Thursday, August 9, 2007

End of week natural~specialty business roundup

Wild Oats picking up steam...Sales at super-natural grocer Wild Oats Markets, Inc. increased 4.5% over 2006 during the first half of 2007. Same store sales for the grocer also were up 1.7% in the same time period. All this and more is here in Wild Oats Markets, Inc's most current SEC filing.

>With this suprising sales increase perhaps Wild Oats Markets, Inc. would do just fine without being taken over by Whole Foods Markets, Inc.? TheWhole Foods/Wild Oats merger remains under examination by the Security and Exchange Commision.

Talk about high approval ratings...The annual Harris Poll ranking industries on how well they serve consumers is just out. The poll finds that supermarkets do the best customer service job according to the U.S adults polled. A whopping 92% of adults say supermarkets generally do a good job, and only 8% think they do a bad job. Read all about it here:

>These poll numbers for the supermarket industry must bring tears to the eyes of Congress and the Bush Administration. Congress has an approval rating below 20%, with President Bush at about 35% approval. Perhaps all members of the U.S. Congress, President Bush, and his key cabinet officials, should start wearing grocery aprons as a start in the right direction.

More growth in Organics...Mega-grocer Kroger Co. is expanding it's store brand line of organic grocery products by another 60 products. Kroger's corporate H-Q is in Cincinnati, Ohio. Here is a story from the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper.

>This is another example of how mainstream supermarket retailers are growing their natural foods business. The Private Label Grocery Association recently reported that natural foods is one of the fastest categories they have seen in terms of growth in store brand and private label over the last three years.

Going local...Anna Wolf, the editor of Gourmet News, has a well-written editorial piece about local natural/specialty foods marketing and buying in the current (August, 2007) issue. The editorial piece is titled Celebrating local.

>Interest in the origin of food is becoming an increasingly important concept among many consumers. And the "buy local" movement is growing. We saw it first with the advent of Farmer's Market's. It's now branching out as a trend at select retail stores as well. Smart grocers are seeing it matters where the products they sell come from and are beginning to take notice and offer local products when they can. We see "local marketing" as an emerging trend here at Natural~Specialty Foods Memo and will be discussing it often.

More natural-specialty convergence...There was much talk at the recent Tree of Life (specialty and natural foods distributor) food show in Dallas, Texas that Tree of Life, Inc. will be distributing a selection of Whole Foods Markets, Inc's. corporate branded/private label natural products. Mr. Ken Erickson of Tree of Life, Inc. confimed the distributor will be doing so.

>Since Tree of Life distributes to both main-stream supermarkets, mass-merchandisers and natural foods retailers this demonstrates further how the specialty-natural convergence continues. Consumers who don't have a Whole Foods Markets, Inc. store in their community now will in many cases be able to purchase the natural grocer's corporate branded/ private label products at their local supermarket. Many of Whole Foods' branded products are specialty or upscale as well as being natural. This fact further demonstrates the natural-specialty convergence taking place.

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