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News Briefs

08/22/2022

Kalera Leafy Greens Now at Texas Trader Joe’s Locations

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Kalera Logo Teaser

Indoor vertical-farming company Kalera will distribute its leafy greens to 40 Trader Joe’s stores throughout Texas. All varieties are grown at Kalera's Houston facility as part of the company’s commitment to providing locally grown produce to urban areas with traditionally short growing seasons.

Trader Joe’s shoppers in the Lone Star State can find Kalera’s leafy greens in Krunch, Butter and Frisée whole-head-sized varieties in the produce aisle at a suggested retail price of $2.99.

Kalera’s current distribution encompasses grocery stores across the U.S. and worldwide. The company’s products are also sold in Kroger locations in the Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas, and in H-E-B locations throughout Texas. This year, Kalera has grown its retail store count by 25% versus 2021, and is on pace to surpass 40% growth by the end of the year. 

“The Trader Joe’s consumer base is undeniable, as the store is well-known for its low prices on quality, exclusive foods,” said Jim Leighton, President and CEO of Orlando, Fla.-based Kalera. “At Kalera, we pride ourselves on innovatively growing nutritious, affordable and accessible greens, making our expansion into Trader Joe’s an excellent decision for our consumers.” 

Using climate-controlled environments and sustainable farming methods such as water recycling and plant nutrient formula optimization, Kalera farms grow ultra-clean, non-GMO, nutrient-dense greens without the use of harmful sprays or chemicals. Kalera’s 86,000-square-foot Houston-based facility is the largest vertical-farming facility in Texas and produces 10 million leafy greens annually. The company also operates farms in Orlando, Atlanta, Denver, Munich and Kuwait, with five farms under construction in Seattle; Columbus, Ohio; Honolulu; St. Paul, Minn.; and Singapore.

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. Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 and San Antonio-based H-E-B is No. 16 on PG’s list.

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08/22/2022

Walmart Appeals to Readers With New Book Club

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Walmart, Inc. is rolling out its own book club in an effort to help its customers identify their next favorite read. Chosen books will be available both in store and online, and will be labeled with a Walmart Book Club sticker on the cover or on the online product page.

The company’s team of book merchants will choose five titles annually based on reading trends, industry market data and relevancy, with one being announced each season and the fifth winning the honor of the retailer’s Pick of the Year. The inaugural summer book title for the club is “Love on the Brain” by New York Times best-selling author Ali Hazelwood, and books spanning other genres will be added this fall and winter.

[Read more: "Inflation-Battered Grocery Shoppers Flocking to Walmart"]

“At Walmart, we are always looking for new ways to excite customers with exclusive experiences and unique opportunities,” wrote Walmart book merchants Myles Robinson and Megan Bee in a company blog post. “It’s just one of the many ways we help our customers live better. We’re excited for customers to join in on the literary adventure with us.”

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. With fiscal year 2022 revenue of $573 billion, the company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Bentonville, Ark.-based 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.

08/22/2022

RJW Logistics Acquires 10th Warehouse

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RJW Logistics Group Logo Teaser

RJW Logistics Group Inc., a provider of retail logistics solutions for CPG companies, has acquired its tenth warehouse in Chicagoland – the company’s largest facility to date, at 816,000 square feet. The state-of-the-art facility is the latest of RJW’s three new warehouses acquired this year alone. The company additionally plans to expand its footprint another 1 million square feet over the next year.

The new LEED-certified building increases RJW’s footprint to more than 5 million square feet in the nation’s busiest distribution hub, and the acquisition further enhances the company’s ability to serve CPG suppliers nationwide, while providing warehouse space to hold the existing oversupply of retailer inventory.

[Read more: "Logistics Pros Weigh in on Holiday Planning"]

Estimated to hold 68,000 pallets and ship 68 million-plus cases annually, the Romeoville, Ill., warehouse augments RJW’s retail logistics operation. By controlling inventory from the strategically located Chicagoland region, RJW provides economies of scale for suppliers to achieve a fully optimized and efficient supply chain at a lower cost. Through this single facility, the company will serve 175 CPG customers and create around 325 new jobs in the surrounding area.

“The acquisition of our 10th warehouse further solidifies our position to deliver industry-leading logistics performance in today’s unpredictable retail climate,” said Kevin Williamson, CEO of Woodridge, Ill.-based RJW. “Through our one-inventory model in Chicagoland, suppliers reduce overhead and operational costs while producing a more consistent product flow to retailer shelves. This helps them increase in-stocks and sales to gain market share.”

RJW also promotes sustainability best practices that minimize suppliers’ environmental footprints. These include its recycling program, which handles an average 100 tons annually, and its retail consolidation program, which eliminates an average of 13 less-than-truckload shipments per consolidated load.

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08/22/2022

Sun-Maid President and CEO Transitions to Exec Board Chair

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Sun-Maid

Sun-Maid Growers of California announced that President and CEO Harry Overly will shift into a new role as executive chairman of the board. In the meantime, Braden Bender, the current CFO of the farmer’s cooperative, will act as interim president.

Overly, who served as president and CEO since 2017 and oversaw the company’s first brand acquisition, will work with the board to conduct an executive search and ensure a smooth succession. Under his leadership, the business exceeded many sales records and pursued an ambitious growth plan.

“Harry is a considerate and ambitious leader and we’re fortunate to have had him lead our company over the last five years,” said Steve Kister, chairman of board. “We’re thankful for the leadership, vision and outstanding performance Harry brought to Sun-Maid. I’m very pleased that Harry will continue to work with our board as executive chairman, to continue the momentum he’s established.”

Overly, for his part, expressed gratitude for the experience. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to lead the Sun-Maid organization,” he remarked. “While I’m personally excited for my next adventure within the better-for-you snacking space, which will still be involved with growers here in California’s Central Valley, the Sun-Maid family will always be important to me.”

Additionally, private label snack maker Flagstone Foods announced on Aug. 22 that Overly has been appointed as CEO. 

08/22/2022

Fareway Breaks Ground on New Store in Missouri

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Fareway Breaks Ground on New Store in Missouri

Midwest grocer Fareway Stores Inc. recently hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a new store to be located at 8606 NE 85th, in Kansas City, Mo. The location will feature an approximately 8,700-square-foot Fareway Meat Market with a full-service butcher counter.

The location will also offer to-go barbecue meal options through McGonigle’s Kitchen and Catering, similar to services at the 79th and Ward Parkway in Kansas City, Mo., and the Olathe, Kan., locations. Traditional, Kansas City barbecue favorites prepared by experts, including beef brisket, burnt ends, sausage rolls, pulled pork, brisket mac and cheese, steakhouse baked beans, and other deli salads, will be smoked fresh and available daily. The Meat Market will also provide a grocery selection, including fresh-cut produce, dairy, healthy varieties and locally sourced items. Various craft beers, fine wines and top-shelf spirits will additionally be available, as well as full-service and online ordering with curbside pickup at Shop.Fareway.com.

“We are excited to expand in the Kansas City metro with the addition of new meat market location,” said Fareway President Garrett S. Piklapp. “Fareway is known for only the best in fresh, high-quality meat with our full-service butcher counters and prepared foods, and this will be the ultimate destination for Northland area residents.”

Construction will begin immediately, with anticipated store completion in early spring 2023.

The ever-growing Fareway entered its seventh state this summer with a new Meat Market in Olathe, Kan.

Family-owned Fareway now employs more than 12,000 associates at its more than 120 stores in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. The Boone, Iowa-based company is No. 77 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

08/19/2022

Weis Markets Hires Former H-E-B Exec as VP of Construction and Development

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Weis Markets_John Driscoll Teaser

John Driscoll has joined Mid-Atlantic food retailer Weis Markets as VP of construction and store development. In his new role, Driscoll will oversee the day-to-day management and operation of the grocer’s construction, architecture, land development, non-resale procurement, energy and facilities maintenance. He reports to SVP of Real Estate and Development Rusty Graber.

Driscoll brings to his latest position 20 years of experience leading multidisciplinary teams in architecture, construction, facility design/maintenance and project management. He comes to Weis Markets from Texas grocer H-E-B, where he led teams working on new stores, remodels/expansions and equipment replacements.

Driscoll earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture and an MBA from Texas Tech University. 

In reporting its most recent second-quarter results, Weis Markets noted that, despite economic uncertainty, net sales for the company totaled $1.14 billion for the 13-week quarter ended June 25, compared with $1.05 billion for the same period in 2021, up 8.4%. Second-quarter comps increased 8.4% on an individual year-over-year basis and increased 2.6% on a two-year stacked basis, following an increase of 24.1% for the same period in 2020. The grocer attributed these gains to such inflation-fighting strategies as its Low, Low Price program, which includes brand-name and Weis Quality products and features price reductions between 13% and 33%.

Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets operates 197 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia. The company is No. 61 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named it as one of the Top 10 Regional Operators to Watch in 2022. San Antonio-based H-E-B, with more than 420 stores and 145,000 employees in Texas and Mexico,  is No. 16 on PG’s list.