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Albertsons expands natural own brand line into non-foods

BY Michael Johnsen

As customers continue to pursue real food and natural products that are free from artificial ingredients, Albertsons earlier this week announced that it is expanding its exclusive Open Nature brand into non-food categories and expects to release more than 240 new Open Nature products in 2018.

In January, the company announced that it would introduce more than 450 new products under its O Organics line in 2018. Together, Open Nature and O Organics comprise $1.4 billion in sales.

Albertsons plans to introduce Open Nature home care products this year, which follows the recent releases of Open Nature goods in both the baby and pet food categories. Open Nature’s pet food offers both grain and grain-free options.

“We know that our customers want high-quality, clean and more natural products at affordable prices,” Geoff White, president own brands, Albertsons, said. “Whether it’s for their spouse, child or pet, we know how important it is to feel good about the food they feed their family and the products that come into their homes. We’re more committed than ever to offering customers that experience, which is why we are excited to introduce a wider variety of Open Nature products and expand the brand’s free-from approach into non-food categories.”

Open Nature launched in 2011 with approximately 100 products and a vision to provide customers with access to simple and flavorful food. Since then, more and more customers across Albertsons’ banners are enjoying Open Nature food products because they are free from 110 ingredients that consumers of natural products want to avoid, such as antibiotics, MSG-type ingredients, nitrates and preservatives like sulfites and benzoates.

Open Nature meats are free from preservatives and added hormones.

Other Albertsons own brands include Signature Select, Lucerne, Primo Taglio and Value Corner. The company’s lineup of own brands products achieved more than $11 billion in sales in fiscal year 2017.

 

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McKesson unveils Health Mart Atlas, a 6,600-strong PSAO

BY Michael Johnsen

McKesson on Thursday unveiled the largest network of community pharmacies to be called Health Mart Atlas. The San Francisco-based wholesaler has created the network out of McKesson AccessHealth and American Pharmacy Cooperative’s American Pharmacy Network Solutions. The new joint venture will manage core PSAO services, including third-party PBM and payor contracting, credentialing, central pay and MAC pricing appeals for community pharmacy, including all current AccessHealth and APNS members.

With the new joint venture, more than 6,600 pharmacies will take advantage of being a member of the nation’s largest PSAO.

“Health Mart Atlas is one more way McKesson is delivering on our commitment to community pharmacies,” Chris Dimos, president, Retail Solutions, McKesson Corporation, said. “These pharmacies are an important part of the communities they serve and they put the patient at the center of everything they do. Our model supports what community pharmacists do best, which is delivering better patient care.”

“Health Mart Atlas was created to support the success of community pharmacies given the challenges they face today – lower reimbursements, narrow networks, industry consolidation and a general sense of uncertainty. The strength of Health Mart Atlas ensures that community pharmacies are included in the right networks to continue to provide quality care to patients and perform to their highest potential as the industry evolves to value-based care models,” Eyad Farah, vice president and general manager, Health Mart Atlas, said. “We’re committed to maintaining the largest network of high performing pharmacies because we believe that when patients are given a choice, they will choose the superior care and personal touch they receive from community pharmacists.”

Health Mart Atlas is focused on making managed care easier for community pharmacy by helping to identify opportunities that are right for their needs, and giving pharmacies the time to focus on those opportunities. Health Mart Atlas also provides key partnerships with vendors such as EQuIPP, Mirixa, PrescribeWellness and RelayHealth Pharmacy to provide access to tools and solutions designed to help improve pharmacy performance.

“We are excited to join with McKesson in this joint venture to continue to level the playing field for community pharmacies,” Tim Hamrick, chief executive officer, APCI, said. “With Health Mart Atlas, our combined expertise and the strength of the Health Mart brand will help independent pharmacies across the nation face the challenges of the managed care marketplace.”

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Walmart continues to expand in-store ‘Pickup Towers’

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is expanding its modern-day — and oversized — version of a vending machine — but the new model will come with an addition.

The discounter plans to add more than 500 additional “pickup towers” to stores across the country, bringing the total to more than 700 by the end of the year. Walmart said the response to the existing 200 kiosks has been “overwhelmingly positive,” with more than half a million orders retrieved since the chain first introduced them.

Based on customer feedback, the new towers will come with pickup lockers, which will allow customers to retrieve large items, such as TVs.

“Our customers have been clear: They love the Pickup Tower. But, they also told us they wanted the ability to retrieve larger items the same way,” stated Walmart in a blog on its website.

The pickup tower — which stands 16 ft. tall and about 8 ft. wide — greets shoppers at store entrances. After placing their online order, customers receive a barcode on their digital receipt. Upon entering the store, customers scan their barcode via their smartphone on the kiosk’s digital scanner to retrieve their order. The process takes less than a minute.

With the expansion, pickup towers will be available to nearly 40% of the U.S. population, Walmart said.

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