business news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

CNN reports that 300-store Grocery Outlet is planning an initial public offering (IPO) that it hopes will raise $100 million that can be used to fuel further growth.

The story says that “Grocery Outlet is profitable. It has posted 15 straight years of sales growth at stores open at least a year and reached $2.3 billion in revenue a year ago. And it doesn't even sell online … The company plans to open more than 30 stores in 2019. In the long run, it says it can open 400 more stores in its existing states — California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Pennsylvania — and another 1,600 stores in neighboring states.”

• Seattle-based PCC Community Markets announced yesterday that “it will be the first grocery store in the world to pursue Living Building Challenge (LBC) Petal Certification. The Living Building Challenge, run by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), is the world’s most rigorous green building standard. To date, no other grocer has successfully pursued LBC certification.”

Brenna Davis, the cooperative’s VP of Social and Environmental Responsibility, said in a prepared statement, “We set high standards for the food we allow on our shelves and we believe that our stores should be held to equally high standards. In partnership with the International Living Future Institute, we are reimagining how grocery stores are built — using less water and energy, designing refrigeration systems that have a reduced climate impact, utilizing building materials that protect human health, and creating spaces that nurture a deeper sense of connection to the environment and our community.”

The company says that the “Living Building Challenge is organized into seven performance areas: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. PCC will pursue three of the seven Petals — as required for Petal Certification — across its five new stores: Ballard and West Seattle, opening later this year, and Bellevue, Downtown Seattle and Madison Valley, opening in 2020.”

Reuters reports that a proposed class action suit has been filed against Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist, “accusing the country's three major packaged-tuna brands of deceiving them into thinking their tuna is caught only through ‘dolphin-safe’ fishing practices.”

The plaintiffs say that “the defendants employ fishing techniques that kill or harm dolphins, and do not always use safer, costlier pole-and-line and other methods used by such rivals as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The consumers said this makes the defendants' dolphin-safe labels false and misleading, violating the laws of several U.S. states including California, Florida, New Jersey and New York. They also said StarKist violated federal racketeering law through its alleged dealings with foreign fishing companies.”

The story says neither Bumble Bee nor Chicken of the Sea commented on the suit. “StarKist said it does not discuss pending litigation, but would not buy tuna ‘caught in association with dolphins’.”

CNBC reports that “a federal judge is siding with public health groups suing the Food and Drug Administration to begin reviewing thousands of e-cigarettes on the U.S. market. The ruling handed down Wednesday in district court states that the agency shirked its legal duty when it postponed reviewing all U.S. vaping products by several years.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other groups filed the federal lawsuit in Maryland last year. The groups say the lack of FDA oversight has led to an explosion in underage vaping by teenagers, threatening to hook a generation of Americans on nicotine.”

At the same time, the Wall Street Journal reports that “North Carolina officials are suing Juul Labs Inc., accusing the e-cigarette startup of targeting teenagers and misrepresenting the strength and health risks from the addictive nicotine in its products.” The suit accuses “Juul of fueling vaping activity among minors by deliberately designing the device and its flavors in a way to make them more appealing to that age group.”

According to the story, the complaint “is the first state action against the San Francisco company, whose sleek, nicotine-packed vaporizers with fruit and dessert flavors such as mango and creme have fueled a surge in the e-cigarette market.”
KC's View: