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Meals centered on fruits and vegetables are gaining in popularity

Albertsons: Pinterest highlights private-label products

Factbox: Sizing up U.S. retailers' performance as online sales surge
As online shopping upends the retail business, many Wall Street analysts say traditional measures such as counting the number of people who visit stores on major shopping days are no longer a reliable gauge of a company’s performance. Newer tactics: Subscribing to retailers’ emails to closely monitor promotions, flash sales and doorbuster deals; Counting the number of Instagram-led fashion brands in retailers’ stores and online; Examining e-receipt data provided by consumers, recording when a customer was at a store and what they bought; Forming partnerships with third-party data analytics firms measuring things such as website visits and social media sentiment for a more holistic view; Counting the number of “off-price” stores in a retailer’s fleet; Counting the proportion or number of millennials and Gen Z customers shopping at the store.

US: Albertsons highlights Own Brands via Pinterest
Albertsons Cos. has enlisted a new tool from social media platform Pinterest to highlight its roster of private-label products. For seasonal promotions of its Own Brands offerings, Albertsons leveraged Pinterest Trends, a beta tool that provides of view of the top U.S. search terms on Pinterest in the previous 12 months. The ability to see when the top search terms peak gives the retailer a better idea of how content will perform, according to Pinterest.

US: Produce takes its place as a main dish
Meatless meals are on the increase as consumers try to watch what they eat. Meals centered on fruits and vegetables are gaining in popularity, spawning a wide range of recipes, from casual eats to formal dinners. Produce departments have the opportunity to grab more sales with this new place on the table for these new main-meal dishes. As plant-based eating continues to grow, many of today’s shoppers are looking for more meatless main dishes to include on their tables. One-third of Americans consider themselves to be “flexitarians” - those who alternate between a produce-based and a meat-based diet, according to the New York Post. In fact, 60% of people are more likely to include at least one produce main dish on their holiday table than in the past, Chicago-based C+R Research has found. Shoppers will be stocking up on a variety of fruits and vegetables for the center of the plate this year, so be sure to offer options that will draw them in.

Mukesh Ambani: Asia's richest man takes on retail giant Amazon
A conglomerate run by Asia's richest man has started a service that aims to compete with Amazon in India. Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries said it had been inviting people to sign up to its grocery delivery service. The company is aiming to use its massive mobile phone customer base as a springboard for the business. The new e-commerce venture could become a major challenger to India's existing online retail giants. Two subsidiaries of Mr Ambani's business empire, Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio, said they had soft-launched the venture, called JioMart. JioMart says it offers "free and express delivery" for a list of grocery goods, which currently numbers some 50,000 items. Unlike its rivals, JioMart will connect local stores to customers via an app rather than providing and delivering the goods itself.

Switzerland: Aldi opened 11 new stores in 2019
Aldi Suisse plans to continue expanding its network in 2020, with further openings in cities such as in Lucerne and Lausanne, as well as a two-storey branch in Neuchâtel. The openings are part of the discounter’s ambitious goal of reaching 300 branches in 10 years. In 2019, 11 new stores were opened, including the 200th branch in Lugano last March. With the opening of branches in the city centre in Geneva, Fribourg, Lugano, St. Gallen and Zurich (two branches), Aldi Suisse continued to expand further within city centre locations.

Holland: Jumbo reaches double figure growth
Dutch retailer Jumbo saw its 2019 turnover go up by almost 15%, fuelled by both the opening of dozens of new stores and a like-for-like growth that exceeded that of the market. Its expansion to Belgium is proving highly successful. Jumbo Groep Holding has ended its fiscal year, and published a total turnover of 8.68bln euros. The group's eponymous supermarkets made up almost all of this ten digit figure, raising their turnover to 8.43bln. Jumbo's restaurant chain La Place grew by 10% to 165mln, with the remaining 85mln being generated by the Emté stores that are in the process of being turned into Jumbo stores.

Thailand begins 2020 with plastic bag ban
Thailand has banned the use of plastic bags at major supermarket chains. The government aims to move towards a complete ban of plastic bags at all retailers from 2021. 75 department stores, convenience stores and other shops with more than 24,500 branches nationwide have agreed to stop giving plastic bags away for free. "Thailand was ranked sixth among the world's top countries that dumps waste into the sea", said Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Varawut Silpa-Archa. "During the past 5 months, we were down to 10th, thanks to the cooperation of the Thai people". The ministry says the country reduced the use of plastic bags by 2bln, or about 5,765 tonnes last year, in a campaign to encourage consumers' refusal of plastic bags from stores.

Uber Eats goes local to find its niche in South African food fight
A stone’s throw from Nelson Mandela’s former home in South Africa’s Soweto township, Dumile Badela’s restaurant is now more hectic and lucrative than ever, thanks to Uber Eats, his hungriest customer yet. Having already dominated Africa’s ride-hailing sector, Uber is trying to conquer the food delivery market by leveraging its massive fleet of drivers in the continent’s most developed economy and tracking popular food choices and destinations. The prize is big. The country’s online food delivery industry was worth 10.49bln rand ($713mln) in 2019, according to data portal Statista. And with growth pegged at nearly 14% annually, it will hit 17.6bln rand by 2023.

Japan: Supermarket sales fall 1.4% in November due to tax hike
Japan's supermarket sales in November fell 1.4% from a year earlier on a same-store basis, down for the second straight month, continuing to be affected by the consumption tax hike on October 1, an industry body said. Sales at 10,538 supermarkets operated by 55 companies totaled 996.8bln yen ($9.1bln), according to the Japan Chain Stores Association. Warm temperatures also contributed to the decline, discouraging demand for winter clothes. Sales of food items, which were generally exempted from the 2-percentage-point tax increase from 8%, dipped 0.2%, with demand for alcohol subject to a 10% tax not recovering after being pushed up in September on last-minute demand.

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