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  • 1/16/2023

    Organic Valley Names New CEO

    Jeff Frank

    Organic Valley has a new CEO. The Midwest dairy farming cooperative revealed that seasoned CPG leader Jeff Frank has been tapped to lead that organization following the retirement of Bob Kirchoff.

    Frank joins Organic Valley from Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods, where he held a variety of roles during a 25-year career with the company. Most recently, he was Hormel’s group VP of grocery products. He also was also president and CEO of the company’s MegaMex Foods business, credited with helping bolster its supply chain and bringing several products to market.  

    Frank earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and Spanish from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, and an executive certificate from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. He has also completed the executive education program at Harvard Business School.

    “We are happy to welcome Jeff as our next CEO to guide organic food and farming into the future,” said Steve Pierson, president of the Organic Valley board of directors and a dairy farmer from Oregon.  “He shares our values and vision of nourishing people, animals and the earth through ethically sourced organic food from small family farms. He has the skills and experience to navigate the complex challenges facing small organic family farms.”

    Added Kirchoff: “I am confident that Jeff will continue to uphold and enhance the reputation and values of Organic Valley. I think it’s the perfect time for new leadership to guide the co-op’s next phase of growth. I’m so proud of the hard work farmers and employees have put in to keep this cooperative moving forward. I am so grateful for having the opportunity the cooperative gave me and the support along the way.”

    For his part, Frank said that he admires Organic Valley’s mission and is eager to collaborate to drive future success.  “I look forward to working with the board, the farmer-members and teams across the cooperative and the industry to expand the impact of this revolutionary and independent food lighthouse, while staying true to its values and mission of producing ethically sourced food from organic family farms,” he noted.

    Based in La Farge, Wis., Organic Valley was founded in 1988 to save, serve and safeguard small organic farms.

  • 1/13/2023

    Albertsons Cos. Seeks Additional Diverse-Owned Suppliers

    Diverse supplier

    Albertsons Cos. continues its effort to work with more diverse-owned suppliers and share their products with shoppers. The retailer has opened its annual application process for potential vendors, including individual, small- and mid-sized businesses that are 51% owned and operated by women, Black, indigenous and people of color, LGBTQ+, veterans or people with disabilities.

    Applications are available online and are being accepted through Jan. 23. Launched in 2021, the Albertsons supplier diversity program also helps diverse businesses access working capital through a collaboration with financial tech company C2FO. To further support supplier diversity, equity and inclusion, Albertsons has hosted a series of virtual summits to engage with interested suppliers and brands.

    [Read more: "Albertsons Cos. Sees Inflation-Driven Increases in Q3"]

    “We believe that when we support and work with underrepresented businesses, we create an inviting grocery store experience that brings people together around the joys of food,” said Monique Lanaux, group VP and chief talent and diversity officer at Albertsons. “Diverse suppliers enable us to continually deliver product innovation and cultural relevance to our shelves, ensuring our curated local assortments are inclusive of the diverse communities we proudly serve.”

    Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates more than 2,200 retail stores with 1,700-plus pharmacies, 402 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 19 manufacturing facilities. It operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 24 well-known banners, among them Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market. Albertsons is No. 9 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of  the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

  • 1/13/2023

    Upshop Appoints 2 Longtime Grocery Leaders to C-Suite

    Ryan Voorhees and Mark Hawthorne

    Store operations tech provider Upshop, which aims to create more connected SaaS-based solutions for retailers, is making some of its own key connections. The company has hired grocery industry leaders Ryan Voorhees (at left) and Mark Hawthorne (at right) as COO and chief innovation and strategy officer, respectively.

    Voorhees’s career spans 25 years in the grocery industry. He joins Upshop following a recent stint as an industry consultant; before that, he served in several roles for Albertsons Cos., including group VP of category management and merchandising support.

    [Read more: "Partnership Opens Doors to New Fulfillment Possibilities for Grocers"]

    Hawthorne is also a veteran of Albertsons, where his most recent position was group VP of analytics and finance. He, too, was a consultant over the past year or so, as a partner with Voorhees. Both Voorhees and Hawthorne will leverage their extensive operational knowledge and demonstrated retail growth success.

    The additions to the Upshop leadership team say they are looking forward to helping retailers as part of their new roles. “Having the customer journey at the center of the business is a requirement, not a consideration,” said Voorhees. “Upshop is there: We have hardwired the customer into the organization, focusing all efforts on maximizing user adoption and financial results for our retail partners. Dedicating ourselves to enabling business process improvement is what’s going to help retailers get the most out of our technology — and help them make their business smarter.”

    Hawthorne agreed. “The goal of our unified, total store platform is to simplify operations across the store,” he remarked. “We offer a solution that marries user simplicity with advanced analytics; providing retailers confidence that they are maximizing labor and limiting waste, all while giving shoppers access to the freshest possible experience.”

    Based in Tampa, Fla., Upshop works with more than 150 retail chains in over 30,000 stores in nine countries.

  • 1/12/2023

    Tech Companies Join Forces to Link Grocers With Local Food Producers


    In a bid to connect grocers with local fresh food producers, two tech providers are teaming up to offer software solutions that speed sourcing and fulfillment. Supply chain software providers iTradeNetwork  and  Big Wheelbarrow have entered into a partnership to help food retailers procure fresh products from small- and mid-sized producers across North America.

    Through this arrangement, iTradeNetwork's customers can gain access to a variety of local farmers and producers. The Big Wheelbarrow platform enables participating grocers to eliminate additional overhead to connect with these producers and also allows products to be delivered directly to stores or distribution centers, often the next day or sometimes the same day.

    [Read more: "Fulfillment Efficiencies High on Grocers’ Digital Resolutions List"]

    “This partnership is a significant move for iTradeNetwork to support hyperlocalization in the fresh supply chain,” remarked Amer Akhtar, CEO at iTradeNetwork. “With this exciting collaboration, our retail customers can meet consumer demand for local, more sustainable products, reduce shrink and food waste, and hedge against supply chain shortfalls. Providing value to our smaller suppliers is equally important to us. Our networks will enable them to expand their business with existing customers and build net new trading relationships with large retailers that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. This is incredibly powerful.”

    Added Sam Eder, CEO of Big Wheelbarrow: “One key thing about this partnership is that it helps eliminate the silo between the DSD and warehouse functions inside grocery chains. Those functions sometimes compete unintentionally because they often don’t know what the other is doing. Our platform handles local DSD inventory and purchase data in real time, with iTradeNetwork’s incredible suite of procurement solutions handling the important back end.”

  • 1/12/2023

    Mercatus Rebuilds Mobile Commerce App for Grocers

    Mercatus teaser

    E-commerce solutions provider Mercatus is rolling out a new mobile commerce experience for grocers. The Mercatus Mobile app is designed to provide a seamless shopping experience for consumers and help grocers increase their mobile conversions, improve order frequency and retain digital customers.

    [Read more: "Online Grocery Sales Edge Higher in December"]

    One impetus behind the evolved app is the recent consumer trend of toggling between mass and grocery stores for online orders. “The next generation of Mercatus Mobile was developed to help regional grocers deliver a delightful, always-on shopping experience that builds brand affinity and customer lifetime value,” explained Sylvain Perrier, president and CEO of the Toronto, Canada-based Mercatus. “With 30% of online grocery shoppers cross-shopping between mass merchants and regional grocers, it’s critical that grocers have a modern mobile app that helps them retain their market share against increasing competition.”

    The app gives food retailers direct access to advanced features and configurations and allows them to offer seamless cart building, checkout, personalization, rewards and loyalty. A new scroll-style feed delivers a familiar user experience, similar to Instagram and TikTok platforms. The Mercatus Mobile solution also includes some of the company’s existing platform integrations, such as Instacart Connect and DoorDash Drive.

    According to Mercatus, clients using the previous-generation mobile app will be transitioned as part of their subscription.

  • 1/11/2023

    Kaivac Promotes From Within for President

    Kaivac president

    Kaivac has elevated Bob Robinson, Jr. to company president. He steps in for exiting President Bob Robinson, Sr., who will continue as the CEO of the cleaning system provider.

    Robinson, Jr. was promoted from his most recent position as chief growth officer. He has served in several capacities during his two and a half decades with the family business and, among other accomplishments, is credited with helping to quadruple revenue in the sales division.

    [Read more: "How Efficient Day Cleaning Satisfies Customers, Empowers Employees"]

    “This year is our 25th year in business, and we are at a nexus point where opportunity and destiny meet,” declared Robinson, Sr. “Bob Jr. is the right person to lead Kaivac as we change the way the world cleans.”

    For his part, the junior Robinson said he is humbled to take on new leadership tasks. “I firmly believe that we are the right company with the right products manufactured by the right people to take our industry by storm. I eagerly look forward to what 2023 and beyond will bring,” he said. 

    It’s been a time of growth for the Hamilton, Ohio-based Kaivac, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic that brought sanitation to the forefront of grocery operations. Kaivac works with retailers to deploy an array of science-based cleaning systems, including “No – Touch” solutions, designed for restrooms, hard surface floors, commercial kitchens and other spaces.

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