Stuck in the middle: Within grocery, Kroger runs middle of the pack — it has neither the lowest prices, nor the most differentiated, premium products. Basically, it’s not Walmart, and it’s not Whole Foods. So what is it? Walmart U.S. saw grocery comparable sales rise more than 10% in its quarter ending on April 29 compared with a year earlier. Premium grocer Sprouts Farmers Market’s same-store sales rose 3.1% in its quarter ending on April 2—similar to growth seen at Kroger. When it comes to attracting higher-income customers, Kroger said on its recent earnings call that it’s seeing more business from those customers, migrating over from specialty retailers. But so far, the Wall Street Journal writes, the numbers aren’t compelling. —Chloe Riley
It’s $5 no more: Usually TikTok crazes hang around for a while, but not if you’re a Sprouts’ $5 sandwich. Days after the combo deal went viral on the channel, the grocer decided to pull the plug on the offering. In fact, all of Sprouts’ signature sandwiches are now gone in favor of build-your-own sandwiches. One TikTok user made a video (of course she did!) of her displeasure about the $5 reneged sandwich. She said an employee at Sprouts told her the reason for the change was to save money. The move may have lost a customer, as the TikToker said she was disappointed and would not be purchasing any more sandwiches from Sprouts. Hold the … everything! —Bill Wilson
Tracking grocery prices: NBC News is monitoring the average point-of-sale prices and how much those prices have changed since May 2022 for six popular supermarket items: orange juice, eggs, chicken breasts, fresh ground beef, bacon, and bread. The data in the tracker, provided by NielsenIQ, is collected from real checkout prices paid nationwide at grocery stores, drugstores, mass merchandisers, selected dollar stores, selected warehouse clubs, and military commissaries. It’s an informative visual snapshot (and fun to use). —CR
The tech behind prepared foods: Prepared foods are reshaping the game for grocery retailers. While grocery prices continue to stabilize, it seems consumers think restaurants are still expensive — 40% noted that they feel they’re getting less value from restaurants with 68% blaming higher prices. Enter prepared foods. And enter tech. Many quick-serve restaurants follow an assembly-line-like model to keep costs low and food prep fast. They have also been upgrading their kitchen display screen tech to overcome labor constraints. Grocers are following suit both in-store and for delivery, writes Forbes. The trend for digitization in grocers is clear: Walmart has expanded such operations with its extensive 25-brand virtual food court. Customers can order from kiosks, and a team of “ghost chefs” cook up the required dish from the licensed recipe. With this latest endeavor accounting for 54% of its sales, what makes the sector so lucrative is its slick operations. —Alarice Rajagopal
Wheeling away: The black market for Canadian grocery carts must be white hot by now. How else would you explain the disappearance of a Vanvouver store’s entire cart inventory? Local broadcaster Lynda Steele took to social media to say it was the fourth weekend in a row the Yaletown grocery store did not have any carts available. Well, actually, a cashier did say there was one somewhere on the premises, but also that it was currently in use. Why it’s not being stored under armed guard is beyond me. However, there appears to be plenty of small, plastic carriers available, to the dismay of Steele. “I’m paying about 20-25% more for groceries and now I’m going to have to drag my groceries in a little plastic cart,” she told media outlet DH News. Those little plastic carriers could be the next to go. —BW
Within grocery, Kroger runs middle of the pack — it has neither the lowest prices, nor the most differentiated, premium products. Basically, it’s not Walmart, and it’s not Whole Foods. So what is it? When it comes to attracting higher-income customers, Kroger said on its recent earnings call that it’s seeing more business from those customers, migrating over from specialty retailers. But so far, the Wall Street Journal writes, those numbers aren’t compelling. So what space is Kroger trying to play in? Let us know in the comments below.