News Briefs


Produce Sensor Technology Gains More Support

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Indicating that the time is ripe for technology that ensures the quality of fresh food, reduces waste and optimizes sales, Strella Biotechnology, Inc. has raised $8 million in Series A funding for its produce sensor technology.

Strella’s solution is based on novel biosensors and real-time data streaming that measure the ripeness of each piece of fresh produce. According to company information, the technology enables the monitoring of freshness from harvest to the store shelf.

“Suppliers, retailers and importers are doing their best to bring high-quality, healthy produce to consumers in the most efficient way possible. However, unlike manufactured foods, there is no accurate expiration date for produce, which makes optimizing inventory a challenge for the industry across the entire supply chain,” explained Katherine Sizov, CEO and co-founder of the Seattle, Wash.-based tech startup. “We’re proud to work with such incredible investors to tackle this increasingly urgent problem and support growers and retailers with an end-to-end solution.”

While the technology was first used to assess the maturity of apples, the latest funding will propel product development in other commodities. Strella Biotechnology will also use the fresh capital to expand its work with grocers nationwide, the company said. To date, Strella has monitored over 2.1 billion pieces of fruit.

Supporters in this latest round of fundraising include lead investor Millennium New Horizons, along with Google Ventures, Rich Products Ventures, Mark Cuban, Yamaha Motor Ventures, Catapult Ventures and Union Labs.

“More and more retailers are making waste reduction their top priority, with over a dozen of the world’s largest grocers looking to halve food waste by 2030,” remarked Ray Cheng, a partner at Millennium New Horizons. “By combining molecular biology with data science, Strella is uniquely positioned to solve food waste challenges at scale, as it has already demonstrated with its early customers.”


Go Grocer Opens Another Hybrid Location in Chicago

Go Grocer teaser

As the shakeout continues in the instant needs space, one Chicago-based company is going for more growth. This week, Go Grocer opened its latest location in the Logan Square neighborhood, a storefront that is also a fulfillment location for rapid local delivery.

This brick-and-mortar location at 2255 N. Milwaukee Ave. is similar to the 15 other Go Grocer stores scattered throughout Chicago. The small-format store offers a variety of products, including fresh produce, meat, dairy, prepared foods, pantry staples, wines and beers and common household goods.

Even as they welcome customers to the newest location, Go Grocer founders Paul and Greg Stellatos are looking squarely ahead, bringing their model to other parts of the country, including other Midwest cities and the East Coast. The company also recently launched its own app, designed to make orders and deliveries even more efficient.

According to Paul Stellatos, the business is well positioned to withstand market changes that have caused other platforms to fold or downscale in recent months.  “Go Grocer has found the perfect profitable hybrid approach to the ultrafast delivery space that none of our competitors have. We are the only ones that can prove the profitable model and still bootstrapped, while investors dumped billions without understanding the unit economics,” he told Progressive Grocer. “As our completion continue to close or slash operations, our goal is profit first, and we will continue to use that as our north star as we continue to grow in Chicago and outside markets.”


Price Rite Extends Partnership With Feed the Children

Price Rite Marketplace Teaser

Price Rite Marketplace has extended its partnership with Feed the Children, a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating childhood hunger. Through its Feeding Minds & Bodies initiatives, which is designed to help bring attention to and fight the issue of childhood hunger, Price Rite and Feed the Children have provided nearly 40,000 families with fresh food, personal care essentials, and educational tools for children.

“Thanks to partners like Feed the Children, we are able to provide critical fresh food and essentials to families in eight cities this season, helping give back to and care for the communities in which our stores operate,” said Kevin McDonnell, SVP of Price Rite.

Feeding Minds & Bodies was developed by both organizations in 2015 to create a world where no child must suffer from food insecurity. With one in six U.S. children living in a food-insecure household, hunger remains a serious issue in many communities, especially during the summer.

This initiative has benefited an estimated 22,000 individuals through eight community events. In each event, 800 pre-identified families have received a 25-pound box of food; a 15-pound box of personal care essentials, such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion and other items; and additional shelf-stable items provided by Price Rite.

Since partnering with Feed the Children, Price Rite has contributed nearly 3 million pounds of food, totaling more than $10 million in gift-in-kind donations, helping more than 165,000 people in 49 cities.

Cities hosting Feeding Minds & Bodies events this year are Torrington and New Britain, Conn.; Chelsea, Mass.; Hyattsville, Md.; Utica and Rochester, N.Y.; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Providence, R.I.

Price Rite operates more than 60 locations across Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp., which owns Price Rite, is No. 25 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Rosauers Acquires 85-Year-Old Grocery Store in Washington

Rosauers Supermarkets’ CEO to Retire Jeff Philipps Cliff Rigsbee

Rosauers Supermarkets has acquired Dissmore's IGA supermarket in Pullman, Wash. Dissmore's IGA revealed the news in a June 3 Facebook post.

Located at the corner of Stadium Way and Grand Avenue, Dissmore’s IGA has been serving the Pullman community since 1937 by working directly with local farmers to create sustainable partnerships. 

According to its Facebook post, as a result of the sale, Dissmore’s IGA will be “closed for extensive remodeling, so we are clearing out inventory starting immediately until the end of July.” The food retailer invited customers to take advantage of the closeout and discounted groceries while they last.

Rosauers had its beginning in 1934, when J. Merton Rosauer bought a little grocery store in Spokane, Wash. In 1949, Rosauer opened the company’s first – and Spokane’s first – supermarket. It was located at 3rd and Oak and is still currently operating in a space seven times larger than its original size. Since 1990, Rosauers has made several acquisitions to expand existing stores and add to the total number of stores in operation.

Today, Rosauers Supermarkets is owned by fellow Spokane-based business URM Stores, Inc. and consists of 17 Rosauers Stores, four Super 1 Foods Stores and one free-standing Huckleberry’s Natural Market located throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. The company has approximately 2,100 employees. 

In 2021, Rosauers was honored in Progressive Grocer’s inaugural Impact Awards for its commitment to education support/learning advancement.


Alkaline Water Company Taps Advisor for CEO Role

Food Retail Vet Frank Lazaran Joins Board of Alkaline Water

The Alkaline Water Company has appointed a new CEO. Frank Lazaran, a 40-year veteran of the retail food industry, is stepping into the role held by the outgoing Richard Wright. 

This is familiar ground for Lazaran, who has served as a member of the company’s board since 2020 and has an extensive background in scaling organizations, optimizing operations and driving innovation in the retail sector. His grocery industry leadership includes tenures as chairman, CEO and president of Indianapolis, Ind.-based Marsh Supermarkets and as CEO, president and director of Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. In recent years, he has worked as a retail and real estate consultant through his practice, Galazarano Consulting & Investments, and as a senior industry partner for the private equity firm New State Capital Partners.

“We are excited to have Frank join The Alkaline Water Company as the chief executive officer and extremely confident Frank and the team can lead us into the next phase of our growth with Alkaline88. Frank brings over 40 years of strategic execution, operational management, and innovation in the retail sector, as well as capital markets experience that will help continue to accelerate the Company’s top line growth along with bringing a heightened attention towards profitability for the company,” said Aaron Keay, the company’s chairman.

He continued, “On behalf of the board, I want to thank Ricky for his tireless contributions to the growth and success of Alkaline88 over the last decade. Alkaline88 remains one of the fastest growing independent water brands worldwide, and Ricky was a key contributor to the growth of the brand.”


In-Store Ad Network Expands

In-Store Ad Network Expands

In what might be music to retailers’ ears, an enhanced platform is providing more multimedia messages to shoppers during their in-store experience. Music, media and technology company Stingray Group, Inc. announced that it has integrated the InStore Audio Network into its portfolio and will now be known as Stingray Advertising. Stingray acquired InStore Audio Network earlier this year.

The newly-christened Stingray Advertising will be the largest in-store audio advertising network in North America. According to company information, the network reaches 140 million shoppers each week at more than 20,000 grocery retailers, superstores, discount stores and pharmacies.

Through this integration, Stingray is leveraging new technologies that allow retailers to monetize in-store audio while offering brands a marketing tool to reach shoppers with optimized media. The company's platform also includes licensed background music and digital signage and an AI-driven customer insights tool that enables brands to take informed actions.

Several retailers are already in the network, including Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons Cos., Brookshire Grocery, CVS, Jean Coutu, Metro, Rite Aid, Safeway, Southeastern Grocers, Tops Markets, Walmart Canada and Weis Market, Stingray reports.

“With the recent addition of Walmart Canada into our retail media network plus our use of COMMB and Geopath for proven audience measurement and Hivestack for a versatile programmatic buying solution, we have proven our effectiveness and reliability to our current advertiser base,” remarked Ryan Fuss, SVP of the Montreal-based Stingray Advertising. “Our retail footprint, along with both traditional media buying and programmatic options, positions Stingray Advertising as a top media solution for every brand sold in retail store – as well as non-endemic brands seeking to reach a captive audience of engaged consumers directly in the retail environment.”