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5 things: The politics of food inflation | Walmart boosts its ‘influence’

Here’s 5 things you may have missed in grocery this week

The politics of food inflation: If you lean left or right on the political scales, that’s likely to influence how you view the level of grocery price inflation, according to Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability. Purdue’s monthly Consumer Food Insights Report, which polled 1,200 U.S. consumers, finds that liberals gauge food inflation increases at roughly three to four percentage points below the estimates of conservatives. “The divergent perceptions of food inflation between liberals and conservatives is interesting to observe,” noted center leader Jayson Lusk, the head and Distinguished Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue. “Not only are liberals severely underestimating the increase in food prices from last year, but conservatives’ expectations for inflation are also likely overstating its rate for the coming year — at least compared to U.S. Department of Agriculture predictions.” —Russell Redman

Walmart boosts its ‘influence’: Walmart recently filed trademarks for both “Walmart Creator” and “Walmart Creator Collective” — moves that would provide social media consulting for “the promotion of goods and services of others through influencers.” Walmart currently works with social media influencers to promote groceries and apparel, in addition to its loyalty program for Walmart+. The company is stepping even more firmly into waters that have been largely occupied by Amazon, which has a social media influencer program powerful enough to incentivize Walmart to expand their influencer efforts. They’ve got their eye on the prize. In 2022, data predicts that influencer marketing will grow to a $16.4 billion industry. —Chloe Riley

Wegmans pulls plug on SCAN mobile checkout: Despite a positive response from customers, Wegmans Food Markets is shelving the Wegmans Scan mobile checkout app, reported. The free app, rolled out to stores in 2019, enables customers to scan groceries as they shop, put them in their cart or bag, and then quickly pay at any self-checkout station. Though shoppers liked the convenience — especially as a contactless solution during the pandemic — the program wasn’t working properly, even after adjustments, according to Wegmans. “Unfortunately, the losses we are experiencing from this program prevent us from continuing to make it available in its current state,” Wegmans stated. Plans call for the SCAN app to be discontinued effective Sept. 18. —RR

Discount grocers shake up Long Island market: High food prices have pushed a rising number of shoppers to discount grocers like Aldi and Lidl in the lucrative metro New York market of Long Island, triggering a grocery war, according to an analysis in Newsday. The recent expansion of the two German chains in the area has siphoned market share from traditional supermarkets, as have increased shopper trips to less expensive mass merchants such as Walmart, Target, Costco Wholesale, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Dollar General. Leading conventional supermarket chains in the L.I. market include Stop & Shop, ShopRite and King Kullen. —RR

An insta-revolution? Because pouring milk is just plain exhausting, Kellogg has launched Instabowls — portable, disposable bowls containing some of the company’s most popular cereals along with an instant milk powder. Just add water and, voila! Cereal fully on the go. The product is squarely aimed at those returning to school and work. And it’s also a smart move from Kellogg as the company gears up for the launch of its dedicated cereal business. Kellogg is calling the product “revolutionary.” Is the kind of revolution you’d stock on your shelves? —CR

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