News Briefs


Schnucks Sets Opening Date for 2nd Eatwell Market Location

Schnucks’ Donation Helps Mobile Grocery Store to Serve St. Louis Food Deserts

Following the success of its first Eatwell Market by Schnucks location, Schnuck Markets plans to open the second of its concept stores in Chesterfield, Mo., on March 29. The store will emphasize natural and organic foods, community events, and made-to-order options including fresh pastas, pizzas, sandwiches and salads.

“We look forward to introducing St. Louis-area customers to our Eatwell Market, which will bring them a ‘beyond the expected’ shopping experience,” said Schnucks Chairman and CEO Todd Schnuck. “This store will allow us to build on our mission to Nourish People’s Lives by offering shoppers a store where they can stay focused on health and wellness while also discovering new, local items.”

The Eatwell Market outpost will offer store-cut artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, an olive bar and an AI-powered “smart salad bar.” A made-to-order drink area will specialize in single-serve smoothies, coffee, tea, beer and wine.

The first Eatwell Market banner opened in Columbia, Mo., in 2020, and this second store will serve as Schnucks’ 115th location. The store will employ about 75 associates and will offer curbside pickup and delivery via Instacart.

St. Louis-based Schnucks employs 12,000 associates and is No. 64 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company as one of its Outstanding Independents for 2023


Swiftly, Webstop Form Mobile Partnership

Swiftly Image Teaser

Swiftly, a retail technology company that delivers omnichannel tools for enterprise retailers, has joined forces with Webstop, a provider of digital solutions for regional and independent grocers, to provide expanded mobile solutions to Webstop’s client base of more than 2,000 stores. Webstop will use Swiftly’s advanced mobile app platform to bring those clients improved features and functionality to capture their share of the $100 billion retail media market. 

Under the partnership, grocers can meet the expectations of today’s hybrid shoppers by using Webstop’s web-based digital platforms along with Swiftly’s mobile app technologies that deliver a seamless personalized shopping experience while increasing revenue and long-term loyalty both online and in-store.

[Read more: "Alliance Retail Group, Skupos Team With Swiftly to Help Indies Compete With Industry Giants"]

“As the threat of industry consolidation increases, regional retailers must take action now in order to secure their digital customer relationships and establish long-term loyalty and revenue,” said Henry Kim, co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based Swiftly. “Competition for engineering resources and budget remain ongoing challenges for independent grocers. The ability to offer our mobile solutions to Webstop’s customer base will enable retailers to compete with e-commerce giants while boosting shopper engagement and driving margin-rich revenue.” 

“We are excited to partner with Swiftly and help better equip regional grocers with the mobile app tools they need to successfully compete in today’s evolving retail market,” noted Shawn Tuckett, CEO of Palm Harbor, Fla.-based Webstop. “With Swiftly’s powerful mobile platform, our grocers can now leverage their nimbleness to gain a competitive edge while also increasing loyalty, sales and basket size.” 


Apeel Brings Its Produce Protection to Cucumbers

Apeel Topline teaser

Apeel Sciences is venturing into new territory as it works with Topline Farms to roll out Apeel-Protected Mini Cucumbers. The greenhouse-grown produce promises to be fresh and flavorful for up to three days longer than traditional mini cucumbers.

The two companies previously worked together to launch plastic-free English cucumbers, which save the equivalent of nearly three plastic straws per cucumber. Apeel’s edible, plant-based coating extends the shelf-life of fresh fruits and vegetables by keeping moisture in and oxygen out.

[Read more: "Asda Turns to Apeel to Help Reach Its Food Waste Reduction Goals"]

"We are thrilled to partner once again with Apeel Sciences to bring another innovative produce item to the market," said Dino DiLaudo, VP of sales at Ontario, Canada-based Topline Farms. "Their cutting-edge technology is making a real difference in extending the life of fresh produce, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this exciting innovation."

“Giving more time to fresh produce unlocks new opportunities for the entire industry, including new packaging and merchandising techniques that can enhance consumer experience and demand,” said Lou Perez, SVP of innovation at Goleta, Calif.-based Apeel Sciences. “We are already seeing this play out with plastic-free English cucumbers and are excited to see innovative leaders like Topline eager to introduce new technologies to create a more sustainable food system.”

In October, Apeel launched several innovative technology solutions that will allow stakeholders across the entire fresh produce supply chain to instantly determine the ripeness of avocados. The company’s mission is to create a more sustainable global food system, and its new tech aims to help reduce food waste across the supply chain.


Publix IT Exec Honored for Leadership

Publix Laurie Douglas CIO Teaser

FloridaCIO has recently presented Publix Super Markets SVP, CIO and Chief Digital Officer Laurie Douglas with the 2023 Leadership ORBIE Award. The technology executive recognition program recognizes CIOs in six categories: Leadership, Global, Large Enterprise, Enterprise, Corporate and Nonprofit/Public Sector.

“We’re proud Laurie was recognized for her accomplishments to further enhance the customer and associate experience, as well as her passion for leading high-performing teams,” noted Publix CEO Todd Jones. “She’s committed to consistently delivering technology solutions to achieve Publix’s strategic objectives and increase our shareholder value.”

[Read more: "Publix Launches 2023 Feeding More Together Campaign"]

Douglas joined Publix in 2006 as SVP and CIO, taking on additional responsibilities as chief digital officer in 2019. She is responsible for the grocer’s enterprise technology and digital strategy, as well as for the delivery and support of all applications, digital solutions and technology infrastructure. Douglas also oversees IT security and omnichannel.

Employee-owned and -operated Publix has more than 1,300 supermarkets and 240,000-plus associates in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. The Lakeland, Fla.-based company is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of thetop food and consumables retailers in North America.


Hiland Dairy President Shifts to Consulting Role

Gary Aggus

Gary Aggus, president of farmer-owned Hiland Dairy Foods Co. in Springfield, Mo., is exiting that role on April 1, but will continue to work for the company as a consultant. The 20-year leader propelled the dairy processor and distributor to new growth over the years, expanding from six plants in three states to 19 plants and 64 distribution centers in 10 states and helping to boost revenues from $400 million to $2 billion.

Aggus joined Hiland Dairy in 1984 as a district sales manager. He was named president in 2003 and promoted to COO and president of Joint Ventures of Prairie Farms Dairy in 2006. During his tenure at Hiland Dairy, Aggus oversaw the acquisition of other dairy brands. Those moves, including the acquisition of Borden Dairy’s assets in Texas, fueled the dairy business’ multi-state expansion. A lifelong dairy industry professional, he served as a board member of the International Dairy Foods Association, MilkPEP, Quality Chekd Dairies, Inc., the Missouri Dairy Products Association, and as a member of the Missouri Grocers Association.

[Read more: "Organic Valley Names New CEO"]

“I am very pleased the company has achieved the nice growth it has, and I attribute that to the great employees I have had the privilege to work with the past 20 years that I have served as president,” Aggus said.

Meanwhile, Hiland Dairy has promoted Rick Beaman to the president position. Beaman has also spent his career in dairy, working for other national dairy companies before coming to Hiland in 2012. He was elevated to VP in 2014.

“Rick is a successful industry veteran that knows our company's history and culture. I am confident he will do a great job leading Hiland Dairy,” Aggus added.


Ransomware Hits Dole Operations

Dole Chopped! Salad Kits

Dole plc has confirmed that the company was the target of a ransomware attack earlier this month.

In a Feb. 23 statement posted on its website, the company shared, “Upon learning of this incident, Dole moved quickly to contain the threat and engaged leading third-party cybersecurity experts, who have been working in partnership with Dole’s internal teams to remediate the issue and secure systems. The company has notified law enforcement about the incident and are cooperating with their investigation.”

[Read more: "Empire Co.’s Operations Impacted by IT Issue"]

Reports began circulating about inventory issues a few weeks ago, as many consumers complained that their stores were out of stock on products such as Dole’s salad kits. A Feb. 10 memo from a Dole SVP to retailers affirmed the cybersecurity issue and subsequent halt in production. That memo was later obtained and cited by CNN as it reported the breach.

Although some shoppers and stores have reported ongoing shortages, the company said that lines are running. "While continuing to investigate the scope of the incident, the impact to Dole operations has been limited,” Dole added in its statement.

Cybersecurity attacks, while infrequent, still pose a risk to manufacturers that serve the grocery industry. In 2021, beef giant JBS temporarily shuttered its plants after a major breach that caused the company to pay $11 million to hackers.