For the supermarket industry, the waning months of 1996 proved the year's most defining.
hroughout the year. Those transactions -- and some earlier whoppers -- altered the ranks of the top chains and wholesalers and ushered in new key players.
Yet 1996 also marked an industrywide stab at attaining critical mass via other means. Retailers rolled into new markets to snare more shoppers and buying clout; distributors reached farther in their quest to bag more customers and o