Convenience stores expanding produce options

Convenience store owners are reaping the benefits of expanded produce offerings. An increase in fresh food helped to drive strong convenience store sales in the second quarter of 2015 and is expected to continue to grow sales in the upcoming quarter, according to the results of a retailer sentiment survey released by the National Association of Convenience Stores.

Convenience stores are adding more healthy and fresh items, with 77 percent saying they sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, 57 percent sell packaged salads, and nearly half (47 percent) also sell cut fruit and vegetables.

Convenience stores have expanded selections of these items recently. Over the past six months, 50 percent of all convenience retailers say they have expanded their fresh fruit sales, 30 percent have increased their cut fruit and vegetable offers, and 21 percent are offering more salads.

Beyond fruits and vegetables, convenience stores are selling other better-for-you items. “It doesn’t have to be complicated” to add new items, Tom Robinson with Robinson Oil Co. in Santa Clara, CA, said in a press release. The company’s Rotten Robbie brand is “upgrading, refreshing stores and focusing on some key products like bananas, coffee, fountain beverages and beer.”

Maximize bang for your buck at PMA Foodservice Conference

The Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference & Expo is a venue that makes dollars and sense. “More than 70 percent of attendees (including distributors, operators and growers/shippers) influence or recommend purchases,” the PMA website states. “Both buyers and suppliers highly value the opportunity to connect and conduct business during the event.”

The conference will take place in beautiful Monterey, CA, on July 24-26 at the Monterey Conference Center. With everything housed under one roof, it’s the ultimate opportunity to build and strengthen business relationships for all segments of the produce and foodservice industries.ConferenceOV2Attendees at the PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo will have the opportunity to find out how the freshest produce makes its way to the foodservice sector. Seen here, attendees have a chance to see the harvesting of organic romaine during the 2013 conference. (Photo courtesy of the Produce Marketing Association)

“In our business, we know that being successful means doing two things: wowing customers with flavorful and distinctive dishes, and managing our operations efficiently and effectively. We know what you’re dealing with — it’s a big order,” said conference chairs Fritz Stelter and Jeff DeBoer. “That’s why we’re excited to invite you to the 2015 PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo, July 24-26, as we ‘Innovate the Plate.’ This is the only event that’s devoted to fresh produce in foodservice, covering the full breadth of the supply chain. Whether you grow, supply, prepare or serve fresh produce, you simply can’t miss this gathering of more than 1,800 professionals in beautiful Monterey, CA — the ‘salad bowl’ of the nation.”

Mike Aiton, director of marketing for Prime Time International, provided his insights from the fresh produce company perspective. “Attendees love the location of Monterey which is the perfect area for a summer getaway,” he told The Produce News. “While the facility is bursting at the seams to accommodate the vendors and the attendees, there seems to be a real reluctance to change the venue to be able to accommodate more people. The entire mood is casual and relaxed, making everyone comfortable and accessible. Historically, this has been one the most important and rewarding conferences we attend.”

The conference kicks off on July 23 with the PMA Foundation Joe Nucci Memorial Golf Tournament. On July 24, a Hands-On Fruit & Vegetable Training Session will take place, as well as registration for the PMA Foundation 5K Race for Talent.

The registration desk for the conference will be open on conference days at variable times early in the morning.

Activity begins in earnest on July 25. Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing for Naturipe Farms LLC will deliver opening remarks, and a host of educational sessions will be available. Topics include: What’s Hot? A Men Trends Forecast; It’s All About that BASE: Meet Today’s Consumer; Chef Talks: A Strolling Lunch; From Business Intel to Mobile Pay: Tech Trends to Build Your Business; and The New Food Generation Culture: How Consumer Trends Are Shaping Your Business.

The PMA Foundation Women’s Fresh Perspectives Reception will take place that evening at the Monterey Marriott beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Attendees will have a chance to visit more than 160 exhibitors who will showcase the latest in products, technology and services on July 26. The Fresh Ideas Showcase will be available in the lobby of the Portola Hotel & Spa, giving attendees a glimpse of products and product lines reshaping the foodservice industry.

Networking opportunities will be available throughout the course of the conference.

For more information, visit http://www.pma.com/events/foodservice.

A&P teams up with local farms to bring farmer’s market to its stores

The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. Inc. has teamed up with over 30 local farms from Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to offer its customers locally grown produce fresh from the farm this summer. Local produce will be in stores when in season in A&P, Food Basics, Pathmark, Superfresh, The Food Emporium and Waldbaum’s.

Seasonal produce will include fruits and berries such as blueberries, apples and peaches. Growers will also provide over 35 varieties of vegetables, including beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, herbs, onions and tomatoes.

“Farmers work extremely hard year-round to provide their products to the community,” Eric Kanterman, chief merchandising officer of A&P, said in a press release. “We are thrilled to offer our customers seasonal produce fresh from the farm in their neighborhood.”

Produce will be supplied by New Jersey growers from Battiato Farms, Big Buck Farms, Catalano Farms, Clark Farms, Coia Farms, Dalponte Farms, Dandrea Produce, Demarco, Donio Farms, Gala Farms, Glossy Fruit, Gloucester Country Farms, Heilig Orchards, JSM Blueberries, Lanza Plantation, Larchmont Farms, Losasso Farms, Merlino Bros. Farm, Millrock Farms, Oakcrest Farms, South Fork Cultivated Blueberries, Stoney Creek Blueberries, Summit City Farms, Sunny Valley International, Whalen Farms and William Cappuccio and Son. Additionally, produce will be supplied by Delaware growers from Magee Farms and Sheppard Farms, New York growers from Piedmonte Farms and Torrey Farms and Pennsylvania’s Bright Farms.     

“I am proud to see our family’s fresh produce on the shelves of A&P’s family of supermarkets and on the plates of local residents,” Steve Dandrea of Dandrea Produce said in the release. “This collaboration with A&P allows us to expand our reach to customers who may not be able to travel to our farm.”

Dandrea Produce will also arrange a farmer’s market event in 11 of the company’s locations.  A grower from Dandrea Produce will meet with customers to educate them on local produce and the best time to buy.

Albertsons files for IPO

Albertsons has filed a registration statement with the Securities & Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of shares of its common stock. The company said it plans to raise $100 million in the IPO; however, The Wall Street Journal suggested that the number is likely to change. 

At this point the company said the number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined.

According to the WSJ article, Albertsons plans to grow through the addition of new stores and potential acquisitions.

Earlier this year Albertsons completed its merger with Safeway, creating a diversified network that includes 2,230 stores, 27 distribution facilities and 19 manufacturing plants with over 250,000 employees across 34 states and the District of Columbia.

Goldman, Sachs & Co., BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley are acting as joint book-running managers, and Lazard is acting as a co-manager and IPO advisor for the proposed offering.

Sprouts names new executives

Sprouts Farmers Market, one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country, announced that Shawn Gensch has joined the company as chief marketing officer, and Dan Sanders has joined the company as executive vice president of store operations.

“Shawn and Dan share deep retail leadership experience, and with their marketing and operations expertise, Sprouts will continue to grow as a healthy grocery store offering fresh, natural and organic foods at great prices,” Doug Sanders, president and chief executive officer of Sprouts, said in a press release.

In his role as chief marketing officer, Gensch will serve as a member of the Sprouts Executive Leadership Team and will report directly to Sanders. Gensch has close to 25 years of experience in marketing and finance, with executive roles in both the retail and financial services industries. Most recently, he served as co-founder and CEO at a start-up consumer loyalty company. Prior to that, Gensch served as Target’s senior vice president of marketing, responsible for brand marketing, media, loyalty and public relations. He also served as president of Target Bank and led the company’s financial product development. Gensch serves on the board of directors for GWG Holdings Inc., Anser Innovation LLC and Avenues for Homeless Youth.

“Never before have consumers had so many options when it comes to making decisions about where to shop for groceries and health products,” Gensch said in a press release. “Sprouts is uniquely positioned to meet the needs of our guests on that journey by delivering value and variety for healthy living. This mission is paramount to the Sprouts brand and I am thrilled to become part of the team.”

Sanders is joining the Sprouts team as executive vice president of store operations. He will report to Jim Nielsen, chief operating officer. With 25 years of experience in supermarket operations, Sanders’ background includes three years as division president for SUPERVALU, leading store operations across various divisions, including Albertsons and ACME Markets. He also spent 10 years with United Supermarkets of Texas, serving in many roles, including CEO. Sanders is a military veteran and The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of two business books, and has served on the board of directors of the Food Marketing Institute and the Western Association of Food Chains.

“I look forward to helping Sprouts sustain its unique approach to inspiring healthy living for all through this period of growth,” Sanders said in the release. “Sprouts puts customers first by providing the best value, service and experience every day and I am honored to join the organization.”