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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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Spartan Stores, General Mills partner to provide heart-healthy services

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. To aid in the early detection of heart disease and to promote healthy behavior and healthy eating, Spartan Stores and General Mills are partnering during the month of September to provide a number of heart-friendly health-related services across all of Spartan’s grocery-store banners, including D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare, Felpausch and Glen’s pharmacies.

“Beginning September 3 and running through September 26, select D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare, Felpausch and Glen’s Pharmacies will offer free heart healthy assessment screenings as well as blood pressure, hypertension and pulse rate checks,” stated Eddie Garcia, director pharmacy of Spartan Stores.

The services and offerings include a heart healthy assessment screening with the pharmacist, education on heart-friendly eating, samples of and coupons for heart-healthy products and a pedometer. In addition, each one of the Spartan stores will be offering a sweepstakes for a $100 gift card per store.

Pharmacies of all D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare, Felpausch and Glen’s locations will offer the month-long program beginning Sept. 3.

“General Mills is helping make lives healthier in numerous ways, including increasing people’s intake of whole grain, delivering important nutrients, providing foods that contribute to a healthy heart, and providing low-calorie or portion-controlled options to help them manage their weight,” stated David White of General Mills. “We are proud to partner with Spartan Stores to help educate consumers about making heart healthy food choices.”

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