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Powerful Supermarket Research Resources

December 26, 2017
■ What’s in Store 2018 —

Shopper Behavior Steers Retail Trends

 Around the globe, 2017’s more volatile economy has taken effect on retail trends. Inflation curbs consumer spending, the “Trump Effect” is increasing wages but causing cautiously optimistic consumers, and Brexit’s globalization movement are some major influencers this year. These are just some of the hundreds of findings in the What’s in Store 2018, the latest edition of the annual trends publication of the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA), and What’s in Store Online, a collection of more than 150 downloadable tables, as well as white papers and trends articles.
 Other findings in the book’s “Economy & Retail Trends” chapter include: • Key issues that could affect US retail operations in 2017, including a macro landscape, healthcare, immigration, and the “Have Not Shopper” – emphasizing U.S. income inequality as one of the biggest opportunities and challenges for food retailers.
• Private label in the United States has evolved portfolios to create uniqueness, which establishes a consumer mindset of “high-quality” or “premiumized” products. • Complete transparency makes for stronger brand loyalty, building a demand for locally-produced products.
 There is a focus on greater personalization of products to fit consumer lifestyles, such as value-added attributes (e.g., fresh, organic), positive benefits (e.g., energy, brain food), and social value (e.g., local, transparent).
 “Shopper behavior is playing a direct role in the future of the retail food industry,” said Eric Richard, Education Coordinator, IDDBA. “From store design and online shopping options to increased sustainability and transparency in the products, retailers are creating an engaging atmosphere—both brick-and-mortar and online—and expanding their product lines to attract and retain today’s sophisticated shoppers.”
 With more than 30 years of credible reporting, What’s in Store is an essential dairy-deli-supermarket foodservice-bakery-cheese resource providing vital data on the retail and market trends, growth, and category changes shaping the food industry. A secondary research report, What’s in Store is developed through both interviews with industry experts and sourcing of third-party data and trends.
 This year’s edition again features a continuous storyline to improve user efficiency and provide greater clarity for professionals needing to understand today’s retail world. Through four themes, readers gain new insights and learn about marketplace influences. They are:
• The Economy & Retail Trends
• Channels and Competition
• Consumer Lifestyles
• Eating Trends
 This themed narrative is carried into each of the product chapters: Bakery, Cheese, Dairy, and Deli. The new format, exclusive interview content, and inclusion of key insights, table interpretations, data callouts, and testimonials enable the reader to more efficiently tie back to the broader context and then dig deeper in each of the product sections.
 Additionally, What’s in Store 2018 features: redesigned tables; infographics that inform readers why the data matters; key insights; more original expert interviews; and more graphics to illustrate best-in-class examples.

December 19, 2017
■ One of the Top News Stories of 2017

Amazon's Acquisition of Whole Foods Market

  “Alexa…acquire Whole Foods Market, please.”
 In a year when food topics related to safety and nutrition were most important to Americans, news of Amazon's Acquisition of Whole Foods Market broke through, ranking as 2017's No. 1 food news story among Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures alike, according to the Hunter Public Relations Annual Food News Study.
 Since 2003, Hunter Public Relations, a leading food and beverage marketing communications agency, has been commissioning an annual study to identify the top food news stories according to the opinions of Americans. Now in its fifteenth year, this year's food news study also set out to quantify the impact of these stories at every step of the consumer engagement continuum by measuring the influence on consumers' awareness (are the stories remembered?), consideration (do they change opinions?), intent (do they change behavior?) and advocacy (are they shared with others?).
 For the past five years, Hunter has conducted the study in partnership with Libran Research & Consulting, which surveyed 1,000 American adults and asked respondents to select the most recalled news stories of the past 12 months. The data is reviewed by key demographics, including the age cohorts of Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures.
 Amazon*, the world's largest online retailer, made major headlines on June 16, 2017 when it announced its plans to acquire Whole Foods Market. The e-retail giant, which has dabbled in brick-and-mortar store concepts over the past couple of years, agreed to acquire 460 Whole Foods Market locations in the US, Canada and the UK in a 13.7 billion-dollar deal, Amazon's biggest acquisition to date. On August 28, 2017, the deal was official and Amazon announced that all Whole Foods Market customers would immediately see lower prices across a selection of best-selling products.
 Last year's top food news story found itself back on this year's list, occupying 2017's No. 2 spot: Another Food Safety Scare at Chipotle. Chipotle's food safety issues made national news late in 2015 and continued in 2016 when norovirus affected more than 200 customers in the Boston area. In 2017, another food-borne illness outbreak affected several Chipotle patrons at an outlet near Washington, D.C., forcing the location to close temporarily and sending the chain's stock down more than six percent.
 Topics of food safety (48 percent) and food nutrition/health and wellness (35 percent) continue to be at the top of the list for most Americans. In addition to Chipotle's food safety scare taking the No. 2 spot, Nearly 2.5 Million Pounds of Tyson Chicken Products Recalled – due to misbranding and undeclared allergens on ready-to-eat breaded chicken sold to food-service customers in 30 states – came in as the No. 3 food news story of the year.
 Though according to the study, topics of food policy and politics are not generally as important to Americans as food safety, three politically-motivated stories claimed top spots this year:< br> • At No. 4, is the news coverage that ensued after Trump Took Aim at School Lunch Guidelines.  In March 2017, the Trump administration challenged Michelle Obama's agenda to promote healthy school lunches by weakening restrictions on salt and requirements for whole grains. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that school meals would no longer have to adhere to standards championed by the former first lady, granting schools more flexibility to serve foods they choose.
• At No. 6, in January 2017, President Trump Proposed Tariffs on Mexican Imports to Fund the "Wall," which would mean that Americans would have to pay a 20 percent tax on food and beverages imported from our neighbor to the south. Both before and after the 2016 election, Trump has remained steadfast about building a wall along the Mexican border, and about increasing tariffs on Mexico, as well as other countries. The administration, however, quickly backpedaled, maintaining that the tariff was just one of a few options being considered to fund the construction. News outlets and constituents alike were quick to criticize the proposed tax and the notion that the resulting funds would cover the wall's costs.
• At No. 8 (tie), President Trump rebuffed yet another one of former first lady Michelle Obama's health initiative legacies when it was announced in June 2017 that the FDA Would Delay Rollout of New Nutrition Labels, intended to help Americans eat more healthfully. The updated labels, advocated by Mrs. Obama, would have a special line for added sugars and feature calorie content in large, bold text.
 Also included in the top 10 food news stories of 2017:
• News around Restaurant Chain Delivery came in at No. 5. With the influx of third-party delivery services, restaurants assume almost no risk in testing out delivery, which means consumers can get much more than just pizza delivered to their door. Steak, anyone?
• Designed to reduce the time and stress of preparing a gourmet, home-cooked meal, Meal Kits snagged the No. 7 spot on the list and came in as the Top Food Trend Story of the Year. Research has shown that the meal-kit industry resonates most with Millennials, who tend to rationalize spending money to save time on shopping and planning, and seek sharable experiences and creations for social media. • While capturing a unicorn is said to be impossible, it's no surprise that Unicorn Food captured the No. 8 (tie) spot on this year's list. The pastel and sparkle trend broke the Internet when Starbucks introduced its limited-time-only "Unicorn Frappuccino."
• Avocado lovers, rejoice because coming in at No. 10, is the news that Avocado Prices Stabilized. California's crop size was down in the first half of the year, leading to higher prices. To counter the price incline, growers started planting more avocado trees to keep up with the demand – avocado toast! – and stabilize prices.  To summarize, the top food stories of 2017 according to the Hunter Public Relations 15th Annual Food News Study are as follows:
1. Amazon Acquires Whole Foods Market
2. Another Food Safety Scare at Chipotle
3. Nearly 2.5 Million Pounds of Tyson Chicken Products Recalled
4. Trump Takes Aim at School Lunch Guidelines
5. Restaurant Chains Now Deliver
6. Proposed Tariff on Mexican Imports to Fund "Wall" Means Americans Will Pay More for Food & Beverages
7. There's a Meal Kit for Everyone
8. (TIE) Unicorn Food is Colorful, Sparkly and Everywhere
9. (TIE) FDA Delays Rollout of New Nutrition Labels
10. Avocado Prices Stabilize
 This year, more than one-quarter of Americans across all three key age demographics feel that food and nutrition stories are very important, which is comparable to 2016 figures. However, in 2017, only 35 percent say that food and nutrition stories are more important than other types of stories – down from 41 percent in 2016 – revealing the competitive nature of today's media landscape, with politically-charged stories dominating the news cycle.
 Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods Market and Chipotle's new food safety scare were ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 stories, respectively, across Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures. When it came to the story that occupied the No. 3 spot, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures both agreed on Tyson's chicken recall, while Millennials ranked the emergence of unicorn food as the third most memorable food story of 2017. The study also revealed that Millennials are more often moved to change as a result of these stories and report higher levels of changed opinions across many stories, even those outside of the top three, including Restaurant Chains Now Deliver and Avocado Prices Stabilize.
 Stories that have a broader impact on the population's opinion – either positive or negative – correlate to the breakthrough power of these stories, measured by awareness, regardless of their topic. Unsurprisingly, the top stories of 2017 are also delivering the top changes of opinion among consumers. News of Amazon's Whole Foods Market purchase – this year's No. 1 story – had the highest number of Americans, especially Millennials, noting a change of opinion, trailed closely by the food safety scare at Chipotle and Tyson recall – the No. 2 and No. 3 stories, respectively.
 Similarly, the top stories of the year based on awareness are also those most likely to drive behavior changes among all consumers polled. But when looking at behavior changes, specifically among those aware of a particular news story, several nutrition and trend-related stories broke into the top 10. The Top Nutrition Story of the Year and No. 13 overall, How Much Protein is Necessary?, rose to the top at 44 percent, and Veggies Are Becoming the Star of Your Meal impacted the behavior of 41 percent of those aware. Trend-related news stories, The Rise in Korean Flavors (44 percent), The Fermented Food Trend (34 percent), and Cheers to Frosé! (30 percent) all had a substantial impact, reinforcing the connection between awareness and behavior.
 The most noted specific food behavior changes occurring this year by Americans is paying more attention to food labels, where almost one-third of Americans admit to this change. Secondary specific behavior changes include educating oneself more on food (24 percent), paying more attention to food's impact on health (24 percent), as well as to food safety (24 percent) and ingredients (23 percent). While all age groups are most likely to be paying more attention to food labels, compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures, Millennials are more likely to try new foods and flavors and change how they prepare food as a result of the top food stories. Millennials are also more likely to change their diet and how they shop and pay more attention to their impact on the environment.
 In recognition of the power of social media to fuel news sharing, for the first time this year, the study went a step further along the consumer engagement continuum to examine advocacy and the "share-ability" of food related news. This year's top stories appear to have more "water cooler" sharing potential, meaning that Americans are more open to talking about these stories with friends, family or coworkers. Those stories that broke into the top 10 for social sharing of the article itself often offer a "teachable moment," such as How Much Protein is Necessary? and Warriors Against Food Waste, as well as those with a touch of shock value, including Insect-Based Foods Rise in Popularity and The Dark Side of Food: Activated Charcoal.

December 18, 2017
■ During Holiday Shopping

32% of Shoppers Looking for Better In-Store Customer Service

45% of Shoppers to Make Two or More Trips In-Store for Holiday Shopping Needs

 ChargeItSpot, the leading provider of cell phone charging stations for major retailers, events, and other indoor public venues, has announced the results of its “2017 Holiday Shopping Report.”
 The study asked consumers their holiday shopping habits, if they would be using their mobile devices during their trip, and how they felt about their overall shopping experience. ChargeItSpot collected responses from more than 1,000 shoppers at malls across the country using its phone charging stations. Below are the key takeaways from the study.

 When shoppers were asked what could have improved their holiday shopping experience, 32% said better customer service. Other responses included cheaper items (22%), more parking (12%), better product selection (10%), and fewer crowds (6%).
 “The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for retailers,” said Douglas Baldasare, CEO and Founder of ChargeItSpot. “Holiday shopping can be hectic for both the shopper and the retailer. It is essential that retailers make sure their staff is equipped to help shoppers and make their trip more enjoyable.”
 Despite the call for better customer service, 83% of shoppers felt they had a positive holiday shopping experience, while 11% had nothing positive or negative to say about their shopping trip. Only 4% of shoppers had a negative experience.
 The majority of shoppers (34%) plan on making only one holiday shopping trip this season, while 30% plan on making three or more trips, 21% didn’t plan on making any holiday shopping trips, and 14% plan on making two trips.
 Finally, shoppers were asked how likely they were to do the remainder of their holiday shopping in-store rather than online. 75% of shoppers said it was likely, 18% were undecided, and 8% said it was unlikely.
 Shoppers will use their phones for a variety of functions this holiday shopping season. Most will use them to enhance their in-store shopping experience - to find store locations (27%), find deals (18%), get or share live updates through social media (14%), compare prices (13%), access coupons (12%), make or refer to shopping lists (8%), and research products online (6%). Very few shoppers (3%) plan to use their mobile devices to make purchases directly on their devices while they are out shopping.
 “Year over year we are seeing mobile devices play a larger role in the shopper journey,” added Baldasare. “Consumers use their mobile devices before, during, and after their shopping trips to keep themselves organized and make smarter purchases. As retailers invest more and more in mobile it is important for them to empower the shopper to make the best buying decisions.”

December 4, 2017

Borden Cheese to Award $100,000 to Send People Home for the Holidays

 There's no place like home for the holidays. This year, Borden Cheese is awarding $100,000 to be used for travel fare to help families across the country spend time together to celebrate their holiday traditions and create new cherished memories.
 Borden Cheese believes in the value of bringing family members around the table, and understands that the high cost of travel during the holiday season can often make it difficult for this to happen. That is why Borden Cheese is announcing a national contest, Borden Home for the Holidays, offering each contest winner a $500 VISA cash gift card to help pay for airfare, train tickets, rental cars or other travel expenses to help them make it home this year.
 "Families are more spread out than ever, and the costs associated with getting home can be prohibitive," said Flavia Panza, Senior Director of Marketing, Dairy Farmers of America. "What better way to spread love and joy than by ensuring people are able to be with their families and enjoy special holiday moments meant to be shared together."
 Consumers are encouraged to enter by visiting and sharing why it is important to them to get home this holiday season. The contest runs from Sunday, November 19, 2017 through Friday, December 8, 2017; winners will be notified on December 11, 2017. No purchase necessary to enter or win.

November 22, 2017

Millions of Customers Tricked by Mind-Boggling Black Friday Offers

 Think it pays off to go shopping on Black Friday? Think again. According to a survey conducted by education portal BlitzResults, 81 % of all consumers state that they have been tricked by dealers in the past. An analysis of over 100 products found that 52 % of all offers made around Black Friday were actually significantly cheaper at some other time during the year.
 "Lure offers," allegedly "sold out" items, mind-boggling discounts and fine print are the typical tricks to attract customers during their Black Friday shopping mania. An online survey by BlitzResults of 4813 consumers examined which tricks the dealers regularly use to rip off customers. The study also reveals that the majority of customers have been victims of unfair sales practices in the past. "Lure offers" are the most dominant form of rip-offs, followed by exaggerated discounts.
 High double-digit discounts sound like music in our ears. But customers beware: the discounts advertised are often based on the manufacturers' suggested retail price (MSRP) or are even fantasy sums. "These sales prices are actually never paid and this applies in particular to the electronics sector," says Tim Lilling, researcher at "The use of these prices as a reference point is misleading for customers and is used to imply extreme discounts. The research shows that discounts are in reality almost 50 % less when compared to a non-reduced offer from another retailer."
 Interestingly enough in many cases the cheapest offer was available during the summer holiday season. This is likely because most customers acquire their tech gadgets before they go on their summer vacation. The opposite is true during the months before Christmas (and hence around Black Friday). Prices rise because retailers know that customers are under pressure to buy.
 Shipping costs, handling fees, minimum order values or incomprehensibly formulated discount structures often shrink the originally promised high double-digit savings into a meager remainder.
The results of the study in detail:
• BlitzResults tracked prices of more than 100 tech gadgets such as tablets, cameras, and large household appliances over the period of one year on major online-shops in the US. While consumers have the impression that prices are slashed to a historic low level for Black Friday, only 48 % of these products are actually cheaper than at some other time during the year (54 products).
• 81 % percent of all customers state that they already been victim of a "lure offer," ending up buying more expensive items than planned.
• 67 % of all customers say they ended up buying more things then they had initially planned to buy.
• 64 % of all customers say that they bought a different item because the product they were looking for was already sold out.

November 20, 2017

Pringles Launches First-Ever Thanksgiving Themed Flavors

Eight New Flavors Replicate Epic Turkey Day "Dinner"

  This Thanksgiving, Pringles is bringing all your holiday favorites to the snacking table with the new and exclusive, limited-edition Pringles Thanksgiving Dinner. If you can't make it home for the real feast, or just want a tasty snack while watching the game, this "dinner" is so deliciously close to the real thing, it may become part of your own tradition.
  Each Pringles Thanksgiving Dinner contains a tray (see photo) of the mouth-watering crisps fans know and love in eight new Thanksgiving themed flavors: Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Creamed Corn, Green Bean Casserole, Mac & Cheese and Pumpkin Pie.
  "Pringles are known for bold flavors and endless flavor stacking possibilities, so this holiday season we wanted to introduce snack-lovers to a new way to enjoy Thanksgiving favorites," said Kurt Simon, senior director of marketing for Pringles. "The Pringles Thanksgiving Dinner flavors, are not only new but cover every course of the real meal – from the main event, to sides and even dessert."
  For this exclusive rollout, the Pringles Thanksgiving Dinner is a pilot taste test and has only limited availability. While the dinner is not available for retail sale this season, who knows what the future of Pringles stacking and snacking will bring!

November 14, 2017

Over 164M Consumers Plan to Shop Over Thanksgiving Weekend and Cyber Monday

  The biggest shopping weekend of the year is right around the corner and 69 percent of Americans — an estimated 164 million people — are planning to shop or considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. For the first time in survey history, the numbers include Cyber Monday in addition to Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Sunday.
  “This year, we updated our survey to more accurately capture consumer behavior throughout the entire shopping weekend — Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Consumers will benefit from competitive promotions both in stores and online lasting the course of the weekend, allowing them to find the best gifts at the lowest prices.”
  Of those considering shopping the long holiday weekend, the survey found that 20 percent plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day (32 million) but Black Friday will remain the busiest day with 70 percent planning to shop then (115 million). A substantial 43 percent are expected to shop on Saturday (71 million), with 76 percent saying they will do so specifically to support Small Business Saturday. On Sunday, 21 percent expect to shop (35 million) and 48 percent are expected to shop on Cyber Monday (78 million).
  Of those shopping, 66 percent said they’re doing so to take advantage of deals and promotions retailers will offer, while 26 percent cited the tradition of shopping over Thanksgiving weekend and 23 percent said it’s something to do over the holiday weekend. Another 23 percent said it is when they start their holiday shopping.
  According to the survey, 56 percent of Americans have already started their holiday shopping, but most still have a long way to go. Only 12 percent of consumers have completed at least half of their shopping, while only 2 percent have finished all of their holiday shopping.
  When asked what they enjoy the most about shopping during the holidays, 35 percent said it is a family tradition while 23 percent said they most enjoy holiday decorations and displays; 18 percent cited finding the perfect gift for someone.
  “While the utility of the weekend will continue to draw shoppers into stores and online to efficiently and inexpensively check off their lists, we’re also seeing consumers report tradition and the opportunity to partake in holiday cheer as reasons for shopping, too,” Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “By now, people know what sort of deals they can expect to see during the weekend and are budgeting for them accordingly, and in many cases expertly.”
  “For Gen Z, the holiday shopping weekend is a can’t-miss opportunity,” Goodfellow said. “This group overwhelmingly sees in-store shopping as a valuable way to connect with others, be it friends, family or store associates at their favorite retailers.”
  While many consumers will take advantage of deals over Thanksgiving weekend, 31 percent will refrain from shopping that weekend. Of those not planning to participate, 52 percent won’t shop because they do not enjoy the experience and 51 percent say they never shop during Thanksgiving weekend. Of those not shopping, 46 percent said nothing would change their mind but 27 percent said a good sale or discount on an item they want could get them to shop.

November 7, 2017

Meijer Grows Online Presence

Offers Thousands of General Merchandise Items for Home Delivery

  Meijer is gearing up for the holidays by adding thousands of general merchandise items to its popular store-to-door home delivery service, challenging online retailers as competition for customer wallets continues to increase for Thanksgiving, Christmas and seasonal celebrations.
  The general merchandise items now available through Meijer Home Delivery includes the season's hottest gifts and toys, as well as wrapping paper, artificial trees and Christmas decorations. Other items added to a total of more than 70,000 fresh produce, grocery and general merchandise items hand-picked by Shipt shoppers from local Meijer stores include electronics like TVs, tablets, headphones, drones and gaming systems.
  "We've had tremendous success delivering groceries to our customers across the Midwest, so we are very pleased to offer them the convenience of having their holiday gifts delivered to their doorstep as well," Meijer President & CEO Rick Keyes said. "Whether you are looking for a turkey, toys and gifts or even decorations, our brick–and-mortar stores combined with a personal shopping solution provides something for everyone's holiday shopping needs."
  The National Retail Federation expects retail sales in November and December – excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – to increase as much as 4 percent this year, for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year.
  Because most Meijer stores are open 24-hours-a-day, customers can choose delivery times most convenient for them, which gives people the flexibility to shop and receive orders very early in the morning or late at night.
  Meijer has also provided home delivery service members the ability to earn mPerks Rewards that can be redeemed in store, as well as offering sales on hundreds of items each week found through the Shipt app.
  Meijer customers can sign up for the service for $99 per year. Unlimited deliveries are free for orders over $35; a flat $7 delivery fee is added to any orders under $35.

November 1, 2017

Giant Kicks Off Annual Turkey Drive in Central PA

Campaign will Provide a Total of 1.6 Million Meals in Four States

  Giant Food Stores’ annual Feeding Our Neighbors Every Day holiday campaign will provide 1.6 million meals to those in need this Thanksgiving. Giant kicked off the campaign today with 1,500 turkeys and $10,000 to Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and 250 turkeys and $5,000 each to Bethesda Mission, New Hope Ministries and Project SHARE.
  “During this season of giving, Giant is helping reach even more food insecure families,” said Tom Lenkevich, Giant President. “Giant will donate more than $270,000 in turkeys and gift cards to regional food banks in four states. This is our largest Thanksgiving donation to date providing 1.6 million meals to our neighbors in need this holiday.”
  Joe Arthur, Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, said, “We are thrilled that Giant is once again kicking off our holiday turkey drive, and this year they have increased their donation to 1,500 turkeys, each of which will provide many meals for struggling Central Pennsylvania families! We hope this generous Giant gift will inspire other businesses and donors to share their good fortune as well because demand for nutritious food assistance remains very high.”
  According to Scott Dunwoody, Bethesda Mission’s Executive Director, "Giant Food Stores has been a wonderful partner with Bethesda Mission for many years, and the donation of 250 turkeys will be the centerpiece for the holiday meals served at Bethesda Mission's Men's Shelter on Thanksgiving and Christmas for hundreds of guests; thank you Giant!"
  "What would it mean if you didn't have to worry about where you would sleep tonight? Or what you would eat? Or what you will wear? How would it feel to know that someone is looking out for you, that someone cares? We are so grateful to our community and friends like Giant Food Stores who are making sure our neighbors this Thanksgiving will be able to celebrate with their families,” said New Hope Ministries Executive Director Eric Sauders. “Thanks guys, and Happy Thanksgiving!"
  “This donation of turkeys underscores Giant’s depth of generosity not only to Project SHARE but to the Carlisle community,” said Bob Weed, interim CEO at Project SHARE. “We are privileged to have them as our partner in obtaining our vision of Nourishing our Community . . . Awakening Hope! This donation significantly strengthens our efforts this holiday season and helps our clients as they gather around their tables for a wholesome traditional Thanksgiving meal.”
PICTURED: Joe Arthur, Central PA Food Bank; Samantha Krepps, Giant Food Store; Eric Saunders, New Hope Ministries; Scott Dunwoody, Bethesda Mission and Bob Weed, Project Share.

October 19, 2017

Supervalu Acquiring AG of Florida

Creates opportunities to leverage Associated Grocers' approximate 1.5 million square feet of owned real estate and enhance Associated Grocers' international business serving the Caribbean, Central and South America and Asia

  A bombshell was dropped on the trade when Supervalu, Inc. and Associated Grocers of Florida, Inc. announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement for Supervalu to acquire Associated Grocers in a transaction valued at approximately $180 million.
  This transaction, announced on October 18, provides Supervalu with the ability to expand its operations into a new part of Florida as well as provides new opportunities to bring Supervalu’s products and services to Associated Grocers' diverse customer base in South Florida, the Caribbean, and other international markets. Additionally, as part of the pending transaction, Supervalu has reached a long-term supply agreement with Associated Grocers' largest customer that will go into effect upon the closing of the transaction.
  Founded in 1945, Associated Grocers is a retailer-owned cooperative that distributes full lines of grocery and general merchandise to independent retailers, primarily in South Florida, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Asia. Associated Grocers' customer base of conventional, specialty and ethnic stores includes an exciting mix of multi-cultural independent grocers that complements Supervalu’s customer base. Supervalu expects the combined company will be well positioned to efficiently serve its broad range of customers and offer an array of value added services, helping Associated Grocers and Supervalu customers compete and thrive in an increasingly demanding grocery environment. During Associated Grocers' last fiscal year, which ended on July 29, 2017, Associated Grocers' revenues were approximately $650 million, estimated by Supervalu under its accounting policies.
  "Associated Grocers represents a great opportunity for us to further expand our wholesale business into another important region," said Mark Gross, Supervalu’s President and Chief Executive Officer. "We believe Supervalu is uniquely positioned to be the supplier of choice across the grocery industry and this acquisition is another example of how we're delivering on our growth strategy."
  Gross continued, "Christopher Miller and his talented team have done outstanding work to build and support a dynamic and diverse retailer base. We're looking forward to welcoming the strengths and talents of the Associated Grocers team to Supervalu and working together so that, once the transaction is complete, we can bring the benefits of our combined scale and expertise to their customers to help them better compete in the evolving grocery industry."
  "I'm very excited about this announcement," said Associated Grocers' President, Christopher Miller. "Being a part of Supervalu will provide us with access to resources, products, services and overall capabilities that are essential to helping us continue to provide top-notch support to our customers. Supervalu and Associated Grocers share a common dedication and commitment to the independent retailer and together we'll be in a great position to provide opportunities, innovation and increased value to our customers, both domestically and in foreign markets."
  The transaction, which was approved by each company's board of directors, is currently expected to close by the end of calendar year 2017, subject to approval by Associated Grocers' shareholders and other customary closing conditions. Following completion of the merger, Associated Grocers will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Supervalu.
  Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP acted as Supervalu’s legal counsel. RBC Capital Markets LLC acted as financial advisor to Associated Grocers of Florida and Akerman LLP acted as Associated Grocers' legal counsel.
Pictured: MARK GROSS

October 18, 2017

Buehler's Sold to Employees

Thirteen Supermarkets Sold to ESOP

  E&H Family Group, parent company of Buehler’s, has announced the sale of its 13 supermarkets to employees in the form of an employee stock ownership program (ESOP). All 2,100 employees will be retained in the transition and eligible employees will become owners. All 13 supermarkets will remain open with the same hours of operation.
  “This was a decision we did not take lightly. Our generation of Buehlers are reaching retirement age and we think this a better option than selling the business to outsiders,” said Dan Buehler, President & COO, E&H Family Group. “We want these supermarkets to be here serving customers and providing good jobs well into the future. There’s no one better qualified than our own employees to carry on that mission. We believe that the transition to an ESOP is a winning solution for the Buehler family, our employees and the communities we serve.”
  The ESOP will be operated by the newly-formed Buehler’s Fresh Foods, retaining the familiar name and led by an experienced team of Buehler’s veterans, including Dan Shanahan, Buehler’s Fresh Foods president and COO since 2011, Rick Lowe, VP of Human Resources of E&H Family Group since 1977, and Mike Davidson, VP of Store Operations since 2015.
  Shanahan will serve as President and CEO of the new company, Lowe will be Executive Vice President and CAO and Davidson will be Executive Vice President of Store Operations.
  E&H Family Group, owned by the Buehler family of Wooster, also operates 22 hardware stores in Ohio under the E&H Ace Hardware name. The sale has no impact on the E&H Hardware Group, which will continue operating under Buehler family ownership.
  The Food Partners represented E&H Family Group in its evaluation of strategic alternatives including as its financial advisor in the transaction.
  Buehler’s Fresh Foods grocery store was founded in 1929 by E.L. (Ed) Buehler and his wife, Helen. After opening their first store in New Philadelphia, the Buehler family moved the business to Wooster in 1932 and opened a store near the northeast corner of Public Square. The new store prospered under Ed’s direction with his emphasis on customer service, free delivery, garden-fresh produce and a clean, friendly grocery store atmosphere. Four generations of Buehlers have worked in the family business since its founding.
  “This is the right thing to do for our family, our customers and suppliers, and I know my brother Gene and our mom and dad would agree,” said Don Buehler, who worked in the store as a child and who stepped back from day-to-day responsibilities in the family business in June 1997 after decades of service. “We have deep and longstanding relationships with thousands of customers and farmers in the communities we serve, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their loyalty and support over the past 88 years.”
  Don and his brother Gene, who passed away in 2011, were the second generation to oversee the company, and they helped further deepen the family’s ties to the community. They were inducted together into the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce Business Wall of Fame in 2007 and are both in the Ohio Grocers Hall of Fame.
  The brothers’ five sons, known as “The Buehler Boys,” built on that tradition, assuming leadership of the company in the late 1990s.
  Rick Lowe, VP of Human Resources of E&H Family Group and now a principal of the new company, has been married to Gene Buehler’s daughter, Linda, since 1974.
  “The Buehler family is not going away,” said Dan Buehler. “We’ve always been a family operated independent business that’s very involved in our communities. Our customers are our neighbors and friends. We live in the communities we serve, we’re committed to them and we will continue to support them.”

May 16, 2017

7-Eleven Acquiring 1,108 C-Stores

  7 Eleven, Inc., the largest chain in the convenience-retailing industry, has entered into an asset purchase agreement with Sunoco LP. As part of the agreement, 7 Eleven will acquire approximately 1,108 convenience stores located in 18 states.
  “This acquisition supports our growth strategy in key geographic areas including Florida, mid-Atlantic states, Northeast states, and Central Texas,” said Joe DePinto, President and Chief Executive Officer of 7 Eleven Inc. “It also provides 7 Eleven entry into Houston, the 4th largest city in the United States, and a strong presence in Corpus Christi and across South Texas.   Total consideration in the transaction is $3.3 billion in cash plus fuel, merchandise and other inventories. SUN expects to use the proceeds to repay indebtedness and for general partnership purposes.
  SUN President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Owens stated, "The sale of these retail assets to 7-Eleven is the beginning of an exciting evolution for SUN into a premier nationwide fuel supplier. Our supply agreement with 7- Eleven provides SUN with a predictable long-term income stream, and this transaction quickly allows SUN to improve its financial profile."
  Assets being sold to 7-Eleven include approximately 1,110 convenience stores in 19 geographic regions primarily along the East Coast and in Texas, and the associated trademarks and intellectual property of the Laredo Taco Company and Stripes. As part of the transaction, SUN will enter into a 15-year take-or-pay fuel supply agreement with a 7-Eleven subsidiary under which SUN will supply approximately 2.2 billion gallons of fuel annually. This 1 supply agreement will have guaranteed annual payments to SUN, provides that 7-Eleven will continue to use the Sunoco brand at currently branded Sunoco stores and includes committed growth in future periods.
  Approximately 200 convenience stores in North and West Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma will be sold in a separate process. SUN's Aloha Petroleum business unit in Hawaii will continue to operate its highly efficient and integrated business model within SUN. Likewise, the transaction does not include SUN's highly successful APlus franchisee-operated stores.
  SUN's transaction with 7-Eleven is the first step in SUN's strategic shift away from company-operated convenience stores to focus on its industry-leading fuel supply business. Led by the iconic Sunoco fuel brand and successful APlus franchise, SUN plans to be a leading consolidator in the domestic wholesale fuels business, supplying fuel to a network of more than 8,900 locations of third-party dealers, distributors and other commercial customers, with an enhanced focus on MLP qualifying income. Additionally, the proceeds received in this transaction will be used to further enhance SUN's credit profile and leverage profile.
  7 Eleven, Inc. has 8,707 stores in the United States and Canada. This acquisition will be one of the largest in 7 Eleven, Inc.’s history, and it will bring 7 Eleven, Inc.’s total number of stores to 9,815 in the U.S. and Canada.

January 24, 2017

Cooking Up A Comeback for a 100-Year-Old Tomato Soup Recipe

  Campbell is taking us back 100 years and deep into their archives. In the back of the vault we discovered our founder’s original 1915 Campbell’s Beefsteak Tomato Soup recipe and decided to not only make the original recipe once again, but package and share a limited batch with consumers.
  Many of us have moments like this. You’re going through an old collection of pictures and keepsakes and happen to find a gem. You pull it out, set it aside and share it with family and friends. It triggers memories of the past, brings people together and reminds you of your heritage—where you came from.
  With the food industry undergoing some pretty sizeable shifts to respond to changing consumer demand for simple and real food, the Dr. John Dorrance recipe reminds that he pioneered the idea of bringing real food to consumers and was ahead of his time. He gave Campbell a heritage that they can be proud of—that taps into its purpose as a food company.
  We made a limited supply of 10,000 jars using seasonal New Jersey beefsteak tomatoes from southern New Jersey farms. The original Beefsteak Tomato Soup features a perfect balance of texture and sweet and tart flavors — making it just as good as it was 100 years ago.   You can find Campbell’s Beefsteak Tomato Soup in select Cracker Barrel stores across New Jersey and Pennsylvania this January.

January 4, 2017

Four Key Beverage Industry Trends for 2017

Are Changing What Consumer Buy

  Changing demographics and purchasing behaviors make it crucial for beverage industry leaders to understand and capitalize on key consumer insights that identify growing trends. Evergreen Packaging, a global leader in creating fiber-based packaging solutions, has worked with EcoFocus Worldwide to identify four key trends from the annual EcoFocus Trend Study that reveals growing themes expected to impact the industry in the coming year.
  “The research reveals key areas brands must deliver on in order to appeal to discerning consumers in 2017,” said Erin Reynolds, marketing director for Evergreen Packaging. “The consumer insights gained through the EcoFocus Trend Study reveal opportunities for choosing packaging that provides appropriate product protection and aligns with enhanced brand values for health and environmental responsibility. At Evergreen Packaging we are committed to helping our customers achieve their corporate goals and meeting changing consumer needs.”
  The survey, conducted independently by EcoFocus Worldwide, examines wellness and sustainability trends impacting the food and beverage industry. In its seventh year, new study results show how consumer tastes, demographics and values are reshaping purchasing decisions. These shifts in consumer priorities are prompting companies to make changes. From Walmart’s commitment to sustainably sourced packaging to McDonalds’ pledge to source 100 percent of all fiber-based packaging from recycled or certified sources by 2020, and Food Business News declaring clean labeling as the top trend of the year – it is clear that fresh and sustainable will be trends at the heart of consumer demands throughout 2017.
  “These study results show that a majority of grocery shoppers have identified products’ fresh, clean, and sustainable benefits among their top purchase priorities when it comes to healthier choices,” said study author and Chief Executive Officer of EcoFocus Worldwide, Linda Gilbert. “The message is clear: if you are a brand aiming to attract consumers to your healthy beverages, be sure your packaging and processing line up with your ingredient list. And be sure to tell your fresh and clean story effectively on your packaging.”
  Insights from the research call out four trends: 1) Millennials’ impact on food and beverage priorities, 2) the importance of clean packaging, 3) the power of leveraging of fresh and clean attributes to position healthy products, and 4) the growing popularity of functional beverages:
Millennials hold huge buying power in today’s market, and are expected to spend more than $200 billion in 2017 alone. In order to successfully reach Millennials, it’s important for brands to understand what influences their purchasing. According to Forbes, more than 50 percent of Millennials make an effort to buy products from companies that support the causes they care about, and they’re twice as likely to care about whether or not their food is organic than any other generation. The EcoFocus survey results illustrate additional details that tie into this larger national trend:
• Millennials are leading the escape from mass produced, over-processed and over-packaged foods and beverages with a demand for real, less processed ingredients. They want the preservatives and artificial ingredients out, and natural, nutrient-dense ingredients in.
• 69% of Millennials have changed what they buy in order to avoid artificial ingredients in foods and beverages.
  Millennials aren’t just thinking about the product’s contents, they are differentiating packaging for improved personal and planetary health.
• 73% say they try to buy products in packaging that is recyclable.
• 59% say they look for beverages in packaging that is made with renewable materials.
  The new EcoFocus Study results show the strong clean labeling movement is expanding to clean processing and clean packaging trends. As a recent Prepared Foods article highlights, the rules have been rewritten and clean and clear labeling is the new global standard, extending to a more holistic demand for a clean supply chain. These demands apply to packaging as brands are expanding their transparency on all fronts – from supply chain details to their packaging choices. The EcoFocus study shows:
• 70% of Grocery Shoppers strongly agree or agree that foods and beverages with healthier ingredient lists should use packaging materials that are healthier too. (74% of Millennials)
• With the demand for healthier packaging materials, it’s important to keep in mind that 86% of Grocery Shoppers and 87% of Millennials believe some types of packaging can leave undesirable chemicals in beverages. They say cartons and glass containers are the least likely to do so – and that cartons and glass best protect freshness without preservatives.
  The definition of what makes foods and beverages healthier is becoming increasingly complex. Clean ingredients have moved from a trend to the norm for many categories and brands. Creating products that are fresh and eco-friendly is the new go-to as these attributes will become increasingly crucial contributors to consumer’s measurement of “healthy” in 2017.
• 74% of Grocery Shoppers and 78% of Millennials say better personal health is a big benefit of an eco-friendly lifestyle.
  Many brands have already taken out preservatives and removed artificial ingredients - the next challenge is to leverage packaging to convey and deliver freshness without the chemicals that consumers view as undesirable for their health. Brands need to ask themselves if their packaging is aligned with their focus on clean ingredients and messaging.
• 71% of Grocery Shoppers say that packaging that keeps beverages fresh without preservatives is the most important quality for healthy beverage packaging. (72% of Millennials)
  Grocery shoppers’ perception of different packaging materials heavily impacts the grocery industry. Smart brands and retailers must align with consumer values and effectively communicate the commitments behind their product, processing and packaging choices.
• 67% of Grocery Shoppers and 69% of Millennials say recyclable packaging is an extremely or very important quality for healthy beverage packaging.
• 59% of Grocery Shoppers and 64% of Millennials say packaging made with renewable materials is an extremely or very important quality for healthy beverage packaging.
  Consumers are increasingly looking to beverages to play new roles in their diets and health routines. Drinkable breakfasts and the “snackification” of beverages are fueled by consumer interest in nutrition and performance drinks that act as meal replacements and guilt-free snacks. In fact, BevNet reports that the carbonated soft drink category is continuing a five-year decline while demand for natural and organic drinks increases as consumers gravitate toward healthier options, with natural beverages driving 40% of dollar growth in the industry. Industry leaders should expect consumers in 2017 to demand beverages that work harder, whether for refreshment, satiety, energy, immunity boosting, sleep aid, blood sugar management, or a host of other functional benefits now associated with these multifunctional power beverages.
• When identifying the most desirable nutritional attributes for healthy beverages, grocery shoppers surveyed shared the following preferences:
63% are seeking a good source of calcium.
61% are looking for beverages that are a good source of fiber.
61% want their beverages to contain lowered or reduced sugar.
60% are drawn to beverages that are a good source of antioxidants.
57% want to consume beverages with increased protein.
55% buy beverages because they are a good source of omega 3.
46% of grocery shoppers are looking for beverages that contain probiotics.
  These findings reveal important communication, innovation, and value-added opportunities for beverage manufacturers as they make key decisions in 2017. Overall, consumers put high priorities on making healthy and environmentally responsible purchases. “For consumers, the priorities of health and sustainability are clearly linked together, packaging has a growing role in their perception of both of these attributes,” said Gilbert. “These are powerful synergies that speak to the 2017 consumer’s holistic view of what is healthy.”

December 26, 2016

Patrick Cudahy Donates $5,000 to Hunger Task Force

Holiday Promotion Feeds Local Families in Need

  Patrick Cudahy, The Home of Sweet Apple-Wood Smoked Flavor, has teamed up with Pick 'n Save and Metro Market to Lend a Helping Ham this holiday season by feeding local families in need. Recently, representatives of Patrick Cudahy, Pick 'n Save, and Metro Market presented a check for $5,000 to the executive director of Milwaukee's Hunger Task Force.
  Founded in 1974, Hunger Task Force is Milwaukee's first food bank. The organization provides a safety net of emergency food to a network of local food pantries and meal programs and is the only food bank in Milwaukee that does not charge for food, delivery, or network membership.
  "Patrick Cudahy understands the importance of giving back to our local community and feeding those in need," said Bud Matthews, Patrick Cudahy senior vice president. "This is why we partnered with Pick 'n Save, Metro Market, and our friends at Hunger Task Force to help make a difference, especially leading up to the holidays. We're proud to make this donation today, and we thank loyal patrons of Patrick Cudahy products for helping in this effort."
  Patrick Cudahy raised funds for this donation through a promotion with Pick 'n Save and Metro Market, which serves communities throughout Wisconsin. From November 1 through December 31, Patrick Cudahy is matching the price of retail and deli ham purchases made by customers at participating stores, up to $5,000.
  Pick 'n Save and Metro Market customers also supported this initiative by donating hams directly to Hunger Task Force through their website
  The campaign has also been promoted through Milwaukee radio station 102.9 The HOG. The hams will serve as the centerpiece for meals delivered to local families in need during the holidays.
  "We're proud to partner with Patrick Cudahy to help local families enjoy a festive holiday meal, complete with a ham, this year," said Sherrie Tussler, Hunger Task Force executive director. "This program really makes a positive impact on our local community just in time for the holidays, and we're incredibly grateful for the continued partnership."

December 21, 2016

Carando Cares Serves National Guard Holiday Feast

At Barnes Air National Guard Base

  Carando, the artisans of Classic Italian Meats, hosted a special event to show gratitude for the brave men and women of Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, MA. Recently, Airmen and their families were served a holiday meal from the Massachusetts-based company.
  This meal is part of the ongoing Carando Cares program, an initiative which supports organizations that are making a positive difference in local communities. The hundreds in attendance were served a feast of Carando premium hams, green beans, oven roasted potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate chip cookies.
  With its production facility located in nearby Springfield, MA, Carando has directly seen the displays of valor and selflessness that Barnes Air National Guard Base Airmen have made. The company wanted to share some holiday cheer with its hometown heroes who protect the nation's freedom.
  "We can never take for granted all of the sacrifices that our military makes for us," said Michael J. Sargent, Carando senior brand manager. "It is truly an honor to serve these individuals who protect the nation's freedom.   "We can never take for granted all of the sacrifices that our military makes for us," said Michael J. Sargent, Carando senior brand manager. "It is truly an honor to serve these individuals who have served us. This meal is just our way of saying 'thank you' for all of their dedication and the sacrifices they have made for our country."   Carando Cares has made more than $250,000 in monetary and in-kind donations since the program's inception in 2013.


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