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|
|Costco Wholesale Group||$35,329,000,000|
|Publix Supermarkets, Inc.||$22,900,000,000|
|Ahold USA, Inc.||$21,300,000,000|
|Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.||$9,400,000,000|
|Whole Foods Market, Inc.||$6,591,000,000|
|Giant Eagle, Inc.||$6,220,000,000|
|BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc.||$5,464,000,000|
|Save Mart Supermarkets||$4,950,000,000|
|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|
|Harris Teeter, Inc.||$3,299,000,000|
|WinCo Foods, Inc.||$3,000,000,000|
|Ingles Markets, Inc.||$2,709,000,000|
|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|
|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|
|Big Y Foods, Inc.||$1,300,000,000|
|Fiesta Market, Inc.||$1,250,000,000|
|Lowe’s Food Stores, Inc.||$1,201,000,000|
|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.|
|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.