Aiming to fill gaps in a cold supply chain that’s been under pressure and undergoing changes, two tech companies are teaming up to provide sustainable solutions for grocers and food companies. KPI Integrated Solutions (KPI), a supply chain consulting, software, systems integration and automation supplier, and Phononic, which provides solid state cooling technology, announced a collaboration to maintain cold chain integrity and traceability through various phases of the distribution process.
At the heart of the partnership are Phononic’s actively-cooled totes, which will now be used in KPI’s automation designs that cover distribution from the warehouse to the curb. While the totes deliver consistent temperature control, they are also convenient and cost efficient because they can be used in an existing footprint and allow for a more comfortable workspace in a frozen environment.
In addition, Phononic’s solid state cooling and refrigeration technologies use a refrigerant of water mixed with naturally available carbon dioxide for a global warming potential (GWP) of 1 or less. That’s the lowest GWP rating in the industry compared to other commonly used refrigerants that contribute to climate change, according to KPI.
“This strategic partnership with Phononic will deliver a strong return on investment for our clients who are looking to quickly and flexibly provide cold storage and order fulfillment capability that is unconstrained by cooling and freezer needs,” said Jim Kuecker, KPI’s chief commercial officer.
Added Dana Krug, SVP, cold chain fulfillment at Phononic: “KPI’s innovative and versatile cold storage designs can scale from larger grocery delivery operations to smaller-scale food storage – without the need for investment in full-size refrigerators or freezers which are much less efficient, costly, and harmful to the environment. As grocery e-commerce continues to explode, KPI and Phononic together deliver an innovative, proven, and sustainable solution for cooling.”
Smart & Final Kicks Off Annual Campaign to Protect At-Risk Children
Smart & Final is launching its annual register campaign for Olive Crest, a nonprofit that works to prevent child abuse and treat and educate at-risk children. From now through July 5, shoppers at locations in California, Arizona and Nevada can donate $1 at checkout to benefit the cause.
Last year, the grocer warehouse store raised $515,000 for Olive Crest’s programs and services that help more than 24,000 kids each year.
“For more than a decade we’ve been proud to support at-risk children through our partnership with Olive Crest,” said Tinamarie Squieri, manager of the Smart & Final Charitable Foundation. “The past few years have been incredibly challenging for Olive Crest kids and their families. We’re grateful to their Child Abuse Stops Here Network for providing resources to help stop child abuse in the communities we serve.”
"The work our Child Abuse Stops Here Network does to build strong families and keep kids safe continues to be critical through the additional hardships the pandemic has brought on," said Rhonda Tagge, national director for Olive Crest. "We simply couldn’t provide the services we do without the support we receive from the Smart & Final Charitable Foundation and their supporters.”
In addition to this campaign, Smart & Final Charitable Foundation supports several other causes throughout the year, including those that focus on hunger, relief, health and wellness, team sports and disaster assistance. According to the company, the Foundation has raised nearly $2 million to support 1,500 causes.
Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the Consumer Brands Association, will leave the organization to rejoin the U.S. Travel Association after nearly a decade away. In the interim, he was first president and CEO of the American Gaming Association before taking on his present role. His new position at Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Travel starts Sept. 1.
“We are grateful for Geoff’s many contributions to our industry during his tenure at the Consumer Brands Association,” noted Jeff Harmening, board chair at the organization, and chairman and CEO of Minneapolis-based General Mills. “Under Geoff’s leadership, Consumer Brands advanced a turnaround strategy that has transformed the organization and established it as a powerhouse association in Washington, D.C. The organization enjoys the support of the world’s leading CPG companies, and its revenues have increased nearly 50% over the past three years. Today, our industry is united behind a compelling policy agenda and speaks with a strong pro-consumer voice. Consumer Brands benefits from a strong leadership team, and we are confident in the organization’s continued growth and effectiveness. We will begin the process of working with Geoff on a transition plan and identifying his successor.”
In the wake of this impending executive move, an association spokeswoman told Progressive Grocer that Consumer Brands was “working with the board and determining a path forward.”
According to its website, Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Brands’ mission is to “champion growth and innovation for the industry whose products consumers depend on every day.”
Cardenas Markets, one of the largest Hispanic grocery chains in the country, has partnered with Coin Cloud to offer digital currency machines in the retailer’s 59 stores. Customers will have access to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum and more than 40 other digital currencies with cash.
A recent survey found that Hispanic U.S. adults have adopted cryptocurrency at a rate exceeding the general adult population. According to Morning Consult, an explanation is that the Hispanic community is turning to digital currencies for payments rather than for investments.
“We are pleased to offer cryptocurrency capabilities to our customers through Coin Cloud’s network of digital currency machines,” said Prabash Coswatte, COO of Cardenas Markets. “Through this unique offering we continue to deliver on our commitment to meeting our customers’ evolving needs, especially in today’s digital world.”
Coin Cloud digital currency machines offer Bitcoin and other digital currency options like Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Shiba Inu Coin, Ethereum, and a range of stablecoins and DeFi tokens. New coins added recently include Cardano, Nano, SushiSwap, Algorand, Polygon, OMG Network, and ApeCoin.
Las Vegas-based Coin Cloud operates more than 5,800 digital currency machines across the United States and Brazil. The company’s digital currency machine network is located at nationally recognized retailers, including H-E-B, Spirits & Finer Foods, UNFI customer stores and Yesway.
Ontario, Calif.-based Cardenas currently operates 51 stores under the Cardenas Markets banner, seven stores under the Los Altos Ranch Markets banner and one store under Cardenas Ranch Markets banner, with locations across California, Nevada and Arizona. Apollo Funds recently agreed to acquire Cardenas from investment funds affiliated with international investment firm KKR. Upon completion of the deal, Apollo will combine Tony’s Fresh Market with Cardenas to create a Hispanic- and ethnic-focused grocer.
New Software Improves Connectivity Between Fresh Produce Suppliers and Buyers
To free up the fresh supply chain and make it more transparent during a pivotal time, tech firm Procurant has introduced a new Open Link service that allows fresh food suppliers to electronically receive and fulfill orders with a large network of grocery buyers. The feature is available as an add-on service for suppliers already on the Procurant One platform and as a stand-alone subscription option.
Connections are already set up for major retailers including Walmart Inc., Target Corp. and Wakefern Food Corp., according to information from Procurant. The cloud-based software company’s network spans more than 1,000 suppliers and can be used by any retail or wholesale buyer with a published EDI connection.
While buyers previously had to use Procurant as their purchasing system to complete orders, the Open Link service enables suppliers to manage order with buyers regardless of the systems they use for purchasing.
“Making the produce order management process clean, simple and less expensive is a big goal for us here at Procurant. Open Link helps suppliers maintain a single view on all their sales without the expense and hassle of maintaining multiple systems,” explained Kevin Brooks, chief marketing officer for the Watsonville, Calif.-based Procurant.
The new service is the latest effort by Procurant to help smooth out the perishable food supply chain. This spring, the company added weekly commodity pricing for beef, pork and veal to its Procurant Connect service for retail and wholesale perishable buyers and suppliers.
Retail bank, payment and shopping service Klarna has introduced a new app feature that enables users to store and access their physical loyalty cards as digital versions. The feature is powered by mobile wallet provider Stocard and supports more than 8,000 loyalty programs around the world, including those offered by grocers.
The solution allows shoppers to continue to collect rewards points through the digital version of their physical card, if they forgot or don’t have their actual card with them. Klarna determined the need for the feature following a recent survey it conducted showing that 31% of consumers avoided signing up for a loyalty program in the past because they don’t want to carry another card with them. That survey also revealed that 59% of shoppers do not carry all of their loyalty cards with them when browsing and buying.
To access the feature, users can click on a loyalty card icon on the Klarna app and choose from a list of supported merchants and loyalty programs. From there, they scan the barcode on their physical card with the camera on their mobile device. The app will then create a digital copy and store it in the reward space in the Klarna App. For cards that don't have a barcode, users can manually type their membership number.
"Physical loyalty cards are an inconvenience in today's digital world and are therefore often left at home, resulting in consumers missing out on deals and merchants losing a prime opportunity to reinforce brand loyalty,” remarked Björn Goss, product director at Klarna and Stocard's founder.