Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer opened a 37,000-square-foot neighborhood grocery store called Bridge Street Market in late August. ( Courtesy Meijer )

Andrews Bros. focuses on sourcing

Detroit-based Andrews Bros. is focused on continuing to source the best quality produce and delivering to its customers, said Jeff Abrash, owner.

“We are working hard to satisfy our demanding customer base,” he said in late August.

Abrash said a mixture of quality independent retailers and foodservice purveyors is expanding sales for the company.


Young leaders fuel Ben B. Schwartz

A new generation of leaders is helping Detroit-based Ben B. Schwartz & Sons Inc. into a new era.

Jake Billmeyer and Drew Billmeyer, fourth-generation owners of the company, already have invested several years there, said Nate Stone, chief operating officer.

Jake has been with the company for nearly a decade and his brother Drew a few years short of that, Stone said.

President and CEO Chris Billmeyer provides strong direction for the company and gives leadership to his sons, Stone said.

Execution on issues such as food safety and trucking are more important than ever.

“Chris is constantly investing and reinvesting and upgrading equipment,” he said.

The company operates on the Detroit Produce Terminal at 7201 W. Fort St. and has done so since the late 1920s when Ben B. Schwartz was the first company to receive a rail car in the terminal, Stone said. The company is even older than that, as it was founded in 1906.

“It is one of the oldest companies in the industry and shows no signs of slowing down,” he said.

While the Detroit Produce Terminal building is old, it is effective — and it is paid for, Stone said.

The company has invested in top quality equipment and racks to make produce handling as efficient as possible.

“The business has come a long, long way,” he said, noting a good mix of retail and institutional business.


Double Up Food Bucks expands

Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks program began at five farmers markets in Detroit in 2009 and has since grown to more than 250 sites across Michigan, according to the group’s website.

The program doubles the value of federal nutrition (SNAP or food stamps) benefits spent at participating markets and grocery stores, and has benefited more than 300,000 low-income families and 1,000 farmers, according to the group.

The 2014 Farm Bill established the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grants program, or FINI, to help food-aid recipients afford produce with programs like Double Up Food Bucks.

The program is expected to be made permanent in the 2018 Farm Bill.


Kroger looking to boost employment

Kroger said in early August that its Michigan stores were looking to fill more than 600 positions with a statewide hiring event.

The Kroger Co. of Michigan hired 12,078 new associates during 2017, according to the company.


Meijer opens Bridge Street Market

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer opened a 37,000-square-foot neighborhood grocery store called Bridge Street Market in late August.

The neighborhood grocery store is a first of its kind in the region, store manager Ken Bair said in a news release.

“We are very excited to debut our new, local grocery store with the community,” Bair said in the release.

“Bridge Street Market is unique, and while it’s smaller than a traditional Meijer, we’ve worked diligently to ensure we have the best products on our shelves to meet the community’s needs.”

The release said the store offers a full assortment of fresh and prepared foods, including bakery items; fresh meat and deli offerings; an estimated 2,000 local, artisan groceries; and Meijer and national brand products. It hosts a Mayan Buzz Café coffee shop, an expansive beer, wine and liquor counter and basic cleaning, health and beauty care products, according to the release.

The company said Bridge Street Market features open-air elements with 22-foot ceilings and a pedestrian-friendly design with three garage-style doors that open onto the sidewalk along Bridge St., and dedicated parking on the main level of a connected parking deck.

“We are excited about what Bridge Street Market means for the community, this West Side development and for Meijer,” Meijer president and CEO Rick Keyes said.

“This is new territory for us, but we believe this is not only a smart business move and addresses the need for new ways to serve our changing customers, but it also positively impacts our community.”


Homegrown deal sparks Rocky Produce

Locally grown produce is a key offering for Detroit-based Rocky Produce, according to Dominic Russo, buying and sales representative at the fourth generation produce distributor.

“We have a lot of homegrown vegetables that supplement our offerings,” Russo said.

“A lot of our (local) farmers go directly to our customers and that’s fine, but we have come along side our farmers and are carrying as much of a full line as we can to be part of the local movement, to support the farmers and offer it to our customers,” he said.

In addition to local produce, Russo said Rocky Produce is handling big volume of Western produce, with about half of the company’s business retail customers and half foodservice.

In August, California grape volume and variety were excellent, fueling big sales. Berries and melons also have seen very strong movement in the late summer, he said.