Skip to main content

GMA Honors Publix's Ed Crenshaw with Lifetime Achievement Award


The Grocery Manufacturers Association bestowed its first Hall of Achievement Award in 1984 to George Jenkins, the founder of Publix Super Markets. So it was fitting that Jeninks' grandson, Ed Crenshaw, who for the past four decades has played a key part of the Florida-based grocery chain’s ascension to one of the country’s leading retailers, was saluted with GMA's highest honor over the weekend at its annual Leadership Forum at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.

In an interview with PG following the award presentation, Crenshaw, who retired as CEO of Publix earlier this year, expressed pride in many things during his long tenure with Publix, including the company’s growth beyond its historic Florida home turf and the launching of its Atlanta Division, which Crenshaw helmed for a time. “I’m really proud of what Publix associates have been able to accomplish, because we work together,” Crenshaw said.

What’s the biggest change among grocery shoppers that Crenshaw has observed during his career? “They have so much more knowledge about food and they want to know more – how it’s handled at the manufacturer and retailer level,” he said.

“I’m very proud of the industry moving toward SmartLabel,” he continued, referring to GMA’s transparency initiative. “There’s so much information – we have to sort through it to provide what’s most meaningful.”

Moving forward, Crenshaw says the industry “is really going to have to be on top of all the regulations” over labeling and other operational aspects, and ensure proper compliance. Further, he said, it’s going to be vitally important “to look into the future and see what the consumer is going to expect from us. We’ve got to be prepared to meet their needs in all these channels.”

He continued: “Customers have such different expectations of us today. Social media is an important tool for customers to communicate with us and us with them. We have to respond to their needs in a timely way.”

As he steps back from the day to day at Publix (he's staying on as chairman of the board), Crenshaw says he’ll miss seeing business associates with whom he has become good friends over the years at industry gatherings.

“I’m proud of the relationships I’ve made, working with FMI and GMA on industry issues,” he said. “There comes a time when you have to hand things off to the next generation. They’ll take it to another level.”

Crenshaw added: “There’s some real challenges ahead but nothing that people working together can’t solve.”

Innovation Awards

Also at this past weekend’s forum, GMA honored McCormick & Co. and Pinnacle Foods with its 2016 CPG Awards for Innovation and Creativity.

These winners are selected each year by the GMA Advisory Council in recognition of their creativity and willingness to take risks, resulting in measurable results and significant impact on the industry.

Pinnacle Foods was recognized for its Duncan Hines Perfect Size platform. Launched in 2015, Perfect Size addresses the key market dynamic of smaller households and consumer desires to avoid leftovers by offering a complete solution with mix, cake pan and icing to make a perfectly sized cake to serve two to four people.

The launch offered traditional bakers a reason to come back to the baking mixes category that had been seeing declines, and bake smaller portions for smaller households. Pinnacle is expanding the platform this year into more desserts such as cheesecake, chocolate crème pie and key lime pie.

“Using analytics and qualitative consumer research, we were able to identify key insights around changes taking place in the demographics of U.S. households and form a hands-on, entrepreneurial team to more deeply understand the consumer need, develop the concept into a platform and then bring-to-market a line of products for our customers and consumers,” said Mark Schiller, president of the North America retail business unit of Pinnacle Foods. “The feedback we have received around Duncan Hines Perfect Size has been tremendous and the results from both our retail partners as well as consumers have really highlighted our ability to bring new and innovative concepts into a historically price-driven category.”

McCormick was recognized for its Herb Grinders, which delivers for consumers searching for the fresher flavor and aroma of fresh herbs in a more convenient format. The grinders utilize a mechanism that consists of four interlocking components. The product has helped McCormick increase its market share and compete against fresh spices because of the longer shelf life and is now scheduled to be rolled out in additional regions, including Canada and France. 

“Innovation continues to be a major growth driver for our brands and we are thrilled with the launch of our new Herb Grinders product line,” said Brendan Foley, president of McCormick’s global consumer business and North America. “This new range represents breakthrough innovation for us and is a significant opportunity to capture consumers that currently purchase packaged fresh herbs. In fact, our research shows that consumers will use herb grinders every three days so we’re anticipating strong repurchase here in the U.S. This innovation captures a previously unmet consumer need by providing fresher flavor and aroma, versatility from prep to plate, and a multi-sensorial experience.”

Pamela G. Bailey, GMA president and CEO, noted: “Our members are constantly building their brands and executing on new and inspiring ways of connecting to consumers each and every day. The successes of both McCormick and Pinnacle are prime examples of how thinking outside the box can spark change across a brand and across the industry.”

In addition, Raphael Nunez, a rising senior at Worcester State University in Massachusetts, was presented with GMA’s 2016 ENACTUS Emerging Leader Award.




This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds