Mickey Blazer, EVP of pharmacy, fuel and convenience stores for Food City’s retail grocery chain was recently named 2023 Retailer of the Year by Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association (TGCSA). The award recognizes the outstanding Tennessee retailer who exemplifies the high standards of integrity and efficiency upon which the organization was founded.
The Nashville-based trade organization’s primary function is to educate and promote the welfare of its business members, which are comprised of retail grocery, convenience, and food industry suppliers throughout the state of Tennessee. Blazer received his award during the recent TGCSA annual convention in Sevierville, Tenn.
Blazer joined the Food City team in 1977, serving in numerous management roles, including EVP of operations for Food City’s Knoxville and Chattanooga divisions. Blazer is currently responsible for the oversight of fuel and pharmacy operations for Food City’s 150 retail locations, which includes 119 pharmacies, 116 fuel centers and five convenience stores.
He served on the Governor of Virginia’s Prescription Drug and Heroin Task Force Subcommittee and as chairman of the Topco Managed Care Review Committee. In 2018, he traveled with the National Grocers Association Grassroots Committee to Washington, D.C., where he represented grocery pharmacy at the White House by addressing the important role community pharmacy plays in the nation’s health care system.
Blazer currently serves on the board of directors for TGCSA and is a member the organization’s Legislative Committee. He also chairs the FMI – The Food Industry Association’s Pharmacy Subgroup.
It’s summer, and the produce-buying time is easy – at least for Giant Food customers in the Washington, D.C. area. The grocer is bringing back its local produce boxes filled with seasonal produce sourced from farms in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware.
Selling for $22.99, the boxes are sold through the Giant Delivers program from now through September, or while supplies last. At least eight varieties of produce will be available and items will vary each week depending on harvests.
"The Local Produce Boxes continue to be highly successful and are an exciting offering for our customers looking for fresh produce sourced from farms throughout their local community," said Adenike Olaleye, senior manager of e-commerce merchandising at Giant Food. "We're thrilled to be able to offer these specially curated produce boxes for the third year in a row to provide our customers with an expanded variety of the best seasonal produce options week after week."
Based in Landover, Md., Giant Foodoperates 165 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, with approximately 20,000 associates. Included within its stores are 153 full-service pharmacies, more than 80 full-service PNC Banks and 29 Starbucks locations. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
Wakefern Brings on VP, Controller for Financial Services
Retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. has hired Parul Aggarwal to serve as VP, controller for Wakefern Financial Services. Aggarwal will oversee accounting operations, payroll, tax and compliance for the services company and report to Wakefern CFO Neil Falcone.
In her new role, Aggarwal will also head external financial reporting, including quarterly consolidations and financial statements, annual audited financial statements, and compliance. Prior to joining Wakefern, Aggarwal served as senior finance manager for Mondelēz International, and also previously held finance roles at Reckitt Benckiser, General Mills Canada and Kellogg’s Canada.
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 company is No. 29 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
Flagstone Foods Acquires Emerald Nuts From Campbell
Healthy snack manufacturer Flagstone Foods has acquired Emerald Nuts from Campbell Soup Co. Over its almost 20-year history, Emerald has been known for items such as grab-and-go 100 calorie packs and assorted glazed nut products.
Minneapolis-based Flagstone Foods is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of private label snack nuts and trail mixes in North America. The company operates three plants, located in Robersonville, N.C.; El Paso, Texas; and Dothan, Ala. Flagstone's more than 800 team members source, process, package and distribute nuts, trail mixes, and other wholesome snacks to retail customers across the country. The company was acquired by Atlas Holdings in 2019 and in late 2022 hired CEO Harry Overly to accelerate the company's growth as a snacking solutions provider.
"Flagstone Foods has long been trusted by the nation's premier retailers to provide the highest quality snacks,” said Overly. “Emerald has been providing high-quality branded snack nuts since 2004 and is now the go-to option for consumers seeking better-for-you snacking on the go. Adding Emerald Nuts to our portfolio establishes a new avenue for Flagstone to service our customers with innovative snack products and unites two industry leaders with a shared commitment to the highest levels of product quality and innovation. Our Flagstone team is excited to welcome Emerald as a transformative acquisition to our portfolio and we're looking forward to continuing to drive growth for both Flagstone and our retail partners."
Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP served as legal advisor and Piper Sandler & Co. served as financial advisor to Flagstone.
Claiming to be the first indoor grower to offer salads with chicken, Local Bounti Corp. is rolling out two new grab-and-go kits. Select grocery stores in the Pacific Northwest will begin to carry Artisanal Chicken Caesar and Memphis Style BBQ Chicken salad kits in June, according to the Hamilton, Mont.-based indoor ag company.
Local Bounti uses a technology it calls “stack and flow” to provide sustainable, fresh produce on a year-round basis. The company’s lettuce varieties are used as a base for the new ready-to-eat salads with protein, which are made with other natural ingredients like antibiotic-free white meat chicken and fresh lemon.
"We doubled down on the incredible consumer demand for our existing Grab & Go Salad Kits by combining the same state-of-the-art growing techniques with chef-inspired flavors to offer two brand new and innovative products. We believe our Artisanal Chicken Caesar and Memphis Style BBQ Chicken salad kits will be a hit with consumers who are looking for fresh and convenient meal options that are also a good source of protein,” said Brian Cook, Local Bounti president.
Even as the grower is readying the new chicken salads, Local Bounti is planning more additions to the line in the coming months. The company continues to service more than 10,000 retail locations with greens grown in controlled-environment facilities that use 90% less land and 90% less water than conventional farming methods.
As H-E-B continues to build stores in the increasingly competitive Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Texas grocer is scaling up on the fulfillment side, too. The company is set to open a new e-commerce fulfillment center in Plano, as part of a hub and spoke system that will serve the growing number of physical H-E-B stores in the Metroplex.
Spanning more than 55,000 square feet, the fulfillment center is part of the H-E-B store in Plano that opened in November 2022. When it opens later this summer, the site will use automated systems, including robots on a grid setup, to pick orders for curbside and delivery. In addition to serving current stores in Plano and Frisco, the center will eventually fill orders for other planned stores in the towns of McKinney, Allen and Frisco.
This is the first e-commerce fulfillment center for H-E-B in North Texas, which operates five other facilities in the state.