Last updated on May 14th, 2018 at 08:57 am
It was yet another year full of mergers and acquisitions, and that in itself isn’t news to anyone following the grocery industry. What may have raised the eyebrows of readers of The Shelby Report were the specifics. Affiliated Foods Midwest and Associated Wholesale Grocers are now one. Roundy’s sold to Kroger. Supervalu sold Save-A-Lot to a Canadian firm.
Also in 2016, after months and in some cases years of work, many independent retailers got their online shopping game cranked up and rolling. Operators big and small now offer their shoppers the opportunity to skip the carting around and checking out of buying groceries. Some have created outdoor drive-up lanes specifically designed for pickup, and most have hired staff to make the service as customer-friendly as possible.
New formats also sprouted up in the Midwest this year, not the least of which is Niemann Foods’ Harvest Market, which is designed to connect shoppers with the people who produce their food. Its opening is featured beginning on page 18 in this issue. Coborn’s rolled out a “next-generation” format earlier this year with an updated modern industrial design and an emphasis on fresh selections.
Meanwhile, KeHE Distributors took good deeds to the next level with its commitment as a B Corp, and just received an award for it.
Here, The Shelby Report looks back at some of the stories we brought our readers, and offers a few updates as well.
Associated Wholesale Grocers becomes the largest wholesale grocery cooperative in U.S.
Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) is now the largest wholesale grocery cooperative in the U.S., supplying groceries in 35 states to more than 1,000 independent members with more than 3,500 independently owned member stores.
In July, Kansas City, Kansas-based AWG and Affiliated Foods Midwest (AFM) announced that they were combining the two cooperatives’ distribution businesses. On Oct. 23, the first shipments left AWG’s newest divisions in Norfolk, Nebraska, and Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The combination enables AWG to expand its offerings to its retail members with the addition of retail accounting and digital marketing subsidiaries. It also allows AWG to expand its footprint west to service independent grocers in Wyoming and Colorado.
“The expansion of our collective distribution areas into several new adjoining states where there remains a large number of independent grocers but few wholesale options is already paying dividends as retailers in those states are already making inquiries and asking how soon we can onboard new customers,” said AWG President and CEO David Smith. “With the current enthusiasm we are witnessing, our new Great Lakes Division in Kenosha may top $1 billion in annual sales sooner than we initially anticipated.”
Martin Arter, former president and CEO of AFM, now leads the new Northern Region for AWG, overseeing operations for the Nebraska and Great Lakes Division.
“This exciting endeavor is exactly what we need to allow our retailers to compete, grow and be profitable,” Arter said when the merger was announced. “The synergies between our joint cooperatives will help our retailers thrive. Our members benefit with a substantially lower cost of goods. Much credit is due to the vision of both AWG’s and AFM’s board of directors to see the possibilities of what we could become.”
Arter also said that many AFM members have told him, “AWG’s retailers are just like us.”
AFM’s grocery store member-owners cast votes at the group’s annual shareholders meeting in September in Omaha, Nebraska, and approved the deal 410-to-2. The approval was the final condition necessary for the combination of the groups to move forward.
“While we were anticipating tremendous support for the unification by AFM’s members, I was humbled by the virtually unanimous vote in favor and by the enthusiasm and standing ovation the members demonstrated at AFM’s shareholders meeting,” Smith said. “AWG will indeed be stronger together by joining forces with this amazing group of like-minded retailers.”
AFM shareholders also executed agreements to become part of their new co-op and to commence being supplied in October.
The expanded AWG operates nine full-line wholesale divisions. In addition to its cooperative wholesale operations and related services, the company also operates subsidiary companies that provide wholesale supply of health and beauty care, general merchandise, pharmaceutical supplies and specialty, natural, organic and international foods, together with certain real estate and supermarket development services, retail accounting, digital marketing services and military commissary supply.
AWG, which celebrated the 90th anniversary of its March 29, 1926, incorporation this year, now will have annualized consolidated sales of approximately $10 billion.
In August, AWG said it would become a member of Retailer Owned Food Distributors & Associates (ROFDA). The addition of AWG increased the aggregated total of ROFDA to represent more than $24 billion in wholesale revenue with more than 9,000 independent retail grocers and more than $60 billion in retail sales.
Smith will join ROFDA’s board of directors for the first time at the group’s fall conference in San Antonio Nov. 11-13 (after press time). Smith also will address conference attendees during the general session.
Kroger buys Roundy’s, Mariano retires, Lucky’s gets a boost
It was official in December 2015, but the impact of Kroger’s $800 million acquisition of Roundy’s really began to be felt this spring and summer. That’s when seven Copps grocery stores in northeastern Wisconsin were rebranded to the Pick ‘n Save banner. Along with new signage and expanded natural and organic and specialty products, the stores also got environmentally friendly equipment upgrades and lower prices. Copps stores are still in operation in northern Wisconsin and the Madison area.
On Sept. 1, former Roundy’s president and CEO Bob Mariano retired and began a two-year stint as a strategic advisor to Roundy’s and Kroger. Mariano, 66, began his career in the grocery industry in 1967, when he worked as a part-time deli clerk at Dominick’s supermarket in Chicago. He served in various roles of increasing responsibility, including SVP, before being named president and CEO of Dominick’s in 1995. He led the company through an initial public offering in 1996 before Safeway purchased the company in 1998.
Mariano took on leadership of Roundy’s Supermarkets Inc. in 2002. Roundy’s opened the first store under the Mariano’s banner in 2010 in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago. Today there are 34 Mariano’s stores operating in the Chicago area.
“We see a bright future ahead for our Pick ‘n Save and Metro Market stores in Wisconsin and for Mariano’s stores in Chicago. And we look forward to our continued partnership with Bob as a strategic consultant and advisor,” said Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO. “The entire Kroger and Roundy’s family extends our best wishes to Bob and his family in retirement.”
Kroger also invested in Lucky’s Market, announcing a strategic partnership in the Colorado-based chain in April this year. Kroger said the strategic partnership that will further enhance Lucky’s Market’s products, practices and techniques and allow the chain to grow over time also demonstrates its commitment to providing affordable organic and natural foods as part of its “Customer 1st Strategy.”
Lucky’s Market and its affiliates operate 17 stores in 13 states in the Midwest and Southeast and employ more than 1,800 people. Its stores average 30,000 s.f. and resemble indoor farmers markets with “garage door” entrances, field bins, barrels and wooden crates.
Gordy’s Markets swaps stores with Mega Co-Op, switches wholesalers
Gordy’s Markets and Mega! Co-op announced interesting plans in early January. Gordy’s Express convenience stores and fuel centers would become Mega Holidays, and Gordy’s Market would acquire three Mega Co-op grocery stores.
Mega Co-op closed its Mega West store in Eau Claire, and its Barron and Whitehall, Wisconsin, locations Feb. 20, and the transition to the Gordy’s banner began. All three grocery locations reopened as Gordy’s Markets Feb. 26. Mega East in Eau Claire permanently closed as part of the transaction.
Mega Co-op began converting the Gordy’s Express locations to Mega Holidays on March 1. All 14 of Gordy’s Express convenience stores and fuel centers are now Mega Holiday locations.
Gordy’s now operates 24 grocery stores, and Mega Co-op owns and operates 33 convenience stores and fuel centers. Both companies maintained their corporate office locations. Gordy’s and Mega Co-op, combined, employ nearly 2,500 people in western Wisconsin. The companies worked to minimize job losses with the transaction.
While the companies are separate and independent, they plan to collaborate on future new locations and support each other with joint loyalty programs.
Gordy’s, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, moved its wholesale business to SpartanNash. The transition began in February and was completed by May. During the three months, SpartanNash hired 50 new associates for distribution centers in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and Sioux Falls, North Dakota; added 2,600 SKUs, which also expanded specialty, natural and organic and regional brand offerings for other SpartanNash-owned and independent customers’ stores; and set and retagged all Gordy’s Market locations to personalize the national brand and SpartanNash private brand offerings.
Gross takes the helm of Supervalu, no spinoff for Save-A-Lot
A 20-year grocery and wholesaler veteran named Mark Gross officially took on the role as president and CEO of Supervalu on Feb. 5. He succeeded Sam Duncan, who had previously announced his retirement.
Gross worked at C&S Wholesale Grocers from 1997-2006, and served as co-president of C&S’s overall operations from 2005-06. Additionally, during his tenure with C&S, Gross served as CFO, general counsel and president of its affiliated retail grocery operations.
For the decade prior to his appointment at Supervalu, Gross led Surry Investment Advisors, a firm he founded, to provide consulting services to grocery distributors and retailers with respect to strategic and operational matters. In this advisory role, he has assisted grocery clients on several multi-billion dollar acquisitions and divestitures and consulted with private equity firms regarding investments in food retail, distribution and consumer packaged goods sectors.
Gross earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating cum laude, and holds a BA from Dartmouth College.
Duncan stepped down from the company’s board of directors Feb. 29. Gross filled the void on March 1. Gross said at the time that he was looking forward to working with Eric Claus, who had been appointed president of the Save-A-Lot division, in the company’s efforts to spin off the chain.
Supervalu announced in July 2015 that it was exploring a separation of its Save-A-Lot business, and that as part of that process it had begun preparations to allow for a possible spin-off of Save-A-Lot into a stand-alone public company. The company filed an initial “Form 10” registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Jan. 7 in connection with the possible spin-off.
There was no spin-off. Instead Supervalu said in October that it was selling Save-A-Lot for $1.365 billion to Onex Corp., a private equity firm in Canada. The deal is expected to close by the end of January. Supervalu will use the proceeds to pay down debt. It also entered into a professional services agreement with Save-A-Lot that will last for five years. That will continue Claus’ working relationship with Supervalu as it provides services and support functions related to IT, payroll and finance.
Save-A-Lot’s sales were hurt in 2016 as SNAP benefits in 22 states were reduced. Many states shrank or eliminated the benefit for able-bodied adults with no children as the jobless rates fell below certain thresholds. The level of these sales at Save-A-Lot “is meaningfully higher than other retailers,” Claus said during the company’s earnings call in October.
In other Supervalu news, its added Marsh Supermarkets and The Fresh Market as customers this year.
Lipari Foods expands specialty offerings with Leo A. Dick & Sons Co. buy
Warren, Michigan-based food distributor Lipari Foods acquired the specialty and gourmet business of Leo A. Dick & Son Co. of Canton, Ohio, this year. Lipari said the acquisition strengthens its specialty grocery product portfolio, which features natural, organic and gluten-free foods. New vendors and new customers attended the 2016 Lipari Food Show in April, making it the largest in the company’s history.
KeHE Distributors launches Care Trade with companies that do good
During its show in Indianapolis in June, KeHE Distributors launched what it calls its “Care Trade” program. Scott Silverman, VP of growth solutions and own brands, made the announcement with a panel of speakers representing brands that are part of it. Care Trade is Naperville, Illinois-based KeHE’s version of Fair Trade.
“It’s really a manifestation of our KeHE Cares program, in which we’re truly blessed with leadership that wants us to evolve into a world-class giving organization,” Silverman said. “Care Trade is an extension of that calling to give.”
Panelists included Andy Fyfe from the nonprofit B Lab, which certifies companies as a “B Corporation” (B Corp), meaning they meet standards relating to social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. KeHE was the first and largest food distributor in the U.S. to certify as a B Corp, Fyfe said. The designation was celebrated in March at Natural Products Expo West, where KeHE executives and guests signed a “Declaration of Interdependence.”
In October, KeHE Distributors was named a B Corp “2016 Rookie of the Year” at the annual B Corporation Champions Retreat in Philadelphia. KeHE is one of three B Corp “Rookies of the Year” and the only natural and organic, specialty and fresh food distributor to be recognized for its commitment to the global B Corp movement in its first year of certification by B Lab. There are more than 1,900 certified B Corps in 50 countries.
“KeHE is the most interconnected B Corp in our community,” said B Lab co-founder Jay Cohen Gilbert. “Their leadership had the potential to influence the natural foods industry as a whole and to incentivize many brands and retailers to follow their lead and become recognized as a leader by becoming a B Corp.”
According to Fyfe, the process to certify as a B Corp is arduous. B Lab looks holistically at a company’s operations, community involvement, environmental impact, how it treats its own workers and its overall governance, among others aspects. A free assessment, which Fyfe said approximately 40,000 companies are now using, is available online at bimpactassessment.net.
Also this year, KeHE acquired Monterrey Provision Co., a San Diego-based distributor of products for the perimeter departments at retail grocery stores. The acquisition added two distribution centers in San Diego, California, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to KeHE’s existing network of 16 distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada. KeHE did not previously have facilities in those cities.
Many Midwest grocers now give shoppers online options
So many savvy shoppers with all those smart devices and hectic lives pulled many a reluctant independent retailer into offering online shopping with pickup and/or delivery this year.
Hy-Vee’s Aisles Online began in the fall of last year, with the official rollout of the program in April in the Des Moines metro. The service gradually was launched across other markets throughout the summer, and it now is available in all of the West Des Moines, Iowa-based supermarket chain’s 240 stores across its eight-state region.
Through the Hy-Vee Aisles Online website, customers shop for their groceries, pay electronically and choose to pick up their order or have it delivered to their home. Once customers place an order, an Aisles Online personal shopper hand selects the products. The groceries are kept in climate-controlled totes until they are unloaded into the customer’s vehicle or delivered to the customer’s home. Store pickup and home delivery are both free with a $100 order; orders less than $100 have a $2.95 fee for pickup and $4.95 fee for delivery.
Woodman’s Markets also began its online program last fall. After a successful launch in Madison, Woodman’s Markets became the first area grocery chain to offer online ordering and delivery to the entire Milwaukee Metro area. It works with GrocerKey to provide the service.
Within the first seven months of making ShopWoodmans.com available in Madison, Woodman’s served several thousand customers and saw average basket sizes roughly six times the size of in-store purchases.
“The success of ShopWoodmans.com, in my mind, means that we’re doing something right—that this is something our customers want,” said Clint Woodman, president. “Providing online ordering and delivery to the entire metro area allows us to really differentiate from our competitors while providing excellent service to our customers. I’m very excited about ShopWoodmans.com and how it can grow moving forward.”
GrocerKey also helped launch Fox Bros. Online Organic Store (shopfoxbros.com) earlier this year. The site offers more than 12,000 natural and organic items for home delivery. Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly owner Pat Fox said the “doors” on the online grocery opened within a month of signing on with GrocerKey and that shoppers will find additional natural and organic items not available in Fox Bros. stores on the site. It offers free shipping on orders of $35 or more and charges $4.99 for orders less than $35.
Some independent retailers have chosen to let Rosie, an online shopping platform (as well as, some readers will recall, the humanoid robot on “The Jetsons”), get their e-commerce service up and running. Rosie offers everything from integration with other retail partners to a dedicated customer support team.
Elmer’s County Market in Escanaba, Michigan, now is offering grocery shopping on the web through Rosie’s e-commerce suite. Shoppers who frequent the family-owned retailer can purchase groceries online through Elmer’s Express and pick up their grocery orders at Elmer’s seven days a week.
“We’re excited to be the first in our area to offer online grocery shopping,” said Elmer’s County Market GM Rod Stende. “Thanks to Rosie’s top-of-the-line software, vast experience and advanced technical support, Elmer’s Express online grocery shopping will be a customer experience like no other.”
Shoppers in Abilene, Kansas, now can use Country Mart Xpress, West’s Plaza Country Mart’s online shopping platform. West’s Plaza is one of 14 Country Mart locations in Kansas.
“I looked at many different online grocery shopping companies when deciding on the right provider,” said Chris West, store manager, West’s Plaza Country Mart. “I chose Rosie mainly for the service and support that they provide. Rosie made the long, complicated launch process very easy.”
Others retailers are letting delivery service providers do the legwork for them. In October, Instacart expanded it Twin Cities service area to cover another 14 zip codes, adding cities such as Bloomington and Eden Prairie in Minnesota, where customers can order from Cub as well as Costco, Total Wine and Petco.
On Sept. 15, Meijer began a partnership with Shipt for grocery delivery in the greater Detroit area. More than 500 people shop for Shipt at Meijer stores. Three hundred were initially hired, but after the service went live another 200 shoppers were needed to meet demand. They hand pick the items and deliver orders within a preferred one-hour time window.
Meijer customers can sign up for annual or monthly Shipt memberships. Annual memberships are $99 per year and monthly memberships cost $14 per month. Delivery is free for orders over $35; a flat $7 delivery fee is added to any orders under $35. Since most Meijer stores are open 24 hours a day, Shipt deliveries are available at some Meijer locations 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the exception of certain holidays.
Shipt will honor most in-store sales, including buy one, get one free offers, but some of the sale items in the app may differ. Its mPerks loyalty program is not available through the app, but may be in the future.
IGA introduced IGA Groceries Online—or IGA GO as it is branded to shoppers seeking an online ordering platform from their local Hometown Proud IGA store. IGA has named two preferred partners to bring IGA GO to its more than 1,100 IGA-licensed retailers across the U.S.: Digital Foodie and Freshop.
Digital Foodie is providing an IGA program option that includes retailer-branded web service linked to IGA-branded native mobile applications for placing orders and shopping planning, as well as in-store picking and fulfillment tools for pickup and home delivery. IGA and Digital Foodie also established a marketing partnership for digital experiences. Digital Foodie is working with IGA and its retailers to develop marketing offers and training programs.
Freshop’s program option provides digital personalized engagement and online shopping for IGA’s independent retailers. The offering powers mobile, web and app-clickable circulars, full product catalogs, recipes to shopping lists, list building and personalized offers. Freshop also offers integration with loyalty platforms, PCI compliant payments, ADA compliant websites and walkpaths for order fulfillment and support, all for one charge per store.
Sendik’s Food Market signed on with Freshop late last year to offer online shopping. It calls its service Sendik’s Express.
The boogeymen of e-commerce, Amazon.com, has just begun offering its Prime Now service in Chicago and Indianapolis. Prime members can get free home delivery in two hours or in one hour for a $7.99 fee. Prime Now now is available in more than 20 cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Brooklyn, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Portland and San Diego.
Customers can add AmazonFresh for another $14.99 per month to their Prime membership, which costs $99 per year. AmazonFresh offers free same-day or next-day attended or unattended delivery.
AmazonFresh customers also now can get the new Amazon Dash for free with first use. The Amazon Dash is a shopping device that allows customers to shop from anywhere in their home by voice search or barcode scanning. After buying the device for $20, customers receive a $20 credit the first time they use it.
Coupon clipping with no scissors (or effort) required
Minnesota-based Lunds & Byerlys went with omni-commerce solutions provider Unata for its e-commerce and digital customer engagement program, which offers 1-to-1 personalization from homepage to catalogue to search to product recommendations.
Unata’s platform includes order management, content targeting and customer service tools through a management and analytics dashboard. Lunds & Byerlys staff can use up-to-the-minute analytics to target and manage promoted content to customers, as well as manage online orders in real time.
Fareway Stores became the first supermarket chain in the U.S. to go live with Invisipon, a patent-pending digital coupon solution that automatically applies manufacturer coupons in a customer’s personal coupon account to the total at checkout without any effort on the part of the shopper.
When customers sign up for Invisipon, manufacturer coupons are automatically deposited into their accounts based on their unique profile, redemption history and other metrics the coupon issuer may wish to employ. Customers can view the offers available to them via the Invisipon mobile app or website. At checkout, the cashier scans the customer’s unique barcode from the mobile app or keys in the customer’s phone number, and every coupon in the customer’s account that matches a product being purchased instantly is applied to the total. When the Invisipon system sees an item on sale in the store and a manufacturer coupon also exists for that item, the system merges both offers together and alerts the customer of an additional savings opportunity associated with that particular product.
St. Louis-based Schnucks shoppers now have the option to clip and save their grocery store coupons online as well. Schnupons are digital coupons that give customers additional weekly savings and an easier way to redeem them during checkout.
Shoppers can register for Schnupons at schnucks.com to access offers. Once their account is activated, shoppers can digitally clip the paperless coupons that are then stored on their digital wallet. To redeem the coupons, customers provide their phone number at checkout and the savings are automatically deducted from their total bill.
Retailers roll out new formats that highlight their expertise
There certainly is still a place for the brick-and-mortar version of a grocery stores. Whether it’s designed to connect shoppers with food producers like Harvest Market (see page 18) or bring the “next generation” of shopping to its customers like Coborn’s has done in two stores, independent grocers are capitalizing on their own expertise and bringing it to life in their physical stores.
Fareway is happy with how the very first Fareway Meat Market, located in Omaha, Nebraska, has performed since its Memorial Day weekend opening. It features a 56-ft. long meat case and an 800-pound steer standing proud above the sales floor.
Customers have expressed appreciation for the shopping experience and wide variety of offerings, Reynolds Cramer, CEO of Fareway, told The Shelby Report. It just so happened that the Omaha location came together first, but look for other Fareway Meat Market locations to open up in multiple states. They also likely will have an iconic steer inside.
Coborn’s rolled out its first next-generation format on Aug. 17 in Isanti, Minnesota. It features a significant focus on fresh selections and an updated, modern industrial design. The 45,000-s.f. store has an additional upper-level mezzanine and community room and entirely new interior and exterior design concept with boutique-style destinations throughout the store to showcase the fresh departments. One of the more unique stops is the Chop Shoppe, where shoppers can get freshly cut fruit and vegetables. They also can select fruit and vegetables from the Farmers Market produce department, take them to the Chop Shoppe and staffers will chop, slice, dice or julienne them. Shoppers also can customize their assortment of produce for a recipe.
A centerpiece deli area called The Kitchen serves made-to-order entrees that are packaged in-store for pickup and quick at-home preparation. Shoppers also may opt for brick-oven-fired pizza or a soup and full salad bar.
A store in Sartell, Minnesota, was remodeled to give its shoppers the next-generation experience as well. (See more on that store in Region News in this issue.)
On Oct. 6, Niemann Foods Inc. opened Harvest Market, and it is an brick-and-mortar ode to farmers. Located in Champaign, Illinois, the store’s mission is to connect the people who grow and raise food with grocery shoppers. Farm tractors were fired up to mark the store’s opening. Butter is churned on-site in a pasteurization plant. Buttermilk biscuits at the in-store Farmhouse restaurant are made from the butter and its byproduct, buttermilk.
Albertsons, Supervalu and Aldi add to private label lines
Consumers showed no signs of giving up store brands in favor of national brands this year. Albertsons Cos., Supervalu and Aldi all added to their private brand lines this year.
Albertsons Cos. on April 4 launched its new store brand, Signature, across all 2,286 of its stores. Signature is a multi-category brand and includes more than 4,000 items from coffee to juice, soup to cereal, fresh produce to fried chicken, prepared foods to paper towels, among other staples. The products have a 100 percent money-back guarantee. The Signature line is exclusive to Albertsons Cos. and is carried by all of its 18 banners.
Launched in 2008, the Culinary Circle brand of “restaurant-inspired” food from Supervalu grew this year to more than 200 items in categories across the grocery store. New items include maple syrup in blueberry, strawberry and raspberry flavors; condiments, such as Wasabi Mustard and Kosher Dill Pickles; specialty cheeses and deli meats; salsas, including Peach Pineapple with Chipotle, as well as Mango Lime; grab-and-go sandwiches, soups, salads and sides; and new pizza flavors, including Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon, Chicken Marsala, Chicken Sriracha and Pepperoni with Ranch.
Culinary Circle products are available at Supervalu retail banners, including Cub Foods, Shop ‘n Save and Hornbacher’s, as well as independent local grocery retailers nationwide.
In August, Aldi launched a new line of baby products called Little Journey. It features baby changing and feeding essentials, including organic puree pouches in a dozen varieties.
Several retailers announced their commitment to offer eggs from chickens that are not raised in cages. Kroger said it would complete its switch to selling 100 percent cage-free eggs by 2025. Supervalu, Meijer and Trader Joe’s all announced the same target year.
Then there’s Hy-Vee, which decided to shoot straight with its shoppers. In May, the West Des Moines, Iowa-based chain released a statement on the cage-free egg shaming that took place on social media and elsewhere:
“As a company with roots deeply planted in the Midwest, we constantly have our finger on the pulse of the issues facing agriculture and consumers in this country…Unfortunately, several organizations and activists have used mainstream media and social media to put pressure on many national and regional retailers to offer only cage-free eggs to their customers, therefore forcing the egg industry to change the way it does business.
“We are a company that has always put our customers’ best interests first. We are also located in states that are home to some of the largest egg producers in the United States. Before we act, we always think through how our decisions will impact our customers.”
The chain said in the statement that customer choice and animal welfare both are important to Hy-Vee, but it “will not make irrational decisions.”
With all that said, it is likely that Hy-Vee will offer cage-free eggs sooner than any other wholesaler or retailer. It wants to have a solution in place by the end of 2022.
*Editor’s note: The regional Year in Reviews appear in the December print editions of The Shelby Report. Go here for a look ahead at 2017.