News Briefs


GrubMarket Acquires Specialty Produce Company

GrubMarket Expands Ops to Pennsylvania, Georgia With New Acquisition

GrubMarket has grabbed another food business. The San Francisco-based food technology company announced that it is acquiring produce distributor and wholesaler Rainfield Marketing Group of Vernon, Calif. As GrubMarket expands its supply chain e-commerce reach, it will leverage the acquisition to offer more exotic fresh produce, including Asian specialty items.

Rainfield procures its fruits and vegetables from suppliers across the U.S., Mexico and Korea, among other global locations. The company sells items like Okinawa sweet potato and enoki mushrooms to major grocery retailers as well as foodservice operators and wholesale companies.

[Read more: "GrubMarket Acquires IOT Pay"]

In turn, Rainfield Marketing Group will use GrubMarket's software suite to improve its financial management, sales and ordering, inventory management, lot traceability and automated routing and logistics, among other functions.

Rainfield owner Richard Choe said that the move benefits both companies and their respective customers. “We are thrilled to join the GrubMarket team, who shares our goals and embodies the qualities needed to build a thriving food business. We are also excited to access GrubMarket's impressive grower network and leverage their e-commerce and technology-enabled platform to continue bringing high-quality fresh produce and specialty items to GrubMarket's end customers," he remarked.

Added Mike Xu, GrubMarket’s CEO: "Richard and his team have done a wonderful job scaling the company to double-digit, year-over-year revenue growth while maintaining a sterling reputation in food safety, having received most of the top food safety certifications. This acquisition enables GrubMarket to further strengthen our presence in California and expand our global sourcing power."


FMI to Host Food Retail Tech Startup Pitch Competition

FMItech Midwinter Teaser

FMI – The Food Industry Association will hold the FMItech Pitch Competition to turn the spotlight on food retail technology startup solutions. After contestants provide a three-minute video to be reviewed by the FMItech at Midwinter Advisory Council, six top-scoring startups will compete for first place at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, in Orlando, Fla., presenting their solutions to industry leaders and a panel of judges.  

“Retailers were accelerating their investments across a wide range of technologies even before the pandemic began – and many of those initiatives paid off by enhancing overall capabilities,” said Doug Baker, VP, industry relations at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “Technology solutions are warranted, as 83% of our members expect their technology expenses to increase this year, with nearly one-third citing significant increases.”

In their pitches, startups will share their expertise in such areas as process automation and robotics; AI-targeted loyalty and shopper behavior monitoring; digital receipts; and coupons, all with the aim of helping retailers achieve business outcomes and meet consumer expectations. 

“This competition aligns with our members’ needs for creating operational and financial efficiencies in addition to enhancing the grocery shopping experience for their consumers,” noted Baker.

The 2023 FMItech Pitch Competition is open for submissions through Nov. 7. Eligible companies with less than $3 million in funding must provide a three-minute video pitch for the judges. Ultimately, six finalist companies will receive one FMI Midwinter registration, one FMItech private meeting tabletop and a five-minute speaking slot at FMItech. 


Walmart’s New Platform Helps Creators Share Content

Walmart Creator teaser

Walmart Inc. is partnering directly with social media creators to make it easy for them to monetize shoppable products from the retailer. The Walmart Creator platform will give users access to tens of thousands of products and they can earn revenue and commissions on sales they refer with no cap.

Platform users can share product links to any social platform or group, receive product recommendations based on interests and collect performance data to help grow their following. According to Walmart, the program expands its commitment to social commerce by further enabling shoppers to move from inspiration and purchase.

“We know our customers are inspired by the content and stories they see from their favorite influencers in their social feeds every day,” said William White, chief marketing officer for Walmart U.S. “This next step in our strategy will help fuel inspiration for our customers by connecting their favorite creators directly with our brand and the brands they love at Walmart.”

Walmart Creator is being launched in beta ahead of the holiday season, and will launch fully next year. The retailer plans to rapidly evolve and iterate the platform over time in an effort to build features and experiences that make it easy for creators to create and publish content.

Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


FreshRealm Hires Amazon Pro to Expand Fresh Meals Business

Rob Law

Reflecting the growth and potential of the fresh meals category, meal solution provider FreshRealm has created and filled a new position of chief strategy officer. The company revealed that Amazon vet Rob Law will serve in that role, spearheading design and expansion plans and overseeing product innovation across private label and branded fresh meal solutions.

As he steers FreshRealm’s strategy, Law will leverage his background in channel development, product marketing and platform development. In his most recent role at Amazon, he helped lead the e-tailer’s home meal replacement business unit and build Amazon Kitchen’s fresh meals business. Law also was a core member of strategic teams at Starbucks Coffee and Brooks Running.

"Rob is a transformative leader with a track record that proves an unparalleled ability to create offerings that disrupt the status quo and meet untapped consumer demand," said Michael Lippold, FreshRealm’s founder and CEO. "The fresh and prepared meals category is undergoing astounding growth, and, with the appointment of Rob to our leadership team, FreshRealm continues to be best-positioned to help retailers create Fresh Meals destinations based on what consumers want today."

Law, for his part, said that he is looking forward to help expand FreshRealm’s business of providing end-to-end fresh meal retail solutions. "Not only is the fresh meals category seeing tremendous expansion, but FreshRealm itself is also experiencing incredible momentum as an organization, making it a thrilling time to join this industry-leading team," he remarked.  

Founded in 2013 in Ventura, Calif., FreshRealm is in a strong position for expansion, recently completing a $200 million round of capital funding.


Axonify, Achievers Bring Advanced Rewards to Front-Line Workers

Grocery Cashier Teaser

Axonify, a leader in front-line employee training and communications, has formed a strategic relationship with Achievers, an employee experience software platform. This strategic relationship will expand Axonify's existing digital offerings for mutual customers and strengthen the overall front-line employee experience.

According to Axonify research, nearly 42% of front-line workers are prepared to leave their current jobs. While higher compensation is certainly a factor in their willingness to stay, front-line workers are also looking for more on-the-job appreciation and training and skills development opportunities if they're going to grow with a company. 

[Watch video: "Closing the Skills Gap in Grocery"]

Through this strategic relationship, mutual customers of Axonify and Achievers' will have an easier way for employees to access their rewards and receive recognition for their achievements. Accomplishments earned from training and learning in Axonify can be transferred to the Achievers platform, where employees can either select their reward from Achievers' reward catalog or keep collecting points. This real-time recognition using the Achievers' platform will empower employees to continue developing their skills for the future, which in turn, improves employee retention, revenue and the customer experience. 

"With so many overlapping customers in the retail and grocery sectors, it was only natural that we establish a relationship with Axonify," said Jeff Cates, Achievers' CEO and president. "We look forward to working together to deliver a more robust rewards experience to this highly engaged customer base and offer the Achievers Employee Experience Platform to front-line workers."

"Front-line businesses are currently stuck in a vicious cycle, experiencing high levels of employee turnover with a limited pool of talent to tap into. With no relief in sight as we enter the crucial holiday shopping months, these businesses can ill-afford to lose more of their current workforce," added Carol Leaman, CEO and co-founder of Ontario, Canada-based Axonify. "In partnering with Achievers, we're able to provide an ecosystem that creates a better work experience, offers a breadth of rewards and recognition and keeps front-line workers better trained, which will lead to longer-term employee retention and a less stressful holiday season."


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.”