News Briefs


Natural Grocers Gets Into the Grilling Spirit

NG grilling

Getting into the swing of summer, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. is holding an “Art of Grilling” event this month, with giveaways, fundraisers and savings on items such as humanely raised meats and 100% organic produce.

From June 2-24, shoppers can get a chance to win a Yeti cooler and Natural Grocers branded Hydro Flasks through a “Count the Burger” contest featured in the store magazine and on Instagram. Throughout the weekend of June 9-11, customers can save to 48% off on grilling-related items like Thousand Hills grass-fed ground beef, Beyond Meat Beyond Burgers and Paqui tortilla chips. 

Natural Grocers is also sharing grilling recipes and tips from its chefs and nutrition consultants.  Recipes include main dishes as well as desserts that can be prepared on the grill. Meanwhile, to give back to the community, the retailer will donate $1 to local food banks for every purchase of limited-edition “Art of Grilling” reusable bags sold for $1.99 each, from June 1-30.

As part of the grilling activities and promotions, Natural Grocers is also offering reusable bags for Father’s Day to members of the grocer’s free loyalty program. Ahead of that holiday, shoppers can also access 10% savings on alcohol purchases.

Family-operated Natural Grocers operates 166 stores in 21 states. The Lakewood, Colo.-based natural and organic grocer is No. 95 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Natural Grocers as one of its 10 Most Sustainable Grocers


Former Food Lion CEO Dies

Food Lion Storefront Teaser

Tom Smith, the onetime CEO  of Food Lion, died in hospice care June 2 after what has been described as “ a long battle with a terminal illness,” according to published reports

Starting out at the company, then known as Food Town, as a bagger when he was a teenager, Smith spent more than six years with Del Monte Sales Co. before returning to Food Lion in 1970 as a buyer in the corporate office. In January 1986, he became CEO, succeeding founder Ralph Ketner. Like Ketner, Smith emphasized low prices and efficient service, leading Food Lion to surpass $2 billion in sales at the end of Smith’s first year as CEO.

At the time of Smith’s retirement in 1999, the company had grown to more than 1,000 stores and 100,000-plus employees.

Smith was also active in the community, and received various honors and awards from business and civic organizations.

"We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former CEO and leader Tom Smith, who played an instrumental role in the growth and success of Food Lion," the company said in a statement. "During his 29 years of service, he made significant contributions to the company. His dedication, hard work and passion were invaluable in propelling Food Lion forward. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and former colleagues during this time. His legacy will forever be remembered and cherished within our Food Lion family."

Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion operates more than 1,100 stores with 82,000-plus associates throughout 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. Its parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company as one of its Retailers of the Century.


TGCSA Names Food City Exec 2023 Retailer of the Year

Food city exec

Mickey Blazer, EVP of pharmacy, fuel and convenience stores for Food City’s retail grocery chain was recently named 2023 Retailer of the Year by Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association (TGCSA). The award recognizes the outstanding Tennessee retailer who exemplifies the high standards of integrity and efficiency upon which the organization was founded.   

The Nashville-based trade organization’s primary function is to educate and promote the welfare of its business members, which are comprised of retail grocery, convenience, and food industry suppliers throughout the state of Tennessee. Blazer received his award during the recent TGCSA annual convention in Sevierville, Tenn.

[Read more: “Food City Planning Major Expansion in Alabama”]

Blazer joined the Food City team in 1977, serving in numerous management roles, including EVP of operations for Food City’s Knoxville and Chattanooga divisions. Blazer is currently responsible for the oversight of fuel and pharmacy operations for Food City’s 150 retail locations, which includes 119 pharmacies, 116 fuel centers and five convenience stores.

He served on the Governor of Virginia’s Prescription Drug and Heroin Task Force Subcommittee and as chairman of the Topco Managed Care Review Committee. In 2018, he traveled with the National Grocers Association Grassroots Committee to Washington, D.C., where he represented grocery pharmacy at the White House by addressing the important role community pharmacy plays in the nation’s health care system.

Blazer currently serves on the board of directors for TGCSA and is a member the organization’s Legislative Committee. He also chairs the FMI – The Food Industry Association’s Pharmacy Subgroup.  

Food City’s parent company, Abingdon, Va.-based K-VA-T Food Stores, operates 150 retail outlets throughout southeast Kentucky, southwest Virginia, east Tennessee, north Georgia and Alabama. K-VA-T is No. 70 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Giant Food Offers Local Produce Boxes for Summer

Giant produce boxes

It’s summer, and the produce-buying time is easy – at least for Giant Food customers in the Washington, D.C. area. The grocer is bringing back its local produce boxes filled with seasonal produce sourced from farms in Maryland, Virginia and Delaware.

Selling for $22.99, the boxes are sold through the Giant Delivers program from now through September, or while supplies last. At least eight varieties of produce will be available and items will vary each week depending on harvests.

[Read more: "Giant Food Takes Steps to Stop Theft, Avoid Closing Stores"]

"The Local Produce Boxes continue to be highly successful and are an exciting offering for our customers looking for fresh produce sourced from farms throughout their local community," said Adenike Olaleye, senior manager of e-commerce merchandising at Giant Food. "We're thrilled to be able to offer these specially curated produce boxes for the third year in a row to provide our customers with an expanded variety of the best seasonal produce options week after week." 

Based in Landover, Md., Giant Food operates 165 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia, with approximately 20,000 associates. Included within its stores are 153 full-service pharmacies, more than 80 full-service PNC Banks and 29 Starbucks locations. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Wakefern Brings on VP, Controller for Financial Services

Wakefern Vice President, Controller

Retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. has hired Parul Aggarwal to serve as VP, controller for Wakefern Financial Services. Aggarwal will oversee accounting operations, payroll, tax and compliance for the services company and report to Wakefern CFO Neil Falcone.

In her new role, Aggarwal will also head external financial reporting, including quarterly consolidations and financial statements, annual audited financial statements, and compliance. Prior to joining Wakefern, Aggarwal served as senior finance manager for Mondelēz International, and also previously held finance roles at Reckitt Benckiser, General Mills Canada and Kellogg’s Canada.

[Read more: "Wakefern Associates Earn NGA Executive Leadership Development Scholarships"]

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern comprises nearly 50 members that independently own and operate 360-plus supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Together with its member companies, Wakefern employs nearly 80,000 people. The company is No. 29 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Flagstone Foods Acquires Emerald Nuts From Campbell

Emerald Nuts Teaser

Healthy snack manufacturer Flagstone Foods has acquired Emerald Nuts from Campbell Soup Co. Over its almost 20-year history, Emerald has been known for items such as grab-and-go 100 calorie packs and assorted glazed nut products.

Minneapolis-based Flagstone Foods is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of private label snack nuts and trail mixes in North America. The company operates three plants, located in Robersonville, N.C.El Paso, Texas; and Dothan, Ala. Flagstone's more than 800 team members source, process, package and distribute nuts, trail mixes, and other wholesome snacks to retail customers across the country. The company was acquired by Atlas Holdings in 2019 and in late 2022 hired CEO Harry Overly to accelerate the company's growth as a snacking solutions provider.

[Read more: “Top Trends at the 2023 Sweets & Snacks Expo”]

"Flagstone Foods has long been trusted by the nation's premier retailers to provide the highest quality snacks,” said Overly. “Emerald has been providing high-quality branded snack nuts since 2004 and is now the go-to option for consumers seeking better-for-you snacking on the go. Adding Emerald Nuts to our portfolio establishes a new avenue for Flagstone to service our customers with innovative snack products and unites two industry leaders with a shared commitment to the highest levels of product quality and innovation. Our Flagstone team is excited to welcome Emerald as a transformative acquisition to our portfolio and we're looking forward to continuing to drive growth for both Flagstone and our retail partners."

Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP served as legal advisor and Piper Sandler & Co. served as financial advisor to Flagstone.