News Briefs


Tops Adopts EBT SNAP Online on Flashfood App Via Forage

Flashfood Forage Tops Teaser

Tops Markets LLC is now accepting EBT SNAP online on the Flashfood app, thanks to payments company Forage. The grocer’s customers can use their smartphones to browse the Flashfood marketplace for heavily discounted groceries and save up to 50% on items nearing their best-by date, including meat, dairy, seafood, fresh produce, bakery items and center store foods. As of today, purchases can be paid for with an EBT card and then retrieved from the Flashfood Zone inside participating stores. 

“As a company committed to feeding more families, we’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Flashfood and launch EBT as an online payment method for Tops Friendly Markets,” said Ofek Lavian, co-founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Forage. “We are proud to help provide access to affordable, healthy groceries for low-income Americans that continue to struggle with the realities of food insecurity and inflation.”  

Forage, which received USDA approval to process EBT transactions in August 2022, is the primary processor of EBT payments for Shopify merchants, and works with independent grocers, marketplaces and platforms to power EBT SNAP online. 

To date, Toronto-based Flashfood has teamed with more than 1,700 stores across North America.

Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops has approximately 150 supermarkets, including five franchise stores, and employs more than 14,000 associates in New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont. The banner’s parent company, Northeast Grocery Inc., is No. 45 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. 


Hegedorns Market to Shutter in New York


A family-owned independent grocer in Webster, N.Y., dating back nearly 87 years is closing its doors. Hegedorns Market will serve its last customers this week in the town of nearly 5,400 east of Rochester.

Hegedorns began as a dairy market in 1936 during the Great Depression and moved into purveying groceries in 1953. The 45,000-square-foot store at 964 Ridge Road offered a variety of grocery essentials and featured full-service meat, bakery and produce departments. The store also served customers with a catering department and onsite flower shop.

[Read more: "Southernmost Illinois City Gets 1st Food Store in 7 Years"]

In one of its last circulars, Hegedorns owners thanked the community for its decades of support and praised the nearly 200 team members who staffed the location. The family noted that its loyal customers helped them provide first-time jobs for hundreds of young people and donate to various community organizations, schools, churches and scouting groups over the years. 

Shoppers posted their sentiments on social media, with one sharing, “I was there 2 hours ago… took lots of pictures, went down every aisle, lots of them empty. Just had to get their famous donuts one last time. Spent over $150 and got a Hegedorns grocery bag as a thank you. I sure am going to miss shopping here.”

Increased competition, including from Wegmans Food Markets based in nearby Rochester, factored into the family's decision to close the store. “We have two Wegmans within three miles of us, we have an ALDI’s, Target and Walmart. Years ago, we didn’t have that to compete with. Even though we offered certain things that we feel were better than the competition, it wasn’t enough financially,” owner Johnathon Gonzales told the WROC television news station in March.

The store’s last day will be Thursday, June 29.


Shipt Introduces Hosting Hub

Shipt Hosting Hub Teaser

To help customers host successful summer celebrations, Shipt has rolled out its first-ever Hosting Hub, which provides curated lists of trending products suitable for summer parties, as well as items for all occasions from such retailers as Target and Meijer.

Customers planning a party or event can go to the Shipt app or web browser, find the right occasion under the hub’s list and shop from there. Once their carts are full, customers can get their orders the same day via Shipt’s personalized shopping and delivery offering. 

[Read more: "Shipt Partners With Actress Issa Rae on New Advertisements"]

“The Hosting Hub was created to serve and delight Shipt customers,” explained Aspen Stough, Shipt’s director of digital merchandising. “We wanted to make a fun, dynamic place for party hosts to find everything they needed in one place while being inspired by new ideas and products they might not have tried yet. Our team has had fun putting together these lists and can’t wait to see how our customers use them to celebrate all their most important moments.” 

The hub will be updated seasonally to include moments like sports tailgates, Halloween, Thanksgiving and other occasions. Current features include lists for birthdays, baby showers, wedding showers and dinner parties. 

While any customer can access the Hosting Hub on Shipt’s platform, the company recently launched a number of membership perks. Shipt is also offering a $20 off membership June 22-25. 

With offices in Birmingham, Ala., and San Francisco, Shipt is an independently operated, wholly owned subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Target Corp., which is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 2,000 locations. Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer is No. 23 on PG’s list.


NGA Hires Business Development VP

NGA Anita Nunez Cepollaro Teaser

Anita Nuñez Cepollaro has joined the National Grocers Association (NGA), which represents the independent supermarket industry, as VP of business development. In her new role, Nuñez Cepollaro will help drive membership growth and NGA’s non-dues revenue programs such as event sponsorships and advertising initiatives. She joins the trade organization from the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, where she was director of programs.

“Anita brings extensive experience in association management, including sales, fundraising and events, which will greatly enhance NGA’s level of service for its members,” noted Jonathan Downey, SVP of membership and industry relations at Washington, D.C.-based NGA.

[Read More: "NGA Announces Staff Changes, Updates"]

Nuñez Cepollaro earlier worked at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars & Admissions Officers, Visit Baltimore, Hilton Worldwide, Discover Puerto Rico and the Association of Latino Professionals for America.

“I’m eager to meet and build relationships with NGA members, sponsors and partners who are the bloodline of the organization,” said Nuñez Cepollaro. “I look forward to leading the efforts in identifying, developing and executing growth opportunities that will help expand NGA’s capabilities and services.”

Nuñez Cepollaro holds a bachelor of science degree in early childhood development from West Virginia University. Born in Washington, D.C., she now lives in northern Virginia with her husband and two young children.  


Lipari Foods, Baroody Imports Join Forces to Expand Middle Eastern Offerings


Specialty food distributor Lipari Foods and Baroody Imports Inc., a wholesale distributor of Middle Eastern foods, have united as two complementary organizations with the shared aim of becoming the dominant distributor of Middle Eastern foods in the United States.

“Over the past five years, we have significantly grown our Middle Eastern offerings,” noted Thom Lipari, CEO of Warren, Mich.-based Lipari Foods, which delivers a wide range of international specialty, bakery, dairy, deli, packaging, seafood, meat, grocery, foodservice, confectionery and convenience foods and beverages to 11,000-plus customers across 30 states. “The Baroody team has been an excellent partner with us over the years, and we are excited to bring them into the Lipari team to further strengthen our catalog and business relationships in this important category across the United States. We are confident by joining forces, we will grow and build out great offerings for all of our collective customers.”

[Read more: "KeHE Completes DPI Specialty Foods Acquisition"]

“I am excited for this opportunity and what it means for our team and business partners,” said Najy Baroody, owner of Clifton, N.J.-based Baroody Imports. “I look forward to helping the Lipari team grow their capabilities and experience in the Middle Eastern market. Lipari Foods is extremely respected in the distribution space, with great focus on the customer’s success. Combining our strengths will lead to even greater opportunities for all of our partners near and far.”

Najy Baroody will continue to lead the Baroody Imports operation, whose approximately 30 employees source more than 1,300 items from various countries for 1,500-plus customers nationally.

Last month, Lipari Foods revealed that it had acquired Comercializadora Del Midwest (CDM), a provider of Central and South American specialty items.


California Winemaker Introduces 100% Recyclable Wine Bottle

Blue Bin

Plenty of consumers recycle their used wine bottles. Soon, they can buy wine in bottles made with 100% recyclable materials.

Closing the loop on this adult beverage, Ron Rubin Brands of Sebastopol, Calif. is launching the eco-friendlier bottle this month under the Blue Bin brand. Wine drinkers can buy Blue Bin Rosé, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc varietals that are available in the new packaging, which is also shatterproof.

[Read more: "Walmart Expands Beer and Wine Delivery Across 5 States"]

The switch to the new format mirrors that product itself, made from sustainably grown California grapes. Blue Bin is also a Certified B corporation.

Beyond offering a more sustainable option to shoppers, retailers can benefit from this product launch in other ways. The bottle is 85% lighter than a glass bottle of the same size, which allows for more cases per truckload and easier handling in store. 

Meanwhile, other wine suppliers are looking at optimizing packaging and reducing their respective carbon footprints. Earlier this year, French winemaker Albert Bichot announced that it will be one of the first large wineries in the Burgundy region to become certified organic and is also reducing the weight of some of their bottles. U.K.-based packaging supplier Packamama teamed up with the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy group in March to create the first wine bottle made entirely from Prevented Ocean Plastic; collectors gather discarded plastic PET bottles that are sorted, washed, sanitized and turned into raw material flakes or pellets comprising a new circular package.In the United States, wine producer Boxt recently began shipping its wine in refillable packaging.