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Summertime in February: Meijer sells Michigan-grown tomatoes in winter

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS. Mich. — Meijer is sourcing tomatoes from a greenhouse that can grow them year-round, including during the famously frigid winters of the Midwest, the mass merchandise retailer said Monday.

The Coldwater, Mich., greenhouse, owned by Canada-based Mastronardi Produce, uses hydroponic technology to produce tomatoes regardless of outdoor conditions. In Michigan, tomatoes typically grow between late July and October. The greenhouse is part of a 30-acre complex of greenhouses completed in December 2011, and Mastronardi plans to double the acreage over the next two years.

"We’re proud to give Meijer customers what they’d been missing: fresh, vine-ripened, Michigan-grown tomatoes in the winter," Mastronardi Produce president Paul Mastronardi said. "Meijer is one of our oldest customers in the USA and has been a great partner for over 40 years. We have collaborated on many new items and projects like this. We talked a few years back about our idea of the Coldwater greenhouse project, and Meijer was on board before we built."

A recent in-house survey by the retailer found that 51% considered supporting local farmers the biggest benefit of buying local produce, while nationally, 48% of shoppers report looking for locally sourced products when shopping, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s "U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends Report."

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Budweiser with body

BY Barbara White-Sax

ST. LOUIS — Anheuser-Busch’s new golden amber lager Budweiser Black Crown debuted on the market in late January. The new beer, a blend of two-row caramel malt and four types of domestic hops, maintains the clean taste and high drinkability of the Budweiser label, but has more body, color and hop character than the flagship lager. It also has a slightly higher alcohol content. The beer will be sold nationwide in 12-oz. glass bottles available in 6- and 12-packs and in 22-oz. single bottles.

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As legislators push for warnings, energy drinks sales soar

BY Barbara White-Sax

The energy drink category, which has enjoyed double-digit sales and unit growth for several years, faces increasing scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has said it will consider requiring companies to disclose the amount of caffeine in the drinks and add warnings about possible side effects on labeling.

Now Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., ramped up the issue with a letter sent to the manufacturers of 14 energy drink brands, urging them to release ingredient information on the amounts of stimulants used and to provide data on any health and marketing claims made by the products.

Does regulation loom on the horizon? "A lot of politicians are pushing for changes in caffeine disclosure, and there is some risk that they could push for further restrictions, such as age-gating," said Thomas Mullarkey, an analyst at Morningstar. "The caffeine disclosure is possible, but restrictions could open the gate to regulating coffee — and that is never going to happen."

So far, the controversy has not had much of an impact on category sales. "There hasn’t been any impact. Value and volume continue to grow in the category, suggesting that consumers aren’t fazed by this," Mullarkey said.

 

 

The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Beverages Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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