retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Weis Markets announced it has lowered the prices on 2,400 staple items, effective Sunday, January 2 and that it will freeze the prices of these products for 90 days through April 2, 2011. It is the Company’s sixth round of its 90-day Price Freeze program over the past two years. The Price Freeze program includes 2,400 store brand and brand-name products in grocery, produce, frozen, dairy, meat, deli, seafood, bakery, health, beauty care and general merchandise.

• The Associated Press reports that “starting next month Post Foods LLC will reduce the sugar content of its Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles cereals in order to provide a healthier food option for children. The cereal maker, whose other brands include Post Shredded Wheat, Honey Bunches of Oats and Post Grape Nuts, is the latest in a series of food companies to address the increasing nutritional concerns of consumers and their heightened awareness about childhood obesity.”

Post Foods is a subsidiary of Ralcorp Holdings.

• The Buffalo News reports that Tops Markets and a local dietary education business called Propel Health have teamed up to offer “consumers a creative weapon when they head to the grocery store shelves with healthfulness in mind ... For a small annual fee - about $20 - the program offers enrollees access to food and menu information and planning that is updated weekly to reflect the products and items available and on sale in the region's Tops stores.

“The goal of the service ... is to show people that eating healthfully can be done cheaply as well -- and to empower shoppers with menus, recipes and nutritional information so they can feed themselves and their families well.”

• CVS Caremark said Friday that it has reached an agreement to buy Universal American’s Medicare Part D unit, which focuses on the federal prescription benefit program, for $1.25 billion, an acquisition that the New York Times said “may open the nation’s largest pharmacy health care provider to further criticism about anticompetitive practices.”

• The Associated Press reports that “SC Johnson said it is buying Sara Lee Corp.'s shoe care business, including the venerable Kiwi brand, for $328 million, as Sara Lee continues to shed nonfood segments ... The deal is expected to close by mid-2011.

• The Wall Street Journal reports that it what is probably one of the least surprising marketing decisions of the new year, Procter & Gamble-owned Gillette said that it will let its marketing contract with golfer Tiger Woods expire, and will not renew.

As the Journal put it, “Gillette had already pulled back on using Mr. Woods in ads, following a sex scandal last year. The golfer's once-pristine public image was sullied by revelations about his extramarital affairs, leading him to take a hiatus from professional golf. The disclosures severely damaging his lucrative endorsement career, which was said to once have generated an estimated $100 million annually.”
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