business news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized, occasionally relevant and sometimes completely gratuitous commentary…

• The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that Publix Super Markets “continues to expand its new GreenWise Market banner, this time with a location in Birmingham, Alabama.” Publix said that “it is acquiring two leases from Western Market, a Birmingham-based grocery chain. One of those locations, in Vestavia Hills, will open as a traditional Publix store. The other, in Mountain Brook, will be a GreenWise Market slated to open by the third quarter of 2019.”

The Birmingham GreenWise is slated to be the seventh store carrying the banner. The Journal notes that Publix has been secretive about its plans for growing the GreenWise fleet, which “is a multifaceted tool for Publix. It's not meant to be the primary grocery store for most shoppers; it's for grabbing dinner or picking up specialty items like wine and cheese, allowing Publix to better compete for those extra trips its shoppers make to stores like Lucky's Market or Trader Joe’s.”

I think it always makes sense to have more than one kind of arrow in your quiver.

• A new food trend, according to the Wall Street Journal - drinkable soups:

“More products pitching soup as a beverage are appearing on grocery shelves, packaged in coffee cups, bottles and Mason jars - no spoon needed. Campbell Soup Co. has a new line of ‘sipping soups’ topped with coffee-cup lids, Tio Gazpacho’s bottled soup touts ‘no bowl required,’ and Nona Lim, a line of Pho soups and beef broths, recently introduced ‘heat and sip’ cups.”

The concept, experts say, should appeal to people looking for both healthier meal options and greater convenience, though there also are concerns that it will be difficult to get people to think of soup in this context.

I’m a little surprised that this is being pitched as a big deal - I grew up drinking Campbell’s tomato soup out of a mug (usually with some Saltine crackers to dunk on the side). I still drink soup that way from time to time, because it is incredibly convenient. So put me down as a “yes” vote for whether this trend should actually catch on.

Bloomberg has a story about how beverage makers continue to look for ways to make water cool for kids.

The story notes that “most kids don’t drink enough water, according to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Public Health. But they’re so accustomed to sugary drinks that they find clear, unsweetened liquids unpalatable. Enter a steady stream of startups and longtime industry players who’ve left a trail of failure in their wake … New companies such as Rethink Brands, Hint Inc. and Hello Beverages Inc. are trying to reverse the trend with sugar-free, zero-calorie beverages that are essentially flavored water in a box. Mainstream brands like Capri Sun and Mott’s have recently introduced better-for-you options, while Coca-Cola Co.’s Honest Kids drinks are available in McDonald’s Happy Meals.”

The goal, the story suggests, is to “replicate the surprise success of National Beverage Corp.’s LaCroix, the sparkling water embraced by millennials.”

I have to wonder if one of the reasons LaCroix is successful is that it doesn’t just appeal to young people. I drink it, and I’m anything but a millennial … I wonder if La Croix’s demographics are broader than just ‘embraced by millennials.”

• Hy-Vee announced on Friday that “to assist in combatting the national opioid epidemic,” it is implementing “a new controlled substance prescription policy. As of Jan. 1, 2019, Hy-Vee pharmacies no longer allow a subsequent fill of a Schedule II controlled substance, or a refill of a Schedule III or Scheduled IV controlled substance more than 72 hours early without authorization from the prescriber. Hy-Vee pharmacies also no longer accept GoodRx coupons for controlled substance prescriptions.”
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