Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mid-Week Round-Up

Mid-Week News, Information and Ideas You Can Use

Whole Foods Opens Hip, New Lifestyle Store In San Francisco
Whole Foods Market, Inc. opened its newest store in San Francisco today in the City's Potrero Hill neighborhood. The new 42,000 square-foot store reflects the neighborhood's hip, diverse and upscale location. The neighborhood is a mix of professionals, artists, light manufacturing and has increasingly become one of the City's most desirable places to live. The 42,000 square-foot store is the largest of the grocer's three stores in San Francisco. Whole Foods currently has 21 stores in Northern California.

The store new hip, lifestyle-oriented store features a small in-store day spa, a first for any of Whole Foods' stores. The store also has a "street-side" bistro where diners can hang out at an upscale wine bar, eat restaurant-quality meals and snacks and listen to a live DJ spin various tunes. The bistro concept also is a new development for Whole Foods.

The new Potrero Hill neighborhood store also is making a commitment to selling locally produced foods from area growers and artisan producers. For example, the store features high-quality confections and chocolates created by local Bay Area chocolatiers. The bistro and the store also will carry an exclusive to Whole Foods, a Cabernet-Merlot wine blend produced by York Creek Winery, which is located just down the street from the store and owned by San Francisco entrepreneur Fritz Maytag, who also owns Anchor Steam Brewery. The brewery is located in the Potrero Hill neighborhood and the store is merchandising a large selection of the local brewery's micro-beer varieties as well.

The store features locally-grown organic produce, baked goods and natural and specialty grocery products and beverages. The bistro also has a complete selection of upscale prepared grab-and-go meals. The store also has a selection of Asian Stir-Fry and Italian foods kits for ethnic food lovers who want an authentic meal but either don't cook or don't want to. The kits include everything needed for an authentic Asian or Italian meal and the assembly takes the shopper just a few minutes at home.

The Potrero Hill store is having its grand opening today (Wednesday Sept. 12) and Whole Foods kicked the opening off with a full-page advertisement in the popular Food Section of this morning's San Francisco Chronicle. The grand opening day with the store's upscale coffee bar opening at 7:AM, followed by a special bread baking event in the in-store bakery at 8:45AM. The "street-side" patio bistro opened at 11:AM for lunch and has a DJ all day and throughout the evening playing music for shoppers and patrons.

The store also has creating a program called "Nickles for Non-Profits" which will give selected local non-profit groups five-cents in the form of a donation for every paper or plastic grocery bag shoppers bring into the store to be recycled. The first non-profit group to benefit from the "Nickles for Nonprofits" program is "Creativity Explored," a San Francisco non-profit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit and sell art. Read more about "Creativity Explored here. The new Whole Foods store will donate the nickle per bag to the group beginning today and for the rest of the year to support their programs.

Speaking of Whole Foods Market, Inc. and San Francisco...It seems the supernatural grocer is eyeing (and negotiating for) another store location in the City. With the new Potrero Hill store opening today this potential new location that would bring the retailer's current total store count in San Francisco to four--three current with the potential new location making it four.

A local San Francisco neighborhood newspaper, The Noe Valley Voice, and Natural~Specialty Foods Memo (NSFM) Sources report that Whole Foods is in negotiations with real estate representatives to purchase the Kroger-owned Bell Market on 24th street in the City's very upscale Noe Valley neighborhood. "It's not a done deal yet. I'm not going to verify one way or another," said Mark Compana, a broker who represents Bell Market's property owners. "They are going through due diligence," Compana told the Noe Valley Voice in verifying the deal talks were progressing,"and I don't want to comment beyond that."

Whole Foods also has a posting on its website under the "Stores in Development" section which says a 16,790 square-foot Whole Foods Market is coming to San Francisco's Noe Valley. That is the square-footage of the Bell Market and there aren't any other buildings in the neighborhood that approximate that size according to neighborhood real estate sources we talked to.

The Bell Market store size, 16,790 square-feet, is rather small by Whole Foods' current store size standards. For example the retailer's new store opening today in the Potrero Hill neighborhood is 42,000 square feet. However, the Noe Valley neighborhood is a perfect location for a Whole Foods store despite the site's existing store size. There isn't much if any room for expansion on the site.

The Bell Market store has always done well in its location. It was originally part of the Cala Foods/Bell Market chain, a long-time locally-owned 18-store grocer in the Bay Area. Cala Foods, the parent company, was purchased by Kroger Co. some years ago as part of its buyout of Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies supermarket holdings. Those holdings included Ralph's Supermarkets, Food For Less, Boy's Markets, Cala Foods and a number of other banners all based in California.

Kroger decided to sell the Cala/Bell stores last year as they were too small for Kroger's brand of merchandising as well as the fact that the chain decided they didn't want to remain in the Northern California market. Seven or eight Cala and Bell Market stores in San Francisco and Marin County were purchased by an independent IGA group called Delano IGA. The President of Delano IGA, Harley Delano, was at one time the President of Cala Foods when it was an independent operation.

Delano IGA and Kroger were unable to agree on terms for the purchase of the Noe Valley store so it remained under operation by Kroger's Southern California-based Ralph's Supermarkets operation. The store is a winner--in the mid 1990's the store was doing over $300,000 per-week in sales in less than 17,000 square-feet of selling space. It also was the most profitable of all the Cala/Bell Market stores in the region.

Should Whole Foods take over the site and open a store there it would be a perfect location for the grocer's merchandising philosophy. The neighborhood has a very high college educated demographic, including post-graduate and professional degree holders. It also has an age demographic that fits Whole Foods perfectly. Lastly, neighborhood income levels are among the highest in the City.
Additionally, the Bell Market site is the only decent sized supermarket in the neighborhood. There once was a natural foods store, locally-owned small chain Real Foods, right across the street but it closed a couple years ago do to an inability to come to a lease agreement with the building's landlord.
More New Store News of Note
Whole Foods to open New Florida Store Filled With Special Features
Whole Foods Market, Inc. has announced it will have the grand opening for its newest store, located in Coral Gables, Florida, on Wednesday, September 26. The new Florida store is nearly 48,000 square-feet.
Among the store's features include indoor and outdoor cafes's, a 3,000 square-foot produce department with over 500 varieties of fresh produce, large fresh meat and seafood full-service cases, and extensive in-store prepared foods offerings including an in-store smoked meats station, an old-world charcuterie (delicatessen) featuring hand sliced turkey, salami's and more, and numerous other in-store specialty and prepared foods offerings. The store also is including a major focus on prepared Latin Foods items and groceries for the region's large Hispanic population. Read more about the new Whole Foods' Florida store's many in-store special features and departments here.

Major New York Development Finally Gets a Supermarket: Amish Markets to Open Gourmet Supermarket in Long Island City
The massive Long Island City (LIC) mixed-use development in New York has for some time had a major drawback which has prevented many people from moving to the's been without a supermarket or grocery store.
This is changing however according to New York real estate broker Andrew Fine. Fine says the developer has inked a deal with Amish Markets for the upscale market operator to locate a 20,000 square-foot gourmet supermarket in Long Island City. The store will be located at Center and 47th Avenue and is expected to open in February, 2008.
Amish Markets currently has five upscale gourmet markets in New York. Three stores are in Manhattan, one is in Hyde Park, and the newest store is located in Forest Hills. The new store in Long Island City will be the gourmet grocer's largest store to date.
Amish Markets puts an emphasis on fresh produce, baked goods and perishables and offers a large selection of specialty, gourmet and natural groceries in addition to basic grocery items. The stores also have fresh meat and seafood departments and in-store deli's featuring lots of prepared foods items. The stores also have upscale salad and olive bars and sell gourmet coffee drinks from an in-store coffee bar.
The store's also feature their own gourmet private label line called "Amish Fine Food." The line includes olive oils, spring waters, spices and extracts, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes and other items. Amish Markets also operates a full catering program through its stores and online at its website.

Georgia C-Store Retailer Going Upscale, Gourmet With New Format Design
The Parker Companies, owners and operators of the Parker Convenience Store chain based in Savannah, Georgia, has hired a Tampa and Miami, Florida-based design firm called api (+) to develop what the family-owned retailer says will be an all new 8,500 square-foot gourmet convenience store format called Parker's Market.
The retailer currently operates two Parker's Market Gourmet Convenience Markets in Savannah, Georgia. The stores feature over 5,000 specialty and standard food products ranging from gourmet hot sauces to imported cheeses and deli items. The stores also offer fresh made breads and pastries, desserts and fresh prepared meals 24 hours a day, including entrees and special picnic lunch packages.
The upscale Parker's Convenience Markets also sell fresh cut flowers and a large selection of specialty wines and beers. The stores also offer many conventional convenience store features in their upscale setting including gas fueling stations, non foods, maps, batteries and other convenience-type items.
The new 8,500 square-foot concept is said to be more upscale and larger than the current two stores. The news stores will also feature expanded prepared foods offerings and an increased selection of specialty, gourmet and natural groceries and beverages. Once the format design is competed Parker plans to build stores in select locations throughout Georgia.
The company said in hiring api (+), a noted retail design firm that has done work for Whole Foods Markets, Inc. and Wal-Mart among others, it plans to have the firm position the Parker's Markets as "the premier upscale provider of food retailing and convenience in the market."
"Being an environmental branding and creating design firm, we are planning to position the Parker's Market as the "Better Convenience Store," says Juan F. Romero, president of api (+).
The Parker Companies operates a 23-store chain (all located in Georgia) of traditional Convenience stores called Parker's Convenience Stores, an oil and gasoline distribution arm called Parker Oil, A large self-service, upscale laundromat called Spin City in Savannah, and a self-storage facility called Urban Attic also located in Savannah, in addition to the two current Parker's Market upscale convenience stores.
Ethnic Marketing Research: Hispanic Consumers
The U.S. market for Hispanic foods and beverages continues to grow dramatically, fueled not only by the growing number of Hispanics moving into the U.S., but also by the desire for non-Hispanic Americans to buy and consume Hispanic foods.
A new research report by market research firm Packaged Facts takes this fact into account in its new (August, 2007) report, "Hispanic Foods and Beverages in the U.S. In the report the research firm says food and beverage manufacturers targeting the U.S. Hispanic food and beverage market should position their products within one of three category segments depending on the type of consumer targeted. The report reinforces the fact that growth in the $5.7 billion annual
Hispanic market is driven not only by the growth in the Hispanic population but also by the expanding taste's of non-Hispanic Americans.
Packaged Facts has broken down the Hispanic food and beverage market into three groups. The first group is called "Mainstream Mexican." This group encompasses products that have become mainstays in the U.S. packaged foods industry such as nachos, salsas and taco's. "Mainstream Mexican" products also include refried beans, tortilla chips, burritos and margarita mix. The report calls these products the "backbone" of the industry.
The second major segment is called "Authentic Hispanic." These are foods and beverages imported into the U.S. from Hispanic or Latin American countries. These foods may or may not be Hispanic but they were made across the border. For example, a canned corned beef product imported from Argentina or a canned fruit product from Costa Rica would be classified as "Authentic Hispanic" in addition to a traditional imported Hispanic items.
The "Authentic Hispanic" segment also includes products made in the U.S. but made using traditional recipes as well as basic staples made by Hispanic manufacturer's and carry what is described as an "authentic" brand, the report says.
The last segment, "Nuevo Latino," includes products with what the report calls a "South of the Border" flair. This includes traditional American made foods made with Hispanic ingredients and new creations that combine a variety of Hispanic flavors and food traditions.
The Packaged Facts report says it's important to understand these three segments and how a manufacturer's and marketer's product fits into them in order to properly target a product for maximum sales effectiveness.
The report also details the top ten product categories in the Hispanic food and beverage market as a whole today. They rank as follows: Tortillas/taco shells, salsa, entrees/hand-held items, refried beans, cooking sauce/marinade/sauce, bakery items, seasoning/spice mixes, cheese, picante, and rice/rice mixes.
Packaged Facts estimates the total Hispanic food and beverage market at about $5.7 to $6 billion. That's an increase of 21% in five years, from $4.7 billion in 2002. The research firm predicts growth of about 7% over the next 4-5 years with estimated total category sales of about $8.4 billion in 2011.
The major growth categories--all which will experience double-digit growth during this 2007-2011 forecast period are: entrees/hand-held items, fruits/vegetables, meat, milk/milk-style beverages and yogurt/cultured dairy drinks.
The major growth factor for the Hispanic food and beverage market is the continuing increase in the U.S. Hispanic population, especially for those products classified as "Authentic Hispanic," says the report.
The current Hispanic population in the U.S. is about 44-45 million people. Hispanics are today the largest minority group in the U.S. and make up almost 15% of the total population. By 2030 The U.S. Census Bureau projects that one out of every five U.S. residents will be Hispanic.
You can get information on how to purchase the complete Packaged Facts research report here.
September 15th Begins National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 16th is Mexican Independence Day
September 15 begins the month long national celebration of "Hispanic Heritage Month," from September 15 to October 15, 2007. The celebration is a month-long event which celebrates the Hispanic heritage and culture in the U.S. The observation began in 1968 by U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson as "Hispanic Heritage Week" and was expanded by President Ronald Reagon in 1988 as a month-long celebration. you can learn more about the event here and also read more about "Hispanic Heritage Month" and Hispanic American's in the U.S. in this U.S. Census Bureau report here.
September 16, the day after the month-long heritage celebration begins, is the Mexican Independence Day Holiday ( El Grito de Independencia). This holiday is important to Mexicans and Mexican Americans. It celebrates Mexico's independence from Spain declared in 1810 and recognized by the Spanish in 1821. You can read about the history of Mexican Independence Day here.
A major aspect of the Mexican Independence Day celebration in Mexico and among Mexican Americans in the U.S. is a fiesta--a celebration of the day featuring lots of authentic Mexican foods and beverages, family and friends.
"Hispanic Heritage Month" and "Mexican Independence Day" present a unique opportunity for specialty and ethnic food and beverage manufacturers, marketers, brokers and retailers to create promotions focused on Hispanics and these important celebrations. In the U.S. this is a time when sales in the Hispanic food and beverage category explodes, lead both by Mexican Americans and non-hispanics who enjoy the celebration as well and buy and prepare Hispanic foods and beverages to celebrate.
For manufacturers in the Hispanic foods and beverage market this month-long celebration is an opportunity to partner with retailers to increase category sales significantly. For retailers the celebrations provide an opportunity to increase impulse sales in the Hispanic category dramatically with in-store events and promotions, media advertising and support of Hispanic cultural celebrations in the community.
For example, in California, the U.S. state with the largest Hispanic population, Modesto, California-based Save Mart Supermarkets devoted its entire mass-mailed advertising circular this week to a Hispanic foods and beverages theme. The chain is tieing-in store displays and tastings with the ad theme as well. The week-long promotion features hundreds of authentic and more common Hispanic food and beverage brands and items across all store categories--fresh produce, meats, groceries, perishables and non-foods. All the items have discounts for the week and many of the items are displayed in special point-of-purchase displays in-store.
Also in California specialty Department store retailer Macy's, which also merchandises a large selection of specialty, gourmet, ethnic and natural foods in it's Cellar Departments, is making a major promotional effort for "Hispanic Heritage Month." The retailer is a major sponsor of the International Mariachi Festival in San Jose, which is being held September 26-30. The festival is a 5-day celebration of Hispanic music, dance, food, culture and family. You can learn more about the festival here.
Macy's took out full-page color advertisements in today's San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and other major Bay Area newspapers, saluting "Hispanic Heritage Month" and the Hispanic American Community, also mentioning their support of the festival, where the retailer will have a special Macy's stage.
Pleasanton, California-based Safeway Stores, Inc. also is a sponsor of the festival as well as being a major sponsor of the Mexican Heritage Plaza facility in San Jose where the mariachi festival and Mexican Independence Day celebrations are being held.
Safeway Stores also is promoting Hispanic foods and beverages in their advertising circular and in-store leading up to Mexican Independence day on September 16th. Safeway has been a long-time promoter of Hispanic products at both its Safeway banner stores in Northern California and Von's banner in Southern California.
In neighborhoods where there are a high number of Hispanic residents Safeway tailors its stores so that they carry an expanded selection of Hispanic products across all store categories. The chain also promotes the category throughout the year as well as in September. The retailer also is a major supporter of initiatives in the Hispanic community and advertises on Spanish language TV and radio stations as well as in Hispanic print media publications.
Another sponsor of the International Mariachi Festival is Hispanic foods manufacturer El Mexicano, which is based in the San Jose area. The company produces and markets everything from Hispanic cheeses to canned and packaged Hispanic grocery products.
The company's products are sold throughout the Western U.S. and are making inroads nationally, especially in the Midwest. El Mexicano is promoted all of its products this month and participating in numerous promotions with supermarket chains and independent grocers.
It's Hispanic products are primarily "authentic" for Hispanic consumers but the company also has been coming out with more and more crossover items that appeal to non-Hispanic consumers as well as to Hispanics.
Many other manufacturers, marketers and retailers throughout the country are creating or participating in Hispanic food and beverage promotions and sponsorships this month. The Hispanic category is huge--and growing. It offers an opportunity for those involved in its selling space to build loyalty with Hispanic consumers as well as increase brand identity and sales.

Wal-Mart Begins Major Hispanic Heritage Month Promotion September 15
Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the U.S., is participating in "Hispanic Heritage Month." About 400 Wal-Mart stores nationally will celebrate the month-long event with in-store Hispanic product promotions--including foods and beverages--radio station live remotes, live music in store parking lots, special store appearances by Hispanic personalities and numerous other promotional events and activities.
Wal-Mart is the largest private employer of Hispanic Americans in the U.S. The retailer says more than 154,000 Hispanic Americans currently work for the chain. Additionally, two members of the retailer's board of directors are Hispanic Americans. Read more about Wal-Mart's September 15 to October 15 "Hispanic Heritage Month" promotion and celebration here.
News and Information Briefs You Can Use
Better Nutrition Info Equals Good Marketing Too...
Packaged goods companies Kellogg and General Mills will begin putting symbols that represent and identify nutrition information on their breakfast cereal boxes as part of a growing trend to provide more nutrition information for shoppers at the point of purchase. The companies are doing this voluntarily but the FDA has invited food companies to show the agency how using front of the package nutrition labels can improve public health. Read the full story from the Associated Press here.
Aussies, Germans, Others Say Yes to Gourmet McCafe...
McDonald's Gourmet McCafe coffee shops are becoming a big hit in Australia, Germany, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil even though they have yet to gain popularity at home in the U.S. There currently are over 400 McCafe's in Australia and over 300 in Germany with plans to built more in both countries. McDonald's recently entered Japan with its Gourmet cafe format and plans on building numerous McCafe's in Tokyo and elsewhere in the country. Read more about McCafe's success and growth overseas in this Sept. 10, 2007 article in Advertising Age.
Speaking of Gourmet Coffee--and Organic, Fair Trade and more...
The coffee craze in the U.S. and elsewhere continues to percolate "full-steam ahead." The New York Times has an excellent feature article on how coffee purveyors are literally going "to the ends of the Earth" to find new coffee beans and varieties to meet this seemingly insatiable demand for the perfect cup. Read the Sept. 12, 2007 Times' article here.
Gourmet, Organic Confections to be Stars of This Show...
Gourmet, natural, organic and fortified confections are the four fastest growing sub-categories in the confections market and will be the focus of the upcoming "All Candy Expo" in Chicago beginning on September 17 and running until September 19. This year's show will feature a dedicated area on the show floor for luxury gourmet, all-natural, organic and fortified confections. This development demonstrates how consumers are trading-up to quality in the confection category. (Fortified confections refer to those fortified with vitamins, nutritional supplements and the like. It's a new but rapidly growing sub-category within the overall confections category.
Industry Food Fight Over Better Chocolate
This trading-up to quality by confections consumers comes at a time when a number of larger, mass-market confection makers are lobbying the Federal government to allow them to substitute a certain percentage of vegetable oil for cocoa butter in chocolate production. Cocoa butter, many confections experts say, is the "essense" of chocolate; in other words it's what makes it quality chocolate. The primary reason some large chocolate producers want this change is money: Even if one can replace only 5% of the cocoa butter content in a chocolate bar with vegetable oil that can add up to lots of extra profit.
The Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) and a number of large chocolate bar producers are advocating the change. Others, including Gary Guittard, president of chocolate-maker Guittard Chocolate, are against it. Guittard says replacing a percentage of cocoa butter with vegetable oil goes completely against the growing consumer demand for more premium and better varieties of chocolate. This Sept. 11, 2007 article by the Associated Press discusses the "chocolate war" and talks about how the same issue has taken 30 years to solve in Europe.

Mid-Week Round-Up Ender...
Welcome to Whole Foods Markets New York City Beer Room
The Whole Foods Market in New York City's Bowery District has created a 1,600 square-foot Beer Room adjacent to the store on Crystie Street and Houston. The Beer Room features over 200 different varieties of beer in a setting designed for beer lovers and the just curious as well. The Beer Room features "Whole Foods Growlers," half-gallon glasses used for toting your beer around with you.
The New York City-based adult beverage blog "Racked New York" recently toured the Bowery Whole Foods Beer Room with camera in tow. You can read about what they thought of the innovative Beer Room and view numerous pictures of the facility here. You can read Whole Foods' list of suggestions on how to best enjoy the Bowery Beer Room here in case you plan on visiting and enjoying a "Growler" or two when next in New York City.

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