The $60 billion frozen food industry owes its success to the creative genius of Clarence Birdseye, whose observations of Inuit ice fishing led to his development of a viable flash-freezing technology in 1924. It took years before his invention gained national scale, but by the time he died in 1956 frozen foods had become ubiquitous in United States food retailing.
“He was the father of the modern age of frozen foods,” Corey Henry, vice president of communications at the McLean, Va.-based American Frozen Food Institute, told SN. “It was his work in inventing and perfecting flash-freeze technology that really made the modern frozen food industry possible.”
David Dillon took over as chief executive officer of Kroger Co. in 2003 and has led a transformation of the company that sees itself as more than just a supermarket operator. The Customer 1st strategy that he deployed has driven gains in sales and market share that have made it a model for others in the industry.
“I suppose Kroger is still a supermarket,” said Neil Stern, senior partner with McMillanDoolittle, Chicago, in an interview with SN, “but it pushes the boundaries of what a supermarket is supposed to be.”
Sol Price, the founder of the modern warehouse-club format, created both the FedMart and Price Club chains. His approach was to start with the cost of a product and mark it up as little as possible so the gross margin covered the selling cost and left a small profit.
“Sol Price was one of the greatest merchants of the 20th century,” according to Jim Sinegal, the recently retired chairman of Costco Wholesale Corp., Issaquah, Wash. “I learned everything I know [from him].”
Robert Aders, Kroger Co.
Joseph Albertson, Albertsons
Ralph Ketner, Food Lion
Joe Coloumbe, Trader Joe’s
Joseph Hall, Kroger Co.
Sam Walton, Wal-Mart Stores
John Mackey, Whole Foods Market
James and Robert Ukrop, Ukrop’s Super Markets
Michael J. Cullen, King Kullen
Steve Burd, Safeway
George Jenkins, Publix Super Markets
A.G. Lafley, Procter & Gamble
Charles Butt, H-E-B
Jim Sinegal, Costco Wholesale Corp.
Robert Wegman, Wegmans Food Markets
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