Independent grocery industry leaders gather with a focus on the future
Washington, D.C. – Hundreds of the independent grocery industry’s top leaders gathered in the nation’s capital today for three days of future-focused education, strategic planning and networking during the National Grocers Association’s Executive Conference and Public Policy Summit, being held through Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C.
Summit sessions explore how best to prepare for what the future holds for technology, marketing, policy and key store departments as well as the state of the independent grocery industry. Aimed at owners, operators, CEOs and senior leaders, the summit pairs high-impact education and networking with the unique opportunity to meet with federal representatives who craft policies affecting the grocery business.
The summit is unfolding on the front lines of NGA’s advocacy for policies that impact the future of independent community grocers in both rural and urban markets across the country.
NGA continues to work with policymakers to enforce and strengthen antitrust regulations such as the Robinson-Patman Act, to create a level playing field for grocery operators of all sizes and rein in power buyers that exert influence over product suppliers to secure an unfair advantage over smaller grocers. NGA is encouraged by support for credit card fee reform and stronger merger guidelines, as well as work toward reauthorizing the Farm Bill to uphold and strengthen nutrition programs while recognizing the vital contribution of independent grocers to expand food accessibility and support local economies.
“It was wonderful to bring the independent supermarket industry together one last time before the busy holiday season begins to help leaders focus on important topics such understanding economic and business trends, exploring the future of consumer marketing, and gaining new consumer insights, while strengthening relationships with industry trading partners,” said Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO.
Following welcome remarks from Ferrara and NGA Board Chairman Ted Balistreri, owner of Milwaukee-based Sendik’s Food Markets, Scott Moses of Solomon Partners led an executive panel exploring the State of the Independent Grocer, featuring Econo Health Path Markets CEO Enid Barillas, Wakefern Food Corp. Chief Customer Officer Steve Henig and North State Grocery Executive Director Richie Morgan. Panelists discussed where the independent grocer stands amid the current economic and regulatory landscape, and how operators can further leverage and expand their unique value proposition within the dynamic marketplace.
Next, “The Future of Marketing” delved into the leading strategies, trends and platforms that are shaping the future of how grocers connect with customers and drive growth, from the rise of conscious consumerism and sustainability concerns to the demand for convenience and personalized experiences. Moderated by A-R Marketing Principal Eric Anderson, this panel included Merchants Distributors Inc. EVP of Sales and Merchandising Nick Carlino, Coborn’s VP of Marketing Dennis Host and Alliance Retail Group CEO Jena Sowers.
With inflation continuing to impact the consumer and seller experience, “The Future of The Economy” probed key drivers of change and disruption in the global economy, from technological advancements and demographic shifts to environmental concerns and geopolitical dynamics. Panelists in this session included IGA President and CEO John Ross and Wakefern Food Corp. President Mike Stigers.
Rounding out the first day’s content, “The Future of Technology” explored the rise of automation, robotics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and mobile technologies with a panel moderated by ECRS President Caroline Catoe and including Redner’s Markets VP of IT Nicholas Hidalgo and Charley Family Shop & Save owner Tom Charley.