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Safeway extends use of reusable product containers to fresh produce

BY Michael Johnsen

PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway on Wednesday announced that it has transitioned to using reusable product containers, rather than corrugated boxes, to ship many types of produce from the farm fields, through the distribution channel and to the final store destination.

This transition eliminated the use of more than 17 million pounds of corrugated boxes, the grocer reported.

Safeway has used RPCs for decades on many of its consumer brand categories, including bread, milk and soda. The company began testing RPCs in its distribution system for fresh wet-pack produce — fruits and vegetables kept on ice until they reach the store — in early 2010.

Making the transition for produce was a more complicated process than for other products because, to make it effective and decrease cardboard usage, Safeway’s distributors and grower partners also had to commit to the switch. The transition continued throughout 2011.

Today, many types of produce travel from the field, to the distributor, to Safeway’s product distribution centers and to the final store location in RPCs. The company’s major supplier of RPCs, IFCO Systems, said Safeway’s implementation of RPC usage to decrease waste was the fastest and most aggressive program rollout to date.

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Coupon Network unveils ‘Print to Win a Jackpot’ digital couponing game

BY Antoinette Alexander

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — CouponNetwork.com, a provider of digital and printable coupons powered by Catalina Marketing, announced on Wednesday the launch of its “Print to Win a Jackpot” sweepstakes taking place this summer. 

The "Print to Win a Jackpot" sweepstakes is a weekly digital couponing game that gives CouponNetwork.com users a chance to win up to $10,000 a week just by printing coupons. The contest started June 11 and concludes on Sept. 2, with 12 weekly winners.  
 
“’The Print to Win a Jackpot’ sweepstakes is another couponing first for CouponNetwork.com,” stated Joe Henson, general manager of CouponNetwork.com. “The marriage of a social game with couponing is a natural. We know our couponing audience loves casual and social games. And we know brands relish the deep, ongoing engagement games create. Gamifying digital coupons is an important part of our overall social marketing strategy."
 
In "The Print to Win a Jackpot" sweepstakes, users and their friends determine just how big the prize will grow each week. The weekly prize pool starts at $1,000 and grows by a nickel every time a CouponNetwork.com user prints three coupons. Once a week, a random winner is selected from the pool of players who have printed three coupons. Players are encouraged to share the game with friends to make the weekly pool grow.

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National Rural Health Association backs Medicare Pharmacy Transparency bill

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Rural Health Association on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., strongly supporting the bill she introduced in March — H.R. 4215, the Medicare Pharmacy Transparency and Fair Auditing Act. The bill helps safeguard patient access to independent community pharmacists and addresses abusive pharmacy auditing practices, while allowing legitimate Medicare Part D anti-fraud oversight to continue.

“With approximately 50% of independent community pharmacies located in towns with populations of 20,000 people or less, preserving access to pharmacy services in rural America is an important reason to support this bipartisan legislation," noted Douglas Hoey, CEO National Community Pharmacists Association, regarding the letter. “The National Rural Health Association is the leading advocate for rural healthcare concerns, so its support is noteworthy," he added. "This common-sense legislation will help ensure that when a pharmacist dispenses the right medication to the right patient at the right time as prescribed by a doctor, it isn’t a punishable offense simply because of a harmless clerical discrepancy. In addition, the bill returns the focus of pharmacy audits to their original intent of uncovering real fraud and requires that any funds collected during an audit be passed back to Medicare and beneficiaries, not retained by the middleman.”
 
In its letter, NRHA argues that the current pharmacy benefit manager business model must be reined in. The letter goes on to explain that “the obstacles faced by healthcare providers and patients in rural areas are vastly different and greater than those in other geographic areas.” As a consequence, the letter concludes, “inadequate access to a community pharmacist can reduce medication adherence and by definition, limits the ability of patients to benefit from the healthcare services provided by community pharmacies.”
 
Audit reforms have been enacted in nearly 20 states on a bipartisan basis, according to NCPA. Most recently, reforms have been enacted in Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah.

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