California Grocers Association Seeks Greater Input on Food Desert Discussions


Contact: Dave Heylen, V.P. Communications California Grocers Association
Tel: 916.448.3545
Fax: 916.448.2793
E-mail: [email protected]

California Grocers Association
1415 L Street, Suite 450
Sacramento, CA 95814

SACRAMENTO, CA – (November 11, 2010) – The California Grocers Association is calling on Los Angeles elected officials, local community groups and faith-based organizations to include grocery industry representatives when developing strategies to attract grocery companies to build or remodel stores in the city’s underserved areas (food deserts).

“It seems unimaginable that any entity, whether private or public, would move forward to establish policies or recommendations without input from one of the most important components – the grocery industry,” said CGA President Ronald Fong. “Learning how we do business, from those in the back office, will allow for effective, meaningful policy to be developed.”

Fong said recommendations must be focused on fact-based information and not politically driven agendas. Grocery retailer input is critical in recognizing and addressing barriers to store development. He expressed concern that several local elected officials have suggested a disincentive program that punishes the industry rather than encourage development.

“Our elected and appointed decision makers should look to the successful programs in Pennsylvania and New York where incentive programs were implemented that encouraged economic development,” Fong said.

According to a recent report entitled, “Food Desert to Food Oasis – Promoting Grocery Store Development in South Los Angeles,” there are six key barriers to establishing full-service grocery stores in the city’s underserved areas. They include:

  • Difficulty Identifying Viable Sites
  • Costly Infrastructure Requirements
  • Lengthy Approval Process
  • Lack of Skilled Workers
  • Presumed Lack of Spending Power
  • Negative Perceptions of the Neighborhood

“Attracting new grocery stores must focus on eliminating these barriers,” Fong said. “Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. The grocery industry must have a seat at the table.”

The greatest challenge facing CGA is the misperception that grocers have abandoned the inner city. Contrary to these claims by special interest groups, grocery retailers are interested in building in Los Angeles’ underserved areas.

“Several new stores have been built in the past two years despite the downturned economy,” Fong said. “But it took a certain amount of creativity and input from retailers to make it happen. Attempting to create incentive packages without input from the grocery industry is simply an exercise in futility.”

The California Grocers Association is a non-profit trade association representing the food industry since 1898. CGA represents approximately 500 retail members operating over 6,000 food stores in California and Nevada, and approximately 200 grocery supplier companies. Retail membership includes chain and independent supermarkets, convenience stores and mass merchandisers