ALA Executive Briefing
July 1, 2011

Commissary savings at risk to help ill Lejeune vets
In these tight budget times, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has learned it must cut current spending to fund new initiatives for veterans. To free up billions of dollars for the cost of providing VA health care to veterans and family members exposed to contaminated water over three decades at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., won approval, without debate, to consolidate all base exchanges and commissary operations worldwide into a single for-profit retailing system.

To view bill, click here.More

Defense budget hinges on debt talks
With tension surrounding the U.S. debt talks growing, President Barack Obama stepped forward to argue that non-security discretionary spending should not be the only target of budget cuts. A balanced approach that also includes tax reform and trimming the Pentagon's budget is needed, the president said during a June 29 news conference.More

Gates: Defense not the cause of budget deficit
Military spending is not the cause of the $1.4 trillion U.S. budget deficit, and even a "disastrous" 10 percent cut would only reduce the budget shortfall by some $50 billion — about 4 percent, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says.More

Americans see Army, Marines as most important to defense
Americans believe that the U.S. Army and Marines are the most important to national defense, followed by the Air Force and Navy. This differs from the years prior to the start of the Iraq war, when Americans named the Air Force as the most important branch of the armed forces.More

Employment opportunities for military spouses expand
Government Executive
Defense Department officials and U.S. Chamber of Commerce leaders recently joined Jill Biden in launching the Military Spouse Employment Partnership to connect husbands and wives of service members from all military branches with long-term career opportunities. The program aims to match the skills of military spouses who want to work with the needs of businesses nationwide. More

At Pentagon, is change in US Army attire a step back from a war footing?
The Christian Science Monitor
Just as the U.S. troop draw down in Afghanistan announced by President Barack Obama has been characterized as the beginning of the end of the war, the U.S. Army is making a highly symbolic change that similarly signals an ebb in combat footing.More

SVM to match Commissary Gift Card donations 'operation basic needs'
The Sacramento Bee
The newly launched Commissary Gift Card can be used by military personnel, retirees and their families to make purchases at any one of the commissaries operated worldwide. In honor of the men and women that serve our country, SVM, LP is matching all Commissary Gift Card purchases donated to USA Cares through a special designated website. More

America's first zero-packaging grocery store to open in Austin
VideoBriefEver feel a pang of guilt throwing away glass bottles, plastic containers, and loads of other completely reusable packaging materials? If that's you, then the zero-waste grocery store in.gredients coming to Austin, Texas, will be your new favorite store.More

New lows: Beverage manufacturers are churning out low- and no-calorie versions of their functional drinks
Supermarket News
Americans are cutting calories, not just by switching what's on the end of their fork, but also by throwing back better-for-you versions of their favorite beverages. Armed with stevia sweeteners and other flavor enhancers, manufacturers are bringing line extensions to the party — and to the delight of consumers, there is little sacrifice to taste.More

Hot ideas, fresh from the oven
Progressive Grocer
Supermarket bakery products continue to evolve, along with ways to market and prepare them. Whether from the in-store bakery, frozen and refrigerated cases or commercial bakery aisles, consumers are choosing an ever-widening range of sweet and savory baked goods — and even concocting their own creations at home from ingredients also purchased at grocery stores.More

Mintel: Sauces, marinades market seasoned with growth
Gourmet Retailer
The return to the kitchen that has been seen throughout the U.S. recession has amped up many food and drink segments, and the sauces and marinades market is joining the upward swing. "With more people staying in and preparing meals at home, we are not surprised to see this category increase," notes David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel.More

2011 meetings
For details on any of our events, visit our Web page at

2011 ALA/DeCA Hawaii Conference & Food Show: Aug. 15-18, Hawaii Prince Hotel, Honolulu. Watch for registration information.

ALA Hawaii Scholarship Golf Tournament: Aug. 16, Kapolei Golf Course, 91701 Farrington Hwy., Waipahu, Hawaii 96797, Phone: 808-674-2227
(Assists DeCA/ALA beneficiaries in going to college.)

Three $4,000 scholarships to be awarded. You can help make this happen!

Shotgun start: 1-1:30 p.m., dinner and awards: 6 p.m. $135/person (industry), $95/person government. (Registration must be received by Aug. 6 to quality for government rate.)

Entry includes greens fees, cart, boxed lunch, buffet dinner and door prizes. Prizes also awarded for longest drive, closest to the pin, best score and hole in one.

Commissary Council Consumer Awareness Team Golf Tournament: Sept. 12, Country Club of Petersburg, Va. Contact Ainsley Everhart at for further information and registration.

64th Annual Convention: Oct. 3-5, Orlando World Marriott Center, Orlando, Fla. Watch for registration information.More

Consumer confidence falls in June
The Street
Americans are feeling queasier about the economy, according to a June survey by the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. According to 3,000 households polled in the survey, a weak jobs market and less-than-ideal income levels are the main complaints. The confidence index often correlates to equity prices, the state of the job market, media reports and gas prices.More

Walmart offers dime-a-gallon gas discount in 18 states
USA Today
Just in time for the Fourth of July driving weekend, Walmart is rolling back prices — on gasoline. The giant retailer is offering 10 cents off a gallon at Walmart and Murphy USA stations when purchases are made with a reloadable Walmart gift card, MoneyCard or a Walmart credit card.More

Higher gas prices affecting grocery spending
Progressive Grocer
With national gas prices 40 percent higher on average today than a year ago, many shoppers are having difficulty affording their weekly groceries. It is also a difficult situation for CPG companies, with manufacturers experiencing increased costs due to rising commodity and processing prices, and retailers seeing tight margins squeezed even tighter.More

Private label brands continue to post gains across major channels
Convenience Store News
Store brands wrapped up a decade of strong growth, posting sales increases across all three major retail channels in 2010, according to the latest Private Label Yearbook published by the Private Label Manufacturers Association. Total private label sales in U.S. supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandisers including Walmart, rose nearly 2 percent in 2010, while dollar share advanced by almost half a point to reach a new record level. Overall, sales were at $88.5 billion.More

Walmart downsizes its stores
MSN Money
Walmart stores are about to get smaller — the new ones, anyway. The company still runs the giant, sprawling supercenters that we're familiar with. But now it's opening more midsized stores under the Walmart Market name. They're about the size of an average supermarket.More

Consumer spending in US unexpectedly stagnated in May as prices climbed
Bloomberg News
Consumer spending unexpectedly stagnated in May as employment prospects dimmed and rising inflation caused Americans to cut back. Purchases were little changed, the weakest outcome since June 2010, after a revised 0.3 percent gain the prior month that was smaller than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures show.More

Shoplifting on the rise: A sign of recovery?
That latest sign of an economic recovery: shoplifting is back. Typically, an increase in shoplifting is believed to be an indicator of tough economic times. But a recent study by the National Retail Federation, which found that retail theft by employees is on the rise, says the recent spike in stealing could very well mean the economy is on the upswing. More

Retailers scout new paths in shaky times
Retailers and the companies that provide their wares are searching for new ways to grow as shoppers are still not confident enough about the economy to open their wallets and spend.More

Sources: Sears Holdings considering Washington area for headquarters move
The Washington Post
Sears Holdings Corp., owner of the Sears and Kmart retail chains, is considering the Washington area as a place to relocate its corporate headquarters, according to two people familiar with the company's plans. The company is one of more than 100 in Illinois with tax breaks that are scheduled to expire and last month suggested that it would considering leaving.More

Costco partners with Kawasaki dealerships
Kantar Retail
Costco has partnered with Kawasaki Motors to offer its members special pricing on powersports vehicles.More

New IDs put personal info at the Exchange on a 'need to know' basis
U.S. Air Force
Social Security numbers are enjoying the top-secret clearance they have always deserved as the Department of Defense officials have removed the nine digit number from identification cards issued after June 1. Authorized Exchange shoppers who receive the new ID will notice some changes when writing a check, putting something on layaway or making a return at an Army & Air Force Exchange Service facility. More

Ground broken on USO Warrior Center at Fort Belvoir
The Washington Post
Ground has been broken on a major USO center at Fort Belvoir that will provide wounded Army soldiers with a place outside the hospital to recover from injuries and to be with their families. The Wounded Warrior and Family Center at the Army post in Fairfax County will be the nation's first stateside USO facility providing non-critical care and support for recovering service members and their families.More

Strengthening mission readiness through family services
Coast Guard Compass
The Coast Guard performs a long list of services on an average day. From saving lives to screening vessels, Coast Guard men and women work diligently to protect those on the sea, protect America from threats delivered by sea and protect the sea itself. But while impressive, these accomplishments are only possible with the support of families and the network of family resources that enable our Coast Guard men and women to focus on their duties.More

DOD wants your opinion on MWR programs
U.S. Marine Corps
Beginning June 15, the Department of Defense will conduct a customer satisfaction survey to evaluate Morale, Welfare and Recreation program delivery. This second biennial survey will collect feedback from Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve members on their experiences with the MWR program overall and with a core set of MWR programs including fitness, libraries and recreation programs (outdoor recreation, recreation centers, automotive skills, single member services and leisure travel). More

Remembering the fallen at the Gold Star Mothers' brunch
Defense Viseo & Imagery Distribution System
The beautiful room at the St. Louis Union Station Marriott was filled with large round tables and crowded with women in white dresses, men in suits and Marines in uniform. People laughed and smiled as they enjoyed brunch together. Onlookers never would imagine that hidden behind the laughter, lies unimaginable heartache.More