Grocery Roundup: Instacart Beefs Up Delivery As SMBs Struggle To Hire

Grocery Roundup: Instacart Beefs Up Delivery As SMBs Struggle To Hire

June 10, 2021 at 10:30PM

Consumers can now order meat directly from Instacart— no in-store picking necessary. The online grocer has added direct-to-consumer (D2C) online meat shop ButcherBox to its marketplace. The meat seller announced Friday (June 4) that its Instacart storefront would let consumers shop its meat boxes through the platform to be delivered directly to their doors.

“Instacart is committed to offering customers a wide selection of items and more ways to get exactly what they need from the retailers they know and love,” Chris Rogers, vice president of global retail at Instacart, said in a statement. “With the addition of ButcherBox to the Instacart marketplace, we’re making their curated, high-quality proteins even more accessible to customers nationwide.”

While the Instacart storefront sells one-time boxes, the company’s website sells subscriptions.

“We did not expect to be a larger company or have lots and lots of customers,” ButcherBox Founder and CEO Mike Salguero told PYMNTS in a 2019 interview. “What I wanted to do was build a monthly subscription, because monthly subscription lifestyle businesses are great businesses to be in.”

While the news of the addition of one new partner to the marketplace seems relatively minor compared to Instacart’s other recent initiatives — starting to build a nationwide chain of automated fulfillment centers, debuting 30-minute deliveries, and making moves toward global expansion — it indicates a possible paradigm shift. Rather than sticking to delivering for brick-and-mortar retailers with its gig worker in-store pickers, Instacart appears to be looking to move into other ways of fulfilling orders. Butcherbox’s Instacart store, for instance, will leverage FedEx and other third-party delivery services.

The Giant Co. Expands Partnership With Food Waste Fighting eCommerce App

Grocers and consumers alike are looking for solutions to the food waste problem, not only to ease their consciences but also to lighten their load financially. Ahold Delhaize-owned, Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based supermarket chain The Giant Company, for one, announced Tuesday (June 8) that it is expanding its partnership with grocery eCommerce app Flashfood to all its stores, Carlisle newspaper The Sentinel reports. The app allows consumers to purchase soon-to-expire fresh groceries at a discounted rate to pick up in stores at the designated “Flashfood zone.”

“Our ongoing partnership with Flashfood is two-fold: providing our customers with access to fresh foods, while also helping to divert more than 250,000 pounds of additional food waste away from landfills,” Glennis Harris, the company’s senior vice president of customer experience, said in a statement. “We’ve received great feedback over the past year from our customers … We can’t wait to offer this program at all of our stores and to all of our customers this summer.”

For Giant’s part, the partnership allows the company to sell products that might otherwise have been thrown out. As Flashfood Founder and Chief Executive Officer Josh Domingues told PYMNTS in a 2018 interview, “The average grocery store is throwing out about five or six thousand dollars’ worth of food a day.” Consequently, he noted, the company “benefits the retailer; it benefits the consumer, and it benefits the environment by reducing food waste.”

As Restaurant Jobs Come Back, Grocery’s Take A Hit

Much has been made of the labor shortage facing the restaurant industry. However, restaurants are not the only food-selling businesses having a difficult time staffing. In fact, as restaurants added 186,000 new jobs in May, accounting for a third of all United States job growth, grocery fared significantly worse.

As the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday (June 4), total jobs in food and beverage stores fell by 26,000 in May, after taking a hit of 47,000 jobs April. Grocers are beginning to scramble, with regional chains looking to hire by the hundreds or thousands.

Meanwhile, Kroger announced Monday (June 7) that it is holding a hiring event with the goal of bringing on 10,000 new employees. The company is advertising its expected average wage of $16 per hour, its tuition reimbursement program, its training programs, its perks and its health supports.

“In today’s highly competitive labor market, we know talent is selective,” Dawn Gilmore, the company’s head of talent acquisition, said in a statement.

Meijer Plans Smaller-Format Store

Meijer? More like minor. The grocery chain, known for its supercenters, is getting ready to build a smaller store that would carry a more streamlined selection. Grocery Dive reports that the retailer has been approved by the Charter Township of Orion Planning Commission to build this half-size store in Orion Township, Michigan.

Rather than having an extensive array of groceries, essentials, home goods, beauty and health products and more, as other Meijer locations do, this store would “focus on food offerings, such as produce, fresh bakery items, deli, along with a full assortment of beer, wine, and liquor.”

It would not be the chain’s first smaller store — in fact, it has a couple that are around 40,000 square feet. However, this would be the first of its model, a sizable store focused on groceries, suggesting that Meijer might become an umbrella brand for a range of different store models.