofficial motto: “If the Dublin doesn’t have it, you don’t need it!” In addition to the large variety of house-made meat sticks and summer sausage (right), barbecue ribs, brats and hot dogs, customers love the home-smoked jerky, bacon, breakfast sausage and fish (top right). With a new, industrial-sized smoker, the Dublin team can produce larger quantities of their 50-plus jerky varieties, made from the expected beef and turkey to the exotic alligator, python and ostrich, with flavors such as pepper, maple, applejack (Jack Daniels and apple cider) and hellfire — which features habanero peppers and spices. Right: At 43,000 square feet, the new store is 35% bigger, allowing for wider aisles and expanded meat, bakery, grocery and hardware departments. In addition to paint, tools, plumbing, electrical, lawn and garden supplies, they carry a full line of sporting goods and hunting gear, which is popular with locals and people with cabins in the area. The hardware department is supplied by Ace Hardware while SpartanNash supplies the general store. “We would not be who we are without the love and support of our loyal customers,” says Greg. “We’re so happy to be open again for everyone.” MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

NOV/DEC 2020 7


Michigan Grocers proudly salutes its trading partners and encourages all retailers to thank them for their valuable support. Whatever your needs, call these companies first!

Alliance Beverage Distributing Shawn Gary.......................................... (616) 241-5022 Altria Client Services Nicole Kendell....................................... (614) 225-1923

The Campbell Group, a division of acrisure Joe Richards.......................................(616) 541-1438 jrichards@thecampbellgrp.com

Envirochemical Inc. Brian Fox........................................... (440) 287-2200 BFox@envirochemical.com

AMRA Energy LLC Dave Duthler......................................... (616) 446-2371 Arctic Glacier Premium Ice Jeff Weiss........................................... (810) 343-5472 jweiss@arcticglacier.com

Carlin Edwards Brown PLLC Michael Brown....................................(517) 321-4616 mbrown@cebhlaw.com LIQUOR LICENSING AND MLCC VIOLATION ATTORNEYS

Associated Whole Grocers Inc. Keith Knight (615) 290-6093 kknight@awginc.com

Cookie Cupboard Gourmet Dough Ellen Pignatiello................................ (216) 524-0974 ellen@cookiecupboard.com

cookiecupboard.com

Aunt Millie’s Bakeries Mike Feutz............................................. (260) 402-4199

Better Made Snack Foods Mike Esseltine Vice President of Sales (989) 684-6271 messeltine@bettermade.com www.bettermade.com

Business Machines Company Robert Bauer.........................................(517) 485-1732

8 NOV/DEC 2020

MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

Elite Snacks Joe Popiel..............................................(616) 452-6903

ellenscupboard.com

Foster Blue Water Oil Dan Wynn............................................. (810) 650-9081 Great Lakes Coca-Cola Amy Cowan...........................................(734) 612-2993 Great Lakes Foods Mike Smits............................................(800) 800-7492 Griffin Pest Solutions Ken Lasher............................................(269) 353-0934 H.T. Hackney Craig Diepenhorst.............................. (616) 261-6600 craig.diepenhorst@hthackney.com

Country Fresh Bill Wernet..........................................(616) 570-9658 bill_wernet@deanfoods.com

Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch Nick Beute....(616) 642-9421.... nbeute@herbrucks.com Crosset Company Bob Lummis..........................................(800) 347-4902 Crown Poly Greg Walker.......................................... (330) 328-2574


IGT Global Solutions Rick Sherrer.......................................... (517) 272-3301 Integrity Printing Joe Mooney.......................................... (989) 386-9740

MRA Payment Processing Darcy Gates....................................... (800) 366-3699 MRA Group Insurance Programs Ally Nemitz.........................................(800) 366-3699

Kent Butchers’ Supply Co. Ben DeMots..........................................(616) 534-4050

Thermo King Michigan Jim Hostler............................................ (616) 878-4900 TOMRA - Michigan Steve Parker...................................... (616) 302-1484 UBCR Nick Kronsbein.....................................(248) 529-2605

Koegel Meats John Koegel..........................................(810) 238-3685

Paramount Roasters Kara Miencier....................................... (517) 853-2439

United Dairy Industry of Michigan Kathi Eckler.......................................... (517) 349-8923

Larkin Insurance Group Steve Merten........................................(231) 947-8800

Plastipak Packaging William Young.......................................(734) 459-8000

Vine Line Produce Distribution Steve Jandernoa.................................. (616) 452-2101

Lipari Foods Joe Calo..............................................(586) 447-3500 joe_calo@liparifoods.com

Retailers Insurance Company Tom Tuggle.........................................(800) 366-3699

Williams Cheese Co. Pat Meehleder........................... (800) 968-4492 x 15 pmeehleder@williamscheese.com

Lites Plus Todd Kananen.......................................(800) 535-5610

Schupan Recycling Mike Soboleski...................................(517) 333-8845

Industry Partners

Magnum Coffee Robert Johnson.................................... (616) 638-6120

Shelby Publishing Company Geoff Welch.......................................... (312) 802-5877

Michigan Apple Committee Diane Smith..........................................(800) 456-2753 Michigan Brewers Guild Scott Graham....................................(517) 515-1444

SpartanNash Jim Gohsman.....................................(616) 878-8088 Jim.Gohsman@spartannash.com Roger Delemeester............................(989) 245-0337 Roger.Delemeester@spartannash.com

GMR of Grand Rapids Rae Ann Elliott...................................... (513) 532-4373 MSU Food Industry Management Larry Zink..............................................(517) 432-2170 WMU Food & CPG Marketing Program Frank Gambino..................................... (269) 387-6119

Michigan Grocers Fund Dawn Feldpausch................ (800) 686-6640 x 2754 migrocersfund.org Star Truck Rentals Inc. Brent Larson...................................... (616) 243-7033 brentl@starlease.com

Michigan Pork Producers Association Mary Kelpinski...................................... (517) 853-3782 Miller Poultry Fred Lechlitner...............................(260) 829-6550 x 525

Superior Foods Co Doug Verwolf.........................................(616) 541-2159

MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

NOV/DEC 2020 9


Grocery stores hold steady as a destination for holiday shopping As we re-imagine holiday traditions during this time of uncertainty, retailers who can capitalize on consumers’ changing holiday shopping behaviors will be best positioned this season. That’s the core takeaway from consulting firm Deloitte’s annual holiday retail survey. This is the 35th year that Deloitte has examined what retailers can expect from shoppers as they tackle their holiday shopping.

dents planning to have items delivered vs. 62% in 2019; and preference for curbside pickup more than doubled since last year. What are consumers planning to buy? According to Deloitte, consumers say they will stay close to home and indulge on food and beverages this holiday season. Budgets once reserved for trips are now going toward celebrating from home. Of the $1,387 expected average spend per household during this holiday season, $435 (31%) is expected to be spent on non-gift purchases. That’s a 12% increase from last year:

Where will consumers shop? One in four consumers plan to holiday shop at grocery stores this year, Deloitte reports. According to their annual survey of 4,000-plus consumers, 26% said they will n 33% say they will buy alcoholic and nonshop at grocery stores — both in-store and alcoholic beverages. Slightly more than a quarter of online — for holiday gifts, up 1% from 2019. consumers plan to holiday shop Polling ahead of grocery stores for holiday n 30% will buy food items outside of food at grocery stores this year. shopping: Online retailers — cited by 62% gift items. of respondents, down from 64% last year; mass merchants — cited by 50%, down from 53% in 2019; and traditional departn 50% plan to spend an average of $90 on pet food and supment stores — cited by 26%, down from 32% last year. plies this holiday season. Overall, shoppers expect to spend less this year — $1,387 per household, down 7% from the 2019 year-end holiday season. Half of those who say they will spend less noted concern about the economy/economic instability as the top reason; 40% said they were saving more instead of spending. According to the survey, grocery stores are one of only two destinations out of 16 that can expect an increase of holiday shoppers. The other is pet stores, with 17% of consumers saying they will holiday shop there, up from 13% in 2019.

As COVID-19 has motivated families to add a pet to the household, Deloitte says that retailers have an opportunity to pounce: n 15% of consumers responding to the survey say they will buy food and treats for their pet this holiday season, and 21% said they will give those items as gifts. n 12% say they will buy pet toys and accessories for their own pet, and 24% say that’s something they will give as gifts. When it comes to gifts for people, clothing and accessories are expected to attract the largest share of total holiday spend at 21%; with gift cards, subscription products and cash comprising 19% of the spend; followed by food and beverages, including liquor, garnering 14% — and coming in ahead of electronics/computers with 13%, tying toys/board games, also at 13%.

As a holiday shopping destination, grocery stores ranked above 12 types of retailers: off-price stores (TJ Maxx, Home Goods, etc.), warehouse clubs, bookstores, electronics/office supply/ computer stores, beauty stores, home improvement stores, pet stores, furniture/home furnishings stores, dollar stores, arts/crafts retailers, outlet stores and specialty clothing stores. Deloitte found that shoppers are anxious about shopping in-store. This holiday season, contactless shopping experiences will continue to be in demand with 73% of survey respon10 NOV/DEC 2020

MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

Budgets once reserved for trips are now going toward celebrating from home — possibly with fewer people this year.

What’s driving consumers choices? As COVID-19 continues to be a disrupting force, Deloitte says that it is “comforting to look back at previous holidays and see that some things remain constant.”


The survey found that price, product and convenience are still top considerations for consumers, along with the desire to make the season special for friends, family and pets, no matter the circumstances: n 61% said getting a great deal would be the number one reason to select a particular retailer this holiday season. n 49% said they will choose a retailer based on products and brands that are of high quality and can be trusted.

tion and opportunity. Or as the poet/musician Tuli Kupferberg famously said, “When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.” For retailers looking to attract more consumers during this time of broken shopping patterns, Deloitte’s holiday shopping survey provides some insights. When asked: “What would influence you to try a new store or online retailer,” consumers said: n Better prices, 62%

n New/different gifts, 39%

n Unique products, 44%

n Better or cheaper shipping policies, 38%

n 46% said they’ll look for retailers that offer a large variety of products.

n Coupons/discounts, 44%

n 38% will be seeking an easy checkout process.

n Greater selection, 42%

n 36% will look for a well-organized and easy-to-navigate website/mobile app.

n Friends/family recommendations, 40% n COVID-19 precautions, 32%

Only 35% say COVID-19 safety precautions will be the most important thing to consider when choosing a retailer for holiday shopping, making it sixth on the list.

“The key for retailers is to stay flexible and offer options that appeal to consumers’ changing behaviors and address their evolving needs,” said Deloitte Vice Chairman Rod Sides. “Those that do will likely be better positioned for a bright holiday season.” —By Lisa J. Reibsome, Editor

It will be a season of uncertainty Deloitte says; but as retailers have found in previous eras, disruption often leads to innova-

n Stock availability, 43%

n Positive reviews about the store or site, 37% n Pleasant shopping experience, 32%

Bread cookbooks sales rise during pandemic, providing an opportunity for grocers Market research firm NPD Group found data that could help grocers with holiday marketing and merchandising ideas: Print unit sales for bread cookbooks in the U.S. grew 145% year over year, for the nine months ending September 2020. As the COVID-19 shelter-at-home orders were instituted and restaurants closed this past March, more people cooked at home. Many turned to baking and bread-making as a way to learn a new skill and pass the time. According to the NPD Group, 200,000 more bread cookbooks sold in the U.S. in 2020 than in 2019. The rise in bread cookbook sales echoes data on changes in the foods Americans have been cooking and eating. According to NPD research, bread consumption increased 4% from March through July, compared to last year. In addition, NPD home products data shows that from March

through July, U.S. sales of bread makers reached $9.9 million, which was an increase of 100% compared to the same period in 2019. “The strong 2020 growth in cookbooks makes sense given the fact that consumers are cooking many more meals at home,” says Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD. “With colder weather on the way that may continue to restrict dinein options at restaurants, we expect cookbook sales to remain strong for the foreseeable future as people seek variety in their day-to-day meals.” Grocers: Help consumers make good use of their new cookbooks this holiday season. Consider creating in-store displays of everything shoppers need to make savory and sweet breads, rolls and more. Be sure to also take advantage of social media with recipes and bread-making promotions. MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

NOV/DEC 2020 11


Meet Tony Sarsam New President and CEO of SpartanNash Tony B. Sarsam is the new President and CEO of SpartanNash, effective Sept. 21, 2020. He most recently served as CEO of Borden Dairy Company, where he led business growth in a challenging industry. Prior to Borden, Sarsam served as CEO of Ready Pac Foods, Inc., and he enjoyed over 20 years in leadership roles at PepsiCo and Nestlé. He holds a master’s in management from Stanford University and a bachelor’s in chemical engineering from Arizona State University. He recently took time from his onboarding activities to answer some questions for the Michigan Food News about himself and his plans for SpartanNash. 12 NOV/DEC 2020

MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

What excited you about SpartanNash, making you feel like it was the right fit for you? I love the food industry and its essential role in feeding families. This industry is tremendously rewarding. That’s why I have chosen to spend the entirety of my career in and around it. Plus, the industry is filled with great people who are passionate about serving their customers. I also am driven by the opportunity to continue to grow in this space. SpartanNash has a more than 100-year legacy of serving its independent customers, retail store guests and military heroes around the world. This track record — combined with the company’s strategy to develop a highly versatile, efficient supply chain and drive operational excellence for current and future customers — are a perfect fit for me, personally and professionally.


What are some of the challenges that come with starting this job during the COVID-19 pandemic?

On what will you focus in the coming year to deliver profitable growth and future success?

Historically, the food industry has been laser focused on safety — and not just food safety. We have protocols to ensure the safety of our team members, drivers, store guests, vendors, suppliers and the communities we serve. This pandemic has added new layers of complexity, as we’ve pivoted to anticipate and respond to the evolving information on safety protocols. Each day brings breaking news on the spread of the coronavirus, and along with it, questions and concerns about what this pandemic means to our families, friends, coworkers, customers and suppliers around the world.

We have to be a great operator at our base. While this is certainly a challenging, changing environment, our fundamentals remain the same. We must be steadfast in training our team and meeting our customers’ expectations. We must drive productivity and efficiency throughout our operations, and we must accelerate our legacy as a great operator to take our game to the next level.

As we navigate these uncertainties, our company has two top priorities: (1) The well-being and safety of our family of associates, customers and communities, and (2) supporting health officials and government leaders to contain the virus. With the flu season upon us now and a second coronavirus surge in many of the communities we serve, we have had to be agile and responsive to the challenges related to increased sales volume, product shortages and labor shortages — all while continuing our steadfast commitment to safety. I’m incredibly proud of our frontline heroes and the essential role we play to meet the needs of our associates, customers and communities.

What do you talk about at your dinner table? Well, to put this into perspective, we have a large family. My wife and I have two biological children, four adopted children and two in transition. Their ages range from recently out of college to middle school, so you can imagine there is a great range of topics shared around our dinner table. One common theme is making sure our kids are ready for their next challenges — whatever they may be.

One month into the job, what’s been the biggest surprise? This first month has been fantastic and full of delightful surprises. I’ve had a longstanding focus on people-first relationships and a commitment to transparent communications. I believe that building trust with our associates, customers and suppliers is imperative to our collective success. Consequently, I’ve been visiting with associates in our distribution centers and stores every week and listening, learning and recognizing their successes and challenges. I’ve seen firsthand that our company is filled with fantastic associates — the team is passionate about what they do and have a consistent commitment to serving customers. On my tours, I’ve also been recognizing associates who have gone above beyond, executing with excellence innovative solutions and customer-first offerings. I’m proud to be a part of this organization and excited to tackle together the opportunities ahead of us.

What’s the most important thing you can do now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure your independent customers and corporate retail stores are stocked with food and other essentials? Great question. Our biggest challenge is the unknown. Consequently, we must be agile and continue to prepare ourselves for what’s next with COVID — whether it be waning or spiking. Bottom line, it is incumbent on us to maximize our supply chain. Our team must be ready for all possibilities. This means we must make sure critical supplies are available and prioritize and allocate equitably if we face shortages with suppliers. We also continue to look for great people to add to our family of associates and ensure that we provide the training, safety and warm welcome they deserve.

What is your favorite aisle in the grocery store? Ah, this is a tough question. I’ve been in and around food manufacturing most of career, and I’ve made products from pretty much every aisle — from beverages to dairy, snacks and cereal. So, I honestly love every aisle. For me, each is a window into what is going on now versus when I was selling the products. Every aisle is more complicated today. It’s wildly competitive, and I love the advancement in products.

What’s something that would surprise your colleagues to know about you? My family heritage is from the Middle East, and we love Mediterranean food. We have a family cookbook we love to explore — and with a big family, there’s lots of opinions amongst us. I’m also a huge baseball fan. I’ve been on the same fantasy baseball league for 27 years, and I’m also thrilled that my 32-year bondage with the Dodgers ended this week with them winning the World Series. Last, but certainly not least, my faith is very important to me, and I’ve taught religious education classes at my church. MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

NOV/DEC 2020 13


COVID-19 liability protections now law On Oct. 22, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed MRA-supported bills that protect businesses from frivolous lawsuits if they follow COVID-19 requirements. They also provide employee protections related to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Response and Reopening Liability Assurance Act (House Bill 6030, now Public Act 236 of 2020) makes clear that when a business complies with all relevant COVID-19 federal, state and local statutes, regulations, executive orders, state agency orders, and public health guidelines that were in effect at the time of any claims of conduct that allegedly caused harm, they cannot be held liable for a person becoming sick at the business.

HB 6031, now PA 235 of 2020, makes clear that when an employer complies with all relevant COVID-19 federal, state and local statutes, regulations, executive orders, state agency orders, and public health guidance in effect at the time, they cannot be held liable under the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Act for a worker becoming sick at work. The laws protecting employers with immunity from liability apply retroactively to any claim or cause of action that accrue after March 1, 2020. HB 6032, now PA 238 of 2020, allows workers who are exposed to COVID-19 or exhibit the symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home, and prohibits retaliation against employees for staying home when sick or exposed to the virus.

Senate committee approves PPT clarification in light of remote work In early November, the Senate Finance Committee reported legislation to clarify the location of items subject to the personal property tax (PPT). The legislation was prompted given the remote work environments implemented by many businesses this year as a result of COVID-19 precautions. Current law requires taxpayers to determine where items are located on tax day, Dec. 31 of each year, and pay the PPT to the local government unit where the items are located. The legislation, Senate Bill 1203, seeks to simplify the filling process by

making the assumption that all items subject to PPT such as computers, chairs, desks, etc. are in the same location as they were in 2019. That means if a business has employees working remotely using company-furnished property, the business won’t have to file in each jurisdiction where an employee lives. Instead, if SB 1203 is signed into law, businesses could presume that property was at its normal business location, as established in their 2019 PPT filing. The bill now goes before the full Senate for consideration.

MRA seeks to permanently codify pharmacy flexibilities MRA is working with the Senate to pass SB 920 and permanently codify several of the flexibilities given to pharmacies under E.O. 2020-124 earlier this year. These flexibilities make sense regardless of whether or not there is a pandemic. If passed, the bill would allow for emergency 60-day supplies

of medication refills; operation in an area not normally designated as a pharmacy; therapeutic substitutions of generic drugs; remote supervision of students, techs and staff; out-of-state license reciprocity and would waive signature requirements.

State approves distribution of $685k to Michigan Grocers Fund members The Michigan Grocers Fund, a member-owned self-insured workers’ compensation program, is about to complete its sixth year in operation by releasing its largest profit return to date.

The Fund received authorization from the State of Michigan to return $685,000 to its members on the 2021 renewal. The total returned since the program launched in 2014 is over $1.8 million. The average return since inception is at 37% with the last four years averaging over 45% return of premium. The Fund returns all dollars not used to pay for claims or overhead expenses to the members along with investment income. It is regulated by the state and a voluntary Board of Trustees consisting of actual participants who are entrusted with the fiduciary responsibility of overseeing the Fund’s 14 NOV/DEC 2020

MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

operation. The Michigan Grocers Fund Board members are Chairman Rich Cole with Leppink’s Food Centers; Kim Kennedy with Polly’s Country Markets; Curt DeVries with Harding’s Markets-West, Paul O’Donnell with Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace; and Dave Duthler, formerly with Duthler’s Family Foods and now with AMRA Energy. The Michigan Grocers Fund is sold and serviced by a carefully selected statewide network of independent insurance professionals with grocery industry experience. Fund participants must be members of the Michigan Retailers Association. See migrocersfund.org for details.


MDARD News

MDARD’s dairy program ensures safe dairy products at retail stores By Tim Slawinski

Food and Dairy Division Director, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Michigan’s retail food establishments are familiar with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (MDARD) Food Safety and Inspection Program and the inspectors who regularly visit their facilities. But most are not aware of MDARD’s Dairy Safety and Inspection Program efforts, also housed in the Food and Dairy Division. The dairy program is responsible for regulating and inspecting all permitted dairy establishments from the farm to processing and through to the final product.

Michigan milk production has quadrupled in 20 years Michigan has approximately 1,090 permitted Grade A dairy farms and 100 Manufacturing farms (1,190 total). Our state also has 94 licensed dairy plants and over 1,100 milk tankers moving milk throughout the state and to nearly half of the U.S. Michigan’s rigorous and consistent state regulatory systems and national standards ensure only the most wholesome, safest products are delivered to the global marketplace. Michigan adopts the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) into its Michigan Grade A Milk Law. The PMO is a national dairy program overseen by the FDA’s Milk Safety Branch.

How can retailers be sure dairy products are safe? The dairy program has staff that conduct inspections at dairy operations, including dairy farms, processing plants and the tanker trucks transporting milk. Staff tests pasteurization equipment, which is required to assure the milk is safe. Dairy staff also certifies testing sites that conduct antibiotic residue testing. All plants receiving milk perform drug residue screening tests prior to accepting milk. A positive test result means that milk can’t be processed or used for food.

All 50 states and Puerto Rico convene biennially to review proposals submitted by states to improve the PMO. These proposals are either adopted or rejected in one of three councils during the biennial meeting. State delegates have the final vote to accept the proposals and procedures in the PMO. FDA has final rule to concur on the proposals passed.

There is also a group of State Ratings Officers that conduct audits at dairy operations. The ratings officers are certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct audits every 24 months. Dairy operations are required to pass these audits to ship milk across state lines. Operations throughout the U.S. are listed on the FDA Interstate Milk Shippers List, which is updated quarterly. Any plant in the country can access the rating on a farm supply to verify it meets the compliance score necessary to receive milk.

Michigan ranked 6th nationally for pounds of milk produced in 2018, producing 11.4 billion pounds. Milk production in the state has quadrupled since 2000. Additionally, Michigan ranks second in the U.S. for the number of artisan dairy processors, making delicious small-batch cheeses, ice cream and other dairy products. The MDARD Dairy Safety and Inspection Program works closely with artisan dairy processors to provide guidance on best practices to assure a safe product and to make sure food and dairy safety regulations are followed.

MDARD’s pasteurization specialists conduct quarterly tests at all processing plants to assure the milk has been properly pasteurized prior to production of milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, ice cream or milk powder.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of the complex work that goes on behind the scenes to protect the safety and wholesomeness of Michigan dairy products from the farm to your retail food establishment.

MRA provides new mask sign MRA has a downloadable face mask sign you can post in your store to let shoppers know that they must still wear face coverings. The new sign cites the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Emergency Order as the source of the current mask requirement. MDHHS’s order was issued under the Public Health Code, which is independent of the act that the Supreme Court recently ruled to be unconstitutional. That ruling effectively invalidated Gov. Whitmer’s extensions of a state of emergency since April 30 and her subsequent pandemic-related executive orders. To download this sign, see retailers.com, click the “News & Events” tab, and scroll to the Oct. 8 posting. MDHHS continues to issue orders that impact business. Stay up to date by subscribing to MDHHS email updates here: bit.ly/2I16U8i. MICHIGAN FOOD NEWS

NOV/DEC 2020 15


603 S. Washington Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933 (800) 366-3699 www.retailers.com

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID Lansing, MI Permit No. 846

HELPING INDEPENDENT RETAILERS BE MORE PROFITABLE, EFFICIENT, AND INFORMED.

• Advertising Support • Asset Protection • Category Management • Customer Service • Financial Services • Food Safety • Graphic Services • Marketing • Merchandising • Pharmacy • Pricing • Reclamation • Retail Technology • Retailer Education • Shelf Technology • Supply Solutions

Support Services Group

CONTACT US TODAY AND LEARN HOW WE CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS! Visit SpartanNash.com or Call: Jim Gohsman 616-878-8088 | Roger Delemeester 989-245-0337