Cal Poly Wins 2021 Student Case Study Competition

March 12, 2021

Washington, D.C. – The National Grocers Association (NGA) has announced California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) as the winner of the 2021 Student Case Study Competition.

The competition, usually held annually at The NGA Show, featured teams competing virtually this week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the final round held Wednesday.

“Despite the necessary move of the competition from an in-person venue to a virtual one, these students generated much excitement with their forward-thinking ideas for real-world scenarios,” said Maggie White, director of the NGA Foundation. “We congratulate the Cal Poly team along with the other worthy contenders. Their performance is a testament to the great leadership potential coming up in our industry.”

Five schools competed by delivering presentations on how grocers can deal with the major economic issues caused by COVID-19 by staying competitive through their “local supply chains” against price operators. The pandemic triggered a massive disruption to the economy, and presentations demonstrated how retailers with strong local supply chains were better equipped than their competitors in dealing with these issues.

“Our industry is fortunate to be supported so well by the academic community and can look forward to a bright new generation of leaders,” said Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of NGA. “We thank all the participating schools and look forward to hosting this important Foundation program for years to come.”

About the Student Case Study Competition

The NGA Foundation Student Case Study Competition strives to further the professional development of collegiate students pursuing degrees in food and retail programs and provides student teams the opportunity to creatively address a real-world issue currently impacting the industry. The competition, hosted by the NGA Foundation and generously funded by the Asparagus Club, awards up to $4,000 each to the winning team of students and their university.

Each year, the NGA Foundation selects an independent retailer and a pressing industry issue to use as a subject for the Student Case Study Competition.  After months of research student teams from the NGA Foundation’s Food Industry University Coalition present their findings at The NGA Show to a panel of judges, the independent retailer featured as the subject of the competition, and NGA Show attendees.

About NGA Foundation

The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association. The Foundation provides independent retailers with tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers. For more information, visit

About NGA

NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for close to one percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating $131 billion in sales, 944,000 jobs, $30 billion in wages and $27 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers, state grocers associations, as well as manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit