retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and United Fresh Produce Association have announced that they have reached a three-year agreement to co-locate the organizations’ respective trade shows: United Fresh 2014 and FMI Connect, the Global Food Retail Experience. The first of the events will take place June 10-13, 2014, in Chicago.


• Fairway Markets said yesterday that it has signed a long-term lease to open a 52,000 square foot, two-story store in Manhattan's TriBeCa neighborhood.  The store is expected to open in Fall 2014 and will be It will be the first Fairway location in Lower Manhattan and the 16th Fairway food store to open in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tri-state region.


• Associated Wholesale Grocers, which has acquired 43 bankrupt Belle Foods stores at auction for $16.3 million, said yesterday that Rouses Markets will expand into Alabama for the first time by buying six of them, and that HAC - which operates under a number of banners - is y buying ten Belle Foods store in Georgia and one in Alabama.


• Arden Group announced yesterday that its Gelson's Markets subsidiary plans to open a new store in La Cañada Flintridge, California. Expected opening date: February 2014. Gelson’s currently operates sixteen full-service supermarkets in Southern California with another one scheduled to open in November 2013 in Long Beach, California.

The openings come just two months after the Los Angeles Times reported that Arden is exploring a possible sale of the company. Technically, the company is exploring and evaluating "strategic alternatives," but the Times suggested that increased competition, a tough economy, high prices and a sometimes "lackluster" approach to marketing and merchandising may have forced the company's hand.


• The Reuters reports that the US Postal Service (USPS) has "defaulted yet again on a prepayment for the healthcare of its future retirees as its finances remain in the red and legislative reform remains elusive." The USPS blames the prepayments - more than $5 billion a year, mandated by the US Congress - for contributing to the annual losses that have pushed it to the edge of the fiscal cliff.


• The Huffington Post reports that a new poll suggests that "57 percent of Americans approve of Starbucks' new policy asking that gun owners not carry weapons into its stores, even in states with laws permitting open carry. Thirty-two percent disapprove."

Previously, Starbucks abided by state laws when it came to customers carrying guns. But as the politics of the issue changed, Starbucks adjusted its position and asked that customers not bring weapons into stores without actually banning firearms.

HuffPost writes that "in the new poll, respondents who said that they personally own a gun were more likely to disapprove of Starbucks' policy, 53 percent to 40 percent. But 68 percent of people in households where nobody owns a gun said they approved of the policy, while 21 percent disapproved. Those who said they did not own a gun themselves, but lived in a household where someone owns one, were more likely to approve than disapprove, 50 percent to 40 percent."


FreshFruitPortal.com reports that Whole Foods is going to begin offering "in-store guidance for ethically and environmentally conscious produce shoppers," via a three-tier system that will rate products as good, better and best based on sustainable farming methods used to produce them. "Qualifications for the rankings," the story says, "include pest management, farmworker welfare, pollinator protection, water conservation and protection and soil health. The criteria also include management of ecosystems, biodiversity, waste, recycling and packaging, energy and climate."
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