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US Wal-Mart Goes for Full Eco-friendly Packaging by 2025

April 19, 2009: 07:18 AM EST
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer is aiming to become one of the greenest, with all its 4,100 US stores aiming to reuse or recycle all their discarded packaging by 2025. Among the methods being discussed are promoting the habit of reusable bags by customers and reusing oil. The group buys from more than 60,000 suppliers worldwide and expects its eco-packaging policy will cut waste by 5 percent. It already recycles 180 million pounds of materials a year. The British division expects to achieve full recycling by 2010.
Dominic Rushe, "Walmart aspires to be jolly green giant", Times Online (UK), April 19, 2009, © Times Newspapers Ltd
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Whole Foods Feature on Top-Five Fortified List

April 16, 2009: 08:53 AM EST
Probiotic low-fat yogurt is the only “truly technical, fortified food” on the New York State Dietetic Association’s (NYSDA) list of top-five functional foods. The Association opted for four “whole foods” as the bulk of the list, saying that, "Functional foods describe foods that, in addition to being nutritious, offer distinct health benefits”. The list, in descending order, is: salmon, for its omega-3 content; oats (fiber); blueberries (antioxidants); low-fat milk (calcium and vitamin D); and low-fat yogurt (probiotics). NYSDA president J. Elizabeth Smythe said, "These foods may provide extra amounts of essential nutrients, and/or contain other biologically active components that promote healthy body functions”. The list was compiled after the American Dietetic Association endorsed the potential health benefits of “fortified, enriched or enhanced foods” as part of a balanced diet.
Shane Starling, "NY nutritionists list top 5 functional foods", foodnavigator-usa.com, April 16, 2009, © Decision News Media SAS
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French Giant to Open Stores in, Russia, India

April 16, 2009: 03:11 AM EST
Carrefour has plans to expand into Russia and India. According to Reuters, France’s second-largest grocery chain will open hypermarkets in Moscow in May, in Krasnodar in the south of Russia, and in Lipetsk this autumn. The company is also considering buying Seventh Continent, regarded as Moscow’s leading grocery chain. The sector is seen as having growth potential despite the current downturn, because Russia is a developing economy. In India, the company plans to open a cash-and-carry outlet in Delhi, where it is finalizing sourcing arrangements. Indian regulations restrict it to operating franchise or license operations.
"Carrefour to open at least 3 Russian stores in '09", Reuters, April 16, 2009, © Thomson Reuters
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BJ’s Adds Food Stamps to Purchase Options

April 15, 2009: 04:28 AM EST
BJ's Wholesale Club is responding to tougher economic times by accepting food-stamp benefits via Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT). BJ’s already offers more payment options than any other wholesale group in the US. As well as a wide range of credit and ATM cards, it accepts cash and checks, and also handles manufacturer coupons. More consumers are turning to wholesale clubs as the recession tightens its grip, attracted by BJ’s 30 percent savings off supermarket prices and its wide range of produce and brand-name non-perishable goods. The Club operates in 15 states.
"BJ's Wholesale Club Expands Payment Options to Members ", PR Newswire , April 15, 2009, via PR Newswire , © LexisNexis
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Checkout TV Captures Eye of More Shoppers

April 7, 2009: 03:48 AM EST
In-store TV is becoming more effective at influencing shoppers’ future buying intentions, according to research carried out by GfK Custom Research North America. A random exit survey of more than 1,200 shoppers who had watched the Premier Retail Networks' (PRN) program while going through the checkout showed that recall of ad messages was 18 percent up on the previous year. Viewership was up 8.4 percent, approaching the 100 million mark. Sixty percent of those surveyed said they recalled brand messages, with 70 percent of those (42 percent of the survey total) saying "it influenced their intent to buy the product in the future." Richard Fisher, president of PRN worldwide, said the increased viewership and recall was a result of the “evolution of our content strategy”, showing ads “that were contextually relevant to shoppers at that moment”.
"U.S. consumers checking out in-store TV", In-Store News , April 07, 2009, © Centaur Media Plc
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Recession Pushing More Shopping Online

March 27, 2009: 04:22 PM EST
The recession is persuading Americans to shop more online. The March 2009 Consumer Behavior Report from PriceGrabber.com says that some 53 percent of online Americans are spending longer on the internet to research purchases and shop for deals, including buying vendors that do not add sales tax. They are also spending longer online during the recession searching for coupons. Half of online consumers said that they have recently made efforts to rein in spending, down from 59% in the October 2008 survey. More than nine in ten feel confident that their online research will provide them with the best deals. Over seven in ten say that they have implemented savings strategies and will maintain them even after the economy recovers. 34% of online shoppers believe it will be two years before they are able to resume spending at pre-recession levels; 37% think it will take at least three years, and 29% believe it’s just a year away.
"Consumers Go Online to Curb Impulses, Avoid Taxes", Marketing Charts, March 27, 2009, © Watershed Publishing
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Economic Downturn Impacting Gourmet Store Sales

March 25, 2009: 03:08 PM EST
Earlier signs that upscale grocery stores might fare relatively well in the recession have been replaced by indications that, according to one gourmet grocery store owner, “frugal is in”, which means consumers choosing store brand rather than just trading down from restaurant food to high-end retail options. A consultant working with the Food Marketing Institute found that the recession could have an effect on consumer shopping habits that will endure longer than the economic downturn, and research firm Information Resources Inc. says that some consumers are reducing costs by not buying expensive organic food and luxury items. The National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Inc. said sales of specialty food rose in 2008 but turned down in the fourth quarter. Also affecting the gourmet stores are the improvements that traditional supermarkets have made to their meat and produce sections.
"Upscale Grocery Stores Lose Customers to Kroger, Wal Mart", Business Torrents, March 25, 2009, via Technology Marketing Corp. , © Business Torrents
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Online Shoppers Seek Bargains, Compare Prices, Gain Confidence

March 25, 2009: 02:33 PM EST
Consumers are going online to research purchases as a strategy to combat the recession, says the March Consumer Behavior Report from PriceGrabber.com. The largest percentage (40 percent) say they are spending more time comparing prices. More than a quarter are searching for coupons, and a quarter also say they are spending more time shopping online. Most consumers are focused on spending smarter, with 91 percent of online shoppers saying they feel more confident about purchases after researching prices. Many of them (71 percent) say they will continue their recession savings strategies permanently. Big-ticket items are still on their radar if the price is right, and searching for deals is important to consumers.
Sara Rodriguez, "Economic Climate Shifts Consumers Online", PriceGrabber: Consumer Behavior Report, March 25, 2009, © PriceGrabber
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Tesco cuts prices on over 3,500 items

February 27, 2009: 07:15 PM EST
Summary from the snapshot Britain's two biggest supermarket groups, Tesco and Asda, went head to head with price cuts on thousands of everyday products, stepping up the battle to attract shoppers hit by the economic downturn. Britain's two biggest supermarket groups, Tesco and Asda, went head to head with price cuts on thousands of everyday products, stepping up the battle to attract shoppers hit by the economic downturn.
"Tesco cuts prices on over 3,500 items", Guardian, February 27, 2009, © Guardian
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Whole Foods Commits To Sustainable Palm Oil

February 24, 2009: 04:17 PM EST
In an boost for the Rainforest Action Network's campaign to end unsustainable palm oil production, Whole Foods Market signed on, expressed concern about for current practices and called for a change in the US market. Palm oil is used widely in many cosmetic and consumer goods and unsustainable practices are blamed for deforestation in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Amazon rainforest. Whole Foods Market joins 37 other food, cosmetic and consumer goods companies and two organic palm oil suppliers who have signed a Rainforest Action Network (RAN) pledge to seek more sustainable ways of sourcing palm oil.
"Whole Foods Market® Supports End to Unsustainable Palm Oil", Rainforest Action Network, February 24, 2009, © Rainforest Action Network
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Shelf Tags Provide Nutrition Information

February 1, 2009: 08:21 PM EST
In-store labeling systems that identify healthy products are becoming more popular in supermarket chains across the US. Some groups, such as Ahold USA's Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover, Supervalu, and regional chains Price Chopper and Hy-Vee, are using proprietary systems, others are basing labels on FDA guidelines or ranking developed by private companies in association with researchers. The chains are also using booklets, ceiling banners, promotional messages and websites to promote their schemes. Retailers say the programs promote healthy-eating habits, boost customer loyalty and improve the shopping experience. Some reports indicate sales of labeled items are increasing. Many packaged-food manufacturers are also involved in a national labeling program developed by nonprofit organization The Keystone Centre. Scheduled to launch in summer, the "Smart Choices Program" uses federal government guidelines to identify healthy foods. Participating companies include Kraft Foods, General Mills, ConAgra and Unilever.
"Supermarkets Tag Along on Nutrition", In-Store Marketer, February 01, 2009, © In-Store Marketing Institute
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