In an effort to improve food access, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has unveiled a $2.5 million pilot program that provides funding for food retailers in New Jersey to purchase self-contained, temperature-controlled lockers and install them for food deliveries in the state’s food desert communities.
Through the use of refrigerated lockers, the Food Retail Innovation in Delivery Grant (FRIDG) program will help to increase the availability of nutritious food in food desert communities while assisting food retailers to adapt to new business models that can help sustain their businesses.
According to the NJEDA website, refrigerated locker units must be placed within a designated food desert community, and may be installed near local organizations, such as food banks and community centers that are convenient for residents of the community and a place where residents facing food insecurity may already access services. This model will also give these residents the ability to order online and have groceries delivered to a convenient central location without having to travel long distances to reach food retailers, as many residents without a nearby grocer are currently forced to do.
Grants will cover between 30% and 50% of the total project cost (inclusive of locker purchase, delivery and installation), up to $250,000.
The program is open to food retailers authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for online ordering.
Specialty Food Association to Recognize Indie as Outstanding Buyer
Six leaders in the specialty food world, including Dwight Richmond, director of center store at independent grocer Town & Country Markets, will be recognized by the Specialty Food Association (SFA) at the trade organization’s upcoming 2023 Winter Fancy Food Show. In recognition of their contributions to the specialty food industry, the honorees will receive their 2023 Leadership Awards during the show on Monday, Jan. 16, at 4 p.m.
Richmond will be recognized in the Outstanding Buyer category, which was added this year, along with Emerging Leader. Before coming to Town & Country, which operates six stores in Washington state, he worked at such retailers as Whole Foods Market, The Fresh Market, Earth Fare, and Dean & Deluca. Richmond also worked in distribution at KeHE and Cavallero Specialty Foods, and as a broker at CA Fortune.
The other Leadership Award honorees are as follows: • Sustainability: Mike Noonan, Bitchin’ Sauce • Citizenship: Luke Schneider, Fire Department Coffee • Vision: David Kemp, Village Gourmet/Les Trois Petits Cochons • Emerging Leader (tie): Dani Zuchovicki, The Hatchery; David Schmunk, African Dream Foods
“The specialty food industry is full of inspiring individuals advancing their businesses and making a difference in the world,” said Denise Purcell, VP, resource development for the New York-based SFA, which represents manufacturers, importers, retailers, distributors, brokers and others in the specialty food industry. “We expanded the scope of our Leadership Awards to recognize even more of these remarkable business leaders.”
Slated to take place Jan. 15-17, 2023, in Las Vegas, the 2023 Winter Fancy Food Show is the largest B2B-only specialty food and beverage show in the U.S.
Riteway Sales and Marketing, a Lakeland, Fla.-based food broker, has made changes to its leadership team. The company announced that Steve Critelli (pictured) has been promoted to president and longtime President Jim Hall is moving to the chairman and CEO position.
Critelli was elevated from his most recent role as EVP of sales and marketing. Hall, whose tenure at Riteway has spanned 40 years, will oversee an executive leadership team that also includes EVP Elisa Westlund and HR Director Deneice Jernigan.
“As part of our succession plan of the company we are elevating Steve to oversee the expansion and continued growth of our organization.” Hall remarked. “Steve has done a great job for us and has earned the new position.”
In other personnel news, Riteway shared that it has promoted Melissa Henderson to senior insights manager and Darlene McQueen to insights manager. Those moves reflect the expansion of the firm’s analytics and insights department, as Riteway reported that it has invested in the latest cloud-based tools to uncover brand trends and provide proprietary analysis to retailers and CPGs.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service proposed changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, otherwise known as WIC. Following the USDA’s recommendation to reduce benefits for milk and dairy purchases and allow for non-dairy substitutes, one dairy group is voicing its concern.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) shared results of a new survey showing that 20% of WIC participants would not re-enroll in the program if USDA cuts milk and dairy benefits. More than four in five (76%) program members said they are concerned with the proposal and 35% reported that they will have to use non-WIC funds to buy milk and dairy. The poll was conducted by Morning Consult between Dec. 14-16.
“Reducing WIC benefits for milk and dairy will make life harder for millions of women, new mothers, infants, and children at a challenging time of high food costs and rising food insecurity,” said Michael Dykes, D.V.M., IDFA’s president and CEO. “Moreover, USDA’s own proposal flies in the face of the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which says 90% of Americans are not consuming enough dairy to meet daily requirements. USDA must reverse course and find ways to improve program participation by encouraging the purchase of nutritious dairy products rather than penalizing low-income moms and families during tough economic conditions.”
IFDA’s research affirmed that most WIC participants use their benefits to buy items in this category, with 78% purchasing dairy products through the program. That compares to 75% of beneficiaries who buy fruits, 68% who buy vegetables, 67% who buy grains and 57% who buy protein.
Ultrafast delivery service Getir shared its rear-view look at 2022, highlighting top trends among users. Befitting a business built and defined by technology, Getir used AI-generated data to uncover purchasing habits.
The Turkish company, which delivers to U.S. customers in Chicago and New York, reported that health and wellness continued to be a purchase driver in a year that opened with another COVID-19 surge. According to Getir’s data, non-alcoholic beverages and fresh fruits and vegetables were leading categories and specific top items included bananas, apples and bottled water.
Getir’s information also underlined the influence of seasonality on rapid delivery sales. Orders picked up in the winter, when consumers didn’t venture out as much and purchases of soup, broth and ramen peaked. Likewise, during a hot summer across much of the world, ice cream purchases spiked. In the U.S., the cookie dough variety was most in demand, while tastes varied between refreshing citrus flavors and indulgent dessert flavors in other parts of the world.
Major holiday events that spurred upticks in sales included Valentine’s Day and the recent FIFA World Cup, according to Getir. Soccer fans bought more than their fair share of beer, as that segment topped wine and spirits during the World Cup time frame.
“Getir, first and foremost, is a technology company. With over seven years in business, our deep inventory of data and AI is consistently learning and allowing us to understand our customers and anticipate their needs and desires,” said Elif Çar, Getir's chief U.S. transformation officer.
In addition to what users ordered, Getir shared findings of how they bought groceries for swift delivery. The most popular order days on a global basis were Saturday and Sundays, and the most common order times were between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Walmart Canada has named Gonzalo Gebara president and CEO, effective Jan. 30, 2023, pending work authorization. Gebara takes the reins from JP Suarez, EVP, chief administration officer and regional CEO for Walmart International, who has led Walmart Canada on an interim basis for the past six months and will continue to oversee the market.
Having joined Walmart in 2000, Gebara has held roles of increasing responsibility in finance, strategy, e-commerce, marketing and operations in such markets as the United States, Argentina and Chile, driving critical business outcomes. His most recent position was that of Walmart Chile CEO.
“Gonzalo is an experienced retail leader with extensive knowledge across the industry and our business,” noted Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International. “Under his leadership, he led the transformation of the business in Chile, strengthening our omnichannel capabilities and developing an ecosystem of services for our Chilean customers. Gonzalo is ideally suited to lead Walmart Canada as it continues its journey to help even more Canadian families save money and live better.”
“Walmart Canada has over 100,000 dedicated and talented associates and a strong foundation to build on,” said Gebara. “I look forward to working with our associates to continue to strengthen, innovate and grow our business in Canada.”
One of Canada’s largest employers, Walmart Canada has more than 400 stores nationwide, with 100,000-plus associates serving 1.5 million customers daily. 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.