All eyes on Phoenix, the small-format battle has begun

The retail world will eagerly watch the showdown under the blazing Phoenix sun between Tesco’s Fresh & Easy and Walmart’s Marketside small-format grocers, which both stress fresh foods, convenience and value prices. The U.S. retail giant opened its first four 15,000-square-foot stores (10,000 selling space) to directly confront and battle-test 26 sites there run by the British innovator: some Marketsides are within a mile of a Fresh & Easy. Will either wither? Will they take better learnings into new locales as they roll out, as a result of their early standoff? Will local shoppers perceive enough differences between the two of them, and between them and conventional grocers, to give a strong ‘go’ signal for expansion? Where might Walmart take it? In a TNS Retail Forward webinar yesterday, senior vice president Sandy Skrovan and senior consultant Jennifer Halterman addressed these issues and more. “Five years from now, conventional supermarkets will be part of the landscape, but more niche formats delivering fresh, convenience and extreme value will crop up,” predicted Ms. Skrovan. She supported that view with the consultancy’s own shopper survey data: almost 6 in 10 consumers want to buy more fresh and healthy food, but feel it is too expensive.

Nov 21, 2008 Read More

Retailers, get sites ready for Cyber Monday surge

If retailers’ chief marketing officers are correct, sales on this upcoming Cyber Monday (December 1) will grow by 2.4%—a shadow of last year’s 21.0% growth. Nevertheless, the day will kick off an 8.0% gain in Internet sales this holiday season, according to CMO projections in a BDO Seidman, LLP survey. Compared with overall retailer prospects, that looks pretty good. Last year, Cyber Monday drew 72 million shoppers who spent $733 million in one day. But retailers won’t be able to count on an online boost unless their websites can service heavy bargain-hunter traffic without a hitch. “They won’t forgive you if they miss out because your site didn’t perform. If you nail this day, however, I think you keep these shoppers for the next year or two. Your site can’t go down, it can’t lag, it can’t give shoppers trouble finding and buying merchandise, and it has to be secure,” Mark Sarbiewski, senior director of product marketing, Hewlett-Packard Software, told

Nov 20, 2008 Read More

Thank Mother Nature for an Antioxidant Thanksgiving!

Pecan pie and cranberry relish, sautéed artichoke hearts and glorious mashed potatoes, oh, who needs turkey this holiday season? You'll be delighted to learn that all the above dishes plus many others are nutritional powerhouses with very high amounts of health-giving antioxidants: those disease-fighting elements that help us deflect a whole slew of diseases like atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) that lead to strokes and heart attacks. Here are our top choices: Granny Smith Apples are tart, crisp, and juicy, great alone following a meal or made into a pie. Slices of refrigerator-cold Granny Smith or Gala apples served with some hazelnuts or walnuts and a cup of hot chocolate make a great dessert jammed with antioxidants. One apple has 581 antioxidant capacity. Artichokes, steamed, brined, or baked are both perfect for side dishes or for a change of pace on the appetizer banquet. They're very low in calories, available jarred, canned or raw, and a whole cup of the tastiest part, the hearts, clock in at 7904, just under the cranberry's antioxidant level.

Nov 20, 2008 Read More

In wake of CDC report, how can you make your towns healthier?

People choose where to live for many reasons—employment, climate, proximity to family and friends, recreation and more. The annual measure by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the nation’s healthiest and unhealthiest cities provides yet one more reason for choice. The agency’s latest report compares cities on two ends of the health spectrum. On one side, Burlington, Vermont has a nation-topping 92% of residents who say their health is good or great. On the other side, Huntington, WVA, is filled with obese adults, nearly half of them to be precise, higher than any other metro area.

Nov 19, 2008 Read More

New Twist in Decaf: It’s In the Bean!

Water and chemical methods of reducing caffeine from coffee beans have challenged scientists and engineers for more than a century, and the most winning result is the water method for reducing caffeine, oftentimes up to 97%. However, even this gentle method dilutes the inherent flavor characteristics in the bean that come from the fats and oils which tend to be flushed away in this process and more so in chemical decaffeination. What’s a coffee producer to do? Well, some of the best coffee producers in the world have decided to grow a better bean, one that naturally contains lower amounts of caffeine. One new bean claims only 1% caffeine, and most of the others say their beans have at least half of the caffeine of regular coffee beans. In a $2 billion niche of the humungous coffee industry, this is not only big news, it’s big business in the making.

Nov 19, 2008 Read More

Eliminating lines for shoppers through text messaging

If there's one thing that makes for a grumpy shopper, it's waiting in long lines. And with the storm of holiday shopping about to hit, retailers and their employees will inevitably be faced with keeping their customers happy by moving those lines along efficiently while serving each shoppers' needs. Technology to the rescue! While many have experienced those blinking coasters at restaurants that notify them when their table is ready, a new service called QLess offers another solution that on the surface seems less cumbersome and allows customers to roam beyond the limits of the coasters' range. The service provides text messaging or voice call notifications straight to shopper's mobile phones to let them know it's their turn! Customers are not required to download any software, and for retailers, there is no need to purchase any hardware. All that is needed is a computer with a web browser. There are no long distance charges for either parties, and the retailer is charged on a per customer basis. The service is interactive, so shoppers can notify back if they need more time, they can confirm that they are on their way, or (ideally) they can let the retailer know if they have left the line.

Nov 19, 2008 Read More

Penguin Problem

Nov 18, 2008 Read More

A Flying Aeonium

Aeoniums are very beautiful succulent plants...

Nov 18, 2008 Read More

From globe to plate, New Yorker issue covers the world of food

Food is more important in our lives today. So many threats to our way of life make reliable supplies of the right foods a high priority to sustain the nation. Yet commodity price volatility unnerved the world this year and showed the fragility of supplies. And more food safety scares from China prompted new FDA restrictions against imports until the foods are tested in the U.S. While many magazines revel in the enjoyment and entertainment aspects of food, the New Yorker food issue takes on the more profound issue of supply, some of food’s deeper ties to international cultures, and several examples of business innovation. The issue underscores how food transcends the light, pop coverage that’s served up so often and deserves a more serious tone sometimes—at the very least to remind us to stop taking our nation’s food fortunes for granted. In The Perils of Efficiency, a New Yorker article by James Surowiecki that spun from commodity price surges this spring, he posed, “So did the global financial crisis solve the global food crisis?

Nov 18, 2008 Read More

Muslims a prime market for Kosher foods

“You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s” was an iconic ad campaign for a Brooklyn-based brand of rye bread with a strong local following that reveled in the ethnicity of early-1960’s New York. This same sentiment would serve Kosher food manufacturers well today—nearly half a century later—especially to appeal to the estimated 10 million Muslims with $170 billion in purchasing power who now live in the United States. Indeed, they outnumber Jews in this nation (about 7 million), and there are similarities between their Halal dietary practices and kosher regimens: Animals are slaughtered painlessly, and pork and blood are restricted. Mintel said that Muslims already comprise 16% of the U.S. market for kosher food, which it pegged at $14.6 billion in 2005 and called one of the fastest-growing segments in the retail food business. Why the following? There are 90,000 kosher-certified products compared with 1,000 halal items distributed in the U.S., according to Kosher Today, the organizers of Kosherfest. “The second-largest consumer group for kosher foods is Muslims. In the absence of widespread halal certification, they have come to rely on kosher certification,” said Steve Sichel, director of development for Star-K Kosher Certification.

Nov 17, 2008 Read More

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