News Briefs


Reusable Bag Promo at Tops Raises $519K+


A recent effort by Tops Markets LLC to improve sustainability and support community organizations has netted $519,846 for groups such as United Way, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Feeding America and Children’s Miracle Network. Now in its third year, the Tops Totes for Change program encourages shoppers to buy a reusable bag featuring a special charity design, with $1 of the $2.69 price donated back to the nonprofits.

“Our consumers have a wide array of reusable bags to choose from that consist of cloth and recycled materials which can easily and economically be purchased at the store. To see consumers make the choice, however, to give back to these charities by purchasing a Tops Totes for Change bag is truly heartwarming,” said Kathy Sautter, director of corporate communications and public relations at Tops.

Recently, the grocer added a new bag emblazoned with the Tops in Education logo. Sales of that bag support the Tops in Education program, which has raised more than $1.2 million for area school services.

Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops Markets LLC has 150 supermarkets, including five franchise stores, and employs more than 14,000 associates in New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont. The banner’s parent company, Northeast Grocery Inc., is No. 45 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


KeHE Offers Smart Shelf Tags to Suppliers

Smart shelf tag

To provide shoppers with more information at the point of sale, KeHE Distributors LLC is adding smart shelf tags that deliver instant digital content on in-store products.

The natural and organic, specialty, and fresh product distributor is teaming up with Cornerstone Consulting to incorporate “hyperdynamic” QR codes that offer capabilities beyond standard QR codes. While consumers can access relevant information quickly, suppliers can share promotional offers, nutrition information, traceability details, videos, images and more. The tags also benefit retailers, which don’t have to source, manage or update content.

“We’re in a new era of consumer access, and we want to empower our suppliers and retailers to deliver what customers want – instant information about an item on the shelf,” said Katie Paul,  SVP of merchandising at Naperville, Ill.-based KeHE. “We’re thrilled to offer this technology to our partners as we work together to innovate the in-store experience.” 

Added Dave Boos, president of Tampa, Fla.-based Cornerstone Consulting, “The best way to immediately reach a consumer is offering them the information they need the moment they see your product.”


Alibaba Exploring IPO for Grocery Business

Alibaba HQ

Chinese e-comm giant Alibaba Group is looking to take its grocery unit public and divesting its cloud computing business in the wake of slower spending and lower-than-expected revenues during its latest quarter. Its core online business will remain private.

Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang confirmed that the board of directors had approved plans to begin the initial public offering (IPO) process for Alibaba’s Freshippo grocery arm. The IPO should be completed in the next six to 12 months.

“In an increasingly complex world, we have proactively transformed our organization to strengthen the competitiveness of our businesses through greater independence to address the evolving needs of different customers and capture new opportunities,” Zhang said.

The move comes as global economic pressures continue to mount. Alibaba reported a 2% gain in revenue to top USD $29.6 billion during the period ending March 31, which was lower than analyst estimates. Revenue from its commerce business in China dipped 3% during Q1. That said, the company noted that Freshippo netted positive operating reports and continues to improve its operating efficiencies and merchandising capabilities.

As a testament to the resilience of the grocery unit, Freshippo also revealed this week that its planning to create eight procurement centers to bring more groceries into the Chinese market. The company signed agreements with 13 retail groups, global associations and brands, including the U.S.-based berry producer Driscoll's. There are more than 270 self-operated Freshippo stores in China.


Hannaford Acquires Community Pharmacy in Blue Hill, Maine

Hannaford Watertown Maine Teaser

Hannaford Supermarkets has reached an agreement to purchase Community Pharmacy, in Blue Hill, Maine. The pharmacy, located inside the new Hannaford store that formerly operated under the Tradewinds Marketplace banner, will begin operations as a Hannaford pharmacy on Monday, June 12.

The grocer is buying the business from Joe Bruno, owner of Augusta, Maine-based Community Pharmacies, which has served Blue Hill customers for 17 years. Bruno will retain ownership of Community Pharmacies’ eight other locations.

As a Hannaford pharmacy, the facility will be open the same hours as previously: Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The pharmacy will employ seven associates, all of whom will make the transition from the Community Pharmacy team to Hannaford.

[Read more: "Hannaford’s Store Manager of the Year Focuses on Community, Friendly Work Environment"]

“We’ve received such a warm welcome from the Blue Hill community and are excited to extend the Hannaford experience to the pharmacy, where customers will continue to receive compassionate care and personalized service from the trusted health professionals who have helped them maintain good health over the years,” noted Blue Hill Hannaford Store Manager Patrick Doak. “Our skilled and knowledgeable pharmacy staff, many of whom customers will be familiar with from Community Pharmacy, are committed to ensuring a seamless and positive transition.”

The acquisition follows the formal opening of Hannaford’s store in Blue Hill on May 12.

Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford operates 186 stores in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont and employs nearly 30,000 associates. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Big Y Express to Open 2 Connecticut Locations


Big Y Foods Inc. will open its 16th and 17th Big Y Express Fuel and Convenience locations at 580 Main Street in Somers, Conn., and at 241 Hazard Avenue in Enfield Conn., respectively. Both stores are scheduled to reopen under the Big Y Express banner on July 15, bringing the total number of these locations in Connecticut to six.

The new Big Y Express locations will each offer eight pumping positions, each with 87, 89 and 93 octane fuel and diesel, as well as a free air machine for tire inflation. Fuel discounts are available every day for myBigY members. Additional amenities include Big Y’s Wide Awake bean-to-cup fresh coffee, along with such grab-and-go items as milk, cold drinks and snacks. The company is currently hiring for management and select part-time positions at the Somers and Enfield locations.

[Read more: “Big Y Getting Ready to Launch New-Concept Store in Massachusetts”]

“We are always looking to bring our customers even more, especially during these challenging times,” noted Big Y President and CEO Charles L. D’Amour. “We are excited to not only help our customers save on their fueling needs, but also make life easier by offering quick convenience items that our customers can grab on the run.”

The first Big Y Express store opened in 2013 in Lee, Mass.

Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y is one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England. Big Y operates locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, including supermarkets, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors, and Big Y Express gas and convenience locations, with more than 10,000 employees. The company is No. 72 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Driscoll’s Hires Product Leadership Exec

Aaron Brookes

Driscoll's has appointed Aaron Brookes to fill the role of senior director of product leadership new products. He will coordinate the development, testing, deployment and scaling of new berry segments and work closely with the business team to develop strategies that meet both consumer and company needs.

Brookes is an industry veteran who brings more than two decades of CPG and ag experience to his new role. Before joining Driscoll’s, he was director of sales, marketing and product development for organic farming operation Jacobs Farm del Cabo. During his career, he has also served in marketing and sales positions at Nike and Giro.

[Read more: "Lakeside Foods Shores Up Leadership Team"]

 “I look forward to Aaron’s contributions to help our company adapt our product portfolio to meet the changing needs of the marketplace,” said Brie Reiter Smith, VP of product leadership at Driscoll’s.

Based in Watsonville, Calif., Driscoll’s is a leading producer of fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The supplier works with more than 900 independent growers around the world and has developed several exclusive patented berry varieties using natural breeding methods.