NCG Guest Speaker on Food Inflation
The Board recently received an amazing presentation from Tony Alongi from National Co+op Grocers (NCG) on the issue of Inflation in Grocery and Co-ops. Tony provided the Board with very interesting information, including the latest news about inflation and providing ideas on what Co-ops can do to help with this problem. Hopefully this article can help to illuminate this issue.
"NCG is a business services cooperative for retail food Co-ops located throughout the United States representing 147 food Co-ops operating over 200 stores in 38 states with combined annual sales over $2 billion and over 1.3 million consumer-owners." (ncg.coop/about-us)
NCG provides a lengthy list of services for Co-ops, but one that is top of the list is negotiating pricing with grocery distributors like UNFI, our Co-op's main distributor.
Tony has a strong background in the food Co-op industry. He has held Finance and Management leadership roles in several Co-op organizations before joining NCG in 2020. His current role is the Central Region Co-op Resource Manager. He works very closely with Gary and the staff of the Common Ground.
Latest News About Food Inflation
As many of you are no doubt aware, food inflation has become a major issue for stores and consumers across the United States. NCG has assessed the data for inflation, and seen a major increase for prices for Food-at-Home (grocery store or supermarket food purchases) have seen an increase of 13.1% since July of 2021. This trend also represents the highest rate for Food-At-Home costs since 1979.
However, NCG’s data demonstrated that it is the public perception of the inflation problem that has significantly impacted consumers. Surveys of consumers showed that purchasers believed that food prices had risen more than twice the actual increase.
In reaction to these increased costs, more consumers are cooking their own food rather than eating out at restaurants. More consumers have become health conscious, and look to retailers and brands to carefully assess what stores meet their budgetary and dietary needs. Many now look for coupons, seek out sales and purchase more generic bands.
Co-ops have been slow to change prices in reaction to this inflation, lowering gross margins, and ultimately lowering profitability. Co-ops will have to carefully adapt to the rising cost of food, emphasizing products with high purchase frequency, and look to provide consumers with options that fit their current needs.
We appreciate the insight into this issue that Mr. Alongi provided, as we look to the future.