Written by By Lionel Bienvenu, CNN Los Angeles, California Written by Lionel Bienvenu, CNN Los Angeles, California
A widely held belief among retail investors — that potential labor shortages are at risk of driving up prices — may not be so gloomy.
Last year, grocery stores braced for labour shortages as supermarket giants like Kroger Corp and Wal-Mart started laying off workers who typically work part-time.
This year was also foreshadowed by some major retailers. Home Depot announced earlier this year that it was laying off 13,000 salaried workers. Lululemon said it was closing 150 stores after severe sales drops in China and Canada, and Tesla said it was laying off over 1,000 workers.
But just as it does for airports, we caught up with the chief executive of Alimentation Couche-Tard , Alexandre Gagnon, who said the biggest danger facing the retail sector has been de-cluttering of grocery shelves: shoppers have stopped buying produce and meat and instead gravitate toward fresh items like bakery goods.
“One of the biggest risks is the homogenization of the produce [at the grocery store] … That’s why … most companies like our Couche-Tard supermarket,” he said.
What are groceries doing to impact growth in grocery and retail?
Gagnon recently spoke at The Future Logistics & Retail Forum, a business conference in Toronto. We spoke about where fresh food technology is helping to combat labor shortages: butchers, regional experts in groceries, and other industries
1 / 11 – Port on Foot A bird walks on a pierside railway
The economic boon of the cross-cultural relationship is a big part of what attracted Mona Wellesley and her husband, Oscar Goodall, to sell produce in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon.
“We started Port on Foot to give back to the communities that have helped us so much.”
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The founders of Port on Foot said each of their companies — which they operate independently — has its own distinct business model.
Oscar Goodall, chief executive and co-founder of Port on Foot, noted that farming with high savings rates — such as agroforestry in northern Brazil — is costly.
“In our strategic plans, we continue to explore different modes and models to generate good-quality and affordable food,” he said.
“Moving forward, many of the products that we manufacture and distribute will offer a rural interconnection, in other words, greater cross-border trade and that will have very positive impact to the people of the northeastern states.”
With only 8% of Brazilians owning a car, Port on Foot has worked to get its workers on urban trains so that, they say, they don’t have to leave their homes to go to work.
Gagnon said it was understandable that a supply crunch was having an effect on grocery store operating costs.
According to the Conference Board , food prices will rise 3.2% this year and have experienced two consecutive year-over-year increases of nearly 5%. In August, the USDA raised its forecast for 2018 US grocery inflation to 3.1%.
“When I grew up, a shopper in France could go to several stores and find a similar product at a similar price … Today I can walk, in any city, and find the same product (if not better),” Gagnon said.
In a bid to get more French shoppers to cross the border to shop in the United States, Couche-Tard opened its first store in Belleville, New York.
Meanwhile, at the store’s convenience, I could find a bottle of protein powder for $9.99 (400 grams), enough to send me on an eight-week diet.