As part of its efforts to find and tout locally made offerings, Hy-Vee, Inc. is hosting its next Best of Local Brands Summit from Sept. 7-9. Working with ECRM and RangeMe, Hy-Vee is again providing suppliers a chance to share their stories during 20-minute online interviews and via free profiles that highlight their products and entrepreneurial businesses.
Interested suppliers can submit their products and information on the RangeMe platform. The interviews will be conducted through ECRM’s Connect platform.
The September virtual event follows several previous Hy-Vee Best of Local Brands Summits that have connected shoppers to Midwestern makers and producers. The program has led to the introduction of more than 100 new brands on store shelves across Hy-Vee’s footprint, spanning grocery, produce, deli, general merchandise, frozen, dairy, and health and beauty care categories.
Hy-Vee encourages suppliers with diverse backgrounds, including minority-owned and women-owned businesses, to apply for the quarterly summits. Submissions are being accepted now through July 18 at www.rangeme.com/hyveebestoflocal22q3.
According to Hy-Vee, even if local brands are not chosen to participate in the latest online event, their profiles will still be accessible through RangeMe and may be reviewed by the grocer again in the future.
Hy-Vee started the Best of Local Brands Summit in February 2020 and launched a Pet Products Summit in May, the first category-specific summit. The retailer’s longstanding commitment to sourcing local items also includes the Hy-Vee Homegrown program, through which products grown with 200 miles of a store carry a special Homegrown logo.
Wegmans Food Markets has agreed to pay $400,000 and upgrade its security practices over a data breach that exposed personal information of more than 3 million consumers nationwide, including 830,000 New Yorkers, according to New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The New York Attorney General indicated that Wegmans kept consumers’ personal information in misconfigured cloud storage containers that were open for years, making it easy for hackers or others to potentially access the information. The compromised data included usernames and passwords for Wegmans accounts, as well as customers’ names, email addresses, mailing addresses and additional data derived from drivers’ license numbers.
“Today, Wegmans is paying the price for recklessly handling and exposing millions of consumers’ personal information on the internet," said Attorney General James. "In the 21st century, there’s no excuse for companies to have poor cybersecurity systems and practices that hurt consumers.”
In April 2021, a security researcher informed Wegmans that a cloud storage container hosted on Microsoft Azure was left unsecured and open to public access, potentially exposing consumers’ sensitive information. Wegmans immediately reviewed its cloud environment and identified the container, which was misconfigured from its creation in January 2018 until April 2021. In May 2021, Wegmans discovered a second cloud storage container that was also misconfigured. The storage container was left publicly accessible since it was set up in November 2018.
Costco Wholesale Corp. has acquired the 45% minority interest that it did not already own in the Costco-Taiwan joint venture from the company’s long-time joint venture partners. The deal is worth $1.05 billion and is expected to add 1% to 1.5% to Costco’s earnings per share.
The retailer currently operates 14 warehouses in Taiwan, as well as an e-commerce site. Globally, Costco operates 833 warehouses, 574 of which are in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
In the U.S., Costco recently benefited from increased membership in its third quarter, ended May 8. The company reported membership fee income of $984 million, up $83 million year-over-year. Net sales for the retailer's third quarter increased 16.3%, to $51.61 billion, from $44.38 billion last year.
Fresh Thyme Market announced some executive changes this week, as 43-year industry veteran Gerald Melville steps down as president. Longtime retail leader Liz Zolcak will succeed the retiring Melville.
Zolcak joined the specialty retailer in 2020 as VP of operations, overseeing the chain’s 71 stores throughout the Midwest. Her grocery leadership experience includes roles as VP of retail operations for The Kroger Co., division president of Ruler Foods and marketing director for Aldi.
"I am thrilled and humbled to take on this exciting new challenge and to be trusted to lead such an incredible team," Zolcak said. "Gerald and I have been able to accomplish significant wins with the team during our time working together, and I'm looking forward to even more successes ahead."
Echoed Melville: "My tenure at Fresh Thyme Market has been challenging and exciting. As I move on to my next phase, I'm very confident Fresh Thyme Market is poised for continued success as I hand the baton to Liz."
Melville is wrapping up a notable career in food retailing. Before taking the helm at Fresh Thyme in 2019, he worked as a regional VP at Michigan-headquartered Meijer for nearly a decade. He also held leadership positions with Albertsons Cos. and Supervalu, where he was responsible for functions including store operations, customer service, labor and food safety, among others.
Fresh Thyme continues to expand its presence across its footprint. In late 2021, the grocer opened a new concept store at City Foundry in St. Louis, featuring local, natural, organic food, a full-service café and a self-checkout model.
Giant Food is taking a more direct route in its farm-to-table offerings, reintroducing local produce boxes in time for summer harvests. The boxes are filled with variety of locally sourced, in-season produce and are available through the Giant Delivers service.
Shoppers don’t need to subscribe to order the boxes, which retail for $20 and will be available through the end of growing season in September. Several local farms are providing this year’s crop of fresh produce, including Baugher's Orchards and Houser Produce Farm of Maryland, Papen Farms and Fifer Orchards of Delaware, and Kirby Farms of Virginia.
This is the second year that Giant Food has offered the boxes, which align with the retailer’s goals to enhance food traceability and transparency and make locally sourced, healthy foods accessible to customers.
"Giant's first summer of offering the local produce boxes was a huge success and our customers loved knowing that their produce was sourced locally by the best farms around our area," said Adenike Olaleye, senior manager of e-commerce merchandising. "We're working with more farmers this year to offer an even wider range of produce options that will keep our customers pleased week after week."
Customers can also save $5 on Giant Delivers Local Meal Bundles, curated recipes that allow shoppers to buy all ingredients in one click. In addition, from July 8 to Sept. 8, Giant shoppers can earn 400 Flexible Rewards points when they spend at least $20 on participating local products, which can be used towards groceries or fuel.
The latest Tony's Fresh Market in Joliet, Ill., is now open following a grand opening on June 29. The retailer rehabbed a long-vacant former Kmart location at 1801 W. Jefferson Street into a 70,000-square-foot grocery store.
This is the 19th Tony’s Fresh Market in Chicagoland and the first in Joliet, a large city about 30 miles southeast of Chicago. As with other Tony’s locations, the newest one features a hot bar, salad bar, sushi station, deli, bakery, expansive meat department, fish counter, sizable produce section and a wide range of center-store items.
Open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., the Joliet store is celebrating its grand opening over the next week or so with giveaways and demonstrations.
Tony’s was founded in 1970 by Italian immigrants Tony Ingraffia and Domenico Gambino. Frank Ingraffia, a member of the founding family, will stay on with the newly merged Tony’s-Cardenas operation as the CEO of the Tony’s chain.