News Briefs


Reinvigorating a Declining Category

White Claw Teaser

There’s been a lot of talk about the demise of hard seltzers. After years of explosive growth, sales of hard seltzers are indeed leveling off.

According to Ann Arbor, Mich.-based AdAdapted’s year-over-year alcohol analysis released in June, sales of category leader White Claw saw their highest increase (498%) in April 2020. By the same period in 2021, however, this number had fallen by 35%. In the first four months of 2022, it’s fallen another 20%. This trend extends to the entire seltzer category as well.

[Read more: "What’s New in Beer, Hard Cider, Seltzers"]

Nonetheless, manufacturers aren’t giving up on these beverages as they try to reinvigorate the segment. For example, Chicago-based White Claw launched Hard Seltzer Refrshr Lemonade in distinct packaging in May. White Claw Refrshr debuted with four lemonade flavors: Lemonade Limón with a hint of Calamansi, a citrus found in Japan; Lemonade Blood Orange, with a hint of black raspberry; Lemonade Blackberry, with a dash of red cherry; and Lemonade Strawberry, with a touch of kiwi.

Over at Chicago-based Molson Coors, the company recently invested $65 million in a facility in Fort Worth, Texas, to grow its capabilities and increase its in-house hard-seltzer production. The investment is expected to allow the Fort Worth brewery to remove third-party vendors for final pack assembly, which the company believes will help alleviate shipping costs and improve time to market. The new warehouse may also be used for future brands that the company develops as part of its goal to expand its portfolio beyond the beer aisle. 

Boston Beer Co. is also rethinking its seltzer strategy. The company is working to turn around the trends on its Truly Hard Seltzer brand, starting by reformulating its core flavors and adding real fruit juice. 


Talking Rain Names New CFO

Sparkling Ice exec

Talking Rain Beverage Co., maker of the Sparkling Ice brand, has tapped Luke Fisher as its new CFO. He has spent nearly a decade with Talking Rain and will now lead the company’s finance, technology and risk management teams while spearheading sustainability initiatives.

During his tenure at Talking Rain, Fisher led several improvement efforts that led to enhanced operating efficiencies, customer service and data-based decision making. Prior to joining the beverage company, he served as corporate controller for Icicle Seafoods.

[Read more: "The Best New Products Worthy of Retailer, Consumer Attention"]

“Luke has played a prominent role in our organization for years,” said CEO Ken Sylvia. “I’m excited for Luke as he and his team work to optimize our existing platforms, implement strategies to transform our business, and provide financial leadership to our organization.”  

Fisher said he is looking forward to his elevated responsibilities. “My focus will continue to be driving sustainable growth at Talking Rain, along with overseeing our operating platform, ensuring we are putting forward the best approach to meet the needs of our customers,” he remarked.

Seattle, Wash.-based Talking Rain offers a variety of brands, including Sparkling Ice water, Sparkling Ice +Caffeine, Sparkling Ice Superfruit and Talking Rain AQA.


How Retailers Can Drive Frozen Food Purchases

NFRA Reveals 2021 Golden Penguin Winners

While inflationary prices are prompting many shoppers to change the way they buy groceries, the steadfast frozen food aisle is still presenting opportunities for retailers. Frozen food has experienced above-average inflation, but 79% of consumers believe frozen foods are cost effective, according to Anne-Marie Roerink, principal with market research firm 210 Analytics, and frozen items are still maintaining high shares.

“It is important to position frozen food as great value — not just great price — by combining the notion of cost effective with the versatility, convenience and the lack of food waste offered by the category,” wrote Roerink.

Frozen meal ingredients and meal solutions can easily be highlighted as meal backups for busy consumers, and Americans that are tired of scratch cooking but wary of high-priced restaurant meals can also be targeted with the convenience factor of frozen meals. Frozen dinners/entrees, breakfast items, snacks and appetizers are seeing above-average performance and can easily be marketed as delivering convenient, nutritious solutions across meal occasions.

Additionally, leveraging creative promotional approaches can help drive trial and purchase frequency even as supply chain issues continue plaguing the grocery industry. According to Roerink, these can be shorter promotions or cross-promotions that link frozen item discounts with other frozen items or items elsewhere in the store.

As for the future of frozen, Roerink recommends ideating, delighting and surprising shoppers as frozen food will continue to catch consumers’ eyes in the remainder of 2022.


Pop Up Grocer Returns to Hospitality Space

Hoxton Chicago Teaser

Temporary store concept Pop Up Grocer has now popped up in the world of hospitality, with stores located in the lobbies of Hoxton Hotels in the U.S. 

The retailer described the move as a “full-circle moment for Pop Up Grocer,” since the brand got its start at The Hoxton in late 2018 when the very first Pop Up Grocer openedinside the boutique hotel chain’s location in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y. To mark the occasion, Pop Up Grocer is giving away a two-night stay at any U.S. Hoxton Hotel to one of its loyal community members.

Pop Up Grocer stores can now be found in the lobbies of Hoxton LA, Portland, Chicago and Brooklyn, where shoppers can enjoy an assortment of on-the-go treats curated by Pop Up Grocer founder Emily Schildt.

The concept also recently revealed that it would be in Denver Sept. 30-Oct. 30, and that it would soon open its first permanent flagship store in its hometown of New York City. 


CVS Chosen as Exclusive Retail Partner for Teal Pumpkin Project

Teal pumpkin

To make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for children with allergies, CVS Pharmacy is teaming up with the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) group. Through this partnership, CVS is the exclusive retail partner for FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project 2022.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is an annual effort that helps children with food allergies better navigate trick or treating. People can participate by placing a teal-colored pumpkin on their doorstep to show that they are handing out non-food goodies and food-allergy safe treats.

This Halloween season, CVS stores will offer nearly 50 food-allergy safe products across 4,500 stores, with select offerings available at The retailer will display in-store signage to help shoppers find such food and nonfood items and is offering on-demand video content and resources on its website.

“As consumers shop at CVS Pharmacy this Halloween season, we believe it is our responsibility to offer them safe and smart choices for their families, friends, and neighbors seeking allergy-friendly options,” said Brian Eason, VP of merchandising for CVS Health. “We know healthier happens together, and our partnership with FARE provides an opportunity to ensure Halloween is a more inclusive holiday, in addition to bringing awareness to the important mission of the Teal Pumpkin Project."

Added FARE’s CEO Dr. Sung Poblete:“The number of children with food allergies has risen dramatically over the past 20 years, and our Teal Pumpkin Project will be amplified this year through CVS’ ability to help parents and caregivers identify safe treats and reach even more children by making it easier to find these options at select store locations.” 

According to FARE, one in 13 children in the U.S. lives with food allergies and many others are impacted by food intolerances.

With its CVS Pharmacy subsidiary operating almost 10,000 locations nationwide, Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health is No. 7 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Fareway Opens 1st Stand-Alone Meat Market in Minnesota

Fareway Ribbon Cutting in Luverne

After releasing plans to renovate a former W-2’s Quality Meats store in May, Fareway Stores Inc. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week for the new Fareway Meat Market, in Luverne, Minn. Located at 220 West Main Street, the renovated 2,300-square-foot store is the first stand-alone Meat Market in Minnesota.

“We are excited for this first Fareway Meat Market in Minnesota,” said Fareway President Garrett S. Piklapp. “Thanks to local city and economic development officials and property owners for helping make this project possible. We look forward to serving and becoming an integral part of the community.”

Managed by Market Manager Brian Tieskotter, the new Fareway Meat Market provides high-quality meat with a full-service butcher counter. The new location also offers main-course options, a variety of sides, regional items and more.

Fareway has been in growth mode this year. It recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new store to be located at 8606 NE 85th in Kansas City, Mo. The location will house an approximately 8,700-square-foot Fareway Meat Market, which is expected to be complete in early spring 2023. In August, the company also agreed to purchase the existing 20,000-square-foot Brick Street Market and Café, in Bondurant, Iowa. Fareway and Brick Street Market plan to finalize the purchase and transition in early 2023.

Family-owned Fareway employs more than 12,000 associates at its more than 120 stores in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota. The Boone, Iowa-based company is No. 77 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.