FTC probes grocery and meat supply chain and spiking prices

The two largest U.S. supermarket chains, the leading grocery wholesaler and the No. 1 chicken processor are among nine companies ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to turn over detailed information for its study of "empty shelves and sky-high prices." The commission said it would investigate the causes of supply chain disruptions and the hardships imposed on consumers. No paywall

Record sales of organic food as pandemic boosts home cooking

Americans bought a record $56.5 billion of organic food last year, an increase of nearly 13 percent from 2019, as shoppers flooded grocery stores due to stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, said a survey released on Tuesday by the Organic Trade Association. Certified organic food …

Grocery prices rising at highest rate since 2012

Coronavirus constrictions in the meat supply, which prompted some grocery chains to limit sales per customer, are driving the highest rate of price inflation at supermarkets in eight years, said the USDA in a monthly forecast. Grocery prices will rise by a higher-than-average 2.5 percent this year, double the previous estimate.

The supermarket of the future may be smaller and fresher

Besides fueling the growth of online grocery shopping and delivery services, the coronavirus pandemic also may transform supermarkets, where Americans spend more than $700 billion a year. Purdue economist Jayson Lusk envisions that supermarkets, typically nearly an acre in size, will become …

Most SNAP recipients can’t buy groceries online. Now, some states push for change.

With millions of Americans sheltering in place, many are opting to buy groceries online for home delivery to reduce risk of exposure to the coronavirus. But that isn't an option for most people who receive federal food assistance from the USDA. Now, states are asking the department to address the issue, but the agency hasn't said whether it will update the policy. (No paywall)

A Brooklyn co-op hustles as food demand spikes

Like other grocery stores in New York City, the Park Slope Food Co-op, in Brooklyn, is out of hand sanitizer. But even with 17,000 members and weekly sales of $1.23 million, shelves at one of the nation’s oldest and largest food co-ops are nearly full. “We got the hang of it very quickly after the initial enormous jolt of extra purchases hit 15 days ago,” Joe Holtz, the co-op’s general manager and co-founder, said late last week. (No paywall)

Food access in D.C.: Q&A with Ashanté Reese

In her new book, “Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C.,” Ashanté M. Reese, an assistant professor of anthropology at Spelman College, uses Deanwood, a predominately black neighborhood in D.C., as a lens to examine the broader obstacles to food access and opportunity facing black communities as well as how a narrative of self-reliance has both boosted and hindered fundamental changes in the food system.(No paywall)

U.K. retailer, Citigroup take actions against palm oil

It was a tough week for the multibillion-dollar palm oil industry. A British grocery chain with 900 stores said it would remove all palm oil from its branded products by the end of 2018, and Citigroup announced it would suspend loans to IndoAgri, the agribusiness arm of Indonesia’s largest conglomerate, the Salim Group. No paywall

Albertson’s plans to buy majority stake in Rite Aid

The grocery company Albertson’s, owner of Safeway and several other supermarket chains, plans to buy a majority stake in Rite Aid. The combined company will have 4,900 locations across 38 states and the District of Columbia. Company executives cited Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods as one reason for the buy.

Amazon begins delivery from Whole Foods

Amazon announced last week that it would begin two-hour delivery of Whole Foods products for Prime members in select markets. The announcement came just before the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is preparing to introduce an in-house delivery service, which would compete with FedEx and UPS.

Few black-owned grocery stores in the U.S.

As the owner of a full-service supermarket in New Orleans, Dwayne Boudreaux "is a rare success in Black and brown communities nationwide, but not for lack of effort," says Civil Eats. "In fact, Boudreaux is one of the nation’s few remaining Black people operating full-service supermarkets."

Millennials are choosing organic food, says trade group

The millennial generation is "choosing organic" and as they become parents, the market for organic food will boom, says the Organic Trade Association, based on a survey of U.S. households. "Over the next 10 years, we’ll see a surge of new organic eaters and consumers – the Millennial parents of tomorrow and their children," said Laura Batcha, chief executive of the trade group.

Grocery stores step up during Hurricane Harvey

The biggest grocery store chains have been quick to reopen in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a sign of just how vital the retailers are to disaster food relief. “On Tuesday, at the height of the flooding, Walmart had closed 134 Houston-area stores. By Thursday, only 21 stores remained closed. H-E-B (a Texas-based grocery chain) also had reopened almost 90 percent of its stores by then. Of the 20 stores owned by Albertson's, 16 are now open,” says NPR.

That Whole Foods advantage? Mostly marketing.

People who shop at Whole Foods expect to get higher-quality food in exchange for paying significantly higher prices. But when it comes to poultry and meat, at least, consolidation in the industry and broadly rising standards mean the same products that Whole Foods sells are increasingly available at conventional supermarket chains for a lot less money, reports Bloomberg.

Who buys groceries online? Nine percent of adults in a month.

When Amazon announced its deal to buy Whole Foods, the instant analysis was that groceries would be the next big thing in online shopping. If so, there is a lot of room for growth since a sliver of Americans – 9 percent, according to Gallup – say they order groceries by Internet at least once a month. The number of regular shoppers is smaller still: 4 percent of adults order groceries online once a week or more often. By comparison, 83 percent said someone in the family goes to the store at least once a week, according to a Gallup survey conducted by phone in early July.

French law ineffective against food waste by supermarkets

A year ago, as a step against food waste, the French Parliament voted to fine supermarkets that throw away food products that are still edible or can be converted to feed for animals. The supermarkets were expected to make arrangements to donate the items to charities, says Food Navigator, but "many feel that regulation will remain ineffective until government support is provided across the food chain."

Is where you buy groceries a signal of what you buy?

The traditional supermarket is losing its attraction for grocery shoppers, who increasingly buy their food at supercenters, dollar stores and club stores, although supermarkets remain the dominant retailer. Three USDA economists found correlations between where people buy their food, their income levels and what they buy.

Meal-kit company finds new sales outlet – the supermarket

Purple Carrot, a vegan meal-kit company based in Boston, now sells its boxes of pre-measured ingredients in local Whole Foods stores, says the Boston Globe — a twist from the meal-kit model of shipping food and recipes to a subscriber's home. "After realizing they're literally getting their lunch stolen by these startups, they [grocers] have begun to look for ways to tap into the public's interest in the trend," the newspaper says.

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