News Briefs


Walgreens Adds Group VP of Owned Brands

Marty Esarte Walgreens

 Retail and CPG veteran Marty Esarte is set to join Walgreens at the end of August as group VP of owned brands. Esarte will be responsible for overall leadership of the retailer’s private label strategy.

During his more than 20 year career, Esarte has gained experience across private brands, merchandising and marketing, and most recently led the front-end merchandising team at Walmart. Prior to that role, Esarte managed the Walmart food division’s private brand products across fresh, snacks, beverages, packaged goods, frozen and dairy, leading the private brand business strategy, product development, sourcing and quality teams. Esarte also has experience from previous roles at Clorox Co. and Conagra.

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens operates nearly 9,000 retail locations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, serving about 9 million customers daily. The company is No. 5 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. 


Sampling Effective in Influencing Gen Z Purchases

Sampling Teaser

Most Gen Z consumers like receiving product samples, which are often a deciding factor in their purchase decisions, according to Advantage Solutions’ latest Pulse Survey,  “Gen Z Wants Product Samples ― With a Few Changes, Please.” Further, six in 10 teenagers and young adults surveyed said that they’re likely to share a positive sampling experience on social media.

Advantage Solution’s survey found that sampling is a highly effective way to influence Gen Z purchases, with seven in 10 survey respondents saying food samples are very influential or “often a deciding factor” in post-sampling purchases. Two-thirds of female teenagers and young adults are persuaded by beauty samples, and almost  60% of males said beverage samples are often a deciding factor in their purchases.

The report’s other key findings include the following:

• Gen Z consumers are most likely to try a sample while at a physical mass retail, club or grocery store, but half or more say they’re likely to try one almost anywhere and any way they’re offered, including at an event like a concert or sporting event, at a venue such as a health club, or delivered with a subscription box or online order for clothing or other non-grocery items.

• Six in 10 Gen Z consumers said simply liking a sample is one of their top three motivators for buying the product, although females (64%) are more likely than males (52%) and teens (74%) are more likely than young adults (59%) to say so.

• Almost six in 10 said a product’s price or value is a top motivating factor to make a purchase post-sampling.

• Unwanted or “not relevant” samples are most likely passed along to a friend or family member (74% of Gen Z consumers do this) or donated (26%).

The results came from a July 2022 survey of more than 1,000 consumers aged 13 to 25 by Irvine, Calif.,-based Advantage. 


Walmart Makes It Easier to Buy Refurbished Products

Walmart Restored_teaser

Through its new program dubbed Walmart Restored, the retailer is helping shoppers buy refurbished products online with confidence. The designation will let shoppers know that they are buying from top-rated sellers and suppliers, and that all products have been professionally inspected, tested and cleaned.

Products available run the gamut from laptops to kitchen appliances from brands such as Samsung, Apple and KitchenAid. Under the program, customers who are not satisfied with their purchase can return it for free within 90 days of purchase. 

“The Walmart Restored program is helping build trust with our customers by offering fantastic value for shoppers,” wrote Michael Mosser, general manager of Walmart Marketplace, in a company blog post. “Online now and in select stores later this fall, the program also gives customers a choice and an opportunity to extend the life of a product.”

Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Bolthouse Farms Acquires Evolution Fresh From Starbucks

Bolthouse Farms Lineup Teaser

Bolthouse Farms has completed its acquisition of Evolution Fresh from Starbucks, a deal that includes the brand, business and employees of Evolution Fresh. By uniting the two brands, Bolthouse seeks to accelerate the company’s leadership within the premium juice and refrigerated beverage categories in retail. Terms of the transaction, which Starbucks and Bolthouse revealed on May 24, weren’t disclosed.

The acquisition will enable Bolthouse to expand its beverage offering from nutrient-dense, plant-powered juices and smoothies to include the full lineup of Evolution Fresh’s mainly organic, cold-pressed premium juices. U.S. locations of Seattle-based Starbucks will continue to sell Evolution Fresh products.

According to IRI, Bolthouse is the No. 1 super-premium refrigerated beverage brand and one of the largest carrot suppliers to North American retailers.

“We are thrilled to welcome our colleagues from Evolution Fresh to the Bolthouse Farms family and look forward to working with them to drive the juice and refrigerated beverage categories forward,” said Bill Levisay, president, consumer brands at Bakersfield, Calif.-based Bolthouse. “As a combined company, we will share our resources, vertically integrated supply chain, deep knowledge of fresh produce, and passion for ingenuity and innovation. Evolution Fresh produces deliciously fresh, cold-pressed juices that consumers are looking for. Our job now is to support their expertise and bring additional resources to the table to expand the brand’s reach.” 

Added Bolthouse Farms CEO Jeff Dunn: “Bolthouse has been on a rapid growth trajectory in the last few years, and this acquisition is an important step on the company’s growth journey, with more expected to come. This acquisition expands our portfolio in a way that meets the health and nutrition needs of more consumers than ever before.”

Bolthouse is a portfolio company of Butterfly, a Los Angeles-based private-equity firm specializing in the food sector, with a particular focus on high-growth, on-trend categories. Butterfly’s brand portfolio also includes Chosen Foods, MaryRuth Organics, Orgain, and Pete and Gerry’s Organics. 


2 New Grocery Outlets Open

Grocery Outlet philly

A grocer that bills itself as an extreme value retailer is growing at a time when more consumers are seeking deals. Grocery Outlet, which is releasing second quarter results on Aug. 9, recently expanded its footprint with the addition of two locations on opposite sides of the U.S.

This week, shoppers were able to check out a new Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in North Philadelphia. Located at 2077 Ridge Avenue in the Sharswood neighborhood that has long been considered a food desert, the grocer offers branded products at lower prices often sourced from manufacturers with excess inventory and seasonal closeouts. The store is part of a significant improvement project in the area and was supported by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), Mosaic Development Partners and SHIFT Capital.

“We are overjoyed to be an oasis for the Sharswood community and convenient access to healthy and affordable groceries,” said Donta Rose, a Grocery Outlet independent operator.  

PHA’s President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah said that the store is a welcome and much-needed addition. “We are extraordinarily pleased that Grocery Outlet and Mr. Rose recognized the opportunity to become part of the transformation of the emerging Blumberg-Sharswood community,” he said. “Today, we welcome Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, which will not only make fresh, healthy food available, it will become a catalyst for attracting businesses to this community.”

Also this week, Grocery Outlet operators Ana Gil and Jorge Lopez opened a location at 25 E. Hillcrest Drive in Thousand, Oaks. Calif. According to Grocery Outlet’s social media pages, Gil and Lopez grew up in the area, are active in their home communities and have joined the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce. To mark the occasion, the operators offered gift card giveaways to the first 100 shoppers.

Based in Emeryville, Calif., Grocery Outlet has more than 400 stores in California, Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Nevada and New Jersey. The company is No. 70 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables ret


Southeastern Grocers Offers Healthy Meal Options to Kids in Need

SEG Meals_teaser

Now through Labor Day, Southeastern Grocers and its SEG Gives Foundation are offering customers and associates 17 and a specially prepared “Student Summer Lunch Pack” for $2. The meals are available at any Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket or Winn-Dixie deli department.

The meal program is part of Southeastern Grocers’ and its foundation’s new “Break from Hunger” initiative that aims to provide healthy, accessible meal options to children in need. 

The boxes include a ham or turkey sandwich, chips, a fresh fruit item and a bottle of water, and the foundation will also donate $1 from each box purchased to Feeding America.

“The challenges that our communities have faced during these past few years have magnified the struggle of many families to feed their children during the summer months,” said Raymond Rhee, chief people officer at Southeastern Grocers. “Through our Break from Hunger program and continued partnership with Feeding America, we aim to provide children with the nutritious food they need for a healthy life. We want to do everything we can to get food on the tables of our neighbors who need a helping hand – now more than ever.”

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers is one of the largest conventional supermarket companies in the United States, with grocery stores, liquor stores and in-store pharmacies serving communities throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. The company is No. 39 on The PG 100,Progressive Grocer's2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.