News Briefs


Women Grocers of America Holding 1st Executive Female Leaders Network Meeting

Women Grocers of America Teaser

The Women Grocers of America (WGA) will hold its first convening of the new Executive Female Leaders Network (EXFL), a professional peer group designed for female executives in the independent grocery sector, in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 23-24, ahead of the NGA Executive Conference & Public Policy Summit on Oct. 24-26. 

Created by WGA and supported by the NGA Foundation, the EXFL Network provides the opportunity for women in the retail, wholesale, supplier, manufacturer and vendor communities to meet in person, share ideas and experiences, and discuss complex issues in the independent grocery industry. 

The network’s inaugural meeting will offer an interactive leadership development workshop, high-level analysis of key trends affecting the industry, and an exclusive members-only education and networking event. The speaker lineup includes a female executive panel with Katie Hotze, founder and CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Grocery Shopii; Amy Nemetschek, president and CEO of Madison, Wis.-based Certco Inc.; and Stephanie Becker, SVP, general counsel and chief legal officer at Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesale Grocers.  

Additionally, Natalie Johnson, co-founder of Lakewood Ranch, Fla.-based ViDL Solutions, will guide participants through a Dare to Lead training, an empirically based courage-building program designed for future leaders and developed by researcher and author Brené Brown. 

Sponsors of the event are The Kellogg Co., The Coca-Cola Co., Fiserv, Rosie – An Instacart Company, Nestle-Purina PetCare, Badger Technologies and BRData.  

Washington, D.C.-based NGA is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale community grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. 


Topco Hires VP to Direct Meat, Seafood Program

Topco Lyons

Topco Associates is bringing on retail veteran Jacqueline Lyons to serve as its new VP of meat and seafood programs. In the role, Lyons will oversee the company’s fresh meat, packaged meat and seafood departments.

Lyons worked at Walmart for 27 years prior to joining Topco, most recently as a divisional merchandise manager of seafood and seasonal meat. Lyons also has experience in dry grocery, snacks, beverages, produce and floral categories.

“We’re excited for Jacqui to join the team, adding an experienced perspective to a critical strategic part of our business,” said Topco President and CEO Randy Skoda. “She arrives with a proven track record and I am confident she will be able to partner with our members to drive value by bringing innovative opportunities and solutions that drive value and help Topco’s members meet the growing needs of their shoppers.”

“Jacqui’s subject-matter knowledge, extensive experience and leadership will be integral as Topco builds solutions in collaboration with our members that exceed shoppers' expectations in Meat and Seafood,” said Topco SVP of Fresh Mike Ferguson. “Providing unparalleled freshness, value, and product transparency in the supply chain has never been more important. Jacqui will expertly guide our team in this pursuit.”

Topco Associates is a $16.1 billion, privately held, member-owned company that provides aggregation, innovation and knowledge management solutions for its food industry member-owners and customers, including grocery retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice and pharmacy companies. Topco leverages the collective volume, knowledge and commitment of these companies to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace by reducing costs and offering winning business-building capabilities.


FirstFruits Farms Adds Core Employees

FirstFruits Hires

In time for prime apple season, FirstFruit Farms has picked more team members to expand its apple and cherry business. The Yakima, Wash.-based grower announced several recent promotions and appointments.

Employees elevated to new positions include the following:

• Lon Hudson, promoted to sales director
• Aleisha Loveluck, promoted to data science architect
• Emily Autrey, promoted to marketing manager

New hires include the following:

• Justin Bos, senior sales account manage
• Andy Zhu, post-harvest manager
• Melissa Hunter, data analyst

Loveluck, for her part, said that the changes will bolster the company at a pivotal time. “FirstFruits Farms finds it crucial to continuously invest in and prepare its teams,” she asserted. “Through the combined experience and skills our sales, data analytics, and marketing teams bring together, we can comprehend the mass amount of data in the market and glean insights to present in an easy-to-read format for our retail partners. We pride ourselves on our ability to marry insights with solutions to grow the apple category. “

FirstFruits Farms grows more than 10 varieties of apples and cherries across 6,000 acres in the eastern region of Washington. Its fruit is grown, stored and packed at the same site.


Tops Unveils Donation Campaign to Benefit Children's Hospital

Tops Teaser

Tops Friendly Markets is launching its 2022 Free Gas and Grocery Campaign, set to run from Oct. 23 to Nov. 5, 2023, at all participating locations. Customers can purchase a $1 ticket to support the Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y.

Shoppers who donate money to the campaign will be entered to win a year's worth of gas and groceries valued at $10,000. The campaign raised nearly $70,000 last year for Oishei Children’s Hospital, and has raised more than $1.4 million for the hospital since it was started in 2006. 

“At Tops it is our belief that by enhancing the quality of life for children through education and excellent health care, we build a strong future together,” said John Persons, president of Tops. “Our support of the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo over the years has a long and rich history and we are proud to support such a wonderful institution that provides the much needed care for those in need in our community.”

Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops Markets LLC operates 150 supermarkets, including five franchise stores, and employs more than 14,000 associates in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. The banner’s parent company, Northeast Grocery Inc., is No. 44 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


NAMI, FMI Unveil New Look for Annual Meat Conference

AMC Logo With Dates Teaser

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) and FMI – The Food Association have premiered a new look for the Annual Meat Conference (AMC) while promising a renewed high-impact forum to encourage strategic trading partner experiences and better deliver on the demands from the meat customer. 

“Our pulse on the shopper has never wavered, but we recently made some new discoveries about our organizations, the businesses we represent, and how we deliver an event experience to support our members’ goals for innovation and growth,” the trade organizations said in a joint statement. “We decided that 2023 is our year to design a brand with the team at Midan Marketing that evokes a modern, personalized protein experience.” 

AMC 2023 will delve into meat’s attributes and advantages according to attendees’ unique business needs by helping to define, market and sell brands and products; creating a forum and re-establishing connections with potential partners, contacts and opportunities throughout the industry; delivering data, trends and insights to differentiate and position attendees’ businesses; providing an extensive range of in-person food and sensory experiences, product demonstrations, and presentations; and featuring the “Power of Meat report, a key industry analysis of shoppers’ attitudes and purchasing decisions for meat.

The Annual Meat Conference 2023 is scheduled for March 6-8, 2023, at the Hilton Anatole, in Dallas.

Arlington, Va.-based FMI works with and on behalf of the entire food industry to advance a safer, healthier and more efficient consumer food supply chain, bringing together retailers, producers and companies providing critical services to amplify the collective work of the industry. 

Washington, D.C.-based NAMI is the United States’ oldest and largest trade association representing packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal, turkey and processed meat products. 


Winn-Dixie Donates $40K for Cancer Research, Treatment

WD cancer institute

Following a recent register campaign across stores in Louisiana, the Winn-Dixie banner has revealed a $40,000 donation to the Ochsner Cancer Institute, in New Orleans.  Funds will go to the health system’s mission to provide state-of-the-art treatment and personalized care for cancer patients throughout the Gulf Coast area.

Winn-Dixie has had a longstanding partnership with Ochsner Health, donating more than $435,000 to the organization over the years. “We are honored to continue our partnership with Ochsner Health in doing our part to support their incredible work that positively impacts the well-being of local patients, their families and the communities we serve,” said Lynn Rushing, the retailer’s regional VP. 

Brian Moore, M.D., medical director at the Ochsner Cancer Institute, expressed his gratitude:  “Having the support and generosity of Winn-Dixie and its customers is invaluable, as their donations benefit the patients and programs of the Ochsner Cancer Institute. Ochsner Health is committed to collaborative, patient-centered care using the latest technology, innovative treatments and a compassionate holistic approach. We change and save lives every day, and community support makes it possible.”

Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers is one of the largest conventional supermarket companies in the United States, with grocery stores, liquor stores and in-store pharmacies serving communities throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. Its banners include Fresco y Más, Harveys Supermarket, and Winn-Dixie grocery stores. The company is No. 39 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the the top food and consumables retailers in North America.