News Briefs


Save A Lot Releases First ESG Report

Grocers Continue Hiring Amid the Coronavirus

Discount grocery chain Save A Lot has released its inaugural environmental, social and governance (ESG) report, detailing the company’s progress in these areas.

“At our core, Save A Lot is a business that exists to be a solution by providing access to fresh, affordable and healthy foods to families,” said Save A Lot CEO Leon Bergmann. “Community is wired into the very heart and soul of our business model, which is comprised of more than 180 small and medium-sized business owners who own and operate locations across the country. We are committed to identifying and prioritizing ways we can continue to make a positive impact for team members, retail partners and customers, while also taking action to support sustainability for the environment and the company itself.”

Among the highlights of the report

  • Information about Save A Lot’s culture of supporting associates through hiring, engagement, training and total rewards
  • An overview of Save A Lot’s locally owned and operated business model, and how retail partners and stores are engaging directly with the communities they serve
  • Data on the steps that the company is taking to proactively manage energy, emissions and waste across its distribution network
  • Save A Lot’s approach to corporate governance and long-term brand protection

The report also provides key metrics and commitments that will serve as a baseline for continued future reporting.

Save A Lot has 842 stores in 32 states. The St. Ann, Mo.-based company is No. 60 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Publix Associates Honored for Community Service

Publix Mr. George Awards 2023 Teaser

At Publix Super Market’s April 18 annual stockholders’ meeting, the company presented six associates with the Mr. George Community Service Award for exemplary commitment to their respective communities.

The award is named for Publix founder George Jenkins, affectionately called Mr. George, who espoused the belief that Publix and its associates should help others. One hundred and forty-seven associates have received the award since it was established in 1995.

“Mr. George believed that for a company to be successful, it must be involved in the communities it serves,” said Publix CEO Todd Jones. “Almost 93 years later, our associates still take these words to heart and remain committed to improving their communities and the people we serve.

Each year, one associate from each retail division and one support associate are chosen to receive the award. These associates are actively involved in their communities, display personal integrity and embody the generous spirit of Mr. George. Honorees get a personalized award, a feature in an internal company publication, dinner with Publix executives, three paid days off, and $5,000 donated to the charity or charities of their choice.

The 2023 recipients are as follows:

  • Atlanta Division: Store Manager Sefik Gluhic, Atlanta
  • Charlotte Division: Store Manager Tim Bismarck, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Jacksonville Division: Store Manager Nicole Miller, DeLand, Fla.
  • Lakeland Division: Store Manager Billy Ray Drake, Sarasota, Fla.
  • Miami Division: Pharmacy Manager Deborah Lolo, Miami
  • Support: Manager of Retail Security Solutions Rick Abbatiello

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



FMI Members Head to DC to Push Food Industry Priorities


Member company representatives of FMI – The Food Industry Association are making their way to the nation’s capital today to advocate for legislative solutions to address industry issues and create opportunities for economic growth. Dozens of executives representing food retailers, wholesalers and product suppliers who sit on FMI’s Government Relations Committee are meeting with lawmakers to discuss such key topics as Farm Bill reauthorization, food safety regulations, credit card competition and pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) reform. 

“We are excited to bring FMI members together once again to have important discussions with key elected officials on the industry’s top legislative priorities,” noted Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “The food industry plays a vital role in supplying more than 100 million American households with the foods and household goods they need every day.” 

Added Hatcher: “Food retailers, wholesalers and product suppliers of all sizes support reauthorization of SNAP, a vital program to so many Americans, and advocate for the continued safety and efficiency of the most abundant food system in the world. Our retailer members are also confronted with ever-increasing credit card swipe fees paid to the largest banks and credit card companies at the expense of communities across our nation. Additionally, our members operate 12,000 pharmacies in diverse communities throughout our country that are seriously threatened by the anticompetitive business practices of the largest PBMs.”

FMI’s 2020 Day in Washington was canceled, and the organization’s 2021 and 2022 D.C. events were held virtually, because of the pandemic, so this year marks the first in-person Day in Washington since 2019.


Unilever CEO Joins Accenture Board


The CEO of Unilever has taken a seat on the board of directors at professional services company Accenture. Alan Jope will serve on the committee devoted to nominating, governance and sustainability.

Jope brings a wealth of industry knowledge and experience to his latest role as one of 10 Accenture directors. As the leader of London-based Unilever, he steers the global CPG’s business across 190 countries.

He was promoted to that role in January 2019 after being president of Unilever’s beauty and personal care division and, before that, working on various leadership roles in North America and Asia. Recently bestowed a visiting fellowship at the University of Oxford, Jope earned a BA in commerce from Edinburgh University and graduated from Harvard Business School’s general management program.

“Alan is a dynamic leader with vast expertise in the consumer goods industry and deep experience driving change through sustainable business at a global scale,” said Julie Sweet, chair and CEO of Dublin, Ireland-based Accenture. “He will bring valuable perspective and insight to our board and our company as we continue to execute on our strategy and create 360° value for all our stakeholders.”  

Meanwhile, Jope continues to spearhead Unilever’s international growth through a still-murky economic climate. In February, the company reported full-year results for 2022 showing a 9% gain in underlying sales, and growth across each of its five business groups. Unilever still projects strong underlying sales growth for its fiscal 2023 as the company navigates high inflation and expected volume declines.


Plus Brand Industries Adds New Community Engagement Directors


Plus Brand Industries, which offers the Aqua Plus line of water,  revealed that Kristen and Gary Toma are joining the organization as directors of community engagement. In this role, they will oversee the company’s widening distribution network and work with DSD distribution partners in key markets.

Leveraging their respective backgrounds in sales, marketing and healthy living, the Tomas will also engage with consumers through social media platforms, highlighting Aqua Plus’s “All-Scratch!” technology that allows for on-package personalization.

“Bottle confusion is a problem we constantly experience daily in our own family and social lives, so when we came across Agua Plus through a friend, we immediately knew that it was something we needed to be a part of. The idea of scratching something onto a drink to differentiate it from others is brilliant,” explained Kristen Toma.

George Zrinyi, national sales director for Sheridan, Wyo.-based Plus Brand Industries, emphasized the importance of community engagement and the Tomas’ new positions. “One of our goals as a company is to help our DSD partners increase their revenues, grow their nonalcoholic market share, incentivize their sales staff and ultimately move large volumes of Agua Plus quickly.” said Zrinyi. “When our partners win, we win. It all comes down to equipping them with a unique offering and then helping build awareness with retailers and consumers alike in their markets. Gary and Kristen are quickly proving to play a huge role in that process, and we are already preparing to replicate their approach, strategies and successes in additional markets.”


Sprouts Farmers Markets Divert Food Waste for On-Farm Soil and Feed

Sprouts farm

Sprouts Farmers Market is literally laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future through one of its latest initiatives. The organic and natural grocer is contributing food waste diverted from its stores for composing and feed on regenerative farms in Tennessee and Missouri.

Through a partnership with Ancient Nutrition’s  R.A.N.C.H. (Regenerative - Agriculture - Nutrition - Climate - Health) Project, Sprouts has diverted more than 362,000 pounds of food waste to farms since May 2022. The R.A.N.C.H. farms take a holistic approach to grazing and livestock management, using compost to enhance the quality and nutrient value of soil and nourishing animals with nutritious foods.  

[Read more: "Sprouts Farmers Market Resurrects 2 Licensed Locations"]

"We’re excited to partner with Ancient Nutrition as we recognize the possibilities of regenerative organic farming and the variety of sustainable benefits it will bring to our planet,” said Nick Konat, president and COO of Sprouts. “Together, we can further the movement in regenerative agriculture, working diligently to create a lasting impact on our future, both environmentally and economically.”

Echoed Jordan Rubin, Ancient Nutrition’s founder and CEO: "We believe at Ancient Nutrition, in partnership with Sprouts, we can heal the planet, feed the world and transform health – one bite, one capsule and one millimeter of topsoil at a time.”

In other news, Sprouts is also focusing on growth from within its own organization. The retailer announced that it is opening a new location in Wistminster, Md., in 2024. This will be the sixth Sprouts store in Maryland.

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.