News Briefs


Trader Joe’s Chosen as 2022 Innovation Leader

Trader Joe's Storefront Teaser

Discount grocer Trader Joe’s has been selected by consumers as one of nine food brands that they consider innovation leaders. This list is a subset of the 50 brands that merited recognition as innovators in the 2022 Most Innovative Brands survey, conducted by Brand Keys Inc., a New York-based brand loyalty and engagement consultancy.

“The 11th annual survey is the only assessment of brand innovation conducted entirely from a consumer perspective,” noted Brand Keys Founder and President Robert Passikoff. “When it comes to innovation, consumers are the ultimate jury. Their expectations are constantly on the rise, and true innovation takes place within that framework. Expectation is the gateway to innovation.”

Added Passikoff: “It really doesn’t matter to consumers how many promises are made on earnings calls or patents a brand holds or the profits they post. Consumers don’t look at innovation that way. When it comes to the food category, innovation provides social and cultural opportunities for brands to expand into new markets and helps to shape and evolve consumer shopping habits.”

This year’s top food brands, ranked by innovation acumen, were:

1. Beyond Meat
2. Pringles (Kellogg’s)
3. Doritos (PepsiCo)
4. Impossible Foods
5. Coca-Cola
6. Starbucks
7. Trader Joe’s
8. Oatly
9. Amy’s Kitchen

Other food brands that consumers thought of as innovative but that didn’t rank in the top 50 this year included ­Chobani, Pepsi, Puris, Sweetgreen and Tyson. Trader Joe’s was the only grocer to make the list.

This year, 7,420 consumers (50:50 male/female, 16 to 65 years of age) identified companies and brands they saw as the biggest innovators of 2022 for Brand Keys’ survey. The 50 brands fell into eight industry sectors: consumer goods, entertainment, food, health care, social networking, software, technology and transportation.

With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s is No. 27 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


New SVP of Marketing at Bob’s Red Mill

allyson borozan

Organic and gluten-free company Bob's Red Mill has brought on Allyson Borozan as SVP of marketing. She is tasked with helping to elevate the brand and optimizing business strategy within the marketing, new product development and customer engagement departments.  

She brings more than two decades of marketing experience to her role at the employee-owned Bob’s Red Mill. Prior to stepping into this new role, Borozan spent 12 years at Kellogg Co., where she is credited with helping the brand grow new product lines in the snack and breakfast categories.

“We are thrilled to welcome Allyson as our new SVP of marketing and to add her as part of the executive leadership team,” said Trey Winthrop of CEO of the Milwaukie, Ore.-based Bob’s Red Mill. “Her consumer packaged goods experience and enthusiastic approach to innovative marketing, along with her deep respect for the brand and our employee-owned culture, makes her the perfect person for this role.” Winthrop stepped into the CEO role earlier this year, promoted from his role as CFO. 


Whole Foods Market Moves Into West Michigan

Whole Foods fruit

Whole Foods Market is welcoming shoppers to its first store in West Michigan with the impending opening of a location in the Grand Rapids market. The latest Whole Foods at 2897 Radcliff Avenue SE in the suburb of Kentwood will be unveiled Aug. 17.

The 45,400-square-foot store is in a bustling retail area, not far from a Trader Joe’s location. Under construction since late 2020, this is the eighth Whole Foods in Michigan, and the only one west of the state capital of Lansing. 

The retailer promises plenty of local touches, from the décor and furnishings to the assortment of fresh and packaged products. Opening right during the region’s harvest season, this Whole Foods will be stocked with organic, conventional and Sourced for Good produce. Likewise, the butcher counter includes local meat, poultry and seafood selections, chosen by Whole Foods’ Michigan forager Mike Neill.

As with other Whole Foods sites, this store includes an expansive specialty department, with cheese cases overseen by trained cheesemongers, and a bakery with both made-in-store and locally-baked breads and other goods. The prepared foods section also reflects the retailer’s signature offerings, with self-service hot and cold food bars, pizza, sushi and other ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat products. Rounding out the store’s assortment and amenities are a full-service coffee bar and a health and beauty section.

The grocer is celebrating the grand opening by giving away Whole Foods Market Secret Saver cards to the first 500 shoppers and a tote bag to the first 2,000 customers, in addition to providing samples from vendor partners. The retailer is also launching community outreach efforts, donating to local food pantries, schools and non-profit organizations.

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Seattle-based Amazon, which is No. 2 on The PG 100,  Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


GrubMarket Acquires One of Largest Retail, Foodservice Distributors in Southwest

GrubMarket Acquires One of Largest Retail and Foodservice Distributors in Southwest

Food tech company GrubMarket has completed the acquisition of Albuquerque, N.M.- and El Paso, Texas-based Quality Fruit & Vegetable Co. (QF&V ), a fresh produce company that provides high-quality fruits and vegetables to the Southwest, sourced from the United States, Mexico, South America and other parts of the world. QF&V sells tens of millions of dollars worth of produce to hundreds of retail and foodservice customers across the United States and Mexico each year.

Founded more than 35 years ago, QF&V is still run by original owner Nick Delgado. Today, QF&V is a full-service food distribution and wholesale business with warehouse operations covering nearly 70,000 square feet, including state-of-the-art cold-storage and air-ripening facilities. QF&V has an extensive product catalog that includes specialty and seasonal items but is particularly well known for bananas, lettuce and tomatoes. In addition, QF&V has received top food safety certifications from Primus Labs and other organizations. The business will continue to be managed by its current leadership team.

QF&V can now use GrubMarket's proprietary WholesaleWare software suite, the company's software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that provides wholesalers and distributors with financial management, online ordering features, inventory management, lot traceability, grower accounting, and automated routing and logistics tools.

”We are also excited about GrubMarket's robust technology platform and strong e-commerce network, which will allow us to tap into a best-in-class grower network across North and South America and become an even more reputable and reliable fresh food distributor for our customers across the U.S. and Mexico," said Delgado, who is also president of QF&V.

"Nick and the remarkable team at QF&V have built an exceptional company that has a well-rounded and diversified customer base and has achieved year-over-year growth in revenue and profits,” said Mike Xu, CEO of San Francisco-based GrubMarket. “This acquisition enables GrubMarket to further strengthen its presence in Texas and officially enter New Mexico, which is a key distribution region for food in the Southwest corridor of the United States."


Save Mart Partners With California Grower on Exclusive Fresh Corn

Save Mart corn

In celebration of the fresh corn season, The Save Mart Cos. is rolling out Five Star Super Sweet corn at its Save Mart and Lucky stores. The corn, grown exclusively for the retailer by Simoni and Massoni Farms in Brentwood, Calif., will be available throughout the month of July.

According to Save Mart, the Five Star Super Sweet corn is sweet and crisp, lending itself to easy preparation through grilling, boiling or microwaving, and as a great addition to salads, salsas and casseroles.

“We are thrilled to provide this delicious corn from Simoni and Massoni Farms that has a loyal following for its freshness and sweetness and is grown exclusively for our Save Mart and Lucky customers to enjoy right now,” said Donovan Ford, SVP, store operations at The Save Mart Cos. 

Based in Modesto, Calif., The Save Mart Cos. operates more than 200 retail stores under the banners of Save Mart, Lucky California and FoodMaxx. In addition to its retail operation, the company also operates SMART Refrigerated Transport and is a partner in Super Store Industries, which owns and operates a distribution center in Lathrop, Calif., and the Sunnyside Farms dairy-processing plant in Turlock, Calif. Save Mart is No. 55 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Sherman Park Grocery Now Serving Milwaukee Neighborhood

Milwaukee teaser

The Sherman Park community in Milwaukee is getting its first full-service grocery store. Sherman Park Grocery at 4315 W Fond du Lac Avenue is now serving customers in that neighborhood on the west side of the city, providing more than 1,450 fresh products, pantry staples and prepared foods from a soul food deli.

“We do not need another food pantry. It’s like a Band-Aid for cancer. What we need is a thriving and sustaining grocery store offering the freshest groceries while teaching families how to make healthy, delicious meals while showcasing the skills of local culinary entrepreneurs,” the grocers explained on their website.

Sherman Park Grocery is the brainchild and passion project for founders Maurice "Moe" Wince and Yashica Spears, who worked with several partners over the past few years to make bring the project to life, including Milwaukee’s Fresh Food Access Fund, hydroponic produce supplier Fork Farms and community groups such as the Parklawn Assembly of God, P.R.I.S.M. Economic Corp., UpStart Kitchen, Clean Laundry, Sunshine Dance Studio, and CommunityIMPACT Center. 

City alderman Khalif Rainey said in a statement that the store will help shore up food security in the community. "Having a business like Sherman Park Grocery that can offer the freshest produce and foods while teaching families how to make healthy meals and lifestyle choices will be a game-changer in an area that has long been a food desert," Rainey remarked.

The 2,100-square-foot store welcomed its first customers at a July 15 grand opening. Online ordering for in-store pickup and delivery is available. In another effort to foster community engagement, Sherman Park Grocery is offering a 20% discount to customers who volunteer for five hours a month.