News Briefs


Kalera Opens Vertical-Farming Facility in Denver

Kalera Denver Facility Teaser

Colorado residents will soon be able to shop locally for lettuce and microgreens from hydroponic indoor vertical-farming company Kalera,which has opened a facility in the Denver area. The nearly 90,000-square-foot facility, located at 18000 E 40th Avenue, in Aurora, Colo., is the company’s fifth domestic farm, joining locations in Atlanta and Houston, as well as two in Orlando.

The first harvest at the Denver facility is scheduled for May. 

“Increasing our national and global footprint has been a priority for our team as we seek to serve our major retail and foodservice customers,” said Curtis McWilliams, interim CEO of Orlando, Fla.-based Kalera. “Opening this facility is an exciting step towards this goal, and we’re proud to serve urban communities like Denver with clean, nutrition-dense leafy greens that are accessible to local consumers.” 

Kalera greens are pesticide-free and non-GMO. The climate-controlled environments at the company’s facilities allow for sustainable farming methods that include water recycling and optimization of plant nutrient formulas to maximize production. Currently, all of Kalera’s large-scale U.S. farms are operating above the company’s 80% throughput yield target, with its newest facilities prior to Denver, Atlanta and Houston, having achieved this performance considerably ahead of schedule. Kalera is also making improvements in production capacity and corresponding revenues as demand for its products continues to rise. According to a company spokeswoman, its greens are sold at such grocers as Kroger, H-E-B and Walmart.

The Denver opening follows news of Kalera’s recent merger with Houston-based special-purpose acquisition company Agrico Acquisition Corp. The partnership will result in Kalera becoming the first vertical-farming company to go public on the NASDAQ market, which the company plans later this year. 

Beyond the U.S., Kalera operates farms in Munich and Kuwait, with a facility slated to open in Singapore later this year.


Wegmans Joins Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative

Seafood Section Teaser

Wegmans has joined the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) as a funding partner. As part of the company’s ongoing sustainability journey, it has focused its efforts on a sustainably sourced seafood supply, partnering only with trusted suppliers that meet its high standards and share its commitment to making a difference. 

“By partnering with GSSI, we’re able to further our commitment to responsibly sourced seafood while building trust with our customers,” said Steve Philips, Wegmans’ seafood group manager. “Using GSSI’s benchmarking as a foundational tool in our sourcing strategy will help clarify our expectations to our farmers, fishers and suppliers. GSSI is an industry-leading organization, where all its partners share a common goal. We’re excited to join the conversation and help drive the industry forward to a more sustainable future.”

Based in Haarlem, Netherlands, GSSI is a public-private partnership working together to turn seafood into a driver for good to preserve oceans for future generations and secure more sustainable seafood for everyone.The GSSI Global Partnership is one of the largest precompetitive collaborations in the world, aligning businesses, NGOs, governments and international organizations representing the full seafood value chain. 

Family-owned Wegmans operates 106 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts and North Carolina. The Rochester, N.Y.-based company is No. 35 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top retailers of food and consumables in North America.


Albertsons Offering Free COVID-19 Tests to Eligible Customers

Albertsons Costa Mesa Teaser

Albertsons Cos. will be offer free COVID-19 tests to customers with Medicare Part B coverage. Eligible customers can receive up to eight over-the-counter tests each month without an appointment through the end of the COVID-19 public-health emergency. Also, those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will be able to able to get free COVID-19 rapid tests provided in more than 1,700 of the company’s pharmacies.

“We’re committed to making COVID-19 testing easier in the many neighborhoods we serve,” said Omer Gajial, Albertsons’ EVP of pharmacy and health. “Access to free COVID testing for Medicare customers removes yet another barrier for millions of Americans.”

In January, the grocer said that higher prices and an increase in customer traffic related to vaccines led it to report higher-than-expected sales and profit for the third quarter. To date, Albertsons pharmacists have administered more than 12 million COVID-19 vaccines through the company’s more than 1,700 pharmacies nationwide. 

Eligible individuals can find their nearest Albertsons Cos. Pharmacies online

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates more than 2,200 retail stores with 1,700-plus pharmacies, 400 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. The company is No. 8 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Gelson’s Partners With Newlight Technologies to Offer Plastic-Free Foodware

Gelson’s Partners with Newlight Technologies

Gelson's Markets has launched AirCarbon foodware with partner Newlight Technologies, Inc.  at all of its locations in California

Newlight was founded in 2003 to help end plastic pollution and climate change in this generation. According to the company, the AirCarbon molecule, also known as PHB, is made naturally in every ecosystem on Earth, including in trees, animals and the ocean. After more than 10 years of research, Newlight learned how to mimic the process that occurs in the ocean to make AirCarbon foodware at scale at its manufacturing facility in California.  

AirCarbon is plastic-free, requires no food crops for production; contains no forever chemicals (no BPAs, no phthalates and no PFAS); and is certified carbon-negative basis by SCS Global Services, reducing the net amount of carbon in the air through production. AirCarbon can be melted and formed into parts, such as foodware, that are smooth and strong, providing a unique combination: the performance benefits of plastic with the environmental benefits of a plastic-free, naturally occurring material.

"We believe we must end the flow of plastics into the ocean in this generation," said Mark Herrema, CEO of Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Newlight Technologies. "For us, that means making sustainable products that people love and that also work for the environment. This launch is the culmination of over 18 years of hard work by many dedicated people, and we couldn't be more excited to launch with Gelson's as a partner."

There will be five initial AirCarbon foodware products at Gelson's: knives, spoons, forks, mixed utensils and wrapped straws.

Encino, Calif.-based Gelson’s currently operates 27 full-service specialty grocery stores in Southern California. Each Gelson’s features the full amenities of a traditional supermarket with the local flavor of a neighborhood market.


Giant Food Launching Reduced Emissions Program

Giant Food Store Teaser

As part of Giant Food’s sustainability commitment, the grocery store chain has teamed with environmental technology company GreenPrint on a Reduced Emissions Program for fuel locations in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. Set to launch April 19, the program will automatically calculate and offset up to 30% of vehicle emissions generated from gallons of gas sold at Giant Food pumps through investments in certified carbon reduction projects, at no additional cost to the customer. These projects include reforestation, alternative energy and methane reduction.

As well as offsetting customers’ carbon emissions on all fuel sold, the Reduced Emissions Program will plant 50,000 trees over three years in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation and support other local community projects with such organizations as Potomac Conservancy and Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

“Giant is committed to making sustainable choices in our business that have a positive impact on the environment,” noted Giant Food President Ira Kress. “We are proud to be working with GreenPrint to reduce fuel emissions and to be bringing this program to our customers so they may join us in helping our communities and the planet.”

To ensure the program’s integrity, GreenPrint will deliver real-time audited reporting to provide details on carbon emissions, offsets purchased and retired, and project investments. GreenPrint is a PDI company with offices in Atlanta; Trabuco Canyon, Calif.; and Hamburg, Germany.

Based in Landover, Md., Giant Food operates 164 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, with approximately 20,000 associates. Included within the 164 stores are 152 full-service pharmacies, 83 full-service PNC Banks, 26 Starbucks locations and 18 fuel stations. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 10 on The PG100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Hy-Vee’s Dietitians Focusing on Blood Sugar Management in April

Hy-Vee Rolls Out Seafood Supplier Code of Conduct

In an effort to support its customers with blood sugar management and overall health, Hy-Vee, Inc. and its team of registered dietitians will host a series of events throughout the month of April.

Virtual events will include on-demand and live nutrition store tours that will help shoppers put together diabetic-friendly meal plans, as well as carbohydrate-conscious freezer meal prep classes for $10. Individuals in those classes will receive a step-by-step guide, recipes, shopping list and a shoppable Hy-Vee Aisles Online link.

In addition, select Hy-Vee stores will offer free A1C screenings, with results provided immediately. Sponsors for the screenings include BD Medical, Birds Eye, California Avocados, Catalina Crunch and Sugarbreak. 

Employee-owned Hy-Vee has a team of more than 93,000 employees and operates 285-plus retail stores across eight states. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 34 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.