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2022 PRODUCT TRENDS IRI shares insights PROTEIN SPOTLIGHT Transparency and trust WORKFORCE REPORT Solving labor challenges

Celebrating a Century of Grocery Innovation January 2022

Volume 101, Number 1

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Contents 01. 22

CARDENAS MARKETS Backed by one of the nation’s largest privateequity firms, Cardenas Markets is poised for growth in its home state of California, as well as adjacent states where it has made acquisitions.

Volume 101 Issue 1

PCC COMMUNITY MARKETS Seattle-based PCC Community Markets is always on the cutting edge of what’s next in sustainability, which, despite the fact that it operates fewer than 20 stores in Washington state, has this Top Regional on the radar of major chains.

KOWALSKI’S MARKETS Another hometown favorite, Kowalski’s dazzles the Minneapolis-St. Paul market with 11 locations designed for differentiation, from physical appearance to product assortment.

SENDIK’S This family-owned grocer has made a name for itself in its core market of Milwaukee, where the operator of 17 stores is a hometown favorite as it approaches its 100th anniversary.

WEIS MARKETS This publicly held but family-controlled operator of 197 stores embodies what it means to be a Top Regional, with a combined 166 of its stores in Pennsylvania (117) and neighboring Maryland (49). Weis believes in format flexibility and boasts annual sales of more than $4 billion.

COBORN’S This 100-year-old retailer is fourth-generation led and on the move from its home state of Minnesota. With a balance of grocery and convenience stores, Coborn’s has recently completed an acquisition to increase its penetration in Wisconsin and enter northern Michigan.

MARKET BASKET This venerable New England grocer, in operation for 105 years, boasts a unique family structure and a proudly retro design aesthetic in 90 stores known for value and service.

PLUM MARKET Highly regarded for its high-end assortment in the Detroit area, Plum Market is a Top Regional with a unique business model that will be put to the test nationally in the coming year.

BASHAS’ FAMILY OF STORES Bashas’ has earned a reputation as Arizona’s grocer, with more than 100 stores located in the state. The company is poised to take its Top Regional status to a new level after its recent acquisition by Raley’s Supermarkets.

GIANT EAGLE Led by CEO Laura Karet, this operator of 474 Giant Eagle grocery stores and GetGo convenience stores has a reputation for innovation, a useful trait in its trading area of western Pennsylvania, northern Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana.

20 Features FEATURE


20 Chains of Distinction Making Moves

30 A Century of Excellence

The modern food retailing industry emerged about 100 years ago, and with it was born an innovative brand with a commitment to serve.

Departments 8 EDITOR’S NOTE

A New Century of Service Begins 10 IN-STORE EVENTS CALENDAR


Salty Snacks 4

Here are the 10 regional operators on PG’s radar in 2022.



Sports Nutrition

Supporting Womenand People of ColorOwned Businesses


Helping Shoppers Adopt Healthful Eating Habits



The Year of Emily Mariko


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Contact your GOYA representative or email | *Nielsen Answers on Demand, Total U.S. (All Outlets Combined), Dollar Sales, 52 Weeks Ending 11/6/21 ©2022 Goya Foods, Inc.

Contents 01.22

Volume 101 Issue 1

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 773-992-4450 Fax: 773-992-4455 GROCERY GROUP PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672


Trust and Transparency in Protein


Shopper perceptions and expectations are changing as grocers tweak the meat case and their messaging.

MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 347-962-9395



Ready, Set, Flex


A new modular concept helps retailers of all sizes adapt their layouts for optimal selling opportunities.



JUNIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER-GROCERY GROUP Natalie Meehan p 773-992-4410 m 619-823-4926

Higher Prices and Fewer Deals

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373

Low-income shoppers face a double whammy, but retailers and brands can help.




What’s in Store for CPGs in ’22?


A new market review and outlook from IRI sheds light on trends and opportunities.


60 The New Workplace

Four strategies for how grocers can hire and retain workers amid an unprecedented labor landscape. 70 SUSTAINABILITY

Committing to Make the Entire Industry More Sustainable





The Consumer Goods Forum publishes its first annual report to accelerate action and build trust.

ART DIRECTOR Bill Antkowiak


PROGRESSIVE GROCER (ISSN 0033-0787, USPS 920-600) is published monthly by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Single copy price $14, except selected special issues. Foreign single copy price $16, except selected special issues. Subscription: $125 a year; $230 for a two year supscription; Canada/Mexico $150 for a one year supscription; $270 for a two year supscription (Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40031729. Foreign $170 a one year supscrption; $325 for a two year supscription (call for air mail rates). Digital Subscription: $87 one year supscription; $161 two year supscription. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL 60631 and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: Send all address changes to brand, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200. Copyright ©2022 EnsembleIQ All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce in whole or in part. All letters to the editors of this magazine will be treated as having been submitted for publication. The magazine reserves the right to edit and abridge them. The publication is available in microform from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.


A New Century of Service Begins JANUARY 2022 IS A SPECIAL MONTH FOR PROGRESSIVE GROCER AND THE INDUSTRY AT L ARGE AS WE OBSERVE OUR 100 T H ANNIVERSARY AND THE DAWN OF MODERN FOOD RE TAILING. ne hundred years is a long time, especially in the business world, where few companies manage to stay relevant for such an extended period. This is especially true in the retail industry, and grocery in particular, where only a handful of companies have sustained operations for 100 years. Progressive Grocer is among those that can claim this notable accomplishment Our first issue was published in January 1922, and to put in perspective how long ago that was, consider that it was only a decade earlier that Arizona and New Mexico had become states. World War I had ended just four years earlier, and the nation’s population of 117 million was only a third of what it is today. Automobile ownership was limited but growing quickly, and commercial flights were just beginning. Households in cities and towns were quickly gaining electricity, but only about a third of the population had telephone service, and refrigerators wouldn’t become common until the 1940s. The way that grocers operated in 1922 was also very different. Stores were tiny, and assortments and operating hours were limited. The industry was male-dominated, as evidenced by references to grocers as “he” and “him” in early issues of the pocket-size magazine. The right of women to vote had only been granted two years earlier with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. It was a time of great disruption and transformation in society, and the grocery industry was beginning to modernize quickly. Against this backdrop, PG was introduced with a simple value proposition. “In the spirit of service, we take pleasure in sending you the first issue of The Progressive Grocer” is how the editor at the time described the vision for the brand. The statement is simple, elegant and enduring. Proper credit is due to those who established the brand with a guiding philosophy so straightforward that it could be executed by their successors. Our archives reveal a brand that consistently delivered on that purpose, chronicling significant changes that happened throughout the decades and sharing useful information to help grocers do their jobs better. PG has filled an important role as a trusted source of information to the industry, even as the methods of sharing information have changed and become increasingly digital. 8

Whatever the delivery method, from a pocket-size periodical to mobile alerts and browser notifications, the founders of the brand were wise to adopt a service philosophy, doing so long before the concept of “purpose-driven” became common for so many organizations. We hope that the service philosophy is as evident today as it was during PG’s early years, because the need for information to help grocers succeed has never been greater. While the forces that drove change in the 1920s and beyond were automobiles, electricity, refrigeration and quickly evolving social norms, today the list includes the internet, mobile devices, automation, new distribution channels, shifting demographics and product preferences, and the forces of sustainability permeating retail operations and shopper expectations. Tomorrow, it will be something else, something as unimaginable to us today as the internet and mobile devices were to people in the 1920s. That’s fine. As long as PG maintains the spirit of service on which the brand was founded, it will be able survive unforeseen changes, continue to help grocers succeed and remain relevant for another 100 years.

PG has filled an important role as a trusted source of information to the industry, even as the methods of sharing information have changed and become increasingly digital.

Mike Troy Editorial Director, Grocery Group




Irish-American Heritage Month National Celery Month National Flour Month National Frozen Food Month

National Noodle Month National Nutrition Month National Peanut Month National Sauce Month















Paczki Day. These round jam-filled Polish pastries are a highlight of the pre-Lenten period.


National Oreo Cookie Day. Feature some of the available varieties of this iconic treat — Double Stuf, anyone?


Daylight Saving Time National Chicken Noodle Soup Day


National Flapjack Day National Cereal Day


National Potato Chip Day. Most popular flavors? Run an online consumer poll to find out.

National Oregon Day. Be sure to spotlight the preeminent culinary offerings of the Beaver State.


National Kansas Day. Show off the foods and beverages for which the Sunflower State is famous.

Texas Independence Day. Mark the occasion with a deep dive into the best of the onetime Lone Star Republic’s food and beverage products.

National Crab Meat Day National Meatball Day


National Curl Crush Day. Celebrate tresses of various textures by promoting your selection of ethnic hair care products.

Soup It Forward Day. Encourage shoppers and associates to create homemade soups for families or friends in need.

National Ranch Dressing Day. Offer a list of this versatile condiment’s many uses beyond jazzing up salads.

St. Patrick’s Day Holi

National Snack Day. Ask customers to post online the directions for preparing their most novel between-meal hunger busters.

Johnny Appleseed Day. This is as good a time as any to honor the ubiquitous fruit to which this horticultural giant dedicated his life.

National Sloppy Joe Day. Provide several easy variations on this classic dish for fun family dinners.

National Frozen Food Day. Where would we be without the technology that enables us to enjoy a variety of products fresh from the freezer?

Organize Your Home Office Day. Let shoppers know they can pick up any necessary items in your school/ office supply aisle.

National Corn Dog Day

National Poultry Day


Vernal Equinox. Spring has finally sprung.


As the Academy Awards Ceremony airs on this night, suggest that shoppers load up on edibles for a watch party with fellow movie fans in their households.



National Crunchy Taco Day. Some of us prefer the soft ones, but to each their own.


National Black Forest Cake Day. Sell it by the slice in the bakery department for a quick dessert or anytime indulgence.


National American Diabetes Association Alert Day. Raise the awareness of your shoppers regarding this serious health condition affecting 34 million-plus Americans.


National Nevada Day. Use this occasion to present great foods and beverages from the Silver State.


Melba Toast Day National Tamale Day


National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day National Cheesesteak Day


National Take a Walk in the Park Day. Challenge associates to get their steps in for optimal health, with a prize for whoever logs the most miles.


National Crayon Day. Hold a drawing contest for young shoppers depicting sections of the store, using these well-loved sticks of pigmented wax.


International Waffle Day. Invite customers to enjoy this dish — in combination with other foods like fruit or chicken — any time of day.


Make Up Your Own Holiday, preferably one that requires the preparation of a delicious meal.


Shelf Stoppers

Salty Snacks

Basket Facts

Total Department Performance Latest 52 Wks W/E 11/27/21

Salty Snacks

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 11/28/20



Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 11/30/19


Top Salty Snack Categories by Dollar Sales Potato Chips

Tortilla Chips


Variety Packs

Meat Snacks


How much is the average American household spending per trip on various salty snack products versus the year-ago period?

6,000,000,000 5,000,000,000 4,000,000,000



on all salty snack items, up 6.3% compared with a year ago

2,000,000,000 1,000,000,000 0

Latest 52 Wks W/E 11/27/21

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 11/28/20

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 11/30/19

Source: Nielsen, Total U.S. (All outlets combined) – includes grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, select dollar stores, select warehouse clubs and military commissaries (DeCA) for the 52 weeks ending Nov. 27, 2021

As snack manufacturers look to tailor offerings to deliver snacks that appeal to both the palate and the psyche, knowing what drives a consumer to pick one snack rather than another is vital to stay competitive in the $29 billion U.S. salty snack industry. There is a perception that snacks are intended more for between meals than for actual meal replacements, but busy on-the-go lifestyles often dictate a need for quick meals, and many opt for fast-food options that can be high in calories and low in health benefits. There is a massive untapped opportunity to gain market share in the nutritious, portable and easy-to-eat meal alternative market that snack manufacturers could fill. Finding whitespace opportunities that fit the market dynamic, culture and taste preferences takes a critical and in-depth view of the retail landscape and the consumer trends driving purchase habits. Meal replacement options represent an untapped opportunity. Broad distribution strategies that get snacks in the right places and that fill an at-the-moment snacking occasion will be best poised for success.”


on cheese snacks, up 3.7% compared with a year ago


on popcorn, up 7.3% compared with a year ago

—Carman Allison, VP of Sales Development, NielsenIQ

Generational Snapshot Which cohort is spending, on average, the most per trip on potato chips?


Gen Xers


The Greatest Generation





Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Oct. 30, 2021



on pretzels, up 5.8% compared with a year ago

Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Oct. 30, 2021


Global New Products Database

Sports Nutrition Market Overview

Sports and performance drink sales steadily increased 18% during 2015-20, a trend that’s expected to continue. While category growth was slow but steady during 2014-19, with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, dollar sales declined nearly 6%. Mintel forecasts sales to rebound in 2021 and projects the category to resume fairly steady growth through 2025.

Key Issues

More than half of consumers say that flavor is important when choosing a sports/performance/protein drink, and 70% agree that brands should offer more flavor varieties for sports and performance drinks. More than eight in 10 adults take steps to remain active, reporting that their routines involve some kind of exercise. Thirty-nine percent of adults say that maintaining their exercise routine has become a higher priority because of COVID-19.

Of consumers drink sports drinks, while 22% of consumers eat performance bars.


The COVID-19 pandemic has driven consumers to increase at-home cooking and snacking. While this has benefited most snack categories, it undercut those options oriented toward meal replacement and eating on the go. Seeking healthier options and snacking more often were the top two reasons for consuming more bars in 2020. When asked “Are you eating nutrition/ performance bars more often this year compared to 2020?” 34% are eating more and half say that it’s due to having healthier options. When asked “Are you drinking sports/performance drinks more often at home this year compared to 2020?” 35% say that they are. A third of sports/performance/protein drink consumers say that it’s important for the drink to be low in calories and free from artificial ingredients.


What Consumers Want, and Why Ingredients are top of mind for both sports/ performance drinks and bars. To increase consumption frequency and reduce the incidence of product swaps, there’s opportunity for brands to incorporate functional ingredients that boost immunity, promote mental clarity and/or aid gut health. Many use bars between meals, and more than a quarter use them to replace meals altogether. Secondary benefits — boosting energy, providing nutrients and improving health — suggest the many functional benefits that can help enhance and differentiate bars. This supports the potential for functional bars to take an even more central role in a post-pandemic landscape in supporting well-being, bolstering immunity and addressing a range of health concerns. Consumers maintain a flavor-first strategy when shopping for sports/performance drinks, suggesting that brands should focus on flavor, too. Low sugar, vitamins/minerals and low calorie counts are also top-tier influencers. Natural ingredients and clean-label formulations will be at the top of sports drink consumers’ minds for the foreseeable future.

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ALL’S WELLNESS By Diane Quagliani

Helping Shoppers Adopt Healthful Eating Habits RE TAILERS CAN CONSIDER A “FOOD AS MEDICINE” APPROACH. anuary brings renewed enthusiasm for healthier habits, including the way we eat. This year, retailers and retail dietitians can use a “food as medicine” approach to help shoppers adopt better habits — and potentially help retailers earn higher return on investment (ROI) — all year long. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation (Academy Foundation) has developed several research-based resources that describe strategies to implement and evaluate “food as medicine” retail programs, the key role of the retail dietitian and case studies of existing initiatives (see below). The effort was supported by a planning grant from Walmart.

What is ‘Food as Medicine’ at Retail?

In general, “food as medicine” uses food and nutrition to support health and wellness. At retail, programs ideally are led by retail dietitians, with support throughout the company. Programs target customers, employees and/or the community, and focus on eating to stay well, managing health conditions, improving food security or promoting food safety. If, like the vast majority of retailers, you already offer similar programs, you’re using a “food as medicine” approach.

“Food as medicine” programs target customers, employees and/ or the community, and focus on eating to stay well, managing health conditions, improving food security or promoting food safety. and one-on-one counseling for conditions like diabetes or heart disease. Medically tailored nutrition: This is a comprehensive approach for shoppers with more complex health issues. Retail dietitians prescribe personalized meals or boxes of food aligned with the shopper’s health condition. This approach is often combined with medical nutrition therapy by a dietitian.

Applying ‘Food as Medicine’ at Retail

Following a scoping review of the food retail health-and-wellness landscape, the Academy Foundation developed five models that retailers can use to implement and evaluate “food as medicine” programs. Combining program models led to better results, including positive health outcomes and ROI. Path-to-purchase marketing: These programs are intended to produce behavior or environmental changes by increasing shopper awareness of, and knowledge about, nutritious foods, or by increasing the foods’ availability or affordability. A few examples are nutrition shelf tags, product nutrition information on a shopping app or website, cooking demos, media interviews by retail dietitians, product placement, price discounts, and coupons. Food incentives: Incentives promote nutrient-rich foods through, for example, coupons and vouchers for food-insecure families, digital coupons for customers, and discounts for employees. Prescriptions: Retail dietitians prescribe fruits and vegetables or other foods to people with health conditions or with food security issues. The physical “prescription” could be a coupon, a voucher with monetary value, or a standard prescription to present in-store. Personalized nutrition education: Retail dietitians engage directly with shoppers to encourage positive behavior changes. Examples include articles, blogs or classes on health and nutrition topics, supermarket tours,


Learn More

To get started with “food as medicine” at retail, access the following resources and more from the Academy Foundation at foundation/resources/food-asmedicine: “Food as Medicine Opportunity in Food Retail” “Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Landscape Paper and Framework” “Food as Medicine in the Retail Setting: A Comprehensive Guide to Program Evaluation”

Diane Quagliani, MBA, RDN, LDN, specializes in nutrition communications for consumer and health professional audiences. She has assisted national retailers and CPGs with nutrition strategy, web content development, trade show exhibiting, and the creation and implementation of shelf tag programs.


Supporting Women- and People of Color-Owned Businesses IT’S ESSENTIAL THAT THESE COMPANIES OFFERING UNIQUE GOODS AND SERVICES RECEIVE THE FUNDING THE Y NEED TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE. ransforming the shape of the corporate world means change at every level — and that includes buying. Supporting women- and people of color (POC)owned businesses makes our communities stronger and promotes equality. With the U.S. Census finding that only 38.2% of businesses are owned by women and by people of color, the support of a large organization can make or break their success and determine the positive impact that they’re able to have.

The Issue: Lack of Funding

Women- and POC-owned businesses are less likely to receive venture capital funding compared with their counterparts. According to a study by


Crunchbase, the percentage of venture capital funding received by women business owners fell from 2.8% to 2.3% in 2019. Additionally, Black and Latinx business owners received just 2.6% of venture capital funding in 2020. If VC funding isn’t an option, how do these businesses flourish? The answer is, by relying mostly on consumers to keep their doors open. Because most VC funding is provided to Caucasian men, buying with these businesses not only keeps them up and running, but also provides jobs for women and minorities.

Growing Interest

Major brands and personalities are already advocating for more support and bringing the lack of funding that these businesses face into the public eye. Tennis legend Serena Williams, a recent guest at NEW’s 2021 Leadership Summit, created an early-stage venture capital fund, Serena Ventures, and has provided funding for women- and minority-owned businesses. The organization has funded

Major brands and personalities are already advocating for more support and bringing the lack of funding that these businesses face into the public eye. more than 50 companies in a multitude of industries. Music superstars Rihanna and H.E.R. have provided funding for Partake Foods, a vegan cookie company owned by Denise Woodard. According to Forbes, “Woodard is the first woman of color to raise $1 million for a food startup, and her business is scaling quickly.” Additionally, designer Tory Burch has created the Tory Burch Foundation to help female entrepreneurs succeed. The foundation has already granted roughly $25 million to woman-owned startups.

The Benefits Are Clear

Businesses built by underrepresented groups offer unique goods and services created from fresh perspectives. Supporting women and POC-owned businesses means so much more than a unique business opportunity, however — it means doing the right thing, and building a thriving network of diverse businesses around the country that offer fresh opportunities to these communities.

Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women (NEW), a nonprofit learning, leadership and gender equality advocacy organization of 13,500-plus members representing nearly 900 organizations, 300-plus national and regional corporate partners, and 22 regional groups in the United States and Canada. NEW advances gender equality and diversity in the retail, consumer goods, financial services and technology industries. Alter joined NEW in 2017 and has wide-ranging experience in the markets that NEW represents.

Shelf Management Merchandising Support, Customized To Your Store's Needs • Floor Planning • Assortment Analysis • Schematics • Shelf Execution • Resets + Remodels • Store Scanning • Business Analytics Contact us: | PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2022



Top Regionals

CARDENAS MARKETS Backed by one of the nation’s largest privateequity firms, Cardenas Markets is poised for growth in its home state of California, as well as adjacent states where it has made acquisitions.

PCC COMMUNITY MARKETS Seattle-based PCC Community Markets is always on the cutting edge of what’s next in sustainability, which, despite the fact that it operates fewer than 20 stores in Washington state, has this Top Regional on the radar of major chains.

KOWALSKI’S MARKETS Another hometown favorite, Kowalski’s dazzles the Minneapolis-St. Paul market with 11 locations designed for differentiation, from physical appearance to product assortment.

BASHAS’ FAMILY OF STORES Bashas’ has earned a reputation as Arizona’s grocer, with more than 100 stores located in the state. The company is poised to take its Top Regional status to a new level after its recent acquisition by Raley’s Supermarkets.


Chains of Distinction Making Moves


Here are the 10 regional operators on PG’s radar in 2022.


he 2022 class of 10 grocers featured as Progressive Grocer’s Top Regionals is notable for a variety of unique reasons. For some, it’s a business model that includes convenience stores, an extensive foodservice program or a focus on the nation’s fastest-growing ethnic group. For others, the company’s ownership structure makes them stand out, from family-owned to publicly held or backed by private equity. Top regional status also could be a function of longevity, rabid shopper loyalty or early adoption of a trend gone mainstream. These traits and more are possessed by this year’s group of Top Regionals, which make them worthy of the distinction as well as formidable competitors for those that operate in the same markets. To make that determination, PG editors surveyed the competitive landscape to identify a diverse group of companies with interesting attributes and stories to tell. The companies we singled out for our Top Regional designation are as follows:

SENDIK’S This family-owned grocer has made a name for itself in its core market of Milwaukee, where the operator of 17 stores is a hometown favorite as it approaches its 100th anniversary.

WEIS MARKETS This publicly held but family-controlled operator of 197 stores embodies what it means to be a Top Regional, with a combined 166 of its stores in Pennsylvania (117) and neighboring Maryland (49). Weis believes in format flexibility and boasts annual sales of more than $4 billion.

COBORN’S This 100-year-old retailer is fourth-generation led and on the move from its home state of Minnesota. With a balance of grocery and convenience stores, Coborn’s has recently completed an acquisition to increase its penetration in Wisconsin and enter northern Michigan.

PLUM MARKET Highly regarded for its high-end assortment in the Detroit area, Plum Market is a Top Regional with a unique business model that will be put to the test nationally in the coming year.

MARKET BASKET This venerable New England grocer, in operation for 105 years, boasts a unique family structure and a proudly retro design aesthetic in 90 stores known for value and service.

GIANT EAGLE Led by CEO Laura Karet, this operator of 474 Giant Eagle grocery stores and GetGo convenience stores has a reputation for innovation, a useful trait in its trading area of western Pennsylvania, northern Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana.

Top Regionals may lack the scale and purchasing power of national competitors, but this year’s group of outstanding operators doesn’t let that get in the way of innovating, differentiating and finding new ways to serve their communities.




Top Regionals Bashas’ Family of Stores Headquarters: Chandler, Ariz. Store Count: 118 CEO: Edward Basha III Regions: Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation




Cardenas Markets Headquarters: Ontario, Calif. Store Count: 60 CEO: Doug Sanders Region: California, Arizona and Nevada




Ask any Arizonan to name the state’s “hometown grocer,” and more than likely, the name will be Bashas’. Eddie Basha opened his family’s first grocery store in Chandler in 1932. From there, the company grew into a 100-plus store chain across Arizona, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation, catering to every market from Native Americans to Hispanics. A new year brings new opportunities for the Southwest’s top regional grocer, however. Bashas’ will be ringing in 2022 with new ownership, courtesy of an agreement with California-based regional grocer Raley’s Holding Co. According to the companies, the agreement brings together two leading indie grocers with rich legacies and shared values: employee achievement, exceptional customer service and a deep commitment to local communities. CEO Edward Basha and Keith Knopf, president and CEO of Raley’s, told Bashas’ 13,000 employees that the company’s store banners, employment and operations in Arizona would continue without change or interruption. As a fully formed operating company within the Raley’s enterprise, Bashas’ will also retain its corporate headquarters, stores and distribution center in Arizona. According to Basha, the pandemic showed his family that it was time to sell the chain. “The added scale would be an added benefit to our members and also to the customers,” he told an Arizona newspaper. “It was a question of taking an honest assessment, putting our egos aside, and considering what was best for our members and customers.” —Gina Acosta

Cardenas Markets is a top regional grocer to keep an eye on due to its ownership structure, senior leadership, history of acquisitions and a growing base of shoppers. In less than five years, Cardenas has branched out from an established presence in Southern California with a focus on serving Hispanic shoppers, to extend to Northern California, Las Vegas and Arizona. The growth began in 2016, when private-equity firm KKR acquired Cardenas after investing in the retailer the prior year. In 2017, Cardenas merged its 31 locations with Mi Pueblo, a chain of 15 locations in the San Francisco area that had emerged from bankruptcy in 2014 with the backing of Victory Park Capital. KKR and Victory then rebranded the Mi Pueblo locations in 2017, and also funded Cardenas’s full ownership of the seven-store Los Altos Ranch Market chain in Phoenix, a retailer it had invested in alongside Northgate Gonzalez Market, with which it competes in Southern California. Four additional Cardenas openings followed in 2019, and the June 2020 opening of a store in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier gave Cardenas 60 locations. However, that milestone was short-lived, as roughly nine months later the Whittier store location was sold. Going forward, Cardenas has ample expansion opportunities, given the favorable demographics of its three-state trading area and the acquisitive nature of its private-equity owners. However, the company also faces plenty of direct competition from other Hispanic-focused grocers such as Northgate and the El Super chain, the latter of which is backed by the Bodega Latina Corp. subsidiary of leading Mexican retailer Grupo Comercial Chedraui. As Cardenas pursues future growth, it does so under the leadership of CEO Doug Sanders, who succeeded John Gomez in that role in January 2020. Prior to Cardenas, Sanders spent 15 years with Sprouts Farmers Market in top executive roles before departing the company in 2017. —Mike Troy


Top Regionals Coborn’s Headquarters: St. Cloud, Minn. Store Count: 130 CEO: Chris Coborn Region: Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota and Michigan



Giant Eagle Inc. Headquarters: Pittsburgh Store Count: 474 CEO: Laura Karet Region: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana






The legacy of Coborn’s began in 1921, when Chester Coborn opened a single produce market on Broadway Avenue in Sauk Rapids, Minn. Today, the grocery chain operates more than 130 grocery, convenience, liquor and other retail locations across Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, and employs more than 9,000 people – but that’s about to change in 2022. In December 2021, Coborn’s finalized a deal to acquire Tadych’s Econofoods locations in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Minnesota retailer is changing the name of the banners to Tadych’s Marketplace Foods. The six former Econofoods stores will be run by employee-owned Coborn’s, which plans to retain the 800 or so current associates. Through the acquisition, Coborn’s has pushed into a new state, Michigan, and added to its store count. With this acquisition, the Coborn’s grocery store lineup will grow to 66 locations, operating under the banners of Coborn’s, Cash Wise Foods, Marketplace Foods, Hornbacher’s and now Tadych’s. Led by the family’s fourth-generation CEO Chris Coborn, the grocer is frequently recognized for its outstanding community service. The company annually donates more than $3 million and thousands of volunteer hours toward making a positive difference in communities. Recently, Coborn’s has been focused on wellness by investing in health education initiatives such as the Dietitian’s Choice and Food Facts programs, and the hiring of staff dietitians to help educate food buyers, customers and the community at large. —Gina Acosta

Founded in 1931, Giant Eagle Inc. has grown to be a leading food, fuel and pharmacy retailer in its five-state operating region, with almost $10 billion in annual sales. A number of strategic partnerships highlighting digital innovation were key to helping the food retailer earn the distinction of being named a top regional. For example, Giant Eagle made a name for itself in 2021 by being at the forefront of digital payment adoption, becoming the first U.S. grocery and convenience store chain to accept PayPal and Venmo payments at the register. To enhance its online shopping experience for customers, Giant Eagle partnered with retail tech company Flipp on a next-generation digital circular. This new feature is integrated into the Giant Eagle mobile app, offering an omnichannel digital experience with engaging video and an “add to cart” feature that not only provides greater product visibility, but also enhances convenience and mobile/on-demand access for items on sale. Giant Eagle’s digital innovation can additionally be found in the pharmacy department, where it uses new tech to keep communities safe and healthy. For instance, the food retailer has installed out-of-home media company Mesmerize’s digital TV screens in 165 Giant Eagle pharmacies. The network features timely content from Mesmerize’s patient education library, combined with Giant Eagle branded content, including cooking segments, information about home health care products, and key pharmacy services. Another recent partner, InnerScope Hearing Technologies, enables Giant Eagle to deploy self-check hearing screening kiosks. These automated kiosks are just another example of how this Top Regional is thriving in a digital world. —Marian Zboraj

Kowalski’s Markets Headquarters: Woodbury, Minn. Store Count: 11 CEO: Kris Kowalski Christiansen Region: Minnesota


Market Basket Headquarters: Tewksbury, Mass. Store Count: 90 CEO: Arthur T. Demoulas Region: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island



With 11 locations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Kowalski’s Markets follows its own true north to attract and retain customers. Since its passion-project founding in 1983 by Mary Anne and the late Jim Kowalski, the Minnesota grocer has focused on adding value to the shopping experience through a distinctive look and assortment. In an Upper Midwest region that’s both urban and surrounded by lakes and vacation homes, Kowalski’s went its own way with stores designed to convey a European-village flair and offerings that provide shoppers with a sense of discovery. The retailer creates ample opportunities for such discoveries by carrying a wide variety of locally made and grown products, from ice cream to free-range chicken to fresh flowers and produce. In addition to a specialty grocery department featuring an eclectic mix of local, gourmet, organic and natural offerings, Kowalski’s has become a destination among local shoppers for its fresh products. Through a central facility that includes a bakery, commissary kitchen and meat production area, the grocer is able to provide its locations with goods that reflect shoppers’ interest in homemade artisan foods. Heralding the “joy of good food,” Kowalski’s helps customers elevate their knowledge through culinary classes (depending on the COVID situation) and a savvy staff that includes cheesemongers, wine-pairing experts and often-on-hand family members, including owner Mary Anne Kowalski and her daughter, CEO Kris Kowalski Christiansen. While food is a focus, Kowalski’s is also a go-to spot in the region for other consumables: It’s the only grocer in the Twin Cities region with a department devoted to gifts. —Lynn Petrak

What makes its associates and customers so fanatical about Market Basket, a venerable New England institution now entering its 105th year? The feelings of both camps can be summed up in one word: loyalty. An ugly power struggle between cousins for control of the company culminated in an unprecedented seven-week boycott of its stores in 2014 as workers and shoppers alike rallied in support of ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas, who ultimately bought out his rivals and triumphantly retook the helm of Market Basket. Bill Marsden, longtime director of operations for the company and later a key advisor, told Progressive Grocer at the time that a key ingredient in Market Basket’s “tremendous success” was its tight-knit, extended-family structure, which focuses on promoting associates from within, hiring multiple generations of families and allowing rank-and-file employees direct access to top executives. Meanwhile, for shoppers, there are hard-to-beat value prices and superior service, with each location espousing a “customers first” philosophy. As Daniel Korschun and Grant Welker write in their 2015 book “We Are Market Basket”: “Many companies are successful in terms of financial performance. Much fewer are successful in making a difference in people’s lives that others cannot imitate.” Additionally, Market Basket stores’ proudly retro appearance belies the pioneering moves of the company, which in 1960 was an early adopter of private label products, carrying DeMoulas brand coffee, tea, mayonnaise, matchbooks and more in all stores, and in 1963 adopted an associate profit-sharing plan so successful that it’s still in use today. —Bridget Goldschmidt




Top Regionals PCC Community Markets Headquarters: Seattle Store Count: 16 (Downtown Seattle store slated to open winter 2022) CEO: Brad Brown (interim) Region: Washington State (Puget Sound region)


Plum Market Headquarters: Farmington Hills, Mich. Store Count: 24 CEO: Matt Jonna Region: Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Texas





Whatever supermarket operators across the country are doing to create a more sustainable world, PCC Community Markets probably did it first. Having begun as a food-buying club of 15 Seattle families back in 1953, PCC (short for Puget Consumers Co-op) became aware of the connection between the health of the planet and of people as early as 1971, when the grocer shifted its focus to natural foods. Noted store leadership at the time: “We’re trying to cut out unnatural, chemical-stuffed food products and cut down on ecological pollutants. It’s time we became more concerned about what goes into our mouths.” Since that time, PCC’s sustainability moves have included being the first food retailer to participate in Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch Program, in 2004; establishing a sustainability task force in the same year to reduce its environmental and social impact; opening the first grocery store to earn LEED Gold Certification as a “green” building, in Edmonds, Wash., in 2007; installing WISErg Harvester enzyme-driven digesters that repurpose food scraps into organic liquid fertilizer at five stores, starting in 2013; and adopting animal welfare and other sourcing standards that are among the most stringent in the industry. That commitment to the environment continues to this day, as illustrated by just two of the co-op’s efforts this past year: reducing single-use plastics by discontinuing the sale of plastic water bottles smaller than 1 gallon, and working with Washington state regulators to enable customers to once more use more of their own reusable containers in PCC stores. —Bridget Goldschmidt

The grocery industry is filled with unique concepts and operating models, but few are as differentiated as Plum Market. The company was founded in 2007 by Matt and Marc Jonna to focus on offering all-natural, organic, specialty and locally sourced items in settings designed to offer an exceptional experience and service. The pair grew up in the grocery world, as their father had founded the Merchant of Vino chain of gourmet stores, which was sold to Whole Foods Market in 1997. Today, Plum Market operates 24 locations that blur the line between a traditional grocer — albeit a very upscale one – and a high-quality restaurant, thanks to an attractively presented, on-trend offering of prepared foods. The company’s stores range from approximately 8,000 to 25,000 square feet, and its strategy of serving the market with a unique real estate approach mirrors that of its distinctive product assortment. For example, there are five Plum Market stores in total, consisting of four in the greater Detroit area and one in Chicago. There are seven foodservice-focused Plum Market Kitchen locations, ranging from 3,000 to 5,000 square feet: five in the Detroit area, one in Cleveland and a recently opened location in Terminal B at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Also, there are 12 Plum Market locations dedicated to foodservice, all of which are located at venues such as businesses, educational institutions, and health care and entertainment facilities throughout Michigan. While Plum Market’s roots are in Michigan, the company is taking a risk this year that could determine whether it can pivot from a regional favorite to a concept with national expansion potential. Plans call for new locations to open in Aventura, Fla., an upscale area north of Miami; Hollywood, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. —Mike Troy




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Top Regionals Sendik’s Food Market Headquarters: Milwaukee Store Count: 17 (including four convenience stores) CEO: Ted Balistreri Region: Wisconsin



As Sendik’s Food Market approaches its 100th year in the Milwaukee area, there’s no resting on local laurels. Actually, there’s not much resting at all for the Balistreri family, who still runs the business encompassing 13 grocery stores and four convenience stores. On store visits, CEO and third-generation co-owner Ted Balistreri stops what he’s doing to help customers find something or just to greet them. Connecting with shoppers and making the business better likewise remains a priority for his 86-year-old father, Ted Balistreri Sr. “Our dad still enjoys coming to the stores and is very engaged,” says the younger Balistreri. “From years and years in the industry, he sees things and will ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’ — and he’s right.” Beyond customer service and continual improvement, Sendik’s has built a core following through its in-store experience. The décor in most stores leans toward the upscale, with features like hardwood and carpeted flooring, vibrant wall art, and colorful lighting. The product assortment includes hundreds of items from beloved Wisconsin brands with which Sendik’s has long-term relationships. Another hallmark is its general merchandise section, which is set up like a boutique and offers a curated selection of gifts, home goods and apparel. The ability to act nimbly has differentiated Sendik’s in a region with many local and national competitors. In the past few years, the company has opened a new store in a bustling suburban shopping center, added a Fresh2GO convenience banner, refreshed several locations, and expanded curbside pickup and delivery services. Will it grow beyond the metro area in Milwaukee? “We’ll see,” says Ted Balistreri with a cryptic grin. —Lynn Petrak

Weis Markets Inc. Headquarters: Sunbury, Pa Store Count: 197 CEO: Jonathan H. Weis Region: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Virginia






Mid-Atlantic food retailer Weis Markets Inc. embodies what it means to be a top regional, with 166 of its 197 stores in Pennsylvania (117) and Maryland (49). The grocer has been serving the market since 1912 with a variety of format sizes, ranging from 8,000 to 71,000 square feet. Weis was recently able to increase its 2021 capital expenditures outlook to $150 million, up 11.1% from the $135 million budget revealed at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in April. This top regional believes that opening new stores and remodeling existing ones are vital for future company growth, as the location and appearance of its stores are important components in attracting new customers and retaining current ones. On an average basis, the company dedicates one-third of its capital budget to new stores annually, excluding acquisitions. Generally, another 15%20% of the capital budget is dedicated to store remodels. The grocer has also been known to support communities throughout its seven-state region by investing in local farmers. In Pennsylvania alone, Weis annually buys more than 20 million pounds of locally grown produce. It’s also a good steward of the environment. The retailer recently reported that more than 90% of its stores no longer use ozone-depleting refrigerants, and that its distribution, manufacturing and support facilities have also transitioned away from the use of these refrigerants. These moves helped Weis recently become the first grocer to achieve Ratio Institute’s Sustainable Food Retail Certification. The distinction will no doubt help boost the company’s long-term positive momentum. —Marian Zboraj




100 Years of Food Retailing

A Century of Excellence The modern food retailing industry emerged about 100 years ago, and with it was born an innovative brand with a commitment to serve. By Jenny McTaggart and Bridget Goldschmidt


he first issue of Progressive Grocer was published in January 1922, a time when the grocery industry operated in ways that would be unrecognizable to today’s shoppers. It was also a time when major changes were happening in American society, including where and how people purchased food. This resulted in a great transformation in grocery that saw retailers adopt new business practices, new technologies and new methods of serving shoppers that seemed revolutionary at the time, but are taken for granted now. The grocery industry was at a turning point, and as is often the case in situations when an industry is born or arrives at a critical juncture, there isn’t a precise date that the industry can point to and say, “That’s when it all began.” That said, the debut of PG is as good a place as any to serve as a reference point. Food retailing existed prior to the publication’s arrival, of course, but the roots of the industry as we know it today were establishing themselves during the early 1920s. World War I had ended a few years earlier, the Great Depression wouldn’t begin for several more years, and grocery was beginning to change in profound ways. The founders of PG recognized the fundamental changes that were happening and the need to inform, entertain, inspire and advocate for the industry. The grocery industry was modernizing quickly to serve a growing nation with new expectations. As this transformation occurred over the past century, PG was there to chronicle the changes, provide practical information to help operators grow sales, and serve as an efficient platform for suppliers of products, equipment and services, with the goal of reaching a highly fragmented market dominated by independent grocers. It has been a remarkable journey, as the past century saw tremendous change, disruption, tragedy, innovation, sacrifice and triumph. In this special report, we offer a decade-by-decade look at the arc of the industry as seen through the unique lens of PG.


About the Authors

Jenny McTaggart

Bridget Goldschmidt

Jenny McTaggart and Bridget Goldschmidt are grocery industry veterans with a combined 40 years of experience. They share a passion for the industry, its origins and ongoing evolution. Bridget has been with Progressive Grocer for nearly two decades, shaping the brand’s coverage in her role as managing editor, and is an established authority on food industry trends. Jenny joined PG in 1999 and was a senior editor until 2008, at which time she transitioned to a contributing editor role focused on providing industry coverage for PG. Their insights for this special report were obtained through extensive research and sourcing of information from PG’s digital archives, public library sources, and print archives housed at the Arlington, Va., offices of FMI — The Food Industry Association.


100 Years of Food Retailing 1922-1931

The Progressive Grocer Is Born

1922 marked the dawn of a new era in food retailing, and the birth of a publication dedicated to serving it.


n unlikely set of circumstances gave rise to the first issue of Progressive Grocer 100 years ago, in January 1922. A new in-law in the Butterick family, well known at the time for its dress-pattern business, had an interest in the grocery business and that led to the launch of a publication focused on the rapidly changing industry. That’s how the origins of the brand were described by The New York Times in 1972, around the time of Progressive Grocer’s 50th anniversary. Publications such as Time and Reader’s Digest also debuted during the 1920s to serve Americans’ news and entertainment needs. Like Reader’s Digest, Progressive Grocer’s early editions were in a pocket-sized format designed to fit in the aprons worn by grocers of the era. Billed as “The National Magazine for Retail Grocers,” The Progressive Grocer provided “practical, helpful information of what the other fellow is doing to get more business and to make more money.” The publication was complimentary, “in the spirit of service,” and the publisher promised to send it monthly if readers requested it. An introductory letter in the premier issue called for more cooperation among retailers and wholesalers. “During the [1917-18] war, and in the period of reconstruction, we have heard and read much of eliminating the so-called ‘Middleman,’” the editors wrote. “We are convinced, however, that no method has yet been developed that can more economi32

Key Grocery Industry Developments Some familiar names were making news in the 1920s, including the following: By 1925, The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. (A&P) was running almost 14,000 stores, which included its “no-frills” format, and the A&P Economy Store, in Jersey City, N.J., as well as combination stores that included space for meats, produce and dairy. In 1924, “The A&P Radio Hour” was launched as America’s first national radio program. Other grocery banners that got their start during the decade included Piggly Wiggly, founded by Clarence Saunders and widely credited as introducing America to self-service shopping, and Coborn’s, which opened its doors in central Minnesota in 1921. By 1920, Kroger, which was founded as the Great Western Tea Co., had begun a process of rapid expansion beyond the Cincinnati area. The company operated almost 6,000 self-service stores by the end of the decade and stood out for its in-store meat departments. Safeway was founded during the 1920s. In 1915, M.B. Skaggs purchased a store from his father in American Falls, Idaho, and by 1926 he was operating 428 Skaggs stores in 10 states. He almost doubled the size of his business that year, when he merged his company with 322 Safeway (formerly Selig) stores. Two years later, M.B. Skaggs listed Safeway on the New York Stock Exchange. By the end of the 1920s, National Tea had more than 600 locations in the Chicago area alone, and another 1,000 stores nationwide.

cally serve the consumer than the present triumvirate of manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer.” Feature articles included “What Does the Future Hold for the Independent Grocer?”; “Look After Your Fruit and Vegetable Business”; “What Should the Grocer Know About Turnover?”; and “Attractive Displays that Sell Merchandise.” Alongside those timeless themes, the publication had a lighter side, including a section with grocery-related jokes called “The Cracker Barrel” that would become a regular feature.

A Different Era

The industry was highly fragmented in the 1920s, with an estimated 350,000 retail grocers. The majority of these stores featured a growing selec-

Fun Facts About Grocery tion of packaged groceries (with limited perishables), and some were experimenting with more eye-catching front-window displays. Glasscase counter arrangements were quite popular, but most merchandise was still displayed out of shoppers’ reach. According to the PG archives, the first Census of Business taken in 1929 listed 10 major kinds of food stores. No one format dominated, but the one-stop combination market (with meat) headed the list, with 31% of total sales. Grocery stores without meat came in second, with 27% of sales. The general store had declined to third position, with 11% of sales. Changes that were beginning to happen in the industry in the 1920s made The Progressive Grocer the perfect brand identity for a new magazine. Chain stores were growing, and independents were fighting back. Since most independents operated credit-and-delivery stores with relatively high operating expenses, less service-oriented chains were able to cut costs and became a major competitive challenge. In 1926, a group of independent grocers in the Northeast banded together to form the Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA). In October 1927, The Progressive Grocer reported that “now that the independent merchant is learning to conduct his business more efficiently, there is no longer the wide gap between the chain’s prices and the service grocer’s prices.”

Clarence Birdseye designed and patented his Quick Freeze Machine and developed a full line of frozen foods designed for commercial sale.

of total sales went to the one-stop combination market (with meat). —Census of Business, taken in 1929

Debut of the Supermarket

King Kullen is the banner that’s widely credited as the first U.S. “supermarket.” The retailer opened its doors in 1930, in a garage in Jamaica, in the New York City borough of Queens. Its founder, Michael J. Cullen, was a former A&P employee who had reportedly proposed his idea to A&P and Kroger (another former employer), but they both turned him down. Cullen came up with a plan to sell 300 items at cost, 200 at plus 5%, 300 at plus 15% and 30 at plus 20%, and establish a low-rent location, night hours, cash and carry, self-service, and aggressive advertising, calling his store “The Greatest Price Wrecker.” Two years later, Big Bear opened in Elizabeth, N.J., calling itself “The Greatest Price Crusher.”

King Kullen is widely credited as the first U.S. "supermarket."

What Was Happening in the United States The Roaring Twenties was a decade of promise and optimism, with modern technology — automobiles, radio, gas stoves and electric refrigerators, to name a few — creating a “sky’s the limit” mentality. The United States sat on top of the world as an economic powerhouse, with no forewarning of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 that would lead to the Great Depression.

As the grocery industry rose to prominence and evolved, it did so against the backdrop of other notable societal changes. It was only two year prior to The Progressive Grocer’s founding that women gained full voting rights. In 1920, every state west of the Mississippi already allowed women to vote, but nine states had not made the change. Tennessee cast the last “yes” vote needed for ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920.

Also in 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting alcohol was passed. This major change not only stopped the legal sale of alcoholic beverages, it also increased the production of soft drinks and put hundreds of restaurants and hotels out of business. In addition, the American wine industry turned its vineyards over to juice grapes, yet only a small portion of the juice from the grapes was marketed as juice — most of it was sold for home-brewed wine.

In response to the growing popularity of perfumed healthy soaps, Procter & Gamble introduced Camay. As the 1920s got underway, more than 1,000 CocaCola bottlers were operating in the United States. Sixbottle cartons caught on quickly after their introduction in 1923. A few years later, open-top metal coolers became the forerunners of automated vending machines. Kellogg introduced readyto-eat cereals in individual servings for use in hospitals, hotels and rail dining cars. A mail-in promotion made Battle Creek, Mich., a familiar destination when millions of youngsters clipped and mailed in Kellogg’s boxtops for StuffYourself Nursery Rhyme Rag Dolls. Kellogg also established one of the first home economics departments in the food industry in 1923, the same year that Kellogg’s Pep wheat flakes was introduced. The famous Kellogg’s Rice Krispies began talking to consumers in 1927. Also in 1927, Edwin Perkins modified a soft-drink syrup called Fruit Smack. He concentrated it into a powder, packaged it in envelopes and changed the name to Kool-Aid. The avocado debuted in U.S. grocery stores. A 1927 issue of The Progressive Grocer advised grocers: “Before long, when you stroll into a food store, if you are at all moved by the power of advertising, you will probably ask for a ‘Calavo.’ A Calavo is an ‘ahuacate.’ An ahuacate is an ‘avocado.’ An avocado is an alligator pear, a delectable bit of solid greenery.”




100 Years of Food Retailing

Growth Through Challenges

Supermarkets cropped up in more locations, the government got involved to maintain competition, and self-service gathered momentum.


espite the looming impact of the Great Depression, the 1930s saw innovation in food retailing, coupled with new competition regulations designed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On the heels of the supermarket’s debut in 1930, an increasing number of grocers began rolling out their own versions of larger self-service stores, especially in more densely populated areas. William H. Albers, who was a former president of Kroger, began opening supermarkets around Cincinnati in 1933. His stores were known as Albers Super Markets. Meanwhile, Kroger, for its part, had 50 supermarkets by 1935. A&P opened its first supermarket — a 28,125-square-foot store in Braddock, Pa. — in 1936. Toward the end of the decade, A&P began consolidating its thousands of small-service stores into larger supermarkets, often replacing as many as five or six stores with one large new one. Out west, Joe Albertson and his partners, L.S. Skaggs and Tom Cuthbert, opened their first one-stop shopping market, called Albertson’s Food Center, in 1939 in Boise, Idaho. And down south, Publix debuted Florida’s first supermarket in 1940. Company founder George Jenkins mortgaged an orange grove he had acquired A&P’s first supermarket, in Braddock, Pa. during the Depression for a down payment on the store, which was his “dream come true” featuring marble, glass and stucco décor, along with such modern features as air conditioning, fluorescent lighting, electric-eye doors, frozen food cases and piped-in music.


Key Grocery Industry Developments Industry innovations debuted which are commonplace today. As grocers became more creative with their merchandising, Progressive Grocer was there to help. The November 1934 issue featured an article promoting “food gifts” for Christmas, and the magazine even offered professionally designed display posters that could be ordered “at a very low cost” (50 cents for a set of eight posters). A new Kroger store in Lima, Ohio, offered a year-round roasting service that was turning a profit. Since the store had both a delicatessen and kitchen, employees offered to roast hams, chickens and turkeys for busy home hostesses, charging $1.25 per meat item for roasting, and also offering special glazes or even stuffing. One independent store in East Orange, N.J., managed to grow its sales volume $100,000 a year during the Depression by expanding into a “combination food market” selling everything from fresh meat to produce and frozen foods (45% of its sales were from meat, compared with 35% from groceries). The store was operated by Maxmilian Kusy & Son, a company that started off as a meat dealer and also supplied hotels and local restaurants with meat. In an effort to make transporting groceries less cumbersome, store owner Sylvan Goldman designed the first shopping cart in 1937. He worked with mechanic Fred Young to come up with the concept, which started out as a metal frame that held two wire baskets. It took customers some time to get used to the idea (men felt that the carts would make them look weak, young women thought they were unfashionable, and older people didn’t want to appear helpless), but by 1940 the invention had graced the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

Even as retailers were becoming more innovative, however, they still had to face financial challenges brought on by the Great Depression. The January 1935 issue of Progressive Grocer noted that total retail sales declined an unbelievable 49% from 1929 to 1933 (retail sales of all kinds sold through all types of stores). By comparison, food stores showed a slightly smaller decline — 37%. The number of food stores declined just 5%.

Role of Government in Fair Trade

During this decade, the government started getting involved to make sure that business was being



Fun Facts About Grocery conducted fairly and ethically. The National Recovery Administration (NRA), a primary agency in FDR’s New Deal government, was established in 1933 to eliminate “cut throat competition” by bringing industry, labor and government together to create codes of “fair practices” and set prices. PG’s editors voiced the concerns of the industry, noting in the January 1935 issue, “One of the matters of greatest interest to the grocers and all business, is what is going to be done by Congress to the NRA.” Luckily for them, later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared that the NRA law was unconstitutional. The National Association of Retail Grocers, for its part, pledged to keep ideals and objectives in fair-trade practices in food merchandising. Even though the NRA stopped operations, many of its labor provisions reappeared in the National Labor Relations Act, passed the same year. This set the stage for a surge in the growth and power of unions, which became a central part of the New Deal Coalition that dominated national politics for the next three decades. Just a year after the NRA disbanded, in 1936, a law intended to further level the retail playing field was enacted. The Robinson-Patman Act, commonly referred to as “the chain store act,” helped correct discount abuses and established guidelines under which food retailing and wholesaling could be carried out on a fair basis.

In 1930, Frank Mars introduced a chocolate-andnut candy bar called Snickers. The brand would go on to become a classic. Shoppers at a Jewel store were dressed for the occasion.

After 15 years of Prohibition, in 1933 it became legal to consume beer containing up to 3.2% alcohol. In a brilliant publicity stunt, Anheuser-Busch sent its iconic Clydesdale horses to the White House to deliver a case of Budweiser. Just a few years later (in 1935), the beer can was introduced to the American public by the Gottfried Krueger Brewing Co., of Newark, N.J. The cans were created by the American Can Co.

Independents gain footing

By the second half of the decade, business was doing significantly better. Retailers closed 1937 at a high level, and Christmas trade was the best it had been in many years, Progressive Grocer reported. As business began perking up, independent operators were holding their own. In its January 1937 issue, PG’s editors recalled that in 1936, “independents on the whole gave chains the stiffest competition of their lives.” While some independents developed supermarkets on their own, others joined forces with wholesale grocers, and many became affiliated with large voluntary or cooperative wholesale groups. At the same time, a growing number of chain stores opted to go independent. For example, the chain stores owned by S.M. Flickinger Co., out of Buffalo, N.Y., were being converted into independently owned voluntary stores.

Gerber introduced baby cereal in 1932, supplementing its line of strained baby foods that debuted in 1928.

Percentage of sales decline from 1929 to 1933 brought on by the Great Depression. —Progressive Grocer January 1935 issue

In 1937, an iconic grocery staple was born: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. During that same year, the Hormel Food Co. debuted SPAM (name derived from Shoulder Pork HAM).

What Was Happening in the United States As women gained a louder voice in society, grocery managers were on a mission to better understand their female shoppers. In the May 1932 issue of Progressive Grocer, an article entitled “What Women Do Not Like in Grocery Stores” mentioned such factors as lack of cleanliness, lack of interest in customers, poor quality, the inability to make telephone orders, and “fresh” talkative clerks. The research, conducted by the Delineator Institute (publishers

of Delineator magazine, a sister publication to PG), had been shared with the National Wholesale Grocers during the organization’s convention in January 1932.

Along with the Great Depression, the United States had to deal with other major economic and political challenges during the decade. In 1934, a massive dust storm formed after severe drought forced thousands of families from Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico to migrate to California. These storms continued to plague the nation for the next nine years and severely damaged America’s prairie lands.

In 1941, the Japanese initiated a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, leading to America’s entry into World War II, which resulted in product shortages and rationing.




100 Years of Food Retailing 1942-1951

War, Peace and Transformation The grocery industry demonstrated resilience during World War II and ended the decade on a high note.


nce the United States officially entered World War II in 1941, the grocery industry was turned upside down in some dramatic ways. Retailers and suppliers lost tens of thousands of men to military duty, and as a result, women took on new roles. Meanwhile, food supply After the government asked chains were tested as never before, retailers to cut their use of prices on goods skyrocketed and paper bags by half, grocers got new behaviors were established. creative and devised solutions like “long bags” that were American consumers were forced durable enough to be reused. to be resourceful and conserve food and other basic needs, while retailers administered wartime initiatives such as rationing, price ceilings and allocations. Even gasoline was rationed, and as a result, auto registrations dropped by 2 million from 1940 to 1945. This change gave way to less frequent shopping trips and more one-stop shopping. Many retailers sought to help customers deal with rationing, providing “no-point” meal suggestions — no-point products included beans, cereals and pasta — and giving demonstrations to housewives about how the rationing system worked. After the United States entered World Among their other War II, grocers promoted a series of wartime duties, groWar Bond campaigns. cers also promoted a series of War Bond


Key Grocery Industry Developments Legal matters and M&A activity shaped the industry. H-E-B opened its first air-conditioned stores and introduced exclusive brand names, including Village Park and Park Manor. In 1945, Sam Walton opened his first variety store, in Newport, Ark., as a franchisee. In the middle of the decade, A&P became embroiled in an antitrust lawsuit. Its owners, John Hartford and George Hartford, were sued by the United States for unfair competition against independents, exaction of allowances by headquarters, and abuse of advertising allowances. The owners lost the case and were fined. In 1949, the attorney general filed a new lawsuit calling for the breakup of the company. In response, A&P launched a PR campaign to salvage its image, and by 1953, the government had ended its case. Frozen foods continued to grow, aided by the fact that so many canned goods had been shipped overseas during the war. In 1945, Robert Abel, VP and manager of Commander Stores, in Syracuse, N.Y., wrote in Progressive Grocer that he had sold $90,000 a year in frozen foods, equal to about 5% of total store sales. Bulk foods represented 50% of his sales, revealing a period when individually packaged frozen foods weren’t so commonplace. The best place to position frozen foods, according to Abel, was near the produce department. In 1946, American Stores (parent of Acme Markets) moved to acquire Grand Union supermarkets, but the proposal was turned down by Grand Union stockholders. Grand Union’s VP, Lansing P. Shield, vigorously opposed the deal, which was favored by the company’s president, J. Spencer Weed. After the merger was opposed, Weed immediately stepped down. Shield, a believer in the supermarket concept, moved quickly to convert Grand Union’s 320 stores to self-service.

campaigns; sponsored scrap drives; collected materials for recycling, including aluminum, steel and fats; and made an effort to cut down on the use of paper bags while educating customers about conserving and reusing bags. Even during war, when there were product

Fun Facts About Grocery shortages to contend with, grocery sales continued to grow. “Business is excellent — in every line with sufficient goods to sell,” wrote Progressive Grocer’s editor, Carl Dipman, in January 1943. Food prices had risen to a new high: The cost of meat was up 19.5%, and fruit and vegetable prices had shot up 28.2%, versus November 1941. To cope with the dramatic inflation, some Americans grew “victory gardens” to combat the high prices and food shortages. These vegetable, fruit and herb gardens were planted at private residences and public parks. In fact, by 1944, an astonishing one-third of all of America’s fresh vegetables were harvested from these gardens.

Food retailers provided "pointfree" meal suggestions when wartime food rationing was instituted.

Food manufacturers made unusual wartime sacrifices. For example, pre-sliced bread was banned in the United States for the duration of the war to conserve metal.

The Post-War Grocery Boom

After the war finally ended in September 1945, U.S. consumers were in the mood to shop again, and like never before. The good news was that supermarkets had ample sources of supply, especially since the government had released its giant food reserves that had accumulated during the war. In the free-spending post-World War II era, food stores were rapidly adopting self-service to ensure more efficient, labor-saving operations. In 1946, 31% of stores had self-service, and sales per full-time employee in self-service stores had risen to around $26,000 a year. As operating expenses were kept lower, margins averaged 15% to 20% of sales. In its March 1947 issue, PG called 1946 “the most dramatic year in food store history.” Total food sales increased 20%, climbing to a whopping $23.36 billion — three times the sales logged in 1933. Toward the end of the decade, supermarket construction began picking up again, and new stores featured such amenities as modern cash registers, scales and coffee mills, while metal fixtures came into general use now that the war was over. Sales in 1951 were practically double the peak war years, totalling more than $37 billion. By this point, supermarkets enjoyed 39.8% of grocery store sales.

The increase in total food sales in 1946 — three times the sales logged in 1933. —Progressive Grocer March 1947 issue

What Was Happening in the United States As with many sectors of the economy, World War II set in motion forces that would begin to transform the world of work. America’s men went off to war, and women took on new roles in society — a fact that was especially evident in grocery. Women filled virtually all of the newly vacated roles, ranging from checkers, to department heads and managers, to butchers, bakers and even warehouse personnel. By 1945, women accounted for half of the personnel in food retailing.

Wartime also saw a surge in the number of people who began “eating out.” By the middle of the decade, restaurant sales had skyrocketed 65% from what they had been in 1941. As millions of men returned home after the war, in-home dining largely returned. From 1945 to 1950, auto registrations climbed 55% to reach 40 million. In another sign of post-war affluence, by the end of the decade, 94% of homes used electricity.

Suppliers got involved in wartime efforts, too. Quaker Oats Co. ran an ad campaign that suggested serving Aunt Jemima pancakes for lunch and supper, as well as for breakfast, while cannedfood maker Libby’s offered grocers free wartime posters with the tagline “Food Fights for All.”

Race relations had a long way to go, but in 1947, Jackie Robinson “broke the color barrier” when he became the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. In perhaps the most major change of the decade, the birth rate of the population doubled after the war, introducing a generation that would later be referred to as Baby Boomers.

Meat companies were among those eager to help grocers combat rising prices. Armour & Co. ran an ad in Progressive Grocer assuring grocers that the company would work with them to help supply customers and ease the strain of shortages. “It’s your job now to educate housewives in correct buying habits,” the ad said. “Tell them about the less-known cuts of meat and how to prepare them. Feature the ‘V meats,’ such as liver, tongue and heart.” New product development continued throughout the decade, despite setbacks caused by the war. In 1941, General Mills introduced “Cheerioats” breakfast cereal, which was renamed “Cheerios” four years later. In 1942, Dannon yogurt was introduced in New York (at the time, few Americans had tried yogurt, even though it was already a staple in Europe). Tide laundry detergent, first sold in 1946, was an “overnight sensation,” according to Procter & Gamble. On a lighter note, the Chiquita Banana song and advertising jingle were created for the United Fruit Co. during the decade.




100 Years of Food Retailing 1952-1961

Growing by Leaps and Bounds

Supermarkets thrived during an era of convenience and modernization.


verything was getting bigger — consumers’ homes, stores and Progressive Grocer. Starting with its October 1952 issue, the magazine’s publishers dropped “The” from the title and switched from the pocket-size format established over the prior three decades to a larger size — a move that symbolized developments going on in the industry at the time. As the editor at that time explained, “In recent years it was felt more and more that a pocket-size magazine was a bit out of step with this vital, dynamic business of food retailing, where the volume was growing [by] leaps and bounds, stores were getting bigger and bigger, and dealers were adding more and more departments.” Indeed, reacting to the post-World War II economy, grocers were building larger stores that featured more self-service sections, air conditioning, specialized lighting and modern equipment, and more ample parking. Exterior and interior décor also took on a new look as retailers experimented with neon signs, stripes and pastel colors. And the round turntable checkout counter was designed to help speed up a part of the supermarket that had become an irritation for customers. It was a decade of great expansion that saw the number of larger-format supermarkets more than double — from 14,000 in 1950 to 33,000 in 1960 — to keep pace with New, larger stores from regional chains population growth that such as Kwik-Chek and Stop & Shop drew large crowds of curious shoppers. would reach 180 million


Key Grocery Industry Developments Regional chains were offering new services and opening more stores during the ’50s. In Texas, H-E-B opened its first bona fide supermarkets, consolidating a fish market, butcher shop, pharmacy and bakery under one roof. Stater Bros., a relative newcomer to California, was operating 23 locations by the end of the decade. By the end of 1959, West Des Moines, Iowabased Hy-Vee was operating 37 stores. In its January 1955 issue, Progressive Grocer reported that “shopping around for food is practiced by about three out of five housewives.” The characteristics that turned one store into their “favorite” included convenience, quality of products, low prices, and a “generally attractive atmosphere and appearance.” Some retailers turned to trading stamps to attract more customers, while other retailers promoted that they weren’t required. Central Market, owned by Golub Corp., claimed to be one of the first grocery chains in the country to issue S&H Green stamps, and Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle introduced its own trading stamp program, Profit Sharing (P.S.) Blue Stamps. By 1962, trading stamps had peaked, with estimated sales of $671 million. Technology was growing in importance. Hy-Vee opened a data-processing department in 1954, while Compton, Calif.based Ralphs, an early convert to computer technology, introduced an electronic store billing system at its new warehouse in Glendale, Calif. IBM ran an ad in PG touting its new 650 data-processing device, with “vast storage capacity and split-second computing” to speed order processing and enhance management reports.

people by 1960. Additionally, more people were migrating to expanding suburban housing developments around major cities. Also, as the federal interstate highway system was developed and auto registrations climbed, people could more easily travel to shop.

Investments and Acquisitions

To fund these new stores, many retailers upped

Fun Facts About Grocery their investments, while others looked to acquisitions for growth. Winn-Lovett, a Southeast chain that was steadily growing by buying other chains, changed its name to Winn-Dixie in 1955, after purchasing the 117-store Dixie Home chain. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s Food Fair (which later became known as Pantry Pride) branched out geographically when it purchased Setzer’s Supermarkets, a 40-store chain in the Jacksonville, Fla., area, in 1958. At least one retailer — Albertsons — grew by becoming a public company in 1959. The retailer had already made a name for itself in Washington, Utah, Oregon and Montana, and by the end of the decade operated 62 supermarkets, five drug stores and one department store. Also in 1959, Safeway opened its first store in the new state of Alaska, becoming the first major food retailer to enter the market. A number of established regional chains constructed new warehouses to help supply their stores. In 1951, Publix built a 125,000-square-foot warehouse and headquarters complex in Lakeland., Fla., while Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop built a central bakery, a perishable goods distribution warehouse and a grocery distribution center, all in Massachusetts, around the same time. As for smaller independent grocers, an increasing number of them saw the need to join together with wholesalers to remain competitive as chains expanded. Wholesalers helped them bargain for lower prices, and assisted with store construction and financing, central accounting and advertising. Companies such as Fleming, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Winston and Newell, and Wakefern, to name just a few, aided family-owned grocers in different regions of the country. In 1954, Winston and Newell changed its name to SuperValu, and during the following year it strengthened its presence by acquiring 12 regional food wholesalers. By the end of the decade, supermarkets had clearly established themselves as the places to buy food. While in 1950, the supermarket accounted for 35% of sales in the food sector, by 1960 that figure had jumped to 70%.

By the end of the decade, supermakets had clearly established themselves as the places to buy food.

The pace of new product introductions steadily increased, and Progressive Grocer noted that the greatest activity was in convenience foods characterized by “builtin maid and chef service.” Right in line with this theme, Swanson introduced beef, chicken and turkey pot pies and the first “TV dinner”: roast turkey with stuffing and gravy, sweet potatoes, and peas. Percentage of food sales in supermarkets in 1960, compared with 35% in 1950. —Progressive Grocer archives

Between 1945 and 1960, the gross national product more than doubled, marking the beginning of an era that would be branded “the Golden Age of American Capitalism.” Government spending helped build interstate highways that would transform development and grocery supply chains. Economic prosperity was good, with unemployment rates in the low- to mid-single digits, and wages growing. Major societal changes were beginning, too. The Korean War ended in

In 1954, the process for making instant potato flakes was developed, creating a convenient way for consumers to make mashed potatoes. Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and Sugar Smacks and General Mills’ Trix were launched. In 1955, Kellogg introduced an adult cereal called Special K.

What Was Happening in the United States Enjoying a booming economy, Americans aspired to live better and in larger, more spacious homes, with luxuries such as wall-to-wall carpets, state-of-the-art refrigerators, freezers, mixers and toasters. Homes with television increased from 4 million to 46 million, giving way to increased national-brand advertising on popular shows such as “I Love Lucy,” “The Honeymooners” and “Leave It to Beaver.”

New plastic film and wrapping machines brought the debut of packaged fruits and vegetables. While this increased grocers’ labor costs, the convenience appealed to consumers and helped boost sales.

1953, and in 1954, in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, the Supreme Court ruled that “separate educational facilities” for Black children were “inherently unequal.” In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person in Montgomery, Ala. The anti-communist “Red Scare” movement also took hold, as leaders such as Sen. Joseph McCarthy advised the public to be fearful of Communist influences that could be lurking around the corner in everyday life.

In 1957, the artificial sweetener Sweet n’ Low was introduced, marking the debut of a single-serve zero-calorie sugar substitute packet. Ben Eisenstadt and his son Marvin came up with the idea and chose pink for the packet’s color to make it stand out in the sugar bowl. In 1958, Procter & Gamble registered the Mr. Clean trademark for the company’s all-purpose cleanser. The muscular, tanned, bald character behind the name was reportedly modeled after a U.S. Navy sailor.




100 Years of Food Retailing 1962-1971

Groovy Changes During the Discount Decade From discounting to drug stores, the decade known for civil unrest saw major developments.


Key Grocery Industry Developments Mergers and acquisitions were heating up in the 1960s. Here are some of the key deals that were made. In 1961, First National Supermarkets, a chain based in Ohio, purchased the 164-store New York division of Safeway. In 1964, Jewel Tea, of Melrose Park, Ill., entrenched itself in New England with the purchase of 35 Star Markets in Boston. E.J. Korvette, at the time the nation’s largest discounter, with 37 department stores and 21 supermarkets, acquired Hill’s Super Markets, a 44-store chain operating on Long Island, N.Y.

gainst the backdrop of social revolution resulting from the Vietnam War and the civil rights and feminist movements, the 1960s saw the evolution of the consumer, Albertsons entered California by acquiring Greater All American Markets, based in Los Angeles. advances in store design, the addition of pharmacies in supermarkets, and the birth In 1966, Supermarkets Operating Co. and of discounting. There were also some notable mergers and General Supermarket, the two largest members of acquisitions to add even more interest to a dynamic decade. the ShopRite cooperative, merged. The new chain It was an unsettled time in America that saw the nation was called Supermarkets General Corp. on the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. Life went on for Americans, though, and by the end of 1964, In 1968, Wakefern Food Corp. and Supermarkets grocery store sales were up over three times more than the General ended their affiliation, and Supermarkets General changed the name of its 78 stores to population growth rate since 1959, according to a special Pathmark. report that was published in the January 1965 issue of Progressive Grocer. Food retailers were now ringing up $61.8 billion in sales — a five-year gain of 24%. One of the most significant achievements was that the sales gain occurred labeling, to assist consumers in obtaining accurate without any appreciable increase in food prices. information about quantity and contents, and to PG’s editor at the time, Robert Mueller, enable them to make value comparisons. During the 1960s, grocers lured noted, “This dramatic comparison is not Some supermarkets reacted to the customers with promises of lower prices. only direct and powerful testimony to the consumer movement by establishing truly competitive nature of food districonsumer departments to begin a bution, but it is also, in our opinion, a serious dialog with their shoppers. reflection of the constant drive for more Giant Food, of Landover, Md., hired and more efficiency and greater cooperathe industry’s first consumer advocate, tion within this biggest U.S. industry.” Esther Peterson, in 1970, and worked However, Mueller also called out a with the government and industry to major threat to the industry’s growth: develop and test consumer programs. government involvement. At the time, the new consumerist movement in America New Décor and Departments was taking a closer look at where people In addition to engaging more with their were shopping and what they bought, customers, retailers placed more emphaand why prices differed so greatly from sis on store décor and their perishable store to store. Consequently, unit pricing departments. and open-code dating were introduced Many chains looked to design after the Federal Fair Packaging and stores that would be instantly Labeling Law (commonly known as the recognizable, such as A&P’s colo“truth in packaging law”) was passed in nial-themed stores and the towering 1966 to prevent deceptive packaging and signs of Pennsylvania’s Food Fair and 40

Fun Facts About Grocery California-based Lucky Stores. Inside stores, dropped ceilings showcased dramatic lighting fixtures, and more creative layouts featured carpeted or patterned floors, as well as colorful graphics and murals. Stores were close to 30,000 square feet on average by the end of the decade. The service deli became a popular feature, and multitiered dairy sections began to handle a wider array of products. On-site bakeries were a bragging right on their own as progressive retailers trained personnel to prepare fresh baked goods daily. Wine and liquor departments featuring both domestic and imported labels became more common, and some grocers began providing suggestions for selections based on meals. The decade also saw supermarkets getting into the pharmacy business. In 1961, Jewel Tea, which had established itself in the Midwest, acquired Osco Drug (the company wasn’t officially known as Jewel-Osco until 2010, however). Its strategy was to build supermarkets connected to drug stores. The following year, Giant Food built its first combination food store and pharmacy. Later in the decade, Acme Markets, of Philadelphia, acquired a 46-store Pennsylvania drug store chain, and Albertsons entered into a partnership with Skaggs Drug Centers Inc. to open combination food and drug stores.

The minimum wage was increased to $1.25 an hour, from $1.

A&P’s colonialthemed stores became instantly recognizable during the ‘60s. Inside, A&P and other grocers jazzed up their décors with more color and patterns.

Nonfood merchandise started appearing in stores, including fresh flowers, plants, sewing needs, greeting cards, toys and record albums. New departments featuring school supplies were increasingly seen as student populations surged.

The Birth of Discounting

In 1962, three retailers that would eventually have a huge impact on the industry opened their doors, giving birth to the discounting movement: Walmart, Kmart and Target. That same year, Meijer opened its Thrifty Acres supercenter concept. It was a good time to focus on low prices. Suburban shoppers were fed up with higher grocery bills and engaged in a “housewives’ boycott.” With inflation beginning in earnest in 1966, supermarkets reacted by lowering prices and experimenting with discounting strategies. Stores in almost every market employed such tactics as price comparison advertising. Some grocers tried hybrid formats to mix in lower prices, while others opened discount formats under separate names like Colonial’s Big Star stores and Harris Teeter’s More Value.

The items carried by supermarkets increased from 5,900 in 1960 to 7,800 by 1970.

The five-year percent gain that retailers experienced since 1959, ringing up sales of $61.8 billion. —Progressive Grocer January 1965 issue

The introduction of nonstick frying pans simplified home meal preparation. The decade saw the introduction of new brands, including Planters, Diet Pepsi, Kellogg’s Pop Tarts, Cool Whip, Pampers and Gatorade.

What Was Happening in the United States The 1960s was a tumultuous decade that began with John F. Kennedy being elected president. He vowed to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade, but wouldn’t see that vision become reality, as he was assassinated in the fall of 1963. Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded Kennedy and signed the Civil

Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but as the Vietnam War escalated, protests became louder across the country. The seeds of the modern internet were sown in 1961, with the publication of a paper by Leonard Kleinrock, “Information Flow in Large Communication Nets.” In 1962, J.C.R. Licklider, a scientist

Selma to Montgomery in Alabama in 1965. King was assassinated in 1968, however. A year later, U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the moon.

from M.I.T. who worked at the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, developed the idea of a “galactic network” of computers that could talk to one another. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, and led a civil rights march from




100 Years of Food Retailing 1972-1981

Stayin’ Alive, Store Sizes Swell Grocers overcame inflation and a recession to roll out large formats, while the arrival of new technology advanced the industry.


s competition heated up, supermarkets started considering the specific demographics and tastes of their shoppers more during the 1970s, and this resulted in a plethora of formats, specialized merchandising and more targeted promotions. Even by the mid-1960s, Progressive Grocer had begun advising its readers to think more about meeting the needs of individual consumers, especially as competition intensified. Demographic information was becoming more readily available, thanks to advancements in electronic data processing, so this armed companies with better insights on their shoppers, even if such information was rudimentary by today’s standards. To target higher-income shoppers who were willing to spend more, retailers advanced the idea of the gourmet aisle, while some went more upscale with new formats. H-E-B’s “red carpet store,” which opened at the end of 1969, featured wall-to-wall carpeting, redwood wall decoration and a “tasteful use of color.” It was more than 30,000 square feet, with nearly 50% of selling space that included expanded nonfoods, a broader merchandise assortment, separate imported and fancy-food sections, and service cosmetics. Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop, meanwhile, opened a “boutique” supermarket in Short Hills, N.J., followed by During the 1970s, retailers rolled out a plethora of formats, specialized merchandising and more targeted promotions to attract specific customer demographics.


Key Grocery Industry Developments PG turned 50, and store brands made inroads. In 1972, Progressive Grocer was profiled in The New York Times, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Charles S. Mill, president of American Business Press, noted that PG “dominates the field” and that “people in the grocery field don’t move without it.” In 1977, Dutch retailer Ahold expanded internationally and acquired Bi-Lo Stores. The same year, the Food Marketing Institute was formed through the merger of Super Market Institute and the National Association of Food Chains (NAFC). Robert Aders, former U.S. undersecretary of labor, became its first president and CEO. Private label products started appearing in stores more frequently as generic alternatives to national brands. In 1979, the Tengelmann Group, of Germany, bought 42% of A&P stock for $78.6 million. As spending for food away from home grew at five times the rate of food eaten at home, chains such as Pathmark tested fast-food takeout operations in or adjacent to their stores. Foodarama (Shop Rite) Supermarkets, of Freehold, N.J., entered the gas station field when it opened its first station under the Shop-Rite name, in Neptune, N.J. Hinky Dinky, in Iowa and Nebraska, tied one of its in-store terminals into a First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Lincoln computer. Customers could make deposits and withdrawals in their own accounts.

a similar 30,000-square-foot store in the high-income New York suburb of Wycoff, N.J.

Superstores and Warehouse Formats

Kroger decided to go big when it launched its superstore format in 1972. It certainly wasn’t the first retailer to test a larger format with a major focus on nonfoods; Mejier had debuted its 180,000-square-foot Thrifty Acres store a decade earlier. But Kroger executives had decided to exit the markets where their stores weren’t as competitive, and to significantly upgrade stores to keep up

Fun Facts About Grocery with industry standards. Kroger’s superstores were often 60,000 square feet, which was up to 50% larger than the company’s traditional units. In addition to having a brighter color scheme, the format placed more emphasis on service departments. The larger stores were an immediate success for the company, and went on to ensure its long-term growth. By the end of 1974, Kroger had opened 300 new stores and converted 250 existing ones into superstores. Another format that gained a lot of attention during the 1970s was the warehouse supermarket, which was a direct response to cutting operating costs and providing lower prices. Examples included Thriftimart, Penn Fruit, Acme and Pantry Pride. Meanwhile, the first membership warehouse club store — Price Club — opened in San Diego in 1976, the same year that Aldi opened its first U.S. stores, in Iowa.

In 1971, Americans’ idea of a coffee shop was changed forever when Starbucks opened its doors in Seattle.

The arrival of the UPC code and optical scanning technology sped up the checkout process.

To combat high sugar costs, the makers of Life Savers enlarged the holes in its product and raised prices. General Mills unveiled Pop Rocks, a candy featuring carbon dioxide. Red dye No. 2 was banned by the FDA after studies showed that it might cause cancer. As a result, red M&Ms disappeared for 11 years.

UPC Code and Tech Advancements

In addition to retail experimentation, the 1970s saw the arrival of the UPC code and scanning technology, which sped up checkout and marked the beginning of grocery becoming a data-driven industry. The scanning era began on June 26, 1974, at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio, with a pack of Wrigley’s gum. During the decade, optical scanning operations were installed in several thousand supermarkets. This new technology eliminated punching the keys of a cash register and accelerated the checkout process greatly. In addition to these technologies, data processing went from being merely an accounting and record-keeping tool to also managing inventory at the store and warehouse level. Some of the cool tests among grocery chains at the time included Stop & Shop’s warehouse simulation, Jewel’s pricing strategy work and Supervalu’s site selection programs, as well as more that were being “closely guarded.” While the decade started out with high inflation leading up to a recession in 1975, business got better by the second half. PG’s 1976 Annual Report of the Grocery Industry reported that sales were $143.25 billion — a 9.5% gain.

With more women working and shoppers looking for more convenience, by 1972 frozen foods accounted for 5.5% of total sales in supermarkets, making it one of the fastestgrowing categories.

9.5% The percent gains retailers saw in 1975 despite a recession. —Progressive Grocer's 1976 Annual Report of the Grocery Industry

In 1978, two “regular guys” named Ben and Jerry opened their first ice cream scoop shop, in Burlington, Vt., after taking a $5 ice cream-making correspondence course. Coca-Cola introduced the two-liter PET plastic bottle. Famous French chef Julia Child appeared on the cover of the February 1978 issue of Progressive Grocer. In an interview with the magazine, she said that she liked shopping at supermarkets.

What Was Happening in the United States The great inflation of the 1970s, which has been blamed on oil prices and unwise monetary policies, ended an era of “cheap” food and “cheap” energy, and brought some big challenges for supermarkets. With energy costs up a staggering 30%, transportation costs increased, store hours

were reduced, parking lot lights were dimmed and thermostats were lowered. Food prices increased at a level not seen since the end of World War II. Obesity was becoming a national concern, and for a while many people turned to

processed “diet” foods to cut calories. As more consumers became wary of artificial ingredients like saccharin, however, a growing number gravitated toward produce and natural, even organic, foods. Health foods began to make inroads during this time, and some grocers recognized the

trend and began introducing dedicated departments. The Food and Drug Administration published the first regulations that required the nutrition labeling of certain foods: those with added nutrients, and those for which a nutrition claim was made on the label or in advertising.




100 Years of Food Retailing 1982-1991

Bigger and Better Than Ever

Superstores reigned and acquisition activity heated up during a decadent decade that saw a relaxed regulatory environment.


colorful decade defined by materialism and noted for quirky trends like neon bracelets and the invention of MTV, the 1980s was also full of significant changes in retailing that would forever influence the way that Americans think about supermarkets. The competitive landscape was heating up like a Madonna song, and by the end of the decade, Wal-Mart and Kmart had made meaningful inroads into grocery operations. At the same time, quick-service restaurant operations were taking away more retailing dollars, especially as women in the workforce increased and Americans became more accustomed to fast-paced lifestyles. Meanwhile, under President Ronald Reagan’s watch, the stock market saw explosive growth, deregulation took hold and there was less rigid enforcement of antitrust laws. Business deals of the decade included Kroger’s takeover of Dillons (the 11th-largest U.S. chain at the time), and the merger of American Stores with Jewel, in Chicago (for more, see the “Key Grocery Industry Developments” sidebar at right). Between 1985 and 1988, 19 of the 50 largest food retailers, including Safeway, Kroger, and Stop & Shop, participated in some form of leveraged buyout or recapitalization. These companies With more women in the workforce, grocers placed new emphasis on their service departments.


Key Grocery Industry Developments The 1980s was distinguished by plenty of deal-making activity. In 1980, wholesaler Supervalu purchased Cub Foods, a five-store warehouse store operator, for $10 million. Also in 1980, John Mackey and three business partners opened the first Whole Foods Market, in Austin, Texas. In 1981, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) acquired Fred Meyer, and A&P purchased 17 Stop & Shop supermarkets in New Jersey. The National Grocers Association held its first Annual Convention and Industry Expo, in San Francisco in 1983. Also in 1983, Wal-Mart opened its first Sam’s Club, in Moore, Okla. (BJ’s Wholesale Club was founded the following year in Massachusetts.) In 1984, American Stores acquired Jewel. In 1985, A&P acquired Dominion Stores, Dominick’s bought Eagle Food Stores, and Supervalu acquired the West Coast Grocery Co. In 1986, A&P acquired Waldbaum’s and Shopwell Inc., the latter of which included 26 upscale stores named The Food Emporium, and KKR engineered leveraged buyouts of Safeway and Beatrice Foods. In 1987, Ukrop’s Super Markets launched the first loyalty card program in the country.

strategized to borrow against projected cash flow and then build their financial base through increased debt. On the global front, Dutch retailer Ahold acquired Giant Food Stores, a 29-store chain in Carlisle, Pa., in 1981, and U.K. grocer Sainsbury’s bought a major noncontrolling holding in the New England-based Shaw’s company in 1983, with its stake subsequently increased to full ownership.

Superstores Prevail, Supercenters Emerge

Throughout the decade, supermarket operators continued to grow their sales to new levels (total sales topped $300 billion by 1986). One of their

Fun Facts About Grocery formats of choice was the “superstore” that Kroger had introduced a decade earlier. Featuring general merchandise and groceries under one roof, this larger format promised not only convenience for shoppers, but also more profitability for retailers. A prime example of the superstore format appeared in Progressive Grocer in 1982. Safeway’s new prototype, located in the competitive market of Arlington, Texas, took a new approach to architecture, design and layout, featuring a high-tech exterior that resembled a modern airport terminal. Inside, the 60,949-squarefoot store offered an impressive selection of general merchandise. PG’s 1983 Annual Report called superstores “star performers,” as the format annually accounted for a larger share of total sales and was judged by industry leaders to have the best prospects for the future. At the time, there were 3,200 superstores in the country, which made up an estimated 16.5% market share and 23% of supermarket sales.

In 1981, Stouffer’s introduced Lean Cuisine — microwave meals for weightconscious consumers. Diet Coke and Bud Light beer were both launched in 1982.

Neon signage added glitz to many 1980s grocery store departments.

Adventures in Foodservice

By 1984, with many more women in the workforce, the portion of disposable income that Americans were spending on food at home dropped to a new low of 11.4%. In response, supermarkets looked for ways to offer in-store dining and takeout themselves. To help inspire them, PG began featuring a regular foodservice section. Some grocers chose to partner with foodservice operators — for instance, Dierbergs added a Dairy Queen mini unit to a new store in St. Louis, while Vons operated Panda Express units. In 1989, Haggen became the first U.S. food retailer to offer an in-store Starbucks Coffee shop. Other supermarkets opened their own full-service restaurants or cafeterias. By 1988, 15% of supermarkets offered some type of sit-down dining, compared with only 4% in 1980. The end of the decade would also bring a brand-new threat to the industry, as Wal-Mart opened its first supercenter in 1988, offering general merchandise connected to a supermarket in Washington, Mo. Just one year later, at least one independent operator — a store in Wagoner, Okla. — had already closed, largely due to a drop in volume after the opening of the supercenter.

More retailers offered bulk food bins as they grew in popularity, but the FDA issued new merchandising guidelines because of food safety concerns. Actor Paul Newman founded his Newman’s Own brand, pledging that all after-tax profits would go toward educational and charitable organizations. By the middle of the decade, the American Cancer Society was endorsing a lowfat, high-fiber anti-cancer diet. Health-related products that followed included no-salt and reduced-sodium items, kids’ cereals with half the sugar, and no-caffeine products. Meanwhile, NutraSweet started selling the artificial sweetener aspartame.

Percentage of supermarkets offering some type of sit-down dining, compared with only 4% in 1980. —Progressive Grocer archives

In 1985, Coca-Cola introduced a new formula, aptly called New Coke, but it wasn’t a success. The company promptly reintroduced its original formula and rebranded it Coca-Cola Classic. Cherry Coke came to beverage aisles later that same year.

What Was Happening in the United States Americans had plenty of shiny new things to spend money on in the 1980s: cable TV and video games such as Pac-Man, Pontiac Firebirds, and personal computers from IBM that began replacing typewriters. Seeing the

potential for computers, Time magazine named the computer “Man of the Year” in 1983. There were also some major news stories that kept Americans glued to their TVs, including the Iran hostage crisis (and later the Iran-Contra Affair), the royal wedding of the United Kingdom’s Prince

Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, the attempted assassinations of Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, and the tragic explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. And no retailer who was doing business in the 1980s could forget the 1982 Tylenol scare. After cyanide poisoning killed seven Chicago-area

residents who had taken Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules, both the government and the over-thecounter drug industry agreed that a national standard for tamper-resistant packaging was needed. By the end of that year, the FDA moved to require tamper-proof packaging for OTC drugs, vitamins and supplements.




100 Years of Food Retailing 1992-2001

Natural Selection and New Competition

As competition from Walmart and other nontraditional food retailers grew fiercer, regional grocers upped their games, and the industry turned to new efficiency initiatives.


almart was probably one of the most frequently mentioned names in Progressive Grocer during the 1990s, and for good reason: The company opened hundreds of supercenters, made its first international investments, debuted the Neighborhood Market supermarket concept and achieved enviable profitability at a time when many traditional grocers wrestled with a recession early in the decade. Yet, as competition from Walmart and other retail formats resulted in a race for the survival of the fittest, a number of regional grocers upped their games during these years to defend their market territories, and the industry as a whole turned to a new form of retailer supplier collaboration known as Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) to remove costs and increase customer focus. The decade started out on shaky ground economically, as retailers found themselves in the midst of a recession, with mounting concerns such as energy costs, a weak labor market and the escalating cost of health care. To attract more price-conscious shoppers, many grocers mirrored the Walmart approach of everyday low More grocers highlighted perishables and services in an effort to stand out against the discounters that reigned on deals.


Key Grocery Industry Developments More acquisition activity reshaped the industry. A decade of aggressive M&A activity began in 1990, when A&P acquired Miracle Food Mart, out of Canada. In 1992, Randalls acquired Cullum Cos., operator of the Tom Thumb/Page chain in Dallas. A $1.1 billion merger of Supervalu and Wetterau restored Supervalu to the No. 1 wholesaler position and gave the company its Save-A-Lot limited assortment format. In 1995, The Kroger Co. became the first supermarket to take grocery orders for home delivery via the internet. Target Stores opened its first Super Target, featuring a full grocery assortment, in Omaha, Neb. In 1996, Wild Oats and Alfalfa’s merged and filed an IPO, and Whole Foods Market bought Fresh Fields. Ahold increased its U.S. portfolio with the purchase of Stop & Shop, while Delhaize acquired Hannaford in 1999. In 1997, Safeway acquired Vons, and Fred Meyer purchased Smith’s Food & Drug and reached an agreement to buy Ralphs Grocery Co. and Quality Food Centers (QFC). In 1998, Kroger merged with Fred Meyer to form a multiregional supermarket operator.

pricing. Meanwhile, private label experienced a resurgence, proving that this strategy had more staying power, especially as the quality was better than the early versions of generics introduced decades earlier, and retailers soon recognized the power of private label as a means of differentiation. In fact, one supermarket executive even proclaimed in the pages of PG that the 1990s would later be viewed as “the era of the private brand,” although he predicted that the supermarket mix would always favor national brands. Retailers also increasingly turned to technology to tackle expenses, including higher energy costs. For instance, Big V Supermarkets trimmed its electrical costs by 29% compared with

Fun Facts About Grocery other chains’ average costs, thanks to a computerized energy management system.

ECR Offers New Focus

Competition for food dollars intensified in 1992, thanks to club stores, deep discounters, mass merchandisers and even chain drug stores that recognized the traffic-generating power of consumables categories. Overall grocery sales reached $382.6 billion, with sales at supermarkets specifically coming in at $286.3 billion. Faced with such sluggish growth and an imbalance in trade relations, retailers turned to a new concept to improve their operations. Officially launched in 1993, ECR was designed to help the traditional grocery sector become more responsive to consumer demand while promoting the removal of unnecessary costs from the supply chain. The second half of the decade brought about progress in the form of the dot-com boom, but for traditional grocers, growth was an uphill battle. Some of the more forward-thinking regional grocers, including Harris Teeter, Publix, Byerly’s, Genuardi’s Family Markets, Wegmans, Schnucks and Dominick’s, made the most of their collective wisdom via share groups and used their own insights and differentiation emphases to become leaders in their respective markets.

Consumers were introduced to self-checkout starting in 1990.

That same year, Peapod started offering online grocery shopping and home delivery service in the Chicago area, and supermarkets began experimenting with self-checkout. Also in 1990, Campbell Soup introduced Cream of Broccoli soup, which became the company’s most successful new soup in 55 years.

Natural and Organic Foods Gain Ground

While grocers were differentiating with ancillary services, nontraditional natural and organic food retailers were gaining in popularity. The largest of these was Whole Foods Market, which would end the decade with more than 100 locations. Other grocers would start featuring natural and organic products in special departments. As the composition of the grocery industry changed, conventional grocers countered by gaining scale. At the end of 1998, Albertsons, Safeway and Kroger were the three leading grocery chains in the United States, and the top five grocers accounted for an estimated 29% of all U.S. supermarket sales. Additionally, despite the lack of inflation, total sales had increased a healthy 3.5% to $472 billion, according to PG’s Annual Report that year.

In 1990, the Organic Foods Production Act established uniform national standards for the production and handling of foods labeled “organic.”

The estimated percentage of all U.S. supermarket sales at the top five grocers. —Progressive Grocer archives

In 1992, food irradiation began in Florida with 1,100 pints of strawberries. In the same year, FDA approved irradiation of fresh and frozen poultry, adding to its approval for produce, grain and pork. New York and Maine ended up banning irradiated foods, and many retailers were hesitant to carry such products in their stores. Also in 1992, the USDA introduced the Food Guide Pyramid, which was eventually replaced by a plate in 2011.

What Was Happening in the United States The 1990s began with a war in Iraq, followed by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and later the Oklahoma City bombing. At other times, world peace seemed an achievable goal, particularly when the Cold War officially ended with the demise of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall came tumbling down later in the decade. In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect,

the culmination of eight years of FMI advocacy. In 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles following a not-guilty verdict of four police officers in the Rodney King trial, bringing looting and chaos to many stores in South Central Los Angeles. Following the riots, FMI introduced an urbaninitiative program to broaden the role that supermarkets play in urban communities.

Food Lion, a growing chain in the Southeast, was at the center of an ABC “Primetime Live” special that accused the retailer of improperly handling perishables. While the accusations were widely believed to be concocted by disgruntled union employees, Food Lion and other retailers were dealt a blow as they were trying to earn consumers’ trust in a renewed era of food safety awareness. In 1995, Microsoft VP John Nielson was featured on the cover of Progressive Grocer

as part of a special technology report, which included a survey revealing that only 19% of grocers were accessing the internet at the time. That was the same year that Jeff Bezos and Amazon began selling books online, earning Bezos Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” nod in 1999. Meanwhile, the world waited anxiously as the new millennium began, fearing widespread computer problems due to a glitch known as Y2K. Happily, the year 2000 arrived without incident.




100 Years of Food Retailing 2002-2011

Millenium Crash Course Consolidation continued under FTC scrutiny, and traditional grocers innovated concepts while venturing into online grocery.


he first decade of the new millennium turned out to be quite a ride for retailers of food and consumables, as it included a shakeup of the country’s leading wholesalers, further consolidation among retailers, experimentation with new formats, and a fledgling online grocery business. The 2000s also saw some big changes at Progressive Grocer: The brand shifted its emphasis from a print-only product to a multimedia platform that now included an enhanced website, face-to-face events and webcasts. Then in 2002, the magazine merged with a former competitor in the trade press arena, Supermarket Business magazine. Conventional supermarkets continued to feel squeezed during the decade. Between 2000 and 2011, traditional grocers’ market share shrunk to 51% from 66%, according to a study conducted by UBS and Kantar Retail at the time. It seemed that traditional grocers were stuck in the middle of a consumer environment where shoppers were either going to value-priced retailers at one extreme or specialty stores at the other. Once the recession hit in 2007, penny-pinching shoppers flocked even more to discount formats like Family Dollar and Dollar General, which had started increasing their grocery offerings to even include some perishable items. At the same time, more affluent consumers opted for stores such as Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s and The Fresh Market, which boasted wider selections of fresh, organic and locally grown products. Then there was the increased presence of general merchandise retailers in the grocery market. Walmart officially became the country’s leading food retailer in 2003, and Target posed a bigger threat as it undertook a major remerchandising initiative to expand food and consumables. Early on in the 2000s, with share prices Walmart became the world’s largest food retailer in 2003.


Key Grocery Industry Developments Grocers did deals and leveraged data. In 2000, Ahold surprised the industry by proposing to buy U.S. Foodservice for $3.6 billion. Later that year, the global retailer eliminated its Edwards banner, folding the brand into its Stop & Shop division. In 2005, Ahold sold Bi-Lo/Bruno’s to Lone Star Funds, which ended up selling off stores, spinning off the Bruno’s and Food World stores into a separate company, and eventually selling Bi-Lo. A major grocery strike and lockout in California involving Albertsons, Safeway and Kroger throughout 2003 and 2004 made national headlines. In 2004, Albertsons acquired Shaw’s Supermarkets and Star Markets, establishing a New England presence. Winn-Dixie was hit with a class action in 2004 alleging that the company’s top executives mismanaged the company and failed to set up a strategic plan. By the following year, the company filed for bankruptcy protection and implemented a major strategic restructuring. In 2007, A&P revealed plans to buy Pathmark for $1.3 billion. British supermarket giant Tesco decided to test its retailing prowess across the pond by launching its Fresh & Easy format on the West Coast in 2007.

reduced and higher interest rates, consolidation started moving in a new direction, with smaller operators becoming prime takeover targets (see the sidebar above for specific examples). Some of the mergers were too big for the government’s taste, though. For instance, in 2000 the Federal Trade Commission made Albertsons divest 145 stores in connection with its mid1999 acquisition of American Stores. Kroger also felt FTC pressure when it had to back down from a plan to buy 74 Winn-Dixie stores in Texas and Oklahoma. Meanwhile, the wholesaling sector experienced a shakeup beginning in June 2000, when the country’s No. 2 wholesaler, Fleming Cos., said that it would

Fun Facts About Grocery sell its conventional supermarkets and focus instead on its price-impact format, Food 4 Less. A few years later, Fleming filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 and ended up joining forces with Core-Mark. Leading wholesaler Supervalu, for its part, acquired the former Midwest operations of Fleming Cos. from C&S Wholesale Grocers and then in 2006 revealed that it would acquire Albertsons as part an investment group with CVS and a collection of investors. The deal gave Supervalu more than 2,150 new stores and catapulted it to a leading spot among the nation’s supermarket chains. In 2011, the company closed underperforming stores and sold all but 27 of its fuel centers. There was also a rearrangement of the natural and organic retailing sector. In 2007, Whole Foods enhanced its footprint significantly by purchasing its former rival, Wild Oats, for $565 million. Unfortunately, by the end of the decade, one family-owned grocery pioneer succumbed to industry pressure and exited the business. That was Richmond, Va.-based Ukrop’s. Ahold’s Giant-Carlisle division purchased the retailer’s stores, with the goal of expanding its presence in Virginia.

Whole Foods grew exponentially, even acquiring a onetime competitor, Wild Oats, during the decade.

Makers of soy foods put forth their best efforts to make soy a center-of-the-plate protein, while a controversy brewed over the name soy “milk” as opposed to soy beverage.

New Formats and Online Experiments

As traditional grocers struggled to keep up with so much competition, a number of them turned to alternative formats, while some retailers tested such ideas on a smaller scale, featuring dollar aisles and standalone organic and natural food Founded in 2002, online grocer FreshDirect had reported $2 sections, among other concepts. million in weekly sales by 2004. Meanwhile, companies made significant inroads in technology during the decade with ideas such as electronic buying alliances, and, of course, online ordering and delivery. In fact, FreshDirect, launched in 2002, had reported $2 million in weekly sales by 2004. While many grocers outsourced this type of service to online companies, Ahold went all out and bought Peapod in 2000, pumping $73 million into the online operation and gaining a controlling 51% interest.

Organic and natural foods were one of the hottest trends of the decade. Major CPG manufacturers rolled out their own versions of organic and natural foods, while also acquiring smaller, homegrown suppliers who had already established successful brands. Meanwhile, the USDA finalized national organic standards in 2000, and in 2002 products labeled “USDA certified organic” appearing on shelves for the first time.

In 2000 Smucker’s introduced Uncrustables, frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that have the crusts already cut off. In 2005 Procter & Gamble announced it would buy Gillette, bringing together some of the world’s best known household brands into one company. Percentage that the market share shrank, from 66%, for traditional grocers, 2000-11. —UBS and Kantar Retail study

In 2006 Walmart became the country’s largest seller of organic milk. In 2008 the world’s largest brewer came to be when Belgian brewer InBev reached a deal to acquire AnheuserBusch for $52 billion.

What Was Happening in the United States The first decade of the new millennium was marked forever by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Thousands of lives were lost and the nation was thrown into turmoil. Grocers were on high alert, since the food supply could be a potential target going forward. President George Bush responded by launching the War

on Terror, an American-led global counterterrorism campaign that included wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Apple released the iPod — a portable media player — in 2001, followed by the iPhone in 2007, a device which launched the mobile revolution. Social media sites such

as My Space, Facebook and Twitter further changed the way Americans communicate with one another, along with how companies reach consumers. In 2003, the USDA confirmed the first case of “mad cow disease” in the United States. Japan, China and South Korea stopped the importation of U.S. beef, and the United States went on to implement new safeguards in animal feed production.

Barack Obama became the first African-American president in the country’s history when he was elected in November 2008. His tenure began as the nation was grappling with the fallout of the housing bubble and a related financial crisis that took down several major Wall Street firms, prompting the resulting economic situation to be branded the Great Recession.




100 Years of Food Retailing 2012-2022

Grocery Seeks ‘Next Normal’ Amid Disruption

After impressive e-commerce advancements, mounting competitive pressures and a life-changing pandemic, grocers contemplate what’s to come as the pace of change accelerates.


s the 2010s progressed, every aspect of the grocery industry experienced change at an ever quickening pace. Much of it was driven by advancements in technology, whether it was artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, frictionless store experiences, or automation and autonomy. Most significant, though, was the adoption of e-commerce in the grocery world early in the decade, which was then accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years. To help food retailers navigate the rapidly evolving landscape — which would soon include Amazon — Progressive Grocer noted in December 2014, “Grocers must merge the best aspects of traditional and digital retailing — and those that don’t, put their future at risk.” Many grocers appreciated the risk and made notable moves to position themselves to win with digitally engaged shoppers. Retailers such as Albertsons, SpartanNash, Walmart, Ahold Delhaize USA and Sedano’s experimented with micro-fulfilment centers. Others, such as Whole Foods Market and Farmstead opted for the dark-store approach to online order fulfillment. On the other end of the fulfillment spectrum, The Kroger Co. launched an exclusive partnership in 2018 with U.K.Automated fulfillment centers opened to enable grocers to expand their e-commerce operations.


Key Grocery Industry Developments The 2010s saw a clash of the titans as new mega-deals emerged. In 2015, Albertsons merged with Safeway and Kroger acquired Roundy’s. Amazon rattled the industry with its 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods Market. In 2021, Raley’s acquired Bashas’ Family of Stores, and Bodega Latina Corp. acquired Smart & Final. It was the end of an era for A&P in 2015, when the Northeast grocery giant went out of business after twice declaring bankruptcy. Its Waldbaum’s, Pathmark, Superfresh, The Food Emporium and Food Basics banners were subsequently snapped up by rivals. German deep-discounter Lidl arrived in America in 2017 with much fanfare but little initial success. The company eventually found its footing, invested heavily in the supply chain and ended the decade with more than 100 stores. Frictionless checkout became a reality in 2018, when Amazon introduced its cashier-less Amazon Go stores, which leveraged computer vision to track Prime members’ purchases and bill their payment method on file. In September 2020, in a bid to compete with Amazon Prime, Walmart introduced Walmart+, a membership program combining in-store and online benefits. Other grocers launched fee-based membership programs with benefits unique to their organizations.

based online supermarket Ocado that would see Kroger open heavily automated facilities measuring upwards of 300,000 square feet, with plans for a network of up to 20 facilities nationwide. Increased adoption of e-commerce and new expectations that had been set by Amazon regarding the immediacy of delivery created a new operational challenge for grocers. Filling the void for grocery delivery were new companies such as Instacart and Shipt, which relied on crowd-sourced labor to pick and deliver orders. Other delivery platforms, such as DoorDash and Uber, launched grocery delivery services as well. More recently, new expectations regarding delivery speed have been

Fun Facts About Grocery In 2013, the original Cronut — a croissant-doughnut mashup — was invented by Dominique Ansel at his namesake New York bakery. The treat was soon imitated by grocers with instore bakeries.

set by the rise of so-called instant-needs delivery services, including the likes of Buyk, DoorDash, Gopuff, Gorillas and Jokr.

Shifting Competition

Beyond the rise of e-commerce, the decade witnessed the changing nature of competition on two fronts. Retailers such as Walmart, Target, Dollar General, Family Dollar and the warehouse club chains had become dominant outlets for food sales, siphoning trips from conventional grocers. Recognizing the shift, FMI rebranded itself in January 2020, prompting PG Editorial Director Mike Troy to write, “With a familiar acronym but a more comprehensive, consumer-centric view of the marketplace, FMI — The Food Industry Association has established a much-needed vision to ensure its relevance for generations to come.” Meanwhile, early in the decade, food away from home surpassed food at home in the share-of-stomach battle, with grocers often finding themselves competing against restaurants. However, market share lost to foodservice operators was quickly regained when the pandemic began in early 2020 and homebound Americans rediscovered cooking. PG’s “What’s Next for the Way America Eats” research revealed that many Americans enjoyed cooking again and planned to continue doing so. The public-health crisis brought other changes to food retailing as well, prompting an often-heard comment that trends already in motion were accelerated by five to 10 years. COVID-19 also spurred record rates of sales growth among companies on The PG 100’s ranking of North America’s largest retailers of food and consumables, “which meant that the combined sales of PG 100 constituent companies increased 11.6% to $2,113 trillion, compared with $1,893 trillion last year,” according to the May 2021 issue. That rate of growth proved unsustainable, but the chaos of a pandemic and the changes it wrought proved a fitting way for PG to end the final year of its first century. As a new century begins, students of grocery industry history will recognize that unforeseen challenges will emerge, as will opportunities that are unimaginable today.

Instant-needs delivery services such as Jokr narrowed the delivery window of order arrival.

Heralded as “the sweetest comeback in the history of ever,” Twinkies made their return to grocery store shelves in July 2013, six months after production of the beloved snack cakes was discontinued in the wake of parent company Hostess Brands’ bankruptcy. In 2014, Procter & Gamble launched its #LikeAGirl campaign to promote confidence and empowerment among young women. The plant-based revolution began in 2016, when the Beyond Burger and the Impossible Burger both debuted, prompting grocers to quickly introduce their ownbrand plant-based proteins.

The sales percentage increase retailers saw due to the pandemic. —The PG 100, May 2021 issue

Concerns over environmental, social and governance issues reached new heights, inspiring Progressive Grocer to debut its Impact Awards program in 2021.

What Was Happening in the United States It was a decade of disruption for society at large, as well as for retailers. Mass shootings occurred with disturbing regularity at schools, movie theaters, workplaces and also retail stores. Major retailers felt the impact when shootings causing multiple fatalities occurred at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart store in 2019, and a Boulder, Colo., location of King Soopers, a Kroger banner, in 2021. Civil unrest was a common occurrence as national politics

became increasingly divisive during the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. The latter’s surprise win in 2016 ushered in a particularly contentious period and a protracted debate over foreign election influence. Further turmoil was caused by the election of Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, in 2020, which led to an outbreak of political turmoil that culminated in rioters overrunning the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Retailers sought to lead in matters of racial equity, prompting an outpouring of financial support and new commitments to hire, promote and diversify the ranks of senior leadership and company boards. Although they simmered throughout the decade, racial tensions erupted in the summer of 2020, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Widespread protests, some of which grew violent and destructive, occurred in cities around the nation.

The #MeToo movement went viral in 2017, drawing attention to the issue of sexual abuse in professional settings and beyond, leading many industries, including grocery, to consider their treatment of women in the workplace and seek to do better.





Trust and Transparency in Protein

thal, chief strategy officer at the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). “Research shows that consumers are specifically looking to the industry to make strides for healthy people, healthy animals, healthy communities and a healthy planet. As an industry, we need to be able to show progress in all of these areas to meet consumer expectations and grow trust.” That sentiment is shared by someone who follows data and consumer trends closely. “Increasingly, transparency, social responsibility and environmental sustainability are driving shoppers to want to know more about the products they buy, including production practices and corporate citizenship,” notes Anne-Marie Roerink, principal at market research firm 210 Analytics. “Meat and poultry are no exception.”

Meat of the Matter

The push for greater transparency is fueled by a variety of factors. Some shoppers have an innate curiosity about how food is made, and appreciate storytelling behind the product.

SHOPPER PERCEPTIONS AND E XPECTATIONS ARE CHANGING AS GROCERS T WE AK THE ME AT CASE AND THEIR MESSAGING. By Lynn Petrak t wasn’t that long ago that there was a disconnect of sorts at the meat case, with shoppers picking up various commodity cuts of beef, pork, chicken and other meats packaged in foam trays with clear overwrap, and not thinking too much about where and how the products got there. Along with a makeover of the retail meat department, which now includes an array of case-ready and branded items and natural and organic offerings, there have been some sweeping changes in consumer awareness of animal protein products. People are increasingly interested in learning how animals bound for human consumption are raised, cared for and handled in the farm-to-fork chain. Moreover, their concerns extend beyond the product itself and into considerations like packaging and the operations of manufacturers, processors and retailers. “Greater consumer expectations for companies to be more transparent and align with their values are not unique to the protein sector, but it’s a trend that the sector needs to be responsive to and embrace,” asserts Eric Mitten-


Key Takeaways People are increasingly interested in learning how animals bound for human consumption are raised, cared for and handled in the farm-to-fork chain. Their concerns extend beyond the product itself and into considerations like packaging and the operations of manufacturers, processors and retailers. As the bridge between meat producers and consumers, retailers have been working to boost transparency and build their shoppers’ trust in protein.

Whether scanning a QR code on a label or stopping to read a placard consumer defines the term when shopping for meat placed near the meat case, they want to learn about the fourth-generproducts — and that starts with animal welfare.” ation Colorado rancher who tends to her cattle, or the crew of Alaskan When Midan’s researchers asked consumers what fishermen using careful practices to reel in a catch. factors they consider when meat is raised sustainOn a more serious note, a growing number of consumers are ably, the top two responses were “animal welfare/ driven by their beliefs and values regarding larger issues like sushumanely raised meat” and “animals raised without tainability, animal welfare and social responsibility. antibiotics/hormones,” Uetz adds. Shopper interest in sustainability, in particular, is accelerating In addition, the Midan study finds that 44% of conand influences perceptions of meat and poultry offerings. Accordsumers believe if a package of meat has a “sustainably ing to a recent report from research firm Midan Marketing, more raised” label claim, the animals were raised more huthan a third (34%) of meat eaters have become more concerned manely. “One way retailers can show this to shoppers is about the sustainability of meat products in the past year, and 41% through imagery with cattle on a green pasture with lots have become more concerned about sustainability in general. of space,” Uetz observes. As their eco-concerns grow, there’s a bit of a knowledge Similar to environmental and animal welfare issues gap among consumers, according to Midan’s findings. Case in that reflect macro concerns, there is a set of shoppers point: Although 86% of consumers are somewhat or very fakeen to know more about the governance of compamiliar with sustainability, only 68% are familiar with sustainably nies and brands that produce animal proteins. The Noraised meat or poultry. vember survey from 210 Analytics shows that a brand’s “While they are familiar with the term, understanding what it means to the meat shopper is important for retailers to shape their messaging around,” says Michael Uetz, principal at Midan Marketing. The 2021 “Power of Meat” report, conducted by 210 Analytics and published by FMI — The Food Industry Association, also highlights the growing priority of sustainability among meat buyers. According to the report, consumers’ considerations of better-forthe-planet meat and poultry products grew 5% from 2019 to 2020. Newer data from a primary shopper survey conducted in November 2021 by 210 Analytics shows that specific environmental considerations are influencing shoppers during the decisionmaking process. According to the survey, a brand’s commitment to limit package waste influences 42% of meat and poultry purchase decisions. That number is even higher for Millennials, for whom it factors into 48% of animal protein choices. Mirroring the growing importance of sustainability, animal —Eric Mittenthal, NAMI welfare concerns have become top of mind among protein consumers. The 2021 “Power of Meat” study showed that 44% of Mirroring the growing importance of sustainability, animal welfare meat shoppers take into account concerns have become top of mind among protein consumers. animal welfare considerations such as animal living, feeding and care, and 55% believe that transparency on how and where animals were raised and produced is important. Here, too, there’s room for better messaging, as a lower number — 39% — of consumers feel that they have enough information about animal welfare to make educated choices at the meat case. Animal welfare often overlaps with sustainability, something that retailers should bear in mind, Uetz notes. “We often assume that consumers think of environmental issues when considering sustainability,” he explains. “What our research showed was that we need to focus on how the meat

Research shows that consumers are specifically looking to the industry to make strides for healthy people, healthy animals, healthy communities and a healthy planet. As an industry, we need to be able to show progress in all of these areas to meet consumer expectations and grow trust.”





commitment to fair pay, diversity and inclusion influences 49% of meat and poultry purchase decisions, and a brand’s support of special causes affects 54% of protein purchase decisions. Meanwhile, before, during and likely after the pandemic, health and wellness are contributing to shoppers’ desire to learn more about the meat, poultry and seafood that they buy. Some good news on this front: According to the latest “Power of Meat” report, 81% of meat shoppers believe they have enough nutrition information to make educated decisions, compared with 57% of consumers in 2009. None of these factors exists in a vacuum, of course, and the lines between these purchase drivers often blur. The same consumer may be keen on storytelling, look for products that align with personal values and beliefs, and hold high standards for the healthfulness, quality and safety of animal-based proteins.

Actions Speak Loudly

As insights affirm that protein consumers prioritize trust and transparency, those in the food supply chain, including farmers and ranchers, processors, brands, and grocers, are responding to what has become a discerning consumer base. For example, while those in the meat industry have worked collaboratively for decades to provide safe, quality products to consumers, various groups are coming together to address emerging consumer concerns about sustainability, animal welfare, social responsibility and more. One example is the Protein PACT, an initiative from partners such as NAMI, the National Pork Producers Council, the Animal Agriculture Alliance and several others; these groups are working within their organizations and across the industry to establish transparent baselines and benchmarks for continuous improvement, as well as to set targets and communication efforts regarding transparency. “Beyond meeting consumer expectations, the Protein PACT work aims to help retailers achieve their own sustainability goals as well,” says Mittenthal. “All of the metrics NAMI is measuring align with existing frameworks or are already being asked for by many retailers. NAMI’s framework allows retailers to look to a common set of metrics throughout our membership that they can rely upon to know that the companies supplying meat and poultry are taking specific steps to improve their impact on healthy Sustainability, animal welfare and social responsibility are prominent parts of many grocers' platforms and plans, as is the case with Albertsons, maker of the O Organics ground beef brand.


Change in Concern Level About Sustainable Meat


Less concerned

34% More concerned

64% Stayed the same

Source: Midan Marketing

people, healthy animals, healthy communities and a healthy planet that helps meet the retailer’s goals and build trust in the retailer as well.” Mittenthal emphasizes the importance of being able to back up claims. “Part of improving our transparency and trust is showing proof points of how we are progressing as an industry, and we don’t have those proof points without developing specific measures that can be tracked throughout the industry over time and shared,” he explains, adding that communication is paramount to shoring up trust. “In addition to measuring our own progress, we have to make sure those stories are being shared to maintain consumer trust in the industry.” As the bridge between meat producers and consumers, retailers have been working to convey such messages and build their shoppers’ trust in protein. In addition to grocers that have staked a claim on natural and organic products, many large chains are taking visible steps to boost transparency. To that end, sustainability, animal welfare and social responsibility are prominent parts of many grocers’ platforms and plans. Publix Super Markets, for example, has a public goal that “animals used in the production of our products be handled, transported and processed using procedures that are clean, safe, and free from cruelty, abuse or neglect.” In fall 2021, The Kroger Co., Giant Eagle, Natural Grocers and Sprouts Farmers Market joined more than 200 food companies in the United States in signing on to the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC), which pledges higher standards for broiler chicken welfare. Natural Grocers, for one, notes that all chicken in its fresh and frozen departments will meet BCC standards by 2024 and 2026; these include sourcing birds that are raised in enriched environments, processed in a way that avoids pre-stun handling and produced in compliance with third-party audit standards.


Purchased Broiler Chicken Indirectly for Commercial Use Since 2008? You Could Get Money from Class Action Settlements Totaling Approximately $103 Million

Defendants Amick Farms, LLC, Fieldale Farms Corporation, George’s Inc. and George’s Farms, Inc., Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc., Mar-Jac Poultry MS, LLC, Mar-Jac Poultry AL, LLC, Mar-Jac AL/MS, Inc., Mar-Jac Poultry, LLC, and Mar-Jac Holdings, Inc., Peco Foods, Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, Tyson Foods, Inc., Tyson Chicken, Inc., Tyson Breeders, Inc., and Tyson Poultry, Inc. (collectively, “Settling Defendants”) have agreed to Settlements resolving claims that they conspired to fix prices and manipulated the supply of broiler chickens (“Broilers”), which may have caused businesses to pay more for Broilers. Broilers are chickens raised for meat consumption which are sold in a variety of forms, including fresh or frozen, raw or cooked, whole or in parts, or as a meat ingredient. Settling Defendants deny these claims. The Court has not made any final decision as to which side is right.

AM I INCLUDED? Your company may be included if, from January 1, 2008, through July 31, 2019, it indirectly purchased Broilers from a Defendant or co-conspirator in the United States for use in commercial food preparation. The largest categories of purchasers included are businesses that purchased Broilers through distributors such as restaurants, grocery store deli counters that commercially prepare meals, and institutional purchasers such as nongovernmental hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. A more detailed notice, including the exact Class definitions and exceptions to Class membership, is available at

WHAT DO THE SETTLEMENTS PROVIDE? The Settlements provide for the combined payment of approximately $103 million in cash to the Settlement Classes to resolve all Settlement Class claims against the Settling Defendants and their affiliates. If the Settlements are approved, the Settling Defendants will be dismissed from the case. The Settling Defendants have also agreed to certain types of cooperation in the pursuit of claims against the other non-Settling Defendants and certain Settling Defendants have agreed to injunctive relief.

HOW CAN I GET A PAYMENT? In order to be eligible to receive a payment from the Settlements you must submit a valid Claim Form no later than March 2, 2022, and have made your indirect Broiler purchase in one of the following states: Arizona, California, Connecticut (only for the Amick Farms settlement), District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. You may submit a Claim Form either online or by mail. More details about how the funds will be allocated and the Claim Form are available at

WHEN WILL I GET A PAYMENT? Payments from the Settlements will not be distributed until the Court grants final approval of the Settlements, any objections or appeals are resolved, and all claims have been processed and verified. Updates will be provided on the website at

WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS? If you do nothing, you will be bound by the Court’s decisions concerning these Settlements. If you want to keep your right to sue one or more of the Settling Defendants regarding Broiler purchases, you must exclude yourself from the Settlement Classes in writing by March 2, 2022. You may exclude yourself from one or more of the Settlements. If you exclude yourself from a Settlement, you will not be eligible to receive money from that Settlement. If you stay in the Classes, you may object to one or more of the Settlements in writing by March 2, 2022. The Settlement Agreements, along with details on how to exclude yourself or object, are available at

THE FINAL FAIRNESS HEARING? The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois will hold a hearing on April 18, 2022, at 10:00 am, at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 219 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60604 to consider whether to finally approve the Settlements. Class Counsel will also request service awards in an amount not to exceed $15,000 per class representative, attorneys’ fees of up to 35% of the Settlement Funds, and reimbursement of litigation costs and expenses not to exceed $10,658,854.99. You or your own lawyer may appear and speak at the hearing at your own expense, but you do not have to. The hearing may be moved to a different date or time or may be held by video conference without additional notice, so it is a good idea to check the above-noted website for additional information. Please do not contact the Court about this case. If the case against the other Defendants is not dismissed or settled, Class Counsel will have to prove their claims against the other Defendants at trial. Dates for the trial have not yet been set. The Court has appointed the law firms of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP and Gustafson Gluek PLLC to represent Settlement Class Members.

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Store Design

Produce is a standout in Sobeys' recently opened store in Orangeville, Ontario, the first North American supermaket to implement the Flexstore concept.

the fresh food departments, which are positioned along the walls of the store. In the center of the store, gondolas with dry goods are positioned where the customers can focus on their rational shopping list.”

Adaptability for All Formats


his past November, Canadian grocer Sobeys opened a store in Orangeville, Ontario, that, according to Zurich-based design and shopfitting company Interstore | Schweitzer, “is a completely new brand experience that will break new ground and set it apart from the competition.” The location’s debut marked the first time that Interstore | Schweitzer’s Flexstore concept had been implemented in North America. In a Flexstore, all of the fixtures used are flexible and ready to plug in, thanks to an elaborate system in which the building services, including water and electricity, are fed from the ceiling into the counters and fixtures. Fresh food counters and refrigerated units can be flexibly outsourced according to this principle, and docked onto other areas as required. For instance, a pizza counter can easily be replaced by a salad bar by simply moving and exchanging the counters. The concept thus enables a retailer to change counters and entire departments quickly and easily, including from service to self-service, without incurring major construction costs. “The aim of the project was to translate the new brand concept of Sobeys into a suitable store format and to set innovative accents that will flow into further projects in the future,” explains Interstore | Schweitzer, which designed and implemented the new prototype. “The final concept, which relies on a modified customer flow and a flexible store layout, will serve as a guideline for other stores. Hence, the customer journey leads the shopper in a circle through


The Flexstore concept brings together a range of ideas, many of which had been used over the years to overcome design challenges for various retail collaborators of Interstore | Schweitzer, including Texas-based grocer H-E-B and upscale U.K. food retailer Waitrose. “Over the last four or five years, one of the biggest German retailers and food retailers and the biggest Swiss retailer, together with us, decided to go deeper into the technical development of this, what we now call Flexstore, with all these different elements and components, how to solve the issue of drainage for the refrigerated counters, how to work and have the possibility to go around in the store with electricity, water supply and need in the service departments, and things like that,” recounts Interstore | Schweitzer CEO Bernhard Schweitzer in an exclusive interview with Progressive Grocer from his company’s offices in northern Italy. “And so these two major retailers in Switzerland and in Germany financed these developments, and in 2020, at EuroShop, we were allowed to present to the public what we have developed over the last four, five years. So it’s a sum of different technologies.” One key motivation in Flexstore’s development, he notes, was hearing retailers continually request: “Please give us a tool, give us something which will allow us … to constantly adapt layouts … with the right equipment, change the composition and the position of certain departments, enlarge certain departments. We have to have the possibility to do that.” Additionally, the German retailer noted earlier “was buying over 100 big stores, and didn’t want to renovate them completely, but wanted to integrate completely new service departments,” says Schweitzer. “And with this idea of the Flexstore, where everything is plug and play, we were able in a very, very short time to produce these departments, bring them and position them in the stores

It becomes extremely important for the future, for the retailers, that they constantly can adapt and change how to present different assortments to their consumers.” —Bernhard Schweitzer, Interstore | Schweitzer CEO without changing too much of the rest of the store. So these possibilities to be completely flexible in strategic decisions and be very, very, very fast in realizing these ideas, is for sure today one of the major motivations for retailers to use” Flexstore. Since the concept features “the kind of technologies that allow us to be extremely fast in the construction period,” he continues, the company was able to reduce construction time on site by around 40%. Further, while the Orangeville Sobeys isn’t a small-format store, the Flexstore concept can work for retail spaces of any size, including smaller locations. “Especially for smaller formats, flexibility becomes more and more important,” Schweitzer tells PG. “In a big store, yes, it’s important to be flexible, but if you have the wrong assortment or the wrong combination of departments in a smaller store, it really, really can hurt. And to have the possibility to adapt that, it’s quite important.”

Thanks to the Flexstore concept, Sobeys will be able to quickly modify the seafood and deli departments in its Orangeville store when necessary.

The Orangeville Sobeys also includes an easily adaptable prepared food section, where, as in other parts of the store, the product presentation is accentuated by lighting from Imoon.

Next Steps in North America

One criticism that Schweitzer levels against certain American grocers is their sameness when it comes to design. “There are a lot of these food retailers who have their own identity, they have created that, but there are some others which have not so much” distinguished themselves, he observes. “That’s something which we would like to bring much more into the United States,” he adds, “and, with the collaboration with Sobeys, we now have a very interesting team and base in Toronto” to do just that. In fact, Schweitzer notes that since the company has been allowed to travel to the United States again after the lifting of pandemic restrictions, it has met with retailers in various states, while several U.S. grocery operators have flocked to Toronto to find out more about the design concept, indicating what Schweitzer calls “a very big interest in these kinds of solutions.” Asked about retailers’ reactions after implementing Flexstore, he replies that “it becomes extremely important for the future, for the retailers, that they constantly can adapt and change how to present different assortments to their consumers. So, I think, quite positively, very positive feedback from the consumers, because it becomes more of a lighter store environment, with less fixed elements and so on.” When it comes to specific metrics, Schweitzer points to a German client whose nonfood assortment was too small and whose seafood and prepared food departments were also in need of enlargement. “In these possibilities to make corrections and adapt on that, I think the last figures we heard were … he started with 16% more turnover, and he ended up now around the 28%, 30% more turnover [mark], because he was able to adapt his assortment, linear feet and everything, to what the new sales in that store really were.” The Sobeys store design also highlights product presentation, accentuated by lighting from Milan-based Imoon that illuminates various departments to create a different ambiance for each area. The technologically advanced light fixtures have resulted in energy savings of 30%-40%, according to Imoon and Interstore | Schweitzer. Based in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, Empire Co. Ltd. is a Canadian company with key businesses in food retailing through its wholly owned Sobeys chain and related real estate. Sobeys Inc. is Canada’s second-largest retail group, with more than 1,500 supermarkets in all 10 Canadian provinces. PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2022



Inflation Strategies


oughly two years after its onset, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a source of disproportionate distress for low-income Americans. Already hit with more cases and deaths than higher-income customers, they again face disparity as inflation surges. This is particularly true with food inflation, which reflects the shortage and rising prices of commodities, lack of available labor, and greater transportation costs. Food companies generally respond to inflation by, among other things, raising consumer prices; however, there are ways to lessen the pain for low-income consumers. We looked at data on sales of groceries in the United States for the past two years, obtained from Information Resources Inc. (IRI). We defined households with annual income below $35,000 as low-income, $35,000 to $70,000 as mid-income, and more than $70,000 as high-income. Our analysis found that low-income shoppers suffered disproportionately for two key reasons:

In an effort to cut costs and streamline their deal structure, retailers may offer deals based on quantity purchased or bulk packaging, which shortchange low-income customers.



Low-income customers paid relatively higher prices. Fears of inflation arose as the economy started opening up amid a national decrease in COVID cases. However, even before the pandemic, low-income customers paid significantly higher prices on items they purchased, compared with prices paid by high-income customers. In April 2020, when the pandemic started spreading widely in the United States, the average price per unit on products purchased was up 3.2% over May 2019 for low-income customers, but just 2.3% for high-income customers. This disproportionate price difference worsened over the next year, with an increase of 6.3% for low-income customers, compared with only 2.7% for high-income buyers. Low-income customers in general pay more for food for various reasons. First, stores in their neighborhoods are relatively smaller and don’t have economies of scale compared with supermarkets and other national chains. Moreover, they face relatively less competition than stores in high-income neighborhoods and, as such, have less incentive to offer lower prices. Second, low-income customers purchase items in small packages due to limited affordability and limited storage space, which implies they pay more per unit. Third, these shoppers are less likely to purchase online, given their relatively poor access to broadband. Also, although more internet retailers have started accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, it’s not yet widespread enough to reduce continued dependence on neighborhood stores. The pandemic worsened this situation further. Due to disproportionate financial distress, they’re more likely to purchase essentials, which have less price elasticity of demand. Hence, manufacturers have less incentive to keep prices low. Also, manufacturers have been reducing the size of packages to avoid increasing prices, which may also have contributed to the rise in effective prices for low-income customers. Their access to stores outside of their neighborhoods has been affected, too, because of restrictions in public transport.


Low-income customers got relatively fewer deals. Demand soared at the beginning of the pandemic, leaving little

Governments and industry, as well as nonprofits, have to work together to ease the disproportionate burden on lower socioeconomic classes. reason for manufacturers and retailers to offer deals. Gradually, the buying frenzy waned and discounts returned; however, their numbers or amounts have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. Low-income customers faced disparity here, too. Taking May 2019 as the reference, purchases made on any sort of deal dipped by about the same amount — 42% for high-income customers and 43% for low-income shoppers — in April 2020, when the pandemic was taking hold. In the following year, however, the dollar share of discounted items in their purchases rose by 42% for high-income customers, but only by 33% for low-income consumers. Put together, this is 18% below the pre-pandemic level for high-income customers, but 24% lower for low-income customers. It’s conventional wisdom that manufacturers use coupons to attract price-sensitive customers. But low-income consumers again lost out — they have relatively fewer coupons to avail themselves of. From May 2019 to April 2020, purchases of products with manufacturer coupons decreased by 63% for high-income customers and by 57% for low-income customers. Those numbers have since recovered remarkably for high-income customers, rising by 70%; however, the same comparison for low-income consumers reveals an increase of just 37%. There could be several reasons for this disparity. First, products purchased by low-income customers have lower margins, so there’s not enough room to offer discounts. Second, the fact that a majority of their purchases are essential in nature acts as a force for both price increase and discount reduction. Third, in an effort to cut costs and streamline their deal structure, retailers may have structured deals based on quantity purchased or bulk packages, which, again, shortchange low-income customers.

Changing the Trends

Price increases tend to be sticky, and while the low-income customers may start availing themselves of more deals gradually, the gap between them and high-income shoppers is likely to remain even if inflation comes back to the long-term average. How can industry and government collaborate to provide them relief and correct persistent disparities? Here are some ways to benefit not only low-income shoppers, but also brands and retailers. Low-income neighborhoods need greater access to broadband internet to price-shop across offline and online stores. In 2020, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which offers one-time discounts for equipment like tablets or laptops and up to $50 per month toward broadband

service. FCC should measure the effectiveness of the program and improve it further. Customers in so-called “food deserts” need more grocery shopping options. The Healthy Food Access for All Americans act, currently under consideration, would create tax credits for new grocery store construction and for retrofitting the health food sections of existing stores in food deserts. These types of incentives are a good starting point. More online retailers need to support the SNAP program. Walmart and Amazon were among the companies that participated in a pilot program that allowed SNAP participants to select and pay for groceries online. The program, which enables shoppers to use electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards to pay for groceries, now has participating retailers in 46 states and the District of Columbia. It needs to bring in even more retailers. Low-income customers need better access to supermarkets and chain stores. Access to public transportation is almost nonexistent in rural areas, and many services in urban areas are cutting back. Around $25 billion in COVID relief funds went to transit agencies, but many of these agencies remain in financial distress. For retailers and brands, the solutions to these challenges don’t have to be only an expense – they can be investments in opportunities. For instance, enabling EBT card payments may increase sales of private label items on retailers’ websites. Retailers can also employ some creative strategies, such as aggregating orders from a community to ensure that the orders qualify for free home delivery. Savvy entrepreneurs can serve these markets profitably, too. For example, similar to food trucks, they can deploy grocery trucks as stores on wheels to sell fresh produce, meats and packaged goods. Governments and industry, as well as nonprofits, have to work together to ease the disproportionate burden on lower socioeconomic classes. Poverty costs society billions of dollars annually in lost economic productivity and increased costs for health care. Closing gaps in prices for low-income customers, therefore, will not only benefit brands and retailers by lifting overall sales, but also contribute to the greater good.

Dinesh Gauri is a professor and chair of the marketing department at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, where he specializes in retail strategy, pricing, analytics, Big Data, omnichannel and shopper marketing.





What’s in Store for CPGs in ’22?

rolled out price increases during the fourth quarter of 2021 and said that they expected to raise prices into 2022.

What’s Ahead

In its outlook, IRI predicts that price is a contributing factor that will drive CPG growth in 2022 at a rate of 1% to 5%. Inflation and consumers’ return to mobility will place downward movement on at-home consumption volume, the report asserts. Among IRI’s key predictions for 2022 with major implications for grocers:

A NE W MARKE T RE VIE W AND OUTLOOK FROM IRI SHEDS LIGHT ON TRENDS AND OPPORTUNITIES. By Lynn Petrak alling it an “inflationary 2022,” market research firm Information Resources Inc. (IRI) projects more volatility in pricing and in consumers’ reactionary behaviors for the coming year. This fits-and-starts retail environment, fueled by the stubborn issues of the pandemic, supply chain gaps and labor shortages, is likely to continue and have an effect on inflationary trends, according to IRI’s new “CPG Market Review and Outlook.” Following a year of steadily climbing shelf price increases, experts at Chicago-based IRI believe that greater price sensitivities will emerge for everyday items like breakfast meats, frozen poultry and pet food. Consumers who had some relief in 2021 with stimulus payments and an economy that improved compared with 2020 started to pull back and change some of their behaviors in the third and fourth quarters. For example, IRI’s report notes that there has been a notable slowdown in the trend of premiumization that took off during the pandemic. On the flip side, IRI’s data shows a bounce in store-brand products in high-inflation categories like poultry and meat. Although larger CPGs recaptured share in 2021, IRI’s analysts have determined that an increase in value seeking related to inflation is likely to drive private label growth in the short term. As shoppers feel the pinch of higher prices, CPGs are significantly affected by market trends that are shaping up for 2022. Many larger players

At-home consumption will remain elevated compared with pre-pandemic levels, but away-from-home and on-the-go consumption will also increase.

Look for balanced growth across price tiers, including mainstream, value and private brands; some premium demand will remain.

Trends of convenience, particularly regarding meal solutions, will continue. Demand for on-the-go options will increase. Self-care and home care will remain priorities.

Continued investment in digital versus store assortments, including speed of delivery and consumer experience, will drive incremental share gains.

Expect Increasing Price Sensitivity as Demand Softens in 2022; Early Indications Are Seen in Some Categories in 2021 Changes in price elasticity — examples of reversion/percent change in volume from 10% increase in price/grocery channel/average across PPGs Price sensitivity mostly completely rebounds and categories that saw high demand in 2020 and normalized in 2021 Household Cleaners

Paper Towels

Brand A



Source: IRI


Brand B

Leading Franchise Core Edible Brand


-10.1 -15.0

Multicategory Edible Brand Franchise


-7.8 -9.6

There is evidence of rebounded — or further heightened elasticity — in established brand franchises across 30 of the largest CPG categories

-10.6 -12.7




-14.1 -16.3


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To meet the demands of value-seeking consumers and address price trends, IRI notes that CPGs and retailers should and will promote more often. It’s especially important to offer attractive price points and broad assortments to younger and low-income shoppers who helped drive growth in 2021 but are poised to spend less as prices rise. In this environment, not surprisingly, value retailers and value channels will have an edge heading into 2022. That said, IRI’s experts think that at least some premium demand will remain, and expect growth to be balanced across price tiers that span value brands, private label and mainstream CPG brands. Further, IRI’s team foresees CPGs’ and retailers’ continued investment in digital assortments, and a focus on improving the consumer experience and the speed of delivery. Diversifying products available both in store and in the digital channel can help attract and retain shoppers and meet their varying needs. From an operational standpoint, IRI’s researchers recommend that CPGs and retailers drive net price realization through tools like real-time management of price gaps, targeted promotions and an understanding of “granular consumer elasticity.” These measures can help offset pricing costs in their supply chain and labor outlays. The researchers also say that lower assortments and out-of-stocks are likely to persist through 2022, with labor shortages contributing to supply chain pressures as well. In some good news for CPGs and food retailers, the report notes that inflation in food away from home is likely to be higher than at-home inflation. The difference is mainly attributable to persistent labor shortages in the foodservice sector.

has been some improvement in away-from-home consumption due to greater mobility, but foodservice trends are still below 2019 levels. As for what’s on the horizon, the report highlights several consumer behaviors with implications for CPGs and retailers. Although shoppers will be price sensitive, they still want convenience, the report predicts. If and when mobility increases at a larger scale, convenience will be a particularly strong purchase driver for Gen X and Millennial-age consumers, many of whom seek easy meals for at-home consumption, while older and high-income consumers will continue to look for products related to self-care and indulgence. IRI notes that other aspects of consumer lifestyles are changing, too, like the migration to suburbs and midsize cities from larger urban areas, and pandemic-era habits that have stuck, such as bigger pantries and bulk shopping. In addition, as people encountered reduced food options at work and school, they grew used to packing more meals and snacks on the go, representing an opportunity for take-and-eat foods offered by CPGs. Meanwhile, IRI reports that grocery-channel CPG trips moved back to the mass channel in 2021, while club stores built on gains from 2020. In the digital space, e-grocers scored increases this past year, fueled by strong performances among large national brands. For 2022, the research firm projects that larger CPG companies can find growth by continuing to invest in assortment, speed of delivery, and operational efficiencies. The report also predicts that digital marketers like Amazon and retailers in the mass channel are set to pick up more nonedible product gains.

A Look at the 2022 Shopper

In its CPG review and outlook, IRI’s professionals outline some key consumer behaviors fueling market trends. Assessing the past year, the report affirms that at-home consumption of CPG items remained strong compared with pre-pandemic levels. There

Price Will Drive 1% - 5% Growth in 2022 as Increasing Mobility and Inflation Place Downward Pressure on Volume 2022 edible and nonedible CPG forecast/total U.S. omnichannel

Baseline 2016-19 CAGR

2020 vs. YA 2016-19 CAGR

2021 vs. YA 2021 YTD vs. 2020

Forecast: 2022 vs. YA Forecast Range

Dollars 2021 vs. 2YA CAGR 2021 YTD vs. 2019

Forecast: 2022 vs. 2019 (3YA CAGR) Forecast Range

EDIBLE 12.4 1.9



-2.6 Price Mix % Changes



1.2 - 2.1



0.2 - 1.1



Price Mix % Changes


3.9% - 5.2%






Price Mix % Changes



Source: IRI


3.2 - 5.3


-0.8 - -2.5

Price Mix % Changes


Key Demand Drivers Pricing, price sensitivity and the size of a remote and hybrid workforce are key drivers of 2022 demand.

-2.7 - -5.4

Price Mix % Changes


5.1 - 5.4

4.0% - 8.0%

3.9 - 4.6

4.3 -0.1

-0.4 - -1.0

Price Mix % Changes


4.0% - 8.0%


Volume is likely to be down 1% to 5% in 2022 versus 2021.


Hiring and Retention Strategies

Key Takeaways Does your wage increase take inflation into account? It may be time to embrace gig workers. The work experience is key to retention. Make DEI accountability a priority.

The New Workplace FOUR STR ATEGIES FOR HOW GROCERS CAN HIRE AND RE TAIN WORKERS AMID AN UNPRECEDENTED L ABOR L ANDSCAPE. By Gina Acosta o far in this so-called “Great Resignation” economy, grocery retailers have responded to worker shortages by offering “Great Raises,” “Great Bonuses” and “Great Benefits.” None of those seem to be sufficient to attract and keep enough of the right workers in food retail jobs, however. According to the federal government, 600,000 people joined the workforce in November 2021, resulting in a labor force participation rate of 61.8%, the highest level since March 2020, but still depressed compared with the pre-pandemic period. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 67 unemployed workers for every 100 job openings in November 2021. Many of the people who have left the workforce are mostly lower-wage workers seeking jobs that are raising wages and offering flexibility. Many of the other quits are seniors worried about getting sick in a pandemic. While reasons for the labor crunch run the gamut, the numbers are what they are, and seem to indicate that food retailers might not see their hiring struggles structurally improve anytime soon in 2022. According to a poll of unemployed people conducted by the U.S. Chamber

of Commerce in November 2021, fewer than half of U.S. workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic and remain unemployed are actively and consistently looking for work. A December 2021 Glassdoor labor market survey showed that what made hiring difficult this past year is unlikely to disappear in 2022, namely a lingering pandemic, reduced availability of retirees and parents, and massive consumer demand. Meanwhile, Axonify’s annual “Global State of Frontline Work Experience Study” showed in October 2021 that retail workers reported burnout (63%) as being a more important motivating factor for resigning versus compensation (50%), with grocery workers citing 56% burnout. “We already know that the labor pool is at least 5 million people less than before the pandemic,” says Dave Dempsey, CEO of Hyer, an on-demand labor app powering the gig economy, “and it’s going to continue to shrink. The quit rates are the highest in retail, restaurants and hospitality. At the same time, you’ve got inflation. There’s concern with what’s going to happen with wage rates as they bubble up; it’s going to put more pressure on retailers, who will need to have the corresponding revenue growth, and they probably won’t. They’ve had great revenue growth lately, but that’s going to moderate.” At a time when the grocery workforce is experiencing transformative change, there are four key strategies that retailers should be leveraging in 2022 not only to survive the labor crisis, but also to thrive during it. PROGRESSIVE GROCER Januar y 2022



Hiring and Retention Strategies



Redefining ‘Compensation’

How Flexible Can You Be?

Grocery retailers have an opportunity to rethink how work is done, replacing unpredictable schedules, income and work environments with something more attractive. In 2019, Hyer teamed up with Meijer to bring a flexible labor model to the beloved Michigan-based retailer. “They gave us five stores to pilot,” Dempsey says, and were thrilled with the results — which led the rollout of Hyer across Meijer’s 255-store footprint. Giving customers such as Meijer the ability to ramp up labor as needed to satisfy the customer demand and ramp down through slow times, has paid off in big ways. “Using Hyer allows us to provide a better customer experience, a better stocked store — at the lowest price,” says Todd Weer, SVP of stores at Meijer. Today, Hyer has partnered with thousands of outlets across 17 states, including national, regional and local grocers. “Increased wages are going to put more pressure on the structural changes going on right now,” Dempsey says. “It may force companies to rethink their workforce model. They're going to have to look at the labor, a typical job, redefine it and identify what we would call ‘1099 task capabilities’ that you can peel out. And then use labor on demand, use the gig workforce, and you can flex up and down as needed.” Dempsey says that he’s seeing demand for gig work from a wide variety of generations. “It cuts across really the entire population base,” he adds. “The majority is middle Millennials, but it’s also people that are older, in retirement, looking at a couple hours. And it skews a little bit higher on the female side.”

Grocery retailers from The Kroger Co. to Raley’s have been increasing wages across all positions in an effort to attract and retain talent. Inflation has erased at least part of these wage gains, however. According to a study from the Brookings Institution, inflation has risen nearly 8% through November 2021. Over nearly two years, as workers faced a global pandemic, the average wage increase, in real terms, was only 3% through October 2021. Without inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, the average pay increase would have been 10%. “Grocers can no longer increase starting rates by 25 cents in order to attract more people,” asserts Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify, a training and communications solution partner for such retailers as Kroger, Southeastern Grocers, Dollar General and Wakefern. “With so many businesses in the U.S. raising their wages to $15 per hour or more, along with hiring bonuses and low-/no-cost degrees, employers must compete for talent with more than just compensation. You need a competitive wage and benefits package to get them through the door, but it’s the work experience that will keep them for more than a few months.” Employers need to think long term and offer the career and skill development opportunities that employees crave. They also need to ensure that wage bumps are on par with competitors and that those same wage increases are offered to current workers, which is critical to reducing churn.

How the U.S. Labor Pool Is Shrinking 90%

85 Ages 25-54 80



Ages 16+


60 1977 1981 1985 1989 1993 1997 2001 2005 2009 2013 2017 2021 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, labor force participation rates 1977 through November 2021



Hiring and Retention Strategies


‘Does the Job Deserve the Employee?’

In its most recent fiscal quarter, FedEx said that it’s getting a good response from a hiring strategy that includes offering employees an app that provides flexible schedule options (the ability to pick up extra shifts when convenient, or swap shifts with other workers). All companies, and grocers especially, should take these kinds of steps beyond wages and benefits to assess the job experience itself and make the work more attractive to potential employees, Leaman says. “This begins with removing friction that often creates frustration and disengagement,” she adds. “On-demand pay is a great example, as it’s giving employees who often struggle with monthly bills immediate access to their wages.” Other steps include leveraging technology, specifically in the areas of mobile learning and engagement, to make sure that employees can access the training and information they need to solve problems in the flow of work, regardless of how long they’ve been on the job. In the Axonify study, burnout is the No. 1 reason that front-line employees are leaving, reinforcing the idea that employees want a better work experience. “But No. 2 was appreciation,” Leaman notes. “This shows just how important managers are in front-line work. To many employees, the store or department manager are the company, and they rely on these managers to help them through challenging times. Grocers must take care of their managers and make sure they have the tools needed to properly support their team members, instead of always focusing on administrative tasks. Many managers are promoted into their roles because they were great at frontline execution, but this doesn’t mean they have the skills to lead their people. Companies must ensure managers have the training needed to create great work experiences.” Overall, Leaman says, front-line employers must adopt a new mindset if they hope to attract and retain motivated, talented employees. As Leaman puts it: “The question is no longer ‘Does the employee deserve this job?’ Instead, it must become ‘Does the job deserve the employee?’”

You need a competitive wage and benefits package to get [associates] through the door, but it’s the work experience that will keep them for more than a few months.” —Carol Leaman, Axonify


Prioritize DEI

Many of the people who have left the workforce during the pandemic are women. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 3.5 million mothers with school-age children either lost jobs, took leaves of absence or left the labor market altogether in spring 2020, and most haven’t returned. A new report, “Women in the Workplace,” by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., finds that one in three women over the past year had thought about leaving their jobs or “downshifting” their careers. Early in the pandemic, by contrast, the study’s authors say, just one in four women had considered leaving. “Many women were forced to leave their jobs to take care of their families, and remain out of work not by choice, but because schools and day care are not yet reliable enough to make the decision to go back,” Leaman points out. Women are overwhelmingly looking for increased flexibility, career progression opportunities and accountability when it comes to companies’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. During the social unrest in 2020, many companies pledged to improve their processes and work toward a more inclusive workplace, but now, in 2022, women and other groups are expecting to see progress on those pledges. Grocery retailers trying to stay ahead of all of these workforce challenges in the new year should invest in realistic compensation packages, flexible scheduling, a better workplace experience, and expanding career development opportunities for diverse groups. These strategies will help empower grocers to master the 2022 labor crisis. “The current trends are going to continue,” Leaman predicts. “Grocers will be facing cost crunches due to supply chain challenges, inflation and staffing limitations. In a world where customers have ever-increasing options for putting food on the table, companies need to empower their front-line teams to execute next-level customer experiences that bring people back. This means investing in people, from wages and benefits to training and recognition. This also means strategically applying technology to make sure the employee experience keeps pace with the customer experience.” Food retailers like Aldi are actively recruiting workers through appeals to diverse candidates.


You can’t do much about the labor shortage...

...but but you you can get mor more done with the associates you have. How do you keep your associates informed, engaged and ready for anything that happens each shift? Make onboarding fast and focused on just what they need to know to perform confidently on the floor. Reinforce the important information with micro-bursts of learning in the aisles each shift. Keep them in the loop with communications they can’t miss.

Axonify can show you how


Industry Progress

Committing to Make the Entire Industry More Sustainable THE CONSUMER GOODS FORUM PUBLISHES ITS FIRST ANNUAL REPORT TO ACCELER ATE ACTION AND BUILD TRUST. By Marian Zboraj he Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) is the only CEO-led organization that represents both consumer goods manufacturers and retailers globally, bringing together senior leaders from more than 400 organizations across 70 countries. Underlining its commitment to ensure better lives through better business, CGF has published its first annual report, “Collective Action Today, Impact at Scale Tomorrow — Review 2021.” “If we are going to mitigate the greatest risks of the climate crisis and protect the


Key Takeaways The Consumer Goods Forum’s first annual report highlights the work and achievements of its eight specialist coalitions of action. The coalitions have brought together some of the most influential CEOs of world-leading consumer goods companies, including Wegmans and Kroger, to collaborate across borders and overcome barriers to deliver action. The organization strives to offer innovations and industry-wide solutions that can be readily adopted in members’ own operations.

Wai-Chan Chan, managing director of the Consumer Goods Forum, is dedicated to helping member companies ramp up their sustainability efforts.

56th Annual

Reimagining the Marketplace: Embracing Change and Transformation March 22-23, 2022

DeVos Place, Grand Rapids, MI





Former Chairman and CEO PepsiCo

Chairman, President and CEO Hormel

President and CEO SpartanNash

President and CEO Meijer





Senior Vice President, Commerce Omnicom Commerce Group

CEO of and Founder of

President and CEO Food Marketing Institute

Co-CEO Dom’s Kitchen & Market





Author and Motivational Speaker

CEO and Founder Coresight Research

Author and Motivational Speaker

President and CEO KeHe Distributors



Industry Progress health of communities around the world, we need to be our own biggest critics,” says Wai-Chan Chan, managing director of Paris-based CGF. ”That is exactly why we have published our first annual review, committing to rigorous and transparent reporting to accelerate action and build trust.” Created with the support of auditing firm KPMG, the sustainability report details the collaboration of CGF’s members and highlights the work and achievements of its eight specialist coalitions of action. CGF transitioned to these CEO-led coalitions in spring 2020 to encourage more collaboration and to focus on greater impact at scale. By March 2021, the eight coalitions were created: Food Waste, Forest Positive, Food Safety, Healthier Lives, Human Rights, Plastic Waste, Product Data and Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative. In what has been a challenging year, CGF’s first report highlights some of the coalitions’ accomplishments. These include:

markets that can deliver food safely, no matter where in the world the consumer is. The coalition published the first-ever set of benchmarking requirements for food safety auditor Professional Recognition Bodies.

CEOs Take Charge

Overall, the eight coalitions have brought together some of the most influential CEOs of world-leading consumer goods companies to collaborate across borders and overcome barriers to deliver action. For example, the Food Safety coalition is being led at the CGF-board level by Dirk Van de Put, chairman and CEO of Chicago-based Mondelez International, and Danny Wegman, chairman of Rochester, N.Y.based Wegmans Food Markets. Howard Popoola, VP, corporate food technology and regulatory compliance at Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co., was appointed The Plastic Waste Coalition’s launch of the nine “Golden this past May to the post of steering committee coDesign Rules” for packaging, which are now being implemented chair, representing retail members of this coalition. globally to embrace the circular economy and decrease single-use “All our members are committed to finding plastic. The research of the coalition has indisolutions together that have cated that if implemented, the rules will deliver tangible, positive effects on a dramatic reduction in plastic waste into nature people, the planet and busiand a recycling rate increase of more than 30%. ness — and it is heartening to see the many examples of The Collaboration for Healthier Lives this across 2021,” says Chan. Coalition’s coordination of a global “However, as COP26 [the UN response to support vulnerable communiClimate Change Conferties during the pandemic. Actions included ence’s 26th Conference of the improving access to healthier foods and Parties] underlined, we must personal care products, donating food and continue to act with urgency personal care products to food banks and and work towards even more community programs, and working with partambitious targets in 2022, ners that provide essential support locally. scaling up our impact. Our —Wai-Chan Chan, Consumer Goods Forum approaches to achieve this, The Forest Positive Coalition’s launch beyond the work of our coaof its inaugural annual report. The first-time member businesslitions of action, include increasing our reach in Asia, es have aligned on a set of key performance indicators and building on our digital connections, and expanding publicly reported their individual and collective results to take to working with smaller, more localized members — deforestation out of the supply chain. The report was launched encouraging action at every level.” as part of Climate Week in New York in September 2021. In the sustainability report’s foreword, CGF Board Co-Chairs James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The The Human Rights Coalition — Working to End Forced Labor, Coca-Cola Co., and Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO launched on International Human Rights Day in December 2020 of Alibaba Group, write: “As an organization, we are conto bring forced labor to an end and increase transparency in the stantly striving to deliver tangible value to our members supply chain, has committed to a series of steps that will support through the introduction of new innovations and industhe implementation of Priority Industry Principles. try-wide solutions that can be readily adopted in their own operations. One of the key reasons why industry The Food Waste Coalition now publicly reports on its leaders join the CGF is the opportunity to connect, share food surplus and waste data in an aligned approach to benefit experiences and learn from each other. The pandemic communities, economies and the climate. This is part of the coprovided us with a new set of challenges to deliver on alition’s aim to accelerate progress toward Sustainable Developthat promise and ensure that members continue to ment Goal 12.3 to cut per capita food loss in half worldwide. receive value from their participation in the CGF’s work.” According to René Vader, global head of consumer The Coalition of Action on Food Safety, born out of the and retail at KPMG, “The consumer and retail sector Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) in March 2021, aims to may face complex challenges, but a commitment to strengthen and harmonize food safety systems so that collaboration can help overcome barriers to action they’re able to feed the growing global population and develop and enable a better future.”

If we are going to mitigate the greatest risks of the climate crisis and protect the health of communities around the world, we need to be our own biggest critics.”



Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Top This

Grab a Bite

Gluten-free frozen snack and appetizer brand Feel Good Foods has added Danish-style Pancake Bites to its breakfast product line. Available in Buttermilk and Wildberry varieties, the celiac-safe product line is ready in six minutes and easy to eat on the go. The fully cooked fluffy bites are made with a short list of all-natural premium ingredients, including cage-free eggs, and can be eaten as part of a sweet or savory meal. An easy-open 12.7-ounce poly bag of either variety retails for a suggested $6.99.

For those seeking a dairy whipped topping without the sugar, Conagra Brands’ Reddi-wip has debuted Reddi-wip Zero Sugar, a keto-friendly whipped topping that contains zero grams of sugar, zero carbs and just 15 calories per serving. Containing no artificial flavors, the sweet, creamy gluten-free product can be used in coffee and smoothies, or as a topping on fruit, waffles, sundaes, pies and keto desserts. Reddi-wip Zero Sugar contains sucralose in place of regular sugar to maintain the original product’s familiar taste. Like all of the brand’s dairy whipped toppings, Reddi-wip Zero Sugar is made with real cream, not hydrogenated oils. The product, which is not a low-calorie food, is available in both 6.5-ounce and 13-ounce sizes, with suggested retail price ranges of $2.99-$3.29 and $4.79-$5.29, respectively.;

Prime Time

Iconic category leader Bumble Bee Seafoods is evolving its Bumble Bee Prime product line, formerly known as Prime Fillet. The updated high-quality Prime product line encompasses both canned tuna and salmon products, joined by innovative on-the-go snack kits. Designed to provide a portable lunch or snack anywhere, the convenience-oriented Protein on the Run snack kits come in three flavor-infused varieties — Zesty Lemon, Black Pepper and Mild Jalapeño — and feature wild-caught tuna. Each kit offers a 2.7-ounce can of tuna in premium olive oil with an easy-peel lid, savory Partners artisanal crackers, a handy utensil, and a sweet caramel treat to finish the meal, all in a convenient, easily recyclable pop-open box. Each kit delivers 16-17 grams of high-quality protein. Meanwhile, the rest of the line now boasts a sleek look created to better align with the hand-selected premium seafood within the cans. Prime Solid White Albacore in Water features wild-caught premium tuna with just two other simple ingredients, water and sea salt, while Prime Solid White Albacore in Olive Oil combines the benefits of albacore with the goodness of olive oil. Both of these products offer 30-32 grams of protein per serving. The complete Prime canned product line also includes Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water (Low Sodium), Tonno Yellowfin Solid Light Tuna in Olive Oil, and Atlantic Skinless & Boneless Salmon in Water. The suggested retail price for Bumble Bee Prime canned products and for the Protein on the Run kits is $2.99 each.

Where’s the Beef From?

Natural and organic meat brand Applegate Farms LLC has launched The Do Good Dog hot dog, billed as the first nationally available hot dog made with beef raised on verified regenerative U.S. grasslands. Beef for the product comes from SunFed Ranch, in Northern California, and sports the Savory Institute’s Land to Market Seal, the world’s first regenerative sourcing verification. With the introduction of The Do Good Dog, Applegate aims to take regenerative agriculture from niche to norm: Until now, regeneratively sourced beef has mainly been available at farmers’ markets or high-end restaurants. The gluten-free uncured hot dog, which is a good source of protein and contains no added sugar, is currently available at select major retailers and on Amazon, with a suggested retail price of $6.99 per 10-ounce package of six hot dogs.;;




The Year of Emily Mariko E VERY THING THAT GROCERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT 2022 CATEGORY TRENDS IS ON TIK TOK. ’m pretty sure that the founders of Progressive Grocer would never have guessed in 1922 that the No. 1 food trend 100 years later would be leftover salmon and rice in a bowl with some mayonnaise. As PG celebrates its 100th birthday this year, so many things have changed, not just in the past century, but also in the past year, weeks, days and hours, about how we buy and sell groceries. I happened upon one example of this change at my local Trader Joe’s last month: a large display at the front of the store, loaded with bags of roasted seaweed snacks and jasmine rice, and bottles of sriracha sauce, all surrounding a portable freezer filled with frozen salmon. As soon as I saw it, I thought to myself: Emily Mariko. If you don’t know who Emily Mariko is, she’s a 29-year-old California TikToker poised to have a sizable impact on American food culture (and grocery supply chains) in 2022. Just like Americans were captivated by Julia Child in the 1960s and by Rachael Ray in the 2000s, content by vloggers such as Mariko, who teaches viewers how to mash salmon into rice and squirt mayonnaise and sriracha on top in a meticulous zigzag (in a modern and minimalist kitchen), will be captivating the consumer in 2022. After Mariko posted a video in Sep- I’m pretty sure that tember showing how to make a “salm- the founders of on rice bowl,” Google search trends Progressive Grocer for Kewpie brand Japanese mayonnaise — her mayo of choice — qua- would never have drupled. Kewpie mayo, sriracha and guessed in 1922 seaweed started to disappear from gro- that the No. 1 food cery shelves. The last time I checked, trend 100 years later the video had racked up more than 7 would be leftover million views. Mariko herself has more than 8.1 million followers on TikTok salmon and rice in (before the salmon rice bowl video in a bowl with some September, she had 50,000). If you mayonnaise. Google “salmon rice bowl,” there are now several websites, YouTube channels, videos, blogs and recipe pages exploring, analyzing and re-creating Mariko’s concoction, which is just a clever way of using leftover rice and baked salmon with some condiments.

Sticky Trends

Of course, viral food trends are nothing new for social media, but Mariko and the rest of the videos taking TikTok and other platforms by storm are not about cooked food or trendy things people are eating at restaurants. The videos are all about cooking balanced meals at home, which we know is a pandemic trend that’s sticking (and may stick further as long as the Omicron variant surges). 74

When The Kroger Co. reported its third-quarter earnings in December, CEO Rodney McMullen appeared on CNBC to say that “an awful lot of customers learned how to cook [during the pandemic], and they really enjoy it. What they’re telling us is they like to eat healthy and they feel like they can eat healthier by cooking at home. They also like to show off their new skills.” Mariko isn’t the only one showing off her pandemic cooking skills on TikTok, which surpassed Google in 2021 as the world’s most visited website. One vlogger’s baked feta pasta went viral on the social media platform this year, as did dishes such as ricotta toast, air-fried cheese, cotton candy burritos, fried Uncrustables, whipped lemonade, baked oats, chocolate chia pudding, chickpea “tuna,” handheld salads, twisted bacon and something called nature’s cereal, which is just fruit floating in ice water. Perhaps a successful end cap display in 2022 might stock TikTok-viral ingredients, crowned with a “This Week on TikTok” sign? This is the time of year when all of the experts and analysts predict the grocery trends expected to fill shopping carts, both physical and digital. For grocery retailers trying to stay ahead of what’s next in both food and nonfood categories, however, the first stop in 2022 should be TikTok. Gina Acosta Executive Editor










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