News Briefs


Grocery Price Increases Slowing Despite Double-Digit Inflation: Report

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The month of November saw a mixed bag as far as grocery prices were concerned, according to IRI’s "November 2022 Price Check: Tracking Retail Food and Beverage Inflation" report. While food and beverage prices for the month were up 0.3% compared to October, the increase is less than the 0.5% jump seen for the previous month, IRI found. 

Though overall food inflation grew 13.2% year over year, inflation in perimeter areas has moderated to 8.2% versus one year ago, and center store inflation leveled off in November to 14.9% year over year. Fresh meat and seafood rose 4.3% over October, though dairy was up 23.4% and bakery product inflation increased 18.4%.

[Read more: "Which CPG Categories Are Currently Experiencing the Most Inflation?"]

“The pace of food inflation is leveling off but remains at a robust 13% level versus one year ago,” said Krishnakumar (KK) Davey, president of thought leadership for CPG and retail at IRI and NPD. “IRI anticipates consumers will continue their trading down behavior over the December holidays and into the new year.”

Davey does believe, however, that some consumers will splurge on holiday food and beverages in certain segments. “Retailers and manufacturers with an in-depth understanding of consumer strategies have an excellent opportunity to build loyalty by offering products, price points and package sizes that provide good value,” Davey said.


Walgreens Launches Free Delivery of COVID-19 Meds

Walgreens Paxlovid delivery

Nearly three years after the novel coronavirus first made news, Walgreens is offering free delivery of the antiviral medication, Paxlovid. The retailer announced that it is teaming up with DoorDash and Uber to begin delivering the oral pills directly to consumers’ homes.

The service is now available to customers at more than 8,000 Walgreens locations that offer same-day delivery. To receive the therapy, eligible patients must first get a prescription for Paxlovid from a healthcare provider and then go online at to choose the delivery option.

[Read more: "Walgreens Eliminates Task-Based Metrics for Pharmacy Staff Reviews"]

Walgreens is making Paxlovid delivery possible as people gather more frequently during the holidays and during the time of year when illnesses tend to spread. The company cited its COVID-19 index data showing that overall COVID positivity rates are 36% this week.

Earlier this fall, following the urging of President Joe Biden to make COVID-19 treatment more accessible to vulnerable and underserved communities, the retailer announced its intent to offer free delivery of Paxlovid. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated health disparities and emphasized the need to address long-standing barriers, including access to treatments,” said Anita Patel, PharmD, VP, pharmacy services development at Walgreens. “Our pharmacy teams will continue to play a trusted and essential role in helping to keep people protected from COVID-19, including getting people vaccinated, tested and treated as safely, equitably and effectively as possible.”

Walgreens and Uber have partnered before to assist patients facing COVID-related accessibility challenges. The businesses created the Vaccine Access Fund aimed at connecting people from underserved areas to transportation to and from COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, which operates nearly 9,000 retail locations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is No. 5 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Survey Affirms Importance of Loyalty Tools to Inflation-Weary Shoppers

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The struggle is real when it comes to inflation and grocery shopping, a new survey has found. According to research conducted by retail tech platform Swiftly, more than two-thirds of consumers say they are having a hard time paying their grocery bills and 74% have changed their grocery shopping habits in the past year.

Findings from Swiftly’s grocery-specific survey underscored the importance of loyalty programs and tools. An overwhelming 83% of respondents said they rely on coupons, rewards apps or other loyalty features while shopping. Nearly half (41%) are shopping based on discounts and promotions, and rewards apps are now used as often as paper coupons.

[Read more: "Supermarkets Accused of Digital Discrimination"]

As they capitalize on loyalty benefits and are adjusting their habits to save money, these shoppers are still out and about at their local retailer. Even in the omnichannel environment, 70% of survey participants reported that they prefer to shop in store at their local grocery store.

“The grocery sector is at a turning point. After massive e-commerce growth throughout the pandemic, we are beginning to see a transition as consumer spending is tested by inflation and a looming recession. Furthermore, the potential consolidation of giant supermarket chains could also lead to increased prices, which would be especially hard for consumers to absorb in today’s challenging economy,” observed Henry Kim, co-founder and CEO of Swiftly. “Findings from this survey amplify the need for today’s brick-and-mortar grocers to solidify and own digital customer relationships and modernize digital revenue streams, in order to be competitive and maintain a loyal customer base.”

While the overall pace of inflation slowed somewhat in October compared to previous months, the Consumer Price Index for food at home was 12.4% higher that month compared to October 2021. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release CPI data for November on Dec. 13.


Sprouts Farmers Market Brings on New Marketing Chief

Sprouts Farmers Market Surpasses Expectations in Q2

Alisa Gmelich has joined Sprouts Farmers Market as the grocer’s new SVP, chief marketing officer. Gmelich will be responsible for overseeing marketing, advertising and customer engagement, and will report directly to President and COO Nick Konat.

Gmelich most recently served as chief brand officer at Auntie Anne’s, and previously spent 15 years in the restaurant industry with companies including IHOP and Burger King.

[Read more: "It's Go Time at Sprouts Farmers Market"]

“I am extremely humbled to join Sprouts, a brand that I’ve long admired for innovation and purpose,” said Gmelich. “Providing communities access to healthy, affordable foods is more important today than ever before, and I look forward to helping the brand connect even further with customers nationwide in meaningful ways with the products they need and desire.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Alisa to the Sprouts team,” said Konat. “Her experience in building brands and growing customer engagement will be instrumental in shaping Sprouts’ marketing strategy to support our expansion and deepen loyalty with our customers.”

Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market employs approximately 31,000 associates and operates approximately 380 stores in 23 states nationwide. The company is No. 53 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Shipt, PetSmart Form Nationwide Partnership

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Shipt and PetSmart have rolled out a new same-day delivery partnership, expanding access to delivery of pet care products to consumers across the United States from 1,300-plus locations. The pet store chain is Shipt’s 200th retail partner.

“With each of our retail partners, our dedicated partner success managers work hand-in-hand to drive incremental sales for a retailer’s business,” said Rina Hurst, Chief Business Officer at Birmingham, Ala.-based Shipt. “We know, from PetSmart’s recent data, that this holiday season, over half of pet parents plan to spend more time shopping for pets than some of their own family members. We’re excited to partner with PetSmart to ensure pet parents get all the gifts they need in time for the holidays and beyond.”  

[Read more: "The Next Evolution of Shipt"]

“With nearly half of Shipt customers being pet parents, we knew this would be a great partnership to help bring PetSmart’s offerings to even more pet parents,” said Cherise Ordlock, SVP of digital at Phoenix-based PetSmart. “Same-day delivery is a key component of our omnichannel strategy, and it’s important to expand our e-commerce offerings as demand for convenient shopping options continues to grow. We’re excited to partner with Shipt to help deliver pet food, supplies, accessories and other necessities straight to pet parents’ doors – and even offer those who love pet parents an easy holiday gift delivery option.” 

This year, Shipt has partnered with 26 retailers and seen its delivery orders rise by 11%.

Shipt connects personal shopping and delivery to 80% of households in more than 5,000 U.S. cities. The company is an independently operated, wholly owned subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Target Corp., which 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.


SCS Global Services Authorized as Bee Better Certifier

Bee Better Certification Teaser

Third-party certification provider SCS Global Services has been approved as an authorized certification body to the Bee Better Certification Standard. Bee Better Certifiedis the only third-party certification program focused on pollinator health on farms.

The program was originally launched in 2017 by the Portland, Ore.-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, with support from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, to protect bees and other pollinators. Bee Better program certification ensures that a grower has dedicated a part of its farm to pollinator habitat and incorporated Integrated Pest Management practices to protect crop pollinators. 

“As a trusted leader in third-party environmental, sustainability and social audits, SCS is proud to partner with Xerces to bring the Bee Better Certification program to farms that adopt pollinator-friendly agricultural practices,” said Josh Edge, senior technical manager of the food and agriculture division at Emeryville, Calif.-based SCS. “We provide the added benefit of being an approved certification body in many related programs, including the Equitable Food Initiative, Sustainably Grown, Regenerative Organic Certification, SMETA and GLOBALG.A.P.– services that can be bundled with Bee Better Certification.”

Walmart revealed last year that by 2025, 100% of its fresh produce and floral purchases for its in-store produce departments will be from farms that have achieved certifications such as Bee Better Certified. Bentonville, Ark.-based 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.

In November, SCS Global Services rolled out its Plant-Based Certification Program, which incorporates a new standard from nonprofit body SCS Standards to distinguish plant-based brands based on strict auditing, testing and labeling requirements.