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Business First of Columbus reports that Kroger has begun negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) on a new contract that would cover some 10,000 employees at 87 stores in the Columbus region. The old contract does not expire until November 9, but both sides have begun talking now in the hope of having a deal completed by the end of August, thus avoiding any labor strife.

• The Wm. J. Wrigley Jr. Co. has set September 25 as the date on which its shareholders are scheduled to vote on a proposed sale of the company to Mars Inc. for $23 billion.

US and European regulators already have cleared the way for the deal, which is being partially financed by investment guru Warren Buffett.

• The Chicago Tribune reports that Walgreen Co. is expanding its Prescription Savings Club so that it offers consumers more than 400 generic products in 90-day supplies for $12, or less than $1 per week.

According to the story, “The list of covered generics includes treatments for asthma, high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Walgreens' Prescription Savings Club, launched last fall, also offers savings on more than 5,000 brand-name and generic medications.”

• Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market has announced a new “BYOB” program. Customers will receive five cents off their total bill for each plastic grocery bag that a customer brings back into the store for use in a single transaction. In addition to the rebate on reused plastic, Sprouts continues its sale of the “Sprouts Green” canvas bag.

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