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    Published on: August 16, 2021

    From KC's hometown, an example of how one local bricks-and-mortar retailer understands how one-size-fits-all marketing doesn't work anymore, and has developed a pop-up format designed to target a specific demographic.  The format may be short-term, but the impact is likely to long-lived.

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    by Kevin Coupe

    A couple of stories in the New York Times last week suggested to me how out of synch the culture - and, by extension, some food businesses, may be.

    First, there was a piece about the results of the US Census, which indicated that the country "grew significantly more diverse over the past decade, as the populations of people who identify as Hispanic and Asian surged and the number of people who said they were more than one race increased."

    According to the Times piece, "The white population in the United States, for the first time on record, declined over the course of the decade. People who identify themselves as white on the census form have been decreasing as a share of the country’s population since the 1960s, when the United States opened up more widely to immigrants outside Europe.

    "That drop was driven in part by the aging of the white population and a sharp drop in the birthrate.  The single biggest increase was among people who identified as more than one race, a category that first appeared on census forms 20 years ago, and now is the fastest growing racial and ethnic category. That population more than doubled."

    And then, just two days later, a story entitled, "Why Do American Grocery Stores Still Have an Ethnic Aisle?"

    The Times wrote, "Today, the section can seem like an anachronism — a cramming of countless cultures into a single small enclave, in a country where an estimated 40 percent of the population identifies as nonwhite, according to the Census Bureau, and where H Mart, a Korean American supermarket chain, has become one of the fastest-growing retailers by specializing in foods from around the world. Even the word 'ethnic,' emblazoned on signs over many of these corridors, feels meaningless, as everyone has an ethnicity."

    Now,, not every food retailers has such a section.  Kroger, the Times notes, two years ago "accelerated its effort to move products from the ethnic aisle into other parts of the store."  And there are others that have done the same thing.

    But the juxtaposition of these two stories made me think about the degree to which stores may have to change their approach to compensate for the growing diversity of the American population.

    In a store, of course, it isn't just about mindset and identification.  For many, there are operational and organizational issues - creating an ethnic section allows them to create focus and avoid the complications off re-merchandising their stores.

    But as the nation changes, so must businesses, lest they seem to be out of touch with the people they want to serve.

    So much about these two stories is Eye-Opening, not least of which is the fact that the nation's growing diversity, as reflected in the foods we eat - always a great barometer of cultural change - is something beautiful, albeit challenging, to behold.  But businesses cannot just be bystanders or spectators.  They must be participants in this quintessentially American evolution.

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    From the Washington Post:

    "The U.S. labor market hit a new milestone recently: For the first time, average pay in restaurants and supermarkets climbed above $15 an hour. Wages have been rising rapidly as the economy reopens and businesses struggle to hire enough workers. Some of the biggest gains have gone to workers in some of the lowest-paying industries.

    "Overall, nearly 80 percent of U.S. workers now earn at least $15 an hour, up from 60 percent in 2014. Job sites and recruiting firms say many job seekers won’t even consider jobs that pay less than $15 anymore. For years, low-paid workers fought to make at least that much. Now it has effectively become the new baseline."

    The story goes on:

    "As competition for workers heats up, large employers are taking notice and bumping up starting pay. CVS said it will increase starting pay from $11 to $15 by next summer, joining other large employers like Target, Best Buy, Costco and Disney. When major employers raise their wages, it pushes smaller competitors in the area to follow suit, Brandeis and Princeton researchers recently found. The overall effect has been one of the fastest periods of rising wages since the early 1980s for rank-and-file workers and a clear spike from pre-pandemic trends. This higher pay is likely to be permanent as wages rarely fall once they move up."

    KC's View:

    Higher pay is good, but this also is a time in which companies are going to have to give serious thought and take serious actions as they work to establish themselves as employers of choice. 

    And that's a good thing, I think.

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    The Information reported last week that DoorDash held talks with Instacart recently about a possible acquisition of the company, a deal that could have cost it between $40 billion and $50 billion.

    The story said that the talks foundered because of concerns that the current activist leadership at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would have nixed it on antitrust grounds, believing that it would eliminate needed competition and result in higher prices.

    That said, DoorDash continues to be busy.  Forbes reports that DoorDash has "announced the rollout of DoubleDash, a new feature that … allows customers to 'add your favorite items from nearby stores to your original order for no additional delivery fee or order minimum' … Once a customer places an order at a given restaurant, DoorDash then serves up the option to add on purchases from other nearby stores to be delivered by the same DoorDash driver."

    Early participants include 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Wawa, QuickChek, The Ice Cream Shop "and even DoorDash’s own DashMart, a DoorDash-owned online concept that delivers grocery and convenience items."

    KC's View:

    Yikes.

    In a lot of ways - such as creating DashMart, which actually allows it to compete with its own retail clients - DoorDash actually has been ahead of Instacart.  While I think it is fair to guess that the FTC would have blocked such a merger, this report does suggest that we are going to see a lot of consolidation in coming months.  And there may yet be ways that these two players could find a way to join forces.

    In the end, though, the goal seems to be to make sure that retailers are disintermediated out of the consumer relationship, that they think of DoorDash before they think of those other retailers.  It may sound good going in, but the long-term impact could be devastating to these companies value propositions and brand identities.

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    Fast Company has a piece about an analysis run by Placer.ai, which concluded that there seems to be very little overlap between customers who shop at Amazon-owned Whole Foods and at Amazon Fresh grocery stores.

    "When looking at seven Amazon Fresh stores for the month of June 2021, the highest level of cross shopping was only 18.1% and the lowest was 7.5%," fast Company writes.  "That means at most fewer than one in five Amazon fresh customers also spent their money at Whole Foods, with that number dropping to only one in ten at some locations.

    "But as Placer.ai notes, this lack of cross shopping between its grocery brands could be a good sign for Amazon’s grocery initiatives. 'While cross shopping is always a nice thing to have between owned brands and can be used to create a bigger overall pie, a division of audience may be even better. Amazon seems to be effectively leveraging grocery assets to target different segments of the market,' Placer.ai’s report concludes, noting that with Whole Foods, Amazon has a lock on the more urban, high-income grocery shoppers and with Amazon Fresh, it targets another, completely different segment: grocery shoppers looking for convenience and cost savings."

    KC's View:

    It is all part of the puzzle that Amazon is putting together, creating something with numerous pieces that may seem disconnected or random when seen in isolation, but that may be building to something that will be amazing to behold …. unless of course you are a competitor, a regulator, or a lawmaker with an antitrust chip on your shoulder.

    But for customers … well, that'll be the test.

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that a new survey from Atlanta-based law firm Fisher Phillips LLP suggests that there is an increase in the number of employers "implementing or considering" a mandate that employees be vaccinated for Covid-19, a shift that seems attributable to the surge in infections traced to the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

    The survey says that back in May 2021, only four percent of employers contacted said they would consider a vaccination mandate;  now, the number is 15 percent.

    However, the survey also points out that it is "noteworthy that two-thirds of respondents are still opposed to mandates — although the percentage of employers falling into that camp fell to 68% in August from 83% in May."

    The Business Journal writes that "there have been several factors pushing employers toward vaccine mandates over the past two months, including guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, federal court decisions and a recent opinion from the Department of Justice. The percentage of employers concerned about the legality of mandates fell to 18% in August from 32% in May. "

    KC's View:

    The fact is, businesses may be behind where many Americans are.

    The Atlantic writes that "new polling shows that the large majority of vaccinated adults … support tougher measures against those who have refused COVID-19 shots.

    "These new results, shared exclusively with The Atlantic by several pollsters, reveal that significant majorities of people who have been vaccinated support vaccine mandates for health workers, government employees, college students, and airline travelers—even, in some surveys, for all Americans or all private-sector workers. Most of the vaccinated respondents also say that entry to entertainment and sporting arenas should require proof of vaccination, and half say the same about restaurants.

    "All of this suggests that as the Delta variant’s 'pandemic of the unvaccinated' disrupts the return to 'normal' life promised by the vaccines, a backlash may be intensifying among those who have received the shots against those who have not."

    Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat wrote an excellent piece over the weekend that was entitled, "What happened this week is that patience from the vaccinated finally ran out."

    Here's how he framed the issue:

    "One thing has become clear in our on-again pandemic nightmare: We’re definitely not all in this together anymore.

    "The latest surge in coronavirus hospitalizations among the unvaccinated — so maddening because it was so preventable — was sure to touch off a backlash of sorts, once it dawned on people that a new round of society-wide restrictions, mask-wearing and closures for everyone would be the result."

    There were two choices in how to deal with the pandemic when it came to masks and vaccines, he writes - the easy way and the hard way.  It looks like hot is going to be the latter:  "A number of cities and states, including our own, this past week started imposing various forms of a 'get vaccinated or get fired' policy for some government workers, teachers and health workers.

    "Some cities, such as San Francisco, have also started imposing sweeping 'no shots, no service' policies at all restaurants, bars, cafes and gyms.

    "There’s a palpable tension rising between the roughly 60% who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and the 40% who still are not — especially as it sinks in that we’re not headed back to normal now as we’d once hoped."

    So maybe business actually needs to catch up.

    Me, I'm not sure what people are waiting for.  

    Maybe a sign?

    I'm reminded of this scene from The Man With Two Brains:

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    BoiseDev reports on how Albertsons has "quietly rolled out a new subscription offering it calls FreshPass this month. For $99 a year, customers can get a bundle of services and deals from the Boise-based grocery giant.

    "The program primarily gives customers unlimited grocery delivery without an additional fee. The company calls this 'free delivery,' but customers must pay the yearly membership cost in order to waive the typical delivery fees … FreshPass also includes smaller benefits like a monthly 'perk' at in-store Starbucks cafes, savings on store-brand O Organics products, and elimination of expiration for rewards points."

    The story notes that Albertsons has not yet formally announced the new program.

    KC's View:

    Very smart, in that it has the potential - as services are expanded - to create a kind of boomerang effect for Albertsons.  Many people who have paid the fee will be more inclined to return with greater frequency, which creates mass … and also a ton of data that the retailer can use effectively.

    You know.  Like Amazon Prime does.

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    Interesting piece in the Seattle Times the other day about how Bartell Drugs, recently acquired by Rite Aid, seems to have a problem with customers who say they are disappointed by changes in a Pacific Northwest chain known for customer service.

    In June, the story says, "Rite Aid rolled out new systems and staff training at some of the 67 Bartell locations.  Since then, many customers say, Bartell’s online prescription refill system has malfunctioned. Phone calls to the stores haven’t been answered. Customers entering some stores have found long lines at the pharmacies and, in some cases, just one or two overworked pharmacists remaining after weeks of heavy staff turnover."

    The story goes on:  "Many Bartell customers worry that the problems mean Rite Aid is trying to import its mass-market, cost-cutting, cookie-cutter business model to a Seattle-area company that has been celebrated for generations for its customer service, spotless stores and a quirky product selection featuring lots of locally made goods."

    Rite Aid and Bartell officials, however, "insist that the problems customers are encountering are temporary and related largely to the introduction of new back-office systems at Bartell — and aren’t signs of deeper changes from Bartell’s Pennsylvania-based corporate parent.

    "The online glitches, for example, reflect efforts to preserve Bartell’s existing online customer experience while upgrading to the digital system used in Rite Aid’s 2,500 stores."  The effort, the story says, was more complicated than expected.

    But the staff shortages are a different issue, the Times writes:  "As of Monday, Bartell’s website showed 127 pharmacy job openings, including for 29 pharmacists and 32 pharmacy techs."

    KC's View:

    I want to take the Rite Aid people at their word, but it wouldn't be the first company to make an acquisition and then screw it up by voiding all the advantages that the purchased company brought to the table.

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    Fast Company has a story about how Target "has been recapturing the design halo that it developed back in the aughts through savvy collaborations with the likes of Michael Graves and Isaac Mizrahi."  This time, however, the focus is on private label whenever possible.

    According to the story, Target wants to "develop and launch" stylish brands and "keep all the revenue for itself … The in-house brand strategy, which has Target’s own designers incubating new product lines from the company’s design lab in its Minneapolis headquarters, has been an unmitigated success. Though the company declines to share how many people are on its design team, their facilities include a 3D lab for prototyping, a lab for chemists and materials scientists to test new products in, a painting studio where prints and patterns are created, and a sensory-testing facility to accommodate Target’s emphasis on inclusive design."

    You can read the entire story here.

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the United States, we've now had a total of 37,466,718 cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, resulting in 637,561 deaths and 30, 153,576 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 207,984,087 coronavirus cases, with 4,374,761 resultant fatalities and 186,447,031 reported recoveries.  (Source.)


    •  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 69.8 percent of the US population age 12 and older now has received at least one dose of vaccine, with 59.3 percent being fully vaccinated.


    •  From USA Today:

    "The United States accounts for more than one-fifth of the world's total COVID-19 cases for the first time since mid-February, before vaccines were widely available … The country reported more than 900,000 cases in a week for the first time since the week ending Feb. 4, while deaths surpassed 4,500 a week, nearly triple the count during the last lull.

    "Cases were rising in 46 states. Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana and Mississippi broke all-time case count highs last week, based on data reported Friday."


    •  From the Washington Post:

    "The U.S. reported almost 1 million Covid-19 vaccine doses on Saturday, the most for a single day since early July, reflecting a faster pace of inoculation as the delta variant spreads.

    "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported almost 991,000 doses given nationwide. That’s more than double a low point of less than 400,000 reached in mid-July.

    "Several states hit hardest by the recent surge in infections have reported increased vaccinations, including Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. However, Florida, which broke a record for weekly cases on Friday, reported vaccinations falling week over week."


    •  Axios writes that "the Delta variant has killed any hope that international travel will return to anything like its pre-pandemic trajectory … In the decade to 2019, the number of international arrivals rose by 42%, to 2.3 billion, in a trend that seemed steady and unstoppable. Now, however, international borders seem set to be most countries' first line of defense against the coronavirus for the foreseeable future."

    The story notes that "with the original Alpha variant of COVID-19, there was hope that a large-scale vaccination program, especially with the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna, could protect a country against the spread of the virus. With Delta that hope is dashed."


    •  CNBC reports that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), says that he "expects the coronavirus to become an endemic virus in the U.S. and other Western countries after the recent surge in delta variant infections calms down.  'We’re transitioning from this being a pandemic to being more of an endemic virus, at least here in the United States and probably other Western markets,' Gottlieb said."

    An endemic virus is defined as one "that remains in the American population at a relatively low frequency, like the seasonal flu, for example."

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  From the Seattle Times:

    "In a letter to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, three bipartisan U.S. senators expressed privacy and competition concerns over the company’s biometric payment system, Amazon One, and asked the company to provide information about how it keeps users’ data safe.

    "Amazon One, unveiled last year in Seattle, links customers’ unique palm prints to a credit card, allowing consumers to pay for purchases at participating stores by swiping their hands over the payment terminal. Amazon piloted the technology at two cashierless Amazon Go stores in South Lake Union last fall; it has since expanded to 59 Whole Foods stores and other Amazon-branded locations nationwide, including 20 locations in the Seattle area."

    The letter said, in part:  "“Amazon’s expansion of biometric data collection through Amazon One raises serious questions about Amazon’s plans for this data and its respect for user privacy, including about how Amazon may use the data for advertising and tracking purposes … We are also concerned that Amazon may use data from Amazon One … to further cement its competitive power and suppress competition across various markets."


    •  Wakefern Food Corp. announced that at its ShopRite of Kingston, NY, it "is adding innovative technology to make the online order process more efficient and organized with the introduction of the Kardex Remstar Shuttle XP Vertical Lift Module (VLM) storage solution.

    "The Kardex Remstar Shuttle XP is a compact automated storage and retrieval system designed to maximize space and offer high-capacity storage. Essentially, orders are stored in the facility with a barcode, and when a customer arrives for pickup or curbside pickup, the machine can deliver the order directly to the customer. This technology increases storage capability by five times while also reducing human error and wait times."


    •  Amazon announced "an expanded investment in Florida with six new buildings to support operations closer to customers. The new robotics fulfillment center and five new delivery stations are expected to create more than 2,000 full-time jobs in the Sunshine State … The new 630,000 square-foot fulfillment center, which is anticipated to launch in Tallahassee, Florida in late 2022, will create more than 1,000 new, full-time jobs with benefits and opportunities to engage with advanced robotics. Employees at the fulfillment center will pick, pack and ship small items, such as books, electronics and toys, to customers.T

    "The five new delivery stations will power the last mile of Amazon’s order process and help increase efficiency of deliveries for customers. Delivery stations also offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to build their own business delivering Amazon packages."

    The company said in the announcement that "the new facilities not only allow us to better serve our customers across the state, it allows us to create jobs and drive opportunity within the Sunshine State. We’re proud to have created more than 52,000 jobs and invested more than $18 billion in the state over the past decade."

    The new delivery stations will open in Melbourne, Riviera Beach, Coral Springs, Fort Myers, and St. Petersburg.

    I'm not suggesting cause-and-effect, but it is interesting that Amazon is investing so much in Florida at the same time as Kroger is building a pure-play e-grocery business there.  Growing state, lots of potential customers, and the kind of competition that could create some collateral damage for companies unable to create their own differential advantages.


    •  Bloomberg reports that Amazon "is offering to compensate customers for injuries caused by goods from its third-party sellers, a guarantee that follows numerous lawsuits seeking to hold the world’s largest online retailer responsible for dangerous products purchased from its digital shelves … the company said it would pay shoppers itself for injury or property damage claims under $1,000, which Amazon says account for more than 80% of cases, at no cost to sellers … Amazon could also compensate shoppers for amounts larger than $1,000 if the seller 'is unresponsive or rejects a claim we believe to be valid'."

    According to the story, "Amazon has faced dozens of product-liability claims in recent years from people harmed by products sold by sellers on its marketplace. The debate over who is responsible for harm caused by such items escalated last month when the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission sued Amazon, seeking a court opinion that the company is on the hook for products sold by its sellers and must cooperate with the agency's mandatory recalls.

    "In court cases, Amazon has argued that it's not liable for damage caused by third-party products, saying the sellers are the retailer of record, even in cases when Amazon stored and shipped items for sellers based overseas who are out of reach of U.S. courts."


    •  Bloomberg reports that "a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by Amazon.com Inc. challenging New York’s authority to investigate the company’s pandemic procedures at a fulfillment center on Staten Island, the latest setback for the online retailer in its ongoing clash with the state.

    "The suit was dismissed Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan in Brooklyn, reaffirming the validity of New York Attorney General Letitia James’s underlying lawsuit against Amazon already proceeding in state court in Manhattan.

    "The Seattle-based company had argued in the federal suit that James was investigating Amazon in bad faith and that her state powers to probe such health matters were preempted by federal law …While the judge on Tuesday ruled James’ state lawsuit was proper, a trial on the merits could be a long way off."

    Who knew that Amazon had something in common with Andrew Cuomo, who also isn't happy with Attorney General Letitia James?

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    •  Kroger has announced its "inaugural Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator cohort – Maazah, Nona Lim, Queen Charlotte's Pimento Cheese Royale, Simply Southern Sides, and Soupergirl."

    Some context from the announcement:

    "Earlier this year, Kroger invited growers and producers to join the retailer's first Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator. In collaboration with Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing and RangeMe, Kroger reviewed more than 1,000 applications, selecting 15 finalists to participate in a pitch competition. The finalists recently traveled to Cincinnati for the pitch competition, which was judged by Milen Mahadevan, president of 84.51°; Valerie Jabbar, senior vice president of retail divisions at Kroger; Nick Tranchina, president of Murray's Cheese; Patrick Vihtelic, founder and CEO of HomeChef; Dan De La Rosa, group vice president of fresh merchandising at Kroger; and Brian Kelley, CEO of PearlRock Partners."

    ""Kroger's Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator has allowed us to identify additional growers, producers, and suppliers across regions, categories, and verticals – helping us diversify our product offering and our supplier relationships and create new ways for small businesses to partner with the largest grocer in America," said Stuart Aitken, Kroger's chief merchant and marketing officer, in a prepared statement.  "Just last year, Kroger invested $4.1 billion in diverse suppliers — a 21% increase versus the previous year — and we aim to scale that number to $10 billion by 2030. This year's inaugural cohort is an intentional and impactful step toward achieving that bold goal."


    •  The Charlotte Observer reports that "Lowes Foods is expanding in the Charlotte market with a 'first of its kind' grocery store concept," opening a new store in a former Earth Fare location that will feature a mezzanine entertainment area that "will be available for birthday parties, club meet-ups, team celebrations, to listen to local musicians, as well as for floral arranging classes, trivia nights, board game tournaments, and beer and wine tastings."

    According to the story, "The grocer, with two other Charlotte area locations in Mooresville and Harrisburg, is trying to stand out from typical supermarket by pitching itself as a 'community hub,' according to the the company.

    "Charlotte’s grocery competition is red-hot has new grocers enter the market and expand like Farmstead, Lidl and Earth Fare, as well as Food Lion, Publix and Aldi."


    •  BisNow reports that Wegmans "is planning to build a large distribution center in Virginia as it continues its growth in the region. 

    "Wegmans Food Markets paid $4M for a 221-acre property in Hanover County, where it plans to build a $175M, 1M SF distribution center, according to a release from Coldwell Banker Commercial, which represented the supermarket in the deal … The distribution center could help support Wegmans' growing presence in the region. The Rochester, New York-based grocer has 13 locations in Virginia, including a Tysons store that opened in November, and it has additional stores under construction at mixed-use developments in Alexandria and Reston.

    "Wegmans also has its first D.C. location under construction at Roadside's City Ridge development, and it has a new location planned in Rockville."


    •  Walgreens Boots Alliance announced that it "has accelerated its investment in VillageMD to support the opening of 600 to 700 Village Medical at Walgreens primary care clinics in more than 30 U.S. markets within the next four years, with the intent to build hundreds more thereafter. Walgreens is the first national pharmacy chain to offer full-service primary care clinics co-located at its stores at a large scale."


    •  Blue Apron announced that it is "is partnering with former White House Senior Policy Advisor and Chef, Sam Kass, to bring his flexible and non-prescriptive cooking approach to kitchens around the country. Available to order now, the Blue Apron x Chef Sam Kass menu features high-quality ingredients and customizable recipes, crafted for adaptability and balance … this collaborative menu will allow customers to experience recipes that are fundamental building blocks in the kitchen, so they can learn, grow and develop lifelong skills. The Blue Apron x Chef Sam Kass recipes are also customizable by choosing between two protein options to allow customers to personalize their recipes according to their preferences."

    “Throughout my career, I have seen the benefits that nutritious, whole foods and a variety of lean proteins, fresh produce and whole grains can have,” said Kass, in a prepared statement. “In partnership with Blue Apron, we wanted to highlight simple steps that can help make a big difference in your overall health and lifestyle. We’ve created easy-to-replicate, customizable recipes to show that delicious food, packed with flavor, can be accessible and uncomplicated.”


    •  Food & Wine reports that "the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration wrote a letter to the leaders of airports throughout the United States, asking them to stop allowing airport bars to serve alcoholic beverages to go, in an attempt to prevent passengers from becoming unruly, noncompliant, or straight-up violent after they board a plane."

    "'As the number of passengers traveling has increased, so has the number of unruly and unsafe behavior incidents on planes and in airports,' administrator Steve Dickson wrote. 'The FAA adopted a Zero-Tolerance policy toward this behavior on airplanes earlier this year, and we are taking the strongest possible action within our legal authority. But we need your help'."

    According to the story, "the FAA has received more than 3,700 reports of unruly or aggressive passengers so far this year, and almost 75 percent of them have involved fliers who would not comply with the federal mandate requiring them to wear a mask onboard. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that 85 percent of flight attendants who responded to a union survey in July said that they had dealt with at least one unruly passenger this year, and 17 percent of them said that they had been subjected to a 'physical incident'."

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    •  Albertsons announced that Sharon McCollam, the retired Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative and Chief Financial Officer at Best Buy during its successful Renew Blue transformation, will join the company as president and CFO.


    •  Bloomberg reports that "Deliveroo Plc has hired Amazon.com Inc. executive Devesh Mishra to be chief product and technology officer, helping with the U.K. food-delivery company’s expansion plans.

    "Mishra - who was at Seattle-based Amazon for 16 years and most recently served as vice president of global supply chain - will move to the U.K. and start in early September … He’ll oversee engineering, data science, design and product development in the role, the company said. The company is creating 400 new tech jobs for software engineers, product managers and others, to improve productivity for riders and efficiency for the restaurants and grocery stores on its platform. Priorities for the expanded team include projects to boost growth, such as on-demand grocery delivery and delivery-only kitchens."


    •  The Seattle Times reported the other day on how "Suzy Monford, president and CEO of PCC Community Markets, is stepping down after a roughly seven-month tenure marked by COVID-19, controversy and a customer revolt at the popular natural foods retailer … Monford’s role will be filled temporarily by Brad Brown, a retired REI executive and former PCC board member who also served as interim CEO before Monford’s arrival last December."

    The Times notes that during the pandemic, Monford's "opposition to hazard pay irked some PCC employees, who said the move expressed a lack of support for staff during the pandemic.

    "Some employees also saw Monford as part of a rising corporate sensibility in PCC’s management. Before Monford’s arrival from QFC, PCC had been run by former senior Starbucks executive Cate Hardy.

    "Some employees worried that the co-op’s new, more mainstream management clashed with the original mission and style of the organization, which was founded by 15 families as a food-buying club in 1953."

    Published on: August 16, 2021

    Content Guy’s Note: Stories in this section are, in my estimation, important and relevant to business. However, they are relegated to this slot because some MNB readers have made clear that they prefer a politics-free MNB; I can't do that because sometimes the news calls out for coverage and commentary, but at least I can make it easy for folks to skip it if they so desire.

    •  From the Washington Post:

    "The Biden administration has approved the largest increase to food assistance benefits in the history of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a move that will substantially retool the program to provide the targeted assistance advocates have long argued is desperately needed by poor families.

    "U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to announce Monday morning that benefit amounts for the program, formerly known as food stamps, will rise an average of 25 percent above pre-pandemic levels … average monthly benefits, which were $121 per person before the pandemic, will rise by $36 under the new rules.

    "The increase is based on an update to the algorithm that governs the Thrifty Food Plan, which tracks the cost of 58 different categories of groceries needed to provide a budget-conscious diet for a family of four."