Tag Archives: Central Market

Global Groceries: News from the Front

6 Jun

On the Front Lines of Food Retail

I’ve spent the last few years as a kind of globe-trotting retail anthropologist innovating for top supermarkets and restaurants round the world. From vantage points in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, its clear the food industry is battling two fast-moving fronts: Digital and “Diabesity” (DD).  Digital technology, in the form of near 24/7 on-line shopping, meals delivery and personalized coupons, isn’t yet as bulging as waistlines, but it’s sweeping the aisles at pace. Diabesity, aka the packaged food diet, hasn’t met a stranger yet, and whilst its killing processed foodies, it’s also confounding center store merchants, beverage companies and mass manufacturers alike.

Healthy Retailing = Food + Sport

When I founded Food Sport in 2009, I set out to build a link between food retailing, restaurants and manufacturing, by addressing the emerging need to re-think business models alongside the growing imperatives in global diets and health.  I’ve learned a lot, scored successes and failed some too, but what’s become apparent to me, is that despite some cultural differences, for example the Aussies and Poms enjoy a bizarre, uni-directional trolley wheel,  the industry shares the same challenges, though the leaders are sprinting rather than power-pointing.

Responsibility to Lead

Food has the unique power to lift economies and transform health. I recently returned to Sydney from two weeks in the States discussing DD with leaders in Washington, DC, and then during panels at the Milken Global Conference in LA (#2014gc).  From coast to coast, from Whole Foods to Pepsi, Let’s Move! to G.E., CVS to George Washington University and more,  I can report that food policy is on both public and private menus, but it’ll take expertise and experience to catalyze change.

We can make the healthy choice the easy choice by designing smarter, smaller, more efficient stores and tailoring the range (Trader Joes, USA).  We can use only whole foods and native ingredients (Chef Kylie Kwong, AU). We can use web/mobile to shift the mix to higher grossing, healthy own brand (Zipongo, USA). We can make cigarettes -$2.5b harder to find (Troy Brennan/CVS, USA).  We can advocate customers, and their loyalty, by providing access to fresh food and education (Walter Robb/Whole Foods, USA/UK).  We can employ digital technology to blunt Amazon (Fresh Direct, NYC, Click & Collect, Tesco, UK, Woolworths, AU). We can pedal healthy vending machines and natural snacks (Fresh Vending, Bolthouse Farms, USA/ AU).  We can harness science and self-manufacturing for good (H-E-B Grocery, Mootopia Milk). We can combine fresh food with convenience in the city centre (Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, UK). We can champion family dinner with affordable, clean-label rotisserie chicken (Costco, Can). We can manufacture clean-label prepared foods (Bakkavor, UK).  We can grow kids who chef (Jamie Oliver, Woolworths Supermarkets, AU).

There are countless examples round the globe today that showcase the power and ingenuity of the food industry doing well, by doing good. To affect the scope and scale of reform needed to restore health in our communities and grow profits in our board rooms, learn from the best, adopt innovation, and decide to make it a race rather than a journey.

Share your ideas…and saddle up!


Suzy Monford is the President/Founder of Food Sport International. Some of the companies she’s worked with include: USA:H-E-Butt Grocery, H-E-B Central Market.  AU: Coles, Woolworths Supermarkets. UK: Morrisons. Canada: Loblaw Great Food. Contact her on linkedIn or suzy.monford@foodsportinternational.com.


Does This Nightstand Make Me Look…Healthy?

24 Feb

Have you had that experience where you realize that perhaps that BIG NEW IDEA or SUPER COOL thing you recently learned, that you’re so sure everyone you know will love, has perhaps gotten a little out of control?  I’ve had a few revelations lately, so as I sit here sipping my organic spinach & orange, almond milk, and optimized all natural whey protein smoothie (all made in my VitaMix 5200 Variable Speed blender) I thought I’d share them and get your thoughts.

The first thing happened when I was at the nail salon getting a pedi, and a  woman walked by, glanced at the book I was reading and blurted “Well, I can tell you why I’m fat…” and then walked off in a bit of a smirk. Startled, I realized she was reacting to the title of the book I was reading: “Why We’re Fat” by Gary Taubes (a super fascinating read that explains how insulin regulates fat tissue).

Next, I was walking past a guy I know at the gym, taking a sip from my water bottle, and he said in passing, “I know, I know, half my body weight in ounces everyday…”.

Another incident occurred in the bakery at Central Market when a shrill “..YOU eat BREAD?!!”  caused me to drop my ancient grain, no HFCS, loaf back in the bin. Then there’s the bartender the other night who just couldn’t get it that all I wanted in my margarita was tequila (patron silver, please), fresh squeezed lime juice and a splash of agave nectar. Si, si, sin triple sec, jugo de naranja y azucar. What’s the problema?

But finally, when I went to bed last night, these isolated incidents started to add up as I inventoried my nightstand. Was it emblematic of a healthily robust outlook on life, or a parody of a health nut?  So here’s my question for you: Is a healthy habit ever a crazy obsession? As a newly certified health coach (plug for Institute of Integrative Nutrition) and longtime lover of food & fitness, I tend to think no. But as an honest observer, as duly noted above, I suppose it’s possible. So think about it, and after you’ve gotten in your workout today, let me know your thoughts.