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beef &pork experts



The made in America experts With 6 beef and 6 pork plants, 3 case ready plants and 3 value added facilities producing quality fresh meats, we are proud to call America home.

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EXCLUSIVE! MEET THE 2020 CLASS OF TOP WOMEN IN GROCERY WINNING WITH WORKERS Retailers increase their app appeal CPG INNOVATION One-on-one with Bumble Bee CEO Jan Tharp BOARDROOM EQUALITY The next great grocery opportunity

Judi Kletz Procter & Gamble

Susan Morris Albertsons Cos.

This Year’s

TRAILBLAZERS Share Insights and Inspiration

June 2020

Volume 99, Number 6

Wildly Good ! Give your customers what they want — real food that’s healthy, delicious, and sustainable. There’s no end to what’s good about wild-caught seafood from Alaska.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute is your resource for wild seafood — nutrition, merchandising materials, training, recipes and more. Visit

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©2020 BuzzBallz, LLC, Carrollton, TX. Please Enjoy Responsibly.

Contents 06. 20

Volume 99 Issue 6




A Community Comes Together Now more than ever, honorees’ altruism comes to the fore.



Susan Morris

Judi Kletz



Fresh Produce

Elevating the Latina Experience in Corporate America

The Albertsons Cos. exec looks back on a lifetime of achievement in the grocery business.

The Procter & Gamble veteran explains how the CPG industry enabled her to come into her own as a leader.

Cover Illustration by Jason Seiler

Departments 6 EDITOR’S NOTE

Store Experience Will Matter Again




August 2020

Making Healthy Eating More Convenient


Level up the Bakery Space at Breakfast 4

Nonalcoholic Beverages




What’s Next for CPG Brands in Unprecedented Times?

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 773-992-4450 Fax: 773-992-4455


How to be a PostPandemic Grocer

GROCERY GROUP PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672



The future of food retailing requires increased vigilance around food safety and sanitation to deliver a nextgeneration store experience.

MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603 SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Abby Kleckler 773-992-4405 CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Lynn Petrak and Barbara Sax



Salty Wisdom From a Seafood Company CEO

Bumble Bee’s Jan Tharp tells how the iconic brand has surmounted recent setbacks.



REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Tammy Rokowski (SOUTHWEST, MI) 248-514-9500 JUNIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER-GROCERY GROUP Natalie Meehan p 773-992-4410 m 619 823-4926 ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373



Have a Seat


More women are joining the boards of directors at industry corporations.

AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Marie Briganti 914-309-3378



Fall Together

In the wake of a pandemic, what might celebrations look like this autumn?



Candy’s Still Dandy Whatever the circumstances, consumers are always willing to splurge on sweet treats.




Can Meal-Kit Providers Emerge Stronger in 2021? The jury’s still out, but certain signs are encouraging.


Upgrading Employee Engagement Like never before, companies are now using platforms to boost commitment, passion and loyalty.




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). 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 ©2020 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.


Store Experience Will Matter Again here was a time, not all that long ago, when store experience was the hot-button issue for the retail industry. The catch-all phrase was used extensively by retailers to describe elements of physical stores seen as making them desirable places for shoppers to frequent, as opposed to simply visiting a web site. That made for some interesting conversations, as store experience is a pretty vague concept to begin with, and then it’s subject to broad interpretation by retailers, depending on their product assortment and business model. For some retailers, it meant doing a better job with operational basics like ensuring shopping carts and restrooms were clean and functioning properly, shelves were well stocked, and the payment process was fast. Other retailers set a higher bar, especially food retailers. Their store experience agenda included all of the basics, along with an emphasis on improved perimeter department merchandising, which often involved initiatives related to prepared foods, indoor dining areas or full-blown food halls. There was a lot of retail foodservice innovation happening, and it was really blurring the line between where a grocery store ends and where a restaurant begins.

Shoppers will eventually want to return to stores, some sooner than others, and at different rates depending on the region, and experience physical spaces the way they did in January and February. Then COVID-19 happened, and the concept of store experience took on new meaning. Foodservice operations were suspended and shoppers wore masks, navigated one-way aisles and dealt with cashiers through hastily erected clear plastic screens. It was no one’s idea of a desirable store experience. Then the retail industry and the concept of store experience suffered another blow when protests related to the May 25 death of George Floyd turned violent. There was widespread looting in cities across the country, and many retailers were forced to close stores that were already struggling to offer a pleasant experience. 6

The mix of issues, emotions and industry challenges was well described by Brian Dodge, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, on June 1. “There was a feeling in recent weeks that things were headed in the right direction, and that carefully reopening the economy was possible, and that a sense of normalcy was around the corner,” Dodge said. “But the senseless death of George Floyd and the ensuing violence of the last few nights has shattered more than storefronts, it has broken the fragile confidence of a nation already struggling with anxiety, frustration and fear.” Now what? For an industry in turmoil, it can be hard to imagine a time when the operating environment will be virus-free and race-related tensions are less intense. But those days will inevitably come, and when they do, the store experience that has been so greatly diminished throughout March, April, May and now June will matter again. Shoppers will eventually want to return to stores, some sooner than others, and at different rates depending on the region, and experience physical spaces the way they did in January and February. Retailers will continue to offer foodservice innovation and compelling experiences that can’t be replicated through an app and yet another home delivery. I don’t have a degree in human behavior, but who needs one to know that the way humans behaved earlier this year isn’t natural? We don’t do social distancing well or for very long without pushback on the authorities who imposed such restrictions. Humans are social creatures and have been since our ancestors first huddled around a fire or sought shelter in a confined space for protection from predators and the elements. The modern equivalents of those behaviors, being able to attend festivals, sporting events, picnics, tailgate parties and concerts, are things we crave, just as we will once again crave visiting physical stores and enjoying the retail foodservice innovation that was helping to elevate the store experience up until mid-March. Humans are social creatures, always have been, and will be again — hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

Mike Troy Editorial Director, Grocery Group

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National Back to School Month National Brownies at Brunch Month National Catfish Month National Goat Cheese Month

National Panini Month National Sandwich Month National Wellness Month



National Raspberry Cream Pie Day. Showcase this treat in the in-store bakery.


National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. Poll your customers on the best way to eat this frozen treat: dive right in, or remove the top layer first?


National Rice Pudding Day. With raisins or without? Discuss.


National Watermelon Day


National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day. Let shoppers offer their best recipes for this American classic.


National Oyster Day. An online shucking demonstration will show consumers how to do it at home.

National Grab Some Nuts Day


National S’mores Day


National Raspberry Bombe Day. Invite intrepid home cooks to share photographs of their completed masterpieces.


National Julienne Fries Day


National IPA Day. Arrange an after-hours tasting of your staff’s favorite varieties for ticketholders.


National Prosecco Day


Purple Heart Day. Extend a generous discount to our nation’s wounded warriors.


National Frozen Custard Day

National CBD Day


National Filet Mignon Day

National Creamsicle Day. Set up a stand at the store entrance and sell them individually, with the proceeds going to a local kids’ charity.


National Lemon Meringue Pie Day World Honey Bee Day















National Rum Day. Yo ho ho, how many recipes can folks use this sweet spirit in?

National Sponge Cake Day


National Toasted Marshmallow Day. Have families stock up for all those backyard cookouts.


National Nonprofit Day. Select a worthy organization to raise funds for.

National Waffle Day. Cross merchandise waffle makers with all the ingredients necessary to make this treat from scratch anytime.


National Trail Mix Day. Provide bags in the bulk food section for shoppers to create their own blends.

National Fajita Day. Go beyond beef and chicken by having staffers prepare readymade strips — even veggies and alt-meat — for purchase.

National Banana Split Day. Hold an in-store contest to see who can build the best one in the least amount of time.

National Soft Ice Cream Day. Dispense joy from a truck in the parking lot.

National Dog Day. All toys and treats for Fido should be available at a discount.

National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day. Is the inclusion of chocolate too much? Who cares?

National Just Because Day. This is a great occasion for customers to send a “thinking of you” card to a special someone.

National Senior Citizens Day. Make your older shoppers feel appreciated with special activities like a mini health fair, complete with free product samples.

National Red Wine Day National Cherry Turnover Day

Never Bean Better Day. Canned, dried or even frozen, this “musical fruit” can be used in a myriad of ways.

National Chop Suey Day. Instruct shoppers how to prepare this Chinese-American dish in their own kitchens.


Research & Analysis

Level Up the Bakery Space at Breakfast Break out of the expected in the bakery space during breakfast. Driving sales and stimulating interest is all about making easy and approachable upgrades. Switch up and create a novel bakery experience by blending a classic bakery item with a creative flavor twist, or pair an unexpected bakery item with approachable, quintessential flavors. Datassential offers a look at the newest breakfast bakery products making waves, the ubiquitous items that everyone should have their eyes on, and their respective Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC) stages. Source: Datassential MenuTrends 2020 and FLAVOR

Bao MAC stage: Inception — International markets, global independents and fine dining. Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation and presentation. Fluffy, slightly sweet, steamed bao buns feature a variety of fillings that range from savory to sweet. These on-the-go buns shine at breakfast when paired with classic fillings like bacon, eggs and cheddar, resulting in a hand-held meal with endless pairing options. On nearly 2% of U.S. restaurant menus Up 58% over the past four years

Beignet MAC stage: Adoption — Ethnic aisle at supermarkets, casual independents, fast casual. Adoption-stage trends grow their base via lower price points and simpler prep methods. Still differentiated, these trends often feature premium and/or generally authentic ingredients. This deep-fried French dessert continues to gain traction on menus when paired with savory or sweet toppings and inclusions. Classic New Orleans-style beignets are dressed with powdered sugar, but you can add interest to bakery cases with fruit-based toppings, fillings and savory breakfast pairings.

Brioche MAC stage: Proliferation — Proliferation-stage trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal. Often combined with popular applications (on a burger, pasta, etc.). This sweet French bread is making its mark on menus as a decadent gourmet option in such applications as hamburger buns, french toast and a standard loaf. Upgrade breakfast sandwiches with brioche buns, and elevate allday offerings with loaves across the bakery space. On 16% of U.S. restaurant menus

Biscuit MAC stage: Ubiquity — Ubiquity-stage trends have reached maturity, and can be found across all sectors of the food industry. Though often diluted by this point, their inception-stage roots are still recognizable. Biscuits require little by way of introduction. These flaky, buttery breakfast staples continue to appear on menus, thanks to their pairing versatility. Biscuit offerings on menus range from accompaniments for sweet spreads to their never-ending popularity as carriers for breakfast sandwiches. On 14% of U.S. menus

20% of consumers know it/ 11% have tried it Menu Example Wow Bao Egg, Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Bao Bao bun filled with eggs, cheddar and bacon


On 2% of U.S. restaurant menus

Up 44% over the past four years

Up 20% on menus over the past four years

63% of consumers know it/ 48% have tried it

47% of consumers know it/ 30% have tried it

Menu Example Sessions West Coast Deli McSession Smoked bacon, baked eggs, Vermont cheddar and sriracha syrup on toasted brioche

Up 15% over the past four years

Menu Example Dusek’s Board and Beer Ricotta Beignets Ricotta beignets with strawberry cherry jam and toasted almonds

95% of consumers know it/ 91% have tried it Menu Example Wendy’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit Crispy chicken fillet with maple honey butter on a buttermilk biscuit


Shelf Stoppers

Shelf Stoppers


(52 weeks ending April 2, 2016) Fresh Produce

Basket Facts

Total Department Performance Fresh Produce

Latest 52 Wks W/E 3/28/20

Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 3/30/19


Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 3/31/18



Top 5 Household Care Categories by Dollar Sales Apples





$4,000,000,000 3,500,000,000 3,000,000,000

How much is the Consumers chose average American frozen broccoli over alternatives for household a variety of reasons: spending per trip on various fresh produce items 12% because it’s versus the quick and easy year-ago period?



because it tastes great

2,000,000,000 1,500,000,000

Spotlight on Frozen Broccoli




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

0 Latest 52 Wks W/E 3/28/20


Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 3/30/19

Frozen broccoli is most often used in a side dish, followed by as a main entrée. 3% Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 3/31/18


because it’s healthy and nutritious

$4.83 8%

on apples, because down it’s low2.1% in calories, fat and sugar

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 March 28, 2020 OCCASION MEAL ITEM 29% TYPE CLASS 62% 35% 61% Fresh produce sales continue to grow year over year, with annual sales from the end of March up 3.5% compared to a year ago. But how we access and consume things like fruits and vegetables is ripe for change as increasingly more consumers stay confined DINNERspread LUNCH OTHER SIDE DISH Taking MAIN ENTRÉE within their homes to mitigate further of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). limited OTHER shopping trips, consumers may gravitate toward the produce options that offer the longest shelf life. Shoppers may also steer away from anything that may have traveled long distances, choosing to shop local in efforts to mitigate perceived health risks. More than ever, shoppers want to understand the supply chain, with complete transparency from farm to factory to distribution, and they want details of the measures being taken to assure their safety. Promoting a product’s local origins could help companies reassure some consumer concerns.”

$3.61 on asparagus, down 7.6%

—Lauren Fernandes, director of global intelligence, Nielsen

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

$1.82 on carrots, down 2.2%


Gen Xers


The Greatest Generation





Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Feb. 22, 2020


Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending Feb. 22, 2020

Education & Events Sept. 23-26, 2020 Trade Show Hemp Pavilion: Sept. 23-25, 2020 Halls A-F: Sept. 24-26, 2020 Philadelphia, PA USA

NEW LOCATION! Pennsylvania Convention Center | Philadephia, PA la eph hia ia, a P A We know that Expo East—and all events—will be different in 2020, but we are hopeful that we will be able to confidently host our East Coast show in Philadelphia come September, with all the precautions needed to keep the community safe while putting on a successful and productive event. We are working on elevated safety plans and new additions and enhancements that will transform the Expo East experience for retailers, exhibiting brands and others.

Learn more at Questions? Contact us at: 1.866.458.4935 or 1.303.390.1776

By Informa Markets


Global New Products Database

Nonalcoholic Beverages Market Overview

Market growth is from beverages that are positioned for health and/or functionality. Consumers are looking to experiment with new flavor profiles that offer the perception of sweetness without added sugar, syrups or artificial sweeteners. Young adults (under age 35), men and Hispanics are more likely than consumers overall to say that they go out of their way to try new flavors, and they’re also the biggest nonalcoholic beverage drinkers.

Sales of nonalcoholic beverages increased an estimated 12.1% from 2014 to 2019, with total sales reaching $118.7 billion.

For the purposes of this report, Mintel defines nonalcoholic beverages as including the following drink types:


Carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) Juice and juice drinks Bottled water Ready-to-drink (RTD) tea RTD coffee Sports drinks Energy drinks Fusion/hybrid drinks

Key Issues

The nonalcoholic beverage market is not only complex, but also diverse and cluttered with many options. Despite innovation and consumer interest in better-for-you beverages, taste still beats out other important factors like price and health. Consumers’ choice in flavor shifts according to the temperature of the beverage, with many reaching for familiar flavors.


What Does It Mean? The experience that flavor brings is crucial to if and when consumers choose a product, as well as the overall success of the product. Product options tend to follow the pattern of hot beverages being a good vehicle for comforting flavor profiles such as herbal, warm spice or indulgent; meanwhile, refreshing flavors such as citrus and colas are more appropriate for cold beverages. Yet blended flavor profiles can provide crossover appeal to both hot and cold beverages. Aligning with increased consumer consciousness regarding health, preferred flavor choice trends indicate that consumers are prioritizing “fresher” fruit flavors above sweetness. Tapping flavors that consumers are familiar with but that aren’t currently represented heavily in the beverage aisle can capture those who are willing to dabble in flavor exploration. Fruit flavors such as peach, mango, watermelon and blueberry provide a clearly defined flavor expectation, yet a still fairly new beverage experience.

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ALL’S WELLNESS By Molly Hembree

Making Healthy Eating More Convenient GROCERS CAN HELP SHOPPERS MAKE BE T TER FOOD CHOICES BY KEEPING THINGS INE XPENSIVE. hile most of the global economy has seen a dark shadow cast on their businesses amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the grocery industry is instead experiencing record sales, including supermarket giant Kroger’s 30% yearover-year surge in identical-store sales for March, and Albertsons’ 47% identical-sales lift in the four weeks preceding March 28. This heavy reliance on grocers for food and essentials has simultaneously emerged when we may be granted more time to cook at home, but it’s also an opportunity for consumers to strategize how to eat well once life returns to a busier routine. Often, eating for convenience gets entangled with unhealthy food choices. Many consumers can’t discount the notion that if it’s easy and tastes good, it must not be wholesome. Thankfully, there are many offerings to the contrary that not only meet our need for speed, but also our will to eat well.

Hold the Salt

Unfortunately, a longtime nutrition adversary to convenience foods is sodium. Sodium has been identified as a top public health concern due to its negative impact on blood pressure and association with serious conditions like heart disease and stroke. Most Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, when the recommendation is to stay under 2,300 milligrams. Refocus efforts at your stores to offer more lower-sodium convenient packaged and fresh foods. Encourage your chefs to highlight flavors with lemon juice, herbs and spices rather than salt; seek out reduced-sodium meat, pizza and pasta dishes for fresh and frozen cases; and consider placing low-sodium snack alternatives at an end cap near checkout, for quick selection when customers are finalizing their purchases.

Nutrition Throughout the Store

Well-accepted nutritionally dense foods that dietitians hope shoppers gravitate toward year-round include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy/dairy alternatives. It would be prudent to stock simple fresh-cut fruit, chopped fresh vegetables, and fresh meal starters like tomato, lettuce and onion burger fixings in your produce area. The fresh department isn’t the only hub of these ingredients, however; so are the frozen, canned, and packaged food aisles. Healthy options that are also highly accessible include dried fruit like raisins or dates, canned fruit like pear or pineapple bowls, frozen vegetables like mirepoix or broccoli, packaged whole grains like brown rice pouches or oatmeal cups, lean proteins like hummus or nuts, and low-fat dairy/dairy alternatives like string cheese or single-serve soymilks.


Many shoppers understand that higher convenience may come with a higher price tag. With these margins in mind, rather than recreating or sourcing innovative healthy food alternatives, bolster existing convenience product nutrition by adding produce to the mix. Use What You’ve Got

Many shoppers understand that higher convenience may come with a higher price tag. With these margins in mind, rather than recreating or sourcing innovative healthy food alternatives, bolster existing convenience product nutrition by adding produce to the mix. Perhaps a deli sandwich could be enhanced with a side salad for mere cents, shoppers could grab a banana for a breakfast burrito at a promo rate, the circular could advertise a deep discount on pineapple with the purchase of frozen pizza, or digital coupons could offer a free small bag of frozen vegetables with the purchase of a ready-to-eat protein.

Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, is a retail dietitian coordinator for The Kroger Co.



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Elevating the Latina Experience in Corporate America A RESE ARCH STUDY FROM NE W RE VE ALS THE CHALLENGES HISPANIC WOMEN FACE, AND HOW COMPANIES CAN SERVE THEM BE T TER. hen Network of Executive Women published “Advancing All Women,” our initial study regarding the status of women of color in the American workplace, we found that without intervention, the number of women of color in senior positions would drop over the next 10 years. We knew that to continue our mission of advancing all women, a stronger base of research was needed regarding the unique experiences of women of color. I am proud to say that the first study in that series of deeper dives is now available. “A Foot in Two Worlds: Elevating the Latina Experience” discusses the biases that Latina women face, how they might be counteracted, and solutions for corporate business to take better advantage of their unique skills and abilities. Although the Latina community spans many cultures and languages, we found common ground in how they’re perceived by their non-Latinx coworkers, as well as how they want to shape their experience going forward.

Latinas in the Workplace

Among the findings was an interesting clash between the cultural values of Latinas and the stock values of corporate America. We found that Latinas are often raised with collectivist cultural values, where the good of the group is valued over the success of the individual. This can sometimes result in a reluctance to self-promote, and a focus on achieving the best product possible without worrying about personal gain. Study participants noted that this sometimes led to manag-


ers perceiving their Latina employees as unambitious or unassertive. The needed correction here is clear: Their managers must learn to appreciate the powerful potential of these altruistic values, and not overlook these fully qualified women because they don’t conform to the displays of “hunger” for promotion that their primarily white and male superiors expect.

Being Yourself at Work

The Latina women we interviewed cited a number of common experiences. One major takeaway was feeling as if they were being told, “Be yourself at work, as long as it conforms to our mainstream culture.” The attributes that set them apart from their white male counterparts were usually the ones pinpointed as areas for change. Bias was also a major issue cited by our study participants. They described being discriminated against at work simply for having an accent, despite 80% saying they speak English “well” or “very well.” They also discussed “code-switching,” not just in language, but also “from fashion and expressiveness to facial expressions and physical proximity.” Latina women earn 54 cents on the dollar compared with men, and while this discrepancy can also be attributed to a number of other factors, it can’t be denied that these biases clearly have consequences.

We Can Change

Despite sometimes difficult environments, our study found that Latina women also see clear paths to improving workplaces so their unique backgrounds and cultural values are assets to their careers and to their companies. Participants cited a lack of mentors and sponsors for them to work with, and an almost complete lack of sponsors from the same cultural background. By creating

By creating greater diversity in the c-suite, corporations can pave the way for greater inclusivity from the ground up. greater diversity in the c-suite, corporations can pave the way for greater inclusivity from the ground up. This research study lays out concrete strategies for corporations to better support their Latina employees, and to strengthen themselves in the process. The good news? You can read the study in its entirety on the NEW website ( latina?utm_source=Blog&utm_medium=EnsembleIQSABlog&utm_ campaign=Latina%20Research%20Study), completely free. Our study has the potential to guide the future of Latinas in the workplace if businesses take these findings to heart. By not including Latinas fully in corporate life — by letting bias and preconceptions of a broad and varied culture cloud their vision — employers are missing out on the unique contributions

Latinas bring to the table. With high emotional IQs and collectivist values, they can be managers and executives with empathy. To serve women of color, corporate environments must be open to women of color — can any business expect to meet revenue targets for their Latinx audiences without Latinas in the c-suite? Their buying power is on the rise, expected to reach U.S. $1.7 trillion by 2020, according to Statista, and they are looking for products and services that reflect their experiences. If high-potential Latina employees grow disgusted with their environment and start their own businesses, the cost of not including them in corporate life will grow even more dramatic. Diversity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords. They’re just good business — and the right thing to do. Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, a learning and leadership community representing 12,400 members in 22 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at

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2020 Top Women in Grocery

A Community Comes Together Now more than ever, honorees’ altruism comes to the fore. By Bridget Goldschmidt

ver since Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery program began in 2007, community outreach has been one of the main attributes by which candidates are evaluated. The reason for this is simple: Helping less fortunate neighbors is one of the major hallmarks of a well-rounded life, an existence not just about service to one’s job or even to one’s family and friends, but also to the wider world, starting with one’s own backyard. Over the years, as the program grew exponentially, we PG editors were continually inspired by examples of Top Women giving back to their respective communities in myriad ways, somehow finding the time amid flourishing careers and busy home lives to feed the hungry, comfort the sick, shelter the homeless, rebuild destroyed neighborhoods in the wake of disasters, teach and provide role models for underprivileged youth, care for unwanted animals, and so much more. These endeavors have come through programs at their places of work, or on their own initiatives, in either case requiring precious time from their packed schedules. We’ve seen women create their own nonprofits, get their whole teams involved in various charitable efforts, organize massive fundraising events, give their all to vulnerable populations on a regular basis — and still excel at work and nurture their own families every day. In this area especially, the store managers are in the forefront — their direct line to the communities they serve gives them a particular advantage in identifying populations in need of help, and mobilizing to provide assistance. PG has read with awe of the many food, clothing and toy drives; checkout fundraising campaigns; marathons/walks; and other store-sponsored events to benefit local organizations. These efforts not only help the targeted causes, they also strengthen the bonds between the stores and the loyal customers who shop them. In the following pages, you’ll see many examples of selfless giving across all three of our categories — Senior-Level Executives, Rising Stars and Store Managers — which this year contain a total of 350 Top Women spanning the grocery and food industries. The honorees’ sterling community outreach is a reminder that particularly at this time of crisis and uncertainty — but really at any time that anyone, anywhere, is suffering — someone will always be there to light a candle in the darkness. 20


2020 Top Women in Grocery 2020 TRAILBLAZER


usan Morris began her career with Albertsons Cos. the way many top executives do: in stores, taking care of customers on the front line. While still in high school, Morris joined Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons more than 30 years ago, and since then, she has held just about every role imaginable in food retailing. She was named VP of marketing and merchandising in 2012, and then became EVP of eastern operations, and later western operations. Having assumed her current role as EVP/COO in January 2018, Morris oversees a network of more than 2,250 stores in 33 states under 21 banners, as well as 20 manufacturing facilities and 23 distribution centers with 270,000-plus employees. Progressive Grocer: You’ve got a big job, Susan, and we’ll get into details on all of it, but before we do, taking a minute to think back, what was appealing to you about retail as a high school student, and what made you decide to go to work for Albertsons?

PG: Can you elaborate on the time when you realized you were going to make a career in the world of food retailing? SM: I worked in the stores through college, and once

I graduated, I moved back to Denver with plans of going to law school. First, I needed to save money, so I applied for a job at the local division office as a data entry person [a pricer]. I worked for some great people then who helped me learn the basics of the business, which was far more exciting than I realized. Quite frankly, I was hooked after my first six months there. PG: Talk about some of your early influences, who they were and what lessons you learned from them.

Susan Morris: My sister is the reason I started working at

SM: Larry Hansen was the grocery sales manager I

Albertsons. She was there first. I had graduated from high school a semester early and wanted to save money before college. I was already working as a hostess at a local steakhouse when my sister asked me if I wanted to work at her store for the summer. I took the job in the customer service booth and realized I liked the pace of the business, loved interacting with people, and I was super-fast on the ten-key — such an important skill I picked up, adding up all of the coupons and checks that were taken each day. When college started, I transferred to an Albertsons there, and just sort of never left!

worked for when I got my job at the office. Larry is one of the most brilliant and dynamic people I have ever met. He is one of those outside-the-box thinkers, always coming up with new and better ways to sell more groceries, build better plans, and improve upon both the art and the science of the business. My time with Larry was so formative in the way I learned about grocery, and also in how I learned how to navigate the business world. Larry taught me fast, and he was never hesitant to give me more to do — and trust me with more than I knew how to do so that I could grow my skills under his guidance. He trusted me and empowered me. Before I knew it, I was a 23-year-old woman who was negotiating with vendors, writing ads, building display plans, and even taking on new items. As I got older, I was able to look back with deep appreciation for how Larry took me under his wing, never doubted me for a second, and gave me so much trust and support. He just retired last year. I am so thankful to have had him as a lifelong mentor and friend.

PG: What do you remember about those first few days, the work and interacting with customers? SM: It’s funny — my first few days were great. I loved helping

customers; we also had a fun crew at the store. Suzie Webster was my first work friend there; she taught me the ropes, and she is still with our company today! One not-so-fun part of my job then was to call customers who had bounced checks. I would have to try to get them to commit to coming in to make payments. Talk about intimidating: a 16-year-old girl 22

working out payment schedules with adults. It taught me to be very tactful and considerate, and I developed a sense of knowing when to be firm in communicating with others.

I feel the freedom to think and innovate drives growth — and ownership with accountability drives success. You must let everyone on your team try new things and fail forward.” —Susan Morris, Albertsons Cos.

store is clean, well merchandised, has a strong fresh presence, and is lit up by happy employees with big smiles, you can literally feel the energy in a store. There is such power in the pride, passion and ownership of a really great store director! PG: Albertsons is like a lot of companies when it comes to diversifying the ranks of senior leadership. Progress has been made, but the company isn’t where it would like to be. Talk about what’s being done to move the needle on gender diversity, not only among senior leadership, but also at other levels, to ensure that the company has a strong pipeline of female talent. SM: Across all segments of our business, our asso-

© Jason Seiler, 2020

Never once did I feel as if I was treated differently as a woman in a very male-dominated world, thanks to Larry’s leadership. PG: As you mentioned, food retailing has been a maledominated industry. Were there female role models that you looked up to early on? SM: When I took the job at the division office, I was able to

meet some terrific women that I looked up to in the broker and CPG industries — Sue McGowan, currently at Impact Group, is one. I was always so impressed with how she carried herself, even in tough situations. PG: You’ve spent a lot of time in stores and know how they operate. How can you tell if a store is well run when you first enter the building? SM: When you walk in the entryway and see the corners are

clean — even the high ones that no one looks at — the floor is shining, and the carts are stacked in an orderly fashion, you are likely to have a good experience. It gets even better when you walk in a few more steps and see a “wow” display — maybe a pop of seasonally fresh produce, a gorgeous floral setup for a holiday, or maybe just a well-built, attractive display of best-selling items at a great value. Retail is all about detail, and while we may not always register each individual piece, when a

ciates seek to deliver for our customers, our community and our company through their sales and service focus. We seek to celebrate the diversity and inclusiveness of our workforce and focus on improving our communities through sustainability and charitable activities that are an essential part of our business. As we leverage our national scale for efficiencies, we will continue to empower store-level decision-makers to take care of our customers and encourage frontline responsibility. We will also continue to nurture an ownership mindset in our stores and ensure that the interests of those who directly manage our customer relationships on a daily basis are aligned with those of our stockholders. PG: How would you describe your leadership style, and how was it developed? SM: One of my favorite jobs was division president be-

cause it was such a nimble structure. Working together on common goals, achieving great results together and seeing such quick turnaround, with action items quickly translating to results — there is not anything like it. I believe in bringing in the right people to do the job and empowering them and holding them accountable for their results. I feel the freedom to think and innovate drives growth — and ownership with accountability drives success. You must let everyone on your team try new things and fail forward. As my roles have changed, I have learned that what my team needs from me is very similar than before — but slightly different. They are all high-performing, talented executives. What they need from me now is to help align them on common vision and strategy, when it makes sense to act as one across the PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020



Karli Andrew

Simone Appleton

Amber Armstrong

eCommerce Sr. Merchant Own Brands

Interim Director of eCommerce Operations/Store Director

Assistant General Merchandise Sales Manager


Seattle Division

ACME Division

Kandi Armstrong

Alicia Bell

Kendra Benoit

Store Director

Director eCommerce

Store Director

Seattle Division

Eastern Division

Seattle Division

Susan Morris Executive Vice President Chief Operations Officer Albertsons Companies

Teresa Benson

Pauline Berry

Lindsey Boudreaux

Karen Bowlby

Tina Browen

Allie Brusilovsky

Veronica Bykin

Director eCommerce

Sr. Director Consumer & Shopper Insights

Manager Pharmacy Business Development

Director Customer Service Center

Director Marketing

Store Director

Director Information Technology

Southern California Division




Jewel-Osco Division

Denver Division


Minyoung Cha

Hala Corral

Jessica Covaci

Susan Covarrubias

Marissa Crab

Jenny Crandall

Patricia Cressman

Sr. Quality Assurance Manager

Service Deli Sales Manager

Director Pharmacy Compliance

Assistant Grocery Sales Manager

Vice President, Corporate Procurement, GMHBC

Director Front End Operations

Director IT Services


Portland Division


Southern California Division


Southern California Division


Tarsha Cunha

Mandee Day

Pat Dearman

Mirela Dobrescu

Charlene Earl

Jacquie Farquhar

Julie Field

Store Director

Director of Marketing Creative Communications

Own Brands Innovation & Product Mgmt. Manager

Director Merchandising Systems

Plant Manager

Marketing Operations Quality Assurance & Triage

District Manager

Shaw’s Division




Southern California Division


Southern California Division

Kathryn Hanus

Deb Fies

Darlene Freeman

Vien-An Friedel

Jodi Gongora

Elizabeth Guthrie

LaDonna Hale

Vice President Consumer & Shopper Insights

Sr. Manager, Own Brands Innovation & Product Mgmt.

Director, Own Brands Product Development

Director Alaska Distribution

Director, Own Brands Innovation & Product Mgmt.

Vice President Sales & Business Development

Store Director




Seattle Division



Jewel-Osco Division

Tracey Hartford

Adrianna Huteson

Ramiya Iyer

Amy Jankauskis

Sarah Kelley

Sharmin King

Shari Klein

Store Director

Store Director

GVP, Digital and Data Applications

Assistant Sales Manager Deli/Food Service

Assistant Sales Manager Bakery & Starbucks

Loss Prevention Data Analyst

Director Property Mangement

Jewel-Osco Division

Seattle Division


Jewel-Osco Division

Jewel-Osco Division

Denver Division


Veronica Mendoza

Nancy Kubilus

Lubna Lasne

Mariko Lee

Tammy Link

Barbara Lufkin

Rachel McCrorey

Sales and Merchandising Manager, Non Perishable

eCommerce Technical Project Manager

Sales Manager NOSHE/Andronico’s

Bakery Operations Specialist

Store Director

Store Director

Store Director

Shaw’s Division


Northern California Division

Northern California Division

Shaw’s Division

Northern California Division

Portland Division

Angela Moore

Irene Munoz

Rucha Nanavati

Allison Neiderhauser

Jaime Patel

Belynda Pedro

Nikole Powell

Director Shopper Marketing National Events

Store Director

GVP, Retail, Merchandising & Supply Chain Applications

Director Food Safety and Safety

Assistant Sales Manager GMHBC

Sr. Manager Information Technology

North Area Recruiter


Southern Division


Portland Division

Jewel-Osco Division


Jewel-Osco Division

Hannah Raetz

Misty Rains

Darcie Renn

Mediha Rezvic

Sally Robinson

Amber Ross

Kora Rush

Store Director

Store Director

Director Sustainability

Store Director

Sr. Manager Data Governance

Floral Operations Specialist

Director Supply Chain

Portland Division

Jewel-Osco Division


Portland Division


Southern Division


Tina Schmitz

Melissa Seita

Primal Shah

Alura Stewart

Sarah Stolz

Erica Tabler

Tami Tollefson

District Pharmacy Manager

Food Safety/QA Analytics Manager

Director Strategic Sourcing

Center Store Operations Specialist

Manager, Pharmacy Field Services HIV & Speciality Medications

Manager, Front End Operations/ Customer Experience

Vice President Health and Beauty Care

Jewel-Osco Division



Jewel-Osco Division

Jewel-Osco Division

Northern California Division


Mandy Tomlin

Hannah Tovstein

Mary Frances Trucco

Cheryl Whinihan

Shelia Whitiker

Chris Wilcox

Rebecca Young

Chief Financial Officer

Assistant Sales Manager Spirits

Director Public Affairs & Government Relations

Sales Manager Deli-Food Service - Starbucks

Store Director

GVP, Communications & Public Relations

Associate Relations & HR Manager

United Division

Southern California Division

Jewel-Osco Division

Northern California Division

Jewel-Osco Division


Jewel-Osco Division


2020 Top Women in Grocery country. They still need to be held accountable for results, and to adhere to common policies and procedures that strengthen our core. But at the same time, they need freedom and empowerment to bring their unique set of skills to the table, and to build their own plans and innovation. We literally have 2,250 laboratories across the country, and having empowered leaders at every level in our company will lead to better, stronger, faster ideas than one small group of people in one place.

locations, while expanding our long-established home delivery network. We also collaborate with third parties, including Instacart, for rush delivery, as well as with Grubhub and Uber Eats for delivery of our prepared and ready-to-eat offerings. We now offer home delivery services across more than 2,000 of our stores and 12 of the country’s top 15 metropolitan statistical areas by population. The coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased demand for food at home, parPG: How do you strive to inspire others, to instill a spirit ticularly through our e-commerce offerings. of helpfulness and service to the customer that drives As a result, we have accelerated our Drive Up & Go retail success regardless of how shoppers engage with buildout and have made several enhancements to our Albertsons? e-commerce platform that we believe will meaningfully improve the overall customer experience and enable SM: My favorite Joe Albertson quote is, “You have to give cusus to drive growth and market share. These capabilitomers the items they want, at prices they are willing to pay, and ties are further enhanced through targeted technology lots of tender loving care.” In today’s world, that means, more investments and partnerships like the ones we have than ever, you can literally buy groceries almost anywhere, anyannounced with Glympse for location sharing of store time. To win with the customer, you must build deep and lasting pickup and home delivery orders, and Takeoff Techrelationships, and show them you care. To do this, you nologies for automated micro fulfillment must start with your employees. Teams that are ento support our e-commerce efforts. We We literally gaged and feel like they are part of something bigger, also seek to simplify the many food-related have 2,250 that know that their roles matter, are incredible advochoices our customers face daily by offering cates to the customer. We have wonderful people, and laboratories across efficient, comprehensive solutions such as engaging with all of them at every level — a courtesy meal planning, shopping list creation and the country, and clerk in a store, a truck driver in the back room, the prepared foods. mail room clerk at our offices — is critical to creating having empowered and sustaining that sense of team. PG: What have the highlights and leaders at every PG: How has your average workday changed due to the pandemic? SM: Right now, there is no “average workday.” I

level in our company will lead to better, stronger, faster ideas than one small group of people in one place.”

think everyone in our industry wakes up thinking about two things: the safety of their employees and their customers, and how to ensure that we are able to continue to supply food and essential items for the —Susan Morris, communities we serve. I could not be more proud Albertsons Cos. of our store, field, distribution and manufacturing teams, who have literally worked tirelessly for weeks on end. Wearing masks, implementing new health and safety processes quickly, cleaning every surface time and time again — our amazing people have done this diligently since the very beginning of this crisis, and still manage to bring a smile to work. PG: What do you consider to be the most essential keys to food retail success in 2020 and beyond?

challenges been during your tenure at Albertsons?

SM: No. 1 challenge: COVID! High-

lights: promoting people, sharing in their successes and joining these amazing women as we celebrate them for their excellence in grocery!

PG: If you had a teenage daughter going to work as an hourly associate in an Albertsons store today, what advice would you give her as she headed out the door to begin her first day? SM: Be a good listener. Work hard, always be 10

minutes early, have fun, make friends, and remember that someone is trusting you with their money, their company and their reputation. Make them proud — maybe you will run that thing one day.

SM: Offering an easy, exciting and friendly shopping experi-

ence to our customers, no matter where they shop. PG: What one new retail technology or trend do you believe will have the biggest impact in 2020, and why?

PG: You’ve seen a tremendous amount of change during your retail career, and there are many types of jobs today that didn’t exist when you began working in high school. As you look ahead, where do you see the greatest opportunities?

SM: E-commerce. We have continued to enhance our capabil-

ities to meet customer demand for convenience and flexibility. In fiscal 2017, we began to offer our Drive Up & Go curbside pickup service, which is currently available in approximately 650 26

SM: There are so many areas to grow with us,

in stores, in our offices, in IT, HR, supply chain, e-commerce … the list is endless.

Celebrating this generation of women in the industry

Š2020 Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery, Modesto, CA. All rights reserved.

while empowering the next

Learn more at:


2020 Top Women in Grocery 2020 TRAILBLAZER

Judi Kletz


udi Kletz began her career with Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble nearly 35 years ago, serving in three functions — sales, marketing and communications — providing her with a rare combination of experiences and skills unique to the CPG industry. From her first sales position in 1985 to a series of new-to-market roles (integration operations manager, first field marketing manager, pioneer of the field-based communications team), she was quickly promoted to roles of increasing responsibility. Kletz is best known for taking on work with no defined path and creating new capabilities for the company. In 2013, she was promoted to the role of managing director, North America industry affairs, with responsibility for all U.S. trade associations, trade media, industry and sales executive communication. Her team, a matrix model of internal and external resources, leads the strategy, development and implementation of P&G’s industry activation and reputation. Progressive Grocer: Judi, your work history and current title sound pretty overwhelming! Looking back, what was appealing to you about the consumer packaged goods industry, and what made you decide to go to work for Procter & Gamble? Judi Kletz: While certainly overwhelming at times, I view my

current role as full circle in my career. The functions and roles I served in prepared me well for leading our North America industry affairs team. Interestingly, CPG is literally in my blood. My grandfather owned a grocery store in Queens, N.Y. As a little girl, I would sit on his lap, and he would share stories about the customers — now shoppers — who frequented his store, and the brands they purchased. I thought it was fascinating. Fast-forward: I never planned to be part of the CPG world. I majored in economics and accounting, and had already secured a job at one of the top accounting firms. My best friend, whose father was a brand manager at P&G, coaxed me to do an on-campus interview. I accepted the challenge, and I’ve never looked back. PG: What do you remember about those first few days, the work and interacting with customers?


JK: The early days were quite different from the

world in which we operate today. I started in our professional division, selling adult diapers [Attends] to nursing homes. The sales cycle was quite long, six to nine months. While one could argue it was quite different from traditional retail, the reality was, the guiding principles were the same: Establish strong connections with your buyer, articulate the consumer insight, develop a strong selling proposition, reinforce how it works, and ask for the order. The simplicity of the selling process allowed for quick decision-making. It also put the onus of results on the sales rep. There was no place to hide behind data. PG: Can you elaborate on the time when you realized you were going to make a career in the world of consumer packaged goods? JK: When I accepted the job with P&G, I thought to

myself, “This will be a good two-year gig.” Folks had told me if you get through two years at P&G, it’s like getting your MBA — you can go anywhere. Honestly, it was somewhere around that period that I realized I love this work, and I love the people. That sealed it for me. As long as I received challenging opportunities, increased responsibility, and the ability to grow and develop people, I knew I’d be a lifer in CPG. PG: Talk about some of your early influences, who they were and what lessons you learned from them. JK: My early influences involved traditional mentors

as well as business shifts and uncharted opportunities. I’ve been blessed at P&G in having a number of amazing mentors, but the two who had the most profound influence on me and my career are Bryan Stuke and Beverly Grant. Both led huge businesses: VPs of the drug and grocery channels, respectively. What I learned from both of them was simple: 1. Take care of your people, and the business will take care of itself, and 2. It takes courage to make the hard left versus the easy right — by that, I mean stand up for what you believe in and stay true to yourself.

As long as I received challenging opportunities, increased responsibility, and the ability to grow and develop people, I knew I’d be a lifer in CPG.” —Judi Kletz, Procter & Gamble

JK: At P&G, we believe an equal world is a better

© Jason Seiler, 2020

Which builds upon my second point: I learned early on that taking on work with no designated path is not only my passion, but is a business necessity. I was fortunate to be provided opportunities that allowed me to try new approaches, stumble and fall, and get back up again. My dad always told me that “success is defined by the ability to change.” This is not only an important life lesson, but one which is critical to today’s business, now more than ever! PG: Consumer packaged goods was a male-dominated industry when your career began. Were there female role models that you looked up to early on?

world — for everyone. Diversity and inclusion have long been a priority at the company; we understand the importance of understanding and reflecting the diversity of the consumers we serve. A few years ago, we put additional focus on gender equality specifically. We set a goal of 50/50 representation of women and men at every level. And we’ve made strong progress: Women were 44% of our managers globally when we started in 2016, and today that’s 48%. Forty percent of our top leadership team and our board of directors are women. As the world’s largest advertiser, we’ve also made it a priority to use our voice in advertising and media to shine a light on bias and promote equality. The iconic “Always Like A Girl” campaign is one example, and there are many more. I’m proud to work for a company that takes a stand and genuinely wants to create a better, more equal world. PG: Let’s talk about female leadership in CPG. Thinking about your own career, what were some of the challenges you faced? JK: While I’m sure there were issues internally, as a

female leader, I never felt hindered. In a results-oriented company like P&G, I was rewarded for delivering the business. The challenges I faced were more personal work/life balance for my family, preserving that part of myself. Outside of P&G, especially in the early days, I operated in a man’s world. At first, it was quite intimidating. However, I learned over time that my success was the same as it was internally: Deliver the results, and you will excel.

JK: Thankfully, yes. From my earliest days with the company,

there were women leaders at P&G who truly defined a trailblazer. These women broke down barriers that women today cannot even fathom, things like required corporate dress guidelines, maternity leave, flexible benefits — the list goes on. Interestingly, this group — Helayne Angelus, Barbara Hartman, Maria Edelson, to name a few — were the pioneers who helped start the Network of Executive Women. Without their dedication and courage, and the support of P&G leaders, we would not be where we are today as a CPG industry. PG: Procter & Gamble has done a lot to diversify the ranks of leadership. Talk about what’s being done to move the needle even further on gender diversity, not only among senior leadership, but also at other levels, to ensure that the company has a strong pipeline of female talent.

PG: Can you talk about how consumer behavior has changed CPG and grocery in the past five years? JK: The consumer is more savvy, intuitive, and de-

manding of data and transparency. Armed with this information, she carefully evaluates the best options for her and her family. Consumers also increasingly want brands that stand for something or that share their values. If the brand does not deliver on its promise, she is extremely vocal about her experience. More recently, with the pandemic, consumers are more focused on health, hygiene and cleaning, looking for brands they can trust in this space. And they’re shopping in new ways. I think this will PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020



2020 Top Women in Grocery have a long-lasting [effect] on our industry as shopping gets even more convenient for consumers. PG: How has your average workday changed due to the pandemic?

shoppers to safely learn more about brands, stores, trends — evaluate when and how they want to receive them, evaluate and adjust. PG: What have the highlights been during your tenure at Procter & Gamble?

JK: Well, for one thing, I’m not running through an airport to

catch my next flight — my travel prior to the pandemic was about 60%. In addition, my team and I are responsible for the industry’s top-tier events. Our average workday consisted of preparing and activating for these executions on-site. Fortunately, when not traveling, I have always worked from home. While it’s been quite an adjustment to be home office-based 100% of the time, I’m able to continue what was a normal office routine. Like all of us, I’ve adjusted to more conference calls and leveraging new technologies. While challenging at times, it’s been exciting to exercise a new muscle. PG: What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for CPG associated with COVID-19?

JK: Bar none, the No. 1 highlight of my P&G career

is the people. I know that sounds cliché, but if you had told me three-plus decades ago that the people I work with would be some of my closest friends, I would not have believed you. It’s hard to explain unless you are part of the culture, but it’s part of a long-standing belief that our purpose, values and principles (PVPs) are intrinsically intertwined with the people we hire. PG: If you had a teenage daughter going to work at Procter & Gamble today, what advice would you give her as she headed out the door to begin her first day?

JK: These are unprecedented times. At P&G, we put three clear

JK: My two daughters, Alexandra and Elise, are well priorities in place from the start of the pandemic: Keep empast the teenage years, but I’ve imparted the same adployees safe; serve consumers and customers who count on the vice to them throughout their lives. First and foremost, health, hygiene and cleaning benefits of our brands; and support do what you love, and love what you do. We all spend communities and relief agencies. That focus has served us well. a lot of time at work, and you should be certain that Looking further ahead, contrary to what some folks are saythis is where you want to spend your time, and it’s ing, the challenges and opportunities are very simwork that you’re passionate about. ilar pre- and post-COVID. While the supply chain make sure every moment is I learned early oneSecond, issues are amplified — P&G has had their fair share in which you will learn and grow. on that taking As a learner by nature, what’s kept me with overwhelming demand for our paper products like Charmin and Bounty — the post-COVID CPG on work with no at P&G is the insatiable desire to conworld will still need to focus on the consumer first designated path is not sume knowledge that leads to opportuand build our strategies and plans around them. nities to better myself and the business. There will certainly be challenges with social distanc- only my passion, but is Last but not least, your success is ing in stores, contactless delivery, uber-cleanliness, a business necessity.” contingent upon your results. Don’t etc., but the opportunities will remain consistent: —Judi Kletz, Procter & Gamble ever once think that you will move Understand consumers’ needs, and deliver superior ahead because someone likes you. You products and services that delight them. must deliver, and then leverage the relationships you’ve built, to move to roles of increasPG: What do you consider to be the most essential keys ing responsibility that deliver outstanding results. to CPG success in 2020 and beyond? JK: While there are many that are top of mind — superior data,

flawless supply chain, best-in-class brands — the one that is near and dear to me is top talent. In my early years of CPG, top talent was drawn to this industry. As tech emerged and other vectors of business became more dominant, CPG needed to work harder to attract and retain the best talent to continue to lead. Unfortunately, we have fallen behind. We must get back to leading. This is not a choice. CPG is the world’s largest industry, and we must seek out, develop and retain top talent. PG: What one new CPG technology or trend do you believe will have the biggest impact in 2020, and why? JK: I believe contactless purchase/delivery will have the biggest

impact. Still in its infancy, with refinement, this tool will allow 30

PG: You’ve seen a tremendous amount of change during your CPG career and there are many types of jobs today that didn’t exist when you began working. As you look ahead, where do you see the greatest opportunities? JK: The greatest opportunities lie in the things we

cannot see and have yet to experience. The one constant is the consumer: She will guide us to solve an unmet need for her family, create new-to-theworld products and technologies, and do so with data and the transparency she demands. While she will allow us to figure it out and at times even fail, her tolerance may be shorter, given the current global dynamics. We will need to stay close to her and listen to her wants and needs very carefully.

We are proud to honor our Top Women in Grocery 2020 And we applaud the women across our industry who are leading the way. TRAILBLAZER AWARD

Judi Kletz North America Leader Industry Affairs


Tanya Champion

Tina Fanning Senior Account Executive

Account Executive Albertsons


Nadja Hendrix North America Analytics + Insights Leader

Kelli Montgomery Northeast Grocery Senior Customer Supply Chain Leader

Amy Moreno Account Executive, Regional Broker Manager


2020 Top Women in Grocery Christine Bell

Senior-Level Executives

Chief Operations Counsel, Acosta

Handling legal affairs for sales operations in the United States and Canada, and supporting procurement efforts, Bell recently led the implementation of Acosta’s new contract management platform, which required countless hours of coordination with the new vendor and Acosta’s internal teams. She also helped launch a new business model to streamline new-client onboarding and successfully renegotiated several deals that avoided liability for Acosta. Bell is a 2019 winner of Gold and Bronze Chairman’s Awards from Acosta, was named a Florida Rising Star by Super Lawyers, and is a member of the Deercreek Women’s Alliance.

Christy Cates

SVP, Retail Operations, Acosta

Influenced by positive female leaders within the organization and in the region, Cates led retail operations for the Acosta Walmart/Sam’s Club team to deliver on multiple business strategies. She strengthened relationships with existing supplier partners, onboarded new supplier partners, and optimized the retail model to increase in-store coverage and overdeliver on performance results, which were up 10% from the previous year. A five-time recipient of Acosta’s Chairman’s Award in recognition of her accomplishments exemplifying the company’s core values, Cates is a local sponsor for the Network of Executive Women’s (NEW) northwest Arkansas chapter.


Kimberly Field

VP, Albertsons West Hub 2, Acosta

Field ran sales operations across three divisions representing more than a half-billion in dollar sales, with a team of 36 associates. She managed the Acosta/ Albertsons Summit, which drew 75 clients at all levels of management and two dozen Albertsons associates, among them the division president and SVP, resulting in notable sales and share growth. Field received three Chairman’s Awards from Acosta, three Vendor of the Year awards from Albertsons, and a Broker of the Year award from Coca-Cola North America. She is also a committee member for the Olive Crest organization’s Stop Child Abuse Here campaign and involved with City of Hope.

Melissa FulmoreHardwick

VP, IT Enterprise Applications, Acosta

Overseeing a $40 million technology portfolio, Fulmore-Hardwick led a group of 37 to orchestrate the planning, design and architecture of enterprise back-office platforms for the company’s 30,000-plus employees She was at the helm of transformation to a common vertical infrastructure and the migration to a cloud platform, which eliminated more than 75 back-office systems, improved communications between systems and moved more than 18,000 users in an ERP transformation. Fulmore-Hardwick has received Gold and Bronze Chairman’s Awards from Acosta and spoken at the She is Fierce Women’s Conference.


Shauna Bowen EVP, Central Operations, Innovation and E-commerce, Acosta

Responsible for all e-commerce operations, Bowen drove continuous improvement across Acosta’s sales organizations Supporting the organization to deliver $850 million in revenue and $164 million in EBITDA, she was a standout for spearheading new ways of working across prioritized business units, implementing new resource management and planning tools, and boosting the execution of a new retailer-centric operating model by 17%. Active in the community, Bowen is a youth basketball, volleyball and soccer coach, and a program committee member of her local YMCA.

Karmelita Middlemiss

VP Business Intelligence and Marketing, Foodservice, Acosta

Spearheading business intelligence, Collaborative Culinary and creative marketing for Acosta’s foodservice team, Middlemiss led a national group of 40 professionals. She took on responsibility for creative marking and Collaborative Culinary, resulting in the addition of several new clients; expanded growth with existing clients; and developed a process to quantify the value of accounts and drive activities for higher ROI. Middlemiss represents Acosta on the Technomic Foodservice Planning Program as the only broker in the group, and also mentors and advises members of the local chapter of the Network of Executive Women (NEW).


Amanda Vanjaria

VP, Acosta

Responsible for the oversight of the Acosta HBC/ GM business at Southeastern Grocers (SEG), Vanjaria also managed the Campbell’s grocery portfolio at SEG, one of Acosta largest accounts. She developed multiple, repeatable and cross-category key business partnership programs that spurred more than $2 million in incremental sales and grew client brand share in the specialty category by 1.3 share points. A two-time Campbell’s Founder/Merit Award winner and four-time winner of Acosta’s Chairman’s Award, Vanjaria is active in her local church.

Tanya Domier CEO, Advantage Solutions

Domier strategically shaped the future of Advantage Solutions by overseeing headquarters sales, retail merchandising, business intelligence, and a full suite of marketing services to help manufacturers and retailers increase sales and achieve operating efficiencies.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Linda Zurn

VP, Target Team Leader, Acosta

Joining Acosta at the start of the company’s 2019 transformation, Zurn partnered with 75 unique clients to drive profits and growth at Target, guiding a team of 20 sales and analytics professionals to create competitive business plans, and counseled clients on achieving success. She led the Target team to adopt new ways of working together and for clients to continue to deliver exceptional results. An active mentor to young people in the local school system, Zurn also serves on the University of Minnesota’s Honors Program Advisory Board.

Dee Hall

Executive General Manager, Agency, Advantage Solutions/Advantage Customer Experience

With 30 years of industry experience, Hall came to the company in January 2019 to rebuild experiential marketing, multicultural and retail demo agency practices.

Kelly McCarten

SVP, Client Service, Acosta/Mosaic

McCarten managed a $40 million budget across Canada, where she was responsible for more than 20 large CPG and retail clients and ran a retail platform supporting 600 grocery stores.

Lucinda Williams

VP, Client Service, Acosta/Mosaic

As the retail lead for the Canadian retail activation team, Williams worked in all aspects of the CPG and grocery channels and oversaw a complex national program with annual revenue of more than $15 million.

She took on responsibility for the profit and loss for Mosaic Canada, saving $1.2 million in net margin and increasing new business by 6%.

Between April and November 2019, she directed a large team for a major retailer, reaching 99.9% compliance across all program key performance indicators and netting $1.5 million in new program revenue.

McCarten, who won a Bronze Chairman’s Award from Acosta last year, is a board member of MADD Toronto, a member of WISE and the Network of Executive Women (NEW), and a principal at Women’s Club.

A winner of Acosta’s Gold Chairman’s Award, Williams is an active member of the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

Andrea Young

Valerie Bernstein

President, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Customer Experience

EVP, Business Development, Advantage Solutions/Advantage Marketing Partners

At the helm of one of the largest company divisions, Young oversaw more than $300 million in annual revenue.

She steered the company through the expansion of its sales agency, and drove service innovations such as online grocery sampling and a new business helping nonfood vendors create best-in-class special events.

She stabilized the agency collective, recruited top talent, won four new client relationships with Fortune 500 CPG and retail companies, doubled the adult-beverage in-store tasting business and drove double-digit CPG national demo revenue growth.

Continuing seven years of profit growth, she won more new accounts and launched a Retail Strategy and Innovation Center of Excellence to deliver innovative custom solutions for grocery and CPG clients. She also unveiled an e-commerce business vertical in her organization and introduced a platform for brands to schedule sampling events online.

Domier is a member of the board of directors of Nordstrom Inc., Yum! Brands Inc. and Enactus, an international nonprofit promoting entrepreneurship for college students.

Hall received a Gold 2019 Event Marketers’ Ex Award, and served as co-chair for the Association of National Advertisers’ 2020 Brand Activation Marketing Conference.

Young is an active member of the Network of Executive Women (NEW) and Cosmetic Executive Women, and a founding member of the Advantage Diversity and Inclusion Executive Council.

Responsible for business development for the shopper agencies, Bernstein tailored strategies for each client and connected with other company divisions and sister agencies to enhance the overarching commerce story. She recently created an onboarding process for new clients; took the lead on pitch processes for wins with major brands, including Bacardi, AnheuserBusch, Upfield and Tabasco, for $10 million in calendar-year revenue; and rolled out a detailed trade marketing campaign. Bernstein was spotlighted on the company’s website during Women’s History Month and National Women’s Day.




2020 Top Women in Grocery Jennifer Gruber VP Analytics, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Sales

In 2019, Gruber became the insights and analytics lead for business development, directing a team of 12 professionals to unlock growth opportunities. She codified a new process that proved critical in delivering record-setting new business wins, developed a training program on household panel data insights and data visualization that shaped the organization’s analytical culture, and leveraged neighborhood insights to help brands optimize store sales based on both their current and potential mix of shoppers. Gruber is actively involved in a high school hockey organization, where she leads fundraising efforts to defray operational costs.

Nicole Peranick Senior Director, Retail Transformation, Advantage Solutions/Daymon

Peranick launched Daymon’s public relations program to establish the company as the private-brand expert in the industry, delivering 357 million media impressions, including 66 media placements and engagements. She led the creation and authorship of Daymon’s 2019 private-brand intelligence report, “What’s Next in Innovation,” revealing insights that have driven higher levels of engagement with Daymon’s customers, as well as new media exposure to enhance the company’s external visibility. In her spare time, Peranick enjoys mentoring local food startups to help new entrepreneurs navigate the industry and grow their businesses.


Shelly Everett Jacoby SVP, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Sales

Crystal Rossel

VP, Client Services, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Sales

With 28 years of food industry leadership roles, Jacoby fronted the grocery sales team in the Northeast region.

Rossel led consultative business relationships with multinational clients, with company combined sales of about $42 billion.

She helped deliver new client appointments in the past year, delivering more than four times the growth of the prior year; for her efforts, she was recognized by C&S Wholesale Grocers as a top partner.

Promoted in late 2019, she increased her client scope from $15 billion to $42 billion, onboarded two new strategic clients, grew existing client revenue by more than $2 million, and created a new Center of Excellence division.

A member of the Network of Executive Women (NEW), the Northeast Wholesale Distributor Association, the Massachusetts Food Association, and the Frozen and Refrigerated Food Association of New England, Jacoby also serves on a local school board budget committee, and is an active community volunteer.

Molly Hollenkamp

Senior Account Director, Advantage Solutions/ IN Connected Marketing

Hollenkamp is the company’s customer advisor lead and Target expert, working with beauty, grocery and OTC clients to elevate their shopper marketing efforts while positioning them as strategic partners with the retailer. She created a Green Your BTS Routine solution for a client at Target, including four major CPG brands to amplify impact and save money. Onboarding a new project-based client for the agency, she developed strong insights and custom shopper personas and journeys, which led to successful holiday execution at Target and Walmart, and expansion into summer execution.

The recipient of two Business Development Manager of the Year awards, Rossel is involved with the Network of Executive Women (NEW), serves on the board of a high school sporting organization and supports such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and the Boy Scouts.

Maegan Bowe

Senior Director, Sales and Operations, Advantage Solutions/ Interactions

One of 45 associates chosen for the company’s executive development program, Bowe headed up national in-store marketing and activation programs for the customer experience agency, where she drove program strategy, developed new business and oversaw national grocery sampling and special events. As a leader of a 90% female team, she facilitated individual development and advancement, and oversaw one of Interactions’ largest sampling programs for a leading natural and organic retailer, resulting in more than 200,000 vendor-hosted in-store events. Bowe rolled out a national adult beverage sampling program with 7,000 in-store events.


Kathleen Owen VP, Sales, Advantage Solutions/Club Demonstration Services (CDS)

Owen and her team created innovative and impactful demo solutions for Costco and suppliers, including leveraging a tablet in conjunction with demonstrations, and helping members design, create and ship collateral materials to enhance in-store events. By engaging in strategic planning sessions and leveraging analytics to prove the value of nonfood demos, she led her team to achieve a 37% increase in CDS’ pharmacy/health and beauty care business. Owen served as a critical member of the team that achieved 175% growth in CDS’ special-event road show business over the prior year.

Julie Swift

VP, Advantage Solutions/Waypoint

Swift created a marketing dashboard outlining and measuring all activities to provide full visibility in sales and marketing contacts with clients. Recognizing the great need for an action-oriented tool to provide intrinsic value in developing customers’ businesses, she selected a solution that was more expensive than the budget allowed, so she brought in other Advantage Enterprise partners to pay a portion of the total, enabling all to benefit from the powerful resource. Swift was appointed to Advantage Solutions’ inaugural diversity, equity and inclusion board, which has seven members; she has also developed an executive course on the subject for senior leaders at Waypoint.

To everyone who’s been here and helped us plenty, what can we say but…

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holy cow, we’re twenty

For 20 years, Chairman’s Reserve® Meats has provided the best of the best. Today, we are the only brand with a dual protein offering with two quality tiers. When you need a partner you can trust, choose one you’ve trusted for decades. Choose Chairman’s Reserve Premium and Prime beef and pork.

holy cow, we’re twenty

For 20 years, Chairman’s Reserve® Meats has provided the best of the best. Today, we are the only brand with a dual protein offering with two quality tiers. When you need a partner you can trust, choose one you’ve trusted for decades. Choose Chairman’s Reserve Premium and Prime beef and pork.

Thanks to our customers for 20 great years. Here’s to the next 20!

/ /© 2020 Tyson Foods, Inc.

® ™

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Natasha Brinegar

VP, Category Management, Food Lion

Brinegar led a shift in thinking among category management teams to better align with the strategic focus of Food Lion’s click-and-collect grocery pickup service. The move strengthened the company’s omnichannel position. She was instrumental in solidifying a partnership with the shopper marketing team to identify opportunities for business growth, a strategy that helped identify and develop several innovative initiatives and fuel Food Lion’s industry-leading growth. Brinegar serves on Food Lion’s Diversity Council and on the board of directors for Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation, which supports a variety of hunger-relief initiatives.

Marissa Crab VP, Corporate Procurement, GMHBC, Albertsons Cos.

Crab managed best practices and performances across the company’s distribution network of eight teams of buyers and a corporate seasonal buying team, and was also a supply chain VP lead for a key strategic project. She helped enhance store reset processes, renegotiated several multimillion-dollar agreements, created the company’s first true demand-planning team, and supported the conversion of a major GMHBC distribution center, with little impact to store service. Crab is a communications officer for the Idaho Network of Executive Women (NEW) and serves on the board of the Albertsons Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Dyani Hanrahan VP Marketing, Giant Food

Hanrahan guided development of the brand’s first healthy-living strategy for its store in Ward 8, a community in Washington D.C., that faces tremendous economic and health-related challenges. Partnering with nonprofits in the area, she worked to address access to food, knowledge of nutritious food offerings, affordability of healthy food, and community engagement. She worked with multiple internal and external partners over the past year to successfully launch a new loyalty program. Hanrahan serves as a Capital Area Food Bank awareness council member, developing strong marketing and communication strategies to grow funding and community support.

Deb Fifles

VP, Consumer and Shopper Insights, Albertsons Cos.

Directing the development, execution, analysis and socialization of primary research and insights, Fifles seeks to understand consumer drivers and help validate the company’s strategic consumer-based objectives. She led her team to deliver more than 100 insight projects. Based on insights, they developed a 2020 planning guide; identified new growth opportunities, including for fresh products; and created three shopper modules for a merchandising training program. Featured in the 2018 and 2019 editions of “Who’s Who in Insights and Analytics,” Fifles volunteers in her community for a local cause walk.

Tonya Herring

SVP Merchandising, Giant Food

Herring drove the best results that Giant Food has seen in 10 years through her innovative and consumer-centric approach to the business. She empowered her teams to innovate, test, evaluate and adjust for success. As the executive leader for the launch of Giant Food’s first Corporate Counsel Business Resource Group, she focused on engaging this diverse organization to establish bonds and find opportunities to share achievements and experience. Herring leads a mentoring circle of seven women ranging from VPs to directors to managers, helping them navigate their careers, and supports such local charities as Wardrobe for Opportunity.

LaDonna Hale

Tara Ponnett

VP Sourcing Services, Retail Business Services

Ponnett built a strategy to improve performance and bench strength across ourcing services to achieve aggressive financial targets for 2019; this included a build-and-buy strategy to fill two director roles on her team in the sourcing support and national brand areas. She enhanced fresh and consumer packaged goods business-planning partnerships, initiated a wine-sourcing program, and drove significant fuel partnership expansion. A mentor and advocate through the Network of Executive Women (NEW), Ponnett also volunteers with the RBS Cares associate-giving platform and other community organizations, including a food bank and Ronald McDonald House.

Ramiya Iyer

VP, Sales and Business Development, Albertsons Cos.

Group VP, Digital and Data Applications, Albertsons Cos.

Hale oversees a group responsible for sales of around $1 billion in 20 manufacturing facilities. She transitioned her team to deploy market, category and consumer trend data for action-based selling insights, and introduced a targeted approach to filling open capacity in facilities to drive costs down for internal and external customers. Hale is a planning committee member for the Dairy Multi Stakeholder Initiative, the Dairy Sustainability Alliance and the Grain Foods Foundation, and an industry representative for MilkPEP, as well as being a key supporter of organizations that help eliminate hunger and homelessness in the community.

Iyer led the technology platforms for all digital channels as well as all of the enterprise data platforms at Albertsons, overseeing an operating and capital budget of approximately $100 million a year. She headed the redesign and implementation of all Albertsons digital properties, increasing customer engagement by double digits in the markets where the projects were deployed; took on the responsibility of designing and executing a data reservoir in the cloud; and spearheaded a frictionless online experience at company fuel stations. Iyer serves on the Technology Advisory Committee for Foster City, Calif., and is events coordinator for Cub Scout Pack 447.




2020 Top Women in Grocery Rucha Nanavati Group VP, IT, Albertsons Cos.

Nanavati led the IT organization, with responsibility for technology used at retail stores, as well as for merchandising and marketing, supply chain, manufacturing, and data management. She played an integral role in the strategy, selection and implementation of Blue Yonder’s Luminate Demand solutions; the results and value realized under her leadership of the project caused an acceleration in adding categories and locations, with a revamped rollout strategy for all stores and distribution centers across all banners. A board director of the Albertsons Cos. Foundation, Nanavati led keynote sessions at Blue Yonder’s user conference, ICON.

Kendall Antonelli

President and Co-founder, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop

Antonelli led strategic initiatives and forged partnerships that helped her business make a huge impact for a small company. Antonelli sharpened the focus on how the company reviews potential vendors to ensure that its values align with those of its producer partners. She works with the Good Food Merchants Alliance, an organization that generates awareness of food brands focused on social responsibility. The company philanthropic giving program that Antonelli developed received the Charitable Champion award from the Austin Gives initiative; she’s also been honored for her commitment to the regional food system.


Tami Tollefson VP, Health and Beauty Care, Albertsons Cos.

Tollefson was part of the GMHBC leadership team that executed a strategy to restore growth in both sales and unit velocity while delivering gross margin dollars and improving market share; her leadership was imperative to the success that the company enjoyed. Under her guidance, the beauty care team implemented an innovative summer skin care program that delivered positive units, sales and market share growth. Named a 2019 Top Woman in Health, Wellness and Beauty by PG sister publication Drug Store News, Tollefson led the reinvention of the company’s Baby Club, leveraging Albertsons’ robust consumer and digital insights to connect better with shoppers.

Lawren Askinosie

Chief Marketing Officer, Askinosie Chocolate

Askinosie helped shape the craft chocolate landscape through her farmer-forward storytelling and vision of empowerment for female cocoa farmers, and girls in cocoa communities. Her focus on women in cocoa production led the company to be the first chocolate maker to work directly with a woman-led farmer group, setting the standard for ethical chocolate across the globe. Through the company’s Chocolate University Foundation, Askinosie raised thousands of dollars for a feminine hygiene program that provides girls in Tanzania with underwear, soap and pads to ensure that they don’t have to miss school.

Chris Wilcox

Group VP, Communications and Public Relations, Albertsons Cos.

Wilcox led the development and execution of internal communication and public relations strategies that supported Albertsons’ operations, sales, marketing and merchandising efforts for more than 2,200 stores and 1,700-plus in-store pharmacies. She was at the center of a company-wide effort to articulate Albertsons’ culture in a way that improves the employee experience and retention. Wilcox received the Tribute to Women and Industry (TWIN) award from the Women’s and Children’s Alliance in Boise, Idaho, for excelling in her field and making significant contributions to her industry.

Lisa Fecera Gifford

Director of Retail Sales, Blount Fine Foods

Gifford helped drive trial and adoption of premium soup brands with special offers and in-store promotions. She championed an upgrade of in-store hot-to-go sections to include better food options and more attractive merchandising, and educated retailers about the effectiveness of promoting hot soup through creative in-store promotions, including a Soup of the Month program and incentives for combo purchases. A valued resource for Blount’s culinary and R&D teams, she is the go-to source for marketplace trend information and innovation. Gifford volunteers at Children’s Home of Reading and works on the organization’s holiday gift and toy drive.


Mandy Tomlin CFO, Albertsons Cos./United

Playing a critical role in designing financial metrics for new business opportunities, Tomlin created models for the company’s first floral design center, which helped locations share labor and grow the business, and created metrics for the company’s inaugural high-end stand-alone restaurant and first food truck. As a member of the company task force focused on innovation, she has identified opportunities to reduce expenses and increase working capital through effective cash use. Tomlin is a founding member of the United We Care board, a nonprofit that provides financial relief to United Family team members in crisis.

Merrilee Kick

Founder/CEO, BuzzBallz/Southern Champion LLC

The CEO of the only woman-owned combined winery and distillery in the country, Kick spearheaded the company’s overall business strategy and propelled BuzzBallz to become the leader in the ready-to-drink cocktail category, with $45 million in sales. She was Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the southwest region, and a top 10 finalist for the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Woman Business Owner of the Year. Kick’s new product, BuzzTallz, was voted Spiked Beverage Product of the Year by 40,000 consumers, and won a Hottest Growth Brand award from the Beverage Information Group.

SUCCESS BEGINS WITH STRONG LEADERSHIP. Sounds like SpartanNash. Congratulations to our 11 amazing associates who are being recognized as 2020 Top Women in Grocery. We are grateful for your vision and leadership.

Rising Stars

Store Managers

Christina Drew, Director, Merchandising and Marketing Insights and Analytics

Amy Berry, Store Director, Family Fare

Carol Eckstein, Regional Director, HR Kimberly Jackson, Director, National Accounts Amanda James, HR Business Partner, Retail Alisha Tarrance, Manager, Merchandise Planning Ronette Malone, Director, Business Development, MDV

Donna Bierbaum, Store Director, Martin’s Super Markets

Senior-Level Executives Yvonne Trupiano, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer Tammy Hurley, VP, Finance and Chief Accounting Officer Rene Hunter, VP, Finance and Business Development, MDV


2020 Top Women in Grocery Thao Pham

SVP, Community and Social Equity, Clif Bar & Co.

Pham introduced new and grew existing programs that raised the profile of Clif Bar philanthropic efforts and impact. In Good Company — a handson employee volunteer program — recruited dozens of employees outside of Clif Bar to spend time giving back to underserved communities. She initiated an economic study of cacao bean farmers to help improve their lives while making the company’s supply chains more sustainable. Under Pham’s dedicated direction, The Clif Bar Family Foundation funded nearly 550 groups for a total of $4 million, with 65% of grantees receiving multiyear funding for sustained growth and progress.

Jo’el Ellis

Director of Trade and Brand Marketing, DeCecco USA

Ellis introduced DeCecco’s first new product line in 10 years. Working through a disconnected corporate European structure in Italy, she was the driving force behind the launch of a uniquely American product line in the United States for the first time in the company’s history — a testament to her perserverance and ability to bring people together to achieve a great vision. Her contributions delivered $12 million in new business to the company in 2019. Ellis also united dysfunctional groups that had previously worked independently into cohesive teams that now communicate on all levels, from retail stores to the c-suite.


Sarah Ballou

VP, Worldwide Military, The Coca-Cola Co.

Ballou overdelivered her team’s full-year growth plan by $1 million in revenue and increased sparkling share in the military grocery channel to an all-time high. She was integral in the production of the Black History Month/ Tell Us Your Service Story 2019 program, featuring Tuskegee Airman Major Charles B. Hall, and in the 2020 shopper marketing program that features archived images of women in the military. Ballou secured national support for The Coca-Cola Co.’s Grand Challenge, a crowdfunding think-tank competition for the best ideas that the company will fund; she also finds time to mentor active-duty military members and spouses.

Linda Nordgren Proprietor, CEO and President, Encore Associates

By developing new partnerships in Asia, Nordgren expanded the strategic scope and financial success of Encore to a global sourcing and private label company, and sourced more than 2,000 new items. She hired a team of successful, strong female leaders, adding women to leadership positions in finance and category management, and delivered double-digit sales growth to retail customers. Nordgren volunteered in Seattle at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and in London at the Center for Global Development, and worked with health ministers from around the world on global procurement best practices to help control infectious diseases.

Melissa Pulliam

Global Director, National Retail Sales, The Coca-Cola Co.

Pulliam partnered with Costco, the Coca-Cola team in China and Shanghai Shenmei Coca-Cola as Costco opened its first location in China, helping deliver Coca-Cola product sales that outpaced the target volume.


Katherine Fuller VP/General Manager, Client Development, Crossmark

Fuller successfully negotiated price increases for several clients, which resulted in the overdelivery of profit margin.

As the lead for the Coca-Cola Costco fountain proposal, she worked with The Coca-Cola Co. and bottling partner teams in 12 countries, navigating multiple languages and currencies to develop and build an overall global fountain proposal.

She expanded Crossmark’s relationship with Bed Bath & Beyond, working internally to ensure that the client and operations team delivered on its commitments; the drive led to Crossmark winning all category resets for the retailer — an incremental $2 million in revenue. She also negotiated a higher hourly rate for new stores and remodels.

Last year, Pulliam served as a mentor with American Corporate Partners, coaching a female U.S. Army captain through her exit from the military and application to top-tier MBA programs.

Fuller worked with InComm on a holiday program specific to CVS that provided incentives to reps to drive them to identify which gift cards should be merchandised in particular stores.

Leslie Sarasin President and CEO, FMI-The Food Industry Association

Sarasin designed a far-reaching plan that positions FMI to meet new industry challenges. By aligning membership strategy to the new retail marketplace, the organization created a new product supplier membership category, which resulted in seven new supplier members and deeper participation opportunities for FMI’s associate members. Her industry research and member interviews led to FMI’s rebranding and new identity. Sarasin led FMI’s participation in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court victory protecting retailer and shopper privacy, and creating a precedent that will extend beyond store-level SNAP sales.

Tina Morascyzk VP of Supermarket Strategy, Giant Eagle

Morascyzk tapped her background in real estate, design, construction, retail and finance, along with her superior consensus-building skills, to develop a comprehensive store-by-store strategy for the entire chain. In a market that faced competition from a big-box store, Morascyzk led a speedy supermarket conversion of one location to a Market District concept store — a move that greatly mitigated the impact of the new competition. Morascyzk worked with leadership at the University of Pittsburgh to secure Giant Eagle as the exclusive wholesale grocery supplier on campus, and helped create a prepared food program sold at 20 campus locations.


Kellen Stailey Martin VP, Marketing, Grimmway Enterprises Inc.

Martin launched Grimmway Farms’ 50th anniversary campaign to build corporate morale and boost business-to-business engagement, partnering with media agencies to develop a company story video, creating an interactive social media campaign, and planning related events for employees and customers. She debuted the new Grimmway Farms website for carrot consumers that highlights nutritional facts, recipe ideas and sustainability practices. The consumer research studies conducted by Martin had a positive impact on marketing, sales and product development strategies and tactics.

Katie Hotze

Founder and CEO, Grocery Shopii

Hotze created a unique design for a tech offering in the grocery space that allows shoppers to use recipes to fill their carts online and source those ingredients directly from their local grocer’s shelves; the endeavor won Best Technology Application in Progressive Grocer’s Total Meal Solutions contest. She helped Grocery Shopii earn an Inno On Fire award from America Inno for shaping the company’s unique approach to solving the 74% cart abandonment rate that plagues online grocery shopping. A frequent speaker on digital marketing topics at the American Marketing Association, Hotze also volunteers for Girls Who Code and at a soup kitchen.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Pamela Burke

Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel, Grocery Outlet

Burke played a pivotal role in the company’s growth and its transition from a private company to a publicly traded entity. After Grocery Outlet’s initial public offering, she assumed substantial responsibilities, including the legal function, safety, internal audit, risk and human resources, overseeing the management of everything from store leasing and inventory to insurance and audit. Burke helped launch the company’s Working with Outstanding Women Network, an internal group at Grocery Outlet that taps into mentorship opportunities to attract, amplify and advance women at the company.

Karin Humanik Director of Specialty Food, Harris Teeter

Humanik oversaw numerous corporate project initiatives when coordination of multiple departments was needed. Under her leadership, specialty and natural sales grew 10.2%, outpacing total store growth and previous year’s growth. She also increased the HT Home Town Local Products Campaign to add 13 new vendors, grow sales 37% and boost social targeted impressions to 44.5 million. Humanik worked with a third-party vendor to showcase health-and-wellness attributes on product shelf tags and digital. She also led the Nonperishables Tag Reduction Taskforce, which was responsible for a 27.9% reduction in tags.

Lindsay Gray

Layla Kasha

VP, Corporate Controller, Grocery Outlet

SVP Marketing and Communication, Grocery Outlet

Gray was a key member of the leadership team that executed Grocery Outlet’s initial public offering (IPO). She led the IPO finance function, including the oversight of an accelerated year-end audit during the IPO ramp-up, and also restructured external financial statements and footnotes.

Kasha led the creation and execution of Grocery Outlet’s 2019 Bargain Bliss campaign, which touched all aspects of the company’s brand. The goal of the brand-forward campaign was to clearly communicate Grocery Outlet’s personality and mission while attracting new customers.

She helped launch the company’s Working with Outstanding Women Network, an internal group enabling women to develop valuable skills to advance in the workplace.

She headed the update of in-store sections with contemporized fun signage and new Bargain Bliss design elements as part of the total store rebranding.

In 2019, Gray was the recipient of the Jim Read award, Grocery Outlet’s award of excellence given to those who exemplify the company’s values.

Rory Snavely

Kasha’s impact extended to outdoor bulletins and truck wraps that showcased Bargain Bliss messaging, and television and radio advertisements that promoted the new campaign.

Kristine Jones

Director of Procurement, Harris Teeter

VP, Employee Benefits, Hy-Vee Inc.

Leading a team procuring more than 33,000 items and maintaining a weekly inventory level of $130 million, Snaevely reduced SKU counts by 3% and increased warehouse capacity by 3%, increased the overall inbound service level, and improved vendor supply chain relations.

Jones is charged with providing the best benefits for Hy-Vee’s more than 22,000 full-time employees, which led to her overseeing a plan with more than $200 million in assets and a staff of six.

Her plan to store “hurricane water” so that all stores can stay in stock worked during Hurricane Dorian, as they shipped 1.2 million-plus cases. Snavely is a board member for Classroom Central, a member of the Frozen & Refrigerated Food Council and the Carolina Food Industry Council, and involved in various nonprofits.

She developed a contract that provides employees with digital, 24/7 access to mental health professionals, with zero co-pay, and expanded employee access to Tier 1 health care providers and hospitals. More than $1 million was returned to Hy-Vee employees who participated in the company’s benefits plan, in the form of free health insurance premiums for the last month of the calendar year, because of Jones’ leadership and management.




2020 Top Women in Grocery Jody Sandy

VP, Transportation, Hy-Vee Inc.

Sandy oversees all transportation fleet activities for Hy-Vee, including the equipment, warehouses and stores, in a position created specifically for her to bring all of these assets together for increased efficiency and profitability. She led the rollout of automatic on-board recording device units to transmit real-time data to authorized safety officials, and oversaw a warehouse management system conversion. Sandy’s successful grant application to the state of Iowa resulted in $148,000 to purchase a new electric yard tractor for use at one of Hy-Vee’s warehouses to move trailers around the yard.

Rachael Hadaway

SVP, Product and Design, The Kroger Co./84.51

Planning and developing a complete reset of legacy products, Hadaway relaunched two core platform products to market, Stratum and Prism, and brought together all teams for this transition. She led a new go-to-market approach for delivery to Kroger, and the first deployment of this via price science as a service; implemented California Consumer Privacy Act procedures; and developed a core capabilities team for user experience. Hadaway is an active diversity and inclusion council member, sits on the advisory board for Women of Cincy and presents at multiple conferences.


Angela Waltz Group VP, Restaurant Development, Hy-Vee Inc.

Waltz has been at the forefront of building and maintaining Hy-Vee’s relationship with the Wahlburgers brand, which is quickly expanding to replace the existing restaurant concepts at all Hy-Vee locations. She led the charge in developing and launching a brand-new menu exclusive only to Hy-Veeowned Wahlburgers, featuring more than 40 items and garnering overwhelmingly positive feedback. Hy-Vee selected Waltz as one of 18 outstanding employees to receive the Chairman’s Above and Beyond Award for exceptional performance.

Cara Pratt

VP, Communications Consulting, The Kroger Co./84.51

Pratt is a driving force behind Kroger Precision Marketing, which more than doubled in size by establishing new channels for brands to connect with customers, renegotiating agreements with strategic partners and driving the industry to think differently about media. She restructured the team and led change management within Kroger senior leadership to align merchandising, digital, marketing, engineering and finance resources. A noted retail media expert, Pratt has led change on a national level at conferences and meetings with CMOs for the largest U.S. CPG companies.

Alison Nelson

SVP, Sales, Insignia Systems


Stacy Kwon CEO, JFE Franchising

From a sales perspective, Nelson partnered with clients to build impactful and profitable campaigns, finishing 2019 as Insignia’s top sales representative, exceeding her sales target at 114% to quota and 31% of the company’s sales.

Kwon spearheade the merger of four global powerhouse companies within the sushi field, and JFE now has a presence in more than 35 states, with 900 sushi locations in supermarkets as well as such other locations as universities.

In 2019, she was promoted to lead the sales organization and had to shift processes and quota plans to set the team up for success, which she did.

In the past year, she orchestrated the opening of 120 retail sushi locations in Weis Markets that equates to $10 million in business sales volume, and achieved a milestone of $200 million in total company sales.

Honored by Progressive Grocer as one of 25 recipients of the publication’s GenNext Award in 2019, Nelson is the communication chair for the Twin Cities chapter of the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

Erin Dyer

VP of Operations, The Kroger Co./ Columbus Division

As VP of friendly and experience, Dyer led her front end team to a reduction in wait times; increased self-checkout use, resulting in savings of more than $2 million; and improved the fill rate on e-commerce orders. Her implementation of the Right to Win strategy resulted in market share and customer count growth at 28 targeted stores. Dyer worked directly on a succession plan for store leaders, serves as an associate mentor and is the co-chair of the Young Professional Resource Group at Kroger. Under her careful guidance, 33 assistant store leaders at the company were promoted to store leaders.

To give back, for every location opened, Kwon provides enough money for a child with a cleft lip to have surgery performed through Smile Train.

Tameka Carr

Director, Corporate Food Technology, Product Development and Quality, The Kroger Co./ Manufacturing

Carr oversaw all technical, scientific and regulatory aspects of product design and development for Kroger’s $23 billion private label branded portfolios. She spearheaded a cross-functional team and provided strategic direction to improve and document the product development process, driving efficiency for more than 150 associates while launching 1,330 total products. Outside of work, Carr is making a significant impact in her community as the chairwoman of the AIBI-CS board of directors and a member of the Urban League Leader Institute in her region.


Your Leadership and Innovation Inspire and Strengthen Us

Stephanie Benson

Valerie Bernstein

Maegan Bowe

Kelsey George

Jennifer Gruber

Advantage Sales

Advantage Marketing Partners



Advantage Sales

Dee Hall

Molly Hollenkamp

Shelly Jacoby

Sharri Johnson

Stephanie Kryger

Advantage Customer Experience

IN Connected Marketing

Advantage Sales

R2 Solutions

Advantage Sales

Lauren Lamaestra

Victoria McQuarrie

Sarah Moffett

Kathleen Owen

Nicole Peranick


Advantage Sales




Crystal Rossel

Kelly Silence

Julie Swift

Mona Szumlas

Leah Taylor

Advantage Sales



Advantage Sales

Advantage Customer Experience

Sheri van der Voort

Renee Watts

Andrea Young


Advantage Sales

Advantage Customer Experience

Congratulations to our Top Women in Grocery! Thank you for your dedication to The Kroger Co. and the communities we serve.

Melissa Barr Supply Chain

Tameka Carr Manufacturing

Erin Dyer Columbus Operations

Allison Garcia Marketing

Rachael Hadaway 84.51°

Senior-level Executive

Senior-level Executive

Senior-level Executive

Senior-level Executive

Senior-level Executive

Cara Pratt 84.51°

Technology & Digital Senior-level Executive

Jordan Kremm Merchandising

Kate Meyer Merchandising

Senior-level Executive

Senior-level Executive

Mandy Rassi Marketing

Megan Shaffer Retail Operations

Senior-level Executive

Senior-level Executive

Anna McWaters Atlanta Store Leader

Kathie Nance-Askey Atlanta Store Leader

Evelyn Miller Cincinnati/Dayton Store Leader

Meaghen Sorrell Cincinnati/Dayton Store Leader

Shelby Hettinger Columbus Store Leader

Michelle Smolenski Columbus Store Leader

Buffy Starkey Dillons Store Leader

Anna Graham Food 4 Less Store Leader

Cindy Hemphill Nashville Store Leader

Holly Lorenzana Ralphs Store Leader

Vanessa Muller Smith’s Store Leader

Jody Kalmbach

Amy Hysmith Houston Store Leader

Andrea Gunkler Louisville Store Leader

Paaras Parker Technology & Digital Senior-level Executive

Senior-level Executive

Nina Lerner 84.51° Rising Star

Michelle Morrisey Atlanta Rising Star

Stacey Robinson Atlanta Rising Star

Marie Pettijohn Cincinnati/Dayton Rising Star

Tracy Wilczynski Columbus Rising Star

Shannon Winrow Columbus Rising Star

Andrea Martinez Dallas Rising Star

Amanda Martin Delta Rising Star

Misty Cavanaugh Dillons Rising Star

Chelsea Cubero Fred Meyer Rising Star

Brenda Roeter Fred Meyer Rising Star

Angela Cavazos Fry’s Rising Star

J.J. Mattison Fry’s Rising Star

Marilyn Lema Houston Rising Star

Diana Victoriano Human Resources Rising Star

Holly Adrien Merchandising Rising Star

Becky Diaz Merchandising Rising Star

Katy Greiner Merchandising Rising Star

Ban George Michigan Rising Star

Stephanie Spangler-Opdyke Michigan Rising Star

Sabrina Powell Nashville Rising Star

Ann Fedder Roundy’s/Mariano’s Rising Star

Stacy Doyle Roundy’s/Mariano’s Rising Star

Technology & Digital

Jo Anne Dibble Rising Star


2020 Top Women in Grocery Mandy Rassi

VP, Marketing, The Kroger Co./ Marketing

Rassi spearheaded Kroger’s 2019 brand transformation and led the selection of the company’s first-ever agency of record, DDB New York, while assembling a new, collaborative and high-performing brand-building team of 120 exemplary associates. She was instrumental in Kroger’s decision to introduce animation to its marketing strategy to allow the company to tell stories without people, ensuring that all customers, regardless of age, race, gender or background, could visualize themselves as part of the story. Rassi presented at the Brandweek Summit, in Palm Springs, Calif., in November 2019.

Megan Shaffer VP of Retail Operations, The Kroger Co./ Retail Operations

Chosen to lead Kroger’s cross-functional instock program, Shaffer and her teams implemented a streamlined produce-ordering system, a space-to-sales initiative, an updated forecasting platform and safety stock improvements. Under her leadership, the strategic operations enhancements achieved remarkable results, setting a best-in-class standard for the grocery retail industry; this included helping to drive a nine-figure sales improvement for the company and record-setting cost savings in 2019. Shaffer serves as a board member for ArtsWave, a nonprofit organization focused on fueling the arts community in the greater Cincinnati region.


Allison Garcia Director of Promo Planning and Marketing, The Kroger Co./ Merchandising

Garcia led her team through an intensive training program that she designed to empower the members to run their own lines of the business more efficiently, without having to wait for approvals; this resulted in 11 associate promotions. She successfully transitioned all enterprise creative and production from being designed separately in each of Kroger’s 22 divisions to being designed centrally at the home office. Pursuing her master’s degree in organizational management, Garcia finds that she is often able to immediately apply what she has learned in class to her job and team.

Melissa Barr

Senior Director, Supply Chain Transformation, The Kroger Co./ Supply Chain

An expert in her field who contributes to industry forums, Barr was handpicked to lead Kroger’s supply chain transformation because of her leadership style and ability. She led efforts to identify and improve supply chain processes to enhance store in-stock conditions; as a result of her work, upstream in-stock processes improved by more than 20%. Dedicated to serving their community, Barr and her family volunteer at Matthew 25 to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief, and participate in food drives to fight hunger through Reach Out Lakota; on her own, she mentors several women in and outside of Kroger.

Jordan Kremm

VP of Merchandising, Health and Beauty Care, The Kroger Co./Merchandising

Kremm established a quarterly joint business-planning session with Kroger’s top 15 HBC suppliers to drive alignment and accountability across the business. She led a first-of-its-kind partnership with Walgreens to launch a new test area for the retailers, featuring the expansion of Kroger Express and Kroger Pickup at select Walgreens stores, as well as the launch of Walgreens’ own-brand health and beauty products in 17 Kroger stores in Knoxville, Tenn. Kremm currently mentors a local college student as part of her participation in the YWCA Rising Star program.

Jody Kalmbach Group VP, Product Experience, The Kroger Co./ Technology and Digital

Kalmbach worked with the technology and digital team to become a product-led organization, which is a best-in-class methodology for large-scale retailers, to best serve customers and the business. She led the initiative to unite customers’ separate, disconnected experiences, working with such Kroger partners as grocery e-commerce leader Ocado and robotics company Nuro to create a superior, seamless customer experience and drive customer growth. In 2019, Kalmbach was inducted into the Path to Purchase Institute’s Hall of Fame in recognition of her knowledge of path-to-purchase engagement.


Kate Meyer

Director, Grocery and Natural Foods Merchandising, The Kroger Co./ Merchandising

Meyer helped lead a natural/organic strategic initiative for Kroger, which redefined and simplified the natural/organic customer and store segmentation across all departments. She led the charge in reviewing product costs from suppliers, and renegotiated those costs to help elevate overall profit, as well as looking at the price science to determine the correct retail prices in different markets. Meyer served as the Kroger General Office United Way co-chair for the 2019 giving campaign, which saw a 20%plus improvement in funds raised from the prior year.

Paaras Parker

Director of Human Resources, The Kroger Co./ Technology and Digital

Parker established new standards and processes meaningful to the digital associate experience, among them an updated dress code and compensation strategy work. In partnership with the Cincinnati Regional Chamber, she created Kroger Technology and Digital’s first Power Squad, a unique leadership program for women of color; In 2019, the division graduated its first class of Power Squad women leaders. Parker also teamed with the Cincinnati Chamber and the Cincinnati Business Courier to ensure her division’s support of the annual CLIMB Awards, a program that recognizes diversity in the workplace.

McCormick & Company congratulates

Nneka Rimmer Senior Vice President, Business Transformation

Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees for your hard work and dedication.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Heather George SVP Brand, Lowes Foods

Under George’s leadership, Lowes Foods experienced industry-leading same-store sales that were among the highest in the industry. She guided her team through the implementation of new goto-market strategies for digital marketing and social media initiatives, and the deployment of new shopper marketing efforts to grow Lowes’ business with its consumer packaged goods partners by maximizing ROIs and total sales. George helped develop and launch each of the grocer’s 16 unique brand concepts within its stores, including Lowes’ first-ever liquor store, Knock Knock Spirits, featuring a design inspired by a 1920s speakeasy.

Lynette Ackley

VP Merchandising HBC/OTC Card, Meijer

Ackley oversaw best-in-class launches of innovative brands such as the Harry’s shave and personal care line to drive incremental sales growth to a stagnant category. She led a successful rollout to new and remodeled stores of a beauty concept with a foundation of Meijer customer insights translated into a new in-store experience though partnership and inputs of key vendors, outside agency collaboration and internal support. Ackley and her team have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Kids’ Food Basket, diaper banks and period banks, among other worthy causes.


Danielle Mariano

CEO, Mariano Events

Mariano decided to expand her company’s range of services to include experiential marketing and pop-up sampling event opportunities for vendor clients, establishing Mariano Events’ pop-up division to focus on targeting unique venues in proximity to major retailers. She also went on to create a thriving branch of the company dedicated to fitness studio sampling events. As Mariano values giving back to her community through donations of nutritious food and beverages, she spearheaded a yearly Mariano Events initiative to contribute at least one pallet of surplus goods to food banks and homeless shelters.

Patricia Wallwork

CEO, Milo’s Tea Co.

Wallwork guided Milo’s to become the fastest-growing refrigerated tea and lemonade brand in the United States, with the top-selling item in the category and the No. 1 brand in the category at the largest U.S. retailer. The company implemented 50 internal promotions under her direction, helping build career paths for associates. Wallwork led Milo’s to aggressively cut waste and increase recycling; in 2019, the company saved 5.76 gallons of water, 127,500 pounds of glue and 114,300 square feet in packaging. Milo’s also launched a program to monitor and encourage suppliers’ sustainability efforts.

Ayeshah Abuelhiga

Founder and CEO, Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.

Under Abuelhiga’s guidance, her company’s products were in about 2,000 grocery stores at the beginning of 2019 and in more than twice the number of doors by the end of the year, and its sales more than tripled during that time. She orchestrated Target and Walmart launches planned for May and August 2020, respectively, and was responsible for Mason Dixie being chosen for the Chobani incubator program. Abuelhiga is involved with SYMAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders), a Washington, D.C., nonprofit for LGBTQ+ youth that provides job training, mentoring and education opportunities.

Becca May

VP of Marketing, Nature Nate’s Honey Co.

May built and managed an internal team of six that developed, executed and measured all of Nature Nate’s marketing initiatives, including shopper marketing, digital marketing, consumer loyalty, ambassador programs, content marketing and events. Thanks to her idea and effort to bring as much of the marketing-related work in-house, the company achieved more than $350,000 in savings within 12 months. Under her leadership, May’s team garnered more than 35 million in paid impressions below industry benchmark cost per thousand, and 1.5 million in organic social media impressions.


Nneka Rimmer PresidentGlobal Flavors and Extracts, McCormick & Co.

Rimmer is leading McCormick’s largest transformation effort as she works to transition the company’s multiple instances of SAP Enterprise Resource Planning to a single, simplified global platform; this initiative will affect how all McCormick employees perform their daily work. She headed the creation and integration of McCormick’s first global shared services organization, a multiregional team of hundreds of employees across North America, Europe and Asia. Among Rimmer’s many honors, she was named one of the Most Powerful Women in Corporate America by Black Enterprise magazine and received an award of merit from Stanford University.

Michelle Mock

Senior Director of Sales Operations, Nature Nate’s Honey Co.

Mock was tasked with directly calling on 8% of the company’s customer portfolio, and creating and managing a pilot van program. She also managed a team of five employees whose responsibilities included distributing and analyzing internal reporting, managing the demand-planning process, analyzing syndicated data, setting up new customers and management of their portals, assistance with trade show setup, and planning and distribution of new customer samples. Mock dealt with 100-plus customers in various capacities, so sales account managers could focus on growing the business.


Tracy is a powerful leader and strategist who created a new BEAUTY format for H-E-B described by senior industry experts as “the best in the world.”

To Tracy and her Team, WE SAY CONGRATULATIONS!

RISING STAR AWARD WINNER Director of Beauty Procurement & Merchandising

Tracy Bliss


2019 Top Women in Grocery Jessica Gasser VP HR; Chief Compliance Officer, ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. (SRS)

Gasser worked diligently and strategically to establish the HR function as a separate yet integrated role within the organization, helping the team transition from predominantly providing operations administrative support to focusing on the strategic use and deployment of human capital. She created a compliance committee with subject-matter experts from various parts of the business, among them information technology, pharmacy, asset protection, quality assurance, finance, payroll and operations. Viewed as a mentor, Gasser serves as the executive sponsor for the newly created Women’s Leadership Development Group at ShopRite.

Rosie Squieri Group VP, Construction, Smart & Final

Since attaining her present position, Squieri has streamlined processes and cut overall expenses within her department by 10% while improving productivity. As one example, she changed the structure of contracts in a key area of facilities, achieving 20% overall year-over-year savings. Her impact on the department and overall organization resulted in healthier bottom lines across Smart & Final. Awarded the Food Industries Sales Managers’ Club Women in the Food Industry award, Squieri is deeply involved in mentoring women within that organization and part of an internal mentoring program at Smart & Final, dedicating her extra time to helping women grow and prosper.

Tammy Hurley

VP and Chief Accounting Officer, SpartanNash

After identifying the opportunity, Hurley spearheaded SpartanNash’s efforts to incorporate robotic process automation into the company’s accounting and tax processes; the effort lightened workloads and helped minimize errors. She also led the effort to automate tax compliance on tobacco sales, resulting in substantial labor and cost savings. Hurley has dedicated countless hours to the Boy Scouts, beginning as a troop leader in 2012, when her son started Cub Scouts in first grade at a brandnew school without a pack of its own, until she stepped in. She currently tracks boys’ progress as they work toward becoming Eagle Scouts.


Yvonne Trupiano

EVP, Chief Human Resources and Corporate Affairs and Communications Officer, SpartanNash

Trupiano transformed the depth and scope of SpartanNash’s Total Rewards associate program by including more personalized benefits with additional options to meet employees’ needs while keeping the company’s benefit cost increase well below national average. Under her expert guidance, SpartanNash introduced a talent acquisition client relationship management system to continue to market and promote the company as a wonderful place to work to both active and passive talent pipelines. Trupiano launched a new diversity and inclusion program focusing on veterans, women and people of color at SpartanNash.


Rene Hunter

VP, Finance and Business Development, SpartanNash/MDV Military Division

Hunter improved the MDV division’s speed to order items when there is a vendor production issue and the items return to stock; her management resulted in millions of dollars in sales that otherwise would have been lost. She worked with an MDV military distribution center on a one-way process for documenting and verifying delivery, and ensuring proper payment for the delivered products, with the shared aim of delivering longterm gains in efficiencies. A leader in SpartanNash’s annual Helping Hands in the Community Volunteer Day, Hunter also gives her time to Honor and Remember VetsHouse and the Fisher House Foundation.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Heidi Carney

EVP, Marketing and Administration, True Citrus/Grand Brands

Carney oversaw the development and consumer research for popular clean-label lines in three trending categories: energy, water infusions, and healthy products for kids. She developed marketing communication campaigns targeting her company’s most loyal shoppers, and met brand outreach goals for new-household trial and repeat purchase by leveraging the brand’s excellent distribution base. Carney was not only the champion of her company’s association with Feeding America, but also, more recently, served as a sponsor of Girls on the Run, an organization dedicated to building girls’ self-esteem as they grow into adults.

Mariela Oetinger

CEO, VacaJunp Corp.

Oetinger facilitated profitable growth by exceeding Hispanic consumers’ expectations regarding the grocery industry, in the process bringing many innovative Hispanic brands and products to the shelves of some of the most successful food retailers. She gave Latinas the opportunity to take leadership roles, as opposed to supporting positions on the sales team, building associates’ confidence and supporting their career growth. In addition to running a woman-owned business, Oetinger is an active community volunteer at her local church, her children’s school, several nonprofit organizations such as Prospanica, and mentors college students taking part in entrepreneur programs.

Melanie Bauman

VP of Sales, Grocery, Valassis

Bauman successfully led Valassis’ grocery marketing from a broader horizontal coverage model to a more specific vertical podular model to allow the best focus on customers’ specialized needs. She exceeded the company’s overall goal and grew its digital portfolio by double digits in the grocery vertical, and transformed three major client agreements into multiyear market growth partnership commitments. Bauman serves as a Valassis ambassador to the Network of Executive Women (NEW) and was recently appointed co-chair for the Southern California chapter; she’s also a member of the Valassis Women’s Network and active in the company’s internal mentoring program.


2020 Top Women in Grocery

Sebron Hurlburt

Lisa Allen

Chairman of the Board, The Ziegenfelder Co.

Rising Stars

Thanks to Allen’s emphasis on leadership development, within 18 days of a devastating fire at Ziegenfelder’s main plant, the leadership team had production back up and running, meeting huge milestones for serving customers throughout the production year. She encouraged all employees to trust each other and take risks in an environment where mistakes are viewed as opportunities for growth.

Director, Acosta

Badia led the internal sales team for the Barilla business at Kroger, an account with annual sales of more than $104 million. As part of the Acosta growth team, she helped coordinate new business and white-space initiatives, and also served as a liaison between third-party marketers and the Acosta business team; on a broader level, she built bridges between teams, sharing best practices. Badia also launched innovative product line extensions at Kroger, including Barilla’s Vero Gusto Sauce and Legume Pasta; these new items enabled Acosta to reach new and incremental households, bringing new sales into the category.


Senior Merchandise Planner, 99 Cents Only Stores LLC

Hurlburt improved process efficiencies and implemented best practices for ad hoc reporting, data analysis, store and distribution center inventory management, open-tobuy, forecast/allocation/replenishment systems, and merchandise financial-planning tools. She was a key leader on the strategic business team that transformed how the company forecasts product demand and replenishment, creating a large cross-functioning platform to roll out a centralized inventory optimization strategy.

As well as sitting on the board of Classrooms Without Borders, a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Allen has spearheaded fundraising efforts in the Ohio Valley.

Dawn Badia


Hurlburt also led assortment planning and provided pivotal analyses to company leaders.

Kirsten Barnhorst

Senior Manager, Marketing Communication, Acosta

Working with Acosta’s internal communications and executive leadership teams, Barnhorst maximized brand exposure, built brand equity, drove corporate marketing strategies and ensured message and brand consistency, while managing all external communications and handling public relations and social media. She boosted thought leadership media placements by 73%, led a team that introduced new organization-wide client newsletters, and restructured the company’s social media pages for greater engagement. In her two years at Acosta, Barnhorst has received two Chairman’s Awards.

Carolyn Bryce Manager, Organizational Effectiveness, Acosta

Bryce’s work impacted every business area at Acosta by way of talent development, organizational effectiveness, performance management and succession planning. She created new enterprise core complexities to provide greater clarity on expectations and growth opportunities at Acosta, and developed training and toolkits to further improve business results. Participation in the performance management process jumped from 87% to 96% in the past year. She volunteers her time with the Toronto chapters of the International Coaching Federation and the Human Resources Professionals Association.

Anh Gist

HR Business Partner, Acosta

As the strategic human resources partner for Acosta’s Walmart, Sam’s Club and national retail teams spanning 7,500 employees, Gist worked to attract and sustain a high-performing diverse workforce and administer HR programs, plans and procedures. She expanded HR support to include national retail, with an additional 5,000 employees, and helped facilitate Acosta as a single-source provider of outside sales representatives for membership drives at Sam’s Club. The recipient of a Bronze Chairman’s Award in 2019, Gist is an active volunteer with Junior Achievement of Arkansas, helping to provide young people with the tools for economic success.


Debbie Murphy Director, Harris Teeter Team Lead, Acosta

Promoted to her current position in 2019, Murphy took on responsibility for all aspects of the Harris Teeter customer team, representing more than $300 million in sales. Based on a recommendation from Harris Teeter senior management, her group was tasked with handling the business for the Campbell’s Soup division and Danone. She also set up a new portal to access expanded data, which played a role in retaining clients. Murphy is instrumental in the company’s Santa’s Helpers program for local residents in need; the initiative helps 200-plus families annually.

Kaci Crooks

Associate Account Director, Acosta/ Mosaic

As the client service team lead for Acosta/Mosaic’s Walmart business, Crooks oversaw a five-person team to develop strategy and execution for Walmart’s core and growth initiatives. Her team executed more than 9,000 events in 49 states on Walmart’s behalf, a 28% increase over the previous year. Crooks’ Walmart team exceeded top- and bottom-line expectations, and she partnered with the company to educate shoppers on its pickup and delivery services, explore its In Home offering, and launch its first health clinic — all programs in line with mega-retailer’s stated goal of helping its customers save money so they can live better.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Valerie Perry

Director, Business Process Solutions, Acosta

With 25-plus years of experience at Acosta, Perry led a high-performing team of 25 and managed more than 300 claims exports and/ or integrations, in addition to directing new-client engagement for business process tasks.

Laura Reynolds Director, Client Development, Acosta

Director of Business Intelligence, Acosta

As the main liaison between Acosta and the client, Reynolds led new client integration, ensured the national execution of sales goals, implemented training and engaged in analytics.

Stewart headed a team of seven to provide actionable insights to more than 50 manufacturers dirving business at Kroger.

She and her team created robotic process automation and client direct integrations for a claims-clearing initiative, with a 75% success rate and a 50% reduction in clearing cycle time.

Since July 2019, she has boosted fourth-quarter sales by 10%, with growth across three major segments; increased display pallets by more than 11%; and outpaced national levels on the top two new-item initiatives.

Over the past three years, Perry has received Bronze, Silver and Gold Chairman’s Awards from Acosta. She’s also an active member of the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

As well as being an active member of the Acosta Culture Committee, Reynolds serves as an operations officer for the New England board of the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

Brittany Ethridge

Director, Talent Acquisition, Acosta/ Mosaic

Overseeing a talent acquisitions flex team that she helped pilot, Ethridge guided all functions as the group staffed thousands of shifts per month across the United States. After successfully launching lower rates that drove down cross-charges, she led her team to increase the number of shifts managed by talent operations partners and recruits to save almost $1.2 million and win new business, and also began partnering with grocery reset teams to staff their gaps. For her excellent staffing work, Ethridge received a Bronze Chairman’s Award in 2019 and the Mosaic Medal of Merit for Outstanding Client Service.

Rebekah Stewart

Marie-Pierre Huot

She was sought out for a new role on the growth team to drive $5 million in white-space business. Her impactful category review, used to sell in a new national product line, was expected to generate $3.45 million in sales for Kroger. As a broker, she won a You Make a Difference Award, which is typically reserved for employees. Additionally, she’s a Certified Professional Strategic Advisor with the Category Management Association.

Shatha Jato

Account Supervisor, Acosta/Mosaic

Director HR, Talent Acquisition, Acosta/Mosaic

Huot oversaw 15,000 transactions and developed effective and unconventional ways to manage the recruitment flow for roles throughout the grocery marketing, advertising, merchandising, sampling and sales programs. She reduced recruiting operating costs by $900,000, implemented a cost per hire to enhance marketplace efficiency, and started cross-functional teams between Canada and the United States for greater retention and career growth. Huot is also a professional mentor for women, a frequent speaker on women in the workforce, and a volunteer with a local holiday helper program.

Jato managed the financial aspects of accounts, oversaw the execution and optimization of marketing plans, provided strategic insights to clients’ programs and managed department training teams. She managed 73 projects, of which 40% exceeded objectives and 60% met objectives; her efforts resulted in organic growth of more than $194,000 and an upsell of nearly $130,000. Recognized by Mosaic with its Everyday Greatness for Adaptability, Initiative, Teamwork & Collaboration, and Think “Customer First” honors, Jato somehow finds the time to lend her support to the Children Wish Foundation and a local Hockey to Conquer Cancer program.




2020 Top Women in Grocery Lisa Goff

Director, Operations, Acosta/ The Pet Firm

Focused on new business development for The Pet Firm, Goff identified opportunities, created strategies for approaching clients and managed the new business budget. Having developed a business plan for The Pet Firm’s consulting service that clearly identified the opportunity and potenital revenue it offered, she was subsequently given approval to launch the venture, and signed three contracts as a result. In line with her professional position, Goff volunteers regularly at a foster organization where she cares for female dogs and their puppies, as well as helping screen potential new pet parents who wish to adopt.

Leah Taylor

Client Services Manager, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Customer Experience

Taylor managed field event marketing strategy for brands within the Tyson Foods portfolio, handled client budgets and assisted in onboarding new clients. She led a $1.5 million program for the new Raised & Rooted brand within Tyson Foods, and implemented a new Sara Lee Deli slicing initiative, which is on track for $1.5 million revenue in its first year. Chosen to be part of the new Advantage Solutions Talent Exchange program, Taylor is also an active alumni member of her college sorority, where she works with several charities, and a volunteer in support of no-kill animal shelters.


Sarah Parker

Director of Sales, Acosta/The Pet Firm

Heading up the Petco team for The Pet Firm division of Acosta, Parker maximized client opportunities, established and implemented sales targets, managed expenses, and improved vendor relationships; as a result of her work, all of her major clients beat budget expectations between 101% and 164%.

Jana Davis

Senior Director of Research, Acosta/ Strategic Advisors

Davis fueled brand growth with insights-to-execution solutions based on data-driven insights, brand/ category/aisle growth strategies, and comprehensive shopper and store-level activation.

She also successfully negotiated a major brand transition within the pet category, launched several new specialty pet brands, and signed a new vendor with high growth potential.

Her efforts to manage teamwork flow and provide thought leadership led to multiple client engagements and the deployment of new tools and processes that drove efficiency and bolstered team capabilities; she was also instrumental in strengthening ties with Procter & Gamble.

A huge animal supporter, Parker volunteers with the San Diego Zoo Global organization, and is mentoring two new brand managers on the team.

Davis sits on the board of a local marathon and the steering committee for an animal therapy group, among her other community activities.

Stephanie Benson

Stephanie Kryger

Director of Space and Assortment Analytics, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Sales

Business Development Manager, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Sales

Benson oversaw a space-planning and assortment analytics team of 40 associates who worked with both manufacturers and retailers to achieve shelving objectives and grow sales with optimized planograms.

Through efficient management of promotional spending and the implementation of marketing strategies and trend analyses, Kryger aimed to increase sales; exceed client goals for distribution, pricing, shelving and promotional volume; and facilitate category development.

She based her leadership approach on training and developing her team and deploying project management techniques and high-quality assurance methods to consistently deliver on time and to expectations. 2019 proved to be a breakout year for Benson, who bolstered the revenue of her team by 25% and earned positive feedback from clients.

She earned a Business Development Manager of the Year award in 2019 from one of her key clients, and also achieved above-sales goals for four other top clients. Practicing an open-door policy, Kryger mentors others through her involvement with the Network of Executive Women (NEW).


Katherine Cieplik-Larney

Director of Research, Acosta/Strategic Advisors/Shopper Community

Cieplik-Larney managed the company’s proprietary household shopper community comprising 22,000 primary grocery shoppers, surveying them and communicating with them to identify behaviors, attitudes and purchase influences, and then translating insights into go-tomarket tactics. She led an expansion that doubled the membership of the shopper community. Cieplik-Larney’s team was often tapped to represent Acosta’s shopper capabilities to clients, and to the larger industry through conference materials and thought-leadership reports.

Victoria McQuarrie

Director, Business Development, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Sales

McQuarrie led Advantage Solutions’ sales partnership engagement for new clients, built customer service solutions for Fortune 500 companies and directed the entire request-for-proposal process. Promoted to director in August 2019, she onboarded a record number of new national clients, and led or closely supported new business wins accounting for almost a third of Advantage’s total sales revenue growth. An active member of Toastmasters International, McQuarrie won first place in the Northern California Area D1 International Speech contest and earned third place at the divisional level.

Ashleigh Endicott

Tonya Westbrook

Rising Star

Store Manager


2020 Top Women in Grocery Mona Szumlas Senior Director, Client Services, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Sales

Szumlas managed a team of more than 300 and directed two of Advantage Solutions’ largest clients, with combined sales revenues of more than $10 billion. Promoted in May 2019, she led the flawless integration of a large, strategic new client, expertly staffing and training more than 115 sales associates, and delivered the best fourth-quarter results her client has had in the past three years. Szumlas supports several local organizations committed to enriching the lives of children, as well as national organizations that serve the underprivileged.

Kelsey George Client Service Manager, Advantage Solutions/ Retailtainment

George strategically planned and budgeted for Walmart retailtainment special projects, experiential events within Walmart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets. She pioneered the first national Walmart Baby Days event, which led to a significant category lift; rolled out the first National Walmart Back to School Project; and reinvented the Walmart National Play Day program. The recipient of Working Better Together and Shining Star awards, George is a member of The Path to Purchase Institute and the Network of Executive Women (NEW), in addition to being an active supporter of several nonprofit organizations.


Renee Watts

Manager, Client Development, Advantage Solutions/ Advantage Sales

Before being promoted in 2019, Watts was a brand sales manager who handled major sales programs and strategic planning initiatives for several clients in the Southeast; her new role required her to manage strategic national clients across the Eastern region. Her work as a brand sales manager helped Land O’Lakes grow gross sales by 104% and spurred a 33% sales increase for Mars Ice Cream. Watts received a Simply the Best award from Land O’Lakes and served as events chair for her local chapter of the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

Lauren Lamaestra

Project Manager, Advantage Solutions/ Retailtainment

Lamaestra tackled processes, development and training for Walmart’s online grocery sampling program and the mega-retailer’s retailtainment special projects, and is involved in the strategic process development of Walmart’s high-profile platforms. She helped lead a team that launched the online grocery pickup sampling program, and designed a new work process enabling Advantage to exceed volume projections by more than 73%. She also created a comprehensive training program. The recipient of two Advantage Solutions awards, Lamaestra is an active member of the Network of Executive Women (NEW) and The Path to Purchase Institute.

Sheri van der Voort

U.S. Director of Operations, West Coast, Advantage Solutions/Club Demonstration Services (CDS)


Sharri Johnson Retail Operations Manager, Advantage Solutions/R2 Solutions

Van der Voort was instrumental in several strategic initiatives that impacted the bottom line, such as working with Costco’s corporate food safety team to develop standard operating procedures.

Providing sales and merchandising services in 942 stores, Johnson organized multiple priorities with retail personnel, managed retail funds and labor expenses, and served as the strategic retail contact for all clients.

She designed and implemented CDS’ Warehouse Visit Recap phone app to capture and compile all visits performed by CDS U.S., and worked with warehouse divisions in Canada and Mexico to create a similar capability for them.

In a 10-month span, her team generated $14.6 million in sales revenue for the client, up 110% from last year; she and her team worked with the client to start a share-of-shelf incentive program, which led to a 74% higher share of shelf.

A member of the Costco Guild, van der Voort also supports Camp Korey for terminally ill kids.

Johnson shares her time and talent with Metropolitan Ministries and Habit for Humanity.

Sarah Moffett Senior Business Development Manager, Advantage Solutions/ Retailtainment

Moffett fostered nationwide relationships with clients in the adult-beverage category and worked on-site at Walmart corporate headquarters, managing the $13 million Walmart retaltainment category.

Kelly Silence

Zone Director, Advantage Solutions/Waypoint

Silence took on her current position as zone director last September, inheriting an underperforming team in a distressed market; in six months, she had achieved a 6.2% increase in case sales.

She helped boost the adultbeverage sampling business by double digits and brought in more than 45 new clients, as well as developing a platform to support Walmart’s redesign of the adult-beverage section in 350-plus locations.

She created a Leadership Incubator team that pairs rising stars and up-and-comers with well-established leaders within the Waypoint and manufacturer communities to forge connections and spark conversations on how they can work together take the foodservice industry to the next level.

Moffett is a frequent industry presenter, speaking at the Walmart Adult Beverage Supplier Summit, California Grocers Association events, TechfestNW, ShopTalk and others.

Silence is a founding member of Waypoint’s Culture Champion Team, which was created to develop and reinforce a strong culture of recognition, inspiration, performance and diversity.







GVP, Construction

Product Manager



Manager, Leadership Development & Engagement

Store Manager

© Copyright 2020 Smart & Final Stores, Inc.



2019 Top Women in Grocery Susan Lansley Manager, Merchandising, Food Lion

Lansley’s key strategic initiatives led to double-digit sales percentage increases in the deli department; she continued to drive innovation by refining Food Lion’s latest prototype model and back room, setting the stage for future growth. She helped launch more than 200 hot wing bars at stores across Food Lion’s 10-state network, and introduced an advanced catering program implemented at more than 280 stores. Lansley was nominated as a Count on Me associate for fresh merchandising, a prestigious honor recognizing her work as a caring colleague who has a positive impact on others.

Kimberly Biertempfel

Kimberly Mack

Brand Manager, Marketing, The Giant Co.

Biertempfel led the launch of the marketing campaign for Giant Choice Rewards, helping boost engagement for the new loyalty program by 238 basis points over its 2019 target; she also led efforts on the marketing campaign for the launch of Giant Direct as e-commerce transitioned from Peapod to the new branding. She worked closely with the loyalty team to create new, insight-driven promotions for major holidays, and with merchandising to develop a program calling attention to unique and story-worthy items in fresh departments. Biertempfel mentors women through the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

April Richardson

Brand Manager, Digital Strategy and Media, The Giant Co.

Mack led the launch of Giant e-commerce across digital channels and drove customer awareness and conversion for both the pickup and delivery businesses — efforts that contributed to 40,000 new e-commerce customers and significant increases in revenue. She created the Giant Snowflake Search, the company’s first augmented-reality experience, bringing an interactive experience to shoppers during the winter holidays; it provided learnings on the technology and earned significant industry media. Mack is director of marketing for the Camp Hill Soccer Club, promoting youth soccer in the central Pennsylvania region.

Center Store Sales Manager, The Giant Co.

Richardson teamed with asset protection for a proactive approach to nonperishable shrink and developed an initiative to support back-room conditions, among other initiatives, helping her district improve nonperishable financial shrink. She drove center store sales with specialty displays in stores with a high ethnic index, launched a private label wine program in 10 stores, and supported a beer new-item launch in 15 stores. Richardson led her team in supporting the Salvation Army Adopt a Family/Angel Tree program, providing holiday meals and gifts for two families.


November 4-5, 2020 Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando, FL



Lisa Coleman

Director of Healthy Living, Giant Food

Coleman extended the reach and impact of Giant Food’s nutrition programming, providing a curriculum for in-store classes and developing digital resources that customers can access from anywhere, including weekly blog content, a biweekly podcast series, and online classes and webinars. She forged partnerships with nonprofits to create nutritional programs for firefighters and for people with diabetes. Coleman hired and trained a nutritionist for a store in an underserved community in Washington, D.C., and served on the advisory board to provide programming to aid the community; healthy food sales have grown more than 11% in the store.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Monica Murphy Manger of Asset Protection, Giant Food

Murphy led Project Deter, an initiative that saved the company more than $1 million last year. Taking the lead on a project that resulted in every lock in every store being changed, she identified needs, participated in the bid process and evaluated potential vendors. Her attention to detail has made her a multiyear winner of the Asset Protection Manager of the Year award, which is given to the highest-performing Giant Food asset protection managers. Murphy serves on the Loss Prevention Research Council’s product protection committee, collaborating with retailers and vendors to solve asset protection retail issues.

Wendy Boynton

Director of Pharmacy Operations, Hannaford Supermarkets

Boynton motivated Hannaford pharmacies to take charge of inventory and improve results, introducing tools that enabled the grocer to maintain industry-leading inventory levels while controlling shrink and maintaining in-stock conditions. She deployed a medication synchronization service that makes it easier for customers to stay on their prescription therapies without missing any dosages of critical medications, and grew Hannaford’s immunization business through relationships with new channels and vendors, as well as pharmacist training. Boynton was named 2019 Pharmacist of the Year by the University of New England.

Emma Castañeda

Director, IT, Peapod Digital Labs

Castañeda expanded her scope of influence by serving as a mentor for employees outside of her own department; in 2019, she sat on a leadership panel for International Women’s Day and helped others in the organization by sharing her thoughts and insights as a leader and a woman. She successfully guided, promoted and received acceptance for the user experience of Ahold Delhaize’s strategic omnichannel platform supporting its six U.S. brands, also taking the lead on the project’s budget control and delivery of timelines. Castañeda has presented on many occasions to the most senior levels the company and is recognized as a self-starter.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Nancy DawsonBrady Manager, Infinity Fresh Kitchen, Retail Business Services

Dawson-Brady successfully managed multiple workstreams, including construction, merchandising, IT, research and development, and supply chain, while preparing for the launch of the first state-ofthe-art commissary for Stop & Shop and Hannaford, supporting deli and produce. Under her leadership, the facility has averaged a service level to the distribution centers of 97%. Dawson-Brady and her team volunteer at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, sourcing food, raising funds and recruiting helpers, and she also coaches and mentors women in the industry the through the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

Melissa Everard Asset Protection Manager, Stop & Shop

Everard assisted in the development of the current shrink plan of action, as well as the shrink metric template, which continues to be used across the banner. She enthusiastically volunteered to cover an additional district during a period of reduced staffing of the asset protection management team, successfully managing three districts and supporting 30 direct reports for an extended period of time. Everard helps run the annual Thanksgiving food drive and toy drive at Holy FamilyChurch, along with volunteering to raise funds and awareness for the Down Syndrome Association.


Dawn Rogers

Director, Human Resources Business Partners, Retail Business Services

Rogers led a company-wide cross-functional team to develop and introduce My Leadership Journey (MLJ), an immersive career-development framework designed to foster career growth and leadership development at all levels. She worked with private-brand leadership on organizational design modifications to align teams and encourage process improvements, which ultimately resulted in positive sales results for private-brand products across Ahold Delhaize USA. Rogers serves on the board of the Partnership for Young Children, a nonprofit supporting the learning and healthy development of kids up to age 5.

Laura Sweeney Human Resources Business Partner, Stop & Shop

Sweeney worked with women leaders in the district by setting up mentoring circles, and speaking about some of the obstacles that they face in retail and how to overcome those challenges, including work/life balance, holding people accountable or dressing for success.

Jennifer Smith

Manager, A-Brands Sourcing, Retail Business Services


Phuong Dinh

Finance Manager, Stop & Shop

Smith developed a robust internal training program for assortment associates; her team led quarterly training sessions across all five brand locations, educating more than 150 colleagues on tools, processes and business etiquette.

Promoted to manager in 2019, Dinh was instrumental in establishing robust financial core processes like budgeting and reporting, as well as in building a trusted relationship between finance and the commercial teams.

She also led a team that created collection and reporting processes to capture nearly $80 million to fund the single-source program across Ahold Delhaize USA’s brands.

To facilitate her weekly review with the SVP of nonperishables, she built a forecasting model dynamic enough to be updated for risks and opportunities and to help identify the levers needed to be pulled to achieve the desired financial target.

Smith was appointed co-chair of Retail Business Services’ Women’s Business Resource Group (BRG), which hosts mentoring circles, community outreach initiatives and events focused on empowering women, among other activities.

Karli Andrew

E-commerce Senior Merchant, Albertsons Cos.

Andrew focused on e-commerce merchandising for one of the organization’s largest sales categories, including dry grocery and alcohol/beverage. She headed up special merchandising seasonal event planning tied to online merchandising plans.

Beyond her professional duties, Dinh is an active member in the New England Network of Executive Women (NEW) and the Stop & Shop Women Associate Resource Group.

Alicia Bell

E-commerce Director, Eastern Division, Albertsons Cos.

Spearheading customer service with home delivery and drive-up-and-go operations in her division, Bell drove $38 million in annual sales and oversaw labor management, training and EBITDA.

She put in place a detailed development program that has resulted in the promotion of more than 100 associates to full-time or leadership positions.

Among other accomplishments, she merchandised products more effectively by repositioning product photography for easier shopping, leading to a five-to-tenfold sales lift.

She transformed a bottom-performing division to first place for on-time delivery metrics, streamlined the recruitment process and implemented new business models to expand the number of stores offering home delivery.

Sweeney’s ongoing partnership with Cradles to Crayons and The Salvation Army within her district supports various events throughout the year.

Andrew also improved search functionality and drove all-timehigh sales weeks during the holidays through better storytelling for online merchandising.

Bell has been recognized for her outstanding work in leading the front end to significantly reduce cash shortages in Albertsons’ eastern division.

Amanda Vanjaria

Christina Cates

Kim Field

Linda Zurn

Christine Bell

Lucy Williams

Karmi Middlemiss

Kelly McCarten

Melissa Fulmore-Hardwick

Shauna Bowen


2020 Top Women in Grocery Pauline Berry

Senior Director, Consumer and Shopper Insights, Albertsons Cos.

Berry handled the development, execution and analysis of primary research and insights to understand shopping behaviors and support the company’s marketing, loyalty, merchandising, pharmacy and operations business units across nine divisions; she also managed a multimillion-dollar research budget. Her contributions included the delivery of actionable recommendations for an effective optimizing mix, insights on growth opportunities, and the creation of an insights learning plan. Featured in the 2019 edition of “Who’s Who in Insights and Analytics,” Berry is a member of both the Network of Executive Women (NEW) and the Path to Purchase Institute.

Minyoung Cha Senior Quality Assurance Manager, Albertsons Cos.

Cha’s duties encompassed the Own Brands private label business, where she ensured supplier adherence to relevant regulatory standards, industry best practices and company policies for safe, high-quality products delivered to 2,300-plus stores in 35 states.


Lindsey Boudreaux

Manager, Pharmacy Business Development, Albertsons Cos.

With duties ranging from health care partner clinic development to the opening of new clinic locations, Boudreaux identified acquisition opportunities, and oversaw and directed financial analysis, bid strategy, legal documentation, and execution of all pharmacy acquisitions and partnerships with nontraditional opportunities. She shepherded the launch of seven new clinics, created a pipeline of potential partners for new clinic locations, and executed the rollout of pharmacy delivery across 14 divisions. Boudreaux connected with alternative pharmacy businesses and alliances to keep Albertsons at the forefront of pharmacy innovation and trends.

Jessica Covaci

Director, Pharmacy Compliance, Albertsons Cos.

Covaci was responsible for planning and implementing all pharmacy compliance initiatives across nearly 1,800 U.S. pharmacies, with 36 direct and indirect reports, 30 field evaluators, and six pharmacy controlled-substance analysts.

Under her direction, the number of complaints in million units sold dropped 25% in 10 months, and she built a supplier pathogen control assessment tool based on best industry practices and applicable regulations.

She also modified the field evaluation program process, introduced hands-on training and mentoring of field evaluators, and reduced the risk of controlled-substance diversion by improving controlled-substance management processes.

Cha dedicated time to regular one-on-ones with her employees to help each one develop strategic perspective and analytical skills to solve complex situations.

Covaci was recently chosen for Albertsons University leadership training, and serves on committees for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Karen Bowlby

Director, Customer Service Center, Albertsons Cos.

Managing more than 300 employees and overseeing the knowledge base to handle and report on customer interactions, which include up to 2.5 million comments a year, Bowlby also coordinated a feedback-based digital road map for customers. Passionate about quickly solving customer issues, she embraced technology and communication, and worked closely with the IT team to reduce handle time and calls. Bowlby recently improved customer experience within the home delivery platform at Albertsons by implementing a new program enabling customers to see the status of their orders and how far the delivery truck is from their homes.

Mandee Day

Director of Marketing Creative Communications, Albertsons Cos.

Day guided national vendor meetings, executive board meetings, investor/ analyst meetings and leadership meetings, ensuring that all communications were consistent and creative, from videos to messages from senior executives. She also assisted other groups, including retail operations, employee resources groups, and digital and customer teams as needed, and oversaw budgets for event planning. Day served on the board for Albertsons’ Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network, is active with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and shares her talent and services with other charities and employee resource groups.


Veronica Bykin IT Director, Digital CX Engineering, Albertsons Cos.

With five reporting teams, Bykin headed up engineering groups responsible for digital customer experience, digital analytics, test and target, and other company-wide web initiatives. In less than a year, she built a team supporting the company’s web platform that has reduced consulting costs and brought technical skills in house; she also created automation, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), and unit testing, and shifted from releases every other month to every two weeks. In addition, Bykin is working on a system to reduce downtime and provide work-life balance for teams that would otherwise have to stay up all night for code deployments.

Pat Dearman

Own Brands Innovation and Product Management Manager, Albertsons Cos.

Dearman’s duties included growing the Debi Lilly private label brand by working with hardgoods suppliers, growers and designer/event planner Debi Lilly. Under her leadership, the Debi Lilly brand grew at close to a double-digit rate to reach nearly $300 million in annual sales at more than 2,000 stores across all Albertsons banners. Dearman recently helped launch the Extending Smiles bouquet, working with three charities that donate a portion of every bouquet to those in need; the response has been so overwhelming that she’s already working on new bouquet recipes with seasonal rotation.


Mirela Dobrescu Director, Merchandising Systems, Albertsons Cos.

Dobrescu’s purview included merchandising systems that are used to manage base retails, promoted retails and trade funds collection, across all of Albertsons’ divisions.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Charlene Earl Plant Manager, Albertsons Cos.

As the plant manager for the Vons L.A. Milk and Culture Plant, Earl oversaw a 130-person facility that’s one of 18 in the company.

She also managed the conversion of all promotion and allowance data for each Albertsons division to new technology platforms, for a 95% accuracy rate, and helped onboard divisions to the new systems.

Running a plant that produces more than 40 million gallons of product, representing more than $125 million in sales, she adhered to budget, leading the pack in dairy manufacturing and yielding an operational savings greater than $500,000 against her team’s goal.

Dobrescu helped to construct a new promotional pricing system for an industry-best solution that cut two days from the processing of allowance and promotion data; she’s known as something of a system and data oracle who always makes time for colleagues’ issues.

Earl is seen as a mentor, especially to newer plant managers, and welcomes peers to her facility to highlight and share its successful initiatives; she also conducted periodic budgetary reviews with junior plant managers to give them a clear understanding of their businesses.

Vien-An Friedel Director, Own Brands Product Development, Albertsons Cos.

Friedel led product development and the commercialization of new and reformulated products under the Own Brands umbrella, where she is accountable for several million-dollar categories.

Elizabeth Guthrie

Director, Own Brands Innovation and Product Management, Albertsons Cos.

Responsible for a portion of the Own Brands portfolio worth more than $828 million, Guthrie fueled growth through innovation, brand and category expansion and marketing.

She played a key role in the introduction of a line of soups in a newly acquired manufacturing facility, helped drive a new software specification system, and designed a successful Own Brands Product Development Day showcasing the skills and contributions of the brand’s integral product developers.

She led a significant expansion of the Open Nature brand into more nonfood categories and sustainable items, spurred innovation in new over-the-counter products, and identified growth for CBD sales for Own Brands, leading to a stand-alone brand now under development.

By problem-solving for cross categories and sparking several improvements, Friedel facilitated cost savings of nearly $5 million.

Guthrie is a member of Albertsons’ Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network and its Community Team.

Jacquie Farquhar

Darlene Freeman

Marketing Operations Quality Assurance and Triage, Albertsons Cos.

Senior Manager, Own Brands Innovation and Product Management, Albertsons Cos.

Farquhar coordinated an offshore team in Manila and partnered with the Customer Care Call Center, technical teams, internal and external partners, and division marketing areas to serve more than 2,200 stores. Having found potentially fraudulent accounts, she led a task force to reduce fraud in Grocery Rewards digital offers, stemming losses between $50,000 and $100,000 per month, for a $1 million annual savings. Farquhar serves as a board member for Albertsons’ Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network, where she was instrumental in a career development event with the First Place for Youth organization.

Sharmin King

In her role on the Main Meals and Ingredients team, Freeman was tasked with new item innovation, business maintenance and category expertise across 58 categories worth $271 million annually; her business increased $12.4 million last year. She supervised an assistant product manager and led a team of six cross-functional partners. One of Freeman’s biggest accomplishments over the past year was her crucial role in expanding Albertsons’ new super-premium Signature Reserve brand and introducing elevated offerings to deliver on rising consumer interest in differentiation and premiumization.

Shari Klein

Loss Prevention Data Analyst, Albertsons Cos.

Director of Property Management, Albertsons Cos.

King focused on cost savings and protecting the assets of the division and company, including monitoring its money services programs, with an emphasis on Western Union transactions and scrutinizing systems for undetected anomalies of possible abuse or training issues causing shrink or loss.

Overseeing all property management functions for 2,200-plus stores and nonretail facilities, Klein recovered $400,000 from external-audit processes; replaced a third-party property management service, saving the company approximately $80,000 annually; identified 10 locations with percentage rent overpayments, resulting in estimated savings of $450,000; and got landlord approval for 300-plus Drive Up & Go locations.

She identified two credit card fraudsters who cost the Denver division $11,000; her research and efforts led to the eventual capture of two suspects who were allegedly responsible for credit card and gift card fraud across the company.

She developed and trained high-potential associates to become the next leaders within her department.

King was invaluable and instrumental in training the division’s asset protection team.

Klein is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.




2020 Top Women in Grocery Lubna Lasne

Technical Project Manager, Albertsons Cos.

Responsible for ensuring that the product engineering team delivers business value-added features on time with quality, Lasne was a key influencer in revamping the Albertsons digital grocery e-commerce checkout experience. She was instrumental in delivering a new e-commerce platform built on modern cloud-native patterns, start to finish, within 10 months, ensuring that it was ready for the holiday season. An active member of the Albertsons cultural and employee engagement committee, Lasne played a major role in organizing the company’s annual holiday and Christmas event.

Belynda Pedro

IT Senior Manager, Albertsons Cos.

Pedro played a critical role as the program manager for the company’s excellence and efficiency program, operated locally but with global IT impact. Under her leadership, her team operationalized financial report distribution per period across all departments, allowing all leaders to review their financial health with budget versus actual expense data, as well as their standing against their respective efficiency targets. A supporter of Family Life Ministers under Campus Crusade International and Elevate Ministries, Pedro has served as a mentor and coach to various women for the past seven years.


Tambrina (Tammy) Link

Bakery Operations Specialist, Albertsons Cos.

Angela Moore

Director, Shopper Marketing, National Events, Albertsons Cos.

Link oversaw the bakery department operations and execution of marketing programs in 20 stores spread over a 200-mile region, and functioned as the bakery department subject-matter expert for store directors in her geographic area.

Moore’s efforts led to continued national-event success totaling more than $4 billion in sales and $100 million-plus in incremental sales; she optimized and improved these critical events, and overdelivered on expectations for all of them.

Her stores outperformed the rest of the division in identicalsales growth by nearly 450 basis points, on top of just about 4% growth the prior year, making it a more than 8% two-year stack.

She also led the national-event division planning and budgeting process for the year.

Link and a team of bakery managers kept stores in the Napa/Sonoma, Calif., area stocked during the wildfires and power outages there.

Darcie Renn

Director of Sustainability, Albertsons Cos.

Renn led the internal Plastics and Packaging Task Force, an interdisciplinary group that developed Albertsons’ Plastics Pledge with a bold vision for the company’s leadership stance on an issue of growing global importance. She guided the development of a legislative tracking tool to enable the company to better track, communicate and strategically respond to a rising number of hyperlocal plastic and packaging regulations across the nation. A member of the Food Marketing Institute sustainability executive committee, Renn also co-chairs Albertsons Cos.’ Green Team board.

Moore developed and implemented an innovative automated in-store customer-experience mapping tool allowing the company to better organize in-store messaging to reduce clutter and drive sales by enhancing the customer shopping experience.

Sally Robinson Senior Manager, Data Governance, Fresh, Albertsons Cos.

An industry leader in perishable and store-created item management, Robinson was integral in the development of a new process and a new software, Optiva, to enable compliance with emerging federal menu-labeling laws. She was an instrumental part of the company’s store-created item setup optimization initiative over the past year. Robinson has assumed leadership roles on the following important projects: GS1, the menu-labeling laws/compliance committee, enterprise data clean-up, shrink (fresh-item data) and nutritional ingredients.


Allison (Allie) Neiderhauser

Director of Food Safety and Safety, Albertsons Cos.

Neiderhauser created a new Go Green program that recognized store teams for exceptional performance in the areas of food safety and sanitation; being a global thinker, she also shared her concept with other divisions, where it’s currently being adopted and implemented. Her safety recognition efforts inspired teams to create a culture of working safely, and as a result, the Portland division has seen four successive quarters of reductions in accidents. Neiderhauser was a recipient of Albertsons’ Best Overall Quality Award in 2016 and Best Bread Quality Award in 2017.

Amber Ross

Floral Operations Specialist, Albertsons Cos.

Responsible for supporting 51 Albertsons and Tom Thumb floral departments across two districts in the Southern division, Ross led her stores to the best results in the entire division for all of 2019, with a sales increase of more than $92,861. The winner of multiple division contests, she was always willing to help other departments with holiday or grand-opening merchandising ideas. Ross volunteers with the Nancy Lieberman Charities, an organization committed to promoting and developing healthy lifestyles and educational opportunities for young girls and boys.

today, you’re the star

Meijer congratulates the top women in grocery, including our own.

Lynette Ackley • Jackie Adams • Lisa Barrett • Dawn Caustrita • Cathy Cooper Lana DenHarder • Lisa Evans • Emily Lynch • Jackie Morse • Angie Muckridge YaSonda Rodgers • Tracey Simon • Dessie Szklany

RISING STARS 1.800.306.1071

Congr u


o s n i m o N on ir s n m v c i in

Melissa Seita

Food Safety/QA Analytics Manager, Albertsons Cos.

Seita played a key role in the development and implementation of the retail-facing analytical dashboard Metrics that Matter to provide key focus and direction on food safety. Her modern approach, along with her attention to detail and ownership of data, helped drive food safety results in a positive direction across multiple key performance indicators. Seita participates in an array of local grass-roots organizations in the community surrounding her family’s restaurants, among them youth sports organizations, youth theater, local reading programs and public-school student incentive programs.

Erica Tabler

Manager, Front End Operations, Albertsons Cos.

Tabler reduced customer complaints by 83%, and created a new reporting, training and follow-up process for cash shortages that resulted in a 33% reduction in that area. On her own initiative, she reached out to vendors to compare reusable bag/tote products and prices; Albertsons subsequently rolled out new bag items with Californian and Hawaiian themes that were projected to increase category sales by 50%, and boost gross margin to 60% to 70%. During the Public Safety Power Shut Down (PSPS) and Kincaid Fire, with more than 50 of Albertsons’ California stores affected, Tabler took on the role of a crisis response point person.

Primal Shah

Sourcing Director, Albertsons Cos.

Under Shah’s expert leadership, her team contributed nearly $10 million in cost savings, significantly exceeding her plan. She was instrumental in leading several Own Brands strategic initiatives, including the sourceof-supply transition of one of Albertsons’ major fresh categories. Shah’s guidance helped spur double-digit sales growth in key top-selling fresh categories by partnering with strategic suppliers to execute the company’s Own Brands sales plan; she quickly identified several innovation platforms that drove incremental sales, and was chosen as a primary leader for a fresh innovation growth platform.

Hannah Tovstein

Assistant Sales Manager, Spirits, Albertsons Cos.

Focusing on the allocated (limited-distribution) and rare spirits business to make Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions stores category destinations, Tovstein met with top suppliers and distributors and leveraged the size of the business to receive allocated items that the banners had not previously procured and sold. These allocations delivered $250,000-plus in incremental sales and helped boost customer loyalty and repeat business. Tovstein chairs and helps plan fundraising activities for the Network of Executive Women (NEW) scholarship program for the Christermon Foundation, a nonprofit beverage alcohol industry organization.


Cheryl Whinihan Sales Manager, Deli/Foodservice/ Starbucks, Albertsons Cos.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Amber Armstrong

Assistant General Merchandise Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Acme

Whinihan’s division was the first to test and roll out online ordering platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub, and it was the pilot division for Albertsons’ endeavor with meal-kit company Plated, taking the idea from a concept to execution in stores.

Armstrong led Acme to 11 No. 1 finishes in Albertsons’ national contests, thanks to her aggressive ordering and encouragement of the operations team to build massive displays and push for profitable sales.

She also served on many task forces to help shape the future of deli/foodservice, including those dedicated to meals, menu-labeling regulatory standards, and weights and measures.

Her efforts caused Acme to become the No. 1 fastest-growing U.S. grocer for Kind Bars; through the end of 2019, absolute dollar growth in Kind Bars was $387,000-plus.

Whinihan made sure that during the California fires and public safety power outages, the company’s stores, communities and first responders had readyto-eat fresh food available.

Armstrong’s planning and communication led to a 5.2% total fourth-quarter sales increase in her respective categories; year to date, these sales held strong at 2.89%.

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

Tina Browen

Director, IT Services, Albertsons Cos./ Acme

Cressman led her team and division through significant change in regard to the on-time integration of company-standard information technology solutions. She additionally guided numerous teams through the conversion of 167 networks, point-ofsale solutions and all back-office solutions. Cressman was instrumental in Acme’s transition to in-house infrastructure and software systems, a move that affected essentially every piece of technology in all of the banner’s stores and the division office, at the same time building a team to provide hardware services.

Director of Marketing, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Browen worked with the VP of marketing and merchandising to oversee ad creation, social media expansion and relevance, as well as the in-store marketing and signage aspect of the business. She developed a comprehensive inside and outside marketing campaign to rethink the current ad strategy, creating a functional four-tab ad and simultaneously launching the new Just 4 U loyalty application. Browen managed to build vendor relationships and blanket the Chicagol metropolitan area with partnering billboards, a strategy that increased social media impressions by more than 3 million weekly.

Sarah Kelley

Assistant Sales Manager, Bakery and Starbucks, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Jankauskis led a refresh of Jewel-Osco’s entertaining program, including its brochure and procedures; she researched potential items that could be added to the program through an analysis of the menus of both competing retailers and other Albertsons divisions.

Excelling at job training and mentoring, Kelley adapted quickly in her handling of the Starbucks brand, and was recognized by the corporate Starbucks team for all of her efforts in driving sales and supporting the Starbucks brand in stores.

She also created a defined deli tray program for the division’s e-commerce program, which features delivery truck-friendly trays and packaging.

She helped drive sales over the prior year through her communication and training ,and as a result achieved four straight quarters of positive identical-store sales of 13% to 16%.

Jankauskis identified and corrected discrepancies that inflated shrink by $50,000 per period, her efforts contributing greatly to a 2.85% department sales increase and a 1.4% market share lift.

Patricia Cressman

C O N G R AT U L AT I O N S To the 2020 Top Women in Grocery!

Kelley was involved in coordinating a golf charity event with District 9, raising money for local food banks and other local charitable organizations that help the less fortunate.



2020 Top Women in Grocery Jaime Patel

Assistant Sales Manager, GMHBC, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Patel’s meticulous attention to the vendor-funding portion of Jewel-Osco’s profit and loss resulted in the recovery of more than $300,000 in funding. She collaborated with Albertsons’ director of analytics to redevelop the category pricing tools that support its companies, working as part of the testing team tasked with debugging the tools and providing feedback. Patel served as the lead on the development of a report on the sell-through by SKU effectiveness on components of monthly planner displays; this report has increased sales and margins on monthly promotional programs, as well as improving stores’ efficiency in writing orders.

Sarah Stolz

Manager of Pharmacy Field Services, HIV and Specialty Medications, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Stolz took on the role of manager of field services/HIV and specialty medications, managing and expanding the retailer’s approach to clinical services specifically focused on the condition. She became an expert in the field, earning credentials as an HIV pharmacist (AAHIVP) from the American Academy of HIV Medicine, and developed 16 HIV center-of-excellence stores. Stolz developed relationships with the following HIV organizations: TPAN (Test Positive Awareness Network) Chicago, Center on Halsted, the Will County Health Department, Open Door Health and Agape Missions.


Nikole Powell

North Area Recruiter, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Responsible for executing on all hiring initiatives regarding store management and department manager hiring, Powell successfully implemented the Jewel-Osco scholarship program, fielding more than 100 applications to select 30 top-talent future store director candidates. Her execution of the summer intern program yielded 25 candidates to resolve key business issues while gaining on-the-job store management experience. Powell works with such local groups as the Cook County Workforce, the Chicago Jesuit Academy, Kennedy-King and Washburne Culinary to supplement hiring and diversity initiatives in key locations.

Mary Frances Trucco

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

Managing the Jewel-Osco Foundation and overseeing seven register campaigns, Trucco increased charitable partnerships by 40% via social media awareness to more than 600 applications annually. She lobbied local lawmakers to ensure that collective-bargaining agreement carve-outs were added to legislation affecting Jewel-Osco in regard to such issues as restrictive scheduling and sick leave. Trucco is an active participant in the division Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network, and regularly volunteers at many local food banks.

Tina Schmitz

District Pharmacy, Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

In close collaboration with her pharmacy managers and teams, Schmitz was able to achieve outstanding metrics from April 2019 to March 2020, including improvements in prescription identical sales of 4.8% and in identical sales of 1.9%. Her combined districts administered 36,000 flu shots, a 19.6% increase over the prior year. Schmitz worked with the manager of specialty medications/field services to develop a program dedicated to HIV patient care, creating 16 center-of-excellence stores in the Chicagoland market; prescriptions just from HIV medications increased 20% and sales grew 32%, or $1.419 million, over the prior year.

Rebecca Young

Districts 6 and 8 AR and HR Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Young recruited more than 15 top-talent managers (store directors, assistant store directors and department managers) away from key competitors, and guided 3,000-plus unique employee discipline cases to resolution. She partnered with her three district managers to coach, train and develop more than 70 internal candidates for promotion to key store management roles. Young volunteers at the Northwest Indiana Food Bank and a thrift store benefiting Christian education, as well as teaching Sunday school; she’s also an active participant in the division Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network.


Alura Stewart

Center Store Operations Specialist-D4, Albertsons Cos./ Jewel-Osco

Stewart beat banner identical sales across dry grocery, dairy, frozen, liquor and GMHBC by 50 basis points for three consecutive quarters in 2019. She lowered district center store shrink levels by 55 basis points compared with the prior year – well ahead of banner improvements in 2019 – and promoted seven key associates within the district to top store leadership positions. Having created the best pipeline for development in the supermarket chain, including female leadership development, Stewart is a member of Albertson’s Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network.

Mariko Lee

NOSHE Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ NoCal Division

Lee was chosen as the quarterback for the division’s key initiative in 2019-20: the conversion of Andronico’s/ Safeway premium and ultra-premium stores. When she and a vendor were tasked with closing a $1.1 million gap on Pringles in the salty snacks category, her stellar efforts resulted in double-digit category growth. A former chair of the Safeway Asian Network at Albertsons, Lee found time to partner with the Hispanic Network to develop a leadership learning workshop, and to participate in CAAEN (California Asian American Employee Network) as a mentor and coach for young leaders.


Hala Corral

Service Deli Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ Portland Division

Heading all service deli categories and Starbucks for the Portland division, Corral was tasked with increasing sales, units, total gross dollars and market share, as well as with developing marketing and merchandising plans. She boosted total deli market share by 4.6%; renovated the entire meal solution category for a 5% lift, which led to her selection to the company’s national task force for prepared meals; and piloted a new rotisserie chicken package that uses three times less plastic. Corral played a key role in the launch of the Portland division’s Women’s Network Group, and was chosen for the USC Food Industry Executive Program.

Susan Covarrubias

Assistant Grocery Sales Manager, Albertsons Cos./ SoCal/Southwest Division

Covarrubias managed the cookies, crackers, soup, pasta, pasta sauce, canned fruit and vegetable categories for 338 Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions stores in her market. She grew sales 3.98% and improved market share in categories representing more than three-fourths of her total volume, and she helped Albertsons become the first U.S. retailer to integrate Tate’s Bake Shoppe Cookies on Mondelez trucks, growing sales by more than 70%. Covarrubias volunteers with American Red Cross and the Southern California Refrigerated & Frozen Council.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Jodi Gongora

Director of Alaska Distribution, Albertsons Cos./ Seattle Division

Confronted with such daunting logistical challenges as weather, delayed arrival of cargo and shipping freight via plane to rural Alaska, Gongora met all obstacles head-on. When the J.B. Gottstein team began servicing the Stuaqpak store in remote Barrow, Alaska, she played a vital role in the location’s success, getting freight flown in from Anchorage and delivered to the its shelves, assisting with cleaning and improvements at the store, and ensuring that the soft grand opening hit $85,000 in sales. She also managed a large capital project to repair earthquake damage at her facility.

Jenny Crandall Director, Front End Operations, Albertsons Cos./ SoCal/Southwest Division

Driving customer experiences and supporting employee initiatives and training, Crandall grew income at 339 retail locations in Southern California, the largest division of Albertsons Cos. She helped reduce cash losses, introduced new self-checkouts in 95 stores, created a customer excellence video, launched a new uniform program and prioritized in-store fundraising. Crandall serves on the board of Fighting for Families and gives her time to Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics; she’s also a member of Women in Leadership and is working to complete Western Association of Food Chains certification.

Nancy Kubilus

Teresa Benson

Sales and Merchandising Manager, Nonperishable, Albertsons Cos./ Shaw’s

Director of E-Commerce, Albertsons Cos./ SoCal/Southwest Division

A 35-year employee who joined the e-commerce team in 2018, Benson headed up e-commerce home delivery and drive-up-and-go operations in a division with significant physical geography.

A nationally recognized expert in the natural, organic, specialty, healthy and ethnic categories, Kubilus outpaced total company growth in all of her categories. Although a fiercely competitive negotiator, she is known as a fair partner who delivers on her promises and works with niche suppliers to get their products into stores. Kubilus participates annually in the Pan Mass Challenge to raise money for pediatric cancer, coordinates the store’s participation in Boston’s First Responders race to support the police and fire departments, and is involved with the Nantucket Island Food Pantry.

Julie Field

District Manager, Albertsons Cos./ SoCal/Southwest Division

Heading a team of store directors and operations specialists, Field was charged with maximizing sales and profits, ensuring that all division goals are met and conducting performance management and leader development. Having completed the Food Industry Management Program at USC Marshall School of Business, she was promoted to her current role in October 2019 and since that time has achieved all division metrics. Field is a member of Network of Executive Women (NEW) and the Southern California division’s Women in Leadership Network, and has served on a local PTA board for five years.

She deployed a five-shift model in all delivery stores and introduced more than 20 new drive up-and-go store locations, sharing best practices with an action plan to manage out-ofstocks to a goal of below 3%. Before joining the e-commerce group, Benson won SoCal division leadership recognition for leading labor metric improvements. Away from work, she volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and Special Olympics.

Kora Rush

Director of Supply Chain, Albertsons Cos./United

Known as an innovative and highly capable leader, Rush helped launch merchandising initiatives to add more natural and organic products to the stores under her purview to boost that growing part of the retail business. She co-led the development of a vendor portal, a collaboration that was vitally important to the strategic vision of the company and is expected to result in improved item management, efficiency and labor savings. Rush’s focus on creative ways to collaborate with the retail merchandising team resulted in a 40% reduction in slow-moving items at the distribution center, and a shrink reduction of more than 20% last year.




2020 Top Women in Grocery Dylana Silver

Director of Marketing, Alpha 1 Marketing, an affiliate of Krasdale Foods Inc.

Silver partnered with the Brooklyn Nets in conjunction with Noches Latinas for a six-week on-court promotion honoring Krasdale Foods store owners as standout Hispanic entrepreneurs. Her focus on digital efforts helped engage and grow the stores’ target audiences, increasing CTown and Bravo web traffic by 20%. She launched and continued to grow Krasdale Foods’ community outreach program, which focuses on food rescue initiatives in the metro New York area; every year, Krasdale partners with the New York Yankees on the team’s annual holiday food drive and food voucher giveaway.

Andrea Wing

Associate Project Manager, Customer Strategic Solutions, C&S Wholesale Grocers

The Work Force Management control system that Wing developed allowed C&S’ customer service network to meet high-demand service-level goals during significant disruption events. She optimized contact center schedules to reduce overtime and temp labor, saving more than $100,000 annually. Wing’s incentive-based attendance program, created to reduce absenteeism, raise the company’s Organizational Health Index score and bolster customer service group morale, is on track to reduce absenteeism by 20% by the end of this year.


Barb Spears

Senior Director, Sales, American Greetings

Spears transformed American Greetings’ marketing strategy at Albertsons into a highly focused “Always on 360” direct-to-consumer approach. With the new tools Spears gave her client, Albertsons was now able to mine customer greeting-card purchasing behavior and provide highly customized direct-to-consumer offers, including demand-creation triggers, pre-shop offers and instore prompts. This strategic shift has significantly transformed Albertsons’ American Greetings business, resulting in an increase of about 2% in units. Spears has a leadership role in American Greetings’ events for leading trade associations.

Michaela Downes

Director, E-commerce Customer Management, Coca-Cola Consolidated Inc.

To design a strategy for e-commerce click-and-collect/ home delivery options, Downes collaborated across the company on a digital store survey whose results helped her company take an omnichannel approach. When she identified a gap between in-store and online assortment for one customer, she worked with the retailer’s third-party content provider to refresh and rationalize assortment. Downes led company-sponsored projects for graduate and undergraduate college classes.

Megan Moriarty Floral Category Manager, Big Y Foods Inc.

By introducing new trends, seasonal offerings, and improving sourcing and pricing, Moriarty increased floral sales by 7.6% and lowered the overall cost of product by 3.7% without sacrificing high quality standards and freshness appeal.


Ashleigh Endicott

Banner Supervisor, Brookshire Grocery Co. (BCG)

Endicott worked with vendor partners and BCG’s category management team on storewide programs and events that delivered strong results and double-digit increases.

Partnering with her supply vendor, she introduced a new corsage and boutonniere program using pre-assembled backings, which led to increased sales and a decrease of in-store labor; she also worked with a local family-owned supplier to create a Garden Center Shrub and Nursery program.

Her week-long Taste of Italy event, featuring an Italian chef and master sommelier and exclusive, invitation-only dining extravaganzas for top shoppers, received a National Grocers Association Creative Choice Award. She teamed with breweries and vendor partners on an educational in-store tasting that led to double-digit sales increases.

Moriarty created and launched Big Y Cares Bloom, a program that supports local charities with each bouquet purchased.

As strategic director for BGC Racing, Endicott coordinates two annual races, which have raised more than $1 million for charities.

Alyssa Spain

Shopper Marketing Manager II, Coca-Cola Consolidated Inc.

With the help of her strategic programs, Spain’s four retailer accounts delivered more than 33 million cases of Coca-Cola products. She connected Coca-Cola Consolidated with the Charlotte Hornets, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Food Lion Feeds organization to provide 4,000plus people with a take-home Thanksgiving meal that included a Sprite 2-liter bottle, driving brand excitement and incremental growth. Spain facilitated a goods drive for the Dove’s Nest organization at Coca-Cola Consolidated’s corporate headquarters.

Colby Stinnette Customer Development Manager, Coca-Cola Consolidated Inc.

Stinnette grew positive share growth in 11 of 19 beverage categories while maintaining margin requirements for her customers and Coca-Cola bottlers. Her total portfolio of customers delivered $12.5 million in revenue in 2019, following two consecutive years of positive volume and dead net, gross profit growth. Stinnette takes part in Selfless Saturdays, a monthly day on which volunteers supply the homeless with food, clothing and shower facilities, and supports Generosity Global to provide people around the world greater access to clean water.

Congratulates our Top Women in Grocery!

Kimberly Biertempfel

Kimberly Mack

April Richardson

Rising Star

Rising Star

Senior-level Executive

Brand Manager, GIANT & MARTIN’S

Brand Manager, Digital Strategy & Media

Center Store Sales Manager


2020 Top Women in Grocery Erienne Keefe

Account Executive III, Coca-Cola North America

Director, Analytics and Insights, Crossmark

Natalie Runyan

Director, Headquarter Sales and Marketing, Crossmark

Keefe received the Coca-Cola North America Best of the Best Award, presented to the top-performing account executives in the company, and also won the Coca-Cola Large Store West Iterative award for her customer-focused contributions.

Reyes worked closely with the sales team to identify and resolve category management opportunities for Kimberly-Clark that helped Crossmark overdeliver on net sales targets for its client and grow dollar share for 10 brands.

She has earned a reputation for strong leadership and persistence in managing dynamic and challenging accounts, and successfully partnering with the bottling system.

She led the onboarding of Clorox and exceeded expectations by developing a full reporting suite for the Crossmark Clorox sales organization in less than four weeks.

In her role of president of the Crossmark Network of Women group, she increased membership and participation, and developed a robust steering committee with subcommittees for networking, fundraising and leadership development.

Keefe has been instrumental in helping raise more than $100,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society through her husband’s Joshua Seed charity pub-crawl fundraiser, named in honor of her late brother.

Reyes conducted the first Crossmark Now fundraising events in support of members’ personal development programs, and led the company’s partnership with Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support.

Runyan was instrumental in developing opportunities for Network of Women, including monthly mentoring sessions and webinars, and fundraising for various educational and empowerment events.

Ashley Eisenbeiser

Senior Director, Food and Product Safety Programs, FMI-The Food Industry Association

Eisenbeiser was instrumental in providing status updates to members during outbreaks of foodborne illnesses related to romaine lettuce. She formulated FMI’s response to the issue and issued communications for members to comply with the government’s request to pull all romaine from commerce. She serves on the labeling subcommittee of the Romaine/ Food Safety Taskforce, which promotes consistent voluntary labeling for greater transparency. Eisenbeiser’s work helps ensure the integrity of the Food Handler Certificate Program.


Maricela Reyes

Laura Miller

Senior Manager, Retail Inventory Systems, Giant Eagle

Miller created the fresh item manager role, which serves as the lead on key fresh departments across all retail locations. Transforming store-level fresh inventory management practices helped drive sales by 3.95 % and increased gross margin dollars. She led her team to develop a new tool for leaders to efficiently manage key performance indicators and coaching sessions. Through the Women’s Business Resource Group at Giant Eagle, Miller created a new company event that brought together executives and team members to raise donations for the United Way campaign.

Runyan created a biweekly newsletter for her clients and her internal team that has since become a vital tool for more effective alignment.

Lauren Furr

Manager of Service, Training, Front End Operations and Recruiting, Harris Teeter

Along with her team of seven, Furr introduced daily huddle training, a move that increased service measurements to an alltime high score. She led her team’s stores to raise more than $800,000 for the USO, part of $1.7 million raised, and sits on the Fred J. Morganthall board, which dispenses funds to Harris Teeter associates to relieve financial hardships that result from sudden and unforeseen circumstances. Furr piloted the Snag Work platform with Snagajob to fill shift gaps with hardworking associates, a program that’s now expanding to five more stores.


Lucy Nicholls Director of Marketing, Eversight

Nicholls researched industry needs and built and executed an industry event on that topic for more than 35 senior leaders in the CPG/retail revenue management space, working with an external web developer to create and launch a microsite for the event. She redesigned Eversight’s corporate website and launched an updated company website; the process included everything from actual website design and functionality to product messaging and resources. Nicholls revitalized corporate messaging, which included redefining Eversight’s voice and story, and supporting cross-functional use of updated messaging.

Danna Robinson Communications Manager, Harris Teeter

Robinson transitioned the company’s point-of-sale charitable program to round-up functionality, which increased its donations at the register by 61% to organizations such as JDRF, the USO, United Way and Feeding America. Taking the lead on the company’s presenting sponsorship of the Cooper River Bridge Run, she coordinated vendor partners, managed the company presence at the event expo and delivered remarks on race day. Robinson received approval for I.S. Project, which will streamline donation tracking at the store level and roll out a perishable donation program company-wide.


Tracy Bliss

Director-Beauty Procurement and Merchandising, H-E-B

Bliss developed a new beauty format for H-E-B unlike any seen in the grocery industry before, with more than 600 trained in-store beauty advisors and in-store product demonstrations. She exceeded industry results by developing a deep understanding of the customer, the industry and the manufacturers, while also understanding the current landscape and forecasting future trends.

Drug Store News named Bliss one of its Top Women in Health, Wellness and Beauty in 2019, and she was selected to participate in the H-E-B Accelerating Leadership Capabilities program for rising stars.

Amanda Rutter Category Consultant, The Hershey Co.

Providing actionable shopper insights and category-centric recommendations across confection, baking and milk modifiers, Rutter worked closely with internal teams at Hershey, as well as category and grocery sales managers. As soon as she assumed a category management role, she turned around a relationship with a retail customer that wasn’t going well due to turnover, and quickly won back “seasonal advisorship” with the customer. Rutter completed an analysis and rebuild in the candy aisle with a new shelving configuration she proactively provided, leading to 15% to 18% productivity lifts.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Amber Cenci

Senior ManagerCategory ManagementMidwest/West Region, The Hershey Co.

Previously a member of the strategic revenue growth management (SRGM) team, Cenci was promoted in June 2019. With SRGM, she implemented a tool enabling Hershey teams to analyze the success/ROI for promotional activity more efficiently, and she created onboarding and training plans for her role and her direct reports’ roles. One of Cenci’s first strategic projects in her new position was expanding the confection aisle to increase category and total store sales; three retailers implemented full rollouts or tests before year end, with much more interest since then.

Casey Roberts Director, Floral, Hy-Vee Inc.

Roberts played an integral role in the remodeling and rebranding of Hy-Vee’s floral departments, in place at nine stores so far and featuring a modern farmhouse theme; she also changed the assortment to a wider selection of fresh arrangements and included an expanded cooler for more graband-go options. Mentoring is a key focus as she shows employees new floral design techniques while also teaching the operational side of the business. Since the rebrand, overall floral department sales at the remodeled stores have grown by more than 233% from the previous year.

Angelica Glass

Sandita McDermott

Customer Sales Executive-Kroger Divisions, The Hershey Co.

Glass manages 33% of Hershey’s Kroger volume, laying a foundation for how each division can succeed with period programming and incremental merchandising; she also redefined annual joint-business planning, which will deliver approximately $5 million in 2020 for two divisions. Building a story for continuous confection space expansion with each of her divisions, she netted an additional eight SKUs and 650 secondary fixtures that will deliver more than $3 million in 2020. Hershey honored her as top district sales manager and as a lead for the company’s twice-yearly conference for its top performers.

Caroline Zack

Customer Sales Executive-Kroger Divisions, The Hershey Co.

Handling 30% of Hershey’s Kroger volume, McDermott placed more than 697 permanent secondary fixtures, resulting in an incremental $8 million for her West Coast divisions. Kroger reduced Fred Meyer’s Hershey summer season and s’mores business by 52%, but McDermott’s winning recommendations resulted in new programing that drove its POS sales by more than $2.5 million. This year, McDermott became the co-chair of the Portland, Ore., Network of Executive Women (NEW) and facilitated a Dress for Success event for a local women’s shelter; she also supported a children’s hospital in Utah.

Sara Baldwin

Director of Execution Excellence, Insignia Systems

Finance Senior Manager, K-VA-T Food Stores d/b/a Food City

None of the company’s 1 million activities for brands and retailers each year goes to market without being subject to Zack’s creative eye and organizational prowess. When promoted to her new role in early 2019, Zack quickly got to work implementing standard operating procedures across the supply chain, and weekly meetings with critical-stage partners. Zack used her retail experience to evolve the company’s merchandise display platform and develop a new Insignia display process, leading to compliance rates of up 90% and earning the Top Display Company of 2019 award from Creative magazine.

Baldwin’s responsibilites included preparing the annual budget in consultation with the executive, merchandising and operations teams; tracking and reporting incentive-plan metrics; and being an integral part of the monthly forecast. She implemented a new Oracle forecasting system, led the charge on training and began detailed labor reporting. As project manager for the retail Opportunity Stores project, she helped selected stores improve their bottom lines by $1.5 million An FMI Food Retail Leader, Baldwin is also the administrator of the FMI Finance & Administration Share Group.




2019 Top Women in Grocery Rachelle Radcliffe

Director, Brand Development, KeHE

Radcliffe launched trend lounges for keto, sustainability, health and wellness, and pet at the KeHE Summer Show, and showcased leadership through her involvement in Chicagoland Food & Beverage, the KeHE Elevate Learning Session, and the New Supplier Summit. After graduating from KeHE’s Rising Star Program, which readies talent for leadership positions, she was promoted in May 2019 to director of category management and accepted into KeHE’s Aspiring Program. She secured more than $500,000 in advertising and promotional support to help brands in the marketplace, which was 7% over budget.

Nina Lerner

Director, Data Science-Statistical Learning, The Kroger Co./84.51

Lerner is highly involved in education in the community, volunteering at a library with STEM-based activities for children, developing the curriculum for a “night of learning,” acting as a member of the schools committee of her religious organization and petitioning the local district to reduce class sizes. At work, she overhauled the Customer Dimension Segmentations program and established the vision and methodology of the Household Segmentation Factory, while creating efficiencies through automation of code. Lerner won the Kroger Extraordinary Contribution Award for developing the Agatha platform and the Kroger Equity Grant.

Michelle Morrisey

Division CFO, The Kroger Co./ Atlanta Division

Morrisey administered the division’s financial plan for a $6.6 billion sales goal in 2019 and a net profit goal of $163 million, and she implemented a new audit process, leading to travel expenses and administrative expenses better than budget. A member of the Network of Executive Women (NEW) Atlanta Chapter and the Georgia Food Industry Association, she was also directly involved with her division’s Our Promise team. Ensuring the development and training of the financial services staff, Morrisey facilitated her analyst’s promotion to a more senior role, and worked to help her administrative assistant understand accounting procedures.


Stacey Robinson

Center Store Coordinator, The Kroger Co./ Atlanta Division

Robinson served on the Division Customer Experience Fundamental Team as the merchandising expert, having a direct impact on 90 stores that went through the process. Assumed her new role in October 2019, she led the grand reopening of two Kroger stores through merchandising and associate training. Participating on a committee to help Fred Meyer and Kroger buying teams merge, she helped reduce redundancy and increase efficiency. In Atlanta, where the commercial exploitation of children is high, Robinson and members of her family volunteer for Street Grace as part of the effort to help eradicate sex trafficking.



2019 Top Women in Grocery

Marie Pettijohn

Pettijohn’s oversight of 16 stores includes proper use of display space; training managers in proper ordering and execution of the sales plan; ensuring compliance with federal, state and local laws; and supporting food safety and sanitation best practices. She began 2019 as district operations manager, and in August was selected for a special eight-week assignment as district manager to engage with stores regarding merchandising plans; her district won. Kroger selected Pettijohn for the District Leadership Academy, and she serves as the division chair for the African American Associate Resource Group.

Shannon Winrow

Tracy Wilczynski

District Center Store Coordinator, The Kroger Co./ Cincinnati-Dayton Division

District Associate and Customer Experience Coordinator, The Kroger Co./ Columbus Division

Overseeing the human resources functions for 21 stores, Wilczynski championed increased engagement with new hires and reduced the district’s annual turnover by more than 8% for the second year in a row. She held contract language training classes and helped improve employee relations through the discipline/grievance process to help decrease grievance payouts by more than $10,000. Helping build associate knowledge and leadership skills, Wilczynski aided the promotions of 10 assistant store leaders to store leaders, and nine store leaders to higher-volume stores.

Andrea Martinez

Division E-commerce Manager, The Kroger Co./ Columbus Division

Tasked with growing the division’s e-commerce business, Winrow improved fill rate without substitutions, decreased late orders and opened more time slots to fill more orders, resulting in 31% sales growth. She improved retention in the e-commerce department by 24% versus the prior year and implemented successor planning for all potential supervisor and lead candidates; as part of the division’s Bench Program, she helped develop aspiring store leaders. During Kroger’s “no fee” promotion over the winter holidays, Winrow’s team achieved record-breaking sales.

Division Talent and Development Manager, The Kroger Co./Dallas Division

Martinez streamlined hiring best practices across the division and partnered with operations and merchandising teams on a robust developmental training plan. She graduated from the Retail Management Certificate Program through El Centro College and was an advocate for the program, leading to a 90% increase in enrollment, and was also selected for the Enterprise Talent Acquisition Advisory board. Martinez is a member of the Marriott Foundation’s Bridges from School to Work Program, an advisory board member of the Western Association of Food Chains and a member of the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

Congratulations to our very own Rising Stars on being recognized as

2020 Top Women

in Grocery! Thank you for your leadership and passion for serving our customers.

Every day. Every way.

Chelsea Martin

Christen Heinsohn

Katy Reyering

Regional Director

Retail Store Support Director

Talent Development Partner



2019 Top Women in Grocery Amanda Martin Grocery Merchandising/ Sales Manager, The Kroger Co./ Delta Division

Misty Cavanaugh

Chelsea Cubero

Division Fuel Manager, The Kroger Co./ Dillons Division

Since her promotion at the beginning of 2019, Martin has helped turn around four consecutive quarters of negative identical sales to positive grocery sales for the remaining three quarters of the year.

The expert for 54 fuel centers, Cavanaugh exceeded goals by reviewing competition checks twice daily and adjusting based on what the market was doing, in addition to making any costing changes.

She developed a weekly sales plan allocation tool that has simplified communication among department leaders, and she completed the Dale Carnegie Immersion Course to improve her communication skills.

Her fuel center visits strengthened customer service and sanitation expectations, and weekly reporting and communication with fuel centers led to out-ofstock reduction and proper rotation and dating.

With a heart for helping children and families, Martin volunteers with Ronald McDonald House and Hope House Memphis, a local organization that aims to improve the quality of life of those affected by HIV and poverty.

Cavanaugh holds an elected position in the Daughters of the Nile Organization, serves on one of the United Way Grant Review Panels and is vice chair of the Reno County Food Policy Advisory Council.

Brenda Roeter

District Associate and Customer Experience Coordinator, The Kroger Co./ Fred Meyer Division

Recognizing a gap in meeting the needs of a principal Indian shopper, Cubero found a vendor that could provide expertise in such items for the Redmond, Wash., store, which subsequently experienced 420% growth in the category; QFC has reached out to the same vendor to do business as well. In her current role, she led the district merchandising team through five major store remodels and grand openings. Dedicated to her own professional development, Cubero was accepted into USC Marshall School of Business’ first-ever Food Industry Leadership Master’s Program.

Associate and Customer Engagement (ACE) Coordinator, The Kroger Co./ Fred Meyer Division

Roeter has been identified as a high-potential leader, with plans to be district manager within the next three to five years, and was selected for the inaugural Kroger Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program. As a member of the New Hire Experience Pilot, she worked with cross-functional teams throughout Kroger and the Disney Institute, and through her influence, new hires led the Fred Meyer division in training assessment completions. In the community, Roeter can be found doing volunteer work with children at Junior Achievement, and also at the Oregon Food Bank.


November 4-5, 2020 Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando, FL



Congratulations Linda Nordgren & Mariela Oetinger and all the Top Women in Grocery 2020

associates Global Sourcing Service Limited


2020 Top Women in Grocery Angela Cavazos Adult Beverage Sales Planner, The Kroger Co./ Fry’s Division

Cavazos developed a program for 50-milliliter spirits that generated $1.7 million in incremental revenue and gained 7% of Arizona’s total-market adult-beverage share. She created three social media raffle campaigns to generate excitement and drive bonus revenue, and revamped the rewards program with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns. Outside of her day job, Cavazos is an active member of the Arizona Food Marketing Association; serves on the board of directors for Florence Crittendon, which is focused on changing girls’ lives; and volunteers with her sons at local food banks.

Holly Adrien

E-commerce Business ManagerHBC, The Kroger Co./Merchandising

Adrien aligned with brick-and-mortar leadership on a new path forward for digital merchandising, ensuring a sound foundation for pickup, delivery and shipping, with the team refocusing on imagery, product detail pages and site content. For 2020, she created Kroger’s digital HBC strategy, co-created the Vitacost merchandising strategy and assisted in the fresh digital strategy. Adrien volunteered as a panel member representing Network of Executive Women (NEW) and Kroger for a mentorship with Miami University students to speak about women in businessand ways to manage their careers.


J.J. Mattison

Deli/Bakery Merchandiser, The Kroger Co./ Fry’s Division

Mattison launched an inspiring meal solution destination for customers to easily shop for and prepare meals at home, a commodity increasing by more than 24%, and worked to open a downtown Phoenix store with an optimized deli assortment driving nearly a quarter of total store sales. She implemented a strategic plan to drive sales with SKU optimization and focused on reducing waste in stores by advocating for the company’s perishable donation program. Shortly after graduating from the Kroger Leadership Academy, she was promoted from store manager to merchandiser.

Becky Diaz

Coordinator of Beauty Care, The Kroger Co./ Merchandising

Diaz partnered with asset protection to introduce new shrink policies for beauty, and created cosmetic standards that rolled out to Kroger’s divisions as part of the company’s customer experience campaign. She led the creation of the grocer’s Fresh Beauty concept stores, which were built in three months and launched in select stores. Diaz is involved with Cinderella’s Closet, a ministry organization that provides formal wear to girls who couldn’t otherwise attend their proms; in 2019, through Kroger’s Wellness Your Way event, she raised $20,000 for the organization.

Diana Victoriano

Senior Talent Acquisition Manager, The Kroger Co./ General OfficeCorporate HR

Victoriano created a talent acquisition community, the Careers with Promise marketing campaign, a partnership with Recruit Military, and The Big College Event at Duke Energy Center. Partnering with the Professional Diversity Network, she was able to increase candidate applications from 1,790 to 77,357 in only two quarters. A founding member of the Kroger Asian Associate Professional Group, Victoriano is a team leader for the American Heart Association fundraising event, a participant in Adopt-A-Class, and a board member of Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank.

Katy Greiner

National Coordinator of Wine and Spirits, The Kroger Co./ Merchandising

Leveraging her planning, communication and leadership skills, Greiner undertook the massive task of coordinating the launch of full-strength beer at King Soopers and Kroger stores in the states of Colorado and Kansas, respectively. She developed and implemented a customer-first beer-pricing program in the Ralphs divisio, which was able to move its sales, units and market share results from negative trends to growth for the first time in more than three years. Greiner is a certified Level 2 Cicerone in beer, one of only about 1,000 in the United States.


Marilyn Lema

Assistant Controller, The Kroger Co./ Houston Division

Promoted from financial analyst, Lema spearheaded several financial reporting classes to teach future leadership teams, in addition to being an inaugural member of the division’s Young Professionals Associate Resource Group. She spends much of her time volunteering with such organizations as the Houston SPCA, The Beagle Freedom Project, Souper Bowl of Caring, Komen Race for the Cure, Texas Children’s Hospital and Latinas in Leadership. Kroger has often called on Lema to promote the company to its multicultural/Hispanic demographic in the news media, particularly in regard to the Nuro self-driving delivery car rollout.

Ban George

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

George worked diligently alongside the United Food Commercial Workers union to provide more than 6,500 biometric health screenings to improve the health and wellness of Michigan Kroger associates. She surpassed the goal of 1,800 free cholesterol screenings by providing 1,813 such screenings to the public during February to support American Heart Month. An immigrant from Iraq fluent in English, Arabic and Chaldean, George helps Kroger connect with the United States’ largest Chaldean/Arab American community, in southeast Michigan.


Stephanie SpanglerOpdyke

Division Human Resources Leader, The Kroger Co./ Michigan Division


2020 Top Women in Grocery Sabrina Powell Division Expense, Sanitation and Sustainability Manager, The Kroger Co./ Nashville Division

Spangler-Opdyke pioneered several now standard concepts within the division, such as the Back Stock Card process enabling associates to efficiently manage back stock product, both slow- and fast-selling items.

On top of her daily duties, Powell devoted time to lead the Nashville division’s food waste recycling program, helping it improve food rescue by 86% and food waste recycling by 170.8% in 2019 versus 2018.

She led her team through a major shift in negotiating benefits for more than 1,8000 associates; all wages were increased, including starting wage, health and welfare benefits, and pensions.

She developed the Division Office Green Team, which introduced recycling and composting for the administrative office.

Spangler-Opdyke led seven Washtenaw County, Mich., Kroger stores in raising more than 1 million meals for the Rockin’ for Hungry Families in Need campaign over just five days.

Jo Anne Dibble Continuous Improvement Engineer 3, The Kroger Co./ Technology and Digital

On short notice, Dibble successfully planned and executed a workshop for 60-plus associates on the Cloud First program, involving the migration of applications to Microsoft Azure Cloud.

Powell is is a member of the Urban Green Lab Corporate Sustainability Roundtable, which meets periodically to review opportunities as well as share ideas to promote sustainability at other companies operating in Nashville, Tenn.

Theresa Lindholm

Brand Manager, Litehouse Inc.

While managing two new-to-thecompany product lines, Lindholm spearheaded the launch of Litehouse Cosmic Crisp apple cider, the first such beverage during the varietal’s inaugural year of harvest.

Engaged by the corporate marketing team to facilitate best-inclass future-state process work, she led the team to complete the work on a shorter timeline and with significant cost savings.

She laid the groundwork for nationwide retailer distribution of a new product line in 2020, including packaging design and a brand website, along with running several cross-promotions throughout the year.

Dibble led annual ArtsWave and United Way fundraising campaigns and worked with a local Adopt a Class program, among other Kroger-sponsored volunteer opportunities.

Inspired by Lindholm’s grassroots food bank donation collections, a company-wide campaign resulted in the donation of tens of thousands of dollars and 16,000plus pounds of food.

Stacy Doyle

Ann Fedder

Pharmacy VP, The Kroger Co./ Roundy’s Division

Doyle led the highly complex Shopko acquisition, assuring the ongoing care of thousands of households in central Wisconsin, and directed the rollout of the Rx Savings Club. She introduced a successful prescription growth plan to Illinois pharmacies to attract new patients, working with various partners to perform in-store sampling with the aim of gaining greater customer attention; as a result, Illinois pharmacy sales increased by 11.4% in 2019 versus 2018, and prescription count grew by 30%. The recipient of several industry honors, Doyle is a current active member of the Kenosha County Opioid Task Force.

Carol Henry

Accounting SVP/ Chief Accounting Officer, The Kroger Co./ Roundy’s Division

Fedder’s financial management expertise and keen oversight led to a division identical-store sales increase of 4.87% versus the prior year, leading all Kroger divisions, while EBITDA without fuel showed the second-best improvement in the enterprise from the prior year. Her teams’ weekly shrink reports allowed stores in the division to monitor their results on a more frequent basis, which resulted in significant shrink reductions across all categories. Fedder was instrumental in the development of an aggressive store-remodeling plan in fiscal 2019 for a total of 12 Wisconsin and Illinois stores.

Jackie Adams

Director of Human Resources, Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc. (Longo’s)

Director of HR Analytics, Meijer

Henry launched an employer brand strategy, aligned to the customer brand strategy, to tell the unique story of Longo’s culture to retain current employees and attract external candidates.

Adams led a $7 million technology implementation across Meijer’s finance, human resources and information technology departments, delivering it on time and on budget, with a focus on driving simplicity through scalability and flexibility.

She identified gaps in existing training tools and processes in Longo’s stores and implemented an online-learning platform to modernize the company’s approach to training.

She consolidated 26 separate HR IT applications into a single solution for all 70,000 associates on the same day, incredibly without any major disruptions to the business.

A member of the Employment Leadership Council of York, Henry was involved in the creation of a Food Retail Innovation Lab to help researchers better understand consumer decision-making and consumption habits.

Always eager to encourage her team to take part in Meijer’s volunteer and community-related events, Adams became involved in such programs as Simply Give, United Way, Kids’ Food Basket and Angel Tree.




2020 Top Women in Grocery Lisa Barrett

Manager, Branding and Packaging, Meijer

Barrett led the kickoff of a comprehensive fiveyear company sustainable-packaging strategy with goals to ensure that all Meijer own-brand packaging is recyclable, reusable, compostable or composed of 20% recycled material. She oversaw the design and redesign of 2,000 SKUs, including brand and packaging refreshes across several categories. Barrett is active in the Revive & Thrive Project, which supports individuals and their families dealing with serious illness by delivering free nutritious meals, and as a marketing support volunteer, as well as serving on the RunGR board as secretary.

Jackie Morse

Director, Specialty Pharmacy Services and Trade Relations, Meijer

Morse’s work and leadership resulted in Meijer Specialty Pharmacy achieving 30% year-over-year regional specialty pharmacy sales growth, thanks in large part to key payer partnerships and a best-in-class patient care model. Teams that she supervised helped secure more than $12 million in patient assistance funding, directly reducing customers’ out-of-pocket medication costs. An active member of the Michigan Pharmacists Association and an elected member of Ferris State University’s College of Pharmacy alumni advisory board, Morse has established a scholarship for student pharmacists.


Cathy Cooper

Senior Director, Community Partnerships and Corporate Giving, Meijer

To help boost the power of Meijer Sports Marketing, Cooper negotiated several new contracts, executed stadium branding, and worked with such events as the Meijer LPGA Classic, and collegiate sports for Big Ten schools in Meijer markets. She created sponsored admission (ticket sales and family days) for museums and zoos in several Midwestern cities, and produced back-to-college sponsored events for 22 universities and colleges in Meijer’s six-state region. Cooper managed appearances of The Grand Taste Food Truck, a Meijer-sponsored food truck, at 100 local community events.

YaSonda Rodgers

HR Market Manager (South ChicagoWestern), Meijer

Rodgers revitalized struggling units by empowering leaders to own their business and offering open-door communication; her leadership resulted in reduced employee relations issues and improved team member satisfaction, achieving the highest levels in her region. She also refreshed the internship program and provided vital assistance in the recruitment of young workers while creating robust and engaging projects that align with business objectives. Thanks to her work developing young leaders, half of those interns come back for subsequent internships or end up earning job offers from Meijer.

Lana DenHarder Manager, College Relations, Meijer

Thanks to DenHarder’s leadership, Meijer achieved a successful 2019 Internship Program and 2019-20 Campus Recruiting Campaign. She formed new relationships with colleges and universities, along with functional business-area partnerships, an effort that included documentation of roles and responsibilities, and the creation of intern marketing materials and videos. DenHarder and her son represented Meijer’s collaboration with Facebook in a successful back-to-school media campaign highlighting the work of special educators and their need for different school supplies.

Alison Pierce Brand Manager, Milo’s Tea Co.

Pierce oversaw and led a complete label redesign for all of the company’s products, managing a cross-functional team that included production, sales and marketing employees, all of them coming together to create new labeling and strategic positioning for the brand. She also played a vital role in performing the needed consumer research to gain fresh insights about families that tend to be loyal to the Milo’s brand. Under Pierce’s dogged leadership, Milo’s overtook the leading national brand of refrigerated tea by moving from the No. 2 position to become the best-selling tea in the United States, as determined by unit sales.


Lisa Evans

Buyer, Grocery/ DSD (Beer), Meijer

As Meijer’s first-ever female alcohol buyer, Evans exhibited skill in leadership, strategy and merchandising that resulted in 6% growth in the grocery store chain’s beer business in fiscal 2019, outpacing the broader market. She developed a strategic approach to assortment, pricing and promotion, including a 360-degree execution for marketing, ad and display. Evans also created specific timelines for assortment and promotional planning to include supplier proposals and forecasts; the fruits of that work became the foundation for executing the best options in the market.

Jennifer Glasco

Customer Marketing Manager, Molson Coors Beverage Co.

Glasco crafted and then led the omnichannel execution of several incremental solutions across divisions, work that helped the Albertsons team hit its volume plan. She promoted fresh ways of thinking about shopper media, and partnered with brand and media teams to execute Albertsons-specific media tests, in the process gaining insights that have informed the overall 2020 shopper media strategy. Glasco led the push to take a fresh look at how Molson Coors develops solutions for Albertsons, gaining internal alignment and helping to sell in this new approach to the customer.



2019 Top Women in Grocery Adriana Alvarado

Rachel Smith

National Sales Executive, Molson Coors Beverage Co.

Smith played an important role in planning the first Charlotte division distributor summits, with participation from all 17 distributors in the region. She delivered on her volume and share goals as Publix ended the year with a 2.4% increase in volume — 1.3 points ahead of the target — and her market share results improved 0.14 points year over year. Smith is a member of the committee that plans the Annual Special Olympics Florida Golf Classic, one of Publix’s biggest charity partnerships; Molson Coors is also a presenting sponsor of the event.

Sales Administration Leader, MPF Sales and Marketing LLC

Alvarado consolidated the MPF Group’s essential sales administrative services at its Texas headquarters, implementing new systems and processes, and hiring and training associates. She tightened the coordination of MPF banners by leading monthly management calls on revenue and support matters, and led an effort to provide more actionable sales and trend information to manufacturer clients. Alvarado developed retailer targets with proactive communication and specific initiatives while working to reduce the average days outstanding of receivables.

Victoria Cooper Corporate Digital Marketing Strategist, Nature Nate’s Honey Co.

The creator of a grass-roots brand ambassador program, Cooper worked to expand the initiative from 350 ambassadors to more than 2,000, an increase of more than 475%; meanwhile, the program was recognized for its consumer feedback solution.

Jenny McLeod

Director of Account Managers, Next Phase Enterprises

McLeod implemented an online training tool that significantly improved Next Phase Enterprise’s efficiency and knowledge base, and considerably boosted scalability and consistency.

She helped grow Nature Nate’s fan following through the revamp of both social media initiatives and corporate giving programs.

Thanks to her keen oversight, the company successfully launched retail items via two new retail partnerships, which resulted in new streams of revenue for the organization.

Cooper implemented a test to determine the best ad content for Nature Nate’s core audience, reducing the average cost per result by 68.75% year over year and decreasing the average cost per thousand by 26.3%.

According to her peers, McLeod’s genuine attitude, patience, energy and approachability has led to more team collaboration as well as the integration of such areas as internal systems and supply chain management.

Longo’s would like to recognize

Carol Henry for her influence, dedication, leadership and voglia in the grocery industry.

Congratulations on your Top WoMen in Grocery Award!


2020 Top Women in Grocery Megan Palmer Rivera

Managing Director, Palmer’s Supermarket #2 Inc.

Rivera hosted an Employee Annual Grocery Cart Relay, during which teams were given a list of groceries and had to shop for them, relay-race style, and the first team to ring up and bag their groceries won; this exercise helped employees learn the locations of products.

Customer Manager, Quaker, PepsiCo

Caba’s expertise led to a 7.1% total sales increase for her customers, a mark that exceeded her annual sales target and resulted in more incremental revenue for those customers and Quaker/PepsiCo.

At an off-site event she hosted and had all managers and team leaders attend, participants discussed business challenges and brainstormed innovations.

Her focus on a balanced portfolio of growth led to huge increases for ready-to-eat cereal, hot cereal and pancake syrup, and she earned recognition as a Quaker Ring of Honor Winner, the organization’s top annual sales honor.

Rivera organizes a monthly Meeting of the Minds lunch that’s open to all employees; she posts a topic and invites eight employees to attend.

Caba is regularly active with the internal Valor Employee Resource Group during Fleet Week in New York, coordinating the feeding of service members.

Julie Smanda

Director-Large Format Sales Strategy, Frito-Lay North America, PepsiCo

Smanda worked with the PepsiCo insights team to craft an assortment tool that supports recommended planograms for accounts undergoing front end resets. She led conversations with 14 regional accounts and democratized the lessons learned in national sales presentations for all regional teams to use; her efforts in this space led to 20% of Frito-Lay’s space gains coming from the front end checkout area. Partnering with the National Confectioners Association, Smanda crafted the checkout segment of the Retail Destination Showcase, enabling Frito-Lay to earn significant exposure.


Ilicia Caba

Monica Abarca Senior Account Manager, Post Consumer Brands

Abarca’s efforts led enough growth for Post cereal sales at Smart & Final that it became the No. 2 cereal manufacturer at this retail account in 2019. Her skills at category management and effective presentation resulted in a SKU count increase of 16 items for Smart & Final, along with 19% growth in a declining category. Abarca’s talents for forecasting, promotional planning, relationship building and program execution combined to produce winning sales figures for California; as the company’s industry lead in the West, she represents the organization at various industry events in the region.

Betsy Harkleroad

Director Field Operations (Family Dollar), Pepsi Beverages North America (PBNA), PepsiCo

Serving as the conduit between the Dollar General sales team, the PBNA division and 70 franchised bottlers, Harkleroad played a critical role in PBNA achieving its plan for both volume and net revenue. Dollar General consistently led the dollar chain key accounts in score and overall planograms and displays. She helped move the agenda forward to test advanced shipping notification (ASN) technology in the Southeast; Dollar General is on the cusp of going live nationwide on ASN.

Tanya Champion

Account Executive, Procter & Gamble

Champion led a turnaround on the Albertsons hair care business via the creation of a business plan featuring hair care as a catalyst to drive the grocer’s beauty department growth.


Kim Lueck

Marketing Manager, PepsiCo

Lueck led the overall shopper portfolio on potato chips, and her work delivered 99.3% to plan, $737.2 million and unit growth of 6.6%, as well as the total department’s 82 businesses running 97.6% to plan. She serves as the national president of the internal Valor Employee Resource Group supporting America’s service members and veterans. Lueck won a Harvey C. Russell chairman’s award for her strategic community partnership with Fritos and Valor nonprofit partner Carry the Load on the Fritos Salutes program, which delivered a total packaging takeover across two SKUs and 22 million bags.

Tina Fanning

Team LeaderAssociated Wholesale Grocers, Procter & Gamble

Fanning went well beyond her core job responsibilities to support organizational development efforts as a trainer for new hires, an intern manager and a teacher on “Selling with a Story” to all P&G sales interns.

Her leadership also resulted in total Albertsons Seattle division health and beauty care sales growth by more than 300 basis points, with the retailer’s department share increasing by more than 200 basis points.

Thanks to her leadership of the Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) team, that unit exceeded all targets and saw a 70% reduction in deductions because of improved cash results.

Champion co-created and led a scale event platform in Portland, Ore., that grew HBC sales by seven points through an innovative incremental stock-up event, an effort that’s been replicated across Albertsons.

Fanning’s leadership with key AWG retailers delivered growth across all AWG top retailers above the AWG corporate average, fueled by her category growth strategies in bath tissue, paper towels and facial tissues.


2019 Top Women in Grocery Nadja Hendrix

Hendrix led shopping insights efforts for emerging customers Whole Foods Market, Fresh Thyme, Sprouts and DeCA, resulting in $40 million of incremental sales. She validated a distribution strategy for the naturals channel to convert occasional shoppers, resulting in a more than 90% favorability ranking, which improved retailers’ equity scores. Hendrix spearheded P&G’s efforts to increase its presence in the urban grocery retail space, developing a strategy using granular street-level analytics to identify a major opportunity for the CPG powerhouse.

Amy Moreno

Kelli Montgomery

Shopper Analytics and Insights Leader, Procter & Gamble

Account Executive/ Regional Broker Manager, Procter & Gamble

Northeast Product Supply Manager, Procter & Gamble

Montgomery grew her customer base’s category sales by capitalizing on top-line sales opportunities while delivering-bottom savings. She exceeded customers’ supply chain metrics objectives, and delivered incremental sales for the P&G portfolio. She managed the hair care business at the top retailer in her region, helping it grow P&G sales by more than 4% and increasing corporate share for a fifth consecutive year. Montgomery is active in organizations that provide underserved young women with books and personal health care products.


Haley Sammis

Head of Account Management, Rosie

Moreno led the transition of four of her customers to a new paired-coverage model while maintaining business momentum, and in several cases even increasing it.

Sammis grew expansion in stores by 520% year over year, leading the largest account expansion in Rosie’s history, and she also increased delivery adoption by retailers by 21% in eight weeks by teaming with DoorDash and Postmates.

She did significant work to bring customers in the New York urban market into the digital age, collaborating with various retailers on e-commerce tests, and delivering team training on setting up digital coupons for independent grocers.

She helped 100-plus stores launch a clickable weekly ad for their e-commerce program, resulting in increased online shopper acquisition, activation, retention and basket size.

Moreno is a member in the P&G Latina Affinity Network, sitting on the retention committee, as well as an Ally in the company’s GABLE organization.

Sammis volunteers at a food kitchen aiding thousands in the Ithaca, N.Y., area, and serves on the Transportation & Parking committee for the Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA).

Christen Heinsohn

Director of Retail Operations, Save A Lot


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True Citrus products, made from clean ingredients, are on trend for consumers who want delicious and refreshing taste in their water.


Between Q2 and Q4, Heinsohn was able to reduce productive labor spend from $34,295 to $31,156, and helped lower total shrink and waste dollars from $7,794 to $5,631 over the same period. She rolled out an Inventory Exception Tool, the company’s first resource to help view daily inventory levels and trends.

O • Made with real lemon/lime/orange oils & juices • Simple & Clean Ingredients • 0-10 Calories per stick packet • Unsweetened & Sweetened Options • Non-GMO • NO artificial sweeteners • NO artificial flavors • NO artificial preservatives


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As project lead on Save A Lot’s Bags for a Brighter Holiday program, Heinsohn oversaw the donation of 52,000-plus bags to local food banks and pantries, triggering a $100,000 contribution to Feeding America.



2019 Top Women in Grocery Katy Reyering

Chelsea Martin

Martin was responsible for one of the top-grossing districts in the entire company for sales and EBITDA, improving sales overall by 2.31% compared with last year. Nominated unanimously by her peers as the regional district manager captain for Save A Lot’s new district manager leadership training program, she has exceeded all expectations of senior leadership in her short time in the role. A participant in the company’s annual Bags for a Brighter Holiday initiative and a partner with a local fire department, Martin received an award for her other selfless work in the community.

Gina Olivieri

Talent Development Partner, Save A Lot

Regional Director, Save A Lot

Reyering co-developed a micro-learning strategy that mirrors Save A Lot’s core initiatives to improve operations, achieve cross-functional alignment and drive modernization, resulting in improvements across sales, shrink, margin, labor and expense. She set up an automated phone stipend for store managers, a move that freed them from having to submit monthly expense reimbursements. Among other activities, Reyering has volunteered for Save A Lot’s 12 Days of Giving program and Save A Lot Pride, in which the grocer participates in St. Louis’ PrideFest.

Alina Svizzero

Director of Payroll and Benefits, ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. (SRS)

HR District Field Specialist, ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. (SRS)

With a key team member on leave, Olivieri stepped into the benefits role, not only gaining additional experience, but also training other team members on succession-planning initiatives. Her open, collaborative style resulted in a more strategic approah toward several key hiring and onboarding practices. Olivieri received the ShopRite Supermarkets Outstanding Store Support award last December and was selected to serve on the company’s new compliance committee as a subject-matter expert in such areas as payroll and benefits.

Through Svizzero’s leadership, the district has produced several new programs, as well as identifying talent from which the entire company has benefited, thanks to her willingness to test, perfect, modify and share with the business. Facing significant competitive disruption and potential loss of talent, she outlined a guided discussion for in-store associate relations managers and store managers to conduct one-onones with employees to identify opportunities for improvement. Svizzero is an active supporter of ShopRite’s Partners in Caring and Feeding the Hungry.

2020 2020 20 Pamela Burke

Lindsay Gray

Layla Kasha

Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel

VP, Corporate Controller

SVP, Marketing & Communications

to our 2020 Top Women in Grocery winners!


2020 Top Women in Grocery Rebecca Weber Quality Assurance Manager, ShopRite Supermarkets Inc. (SRS)

Weber used her analytical skills and previous experience on the training and merchandising teams to drive positive changes, improving store performance on third-party audits and achieving a 100% passage rate for state inspections in her district. She worked with the asset protection team to cross-train staff on environmental compliance standards to raise awareness and drive compliance in stores.

Manager, Learning and Engagement, Smart & Final

Newman took responsibility for the system setup, announcement and follow-ups for the 1,000-plus Smart & Final associates involved in the performance review process. As a result of her leadership of the company’s engagement activities, it saw a 2% increase in overall engagement while experiencing a 4% increase in the “teamwork” area of focus.

Weber was selected to represent SRS on the New Jersey Food Council’s Chapter 24 Committee, which provides feedback on state laws affecting the foodservice industry.

While completing her associate’s degree and gearing up to earn her bachelor’s, Newman participated in Smart & Final’s Women Celebrating Women program and the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

Christina Drew

Carol Eckstein

Director, Merchandising and Marketing Insights and Analytics, SpartanNash

Drew led the search and integration of SpartanNash’s analytics partner, dunnhumby, resulting in savings of $1.2 million, with incremental annual savings forecasted once the transition is fully executed. Her introduction of automated reporting tools eliminated manual processes, minimized human error, and created more in-depth insights for the merchandising team, with estimated annual savings of $159,000. A David D. Hunting YMCA board member, Drew is also involved in the Y’s Strong Kids annual campaign to raise money for member scholarships for low-income families.


Jasmine Newman

Regional Director, HR, SpartanNash

Eckstein developed processes to support an effective seasonal and temp-to-hire conversion program, improving overall contingent worker fulfillment and reducing contingent worker turnover. Employing an internally developed resource-planning process, she drove reductions in turnover by 40 points, escalated improved open-position time-to-fill metrics to second best in the company and improved overall associate engagement survey scores in the locations she led. Eckstein’s many community activities include serving as HR consultant to Special Olympics of Indiana and mentoring high school girls.

Collette Parker Product ManagerPrivate Label, Smart & Final

Parker’s careful auditing led her to discover certain funds that weren’t paid to Smart & Final, or instances in which the company was overcharged; her diligence resulted in the recovery of all of those dollars. She contributed to Smart & Final’s bottom line by negotiating large contracts on such high-volume categories as cultured dairy, fresh and frozen chicken, and frozen shrimp. Whenever the company sponsors a charitable effort, including the Dodgers’ Holiday Food Drive, the Olive Crest fishing event and Read Across America, Parker makes sure to participate.

Kimberly Jackson

Manager, National Accounts, SpartanNash

Jackson played a critical role in SpartanNash’s 30% sales growth last year and in onboarding hundreds of new stores; the company’s on target to double its volume in 2020. She additionally collaborated with an independent customer to develop a seamless and repeatable process for transitioning stores from a SpartanNash distribution center to a customer’s fresh facility. Active in her church and a regular volunteer for various causes, Jackson still manages to attend college in the evenings to further her education; she has also completed several SpartanNash training programs.


Sarah Groves

Category Manager II, Southeastern Grocers

Groves grew Southeastern Grocers’ natural and organic business 14.7% year over year in 2019, on top of 19.2% year-overyear growth in 2018, and helped transition roughly $22 million in annual sales from natural to center store conventional grocery. She successfully launched CBD products with an all-encompassing action plan including full training for store associates and pharmacy teams, making Southeastern Grocers first to market with CBD in its region. Among other activities, Groves volunteers in her community and is a board member of the Florida Hemp Council.

Amanda James HR Business Partner, Retail HR, SpartanNash

To support the smooth transition of a new HR director of the retail team, James stepped in to lead teams and organizational initiatives during this time. She guided 11 locations through rebranding and remodeling with change management and customer-focused training and delivery, and facilitated additional hiring. As a final project, James and her fellow MBA students created a plan to implement a flexible work policy at SpartanNash; afterwards, she provided the company with policy recommendations, many of which were used when the SpartanNash Flex Time Policy launched.


to our recipients of Progressive Grocer’s Top Women In Grocery award

Tonya Herring five-time Top Women in Grocery awardee & inductee to the Top Women in Grocery Hall of Fame

Senior Vice President, Merchandising, Giant Food

Dyani Hanrahan

Monica Murphy

Lisa Coleman

Senior-Level Executive Vice President of Marketing, Giant Food

Rising Star Asset Protection Manager, Giant Food

Rising Star Director of Healthy Living, Giant Food


2020 Top Women in Grocery Alisha Tarrance Merchandise Planning Manager, SpartanNash

Tarrance revamped and trained the category management team on an improved retail margin forecasting process, resulting in a level of consistent performance and accuracy not previously achieved.

Director of Business Management, SpartanNash/MDV Military Division

As part of a plan to analyze drayage rates and improve MDV’s business profitability, Malone prioritized vendors based on reverse order of profitability and developed an action plan to negotiate with vendors, without a profitability tool.

Jacquelyn Farrell

Category Director, Topco Associates LLC

Farrell delivered cost improvements of $16 million through sourcing and category management activities, which experienced an increase over the prior year of $4 million, or 33%.

Kerry Beitz

Fresh Item Management Specialist, Tops Markets LLC

Beitz embarked on an aggressive-continuing education initiative for Tops’ store teams to ensure that, despite a high industry turnover rate, the company had well-trained associates and a subject-matter expert network.

She identified an opportunity to improve performance on forward-buy opportunities, although forward buying wasn’t within her span of control,and led the effort to update the process.

She was influential in the development of the Topco Sourcing Commitment for Indirect Spend, selecting the category segments for her areas of responsibility and helping to establish the guidelines and financial model for member commitments.

She deployed an automated version of Tops’ production-planning tool, allowing operators to transition from a paper-based system, and leading to improved results in sales, margins, labor control and, most notably, shrink.

A respected seafood industry consultant, Tarrance has been active in refining the process to move to pollock from cod for sustainable fishery.

Malone is a mentor through Big Brothers/Big Sisters, having had the same mentee for the past 12 years, from the age of 6.

Farrell launched a women’s network group supporting female empowerment to achieve business and professional goals.

Beitz has volunteered for such organizations as JDRF, Brew at the Zoo, the Taste of Syracuse and Ride for Roswell.

Laura Galligan

Courtney Jones

She incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) software into the company’s promotional planning processes, and led the team to integrate the AI system into all of SpartanNash’s processes.

Print Media Specialist, Tops Markets LLC

Beyond her primary responsibilities, Galligan led Tops’ September/October Booing program, increasing its reach from a small single-market promotion to cover the company’s entire trade area, and boosting awareness and store sales by encouraging customers to surprise and delight loved ones with small Halloween treats and gifts. Again going beyond her usual duties, she helped take Tops’ radio media buying to new heights. Outside of Tops, Galligan runs Social Butterfly Marketing, a business that helps other small businesses navigate social media, as well as promoting them through advertising and events.


Ronette Malone


Regional Manager, Pharmacy, Tops Markets

Jones selected five underperforming stores and completed a full analysis of their business and pharmacy programs; over three months, she instituted many changes or increased compliance in previously developed programs, leading to great success for the five stores chosen. She increased immunization rates at every store, thus bringing in additional prescriptions and gross margin. At one store, Jones instituted an innovative coloring program for children taking antibiotics, which not only kept kids adherent to their medications, but also improved customer satisfaction among caretakers.

Andrea Knab Manager-Cash Sales Audit and Front End Reporting, Tops Markets

Knab led an initiative to optimize the number of armored-car deliveries and pickups to Tops stores that resulted in an approximately 20% reduction in services and expense to the company. At the same time, she was busy heading an effort to optimize the levels of cash maintained by stores daily; this initiative ultimately led to an approximately 15% reduction in store-level cash that was made available for other strategic purposes. Knab participates in Tops’ annual United Way campaign and is actively involved in various other philanthropic events held by the supermarket chain.

Denise Rachow

Manager of Human Resources and Compliance, Tops Markets

Rachow coordinated the first company job fair seeking to reduce a deficit in part-time associates resulting from the increase to the New York state minimum wage and competition in the area; her efforts increased staffing and allowed stores to operate more efficiently. She created retail department-specific training materials to enhance the knowledge and abilities of store associates when dealing with equipment and shoppers, with a focus on customer service. Among her many industry and community activities, Rachow volunteers for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.


Sarah Ballou VP Worldwide Military Sales

Melissa Pulliam

Erienne Keefe

Global Director, National Retail Sales

Account Executive

Micheala Downes

Colby Stinnette

Director eCommerce Customer Management

Customer Development Manager

Alyssa Spain Shopper Marketing Manager

Cheers to all the 2020 Top Women in Grocery! And a special thank you to our Coca-Cola winners for refreshing the world and making a difference through your remarkable contributions. You are an indispensable ingredient in our secret formula. Congratulations!

Š2020 The Coca-Cola Company


2020 Top Women in Grocery Beth Stair

Director, Financial Reporting and Corporate Accounting, Tops Markets

When the company emerged from a financial restructuring, Stair led the financial reporting efforts related to fresh-start accounting, including research for, and development of, required external financial statement disclosures, completing this process within an aggressive timeline.

Controller, Financial Accounting and Director of Treasury, Tops Markets

Trostle headed the initiative to adopt new technical accounting guidance related to revenue recognition impacting Tops’ total revenues, including reviewing and modifying the company’s revenue recognition policies and procedures to ensure compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Deanna Wasikowski

Manager, Transportation Department, Tops Markets

Noticing an increase in store delay time, Wasikowski reviewed the process and collected data to highlight areas to improve on; with team support, she reduced delay time by 20%, which ultimately improved arrival time across the chain and maximized sales.

She developed a financial dashboard report that’s provided to the board each fiscal period (monthly) to function as the primary communication tool between quarterly meetings.

She began leading the effort to adopt new technical accounting guidance related to lease accounting — perhaps Tops’ most extensive and complex accounting change in recent years.

When Tops acquired stores in the Hudson Valley region of New York, she helped coordinate a delivery and return tonnage program that satisfactorily met warehouse departure times and in-store arrival times.

Stair’s slate of philanthropic activities includes the Ride for Roswell and the Junior Achievement Bowl-a-Thon.

Trostle’s presentations to the board of directors’ audit committee drew praise for her grasp of technical accounting matters.

Wasikowski sits on a fleet safety committee that sources new equipment, taking advantage of innovative technology.

Letta Jenkins

Senior Manager, Food Safety and Quality Assurance, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI)

Jenkins led the integration of all distribution centers under one food safety program; as a result of this move, all of the DCs under her purview earned superior food safety outside-audit scores. She centralized third-party management programs and vendor expectations through a cost-neutral process that led to better leverage with vendors and improved visibility to her national food safety team. Jenkins is a member of the National Environmental Health Association, a National Registry for Food Safety Professionals proctor and a Certified ServSafe Food Protection Manager.


Emily Trostle

Angela Lauder

Litigation and E-discovery Manager, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI)

Lauder took a lead role in monitoring and tracking existing and potential class actions, filing proof of claims when appropriate; her work handling significant antitrust matters, both independently and with outside counsel, resulted in multimillion-dollar recoveries for the company.

Sarah Meyer

Director, Loss Prevention and Security, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI)

Meyer led a successful effort to customize and deploy in-depth workplace violence detection training to every people supervisor across UNFI’s network – more than 700 individuals at 60-plus sites – to rave reviews.

The pivotal role that she played in e-discovery matters, including her help in researching and selecting a new data review tool, saved UNFI significant outside legal spend.

She also headed a RFP process across the entire network to consolidate the company’s security guard services from nine companies to three, resulting not only in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings, but also better security guards.

A member of various paralegal organizations, Lauder also volunteers for Wills for Heroes and an adult shelter.

Meyer is a member of American Society for Industrial Security and the Missouri Organized Retail Crime Association.


Susan Brosnan Senior Software Engineer, Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions

Brosnan led a successful initiative to increase software patent activity in the Toshiba software technical community, working with peers to design and implement a program to capture existing intellectual property activities and starburst invention ideas. She was the principal engineer designing a suite of technologies and solutions that aimed to bridge the gap between existing retail technology implementations and new microservices and cloud-based technologies. With 19 retail patents filed with the U.S. Patent Office and 74 published invention disclosures, Brosnan has been recognized as a Toshiba Master Inventor.

Rachel Sorenson

Category Manager, United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI)/ Cub Foods

Sorenson delivered a rebranded floral department, Sweet Petals, with the aim of driving customer loyalty and brand recognition at Cub Foods stores. As well as creating winning strategies for key holidays with new assortment, merchandising plans and operational best practices to lift sales, she took back responsibility for the juice and popcorn categories, setting out to revamp both categories with strategic selling plans. Sorenson formed a partnership with One Tree Planted to donate a portion of the proceeds for every rose or bouquet sold at Cub Foods locations.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Tonya Woytowich

Category Manager, Weis Markets

Handling the needs of 200 stores across seven states, Woytowich took a leading role in reformulating Weis’ general merchandise strategy for both in-line and seasonal products, dramatically improving profitability on seasonal programs with curated assortments tailored to store needs, and through plans to achieve product sell-through. She established best practices with suppliers to enhance business processes and ensure that expectations regarding quality and timing of both data and product are met. Woytowich also serves as a regional leader for the Network of Executive Women (NEW).

Wendy Watson Store Manager, Hannaford #8447, Ballston Spa, N.Y.

Winner of Hannaford’s 2019 Store Manager of the Year, Watson made a critical difference at three separate locations. During a key selling season at the seasonal Lake Placid, N.Y., store, she provided effective leadership and training, and improved operations overall. At Hannaford’s new Ballston Spa, N.Y., store, she staffed the store during the lowest unemployment rate in recent history, and then facilitated a barn-raising event for the 125 new associates, forging a team spirit. Watson participated in a dance marathon raising several thousand dollars for needy families.


Breanna Humphries


Store Managers

Operations Manager, The Ziegenfelder Co.

Humphries progressed from food process specialist to food safety and quality assurance manager to her current role of operations manager within a mere nine months. During the rebuilding process after a destructive fire at the company’s main plant, she coled several training sessions for employees, emerging as a major part of the team that managed to get production back up and running within 18 days. Along with her own philanthropic activities, Humphries helped found the employee-led donation and community outreach organization known as the Zieggy Impact Group.

Mary McEvoy

Store Manager, Stop & Shop #0422 and Pharmacy Store #0398, Edgartown, Mass.

The five-aisle stand-alone pharmacy store that McEvoy manages attained the highest cosmetics sales for the region, because of its attention to island-specific needs, while the sales trend for Store #0422 was ninth best in the region. She met challenges head-on, using them as teaching tools when appropriate. McEvoy participates in the annual Crop Walk for Hunger and encourages her children to be involved in community service activities such as the blanket drop and coat drive at a local clothing donation site.

Rachel Razzano

Store Manager, Stop & Shop #0526, East Northport, N.Y.

Razzano was the first to lead her team through the Project Shore rebranding strategy, making her location the model store for Long Island, N.Y., in regard to setting standards and introducing such new concepts as a hot bar, smoker, café and online pickup. Recognized by her peers for her leadership qualities, she successfully guided eight new full-time promotions into their new positions. Razzano and her team support various community organizations and, over the holidays, sold charity boxes for needy families, raising more than $20,000 for these causes.

Jennifer Ruocco Store Manager, Stop & Shop #0647, Milford, Conn.

Ruocco is the store manager lead for her district’s Rising Star Program, which devises individual training plans that are designed to enable full- and part-time associates to take on increasingly higher-level positions. She’s also on a team of store managers and district directors chosen to facilitate developmental classes for managers in the company’s Central Market. Ruocco was the catalyst for getting Stop & Shop’s sponsorship of the Milford Oyster Festival approved, and she and her team volunteered to set up, host and take down both of the grocer’s booths at the event.

to Our Top Women in Grocery


2020 Top Women in Grocery Adrianna Huteson

Store Manager, Albertsons #3106, Puyallup, Wash.

Managing a team of nearly 100 employees, Huteson has led her team to five years of increased profitability, reducing shrink over several years and improving productivity in the past year.

Store Director, Cooley Street Big Y World Class Market, Springfield, Mass.

Hay successfully served as a best practices peer group coach/ mentor, leading her team to more effective problem solving, improved efficiencies that lowered expenses, and increased sales; the effort contributed to the company’s strong financial results.

She led training and instructional classes for her colleagues and fellow employees in the Seattle division, focusing on person-in-charge (PIC) training and financial skills classes.

She was instrumental in her store’s ranking as one of the top three performers in its district in food safety, digital engagement and customer engagement.

Viewed as a role model in her district, Huteson also taught an “Extraordinary Productivity” seminar, since she executes programs and processes in her store at a high level.

Committed to the communities Big Y serves, Hay works closely with local food banks and also serves on the grocer’s scholarship committee, which distributes 350 awards annually.

Meralie Ervin Store Director, Defense Commissary Agency, MCB Quantico Commissary, Quantico, Va.

Ervin created her own warehouse organization and functions initiative, the ERVIN (Early Recovery of Vendor Inefficiencies Notes) Report, allowing stores to verify total negative dollars contributed by loss or an ineffective vendor stocking program. Her program resulted in increases in stock replenishment efficiency, increased inventory-to-sales-ratio measurements and decreased shrinkage. Ervin and J.M. Smucker Co. served a free breakfast to 6,000plus service members and their families, among others.


Tricia Hay

Melquiadeth Supinger

Assistant Commissary Officer, Defence Commissary Agency Spangdahlem AB Commissary, Spangdahlem, Germany

Charged with leading a new team to create and execute a total store reset, Supinger worked with employees and industry professionals to implement new shelving and product merchandising, with minimal interruption for customers. She developed a new warehousing plan for more efficient stocking during the store reset. As the new leader of her team, Supinger mentored employees and forged a cohesive group that worked together to deliver outstanding results.

Tonya Westbrook

Store Director, Brookshire’s #61, Whitehouse, Texas

Westbrook led her team to outperform its sales budget by 4.9% and surpass its gross profitability goal by 61 basis points in 2019 — and she’s on track for a similar performance in 2020. With a reputation for stellar store merchandising and a tight control on expenses, she outperformed her labor budget by 39 basis points. Her employee turnover rate, which is lower than the company average, exemplified her leadership skills. An “ambassador” for Brookshire Grocery Co. within the Whitehouse, Texas, community, Westbrook and her team support a number of local organizations.

Buffy Starkey

Store Leader, Dillons #5, Garden City, Kan.

Starkey has created a mutual relationship with a nearby elementary school to help Kroger’s Zero Hunger | Zero Waste and Feeding the Human Spirit initiatives by donating food items, collaborating with teachers and volunteering her time. After a challenging remodel, she increased sales and focused on retention, with a 34% decrease in turnover from 2018, and another 9% last year. Starkey is also a big-sister mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters and an inaugural member and communication chair for the Young Professionals Associate Resource Group.


Allison HagedornZiegler

Store Director, Cub Foods Uptown, Minneapolis

Hagedorn-Ziegler operated Cub Foods’ leading store in e-commerce, her percentage of e-commerce sales to total sales was the chain’s highest, and her location was among the banner’s top-performing stores in the area of customer satisfaction in e-commerce. Known as enthusiastic participants in community events, she and her team built a special display to support Minneapolis’ Pride Festivities last spring. Hagedorn-Ziegler volunteers with the nonprofit Help at Your Door, one of whose initiatives is getting food to elderly people with no other way to obtain it.

Amy Berry

Store Director, Family Fare Store #1990, Hastings, Mich.

Berry excels at creative merchandising; when her store received summer-themed candy, associates built a carnival tent to showcase it. Her store’s promotion of Michigan-made products led to sales lifts on the displayed items of 141.6% over the prior year, with quantity sold 99.6% higher than the prior year and a whopping 174.9% increase in profit dollars. In a particularly delicious fundraising effort, Berry, her family and friends hold an annual cookie party to which they bring all kinds of cookies to exchange, along with donations for a different kids’ charity every year.

congratulations to Giant Eagle’s 2020 top women in grocery On behalf of President & CEO Laura Shapira Karet, and your 36,000 fellow Team Members, we are very proud of your accomplishments. Your dedication, leadership and talent inspire us.

store manager honorees

Deanna Fellenstein

Sandra Ladson

Sheena Maravich

Store Leader

Senior Dual Store Leader

Store Leader

rising star honoree

senior level executive honoree

Laura Miller

Christina Morascyk

Sr. Manager, Retail Inventory Systems & Development

Vice President of Supermarket Strategy & Development


2020 Top Women in Grocery Erin Russell

Store Manager, Food City #620, Vonore, Tenn.

Russell and her Food City store associates attributed their success to community involvement, including her work as a diplomat for the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce and seat on the board of directors for the Monroe County School Health Advisory Council. Her store saw a huge sales increase of 14.2% last year, and customer counts were up by 2,000 per week. As a participant in K-VA-T’s Empower initiative, Russell helps develop future female leaders in the grocery industry, and she works closely with her associates to develop their abilities through cross-training and coaching.

Sheena Maravich

Store Leader, Giant Eagle #1282, Mentor, Ohio

Maravich consistently delivered strong financial results and exceeded her store’s sales budget through seven periods. Her commitment to safety and compliance resulted in outstanding internal audit scores. She received the 2019 Giant Eagle Clean Store Award for demonstrating exemplary sanitation efforts. Among her volunteer efforts, Maravich served as her region’s 2019 American Heart Association Heart Walk Champion, leading the fundraising to help combat heart disease and stroke.


Anna Graham

Store Leader, Foods Co #387, Soledad, Calif.

Under her leadership, Graham’s store finished in the top five Food 4 Less/Foods Co’s stores in 2019 for general merchandise sales, floral sales, front end service, and shrink. She graduated from the Western Association of Food Chains’ Retail Management Certificate Program and was chosen to participate in the Women’s EDGE leadership program. Graham and her store supported the Soledad Police Department with its National Night Out and Holiday Giving Tree events, made donations to help Soledad Medical Clinic’s Harvest Fresh Prescription event, and supported the Salvation Army.

Shelley Stack Store Manager, Gordon Food Service Store, Mishawaka, Ind.

Stack successfully tested new concepts, including fresh-made guacamole, chicken rotisserie and broasting programs, in her stores so they can be rolled out further this year. Her store sponsored all Notre Dame home football games; she and her team manned the sponsor tent at every home game, in the process adding more than 7,000 new customers to the store’s loyalty program. The respect and leadership she gave to her employees led her store to maintain the lowest employee turnover in the region.

Deanna Fellenstein

Store Leader, Giant Eagle #6381, Mentor, Ohio

Fellenstein guided her liquor team through a full store remodel while at the same time growing sales and doubling her wholesale in-store liquor business. She strove to improve the experiences of both team members and customers through her participation on the Giant Eagle Store Leader Council, and also served as her region’s Guest Service Champion. As the liaison between two Giant Eagle regions and the American Heart Association, she coordinated fundraising and participation in the Cleveland Heart Walk and helped raise more than $100,000 this past year.

Cathy Moloney

Store Manager, Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society Inc./White River Junction, Vt.

Moloney elevated the organization’s social mission, spearheading dozens of community service programs, collecting thousands of pounds of food with her team for the area food bank and raising more than $30,000 for area nonprofits through Pennies for Change. Her store achieved 6.68% sales growth, the largest in the cooperative, and had net savings before taxes that surpassed projections by more than $183,000. Moloney led the education on, and elimination of, single-use plastic bags at the register.


Sandra Ladson

Senior Dual Store Leader, Giant Eagle #4025, Fairlawn, Ohio, and Giant Eagle #5861, Akron, Ohio

Ladson launched a curbside and delivery service for one store that exceeded its target by 89% in the first eight months of operation; the first location was so successful that a second location is set to adopt the service. She led a team through a store remodel, keeping the location open throughout, even during holidays, and avoiding any construction/remodeling incidents. In partnership with the Akron-Canton Food Bank, Ladson has been a Regional Harvest for Hunger Champion for the past four years, helping to raise $1 million a year.

Jacque Gilliard

Store Director, Harris Teeter #410, Charleston, S.C.

Gilliard led a number of her team’s efforts to minimize food insecurity in her community, packing 2,000plus ready-to-eat Thanksgiving dinners and volunteering at the Low Country Food Bank; she also promoted Harris Teeter’s Together in Education program. Her store improved its budgeted operating profit by $884,000, and she broke two sales records, earning a dollar profit award. Express lane business grew under Gilliard with the bestto-date scorecard measuring customer service levels.

C��a�la��s � �r h���s and all the winners of Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery Senior-Level Executive

Rising Star

Patricia Wallwork

Alison Pierce

CEO, Milo’s Tea Company

Brand Director, Milo’s Tea Company

Family-Made Since 1946

100% Natural • Brewed Fresh • Learn more at


2020 Top Women in Grocery Donna Maxwell Store Manager, Harris Teeter #487, California, Md.

Maxwell organized a one-day sales event with an outdoor farmers’ market, barbecue and crab boil that yielded an additional 21% in sales that day and a positive sales trend for the quarter, and led to her being given the company’s Big Black Pen award. Harris Teeter selected Maxwell for its leadership training program to prepare her for higher positions within the company. She gives her time and support to a number of community organizations, including the Girl Scouts of America, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen and FOP Lodge 24.

Susan Giordano General Manager, Inserra Supermarkets ShopRite of Wallington, N.J.

Giordano was selected as designated supervisor of the Inserra Supermarkets Store Management Training Program, overseeing the day-today training and mentorship of program candidates. She emphasized community outreach, often bringing her store on board: For instance, the location received the Inserra Supermarket Partners in Caring Top Fundraising Award, and her team bought holiday gifts for needy families instead of throwing a party with the prize money. At the store, increased sales, positive trends in units and growing customer counts bore testament to Giordano’s work.


Kimberly Shelley

Store Manager, Harris Teeter #403, Olney, Md.

The community benefited from Shelley’s work with the chamber of commerce, Community Bridges (a nonprofit for young women), Cornerstone Montgomery (behavioral health services) and three local PTAs. She hosted numerous store events that drove sales and spread excitement among departments, such as a tie-dye party for a Starbucks drink release and nontraditional holiday celebrations like the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Shelley built pride among employees and customers with the slogan “There’s only one Olney!” appearing on T-shirts and more.

Rea Noyes

General Manager, Inserra Supermarkets ShopRite of Ramsey, N.J.

This year, Noyes established an ongoing volunteer program with the Center for Food Action, a local food bank, and had unprecedented success with the Partners in Caring Program, even winning a coveted photo on a special-edition Cheerios box for her efforts. Noyes has a strong track record of mentorship, with three of her assistant managers being promoted to general managers in the past 12 months. Inserra Supermarkets recognized her with one of the company’s highest accolades, the Above and Beyond Award, for her communication, attitude, team building and performance.

Tara Jo Brown

Store Director, Hy-Vee, Mount Ayr, Iowa

Hy-Vee recognized Brown in its Hall of Fame for her community efforts, including as president of the Mount Ayr, Iowa, chamber, and member of the Chamber Retail, Pheasant Forever and the Aquatic Center committees, in 2019. She had numerous weeks of record sales and profits at her store, seamlessly integrated a new pharmacy, and topped the competition, with the only other competitor in town closing its doors last year. In February 2020, Brown was promoted to a district store director with increased responsibilities that included relocating and overseeing two stores.

Kathryn Hanus

Store Director, Jewel-Osco #3343, Elgin, Ill.


Anna Stoermer

Store Director, HyVee, Liberty, Mo.

Stoermer was promoted to a new store in 2019, and in addition to keeping a remodel process moving forward, she took on an additional role mentoring assistant managers in the Kansas City metro area by meeting with employees from all 30 area locations. She also plays a major part in writing the ads for Hy-Vee’s Kansas City market, in this way helping to improve sales for the market as a whole. By pushing her team in a strong yet relatable way and implementing new processes, Stoermer has reduced her store’s expenses significantly in a short time period.

Tracey Hartford Store Director, Jewel-Osco #3192, Orland Park, Ill..

Hanus improved overall standards throughout her store, increasing sales and gross profit; she improved sales by $2 million-plus annually— $39,000 a week, or 6.97% — and increased gross margin by $438,000, or 6.74%.

Hartford increased EBITDA by $100,000 versus the prior year, per quarter for four consecutive quarters, and also increased identical-store sales by 2 % to 6% per quarter versus the prior-year same quarter.

She reduced shrink by 0.83 bonus points, from 4% to 3.18%, and reduced wages by $2,300 per week, saving her store $120,000; her bottom-line EBITDA improved by more than $500,000 from the prior year, and she earned consistently high Green/Green key audit scores.

She trained two fellow store directors, four assistant store directors, two grocery assistants and three new department managers, accomplishing this with her strict adherence to the Jewel-Osco training manuals, constant follow-up and leadership by example.

Hanus leads regular gatherings with parents, teachers and first-graders in her store for reading and math clubs.

Hartford was nominated by her peers to serve on the Store Director Council.



2019 Top Women in Grocery Shelia Whitiker

Misty Rains

Store Director, Jewel-Osco #3088, Silvis, Ill.

Store Director, Jewel-Osco #3234, Chicago

Rains improved her store sales by $585,000 during the fiscal year, equating to a 4.36% year-todate sales increase, while her two-year sales identical stack was 5.16%; she completed the fiscal year with a 100% Green/ Green internal-audit score of both food safety and sanitation, bringing her run to three years of achieving this status.

Whitiker’s store earned 99.61% of the sales projection under her direction and had a recordhigh sales year of $36,163,997, or 5.6% better than the year prior, with a gain of an additional $4,244,397 versus the prior year.

She helped guide the advancement of three associates into management roles. Rains is VP of the Silvis Business Association, a Girl Scout Troop leader, a Junior Achievement volunteer and a Sherrard Area Soccer League volunteer.

Dedicated to the professional development of her associates, she mentored her assistant store director, who was promoted to a store director position. In 2019, Whitiker raised $28,000 for Holiday Bucks, ranking No. 10 out of 188 stores, and in the top 100 of the worldwide enterprise; additionally, her store ran a record 116% increase over the prior year.

MARK OF EXCELLENCE Congratulations to our 2020 winner

DANIELLE MARIANO “We are story tellers. Whether it be virtual or public events, at grocery stores, our goal is to tell the story behind the band. We are here to not only sell, but to educate customers on unique food and beverages in the marketplace.” - Danielle Mariano CEO, Mariano Events Our services includes in-store demos, new product launches, social media marketing, community events, sponsorship, culinary experiences, event reporting and analytics

Lauren Shoul

Lead Store Director, Klein’s ShopRite of Maryland, Cardiff, Md.

Shoul planned and executed a full-store remodel, leading her team throughout the process with minimal impact on sales, despite the store’s small footprint. She organized a number of community-focused activities, winning the region during the Partners in Caring fundraiser and Cheerios contest, coordinating Bag Hunger Day for Cardiff, and donating to local organizations for the store’s grand reopening. Shoul’s store had the highest sales growth of any in the chain during this period, and she mentored four associates who were promoted to the position of team leader or higher.

Andrea Gunkler Store Leader, Kroger #784, Lexington, Ky.

Gunkler has been recognized for her leadership, communication and focus on teamwork. She conducts “stay interviews” with each member of her team, cultivating emotional connections and promoting their own growth as leaders. This past year, she was promoted to store manager at a flagship store near the University of Kentucky, and while the HR coordinator was out for four months, she took on the role. Gunkler led her store to donate more than 6,100 pounds of food, and she dedicates her time to Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Cindy Hemphill Store Leader, Kroger #684, Knoxville, Tenn.

Drawing on her expertise in coaching, teaching and setting expectations regarding processes and best practices, Hemphill was able to improve her store team’s performance significantly in a short time, due to her leadership and focus on working and thinking differently to achieve the desired results.

Shelby Hettinger

Store Leader, Kroger #971, Columbus, Ohio

Hettinger takes care of her employees and has increased trust and integrity among her team, as evidenced by a greatly improved Associate Insights Score, a 21% improvement in retention and a better shopping experience for customers.

In 2019, her store had the highest percentage of talent promoted within District 4, where she served as an excellence training manager and ran a district training store.

She led her team to win multiple selling challenges, including the Bowl Game Selling Challenge and multiple Saturday Selling Contents, with identical sales up in produce/floral, deli/bakery and pharmacy.

A supporter of several nonprofit groups in the Cedar Bluff community, Hemphill was recently recognized by The Lions Club as the top retail partner in the area.

As a result of her ability to lead and drive results, Hettinger was selected to serve on the Store Manager Bench Program to mentor aspiring store leaders.

Evelyn Miller

Store Leader, Kroger Marketplace #447, Lebanon, Ohio

Celebrating 40 years with Kroger in 2020, Miller was appointed to run the Lebanon Marketplace last year. It was undergoing a major remodel at the time, and she turned around sales, improved the in-stock position and ranked No. 1 in the district on shrink reduction. Her passion for people led her to help promote seven department leaders in the past year alone, as well as holding daily huddles and one-on-one department leader connections. A member of the Terrific Women in Giving organization, Miller suppots Dayton Children’s Hospital through fundraisers.


Kathie NanceAskey Store Leader, Kroger #436, Covington, Ga.

Nance-Askey’s store was chosen to host the district for holiday selling standards, and the location was recognized for various store events, such as being named No. 1 in the district for rib-selling events. She served as the mentor manager throughout her district and the division, personally supporting hourly associates as they entered the Management Training Program. In the community, NanceAskey is deeply involved with the Pete Nance Boys and Girls Club in Greensboro, Ga., started in 2011 with an endowment fund in the name of her father.

Amy Hysmith Store Leader, Kroger #35, Houston

Hysmith’s leadership made her store a top performer, consistently achieving daily standards at 85% and succeeding in both selling initiatives and fundraising campaigns. She was chosen to manage the test store for the Houston market’s first multicultural set, and her feedback on the plan was crucial to the improvements in, and further implementation of, the Hispanic set. Hysmith is active in fundraising for the La Porte Boys Baseball Associations, and was previously an officer on the Deer Park Independent School District board; additionally, she spends her free time volunteering at the Houston Food Bank.

Michelle Smolenski

Store Leader, Kroger #857, Delaware, Ohio


Anna McWaters Store Leader, Kroger #616, Douglasville, Ga.

As a direct result of her leadership, McWaters’ store was selected as the champion store for the Atlanta division to pilot a new in-stock project this year. McWaters guided her district to raise $33,754 to support the fight against pancreatic cancer, leading to its designation as district champion for the Purple Pansies Campaign last September. McWaters’ store achieved 3.1% positive same-store sales, minimizing shrink loss while maximizing profits and decreasing turnover; she also implemented new solutions that were a catalyst in achieving department-specific goals, such as a front end QueVision goal.

Meaghen Sorrell Store Leader, Kroger #836, Dayton, Ohio

When she took over her store, Smolenski had one-on-one conversations with associates to better understand their perspective and design her leadership approach. Her store now frequently achieves the highest ranking on mystery shops.

As a new store leader, Sorrell led her store to the top 10 in the division in identical sales, before quickly being promoted to a new store, which would hold a grand reopening; she and her team have increased identical sales by an average of 25% there.

She grew sales, improved freshness, improved the pickup fill rate, achieved 100% on back stock worked and truck completion, and overcame a dismal scan and replenish rate.

She has developed a partnership with the county board of trustees, a community link previously missing in store feedback.

Among other activities, Smolenski is a member of the Columbus Division Our Promise team, which develops plans to engage and recognize associates.

Sorrell was selected to serve as a member of the division’s first President’s Council, recognized as part of the division’s Talent Day and acknowledged as a high-performing store leader.



2019 Top Women in Grocery Donna Bierbaum

Store Director, Martin’s Super Market #6. Elkhart, Ind.

For every compensation increase, service anniversary and birthday, associates received a mailed congratulatory card signed by Bierbaum, her assistant store director and the store’s HR business partner. At Christmas, her store held a Christmas dinner where every associate received a present, and the location regularly gave out “Lunches on Us” to employees as small thank-yous for covering a shift or otherwise going above and beyond. As well as being a big supporter of the area’s local schools, Bierbaum makes the in-store community room available for local events, including weddings.

Tracey Simon Store Director, Meijer #113, Corunna, Mich.

Simon’s continued focus on cost savings resulted in excellent results for her store, which led the market and region for multiple weeks of fiscal year 2019. She and her team also received top accolades in the surrounding community for the store’s grocery, produce, bakery, adjacent gas station and pharmacy. Simon volunteers her spare time at Blue Star Mothers, an organization that supports our troops overseas; as the mother of a son in the military, she has found comfort joining with other moms to make care packages to send to service members far from home.

Dawn Caustrita Store Director, Meijer #189, Defiance, Ohio

Under Caustrita’s leadership, her store team took part in the 2019 Relay for Life and sponsored an event to raise money for new playground equipment that was subsequently installed at Independence State Park. She was also instrumental in getting the Defiance Police Department to consider Meijer for their Shop with a Cop event, something that hadn’t been done for 19 years; the resulting event was a resounding success. The success of Caustrita’s store came from her regular encouragement of associates to work harder, take a positive attitude and provide better service for customers.

Emily Lynch

Store Director, Meijer #50, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Lynch successfully completed a store remodel while sustaining customer service metrics in all categories, including growing “greet” by 532 basis points from the previous year; part of her success came from her talent in building morale, such as helping to cook steaks for all three store shifts. She drove the development of 12 team members into leaders, helping them become people who were able to take on various promotional roles within the Grand Rapids, Mich., market. Lynch is currently developing a store director in training who will enter the formal store director development program.

Angie Muckridge

Store Director, Meijer #204, Camby-Mooresville, Ind.

Muckridge’s exemplary leadership resulted in her exceeding Store #204’s sales growth target for 2019, with her team posting a 1.61% sales gain even with a remodel going on. She consistently provided a professional environment in which associates were encouraged and enabled to build skills and develop their careers. Known as a great community partner who works diligently on enriching lives in the communities she serves, Muckridge delivered 1,300 pairs of Hanes socks in an effort to keep local homeless people warm during the winter, among other activities.


2020 Top Women in Grocery Dessie Szklany Store Director, Meijer #307, Stow, Ohio

Holly Lorenzana Store Leader, Ralphs #70, Woodland Hills, Calif.

Szklany was specifically selected to open the Stow location in Cleveland, in a new footprint for Meijer, because of her engagement, leadership and connection with her previous teams.

When Lorenzana was named manager of Ralphs #70, the store was negative in EBIDA; over the next year, she and the store team improved sales by $315,000 in 2019.

Her ability to build a new team of associates from the ground up proved vital to the success of that new market.

With an expert eye on expense control, they were able to save more than $9,000 in department supply expenses that year.

Delivering strong customer service and team-building metrics, Szklany hired more than 400 brand-new Meijer associates, and her store tied for first place for highest team member engagement; she also became deeply involved with local organizations in her new community.

Lorenzana introduced innovative ideas to motivate associates and create a culture of positivity and support, including daily team-building exercises and peer-on-peer mentorship; the store was also recognized by Taft High School for supporting the surrounding community.

Kendra Benoit Store Director, Safeway #2729, Puyallup, Wash.

Benoit was chosen to open a new store in Puyallup, Wash., the fourth location she was asked to open and lead. This store has exceeded expectations for sales and EBITDA, and excelled in other metrics in large part because of her efforts in training and mentoring a high-performing team. Active in her community, Benoit regularly attends city council meetings, Chamber of Commerce forums and community outreach programs, and volunteers at women’s and animal shelters; she also supports the Edgewood Community Picnic.


Alina (Allie) Brusilovsky

Store Director, Safeway #2246, Denver

Currently supervising 100 employees at a complex store in the heart of Denver, Brusilovsky has run three stores over the past five years. In the latest fiscal year, she led positive 12.2% sales and a 7.62% increase in profits, and also improved shrink by 25 basis points. Brusilovsky is a member of 2020 Denver Division Diversity Council, as her store boasts a 55% diverse management staff, compared with a 35% district average. Outside of work, she supports a not-for-profit inner-city dance school and is a partner in a local housing association.

Simone Appleton

Store Director, Safeway #1680, Silverdale, Wash./ Interim Director of E-commerce Operations, Albertsons Cos./Seattle Division

Running day-to-day operations for the division’s 11 home delivery stores and 42 drive-up-and-go locations, Appleton served as the main liaison between corporate business owners/support leaders and division leaders. She stepped into the role from her usual role as a store director, transitioning to her new position with excellent results. As well as being an active member of the Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network, Appleton mentors and coaches women informally.

Rachel McCrorey

Store Director, Safeway #768-7, Castro Valley, Calif.

McCrorey’s store, with average weekly sales of around $1 million dollars, beat the store’s EBITDA goal by more than $400,000 for the previous fiscal year, far exceeding the division average; further, her store beat gross and shrink targets.


Kandi Armstrong

Store Director, Safeway #2728, Seward, Alaska

Armstrong reduced out-ofstocks at her store by 25% within a three-week time frame, and slashed back-room inventory/ days on hand by five days and almost $50,000 for the period, all while maintaining sales. Part of the company’s succession-planning process, she covered for center store operations specialists on occasion and mentored junior store directors. Armstrong gives time to several local organizations, including those that serve schoolchildren and seniors; her efforts have been recognized with an award from United Way for Outstanding Community Leadership.

Veronica Mendoza

Store Director, Safeway #2448, Portland, Ore.

A subject-matter expert in meat department operations, Mendoza was often called upon as a dependable player in store grand-opening preparations and other projects.

Her leadership and financial accomplishments spurred the company to invest in a full remodel of her store, which is currently delivering 8%-plus identical-sales increases.

She played a crucial role in the reduction of total store shrink results from more than 5.9% to 3.8%, accomplished division-leading sales, and assisted in the rollout of, and provided guidance for, an industry-leading pharmacy program.

McCrorey is leader for diversity and inclusion, and a strong proponent of coaching, teaching and training.

Mendoza has achieved exceptional food safety results, with five consecutive Green/Green food safety inspections.



2020 Top Women in Grocery Hannah Raetz Store Director, Safeway #1842, Salmon Creek, Wash.

Raetz was moved from the lowest-volume store in the district to a store falling in the top three in sales when her predecessor, Connie Gourley, was diagnosed with cancer; inspired by Gourley, Raetz led a blood drive and auction that raised about $5,000. She also dedicated the entire 2019 fundraising campaign for the company’s annual Turkey/ Santa Bucks event to Gourley; the end result was Store #1842 finishing first in the Portland division, with $55,277 raised. Raetz led her team to achieve division sales targets and surpass the prior year’s identical-store EBITDA.

Katherine Hansmann

Store Manager, Smart & Final, Roseville, Calif.

Hansmann and her team beat their store sales budget by 15.28% and surpassed their store controllable profit budget by more than 40%, achieving these milestones while meeting their labor budget and crushing their shrink budget. She helped create and execute one of Smart & Final’s biggest sales-driving initiatives, which beat the company’s private label sales goal by more than 5%. Hansmann works with local charities like the Heart Walk and assisted shelters during the devastating Northern California fires in the summer of 2019.

Mediha Rezvic Store Director, Safeway #2631, Beaverton, Ore.

A results-driven store director with a special ability to get others to see more within themselves, Rezvic was set to beat her EBITDA by $297,000 in Q4 and consistently maintained a customer experience score above 4.7. She inspired loyalty in her associates by building their confidence through consistent support and positive coaching. Rezvic’s compassion for others was inspired by adversity: Born in Bosnia, which her family left during the war, she arrived in America with her siblings and worked her way up from the position of Safeway courtesy clerk, a job she began at the age of 16.

Vanessa Muller Store Leader, Smith’s #491, Santa Fe, N.M.

Muller’s store received a 77% overall associate engagement score in 2019, a 1% increase from 2018, and a tremendous accomplishment given the state of the business at the time of the survey. She held daily huddles, trained assistant store managers and department leaders, and held team Q&As to improve communication; additionally, associates were recognized with uplift notes, customer comments, and more. Muller and a team of representatives from her district won first place for their Albuquerque Pride Parade float.

Barbara Lufkin

Tarsha Cunha

Store Director, Shaw’s, Medway, Mass.

Store Director, Shaw’s, Beverly, Mass.

As a mentor of employees within and outside her district, Cunha has a reputation for providing support, direction, guidance and advice while encouraging mentees to make their own decisions. She helped her store win the Shaw’s and Star Market community service award for the second year in a row and grab the slot as the No. 1 fundraising store in the division last year; for instance, for the town’s Random Acts of Kindness Day, her store went for broke, delivering 100 random acts of kindness. Cunha’s store consistently meets its financial commitment, resulting in rewards for her team.

Irene Munoz

Store Director, Tom Thumb #3621, Las Colinas, Texas

Running one of the most profitable stores in the division, Munoz has beat EBITDA every single quarter since she has managed Tom Thumb #3621 and exceeded her financial projections. She served as a division trainer/ mentor for up-and-coming store directors and acted as a role model throughout the district for many of the new managers. VP of the diversity leadership board for Albertsons’ Texas division, Munoz is involved in the company’s Women’s Inspiration and Inclusion Network, and supports Susan G. Komen and Toys for Tots, among others.

Lufkin was integral to a systems rollout in the division and continued to support the project by developing and reviewing training materials. Her store is consistently among the top performers on Shaw’s customer experience survey, and her efforts have resulted in increased store sales and EBITDA; according to employees, she creates an energetic workplace. A passionate advocate for the homeless, Lufkin is a frequent volunteer at shelters. For her store, she organized a Trick or Trunk event with the local Boys and Girls Club,and a Toys for Tots event with the Marine Corps.

Mary Griffith

Store Manager, Tops Store #535, Carmel, N.Y.

Griffith improved store sales and profitability by lowering the total store shrink rate by 50 basis points; she managed to increase total store sales despite a negative trend in retail pharmacy sales. Dedicated to creating a culture that revolves around perpetuating remarkable customer experiences, she included associates in the planning process, developing their skill sets and making them integral members of the team. At the Cupcake Festival that supports the Miles of Hope Foundation. Griffith and her team raised more than $3,000.



Safe, Convenient & Efficient: The Keys for Meeting the COVID-19 Challenge Digimarc is committed to helping grocery retailers stay safe and productive during this difficult time. We’re offering a free retail tech assessment to demonstrate how stores can leverage Digimarc for touchless shopping.

SAFE, CONVENIENT & EFFICIENT: The Keys for Meeting the COVID-19 Challenge

“COVID-19 has removed one of the main objections to scan-and-go: the problem of shrink due to theft.” Heidi Dethloff, Vice President of Marketing, Digimarc

implementing a reliable method of connecting off-line properties, such as packaging, catalogs, store displays, etc., to ecommerce channels.

Q&A with Heidi Dethloff, Vice President of Marketing, Digimarc Q: Grocery retailers are now experiencing the “new normal” of operating during COVID-19. From a big picture perspective, how do you see the challenge? A: In the short term the focus is, of course, on frontline hygiene and safety for employees and shoppers, as well as limiting human contact when possible, using technology whenever feasible. Across the board, there is an emphasis on touchless checkout, minimizing cash payments, restricting shelf stocking to after hours, and dropping off ecommerce orders at household doorsteps, rather than interacting with consumers. But in the long term, we see a great emphasis on selfcheckout—including scan-and-go— along with a need to find efficiencies in online grocery processes, plus

Q: You mention scan-and-go, which is not new, but has not had the kind of wide-spread adoption some have predicted. Is it scan-and-go’s moment? A: It might well be. In many ways, it is a checkout system ideally suited to the challenges associated with COVID-19. It’s safe, allowing shoppers to skip checkout entirely, it also helps with the challenges of labor shortages, freeing up employees for other tasks. And COVID-19 has also removed one of the main objections to scan-and-go: the problem of shrink due to theft. This issue is now minimized because the exits/entrances are now manned by employees and there is more control over shopper movement because of social distancing requirements. Retailers can work with Digimarc to implement scan-and-go using their shopper app, or in conjunction with us and our partners Zebra or Re-Vision. Q: Online grocery is surging as shoppers embrace home delivery and store pickup. Besides the obvious “blocking and tackling” these services requires, are there

other considerations retailers should keep in mind? A: McKinsey & Company in a recent article recommended accelerating investments in a seamless online-tooffline experience to better serve the customer. Digimarc for connected print helps address this; retailers can digitally connect print catalogs and store displays with their ecommerce sites, creating a full, omnichannel experience for shoppers. Q: If I want to augment my retail operations with technology that can help my employees and customers work and shop safely and efficiently during COVID-19, how do I start? A: Digimarc delivers a safe and touchless store experience for both shoppers and employees. Learn more by visiting our site at and requesting a free retail tech assessment. Heidi Dethloff specializes in business-tobusiness (B2B) marketing and is an active speaker and participant in retail and consumer brand events. Prior to joining Digimarc, Heidi worked at IBM as Global Vice President of Midmarket Marketing as well as several public relations and digital marketing agencies.


Food Safety & Sanitation

How to be a Post-Pandemic Grocer THE FUTURE OF FOOD RE TAILING REQUIRES INCRE ASED VIGIL ANCE AROUND FOOD SAFE T Y AND SANITATION TO DELIVER A NE X TGENER ATION STORE E XPERIENCE. By Gina Acosta he high-tech touchless grocery store that Amazon opened in Seattle this past February was viewed by some in the grocery industry as an expensive gimmick, a multimillion-dollar publicity stunt. The future of grocery retail? No way. It’s never gonna work, many said. Then a highly contagious respiratory disease called COVID-19 came along and blew up everyone’s idea of the future of retail. Now, food retailers are scrambling to add many of the contactless shopping features that Amazon was thinking about years ago, when it first developed the Go concept. Back then, Amazon had no way of knowing that in the year 2020, going to the grocery store would be viewed by many consumers as a life-or-death matter. But Amazon did know that eliminating pain points — things such as navigating crowds, standing close to other people in a long checkout line, having to pass dirty cash to a cashier or swipe a credit card through a grimy terminal — was always going to be a good idea. Today, making a shopper endure those pain points seems like an outdated way to retail. COVID has made touch-free grocery, sanitation and automation the new way forward in the grocery channel as consumers demand a safer shopping experience. Now, Kroger is touchless, Publix is touchless, and Walmart is more touchless than Target, or is it the other way around? Everyone, from the corner gas station to the local Outback Steakhouse to the nail salon down the street, is going touchless. And as the pandemic wears on, it’s clear that touchless commerce and many other changes, especially those having to do with safety and sanitation, are here to stay in the food and grocery industries. At the Amazon Go Grocery store in Seattle, contactless shopping is on perfect display, with no touchpoints at all except for whatever products a consumer may grab to purchase and "just walk out" with.


Key Takeaways Convert self-service features to full service. Now is the time to audit your ventilation system. Robots are cleaner and cheaper.

Designing for COVID

Since the onset of the pandemic, many grocery retailers have been doing a heroic job of implementing a rigorous regimen of safety practices throughout the store: outfitting employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) and frequently cleaning shopping carts, checkout counters and payment PIN pads. Other retailers have focused on ramping up e-commerce services such as curbside pickup, scan-and-go, and contactless payments. But the next phase of post-pandemic food retail is going to require a lot more than spraying door handles and offering Apple Pay. It’s going to require a fundamental shift in the way that food retailers think about their stores. “We’re thinking strategically with our clients about how to make improvements throughout the store so that you have smarter, more creative solutions than, say, one-way aisles,” says John Scheffel, VP and director of visual design for api(+), a Tampa, Fla.-based design and architecture firm specializing in the grocery sector that has designed stores for Ahold Delhaize, Schnucks, Southeastern Grocers, Lowes Foods and The Fresh Market, among others. Scheffel says that many current


Food Safety & Sanitation

At Lowes Foods in North Carolina, grocery design firm api(+) created a bakery department kiosk called Bread Crumb. It is designed to be a free-floating service area that gives customers the feeling that they are in a self-service bakery. But the kiosk is full-service, with bagged bread on the outside of the kiosk. Employees will slice or help select breads for customers.

pandemic-related practices in food retail may be temporary, but they will be permanent in terms of coming back again and again. “Some social distancing measures in-store are going to be temporary things that reappear,” he says, “so they could be reimplemented with additional waves of cases or another virus. Measures might ease in between and then need to be enforced again. But there will be some permanent changes in people's mentalities and philosophies as a result of COVID-19.” That's why some grocery retailers are already preparing to make permanent changes to their store layouts in 2020 and beyond. Some of those changes include improving air circulation in-store (more on that later). Other changes include thinking about ways to eliminate as many touchpoints in the store as possible (no more self-serve bagels or bulk food bins). Some of Scheffel's grocer clients have been calling him to make “plan changes related to converting self-service features to full-service,” among other changes. “For example, we have a client that has a soup station in their plan. Right now, they're not convinced that the self-service part of the soup station would go away. But salad bars, they’re definitely rethinking that,” Scheffel says. “I think buffets will be a thing of the past, and self-service is definitely going to diminish greatly. You know, one of our clients, they are known for their doughnuts, and it’s self-serve. So right now, [due to COVID-19,] they're not doing self-serve, they are having employees serve the doughnuts to customers. We’ve suggested they create a doughnut shop, and that’s great, because if you go to a doughnut shop, the doughnuts are never self-service.” Scheffel is working with many clients making changes such as adding capacity to their curbside pickup operations inside and outside of the store, including more parking spaces for customers. Others are adding hand-washing stations spaced throughout the store, or considering having a host or hostess help seat customers in dining areas


to meet social-distancing guidelines. “Retailers should be reconfiguring their stores to support the consumer demand for hygienic, safe experiences,” affirms Mara Behrens, VP of design and marketing at Hayward, Calif.-based Chowbotics, the maker of Sally, a robot that makes customized salads. “This requires innovative design solutions that not only reduce fear, but reinstill the levels of trust and enjoyment that shoppers experienced prior to the pandemic.” Behrens adds that her company is seeing strong interest from retailers seeking to reinvent their salad bars with robotics. As consumers keep social distancing, retailers must find a way to optimize their shopping journey, given the conflicting forces between their desire for a safer shopping experience and retailers’ desire to increase engagement and uplift, according to Arvin Jawa, VP of retail strategy at North Canton, Ohio-based technology company Diebold Nixdorf. “To further minimize the number of device touches and screen contact, user interfaces can be augmented with predictive modeling capabilities, contactless payment, video coupled with machine learning for product recognition, or even executing part of the checkout process on the consumer’s smartphone,” Jawa says. “These are measures that retailers will need to consider in order to further gain trust with consumers that their shopping environments are both safe and efficient.”

Clean = Trust

When it comes to safety, the primary focus for many grocers in meeting the new normal has been to increase cleaning and disinfection of the entire store before opening the following morning (i.e., a nightly deep clean). However, consumers are traumatized about shopping in what they perceive as a germ-filled store, so a nightly deep clean isn’t going to be enough to earn shopper loyalty post-COVID. “The way we think about the whole sanitation process, and enhanced sanitation process, is just cleaning,” says Bob Robinson Jr., VP of sales at Hamilton, Ohio-based Kaivac, a manufacturer of professional cleaning equipment designed for use in the restaurant, grocery and foodservice industries. “So if you are cleaning correctly in the beginning, there’s nothing really to enhance. There is no need to do a deep clean if you have the right cleaning procedures.” The “right cleaning procedures” and products may vary from retailer to retailer, based on their specific situations, but one universal best practice is to establish clear standard operating procedures, including checklists, to ensure that all stores are cleaned consistently. A lot of retailers historically have used third-party

independent contractors to cut sanitation costs. Cleaning has now moved from a cost center to a profit center, however: Consumers aren’t going to shop your store unless they see aggressive and obvious evidence of enhanced sanitation, and employees will have to be trained on the correct protocols, including how to follow the instructions on EPA-approved cleaning product labels. “Now a lot of retailers are saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got to take charge of our scope of work,’ because they realize their cleaning practices have got to be visible to the customer,” Kaivac’s Robinson notes. His company is helping retailers train employees to be enhanced sanitation experts in the COVID era. Robinson adds that employees need to be trained on how to properly clean conveyor belts, shopping cart handles and other common touchpoint areas. For example, spraying the rag, and then cleaning the shopping cart, is not proper procedure; you have to spray the surface, and then wipe it with a clean cloth. “We’re working on programs and protocols to help retailers,” Robinson asserts. “Identifying common touchpoints, identifying your highest loads, but then building systems that could be customized training videos, customized programs and workloading systems to teach about cleaning.” Food retailers will also have to be more proactive and transparent about their cleaning practices when it comes to ventilation systems. In an exclusive interview with Progressive Grocer, mechanical engineer Luke Leung, who helped design the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, among other notable structures, says that retailers should be taking steps to mitigate virus transmission through ventilation systems. “Retailers should increase their [HVAC] filters to MERV 13, increase outside air, and consider use of UV-C light in air-handling units or ductwork. In selected spaces, maybe they should have ceiling fans drawing air up and provide upper-room UV-C light to clean the recirculated air, if outside air is insufficient or an enhanced filter is not possible,” observes Leung, who is director of the MEP + Sustainable Engineering Studio for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a Chicago-based commercial architecture and design firm. Leung adds that retailers should avoid prolonged instances of air blowing from one area to others with no filtering. For example, with

I think buffets will be a thing of the past. I think self-service is definitely going to diminish greatly. You know, one of our clients, they are known for their doughnuts, and it’s self-serve. So right now, [due to COVID-19,] they’re not doing self-serve; they are having employees serving the doughnuts to customers. So what they’ve done is create a doughnut shop, and that’s great, because if you go to a doughnut shop, the doughnuts are never self-service.” —John Scheffel, api(+)

summer now here, a fan or air-conditioning unit blowing air from one checkout stand onto others with no filter should be avoided. Meanwhile, Scheffel, of API(+), notes: “Airplanes recirculate their air every two to three minutes and have been outfitted to deal with airborne pandemics like COVID-19. I think we’ll see stores adjusting their priorities when it comes to HVAC.” Another solution for retailers looking to prevent in-store spread could be installing portable sinks so that employees and customers can easily wash their hands. Handwashing with soap is a proven method for reducing the spread of the virus, so it’s imperative to make it easily accessible, urges Martin Watts, founder and CEO of Ozark River Manufacturing Co., in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Amazon, MGM Grand, Sony Pictures, Toyota, Boeing and Cracker Barrel are considering this option as states reopen.

Rise of the Robots

Food retailers large and small are also relying on automation to solve several facets of the pandemic safety challenge. They’re expanding how they use robots to keep employees safer, increase social distancing and reduce the number of staff that have to physically come to work. For example, Walmart is using robots to scrub its floors. Bryan Smith, senior marketing manager for the Americas at Minneapolis-based Tennant Co., says that robots free up staff time for cleaning and disinfection. “Robotic cleaning machines allow retailers to rapidly increase cleaning frequency without increasing labor costs,” Smith observes. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Brain Corp., which produces AI software that Tennant and others use to power their robotic floor scrubbers, has seen a significant uptick in usage. During the first four months of the year, use of BrainOS-powered robotic floor scrubbers in U.S. retail locations rose 18% compared with the same period last year, including a 24% year-over-year increase in April, according to Brain Corp data. Of that 18% yearto-date increase, more than two-thirds (68%) occurred during the daytime, between 6 a.m. and 5:59 p.m. “We expect this increase to continue as the value of automation and robotics comes sharply into focus,” says Phil Duffy, VP of innovation at San Diego-based Brain Corp. Another important benefit to retailers is that the autonomous robots allow companies to set and meet compliance standards in regard to daily cleaning routines. “Via cloud-based operational metrics, they can accurately measure things like cleaning coverage and time spent cleaning per day,” notes Duffy. “Those metrics provided by the robots enable store managers to track the work that has been done, compare that data against their compliance targets, and with that, optimize cleaning quality and consistency.” Now is the time for food retailers to start putting the foundations in place to make their stores safer to shop. PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020





an Tharp began her career in consumer packaged goods nearly 30 years ago as a packaging engineer. She joined the San Diego-based Bumble Bee Seafood Co. as SVP of operations a decade ago and was named COO in October 2012. Tharp was subsequently elevated to the role of CEO in May 2018 amid a series of legal issues that led to a bankruptcy filing last fall, followed by an acquisition of the company earlier this year by longtime supplier partner FCF. With a tumultuous period behind Bumble Bee and a new, supportive owner, Tharp has successfully navigated choppy waters to rally her team to focus on product innovation, sustainability and creating a new generation of seafood lovers.

Progressive Grocer: Bumble Bee was just putting past difficulties behind it when COVID-19 emerged to spark a new set of challenges. How was Bumble Bee affected by the outbreak, and where do things stand today? Jan Tharp: There is so much By putting people uncertainty in the world right now, and we know people are first, deeply believing counting on the food industry in creating better food, and to come through. Because of fighting for the health of our the industry we are in, we’ve oceans, we’re poised to deliver had to become a very agile and adaptable organization the original superfood that is over the years, and we’ve been seafood in accessible, versatile, able to apply those learnings affordable and innovative ways and best practices to navigate our company through the for generations of seafood pandemic. No matter what, lovers to come.” we’re taking our role and —Jan Tharp, Bumble Bee responsibility very seriously, and the health and safety of our employees and community will always be our top priority. From moving to a work-from-home environment in 48 hours to immediately protecting our factory team members with proper PPE [personal protective equipment] and protectionary health and safety policies like bonus pay, vacation benefits and periodic meals, to a product donation valued at over $1 million dollars to communities where we operate, I am so proud of our team and their commitment to putting people first in everything we do. Because of that commitment to the health and wellness of our team members, we can and will keep our operations up and running to meet demand, and ensure consumers have safe, versatile, great-tasting sources of protein available to them.


PG: How did the Bumble Bee supply chain hold up to the unprecedented surge in demand retailers saw during March and April? Were you able to keep the pipeline filled? JT: We absolutely have seen a spike in demand — some of our product lines saw an increase of 100% or more in March alone. We had to temporarily pause production of many of our SKUs to ensure that we could keep our most popular products on store shelves, but despite the surges in demand, we’ve been in business for more than a century and have deep experience and expertise in supply chain management. We’ve been in constant and consistent communication with both our suppliers and customers, and we’re making good progress in returning towards a more normal demand/supply balance.

PG: Before we get into Bumble Bee’s strategy and new sustainability commitments, are you able to spend time on fishing vessels, and have you ever caught a tuna? JT: I have been aboard several purse seiners and a few long liners while in port for offloading in American Samoa, Blacks Harbour, Fiji and Mauritius. The captains and crew aboard these vessels are amazing people who love the ocean and dedicate their time and energy to responsibly harvest fish around the globe. It is an extremely difficult occupation to be in search of highly migratory fish while fighting against many forces of nature. I have caught a tuna off the coast of Levuka, Fiji, in a small motor craft. I don’t have any of the amazing skills required to be a commercial fisher. I must also confess that I was not able to remove the fish from the line without assistance. I would love to say I caught a 25-kilogram fish, but that would be a true fish tale.

PG: Bumble Bee’s mission is to create a new generation of seafood lovers. How is that strategy coming to life? JT: We’re excited about the bold moves that Bumble Bee is making as our company moves into 2020 and beyond. Our company has developed a transformational strategy with a focus on growth and innovation. With a re-established “North Star” purpose and vision, and redefined values and guiding principles, we’re focused wholeheartedly on people, product and planet. By putting people first, deeply believing in creating better food, and fighting for the health of our oceans, we’re poised to deliver the original superfood that is seafood in accessible, versatile, affordable and innovative ways for generations of seafood lovers to come.

PG: How does a company like Bumble Bee balance the business objectives of increasing consumption with the need to maintain fishery health? JT: Our company is committed to protecting the planet, which starts by nurturing and fighting for the health of our oceans. With that said, ocean health directly relates to our business, which is extracting from the sea. For over 120 years, Bumble Bee has offered consumers healthy, lean, protein-packed products from wild-caught fisheries — fisheries that we continue to actively manage and protect, since they are the foundation of our product lines, and will be for generations to come. However, we recognize that wild-capture fisheries alone won’t be able to deliver enough seafood protein to meet growing demand and to feed a global population of 10 billion by 2050, so we need to find alternative ways to nurture the oceans and their ecosystems. For us, that means redefining how people think about, source, produce and consume seafood, with the goal of minimizing impact on fish and the planet, while influencing others to do the same.

PG: What prompted you to become so passionate about ocean health? JT: The ocean is our livelihood. It regulates our climate, produces over half of the world’s oxygen and provides an abundance of protein to feed families around the globe. Most importantly, there is only one

ocean. Protecting this beautiful resource is critical in protecting our existence here on this planet. From a business perspective, the ocean is inextricably linked to our supply chain, and fighting for ocean health is a vital part of our business strategy, both today and for generations to come. We know that as the global population grows, the demands on our limited natural resources will increase. Initiatives to protect the ocean from overfishing, foreign contaminants and other environmental impacts benefit all humanity. We have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to ensure this precious resource is healthy and the net effect of our business on the ocean is positive.

PG: Please elaborate on the major new sustainability commitments Bumble Bee announced in June. JT: Our sustainability journey at Bumble Bee started many years ago as a founding member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation, a partnership of scientists, seafood industry players and environmental groups that researches, shares and advocates for best practices and policies in sustainable fishing. Today, we’re accelerating our actions for the planet and the billions of people who rely on seafood for sustenance. From our partnerships with FCF and Ocean Outcomes to invest in a first-of-its-kind fishery improvement project in the Indian Ocean, to extending our collaboration with the Ghost Gear Initiative to find and collect abandoned fishing equipment, to enabling blockchain technology to track our fish from ocean to plate, to eliminating plastic shrink on our multipacks so our packaging will be close to 96% recyclable, we’re focused on advocating for sustainable fishing while fighting for the health of our oceans.

PG: What sort of goals have you set? JT: Looking ahead, we’re setting big goals for the future and are building flexibility and accountability into our plans. By 2022, our goal is for 100% of our light tuna to come from Marine Stewardship Council PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020




(MSC)-certified fisheries, and by 2023, to have all our longline albacore come from a credible fishery improvement project. By 2025, we want 98% of our packaging to be recyclable. And over the next five years, we’re investing $50 million into an accelerator fund to continue closing the gap on some of our biggest sustainability challenges. This is an initiative I’m proud to drive and track closely so our team can pursue new ideas, partners and technologies. We are excited to try new things and establish our commitments to sustainability, adapting as we go for maximum impact.

PG: Was this commitment to sustainability a factor in Bumble Bee’s decision to enter into an agreement with plant-based seafood provider Gathered Foods? JT: We’re on a quest to do better when it comes to seafood and the oceans that inspire it, and our recent partnership with Gathered Foods, makers of Good Catch, lives that truth. We’re the first and only major seafood company to get into the plant-based business, and we couldn’t be more excited to play a lead role in accelerating the accessibility of plant-based seafood for consumers around the globe. It’s a bold move, both for us as a company and as we continue to prioritize the health of our oceans in our long-term commitment to sustainability.

PG: Are Americans ready for plant-based seafood? How is the taste and texture? JT: We think so! Seafood is the next wave in the plant-based revolution that’s been centered in the dairy and meat aisle so far. We know flexitarian consumers are demanding more and more meat alternatives as sales of plant-based proteins continue to soar, so the time is definitely right. Gathered Foods’ Good Catch has an innovative lineup of plant-based tuna that consumers are loving — the taste and texture are spot-on, and it provides another option to enjoy great-tasting, healthy seafood. Good Catch is also in a unique position to satisfy the growing consumer appetite for plant-based seafood, and now they have a partner to boost their ability to meet the ever-growing demand and increase availability in local grocery aisles. It’s a win for Bumble Bee, Good Catch, consumers and the health of our oceans.

PG: Bumble Bee is an iconic brand in the sense that it has been around a long time, but what does your research tell you about how consumers perceive the brand? JT: The brand has a very healthy reputation. It’s viewed as a high-quality and trusted brand. The challenges we face are really


category challenges. Until recently, the category has stopped reminding consumers of all of the incredible attributes of seafood and shelf-stable seafood. Our job is to not only remind consumers of that, but develop products that are relevant to their taste profiles and how they are preparing and consuming foods to go.

PG: Many retailers have aggressive plans to grow their own brands. What makes Bumble Bee an essential brand important to driving category growth? JT: Bumble Bee is in a unique position to drive category growth with our collection of ocean-inspired brands. As we lean into consumer insights to accelerate growth and innovation, we’re focused on our mission to create a new generation of seafood lovers by delivering delicious, healthy, sustainable seafood options in fresh new ways that continue to set Bumble Bee apart.

PG: Let’s look ahead. You’ve been in the CPG industry for nearly 30 years and seen a lot of change. You’ve also seen, and helped drive, a lot of change at Bumble Bee for the past 10 years. Talk about the change you see coming in the next five to 10 years regarding consumer behavior, national brands and retail overall. JT: Consumer behavior over the next five to 10 years will continue to change, and the velocity of change will happen at unprecedented speed. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of e-commerce across the globe, and consumers will now incorporate click-and-collect food purchases into their routines on a much more frequent basis going forward. E-commerce has many implications for CPG, from supply chain considerations, to decisions and changes around packaging structure and graphics, to how products are marketed online versus a brick-and-mortar format. The rise in e-commerce will also have a lasting impact on retail, forcing changes in store size and layout, assortment, and their consumer marketing strategies. National brands with robust but agile supply chains and solid food safety protocols have an opportunity going forward in this new normal as consumers look to brands they trust with product consistency, quality and food safety. National brands will need to ensure they stay relevant by meeting their consumers’ needs, and that their products are accessible in the channels consumers are now shopping.

PG: What do you consider to be the greatest opportunities for the next generation of future women industry leaders? JT: There are so many opportunities for women leaders of the future. As the world around us changes at record pace, it creates opportunities to think about business differently. Anyone can be a great leader; it is a skillset we learn by watching, listening, and trial and error. Great companies are formed by great people, and focusing on people will always create significant opportunities. Leaders who can create environments where team members are encouraged to take calculated risks, and failures are used to learn and grow, where diversity in thought and perspective is welcomed and rewarded, will create significant opportunity to not only have better business results, but stronger future leaders. Everyone has unlimited potential; the challenge of leadership is getting people to see that most barriers are self-imposed.

PG: How did you achieve your level of success, considering the gender gap in the CPG sector, especially among leadership? JT: I have been very fortunate in my career. I have had opportunities

to lead through extremely challenging situations in different companies and in various roles. With each challenge, I have grown as a person and a leader. I have also been very fortunate to be surrounded by team members who are exceptionally talented, driven and collaborative. I believe in servant leadership and the listen-and-learn model. Any success I may have is clearly built upon and shared with all the wonderful team members I have been surrounded by throughout the years.

PG: Let’s end on this: When guests visit the Tharp household, what is your go-to seafood recipe? JT: I make an incredible tuna salad using a combination of our albacore canned tuna and our yellowfin canned tuna in olive oil. The oil holds the recipe together, so mayonnaise isn’t required. I use chopped jalapeños, avocado, red onion, fresh cilantro, dried cranberries, chickpeas, celery and pumpkin seeds. I eat it for breakfast, lunch, a snack or for dinner, and oftentimes do, but not everyone in my household thinks tuna is a breakfast food. That is still a work in process!

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Diversity & Inclusion

Have a Seat

More women are joining the boards of directors at industry corporations. By Lynn Petrak

America’s companies, including CPGs and retailers, are getting on board with more gender-diverse boards of directors. While there has been an ongoing push for greater female representation in leadership positions and boardrooms, the pace of change — and the impetus behind it — has picked up in recent years. According to the 2019 Gender Diversity Index, released by the 2020 Women on Boards (2020WOB) organization and conducted by Equilar, women hold 20.4% of board seats on a national basis for the first time. In a 2019 survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), women were found to hold 24% of board seats in Standard and Poor (S&P) 500 companies, compared with 19% in 2013. Each company in the S&P 500 had at least one woman on its board of directors as of the time of the survey. The 2019 U.S. Spencer Stuart Board Index that assesses board governance practices also supports growing inclusivity. That index showed that women represented 46% of the most recent class of new directors on S&P 500 boards, the most since 2004. Within the consumer goods industry, more females are in board directorship roles today. According to the “Board Monitor U.S. 2019” report from Heidrick and Struggles, 63% of the 183 director positions filled by women in 2018 were in the consumer goods industry, followed by the industrial and financial services sectors. Comparatively, in 2017, the majority of new board members served on industrial boards. There are several examples of more balanced governance in the CPG and retail industries. In its Gender Diversity Index, 2020WOB/Equilar distinguishes some organizations with boards of directors as “winning,” compared with those that are “transforming,” “very close” or at “zero.” Walmart, for


Spotlight: Industry Women on Boards

Buoyed by multiple generations of women (and men), the path to parity has been helped along by individuals and groups that have banded together with a common goal of more equitable representation.

If the number and caliber of female leaders chosen as Progressive Grocer ’s Top Women in Grocery have grown in recent years, the state of change in the industry is also creating a pipeline of future female directors. While some female board members have a background in complementary or otherwise relevant industries, CPG companies and retailers with boards have also added directors with a strong breadth and depth within the food industry. At the nation’s top CPG companies, more women have been named to boards in recent years, shifting the composition and, sometimes, the focus of those organizations. Likewise, there are examples of women who are making inroads in directorships of retail companies with boards of directors, as part of their leadership teams. Let’s meet a few of these top women in board leadership:

CPG Companies Rosalind Brewer, Starbucks: Brewer is COO and group president of Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. and continues to serve on the board of directors, to which she was appointed in March 2017. She came to Starbucks from another high-profile position at Sam’s Club and is a current director of Amazon and a former director of Lockheed Martin and Molson Coors Brewing Co. Shona Brown, PepsiCo: Brown is one of three women on the 12-person board of directors at Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo. She is CEO and a director at Kohl’s Corp., which she joined after working in a variety of roles with Starbucks Corp. and The Procter & Gamble Co. Mikel A. Durham, Tyson Foods Inc.: Durham has been a director at Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods since 2015. She was named CEO at American Seafoods Group in 2017, and prior to that was the global chief commercial officer of CSM Bakery Solutions. Durham gained other industry experience at PepsiCo, Guinness, Burger King North America and Cadbury Schweppes. Alexis M. Herman, The Coca-Cola Co.: Herman is one of five women on a 12-person board at Atlanta-based Coca-Cola and chairs the board’s policy and sustainability committee. Chair and CEO of New Ventures LLC, she first joined the Coca-Cola board in 2007. In addition to Coca-Cola’s board, she has served as chair of the business advisory board of food and facilities management company Sodexo Inc. and is director at Cummins Inc., Entergy Corp. and MGM Resorts International. Herman was U.S. secretary of labor from 1997 to 2001. Lois D. Juliber, Mondeléz International: She is one of three women on a board of 12 at Deerfield, Ill.-based Mondeléz International. Retired from her last role as vice chairman of the Colgate-Palmolive Co., where she was also COO, Juliber also spent 15 years at Mondeléz’s predecessor organization, General Foods Corp. Additionally, she’s a director at Corteva Inc., and a former director at DowDuPont Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020


Breakdown by Company Size on the Russell 3000 Index


Diversity & Inclusion example, earned a “winning,” or “W,” rating on the index for having three women on a board of 12. In the arena of large CPGs, Conagra Brands has three women out of 11 members and Kraft Heinz has four out of 11, also earning these companies a “W” distinction.













Percent of Women on Boards




Total Women







Percent of Women on Boards




Total Women




Total DIrectors




Percent of Women on Boards




Total Women




Total DIrectors




Percent of Women on Boards




Total Women




Total DIrectors




RUSSELL 100 Percent of Women on Boards Total Women

Gender-Representative Growth Factors

Total DIrectors

There are various and simultaneous reasons behind the recent progress in balancing boards of CPG companies and food retailers to include more women. Part of the focus stems from a broader women’s movement over the past few years, tied to events and discourse in the cultural, entertainment and political realms. That movement has led to pressure from stakeholders and consumers to make companies, including major CPG businesses, move faster to give female leaders a fair shot at the table. Buoyed by multiple generations of women (and men), the path to parity has been helped along by individuals and groups that have banded together with a common goal of more equitable representation. One of those initiatives is 2020WOB. Started in 2011, the group was founded to create awareness and actions to raise the percentage of women on the boards of Fortune 1000 corporations to 20% or greater by 2020, through events around the country and other grass-roots and high-profile outreach efforts. The 20% goal was reached in 2017, after which 2020WOB shifted its goal to the roster of Russell 3000 Index companies, composed of 3,000 large U.S. companies as determined by market capitalization. The newly formed Women on Boards (WOB) Project is another organization that advocates for more gender diversity on boards. The co-chair of the project is Sheryl O’Loughlin, former CEO of Rebbl Inc. and Clif Bar and Co., and co-founder of Plum Organics. Already in 2020, the WOB Project has partnered with private-equity firms and at least 20 companies committed to adding at least one woman or more to their boards.


Total DIrectors

RUSSELL 1001-2000

RUSSELL 2001-3000


2019-18 Percentage of Board Seats Held by Women, by Industry Sector 2019




22% 17%

Percent of Companies



24% 19.8%

19.5% 17%



Basic Materials






Consumer Goods






Health Care



Industrial Goods






Note: Based on the Russell 3000 Index for the years 2019 and 2018. Yahoo Finance Industry Sectors provided by Equilar. Source: Russell 3000 Index 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index

23% 19.6%












Industry Women on Boards continued

In addition to the influence of advocacy and activist organizations, various forms of legislation and quotas have been other, albeit controversial, catalysts in the influx of more women directors. A 2018 California law called for all boards of public companies with headquarters in the state to have at least one female director by 2019 and two female directors for boards with five directors. Such mandates have both fans and detractors. The notion had a lukewarm reception in the 2019 Annual Corporate Directors Survey from PwC, with 83% of directors saying that they don’t believe legislation is the best way to create a diverse board. Moreover, that assessment is shared by 54% of female directors. At the same time, many businesses with boards of directors are coming to the realization — without legislation — that their leadership should comprise people who reflect their consumer base. As the “Board Monitor” report from Heidrick and Struggles notes: “Recently, we have encountered more boards that make it clear from the outset of a search that they do not want to merely see a diverse slate of candidates — on many measures of diversity — but that they intend to appoint a diverse candidate.” The scale isn’t yet balanced in that regard, however. According to the WOB Project, women drive 70% to 80% of consumer purchases, and are accordingly underrepresented on boards of directors of companies that provide such products. Celia Huber, senior partner at the Silicon Valley office of the McKinsey consulting firm, underscores the gaps between company leadership and the audiences their companies serve. “Even in retail, which one would argue has the most women at entry level and women as customers, it was a variety of percentages of gender diversity on the boards,” Huber remarks in a McKinsey podcast on the topic. “Even in retail, it was the CEO and chairman who explicitly had to put women on the board and make that a goal to make this really happen.” A board that mirrors its diverse marketplace can reap several benefits. In PwC’s survey, 94% of respondents said that board diversity leads to unique perspectives, and 87% believe that diversity enhances board performance.

The Female Futurecast

Despite recent progress, parity in the boardroom is still some way off. The Gender Diversity Index found that 311 companies on the Russell 3000 Index still have no women on their boards. If 1.0 is parity, the current rate of women on boards is 0.43. Other research reveals a hint of waning enthusiasm after several years of focus on gender-diverse boards. PwC’s 2019 Annual Corporate Directors Survey reveals that 38% of directors agree that gender diversity is important to their boards, down from 46% in 2018. More than two-thirds (63%) of directors say that there has been too much attention on gender diversity.

Patricia Little, McCormick & Co. Inc.: Little has been a board member at Hunt Valley, Md.-based McCormick since 2010 and serves on the nominating and corporate governance committee. She is the former SVP and CFO of The Hershey Co. Melissa Lora, Conagra Brands: Lora took a seat on Chicago-based Conagra Brands’ board of directors in January 2019 as one of 10 members. She has held a variety of leadership positions at Taco Bell Corp., including a role as president of its international business. Lora has also served on the board of homebuilder KB Home and of MGIC Investment Corp. Carolyn Tastad, Kellogg Co.: Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co. has appointed five women to the board of directors, which currently stands at 12 total members. Tastad joined the group in 2015 and serves on the manufacturing, the compensation and talent management, and the nominating and governance committees. She is group president, Procter & Gamble North America, and also serves on the board and executive committee of the Consumer Brands Association and the Cincinnati City Center Development Corp.

Retailers Jessica Blume, Publix Super Markets: Blume was a consulting expert for more than 25 years at Deloitte, where she was national marketing director, managing director of research and innovation, and vice chair. She joined the board of Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix in 2016. Melanie L. Healy, Target Corp.: Former group president, North America of The Procter & Gamble Co., Healy held several other leadership roles at that CPG company, and also worked in market leadership roles at Johnson & Johnson and S.C. Johnson & Sons. She has served on the board of Minneapolis-based Target since 2015. Sue Klug, Gelson’s Markets: Encino, Calif.-based Gelson’s appointed Klug in 2019. The former grocery industry executive is currently chief marketing officer and EVP at Republic Services, a recycling and nonhazardous solid-waste disposal company. Before joining Republic Services, she was a chief marketing officer and EVP for Unified Grocers and spent nearly a decade with Albertsons. Klug has also served on the board of the Independent Grocers Alliance and the Western Association of Food Chains. Susan J. Kropf, The Kroger Co.: On the board of Cincinnati-based Kroger since 2007, Kropf is retired from her latest position as president and COO of Avon Products Inc. She has served on many boards of public companies and works on the compensation and corporate governance board of Kroger, where she’s one of four female board directors. Marissa A. Mayer, Walmart: The co-founder of Lumi Labs and former president and CEO of Yahoo!. Inc., Mayer joined Walmart’s board in 2012 and serves on the compensation and management development and the technology and e-commerce committees. Before joining Lumi Labs and Yahoo!, she spent more than a decade at Google Inc. PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020




Fall Together IN THE WAKE OF A PANDEMIC, WHAT MIGHT CELEBR ATIONS LOOK LIKE THIS AUTUMN? By Bridget Goldschmidt e may be in the midst of global pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that all celebrations have ground to a halt. As Americans navigate how to mark such summer events as graduations, the Fourth of July and Labor Day in a world where social distancing is still in effect even as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, retailers are beginning to look toward fall, which brings its own share of entertaining occasions, among them tailgating parties, Halloween and, of course, Thanksgiving. How are these festivities likely to be affected by coronavirus fears?

“With so much uncertainty right now, it is difficult to say exactly what will happen a few months from now,” admits Jeremiah McElwee, chief merchandising officer at Los Angeles-based organic e-grocer Thrive Market. “But if current climate is any indication, I would expect Zoom calls and Facetime to be the norm for autumn gatherings as we social distance to avoid spreading COVID-19.” As a recent example of such an event, McElwee offers, “We had an amazing turnout for our Zoom-based wine-tasting event, and everyone was so delighted and happy.”

Key Takeaways Virtual and smaller in-person gatherings will likely predominate. Traditional seasonal recipes will come to the fore, along with smaller and single-serve items. Retailers can leverage social media, business partnerships and delivery services to promote their products.



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As for how his company is faring, he notes: “We have seen tremendous growth this year so far, and we do not expect that to slow down any time soon. Even if restaurants and social gathering spots start opening up, many new people have discovered the joy of shopping online for [their] organic groceries, and just how much safer and time-saving it is.” For fall specifically, when it comes to promoting foods suitable for entertaining, like its popular healthy snack assortment, Thrive intends to “feature them front and center on our homepage, but also send out special features and offers via email to help our members find exciting new and old favorites every day,” according to McElwee.

Private Parties

Even when people get together in person, they won’t be assembling in large numbers for the foreseeable future. “It is likely that the guidance of social distancing will continue limiting the number of people congregating together; therefore, traditional Halloween, Thanksgiving and tailgating parties will be curtailed until the major threat is past,” notes “Cocktail Chameleon” and home-entertaining expert Mark Addison, an award-winning author, designer and producer. “Humans crave social interactions, which is why virtual parties became mainstream events during the COVID-19 pandemic and are here to stay through the fall and

I would expect Zoom calls and Facetime to be the norm for autumn gatherings as we social distance to avoid spreading COVID-19.” —Jeremiah McElwee, Thrive Market holiday entertaining season. We will see fewer people traveling for holidays, opting to stay home and celebrate in small groups. Intimate events will replace large public events for Halloween, and Thanksgiving will become more personal and certainly more meaningful.”

Comfort Foods

The concept of gratitude resonates with Ashley Lind, director of consumer insight at Chicago-based Conagra Brands, which offers such autumn-appropriate food staples as Swiss Miss Pumpkin Spice Cocoa, Duncan Hines seasonal baking mixes and the Slim Jim Halloween pack. “As we find ourselves in these strange, often isolat-

! W E N


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ed and sometimes monotonous times, I think many people have also found a new appreciation for togetherness, connection and a desire to make moments like these a little extra special for loved ones,” asserts Lind. “So, this year, I can see these gatherings carrying some extra significance for families as they come together and perhaps use food — which has become an activity in its own right throughout the pandemic, with the rise of families cooking and baking together — to celebrate.”

To that end, she continues: “Most of these autumn gatherings have long-standing traditions associated with them — both collective ones that span our culture and those that are highly personal to us and our families. And, like most good traditions, these ones — tailgating, Halloween, Thanksgiving — come with their own iconic food moments. I think we’ll see consumers embrace these food traditions, and we may see an increase in them re-creating nostalgic family recipes. Additionally, throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a growing number of younger consumers engaging more with cooking and starting to develop new skills. If extended families can’t be together on Thanksgiving, we may see some of these younger individuals and families cooking their own Thanksgiving dinners for the first time. But they may not have the same skills as their parents or grandparents, and may be on the lookout for helpers and hacks.”

Time for Turkey

That’s where turkey purveyors like iconic Garner, N.C.-based Butterball come in. “We anticipate that we may see more first-time Thanksgiving hosts this year, especially if fewer people


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choose to travel,” affirms Rebecca Welch, Butterball senior brand manager for seasonal products. “Fortunately, the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line is equipped and experienced with real experts on the phone, text, online chat or via the Butterball skill on Alexa to assist hosts of all types with their Thanksgiving meal questions. Although noting that “[i]t’s too early to tell what sales are going to look like this year,” Welch says: “At this point, we are planning to have as many Butterball whole turkeys and turkey products available to meet the needs for all types of celebrations. ... We saw a large spike in whole turkey sales in March as meat became scarce in grocery stores, a trend that continued through April. That early demand could put some pressure on supply this fall, especially if consumers continue to purchase turkey products, normally prepared during the holidays, between now and November. This is complicated by the large supply swings in beef and pork we see right now.” The best course of action for retailers, she advises, is “to have a wide variety of products to offer to meet virtually any need. We know this year’s holidays will likely look different from previous years’ celebrations, and it’s important to have options and equip consumers with everything they need to celebrate creatively. Additionally, retailers need to prepare their e-commerce storefronts to capture their fair share of online Thanksgiving orders. Consumers are using online grocery more than ever, and we expect that will persist in recovery and beyond.”

Something From the Oven

Trends in baked goods are also shifting as consumers and retailers adjust to new ways of celebrating in the wake of the pandemic “A higher sense of concern for food safety is present due to COVID-19,” observes Sarah Hickey, senior director market research and insights for North America at Jackson, Mich.-based Dawn Foods, which provides retail customers with a wealth of resources, from recipes and baking tips to videos and baking trends data. “For consumers, the product is as important as its packaging. Desserts may shift toward smaller and single-serve treats. Since the pandemic Individual cake slices and cake pops have gained in popularity since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.


We anticipate that we may see more first-time Thanksgiving hosts this year, especially if fewer people choose to travel.” —Rebecca Welch, Butterball began, we have seen a significant increase in grab-andgo cake product sales. Individual cake slices, cake bites and parfaits have all seen sales growth. Trends show the desire for half-sheet cakes that feed 75 people, and 10inch size pies, will not be as commonplace as their 4-inch, individually wrapped counterparts.” In regard to autumn, Hickey notes: “Fall is typically a very busy season for bakers. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, we believe consumers will continue to crave popular fall flavors, like pumpkin spice and sweet potato, with product size and packaging nuances. For example, Thanksgiving will most likely see a shift from multiple households under one roof to those households celebrating in each of their own homes. An order of two dozen doughnuts made with Dawn’s popular pumpkin or apple crisp cake doughnut mixes for one celebration can turn into double or triple the order for multiple households. Due to this, Dawn still anticipates an uptick in sales.” She suggests that in-store bakeries “should prioritize their product assortment. Focusing on what can be made well, at a low cost with minimal errors, is imperative. Complex recipes and decorating can take a backseat to staples like chocolate cake, blueberry muffins and glazed doughnuts reminding consumers of traditional comforts.” Hickey also points out that “bake-at-home kits and frozen offerings make great creative additions to any traditional menu. These kits allow consumers to bring home dessert staples that bring them comfort. A customer coming in and buying one item or a box of baked goods may not be as common for a while. The ability to buy doughnuts, muffins and cinnamon rolls by the dozen to take home and bake themselves may quickly become the new normal.” As for marketing these products, she recommends that retailers use social media to post such content as “how-to” videos, partner with local restaurants to provide desserts for their takeout orders, and consider offering a delivery service within a certain radius of their stores. The important thing to remember is that there will always be things worth celebrating, even during a global crisis. Discussing how the prepared food category is adapting through such strategies as providing more pre-packaged options that can be ordered ahead of time and picked up at the store, Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator at the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, notes, “We’ll get some innovation out of this,” adding, “It doesn’t mean we have to stop celebrating, just that we do it in a different way.”


Sweets & Snacks Trendcast


his year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo may have been canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that insights on the ever-important category aren’t available. For instance, Americans enjoy chocolate and candy two to three times per week on average, and research from the Washington, D.C.-based National Confectioners Association (NCA) shows that they give themselves a pass on eating chocolate and candy to help them maintain their emotional well-being: 86% of consumers agree that it’s completely fine to occasionally treat yourself with some chocolate or candy. During these anxious times especially, consumers are more likely than ever to indulge in a candy break. According to Erica Norton, director of global consumer insights, innovation at The Hershey Co., in Hershey, Pa., demand has been high for both mainstream and premium chocolate in recent weeks as consumers look to the category to serve a variety of needs. “Candy is a go-to for comfort and ‘me time’ moments, when people want to escape from the madness of their current situation,” affirms Norton. “Consumers are also reaching for candy to enhance their favorite


Key Takeaways Although COVID-19 has had a somewhat negative effect on the candy category, retailers that adjust their merchandising strategies to the new normal should see an uptick in sales. While seasonal sales are a category highlight, limited-edition versions of classic confectionery brands drive sales all year long in both the chocolate and nonchocolate segments. Retailers can still find opportunities in the candy aisle to engage with shoppers in fun and experiential ways, both online and in the store.


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Sweets & Snacks Trendcast

Celebrating the Seasons

The Hershey Co. has seen great consumer response to the limited-edition Kit Kat Birthday Cake variety.

stay-at-home activities like streaming movies.” She adds that although mainstream take-home chocolate is the fastest-growing individual segment, Hershey has seen extremely high growth in multipacks as consumers leverage these products for fun athome experiences like s’mores. “Other large ‘sharing’ bags and bars are also selling very well, due to the combination of comfort, portion-control snacking and excitement that they can provide,” notes Norton.

Navigating the New Normal

While COVID-19 has had something of a negative effect on the category, retailers that adjust their merchandising strategies to the new normal should see an uptick in sales. Jim Klein, chief customer officer at Ferrero USA, acknowledges that the Parsippany, N.J.-based company has seen a dip in front-of-store sales because of shoppers’ shift to self-checkouts, and an increase in curbside pickup. “Retailers have an opportunity to address the evolution of front-of-store purchases — how to queue and convert consumers in a world of increased contactless checkouts,” he says. Sally Lyons Wyatt, EVP and practice leader at Chicago-based data analytics and market research company Information Resources Inc. (IRI), believes that social and digital media should be a key ingredient for success in 2020, especially if consumers continue to stay home and/or limit their in-store shopping. “Retailers need to deepen their connections with their consumers to entice them into the store to shop, but also to offer a different engagement online,” advises Wyatt. “This multiprong approach should ensure retailers capture the attention of shoppers wherever they may be, before, during and after their trip.”

Candy is a go-to for comfort and ‘me time’ moments, when people want to escape from the madness of their current situation.” —Erica Norton, The Hershey Co.


That strategy is particularly important during holiday selling seasons (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and the winter holidays), when, according to the NCA, more than 60% of category sales occur. “Two of the main purchase drivers for confectionery are to celebrate and to gift,” says Mike Gilroy, VP of trade development and sponsorship at Hackettstown, N.J.based Mars Wrigley U.S. “Seasonal product offerings allow shoppers to purchase delicious treats for every celebration and gift their loved ones during the biggest times of the year.” “Seasonal confections are about moments, family, sharing and reflection on childhood,” notes Wyatt. “Consumers love to shop the seasonal aisle because of the themed products, and an engaging section and limited-time-only products drive excitement across the aisle.” Seasonal products also fuel category sales: NCA research finds that 16% of category sales are generated by seasonally coded items. Like other candy manufacturers, Mars Wrigley offers seasonal products for all core holidays to encourage connections and celebrations. Its Zombie Skittles, a mix of the five traditional fruit flavors plus a hidden “rotten” flavor, saw great success last Halloween, with consumers challenging one another to test their bravery over a bag of their favorite treat. Ferrero’s Kinder Joy, a modified version of the company’s hugely successful Kinder Surprise egg, which launched in the United States two years ago, has “been highly incremental to the category by attracting new users such as Millennial moms and Millennial Hispanic moms,” asserts Klein. Retailers should expect more display options from the brand during upcoming holiday seasons. Ferrero is also ramping up promotion of its new Golden Gallery Signature premium boxed chocolate line, as well as its Kinder Bueno bars. Both products target Millennial consumers.

While Supplies Last

Limited-edition versions of classic brands drive sales throughout the year. “While consumers still love our fan favorites, they also want and demand new flavors, textures and types of confectionery to keep them interested,” says Gilroy. He adds that strong growth in the chocolate category has come from extensions of evergreen brands such as M&M’s, which recently added Hazelnut Spread and Fudge Brownie versions. “Consumers love the excitement that limited editions and seasonal flavors bring,” concurs Hershey’s Norton. “Most recently, we have had great consumer response to limited-edition Kit Kat Birthday Cake,” which launched in April.

In the store, merchandising should be themed and become a wonderland of fun. Retailers can even leverage virtual reality online and in the store to personalize and enhance engagement.” —Sally Lyons Wyatt, IRI

Not Just Chocolate

Limited editions are also a force in the nonchocolate segment. This year, gummi maker Haribo, with U.S. headquarters in Rosemont, Ill., is celebrating its 100 th birthday with the release of limited-edition Passport Mix, which includes popular flavors and shapes from various countries. The product will be available from May through September. While chocolate remains the largest candy subcategory, nonchocolate products such as Haribo’s gummis have seen significant growth in sales, driven largely by the tastes of Millennials. A recent report from London-based market research firm Euromonitor indicates that pastilles, gums, jellies and chews have been major growth drivers in the nonchocolate category, which comprises nearly half of sugar confectionery overall and has been showing some of the strongest growth in the category over the past few years. In response to consumer demand for chewy and soft-creme textures, Mars Wrigley USA has introduced Skittles Dips and Starburst Swirlers, which offer a multitextured fruity experience. Packaging innovation has also played a large part in category growth.

Haribo is marking its 100th birthday with Passport Mix, featuring popular gummi flavors and shapes from various countries.

Kinder Joy is a modified version of Ferrero's hugely successful Kinder Surprise egg.

Standup resealable bags have become more popular, and packages labeled for “sharing” have experienced a 30% dollar share increase, according to Wyatt. “Packaging is emerging with more shapes versus just [a] rectangle or square,” she says. Smaller pack sizes are also becoming more prevalent. Going forward, “more companies than ever before will be offering treats in smaller pack sizes of 200 calories or less to help people as they seek to manage their sugar intake,” says NCA spokeswoman Carly Schildhaus. “As shopping habits continue to evolve, we can expect to see a rise in better-for-you options and packaging choices that encourage portion control and provide consumers with new ways to treat themselves,” observes Gilroy.

Enhance the Experience

Even limited-edition offerings and exciting new packaging alternatives won’t be enough to fight COVID-19 malaise, however. Experts caution that retailers need to amp up their merchandising and in-store experiences to win with consumers in this changed marketplace. Wyatt says that retailers can still find opportunities in the candy aisle to engage with their shoppers in fun and experiential ways, both online and in the store. “In the store, merchandising should be themed and become a wonderland of fun,” she counsels. “Retailers can even leverage virtual reality online and in the store to personalize and enhance engagement.” Ferrero’s Klein agrees that creating in-store theater is a winning strategy. “When retailers create big events that generate excitement for consumers in-store, they can stimulate significant category growth,” he says. Ferrero is working with its retailer partners to focus on expanding opportunities in key holiday selling seasons to deliver incremental sales and profitability. To combat the surge in e-commerce and the migration of shoppers to online outlets, Gilroy suggests that retailers tap into their digital sites to encourage seasonal sales during key holiday selling seasons by placing confectionery in the digital transaction zone and promoting seasonal products earlier than they would in stores. “Retailers can also drive confectionery purchases outside of the core four holidays by leaning into ‘mini moments,’” he adds. “Mars Wrigley knows that summer is a mini moment where consumers look for confectionery to treat themselves and gift others, so we introduced red, white and blue packaging for summer celebrations.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020



Meal Kits HelloFresh is betting that better technology and new products can lead it to its second profitable year in the United States.

Can Meal-Kit Providers Emerge Stronger in 2021? THE JURY’S STILL OUT, BUT CERTAIN SIGNS ARE ENCOUR AGING. By Thad Rueter he COVID-19 outbreak has brought suffering to most nonfood retailers. But for the meal-kit industry, all of those restaurant closures and stay-at-home mandates offered a fresh burst of revenue and a new sense of optimism after a period of doubt and investor frustration. Take Home Chef, the meal-kit service bought by The Kroger Co. in 2018. “Sales have increased materially since the start of the pandemic and have remained high week after week,” Brian Irwin, VP of marketing for Chicago-based Home Chef, told Progressive Grocer in late May. “We have had greater sales both from existing customers as well as new customers. Customers continue to buy more meals per delivery, and order more often.”


Key Takeaways The pandemic has offered meal-kit companies a fresh source of revenue. The industry’s broader issues are acquiring more affluent customers, holding onto existing ones and finding the right products for their customers. Expect more innovation in the meal-kit space in the coming months.

Home Chef isn’t alone. In May, Berlin-based HelloFresh posted a 66.4% year-over-year global revenue increase, to $754.8 million, along with an 82.3% percent U.S. revenue increase. Its active customer base grew by 88.6% year over year, to 2.64 million, and the number of orders jumped by 82.2%, to 8.95 million. “2019 saw the first year of profitability at

the global level, and also marked the first full year of profitability in the U.S.,” HelloFresh CEO and founder Dominik Richter told PG at that time. The company just revised its full-year revenue guidance and now expects revenue growth of up to 50% in 2020 instead of the previous estimate of up to 27%. “Meal kits are a growth category, one that is seeing rapid maturation,” added Richter. “We expect consumers will continue to cook more at home post-pandemic, and meal kits will fit that unique consumer need.” He continued: “Our investments in technology, infrastructure and our brand have paid off — allowing us to focus on providing a variety of product options, innovating on packaging and materials throughout our supply chain to become more sustainable, and demonstrating that meal kits can be both a sustainable and profitable business model.” Nearly a decade on, the meal-kit industry is making fresh gains with consumers stuck at home during the pandemic, and with new and revised product selections that reflect pre-pandemic shifts in how people eat and prepare meals. Now the leaders of that industry are looking to the back half of 2020 to gain even more traction, boost revenues and recapture some of the optimistic energy experienced closer to the dawn of the meal-kit era.

Race for New and Richer Customers

For the better part of a decade, meal-kit commerce has offered what amounts to an ongoing master class in how consumers can be merciless when it comes to earning their loyalty, sustained interest and dollars. While 35% of U.S. consumers have tried a meal kit within the past year, according to recent data from Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based Piplsay, only 18% of those consumers have subscribed to a meal-kit service. Moreover, 64% of meal-kit subscribers have cancelled those subscriptions in that same period of time. Meal-kit providers know that they face tough challenges, pandemic or not, and the race is on to acquire more affluent customers, better hold onto existing ones and find the right products for a company’s particular customer base. New York-based Blue Apron provides a useful example for some of those broader issues. It has faced criticism about the money spent to acquire new customers who then end up leaving the service. Some estimates over the past few years have put Blue Apron’s customer acquisition costs at between $150 to $400 per new customer, and its customer cancellation rate as high as 77%. Blue Apron has since made more effort to land consumers with higher incomes, along with increasing its spending on brand awareness. The company aims to build on that work, along with trends set by the pandemic, to achieve more sales in 2020 and into 2021. “We’ve seen new customers turning to meal kits during the pandemic,” a Blue Apron spokesperson says. “There are people who have never tried the product and are now gravitating towards it. We have also experienced

We expect consumers will continue to cook more at home post-pandemic, and meal kits will fit that unique consumer need.” —Dominik Richter, HelloFresh

Consumers tend to try meal kits to avoid wasting too much time shopping.

existing customers upgrading their subscriptions from a two-person to a four-person subscription.”

Back to Restaurants?

Meal-kit providers expect that those pandemic trends will take a while to fade and provide advantages to the industry. Deloitte research from the spring, for instance, showed increasing consumer confidence about going back to physical stores, but many consumers still admit being worried about the health risks of doing so. “The data we have seen is showing us that people, post-pandemic, plan on continuing to cook at home and in larger numbers,” the Blue Apron spokesperson says. “As restrictions ease, it will be a transition period for restaurants as well, while they figure out how to open their restaurants safely. Customers may not be ready to rush out to restaurants.” But even if some of those pandemic trends continue into 2021 — and there is good reason to believe some will — meal-kit providers can’t place all of their bets on that possibility. Among the longer-lasting methods of dealing with subscriber churn is to offer products that more precisely mesh with particular consumer segments. Such efforts, often planned and deployed well before the COVID-19 outbreak, are certain to play even bigger roles for the meal-kit industry in the second half of 2020. PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020



Meal Kits

More Variety

During the pandemic, some meal-kit providers had to temporarily reduce menu variety to keep up with demand and increase fulfillment center capacity. But that’s not where the meal-kit industry seems to be headed. Blue Apron, for instance, is now offering a meal prep service that taps into the tendency of many consumers — and this could include busy and relatively affluent Millennials — to prepare various meals for the upcoming week, whether for work or home, or both. According to the company, a customer needs no more than 90 minutes to transform the sent ingredients into at least eight servings that can also be reheated without loss of quality. The price runs about $72 per box, which translates into about $9 per serving. Sun Basket, a San Francisco-based meal-kit provider that focuses on fresh, organic and sustainable ingredients — reflecting broader trends among consumers, especially younger ones — is experiencing growing demand for its new oven-ready meals, according to Vanessa Meyers, SVP of growth at Sun Basket. Those meals can be cooked in an oven or microwave in as little as six minutes, and that particular product line accounted for nearly half of all Sun Basket orders in the first half of 2020, Meyers says. “The new normal has accelerated trial and adoption of online food delivery solutions as consumers seek alternatives to decrease the time they spend in grocery stores,” she adds. Indeed, according to Piplsay, the desire to spend less time grocery shopping and planning meals is the main reason that consumers subscribe to meal-kit programs, ahead of wanting to eat healthier food and try new ingredients, flavors and cuisine. “We anticipate continued demand for at-home meal solutions, even as stay-at-home orders begin to decrease, as we don’t expect consumers to return in a meaningful way to restaurants or to the workplace,” Meyers notes. Home Chef is navigating a similar path, and also using a similar product to win back old customers. As Irwin describes it, the pandemic has given the company the chance to “show lapsed customers how much Home Chef has evolved from just one product line [kits] into a broader meal-solution business featuring products such as Oven-Ready, 15 Minute Meals and Grill-Ready Meals.” Broadly speaking, the industry — while certainly beset with significant churn challenges — still appears to be on a respectable growth path, even without the impacts of the pandemic.

To keep up with the strong competition of food retailers, meal-kit companies will need to offer more than just dinner occasions.” —Vanessa Meyers, Sun Basket


Another big motivation for shoppers to opt for meal kits is to explore different cuisines and ingredients without going to restaurants.

About 5% of U.S consumers bought meal kits in 2019, up from 3% in 2016, according to The NPD Group, in Port Washington, N.Y. — not huge growth, perhaps, but still a juicy opportunity for those companies. Globally, the meal-kit industry is on track to hit $8.94 billion in sales by 2025, a compound annual growth rate of 17% since 2017, according to Hexa Research, a Felton, Calif.-based firm whose areas of focus include food and beverage. But competition is growing fierce. The novelty of receiving a meal kit has worn off, and the industry faces stiff challenges from other businesses, not just food delivery operators. Grocers, convenience stores and other forms of food retail continue to make massive inroads when it comes to offering fresh, fun and new ingredients; ready-to-eat meals that can tilt toward gourmet offerings, and all of those other things that consumers — especially younger ones — want and that meal-kit providers are striving to provide. In fact, meal-kit executives, while not being specific, certainly don’t rule out new partnerships with food retailers as those trends continue. “We may also see a growing amount of businesses and grocery stores alike adapt to offer quick ready-to-eat meal options,” Sun Basket’s Meyers says. “To keep up with the strong competition of food retailers, meal-kit companies will need to offer more than just dinner occasions.” For Sun Basket, that means breakfast, “easy lunches” and healthy protein add-ons, she observes. For other providers, that could include holiday fare, premium boxes and other such products. “Personalization is also key,” Meyers adds. “Meal options should not be a one-sizefits-all model. At Sun Basket, customers are not bound to one meal plan, and we encourage our subscribers to try different cuisines, ingredients and meal plans.” In any case, it’s reasonable to expect more innovation in the meal-kit space in the coming months — new ways of doing meal kits that have little or nothing to do with the pandemic. “The meal-kit industry is a crowded space, and therefore, brands are constantly innovating to provide customers with solutions that fit their needs,” Meyers notes. “Meal-kit companies will need to find different ways to attract new customers, while also keeping their current subscribers fulfilled.”

Meal kits still focus on dinner, but innovation promises to bring breakfast and other types of kits as well.


Employee Engagement

Key Takeaways Employee engagement is the answer to making associates feel safe at work, and ready to adapt quickly to new processes.

Upgrading Employee Engagement

An app in a much more intuitive format, closer to what employees use outside of work, can help with adoption. Greater communication between upper-level management and hourly employees can have a positive impact on worker confidence.


he speed of change has never been so great in food retail as it is today, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Policies and procedures have needed to shift at a moment’s notice, and management is counting on associates to implement many of these changes. Employees are seeing new sanitation protocols, occupancy counting, social-distancing signage, mask requirements, item limits and a whole list of tasks to be done, but communication can be one of the greatest hurdles to execution.

WorkJam has combined communications, tasks, learning and scheduling into one digital workplace.

There’s no time to send down PDFs from the top of the organization, and binders of data are outdated almost as soon as the pages come off the printer. Personal situations are also changing at record speeds. Although many grocers are aggressively hiring more than firing, employees’ spouses or family members may have lost their jobs or become sick, making associates’ paychecks that much more crucial. Employee engagement is the answer to making associates feel safe coming into work, and ready to adapt while on the job in PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020



Employee Engagement

a timely and complete manner. “You’re at your job for most of the day, and we believe that true engagement comes from knowing that you have the ability to make change within an organization, and you see how your actions are supporting the greater good of what the company’s trying to do,” says Melissa Wong, CEO of San Francisco-based Retail Zipline. “Associate engagement is actually key to execution.” A number of technology solutions focused on communication have gained traction during this crucial time, making employees’ jobs easier, keeping morale high and having a quick return on investment for the companies.

In Workers’ Hands

According to Wong, Retail Zipline’s communication and task performance technology helps companies with the four types of communication in retail environments: what you need to know, what you need to do, policy and procedure, and dialogue, discussion and debate. In May, Hy-Vee announced a partnership with Retail Zipline, which has a consumer-like mobile and desktop app to help streamline communication. Wong notes that a conversation with the West Des Moines, Iowa-based retailer was in the works before COVID-19, but Hy-Vee implemented the solution faster than planned, due to immediate need. “So many technologies have left retail behind; they’ve left the hourly worker behind,” Wong says. “[Hy-Vee was] looking to make it easier on the store employee to understand what they needed to do for their day-to-day. And then with coronavirus, the CEO wanted a direct conduit to talk to his people.” Known for its digital workplace, Montreal-based WorkJam has partnered with a number of food retail clients, including Australia-based Woolworths, as well as The Kroger Co. and Target. WorkJam’s technology works with a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model, something that Will Eadie, the company’s global VP of sales and alliances, says has currently become more of the norm. “Now [a shared device] is one more thing to clean, one more place where you have a risk of contamination,” he adds. “You have to have a way to communicate, and it’s not in the back office of your store anymore, or on a shared device in a distribution center, or in a manufacturing plant. You have to be able to allow people options.”

Easy to Use

Most employees are comfortable with smartphones in this day and age, so having an app in a much more intuitive format, closer to what they use in their daily lives outside of work, can help with adoption. “If you make people’s lives easier, you’re definitely driving the self adoption into the technology,” Wong affirms. Retail Zipline has seen first-week adoption at typically around 90%. To encourage adoption at Hy-Vee, Retail Zipline is donating a dollar, up to $25,000, to local food banks for every associate who logs in. Hy-Vee is also matching these donations. “I really believe that stores have the opportunity to


be the best manifestation of the brand and such a focal point in the community,” Wong says. “We wanted to make an individual store person feel like they can make an impact on giving to the community, even if they couldn’t actually donate themselves.” WorkJam’s platform has combined the functionality of a number of disparate systems often seen in retail to handle communications, tasks, learning and time-off requests all in one place, making all of these features more straightforward for the employee. “Tasks have always existed, whether they’re on a checklist or a store walk or an audit,” Eadie notes. “What’s really important now is that they can’t be separate from communications. We typically see adoption around 87% weekly active users. Traditional intranets, just by the way, generally have a below 20% weekly average user rate.” Eadie also credits WorkJam’s ability to geofence content as another reason for fast adoption. Employees still have the ability to communicate with each other outside of work, but compensatory time laws aren’t a concern, as content such as the store checklist or a message from the CEO is consumable only when an employee is on site or on shift. Easy adoption is also a selling point for New Yorkbased DailyPay, a technology platform delivering early earned-wage access to employees that has seen increased demand from employers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increased Flexibility

Cincinnati-based Kroger began offering what it’s calling ExpressPay, powered by DailyPay, to its employees in late April. “We had started working with [Kroger] before COVID-19 on a very deliberate, slow rollout,” recounts Jeanniey Mullen, chief innovation and marketing officer at DailyPay. “They had a strategy in place, but when COVID hit, they accelerated extremely and launched everybody at once.” From an employer standpoint, DailyPay integrates with all HR/HCM/payroll systems, the employer isn’t charged for offering the service to its employees, and DailyPay has raised a line of credit to support the early-access dollar amounts, so the company doesn’t have to change anything about how it processes payroll. Employees can download a user-friendly app to access their earned wages — less any taxes or deductions, voluntary or manEmployees whose companies use DailyPay have been able to access their earned wages the next day at no charge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You have to have a way to communicate, and it’s not in the back office of your store anymore, or on a shared device in a distribution center, or in a manufacturing plant. You have to be able to allow people options.” —Will Eadie, WorkJam datory — at any time. There’s also a saving feature if employees want to hide money from themselves. Fees for accessing the funds can range anywhere between $2.99 and $3.49, depending on same-day or next-day delivery, or their company. “What we’ve seen is some companies will actually cover that cost for their employee, or they’ll subsidize it,” Mullen observes. “With Kroger, next-day access to their money is free, forever. For everybody outside of Kroger, which their next-day hasn’t been free, we’ve actually waived it during the pandemic, because we want people to have their money.” Mullen describes the two groups most of DailyPay’s users fall into: ERINs and MAGGIEs. ERINs are those Employees who Require Income Now, while MAGGIEs are those Millennials And GenZ who Get Instant Everything. This second category is particularly interesting as the gig economy continues to take hold. “People were seeing this rise for on-demand services come up, and companies really didn’t know how to take care of their employees in an on-demand type of environment,” Mullen explains. “They were asking people to do all these on-demand things, but then to wait a week or even two weeks to get paid. A lot of the people … were taking these jobs either as second jobs, or because they lost their jobs somewhere else, and they were urgently looking for a way to support their family.” Many employees with steady hourly jobs are still looking for flexibility during these uncertain times, and technology can be the answer to that as well. Mullen views the ability for employees to receive pay on demand, or even just see their earned wages, as motivation to work harder. “We do all these studies, and we started to see that DailyPay employees were becoming three times more productive than people not using DailyPay,” she asserts. For many hourly employees, this is the first time they can see exactly what they’ve made thus far, spurring them to pick up extra shifts or not call off before payday.

Productive Benefits

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, food retailers have had to instill confidence in both their employees and customers that they’re doing everything possible to minimize risk and make people comfortable coming into work or shopping in their stores. “Communication was always important, and it was a way for companies to get a message across and to make the employees feel included. But now, they’ve heard from their employees that information and communication is respect,” Eadie says. “These employees right now, they want to be told what’s going on: ‘Here’s our plan. We have a plan.’” In response, WorkJam almost immediately rolled out a health check module that’s highly specific to the pandemic. Many of its customers have made this survey mandatory before employees

Retail Zipline's communication functions can include mandatory notifications for employees before starting work, or a daily digest of tasks and messages.

start a shift, having them answer basic health questions such as: Are you sick? Do you feel comfortable coming to work? Have you been around anyone sick? Do you feel safe? “Once they’ve answered that, they can actually earn the first level of a digital health badge, which then maybe takes them into a training, which might be a five-minute video from the head of HR [or] the head of safety,” Eadie notes. This video could include new procedures on handwashing, or updated policies. “If you don’t have a tool that you’re using at the site level,” he adds, “it means you have no ability to do any reporting around compliance, or efficiency, or engagement at the corporate level.” Retail Zipline has seen the impact that greater communication between upper-level management and hourly employees can have on worker confidence. “The biggest thing for engagement now is really understanding,” Wong asserts. “It’s really saying, based on how my employees are feeling and their state of mind today, am I able to engage them, either around information that will make them feel better, because we have better health and safety standards, or around product information? Really, it’s meeting people where they’re at to be able to even start the conversation.” WorkJam’s Open Shift Marketplace creates an on-demand labor pool to help companies fill a need for more workers and help employees pick up additional shifts, something Eadie says will only continue to grow in importance after COVID-19. Using intelligent filtering, only qualified workers will be able to see and pick up certain shifts. A complete rules engine allows retailers to support both union and nonunion environments as well. Even if the speed of change in food retail slows down once COVID-19 concerns wane, systems put in place now to enhance communication, tasks, pay and training will continue to pay dividends. PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020



Food, Beverage & Nonfood Products

Meat-free Inspiration

As meatless items begin to proliferate, Garden Inspirations by Farm Rich has entered the arena as a line of plant-based foods expanding options for flexitarians, vegetarians and anyone looking to reduce their meat consumption. The frozen line encompasses appetizers, snacks and meal solutions made with plant-based meats and other wholesome plant-based ingredients. Farm Rich’s microwavable Meatless Meatballs and Plant-Based BBQ Sliders are an easy way to make simple swaps. The savory meatballs feature 12 grams of plant-based protein per serving, and are made with a blend of soy and pea proteins, garlic, onion, and other spices, while the individually wrapped sliders are crafted from pulled porkless soy shreds in a tangy BBQ sauce on a soft roll, and contain 13 grams of plant-based protein per serving. The 20-ounce meatballs and 12.7-ounce sliders each retail for a suggested $7.99. Farm Rich plans to extend the line at Kroger this summer with two further meat alternative items: Breaded Cauliflower Bites, accompanied by a Sweet Sesame Dipping Sauce, and Breaded Zucchini Sticks, with a side of Tangy Marinara Dipping Sauce included.

Pickled to Perfection

Ready for Deli

Raybern’s, a brand known for offering authentic deli-style Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, has now launched its first-ever line of ready-to-eat deli sandwiches. Designed for all day parts, the line consists of ready-to-eat breakfast biscuit and hoagie roll sandwiches, as well as traditional lunch and dinner sandwiches, created for the deli section and ready-to-heat counters in grocery stores. The varieties are a Sausage, Egg & Cheese Sandwich and an Egg, Bacon & Cheese Sandwich, on either a hoagie roll or biscuit, for breakfast, along with traditional fan favorites, among them Philly Cheesesteak, Chicken Bacon Ranch, Roast Beef & Cheddar, Pastrami & Cheese, Southwest Steak, BBQ Pulled Pork, and Ham & Swiss on a Pretzel Roll, for lunch and dinner. Raybern’s sandwiches feature bread made from a recipe that cooks up “Bakery Soft” right from the microwave. The line is available at a suggested retail price of $3.49 per sandwich in stores nationwide.

Created by Atlanta-based Chef Nick Melvin with the idea that almost any vegetable can be pickled to create a flavorful, textured delicacy that adds a vibrant and unique flavor to culinary creations, the artisanal Doux South brand uses fresh ingredients like onions, garlic, dill, celery seed, peppers, turmeric and more in a vinegar brine, without artificial flavoring, emulsifiers, calcium chloride or preservatives. The specialty line’s colorfully named varieties include Sweet Soulshine, Angry Cukes, Chow Chow, Little Rock Caviar and Drunken Tomatoes. A 16-ounce jar of any variety retails for a suggested $6.99.

Bowl ’em Over

For consumers in search of quick meal solutions, Aqua Star has come out with a line of microwaveable chef-designed seafood bowls. Restaurant-quality MicroSteam Seafood Bowls go from the freezer to the microwave to the table in five minutes or less. Made exclusively for use in the microwave, Aqua Star’s proprietary MicroSteam film locks in steam to cook food evenly, with no “fishy” odor. The product line can serve as a quick lunch or light dinner featuring sustainable shrimp, pollock or salmon certified by Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) or the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). These healthy proteins are combined with a variety of vegetables, seasonings and other ingredients, in addition to pasta, rice or grits. The varieties are Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp Ramen, gluten-free Shrimp Pad Thai, Shrimp & Grits, gluten-free Salmon Teriyaki, and Sesame Ginger Wild Alaskan Pollock. The six-SKU line retails for a suggested $5.99 per 8-ounce bowl. Aqua Star’s MicroSteam Seafood Bowls are the second offering in Aqua Star’s MicroSteam line; the first, MicroSteam Meals, launched in March.


Gut Feeling

Formulated by noted dietitian Kara Landau, Uplift Food’s prebiotic Gut Happy Cookies line, consisting of Salted Peanut Butter with Chocolate and Coconut, Sunflower Butter with Vanilla + Chia, and Salted Almond Butter with Vanilla and Hemp Seeds, aims to redefine the functional food category. Made with 100% plant-based, fiber-dense, resistant starches and four unique prebiotic-rich ingredients, along with a hefty dose of powerful probiotics — 1 billion colony-forming units — the cookies support proper digestion and promote immune health. The line is powered by a unique proprietary blend of lupin beans, tigernuts, tapioca fiber, kiwifruit and probiotics that aids the growth of good lactobacillus bacteria, as well as the production of the short-chain fatty acid butyrate, which is known to reduce inflammation in the body. Each variety contains less than a teaspoon of sugar, is made without artificial ingredients or sugar alcohols, and contains fewer than 160 calories per serving. Additionally, Gut Happy Cookies combine a powerful punch of prebiotic-soluble fiber, prebiotic-resistant starch and 13 grams of insoluble fiber, the last of which fuels the growth of good bacteria in the gut. A 1.41-ounce package retails for a suggested $3.99.

Only Natural

Henkel’s Zotos Professional division has introduced Better Natured, a prestige brand with naturally derived formulations developed and tested by stylists to deliver professional-level performance. Tested in a Certified Green Circle Salon, Better Natured is free from 12 ingredient taboos: silicones, parabens, SLS/SLES sulfates (sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate), petrolatum, mineral oil, phthalates, gluten, animal byproducts, chemical sunscreens, microbeads, BPA and formaldehyde-releasing agents. The brand’s vegan formulas contain a triple plant milk blend of Tahitian palm, orchid and coconut milk, and are never tested on animals. The brand offers 12 hair care and styling products, with shampoos and conditioners retailing for a suggested $20, while treatments and styling products each go for a suggested $22, and a color range is set to launch this month. All products come in post-consumer recycled PET plastic packaging. zotos-professional-862158;

Have a Ball

My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream has introduced a grab-and-go single 100-calorie mochi ice cream ball packaged individually for optimal quality and freshness, while ensuring food safety. This additional level of protection doesn’t contribute any additional packaging waste that could have a negative impact on the environment, however. The fully enclosed pack is also fully compliant with FDA labeling requirements. What’s more, the single-serve packaging will help reduce food waste and spoilage that can occur with loose, unpackaged mochi ice cream. Each pack is printed with a best-by date to ensure freshness and maintain the integrity of the mochi ice cream’s taste and texture. My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream single-serve packs are now available throughout the country, offering the brand’s same scoop of premium ice cream wrapped in pillowy, sweet rice mochi dough, with each bite-sized snack available in several flavors. A 1.5-ounce My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream single-serve pack retails for a suggested price range of $1.50-$2.

Love Bug

Vita Bug, a subsidiary of Bug Juice International Inc., has introduced a functional beverage line extension. Available in two 10-calorie options — Vita Blue and Vita Berry — the product is the first beverage clinically formulated to help boost immune systems, according to the brand. Vita Bug is buffered for children’s sensitive digestive systems and contains 13 vitamins, seven minerals and five essential electrolytes. The low-sugar and -sodium beverage was developed after extensive interviews and testing with doctors and nutritionists, as part of a strategy to add incremental dollars to the category with fun flavors for kids. A 10-fluid-ounce bottle of Vita Bug retails for a suggested price range of $1.29-$1.49. PROGRESSIVE GROCER June 2020


AHEAD OF WHAT’S NEXT By Krishnakumar (KK) Davey

What’s Next for CPG Brands in Unprecedented Times?

brands. As a result, brands should focus on conversion and retention through expanded price-point ranges and value-pack sizing, along with shifting marketing messaging to focus on at-home activities and entertainment to support continued brand strength.


Channel Preferences

n response to the unprecedented and evolving impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumer packaged goods industry is focused on adapting supply chains, manufacturing and marketing to meet the rapid changes in demand. With shoppers easing into a new normal, CPG brands must prepare for consumers faced with financial difficulties, social restrictions and personal health concerns. Looking ahead in such uncertain times can be a challenge but studying trends in the CPG demand curve and shopper behavior from the most recent historical precedent — the 2008-09 Great Recession — provides one of the best road maps for brands interested in optimizing their strategies during the anticipated economic downturn. The CPG industry is significantly more resilient to recession than other retail channels. During the past few months, overall CPG demand has increased by 15% to 20% compared with the same period in 2019, according to the IRI CPG Demand Index. CPG’s “essential” status has never been clearer. Nevertheless, data shows that the Great Recession caused clear shifts in CPG consumer shopping behavior, channel preferences and category demand.

Brands should focus on conversion and retention through expanded price-point ranges and value-pack sizing, along with shifting marketing messaging to focus on at-home activities and entertainment to support continued brand strength. Shopping Behavior

One hallmark of the Great Recession’s impact on CPG demand is that shoppers’ purchases were motivated by value and necessity. During the Great Recession, consumers spent more time planning their purchases ahead of their shopping trips to take advantage of deals and promotions, and to limit impulse buys. Overall CPG unit consumption shrank in 2008 as consumers tightened their belts, but dollar sales in the CPG category increased as meals and personal care took place at home. With limited dining options due to COVID-19 restrictions, home cooking has once again become a significantly larger portion of the U.S. lifestyle today. Brands may experience significant gains in new buyers, but they also risk loyal buyers switching 138

Our analysis also shows that in 2008, shoppers migrated their spending toward value channels like supercenters, club retailers and dollar stores, and away from convenience channels and drug stores, likely driven by efforts to scale back on impulse purchasing. We can expect similar trends looking forward. Notably, over the past 10 years, the dollar channel has expanded significantly in the United States, with two of the major U.S. chains approximately doubling their store counts, and two new European banners entering the U.S. market. With a broader presence and enhanced focus on value pricing, the dollar channel is likely to gain momentum and capture an even larger portion of grocery spending amid the current recession.

Category Demand

At the category level, in 2008, shoppers relinquished brand loyalties in favor of better deals, shifted spending toward essentials and away from “wants” in the beauty and personal care categories, and cut back on perceived luxuries like organic produce. This led to a bump in value-tier and private label brands as deal-conscious shoppers let go of their brand loyalties in favor of savings. While purchases of “affordable luxuries” like chocolate and ice cream persisted, a focus on value continued to motivate purchases.

Implications for 2020 and Beyond

Though the catalyst for the current economic environment is less nuanced and had even greater immediate impact on shoppers nationwide than the events of 2008, consumers today are similarly short on money and confidence, and have shifted their eating habits to rely significantly more on at-home, fromscratch cooking. Looking ahead, comprehensive, real-time data and insights show that brands should retain the millions of new buyers that they’ve acquired in the past few months by doubling down on value-capturing pack sizes, enhancing their price mix, and focusing innovation to meet demands of shoppers adjusting to our society’s new stay-at-home culture.

Krishnakumar (KK) Davey is president of strategic analytics at Chicago-based IRI.


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