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Produce Shows Sales Gains

WASHINGTON —  Fresh fruit and vegetables both posted sales gains the first quarter of this year over the same period a year earlier, according to the latest edition of FreshFacts for Retail, a quarterly research report from The United Fresh Foundation.

Produce departments as a whole experienced a  2% increase in volume sales, and 7% increase in average dollar sales, spurref by a 4.9% increase in retail prices.


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By volume sold, vegetables beat fruit, with a 2.1% increase, while fruit posted an increase of 1.4% over the same quarter in 2012.

In dollar sales, fruit outdid vegetables, increasing nearly 8% over the first quarter last year, with vegetable dollar growth coming in at 5.7%.

The report also includes these stand-out findings:

Nine out of 10 of the top 10 selling fruits posted dollar gains over first quarter 2012, with citrus, melon, specialty fruit and apples chalking up double-digit gains, mostly related to price increases, the research showed, and half of the top 10 vegetable categories gained both in dollar and volume sales.

Read more: Whole Foods Imagines Produce Department Without Bees

The report also showed sales gains for organic and value-added fruits and vegetables. Organic fruits increased 24.4% in dollar sales, and organic vegetables showed an increase of 14.9%.

Value-added fruits increased in dollar and volume sales by 10.7% and 2.9%, respectively.

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With Recent Victories, Movement to Label GMOs Gains Steam

More than six months after a big defeat in California, the movement to label foods containing genetically modified organisms appears to be picking up steam across the country.

In the past three weeks, Connecticut and Maine passed labeling bills, the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the first time approved a non-GMO label claim for meat products, Chipotle began voluntarily labeling menu items containing GMO ingredients online, and, perhaps most notably, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration funding to label genetically modified salmon if the agency approves the fish.

These are all small steps compared to what California’s Proposition 37 would have accomplished – since that state consumes about 8 percent of all groceries in the United States, some speculated that food giants would have reformulated their products to avoid creating two supply chains – but the string of victories has many in the so-called ‘Right to Know’ movement confident the tide is turning in their favor.

“It’s simply a matter of time,” said Scott Faber, who serves as executive director of Just Label It, a national advocacy campaign. Faber, who is vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, used to be a lobbyist for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which actively lobbies against mandatory labeling initiatives.

Faber believes mandated GMO labeling is inevitable, in part because the food industry would prefer federal standards over a patchwork of state laws.

“I think companies are starting to realize the fight is worse than the label,” he added, noting that campaigns against labeling can harm consumer confidence for certain brands. Some consumers, for example, who buy brands like Cascadian Farm, Kashi, Horizon Organic, Muir Glen, and Odwalla were outraged last fall after learning the companies’ corporate owners had helped fund the effort to defeat Prop 37.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association said in a statement that it remains opposed to “special mandatory labeling for food products containing genetically modified ingredients because these labels could mislead consumers into believing that ingredients from genetically engineered plants are somehow different or unsafe or unhealthy – in clear contradiction of scientific fact.”

GMA points out that ingredients derived from GM plants have been widely studied and are considered safe by FDA and groups like the American Medical Association. According to the association, foods with genetically modified ingredients make up 70 to 8o percent of the products on grocery store shelves “because they require fewer pesticides, help foods have a longer shelf life and keep production costs down” which reduces food costs for consumers.

The group has been actively engaged in the labeling issue and contributed $ 2 million to help defeat Prop 37, which ultimately went down 51 to 48 percent. In total, $ 9.2 million was spent in support of the proposition and $ 46 million was spent opposing it.

In a speech last summer to the American Soybean Association, GMA CEO Pam Bailey said, “Defeating the initative is GMA’s single highest priority this year,” according to an account in the Hagstrom Report. “We have worked with you on what we consider to be valuable technology, but in the past year we have seen an increase in the rhetoric against it.”

Bailey said the current movement for labeling is stronger than past attempts. “Social media is feeding this effort and making it more difficult to confront and more powerful,” she said, according to the report.

While momentum may by building for labeling advocates, their recent victories come with significant caveats.

The bills approved in Connecticut and Maine only kick in if other states, including a neighboring state, pass labeling requirements. Vermont’s house passed a bill to require labeling GMOs in May but the state senate is not expected to take up the same law until next year. Labeling legislation or ballot initiatives have been introduced in 25 other states, but it’s not clear which states might actually adopt them.

Baylen Linnekin, the executive director of Keep Food Legal, a libertarian group that advocates against government involvement in the food arena, said he thinks mandatory labeling is unnecessary and still faces significant challenges going forward.

“I would not say it’s inevitable,” said Linnekin, explaining that even if labeling laws succeed at the state level they would be challenged in court.

In a recent column for Reason, Linnekin argued the government should stay out of the labeling business: “The truth is that most federal labeling schemes are flawed at best, and often involve conflicts and compromises that rob meaning from the label.”

On the other hand, Linnekin applauds the voluntary actions by companies like Whole Foods, which announced earlier this year it will require GMO labeling in its stores by 2018, and McDonalds and Starbucks, which both recently adopted calorie labeling on their menus.

The non-GMO label approved by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service last week – the first GMO-related claim allowed on U.S. meat, poultry and some processed egg packages – and Chipotle’s decision to note which foods contain GMOs on their online menu are prime examples of voluntary moves to meet niche consumer demands.

According to the New York Times, FSIS approved the label – which can be used on meat and liquid eggs from animals fed only non-GMO feed – after three meat companies petitioned for similar claims. The claim will be certified by the Non-GMO Project.

Private sector labels to help consumers avoid products containing GM ingredients have taken off in recent years. The Non-GMO Project, the leading third-party certifier in North America for non-GMO claims, said interest in certification has increased four-fold in the past year alone as Prop 37 and Whole Foods announcement has raised consumer awareness about GMOs. The group now certifies more than 10,000 products.

“These days you can walk into a gas station and find Non-GMO verified products,” said Courtney Pineau, assistant director of the project.

Despite the explosion in voluntary labeling, advocates want a national law.

While there are labeling bills in both chambers, no one expects Congress will approve them anytime soon. In May, the U.S. Senate voted on a bill by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that would have required GMO labeling nationwide, but the measure failed by a vote of 71 to 27.

The closest that advocates have come to mandatory, national GMO labeling of any kind, was last week when the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 15 to 14 to give the FDA $ 150,000 to implement labeling for GM salmon if the agency gives the fish a green light, which it is expected to do.

FDA has said it would not require the GM salmon to be labeled, which is consistent with the agency’s policy that GM foods are not materially different from non-GM foods. Some advocates think this decision has driven more consumers to support labeling efforts.

A Change.org petition asking FDA to require labeling for the modified salmon garnered nearly 25,000 signatures and consumer campaigns pressured Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Target, Giant Eagle, and 50 other retailers to promise they wont sell the fish even if the FDA approves it.

A handful of U.S. lawmakers, mostly from states like Alaska, Washington and Oregon, whose wild salmon fisheries are highly lucrative, have opposed approving the GM salmon and have argued that if the fish is approved it should be labeled as a GMO. The labeling amendment that succeeded in the Senate Appropriations Committee was co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). In the House, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) has made similar attempts at mandating labeling for GM salmon.

Colin O’Neil, a regulatory analyst for the Center for Food Safety, an anti-GMO advocacy group, called the amendment “a big step forward for labeling in this country.”

The group said it’s not aware of efforts to strip the Begich-Murkowski amendment from the appropriations bill, but said that it would be closely monitoring the bill when it eventually goes to conference to be reconciled with the House version because “we have not seen something like this get that far before.”

Food Safety News

Publix posts Q2 sales, earnings gains

Publix Super Markets said Friday that sales for the second quarter of 2014 were $ 7.5 billion, a 6.6% increase from last year’s $ 7 billion. Sales for the second quarter of 2014 were positively impacted 1.3% due to the Easter holiday being in the second quarter of 2014 but the first quarter of 2013.

Net earnings improved 0.8% to $ 404.1 million. Comparable-store sales rose 6.3% during the quarter.

Publix’s net earnings for the first half of 2014 were $ 897.8 million, compared to $ 872.1 million in 2013, an increase of 2.9%. Sales were $ 15.3 billion, a 5.3% increase from last year’s $ 14.5 billion, and comparable-store sales  increased 5.1%.


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Publix’s stock price increased from $ 32.50 per share to $ 33.85 per share. Publix stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.

“This is our eight consecutive quarter with an increase in our stock price,” said Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw, in a statement. “Our associate owners deserve the credit for continuing to make us a leader in our industry.”

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Publix posts Q2 sales, earnings gains

Publix Super Markets said Friday that sales for the second quarter of 2014 were $ 7.5 billion, a 6.6% increase from last year’s $ 7 billion. Sales for the second quarter of 2014 were positively impacted 1.3% due to the Easter holiday being in the second quarter of 2014 but the first quarter of 2013.

Net earnings improved 0.8% to $ 404.1 million. Comparable-store sales rose 6.3% during the quarter.

Publix’s net earnings for the first half of 2014 were $ 897.8 million, compared to $ 872.1 million in 2013, an increase of 2.9%. Sales were $ 15.3 billion, a 5.3% increase from last year’s $ 14.5 billion, and comparable-store sales  increased 5.1%.


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Publix’s stock price increased from $ 32.50 per share to $ 33.85 per share. Publix stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.

“This is our eight consecutive quarter with an increase in our stock price,” said Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw, in a statement. “Our associate owners deserve the credit for continuing to make us a leader in our industry.”

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NZ sees more gains from fruitful Saudi trade links

Zespri launches Sungold
NZ sees more gains from fruitful Saudi trade links

New Zealand Ambassador Hamish MacMaster has reiterated the importance of Saudi Arabia for his country as a major economic partner.

“Saudi Arabia has been our largest trading partner in the GCC. More than 85 New Zealand companies export their products to the Kingdom, accounting for $ 500 million worth of exports to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The ambassador made his remarks as he led the recent launch of a new kiwifruit variety — Zespri Sungold — in Saudi Arabia at the New Zealand Embassy in Riyadh.
He said Saudi Arabia is the first GCC country where “we are launching Zespri Sungold kiwifruit. We’re expecting the arrival of several tons of the fruit in a few days’ time.”

The New Zealand envoy said he expects the fruit to help increase his country’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia which amounts to $ 1.5 billion.

“Our exports to the Kingdom totals $ 600 million and our imports touch $ 900 million. Our exports include food and dairy products while we import mainly energy from Saudi Arabia,” he said.

He said that the introduction of the new kiwifruit variety is a “new milestone in our bilateral relationship with the Kingdom which started in the 1980s.”

Ben Hughes, Zespri International Limited’s regional manager for the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and India, added that Zespri is one of the world’s largest marketer of kiwi fruit, with the Zespri brand recognized as the world leader.
“Based in New Zealand, Zespri are 100 percent owned by kiwifruit growers, employing almost 300 people. We represent 2,700 growers and manage kiwifruit innovation, production, distribution management and marketing of all varieties of Zespri kiwifruit,” he said.

“Our success around the world is built on solid foundations, working with great people and experienced distributors who understand local conditions and the markets in which they operate,” he said.

He said: “Saudi Arabia is the classic example of this where Zespri is partnering with the Mohammed Abdallah Sharbatly Co. Ltd. which has 10 branches across the Kingdom and throughout the GCC.”

Source: arabnews.com

Publication date: 6/6/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Newly merged SpartanNash posts Q3 gains

In its first time reporting as a merged company, SpartanNash on Wednesday said its sales and profits improved in the most recent quarter, excluding charges related to the merger.

Adjusted earnings from continuing operations were $ 11.1 million for the most recent third quarter, compared with $ 4.9 million in the year-ago period. Including one-time charges, the company posted a loss of about $ 14 million for the 15-week quarter, which ended Dec. 28.


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Consolidated net sales for the 15-week third quarter increased 69.1% to $ 1.3 billion, primarily due to $ 563.2 million in sales from Nash Finch generated as a result of the merger, comparable-store sales gains of 0.7% and the impact of new distribution customers, partially offset by $ 46.1 million in sales for an extra week in the year-ago quarter. Excluding the impact of the extra week last year and contributions from the merger, sales would have increased about 3.8%.

Distribution sales increased 63.5% to $ 565.8 million in the recent third quarter due to $ 224.6 million in sales from Nash Finch, as well as new business gains, partially offset by the extra week of sales last year. Excluding the impact of the extra week last year and contributions from Nash Finch, distribution sales would have increased 4.3%.

Retail sales were up 17.4% to $ 520.9 million, due to $ 90 million in sales generated as a result of the merger, as well as the previously disclosed acquisition of a grocery store and fuel center in the year-ago third quarter and the 0.7% increase in comps, excluding fuel, partially offset by $ 2.7 million in fewer sales due to the closure of certain stores and $ 27.3 million in sales for the extra week in last year’s third quarter. Excluding the impact of the extra week a year ago and contributions from the merger, retail sales rose 3.5%.

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Click-and-collect gains momentum

One of the key skills that Kroger Co. hopes to gain from its acquisition of Harris Teeter, completed at the end of January, is in the way it executes its online grocery offering, Kroger executives said. Harris Teeter’s click-and-collect service, called Express Lane, is one of the industry’s longest-standing examples of shopping online and picking up at the store. “I’d be shocked if we couldn’t do that at a significant number of stores,” Rodney McMullen, …

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Click-and-collect gains momentum

One of the key skills that Kroger Co. hopes to gain from its acquisition of Harris Teeter, completed at the end of January, is in the way it executes its online grocery offering, Kroger executives said. Harris Teeter’s click-and-collect service, called Express Lane, is one of the industry’s longest-standing examples of shopping online and picking up at the store. “I’d be shocked if we couldn’t do that at a significant number of stores,” Rodney McMullen, …

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Registering for Premium Content on Supermarket News will give you INSTANT access to invaluable articles and media content that industry professionals rely on. You will have access to our special reports, feature articles, and industry analysis. It’s FREE, easy and quick.  What are you waiting for!

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Delhaize drives Q4 sales gains

Delhaize Group said Thursday that sales volumes at U.S. banners Food Lion and Hannaford increased during the fourth quarter, despite a deflationary environment.


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Total sales in the U.S. increased 2.6% to $ 4.3 billion in the quarter, with comparable-store sales increasing by 2.8% despite the effect of negative inflation of 0.4%. The sales growth was sparked in part by price investments and increased promotions. Performance was especially strong at Food Lion, where the company has now completed a program of repositioning stores with lower everyday prices.

For the full year, Delhaize generated U.S. revenues of $ 17.1 billion, an increase of 1.9% over 2012, supported by comparable-store sales growth of 2%. The company will release earnings for the quarter and fiscal year on March 13.

“In the U.S., where volume growth continued to be positive, we were especially pleased with Food Lion’s momentum,” Frans Muller, Delhaize’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The phase repositioning, started almost 3 years ago, is meeting our expectations and we look forward to further develop Food Lion’s customer proposition this year.”

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New Business Sparks Spartan Q2 Gains

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Spartan Stores here on Wednesday said new customers and organic sales growth contributed to increased sales for the fiscal second quarter, while net earnings were down slightly.


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Consolidated net sales for the period, which ended Sept. 14, increased 4.5% to $ 649.5 million, boosted in part by contributions from a recent acquisition in the retail segment and new customers in the distribution segment. The sales increase reflected a 4.7% increase in distribution sales of $ 271.4 million; and retail sales of $ 378.1 million, a 4.4% increase. Retail same-store sales, excluding fuel, increased by 0.2%.

Net earnings for the period of $ 10.1 million decreased by 1.9%. Adjusted earnings from continuing operations totaled $ 12.1 million, which was ahead of the company’s forecast, Dennis Eidson, chief executive officer, said in a statement. Adjusted earnings account for merger expenses associated with Spartan’s pending acquisition of Nash Finch; and an asset impairment charge taken in the second quarter last year.

Read more: Spartan-Nash Finch Deal Clears FTC

“Despite a lack of meaningful food inflation, we posted top- and bottom-line gains in both our retail and distribution segments due to strong execution across our business segments, the effectiveness of our promotion programs and focus on cost control,” Eidson said. “We will continue to invest in the consumer experience to ensure a broad assortment of brand name and private brand products and encourage sales in our retail and distribution channels.”

Gross profit margin for the quarter was flat compared to the second quarter of the prior year at 21%. The gross profit margin reflects modest inflation in distribution segment and improved fuel margins.

During the second quarter, the company opened one Valu Land store, completed five minor remodels and store re-banners and acquired one pharmacy, ending the quarter with 102 corporate stores and 30 fuel centers.

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Supervalu Cites Save-A-Lot Gains

MINNEAPOLIS — Supervalu here said Thursday that it believes it is gaining some momentum at its limited-assortment Save-A-Lot banner. In a conference call with analysts discussing second-quarter results, Sam Duncan, Supervalu’s chief executive officer, said, “It is readily apparent that the changes [Save-A-Lot CEO] Ritchie Casteel and his team are implementing — namely the continued rollout of fresh-cut meat to our corporate stores, Center Store resets, improved …

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Supervalu Ekes Out Q2 Sales Gains

MINNEAPOLIS — Supervalu here said Thursday that second-quarter sales and profits improved over year-ago results due to cost controls and gains from its service agreements with the retail stores it sold to Albertsons.

The company said net income from continuing operations, adjusted for one-time gains and charges, was $ 33 million, vs. a loss from continuing operations of $ 20 million in the year-go period. Second-quarter sales totaled $ 3.95 billion, vs. $ 3.94 billion in the year-ago quarter, buoyed by $ 62 million from the service agreements with the former stores.


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Sales declined at each of the company three main operating divisions — wholesale, retail and Save-A-Lot.

Wholesale sales were down 1.6%, to $ 1.84 billion, which the company attributed to lower sales to existing customers, including military, offset in part by net new business. Operating earnings improved by 40 basis points, however, to 3.2% of sales, or $ 59 million, due to higher gross margins and lower logistics costs.

Save-A-Lot sales fell 0.1%, to $ 972 million, reflecting the impact of overall identical store-sales declines of 0.3%, partially offset by the impact from new stores. ID sales for corporate Save-A-Lot stores were up 4.6%. Adjusted operating earnings were 3.7% of sales, or $ 37 million, vs. $ 33 million, or 3.5% of sales a year ago.

Read more: Supervalu Slows Sales Erosion in Q1

Retail food sales were down 1.1%, to $ 1.07 billion, reflecting negative IDs of 0.9%. Retail operating earnings were $ 7 million, or 0.7% of sales, vs. $ 12 million, or 1.1% of sales in the year-ago quarter. The company attributed the decline to incremental investment in price and store labor partially offset by the benefit from cost-cutting initiatives and lower depreciation expense.

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Drug Stores Lead September Gains

NEW YORK — Sales at the nation’s drug stores rose 6% in September, leading all retail channels, according to a report Thursday from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Overall, U.S. chain-store sales posted gains of 4% for the month, compared to year-ago results. Excluding gas, sales were actually up 5.1%.


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“The biggest story line here is that the September performance was led by the drug-store segment, posting its strongest monthly showing since April 2007,” said Michael P. Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for ICSC. “This seemingly heralds the full recovery of this segment after an extended period of weakness due to several mitigating factors.”

In April 2007 the drug-store segment had a 6.7% sales gain. Apparel was the weakest performing segment in September, posting a 0.1% gain.

For October, ICSC research projects that comparable-store sales will increase between 3% and 4% — although the group cautioned that the federal government shutdown does have the potential to curb spending during the month, “biasing the October expectations to a slightly weaker performance even on the heels of a strong gain in September.”

The ICSC data combines comparable- or same-store sales and total store sales for publicly traded retailers to calculate an index.

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Drug Stores Lead September Gains

NEW YORK — Sales at the nation’s drug stores rose 6% in September, leading all retail channels, according to a report Thursday from the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Overall, U.S. chain-store sales posted gains of 4% for the month, compared to year-ago results. Excluding gas, sales were actually up 5.1%.


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“The biggest story line here is that the September performance was led by the drug-store segment, posting its strongest monthly showing since April 2007,” said Michael P. Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for ICSC. “This seemingly heralds the full recovery of this segment after an extended period of weakness due to several mitigating factors.”

In April 2007 the drug-store segment had a 6.7% sales gain. Apparel was the weakest performing segment in September, posting a 0.1% gain.

For October, ICSC research projects that comparable-store sales will increase between 3% and 4% — although the group cautioned that the federal government shutdown does have the potential to curb spending during the month, “biasing the October expectations to a slightly weaker performance even on the heels of a strong gain in September.”

The ICSC data combines comparable- or same-store sales and total store sales for publicly traded retailers to calculate an index.

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