January 16, 2020

When I was growing up in Queens, New York, all the kids drank water from fountains in the park, from a garden hose, and from the kitchen faucet. It was wet and refreshing. We were thirsty from running around the neighborhood playing Hide and Seek. Water was water. Nobody thought about the source.

Everything has changed. As adults, we don’t play Hide and Seek anymore except at large family gatherings. And there have been too many awful, well-publicized stories about tainted tap water in some cities. As a result, many folks nowadays are leery about drinking tap water.

It’s no wonder the typical supermarket devotes nearly an aisle to bottled water. Sure, we’re blessed with many choices, but you may have trouble deciding which brand to buy. Maybe you haven’t spent a few hours examining all of them.

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John Karolefski -
Grocery Maven,
Author & Speaker

Veteran analyst John Karolefski has followed the grocery industry for over 25

years in print as well

as on radio and

television. He has lots

of stories to tell.


Share yours by writing to John@GroceryStories.com

Don't  Send a Man

To the Grocery Store









The Problem with Chocolate

As Valentine’s Day approaches, chocolate is under the microscope. Green America released a chocolate scorecard rating the top US grocery stores and pharmacies on how well their product offerings address child labor conditions, deforestation and fair trade, which the green economy organization called major problems in the chocolate industry. Aldi, Food Lion and Kroger were the top-ranking retailers on the scorecard for addressing these problems. Walmart, Whole Foods, Safeway, Target, Costco and Walgreens received middle scores. Trader Joe’s and CVS were the worst-ranking retailers. “Retailers control what chocolate brands the public sees and eventually buys, and they should take a leading role in promoting products that benefit cocoa farmers and the environment,” said Todd Larsen, executive co-director, Consumer and Corporate Engagement, Green America. 


H-E-B Is Top U.S. Grocer

A new survey rated H-E-B as the top U.S. grocery retailer, bumping Trader Joe’s from the top spot which the discounter has held the last two years. The regional grocery retailer from Texas also jumped ahead of Amazon and Costco in the annual poll by dunnhumby, a customer data company. The other grocery retailers with the highest overall customer preference index scores are: 2) Trader Joe’s, 3) Amazon, 4) Market Basket, 5) Wegmans Food Markets, 6) Costco, 7) Aldi, 8) Sam’s Club, 9) Walmart, 10) Publix, 11) WinCo Foods, 12) Fresh Thyme, 13) Sprouts Farmers Markets, 14) ShopRite. The study polled 7,000 U.S. households to determine which of the top 60 largest grocery retailers have the strongest combination of financial performance and consumer emotional sentiment. 


Bitcoin in Grocery Stores

Shoppers can now walk into their local grocery store and buy Bitcoin, the digital currency, at more than 2,200 kiosks in 21 states, including such markets as Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington D.C. The Coinstar kiosks are located in stores operated by Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Safeway, Shaw’s, Save Mart, Food Maxx, Randall’s, Shaw’s, Tom Thumb, United Supermarkets, Vons, Food Lion, Giant Food, Stop & Shop, Giant Food Stores, Roundy’s, Winn-Dixie, Big Y, Fiesta Mart, Giant Eagle and Rouses. The kiosk gives shoppers the easiest and most convenient way to buy the cryptocurrency with cash.   


Most Trusted Food Brands

The United States Postal Service, Amazon and Google rank as the top three most trusted brands in the country, according to the first Most Trusted Brands report from data intelligence company Morning Consult. The consumer packaged goods industry monopolizes this year's rankings, as nearly half of the top 25 spots are claimed by CPG brands. Those in the top 10 include The Hershey Company (#7), Cheerios (#9), and M&M's (#10). “It's no secret that trust is key to brand success," notes Michael Ramlet, CEO of Morning Consult. "In today's climate, every single day presents leaders with the opportunity to cultivate reliability – a key driver of trust.”

In the Stores


Walmart is adding shelf-scanning robots to 650 more stores and expanding its fleet to 1,000 automated associates whose main task is to identify out of stocks.

Lowes Foods is improving the curbside pickup of groceries at its stores in the Carolinas by using machine-learning technology to calculate the shopper’s arrival time and on-premise location.

Winn-Dixie is opening a store at the Gateway Town Center in Jacksonville, Fla. reportedly in response to a plea by the city and community to offset an impending “food desert” created by a Publix supermarket closing.

H-E-B has a new mobile app called My H-E-B that lets shoppers in Texas order groceries for home delivery or curbside pickup, also help them find items in a store.


Giant Foods Stores is expanding in Pennsylvania with new stores planned in Pocono Summit and Swatara Township.

New Products


Jelly Belly Sparkling Water from the Joffer Beverage Company comes in eight varieties: French Vanilla, Lemon Lime, Orange Sherbet, Piña Colada, Pink Grapefruit, Tangerine, Very Cherry and Watermelon. Each flavor has only two ingredients: carbonated water and natural flavors with zero sugar, zero calories, and zero sweeteners.

Pop-Tarts from Kellogg are now available in two new offerings varieties: Mer-mazing Blue Raspberry and Frosted Froot Loops.

Almondmilk Yogurt from AYO Foods is dairy-free, Non-GMO Project Verified and packed with probiotics, calcium, iron and up to 25 percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber. Available flavors include Strawberry, Vanilla, Blueberry and Peach.

Clif Coffee Collection Energy Bars from Clif Bar come in three flavors: Caramel Macchiato, Dark Chocolate Mocha, and Vanilla Amond Latte.

Simple Truth Emerge from the Kroger Co. is a line of plant-based fresh meats in the form of burger patties and grinds. Available exclusively at Kroger Family of Stores.


"An irreverent and provocative look at contemporary grocery shopping."  - Kirkus Reviews


Grocery shopping is an existential threat to our sanity. On Sampling Day, we have to park the car in the next zip code. We can't find a shopping cart without sticky handlebars. Checkout lines are too long, but we can't buy beer at the self-checkout.

If you're flummoxed, read this collection of grocery stories by Grocery Stories editor John Karolefski to find tranquility - and a zany perspective. Check out the Introduction here; "Look inside the book" and order your copy (paperback or Kindle, including Kindle Unlimited free copies) on Amazon by clicking here.


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