business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (AWG) this week "reported record consolidated company sales of $12.3 billion, an increase of 13.65% on a comparable basis over 2021, and distributed $273 million of year-end patronage immediately following its Annual Shareholders Meeting … AWG’s cooperative net sales were $10.7 billion, up 10.08%. The total distribution of cooperative benefits returned to shareholders, including interest, allowances, and patronage, was $543.6 million."

The company said that it "invested $6.41 million in temporary fuel surcharge relief, which will now become permanent in 2023, and significant investments in supply chain infrastructure, technology platform upgrades, and continuing implementation of the ambitious Convergence project to reduce cost-of-goods to member stores. The company counteracted declining off-invoice vendor allowances by investing $41.2 million incrementally in cooperative- funded product price reductions of national and store brands."

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

•  Circana - the analytics firm made up of the companies formerly known as IRI and The NPD Group - released a report saying that "annual spending per consumer has increased to $10,471, up $440 versus a year ago."

However, "While most consumers are making trade-offs to offset rising costs, priorities and shopping habits vary widely across different demographic groups … consumers are spending less on products that were popular during the height of the pandemic, such as technology, liquor and home care, and more on dining out and necessities like in-home food and beverage and pet care. However, trade-offs vary widely among consumer segments as shoppers prioritize their unique needs."

A snapshot:  "Millennials are spending more on food, dining out, tobacco and e-cigarettes, and less on technology, home textiles and office supplies … Gen Z consumers are leading the pack when it comes to ordering foodservice online … 

Hispanic shoppers spend 17% more than average on foodservice … High-income households are driving growth for the health and vitamin channels … Low-income SNAP shoppers have pulled back on discretionary spending, reducing spend on non-food items at over 3x the rate of food and beverage."

•  From the Wall Street Journal:

Federal health regulators are nearing a decision on whether to authorize a second round of the Omicron-targeted booster shots for the elderly and other people at high-risk of severe Covid-19, people familiar with the agency’s deliberations said.

"Food and Drug Administration officials could make the decision within a few weeks, the people said.

"The officials are moving toward authorizing the second jabs of the Omicron-targeted shots for people who are 65 years and older or who have weakened immune systems, though the officials haven’t reached a final decision and could change their mind, one of the people said.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would then have to recommend the shots for them to become widely available. 

"The deliberations come as some people especially vulnerable to infection have asked their doctors to give them a second round of the updated booster, even though the FDA hasn’t signed off on such a use to date.  At the same time, some infectious-disease experts have called on federal health officials to permit another round of boosting to better safeguard people with comparatively weaker immune defenses, as the United Kingdom and Canada have done."