The economy’s continuing struggles, exacerbated by inflation, during the past 12 months led to another year of challenges for many of the Mid-Atlantic’s wholesale grocers. Inflation in virtually all sectors commodity prices – wheat, corn, dairy, meat, produce and fuel – continued to affect the wholesale cost of goods. As a result, wholesalers, chains s and independents alike felt were challenged to hold pricing at reasonable levels. And, as the number of true independents continues to shrink, wholesalers are more aggressive in maintaining their current client rosters while also seeking new opportunities.
New England based wholesalers like Bozzuto’s and C&S Wholesale Grocers continued to make gains in the Mid-Atlantic, while North Carolina based Merchants Distributors Inc. has continued soliciting accounts in Maryland and Virginia.
One company that continued to perform solidly despite those challenges was Wakefern. The food industry’s largest grocery co-operative rang up estimated wholesale sales of $9.5 billion for 2012. It supplied 245 ShopRite stores and another 52 PriceRite discount units as well as the several strong independent customers. In the past year, Wakefern continues to add units in its core New Jersey and Pennsylvaniamarket as well as expanding into Connecticut and Maryland.
C&S Wholesale Grocers ranked second among all full-service distributors in the region. The Keene, NH based wholesaler has made its mark on the industry as a third-party distributor to larger chains. Volume for the year was $8.4 billion, with approximately 1,360 stores serviced. C&S lost some volume with A&P’s continued store closings in the market during the past 12 months.
The wholesale division of Supervalu had wholesale volume of $4.85 billion with service to approximately 871 stores in the market, making it one of Supervalu’s best producing units. The division supplies some of the highest volume independents in the Mid-Atlantic, including Redner’s, B. Green, Graul’s, Murphy’s and McCaffrey’s.
Ranking next was the McLane Company, the largest convenience store distributor in the country. Primarily operating in this region from a 653,000 square foot depot in Falmouth, VA (one of 19 grocery warehouses the company operates nationally), McLane’s wholesale volume in the region is estimated to be $2.4 billion. Its major accounts are 7-Eleven and Wawa.
Club store operator Costco rose to the number five overall slot among Mid-Atlantic wholesalers this year. Wholesale volume for Costco, as well as Sam’s Club and BJ’s. have been extrapolated to include sales of grocery, HBC, general merchandise and tobacco. Utilizing that formula, volume at Costco’s 45 high volume stores in the market amassed sales of $1.86 billion. Costco’s newest unit, inWashington,DC, opened in November to widespread attention when Vice President Joe Biden attending the grand opening.
With 61 club stores in the Mid-Atlantic, BJ’s rang up estimate sales of $1.84 billion.
The area’s third club store operator, Sam’s, was up next. The division of Wal-Mart operated 47 Mid-Atlantic warehouse stores that saw sales of $1.55 billion during the past 12 months.
Associated Wholesalers Inc. (AWI) is the largest wholesale cooperative operating in the Mid-Atlantic. The company’s primary distribution center is based in Robesonia, PA and it also operates a secondary facility in York, PA. AWI serviced approximately 967 retail stores and rang up sales of $1.22 billion. The company continued to do a solid job serving mainly independent retailers in the Central Pennsylvania area, including multi-store operators such as McKay’s, Kennie’s, Darrenkamp’s, Stauffer’s of Kissel Hill and Lauer’s.
United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), based in Providence, RI, serviced approximately 506 stores in the Mid-Atlantic with approximately $691 million in volume.
Burris Retail Logistics, which carves out its reputation distributing frozen foods serviced approximately 585 retail stores in 2012 and had an estimated volume of $545 million. Burris, which operates Mid-Atlantic depots in Harrington, DE;N ew Castle, DE; Elkton, MD; Federalsburg, MD; Rocky Hill, CT; andSpringfield, MA has seen success through its supply of fast-growing The Fresh Market, which continues to expand.
Cooper-Booth, based in Mountville,P A upped its volume this year as it added the Royal Farms convenience store chain to its roster. This year, Cooper Booth serviced approximately 1,617 stores and saw an estimate volume of $385.3 million.
Bozzuto’s continued to build its infrastructure in the Mid-Atlantic, doing business in the region from a distribution center in Allentown, PA. Its approximately 109 retail accounts in the market helped it garner $365 million in Mid-Atlantic volume.
Eby Brown, with a warehouse in Baltimore, saw its sales drop to $333.7 million as it lost the Royal Farms business. Currently, Eby Brown services approximately 3,945 stores in the Mid-Atlantic.
Other wholesalers in the area included: Merchant’s Grocery ($130 million), Quality Foods, a division of HT Hackney ($98 million); B. Green ($80 million) and Economy Wholesale ($6.7 million).