retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Whole Foods "accidentally switched the labels of its real chicken salad and its vegan 'chick’n' salad in 15 of its stores in the Northeast on Tuesday and Wednesday ... Lifestyle choices aside, the mix-up could have posed health problems for shoppers (and a big mess for Whole Foods). The Food and Drug Administration noted the vegan salad contained soy, while the chicken salad was made with eggs—both serious allergens for some people.

"Whole Foods said no illnesses were reported and quickly issued a recall."


Salon reports that Europe could be facing yet another food-related scandal - the continuing sale of salmon caught in the Baltic Sea, which was banned in 2002 because salmon caught there were found to be heavily contaminated with dioxins, which can be carcinogenic. Some 200 tons of these fish have been sold since then in France, Denmark and the Netherlands, the story says.


• The Boston Globe reports that in a keynote address to the Front End of Innovation conference there, Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison said that her goal is "to double the rate of innovation, while halving the cost and time spent cultivating new product ideas," to look to partners and vendors to help generate innovative ideas, and that sustainable innovation must be connected to how consumers are changing, not what an organization's internal needs happen to be.

One of the innovations that Morrison points to as a game changer is Coke's Freestyle vending machine ... and there is almost the intimation that Campbell could come up with a version of that concept that vends soup. Which strikes me as potentially a very, very good idea.


• The Chicago Tribune reports that "the U.S. Postal Service lost $1.9 billion in its second quarter, an improvement from a $3.2 billion loss a year earlier. In the latest quarter, the agency cut employees' work hours while struggling with an ongoing decline in mail volumes ... The Postal Service, which lost nearly $16 billion in fiscal year 2012, is also buckling under the weight of massive payments into its future retirees' healthcare fund, which were mandated by a 2006 law."


• The Associated Press reports that PepsiCo plans to test a new fountain machine at five Denver-area restaurants that will allow people to customize their soft drink flavor combinations - a concept that follows on the example set by Coca-Cola's Freestyle vending machine, which was unveiled in 2009.

The "Pepsi Touch Tower 1.0," Dow Jones writes, "is a small counter-top unit with a touch screen that offers nearly 100 different combinations for up to eight brands and four flavor shots."


• The Asahi Shimbun reports that "Starbucks Corp. is going from a grande to a venti-sized operation in Japan, as the number of outlets is expected to exceed 1,000 this year ... Starbucks has a total of about 18,000 outlets throughout the world. Following the United States and Canada, Japan will become the third country with more than 1,000 outlets."


• The University of Southern California (USC) has announced that for the first time, its "Marshall School of Business Food Industry Executive Program (FIEP) will be offered in Chicago, Illinois, on October 14 – 17, 2013. Kraft Foods, in Northfield, Illinois, will host the session, which will be limited to 50 industry participants.

The announcement notes that "taught by the renowned USC Marshall School of Business professors and food industry 'subject matter' experts, the FIEP is designed for food industry executives, managers and high potentials from retail / wholesale and consumer packaged goods companies seeking to enhance their leadership and strategic thinking skills. This four (4) day program integrates lectures, group work, experiential projects, presentations and guest speakers. Focusing on leadership development, FIEP engages attendees by strengthening skills that can be put to use immediately in the workplace."

Registration is open now.

I'm not sure I qualify as a "subject matter expert," but I've had the privilege of teaching at USC's programs in Los Angeles, and I am consistently impressed by the curriculum, the level of instructor expertise (myself excluded), and the engagement of the participants. Check it out.
KC's View: