News Briefs – Progressive Grocer

As consumers in Cape Coral, Fla., clean up from the impact of Hurricane Ian, they have a new grocery store to meet their needs. On Oct. 4, Sprouts Farmers Market quietly but effectively opened its location in that community, providing much-needed groceries to area residents.
“Shoutout to the guacstar Sprouts team at our new Cape Coral store! They worked hard to open doors early at our brand new Sprouts to serve our Cape Coral neighbors with the healthy groceries they need most to restock their fridge and pantries post Hurricane Ian,” the company declared in a Facebook post.
The store at Pine Island Road and Pondella Road was originally slated to open on Oct. 6. The grocer moved up the date to accommodate shoppers who needed essentials in the wake of the storm, especially as they were trying to feed themselves and their families while waiting for their power and other utilities to be restored.
The health-oriented grocer has reached out to its new community in other ways, donating funds for Red Cross relief efforts and foods for local distribution.  
“We have a distribution center in Orlando that was able to get quite a bit of product down to us. We had to work around floodwaters and traffic issues,” Lucas Larson, VP of operations, told Ft. Myers television new station WINK.
He continued: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone impacted. We’re trying to help the customers get what they need. That’s why we made the effort to open early. We wanted to get out and serve the community as quick as we could.”
Sprouts now operates 35 stores in Florida, including other locations hit hard by Hurricane Ian in Estero and Naples and Ft. Myers. The Cape Coral store has temporary hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 
Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market employs approximately 31,000 associates and is No. 53 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.
Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) is supporting farmers through its third annual “All for Farmers” campaign. Among other goals, the fundraising initiative will help preserve farmland, assist farmers in financial need and support the overall future of farming.  
At the  center of this year’s effort is a virtual auction through which people can bid on a variety of items, from a Tillamook-branded 1962 Volkswagen bus to a weekend summer stay at a farm in Maine to an overnight at the Tillamook Creamery. All proceeds from the campaign will be donated to the nonprofit American Farmland Trust and that organization’s Brighter Future Fund grant program. 
Giant Food is taking part in the All for Farmers auction, too. One of the items up for bid is a year’s worth of groceries, with a package of 52 $100 gift cards redeemable at any Giant Food location in Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia.
“As a farmer-owned co-op and a Certified B Corporation, TCCA is dedicated to being a force for good in the world,” said Jocelyn Bridson, director of environment and community impact at the Tillamook, Ore.-based TCCA. “Doing right by the cows and farms, people and products, and for the community and the environment is not just about staying true to our core values, it’s about supporting farms and underrepresented farmers across the country to do the same, for generations to come.”
Ryan Lauer, director of corporate partnerships at American Farmland Trust, said the group is grateful for the support. “The proceeds from these fantastic auction items will enable marginalized farmers across the US to build resiliency, access land, and improve farm viability,” Lauer noted.
The auction opens on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. and closes on Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. Items will be posted on a special eBay page.
Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law a bill, SB 1046, that will require supermarkets to phase out single-use plastic produce bags, which the legislation refers to as “pre-checkout bags,” by Jan. 1, 2025, according to published reports. Stores will have to use recycled paper bags or compostable bags instead. 
The bill originally required that all plastic bags be replaced by 2023, but the California Grocers Association (CGA) sent a letter this past April to the bill’s author, State Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, asking that the timeline be changed to 2025 to give stores time to adapt. 
“Now that the governor has signed SB 1046, the grocery community is focused on preparing to comply with the new law by 2025,” Nate Rose, senior director of communications for the Sacramento-based CGA, told news outlet SFGATE. “There are many moving pieces to navigate, mostly concerning how to source and scale compostable and recyclable pre-checkout bags for our shoppers in a supply chain environment that has not been without its challenges in the past few years.” 
Six years ago, California voters approved Proposition 67, which banned plastic bags from checkout lines at grocery stores. Such bans, of course, extend way beyond the Golden State.
According to Farzan Dehmoubed, CEO of Carlsbad, Calif.-based Lotus Sustainables, whose top-selling product is the reusable fabric Lotus produce bag, a washable and durable mesh bag that can be reused hundreds of times for transport and storage of produce: “Seventy-five percent of the states currently have a plastic bag ban in place or on the books. This will quickly start to include plastic produce bags.” 
At a time when companies have been working towards ambitious ESG goals, some food retailing businesses and suppliers are included on the 2022 Fortune “Change the World” list.
Fortune spotlighted more than 50 global companies that have made an important social or environmental impact through their business strategies. PayPay topped the publication’s list, followed by international e-commerce giant Alibaba and Walmart. Indoor farming operations Infarm and Aerofarms also made the list, as did drone delivery startup Zipline.
Walmart, for its part, has shared strides towards several of its corporate responsibilities goals in recent months. During its Sustainability Milestone Summit held in early October, the retail behemoth provided an updated on goals, such as its July commitment to purchase 4,500 all-electric delivery vehicles from Canoo and the rollout of its Circular Connector platform to match circular packaging solutions with manufacturers in need. Also in recent weeks, Walmart and Sam’s Club revealed they will host the first HBCU Student Summit to accelerate equity in education.
Meanwhile, in a July letter to shareholders, Alibaba Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang affirmed that ESG serves as a strategic pillar in the organization. He noted the company is on track to achieve carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2030, has updated its poverty alleviation fund into a rural revitalization fund across China and worked to improve its corporate governance.
According to Matt Heimer, Fortune’s executive features editor, the companies on the 2022 list leveraged the tools of capitalism to tackle problems impacting people and the planet. He also looked back on the ways the list has evolved since it was first published: “On our inaugural list, six of the 51 companies we recognized had annual rev­enue of $1 billion or less. This year, in our eighth edition, 18 out of 54 have less than $1 billion in revenue, and nine of those are currently venture-backed startups.”
Chosen by Fortune’s own reporting and analysis team, the Change the World list was based on the criteria of measurable social impact, business results and degree of innovation. The project is collaboration between Fortune and the Shared Value initiative. 
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Sam’s Club is No. 8 on the list.
The Kroger Co. has launched its first Our Brands Innovation Summit, a program designed to enhance and accelerate the selection of private-brand items sold at the grocer’s various banners. The summit is open to store-brand suppliers in all categories except general merchandise, hard goods, textiles and apparel.
Through Oct. 31 at 11:59 PM PDT, suppliers can apply for the chance to take part in virtual meetings with Kroger buyers. The meetings will take place Jan. 24-26, 2023, on Solon, Ohio-based ECRM’s virtual meeting platform, ECRM Connect.  
“At Kroger, we’re constantly innovating, studying customer data and working to stay ahead of trends so we can provide customers with the highest-quality products they’re looking for at affordable prices,” noted Juan De Paoli, Kroger’s VP of Our Brands. “By inviting private brand suppliers to apply for this opportunity, we’re confident we will find fresh ideas and innovative products to expand our portfolio of offerings and support the growth of new businesses we bring into our supplier network.”
During the company’s recent Q2 earnings call, CEO Rodney McMullen noted that the grocer is seeing record engagement with and private brands. 
Other supermarket operators actively seeking private-brand partners include Wakefern Food Corp. and Ahold Delhaize.
Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 10 and Keasbey, N.J.-based retailer cooperative Wakefern is No. 25 on PG’s list.
Stephanie Wissink has been hired by Walmart as its new SVP, investor relations, effective Oct. 24, succeeding Dan Binder, who has transitioned into his new role as the company’s SVP, global treasurer. Wissink will report directly to John David Rainey, EVP and CFO at Walmart.
“With [her] more than two decades of equity research experience, we’re excited about the leadership and knowledge Steph will bring to our investor relations team as well as to our global finance team,” the company said in an email revealing the executive move.
[Read more: “Walmart Evolving Its Supply Chain With Latest Acquisition“]
Wissink is currently managing director and senior research analyst at New York-based investment banking firm Jefferies, where she has covered the broadline retail and consumer product sectors, including Walmart, for the past four years. Before joining Jefferies, she was a senior research analyst with investment bank and institutional securities firm Piper Jaffray, where she spent almost 16 years writing company and industry reports on beauty, retail, entertainment, toys and games, and health and wellness.
Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The Bentonville, Ark.-based company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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