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Spartan expanding acquisition plans to cover VG’s stores in Michigan

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores on Monday announced that it has entered into a purchase agreement to acquire 17 retail grocery stores, including 15 pharmacies, from VG’s Food Center and VG’s Pharmacy, a privately held Fenton, Michigan-based retail grocery operator.

“We are very enthused to bring VG’s, a premier Michigan retail grocery operator, further into the Spartan Stores’ family,” stated Craig Sturken, Spartan chairman. This transaction follows our successful acquisitions of D&W Food Centers and Felpausch Food Centers. The VG’s stores serve communities in key Michigan markets where we have no retail presence. The Van Gilder family has been one of our best and most loyal distribution customers for nearly 50 years, and we are very proud of our long-standing relationship with them.”

Spartan expects the transaction to close near the end of its fiscal 2009 third quarter. Upon completion, the transaction is expected to increase annual retail segment sales by approximately $310 million, with annual consolidated sales increasing approximately $160 million, as VG’s is an existing distribution customer of Spartan’s.

The acquisition grows Spartan’s footprint to 101 retail supermarkets. Prior to the announcement Spartan Stores owned and operated 84 retail supermarkets in Michigan, including Family Fare Supermarkets, Glen’s Markets, D&W Fresh Markets and Felpausch Food Centers.

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Men turn to chocolate as comfort food just as often as women

BY Melissa Valliant

WATERBURY, Vt. Movies often portray broken-hearted and stressed out women gorging themselves with Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, chocolate cake or a gargantuan bag of M&Ms, but it seems they aren’t the only gender with a serious sweet tooth. According to a Brand Keys survey, men are hitting the office vending machine more than usual, due to financial and business-related stress, recent survey results collected by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company said.

All 750 men who participated in the Ben & Jerry’s survey reported eating more chocolate in the survey taken Friday through Sunday.

“There’s so little that one can actually do about the economy, and people are feeling so disconnected from the problems and the solutions that it was just interesting to see how consumers were reacting,” Robert Passikoff, president of customer loyalty firm Brand Keys, told the press. “Buying a candy bar is in fact something they can do.”

Chocolate is known for its many health benefits, despite its high amount of calories and fat. Besides the obvious advantage of being absolutely delicious, chocolate contains antioxidants and sends endorphins that reduce pain and decrease stress to the brain. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter used in many antidepressant medications, also affects the brain, often producing a more cheerful, upbeat mood.

On the other hand, a somewhat recent study by the Black Dog Institute in the Journal of Affective Disorders claims that chocolate may actually make depression worse, depending on the individual’s personality. If you’re simply a chocolate craver, you’re safe. For cravers, chocolate stimulates the dopamine system and provides an enjoyable experience, said Professor Gordon Parker, executive director of the Sydney-based Black Dog Institute. “But the emotional eaters, people who eat chocolate to relieve boredom, stress or clinical depression, are looking for an opioid effect to improve their mood.” For them, chocolate may produce an initial relief that quickly disappears, sometimes heightening their earlier, negative mood.

So what kind of guilty pleasures are people reaching for? The 750 men surveyed preferred Snickers over any other. The top ten were:

1. Snickers

2. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

3. Kit Kate Bars

4. Milky Way

5. Butterfinger

6. Baby Ruth

7. Three Musketeers

8. Mars

9. Oh Henry!

10. Hershey

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Gatorade extends its lineup with functional reformulations of Tiger sports drinks

BY Melissa Valliant

CHICAGO Gatorade is undergoing a health makeover, announced PepsiCo at this week’s National Association of Convenience Stores show in Chicago. The company will be releasing a more wholesome way to “quench your thirst” with a reformulation of Gatorade’s Tiger line of sports drinks. The line, which will be subtitled “Focus,” is to include functional ingredients that improve mental acuity.

Gatorade plans to take their health strategy further with Be-Strong, their protein-drink that competes with brands like Muscle Milk and Labrada Lean Body On The Go. The morning drink, Gatorade AM, is to be renamed “Shine” and will include non-caffeine energy ingredients.

Until this point, Gatorade had not strayed far from the sugar-packed water recipe with which it began in 1965. The only exceptions to this have been recent: the March debut of Tiger, which has more electrolytes than other Gatorade products, and last year’s release of the G2 extension with less sugar. Despite decades of the same basic formula, Gatorade remains the leader in sports drinks and is endorsed by the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, among other major professional and collegiate organizations.

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