business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  Meal kit company Blue Apron announced the closing of its "previously announced transaction with FreshRealm. Under the definitive agreements entered into today, Blue Apron transferred its operational infrastructure to FreshRealm, including fulfillment centers, equipment, know-how and related personnel. Blue Apron received approximately $25 million of upfront cash, subject to certain adjustments, and is eligible to receive up to $25 million of value upon the achievement of certain milestones."

Blue Apron now describes itself as "an asset-light company, focused on the growth of its direct-to-consumer business. The Company plans to continue to build its strong brand and deliver the high-quality products its customers have come to love. In addition, Blue Apron expects to accelerate the expansion of its product offerings, including the addition of new convenient options … With the ability to focus on the brand, marketing, product and consumer experience, Blue Apron expects to be more agile, which will facilitate faster decision making, enhance its balance sheet and reduce PTG&A costs. The Company believes this will allow it to get to profitability quicker."

•  About Fresh, the Boston-based nonprofit that works to expand access to high-quality, fresh food vital to people's health, wellbeing, and culture, announced "a new agreement with FIS, the global leader in financial services technology, to strengthen their proprietary Fresh Connect food prescription platform. About Fresh has leveraged the FIS Filtered Spend platform to expand their Fresh Connect program across a national network of over 10,000 grocery retail locations, including Albertsons, Kroger and Walmart. Fresh Connect shoppers can now easily shop for fresh fruits and vegetables at their preferred local store, swipe the prepaid debit card at check out, and the cost of eligible healthy foods are automatically deducted from the total purchase price."

The announcement notes that "more than 35 million Americans lack reliable and affordable food access due to low wages, inflated food costs and limited grocery retail options. Fresh Connect makes it possible for healthcare to cover the cost of healthy food for those experiencing food insecurity."

•  FMI-The Food Industry Association yesterday released a statement about the May 2023 Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers that reveal another month of moderating food price inflation.  The statement was attributed to Andy Harig, FMI's VP of Tax, Trade, Sustainability and Policy Development:

“The May CPI report reveals grocery prices continue to level off, with food price inflation relatively flat since February and significantly lower than the July 2022 peak. Particularly heartening is the number of items in grocery store aisles with declining prices, including eggs, cereals, meat and dairy.

“We understand from our U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends research that consumers remain concerned about prices at the grocery store. The cost of food can be impacted by a number of factors – including unexpected events – but we remain optimistic that food inflation will continue to moderate throughout 2023.

“While we are heading in the right direction, grocers still face headwinds in terms of labor shortages and transportation challenges, and we anticipate that prices will likely remain above pre-pandemic levels for much of the year.

“FMI and the food industry are working together on ways to meet the needs of grocery shoppers, including offering private brand products, investing in technology and facilitating trading partner collaboration to help take the stress off the primary sources of supply.”

•  From the Wall Street Journal this morning:

"Bud Light no longer rules the American beer market.

"Modelo Especial overtook the brand as the top-selling U.S. beer in May, punctuating a monthslong boycott of Bud Light that has reshuffled the beer industry.

"Modelo represented 8.4% of U.S. retail-store beer sales in the four weeks ended June 3, compared with 7.3% for Bud Light, according to an analysis of Nielsen data by consulting firm Bump Williams.

"Bud Light’s sales have tanked since April, when transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted an image on Instagram of a personalized Bud Light can that the brand had sent her as a gift. The Instagram post sparked an uproar, and brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev’s response to the boycott angered even more people.

"Bud Light’s sales were down about 24% in the week ended June 3 compared with the same week last year, according to Bump Williams. Other Anheuser-Busch brands also have taken a hit, including Budweiser and Michelob Ultra."

•  From USA Today:

"Instant Pots were considered an essential product early in the pandemic but lower discretionary spending on home products forced parent company, Instant Brands, to declare bankruptcy this week.

"The kitchen ware giant's decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection followed a year of of low sales for its appliances, including the notable electric pressure cooker

"The filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas highlights the impact of inflation as Americans reduced spending on its products including Pyrex glassware. The Illinois-based company listed over $500 million in both assets and liabilities."