Milpas on the Move by Sharon Byrne
Those of you that thought Fresh & Easy was on the ropes, closing, or going down…get ready for a pleasant surprise. You might remember that several Fresh & Easy stores were bought out by Wild Oats, ours here in Santa Barbara included. I’ve been keeping up with changes at our local Fresh & Easy, and after a conversation with friendly store manager John, who donated all the bottled water for our first Milpas Moves! event, I am feeling downright optimistic.
Wild Oats has an interesting marketing strategy, and their intended vehicle to execute that strategy is Fresh & Easy. The organic grocery business is still fairly young, regionally-based, and somewhat limited. You find a great organic product here, but it’s not available in the next town, and certainly not one state over. Only Horizon distributes organic foods nationally, and their focus is dairy. Wild Oats intends to one-up and then blow past them. The first change at Fresh & Easy is that they’ve brought in Wild Oats organic milk and eggs. So that puts them on a straight par with Horizon. But Wild Oats then created an unusual competitive differentiator. Typically, eggs arrive in stores weeks, even months after being laid. Not for Wild Oats – their “Just Laid” eggs are delivered to the store within 72 hours of being laid! There is actually a “laid on” date stamp on each eggshell. Customers are demanding more locally sourced foods, and want to know more about their food’s origins. Wild Oats is clearly responding. The cage-free Wild Oats hens eat vegetarian feed, and drink a special formulation of mineral-fortified water for thicker eggshells. Wild Oats locally sources the eggs within 50 miles of the store to ensure freshness.
Now that’s Fresh!
In another bold step ahead into national organic food distribution, Fresh & Easy is now offering Wild Oats 100% USDA- certified organic single-serving salads and sandwiches. I sampled the Beef Fajita and Veggie Salad sandwiches, and they’re tasty! Fresh & Easy is the first store in the USA to offer fully certified organic single-serving salads and sandwiches, which is pretty spectacular.
Best of all, you can get ‘em right here on Milpas St.