News Briefs


Consumer Brands Hires Senior Director of SmartLabel

Consumer Brands Association Rishi Banerjee

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. 

Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100,  Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


H-E-B Sets Opening Date for New DFW-Area Store

Frisco rendering

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 largest privately held employer in Texas, San Antonio-based H-E-B has more than 420 stores and 145,000 employees in Texas and Mexico. The company is No. 16 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council to Hold Free Summit

Refrigerated Cases Teaser

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.


Unilever’s The Ice Cream Shop Available Nationwide via Instacart

Unilever's The Ice Cream Shop Instacart Teaser

Consumers can now shop Unilever’s The Ice Cream Shop nationwide for the first time ever through its new partnership with San Francisco-based tech company Instacart. The partnership expands the virtual restaurant’s delivery service from select major metro areas to the entire United States, with deliveries received in as fast as 30 minutes via Instacart’s retail partners

Unilever’s The Ice Cream Shop enables shoppers to have their favorite ice cream brands sent directly to their homes. The extensive selection of brands from the Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based CPG company includes Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Good Humor, Klondike, Magnum, Popsicle, and Talenti.

Additionally, Instacart’s special categories, such as Best Sellers, Classics, Chocolate & Vanilla, Chunks & Swirls, Gluten Free, Peanut Free, and Frozen Novelties, make it even easier for consumers to find what they’re looking for.


Grocery Outlet’s Board Leader, Former CEO to Retire

MacGregor Read

The vice chairman of Grocery Outlet Holding Corp.'s board and former co-CEO, S. MacGregor Read Jr., has retired. The company veteran started his career as an intern in 1993 and worked in several capacities for Grocery Outlet over nearly three decades, including roles in purchasing, retail merchandising real estate and construction.

Read, tapped as co-CEO in 2006, helped guide the discount retailer to significant growth during his tenure.  He was named executive vice chairman of the board in 2018, and transitioned to vice chair in 2020.

“After 16 years of service on our board and nearly 30 years as part of the Grocery Outlet team, the impact MacGregor has had on the trajectory and success of our business is unmatched,” said Grocery Outlet CEO Eric Lindberg. “MacGregor has been a steadfast and strategic partner to me and the rest of the leadership team, helping build and solidify the most unique aspects of our business model – how we buy and how we sell.”

Read expressed gratitude to the organization and his colleagues for his long career at Grocery Outlet.  “I want to thank Eric and the entire Grocery Outlet family for the best three decades of my life,” he said. “While I step away and enjoy this next chapter, I look forward to watching the continued success of Grocery Outlet. I have the utmost confidence in the leadership team, our unique model and independent operators who bring our treasure-hunt shopping experience to customers across the country each day.”

Emeryville, Calif.-based Grocery Outlet offers products sold through a network of independently operated stores at more than 400 stores in California, Washington, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Nevada, New Jersey and Maryland. The company is No. 70 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


H-E-B Tops YouGov’s 2022 Recommend Rankings

YouGov Teaser

YouGov, which tracks 2,000 brands through its BrandIndex tool, has released its annual Recommend Rankings, based on the percentage of a brand’s customers who would recommend it to a friend or colleague, and Texas grocer H-E-B has topped the list as the most recommended brand in the United States, with an average score of 89.5 from its customers. 

Also making the top 10 most recommended U.S. brands were Trader Joe’s, at No. 3, with a score of 87.4, and Aldi, at No. 5, with a score of 86.6; last year, Aldi and Trader Joe’s jointly took the top spot for U.S. brands, with a score of 89.6, and H-E-B didn’t appear in the top 10. Among Canadian brands, Costco came in fifth in 2022, with a score of 83.1, up three spots from its eighth-place ranking 2021, when it scored 81.9.

Also in 2021, Save A Lot appeared among the top U.S. improvers, at No. 8, after its score rose from 69.4 to 75.7, while in Canada, Loblaw’s Joe Fresh apparel brand came in second in the improvers ranking, after its score rose from 60.0 to 68.0. 

With U.S. locations in Redwood City, Calif.; San Francisco; Cheshire, Conn.; Chicago; New York; and Portland, Ore., YouGov has one of the world’s largest research networks. At the core of its platform is a growing source of consumer data that has been amassed over 20 years of operation, which it calls Living Data. All of YouGov’s products and services draw upon this detailed understanding of its 20 million registered panel members to deliver accurate, actionable consumer insights. 

The largest privately held employer in Texas, San Antonio-based H-E-B has more than 420 stores and 145,000 employees in Texas and Mexico. The company is No. 16 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Brampton, Ontario-based Loblaw Cos. Ltd. is No. 11Costco’s Ottawa, Ontario-based Canadian division is No. 19; Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi U.S. is No. 24; Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s is No. 27; and Earth City, Mo.-based Save A Lot is No. 60 on PG’s list.