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News Briefs

  • 1/20/2023

    Amazon Ending AmazonSmile Charitable Giving Program

    Amazon teaser

    After nearly 10 years, Amazon is closing out its AmazonSmile program, which lets customers support their favorite charities with each purchase they make through the e-retailer. The program will officially end on Feb. 20.

    According to an email sent to AmazonSmile customers, the charitable giving program “has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped. With so many eligible organizations — more than 1 million globally — our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin.”

    [Read more: "How Are Amazon’s New Features Enhancing the Shopping Experience?"]

    Charities that have been a part of the program will be given a one-time donation equivalent to three months of what they earned in 2022 via AmazonSmile, and they can still accrue donations until Feb. 20. Charities can continue to seek support from Amazon customers by creating wish lists.

    Amazon still plans to support a wide range of charitable programs, including Housing Equity Fund, Amazon Future Engineer, Community Delivery Program, Amazon Disaster Relief and other community giving.

    Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100,  Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

  • 1/19/2023

    Kowalski’s Taking Over Department Store Space Near Minneapolis

    Kowalski's Markets Finds Opportunity in Shopping Malls

    Independent food retailer Kowalski’s Market is expanding in the Twin Cities with the planned opening of its 12th location in 2024. The grocer will take over a 34,000-square-foot space, previously vacated by Herberger’s department store, in the Southdale Center mall in Edina, Minn., according to local reports.

    [Read more: "Kowalski’s Markets Showcases Private Label Offerings"]

    CEO Kris Kowalski Christiansen told the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal that the store will likely open in the spring of 2024 after it was initially stalled by the pandemic.

    "Southdale and the communities it serves have a vibrancy and energy that are well-suited for Kowalski's and our customers," said Mike Oase, Kowalski's COO. "We're really looking forward to operating in this lively retail environment." 

    It was also confirmed that plans for another store in the Minneapolis suburb of Roseville are no longer moving forward.

  • 1/19/2023

    Grocery Prices Straining Household Budgets: Report

    Grocery Shopper Teaser

    More than half of American households believe that grocery prices are straining their budgets, according to a nationwide survey by marketing research company Decision Analyst Inc. The firm recently conducted a study titled “Consumer Foresight: Beyond The Pandemic, Into Economic Uncertainty.” Among the studys areas of focus was the effect of inflated grocery prices on consumers.

    Asked how they were dealing with the higher prices, 57% of respondents said that they were buying less food, 52% said that they were buying less expensive store brands, and 48% said that they were buying less expensive national brands. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that they were shopping at less expensive grocery stores.

    [Read more: "Where Are Consumers’ Heads – and Wallets – This Year?"]

    When asked about specific shopping strategies, 44% said that they used a stores coupons, and 38% said they shopped at multiple stores to compare the best deals. Thirty-two percent of respondents said that they used manufacturers coupons, and 36% said that they used a loyalty program to get discounted prices.

    “In 2022, inflation hit American consumers in a way most had never experienced,” said Felicia Rogers, EVP at ArlingtonTexas-based Decision Analyst. “Rising costs had a notable impact on nine in 10 households. Not only were people forced to take a hard look at their discretionary spending, but about half of households in the U.S. had to make hard decisions about essentials like groceries, transportation and health care. There’s no question 2022 was a tough year. All eyes will, no doubt, be on the economy and how it impacts consumer spending this year.”

    “Consumer Foresight: Beyond The Pandemic, Into Economic Uncertainty” was a nationwide survey conducted six times in 2022, from January to November. Every other month, it surveyed about 1,000 consumers balanced by gender, age and geography.

  • 1/18/2023

    Albertsons Cos. Seeking Emerging, Specialty Products

    Albertsons Costa Mesa Teaser

    Albertsons Cos. will hold its inaugural Innovation Launchpad competition during Natural Products Expo West in California on March 8. The retailer is looking for innovative small and independent brands in the food, beverage and pet categories, with a focus on areas including low sugar or low carb, all-natural, plant-based products, functional beverages, global flavors, healthy prepared meals and premium pet items.

    Applications for the competition are being accepted now through Jan. 31 via RangeMe, with 60 chosen businesses being given the opportunity to compete live at Expo West. The top three winners will receive prizes valued at $170,000 including cash, services and industry recognition, and will also be considered for distribution in Albertsons banner stores. 

    [Read more: "Albertsons Cos. Gets Approval to Pay Out $4B Special Dividend"]

    “We envision the Albertsons Innovation Launchpad competition to be a fun and engaging way to connect with up-and-coming entrepreneurs and brands,” said Jen Saenz, EVP and chief merchandising officer at Albertsons. “We’re always looking to provide our customers fresh, innovative products and new meal ideas. Through this process, we are hoping to discover unique items that can be considered for distribution in any one of our banner stores.”

    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 20 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.

  • 1/18/2023

    Weis Markets Names Director of GM and HBC

    Weis Markets Tonya Woytowich Teaser

    Weis Markets has promoted Tonya Woytowich to the position of director of general merchandise (GM) and health and beauty care (HBC), reporting to Mike Gross, VP of center store sales and merchandising. In this position, Woytowich will oversee the Weis’ HBC, GM, seasonal GM, and grocery nonedible (pet and greeting cards) categories.  

    Before her promotion, Woytowich was general merchandising category manager, in which role she oversaw the development and launch of various projects, including the GM seasonal program, expanded private-brand nonfood assortments and the enhancement of Weis’ pet accessories program. Prior to joining the company in 2016, she worked at Worcester, Mass.-based Imperial Distributors

    Weis also recently promoted Andrea Bauman to the position of director of marketing and Maria Rizzo to the role of VP of advertising and marketing.

    Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis operates stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia. The company is No. 61 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named it one of the Top Regionals in 2023. 

  • 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.

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