Wednesday, August 29, 2007

NSFM Retail Profile

The photograph at left is of Supervalu Inc.'s Sunflower Market in Columbus, Ohio. Sunflower Market is a 15,000 square-foot natural foods store. The format puts a focus on selling natural and organic products at discount prices.
Today marks the beginning of a new, occasional feature here at Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM). On a regular basis NSFM will bring you profiles of various retail formats--supermarkets, natural foods stores, mass merchandisers, convenience-style stores, farmers' markets and other types of stores and retail outlets--where natural and specialty foods and related products are merchandised and sold.

We will bring you retail profiles written by NSFM and profiles written by others and originally published elsewhere. Our goal is to bring our readers a variety of in-depth, well written profiles of retail formats, providing you with a bounty of information you can learn from and use in your everyday pursuit of better natural and specialty foods retail merchandising, sales, marketing and related endeavors.

Today we are bringing you three profiles of three very different retail formats. Each of these retailers merchandises specialty and natural foods and offers different--but also similar--opportunities for industry buyers and sellers--as well as consumers.

The first retail profile is of Supervalu Inc.'s new Sunflower Market. Sunflower Market is a 15,000 square-foot natural foods store which puts an emphasis on low prices for natural and organic groceries, produce and other categories and items. There are currently five stores in operation in the mid west and eastern U.S.

NSFM wrote about Sunflower Market yesterday in its Tuesday Talking Points Memo. We suggested that Sunflower Market might have the potential to become part of a supernatural retail category one-two punch for Supervalu against Whole Foods Markets, Inc. if the 30-billion dollar a year in sales Supervalu decides it wants to get into the supernatural retail category in a big way. (See Will the Big 3 Supermarket Chains Challenge Whole Foods in its Niche. Tuesday, Aug. 28 in NSFM.)

This feature profile of Sunflower Market is by Denise Purcell, managing editor of Specialty Food Magazine and focuses on the Sunflower Market in Columbus, Ohio. The article was originally published in this month's (Aug. 2007 issue of Specialty Food Magazine.

Click below to read the profile: Sunflower Market: Taking the Bite Out of Organics, by Denise Purcell:

The second retail profile is from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper in St. Louis Missouri. The piece, by staff writer Gail Appleson, profiles Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its plans to strike at the heart of the area's retail grocery business by building more of its huge Supercenter stores and converting smaller Wal-Mart stores to the Supercenter format.

The piece profiles Wal-Mart in general, especially as the chain relates to food marketing, and also talks about the effects the mega-retailer is having on the region's supermarket chains and independent grocers.

The profile also talks about Wal-Mart's aggressive move into upscale specialty and natural/organic foods and related products as well as the overall upscaling of its supercenter format.

Read the Wal-Mart profile by Ms Appleson from the Aug. 21, 2007 St. Louis Post Dispatch here:

The third and last retail profile is about a unique retail market in a unique, unconventional setting. The Fresno State Farm Market on the campus of Fresno State University in Fresno California is a completely student-run and operated farmer's market-type store which did $1 million in sales last year.

The store sells everything from fresh produce to award winning wine and specialty foods all produced on the campus farm and processed and packaged on campus by students. Specialty products include jams and jellies, condiments, sausages and other items in addition to the bounty of fresh produce and wine selection.

Fresno State University has long had award winning agricultural and food science programs. And the campus' location, in the heart of California's Central Valley which is the number one agricultural producing region in the world, lends itself well to these programs and the related ted farm market operation. The University also recently added a culinary arts curriculum to its food science program. This curriculum puts a major focus on sustainable farming and the production and marketing of specialty, artisan, natural and organic foods.

The profile describes the retail enterprise, its evolving format, how it serves the University's teaching and research mission as well as serving the Fresno community with fresh and specialty-oriented foods at a reasonable price.

The profile, "Expanding in its Fields: Fresno State's farm market adds products, displays while plowing profits back into operations," is written by Dennis Pollock and originally published in the Aug. 26, 2007 Fresno Bee. Dennis Pollock is a staff writer for the Fresno Bee. You can read the profile here:

These three profiles represent just a portion of the myriad types of retail formats available for the merchandising and sales of natural, specialty and artisan products. NSFM looks forward to exploring more retail formats here for our readers soon.

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