retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We’ve had two stories over the past week or so that one MNB user connected in a way that makes a lot of sense. One story was about how Whole Foods plans to double its sales by 2010, and the other was about how college campuses are dramatically improving their cafeteria offerings. This MNB user wrote:

Not sure about Wal-Mart really “getting it”, but it is why John Mackey can make statements about doubling the size of Whole Foods. It’s called the “Whole Foods Effect”…

We reported yesterday about speculation that we’ve heard about the possibility that Supervalu might decide to sell off Bristol Farms once its acquisition of Albertsons is complete. MNB user David J. Livingston responded:

Do you really think Supervalu would sell Bristol Farms? Just as they are getting into natural foods with their Sunflower format? And would selling off 12 or 13 stores really make much of a dent in their huge debt? I think Supervalu intends to keep the stores they bought…

We waxed rhapsodic about Trader Joe’s the other day, which led MNB user Jack Cavanaugh to respond:

I totally agree with the comments about why it's so much fun shopping at a Trader Joe's and how they maintain low prices, interesting sounding products and excellent customer service. However, they have (for us at least) an extraordinarily low hit rate of things we would buy again, so we are amazed at how they continue to succeed so well!

We’ve been in conflict with some of the food industry’s biggest organizations over the National Uniformity for Food Act, which would have the effect of creating national food safety laws that would supersede state laws. Organizations such as FMI and GMA believe that national standards would be more effective, but we’ve confessed to having little faith in federal agencies in looking out for consumer interests…and we’re not sure that the industry helps itself in the long run with these positions.

One MNB user responded:

This food safety bill is written for and by the corporations. Just as Congress has gutted pollution laws now they want to dis-inform consumers of what is in their food, no matter what the outcome, I can assure you that we consumers will find a way thru blogging or otherwise to inform others what ingredients is in our food.

Once again, Congress has proven that it works mostly for those who pay them political contributions and the hell with the rest of us.

On the subject of declining soft drink sales, MNB user Nick Arlt wrote:

In the FastNewsBeat today, it talks about soda sales being down. I know the popular answer and probably the biggest cause is people are probably starting to think about what they drink. Could another answer be that Coke & Pepsi are focusing more and more attention to different market segments?

In our stores, it quite often is Dasani and Aquafina included in coupons where it never used to. On top of that, Coke is pushing PowerAde and Pepsi is pushing Gatorade in a very fast-growing category. Finally, with the huge increase in energy drinks, they are both trying to jump into those markets with both feet.

I guess the question with all of this is a chicken vs. the egg type discussion. Are soda sales down because Coke & Pepsi are trying to find alternatives or are Coke & Pepsi trying to find alternatives because soda sales are down?

One last thought, Starbucks keeps coming up in your MorningNewsBeat. As people start to drink more and more coffee and have it readily available at any time of the day, could this be the substitution causing a lot of problems?

Coffee used to be a breakfast/brunch drink. Now, it is breakfast/brunch, a quick snack between meals, a meal replacement, a “treat” when wanting to pamper yourself, an excuse for social gathering and with all the flavors and types can be hot, cold and frozen. When was the last time you suggested going to “grab a soda” with a friend? Maybe Pepsi or Coke needs to open a café where people can study and relax.

Are we wrong, or did you just describe the old-fashioned soda shoppe? Actually, that could be a hell of an idea…
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