January 8, 2019
On the Retail Front
Eighty-four percent of convenience store retailers say in-store sales increased in 2018 , according to a survey by NACS. The strong sales were led by foodservice gains and continued growth of better-for-you items. While 85% of retailers are optimistic about their prospects for first quarter 2019, the top concerns cited for the year are labor issues, regulations/legislation, economic concerns, and competition from other convenience stores or other formats.  Full Story

Amazon introduced Key for Garage and Key for Business  to allow customers to receive deliveries in their garage, as well as at commercial and residential properties. The services aim to eliminate delivery hurdles such as potential theft and missed deliveries.  Full Story

Publix Supermarkets will launch more locations prominently featuring its deli department , according to a company spokesman. The stores are about 48,000-sq. ft. and most are scheduled for 2019 openings, reported  Progressive Grocer Full Story
Amazon is reportedly looking to to build a "new perishable food platform" to deliver meal solutions , based on a job description the company listed on its website, but has since been taken down. Ready meals would be available through the company's Prime Now network of last mile delivery solutions and its Amazon Go and Whole Foods locations, reported  TJI Research Full Story

Carl Icahn is reportedly no longer invested in Dollar Tree , according to people familiar with the matter. The investor took a stake of nearly 2% in the dollar store chain in fall 2018, reported  New York Post Full Story

Buy online/pick up in-store (BOPIS) is seen as a key element driving shopper journeys , but only 27.5% of U.S. retailers have deployed the service, according to a survey from OrderDynamics. In contrast, 64%, 50.5% and 31% of retailers have adopted the technology in the UK, France and Canada, respectively. About 42.1% of U.S. retailers allow for buy online/return in-store, in-line with the 46.7% of merchants that allow the service globally, reported  Retail Touch Points Full Story

Shipt signed a lease to occupy 60,000-sq. ft in Birmingham, AL , which it will consider a second headquarters. The space will support the company's expansion in the city, including adding 881 jobs, reported  Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Full Story  (Subscription Required)

Amazon topped Microsoft as the most valuable U.S. company.  This is the first time Amazon has held the top spot and ends Microsoft's brief return to number one after surpassing Apple in November 2018, reported  The Boston Herald.   Full Story

Small-business owners' confidence in the U.S. economy fell for the fourth consecutive month  in December 2018 and their outlook on business conditions fell to the lowest level since late 2016, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Fewer respondents from a month earlier thought now was a good time to expand their operations, as several cited economic conditions and the political climate, reported  The Wall Street Journal Full Story  ( WSJ  Subscription Required)

UK shoppers spent a record $37.3 billion at supermarkets in the 12 weeks before Christmas , according to Kantar Worldpanel.   Two-thirds of households visited Aldi or Lidl as the pair took a combined 12.8% share of the UK grocery market. Among the top four grocers, Asda was the leader with 0.7% sales growth.  Full Story

Grabango secured $12 million in Series A financing to expand its checkout-free technology  for existing stores. The company will use the funds to grow its product development team and expand client store deployments of its technology. The round brings Grabango's total funding to $18 million.  Full Story

Costco  will open a location in Coral Springs, FL, reported  The South Florida Sun-Sentinel Full Story
Supplier News
H.I.G. Capital acquired Sterling Investment Partners' interests in Lipari Foods Operating Co. LLC . Lipari expects the deal to grow its distribution and manufacturing capabilities.  Full Story

Impossible Foods plans to roll out a new Impossible Burger recipe  that features better taste and improved nutritional qualities. The new recipe will contain no gluten, hormones or antibiotics, and the company argues the replacement of wheat protein with soy protein will provide a more traditional meat-like texture, reported  Forbes Full Story

Kuna Food Service acquired some assets of Hautly Cheese Co. , including all Hautly branded cheeses and most of the brand's distribution. Kuna will distribute the products in eastern Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. Kuna's larger distribution system will allow it to expand availability of Hautly cheeses outside the St. Louis area and to more independent markets and foodservice outlets, reported  St. Louis Business Journal Full Story  (Subscription Required)

Cloverleaf Cold Storage entered into an agreement to merge with Zero Mountain Inc . With approximately 140 million-cu. ft. of capacity in nine states, the combined companies will become the fifth largest cold storage warehouse in the U.S.  Full Story

Mondelez International will relocate its headquarters to Chicago . The 77,100-sq. ft. space will include employees of Enjoy Life Foods, an allergy-friendly snack line it acquired in 2015, reported  Crain's Chicago Business Full Story

H-E-B named EverCrisp as its January apple-of-the-month.  The MAIA-1 apple variety, marketed as EverCrisp, combines the best features of its parent varieties, Honeycrisp and Fuji.  Full Story

Blue Moose  launched Organic On The Go Hummus Snack Packs and Organic Moose Minis 100 Calorie Single Serve Cups.  Full Story

Starbucks  will introduce Iced Espresso Almondmilk in Caffe Latte and Caffe Mocha flavors at grocery stores.  Full Story

Koia  launched the Koia Keto dessert-inspired beverage line at Whole Food Market
Consumer Insights
Nearly 60% of consumers who engage in clean eating research their foods online , according to The NPD Group's  Eating Patterns in America.  More than a quarter of adults rely on social media for information on GMOs and in which food they're found, and consumers engaged in lifestyles like paleo, Whole30, and plant-based often find their communities online.  Full Story

Thirty-four percent of Americans would consider incorporating plant-based foods into their diets  to achieve New Year's health goals, according to a YouGov survey conducted for Kite Hill. Over half of the participants reported interest in trying a product made from almond milk, and 80% indicated flavor is an important factor in the decision to try plant-based foods.  Full Story
You Should Know...
An average of 97% of the Seattle sweetened beverages tax was passed on to consumers , according University of Washington researchers. Sodas increased in price more than sugar-sweetened juices and bottled coffee drinks, while smaller stores increased their prices more than supermarkets, as well as raising prices for beverages not subject to the tax, such as diet sodas.  Full Story

A potential class action lawsuit alleges Trader Joe's misleadingly represents its Honey Nut O's cereal  as being primarily sweetened with honey. The lawsuit contends the product only contains a "miniscule" amount of honey and is primarily sweetened with white and brown sugar, reported  Legal Newsline Full Story

Grand Strand Sandwich Co. voluntarily recalled Lunch Box Italian subs, ham and Swiss croissants and ham and cheese frozen wedges  due to potential listeria contamination. The products were primarily sold in convenience stores in North Carolina and South Carolina.  Full Story
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