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• The St. Louis Business Journal reports that Schnucks and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) have reached a tentative contract agreement that, if ratified, would cover some 4500 employees who are part of the union. A vote on the pact is slated to occur tomorrow.

The story notes that "members of the UFCW Local 655 voted last month to reject a proposed three-year contract with Schnucks, with 89 percent voting against the offer. The union said at the time that Schnucks' proposed changes to the seniority portion of the contract would result in a reduction of 133 full-time jobs, while other changes would eliminate guarantees of a minimum 25-hour schedule for part timers, could cut health care coverage for most or all part-time workers, and would eliminate holiday premium pay for new hires, among other objections."

• The Chicago Sun Times reports that the Girl Scouts of America and General Mills are teaming up to offer new cereals based on the Girls Scouts’ Thin Mints and Somoas cookies.

According to the story, "The cereals will be called Thin Mints and Caramel Crunch. The Girl Scouts Cookie cereals will be available nationwide in January."

• The Tampa Bay Times reports on the opening of a new Winn-Dixie store in South Tampa, a new format store that is one of five developed by the Southeastern Grocers CEO Ian McLeod. According to the piece, "The store has a new focus on organic, locally sourced and prepared products, trends that can be seen across the board at grocery stores around Tampa Bay ... This way the new Winn-Dixie is better equipped to compete with more high-end grocery brands, like the Publix Greenwise store, The Fresh Market and Whole Foods around the corner."

The goal, the story says, is to create formats that are more locally oriented. "Some of these redesigns include closing pharmacies or seafood counters in some stores, or expanding the meat sections or delis in others. It comes down to demographics research from the neighborhoods each store is in and feedback Southeastern Grocers gets from customer surveys, McLeod said."

• Two news items about WinCo Foods - one saying that the company plans to open its first store in Montana, in Helena ... and the other saying that it plans to open a new smaller format - 40,000 square feet - in Keizer, Oregon. The latter unit will use the Waremart banner, which, ironically, is the chain's original name from when it was founded in 1967.

• The Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program aid yesterday that it will be partnering with Park City Group subsidiary ReposiTrak "to integrate SQF audit management into ReposiTrak’s Compliance Management System.  The move will benefit SQF’s thousands of registered suppliers, in addition to its certification bodies and auditors, in managing the audit process from initial request and payment, through collection of results and reporting.  As part of the initiative, ReposiTrak will host and provide exclusive access to SQFI’s audit results database."

Full disclosure: ReposiTrak is a longtime and valued MNB sponsor.
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