News Briefs


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. 


Kroger to Open Distribution Center in Northern Kentucky

Kroger Delivery

The Kroger Co. will invest more than $550,000 for a new 2,000-square-foot spoke facility in Kentucky’s Boone County, helping to expand the grocer’s e-commerce reach in the Bluegrass State.

The new facility will support the customer fulfillment center currently operating in Monroe, Ohio, and provide customers throughout Cincinnati and northern Kentucky with access to fresh food.

[Read more: "Kroger Drives Growth by Uplifting Colorado Community"]

“This expansion will mean lower prices and more choices for more people across Kentucky,” said Ben Hamilton, VP of logistics and network strategy, Kroger Delivery.  “Just like their in-store experience, customers will have access to personalized digital coupons, valuable fuel points, and the fresh, high-quality products they need, want and love.”

Kroger maintains 112 stores in Kentucky, employing more than 19,000 associates. The commonwealth is also home to four manufacturing and distribution facilities that service the company, as well as a regional headquarters in Louisville. The new spoke facility will create 98 full-time jobs.  

Cincinnati-based Kroger has almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Kroger one of the Retailers of the Century.


Natural Grocers Gets Into the Grilling Spirit

NG grilling

Getting into the swing of summer, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. is holding an “Art of Grilling” event this month, with giveaways, fundraisers and savings on items such as humanely raised meats and 100% organic produce.

From June 2-24, shoppers can get a chance to win a Yeti cooler and Natural Grocers branded Hydro Flasks through a “Count the Burger” contest featured in the store magazine and on Instagram. Throughout the weekend of June 9-11, customers can save to 48% off on grilling-related items like Thousand Hills grass-fed ground beef, Beyond Meat Beyond Burgers and Paqui tortilla chips. 

Natural Grocers is also sharing grilling recipes and tips from its chefs and nutrition consultants.  Recipes include main dishes as well as desserts that can be prepared on the grill. Meanwhile, to give back to the community, the retailer will donate $1 to local food banks for every purchase of limited-edition “Art of Grilling” reusable bags sold for $1.99 each, from June 1-30.

As part of the grilling activities and promotions, Natural Grocers is also offering reusable bags for Father’s Day to members of the grocer’s free loyalty program. Ahead of that holiday, shoppers can also access 10% savings on alcohol purchases.

Family-operated Natural Grocers operates 166 stores in 21 states. The Lakewood, Colo.-based natural and organic grocer is No. 95 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Natural Grocers as one of its 10 Most Sustainable Grocers


Former Food Lion CEO Dies

Food Lion Storefront Teaser

Tom Smith, the onetime CEO  of Food Lion, died in hospice care June 2 after what has been described as “ a long battle with a terminal illness,” according to published reports

Starting out at the company, then known as Food Town, as a bagger when he was a teenager, Smith spent more than six years with Del Monte Sales Co. before returning to Food Lion in 1970 as a buyer in the corporate office. In January 1986, he became CEO, succeeding founder Ralph Ketner. Like Ketner, Smith emphasized low prices and efficient service, leading Food Lion to surpass $2 billion in sales at the end of Smith’s first year as CEO.

At the time of Smith’s retirement in 1999, the company had grown to more than 1,000 stores and 100,000-plus employees.

Smith was also active in the community, and received various honors and awards from business and civic organizations.

Salisbury, N.C.-based Food Lion operates more than 1,100 stores with 82,000-plus associates throughout 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. Its parent company, Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company as one of its Retailers of the Century.


TGCSA Names Food City Exec 2023 Retailer of the Year

Food city exec

Mickey Blazer, EVP of pharmacy, fuel and convenience stores for Food City’s retail grocery chain was recently named 2023 Retailer of the Year by Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association (TGCSA). The award recognizes the outstanding Tennessee retailer who exemplifies the high standards of integrity and efficiency upon which the organization was founded.   

The Nashville-based trade organization’s primary function is to educate and promote the welfare of its business members, which are comprised of retail grocery, convenience, and food industry suppliers throughout the state of Tennessee. Blazer received his award during the recent TGCSA annual convention in Sevierville, Tenn.

[Read more: “Food City Planning Major Expansion in Alabama”]

Blazer joined the Food City team in 1977, serving in numerous management roles, including EVP of operations for Food City’s Knoxville and Chattanooga divisions. Blazer is currently responsible for the oversight of fuel and pharmacy operations for Food City’s 150 retail locations, which includes 119 pharmacies, 116 fuel centers and five convenience stores.

He served on the Governor of Virginia’s Prescription Drug and Heroin Task Force Subcommittee and as chairman of the Topco Managed Care Review Committee. In 2018, he traveled with the National Grocers Association Grassroots Committee to Washington, D.C., where he represented grocery pharmacy at the White House by addressing the important role community pharmacy plays in the nation’s health care system.

Blazer currently serves on the board of directors for TGCSA and is a member the organization’s Legislative Committee. He also chairs the FMI – The Food Industry Association’s Pharmacy Subgroup.  

Food City’s parent company, Abingdon, Va.-based K-VA-T Food Stores, operates 150 retail outlets throughout southeast Kentucky, southwest Virginia, east Tennessee, north Georgia and Alabama. K-VA-T is No. 70 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.