News Briefs


Publix VP of Product Business Development to Retire

Publix Chris Litz Teaser

After 35 years with Publix Super Markets, Chris Litz, VP of product business development for meat, seafood, bakery, and grocery refrigerated and frozen, will retire from the company on May 31.

“Over the years, Chris has led and supported strategic efforts to improve our operations and service to our customers,” noted Publix President Kevin Murphy. “We appreciate his efforts and dedicated service to our company.”

Litz joined Publix in 1987 as a stock clerk in Sarasota, Fla. After working in various roles, he became a store manager in 1995 and a district manager in 2000. Seven years later, Litz was named director of nonperishable warehousing before returning to retail as a regional director in 2011. In 2016, Litz became VP of fresh product business development, and assumed his current role in 2021. 

Employee-owned and -operated Publix has almost 1,300 supermarkets in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. The Lakeland, Fla.-based company plans to expand its operations into Kentucky in 2023. Publix is No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Trader Joe’s Widens Reach With 2 New Locations

Trader Joe's teaser

Trader Joe’s is on a store opening roll. The specialty retailer is welcoming shoppers to its latest locations this spring, including shops in California and Colorado.

One of the stores is located at 18374 Cottonwood Drive in Parker, Colo., a suburb south of Denver. Set to open on Friday, May 6, the 9,600-square-foot store is the eighth Trader Joe’s in that state and, like other stores run by the retailer, features a décor inspired by local scenery and sites.

Meanwhile, another Trader Joe’s is now open in the grocer’s home state of California, at 500 S. Broadway in Santa Monica. The grand opening was held on April 29.

In the pipeline: a Trader Joe’s in Yorktown, N.Y. That store, at 3220 Old Crompond Road, is also expected to welcome shoppers in 2022.

While the retailer is expanding its footprint, it is cutting back on some products due to supply chain shortages. In April, Trader Joe’s announced that it is discontinuing several canned pet food products for dogs and cats.

With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s is No. 28 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Hy-Vee Holding Gluten-Free Diet Events This Month

Hy-Vee Launches Gluten-Free Private Label Line

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month and dietitians at Hy-Vee Inc. are hosting multiple events to help support those with the disease and others who follow a gluten-free diet. Special programs will include virtual store tours and cooking classes, and the retailer’s gluten-free private label Good Graces brand will be featured.

The virtual Freezer Meals Workshops cost $10 and will include recipes, shopping lists and Aisles Online shoppable links, as well as summer meal prep tips and product recommendations. The grocer’s virtual Gluten-Free Nutrition Tours are scheduled or on-demand and dietitians will answer questions about gluten-free diets and products available at Hy-Vee.

Free Wellness Wednesday online classes will also be held throughout the month with topics including Hidden Sources of Protein, Eat Your Vegetables, Anti-Inflammatory Spices and Women’s Health.

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.


Aldi Opens Up Fan Favorites Survey

Aldi Fan Favorites

Aldi, which has established cult followings for products ranging from fine chocolates to frozen fruit blends, is launching its annual Fan Favorites survey. Kicking off this week and open through May 12, the survey aims to uncover shoppers’ most-loved products from the discount grocer.

As in past years, the survey lists items by category, with 13 multiple choice questions. This year’s categories include dinner favorites “for the whole fam," breakfast staples, best pairings, top charcuterie boards, and produce picks, among others.

Those who take the online poll have a chance to win a grand prize $1,000 gift card or one of ten $100 gift cards for the retailer.

Aldi first rolled out the Fan Favorites survey in 2019. Last year’s winners included Maple French Toast and Brioche Bagels, Appleton Farms Premium Sliced Bacon, Clancy’s Kettle Chips and more.

Operating in 38 states, Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi U.S. is No. 24 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Clerk Raises $30M to Disrupt Brick-and-Mortar Grocery

Clerk Raises $30M to Disrupt Brick-and-Mortar Grocery

Clerk, a retail technology company that's improving the traditional brick-and-mortar grocery experience, has raised $30 million in its Series B funding. The funding will be used to accelerate the buildout of its platform, allowing the company to expand its in-store marketing and merchandising products to retailers and brands. 

Launched in 2018, Clerk helps brands and retailers improve the shopper experience by streamlining store operations and providing in-store retail media opportunities by leveraging its digital advertising network, Grocery TV.

"Brick-and-mortar stores are overdue for a digital transformation," said Marlow Nickell, CEO at Austin, Texas-based Clerk. "Although 90% of U.S. grocery sales still happen in stores, brands and retailers often don't have a simple way to manage store performance and product interactions like they do online — our team wants to change that. This investment will get us closer to providing our retail and advertising partners full transparency into their store experience, from understanding how their products are performing to measuring customer engagement with in-store touchpoints."

In the two years since its series A funding, Clerk says it has increased its network size by 350%. The company has also:

• Expanded Grocery TV's footprint across all 50 states in key markets with over 14,000 displays in retailers such as ShopRite, Bashas' and Cub Foods.
• Partnered with major programmatic networks such as The Trade Desk and Yahoo DSP to make it easier for agencies and brands to reach their audience of over 30 million grocery shoppers.
• Launched a SaaS merchandising product that leverages its machine learning technology to help brands ensure products are in-stock and shelved correctly.

Clerk’s latest funding roundwas led by Sageview Capital. Dean Nelson, partner at Sageview, will join Clerk’s board of directors, while Roberto Avila, principal at Sageview, will join as a board observer.


Cub Turns to AI to Improve Promotions

Cub Foods

Cub Foods is deploying a new artificial intelligence (AI) solution to better manage its promotions. The Midwest discount grocery chain enlisted tech firm Cognira to help plan, manage, analyze and forecast promotions using data and insights.

The AI solution covers the lifecycle of promotion planning and includes the support of in-store discounts and weekly circulars, as well as online ads and personalized offers based on AI. Cognira’s program was also designed to increase efficiency by embedding workflows and approvals.

“Consumers are consistently searching for promotions that are most relevant to their purchasing habits and our job as their grocer is to bring those promotions to them as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said Luke Anderson, chief information officer at Cub. “Working with Cognira and their centralized solution for promotion planning, optimization, and personalization will give us the ability to achieve that vision.”

Added Hatem Sellami, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Cognira: “We're very excited to partner with Cub to present the best offers to their customers and deliver value straight to the bottom line of the business.”

Cub has embraced grocery tech in other ways. In late 2021, the grocer teamed with CitrusAd to better engage shoppers through personalized online experiences powered by retail media technologies.

Owned by United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), Cub Foods operates almost 80 grocery stores in Minnesota and Illinois. Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, UNFI is No. 47 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.