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Baltimore expands ‘Virtual Supermarket Program’ to better serve food deserts

BY Antoinette Alexander

BALTIMORE, Md. — In an effort to increase food access to neighborhoods designated as food deserts, Baltimore has expanded its Virtual Supermarket Program to two additional communities: Perkins Homes and Wayland Village Senior Apartments.

“This expansion is about making life better for too many Baltimore City families who lack easy access to groceries, more than 30,000 of which are our children,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “That is absolutely unacceptable to me. In partnership with our community and business partners, we are taking action to help residents in some of our most challenged neighborhoods access healthy foods to feed their families.”

Rawlings-Blake and interim health commissioner Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey joined representatives from Klein’s Family Markets and ShopRite of Howard Park, as well as members of the community, to announce the expansion of the Virtual Supermarket Program, which provides online ordering and delivery options.
 


Approximately 20% of Baltimore City residents live in food deserts, which are defined as areas where the distance to a supermarket exceeds a fourth of a mile, where the median household income is at or below 185% of the federal poverty level, and over 40% of households lack access to a vehicle.
 


The Virtual Supermarket Program — the flagship component of Baltimarket, the Baltimore City Health Department’s suite of community-based food access and food justice programs — enables residents to place grocery orders online, and offers free delivery to designated community sites. Residents can pay for groceries using cash, credit, debit, or EBT/SNAP. Baltimore’s Virtual Supermarket is the first community-based program in the country to accept EBT/SNAP for online grocery ordering and delivery.
 


Through this expansion, neighborhood food advocates will be available to assist residents with online ordering at Power House Community Center at Perkins Homes and at Wayland Village Senior Apartments. 
  


ShopRite of Howard Park will deliver groceries orders to Power House on Tuesday afternoons and to Wayland Village on Wednesday mornings.
 


The expansion to these locations marks the third and fourth Virtual Supermarket Program sites in Baltimore; and ShopRite of Howard Park is the second ShopRite store to partner with the Baltimore City Health Department to offer the Virtual Supermarket Program.

“My family and I are committed to serving the community by providing fresh food at great prices, and we are excited to extend this service to our Baltimore neighbors through the Virtual Supermarket Program,” said Marshall Klein, VP of retail operations for Klein's Family Markets, which owns and operates nine ShopRite stores in Maryland. “Customers placing online orders will receive all of ShopRite's weekly sales and traditional low prices, and each order will be hand selected by our team of personal shoppers. We are proud to join the Baltimarket program in its mission to provide fresh, healthy food to the City of Baltimore.”
 


This past summer, the Virtual Supermarket Program was re-launched in partnership with ShopRite of Glen Burnie — which is operated by Collins Family Markets — with two sites in the Cherry Hill neighborhood: Cherry Hill Senior Manor and the Cherry Hill Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

The Virtual Supermarket is made possible through the support of United Way of Central Maryland and the Kaiser Foundation.
 

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Kalorama Information lists ‘Top Five Trends in Healthcare in 2014’

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Telemedicine and a growing demand for biopharmaceutical medications were among the top trends in health care in 2014, according to Kalorama Information.

"There were many issues and trends, but we think these five were the most interesting and significant," said Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information.  "These were the events that significant companies will have to adjust to."

Kalorama Information’s "Top Five Trends in Healthcare in 2014" includes:

  • BRIC Growth Good But Not As Good – BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) demonstrated economic growth that was faster than the United States markets but not as fast as in previous years. For instance Brazil at 2.5%, China at 7.7% – high growth but not as high as 2010 (both countries at 10% growth). Kalorama believes this will impact manufacturer plans to use these emerging markets to counter slow revenue growth in developed markets.
  • The Next-Generation Sequencer Evolves Into Clinical Medicine – there is high interest in the healthcare industry in using lower cost, smaller size and fast DNA sequencing for better understanding of disease and specific abnormalities, particularly in enhancing the study of tumors. The increased use of sequencing may enhance some existing test products and may compete with others.
  • Interest in Patient Monitoring Solutions and Telemedicine – for better outcomes and more efficient care. Remote patient monitoring systems inside hospitals or connecting health care workers to patients at home continue to demonstrate revenue growth and customer demand. The market is expected to reach 29 billion by year-end and will grow at a rate of 9% for the next four years, according to Kalorama.
  • Demand For Biopharmaceutical Production – the need to produce new biopharmaceutical drugs is driving the market for the companies that will handle the production and for the equipment used in the process. The Biopharmaceutical Production market demonstrated 11% revenue growth and reached $41 billion this year, according to Kalorama's estimates. With the investment in recent years in biotechnology companies, this type of growth is expected to continue.
  • Medical Device Companies Grow By Buying – several large device mergers were concluded or announced in 2014, most notably Medtronic and Covidien. In addition to several acquisitions by Stryker, Zimmer announced this year the acquisition of Biomet Inc. Becton Dickinson announced it would purchase CareFusion.

Kalorama stated that these trends cut across healthcare industries and will alter the way the market for healthcare products and services looks in 2015.  While IVD makers wonder how sequencing figures into their strategies, device companies may look for the next acquisition target to counter what competitors have done.  Health care systems will be eyeing telemedicine solutions, and investors will seek new biopharm drug companies with potential, and those companies will try to obtain production sources.

The healthcare market research firm publishes 40 to 50 studies every year. 
 

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IBM: Mobile consumers boost online Christmas sales

BY Dan Berthiaume

NEW YORK — Christmas Day saw both strong online and mobile sales. Key Christmas Day trends reported by the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark include an 8.3% year-over-year increase in online sales.
 
In addition, mobile traffic accounted for 57.1% of all online traffic on Christmas Day, an increase of 18.6% from the prior year. Mobile sales accounted for 34.8% of all online sales on Christmas Day, an increase of 20.4% year-over-year.
 
Smartphones drove 40.6% of total online traffic, more than two and a half times that of tablets, which accounted for 15.9% of all online traffic. However, tablet sales accounted for 18.4% of online sales, compared to smartphones, which accounted for 16.3% of total online sales, a difference of 12.4%. 
 
Desktop PC traffic still represented 42.6% of all online traffic, and 65.2% of all online sales. Further, consumers spent more money on their desktops with an average order value of $107.72 compared to their mobile devices at $88.70 a difference of 21.4%.
 
Apple iOS once again led the way in mobile shopping this holiday season, outpacing Android across three key metrics: 
 
  • Average Order Value: Apple iOS users averaged $97.28 per order compared to $67.40 for Android users, a difference of 44.3%.
  • Online Traffic: Apple iOS traffic accounted for 39.1% of total online traffic, more than double that of Android, which drove 17.7% of all online traffic.
  • Online Sales: Apple iOS sales accounted for 27% of total online sales, nearly four times that of Android, which drove 7.6% of all online sales.   
And as marketers continue to rely on social channels to drive brand loyalty and sales, IBM analyzed trends across two leading sites, Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook referrals drove an average of $89.80 per order, while Pinterest referrals averaged $99.86 per order.
 
Average order value was $100.33, up 6.2% from 2013. Shoppers also purchased an average of 3.5 items per order, down 1.4%. IBM says this trend may indicate that shoppers are becoming more comfortable and digitally savvy in how they use online coupons and rebates to secure the best bargains. 

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