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The U.S. food industry was a U.S.-only industry until 1976.

That's when Aldi, a West German operator, acquired Benner Tea Co., Batavia, Ill., and began converting its stores to limited-assortment formats.

Delhaize "Le Lion," Brussels, Belgium, acquired controlling interest in Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., in 1977 and Alterman Foods, Atlanta, in 1980.

Netherlands-based Ahold acquired Bi-Lo, Mauldin, S.C., in 1977 and subsequently added Giant Food Stores, Carlisle, Pa., in 1981; First National Supermarkets, Cleveland, in 1988; Tops Friendly Markets, Williamsville, N.Y., in 1991; Red Food Stores, Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1994; Stop & Shop Cos., Quincy, Mass, in 1996; Giant Food, Landover, Md., in 1998; and Bruno's Supermarkets, Birmingham, Ala., earlier this year.

Other foreign investors in the United States have included the following:


J. Sainsbury, which acquired Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater, Mass., in 1987; Giant Food, Landover, Md., in 1995 (which was subsequently sold to Ahold); Star Markets, Boston, in 1997; and 19 units of Grand Union in Vermont and Connecticut in 1999.

Marks & Spencer, London, which bought Kings Super Markets, West Caldwell, N.J., in 1988 (and was on the verge of selling the chain earlier this year).


Generale Occidentale, which acquired Grand Union in 1974 and sold it back to chain management in 1988.

Casino, which acquired control of Smart & Final Co., Los Angeles, in 1984.

Carrefour, which opened a hypermarket in Philadelphia in 1988 and another in southern New Jersey in 1992 but closed both in 1993.

LeClerc, which opened a single store in Maryland in 1990 and closed it a couple of years later.

Euromarche, which operated a joint-venture store called bigg's in Cincinnati in partnership with other French investors and Supervalu from 1984 until Supervalu bought them out in 1994.

Auchan, which opened a hypermarket in Chicago in 1987 -- and closed it a year later -- while the store it opened in Houston in 1989 remains in operation.


Tengelmann AG, which acquired control of A&P, Montvale, N.J., in 1979 and maintains its investment.

Hugo Mann Group, which owned Fed-Mart, a San Diego, Calif.-based membership discount store, through the mid-1970s.

Franz Haniel & Cie., which sold Scrivner, an Oklahoma City-based wholesaler, to Fleming in 1994.

Rewe Handelgesellschaft Liebbrand OHG, which sold Furr's Supermarkets, Lubbock, Texas, to investors and management in 1995.


Provigo, which sold its Petrini's Markets and Market Wholesale Grocery Co. in Northern California in 1994.

Steinberg's, Montreal, which sold Smitty's in Phoenix, in 1994 to Smith's Food & Drug Co.

Loblaw Cos., Toronto, which sold its National Tea Co. stores in St. Louis to Schnuck's and those in New Orleans to Schwegmann in 1995.

Campeau Corp., a Toronto-based developer, which held an ownership position in Ralphs Grocery Co., Compton, Calif., in 1988 and 1989 following its acquisition of Ralphs' corporate parent, Federated Department Stores.