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Fresh piques stores’, consumers’ appetites

BY Barbara White-Sax

Drug store chains have an enormous appetite for consumables. Fresh food sales — defined as dairy, deli, fresh meat and fresh produce — grew nearly 13% year over year through April, according to ACNielsen data.

The desire to add more fresh foods to their stores is even driving new store formats, according to Jonathan Stack, president of Panache Cuisine, a supplier of fresh and prepared foods. “Open-air coolers are the predominant vehicle for merchandising, and we are seeing retailers adding sections that run anywhere from 4 ft. to 9 ft.,” he said. Some retailers even are experimenting with island cases positioned in the middle of the store.

Merchandising is crucial to the category’s success. “Consumers are open to purchasing fresh product from more than just traditional grocery stores. The key is for the product to be merchandised in a clean, neat manner that conveys a level of attention that proves comforting to the consumer,” said Tom Sicola, VP marketing at McLane.

Stack said that new offerings from Panache are driven by the college campus segment of his business. “Those consumers want fresh products with no preservatives and ingredients that are locally grown,” he said. “Consumers also want eco-friendly packaging.” Those products also now can be delivered on a just-in-time basis to retailers.

“Short shelf life and spoilage is always a barrier to overcome when entering the fresh arena,” Sicola said. “Our strict ordering system allows for short shelf life product, such as fruit or fresh sandwiches, to deliver with the retailer’s regular delivery, but lose minimal shelf life moving through the supply chain. We are able to leverage pricing on fresh products to offer retailers a better cost than they would be able to negotiate on their own, ensuring a larger gross margin and larger net margin as well.”

As consumers look for healthier choices, healthy fresh options continue to grow at the drug channel. “Distribution of fresher, better-for-you products has been growing,” Sicola said. “We are seeing larger demand for products like yogurt and cheese sticks.”

Hot, fresh foods are another growth area on the horizon. “There’s a lot of opportunity in the ‘hot-and-go’ arena,” Stack said. “Packaging innovations are allowing us to put sandwiches in a panini grill in the packaging so consumers can get a hot entrée in a convenient setting. With very little floor space, drug stores can set up small bistro areas that can become a traffic generator.”

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Hershey names new legal head

BY Allison Cerra

HERSHEY, Pa. — Hershey has named Leslie Turner as SVP, general counsel and secretary, effective July 9.

In her new role, Turner will lead Hershey’s legal, government relations, corporate security and corporate secretary functions. She will report to Hershey president and CEO John Bilbrey. She also will serve as a member of the company’s global leadership team.

"Leslie has significant experience working closely with corporate governance matters and brings a broad business orientation and diverse global background to this role," Bilbrey said. "She has a proven record partnering with leaders and business units to drive strong results, and she is adept at aligning legal strategy with strategic objectives and building collaborative, business-focused legal teams."

Turner joins Hershey with 25 years of legal experience. She has served as a senior legal executive providing strategic counsel, risk management and policy advice to senior business leaders of Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Most recently, Turner served as chief legal officer for Coca-Cola North America, a position she held since 2008.

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Allergy a-wear-ness

BY Barbara White-Sax

UPPER SADDLE RIVER, N.J. — A new line of products from AllerMates is helping parents of children with allergies better protect kids against exposure to unwanted allergens. AllerMates, a line of bright, fun, whimsical character-driven wristbands, dog tags and lunch boxes feature 14 original characters that help alert teachers and caregivers to a child’s allergies.


The characters represent the most common allergies (e.g., peanut, nut, gluten/wheat, milk, egg, shellfish, penicillin, insect sting, latex, pollen, fish, soy, sesame and cat) and are designed to be fun and positive. The line is supported by a website that offers tips and general information about allergies, as well fun games and activities based on the characters. Wristbands and dog tags retail for $6.99, lunch boxes sell for $19.99.

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