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THE FRIDAY 5: The Top Women In Grocery; Kroger Defends Post-Merger Health Services

Growth for 2 regional grocers, the return of Giant Food exec also made news
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer

Welcome to The Friday 5, Progressive Grocer’s weekly roundup of the top news and trends in the food retail industry. Each Friday, we’ll take a look at the stories that are most important to our readers and also keep tabs on the trends that are poised to impact grocers.

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Lynette Ackley
Meijer's Lynette Ackley was named at this year's Top Women In Grocery Retail Trailblazer.

1. PG Names This Year’s Top Women In Grocery

Progressive Grocer’s most-clicked stories list this week was dominated by coverage of our annual Top Women In Grocery awards. Out of an astonishing 1,150-plus submissions this year, our judges pared the field down to 425 winners, each of which displayed amazing stories of grit, perseverance, ingenuity and sheer love of the industry that will no doubt sustain grocery as it moves confidently into the future.

Readers were interested to see which senior-level executivesrising stars and store managers made the list of honorees this year, and took particular interest in the naming of Lynette Ackley, Meijer’s group VP of health and beauty, household essentials, and hardlines, as this year’s retail trailblazer, and of Mindy Sherwood, president, global Walmart and chief sales officer at Procter & Gamble, as this year’s CPG trailblazer.

2. Festival Foods, Market 32 Set for Growth

PG readers were interested in expansion plans from Wisconsin-based Skogen’s Festival Foods, which will open two new stores in the state later this year. The Kimberly store, located at 800 East Maes Avenue, will open Sept. 20, followed by the Hudson store, which will open Nov. 8 at 1616 Crest View Drive.

Record growth for Market 32 also garnered reader attention this week. Price Chopper/Market 32 opened four new Market 32 stores on June 14 in the Capital Region: in the city of Albany and the towns of Colonie, Niskayuna and North Greenbush. The four new locations bring the number of Market 32 stores to 46 throughout the grocery store chain’s six-state footprint.

“This is a momentous day for the company,” noted Blaine Bringhurst, Price Chopper/Market 32 president. “In the more than 90 years we’ve been serving our customers and communities, we’ve never opened four stores simultaneously. Doing it here – right where we started in the Capital Region – makes it even more special. We couldn’t be more excited to celebrate with our customers in our hometown region.”

Tonya Herring
Industry vet Tonya Herring is rejoining Giant Food as its chief merchant.

3. A New, Albeit Familiar, Chief Merchant at Giant Food

Industry vet Tonya Herring is coming back to the Giant Food banner in a new role. The 30-year grocery professional was named chief merchant for the Washington, D.C.-area retailer, moving on from her most recent position as SVP of omnichannel development for Peapod Digital Labs, supporting Giant Food’s parent company Ahold Delhaize USA. 

4. Ahold Delhaize, Mondelez International CEOs Take the Stage

PG was on the ground at The Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Summit in Chicago last week, which drew retail and CPG executives together to help build the future through shared commitments. The 2024 summit saw participating leaders, including Frans Muller, president and CEO of Ahold Delhaize, and Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO of Mondelēz International, agreeing on and emphasizing the importance of candor and immediacy.

The executives recapped progress that the group and its members have made over five high-priority Acceleration Areas, including deforestation and conversion-free supply chains, Golden Design Rules for packaging, employee well-being, human rights due diligence in own operations and reductions in emissions. In addition, they challenged executives to think about and engage in “elephant in the room” topics that may be uncomfortable or unknown but must be broached.

“There has been great momentum in Acceleration Areas, but we know the world is also turning quite fast and we all have a lot of challenges in society and in economics as well. So, most likely, we have to speed up, and that’s why our ambition — Dirk and myself together with CEOs — is to accelerate impact and deepen the focus. The solutions are only achievable when we collaborate,” Muller told the group.

5. Kroger Defends Health Services Following Planned Merger

Readers were drawn to news that The Kroger Co. recently addressed concerns that arose during a Health Care Market Oversight (HCMO) Review Board meeting on its proposed merger with Albertsons Cos. and divestiture plan with C&S LLC, after the community review board voted to recommend that the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reject the Kroger-Albertsons merger.

“Fred Meyer and Safeway play a critical role in providing necessary health care services, medicine and healthy food options across the state,” wrote Kroger Health President Colleen Lindholz in the June 12 letter to Dr. Sejal Hathi, of the OHA, in Salem. “We take great pride in having done so for 100 years, fueled by our work force of more than 13,000 associates. As the operator of these beloved banners, we have a responsibility to the communities we serve and take this, along with your concern for the health and well-being of Oregon’s citizens, very seriously.”

Added Lindholz: “We are certain that C&S’ considerable resources and regional expertise, along with the resources it will gain as part of the divestiture package, will position it to successfully operate stores and pharmacies following the merger close.”

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