PG - June 2019

Page 1

EXCLUSIVE! PG ’s Retail Bakery Review finds that freshness still sells

CELEBRATING IN STYLE Gourmet products enhance special occasions KEEP IT IN CONTEXT Adapt to a new way of engaging shoppers FOLLOW THE FLEET Software helps United Supermarkets own the last mile

MONICA GARNES President of Fry’s 2019 PG /NEW Trailblazer

Blazing New Trails

June 2019

Volume 98, Number 6


©2019 Unilever XTM19011

Visit or call your Unilever Representative to learn more about our insights to drive future growth.

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Contents 06.19

Volume 98 Issue 6





MONICA GARNES President of Fry’s 2019 PG /NEW Trailblazer Photo by Nicole King

The Sisterhood This year’s class joins an illustrious family of honorees.

Departments 8 EDITOR’S NOTE



Where Should Retailers Invest?



Bakery Sales Start at Breakfast

Becoming a Health Destination




The Invisible Woman



Noncarbonated RTD Beverages


Change or Die PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2019


Contents 06.19

Volume 98 Issue 6

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 800-422-2681 Fax: 978-671-0460



The Indulgence Factor In-store bakeries still play a vital role in the freshness image for grocery retailers.

PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672 EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR James Dudlicek 224-632-8238


Life of the Party

Grocers can engage consumers with gourmet items for special occasions.


MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603 SENIOR EDITOR Kat Martin 224-632-8172 SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Abby Kleckler 773-992-4405 CONTRIBUTING EDITORS D. Gail Fleenor, Jenny McTaggart, Lynn Petrak and Barbara Sax ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Maggie Kaeppel (NEW ENGLAND, SOUTHEAST) 708-565-5350 SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Judy Hayes (CA, PACIFIC NORTHWEST) 925-785-9665 SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Theresa Kossack (MIDWEST) 214-226-6468 REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Tammy Rokowski (SOUTHWEST) 248-514-9500 ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373





Just Say It and It’s Yours Brands must embrace contextual commerce across a number of devices to make the sale.



Fleet Smarts


United Supermarkets is winning at last-mile ecommerce delivery with software from Onfleet.





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By Bridget Goldschmidt

Family of Woman s Progressive Grocer pays tribute, through our latest slate of Top Women in Grocery, to the close bonds that often develop among women colleagues in the grocery industry — whether through formal mentoring relationships, or simply as co-workers depending on each other for moral support, advice and encouragement — it seems fitting that this year, the popular program has among its winners, for the first time ever, twins. Lisa and Lori Hodgkinson, director of grocery and a store manager, respectively, at ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. (SRS), won for their separate accomplishments in distinct positions, but it may not be too much of a stretch to infer that their experience as twins, who share so much in life, may have informed their later performance as grocery professionals. There may still be After all, as Lisa’s nomination notes, “By nature, some way to go in [she] can always be counted achieving parity, but on to work collaboratively with such dynamic across departments to proexemplars as our 393 duce more comprehensive sales plans and programs 2019 Top Women in that are aimed at driving to- Grocery honorees, tal company sales, not just it’s certain that her focused department.” For her efforts, as well as more progress is being named a Top Woman on the way. this year, Lisa received last year the aptly named Tribute to Women & Industry (TWIN) Award from the YWCA, presented to honorees who have made significant contributions to industry in managerial, executive, supervisory and/ or professional roles, and also recognizing business entities whose policies and practices encourage and enable high achievement by women. The Hodgkinson sisters are, of course, just two (actually related) members of a network of people in the grocery industry — not just women, but also people of color, LGBTQ people and other underrepresented groups, along with their allies and champions — who are dedicated to advancing everyone with the talent and will to work hard to the front ranks of their respective fields. And from the way PG’s own humble Top Women in Grocery program has grown since it was first introduced in 2007, that network is succeeding admirably in its aim. There may still be some way to go in 8

achieving parity, but with such dynamic exemplars — including our 393 2019 Top Women in Grocery honorees profiled in this issue, starting on page 24 — it’s certain that more progress is on the way. Speaking of Top Women in Grocery and the bonds among colleagues, the editorial family at PG has a new member: Abby Kleckler, who came aboard as our digital editor in May. Working from the Chicago office, Abby joins us with seven years’ experience in the B2B publishing world, starting at Scranton Gillette Communications, where she worked on multiple publications across various industries, and for the past five years, she was managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer magazine at Great American Media Services, which focuses on the independent garden center market. She is an avid runner and indoor-cycling enthusiast, and loves to travel whenever possible, especially with her fiancé, to whom she recently became engaged. Abby is a great asset to our team, and we look forward to our readers getting to know her. Join us all in giving her a warm welcome!

CORRECTION Because of a transcription error in the May 2019 Super 50 ranking, Progressive Grocer erroneously listed The Fresh Market’s annual sales as $595 million rather than the actual figure of $1.595 billion, thereby affecting its place in the ranking. Accordingly, the Fresh Market should be No. 41 in the listing — consistent with its 2018 ranking — rather than No. 50, a change that has been made in PG’s online and digital editions of the Super 50 report, along with revised commentary. PG regrets the error.

Bridget Goldschmidt Managing Editor, @BGoldschmidtPG

Join the conversation: @HersheyCompany The-Hershey-Company



ith the ults w s e r E e Driv VATIV





e s u o h r e Pow




National Catfish Month National Panini Month National Peach Month

National Sandwich Month National Brownies at Brunch Month



National Raspberry Cream Pie Day



International Beer Day

National Grab Some Nuts Day

National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

National Watermelon Day

National Mustard Day

National IPA Day


National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day



National Oyster Day National Root Beer Float Day

After two days celebrating beer, it’s time for International Hangover Day, for which you can create a display of ingredients to concoct the Sisters Day appropriate remedies.

Friendship Day



National Panini Day


National Julienne Fries Day

National Filet Mignon Day



Ask customers to share horror stories of trying to open a product for Particularly Preposterous Packaging Day.

National Zucchini Day



Raspberries and Cream Day

National Creamsicle Day

National Frozen Custard Day

National Raspberry Tart Day

International Youth Day



National Ice Cream Pie Day

National Lemon Meringue Pie Day


National Soft-Serve Cupcake Day Ice Cream Day


To sweeten or not to sweeten is the question for National Sweet Tea Day.



National Banana Split Day

Run a contest to National Banana determine shoppers’ Lovers Day favorite condiments to honor National Dog Day.



National Rum Day National Bratwurst Day


National Vanilla Custard Day Highlight your honey producers/ suppliers for National Honeybee Day.


National Pots de Creme Day




National “Eat a Peach” Day

National Sponge Cake Day

National Waffle Day



National Cabernet Sauvignon Day

Eat Outside Day

National Pecan Torte Day

National Cuban Sandwich Day

National Peach Pie Day

World Plant Milk Day

National Potato Day National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day

Women’s Equality Day

National S’mores Day

Shop Online for Groceries Day

Run specials on some famous pairings for Best Friends Day.

National Bacon Lovers Day

National Cherry Popsicle Day


International Lefthanders Day

National Pinot Noir Day

National Whiskey Sour Day

National Rice Pudding Day

Celebrate right meow for International Cat Day.

Julia Child’s birthday (1912). National Prosecco Day


National Spumoni Day


National Cherry Turnover Day


National Chop Suey Day

More Herbs, Less Salt Day

National Toasted Marshmallow Day

National Trail Mix Day

©2019 Foods, ©2018 GoyaGoya Foods, Inc. Inc.

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Market Research

Where Should Retailers Invest? This spring, Progressive Grocer asked both retailers and consumers what would be the best grocery investment to make. For shoppers, the best investments would be an overhaul of the loyalty program and technology upgrades. Retailers agree on the technology and also think remodels would be worthwhile.

0 5% 10% 15% 20% 3%

Overhaul loyalty program

17% 18%

Technology upgrades/ new investments

11% 3%

Develop and/or expand freshprepared food program

6% 20%

Remodel/invest in existing stores

In-store restaurant

6% 0% 6%

Expand assortments, (e.g., add a free-from section or an organic section)

2% 5% 12%

Improve employee training and retention programs

Offer meal kits Delivery via autonomous vehicles

5% 0% 5% 0% 4% 7%

Upgrade infrastructure to be more efficient

4% 3%

Build new stores

3% 7%

Invest in private label/store brands Develop sustainablity program


3% 3% 3%

Enhance sustainablity strategy

2% 3%

Geographic expansion



Streamline assortments/reduce product offerings Enter into strategic partnerships (e.g., partner with specialty stores) Close underperforming stores

Transition to employeeowned company Other

(Choose ONE only)

2% 2%

Change format (smaller, bigger, different) New public relations (PR) campaign to promote store to the community

In your opinion, what is the best investment your primary grocery store could make to be successful in the next five years?


Enhance social media strategy

The loyalty program overhaul rated much higher among older shoppers, while younger shoppers focused more on technology upgrades/new investments. The youngest shoppers wanted the tech upgrades more than the loyalty updates. Retailers were surveyed for PG’s Annual Report, which was published in the April 2019 issue. For the shopper segment, PG, along with sister company EIQ Research Solutions, surveyed 1,000 grocery shoppers. Consumer survey respondents were sourced via ProdegeMR, reinventing the research process by taking a respondent-first approach. Visit for more information.

Retailer Question



Shopper Question

In your opinion, what is the best investment your primary grocery store could make to be successful in the next five years?

3% 1% 0% 1% 3% 1% 0%

(Choose ONE only)

1% 7% 6%

Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019



TOPOF THE CAKE The quality and flavor of icing are as important as the cake in driving consumer purchase.*

What kind of topping wins out?


of consumers prefer Buttercreme



of consumers prefer Whipped Topping

• Preference motivated by flavor, texture and aroma

• Appeal driven by dairy/cream flavor

• This fan base seeks a sweeter, more complex flavor with stronger vanilla notes

• This audience prefers a milder flavor, airier appearance and lighter texture

13% of consumers claim they are

Artificial Avoiders



Keep an eye on the new challenger: Artificial Avoider

Each topping has its own fans, but Brill brings them all together for the win. Fresh ideas, superior formulations and outstanding taste and quality for all types of cake toppings.

• Segment is growing every year • Reflects ongoing interest in clean, less artificial-seeming taste, texture and aroma

Learn more at • 1 866 98 BRILL © 2019 CSM Bakery Solutions, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

*Source: Brill Icing & Toppings Sensory Drivers Study




Research & Analysis

Bakery Sales Start at Breakfast It’s no secret that bakery sales are key to the breakfast daypart — and you can drive incremental purchase with innovation on the perimeter. Hot and fresh updates can come in format or flavor, depending on your shopper profile. For example, doughnuts are ubiquitous, and that case can always use a fresh new flavor. But you might also add bomboloni (see below) to your offering to appeal to a new customer in a unique way. Bomboloni MAC stage: Inception — Ethnic markets, ethnic independents, and fine dining. Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation and presentation. Bomboloni is an Italian-style doughnut filled with ingredients such as fruit syrup, chocolate cream or custard. These mini pastries are great for snacking occasions, breakfast or desserts, and can appeal to a much larger audience through those dayparts.


Beignet MAC stage: Adoption — Ethnic aisle at supermarkets, casual independents, fast casual. Adoption-stage trends grow their base via lower price points and simpler prep methods. Still differentiated, these trends often feature premium and/or generally authentic ingredients.

Sweet Breads MAC stage: Proliferation — Proliferation-stage trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal. Often combined with popular applications (on a burger, pasta, etc.)

Another growing member of the doughnut family that can add spice to your bakery case is the beignet. This French dessert is made from deepfried choux pastry and can now be found on menus in various sizes and topped (or filled) with such ingredients as banana, strawberry or chocolate. The popular New Orleans version is dusted with powdered sugar.

Not to be confused with those other sweetbreads — a.k.a. organ meat from the thymus gland and pancreas — sweet breads such as banana and blueberry are still growing on menus. These can be excellent seasonal offerings or ways to manage overripe inventory from the produce department. Pumpkin bread is insanely popular in the fall, or you may have a regional offering that’s a hit during another time of the year. Sweet breads are also a great opportunity to create a “signature” item for your store.

On 1.6% of U.S. restaurant menus

On 2.2% of U.S. restaurant menus

On fewer than 1% of U.S. restaurant menus

Up 9% on menus over the past four years

Up 26% over the past four years

15% of consumers know it/ 7% have tried it

47% of consumers know it/ 28% have tried it

95% of consumers know it/ 84% have tried it

Menu Example Monello Arance E Cannella Bombolini Mini doughnuts with orange and cinnamon jam

Menu Example Cracker Barrel Buttermilk Biscuit Beignets Biscuit-dough beignets served with rich butter pecan sauce for dipping

Menu Example Bob Evans Pumpkin Bread Classic pumpkin bread spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, baked daily in the restaurant

Cinnamon Roll MAC stage: Ubiquity — Ubiquity-stage trends have reached maturity, and can be found across all sectors of the food industry. Though often diluted by this point, their inception-stage roots are still recognizable. While these sweet, sticky rolls are absolutely ubiquitous at breakfast, they are also still growing as much as any item in the category. Cinnamon rolls provide a great opportunity to showcase a regional specialty, a signature size or icing, and even seasonal ingredients or flavors. They’re proof that you can reach almost every demographic with indulgence. On 4.6% of U.S. menus Up 41% over the past four years 97% of consumers know it/ 92% have tried it Menu Example Burger King Cini Minis Warm, freshly baked bite-size cinnamon rolls with their own icing dipping sauce

A dver tor ia l

Alaska:The Origin of Seafood Success Q&A with

Megan Rider Domestic Marketing Manager ASMI

“With up to 84% of consumers wanting to know more about seafood, ASMI is equipped with tools to help.”

“Value” Value is a key word when it comes to seafood. According to the new “Power of Seafood” report from the Food Marketing Institute, seafood shoppers comprise a valuable segment of consumers, with a higher-than-average income and grocery spend. The report also found that seafood shoppers value inMegan Rider formation on where and how products are sourced and seek out a diverse mix of products from trusted brands. Alaska seafood is a trusted brand: in another recent survey, 58% of seafood spenders said that seeing the Alaska seafood logo would make them more likely to buy those products. Q: As people want to know more about what they are eating, they are looking closely at sourcing. What are some of the key benefits of seafood from Alaska? A: Consumers are hungry for food they can trust, because they long for a connection to what they eat.

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

They get this with Alaska’s 34,000 miles of coastline, where fish swim free, grow at a natural pace, and forage for food in the wild, pristine environment. Additionally, Alaska’s cold climate and pure waters create the perfect conditions for superior flavor and texture. As responsible stewards, Alaskans also understand the importance of preserving our fisheries for future generations.

Q: How are recipes important to the seafood consumer? A: Ninety-one percent of seafood consumers say they would make a recipe from a seafood department’s recommendations. Recipes are a great starting point to introduce how seafood works well with a variety of flavors and cuisines, and prove that cooking seafood doesn’t have to be intimidating. ASMI offers recipes for every species of Alaska seafood and nearly every type of cuisine. Our website is an excellent source for recipes, as well as thawing, storing, and preparing seafood. The “Power of Seafood Report” also shows that recipe websites are the #1 place consumers look for information. Knowing this, ASMI partnered with two highly engaging consumer recipe sites – Simply Recipes and Serious Eats – to develop recipes and provide people with information whether purchasing in-store or online. Q: How important is it to offer a mix of merchandising approaches to reach consumers? A: With up to 84% of consumers wanting to know more about seafood, ASMI is equipped with tools to help. One of our retail partners created a designated Alaska seafood section within their seafood service case using our materials, and the month-long promotion resulted in a 27.5% year-over-year increase in Alaska seafood sales. Assets like videos showing hard-working fishermen in Alaska, posters, danglers, and in-ice signs are all useful tools to help paint the store with the theme of Alaska. Q: How is sampling crucial? A: Recipes are paramount, but it also helps when stores do in-store demonstrations. In fact, 83% of seafood consumers say sampling and 69% say in-store cooking demos help them try seafood. Partnering with a beer or wine company is another fantastic way to achieve sales lift and increase the overall size of consumers’ baskets.

To learn more, visit


Shelf Stoppers


Shelf Stoppers


Basket Facts

(52 weeks ending April 2, 2016)

Total Department Performance Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 02/23/19



Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 02/24/18

Latest 52 Wks W/E 02/25/17



Top Produce Categories by Dollar Sales Avocados

Pre-packaged Salads




How much are Americans spending chose onConsumers average per trip on frozen broccoli over various produce items? alternatives for a variety of reasons:


because it’s quick and easy


$4.96 10% Apples


because it tastes great





Broccoli as an ingredient is most commonly consumed at dinner, followed by lunch.

Frozen broccoli is most often used in a side dish, followed by as a main entrée. 3%

0 Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 02/23/19


Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 02/24/18

Latest 52 Wks W/E 02/25/17

because it’s healthy and nutritious

$1.69 8%

because it’s low in Bananas calories, fat and sugar

Source: : Total US xAOC, latest three years ending Feb. 23, 2019. Random-weight and UPC data included. 29%





While the produce department is growing, we are seeing interesting shifts in what consumers are demanding in retailers across the country. ‘Classic’ produce staples that might have filled your traditional fruit bowl, such as apples and bananas, have seen DINNER SIDEitems DISH like MAIN ENTRÉE (upOTHER dollar declines over the last couple of years.LUNCH Meanwhile,OTHER versatile produce avocados 3.9 percent) and pre-packaged salads (up 1.7 percent), have seen continued growth over the same time period. Items like these, which can serve a variety of meal and snack occasions, are driving the category. While it is critical to maintain a relevant assortment of produce, it’s important to tap into ways to inspire or reinvigorate how your produce can align with a variety of consumer need states.”

$5.46 Avocados

—Lauren Fernandes, Manager-Strategy and Analytics, Nielsen

Demographic Spotlight Which cohort is spending on average the most per trip on produce?

$3.75 Pre-packaged Salads Millennials

Gen X


The Greatest Generation





Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Feb. 23, 2019


Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Feb. 23, 2019

s. re also supply chain fanatic fanatics, which means we’ h fres re we’ it— p hel ’t We can s. fanatics. Food safety fanatic lity fanatics. Sustainability qua And s. atic fan tion And innova ours. g your business along with And fanatics about growin



Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc

©2019 Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc.


Global New Products Database

Noncarbonated RTD Beverages Market Overview

The majority of adults (90 percent) drink tea, and a third are daily tea drinkers. The complex array of tea formats, varieties and flavors offers options that appeal to a broad spectrum of consumers. Yet category sales improved only slightly from 2017 to 2018, as sales softened in the leading canned/bottled RTD segment.

Tea and RTD tea sales are expected to see modest growth as competition continues to intensify and consumer beverage interests diversify. Based on this, Mintel forecasts a gain of 18 percent for the category between 2018 and 2023 to $9.4 billion. The dynamic RTD coffee segment has propelled the coffee market forward, with 30.6 percent growth from 2016 to 2018. Innovation in the segment has been rapid and diverse, with on-trend products like cold-brew and nitro coffees challenging the tea category. Cold brews, which offer high levels of caffeine, often feature premium and organic beans, and include more sophisticated, nuanced tastes. Nitro cold brews (NCBs), which feature a rich, creamy head similar to draft beers, are stirring interest in third-wave coffees, and their proliferation provides insight into future areas of innovation for the next stage in the premiumization of the tea category. Ten percent of tea drinkers would pay more for nitro bottled/canned tea.

Key Issues

While tea has a strong reputation as a better-for-you beverage, the RTD tea segment doesn’t necessarily share the same positive health halo. Tea consumers age 25-34 are more likely to maintain these negative perceptions, providing added insight into the stagnating sales of the canned/bottled RTD tea segment.


At the same time, other types of teas strike high alignment as healthy beverages. Consumption of green tea and herbal teas, in particular, offer such benefits as aiding cardiovascular health, helping to prevent cancer, managing weight and improving metabolism.

Health concerns have provided the impetus for many consumers to cut back on sugary drinks like RTD teas. Three out of 10 tea drinkers agree that RTD tea is too high in sugar, and nearly a quarter think that RTDs contain too many artificial ingredients.


What Does It Mean?

The success of the RTD coffee and tea categories has extended to hybrid offerings featuring functionality, including caffeine, antioxidant qualities, hydration and even digestive benefits. RTD tea stands out as a category that appeals to older consumers, especially Baby Boomers, as well as younger consumers, and there may be an opportunity to cast a wider net, appealing to a range of ages with hybrid flavor and functionality. RTD tea, RTD coffee and fruit water are also categories where men outpace women. Engaging male consumers with more hybrid flavors and functionalities across these diverse beverage categories is an opportunity for brands. Notably, this is also an indication that outreach to female consumers warrants more development.


©2019 Trion Industries, Inc. 297 Laird Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-6997 Phone 570-824-1000 | Fax 570-823-4080 | Toll-Free in U.S.A. 800-444-4665 | Online Ecommerce purchasing available



■ ■ ■



Becoming a Health Destination

certain food production methods. Be transparent and help provide answers to key consumer concerns, including where food comes from, the nature of ingredients, and how food is produced.


Keep Things Relevant

As a point of differentiation, retailers should look beyond the path to purchase and focus instead on the path to healthy consumption by providing meal solutions that fit a healthy lifestyle. Showcase an authentic commitment to wellness via weekly circulars, store displays, healthy recipe ideas and prepared food offerings, betterfor-you own-brand products and in-store samplings, and overarching messaging.

ow can grocery retailers develop comprehensive, consumer-driven approaches to health and wellness? Provide consumers with access to healthful foods and health education while helping to ease some of the common barriers to healthier living. Effective wellness solutions need to be simple, relevant, personalized and affordable for consumers.

Personalized Experience

Make it Easy

Consumers want to meet all of their health-and-wellness needs in a single destination. That means convenience, coupled with a sufficient variety of core, niche and cutting-edge products. Savvy retailers anticipate health-conscious shoppers’ needs and offer solutions-based in-store merchanEffective wellness dising, adjacencies and complementary online solutions need to shopping experiences.

Clarity Counts

Shoppers struggle to simplify the shopping process for themselves and their families. More than half of consumers claim to be following a special diet that limits or restricts certain ingredients or

be simple, relevant, personalized and affordable for consumers.

Tap into shopper data and tech engagement to target the right shopper with the right product at the right time. Speak directly to key motivators by communicating how consumers can feel better, be happier, live longer and look better. Be active in social channels where you can listen to your existing customers and encourage two-way interaction and dialogue.

Affordable Products and Services

Retailers can shape their pricing strategies to make the healthier choice the high-value yet affordable choice. In addition, use loyalty programs and electronic savings programs to develop incentives that reward shoppers for making healthier choices.

Be an Ally

Today, 75 percent of all households report that at least one member has a chronic medical condition, and this number is only expected to grow. Leading wellness destinations will be allies, helping individuals to close the gap between their good intentions for diet and lifestyle and their actual choices, behaviors and purchases.

Karen Buch RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who specializes in retail dietetics and food and culinary nutrition communications. One of the first supermarket dietitians, she is now founder and principal consultant at Nutrition Connections LLC, providing consulting services nationwide. You can connect with her on twitter @karenbuch and at



The Invisible Woman WOMEN ARE OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND OF SENIOR E XECUTIVES. ith the growing realization that flexible work arrangements — a shift in work hours, working remotely or job sharing — are key to attracting, keeping and advancing talented women at all points in their careers, discussion of the relative importance of face time in the office versus results is heating up. Many managers are hanging on to outdated views about face time as a full measure of an employee’s value to an organization, and are losing outstanding employees as a result. Still, one type of face time is key to advancing a career — face time with senior leaders. Employees who interact regularly with their company’s senior leaders are more likely to ask for and receive promotions, according to McKinsey & Co.’s “Women in the Workplace 2018” report. They’re also more likely to stay with their companies and aim to be leaders themselves.

Can You Hear Me Now? This makes sense. The problem is that 33 percent of the women surveyed for “Women in the Workplace” said they’d never had a significant discussion with a

senior leader about their work (compared with 27 percent of men surveyed). For some women of color, access is even more limited. Forty percent of African-American women reported never having a substantive work-related conversation with a senior leader. Women are also less likely than men to socialize with their managers or other executives outside the workplace. Nearly half of women surveyed said that they’ve never had an informal interaction with a senior leader, compared with 40 percent of men. Again, many women of color have even less face time with the men and women who create opportunities and open doors. Fifty-four percent of Latinas and nearly 60 percent of African-American women said that they’ve never had an informal interaction with a senior leader. At all points in their careers, women have fewer opportunities to demonstrate their skills, show off their work results or make strategic connections with their company’s career-opportunity gatekeepers. The result: When managers are considering candidates for stretch assignments, leadership development or promotions, they’re more likely to choose a man, because it’s more likely that a man is on their radar. A known employee always has an advantage over an unknown one.

Seeking Sponsors One way to level the playing field is to encourage senior leaders to sponsor women. A full 70 percent of the 70 organizations named as 2019 Top Companies for Executive Women by the National Association for Female Executives have sponsorship initiatives. Companies can support more sponsorship with these five actions put forth by Working Mother magazine: Expose senior leaders to high-potential talents from different groups, especially underrepresented populations Link sponsorship to senior executives’ goals, performance reviews and compensation Have clear objectives for sponsorship, and communicate them to everyone involved Use employee resource groups to find high-potential women worthy of sponsorship Measure promotion and retention rates of those who are sponsored versus people not sponsored in similar roles


The NEW Blueprint for Gender Equality, which NEW is sharing now with our corporate partners, lays out best practices for companies that are working to create a gender-diverse and inclusive workplace. While developing this action plan, we found a number of forward-thinking companies that are disrupting the status quo with other practices that promote women’s visibility with senior leaders. One of our corporate partners, for example, is piloting a program that pairs individuals who are ready to move up to the next role with members of its leadership team for development discussions. “It’s very straightforward,” the company’s VP of human resources told us. “Women who may not have a sponsor already are getting that attention.” JPMorgan Chase’s Women on the Move initiative’s 30-5-1 campaign brings women and men together for 36 minutes each week to support women’s growth and development. Participants commit to spending 30 minutes having coffee with a talented up-and-coming woman, five minutes congratulating a female colleague on a win or success, and one minute telling other colleagues about the woman who had that win. “At JPMorgan Chase, we have a truly amazing group of female

Women have fewer opportunities to make strategic connections. colleagues,” said the company’s asset and wealth management CEO, Mary Erdoes, co-sponsor of Women on the Move. “It’s up to each one of us — men and women alike — to ensure they have the support mechanisms they need to succeed, and this campaign is one of the most important ways we can do that.” Formal, structured development programs that support face time with senior leaders benefit talented women and men, but especially those who may otherwise be unseen — or overlooked. Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, a learning and leadership community of 12,500 members representing 900 companies and 22 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at


2019 Top Women in Grocery


Sisterhood This year’s class joins an illustrious family of honorees. Introduction by Bridget Goldschmidt Profiles by the Progressive Grocer staff

s we pay tribute to Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Top Women in Grocery, we welcome the 393-strong slate into a growing community of extraordinary women that extends back to 2007, when we first began the program. Over the years, we’ve seen the number of honorees skyrocket, along with the number and quality of their achievements, and we have been proud to recognize and cheer their progress. Arising from the ranks of Top Women through the years is our 2019 Trailblazer, Monica Garnes — a two-time honoree, in 2010 and 2014 — who, starting on page 26, shares with PG Senior Editor Kat Martin exclusive insights from her inspiring journey to become president of Kroger’s Fry’s division. Also drawn from our complement of past and present honorees are the latest inductees into the Top Women in Grocery Hall of Fame — those outstanding high achievers who have been recognized by the program a minimum of five times — whom we will reveal at our eagerly awaited Top Women in Grocery Gala and Celebration on Nov. 6-7 in Orlando, Fla., where a stimulating agenda will motivate and applaud honorees. Beyond their membership in this powerful sisterhood of Top Women in Grocery, this year’s class is also an integral part of the wider network of women and other underrepresented groups in all facets of the grocery industry, many of them working at demanding jobs with little recognition, who support and advise one another as they advance through their careers, breaking new ground as they shatter previously inaccessible glass ceilings. To all of those people who make the grocery industry what it is and are taking it to the next level of inclusivity, PG offers heartfelt gratitude, starting with our 2019 Top Women in Grocery, whose wide-ranging accomplishments can be found in the following pages. 24


2019 Top Women in Grocery


2019 Top Women in Grocery

merchandising for Fry’s in 2013); and the first African-American ever to be named a division head as the president of Fry’s, her current position. She is also the first woman of color to be named a Top Women in Grocery Trailblazer. As president of Fry’s, she oversees 123 stores and about 22,000 employees. PG recently chatted with Garnes, who shared her insights into what has helped her succeed and how she helps others to find their own success. PG: What were some of the most valuable lessons you learned as you were moving up? Monica Garnes: I can remember years

Meet Monica Garnes, Top Women in Grocery 2019 Trailblazer. By Kat Martin Photography by Nicole King

very year, Progressive Grocer and the Network of Executive Women honor one woman who leads and builds her community. The Top Women in Grocery 2019 Trailblazer, Monica Garnes, has been blazing trails throughout her entire career at The Kroger Co., from the time she entered the management training program in 1995. Garnes was often the first: the first African-American woman to be named district manager in 2007 for the Columbus, Ohio, division; the first African-American woman to be named a retail division VP (when she became VP of

ago, a district manager saying early in my career, when I was just learning the retail business, that if you’re in a room full of people that know more than you about the business, take the opportunity to listen and learn from them. I think a lot of times, we’re quick to formulate responses and chime in, but you can learn so much about people, about what’s happening in the business, just by listening. Not only listening and learning about the business, but also listening to people and getting great ideas and hearing feedback and creating an environment where people feel that their voices can be heard. It allows people to open up in ways that you may not have even imagined. [Garnes spoke about several of her mentors at Kroger, but especially CEO Rodney McMullen, who believed in her and pushed her to leave the Columbus division, where she had spent her first 18 years, to move to Fry’s in Arizona to become VP of merchandising. The move changed the trajectory of her career, which led to a position of VP of produce/floral merchandising and procurement at the corporate office in Cincinnati, before she returned to Fry’s as its president.] PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2019



2019 Top Women in Grocery PG: What advice do you have for someone who is given a stretch-project opportunity, but is a bit trepidatious about taking that big step? Garnes: Don’t be afraid of a challenge. I think part of it is just

having courage and belief in yourself. When I was first offered the position here at Fry’s [her first move to Fry’s as VP of merchandising, not her current position as president], I remember saying: “Thank you. I need to go home and think about it, talk it over with my family, and I’ll get back to you.” I remember at the time, the president kind of looked at me sideways, like, “OK.” When I was talking to my parents about it, because they lived in Columbus, the thing that resonates with me is my mom said: “Why are you hesitant? This is what you’ve been preparing for your entire career.” So I think it’s just having the courage and belief in yourself that you are prepared. You’re ready for the next challenge and embrace the challenge because there’s going to be more learnings along the way. I would tell people, find ways to say yes. When you say yes to these new challenges, you never know what the future holds and what other doors will open up. PG: I think people often struggle with asking for guidance. What would be your advice to people either looking for guidance or people who are giving guidance?

and diversity. I think that if every day, you show up to work and you show up in personal relationships — not just professional — and you have your values you hold true, then people will respect that and know that you’re a believable person and an honest person. I think it’s just about genuinely caring for people. It’s OK to care about the people that you work with and care about their success and wanting the best for them. Also, being your authentic self. I think a lot of times, we may try and fit a model or role that we perceive is the right thing to do, but if you’re not true to yourself and find your passion — what you’re passionate about — you’re never going to have the success you’re meant to have. I try and be Monica every single day I come to work, so people know what to expect every single day, but I think the more you can be yourself, the more that you can find that passion for whatever it is you do. You will be a better leader. You will have more success in your career, and, I think, you’ll be a happier person.

Garnes: If you’re looking to mentor someone, or someone has asked

you to be their mentor, open and honest feedback is very, very important. Then it’s the follow-up piece, when you’re hearing feedback on the person, taking the initiative as the mentor to reach out and say, “Hey, just wanted to share some great things I’m hearing, or some things that I’m hearing that may be an opportunity.” It’s that continual feedback that’s going to help them. Then it goes back to listening, because sometimes the mentees may have frustrations or just want to celebrate something that’s happened in their career, and giving them the opportunity to vent when need be, and then processing the information and providing them constructive advice back. And obviously celebrating with them as people grow in their careers. Finding that mentor can be challenging. It —Monica Garnes, can be intimidating. I think it’s facing the fear president, Fry’s head-on to ask somebody that’s at a higher level than you are, able to be flexible about how and the ways to contact the mentor. Agree to a schedule and ask, “Hey, I know we can only get on the calendar x amount of times, but are you OK if I have a situation [where] I can reach out either via email or text message or just a quick phone call in the event that I have something that I need help with?”

“The more you can be yourself, the more that you can find that passion for whatever it is you do.”

PG: What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given, both in your career and life in general? Garnes: I think that one of the things I always go back to — and

my parents instilled this in me — is really living your own personal values. I always think about my values and how important it is that they align with The Kroger Co. values, when you think about honesty, integrity, respect and embracing inclusion 28



2019 Top Women in Grocery

Senior-Level Executives

Claudia Saenz Amlie

Teri Amthor

Chief Human Resources Officer, Acosta

Amlie revised Acosta’s benefits offerings to reduce the hours required for full-time employment, increasing benefits eligibility for 2,000 employees, and added parental leave benefits.

Amthor and her team exceeded the 2018 goals of two of Acosta’s clients, including a leading poultry producer; her team achieved 113.6 percent of that client’s goal and grew the other client’s sales at a major retailer by 3.2 percent.

She spearheaded the launch of new payroll and timekeeping systems to provide greater transparency, launched programs tied to diversity and respectful workplace training, and launched a comprehensive engagement survey, allowing managers to engage in specific action planning for their teams.

She has been awarded numerous National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association Golden Penguin awards for her execution of Frozen Food Month and June Dairy Month promotions, and has been named Broker of the Year by several of her Acosta clients.

Amlie is involved with the Episcopal School of Jacksonville and serves as secretary and trustee for the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, among other community activities.

Claudia Keyes

VP, Operational Innovations, Acosta

Keyes led the creation of a new way of working for the core grocery business, including the standardization of planning and selling processes, a new hub structure, and a resource allocation model; this led to a differentiated value proposition, financial tracking of spend to budget, an associate-leadership development plan, and visibility across the organization. She also worked with Acosta’s IT team to provide automation and enable technology to increase capacity within the company’s grocery hubs. Keyes received recognition in the nonprofit and community arena for her efforts in creating and driving diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Tina Kubala

VP, Diversified Channels, Acosta

A solution-oriented leader who’s highly successful in developing relationships internally and externally, Kubala worked end to end with top CPG clients to develop and deploy winning strategies. She has played a large role in the success of the channel over the past two years, including hybrid business-model productivity, effective in-store merchandising strategies, and 15 straight quarters of share growth in 13 categories. An active member of the Network of Executive Women, Kubala won an Acosta Gold Chairman’s Award in 2018 as part of a company program that spotlights employees who exemplify excellence.

VP, Southeast, Acosta

Ashley Taylor

Lee Esmond

Chief Customer Officer, Acosta

VP, Acosta/Mosaic

Taylor spearheaded the re-engineering and transformation of Acosta’s service model for headquarters sales in its grocery channel, and she moved the company from a geography-based to a channel-based structure, which improved alignment of resources and maximized client investment. She made key changes to Acosta’s personnel structure, reduced bureaucracy and optimized service delivery by moving from a player-coach model to a “leaders lead” model; she also instituted online training for leaders and associates. Taylor was one of 32 global leaders from 13 nations to be named a fellow for the International Women’s Forum.

A four-time recipient of Acosta’s prestigious Chairman’s Award, Amthor is an active board member of the North Florida Frozen & Refrigerated Association and has served on the Tyson Foods broker advisory board.

Esmond and Acosta’s Mosiac team created synergetic solutions at retail grounded in engagement, working to provide shoppers with a one-to-one personalized sense of service and product. Through a holiday mobile tour with a popular beverage brand, her team showed shoppers at a major retailer how they could have a barista-like experience at home via the exploration and sampling of limited-time-offer products; the well-executed events were a major win for the beverage brand. Esmond challenged her team to be as productive as possible: Her business unit successfully executed more than 8,000 events in 2018 through retail and experiential activations.




2019 Top Women in Grocery Tiffany Salmon

SVP, Pet Division, Acosta/The Pet Firm

Salmon headed a mandated full-data implementation and integration within the teams; the promotion of data-driven discussions and decisions with vendors and retailers allowed the breaking down of barriers for a more defined collaboration. She was promoted to SVP over The Pet Firm division, keeping the team engaged with company initiatives and achieving exceptional performance. By executing joint business-planning sessions with vendors and retailers, Salmon and her team developed and delivered impactful programs, advancing partners’ positioning at key retailers; some of these brands saw category growth of up to 30 percent.

Beth Cozza

VP, Operations, Advantage Solutions/Marketing

Cozza led the design, development and deployment of a suite of online dashboards that automated the visualization of 26 disparate business reports and implemented three direct data feeds from Advantage to Walmart, to drive better decision-making and improve transparency of data. She implemented a robust data-cleansing strategy for the Advantage retailtainment business unit to ensure accurate, consistent, valid, complete and uniform data. Cozza established three ongoing third-party audit programs for food safety regulatory compliance, adult-beverage serving and safety compliance, and quality of the shopper experience.


Andrea Young

President, Advantage Marketing Partners/Customer Experience Group

Young led reinventions of some of her company’s largest legacy retail businesses to drive significant evolutions in business strategy and operations. She spearheaded the evolution of omnichannel experience with the launch of box sampling and online grocery sampling while securing new programs with major retailers, bringing to market the first national sampling strategy that allows brands to easily participate locally, regionally or nationally. Under Young’s direction, Advantage launched the Target Virtual Beauty Concierge program, scaling the concept by allowing shoppers to engage experts while shopping in-store and online.

Julie Swift

VP, Advantage Solutions/Waypoint

Swift strategically developed and tactically led a test project for a major manufacturer with a direct salesforce, a groundbreaking launch for Waypoint. She partnered to develop a platform that assesses the combined effectiveness of an individual client’s contracted business across all contracts, geographies, segments, distributors and individual operator penetration. As part of the seven-member Culture Champion Team at Waypoint, Swift’s primary responsibility within the team was to launch Waypoint’s vision, mission and values for nearly 1,000 team members, implementing these items across 50 states and 40plus offices.

Jody Mitchell VP, Business Development, Advantage Solutions

Mitchell was instrumental in delivering on multiple strategies for Walmart, including produce, private brands and a Fresh Takes initiative leveraging augmented reality, as well as embedded strategic planning managers who help with replenishment needs for events and coordinate strategy with merchants. Her department drove 50 percent year-over-year growth in revenue, which equals one-third of the total business. Beyond being a huge revenue driver for her organization, Mitchell, a cornerstone of the Advantage culture who always leads by example, was consistently sought out by peers and employees for mentoring and overall career advice.

Marissa Crab

VP, Corporate Procurement, General Merchandise/Health and Beauty Care, Albertsons Cos.

Crab reorganized her support structure to align with the national sales managers and GM/HBC leadership team; this new structure, along with her metric-focused approach, took the departments’ partnership to a new level. She led several major supply-chain projects for Albertsons, including the source of supply moves across six divisions, and 1,596 individual-store source-ofsupply changes across the projects, with outstanding results. Passionate about helping others on their development journey, Crab mentored several high-potential leaders of tomorrow within and outside of the supply-chain organization.


Lori Stillman EVP, Analytics Insights and Intelligence, Advantage Solutions

Stillman was the key leader and workstream owner in the Advantage-Daymon merger for category management and the reporting and insights support teams; her work yielded a more robust team that leveraged the best from both organizations while netting millions of dollars in operational efficiencies. Her team’s performance in 2018 measured at 14 percent above the prior year’s results, all while managing integration effort and bucking trends of market-slowing growth. Stillman led the rollout of Advantage’s Reporting Service Bureau, bringing improved consistency in work product and enhanced client support, among other positive outcomes.

Elena Dietrich

VP, Litigation and Employment Law, Albertsons Cos.

Dietrich received final court approval of four class-action settlements and reached settlement agreements in another two cases, achieving significant cost savings for the company. She worked closely with the SVP of diversity and inclusion to develop talking points for all retail employees and on follow-up online anti-bias training, designed to prevent incidents of racial profiling and reinforce the company’s commitment to diversity. Dietrich collaborated in the development of Courtesy, Dignity and the Law II training, which sought to inform managers about the company’s obligations to prevent and remedy incidents of harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.

SUCCESS BEGINS WITH STRONG LEADERSHIP Sounds like SpartanNash. Congratulations to our nine associates for being recognized as 2019 Top Women in Grocery. We are grateful for your vision and leadership. Rising Stars Andrea Anson Allison Benczkowski Traci Donnelly Kimberly Gillen Hilary Mayes Mary Jennifer Talicuran Pam Waldin

Store Manager Nicole Eckhardt Senior-Level Executive Kathleen Mahoney


2019 Top Women in Grocery Ramiya Iyer

GVP, Consumer Applications, Albertsons Cos.

Iyer built strong, enduring relationships with business partners and motivated her teams to higher aspirations and excellence in performance. She led the total redesign and implementation of all digital properties, creating a multiyear road map based on how to engage customers in “shopping the way they want”; as a result, customer engagement increased by double digits. Iyer is implementing enhancements to a target road map that seeks to eliminate friction in the checkout process, with such changes as an expedited credit card EMV process; additionally, the company is piloting digital receipts, and mobile point-of-sale and lane-busting technologies.

Rucha Nanavati GVP, Product and Supply Chain Applications, Albertsons Cos.

An extraordinary leader who excels at partnering with the business and other IT leaders and consistently achieves excellent results, Nanavati developed strong teams and established consistently strong relationships with a range of vendor partners. She led a team of 250 professionals to drive the supply chain, merchandising and retail systems conversions to integrate Albertsons and Safeway. Nanavati headed the implementation of fully automated robotics warehouse automation, and is currently leading the modernization of legacy mainframe systems through re-platforming or re-engineering.


Jennifer Jesser

VP, Finance and Analytics, Own Brands, Albertsons Cos.

Jesser spent countless hours working with a cross-functional team to implement a software solution aimed at improving internal business processes spanning multiple company functions. She led the project team through design, development and testing of the new software to maintain regulatory compliance with menu labeling, and is currently working to map historical data and sunset the pre-existing system. Jesser’s leadership in implementing product lifecycle management was pivotal in integrating multiple company functions into a collective business process, creating multiple efficiencies and cost savings.

Valerie Wilson

VP, Merchandising Services, Albertsons Cos.

A consummate leader who helped her teams navigate the complex nature of business structure in her areas, Wilson continually provided direction to her team to help them achieve success. She continued to lead the co-development of a “best in industry” suite of space-planning tools, with rollout already completed for one solution. Wilson went above and beyond with her teams to make sure they knew that the difficult nature of their roles was recognized, and helped to keep their morale high by showing her appreciation in many ways, including an annual holiday potluck event providing her with the opportunity to thank associates for their contributions.

Suzanne Long GVP, Business Process Improvement, Albertsons Cos.

Long organized and managed the four-year schedule to convert 11 operating divisions, 12 distribution centers and 951 stores; she assembled track leads across the multiple areas of responsibility and partnered with IT to organize within the same tracks to build the required synergies. She demonstrated the ability not only to lead this large group through challenging and complex work efforts, but also to guide conversations in highly intricate and unique business scenarios that required special focus. Long’s top-notch leadership skills helped team members tackle often formidable work efforts while keeping long-term collective goals foremost in mind.

Cindy Garnett VP, Human Resources and Labor Relations, Albertsons Cos./ Shaw’s and Star Market

Under Garnett’s direction, Shaw’s and Star Market launched the We Care program to support fellow employees experiencing financial hardship, and local communities in times of emergency or natural disaster.


Amanda Martinez

GVP, Corporate Procurement, Albertsons Cos.

Martinez’s team supported the procurement system conversion across five distribution centers and the change of control, including the standing up of procurement teams, in one after another. She led supply chain efforts for a strategic technology project that aims tol transform the way that the company forecasts demand and replenishment. Martinez currently chairs the company’s Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network (WIIN) resource group, helping employees on Albertsons’ other campuses launch their own WIIN groups, and serves as the company’s national ambassador to the Network of Executive Women.

Abby Prior

VP of Marketing, BrightFarms

When BrightFarms recently undertook a search for a VP of sales, Prior stepped up to serve dual roles, leading both the marketing and sales units.

Having begun at Shaw’s and Star Market as a bagger 35-plus years ago, Garnett demonstrated her longstanding dedication to helping other women advance in the food industry through the launch of a new mentoring program.

She led the development and commercialization of BrightFarms’ innovative line of produce, including four new varieties of leafy greens, and its expansion into a new market, as well as growing the company’s customer base through new grocery retail partners Dierbergs, Food Lion, Jungle Jim’s, Misfits Market and Tops Markets.

With Garnett overseeing the communication process, the company rolled out diversity and inclusion e-training across the Shaw’s and Star Market division.

As a direct result of Prior’s stellar sales and marketing efforts, BrightFarms was able to increase its unit sales by more than 23 percent in 2018.

wisdom, heart, and passion produce fresh-thinking leadership.

meijer congratulates all of the top women in grocery, including our own. Lynette Ackley • Becky Bronkema • Melissa Conway • Michelle Daily • May Graceffa Kelly Kathlina • Melanie Mahan • Maureen Mitchell • Tami Nowaczyk Dormica Oppenhuizen • Zahra Sadry • Erin Walton


2019 Top Women in Grocery Rosemary Jones

EVP-Chief People Officer/Legal, Brookshire Grocery Co. (BGC)

Jones led a team to create an employee-funded emergency-assistance program that raised more than $450,000 in its first year, with similar monies pledged for 2019. Under her direction, the BGC partner app revolutionized employee communication capabilities and engagement, and she headed a revision of the benefits program that expanded offerings for partners while saving about $4.5 million in annual benefit expenses. Jones received BGC’s 2018 Louise Brookshire Spirit Award for outstanding leadership; the award hadn’t been bestowed since 2013 and was reintroduced specifically to honor her.

Hillary Garland

Group Director, Category Strategic Advisory-West Region, The CocaCola Co.

Together with sales, Garland secured a growth initiative commitment to re-engineer Coca-Cola’s partnership with Save Mart, based on category/ shopper insights, saving millions of dollars and leading to higher growth for both companies.


Angela Creech VP of Distribution Operations, C&S Wholesale Grocers

Now VP of distribution operations, Creech, as director of operations, played a leading role in the optimization of C&S’ network to support the reorganization of its primary Southeast customer, and in the launch of cost-reduction initiatives to improve the customer’s profitability. She was project lead on a top talent development initiative, chosen because of her proven ability to identify and develop leaders. A founding member of the C&S Diversity and Inclusion Council, Creech embarked on helping to shape a culture of diversity and to build a strategy leveraging that culture as a competitive advantage, and will make critical contributions to the company’s organizational health.

Lori Kassabian

Group Director, Customer Decision Support, The CocaCola Co.

Kassabian implemented a fully integrated revenue growth management and finance team in a large-store pilot, recruiting strong talent and operating without open positions on the Publix team for several months, while ensuring that the pilot could be scaled across other teams.

Her team took on the energy drink category captaincy at Target, which led to changes in how the retailer was merchandising the section, increasing distribution of Monster SKUs by 8 percent and improving space.

She strengthened partnerships with the National Retail Sales East SVP and leadership team through collaboration and leading financial stewardship through routine performance reviews.

Garland rolled out deep-discounter Aldi’s first-ever front end cooler test, a branded solution of private label and Coke products in test markets, with early results outpacing projections.

Kassabian spearheaded the Coca-Cola Northern New England bottling partner transition of accounts with both the revenue growth management and finance processes.

Denise Garcia VP-Country Manager, Club Demonstration Services (CDS) Canada

Garcia won the request for proposal that expanded the CDS demo platform for warehouse club operators in Canada, and led the logistics to launch the international sampling program that now spans 99 warehouses. She was instrumental in building the company culture by launching a campaign, Changing our DNA, which focused on driving operational excellence; this cultural transformation transitioned more than 4,200 associates, with 27,000-plus hours dedicated to training and development. Garcia’s team has doubled in size, executed multiple grand openings and increased event volume by 10 percent.

Katherine Fuller VP/General Manager, Crossmark

Fuller overdelivered on her revenue target by $13.5 million and assisted in additional new business wins totaling $19.4 million; her development of client plans and implementation of a weekly revenue tracker for her team aided revenue performance. She was asked to take on additional responsibilities, helping with the back-end client operations for the drug team and working closely with the operations leader on field initiatives. As a way to further her professional development, Fuller created a plan to gain headquarters knowledge that included meeting with internal subject-matter experts on the headquarters side to learn their strategy, process and terminology.


Dana Barba

Assistant VP, Shopper Marketing, The Coca-Cola Co.

Barba’s team rolled out Olympics-focused shopper programs with various retail and manufacturer partners, leading to double-digit increases in revenue, purchase amount and trip conversion. Her team also led best-in-thecountry results for the national Diet Coke new flavors launch, and developed a highly successful program focused on the untapped opportunities regarding beverage consumption for the at-home media occasion. A speaker at various industry events, Barba is an active member of the Network of Executive Women and Women’s LINC, and serves on the marketing advisory board for the YMCA of Greater New York.

Aimee Becker

SVP-Daymon Strategic Advisory, Daymon

Becker created the retail transformation team that developed a proprietary methodology to track private-brand performance and stay current on activity across the retail landscape. She delivered $1 million in savings to the organization and $1.5 million in incremental revenue, and completed a request for proposal on all outsourced design contracts that led to a 10 percent improvement in cost. Becker led her team in delivering a cross-functional project including brand/category strategy, logo creation and design for three category brands; the creation of a PLM technology platform; and implementation of three new analytic tools to drive faster insights.

Robin Alcorn Senior Director Design & Store Planning Corporate

Holly Alton

Gaby Armenta

Danielle Bicomong

Anita Boger

Kelly Boyd

Store Director

Store Director

Senior Product Manager Own Brands

Senior HR Manager of Corporate & Supply Chain

Director of Marketing

Northern California Division

Northern California Division


Supply Chain

Eastern Division

Karen Brophy

Ashley Canonica

Debbie Coffey

Cassidy Cofran

Marissa Crab

Elena Dietrich

Human Resources Business Partner

Marketing Director

Store Director

Store Director

Vice President Corporate Procurement, GMHBC

Vice President Litigation & Employment Law


Southern Division

Southern Division

Shaw’s Division

Supply Chain


Jaime Estes

Cindy Garnett

Charnita Gordon

Amber Graefen

Wendy Gutshall

Ramiya Iyer

Director of Food Safety

Vice President

Human Resources & Labor Relations Shaw’s Division

Store Director

Digital Marketing Manager

Director Public & Government Affairs

Group Vice President Consumer Applications

Jewel-Osco Division

Jewel-Ocso Division

Northern California Division


Cathey Jackson

Amy Jankauskis

Jennifer Jesser

Stephanie Kennedy

Michelle Khider

Kim Kilcoyne

Director TPA Claims

Assistant Sales Manager Service Deli

Vice President Finance & Analytics, Own Brands

Center Store Operations Specialist

Store Director

Floral Sales Manager


Jewel-Osco Division


Seattle Division

Northern California Division

Jewel-Osco Division

Southern Division

Nancy Klenow

Becca Lind

Suzanne Long

Amanda Martinez

Lea Maxwell

Eureka McCrae

Bakery Operations Specialist

Assistant Sales Manager

Group Vice President Business Process Improvement

Group Vice President Corporate Procurement

Store Director

District Manager

Southwest Division

Seattle Division


Supply Chain

Northern California Division

Seattle Division

Jody McGinley

Balasri Mekala

Lisa Mirae

Rucha Nanavati

Retail Integrity Manager

Senior Manager Quality Assurance

Senior Director Own Brands Marketing & Brand

Group Vice President

Rhonda Neal

Julie Nguyen

Southern Division



Product & Supply Chain Applications

Store Director

Director Pharmacy Integration


Southern California Division


Nikki Price

Jodie Reardon

Heather Roach-Lineberry

Sally Robinson

Maria Robles

Clarissa Sanchez

Pharmacy Director

Procurement Manager Produce

Store Director

Senior Manager Data Governance Fresh

Senior Manager Information Technology

Community Relations Coordinator

Denver Division

Shaw’s Division

Intermountain Division



Unired Division

Vicki Sell

Erin Shaal

Kari Smith

Mei-Mei Stark

Michelle Steele

Sarah Stolz

Senior Director Human Resources

Group Director Specialty Pharmacy

Store Director

Director Product Management

Service Deli Sales Manager

Pharmacy Manager

Supply Chain


Northern California Division


Intermountain Division

Jewel-Osco Division

Mary Frances Trucco

Brenda Velarde

Sandy Vox

Dana Ward

Miriam Welch

Tracie Wilson

Director of Public Affairs & Government Relations

Store Director

Assistant Sales Manager Total Alcohol Beverage

Senior Communications Coordinator

Grocery Sales Manager

Manager Payment Services (PSC)

Jewel-Osco Division

Denver Division

Jewel-Osco Division

ACME Division

Southern California Division


Valerie Wilson

Lissa Wolcott

Elsie Wolfe

Vice President Merchandising Services

Associate Relations Manager

Liquor Sales Manager


ACME Division

Northern California Division



2019 Top Women in Grocery Nicole Peranick Senior Director-Retail Transformation, Daymon

Peranick founded and built the retail transformation group following Daymon’s merger with Advantage Solutions; since the group’s inception, she and her team have enhanced the Daymon value proposition regarding innovation. She led the creation and authorship of two private-brand intelligence reports, revealing insights that have driven higher levels of engagement with clients, as well as new media exposure to enhance external visibility. Peranick spearheaded the relaunch of Daymon’s Global TrendWheel forecasting tool, which defines the evolution of consumer behavior affecting the future of retail, and is being leveraged to help retailers and suppliers optimize their business strategies.

Deborah Sabo SVP, Marketing, Food Lion

With oversight of a multimillion-dollar marketing budget, six directors and more than 50 associates, Sabo steered Shop & Earn, Food Lion’s new shopper rewards program, in its first year to save MVP loyalty card customers more than $22 million on top of their usual MVP savings. She directed the company’s new Food Lion to Go grocery delivery program, among other responsibilities. Responsible for the company’s philanthropic platform, Food Lion Feeds, which builds an emotional connection with customers, Sabo supervised the donation of 70 million-plus meals through the grocer’s Feeding America-affiliated food bank partners.


Kelly VlahakisHanks

President and CEO, Earth Friendly Products

Vlahakis-Hanks led her company to increase its diversion of manufacturing waste from landfills from 95 percent in 2017 to 97 percent in 2018. She continued to push the boundaries of green chemistry innovation as a leading advocate for the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice program, overseeing the development of several new greenchemistry formulations under the program, including ECOSBreeze, an odor-elimination technology derived from plant-based ingredients. Vlahakis-Hanks instituted a composting program at her California facility, which resulted in the avoidance of 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

Nicole Parker

VP, Business Development, FoodStory Brands

Parker was instrumental in changing the company’s business model from a focus on mass and club retailers to regional and national grocer expansion. Under her leadership, FoodStory’s top two brands experienced significant growth; she played a key role in increasing Fresh Cravings’ points of distribution from 4,000 to 9,000 sites, and helped introduce Fresh Cravings Organic Salsa, an affordable organic option. Parker led the company’s other major brand line, Cocktail Artists, to increase from eight to 18 products and distribution in 4,000 to 7,000 stores.

Andrea Chase

VP-Catgory Management, Fareway Stores Inc.

After selecting and onboarding two service providers, Chase executed category reviews and developed planograms in various departments, which led to item assortment and placement adjustments driving 15.89 percent natural/organic sales growth over last year, among other positive results. Collaborating directly with buyers and retail departments, she instituted a new-item communication process, greatly improving on an antiquated method of sharing critical details regarding new product offerings. Chase worked directly with Fareway’s IT team to update and enhance its internal retail sales-reporting software, and organized training sessions for software users.

PJ Oleksak

Chief Growth Officer, FreshDirect

In 2018, Oleksak took the on-demand delivery service FoodKick from a startup within FreshDirect to a fully profitable sister business covering the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens; she led her team to perfect the “dark store” mode to move closer to customers and deliver in as little as an hour. With FreshDirect’s move last year, she led marketing and customer services in a campaign that helped retain the company’s most valuable customers. Oleksak undertook responsibility for a complete overhaul of employee compensation, tying bonuses to productivity, which enhanced productivity.


Linda Johnson SVP, Human Resources, Food Lion

Johnson’s primary focus in 2018 was to oversee staffing for remodeled Roanoke and Norfolk, Va., stores; her strategies resulted in year-over-year hiring increases of 47 percent (Roanoke) and 54 percent (Norfolk). Her talent management strategy achieved a retention rate of 85 percent-plus for director level and above while increasing diversity in the category. Under Johnson’s direction, her team recognized associates at certain milestones in their careers, such as 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of service; the company celebrated almost 300 employees for their dedicated service to the organization by holding a luncheon in their honor, hosted by Food Lion’s president.

Ann-Marie Daugherty

VP, Logistics, Giant Eagle Inc.

Daugherty was in charge of all inbound freight and outbound transportation to Giant Eagle and GetGo outlets, and had responsibility for the safety of 448 Teamster drivers and mechanics. She developed two safety policies, negotiated with two Teamster unions, promoting the goal of consistent driver accountability and reduction of incidents across the network. Daugherty created a training program for transportation and retail support center leaders, and a platform she developed for her team leaders helped them obtain advanced training and certification from the National Private Truck Council.


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2019 Top Women in Grocery Lora Dikun

SVP, Chief Administrative Officer, Chief People Officer and Corporate Secretary, Giant Eagle Inc.

Dikun led a hiring pilot at Giant Eagle’s health and beauty care retail support center (RSC) that will roll out out to all RSCs; her team worked closely with local agencies to hire differently abled associates, with new hires paired with a current team member as an ally/friend. She guided the organization in achieving an all-time low in unsafe conditions, beyond industry benchmarks. After reorganization led to four new business units, Dikun developed annual and long-term incentive plans linked to the objectives of each unit.

Denise Broderick

VP, Customer Care, Hy-Vee Inc.

Broderick restructured the process used by Hy-Vee customer experience supervisors to handle store-level issues; by creating a system that aggregates data from the Customer Care Center’s thousands of chat messages, emails and phone calls each week, some customer service issues were quickly identified.


Tonya Herring SVP, Merchandising, Giant Food

Herring built the first merchandising team at Giant Food in 15 years, adding 80-plus new associates, from category directors, managers and analysts to a pricing director and analysts, as well as commercial-planning and special-project teams. As a result of the best-in-class execution standards set by her team, the new merchandising organization delivered its best performance in six years. Herring helped her company understand the value that having a merchandising organization can bring; by adding merchandising back into the brand, she helped educate all departments in merchandising best practices to deliver improved sales results.

Lindsay Knoop VP, Auditing, Hy-Vee Inc.

Overseeing all internal-audit functions for Hy-Vee, including six of its seven subsidiaries, Knoop led the deployment of electronic auditing software that streamlined the audit-reporting process.

From this point, customer experience supervisors could work directly with the department or store involved to handle the issue and improve customer experience.

She refined audit procedures by implementing more risk-based analytical procedures to help determine areas of focus; this increase in analytical procedures allowed Hy-Vee’s auditing department to take advantage of a greater amount of data that might point out potential problems sooner than in the past.

Broderick oversaw creation of customer experience director positions, and is monitoring the pilot for a chain-wide rollout.

These procedures also helped Knoop’s department focus time and attention on areas that have shown increased risk.

Aimee Smith

VP for the People, Harmons Grocery

A senior certified professional in human resources responsible for caring for Harmons’ associates, as well as an operating board member who contributes to the strategic direction of the company and informs business development activities, Smith introduced programs to honor employees’ personal achievements such as earning a degree. She oversaw implementation of a digital human resource information system to ease access of information and streamline work. In 2018, she researched and implemented an upgraded life insurance policy for associates, providing coverage to an additional 700-plus employees.

Angie Nelson VP, Pharmacy Operations, Hy-Vee Inc.

In 2018, Nelson helped grow Hy-Vee’s pharmacy business to one of the largest departments in the company; under her leadership, the pharmacy division experienced record sales and profits, as well as record flu shot administration. Due to her efforts, a record number of customers enrolled in 2018 Repeat Refills, Hy-Vee’s auto-refill program, which in turn improved patients’ adherence – a particular goal of hers. Nelson oversaw two recent pharmacy acquisitions, which included obtaining pharmacy licenses in several states, buying equipment, recruiting staff and overseeing their training.


Casey Killough Director of Pharmacy, Harris Teeter LLC

Overseeing pharmacy operations at more than 200 retail locations, with a goal of ensuring optimal day-to-day execution, Killough led script growth of 12.84 percent and sales growth of 14.24 percent. Under her guidance, the number of flu shots given increased by 33.4 percent, with a 42.4 percent sales uptick, while nonflu vaccines given increased by 372 percent in count and 413 percent in sales; operation hours and staffing were modified for annualized labor savings of $5 million. Killough’s acquisition of a competitor’s files yielded year-to-date increased sales from May to July of $12.7 million.

Deb Riedel

Group VP, Floral; President, Florist Distributing Inc. (FDI), Hy-Vee Inc.

Riedel oversaw both Hy-Vee’s internal floral operations and also its subsidiary supply chain Florist Distributing Inc. (FDI), making her first person in Hy-Vee company history to manage both the retail and supply chain aspects simultaneously. In her dual role, Riedel was instrumental in building sales in the lawn and garden departments, adding new items for customers in these areas. Riedel successfully drove a complete department refresh in floral across the company, including the introduction of new product lines, sourcing new packaging and creating new layouts for display features.

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2019 Top Women in Grocery Donna Tweeten

EVP, Chief Marketing Officer; Chief Customer Officer, Hy-Vee Inc.

In 2018, Tweeten oversaw the advertising, marketing and PR strategies for Hy-Vee’s first three Wahlburger’s restaurants; the first eatery opened in the Mall of America and received national media coverage. Late last year, the Hy-Vee history book that Tweeten assembled and oversaw was released, garnering Gold and Judge’s Choice American Advertising Awards. Tweeten was responsible for the grocery industry’s first streaming network, Helpful Smiles Television (HSTV), which features original programming; the initiative went on to win Judge’s Choice, Gold and Silver American Advertising Awards.

Sandy Steiger

VP, Analysis, The Kroger Co./84.51

Steiger led her analytics team to influence data-driven decisions on financial goals, process improvement and efficiencies, productivity reporting mechanisms, and collaboration across the business. She grew the use of predictive/ prescriptive analytics, increasing the number of projects using these techniques by at least 30 percent; supported the deployment of automated machine-learning platform DataRobot across 10 corporate missions; and worked with senior leaders to gain support for analytics in setting business goals. Steiger’s Analyst Development Program and Continuing Education Program, both focused on educating existing talent, contributed to increased employee feedback scores.


Sarah Steffes

VP, Sales, Insignia Systems

Annie Ryu

Founder and CEO, The Jackfruit Co.

Steffes was a primary driver in the growth of client partnerships and portfolio solutions, delivering 30 percent of the company’s total revenue in 2018, and 40 percent of revenue for innovation products within the portfolio.

Ryu led what’s now the largest U.S. jackfruit supplier, thanks to a supply chain of 1,000-plus farmer partners in India that brings sustainably sourced jackfruit to the United States in convenient, whole-food plant-based formats.

She secured key clients within new and emerging brand spaces as they launched into the grocery channel, and was instrumental in introducing new products into Insignia’s portfolio that provided sustainable revenue-growth experiences.

Her work with chefs and nutritionists to produce new, exciting meals helped promote mainstream consumption of jackfruit in the United States; the company doubled its product categories and introduced new products that will drive more than 40 percent of sales in 2019 and help keep the company on its triple-digit growth trajectory.

Steffes’ work output helped guide the organizational restructuring and implementation of integrated tools, which allowed for sustainable and scalable areas of growth.

Karen Hughes

VP, Merchandising, The Kroger Co./ Fred Meyer

Hughes had an impact on a number of areas, among them improving total pharmacy labor hours and increasing pharmacist effectiveness, growing digitally engaged households, meeting shrink goals, raising associate insights scores in merchandising, and growing the brand. She collaborated to align the division with the general office’s ad plan, allowing the team to prioritize the customer experience and execute against a key piece of the Restock Kroger strategy. Hughes spearheaded 17 store remodels within the division; she also became executive sponsor of Fred Meyer’s Women’s EDGE group and mentored a colleague through the executive leadership development program.

Ryu oversaw product innovation, finance, sales and marketing strategies at her company.

Suzy Monford

Division President, The Kroger Co./ QFC

Monford increased the number of natural and organic products offered in the stores, led a SKU rationalization that contributed to a 2.13 percent increase in sales, and finalized an in-store FitMarket proof of concept, featuring fitness and water stations. She identified three locations as the division’s proof-of-concept innovation stores with such new features as a bacon bar with raw bacon, ready-to-eat strips of bacon and hot breakfast sandwiches; a chocolate cookie bar; and self-service grab-and-go bars with hot and cold options. Monford oversaw the EDGE Kroger/Microsoft partnership pilot program, featuring cutting-edge technology that includes digital shelves, guided shopping and personalized in-store digital ads.


Lindsay Koch

President, Koch & Associates Inc.

The chain-specific distribution initiatives, promotions, marketing and programs that Koch developed with manufacturers have driven sales and increased mutual business between her core retail accounts – which include Kroger, Publix, Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Supervalu – and her vendor clients by an average of 36 percent. Through creative programs that focus on innovation, pack sizes, price points, TPR schedules and marketing dollar spends, she brought brands from the corner store to the largest accounts in the country, some with a 42 prcent year-over-year growth. Koch is currently working on opening doors with various international accounts.

Lynette Ackley VP, Health, Beauty and Baby Consumables, Meijer Inc.

Ackley led a variety of projects that significantly impacted the business, including the launch of a new HBC prototype that outperformed total store averages across all metrics and exceeded average sales, outpacing the average total store contribution for the HBC department. She led the OTC health care teams to deliver best-in-class financial results driven by a strategic joint business-planning process that included optimizing and upgrading in-store space and secondary displays. Ackley led first-to-market strategies to launch new national and own brands, and intentionally allocated space and marketing to highlight natural brands and trends.

CONGRATULATIONS to our Top Women in Grocery

Danielle Benedict

Stephanie Propp

Carolyn Gullikson

Tara Thommes

Chief Human Resources Officer

National HR Director

Safety and Food Safety Manager, CUB

Retail Category Manager

Laurie Casagrande

MaryJo Neuman

Shannon Fallon

Business Development Project Manager

Customer Service Manager, CUB

Brand Management Director

Thank you for helping UNFI transform the world of food.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Maureen Mitchell

Regional VP, Meijer Inc.

Mitchell launched retail leadership development programs that resulted in the increase of her leadership talent pipeline, including the development and promotion of six store directors in her region this year. She took a special interest in the development of young adults through the retail intern program and created opportunities for young leaders to experience many facets of the retail industry through Meijer. Mitchell emceed the 2019 West Michigan International Women’s Day event, supported by companies that embrace diversity, with the aim of helping women build their careers; more than 570 attendees came to the event.

Laura Strange

SVP, Communications and External Affairs, National Grocers Association (NGA)

Strange oversaw the request-for-proposal process, planning and launch of new websites for NGA and the NGA Foundation, delivering the projects on time and on budget as well as implementing a new communications platform. An important part of NGA’s legislative success in 2018, she worked with outside stakeholders and NGA’s legislative team to have op-eds placed in select publications in an effort to raise awareness by elected officials of key NGA priorities. Strange engaged produce industry trade associations and NGA members early on in last year’s romaine lettuce crisis.


Susan Vanderploeg Founder and Chairman, MessageWrap

MessageWrap, the patented in-store advertising effort that transforms checkstand conveyor belts into dynamic, antibacterial billboards for marketing and advertising campaigns, which Vanderploeg founded from her kitchen table, has been installed in stores across North America and achieved 518 percent yearover-year growth last year. Taking a hands-on leadership role, she spent hours at the production facility ensuring that every MessageWrap rolled out to 1,000 Target stores was printed and shipped correctly. Vanderploeg is currently lining up partnerships to roll out MessageWrap to other parts of the globe.

Melissa Villareal VP of Finance/ Controller, Nature Nate’s

For the 2019 budgeting process, Villareal created turnkey tools for each functional leader and met with the leaders to ensure that they were clear on timelines, expectations and inputs. She took major steps to introduce month-end departmental reporting and implemented monthly meetings with leaders to ensure their adherence to the budget; this, coupled with monthly budget reviews, reduced costs by $2.3 million in 2018. The streamlined function of Villareal’s team enabled departmental managers to reduce month-end close by 60 percent, and they can now accomplish it in five days.

Patricia Wallwork

CEO and Chairman of the Board, Milo’s Tea Co.


Marygrace Sexton

Founder and CEO, Natalie’s Orchid Island Juices

Wallwork led Milo’s to become the fastest-growing refrigerated tea brand in the United States, with the top-selling item in the category (Milo’s Sweet Gallons) and growth that continued to outpace the category.

Sexton oversaw Natalie’s expansion into a new facility allowing to introduce cold-press production and bring to market a new line of functional holistic juices, all with no adverse impact on the company’s bottom-line performance.

Committed to helping balance the work and home lives of her associates, she created a temporary schedule, allowing for ample personal time with family while also meeting production needs.

Natalie’s, a second-generation, women-owned company with Sexton at the helm, has become a major player in the readyto-drink beverage sector and placed on the Inc. List of 5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in the United States.

Wallwork made Milo’s sustainability efforts a top priority: Under her guidance, the company adopted an aggressive approach to reducing waste and increasing recycling — 99 percent of raw materials and packaging brought into the plant is now recycled.

Toby Noiles

EVP, Canadian Food Procurement and Marketing, North West Co./ Canadian Retail Division

Noiles put in place foundational best practices for marketing and merchandising with people, process and technological enhancements, while also restructuring her team for optimal performance.

Sexton is also founder of the nonprofit A-GAP, which takes its participants on a journey free of the distractions of today’s technological devices to promote healthy living.

Reem Rahim Hassani

Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer, Numi Organic Tea

In 2018, for the third year in a row, Hassani’s commitment to positive environmental impact led Numi to earn a place on the Best for the World list, and the company was also honored in the Best for the Environment list, by the nonprofit B Lab.

As a result, she helped drive revenue from 3 percent to 6 percent above trend, expanded a convenience strategy driving double-digit growth and developed a strategic road map to deliver $2 million in cost savings

Her leadership abilities were recognized with the 2018 Women and Business and the Professions World Award; she received a gold medal for Female Executive of the Year.

Noiles designed and implemented a category management process, leveraging best practices from top U.S. grocery retailers, to improve assortment, pricing and promo strategy, as well as to remove retail pain points.

Through her work with the Numi Foundation, Hassani embarked on an education and infrastructure program in Assam, India, to bring clean water and sanitation to Numi’s 6,500 farming families in the area.


Roxanne Bernstein

Chief Marketing Officer, Post Consumer Brands

Bernstein led Post Consumer Brands to gain more than a full point of market share, driving 5 percent growth in a hotly contested, declining category. Her team also drove total company growth of 3.8 percent and roughly one full point of market share, and, in partnership with Mondelez International, launched a groundbreaking new platform of indulgence cereals targeted to Millennials that delivered an impressive $52 million. Bernstein won a Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador Award for her commitment to the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and to continued advocacy across the organization; she was also a keynote speaker at a retailer’s Veterans Day event.

Alice Francis

EVP, Operations, Shipt

A key member of Shipt’s executive leadership team and board of directors, Francis led a team of 100 employees and 100,000 Shipt Shoppers, and guided business operations, market launch and operations, logistics, shopper recruiting, shopper engagement and performance, and catalog. In the past year, her team added about 14,000 shoppers monthly and experienced a doubling of orders every month, and Shipt has expanded to 160 additional metro areas and nearly 5,000 store locations. Francis additionally oversaw the launch of Shipt’s Delivery Only and Pickup services to hundreds of store locations.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Roxanne Davis

VP and General Manager, Three Sisters, Post Consumer Brands

Athough it was established only a year ago through the merger of Attune Foods, Weetabix and MOM’s Best Cereals, Three Sisters, under Davis’ leadership, has grown to be a $140 million entity of Post Consumer Brands (PCB). She has been a key driver in helping the businesses integrate processes, systems and culture as one company, and in creating a unified business structure dedicated to serve the organic foods division of PCB. Davis was active in Post’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, having led the employee initiative for the past five years; she recently trained the sales organization on having effective conversations regarding diversity.

Melody Conner SVP of Sales, Soylent

Conner oversaw an aggressive growth strategy that moved the company from single-channel to omnichannel international outlets, and provided strategic guidance on expansion to the leadership team. She led the charge in expanding the number of retail locations where Soylent is available from 2,000 to 15,000, and also worked with leaders of Amazon Launchpad and Walmart. Named a Windsor Entrepreneur Fellow in 2015, Conner gathered with leaders around the world at Windsor Castle in the United Kingdom to collaborate on spurring innovation and cross-cultural dialogues.

Lisa Manzoline

Director of Sales, Private Brands, Reynolds Consumer Products

Managing more than 180 private label SKUs sold to Walmart, Manzoline worked with more than 200 associates across the sales, marketing, production, engineering and finance functions. In just a few months on the job, she devised game-changing concepts between multiple business units and drove improved customer satisfaction, quality and speed to market. Manzoline was elected chairwoman of the board of directors of the Private Label Manufacturers Association, was recognized with a Walmart award in consumables for executing case-pack efficiencies in select products, and won a Quick Turnaround Award for her flawless execution of display mock-ups.

Liz Thompson

Dyana Tull

VP, Commercial Litigation and U.S. Privacy Officer, Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA company

Tull supervised commercial legal services to support U.S. brands and served as the privacy officer for Ahold Delhaize USA; she led a staff of four attorneys and paralegals and provided oversight for multimillion-dollar budgets and portfolios. She and her team resolved 17 significant legal matters and successfully integrated the Ahold USA and Delhaize America legal services portfolios, and she launched a new Retail Business Services commercial team that generated multimillion-dollar revenue and cost savings. Tull sits on the boards of directors of nonprofits WinterKids and Good Shepherd Food Ministry.

Kathleen Mahoney

Chief People Officer, Southeastern Grocers

Through her primary job of driving cultural transformation, Thompson brought about positive change at every level of the company, and actively worked for a better overall customer experience through improved retail associate culture and engagement. Leveraging an adaptive microlearning training platform delivering personalized, bite-sized pieces of information, she helped create a culture of learning and development that has become part of associates’ daily routines. Thompson is a certified professional coach and an executive cabinet member of the American Heart Association.

President, MDV; EVP and Chief Legal Officer, SpartanNash

As president of MDV, Mahoney led significant new business development within the military channel, which included forming a partnership with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to provide fresh produce. She and the MDV team received a SpartanNash Innovation award for their private-brand product development on behalf of the Defense Commissary Agency. As a vital member of SpartanNash’s crisis management team, Mahoney advised the company through a class I recall of cut melon, as well as a nationwide recall of romaine lettuce.




2019 Top Women in Grocery Timmi Zalatoris

VP, Human Resources, Sprouts Farmers Market

After her promotion to VP of human resources, Zalatoris oversaw Sprouts’ new “People Powered. Purpose Driven” employer brand campaign designed to attract new talent; the initiative helped Sprouts fill more than 3,500 new roles in new and existing markets across the country. She led the rollout of a team member wellness program called My Wellbeing, which helps employees improve their mental, physical and financial health. Zalatoris and her HR team introduced two programs designed to allow Sprouts team members to take greater ownership of their development and career opportunities.

Elizabeth Collins

VP Human Resources, Twinlab Consolidation Corp.

Collins executed an HR transition from Utah to Florida and implemented “quick wins” to boost morale, such as weekly team breakfasts and summer hours. She disputed and resolved more than 15 unemployment claims in Florida alone, secured a new payroll company, negotiated with Twinlab’s health insurance carrier, and completed open enrollment with 100 percent participation in 15 days. Collins sponsors a team every year for the Pancreatic Cancer Walk, sponsors a child through the Angel Tree Program and sits on the Program Advisory Committee for Everglades University.


Adrienne Uy

CFO and COO, Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery (

Uy demonstrated strong leadership at SPUD, a Canadian grocer with brick-and-click operations; under her watch, the company piloted Be Fresh Marketplace and Food-X Urban Delivery, and one of its biggest wins was signing a five-year deal with Walmart Canada. She worked with SPUD’s sustainability team to maintain and improve its B Corporation certification; the company also won a national award at the National Zero Waste Conference. Uy is on the board of directors for the Canada Health Food Association, the country’s largest trade association dedicated to natural and organic products.

Carla Goffstein

SVP Finance and Accounting; Interim CFO, Twinlab Consolidation Corp.

Overseeing a team of 15 people, Goffstein handled the organization’s financial planning, accounting practices, and relationships with lending institutions and shareholders; she also directed treasury, budgeting, audit, tax, accounting, purchasing, real estate, long-range forecasting and insurance activities. In 2018, she identified profit improvement opportunities; implemented a cost savings program for corporate staffing restructuring, saving millions; and led a financial and strategy review with investment bankers on a potentially major deal. Beyond work, Goffstein is treasurer of the Make Our Schools Safe nonprofit organization.

Kristen Hanson VP of Center Store and Pharmacy Sales and Merchandising, Tops Markets LLC

Hanson led category planning across the fresh and center store businesses, defining processes and procedures to create effective joint annual category plans with key manufacturers. She developed and led a cross-functional training and development program for store managers looking to move into category management positions. Hanson led the requestfor-proposal process for a supplier in the natural and organic space that not only improved Tops’ assortment, but also lifted the grocer’s profits, consumer satisfaction, speed to market and digital presence.

Melissa Zawada

VP of Brand, Reserveage Nutrition/ResVitale, ReBody, Twinlab Consolidation Corp.

Zawada led a six-person team for the company’s largest brand, made up of 80-plus items accounting for $40 million in sales in more than 10,000 retail locations.


Heena Rathore CEO, TrueChoicePack

Since founding the packaging company in 2012, Rathore has developed and introduced into the market such new items as Kroger’s Home Sense brand; the retailer’s sustainable/ organic brand, Simple Truth; and TrueChoicePack’s sustainable foodservice product line, BioGreenChoice. She managed a large international supply chain operation, and under Rathore, TrueChoicePack won a number of key awards, including the New Vendor of the Year from Kroger. Originally from India, Rathore came to the United States as an adult after holding managerial positions at General Electric and Suzlon Energy.

Danielle Benedict

Chief Human Resources Officer, UNFI

Benedict led the human resources function for the entire company of more than 30,000 associates and 60-plus distribution centers in North America.

She led the team to its most profitable year ever, expanding into 3,000 new stores in three months, employing strategic push/pull campaigns with retailers and using targeted outreach campaigns to increase customers by 60 percent.

As a key member of the executive leadership team developing and executing short-, mid- and long-term strategy for UNFI, she helped orchestrate the acquisition of Supervalu in 2018, and then played a pivotal role in integrating the two companies during a time of major organizational change.

In addition to winning product awards, Zawada received the Junior League of Gainesville League of Her Own Award and was named to the Gainesville Sun 40 Under 40 list.

A governing member of the Boston CHRO Leadership Summit, Benedict is also involved with both the Network of Executive Women and the Society for Human Resources Management.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Anne Dament

EVP, Private Brands, Marketing and Retail, UNFI

One of two executive leaders who stayed in place after UNFI acquired Supervalu, Dament helped lead the integration of the organization. Responsible for more than 100 retail stores across the country, she provided marketing services and private-brand products to many of the company’s 3,000 independent customers across 46 states. Diversity and inclusion are paramount to Dament, who formed a committee across all levels of the organization to discuss and create plans to bring people together and build a workforce embedding equality, inclusion and diversity.

Cheryl Williams CIO, Wakefern Food Corp.

Keeley Tillotson CEO/Co-Founder, Wild Friends Foods

Chief Brand Officer/ Co-Founder, Wild Friends Foods

Having founded natural nut butter company Wild Friends Foods in 2011 with fellow Top Woman Erika Welsh, Tillotson managed daily operations, set strategic direction and raised capital through investor funding.

A co-founder of the company with fellow Top Woman Keeley Tillotson in 2011, Welsh managed brand interaction with consumers, marketing and the generation of a future innovation pipeline.

She oversaw 300-plus associates, had a multimillion-dollar annual operating budget and worked with all retail stores to improve their technology.

In 2018, Wild Friends had its largest amount of fundraising in the company’s history, with a $3.5 million round to allow the team to continue its mission and add to its 10-person team and product lineup.

In 2018, Wild Friends Foods obtained B Corporation certification, meaning that the company can legally expand beyond the financial interests of shareholders to include consideration of environmental and social impact.

The company partnered with growing natural brand Vital Proteins to deliver collagen nut butters — the first such items in this emerging space — which include collagen protein peptides.

Walsh dedicates her time to Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, sharing the story of Wild Friends and demonstrating that women can successfully run small businesses.

Williams examined current practices, searching for the best methods of modernizing infrastructure, and found a sustainable system that improves current functionality and allows for upgrades as new capabilities become available.

Jennifer Douglass

Director, General Merchandising/ Health and Beauty Care, Boise, Acosta

Douglass overdelivered on the Acosta GM/HBC 2018 budget by 28 percent by establishing strong, strategic partnerships with leadership from a national supermarket customer and national sales managers. She created and fine-tuned a national selling team that is spread across the United States and calls on all 13 divisions of a national supermarket company. Douglass increased sales for a national supermarket’s GM/HBC promotion by 22 percent over the prior year; over three months, she negotiated national offers on behalf of 14 clients, making Acosta the No. 1 contributor as a whole to the GM/HBC portion of Monopoly.

Erika Welsh

Williams looked for ways to harness technology to improve the customer experience, such as leading the launches of ShopRite’s first mobile app and of ShopRite from Home’s online pickup and delivery service.

Rising Stars



Bridget Faughnan

Director of Grocery, Metro New York, Acosta

Faughnan played a critical role in the development of many of Acosta’s employees through its Leadership Development Program, ensuring that associates learn every aspect of the industry and are exposed to all facets of Acosta’s business. She achieved exceptional performance results for one of Acosta’s leading manufacturer clients; under her direction, the team was able to execute bestin-class new-item introductions, category and brand management, trade management, and sales negotiation. Faughnan is actively involved with the Network of Executive Women, and also volunteers her time at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.


At the J.M. Smucker Company, spreads leadership is as easy as PB&J.

We take a total category approach

We put shoppers first

• Developing holistic category insights

• Evolving our portfolio to meet their needs

• A�racting shoppers with new products

• Providing be�er-for-you alternatives

• Investing in total category to drive growth

• Offering options for every occasion

Innovation brought to you by The J.M. Smucker Company family of brands. ©/TM/® The J.M. Smucker Company. * Source: IRI Unify Multi-Outlet – 52 Weeks Ending March 25, 2018



We compare your packaging options for light protection capacity and guide you to the best cost efficient design that prevents content change due to light exposure. Our patented technology measures, assesses and then Noluma certifies the end result as optimally light protected.

Š 2019 Noluma International, LLC. Noluma™ and the Noluma Logo are trademarks of Noluma International, LLC.


LINKING PACKAGING AND CONSUMER TRUST: HOW THE INDUSTRY SHOULD LEAD THE WAY Packaging suppliers have an obligation to share the full extent of their industry expertise with their clients. This means moving beyond discussing the latest trend in recyclable materials or supply chain operations to helping brands understand the fundamental impact that packaging has on contents and on their customer relationships – a holistic approach that takes into account everything from purchasing decisions, to brand perceptions, to consumer trust.

Putting a label on consumer trust While the aesthetic remains important, a bigger, bolder approach to packaging design cannot come at the expense of honest labelling. This is especially true of FMCG brands: Customers want as much information as possible about their food and beverages, and packaging is a vital way of communicating this. Indeed, studies are increasingly pointing to a clean label trend, with consumers demanding more from their brands in this area. A recent study by Label Insight demonstrated that consumers are willing to pay more for and will stay loyal to transparent brands. Similarly, Nielsen recently revealed consumers are actively seeking out brands that are honest about their ingredients.

Nutrient degradation Consumer-goods brands always aim to label their products accurately and record the level of nutrients honestly. The problem comes in between products leaving the factory and being opened by the customer: Often the food consumers end up eating does not contain the same level of nutrients as it did when it was first packaged for sale. Various factors impact this – but light is one of the main degradation culprits. Dairy is a case in point. Whether it be light from retail displays or fridges at home, exposure to light can significantly reduce a product’s nutritional content. Milk begins to lose vitamin A after less than two hours of exposure to retail lighting. According to the Journal of Dairy Science, after 16 hours of similar light exposure, less than half of the vitamin A remained in milk in a typical plastic bottle. A further study identified that after 12 weeks of light exposure in a retail setting, the nutritional value in UHT milk declined rapidly: Vitamin A reduced by 93%, vitamin D by 66% and vitamin B2 by 100%. And it’s not just indoor artificial light that causes damage: After one hour of sunlight exposure, riboflavin – a nutrient which is crucial for breaking down food components, absorbing other nutrients and helping to maintain body tissues in pasteurized whole milk - dropped by 28%, a study in the Journal of Dairy Science has shown.

What is the answer? Light-protected packaging can provide an easy solution to this problem – a way of shielding dairy and other products from possible light damage, while also ensuring that brands deliver their products as they intended and that consumers get the nutrients they expect. Using the highest level of light protection in product packaging can preserve nutrients, freshness, stability, color, efficacy, performance, sensory and quality characteristics, and lead to an extended sensory shelf life for many products that reduces food waste. For more information, email Learn more at

©2019 Noluma International, LLC. Noluma™ and the Noluma Logo are trademarks of Noluma International, LLC.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Megan Figliuolo Senior Director, National Client Insights, Acosta

Figliuolo provided insight-rich opportunities that resulted in increased availability of a leading beverage brand’s warehouse beverages in the value channel, resulting in millions of dollars of net revenue; she was appointed the main point of contact for all major clients to develop stronger relationships and facilitate executional excellence at the customer level.

Director, Internal Communications, Acosta

Kerlew increased the emphasis and effectiveness of leadership communications, launching the company’s first newsletter specifically targeting managers; she was critical in establishing a formal sequence of communications to ensure that leaders are aware of initiatives and equipped to handle associate questions.

She developed standardized processes to ensure ongoing alignment between the sales and insights teams, encouraging planning and discouraging short lead times.

She recruited and managed a network of 75 change agents who were charged with understanding the company-wide changes to core systems technology, and how their constituencies were affected.

Figliuolo received Acosta’s Silver Chairman’s Award for her role in retaining a major client’s portfolio, resulting in incremental $5 million net revenue.

Kerlew is an active member of the Jacksonville, Fla., chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, where she has served a variety of roles.

Stephanie Sosa Senior Manager, Retail Business Strategy, Acosta

Sosa was an integral part of the team that exceeded planned growth for the first time in three years with her client; she increased all-commodity volume (ACV) levels on three strategic business units. She worked diligently on implementing retail key performance indicators and specific metrics to track results, and delivered a 120 percent index in sales versus year ago by improving in-store execution. An active member of the Network of Executive Women, Sosa was the recipient of the Bronze “Trust” Chairman’s Award — the highest honor that Acosta bestows upon employees — for her stellar results relating to the fresh retail business.


April Kerlew

Amanda Tomek

Director of Research, Strategic Advisors, Acosta

Tomek presented insights and suggestions on assortment and shelving to the leadership team, employing loyalty card, syndicated and panel data; with her work as a best-in-class template, client objectives were 100 percent realized. She ran scenarios to look at retailers that were over- and under-forecasted to ensure an accurate mix; this year, she found a $5 million forecasting error, and another $2 million in trade that could be reduced. Since joining Acosta, Tomek has won two Chairman’s Awards, the the company’s highest honor for employees, and was individually recognized for her contributions on a major frozen meals initiative.

Kim Kristoff

Director, Business Development, Acosta

Kristoff worked to promote employee inclusion and engagement by focusing on corporate values of people and teamwork, and facilitating meetings, organizing events, managing the budget and coordinating operations. She spearheaded an initiative to help standardize the company’s category review templates, so that Acosta can expand to more clients and further increase its return on investment. Kristoff chairs the Jacksonville Culture Committee, fostering employee engagement and community leadership within the Jacksonville, Fla., office; she’s also involved with United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Notre Dame Club of Jacksonville and St. Vincent’s Shircliff Society.

Julie Haferkamp Senior Account Director, Acosta/ Mosaic


Amber Barkley Murayi

Senior Director, Corporate Strategy, Acosta

Murayi was an integral part of the core team that developed and implemented an end-to-end transformation for Acosta’s largest business unit; this included leading the creation of a client and customer segmentation based in analytics that provided a new way to look at the business. She developed a three-to-fiveyear company strategy, generating board buy-in and full executive leadership support; after only one year, Murayi has established herself as a key member in setting the overall strategic direction for the company. Murayi brought new thinking, persistence and creative problem solving to challenge the status quo, improving performance.

Ashley Jarvis

Associate Account Director, Acosta/ Mosaic

In 2018, Haferkamp’s team delivered the largest volume of business for a leading a food and beverage company since Mosaic took on the client in 2013.

Jarvis grew the relationship with one of Mosaic’s food clients by more than 500 percent, positioning Acosta as a preferred vendor for enhanced in-store demos.

Despite changes to the final program structure, she and her team activated against the largest single consumer packaged goods program that they had ever secured.

She was instrumental in winning a multimillion-dollar piece of business through an extensive request-for-proposal process for a leading coffee brand; managing the entire program from start to finish, she guided her team to execute a flawless tour, exceeding expectations and delivering higher-than-anticipated margins.

Haferkamp was selected by the Women in Sports and Events (WISE) national board to enroll in an executive MBA program at Tuck Executive Education at Dartmouth College; upon her graduation, WISE National sponsored her appointment to the WISE Executive Leadership Institute, and she is currently WISE Chicago’s president.

Jarvis won a Bronze Reggie award in experiential marketing and a Bronze Effie award in the Omni-Channel Shopping Experience category for the Oreo Walmart World Record Dunk event.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THOSE WHO SET THE STANDARD. PepsiCo salutes its Top Women in Grocery and the positive impact they make on our industry. ® ® ®

©2019 PepsiCo, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This ad contains valuable trademarks owned and used by PepsiCo, Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates to distinguish products and services of outstanding quality.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Caitie Doak

Associate Director, Strategy and Planning, Advantage Marketing Partners

Doak and her team developed exciting in-store programs that created a true point of difference, including dedicated brand ambassador programs that resulted in triple-digit sales lifts. She and her team launched a beauty advisor continuity program that included cutting-edge technology with social and digital aspects that drove category sales. Doak led the way across multiple platforms, incorporating digital tactics and developing an omnichannel approach to experiential events, and also crafted an adult-beverage program that paired food and drinks in an upscale environment.

Stephanie Biasi

Senior National Category Manager, Advantage Solutions

Biasi built a suite of reports using PPI data to address common business questions; the turnkey and customizable solution earned her a Category Manager of the Year award from a client that saw a 33 percent sales lift after shifting its promotional strategy accordingly. Her work managing growth in a challenged channel of trade actualized millions in incremental sales, drove shoppers to a mustbuy multiple and induced trial through variety. Biasi established live office hours for internal partners focused on collaboration, education and sharing best practices; this fostered greater coordination and collaboration across cross-functional teams.


Karen Van Riper District Manager, Advantage Marketing Partners

Managing 27 stores and 120 employees, Van Riper developed an excellent working relationship with store directors and personnel, and coached her team on customer engagement, selling techniques, cooking and food safety, presentation, and proper etiquette. She was able to quickly transition from client-facing situations to effectively managing her team with in-the-moment changes. When Van Riper joined the team, her market was the highest in turnover and lowest in event completion in the division; under her leadership, the market achieved a 15-point improvement, moving it from the lowest in completion and staffing to being within the top three.

Jordan Murray Digital Marketing Manager, Advantage Solutions

Amanda Gordon Client Services Team Lead, Advantage Sales & Marketing/Digital Division-Quiverr

Recently promoted to lead the client services team, Gordon analyzed a client’s vast product list of more than 1,500 SKUs and created, optimized and managed 160 unique Amazon listings across 15 sub-brands, and she led the creation of a new process and implementation thresholds. Her work to protect this brand resulted in 95 percent to 100 percent market share on Amazon, along with fostering the client relationship and acquiring exclusive SKUs, resulting in more than 100 percent revenue growth from April 2018 to January 2019. A high-performing employee, Gordon will continue to grow Quiverr and exceed goals.

Crystal Rossel Senior Director, Client Services, Advantage Solutions

Recognized for her entrepreneurial spirit, Murray was brought on to assist the SVP of innovation to develop and implement a client’s new service offerings; she played a key role in growing retailtainment’s profit by $2.5 million.

Rossel identified several margin-improvement strategies to address the need to react to a constantly evolving retail environment; these strategies delivered incremental sales for her clients and margin improvement to her businesses.

She played an integral role in the launch of the first holiday augmented-reality experience at Walmart, which was designed to create in-store excitement and drive brand awareness.

She saw success in transitioning and onboarding new clients into the Advantage portfolio, and was recently appointed to transition and lead two new strategic relationships.

Murray worked closely with Walmart merchants and the marketing team to develop an omnichannel marketing program called Baby Savings Days during tax-return time, when soon-tobe and current parents make baby-related purchases.

Focusing on client pain points, Rossel led the creation of new business partnerships that delivered $1 million-plus in incremental annual revenue while addressing client business needs, and she implemented best-in-class business scorecarding.


Amanda Albert Account Planner, Advantage Solutions

Albert’s insight helped drive the success of the business and assisted in driving event count in multiple areas, all led by key insights; she played a key role in cross-selling internal services, developing high-visibility events and providing enhanced analytical reporting. She developed a brand-specific ambassador program that drove category and supporting item sales, influenced shopper behavior and led the vendor to deploy a year-long program. Albert coached advisers on deeper engagement strategies, implemented enhanced training methods that increased accountability, and deployed field surveys that provided quantitative and qualitative learnings.

Drew Silaski

Insights and Account Planner II, Advantage Solutions

Silaski received a promotion last fall to include increased responsibilities and influence, both Walmart-facing and across the holistic business. Her work to support the team to win the online grocery business for sampling and customer engagement programming could potentially produce upwards of $10 million over the next year, using research and consumer insights for winning in-store seasonal programs and substantial business and revenue growth. Silaski provided valuable knowledge of research and measurement while assisting in the development of an in-store test for a beauty client that involved extensive planning, communication and marketing tactics.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Jacki Davidson Director of Advertising, Advantage Solutions/Digital Technology

The digital marketing strategies that Davidson’s team developed and executed led to $25 million in sales generated for clients in 2018, increased online sales by 282 percent, and boosted advertising revenue for the company by 146 percent from Q1 to Q3 2018. She helped her team develop full-funnel digital marketing strategies that targeted specific grocery shoppers, from the awareness and consideration phase down to driving loyalty and online subscriptions. Davidson developed new service offerings to help brands become successful in the online grocery channel, including payper-click advertising campaigns.

Ashley Powell

Director of Business Development, Advantage Solutions/Walmart Retailtainment

Powell and her team grew the adult-beverage sampling business by double digits; store count grew by 56 percent, resulting in 33 percent revenue growth, and the program’s success led to its becoming a key pillar for Walmart. She increased Walmart Retailtainment’s business with its largest client by more than 30 percent and the overall category business by 45 percent. Powell encouraged her team to find unique solutions and helped to break down barriers to providing those solutions; for example, she devised a tailored approach to billing for a customer, alleviating a major pain point.


Katie Rigby

Director, Market Research, Advantage Solutions/SMART

Rigby single-handedly managed the event logistics, speaker preparation and overall coordination of the two-day Advantage Insights Summit, managing a very conservative budget and coordinating with vendors, speakers and attendees. Her team ended the 2018 fiscal year overdelivering on both revenue and EBITDA, two core metrics of company success in the organization. Rigby’s leadership, calm countenance and ability to translate client business issues into fulfilled strategies and solutions made her a high-rising star in the organization; she was recognized by Albertsons for her leadership and work in support of its programs.

Taylor Williams

Account Executive, Advantage Solutions/Walmart Retailtainment

Williams optimized timeline efficiency to improve the release dates of her events, ultimately improving overall execution numbers, and continued to aid in the team’s success in not incurring late fees from the Walmart fulfillment team, improving Advantage’s bottom line by more than $2 million. She developed an in-store recipe solution and engaged with shoppers in more than 1,000 stores through a social influencer campaign, achieving nearly 7.8 million media impressions. Williams was chosen to be part of a task force seeking to create a more streamlined process for developing event manuals.

Alisha Pettigrew Gourley Senior Director, Activation, Advantage Solutions/Walmart Retailtainment

Often considered the go-to person for team members to consult on new initiatives and uncharted categories, Gourley was a trusted adviser for operational business needs, including training, communication and service delivery in-store.


Tonya Kissinger Director of Client Services, Advantage Solutions/Walmart Retailtainment

Kissinger was instrumental in helping with the strategic planning of Walmart platforms, developing processes and reducing financial cost for the business.

She worked tirelessly to implement a four-day training program, developing content through business knowledge and engaging subject-matter experts to ensure a comprehensive training platform.

She co-trained and developed new associates to be ready for future career growth, which translated into more than half of the associates’ promotions in the past year; this led her to develop an onboarding process that allowed the client service team to reach optimal performance levels and cut training time in half.

Gourley volunteers as a youth pastor for sixth- through 12th-graders, many of whom have participated in job shadowing at Advantage.

Kissinger partnered with Walmart on a best-in-class food safety process, resulting in improved store audits and compliance ratings.

Ashley Triplett

General Manager, Advantage Solutions/Waypoint

Triplett achieved market goals and exceeded quotas against several major CPG clients, achieving double-digit street growth and high rankings in overall sales growth. She coached, mentored and empowered other women in the company by encouraging them to challenge themselves in their careers, and built a strong network with distribution partners. Triplett surpassed budgeted EBITDA and revenue goals by eliminating unnecessary costs and becoming more efficient with market resources; she also reduced turnover and created a work environment encouraging teamwork, transparency and a fun work ethic.

Annetta Wright

Director of Marketing, Advantage Solutions/Waypoint

Wright led the strategy, development and launch of Waypoint’s third annual national marketing program, designed to grow profitable sales with participating national clients on focused categories through collaboration, cross-merchandising recipes and superior sales execution. She oversaw the development of an integrated marketing program in collaboration with a national beverage client, targeting foodservice operators through innovative beverage recipes. Wright created the strategy and cadence for marketing-to-marketing collaboration with national clients to facilitate more structure, processes and efficiencies.


Dana Ward

Senior Communications Coordinator, Albertsons Cos./ Acme

Ward personified Acme’s pledge to embrace a commitment to make every day a better day for the communities it serves. Successful initiatives she led include the April 2018 Kicking Hunger campaign, the 2018 Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation register campaign, the Thanksgiving food drive and the holiday Fight Hunger campaign. Supporting Acme’s status as “official supermarket of the Philadelphia Eagles,” Ward spearheaded efforts to grow those ties, including fundraising, positive media coverage and social media buzz, and tremendous community goodwill; she also undertook streamlining the company’s local donations.

Karen Brophy

Corporate Human Resources Business Partner, Albertsons Cos./ Corporate

Brophy created the process documents for HR and legal, calculated severances, produced all documentation for exiting employees at all levels of the company, and partnered with accounting and payroll to make sure that millions of dollars were accrued for and paid out correctly. She helped identify and track nearly $1 million in savings across all divisions due to removed liabilities. Brophy revamped the headcount report used by the CEO and the executive staff to create a more visual, succinct report, and she leveraged an HR reorganization to employ previously unavailable reporting resources.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Lissa Wolcott

Associate Relations Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Acme

During the Albertsons-Safeway merger, Wolcott’s in-depth knowledge of labor contracts proved essential in helping the conversion team plan out the appropriate roles for payroll; she subsequently became Acme’s subject-matter expert on payroll and schedule-writing systems.

Robin Alcorn

Danielle Bicomong

Senior Director, Design and Store Planning, Albertsons Cos./ Corporate

Senior Product Manager, Own Brands, Albertsons Cos./Corporate

Alcorn and her team were responsible for the innovative designs of the Broadway Market flagship store that was Progressive Grocer’s January 2019 Store of the Month, as well as the follow-up Market Street store.

Operating with a strategic, growth-driving mindset beyond her primary responsibilities, Bicomong initiated the exploration of Own Brands’ organization-wide participation in the new Albertsons Marketplace ecommerce platform.

She took on the added responsibility of becoming a health and welfare management trustee, taking classes to support that task.

She was a consummate team player, a creative thought leader who was uniquely adept in finding real-world economical solutions to myriad design and store-planning challenges.

She identified the market opportunity for Albertsons Own Brands to reach 123 million people that it can’t reach today due to limitations of existing store locations, and also highlighted differences between store platforms.

Early this year, Wolcott traveled to Bulgaria and Montenegro to help recruit English-speaking students to work in Acme’s shore stores, evaluating their language and customer service skills to ensure superior service to the chain’s customers.

An extremely talented and passionate artist, Alcorn was able to seize on a design concept or challenge and produce amazing and simple solutions, whether a new prototype, a future concept store, remodels and expansions, or a new décor package.

Cathey Jackson Director, ThirdParty Administrator (TPA) Claims, Albertsons Cos./ Corporate

Under Jackson’s direction, pending total incurred claims dollars for the TPA-administered workers’ compensation program and average claim payments were reduced. She took on the additional duties of managing part of the general liability program and implemented policies and procedures expected to improve results in the coming year. Jackson worked closely with the unions in Southern California to adopt a new alternative dispute-resolution program, resulting in a savings of nearly $3 million in 2018; she’s also pursuing a new online claims intake program that has a projected net savings of nearly $900,000.

Balasri Mekala

Senior Manager, Quality Assurance, Albertsons Cos./ Corporate

Mekala led cross-track testing and quality assurance for systems integration between Albertsons and Safeway, spanning all functions, and an in-house test data-management solution that resulted in $160,000 in savings.

Bicomong’s vision-oriented mindset, strategic approach to navigating unfamiliar territory, and strong communication skills resulted in the early evaluation of a platform with immense expansion potential.

Lisa Mirae

Senior Director, Own Brands Marketing and Brand, Albertsons Cos./Corporate

Mirae’s launched seven branded campaigns that delivered stellar sales and volume results, including a lift in total Own Brands sales for O Organics and Open Nature.

She headed test automation initiatives that resulted in 189 person-days savings in nine months; savings continue to grow as automation allows for the reduction of the rollout time required for future plants, stores and divisions.

She was promoted to senior director, overseeing brand development and packaging, and managing a team of five direct reports and 25 on-site ad agency designers; her expertise will create synergies, efficiencies and positively impact path-to-purchase shopper experiences.

Uniformly respected by her team members and co-workers, Mekala, a consummate team player, was able to find creative ways to deliver quality IT projects despite constraints.

Mirae developed three-year communication road maps showing growth opportunities and driving a massive lift in sales via local influencers, promotions and in-store displays.




Julie Nguyen

Director, Pharmacy Integration, Albertsons Cos./ Corporate


Lisa Manzoline! Reynolds Consumer Products extends our congratulations for being named one of the 2019 Top Women in Grocery winners! We are proud to have you as a part of our team.

Nguyen established a reputation for expert project management and expanded her current role of leading pharmacy system conversions. When the company made a last-minute decision to add 350 conversions to the current schedule to capitalize on significant cost savings, she doubled her training team and successfully converted all pharmacies before the deadline. Nguyen trained her teams to become subject-matter experts and regularly expand their job skills; her team built a robust curriculum to train all pharmacy associates, district-level managers and pharmacy leadership on the new management system.

Maria Robles











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Senior Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Corporate


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Director, Reynolds

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Thank you for your leadership and your passion for doing what is right for consumers and customers every day.

Robles led the development of a key strategic promotion-planning application called APEX, delivering on a challenge to build and roll out the application to all divisions within one year. She headed a transformation of people, processes and technology, leading her team to pilot the application into a division after only seven months of development; rollout across all divisions was completed successfully by October 2018. Robles’ delivery of the application laid a key foundation for merchandising transformation at Albertsons; she has subsequently been tapped to spearhead a high-visibility transformation initiative for promotion and vendor advance analytics.

© 2019 Reynolds Consumer Products LLC

Sally Robinson

Senior Manager, Data GovernanceFresh, Albertsons Cos./Corporate

Recognized as an expert in both national and divisional circles, Robinson’s knowledge in her area of expertise is unrivaled in the company, spanning all of the departments under her responsibility. She was integral in the development of a new process and software to enable compliance with the new federal menu-labeling laws, and her expertise was instrumental in meeting compliance deadlines. Robinson worked countless hours early mornings, nights and weekends to strive for perfect data to support stores, quickly determining when a real business need required a different course of action.

Vicki Sell

Senior Director, Human ResourcesSupply Chain, Albertsons Cos./ Corporate

Sell led all human resources activities related to a transfer of ownership of the distribution center in Denver, Pa., from Supervalu to Albertsons in October 2018. She helped orchestrate a seamless transition of 650 employees from the Tempe, Ariz., distribution center to the Tolleson, Ariz., center, without one employee being laid off. Sell guided the development of a recruiting, development and retention playbook to be rolled out network-wide to share best practices, introduce new recruiting tactics, and overall drive retention and turnover metric improvements, bringing a dramatic enhancement in open positions in many key roles.


Erin Shaal

Group Director, Specialty Pharmacy, Albertsons Cos./ Corporate

Shaal led the specialty pharmacy team in fulfilling three primary objectives: acquire URAC accreditation, standardize operations and grow top-line sales. Her background in operations and employee development served her well as she optimized and standardized operations, improved scriptsper-hour processed, reduced turnaround time and boosted customer service scores. Shaal’s team received the highest net promoter score of any specialty pharmacy from Sullivan-Luallin, which issues standardized satisfaction surveys at specialty pharmacies; she also belongs to the National Association of Specialty Pharmacies.

Tracie Wilson

Manager, Payment Services (PSC), Albertsons Cos./ Corporate

Wilson played a critical role as the subject-matter expert to migrate current ACH processes to a new processor, working across internal and external IT/point-of-sale resources.

Mei-Mei Stark Director, Product Management, Albertsons Cos./ Corporate

Stark’s outstanding leadership set the standard, template and expectations for all Own Brands directors, and she’s now training all directors on preparation for future Shopper 360s. Her presentations include category overview and insights, household data, new-item performance, new-item pipelines, distribution opportunities, profit contribution trends and forecasted three-year compound annual growth rate, serving as a template for other product management directors on the team.


POLLY John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc. is proud to recognize Polly and all the women at JBSS who bring our core values to life every day.

Stark was recognized in 2018 for new-item development and retail execution regarding the expansion of Own Brands penetration in the yogurt and ice cream categories.

Nikki Price

Pharmacy Director, Albertsons Cos./ Denver Division

Tasked with identifying areas where the company could grow pharmacy sales and store traffic, Price aggressively pursued nonconventional partners that would support both short- and long-term objectives.

She conducted quality assurance/API testing and certification and provided training and document requirements to deliver standard operating procedures for call center and collection activities, resulting in improved year-over-year figures.

She was heavily involved in maintaining a partnership with pharmacy schools, helping to grow the company’s internship program and developing a strong pool for future pharmacist needs within the division.

Wilson was recognized last year by the company for her efforts in supporting store conversions over the past three years; despite a busy schedule, she also donates personal time to the anti-hunger organization Feed My Starving Children.

Price has represented the grocery industry in the Colorado State Legislature as a subject-matter expert on health care initiatives, and she helped identify four acquisitions in her division that have added sales, customers and profits.

POLLY ROWLAND Senior Director of Sales at John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Kelly Boyd

Director of Marketing, Albertsons Cos./ Eastern Division

Boyd grew the Safeway brand in a highly competitive market via print and digital media, including an industry-leading apple-to-zucchini produce branding program that garnered national press attention and more than 100,000 hits on the Safeway website; this effort increased brand awareness and customer trust. She also developed a bestin-class planning program that keeps ad agents and sales managers planned far enough out to drive sales. Boyd worked with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens on an innovative program that reaches 60,000 fans using fun games, new-product demos, sampling and overall creative marketing.

Kim Kilcoyne

Floral Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Kilcoyne developed and rolled out the Jewel-Osco branded wedding program, which was enthusiastically received by customers and boosted the banner’s floral department wedding sales by 25 percent from last year, or $200,000. She also implemented the Hello, My Name Is initiative to educate customers and associates alike on new varieties of floral products. An exclusive program that Kilcoyne developed for Jewel-Osco’s outdoor garden centers brings the indoors outside through one-of-a-kind succulent offerings in whimsical wine-bottle and watering-can planters.


Michelle Steele Service Deli Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Intermountain Division

Amber Graefen Digital Marketing Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Steele oversaw company-leading sales performance in all areas of her responsibility, driving results through her vision, passion and strong leadership.

Graefen successfully launched a flash-sale program that helped grab quick sales — 75 percent in item movement — and the Word of the Day program, which has been copied across all divisions.

She renovated meal solution product and promotion throughout the division, including the rollout of store-made sushi, meal solution line extensions, the introduction of innovative offerings, and the rollout of Plated meal kits; she also partnered with vendors to expand meat and cheese offerings.

She developed programs that generated more than $150,000 in revenue for digital space using Jewel-Osco’s social channels, and she has been highly sought after by other departments to grow their respective benches, on account of her wealth of knowledge both in-store and at the corporate level.

Steele established an employee recognition program for instore Starbucks baristas to build the team’s customer service skills and leadership competencies.

An excellent planner who has demonstrated her willingness to learn, Graefen played an essential role within the marketing and merchandising team.

Sarah Stolz

Pharmacy Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Stolz led her team to be the division’s No. 1 flu vaccination store, and staffed and organized 33 off-site flu clinics at businesses and senior facilities, establishing 19 new clinics. She also took on an additional operations project, with management of deadstock and overstock for the pharmacies in Districts 3 and 4. Always growing her prescription business and increasing sales through community outreach and nursing facilities, Stolz returned a second time to Chamberlin University College of Nursing to immunize students, this time at all three of the school’s Illinois campuses.

Mary Frances Trucco

Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco


Amy Jankauskis Service Deli Assistant Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Jankauskis led her team through a complete system conversion, a drastic change from the previous system that impacted many of the job functions and tasks in the office, warehouse and stores, ensuring a smooth transition for the stores and customers. She compiled a complete database for all store-made products, including build sheets, vendor ingredient declarations and nutritional information. Jankauskis worked with suppliers, corporate chefs and regulatory departments to ensure that store-made products are of consistent quality and are traceable if any quality or food safety issues arise.

Sandy Vox

Assistant Sales Manager, Total Alcohol Beverage, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

The company’s communications manager, Trucco took on the additional role of director of public affairs and government relations in 2018.

Vox collaborated with a local craft brewery on a small-batch beer, Frunchroom IPA, which was sold in Jewel-Osco stores, generating about $5,000 in sales.

Her decision to move to PIN pad campaigns has more than doubled the funds collected for charities such as the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, Susan G. Komen and Hunger Is, and she has also partnered with several new nonprofits.

She was sought out by a master cicerone in Canada to consult on the development of a retail beer program at a grocery store chain in that country, and volunteered her time to provide insights on industry standards, policies and practices.

Trucco is a tireless advocate for the retail industry, lobbying Illinois lawmakers on behalf of Jewel-Osco in regard to legislation on such issues as restrictive scheduling and the minimum wage.

Vox is currently developing a “planogram for the future” that will introduce more than 200 new beer items to the department, among them several first-to-market items.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Wendy Gutshall

Director, Public and Government Affairs, Albertsons Cos./ Northern California Division

With her public affairs specialist, Gutshall coordinated the division’s fundraising and charitable-giving efforts, resulting in the division’s contribution of more than $25 million in food and financial support to the communities it serves. Thanks to a tremendous amount of communication, partnership and coordination with a long list of community-based organizations that she handles, she is “the face of Safeway” for many of these groups. The division’s leadership relies on Gutshall’s judgment on how best to navigate concerns raised by city officials and regulators about store operations, to ensure successful outcomes.

Eureka McCrae District Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Seattle Division

As a newly promoted district manager, McCrae finished her senior year of college and earned her bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2019. In 2018, her district was No. 1 in the Seattle division in identical-store sales, lowest total shrink percentage, and raising funds to fight hunger and cancer. McCrae co-chairs Albertsons’ Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network, helping to provide professional opportunities for women; is a member of the company’s Culture Council, a group of leaders working to reshape the culture from within; and takes part in the Albertsons Cos. University workshop on key company initiatives.


Elsie Wolfe

Liquor Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Safeway Northern California Division

Wolfe took Safeway’s Beverage Steward sales program, a proactive sales initiative to have employees who aid and educate shoppers in beverage alcohol purchases, to the next level, nearly doubling the number of beverage stewards in Northern California and expanding the program to Hawaii. Leveraging her relationships with local vintners, she expanded Safeway’s wine assortment to include unique and limited-release wines, boutique selections, and winery-only treasures. Thanks to her efforts, coupled with a great overall shopping experience, Safeway received the 2018 Retailer of the Year award from Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Jodie Reardon

Procurement Manager, Produce, Albertsons Cos./ Shaw’s

While training a floral buyer, Reardon was instrumental in implementing a new store-order process, which has since been rolled out throughout the enterprise.

Becca Lind

Assistant Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Seattle Division

Lind developed business intelligence tools that have improved the way that the company does business, not only in the Seattle division, but also in all 14 Albertsons divisions. After adjusting the tools for use by all divisions, she then traveled the country training each division on how to employ them to their full potential and realize the resulting time savings, sales and profit increases, and continued to provide help with any questions or issues. Awarded for extraordinary process improvement by the division president, Lind is also co-chair of the Seattle chapter of Albertsons’ Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network.

Miriam Welch

Grocery Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Southern California Division

Welch led merchandising development and execution of the 13-week GameON! consumer program, driving accretive positive sales and tonnage for the division and its vendor partners.


Stephanie Kennedy

Center Store Operations Specialist, Albertsons Cos./ Seattle Division

Kennedy participated in a service council project to create a universal service strategy and brand across all company banners, which rolled out company-wide in Q3 2018. Working cooperatively with her peers in Alaska, she was instrumental in developing a plan that reduced store out-of-stocks to help drive additional sales and satisfy customer needs; the area has since been recognized repeatedly as the top one or two in the division on this measurement. Kennedy helped significantly improve several stores’ sales throughout the state via improved conditions, retail execution and out-of-stock reductions.

Ashley Canonica Marketing Director, Albertsons Cos./ Southern Division

Canonica developed a weekly radio strategy with higher total division coverage and weekly or daily flexibility on messaging, while reducing the four-week cost by 75 percent.

Thanks to her careful coaching and inspirational leadership, overall buyer distress declined by 83 percent from Q2 to Q3, while service levels exceeded 99 percent for promotional support and 97 percent overall for the produce department, surpassing targets and improving the division’s bottom line.

She re-engineered the division’s FAB5! multicategory basket-building promotional vehicle to include variable discounts, thereby allowing more categories to be included, driving better customer participation and making the program harder to be competitively duplicated.

For the weekly store sign program, she worked across the departments to reduce weekly cost by 40 percent and decrease the number of signs sent to the stores weekly, resulting in cleaner, less cluttered stores with meaningful promotional messages displayed; this led to higher engagement and sales.

A champion of diversity in respect to the development of women, Reardon worked closely with her buyers to improve their opportunities for advancement.

Welch worked with operations specialists to remap stores’ promotional space, and also collaborated to make the resulting plans simpler to execute.

Canonica devised a total store sign package keying in on Albertsons’ points of difference and elevating the focus on fresh and private brands.

Bringing Goodness o 1894



2019 Top Women in Grocery Jaime Estes

Director of Food Safety, Albertsons Cos./Southern Division

Estes increased her division’s overall food safety compliance by 7 percent, resulting in a 97 percent passing rate for all of the stores in the division. She implemented improvement programs for the lowest-performing department, among them daily store checks and a department cleaning list, resulting in a total division percentage increase of passing stores in food safety by 12 percent. Estes is the only retail industry member, serving with state and local regulatory agency representatives, on the state board of the Texas Environmental Health Association, helping influence legislation within the state.

Jody McGinley Retail Integrity Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Southern Division

Nancy Klenow

Bakery Operations Specialist, Albertsons Cos./ Southwest Division

As the division expert for a major warehouse conversion, McGinley developed processes to ensure that the project was completed with minimal impact to customers and stores.

In April 2018, Klenow won Store Director of the Year for District 4; her achievements included leading the division in total nonperishable, grocery and dairy inventory reduction in Q1.

While identifying and correcting conversion-related issues in her own division, she researched the issues for the also-affected Denver and Jewel-Osco divisions, so the conversion team could have the solutions before problems occurred there.

Still new to her current position Nancy took over the responsibilities of the center store operations specialist while he was on leave, making a lifetime friend in the process.

Also, the Houston division’s stores were rolled into the Southern division, requiring McGinley’s aid with moves that had to be completed to enable staffers to work efficiently and accurately.

Klenow created a process – since implemented across the entire division – that reduced out-of-stocks, eliminated pallets of discontinued product hitting back rooms and helped recover as much revenue as possible on PRC-eligible product.


Anita Boger

Senior Manager, Human Resources, Albertsons Cos./ Supply Chain OperationsManufacturing

Boger and her team were critical in getting a newly acquired plant fully staffed so it could be operational within a short time to manufacture and deliver product to Albertsons customers. She led the creation of Manufacturing’s All Together Action Plan and Toolkit, which rolled out at each manufacturing plant and corporate campus, providing plant managers with a document containing ideas, trainings and team-building ideas. Boger collaborated with other HR supply-chain team members on a year-long training plan to reduce employee turnover and lift retention and engagement.



2019 Top Women in Grocery

Clarissa Sanchez

Michelle Ryan

Community Relations Coordinator, Albertsons Cos./ United

Sanchez took on the challenge of leading the Jacky Pierce Charity Classic golf tournament, which raises funds for 28 United Way agencies across United’s trade area; under her management, the 2018 event raised $469,000, the highest amount ever, and the event had 190 sponsors, 15 more than last year. As coordinator of community engagement, she effectively managed the distribution of more than $2 million in community donations. Sanchez successfully bridged the gap when her department was short-staffed because of personnel transitions.

Business Unit Director, Allegro Sales & Marketing

Ryan helped Beiersdorf, maker of the world-famous Nivea skin care brand, gain its best-ever market share in Ireland, at 24.8 percent, against such stiff competition as Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Unilever, all of which have offices in Ireland and much larger budgets. Her efforts led to Beiersdorf’s receiving the coveted Checkout award for Nonfood Supplier of the Year, beating out the likes of Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser, and Unilever. Ryan served as a key catalyst in supplying Nivea Sun to Irish homeless charities during the country’s extremely hot summer of 2018.

Carrie Taylor

Kristy Houston

Lead Registered Dietitian, Big Y Foods Inc.

In collaboration with Big Y’s pharmacy team, Taylor developed and led a Diabetes Meal Management workshop for employees as part of a six-week pilot. For the #BigYLocalLove media campaign, she provided an inside look at the history and dayto-day operations of spotlighted local manufacturers with her partner, registered dietitian nutritionist Andrea Luttrell, and the social media and sales teams. Taylor’s studies at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health inspired her to intoduce such innovative wellness initiatives as a well-received guided-meditation and yogic-breathing Lunch & Learn event for employees.

Director, Public Relations, Social Media and Community Relations, BJ’s Wholesale Club

Houston served as a trusted counselor for senior leaders at the company on issues ranging from social media innovation to crisis management. Under her leadership, the company saw a 50 percent yearover-year increase in 2018 media coverage, with 14,000-plus placements and 25 billion-plus impressions. Houston designed BJ’s largest-ever influencer program, with a 2.23 percent engagement rate on influencers’ channels, and led a measurement study showing that BJ’s members who viewed influencer content spent more and visited the club more often.







congratulations to the winners. TWINLAB CONSOLIDATION CORPORATION

each of you move the industry into the right direction.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Karissa Atwood

Senior ManagerSupply Chain/Trade Relations, C&S Wholesale Grocers

With various strategic partners, Atwood built a robust business-continuity plan allowing more products to get to stores when they’re needed, before and during events that cause supply-chain disruptions. She implemented the plan for Hurricanes Michael and Florence, driving a positive impact to service of 5 percent and reducing recovery by up to two weeks. Atwood worked with external manufacturers and internal business partners to build and execute a new receiving process, which is significantly reducing dwell times at C&S warehouses for carriers and enabling manufacturers to streamline their supply-chain networks.

Shannon Kennedy

Senior Merchandising Analyst, C&S Wholesale Grocers

Over a six-month period, Kennedy guided six employees to promotions in five different internal departments. The growth experienced by C&S required her to expand her team’s footprint, bringing in more new associates; the cross-training and structure she subsequently put in place allowed team members to adjust easily when changes in personnel occurred. Kennedy saw great success with customer improvement initiatives and startups, collaborating with many high-level retailers, and instituting best-in-class processes and upgrades within the workflows that exist between the organizations.


Kim DeGrosky

Military Associate Merchandising Analyst, C&S Wholesale Grocers

DeGrosky played a key role in successfully onboarding a secondary-supplier program with the government, redesigning many legacy standard operating procedures by leveraging the relationships she’s built with C&S’ IT and supply-chain trade relations teams. She was responsible for the design of the company’s residual inventory processes with procurement, which were instrumental in lowering unsaleable inventory. DeGrosky was highly influential in various key startup initiatives, taking the lead on many workflows that positively influenced employees as well as new customers coming into the C&S network, and paving the way for future successes.

Kelly Lauzonis

Senior Account Executive, C&S Wholesale Grocers

When a new pricing/auditing system was put in place, Lauzonis used her formidable accounting skills to decipher, write and communicate a new standard operating procedure that users could readily understand and follow. Going above and beyond the call of duty, she remained “on call” 24/7 to help maintain the highest customer service levels. Working tirelessly before and after Hurricane Michael struck, Lauzonis was an integral part of pre-planning and post-recovery efforts in C&S’ Southeast network, facilitating its swift recovery and delivery of product to Florida food stores affected by the devastating storm.

Jessica Garabrant

Senior Merchandising Analyst, C&S Wholesale Grocers

Garabrant’s team surpassed sales targets and drove higher funding for retailers while outpacing financial thresholds for company objectives. She focused on the expansion of national programming for all regions of independents, and delivered strong results through strategic thinking, strategy development and streamlined program execution. Working with brokers, vendors and the IT department, Garabrant led merchandising process-improvement initiatives resulting in the development and application of new features and tools that drastically reduced labor needs while increasing the efficiency and accuracy of merchandising execution.

Judith McIntyre

Manager-Instructor, Fresh Procurement High-Performance Coaching, C&S Wholesale Grocers

McIntyre sponsored a conference on the latest industry trends across the fresh categories, with all of the employee-led presentations accomplished under her mentoring and leadership. She led several initiatives that strategically targeted better service performance, inventory performance and supply-chain efficiency by using C&S’ online tools and buying systems, achieving a 20 percent overall efficiency improvement across fresh procurement. As a result of her efforts to enhance the overall employee experience across fresh procurement, year-over-year employee retention rose substantially.


Briana Hennigar

Senior AnalystSupply Chain/Trade Relations, C&S Wholesale Grocers

Hennigar created a best-in-class process for managing the C&S Southwest network’s inbound freight; the process resulted in a reduction in overhead, transportation and storage costs, while also removing trucks from the road and maintaining a high level of service to customers. In her current role as senior analyst-supply chain/trade relations, she has implemented such changes as the introduction of value scorecards that track earnings and cost avoidances, and that are shared with manufacturer partners. Hennigar helped lead a project team focused on bringing newly acquired business Olean Wholesale Grocers into the C&S family of companies.

Meghan Reilly Project Manager, C&S Wholesale Grocers

Reilly led the rollout of a cutting-edge transportation visibility tool across C&S’ transportation, customer service and procurement departments, which has vastly improved efficiency. She was also instrumental in change management and the adoption rate of the tool for the transportation and customer service teams and carriers, resulting in a 65 percent reduction in internal customer service calls to dispatch for shipment estimated-time-of-arrival updates. Reilly’s hard work and dedication have led transportation, procurement and solutions to provide timely, accurate information, saving an estimated 30 to 60 minutes per day per person.


2019 Top Women in Grocery MaryAnn Salisbury

Team Manager of Sourcing, C&S Wholesale Grocers

Salisbury helped develop two team members who furthered their careers with new roles within the organization, following the advancement of other staffers into key contributor roles. She led the development of design specifications for a bestin-class online real-time trading platform; through these enhancements, more than 70 suppliers can submit thousands of trading opportunities daily for the procurement and merchandising teams responsible for inventory, service and gross profit. Salisbury volunteered and was recognized for her participation in a local project for Kaboom!, a nonprofit dedicated to building playgrounds for kids.

Ashley Saylor

Sales ManagerEastern Canada, Club Demonstration Services (CDS) Canada

Saylor completely reinvented the road show program at Costco Canada; through efficient vendor planning sessions and more concise field communications and expectations, as well as improved tracking and follow-up tools, she developed a product that ably represents the CDS brand and values. Following the program’s rollout, multiple vendors increased their number of rotations with CDS, and Costco management and buyers lauded her timely follow-up and proactive mindset. At a Canadian town hall meeting, Saylor was recognized by the operations team as a true partner and game-changer for the sales team.


Holly Sydorowich

Manager, Corporate Demand Planning, C&S Wholesale Grocers

Sydorowich led the testing, reworking and implementation of such process improvements as a new forecasting tool, modifications to legacy tools and models, changes to C&S’ promotional communication systems, and the sharing of best practices with corporate demand-planning associates. Her actions led to a more dynamic team actively engaging in process improvement by leveraging more minds to drive sustained superior results. Sydorowich ensured that her people had development plans and, because of her work in this regard, 50 percent of her assigned personnel received promotions based on merit.

Ashley Kibutha

Supermarket Registered Dietitian Team Manager, Coborn’s Inc.

Kibutha guided her direct reports to build strong relationships with vendors that ultimately drove sales and promoted better-for-you options to Coborn’s customers. She helped drive a referral program in which shoppers who filled a diabetes medication at select pharmacy locations would receive a complimentary consultation with one of the chain’s registered dietitians, in addition to fuel rewards tied to the grocer’s loyalty program. Under her leadership, the Coborn’s Wellness Committee became more efficient and active in supporting the health-andwellness goals of employees through such initiatives as a sixweek Winter Wellness Challenge.

Kristen Triba

Director, Customer Solutions, C&S Wholesale Grocers


Denee Fenton Senior Customer Manager, Clif Bar & Co.

Triba undertook a large-scale $5 million capital project to develop a single-customer portal solution, including mobile applications for chain and independent retailers; the implementation of the project will enhance each C&S customer’s experience.

Fenton helped drive an 18 percent growth rate at WinCo Foods with a new permanent Clif Bar rack fixture in the Wall of Values space, new checkstand and selfcheck distribution for various Clif Bar items, and expanded in-line distribution for core items.

She co-leads a workstream including the continued expansion and streamlining of the feedback mechanisms used by C&S and its family of companies; under her leadership, the customer survey process has expanded significantly to track multiple metrics.

She drove solid performance at Albertsons Cos. with expanded Clif Kid and Clif Granola distribution, and improved display execution in the general merchandise/health and beauty care department.

Triba attained her certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP) to further her team’s ability to manage its ever-increasing number of strategic projects.

Abbey Griswold

Senior Shopping Marketing Manager, The Coca-Cola Co.

Griswold led the creation and execution of the Coca-Cola/ Dollar General military program, which was recognized by Dollar General as the best program Coca-Cola has ever brought to the retailer. She developed the Coca-Cola/ Dollar General holiday program, introducing an exclusive campaign to bring the iconic Coca-Cola holiday polar bear to the retailer; the program successfully differentiated Dollar General in the marketplace and drove 20-ounce sales. Griswold created and launched a 52-week Coca-Cola/Dollar General Snack and Go Happy platform, and drove beverage category growth by enhancing marketing plans with key brands.

Fenton serves on the City of Hope Pacific Northwest board, dedicating countless hours to organizing fundraising events to aid cancer research and new treatment methods.

Holley Hunter

Senior National Account Executive, Southeastern Grocers, The Coca-Cola Co.

When Southeastern Grocers shuttered 100-plus stores and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, instead of being defeated by the resulting hurdles, Hunter delivered a plan that overdelivered on expectations. She led a strategic start-to-end approach including routines and timelines for the 2019 planning process, making it simpler for the core and cross-functional teams and the bottling system. Faced with a funding gap for the fall football program, Hunter influenced bottlers to use savings from Vestcom tags as an investment source, ultimately delivering an incremental 120,000 cases of sparkling and still beverages in two weeks.

We are proud to honor our Top Women in Grocery 2019 And we applaud the women across our industry who are leading the way.

Stefani Hernandez Senior Account Executive

Brooke Hoskinson Account Executive

Robyn Loughran

Jane McCloy

Jaimie McIntyre

Senior Marketing Manager

Senior Account Executive

Senior Customer

Shannon Meglio

Anna Ricelli

Brandice Rosander

Kelly Wittry

Omni Innovation Leader

Account Executive

Senior Account Executive

Team Leader


2019 Top Women in Grocery Tracy Nickerson Senior Category Strategic Advisory Manager, The Coca-Cola Co.

Nickerson led the first-ever Defense Commissary Agency headquarters-initiated reset for the sparkling soft drink and New Age beverage warm sets across 179 stores, covering 22 bottlers. She conducted an inaugural traditional category management discussion with Costco Business Centers on assortment, which identified several opportunities for competitive and Coca-Cola items; Costco has subsequently committed to sharing more location information to continue the category assortment conversation at a market level. Nickerson crafted a opportunity assessment model to take a fact-based, structured approach to efficiently prioritizing work.

Jill Crimmins

Director, Customer Development, Coca-Cola Consolidated

Crimmins helped her portfolio of three significant customers – Lidl, Defense Commissary Agency and Aldi – achieve total revenue growth of 6.2 percent over the prior year. She coordinated a military-specific price package plan to increase revenue and market share while also providing cost savings for service members and their families. Crimmins collaborated with Coca-Cola North America and her bottler counterparts on the testing of immediate-consumption Coca-Cola product availability at Aldi; in 2019, these incremental coolers are predicted to generate additional revenue in the millions for both Consolidated and the Coca-Cola system.


Nikki Tate

Senior Shopper Marketing Manager, The Coca-Cola Co.

Margie Boyar

Customer Development Director, Coca-Cola Consolidated

Tate leveraged the success of Diet Coke’s first exclusively digital campaign for Publix Super Markets in 2016 to introduce an omnichannel activation supporting the relaunch of Diet Coke’s new flavors in 2018, pairing Diet Coke flavors with Publix Aprons recipes on in-store messaging.

Overseeing the budget for 119 Ingles Markets locations and 10 of the chain’s Sav-Mor stores in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, Boyar grew positive share growth in almost every beverage category while maintaining her customer’s margin requirements.

She secured Publix as a marquee partner for Coca-Cola Kitchen activations at jointly sponsored events; based on the success of this activation, she committed the retailer to five Coca-Cola Kitchen activations this year.

In collaboration with the space management team and Ingles, she implemented a spaceto-sales program, allowing Coca-Cola Consolidated to increase sales per square foot and optimize on consumers’ brand preferences, based on geographies.

Thanks to Tate’s stellar efforts, Coca-Cola’s Publix team overdelivered on all measures of its aggressive 2018 plan.

Brandy Harris

Director, Consumer Development II, Coca-Cola Consolidated

During a challenging year, Harris delivered strong results by developing value-added in-store programs leveraging Coca-Cola’s exclusive asset partnerships with the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Motor Speedway, among others.

Boyar supports local food pantries and an area homeless center in Anderson, S.C.

Camille Thompson

Senior Director, Walmart Customer Management, Coca-Cola Consolidated

Identifying a gap within distribution across the Monster multipack portfolio, Thompson got two new items added to the product portfolio; these items received 93 percent modular distribution each, spanning the entire territory within Walmart.

She supported the Kentucky community while also prioritizing Kroger’s local efforts, including donations to a food bank on behalf of the grocer’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative.

With the Walmart buyer, she created a successful test for an 8-pack of mini cans, the first of many on which Walmart and Consolidated have collaborated.

Harris worked with cross-functional teams to develop unique opportunities for incremental sales and exclusive offerings for Kroger shoppers, successfully selling in three custom retailer-exclusive beverage packages.

Thompson pioneered preloaded orders across Walmart’s largest initiatives within Consolidated’s portfolio, testing processes, executing ideas and stewarding this fundamental change with Consolidated’s operators.


Melissa Covert Field Director of Customer Management, Coca-Cola Consolidated

Covert drove tremendous results at Walmart, where she surpassed revenue and volume targets by millions of dollars and 275,000 cases versus the prior year. She created an account manager trade-visit template used for training, coaching and action planning by the Walmart account management team and the Coca-Cola sales operation field teams. Covert collaborated with marketing, revenue management and supply chain partners to elevate national/local programming, driving incremental revenue and volume in such categories as RTD coffee/tea, sparkling beverages, sports drinks and juice.

Stephanie Clark Director of Client Operations, Crossmark

Clark partnered with two other directors to implement a popular monthly team-builder program that has helped instill a positive company culture and increase employee morale. She identified various ways to improve the field support role that would result in higher job satisfaction and retention, with all improvements made at no additional net cost to Crossmark. Clark managed her monthly profit and loss to ensure proper allocations and continuous cost-saving measures were taking place; as a result of her diligence in managing vendors’ contracts and in timely fulfillment of all financial obligations, she came in under her 2018 budget by $200,000.


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2019 Top Women in Grocery Beth Faught

Director of Retail, Crossmark

Faught collaborated with Crossmark’s business insights team to automate a centralized scorecard for Kimberly-Clark, which enabled smarter, faster decisions to be made concerning retail deployment.

Trade Manager, Crossmark

As Crossmark’s first-ever employee to hold the sales operations manager role in financial analysis, Mattine determined the job’s parameters and laid the groundwork for a new value-added service offering for the company’s clients.

She optimized Kimberly-Clark retail coverage to ensure the highest return on investment possible, leveraging syndicated scan data, retailer-specific ointof-sale data, and IRI shopper insights for the best spend of retail budget dollars.

She developed several tools that simplified clients’ processes and communication, updating and modifying profit-and-loss and return-on-investment templates to create easier-to-use, more accurate tools.

Faught’s team received the Crossmark President’s Award for delivering the highest top-line revenue growth for the month, in recognition of efforts on behalf of a new cosmetic client opportunity at an emerging retailer.

After her promotion to trade manager, Mattine, working closely with cross-functional teams, exceeded the performance metrics of each client and reduced the deduction balance by up to 40 percent for some clients.

Charity Kobrzycki

Senior Manager, Insights and Tool Creation, Daymon

Kobrzycki developed and executed Daymon’s inaugural consumer-driven category prioritization process at top-tier retailers in support of their strategic growth plans for private brand. She co-developed two private-brand intelligence reports, revealing proprietary insights that led to higher levels of engagement with clients, as well as new media exposure to drive visibility. Kobrzycki led Daymon’s company-wide program for its 90-plus analytically focused employees that provides training and sharing of new tools, processes, templates and wins; the engagement across accounts and departments elevated organizational analytical capabilities.


Susan Mattine

Lindsey Lombard

Marketing Director, Daymon

Lombard was instrumental in building the team that manages a portfolio of more than 3,000 items currently undergoing a redesign; through improved process and communication, she revamped the new-item development critical path, which resulted in items getting to shelf 2.5 months faster. She helped develop the first ambassador program at Harris Teeter, which invites associates to sample items and provides them with the knowledge to advocate for these items in-store. Lombard’s dedication to her team was central to her servant-leadership style, and she acted as a mentor to other like-minded industry professionals and students.

Kallie Millar

Dedicated Retail Team Lead, Crossmark

To address Perfetti Van Melle’s concerns regarding out-of-stocks in its top front end items at Walmart, Millar developed a successful multipronged approach that included a variable-coverage model based on such analytics as store-level sales and consumer panel data.


Bridget Grabowski

Senior Director, Procurement and Vendor Relations, Davidson Specialty Foods

Grabowski not only exceeded her own department’s gross-profit goals through the creation of innovative programs and the execution of best-inclass processes, but she also assisted the sales organization as Davidson grew in new territories.

Her initiative to reduce her team’s reliance on paper converted legacy processes using paper into electronic processes allowing for immediate capture of data; the initiative lowered costs by 9 percent.

She designed and implemented the Davidson Difference, a vendor initiative that, through enhanced reporting and exchanges of data, provided supply chain efficiencies for vendor partners.

In collaboration with an analyst, Millar set out to overhaul her team’s reporting system, refreshing old dashboards and introducing new reporting for all levels of the team.

Grabowski led in executing new business startups, expanding sales by more than 40 percent; to help support company growth, her department added thousands of vendors.

Katharine Murray

Manager, Retail Transformation Group, Daymon

Murray developed Daymon’s first emerging-format spotlight series, which identifies trends and outlines implications of these new formats to inform retail and private-brand strategies, leading to higher levels of engagement with clients. To extend Daymon’s value as a retail consultant, she created a customized Wonder Tour for a prominent North American retailer to guide strategic planning related to new store formats and category transformation. As part of strategic planning to combat a new competitor, Murray conducted a comprehensive audit and retailer assessment to equip the retailer with insights, confidence and important context as it considered scenarios.

Christine Frey

Financial Manager Overseas, Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA)

Frey kicked off a standardized sustainability program in a pilot store; the model program will serve as the mold for DeCA facilities in Europe and the Pacific. To increase visibility of consumption of items, provide a platform for better forecasting, and improve accountability and internal control, she moved bill paying through credit cards in the Pacific to a standardized system. By working with local personnel service providers, unions and mission-support leadership, Frey outlined and developed a manpower strategy to reduce misalignments created by host-nation noncompliance, which resulted in a streamlined operational structure.


SAVE THE DATE NOVEMBER 6 - 7, 2019 HYATT REGENCY GRAND CYPRESS ORLANDO, FL Progressive Grocer will honor the 2019 Top Women in Grocery winners with our signature awards gala. The event will include a daytime Leadership Development Program, cocktail reception, dinner, awards presentations and more!

To sponsor, please contact Jennifer Litterick at





2019 Top Women in Grocery Jennifer Brown

Cynthia Brazzel

Category Manager, Food Lion

Brown grew cookie/cracker sales by 5 percent, reversing a negative trend after only one year in the role, and, with her team, grew units by 5 percent and margin by 50 basis points over the previous year. She led a major project that consisted of the conversion of 45 items from a break-pack facility and transferring the items to the distribution center Brown collaborated with the iconic Dewey’s Bakery, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., to develop items to be sold exclusively at Food Lion to provide locally relevant product for customers; outside of work, she volunteers at Rowan Helping Ministries, a feeding agency in Salisbury, N.C.

Director, Member Relations and Advocacy for the Western Region, Food Marketing Institute (FMI)

Brazzel worked with the Western Association of Food Chains to advance the Retail Management Certificate Program beyond the 16 western states originally covered by the initiative, helping to add 176 employees from East Coast member companies. She helped add two institutions to an FMI program that helps educate and recruit future employees for the grocery industry and allows university faculty access to FMI resources. To raise interest and awareness, Brazzel highlighted university members through digital media such as the FMI blog.

Lauren Peterson Trade Director, General Mills

As sales director for General Mills’ U.S. yogurt business, Peterson drove company yogurt growth over the past two years, with national responsibility for in-market strategies and execution. She was instrumental in changing the direction of the company’s yogurt business, leading to significant increases in both the top and bottom lines. A member of the yogurt senior leadership team, Peterson led the successful sales launch of Oui yogurt ($100 million in yearone launch), and went on to work on driving double-digit growth in fiscal 2019; additionally, she leads General Mills’ Women in Sales Mentor Circle program.

Valery Ciarimboli

Senior Director, Ecommerce Operations Giant Eagle

Ciarimboli designed, implemented and managed more than 70 Giant Eagle curbside pickup and delivery locations, and was also responsible for rolling out the Scan, Pay and Go service that allows customers to scan an item, pay at a kiosk and leave. Her efforts improved profitability by more than $2 million in less than a year, and she led her team to measure guest opinion at curbside, resulting in an 82 percent satisfaction score. Ciarimboli negotiated deals with and then integrated two separate third-party services companies while building an internal delivery capability.

Congratulations to our honoree

Patricia Wallwork CEO, Milo’s Tea Company and all the winners of Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery

All Natural Fresh Brewed Better For You Beverages

The Nation’s Fastest Growing Refrigerated Tea Brand


Katie Shire

Director, Marketing, CRM and Customer Retention, Giant Eagle

Shire was instrumental in automating the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) process and reducing time to launch from weeks to days – and soon from minutes to real time. She expanded marketing and CRM capabilities with automated shopper journeys and specific one-to-one communication, delivering relevant messages at appropriate times. Shire launched a new marketing platform allowing for dynamic builds and change elements in emails, based on user data and sometimes on user actions; this platform allowed the company to communicate with customers, based on their behavior and buying preferences.

Aubrey Weihaus Logistics Analyst, Giant Eagle

Weihaus took great strides to lower the cost of inbound freight to Giant Eagle’s distribution center; she converted collect lanes to pre-paid, resulting in substantial savings. She right-sized the portfolio of inbound freight lanes that aligned with carrier strength, resulting in an annual net profit increase of $196,000, and also added more lanes for in-bound logistics, netting profit for the department of up to $70,000 while maintaining lead times and service levels. Through partnerships with the merchandising, procurement, accounting and data integrity departments, Weihaus spearheaded the development of an accounting model that presents the true cost of goods, regardless of who pays for the freight.

Jill Sinkhorn

Benefits Director, Giant Eagle

Sinkhorn and her team led a spin-off of the company’s pension plan, resulting in a $2.5 million savings; this move allowed individuals to have direct access to their plans while allowing the company to reduce liability and premiums. She led the acquisition-related benefits integration of 1,000 new associates, and, in other areas, oversaw a restructuring of the disability benefits program, saving $1 million a year, a feat accomplished through careful analysis of absence claims volume and spending. At the same time, Sinkhorn took on the benefits workstream lead position in an HR transformation project, moving from one software program to another.

Felismina Andrade

Director, External Communications and Community Relations, Giant Food

Andrade devised a plan to raise awareness of the Giant Food community via internal newsfeed, and launched the Associate Volunteer program to provide more volunteer opportunities. She led her team in record-breaking fundraising campaigns to combat hunger; with her assistance, Giant Food donated millions of pounds of food, or the equivalent of 90 million meals. Andrade and her team arranged for food bank pop-up stores outside Giant Food stores during the government shutdown; whether raising money to combat childhood cancer or helping the USO, she was there.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Teressa Davidson Front End Specialist, Giant Food

In charge of front end operations for an 18-store district, Davidson assisted in such company-wide initiatives as the standardization of front end procedures for all stores; her district passed 100 percent of total-store and cash-office compliance audits. In 2018, she was responsible for overseeing cash variances at 160 stores; tackled front end shrink in her district, which improved over the prior year, remaining first overall in the company; and revised some front end standards and procedures. Davidson ranked No. 1 in all company donation initiatives, benefiting local food banks and the USO, among others.

Dawn Hurd

Manager, Front End Operations, Giant Food

Hurd’s role overseeing front end operations at 165 Giant Food stores in the Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Delaware; and Virginia markets was created when the company restructured. She worked with the directors of meat/seafood and produce/ floral to ensure that their products scanned correctly on the front end, and put a process in place to ensure corrections; as a result, shrink of non-scans improved by 40 percent during the holidays, contributing to a significant improvement in the brand’s year-end shrink numbers. Hurd was challenged to bring the cash office audit to 90 percent, following two years at 76 percent; she met and surpassed the goal, with 92 percent.


Kim Gibson Front End Specialist, Giant Food

In her role of overseeing front end operations for an 18-store district, Gibson cut over/short in her stores since last year, increased productivity on the front end, reduced total complaints and increased compliments. She pushed her team to solicit donations for the USO, childhood cancer and hunger boxes, and used such creative ways to collect money as flea markets, raffles and jersey/T-shirt days. At work, Gibson promoted front end managers, associates in secondary positions, and assistant front end managers, and prepared several associates for promotion to assistant store manager; at home, she’s a dedicated caregiver to her mother.

Brenda Jones Front End Specialist, Giant Food

With the goal of compliance adherence, Jones, who oversees front end operations at 18 stores in Maryland and the District of Columbia, delivered, for the first time, a perfect audit to the company, meaning that there were no audit failures in her district. To achieve the best audit results in company history, she shared best practices with her front end specialist team; these best practices allowed her to deliver a 50 percent improvement in cash shrink. Jones was selected to teach the “Department Leaders of the Future” class on customer service, and completed a two-year retail management certificate program, earning a 4.0 GPA.

Anne Golding

Director, Finance, Giant Food

During a transitional time for Giant Food, which was rebranding to the Ahold Delhaize USA business model, Golding hired and trained a team, teaching them the importance of margin management and maintaining budget expectations; the team subsequently built a new budget process supporting all departments, and she worked between the budget/finance team and merchandising to continue growth.


Lisa Guinther

Category Manager, Seafood, Giant Food

Responsible for delivering an aggressive seafood budget across 165 stores in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Delaware, Guinther led the department to exceed sales and gross-profit dollar budgets, turning declining volumes into positive sales.

She started a corporate mentoring circle to develop rising stars in the company.

She partnered with a local blue crab supplier to sponsor crab wagon events on summer weekends, achieving record sales at stores, and she also added $5/$10 sales drawing customers to the department.

Golding developed a weekly earnings tracker to communicate the most up-to-date view of financial performance against budget and forecast.

Guinther created a new process to assist new category managers in developing a strategic plan to achieve their budget, known as the Budget Roadmap.

Melissa Lisowski

Category Analyst, Produce and Floral, Giant Food

One of Lisowski’s most important responsibilities as pricing and promotions analyst for produce and floral at 166 stores was in budget oversight, where she handled margin management for both departments. During Giant Food’s restructuring, she developed pricing and promotional plans based on demographics, specific regions, competition and new brand strategies; to bring these areas together for forecasting, she developed financial models that used several entities, including real-time competitive price checks. Lisowski’s creation of an item-level detail margin-management process captured and addressed any cost shifts daily.

Robin Moran

Director, Talent, Diversity and Inclusion, Learning, and Organizational Development, Giant Food

In her new role as director of talent, diversity and inclusion, learning, and organizational development, Moran, aided by her team, created a Peer Partner program and “Day 1” protocol; both were needed because brand restructuring required the hiring of many new associates. Under her guidance, a new business resource group was added to support development of professionals, a Lunch & Learn series will cover needed topics, and tenured employees will attend training in “Leading a Millennial Workforce.” Moran and her team have onboarded almost 100 corporate associates, with low turnover.

Congratulations to Giant Eagle’s 2019

TOP WOMEN IN GROCERY On behalf of our President & CEO Laura Shapira Karet and your 32,000 fellow Team Members, we are very proud of your accomplishments. Your dedication, leadership and talent inspire us.


Valery Ciarimboli

Katie Shire

Jill Sinkhorn

Aubrey Weihaus

Senior Director of eCommerce Operations

Director of Marketing, CRM

Director of Benefits

Logistics Analyst



Heidi Kimble

Jessica Shoben

Senior Store Leader

Senior Dual Store Leader

Ann-Marie Daugherty VP of Logistics

Lora Dikun SVP, Chief Administrative Officer & Chief People Officer


2019 Top Women in Grocery Lisa Richardson Center Store Manager, Merchandising, Giant Food

Richardson ranked No. 1 out of the 10 districts in her division in sales, and also ranked first in the division for controlling the days-on-hand aspect of profit and loss; she beat her budget by 76 basis points, which had a positive trickle-down effect on her bottom line. Her success comes from training and promoting associates: She advanced more than 10 associates in her district. Richardson partnered with a General Mills representative to help feed her stores’ county, beginning in 2015; the partnership has since grown to take in other supermarket departments beyond center store.

April Richardson

Center Store Sales Manager Giant Food Stores

Brand Manager, Loyalty Marketing, Giant Food Stores

Understanding the customer is a primary aspect of Groves’ job: She was instrumental in reducing the use of the manager bonus card at checkout by 64 percent; when customers had to use their own cards, more personalized offers could be sent. When new competition entered the area, she built and executed a local competitive activity strategy that provided customers with richer offers, increased foot traffic and lessened competitive impact. Groves supported the introduction of Delivision, a digital/mobile app that allows customers to place deli orders before coming to the store.

Jamie Lemire

Regional Marketing Manager, Grocery Outlet Bargain Market

Richardson’s district exceeded center store budget financial sales by 2.7 percent and gross profit by 1.6 percent; she developed successful competitive intrusion plans for stores facing new competition.

A seven-year veteran of Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, covering Northern California and Nevada, Lemire assisted in the training of associates, as well as budget and task tracking.

She employed a district contest to improve center store shrink metrics; as a result, the shrink key performance indicator metric improved by 15 percent.

She took on additional tasks to improve new-store performance and processes, and streamlined budget tracking and task tracking to be more efficient and timely; her attention to detail and ability to train others helped Grocery Outlet Bargain Market as it opened 26 new locations in 2018.

Richardson inspired teamwork with district and company push items; results included a 33 percent increase in identical (ID) sales from an own-brand push, a 125 percent increase in ID sales for a direct-store-delivery push and a 34 percent increase in a seasonal-item push.


Jessica Groves

Lemire’s work played a large part in Grocery Outlet’s confidence in its expansion to 30-plus new stores this year.

Stacey Miller

Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager, Giant Food Stores

Managing diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives for Giant Food Stores and its 30,000 associates, Miller drew on her prior role as a training manager for two special projects: a summer internship program and a store management training program. She relaunched the D&I initiative for Giant, in the process developing a business resource group structure and the President’s Inclusion Council. Also responsible for associate engagement, Miller led deployment of the 2018 Associate Engagement Survey, which resulted in a four-point increase in engagement over 2017.

Richele Middlebrooks

Corporate Recruiter, Grocery Outlet Bargain Market

Responsible for all recruiting at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market’s corporate headquarters, Middlebrooks built relationships with hiring managers to fill open positions with qualified candidates. Recognized by LinkedIn’s senior customer success manager as a Global Top Performing Recruiter, she used all social media platforms for recruitment at Grocery Outlet, which shortened the average fill-time to less than 30 days. Middlebrooks also developed a 30/90 follow-up process with new hires to ensure that onboarding assimilation and training met expectations, handling corrections as needed.


Jennifer Price

Fresh Meat Buyer III, Giant Food Stores

New to the role of lead freshmeat buyer in charge of poultry, packaged and smoked meats at more than 170 stores, Price created a fresh-meat buyer training program for new buyers, providing them with a tool to use after training ended. Ahead of the holidays, she held meetings with all participating parties to ensure that turkey and ham inbound/outbound were processed in a timely manner without overwhelming shipping and receiving teams. Price collaborated with the internal team to develop an allocation tool to cover high-demand stores, replacing the blanket allocation system.

Brandie Miller

Grocery Natural, Organic, Specialty and Healthy (NOSH) Buyer, Grocery Outlet Bargain Market

Sourcing new, exciting and top-trending items, Miller has achieved double-digit sales comps for the natural, organic, specialty and healthy (NOSH) department six years in a row, growing its assortment while improving SKU efficiency. Her department represents 16 percent of grocery sales at the company; while the overall grocery department grew 3.18 percent, the NOSH segment grew 13 percent. Miller used an outreach campaign to focus on fresh and new items at an expo by creating relationships with manufacturers to enhance assortment; the campaign was a great success.

©2019 Imported by HEINEKEN USA, White Plains, NY.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Mia Baker

Manager, Business Process Change, Retail Communications, Retail Training and Communication Experience, Hannaford Supermarkets

Baker directed three interdependent cross-functions at Hannaford, business process change, retail training and communications; in 2018, she built three new teams in retail services to support the store of the future. She led change management initiatives needed for assembling a new, large team, and led refinement of business planning and consolidation as increased numbers of internal business partners requested engagement. Baker developed a proposal to adopt a singular communication tool to support full-cycle communication between corporate and retail.

Nancy Dumais

Director, Marketing Strategy and Planning, Hannaford Supermarkets

Dumais helped lead the launch of My Hannaford Rewards (MHR), the company’s loyalty program: She headed the inclusion of MHR digital coupons in a variety of events, from holidays to store re-openings, and revamped the Hannaford to Go online shopping service with new materials, messaging and tactics to drive growth. She developed a full-shop whole-health strategy with business partners, and led the Healthy Living team in an update that was more relevant to Hannaford customers. Dumais created a “mini-MBA” program for the strategy team to further understanding and interpretation of customer insights.

Tish Payson

Manager, Customer and Associate Engagement, and Front End Operations, Hannaford Supermarkets

Responsible for the design and implementation of front end prototypes in all Hannaford stores, Payson influenced leadership in front end technology and appearance going forward. She designed a front end prototype for the future, including technologies and self-checkouts. Payson relaunched “The Power of You” culture to the home office, focusing on associate-to-associate relationships and how they care for one another, and she worked with Hannaford leaders to ensure that they were engaging associates in any changes at retail; her work also supports company-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives.


Angie Danielewicz

Associate Relations Specialist, Southern Region, Harris Teeter LLC

With direct responsibility for 20 stores in the Charlotte, N.C., area, Danielewicz took on additional responsibility in the southern region as the point person for peer associate relations specialists (ARS). Along with others, she worked to develop the departments’ use of new software for store-visit tracking, increasing the departments’ efficiency and communication, and she also took on weekly report and analysis for the company’s southern region, thus freeing peer ARS for more face time with associates. Danielewicz continued the development of a mentoring program for succession planning and cross-training.

Congratulations tto

Toby Noiles and d all the othe other 2019 Top Women in Grocery Thank you for your EXCELLENT LEADERSHIP


Jennifer Taylor Distribution Labor and Systems Support Manager, Harris Teeter LLC

Taylor managed the inbound fleet backhaul program, activity-based compensation programs, inbound appointment scheduling and inbound freight accounting in her role as distribution labor and systems support manager. She accepted responsibility for all of the title work with the DMV for transportation equipment Thanks to Taylor’s work, in 2018, the inbound logistics contribution ran 16.1 percent greater than in 2017, against a 5 percent goal, and fleet backhaul, an area that makes up 82 percent of the total inbound logistics contribution, ran 24 percent higher than in the previous year; she also improved relationships with company merchandising for future growth.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Heather Lentz Director of Wellness, Heinen’s Inc.

Denise Edwards Director, Category ManagementKroger, The Hershey Co.

Overseeing 22 Wellness Centers in Heinen’s stores and their staff, Lentz reworked the natural health and beauty category to increase sales 15 percent by following industry trends.

Responsible for growing Hershey’s seasonal and digital commerce business units at Kroger, Edwards was recognized as a best-in-class partner by both organizations.

Along with her staff, she led Heinen’s Plant Powered initiative, an integration of plant-based products throughout the store to enable the grocer to become the leader in its region for all things plant-based; the initiative included such high-profile partners as Heinen’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Todd Pesek.

Faced with a portfolio gap in Hershey’s holiday gifting segment, she developed three custom Kroger Hershey Holiday Kisses tins for the 2018 season; the tins drove volume growth by $1.5 million at point of sale, overcoming the portfolio gap and creating a platform to repeat in the future.

Lentz successfully supervised Heinen’s 5 Star program, a healthy-eating initiative promoted in schools and with store events; more than 100 local schools and 16,000 children participated.

To drive year-over-year mutual growth, Edwards created an additional usage occasion with Hershey S’Mores Sliders that were 92 percent incremental to the traditional s’mores concept.

Lisa Meyer

Senior Director, Sales Planning, The Hershey Co.

Known throughout the company for her adapability, drive for results, business acumen and problem-solving skills, Meyer organized the sales-planning team in mid-2018 with all new team members and a 75-day goal to deliver the entire U.S. sales plan by retailer, month and more. Aided by three direct reports with no experience in this area, she successfully created both the template and process to do this while delivering the 2019 sales plan at the same time. Meyer then developed the trade strategy for all of U.S. grocery, and her efforts were rewarded with a promotion from senior manager to senior director; Hershey’s 2019 success will largely be driven by her work.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Becky Hockman Assistant VP, Retail Accounting, Hy-Vee Inc.

Hockman started the company’s centralized accounting department in 2018 with 64 people handling more than 250 stores, a job previously handled by 500 people at store level. Although she had little experience supervising a large group of people, she successfully managed one of the largest departments in the company, which she had to staff seven days a week, including holidays. In 2018 Hockman was inducted into the Hy-Vee Hall of Fame for the second time, as a department director, after having been inducted back in 2005 as supervisor of the year; induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest employee honor available inside Hy-Vee.

Leah Kursave Senior Account Director, IN Connected Marketing

Through her work with Tyson’s shopper marketing team, Kursave spotted an opportunity in the chicken company’s relationship with Meijer to test an interactive freezer-door touchscreen; the test was successful for both organizations. She was able to drive 10 percent annual return-on-investment growth for the participating Tyson brands, while also spurring category growth. Kursave successfully led the regional launch of Tyson’s Tastemakers meal kits in 2018 in select markets, and piloted a new workstream for planning, executing and securing CPG partnerships for the IN Tyson team.


Chelsea Kumbera

Director, Advertising Design, Hy-Vee Inc.

Kumbera led the team that produces Hy-Vee’s print ads, store signage and décor changes. When faced with an employee turnover that created challenges for the advertising and design team, she took over organizing and hiring a new creative team for Hy-Vee, building out the organizational chart to better serve numerous internal teams. Kumbera built out the organizational chart for the team to better serve numerous internal teams needing graphic design services, and handled screening and hiring for these positions; she also played a large role in the redesign of Hy-Vee’s weekly circular, one of the company’s main advertising vehicles.

Polly Rowland

Senior Director of Consumer Sales, John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc.

Stacey Loftus

Assistant VP, Retail Dietetics, Southern Region, Hy-Vee Inc.

Overseeing the dietitians in the southern region, and helping with in-store and community outreach, Loftus helped organize a men’s health tour in 2018 that included free PSA screenings at 35 stores. She led the development of three separate disease-specific store tour models, in which more than 6,300 customers participated; in the fall, she led the Hy-Vee dietitians in becoming tailgate “crashers” with the state beef council to promote healthy meal options. Loftus organized a diabetes tour with her team, offering free A1C screenings, along with nutritional advice and free educational materials; the successful tour provided 3,254 free screenings.

Ari Goldsmith

Executive Director of Marketing, KeHE Distributors

Rowland led a team of seven account executives responsible for branded and private-brand snack, recipe and produce nuts and trail mix product lines that totaled $242 million in sales.

Leading the team responsible for producing KeHE’s signature shows, Goldsmith managed the $8 million annual marketing budget and oversaw publishing of promotional publications and external events.

Last year, she helped launch a new selling platform, secured five new private-brand retail customers that will contribute more than $51 million in annual revenue, and helped increase share of the Fisher Recipe Nuts brand by 6.5 points, lifting sales by more than 30 percent.

Last year, she helped launch new show technology that led to a 150 percent increase in product sales at KeHE shows, and led a cross-functional effort to debut the company’s digital marketing platform pilot for reducing spoilage and improving the efficiency of product promotions.

Rowland has earned a company-wide reputation for mentoring female account executives, helping them to build confidence and effectiveness.

Goldsmith created one of the largest charitable meal-packing events in the food retailing industry, introduced at Expo West 2019.


Micaila Ruiz

Assistant VP, Hy-Vee Inc.; Chief Pharmacy Officer, Amber Pharmacy, Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, Hy-Vee Inc.

Ruiz led and supported the strategic growth and place within health care of two wholly owned subsidiaries of Hy-Vee: specialty pharmacies Amber Pharmacy and Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions (HPS) She prepared Amber and HPS for immediate and future growth through an overhaul of staffing workflow, a proactive plan of care for patients and caregivers, connectivity to other health care systems and insurance services, and helping locate, secure and implement new locations. Ruiz’s advocacy led to policy changes allowing patients to receive transplant medications on the day they leave the hospital.

Amber Jefferson

Senior Human Resources Director, Kellogg North America, Kellogg Co.

Jefferson led the largest function of Kellogg North America, overseeing HR for the company’s $9 billion sales organization and supporting teams responsible for Walmart, Kroger, Costco and Amazon. She helped transition the company’s largest business unit from direct store delivery to a warehouse model, and led the restructure of the company’s entire retail sales organization. Jefferson was a key leader in a new global design for Kellogg’s ecommerce organization, assisting the chief global ecommerce and revenue growth officer on strategy, design and overall people leadership capabilities.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Mary Loy

Customer Communications Specialist, The Kroger Co./ Atlanta Division

Loy created a number of communications initiatives that helped the Kroger brand win exposure for programs that demonstrated the company’s core values. She helped communicate the results of Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste food rescue program via multiple channels, resulting in a 40 percent increase in food donations, with Kroger donating nearly 4 million pounds of food, and helped design a new divisional campaign, Feeding the Gap, aimed at feeding children, which surpassed its goal in its inaugural year. Loy also reinvented “Did You Know,” a divisional publication for all associates and retirees.

Nickel Gibbings Customer Communications Specialist, The Kroger Co./ Dallas Division

Responsible for all customer-facing communication for the 112 stores in Kroger’s Dallas Division, Gibbings also created training documents that allowed for quick and effective onboarding and helped ensure a seamless continuity of work despite any changes in staff.


Michelle Donaho

District Manager, The Kroger Co./ Central Division

Donaho led by example, engaging her team to provide a world-class customer shopping experience; as a result, her team outscored the Central Division on nearly all associate engagement categories, including trust, communications, organizational change and career development. She is an active member of Kroger Women’s EDGE, an associate resource group committed to developing female leaders in the company. Donaho and associates in her district reset the Peoria Neighborhood House’s food pantry, distributed holiday meal kits, packed Meals on Wheels food boxes and wrote greeting-card messages for recipients.

Cindy Fisher

Health and Wellness Merchandiser, The Kroger Co./ Delta Division

Leading a team of 1,162 pharmacists to ensure regulatory compliance and managing a budget of $606 million, Fisher improved the overall performance of the 92 pharmacies she oversaw across five states within Kroger’s Delta Division.

She created a divisional Digital Ambassador program to drive digital account acquisition and improve market share that helped her division acquire 20,000-plus new digital customers.

She collaborated with healthand-wellness teams on key initiatives, oversaw the execution of those initiatives, and led all sales/ customer service strategies, including immunization programs and prescription growth.

Gibbings helped plan, coordinate and execute the company’s first Kroger Day of Caring event to serve the food-insecure, a successful event that will be held annually and rolled out to all division stores.

Fisher helped boost pharmacy sales for the fiscal year by 2.4 percent and increased the number of prescriptions filled by nearly 4 percent; flu shots and everyday vaccines also rose under her leadership.

Emily Poff

Operations/Front End Manager, The Kroger Co./ Cincinnati/Dayton Division

By linking display compliance with improved customer experience, Poff tied a division-wide measurement directly to sales and was able to transform her division from its last-place standing in sales plan compliance to one of the district’s top performers in just six weeks. She ensured that her district’s grocery and stocking crew completed trucks efficiently, providing a great shopping experience and saving on operations costs, as well as helping her district lead the division in identical-store sales growth. Poff mentored and coached 10 associates, from a clerk role to a department head position.

Julie Auflick

Produce and Floral Merchandiser, The Kroger Co./ Fred Meyer

Auflick led the Fred Meyer produce and floral departments to exceptional results in 2018 by procuring unique produce and fresh deals for its Northwest customers. She initiated and implemented a distribution center program to change the logistics of the everyday floral program, which resulted in significantly shorter delivery times, better in-stocks and reduced shrink. Auflick led Fred Meyer produce sales to the most successful in the Kroger enterprise by teaming up with regional partners to roll out a significant cut-fruit program that drove sales, in-stocks and reduced labor; she’s also respected as a mentor for leaders across the company, sharing her skills, knowledge and expertise.


Persis Coates

Operations Specialist, The Kroger Co./ Columbus Division

The ability to establish relationships, build trust and solicit authentic associate feedback led Coates to design and implement a new associate recognition program to boost morale and engagement and positively impact the company’s bottom line. Her enthusiasm for selling pushed her teams to win several flash sales, beating out four other districts; during one selling event, her team sold 20,000 units and $25,000 more than the second highest-selling district. Coates led 24 store teams through all aspects of a waste integration program, empowering them to own and maintain the processes that would lead to a reduction in controllable shrink.

Jodey EllisSpansel

District Human Resource Manager, The Kroger Co./ Fred Meyer

Ellis-Spansel had a big impact on associate retention in the challenging Alaska market, improving annualized turnover from 66.1 percent in fiscal 2017 to 64.6 percent last year, which resulted in savings of $1.1 million and a dramatic effect on the consistency of store results. She built trust among district staff and store teams through person-to-person support, ongoing communication and quality contact, leading to cohesion and alignment between the district and the stores. Ellis-Spansel took a wideangle-lens approach to push results across all groups within the stores and district, working cross-functionally to help others achieve desired results.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Evelyn Alvarez Senior Regional Project Manager, The Kroger Co./ Fry’s

Alvarez managed more than $115 million in construction projects across Arizona, successfully onboarding new contractors and coaching them on how to meet project time lines and serve the retail environment. She consistently delivered innovative solutions for unique conditions and is currently managing the division’s first multistory, multiuse project in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Alvarez worked with the facility safety coordinator and committee to adopt a safety handbook for technicians, which resulted in a 469-zero-incident-day rate, and helped the team embrace safety culture; the handbook is being rolled out to another division.

Amber Kayse

Director of Clinical Operations, The Kroger Co./General Office

Kayse formed pivotal relationships with the legal teams and technology teams that gave her the insight necessary to understand state pharmacy practice laws and to work with state boards to win approval of new initiatives, and then transform an idea through development and implementation. Her contributions were directly responsible for $52 million in vaccination sales, $12 million in clinical sales and around $10 million in performance-based rebates from insurance companies. Kayse runs a medication synchronization program that was rolled out enterprise-wide, with 46,000-plus patients enrolled; the project is expected to deliver more than $2.5 billion in revenue.


Dawn Baker

Meat/Seafood Merchandiser, The Kroger Co./ Fry’s

Baker guided her team to implement a simplification strategy to lead the market on price by focusing on offering deeper discounts to customers on fewer items; the strategy allowed stores to execute the merchandising plan at a higher level, improve in-stock position, and grow customer and item count. She developed an annual strategy to increase sales on key items through service case assortment, maximizing display space and driving seasonal sales opportunities. Baker led her department to donate unsold food to the community and took a leadership role in coordinating volunteering events for her team.

Nicole Bergin District HR Manager, The Kroger Co./King Soopers

Andrea Brookhart

Manager of Clinical Program Development, The Kroger Co./ General Office

Brookhart created and oversaw programs that connected pharmacy teams to their patients, improving medication use for better outcomes, higher reimbursement, more prescriptions being filled, and greater customer and associate satisfaction. She developed initiatives that drove the core pharmacy business by identifying patients eligible for vaccines; patients who might benefit from an additional, heart-protective medication; and patients who were late to refill or routinely missed doses. Brookhart partnered with the data analytics teams on a program that helps in-store pharmacy teams engage customers.

Chong Bierwirth District Operations Manager, The Kroger Co./King Soopers

Bergin implemented many of the best practices and behaviors still in practice in her previous posting in one district earlier in the year, and then transitioned to another district, where she built strong relationships with her staff.

Overseeing operations in 21 stores with an eye toward identifying potential areas of opportunity, Bierwirth continually coached, trained and developed the operations team to enhance their skills and improve store performance.

She went on to lead her new district to best overall performance in retention for the year, reducing turnover by more than 11 percent and saving the district about $700,000 in onboarding, training and turnover costs.

She was selected to teach, train and implement Kroger’s Purpose and Promise program to the store teams in her district, and was instrumental in transitioning all Cultural Council teams to Promise Teams across 21 stores.

Bergin headed a December community uplift event to collect coats, toiletries, nonperishable foods and more for at-risk organizations and shelters, and helped roll out a food pantry program to support associates in need.

Bierwirth trained the district team and the district learning store, working closely with the former to facilitate all training and follow-up to execute best practices and waste solutions.


Ashley Caldwell

Promo Planning Specialist, The Kroger Co./General Office

Caldwell was a key stakeholder in coaching category management and promo-planning teams on Kroger’s Next Generation Price & Promotion and Category Management Transformation projects, key initiatives that will drastically alter the go-to-market strategy and allow for greater control of strategic plans across varying channels. By focusing on the needs of each division, she developed a plan to achieve these the new programs’ varying goals and prepare teams to meet their financial targets for both sales and profit. Caldwell mentored category managers and promo planners during a time of significant change in the organization.

Rhonda Conway

Division Asset Protection Manager, The Kroger Co./ King Soopers

Having made her mark in the traditionally male-dominated loss prevention field by working with division and district staff to identify process/ behavior deficiencies and coach, teach and train for improvement, Conway received Kroger’s 2018 Shrink Achievement Award. Her successful implementation of a waste integration project in her division, executed in partnership with the merchandising and district teams, improved shrink results by $8.1 million over the prior year, surpassing her budget by $3.2 million. Conway also represented her division with local, state and federal law enforcement, and managed capital and shrink budgets for the division.


Bridget Klare

HR Payroll Systems Manager, The Kroger Co./Kroger Technology

Klare led the implementation of a HR data management system and partnered with HR business leaders to build data governance processes that ensure a single-source-of-truth repository and ongoing accuracy of key people data. She successfully guided the deployment of new learning management systems and introduced mobile devices in Kroger store environments to deliver state-of-the-art onboarding training videos to new store hires. Klare oversaw implementation of a data management system as well as data governance processes and data quality dashboards to maintain the accuracy of people-related data.

Jessica Lewis

Health and Wellness Practice Coordinator, The Kroger Co./MidAtlantic Division

Lewis singlehandedly organized and executed all pharmacy new-hire training for eight Kroger pharmacies purchased from Farm Fresh, onboarding and developing more than 50 pharmacy associates for these locations while supporting operational and clinical initiatives within her existing pharmacy teams. Her district consistently led division execution of key pharmacy metrics despite the learning curve associated with doubling her store count, and also led the division in MedSync enrollments for 2018. Lewis helped her district exceed its vaccination administration goal by 360 immunizations, providing a total of 8,802.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Valerie Fields

District Merchandising Manager/Meat Coordinator, The Kroger Co./ Louisville Division

Fields significantly improved the customer experience in her stores, with increases in freshness in the meat, produce and deli departments, and gains in in-stocks for center store, meat, sale and overall items. She improved her division’s marks on ease of moving through the store, cleanliness of the store, and overall satisfaction in the meat and seafood departments. Nine of Fields’ division’s 14 stores were recognized for increasing sales in a fall selling contest, with a combined sales increase of greater than 2 percent; further, holiday and third-party gift card sales increased at some locations.

Terry Reynolds

Division Training and Recruiting Manager, The Kroger Co./ Mid-Atlantic Division

Reynolds was instrumental in driving campus recruitment strategies and improved selection processes that ensure stores mirror the community in each market they serve. She played a vital role in the waste integration program in the Richmond, Va., marketing area, and was responsible for coaching and developing 180 department leaders through hands-on training for shrink initiatives. Reynolds was one of five leaders who served on the company bargaining committee to renegotiate the Richmond/ Hampton Roads, Va., labor contract, helping to secure a balanced agreement that kept Kroger competitive in a tight labor market.

Christa Bertolini Division HR Leader, The Kroger Co./ Mariano’s

Bertolini’s intuitive mindset and creative approach helped her develop leadership and generational-focused training initiatives, including an onboarding program for new associates that showcases the uniqueness of a Mariano’s store and positions the retailer as the go-to Chicagoland grocer. She provided the effective and timely communications that led to the seamless combination of two independent markets under a single leadership team and division banner. Bertolini received the company’s Unsurpassed Caring & Concern Award in recognition of her compassion and willingness to take care of the team and the business simultaneously.

Tashina Mason

Division Controller, The Kroger Co./ Nashville Division

Mason partnered with HR on The Bowling Green Project, a training plan focused on improving store conditions through best practices and better financial data, which helped achieve positive sales for the first time in more than a year. She worked with merchandising and operations to identify ways to reduce shrink, such as improved processes for accountability, which have already helped save $3 million. Mason was the Women’s EDGE associate resource group (ARG) co-chair, leading the her division’s efforts to improve diversity and inclusion, and advocated for women in leadership; she was also active in the division’s African-American ARG.

Amy Luna

District Manager, The Kroger Co./ Michigan Division

Luna led her district to annual sales volume of $600 million-plus, achieving positive identical-store sales growth and outpacing the division average; her leadership and influence resulted in the highest associate retention improvement in the division, reducing turnover by more than 12.5 percentage points. She assisted in the supervision and construction of a $17.4 million, 101,000-square-foot store expansion project, where sales are now nearly $1 million a week, and supervised two major successful remodels last year. Luna worked with her district on community events that ended up raising a combined $70,000plus in contributions.

Christy Williams Division HR Leader, The Kroger Co./ Nashville Division

In one of the most competitive labor markers, Williams helped her division improve retention by 14.8 percent and hire 10,000-plus associates; she also worked to improve wages, develop and promote top talent, and enhance best practices among HR business owners at the store, district and division levels. She collaborated on the design and implementation of the new company associate dress code. Williams created the Pizza with the President initiative to give store managers an opportunity to connect with division presidents in a small-group setting, facilitating feedback, idea exchange and an opportunity to set expectations.




2019 Top Women in Grocery Erin Hooper

Drug/GM Merchandiser, The Kroger Co./ QFC

Health and Wellness Merchandiser, The Kroger Co./ Smith’s

Hooper tasked her team with updating specialty and natural candy to reflect the latest trends and innovation, and collaborated with local vendor partners to add innovative items and seasonal offerings to the department — a strategy that helped increase sales by 35 percent.

Montuoro was promoted and tasked with building a new pharmacy team under the new Kroger division structure; the division met its goals, increased prescription count, and grew medication synchronization enrollment, immunizations and MTM services at record levels.

She oversaw center store resets for 23 stores to boost the profile of natural products in stores and highlight new product offerings; her team created a Fit Market concept department centered on better-for-you options within the HBC category.

She led her team to increase vaccines by 63 percent over the previous year.

As co-chair of QFC’s Women’s EDGE associate resource group, Hooper restructured its format to aid the personal and professional growth of all QFC associates.

Melissa Conway Senior Manager, Internal Communications, Meijer Inc.

Conway launched several team member engagement tools, including the company’s first team member mobile app, an online idea submission program that generated 9,500-plus ideas from employees, and a company podcast series that covered company strategy, data privacy and security, food safety, and sustainability. She spearheaded an innovative in-house communication campaign using engaging video components, home mailers and leadership discussion, resulting in increased overall satisfaction and lower turnover rates. Conway’s team expanded the digital screen network and trained associates to create custom store-specific content.


Jaime Montuoro

Passionate about community partnerships that advance the role of the community pharmacist, Montuoro worked with the Utah Department of Health and local/regional health care quality organizations on various initiatives, and was actively involved in a number of professional associations’ health initiatives.

Michelle Daily Manager, Merchandise Inventory, Meijer Inc.

Daily outpaced division and company growth in general merchandise through initiatives that improved process efficiency and team engagement. She enhanced business reporting, low-volume inventory deployment analytics, clearance management and time line management, giving her team more time to make quicker and smarter day-to-day decisions to impact the business. Daily created a collaborative joint business-planning process tool across the general merchandise division that allows Meijer’s strategic vendors to track progress against plans using a monthly scorecard; where the process was used, sales and margin increased significantly.

Kathy Weisz

Manager, Creative Services, Litehouse Inc.

Weisz and her graphic design department worked alongside brand managers to create the logos and packaging for two new brands, and collaborated with the communications team to launch an internal company-wide newsletter; her team also helped launch Litehouse’s new Canadian website. She created and designed in-store materials and a digital campaign for an Albertsons-specific cross-promotion, supported by two other produce items, which increased sales by at least 30 percent. Weisz’s team’s redesign of the Litehouse Simply Artisan brand packaging was awarded a 2018 GDUSA American Packaging Design Award.

May Graceffa

Divisional Merchandise Manager, Meijer Inc.

Graceffa transformed the Meijer bath shop experience, resulting in a 7.5 percent sales increase over the prior year and a 6.6 percent increase in margin, an accomplishment that won her a promotion. She was a participant in Meijer’s Entertainment Steering Committee, which focuses on growing sales through entertainment licenses and cross-merchandised products across categories to create destination departments for key licenses. Graceffa was selected to represent Meijer at the Food Marketing Institute’s conference for future leaders, and was recognized for mentoring several associate buyers, coaching them to grow into buyer roles.


Becky Bronkema

Director of Merchandising, Deli/Bakery/ Franchise, Meijer Inc.

Bronkema achieved a cultural and directional shift to an engaging, positive and transparent environment that led her deli and bakery team to more than 4 percent comparable-sales growth, the highest in the fresh business, while exceeding financial sales and margin goals by more than 2 percent for the year and reducing shrink. She identified convenience as a key strategic opportunity, increased meal solutions and added a new “local first” approach to the store’s portfolio. Bronkema was vice chair on the United Way Emerging Leaders board, finding ways to drive improved health outcomes in underserved communities.

Melanie Mahan HR Director, MidMichigan Region, Meijer Inc.

Mahan led her region to significant improvement across a number of metrics, including overall turnover, non-leadership turnover, leadership tenure and team member engagement. She played a key role in supporting the company’s market reorganization efforts, including exit, transfer and onboarding of several key regional executives, and the reorganization and redesign of talent acquisition. Together with retail store leadership, Mahan helped the region lead the way in rolling out innovative and creative methods of training and developing leaders as well as experienced leadership external hires, increasing their leadership skills and level of immersion in Meijer’s culture.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Dormica Oppenhuizen

Director, Inbound Logistics/Customer Service, Meijer Inc.

Oppenhuizen accomplished a savings/cost avoidance of $6.3 million for her division and launched two new tools/resources tol increase automation, drive process and enable Meijer to create a greater competitive advantage in the logistics industry at large. She developed the first go-tomarket freight strategy for Meijer, impacting business results, driving process and increasing accountability; under her leadership, Meijer achieved the highest level of recognition possible in customs compliance issues. Oppenhuizen worked with a number of organizations to share her knowledge and mentor young professionals.

Zahra Sadry Buyer, MDSRHardgoods, Meijer Inc.

Promoted twice in the past year because of her outstanding performance, Sadry helped the pet supplies desk end the year with $10 million in baseline sales growth and a 52-week market share growth of 60 basis points. She executed the major brand launch of Kong dog toys, the No. 1 dog toy brand in the world, to the product assortment, leading space planning, advertising and promotions. Sadry also guided a comprehensive sourcing review for Meijer’s live-fish and service program, which led to a direct partnership with a live-fish and service supplier rather than a distributor, thereby saving the company $886,000 annually.

Erin Walton

Director of Merchandising, DSD and Alcohol, Meijer Inc.

Walton worked with internal store operations and a large CPG vendor partner to pilot and roll out a back-room optimization strategy that helped drive sales by maximizing on floor inventory while keeping back rooms clean and organized. She played an integral role in onboarding a high-proof liquor agency in Ohio, and successfully executed a shrink reduction pilot in the alcohol department, which resulted in a new store-level team member role for the department. Recently promoted to director of merchandising for the direct store delivery and alcohol team, Walton was the first woman in Meijer’s history to run this segment of the business.


Lindsey Borja Director of Supply Chain, Nature Nate’s

Borja and her team managed the largest amount of volume within a two-month window in Nature Nate’s history during a promotion with a major retailer. She drove efficiency by increasing warehouse spacing through a 50 percent decrease in raw-material capacity; her management of the request-for-proposal process with suppliers lowered raw-material spending by nearly $1 million. Borja trained her team on new modules of enterprise resource planning, Material Requirements Planning (MRP) and Advanced Planning and Scheduling (APS); the implementation of the two modules drove down production costs by 3 percent.


The Top Women in Grocery Gala will take place Nov. 6-7, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando, FL. PG looks forward to seeing many of the honorees and their supporters at this inspirational event.



2019 Top Women in Grocery

Melissa Emerich

Sharon Teresi

Manager II, Media Monetization, Peapod Digital Labs

Technical LeadDirector, Peapod Digital Labs

Undertaking Peapod Digital Labs Media Partnerships’ first-ever digital ad network, Emerich took a leading role and was tasked with going from zero to knowledgeable at lightning speed.

Teresi guided each functional manager through an overview of the process, highlighting impacts to specific teams, and helping teams identify potential problem areas and build solutions before these issues came to life.

She didn’t hesitate to ask questions and translate answers into meaningful strategy that met the goals of the company and the CPG community.

Recognizing that the HR/communications team was stretched beyond capacity, she created the communications for the organization and built out a timeline for them to be sent.

As her team began evaluating the media channels available within the brands’ stores, Emerich immediately recognized the opportunity to increase their margins while creating a more efficient program that was CPG-centric and could maintain the ability to be scalable.

During a time of significant transition, Teresi managed to communicate with and help people through the process, not only maintaining the trust that the organization had in her, but also actually building and fostering trust and relationships.

Stephanie Abono

Senior Key Account Manager, PepsiCo/ Frito-Lay, PepsiCo

Abono drove scan sales growth by 4.4 percent while increasing the customer’s margin faster than sales by strategically managing the portfolio. She worked with the customer to drive permanent perimeter support on profitable items, with permanent beverage tie-ins for single-serve items that drove her single-serve scan sales up by 9 percent over last year. Abono’s dump-bin display strategy for Frito-Lay multipacks and natural snacks, along with a multipack/bread tie-in program, resulted in mulitpack results for Fry’s that were the highest of any Kroger division, at 27 percent; she also led the joint business-planning process with Fry’s.

Risa Andersen Senior Director – Consumer Data Strategy and Shopper Media, PepsiCo

Andersen led the effort to reduce digital media costs by 20 percent through better negotiations and decision-making, in the process delivering an additional $6 million of media impressions. She was instrumental in raising the quality of digital media by partnering with third parties to deliver an additional $6 million of media impressions; Andersen and her team also delivered another $4 million of productivity by using internal purchase-based targeting capability to execute digital audiences, delivering more than 4 billion impressions. A high-potential leader, Anderson was selected to leadership programs for two years in a row.

C o ng ratu lations to o ur top women in grocery!

Marcy Nathan

Donna Madere

Michelle Leblanc

Creative Director

Store Director

Store Director

Congratulations ANDREA CHASE

Vice President of Category Management

We appreciate your dedication and commitment!


2019 Top Women in Grocery Whitney Erickson

Sales Director, PepsiCo Beverages North America, PepsiCo

Soon after she was promoted to sales director, Erickson’s work in chilled and premium beverages led to impressive share gains of 5.9 share swing/$13.6 million swing for chilled beverages and 0.5 points to a 42.3 share of the premium chilled category. She led a successful implementation of a solo orange juice initiative in which Tropicana secured solo orange juice distribution in 307 Target stores, with positive net revenue impact for Q4 2018 that continued into Q1 2019. Erickson managed a Kids in Need Foundation event in Minneapolis that increased PepsiCo’s participation in the event by 60 percent versus the previous year.

Monique Jennings

Customer Director, Walmart, PepsiCo/ Frito-Lay, PepsiCo

Jennings drove her department’s success by selling in more than $27.4 million more in display programs than a year ago. One of her biggest wins was successfully selling in pre-packed weekenders (PPWs) into Walmart for execution in 2019 that will lead to substantial perimeter space gains. Jennings led a college intern event for the Network of Executive Women featuring more than 50 interns to network and share best practices, as well as piloting the employee program Mama’s Bi-Monthly for working moms in the area to get together, network and discuss how they make it work.

Taryn Limpach

Senior Sales Director, PepsiCo/ Frito-Lay, PepsiCo

Limpach’s leadership led her regional team to close a $6 million gap in the last four months of 2018, making a significant impact on the business. She shared business challenges with senior executive leaders and received the resources needed to improve business that led to an eight-point swing. Limpach is one of four recipients of the Frito-Lay North America Employee Resource Group leadership award for her work in improving diversity and inclusion initiatives across the region and country, as well as creating avenues for mentoring and sponsoring discussions; she also supported the company-wide celebration of Global Ally Day.


Talia Monroe

Senior Sales Director, PepsiCo/ Frito-Lay, PepsiCo

Monroe developed a new strategy to pinpoint a key opportunity that resulted in both brand strength and consumer preference in the marketplace, while delivering internal growth and productivity metrics. Her ability to embrace challenge/risk and aligned key constituents was significantly demonstrated in the project, and her leadership attributes were used as an example for other leaders across the regional team. As an executive sponsor for the Employee Resource Group Council, Monroe has earned a reputation for developing future leaders, having mentored many high-potential employees across the region.

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Meagan Radziej

National Account Sales Manager, PepsiCo Beverages North America, PepsiCo

Radziej was recently promoted because she exceeded her net revenue plan by 5 percent and profit plan by 10 percent, delivering a 2.1-point share swing for noncarbonated beverages versus the competition. She played a significant role in the successful launch of Bubly Sparkling Water at Target, driving Bubly to the No. 3 sparkling-water brand at the retailer. Radziej also developed and implemented a Bubly tool to create efficiencies at store level, and then trained front-line staff to leverage the tool to develop fact-based selling points; the tool is being expanded to addiitonal growth categories in 2019.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Kristen Turner

Tekla Toohey

Toohey’s work was instrumental in delivering 8 percent revenue growth in her east Georgia market and successful execution of one of PepsiCo’s best Super Bowl sponsorships ever. As a result of her business impact and success in people development, she was selected to be on PepsiCo Beverages’ Southeast Diversity Advisory Board; she also chaired the Women’s Inclusion Network in the Southeast, which helped in putting on development events for emerging female leaders. During 2018, Toohey was a member of the board of the Children’s Home Society of Florida’s North Coastal division.

Ellen Webb

Customer Management Associate Manager, PepsiCo/Frito-Lay , PepsiCo

Senior Director, Shopper Strategy, PepsiCo Demand Accelerator, PepsiCo

Turner exceeded $22 million better than plan for the second consecutive year, with record-setting brand team partner performance.

In the past year, Webb elevated the joint business-planning process, leading to common foresights and less redundancy, and she shared best practices in a global sales webinar across the company.

Market Director General Manager, PepsiCo Beverages North AmericaSouth, PepsiCo

She was ranked No. 1 direct store delivery vendor by Dollar General and won two Way-2-Go Awards in 2018 for the Market Store Viva Spicy initiative and growth summit execution, as well as receiving the Best Team Player award. As lead ambassador for community involvement efforts for the Nashville office, Turner created a new community task force across the cross-functional team and coordinated all office members to participate in a year-long program of community giving.

Her efforts led to major performance improvements across many of the brands, including a major turnaround on the regular, diet and Zero Pepsi lines, due to the shopper targeting that her effort identified. An executive sponsor of the PepsiCo analyst employee resource group, Webb is also active with PepsiCo’s recruiting efforts at DePaul University, teaching classes at the university twice in the past year.

Beth Faught


Director of Retail

Rising Star Kallie Millar Dedicated Retail Team Lead

Rising Star Congratulations to all of the 2019 Top Women in Grocery, with special thanks to our honorees and all of the women at CROSSMARK who exemplify excellence every day. You link consumers to brands, clients to customers, insights to ideas, and inspire us all to build greater Bridges to Growth. Shine on!

Katherine Fuller Executive VP/ General Manager

Senior- evel Stephanie Clark Director of Client Operations

Rising Star Susan Mattine Trade Manager

Rising Star


2019 Top Women in Grocery Kaylina White

Customer Account Manager, PepsiCo/ Frito-Lay, PepsiCo

White’s efforts resulted in retail sales growth of nearly 4 percent at Food 4 Less, while Ralphs grew nearly 3 percent, with margin growing faster than sales.

Dana Hecht

Senior Account Manager, Grocery, Post Consumer Brands

A driven sales leader, Hecht exceeded her yearly goal to sell $12 million by attaining $14 million in gross sales last year with key grocery accounts on the East Coast.

She partnered with the customer to leverage the portfolio in new ways, like single-serve perimeter displays in the deli, and incremental end caps in the liquor aisle.

She successfully sold a display at Wegmans Food Markets for the first time in company history and was the only leader to add distribution at Wegmans in 2018.

White also led the development of the 2019 joint business plan, along with a process to measure progress throughout the year; to date, her customers are $2.4 million to plan and 110 percent to last year.

Hecht was also the first to market all new items at Weis Markets, which recognized her as its vendor of the year in 2018, and she was awarded one of Post’s 2018 Annual Sales Excellence awards.

CindyJo Schneider

Senior Account Manager, Post Consumer Brands

Responsible for $12 million in business, Schneider grew each of her accounts by more than 10 percent in dollar share, point of distribution and percent of shelf space, all the while remaining within her spending budget. She developed strong relationships with her accounts in Arizona and California, in the process growing an Arizona account to one of the highest market shares in the nation. Schneider, who is known to lead by example, earned the John S. Campbell Sales Excellence Club award and became a member of the 35% Club for maintaining high market shares at her accounts.


Stefani Hernandez

Senior Account Executive, Kroger Home Care, Procter & Gamble

By partnering with the Kroger category management team, Hernandez created a transformational plan that will create 15 percent growth plans, tripling the current category growth trend. Her complex plan required by-store mapping, optimization of nearly all of the portfolio SKUs, and then the creation of a simplified go-to-market approach. Hernandez is an internal leader of the field sales network for fabric essentials/additives, creating go-to-market programs that work across the network via in-depth x-customer assessment, action plans and design recommendations; her expertise is sought for all future development choices.

Jackie Penner

Manager, Trade Support and Customer Development and Support, Post Consumer Brands

Penner conducted business review meetings to identify, execute and track customer-specific trade strategies, despite limited resources; her work on trade efficiencies resulted in $875,000 in trade savings in fiscal 2018. She helped create a mobile app that aggregates data previously housed in several locations; the app is intuitive to use and helps sales professionals make strategic plans based on the best return on investment possible. Penner is active in Post Consumer Brands’ women’s networking group.

Brooke Hoskinson

Publix Team Account Executive, Procter & Gamble

Hoskinson outpaced the company growth across her business areas and overdelivered against all targets. This past year, she was chosen specifically by Publix to lead a strategic department reinvention project for the grocer. Rated among the top 10 percent of her peers, Hoskinson was selected for the Procter & Gamble CEO Award for her business and organizational results; she also won the Fem Care Top Customer Team Award for strong sales fundamentals and exceeding objectives, and the Family Care Hall of Fame Award for delivering against business objectives over the past five years.


Carmen Pina

Senior Retail Sales Representative, Post Consumer Brands

Pina has been ablet to grow her retail shelf space by 168 percent and to increase Post box distribution from 65 percent to 70 percent, as well as selling more than 200 pallets, which exceeded her sale quota with $223,000 sold in displays. For her efforts, she received the John S. Campbell Award for Executing with Excellence in 2016 and 2018. Pina is active in her local community in New York, as well as in her native Dominican Republic, volunteering her time to support youth initiatives, among them her son’s baseball team.

Robyn Loughran

Senior Marketing Manager, Procter & Gamble

Overseeing the marketing plan and budget for the Publix team, Loughran led a holistic assessment of the path to purchase and demographic groups, which resulted in strategic new ways to target and reach the shopper. The primary outcome of her work was the development of new digital and social programs that drove overall engagement and conversion. Loughran is not only an active member of the Network of Executive Women, she also formally mentors several new hires and acts as the security champion for the team responsible for 100 percent compliance with all organizational controls.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Jane McCloy

Senior Account Executive, Giant Eagle/Tops Subteam Leader, Procter & Gamble

McCloy worked collaboratively with Giant Eagle via the joint business-planning process to maximize top- and bottom-line growth, and led the process with grocery. She developed best-in-class category growth plans in household needs categories and leveraged analytical skills and Giant Eagle’s Symphony EYC data to evaluate weekly results of the new pricing strategy launched in the Cleveland, Ohio, market by the retailer; the data provided real-time results and captured consumer trends week over week. McCloy was named P&G Atlantic team manager of the year.

Brandice Rosander

Senior Account Executive, Kroger Family Care, Procter & Gamble

Rosander led a team of six on family care for P&G at Kroger, a $400 million business that spans 20 banners. In step with industry changes, she expanded its reach from brick-and-mortar planning to creating value at omnichannel touchpoints; her accomplishments in the past year were notable, as she came into the role when the category was beginning to lose market share and helped move it back to profitable growth Rosander was chosen for a select leadership academy within P&G to develop its next generation of female leaders.


Jaimie McIntyre Senior Supply Chain Leader, Kroger Customer Team, Procter & Gamble

Responsible for health and beauty products worth more than $700 million in sales, McIntyre led a team of four and sat on Kroger’s Vendor Collaboration board, among other duties. She delivered multiple solutions for in-stocks and on-time delivery, created an On Shelf Availability Task Force that spurred a 15 percent to 35 percent reduction in out-of-stocks, and launched a promotion event allocation push program that unlocked $7 million in incremental sales. In 2018, McIntyre won a Salesperson of the Year award, following her 2017 Blaze the Trail company award.

Kelly Wittry

Senior Account Executive, Meijer Category Development Team Leader, Procter & Gamble

A team leader for category development for P&G at Meijer, she managed a team of seven analysts and oversaw a $1.4 billion category. Within the past year – her first in this role – Wittry’s strategic recommendations led to 9 percent growth for P&G’s business and 3 percent growth for the total category; at the same time, she established the Meijer category development team to bolster business results. For her efforts, Wittry received a P&G Paper Category Award; meanwhile, her other talents were recognized in a photo exhibit at a local interfaith institute.

Shannon Meglio Omni Innovation Leader, Procter & Gamble

Meglio collaborated with retailer cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. to improve its ecommerce site experience, set digital marketing strategies, implement digital promotions and direct team analysis of the total business.


Anna Ricelli

Account Executive, Meijer Health Pillar, Procter & Gamble

As a category executive for P&G’s Meijer oral and personal health care business and a digital team leader, Ricelli was responsible for the growth of a $500 million category.

She exceeded objectives by creating the first Wakefern/P&G Five Year Vision Joint Business Plan and an “Inspirational Retail Safari” model enabling employees to “think differently” by visiting new retail formats.

Thanks to her efforts, the category experienced $22 million in incremental growth, a 5 percent lift over the previous 12 months; in the Meijer business, she spurred P&G to contribute three times its fair share to the retailer’s overall growth.

A Northeast Women’s Network leader, Meglio is also active in the Network of Executive Women, the Cosmetics Executives Women’s Network and a school board leadership team.

Ricelli won a 2018 Sandy Award for the P&G Meijer team and earned a National New Hire Award; she’s also spent time nuturing the career and skill growth of her team’s new hires.

Jennifer Merriman

Director, Fresh Sourcing, Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA Company

Leading a team of 12, Merriman aimed to deliver significant cost saving goals to Ahold Delhaize USA’s local brands. She developed an event tracker that allowed the organization to build a bottom-up view of cost-of-goods savings by brand, department, period and individual event; was instrumental in enhancing the company’s seafood sustainability program; and overdelivered on her fresh sourcing synergy budget. Merriman serves on the board for a youth sports organization and volunteers for local food banks and dog rescue groups.

Moira O’Toole

Director, Patient Health Services, Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA Company

O’Toole supported more than 730 local brand pharmacies, managing care network negotiations and payment contracting, and providing immunizations, medication therapy management, counseling sessions, and the safe and effective use of opioid medication, among other responsibilities. She launched a new patient health services team, developed a best-in-class medication synchronization service, and expanded each brand’s immunization services. O’Toole is treasurer of the Grocer’s Preferred Managed Care Contracting Network.


Tesha Sigmon

Director, Private Brand Product Management, Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA Company


2019 Top Women in Grocery Robin Smith

Manager, Retail Service Delivery, Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA Company

Ashten Adamson

Marcy Nathan

Creative Director, Rouses Markets

Team Lead of Consumer Marketing, Riceland Foods

Sigmon led the short- and long-term strategic plans of private brands supporting Food Lion, guiding a team of 12 product management professionals.

Heading a team of retail service delivery managers, Smith ensured that IT services were being effectively handled across each of the local brands.

Adamson oversaw all national consumer marketing initiatives, supported new products and managed three agency partners, among other duties.

Her team outpaced the industry in sales growth and new product development; she helped create successful consumer promotions, executed the transition to the new private-brand product portfolio and rolled out an in-store consumer testing program allowing Retail Business Services to communicate with thousands of shoppers.

She was integral in establishing an improved IT support execution model for the Food Lion and Hannaford brands that’s now expanding to other banners, worked with suppliers to establish a continuous-improvement model that led to improved response and resolution times, and created an effective support model for a Hannaford ecommerce solution.

She and her team implemented new processes and reimagined the brand in one of the largest transformations that Riceland has seen in its nearly century-long history.

Sigmon also sits on the board of the Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation.

Kristal Clark

Regional Sales Manager, Pacific Southwest Region, Ruiz Foods

Smith is an active member of the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Peggy Broccoli Manager, Front End Operations, ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. (SRS)

Responsible for all aspects of customer/supplier relationships in her area, Clark worked with retailers to learn about their business, share relevant research, present new items and create promotions.

Broccoli oversaw front end operations for 35 stores across two states and was the point of contact for several corporate giving partnerships.

She secured new customers, overcame customer challenges, launched pilot programs, successfully reintroduced products and increased customer business by double digits.

She bolstered awareness and funds for local veterans and food banks, with a record $1 million raised; rolled out a new scheduling program; reduced bag expense by $29,000; and was part of a President’s Task Force developing business strategy.

For her efforts, Clark was named “The Big Cheese” by the Southern California Dairy Deli Bakery Council, and received the President’s Award from the Food Industries Sales Managers’ Club of Los Angeles.

Broccoli participated in the SRS Woman’s Leadership Group and serves as a board member for Hudson Valley Honor Flight; she also received an SRS award for her support of local veterans.

Adamson leads a women’s group at Riceland, and she was a member of the 13th Leadership Arkansas Class, a program that recruits highly motivated people to experience the dynamic interactions among cities, industries and governmental units.

Sarah Daubman Corporate Dietitian, ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. (SRS)

Daubman led a team of 10 dietitians who developed programs for 35 stores, and oversaw such initiatives as a mobile app and a Meals Made Well merchandising cart. She guided the execution of lean-beef case training and an in-store merchandising contest to equip retail dietitians to identify lean cuts of beef and educate consumers about them, and additionally helped create an in-store health-and-wellness ambassador program. Daubman received a Young Dietitian of the Year Award from the New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and is an active community volunteer.

Directing Rouses’ creative, media and public relations efforts, Nathan also managed the content for the company’s recently revamped website and was marketing lead on décor, through which she oversaw stores’ interior design. She helped introduce the company’s first-ever sports marketing vendor program, as Rouses is currently the Official Supermarket of the New Orleans Saints, and a new search engine marketing campaign she oversaw resulted in a 24.6 percent increase in website traffic. Nathan secured a partnership with the Italian Trade Agency and helped unveil a private label line of authentic Italian products.

Lisa Hodgkinson

Director of Grocery, ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. (SRS)

The company’s first female director of grocery, Hodgkinson was responsible for devising and implementing pricing strategies, setting department budgets, managing vendor relationships and developing strong partnerships within store teams, among other duties. Her efforts led the company in annual sales, share of business and net profit increases in 2018. Hodgkinson started a women’s leadership group at SRS to help develop future female leaders, and in 2018, she received the Product Director of the Year Award and a YWCA Tribute to Women & Industry (TWIN) award.





2019 Top Women in Grocery Carol Schultz

Director of Pharmacy; HIPAA Privacy Officer, ShopRite Supermarkets, Inc. (SRS)

Schultz directed the pharmacy operation for 17 pharmacies in 35 locations; as a HIPAA officer, she oversaw all policies and procedures covering patient health information to ensure the company’s compliance. She helped increase flu immunization by nearly 25 percent, led prescription growth by 2.35 percent and improved net profit by 52 percent; also, her work was pivotal in the recent acquisition of a pharmacy. Schultz is a state-registered pharmacist in New Jersey, an immunizing pharmacist and a member of the New York State Chain Pharmacy Association.

Hsing-Yi Hsieh Food Protection and Regulatory Affairs Director, Skogen’s Festival Foods

Hsieh directed Festival Foods’ food safety and regulatory compliance programs and led a team responsible for the review of all product labels. She transformed the company’s food safety program to a risk management model and enhanced the organization’s food safety culture, led the transition to a new temperature-monitoring system in all stores, started weights-and-measures regulatory training, and debuted the Food Protection and Regulatory Excellence Awards. Hsieh serves on the Wisconsin Food Safety Advisory Committee, among her many other professional affiliations.

Jenny Hyde

Iris Hammerman

Regional Manager, Pacific Northwest, Soylent

Hyde maintained top-performing markets for the company in the Pacific Northwest, managing brokers and distribution partners while collaborating with Soylent’s marketing team. She drove a 70 percent increase in market share for Soylent in the first year, bringing in Albertsons’ Safeway banner and playing an integral role in opening Supervalu and two retail direct store delivery partners. Hyde encouraged retailers to take advantage of the Soylent for Good charitable initiatives to aid those with food insecurities, and served as a peer mentor and leader for communication and engagement.

Regional Operations Manager, SAS Retail Services

Hammerman successfully motivated, challenged and stretched her team to ship $13 million in local assortment guide product for her client, using the customer’s in-store ordering system. She was a repeat recipient of Retail Operations Manager of the Year award, and one of her direct reports won the 2018 Retail Excellence Award. Hammerman volunteered with her religious community in her rare spare time; also passionate about talent development and mentoring of young women, she extended herself often in the business professional community and at a local college.

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Melanie Wallace Retail Client Services Manager, SAS Retail Services

Over the past year, Wallace collaborated with the GSK Retail Operations Team to transition from a dedicated retail team to incorporating its business in the Walmart syndicated team, resulting in GSK having a 241 percent return on investment versus 2017.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Stephanie Salinas

Assistant District Manager, Smart & Final

Dedra Berg

Senior Director of Marketing, Smithfield Foods

Elizabeth Di John

Marketing Director, Smithfield Foods

Berg led her team to think more strategically in many critical areas of marketing, and deployed research-based learnings to help drive continued sales growth across her portfolio of brands.

Under Di John’s leadership, Smithfield’s Eckrich brand tested and successfully executed a tiered shopper-marketing strategy that brought in a significant return on investment.

Working hand-in-hand with the GSK team allowed her to become more ingrained in the business, and to provide innovative and collaborative efforts on big initiatives.

She employed her knack for networking with subject-matter experts throughout the company, and then was able to leverage her learnings into transformational merchandising efforts in the stores she oversaw.

She established a robust planning process that is 12 to 15 months out of when programming is deployed to ensure that there is strong collaboration through interagency alignment, sales planning and retailer collaboration.

She oversaw the shopper marketing team that planned and executed 12 shopper-marketing programs at Publix in more than seven categories across four Smithfield brands; in total, dollar sales and volume saw increases as a result of the support.

Wallace continued to drive the team to overdeliver on expectations, as well as to advance her own career development while sharing her considerable knowledge with other managers.

Volunteering her time throughout the year in the communities she serves, she participated in the Fresno Heart Walk and devoted time to the Poverello House, in Fresno, Calif.

Berg and her team were named Walmart’s 2019 Meat and Seafood Supplier of the Year, and she led training and development within her team to ignite personal and professional growth.

With oversight of total national brand budgets for both Eckrich and Nathan’s, Di John has run successful sponsorship programs with EPSN, college football and Major League Baseball.

Since her promotion from store manager to assistant district manager in 2018, Salinas has delivered bestin-class results in shrink, food safety, customer service and labor management.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Andrea Anson

Director of Quality Assurance, Compliance and Food Safety, SpartanNash

Anson strengthened SpartanNash’s quality assurance and food safety programs for private brands by developing an internal process to streamline the lifecycle of consumer feedback, product testing, manufacturer approval and specification retention; the effort saved the company more than $200,000.

Allison Benczkowski

Director, Corporate Communications, SpartanNash

Benczkowski led the development of SpartanNash’s new employment brand strategy and career site, working with all areas of the company and key leaders to support talent acquisition and retention; the new site has averaged more than 22,000 visitors per month since going live in August 2018.

She led the company’s initiative to provide cleaner product offerings and helped reformulate labels to provide clearer information about ingredients.

She directed a cross-functional team to evaluate digital solutions that can connect associates company-wide, and remained the project liaison with IT and other stakeholders.

Anson played a significant role in SpartanNash’s selection as the exclusive private-brand product supplier to the military.

Benczkowski was recognized as part of the SpartanNash 100 Club after volunteering more than 100 hours in the calendar year.

Hilary Mayes Community Engagement and Foundation Specialist, SpartanNash

In her expanded role in 2018, Mayes led and managed SpartanNash Foundation initiatives, which resulted in a $1.5 million impact across 16 states and 210 organizations. She developed and launched an online volunteer-tracking system that led to an increase of 500 associates submitting hours, in addition to eliminating paper tracking forms. Building on an associate engagement initiative that Mayes developed in 2017, she led the expansion of the Community Captains program across all business units, and created its onboarding and transition plans.


Mary Jennifer Talicuran

Director, Business Segment Accounting, Military Division, SpartanNash

In 2018, Talicuran took on full responsibility for the military finance and accounting department for a military division of SpartanNash; she developed a plan to make the department more efficient, and to build a culture of teamwork and respect. She worked with supply chain executive leadership to develop financial analysis and reporting, even though this work was outside of her job responsibilities. Talicuran also led the development of cost-tracking tools and cost estimate assumptions related to a distribution center process breakdown.

Traci Donnelly

Corporate Human Resources Director, SpartanNash

Donnelly implemented a pilot retiree discount program in Michigan, which had 69 percent of eligible retirees participating in its first months. She redesigned the orientation and onboarding program for corporate employees, rolling out company-wide training for sexual harassment in the wake of the #metoo movement. Donnelly led the implementation of a new TPA (third-party administrator) for income and employment verification and unemployment claims processing, resulting in a $50,000 cost reduction as well as improved quality of information for verifications and improved accuracy of internal department information.

Pam Waldin

Area Sales Manager, Military Sales Division, SpartanNash

During the pilot of a new computer-assisted ordering (CAO) system, Waldin worked with store operations to make sure that stores had the right products to meet their customers’ needs; as a result of her hard work, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) asked her to serve as training liaison for the rollout of the CAO system to additional commissaries. As DeCA introduced its new private label initiative, she developed a plan to ensure that stores were ordering enough products. Waldin received a SpartanNash Innovation award for her role in hurricane preparedness during Hurricane Florence.


Kimberly Gillen Director of Food Distribution Solutions, SpartanNash

Gillen developed a Customer Service Center of Excellence team specifically to streamline efficiency, consistently handle calls with the right sense of urgency, minimize the impact of a problem’s duration and reduce the number of recurring problems. She spearheaded the development of more than 80 vignettes produced to support turnkey training for internal associates and customers on new programs that are being introduced. In recognition of her volunteer efforts, Gillen received the 2018 Innovation Award for Hurricane Preparedness and the 2018 Certificate of Achievement for putting in at least 100 volunteer hours.

Dana From

Director of Brand Marketing, Sprouts Farmers Market

From helped develop marketing initiatives to launch Sprouts’ grocery delivery service via a partnership with Instacart; she built strong internal partnerships and processes, engaging cross-functional teams to support this new and critical business initiative. She led private label brand positioning, including packaging designs and promotion, for six brands; her efforts helped Sprouts’ private label sales reach a record 13 percent of total company sales. At a meeting for support officer team members, From was recognized by Sprouts executive leadership with the Learning & Growing Together values award.


Giddy Abboud

Innovation Manager, Stop & Shop

Abboud delivered multiple technology-focused pilots to improve the customer shopping experience, including Scan It! mobile pay, beer pairing and an item-locator kiosk; she additionally signed the first commercial pilot agreement with Robomart to offer on-demand, self-driving stores. She drafted Stop & Shop’s Customer Centric Ecosystem Vision and developed key health innovation partnerships. Abboud represented Stop & Shop at the MIT Supply Chain Roundtable on Retail Strategy and was a panelist at the Supply Chain Innovation Night at Venture Cafe; she also volunteered with organizations focusing on kids.

Randi Laflamme Category Manager of Beverage, Stop & Shop

Laflamme’s team outpaced total store sales growth throughout 2018; her efforts culminated in the direct store delivery beverage team leading raw dollar growth among all category groups within Stop & Shop. Well known for her people skills, she assimilated a new team on the beverage desk, including many associates who were completely new to the merchandising organization. Laflamme helped develop and teach a ground-up training program for all merchandising associates; the program was a key asset in associate development across the entire Stop & Shop merchandising organization.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Jacqui Buckley Director of Store Deployment and Change Management, Stop & Shop

Buckley helped identify and deliver $75 million in savings initiatives across the Stop & Shop brand, and she drove and supported the store communications team and the rollout of Office 365. During a time of transition, she took on a special assignment in merchandising and assisted with new-hire training. A graduate of the Network of Executive Women Executive MBA certification through Kellogg University, Buckley volunteers regularly in her spare time at a local food bank and with Neighbor to Neighbor, a program providing food and meals for families in need.

Christine McCormack

Category ManagerFrozen, Stop & Shop

During a time of change at Stop & Shop, McCormack led the frozen category to deliver on profit metrics and to exceed bottom-line numbers. With a new structure and team in place, she focused on people development, helping to train new category analysts and assistant store managers, and sharing best practices. McCormack and her husband annually support a group of Special Olympians from western Massachusetts by purchasing dinner for all of the coaches and athletes on the first night of the summer games; she also organizes a movie event for a learning-disabled group.

Gianna Farrell Produce/Floral Specialist, Stop & Shop

When a major competitor entered her district, Farrell built a strategic plan to impact positive sales; the produce and floral departments subsequently ended the year with significant sales increases versus the prior year.

Heidy Jodice

Meat and Seafood Specialist, Stop & Shop

Jodice delivered key metrics and exceeded goals within the meat and seafood department, including exceptional sanitation scores and sales.

Valentine’s Day sales in her district exceeded those in other Northeast markets.

She set the standards for the brand’s seafood road shows, which are merchandising displays geared toward increasing sales in both meat and seafood.

Farrell led fundraising events for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign; for the past three years, she’s been a mentor for the Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of Rhode Island; and she regularly mentors other associates at the company to help develop their skills to enable career advancement.

In a time of need, Jodice took the initiative to step in and oversee 130 locations for her supervisor on a temporary basis, and during that time, she drove item sales that were typically negative in seven districts; she additionally achieved the highest sales within the market in the scallop category.

Francesca Palmiero

Anne Souza

Finance Manager, Stop & Shop

Palmiero successfully led the financial support for Stop & Shop’s first market renewal, in the the Hartford, Conn., market. She fostered relationships with a cross-functional team, which resulted in working discussions, collaboration and continuous dialogue; the team developed a focused stores program in each district, and by year’s end, profitability had increased in six out of eight districts. Palmiero helped create and execute a money management training game used in the associate store manager development process; she’s also an adjunct professor at Fordham University, teaching financial modeling.

Front End Specialist, Stop & Shop

Responsible for all stores in Stop & Shop’s District 311, Souza worked with the leadership teams from operations, asset protection and center store to build a comprehensive plan toward reducing shrink in the stores; in addition, she created training documentation for the front end. To help reduce cash loss, she partnered with the cash office specialists and created a training document for stores to use on a weekly basis. Souza implemented a cashier “closing” policy that thanks customers for choosing Stop & Shop; the initiative helped improve cashier friendliness results.




2019 Top Women in Grocery Melissa Husul

Manager of Accounting and Payroll, Tops Markets LLC

As Husul transitioned into a newly created position that combined the tasks of corporate accounting and distribution center reporting, she elevated the responsibilities and performance of not only herself, but also her entire team; her approach delivered an operating plan that was 6 percent better than budget. She worked with suppliers to reduce costs for operational supplies in the distribution center; in one example, she was able to reduce shrink-wrap expenses by up to 15 percent. Additionally, Husul introduced dashboard reporting, which simplified the process of generating the distribution center management reports.

Shannon Fallon

Director, Brand Management, Package Design and Customer Insights, UNFI/Blue Marble Brands

With a team of brand managers and graphic designers, Fallon led brand strategy, package design and digital content for more than 30 brands and 8,000 products; she also headed an analytics team for consumer trends and insights to support brand strategy. In a busy year, Fallon created a digital marketing team, developed an ecommerce strategy and enhanced consumer experience on digital platforms, including more than 10 million impressions on social media. In just the past year, she led and implemented rebrand strategies for Koyo (ramen), Vikos (Greek feta), Tumaro’s (wraps) and Rising Moon (frozen ravioli).


Mary Ellen Prentice

Controller of Operational Accounting, Tops Markets LLC

Prentice was promoted to a director-level role and grew her positive influence during a challenging year for the company as it filed for, and ultimately emerged from, Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Alexandra Tamutus

Corporate Counsel and Assistant Secretary, Tops Markets LLC

As Tops entered Chapter 11 in early 2018 and emerged from bankruptcy in late 2018, Tamutus was pivotal in helping obtain favorable terms, covenants and conditions.


Laurie Casagrande

Business Development/ Project Manager, UNFI

Casagrande ensured that customers had a seamless onboarding process, partnered with the legal department during contract negotiations and secured contract renewals for top customers.

She led process improvements related to accounts-receivable collection activities that led to the reduction of amounts greater than 30 days past due, and to a direct positive contribution to cash of more than $4 million.

She successfully renegotiated a number of key procurement and supply contracts, along with numerous real estate leases, all of which helped Tops emerge from bankruptcy and keep and maintain its core business and store base.

She pioneered the Diversity by Design initiative to promote diversity in company leadership, and outside of her responsibilities at UNFI, held leadership roles with the Network of Executive Women’s New England chapter.

Prentice helped identify a breakdown in the company’s process for identifying and billing vendors for amounts due that were related to discontinued items; this resulted in the billing and collection of $1.5 million in additional annual income.

Tamutus’ role within the company was elevated when she joined its leadership team last summer, and she was appointed to be the assistant secretary to Tops and its new board of directors upon the company’s emergence from bankruptcy.

Community is important for Casagrande as a leader on the Helping Hands committee, which encourages UNFI associates to volunteer; the committee ranked second, out of more than 30, based on metrics for volunteerism and engagement.

Carolyn Gullikson

Manager, Safety and Food Safety, UNFI/Cub Foods

Gullikson spent time in all 53 corporate and 26 franchise-owned Cub Foods stores across Minnesota, monitoring and training best practices for safety and food safety initiatives. She created the Food Safety World Series, a fun program in which stores are rewarded for the number of consecutive green food-safety audits they earn; for example, the “Hall of Fame,” nine green audits in a row, earns the stores so designated lunch and a savings day. Gullikson’s food safety training sessions for associates and weekly tips to share during stores’ daily huddles helped the company see its best results in 10 years.

Mary Jo Neuman

Manager of Banner Customer Service, UNFI/Cub Foods

Improving customer perception is Neuman’s specialty; doing this included creating initiatives that have resulted in record-setting customer service scores. Her “Crazy Calendar” was 30 days of intense focus in select stores to create associate events, customer events and real-time coaching, while her customer appreciation days were themed events in the stores for kids and families. Neuman launched huge grand-opening celebrations; Operation Orange, a focused approach to customer service during store remodels; Heart of Cub, which enables customers to recognize associates; and a big Cub 50th anniversary event.

Tara Thommes

Category ManagerGM/HBC/Seasonal/ Candy/Pet, UNFI/ Cub Foods

Thommes was responsible for the profit and loss, vendor management and negotiation, merchandise displays, promotional planning, direct forecasting, and assortment strategy for several categories across center store for UNFI Retail. In 2018, she developed the strongest Black Friday program in recent history, more than doubling last year’s sales while up against a successful program from the previous year. Despite a heavy workload, Thommes volunteered in her spare time with the County 4-H Club, the St. Croix County Fair, the Susan G. Komen walk, the local food pantry, and other local fundraisers and organizations.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Stephanie Propp

National HR Director, UNFI/ Human Resources

Kimberly Friel

Manager of Indirect Procurement, Wakefern Food Corp.

In 2018, Propp led the HR function of two divestitures — the Farm Fresh and Shop ‘n Save retail banner chains — and was a key stakeholder in understanding the purchase agreement and obligations, as well as working with the new buyers.

Working closely with other divisions, Friel handled procurement, cost management, communication and analytics for about $500 million in spending annually across four retail banners, and was responsible for 350 stores, from Buffalo, N.Y., to Woodbridge, Va.

Since UNFI purchased Supervalu in 2018, she has worked closely with executive leaders to integrate the companies, requiring a lot of detailed planning that’s stressful for both leaders and associates.

With the schedules and business processes she instituted to attack more than $500 million in spend, she saved approximately $25 million in 2018, on top of the $14 million that she saved in 2017.

Leading a team of 12 HR professionals, Propp is a Gallup-Certified Strengthsfinders coach to help develop talent and maximize performance.

Friel is a member of Wakefern’s strategic initiatives team, which focuses heavily on the top and bottom lines, as well as people and process improvements.

Ann Murphy

Manager of Vendor Management Office, Wakefern Food Corp.

She created and executed a technology road map, which required automating much of the company’s internal data to allow the procurement divisions to have insight into the company’s performance in real time; this model considers everything surrounding procurement and has more than 1 billion rows of data.

She was the guiding force behind 100,000 demonstration events last year and worked closely with the marketing team to develop special events such as grand openings, parking lot activations and themed promotional days.

Murphy built out business plans to foster long-term strategic conversations on removing costs, improving business performance and becoming a valued trading partner.

Store Director, Albertsons #0226, Sherman, Texas

Coffey has won two Southern Division President Cup Store Challenges, which are based on a strict grading criterion, according to which recipients are selected at a division and district level, and a minimum standard must be met even to be considered.

Coffey actively participates in such organizations as Shared Ministries, the Master Key Food Pantry and Sherman’s Noon Lions Club.

Demo and Event Team Leader, Whole Foods Market

In 2018, Hewlett launched a bestin-class consolidated sampling program across all U.S. and Canadian Whole Foods Market stores to ensure an elevated, consistent shopper experience.

She was honored as Employer of the Year by Goodwill Industries for supporting hiring programs for the industry and making special efforts to match available jobs to the industry’s applicants.


Rachel Hewlett

Murphy oversaw 18 associates responsible for price and promotion optimization across all pricing zones and Wakefern banners.

Deborah Coffey

Store Managers


To manage the events and programs, Hewlett and the Interactions team developed a proprietary web-based platform to facilitate event requests from guest suppliers and to provide event calendar visibility.

Rhonda Neal

Store Director, Albertsons #4187, Mesquite, Texas

Neal has mentored many leaders at Albertsons, running the gamut from fellow store directors to district managers. Among other metrics, she surpassed goals for sales contests in her division, in one instance taking first place for selling Nature’s Bounty Vitamins and earning a $1,000 prize. A cancer survivor herself – she beat stage-two triple-negative aggressive breast cancer in 2007 – Neal is dedicated to raising money to fight the disease, and has participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure since 1996, when her sister-in-law was first diagnosed with cancer.

Dana Barba Assistant VP, Shopper Marketing

Hillary Garland Group Director, Category Strategic Advisory - West Region

Lori Kassabian

Tracy Nickerson

Group Director, Customer Decision Support

Senior Category Strategic Advisory Manager

Melissa Covert Field Director, Customer Management

Abbey Griswold

Holley Hunter

Senior Shopping Marketing Manager

Senior National Account Executive, SEG

Nikki Tate

Margie Boyar

Senior Shoper Marketing Manager

Director, Customer Development

Jill Crimmins

Brandy Harris

Director, Customer Development

Director, Customer Development

CHEERS TO YOU For being selected as one of Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery. Thank you for refreshing the world, inspiring moments of optimism and happiness, creating value, and making a difference through your remarkable contributions.

Š2019 The Coca-Cola Company

Camille Thompson Senior Director, Customer Management


2019 Top Women in Grocery Heather RoachLineberry Store Director, Albertsons #177, Boise, Idaho

Roach-Lineberry tackled challenges, resulting in continued success and providing opportunities to run larger stores, improving sales and EBITDA at each of the locations she managed. She won store of the quarter in Q1 and Q2 of this year, and is in second place for store of the quarter for Q4; she was also vital in the turnaround of Store #131, which is close to being profitable. A coach and mentor with a particular aptitude for merchandising excellence and financial acumen, Roach-Lineberry focused on her team with strong communication, integrity in leadership, and a positive attitude.

Diolita Abel

Store Director, Defense Commissary Agency, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

During architectural and refrigeration upgrades to her store, Abel ensured that it was fully operational and prepared to meet customers’ needs. Her store achieved $9 million in sales during the April-September 2018 time frame, with an immediate sales increase of more that 1 percent after the upgrades noted above were completed. When Hurricane Michael struck, necessitating a mandatory evacuation, Abel worked tirelessly to confirm the safety of every member of her staff; just two weeks after the devastating storm, the Tyndall commissary was the first organization to reopen, providing much-needed community support.


Brenda Velarde

Store Director, Albertsons #1760, Pueblo West, Colo.

Over the past two years, Velarde has increased year-over-year sales and exceeded her sales projections by 5 percent, despite being located in an area of economic decline. She was a leader in the district among all the other store directors, assisting the district manager in many tasks, including Empower training, writing effective schedules and mentoring various new store directors in everyday operations. Velarde continuously pushed her team to achieve new heights through great planning and execution; thanks to her efforts, her store won silver in the Best of Pueblo two years in a row.

Cynthia Blair

Store Director, Defense Commissary Agency, Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan

Quickly adapting to a new category process improvement program, Blair reset more than 50 categories within her store; the execution, speed and accuracy of these sets were the best in the zone. Faced with back-to-back typhoons, she ensured that readyto-eat groceries, water and baby needs were abundantly stocked for customers to purchase ahead of time, leading to sales exceeding $250,000 for the two days prior to the storms — the largest two-day sales period in the store’s history. Blair has personally mentored and nurtured three junior managers during this past year.

Merlyn Abrams Store Manager, Barons Market, Alpine, Calif.

In 2018, when Alpine,Calif., was struck by a destructive fire, Abrams transformed her store into a safe haven for first responders; when the store’s electricity went out, she coordinated the donation of perishable foods so that people affected by the fires could receive something to eat. Afterward, she led efforts to help rebuild the devastated area: in support of this cause, her store raised $5,000 at its Backroom Beer Pairing, a quarterly foodand-beer fundraising event. Abrams harnessed her innovation by spearheading the creation of exciting holiday gift baskets sold at Barons Market stores.

Maureen Burnetsky


Susan Main

Store Director, Big Y World Class Market, Old Saybrook and Marlborough, Conn.

Under Main’s direction, Big Y’s Old Saybrook, Conn., store saw consistent sales growth and increased profitability throughout the year, exceeding its sales budget by $1.4 million in 2018. She successfully mentored a store director trainee, overseeing his training plan, managing his technical progress, and fostering his leadership skills and management style. As the director of a Marlborough, Conn., store that opened this past January, Main has led the location to achieve sales numbers that far exceeded budgeted expectations.

Rachelle Davidson

Store Director, Defense Commisary Agency, Marine Corps Air Station, New River, N.C.

Commissary Officer, Defense Commissary Agency, Memphis Naval Support Activity Commissary, Tenn.

When Hurricane Florence hit, dumping more than 35 inches of rain on the region over six days, Burnetsky stayed behind despite mandatory evacuation orders, providing hourly updates to headquarters on the status of the storm and the store.

Inheriting human resource issues and a store in need of repairs, Davidson improved employee job performance and oversaw facility upgrades without losing a single business operating day.

Despite extensive damage to the store and her own home, which was hit by a tornado during the storm, she and her team were able to reopen the location on a limited basis to serve the community only eight days after the mandatory evacuation. Burnetsky’s location was in the top 5 percent of commissaries with 100 percent accountability of all equipment.

She cooperated with vendors and community leaders to host sidewalk sales and Midnight Madness events, and coordinated sponsorships of family groups, improving customer traffic and community engagement. Long-term customers wrote letters of appreciation to leadership, noting the positive changes at the store since her arrival and commending her consistent availability and accessibility.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Mary L. Winters Store Manager, Dillons #54, Topeka, Kan.

Winters’ store served as the pilot for the Scan, Bag, Go program, which introduced customers to self-check and self-pay; the seamless rollout garnered local media attention and increased the store’s ecommerce sales by 38.1 percent.

Nicole Eckhardt Store Director, Family Fare, Wyoming, Mich.

Eckhardt received a 2018 SpartanNash Innovation Award for working with her store’s bakery manager to develop a shrink-reduction practice that has been shared company-wide.

A hands-on manager who was fully engaged with department heads and associates, she walked the store daily and coached department heads.

She executed a center store back-room process that reduced total store out-of-stocks, reduced back-room inventory on hand, and ultimately increased center store sales; her store was used to train other stores on this practice.

Passionate about supporting Vietnam War veterans from the Topeka, Kan., area, Winters worked with her store team to gather food and other necessities for vets at the local VA Hospital.

Under Eckhardt’s leadership, a training initiative that helps new associates build a rapport with their department managers helped reduce employee turnover at the store by 17.6 percent.

Amanda Salwasser

Store Director, Festival Foods, Eau Claire, Wis.

Salwasser’s store’s 11.34 percent EBITA as a percentage of sales was substantially higher than the 4.14 percent company average; in 2018, she maintained 93 percent of the previous year’s sales, even with two new Festival Foods locations opening in the same market during that time. Her store’s 2018 labor rate (without administration) was 7.26 percent, below the average store labor rate of 9.27 percent. One of just three female store directors among 32 Festival Foods locations, Salwasser serves as a role model for associates and department leaders.


Annette Johnson

Store Manager, Food Lion Store #1624, Virginia Beach, Va.

Johnson led her store to a customer count increase over last year, adding thousands of shoppers even as her location underwent an extensive renovation. She developed a passion for having the fastest checkout in the chain’s Southeast region, which greatly helped drive and retain the customer count increase her store experienced. This past year, Johnson received Food Lion’s Regional Store Award and ultimately garnered the banner’s highest accolade, Store Manager of the Year, beating out more than 1,000 candidates.

Amy Jacobs

Store Manager, Fred Meyer #660, Wood Village, Ore.

Jacobs had a direct impact on customer satisfaction and perception, earning top achievements within key Fred Meyer metrics, including product availability for customers using online ordering, customer perception of freshness of produce items, and customer perception of freshness of meat products. She influenced a positive shopping experience for her customers, with her store testing more than 66 percent higher in overall satisfaction than the district average. Jacobs created an inclusive, upbeat and motivating place to work, as evidenced by her location’s low associate turnover, which beats the district average by 13 percent.



2019 Top Women in Grocery

Michelle Winn

Dawn Goldstein

Store Director, Fred Meyer #214, Spokane, Wash.

Winn led the charge with audits designed to improve shrink results to bring shrink to 88 percent, one of the best results for the year, 44 basis points better than last year and 34 basis points below the 2018 goal. She created a place where associates want to work and customers want to shop; her store beat the annualized turnover rate goal and exceeded the district overtime stretch goal. Winn was able to lead her team to one of the top three sales increases in the district, despite increased competition from a Costco that opened within 2 miles of her location.

Store Director, The Fresh Grocer of Grays Ferry, Philadelphia

Kelsie Shofner

Goldstein helped build beer and wine sales in a previous location that she managed in 2018 by 13 percent over the prior year through wine tastings and working with vendors.

Shofner had the best retention numbers in her district, earning praise from colleagues for her consistently upbeat and ambitious attitude, and forward-thinking, results-oriented approach.

At her new location, understanding that the store serves a diverse customer group and merchandises accordingly, she ran a profitable operation and consistently hit her budgets for labor, store supplies, gross profit and shrink.

Despite one of the most extensive Fry’s remodels in the banner’s history, her store beat its annualized goal for retention.

Goldstein teamed with community groups to build store-level engagement such as an effort for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a group fighting childhood cancer.


Heidi Kimble

Store Manager, Fry’s #125, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Committed to STARS (Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services), a community-based program (and Fry’s partner) that helps people with developmental and cognitive disabilities learn vital working skills, Shofner helped develop Fry’s STARS associates on the job.

Senior Store Leader, Giant Eagle Store #4032, Stow, Ohio

A senior store leader for the past two years, a store leader for seven and a Giant Eagle veteran of more than three decades, Kimble beat her sales budget in year-over-year sales during a particularly competitive time in the grocery industry. Her store was consistently in the Top 20 for sales growth in regard to the company’s new Curbside & Delivery service. A master trainer and member of Giant Eagle’s women’s business resource group, Kimble helped develop three store leaders and one senior team leader; she also volunteered extensively in her local community.

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2019 Top Women in Grocery Jessica Shoben

Senior Dual Store Leader, Giant Eagle Stores #58 and #59, Morgantown, W.Va.

Responsible for all aspects of two stores, Shoben closely monitored the challenging conditions of the West Virginia region that her locations serve, and managed to overcome them. Sales at both of her stores continued to increase during a very difficult time in the industry, and total store gross margin also exceeded budget in both stores; Shoben continued to control grocery-operating expenses in both stores, outpacing budgets. Shoben achieved a safety result of no team-member lost time, and her guest satisfaction score in one location trended up 4 percent over last year.

Susan Fearnbaugh

Store Manager, Giant Food Store #6485, Mount Joy, Pa.

A hands-on store manager who’s always ready to lend a hand by performing such tasks as traying up holiday cookies when the bakery is short-handed, Fearnbaugh collaborated among store departments on a weekly basis to develop a merchandising plan, select sales items, and review the sales plan and floor layout. In this way, she and her team achieved total store sales growth of 8.5 percent, and 28 percent in fresh categories. She interviewed every candidate for her location, which was named Store of the Year in 2017 by Giant.


Heather Wade Store Manager, Giant Food #249, Landover, Md.

Wade started 2018 as an asset protection manager, and then transitioned to store manager, quickly achieving 1.25 percent positive identical-store sales in December by executing the sales plan, managing the team and ensuring store standards were met; her store’s profit and loss continued to show improvement, including an increase in underlying earnings before income and taxes. She also saw increases in sales over budget, and savings in controlled labor. Wade identified an opportunity to improve shrink in her store, put processes in place and coached her team on the process.

Laurie Drake

Store Manager, Hannaford, Queensbury, N.Y.

It has been said of Drake that she has made her store into a No. 1 training site by surrounding herself with managers “that just get it”; she’s also known for identifying associates with potential and providing training so that they can move ahead.

Sherry Beitler

Store Manager, Giant Food Store #6539, Harrisburg, Pa.

Beitler and her team trained and promoted 17 associates in 2018; she used the “One Team” concept to show employees how important it is to work as a store, brand and district team, and helped train at other stores as well. She spoke with all store staffers individually about career goals on a monthly basis to make sure that their goals were on track. Beitler led her store to achieve a 4 percent comparable-sales increase even though a competitor had opened a half-mile away; she also took the initiative to show community support for the local high school basketball team.

Jenn Moore

Store Director, Hannaford, Lunenburg, Mass.

Moore surpassed many of her store’s goals in 2018, outperforming its budget by 4.86 percent; the location’s total shrink numbers were bettered by $90,000, and sales growth was more than 7 percent.

Her 2018 sales were even better than last year, thanks to an increased focus on merchandising, in-stock conditions and quality control.

Her store’s food safety average was 96 percent, and its workplace safety average was 97 percent, while its immunization count, budgeted at 933, was actually 1,112.

Drake used the Power of You program to help associates learn that they can take care of customer needs in the moment; the program has positively affected customers who no longer need to wait to speak with a manager.

A member of the diversity and inclusion district committee, Moore co-led the first Pride parade in Worcester, Mass, and she also received the 2018 Ronald C. Hodge Retailer of the Year award.


Hiba Daher

Store Manager, Giant Food Store #6335, Whitehall, Pa.

Daher created a “One Team” setting in her store, encouraging all associates to work together in a family-like atmosphere, and creating a store wall with photos of associates to showcase accomplishments. Her store was rated a top performer in her district for cashier friendliness and speed; the location also had one of the lowest shrink levels in the district, which she credited to the associates becoming more organized. Daher made videos of associates helping others at charities such as Second Harvest Food Bank, and planned a store manager holiday party.

Cheryl Rondenelli

Store Manager, Hannaford, Utica, N.Y.

A longtime store manager known for her exemplary leadership, Rondenelli made each associate aware of how their position contributed to overall operations; she did this by supporting her employees, challenging them to perform and, most of all, teaching her team. To be more competitive, she took a closer look at operations to ensure that customers could do all of their shopping in one stop by meeting previously unmet customer needs. Running a full, fresh, aggressivly merchandised store, Rondenelli increased its variety of ethnic items to meet the needs of the location’s community.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Elaine Chassagne

Store Manager, Harris Teeter Store #311, Holly Springs, N.C.

Chassagne’s store achieved three store sales records in 2018 and maintained double-digit sales growth all year. She took on the challenge of increasing fresh food sales growth, working with department leadership to improve computer-assisted ordering, department conditions and service; as a result of her efforts, department sales increased by 31 percent in the third quarter, with fresh food ranking second in the entire company in the Boar’s Head fresh-sliced program. Chassagne’s store continued to have the highest controllable profit and the highest operating profit percentage in her district.

Jen Kopriva

Store Director, Ankeny North HyVee, Ankeny, Iowa

Kopriva held several corporate positions such as assistant VP and VP, but in May 2018, she decided to return to retail and become a store director; her success in her new role was seen in increased store sales and profit.

Jennifer McMahon

Store Director, Harris Teeter Store #210, Wilmington, N.C.

McMahon led her store to several financial successes in the fiscal year, among them exceeding $2.7 million in net profit, year-to-date controllable profit of 17.48 percent and operating profit of 8.51 percent, making it No. 1 in the district. Her store’s scorecard averaged 81.3 year to date, exceeding company expectations; although an Earth Fare location opened close by, her store managed to maintain a positive sales trend of 5.63 percent. In the past 12 months, McMahon’s location was one of the few that achieved 100 percent in successfully training new hires on time.

Charnita Gordon Store Director, Jewel-Osco #2160, Palos Park, Ill.

Gordon created a culture that fosters empowerment, accountability and inclusion.

Her store, which she previously oversaw as a regional VP, consistently posted 4 percent to 5 percent monthly sales increases over the previous year.

Her team worked together to increase sales — Q1 1.9 percent, Q2 1.43 percent, Q3 4.0 percent and Q4 1 percent — all over the prior year; she also obtained full compliance with food safety; and her direction earned the store first place in customer service for the district.

When two police officers were ambushed and killed in 2018 in Des Moines and Urbandale, Iowa, Hy-Vee, under Kopriva’s direction, stepped up to offer financial and material support; she and the company were recognized for their contribution.

Gordon successfully coached, trained and developed three associates who are now self-sufficient in the departments they oversee; she also mentored five female store directors and three female assistant store directors within the company.


Michelle Sandoval

Store Director, Harris Teeter Store #003, Charlotte, N.C.

Sandoval debuted her store with grand-opening sales of more than $500,000 and subsequently averaged more than $516,000; in September 2018, she broke a sales record of $638,000, with year-to-date sales up 22 percent over last year. She looked for ways to promote Harris Teeter in the community; her store is in a developing area, so she assembled promotional welcome packets. Her store was added to a short list of six exceptional stores to train all new managers in the Harris Teeter Management Development Program for the southern region.

Tracy Budd

Store Manager, King Soopers #76, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Budd drew on her collaborative leadership, team-building and execution skills when introducing the Our Purpose and Promise program in her district, which resulted in a significant decrease in shrink and an increase in retention. She was recognized by her peers with the Manager of the Year 1St Team Award, given to a store manager who exemplifies strong leadership skills, great financial results and a passion for connecting with people. Budd’s previous manager post, at King Soopers #43, allowed the Pueblo, Colo., store to achieve its first and only million-dollar holiday week.


Marcie Casey

Store Director, West Des Moines Hy-Vee Drug Store, West Des Moines, Iowa

Casey led the opening of two stores; one of the locations was a brand-new store in rural Iowa, which was a new concept for the area and transformed the shopping experience there. Next, she was asked to lead a new urban-concept store in downtown Des Moines, the first of its kind in the chain. Most recently, she transitioned to lead one of Hy-Vee’s drug stores in West Des Moines. The drug store format is challenging, with many competitors, but Casey continued to find ways to compete, promoting the store to grow sales by talking with customers on the floor and creating advertising promos.

Stevie Hernandez

Store Manager, King Soopers #79, Cheyenne, Wyo.

Hernandez, a self-starter who embraces new ideas and creates innovative ideas, led her team to a 3.09 percent increase in sales in 2018, and her store to be named the best grocery store in the state of Wyoming for the third year in a row. She was chosen to attend the Kroger Leadership Academy for high-potential managers. Hernandez challenged her team to become more involved with the community and build relationships, which resulted in a recognition program that awards a gift basket or party tray to local businesses that provide services to the community.

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Jennifer Arnold Store Manager, Kroger #368, Frankfort, Ky.

Arnold was charged with reversing negative customer count, growing sales, improving morale, saving a failing ecommerce department and restoring consumer confidence in her store, and succeeded on all counts. She led her team to grow average weekly sales by $19,000 per week and the average sale per customer by 0.49 percent. Strongly valuing Kroger’s relationship with the community, Arnold worked with Hope for Heroes, a local veterans group, on store events that collect for veterans in need, and led her store to place as a top performer in a Cram the Cruiser event, at which food is collected for local food pantries.

Seherzada Jelovac

Store Manager, Kroger #318, Atlanta

Focusing largely on day-to-day conditions and out-of-stocks, Jelovac led her team to a significant improvement in both sales and operations of her store: Sales increased 4.8 percent in both produce and deli, meat sales grew more than 6 percent, and shrink dropped by half. Her team created a culture of teaching, coaching and training to improve retention in the competitive Atlanta job market, reducing turnover by more 15 percent over the course of 2018. Passionate about developing associates, Jelovac served as a mentor and trainer for new management trainees in her district.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Krista Burson

Store Leader, Kroger #820, Mount Vernon, Ohio

By building relationships and listening to the needs of her team, Burson increased associate engagement and morale and achieved measurable results — a 3 percent increase in engagement in the annual associate insight survey, and a ranking in the top 4 percent of her division. She fostered team building through charitable events benefiting the American Cancer Society, a local police department, a local animal shelter and area schools, and provided Kroger families with a Christmas meal and gifts for their children. Burson worked diligently to increase sales, control costs, limit overtime and beat her store’s shrink budget.

Molly Stiles

Store Manager, Kroger #670, Powell, Tenn.

Kristina Eyster Store Leader, Kroger #804, Delaware, Ohio

A purpose-driven leader who excels at building connections with associates, and a professional who believes that people are the most important part of the business, Eyster empowered her department heads to take ownership and held them accountable to achieve success. As store leader at a profit opportunity store, she improved shrink results and saved more than $4,000 in variable expense by encouraging her team to take pride in maintaining their respective departments. Eyster was instrumental in growing sales in her store, increasing identical-store sales results by 2.5 percent, while also increasing customer count and improving selling gross.

Kelly Kathlina

Angela Harris

Store Manager, Kroger #471, College Park, Ga.

Harris is proof that back-to-basics training and one-on-one connections with associates and customers can ignite a store’s performance: since her arrival at store #471, she has decreased average customer wait time and shrink while increasing cashier productivity and sales. Through individual meetings with staff, she identified employees with potential and placed them on individual development plans to prepare them for future roles, and identified a successor plan for all departments. Harris formed community partnerships, made fundraising a fun competitive event for the store’s team and initiated a Customer Appreciation Day.

Tami Nowaczyk

Store Director, Meijer #170, Highland, Ind.

Store Director, Meijer #108, Midland, Mich.

Stiles doggedly drove her store’s ecommerce sales to lead her division in orders and percent to total sales; the training approach that she developed for the store team set new standards for the division, and her store currently serves as a model for all division pickup departments.

Kathlina, despite the challenges of a store remodel and major road construction, maintained a customer-friendly environment and led her team to a 2.8 percent increase in same-store sales, beating the profit plan by 30 basis points and her labor plan by 20 basis points.

Her store also became the division training store for new initiatives such as waste solutions and the Effective Store Walk routine, and arnered top ratings in customer satisfaction.

She mentored 11 team members through Meijer development programs, living up to her reputation for inspiring leaders to each have a career plan and a vision for their futures.

A leader and mentor among her peers, Stiles has been recognized as Store Manager of the Year several times in both the Atlanta and Nashville divisions.

Kathlina raised her team’s engagement score by rewarding them for attaining customer service goals with innovative Fun Fridays activities.

Hailed as an effective communicator, Nowaczyk leveraged her keen ability to translate the company’s goals into actionable plans for her associates. Her talent for leading, mentoring and motivating associates, identifying the strengths of her team members and matching them to opportunities that allow them to grow while continuing to drive the business, was key to the team’s success. Active in the area that she serves, Nowaczyk led the charge during a state of emergency in the Midland, Mich., area to deliver pallets of water to the community, as well as supporting a number of local events.





2019 Top Women in Grocery Laurie Tuxhorn Store Director, Oliver’s Market, Windsor, Calif.

The first female store director for Oliver’s Market, Tuxhorn has made her location the fastest-growing in company history. Her store achieved double-digit growth and beat budgeted sales growth target by 177 basis points; year-over-year gross profit also increased by nine basis points, beating her overall budget by 16 basis points, and overall store EBITDA increased by 196 basis points year over year, beating her overall budget by 59 basis points. Tuxhorn’s innovations in her store’s Tavern operations netted a 21 percent sales increase year over year for 2018.

Kristine Petrie

Shannon Jessee

Store Manager, QFC #838, Kirkland, Wash.

Petrie made a noticeable difference in the overall presentation of her store and significantly improved financials, with yearto-date sales up 1.2 percent and gross profit up 0.4 percent. She encouraged her staff to volunteer at the local elementary school’s carnival, established store tours for preschoolers and their parents, and was instrumental in the store’s sponsorship of the local youth football team. Petrie and her team hosted a Christmas Drive, collecting toys for local families in need, and she and two managers personally delivered the toys to families on Christmas Eve morning.

Michele Lujan

Store Manager, Ralphs #683, San Marcos, Calif.

Jessee led her store to excel in 2018, increasing identical-store sales and average weekly sales, raising EBITDA for the year, and improving shrink and turnover. She managed the rollout of the Kroger waste integration program after her store was selected as the District Learning Store, meeting the program’s goals and maintaining a high standard. Jessee participated in the organization’s annual 5K run/ walk fundraiser and volunteered with Feeding America San Diego; further, along with the District 8 Promise Team she leads, she worked on Kroger’s Zero Hunger I Zero Waste program.

Store Manager, Ralphs #73, Malibu, Calif.

Lujan and her team’s dedication to the community was on display after a major wildfire ravaged the beachfront area where her store is located; while most other businesses in the area closed, Lujan and her team kept their store open to provide food, water and shelter to first responders and evacuated residents. Her leadership earned Ralphs’ Malibu store an outstanding 85 percent acknowledgement score on the company’s Overall Satisfaction survey. Lujan has won numerous awards for having the highest customer satisfaction scores in her district.

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Carrie LaPointe Store Manager, Roundy’s Metro Market #301, Brookfield, Wis.

LaPointe helped her team transform their store, working with store personnel to train, coach and change the sanitation culture, and taking the location from the worst food safety score to the most improved in mere months.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Michelle Leblanc

Store Director, Rouses Market #55, Denham Springs, La.

After joining Rouses in 2016, Leblanc was store director in two other locations before being assigned in 2018 to the flagship Denham Springs, La., location.

She was one of a handful of store managers chosen as a mentor for the division’s Leadership Essentials program, which coaches, trains and develops future store leaders.

She improved year-over-year total store margin by 79 basis points from 2017 to 2018 and reversed comp sales from negative to 5.7 percent positive, while simultaneously reducing operating expenses by $224,000.

LaPointe forged a strong relationship with the St. Dominic’s Festival in Brookfield, working with the festival chairman to save the organization a large amount of money on its food order.

Leblanc showed great leadership in mentoring her team while holding them accountable to achieve strong results; she’s also always willing to help out in her region when called upon.

Donna MadereDickerson

Store Director, Rouses Market #70, Baton Rouge, La.

In fall 2018, Madere-Dickerson took on the assignment to open Rouses’ newest location in Baton Rouge, La., near the LSU campus, after leading the team at another Baton Rouge location. Since her new store is near a university, she was highly resourceful in coming up with ideas to drive sales and cater to the student population. Possessing a flair for exceptional merchandising, especially in the fresh departments, Madere-Dickerson was a master at planning for events and holidays, setting an example for the region and raising the bar for her peers.

Holly Alton

Store Director, Safeway #2600-10, Tracy, Calif.

Alton led her store to earn a bonus in every quarter of fiscal 2018 and finished the year with a double bonus. Her store’s floral department achieved more than $140,000 in sales, placing it first in the Northern California division out of 283 stores, and in the top five in the entire company. Alston has accomplished these successes by building a solid team and creating a positive environment where employees understand their respective roles and how they contribute to the business through such means as employee contests involving all store associates.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Gabi Armenta

Store Director, Safeway #1266-14, Truckee, Calif.

Promoted in 2018 to director of store #1266-14, Armenta achieved double-digit sales increases, making her location No. 1 in the Northern California division on various occasions. Collaborating with her inventory control clerk, employees and vendors, she implemented changes on how inventory was managed in the store, which subsequently led to a cleaner, more organized backroom. Armenta works side by side with her employees to build a strong team atmosphere, leading by example and ensuring that all associates are willing to help each other to further the goals of the store.

Michelle Khider Store Director, Safeway #1483-8, San Jose, Calif.

Khider achieves stellar financial results by meeting weekly with department managers to review the current-period trajectory; after each period, she receives from each manager a full financial analysis of department sales, profit, shrink, ordering and customer service.

Lea Maxwell

Store Director, Safeway #1711-03, San Francisco

Maxwell is ranked second in her division for operating income and store gain; a particular standout is her year-over-year nonperishable shrink results, which in February 2019 showed a $173,000 improvement over the previous year.

She had the idea to move bulk foods from the front of the store to the back, thereby improving her store metrics.

She leads her district in many financial metrics, specifically in the Own Brands categories, for which she is at the top of the district’s results.

Khider fills in for the center store operations specialist when he’s on vacation, and as the district’s salary champion, she works with each store on labor management to better the district’s numbers.

Maxwell is a retail leadership development (RLD) trainer, which means that she volunteers to train the district’s candidates for promotion to first assistant manager while continuing to run her own store.


Kari Smith

Store Director, Safeway #1724-14, Placerville, Calif.

Smith regularly volunteered for extra assignments and responsibilities; for instance, as a certified frontline leadership trainer, she facilitated training at the division office for assistant managers and store directors. She stepped up to manage a store that was without a director while continuing at her current location, running both supermarkets successfully. Smith developed a sales-planning tool that was implemented district-wide and used for profit meetings at each store; using the tool, she implemented a plan to drive seafood sales and variety, which resulted in a 10 percent sales increase over last year.

Cassidy Cofran Store Director, Shaw’s, Orleans, Mass.

In only her first year as a store director, Cofran led her location through a challenging time to achieve more than 5 percent in identical-store sales. Her outside-the-box thinking on summer seasonal merchandising led to a 27 percent sales increase from last year; she accomplished this feat by teaming with local and national partners to carry a wider variety of summer merchandise. Cofran mentored two high-potential women to the next steps in their careers, with one being promoted to assistant store director and the other accepted into the store director training program; she was also recently appointed to the Store Director Council.


Lori Hodgkinson Store Manager, ShopRite Stores, Croton-on-Hudson and Vailsgate, N.Y.

Hodgkinson developed an environment supporting clear communication on all shifts, including huddles to celebrate successes and challenge one another to be their best daily. Hodgkinson led a major remodel that culminated in a grand reopening; her team-building efforts enabled the store to break 10 records for individual department sales and total store sales while improving operating income and payroll. A member of the company’s Women and Diversity leadership group, Hodgkinson won 2018 Store Manager of the Year and Budget Buster awards for her store’s record financial year.

Kelly Pagano Store Manager, ShopRite Store #325, Orange, Conn.

Promoted to a newer store with 193 associates, Pagano also worked with the company to develop a foodservice program. Coming aboard at a time when the location was facing many challenges, she created a unified environment based on improved communication and consistency; as a result, the store’s retention rate improved by double digits and there was 100 percent participation in the associate satisfaction survey. Pagano organized fundraisers for several groups, including the Boys and Girls Village, Get in Touch and Check Out Hunger, boosting donations from previous years.

Amy Leary

Store Manager, ShopRite Store #324, Hamden, Conn.

Leary engaged with all of her associates, continually encouraging feedback to build relationships and create a unified team. The participation rate in her store’s associate satisfaction survey was 100 percent, a testament to her leadership, and she implemented new store initiatives with inventory control and shrink that are models for other stores. Leary regularly gives back as a mentor to new department managers and to the community as an organizer of local drives and fundraisers; the Hamden, Conn., store has raised thousands of dollars for community charitable organizations, thanks to Leary’s tireless efforts.

Grace Richards

Assistant Store Manager, ShopRite Store, Florida, N.Y.

While still performing her duties as an assistant store manager, Richards was tapped for a fast-track program to become a store director; she ran an existing store through its closing period while supporting the replacement store’s opening. She focused on the clickand-collect segment in several categories, led the training and development of two new assistant store managers, and managed succession planning for the store. Recognized as a role model for the movement of more women into store management positions, Richards was chosen to be a charter member of the company’s diversity program.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Amanda Seghers

Store Manager, Smart & Final Store #423, Huntington Beach, Calif.

Seghers was transferred during the year into a store that was underperforming both financially and operationally, and rose to the challenge by leading her team to make changes that were quickly noticed by customers and management, garnering increases in sales and bottom-line results, as well as notes of appreciation to the company from shoppers. Her store participated in the Caterina’s Kids Pasta-thon in California’s Orange County that raised donations for disadvantaged children in the area. Seghers’ store was one of two locations nominated for Store of the District in 2018.

Melissa Insalaco-Gillon Store Manager, Stop & Shop #687, Branford, Conn.

A leader in people development, Insalaco-Gillon oversaw the promotion of six associates in her store to assistant manager or full-time department positions. Under her guidance, customer satisfaction scores improved, shrink was down and operating income exceeded budget; in addition, she helped improve associate morale. Insalaco-Gillon has forged a strong partnership with the Branford Food Bank, to which she consistently donates food from the store; she ensured that the food bank was fully stocked for the busy Thanksgiving season, and helped replenish it after the winter holidays.

Ellen McCue

Store Manager, Stop & Shop #614, Southington, Conn.


Kandi Newton Store Manager, Tops #574, Lowville, N.Y.

McCue was an exceptional leader during the remodel of her store; the location ended the year approximately $1.2 million over budget in retail sales, and customer satisfaction scores had an unprecedented rise from the previous year.

An extremely customer-focused manager who knows many of her shoppers by name, Newton was able to exceed her store’s EBITDA by 675 percent, and her key performance indicators were among the best in her district.

She initiated daily huddles and store walks to keep her team informed and to provide clear, consistent feedback; she also celebrated wins, announcing when customers complimented an associate and following up with a recognition card.

She was instrumental in hiring and training associates for a new gas station at the store; the gas station exceeded weekly projected gallons by 80 percent.

McCue is a strong supporter of the Rising Star career development program and uses it to train, develop and mentor, and ultimately promote associates.

Known for her strong team-building skills and effective leadership, Newton continually earned the respect of her associates by showing that she genuinely cared about them and what was going on in their personal lives.

Ashley Tucker Store Manager, Tops #720, Greenville, N.Y.


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Tucker achieved a 2.7 percent increase in sales and 106 percent of her EBITDA budget at her previous store, results that led to her reassignment to the largest and highest-volume location in her district. Leading by example was key: Her store’s team attained a 98.6 percent year average on its Mystery Shop program, and she took the time to develop new meat and office managers. Tucker’s store associates surpassed all fundraising goals, and went one step further to raise money on their own, and then visit a senior citizen community across the street for the holidays.

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2019 Retail Bakery Review


n an era of keto, Paleo and Zone diets, indulgences found in the in-store bakery department are often eschewed, but that doesn’t mean that no one’s indulging. “It seems as much as everybody talks about healthier, when it comes to bakery, it’s about treating themselves,” asserts Karri Zwirlein, director of bakery, deli and prepared foods for Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops Markets LLC. “And when they do treat themselves, they want it to be worth it — is it worth the calories? It’s about treating yourself and making sure it’s over-the-top really good. It’s not just OK. People do restrict themselves in a lot of other areas, but when they go for a treat, it’s got to be great.” Indulgent items like cookies, cakes/tortes and doughnuts, along with breads, remain the top sellers in the in-store bakery, according to Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Retail Bakery Review. Cookies remain in the top spot, with more than half (53 percent) of survey respondents reporting them as the top-selling products, climbing from the third spot in 2017.



2019 Retail Bakery Review

Methodology Progressive Grocer’s Retail Bakery Review is based on an online survey of retail grocery leaders in April and May 2019. The respondents encompassed store owners, CEOs, presidents, bakery executives and other supermarket bakery department decision-makers. Of the respondents, about 59 percent were from grocery operations with 4 or fewer stores, with about 41 percent from chains of greater than 4 stores.

Bakery Sales 2018 vs. 2017 Increased


Stayed the same

Don’t know


YE AR AGO 4. 8%

5 0.0%

2 8 .1%

3 0. 2%

5 5.6%

6.7% Net change

This is good news for stores, as cookies were also reported to be the second most profitable item in the in-store bakery. Much like cupcakes in the past decade, cookies (and doughnuts) have benefited from the gourmetization of the product. For instance, the cookie category has gone from simple chocolate chip cookies — although those are still popular — to elaborately decorated items that command a premium price. “Before, people would come to us and get a tray of cookies for graduation. Now, they want a tray of Bulldog cookies or a tray of star cookies. All of a sudden, those cookies are two bucks apiece rather than $3.99 for a dozen,” notes Brooks Marsh, owner of Mahomet IGA, in Mahomet, Ill. Marsh acknowledges that the highly decorated cookies require more time and labor, but a higher price point can more than make up for that.


12 .5%

Projected Sales for Total 2019 Increase


Stay the same

Don’t know


CURRENT 6. 25% 18 . 8%

1.7% 65.0%

71.9% 3 0.0%



Net change


Popular Product Categories

Bread claims the second top-selling spot, but is the most profitable product category, while cakes/tortes and doughnuts share the third spot, with cakes coming in as third most profitable and doughnuts tied with cookies for the second spot. As for product categories that are growing, Zwirlein notes that Tops’ “muffin category has exploded over the last five years and continues to grow.” According to PG data, muffins saw a slight decline in popularity, from 18.2 percent last year to 15.6 percent this year. Zwirlein goes on to observe that the sweet goods category, especially cinnamon rolls, are also strong sellers. “We do a phenomenal job with cinnamon rolls, turnovers, a lot of the puff pastry items,


Bakery Department Performance


52.5% 61.4% 155.6 246.0 150.5 216.0 4.9 4.0 4.2 4.0 49.4% 48.8% 28.2% 25.8% 7.7% 8.3% 1365.8 1342.0

Percent of Sales From Self-Service Bakery Year-Round Bakery SKUs Seasonal Bakery SKUs Full-Time Equivalent Employees per Store Part-Time Equivalent Employees per Store Gross Margin Labor as Percent of Sales Shrink as Percent of Sales Average Size of Bakery Department (Sq. Ft.)

Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019

Year Ago

Bakery Profits 2018 vs. 2017 Increased


Stayed the same

Don’t know




6.4% 5 0.0%



—Karri Zwirlein, Tops Markets



Top-Selling Bakery Items Cookies Breads Cakes/Tortes Doughnuts Rolls Celebration/Special-Occasion Cakes Cupcakes Pies Muffins Danishes/Sweet Rolls Artisan Breads Scones Bagels Hispanic Items Other


4 4.7%

It seems as much as everybody talks about healthier, when it comes to bakery, it’s about treating themselves.”

Year Ago

53.1% 45.5% 50.0 40.9 40.6 29.5 40.6 40.9 21.9 18.2 15.6 18.2 15.6 13.6 12.5 2.3 9.4 22.7 9.4 11.4 9.4 15.9 9.4 2.3 - 4.5 - 4.5 - 9.1

strudel, strudel bites,” she says. “That’s a good category, very strong for us.” At Dorothy Lane Markets (DLM), in Dayton, Ohio, VP of Bakery Scott Fox is seeing success in some of the classic products. For example, the stores recently introduced Bakewell tarts, a traditional English square tart with a simple 1-2-3 dough that is baked in a 2½-inch-deep tart pan, the bottom of which is coated with raspberry marmalade, then filled with almond cream, with almonds sprinkled on top. “It’s one of those type of pastries that is good for breakfast, it’s good for an afternoon snack, and it’s great for an evening dessert,” Fox notes. Other classic products that are gaining traction include kouign amann, a variety of the French croissant, and Paris-Brest, a French choux pastry filled with praline cream.

Dietary Claims

Certain dietary claims are also starting to gain in popularity, with 81 percent of survey respondents selling gluten-free products, up from 68 percent last year. Nut-free and

Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019




2019 Retail Bakery Review

egg-free products also saw significant increases in those offering them. Overall, the number of stores not offering any free-from products in the in-store bakery declined from nearly a quarter last year to only 9 percent this year. “Requests for gluten-free items are increasing,” Zwirlein affirms. “Cleaner label is more mainstream than it used to be.” Tops stores recently changed the bagels offered in the in-store bakery to a non-GMO variety, with that attribute called out right on the bulk bagel display bin. At DLM, the products sport clean labels with simple ingredient lists, and part of that is driven in part by the fact that DLM

Which of the following best describes your in-store bakery program? Destination department

4 0.6% 31.3%

Image builder Part of a one-stopshopping format

4 6.9%

Basics/ necessities

3 4.4% 0 10 2 0 3 0 4 0 5 0%

People really like the fact that the bread that they’re eating, that we’re making at the store, is made by hand and the wheat was grown about 18 miles from the store. It’s about as local as you can get.”

Does your bakery department offer signature products?





—Scott Fox, Dorothy Lane Markets has partnered with a local farmer to grow its own Dorothy Lane Heritage Turkey Red wheat that’s also milled at the farm. The flour is used only in sourdough right now — it previously had also been used in a yeast-raised French boule — but “people really like the fact that the bread that they’re eating, that we’re making at the store, is made by hand and the wheat was grown about 18 miles from the store,” Fox says. “It’s about as local as you can get.” Requests for vegan bakery products have been on the rise, Fox observes. “We’ve not really done anything to address it yet, but we’re talking about coming up with a few products just to get started,” he says. “We’re not going to become a vegan bakery ever, but we could do a little better job and at least have some offerings for folks.” While more retailers indicated that they were offering free-from products,


Are these signature items ... 3.6% 2 8 .6%

82 .1% Baked in-house Baked to spec and exclusive to your store/chain A supplier’s product with your store’s label Other

32 .1% Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019


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2019 Retail Bakery Review

only 11 percent of sales came from those products, down from 16 percent last year. This division is further emphasized when looking at sugar-free bakery items: More retailers (28 percent) think that offering sugar-free is important than they did last year (13.5 percent); however, more retailers (44 percent) think that offering sugar-free is the least important.

Going Plastic-Free

Top 5 Issues Facing the Bakery Department Rated on a scale of 1-6, where 6 = extremely serious

1. Recruiting Effective Employees

2. Profits

3. Labor Costs




It’s not just product trends that are impacting in-store bakeries. Retailers are also seeing consumers demand more environmentally friendly packaging (16 percent). DLM’s Fox has noticed more customers asking about the plastic packaging in the department, and the stores switched from a plastic pie container to a cardboard pie box that’s white with black printing, for the grocer’s Grandma Tobias Pies. “It’s very eye-catching, very attractive,” he says. In the fourth quarter of 2018, the stores sold more than 1,200 more pies than the previous year. “The only thing that changed was the box,” Fox adds. “Same variety of pies, same recipe for the pies. We just changed the box.” DLM has now added a window box with the same design for other bakery items, including the 12-count cookies and 4-count muffins. “They do pop off the shelf, and we have gotten rid of that plastic,” he notes. “It’s going to be a long time before all the plastic goes away, but we are hearing from our customers that they don’t like it.”

4. Attracting More Shoppers to Bakery


Allergen-Free Products Offered 81.3%


62 .5%


3 4.4%




Other allergen-free


Do not sell any allergen-free baked goods

9.4% 0

2 0 4 0 6 0


Scratch-baked on premise

6 8 . 8%

Dedicated baking facility

37.5% 0

2 0 4 0 6 0

Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019

8 0 10 0%

Which of the following do you currently sell in your stores? Pre-packaged baked goods


5. Customer Satisfaction

8 0 10 0%


Department Headaches

Does your bakery department cross-merchandise or cross-promote bakery items to extend your bakery’s reach to other departments, such as deli or fresh prepared foods?

15.6% NO

84.4% YES

When it comes to the issues retailers face in the in-store bakery, the No. 1 headache is recruiting effective employees, up from the No. 2 slot last year. Profits and customer satisfaction round out the top three, followed by other supermarket competition. Attracting more shoppers to the department and labor costs are tied for the fifth spot. Finding the right employees certainly weighs most on Tops’ Zwirlein’s mind. Her challenges: “Labor and recruiting staff would be the two biggest. Bakery used to be the hardest department to staff, but it’s not the hardest anymore, although cake decorating is probably the hardest. A skilled trade — that is a difficult labor pool to find.” “Labor is probably the No. 1 issue that all of us are having,” Fox agrees. “Trying to attract and get and keep talented help in this day and age — it’s never been this difficult, ever.”

Sunny Outlook

While the labor-intensive bakery department faces many challenges, the overall outlook remains strong. Half of retailers reported that 2018 in-store bakery sales increased over 2017 sales, with an average rise of 6.4 percent. Nearly 72 percent expect sales to increase in 2019, up from the 65 Cross-Merchandising Methods percent who projected an increase last year. However, Current Year Ago the projected increase is 3.5 percent, down from a projected Sell bakery products in other store departments 88.9% 74.3% increase of nearly 8 percent last Partner with the in-store deli to make sandwiches year. 
When it comes to profit, on house-made bread/buns/rolls 63.0 57.1 the outlook is even better. Half Place signage in other departments to promote of retailers reported that profits bakery items as a complementary product 59.3 31.4 in the department were up Sell bakery products in the deli 59.3 82.9 from the previous year, while only 16 percent reported a deSource: Progressive Grocer market research, 2019 crease. This is up from the 45 percent who reported better profits last year and the 21 percent who noted that profits were down. Some of this may have to do with the decreased SKUs — a more streamlined product selection often means lower shrink, which is borne out in the survey results and helps the bottom line. Gross margin remained relatively unchanged, while labor costs crept up. “I think our bakery is one of the biggest draws for Dorothy Lane Market because of the unique products we have,” Fox says “Our bakeries right now are approaching doing 12 percent of the overall company business.” For comparison, the PG survey data indicates that average in-store bakery sales are just shy of 7 percent of company sales. At Tops, the in-store bakery is a point of differentiation for the chain’s stores. “We are screaming the freshness message the loudest in our stores,” Zwirlein says. “That’s our job: to be special and be the freshest bakery out there.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2019



Special Occasions


very day is a holiday on some level. The big ones come in a regular rotation — soon it’ll be the Fourth of July, followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter holidays — but consumers mark special occasions on any given day, from birthdays to promotions to farewell parties, to name just a few. Putting the “special” in special occasions generally means elevating the foods and beverages served at such gatherings. Retailers can attract shoppers looking for those items by providing and promoting gourmet offerings, including both packaged products and store-made or private label choices. Opportunities are significant in this space. According to the recent “State of the Specialty Food Industry” report, from the New York-based Specialty Food Association (SFA), 36 percent of consumers say that they purchase specialty foods for a special occasion like a dinner party, birthday or holiday. The profile of these gourmet shoppers underscores the potential of this part of a grocer’s business. “Those numbers are true of both male and female consumers,” notes Denise Purcell, head of content for the SFA. “Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are the most likely consumers, age-wise, to buy these products for special occasions. Millennials and Gen Zs aren’t too far behind, but it seems to be a habit that increases with age and likely income to entertain.”


Key Takeaways Retailers can attract shoppers looking for celebratory items by providing and promoting gourmet offerings across the store. New specialty food launches remain strong, with several companies having recently introduced items appropriate for special occasions. Another way to boost sales tied to special occasions is to merchandise gourmet items as gifts, including ready-made and custom gift baskets.




Special Occasions

Many parts of the store can be a draw for occasion-minded, gourmet-seeking shoppers, meaning that basket lift can occur in several spots. In the perimeter, for instance, the in-store bakery, deli, prepared food area and produce section offer a variety of products for parties or gatherings of different scales and sizes. Meanwhile, in center store, specialty foods can be merchandised for everyday consumption or for days that mean something more to a shopper.

Baked-In Success

The in-store bakery is one intuitive destination for consumers looking for foods for special events. “One of the primary reasons people visit the bakery is because they are celebrating something like a birthday or graduation,” affirms Eric Richard, education coordinator for the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA). “It certainly fulfills that need, but bakery is also in a great position to reach out to individuals who may not be buying for big celebrations, but just to celebrate with themselves or even on an individual basis.” To leverage that interest and to position the grocer as a provider of solutions for special occasions, bakeries and other departments can up their gourmet game to set themselves apart and to stay on par with specialty retailers like independent bakeries, liquor stores, confection shops or restaurants with catering businesses. “Grocers are seeing what’s happening in the market and being creative,” notes Richard. “In bakery, you find more than just bagels and doughnuts and birthday cakes — there are some pretty creative celebratory offerings. That’s what you do to stay competitive.” According to Richard, one way to think outside the cake box, so to speak, is to offer smaller portions for smaller-scale celebrations. “If you look at the changing


demographics of our country, you see that shoppers aren’t primarily shopping for a large family, and there are more single and two-person households today,” he observes. “An in-store bakery can take advantage of people shopping for themselves, or with or for another person, with products tailored specifically for them, such as a smaller-sized pie or cake or individual slices. It’s ‘Let’s celebrate you!’” This mindset extends to prepared foods, hot food bars and service deli counters, which can provide customized or smaller-scale portions of such gourmet offerings as fancy sides and salads. Meat departments, which are already in high promotional gear for summer grilling, can tout their solutions to shoppers seeking foods for their gathering or celebration that doesn’t fall on the Fourth of July or Labor Day. Carrying specialty foods and beverages is another signal to shoppers that a store provides items for both “regular” eating occasions and occasions that mean something more. Examples include specialty cheeses, deli meats, crackers, dips, desserts, and adult beverages, including champagne, spirts, wine and beer.

If someone is able to get other essential items for their occasion at the same time without having to go a quarter-mile down the road to another store, you will boost sales and make a good experience for those consumers.” —Eric Richard, IDDBA

What’s in Store?

New specialty food launches remain strong, according to the SFA’s research, and several companies have recently introduced items that fit with special occasions. For example, Gracious Gourmet, of Bridgewater, Conn., recently rolled out All Seasons Fruit Spread, Farmhouse Tomato Jam and Roasted Red Pepper Artichoke Tapenade. Another example is a new line of fruit-based hummus, in Strawberry, Mango, Blueberry and Cherry flavors, from Lantana Foods, based in Austin, Texas. In the adult beverage category, the newly unveiled Smirnoff Zero Sugar Infusions line appeals to hosts and guests looking for flavor and less sugar, in Cucumber & Lime, Watermelon & Mint, and Strawberry & Rose varieties. Meanwhile, as certain better-for-you or weight-management eating plans have taken off, some shoppers are looking for gourmet items for special occasions that may fit into those diets, based on their guest list. Research from Chicago-based market researcher Mintel shows that there has been an increase in specialty vegan products, for example. Richard agrees that stores should be aware that special occasions usually involve indulgent items, but the umbrella is big enough for healthier options. “You can buy more products for healthy consumers, like ancient grains or natural products, but the vast majority of people are looking for a treat,” he points out.

food with family and friends, so it seems they like to share interesting products for gift giving.” To that end, while many stores offer gift baskets for major gift-giving holidays, a grocer can offer gourmet food baskets that can be made on demand for other occasions like birthdays, or as a housewarming gift. When stocking and merchandising for special occasions, grocers can complement foods and beverages with items that go well with those types of events, like decorative napkins, flowers or even a small rack of greeting cards. “It makes sense to have some nonfood products in the department,” advises Richard. “If nothing else, you are offering a convenience to shoppers. If someone is able to get other essential items for their occasion at the same time without having to go a quarter-mile down the road to another store, you will boost sales and make a good experience for those consumers.” In addition to traditional merchandising techniques, including displays, cross-merchandising, and the use of social and traditional media, there are ways for grocers to let shoppers know that they are destinations for gourmet items for special occasions. One example: A store could bring in a chef/caterer or a professional party planner for a special event.

The Spirit of Giving

Another avenue for enhanced sales tied to special occasions is to merchandise gourmet items as gifts. The “State of the Specialty Food Industry” research shows that 16 percent of those surveyed buy gourmet items as gifts, and that such gift-giving is popular among demographics coveted by grocers. “Gen Zs rank high for this, second only to Gen Xers,” remarks Purcell. “Gen Z likes to talk about and enjoy PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2019



Special Occasions

Specialty Food Industry Sales Reach New High, Nearing $150B TR ADE GROUP’S ANNUAL REPORT HIGHLIGHTS INCRE ASED GROW TH. By Abby Kleckler he Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) annual “State of the Specialty Food Industry Report” shows that the category’s sales reached $148.7 billion last year, a 9.8 percent increase between 2016 and 2018. Sales, however, have slowed slightly as the market matures, with 5.4 percent growth in 2017 and 4.3 percent in 2018. Although ecommerce sales represent less than 3 percent of today’s sales, online has grown 41 percent since 2016. Specialty food continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the industry, outpacing the growth of all food at retail — 10.3 percent versus 3.1 percent. “Diverse consumer lifestyles are taking specialty foods mainstream,” says Phil Kafarakis, president of the New York-based SFA. “To reach these

consumers and increase their own sales, food merchants have embraced the vast assortment of specialty products. Our research outlines the momentum in the industry and provides a comprehensive picture of where we are today and how businesses can prepare for the future. Conducting important research like this is a part of our mission to champion specialty foods and help our members continue to innovate and succeed.” More takeaways from the report will be discussed during a session at the SFA’s Summer Fancy Food Show, at the Jacob Javits Center, in New York, June 23-25.

Some key findings from the “State of the Specialty Food” report for 2018 include: THE TOP 5 CATEGORIES WITH THE HIGHEST DOLLAR GROWTH

Refrigerated Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Rice Cakes Frozen Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Water Refrigerated RTD Tea and Coffee


Cheese and Plant-Based Cheese Frozen/Refrigerated Meat, Poultry, Seafood Chips, Pretzels and Snacks Non-RTD Coffee and Hot Cocoa Bread and Baked Goods



Gen Z


Gen X

Baby Boomers






Contextual Commerce


onsumers no longer want to search for you to make a purchase. They believe your business should be where they are. From buy buttons to messaging bots and voice assistants to scan-and-bag apps, the grocery industry has been embracing contextual commerce, although there’s much more to the technology than the industry has seen so far. Whether it’s referred to as contextual, connected, voice or conversational commerce, the key element is convenience. “It’s about bringing the brand closer to the consumer where they are and where they prefer to be,” says Mariam Reza, VP global enterprise solutions for AI-powered messaging platform LivePerson, based in New York. “It’s a conversation between the brand and the consumer, rather than just an interaction or a transaction.”

in their digital cart or abandon it completely when they can’t find their credit card or don’t want to exert the effort. Take, for example, restaurant chain TGI Fridays, where customers can place an order through a conversation with a voice assistant and use a stored mobile payment or digital wallet service to complete the transaction. The relationship, however, doesn’t stop at a single transaction. TGI Fridays looks at patterns in the way consumers are purchasing and reaches out around the time someone is most likely to order again. “They’re being proactive with what they’re learning,” Reza notes. “I get proactively asked if I want to re-order that same order again. Now you won’t lose me as a customer if I forget or if another company approaches me.” This example is a restaurant chain, not a retailer, but the conversion rates speak volumes. TGI Fridays saw a 74 percent lift in orders when it was proactively communicating with consumers in a timely manner specific to each individual customer. TGI Fridays’ innovation and partnership with AI-powered personal assistant bots also allow the brand to communicate to consumers in its own brand voice, using phrases such as the tagline “In Here It’s Always Friday,” or personalizing comments about menu items. Building sticky customers is great for your business, and these features help tremendously. Again, convenience is key, and making the process as simple as possible is what contextual commerce is all about.

Voice-Enabled Shopping

An estimated $40 billion will be spent through voice commerce by 2022, up from $2 billion in 2017, according to research from global strategy consultancy OC&C. Walmart, Target and The Kroger Co. all have voice-enabled shopping through Google Assistant, while Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market can connect through consumers’ smart appliances and encourage voice-enabled shopping through Alexa, just to name a few grocery adopters. “Many people find it easier to navigate the online world and make purchases using their voice rather than typing on a keyboard or clicking around with a mouse,” says Stacy Caprio, founder of Chicago-based Accelerated Growth Marketing. “It is much more convenient to speak to navigate the web and make purchases, which I think will be the main reason for voice search and purchases rising in popularity.” Another large advantage of contextual commerce is immediacy. Consumers don’t have time to rethink their purchase, leave it sitting


Key Takeaways From buy buttons to messaging bots and voice assistants to scanand-bag apps, the grocery industry is adopting contextual commerce, whose key feature is convenience. Success relies on the ability to create a shopping experience like one that customers can receive in a store. Brands should adopt such technology as quickly as possible to get the advantages of first adoption and allow them to select the types of contextual commerce that make the most sense for them.

“Taking away all friction with one-word voice ordering completely takes away the entire abandoned-cart issue and will be a profitable game-changer for all ecommerce stores who adopt the technology,” asserts Caprio. “Right now, so many ecommerce stores lose sales from people who abandon their items in carts, due to a high-friction checkout process with many steps and points to reconsider the purchase, or simply open a new tab and start doing something else.”

Many people find it easier to navigate the online world and make purchases using their voice rather than typing on a keyboard or clicking around with a mouse.”

Messaging Bots

According to LivePerson, there are more than 100 billion messages sent every day, with nearly 13 million texts sent every minute. These large numbers show the possibilities for brands to reach people through messaging. “We tend to do a lot of our interactions day to day over our phones,” Reza says. “If you think about that now in the retail world, that’s where consumers are; that’s where they’re buying. “A few years ago we could say that this is something that will change the world and people are going to head toward conversational commerce,” she continues. “Today, what I’m going to tell you is that consumers are already demanding it, and will continue to do so even more.” Whether through SMS, iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or a number of other messaging apps,

—Stacy Caprio, Accelerated Growth Marketing




Contextual Commerce

brands can communicate with consumers, answer their questions, help them locate a product and complete the transaction. The success of these messaging bots relies on conversational design, the ability to create an entire shopping experience similar to one that customers can receive in a store with an employee, but instead at their fingertips. “If you’re going to have automation in the conversation, you’re also going to have humans, and that experience has to be really well designed,” Reza notes. “You must design a full journey and not just part of it. The last thing you want is to give consumers an experience that they’re going to walk away from because it’s just a broken experience.” Customers need to be able not only to buy, but also to come back and check on the delivery status and inquire about other items, all within the same message.

Social Media

Nearly 60 percent of consumers are engaging in contextual commerce, and 81 percent of these consumers do so through social media, according to research from PYMNTS, in conjunction with Samsung Pay. On social media, many of these transactions can be done quite simply, providing the same frictionless buying experience as seen with voice-enabled shopping. “I’ve seen customers start to purchase items through one- or twoclick clothing links on social media, which is becoming a great online advertising method,” Caprio says. “I think contextual commerce is a huge opportunity for all sellers with both online and physical stores.” The image-heavy nature of social media, as well as its continuity across devices, provides advantages for retailers and consumers alike. Social media sites continue to expand their partnerships with mobile payment options, such as Facebook’s relationship with PayPal, to make the process smoother and give consumers confidence that the sites are secure.

The last thing you want is to give consumers an experience that they’re going to walk away from because it’s just a broken experience.” —Mariam Reza, LivePerson

According to Reza: “Consumers are even more and more concerned about what happens to their information and if it is safe or not, but we’re not seeing people turn away from it because of concerns around the platform. More and more people are buying online through something such as Apple Pay and making convenient payments.” She’s quick to note that all purchasing through messaging bot conversations, such as those designed by LivePerson, is fully encrypted and highly secure, so any concern should be minimal. “The best thing we can do is look to China, where this is natural for them: They kind of skipped over the ecommerce part and went straight to conversational commerce,” says Hollie Ellison, senior director of marketing communications at LivePerson. “Over there, 90 percent of a billion users have actually bought something on WeChat [a Chinese multipurpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app]. “We would expect as this becomes more mainstream, commonplace and expected that we’ll follow suit,” Ellison adds.

Continued Expansion


of consumers are engaging in contextual commerce. Source: PYMNTS in conjunction with Samsung Pay



of these consumers do so through social media.

The connected world is only growing more connected, with the number of what PYMNTS refers to as “Super Connected” users continuing to grow. These users have six or more connected devices, from smartphones and tablets to computers and appliances. Further, more than 470 million new users are coming onto or using a messaging platform in the next couple of years, according to LivePerson. As for voice-enabled ecommerce, Amazon and Google lead the pack, but other companies, such as Apple and Samsung, have gotten into the space. “I would advise brands to adopt this technology as fast as they can right when it comes out,” Caprio says. “This will allow them to get the advantages of first adoption as well as allow them to test and pick the types of contextual commerce that make the most sense for their brand.” Her message is clear: Brands must meet consumers where they are, on every device, seamlessly integrating ecommerce into their everyday activities.


Fleet Management


Key Takeaways United Supermarkets needed a technology partner that could optimize multiple grocery deliveries across multiple time slots, as well as provide analytics to track the percentage of on-time deliveries, inefficiencies in truck capacity, and time-slot utilization. Since teaming up with Onfleet, United’s ecommerce business has grown by leaps and bounds, seeing triple-digit increases year over year. Phase two of the United-Onfleet partnership will consist of translating United’s newfound delivery visibility to its customers.

here are times in life when Google Maps won’t suffice. Just ask Chris Farr, ecommerce manager at Lubbock, Texas-based United Supermarkets, a regional chain owned by Albertsons. When United first began offering an ecommerce service featuring online ordering and delivery, back in 2016, the retailer did largely rely on Google Maps to help route orders for its delivery fleet. Employees would manually type in the deliveries by time slot or use intuition to route orders to the best of their ability. Pretty soon, however, it became clear that the company was going to need a more reliable tool as it grew its service and expanded to more markets. “We started out in two markets — Lubbock and Amarillo — and they were pretty easy to navigate,” recalls Farr. “But knowing that we have PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2019



Fleet Management

a large market in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and knowing we would eventually get to Albuquerque with delivery, we needed a system to do this more efficiently. We needed a company that could optimize multiple deliveries across multiple time slots.” United set out on a thorough search for the right technology provider, looking for a company that could also provide analytics to track the percentage of on-time deliveries, inefficiencies in truck capacity, and time-slot use. Last but not least, United wanted

How great is it to send a notification 10 to 15 minutes prior to the delivery, as opposed to only having the two-hour window?” —Chris Farr, United Supermarkets

a partner that would be “agile in its onboarding process and training,” as Farr puts it. After shopping around for several months, United chose San Francisco-based Onfleet in the fall of 2018. “We began laying the framework in late October, getting requirements and specifications, but we didn’t want to launch it during the holiday season,” Farr explains. “We did an internal pilot in January of this year, mainly for our benefit, to try and get everything under control and comfortable before we started rolling it out to the rest of the stores.”

No More Running on Empty As businesses continue to focus more on sustainability, one key area that many are looking at is reducing emissions. In some cases, local governments are placing pressure on companies to act faster. In the United Kingdom and Europe, for instance, some urban areas have implemented restrictions on what types of vehicles can enter the city at certain times of the day, according to Will Salter, CEO of Paragon Software Systems, which has headquarters in Dorking, Surrey, in the United Kingdom, but also has an office in Frisco, Texas. “We’re seeing more of this coming


Sainsbury’s in the United Kingdom managed 2,000 fewer emptyvehicle journeys in a week, with the help of fleet management software from Paragon Software Systems.

through in the U.S. as well,” he notes. “It’s a very complicated thing when it comes to planning. “Just by doing your planning more efficiently, you can cut the CO 2 emissions quite significantly,” says Salter. “Doing things like reducing the empty running, and maybe doing some collections that you can then bring back to the DC, while also bringing back pallets, packaging and that type of thing, can all help in that area.” He notes that in the United Kingdom, Asda Walmart has reduced its fuel usage and decreased vehicle emissions, thanks in part to Paragon’s fleet management software. Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, managed 2,000 fewer empty-vehicle journeys in a week. George Brehovsky, director of customer solutions for Alpharetta, Ga.-based CHEP North America, says that his company is engaged in several creative ways to help companies reduce emissions by eradicating empty miles. “About 15 years ago, we started offering transport collaboration, in which we’ll partner with a retailer’s fleet to help us accommodate the return of our assets — pallets, containers and crates — back from the retailer to a CHEP service center. This has helped retailers fill empty miles while also utilizing their driver hours,” he explains. Now CHEP is taking this idea a step further by offering what it calls transport orchestration or lane matching. “We started this in Europe and

All on Board

One of the biggest adjustments in implementing Onfleet’s solution was getting the store teams on board, according to Farr. “The way we have our operations structured is that with each ecommerce team, the stores route

are now translating it to North America,” says Brehovsky. With transport orchestration, CHEP leverages the scale and density of its network, along with the data that scale enables, to identify matching partners in the industry to help build closed loops to facilitate the movement of each other’s products. “So, if there’s a customer that’s moving product from Atlanta to Orlando, and they have empty miles coming back, we will find a comparable customer that’s shipping product, and we’ll match them,” he explains. CHEP relies on its sister company, BXB Digital, to analyze the vast amount of data from its customers and develop actionable insights for these programs, continues Brehovsky. Meanwhile, since customer data privacy is of the upmost importance to the companies, CHEP gains permission from its customers upfront to participate. To accelerate the evolution of its transport orchestration program, CHEP recently launched a bold new program, Zero Waste World. The program aims to use the power of CHEP’s logistics network to help its customers find new ways to tackle three shared challenges: eradicating empty miles, eliminating waste and cutting out inefficiencies. “We hope to build a collaboration platform within the industry in order to facilitate effective matching between customers to solve for things

United’s Market Street banner offers both curbside pickup and delivery in various Texas neighborhoods. The company’s fleet of 22 trucks features three temperaturecontrolled compartments.

and optimize their own orders,” he says. “So, with the store team in Lubbock, either the driver or store manager is going to route the orders. I think that was our biggest adjustment, getting them on board. But once we gave them the ability to see the estimated completion time of each delivery, and also the ability

CHEP North America is bringing companies together to eradicate empty miles with its transport orchestration program and its brand-new Zero Waste World initiative.

like capacity, restraints in transportation, and to connect unlikely parties that normally wouldn’t be talking to each other,” says Brehovsky. CHEP’s vast reach in the North American market includes around 14,000 manufacturing locations and more than 19,000 retail locations. PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2019



Fleet Management

to track the truck or vehicle in real time through the Onfleet app, they were on board. Beforehand, they had this misconception that they could only do x amount of orders or they’d be late. Giving them that estimated completion time showed them, no, you can actually do twice the amount of orders. Not only are you going to be on time, but now you can piggyback multiple time slots back to back.” Today United’s ecommerce service is available to about a third of its 95 locations throughout 15 markets, notes Farr. The retailer offers delivery to homes and businesses using its fleet of 22 temperature-controlled trucks, and has some locations that offer pickup. In Lubbock, for instance, four stores feature the pickup service, while there’s one store that serves as a hub that delivers city-wide. Since 2016, the business has “grown immensely,” asserts Farr. “We continue to see triple-digit increases year over year.” Thanks to its partnership with Onfleet, Farr says that

the company has gained more confidence in its delivery capabilities. “That confidence has translated into us providing better service to our guests while cutting inefficiencies,” he notes. “There are a handful of wins from our partnership, but one that has had the biggest impact on us is Onfleet allowing us to effectively route the orders across multiple time slots. Previously, the store would deliver for one time slot. After they delivered those orders, depending on how many there were, they would come back to the store and load for the next time slot. So, not only was the driver making multiple trips to and from the store and reloading orders, which is a huge fuel cost, but also possibly wasting time.” He continues: “We’ve looked at our fuel costs year over year, and in the first two periods, we’ve had a 45 percent decrease in fuel costs, which is really exciting.” United’s second big win is that Onfleet has provided analytics to help increase its number of orders allowed in a given time slot, according to Farr. “Previously, we really had no way of truly knowing how many deliveries we could make in a two-hour window,” he recounts, “so we quite simply said, OK, 15 minutes’ drive, 15 minutes on site — so I can make one delivery every 30 minutes. That model, not knowing the information we have now, was kind of the best way we could make sure that we weren’t overstressing the stores. But since then, here in the Lubbock market, we’ve been able to increase our number of orders allowed to the [customers] by 50 percent. Increasing

We’ve looked at our fuel costs year over year, and in the first two periods, we’ve had a 45 percent decrease in fuel costs, which is really exciting.” —Chris Farr, United Supermarkets


at 50 percent was done with our initial delivery trucks, so we didn’t have to add trucks to allow that increase.” Farr also notes that Onfleet was an attractive partner because the company didn’t burden the retailer with high initial costs. “They definitely have it structured to allow retailers to scale delivery and allow that cost to grow with it,” he says. “We looked at a few other companies, and we were going to have to almost quadruple our deliveries to justify the cost per delivery, whereas with Onfleet, the cost per delivery was miniscule compared to the savings we’ll be getting. And it has allowed us to grow our deliveries, which is great.” Khaled Naim, co-founder and CEO of Onfleet, says the United team has impressed him by being so “nimble.” “They’ve been able to make decisions and act quickly, and that has enabled them to make huge efficiency gains in their delivery operations,” he says. “They are great at collecting data and using it to inform decision-making. The fact that they were able to increase their delivery capacity by 50 percent that quickly, without adding trucks or drivers — we love hearing those stories, because that’s how we know Onfleet is really making an impact on customers.”

Visibility to the End Consumer

Looking to the future, Farr says that phase two of United’s partnership with Onfleet will be translating the grocer’s newfound delivery visibility to its customers, whom it refers to as “guests.” “Onfleet has the capabilities to allow guests to track their orders when they’re en route to their house,” he observes. “It’s kind of a closed-loop connection, so once that task is completed on our end, it’s available for the customer. How great is it to send a notification 10 to 15 minutes prior to the delivery, as opposed to only having the two-hour window?” he says. This phase will come after United finishes developing a completely new app for ecommerce and in-store shoppers, according to Farr. “The new app is kind of our first building block before we can start adding this enhancement for our delivery guests,” he explains. “What was a selling point for Onfleet is they already have that capability built in. … [I]t’s just on our end now to dedicate the resources as we progress through some of these other IT initiatives to be able to get it out in play. It’s something we were already paying for, so now we can roll it out to our guests at no additional cost.”



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Acosta Sales & Marketing, Inc. 17 Advantage Solutions 41 Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute 15 Albertsons Companies 38-39 American Greetings Corporation 67 Bascom Family Farms 113 Blount Fine Foods 7, Inside Back Cover Brill 13, 133 Brookshire Grocery Company 73 C&S Wholesale Grocers 81 CA Tobacco Control Regional Ad 79 Clean Energy 4 Clif Bar & Company 79 Coborn’s Inc. 96 Creekstone Farms 101 Crossmark 99 Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc. 17 Domino Foods 43 E&J Gallo Winery 91 Fareway 97 FoodStory Brands 70 Formula Four Beverages 77 Forte Products 149 General Mills Inc 61 Giant Eagle Inc. 83 Golden West Food Group 117 Goya Foods Inc 11 Heineken USA Inc. 85 HyVee 50-51 Inline Plastics Corp 141 John B. Sanfilippo & Son, Inc. 65 Kellogg Company 53 Koelnmesse GMBH 126 Lindar Corporation 98 Litehouse 23, 123 Mann Packing Co., Inc. 87 Mars Chocolate NA/ Wrigley 109 Mason Vitamins Inc. 21 MasonWays Indestructible Plastics 115 Meijer 35 Milo’s Tea 80 Nature Nate’s Honey 105 New Hope Network 129 Noluma 56-57 PepsiCo 59 Private Label Manufacturers Association 119 Procter & Gamble Distributing Company 75 Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA Company 30-31 Reynolds Consumer Products 64 Rouses 97 Shipt Back Cover SpartanNash 33 Stemilt Growers, Inc. 124 Supervalu Inc. 104 The Coca-Cola Company 111 The Hershey Company 9, 69 The J.M. Smucker Company 55 The Kroger Co. 44-45 The North West Company 86 Tosca Ltd. 95 Trion Industries 19 Twinlab Consolidation Corporation 71 Uncommon Flavors of Europe 122 UNFI 47 Unilever North America Inside Front Cover-3 UPEMI 114 USA Bouquet Company 125 PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2019



Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Dairy-Free Indulgence

Steeped in Sustainability

Innovative startup Steeped Inc. has taken an environmentally responsible approach with Steeped Coffee. The product’s proprietary single-serve brewing method delivers freshly ground, nitro-sealed specialty coffee in award-winning packaging made using renewable and compostable materials. Company founder and CEO Josh Wilbur patented the Steeped Brewing Method in response to the environmental impact of billions of unrecyclable pods accumulating in landfills each year. Unable to find viable options, Steeped sourced and developed its own sustainable packaging materials, which are now available to other CPG companies. To prepare the product, consumers just add hot water to the Steeped bags, with no machines, special equipment or plastic pods necessary. Steeped Coffee comes in five roasts: light, medium, dark, French roast and a single-origin Swiss Water Process decaf. The suggested retail price for a box of eight individual single-serve packs is $14.99.

Better for Babies

Beyond Better Foods brand Enlightened, a pioneer in high-protein, low-sugar ice cream, has added five dairyfree varieties to its line of low-calorie ice cream bars. Made using an almond milk base to recreate the same taste, texture and flavor as Enlightened’s dairy options, each dairy-free SKU contains just 100 calories or fewer, as well as being 100 percent vegan and gluten-free. The spoon-free treats draw their flavor inspirations from classic and quirky fan favorites: Salted Caramel, a salted caramel bar with a caramel swirl; Mint Chip, a mint bar studded with chocolate chips; Mocha Chocolate Chip, a mocha bar with chocolate chips; Monkey Business, a banana bar with a smooth peanut butter swirl and chocolate chips; and Peanut Butter & Jelly, a peanut butter bar with a tart raspberry jam swirl. A box of four 3.75-fluid-ounce frozen dessert bars retails for a suggested $5.99.

On a Roll

An innovative twist on a classic dairy snack enjoyed by parents and children alike, Babybel Mini Rolls, part of the Bel Brands USA family, a subsidiary of Fromageries Bel, adds creativity to snacktime with a fun and exciting spiral shape. Babybel Innovation Manager Iris Terolli-Hall notes that “kids will have fun pulling, peeling and twisting their Babybel Mini Rolls, and parents can feel good about serving a healthy and filling snack that’s tasty and convenient for all occasions.” Containing no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors, and providing a good source of protein, Babybel Mini Rolls come in a 5-count portable pouch in the dairy aisle for a suggested retail price of $3.89.

Serenity Kids, described as the only high-fat, low-sugar baby food on the market, offers an innovative alternative to typically fruit-based baby food pouches. The brand’s Ethical Meats and Organic Veggies blends for babies over 6 months old were designed to match the macronutrients of breast milk, in accordance with the USDA’s dietary guidelines for babies. Available in savory flavor profiles like Grass Fed Beef with Organic Kale and Sweet Potato, and Organic Sweet Potato & Spinach with Avocado Oil, Serenity Kids provides the protein, zinc, iron, B vitamins and healthy fats that are vital to a baby’s development, without any added sugars, preservatives or GMOs. The American-made ready-toserve recipes feature exclusively organic vegetables and GAP-certified meat sourced from small family farms using regenerative and ethical farming techniques. The Ethical Meats varieties retail for a suggested $23.95 per 6-pack of convenient 3.5-ounce recyclable pouches that are shelf-stable for 18 months, while the Organic Veggies options go for a suggested $13.95 per 6-pack.


Be Your Own Barista

Everything but the Pig

Having turned mushrooms into 100 percent plant-based crispy bacon, courtesy of Beyond Burger creator Dave Anderson, Outstanding Foods has rolled out PigOut Pigless Bacon Chips, a better-for-you snack that can also be used in any recipe where one would normally use pork bacon. With 73 percent less saturated fat and 69 percent less sodium than its taste-alike counterpart, the item is also high in antioxidants and cholesterol-free — in fact, it’s loaded with cholesterol-lowering lovastatin — antibacterial and antimicrobial, and “free of chemicals and cruelty,” according to Outstanding Foods. Made by a company whose mission is to make it easier for everyone to eat more plant-based foods, the product has attracted a raft of celebrity investors, including “Dog Whisperer” reality TV star Cesar Millan, actors Alan Cumming and Emily Deschanel, and musicians Dierks Bentley, Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy) and Jared Followill (Kings of Leon). A 3.5-ounce bag of Original, Chipotle, Cheddar or Kansas City BBQ chips retails for a suggested $4.99.

Reddi-wip, part of Conagra Brands Inc., has moved into the coffee creamer category with its Barista line of cream-based products — Nitro Creamer and Sweet Foam — to provide consumers a coffeehouse experience any time of day, without the coffee shop lines or price. The Nitro Creamer can be used in both hot and cold coffee beverages, as well as non-coffee drinks such as root beer or orange soda for a root beer float or an orange Dreamsicle-like treat, while the Sweet Foam can be used along with the Nitro Creamer or other traditional coffee creamers to add a slightly sweet finishing touch, with the foam settling on top of beverage, making the product suitable for lattes, caramel macchiatos and the like. Containing only six ingredients each, including real sugar, and no artificial sweeteners, flavors or preservatives, both gluten-free, low-calorie items have a taste distinct from regular Reddi-wip, delivering dairy sweetness and notes of vanilla. The suggested retail price is $3.99 for a 13-ounce can of either item.;

Easy Organic

Beetnik Foods, which specializes in organic, gluten-free, humanely raised, grass-fed beef and chicken entrées, has launched an eight-SKU frozen product line. Crafted to satisfy consumers’ need for organic meal options in a range of on-trend flavors, the line’s varieties include Shepherd’s Pie with Grass Fed Beef, Chicken Chili Verde with Rice, Moroccan Inspired Chicken with Brown Rice, Peruvian Inspired Chicken with Brown Rice, Grass Fed Beef Chili and Sweet Potato, Lemongrass Chicken with Rice, Thai Style Grass Fed Beef with Coconut Rice, and Lemon Chicken with Cauliflower Rice. A 10-ounce frozen meal retails for a suggested $5.49.

For Noodles and More

From noodle purveyor extraordinaire Momofuku, Ssäm Sauce features gochujang, the traditional umami-rich Korean chili paste, along with miso, sake, soy sauce and rice vinegar. The all-purpose, everyday condiment is currently available in two dunkand-drizzle-ready flavors: Original and Spicy. While Original balances the spiciness of the chilis with a subtle sweetness, adding a tangy, complex flavor to a wide range of foods, Spicy amps up the heat of the chilis to add a perfectly calibrated kick to just about anything. Versions of the sauce have been used since the opening of Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2004, but with the current offering, the company believes it has found the perfect combination of ingredients. What used to be available only to diners at Momofuku restaurants can now be purchased for a suggested $5.99 per 12-ounce bottle. PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2019



Change or Die GROCERS OF ALL SIZES NEED TO RE THINK THEIR BUSINESS STR ATEGY TO MEE T THE NEEDS OF TODAY’S CONSUMER. The grocery landscape is rapidly changing, and while it might not quite be do or die, it is definitely time to change. “Learning a new idea is easy, but forgetting how you used to do business is hard,” said Kevin Kelley, co-founder of Los Angeles-based design firm Shook Kelley. “But in grocery, if we don’t change, we die,” Kelley noted during his presentation at this spring’s Western Michigan University Food Marketing Conference, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Early in his architectural career, Kelley became interested in how space can affect people — the smallest changes in lighting or furniture placement had a big impact on how people “felt” in a space. This would greatly influence how he began to work with grocers in developing the space where customers shopped. “The idea of place is starting to change,” he said. “How do we change our ‘place’ to still bring people together? We have to change our value proposition of place.” This also means grocery has to change its relationship with customers. It’s no secret that many people find the process of grocery shopping a tiresome one, and the advent of technology and online ordering has lifted some of that burden, but physical stores still have a place. The stores simply have to make the payoff of coming into the store greater than the work of buying groceries. Kelley noted that buying and shopping are two radically different ideas, and that grocers need to move away from the buying mentality. “If retailers are fixated on the buying, they’re not going to survive,” he added. “They have to shift to shopping, which is an experience. People go where it is a sensory delight.” Buying is intent-driven and transaction-focused, while shopping is more unplanned and leisure-focused. Buying gets reduced down to a commodity, while shopping is ideal for differentiation. Buying is typically about solving immediate needs, and shopping is more about exploring ideas on how to live a better life. “You have to help people imagine how their life will be improved by shopping your store,” Kelley said. The center of civilization has always been going to the market, which should give joy and delight, something the internet can’t really replicate. For grocers to continue to succeed, they need to rethink their business model and format. Shook Kelley worked with Niemann Foods Inc. on its new concept, Harvest Market, which will soon open a second store. (Progressive Grocer featured the first Harvest Market, in Champaign, Ill., in its March 2017 issue.) When working with Rich Niemann Jr., co-owner of Niemann Foods, Kelley wanted to 154

find out what he was passionate about, something he does for all of his clients. “Find your soul, find what you care about, and you’ll find an audience that cares about it, too,” Kelley explained. For Niemann, who also owns a ranch that supplies beef to Harvest Market, that passion was about the family farmer. That was the genesis of the Harvest Market concept, which highlights the farm-to-table concept throughout the store. The in-store eatery is even called Farmhouse Restaurant, and the store’s website showcases all of the farmers who supply the store. The location even features an in-house butter-churning facility to really highlight the made-in-house commitment. Kelley also worked with Canadian grocer Freson Bros. on its new concept, which features the tagline “Alberta Grown, Alberta Owned.” What was important to the owners, members of the Lovsin family, was their heritage as butchers, and in creating a new store concept, the Lovsins also created a new brand for their meat, Real Alberta Meat. The family has opened two stores under the new concept, and a third is on the way. “You don’t need many hooks to tell a story,” Kelley said. “Young and old care about craft.”

7 Changing Aspects in Grocery

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Less about warehouse of food products, and more about compelling food vision and food philosophy Store has to be a meeting place for customers to bond over food and drinks Shopping has to have a sense of discovery; take customers on a food journey that’s fun, experiential and leisure-based Fixate less on customer service and more on hospitality; treat customers like guests Fewer aisles and more solution mindset zones to help customers solve problems and imagine new possibilities Move out of the middle; become more extreme in viewpoint and offerings Create more private label brands that are story-rich — not solely price-focused — and best in their category

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We celebrate the 2019 Top Women in Grocery winners! Special congrats to our very own Alice Francis for standing out as a true leader – you inspire us and our shoppers every day to Bring the Magic. Learn more about Shipt at

Alice Francis EVP of Operations, Shipt