Walmart will unveil Walmart+ later this month

Costco: June sales rose 11% to $16.2bln

US: Earth Fare is back in business
A group of investors that purchased 4 Earth Fare supermarkets in a bankruptcy auction earlier this year plans to open a new store in Christiansburg, Virginia, early next year, according to a press release sent to Grocery Dive. The new location is in addition to 3 Earth Fare stores recently opened in Asheville and Boone, North Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, where 3 of the 4 locations it bought at the auction were located. The ownership group, helmed by Randy Talley, a co-founder of the original Earth Fare, also acquired a store in Athens, Georgia, during the bankruptcy auction. The Christiansburg Earth Fare store, which will anchor a redeveloped shopping center, will feature a new design but hold onto touches that helped the former Earth Fare chain build a following among devotees of the natural foods the brand became known for, such as a "Boot List" of banned ingredients, according to the press release.

US: Walmart to launch competitor to Amazon Prime in July
Walmart will unveil its subscription service Walmart+ later this month as it races to gain an advantage over competitors such as Amazon, according to a new report. For $98 a year, subscribers will gain access to same-day delivery on groceries and other merchandise, they will be privy to discounts at Walmart gas stations and gain early access to deals from the nation's largest retailer, Recode reported, citing several sources that it declined to name. Representatives for Walmart declined FOX Business' request for comment.

US: Publix initiative to help farmers moves north
In April, Publix Super Markets rolled out a new initiative to support farmers and families across the Southeast by purchasing fresh produce and milk to donate during the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, Publix has bought more than 5mln pounds of produce and 350,000 gallons of milk for Feeding America member food banks. As the growing season moves north, so will the program. The initiative began in Florida but has since spread to Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, with Publix adding farmers from Tennessee and Virginia in the coming weeks.

US: Lidl pressures rivals to slash prices
Lidl’s recent store openings on New York’s Long Island pressured competing grocers in the market to reduce their prices by as much as 15%, a new study from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School has found. Katrijn Gielens, professor of marketing at Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based UNC Kenan-Flagler, led the independent study, which was commissioned by Lidl US. Referencing data collected just before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in supply shortages, the study noted that Lidl’s prices were about 45% lower than Trader Joe’s and more than 30% lower than other national retailers on Long Island. These findings revealed that Lidl’s price-cutting effect is counteracting the steepest rise in food prices experienced by consumers in decades.

US: Costco June sales rise 11% to $16bln
Costco Wholesale Corp. said its June sales rose 11% to $16.2bln, from $14.6bln in June 2019. Same-store sales rose 12%, including an 11% increase in U.S. same-store sales. E-commerce sales increased 86%, the company said. Costco sales in May rose 7.5% and online sales jumped 106% that month. Costco has reported strong e-commerce sales this year but at its last quarterly report in April the company said the online sales hadn't made up for the drop in foot traffic at the stores and other businesses such as optical, food court, and travel due to the stay-at-home orders, social-distancing restrictions and closures related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Amazon launches new attack on supermarkets
Amazon is attacking the supermarket landscape with several concepts at the same time: after the growth of home delivery during the corona crisis, the cash-less Amazon Go concept is expanding further, while "regular" supermarkets are also being added. Amazon has the wind in its sails during the corona crisis: e-commerce is exploding and the demand for home delivery of food products (AmazonFresh) has also increased significantly in recent months. However, this does not prevent the retail giant from continuing to focus on physical growth, particularly in food retail. The company of the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos, plans to open at least 6 more physical supermarkets in the United States in the near future.

Brazil: Hirota opens micro-convenience stores in shipping containers
Hirota, a Brazilian supermarket chain with around 35 stores in São Paulo, is opening micro stores (of between 15 and 30 sq. m) in adapted shipping containers. They are being opened in common areas of residential condominiums and are aimed at supporting communities by enabling them to buy groceries on their doorstep during the Covid-19 pandemic. "With the pandemic, we realised that many did not want to go to the supermarket, especially the elderly, who began to order purchases by WhatsApp. Then came the idea of setting up small shops inside condominiums," said Hélio Freddi, Hirota director.

UK: Asda launches fresh fruit and vegetable box
Asda has announced the launch of its latest food box, brimming with fresh fruit and vegetables. Containing 18 colourful items for just £20 including delivery, it represents the best value supermarket fruit and vegetable box available. Graeme Fletcher, Project Manager at Asda’s sourcing and procurement arm, IPL, comments: “We’ve listened to which food box our customers want and have developed the contents to suit their needs - a convenient and cost-effective option full to the brim with the freshest fruit and vegetables. Not only will it save them time, the opportunities for creating delicious healthy meals and tasty snacks are endless”.

UK and Ireland: Aldi commits to removing 2.2bln items of plastic by 2025
Aldi has committed to removing 74,000 tonnes of plastic packaging by 2025, thereby reducing plastic volume by half. This figure is equivalent to 2.2bln single items of plastic. In order to meet this target, the supermarket said it plans to switch to alternative materials and remove unnecessary packaging across its product range. Giles Hurley, chief executive officer, Aldi UK and Ireland, commented: “We are stepping up our efforts to reduce the amount of plastic packaging used across our business because it is the right thing to do for a sustainable future. We know this issue matters to our customers too and are confident they will support our initiatives to reduce plastic in the coming years”.

Ireland: Dunnes trials online service
Irish retailer Dunnes has begun trialling an online service from one of its stores, as a response to shoppers increased demand for delivery. Shoppers can now order online delivery from Dunnes Cornelscourt store in Dublin. They can choose from over 230 products, with a minimum order of €20 and a delivery fee of €3. The app is powered by food-ordering start-up Flipdish, a service used in over 750 outlets in Ireland, including some SPAR, Londis and Mace stores. Dunnes will manage the delivery element of the service.

Holland: Picnic selects TGW as partner for highly-automated fulfillment center
TGW is the key partner for the fully robotized fulfillment center for Picnic in the Netherlands. The online supermarket will use a FlashPick® system, which is powerful but flexible at the same time, with 3 temperature zones and a shuttle system at the core of the solution. Picnic was founded in Amersfoort in 2015 and has expanded rapidly in the Netherlands and Germany. Operating from 8 distribution centers, the company delivers groceries to more than 130 cities to an ever growing number of customers. The only way to place an order is through an intuitive app. Those who order before 10 p.m. will receive their fresh, chilled and frozen food the next day. Fruit, vegetables, meat and dry goods are delivered by small eco-friendly electric vans without emissions.

FamilyMart Japan subject of US$5bln takeover bid
Japanese convenience-store chain FamilyMart will be sold outright to local trading company Itochu, according to reports by Nikkei and Bloomberg. The buyer, which currently holds 50% of FamilyMart business, made the decision to fully purchase the chain in a transaction that is expected to cost between US$4.6bln and $5.5bln. The business media say the joining of the two businesses will result in a deeper level of cooperation in food procurement, consumer-goods retailing, customer-data analysis and digital payments, among other areas.

UK: Asda partners with Uber Eats for grocery home delivery trial
Asda has partnered with Uber Eats to offer customers a rapid delivery service to the doorstep in as little as 30 minutes (all approximate delivery times are displayed upon checkout). The trial, which launches this week from stores in Leeds (Pudsey) and Birmingham (Barnes Hill), gives customers a choice of over 300 Asda own-brand products and branded everyday items for speedy delivery including: ready meals, fresh fruit and vegetables, and beer, wine and spirits.

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