“For more than 50 years, Wade Payne … dedicated his time and efforts to independent grocery, which has had a lasting impact on Alabama communities as well as our overall industry,” noted Ellie Taylor, president and CEO of Birmingham-based AGA. “From the store to the statehouse to our nation’s capital, Wade’s ongoing efforts keep a vital industry top of mind for policymakers, reminding them of the impact grocers have in cities and towns across our state and the nation.”
Payne has sat on the AGA board since 2013. He was previously VP legislative chairman and is currently VP membership chairman. Payne is also chairman of NGA’s government relations committee.
“Wade’s leadership in government relations have helped define NGA’s direction and reinforce its mission to advocate for independent grocers at the highest levels in Washington,” said Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based NGA.
Payne (at left in accompanying photo) joined Food Giant, which now has more than 100 employee-owned locations across Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee, as a bagger back in 1971. Having held many positions with the company, he currently leads its Birmingham district and is also responsible for direct store delivery and finance, among other functions, for all corporate retail stores served by Albertville, Ala.-based wholesaler Mitchell Grocery Corp. in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. A 1978 graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Payne and his wife have two daughters and five grandchildren.
Established in 1982, the NGA Spirit of America Award honors key industry and community leaders in areas of community service and government relations on behalf of the independent supermarket industry. Previous award recipients include Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford.
Stater Bros. Markets has promoted Irene Willins to the position of VP finance. In this position, she will report to Stater Bros. EVP Finance, CFO, Principal Accounting Officer Dave Harris.
Willins joined Stater Bros. Markets in 2000 as a financial analyst in the accounting/finance department. Since then, she has also functioned in the roles of assistant controller, controller-retail operations and her most recent position of senior controller-accounting/finance.
She has been a team lead for several crucial company initiatives, including the selection and implementation of a new human capital management software platform, the organization’s enterprise resource planning project, and deployment of new point-of-sales and sales audit processing systems.
In her new role, Willins will be responsible for various aspects of the day-to-day financial management of the company, including payroll, accounts payable, budgeting and forecasting, and store-level financial services.
“Irene’s promotion recognizes the important role she has played over the years in helping manage the financial operations of our company,” said Stater Bros. CEO Pete Van Helden. “I look forward to working with Irene in her role as an important contributor in projects critical to the company achieving its key objectives.”
Willins holds a bachelor of arts degree in business from the University of California, Riverside, and also sits on the board of directors for Stater Bros. Charities.
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.
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
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 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.