News Briefs


Independent Grocer RF Buche Receives NGA Spirit of America Award

RF Buche Spirit of America NGA Teaser

The National Grocers Association (NGA) has presented its Spirit of America Award to fourth-generation South Dakota independent grocer RF Buche, in recognition of his commitment to the independent grocery industry and his work in his community. Buche, president of Wagner, S.D.-based GF Buche Co., received the award during NGA’s Fly-In for Fair Competition, held June 6-7 in Washington, D.C. 

“RF Buche has demonstrated that independent grocers play a central role in expanding food access in rural, remote and underserved communities,” noted Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based NGA. “His extensive efforts toward fighting food insecurity, as well as his advocacy for antitrust reform, exemplify his commitment to our industry and the essential role it plays in feeding our nation.” 

Buche testified before the House Rules Committee on his company’s efforts to tackle food insecurity. These include stocking a trailer with healthy foods and essential products for communities on tribal lands and other remote places, and offering temperature-controlled food lockers in areas with limited access to grocery products, allowing residents to order groceries online or with a smart device using SNAP, debit or credit. 

Buche has also been a passionate advocate for antitrust reform, including enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act

Established in 1982, the Spirit of America Award honors industry and community leaders in the areas of community service and government relations on behalf of the independent supermarket industry. NGA has given the award to such luminaries as Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford.


Indies Come to DC for NGA’s 2nd Fly-In for Fair Competition

Greg Ferrara NGA Fly-In Teaser

The National Grocers Association, the trade association representing the independent grocery industry, kicked off its second annual Fly-In for Fair Competition on June 6 in Washington D.C.

The event began with advocacy training to prepare NGA members for their congressional meetings on Wednesday, June 7. Led by Brad Fitch, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Congressional Management Foundation, the training showed NGA members how to get the most out of their meetings. 

[Read More: "NGA Enthusiastically Backs Save Local Business Act"]

“NGA members know firsthand how a lack of antitrust enforcement and excessive swipe fees are hurting their business,” noted Christopher Jones, SVP of government relations and counsel at Washington, D.C.-based NGA. “By completing this comprehensive advocacy training, attendees will be better able to effectively communicate their needs during congressional meetings.” 

Attendees also heard from Jonathan Kanter, assistant attorney general of the Antitrust Division at the Department of Justice, on the all-important subject of competition; James Glueck, of the Torrey Advisory Group, and Barbara Hiden, of the American Beverage Association, on how to navigate lobbying in relation to the Farm Bill; and political analyst, commentator and best-selling author Chris Stirewalt, on 2024 presidential politics and what its impact is likely to be in the nation’s capital.

“I know attendees will find this information valuable as they make their way to the halls of Congress this week to advocate for the interests of the independent grocery industry,said NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara (pictured).


Constellation Brands Appoints SVP of Global Talent

Kirk Santos

Constellation Brands has tapped Kirk Santos as SVP, global talent. He is tasked with leading the beverage alcohol company’s new end-to-end global talent function that aligns with its strategy and DEI initiatives.

Santos joins Constellation Brands from his most recent role as global VP of talent management and VP of HR, financial services, at shipping company Pitney Bowes. Previously, he served as director of talent management and organizational development for the North America Beverages unit at PepsiCo. During his career, he has also held leadership roles at IBM, Caesars Entertainment and L’Oreal. He earned a bachelor’s degree in human resources management from Baruch College and a master’s degree in strategic management and human resources from Long Island University.

[Read more: "NotCo Brings on New Global VP of Marketing"]

“The recent creation of our end-to-end global talent function is one component of a broader evolution of our HR operating model designed to enable the ongoing growth of our organization,” said Kris Carey, EVP and chief human resources officer at Constellation Brands. “Kirk’s extensive HR experience aligning people and talent strategies to business needs makes him an exemplary leader to head this new team and talent-first strategy.”

Santos welcomes the opportunity. “I am thrilled to be joining Constellation’s talented HR organization and look forward to the opportunity to lead the global talent function and strategy in this next chapter of growth for the company,” he remarked.

Based in Victor, N.Y., Constellation Brands will report its first quarter fiscal 2024 earnings on June 30. In May, the beer, wine and spirits company acquired a minority stake in the alcohol-free sparkling beverage brand TÖST.


Grocery Shopii Prepares for Nationwide Expansion

Online Grocery Teaser

Grocery Shopii, a retail media technology platform that provides grocers with shoppable recipe solutions, has selected full-service marketing agency Moxxy Marketing for its nationwide expansion.

Grocery Shopii helps fill carts and provides essential support to retailers that sell groceries online. The platform offers online meal planning within a grocer's existing e-commerce system through a proprietary recipe-to-cart process, enabling shoppers to plan meals for the week, fill an online cart, and schedule a load or delivery in five minutes or less.

[Read more: “At a Crossroads: Progressive Grocer's 90th Annual Report”]

“Our elegant technology easily integrates into retailers’ existing application stacks, using recipes and meal-planning tools to increase sales for retailers and make shopping faster and easier for consumers,” said Katie Hotze, CEO of  Charlotte, N.C.-based Grocery Shopii. “Our initial retailer and brand clients have demonstrated an average 25% lift to basket sizes per trip, and we’re well positioned for rapid growth.”

“We are so excited to work with Katie and help bring Grocery Shopii’s revolutionary approach to market,” noted Karen Nardozza, president and CEO of Moxxy. “Many AgriFoodTech companies are focused on their technology, science or the mechanics of their solutions, and many food companies invest in recipe development, but Grocery Shopii is the first company to use technology and recipes together in a novel media platform to directly drive sales for retail grocers and their suppliers.”

Salinas, Calif.-based Moxxy relies on strategy, creativity, data and relationships with food suppliers and retailers cultivated over the past 35 years to build relevant brands, craft effective marketing programs, and help emerging food, beverage and AgriFoodTech companies throughout the supply chain increase their B2B sales and market share.


Batory Foods Acquires Tri-State Cos.

Batory Foods Tri-State Cos. Teaser

Batory Foods, a Rosemont, Ill.-based national distributor of food and fine ingredients, has acquired Tri-State Cos., a food ingredients broker, distributor and logistics provider. This acquisition bolsters Batory’s service offerings in the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast with the addition of Tri-State’s 100,000-square-foot multi-temperature zone distribution center in Ohio’s Warren County. The facility, which offers cutting-edge cold-storage solutions using advanced odor control technologies, will allow for streamlined deliveries and reduced shipping times to Batory’s customers in the aforementioned regions.

“Becoming part of a multifaceted organization like Batory Foods signifies a historic and exciting milestone for Tri-State Cos.,” said Lloyd Makstell, owner of Mason, Ohio-based Tri-State. “Through this acquisition we look forward to continuing to offer the highest-quality ingredients while together forming a stronger business, driving further growth and innovation, and creating even more value for our employees and customers.”

[Read more: "Flagstone Foods Acquires Emerald Nuts From Campbell"]

“The Batory Foods team extends heartfelt thanks to Lloyd Makstell and Nadine Whitsett for expanding the business that their father, Ed Makstell, had run since the 60s,” said Batory Foods CEO Ron Friedman. “Anyone who has done business with Tri-State knows just how committed Nadine and Lloyd are to taking care of their customers. We are honored to have been selected as the right organization to carry on their family’s legacy.” 


FMI Helping to Alleviate Continuing Coin Circulation Issues

Coin Shortage Teaser

In its capacity as a member of the U.S. Coin Task Force (USCTF), Arlington, Va.-based FMI – The Food Industry Association is asking the American public and financial institutions to help solve the ongoing challenges with coin circulation throughout the economy, including at U.S. grocery stores.

The coin circulation disruption that started in the early days of the pandemic is still happening, along with sustained consumer demand for coins. The USCTF has requested that consumers holding onto coins #getcoinmoving by depositing or exchanging them to replenish national supplies, and for financial institutions to make coin redemption easier for their customers. 

To that end, USCTF members are encouraging consumers to make purchases using exact change, deposit excess coins with their financial institution or exchange coin at a coin redemption kiosk. The coins in shoppers’ piggy banks, jars and couch cushions will help those who depend on cash transactions for household purchases and to pay bills. To reliably and responsibly facilitate commerce, prompt stabilization of coin inventories is essential to establishing equitable access to coin and improving financial inclusion within the nation’s payment system.

The organization is also requesting all depository institutions to review their coin inventories and promptly deposit any coin that exceeds the needs of their customers to the Federal Reserve. All organizations with unused coin inventories should manage their balances downward and avoid ordering coins unless they’re needed to meet customer demand. Financial institutions can use the toolkits and best practices offered by the USCTF for improving coin circulation.