February 13, 2020

One verse in The Beer Song by “Weird Al” Yankovic calls this popular beverage “The most wonderful drink in the world.” For that reason, any news about brews gets my attention. I group what’s happening nowadays into three categories: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


Before reporting the news and unveiling my penetrating analysis, let me set the stage with a macro appraisal of what some people call “the poor man’s champagne.” The typical supermarket is awash with a bountiful selection of brews: traditional, malt, imports, craft, flavored, fruity, and non-alcoholic. Beer lovers can drink from bottles, cans, growlers and kegs...

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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


"The Beer Song"

by Weird Al Yankovic









Pharmacies Are Fading

Hundreds of regional grocery stores around the country are shuttering or selling their pharmacy counters. The Wall Street Journal reported that regional supermarkets are getting squeezed by consolidation and shrinking profits in prescription drugs. They generally are too small to compete for reimbursement rates on drugs, and they aren’t connected to large medical networks or insurers. Chains such as CVS and Walgreens offer walk-in clinics and other health services that smaller grocers can’t provide.

Better Dog Food

A third (34%) of UK dog food buyers believe it is good for pets to regularly have a plant-based meal instead of a meat-based one, according to research by Mintel. Meanwhile, more than four in 10 (43%) dog food buyers believe it is healthier to limit the amount of red meat eaten by pets rather than not to limit it at all.

More Meatless Meals

More people are eating meatless meals than ever before. That’s good news for proponents of vegan and vegetarianism. Research firm Bloomreach gathered purchasing and search data for vegan/vegetarian diets. The findings:

  • Vegan product sales rose by 70% in January 2020 from the year prior – an 11% increase from last year’s growth rate.

  • Vegetarian sales are outpacing vegan products. Vegetarian product sales rose by 147% from January 2019 to 2020, and by 93% from January 2018 to 2019.

  • Veggie burger options such as Morningstar and Boca waned in popularity this past year, while searches for Beyond Meat and Impossible skyrocketed in 2019.


The data show that vegetarian options, such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, are gaining traction for their meat-imitating flavor and appearance.


Orville Redenbacher, a Conagra Brands product, is celebrating 50 years of providing consumers with popcorn…..Unilever said all of its Hellmann’s mayonnaise jars and bottles will be made with 100 percent recycled plastics by March 2020…..H-E-B gave out $100 bills to all employees after being named the top grocer in the U.S. in dunnhumby’s third annual Retailer Preference Index….. Hershey expects to use only cage-free eggs in the U.S. and Canada by the end of this year and worldwide by 2025.

In the Stores


Trader Joe’s is piggy-backing on the success of Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods by launching its own plant-based burger. 


Giant Food, a regional grocery chain in the greater Washington D.C. marketplace, is encouraging shoppers to support Black History Month by buying reusable Bags 4 My Cause.

Brandless, a San-Francisco-based e-commerce company selling better-for-you products under the Brandless label, is shutting down.

CVS has acquired Target’s 1,672 pharmacies across 47 states and will operate them as a store-in-a-store branded as CVS/pharmacy.

H-E-B has opened a 95,000 sq. ft. kosher-focused store in Houston that offers shoppers an extensive selection of kosher, local, and prepared foods.

New Products


OLD BAY Hot Sauce will go on sale for a limited time in supermarkets like Acme, Giant, Food Lion, Martin’s, Safeway, Wegmans, Weis, and more. A 10 oz.-bottle has a suggested retail price of $3.49.

Keto Primo BBQ sauce contains monk fruit, apple cider vinegar, pink Himalayan sea salt and butter. Just 2 net carbs per 2 tablespoon serving with no added sugar added or artificial sweeteners.

Old Trapper has two new flavors of its 15-ounce bags of deli-style beer sticks: Jalapeno and Teriyaki. Each serving of both new flavors contains only 2 grams of total carbohydrates with 9 grams of protein making them a keto-friendly snack.

M_lk Chocolate from Barry Callebaut AG is a 100 percent dairy-free chocolate and par of the company’s new Plant Craft line.


CBD Mint Gum from the Asheville Hemp project, an Asheville NC-based hemp cultivator, contains 10 milligrams of CBD per piece.


"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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