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April 10, 2018

Kroger Family of Stores Hiring 11,000 Employees

Company Has Created Nearly 100,000 American Jobs Since 2007

 The Kroger Co. recently announced that its family of stores is hiring to fill an estimated 11,000 positions in its supermarket divisions, including nearly 2,000 management positions.
 Interested candidates are encouraged to apply at jobs.kroger.com.
 The Kroger family of stores created 10,000 new jobs in 2017 and 12,000 in 2016. These figures do not include jobs created as a result of capital investment, such as temporary construction jobs, nor do they include increases due to the company's mergers. Kroger and its subsidiaries today employ nearly half a million associates.
 "Over the last decade, Kroger has added 100,000 new jobs in communities across America," said Tim Massa, Kroger's Group Vice President of Human Resources and labor relations. "In addition to fueling the U.S. economy, many of our supermarket jobs are an opportunity for associates to grow and advance their careers."
 In addition to job creation, Kroger is investing an incremental $500 million in associate wages, training and development over the next three years, as part of Restock Kroger. Last month in Cincinnati, for example, Kroger associates ratified a labor agreement with the UFCW 75 that set the stage for starting wage and overall wage increases in multiple markets across the country. The agreement raised starting wages to at least $10 per hour, and accelerated wage progressions to $11 an hour after one year of service, for associates in the Cincinnati/Dayton division.
 Kroger has also committed to invest a significant portion of the tax benefit it received from the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in associates' future, which the company plans to announce in detail this month.
 "Kroger is a place where you can come for a job and stay for a career," Mr. Massa added. "We are committed to creating great entry-level jobs and investing in our associates so they can reach their full potential."



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April 2, 2018

My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream Launches Ice Cream Pints and Vegan Frozen Dessert

 My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream has announced the launch of two new lines, My/Mo Ice Cream with Mochi Bits and My/Mo Cashew Cream Frozen Dessert.
MY/MO ICE CREAM WITH MOCHI BITS (SRP $5.99) - Mochi lovers rejoice: there’s a new way to enjoy your favorite combination of sweet mochi dough and rich ice cream. An extension of the brand’s commitment to offering creative and colorful snacking options, My/Mo Ice Cream with Mochi Bits brings innovation to the ice cream pint category and provides consumers with a new opportunity to snack on ice cream. Each carefully crafted pint contains a miraculous match of mouthwatering ice cream surrounding pillowy pieces of sweet rice mochi. The new pint-size treats are available in five flavor varieties: Strawberry, Mango, Green Tea, Chocolate and Salted Caramel.
MY/MO CASHEW CREAM FROZEN DESSERT (SRP $6.99) - My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream’s new vegan frozen dessert answers consumers’ demands for a dairy-free alternative to their colorful, pop-able and portable snacks. My/Mo Mochi Cashew Cream Frozen Dessert is a carefully crafted vegan treat made with a scoop of premium dairy-free cashew cream, wrapped in delectably soft rice dough. The new 6-pack boxes are available in four flavor varieties and each ball is only 100 calories each! The four new additions will hit retail shelves soon, with flavors including: Strawberry, Vanilla, Chocolate and Salted Caramel.



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March 16, 2018

Southeastern Grocers Initiates Financial Restructuring

• 582 stores to continue operating in the ordinary course; 94 stores will close.
• All general unsecured claims, including supplier partners and trade creditors, to be paid in full in ordinary course.


 Southeastern Grocers has entered into a Restructuring Support Agreement with a group of creditors collectively holding 80% of its 8.625%/9.375% Senior PIK Toggle Notes due September 2018 and its private equity sponsor regarding the terms of a comprehensive financial restructuring that will position the company for long-term financial health. SEG will continue operating throughout this process, and the company's associates remain focused on exceeding the needs of customers and consistently delivering great service, quality and value in SEG's stores.
 Anthony Hucker, President and Chief Executive Officer of SEG, said, "The agreement is an important step in Southeastern Grocers' transformation to put our company in the best position to succeed in the extremely competitive retail market in which we do business. With a foundation built on iconic, heritage banners, and with the strong support of our leadership team, we will work through this process as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are excited to emerge with the optimal store footprint and greater financial flexibility to invest in Southeastern Grocers' growth."
 Consummating the transactions contemplated under the RSA is expected to significantly strengthen the company's balance sheet. The restructuring will decrease overall debt levels by over $500 million and maintain the company's strong liquidity position under the new post-emergence Revolving Credit Facility. The significant reduction in debt will result in reduced interest expense, allowing the company to invest more cash flow back into the business in the form of increased capital expenditures for store remodels and new stores.
 Hucker continued, "Southeastern Grocers is faced with a critical milestone in its transformation and we have made choices for our future and long-term growth potential. We conducted a thorough review of our strategic options and determined that this financial restructuring is in the best interests of our associates, customers, supplier partners and the communities in which we serve. Southeastern Grocers is a strong, viable business and is building momentum with robust performance and new store concepts that resonate with our associates, customers and communities. This course of action enables us to continue writing the story for our company and our iconic, heritage banners in the Southeast.”
Under the terms of the proposed restructuring:
 • The company's outstanding secured debt obligations, including its Secured Notes and the 2014 Revolving Credit Facility, will be paid in full.
 • The company has secured 100% committed exit financing in the form of a senior secured six-year term loan facility in the original principal amount of $525 million and an asset-based lending (ABL) revolving credit facility.
 • The Unsecured Notes will be cancelled in exchange for 100% of equity in the reorganized company.
 • Holders of general unsecured claims, including supplier partners, contract counterparties, and all other trade creditors will receive payment in full on account of existing obligations in the ordinary course of business.
 • The holder of the company's existing equity will receive a five-year warrant (subject to dilution) and certain global settlement consideration.
 • 582 stores will continue to operate throughout the company's footprint. 94 stores will close, many of which will have their related leases rejected and lease rejection claims rendered unimpaired.
 The company plans to implement the terms of the proposed financial restructuring by soliciting votes from holders of its Unsecured Notes and holders of its existing equity on a pre-packaged plan of reorganization and commencing voluntary cases under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware by the end of March.
 With a deleveraged balance sheet and an optimal store base, the company will be able to focus its resources on stores with the greatest potential for growth and improve the financial health of the overall business.
 Hucker remarked, "We expect our financial health and free cash flow to improve in the newly reorganized company, and although the restructuring contemplates certain store closings, SEG is committed to ensuring that all associates continue to be treated with the utmost dignity, respect and compassion. We will continue every day to provide our associates with a great place to work and our customers with a store experience they can count on. On behalf of the Southeastern Grocers leadership team, I want to thank our many talented associates for their dedication and loyalty in serving our customers and community day in and day out."



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March 15, 2018

SUPERVALU Plans to Exit Farm Fresh Banner

Company Agrees to Sell 21 Stores with Plans to Sell More

 Supervalu Inc. has entered into three separate definitive agreements to sell 21 of its 38 Farm Fresh Food & Pharmacy (“Farm Fresh”) stores for approximately $43 million in cash to three different retailers: Harris Teeter, Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division, and Food Lion. Supervalu is also continuing discussions and exploring potential transactions to sell the remaining Farm Fresh stores to current and prospective wholesale customers and certain Farm Fresh employees.
 “Over the past two years, we’ve been working diligently and rapidly to transform our business to become the wholesale supplier of choice for grocery retailers across the United States,” said Mark Gross, Supervalu’s President and CEO. “In 2016, we sold Save-A-Lot and its network of approximately 1,350 retail locations. Last year, we acquired Unified Grocers and Associated Grocers of Florida, which when combined with substantial organic growth, added more than $5 billion in run rate sales to bring our core wholesale business to nearly $13 billion. Exiting the Farm Fresh banner will enable us to allocate greater resources and energy toward the strategic growth of our wholesale business. We also continue to aggressively pursue other important initiatives, including the monetization of real estate through sale leaseback transactions and cost reduction across the company. We are confident our efforts are driving growth and enhancing our competitive position.”
 Gross continued, “This decision was not taken lightly given the impact on our employees and the communities we serve, but we strongly believe this decision is in the best long-term financial and strategic interest of our business. Our leadership team and board of directors remain committed to taking proactive steps to transform our business and drive stockholder value.”
 “We are thankful for the tremendous service our employees have delivered at Farm Fresh through the years, and are grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to share in the lives and special events of our customers and employees across the Hampton Roads, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Elizabeth City communities,” said Anne Dament, Executive Vice President, Retail, Marketing and Private Brands. “We are working with the buyers to ensure a smooth transition and we expect them to offer positions to many Farm Fresh employees. In addition, we plan to offer eligible employees severance and other job transition support.”
 In summary, the agreements provide for:
• Ten stores being sold to Harris Teeter, including six in-store pharmacies and three fuel centers.
• Eight stores being sold to Kroger Mid-Atlantic Division, including eight in-store pharmacies and four fuel centers.
• Three stores being sold to Food Lion, including three in-store pharmacies.
 The transactions, which were unanimously approved by Supervalu’s board of directors, are currently expected to close in May 2018, subject to customary closing conditions. Supervalu is also working with a third party to liquidate the inventory at these Farm Fresh stores.
 With regards to Farm Fresh pharmacies not included in these three sale transactions, Supervalu has entered into agreements to transfer pharmacy prescription files to other pharmacies in the area. Prescription files from ten pharmacies will be transferred to Rite Aid and four to CVS Pharmacy.
 Founded in 1957, Farm Fresh has served Virginia and North Carolina for 60 years, and today employs approximately 3,300 associates.



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March 9, 2018

Retail Jobs Increased by Over 46,000 in February

 Retail industry employment increased by 46,400 jobs in February over January, the National Retail Federation says. The number excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. Overall, the economy added 313,000 jobs, the Labor Department said.
 “This substantial gain in retail jobs is a significant positive sign regarding the health and viability of the industry,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “It is stronger than expected and there were broad gains across most retail sectors. Beyond retail, labor markets continued to strengthen in all industries in February, and more jobs throughout the economy will mean more consumers shopping in retail stores. With tax reform in effect, consumer confidence increasing and strong underlying economic fundamentals, 2018 is off to a good start and we expect a prosperous year ahead.”
 The February increase was more than four times the gain of 10,800 jobs seen in January over December. The three-month moving average in February showed an increase of 10,600 jobs.
 General merchandise stores were up by 17,700 jobs, fueled mostly by gains at warehouse and supercenter stores, while clothing and accessories stores were up by 14,900 jobs and building materials stores were up by 10,300 jobs. There were declines totaling 5,400 jobs spread across health and personal care, sporting goods and miscellaneous stores.
 Kleinhenz noted that retail job numbers reported by the Labor Department do not provide an accurate picture of the industry because they count only employees who work in stores while excluding retail workers in other parts of the business such as corporate headquarters, distribution centers, call centers and innovation labs.
 Economy-wide, average hourly earnings in February increased by 68 cents – 2.6 percent – year over year. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, unchanged for the fifth straight month.



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February 28, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day Spending to Hit Record $5.9 Billion

 Americans plan to spend a record $5.9 billion to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That’s the highest level in the survey’s 14-year history, up from last year’s previous record of $5.3 billion.
 “With winter hopefully winding down over the next few weeks, consumers are ready to start celebrating spring with St. Patrick’s Day,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “The holiday falls on a Saturday this year, so Americans will have more time to splurge a little as they get together with friends and loved ones for a day of festivities.”
 The survey found over 149 million U.S. adults plan to celebrate the March 17 Irish holiday, up from last year’s approximate 139 million. Consumers are expected to spend an average of $39.65 per person, up from last year’s previous record of $37.92. The holiday is most popular among individuals 18-24 years old, with 77 percent celebrating, but those 35-44 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $45.76.
 According to the survey, 83 percent of those celebrating will wear green, 31 percent plan to make a special dinner and 27 percent will head to a party at a bar or restaurant. Twenty-seven percent will also decorate their homes or offices in an Irish theme and 16 percent will attend a private party. In addition, 15 percent plan to attend a St. Patrick’s Day parade and 9 percent will host a party.
  “Compared to other spending holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is less about giving gifts and more about having fun with friends and family regardless of the budget,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “With more Americans celebrating the shamrock-filled day, we expect consumers will enjoy their favorite green beverage and apparel, attend events around their community and decorate their homes with lucky four-leaf clovers.”
 The survey found 50 percent will purchase food, 41 percent beverages, 31 percent apparel or accessories, 26 percent decorations and 16 percent candy. Of those making purchases, 38 percent will go to grocery stores, 31 percent to discount stores, 20 percent to department stores and 19 percent to bars or restaurants.



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February 16, 2018
■ Kingston-Miami Trading Company President

Patrick Cha-Fong to Meet with President Trump and Nation’s Leaders

Palm Beach Forum to Focus on Vision to ‘Make America Great Again’

 Kingston-Miami Trading Company President Patrick Cha-Fong (pictured) has been invited to participate in a program and reception with President Donald Trump and top Republican Party leaders at a gathering to be held, Saturday, March 3, at The Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
 This tight-knit gathering of the nation’s top leaders will provide a unique opportunity for those in attendance to sit down and discuss how to continue moving the Republican Party forward and further advance President Trump’s vision to Make America Great Again.
 A prominent member of the Food Industry, Cha-Fong and his wife Christine, founded the Miami-based leader in Caribbean and ethnic foods 35-years ago. The company has grown to become a world leader within its ever-expanding category. Cha-Fong’s Jamaican/Chinese/Canadian/American heritage is a strong asset by which his attendance at the event reflects the diversity within today’s business world.
  “I look forward to discussing with the President and others gathered for this event my ideas and those of others who have come together with the mutual goal of how to make America great, again.” Cha-Fong told TODAY’S GROCER.
 Cha-Fong had been active in politics for many years prior to (then) President Ronald Regan conferring on him life-membership in the Republican National Committee in 1980. In addition to his membership in the RNC, today, Cha-Fong, is a member of President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Board.
 President Trump has gone on record as saying that he considers Cha-Fong’s support vitally important to the Party winning in 2018 and promoting the President’s policies that will create a safer, stronger and more prosperous country.
 Cha-Fong has a long history of both personal and business success. His is truly an American success story. Within the world of finance, Cha-Fong is believed to be among a select, small group of individuals that can boast the highest credit scores. Cha-Fong achieved, six times running, a FICO Score of 850, the highest achievable rating.
 Kingston-Miami Trading Company distributes many of the leading brands within the all-important gourmet/ethnic niche: Jamaican Country Style, Caribbean Exotic Gourmet, Mrs. Chris, Sak Pasé, Chef Pearl Chang, Lion of Judah, Jamaicaway, and a number of highly-popular nationally branded products. K-MT products can be found across the United States and throughout the Caribbean. They are sold by many of the leading retailers and are available online via Amazon.



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February 15, 2018

Goya Foods Named an Official Sponsor of South Beach Food & Wine Festival

 For the seventh consecutive year, Goya Foods, Inc. will participate in the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF). Also for the seventh year in a row, the company will serve as the Official Latin Foods Provider and reprise its role as the title sponsor of the Grand Tasting Village for the third year running. This year, Goya will expand its participation in the festival by becoming The Official Spice and Olive Oil Partner. Festival-goers will now be able to experience Goya Foods in more ways throughout the event.
 Goya's lineup of celebrity chefs will delight attendees with their culinary prowess. Participating chefs include Fernando Desa, Goya's executive chef; Jose Mendín, executive chef of Food Comma Hospitality Group; Richard Ingraham, personal chef to Dwyane Wade; and Sean Brasel, executive chef and owner of Meat Market.
 Throughout the five-day festival – which runs from Wednesday through Sunday, February 21-25, 2018 – Goya Foods invites guests to experience the mouthwatering variety of its Latin American products.
 "Goya wants everyone, from the expert chef to the home cook, to enjoy authentic Latin recipes that are both delicious and easy to make," said Frank Unanue, President of Goya Foods of Florida. "With the wide selection of Goya products available, it's easy to stretch the imagination and combine new flavors to create dishes that are uniquely yours, and fun to eat."  Goya will delight guests with the brand's authentic Hispanic flavors during three signature events throughout the Festival:
GOYA FOODS' GRAND TASTING VILLAGE FEATURING MASTERCARD GRAND TASTING TENTS & KITCHENAID CULINARY DEMONSTRATIONS (Friday, February 23 – Sunday, February 25):
• As a culinary captain, Goya's Executive Chef Fernando Desa will open Goya Foods' "Savory Studios" activation at the Goya Foods Grand Tasting Village, which runs Friday, February 23 - Sunday, February 25. Chef Desa is responsible for the research and development of new products and recipes for the family-owned company. This year, Chef Desa will serve delectable Goya recipes dreamt up exclusively for the event: Crunchy Pork Belly Taco, Tuna Tataki Tostada and Red Bean Crème Brûlée. On Sunday, Chef Desa will partner with one of Miami's elite Chefs, Jose Mendin, Executive Chef and Co-founder of Food Comma Hospitality Group, who will showcase a Bao with Lechon.
FUN AND FIT AS A FAMILY FEATURING THE GOYA FOODS' KIDZ KITCHEN (Saturday, February 24 - Sunday, February 25):
• For junior chefs, Fun and Fit as a Family featuring Goya Foods Kidz Kitchen offers family-friendly fun including healthy food tastings, physical fitness activities, and star-studded healthy cooking demonstrations. Chef Ingraham, personal chef to basketball superstar Dwyane Wade, will serve as the emcee and introduce the astounding lineup of chefs presenting cooking demos at the Goya Foods Kidz Kitchen. Chef Ingraham, in collaboration with Chef Desa, will participate in a live interactive food demonstration to kick-off the Goya Foods' Kidz Kitchen on Saturday. Throughout the event, Chefs Desa and Ingraham will prepare black bean quesadillas that will be served from Goya's outpost at Fun and Fit.
GOYA FOODS' SWINE, WINE & SPIRITS (Sunday, February 25):
• Bringing the five-day festival to a close, Goya will once again take over the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables for the Goya Foods' Swine, Wine & Spirits presented by The National Pork Board and hosted by Giorgio Rapicavoli. Goya's Chef Desa will partner with Sean Brasel, executive chef and owner of Meat Market, to prepare different variations of pork dishes. These master chefs promise to once again craft iconic creations such as chili rubbed pork belly and seared pork rib and pork cheek.



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February 12, 2018

Café Bustelo El Café del Futuro Scholarship Now Open for 2018 Applications

$50,000 in College Scholarships will be Awarded to Latino Students

 Café Bustelo is partnering with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to launch the fifth-annual Café Bustelo El Café del Futuro Scholarship. Eligible U.S. students can submit their application for the opportunity to receive one of ten $5,000 scholarships. All eligible applications must be received by Friday, May 25, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. ET, and recipients will be announced on or about September 15, 2018.
 Café Bustelo is asking students of Latino descent to submit an application that includes an 800-words or less essay in English or Spanish describing how their heritage, family, and community have impacted their desire and motivation to obtain a college degree; how they plan to give back to their community; and what they intend to accomplish with their degree.
 In its fifth year, the Café Bustelo El Café del Futuro Scholarship has awarded $180,000 in college scholarships to 36 Latino students nationwide. In 2017, more than 1,000 eligible entries were received. The selected essays conveyed how heritage and culture have driven students' pursuit of higher education and betterment of their communities. The scholarship maintains founder Gregorio Bustelo's passion and tradition of reinvesting in local communities and celebrating Latino cultural values. Café Bustelo proudly continues the tradition of supporting communities that have enjoyed its coffee in their homes for nearly a century.
 To apply for the scholarship and to review the Guidelines, visit the HACU website at https://www.hacu.net/hacu/Scholarships.asp



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February 7, 2018

Russell Stover Chocolates is Saving Relationships this Valentine’s Day

“Valentine’s Day SOS Van” Hits Downtown Chicago in Collaboration with Walgreens

 Russell Stover Chocolates will hit the streets of Chicago on Valentine’s Day to rescue the relationships of last-minute gifters facing the possible fallout of greeting spouses or sweethearts empty-handed.
 On Wednesday, February 14, Kansas City, Mo.-based Russell Stover Chocolates, Number one in Valentine’s Day chocolate sales, will deploy its “Valentine’s Day SOS Van”—a specially wrapped 1960 International Harvester Metro—in the Richard J. Daley Plaza in Downtown Chicago, where brand ambassadors will hand out free 14-ounce heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and dollar-off coupons for Russell Stover Chocolates valid at select Walgreens locations throughout Chicago.
 “No one wants to disappoint their special someone by showing up empty-handed on Valentine’s Day, but life can be hectic and people sometimes forget. To rescue folks from their gift-giving emergencies, the Russell Stover Chocolates team and our Valentine’s Day SOS Van will be at the ready,” said Hilary Butler, Russell Stover Chocolates Brand Manager. “When it comes to Valentine’s Day gifting, there’s just no substitute for the iconic Russell Stover heart-shaped box of chocolates.”
 A paid social media campaign and a mainstream media relations effort will help drive consumer awareness and foot traffic to Daley Plaza and spark engagement with the Russell Stover Chocolates brand.
 Russell Stover chose Daley Plaza for its highly visible central location in the Chicago Loop and the fact that a dozen Walgreens stores, where coupons can be redeemed, are within easy walking distance.
 “Russell Stover Chocolates is here for the man on the go, and we’re helping him on a day when he may find himself in crisis mode,” adds Butler. “Better still, we’ve joined forces with our friends at Walgreens to offer him a special deal on chocolates should he find himself in a relationship jam on one of the other 364 days of the year.”
 “We know that Valentine’s Day can sneak up on everyone. Fortunately, Walgreens offers accessible locations throughout Chicagoland, so shoppers can rely on us to get in and out with just what they need,” said Dana Capaccio, Manager, Retail Marketing. “We’re here to help ensure our customers never have to show up to a Valentine’s Day celebration empty handed!”
 An estimated 70 million Americans will give the gift of chocolate or candy for Valentine’s Day, and 94 percent of Americans want to receive chocolate or candy for Valentine’s Day—more than any other traditional gift associated with the holiday, according to the National Confectioners Association.
 More than 40 percent of people say a heart-shaped box makes the gift even sweeter, and 43 percent of people say they plan to buy themselves a box of chocolate to celebrate.
 Americans will purchase more than 58 million pounds of chocolate and 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candies in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.



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February 3, 2018

Consumers to Spend Near-Record $19.6 Billion on Valentine’s Day

 U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average $143.56 on Valentine’s Day as 55 percent of the population celebrates this year, an increase from last year’s $136.57, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion, up from $18.2 billion last year. The numbers are the second-highest in the survey’s 15-year history, topped only by the record $146.84 and $19.7 billion seen in 2016.
 “Americans are looking forward to pampering and indulging their loved ones with flowers, candy, dinner and all of the other Valentine’s Day stops,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “With the holidays behind them and the winter months dragging along, consumers are looking for something to celebrate this time of year.”
 This year’s survey found consumers plan to spend an average $88.98 on their significant other/spouse ($12.1 billion), $25.29 on other family members such as children or parents ($3.5 billion), $7.26 on children’s classmates/teachers ($991 million), $7.19 on friends ($982 million), $5.50 on pets ($751 million) and $4.79 on co-workers ($654 million). Those 25-34 will be the biggest spenders at an average of $202.76.
 Those celebrating Valentine’s Day plan to spend $4.7 billion on jewelry (given by 19 percent), $3.7 billion on an evening out (35 percent), $2 billion on flowers (36 percent), $1.9 billion on clothing (17 percent), $1.5 billion on gift cards/gift certificates (15 percent) and $894 million on greeting cards (46 percent). More consumers plan on purchasing candy this year, with 55 percent (up from 50 percent) saying they will give gifts of candy for a total of $1.8 billion. “Gifts of experience” such as tickets to a concert or sporting event continue to be popular, sought by 42 percent of consumers, but only 24 percent plan to give one. Those 25-34 are the most likely to give such a gift at 41 percent.
Much the same as last year, consumers plan to shop at department stores (35 percent), discount stores (32 percent), online (29 percent), specialty stores (19 percent), florists (17 percent), and local small businesses (14 percent).
 Even those foregoing Valentine’s Day festivities won’t be left out. More than a quarter (27 percent) of consumers who are not observing the holiday have an alternative in mind such as treating themselves in some way or getting together with family and friends.
  “Valentine’s Day has become a holiday consumers take advantage of not only to spoil their loved ones but themselves,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “Shoppers should look out for deals on everything from candy to date-night dinner packages in the coming days, leaving plenty of options for those looking to make the occasion truly special.”



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January 31, 2018

Kroger's Simple Truth Brand Reaches $2 Billion in Annual Sales

 The Kroger Co. has announced its Simple Truth brand has achieved $2 billion in annual sales.
 "Simple Truth is a brand that has earned our customers' trust through clean labels, fantastic flavors and affordability since its launch five years ago," said Robert Clark, Kroger's Senior Vice President of Merchandising. "Simple Truth has become the second-largest brand sold in our stores, and Kroger is proud to have led the way in making this category more mainstream and accessible, feeding our customers' appetites for natural, organic and free-from products."
 Earlier this month, Kroger launched its largest-ever Our Brands customer sales promotion, featuring savings on thousands of Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic items. "If Our Brands were on the Fortune 500, it would rank number 138," Mr. Clark added. "Our Brands is shaping the way we are redefining the customer experience as outlined in our Restock Kroger plan."
 The Simple Truth brand now offers more than 1,400 unique products across multiple categories, including grocery, meat, produce, deli, bakery, baby, household essentials, personal care and Fair Trade Certified. With the help of 84.51° insights, Simple Truth will continue to innovate and introduce new items in 2018 that align with customer trends and are always affordable.
 Simple Truth products are exclusive to the Kroger Family of Stores and customers can purchase the brand in a variety of ways: in a store; through ClickList; or Vitacost.com for ship-to-home delivery.



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January 25, 2018

Big Year for the Big Game: Consumers to Spend $15.3 Billion on 2018 Super Bowl

 American adults are expected to spend an average $81.17 for a total of $15.3 billion as an estimated 188.5 million people watch the New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl next month, according to the annual survey released today by National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Projected viewership is the same as last year but total spending is up 8.5% from $14.1 billion in 2017.
 “Whether throwing their own party, heading to a friend’s house or gathering at their favorite bar or restaurant, consumers are ready to spend on the big game,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Super Bowl shoppers will find retailers well-stocked on decorations, apparel, food and all other necessities to cheer on their favorite team.”
 Of the 76 percent of those surveyed who plan to watch the game, 82 percent say they will purchase food and beverages — up slightly from 80 percent last year — and the highest in the survey’s history. Another 11 percent will buy team apparel or accessories, unchanged from 2017. New televisions and decorations hold a similar draw for those planning to watch at home, with 8 percent planning to purchase each, also unchanged. Those 25-34 will spend the most of any age group at an average of $118.43.
 According to the survey, 18 percent (45 million) will host a Super Bowl party, with 28 percent (69 million) planning to attend one. Bars and restaurants will entice 5 percent (11 million) planning to watch at their favorite local spot.
 Of those watching, 41 percent say the most important part of the Super Bowl is the game itself, while 24 percent cite the commercials, 15 percent like getting together with friends, 14 percent watch for the half-time show and 7 percent are there for the food.
 “Consumers are carrying strong spending momentum from the holiday season into their Super Bowl festivities,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “This is evident through increased plans for purchasing while the number of viewers remains steady with last year. Fans aren’t afraid to spend a few extra dollars to make this year’s game the best one yet.”
 The survey, which asked 7,277 consumers about their Super Bowl plans, was conducted January 3-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points. Full data results will not be published on NRF.com but news media and analysts who require additional information can contact press@nrf.com.



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January 18, 2018

Judith McKenna Named President and CEO of Walmart International

 Wal-Mart Stores Inc. recently announced that Judith McKenna will be promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Walmart International, the company’s second-largest operating segment. She will be succeeding David Cheesewright, who has been in role since 2014 and recently shared his desire to retire from a full-time role.
 McKenna, currently serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Walmart U.S., will assume her new role on Feb. 1, 2018, and report to Walmart President and CEO, Doug McMillon.
 “During his 19 years with the company, David has served in a number of key leadership roles in our company. He has built a reputation as an insightful strategic thinker with a track record of delivering consistent, profitable growth. He has been instrumental in strengthening our business across the globe. He’s a passionate advocate for our people, culture and purpose around the world,” McMillon said.
 Cheesewright will remain with the company full time through March and then serve the company, on a limited basis, with specific projects for a longer period of time.
  “I’ve had the pleasure to work with Judith for many years and have seen first-hand her ability to lead strategic change, build relationships with our associates and strengthen our business. It has been inspiring to see her personal growth and the results she’s driven over the years. Her integrity, high expectations and passion for the business and our associates will ensure our continued success in International,” said McMillon.
  “Being chosen to lead Walmart International truly is an honor, and I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in this part of the business,” said McKenna. “I look forward to building upon our progress to improve the experience for our customers and associates around the world.”
  McKenna’s career with Walmart began in 1996 at Asda, the company’s U.K. operation, where she served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. McKenna also served as Executive Vice President of Strategy and International Development for Walmart International. There, she led several areas, including international strategy, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, integration, global format development and purchase leverage.
 Upon moving to the Walmart U.S. division in April 2014, McKenna served as the business unit’s Chief Development Officer, where she led the strategy, development and growth of Walmart’s small format business and the partnership with Walmart.com to integrate digital commerce into the physical store presence. Several months later she was promoted to her expanded role as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Walmart U.S. with responsibilities for the company’s U.S. store operations, including more than 4,500 retail locations.
 Walmart’s International division serves more than 100 million customers every week in more than 6,200 retail units, operating outside the United States with 55 banners in 27 countries.



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January 11, 2018

Domino's CEO Patrick Doyle Plans to Leave Company in June

 President and Chief Executive Officer J. Patrick Doyle has announced his intention to depart Domino's on June 30 after more than eight years at the helm of what is now the world leader in pizza.
%nbsp;At the same time, Domino's Board of Directors announced the promotion of Richard Allison, President of Domino's International, to the role of Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Doyle; and the promotion of Russell Weiner, President of Domino's USA, to the newly-created role of Chief Operating Officer of Domino's and President of the Americas. Both appointments will be effective as of July 1.
 "One of the great honors and opportunities of my professional life was being named CEO of this incredible brand in early 2010," Doyle said. "At that time, I set three goals for myself: I wanted us to become the #1 pizza company in the world; I wanted Domino's to provide our franchisees with the best possible return on their investment by creating a dramatically better experience for our customers; and I wanted to have a Leadership Team in place that would be ready to create even better results into the future. I'm proud to say that we've accomplished all of those goals, and I will leave Domino's knowing that it is in great hands."
 Commented Domino's Chairman of the Board David Brandon: "Patrick excelled at every role he served at Domino's for more than 20 years and during the past eight, he distinguished himself as one of the best leaders in the restaurant industry. Under his leadership, the brand opened more than 5,500 stores, launched in more than a dozen new countries, and Domino's became one of the top-performing stocks of the decade. As important, though, is the fact that he developed an outstanding leadership team, which has allowed the Board to select a successor from that team."
 Richard (Ritch) Allison will officially take over as Domino's Chief Executive Officer on July 1. As President – Domino's International, Allison currently oversees more than 9,000 stores and all franchise relationships outside the United States.
 Allison joined Domino's in March 2011 as executive vice president of International, joining the brand from Bain & Company, Inc., a leading global business consulting firm, where he was partner and co-leader of Bain's restaurant practice.
 "Under Ritch's leadership, Domino's international division grew by more than 4,500 stores in more than 85 markets in six years. Domino's International has achieved 95 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth and accounts for more than one-half of the company's global retail sales," Brandon said. "The Board is confident Ritch is well-prepared to lead the company to the next level. And he could not have a more talented and capable leader than Russell Weiner to assume the critical new role of Chief Operating Officer of Domino's and President of the Americas."
 "I am honored and humbled by this opportunity, as well as the trust and faith the Board of Directors has in me to lead this incredible global brand," Allison said. "Patrick Doyle inspired us with the vision to become the world's market share leader in pizza, and we've done that. Now, we're looking to continue accelerating our growth with the support of our tremendous franchisees, managers and team members the world over. We want to become the dominant player in pizza everywhere in the world. I can't wait to get started."
 Allison received his degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and later earned an MBA from UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School, where he was named a Dean's Scholar and received the Norman Block Award. He currently serves on the Kenan-Flagler Business School Board of Advisors.
 Weiner Named Chief Operating Officer of Domino's and President of the Americas Russell Weiner, currently serving as President – Domino's USA, will take over in the newly-created role of Chief Operating Officer of Domino's and President of the Americas on July 1.
 "As we continue to globalize our business, it is important that we create synergies and centers of excellence across the Domino's system," Brandon said. "In his role as COO of Domino's, Russell will be leading this effort. As President of the Americas, he will oversee marketing, operations, store growth and development, franchise relationships, strategy and insights and e-commerce for Domino's in the Americas - markets that account for 50 percent of Domino's global retail sales."
 Weiner was responsible for the reinvention of Domino's U.S. menu, which led to record-setting sales increases and the turnaround of the Domino's brand. Weiner is also credited for the creation of Domino's "Pizza Theater" store design, the redesign of the brand logo, and creation of the DXP pizza delivery vehicle, as well as many product and technology innovation launches. "Joining Domino's as CMO in 2008 was the thrill of a lifetime for me," Weiner said. "We had an opportunity to take a 'legacy' brand that was almost 50 years old and make it fresh again. Any marketer would love to have that chance. But then to become president of the U.S. business and now, to serve as Chief Operating Officer and to lead the Americas, is an honor that is difficult to describe. I'm looking forward to working closely with Ritch as we set our sights even higher than ever."
 A graduate of Cornell University, Weiner earned his MBA in marketing and international business from the New York University Stern School of Business. He currently serves on the Board of The Clorox Company.



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December 26, 2017
■ What’s in Store 2018 —

Shopper Behavior Steers Retail Trends

 Around the globe, 2017’s more volatile economy has taken effect on retail trends. Inflation curbs consumer spending, the “Trump Effect” is increasing wages but causing cautiously optimistic consumers, and Brexit’s globalization movement are some major influencers this year. These are just some of the hundreds of findings in the What’s in Store 2018, the latest edition of the annual trends publication of the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA), and What’s in Store Online, a collection of more than 150 downloadable tables, as well as white papers and trends articles.
 Other findings in the book’s “Economy & Retail Trends” chapter include: • Key issues that could affect US retail operations in 2017, including a macro landscape, healthcare, immigration, and the “Have Not Shopper” – emphasizing U.S. income inequality as one of the biggest opportunities and challenges for food retailers.
• Private label in the United States has evolved portfolios to create uniqueness, which establishes a consumer mindset of “high-quality” or “premiumized” products. • Complete transparency makes for stronger brand loyalty, building a demand for locally-produced products.
 There is a focus on greater personalization of products to fit consumer lifestyles, such as value-added attributes (e.g., fresh, organic), positive benefits (e.g., energy, brain food), and social value (e.g., local, transparent).
 “Shopper behavior is playing a direct role in the future of the retail food industry,” said Eric Richard, Education Coordinator, IDDBA. “From store design and online shopping options to increased sustainability and transparency in the products, retailers are creating an engaging atmosphere—both brick-and-mortar and online—and expanding their product lines to attract and retain today’s sophisticated shoppers.”
 With more than 30 years of credible reporting, What’s in Store is an essential dairy-deli-supermarket foodservice-bakery-cheese resource providing vital data on the retail and market trends, growth, and category changes shaping the food industry. A secondary research report, What’s in Store is developed through both interviews with industry experts and sourcing of third-party data and trends.
 This year’s edition again features a continuous storyline to improve user efficiency and provide greater clarity for professionals needing to understand today’s retail world. Through four themes, readers gain new insights and learn about marketplace influences. They are:
• The Economy & Retail Trends
• Channels and Competition
• Consumer Lifestyles
• Eating Trends
 This themed narrative is carried into each of the product chapters: Bakery, Cheese, Dairy, and Deli. The new format, exclusive interview content, and inclusion of key insights, table interpretations, data callouts, and testimonials enable the reader to more efficiently tie back to the broader context and then dig deeper in each of the product sections.
 Additionally, What’s in Store 2018 features: redesigned tables; infographics that inform readers why the data matters; key insights; more original expert interviews; and more graphics to illustrate best-in-class examples.



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December 19, 2017
■ One of the Top News Stories of 2017

Amazon's Acquisition of Whole Foods Market

  “Alexa…acquire Whole Foods Market, please.”
 In a year when food topics related to safety and nutrition were most important to Americans, news of Amazon's Acquisition of Whole Foods Market broke through, ranking as 2017's No. 1 food news story among Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures alike, according to the Hunter Public Relations Annual Food News Study.
 Since 2003, Hunter Public Relations, a leading food and beverage marketing communications agency, has been commissioning an annual study to identify the top food news stories according to the opinions of Americans. Now in its fifteenth year, this year's food news study also set out to quantify the impact of these stories at every step of the consumer engagement continuum by measuring the influence on consumers' awareness (are the stories remembered?), consideration (do they change opinions?), intent (do they change behavior?) and advocacy (are they shared with others?).
 For the past five years, Hunter has conducted the study in partnership with Libran Research & Consulting, which surveyed 1,000 American adults and asked respondents to select the most recalled news stories of the past 12 months. The data is reviewed by key demographics, including the age cohorts of Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures.
 Amazon*, the world's largest online retailer, made major headlines on June 16, 2017 when it announced its plans to acquire Whole Foods Market. The e-retail giant, which has dabbled in brick-and-mortar store concepts over the past couple of years, agreed to acquire 460 Whole Foods Market locations in the US, Canada and the UK in a 13.7 billion-dollar deal, Amazon's biggest acquisition to date. On August 28, 2017, the deal was official and Amazon announced that all Whole Foods Market customers would immediately see lower prices across a selection of best-selling products.
 Last year's top food news story found itself back on this year's list, occupying 2017's No. 2 spot: Another Food Safety Scare at Chipotle. Chipotle's food safety issues made national news late in 2015 and continued in 2016 when norovirus affected more than 200 customers in the Boston area. In 2017, another food-borne illness outbreak affected several Chipotle patrons at an outlet near Washington, D.C., forcing the location to close temporarily and sending the chain's stock down more than six percent.
 Topics of food safety (48 percent) and food nutrition/health and wellness (35 percent) continue to be at the top of the list for most Americans. In addition to Chipotle's food safety scare taking the No. 2 spot, Nearly 2.5 Million Pounds of Tyson Chicken Products Recalled – due to misbranding and undeclared allergens on ready-to-eat breaded chicken sold to food-service customers in 30 states – came in as the No. 3 food news story of the year.
 Though according to the study, topics of food policy and politics are not generally as important to Americans as food safety, three politically-motivated stories claimed top spots this year:< br> • At No. 4, is the news coverage that ensued after Trump Took Aim at School Lunch Guidelines.  In March 2017, the Trump administration challenged Michelle Obama's agenda to promote healthy school lunches by weakening restrictions on salt and requirements for whole grains. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that school meals would no longer have to adhere to standards championed by the former first lady, granting schools more flexibility to serve foods they choose.
• At No. 6, in January 2017, President Trump Proposed Tariffs on Mexican Imports to Fund the "Wall," which would mean that Americans would have to pay a 20 percent tax on food and beverages imported from our neighbor to the south. Both before and after the 2016 election, Trump has remained steadfast about building a wall along the Mexican border, and about increasing tariffs on Mexico, as well as other countries. The administration, however, quickly backpedaled, maintaining that the tariff was just one of a few options being considered to fund the construction. News outlets and constituents alike were quick to criticize the proposed tax and the notion that the resulting funds would cover the wall's costs.
• At No. 8 (tie), President Trump rebuffed yet another one of former first lady Michelle Obama's health initiative legacies when it was announced in June 2017 that the FDA Would Delay Rollout of New Nutrition Labels, intended to help Americans eat more healthfully. The updated labels, advocated by Mrs. Obama, would have a special line for added sugars and feature calorie content in large, bold text.
 Also included in the top 10 food news stories of 2017:
• News around Restaurant Chain Delivery came in at No. 5. With the influx of third-party delivery services, restaurants assume almost no risk in testing out delivery, which means consumers can get much more than just pizza delivered to their door. Steak, anyone?
• Designed to reduce the time and stress of preparing a gourmet, home-cooked meal, Meal Kits snagged the No. 7 spot on the list and came in as the Top Food Trend Story of the Year. Research has shown that the meal-kit industry resonates most with Millennials, who tend to rationalize spending money to save time on shopping and planning, and seek sharable experiences and creations for social media. • While capturing a unicorn is said to be impossible, it's no surprise that Unicorn Food captured the No. 8 (tie) spot on this year's list. The pastel and sparkle trend broke the Internet when Starbucks introduced its limited-time-only "Unicorn Frappuccino."
• Avocado lovers, rejoice because coming in at No. 10, is the news that Avocado Prices Stabilized. California's crop size was down in the first half of the year, leading to higher prices. To counter the price incline, growers started planting more avocado trees to keep up with the demand – avocado toast! – and stabilize prices.  To summarize, the top food stories of 2017 according to the Hunter Public Relations 15th Annual Food News Study are as follows:
1. Amazon Acquires Whole Foods Market
2. Another Food Safety Scare at Chipotle
3. Nearly 2.5 Million Pounds of Tyson Chicken Products Recalled
4. Trump Takes Aim at School Lunch Guidelines
5. Restaurant Chains Now Deliver
6. Proposed Tariff on Mexican Imports to Fund "Wall" Means Americans Will Pay More for Food & Beverages
7. There's a Meal Kit for Everyone
8. (TIE) Unicorn Food is Colorful, Sparkly and Everywhere
9. (TIE) FDA Delays Rollout of New Nutrition Labels
10. Avocado Prices Stabilize
THE COMPETITIVE MEDIA LANDSCAPE
 This year, more than one-quarter of Americans across all three key age demographics feel that food and nutrition stories are very important, which is comparable to 2016 figures. However, in 2017, only 35 percent say that food and nutrition stories are more important than other types of stories – down from 41 percent in 2016 – revealing the competitive nature of today's media landscape, with politically-charged stories dominating the news cycle.
ABOUT THOSE MILLENNIALS
 Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods Market and Chipotle's new food safety scare were ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 stories, respectively, across Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures. When it came to the story that occupied the No. 3 spot, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures both agreed on Tyson's chicken recall, while Millennials ranked the emergence of unicorn food as the third most memorable food story of 2017. The study also revealed that Millennials are more often moved to change as a result of these stories and report higher levels of changed opinions across many stories, even those outside of the top three, including Restaurant Chains Now Deliver and Avocado Prices Stabilize.
IMPACT OF FOOD NEWS ON CONSIDERATION, INTENT AND ADVOCACY
 Stories that have a broader impact on the population's opinion – either positive or negative – correlate to the breakthrough power of these stories, measured by awareness, regardless of their topic. Unsurprisingly, the top stories of 2017 are also delivering the top changes of opinion among consumers. News of Amazon's Whole Foods Market purchase – this year's No. 1 story – had the highest number of Americans, especially Millennials, noting a change of opinion, trailed closely by the food safety scare at Chipotle and Tyson recall – the No. 2 and No. 3 stories, respectively.
 Similarly, the top stories of the year based on awareness are also those most likely to drive behavior changes among all consumers polled. But when looking at behavior changes, specifically among those aware of a particular news story, several nutrition and trend-related stories broke into the top 10. The Top Nutrition Story of the Year and No. 13 overall, How Much Protein is Necessary?, rose to the top at 44 percent, and Veggies Are Becoming the Star of Your Meal impacted the behavior of 41 percent of those aware. Trend-related news stories, The Rise in Korean Flavors (44 percent), The Fermented Food Trend (34 percent), and Cheers to Frosé! (30 percent) all had a substantial impact, reinforcing the connection between awareness and behavior.
 The most noted specific food behavior changes occurring this year by Americans is paying more attention to food labels, where almost one-third of Americans admit to this change. Secondary specific behavior changes include educating oneself more on food (24 percent), paying more attention to food's impact on health (24 percent), as well as to food safety (24 percent) and ingredients (23 percent). While all age groups are most likely to be paying more attention to food labels, compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers/Matures, Millennials are more likely to try new foods and flavors and change how they prepare food as a result of the top food stories. Millennials are also more likely to change their diet and how they shop and pay more attention to their impact on the environment.
 In recognition of the power of social media to fuel news sharing, for the first time this year, the study went a step further along the consumer engagement continuum to examine advocacy and the "share-ability" of food related news. This year's top stories appear to have more "water cooler" sharing potential, meaning that Americans are more open to talking about these stories with friends, family or coworkers. Those stories that broke into the top 10 for social sharing of the article itself often offer a "teachable moment," such as How Much Protein is Necessary? and Warriors Against Food Waste, as well as those with a touch of shock value, including Insect-Based Foods Rise in Popularity and The Dark Side of Food: Activated Charcoal.



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December 18, 2017
■ During Holiday Shopping

32% of Shoppers Looking for Better In-Store Customer Service

45% of Shoppers to Make Two or More Trips In-Store for Holiday Shopping Needs

 ChargeItSpot, the leading provider of cell phone charging stations for major retailers, events, and other indoor public venues, has announced the results of its “2017 Holiday Shopping Report.”
 The study asked consumers their holiday shopping habits, if they would be using their mobile devices during their trip, and how they felt about their overall shopping experience. ChargeItSpot collected responses from more than 1,000 shoppers at malls across the country using its phone charging stations. Below are the key takeaways from the study.

SHOPPERS WANT BETTER CUSTOMER SERVICE
 When shoppers were asked what could have improved their holiday shopping experience, 32% said better customer service. Other responses included cheaper items (22%), more parking (12%), better product selection (10%), and fewer crowds (6%).
 “The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for retailers,” said Douglas Baldasare, CEO and Founder of ChargeItSpot. “Holiday shopping can be hectic for both the shopper and the retailer. It is essential that retailers make sure their staff is equipped to help shoppers and make their trip more enjoyable.”
 Despite the call for better customer service, 83% of shoppers felt they had a positive holiday shopping experience, while 11% had nothing positive or negative to say about their shopping trip. Only 4% of shoppers had a negative experience.
 The majority of shoppers (34%) plan on making only one holiday shopping trip this season, while 30% plan on making three or more trips, 21% didn’t plan on making any holiday shopping trips, and 14% plan on making two trips.
 Finally, shoppers were asked how likely they were to do the remainder of their holiday shopping in-store rather than online. 75% of shoppers said it was likely, 18% were undecided, and 8% said it was unlikely.
MOBILE DEVICES CONTINUE TO PLAY A BIG ROLE
 Shoppers will use their phones for a variety of functions this holiday shopping season. Most will use them to enhance their in-store shopping experience - to find store locations (27%), find deals (18%), get or share live updates through social media (14%), compare prices (13%), access coupons (12%), make or refer to shopping lists (8%), and research products online (6%). Very few shoppers (3%) plan to use their mobile devices to make purchases directly on their devices while they are out shopping.
 “Year over year we are seeing mobile devices play a larger role in the shopper journey,” added Baldasare. “Consumers use their mobile devices before, during, and after their shopping trips to keep themselves organized and make smarter purchases. As retailers invest more and more in mobile it is important for them to empower the shopper to make the best buying decisions.”
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December 4, 2017

Borden Cheese to Award $100,000 to Send People Home for the Holidays

 There's no place like home for the holidays. This year, Borden Cheese is awarding $100,000 to be used for travel fare to help families across the country spend time together to celebrate their holiday traditions and create new cherished memories.
 Borden Cheese believes in the value of bringing family members around the table, and understands that the high cost of travel during the holiday season can often make it difficult for this to happen. That is why Borden Cheese is announcing a national contest, Borden Home for the Holidays, offering each contest winner a $500 VISA cash gift card to help pay for airfare, train tickets, rental cars or other travel expenses to help them make it home this year.
 "Families are more spread out than ever, and the costs associated with getting home can be prohibitive," said Flavia Panza, Senior Director of Marketing, Dairy Farmers of America. "What better way to spread love and joy than by ensuring people are able to be with their families and enjoy special holiday moments meant to be shared together."
 Consumers are encouraged to enter by visiting BordenHomefortheHolidays.com and sharing why it is important to them to get home this holiday season. The contest runs from Sunday, November 19, 2017 through Friday, December 8, 2017; winners will be notified on December 11, 2017. No purchase necessary to enter or win.


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November 22, 2017

Millions of Customers Tricked by Mind-Boggling Black Friday Offers

 Think it pays off to go shopping on Black Friday? Think again. According to a survey conducted by education portal BlitzResults, 81 % of all consumers state that they have been tricked by dealers in the past. An analysis of over 100 products found that 52 % of all offers made around Black Friday were actually significantly cheaper at some other time during the year.
 "Lure offers," allegedly "sold out" items, mind-boggling discounts and fine print are the typical tricks to attract customers during their Black Friday shopping mania. An online survey by BlitzResults of 4813 consumers examined which tricks the dealers regularly use to rip off customers. The study also reveals that the majority of customers have been victims of unfair sales practices in the past. "Lure offers" are the most dominant form of rip-offs, followed by exaggerated discounts.
 High double-digit discounts sound like music in our ears. But customers beware: the discounts advertised are often based on the manufacturers' suggested retail price (MSRP) or are even fantasy sums. "These sales prices are actually never paid and this applies in particular to the electronics sector," says Tim Lilling, researcher at BlitzResults.com. "The use of these prices as a reference point is misleading for customers and is used to imply extreme discounts. The research shows that discounts are in reality almost 50 % less when compared to a non-reduced offer from another retailer."
 Interestingly enough in many cases the cheapest offer was available during the summer holiday season. This is likely because most customers acquire their tech gadgets before they go on their summer vacation. The opposite is true during the months before Christmas (and hence around Black Friday). Prices rise because retailers know that customers are under pressure to buy.
 Shipping costs, handling fees, minimum order values or incomprehensibly formulated discount structures often shrink the originally promised high double-digit savings into a meager remainder.
The results of the study in detail:
• BlitzResults tracked prices of more than 100 tech gadgets such as tablets, cameras, and large household appliances over the period of one year on major online-shops in the US. While consumers have the impression that prices are slashed to a historic low level for Black Friday, only 48 % of these products are actually cheaper than at some other time during the year (54 products).
• 81 % percent of all customers state that they already been victim of a "lure offer," ending up buying more expensive items than planned.
• 67 % of all customers say they ended up buying more things then they had initially planned to buy.
• 64 % of all customers say that they bought a different item because the product they were looking for was already sold out.


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November 20, 2017

Pringles Launches First-Ever Thanksgiving Themed Flavors

Eight New Flavors Replicate Epic Turkey Day "Dinner"

  This Thanksgiving, Pringles is bringing all your holiday favorites to the snacking table with the new and exclusive, limited-edition Pringles Thanksgiving Dinner. If you can't make it home for the real feast, or just want a tasty snack while watching the game, this "dinner" is so deliciously close to the real thing, it may become part of your own tradition.
  Each Pringles Thanksgiving Dinner contains a tray (see photo) of the mouth-watering crisps fans know and love in eight new Thanksgiving themed flavors: Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Creamed Corn, Green Bean Casserole, Mac & Cheese and Pumpkin Pie.
  "Pringles are known for bold flavors and endless flavor stacking possibilities, so this holiday season we wanted to introduce snack-lovers to a new way to enjoy Thanksgiving favorites," said Kurt Simon, senior director of marketing for Pringles. "The Pringles Thanksgiving Dinner flavors, are not only new but cover every course of the real meal – from the main event, to sides and even dessert."
  For this exclusive rollout, the Pringles Thanksgiving Dinner is a pilot taste test and has only limited availability. While the dinner is not available for retail sale this season, who knows what the future of Pringles stacking and snacking will bring!


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November 14, 2017

Over 164M Consumers Plan to Shop Over Thanksgiving Weekend and Cyber Monday

  The biggest shopping weekend of the year is right around the corner and 69 percent of Americans — an estimated 164 million people — are planning to shop or considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. For the first time in survey history, the numbers include Cyber Monday in addition to Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Sunday.
  “This year, we updated our survey to more accurately capture consumer behavior throughout the entire shopping weekend — Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Consumers will benefit from competitive promotions both in stores and online lasting the course of the weekend, allowing them to find the best gifts at the lowest prices.”
  Of those considering shopping the long holiday weekend, the survey found that 20 percent plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day (32 million) but Black Friday will remain the busiest day with 70 percent planning to shop then (115 million). A substantial 43 percent are expected to shop on Saturday (71 million), with 76 percent saying they will do so specifically to support Small Business Saturday. On Sunday, 21 percent expect to shop (35 million) and 48 percent are expected to shop on Cyber Monday (78 million).
  Of those shopping, 66 percent said they’re doing so to take advantage of deals and promotions retailers will offer, while 26 percent cited the tradition of shopping over Thanksgiving weekend and 23 percent said it’s something to do over the holiday weekend. Another 23 percent said it is when they start their holiday shopping.
  According to the survey, 56 percent of Americans have already started their holiday shopping, but most still have a long way to go. Only 12 percent of consumers have completed at least half of their shopping, while only 2 percent have finished all of their holiday shopping.
  When asked what they enjoy the most about shopping during the holidays, 35 percent said it is a family tradition while 23 percent said they most enjoy holiday decorations and displays; 18 percent cited finding the perfect gift for someone.
  “While the utility of the weekend will continue to draw shoppers into stores and online to efficiently and inexpensively check off their lists, we’re also seeing consumers report tradition and the opportunity to partake in holiday cheer as reasons for shopping, too,” Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “By now, people know what sort of deals they can expect to see during the weekend and are budgeting for them accordingly, and in many cases expertly.”
  “For Gen Z, the holiday shopping weekend is a can’t-miss opportunity,” Goodfellow said. “This group overwhelmingly sees in-store shopping as a valuable way to connect with others, be it friends, family or store associates at their favorite retailers.”
  While many consumers will take advantage of deals over Thanksgiving weekend, 31 percent will refrain from shopping that weekend. Of those not planning to participate, 52 percent won’t shop because they do not enjoy the experience and 51 percent say they never shop during Thanksgiving weekend. Of those not shopping, 46 percent said nothing would change their mind but 27 percent said a good sale or discount on an item they want could get them to shop.


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November 7, 2017

Meijer Grows Online Presence

Offers Thousands of General Merchandise Items for Home Delivery

  Meijer is gearing up for the holidays by adding thousands of general merchandise items to its popular store-to-door home delivery service, challenging online retailers as competition for customer wallets continues to increase for Thanksgiving, Christmas and seasonal celebrations.
  The general merchandise items now available through Meijer Home Delivery includes the season's hottest gifts and toys, as well as wrapping paper, artificial trees and Christmas decorations. Other items added to a total of more than 70,000 fresh produce, grocery and general merchandise items hand-picked by Shipt shoppers from local Meijer stores include electronics like TVs, tablets, headphones, drones and gaming systems.
  "We've had tremendous success delivering groceries to our customers across the Midwest, so we are very pleased to offer them the convenience of having their holiday gifts delivered to their doorstep as well," Meijer President & CEO Rick Keyes said. "Whether you are looking for a turkey, toys and gifts or even decorations, our brick–and-mortar stores combined with a personal shopping solution provides something for everyone's holiday shopping needs."
  The National Retail Federation expects retail sales in November and December – excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – to increase as much as 4 percent this year, for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year.
  Because most Meijer stores are open 24-hours-a-day, customers can choose delivery times most convenient for them, which gives people the flexibility to shop and receive orders very early in the morning or late at night.
  Meijer has also provided home delivery service members the ability to earn mPerks Rewards that can be redeemed in store, as well as offering sales on hundreds of items each week found through the Shipt app.
  Meijer customers can sign up for the service for $99 per year. Unlimited deliveries are free for orders over $35; a flat $7 delivery fee is added to any orders under $35.


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November 1, 2017

Giant Kicks Off Annual Turkey Drive in Central PA

Campaign will Provide a Total of 1.6 Million Meals in Four States

  Giant Food Stores’ annual Feeding Our Neighbors Every Day holiday campaign will provide 1.6 million meals to those in need this Thanksgiving. Giant kicked off the campaign today with 1,500 turkeys and $10,000 to Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and 250 turkeys and $5,000 each to Bethesda Mission, New Hope Ministries and Project SHARE.
  “During this season of giving, Giant is helping reach even more food insecure families,” said Tom Lenkevich, Giant President. “Giant will donate more than $270,000 in turkeys and gift cards to regional food banks in four states. This is our largest Thanksgiving donation to date providing 1.6 million meals to our neighbors in need this holiday.”
  Joe Arthur, Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, said, “We are thrilled that Giant is once again kicking off our holiday turkey drive, and this year they have increased their donation to 1,500 turkeys, each of which will provide many meals for struggling Central Pennsylvania families! We hope this generous Giant gift will inspire other businesses and donors to share their good fortune as well because demand for nutritious food assistance remains very high.”
  According to Scott Dunwoody, Bethesda Mission’s Executive Director, "Giant Food Stores has been a wonderful partner with Bethesda Mission for many years, and the donation of 250 turkeys will be the centerpiece for the holiday meals served at Bethesda Mission's Men's Shelter on Thanksgiving and Christmas for hundreds of guests; thank you Giant!"
  "What would it mean if you didn't have to worry about where you would sleep tonight? Or what you would eat? Or what you will wear? How would it feel to know that someone is looking out for you, that someone cares? We are so grateful to our community and friends like Giant Food Stores who are making sure our neighbors this Thanksgiving will be able to celebrate with their families,” said New Hope Ministries Executive Director Eric Sauders. “Thanks guys, and Happy Thanksgiving!"
  “This donation of turkeys underscores Giant’s depth of generosity not only to Project SHARE but to the Carlisle community,” said Bob Weed, interim CEO at Project SHARE. “We are privileged to have them as our partner in obtaining our vision of Nourishing our Community . . . Awakening Hope! This donation significantly strengthens our efforts this holiday season and helps our clients as they gather around their tables for a wholesome traditional Thanksgiving meal.”
PICTURED: Joe Arthur, Central PA Food Bank; Samantha Krepps, Giant Food Store; Eric Saunders, New Hope Ministries; Scott Dunwoody, Bethesda Mission and Bob Weed, Project Share.


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October 19, 2017

Supervalu Acquiring AG of Florida

Creates opportunities to leverage Associated Grocers' approximate 1.5 million square feet of owned real estate and enhance Associated Grocers' international business serving the Caribbean, Central and South America and Asia

  A bombshell was dropped on the trade when Supervalu, Inc. and Associated Grocers of Florida, Inc. announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement for Supervalu to acquire Associated Grocers in a transaction valued at approximately $180 million.
  This transaction, announced on October 18, provides Supervalu with the ability to expand its operations into a new part of Florida as well as provides new opportunities to bring Supervalu’s products and services to Associated Grocers' diverse customer base in South Florida, the Caribbean, and other international markets. Additionally, as part of the pending transaction, Supervalu has reached a long-term supply agreement with Associated Grocers' largest customer that will go into effect upon the closing of the transaction.
  Founded in 1945, Associated Grocers is a retailer-owned cooperative that distributes full lines of grocery and general merchandise to independent retailers, primarily in South Florida, the Caribbean, Central and South America and Asia. Associated Grocers' customer base of conventional, specialty and ethnic stores includes an exciting mix of multi-cultural independent grocers that complements Supervalu’s customer base. Supervalu expects the combined company will be well positioned to efficiently serve its broad range of customers and offer an array of value added services, helping Associated Grocers and Supervalu customers compete and thrive in an increasingly demanding grocery environment. During Associated Grocers' last fiscal year, which ended on July 29, 2017, Associated Grocers' revenues were approximately $650 million, estimated by Supervalu under its accounting policies.
  "Associated Grocers represents a great opportunity for us to further expand our wholesale business into another important region," said Mark Gross, Supervalu’s President and Chief Executive Officer. "We believe Supervalu is uniquely positioned to be the supplier of choice across the grocery industry and this acquisition is another example of how we're delivering on our growth strategy."
  Gross continued, "Christopher Miller and his talented team have done outstanding work to build and support a dynamic and diverse retailer base. We're looking forward to welcoming the strengths and talents of the Associated Grocers team to Supervalu and working together so that, once the transaction is complete, we can bring the benefits of our combined scale and expertise to their customers to help them better compete in the evolving grocery industry."
  "I'm very excited about this announcement," said Associated Grocers' President, Christopher Miller. "Being a part of Supervalu will provide us with access to resources, products, services and overall capabilities that are essential to helping us continue to provide top-notch support to our customers. Supervalu and Associated Grocers share a common dedication and commitment to the independent retailer and together we'll be in a great position to provide opportunities, innovation and increased value to our customers, both domestically and in foreign markets."
  The transaction, which was approved by each company's board of directors, is currently expected to close by the end of calendar year 2017, subject to approval by Associated Grocers' shareholders and other customary closing conditions. Following completion of the merger, Associated Grocers will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Supervalu.
  Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP acted as Supervalu’s legal counsel. RBC Capital Markets LLC acted as financial advisor to Associated Grocers of Florida and Akerman LLP acted as Associated Grocers' legal counsel.
Pictured: MARK GROSS


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October 18, 2017

Buehler's Sold to Employees

Thirteen Supermarkets Sold to ESOP

  E&H Family Group, parent company of Buehler’s, has announced the sale of its 13 supermarkets to employees in the form of an employee stock ownership program (ESOP). All 2,100 employees will be retained in the transition and eligible employees will become owners. All 13 supermarkets will remain open with the same hours of operation.
  “This was a decision we did not take lightly. Our generation of Buehlers are reaching retirement age and we think this a better option than selling the business to outsiders,” said Dan Buehler, President & COO, E&H Family Group. “We want these supermarkets to be here serving customers and providing good jobs well into the future. There’s no one better qualified than our own employees to carry on that mission. We believe that the transition to an ESOP is a winning solution for the Buehler family, our employees and the communities we serve.”
  The ESOP will be operated by the newly-formed Buehler’s Fresh Foods, retaining the familiar name and led by an experienced team of Buehler’s veterans, including Dan Shanahan, Buehler’s Fresh Foods president and COO since 2011, Rick Lowe, VP of Human Resources of E&H Family Group since 1977, and Mike Davidson, VP of Store Operations since 2015.
  Shanahan will serve as President and CEO of the new company, Lowe will be Executive Vice President and CAO and Davidson will be Executive Vice President of Store Operations.
  E&H Family Group, owned by the Buehler family of Wooster, also operates 22 hardware stores in Ohio under the E&H Ace Hardware name. The sale has no impact on the E&H Hardware Group, which will continue operating under Buehler family ownership.
  The Food Partners represented E&H Family Group in its evaluation of strategic alternatives including as its financial advisor in the transaction.
  Buehler’s Fresh Foods grocery store was founded in 1929 by E.L. (Ed) Buehler and his wife, Helen. After opening their first store in New Philadelphia, the Buehler family moved the business to Wooster in 1932 and opened a store near the northeast corner of Public Square. The new store prospered under Ed’s direction with his emphasis on customer service, free delivery, garden-fresh produce and a clean, friendly grocery store atmosphere. Four generations of Buehlers have worked in the family business since its founding.
  “This is the right thing to do for our family, our customers and suppliers, and I know my brother Gene and our mom and dad would agree,” said Don Buehler, who worked in the store as a child and who stepped back from day-to-day responsibilities in the family business in June 1997 after decades of service. “We have deep and longstanding relationships with thousands of customers and farmers in the communities we serve, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their loyalty and support over the past 88 years.”
  Don and his brother Gene, who passed away in 2011, were the second generation to oversee the company, and they helped further deepen the family’s ties to the community. They were inducted together into the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce Business Wall of Fame in 2007 and are both in the Ohio Grocers Hall of Fame.
  The brothers’ five sons, known as “The Buehler Boys,” built on that tradition, assuming leadership of the company in the late 1990s.
  Rick Lowe, VP of Human Resources of E&H Family Group and now a principal of the new company, has been married to Gene Buehler’s daughter, Linda, since 1974.
  “The Buehler family is not going away,” said Dan Buehler. “We’ve always been a family operated independent business that’s very involved in our communities. Our customers are our neighbors and friends. We live in the communities we serve, we’re committed to them and we will continue to support them.”


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May 16, 2017

7-Eleven Acquiring 1,108 C-Stores

  7 Eleven, Inc., the largest chain in the convenience-retailing industry, has entered into an asset purchase agreement with Sunoco LP. As part of the agreement, 7 Eleven will acquire approximately 1,108 convenience stores located in 18 states.
  “This acquisition supports our growth strategy in key geographic areas including Florida, mid-Atlantic states, Northeast states, and Central Texas,” said Joe DePinto, President and Chief Executive Officer of 7 Eleven Inc. “It also provides 7 Eleven entry into Houston, the 4th largest city in the United States, and a strong presence in Corpus Christi and across South Texas.   Total consideration in the transaction is $3.3 billion in cash plus fuel, merchandise and other inventories. SUN expects to use the proceeds to repay indebtedness and for general partnership purposes.
  SUN President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Owens stated, "The sale of these retail assets to 7-Eleven is the beginning of an exciting evolution for SUN into a premier nationwide fuel supplier. Our supply agreement with 7- Eleven provides SUN with a predictable long-term income stream, and this transaction quickly allows SUN to improve its financial profile."
  Assets being sold to 7-Eleven include approximately 1,110 convenience stores in 19 geographic regions primarily along the East Coast and in Texas, and the associated trademarks and intellectual property of the Laredo Taco Company and Stripes. As part of the transaction, SUN will enter into a 15-year take-or-pay fuel supply agreement with a 7-Eleven subsidiary under which SUN will supply approximately 2.2 billion gallons of fuel annually. This 1 supply agreement will have guaranteed annual payments to SUN, provides that 7-Eleven will continue to use the Sunoco brand at currently branded Sunoco stores and includes committed growth in future periods.
  Approximately 200 convenience stores in North and West Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma will be sold in a separate process. SUN's Aloha Petroleum business unit in Hawaii will continue to operate its highly efficient and integrated business model within SUN. Likewise, the transaction does not include SUN's highly successful APlus franchisee-operated stores.
  SUN's transaction with 7-Eleven is the first step in SUN's strategic shift away from company-operated convenience stores to focus on its industry-leading fuel supply business. Led by the iconic Sunoco fuel brand and successful APlus franchise, SUN plans to be a leading consolidator in the domestic wholesale fuels business, supplying fuel to a network of more than 8,900 locations of third-party dealers, distributors and other commercial customers, with an enhanced focus on MLP qualifying income. Additionally, the proceeds received in this transaction will be used to further enhance SUN's credit profile and leverage profile.
  7 Eleven, Inc. has 8,707 stores in the United States and Canada. This acquisition will be one of the largest in 7 Eleven, Inc.’s history, and it will bring 7 Eleven, Inc.’s total number of stores to 9,815 in the U.S. and Canada.


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January 24, 2017

Cooking Up A Comeback for a 100-Year-Old Tomato Soup Recipe

  Campbell is taking us back 100 years and deep into their archives. In the back of the vault we discovered our founder’s original 1915 Campbell’s Beefsteak Tomato Soup recipe and decided to not only make the original recipe once again, but package and share a limited batch with consumers.
  Many of us have moments like this. You’re going through an old collection of pictures and keepsakes and happen to find a gem. You pull it out, set it aside and share it with family and friends. It triggers memories of the past, brings people together and reminds you of your heritage—where you came from.
  With the food industry undergoing some pretty sizeable shifts to respond to changing consumer demand for simple and real food, the Dr. John Dorrance recipe reminds that he pioneered the idea of bringing real food to consumers and was ahead of his time. He gave Campbell a heritage that they can be proud of—that taps into its purpose as a food company.
  We made a limited supply of 10,000 jars using seasonal New Jersey beefsteak tomatoes from southern New Jersey farms. The original Beefsteak Tomato Soup features a perfect balance of texture and sweet and tart flavors — making it just as good as it was 100 years ago.   You can find Campbell’s Beefsteak Tomato Soup in select Cracker Barrel stores across New Jersey and Pennsylvania this January.


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January 4, 2017

Four Key Beverage Industry Trends for 2017

Are Changing What Consumer Buy

  Changing demographics and purchasing behaviors make it crucial for beverage industry leaders to understand and capitalize on key consumer insights that identify growing trends. Evergreen Packaging, a global leader in creating fiber-based packaging solutions, has worked with EcoFocus Worldwide to identify four key trends from the annual EcoFocus Trend Study that reveals growing themes expected to impact the industry in the coming year.
  “The research reveals key areas brands must deliver on in order to appeal to discerning consumers in 2017,” said Erin Reynolds, marketing director for Evergreen Packaging. “The consumer insights gained through the EcoFocus Trend Study reveal opportunities for choosing packaging that provides appropriate product protection and aligns with enhanced brand values for health and environmental responsibility. At Evergreen Packaging we are committed to helping our customers achieve their corporate goals and meeting changing consumer needs.”
  The survey, conducted independently by EcoFocus Worldwide, examines wellness and sustainability trends impacting the food and beverage industry. In its seventh year, new study results show how consumer tastes, demographics and values are reshaping purchasing decisions. These shifts in consumer priorities are prompting companies to make changes. From Walmart’s commitment to sustainably sourced packaging to McDonalds’ pledge to source 100 percent of all fiber-based packaging from recycled or certified sources by 2020, and Food Business News declaring clean labeling as the top trend of the year – it is clear that fresh and sustainable will be trends at the heart of consumer demands throughout 2017.
  “These study results show that a majority of grocery shoppers have identified products’ fresh, clean, and sustainable benefits among their top purchase priorities when it comes to healthier choices,” said study author and Chief Executive Officer of EcoFocus Worldwide, Linda Gilbert. “The message is clear: if you are a brand aiming to attract consumers to your healthy beverages, be sure your packaging and processing line up with your ingredient list. And be sure to tell your fresh and clean story effectively on your packaging.”
  Insights from the research call out four trends: 1) Millennials’ impact on food and beverage priorities, 2) the importance of clean packaging, 3) the power of leveraging of fresh and clean attributes to position healthy products, and 4) the growing popularity of functional beverages:
1. MILLENNIAL MOTIVATORS
Millennials hold huge buying power in today’s market, and are expected to spend more than $200 billion in 2017 alone. In order to successfully reach Millennials, it’s important for brands to understand what influences their purchasing. According to Forbes, more than 50 percent of Millennials make an effort to buy products from companies that support the causes they care about, and they’re twice as likely to care about whether or not their food is organic than any other generation. The EcoFocus survey results illustrate additional details that tie into this larger national trend:
• Millennials are leading the escape from mass produced, over-processed and over-packaged foods and beverages with a demand for real, less processed ingredients. They want the preservatives and artificial ingredients out, and natural, nutrient-dense ingredients in.
• 69% of Millennials have changed what they buy in order to avoid artificial ingredients in foods and beverages.
  Millennials aren’t just thinking about the product’s contents, they are differentiating packaging for improved personal and planetary health.
• 73% say they try to buy products in packaging that is recyclable.
• 59% say they look for beverages in packaging that is made with renewable materials.
2. CLEAN PACKAGING GAINS MOMENTUM
  The new EcoFocus Study results show the strong clean labeling movement is expanding to clean processing and clean packaging trends. As a recent Prepared Foods article highlights, the rules have been rewritten and clean and clear labeling is the new global standard, extending to a more holistic demand for a clean supply chain. These demands apply to packaging as brands are expanding their transparency on all fronts – from supply chain details to their packaging choices. The EcoFocus study shows:
• 70% of Grocery Shoppers strongly agree or agree that foods and beverages with healthier ingredient lists should use packaging materials that are healthier too. (74% of Millennials)
• With the demand for healthier packaging materials, it’s important to keep in mind that 86% of Grocery Shoppers and 87% of Millennials believe some types of packaging can leave undesirable chemicals in beverages. They say cartons and glass containers are the least likely to do so – and that cartons and glass best protect freshness without preservatives.
3. THE NEW VALUE-ADD: FRESH + CLEAN = HEALTHY
  The definition of what makes foods and beverages healthier is becoming increasingly complex. Clean ingredients have moved from a trend to the norm for many categories and brands. Creating products that are fresh and eco-friendly is the new go-to as these attributes will become increasingly crucial contributors to consumer’s measurement of “healthy” in 2017.
• 74% of Grocery Shoppers and 78% of Millennials say better personal health is a big benefit of an eco-friendly lifestyle.
  Many brands have already taken out preservatives and removed artificial ingredients - the next challenge is to leverage packaging to convey and deliver freshness without the chemicals that consumers view as undesirable for their health. Brands need to ask themselves if their packaging is aligned with their focus on clean ingredients and messaging.
• 71% of Grocery Shoppers say that packaging that keeps beverages fresh without preservatives is the most important quality for healthy beverage packaging. (72% of Millennials)
  Grocery shoppers’ perception of different packaging materials heavily impacts the grocery industry. Smart brands and retailers must align with consumer values and effectively communicate the commitments behind their product, processing and packaging choices.
• 67% of Grocery Shoppers and 69% of Millennials say recyclable packaging is an extremely or very important quality for healthy beverage packaging.
• 59% of Grocery Shoppers and 64% of Millennials say packaging made with renewable materials is an extremely or very important quality for healthy beverage packaging.
4. NATURALLY FUNCTIONAL BEVERAGES
  Consumers are increasingly looking to beverages to play new roles in their diets and health routines. Drinkable breakfasts and the “snackification” of beverages are fueled by consumer interest in nutrition and performance drinks that act as meal replacements and guilt-free snacks. In fact, BevNet reports that the carbonated soft drink category is continuing a five-year decline while demand for natural and organic drinks increases as consumers gravitate toward healthier options, with natural beverages driving 40% of dollar growth in the industry. Industry leaders should expect consumers in 2017 to demand beverages that work harder, whether for refreshment, satiety, energy, immunity boosting, sleep aid, blood sugar management, or a host of other functional benefits now associated with these multifunctional power beverages.
• When identifying the most desirable nutritional attributes for healthy beverages, grocery shoppers surveyed shared the following preferences:
63% are seeking a good source of calcium.
61% are looking for beverages that are a good source of fiber.
61% want their beverages to contain lowered or reduced sugar.
60% are drawn to beverages that are a good source of antioxidants.
57% want to consume beverages with increased protein.
55% buy beverages because they are a good source of omega 3.
46% of grocery shoppers are looking for beverages that contain probiotics.
  These findings reveal important communication, innovation, and value-added opportunities for beverage manufacturers as they make key decisions in 2017. Overall, consumers put high priorities on making healthy and environmentally responsible purchases. “For consumers, the priorities of health and sustainability are clearly linked together, packaging has a growing role in their perception of both of these attributes,” said Gilbert. “These are powerful synergies that speak to the 2017 consumer’s holistic view of what is healthy.”


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December 26, 2016

Patrick Cudahy Donates $5,000 to Hunger Task Force

Holiday Promotion Feeds Local Families in Need

  Patrick Cudahy, The Home of Sweet Apple-Wood Smoked Flavor, has teamed up with Pick 'n Save and Metro Market to Lend a Helping Ham this holiday season by feeding local families in need. Recently, representatives of Patrick Cudahy, Pick 'n Save, and Metro Market presented a check for $5,000 to the executive director of Milwaukee's Hunger Task Force.
  Founded in 1974, Hunger Task Force is Milwaukee's first food bank. The organization provides a safety net of emergency food to a network of local food pantries and meal programs and is the only food bank in Milwaukee that does not charge for food, delivery, or network membership.
  "Patrick Cudahy understands the importance of giving back to our local community and feeding those in need," said Bud Matthews, Patrick Cudahy senior vice president. "This is why we partnered with Pick 'n Save, Metro Market, and our friends at Hunger Task Force to help make a difference, especially leading up to the holidays. We're proud to make this donation today, and we thank loyal patrons of Patrick Cudahy products for helping in this effort."
  Patrick Cudahy raised funds for this donation through a promotion with Pick 'n Save and Metro Market, which serves communities throughout Wisconsin. From November 1 through December 31, Patrick Cudahy is matching the price of retail and deli ham purchases made by customers at participating stores, up to $5,000.
  Pick 'n Save and Metro Market customers also supported this initiative by donating hams directly to Hunger Task Force through their website www.hungertaskforce.org/donations/helping-ham.
  The campaign has also been promoted through Milwaukee radio station 102.9 The HOG. The hams will serve as the centerpiece for meals delivered to local families in need during the holidays.
  "We're proud to partner with Patrick Cudahy to help local families enjoy a festive holiday meal, complete with a ham, this year," said Sherrie Tussler, Hunger Task Force executive director. "This program really makes a positive impact on our local community just in time for the holidays, and we're incredibly grateful for the continued partnership."


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December 21, 2016

Carando Cares Serves National Guard Holiday Feast

At Barnes Air National Guard Base

  Carando, the artisans of Classic Italian Meats, hosted a special event to show gratitude for the brave men and women of Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, MA. Recently, Airmen and their families were served a holiday meal from the Massachusetts-based company.
  This meal is part of the ongoing Carando Cares program, an initiative which supports organizations that are making a positive difference in local communities. The hundreds in attendance were served a feast of Carando premium hams, green beans, oven roasted potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and chocolate chip cookies.
  With its production facility located in nearby Springfield, MA, Carando has directly seen the displays of valor and selflessness that Barnes Air National Guard Base Airmen have made. The company wanted to share some holiday cheer with its hometown heroes who protect the nation's freedom.
  "We can never take for granted all of the sacrifices that our military makes for us," said Michael J. Sargent, Carando senior brand manager. "It is truly an honor to serve these individuals who protect the nation's freedom.   "We can never take for granted all of the sacrifices that our military makes for us," said Michael J. Sargent, Carando senior brand manager. "It is truly an honor to serve these individuals who have served us. This meal is just our way of saying 'thank you' for all of their dedication and the sacrifices they have made for our country."   Carando Cares has made more than $250,000 in monetary and in-kind donations since the program's inception in 2013.


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