Category Archives: Blog

Amazon Prime Day/Whole Foods

Amazon, Whole Foods sweeten the Prime Day deal

Amazon, Whole Foods sweeten the Prime Day deal

Prime members shopping at the chain get $10 credit for Amazon.com

Russell Redman 1 | Jul 10, 2018

Amazon is giving Prime members more reason to shop at Whole Foods Market over the next week.

The e-tail giant said Tuesday that it’s offering Prime customers $10 to spend on Amazon for Prime Day when they make a purchase of $10 or more at Whole Foods between July 11 and 17. Prime Day launches on July 16 at 3 p.m. ET and runs through July 17 — a total of 36 hours this year versus 30 hours in 2017.

The promotion works as follows: Prime members spend $10 in-store, scan their Prime Code in the Whole Foods or Amazon app at checkout and get a $10 credit that will be automatically applied to their Amazon account for use on Amazon.com during Prime Day. Customers also can provide their linked phone number at checkout to receive the $10 credit.

Whole Foods is tied into other Prime Day offers as well. Prime members new to grocery delivery from Whole Foods stores via Amazon’s Prime Now program get $10 off their order when they shop before July 17 plus receive $10 to apply to a future order. Also, AmazonPrime Rewards Visa cardholders with an eligible Prime membership receive 10% back, which is double the rewards, on up to $400 in purchases when shopping at Whole Foods from July 14 to 17.

“This is Whole Foods Market’s first Prime Day, and we’re taking the shopping experience to the next level,” said John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods. “Between our exclusive deals and special Prime Day offers, you’re not going to want to miss out on these savings.”

Whole Foods is also serving up exclusive offers on groceries and select seasonal items from July 11 to 17. The deals include organic strawberries (1 lb.) at two for $5; boneless chicken breasts (animal welfare rated and air-chilled) at $3.99/lb., a savings of 40% or more; Icelandic cod fillets (sustainable, wild-caught) at $8.99/lb., a $6/lb. savings; Allegro bagged coffee (sustainably sourced) at buy one, get one free; MegaFood vitamins and supplement at 30% off; RxBar protein bars (1.83 oz.) at two for $3; a 12-pack of Waterloo sparkling water (12 oz. cans) at two for $7; Honey Nut Cheerios at buy one, get one free; Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisps (3 oz.) for $4.99; and self-serve tea cookies by the pound at 40% off.

“This year, Prime members will experience a special flavor of Prime Day in every Whole Foods Market store nationwide,” added Cem Sibay, vice president of Amazon Prime. “Prime members will also save big, from earning $10 to spend on Amazon for Prime Day when they spend $10 at Whole Foods Market, to 10% back when shopping Whole Foods Market using their Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card.”

Prime member savings and benefits became available at all 467 Whole Foods U.S. stores on June 27. Grocery delivery in as soon as an hour from Whole Foods via Prime Now is currently offered in 19 cities. Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods last August, plans to roll out free two-hour grocery delivery via Prime Now nationwide during 2018.

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Ocado Robot Wars

Ocado: robot wars

Online grocer’s global ambitions require special attention

The Singularity in grocery shopping is edging closer. Ocado’s robotic warehouses have transformed the British online grocer’s fortunes, humiliating short sellers in the process. Hints that it might find new customers for its technology were enough to quell concerns about a profit dip on Tuesday. Shares rose 8 per cent. So far this year, shares are up 150 per cent. That means the company’s market value now exceeds the UK’s Wm Morrison, one of the supermarkets with which it has signed a deal. The company’s enterprise value is close to four times expected sales. Across Europe’s grocery sector the average is closer to 0.5 times. However, transforming into a global technology provider is expensive. Extra investment meant a £9m pre-tax loss for the half year to June. Fixed costs are going to rise again in the second half of the year. Ocado needs to speed up its coding capabilities to fulfil the contracts it has signed. Some 300 extra software engineers are due to be hired in the next six months. All of which means its negative cash flow will not turn positive any time soon. Analysts forecast more than £100m in free cash outflow this year alone, and almost the same in 2019. Ocado has net cash of £165m (less including nearly £100m in lease commitments). But this cash is due to its equity raising efforts. The retail side of the business does not make enough to cover the investment needed in the division that provides robotic warehouses. If Ocado sticks to its planned rollout it will not need to raise additional funds in the next two years. But those plans are ambitious. Ocado has four automated warehouses, all of which are in the UK. In the next five years it plans to have 23 spread around the world. There are still no hard details on the fees or costs of those international deals, which means no guarantee that further funding will not be needed. Shares trade as if the company’s conversion to a tech stock is complete. New, clearly profitable deals will be needed to lift its market value further.

Kombucha

Interest Brewing In Kombucha As Healthy Beer, Soda Alternative

Mergermarket

 1,412 views #GettingBuzz

Brew Dr. KombuchaBREW DR. KOMBUCHA

By Dayna Fields

Boasting a variety of brands and flavors, kombucha—the probiotic-rich “brew” made by fermenting sweet tea—is likely to soon rival craft beer and, eventually, the slumping soda category.

Offered with alcohol or as a soft drink typically in glass bottles, kombucha is currently a tiny segment of the beverage market, but it is seeing tremendous growth. In 2017, the global kombucha market generated $1.5 billion in sales, according to research firm Mordor Intelligence, and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23% over the next five years.

In comparison, the $80 billion canned soda category has shrunk by 3% compound annualized over the last five years, according to Mordor. Overall U.S. beer sales were down 1% in 2017, according to the Brewers Association.

Molson Coors clearly sees potential in the nascent category, having announced the acquisition of Fairfield, California-based Clearly Kombucha on June 8, making it the first alcohol strategic to stake claim in this space.

Anheuser-Busch InBev may be next, according to both Matt Thomas, founder of Portland, Oregon-based Brew Dr. Kombucha; and GT Dave, founder of Los Angeles-based GT’s Living Foods (formerly GT’s Kombucha).

In 2016, AB InBev’s venture arm, ZX Ventures, acquired New York-based Kombrewcha, which now only offers alcoholic kombucha. Kombucha is naturally alcoholic—and naturally carbonated—due to the fermentation process. Soft drink kombucha requires siphoning off alcohol content after fermentation.

Kombucha is the first better-for-you option in the alcohol space, says Tom First with Castanea Partners, an investor in Brew Dr. In June, Brew Dr. became the first major brand to launch kombucha in 12-ounce aluminum cans.

“I think (kombucha) will be a multi-billion-dollar category that will do well for the foreseeable future,” says First, noting it is fizzy, low in calories and gut-healthy, all on-trend traits.

Mark Rampolla, with Los Angeles-based PowerPlant Ventures—an investor in plant-based foods like Beyond Meat—said he prefers kombucha in bars. “I want it on-tap because sometimes I don’t want to drink,” he says. “There is something about the ritual of beer or wine or cocktails that I think kombucha kind of substitutes.”

Trey Lockerbie, founder of soft drink Better Booch, says the company is investing heavily in its keg business, its fastest-growing revenue channel.

While kombucha sales are currently strongest in California and New York, according to these CEOs, interest will broaden to Middle America soon.

Originally an ancient Japanese home brew, kombucha was introduced to the retail market by GT’s Living Foods in 2005. Today, the industry pioneer estimates it owns 55% of the US market, says CEO GT Dave.

Staunchly independent, GT Living Foods is the only major kombucha brand that is still family-owned.

No. 2 in market share is PepsiCo’s KeVita. Vying for No. 3 are Los Angeles-based Health-Ade—which has an investment from Coca-Cola’s venture arm—Brew Dr. and Bend, Oregon-based Humm Kombucha, according to Mike Burgmaier with Whipstitch Capital.

While alcohol strategic investors are beginning to make moves, soft beverage giants are clearly leading the M&A drive in this space. Eventually, beverage and beer giants alike will want three or four kombucha brands in their portfolios. “Each brand will be a little different,” Burgmaier says, noting variations in production and ingredients yield different flavors and textures.

Health-Ade, for example, adds cold-pressed citrus juice to temper kombucha’s natural vinegar taste. Brew Dr. has a purist approach, adding only herbs and botanicals.

Revive Kombucha—with a 2017 investment from Peet’s Coffee—prides itself on “gateway” flavors like Original Cola and Mocha Java Coffee, says CEO Sean Lovett.

As M&A interest increases, standout companies may sell for as much as 3x to 6x revenue, says Burgmaier. Pepsico’s purchase of KeVita in 2016 was valued at about 2.5x revenue, according to Mergermarket data.

AB InBev has the global reach, refrigerated transportation fleets, and fermented beverage experience to distribute kombucha globally, according to Dave and Thomas.

DanoneWave is also a synergistic suitor, they say, since yogurt is produced by the fermentation of milk. “They live in a close enough world where they understand our language,” says Dave.

China and Japan have the highest adoption rate of probiotics, according to Mordor Intelligence. But Dave says he “could not fathom” entering such complex markets without help.

To succeed, kombucha companies will need to turn “an art” into a replicable “dummy-proof” science, says Dave. The right strategic suitors will have the capability to get that done.

Jet.com to NYC

Jet to open Bronx fulfillment center for NYC push

Kroger Payments

The Kroger Co. says it will not enforce a new policy extending payments to 90 days for all suppliers, sparing produce companies who are covered by the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. ( Kroger Co. logo )

(UPDATED, 9 p.m.) The Kroger Co. has rescinded a payment schedule that would have forced produce suppliers to lose PACA trust rights by extending payment terms to 90 days.

The Net 90 mandate, announced by Kroger in letters to suppliers in mid-June, was set to go in effect Aug. 1. It was met with immediate concern and scorn by produce trade groups, shippers and anyone in the industry depending on the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act as a remedy to recoup losses in bankruptcy and non-payment situations.

The PACA outlines a maximum payment extension of 30 days.

Judith Wey Rudman, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s PACA Division’s Fair Trade Practices Program, sent Kroger a letter questioning the Net 90 policy on June 25.

In a July 9 letter responding to Rudman, Matt Hodge, Kroger’s senior manager of enterprise sourcing finance, wrote that the retailer has responded to suppliers questioning the policy.

“We’ve shared with individual produce suppliers that we will respect existing contractual and legal mandates including PACA. We never intended for PACA-eligible produce suppliers to waive their PACA Trust rights,” according to the letter.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to clearly state that produce suppliers protected under PACA are not required to participate in Net 90 payment terms,” Hodge wrote. “For those PACA-eligible produce suppliers who are interested, we will continue to negotiate for payment terms that are permitted within their PACA Trust rights.”

But according to the retailer’s original letter, there was no indication that was the case, calling for the policy to cover “all aspects” of Kroger’s business.

The produce industry responded immediately, but Kroger made no public announcement to clarify its position.

Matt McInerney, senior executive vice president for Western Growers, has fielded numerous calls on the policy.

On July 9, he complimented the industry’s response — engaging both Kroger and produce trade groups to resolve the issue — and Kroger’s decision to exempt produce suppliers, saying it handled the situation “professionally and appropriately.”

“From the industry point of view, really this is the first time in a long time the industry has unified on a particular aspect on demands from the seller side,” McInerney said July 9.

He said the major shippers that “took it upon themselves to dialogue with Kroger did a favor for the industry.”

The California Fresh Fruit Association, which release a statement in late June imploring Kroger to “fix this mess,” responded to the about-face on the policy. A July 9 statement from association President George Radanovich said the Net 90 policy was “wrong and illegal” for produce suppliers.

“We would like to commend the fresh produce industry for coming together as a unified voice for our industry,” Radanovich said in the statement. “Today we held the line on an important issue.”

He said the industry has been a good partner for Kroger, and “Kroger remembered that partnership and fixed the mess it created.”

Hydroponics

Bright Farms takes local produce model nationwide with hydroponics

By Mary Ellen Shoup 09-Jul-2018 – :

Local food, hydroponics It wasn’t too long ago when locally-grown produce evoked images of backyard gardens or roadside produce stands many miles outside of city limits. Now, the local produce movement has morphed into an urban-centered industry 8

BrightFarms plans to build 10 to 15 more greenhouses over the next three years.

thanks to the rise of hydroponic greenhouses. One major player in the hydroponic space, BrightFarms, grows local produce nationwide by financing, building, and operating greenhouse farms in urban areas, partnering with nearby supermarket chains, enabling it to quickly and efficiently eliminate time, distance, and costs from the traditional food supply chain.

BrightFarms’ locally-grown lettuce and basil are currently in 650 stores including Walmart, Kroger, Ahold, and Albertsons locations. In two years, the brand has grown its distribution by 225% reaching a household penetration of 1.5 million, CEO Paul Lightfoot said. “We’re a mission-driven company focused on changing the health of our society and our planet by becoming the first national brand of local produce. We work with the nation’s largest retailers to offer a premium, delicious and healthy product at an affordable price for the average consumer,”

Lightfoot told FoodNavigator-USA. And its footprint continues to expand dramatically with a greenhouse set to open in Ohio this summer giving a stronger reach into the Midwest market and another greenhouse opening in Texas in early 2019. Its route to rapid expansion hasn’t been a solo journey however. Bright Farms has brought in more than $100m in funding having recently secured more than $55m in Series D equity financing from investor Cox Enterprises in late June. “This financing will enable us to continue rapid national expansion of BrightFarms’ network of local and sustainable farms,” Lightfoot said.

Like many other players in the space, BrightFarms’ greenhouses consist of a hydroponic system utilizing a combination of natural and artificial light to grow its lettuce varieties and basil. Its distinct advantage is the short distance the company’s produce has to travel to get to stores and eventually in the hands of consumers, resulting in energy and cost savings. BrightFarms CEO Paul Lightfoot says the company has reached 1.5 million households Future of urban hydroponics

According to the company, its operations use 80% less water, 90% less land, and 95% less shipping fuel than longdistance, centralized and field-grown suppliers. Affordably priced for the mainstream shopper, BrightFarms is able to reach a broader audience – who have tended to be priced out of the category – by appealing to their desire for fresh, locally-grown produce, he claimed. “Local is today’s #1 demand trend in both restaurants and supermarkets.

As consumers demand fresher, local food, more major retailers are turning to BrightFarms to meet this demand,” Lightfoot added. The company’s clear local origins has also helped it compete against organic offerings. In fact, the Food Marketing Institute’s 2017 Power of Produce report listed both organic and local as two of the largest trends in fresh food, but noted that consumers have a significant preference for local. Researchers found that when quality, appearance, and price are equivalent, 60% of consumers chose the local option versus just 32% for organic.

At retail, BrightFarms is giving big produce brands a run for their money, according to Lightfoot. “When we enter retailers, we are replacing the shelf space of West Coast distributors. Our program drives incremental category growth while attracting our retailers’ most valuable consumers,” he said. “For retailers, fresher produce also leads to longer shelf life and helps them eliminate waste.” As BrightFarms continues to grow – targeting the buildout of 10 to 15 more greenhouses in the next three years – it remains focused on building greenhouses outside of “densely populated urban cores” as part of its strategic business model of providing access to locally-grown produce at price point where most American shoppers can participate, according to Lightfoot. “The locally-grown food trend is here to stay and is already challenging big agriculture.”

Personalized Foods

Healthy Personalized Foods Might Be Right Around the Corner

The Lempert Report: 3D printing could create ingredients that conform to users’ needs or preferencesWe’ve been touting 3D printing for food opportunities here at The Lempert Report ever since I witnessed and tasted Oreos being 3D printed at SxSW (South by Southwest) five years ago.

We’ve showcased other foods, like pizza being 3D printed, and offered up the idea that 3D printing of food, in retail stores as well as home applications, could be one of the biggest tools in our fight against waste.

Now it gets even more exciting.

Jin-Kyu Rhee, associate professor at Ewha Womans University in South Korea, presented his research findings at the 2018 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting, aimed at applying 3D technology to the creation of customized food that would fit individuals’ unique nutritional needs.

“We built a platform that uses 3D printing to create food microstructures that allow food texture and body absorption to be customized on a personal level,” Rhee said in a press statement. “We think that one day, people could have cartridges that contain powdered versions of various ingredients that would be put together using 3D printing and cooked according to the user’s needs or preferences.”

In Rhee’s research, he and his team re-created the physical properties and nanoscale texture of real food and figured out how to turn carbohydrate and protein powders into food with microstructures that can be adjusted to control texture and absorption by the body.

Take this concept, match it with the DNA results of nutritional tests from Habit or 23andMe and we might be 20 steps closer to what nutraceuticals were meant to be.