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Retail Business Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

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September 01, 2018, to December 01, 2018

Multinational Corporations Support Campaign To Reduce Ocean Plastic Pollution

Multinational corporations, including Coca-Cola and Walmart, pledged their support for the Ocean Plastics Charter signed by Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and Italy in June 2018. Despite an abstention by the two other G7 nations, United States and Japan, several non-G7 nations supported the plan to achieve 100 percent plastics recyclability by 2030. An announcement by Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKena to create a new partnership with businesses to reduce plastic waste secured support from several companies, including Loblaws, Walmart, and IKEA, and Nestle Canada. Separately, Unilever announced the launch of a not-for-profit venture to reduce consumer and business waste.

British Supermarket Chain The Co-op Replaces Plastic Bags With Biodegradable Alternatives


The Co-op became the first supermarket chain in Great Britain to adopt compostable alternatives as a replacement for single-use plastic bags. The move follows the 2015 law that requires retailers to charge five pence for plastic bags and reflects the supermarket's commitment to eliminate non-recyclable plastics from its products. The biodegradable plastic bags will be distributed in all 2,600 Co-op locations. Supermarket Waitrose & Partners also indicated it would switch to compostable bags while Lidl announced it would remove all black plastic from packaging (black plastic has been targeted since it’s harder for recyclers to process).

North London Budgens Opens Plastic-Free Zones

A north London branch of supermarket chain Budgens is introducing plastic-free zones. The Belsize Park outlet, Thornton’s Budgens, offers over 1,700 products in plastic-free packaging, using alternative materials such as beechwood nets, paper and glass to wrap foods. It enlisted the help of A Plastic Planet, a campaign group, and created the zone in 10 weeks. Mr. Thornton claims his store is just the second worldwide to have plastic-free zones, with Dutch supermarket Ekoplaza the first.

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August 01, 2018, to September 01, 2018

Australian Retailers Broadcast Their Environment-Friendly Credentials

In Australia, supermarkets are using their environment-friendly efforts as marketing tools. Retailers are also using their “green credentials” to position themselves against their competitors and shield themselves from the bad PR effects of news reports about pollution-related disasters. For example, in April 2018, Woolworths announced it will stop using single-use bags across the country by end of June. Ikea Australia said it will buy back and resell used furniture, a practice it has been doing in other countries. As more companies make environment-friendly claims, they face the risk of consumers becoming skeptical about their corporate social responsibility efforts and, consequently, the brands being damaged.

India’s Kerala State Taps Blockchain, IoT To Upgrade Food Supply Chain

In India, the state of Kerala is planning to use a combination of blockchain technology and the Internet of Things to improve its food supply, including milk, vegetable, and fish. Being implemented through the state’s Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council, the program aims to use separate ID tags for each food shipment to keep track of food products across the supply chain. To ensure fast and reliable delivery and prevent food waste, each part of the supply chain will include radio frequency identification or RFID tags integrated with mobile apps. 

Which? Study Shows A Third Of Plastic Packaging Used By UK Retailers Hard To Recycle

Results of an analysis by Which?, a consumer group, revealed that as much as 29 percent of plastic packaging used by UK retailers is non-recyclable through the usual collection schemes or hard to recycle. Results of the study of packaging used for 27 everyday private-label products sold by 10 leading retail chains showed Lidl had the lowest percentage of easily recyclable packaging at 71 percent. Morrisons topped the results with 81 percent of tested products with packaging considered widely recyclable.

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February 15, 2018, to August 01, 2018

Iceland Trials Return Scheme For Plastic Bottles

UK supermarket Iceland has installed a reverse vending machine in its Fulham store in London. The trial supports a government plan for return schemes to cut down on single-use plastics. The machine gives a 10 pence voucher, redeemable in-store, for each returned Iceland plastic bottle. The retailer has also pledged to eliminate plastic packaging from its own-label products. Earlier in May, the Co-op supermarket said it is going to trial a deposit scheme using machines at a number of music festivals over the summer.

Carrefour Announces 100% Recyclable, Reusable Or Compostable Packaging Goal

French supermarket chain Carrefour is aiming for own-brand packaging that is 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to stop using non-recyclable packaging for organic fruit and vegetables by the end of this year, as well as ending the sale of plastic straws. By 2022, it intends to use 50% recycled plastics in bottles for its juice, soda and water products. The announcement coincides with a European Commission announcement to ban single-use plastics like straws and drink stirrers in the European Union. Plans also cover plastic cutlery and cotton buds, and by 2025 EU states will be expected to collect 90% of single-use plastic beverage bottles.

Food Industry Hits Panic Button Following Amazon’s Whole Foods Buy

Amazon.com Inc.’s June 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.5 billion has prompted rival food retailers to reorganize, reinvent, and recalibrate their business and sales strategies. Whole Foods has seen an increase in sales and delivery following its merger with the online retailer. This is prompting grocery chains to speed up investment plans for delivery and pickup services for their online retail operations. Also, dozens of supermarket companies have entered into agreements with online grocery-delivery service provider Instacart Inc.

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February 01, 2018, to February 15, 2018

Walmart Makes Operational Changes To Speed Stock Replenishment, Delivery

Walmart has decided it can compete more effectively with Amazon.com if it shares more investory data with suppliers so out-of-stock items can be replenished more quickly. Formerly available only internally, the company’s On Shelf Customer Availability (OSCA) data information will be shared at the Supplier Growth Forum, a two-day event at Walmart headquarters. The retailer also said it will tighten deadlines for delivery. It is now requiring large suppliers to deliver full orders within a specified delivery window 85 percent of the time or face a fine of three percent of the cost of goods. Previously, large suppliers had to hit a 75 percent threshold to avoid fines. The delivery threshold for smaller suppliers will move to 50 percent, up from 33 percent, effective in April.   

Kroger Looks To Bolster “Restock Kroger” Initiative With Executive Changes

Kroger announced it is shuffling two management positions to bolster Restock Kroger, a data-drive initiative focused on pricing, personalized communications with customers, and a large revamp of product assortments. The company, the largest collector of food purchase data in the U.S., wants to put that data to competitive advantage as it expands meal- and food-shopping solutions. Thirty-seven-year Kroger veteran Steve McKinney, president of the Fry's Food Stores division, will become senior vice president of retail divisions, effective February 5. Monica Garnes, corporate vice president of produce-floral merchandising, will succeed McKinney as president of the Fry's division. She has been with Kroger for 23 years. 

Kroger’s Scan, Bag, Go Digital Shopping Service To Expand Nationwide This Year

Kroger said it will introduce its Scan, Bag, Go shopping technology this year in 18 operating divisions and 400 stores. The company said it tested the service in several locations and decided to expand its availability across the U.S. through Restock Kroger. Scan, Bag, Go allows customers to use a wireless handheld scanner or the smartphone app to scan and bag products as they shop. Shoppers can view and download digital coupons, keep a running total of their order, and view the current week's sales ad. They can then provide payment directly through the app so they can exit the store quickly. 

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January 15, 2018, to February 01, 2018

Walmart Dismisses Thousands Of Store Co-Managers

Walmart is reportedly planning to eliminate about 3,500 co-manager positions in the US market. According to reports, the planned move is aimed at removing “poor performers” and provide “clearer paths to leadership” for aspiring store managers. Meanwhile, the company announced plans to raise its starting salary to $11 an hour and spend $400 million in one-time bonuses to employees.

Walmart Names McKenna Head Of International Business

Walmart has named its chief operating officer for its domestic operations, Judith McKenna, to head the retail giant's international unit. McKenna's appointment marks a significant milestone for women executives at Walmart, with the international unit viewed as a “stepping stone” to the company's CEO job. Other announcements made by the retailer include plans to raise starting salary to $11 an hour and to close 63 Sam's Club stores.

Target Launches Good Chemistry Brand Of Fragrances

Target said it plans to launch Good Chemistry, the retailer's first exclusive fragrance brand. According to the company, the brand includes four collections it says are inspired by different personalities: Confident and Charming, Good and Grounded, Vibrant and Playful, and Cool and Collected. Featuring paraben-free scents, the vegan fragrances are made with essential oils and will be available at all Target branches from January 21, 2018.

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January 01, 2018, to January 15, 2018

Kroger Continues To Expand Its Clean-Label Product Offerings

Kroger’s “Simple Truth” product line, which are free from more than a hundred artificial preservatives and other undesirable ingredients such as GMOs and antibiotics, is being expanded, the company announced. Simple Truth brand includes more than 1,400 natural and organic products in categories such as grocery, meat, produce, deli, bakery, baby, household essentials and personal care. New Simple Truth products will debut this year that “align with customer trends, including increasingly popular categories like beverage, snacking and non-animal proteins." The company said Simple Truth 3rd quarter sales grew 19 percent. 

Walmart Brazil Plans To Combine Physical Stores With Online Retail

Walmart Brazil said it plans to spend $464 million in the next four years to integrate its brick-and-mortar stores with the company's online retail operations. Also, the retailer said it will expand its e-commerce platform to allow third-party retailers to sell goods on its online marketplace.

Amazon's Mexico Initiatives Gain Recognition From Euromonitor

In the second half of 2017, online retailer Amazon launched three initiatives in Mexico, market research firm Euromonitor found interesting. In October 2017, the online retailer launched Amazon Cash, a service that allows consumers to load their Amazon accounts with credit by paying in cash at retail locations across the country. Also, Amazon launched its Handmade marketplace for artisan-made products, including jewelry, home décor, and accessories. Amazon also increased its focus on fast-moving consumer goods, such as pet care, beauty, and home care products.

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November 15, 2017, to January 01, 2018

Restaurants Can’t Ignore Customers Looking To Avoid Certain Foods

Big restaurant chains are swerving from their standardized approach to foods and beverages to better serve customers trying to avoid gluten and dairy. Customers with food intolerances or allergies, or who are following avoidance diets, have become a market simply too large to ignore. Starbucks, for example, now sells a hot chocolate drink made with steamed almond milk. California Pizza Kitchen offers a gluten-free cauliflower crust for those who don’t eat wheat-based foods. Industry research has found that lactose comes in third, after high fructose corn syrup and GMOs, as America’s most-avoided ingredients. Gluten and wheat came in at No. 7.

For One Maryland Baker, Breadmaking Is Closely Linked To The Soil

A Maryland baker is taking breadmaking beyond the mere mixture of water, flour, and yeast to the higher art of crafting delicious loaves only from ingredients grown organically by a local farmer. Jonathan Bethony’s “horse bread,” for example, is made with field peas, sorghum, millet, mustard seed, and camelina – all provided by an organic farmer, who grows only what he needs to keep his land healthy and ready to produce more traditional wheat. Bethony mills the grains at his bakery. He never sifts, so the nutritious oils and bran remain in his bread and pastries. Chef and author Dan Barber says Bethony’s somewhat spiritual techniques may seem old-fashioned, but they’re actually rather futuristic: “You’re basically looking at the Steve Jobs of bread.” 

Minnesota Bakery Is Famous For Its “Texas Doughnuts”

Hans’ Bakery in Minnesota continues a tradition begun in the 1970s of baking massive glazed or chocolate-covered treats known as “Texas doughnuts.” The pastries are about five times the size of a normal doughnut – as big as your head, as some say – and are a hit on social media. People flock to Hans’ Bakery just to take selfies holding them next to their faces or taking bites. The original Hans’ Bakery closed in 2010, but after a couple of personal and financial setbacks, new owner Kelly Olsen decided to revive it. The Food Network followed her journey. The shop re-opened in 2014 and became – along with its giant-size doughnuts – an instant hit. 
 
 

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November 01, 2017, to November 15, 2017

Data Analytics Platform Helps Tesco India Detect, Prevent Shopping Fraud

The Indian technology center for supermarket chain Tesco has created a platform and team that detects online and offline fraud involving its massive amounts of collected customer data. The 18-member staff is focused on combating fraud for online businesses (food and non-food), buyer-supplier collusion fraud, and employee fraud at checkout counters. The platform is programmed to detect anomalies in purchasing patterns that might indicate fraud, such as bulk purchases of products like alcohol and cigarettes. 

Sean Clarke Leaves CEO Position At Walmart’s Asda Unit

Roger Burnley [left] will take over as CEO of Walmart’s British supermarket chain Asda as of January 1, 2018, from Sean Clarke, who worked closely with Burnley over the past year as deputy CEO. After December, Clarke will take “some time out and will then remain engaged with Walmart,” Walmart International CEO Dave Cheesewright said. Clarke has worked in five of Walmart’s international markets, including a stint as CEO of Walmart China. 

Asda Appoints Former Carrefour Merchandising Executive As CMO

Walmart-owned UK retailer Asda has appointed Jesus Lorente, Carrefour's former head of merchandising for its operations in Spain, as its new chief merchandising officer. Lorente will succeed Andrew Moore who is retiring in January 2018. Lorente's appointment follows Asda's announcement of deputy chief executive Roger Burnley's promotion to replace current CEO Sean Clarke in January 1, 2018.

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October 15, 2017, to November 01, 2017

Upcoming GDPR Legislation Set To Have Global Impact

New General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are due to arrive in May 2018. GDPR will create a standardized data privacy law for EU members. It will also affect companies and individuals selling goods or services to EU citizens. The legislation will give individuals more rights to their data, including the “right to be forgotten” and asking consent for data processing. Potential fines for not adhering to the regulations can be up to $24m, or 4% of a company’s annual turnover. A recent PwC survey revealed that GDPR is a top data priority for more than 50 percent of US multinationals. 

'Supermarket' Startup Seeks To Go Storeless

Farmstead believes it can reinvent the supermarket model by eliminating its physical structure altogether. The San Francisco based startup has a series of micro-warehouses stocked with a range of local farm produce and grocery products and uses AI to predict a customer’s future needs based on their initial order. The selection is then delivered to the customer. Farmstead claims to have made over 15,000 deliveries in the Bay Area and has raised $2.8 million from venture funds.  

The Body Shop Launches Asian-Themed Skincare Products In New Zealand

Beauty retailer The Body Shop has introduced the Japanese Matcha Tea Pollution Clearing Mask skincare product in New Zealand. According to the company, the product features the antioxidant properties of Japan's matcha green tea and dandelion extracts from France. Also, the retailer announced the Chinese Ginseng & Rice cleanser and toner, the Clarifying Polishing Powder Wash, and the Clarifying Milky Toner.

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October 01, 2017, to October 15, 2017

Food Industry Giants Seek Label Standardization Within Three Years

An organization that represents 400 consumer goods manufacturers and retailers in 70 countries has proposed that food date (viz., "sell by," use by," etc.) labels be standardized and streamlined globally within three years to help customers reduce the amount of edible food thrown out by households. The “Call to Action” from the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), a Paris-based group with offices in Tokyo and Washington, D.C., requires retailers and food producers to focus on numbers of labels, inclusion of expiration dates for perishable items and food quality indicators for non-perishable items, and educating consumers on what date labels mean. The CGF includes companies like Tesco, Kellogg, Walmart, Campbell Soup, Bimbo, Pick n Pay, Nestlé, Carrefour, and Unilever.

Tesco Own-Label Suppliers Commit To Food Waste Transparency

Major own-label food suppliers to British supermarket chain Tesco have agreed to start publishing their food waste data within the next year. CEO Dave Lewis called the commitment by 24 of the company’s biggest suppliers “pivotal.” Lewis said he believed that many other suppliers and retailers would follow suit in the next weeks and months. Suppliers were apparently influenced by a WRAP organization report in March that showed investments in curbing food waste earned positive returns. For every £1 invested in reducing food waste, WRAP reported, half the business sites had at least a £14 return. WRAP is a nonprofit organization whose vision is a world where resources are used sustainably.

Discount Retailers Aldi And Lidl Have US Retailers Against The Ropes

German discount retailers Lidl and Aldi are expected to grow faster than their local competitors in the US market. By offering limited variety of products at very low prices, Lidl and Aldi are winning a price war and expanding their shares of the retail market. Operating in the US since the 1970s, Aldi has 1,700 stores across the country, while Lidl began its expansion in the East Coast in June, and opened its 30th store in September 2017. Also, by offering private-brand products, the German retailers can offer discounts ranging from 35 percent to 40 percent, compared with their rivals.
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