Dos emprendedores españoles quieren lanzar el primer jamón ibérico de bellota Made in Texas.

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Sergio Marsal y Manuel Murga se encuentran en un matadero en Columbus, Texas, explicando sus planes para transformar los cerdos españoles que están criando en un rancho cercano en jamón ibérico de bellota. “En lugar de importarlo, lo hacemos aquí. Igual que los europeos que plantaron viñas en California”, explica Marsal.

Acornseekers, la compañía que fundaron hace tres años en Flatonia, Texas, es la primera que se ha lanzado a criar cerdos ibéricos en EEUU para su comercialización. De momento, alrededor de 50 restaurantes de lujo de todo el país han comprado carne de los cerdos de Acornseekers, quienes empezaron a venderla en pequeñas cantidades el pasado mes de abril. “Estamos diciendo que no a clientes que quieren grandes cantidades”, puntualiza Murga.

Llevar los icónicos cerdos ibéricos a EEUU ha sido una aventura burocrática para Marsal, un antiguo ejecutivo de marketing de Barcelona, y Murga, un ingeniero agrícola que creció entre estos animales en las afueras de Sevilla. Ambos convencieron a las autoridades españolas para que les dejara sacar cerdos de España y luego tuvieron que seguir todas las normas de EEUU en cuanto a la importación porcina. En 2014 finalmente consiguieron llevar 150 ejemplares a Nueva York, donde permanecieron un mes en cuarentena para después ser enviados al rancho de la empresa.

La elección de Texas no es casual: está lleno de robles, y las bellotas (acorn en inglés, de ahí el nombre de su empresa) son la clave el sabor único de los cerdos ibéricos. Junto a los fundadores, otros cinco españoles han invertido más de 3 millones de dólares de su propio dinero para establecer la compañía.

De momento, han registrado el nombre de Ibericus para demostrar la pureza de la raza. “No nos dirigimos al público en general. Nuestro objetivo es la élite”, explica Manel Echevarría, ejecutivo de Swarovski y uno de los inversores en la empresa.

Un mercado de 200 millones de dólares

La carne de cerdo ibérico, ya sea fresca o curada, está siendo cada vez más demandada entre los grandes cocineros estadounidenses, que valoran su sabor y su textura, muy diferente del tradicional porcino criado en granjas-factoría. El consumo de jamón en EEUU está en máximos históricos, según el ICEX, quien estima que el valor conjunto del mercado en EEUU rondó los 200 millones de dólares.

Acornseekers tiene en la actualidad alrededor de 2.000 ejemplares ibéricos, 250 de los cuales fueron al matadero este mes, y esperan tener un total de 5.000 cerdos el año que viene. Además de vender la carne y el jamón, la empresa también provee de cerdos a granjeros locales, quienes se encargan de criarlos por sus propios medios y dan parte de sus beneficios a Acornseekers.

José Manuel Montoya, profesor de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, asegura que apostar por EEUU es inteligente. En España, la población de robles está disminuyendo y no se están replantando, lo que amenaza la producción de ibérico.

Ahora mismo, el mayor reto para Acornseekers es construir un secadero. De momento han elegido una nave industrial en Columbus y van a lanzar una campaña de crowdfunding en junio para conseguir 2 millones de dólares. El objetivo es tener completo el proyecto para finales de año y comenzar a vender el primer jamón ibérico de bellota Made in Texas en 2018.

@Abastomedia: Supermercados, cómo obtener nuestra propia identidad, Julio Ibáñez.

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Luchar contra Walmart o contra el líder absoluto a nivel Nacional no es nuestra batalla. La verdadera batalla es atraer la atención de nuestros propios clientes. No debemos equivocarnos de adversario. Un cliente satisfecho es lo único que puede asegurar la supervivencia de nuestra Compañía.

Algunas cadenas de Supermercados y Retail en general tienen graves problemas de identidad. Piensan que hay que luchar contra las prácticas de Walmart o alinearse con sus estrategias, y realmente, cuando aplican esas operativas de “copy-paste” lo tienen todo perdido. No pueden luchar de frente con un competidor que mantiene unos costes de procesos espectacularmente inferiores a los nuestros, seamos realistas.

Como retailers, nuestro objetivo es atender la demanda de productos o servicios que nos solicitan los clientes al menor coste posible. No se tratará pues de inventar y crear nuevas necesidades de consumo, que para eso están otros, sino de poner a su disposición lo que demandan. Así que más que trabajar en luchar contra Walmart, lo que debemos hacer es analizar con detalle qué necesitan nuestros clientes y ponerlo a su disposición.

Por regla general, las cadenas de Supermercados líderes a nivel Nacional son las que mejor saben escuchar a sus clientes reales y potenciales. También es cierto que a muchos de sus clientes  no les convencen ni agradan sus políticas comerciales, pero es innegable que cuando se obtienen cuotas de mercado considerablemente elevadas en nuestras propias zonas de influencia, esto no está al alcance de cualquier Compañía, y ellos lo consiguen fácilmente.

Hay pocas cadenas que saben escuchar bien lo que le dicen sus clientes. Ya no basta con escuchar y tramitar por un conducto adecuado las sugerencias que dejaron al vendedor o a nuestros managers de tienda, sino que hay que adentrarse en el análisis de toda la información que nos dejan de rastro en su relación comercial con nuestra Compañía desde cualquier canal (online o físico). Segmentar este enorme volumen de datos, categorizar y establecer patrones de consumo, no está al alcance de todas las cadenas de Retail.

El futuro como retailers está en nuestras propias manos, en saber escuchar cada vez más detalladamente las demandas de nuestros clientes y ponerlas a su alcance. Quienes no se unan al hábito de escuchar con atención se quedarán fuera del mercado. Y para ello, deberemos adoptar estrategias de CRM (customer relationship management), trabajar en marketing relacional y acostumbrarnos a analizar muchos datos (Big Data). Los Departamentos de Marketing y Análisis de Datos de las cadenas de Retail, cobran cada día más presencia, ya no se trata solamente de preparar los “shoppers” negociados desde el área de compras para captar la atención de nuestros clientes.

Atender a nuestros clientes, desde cualquiera que sea el canal que utilicen para relacionarse con nuestras tiendas, con un hilo de comunicación continuo requiere de buenos sistemas de captación y análisis de datos, y para ello deberemos pilotar y gestionar el cambio cultural que  asegurará nuestra supervivencia en el mercado.

Para aumentar nuestros márgenes por operación así como también el número de clientes y prolongar su lealtad hacia nosotros,  no nos quedará más remedio que adentrarnos en la gestión de las relaciones con el mismo Customer Relationship Management (CRM). No consideremos el CRM sólo como un software de gestión, ya que supone mucho más, será un cambio cultural y estratégico en la gestión de la relación con nuestros clientes.

Julio Ibáñez

julio@julioibanez.net

Publix opens in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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More to come

Earlier this month, Publix Super Markets opened a 53,000-square-foot store in Winston-Salem, N.C., its first in the city.

“We are excited to begin serving customers in Winston-Salem and providing premier service, quality products and value — including a large selection of buy-one get-one free deals weekly,” Kim Reynolds, media and community relations manager for the retailer’s Charlotte, N.C., division, said in a press release. “Additionally, we are looking forward to being an active and present partner in the community.”

The Lakeland, Fla.-based retailer currently has 18 stores in its Charlotte, N.C., division with another 20 slated to open in 2016, 2017 and beyond, according to its website.

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Whole Foods opens ‘streamlined’ 365 store.

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Whole Foods Market unveiled its new 365 concept today at a store in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles — the company’s effort “to streamline the shopping process with a blend of innovation and convenience,” it said.

“We’ve built a foundation on the quality standards you’ve come to expect from Whole Foods Market in a fun, new format that’s easy to navigate and focused on value in every department,” Jeff Turnas, president of 365 by Whole Foods Market, said.

The 28,000-square-foot store is located in a former Ralphs location in Silver Lake, an area a few miles west of downtown Los Angeles with a youth-oriented, culturally diverse population.

According to Whole Foods, part of the store’s streamlined approach involves using all digital price tags, with limited printed signs.

In place of the labor-intensive service departments at conventional Whole Foods stores, the 365 in Silver Lake offers a large selection of grab-and-go prepared foods, with a heavy focus on vegan options; eclectic offerings like bibimbap, a Korean rice dish, schichimi togorash, an Asian-inspired spiced brussels sprouts dish, and chicken verde enchiladas; and soups like West African peanut and Tankatsu chicken and vegetable.

The store’s 5,000-square-foot “veg” section includes a curated assortment of fresh produce, with an area for chilled items, called “veg valley,” with many items sold by the piece rather than by the pound and with customers asked to weigh the merchandise themselves and apply stickers.

The store also features floral items at two price points — $5 and $10, the company said.

The “meat & sea” section offers approximately 30 ready-to-cook pre-packed chicken, meat, pork, seafood and marinated items, while the “total pantry” has everyday grocery items, including a bulk foods section and 124 feet of frozen foods.365 also carries a curated collection of more than 400 wines, with most items priced at or below $20; a smartphone app that allows customers to scan wine labels for instant descriptions and ratings; and 32 feet of chilled beer.

Across the front of the store is an area for “friends of 365,” featuring a craft brew bar from Allegro Coffee that offers cold brew coffee, wine, beers on tap, loose-leaf tea blends and a selection of pastries and savory items, with an indoor/outdoor dining area with 65 seats; plus teaBOT, a self-serve kiosk allowing customers to create personalized blends of teas and herbal ingredients.

After Memorial Day the vegan restaurant By Chloe is scheduled to open with 38 seats and a communal dining counter.

The store’s décor includes walls accented with blues, red and yellows to denote “an energetic, fresh vibe that complements the light shades of green and blue in the brand’s logo,” the company pointed out.

Each 365 will have a signature piece of art that reflects the community, the company added. At the Sliver Lake store it’s a painting with the words, “Silver Kale” (a play on Silver Lake), which Whole Foods said “serves to inspire team members.”

Coinciding with the opening of 365 is the launch of My 365 Rewards, a digital loyalty program; “Gimme 10 Deals,” which offer 10% off products featured on end caps, and digital “Punch Buddy Cards” that offer buy-10/get-one-free on select items.

The store also features “flash finds” — new products, seasonal items or unique offerings available for a limited time.

Study: Customer experience improves across channels during holidays.

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In what could be termed a gift for customers, major retailers generally improved how they engaged and served consumers in different channels during the 2015 holiday season.

According to the new “Omnichannel Retail Index – Holiday Findings,” from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and consulting firm FitForCommerce, the availability of several specific online and seamless customer service offerings improved between summer and holiday season 2015. For example, 19% of 120 online and omnichannel retailers studied provided the ability to refine search results on a category landing page, up from 13%.

While adoption remained relatively low, retailers continued to focus efforts on in-store pickup of online purchases during the holidays, up to 28% from 23%. And the percentage of retailers allowing online lookup of store availability rose to 44% from 42%.

Mobile holiday performance also generally improved. Eighty-six percent of retailers provided a shared cart for mobile and desktop purchases, up from 84%. The percentage of retailers offering mobile-optimized email rose much more sharply to 77% from 55%.

However, the number of retailers offering live chat on product detail pages fell to 27% from 35%, possibly due to the challenge of catering to large numbers of online holiday shoppers. Other omnichannel capabilities that decreased during the holidays compared to the summer included free return shipping (44% from 49%) and interactive in-store displays and kiosks (39% from 51%).

Other notable findings include:

· The percentage of retailers offering loyalty programs rose to 52% from 40%.

· The number of retailers allowing in-store returns of online purchases increased to 68% from 57%.

· Eighty-nine percent of retailers cross-sold or recommended items on product detail pages, up from 72%.

· Customers could create an e-wallet at 73% of retailers, compared to 66% in the summer.

· Associates offered to look for out-of-stock items online or in another store at 69% of retailers, up from 39%.

In December 2015, FitForCommerce conducted the Omnichannel Retail Index Holiday Study to assess how major U.S. retailers are performing online, in stores and on mobile devices. Omnichannel experts mystery shopped and evaluated 120 well-known retailers across 20 verticals, of which 100 have bricks-and-mortar locations.

Whole Foods plans stronger marketing effort.

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Whole Foods expects to announce a broad-based marketing strategy later this year, Walter Robb, co-CEO, told investors Wednesday.

With increased promotions and deeper price investments in select categories already underway, Whole Foods plans to broaden its marketing program to extend awareness of its pricing effort, Robb said.

“We’ve got something up our sleeves but nothing to announce yet. We want to get some pieces in place, and then we will launch a more broad-based marketing strategy — something we’ll talk about in the fourth quarter.”

Price investments have resulted in increased frequency and basket size among core customers, Robb noted. However, there’s been some erosion among more occasional shoppers who come in at different frequencies and for different amounts, he said, “though a comeback will happen.”

As part of its marketing effort, Whole Foods plans to expand its affinity program — already in place in Philadelphia — to Dallas during the summer, after which it will roll the personalized rewards program out nationally “now that we’ll have actionable customer data on a national scale,” John Mackey, co-CEO, said.

He said he is optimistic the first three 365 by Whole Foods Market locations the company will open over the next five months will be accretive to earnings, ”but we’ve got to get them up to speed.”

The company expects to have a clearer idea of results by November, Mackey explained. “We ‘re expecting them to have very good returns on invested capital and to be very profitable for us. But we have to open them up and see actual results,” he noted.

HEB, The Market Basket y Park Slope Food buscan proveedores en Valencia.

METRO New H.E.B. Plus opens in Bulverde on February 11, 2011. Tom Reel/Staff

Las cadenas de establecimientos gourmet de origen norteamericano The Market Basket y Park Slope Food Corp. conocerán productos de proveedores de la Comunitat Valenciana en el marco de la próxima edición de la feria Alimentaria. Ivace Internacional ha organizado tres «misiones inversas» en las que firmas de EE. UU participarán en diversas reuniones con empresas de la C. Valenciana. Los representantes estadounidenses están interesados en productos de todo tipo, «preferiblemente productos naturales, orgánicos, no modificados genéticamente» y su cartera de intereses ocupa un gran abanico de productos: Jamón y embutidos, quesos, salazones, conservas, frutos secos , aceite de oliva o dulces son algunos de ellos.

Así, mantendrán una agenda de reuniones con empresas de la C. Valenciana los próximos 25 y 26 de abril en Barcelona y el 27 en Valencia. Está previsto que seleccionen productos de un total de 27 empresas valencianas. Además, el día 27 visita Valencia una delegación de FIAB acompañada de representantes de la cadena americana HEB. El objetivo de la iniciativa es ofrecer al grupo «una visión cercana del turismo, gastronomía e industria alimentaria de nuestra región», según comentaron desde Ivace Internacional.

Compradores australianos

 A su vez, durante Alimentaria también se ha organizado una misión inversa de compradores australianos. Los importadores representan a las empresas Waimea Trading y Nomad Foods.

BJ’s launches ‘pick up and pay’ program

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BJ’s Wholesale Club said Wednesday it is launching a “pick up and pay” online shopping option at all of its 231 locations.

“We are offering our members total freedom of choice regarding how they shop at BJ’s,” Bari Harlam, EVP, marketing and membership, for the Westborough, Mass.-based company, said. “This new service combines the at-home convenience of online shopping, including guaranteed product availability and our affordable pricing, without the wait for shipping and delivery.”

To use the system, members can sign onto the company’s website and select items, which are then hand-picked by BJ’s employees and placed in a cart at the member services desk; members are notified by email when the order is ready, after which they can pick up and pay for their order. Orders placed before 1 p.m. will be available the same day, the company said.

The service will also be available to non-members, who can sign up for a free 90-day membership or accept a $40 membership offer through July 3, the company said.

CVS y Más… the new Hispanic pharmacy format.

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The retailer first debuted the concept, designed to provide enhanced, personalized service to the local Hispanic community, in June 2015, in Miami, opening 12 stores. Nine  stores in the greater Los Angeles market will have the new format.
“Bringing CVS Pharmacy y más to Los Angeles was a natural next step as part of our goal to better meet the unique needs of our local Hispanic customers,” said Hank Casillas, Area Vice President of CVS Pharmacy. “CVS Pharmacy y más stores are designed to become a one-stop shop for local Hispanic residents to conveniently receive best-in-class pharmacy services, as well as customized products and services, in an environment that feels like home.”
CVS pharmacy y más includes fully bilingual associates and signage throughout the store. Other unique features include:
  • Expanded Services: Bill payments, domestic and international wireless recharge, money transfers, and lottery.
  • New Products: More than 1,500 new products throughout the store, including many of the most popular Hispanic brands in categories like groceries, over-the-counter medications, household cleaners, snacks, appliances, cookware, cosmetics, baby, and hair care.
  • Enhanced Value: New lower Prices on hundreds of products throughout the store and more value-sized products. Competitive pricing and more value-size packs on hundreds of products.
CVS pharmacy y más stores in Los Angeles  will open through August and include South El Monte, Bell, Walnut Park, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, South Gate, Pico Rivera, Lynwood and Norwalk.

Whole Foods shows bees’ impact on bakery.

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As part of Whole Foods Market’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators, the retailer removed bakery items that rely on pollinators from a store in Fremont, Calif.

According to Whole Foods, 97% of items in the bakery would disappear or be significantly altered if there were no pollinators. Pollinators are necessary to grow products like chocolate, coffee, almonds, berries, carrots and vanilla, as well as the alfalfa dairy farmers feed to cows.

Since 2012, Whole Foods and its suppliers have donated more than $547,000 to the Xerces Society, a nonprofit that promotes conservation of pollinators.

Whole Foods, based in Austin, Texas, also encouraged shoppers to purchase pollinator-friendly products such as those from Cascadian Farms, Blue Diamond or the retailer’s private label 365 Everyday Value.

“This campaign is all about inspiring people to take small steps that make a big difference for these small heroes of our food supply,” Lee Kane, mission and culture coach for Whole Foods Market, said in a press release. “Even simple strategies like shopping organic or planting native wildflowers can tip the balance back in favor of our pollinators.”