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NGA preview: taking on competition

The retail and wholesale supplier members of the National Grocers Association may not have the power and influence of the large national chains, but there’s a benefit to being smaller and nimbler.

One of the things I’ve appreciated covering the annual NGA Show through the years is how so many NGA retail members are on the forefront of grocery trends, such as marketing to younger shoppers, online grocery and delivery, and foodservice in store.

The annual NGA Show is Feb. 24-27 in San Diego, and I’ll provide coverage over the weekend and next week on how fresh produce fits into some of these new strategies and technologies.

For perspective, last year’s event in Las Vegas attracted just over 3,000 attendees. NGA members represent 21,000 grocery stores and 25 percent of retail grocery sales.

The Produce Marketing Association has coordinated a produce pavilion for the Feb. 25-26 expo, with around 20 produce companies and associations, and there are other companies associated with fresh produce throughout the expo hall.

Additionally, NGA and PMA have partnered to offer NGA members a discount to participate in PMA’s Eat Brighter! program, which allows participants to use characters from Sesame Workshop to encourage kids age 2-5 to each more fruits and vegetables.

According to an NGA press release: “NGA members can stop by the Produce Marketing Association pavilion, to receive the PMA member price to join the Eat Brighter! program for a one-time administration fee of $950 vs. the regular nonmember rate of $3,500. Note that the member fee for medium retailers (6-10 stores) is only $200, and for small retailers (1-5 stores) it’s just $150.”

The NGA Show typically has a strong education program, including a track called “Focus on Fresh” which will highlight some key topics in fresh produce, including organic and increasing sales in general.

The membership also isn’t bashful about what it takes to compete in the retail space, with sessions focused specifically on competing with online retailers, deep discounters and dollar stores.

And a highlight is always the Best Bagger Championship, where employees of NGA members compete by bagging groceries on stage, with the winner walking away with a $10,000 check.


Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services