News Briefs


Mars Adds Product Portfolios to Instacart


Instacart is making room for the full portfolio of products from Mars. The global CPG company said this week that it’s making products from more than 40 brands available on the instant-needs platform.

Instacart users can now order items from such brands as M&Ms, Snickers, Ben’s Original, Seeds of Change, Pedigree and Iams, covering a broad swath of categories.

“At Mars, we know that today’s savvy consumers are shopping on digital platforms like Instacart for choice for choice, convenience and time-saving benefits. Our innovative partnership with Instacart enables Mars to continue to reach consumers where they choose to shop,” said Kelly Goering, VP of sales at McLean, Va.-based Mars.

Added Kasey Jamison, senior director of brand partnerships at San Francisco-based Instacart: “Online shopping and same-day delivery are critical for brands looking to accommodate consumers’ busy schedules. From snacks to pet food, we’re excited to help Mars enhance its consumers’ shopping experience by offering a flexible, fast and hassle-free way to shop.”

Included on the Instacart platform are some new products from Mars brands, including M&M’s Crunchy Cookie and Nu-Tro So Simple dog food.

As it makes its products more accessible to consumers, Mars is planning for growth in other ways. Earlier this summer, the corporation revealed that current CEO Grant F. Reid is retiring after 34 years in the industry. He will be succeeded by Paul Weihrauch, currently the global president at Mars Petcare.

For its part, Instacart continues to expand its platform to more brands, retailers and partners. The grocery technology company recently enhanced online ordering and delivery for catered items and added a solution for same-day delivery of large, bulky items like grills and electronics.


Kaivac Elevates Sales Exec

Mike Pereazzo

Science-based cleaning company Kaivac has promoted Mike Perazzo to EVP of sales.  Perazzo is a 14-year company veteran who started as a sales director and was VP of business development for the past seven years.

The new role elevates him to the leadership team at Hamilton, Ohio-based Kaivac, which offers cleaning systems for areas throughout grocery store environments. In his new position, Perazzo will set the company’s sales strategy, support customer acquisition, open new markets and expand the existing customer base.

“Next year is our 25th anniversary year,” said Bob Robinson Jr., Kaivac’s chief growth officer. “We need the best people in the right roles to capitalize on our current positive momentum. Mike is the perfect person to lead our sales team into the future.”

Perazzo said that he hopes to build on the relationships he’s forged in the retail industry, as well as in the health care, education and building service contractor markets.  “I love to lead, coach and mentor,” he noted. “In this phase of my career, it’s important to me to help other people realize their professional ambitions. As much as our team has done, there’s so much more we can do. We’re only just getting started.”

Perazzo will share insights on how to create a clean, safe store environment during an upcoming Progressive Grocer webinar on Sept. 20.


Natural Grocers Welcomes Organic Month with Fundraiser, Promotions

Natural Grocers Beyond Pesticides

Natural Grocers is living up to its banner name, marking Organic Month with a variety of activities.

During September, the specialty retailer is holding a fundraiser for Beyond Pesticides, a nonprofit group that aims to protect the environment and public health by leading a transition away from pesticides. Shoppers can donate $1, $5 or $10 directly at checkout to the group’s effort to create pesticide-free local parks and playing fields. Natural Grocers will also donate $1 to Beyond Pesticides for every limited-edition Organic Month reusable shopping bag sold and $2 for every Ladybug Zip Pouch sold. The grocer has set a fundraising goal of $100,000 for the new campaign.

“Our partnership with Natural Grocers during Organic Month and year-round is powerful in advancing needed change, because organic supporters play a critical role through organic purchasing decisions and support of community efforts to manage parks and playing fields organically. This contributes to safer food production and healthier communities while protecting our air, land, water and biodiversity, and fighting the climate crisis,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based Beyond Pesticides. “Though we’re active in our advocacy efforts year-round, we place special emphasis on Organic Month to recognize and praise our organic supporters.”

In addition, Natural Grocers will raise awareness of organic choices through this month’s educational programs and promotions. Shoppers can enjoy samples, discounts and giveaways of various organic items throughout September.

Organic foods are part and parcel of Natural Grocers’ operations, The retailer sells only 100% USDA Certified Organic produce and has actively worked to promote organic labels. All stores are Certified Organic Food Handlers and are inspected annually by a certifying body to ensure that they’re exclusively using organic-approved processes and cleaning products.

Lakewood, Colo.-based Natural Grocers is No. 95 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Costco Reports Higher Sales Across the Board

Costco Names New COO

It been a double-digit kind of performance for Costco Wholesale Corp. The membership warehouse club has revealed that its net sales climbed 15.3% to top $70.8 billion during its fourth quarter ending Aug. 28, which also marked the end of its fiscal year.

During that just-concluded fiscal year, Costco shoppers rang up $222.7 billion in net sales, a 15.9% increase from fiscal 2021. Comp sales rose 14.4% across the company during FY2022, with a 15.8% lift in the U.S.

Taking out the impact of gas prices and foreign exchange, the yearly growth rate was 10.6% for the entire Costco organization and 10.4% for U.S. club stores. In a financial call, Assistant VP of Finance and Investor Relations David Sherwood noted that the average worldwide selling price of gasoline rose 25% in that period.

Comparable e-commerce sales have also been in positive territory: Online sales rose 3.9% during August, 7.1% in the fourth quarter and 10.1% over the fiscal year.

According to Sherwood, the strongest sales comps came from the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast regions. By category, sales were particularly strong in bakery and produce, and fresh food sales increased by high single digits.

The retailer also shared financial figures for August, noting that net sales went up 11.4% last month to reach $17.55 billion. Same-store sales rose 10.1% overall and 11% in the United States for that four-week span.

Costco will release its comprehensive earning report for the fourth quarter and fiscal year on Sept. 22.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco has more than 550 locations and is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Hy-Vee to Offer Biometric Screenings at Select Stores

Blood Sample Teaser

Hy-Vee Inc. will provide 1,000 free biometric screenings at select stores throughout its eight-state market area as part of Midwest grocer’s “Meet Your Metrics” tour during National Cholesterol Month in September.

The retailer’s dietitian team will administer the free screenings to customers at more than 60 Hy-Vee locations. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last. Customers can contact the participating Hy-Vee nearest them to arrange an appointment.

A biometric screening is a combination of measurements and readings that may help identify potential risk factors for chronic diseases or conditions such as heart disease, hypertension or diabetes. The dietitians will collect a blood sample from a finger prick that will be used to determine cholesterol levels, triglycerides and glucose levels. They’ll also take resting blood pressure; measurements of height, weight and waist; and calculate body mass index. A typical screening takes 15 to 20 minutes, with all results reviewed and received during the process.

The screenings are made possible by the following partners: Siete, Alaskan Seafood, National Watermelon Board, GFit, Vitamine and Performance Inspired. Each person who receives a screening will receive a Heart Health bag containing samples, coupons and educational materials.

Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states and has a team of more than 93,000 employees. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 30 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Consumer Confidence Turns Around in August

August CC

Those looking for a bright spot following a cascade of bad inflation news and recession predictions can find it in the latest Consumer Confidence Index released this week. The Conference Board, a member-driven think tank, reported that consumer confidence rose in August, stemming a three-month period of declines.

Consumers’ more positive – or at least less negative – take on current market conditions is also reflected in a higher Consumer Expectations Index. That index is based on people’s short-term outlook for income, business and labor market conditions.

The Conference Board’s research shows that 19.2% of consumers think that business conditions are good, up from 16.3% last month. Looking ahead, 17.5% expect business conditions to improve six months from now, up from 13.7% in July.  On the flip side, 22.3% think that conditions will deteriorate, lower than the 26.2% rate last month.

“Purchasing intentions increased after a July pullback, and vacation intentions reached an eight-month high. Looking ahead, August’s improvement in confidence may help support spending, but inflation and additional rate hikes still pose risks to economic growth in the short term,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board, which is based in New York.

To Franco’s point, there are still some significant headwinds in the overall economy.  “Concerns about inflation continued their retreat but remained elevated,” she noted.

Labor challenges also remain top of mind, if a bit mixed. Nearly half – 48% – of consumers reported that jobs were plentiful, down from 49.2% in July. At the same time, 11.4% said that jobs were hard to get, down from the previous 12.4% mark.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey is conducted online for The Conference Board by Norwalk, Conn.-based tech company Toluna.