2021 Student Case Study


For over 16 years, the NGA Foundation’s Study Case Study Competition, held annually at the NGA Show, has given student teams from our Food Industry University Coalition the opportunity to creatively address a real-world challenge facing the independent grocery community. This year, for the first time ever, students and industry professionals alike will come together for a virtual competition you won’t want to miss!

Congratulations to the 2021 winning team, Cal Poly, SLO! 

2021 Case Study Description

The COVID-19 pandemic’s massive disruption of the economy, supply chain, and store operations has created many challenges and forced a large number of trends for traditional food retailers. Among these trends, retailers with more local supply chains were better equipped to adapt to widespread shortages of high-demand products.

Consumer buying habits can be influenced by many factors. Many consumers are familiar with the concept of “buying local” and often make special efforts to do so. At the same time, other consumers are “price-conscious” and seek out the best prices for their groceries from “price operators.” Our primary Case Study concern is: With the major economic issues that consumers are facing due to COVID-19, how can independent grocers continue to be competitive through their “local supply chains” against price operators?

Karns Foods, as well as the independent retailer community, is at a juncture in its story. They have to address many issues to survive and thrive, such as:

  • How do they remain competitive in a pandemic-driven recession?
  • How do they compete with “local” differentiation when the customer is focusing on the utilitarian aspect of grocery shopping?
  • How do they maintain, increase and market “local” procurement as the traditional supply chain attempts to re-establish itself?

Participating Schools

*CalPolyPomona is non-competing