business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The National Grocers Association (NGA) this week honored Karen and Kim Eskew of Harps Food Stores with NGA’s prestigious Thomas F. Wenning Pinnacle PAC Award, which recognized the Eskews’ years of service to the independent grocery industry in government advocacy.

In addition, NGA presented the Spirit of America Award to Zulema Wiscovitch, co-CEO of Associated Supermarket Group (ASG).  NGA’s Spirit of America Award has been presented since 1982 to individuals who provide leadership in the areas of community service and government relations and are committed to a free and independent food distribution system.

And, NGA presented former Kraft Heinz Co. Head of Industry Relations and Sale Operations Michael Ridenour with its Industry Service Award, bestowed annually on "an individual or company whose years of service in the food industry have contributed to better working relations and understanding between retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers."

The awards were made during NGA's Executive Conference & Public Policy Summit, which took place this week in Washington, DC.

•  Starbucks said that this week it "welcomed 2,000 retail leaders from across the U.S. and Canada for a District Manager+ Leadership Experience in Seattle, Wa. Designed to build the leadership excellence required for retail leaders to lead their stores and store partner (employees) though the company’s Reinvention, this gathering marks the first convening of its kind since 2014, bringing together District Managers, Regional Directors, Regional Vice Presidents from Company-Operated, Licensed Store and Siren Retail businesses in the U.S. and Canada, as well as leaders from the company’s partner resources organization.

"Over the course of two days, retail leaders will hear from regional and global leadership, and participate in capability-building forums … Specific trainings and conversations will focus on mastering craft, building connections, communicating with impact and problem solving. Leaders will go back to their markets later this week equipped with the clarity, skills and agency they need to lead, inspire and nurture their stores and store partners, and a deep understanding that they are part of something bigger and their accountability to the enterprise priorities."

No "Union-Busting 101" on the curriculum?

•  From Bloomberg:

"Kraft Heinz Co. and Jeff Bezos-backed startup NotCo are following through with their bet on plant-based foods. 

"Eight months after announcing their joint venture, the companies are unveiling their first products: animal-free cheese slices and mayonnaise. Not Cheese will first appear on shelves in a small market test in Cleveland in early November, with a national rollout to follow by the end of 2023. Mayonnaise plans are still in the works, but an early 2023 rollout is being targeted.

"For Kraft Heinz, the joint venture is an opportunity to join a competitive category without making major investments in research and development … For NotCo, it translates into US — and eventually global — distribution, without the need to build costly manufacturing capacity. It also gets a recognizable brand name. 

"There are clear benefits for both sides, but the collaboration is still risky: The plant-based category’s earlier stratospheric growth has cooled as competition heats up and inflation erodes purchasing power."

Somehow, "Not Cheese" is a phrase that does not titillate my taste buds.  With a name like that, I half expect the slogan to be, "Also Not Tasty."