The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
Chicago’s competitive grocery market is facing a shake-up with the proposed Kroger-Albertsons deal.
While the $24.6 billion proposed merger is drawing a lot of industry eyeballs to the city, where Jewel-Osco and Mariano’s compete, the market is filled with local grocers who are embracing innovation to stand out.
Several rapid delivery firms have landed in Chicago, including Gopuff, Getir and Food Rocket. The latter is working with Alimentation Couche-Tard’s Circle K with plans to run a dark store adjacent to one of the convenience banner’s stores in the city.
Go Grocer, a brick-and-mortar food retailer with more than a dozen stores in downtown Chicago, launched its own ultrafast delivery service last fall and is expanding its hybrid concept to the city’s Old Town neighborhood later this month as it pushes forward with new locations.
.@MarianosMarket has a sweet tooth! I spied a Sweet Shoppe at its Benton Place store. (The @kroger-owned banner loves popcorn so much, it even makes its own, called Pop Stop, fresh on a daily basis.) pic.twitter.com/Ha4QQYfsPb— Catherine Douglas Moran (@c_douglasmoran) November 4, 2022
For Chicagoans facing food insecurity and a lack of access to quality food, some local entrepreneurs, such as Stacy Minor of Sweet Potato Patch, a South Side-based grocery and meal-delivery app, and Liz Abunaw, owner of Chicago grocery startup Forty Acres Fresh Market, are creating businesses focused on providing solutions.
While the Kroger-Albertsons deal awaits regulatory review and has yet to close, already research firms and local papers have started to delve into how the tie-up between the two grocery giants could impact the city. Some are concerned that potential store closures that could result from the deal would end up hurting communities of color in the city, Axios noted.
According to Creditntell, the Chicago metropolitan area is one of the most highly concentrated markets with Kroger-Albertsons overlap, with 102 stores for Albertsons and 55 for Kroger overlapping within 3 miles in the area. Kroger will likely consider a store’s age, lease terms and location when deciding which Chicago-area locations to close to satisfy regulators, real estate brokers told Chicago Business Journal.
In case you missed it
H-E-B opens three new stores
On Wednesday, the Texas grocer opened three new locations with one in Plano, Texas, and two in the Houston area.
At 118,000 square feet, the Plano store features the grocer’s restaurant True Texas BBQ, its home decor department, H-E-B Home, and a full-service pharmacy with a drive-thru. The Plano location joins others in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including the recently opened Frisco H-E-B and six Central Market locations that have been open for over two decades, the announcement notes.
The two new Houston locations reside in Willis and Magnolia and are each 112,000 square feet. These openings mark the grocer’s second in Magnolia and first in Willis, the press release states, as the company expands its store fleet.
HelloFresh’s new centerpiece helps to avoid a confrontational Thanksgiving dinner
The meal-kit company’s new limited edition centerpiece is designed to both ensure you can load up your plate with Thanksgiving meal favorites while also avoiding unwanted questions from overbearing relatives.
The Pass Master by HelloFresh is equipped with two “pass” buttons: one to bring your favorite side dish over to you and the second to let out a “verbal ‘pass’ to alert family members you’d prefer not to answer their prying questions,” the emailed announcement stated.
The Pass Master became available for purchase via auction through a dedicated website on Tuesday and will close on Nov. 15. All auction proceeds will go to City Harvest, New York City’s largest food rescue organization, with one lucky winner getting to grace their dining room table with this helpful centerpiece.
Kroger’s newest heartfelt holiday video brings CMO to tears
Kroger has created a tearjerker ad as the holidays near. Called "Today's Holiday Moments are Tomorrow's Memories,” the animated video centers around a cartoon character using food and old recipes to bring back fond holiday memories with family. The film was created in partnership with production company Hornet and creative agency DDB, the Thursday press release stated.
According to Reel 360 News, “DDB confessed its creative team’s goal was to make Kroger’s CMO cry. And, they did!”
Grammy-award winner Colbie Caillat sang a rendition of the Goo Goo Dolls’ classic song, “Iris,” as the video’s background music. And, to go along with the film, the companies created a printable coloring book featuring select scenes as well as recipes seen in the short, according to the announcement.
The holiday campaign video will be featured during a number of staple Thanksgiving Day events including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and The New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day. The video will also be seen over Thanksgiving weekend at The Ohio State Buckeyes-Michigan Wolverines game.
Number of the week: 23%
That’s how much more a turkey will cost this Thanksgiving than it did in 2021, according to U.S. government data cited by Wells Fargo. The chief reason for the sharp increase is avian influenza, which was particularly severe this year and led to a reduction in the turkey population of about 2.5% in 2022, our sister publication Food Dive reported.
Inflation stats on tap
With inflation continuing to hammer the economy, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will take center stage on Thursday, when the agency is due to release Consumer Price Index figures for October. A big question for the grocery industry is whether food-at-home inflation eased during the month — as it did slightly in September — or resumed the upward climb seen during much of 2022.
Q3 earnings reports roll out
Several companies will announce their financial performance in the third quarter next week. They include meal kit seller Blue Apron, due to report results for the period on Monday morning, and Sprouts Farmers Market, which will issue its third-quarter earnings report after the stock market closes on Tuesday.