• Albertsons announced that it is partnering with European food tech company Picadeli to offer a modular store-in-store salad bar concept that initially will be launched in six Safeway, ACME and Kings locations across Washington, D.C., Maryland, and New Jersey.
Here's the Picadeli pitch: "Its next-level salad bar is customized for each location, with ingredients specifically selected for each market. Its technology creates efficiencies that reduce food waste, while reducing labor, lowering break-even and increasing profitability. With its innovative technology and patented hardware, it prioritizes food safety, with the design comprised of hygiene first materials, technology-enabled shielding hoods, automatic hand sanitizer and bowl dispensers. Its innovative mounting system for utensils ensures that the grip is never in contact with food, and that products are not mixed. The digital management system allows for full traceability of its supply chain and operation, as well as QR-code scanning to ensure products do not stay out longer than allowed, signaling the need for refilling and AI re-ordering."
The announcement notes that in Europe, Picadeli already partners with Carrefour, EuroGarages, Franprix, Rewe, 7 Eleven, Coop, ICA, and Kesko.
• The Wall Street Journal reports that "about 1,400 Kellogg Co. unionized workers ratified a new five-year contract on Tuesday, concluding a 2½ month strike with a deal that the union says maintains workers’ cost-of-living raises and guarantees no plants will be shut down for about five years.
"The new contract includes pay raises, new health benefits, pension multiplier increases and cost-of-living adjustments to wages, according to an outline of the agreement from the company … The strike among plant workers in Omaha, Neb.; Battle Creek, Mich.; Memphis, Tenn., and Lancaster, Pa., had been ongoing since Oct. 5. The workers earlier this month rejected a tentative contract agreement. Employees at those four plants make the company’s various ready-to-eat cereals."
• From USA Today:
"Rite Aid said it plans to close 63 stores over the next several months they say will help cut costs and 'drive improved profitability.'
"The closures were confirmed during the pharmacy chain's third-quarter earnings call on Tuesday by CEO Heyward Donigan.
"'The decision to close the stores is one we take very seriously as we evaluate the impact on our associates, our customers and our communities,' Donigan said."
• National Law Review reports that "a class-action lawsuit filed by Spencer Sheehan which alleged that Whole Foods deceptively labeled its 'Oats & Flax Instant Oatmeal' (sold under the 365 Everyday Value brand) has been dismissed without prejudice.
"The lawsuit brought a variety of causes of action against Whole Foods based on alleged consumer deception related to (1) the labeling of an ingredient as 'dehydrated cane juice solids' instead of sugar and (2) the whole grain content of the oatmeal."
The story notes that the court "stated that there was no reason to believe that a reasonable consumer would interpret cane juice to mean fruit juice and that to the extent that the raspberries on the front cover implied that the product contained real raspberries, this notion would be quickly dispelled by the ingredient list". The court applied the same standard to the question of whether Whole Foods was being misleading about whole grain content, and "the case is another reminder that courts will view allegations of consumer deception in the context of all the information available to consumers."
• From the New York Times this morning:
"The warnings started to stream in early this fall: Shop early or you may not get your gifts on time … Despite early fears, however, holiday shoppers have received their gifts mostly on time. Many consumers helped themselves by shopping early and in person. Retailers ordered merchandise ahead of time and acted to head off other bottlenecks.
"And delivery companies planned well, hired enough people and built enough warehouses to avoid being crushed by a deluge of packages at the last minute, as the Postal Service was last year.
"The vast majority of packages delivered by UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service this holiday season are gifts destined for residential addresses, according to ShipMatrix, a software company that services the logistics industry. And nearly all have arrived on time or with minimal delays, defined as a few hours late for express packages and no more than a day late for ground shipments. The UPS and the Postal Service delivered about 99 percent of their packages on time by that measure between Nov. 14 and Dec. 11, and FedEx was close behind at 97 percent, according to ShipMatrix."
• From CNN:
"The Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday it is investigating a multistate outbreak of listeria infections connected to Fresh Express packaged salads, which announced a recall of some of its products.
"Ten people have become ill, 10 have been hospitalized and one person has died across eight states in the listeria outbreak. The illnesses stretch as far back as July 2016, with the most recent coming this October, the FDA said.
"Fresh Express announced a recall Monday of some of its packaged salad products made at the company's facility in Streamwood, Illinois, because they have the potential to be contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes. The company advised consumers not to eat, sell or serve a long list of its products with the codes Z324 to Z350 printed on the package. The recalled salad items were distributed through retailers in the Northeast and Midwest as well as in Canada, the company said."