News Briefs


West Liberty Foods to Close Iowa Facility

West Liberty Foods Logo Teaser

Protein processor West Liberty Foods has revealed its intention to close its Mount Pleasant, Iowa, facility, effective May 7, 2023. The plant closing will affect about 350 team employees.

“Respect and care for people is a core value of our company, and shutting down a plant is a tough thing to do,” said Brandon Achen, president and CEO of West Liberty Foods, which is based in West Liberty, Iowa. “Although we are taking steps to lessen the impact on our team members, we will be eliminating the jobs of some exceptional people through no fault of their own. I want each of them to know that we value their contributions and deeply regret the need for this action.”

[Read more: "Sausage and Ham Brands Innovate Pork Category"]

The company aims to help affected workers through such efforts as offers to work at one of the company’s other plants, relocation and transportation services, stay bonuses, severance pay, re-employment services, and assistance with filing unemployment claims.

The Mount Pleasant facility opened in 2003 with its patented Clean Room Food Processing Systems, making it the first food-manufacturing facility in the nation to feature this technology. Since its opening, the facility has produced hundreds of millions of pounds of sliced deli meats for a range of customers in the foodservice and retail segments. A recent shift in the types of products and capabilities needed to support customers has resulted in a dramatic reduction in pre-sliced deli meats, however, necessitating the plant’s closure.

The shutdown will occur in two phases: The first round of reductions will occur on Dec. 31, 2022, with all operations ceasing in May of next year. The company plans to move and consolidate existing operations from the Mount Pleasant facility to remaining facilities in Iowa, Illinois and Utah.


Target to Carry Marks & Spencer Holiday Items

Target Marks & Spencer Santa’s Magical Light Up Chocolate Workshop Teaser

Starting in mid-November, Target Corp. is teaming up with Marks & Spencer to offer a curated assortment of the renowned U.K. retailer’s most popular food and beverage products to Target customers for the first time ever. The limited-time partnership offers highly giftable, on-trend products at value prices. 

Suitable for holiday gift giving and entertaining, the seasonal assortment will consist of 15 food and beverage items, spanning luxury caramels and chocolates to biscuits and teas, sold in interactive packaging. Highlights of the collection include Santa’s Magical Light Up Chocolate Workshop (pictured), Shortbread Biscuit Light-Up Lantern, Gingerbread Musical House Tin, Shortbread Biscuit Bus Tin.Prices begin at $9.99, with the majority of M&S products priced below $14.99. 

The assortment will be available through the 2022 holiday season at most Target stores, on and through the company’s same-day services: Drive Up, Pick Up and Same-Day Delivery with Shipt. 

“One of the things that differentiates Target is the way we make style affordable and accessible for all, and this partnership is the latest example of us building on that legacy in food and beverage," noted Rick Gomez, Target’s EVP and chief food and beverage officer. “By joining forces with an iconic brand like Marks & Spencer, we’re bringing our guests amazing products and giving them another reason to turn to Target for the moments of joy that make the holidays special.” 

Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations.


Wegmans Readies Virginia Location

Wegmans Burger Bar

It will be a happy new year for Wegmans fans in Virginia, as the grocer announced that its Reston location will officially welcome shoppers on Feb. 1. Located at the intersection of Reston Parkway and Sunrise Valley Drive in a mixed-use development, the 85,000-square-foot store will carry a wide range of products and include an in-store coffee shop, Market Café and Burger Bar offering burgers, sandwiches, salads, milkshakes and other menu items. This is Wegmans 15th store in the commonwealth of Virginia.

The retailer is gearing up for the early 2023 opening with a major hiring event on Nov. 8 at The Edmund apartments above the site of the Reston store. More than 200 positions are open, and potential Wegmans team members can apply online before the event.

“While our opening is still a few months away, we have already met many great applicants and are excited to continue building our team,” said Reston Store Manager Katie Sullivan. “Wegmans is known for being one of the best places to work because we offer opportunities for advancement, flexible scheduling, and competitive pay and benefits packages.”

As it prepares to staff the Reston store, Wegmans is also hiring for at least 585 full- and part-time positions for its locations in Virginia and Washington, D.C. A virtual hiring event is slated for Nov. 1 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ahead of the hiring blitz, Wegmans is touting its competitive salary and benefits, in addition to sign-on bonuses and an employee scholarship program. The retailer also pointed out it promotes from within and will be seeking to fill roles at other upcoming new stores in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, New York City, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.

Family-owned Wegmans operates more than 100 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts. The Rochester, N.Y.-based company is No. 34 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Erewhon Offers Composting Appliance on Shelves

Lomi Digital Flyer Teaser

Erewhon Markets is now selling a composting appliance from Lomi at all eight of the independent organic grocery store chain’s locations.

The $499.99 product is user-friendly and fits on kitchen countertops, providing a convenient solution to recent California mandates that all food waste must be composted by the end of 2024.

“Erewhon has celebrated the amazing benefits of naturally grown foods and the importance of preserving the earth for more than 50 years and continues to lead the way in conscious consumption today,” noted Vito Antoci, Erewhon’s EVP. “When we were introduced to Lomi, there was no doubt that their commitment to eliminating food waste from the planet aligned with our stores’ mission and our customers’ needs.”

Launched in 2021, Lomi’s product is already in more than 100,000 households nationwide.

“At Lomi, we are always searching for like-minded partners who care about the planet,” said Matt Bertulli, founder and CEO of Kelowna, British Columbia-based Lomi, which aims to eliminate 10 billion pounds of waste from the global waste stream. “As composting laws swiftly come to fruition in California and other states, we are elated to bring the Erewhon community a product like Lomi that provides a fun and easy way to compost. It is a win-win partnership for all, especially for the planet.”

A certified B Corporation like Erewhon, Lomi is backed by prominent investors such as Jay Z and Jay Brown and will reveal its Series B funding round later this month.

Erewhon is an independent family-owned market with eight locations across Los Angeles: Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Fairfax/West Hollywood, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Silver Lake, Studio City and Venice


H-E-B Location to Anchor Mixed-Use Community Near Houston

H-E-B Teaser Sign

An H-E-B store will be part of a new master planned community northwest of Houston. According to real estate owner and developer the Howard Hughes Corp., the grocery store will anchor the Village Green at Bridgeland Central in Bridgeland, within the city of Cypress, Texas.

H-E-B will serve the nearly 70,000 future residents of the Bridgeland community, along with those who live in the greater northwest Houston area. The 100,000-square-foot store will include H-E-B’s typical offerings and also feature a pharmacy, fuel station and curbside pickup and delivery services.

[Read more: "H-E-B to Open Location in Fort Worth"]

"Our Houston region remains a priority for H-E-B, and we continue to make significant investments expanding our footprint to serve all of our neighbors," said Armando Perez, EVP, H-E-B Houston. "We are excited to bring a store to the Bridgeland community to meet the needs of this growing area."

The H-E-B in Bridgeland will be built next year and is expected to open in 2024. Several H-E-B stores are under construction right now in Texas, including at least four stores in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.

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.


Walmart Reveals 2022 Sustainable Packaging Innovation Award Winners

Packaging Teaser

Walmart has joined the U.S. Plastics Pact at GreenBiz’s VERGE 2022 conference, held Oct. 25-17 in San Jose, Calif., to reveal the inaugural slate of Sustainable Packaging Innovations Award winners. The retailer donated the use of its recently launched Circular Connector platform to help capture innovations for the awards. The honorees cover four categories – recycling, reuse, composting and reduction – with each winner spotlighting scalability, low-cost efficiencies or a customer-first proposal.

The winners are Smile Compostable Solutions, for Compostability; Amcor, for Recyclability; The Clorox Co., for Refill; and Deliver Zero. for Reuse.

In phase one of the Circular Connector launch this past April, innovators could submit their solutions for Walmart’s consideration. “Solutions are screened against Walmart’s Sustainable Packaging goals, and those that are aligned featured in the Connector,” noted Ashley C. Hall, director, strategic programs at Walmart, in a recent blog post. “Last week, we made the Circulate Connector available for free to everyone via Walmart’s Sustainability Hub. And now, nearly 150 solutions are publicly available on the Circular Connector.” 

Added Hall: “Our hope with making Circular Connector open source is that it propels companies to move faster to make design changes that will help create a circular economy for plastics, even our direct competitors. Sustainable packaging changes can’t happen in a silo and require lifecycle thinking. Today, we still have packages that can cause confusion for customers.”

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.