Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural products industry business briefs

Cook-to-order is latest convenience

Chefs smoke salmon and grill vegetables, while customers sit down for a beverage. Sound like an upscale restaurant? Try a grocery store. Rising to the challenge of making healthy foods convenient, a few Whole Foods Market locations are now offering cook-to-order services in their meat, seafood, produce and prepared-foods sections. Chefs stand by to season and cook everything from vegan dishes to steak, served complete with cloth napkins and flatware. Geared toward folks who are time-crunched or don't want to cook for themselves, Whole Foods' new services offer natural and organic alternatives to restaurant dining.

Let trust be unbroken

A recent survey uncovered some good news for retailers: In these times of shaky consumer confidence, shoppers have greater faith in retail grocers and activists than either the government or food companies when it comes to information about food choices. A randomized national poll commissioned by Waukesha, Wis.-based communications and consulting firm Morgan&Myers found that 62 percent of shoppers thought retail grocers have consumers' best interests in mind when providing information.

Sunflower Farmers Markets to bloom

If things go as planned, the West will be filled with sunflowers by 2012?Sunflower Farmers Markets, that is. The Boulder, Colo.-based grocery chain, founded and led by Wild Oats founder Mike Gilliland, announced it has raised $30 million in equity financing from PCG Capital Partners, based in La Jolla, Calif. The company plans to launch up to eight new stores a year, and expand into Texas and Utah to bring its total to 50 within the next five years. Sunflower currently operates 13 stores in Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.

Santa Monica ban to keep beaches clean

When volunteers for the annual Coastal Cleanup day in Santa Monica, Calif., picked up more than 75,000 pounds of trash in three hours, most of it Styrofoam and plastic, the city knew something had to change. Starting this month, all food providers in Santa Monica will be prohibited from dispensing food in any nonrecyclable containers. Only recyclable, biodegradable or aluminum containers will be allowed, in hopes of cutting down on the clumps of trash that often mar beachgoers' experience.—H.O.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 2/p. 18

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