News Briefs


Wakefern Expands In-Store Retail Media With Freeosk

freeosk teaser

Wakefern Food Corp. is expanding usage of Freeosk’s interactive multimedia sampling kiosks for turnkey, multisensory, in-store retail media activation.

Following a successful pilot, Wakefern is placing Freeosk units in 95 ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer stores to transform ordinary in-store spaces into discovery destinations for new products and categories.

[Read more:  “Wakefern Exec Headlines GroceryTech Panel]

According to the company, Freeosk campaigns historically generate an average sales lift of over 50%, with 70% of buyers being new to brands and over 20% of the converted shoppers repeating purchases post-campaign. The Freeosk platform inspires shopper engagement and trial by combining in-store sampling, merchandising and digital media.

“Trial lowers barriers to entry for products and expands the shopper base for brands by attracting incremental users to the category while in-store. By capturing the shopper activity, brands are provided transparent measurement and retail media opportunities to engage with emerging and renewed brand users,” said Natalie Menza-Crowe, MS RD, director of marketing and wellness strategy for Wakefern.

"Brand adoption is a key milestone on the path-to-purchase. From that moment on, you build loyalty and customer lifetime value. Freeosk is honored to help facilitate seamless in-store retail media programs with Wakefern that provide clear ROI,” said Matt Eichorn, president, co-founder and CEO at Chicago-based Freeosk.

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern comprises nearly 50 members that independently own and operate 360-plus supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Together with its member companies, Wakefern employs nearly 80,000 people. The retailer-owned co-op is No. 29 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 listing of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Rouses Invests in Digital Media Enhancements


Rouses Markets is upping its advertising and marketing game by expanding one of its digital partnerships. The independent grocer is teaming up with The Moran Group to better leverage insights, audience segmentation and digital solutions.

The businesses have worked together before, when Rouses tapped the agency to work on a campaign with its National Football League partner, the New Orleans Saints. Through this new and broader strategic partnership, Rouses will leverage The Moran Group’s Amplifi system that identifies potential buyers, tracks them online and delivers targeted advertising to them. Other services will be enhanced, too, such as Google Advertising, paid social media, newsletter signups, location advertising and email marketing.

“We’re always looking for new ways to make connections with the consumer, and we are already seeing great results from the strategies and tactics they’ve brought to the table,” said Donny Rouse, CEO of Rouses Markets. "The success of our partnership has helped us be even more responsive to customer behavior and market trends, and our teams make the most informed decisions for our business.”

Added Jim Moran Jr, CEO of The Moran Group: “We’re thrilled to join forces with such a well-respected brand and look forward to a long and successful partnership that will drive results for both of our organizations.”

Founded in 1960, Thibodaux, La.-based Rouses currently operates 63 stores across three states and employs more than 7,000 associates. Donny Rouse is the third generation to run the business started by his grandfather, Anthony J. Rouse Sr. 


FMI Names 5 Store Manager Award Honorees

FMI Store Manager Awards 2023 Winners Teaser

FMI – The Food Industry Association has revealed the five recipients of its 2023 Store Manager Awards. From 175 nominations, 12 finalists were recognized in a live virtual awards ceremony hosted by Heather Garlich, SVP for communications, marketing and consumer/community affairs at FMI, and Brian Sappington, president of the retail portfolio North America at The Coca-Cola Co., the awards program sponsor. 

“The Store Manager Awards is one of FMI’s greatest achievements,” noted Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “Its expansion through the years is a testament to the talented and diverse individuals that make up the food industry. Our 2023 recipients are in a class of their own as they have maneuvered through post-pandemic challenges and shoppers’ changing behaviors, all while serving as pillars of their local communities and uplifting their workforce. It is an honor to recognize and celebrate them.” 

Award recipients were judged based on their ability to drive sales growth, effectively convey company and store goals and objectives, show team leadership in their store/company, provide superior customer service through in-store programs and improve community relations.

The 2023 Store Manager Award recipients were as follows:

• Category A (1-49 stores): Wander Rezende, Roche Bros.
•,Category B (50-199 stores): Sean Conlon, Giant Food
•,Category C (200-plus stores): Delton Schafer, Albertsons Cos.
•,Category D (International): John Fox, SPAR Northern Ireland/Henderson Group
•,People’s Pick Category: Joel White, The Kroger Co. (King Soopers-City Market)

Four grand-prize winners received a crystal award and $1,000 each, while the People’s Pick recipient was presented with a special trophy and $500 to celebrate his store employees.  


US Foods Readies 3 New Chef’Store Locations

Roanoke Chef'Store

More Chef'Store locations are on the way in the Mid-Atlantic region. Parent company US Foods Holding Corp. announced that a trio of stores in Roanoke, Va., Greenville, N.C., and Fayetteville, N.C., are expected to open this fall.

As with other Chef'Store outlets around the country, these warehouse-style locations are designed to be a one-stop shop for food industry professionals as well as home chefs. The latest stores will span between 20,000 and 23,500 square feet and will be stocked with restaurant essentials and groceries including fresh produce, meat, dairy, deli products and beverages.

[Read more: "US Foods Names New CEO"]

“As part of the US Foods omnichannel strategy to provide enhanced delivery and retail options to foodservice operators, we are excited to continue to grow the Chef'Store footprint,” said Irfan Badibanga, president of the Rosemont, Ill.-based Chef'Store. “Our Chef'Store locations provide an unmatched solution for restaurateurs, smaller foodservice operators and price-conscious community members to get the products they need when they need it, and we look forward to serving new and existing customers.” 

The new stores will be open seven days a week. Memberships are not required.

With these additions, US Foods will operate more than 90 Chef'Store locations across 13 states. The company acquired several brick-and-mortar sites as part of its acquisition of Smart Foodservice Warehouse Stores in April 2020.


AeroFarms Microgreens Launch in Amazon Fresh Stores

AeroFarms Amazon

Vertical farm operation AeroFarms is expanding its business, set to roll out offerings in Amazon Fresh stores around the U.S. The Certified B corporation began selling products in Amazon-owned Whole Foods stores last year as the first indoor leafy greens grower to be part of that grocer’s global planogram.

Amazon Fresh stores will carry an assortment of AeroFarms items, including its Micro Spicy Mix, Micro Arugula and Micro Rainbow Mix. “AeroFarms is excited to continue to scale our national availability with Amazon Fresh to meet the growing consumer demand for our fresh, flavorful and delicious microgreens,” said David Rosenberg, AeroFarms co-founder and CEO.

[Read more: "10 Most Sustainable Grocers"]

The collaboration with Amazon Fresh builds on AeroFarms’ current market penetration, which includes distribution in stores owned by Ahold Delhaize, Harris Teeter and The Fresh Market. In April, AeroFarms shared that it was widening its availability at H-E-B stores in Texas.

AeroFarms specialty greens are grown in commercial indoor farms using 95% less water and 99% less land than traditional field farming with no pesticides. Each package color is linked to a specific tasting note, with cool blue representing sweet and mellow flavors and intense reds identifying bold and zesty flavors, for example.

Amazon, for its part, is currently homing in on the best strategy to proceed with its physical stores. CEO Andy Jassy reiterated the company’s commitment to the brick-and-mortar grocery during the company’s latest financial results call in April, reporting that Amazon is working on various concepts and experiments across its stores while scaling back previous expansion plans. Currently, Amazon operates 44 Amazon Fresh stores around the U.S.

Seattle-based Amazon is No. 2 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Lakeside Foods Shores Up Leadership Team

lakeside execs teaser

There are some waves of change at Lakeside Foods, a Manitowoc, Wis.-based manufacturer of frozen and canned foods. The company announced a series of executive-level appointments and promotions at a time of growth and the integration of its subsidiaries, Riverside Foods and Cher-Make Sausages.

Kevin Lien (pictured at bottom left) has been elevated to COO from VP of business development. As COO, he will oversee operations, quality assurance, supply chain, continuous improvement and sales/marketing functions. Prior to joining Lakeside Foods, he worked in various leadership roles at Welbilt/Manitowoc Foodservice.

[Read more: "Ben & Jerry’s Has New CEO"]

The company’s c-suite is getting another new addition as longtime CFO Denise Kitzerow retires in July. New CFO Mark Smith (pictured at top) will leverage his nearly 20 years of experience in corporate finance and business leadership as he spearheads accounting, legal and information technology functions. He comes to Lakeside Foods from Littelfuse, Inc. in Chicago. 

Lakeside Foods also shared that it promoted Nick Brisch (pictured at bottom right) to VP of supply chain. With nearly 17 years of experience at the company, Brisch steadily moved up from sales associate to positions in corporate operations, business analysis and supply chain.