TRADER JOE'S GOES SUSTAINABLE
MONROVIA, Calif. — Trader Joe's here has announced plans to shift all of its seafood purchases to sustainable sources by Dec. 31, 2012, according to a news item posted on the retailer's website. The change will apply to all types of seafood offered at Trader Joe's, including frozen, fresh and canned products. The retailer said it was working with third-party, non-governmental organizations to develop a seafood policy “that addresses customer concerns including the issues of over-fishing, destructive catch or production methods, and the importance of marine reserves,” according to the announcement. In addition to mandatory country-of-origin labeling, and the wild/farm-raised information that Trader Joe's currently provides on its seafood labels, the company is developing new package labeling that will include each species' origin as well as catch or production method. In response to consumer feedback, Trader Joe's stopped selling Chilean sea bass in 2005, orange roughy in July 2009 and red snapper prior to this announcement in March 2010.
Q4 PRODUCE PRICES DOWN, VOLUME UP
WASHINGTON — Produce prices declined nearly across the board during the fourth quarter of 2009, but shoppers responded by purchasing more volume, according to the latest edition of “Fresh Facts on Retail,” a quarterly analysis of retail produce trends published by the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation. The report notes that total produce volume was up 6% in Q4, driven by a 7.2% reduction in average retail prices. Of the top 10 fruits and top 10 vegetables, prices fell for all but two categories — grapes and berries. By contrast, potatoes, avocados, apples, melons, pears and onions all faced double-digit price declines, ranging from 11.5% for onions to 22.4% for potatoes. The increase in the volume of produce sold at retail was not enough to offset these significantly lower prices. Total produce dollar sales were down 1.7% compared with the same period in 2008. Value-added produce weathered the declining prices best, with value-added fruit posting 12% volume growth off of a 6.7% price drop. Average sales per store for value-added fruit rose 4.6%, to $1,200 per week, compared with the same period in 2008. Value-added vegetables enjoyed a 9.1% increase in weekly volume, but also faced a 7.8% decline in prices. As a result, dollar sales in the category were flat, increasing only 0.7% to average $1,079 per store per week. Organic trends were mostly positive as well. Although most organic produce items faced declining prices as well, dollar sales rose or fell only slightly for most products. Complete copies of the quarterly report are available for free to United Fresh Produce Association members on the group's website, www.unitedfresh.org.
WEGMANS EXPANDS GRASS-FED LINE
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Wegmans Food Markets has expanded its line of grass-fed organic beef with a new 93% lean ground grass-fed beef option, priced at $4.99 per pound. The product is sourced from Uruguay, a choice the company made based on flavor, according to a recent column by Mary Ellen Burris, senior vice president of community affairs. The cattle graze on pasture that has never been treated with pesticides or fertilizers. Unlike some grass-fed cattle, these animals graze for their entire lives, and are not corn-finished on a feedlot, and they are never given artificial hormones or antibiotics. “Our buyers found the best-tasting, abundant and sustainable source of grass-fed and certified organic beef in Uruguay, a progressive country with a European feel,” Burris writes. “Our chief scientist, Kathleen O'Donnell, has been there to assure that our high standards for food safety and quality are met. Whole muscles of chuck are shipped to Boston, where they are ground and packaged for us.”