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.

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.

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.”

Whole Foods details what’s in store for ‘365’

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Whole Foods Markets on Thursday confirmed a May 25 opening date for its 365 small-store concept in Los Angeles, and detailed features including a self-service tea bar, a vegan fast-casual restaurant, on-line ordering through Instacart and custom created apparel for its workers.

The Austin, Texas-based retailer described 365 as a “quality-meets-value” interpretation of its traditional store with a curated product selection that adheres to the standards of its parent brand “in an environment that’s fun and convenient for shoppers.”

Whole Foods is opening its first 365 store in Los Angeles.

Whole Foods is opening its first 365 store on May 25 in Los Angeles.

The 30,000-square-foot store in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles will host several “Friends of 365” through partnerships with the vegan fast-casual restaurant By Chloe, as well as Allegro Coffee Co. and teaBOT, a new retail platform that provides custom grab-and-go tea in under 30 seconds, the company said.

Friends of 365 is an opportunity for innovative businesses and entrepreneurs that align with the mission and quality standards of Whole Foods Market to establish their own independent retail spaces inside of 365 by Whole Foods Market stores.

Whole Foods has plans for at least 13 365 stores.

Allegro will expand its coffee experience with a craft brew bar, serving customers hot coffee, cold beer and a selection of food items. Toronto-based startup teaBOT will install an efficient self-serve kiosk, allowing customers to personalize tea by mixing up to three of 18 different teas and herbal ingredients. By Chloe will offer guests a diverse menu of plant-based foods, including burgers, salads, market specials, pastas and sweets, that can be enjoyed in the restaurant, taken to-go or to a communal dine-in experience elsewhere in the store, the company said.

“With each store, we’re looking to curate a unique experience. Allegro’s craft brew bar will provide a casual place for Silver Lake residents to relax before or after they shop, while teaBOT’s unique service will offer a quick, yet deeply personalized tea-making experience,” Jeff Turnas, president of 365 by Whole Foods Market, said in a statement. “We’ve really dedicated ourselves to partnering with like-minded companies that are doing new and interesting things in their respective field to bring a truly unique shopping experience that complements our thoughtfully curated selection of foods.”

The company said it will offer online ordering and delivery services through Instacart. It selected sustainable casual goods purveyor Loomstate to custom design team member apparel for its stores. Loomstate was chosen for its contemporary looks, sustainable practices and commitment to organic products, 365 said.

Trader Joe’s widening price gap with Whole Foods: Analyst

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Trader Joe’s appears to be widening its price advantage with rival Whole Foods Market, with indications that the Monrovia, Calif.-based retailer may have have ambushed Whole Foods with a fresh round of across-the-board price investments, an analyst said Tuesday.

Citing recent price checks in the New York market, Karen Short of Deutsche Bank Securities in a report said Trader Joe’s had a total price advantage of 26% over a neighboring Whole Foods Market across a basket of 77 like items — with Trader Joe’s prices cheaper on 60 of the 77 items checked. Prior price checks, Short said, had not indicated such disparity.

Short said the price check may have signaled that Trader Joe’s has proceeded with a round of price investments not unlike it had in 2013, when the retailer reached the 300-store mark and slashed its everyday prices on some 200 items. That event triggered a response from Whole Foods, which historically has priced its goods — particularly its private brands — within reach of of its privately held rival. Short said her research indicated Trader Joe’s would proceed with an additional round of investments when it reached the 500-store plateau — or about where it is now.

“With this in mind, we conducted a price check across all categories to see, if, in fact, a meaningful price gap existed,” the report said. “To our surprise it did, so our concern is that TJ’s might be once again catching WFM off guard because prior checks have not shown such disparity.”

The price study indicated Trader Joe’s prices were 30% cheaper on perishables and 24% cheaper on non-perishables, Short said.

Significantly, Trader Joe’s had an 15% advantage in overall pricing vs. Whole Foods’ 365 private-label goods.

“The wide price delta between TJ’s private label products and WFM’s ‘365’ private brand … was a surprise to us given that the ‘365’ brand strategy has generally been to match TJ’s on price in private label despite the fact that WFM’s private label is meaningfully higher in quality and therefore justifies a premium,” the report said. “In prior price checks, WFM’s private label has matched TJ’s item by item — until this most recent check.”

Supermarkets Top Alternative Formats (Part 1)

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Now more than ever, alternative formats like mass merchandisers, natural food retailers, dollar stores and even drugstores are encroaching on supermarket food sales. The following companies from the 2016 Top 75 list of U.S. and Canadian retailers represent the alternative formats with the most food sales.

1Walmart

1. Wal-Mart Stores

Annual sales: $247.5 billion (estimated, consumables only)

2costco

2. Costco Wholesale Corp.

Annual sales: $69.4 billion (consumables only)

3CVS.jpg

3. CVS Health

Annual sales: $44.4 billion (estimated, consumables only)

4Target.jpg

4. Target Corp.

Annual sales: $34.2 billion (estimated, consumables only)

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5. Walgreen Co.

Annual sales: $28.3 billion (estimated, consumables only)

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6. Meijer, Inc.

Annual sales: $16.9 billion (estimated)

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7. Whole Foods Market

Annual sales: $15.4 billion

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8. Dollar General Corp.

Annual sales: $15.3 billion (estimated, consumables only)

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9. 7-Eleven

Annual sales: $13.3 billion (estimated, consumables only)

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10. Trader Joe’s Co.

Annual sales: $13 billion (estimated)

Whole Foods and Instacart take relationship to new level.

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Whole Foods Market and online delivery service Instacart have big plans to make it easier for consumers nationwide to receive home deliveries from the nation’s leading retailer of natural and organic products.

The two companies will launch in several new markets in the coming year, building on the 17 existing metros where consumers can use Instacart to order deliveries from Whole Foods stores. Interestingly, the companies also said they are looking ahead to create new e-commerce and delivery solutions, with the first pilots launching in 2016. No other details on the development of new technology were provided.

In addition, the strengthened partnership will increase the number of Whole Foods Market stores with embedded Instacart shoppers by up to 50% nationwide by the end of 2016.

The new partnership means Instacart will be Whole Foods Market’s largest partner for online ordering and delivery.

“We’ve seen how much our customers love this fast and convenient way to receive Whole Foods Market groceries right to their door, so we are excited to extend our relationship with Instacart,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. “Working together, we will continue to find even more ways to create outstanding shopping experiences – whether they’re happening in the digital space or within the four walls of our stores.”

Whole Foods has previously reported that Instacart sales comprise a mid-to-high-single-digit percentage of sales in the cities where it currently partners with the delivery provider. These cities include Atlanta; Austin; Boulder; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; New York City; Philadelphia; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; San Jose; Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Whole Foods would presumably obtain tighter control over what is becoming an increasingly large in-store sales driver with this partnership, while Instacart obtains financing and long-term stability with a major client.

It is possible other Instacart retail partners may have issues with a competitor financially benefiting from their online deliveries. Also there could be concerns about Whole Foods having access to competitive information.

However, as with UPS’ recent investment into online delivery provider Deliv, this agreement shows that online delivery is becoming a more established omnichannel retail niche with growing profit potential. Look for other partnerships between online delivery providers and various retail, logistics and technology partners in the months ahead.

“Instacart has always prided itself on being a retailer’s best friend, and our extended partnership with Whole Foods Market is a testament to how brick and mortar retailers can successfully adapt to the growing demand for ecommerce and on-demand delivery services,” said Apoorva Mehta, CEO of Instacart. “Instacart and Whole Foods Market share a mutual commitment to providing our customers with the easiest and most seamless grocery shopping experience possible. We look forward to continuing to innovate with Whole Foods Market in the services that we can bring to users.”

Whole Foods introduces food truck test kitchen at Austin flagship.

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In order to try out new culinary concepts and evaluate collaborations with chefs and supplier partners, Whole Foods Market will open a food truck test kitchen at its flagship store in Austin, Texas.

Developed by the retailer’s recently hired VP of culinary and hospitality, Tien Ho, the initial concept will launch March 10 as Tartinette, which will serve open-faced sandwiches and salads from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Whole Foods said it plans to change the concept, menu and name of the truck every two months.

“This test kitchen is so exciting because we get to include Whole Foods Market customers in the process, using their input to create dishes that could become new favorites across the country,” Ho said in a press release. “Guests visiting the truck can expect the same high-quality, fresh ingredients found in our stores, and a menu that’s completely revamped each season. Changing it up will give us the chance to collaborate with local chefs and suppliers to create eating experiences you won’t find in any other grocery store.”

Whole Foods also plans to donate 2% of sales from the truck to non-profit partners. The first beneficiary will be the Austin Food & Wine Alliance.

2016 Top 75 U.S. & Canadian Food Retailers & Wholesalers.

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    1. Wal-Mart Stores Company News
    2. Kroger Company News
    3. Costco Wholesale Corp. 2016
    4. Albertsons 2016
    5. CVS Health 2016
    6. Target Corp. 2016
    7. Loblaw Cos. 2016
    8. Walgreen Co. 2016
    9. Publix Company News
    10. C&S Wholesale Grocers 2016
    11. Ahold USA Company News
    12. H-E-B 2016
    13. Supervalu Company News
    14. Delhaize America Company News
    15. Meijer Inc. 2016
    16. Sobeys 2016
    17. Wakefern Food Corp. 2016
    18. Whole Foods Market 2016
    19. Dollar General Corp. 2016
    20. 7-Eleven 2016
    21. Trader Joe’s Co. 2016
    22. Aldi USA 2016
    23. Southeastern Grocers 2016
    24. Dollar Tree 2016
    25. Giant Eagle 2016
    26. BJ’s Wholesale Club 2016
    27. Hy-Vee Food Stores 2016
    28. Metro Inc. 2016
    29. Associated Wholesale Grocers 2016
    30. Rite Aid 2016
    31. SpartanNash 2016
    32. United Natural Foods Inc. 2016
    33. Wegmans Food Markets 2016
    34. WinCo Foods 2016
    35. Demoulas Super Markets 2016
    36. Save Mart Supermarkets 2016
    37. Stater Bros. Markets 2016
    38. Unified Grocers 2016
    39. Overwaitea Food Group 2016
    40. Smart & Final 2016
    41. Ingles Markets 2016
    42. Price Chopper Supermarkets 2016
    43. Sprouts Farmers Market 2016
    44. Houchens Industries 2016
    45. Raley’s Supermarkets 2016
    46. Weis Markets 2016
    47. Tops Markets 2016
    48. Schnuck Markets 2016
    49. Key Food Stores Co-operative 2016
    50. Alex Lee Inc. 2016
    51. K-VA-T Food Stores 2016
    52. Bozzuto’s 2016
    53. Amazon.com 2016
    54. Associated Food Stores 2016
    55. Brookshire Grocery Co. 2016
    56. Central Grocers 2016
    57. The Fresh Market 2016
    58. Saker ShopRites 2016
    59. Grocery Outlet 2016
    60. Superior Grocers 2016
    61. Woodman’s Markets 2016
    62. Affiliated Foods Midwest 2016
    63. Big Y Foods 2016
    64. 99 Cents Only 2016
    65. Village Super Market 2016
    66. Affiliated Foods 2016
    67. Bashas’ 2016
    68. Bodega Latina 2016
    69. Coborn’s 2016
    70. Piggly Wiggly Midwest 2016
    71. Brookshire Brothers 2016
    72. Fareway Stores 2016
    73. Inserra Supermarkets 2016
    74. Lowe’s Market 2016
    75. Northgate Gonzalez Market 2016

Top 25 Global Food Retailers 2015.

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    1. Wal-Mart Stores 2015 — Global edition
    2. Costco 2015 — Global edition
    3. Carrefour 2015
    4. Kroger Co. 2015 — Global edition
    5. Tesco 2015
    6. Seven & I 2015
    7. Schwarz Group 2015 (Lidl)
    8. Walgreens Boots Alliance 2015
    9. AEON 2015
    10. Aldi 2015 — Global edition
    11. Target Corp. 2015 — Global edition
    12. Auchan 2015
    13. Metro Group 2015
    14. CVS 2015
    15. Casino Group 2015
    16. Woolworths 2015
    17. Rewe Group 2015
    18. Edeka 2015
    19. Albertsons 2015 — Global edition
    20. Leclerc 2015
    21. Coles Group 2015
    22. Ahold 2015 — Global edition
    23. ITM (Intermarché) 2015
    24. Sainsbury’s 2015
    25. Loblaw 2015 — Global edition