News Briefs


Bakkal Finds Its Niche as Last-Mile Platform for Small Ethnic Grocers

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A last-mile delivery platform for ethnic foods has gotten a boost to expand its partnerships with independent grocers. Pleasanton, Calif.-based Bakkal Corp. recently received $3 million seed funding from new and existing vendors as it plans to expand its services, internal teams and marketing efforts.

Bakkal first rolled out its last-mile delivery platform in the Los Angeles area in late 2021 and entered the San Francisco region earlier this year. The company’s goal is to improve access to online grocery orders and deliveries from neighborhood ethnic retailers.

["Read more: "Multicultural Grocers Drive Sales by Catering to Increasingly Diverse America"]

"We believe small grocery stores are a key part of our community and culture. Consumers from diverse ethnic backgrounds have access to healthy and affordable food through these organizations. Ethnic grocery options deserve more than a tiny corner of the grocery store," said Founder and CEO Murat Karslioglu. "We are digitizing the ethnic grocery supply chain and making it easier for small local stores to source inventory. By helping high quality and international brands stock their products reliably at stores, we increase affordable food options."

According to company information, the latest infusion of capital has increased the company’s valuation to $20 million. The company operates offices in the U.S. in California, as well as in Istanbul, Kyrgyzstan and Tel Aviv.


NGA Names ReposiTrak Its Exclusive Traceability and Compliance Partner

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To address the Food Safety Modernization Act and other compliance issues, the National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, has entered into a multiyear agreement with ReposiTrak to serve as NGA’s traceability and supplier compliance partner, in an effort to provide guidance, education and support for the independent wholesale and retail grocery community.

“Food safety is of paramount importance to independent grocers and their supplier partners,” noted Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based NGA, adding that the organization’s “partnership with ReposiTrak is the latest in a series of ongoing initiatives to enhance value for our members by sharing best practices in an area that’s crucial to safeguarding the hard-earned trust that retailers and manufacturers have with consumers.”

[Read more: "Southeastern Grocers Expands its Diverse Supplier Program with ReposiTrak"]

Under the partnership, NGA will host online thought leadership content and share it across various platforms, including website, newsletters and email blasts, as well as through a webinar series. Additionally, ReposiTrak will take part in NGA events and offer a special rate for its services to NGA member companies.

The organization has committed to offering resources as indies adopt new technology and change processes to fully implement end-to-end traceability.

“NGA’s strategic partnership and support of the ReposiTrak Traceability Network is the first step toward industry-wide adoption of our easy and inexpensive solution that will improve food safety, enable faster and more precise recalls, and even usher in the potential for food waste reduction and better transparency for consumers,” said Randy Fields, chairman and CEO of Murray, Utah-based ReposiTrak, which is part of the Park City Group. “Through our more than two decades of work in the grocery supply chain, we’ve come to understand that traceability will be inherently good for the industry.”

NGA members interested in the ReposiTrak program can contact Derek Hannum at [email protected] or Jonathan Downey at [email protected].


Publix Steers Into Curbside Pharmacy Pickup

Publix Steers Into Curbside Pharmacy Pickup

On the heels of a successful curbside pickup program for groceries, Publix is launching that kind of service for prescriptions. Shoppers at select Publix pharmacies in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Virginia can now order their medications and healthcare items and pick them up outside the store location.

The free service is available on the Publix app and online at Customers who order and pay in advance park in designated spaces, call the number on the line and let staff know that they have arrived.

“Our customers enjoy the convenience of curbside pickup for their grocery orders, so we are excited to add prescriptions to that offering,” said Dain Rusk, VP of pharmacy for Publix. “Whether customers choose to shop in our stores or from the comfort of their cars, we are committed to providing the same great service from our pharmacies.”

Some items are not eligible for curbside pickup, including controlled substances, purchases through Medicare Part B and age-restricted medications.

Employee-owned and -operated Publix has close to 1,300 supermarkets in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Publix is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Target Adds Former PepsiCo Exec to Board of Directors


Grace Puma, former PepsiCo EVP and COO, has been appointed to the Target Corp. board of directors, effective immediately. Puma is set to serve on the retailer’s Audit & Risk and Infrastructure & Finance Committees.

Puma retired from PepsiCo after 12 years with the company, and most recently led its global operations, global procurement, employee health and safety, global security and holistic cost management. Before that, she served as SVP and global chief procurement officer at United Airlines, and also held various leadership roles at Kraft Foods.

“Grace brings a deep understanding of the complexities of the global operating environment, the consumer landscape and the guests we serve. Her knowledge of supply chain, procurement and operations will provide valuable insights that complement current board strengths, and her leadership acumen and perspective will further position Target for growth and success in the evolving marketplace,” said Brian Cornell, chairman and CEO of Target. “I’m pleased to welcome Grace to Target and am confident in the expertise she will bring to our board.”

Puma also currently serves on the board of directors of global women’s healthcare company Organon & Co., and previously served as a board member for Williams-Sonoma, Inc. and Marietta Corp. She was ranked on the Most Powerful Latina list by Fortune magazine in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and was named to the inaugural Most Powerful Latinas Hall of Fame by the Association of Latino Professionals in 2021.

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations.


JRW Realty Facilitates $24.75M Purchase of ShopRite Store

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JRW Realty, a commercial real estate brokerage focusing on net-leased properties on behalf of institutional clients, has facilitated the purchase of a $24.75 million net-leased ShopRite in Uniondale, N.Y.

Aaron Bush, a real estate associate at Pasadena, Calif.-based JRW Realty, coordinated the transaction on behalf of one of its institutional buyers. Chicago-based Prodigy Real Estate Group brokered the sale on behalf of Red Bank, N.J.-based First National Realty Partners.

According to Bush, the Uniondale ShopRite store meets the criteria for properties that JRW clients are aggressively purchasing to create and expand investment portfolios.

“We were thrilled to assist our client with the acquisition of such a high-quality asset in the prominent Long Island market of New York City,” he said. “The 61,916-square-foot property is adjacent to a Walmart Supercenter, further accentuating its attractiveness as a shopping destination and its value as a real estate holding. ShopRite is a great new addition to our client’s roster of creditworthy tenants operating in necessity retail.”

Bush added that JRW’s institutional buyers are actively engaged in buying net-leased real estate tenanted by grocery stores like ShopRite, among them Kroger, Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Giant Eagle, Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, Publix, Aldi, and Whole Foods Market. The firm’s clients focus on properties with double or triple net leases backed by creditworthy tenants that provide grocery, health care, pharmacy, auto, discount retail and other necessity-based services.

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp. 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.


Weis Markets Opts for Invafresh to Streamline Fresh Food Ops

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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. 

Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets operates 198 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia, with about 23,000 associates. The company is No. 61 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Coborn's, Inc. is No. 86 on the list