CGA Unveils Strategic Conference Theme

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The 2021 CGA Strategic Conference returns to Palm Springs with a focus on Emerging Better Together

Last year, the CGA Strategic Conference left the desert for the desktop, hosting the conference remotely for the first time.

After 18 months of being largely apart, the Association is excited to announce we plan to return to Palm Springs this fall with a thematic focus of “Emerging Better Together.”

The CGA Strategic Conference takes place from September 26-28 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. It will feature the same retailer-supplier meetings attendees have come to expect, along with top-rated speakers focusing on reinvigorating your business in the aftermath of Covid-19.

Most importantly, the Strategic Conference offers the opportunity to reconnect as a grocery community, to shake a hand, plan your strategy, and share a moment with your peers.

Visit the 2021 CGA Strategic Conference Website to learn more.

Embracing the Marathon

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Grit is the essential factor in finding success during the pandemic and into the future. 

Some of my fellow columnists in this issue have astutely pointed out that 2021 has, so far, felt similar to 2020. COVID-19 continues to dominate our thinking and have an everyday impact on our lives.

To that end the pandemic seems to be comprised of its own unique time outside the normal turn of a clock or calendar page. For this reason, operating throughout the pandemic has truly been a marathon, not a sprint.  

What’s the key to successfully navigating this historic time and maintaining success into the future? Grit. 

From in-store social distancing to managing exhausted teams, passion and perseverance especially are essential. These two characteristics must flow throughout the company, back office to the store floor. Every challenge from COVID-19 provides an opportunity to keep moving towards your desired outcome.

Our grocery stores have become the hub of our communities. Grocery workers have not only been providing an essential service but they have been the ones who have shown compassion and support to our customers and one another. They have shown the five characteristics of grit:

  • Courage to come to work and take care of communities 
  • Conscientiousness, being careful and vigilant to keep our stores safe
  • Perseverance, they show up to work in times of crisis
  • Resilience, they power through any challenges and help keep communities going

This takes the entire team from warehouses, truck drivers, our staff in our offices and especially our front-line workers who are there to serve customers every day and show up to work. They have become the pipeline for food and necessities. 

Another aspect of grit is flexibility. The doggedness grit requires might seem like the antithesis of flexibility, however, adopting grit requires a growth mindset. COVID-19 is a generation-defining obstacle, and so the roadmaps from the past will not do. Lessons must be learned, and we are all inventing the path as we go. Implementing programs that may have taken a year or longer basically happened overnight to serve our customers.

Finally, there is something most people miss when thinking about grit, and that is how it relates to the future.

Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, who has spent her career studying and measuring grit, explains grit is defined by “passion and perseverance for very long term goals, having stamina, sticking with your future, and living life like a marathon, not a sprint.”

Maintaining drive towards an unarticulated or even vague goal simply isn’t possible. Doing so would defy human nature. If we are purpose-oriented people, then we must have a definite view of the future. And we must hold these ideas tightly while remaining flexible.

Oprah Winfrey famously said, “Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.” This is a quote that strikes at the heart of the matter.

When I think about the future, I start to think more about how the pandemic has accelerated the once distant changes many have long predicted. The e-commerce adoption curve has rapidly sped forward across every demographic. Shoppers are looking for retailers to inspire their at-home culinary explorations.

Our industry has navigated change quicker than we ever thought possible. As these trends accelerate, making the future come to fruition sooner than expected, those with grit will be the winners during and after the pandemic.

The Next Big Things in Food

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As grocery enthusiasts, one of our favorite times of year is when Whole Foods Market releases its 10 Food Trends prediction list.

From wellness continuing to be a big thing to upcycled foods, this list has plenty of new trends to inspire your next shopping trip. And if you ask us, the return of breakfast and adding coffee to everything is long overdue.

Read the full set of predictions on the Whole Foods Market website .

California Grocer Issue 3

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2020’s Issue 3 of California Grocer is now available in its digital format, with the hard copy due to hit mailboxes shortly.

In this issue, we take an in-depth look at grocery e-commerce and the impact e-commerce, more generally, has had on commercial real estate. And this being a presidential election year, we catch up with voting data expert Paul Mitchell to examine what is likely to be an election to remember across many different levels of government.

Access the digital edition here.

Strategic Conference 2020 Wrap-Up

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Several Hundred Grocery Professionals Gather Online for Virtual Conference

This year, we moved our annual Strategic Conference from the desert to the desktop.

Over the course of the week, industry professionals joined their industry peers on the CGA’s Strategic Conference platform for the Association’s first-ever virtual conference. Attendees gained new insights on topics like retailing in a post-pandemic world and the state of the grocery supply chain during the Conference’s best-in-class educational segments. The Conference also facilitated hundreds of pre-scheduled business meetings between retailers and suppliers or wholesalers.

While we missed the opportunity to shake hands, share a hug or break bread together like we normally would in Palm Springs, it was enjoyable to catch up with industry friends during business meetings or in the platform’s chat and comment sections.

If you attended the Strategic Conference and missed any of the featured speakers or panels, all sessions will be available on-demand through October.

Whether navigating a virtual conference or building business strategies with partners for an unpredictable time, the industry and the people who comprise it continue to show they have resiliency in spades.

Thank you to all who attended the 2020 CGA Strategic Conference and to our sponsors, without whom the event would not have been possible.

Op-Ed: CGA Exec Speaks Out on Recycling

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Reprinted from Cal Matters
May 22, 2020

Making Grocery Stores a Recycling Center Seems Unthinkable in This Time of COVID-19

by Ron Fong, CGA President & CEO

The coronavirus crisis is teaching us much about our social infrastructure that we either didn’t know or took for granted.

We are learning, for instance, that our health care system is exactly that – a system that we all rely on, and one that can be overwhelmed by sudden stress.

We are learning that our front-line health care providers – nurses, physicians, first-responders, all manner of hospital and clinic workers – are heroes of the first order who put their well-being at risk to care for the sick and vulnerable.

And we are learning that our food-distribution system, of fundamental importance during a crisis, is strong and resilient. Farmers, food processing facilities, food distributors and grocers have stepped up to meet the demands of a worried public facing the uncertainty of sheltering in place.

To be sure, there have been instances of long lines and temporary shortages of certain items, but our food-distribution system is keeping up with demand. Deliveries of goods have been keeping pace, and grocers have been working overtime and hiring new workers to restock shelves.

Many of us are learning something that went mostly unnoticed before: that groceries are as important to our social infrastructure as roads, hospitals and fire stations. We need them to function smoothly to prevent social disruption.

It’s a lesson we need to keep in mind after this crisis passes.

With vigilance and broad public compliance with the safety measures public health experts have put forth, we can hope that the worst of the potential consequences will be averted. There is a long, uncertain road ahead, but this crisis will pass.

When that moment comes, policymakers in California can again turn their attention to issues that are important but far less urgent than a global pandemic.

Among them will be the abysmal state of recycling in California that is leading to a resurgence of plastics being discarded into the environment or buried in landfills. It has been accompanied by a decline in redemption rates of beverage containers, despite the 5- or 10-cent California Redemption Value that consumers pay for each beverage container they purchase.

The market for plastic waste plummeted in 2017 after China stopped accepting most shipments. Not only has that made it difficult or impossible to recycle such items as yogurt containers and packaging shells, but it has also dried up revenue for neighborhood recycling centers.

About half of those centers have closed in recent years, and the result has been predictable: recycling rates have fallen. For all containers, the state’s most recent report shows a redemption rate of 76% and trending downward.

number of ideas have been put forth in the Legislature to reduce plastic waste, including a phasing out of single-use plastic containers, requiring greater use of compostable materials and mandating higher amounts of recycled content in new containers in order to promote a more robust market for plastic waste.

All those ideas are ones that should be explored and refined.

But one idea that made little sense before seems absolutely unthinkable now – to complicate the mission of grocery stores by requiring them to also serve as recycling centers.

Grocers are in the business of providing food to people. Over the years, of course, that mission has also expanded to include providing necessary household supplies such as cleaning materials and, yes, toilet paper so that they are conveniently available.

Groceries don’t have the people or the space to handle the extra duty of processing containers for recycling, and the last thing anyone should be promoting is the notion of asking consumers to bring used, unsanitary materials into the very places they rely upon to provide a safe, secure food supply.

When we get past this extraordinary public health crisis, taking action to boost recycling in California will remain an important priority. Grocers will do their part in trying to help fashion solutions. But their primary role is now and should always remain to be dependable, resilient suppliers of food and household goods.

Californians depend on it.

Industry Mourns Passing of Lou Amen

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It is with great sorrow that we inform you of the passing of Louis A. Amen the founder of Super A Foods, Inc. Lou was known and loved by many and was a legend in the grocery industry. He served as CGA Chair in 1986 and was a strong supporter of both the Association and its Educational Foundation.

He passed away on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at his home in Corona del Mar. He is survived by his wife Dorie, 7 children, 24 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild.

Due to the Covid 19 regulations Lou’s memorial service will be limited to 10 close family members. The Amen family regrets to announce that the memorial service will be private.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests making memorial contributions to the California Grocers Association Educational Foundation. Reference: Lou Amen.

Thank you for the outpouring of love during this difficult time.

You can send or drop off contributions to:
Super A Foods, Inc.
c/o Renee Amen
7200 Dominion Circle
Commerce, CA 90040

Or

California Grocers Association Educational Foundation
c/o Lou Amen – Super A Foods
1005 12th Street, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95814
To donate: click here, or contact Brianne Page, CGAEF, at (916) 448-3545.

Fong Appointed to Newsom Task Force

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Advisory group tasked to jump-start state’s economy

SACRAMENTO, CA (April 17, 2020) – California Governor Gavin Newsom today appointed California Grocers Association President and CEO Ron Fong to serve on his bi-partisan Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery, responsible with helping plan the state’s economic recovery following the financial calamity resulting from COVID-19.

“I am extremely honored to participate on this very impressive and diverse task force that gives the grocery industry a seat at the table as we work to get our state economy up and running again,” Fong said. California’s grocery industry is one of the state’s largest employers, employing more than 350,000 Californians.

“I look forward to collaborating with thought leaders from throughout California as we develop recommendations for both government and business to help revive our economy and guide the state back toward economic growth and recovery,” he added.

The 80-member task force is co-chaired by former U.S. presidential candidate and billionaire philanthropist Tom Steyer and Gov. Newsom’s Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary, and includes representatives from business, labor, environment, social justice, state legislature and four former California governors.

“This is a tremendous honor for our industry to be represented on this task force,” said CGA chair Phil Miller, C&S Wholesale Grocers. “This pandemic has hit families and businesses in ways none of us could have ever imagined. Ron is uniquely positioned to add a valuable perspective as he represents California’s grocery Industry which sits squarely on the front lines of helping keep families feed and energized as we collectively navigate through this crisis.”

Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery Advisory Members

Gov. Newsom Press Release: Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery

New Digital Buyers’ Guide

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Your Online Guide to the People of California’s Grocery Community

We’ve brought the usefulness of our Annual Buyers’ Guide to the web. This real-time compilation is California’s only reference book of grocery retailers, suppliers, brokers and wholesalers.

With the convenience of having the nation’s largest grocery marketplace at your fingertips, you’ll be able to tap into target accounts, learn more about a company’s structure, or find a product’s manufacturer.

The Supplier Member Directory includes only member suppliers, and it can be accessed without a CGA membership. You must be a CGA member to access the full Member Directory and Buyers’ Guide, which features retailer contacts. Learn more about joining CGA.

Advertise

Discover why advertising in our Buyers’ Guide is the best way to penetrate the largest grocery market in the nation. CGA’s extensive membership ensures your advertising message will reach state’s grocery retail decision makers. Email Bailey Dayen to learn more.

Questions?

Need to update your personal or company’s information? Email us, and we’ll be happy to make any changes.

Grocers Day at the Capitol

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Stand with your industry

Once each year, California’s grocery community gathers in Sacramento for the industry’s most important day of collective action, Grocer’s Day at the Capitol. This annual lobby day brings together grocery influencers from all segments of the industry for a day of meetings with legislators.

For 2020, there are a number of critical issues impacting the grocery industry and the state — everything from recycling to employee scheduling. Don’t miss this opportunity to be heard by your legislator.

Sign up for Grocers Day at the Capitol, on March 31, today!