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Kroger to raise awareness for breast cancer as part of annual associate meeting

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI – Kroger will sponsor a Sharing Courage walk on Sept. 29 to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research during the company's Kroger Leadership Summit. The walk will conclude at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals, where Kroger associates will take the field to form a massive, human pink ribbon to show solidarity with breast cancer survivors and their allies in the fight against this deadly disease. Including local associates, their families, friends and other partners, Kroger expects nearly 7,000 to participate in this one-of-a-kind event.
 
"Our associates are proud partners in the fight against breast cancer," said Tim Massa, Kroger's group VP human resources and labor relations. "One in eight women is diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes. And when somebody is diagnosed, everyone around them is impacted. We want our associates and our communities to know that we're in this together."
 
This breast cancer awareness walk and ribbon formation reinforces the theme of Kroger's Leadership Summit – that Kroger associates, both individually and collectively, can "Make a Difference" in the lives of their customers and their communities.
 
This is the 10th year of Kroger's Sharing Courage campaign, held annually during the month of October. Since its inception, Kroger and its customers, associates and supporting partners have raised more than $30 million to support local breast cancer initiatives.
 
In addition to Kroger's planned activities on Sept. 29, Kroger on Sept. 30 will light its downtown Cincinnati headquarters building pink, an annual event in partnership with Yoplait.
 
The Kroger Leadership Summit includes managers from every store, manufacturing facility, distribution center and office in the country where they discuss the company's growth strategy.
 
 
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Gummies, probiotics keep VMS afloat

BY Richard Monks

Two distinct trends have helped keep sales of vitamins, minerals and supplements moving forward over the past year.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

While IRI data showed that the continued popularity of gummy supplements and the growing number of consumers incorporating probiotics into their diet helped sales in the multibillion dollar category increase by 3.2% for the 52 weeks ended June 14, the performance of these particular products far outpaced category growth.

iHealth’s probiotic formula Culturelle, for example, saw its sales increase by 22.1%, while two other probiotics — Reckitt Benckiser’s Schiff Digestive Advantage and Renew Life Inc.’s Ultimate Flora — turned in 20.1% and 27.8% increases, respectively. Sales of another probiotic — Bayer’s Trubiotics — went up 13%.

“Consumers are embracing probiotics in order to manage digestive health issues,” said Tim Toll, chief customer officer at Pharmavite, which offers several different probiotic formulas, including the recently introduced Nature Made Advanced Dual Support.

Scientific research suggests that probiotics do more than just ensure good digestion. Studies over the years have shown that these living bacteria also improve immune health, and in recent months researchers have suggested that probiotics increase the bio-availability of several vital nutrients and may play a role in improving a person’s mood.

Yet some wonder how long the probiotics market will continue to grow.

“Remember fish oil,” TABS Group founder and CEO Kurt Jetta said. “It made big gains and then just stopped. Probiotics will probably do the same. It’s not there yet, but it is likely going to happen.”

Meanwhile, supplements offered in gummy form continue to flourish, with data from a recent AC Nielsen Scan Track showing that these products now account for about $1 of every $8 spent in the category. The research found that sales of adult gummies, like those marketed under Pharmavite’s Nature Made brand and Church & Dwight’s Vitafusion label, grew by 25% over the last year.

The growing demand for gummy vitamins has led Church & Dwight to ramp up production of Vitafusion and its Lil’ Critters gummies for children with the debut of a new production facility in York, Pa.

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Walmart buys Silicon Valley solution for Sam’s Club

BY Mike Troy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has returned to its acquisitive ways in Silicon Valley with the purchase of engagement and insights platform PunchTab, a four-year old company with talent and technology to help the retailer’s Sam’s Club division better personalize offers.
 
Jeremy King, head of WalmartLabs, and Jamie Iannone, president and CEO of Samsclub.com announced the deal to acquire PunchTab in a joint statement on the @WalmartLabs site. The deal involves the purchase of PunchTab’s and six employees who will join WalmartLabs including founder Mehdi Ait Oufkir.
 
“We’ll use the technology to enhance our existing 'customer relationship management' tools, or the technology behind how we reach customers across e-mail, on our websites, on mobile phones and in our physical stores,” King and Iannone said in the statement.
 
The deal is the 15th acquisition @WalmartLabs’ has made in the last four years, although prior to PunchTab it had been relatively quiet on the acquisition front.
 
“PunchTab’s first task is to leverage its software platform to enhance the ways we tailor offers to Sam’s Club members across our clubs, our mobile app and on Samsclub.com. Like most of the technology we build at @WalmartLabs, we plan to apply what we build for Sam’s Club to Walmart’s other businesses, including Walmart.com,” according to King and Iannone.
 
PunchTab was founded in 2011 by Mehdi Ait Oufkir, who was an early member of YouSendIt.com, helping to scale the company to 18 million registered users.

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