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World’s Largest Costco – An Experience

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Touch the Soil News #535 Recently, we heard that the world’s largest Costco was in Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake metropolitan area is an asphalt jungle that meanders along the Wasatch Front (mountain range) for over 125 miles. This sprawling metropolitan region is home to 2.5 million people. Following developments in the food chain made us curious about what it’s like in perhaps the largest grocery (and other goods) store in the nation. At 235,000 square feet, we arrived at the largest Costco on a Wednesday – hoping it would be easy to get into. Ironically, the parking lot was full, but when we got inside it was not…

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Target – Re-Inventing Food and Food Retailing

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Touch the Soil News #521 Farmers Markets are the epitome of local food and doing away with the middle-man – the grocery store. However, in a bizarre change of directions, grocery stores may start cutting out the farmer. Target Stores, the second largest retailer in the United States behind Walmart has been working on a new project which they will start testing in early 2017. The project is about creating indoor vertical farms within Target stores. Folks can buy fresh herbs and greens right from the indoor farm set-up. Target is working with global design firm IDEO and MIT Media Lab. IDEO has worked with InFarm, a global leader in…

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America’s Top 10 Grocers

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Touch the Soil News #356 Ever wonder who the top 10 grocers are in America. Following is the list of the 10 largest grocers: Walmart from Bentonville, Arkansas.  5,249 stores in the U.S.  Annual consumable sales of $247.5 billion. Kroger Foods from Cincinnati, Ohio.   3,732 stores in the U.S.   Annual sales of $109.8 billion. Costco from Issaquah, Washington.   569 stores in the U.S.   Annual consumable sales of 69.4 billion. Albertson’s from Boise, Idaho.   2,205 stores in the U.S.   Annual sales of $58.3 billion. CVS Health from Woonsocket, Rhode Island.   7,911 stores in the U.S.   Annual consumable sales of $44.4 billion. Target from Minneapolis, Minnesota.   1,805 stores in the U.S.   Annual…

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Fast Food Sales Migrating to C-Stores and Supermarkets

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Touch the Soil News #213 The other day, I purchased a fresh salad from the C-store where I get gas. In many rural towns, large C-store and gas stations have become the favorite stops on Friday and Saturday nights. The NPD Group – a research group specializing in consumer food trends – recently made an astonishing declaration. From March to June of this year, fast food purchases per customer made at supermarkets and c-stores was over six visits higher in an average four=week period. The data reveals that customers use convenience (c-stores) and grocery stores interchangeably with quick service restaurants (like McDonalds). So when we want fast food, it is…

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When It Comes to Money – Are Grocery Stores Obliged to Sell Their Souls?

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Touch the Soil News #201 Recently, Whole Foods Market issued a press release announcing a net reduction in jobs of approximately 1,500 employees. Perhaps it is not a big number relative to 91,000 employees, manning 431 stores in 12 regions. The reasons given for the cutbacks include: Keeping prices low for customers Invest in technology upgrades Improving cost structure What does improving cost structure mean? Does it mean store prices, cutting jobs, having money satisfy stockholder demands? Asking these questions is not a criticism of Whole Foods Markets, which has tremendous responsibility to stockholders. Ditto for virtually every other publically owned or privately owned company. (photo courtesy of Raysonho -…

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Taking a Chance – Free Grocery Delivery via Electric Vans

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Touch the Soil News #185 In the faraway land of the Netherlands, some 30 savvy tech folks have been working for three years to invent a new grocery plan. Order groceries on you smart phone and have them delivered for free in an environmentally friendly electric van. The plan is to work with food distributors directly and pass the savings on to customers. Without having to maintain a brick and mortar store front, the savings can be used to offset the cost of the free “electric” delivery and still be competitive with major grocery chains. The Picnic electric van uses standardized containers for customer orders Called Picnic, the founders discovered…

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Food-Chain News Roundup

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Touch the Soil News # 149 Billionaires and Food Vietnam’s only billionaire, Pham Nhat Vuong, through his investment company Vingroup, is putting together a $46.5 million dollar greenhouse food enterprise. Up till now, Vuong has been involved in property development – making agriculture a total departure from his norm. Helping in the project is Israeli company Netafim. Netafim builds out greenhouses and is the world’s leader in drip irrigation products and technology. Vuong represents just one small investor, among a growing flock of investors looking to harness their dollars in food and agriculture. Greenhouse food production near cities attracts billionaire Farmers Open Grocery Store Two Canadian farmers – Simone Rudge…

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Egg Conundrum

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Touch the Soil News # 135 Consumer pressure to make egg production more humane resulted in a watershed law in California last year. California laws required that on January 1, 2015, any eggs sold in California must come from hens that have at least 116 square inches of floor space – a 73 percent increase over common practices. Egg industry experts estimated that many egg laying enterprises will enlarge the spaces in order to be able to sell in California, but may reduce the number of hens they have. One estimate is that the California law might precipitate the culling of 10 million hens. Unanticipated, however, is the roughly 50…

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The Once Mightiest of Grocery Stores is About to Slip into Oblivion

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Touch the Soil News # 124 For almost 60 years – from 1915 to 1975 – A & P supermarket was the nation’s largest supermarket chain. In its heyday, the company had 16,000 stores. The store was founded in 1859 as the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. The name was later shortened to A & P. A & P cashiers line up for store opening Today the A & P supermarket has only 320 stores and Bloomberg Business reported that the store was up for auction, but there were no bids. A & P told Bloomberg that: “No decision has been mad regarding a particular outcome, and it would…

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Food Resilience – Are the Challenges to Food Calling for a Spiritual Awakening?

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Ten years ago, food resilience focused on sustainably- produced foods, with discussions focusing on organic versus chemical farming. Since that time, the world has changed in two ways – 850 million more people at the dinner table and an increase in the number of shocks that the production of food encounters. With this background, the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) provides an explanation of food resilience: “Resilience is the capacity that ensures adverse stressors and shocks do not have long-lasting adverse development effects.” This must mean that negative shocks to food must be overcome in the near term and not allowed to fester for extended periods of time. The focus…

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