by Greg Ferrara / president and CEO, NGA
Inflation. Labor shortages. Regulations. Competitive challenges.
They’re all part of the here and now for independent community grocers. But they’re nothing new – they’re all issues that our industry was facing back in 1982, when the National Grocers Association was incorporated.
Forty years ago, in October of that year, the Cooperative Food Distributors of America and the National Association of Retail Grocers of the United States were consolidated into a single trade association: NGA. This merger marked the first time that independent retailers and wholesalers were joined under one organization.
NGA still is the only national trade group that exclusively represents independent food retailers and retailer-owned cooperatives and wholesalers. It aggregates and brings to the conversation, in Washington and across our industry, the voices of real people to influence outcomes and change minds.
At the time NGA was created, the country was emerging from a severe recession, amid high interest rates, inflation and unemployment. Chief among independent grocers’ concerns was the rapid growth of super warehouse stores, merger and acquisition activity among chains and price discrimination.
These were just some of the issues that NGA would have to grapple with in order to keep the playing field level for independent grocers and help preserve consumer choice.
They’re all familiar themes. Economies are cyclical, trends come and go and the marketplace continues to evolve. But NGA maintains its fight to keep that playing field level and support fair competition for all players in the marketplace.
For nearly 40 years, it’s been engrained in who we are as an organization. Look no further than NGA’s philosophy statement: “To promote diversity in the marketplace through a vibrant independent sector, and thereby increase consumer choice in price, variety, quality, service and value.”
While NGA has always had a prominent and robust government relations program, the association recognized that a core purpose was to offer all members a strong educational program geared toward the operational needs of our members.
NGA’s ongoing education and member outreach initiatives aim to keep members where they need to be as a business. And that occurs whether the issue of the day is staying ahead of product sales trends, embracing technology to build an e-commerce infrastructure or finding alternate procurement channels amid a global pandemic.
NGA always will champion the need for keeping the independent sector strong and maintaining a competitive environment for consumers, as we have for the past 40 years and will for the next 40 and beyond.
While our anniversary isn’t officially until October, we hope you all will help us celebrate all year long, starting with the 2022 NGA Show. We’re headed back to Las Vegas, following our return to in-person events with our show there last September.
This time, we’ll be at the brand-new Caesars Forum from Feb. 27-March 1. We’ll reflect on our history at our 40-year milestone. But first and foremost, we’ll be preparing independent community grocers and the wholesalers that serve them to continue growing and thriving, learning best practices from industry experts as well as each other.