News Briefs


ASG Co-CEO Receives NGA’s Spirit of America Award

NGA Spirit of America Awards Zulema Wiscovitch Teaser

The National Grocers Association (NGA) has presented its Spirit of America Award to Zulema Wiscovitch, co-CEO of Port Washington, N.Y.-based Associated Supermarket Group (ASG), which supplies and provides retail solutions to one of the largest groups of independently owned and operated supermarkets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. Wiscovitch received the award Oct. 25 at NGA’s Executive Conference & Public Policy Summit, in Washington, D.C. 

Since 1982, the Spirit of America Award has been given to individuals who provide leadership in the areas of community service and government relations, and are committed to a free and independent food distribution system. Previous recipients include former presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford.

“Zulema truly walks the walk when it comes to advocacy engagement, using her position and political relationships to educate elected officials on important issues that directly impact independent grocers,” said Greg Ferrara, president and CEO of Washington, D.C.-based NGA. “It’s because of her tireless efforts, willingness to be part of the process, and the engagement of her retailers that NGA has been able to advance our most important policy effort, reviving and enforcing the Robinson-Patman Act.”

Before joining ASG, Wiscovitch was executive director of the National Supermarket Association, a Flushing, N.Y.-based trade association representing East Coast independent supermarket owners. Prior to that position, she held various regional marketing and corporate relations roles at Anheuser-Busch Inc. Earlier, she was VP of Wiscovitch Associates Ltd., a family-owned public relations and public affairs 

Originally from Maracaibo, Venezuela, Wiscovitch currently sits on the NGA executive board and the board of the Food Industry Alliance of New York

On the same day, the NGA also honored Michael Ridenour, former head of industry relations and sale operations at Chicago-basedKraft Heinz Co., with its Industry Service Award. 


Sunsweet Names New COO

Sunsweet Brad Schuler

Sunsweet Growers, Inc. has promoted Brad Schuler to COO from his most recent position as VP of global marketing and sales. Founded in 1917, the Yuba City, Calif.-based cooperative markets prunes, specialty dried fruit products, fruit juices and bottled beverages to retailers around the world.  

Schuler is closing on 25 years at Sunsweet. He joined the company in 1999 as director of sales and demonstrated a continual commitment to company growth, according to president and CEO Dane Lance. "The past few years have been the most challenging in Sunsweet's 105-year history," Lance noted. "During this period Brad demonstrated chief operating officer level leadership and coordination skills as he identified agile processes for business planning, coordination of production priorities, and risk mitigation. These efforts, along with our dedicated team members’ commitment to success, helped ensure Sunsweet products were readily available to meet the needs of our customers and consumers."

[Read more: "Healthy Holiday Eating on a Budget"]

Schuler said he is ready to take the company through its next phase of growth. "Sunsweet maintains a brand leadership position around the world in key business categories of prune and prune juice products. Additional growth will be driven by innovation that expands into new categories and segments to enhance the Sunsweet experience our products provide to consumers. Sunsweet continues with a strong vision of our future,” he asserted. Among other endeavors, he cited the recent expansion of Sunsweet’s production capabilities in California and Pennsylvania and its new state-of-the-art facility in Santa Cruz, Chile.


NGA Gives Industry Vet Service Award

NGA Industry Service Award Teaser

The National Grocers Association (NGA) has bestowed its Industry Service Award on Michael Ridenour, former head of industry relations and sale operations at Chicago-based Kraft Heinz Co. 

Presented Oct. 25 during NGA’s Executive Conference & Public Policy Summit, the award is given to an individual or company whose years of service in the food industry have contributed to better working relations and understanding between retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers. 

“For more than 36 years, Mike has been a passionate advocate for America’s independent grocers, helping to create a strong marketplace where retailers and their customers benefit,” noted Greg Ferrara, president and CEO. of Washington, D.C.-based NGA. “Mike’s leadership and support of the independent supermarket industry throughout his career have had a positive and lasting impact.” 

Ridenour began his career with Kraft Foods in Atlanta as a sales representative and took on various managerial and executive roles across the U.S. He was also a member of NGA’s board of directors, helping to guide the organization’s mission on behalf of independent grocers. 


SpartanNash Supporting Local Food Pantries

SpartanNash Food Pantries Teaser

Food solutions company SpartanNash will launch its annual in-store fundraiser this week through Nov. 6 in support of local food banks in its market area Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. All 147 company-owned stores under the banners of Family Fare, D&W Fresh Market, Dan’s Supermarkets, Martin’s Super Markets, Supermercado, VG’s Grocery, Forest Hill Foods and Ada Fresh Market are taking part in the campaign.  

The program enables shoppers to make donations at checkout or online through SpartanNash’s Fast Lane e-commerce service. Customers can donate $1, $5, $10 or round up to the nearest dollar at the register during checkout. Every dollar donated can provide up to 10 meals, according to Chicago-based Feeding America

“With inflation and the already existing financial strain the holidays bring, many more families are needing extra help putting food on the table this year,” said SpartanNash SVP, Communications and SpartanNash Foundation Executive Director Adrienne Chance “We are calling on SpartanNash associates and store guests to help us raise critical funds for food pantries in advance of the holiday season.” 

Since starting the annual fundraiser in 2016, the SpartanNash Foundation has raised more than  $1.7 million in support of local food pantries. 

SpartanNash’s core businesses include distributing grocery products to independent and chain retailers, its corporate-owned retail stores, and U.S. military commissaries and exchanges, as well as fresh produce distribution and fresh food processing. No. 41 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company serves customer locations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Djibouti, Korea and Japan. SpartanNash also operates 147 supermarkets and employs 17,500 associates.


DoorDash, Walgreens Connect Underserved Communities to COVID-19 Treatment

Paxlovid Teaser

In line with DoorDash’s work to broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, the company has rolled out a new initiative to provide critical treatment to people in underserved communities across the United States. In answer to the president’s call to action, DoorDash and Walgreens have teamed to enable the free delivery of prescriptions of Paxlovid, an oral medication that can reduce the risk of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19, directly to the homes of at-risk Americans such as seniors. 

Under the initiative, patients with a prescription for Paxlovid being filled at Walgreens will be able to have their medication delivered through DoorDash at no additional cost. Eligible consumers will be able to get free same-day delivery of Paxlovid via and the Walgreens app, with contactless delivery powered by Drive, DoorDash’s white-label fulfillment platform that enables direct delivery for any business. 

“DoorDash is proud to again respond to the White House’s call to action and partner with Walgreens to expand access to life-saving COVID-19 treatments ahead of the winter months,” said Elizabeth Jarvis-Shean, VP of communications and policy at San Francisco-based DoorDash. “The pandemic has shown the urgent need for collaboration across the public and private sectors, and we look forward to working with our partners at Walgreens to ensure that those who need these critical COVID-19 treatments can access them in an equitable way.” 

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens, which operates nearly 9,000 retail locations across the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is No. 5 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Harps to Enter New Market Areas With Acquisition

Harps Food Stores Sells and Leases Back 13 Stores Essential Properties CBRE

Fast-growing Harps Food Stores has revealed a deal to purchase independent grocer The MarketsWith this acquisition, Harps reportedly will gain six store locations in central Louisiana and one in southwestern Mississippi.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Harps said that the deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

[Read more: “Harps Lifts Several Directors to VPs”]

“We are excited to enter into these new markets for Harps in Louisiana and Mississippi,” said Kim Eskew, chairman and CEO of Springdale, Ark.-based Harps. “The Market stores have served these communities with excellence for many years, and we are thrilled to add them to the Harps family.”

We are excited for the new possibilities for growth and success that Harps can bring to our stores,noted Barry Loy, president of the 50-plus-year-old The Markets. We wish Harps and the Markets team members many years of success.

Harps is the largest employee-owned company based in Arkansas and the 30th largest in the United States. The company operates more than 130 stores in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas.