On this episode of Ruled by Reason, AAI President Diana Moss hosts David Smith, CEO of Associated Wholesale Grocers, and Chris Jones, SVP of Government Relations and Counsel for the National Grocers Association. They take up a front-line issue: consolidation in the retail grocery supply chain and the threat it poses to smaller independent grocers. The accumulation of market power has spurred an ongoing cycle of bulking up to gain bargaining leverage over suppliers and customers, with significant effects on smaller players in the supply chain, including farmers and ranchers, small food brands, regional dairy and protein processors, food wholesalers, and independent grocers. The conversation focuses on how powerful retail grocers engage in various methods to exercise their buyer power, often at the expense of independent grocers; what enforcement and policy tools are available to combat it; and what further consolidation in retail grocery means for competition and security of the food supply chain.
David Smith is the CEO of Associated Wholesale Grocers, the largest cooperative food wholesaler in America. Throughout his long career, David has focused on the development and success of independent supermarket operators. He grew up in the retail side of the grocery business in a family-owned independent multi-store operation and later worked in management and leadership roles for regional wholesalers Malone and Hyde and later for Fleming Companies, Inc.
Chris Jones is SVP of Government Relations and Counsel for the National Grocers Association. He joined NGA after serving nearly 8 years as a staffer on Capitol Hill. He worked in a senior legislative role from 2010-2017 and managed the agriculture and nutrition portfolio for a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee.