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ShopRite’s virtual supermarkets serve Baltimore’s food deserts

Baltimore’s Virtual Supermarket Program, a nationally award-winning program that increases food access in neighborhoods designated as food deserts by providing online ordering and delivery options, has recently expanded.

The Virtual Supermarket Program — the flagship component of Baltimarket, the Baltimore City Health Department’s suite of community-based food access and food justice programs — enables residents to place grocery orders online, and offers free delivery to designated community sites. Residents can pay for groceries using cash, credit, debit or EBT/SNAP. Baltimore’s Virtual Supermarket is the first community-based program in the country to accept EBT/SNAP for online grocery ordering and delivery.

ShopRite of Howard Park, MD, is the second ShopRite store to partner with the Baltimore City Health Department to offer the Virtual Supermarket Program. This past summer, the Virtual Supermarket Program was re-launched in partnership with ShopRite of Glen Burnie, MD, which is operated by Collins Family Markets.

“My family and I are committed to serving the community by providing fresh food at great prices, and we are excited to extend this service to our Baltimore neighbors through the Virtual Supermarket Program,” Marshall Klein, vice president of retail operations for Klein’s Family Markets, which owns and operates nine ShopRite stores in Maryland, said in a press release. “Customers placing online orders will receive all of ShopRite’s weekly sales and traditional low prices, and each order will be hand selected by our team of personal shoppers. We are proud to join the Baltimarket program in its mission to provide fresh, healthy food to the City of Baltimore.”

“This expansion is about making life better for too many Baltimore City families who lack easy access to groceries, more than 30,000 of which are our children,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “That is absolutely unacceptable to me. In partnership with our community and business partners, we are taking action to help residents in some of our most challenged neighborhoods access healthy foods to feed their families.”

Approximately 20 percent of Baltimore City residents live in food deserts, which are defined as areas where the distance to a supermarket exceeds a fourth of a mile, where the median household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and over 40 percent of households lack access to a vehicle.

“Access to healthy foods is vital to the prevention and control of chronic disease, so expanding the Virtual Supermarket Program to even more Baltimore families is excellent news as we strive to provide healthier and more cost-effective food options across the city,” said Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey, interim health commissioner for Baltimore City.

“This virtual supermarket will be a tremendous resource to the residents of Perkins Homes and the surrounding community,” said Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano. “The ability for our seniors, families and children to have access to healthy and nutritious foods is a necessity that will greatly improve their quality of life.”

“Since Perkins Housing development is in the middle of a food desert, it is vital that our residents have access to fresh meats and produce,” said Travis Street, site manager and coordinator for POWER House, Living Classrooms Foundation. “The Virtual Supermarket Program, in partnership with the ShopRite of Howard Park, is helping our community to bridge the gap for eating better and living longer.”

The Virtual Supermarket is made possible through the support of United Way of Central Maryland and the Kaiser Foundation. The Baltimarket.org website is made possible through the support of the Delmarva Foundation.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

ShopRite’s virtual supermarkets serve Baltimore’s food deserts

Baltimore’s Virtual Supermarket Program, a nationally award-winning program that increases food access in neighborhoods designated as food deserts by providing online ordering and delivery options, has recently expanded.

The Virtual Supermarket Program — the flagship component of Baltimarket, the Baltimore City Health Department’s suite of community-based food access and food justice programs — enables residents to place grocery orders online, and offers free delivery to designated community sites. Residents can pay for groceries using cash, credit, debit or EBT/SNAP. Baltimore’s Virtual Supermarket is the first community-based program in the country to accept EBT/SNAP for online grocery ordering and delivery.

ShopRite of Howard Park, MD, is the second ShopRite store to partner with the Baltimore City Health Department to offer the Virtual Supermarket Program. This past summer, the Virtual Supermarket Program was re-launched in partnership with ShopRite of Glen Burnie, MD, which is operated by Collins Family Markets.

“My family and I are committed to serving the community by providing fresh food at great prices, and we are excited to extend this service to our Baltimore neighbors through the Virtual Supermarket Program,” Marshall Klein, vice president of retail operations for Klein’s Family Markets, which owns and operates nine ShopRite stores in Maryland, said in a press release. “Customers placing online orders will receive all of ShopRite’s weekly sales and traditional low prices, and each order will be hand selected by our team of personal shoppers. We are proud to join the Baltimarket program in its mission to provide fresh, healthy food to the City of Baltimore.”

“This expansion is about making life better for too many Baltimore City families who lack easy access to groceries, more than 30,000 of which are our children,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “That is absolutely unacceptable to me. In partnership with our community and business partners, we are taking action to help residents in some of our most challenged neighborhoods access healthy foods to feed their families.”

Approximately 20 percent of Baltimore City residents live in food deserts, which are defined as areas where the distance to a supermarket exceeds a fourth of a mile, where the median household income is at or below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and over 40 percent of households lack access to a vehicle.

“Access to healthy foods is vital to the prevention and control of chronic disease, so expanding the Virtual Supermarket Program to even more Baltimore families is excellent news as we strive to provide healthier and more cost-effective food options across the city,” said Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey, interim health commissioner for Baltimore City.

“This virtual supermarket will be a tremendous resource to the residents of Perkins Homes and the surrounding community,” said Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano. “The ability for our seniors, families and children to have access to healthy and nutritious foods is a necessity that will greatly improve their quality of life.”

“Since Perkins Housing development is in the middle of a food desert, it is vital that our residents have access to fresh meats and produce,” said Travis Street, site manager and coordinator for POWER House, Living Classrooms Foundation. “The Virtual Supermarket Program, in partnership with the ShopRite of Howard Park, is helping our community to bridge the gap for eating better and living longer.”

The Virtual Supermarket is made possible through the support of United Way of Central Maryland and the Kaiser Foundation. The Baltimarket.org website is made possible through the support of the Delmarva Foundation.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Supermarkets experiment with vegetarian foodservice

Sep 29, 2014 By Jeff Wells

When Mariano’s opened its 23rd retail location this summer, the Chicagoland retailer introduced customers to a new foodservice concept that featured some traditional favorites. There were three kinds of burgers, pasta with marina sauce, and pizza. There were soups, salads and a generous dessert menu. The chocolate chip cookies, one visiting blogger noted, were delicious. Yet for all that was recognizable about the menu, there was one major distinction: All the food was vegan and …

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Supermarket News

Expo panel: New products face daunting journey to supermarkets

While new products are the lifeblood of the natural products industry, their journey from inspiration to distribution can be a long and difficult one. Those with any hope of succeeding on supermarket shelves need patience and capital in ready supply, and should arm themselves with knowledge of their category and their channel, according to a panel discussion at SN’s education track at Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore Wednesday.

Products also need to know themselves, argued Scott Silverman, VP of Growth Solutions at KeHE Distributors. He urged entrepreneurial manufacturers to come to market with a good brand story, an assembly of ingredients that speak to the product’s market niche, and a delivery system — unique or functional packaging — that ties it together. “The basics are critical,” he said.

Silverman said manufacturers need to maintain their focus as the market for new products is “intensely competitive.” KeHE, for example, currently has 1,900 active products in its salty snack range. A planogram of such items would be 314 feet long. “I’m saying that to underscore how competitive it is,” he said.

Mike Anderson, Acosta, and Scott Silverman, KeHE.Mike Anderson, president of natural and specialty sales at broker Acosta Sales and Marketing, said supermarkets have traditionally been difficult places to break in new items, noting that category managers in the channel are typically reluctant to swap out an item with a proven sales record for one that might not sell. However, he said, some retailers have more recently been willing to change.

“Used to be that you really had to prove yourself in a natural or specialty store to get recognized, but lately — in the last year or so — we’ve seen some supermarket retailers now willing to partner with early stage brands,” Anderson said. “They’re still pretty selective about what they do, but we’ve seen Target looking at early stage brands where they never have before. And Kroger has a number of stores where they’re willing to look at early stage brands, so there are more options today than there used to be.”

According to Silverman, reluctance is receding as retailers see opportunities to “leapfrog” one another as a means of differentiating themselves. Introducing new products tends to be more difficult when the category itself is new or when the product itself requires explanation. The sudden popularity of coconut water, for example, took most supermarket retailers by surprise, in part because the product didn’t easily click into an existing category.

These types of items — Anderson noted that raw food is a current example — tend to have more successful launches in the natural or specialty channels. Emerging brands often make the mistake of being too easily satisfied by reaching growth plateaus and need to continually invest in their growth to succeed in large channels, the panelists said.


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Similarly, success in a local market is no guarantee for geographic expansion. Anderson said local brands “need to be knocking it out of the park” locally to have a chance for success further afield. Emerging products should also increasingly look toward virtual channels of trade, noting that competition is growing at a time when store sizes and SKU counts are shrinking. Younger consumers, he added, have no problem adapting to that channel of trade.

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Supermarket News

Supermarkets urged to take high road on wellness

Supermarkets need to step up their games in the face of mixed consumer reactions to their health and wellness efforts.

That’s the opinion of Phil Lempert, The Supermarket Guru, who urged new approaches during a presentation at SN‘s educational event during Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore.

Phil Lempert tells an Expo East audience that supermarkets need to “take the lead” in health and wellness. (Photo by Kate Patterson)He outlined the mixed results of a recent consumer survey his organization conducted for SN Whole Health. In the survey, about half of respondents rated their supermarkets only fair in selection of natural, organic and better-for-you products and in servicing their desire to eat healthier.

“Where’s the disconnect, we’re only delivering fair,” he said.

Supermarkets need to act at a time when they are facing a range of challenges across their businesses, from shrinking store sizes to increased retail competition and the growth of online-only rivals.

“I’ve never seen in my career as many changes in the supermarket industry,” he said. “And it’s going to get worse in the next five years.”

Part of the solution on the wellness front is for supermarkets to embrace the role of being the trusted party because consumers are confused about the facts, on issues such as GMO labeling, he said.

“Supermarkets have the opportunity to offer unbiased, factual, traceable information, and very few are doing it,” he explained.

“Some huge chains with thousands of stores have only one or two registered dietitians for the entire chain. So the message isn’t getting out to consumers.”


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Supermarkets also need to be honest and proactive in communicating their local products initiatives, he added.

“Consumers are confused about sustainability, local and fresh,” he said. “We need clearer definitions. Supermarkets need to be truthful.

“Let’s take the lead on health and nutrition traceability.”

Lempert said the industry can learn from Walmart’s tough approach in making sure it meets sustainability goals.

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Supermarket News

Four crucial wellness questions for supermarkets

Supermarkets are making big advances in health and wellness but haven’t figured it all out.

Natural Products Expo East, which runs Sept. 17-20 in Baltimore, is a good place to make progress.

That’s because Expo’s exhibition and educational sessions bring together important insights for retailers. Moreover, SN will hold a half-day educational event there on the morning of the 17th. Our event will help answer a number of timely questions related to supermarkets and wellness. Here are four I would especially point to:

1-What do shoppers think about supermarket performance?

I’ll give you a hint: The news isn’t all good. Shoppers are sometimes quite critical of how supermarkets execute on wellness strategies, pointing to high prices and associates who aren’t always knowledgeable about products, according to a newly released SN consumer survey. Shoppers are trying to step up their own health behaviors and they expect stores to do the same. At SN’s event this week, Phil Lempert,  The Supermarket Guru and contributing editor for SN, will present the results of this survey, which he conducted for SN Whole Health.

2-What’s hot at retail and what’s next?

Wellness trends would be a lot easier to understand if they weren’t moving so quickly. Retailers need to react fast because emerging categories can peak and wane in a short period of time. To help supermarkets respond, SN’s event will include a presentation that showcases the trajectory of trends ranging from protein to special diets, using proprietary tools. The focus will be on the current status of these trends and where things are headed. Speakers include those from FoodEssentials and New Hope Natural Media.

3-How can wellness strategies help transform a supermarket retailer?

Many retailers are trying to figure out whether merchandising healthy products and services  can make a significant and sustained difference in their businesses.

There are some good case studies to point to, and one of the best is Wakefern Food Corp., the winner of SN’s 2014 Whole Health Enterprise Award. That wholesaler and its member retailers have infused wellness strategies into their operations using their knowledge of local shoppers. Attendees at SN’s event will see a Wakefern executive accept the award and a follow-up panel spotlight the company’s achievements.

4-What are the latest opportunities for natural and organic brands at supermarkets?

Small- to medium-sized brands have a lot to learn about working with supermarkets. It’s a lot different than supplying natural food stores. In fact, terms like partnership and collaboration have very specific meanings in the supermarket space. SN’s event will include a session in which distribution and brokerage executives will explain the supermarket retail territory to brands.

Expo East is actually produced by SN’s parent company, Penton. I encourage you to attend SN’s event and stay over for Expo East. We’ll be reporting the news from Baltimore in the coming days so stay tuned.

Supermarket News

Why today’s supermarkets need to sell food-for-now as well as food-for-later

In this market, the only way to grow at more than 1% or 2% is to take business from someone else.

One area where food retailers are stealing share is from what we’ve traditionally called foodservice, i.e. the restaurant business. We see the distinction between food retail and foodservice blurring as busy, time-starved shoppers buy food-for-now and food-for-later in the same place — and the retailers who are serving them are generating new sales growth. Some shoppers are moving online where they can order meals and meal solutions for home delivery from Blue Apron, Plated, HelloFresh, etc.

Selling fully prepared meals and/or fully assembled meal ingredients may not be a brand new idea — after all, retailers like Wegmans have been doing it for years — but I believe now is the time to make it a part of redefining the modern supermarket offering.

You can see this play out at the Village ShopRite near Morristown, N.J., where the broad array of prepared foods ranges from Italian to barbecue for carryout. There’s also a comfortable eat-in seating area. Now customers have a whole new set of reasons to visit the store.

Mariano’s in Chicagoland offers something similar. There, it isn’t unusual to see customers go to the store to get something to eat and do their grocery shopping afterwards.

Blending foodservice with food retail takes work, but if this is where shoppers are headed, food retailers need to decide if they want to go with them — and if not, ask themselves how they’ll offset the dollars that shoppers are diverting to prepared and assembled meals.

Where have you seen food retailers succeed with a food-for-now and food-for-later offering? What do you think holds others back?

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Supermarket News

Concerns about low wages behind Moroccan tomatoes sold in European supermarkets

Female Moroccan tomato pickers living in poverty:
Concerns about low wages behind Moroccan tomatoes sold in European supermarkets

Fairfood International’s newest report exposes the poverty wages paid to workers in the Moroccan tomato sector. These tomatoes are picked and packed by tens of thousands of workers who do not receive a living wage for their arduous work. The fruit is then sold by European supermarkets who receive the lion’s share of the profits.

Fairfood’s report The fruits of their labour – The low wages behind Moroccan tomatoes sold in European supermarkets was published on 9th September 2014 and is an initiative of Fairfood’s Morocco ‘hotspot’ project. This project has conducted research in the Souss Massa Drâa region: one of the main sources of tomatoes for many European supermarkets during the winter months.

This report ties in with Fairfood’s upcoming Living Wage campaign, which sees a living wage – a wage sufficient for the basic needs of workers and their families, such as food, clothing, healthcare and education – as a human right.

The key issues in the report are:

  •     In winter, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Albert Heijn and other European supermarkets sell tomatoes which are sourced from Morocco.
  •     They are picked and packed by tens of thousands Moroccan workers, mainly female, who earn painfully low wages.
  •     Moroccan tomato pickers and packers earn between 5 and 8 Euro a day, while their costs of living are around 15 Euro a day. Therefore they are unable to make ends meet and must live in poverty
  •     Supermarkets have the power and influence to determine what consumers buy, as well as how and under what conditions the food is produced
  •     Fairfood calls upon supermarkets to take up their responsibility and to ensure a living wage for all their workers in their supply chains


Click here to read the complete report (PDF)

Publication date: 9/9/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Concerns about low wages behind Moroccan tomatoes sold in European supermarkets

Female Moroccan tomato pickers living in poverty:
Concerns about low wages behind Moroccan tomatoes sold in European supermarkets

Fairfood International’s newest report exposes the poverty wages paid to workers in the Moroccan tomato sector. These tomatoes are picked and packed by tens of thousands of workers who do not receive a living wage for their arduous work. The fruit is then sold by European supermarkets who receive the lion’s share of the profits.

Fairfood’s report The fruits of their labour – The low wages behind Moroccan tomatoes sold in European supermarkets was published on 9th September 2014 and is an initiative of Fairfood’s Morocco ‘hotspot’ project. This project has conducted research in the Souss Massa Drâa region: one of the main sources of tomatoes for many European supermarkets during the winter months.

This report ties in with Fairfood’s upcoming Living Wage campaign, which sees a living wage – a wage sufficient for the basic needs of workers and their families, such as food, clothing, healthcare and education – as a human right.

The key issues in the report are:

  •     In winter, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Albert Heijn and other European supermarkets sell tomatoes which are sourced from Morocco.
  •     They are picked and packed by tens of thousands Moroccan workers, mainly female, who earn painfully low wages.
  •     Moroccan tomato pickers and packers earn between 5 and 8 Euro a day, while their costs of living are around 15 Euro a day. Therefore they are unable to make ends meet and must live in poverty
  •     Supermarkets have the power and influence to determine what consumers buy, as well as how and under what conditions the food is produced
  •     Fairfood calls upon supermarkets to take up their responsibility and to ensure a living wage for all their workers in their supply chains


Click here to read the complete report (PDF)

Publication date: 9/9/2014


FreshPlaza.com

McDonald’s coffee headed for supermarkets

McDonald’s and Kraft plan to launch McCafé-brand packaged coffee in supermarkets and other food retailers nationwide beginning in early 2015. The national follows market tests.

“We understand there is huge demand for at home options and we’ve built great success with our McCafé coffee in restaurants. So, it was a natural next step to provide customers with McCafé coffee to enjoy in their own home,” Greg Watson, SVP, McDonald’s U.S. Menu Innovation, said in a statement.


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Made with 100% Arabica beans, the McCafé packaged coffees will be available in ground and whole bean 12-ounce bags. Among the flavors: Breakfast Blend, French Roast, Colombian and Premium Roast Decaf. Single-cup pods will also be available.

“By tapping into the loyal McCafé fan base already built by McDonald’s and leveraging our deep coffee category expertise here at Kraft, we have the ability to reach a larger audience than ever before, really giving this brand room to thrive,” said Nina Barton, VP of coffee for Kraft Foods, said in a statement.

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United Supermarkets to debut new look at remodeled store

Guests of United Supermarkets’ Snyder, TX, location will soon see a fresh new look along with added services resulting from a store remodeling effort now under way.

The project is set for completion in late July, according to Chris James, regional vice president of United Supermarkets, LLC.

UnitednewlogoGuests will enjoy several new product offerings, resulting from their feedback at the Snyder location, James said. They include the addition of a salad bar, hot grill in the deli and an expanded dollar section.

“The addition of the grill means we will be able to provide our guests with hot sandwiches for the first time,” James said. “Our salad bars are extremely popular in other locations, so we anticipate that will be a big hit with our Snyder guests as well.”

Guests will also notice a brand-new décor package featuring vivid colors that are “active and engaging,” according to Monica Schierbaum, senior director of marketing for United Supermarkets LLC.

The Snyder location will be the first store to receive the new décor – as well as the new United logo.

“We are excited about the new look we are introducing this year for our United brand, and we are thrilled to be rolling it out first in our Snyder store,” Schierbaum said.

The most noticeable change to the new logo is the addition of a single star at the center, emblematic of the Lone Star State.

“We are a Texas company, and we’ve always been inspired by the spirit, independence and self-sufficiency of Texans,” Schierbaum said. “We’ve got small towns in our heart, and we want our stores to reflect the warmth and generosity you find in a small Texas town.”

Texas references will be evident throughout the Snyder store following completion of the remodeling effort, which also will include the addition of a mural in the entrance featuring images of the Snyder community.

The most striking feature, she added, will be a stylized tree, which will be suspended over the produce department.

“The tree will be the store landmark – a gathering place for our guests,” Schierbaum added.

The décor package also will include all new graphics and signage throughout the store.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Retail View: Supermarkets must adapt to survive

Recently, publicly traded Safeway Stores put itself up for sale and found a suitor. Many looked at the sale and opined that the mega-supermarket format has passed it prime, with the firm being worth more to investors if it is sold and broken into pieces than if it continues to operate as one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains.

A couple of supermarket experts weighed in on the subject and agreed that adapting and changing to the current set of circumstances in the United States is the key to success in the retail food industry.Lempert1Phil Lempert

“Through history and for many years, people have decried the death of the supermarket format,” said food industry consultant Frank Dell, president of Dellmart & Co., a Connecticut-based firm. “But they have survived. What is dead is what I call the 8-80 marketing concept.”

He explained that supermarkets were founded on the concept of being everything to everybody. They were there to fill the shopping needs of everybody from 8 to 80.

“That concept has been outdated for 20 years,” Dell said.

Yet some retailers continue to cling to the idea and they have trouble surviving. But many others do not. They find their niche and prosper.

“Unless you are the only store in town, the 8-80 marketing concept doesn’t work,” he said.

He said there are many different formats serving consumers today including high-end stores, limited-assortment formats, discounts stores, dollar stores, super centers and general merchandise stores. Even convenience stores and drug stores have gotten into the business of providing milk, coffee, cereal and other grocery essentials. No format has a corner on the market.

To survive, he said food retailers have to do two things.

“You have to understand your customer and know who you want your customer to be,” he said. “And you have to quit complaining about your losses. You can’t be all things to all people. Figure out what you do best and do that.”

Another longtime observer of the supermarket industry is Phil Lempert, who bills himself the “Supermarket Guru” and writes under that moniker. He has a harsher assessment of the mega-supermarket chain, but his opinions are very similar to Dell’s.

“The days of the 40,000- to 60,000-square-foot supermarket are over,” said Lempert. “We are going to see a lot more butcher shops and specialty stores that offer consumers a food experience.“

Lempert believes smaller, regional chains that can tailor their offerings to the local clientele will prosper, but the national supermarket will have trouble. Those operations are seeing their sales cannibalized from all ends. He said Target and Walmart are taking their price-sensitive shoppers while Trader Joe’s and Aldi’s are taking the customers looking for that food shopping experience.

Though both men said the national chains’ days are numbered, they did express optimism about Kroger’s chances to survive.

“Kroger has brilliant customer data analysis,” said Lempert. “That has kept them alive, but they should be looking at what’s next. In the past 10 years, the conventional supermarket has lost 15 percent of its market share and that is going to continue. That model is broken and is going out of business.”

Dell agreed that Kroger is a very good operation that has invested its profits wisely and continues to innovate. He said it will need to do so to continue to prosper.

Both men also pointed to a new entry to the food shopping game that could be a game changer: home delivery. While home delivery has not done well since it surfaced more than a decade ago, Dell believes it will make inroads with high-end shoppers.

“The trouble is the delivery part,” he said. “It is just very expensive.”

However, he said Amazon is making a run at it and could be successful. “Everyone is all excited about the millennials, but don’t forget the baby boomers. They are still the largest buying block and their driver’s licenses are soon to be taken away [as they age]. Home delivery can be successful, but it is going to be higher-priced.”

Lempert said both Amazon and Google see home delivery of groceries as an area of growth and he wouldn’t bet against them. He believes that is another format that will take sales away from the traditional supermarket.

It is this incremental shaving of supermarket market share that Lempert sees as problematic for that format. Dollar stores grew sales during the recession, he said, and then “got a little lazy and have taken a hit since then.”

But he said they have started to figure out their role. Because of their constantly changing product line, Lempert said “they provide people with an adventure.” He said they need to capitalize on that niche and continue to find innovative items for their shoppers.

He also believes Target is going to make big inroads, especially with its “Archer Farms” brand. He said they have a great opportunity to expand that brand and sell more perishables.

Dell also likes Target’s entry into groceries and believes the retailer will continue to grow that segment of their business.

It is in the area of perishables where Dell sees the more traditional supermarkets making their mark. And he said that’s a good thing, as fresh produce, meat and other perimeter-store sections have higher margins. The center-store items are the main thing offered by alternative formats, and they are least profitable for traditional supermarkets, he said.

If a supermarket can capitalize on the perishables, which they can do better than the general merchandise stores or discounters, he believes they can continue to play an important role for the U.S. consumer.

Both men also had good things to say about the Fresh & Easy format that England’s Tesco couldn’t quite get right.

“I was very disappointed in what Tesco did with Fresh & Easy,” said Dell. “They had a nice small format with great products but their decorations sucked.”

He said the color scheme and layout of the stores were all wrong for U.S. shoppers and they moved much too quickly on their own private label without letting it grow organically. He predicted that someone else will put a better face on the package and will be successful.

Similarly, Lempert likes the size of the Fresh & Easy stores and believes a well-known banner such as Wild Oats could make them very successful.

Speaking of some other formats, Lempert said the problem in declining profits that has been publicized about Whole Foods is all about markup.

While conventional supermarkets survive on 1.5 percent net margin, Whole Foods has had net margins of around 8 percent. That has been very difficult to maintain as competition increases.

He believes the rise of ethnic chains will continue in areas where the demographics warrant it. However, he did warn that ethnic groups tend to acculturate into American eating habits very quickly and are soon looking for many of the same items as their Anglo counterparts.

Dell made the same point, stating that many of the ethnic markets in the Southern California region that he has studied have found that for continued growth they need to carry more traditional items to satisfy their customers, including the Anglos shopping their stores.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Publix, Costco and Sprouts rated top supermarkets, Walmart ranks lowest

When it comes to supermarkets, biggest isn’t always best. In Consumer Reports‘ latest survey, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Publix, Costco and Sprouts earned the highest scores overall among 55 of the nation’s major grocery stores; Walmart, the largest grocer in the United States, landed at the bottom of the ratings, based on a survey of 27,208 subscribers.

The report, which includes the entire ratings of grocery stores and tips for saving time and money at the supermarket, is available in the May issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org.

The Consumer Reports survey, which reflects 48,076 shopping visits, reveals readers satisfaction with service. While most respondents said they were quite satisfied overall, more than half had at least one complaint about their current store. Almost one-third of respondents cited two or more problems. However, no chain tried its customers’ patience more than Walmart Supercenter.

The biggest gripe overall: Not enough open checkouts (cited by 19 percent of shoppers), followed by congested aisles, out-of-stock advertised specials and lack of choice. Walmart shoppers surveyed were especially irritated by too few open checkouts, out-of-stock basic items and spotty price labeling.

Store choice matters because Americans are heavily invested in their supermarkets. One-third of subscribers surveyed told Consumer Reports they had quit shopping at a nearby grocery store in the past year, mostly because of high prices, but also because of long waits, inadequate selection or poor food quality. Fifty-eight percent of respondents gave a store the boot because of prices, compared with 43 percent in 2011.

Fortunately, most consumers have several shopping choices, and some supermarkets gave customers much of what they want. National grocers Costco and Trader Joe’s, along with Publix (South), Sprouts (West) and Wegmans (East), offer better quality meat and produce and a cleaner shopping environment. All but Costco also earned the highest possible marks for service, defined as employee courtesy and checkout speed. Service is minimal at warehouse clubs such as Costco, and lengthy lines are a trade-off for day-in, day-out deals.

Consumer Reports is a nonprofit that rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, it has more than 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, DC, the states, and in the marketplace.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

FDA to set standards for posting recall notices in supermarkets

WASHINGTON — The Food & Drug Administration is asking for information that will assist in requiring grocery store chains to post food recall notices in conspicuous locations.

On Tuesday, the FDA released some questions for stakeholders and consumers as it writes a rule for a little-known requirement of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

The FDA can require a responsible party to submit “consumer-friendly” information about a food that is being recalled under the Reportable Food Registry. In turn, the FDA is required to create one-page summaries and post them on its website to alert consumers of a food or feed item that, if consumed, could cause serious injury or death.

Grocery stores with 15 or more physical locations that sold the recalled food must display the FDA’s one-page summary within 24 hours in a conspicuous location and for 14 days. While fresh fruits and vegetables, dietary supplements and infant formula are exempt from the requirement, most foods are not and the provision may affect how other recall postings are handled.

The FDA is also requesting comment on whether the agency should notify consumers in the postings that it does not include all foods.

“There may be potential public health impacts if consumer notifications for reportable foods do not include information on dietary supplements, infant formula, and fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities, particularly if the public believes that such consumer notifications are meant to encompass all food products regulated by FDA,” the agency said in its pre-rule.

The Food Marketing Institute, which represents retailers, said it prefers flexibility in applying the FSMA requirement about recall postings and that the FDA should take into account different notification methods as to not limit innovation.

Comments on the proposal are due June 9.

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Supermarkets score high on customer experience

Grocery stores have some happy customers. H-E-B and Trader Joe’s took the top two spots on the Temkin Group customer experience ranking. In fact, eight supermarkets made it to the ranking’s top 21 spots. The Temkin Group surveyed 10,000 consumers about their experience with 268 different companies in 19 different industries.  “I think Trader Joe’s focuses on a deeper understanding of what its customer needs and what its value prop is,” said Bruce Temkin, …

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Supermarket News

Supermarkets score high on customer experience

Grocery stores have some happy customers. H-E-B and Trader Joe’s took the top two spots on the Temkin Group customer experience ranking. In fact, eight supermarkets made it to the ranking’s top 21 spots. The Temkin Group surveyed 10,000 consumers about their experience with 268 different companies in 19 different industries.  “I think Trader Joe’s focuses on a deeper understanding of what its customer needs and what its value prop is,” said Bruce Temkin, …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Supermarkets score high on customer experience. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

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Supermarket News

Supermarkets need health and wellness partners: panelist

Margaux Drake, the “Living Well’” lifestyle expert for D&W Fresh Market.

Supermarket operators can boost health and wellness sales by partnering with companies that serve consumers interested in healthy lifestyles, a speaker told the Supermarket News at Expo West conference in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday.


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Margaux Drake, the “Living Well’” lifestyle expert for D&W Fresh Market, Grand Rapids, Mich., said operators need to think outside the box. “You can’t force someone to decide to be health- and wellness-minded. You have to go into the community to find people who have already made that decision and let them know you have the products they are looking for,” she advised.

Drake said she has worked with sports retailers, automotive dealers and others whose customers lead an active lifestyle and invited those customers to events geared to healthy living, such as spin classes — “anything where you can meet face-to-face with potential customers. And then you need to invite them on store tours immediately after the special events.”

Read more: SN’s coverage of Natural Products Expo West

Speaking at the same session, John Creed, category manager for natural, frozen and dairy for Unified Grocers, Los Angeles, said independents are looking for ways to take advantage of new trends, and setting up wellness centers in their stores with the help of CPG companies and food brokers is one way to create a “signature” or “personality” for the store Creed said he expects such partnerships to grow “as retailers look for ways to set themselves apart.”

The SN event was held just prior to the start of the Natural Products Expo West, which is sponsored by New Hope. Both SN and New Hope are divisions of Penton Media.

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Supermarkets tout local athletes at Sochi

Sandwiched in between the obvious marketing opportunities of the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day, the launch of this year’s Winter Olympics presents a challenge for food retailers.

A quick scan of the social media posts of several supermarket chains reveals that many are, indeed, getting into the spirit of the games, however. Unlike most Super Bowl promotions — which revolved around recipe ideas and party foods, and Valentine’s Day marketing — which mostly involves candy and flowers — the Winter Olympics-themed posts seek to tap into competition, patriotism and, in several cases, support for local athletes.


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Bethpage, N.Y.-based King Kullen, for example, encouraged its Facebook followers to root for double-luge racer Matthew Mortensen of Huntington Station, N.Y. As an added tie-in for the chain, Mortensen’s brother, Andrew, works at a King Kullen store in Halesite, N.Y.

Likewise, Norwalk, Conn.-based Stew Leonard’s is supporting Tucker West — also a luge racer — who hails from nearby Ridgefield, Conn. The retailer wished “lots of luck” to West and posted a link to an article about him.

Other chains are simply playing off the Olympics theme with “go for the gold” and similar verbiage promoting their products or other messages. Fry’s Food Stores, for example, a division of Kroger Co., used social media to promote heart-healthy snacking during the games with a post depicting artfully displayed fruit slices that are “sure to take the gold.”

Several chains, including WinCo and Meijer Inc., also used social media to tout Olympic-themed tie-ins with suppliers.

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