News Briefs


SCS Global Services Authorized as Bee Better Certifier

Bee Better Certification Teaser

Third-party certification provider SCS Global Services has been approved as an authorized certification body to the Bee Better Certification Standard. Bee Better Certifiedis the only third-party certification program focused on pollinator health on farms.

The program was originally launched in 2017 by the Portland, Ore.-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, with support from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, to protect bees and other pollinators. Bee Better program certification ensures that a grower has dedicated a part of its farm to pollinator habitat and incorporated Integrated Pest Management practices to protect crop pollinators. 

“As a trusted leader in third-party environmental, sustainability and social audits, SCS is proud to partner with Xerces to bring the Bee Better Certification program to farms that adopt pollinator-friendly agricultural practices,” said Josh Edge, senior technical manager of the food and agriculture division at Emeryville, Calif.-based SCS. “We provide the added benefit of being an approved certification body in many related programs, including the Equitable Food Initiative, Sustainably Grown, Regenerative Organic Certification, SMETA and GLOBALG.A.P.– services that can be bundled with Bee Better Certification.”

Walmart revealed last year that by 2025, 100% of its fresh produce and floral purchases for its in-store produce departments will be from farms that have achieved certifications such as Bee Better Certified. Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

In November, SCS Global Services rolled out its Plant-Based Certification Program, which incorporates a new standard from nonprofit body SCS Standards to distinguish plant-based brands based on strict auditing, testing and labeling requirements. 


Blue Apron to Debut Limited-Time Seasonal Meal Kit

Blue Apron Fireside Feast Box Teaser

Meal kit company Blue Apron has launched the Fireside Feast Box as a limited-time seasonal offering. Available to order now, the meal kit is part of Blue Apron’s occasion-based offerings designed to make at-home entertaining easier.

Blue Apron’s Fireside Feast Box offers an upscale dinner party solution for cozy winter nights spent indoors. The French-inspired fare features a cassoulet of duck confit and slow-cooked pork belly, accompanied by a range of sides, including a romaine lettuce salad with orange and pistachio to balance out the richness of the main dish. The full menu serves four and consists of:

• Duck Confit Cassoulet with Pork Belly, Beans & Thyme Breadcrumbs
• Parmesan & Garlic-Herb Bread
• Orange & Pistachio Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
• Chocolate Chip & Almond Biscotti with Peppermint-Chocolate Dipping Sauce

“Our culinary team created an express lane to a show-stopping cassoulet,” noted John Adler, VP of culinary at New York-based Blue Apron. “In a typical restaurant setting, this menu would require 50 plus hours of preparation time and advanced culinary skills. We’ve created an impressive menu with only one hour of estimated active cooking time that’s designed to be easy for customers of all skill levels to prepare.” 

Shipping Jan. 2 through February, the Fireside Feast Box can be ordered as part of a subscription via Blue Apron’s website and mobile app, and without a subscription on the Blue Apron Market, and

Blue Apron’s seasonal meal kits provide recipes incorporating “best of the season” proteins, produce and ingredients for a premium experience.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Frozen Food Hall of Fame Gets 3 New Members

Zerocrat logo

Three industry professionals are being honored honored for their solid commitment to the frozen food sector. The Harrisburg, Pa,-based National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) and the Arlington, Va.-based American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) have revealed the trio of new members to be inducted into the Frozen Food Hall of Fame.

The 2023 class consists of the following individuals:

  • Ed Flanagan, the former president and CEO of frozen wild blueberry and fruit processor Jasper Wyman & Son, who led that organization for 24 years before his retirement in 2017. He worked at the Maine-based company for 42 years in all and played a key role in managing exports to international markets. Flanagan also chaired AFFI’s board of directors from 2010 to 2011 and was named its Advocate of the Year in 2017, among many other accomplishments.
  • Leslie Sarasin, who has been president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI – The Food Industry Association since 2008. Before that, she spent 19 years at AFFI, where she held the role of president and CEO for nine years. In addition to her work championing the industry at FMI, she is credited with strengthening AFFI’s advocacy and supporting the global growth of the frozen ingredient trade show.
  • Dave Yanda retired in 2016 from a 40-year career at frozen fruit and vegetable company Lakeside Foods, in Manitowoc, Wis.  He was Lakeside’s president and CEO for more than eight years and spearheaded the growth of the business into a leading international private label food processor. Yanda served several terms on AFFI’s board and on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee, in addition to other industry leadership roles.

Flanagan, Sarasin and Yanda will be inducted into the Frozen Food Hall of Fame on Feb. 27, during the AFFI-CON 2023 event in San Diego. The Hall of Fame began in 1990 by the Distinguished Order of Zerocrats, an industry group promoting the image and advancement of the frozen food industry.


Publix Honored for Habitat Restoration Support

Audubon Florida winners

Publix doesn’t just create a welcoming environment for in-store shoppers. The Florida grocer has also been recognized for its work in creating sustainable, healthy habitats.

Audubon Florida, part of the National Audubon Society, recently bestowed its 2022 Distinguished Philanthropist Award on Publix for its support of the group’s conservation efforts. Last year, for example, Publix shared plans to support the restoration of 500 acres of marsh and prairie wetlands at the state’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary with a multiyear commitment of more than $1 million.

“We’re honored to receive this award and proud of the continued work we’re doing to preserve our natural resources,” said Michael Hewett, director of environmental and sustainability programs for Publix. “As part of our mission to be involved as responsible citizens in our communities, we remain committed to supporting conservation efforts throughout our operating area.”

Audubon Florida commended Publix for its donations that will help improve nutrient pollution from groundwater, hold floodwaters during severe weather events and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. “Audubon Florida and Publix share a commitment to protecting water and habitat for people and wildlife. Our environment is our economy, and we are thrilled to have the leadership of Publix on this important conservation project in the Western Everglades,” the organization noted.

Publix continues to make strides toward its sustainability goals. In November, the retailer was awarded the best overall recycling champion for 2022 by the Florida Recycling Partnership Foundation.

Employee-owned and -operated Publix has close to 1,300 supermarkets in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Publix is also moving forward in expanding its footprint into KentuckyThe company is No. 12 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Consumers Will Keep It Close to Home in ’23

FreshDirect Bag Teaser

’Tis the season for predictions for the coming year, and online grocer FreshDirect is out with its take on 2023 food trends. The Ahold Delhaize-owned company shared its outlook on consumer behaviors in what has shaped up to be a transformative decade.

Some of the effects of the pandemic are lingering, according to FreshDirect, including the cook-at-home lifestyle. The digital grocer projects that DIY at home will be big, propelled by mini-trends like charcuterie-inspired boards for everything from butter to dessert, and people’s desire to entertain others at home.

Likewise, the pull of nostalgia continues. FreshDirect pointed to the growing popularity of nostalgic novelty treats, like mini powdered doughnuts, coffee cakes and throwback cocktails.

The draw of sticking close to home extends to purchasing habits, too. FreshDirect noted that locally sourced products will be a hallmark of 2023, as consumers enjoy discovery as much as they want to support local economies in challenging times.

Such values-driven shopping – which began to accelerate in 2020 – is full steam ahead. According to the curators at FreshDirect, customers’ interest in transparency will influence more of their purchases from brands built on values that reflect commitments to communities, the environment and other causes.

Finally, as inflation took a lot of the spotlight in 2020 and seems set to remain at least somewhat elevated in 2023, FreshDirect noted that the recent shopper preference for private label will carry through the next 12 months. Not viewed by shoppers as generic, these private label products span fresh and shelf-stable and are chosen for both value and quality, FreshDirect pointed out. The company also said that it will expand the number of its private label offerings.

“Our extensive and long-standing relationships with farmers, fishermen, artisans and producers, combined with our proprietary data systems, enable us to determine the next wave of industry innovation and the latest in customer interests and needs. 2023 will usher in a new year of online grocery trends that underscores the ever-growing need for convenience, value and, most of all, the best in fresh quality,” said FreshDirect Chief Merchandising Officer Scott Crawford.

Bronx, N.Y.-based FreshDirect services the New York City metro area. Its parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America


Save A Lot Helping Customers Save Money Ahead of Christmas

Save A Lot deals teaser

Discount retailer Save A Lot is launching its 12 Deals of December program in an effort to help its customers save money on holiday staples. Deals will be available on a different item each day between Dec. 14 and Dec. 20, and six different daily items from Dec. 21 to Dec. 24. Customers can find and download coupons valid only at participating locations for all offers by visiting or checking their weekly ad.

Among the items included in the grocer’s discount program are butter, bacon, shredded cheese, chicken leg quarters, ground beef and russet potatoes. Coupons for the discounted items are available through and in weekly ads.

“We know everyone is looking [for] ways to save money anywhere they can right now,” said Tim Schroder, chief sales and marketing officer at Save A Lot. “Our 12 Deals of December brings hot deals on holiday must-have items.”

Save A Lot has more than 850 stores in 32 states. The Earth City, Mo.-based company is No. 60 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.