Costco’s U.S. comps see slight increase in Q1
ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Costco on Tuesday reported its sales for the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year, showing only a modest 2% rise in U.S. sales over the same quarter in FY15. The company’s net comparable U.S. sales rose to $26.63 billion from $26.28 billion last year. Excluding the effects of gasoline price deflation and foreign exchange, its sales were up in the U.S. 6%.
For the entire company, including international business, comparable sales were down 1%, with the largest decrease in Canada, where comps were down 9%, largely due to the effects of foreign exchange and gas price deflation, as Canadian sales were up 9% when those factors are excluded.
Net income was $480 million, down slightly from last year’s $496 million in income. Costco plans to open one new warehouse before the end of 2015.
Virtual product labels start to hit shelves
BY Mike Troy
WASHINGTON — Consumer packaged goods companies eager to keep pace with shoppers’ desire for product ingredient transparency have embraced a major initiative branded as SmartLabel.
SmartLabel is the name given to an initiative spearheaded by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) that is designed to give consumers easy access to detailed information on ingredients and hundreds of other product attributes, such as whether food items contain ingredients from genetically modified sources.
The SmartLabel isn’t a label at all, but rather a digital solution to satisfy shoppers thirst for more information about product ingredients than could ever fit on a label. For example, each individual product participating in the SmartLabel program will have a specific landing page that contains detailed information. As is the case with the nutrition facts box on food packages, all SmartLabel landing pages are organized in a similar format, with a consistent look across products, whether the consumer is looking at a gallon of ice cream or a gallon of laundry detergent. Shoppers will access the landing page by scanning a QR code on the package, using a web search such as through Google, Yahoo or Bing, going to a participating company’s web site, or eventually through an app.
“People want more information and are asking more questions about products they buy, use and consume, and SmartLabel puts detailed information right at their fingertips,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA). “SmartLabel is a modern technology that will change how people shop and will help them get answers to questions they have on the products they purchase when they want that information.”
More than 30 major companies have committed to taking part in the transparency initiative with a few products trickling onto shelves in late 2015 and early 2016. SmartLabel is expected to really gain traction later next year and by the end of 2017 an estimated 30,000 products are expected to participate in SmartLabel. Within five years, GMA estimates that more than 80% of the food, beverage, pet care, personal care and household products that consumers buy will be using SmartLabel.
“People's relationship with food has changed dramatically and consumers now want to know more about their food, such as where it came from and what went into making it,” said J.P. Bilbrey,chairman, president and CEO The Hershey Company and chairman of GMA’s board of directors. “SmartLabel creates a way for consumers to get unprecedented access to information about what is in their food. This is what real food transparency is about.”
In addition to Hershey, Unilever is among the 30 major company’s supporting the initiative.
“As more and more consumers are looking for responsible and sustainable brands, SmartLabel can link consumers to information about how a brand integrates sustainability into its products’ ingredients and lifecycle,” said Kees Kruythoff, President of Unilever North America. “SmartLabel is an important tool for brands to provide more product information, helping build trust with consumers who are increasingly mobile and online.”
In addition to Hershey and Unilever, other CPG companies committed to using SmartLabel include, ConAgra Foods, Hormel Foods, Campbell Soup Company, Knouse Foods, Land O’Lakes, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestle, J.M. Smucker Co., Kellogg Co., General Mills, McCormick & Co., Bimbo Bakeries USA, Bruce Foods, Bumble Bee Seafoods, Ferraro USA, Flowers Foods, Reily Foods Co., Rich Products, Sunny Delight Beverages Co., Tyson Foods, Ahold USA, Topco, The WhiteWave Foods Company, Pharmavite, Clorox, Colgate and Procter & Gamble.
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