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News Briefs

  • 3/22/2023

    Connecticut Lawmakers Deep-Six Bill on Wine Sales at Grocery

    A few months after voters in Colorado narrowly approved wine sales at grocery and convenience stores, a bill that would have done the same in Connecticut went nowhere. This week, legislation allowing wine merchandising in Connecticut grocery stores was quashed in the committee phase, as state lawmakers opted not to put the matter to a vote.

    As in Colorado, there was stiff opposition from liquor store proprietors in the state who claimed that the competition would impact their sales and labor. Before the proposal went to committee, grocers in Connecticut had worked hard to get their message across that choice is important in a marketplace.

    Wayne Pesce, president of the Connecticut Food Association, said that the news was disheartening, as retail and consumer groups put in a lot of work to get the bill moved forward. “We know an overwhelming majority of the public supports the sale of wine in supermarkets. While the votes are not there in this particular legislative committee at this time, we believe that in the future when the issue comes to a vote in the full legislature, this consumer friendly bill will pass,” he declared in a March 21 statement.

    To Pesce’s point, consumers have expressed interest in being able to pick up wine on their grocery store trips. According to a nonpartisan analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, 82% of the general public support changing the law to allow wine sales at food retailers.

    Currently, wine can be sold in 42 states, including four states in New England.

  • 3/22/2023

    Weis Markets Names Director of Private Brands

    Alison Gregas Weis Markets Teaser

    Weis Markets has promoted Alison Gregas to the position of director of private brands. In this role, Gregas is responsible for new product development and the day-to-day management of the grocer’s 6,500-item private-brand program, including its Weis Quality, Weis By Nature and Weis Organics products. She reports to Bob Gleeson, SVP of merchandising and marketing.

    [Read more: "Weis Markets' Positive Momentum in Q4 Contributes to Strong FY22"]

    A resident of Bloomsburg, Pa., with her husband, Gregas began working with Weis Markets as a business manager for Stamford, Conn.-based Daymon Worldwide, the company’s in-house private-brand brokerage company. She came to work at Weis Markets in 2020 as a private brands sourcing specialist and was subsequently promoted to private brands manager, the role she held before her promotion. 

    Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets operates 197 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 Weis as a top regional grocer for 2023.

  • 3/21/2023

    Whole Foods Market's Co-Founder Expands Lifestyle Medicine Business

    John Mackey

    The co-founder and former CEO of Whole Foods Market is entering a whole new market. John Mackey, who retired Whole Foods in September 2022 after 44 years, is already expanding his next venture.

    Mackey is back at entrepreneurship, co-founding health and wellness company Love.Life with former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb and former Whole Foods executive Betsy Foster. In addition to planning a series of wellness centers around the country, Love.Life acquired Plant Based Telehealth this week. Together, they announced a rebrand as Love.Life Telehealth.  

    The new entity will offer virtual medical care for patients focused on wellness as well as those facing chronic conditions. Billed as a “lifestyle medicine” provider, the organization is guided by evidence-based practices of promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyle choices that include a whole food, plant-based diet.

    The convergence of food, medicine and wellness therapies reflects the evolving consumer, the leaders say. “Love.Life is about making lasting health and vitality achievable, and acquiring Plant Based Telehealth accelerates our ability to help more people without geographic limitations,” explained Mackey.  

    Love.Life.Telehealth has opened up 30 and 60-minute appointments for telehealth services that will complement the business’s medical offerings available in its physical locations starting in 2024. Lifestyle medicine programs will address overall healthy living and wellness as well as specific conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, autoimmune diseases, inflammation and digestive issues. The telehealth network includes licensed physicians practicing in all 50 states and Washington D.C., with an international patient reach across 27 countries.

    Meanwhile, the Love.Life founders’ plan for wellness centers includes virtual lifestyle medicine services as well as combined fitness centers, spas and cafes that serve plant-based foods. According to a report by the Bloomberg news service, the team is eyeing Southern California for the first brick-and-mortar location.  

  • 3/21/2023

    NJFC to Present C&S VP With Trade Relations Award

    C&S Wholesale Grocers Mike Tarloff Teaser

    The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC), a Trenton-based alliance of food retailers and their supplier partners, has revealed that Mike Tarloff, VP and general manager at C&S Wholesale Grocers, will receive the Jimmy Ostling Trade Relations Award. The honor goes to an individual who exemplifies effective trade partnerships, brings together all aspects of the food business, stimulates thoughtful ideas, enhances trade goals and supports the mission of the organization. Tarloff will receive the award at the upcoming 2023 Trade Relations Conference, scheduled for March 28-29 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. 

    At C&S, Tarloff focuses on strategy, customer experience and business development, working cross-functionally to drive profitability and performance. Earlier, he spent eight years at Associated Wholesale Inc. (acquired by C&S in 2014), where he held sales and category management roles. Tarloff also sits on the NJFC board and is an active member of its trade relations committee. 

    Founded in 1918 as a supplier to independent grocery stores, Keene, N.H.-based C&S services customers of all sizes, supplying more than 7,500 independent supermarkets, chain stores, military bases and institutions with 100,000-plus products, in addition to operating corporate stores. The company is No. 17 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top retailers of food and consumables in North America. 

  • 3/21/2023

    Sprouts Farmers Market Resurrects 2 Licensed Locations


    Sprouts Farmers Market continues to shuffle its store roster. After announcing the closure of 11 underperforming stores and sharing that it intends to focus on smaller-format locations with 30 planned openings this year, the retailer has acquired two independently owned stores in California.

    Sprouts is taking over the locations in the city of Chula Vista as part of its growth in that region. The stores were operating under the Sprouts Farmers Market name as part of a legacy trademark license agreement reached with a third-party operator several years ago.

    With this move, Sprouts is consolidating its business and effectively ending licensed Sprouts store operations. “We are pleased to bring these two high-volume stores into the Sprouts fold, allowing us to serve more customers in the San Diego market,” said Chip Molloy, Sprouts’ CFO.

    According to information from the retailer, the acquisition of these two locations was not factored into the company’s latest outlook that was released on March 2. In that report, Sprouts shared that it expects net sales growth between 4%-6% for the rest of fiscal 2023 and pegged capital expenditures to fall between $210 million and $230 million.

    Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market employs approximately 31,000 associates and operates approximately 380 stores in 23 states nationwide. The company is No. 53 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

  • 3/21/2023

    St Pierre Bakery Expands Distribution into Walmart

    St P waffles

    Reflecting the elevation of that bread subcategory, brioche products are available at Walmart. St Pierre Bakery announced that it has secured distribution with that leading retailer to carry three of its SKUs.

    According to St Pierre Bakery, its sliced brioche loaf variants are rolling out into 2,200 Walmart locations, while its waffles with butter product are on the shelf at more than 4,000 stores. The brand is supporting the introduction with marketing efforts.

    [Read more: "How Supermarkets Can Capitalize on Increased Bakery Sales"]

    “This is fantastic news for the brand and the result of a collaborative relationship we have built with Walmart, creating a sound strategy and a lot of shared insight,” said David Wagstaff, managing director at St Pierre Bakery. “We have invested heavily in our supply chain to ensure we maintain our industry leading fill rates and deliver for our customers. We knew that the opportunity justified the investment, but driving distribution was key to realizing it and our products appearing on shelves in Walmart stores nationwide has helped us to do just that.”

    At Walmart, St Pierre loaves will be merchandised for the first time in the commercial bread aisle. The brand’s offerings are typically displayed in the in-store bakery area.

    Brioche continues to make gains in the overall bread category. St Pierre cited data showing that the subcategory has grown by $98 million on a year-over-year basis, with St Pierre capturing almost 18% branded market share and 71% branded market share within the in-store bakery section.

    Based in Manchester, England, the St Pierre Groupe spans the St Pierre Bakery brand as well as the Baker Street and Paul Hollywood brands. In 2022, St Pierre Group joined the Grupo Bimbo  portfolio.

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