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Retailers balance risk, reward in adding natural products

Supermarkets are highly selective in adding natural and organic products, but they are more likely to embrace items from brands that truly understand their needs.

That was the consensus of a panel discussing this topic during the Supermarket News Health and Wellness Summit at Expo West in Anaheim, Calif.

For new products, “we need it to be on trend now,” said Rhonda Siltman, category manager, natural and organic, Coborn’s, St. Cloud, Minn. “It needs to be understandable today, with understandable value, since we are a conventional supermarket.”

Despite that caveat, Coborn’s wants to be current in taking on new items at a time when the natural and organic segment is performing very well for the company.

“We like to be first to market,” she said. “I want us to be a destination for this. I’m willing to take a risk if a vendor has done their homework.”

Doing one’s homework often means understanding not only the needs of the supermarket channel, but of specific retailers, panelists said.

“If you’re a brand, you need to understand the strategy of the store banner,” said Scott Silverman, VP, customer insights and growth solutions, KeHE Distributors, Naperville, Ill.

“You also must prove the brand has impact in the category,” he added. “Start locally, because you need proof of concept on what works. You need to tell your brand’s story in-store. Can the brand have impact in the category that’s scalable and makes sense?”

When working with supermarkets, as opposed to other types of retailers, “the cost of entry is greater and the risks are higher,” Silverman said.

Moreover, new items need to find their special niche, and it doesn’t have to be about product innovation alone.

“Let’s say you have a new blue corn chip product that enhances retailer margins,” Silverman said. “Margin enhancement is another way to approach supermarkets.”

He emphasized that the supermarket channel is making good strides with natural and organic and needs to focus more on marketing and communications.

“Supermarkets are doing more than ever in bringing in items and dedicating more space on shelves,” he said. “That’s half the job. The other half I’d like to see involves more integrated marketing campaigns telling communities why these products make a difference.”

This involves staff training and consumer education, he emphasized.

“It’s telling the stories of the brands. Traditional grocers have big megaphones. They can amplify the message and benefits to help Americans think differently about food and agriculture.”

Todd MacGrath, director of conventional accounts, Presence Marketing, a natural and organic brokerage based in South Barrington, Ill., outlined a number of factors he considers in deciding whether to bring new brands into his company’s portfolio.

“Are brands prepared for the cost of entry and cost of promotion?” he said. “What’s been their success in the natural channel? What can they offer to the supermarket trade?”

He said it’s important “to understand a brand’s scalability, in terms of how much they can take on.”

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Publix Associates Changing Lives by Helping the Hungry

Courtesy of
Across our six state operating areas you’ll see and meet Publix people serving our customers in stores, serving each other in times of need and serving our communities throughout the year. It’s part of our culture to be responsible citizens and give back to the neighborhoods where we work and live. Whether it’s supporting our corporate charities like Special Olympics, March of Dimes, Children’s Miracle Network, Food For All, or volunteering our time, talents and financial support to causes close to our hearts, Publix Associates are committed to making a positive impact in our stores and in our community.

The core of what makes us successful – our secret sauce – are our associates, 174,000 strong and counting! We look for people to join our team who are passionate about food and service and part of that service comes with having servant’s heart. We often hear stories of Publix People helping those in need, changing lives and making a difference. As we celebrate 85 years of service, we’re proud to share their stories with you, our extended Publix Family. It’s because of our generous customers, that we are able to grow and give back. Thank you for shopping with us over the years.

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Top-5 Ways Supermarkets Help Shoppers Live Healthy

Courtesy of FMI News
March 17, 2015 – Arlington, VA – Consumers have an ally in their efforts to live healthy lives finds the latest report Retail Contributions to Health and Wellness from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). For the third year, FMI has surveyed grocers on how they are meeting the needs of shoppers who are seeking healthier lifestyles. Here’s how supermarkets are helping shoppers live healthier:

1. Investing in health and wellness. More than half (54%) of grocers surveyed have established health and wellness programs for both customers and employees. The majority of these programs include community health events, product sampling, healthy recipes, store tours, cooking demonstrations, health screenings, and additional health and wellness services.

2. Hiring health, wellness and cooking professionals and teaching skills. In addition to employing pharmacists, 95% of grocery stores surveyed report employ dietitians. A majority of supermarkets (76%) employed a chef at all or some stores. Three out of four grocery store respondents offer cooking classes to shoppers with the majority of classes geared towards dietary needs, such as diabetes. In addition, 63% of stores provide weight management classes for adults.

3. Helping shoppers get the health information they need. About half (48%) of survey responds say supermarket dietitians and pharmacist are working together to make customer-specific recommendations. In addition, 52% of them say they are referring customers/patients to each other for counsel. Supermarkets surveyed report labeling products on the shelf as gluten free (90%), organic (81%), low sodium (66%) and even heart healthy (62%).

4. Being your one-stop-shop for health care. In addition to many stores offering pharmacies, 70% of grocery store respondents have in-store clinics in some or all stores, an increase from 40% only a year ago. These in-store clinics and pharmacies offer a variety of health care services, including flu shots; pneumonia, travel and HPV vaccines; blood pressure, blood glucose and BMI screenings.

5. Helping families eat together. “Beyond classes and recipes cited in the survey, grocers are aware of the numerous studies that cite the benefits of families eating together more often. In 2014, they clearly embraced this concept with 84% saying they are actively promoting communal eating, such as family meals,” said Cathy Polley, RPh, executive director of the FMI Foundation and vice president of health and wellness at FMI.

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Publix ups its game with prototype store

Look out, Whole Foods. You too, Starbucks.

Publix on Thursday will open a prototype store in the Dr. Phillips neighborhood that aims to be much more than a typical supermarket. It offers a cooking school, shopping and delivery services, and a café.

“We’re going to be all things to all people, hopefully,” Publix spokesman Dwaine Stevens said Wednesday. “Everyone has different tastes and wants, and we hope to touch all of those.”

Lakeland-based Publix is unveiling the new store at an intensely competitive time for supermarkets, which are losing market share to big-box stores, drugstores and dollar stores. At the same time, they’re competing with restaurants by providing an array of prepared meals.

“I think we’re going to see more and more of these,” said Phil Lempert, editor of the website and The Food Journal, an industry publication that tracks trends. “This is a very smart move for Publix, and I’m sure they’re going to use a lot of … what works and what doesn’t work and roll out things in other stores in the chain.”

Publix, which has 80 stores in Central Florida, would not say whether other neighborhoods could expect similar markets.

The new store, at 7524 Dr. Phillips Blvd., is in one of Orlando’s more affluent neighborhoods. It’s a mile away from upscale Whole Foods Market and will be the same distance from a Trader Joe’s specialty grocery opening in the area soon. Fresh Market also is nearby, and an older Publix a half mile away will remain open.

At 59,000 square feet, the new Publix is about 30 percent larger than average. At its 1,500-square-foot cooking school, a staff of five chefs will teach classes on everything from basic knife skills to French pastry.

Aspiring cooks can take hands-on classes or simply watch chefs in action. Participants get to eat the food after it’s prepared, so the school has a dining area as well. A dozen people at a time can learn firsthand how to prepare food, while up to 60 can take the more-passive courses. The cost is generally $40 to $60 per session.

Publix has cooking schools in other markets, but this is Central Florida’s first. It is expected to draw shoppers within a 35-mile radius.

Shoppers can buy cookware in the store, and those who take the classes get 20 percent discounts.

At Truffles and Trifles cooking school in College Park, owner Marci Arthur said she is not sure how much competition Publix will pose.

“We have a faithful large clientele,” she said. “We know Publix is going to throw a lot of money at this school. That’s fine. Anybody who gets interested in food, I’m happy about it. It benefits me in the long run.”

Whole Foods would not comment specifically on Publix but noted that its nearby store offers cooking courses, too, along with Zumba classes; a juice and coffee bar; and a large indoor and outdoor cafe.

Kitty Mark, a real-estate agent who lives and works in the Dr. Phillips neighborhood, can’t wait for the new Publix. She’s looking forward to trying cooking classes and sampling the new dishes. And the new store is yet another feature to point to when selling homes in the area.

“I think the fact they’re putting a prototype store in the Dr. Phillips area really says a lot about this area,” she said. “They believe in the area.”

Publix’s new store also has an event-planning center, where customers can get help pulling together items from throughout the store for parties.

It will offer a personal-shopping service costing $7.95 and up. Customers can call and place their order, then pick it up or have it delivered for an extra fee. Publix will offer free delivery for party orders of $150 or more.

Other store features include a kiosk for Publix’s new online deli-ordering service, and a cheese specialist who will help customers select and pair more than 200 varieties.

The deli will serve breakfast burritos. Customers can grab half a sandwich and a small salad from a prepared-foods area for $5. For a more substantial meal, they can head to a section of the store with dishes such as tilapia piccata, beef tenderloin and quinoa salad.

A café will sell items such as organically grown coffee, gelato, fresh pizzas and soft pretzels. Publix eventually wants to stock it with all its own private-label goodies.

The café is meant to be “a destination location” for locals who want a cup of coffee or snack, said Chuck Johnston, a Publix bakery-operations trainer.

“We’re going to take Starbucks down,” he said jokingly.

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Harris Teeter / Kroger lowering prices

Harris Teeter lowering prices after Kroger acquisition

Harris Teeter said Wednesday that it is lowering prices on thousands of items in its Charlotte-area and Asheville stores, following its recent acquisition by the Kroger Co.

The price cuts are marked with green tags on shelves in many stores.

“Over the years, our customers have asked us to lower our prices, and we’ve listened by introducing various pricing and promotional strategies which drive value to them,” said spokeswoman Catherine Becker, in a statement. “This new program is the big change our shoppers have been asking for.”

She said the price reductions were enabled by cost savings resulting from “better efficiencies” from the Kroger acquisition.

The cuts are focused on Harris Teeter’s grocery, organic and perishable items. Harris Teeter gave several examples of the price cuts. Rotisserie chickens have been marked down $1 to $5.99, hothouse tomatoes have been reduced $1.50 a pound, to a new price of $1.49 a pound, and Nature Valley Granola Bars have been reduced by 80 cents per package, to $2.65.

The grocer has faced increased competition in its core market in North Carolina. In Charlotte, Walmart has opened its Neighborhood Market grocery-format store and plans more. Whole Foods has one store in the area and is planning two more, and Publix is opening more than a dozen supermarkets, including one that opened Wednesday in Matthews.

Spokeswoman Danna Jones said competition did not play a role in Harris Teeter’s decision.

Harris Teeter has corporate offices in Matthews, its former headquarters, and is a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based Kroger, which completed its $2.5 billion acquisition in January.

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New Publix in Rock Hill, SC…..Opens today, March 26th

New Publix in Rock Hill, SC to change grocery market. Our Rep Christina has been working diligently with the support team and the deli and meat departments, and everyone is looking forward to the opening today.

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