News Briefs


Chef’Store Names New President

Chef’Store Exec

At a time of expansion, Chef'Store is getting a new leader. Parent company US Foods announced the hiring of Irfan Badibanga as president of the warehouse retailer that serves foodservice professionals and members of the public.

In his new role, Badibanga will spearhead the retailer’s growth strategy and lead efforts to add more locations. He reports to Jay Kvasnicka, EVP of field operations for US Foods.

Prior to joining Chef’Store, Badibanga was SVP of operations at Giant Food. His industry leadership also includes roles as SVP of operations at Family Dollar Stores and VP of operations at Walmart. He began his industry career as a bagger at a Gooding’s Supermarket location in Orlando, Fla.

[Read more: "US Foods Completes Expansion of Louisiana Distribution Center"]

“Chef’Store is poised for tremendous growth, and I am excited to help advance an omnichannel experience that enables purchasing synergies for our US Foods broadline customers,” the new president remarked. “Our Chef’Store locations have an unparalleled culture that enables associates to cultivate lasting partnerships with our customers, and a customer value proposition that is centered around an incomparable customer experience that emphasizes clean, easy-to-navigate stores and a consistently stocked assortment of products aligned with the communities we operate in.” 

Kvasnicka welcomed Badibanga to the organization. “His extensive retail leadership experience and proven track record of helping advance retail excellence will be critical as we continue to invest in the growth and expansion of our Chef’Store business,” he said.

US Foods acquired Smart Foodservice Warehouse stores in April 2020 and rebranded all Smart Foodservice Warehouse stores as US Foods Chef’Stores in February 2021. With 80 locations across 13 states, the chain offers fresh meat, produce, dairy, and deli items, along with an assortment of grocery products, beverages, catering essentials, janitorial supplies and other goods.  


Square Roots Grows Distribution With Meijer

Square Roots SKUs Teaser

Indoor-farming company Square Roots will now sell its produce in Meijer stores in four Midwestern states, meeting consumer demand for nutritious, responsibly farmed local foods.

Grown and harvested locally at Square Roots’ Kenosha, Wis., farm, the company’s largest facility to date, the leafy greens will be available at Meijer locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. To manage the farm, Square Roots uses proprietary cloud-connected software to constantly monitor and control various climates, enabling it to grow a wide range of crops to meet local market needs. 

“Our new farm in Kenosha delivers delicious, pesticide-free, fresh produce to Meijer and other local retailers in the Midwest, all year round, and often within hours of being harvested,” noted Chad Hague, VP of sales at Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Square Roots. “We’re thrilled that Meijer shoppers will get to enjoy our locally harvested greens that stay fresh for weeks.” 

All Square Roots produce has extended 14-day shelf life, is always pesticide-free and non-GMO, and is 100% traceable. The company grows a wide variety of fresh greens, including herbs such as basil, dill, parsley and cilantro; microgreens; and salad mixes.

Besides Meijer, Square Roots produce can be found at Whole Foods Market, SpartanNash corporate stores, Fresh Thyme Market, Busch’s Fresh Food Market, Fresh Direct, Getir and Gordon Food Service Stores. Square Roots has formed a strategic partnership with Gordon Food Service to build commercial-scale, climate-controlled indoor farms across the continent.

Privately owned Meijer operates more than 260 supercenters and grocery stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company is No. 20 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Tops Rolls Out Annual March of Dimes Campaign

75+ Tops Stores to Get Solar Power Convergent New York State

Tops Friendly Markets is kicking off its annual campaign benefiting the March of Dimes. From now through Oct. 1, shoppers at participating locations can buy a March of Dimes icon for $1 or round up their purchase at the register to support the nonprofit organization’s mission of helping mothers and their babies.

This is the 10th year that Tops has partnered with the March of Dimes. Through its promotions over the years, the grocer has donated more than $135,000 to the cause.

“Tops Markets strongly believes in giving back to the community and improving the quality of life of children. With the help and compassion of our associates and customers, we know we can make a difference supporting the March of Dimes Campaign,” said John Persons, president of Tops Friendly Markets.

The following Tops stores are participating in the campaign:

• 100 Main Street, Corinth, N.Y.
• 4976 Lakeshore Dr., Bolton Landing, N.Y.
• 7544 Court St., Elizabethtown, N.Y.
• 6308 State Rd. Rt. 9, Chestertown, N.Y.
• 273 Main St., North Creek, N.Y.
• 14228 NYS Rt. 9N, Ausable Forks, N.Y.
• 1103 Main St., Schroon Lake, N.Y.
• 11573 State Rt. 32, Greenville, N.Y.
• 201 N. Main St., Northville, N.Y.
• 127 Main St., Stamford, N.Y.
• 21501 NY State Rt. 22, Hoosick Falls, N.Y.
• 44 Hope Plaza, Rt. 9W, West Coxsackie, N.Y.
• 6350 Main St., Rt. 23A, Tannersville, N.Y.
• 16 W Main St., Hancock, N.Y.
• 63 Plaza Dr.. Unit 3, Northfield, Vt.
• 82 Vermont Route, 15W, Hardwick, Vt.

Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops Markets LLC operates 150 supermarkets, including five franchise stores, and employs more than 14,000 associates in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. The banner’s parent company, Northeast Grocery Inc., is No. 44 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. 


How Sprouts Farmers Market Is Empowering Women's Sports

Sprouts women's sports

Sprouts Farmers Market is lending support to women’s athletics by sponsoring games and activities at colleges across its footprint. The grocer announced this week that it is teaming up with Arizona State University, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Southern California and the University of Texas.

Sprouts will sponsor season-long activities and entitlement games at these institutions. In addition, the retailer will sponsor one female student-athlete from each university.

“Through these partnerships, and after celebrating the anniversary of Title IX, we pledge to continue to empower and educate women’s health and performance, bringing fresh and nutritional food options to them on and off the playing field,” said Sprouts CEO Jack Sinclair. “We’re also proud to align our brand with talented, hard-working female student-athletes at these four outstanding universities.”

Earlier this year, Sprouts shared other details of its long-term investment in women’s athletics. Commitments include partnerships with the Big 12 and Pac-12 conferences and the support of 50 individual Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) agreements with female athletes from several schools in those conferences. The grocer also partners with Angel City FC, a professional women’s soccer team based in Los Angeles.

Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market employs approximately 31,000 associates and is No. 53 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Human-Grade Pet Food Company Achieves B Corp Certification

The Honest Kitchen

The Honest Kitchen, a San Diego-based producer of natural human- grade pet foods, supplements and treats, has successfully completed the evaluation process to become a Certified B Corporation, the gold standard of social and environmental performance in business. The company reincorporated as a Public Benefit Corp. in early 2021.

"We've been grounded in the principles of conscientious decision-making, such as sourcing non-GMO produce, numerous organic ingredients and higher animal welfare meat standards, since we first began," said Lucy Postins, The Honest Kitchen's founder and chief integrity officer. "We believe it's our responsibility to continue to raise the bar for ourselves, and becoming a B Corp is the perfect next step to cement our ongoing commitment to lasting, positive impact by using our business as a force for good."

[Read more: "Shaking Up Pet Food by Sourcing Closer to Home"]

Becoming a Certified B Corp provides the company with a more formalized framework for its future growth and conscientious decision-making. Policies that the company has implemented as part of its B Corp certification include the prioritization of minority and women-owned and -operated suppliers; increased local sourcing; further reductions in environmental impact through packaging and distribution choices; tracking and continual improvement of workforce diversity, especially at leadership levels within the organization; further improved animal welfare standards; and integration of even more organic and certified fair- trade ingredients.

The Honest Kitchen produces a full line of human-grade complete and balanced foods for pets, including dry, dehydrated and wet foods, as well as treats, toppers, hydration boosters and a digestive supplement.


Alaska Seafood Casts Wider Digital Net With New Partnership

Alaska Seafood

In an effort to reel in more online seafood sales, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) is teaming up with ad platform Chicory. Through this partnership, ASMI and Chicory will provide consumers with ideas on how to choose, order and prepare meals made with wild Alaska seafood.

ASMI will leverage Chicory’s suite of in-recipe commerce solutions to engage with online browsers and shoppers. Over the next several months, all of the recipes on will feature Chicory's "Get Ingredients" button that links visitors directly to retailers’ sites. In addition, ASMI will be able to work through Chicory’s recipe network to reach 110 million additional high-intent shoppers each month.

[Read more: "Digital Recipes Attract High-Intent Grocery Shoppers"]

"We're on a mission to help home cooks easily prepare delicious, wild Alaska seafood," said Megan Rider, ASMI’s domestic marketing director. "Chicory makes this simple, which is why they are our premier partner in our new era of digital growth. Together, through our recently launched Seafood Recipe Finder and Chicory's extensive network, we're providing seamless shopping experiences and making Alaska seafood more accessible to the everyday consumer."

Added Yuni Sameshima, Chicory's CEO and co-founder: "In leveraging our full suite of solutions, the ASMI team is exceeding benchmarks, driving site engagement and bolstering the sales of Alaska seafood. The results from the partnership are further validation of the power of in-recipe, contextual commerce advertising."

The Juneau, Alaska-based ASMI recently expanded its digital recipe portfolio and updated its website. For its part, Chicory’s recipe network has more than tripled over the last few months, growing from 1,600 to 5,200 websites.