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    Published on: January 14, 2008

    IRI’s annual Reinventing CPG and Retail Summit is the industry’s only broad-based, high-level forum taking a closer look at the major issues facing CPG via the application of cutting-edge content, technologies and best practices.

    Scheduled for March 3-5 at the Gaylord Palms Orlando Resort & Convention Center, the Summit will feature a world-class lineup of general session speakers, including Joan Chow, Chief Marketing Officer, ConAgra; Paul Beahm, Senior Vice President/GM Pharmacy, Wal-Mart; Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A's; Cathy Green, Chief Operating Officer, Food Lion; Tom Furphy, General Manager CPG,; and Rob Price, Chief Marketing Officer, CVS Corp.

    And, the 2008 Summit will also feature more than 30 breakout sessions that address today’s most critical business issues. These sessions, led by the industry’s leading domain experts, will feature such topics as “Innovation in Shopper Insights,” “Pricing in Inflationary Times,” “Breakthrough Retail Collaboration Strategies,” and an “Apollo Space Management User Symposium.”

    For more information:
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    SCOTTSALE, Arizona -- Over the next few days, MNB Content Guy Kevin Coupe will be filing regular reports from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Midwinter Executive Conference, being held this year at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona. Check back regularly for updates on presentations made by the likes of Safeway CEO Steve Burd and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, plus reports on sessions focusing on such disparate subjects as cloning and health and wellness marketing.

    Posted: Monday, January 14, 2007, 2:35 pm EST

    Burd, Nooyi Urge Creation Of Coalition Focusing On Health Care, Obesity

    In separate presentations today to the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, the CEOs of Safeway and PepsiCo each threw down a challenge to the industry to create a coalition that can fight obesity in the US and develop a more holistic approach to the health care issue.

    The challenge from Safeway’s Steve Burd certainly had more meat on it, since it came a year after he’d rocked the same conference with a speech about corporate and national health care policy that stressed the importance of personal responsibility, and pledged to create a corporate approach at Safeway that would have enormous impact on both the health of its employees and the health of the company’s bottom line.

    This year, Burd’s update on last year’s speech came after a 12-month period in which his company had negotiated numerous union contracts, each of which had health care-related elements. And if there was one question that hung out there a year ago, it was whether Burd would be able to make his argument stick during negotiations, and convince union leaders that it simply made sense that people who demonstrate unhealthy behaviors should pay higher insurance premiums than people with more healthy lifestyles.

    Remarkably enough, he did. Burd said that in virtually every negotiation, union leaders were willing to adopt a personal responsibility-driven health care model because they understand that if health care costs continue to go up, there will be no money left for pay increases. (And the fact that Safeway is willing to write a rebate check at the end of the year to people who change their behavior and adopt a healthier lifestyle certainly means hat Burd is putting his money where his mouth is.)

    Burd reiterated some of the basic numbers he presented in January 2007 – that 70 percent of all healthcare costs and behavior-driven, that 74 percent of all health care costs are related to four chronic conditions, the vast majority of which can be reduced through a change in personal behavior and that the private sector – through smart and disciplined programs – can reduce costs without shifting costs or turning to the government for assistance. In the case of Safeway, Burd said, health care costs were taken down 13 percent in 2006, remained flat in 2007, and he was convinced that they would stay flat or fall further in 20098.

    Burd noted that the Safeway approach has been two-pronged – it both encourages greater amounts of exercise (through a corporate fitness center and subsidizing gym membership costs in other locations) and better eating (the company cafeterias subsidize healthy meals and charges full market value for less healthy options).

    But there were other, remarkable elements to the Safeway approach that Burd described, including a soon-to-launch concierge service that will assist employees and their family members diagnosed with either cancer or cardiovascular disease. It will, he said, give them some they can call and rely on for support after getting the diagnosis, helping them make the proper and most effective treatment decisions.

    And, he said, Safeway currently is forming a healthcare services company that will endeavor “to help other companies and governments replicate our experience.”

    Burd urged attendees – retailers and manufacturers alike – to join the Coalition to Advocate Healthcare Reform (CAHR), which currently consists of 53 members and is focused on influencing national public policy in the health care arena. The essential concept is to create a mechanism so strong that it will be able to influence, even dictate, national policy in this area because it has been so effective and efficient, creating a market-based healthcare system that focuses on universal coverage and individual responsibility, imbedding real change within both public institutions and private enterprise.

    In the morning’s opening presentation, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi chose to address the obesity crisis in America, urging the food industry – and society at large – to “stop the blame game. You cannot blame one person, industry or government.”

    Nooyi suggested that the industry band together to create a national awareness program on the scale of the “Keep America Beautiful” and “Buckle Up” campaigns. Such a campaign, she said, would develop science-based programs that could be distributed to schools, helping students understand portion control, healthy eating and the importance of moderation; it could also lobby for states to mandate K-12 physical education programs.

    Virtually everyone in the industry can agree on both the goals and the process, Nooyi said. “The hardest part is the will,” he said. And she called for an obesity-focused industry conference that would take place within three months, aimed at pulling together a cohesive and coherent strategy.

    Burd agreed with the suggestion, but emphasized that any obesity strategy has to be a subset of the larger health care debate.

    Note: Michael Sansolo will offer additional analysis in his “Sansolo Speaks” column Tuesday morning.

    In other news...

    • Barry Scher, the longtime vice president of public affairs at Giant Food and Ahold USA, received the FMI 2008 Glen P. Woodard Jr. Public Affairs Award, in recognition of his leadership in helping the industry address governmental issues.

    • Liz Minyard, former co-chair and co-CEO of Minyard’s Food Stores, received the FMI 2008 Sidney R. Rabb Award for community service, especially “her efforts to feed the hungry and help the homeless, students and other people who suffer from chronic diseases.”

    • Tom Infusino, chairman emeritus of Wakefern Food Corp., received the FMI 2008 Herbert Hoover Award for “personal and professional excellence in serving the food retail and wholesale industry.”

    • A.G. Lafley, chairman/CEO of Procter & Gamble, received the FMI 2008 William H. Albers Industry Relations Award.

    Posted: Monday, January 14, 2009, 2:30 a.m. EST

    Drawing A Health Care Map For Food Retailers

    There will be at least two sessions here at FMI Midwinter that will be dedicated to health care. In one, Safeway CEO Steve Burd will present an update to the report he delivered at last year’s conference in Florida, where he outlined his priorities for how companies – and the nation – should deal with the health care crisis. Should be interesting.

    In the other, there will be a panel discussion centering on how supermarket retailers can draw the connection between food and health, a connection that is at the center of a new report prepared by the Coca-Cola Research Council of North America. (Full disclosure: MNB’s Michael Sansolo is a member of the council.)

    The Council has been working with the Institute for the Future’s Health Horizons Program, which resulted in a study entitled “Health and Wellness in Food Retailing: A Map of the Decade.” To get a preview of this “map,” MNB conducted a brief e-interview with Rod Falcon, Co-Director of the Health Horizons Program:

    MNB: Health and wellness is clearly such an important issue for the food industry heading into the future. How does the institute see the issue changing the industry and how does the institute see the industry changing its approach to the issue?

    Rod Falcon: Wellness is going mainstream and is no longer a niche market. Food is fundamental to definitions of wellness, and as more and more people take an active role in managing their health, food choices become closely linked to health. What we eat gets tied to notions of prevention, disease management, energy, appearance, and so on. As a result, health has become an important value proposition, joining taste, price, and convenience as critical factors consumers weigh in making purchasing decisions.

    For food companies and retailers, making the connection for the consumer between food and health is key. As retailers move beyond value pricing to position themselves as stakeholders in the health economy, more consumers will begin to view the grocery store as an important resource in their personal health networks.

    MNB: The Institute frequently produces what you call "artifacts from the future" to describe your insights. What kinds of artifacts are you finding on this topic and what do they tell us?

    Rod Falcon: Part of the craft of forecasting involves helping your audience to experience the future. The Institute’s “artifacts from the future” are internally consistent scenarios that we use to immerse people in the future. Artifacts take the form of everyday objects or experiences we may encounter in five to ten years. One of this project’s artifacts from the future explores the use of mobile devices with robust computing capacity and how the power of online collective intelligence will influence in store shopping experiences.

    MNB: What kinds of steps is the industry - retailers and suppliers – taking today that prepares it well for the future you see?

    Rod Falcon: Food retailers are ideally situated to provide tools to help consumers navigate the connections between food and health. Many stores already provide access to nutrition counseling in person, online, or by phone. We are also seeing diverse re-branding toward wellness. Brand platforms such as Unilever’s Vitality and Safeway’s "Ingredients for Life” are examples of how companies are repositioning themselves and their product portfolios toward the health and wellness marketplace.

    These platforms go beyond re-branding efforts in the traditional marketing sense—they offer brand narratives that are aspirational not only to customers but also to employees. Whatever companies do, they will need to recognize that “health” and “wellness” convey different meanings to different people. Recognizing and responding to this spectrum of shoppers in the health and wellness marketplace will be key.

    MNB: How does the institute develop its insights? And has your approach been the same working the Coca-Cola Retail Research Council?

    Rod Falcon: The Institute for the Future’s research generates the foresight needed to create insights that lead to action. Our forecasting toolkit includes a variety of research methodologies. For this project, we held a series of expert workshops and conversations, conducted ethnography in people’s homes and observed them on shopping trips, and surveyed more than 1000 U.S. households.

    Much of our insight into the future also comes from synthesizing information across other ongoing research efforts at IFTF, including those exploring the future of food and food markets, new media and online health affinities, and so called green values and sustainability.

    MNB: What insights do you think will resonate most with the crowd at FMI Midwinter?

    Rod Falcon: We will share insights that come from several key forecasts, which include, for example, “wellness goes mainstream,” “anytime, anyplace health,” “nutrition information get customized,” and “health-driven transparency.” Our forecasts are the big stories on the horizon that we see shaping the future of food, health, and sustainability, and giving rise to a range of opportunities and threats that will demand strategic responses. The insights generated from these forecasts will help food retailers plan adequately for the future.

    KC's View:
    Over the last six years, it seems like the obesity issue has come up in some sort of MNB story at least once a week … and while I think there is a public policy role that government can play, the country – and individual consumers – will be far better off if the notion of individual responsibility is front-and-center.

    This is the central thesis advanced by Safeway’s Burd, and I find it no less compelling today than I did a year ago. In fact, it may be more compelling, because real, not just theoretical, dollars and cents are beginning to be show up in the ledger, even as care gets better and people become more responsible.

    Burd’s argument, at its most basic, is this. As a driver, you get better insurance rates if you have a good record than if you have a bad driving history. That same formula should be applied to health insurance.

    I have to say that it is impressive the extent to which Steve Burd has made this issue a kind of personal mission … and I am convinced that part of the reason he is so successful – and persuasive – is that this has become a personal passion, one that he lives and well as preaches. It isn’t just about money, but doing something that can have lasting impact on society as well as business.

    It’s strong medicine for business, but it would not appear that there is any other legitimate option than to take it.

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    The Financial Times reports this morning that Wal-Mart plans to launch a new small-store format called “Marketside,” which will be about 20,000 square feet and “comparable” to the 128 Neighborhood Market format that it has used in a number of markets. However, FT postulates that Marketside’s logo - green lettering with a stylized tomato, egg and grape topped by a Wal-Mart blue star – indicates that the store could have a strong fresh foods focus.

    The stores appear to be a direct rejoinder to British retailer Tesco, which has been rolling out its own small stores, dubbed Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets – in the western US. The first four Marketsides are slated to be opened in Arizona later this year, and some of them will be located less than a mile from new Fresh & easy units. They are all on street corners formerly occupied by drug stores, and will join 12 Supercenters and five Neighborhood Markets currently operating in Arizona.

    And, FT writes, most significantly the new Marketside format potentially gives the retailer “a way for Wal-Mart to grow into cities and states where its Supercenter expansion has been slowed by union-backed political opposition.”

    KC's View:
    Good “get” by FT, and a story that certainly will have some significance for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) executive conference currently meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    As noted above, I am in Arizona for the FMI confab, and spent part of Saturday visiting two different Fresh & Easy stores – one in Scottsdale, and one in Chandler. Now, it is important to note that the visits could have been badly timed – one was at noon, the other at 9 pm – and I could have missed the busy times. But in each case, the store was pretty much empty, with very few people walking the aisles except for employees.

    The lack of customers makes Fresh & Easy look even more antiseptic than they did on the opening weekend in California, where a surfeit of customers compensated for a décor package that is minimalist, to say the least.

    And there were oddities that we noticed that simply didn’t make sense. A package of pre-cooked chicken wings, for example, looked so white and pasty that it was hard to imagine that they’d ever been cooked – in fact, they were about as unappetizing looking as I could imagine. The sushi, which tasted pretty good and very fresh when I had it in the California stores, was cold and heavy on the tongue. And in the Chandler store, where it seemed like the few other customers who were there were all speaking Spanish, only one of the 20+ magazines on display was a Spanish-language publication…surprising for Tesco, a company which always has prided itself on knowing volumes about individual customers and then acting on that knowledge.

    One other quick note. Fresh & Easy has always been big on its private label, and yet the first thing you see when you walk in the door are stacks of two-liter Diet Coke bottles selling for 89 cents apiece. And much of the literature is promoting national brands at discount prices…which somehow doesn’t seem in synch with what Fresh & Easy was supposed to be about – a transformational shopping experience that would change the way Americans shop.

    Again, these are just quick observations based on limited time spent in the two Fresh & Easy stores – but they added up to a concern that the company isn’t delivering on the promise, and may be facing an even bigger challenge from the new Wal-Mart format.

    Or, it just could be that t is taking longer than expected for Tesco to get its groove here in the US.

    Either way, I suspect the competitive waters are about to get a lot more treacherous.

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    Interesting piece yesterday in the New York Times about how the airlines – long leaders in the creation of frequent flier loyalty programs – may have misjudged and mismanaged the concept. That’s the feeling of James T. Kane, who in addition to being a frequent airline passenger also happens to be a corporate consultant on customer loyalty.

    The quandary in which many airlines find themselves is that as they have emphasized efficiency in search of profitability, they have alienated many of their best customers by eroding the benefits associated with their frequent flier programs. The Times writes that the airlines’ “chief brand-builders, those elite-status frequent flier programs, may merely reinforce a customer’s dislike of a company that he or she feels forced, not motivated, to use, Mr. Kane contends.

    “We don’t look on those perks as privileges,” Kane tells the paper. “We merely see them as entitlements. To get mine, I had to fly 178,000 miles last year. At the same time, every delay, every missed connection and overcrowded plane, every bad meal, every time somebody reclined a seat and rammed it into my knees - it doesn’t matter if it was caused by circumstances beyond the airline’s control or not, I blamed them for all of it.”

    The big problem is that airlines may be misinterpreting the fact that a lot of passengers keep flying them; they believe that the customers are loyal, but these “best customers” instead feel trapped. They need to fly certain airlines to get some basic amenities, but their trust is consistently abused and neglected…and that only builds hostility, even as they keep flying the airline. In other words, they are not really loyal at all.

    The Times writes: “True customer loyalty is defined by long-term trust that a company anticipates a customer’s needs, Mr. Kane said. ‘The airlines keep trying to change your behavior rather than changing theirs,’ he said. ‘When an airline makes a big mistake, they want to give me more miles. They don’t understand: I really don’t want to get on your plane under the conditions you’re subjecting me to. Give me good service instead’.”

    KC's View:
    This just struck me as a relevant piece to bring to your attention, because it reflects a misnomer in the food retailing business – people keep talking about loyalty marketing programs, when the card programs they often are using are just glorified electronic discount programs. Which explains, of course, why so many customers have a multitude of cards in their wallets – they’ll use them wherever they can get the best price. And still they refer to them as loyalty card programs and think they have loyal shoppers.

    As someone who flew well in excess of 100,000 miles each of the last two years, I would agree with the fact that the three basic advantages of having elite status has everything to do with avoiding lines – you get to bypass many of the lines when checking in, you often get to get on the plane first, and you get to sit near the front so you can avoid the long line getting off the plane. And that’s pretty much it – not insignificant, but not exactly a bonanza of benefits.

    Of course, in most supermarkets, best shoppers – generally the ones making the largest purchases – usually get to wait on the longest lines. That’s one of the reasons I was so impressed with the new system being tested by Hannaford, in which customers with 25 items or more are able to use the “Go Cart Curb Service.” They simply leave the cart with store employees, who scan the groceries, bag them, and then carry them out to the customer’s car, which the shopper can drive up to a covered bay. The customer can use a wireless unit to pay for the groceries, and drive away.

    That’s a great start, and one that more retailer sought to emulate, finding ways to put their own spin on it. And while I know there is a lot of resistance to this, there ought to be a way to reward “gold card” customers who spend an average of $100 a week or more.

    But the overarching message is worth paying attention to: don't misinterpret frequency as loyalty. Because they’re not necessarily the same thing.

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    The Associated Press reported over the weekend that Kroger and Procter & Gamble “are partners in a digital coupon trial that began last month. Other supermarket companies around the country have been trying out ways to offer digital discounts in addition to the traditional clip-outs from newspapers and mailings.” The system, according to the story, has shoppers loading online discounts onto their store loyalty cards, receiving the credit at the checkout.

    “Although online coupons for ordering everything from DVDs to laptops on the Internet have been around for several years, couponing, especially for groceries, is still dominated by paper. Digital use by companies with the combined reach of Cincinnati-based P&G and Kroger could help transform habits.”

    The story also notes that “Giant Eagle, a Pittsburgh-based regional chain, in November launched ‘E-offers,’ allowing customers to load coupons for 20-plus products, including national brands such as Minute Maid orange juice and Kellogg's cereal, to their loyalty cards. Giant Eagle spokesman Dan Donovan said it plans to expand paperless coupons as customers become familiar with the program.

    KC's View:
    It seems clear to me that if couponing is to survive as a strategy, manufacturers and retailers have to find new ways to get them into consumers’ hands.

    Here’s the image you need to think about: Can you imagine that in ten years a shopper weaned on FaceBook and YouTube would ever clip coupons from a magazine or be interested in the coupons stuffed in the Sunday paper? (If indeed there is a Sunday paper!)

    I can’t. It just seems incomprehensible. And so all segments of the marketplace need to start thinking about what the world will look like in 190 years, what customers will want and need, and how to start building a business to cater to those shoppers.

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    The Washington Post reports that the European Food Safety Authority has declared “that meat and milk from healthy cloned cattle and pigs is ‘very unlikely’ to pose risks to consumers, opening the door to possible European sales of those controversial foods in the future.”

    The EU statement comes as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reported to be about to issue a formal finding saying almost the same thing – that there is no discernible difference between food that comes from cloned animals and food that comes from animals created in more traditional ways.

    There is a difference, however. Food and milk from cloned animals will be able to be sold once the FDA issues its ruling, but it is a much tougher road in Europe.

    The Post reports: “It remains unclear…whether the European Union will ultimately approve the sale of cloned products, and if so, under what conditions.

    “Unlike in the United States, such decisions in Europe must incorporate social and ethical factors. And the European public broadly supports the ‘precautionary principle,’ which calls for society to err on the side of caution when risks are uncertain.

    “Moreover, the European agency, which provides scientific advice to the European Commission, noted in its report that many cloned farm animals have health problems, including life-threatening physiological abnormalities. In Europe, where animal welfare is a much higher-profile issue than it is in the United States, that reality could also become a stumbling block.”

    KC's View:
    I sort of like the “precautionary principle,” and think that this is one of the reasons that clear and unambiguous labeling seems like such a necessary move. Customers will be able to make decisions for themselves…and will respond positively to transparency.

    By the way, there will be a discussion of cloning and consumers this week at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference. Should be interesting…and stay tuned to MorningNewsBeat for updates.

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    The New York Times reports that Procter & Gamble has for the first time bought time on the Super Bowl – at a cost of $2.7 million for 30 seconds – to advertise its Tide To Go instant stain remover.

    There are, according to the Times, three reasons for the buy:

    One, in today’s fragmented media marketplace, there are few places where companies can advertise and get a truly mass audience. The Super Bowl is one of them.

    Two, there is, according to the Times, “a growing number of women who tune in the game. In some years, more women have watched the Super Bowl than the Oscars, a show with such potent female appeal that it has been nicknamed on Madison Avenue ‘the Super Bowl for women’.”

    And three, Tide To Go is perceived by P&G as being as attractive to men as to women.

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    • The Lakeland Ledger reports that “Publix Super Markets Inc. has settled a consumer lawsuit and reformulated one of its private label sodas over concerns that the carcinogen benzene could form in the drink … The lawsuit alleged that two ingredients of the grocer's diet lemon lime soda, when combined and exposed to heat over a period of time, may form a small amount of benzene measured in single digits of parts per billion. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed..

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that UK retailer Somerfield has gotten inquiries from four different – and so far, unidentified - parties interested in acquiring the company. However, the company, which is privately held, has not yet decided whether to hold talks with any or all of the interested parties.

    Update: One report in the UK press this morning says that Wal-Mart’s Asda Group is one of the interested companies, though Wal-Mart has not confirmed that report.

    Crain’s Chicago Business reports that a survey of McDonald’s franchisees released last Friday indicates the fast feeder’s business has begun to slow down, with “sales in existing stores up only 1.8% in December, the lowest gain in the six-year history of the survey.” The slowdown comes as the company enjoys 55 months of uninterrupted growth, and a streak of what generally is perceived as smart marketing moves that have contributed to its turnaround.

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that Howard Schultz, who returned as Starbucks’ CEO last week after expressing concerns about a too-thick bureaucracy and a sales slowdown in US stores that had led to a 48 percent drop in the company’s stock price, announced some senior management moves on Friday.

    Michelle Gass, who has been managing the blended beverage category, was named senior vice president, global strategy.

    Terry Davenport was named senior vice president, marketing, a new position.

    According to the Journal, “Harry Roberts, a former Starbucks executive, is returning to the company as senior vice president and chief creative officer, also a new position. He will be responsible for improving store merchandise, as well as the look and feel inside the stores.”

    And, Chet Kuchinad was named executive vice president, partner resources, succeeding David Pace, who left that position for personal reasons at the end of 2007.

    The Journal writes, “Chris Bruzzo was named vice president, chief technology officer as well as acting chief information officer. Previously, Brian Crynes was the company's CIO and he is leaving the company. Also gone in the shakeup is Sandra Taylor, who had been Starbucks' senior vice president, corporate social responsibility. A Starbucks spokesman wouldn't elaborate on the reasons for their departures … Starbucks also indicated that two other top executives are staying put for now. Chief Operating Officer Martin Coles and Chief Financial Officer Pete Bocian, both of whom got those jobs last year, will continue to work with Mr. Schultz, the company said. Starbucks said it also plans to hire an executive to lead global real -state design and architecture, as well as an executive to head the public-affairs function, which includes overseeing the company's corporate social responsibility efforts.”

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    • Carl Karcher, who started off by spending $325 on a hot dog cart that evolved into a hamburger chain – Carl’s Jr. – that did more than a billion dollars in sales last year, died Friday at age 90.
    KC's View:

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    MNB had a story last week about how Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is asking the city’s Public Health Commission not to allow retailers such as CVS to open in-store health clinics; Massachusetts state health officials have decided to allow the clinics, but Menino continues to resist. Meanwhile, Boston’s Public Health Commission has voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to a ban of trans fat from French fries, doughnuts, and other food sold in restaurants and corner stores.

    My comment: These two attitudes would appear to be counter-intuitive. While the argument against in-store health clinics is that it interferes with patient care, I just don't see it. Rather, I think it simply makes basic treatment available to consumers in an accessible and affordable format. Isn’t that what better health care is supposed to be about? I can’t help but feel that the attitude toward health clinics has more to do with political pressure being brought by doctors and hospitals, which itself is probably rooted more in the profit motive than in the Hippocratic oath.

    One MNB user responded:

    As I read your view on this article, I almost fell out of my seat! The words were almost verbatim what I was thinking. Although in-store clinics certainly will not solve healthcare issues in this country, why not let people with limited or no access to healthcare this opportunity? I seriously doubt the D of H would allow substandard facilities to operate under the guise of health clinics.

    The politics really boils down to $$$. Apparently CVS didn’t grease Mayor Menino up enough.

    MNB user Dale Tillotson wrote:

    Not sure what oath the mayor of Boston is sworn to, but if it has anything to do with the serving of the people, then he has turned it into the hypocritical oath.

    Another MNB user chimed in:

    If memory serves me right, the various medical workers unions have been loyal contributors to The Mayor’s campaigns. It looks like they are getting their return on their investment. No doubt they perceive that low cost easily available professional medical care would be a threat to their high-cost time consuming alternative. It has been said that the US spends more per capita on medical care than the rest of the developed world. I’m sure that politicians fighting efficiency moves like this is one of the reasons.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    Funny how we look to ban trans fats to help consumers make their personal decision to eat donuts made with these ingredients, but have trouble banning cigarettes to help those consumers.

    Tangentially, we also got another email about cigarettes…this one about Wegmans’ decision to ban the sale of all tobacco products:

    Quite possibly Wegmans may be more concerned with future lawsuits based on the fact that supermarkets are big tobacco pushers (in some smart litigators’ eyes). So eliminating the butts not only differentiates them from others, it also keeps them out of future impending lawsuits. May sound a little conspiratorial, but I bet it’s correct.

    Not sure I agree. I think the lawsuit ship has sailed….if someone were going to try to hold retailers responsible for people’s tobacco addiction, it would have happened a long time ago.

    On the subject of making reusable bags available to customers, MNB user Lucretia Nesbitt wrote:

    Just thought you might want to know ...

    At my local Wal-Mart here in Dallas, TX, there are reusable shopping bags for sale for $1.00 per bag. They weren't canvas, but made from recycled materials. The tag on them stated that 4 soda bottles were saved from landfills in the making of each bag. The bags were located at each cash register and self-check station and our cashier actually seemed knowledgeable about them as well!

    Got the following email from MNB user Bill Bodine:

    I really enjoy your newsletter. As a person who is responsible for industry affairs for a farm organization, I always appreciate the chance to read the thoughts of those in the food industry who reside further up the value chain. I rarely feel the need to comment, but in today’s edition I noticed one comment that compelled me to respond.

    In today’s “Your Views” was the following:

    “Regarding a study saying that low-fat and nonfat dairy products may be linked to higher incidence of certain cancers, one MNB user wrote:

    ‘It would be interesting to find out if these studies were done on non organic milk which is filled with hormones and antibiotics which are known to cause cancer. My bet would be that it was.’

    It concerns me greatly when I see comments like this based completely on false information. ALL milk, regardless of how it is produced, naturally contains hormones. In fact, there are no significant hormone differences between organic or non-organic milk. The primary differences between the two types of milk are the farm practices used to produce the milk and the price.

    As for antibiotics….there are NO antibiotics in milk. When a tanker load of milk arrives at a bottling facility, it is tested for antibiotics. If ANY antibiotics are found, the entire load is disposed of and not used. Again, this occurs regardless of the method of production. So there are not antibiotics in milk….organic or non-organic.

    It causes me heartburn to see people attack products when they have little factual knowledge regarding the production practices used. This is becoming a common occurrence with food products as fewer and fewer people understand how food is grown.

    And, we got one more email worth noting, this one from MNB user Chuck Lungstrom:

    I was very intrigued by your comments concerning Jim Donald and the qualities he possesses as a leader. I could not help but be reminded of another great leader in the grocery industry, Howard Dickelman, that sadly has recently passed on. Howard was the CEO/Board Chairman of Schultz Sav-O Stores, Inc. Howard was also Secretary/Treasurer of Topco Associates and on their Board of Directors. Howard served the Piggly Wiggly National Operators Association as Secretary-Treasurer, Vice President and President.

    Howard Dickelman truly defined the term leader. His leadership style caused the people that knew him to want to follow him. We wanted to do good for him and the company he ran because of the respect and dignity he would treat everyone he came in contact with. Howard made a point of visiting every store in his company on a regular basis. It didn’t matter if I had not seen him for several months or longer, Howard always seemed genuinely glad to see me and he even remembered my name….every time. It was not just me, that’s the way he was with everyone in the company. When I progressed on to help the company in setting up and opening new stores, we all looked forward to that special moment just before opening when Howard would make his rounds, checking out the store. Our goal was perfection and even though we may not have achieved it, Howard made us feel that we had and gave us the positive motivation that took us into the grand opening with confidence. Howard was the consummate gentleman. The culture that he created for the company was one of family. We all felt that we were part of a large family and Howard made us feel that we were all important to that family.

    In this world of efficiency vs. effectiveness, it is very gratifying to know that companies, like the one Howard Dickelman ran, can survive and be successful and still maintain a culture that causes employees to enjoy their work and customers to enjoy the shopping experience that is created for them.

    I know that I am not alone when I say that Howard was a giant in this industry and will be sorely missed.

    KC's View:

    Published on: January 14, 2008

    In the National Football League Divisional Playoffs:

    Seattle 20
    Green Bay 42

    Jacksonville 20
    New England 31

    San Diego 28
    Indianapolis 24

    NY Giants 21
    Dallas 17

    KC's View: