Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Favorites Feature: Small-Format; Prepared Foods Merchandising; Tesco Soup Can Art; Cheap Wine Don't Whine; Petrol Wars and Bye to Biofuels

Fresh & Easy Buzz's Friday Favorites Feature

Top Fav: Small-format food and grocery retailing in America

The food and grocery industry Blog Natural~Specialty Foods Memo is running what it calls a "Small-Format Food Retailing Special Report," in which its writing about various aspects of small-format food and grocery retailing: profiling retailers and discussing issues involving small-format stores.

Below are a few 'Friday Favorites' -- selected stories from the Blog's small-format feature:

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: This Independent Combines C-Store Convenience With Fresh Foods, Groceries and A Secret Weapon -- Lots of Beer

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: Not Technically 'Small-Format' But Whole Foods Market, Inc. is Going 'Smaller'

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: Giant Food Stores To Open its First Small-Format, Hybrid Convenience-Grocery Store: 'Giant To Go'

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: 'How Sweet it is': New York City's Economy Candy; A Small-Format Urban Store With A Single Focus

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: First 'Urban Fresh by Jewel' Small-Format Food and Grocery Market Opens Today in Chicago's Lincoln Park Neighborhood

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: 'USA Today' to Open 'USA Today's' Travel Zone Convenience-Oriented Micro Small-Format Stores in Airports in America

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: A Professional Chef Turned Grocer Creates A 'Sub-Urban' Small-Format Fresh Foods and Grocery Store in Maryland USA

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: Savannah, Georgia USA's Parker's Convenience Stores: Taking Hybrid Convenience-Grocery Retailing to Upscale Heights

Small-Format Food Retailing Memo: 'How Sweet it is': New York City's Economy Candy; A Small-Format Urban Store With A Single Focus

Friday Favorites II: Prepared Foods Merchandising

Topic: Fresh, prepared foods merchandising featuring ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat lunch and dinner entrees, side dishes and snacks, is a central merchandising element of Tesco's small-format convenience-oriented Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market format.

Fresh & Easy stores offer a limited assortment of basic food and grocery items under its own fresh & easy store brand, along with some national brands, and fresh & easy brand fresh, prepared foods. The markets also fresh produce, meats, bakery items, craft beers and wines, and some non-foods items in the stores, which average 10,000 -to- 13,000 square feet.

Fresh, prepared foods merchandising has been around in U.S. food and grocery retailing for a couple decades. However, in the last 10 years or so it's become a fast-growing element of supermarket merchandising, particularly picking up steam in the last 4 -to- 5 years.

The supermarket industry trade publication Progressive Grocer recently held what it called a "Supermarket Fresh Food Roundtable" discussion about the fast-growing form of merchandising in U.S. supermarkets.

Among the participants in the fresh foods discussion included people responsible for fresh foods merchandising at some of the top retail chains in the U.S.

The discussion participants were: Ed Ambrose, director of prepared foods, Supervalu, Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn.; Mike Buck, v.p. of service deli & prepared foods, Supervalu; Nancy Gaddy, v.p. of deli and bakery, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., Jacksonville, Fla.; Craig Inabinett, director of deli/bakery operations, Piggly Wiggly Carolina Co., Charleston, S.C.; Mike Merritt, deli merchandiser, Buehler's Fresh Foods, Wooster, Ohio; and Mike Tilden, director of service deli merchandising, Supervalu.

The discussion was moderated by Progressive Grocer's senior editor/fresh food Meg Major. Read her Q&A-style article and coverage of the fresh foods roundtable from the recent issue of Progressive Grocer here.

Topic: Supervalue, Inc., the second-largest U.S.-based supermarket chain, is launching Culinary Circle, a new brand and line of premium quality but "value-priced" prepared foods in the supermarket chains it owns throughout the United States, including the Albertsons chain which has hundreds of stores in Southern California, Arizona and in the Las Vegas, Nevada Metropolitan region where Tesco's Fresh & Easy has its 82 grocery markets.

Nowhere is the supermarket prepared foods sweepstakes heating up more competitively among grocers than in Southern California, where Tesco's Fresh & Easy has over half of its 82 grocery stores. Safeway's Vons, Kroger Co.'s Ralphs, Albertsons (which is owned by Supervalu and is in the process of rolling out the new Culinary Circle brand prepared foods line into all of its stores in the region), Whole Foods Market, Inc., Trader Joe's (which is headquartered in Southern California), Gelsons, Bristol Farms, Sprouts Farmers Market, Henry's Farmers Market, Smart & Final, Costco and others all are becoming major players, along with Fresh & Easy in prepared foods merchandising. That's why we call it a sweepstakes.

Nancy Luna, a business reporter for Southern California's Orange County Register newspaper. who also writes a blog for the paper called the 'Fast food Maven,' has a recent piece about Albertsons' introduction of Supervalu, Inc's new Culinary Circle brand premium quality, value-priced line of fresh, prepared foods into the chain's Southern California stores, amidst the competitive prepared foods retailing sweepstakes we referred to above.

Read the story, "No time to cook? Grocery stores offer more quality to-go foods," here.

More Friday Favorites: Tesco in the United Kingdom

Topic: Britain's famous Graffiti street artist Banksy could do for Tesco store brand canned Tomato Soup what the late American pop artist Andy Warhol did for Campbell's brand canned soups, which was to put them on the pop-art map, in the U.S. when he produced his famous poster featuring a repetition of Campbell's red and white label soup cans. That poster even hung in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In a style very similar to Warhol's, Banksy has produced the Tesco (store brand) Tomato Soup Cans poster pictured above. Andy Warehol's Campbell Soup Cans poster in pictured below.

We haven't heard if Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy likes the poster or not. But if it helps sell as many cans of Tesco Tomato Soup as Andy Warhol's famous Campbell's Tomato Soup poster did, don't be surprised if you see huge displays of Tesco Tomato Soup in all of the retailer's United Kingdom (UK) supermarkets this winter. Click here for more information on Banksy's Tesco Tomato Soup Can poster.

Topic: Tesco is leading a lobbying efforts along with a handful of other UK companies demanding stronger action on climate change by Britain's Parliament. That's a switch in that its usually government that's demanding stronger action on such issues from corporations. Read more about it here: Govt lobbied by green business leaders. And here: Big Business Bosses on Climate Change Action

Topic: Times are tough economically in the UK just as they are in the U.S. Realizing this fact -- and knowing that a little drink of wine can do far more for struggling consumers that a whole lot of whining will do -- Tesco and one of its Chief UK food retailing rivals Sainsbury's are offering "affordable wine" to British shoppers. After all, cutting back is one thing -- but eliminating the fermented juice of the grape completely is unthinkable for many consumers. Read more here: Cutting back: affordable wine. Simple, affordable pleasures can keep one going in bad economic times.

Topic: For those living in the U.S. and fed-up with $4 gallon gasoline, perhaps spending a little time in the UK where gas costs about three times that much per-gallon will make you less angry about the price you're paying at the pump. But don't think for a minute UK consumers aren't equally as angry about the price of petrol across the pond. And that fact isn't lost on the UK's gasoline retailers, which include supermarket chains Tesco, Asda and Morrisons. They've started a gasoline price war of sorts, which has been joined by UK service stations Shell, BP and others. Check it out here: Petrol costs down as price war resumes. And here: Price war brings fuel prices down.

Meanwhile, Tesco is considering eliminating its policy of offering biofuels along with petrol at many of its UK filling stations: Biofuels: Tesco may scrap policy. We wonder though how that fits with the call for the UK government to enact tougher carbon emissions standards?

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