News Briefs


Nestlé Acquires Seattle’s Best Brand From Starbucks

Seattle's Best

Seattle's Best Coffee is getting a new owner. Coffee giant Starbucks is spinning off the brand to CPG behemoth Nestlé. Both companies are part of the Global Coffee Alliance formed in 2018 to bring more and better coffee products to market.

The Swiss company announced the acquisition this week, noting that it is part of Nestlé’s strategic focus on the coffee category. Nestlé already distributes Starbucks-brand packaged coffee as part of the Global Coffee Alliance and will add Seattle’s line of whole bean, roast and ground packaged coffee and K-cup pods. All together, Nestle will sell Seattle's Best, Starbucks and its own broad portfolio of coffee brands such as Nescafé, Nespresso and Blue Bottle.   

[Read more: "Sprouts Farmers Market to Debut New Coffee Concept in Phoenix"]

According to Starbucks, the sale will provide a more centralized coffee portfolio for retailers as well as foodservice operators. "We continue to deepen our partnership with Nestlé to deliver the best of the Starbucks experience to our customers in channels outside of our retail stores," explained Michael Conway, group president for Starbucks International and Channel Development. "We're confident that Nestlé will continue to grow the Seattle's Best Coffee brand as we focus on our strategy to elevate the premium coffee experience for consumers through the Starbucks brand."

David Rennie, head of Nestlé Coffee Brands, agreed. "Our partnership with Starbucks has confirmed Nestlé's leading position in the dynamic and growing global coffee market," he said. "With the well-known Seattle's Best Coffee brand, we will continue to build our leadership in coffee by offering consumers more choice for their everyday coffee."

Starbucks and Nestlé will continue to collaborate as part of the Alliance. The companies will focus on creating additional innovative products to bolster coffee brands and also expand the Starbucks brand on an international level.

The Seattle’s Best deal is expected to close by the end of this year, pending board and regulatory approval. Terms of the sale remain confidential.


Farm Boy to Open 9th Toronto Location

Farm Boy Teaser

Farm Boy, the fastest-growing fresh food retailer in the Canadian province of Ontario, will open its 45th location on Nov. 3 on St. Clair Avenue in Toronto.

The new 27,739-square-foot location will employ 139 associates and showcase Farm Boy’s more than 40 years of grocery retail experience. The new location will offer a large assortment of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables; a broad selection of Canadian pork, chicken and beef; and chef-prepared marinated-meat creations and meal ideas.

Farm Boy’s grocery and dairy department delivers a vast selection of items, including more than 1,600 private label products and a variety of sweet treats made in the Farm Boy Bake Shop. Customers can also look forward to chef-inspired dishes, hot meals, and a salad bar and hot bar for grab-and-go options.

“For over 40 years, the Farm Boy experience has been rooted in fresh, wholesome food, along with exceptional customer service,” said Shawn Linton, president and general manager of Farm Boy, an Empire Co. Ltd. banner. “We are thrilled to be opening a location for our loyal midtown Toronto customers who incorporate Farm Boy meals and products into their day-to-day lives.

“Over the years, we have received so much support from our Toronto customers. Torontonians have come to know and love from Farm Boy a wide variety of fresh and unique private label products,” continued Linton.

Farm Boy opened eight stores in 2021 and most recently debuted its first store in Barrie, Ontario, on March 31. The retailer currently has 44 stores across the province, with further expansion plans underway.

Stellarton, Nova Scotia-based Empire is No. 22 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Natural Grocers Reveals Shopper Picks for Best Store-Brand Products

Natural Grocers Best of the Best

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage went public to see what shoppers think of its private label products. The natural food retailer is out with the winners of its second “Best of the Best” customer survey, which polled consumers about their favorite store brand items.

Customers got to pick their favorites across several categories, including grocery staples, health products and fresh foods. This year’s winners include the following Natural Grocers branded products:

• Overall product (excluding bulk and supplement items): Organic Dark Chocolate Bar with Sea Salt
• Bulk product: Fresh-Ground Almond Butter
• Supplement: B 100 Complex
• New product: Organic extra virgin coconut oil

[Read more: "Natural Grocers Launches New Own-Brand Coconut Oil"]

In addition, Natural Grocers queried shoppers about their favorite fresh foods. The overwhelming fresh produce winner for the second year in a row: organic Hass avocados. For the favorite organic product in general, shoppers chose the retailer’s organic pasture-raised eggs.

"From our sales information, we know which products do well in stores, but this survey opens a direct conversation with our customers. That was how our first 'Best of the Best' customer survey originated — we wanted to hear directly from our communities,” said Raquel Isely, VP of marketing. "Last year we enjoyed the dialogue this survey encouraged so much, that we decided to make it an annual practice at the end of each fiscal year."

Founded in 1955, Natural Grocers currently operates 164 stores in 21 states. The company is No. 95 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


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.