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Wegmans considers expansion into Massachusetts

BY Michael Johnsen

SYRACUSE, N.Y. According to a weekend report in The Post-Standard, a Syracuse daily, Wegmans is considering the expansion of its grocery business into Westwood, Mass., a Boston suburb.

“We have not yet committed to the project … but it is under consideration,” Jo Natale, director of media relations for Wegmans, told the paper. “At the moment, there are no other sites in Massachusetts under consideration, but if we go forward with this one, we will likely look for others.”

According to the report, the project hinges on whether the grocer can obtain a liquor license.

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Minyards offers free prenatal prescription vitamins to expectant mothers

BY Drew Buono

DALLAS Minyard Food Stores, which also operates Sack’n Save and Carnival Food Stores, is running a free promotion in the North Texas area for mothers to be.

The company is offering free prenatal prescription vitamins to all expectant mothers for one year, which includes three months after delivery. The promotion is called “Start Life Healthy” and is available to all expectant moms as long as they bring in or ask their doctor to send a prescription for one of three types of prenatal vitamins.

The vitamins being offered are: Advanced Natalcare, Natatab Rx and NatalCare Plus, which are manufactured by Ethex.

Prescriptions will be filled one month at a time and can be transferred from another pharmacy for women who are currently on a prenatal program as long as the prescription is for one of the three selected Ethex formulations. Minyards is stating that program will save families anywhere from $20 to $50 per month, depending on the formulation selected.

Also, as part of the “Start Life Healthy” program, the company has also prepared a brochure, “How to Prepare for a Healthy Baby, Your Guide to Nutrition During Pregnancy,” that is available free from any Carnival, Minyard and Sack? Save pharmacist.

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FMI leaders stress health and wellness at annual meeting

BY DSN STAFF

LAS VEGAS Growing awareness of nutritional issues, wellness and preventive health among consumers has handed the supermarket industry a golden opportunity to build stronger ties to the U.S. population and a stronger business model, leaders of the Food Marketing Institute told members at the group’s annual meeting.

Held alongside the 2008 FMI Supermarket Pharmacy Conference, the food-store industry’s biggest annual gathering showcased the growing movement in healthier eating and wellness—and in the rapid integration of in-store supermarket pharmacies with the food offerings out front. That point was brought home in a series of speeches and seminars for both supermarket pharmacy and grocery executives, and on display among vendors on the massive trade floor of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Leaders of both FMI and its growing pharmacy division stressed the opportunity for food- and combo-store retailers to capitalize on Americans’ rising clamor for healthier eating alternatives. Consumers are demanding both nutritional advice, said FMI president and chief executive officer Tim Hammonds, and pharmacists who can bridge the gap in the supermarket between medicinal counseling and nutritionally driven wellness programs.

“Health and wellness … is a space that supermarkets can own,” Hammond told members. “This is a great opportunity … connecting the dots between health and wellness.”

Supermarkets that contain in-store pharmacies, Hammonds added, also derive “a tremendous halo effect from the pharmacist being there.”

The current economic downturn can also spell opportunity for supermarket retailers, said Hammonds, who announced plans to retire after a successor is named, following 15 years as head of the organization. “Food retailers can turn these economic challenges into benefits for consumers and the industry,” he said. “As people eat out less often, we can help revive the great American home family meal tradition.”

FMI’s decision to hold its main industry gathering and its annual pharmacy conference side-by-side gave the industry’s pharmacy leaders a chance to review health and wellness options alongside their food-store counterparts. It also gave them the chance to meet with the organization’s first vice president of pharmacy services, Catherine Polley.

Polley joined FMI in September after a career with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the American Pharmacists Association and Kmart Corp. The group’s annual pharmacy powwow was her first chance to address supermarket pharmacy leaders at the event since being named to the new post.

Addressing supermarket pharmacy leaders, Polley stressed the need to integrate pharmacy and wellness with the nutritional advantages offered by supermarkets. She also recapped the top challenges facing food-store pharmacy, including shrinking Medicaid reimbursements and patient compliance.

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