Natural Grocers is living up to its name, teaming up with the nonprofit Beyond Pesticides group for an initiative supporting pesticide-free green spaces. The retailer is kicking off its sixth annual Ladybug Love campaign during Earth Month and will highlight the crucial role that ladybugs play in regenerative farming and food production.
The campaign will raise funds for Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Parks Project that aims to curb the use of synthetic pesticides at parks in Natural Grocers’ communities. According to Raquel Isely, VP of marketing at Natural Grocers, the campaign has enabled the group to convert a dozen parks and playing fields to natural areas across several states. “We know that protecting these tiny, beneficial insects makes a real difference in regenerating our planet. Cleaner air, water and land make for a healthier food supply – a principle Natural Grocers has championed since 1955. We thank our customers in advance for their generosity and enthusiasm towards this cause in 2023,” she said.
Shoppers are encouraged to take or renew a pledge online to support 100% organic produce and commit to not using chemicals that harm ladybugs and other beneficial insects in their yards, gardens and homes. Throughout Earth Month, Natural Grocers will donate $1 to Beyond Pesticides for every customer pledge signed online and $2 for every Ladybug Zip Pouch sold at its stores.
Shoppers who make a pledge to the campaign between April 1-15 will receive a $5 coupon for purchases on Earth Day, April 22. Natural Grocers is also offering a $500 store gift card as a prize in a ladybug-counting contest through its store magazine.
Walmart has revealed plans to build its own electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging network at thousands of Walmart and Sam’s Club locations throughout the United States by 2030. This would be in addition to the nearly 1,300 EV fast-charging stations the company already offers at more than 280 U.S. facilities (pictured). The goal, according to a blog post by Vishal Kapadia, SVP, energy transformation, is “to make EV ownership more accessible, reliable, convenient and affordable for [customers and members] across the country.”
Added Kapadia: “With a store or club located within 10 miles of approximately 90% of Americans, we are uniquely positioned to deliver a convenient charging option that will help make EV ownership possible whether people live in rural, suburban or urban areas. Easy access to on-the-go charging is a game-changer for drivers who have been hesitant to purchase an EV for concerns they won’t be able to find a charger in a clean, bright and safe location when needed.”
While they charge their cars at Every Day Low Price rates, consumers can pick up essentials for their families or something to eat, he noted.
Walmart aims to help expand domestic EV-charging capacity across states, in line with the company’s other investments to transform its business and product supply chains to be more regenerative.
Each week, approximately 240 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.
Grocery platform Pod Foods has tapped grocery and CPG veteran Mike Schall to help lead the organization as its new president. Schall, who has more than 40 years of industry experience, will help lead the Austin, Texas-based Pod Foods through its next phase of growth.
Most recently, Schall served as managing director of the food and beverage practice at financial services and consulting firm FocalPoint Partners. His grocery experience includes a role as senior principal of global growth and business development at Whole Foods Market, where he guided the company on a range of business initiatives, including investments, strategic partnerships, new ventures, store brand product development, sustainability initiatives and operational improvements.
"Joining forces with Mike marks an inflection point in our journey," said Larissa Russell, co-founder and CEO of Pod Foods. "Industry leaders are acknowledging the magnitude of change and competitive advantage of our tech-driven solutions that provide much needed speed and transparency to the supply chain."
Pod Foods, designed to help brands and retailers connect directly and transact with full-service logistics, is backed by investors including Moment Ventures, M12 (Microsoft's Venture Fund), XRC Labs and Interstate Fusion Fund. The company recently added Sprouts Farmers Market to its platform.
FMI Promotes Dana Graber to Associate General Counsel
FMI – The Food Industry Association has elevated Dana Graber to associate general counsel and senior director, legal and regulatory affairs. In her updated role at FMI, she focuses on labeling and on developing strategies for “minimally burdensome and easily implementable” rules for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Arlington, Va.-based group reported.
“Anyone who has had the opportunity to work alongside Dana knows that she is an indispensable member of the FMI team. She is a talented attorney who does a tremendous job helping our members navigate complex and demanding legal and regulatory responsibilities,” said Stephanie Harris, the organization’s chief regulatory officer and general counsel.
Graber has worked for FMI for nearly seven years, joining as senior counsel on the government relations team. She previously worked as an associate attorney with the Keller and Heckman firm, advising clients on food and food packaging regulations, and spent four years on the consumer packaging industry before earning her law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in packaging science from Clemson University in South Carolina.
White-label e-commerce platform eGrowcery has integrated Card Isle’s personalized greeting card solution into the eGrowcery digital shopping service to increase overall shopper engagement.
“eGrowcery is in the business of helping our retail customers differentiate themselves from larger chains,” noted said Patrick Hughes, CEO of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based eGrowcery. “By partnering with Card Isle and similar services that grow the retailer’s market footprint, we’re making it easier for that operator’s customers to do even more shopping at their stores.
The partnership adds a curated range of greeting cards to retailers’ e-commerce sites. Printed on demand at stores, the cards offer convenience and customization. The printed cards can be picked up at the stores or delivered.
“Both Card Isle and eGrowcery are designed to truly engage consumers by enabling them to shop the way they want to shop,” said David Henry, COO and co-founder of Blacksburg, Va.-based Card Isle, which has brought to market such internet-connected greeting card technologies as kiosks, printers and e-commerce products. “Integrating our cards into the eGrowcery platform will help both companies and their mutual retail customers flourish.”
B&R Stores Inc., an independent grocer based in Lincoln, Neb., has promoted Nick Kelso to the position of VP - store operations. In his new role, Kelso will oversee the operations of the company’s 33 stores in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Kelso also serves on B&R’s executive committee.
Bringing more than 23 years of experience at B&R to his latest position, Kelso joined the company as a clerk in Omaha and steadily rose through the ranks. During his time at the grocer, he has held various leadership roles, among them store director and district manager for both the Russ’s Market and Super Saver groups of stores. Kelso has been instrumental in the implementation of such initiatives as computer-assisted ordering, and he played a key role in the successful acquisition of C&R Markets in Missouri.
“I am deeply honored and grateful for this opportunity to serve as VP - store operations for the company,” said Kelso. “I am committed to upholding B&R Stores’ values and leading our extraordinary team of employees to deliver exceptional experiences for our customers.”
“I am proud to say Nick is fully qualified to take on additional leadership responsibilities for the company,” added B&R President Mark Griffin. “As the embodiment of a servant leader, Nick knows in his heart, it is the company's people who matter the most. Nick is a true motivator of people who inspires those he leads to perform at their best.”
Founded in 1964 by Russ and Anita Raybould, family-owned B&R has grown to consist of several supermarket banners: Russ’s Market, Super Saver, Apple Market, Allen’s, Cash Saver, C&R Markets, and Joe’s Market. The company operates in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.