News Briefs


Consumers Will Keep It Close to Home in ’23

FreshDirect Bag Teaser

’Tis the season for predictions for the coming year, and online grocer FreshDirect is out with its take on 2023 food trends. The Ahold Delhaize-owned company shared its outlook on consumer behaviors in what has shaped up to be a transformative decade.

Some of the effects of the pandemic are lingering, according to FreshDirect, including the cook-at-home lifestyle. The digital grocer projects that DIY at home will be big, propelled by mini-trends like charcuterie-inspired boards for everything from butter to dessert, and people’s desire to entertain others at home.

Likewise, the pull of nostalgia continues. FreshDirect pointed to the growing popularity of nostalgic novelty treats, like mini powdered doughnuts, coffee cakes and throwback cocktails.

The draw of sticking close to home extends to purchasing habits, too. FreshDirect noted that locally sourced products will be a hallmark of 2023, as consumers enjoy discovery as much as they want to support local economies in challenging times.

Such values-driven shopping – which began to accelerate in 2020 – is full steam ahead. According to the curators at FreshDirect, customers’ interest in transparency will influence more of their purchases from brands built on values that reflect commitments to communities, the environment and other causes.

Finally, as inflation took a lot of the spotlight in 2020 and seems set to remain at least somewhat elevated in 2023, FreshDirect noted that the recent shopper preference for private label will carry through the next 12 months. Not viewed by shoppers as generic, these private label products span fresh and shelf-stable and are chosen for both value and quality, FreshDirect pointed out. The company also said that it will expand the number of its private label offerings.

“Our extensive and long-standing relationships with farmers, fishermen, artisans and producers, combined with our proprietary data systems, enable us to determine the next wave of industry innovation and the latest in customer interests and needs. 2023 will usher in a new year of online grocery trends that underscores the ever-growing need for convenience, value and, most of all, the best in fresh quality,” said FreshDirect Chief Merchandising Officer Scott Crawford.

Bronx, N.Y.-based FreshDirect services the New York City metro area. Its parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Save A Lot Helping Customers Save Money Ahead of Christmas

Save A Lot deals teaser

Discount retailer Save A Lot is launching its 12 Deals of December program in an effort to help its customers save money on holiday staples. Deals will be available on a different item each day between Dec. 14 and Dec. 20, and six different daily items from Dec. 21 to Dec. 24. Customers can find and download coupons valid only at participating locations for all offers by visiting or checking their weekly ad.

Among the items included in the grocer’s discount program are butter, bacon, shredded cheese, chicken leg quarters, ground beef and russet potatoes. Coupons for the discounted items are available through and in weekly ads.

“We know everyone is looking [for] ways to save money anywhere they can right now,” said Tim Schroder, chief sales and marketing officer at Save A Lot. “Our 12 Deals of December brings hot deals on holiday must-have items.”

Save A Lot has more than 850 stores in 32 states. The Earth City, Mo.-based company is No. 60 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


OTA Snags Record Funding to Promote U.S. Organic Worldwide

Organic Food Section Teaser

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has received a record level of funding of more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program (MAP) to promote U.S. organic products globally in 2023. The award is an almost 10% increase from 2022, as well as the largest MAP award ever received by OTA. 

“The Organic Trade Association is proud to have been an official cooperator in USDA’s Market Access Program for more than 20 years, leading to huge wins for the organic industry,” said Sarah Gorman, international trade manager for Washington, D.C.-based OTA. “Our market promotion efforts have created opportunities that have generated millions of dollars in new sales and expanded global market access for our participating businesses, establishing new organic customers around the world.”   

According to Department of Agriculture statistics, the value of U.S. organic exports nearly doubled between 2011 and 2021, growing from around $400 million to a little more than $700 million, including an almost 10% increase from 2020 to 2021. Canada and Mexico are the United States’ largest export partners, with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the European Union and United Arab Emirates all making the top 10 list for U.S. organic exports.  

The association will highlight American-produced organic products to a global audience in the coming year at various international promotional events, among them Biofach, Food & Hotel Asia, and buyers’ missions at Natural Products Expo West, Natural Products Expo East and the Organic Produce Summit.

OTA represents more than 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants and retailers. 


Dollar General Hires 3 VPs

Dollar General Kokoska dela Cruz New Hires Teaser

Dollar General has revealed three new hires to take on leadership roles across the company.

Ariel dela Cruz (pictured right) has joined Dollar General as divisional VP of store operations, bringing more than 20 years of experience to the retailer, including expertise in continuous improvement and P&L management. In his new role, he will provide support across the company’s store operations network, with a focus on employee-centric initiatives.

Tim Jagneaux has come aboard as VP of construction, in which role he’ll provide leadership for the field construction teams responsible for new store openings, relocations and remodels. Jagneaux has more than 20 years of experience across various construction industries.

Megan Kokoska (pictured left) has been hired as VP of digital engagement, in which capacity she’ll work to personalize the digital experience and increase digital engagement with customers. Kokoska brings more than 20 years of digital marketing and communications experience to her latest position, including leadership of digital customer engagement, digital advertising, e-commerce, content marketing, digital product management, user experience and integrated marketing campaigns.

For its third quarter ended Oct. 28, Dollar General reported a strong performance, despite challenges within its internal supply chain and higher-than-anticipated costs. Year-over-year, the quarter brought a net sales increase of 11.1% to $9.5 billion, and a same-store sales increase of 6.8%. Operating profit rose 10.5% to $735.5 million, diluted EPS increased 12% to $2.33, and year-to-date cash flows from operations totaled $1.2 billion. 

Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General operated 18,818 stores in 47 states as of Oct. 28. The company is No. 15 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


McCormick Names New Chief HR Officer

Sara Piper Teaser

Legacy flavor company McCormick & Co., Inc. has promoted Sarah Piper to chief human resources officer. Piper was appointed to the top HR job from her most recent position as SVP, global human relations business partners.

She joined the Hunt Valley, Md.-based McCormick in 2008 as a human relations manager and moved up to roles of increasing responsibility and leadership, including director of human relations, VP of human relations for the consumer products division, VP of total rewards and VP of human relations for the Americas. Between 2014 and 2017, she worked outside of McCormick at H&R Block and Honeywell; during her career, she also held HR positions at Pfizer, Inc. and KPMG in the U.S and Canada.

[Read more: "100 Iconic Brands That Changed Grocery"]

As chief HR officer, Piper will develop and execute McCormick’s global people strategies. In addition to overseeing talent management, learning, total rewards, diversity, equity and inclusion, employee engagement and well-being and employee relations, she will serve on McCormick’s management committee and is a member of McCormick's global human relations senior leadership council.

Piper earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from York University and a master of professional studies in human resource management from Cornell University.


Afresh Honored for Achievements in Perishables

Rabobank awards

A tech-based system that helps grocers optimize perishables management while reducing waste has been recognized for its inventiveness. Global food and agribusiness financial institution Rabobank bestowed its Award for Emerging Leadership in Innovation to Afresh of San Francisco, Calif.

Afresh’s platform uses AI and machine learning to help grocers make informed inventory and demand decisions. By having the right mix of perishables at the right time based on demand, food retailers can also minimize waste and enhance freshness. According to Afresh, stores that use the solution can reduce shrink by more than 25% and have bolstered their topline revenue by 2%-4%. From a sustainability perspective, the company estimates that its technology has prevented 7.9 million pounds of food waste and saved 140 million gallons of water while cutting 3,800 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

"On behalf of the entire Afresh team, we're honored to be recognized by Rabobank for the Leadership in Innovation Award," said Afresh CEO Matt Schwartz. "We're on a mission to eliminate food waste and make fresh food accessible to all, and are excited to partner with grocery retailers like Albertsons Companies and Cub Foods that are embracing innovation in the fresh food supply chain."

At its recent North America Food & Agribusiness Summit in New York City, Rabobank announced other winners of its annual North America Leadership Awards, including global foodservice provider Aramark and Pivot Bio, a pioneer in microbial nitrogen fertilizer. "We're living through a challenging time that has shone a real spotlight on the food and agribusiness industry and its importance in creating a vibrant and safe food system for people around the world," said Paul Beiboer, CEO of Rabobank North America. 

In October, Progressive Grocer named Afresh a winner of one of its 2022 Impact Awards, which spotlight companies making a tangible difference. Afresh was recognized for its success in the areas of sustainability and resource conservation.