Posts Tagged “Safeway”

Walmart, Target are the Largest Retailers in the USA

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DSCN0416With $328 billion in U.S. retail sales, Walmart holds a dominant position as the largest retailer in the United States.

In 2012 Walmart had higher sales numbers than the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-largest retailers combined, according to STORES magazine’s annual report on the top 100 retailers in the United States. The U.S. accounts for approximately 70 percent of Walmart’s $467 billion in worldwide sales.

Kroger, with more than $92 billion in sales, came in second on the list. The Cincinnati-based company operates entirely in the U.S. and saw a 6.6 percent increase in sales from 2011 to 2012.

Target, another retailer operating entirely in the U.S., came in third, with just under $72 billion in sales and a 5.1 percent increase over 2011.

Costco, another large-format retailer, came in fourth at $71 billion in sales, but it also saw a 10.6 percent increase in sales over 2011.

According to the report, supermarkets on the Top 100 list had average sales of $21.2 billion in 2012.

Safeway, based in Pleasanton, CA, had the ninth-largest sales numbers for 2012. The $37.5 billion in U.S. sales accounted for nearly 89 percent of it’s global total.

A complete listing of the top 100 U.S. retailers is available at

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Wal-Mart Working to Upgrade its Handling of Produce

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WalMartYou buy a tasteless cantaloupe at Wal-Mart, or a sour grape sold as being sweet, just bring your receipt back to the store and they’ll refund you money, under a new police in U.S. stores selling produce.  This according to a recent story by Reuters news service.

As the largest grocer and seller of produce in the United States, Wal-Mart  has already lowered prices on produce as it tries to get its shoppers, many of whom are on limited budgets, to buy more healthy fare.   The huge chain, which made a splash in produce nearly 20 years ago, but has since seen its produce departments lose some of their shine, says it is now working on getting fresher produce to its stores more quickly and training its staff to do a better job of selling the goods.

Walmart is buying directly from growers and relying on its own distribution centers and trucking systems to get product from the field to shelf faster.  It has produce experts working with farmers in key growing regions and aims to double its sales of locally grown produce by December 2015.

Buying more local produce and cutting supply chain costs have helped Walmart keep a lid on prices, which has been key in its push to stay ahead of rivals that include traditional grocers such as Kroger Co and drugstores such as Walgreen Co. Walmart started to see sales gains in produce earlier this year after it began making improvements in produce handling.

Other chains, such as Safeway Inc and Texas’ H-E-B, have already offered guarantees on their produce, but Walmart’s push will be the biggest as it is the nation’s biggest retailer.

Walmart customers not satisfied with the produce can bring their receipt back to the store for a refund. Walmart said the shoppers will not need to bring back the produce to qualify.

To ensure that fresh produce makes it to the stores, Walmart said unnamed third-party service providers will do weekly checks in more than 3,400 of its stores selling produce. Walmart said it would benchmark itself and its competitors week over week.

Walmart also said it recently began a produce training program for 70,000 employees. Store managers, market managers and produce department managers are set to learn more about handling fruits and vegetables. Quality guides for workers will illustrate how to identify top produce, the company said.

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Truckers Hauling Produce in RPCs for Safeway

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If you haul produce for the supermarket chain Safeway, you may have noticed RPCsfresh fruits and vegetable being hauled are loaded into your refrigerated trailer using reusable product containers (RPCs).  The chain’s press release states it allows more product to be loaded into the trailer.  It does not address the question of whether this adds more weight to the load, and if so, whether the truck is paid more for that additional weight (yeah, right!).  Regardless RPCs are good for the envirnoment.  Here’s the Safeway press release and you can decide for yourself.


Safeway Inc. announced that it has transitioned to using reusable product containers rather than corrugated boxes to ship many types of produce from the farm fields, through the distribution channel and to final store destination. This transition eliminated the use of over 17 million pounds of corrugated boxes.

RPCs can be stacked higher and more densely than traditional boxes, allowing for more efficient shipping and requiring fewer trips to transport the same amount of product. This, in turn, decreases trucking emissions and traffic volume.

Safeway, which has introduced a broad range of successful sustainability practices across its operations, has used RPCs for decades on many of its consumer brand categories, including bread, milk and soda. The company began testing RPCs in its distribution system for fresh wet-pack produce — fruits and vegetables kept on ice until they reach the store — in early 2010.

Making the transition for produce was a more complicated process than for other products because, to make it effective and decrease cardboard usage, Safeway’s distributors and grower partners also had to commit to the switch. The transition continued throughout 2011.

Today, many types of produce travel from the field to the distributor to Safeway’s product distribution centers and to the final store location in RPCs. The company’s major supplier of RPCs, IFCO Systems, said that Safeway’s implementation of RPC usage to decrease waste was the fastest and most aggressive program rollout to date.

Safeway’s vice president of transportation, Tom Nartker, said that employing environmentally friendly methods of product distribution is part of Safeway’s overall commitment to sustainable business practices.

“This expansion into produce is a natural extension of best practices in logistics,” Mr. Nartker said in a press release. “Safeway will continue to look for opportunities to expand the usage of RPCs into additional categories to have an even greater positive environmental impact.”

The use of reusable, sustainable containers not only keeps non-recyclable shipping containers out of the supply chain, but it also has an even greater positive environmental impact.

According to Safeway, the positive environmental effects include eliminating the use of over 17 million pounds of corrugated boxes, avoiding the harvesting of approximately 114,000 trees and reduced emissions of 37,518 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the environment, equivalent to removing 6,872 passenger cars off the road.

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Group is Seeking to Attract More Produce Truckers

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Better treatment of truckers was a primary theme at a session titled, Transportation Best Practices for the Produce Industry, held during the annual show of the United Fresh Produce Association, May 1, at the Dallas (TX) Convention Center.

The theme of the meeting is based around a set of transportation guidelines released earlier this year by The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG).   The group has released a document combining various transportation guidelines for the produce industry to use, with the end result being better treatment of truckers leading to more refrigerated equipment and drivers being available to haul fresh fruits and vegetables.

A member of the audience tells the panel there is a shortage of 200,000  drivers and “we’ve got some problems coming up” with an improving economy.

Panel member Ken Lund, vice president, support services,  Allen Lund Co., said the average age for truckers is over 55, and not that many drivers are entering the industry.  There are 2.7 million Class 8 trucks and 98 percent of those are companies with 10 trucks or less.  Most refrigerated produce haulers have a one truck operation, he says.

“We want drivers to be treated well,” Lund states.  He adds that today more retail receivers are treating drivers better.”

Lund notes the USA is looking at an eight and one-half to nine percent unemployment rate, yet there are “tens of thousands of openings” in transportation.  “But there are not a lot of people entering the industry and we want to make it better for them.”

He points out the Allen Lund Co. has a transportation education program for drivers providing them various kinds of information such as how to take the pulp temperature of produce to ensure product being loaded has been pre-cooled.

Panel member Frank Swanson, category manager,  U.S. Foods said, food safety is a concern for his company.  “We look at how to get transportation companies that take care of the product and maintain the correct temperature.”

Panelist Ken Nabel, president, Kingston and Associates Marketing, LLC points out a lot of military personnel are coming home, receiving discharges and should provide a lot of potential for jobs as drivers.

Another member of the audience asks the panel  what is the leading cause of produce loads being rejected?

Bret Smith, director of commodities procurement, Safeway Inc., responds the majority of kicked loads results from temperature problems with fruits and vegetables, as well as issues relating to quality.

“We need to know if a problem exists in route, not when the load arrives,” Smith says.  He adds having a driver check list, plus ensuring the driver has been trained to “check all components” associated with the load helps to avoid problems with claims.

Lund points out that there are seperate points on the NAPTWG website for shippers, truckers and receivers.  Those points can be found at:

What is the number one issue for produce transportation in 2012?

Nabel believes it is the cost of diesel fuel.

Smith cites “having good companies (carriers) with a good driver base.”  He also says the high cost of goods Safeway must purchase for its stores is a concern.   On the plus side, Smith believes docks used to consolidate loads are becoming more efficient, which is making consolidated loads more attractive to drivers.

Lund, obviously looking weeks ahead to the peak spring and summer shipping season for produce states, “When rates get high, a lot of people jump into the market (especially) when rates hit $10,000 from California to New York….Prices (rates) have gone up.  Ten years ago it was $3,000 from California to Atlanta; now it’s $10,000.  If we had those prices 10 years ago….” he notes

The transportation broker then adds, “Thre are a lot of shady brokers out there and a lot of double brokering going on.”  Lund relates a lot of times a shipper will list the Allen Lund Co. on the document as a shipper.  “We are not a shipper, we’re a broker.  This is where a lot of theft occurs, as well as double brokering.”

On another topic, the panel discusses railroads and its role in hauling fresh produce.

Smith of Safeway says the retail chain has not been very successful using rail, although the company continues to consider it.

Swanson of U.S. Food cites the service of RailEx, a company working with major railroads, providing coast-to-coast unit trains.  He likes the RailEx “door-to-door” service, but says over all the service is very limited.

Lund points out that only one to two percent of the nation’s fresh produce is shipped by rail.

“Some people on Capitol Hill think 50 percent of produce should be on the rails.  But the infrastructure changes would be monumental,” Lund says.

Ending the session was an audience member asking the panel about 18 wheelers being powered by natural gas.

Lund says there has been a lot of testing in this area, however the infrastructure for cross country trucking is not available.  Most trucks using natural gas are doing local hauls.

(For more information on the NAPTWG, see press release published on HaulProduce, titled, Transportation Group Releases Best Practices.  It ran on Jan. 17, 2012)


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