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• The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that "Kroger is touting a new number it says is winning shoppers and adding to the grocer's bottom line: A wait of just 26 seconds to start in the checkout lane, down from 4 minutes a few years ago.

"Getting shoppers through checkout as quickly as possible is key to building customer loyalty – cited by Kroger on Thursday as one reason earnings were up 9.6 percent in the three months ending May 25, compared with the same time a year ago."

Crain's Cleveland Business reports that Buehler's Fresh Foods, a family-owned grocery chain, is negotiating to acquire Portage Lakes IGA, a move that "would be the Wooster-based grocer's first in Summit County ... The 25,000-square-foot store also interested Buehler's because it fits a smaller format the company wants to develop now."

• The Associated Press reports that Starbucks "says it’s hiking prices on average by 1 percent nationally starting on Tuesday. But it says the price for many drinks, such as medium and large brewed coffees and Frappuccinos, won’t change in most its 11,000 U.S. cafes. For a small brewed coffee, the price will increase by 10 cents at most. Other drinks could increase by more than that."

According to the story, "The price hike comes despite falling coffee costs that have boosted the company’s profits. In the last quarter, Starbucks cited lower coffee costs for a stronger operating margin, which represents the money it pockets from sales after subtracting what it pays to keep stores running ... But Starbucks notes that coffee represents just one of its many costs and historically has accounted for less than 10 percent of overall store expenses."

• The Associated Press reports that Hostess, which saw some of its brands acquired earlier this year by Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management when it went bankrupt, plans to reintroduce the Twinkie on July 15.

According to the story, "Based on the outpouring of nostalgia sparked by its demise, Hostess is expecting a blockbuster return next month for Twinkies and other sugary treats, such as CupCakes and Donettes. The company says the cakes will taste the same but that the boxes will now bare the tag line 'The Sweetest Comeback In The History Of Ever'."
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