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Walgreens files injunction to halt tobacco sales ban

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO Less than a month after San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom put his signature on a law to ban retail pharmacies from selling tobacco products, a national chain wants to stop it.

Attorneys for Walgreens have requested an emergency injunction with the San Francisco Superior Court to stop the law from going into effect and hope to have it heard Tuesday. The law is scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1.

Walgreens and several other chains have called the proposed ban unfair because it applies only to retail pharmacies, but not to big-box stores or supermarkets. The chains and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores have also questioned the law’s efficacy, saying that people will simply go elsewhere to buy tobacco products.

Health officials in neighboring Marin County have proposed a similar ban, as have officials in Boston.

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Snack category innovations help carry sales

BY Barbara White-Sax

Higher costs will no doubt affect snack sales this year, but industry experts said there’s still market potential for innovative new products and healthy offerings.

“There have been a lot of successful new introductions,” said Sheila McCusker, editor of Information Resources Inc.’s Times & Trends research reports. While newness can help products make a splash in the market, McCusker said consumers will still be watching prices carefully when shopping all grocery categories. “Innovation is critical, but affordable price points will be absolutely critical as well,” she said.

Innovation frequently means better-for-you snacks. “Consumers still care about good health when it comes to snacking,” McCusker said. “Healthy, better-for-you products have been starting to show a return,” said Jim McCarthy, president of the Snack Food Association.

“Baked potato chips have been very well received of late,” he added. “These products have been on the market for years, but we are just starting to see the promise.” Since potato chips represent $2.6 billion of snack category sales, products with lower saturated fat profiles can continue to buoy the segment.

“Frito-Lay has been on the forefront of removing transfats from their products and replacing them with healthier oils, such as sunflower oil,” McCarthy said. Snyder’s of Hanover recently introduced sunflower chips made with sunflower seeds and cooked in sunflower oil.

“Low or no salt products are gaining popularity,” McCarthy said. Frito-Lay recently introduced Pinch of Salt, a lower sodium line of products within the Lay’s Tostitos, Fritos and Ruffles brands.

“Utz Snack Co. has done well with its no-salt products, and Frito-Lay has gained share in that segment, as well,” he said.

Whole grain products—and popcorn—are other areas of growth as consumers look for products with better nutritional profiles. “Everyone has turned the heat on the whole grain side of the business. It’s a segment that has really taken off,” McCarthy said. “Per serving, these whole grain products deliver more nutrients.” He cited Herr’s as one manufacturer doing a lot with whole-grain pretzels in such flavors as pumpernickel rye and honey wheat.

As a segment, nuts also continues to grow. “We should expect to see more snack mixes with positive benefits,” McCarthy said. Kraft has had success with its Planters NUTrition brand of snack nuts specifically blended to meet nutrition and wellness needs. “It’s been a revelation that no two fats are alike, and there can be benefits to certain fats,” McCarthy said.

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Wrigley turns to Tribal DDB to help promote its U.S. brands on the Internet

BY Jenna Duncan

NEW YORK Reports said Thursday that Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., the maker of chewing gums such as Eclipse and Orbit, has named Tribal DDB Worldwide as its partner to expand promotion of its brands on the Web.

New York’s advertising company, Tribal DDB Worldwide (an arm of Omnicom Group’s DDB Worldwide), specializes in building and growing online digital campaigns for international clients.

In April, Mars and Wrigley announced a merger to form the world’s largest confectionery company. Mars bought out shares and the Wrigley business for $23 billion. Part of the deal was funded by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway company.

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