Target is hoping to catch up to rivals such as Kroger and Walmart in the ongoing grocery war. The company announced Monday, Aug. 14, that it has added former executives from Walmart and General Mills to its food and beverage team in a renewed effort to bolster its $15-billion-per-year grocery business, which according to Fortune accounts for about 20 percent of the company’s sales.
The grocery war is cutthroat, with players such as Amazon and the German discount grocer Lidl, a newcomer to the U.S., undercutting prices and siphoning customers. Target has little choice but to play by their rules or continue bleeding customers, which is why the company plans to cut grocery prices by the end of this year.
Target appointed Mark Kenny as its vice president divisional, meat and fresh prepared food. He will oversee all meat, seafood, deli, bakery and prepared foods categories, Target said in a press release. The company wants to increase its focus on convenient eating to save time and money for its guests. Sort of like Walmart.
Kenny previously served as senior director of private brands, deli and bakery at Walmart. Target looks forward to leveraging his deep merchandising experience in food and beverages and strong retail operational leadership background.
The company has also appointed Liz Nordlie as vice president of product design and development for food and beverage. This is a new role that will require Nordlie to shape the brand direction and product vision for the company’s owedn brand food and beverage categories, Target said.
Nordlie most recently presided over the baking division at General Mills, although she wore many hats during her time at the company, including general management roles and building brands across General Mills’ food categories such as cereal and snacks.
As Fortune noted, grocery isn’t just a fifth of Target’s annual sales; it’s also a reason that many repeat customers walk through the door week after week, driving sales in other categories. So as grocery traffic drops, so does overall traffic across all departments. Second-quarter results released later today, Aug. 16, will reveal whether the company has been able to build on positive movement in produce in the first quarter.
In Other News…
Aldi and Instacart have teamed up to pilot grocery delivery programs in three U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas. Until now, there has been no way for Aldi customers to shop for their groceries online. The company’s vice president of corporate buying, Scott Patton, told Reuters that the pilot is a means of testing demand for such a service.
Aldi plans to invest $3.4 billion to expand its U.S. store base from around 1,600 stores to 2.500 stores in the next five years, Reuters reported, and CEO Jason Hart recently said that he plans to introduce the lowest prices across the chain. Good luck with that, since every other grocery store in the country is doing the exact same thing.
In Idaho Falls, you’d think the world is ending: the Winco grocery store is out of milk and bananas as locals and tourists alike stock up before the total solar eclipse that’s coming next week. There and at the local Walmarts, lines were out the door Monday night, despite the eclipse still being seven days away.
It’s not that people actually expect the apocalypse. Officials warned that the half million people planning to visit east Idaho next Monday could create shortages in food and gas, so everyone’s trying to get the essentials before they’re gone. Who wants to tell them that bananas spoil in less than seven days?
Finally, with fall just around the corner, basic white girls everywhere will be happy to hear that Starbucks pumpkin spice lattés are going to be available at the grocery store. Bottled, ready-to-drink pumpkin spice lattés will retail for $2.79 each and will hit shelves later in August, News Channel 8 reported. Pumpkin spice flavored ground coffee by Starbucks is already available at supermarkets.