retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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

• The Associated Press reports that "Coke and Pepsi want to shake their Big Gulp image and cultivate a more hipster appeal," with Coke using "more stylized cans and bottles of Coke and the expansion of Mexican Coke" (which uses sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup), and Pepsi "pushing craft sodas" as a way of differentiating themselves.

The simple problem is that the reality is that people are consuming fewer soft drinks. "If they're selling less soda," the story says, "Coke and Pepsi at least want to charge more for it by giving it more cachet." Experts say that both Coke and Pepsi are using the beer market - where higher priced craft beers seem to have all the enthusiasm and growth - as a model.

The Street reports on rising speculation that Kroger may be interested in acquiring South Carolina-based Ingles Markets, which also could be of some interest to hedge funds and private equity groups.

The story says that Ingles "is a more vulnerable regional chain largely confined to the Southeast, with stores in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia ... In fact, grocery chains similar to Ingles that have the second- or third-largest market share or footprint in their region are the most likely targets, simply because they have a more difficult time competing on price" with the likes of Publix and Walmart.

Kroger's recent acquisitive behavior probably means that there will be some analysts who will predict that it is interested in buying everything and anything. I think everybody needs to calm down.

• KeHE, the organic and specialty products supplier, announced that it has acquired San Diego-based Monterrey Provision Company, described as a "distributor of products for the perimeter departments at retail grocery stores." Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
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