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  • 4/17/2023

    Walmart Receives 2023 INFORMS Prize for Analytics Applications

    Walmart 2023 INFORMS Prize Teaser

    Walmart has received the 2023 INFORMS Prize from Catonsville, Md.-based INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences. The award is bestowed for consistent and innovative dedication to using operations research (O.R.) and analytics in organizational decision-making for demand forecasting, supply chain and merchandising operations. 

    Use cases include tracking inventory positions, optimal truck routing, forecasting demand and inventory levels, cross-docking, and shelf space optimization.

    “We have a long history of using O.R. across the enterprise,” said Srini Venkatesan, Walmart Global Tech’s U.S. omni tech EVP. “It all comes back to one core purpose: to make sure our customers can get the items they want, where they want them and when they want them. We are honored to accept the INFORMS Prize and will continue applying O.R. to drive innovation at scale.”

    “Walmart is showcasing data science as a source of business success and a necessary element to achieve customer satisfaction with continuous and dedicated practice,” noted Nilay Noyan Bulbul, the 2023 INFORMS Prize committee chair. “Walmart is truly deserving of this prestigious prize, and the entire O.R. and analytics community joins INFORMS in thanking them for their priceless contributions to the field and the business world.”

    Past recipients of the INFORMS Prize include Amazon and Procter & Gamble.

    Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on PG’s list. 

  • 4/17/2023

    Unilever CEO Joins Accenture Board


    The CEO of Unilever has taken a seat on the board of directors at professional services company Accenture. Alan Jope will serve on the committee devoted to nominating, governance and sustainability.

    Jope brings a wealth of industry knowledge and experience to his latest role as one of 10 Accenture directors. As the leader of London-based Unilever, he steers the global CPG’s business across 190 countries.

    He was promoted to that role in January 2019 after being president of Unilever’s beauty and personal care division and, before that, working on various leadership roles in North America and Asia. Recently bestowed a visiting fellowship at the University of Oxford, Jope earned a BA in commerce from Edinburgh University and graduated from Harvard Business School’s general management program.

    “Alan is a dynamic leader with vast expertise in the consumer goods industry and deep experience driving change through sustainable business at a global scale,” said Julie Sweet, chair and CEO of Dublin, Ireland-based Accenture. “He will bring valuable perspective and insight to our board and our company as we continue to execute on our strategy and create 360° value for all our stakeholders.”  

    Meanwhile, Jope continues to spearhead Unilever’s international growth through a still-murky economic climate. In February, the company reported full-year results for 2022 showing a 9% gain in underlying sales, and growth across each of its five business groups. Unilever still projects strong underlying sales growth for its fiscal 2023 as the company navigates high inflation and expected volume declines.

  • 4/17/2023

    Plus Brand Industries Adds New Community Engagement Directors


    Plus Brand Industries, which offers the Aqua Plus line of water,  revealed that Kristen and Gary Toma are joining the organization as directors of community engagement. In this role, they will oversee the company’s widening distribution network and work with DSD distribution partners in key markets.

    Leveraging their respective backgrounds in sales, marketing and healthy living, the Tomas will also engage with consumers through social media platforms, highlighting Aqua Plus’s “All-Scratch!” technology that allows for on-package personalization.

    “Bottle confusion is a problem we constantly experience daily in our own family and social lives, so when we came across Agua Plus through a friend, we immediately knew that it was something we needed to be a part of. The idea of scratching something onto a drink to differentiate it from others is brilliant,” explained Kristen Toma.

    George Zrinyi, national sales director for Sheridan, Wyo.-based Plus Brand Industries, emphasized the importance of community engagement and the Tomas’ new positions. “One of our goals as a company is to help our DSD partners increase their revenues, grow their nonalcoholic market share, incentivize their sales staff and ultimately move large volumes of Agua Plus quickly.” said Zrinyi. “When our partners win, we win. It all comes down to equipping them with a unique offering and then helping build awareness with retailers and consumers alike in their markets. Gary and Kristen are quickly proving to play a huge role in that process, and we are already preparing to replicate their approach, strategies and successes in additional markets.”

  • 4/17/2023

    Harvest Market Introduces Healthy-Food Incentives

    Harvest Market SPUR Teaser

    Northern California independent grocer Harvest Market has become the first grocery store in the country to deliver healthy-food incentives straight to a customer’s EBT card. The food retailer began participating in the program in March.

    The incentives go to participants in CalFresh, California’s federally funded food assistance benefits program, also known as SNAP, who earn matching dollars when they buy California-grown fruits and vegetables. So if a shopper buys $5 worth of local produce, they receive $5 on their EBT card.

    Customers can earn up to $60 in rebates per month at the Harvest Market locations in Fort Bragg and Mendocino, Calif. SPUR (the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association), a nonprofit public policy organization, spearheaded the project. 

    These programs have been linked to increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, resulting in less food insecurity, improved public health, and increased business for the California agriculture industry.

    “Right now, with inflation, a reduction in public assistance benefits, and pandemic benefits ending, people need help,” said Harvest Market VP Jennifer Bosma. “And they need help on eating fresher, healthier food. This program gets fresh produce into more homes and encourages people to eat healthier. They get more food for their EBT dollar, and it helps California farmers.”

    The CalFresh pilot project will run through December 2023. 

    Family-owned Harvest Market operates three stores providing a unique blend of conventional, specialty, organic, domestic, international and local products. The indie also focuses on community support and sustainability practices.

  • 4/16/2023

    Giant Eagle to Introduce New Circular Format

    Giant Eagle Parking Lot Teaser

    Giant Eagle Inc. is relaunching the in-home delivery of its printed weekly circular to Cleveland-area customers beginning Tuesday, April 18, with a reimagined two-page version of the circular slated to debut early next month. 

    The new circular will feature weekly savings for dozens of high-quality and seasonally relevant products from across the store, including popular national-brand items as well as a range of Giant Eagle-brand favorites. The new format will highlight the strongest promotions in print, while a simple scan of the displayed QR code will direct customers to Giant Eagle’s website, where they can view hundreds of other items that will be on sale each week. 

    ​​​“We are committed to putting our customers at the center of everything we do to ensure we provide what is most important to them, and what they want most right now is high-quality products at a good price,” said Brian Ferrier, SVP of merchandising at Giant Eagle. “Our new printed circular will showcase huge savings on some of our most popular items and will provide an opportunity for customers to discover hundreds of additional sale items by scanning the QR code that will be featured on the front page of every circular.” 

    Along with the new weekly circular, Giant Eagle shoppers can save considerably on food, fuel and prescription medication through the company’s loyalty platform, myPerks. Program members earn Perks on all qualifying purchases across Giant Eagle’s banners -- Market District, GetGo and Giant Eagle Pharmacy -- that can be redeemed for free groceries and fuel.  

    Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle operates more than 490 stores throughout western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. The company is No. 36 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

  • 4/17/2023

    SpartanNash Hires VP for Merchandising Strategy

    Arpen Shah, SpartanNash teaser

    Food solutions company SpartanNash has brought on Arpen Shah in the role of VP, merchandising strategy and analytics. In addition to leading merchandising strategy and analytics for the overall merchandising business, Shah will be responsible for promotional planning, shelf technology, category management and merchandising data analytics.

    Shah's most recent position was senior director, merchandising enablement at Essendant, and he also held roles at US Foods, United Stationers and Canon. 

    "Arpen is an astute and people-first merchandising executive who has a strong background in category management and analytics," said SpartanNash SVP, Chief Merchandising Officer Bennett Morgan. "His expertise and relentless innovative drive will accelerate our customer-led merchandising transformation."

    Earlier this month, SpartanNash promoted David Sisk from SVP to EVP, chief customer officer. In his new role, Sisk oversees customer engagements for all national accounts, independent and chain grocers, e-commerce retailers, and the U.S. Defense Commissary Agency and military exchanges worldwide.

    SpartanNash’s core businesses include distributing grocery products to independent and chain retailers, its corporate-owned retail stores, and U.S. military commissaries and exchanges, as well as fresh produce distribution and fresh food processing. No. 41 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company serves customer locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Djibouti, Korea and Japan. SpartanNash also operates 147 supermarkets and employs 17,500-plus associates.

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