Weis Markets Inc. is working with fresh grocery platform Invafresh to streamline fresh food operations across the Mid-Atlantic grocery chain. The partnership encompasses demand forecasting, in-store production planning, food traceability, recipe management and cut test management across all Weis Market fresh departments.
“Our Invafresh collaboration will help us automate processes, such as ordering, production and inventory management, so that we are meeting customers’ expectations with the freshest foods while also more accurately predicting demand,” noted Bob Gleeson, Weis Markets’ SVP merchandising and marketing. “We expect this platform to reduce food waste and improve efficiencies.”
Invafresh will help upgrade the grocer’s entire fresh food operations lifecycle, from purchase to prepared food production planning, giving the company visibility into and quality control over stores to maximize freshness and deliver a consistent consumer experience. The Invafresh Fresh Retail Platform uses AI and machine learning to simplify fresh food operations and reduce waste, making in-store operations more efficient.
“We are now focused on helping Weis to optimize their fresh store operations, from deli to bakery, produce to meat, and everything in between, to ensure the freshest and highest-quality products are available at the right levels when the consumer wants it," said Tim Spencer, president and CEO of Toronto-based Invafresh. "Our fresh-native platform helps grocery retailers deliver on their customer promise of quality and consistency while keeping margins in check and achieving their food sustainability goals in fresh.”
Invafresh’s Fresh Retail Platform has also been recently chosen by Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Federated Co-operatives Ltd., a wholesaling, manufacturing, marketing and administrative cooperative owned by more than 160 independent local co-op associations, and St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn’s, which operates 59 grocery stores under the Coborn’s Case Wine Foods, Marketplace Foods and Hornbacher’s banners.
KeHE Distributors LLC will unveil the expansion of its Aurora, Colo., distribution center on Aug. 31. Aiming to serve new independent customers, the expansion adds 124,000 additional square feet across all temperature zones, including 33% more freezer space, 66% more cooler space and 43% more dry space.
“KeHE is thrilled to announce this expansion, especially in such a key location,” said Chris Graas, KeHE’s VP of sales. “Our goal is to continue to provide exceptional and expanded service to the region. Since Colorado is a hub for product innovation and sustainability within the food and beverage industry, KeHE is committed to having a significant impact and presence in this community. By establishing an innovation destination and creating a place to experience KeHE Goodness, we are eager to expand our scope and business in Boulder to better serve our partners.”
As well as serving new independent customers, the expansion will drive economic growth while bringing new employment opportunities to the Aurora and Boulder, Colo., areas, including selector, forklift operator and receiver positions.
“Aurora is proud to have KeHE Distributors in our city and honored that they have chosen our city to expand their facility here,” affirmed Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman.
The largest, pure-play distributor of natural and organic, specialty, and fresh products to natural food stores, chain and independent grocery stores, e-commerce retailers, and other specialty products retailers throughout North America, Naperville, Ill.-based KeHE has more than 6,800 employee-owners and is a Certified B Corporation.
Filipino food grocery store chain Island Pacific has hired Herman S. Chiu to be the newest member of its executive team in the CFO role. Chiu brings more than 30 years of finance executive experience to the retailer.
After graduating from UCLA in 1989, Chiu began his career at accounting firm KPMG. Four years later, he took on the dual role of VP of finance and VP of technology at Huntington Beach, Calif.-based Harbor Distributing LLC, part of the largest beer distributorship conglomerate in the U.S. During his tenure, from 1993 to 2001, he streamlined and improved the efficiency of monthly financial reporting and was responsible for the vast network and information-reporting systems for all related organizations across the country.
In 2002, Chiu became CFO at Santa Monica Seafood, a multistate manufacturer of seafood products and a premier seafood distributor in the Southwest. In this role, he executed the company’s financial strategy, which led to the company's growth from $35 million to $500 million in revenue. Chiu also successfully centralized the banking function and leveraged technology to prevent fraud and improve the reconciliation process at the company.
After 17 years at Santa Monica Seafood, Chiu joined Buena Park, Calif.-based Tawa Supermarket Inc., operator of 99 Ranch Market, the largest Asian supermarket chain in the U.S., to assist the CEO, given Tawa's complex organization and business structure consisting of multiple business units with varied operational objectives. While at Tawa, Chiu was an integral part of the executive team, thanks to his extensive experience in finance, accounting, taxation, corporate governance and risk management.
“Island Pacific is thrilled to have Herman Chiu support our mission of promoting Filipino food and culture to the rest of the world,” the company said. “His more than three decades of executive leadership experience in various fields of finance and accounting is what Island Pacific needs to bring the company to the next level.”
City of Industry, Calif.-based Island Pacific operates 17 supermarkets serving communities in California and Las Vegas.
Grocery Outlet Raises $2.5M During Independence from Hunger Campaign
Extreme-value retailer Grocery Outlet Bargain Market has raised more than $2.5 million — the equivalent of approximately 1.25 million meals — during its 12th annual Independence from Hunger Food Drive campaign. From June 29 through July 31, more than 400 Grocery Outlet stores raised funds and collected monetary donations from customers, employees and independent operators to give back to local food agencies to help address critical food insecurities in their communities.
Grocery Outlet made a commitment more than a decade ago with the Independence from Hunger campaign to find solutions that ensure all families have access to high-quality meals. Since its launch in 2011, the campaign has collected more than $16 million in total donations nationwide.
Throughout the initiative, Grocery Outlet customers and employees were encouraged to contribute in the following ways:
• Purchasing pre-made food bags filled with an assortment of nonperishable items. • Give $5, Get $5 at the register – donating $5 or more in a single transaction and receiving a $5 coupon. • Contribution of a monetary donation through in-store and online platforms.
To fight food insecurity, natural and organic grocery store chain Earth Fare is lowering prices on hundreds of grocery essentials.
“At Earth Fare, we believe that shoppers shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health as a result of their grocery bill,” noted Laurie Aker, director of marketing at the Asheville, N.C.-based grocer, which operates more than 20 locations in eight states. “This is not a temporary sale, but rather a commitment to ensuring that our valued shoppers have access to clean, healthy foods.”
The products offered under the reduced-price program are from Chesterfield, N.H.-based Field Day, and of the more than 200 items in the program, 196 are certified organic, and 123 are non-GMO items. In common with all products sold at Earth Fare, the items adhere to the store’s Boot List, a list of ingredients the store won’t sell, citing the unhealthy risks they pose when consumed.
“At Earth Fare, our mission has always been to make healthy food more accessible to the communities we serve,” explained Earth Fare CEO Henry Kugler. “Most retailers are going the other way and raising prices. You can’t blame them: Margins are already thin, and wholesale and transportation costs have risen exponentially in the last year and don’t look to be slowing down. It is a challenge, but the best thing we can do to stay true to our mission is to provide an affordable, entry-level organic price point on pantry staples.”
The Clean Food Security campaign first rolled out at Earth Fare’s newest location, in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 27, and will reach all Earth Fare stores by mid-August.
SunriseShopRite Inc., a family-owned company that operates New Jersey's ShopRite of Parsippany and the ShopRite of West Caldwell, has appointed Mike Jacob VP of operations. In his new role Jacob, a Pennsylvania resident with more than three decades in the grocery industry, will oversee operations for both supermarkets, as well as the company’s free-standing liquor stores.
“I am thrilled that Mike is joining Sunrise ShopRite as a key member of our leadership team,” said Dara Sblendorio, president of West Caldwell-based SunriseShopRite Inc. “His commitment to community and associates is in keeping with our traditions. We look forward to working with Mike to provide the best possible shopping experiences at our stores.”
Previously, Jacob worked as a special projects manager at Wakefern Food Corp., the supermarket retailer-owned cooperative and distribution and merchandising arm for ShopRite stores, working closely with Wakefern members and their store teams on retail operations. He was also a ShopRite store director overseeing hundreds of associates and operations at a top-performing location.
Sblendorio’s great-grandfather opened Sunrise Market in 1940 in Caldwell. Her family joined the Wakefern cooperative in 1951. Ned Gladstein, Sblendorio’s father, became president of Sunrise ShopRite in 1982 and is now advisor and CFO. Sblendorio has been president since 2017, and her husband, Frank, is manager of the ShopRite of Parsippany.
“It really is a family operation, and we welcome Mike to our family,” added Sblendorio. “Mike’s knowledge and experience will be important as we continue to build our strong team culture, elevate our shopping experiences and grow our business.”
Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern comprises more than 40 members that independently own and operate 360-plus supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners. Together with its member companies, Wakefern employs nearly 80,000 people. The company is No. 25 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 listing of North America’s top food and consumables retailers in North America.