News Briefs


Major CPG Execs Join N!CK’S Board

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Dessert and snack brand N!CK’S has brought on a trio of high-level executives to help foster its expansion and future. The three new board members are independent industry experts who will contribute to the brand’s goal of empowering people to make better food choices while simultaneously indulging their cravings.

Founded in Sweden with U.S. offices in Los Angeles, N!CK'S is a food tech innovator that produces Swedish-style light ice cream and better-for-you snacks using a proprietary blend of sweeteners and exclusive patent-protected ingredients. The company raised $100 million in Series C funding last year.

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The new board members include the following professionals:

• Henry Karamanoukian most recently served as president of digital commerce, global and president of go-to-market operations for China at Procter & Gamble before retiring from the company in 2021. A 34-year P&G team member, he held leadership roles in several of P&G’s major markets across North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He currently shares his knowledge as a senior advisor for The Boston Consulting Group.

• Rebecca Messina was Uber's first global chief marketing officer. She also served as CMO at spirits company Beam Suntory and spent 22 years in marketing at The Coca-Cola Co. across several roles in North America, Europe, Australia and South America. Today, she is an advisor for McKinsey & Co. and serves on the Vive Organics, Outdoor Voices and Zico Coconut Water board.

• Rob Bellezza is the current COO at Curio Wellness. Before Curio, he held a variety of key supply roles at Unilever for 24 years, including stints as head of operations and manufacturing at Ben & Jerry's and the head of M&A integration at Unilever in North America.

"We are very excited to welcome Henry Karamanoukian, Rebecca Messina and Rob Bellezza to the board, who have already proven their impressive leadership skills that will help profitably grow our company," said Stefan Lagerqvist, CEO of N!CK'S. "As independent industry experts, each unique in their way, the entire team at N!CK'S is proud to have attracted this exceptional talent to the board, and we will only grow from here."


Save Mart Rings in Holidays With Food Drive


The Save Mart Cos. is kicking off its holiday food drive. Starting Wed., Nov. 9, shoppers at Save Mart, Lucky and FoodMaxx banners in California and northern Nevada can take part in a register campaign benefiting area food banks.

The “Friends Feeding Friends” drive will continue through the end of the holiday season on Dec. 31. At checkout, participating customers can choose a bag worth $15 or $25 to be filled with grocery essentials. The tax-deductible contribution will be included on the receipt.

According to the food retailer, 100% of all donations will go toward area food relief efforts. “Our community food banks and local food pantries serve thousands of families and individuals in our neighborhoods each month and this holiday season we want to help end hunger close to home,” said Donovan Ford, SVP retail operations at The Save Mart Cos. “The compassionate support from our shoppers will go a long way to toward supporting our friends and neighbors during the holidays who are struggling with hunger and any difficulty with feeding their families.”

Based in Modesto, Calif., The Save Mart Cos. operates more than 200 retail stores under the banners of Save Mart, Lucky California and FoodMaxx. In addition to its retail operation, the company also operates SMART Refrigerated Transport and is a partner in Super Store Industries, which owns and operates a distribution center in Lathrop, Calif., and the Sunnyside Farms dairy-processing plant in Turlock, Calif. Save Mart is No. 55 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


FMI Foundation Reveals Food Safety Auditing Scholarship Recipients

FMI SQFI Scholarship Christina Wormald-Allingham Teaser

The FMI Foundation, together with The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI), a division of FMI – The Food Industry Association, has revealed the 15 recipients of the 2022 Food Safety Auditing Scholarship. The $3,000 scholarship comes with an educational travel grant to the SQF Unites Global Conference. Students currently enrolled in food and agricultural science programs were eligible to apply for the scholarship and education travel grant.

“A career in food safety auditing is a noble endeavor, and those committed to such critical work deserve to be celebrated,” said David Fikes, executive director of the Arlington, Va.-based foundation. “Out of 64 impressive applicants, 15 received this year’s scholarship, based on their outstanding academic ability, leadership potential and passion for the auditing profession. The FMI Foundation is proud to support these essential scholars and applauds their commitment to maximize public health through a safe and secure food supply chain.” 

The recipients are as follows:

• Aishwarya Vengatesan, Rutgers University
• Amrit Pal, University of Georgia
• Aryany Leticia Pena Gomez, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
• Bhaswati Chowdhury, South Dakota State University
• Camryn Grace Cook, Virginia Tech
• Christina Lynn Wormald-Allingham, University of Massachusetts, Amherst (pictured)
• Cyril Nsom Ayuk Etaka, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
• Julysa Abril Benitez, Texas A&M University
• Kenisha Odessa Gordon, Mississippi State University
• LaTaunya Tillman, University of Florida
• Amalia Beary, Cornell University
• Marisa Lee Bacon, Michigan State University
• Supriya Daulatrao Korade, Illinois Institute of Technology
• Surabhi Wason, University of Arkansas
• Zonia Elizabeth Caro Carvajal, Mississippi State University

“The specialized contributions of food safety auditors are the foundation for trust between consumers and the food industry,” noted Gigi Vita, SQFI chief food safety assessment officer and SVP. “This year’s scholarship recipients will fortify that trust by helping to prevent foodborne illnesses and enhance food security for the next generation of consumers."


NGA Bolsters Advocacy Team

NGA Ryan Cagney John Richard New Hires

The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade organization representing the independent supermarket industry, has added two new members to its advocacy team: John Richard in the role of senior manager of government relations and policy analysis, and Ryan Cagney in the position of manager of political affairs and fundraising.

Richard (at left in photo) has joined NGA from the Aluminum Association, where, as a policy analytics associate, he worked on such policy issues as trade, recycling, workforce, energy and supply chains. Before that, Richard worked at the National Restaurant Association, using data analytics to drive success with state partners, and as an intern for U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz.

Cagney (at right in photo) was previously a Houston-based political consultant, working on grass-roots campaigns for various issues and candidates, as well as a government affairs advisor for the Houston Professional Firefighter Association and the Texas Cigar Merchants Association. Cagney also worked on the campaigns of U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

“John and Ryan bring a wealth of experience to NGA in policymaking, political affairs and grass-roots campaigns,” noted Chris Jones, SVP of government relations and counsel at Washington, D.C.-based NGA. “Their skills will be an asset to independent community grocers as they work to advance NGA’s policy initiatives on behalf of the industry.”

In other NGA people news, Eric Payne, a member of the association’s marketing and communications team for the past four years, has been promoted to the role of senior manager of communications. Payne’s key duties include administering the association’s member newsletters, scheduling all online content and coordinating NGA’s social media activities.

“Eric is an integral part of NGA’s communications team who continues to pursue new and better ways to enhance our member outreach and communications,” said Laura Strange, SVP of communications and external affairs at the organization.


Costco Net Sales Slip in October

Frozen, Fresh Foods Lift Costco Comps in January

Costco Wholesale Corp. has reported net sales of $17.73 billion for the retail month of October, the four weeks ended Oct. 30. While this is an increase of 7.7% from $16.47 billion last year, it’s a drop from  September 2022’s $21.46 billion.

The company is still showing solid momentum, however, as evidenced by the nine weeks ended Oct. 30. During this time, Costco reported net sales of $39.19 billion, an increase of 9.0% from $35.97 billion last year.

Meanwhile, comparable sales, excluding the impacts from changes in gasoline prices and foreign exchange, for the retail month of October increased 6.1% in the United States and 8.8% in Canada. E-commerce comparable sales also rose 1.6%.

Last month,  Costco revealed that its board of directors had declared a quarterly cash dividend on Costco common stock of 90 cents per share. The quarterly dividend is payable on Nov. 10 to shareholders of record.

The club store chain released its fourth-quarter and fiscal year results in September. Net sales increased 15.2% for the quarter ending Aug. 28 and, on a 52-week basis, rose 16% to reach $222.73 billion. This was largely in line with Wall Street expectations.

Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco has more than 570 locations in the United States and is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. The company was also named one of PG’s Retailers of the Century.  


Indie Grocer GW's Tiger Market Comes to Illinois' Edgar County

Paris IL

A new independent grocer is providing relief to a food desert in a community about 165 miles south of Chicago and 90 miles west of Indianapolis. Filling a shuttered Save A Lot site, GW’s Tiger Market opened this month in Paris, Ill.

Spanning about 5,700 square feet, GW’s Tiger Market at 302 W. Jasper Street is owned by area residents Kodie Girton and Randy Winkler. According to social media information, the store carries a variety of fresh and frozen products, along with locally-sourced goods like farm fresh eggs.

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The owners, who have run a meat processing business called GW's Edgar County Locker for years, specialize in meats. Locally produced meats, such as bison, are available at the new grocery store, too.

Girton and Winkler told a local media outlet that the timing was right for a needed business in the community. "We only have Walmart here, and there are no other grocery stores within 30 miles of us. Everybody has to travel during the winter, and it's not that safe. We just felt like we needed another option here, and we've heard it a lot in the community. With us owning a butcher shop here in town, it seemed to make more sense for us to expand and help the community the best we could,” the owners said.

GW's Tiger Market is open seven days a week.