Ahold USA announces grand opening of new concept store

 Ahold USA will hold a grand opening of its first ever bfresh market on Friday, Sept. 18 in Allston, MA.

The owners of Stop & Shop, Giant Food Stores, Martin’s Food Markets, and Peapod, unveiled the new, urban-scale grocery store at a community preview last week. The new 10,000-square-foot space puts a strong emphasis on fresh produce and cuts back on the dry goods section. It’s wide assortment of take-out style cuisine appeals to neighborhood college students, and its layout is much smaller than a traditional supermarket.

“This is really designed to be a full shop for people with an emphasis on fresh,” bfresh spokesperson Suzi Robinson told The Boston Globe. “[People] want to have fresher choices. It’s been an ongoing trend for some time.”

Bfresh will target foodies who value “fresh, healthy options and pricing that doesn’t break the bank,” according to company officials. The new store will also feature prepared foods in its Little Kitchen, which brings fresh, scratch-made seasonal meals into the store.

Bfresh hours will be Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m. - 9 p.m.; and Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.


Salmonella contamination leads to recall and lawsuit

San Diego, CA, produce distributor Andrew & Williamson issued a recall late Friday, Sept. 4. for all of its “Limited Edition” labeled cucumbers sold during the period from August 1, 2015, through September 3, 2015.

Dave Murray, a partner in the company told The Produce News on Tuesday, Sept. 8, that the company was informed of an ongoing Food & Drug Administration investigation late that day that potentially implicated A&W as the source of the salmonella outbreak that first surfaced in July. To date, about 285 illnesses and one death have been traced back to the Salmonella outbreak with the first case reported in early July.

Though the FDA did not positively identify the A&W cucumbers as the source, there were enough indicators for A&W to immediately issue the recall. Murray said the company is only producing cucumbers from one Baja California field and packing shed so it has immediately ceased that cucumber operations. In addition, tomato packing operations from the same shed, though on a different packing line, were also halted. Murray said the tomatoes were not implicated in any way and no tomatoes have been recalled, but in an abundance of caution the company has stopped operations from that facility to both test it for the Salmonella pathogen and to scrub it clean from top to bottom. Though FDA inspectors had not yet visited the field and packing shed in question, Murray assumed that would be part of the investigative process. “We want to get to the bottom of this as much as anyone else,” he said. “We take food safety very seriously.”

He noted that the company will be out of the cucumber market for about a week. When A&W return to the marketplace, the cucumber harvest will have shifted to a new area and a different packing shed. To avoid confusion, Murray said the next lot of cucumbers will be marketed under a different label.

In its press release announcing the recall, company President Fred Williamson said: “The safety and welfare of consumers is the highest priority for our company. We are taking all precautions possible to prevent further consumption of this product and are working to learn if and how these cucumbers are involved in the ongoing outbreak.”

"Limited Edition" cucumbers were produced in Baja California and distributed in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah and reached customers through retail, food service companies, wholesalers, and brokers.

According to press reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the cucumbers were most likely the cause of an outbreak of Salmonella poona that began July 3 and has surfaced in 27 states. A 99-year-old San Diego woman’s death was traced to the bacteria and about 50 other people have been hospitalized.

Though the outbreak dates back to July, Murray said no cucumbers from July would still be in the pipeline, consequently the recall begins with product produced in early August.

This morning, noted food contamination lawyer Bill Marler announced in his daily blog that the first lawsuit linked to the Salmonella outbreak was electronically filed today in a Minnesota court. The case involves a woman who alleges that she was exposed to the bacteria at a Minneapolis Red Lobster on Aug. 11 and spent the next three weeks battling the resulting illness in a hospital and rehab facility.

Safeway on the hook for $31 million in online price discrepancy

Safeway must refund $31 million to customers who overpaid for online purchases, a federal judge ruled Sept. 1.

The judgment by U.S. District Judge John Tigar came as the result of a class-action suit filed in 2011, alleging the retailer charged more for products purchased online than in-store.

The suit said that Safeway began marking up prices for online purchases in April 2010, in violation of its terms of service agreement, which stated prices for online and in-store purchases would be the same.

According to Courthouse News, Safeway argued that customers were aware of being overcharge for online purchases, and pointed to an online survey that revealed one in seven were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” about it.

Judge Tigar, however, dismissed that argument, saying, “A customer’s response that they were dissatisfied does not indicate that the customer knew of the existence of the markup or their right to price parity.”

As a result, Safeway must pay for all marked up prices for online purchases made between 2006 and 2014.

Whole Foods looks to raise $4 million to improve childhood nutrition

Whole Foods Market, through its Whole Kids Foundation, is launching the 2015 Growing Healthy Kids Campaign, which aims to raise over $4 million to inspire families and support schools related to children’s nutrition.

This year’s goal is to raise funds and awareness to help over 1 million kids gain access to nutritional education and fresh fruits and vegetables through the funding of salad bars and gardens for schools, as well as nutrition education classes for teachers.

“Our programs work to ensure kids gain better knowledge, understanding, curiosity, and consumption of nutritious fruits and vegetables, which in turn helps them pay better attention in class, improve their academic performance, and build confidence,” Nona Evans, executive director of Whole Kids Foundation, said in a press release. “It’s been incredibly rewarding to see how quickly kids truly do come to understand the connection between what they eat and how they feel.”

Twelve retail partners have each committed to donating $40,000 to the Growing Healthy Kids Campaign this September. They are Annie’s, Applegate, Back to Nature, Barbara’s, Cascadian Farm, Clif Bar, Daily Greens, King Arthur Flour, Organic Valley, Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Suja, and Stonyfield Farm.

Additionally, Whole Foods Market covers operational costs for the foundation, which allows 100 percent of individual donations to directly support Whole Kids Foundation programs. Customers can get involved by making a donation at store check-outs or online at wholekidsfoundation.org.

Launching this month, Whole Kids Foundation is introducing a new Healthy Kids Innovation Grant in partnership with United Health Foundation. These grants are meant to pave the way for fresh ideas around children’s health and nutrition in schools. Whole Kids Foundation has also introduced a new Extended Learning Garden Grant, which provides funding to support educational edible gardens on the grounds of a non-profit organization working with children.

Rooted in three simple principles — eat a rainbow of colors, eat leafy greens first and eat as close to nature as possible — Whole Kids Foundation offers a variety of resources for parents and children through the organization’s Kids Club, which provides fun and healthy activities, including art projects, books and recipes to do with kids both at a Whole Foods Market location or at home.


SpartanNash holds 2015 Holiday Expo in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS — SpartanNash, headquartered in Byron Township, MI, held its 2015 Holiday Expo Aug. 26-27 for its vendors, independent retailers and corporate stores at the downtown Minneapolis Convention Center, here. A refrigerated semitrailer, sporting the company’s new logo and the tagline “Taking food places,” was rolled into the building and was completely surrounded by fresh produce vendors.

“I think the new SpartanNash logo is a very attractive layout,” Bill Reddering of Chandler Topic Co., a food broker in Maple Grove, MN, told The Produce News. “And now they’re going to be putting that wrap on many of their trailers and get their logo out there so people will see it.”

Hundreds of exhibitors showcased new products, offered expo specials and networked with grocery store representatives during the two-day show, while attendees took advantage of the many exclusive show offerings and placed orders.

SN-HOLIDAY-EXPOThe SpartanNash 2015 Holiday Expo Aug. 26-27 at the Convention Center in Minneapolis included a refrigerated semitrailer surrounded by a multitude of fresh produce from its vendors.“The show has created a lot of energy with all the store orders,” Riddering said. “They seem to love all the produce they have out here and to learn a little more about what everybody is offering.”

Tom Williams, manager of corporate retail produce and floral at SpartanNash in Minneapolis, told The Produce News that there were some new products on display at the expo that would soon be part of its offerings for customers at its corporate stores.

“We’ve got some items here that are going to be starting in our stores, actually in the next couple of weeks,” said Williams. “Glory Greens, and sliced apples, and we just brought in the Tasti-Lee tomatoes.”

Williams enjoyed the networking, all the new products, and the energy at the Holiday Expo.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to come in and interact with our vendors, our great vendor partners, and take a look and see what other things are new — things that we can bring into our stores,” he said. “We’re always looking to improve and looking for what’s that new thing that we need to get into our stores. That’s what I love about shows.”