In today’s connected economy, the food and beverage (F&B) businesses that lead the pack are those that are able to break down divisions between the various F&B categories to engage with consumers across their eating and drinking routines. Against this backdrop, Midwestern grocery chain Hy-Vee has shared a new store concept that pushes beyond the bounds of the supermarket. On Wednesday (Aug. 4), the company announced its Wall to Wall Wine and Spirits concept, stores that, as the name implies, are full of wine and spirits, along with some craft beers.
Read more: How Consumers Live In The Connected Economy
A few food items will be available at these stores, but they are offered as a complement to the beverages, rather than the reverse. Chips, crackers, cheeses, and other charcuterie board products will be available, as will a limited selection of nonalcoholic beverages.
“At Hy-Vee, we focus on the evolving lifestyles of our customers,” Randy Edeker, Hy-Vee’s chairman, CEO and president, said in a statement, adding that the concept aims to provide “a customer experience of the highest caliber.”
Upcoming locations in four markets have been announced, one in Iowa and three in Nebraska, though the company has not revealed when these stores are expected to open.
Kroger Partners With Lyft, Shell
Another grocer making moves outside supermarkets’ traditional purview this week is Kroger. The grocery giant announced Thursday (Aug. 5) that its healthcare division, aptly named Kroger Health, is partnering with Lyft to provide discounts on rides to and from vaccine appointments at any of Kroger’s pharmacy chains.
“Our partnership with Lyft creates greater accessibility to the vaccine and helps remove transportation barriers,” Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health, said in a statement. “With the new Delta variant on the rise, it’s more important than ever that we push forward with our goals to achieve herd immunity and improve vaccine equity.”
Meanwhile, the chain is also partnering with gas company Shell to offer customers in parts of Florida — Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville — discounted gas, reported Progressive Grocer Wednesday (Aug. 4). The discount, up to $1 per gallon, is available through the grocer’s loyalty program and is part of its existing Fuel Points program. The partnership involves 280 shell locations, and it will soon expand to other parts of Florida.
VC Backing For Plant-Based Products Expands To New Categories
Another week great week for vegans, with tens of millions in venture capital flooded into developing new plant-based grocery products.
Miyoko’s Creamery, which describes itself as the leading vegan dairy food company, announced that it had raised $52 million in its Series C funding round, which it will use for both distribution and development. While much of the development in plant-based foods is still centered on meat substitutes, Miyoko’s expands the category with butters and cheeses created from plant-based milks.
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Meanwhile, TechCrunch reported, Swiss plant-based meat substitute company Planted raised $21 million in its second funding round, its “pre-B” round, and OffLimits, a vegan cereal company, announced that it had raised $2.3 million in pre-seed and seed funding. Planted creates a wide range of meat substitutes replicating animal products from many different cultural cuisines, and the company is currently working on creating plant-based schnitzel. Meanwhile, OffLimits is working on creating cereals that appeal to the values of a younger audience, while major national brands have remained largely the same for decades.
“There is definitely room to grow and with the Gen Z mindset of questioning legacy brands, we want to support what is new,” OffLimits CEO and Founder Emily Elyse Miller told the publication. “We are one of the few that are all plant-based, which was both a disturbing and surprising fact to find out.”
Southeastern Grocers Foregrounds Private Label With ‘Try It, Love It, Or Your Money Back’
With the private-label category seeing significant sales growth, many grocers have been turning to the category to drive up margins and to differentiate their offerings. Now, Southeastern Grocers, the Jacksonville, Florida-based supermarket group operating over 500 locations across the American south, is incentivizing consumers to try its own-brand products with a “Try it, Love it, or Your Money Back” offer. The money-back guarantee spans over 8,000 products across the company’s SE Grocers, Prestige, Essentials, and Naturally Better brands.
While historically private label brands were written off as lower quality copies of popular brands, the private-label category has been evolving in recent years, growing quicker than name brands. A Coresight Research report found that private label sales were growing 14 percent each year, compared to name brands’ 13 percent growth, and Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA) data show that supermarkets’ private label sales grew $8.5 billion in 2020.
Of the money-back guarantee, Gayle Shields, the supermarket group’s vice president of pharmacy and own brands, said in a statement, “At Southeastern Grocers … we continuously work to improve our offerings to provide the highest quality products at a great price.”