Food industry related businesses are stepping up and reaching out to help their communities during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. In the West, grocers are adjusting hours, associations are working together and technology companies are finding innovative ways to make a difference.
Missoula Fresh Market adjusts hours
The Missoula Fresh Market in Missoula, Montana, is adjusting its hours in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The store will be open for at-risk patrons to shop from 7-8 a.m. daily.
New store hours are 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Pharmacy hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
Trucks are arriving daily at the store.
ReposiTrak’s MarketPlace online sourcing tool now free to retailers
Salt Lake City, Utah-based ReposiTrak Inc., providing solutions for stock replenishment, compliance, sourcing, food safety and risk management for the retail supply chain, is making its online MarketPlace free as an industry service to retailers during the Covid-19 pandemic so they can find new, alternative or backup suppliers to help keep products flowing into stores.
ReposiTrak MarketPlace is an online database of compliance-vetted suppliers with more than 30,000 category participants. Retailers can search by product category to discover new suppliers, see a supplier’s compliance performance with other companies and make direct contact with suppliers that look promising.
MarketPlace is normally reserved for ReposiTrak compliance management solution customers, but the company is now offering free search access to assist food retailers who are confronting shortages in the face of overwhelming consumer demand during the Covid-19 outbreak.
“In these extraordinary times we felt it was necessary to do our part as a company to support the grocery industry and strengthen food retailer supply chains,” said ReposiTrak Chairman and CEO Randy Fields. “Retailers can use MarketPlace to identify additional or alternative suppliers to fill a product need, knowing that they can check the vendor’s compliance behaviors with other retailers and easily contact the supplier directly.”
To learn more about how MarketPlace works and request access, retailers can click here.
The ReposiTrak Platform drives growth and supports supply and demand activities for retailers, manufacturers and their trading partners, consisting of three product families—Compliance and Risk Management, Supply Chain Solutions and MarketPlace Sourcing and B2B Commerce. Delivered via one technology platform, all the applications are mutually reinforcing and work synergistically to create value and positive impact across the entire enterprise.
California restaurants, grocers work to meet food needs
California’s food economy relies on two distinct systems for feeding its nearly 40 million residents—traditional grocery stores and restaurants.
In fact, annual food spending is roughly evenly split between the two industries.
With the Covid-19 pandemic reshaping the daily lives of Americans, the importance restaurants and grocery stores play in nourishing Californians is more evident than ever. Restaurant and grocery store employees are working day and night to provide meals and other necessities of life.
Ensuring both industries remain open and operating is essential to the health and well-being of everyone now under stay-at-home orders.
“Public officials who’ve issued shelter-in-place orders have wisely made an exception for essential activities outside the home, which include the need to pick up groceries or prepared meals,” said Jot Condie, president and CEO of the California Restaurant Association. “The need for at-home meals is greater than ever as parents provide more daily meals to children home from school.”
While restaurants have closed their dining rooms, many remain open for drive-thru, delivery and takeout orders. The grocery industry is working around the clock to move goods through its supply chain and onto store shelves. In addition, grocers are now hiring thousands of additional staff to help with increased demand, many of whom were displaced by the reduction of hours from restaurants.
“California’s food supply is safe and plentiful,” said California Grocers Association President and CEO Ron Fong. “We encourage Californians to shop smart and not overfill their shopping carts. By doing so, we can keep our shelves stocked.”
Safeguarding restaurants and grocery stores and ensuring their continued operation will help to diffuse and ease the anxiety and uncertainty of COVID-19, while providing the food needed to sustain life, the associations say.
AWM Smart Shelf launches Southern California’s first autonomous micromarket
Adroit Worldwide Media Inc. (AWM), a vision technology company powered by artificial intelligence, computer vision and machine learning, opened its autonomous micromarket QuickEats at a luxury apartment community in Santa Ana, California, owned by Greenwood & McKenzie—Nineteen01—at 10 a.m. on March 24.
QuickEats close convenience utilizes AWM’s proprietary shopping solution, AWM Frictionless, and will serve Nineteen01’s tenants 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday. The low contact, cashierless market features products including sodas, water, specialty items like Pressed Juicery juices and coconut water, fresh grab-and-go foods like sandwiches, cheese plates and fruit, and household items ranging from cleaning products to toilet paper to dog food.
“When we planned the launch of QuickEats many months ago, we never could have imagined the circumstances our community now faces, as Orange County practices social distancing due to coronavirus,” said AWM CEO Kevin Howard. “We made the decision to open our doors because QuickEats can provide vital food, drink and personal care items to Nineteen01’s residents in a completely frictionless environment that adheres to the current protocols being requested by OC’s Health Officer.”
AWM Frictionless provides convenience to consumers by allowing them to shop as normal and check out by simply walking out of the store. Customers enter the market through an entry gate using a personalized QR code downloaded from the QuickEats app, available across iOS and Android devices. Cameras placed throughout the store track traffic, and customers are assigned a random, anonymous ID when they begin shopping. Using deep learning algorithms based on product and positioning data, the AWM Frictionless system then detects when customers interact with products and whether to add or subtract those items from their cart.
Upon leaving the store, customers are charged for items they take from the store through their digital wallet and receive a receipt via email or text.
“For the past two years, AWM has been at the forefront of the autonomous retail shopping revolution, and it was only fitting to position our first autonomous store in Orange County, a community we’re proud to call home,” Howard said. “We’re beyond thrilled to offer an efficient, engaging and easy experience for consumers while serving as an end-to-end solution that is low cost and quickly implemented for retailers to help them better understand how their customers are interacting with products in real time.”
Built on top of and integrated with any pre-existing infrastructure or operations model, cashierless shopping is just one part of AWM’s overall implementation for retailers, Howard said. The company also offers Automated Inventory Intelligence (Aii) and anonymous consumer behavior tracking applications that can direct customers to other parts of a store using digital signage, enabling up-to-the-minute advertising and pricing solutions. The AWM solution can be implemented in a wide range of store sizes and formats, from micromarkets to convenience stores to larger-format retailers.