News Briefs


Where Food Comes From Becomes Exclusive 3rd-Party Verifier of Paleo Certification

Where Food Comes From Becomes Exclusive 3rd-Party Verifier of Paleo Food Certification

The Paleo Diet LLC has partnered with Where Food Comes From Inc. to provide third-party verification of food certification for Paleo nutrition.

The Paleo Diet revealed earlier in May that it had developed a new food certification program so that retailers and CPGs can easily show consumers which foods adhere to the regimen.Through the new partnership, Castle Rock, Colo.-based Where Food Comes From has agreed to be the exclusive third-party verifier of the certification program, which is the only certification recognized by Dr. Loren Cordain, the founder of the modern paleolithic nutrition movement.

The Paleo Diet food certification program offers two certifications:

• Foods certified as TRUEPALEO are foods in full compliance with Cordain's Paleo Diet program, which features sustainably sourced vegetables, fruits, natural meats, seafood, nuts and seeds. Foods that earn TRUEPALEO certification meet rigorous science-based standards for human-friendly nutrition.

• PaleoFLEX certification standards recognize that balancing modern life and ancient eating can be a challenge, so foods that earn this certification still follow Paleo principles, but the criteria are more flexible. PaleoFLEX certification helps consumers identify and enjoy better-for-you foods that still fit their healthy-eating lifestyle.

The Paleo Diet certifications were developed over years by Cordain's first and last graduate students, Dr. Mark J. Smith and Trevor Connor, M.S., alongside industry experts from the areas of food labeling, consumer packaged goods and sustainability.

“Where Food Comes From verifies claims related to sustainability, organic and gluten-free, all of which complement our science-based standards for the healthfulness of foods,” said Trevor Connor, CEO of The Paleo Diet, which is based in Boulder, Colo. “Through our partnership with Where Food Comes From, our new food certifications will make it easier for consumers, manufacturers and retailers to identify better-for-you foods on crowded store shelves and online.”


Loblaw Completes Lifemark Acquisition

Loblaw Completes Lifemark Acquisition

Known as Canada's food and pharmacy leader, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. has closed its acquisition of Lifemark Health Group from Audax Private Equity.

Loblaw said in March that its wholly owned subsidiary Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. agreed to acquire Lifemark for aggregate cash consideration of CAD $845 million. Lifemark is a provider of outpatient physiotherapy, massage therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic, mental health and other ancillary rehabilitation services through its more than 300 clinics across Canada. The Toronto-based health provider has 3 million patient visits annually, and employs more than 5,000 highly trained clinicians, medical experts and team members.

With the acquisition of Lifemark, Loblaw adds to its own growing role as a health care service provider with a network of health-and-wellness solutions, accessible in-person and digitally.

Led by Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaw offers full-service pharmacies and a range of services such as prescriptions, med checks, vaccinations, minor-ailment diagnoses and nutrition consultations in more than 1,800 locations in 10 provinces and two territories, including at Shoppers Drug Mart, PharmaPrix, Loblaw pharmacy, DRUGStore Pharmacy and CENTRESante locations.

Loblaw Cos. Ltd. operates more than 2,400 corporate, franchised and associate-owned locations in Canada. The Brampton, Ontario-based company is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Walgreens Switching to 100% Cage-Free Eggs by Year-End

Walgreens Store Teaser

Drug store chain Walgreens has accelerated progress toward its commitment to sell 100% cage-free shell and liquid eggs by 2025 to the end of 2022. The updated public commitment ramps up the timeline for cage-free eggs across the retailer’s 9,102 U.S. stores by three years.

“We applaud Walgreens for its decision to switch to cage-free eggs much sooner than initially planned,” said Vicky Bond, president of The Humane League, which is based in Rockville, Md. “This step will reduce the suffering of countless egg-laying hens. Socially responsible companies like Walgreens will no longer source eggs from hens kept in cruel battery cages, and we hope that companies like Rite Aid will follow the lead of Walgreens and CVS, which also pledged to sell only cage-free eggs by the end of this year.” 

To date, some of the largest companies around the world have made commitments to sell only cage-free eggs, including Nestlé, Aldi, InterContinental Hotels, Sodexo, Kraft Heinz, Compass Group, Shake Shack, Famous Brands, Costa Coffee, Burger King, Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme, Unilever, and Barilla. Among retailers specifically, Sprouts Farmers Market recently revealed that it’s now sourcing all shell and liquid eggs sold at its 370-plus stores from cage-free, organic or free-range farms. The grocer’s Our Brands eggs have been “cage-free or better” since 2016, offering such attributes as being pasture-raised. 

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens is No. 5 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. With more than 2,100 stores across 38 states, Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi U.S. is No. 24 on PG’s list, while Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market, which has more than 370 stores in 23 states, is No. 48.     


What Are This Year’s Best Specialty Food Products?


The Specialty Food Association has crowned its next crop of new and outstanding foods. Winners of this year’s sofi Awards, which are celebrating their 50th year, run the gamut from a red wine and rosemary cracker kit and Japanese barbecue sauce to plant-based salmon patties and everything bagel-flavored goat cheese.

The awards are open to product-qualified members of the Specialty Food Association and were judged at the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center. Judges undertook anonymous tastings across 47 categories using criteria including flavor, appearance, texture, aroma, ingredient quality and innovation. A total of 102 products were awarded Gold or New Product trophies.

“For 50 years the sofi Awards have been recognizing the best of the best in the specialty food industry,” said Laura Lozada, VP of membership for the Specialty Food Association. “Our members are the foundation of our industry and we are proud to honor their innovation, growth, and creativity.”

Other products honored this year include bake-and-serve Wake-N-Bagels from Little Shop of Bagels, Callie's Hot Little Biscuit Sausage Biscuit and Cassava Chips from Turbana Corp. Scamps Toffee Duo took the Gold award in the Chocolate Candy Category and Bee Razzled Honey Shrub won the Gold award among Alcoholic Beverages & Cocktail Mixes. A full list of winners is on the Specialty Food Association's website.

Product of the Year Award and New Product of the Year Awards will be handed out on June 12 during the Summer Fancy Food Show, which will be held at the Javits Center in New York City.


H-E-B Bestows Bouquets to Military Spouses

H-E-B Bestows Bouquets to Military Spouses

In honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Texas-based grocery H-E-B handed out more than 4,500 floral bouquets at military bases and community events around the Lone Star state.

This is an annual gesture of support by H-E-B, which first launched events for Military Spouse Appreciation Day in 2013. Held the Friday before Mother’s Day, the events are part of the retailer’s Operation Appreciate program that honors and supports active duty service members, military veterans and their families throughout the year.

H-E-B's overarching program includes an annual donation campaign for military-serving nonprofit organizations and the H-E-B Homes Built for Heroes initiative, among other efforts. In addition, the grocer estimates that it has hired more than 20,000 veterans and military spouses since 2014.

The support of U.S. military members and their families is one facet of H-E-B’s recent community outreach efforts. In April, the grocer announced that it is teaming up with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to help conserve wildlife, habitats and natural resources in its home state. And through May 24, H-E-B shoppers can contribute to an annual donation campaign benefiting EarthShare of Texas. 

With approximately 400 stores in Texas and Mexico, San Antonio-based H-E-B is No. 13 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

With approximately 400 stores in Texas and Mexico, San Antonio-based H-E-B is No. 13 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Rouses Stays Official Supermarket of New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints Teasers

Rouses Markets has once more been named the official supermarket of the New Orleans Saints, with the additional designation of presenting sponsor of Saints Training Camp. Through the deal, Rouses customers will receive early access to training camp practices with a Fast Pass Lane.

“Saints fans are some of the most passionate and proud sports fans in the country, and I’m one of them,” noted Rouses’ Donny Rouse. “There is a loyal Saints fan base in every market we serve across the Gulf Coast. This partnership is good for everyone, especially the fans. We will be creating a Saints experience throughout our stores and in our advertising year-round.”

The long-term partnership includes fan and community activations, with on-field fan features including the Tunnel Team experience, in which fans are selected to participate before each home game, and Kick-Off Kids, an opportunity for youngsters to be junior tee retrievers. There will also be retail promotions especially for Rouses customers, as well as sweepstakes to win tickets and autographed merchandise.

"As part of this important partnership, we are going to work with Rouses Markets on a wonderful project called Tackle Hunger," said New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson. "We will be encouraging all of our fans to donate nonperishable food at any Rouses Market, that will go to food pantries and community centers throughout the Gulf Coast.”

Throughout the Saints Season, the Saints and Rouses Tackle Hunger Truck with Saints alumni, Saints mascots and the Saints cheer krewe will travel across Louisiana to collect nonperishable food and donations in person.

Rouses and the Saints signed a multiyear partnership back in 2017.

Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses Markets operates 64 supermarkets in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It is No. 84 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.