You might say our Power 50 roster  was hit by a case of the seven-year itch.
This annual ranking of the industry's most influential people, begun in 2003, is still as relevant as ever, but we wanted to try something new by adding another layer of information to this highly popular offering.
Here's what we came up with: a new way of slicing and dicing the list, both in print and online, to satisfy expanding research and information needs. The Power 50 is still the main roster, created by editors with the help of industry nominations. But now you can learn more about each of the 50 players.
Editors created new “buckets” or categories into which members of the Power 50 fall . The breakdowns include sustainability chief, nutrition champion, recession buster, turnaround artist, format innovator, policy star, acquisition architect, and new to list.
So, for example, power players included in the recession-buster group are all doing a great job meeting the needs of cash-strapped consumers. This group includes Wal-Mart's Mike Duke and Aldi's Charles Youngstrom, in addition to 19 others.
One of those others is Kroger CEO David Dillon, whose company has been a strong performer during the tough economy. Kroger, in fact, was awarded SN's Retail Excellence Award last year, largely for its ability to invest in lowering prices and cutting costs to narrow the price gap with discounters and other operators.
Our design team created visual aids for each power player category in the form of icons used in the profiles throughout this issue. The recession buster icon, for instance, is a white dollar sign in a red box.
What else is new with the Power 50 this year? The lineup of power players has changed quite a bit. There are many first-timers, and in fact “new to list” is one of the icons we are highlighting. Many newbies came to the rankings following leadership transitions in their organizations.
These include CEOs of retailer and supplier companies and of major associations, such as Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association. Others made our list by arriving on the Obama Express after last year's national election. These include President Obama himself, as well as new heads of federal agencies that directly impact the food industry.
As indicated earlier, the recession looms large in this year's rankings. The Power 50 is packed with leaders who have figured out how to ease the recession's pain for consumers.
While a number of supermarket executives qualify here, so do leaders of non-supermarkets, particularly discounters. We even saved a spot in the rankings — No. 43 — for “the private label.” This points not to a person, of course, but rather to a trend gaining momentum during this economic downturn.
The best thing about the Power 50 is change. The players are different from year to year. So we hope you'll appreciate how the roster itself is adapting to meet changing needs.
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