April 22, 2021 at 05:14PM

On Wednesday (April 21), over 230 representatives from 143 businesses in the grocery industry and other parts of the food supply chain convened for a virtual “Day in Washington” to meet with lawmakers and discuss policy issues affecting the industries, reports Winsight Grocery Business. The event featured members of the National Grocers Association (NGA) and from FMI–The Food Industry Association convening for more than 220 meetings with members of Congress and other legislative officials. At these sessions, they discussed “legislative issues important to their businesses, such as maintaining a tax code that is fair and provides certainty, as well as reforms to the U.S. card payments system,” per NGA and FMI’s joint news release.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, supermarket operators and our millions of dedicated employees have worked tirelessly to safely keep their doors open and Americans fed. And, while we’re beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel, we know there is still a long way to go,” Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI, said in a statement. “Our industry is committed to working with Congress on critical policies that will allow us to effectively support the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.”

“Independent community grocers have rallied to ensure their neighbors’ needs have been met in a time of crisis, and have been proactive at innovating for safety as well as retailing,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO. “This week, our industry’s leaders made sure that policymakers understand the lengths to which supermarket operators have gone to maintain and grow strong communities, and how leaders in Washington can best support these ongoing efforts.”

Denver Retailer Introduces Computer Vision-Enabled Market

Amazon, which just introduced palm-scanning payment technology at Whole Foods Market locations in Seattle, is far from the only retailer trying out new ways to upgrade its brick-and-mortar stores with next-gen technologies. Denver, Colorado’s hybrid grocery-convenience store Choice Market introduced Choice: Now, an in-store technology system that uses computer vision to enable autonomous transactions, to its 5,000-square-foot flagship store on Friday (Apr 16), reports Grocery Dive.

The system, developed with retail technology developer AiFi, features QR code check-ins through the store’s mobile app, which prompts the computer vision software to track the items a customer picks, automatically charging the shopper’s mobile account without a checkout stop.

“This is a huge moment, not only for us, but for the entire industry,” said Choice Founder and CEO Mike Fogarty said in a statement. “We are beyond excited to partner with AiFi to launch our Choice: NOW shopping experience, which provides our customers a contactless, convenient and independent shopping option. In conjunction with our high-quality, personalized scratch kitchen, in-house native delivery, and click and collect options, we are providing our customers with choice in terms of how they shop and ultimately creating a disruptive business model that is reinventing convenience.”

The store features groceries, ready-to-eat meals prepared in its kitchen, in-store shops from Denver food service retailers, and an in-house delivery channel.

Ocado Invests $14 Million In Autonomous Delivery Startup

U.K.-based eGrocer Ocado has invested 10 million pounds (about $13.8 million) in self-driving vehicle company Oxbotica, a robotics startup founded by two Oxford University professors that develops autonomous vans, trucks, and other vehicles, reports The Guardian. Ocado’s goal is to automate the delivery process from when products arrive at the warehouse to when the grocery order arrives at the shopper’s door.

“From a customer’s perspective you open your door and outside you will see an autonomous van or another autonomous vehicle pull up outside your house,” Ocado Chief of Advanced Technology Alex Harvey told the publication, “and most likely an autonomous robot will get out of that autonomous vehicle, will collect your groceries, and hand them to you at the doorstep.”

The deal is not exclusive for either company, reports TechCrunch.

Ocado has been developing automated warehouses for some time now, and the company acquired two robotics companies last November.

75+ New York State Grocery Stores Go Solar-Powered

The trend toward more sustainable grocery is only continuing to grow — eco-conscious online grocer Misfits Market just raised $200 million in Series C funding shortly after fellow anti-food waste online grocer Imperfect Foods raised $110 million in Series D funding, while brick-and-mortar grocery giants have been announcing their own sustainability pledges.

In New York State, Northeastern grocery chain Tops Friendly Markets is going green, partnering with energy storage solutions developer Convergent Energy + Power to power more than 75 of the grocer’s stores with renewable solar energy, reports Progressive Grocer.

“Our ongoing commitment to sustainability is met with enthusiasm and resolve every day, as we work to ensure we leave our communities — and our planet — better for the next generation,” John Persons, Tops president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “We are excited to be working with Convergent, a values-aligned business with the expertise to deliver solar energy to our stores as efficiently as possible.”

Grocery Roundup: Grocers Eye Policy Changes And Next-Gen Technologies …

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