2020 Outstanding Independents, Ethnic: Compare Foods

Gina Acosta
Gina Acosta profile picture
2020 Outstanding Independents, Ethnic: Compare Foods

Evolving demographics and increased U.S. consumer interest in exotic foods is driving tremendous growth in the ethnic independent grocery industry, and Compare Foods Supermarkets in Charlotte, N.C., is leveraging that opportunity to the fullest.

According to Arnhem, Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights, sales of foods that highlighted ethnic flavors grew more than 20% in 2018 as U.S. consumers of all stripes ate more tortillas, sriracha and adobo.

Compare Foods is special because of the connection that it makes with all of its customers,” says Omar G. Jorge Peña, CEO of the company, which has become renowned in the Charlotte region for its assortment of imported products from all over the world, large produce departments, custom butcher counters, quality prepared foods and Mexican-style bakeries.

The first Compare store in Charlotte opened in 2004. Since then, the chain, a divisional banner of the Port Washington, N.Y.-based Associated Supermarket Group, has grown to six stores not just by appealing to Hispanics, but also by attracting multiethnic foodies searching for unique ingredients for a special recipe, vegans and vegetarians who rely on a wide variety of fresh produce, and North Carolinian barbecue grill-masters who want specific cuts of meat.

“As a family-owned company, our primary value is to treat our customers like members of our family,” Peña says. “We ensure that our stores carry the products from our customers’ native country, the freshest meats and produce available, and a friendly, familiar service that creates a bond with our customers. Everyone ... shares in this mission to make our Compare Foods our customers’ home away from home.”

Compare has also become an important community partner, taking part in a range of corporate responsibility intiatives that benefit the Queen City.