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Retail & eCommerce Directors’ Forum to be held in person

Retail & eCommerce Directors’ Forum to be held in person © Richmond Events

© Richmond Events


The Retail & eCommerce Directors’ Forum will be one of the first industry events to take place as a ‘live’ event. Held on 22nd June at The Belfry Hotel, professionals from retail are invited to join either in person or virtually. 

Peter Cowgill, executive chairman, JD Sports will be delivering a ‘live’ keynote address plus you will hear from GSK, Asda, Card Factory, Welcome Break, The High Street Task Force, TATA, Forever Unique and Walgreens Boots Alliance amongst many others within the live workshop programme.

There is no cost to attend for retail or eCommerce directors, but places are now very limited.

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Fresh produce sales slip in US

Fresh produce sales slip in US
Photo: Walmart US

US fresh produce sales in March 2021 were down on the levels registered in the same month in 2020, but still ahead of the 2019 level. Bucking the trend were berries, which recorded sales increases of 28% compared to 2019 and 9% compared to 2020, according to a joint report published by 210 Analytics, PMA and IRI. Total produce sales for the four weeks ending March 28 fell 7.6% year-on-year. However, in comparison to 2019, fresh produce sales at retail were up 11%. 

Fresh produce sales remained unchanged from February 2021 at $5.4 billion , a $435million year-on-year fall, but were up $524 million from the 2019 pre-pandemic level. This includes a $242million increase in fruit and a $283 million increase in vegetables.

Joe Watson, vice president of membership and engagement for the Produce Marketing Association said: “We knew the year-over-year picture would radically change come March in going up against the early pandemic spikes of 2020. But while the year-ago picture is always important, it is just as important to understand current demand relative to the pre-pandemic normal as the country is starting to open up a little more each day.”

Prices for fresh fruit and vegetables were 8-9% higher compared to March 2020 levels.

TAGS: US, retail, produce, March 2021

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Senior Asda staff seeking exit

enior Asda staff seeking exit
Photo: Asda

Reports have emerged of a mass exodus by Asda senior staff, after headhunters claimed they had been contacted by several executives of the UK retailer, according to The Times. Some Asda executives are said to be leaving as they can no longer participate in the share scheme of Asda’s previous owner Walmart. Asda has restructured its staff bonus opportunities to mitigate the loss of the Walmart share scheme. 

Staff can receive between 100 per cent and 200 per cent of their salary in cash bonuses, depending on their seniority. Asda chief executive Roger Burnley said that he had made the “personal” decision to leave following speculations that the new owners had been looking for his replacement since Christmas. Asda recently recruited Sam Dickson from Waitrose as a new vice-president and Carl Dawson from Marks & Spencer as chief information officer.


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Growth of online grocery sales slows in UK

Growth of online grocery sales slows in UK
Photo: Kantar

UK grocery sales were up by 7.4% in the first 12 weeks of 2021, down 3% compared with the same period in 2020, according to Kantar data. The reduction in the growth rate coincides with the anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown, which drove a surge in grocery sales. There are also signs that shoppers are returning to physical stores, as growth in online sales was also down. Online sales were 89% higher than this time last year, but the channel’s market share fell back to 14.5% from the record 15.4% recorded in February 2021.

Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight Fraser McKevitt said: “Spring’s arrival signals the start of a really interesting period for the grocery market. The anniversary of the first national lockdown means we begin to compare grocery sales against the record-breaking levels seen in the early days of the pandemic and growth has perhaps not surprisingly dipped over the past four weeks as a result. This time last year, Brits were adjusting to schools and offices closing and making extra trips to the supermarket to fill their cupboards for lockdown. To put that into context, shoppers made 117 million fewer trips to the supermarket this month compared with those fraught weeks in March 2020.”

However, grocery spending remains considerably higher than pre-pandemic levels, and the Easter period may prompt a revival. 

“Warmer temperatures and lighter evenings mean many of us are planning outdoor get-togethers over the long weekend – 61% of people are looking forward to socialising with friends again and 23% of households are planning to dust off the barbecue if the weather is kind to us. There are signs of people making a special, even symbolic, effort this year and grandparents might be showing up with additional treats after 12 months of restrictions,” said McKevitt.

Tesco increased its revenue by 8.5% and captured 27.1% of the market, up by 0.3 percentage points compared with the same period last year.


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Zespri launches SunGold marketing drive in North America

Zespri launches SunGold marketing drive in North America
Photo: Zespri

Zespri has commenced its 2021 SunGold kiwifruit marketing campaign in North America, with the first fruit to arrive in mid-May. According to Zespri, SunGold is now the top-growing kiwifruit and retailers can drive sales by making it easier to find. Shoppers are better able to locate SunGold in the produce section with its newly designed vertical packaging, which is stackable and easier to merchandise.

Shopper marketing manager Sarah Deaton said: “Zespri is the world leader in premium kiwifruit and our kiwi is outpacing total fruit growth by eight points. With Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit we achieved 47% sales growth through 2020 and there is continued high consumer demand making it a basket value driver. Our market development managers are available to help retailers develop in-store promotions created specifically for their shoppers to increase sales.”

To build on the success of its popular SunGold Kiwifruit variety, Zespri is introducing “Taste It To Believe It,” a 360º marketing campaign highlighting the unexpected flavour experience consumers have when they try a SunGold kiwifruit for the first time.

Consumers will be enticed to try Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit through various touchpoints during Zespri’s consumer sampling programme across the US. The digital component will include social, email, online video and display advertising in addition to driving trial with Free Standing Inserts, direct mail, Ibotta and campaign and event activations. The consumer campaign will carry through Zespri’s updated creative on the in-store display showing the yellow, juicy texture of SunGold kiwifruit and “Tastes Like Wow” graphics along with nutritional information.

“The bold graphic on the packaging sleeve and display captures the burst of flavour consumers get when they bite into Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit,” said Deaton. 

Retailers are encouraged to build large, eye-catching displays in and out of the produce section to drive incremental sales. As an example, one retailer featured Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit for a month, which included a TPR and three display bins at the front of the store.


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US organic sales rise 9.3%

Supermarket shelves
Photo: Organic fresh F&V in US store by Eurofresh Distribution

Sales of organic fresh fruit and vegetables in the US climbed 9.3% Y-O-Y in the first 3 months of 2021, reaching $2.2 billion, according to Organic Produce Network data. Retail sales grew in all organic segments due to restaurant closures and outpaced conventional produce sales, which rose by only 2.9%. In volume terms, sales of organic fresh produce grew by 5.7%, while sales of conventional produce slipped 0.6%.

Of the top 10 categories, only organic carrots and apples dropped in value and volume during the first quarter. Packaged salads remain the largest organic segment, accounting for 17% of all organic sales. Sales of organic packaged salads grew by 9.5% in value during the first quarter of 2021. Another key category is organic berries, which accounted for around 15% of total organic produce sales during the first quarter. Sales of berries increased by 8.8% during the first 3 months of 2021.

Matt Seeley, CEO of Organic Produce Network, said: “Once again, sales of organic fresh produce continue to be a major growth opportunity for retailers across the country. At the same time, as the country enters a post-COVID environment, with restaurants reopening and other foodservice options available, it appears the double-digit growth rate will be slowing.” 


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Tesco profits take a tumble

Tesco profits take a tumble
Photo: Tesco

Tesco has announced a fall in pre-tax profits of nearly 20% in the past year to £825 million, due to costs rising by almost £900 million due to the pandemic, reports Retail Gazette. The major increase in sales during the past 12 months was not enough to offset the spiralling extra overheads. Tesco hired almost 50,000 temporary workers during the pandemic, about 20,000 of whom have joined the retailer permanently.

Tesco said group sales excluding fuel increased by 7% to £53.4 billion for the year to February, driven by soaring online sales. In its core UK and Ireland market, Tesco’s full-year sales were up 8.6% to £48.8 billion. Online sales jumped by 77% to £6.3 billion in the UK.

Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy said: “Tesco has shown incredible strength and agility throughout the pandemic. By putting our customers and colleagues first, we have built a stronger business.”


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Carrefour promotes Alba Group cherries and food transition

Carrefour promotes Alba Group cherries and food transition
Photo: Carrefour will sell more than 500,000 kilos of cherries and picotas – Revista Mercados

Carrefour has met Alba Group executives to promote cherry sales, reports Revista Mercados. The French retailer plans to sell 500 tons of Jerte cherries and picotas during 2021 as proof of its commitment to Extremadura’s product. A visit to the facilities of the Alba Group (a social economy company in Extremadura, Spain), where these cherries and picotas are grown. The meeting was attended by Alexandre de Palmas, executive director of Carrefour Spain; Jorge Ybarra Loring, director of Carrefour merchandise and Eric Caruelle, director of Socomo. Representing of Grupo Alba were Alberto Serrano, commercial director, and Ángel Vicente, financial director.

The agreement is part of Carrefour’s commitment to local producers and its objective of leading the food transition for all. Carrefour distributes cherries and picotas to its more than 1,200 establishments in Spain and exports these fruits from the Jerte Valley to countries such as Italy, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.


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South Korea retail reshapes in response to demand for convenience stores

Vegetables for sale at CU convenience store_photo BGF Retail
Photo: vegetables for sale at CU convenience store by BGF Retail

South Korea’s convenience stores have introduced new product lines and discounted prices to combat the perception of a lower-quality offering compared to larger stores, according to a report by the Korea Times. During the pandemic, consumers have increasingly turned to online shopping and nearby convenience stores rather than larger supermarkets. 

In response to this trend, BGF Retail and GS Retail have launched promotions for vegetables at CU and GS Fresh Mall, respectively. CU is BGF Retail’s convenience store brand and GS Fresh Mall is GS Retail’s online grocery store. BGF Retail had also streamlined its distribution process and worked directly with growers in order to cut prices. 

A BGF Retail official, speaking to the Korea Times, said: “Convenience stores have been offering various types of vegetables at reasonable prices and doing so has increased sales significantly. We will continue to provide convenience to our customers by introducing a greater variety of products according to their needs.” 


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Private label awards announced

Private label awards announced
Photo: European Supermarket Magazine

The winners of the 2021 European Private Label Awards have been announced, with retailers from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Portugal and the Baltic region taking the top honours across 14 award categories. The Awards, which are organised by ESM: European Supermarket Magazine, celebrate excellence in store brand innovation, and are open to both retailers and suppliers operating in the European grocery industry.

Among this year’s winners, Germany’s REWE Group (in the Beverages – Non-Alcoholic and Convenience Foods/Food to Go categories), Rimi Baltic (Ambient Grocery and Free-From Foods) and Italian retailer Conad (Confectionery & Snacking and Meat & Seafood) each won two categories.

There were also solo category wins for SPAR Netherlands (Beverages – Alcoholic), Denmark’s Salling Group (Dairy Products) and Lidl Denmark (Frozen Food), Finnish retailer Kesko (Non Food – Household) and Portugal’s Pingo Doce (Non-Food – Personal Care).

In addition, for the first time this year, ESM launched three new cross-category awards, which honoured the ‘best of the best’ in terms of the three main judging pillars – the award for Innovative Product of The Year went to REWE Group, while the Packaging Excellence Award and the Taste Excellence Award were won by Conad.

Retailers from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Hungary, Turkey, Ukraine and the Baltic states were named among the finalists.

“With the pandemic having altered shopping behaviour significantly over the past 12 months, the need for retailers to maintain a strong private label offering has never been as important,” said Stephen Wynne-Jones, editor, ESM: European Supermarket Magazine. “The winners and finalists in this year’s European Private Label Awards demonstrate why store brands continue to be a force to be reckoned with in European grocery, in many cases surpassing their branded counterparts.”

In addition, Trace One, the leading platform for connecting retailers and suppliers, has teamed up with ESM: European Supermarket Magazine to offer a special prize to all winners and finalists in this year’s European Private Label Awards. For more information about Trace One, visit