retail news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB Archive Search

Please Note: Some MNB articles contain special formatting characters, and may cause your search to produce fewer results than expected.

    Published on: May 2, 2008

    The Boston Globe reports that a proposal that would give a new Wegmans store in Westwood, Massachusetts, about 20 miles southwest of Boston, the town's first liquor license for offsite consumption, is drawing fire from Roche Bros., which has had a store in town for almost four decades.

    Roche Bros. is actively campaigning against the legislative proposal, which it feels would give Wegmans an unfair competitive advantage.

    "Westwood is a dry town, so we never thought it was a possibility," Rick Roche tells the Globe.

    According to the story, Wegmans has not made a final decision to open the Westwood store, which would be part of a massive retail development and would be the company’s first Massachusetts unit. Getting the liquor license, the Globe reports, is a key factor in its decision-making process.

    KC's View:
    Whatever happens, Westwood has the potential of being a foodie paradise if it has both a Roche Bros. and a Wegmans.

    Published on: May 2, 2008

    Safeway yesterday announced that all of its stores will cash for free the economic stimulus checks being distributed by the federal government, and will award customers who have a Club Card a 10 percent discount certificate that is good on purchases made within 48 hours.

    "We are pleased to offer this no-cost check cashing service and to provide customers with an extra discount to help stretch these funds farther,” said Safeway CEO Steve Burd. "We understand that most people have plans for their checks. Our program provides consumers the freedom to allocate their rebates according to their needs, while enjoying a 10 percent savings if they spend some of it at Safeway.”

    The program runs from May 14 through July 19, 2008.

    KC's View:
    The supermarket business in general has responded smartly to the issuance of the economic stimulus checks. Good to see.

    Published on: May 2, 2008

    Interesting new report out from The Hartman Group entitled "A Convenience Truth," in which the research company looks at how shoppers really define convenience.

    What exactly do consumers mean by “convenience”, the Hartman Group asks. "Is it the thrill of finding an open parking space next to the store entrance or the ability to prepare, consume and tidy up after a completely nutritious meal in less time than it takes to read this sentence? And just what does saving time have to do with convenience? More to the point, what are consumers looking for when they say they value convenience?

    "For its part, the food industry (broadly construed) has variously identified and solved the problem of convenience for us over and over again. We now enjoy convenient parking, convenient locations, convenience stores and, of course, convenience foods. Are these offerings really in step with today’s convenience-minded consumers?"

    Some interesting statistical comparisons from the Hartman research:

    • About two thirds (66%) of shoppers say that convenience is very if not extremely important, compared to 34 percent who say that a brand name is very or extremely important, and 73 percent say that low prices are critical.

    • More than one out of every five consumers (23%) wouldn’t pay a cent extra for convenience food, but almost as many consumers (20%) would pay up to 5% extra for convenience food and even more consumers (30%) would be willing to pay as much as 10% extra.

    KC's View:
    Seems to me that a lot of folks on both the retail and manufacturing sides of the food business – myself included – probably define convenience in single-minded ways, but depending on who the customer is, the real value of convenience could have very different definitions. For some people it is about time, for others it is about effort. For still others – and I think this pretty much defines the next generation of shoppers – it means having what they want where they want it, how they ant it, when they want it, at a price they think is appropriate.

    It is up to the marketer to dill down on his or her target shoppers - perfect shoppers, to steal the term used by Beau Fraser in our e-interview earlier this week and his book, "Death To All Sacred Cows."

    Published on: May 2, 2008

    As previously announced here on MNB, May will bring the debut of new webcast called FoodWireTV, designed to be help consumers shop, cook, and eat smart…and the first edition will in part be shot on location at the Food Marketing Institute and United Fresh Marketplace shows scheduled for next week in Las Vegas.

    The premiere program will be looking almost exclusively at new food products – so if you have one that you believe will knock consumers' socks off, send an email to so our video crew can stop by your booth. FoodWireTV will be seen in a wide range of online venues, including on, so it is a great opportunity for significant exposure for your products.

    KC's View:
    One last note – we're thrilled to announce that the debut edition of FoodWireTV is being sponsored by Kellogg's. Which we think is just grrrrreat.

    See you in Vegas.

    Published on: May 2, 2008

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to hire as many as 1,300 scientists and pharmacologists "as part of a new expansion of its drug approval and safety operations mandated by Congress last year … The 1,300 hires will add to the agency's 10,000 employees and nearly triples the number of people hired by the FDA from 2005-2007."

    • The Washington Post reports that Tyson Foods has been ordered by a federal appeals court "to dismantle a national multimillion dollar ad campaign centered on the claim that its chickens are raised without antibiotics," and to do so within 14 days. The company is considering an appeal to a higher court.

    The case stems from Tyson's claims about its chickens, which were challenged by rivals Perdue and Sanderson Farms on the grounds that Tyson actually was injecting its eggs with antibiotics before they are hatched; Tyson maintains that "raised" means after being hatched.

    • The Chicago Sun Times reports that Joseph Glauber, chief economist for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), told a US Congress committee yesterday that "corn and other food commodities will remain at 'historically high levels' in coming years as the U.S. ethanol industry expands." Glauber also said that "droughts, increased demand for food in developing countries and higher fuel costs have greatly contributed to current food prices," and that "eventually, food price inflation will slow … assuming weather patterns return to normal and plantings increase."

    • The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that Allan Leighton, the new president of Loblaw Cos., plans to hire 1,000 new employees as part of a campaign entitled "Back to the Best" that will give a number of the company's stores "a makeover, with a big emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables and ready-to-eat offerings."

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 2, 2008

    • Publix announced that its Q1 sales were $6.2 billion, up six percent from the $5.9 billion generated during the same period a year ago, with same-store sales that were up 3.6 percent. Profits for the quarter were $343.2 million, up from $317.6 million a year ago.

    • Harris Teeter said yesterday that its Q2 profit was $46.4 million, up from $38.2 million during the year-ago period. Second quarter sales grew to $893.1 million from $805.6 million a year ago.

    • Clorox said that its third quarter profit was down almost 23 percent to $100 million, from $129 million during the same period a year ago. Q3 sales rose nine percent to $1.35 billion.

    • CVS Caremark Corp. said that its Q1 profit climbed to $745 million, up from $405.4 million in the prior year. Revenue for the quarter was up 61 percent to $21.3 billion, up from $13.2 billion a year ago.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 2, 2008

    …will return next week.
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 2, 2008

    A line that has been oft-quoted here on MNB over the past few years comes courtesy of Charles McCord, who once said that the reason there are so many diet books on the best-seller list is that the ones that were there last week didn’t work.

    True words.

    The fact is that there are a lot of people out there who write books and produce videos about this diet and that, saying that we need to eat this food and avoid that one. And somehow, even if the diets themselves never quite go this far, the marketing always seems to suggest that there is a magic bullet that will create quick weight loss with a minimum of sweat. This is smart marketing, because who among us can resist the siren call of instant gratification as we endeavor to look and feel better, to live longer?

    It is, of course, utter nonsense.

    I think that there are probably just six words needed to sum up the best way to lose weight. Six little words that have nothing to do with instant gratification, that do not suggest a painless solution, but that are, in the end, utterly accurate.

    Here they are:

    "Eat less. Eat smart. Move more."

    That's it.

    Now, this may sound simplistic, but I think I know what I'm talking about here. While I spend a lot of time talking about obesity and nutrition issues here on MorningNewsBeat, I looked at myself late last year and realized that I was a hypocrite. I was fat. I was 223 pounds, which is a lot more than a guy 5'9" should be. It hurt to run, I got breathless going up stairs, and it seemed as if a lifetime of fighting my weight problem had ended up in a loss.

    However, I had some motivation. First of all, I'm 53, and I'd like to think that I'm only half done. And, it started to look as if our new project might take off, in which case I’d be spending some considerable time on camera, which would only make me look heavier.

    So I changed my life.

    I consulted a nutritionist, who really only confirmed things I already knew but gave me a framework within which to work. I started eating smarter by cutting down on portions. I decided to skip most desserts, though on special occasions I indulged. I started drinking a ton of water, but I still have wine four or five nights a week, and even the occasional beer when I'm in the mood. I started eating a lot more fish, and cut back on the red meat, though there was virtually no product that was off limits – it was all a matter of paying attention and staying focused on my goals. And, I got lucky…Stew Leonard's started making fresh rice cakes in-store, 17 calories apiece, so when I got hungry I would just have a couple of those with some fresh hummus, and that would get me through.

    And here's what else I did. I got serious about exercising. I always was a jogger, and even have run two marathons in my life, but I got lazy about it, in part because MNB has a crazy schedule. But late last year, I decided to indulge in a longtime fantasy and joined a boxing club near my house. Since January 1, whenever I am in town, I've been in the gym at least four or five days a week, jumping rope, doing situps (I'm up to 400 in sets of 100), working out on the heavy bag and taking a twice-weekly class for at least an hour each time. The guy who owns the place, a Golden Gloves and former Junior Olympics boxer named Ahmad Mickens, has been terrific – pushing me and challenging me, never letting me get discouraged. It has changed my life. When I'm not in the gym, I run four or six miles a day.

    It almost doesn’t matter what else is going on. When I get done with MorningNewsBeat each morning, I either head for the gym or get in my road work. It is like making a deposit in the bank of good habits, so that I'm prepared when it is time to make a withdrawal.

    Mrs. Content Guy says that I am in a better mood (most of the time) and less prone to crankiness. I have more energy. And I just feel better.

    Here's the kicker. When I weighed myself yesterday, I was down to 189 pounds. That's 34 pounds lower than on January 1, 2008. I went from tight 36 waist jeans to a comfortable 34 waist. And it is a lot easier to jog and jump rope now, because I'm carrying less girth around.

    Not done yet. I have another 10-15 pounds to lose. I'm not obsessive though…I just know I have to keep eating less, eating smart, and moving more. The weight will take care of itself.

    I tell you this not to brag (though I am, to be honest, pretty proud of myself), but because it might help somebody realize that this is possible. Never too late. Just eat less, eat smart, move more.

    By the way, I may be taking better care of myself, but that doesn’t mean I'll stop recommending wines and beers.

    This week, I urge you to try the 2004 Antica Terra Pinot Noir…a little pricey but wonderful for a special occasion.

    And less expensive, but still very good, is the 2004 Ten Mile Petite Sirah…

    And, I'm a big fan of the 2003 Trimbach Pinot Gris Reserve.

    And, finally, there is the 2005 Chateau Beauchene Premier Terroir Cotes du Rhone, which is delicious.


    There is something that I would like to brag about this morning. Yesterday was my 25th wedding anniversary. That's right. Mrs. Content Guy has put up with me for a whopping quarter-century, and I've been lucky enough to have her enriching my life for all that time.

    I just hope that, to paraphrase a line from an old song, I may have been a headache but I've never been a bore.

    That's it for this week. I hope you have a great weekend.

    Next Monday, MNB will be reporting from the annual Food Marketing Institute Show, taking place this year in Las Vegas.


    KC's View: