The NGA Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association, has announced that Quincy, Illinois-based Niemann Foods will be the participating retailer in the 2024 Student Case Study Competition.
The annual Student Case Study Competition brings college students pursuing degrees in food and retail programs from across the country to The NGA Show, where they present solutions to an issue impacting the independent grocery industry. This year’s show is set for March 10-12 at Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas.
The 2024 topic is “Maintaining a Competitive Edge.” Student teams will analyze what sets independent grocery retailers apart and if that will be enough in the future or require adjustments.
The program allows students to interact with an independent grocer and ground their education with real-life experience. Participants will move through three rounds of judging from food industry professionals, with the winners and their school receiving a cash prize.
“It’s a great honor for Niemann Foods to play such an important role in the learning experience of students pursuing careers in the grocery industry,” said Gerry Kettler, the company’s director of consumer affairs and chairman of the Niemann Foods Foundation.
“We are excited to see the ideas that emerge and the students’ impressions of independent grocers, who are such a unique and important part of the nation’s food distribution system.”
Dating back to 1917, Niemann Foods owns and operates more than 130 supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience, pet and hardware stores under several banners, including County Market, Harvest Market, Haymakers, Ace Hardware, Pet Supplies Plus and Save-A-Lot in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin.
Each year, an independent retailer is selected as the subject of the competition, providing a budget and relevant details to aid in students’ presentation. Previous retailers have included Dierbergs, Woodman’s Food Markets, Karns Quality Foods and Buehler’s Fresh Foods.
Last year’s winning student team came from Auburn University in Alabama.
“Being able to create strategies and real-life solutions for an established grocery business provided invaluable experience for these students,” said Tyler Morgan, assistant professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management at Auburn’s Harbert College of Business.
“The opportunity to network with industry professionals at the NGA Show is also a great asset of the NGA Foundation’s student program.”
Kirk Clark, chairman of the NGAF Board of Regents and director of merchandising at Albertville, Alabama.-based Mitchell Grocery Corp., said the foundation is “honored to play a role in the growth and development of our industry’s future leaders.”
“The immersion of students in the operations of an NGA member retailer creates a learning experience that’s hard to beat,” he said.
Read more association news from The Shelby Report.