Like most grocery stores, Sprouts Farmers Market offers discounts and promotions to its customers through several channels including e-mails and online coupons. But thanks to new data Sprouts is acquiring through a partnership with analytics provider Manthan Systems, the grocer is launching a new loyalty program based on customer analytics, which provides the company with specific data about its shoppers and their behaviors, Sprouts Chief Information and Marketing Officer Steve Black said during a Big !deas session at NRF‘s BIG Show in New York City on Monday. The new program will transition from one that is based on data about items to one that integrates both customer analytics and item data, giving Sprouts a better picture of who its best customers are and how to best engage with those who fall into its target market, he said.

“Every single experience of every single customer is important every single day,” which is why Sprouts hopes to improve the customer experience through the new program, Black said. (read more…)

iStock_000018376546XSmallPerennially popular Racines restaurant in Denver will close before midnight on New Year’s Eve, serving dinner and wrapping things up in plenty of time for patrons and workers to head downtown to see the annual midnight fireworks, owner Lee Goodfriend said.

Meanwhile, 2,000 miles east, TGI Friday’s in New York City’s Times Square will be offering a “Couples Champagne VIP Package” for $1,095, catering to revelers looking to get as close as possible to the ball drop, as the Wall Street Journal reported.

More than a million people are expected to crowd Times Square tonight, while there are only about 60,000 restaurant and bar seats, making the night a big celebration for eateries that can charge hundreds per head for meals including a $100 unlimited-pizza-and-beer party at Artichoke Basille’s and a $595 spaghetti dinner at Buca di Beppo, the Journal reports.

Eateries in the square aren’t the only Manhattan spots going all out on the eve, although those farther from the center of the action may have to try a little harder. (read more…)

Tis the season to party and companies are starting to do just that again, according to a new survey from executive search firm Battalia Winston, which found 96% of U.S. companies will throw holiday parties this year. That’s up from a post-recession low of 74% in 2011 and nearly on par with the all-time high of 97% hit in the boom years of 1996 and 1997.

Some 42% of respondents say they’re throwing a shindig to boost employee morale while 38% profess to partying in celebration of a good year for the company, a statistic that dovetails with the separate finding that 70% of companies surveyed said they’re on track to grow and hire next year.

Still, most companies aren’t socking in cases of champagne and tins of caviar for the occasion — 83% said they’ll stick to the same budget as last year and 10% plan to spend less on this year’s parties. (read more…)

This year’s PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans spoke of change in the industry and innovation to propel a community of produce growers, shippers and marketers into the future. Sessions ran the gamut, from emerging technology and creating passion for fruits and vegetables through powerful marketing techniques to PMA President Bryan Silbermann’s State of the Industry session, which inspired and motivated the some-18,000 attendees at this year’s show.

Here’s a look at Silbermann’s general session, the innovative Innovation @ work display area, which showcased this year’s Impact Award winners, as well as a few shots of the bustling show floor, where colorful produce and floral arrangements spanned the Ernst N. Morial Convention Center and people of the produce industry exuded enthusiasm and passion for the world of produce.

(read more…)

The 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show ended more than two weeks ago, but many stories from exhibitors are still front and center, thanks to the Specialty Food Association’s My Story, My Ad contest. This week, the public got their chance to read through the stories and vote for their favorites.

The contest grew from the association’s first-ever ad campaign that’s focused on telling the stories behind the food, with the tagline Specialty Food. Craft. Care. Joy. Some 373 fancy food entrepreneurs entered their stories during the show and online.

As of Wednesday afternoon, MagicalButter, a gadget that extracts nutrients from plants to make healthier butters, oils and even lotions, was leading with more than 750 votes. The machine was originally developed to ease the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and is now used by chefs and home cooks looking to derive a wide range of health benefits, according to the story submitted by founder and CEO Garyn Angel. (read more…)