A Quick Note from the General Manager
We get a lot of great questions from our members and shoppers, so every few weeks I plan on turning over my GM report to one of my colleagues so they can share their expertise with you.
Something you want to learn more about? Reach out to me anytime or email our comment line at email@example.com.
from Our Merchandising Manager*
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the serpentine network of supply chains that transports goods throughout the world is vulnerable at best, fragile at worst. As I write this, multiple factors have driven fuel and food costs to historic highs, and many of our members and shoppers naturally want to understand more about how this impacts our business and what we’re doing in response.
The good news is that many things have improved, especially compared to the panic buying and distribution bottlenecks we saw in the first two years of the pandemic.
Issues with empty shelves—which we call “out of stocks”—have subsided. We are definitely seeing stronger fulfillment of orders than we were before, and for the customer this means that you can find more of your favorite products, which is good news. But that doesn’t necessarily mean those products are cheap. The primary supply chain issue we are dealing with now is rising prices.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the unprecedented supply chain issues created by the pandemic, the typical national grocery brand may have gone up in price once or twice a year. Now we are seeing some brands go up in price multiple times within just a few months—or even weeks.
The primary reason is a trifecta of rising fuel costs, inflation, and labor shortages. These three factors create a perfect storm that impacts pricing all the way from the production of raw goods and packaging to manufacturing to wholesale distribution and anything in between.
We see these impacts in nearly every product category and department—including fresh and non-fresh—as they are all subject to the same needs. That is, all products need to be handled, packed, shipped, trucked, delivered, put on a shelf, and sold.
So How are we Responding?
With Balance. We want to remain competitive with our pricing, especially on national brands and commodity products, but we also need to achieve a reasonable profit margin to cover our cost of goods and business expenses. As you might imagine, there is no perfect balance here.
However, as a cooperative with a strong local product base, we have an edge. We continue to find strength in our ability to pull from a diverse market of wholesale suppliers and producers, allowing us to shop around for better pricing and in some cases negotiate pricing with our suppliers.
These wholesale partnerships also allow us to offer what we call our three “destination drivers”:
These are the products that shoppers are not able to buy from our chain-store competitors.
We continue to offer the largest selection of local foods around, with ambitious goals to grow that offering even more over the next three years.
We strive to offer the highest-quality selections in the Upper Valley, especially in our “best-of” areas like specialty cheese, craft beer, and fresh seafood.
Looking ahead, the USDA predicts that food prices will continue to rise throughout the year. As we negotiate this ever-changing environment, we’ll be monitoring trends and responding to your needs and requests. Our goal? To strike a balance for you.
—Jacob Vincent, Merchandising Manager
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