The Cincinnati-based supermarket chain Kroger has entered into a pilot partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall Global platform to sell its “Our Brands” products online to consumers in China. This platform is China’s largest business-to-consumer marketplace, and helps retailers that don’t have physical operations in the country build virtual storefronts and send products to China.
The pilot will start with Kroger’s Simple Truth products, which are positioned as natural and organic, and are also the second-largest brand sold in Kroger stores. This year alone the brand generated more than $2 billion in sales, earning it the title of largest natural and organic brand in the United States, according to Kroger.
“Kroger is the world’s third largest retailer by revenue–$122.7 billion in sales in 2017,” said Yael Cosset, chief digital officer at Kroger in a news release. “We are creating the grocery retail model of the future by focusing on digital and technology.”
The partnership also supports the company’s “Restock Kroger” pillars of redefining the grocery customer experience by elevating “Our Brands” and creating customer and shareholder value through promoting top line growth via alternative revenue streams.
Rumor has it that Target and Kroger are talking about a merger. Citing unnamed sources, an article by Fast Company reports that the companies started discussing the prospect last summer, as the deal would be a boost to Target’s grocery business, while Kroger would reap the benefits of more merchandise and e-commerce.
However, CNBC is reporting that the two companies are not in talks to merge but rather are discussing Target’s acquisition of Shipt, a same-day delivery company, which occurred in December.
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New Handheld Scanner Detects Pathogens, Puts Curators at Ease
It’s that time of year again: A time when Americans, both young and old, enjoy decorating pumpkins, dressing up in outrageous costumes, visiting houses haunted with ghosts and goblins, and consuming way too much sugar. And then there’s the classic favorite, the caramel apple. I’ve never been a huge fan of the sticky treat, but many Americans just can’t get enough it.
This year’s Food Safety Consortium conference features “Preventing Listeria Workshop: A Practical Workshop on Food Safety Controls” on Tuesday, November 17. REGISTER HERE. Last year caramel apples received a huge amount of negative press as a result of a deadly Listeria outbreak that was traced back to prepackaged caramel apples from Bidart Bros (Bakersfield, CA). In February of this year, the CDC closed its investigation, and provided the final stats: 7 dead and 34 hospitalizations throughout 12 states.
Now here we are, at the height of the season for apples and sweet treats, and concerns over Listeria in caramel apples are back in the media. The good news is that industry is proceeding with caution. The Wall Street Journal reports that Kroger Co. is taking unrefrigerated caramel apples off its store shelves following a recent study that cited a higher likelihood of Listeria growth on the products when at room temperature versus under refrigeration. Published by the American Society of Microbiology, the study, “Growth of Listeria monocytogenes within a Caramel-Coated Apple Microenvironment”, found that “insertion of a stick into the apple accelerates the transfer of juice from the interior of the apple to its surface, creating a microenvironment at the apple-caramel interface where L. monocytogenes can rapidly grow to levels sufficient to cause disease when stored at room temperature”. The researchers also advise that consumers purchase refrigerated apples or eat them fresh.
Although representatives from Kroger said they think the risk of Listeria contamination is minimal, they decided to take a cautionary approach. It’s reassuring to see companies step up and take proactive tactics to mitigating risks, especially when it involves protecting consumers against another potentially deadly outbreak.