Global grocery: News and ideas from the world of food retail

Ideas and updates from Absolut, Aldi, Lidl and more
absolut paper-based bottle

Absolut’s paper-based bottle

Eco-conscious consumers in the U.K. can head to one of 22 Tesco supermarkets in Manchester to grab vodka packaged in a paper-based bottle. Absolut Vodka has debuted what its touting as the first-ever commercially available paper bottles at the U.K. supermarket chain for a three-month pilot. According to the company, the trial will provide insights from consumers, retailers and supply chain partners to inform its next steps in its goal to achieve a fully bio-based bottle and reduce its CO2 emissions. Absolut is not the only brand pushing paper packaging at Tesco, Mars Wrigley UK is also testing a paper-wrapped Mars bar at the supermarket. At 500 Tesco locations, the confectionery giant is piloting its iconic bars in recyclable paper packaging, ditching the plastic, for a limited run. Mars Wrigley UK says it is part of an initiative to explore different packaging options as part of its Sustainable in a Generation Plan.

lidl 50th anniversary

Lidl turns 50

Discounter Lidl is celebrating a half-century in business this year. The operation started with a single store in Ludwigshafen-Mundenheim, Germany in 1973 and has grown to include more than 12,000 stores and 200 distribution centres in 32 countries, employing some 360,000 people. The retailer is marking its 50th with a series of promotional events, competitions and discounts in Germany through to the fall.

aldi's next big thing

Aldi returns to the small screen

After attracting millions of U.K. viewers for six weeks last fall, Aldi’s Next Big Thing has been renewed by Channel 4 for a second season. The program gave 36 small food and drink makers the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Aldi’s managing director of buying, Julie Ashfield, for a chance to make it onto the discounter’s shelves. From edible bugs and camel milk to Yorkshire pudding beer and rum cake, the series, hosted by Anita Rani and Chris Bavin, took viewers on a “behind-the-scenes journey” of what it takes to bring a product to market, with the winning products from each episode selling out within days of appearing on the show. Aldi is currently calling on British suppliers to apply to appear on the new series.

france food prices

France cuts food prices

Following government pressure, 75 of France’s biggest food manufacturers have agreed to lower prices on hundreds of products where raw material costs have fallen. Starting in July, the prices on certain essential items such as pasta, poultry and vegetable oil will come down between 2% and 10%, according to reports. The move is intended to help consumers cope with persistent high food inflation. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who brought about the deal, has threatened financial sanctions if companies break their commitment.

carrefour hopla

Carrefour embraces ChatGPT

French retailer Carrefour has launched three solutions based on ChatGPT technology. Hopla, the new chatbot based on OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology, is integrated into its website in France and allows shoppers to ask for help choosing products that fit their budget, dietary preferences or menu ideas based on what’s in their fridge. According to Carrefour, Hopla can also serve up anti-waste solutions including suggestions for reusing ingredients. The retailer is also using generative AI to enhance its brand product sheets, with more than 2,000 already online to provide customers with more information on its products. The tech is also being used to support purchasing procedures. “Generative AI will enable us to enrich the customer experience and profoundly transform our working methods,” said Alexandre Bompard, Carrefour Group chairman and CEO, in a release. “By pioneering the use of generative AI, we want to be one step ahead and invent the retail of tomorrow.”

This article first appeared in Canadian Grocer’s June/July 2023 issue.

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