Posts tagged with "Kroger"

Mochi ice cream goes mainstream

December 10, 2019

Walk into any supermarket today and you’ll find what used to be exotic edibles: They are called mochi—and they are small, frozen, bite-size balls of ice cream encased in rice dough.

In just the past three years, this finger food confection has evolved from an exotic niche dessert to a mainstream product, popping up nearly everywhere, including malls, street fairs, and major supermarket chains, CNN reports.

Mochi was invented in the United States nearly three decades ago, and was originally made using ice cream flavors with an Asian flair.

“It’s been around since the 1990s, but mochi ice cream was mostly available in specialty Asian food stores or on menus of Japanese restaurants in flavors like green tea, red bean and mango,” said Russell Barnett, a food industry veteran and chief marketing officer of Los Angeles-based My/Mo Mochi.

To help bring it to the masses, My/Mo created a flavor list most consumers felt instant familiarity with, such as chocolate sundae, S’mores, cookies & cream, strawberry, double chocolate and mint chocolate chip.

“I grew up eating vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream. Green tea and red bean weren’t a common part of the flavor profile in most households,” he told CNN.

Barnett recognized the inherent appeal of mochi ice cream to Millennials, a group he calls “a snacking generation.” Mochi is a portion-control snack of about 110 calories per ball, easy to hold and eat on the go. “We just retooled and adjusted it for today’s consumers,” he said.

My/Mo Mochi ice cream (which is gluten-free with some dairy free varieties) is produced at a manufacturing facility in Los Angeles and sold in packages of six, CNN reports. They’re also sold individually in portable freezers that Barnett calls self-serve “ice cream bars.”

Currently, My/Mo Mochi is now available in 20,000 stores nationwide. “We are in Target, Kroger, Walmart and everything in-between,” said Barnett. “We are reaching the masses where they shop.”

Competing mochi ice cream brands include Bubbies, Maeda-En and Mr. Mochi, but the My/Mo Mochi brand has captured close to 90% of market share, according to data from Nielsen. The brand’s sales were $175 million in annual revenue in 2019, according to Barnett.

Research contact: @CNN

UK ‘player’ Hamleys may expand into U.S. toy sector

December 11, 2018

Although Toys R Us has returned as a pop-up store at Kroger for the holidays (and maybe longer), the retailer that used to rule the toy realm is just a shadow of its former self. And, without the industry leading Toys R Us megastores, nationwide, an $11 billion toy industry has been left with no dominant retail player in the sector, reported CNBC on December 10.

Companies like TargetWalmartAmazon and Kohl’s are trying this holiday season to sell more toys to kids and their parents, but the verdict is still out on which company will best fill the void that Toys R Us left behind, the news outlet said.

But now—seeing a huge opportunity— one iconic, international toy retailer could soon make its first move into the States with a flagship location in New York, and plans for a wider rollout of stores to follow. British toy retailer Hamleys is close to finalizing a deal for roughly 30,000 square feet at 2 Herald Square in Manhattan, near Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret, a person familiar with those negotiations told CNBC, requesting anonymity because the talks are confidential. The store is expected to open in 2020, should the deal go through, said the source—cautioning talks are still ongoing between the tenant and landlord and nothing has been finalized.

According to CNBC, Hamleys has been around since 1760 when it opened its first location in England. Today, it has a flagship shop on tourist destination Regent Street in London, in addition to locations all across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. And in North America, Hamleys has three stores in Mexico.

In the United Kingdom, Hamleys’ stores are known to draw kids in for exciting experience, including the opportunity to play with life-size Lego figures. Often, employees dress up as fictional characters to entertain shoppers. This excitement in stores is what many people say the toy industry is now missing in the United States, CNBC reports. And shoppers prefer it to the online experience, where it is impossible to pick up a toy and look at it, or try it.

After an opening in New York, Hamleys would likely mote into other  major markets such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami to open store;  and would consider moving into some of the more profitable malls in the country, said the person familiar with its plans.

Hamleys didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Research contact: @laurenthomasx3

Kroger and Nuro partner to pilot test autonomous grocery delivery

August 17, 2018

Watch out, Peapod and FreshDirect—and grocery delivery drivers nationwide. In June,  Kroger, which, with 2,800 food stores in 35 states, claims to be America’s largest supermarket retailer; and Nuro, which refers to itself as the “maker of the world’s first fully unmanned road vehicle,” announced a new partnership dedicated to offering same-day delivery of grocery orders placed through Kroger’s ClickList or Nuro’s app.

On August 16, the two companies announced the location for a pilot test of their new services, starting immediately in Scottsdale, Arizona. During the trial, the Kroger store, Fry’s Food, will fulfill orders placed on its site (frysfood.com) or via the Fry’s Food Stores mobile app. The price for the service will be a flat fee of $5.95, with no minimum order required. Grocery orders can be scheduled for same-day or next-day delivery by Nuro’s fleet of self-driving vehicles.

“Scottsdale is proud to be the home of Kroger and Nuro’s partnership,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane. “We welcome innovative technology that can benefit the lives of Scottsdale residents. We feel this partnership holds tremendous potential and promise; and offers our residents real, not-yet-experienced convenience for everyday routines.”

“We’re excited to launch our autonomous vehicle delivery pilot with Fry’s in Scottsdale,” said Kroger Chief Digital Officer Yael Cosset. “Kroger wants to bring more customers the convenience of affordable grocery delivery, and our pilot with Nuro will help us test and learn to understand customer acceptance of autonomous vehicles in our seamless offering. We thank Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, and the Scottsdale community for being terrific partners and for supporting customer-focused innovation.”

“Arizona is home to some of the most innovative autonomous vehicle testing,” said Nuro Co-Founder Dave Ferguson. “We’re proud to contribute and turn our vision for local commerce into a real, accessible service that residents of Scottsdale can use immediately. Our goal is to save people time, while operating safely and learning how we can further improve the experience.”

Nuro will begin the pilot using its self-driving Toyota Prius fleet and will introduce its custom R1 driverless vehicle this fall. The unmanned delivery pods—about half the size of a Toyota Corolla—currently top out at about 25 miles per hour. Nuro has fitted Prius models in its fleet with its driverless software and sensors for the first Kroger pilot tests.

Dave Ferguson and co-founder Jiajun Zhu say they “have devoted their careers to robotics and machine learning”—most recently as Principal Engineers at Google’s self-driving car project (now Waymo). They founded Nuro in 2016 to harness the power of robotics and artificial intelligence to solve new challenges at a global scale.

“Unmanned delivery will be a game-changer for local commerce,” said Ferguson. “Our safe, reliable, and affordable service, combined with Kroger’s ubiquitous brand, is a powerful first step in our mission to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life.”

Research contact: @KrogerNews