Mercato is now enabling customers to pay for groceries using their SNAP benefits

Walmart's Spark Driver platform celebrates 5 years of growth

Imports for first half of 2023 expected to be 22% below same time last year
Import cargo volume at the nation’s major container ports is expected to be 22% lower during the first half of 2023 than the same time last year despite increased consumer spending, according to the Global Port Tracker report by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates. The report comes amid disruptions at West Coast ports but the incidents have not yet been widespread enough to be reflected in nationwide data.

US: UNFI CEO Sandy Douglas cites ‘deep disappointment’ with Q3 results
United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) posted higher sales for its fiscal 2023 third quarter but fell well short of Wall Street’s adjusted earnings-per-share estimate, with CEO Sandy Douglas telling analysts the company is taking steps to bolster its sagging bottom line. For the quarter ended April 29, net sales totaled $7.51bln, up 3.7% from $7.24bln a year earlier, when the top line rose 9.2%, Providence, Rhode Island-based UNFI said.

US: H-E-B expanding lower-priced Joe V’s Smart Shop concept
In the first expansion of the value retail concept outside of Houston, H-E-B plans to open two Joe V’s Smart Shop locations in Dallas. The stores will open at 4104 W. Wheatland Road in late summer 2024, and the other at 5204 S. Buckner Blvd. in spring 2025, respectively. Stores average 55,000 sq.-ft. and carry tortillas and sushi made in-house along with chef-inspired meals, fresh cut fruit, in-store cut meat and more.

US: The Spark Driver platform celebrates 5 years of growth
Walmart reported: "Five years ago, we introduced the Spark Driver platform to help serve our customers with local delivery. What started as a way to provide delivery to customers in rural and suburban areas has grown to become Walmart’s largest local delivery service provider. At the time, Walmart offered grocery pickup in fewer than 2,000 stores and we had just started rolling out grocery delivery to 800 locations. Today, Walmart offers delivery from more than 4,000 stores."

Temptation at the checkout: 70% of food, drinks within arm’s reach are unhealthy
A study published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition suggests most food and beverage options at checkout consist of candy (31%), sugar-sweetened beverages (11%), salty snacks (9%) and sweets (6%). Healthy items were far less common. Water represented 3% of food and beverage options, followed by nuts and seeds (2%), fruits and vegetables (1%), legumes (0.1%) and milk (0.02%).

US: The Ugly Company enhances its upcycling capability, advances mission with the opening of its new Farmersville fruit processing plant
The Ugly Company, a farmer-led producer of upcycled dried fruit snacks, announced the opening of its new fruit processing plant in Farmersville, California. The facility represents a significant milestone in the company's mission of providing nutritious snacks sourced from funny-looking but perfectly edible fruit that would otherwise be thrown out.

US: Mercato enables SNAP recipients to shop online
Mercato, an e-commerce platform for independent grocers, is now enabling customers to pay for groceries using their SNAP benefits. The company, which has been testing the payment option through partnerships with stores in New York City and Pittsburgh, is currently rolling out the program nationwide.

Subway plans to open nearly 4,000 stores in China in one of its biggest deals ever
Subway is planning to add thousands of new sandwich shops in China, increasing its footprint in the country by more than seven times. The world’s biggest sandwich chain announced that it would open almost 4,000 new stores across mainland China over the next 20 years.

China: Can Yonghui’s hot tech CEO turn the supermarket chain around?
Born as a farmers’ market in 2001, Yonghui grew rapidly as the first retail chain to bring fresh agricultural produce into Chinese supermarkets. But ecommerce and COVID changed everything. Can its new CEO, a tech platform veteran, turn it around?

Marking the millionth: Tesco Stronger Starts programme provides 1mln meals to schoolchildren and their families nationwide
Stronger Starts is an innovative community support programme from Tesco that helps to build thriving communities nationwide, with children in 117 DEIS schools across Ireland receiving a pack containing fresh apples, onions, potatoes, and carrots every week. Within the 1mln meals, over 4.5mln pieces of fruit and vegetables have been provided to date!

UK: Shoppers can have their groceries delivered for FREE in a new offer from Asda
From 13th June, Asda is giving customers the chance to have their groceries delivered for free in an exciting new offer. The limited time deal gives customers the chance to trial the retailer’s pocket-friendly Delivery Pass service, removing the delivery charge on online orders and saving customers up to £199 per year (based on one shop per week at a delivery cost of £4.50. Midweek 12 month pass one-off payment of £35 per year).

UK self-driving car dreams could break down at the starting line
Oxford-based AV software firm Oxa (formerly known as Oxbotica) has raised about $225mln from investors and is working on AV projects with customers including BP and British online supermarket and technology group Ocado.

Germany: Metro expands franchise solutions for retail customers
Wholesale giant Metro AG is expanding its franchise solutions to offer more added value for its retail customers. The move aims to elevate the operational quality and efficiency of these outlets. 'LaDoiPasi', Metro's franchise network in Romania, has emerged as the largest in the country, with over 2,000 outlets. In Slovakia, 'Môj obchod' recently celebrated its 750th store opening and is now the second biggest franchise in the country. In Serbia, Metro launched a new franchise brand 'Jutro' in February of this year to further explore the market.

New Zealand: How reusable bags could cost you more at the checkout
The bags you use for fruit and vegetables could soon cost you more at the checkout. Previously, supermarket checkout scales were calibrated to deduct the weight of the store’s single-use plastic produce bags. But those bags are banned with effect from July 1, meaning supermarkets will have to decide how much “bag weight” to allow. A Countdown spokesperson said its scales would have a tare weight - which is the weight of packaging - of 10g to account for the weight of paper bags or the weight of the reusable polyester produce bags sold in-store.

UK: New vegan supermarket opens in Nottingham with hundreds of products
A vegan supermarket has opened to shoppers in Sneinton - and residents believe it is going to 'go down well'. The Lime Green Organic Vegan shop, in Gedling Street, just across from Sneinton Market, stocks hundreds of products including sugar free products and gluten free items. On the shelves, you’ll find crisps, jam, honey, sugar free products, baby products, cleaning products, a fruit and vegetable section, cereals, a frozen foods section and more.

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