News Briefs


La Brea Bakery Closes Flagship Locations to Focus on Grocery Business

La Brea Bakery Cafe Los Angeles Teaser

La Brea Bakery closed its La Brea Bakery Café locations in Los Angeles and the Downtown Disney District in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 9, having made the strategic decision to exit the restaurant business and continue to focus on expanding the La Brea Bakery business through the retail grocery and foodservice channels. The Aspire Bakeries human resources team began working directly with affected employees at the two locations.

The franchised La Brea Bakery kiosks in the Reno International Airport in Nevada and New York’s JFK Airport will remain open.

[Read more: "FMI Report Showcases Power of In-Store Bakery"]

“We are so thankful and hold a tremendous amount of appreciation for our employees, and for our customers who have frequented La Brea Bakery Café over the years,” noted Tyson Yu, CEO of Los Angeles-based Aspire Bakeries, which owns La Brea Bakery. “Our flagship café location on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles is where the La Brea Bakery magic started 34 years ago. These humble beginnings are an integral part of the brand history, and we will forever be grateful to the local community for their support over the years. While we will no longer be operating the cafés in Los Angeles or at Disneyland Resort, you can still find our delicious La Brea Bakery artisan breads in your local grocery in-store bakery and at other locations that serve artisan breads.”

La Brea Bakery began at a restaurant on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, growing into the No. 1 artisan bread brand nationally. Still made using its original custom sourdough starter, the La Brea Bakery recipe hasn’t changed in 34 years. The company bakes artisan bread daily at its bakeries in California and New Jersey.


Mitsuwa Marketplace to Open New Store in L.A.’s Northridge Neighborhood

Mitsuwa Marketplace Sign Teaser

Mitsuwa Marketplace, the largest Japanese grocery store chain in the United States, has revealed plans to open a new location on Saturday, Jan. 21 in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley, at 8940 Tampa Avenue in the Northridge community of Los Angeles. Located within the Walnut Grove Shopping Center, the supermarket will be minutes away from the California State University, Northridge campus. 

The Northridge store will feature many Japanese goods, including cosmetics, fresh meat and produce, and popular packaged items, to name just a few.

“We are very excited to open our store in the Northridge neighborhood,” said Takeshi Izuma, president and CEO of Mitsuwa Corp. “We are so excited to join this community and offer our new neighbors a taste of Japan.”

In honor of the occasion, Mitsuwa will hold a grand-opening ceremony starting at 10 a.m. on Jan. 21. The event will include authentic Japanese taiko drum performers.

Torrance, Calif.-based Mitsuwa Corp. operates 11 stores across five states: seven in California, one in Illinois, one in New Jersey, one in Texas and one in Hawaii. 


Albertsons to Open Micro-Fulfillment Center

Takeoff Technologies Teaser

Albertsons Cos. and Takeoff Technologies will open a micro-fulfillment center in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Jan. 11.

Waltham, Mass.-based Takeoff offers an e-grocery solution that enables grocers to succeed online using micro-fulfillment centers – small robotic fulfillment centers that can be leveraged at a hyperlocal scale. Orders are placed online through established retailers like Albertsons, and Takeoff’s automated technology fulfills the order. With a total capital of $200 million raised to date, Takeoff has dozens of operational micro-fulfillment centers in place, with many to follow in the next few years. 

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates more than 2,200 retail stores with 1,700-plus pharmacies, 402 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. It operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 24 well-known banners, among them Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, Kings Food Markets and Balducci’s Food Lovers Market. Albertsons is No. 9 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Cincinnati-based Kroger, with which Albertsons plans to merge, is No. 4 on the list.



Freshpet Names New EVP of Manufacturing, Tech and Supply Chain

freshpet logo

Freshpet, Inc. appointed industry veteran Jay Dahlgren as EVP of manufacturing, technology and supply chain. The position reflects the fresh pet food company’s latest growth plan and its goal of shoring up its manufacturing and supply chain expertise.

Dahlgren’s 30-year industry experience includes roles at J.M. Smucker Co., Del Monte Foods, Meow Mix and Nestle Purina. Following his most recent corporate role as VP of operations at Smucker’s, he worked as a consultant for Freshpet for the last year.  

[Read more: "Impossible Foods Appoints 1st Chief Demand Officer"]

“Our team has made significant progress over the past quarter, improving fill rates into the 90s and lowering logistics and disposal costs to healthier levels, which positions us for further improvement in 2023. The addition of Jay to our management team – with his proven execution and deep expertise in manufacturing, supply chain and operations – will further strengthen Freshpet, improve our operations, and support our plan to drive margin enhancement,” said Billy Cyr, Freshpet’s CEO.

Among other areas of the business, Dahlgren will shepherd progress at Freshpet’s new operation in Ennis, Texas. That facility is set to become the company’s largest and most profitable manufacturing site.


Impossible Foods Appoints 1st Chief Demand Officer

Sherene Jagla

Impossible Foods has created and filled the position of chief demand officer. The California-based producer of meat alternatives has hired Sherene Jagla to integrate sales, marketing, insights and product development into one function to drive growth.

As the market for plant-based proteins continues to evolve and shake out, Impossible Foods posted a 50% increase in dollar sales in 2022. In her new role, Jagla will work to keep that momentum going. “One of the reasons I was drawn to Impossible is the company’s focus on leading the category and commitment to creating delicious, nutritious, and sustainable food,” she said. “Impossible has created a compelling brand with a strong product portfolio that’s primed for growth.”

Jagla – a past winner of Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery awards – comes to Impossible Foods from Newell Brands, where she served as SVP and general manager and oversaw a $2 billion business across 50 brands. Her 25 years of industry experience also includes sales leadership positions at Kellogg Co., Kimberly-Clark, Crossmark and MillerCoors.

Peter McGuiness, president and CEO of Impossible Foods, said that the new position comes at a crucial time for the company. “Our next phase of growth requires tight integration across teams and disciplines, and Sherene knows how to do that and build organizations that scale,” he remarked. “She’s transformed complex organizations into high-performing businesses, and she has a deep understanding of the food and CPG space. I’ve no doubt her leadership will help transform Impossible into a household name.”

This is the latest high-profile executive hiring at the privately-held Impossible Foods, following the November announcement of Leslie Sims as the organization’s first chief marketing officer. In 2022, the company also onboarded Noel Clarke as its new SVP of international.

Founded in 2011, Impossible Foods produces a variety of plant-based chicken, beef and pork products. New offerings launched in 2022 include Impossible Sausage Links, Impossible Wild Nuggies, Impossible Chicken Patties and Impossible Bowls.


Medicare Part D Beneficiaries Can Access Low-Cost Insulin, Free Shingles Vaccine at Hy-Vee

Singles Vaccine

Medicare Part D beneficiaries are now able to access reduced-cost monthly insulin supplies and free Shingrix vaccines at all Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations, as outlined in the recent Inflation Reduction Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2023.

Under the Inflation Reduction Act, Medicare Part D beneficiaries who take insulin will see their out-of-pocket costs capped at $35 for a month’s supply of each covered formulary insulin product, beginning this month at Hy-Vee pharmacies. A deductible will also not be applied to covered insulin products. 

[Read more: "Hy-Vee Dietitians to Provide 1K Free Vitamin D Screenings in January"]

Starting July 1, 2023, individuals covered under Medicare Part B who take insulin through a traditional pump covered under Medicare’s durable medical equipment benefit, will also not have a deductible applied, and cost-sharing will be capped at $35 for a month’s supply of that insulin.

The Inflation Reduction Act also makes adult vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — including the shingles vaccine — available with no deductible and no cost-sharing to individuals with Medicare prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D). This makes coverage of vaccines under Medicare Part D consistent with coverage of vaccines under Medicare Part B, such as the flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

Individuals can schedule a Shingrix vaccination by contacting their local Hy-Vee Pharmacy. Shingrix is a two-dose vaccine recommended for individuals 50 years and older. Individuals should get their second Shingrix dose two to six months after their first dose.

Employee-owned Hy-Vee operates more than 285 retail stores across eight Midwestern states and has a team of more than 93,000 employees. The West Des Moines, Iowa-based company is No. 30 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.