retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Wakefern Food Corp. announced today that a new member – Kenneth Thompson – has joined its retail cooperative and will own and operate a new ShopRite store at 1121 Jerusalem Avenue in Uniondale, NY.  The store is scheduled to open later this year.

Thompson is a forty-five year supermarket industry veteran, having most recently served as senior vice president of operations at Penn Traffic. Prior to that, he was president of Waldbaum’s supermarkets from 2004-2006.

• The Associated Press reports that the state of Pennsylvania is testing a new concept in wine sales - vending machines that allow people to swipe their drivers’ licenses, blow into a breath sensor, and then buy a bottle of wine using a credit card. The kiosks are being tested inside two supermarkets, and if successful, could lead to its expansion throughout the state.

• The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has called on the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health & Human Services (HHS) to encourage those seeking to minimize their exposure to toxic chemicals to buy foods with the USDA Organic label.

In testimony before the federal panel making recommendations in revisions to current organic guidelines, OTA CEO Christine Bushway said that current recommendations note that “our current understanding of conventional and organically produced foods indicate that their nutritional value and contributions to human health are similar.”

“These conclusions are neither grounded in current science nor relevant to the mandate of the Dietary Guidelines,” Bushway said, adding, “It is inconceivable and alarming that the very document that is the under pinning of our nation’s policies regarding food and nutrition would include a statement that directly contradicts these recommendations and certainly does not meet the stated goals of the committee to speak with ‘one nutrition voice’.”

• The Chicago Sun-Times reports that “CVS is doubling the amount of nonperishable food it sells in 11 Chicago stores, while Walgreen is introducing fresh fruits, vegetables and new meal ingredients to 10 of its stores inside Chicago's food deserts, where healthy food choices are scarce. The CVS pharmacies in Chicago are among 3,000 nationwide being converted to offer shoppers more convenience items such as Hamburger Helper, Old El Paso dinner kits, household staples such as honey and vinegar, and other items targeting busy people who want to grab dinner ingredients on the way home.”

KamCity reports that “union workers at Loblaw’s outlets in Ontario have voted to give their leaders authorization to call a strike against the retailer. The unions complained of a lack of progress in contract negotiations with the supermarket giant. Around 1,600 workers in Windsor, Chatham and Sarnia have already voted in favour of strike authorization, with members in Ottawa scheduled to vote on Sunday. The vote does not guarantee a strike, however, as negotiations between Loblaw and local unions continue this month.”

KamCity reports that Carrefour is denying numerous press reports that it plans to sell its Singapore and Malaysia operations, releasing a statement that says, in part: “Carrefour Malaysia and Singapore denies any store closure in Malaysia and in Singapore, reminding that it is business as usual for every store. In 2010 itself, four Carrefour hypermarkets have been newly opened in Malaysia and another four additional hypermarkets are slated to be opened by year end.”
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