News Briefs


FMI Urges Americans to Use Coins

Pile of Coins Teaser

FMI – The Food Industry Association is encouraging U.S. shoppers to help increase coin circulation during “Get Coin Moving” Month in October to support fellow Americans and businesses that rely on coins for everyday cash transactions amid ongoing circulation disruptions.

“The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated shifts in consumer habits about how they purchase goods and services, with increases in online shopping and credit or debit card use impacting the circulation of legal tender like coins,” explained Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “These shifts have resulted in large quantities of coins sitting idle in the 128 million households across America instead of flowing through commerce. Unfortunately, this means that businesses like grocery stores have a harder time making change for cash transactions, and consumers who rely on cash have difficulty securing the coins they need for everyday food and goods purchases at our stores.” 

Added Sarasin: “We cannot mint ourselves out of this situation. It is critical that Americans do our part to get coin moving by returning coins back into circulation. We call on all Americans to spend or donate their idle coins, deposit coins at financial institutions or redeem them at coin kiosks.”


Trader Joe’s Plans 3 More Openings Before Year’s End


Residents in the Washington, D.C., area will soon have a new Trader Joe’s to browse. The grocer revealed that it is putting the finishing touches on a location in College Park, Md., that could open by the end of this year.

The latest Trader Joe’s will welcome shoppers at 4429 Calvert Road in College Park, which is in Prince George’s County and about four miles from the nation’s capital. The retailer operates eight stores in Maryland, including sites in Annapolis and Bethesda, and has five locations in D.C. proper.

[Read more: "Trader Joe’s Samples Make a Triumphant Return"]

As it puts down roots in a new Maryland community, Trader Joe’s pledged that it will help provide food assistance to area residents through its Neighborhood Shares program.

In addition to the news about the College Park store, Trader Joe’s shared updates about other upcoming openings around the country. Two more locations are expected to open yet this year in Tigard, Ore., at 16200 SW Pacific Highway, and in Providence, R.I., at 425 S Main Street. The retailer also announced its store in Draper, Utah, will be unveiled in 2023, making it the fourth Trader Joe’s in that state.

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


Shipt Adds to C-Suite

Shipt officers

Shipt is shoring up its operations for future growth with two executive appointments. The delivery company revealed that it has hired Alia Kemet (left) as chief marketing officer and promoted Smrutha Ipparthi (right) to chief product officer.

Kemet brings with her more than 20 years of marketing skills and industry insights to oversee brand, creative, consumer insights and growth marketing at Shipt. Most recently, she served as SVP of global creative and digital transformation at McCormick & Co. She also held marketing roles at Whole Foods Market, Nike and IKEA.

Ipparthi’s elevation to chief product officer comes after a successful tenure as Shipt's VP of engineering. In her new position, she will oversee the company’s product design teams to create solutions that meet the needs of shoppers, partners and customers. Prior to Shipt, she worked as a chief technology officer at Arteza and as VP of engineering for the mobile app, site marketing and merchandising at Macy’s.  

The leadership updates come as Shipt is widening its scope to meet the needs of today’s shoppers, including its recent foray into the health and wellness market. "As we move into the next era of our business, Alia and Smrutha will bring incredible industry expertise to our team," said Kamau Witherspoon, Shipt CEO. "Their collective experience and success in driving businesses forward in new and creative ways will be instrumental as we continue to evolve to meet the needs of our customers, partners, drivers and shoppers."

Reporting to Witherspoon, the latest additions said they are looking forward to making a difference. "I've admired the company's commitment to innovation, which is rooted in creating exceptional experiences and celebrating every step of the delivery journey. I'm thrilled to lead a team that is driven by creativity and forward thinking,” remarked Kemet.

Added Ipparthi: "I'm honored by the opportunity to further Shipt's reputation as a brand that not only listens to the needs of customers, shoppers and retailers, but uses data to create innovative, personal and one-of-a-kind experiences."

Shipt is an independently operated, wholly owned subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Target Corp., which is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Founded and based in Birmingham, Ala., Shipt also maintains an office in San Francisco.


Overall Retail Sales Flat in September, Grocery Sales Edge Higher

Cash register

A day after the U.S. Labor Department confirmed a continued spike in food prices, the U.S. Census Bureau is out with its own information on the toll of inflation. According to the department’s advance estimates of U.S. retail sales for September, while overall retail sales were essentially flat last month compared to August, higher prices helped spur a 0.4% increase in grocery sales.

Estimated monthly sales at grocery stores were up 8.4% from September 2021. On an adjusted basis, grocery sales topped $71.1 billion in September versus $70.9 billion in August. The nine-month total for 2022 grocery sales: $624.73 billion.

Analysts reacting to the latest round of data noted that a slowdown in retail spending, coupled with higher prices, portend a climate of caution, at the very least. 

"Grocery has clearly been impacted by inflation, and gas prices hiking back up will keep grocery prices high for the time being. People are also adopting a couple different mentalities amid inflation: either to stock up and gain savings that way, or to buy more frequently in lower quantities because they can’t afford to stock up," observed Chip West, retail and consumer behavior expert at Vericast

"Consumers will continue to trade down to discount and dollar stores where they can," he continued. "As grocery store prices continue to be high due to inflation, we see people weighing the cost of food at home versus eating out and noticing little difference in cost. This entice them to eat out more in place of buying groceries, unless inflation comes down and groceries become more affordable."

Greg Daco, chief economist at New York’s EY-Parthenon, echoed that concern in a Reuters report. “While consumers remain willing to spend, many families, especially those at the lower-to-median end of the income spectrum, are feeling increasingly constrained by elevated prices and rising interest rates," Daco said.

The advance retail sales estimates came as a bit of a surprise. Before the government's announcement, Wall Street economists had pegged a 0.3% increase in overall retail sales for September.


Wakefern, AWG Among Top Revenue-Earning Cooperatives

NCB Co-op 100 Cover Teaser

National Cooperative Bank (NCB), which provides banking solutions for cooperatives and their members nationwide, has released its annual “NCB Co-op 100” report listing the nation’s top 100 revenue-earning cooperative businesses. In 2021, these businesses posted revenue totaling $255 billion. In the grocery sector, Wakefern Food Corp./Shoprite, reported $11.8 billion in revenue, earning the fourth ranking again this year, while Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc. (AWG) reported revenue of $10.8 billion, coming in at No. 5. The two co-ops achieved the same rankings last year.

Aside from grocery, the report’s main sectors are agriculture, hardware and lumber, finance, health care, and energy and communications. In the agriculture sector, Inver Grove Heights, Minn.-based CHS Inc. reported $38.4 billion in revenues in 2021, maintaining its first-place position on the list, and Kansas City, Mo.-based Dairy Farmers of America was still second, with $19.3 billion in revenues.

“While the companies and rankings change each year, the cooperative sector continues to advance, playing an increasingly influential role in the national and global economy,” noted Arlington, Va.-based NCB. “Released annually in October during National Co-op Month, the ‘NCB Co-op 100’ is just one way the bank strives to educate and promote the importance of this sector.”

The “NCB Co-op 100” is the only annual report of its kind to track the profits and successes of cooperative businesses in the U.S.  

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp., consisting of close to 50 members that independently own and operate 360-plus supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners in the northeastern United States, is No. 25 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 listing of North America’s top food and consumables retailers in North America. Kansas City, Kan.-based AWG, the nation’s largest cooperative food wholesaler to independently owned supermarkets, serving more than 1,100 member companies and 3,100 locations in 28 states from eight full-line wholesale divisions, is No. 35 on PG’s list.


Alaska Closes Winter Snow Crab Season for 1st Time

Snow Crab

Following a tough seafood month in September, the segment has received another blow to potential sales. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has, for the first time in state history, canceled the winter snow crab season in the Bering Sea because crab stock is estimated to be below the regulatory threshold.

The closure reflects conservation concerns, as state officials say an estimated 1 billion crabs have mysteriously disappeared in two years, marking a 90% drop in their population.

As reported by CBS News, ADF&G researcher Ben Daly is investigating where the crabs have gone. Daly monitors the health of the state's fisheries, which produce 60% of the nation's seafood. He cites climate change as a possibility. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Alaska is the fastest-warming state in the country, and is losing billions of tons of ice each year — critical for snow crabs, which need cold water to survive. 

In a press release issued on Oct. 10, the ADF&G noted: "Management of Bering Sea snow crab must now focus on conservation and rebuilding, given the condition of the stock. Efforts to advance our science and understanding of crab population dynamics are underway. With crab industry input, ADF&G will continue to evaluate options for rebuilding, including potential for sustainably fishing during periods of low abundance. This will allow ADF&G to work on issues related to state and federal co-management, observer coverage, discard mortality and fishery viability."

Gabriel Prout, whose Kodiak Island fishing business relies heavily on the snow crab population, told CBS News that there needs to be a relief program for fishermen, similar to programs for farmers who experience crop failure, or for communities affected by hurricanes or flooding.