business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Southeastern Grocers, parent company to Fresco y Más, Harveys, and Winn-Dixie said that it "has reopened nearly all of its Florida stores and has extended its current in-store community donation benefiting the American Red Cross. Winn-Dixie also executed relief efforts this week with distributions of free water, ice, food and cleaning essentials to more than 2,000 families in the highly impacted areas of Englewood, Port Charlotte and Pine Island.

"The grocer activated mobile pharmacies to offer preventive vaccines and essential medications, along with food pantries to provide shelf-stable products, fresh produce, water, ice and essential cleaning supplies in affected areas where stores remain closed."

•  The Columbus Dispatch reports that "Kroger union workers at 82 stores in Ohio have signed off on a new contract with the grocer after rejecting previous ones.

"Members of the Local 1059 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union approved the contract by a vote of 3,546 to 3,193 this week … The local has about 12,500 members in a region that extends to 47 counties in central, north-northwest, and south-southeast Ohio including cities such as Mansfield, Zanesville and Portsmouth."

•  The Washington Post has a story about how "alternative meats, which may include plant-derived products and animal meat grown from cells in labs, are becoming increasingly popular with consumers and investors. Market revenue is expected to roughly double, to $12.3 billion by 2029, according to market-research consultants Fortune Business Insights. However, some traditional-meat producers are skeptical that substitutes will continue to see rapid growth. They say alternatives fail to replicate the taste of animal meat and are likely to be eaten regularly only by a small group of consumers."

That said, the Post writes, "In regions such as Southeast Asia that have fast-growing populations and are grappling with food export restrictions, substitutes for traditional meat are emerging as a reliable protein alternative. And it’s not just attracting vegetarians: The meat alternatives industry is becoming a darling of food security experts, venture capitalists and companies trying to protect themselves from supply chain crunches.

"Such alternatives often require less space, water, time and materials to make, according to researchers, making them more resilient to the supply chain shocks that have recently plagued the animal meat industry. In parts of the world, such as Northern Europe, some alternatives are becoming as cheap as traditional meat, a shift investors hope will reach more price-conscious consumers in less wealthy countries that are increasingly consuming meat."

•  The Boston Globe reports that Dunkin' has rolled out a new version of its Dunkin' Rewards loyalty program, with the bottom line being that it "has customers spending $50 to get a free coffee — $10 more than the previous system … And if you want a beverage beyond a standard coffee, you’ll need to spend even more. A free Dunkin’ Refresher, hot or iced espresso, or Cold Brew will run you 700 points, or $70. And while you can now claim a frozen coffee drink as your treat, you’ll need 900 points ($90) to redeem one."

Customers, the Globe writes, are unhappy, and took to social media to voice their frustrations.

However, the story also notes that "unlike before, customers will now be able to use rewards points to unlock free food items, including classic doughnuts, bagels, and various breakfast sandwiches.

"And for true Dunks devotees, there’s even more: an all-new 'Boosted Status,' a special loyalty tier for customers who make 12 purchases in one month. Boosted Status gives customers 12 points for every $1 spent, a 20 percent bump from the standard rewards system."

I read this, and my first thought is that it seems likely that Dunkin' simply did not do a very good job of communicating the rationale behind the changes.  Any change is bound to upset some folks, but a company can mitigate the impact by communicating clearly and effectively.  (See our Monday Eye Opener, above.)