I’ve read that the top five supermarket grocery store chains in many countries of Europe, account for two-thirds of the total food sales in those regions. Here in the U.S., it is apparently nearly the same with the top seven supermarket chains making up two-thirds of sales according to 2007 data (I’m sure that not much has changed since 2007 to today).

It really is amazing how just a few giant mega-companies control the supply of food for the majority of us all. According to Plunkett Research, there are more than 40,000 grocery stores in the U.S. that sell about half a trillion dollars worth of food each year ($526 Billion in 2009). Of the 40,000 grocery stores, I would bet that the vast majority are owned by the top 50 supermarket chains who reportedly grossed $522 Billion during 2007 according to the Food Marketing Institute – data sourced from the directory of supermarket, grocery and convenience store chains.


The top 50 U.S. Supermarket Grocery chain stores

Wal-Mart Super Centers $111,070,000,000
The Kroger Co. $65,550,000,000
Safeway, Inc. $42,286,000,000
Costco Wholesale Group $35,329,000,000
Supervalu, Inc. $33,000,000,000
Sam’s club $27,057,000,000
Publix Supermarkets, Inc. $22,900,000,000
Ahold USA, Inc. $21,300,000,000
Delhaize America $18,200,000,000
H-E-B $13,450,000,000
Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. $9,400,000,000
Meijer, Inc. $7,599,000,000
Winn-Dixie, Inc. $7,201,000,000
Whole Foods Market, Inc. $6,591,000,000
Giant Eagle, Inc. $6,220,000,000
Albertson’s LLC $6,100,000,000
BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. $5,464,000,000
Save Mart Supermarkets $4,950,000,000
Super Target $4,749,000,000
Hy-Vee, Inc. $4,370,000,000
Trader Joe’s Co. $4,300,000,000
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. $4,125,000,000
Roundy’s Supermarkets, Inc. $4,000,000,000
Stater Brothers Holdings, Inc. $3,674,000,000
Raley’s Supermarkets $3,450,000,000
Aldi, Inc. $3,363,000,000
Harris Teeter, Inc. $3,299,000,000
Golub Corporation $3,009,000,000
WinCo Foods, Inc. $3,000,000,000
Ingles Markets, Inc. $2,709,000,000
Bi-Lo LLC $2,703,000,000
Smart & Final, Inc. $2,354,000,000
Weis Markets, Inc. $2,318,000,000
Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market $2,310,000,000
Schnuck Markets, Inc. $2,300,000,000
DeMoulas Supermarkets, Inc. $2,220,000,000
Bashas’ Inc. $2,200,000,000
Brookshire Grocery Co. $2,020,000,000
Tops Markets LLC $1,750,000,000
K-V-A-T Food Stores, Inc. $1,600,000,000
Houchens Industries, Inc. $1,525,000,000
Marsh Supermarkets, Inc. $1,400,000,000
GFS Marketplace $1,360,000,000
Big Y Foods, Inc. $1,300,000,000
Foodarama Supermarkets $1,300,000,000
Fiesta Market, Inc. $1,250,000,000
Lowe’s Food Stores, Inc. $1,201,000,000
Spartan Stores $1,132,000,000
Inserra Supermarkets, Inc. $1,100,000,000
Village Supermarket, Inc. $1,046,000,000


50% of all U.S. supermarket grocery store sales

Wal-Mart Super Centers
The Kroger Co.
Safeway, Inc.
Costco Wholesale Group

It is quite a thing that only four companies control half of the food supply in the U.S., with probably similar numbers in other developed countries. Although it is a natural progression for companies to grow and expand, there comes a point where things often change within a large company, such as working conditions – leveraged personnel, continuous profit margin squeeze, cost cutting measures that sometimes go too far, quality, etc..

A large company that is able to leverage high quantity supplies for lower costs, and has high cash reserves and or bank leverage, can easily come into a town and completely ruin an existing smaller food supply grocery store. People will naturally gravitate towards the new chain store with lower prices. After all, everyone is trying to squeeze their budget, right?

Out of principle, spending one’s money locally is a good thing. Supporting a locally owned food supply store will help the community. Profits will likely be spent locally whereas the large corporate giant super store will send their profits elsewhere (to build more super centers). The large corporation really does not care about you and I (maybe there are exceptions, but probably not many), and just as easily as they built the new store, they could shut it down and move on if profits aren’t high enough – leaving the community without anything.

During these current economic hard times, while so many are out of work or are simply maxed out on their budget trying to make ends meet, many people are turning more to their local community while building a resentment towards the corporate giants.

Next time you go out to buy groceries, consider spending your money at a locally owned grocery store or farmers market, if there are any left in your area.

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