The board of directors of Equitable Foods Initiative (EFI), a multi-stakeholder nonprofit workforce development and certification organization that partners with growers, farm workers, retailers and consumer groups, has added Pete Donlon as a new board member. Donlon, VP of Gonzales, Calif.-based produce company Misionero, will fill the seat recently vacated by Vic Smith, of Yuma, Ariz.-based JV Smith Cos. The EFI board includes balanced representation from each part of the fresh produce supply chain.
“Pete is the perfect person to represent grower-shippers on the board of directors,” said Peter O’Driscoll, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based EFI. “He has helped shape the EFI program as a member of the standards committee and an early adopter of our certification. We are thrilled to welcome Pete and know he will be a great asset, ensuring the EFI program remains relevant and adds value for growers.”
Before joining Misionero in 2015, Donlon spent 26 years at Salinas, Calif.-based Earthbound Farm, where his relationship with EFI began. He has been on the EFI Standards Committee since 2018 and helped Misionero achieve EFI certifications at two of its packing facilities.
“I’m a longtime champion of the ideals set forth by EFI and believe that it sets new levels of assurance for the industry,” noted Donlon, adding that “like Misionero, EFI sees social responsibility and transparency as true value propositions, and I’m honored to serve on its board.”
EFI works with 25 grower-shipper companies on 72 farms, with 51 certifications completed and 21 more in progress. Through the EFI certification program, 4,000 farm workers and managers have been trained in problem-solving and communications practices to improve labor, food safety and pest management standards for operations employing 58,000-plus workers.
The tough retail road that many retailers have been riding includes a new speed bump for Costco Wholesale Corp. In its latest financial report released this week, the company indicated a gain in monthly and year-over-year (YoY) sales, but the growth pace has slowed compared to the rest of 2022 and the numbers fell a bit short of analysts’ expectations.
For the four retail weeks ending Nov. 27, net sales increased 5.7% on a YoY basis to reach $19.17 billion but the pace was slower than the 15.7% YoY rate reported in 2021. Comps also slowed, as sales at Costco clubs in November grew 6% in the U.S. and 4.3% globally in November, compared to 9.2% and 6% in October and 11.2% and 8.5% in September. E-commerce sales were in negative territory, down 10.1% for the month that included Black Friday.
In a financial call, assistant VP of finance and investor relations Josh Dahmen reported that that the U.S. regions with the strongest comp sales were the Midwest, Northwest and San Diego. Gains in food and sundries were in the low double digits, while fresh foods were up in the mid-single digits. Bakery and produce did well in November, while electronics and jewelry were underperforming departments, according to Dahmen.
Dahmen also shared that inflation in food and sundries last month was consistent with October’s pace of higher prices. Inflation in fresh was slightly higher when compared to November 2021, he added.
Aldi is making spirits bright at its stores through price cuts and giveaways. During the biggest shopping season of the year, the discount retailer announced more deals for its customers as they balance inflation with gift giving and holiday celebrations.
Aldi is cutting prices on several top-selling items through the end of December, including bagels, bacon, biscuits, cheese, cured meats, pretzels and other popular products. “We realize that expenses add up quickly during the holidays, especially when you’re hosting overnight guests or multiple gatherings,” said Scott Patton, Aldi’s VP of national buying. “With entertaining needs right around the corner, we reduced prices on foods that are great for pulling together an easy breakfast or charcuterie board to hold friends and family over before the big meal. We want our shoppers to know we are focused on giving them the best possible prices so they can worry less about their grocery bills and focus more on spending time with their loved ones.”
Aldi is also spreading holiday cheer by giving away nearly 1,200 free gift cards in some of its curbside orders on a random basis. Lucky shoppers will receive a gift card that’s tucked into a holiday gnome.
The retailer is going big on this year’s season in other ways, unveiling nearly 1,200 limited-time holiday-themed items earlier this fall. The retailer is also introducing new Aldi Finds products regularly in the run-up to Christmas and other winter occasions.
Additionally, inspired by the Spotify Wrapped playlists that sum up listeners’ favorite music, Aldi shared its product-based 2022 Wrapped list. Coming in first on the list of Aldi Finds: Aldi’s signature gnomes, followed by the food market, pet hats, three-piece patio set and a sparkle dress. Another list on fan favorites included Atlantic salmon, fresh strawberries and organic extra-virgin olive oil, among other goods.
Aldi is one of America’s fastest-growing retailers, serving millions of customers across the country each month. With 2,200 stores across 38 states, the company is on track to become the third-largest grocery retailer by store count by the end of 2022. Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi U.S. employs 45,000-plus associates and is No. 24 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
Associated Food Stores Taps Mesmerize for Pharmacy Digital Displays
Independent cooperatively owned grocery wholesaler Associated Food Stores is installing digital displays from Mesmerize, an out-of-home media company specializing in patient education at the point of care, in 40 stores owned and operated by the co-op under the Macey’s, Lin’s and Fresh Market banners.
Prominently placed in the waiting and pickup/drop-off areas of each store’s pharmacy, Mesmerize’s digital displays will feature editorial and educational content, including information on general health and wellness, symptoms, disease states, and treatment options. Associated Food Stores will have access to Mesmerize’s full-service digital signage studio and collaborate with the company on custom messaging to educate customers about clinical services available at the stores’ pharmacies.
“Associated Food Stores is committed to supporting the communities we serve through more than groceries,” noted Denise Kunkel, Rx clinical programs manager at Salt Lake City-based Associated Food Stores. “We look forward to working with Mesmerize to connect our customers with valuable health-and-wellness education and access to resources.”
Added Ian Stone, SVP of business development at New York-based Mesmerize: “As a progressive pharmacy retailer, Associated Food Stores is ahead of the curve with their clinical services and programs that they offer to their pharmacy customers. We look forward to enhancing their stores with targeted custom content and patient education about services such as test and treat and vaccines to enhance the patient experience and drive sales.”
Healthy snack maker Crispy Green, Inc. is welcoming a new COO. The Fairfield, N.J.-based freeze-dried fruit company announced that Eric Shellenback is taking on the COO role in which he will manage the day-to-day business and report to founder and CEO Angela Liu.
He brings with him more than 25 years of experience in the CPG industry, including stints at The Quaker Oats Co., Nestlé, Preferred Meals and Häagen-Dazs retail, where he was divisional president. He also co-owned a small bakery company, purchasing it in 2010, growing it and selling it to a PE group in 2020.
“Eric’s wealth of knowledge in the food business, particularly in sales and marketing, his leadership skills, and his experience in growing a company of similar size to Crispy Green, is exactly what we need at this time. We couldn’t have found a more ideal candidate for the position of COO for Crispy Green,” Liu remarked.
Shellenback, who earned an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said he is looking forward to working in the better-for-you space. “During my career I have had the privilege of working with top consumer goods companies and brands, but Crispy Green has given me the opportunity to work with natural, good for you products that I truly feel passionate about. Angela has built a successful business with a great company culture. I’m honored that Angela has the trust in me to hand me the COO position and to help her take the company to the next level," he declared.
Partnership Bolsters Privacy-Compliant Data for Alcohol Ads
New advertising technology is emerging to help CPG brands gain more insights on their beer, wine and spirits customers. Ad tech company AdAdaptedis teaming up with global media measurement and analytics company Comscore to provide privacy-compliant mobile audience behavior data.
Compliance is important in the category, given legal drinking age (LDA) parameters for alcohol advertising. The Distilled Spirit Council sets the industry standards for adult beverage advertisers, requiring that at least 71.6% of an advertiser’s audience to be reasonably expected to be of legal age to purchase alcohol.
The new capability allows AdAdapted to discover and analyze more shopper data that drives purchase intent and provides LDA scoring of its ad network, according to the company. “At AdAdapted, we are always continuing to invest in capabilities to better serve our growing customer base,” said Molly McFarland, co-founder and CRO, AdAdapted. “Our partnership with Comscore makes it easier than ever for alcohol advertisers to trust and rely on our platform as a partner of choice, effectively getting their brands onto lists and into carts.”
Added Tania Yuki, chief marketing officer at Comscore: “As marketers in the alcohol industry continue to lean in towards dependable, cookie-free solutions, it is more important than ever to find innovative ways to grow. We are excited to partner with AdAdapted in verifying its audiences to further ensure that marketers can spend with confidence.”