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Chicago Grid has a piece about HarvesTime Foods, a one-store Chicago independent grocery store currently going up against increased competition from Whole Foods and Mariano's, stores that have a similar food-driven orientation. According to the story, "Since 2011, the space occupied by independent grocers like HarvesTime has dropped 27 percent citywide, according to a recent study by Mid-America Real Estate. In the same period, gourmet grocery stores — a category that includes Whole Foods and Mariano’s Fresh Market — increased their floor space by 60 percent, the study found."

The key to HarvesTime's continued growth, the story says, has been a relentless emphasis on local and specialty foods. "Increasingly, the product mix is a significant factor in that growth," the story says, adding that "the Coke products that once dominated an entire aisle in the store now take up a few feet of shelf space, replaced by a diverse array of local and niche products. There’s the gourmet ice cream made just a few blocks away. Searing-hot scorpion pepper sauce … Sweets from Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria." And the company is hoping that enduring relationships - former with both suppliers and customers - will provide apathy to sustainability as competition gets tougher.

• The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Diamond Foods and two former executives with the company - former CEO Michael Mendes and former CFO Steven Neil - for what it said was "an accounting scheme to falsify walnut costs in order to boost earnings and meet estimates by stock analysts. Diamond Foods reportedly has agreed to pay $5 million to settle the SEC’s charges.
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