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News Briefs

  • 12/28/2022

    Instacart Cuts Internal Valuation By 20%: Report

    Instacart HQ teaser

    Online grocery platform Instacart has cut its internal valuation to around $10 billion, according to two people familiar with the situation, as reported by The Information. The new valuation is 20% lower than the one it had in October and nearly 75% lower than the price that investors paid for shares early last year, when its paper valuation was $39 billion.

    In October, the 10-year-old delivery firm also delayed its much-awaited IPO amid market uncertainty, as reported by Reuters.

    In addition to an unfavorable business climate, Instacart has recently been  affected by more competition in the grocery delivery space as an increased number of retailers use multiple delivery companies, including DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub.

    In a recent interview with Progressive Grocers, Instacart CEO Fidji Simo said that the company is focusing on adding solutions for grocers that focus on the three pillars of the business: the Instacart App, the Instacart Platform and the advertising arm.

    San Francisco-based Instacart partners with more than 1,000 national, regional and local retail banners to facilitate online shopping, delivery and pickup services from more than 75,000 stores across North America on the Instacart Marketplace.

  • 12/28/2022

    The Biggest Google Searches of 2022

    Google search

    It’s as much of a tradition as a midnight “Auld Lang Syne”: A trends recap of the soon-to-end year.

    A look at Google's top searches for 2022 provides a glimpse at what was on consumers’ minds – and leading their fingertips on screens – over the past 12 months. Overall, the early 2022 trend of Wordle topped the list, followed by the term “election results” and the celebrity name Betty White following her passing.

    Relevant to the grocery and retail industry, the top terms related to product shortages were, in order, diesel shortage, baby formula shortage, tampon shortage, Adderall shortage, sriracha shortage, food shortage, cream cheese shortage, avocado shortage and lettuce shortage.

    Consumers continuing to cook at home following the pandemic and during a year marked by continually spiking food costs also looked to Google to find buzzworthy recipes. Chief among those recipes in 2022 – peaking in November – was sugo, an Italian sauce made with tomatoes, basil, garlic, onion and olive oil.

    Other trending dishes for the year according to Google’s data were Cincinnati chili, “Marry Me” chicken, quick pancakes, mango pie, green goddess salad and grinder sandwiches. Celebrity recipes also made the top 10, including a Jennifer Aniston salad and Bella Hadid sandwich, while a spaghetti dish inspired by the streaming show “The Bear” also caused consumers to look for how to make it.

    [Read more: "Do Viral TikTok Trends Translate to Grocery Purchases?"]

    Social media platform TikTok also released its findings on foods trends of the past year based on its content. Leading the way was cloud bread with 3.4 billion views, followed by baked oats with 1.3 billion views, charcuterie boards with 1.2 billion views, pasta chips with 1.1 billion views and mug cake with one billion views. Throughout the year, grocers may have heard shopper queries about other TikTok-inspired fare that racked up views, like birria tacos, pink sauce and butter boards.

  • 12/27/2022

    New AI Solution Optimizes Shelf Facings

    Retail shelf

    Retail shelf intelligence firm Pensa Systems has introduced a new AI solution for CPGs designed to improve their retail shelf facings. The solution provides a continuous view of actual products on retail shelves across several stores.

    Pensa developed the capability to help CPGs optimize their shelf facings to ultimately improve visibility and revenue growth. Traditionally, the allocation for facings has been based on estimates of sales volume and velocity gleaned from previous point-of-sale data and simulations.

    [Read more: "Why Grocers Can't Afford to Ignore Shelf-Edge Technology"]

    After its AI distinguishes between products on a shelf, the Pensa solution analyzes the video stream of images to provide a highly accurate view of inventory. According to Pensa, this new approach correlates real on-shelf product availability with the number of facings per product.  

    “Optimizing the shelf is now possible in a new way leveraging the practical power of computer vision and AI,” explained Richard Schwartz, Pensa’s president and CEO. “Basing facings analysis on a highly-accurate and granular view of what’s on the shelf and available for sale heralds a new era of brands and retailers working closely together to optimize facings for mutual benefit.”

    Based in Austin, Texas, Pensa works with a variety of CPG brands and retailers, such as General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Anheuser-Busch, InBev, Unilever and Circle K, among others.

  • 12/22/2022

    Earth Fare Debuting Free Monthly Webinars

    In January, when most people are still keen to stick to their New Year’s resolutions, natural and organic grocery store chain Earth Fare will roll out a free monthly webinar series featuring educational content to help consumers live healthier lives.

    The series will kick off on Jan. 12, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. EST with Amber Lynn Vitale, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based vitamin and supplement maker Garden of Life, instructing attendees on health benefits of safe detoxes. Vitale, a certified nutritionist, ayurvedic clinical consultant, advanced bodyworker and yoga therapist who collaborates with functional-medicine doctors and other integrative practitioners, has been a part of the Garden of Life education team since 2014. 

    [Read more: "Earth Fare Lowers Prices on Pantry Essentials"]

    “When executed safely, cleanses and detoxes can be extremely effective at helping various systems in the body function at peak levels,” noted Vitale. “The start of a brand-new year offers us the opportunity to hit our body’s reset button and establish healthier habits that will reap benefits the whole year.”

    During January, all Garden of Life products sold at Earth Fare will be 25% off, with webinar participants receiving a $10-off coupon on a $50 purchase of any items in the store. 

    “Garden of Life shares Earth Fare’s promise to provide our customers not only with the foods and products to lead a healthier lifestyle, but also the education and resources to confidently incorporate healthier habits into their lives,” said Laurie Aker, director of marketing at Asheville, N.C.-based Earth Fare. “We are thrilled to partner with them on what we hope will be the first of many impactful educational opportunities.”

    Earth Fare operates under Hulsing Enterprises and its president and CEO, Dennis Hulsing, and Earth Fare’s COO, Henry Kugler. The grocer operates more than 20 locations in eight Southeast and Midwest states. 

  • 12/22/2022

    Albertsons Cos. Releases Update on Special Dividend

    court money teaser

    Albertsons Cos. has revealed that on Dec. 19, the State of Washington Supreme Court set a date for the review of the temporary restraining order against the company’s previously announced $6.85-per-common-share special dividend. The Washington Supreme Court, sitting en banc, will review the appeal of the attorney general of the State of Washington on Feb. 9, 2023. The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until there is a further order issued by the Washington Supreme Court. Albertsons has filed a motion to further expedite the Washington Supreme Court’s en banc review.

    The company also noted that on Dec. 20, the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia denied the motion filed by the California, Illinois and District of Columbia attorneys general for an injunction pending appeal and an administrative stay of the payment of the special dividend. On Nov. 8, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied the request by the California, Illinois and District of Columbia attorneys general for a temporary restraining order against the payment of the special dividend.

    Albertsons Cos. continues to maintain that the claim brought by the attorney general of the State of Washington, as well as the similar lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of California, Illinois and the District of Columbia, is meritless and provides no legal basis for preventing the payment of the special dividend. Albertsons’ position has been supported by favorable rulings in both circuit and district courts in the District of Columbia, and a Washington state court.

    Albertsons Cos.’ proposed merger with The Kroger Co. is continuing through required regulatory review, which includes obtaining clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

    Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons  is No. 9 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on the list.

  • 12/22/2022

    Good Karma Foods Appoints New CEO

    Good Karma Foods CEO

    Plant-based milk and dairy company Good Karma Foods has a new leader. The Boulder, Colo.-based producer announced the hiring of Mike Murray as its new CEO.

    Murray brings more than 25 years of CPG experience to his latest role. He joins Good Karma from Teton Waters Ranch, where he helped that regeneratively-raised beef solutions become the fastest-growing natural dinner sausage brand. His background includes leadership positions at Free2b Foods, So Delicious Dairy Free, WhiteWave Foods Co. and Larabar.

    [Read more: "Outpost Natural Foods General Manager to Depart"]

    “I am looking forward to leveraging my experience and passion for galvanizing food system change to help the team bring Good Karma’s portfolio of delicious and sustainable plant-based solutions to more households,” said Murray. “Our team has a compelling opportunity to build upon the strong equity of Good Karma to deliver a variety of solutions that help people do good every single day with their consumption choices.” 

    In addition to onboarding a new CEO, Good Karma announced that it is set to complete a fresh round of funding to accelerate growth. The company is backed by investors such as Valor Siren Ventures and Loft Growth Partners.

    “Even in light of inflationary pressures, families continue to flock to plant-based categories and segments, and Good Karma’s unique value proposition combining the best of plants to provide unparalleled nourishment like no other continues to show exciting promise,” remarked Brian King, Good Karma’s chairman of the board. “As our investors renew their partnership with Good Karma, and Mike joins the team, we are all looking forward to the brand realizing its leadership position in a variety of growing plant-based categories.”

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