Kroger will soon test one-way aisles in its stores as another way to help with social distancing, protect its shoppers and employees and slow the spread of coronavirus. Kroger, which usually tries new ideas in select markets before rolling them out to all of its 2,757 stores, has not yet announced where the aisle test will take place.
Walmart has opted not to pursue efforts to sell its majority stake in the UK grocer Asda for the time being, instead focusing its full attention on managing the coronavirus pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter. First-round offers from private-equity firms indicate that Asda's valuation is near the $9 billion mark.
H.E. Butt Grocery has joined with several local restaurants in San Antonio to sell fully packaged meals, with the proceeds going back to the restaurants. The grocer is also taking new steps to limit the number of shoppers allowed in its stores at a time to help with social distancing efforts.
General Mills is allowing office employees to work in its manufacturing plants to help meet increased demand, and the food company is also issuing daily bonuses to production employees for at least four weeks. "Our most important objectives are the continued health and safety of our employees and our ongoing ability to serve our consumers around the world. We see it as imperative that we help ensure a steady and reliable food supply for people and pets," said Jeff Harmening, chairman and CEO of General Mills.
Chobani Oat milk has taken the No. 2 spot in sales for the category since its launch at the start of the year, assuming nearly 19% of the market share, according to Nielsen data. Chobani's yogurt brands report record sales due to coronavirus-related staples shopping, and the company is planning a launch of over 40 products for July, said Chobani president Peter McGuinness.
Unilever is producing more food products that come in larger sizes to accommodate consumer demand for well-stocked pantries, said Jostein Solheim, Unilever's executive vice president of foods and refreshment for North America. He added this change may result in temporary shortages of smaller-sized items in certain categories such as condiments.
School nutrition professionals in South Carolina are reporting an uptick in demand for free school meals as schools are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Meantime, officials report the pandemic has affected food availability and are seeking leeway from the federal government for the types of foods eligible for federal reimbursement.
Nestle USA's Beverage Division drives growth by keeping legacy brands relevant with iterations based on emerging trends such as plant-based creamers, said Daniel Jhung, president of the beverages unit. Nestle is also benefiting from meeting consumer demand for indulgent flavors and acquiring innovative startups such as Chameleon Cold-Brew while investing in ready-to-drink functionality -- a category expected to keep growing, Jhung added.
Convenience store managers have to balance increased consumer interest in a variety of categories within their beverages business, according to Joe Brumfield, category manager at Circle K's Texas division. "We must continue to stabilize soft drinks, but the future growth of the category has clearly shifted to water, better-for-you products and energy-based everything," he added.
Chocolate is the top quarantine comfort food, according to Hershey, which is reporting significant sales growth in stores and online of chocolate sweets, baking pieces and syrups. The company is benefiting from increasing inventory last quarter as current production keeps pace with real-time demand, according to a statement.
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