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USDA unveils $31.5 million grant to boost fruit, vegetable sales to SNAP recipients

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced up to $ 31.5 million in grants are available to test new ways to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants.

News of the program launch drew immediate praise by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the United Fresh Produce Association.

“Helping families purchase more fresh produce is clearly good for families’ health, helps contribute to lower health costs for the country, and increases local food sales for family farmers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Sept. 29 in Richmond, VA, where he announced the launch of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, a new farm bill program.

Under FINI, applicants may propose small pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, or larger-scale multi-year projects that test strategies to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants through incentives at the point of purchase. Based on the type of project, USDA plans to award grants of $ 100,000 to $ 500,000, and applications are due on Dec. 15.

“We encourage our retail grocery members who operate stores in underserved communities to partner with their state SNAP agency and apply for a FINI grant,” said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at United Fresh, who added that the projects are likely to inform USDA programs in the future.

With 85 percent of all SNAP benefits redeemed at grocery stores, “we believe that scaling up produce incentives at grocery stores in underserved communities around the country will have the greatest public health reach by increasing access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables year round,” she said, adding that incentives can help SNAP families purchase more fresh produce and increase produce sales.

Stabenow praised the farm bill program she said was modeled after Michigan’s successful “Double up Food Bucks” program, which provides SNAP participants with tokens to purchase to locally grown fruits and vegetables.

“These new programs will not only empower low-income Americans to provide their families with more healthy fruits and vegetables, they will also help strengthen local economies by investing in local food systems and organic agriculture,” Stabenow said.

USDA listed the following project aspects it sees as priorities for funding:

  • Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants.
  • Test strategies that improve understanding how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants, which would inform future efforts.
  • Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled.
  • Use direct-to-consumer sales marketing.
  • Demonstrate a track record of designing and implementing successful nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and agricultural producers.
  • Provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables, especially culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables for the target audience.
  • Are located in underserved communities.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will host a webinar for interested applicants on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.

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

Love Beets unveils new branding as beet trend grows

lovebeetsLove Beets, a line of premium, all-natural, ready-to-eat beets, announced a company-wide rebranding campaign, featuring a fresh new look that more accurately reflects the brand’s whimsical approach to preparing and eating beets. Its new, state-of-the-art packaging better aligns with its commitment to providing consumers with the best-tasting, highest-quality products. The new branding will hit shelves this month and will continue to roll out nationwide through the end of the year.

Love Beets’ aesthetic shines a spotlight on both the brand’s upbeat, cheeky personality and the beet itself, and challenges age-old stereotypes around eating this notoriously intimidating vegetable. The brand’s logo, vibrant color pallet and signature smiley faces found on the front of its packages make beets approachable and remind consumers why they should incorporate this trending superfood into their daily diet.

“The creative evolution of Love Beets really brings to life the idea that beets are modern, fun and can be enjoyed by consumers of all ages,” George Shropshire, vice president of Love Beets, said in a press release. “We’re excited to reveal a whole new look and technology that make beets a hassle-free experience and even easier to snack on whenever, wherever.”

Updated packaging for Love Beets products also adds greater visibility and accessibility for consumers on shelf and at home. Innovations include the following:

  • Marinated Baby Beets in five flavors: New packs feature state-of-the-art peel-and-seal technology to keep each beet fresher for longer and allow for easier portioning and storage across meals, snacks and recipes. The packs now stand upright and may be opened and closed several times.
  • Vacuum-Packed Cooked Beets (two varieties):  A new and improved seal keeps beet juices locked in and reduces the risk of refrigerator messes.
  • Beet Juices (three flavors): Beet Juice, Super Tasty and a new Organic Beet Juice boast new, sleek container designs and sizes. Consumers will now be able to choose a 14-ounce re-usable glass bottle or a larger 20-ounce plastic bottle, all available in late November.
  • Club Pack (two varieties): Labels have also been re-imagined with a series of delicious recipes and directions for how to prepare beets.

Love Beets’ newly designed website and social platforms feature highly interactive and responsive sections, rich imagery and a lifestyle blog that will highlight health benefits of beets and their many uses — from salads and entrees to smoothies and desserts.

Love Beets’ products are available in more than 6,500 retailers nationwide and in Canada.

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

Food Lion unveils first stores under new format

Food Lion on Wednesday said it had completed remodels of 31 stores in greater Wilmington, N.C., in the first phase of a planned chainwide “Easy, Fresh and Affordable” format.

Food Lion, a division of Belgium’s Delhaize Group, said the effort would be followed by 45 stores in the Greenville, N.C., market, expected to be completed in November.

Debuted at a single store near Food Lion’s headquarters in Salisbury, N.C., late last year, the new format incorporates revamped product selections, layouts and features designed to enhance convenience for Food Lion shoppers, and better communicate relevance to its shoppers. In the below video Antoine Grant, Food Lion’s Concord, N.C., store manager, discusses the new features at that store:

The new assortment of products in the Wilmington stores include a dedicated gluten-free section, and Food Lion meat in new sealed packaging that the retailer said keeps fresh longer and is easy to open, leak-proof and freezer-ready. New meal offerings, including a rotation of $ 10 Daily Dinner Deals serving four, and grab-and-go items have also been added.


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New signage makes deals easier to find throughout the store, including pointing out weekly specials, extended discounts and everyday prices.

New aspects to improve convenience include color-coded bags helping customers identifiy cold and frozen items, and new checkouts.

“Our customers told us that they want a grocery experience where it’s easy to shop, easy to save and easy to figure out what is for dinner tonight,” Beth Newlands Campbell, president of Food Lion, said in a statement. “In these enhanced stores, we’ve worked to deliver just that.”

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Wholesum Harvest unveils new website design

Wholesum Family Farms, purveyor of the “Wholesum Harvest” brand of organic produce, relaunched its website (www.wholesumharvest.com) to feature a more easily navigable interface, fresh content and better functionality on mobile devices. The company enlisted produce consulting group FreshXperts to guide the relaunch.

Wholesum-Harvest-Web-Organi“We wanted to make it simpler for customers to locate the information they find most relevant,” Mike Chirveno, project manager at FreshXperts, said in a press release. “The new design brings the most popular content closer to the front of the site, in many cases to the home page or just one click away.”

Additionally, growing demand for information while on the go inspired Wholesum Harvest to pursue a mobile-first approach. This approach provides improved performance from mobile phones and tablets, offers quick access to the most frequently searched information and reduces unnecessary information and visual clutter.

“We are increasingly reliant on mobile devices to access the World Wide Web,” said Chirveno.  “The mobile-first design automatically scales its display to the device accessing the content. This allows Wholesum Harvest’s customers to look up recipes or product information from the convenience of home or the grocery aisle without sacrificing the quality of the display or ease of use.”

Content on the site emphasizes Wholesum Harvest’s commitment to organics, sustainability and social responsibility.  The company, which has long demonstrated industry leadership as an advocate for organics and healthy living, strives to educate consumers about making wholesome choices.  New pages highlighting the “why” behind organics, sustainability and social responsibility join Wholesum’s collection of product information, recipes and food preparation content. Furthermore, visitors can join the discussion on Wholesum Harvest’s new blog, “Organic Living,” housed on the website.  Visitors can also link to Wholesum’s social media pages.

The website features an extensive collection of recipes and how-to food preparation videos developed by Executive Chef Tony Merola.  For the first time, visitors are able to adjust recipes by specifying the desired number of servings. The ingredient quantities are then automatically recalculated to yield the appropriate number of servings.

Grocers and distributors have their own dedicated content accessed by one click from the top of the home page. There they can retrieve information about what produce is in season at any given time, find promotions support, learn about shipping and billing policies and connect with support staff.

“Wholesum Harvest has been a vocal advocate for organic growing, sustainability, and Fair Trade. This revamped website provides a forum for Wholesum Harvest to share its vision, educate consumers and reach growers and distributors. It is easier to use, provides relevant information that draws customers to the site, and will play an important role in supporting Wholesum Harvest’s growth moving forward,” said Chirveno.

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

Wholesum Harvest unveils new website design

Wholesum Family Farms, purveyor of the “Wholesum Harvest” brand of organic produce, relaunched its website (www.wholesumharvest.com) to feature a more easily navigable interface, fresh content and better functionality on mobile devices. The company enlisted produce consulting group FreshXperts to guide the relaunch.

Wholesum-Harvest-Web-Organi“We wanted to make it simpler for customers to locate the information they find most relevant,” Mike Chirveno, project manager at FreshXperts, said in a press release. “The new design brings the most popular content closer to the front of the site, in many cases to the home page or just one click away.”

Additionally, growing demand for information while on the go inspired Wholesum Harvest to pursue a mobile-first approach. This approach provides improved performance from mobile phones and tablets, offers quick access to the most frequently searched information and reduces unnecessary information and visual clutter.

“We are increasingly reliant on mobile devices to access the World Wide Web,” said Chirveno.  “The mobile-first design automatically scales its display to the device accessing the content. This allows Wholesum Harvest’s customers to look up recipes or product information from the convenience of home or the grocery aisle without sacrificing the quality of the display or ease of use.”

Content on the site emphasizes Wholesum Harvest’s commitment to organics, sustainability and social responsibility.  The company, which has long demonstrated industry leadership as an advocate for organics and healthy living, strives to educate consumers about making wholesome choices.  New pages highlighting the “why” behind organics, sustainability and social responsibility join Wholesum’s collection of product information, recipes and food preparation content. Furthermore, visitors can join the discussion on Wholesum Harvest’s new blog, “Organic Living,” housed on the website.  Visitors can also link to Wholesum’s social media pages.

The website features an extensive collection of recipes and how-to food preparation videos developed by Executive Chef Tony Merola.  For the first time, visitors are able to adjust recipes by specifying the desired number of servings. The ingredient quantities are then automatically recalculated to yield the appropriate number of servings.

Grocers and distributors have their own dedicated content accessed by one click from the top of the home page. There they can retrieve information about what produce is in season at any given time, find promotions support, learn about shipping and billing policies and connect with support staff.

“Wholesum Harvest has been a vocal advocate for organic growing, sustainability, and Fair Trade. This revamped website provides a forum for Wholesum Harvest to share its vision, educate consumers and reach growers and distributors. It is easier to use, provides relevant information that draws customers to the site, and will play an important role in supporting Wholesum Harvest’s growth moving forward,” said Chirveno.

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

Food Lion unveils ‘Easy, Fresh and Affordable’ strategy

fllobFood Lion has unveiled a new chain-wide strategy: “Easy, Fresh and Affordable…You Can Count on Food Lion Every Day!” The announcement launches a multi-year initiative to make shopping easier for Food Lion customers at the company’s more than 1,100 stores, while keeping the low prices customers expect.lgoso

“We are officially embarking on a new strategy to make shopping easier for our customers,” Beth Newlands Campbell, president of Food Lion, said in a press release. “Our customers have told us that they want a grocery experience where it’s easy to shop, easy to save and easy to figure out what is for dinner tonight. Based on their feedback, and continuing to build on Food Lion’s longstanding heritage of low prices and convenient locations, we will work to own the easiest full shop experience in the Southeast, anchored by a strong commitment to freshness, affordability and the communities we serve.”

Food Lion’s “Easy, Fresh and Affordable” strategy has already begun to roll out across the chain. By the end of June, the company will have completed the first step in implementing the strategy by focusing its more than 63,000 associates on putting the customer first and delivering on their expectations every day through new, customer-centric training.

“For our customers to trust us, they need to be able to go into any Food Lion store and have a consistently great experience,” Newlands Campbell said.  “This is why our efforts to improve customer service and ensure our products are always fresh are so important.  We want our customers to know that they can count on their local Food Lion team to meet their needs and serve their local community.”

The new strategy includes a variety of elements, large and small. One example of a small change that makes a big impact for customers is new blue bags, in addition to traditional white bags.  The blue bags are used for cold and frozen items to make them easily identifiable and make unpacking groceries easy for customers at home, especially in warmer months. An example of a big change is expanding product variety based on consumer research.

Food Lion will also begin to rollout transformational changes such as storewide remodels in markets over time. These stores will be redesigned to make the shopping experience easier for customers and will display Food Lion’s new logo, which provides a more modern look for customers, while preserving the history and heritage of the lion and the “Food Lion blue.”

“With our new logo, we have an opportunity to show our customers that we’re fresh, while remaining true to our legacy of low prices,” added Newlands Campbell. “Beginning later this year, we’ll also bring our customers items in our stores that are consistent with the logo on the front, as we deliver new Food Lion store brand products that will help our customers save.”

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

Wakefern Food Corp. unveils new Elizabeth, NJ, warehouse

WakefernElizabethribboncuttThe ribbon is cut at Wakefern’s newest warehouse facility in Elizabeth, NJ, during an April 17 ceremony.Making a return to its roots, Wakefern Food Corp. celebrated the opening of its new Elizabeth, NJ, warehouse with a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 17.

“We are proud to be back in Elizabeth,” Joe Sheridan, Wakefern president and chief operating officer, told a crowd of nearly 200 attendees.

Sheridan and Joseph Colalillo, Wakefern chairman and chief executive officer, joined a roomful of dignitaries — including New Jersey Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno, Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, Sen. Ray Lesniak and Elberon Development Co.’s Chairman and CEO Anne Evans Estabrook — to celebrate the opening of a facility that is expected to create 150 additional permanent jobs over the next decade.

This 524,000-square-foot facility replaces the former Wakefern grocery warehouse at the same site and increases storage capabilities by more than 58 percent to better distribute non-perishable food products to ShopRite, PriceRite and The Fresh Grocer stores across New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts , Rhode Island and Virginia. In addition to the expanded square footage, this new building will feature ceilings 36 feet high, increasing the storage space significantly. There are currently 345 associates who work in the facility.

In June 2011, Wakefern transitioned its non-perishable operations to a temporary facility in Carteret, NJ, to allow for the demolition and subsequent re-construction of its original grocery warehouse in Elizabeth, which was built in the late 1950s. This new location was completed in November 2013 and was fully operational by February of this year.

“The city of Elizabeth continuously strives to grow our economy and create opportunities that generate jobs, as well as increase options within our municipality,” said Mayor Bollwage. “Working together with dedicated partners such as Wakefern Food Corp. and Elberon Development Co. LLC, we are providing assistance and delivering the services that residents want and deserve. This wonderful expansion is a great addition to the Elizabeth business community.”

“Wakefern’s strength comes from its core focus of ‘families serving families,’” said Colalillo. “This personal connection to our business makes a partnership with Elberon and the Evans family — more than 50 years in the making — a natural extension of our commitment to our customers, our stores and the communities we serve. We are also thankful to Mayor Bollwage and the city of Elizabeth for continuing to welcome us as a member of their community and we are pleased to mark our return to our Elizabeth roots with the opening of this new facility.”

Since it was founded in 1946, Wakefern has become one of the larger retailer-owned cooperatives in the U.S. Headquartered in Keasbey, NJ, it operates more than 2.5 million square feet of grocery and non-food warehousing.

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

United Fresh unveils ‘Fresh Insights for Foodservice’ report

The United Fresh Produce Association has launched “Fresh Insights for Foodservice,” a new quarterly report showcasing the latest trends in fresh produce use in foodservice and restaurants.

“We are excited to offer the industry such an in-depth resource focused on foodservice,” said United’s Vice President of Trade Relations Jeff Oberman, liaison to United’s Retail-Foodservice Board. “Our members know that foodservice trends shift quickly and this publication will be a valuable tool for them to stay on top of those trends and take advantage of new opportunities.”

The concept for this new report was initiated by United’s retail-foodservice board as a resource for United members to gain a comprehensive look at how chefs and restaurants are incorporating fresh produce on their menus. The report is developed by Datassential, a leading market research firm dedicated to the food Industry, using data from its menu database, MenuTrends.
 
The publication is organized in four core sections, including Fresh Flavors, which shows in-depth profiles of trending produce items; Menu Intelligence, featuring up-to-date information on how produce is being used in different menu items; Chain Report, which focuses on produce’s role in new menu items; and View From Above, offering a look into produce usage in a particular trend within the foodservice industry.

In this quarter’s report, Fresh Flavors highlights the market penetration and growth of rhubarb, romanesco and pickled vegetables. Menu Intelligence explores the growth of premium burgers and pie on restaurant menus. Chain Report investigates trends among top chain, including pumpkin, jalapeno and cocktails. View From Above describes the role of produce in Mediterranean fast casual cuisine.

Fresh Insights for Foodservice is free to United Fresh members and $ 50 to non-members. To order the report, visit United’s website. If you have questions, please contact Victoria Baker, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, at 202/303-3408. For questions about the data or content in this report, contact Maeve Webster, senior director of Datassential at maeve@datassential.com.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

United Fresh unveils ‘Fresh Insights for Foodservice’ report

The United Fresh Produce Association has launched “Fresh Insights for Foodservice,” a new quarterly report showcasing the latest trends in fresh produce use in foodservice and restaurants.

“We are excited to offer the industry such an in-depth resource focused on foodservice,” said United’s Vice President of Trade Relations Jeff Oberman, liaison to United’s Retail-Foodservice Board. “Our members know that foodservice trends shift quickly and this publication will be a valuable tool for them to stay on top of those trends and take advantage of new opportunities.”

The concept for this new report was initiated by United’s retail-foodservice board as a resource for United members to gain a comprehensive look at how chefs and restaurants are incorporating fresh produce on their menus. The report is developed by Datassential, a leading market research firm dedicated to the food Industry, using data from its menu database, MenuTrends.
 
The publication is organized in four core sections, including Fresh Flavors, which shows in-depth profiles of trending produce items; Menu Intelligence, featuring up-to-date information on how produce is being used in different menu items; Chain Report, which focuses on produce’s role in new menu items; and View From Above, offering a look into produce usage in a particular trend within the foodservice industry.

In this quarter’s report, Fresh Flavors highlights the market penetration and growth of rhubarb, romanesco and pickled vegetables. Menu Intelligence explores the growth of premium burgers and pie on restaurant menus. Chain Report investigates trends among top chain, including pumpkin, jalapeno and cocktails. View From Above describes the role of produce in Mediterranean fast casual cuisine.

Fresh Insights for Foodservice is free to United Fresh members and $ 50 to non-members. To order the report, visit United’s website. If you have questions, please contact Victoria Baker, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, at 202/303-3408. For questions about the data or content in this report, contact Maeve Webster, senior director of Datassential at maeve@datassential.com.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Whole Foods Unveils Whole Paws

AUSTIN, Texas — Chicken, salmon or another protein is the first ingredient in Whole Foods Market’s new Whole Paws pet food.


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“Now you can treat your furry friends to super wholesome vittles from a trusted source,” posted Whole Foods blogger Paige Schilt. “As you might expect from Whole Foods Market, all Whole Paws products are made without artificial flavors, animal by-products, added sugar or grains.”

Whole Paws replaces pet foods sold under the 365 Everyday Value brand.

Read more: Whole Foods Debuts Budget Assortment

“Fans of the former 365 Everyday Value pet food products will be glad to know that Whole Paws products are still the best value in our pet food aisle, so you can upgrade your pet’s diet without up-ending your budget,” stated Schilt.

The blogger recommends transitioning pets to Whole Paws gradually, over a week or more, by first serving 80% of the established food with 20% Whole Paws, and increasing the percentage after every day or two. 

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Publix Unveils More N.C. Locations

LAKELAND, Fla. — Publix Super Markets here on Friday disclosed plans for additional North Carolina locations in Winston-Salem and Cornelius.

The Winston-Salem store, located at 34 Miller St., will be a 49,000-square-foot Publix supermarket with covered parking below the store. The opening is scheduled for 2015.


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The Cornelius store, located in Mecklenburg County, will be at West Catawba and Jetton Road in the Magnolia Plaza and will also measure 49,000 square feet. It will include a drive-through pharmacy. It is tentatively scheduled to open in late 2014.

“We continue to deliver on our promise of serving the great state of North Carolina by adding yet another county to our market area,” said Maria Brous, Publix media and community relations director.

Publix said it continues to aggressively look for additional locations throughout the state. It announced last year that it would enter North Carolina after years of consumer and industry speculation about its plans there.

Publix previously announced its first five planned North Carolina locations:

• Ballantyne, located at Providence Road West and Johnston Road, opening in early 2014;

• Greater Charlotte (two stores), located at the intersection of South Boulevard and Iverson Way, and at the intersection of Matthews Mint Hill Road and Lawyers Road, opening in early 2015 and late 2014, respectively;

• Cary, located at the northeast corner of High House and Davis, opening in late 2014; and

• Asheville, located at the southeast corner of Hendersonville and Overlook, opening in 2015.

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Hass Avocado Board unveils nutrition-driven marketing platform

The Hass Avocado Board announced a new, multi-year, science-based, food and wellness education program: Love One Today.

love prim tag x2 good 2C PMThis program encourages Americans to include fresh Hass avocados in everyday healthy eating plans to help increase fruit and vegetable intake and as a delicious, cholesterol-free, whole food source of naturally good fats.

The graphic mark and marketing campaign debut at the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics’ annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo to be held Oct. 19-22 in Houston. The campaign will be rolled out broadly to health professionals and consumers in the fall through multiple program activations.

The Love One Today positioning was selected by HAB after concept testing with consumers earlier in the year. Brought to life visually as a distinctive mark with the words “fresh avocados” and nutrition benefit messages “naturally good fats + cholesterol free,” Love One Today is designed to provide a clear and simple unifying nutrition message and call to action to target audiences.

The Love One Today graphic mark is envisioned to be complementary to the marketing materials of HAB member organizations, retailers and foodservice operators. The industry is encouraged to learn more about it and use the mark to promote the nutritional benefits of fresh Hass avocados. More information is available at www.hassavocadoboard.com/loveonetoday.

The Love One Today program is featured on www.loveonetoday.com for health professionals. It will also be supported through targeted outreach to the health professional/registered dietitian community and a recipe contest for dietitians who are part of the dietary practice groups in the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics; a consumer public relations campaign; social media; trade advertising; and a Spanish version of the Love One Today website with resources.

HAB provides industry members and stakeholders with resources that they can use in their day-to-day business operations, including retail data research, consumer usage and attitudes research via semiannual tracking studies, and consumer insights available at www.hassavocadoboard.com.

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