Making it easier and faster for consumers to get meals on the table, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) is adding to its portfolio of meal solutions. The grocery wholesaler is now offering fresh meal kits from Cook•Able and flash-frozen meals from Corona, Calif.-based Cadence Kitchen.
Billed as being of restaurant quality, the new ready-to-assemble and ready-to-eat meals are available to more than 30,000 U.S. locations serviced by UNFI. Meal kits from Cook•Able include choices like Mediterranean Chicken with Olives, Feta and Rice; Weeknight Chicken Pad Thai with Broccoli and Peanuts; and Chipotle Chicken Tacos. With a suggested retail price range of $12.99 to $19.99, the shelf-stable kits come with pre-portioned ingredients and can be prepared for two to four people within 20 to 25 minutes.
The Cadence Kitchen meal offerings can be heated within 15 minutes or less for a price point of between $5.99 and $9.99. Entrées include Chicken Tikka Masala, Gluten Free BBQ Mac and Cheese, Lobster Tortellini, and Prime Rib Stroganoff. There are three side dishes, too: Four Cheese Mac and Cheese, Mexican Style Street Corn, and a Vegan Latin Bowl.
“With consumers continuing to favor eating at home versus away, retailers are looking to offer delicious and effortless products to time-challenged consumers that replicate the restaurant experience at budget- friendly pricing,” said Jody Barrick, VP of bakery/deli at UNFI. “These chef-inspired offerings from Cook•Able and Cadence Kitchen give retailers a fast, delicious and reasonably priced turnkey experience, affording their teams additional time to focus on serving their customers.”
Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 49 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
Great Place to Work Recognizes Gelson's for Work Culture
Great Place to Work, an organization devoted to workplace culture, has awarded a 2022 Great Place to Work certification to the Gelson's chain. Certification is based on employee surveys and independent analysis to quantify and validate the operating environment.
Gelson’s participated in the two-step certification process that sought feedback from employees. The research found that 78% of workers replied that it was a good place to work, and 85% said that they are given the resources and equipment to do their jobs. In addition, 85% agreed that customers would rate the store’s service as excellent.
The certification process also generated open-ended comments from team members. Among other remarks, associates shared sentiments such as “Working at Gelson’s is like being with family” and “There are great opportunities for employees to grow within the company.”
More than 2,500 people work for Gelson’s, which runs 27 specialty stores across Southern California. The Encino, Calif.-based company reports that almost a quarter of its employees (24%) have worked for Gelson’s for more than two years, and 43% are at least 10-year workers.
Earlier this year, Great Place to Work and Fortune magazine teamed up to publish the list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2022. Top-ranked grocers included Wegmans Food Markets Inc. (No. 3), Target Corp. (No. 12) and Publix Super Markets (No. 92). This month, Great Place to Work also shared a list of the top large retail employers for the year, which included Wegmans, Target and Publix, along with Aldi and Southeastern Grocers.
Tops Names Meat/Seafood Specialist for East Region
Tops Markets LLC has promoted Rusty Ames to the role of meat/seafood specialist in the grocer’s east region. Formerly assistant category business manager – seafood, Ames will now be responsible for the Rochester and Fingerlakes/Syracuse West districts in upstate New York, where he will oversee all aspects of operations and merchandising for the meat and seafood departments.
Ames joined Tops in 1995 and over the course of his career has held such roles as seafood manager, meat manager, assistant store manager, and meat and seafood specialist. He lives in Middleport, N.Y., with his family.
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.
Consumer Brands Hires Senior Director of SmartLabel
Consumer Brands Association has expanded its consumer transparency efforts by hiring a new senior director of its SmartLabel digital platform, Rishi Banerjee. Succeeding Julie Savoie, Banerjee joins Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Brands from Amazon, where he headed external engagement with the consumer packaged goods industry.
Bringing almost 15 years of regulatory and government affairs experience and a background in e-commerce and food safety to his latest role, Banerjee will devise a strategic plan to accelerate SmartLabel’s footprint at a pivotal time for consumer transparency.
Consumer Brands launched SmartLabel in 2015 to offer national brands and retailers in key grocery categories the opportunity to go beyond the label, providing consumers with more detailed product information than can fit on a package. Through a QR code on packaging or an online search, SmartLabel offers consistent display across participating brands and almost 100,000 products in the food, beverage, household cleaning, pet care, personal care, dietary supplements and over-the-counter medications categories.
On Sept. 28, the White House will hold a Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, with a major focus on empowering all consumers to make and access nutritional choices. Consumer Brands recently submitted comments to the White House, in which SmartLabel was presented as a way to support this crucial conference pillar.
North Texans hungry for a different shopping experience just got some satisfaction with the news that a long-planned H-E-B store in Frisco will welcome shoppers on Wednesday, Sept. 21. On Sept. 5, the Texas retailer dropped fresh details about the official grand opening in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Metroplex.
The 110,000-square-foot location at 4800 Main Street in Frisco will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. As with H-E-B stores located in other parts of Texas, this one is stocked with a range of traditional groceries and everyday items, including products from several Lone Star brands and the grocer’s signature store-made tortillas, served up warm in the bakery area.
Other highlights include an expansive meat counter, a Healthy Living department, and a large-footprint wine section with sampling stations. A household essentials department and a pharmacy also cater to residents’ needs.
The store will deliver on cravings with various foodservice-at-retail offerings. In addition to prepared foods such as H-E-B Meal Simple Items and sushi from the a Sushiya counter, customers can order up barbecue favorites at an on-site True Texas BBQ restaurant, which also includes drive-thru service.
As H-E-B opens its doors in Frisco this month, the retailer continues to work on other expansions in the DFW area. Plans for a new store in Mansfield were revealed in August, and construction on H-E-B locations in Plano, Allen and McKinney are underway.
The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), a Mill Valley, Calif.-based 501(c)(3) environmental nonprofit working to advance climate-friendly natural refrigerants in supermarkets, has opened registration for its Sustainable Refrigeration Summit. Scheduled for Oct. 24-28, the free virtual event will feature solutions to climate-damaging refrigerants.
“We have a huge opportunity to solve one of the biggest environmental problems facing supermarkets,” said NASRC Executive Director Danielle Wright. “To do this, we need all stakeholders at the table, ready to drive solutions.”
The summit sessions will address the latest regulatory and industry trends, natural technologies, and the benefits and challenges of adopting sustainable solutions. Attendees will hear directly from the supermarkets, industry experts and policymakers shaping the future of sustainable refrigeration.
Under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, federal regulations must phase down hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant emissions by 85% by 2036, with several states also formulating HFC regulations. As a result, supermarkets are under pressure to switch from high global-warming HFCs to climate-friendly alternatives. Natural refrigerants such as ammonia, CO2 and propane have zero or near-zero global-warming potential and are considered future-proof from a regulatory standpoint, but market barriers have stymied widespread adoption in U.S. supermarkets.
“This is one of the rare climate issues where the technology solution exists today,” continued Wright. “To overcome the challenges and make meaningful progress, we need all hands on deck, and that’s what this summit is designed to do.”
The free summit is sponsored by such refrigeration companies as Flowery Branch, Ga.-based Bitzer US and St. Louis-based Emerson.
NASRC collaborates with stakeholders from across the industry, including more than 38,000 food retail locations, to eliminate the barriers to natural refrigerants in supermarkets.