Published on: July 14, 2008
Here are some of the stories that popped up last week while I was kicking back and sleeping late, and that I thought worth taking note of…in cases where I have some commentary, it is in italics
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said late last week that they now are focusing on jalapeño peppers as a possible source of the recent salmonella outbreak, and not just tomatoes.
According to a statement released by the United Fresh Produce Association, “This announcement narrows the scope of the investigation, which FDA said last week focused more broadly on ‘other items commonly consumed with tomatoes.’ The CDC and FDA's statement about jalapeño peppers should end speculation about other produce items not ever associated with the outbreak.”As noted above, Phil Lempert says that it is like the whole investigation is being run by Inspector Clouseau. He’s got that right…and it’s also like the people working for him are the Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.
• Ahold announced that it has promoted Carl Schlicker from his position as CEO of Giant-Carlisle to the same role at its bigger Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover chain.
Jose Alvarez, whom Schlicker is succeeding, has been named executive vice president of global business development.Good luck to Schlicker, who has run what is generally perceived as the best of Ahold’s US businesses. He’ll have his hands full at Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover, if the people I talk to are right about the situation up there…
• The Seattle Times
reported that Town & Country Markets in the Seattle plans to open a new 50,000 square foot Central Market unit in Issaquah Highlands in 2010. It will be the fourth such store operated by the company, which also has them in Poulsbo, Shoreline and Mill Creek.Not a well-known company outside the Seattle market, but a terrific retailer with wonderful stores.
• The Washington Post
reported that Chevy Chase Bank is closing 54 mini-branches that have been operating in Giant Food stores in the DC area, “ending a decade-long initiative to add banking to customers' shopping lists. The closings coincide with the expiration of a 10-year contract that Chevy Chase Bank signed with Giant. The shutdowns will begin next month.” Ahold-owned Giant reportedly is seeking another banking partner.
• The San Diego Union-Tribune
reported that “Encinitas, a beach town where crosswalk signs show pedestrians carrying surfboards, could become the first city in San Diego County to ban single-use plastic bags.” The City Council has been presented with a petition signed by 1,500 residents supporting the ban, and it is thought that “the idea would quickly gain traction in the city of 63,000, which includes a contingent of environmental activists.
“In California, the cities of San Francisco, Malibu and Manhattan Beach have banned single-use plastic bags.”
• Fox Business
reported that c-store chain Sheetz has opened a new $46 million kitchen facility that will serve as a new distribution center for the chain to make and ship fresh, ready-to-eat foods to all of its 350 locations – a considerable investment in food service as a cornerstone of the company’s operations in the future.
• Advertising Age
reported that Starbucks has announced that “it is offering prolonged and far-flung sampling of summer beverages to assuage consumers and boost traffic through the season. The promotions, which vary by region, are focused in major cities.”
However, Ad Age
says that some analysts believe that the sampling program signals even deeper-than-believed problems at Starbucks, which recently announced that it is closing 600 underperforming units.On the other hand, maybe the company is trying to do exactly what it says – generate more traffic, more sales and higher profits. Which I think is what retailers need to do more often.
• Advertising Age
reported that while Constellation Brands expected the sales of its Corona Extra brand to rebound this summer, that hasn’t happened – leading analysts to suggest that “new domestic competitors such as Bud Light Lime and Miller Chill, as well as stronger import brands -- are taking a toll on the leading import beer.”
According to the story, Corona Extra “is still a juggernaut: It sold 8.3 million barrels last year, making it the largest import,” and analysts expect “the brand to pound the sand harder through packaging innovations similar to the ‘cold’ emphasis Coors has employed via color-changing labels and cooler boxes to emphasize its ‘Rocky Mountain refreshment’. They also expect greater emphasis going forward on Corona Light, which is the largest imported light beer despite being something of an afterthought in Corona's messaging.”I guess it isn’t a big deal yet from a market share point of view, but I have to say that one of my new favorite summer beers is Landshark Lager, which is made by Anheuser-Busch for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Brewing Company. It is similar to Corona, but I like it more…and it may be worth noting that before he had his own beer, Buffett used to have Corona as a concert tour sponsor. But not now, and Corona is having its problems. Coincidence? I think not…