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News Briefs

  • 2/24/2023

    Apeel Brings Its Produce Protection to Cucumbers

    Apeel Topline teaser

    Apeel Sciences is venturing into new territory as it works with Topline Farms to roll out Apeel-Protected Mini Cucumbers. The greenhouse-grown produce promises to be fresh and flavorful for up to three days longer than traditional mini cucumbers.

    The two companies previously worked together to launch plastic-free English cucumbers, which save the equivalent of nearly three plastic straws per cucumber. Apeel’s edible, plant-based coating extends the shelf-life of fresh fruits and vegetables by keeping moisture in and oxygen out.

    [Read more: "Asda Turns to Apeel to Help Reach Its Food Waste Reduction Goals"]

    "We are thrilled to partner once again with Apeel Sciences to bring another innovative produce item to the market," said Dino DiLaudo, VP of sales at Ontario, Canada-based Topline Farms. "Their cutting-edge technology is making a real difference in extending the life of fresh produce, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this exciting innovation."

    “Giving more time to fresh produce unlocks new opportunities for the entire industry, including new packaging and merchandising techniques that can enhance consumer experience and demand,” said Lou Perez, SVP of innovation at Goleta, Calif.-based Apeel Sciences. “We are already seeing this play out with plastic-free English cucumbers and are excited to see innovative leaders like Topline eager to introduce new technologies to create a more sustainable food system.”

    In October, Apeel launched several innovative technology solutions that will allow stakeholders across the entire fresh produce supply chain to instantly determine the ripeness of avocados. The company’s mission is to create a more sustainable global food system, and its new tech aims to help reduce food waste across the supply chain.

  • 2/24/2023

    Publix IT Exec Honored for Leadership

    Publix Laurie Douglas CIO Teaser

    FloridaCIO has recently presented Publix Super Markets SVP, CIO and Chief Digital Officer Laurie Douglas with the 2023 Leadership ORBIE Award. The technology executive recognition program recognizes CIOs in six categories: Leadership, Global, Large Enterprise, Enterprise, Corporate and Nonprofit/Public Sector.

    “We’re proud Laurie was recognized for her accomplishments to further enhance the customer and associate experience, as well as her passion for leading high-performing teams,” noted Publix CEO Todd Jones. “She’s committed to consistently delivering technology solutions to achieve Publix’s strategic objectives and increase our shareholder value.”

    [Read more: "Publix Launches 2023 Feeding More Together Campaign"]

    Douglas joined Publix in 2006 as SVP and CIO, taking on additional responsibilities as chief digital officer in 2019. She is responsible for the grocer’s enterprise technology and digital strategy, as well as for the delivery and support of all applications, digital solutions and technology infrastructure. Douglas also oversees IT security and omnichannel.

    Employee-owned and -operated Publix has more than 1,300 supermarkets and 240,000-plus associates in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. The Lakeland, Fla.-based company is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

  • 2/24/2023

    Hiland Dairy President Shifts to Consulting Role

    Gary Aggus

    Gary Aggus, president of farmer-owned Hiland Dairy Foods Co. in Springfield, Mo., is exiting that role on April 1, but will continue to work for the company as a consultant. The 20-year leader propelled the dairy processor and distributor to new growth over the years, expanding from six plants in three states to 19 plants and 64 distribution centers in 10 states and helping to boost revenues from $400 million to $2 billion.

    Aggus joined Hiland Dairy in 1984 as a district sales manager. He was named president in 2003 and promoted to COO and president of Joint Ventures of Prairie Farms Dairy in 2006. During his tenure at Hiland Dairy, Aggus oversaw the acquisition of other dairy brands. Those moves, including the acquisition of Borden Dairy’s assets in Texas, fueled the dairy business’ multi-state expansion. A lifelong dairy industry professional, he served as a board member of the International Dairy Foods Association, MilkPEP, Quality Chekd Dairies, Inc., the Missouri Dairy Products Association, and as a member of the Missouri Grocers Association.

    [Read more: "Organic Valley Names New CEO"]

    “I am very pleased the company has achieved the nice growth it has, and I attribute that to the great employees I have had the privilege to work with the past 20 years that I have served as president,” Aggus said.

    Meanwhile, Hiland Dairy has promoted Rick Beaman to the president position. Beaman has also spent his career in dairy, working for other national dairy companies before coming to Hiland in 2012. He was elevated to VP in 2014.

    “Rick is a successful industry veteran that knows our company's history and culture. I am confident he will do a great job leading Hiland Dairy,” Aggus added.

  • 2/23/2023

    Ransomware Hits Dole Operations

    Dole Chopped! Salad Kits

    Dole plc has confirmed that the company was the target of a ransomware attack earlier this month.

    In a Feb. 23 statement posted on its website, the company shared, “Upon learning of this incident, Dole moved quickly to contain the threat and engaged leading third-party cybersecurity experts, who have been working in partnership with Dole’s internal teams to remediate the issue and secure systems. The company has notified law enforcement about the incident and are cooperating with their investigation.”

    [Read more: "Empire Co.’s Operations Impacted by IT Issue"]

    Reports began circulating about inventory issues a few weeks ago, as many consumers complained that their stores were out of stock on products such as Dole’s salad kits. A Feb. 10 memo from a Dole SVP to retailers affirmed the cybersecurity issue and subsequent halt in production. That memo was later obtained and cited by CNN as it reported the breach.

    Although some shoppers and stores have reported ongoing shortages, the company said that lines are running. "While continuing to investigate the scope of the incident, the impact to Dole operations has been limited,” Dole added in its statement.

    Cybersecurity attacks, while infrequent, still pose a risk to manufacturers that serve the grocery industry. In 2021, beef giant JBS temporarily shuttered its plants after a major breach that caused the company to pay $11 million to hackers.

  • 2/23/2023

    Hy-Vee Temporarily Suspends Employee Discount Due to Misuse

    Hy-Vee Rolls Out Seafood Supplier Code of Conduct

    Following findings of fraud, Hy-Vee is discontinuing its employee discount. The grocer ended the 10% discount effective Feb. 20, though it plans to revamp and reintroduce the program in the coming months.

    The program was originally launched in 2019 with specific guidelines that would allow employees and one member of their household to utilize the discount. The grocer found a significant uptick in the number of users utilizing the discount who were not living in the same household, according to a statement, in addition to other fraudulent practices and loopholes.

    [Read more: "Hy-Vee Acquiring Iowa Indie North Scott Foods"]

    “The discrepancies found were significant enough to signal a much broader issue that needed to be addressed immediately,” the statement said. “We are currently in the process of revamping the program with the goal to relaunch the benefit to our employees by mid-April.”

    Hy-Vee stressed that it still offers one of the most competitive and comprehensive benefits packages in the retail industry, including a free Hy-Vee Plus premium membership, weekly pay, a 401(k) plan with a matching contribution, part-time insurance with an employer contribution based on eligibility, and more.

    Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states and has a team of more than 93,000 employees. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 30 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

  • 2/23/2023

    Kroger Accelerates Digital Strategy With Restaurant Delivery Platform

    kroger ohio teaser

    In an effort to accelerate its digital strategy, The Kroger Co. has partnered with Olo Inc., an open software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for restaurants that enables digital hospitality at every guest touchpoint.

    Millions of orders per day run on Olo’s on-demand commerce engine, providing restaurants a single source to understand and serve every guest from every channel, whether direct or third-party. With integrations to more than 300 technology partners, Olo’s customers can build personalized guest experiences in and outside of their four walls, using one of the largest and most flexible restaurant tech ecosystems on the market, according to the company. More than 600 restaurant brands work with Olo.

    [Read more: "Kroger Opens Spoke Facility in Austin"]

    Now the company is expanding into grocery stores through its partnership with Kroger. The food retailer has deployed Olo’s Rails module to approximately 1,600 locations, bringing sushi and floral delivery to customers nationwide.

    For Olo, enabling guests to purchase prepared foods from multi-unit grocery stores represents an emerging vertical and allows grocers to significantly expand their off-premise reach. The partnership increases Olo’s total addressable location count by almost 30,000 locations, representing almost $37 billion in annual foodservice sales.

    Kroger initially kicked off its banner-wide floral and sushi delivery by partnering with DoorDash in December 2022.

    Nearly half a million Kroger associates serve 11 million-plus customers daily through a shopping experience under a variety of banners. The Cincinnati-based company  is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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