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  • 5/11/2023

    2023 sofi Awards Winners Revealed

    sofi Awards 2023 SFA Teaser

    The Specialty Food Association (SFA) has unveiled the winners of its 51st Annual sofi Awards. Standing for “specialty outstanding food innovation,” the awards recognize creativity and culinary excellence. They are available only to product-qualified SFA members. 

    The submissions were judged at the Food Innovation Center at Rutgers University (FIC), SFA’s partner in the award program. FIC experts evaluated products in anonymous tastings in 53 categories using such criteria as flavor, appearance, texture, aroma, ingredient quality and innovation. Ninety-seven specialty food products received Gold and New Product trophies. 

    [Read more: "10 Food Trends From This Year’s Winter Fancy Food Show"']

    “The breadth of creativity and quality showcased by this year’s winners represents what the sofi Awards have been recognizing for over 50 years – the best of the best in specialty food,” noted Denise Purcell, VP, resource development at New York-based SFA. “The innovation and care SFA’s members put into their products are the foundation of our industry and are what makes specialty foods special.”

    Round two of judging for the sofi Product of the Year Award and New Product of the Year Awards will take place at the 2023 Summer Fancy Food Show, with retail and foodservice buyers weighing in. The winners will be revealed Tuesday, June 27 at the show, the largest B2B-only specialty food and beverage show in the United States. 

  • 5/11/2023

    Sprouts Farmers Market in Hiring Mode for New Florida Stores

    Sprouts team

    Sprouts Farmers Market, which recently revealed it is focusing on smaller format stores, is readying two new locations in the Sunshine State. As it prepares to welcome shoppers to stores in Bradenton and Fort Myers, Fla., the grocer announced virtual and in-person hiring events to help staff the sites.

    The Bradenton store at 1149 Cortez Road is slated to open on June 30. Sprouts is currently seeking 100 full- and part-time workers to get it up and running and hosting in-person interviews on May 17 at the Hilton Garden Inn Sarasota.

    Ahead of a July 21 opening, Sprouts is also ramping up recruiting for its Fort Meyers location at 8595 College Parkway. The retailer hopes to bring on 80 full- and part-time employees and is conducting a virtual event on May 24 and an in-person event on June 7 at the Crowne Plaza Fort Myers.

    Open positions at both stores include department managers, clerks, cashiers and backup receivers, among others. More details about working at Sprouts are available at

    Earlier this spring, Sprouts reported that it is planning to open 30 new stores this year that reflect its smaller-format, more cost-efficient model. On May 12, the retailer will welcome shoppers to its outpost in Manassas, Va.

    Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market employs approximately 31,000 associates and operates almost 400 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.

  • 5/11/2023

    CitrusAd Unlocks Keyword Bidding

    CitrusAd Teaser

    The CitrusAd campaign dashboard has always transparently shown which keywords were working best for each advertising campaign, with visibility into share of voice and percent of impressions won. Now, however, marketers can include separate bid strategies on each keyword all within one campaign, simplifying campaign creation and consolidating campaign management. The retail tech company expects the rollout of the new feature to its platform to go live in June.

    Brands and agencies will now be able to run campaigns on CitrusAd and optimize based on the performance of selected keywords. This is the first in a series of platform enhancements that CitrusAd is rolling out to help brands and advertisers easily create and manage campaigns while also increasing effectiveness with meaningful and relevant reach.

    [Read more: “CitrusAd Partners With New On-Site Shoppable Video Platform”]

    "CitrusAd is delighted to bring this easy and intuitive way for marketers to optimize their campaigns," said Adam Skinner, managing director, retail media networks, at St. Petersburg, Fla.-based CitrusAd. "While a campaign may have had a CPC bid across the board initially, it was incredibly clear on our platform that some keywords are more valuable to marketers than others. The new bid-by-keyword capability allows marketers to weight their campaigns by the most effective keywords for profitable results.”

    CitrusAd is a retail media company and part of Epsilon, a global advertising and marketing technology company. Retailers across the globe rely on CitrusAd to help grow retail media as a core function for incremental media revenue and sales volume that delivers ideal ROI for brands

  • 5/11/2023

    Storewise Receives Major Growth Investment from Nexa Equity

    storewise teaser

    Storewise, a provider of retail automation software for independent grocers, has revealed a majority investment from private equity firm Nexa Equity LLC. Storewise’s existing management team will continue to lead the business. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

    Storewise’s software platform enables grocery operators to streamline operations such as price optimization, supply chain and risk management. Automating and optimizing business processes has become critical for independent grocery store operators to be competitive with big-box retailers. 

    [Read more: “Storewise, Truno Partner to Offer Operational Control for Independent Grocers”]

    The company plans to use Nexas investment to further support its customer base, develop new products and accelerate go-to-market efforts. Storewise and Nexa Equity will partner closely to implement software best practices and execute strategic acquisitions to bolster the functionality of the software platform.

    “We’re dedicated to supporting an industry critical to our nation’s economy by building a unified software platform that helps independent grocers operate more profitably and efficiently,” said Christopher Greco, president and CEO of Overland Park, Kan.-based Storewise. “We’re excited to have found a likeminded growth partner in Nexa Equity that shares our core values and will help accelerate our vision. The pace at which Storewise is being adopted and the positive results grocers are experiencing let us know that we’re on the right track.”

    Storewise is rapidly expanding and currently serves more than 700 stores.‍

    Vlad Besprozvany, founder and managing partner of San Francisco-based Nexa, noted: “We are thrilled to back Chris and the Storewise team to drive transformation in the independent grocery industry. We’ve been thoroughly impressed by what the Storewise team has built to date and believe that by further investing in product development and strategic M&A, Storewise will be even better positioned to deliver value to independent grocers.”

    Storewise is Nexas fifth platform investment.

  • 5/10/2023

    AFS to Transform Distribution Center With AI

    AFS Teaser

    Associated Food Stores (AFS), a grocery wholesaler that works with independent retailers, and Salt Lake City-based Symbotic Inc., a provider of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled robotics technology for the supply chain, have entered into a commercial agreement to implement Symbotic’s AI-powered robotic warehouse automation technology in AFS’ Utah distribution center.

    Symbotic’s end-to-end automation system, with robotic case pick capabilities, will allow AFS’ distribution center to improve a variety of retail-facing experiences, including overall supply, expanded selection and delivery of products to stores, to accommodate future growth.

    [Read more: “Utah Welcomes 2 New Indies”]

    “While very important, a modernized distribution system is not just about automation and technology, but also about optimizing processes and empowering people. It’s a strategic investment that can increase efficiency and enhance our ability to service our member retailers,” said Roger White, EVP and COO at AFS.

    “We believe implementing the Symbotic system creates great opportunities for our distribution center team members to grow their skill sets and expand their future opportunities with the company,” stressed Glen Keysaw, AFS’ VP of distribution. “Due to the proactive efforts of our management team, all current team members at the distribution center will have jobs going forward and the distribution center will continue supporting current and future independent grocers throughout the Intermountain West.”

    Salt Lake City-based AFS is an independent retailer-owned warehouse that provides complete warehouse facilities and services to more than 400 grocers across the Intermountain West. 

  • 5/9/2023

    Trader Joe’s Adds Another Suncoast Location in Florida

    Trader Joe's Teaser

    Another Trader Joe’s is coming to the Sarasota area in Florida. The California-based retailer revealed it is working on a new location to service a growing population in that market.

    The latest store at 8473 Cooper Creek Boulevard in University Park is expected to open later this year. No specific opening date was shared.

    [Read more: "Trader Joe’s Employees Mark Unionization Win in California"]

    Trader Joe’s already operates a store in the city of Sarasota, in addition to locations in nearby St. Petersburg and Tampa. The planned site in University Park will be the 23rd Trader Joe’s in Florida.

    On May 5, the grocer opened its latest U.S. outpost in Cypress, Calif. As the retailer expands its footprint, it is also rolling out its latest seasonal items, including summer-inspired jalapeno limeade, patio potato chips and tomato ketchup with black summer truffle, to name a few.

    With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Trader Joe’s is No. 27 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company as one of its Retailers of the Century.

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