The following list is the top 10 of SN's Power 50 list for 2012, which represents the most influential people in food retailing. Wal-Mart's resurgence and powerful every day low price message kept Mike Duke, the company's chief executive officer, in the No. 1 position.
Mike Duke, CEO, Wal-Mart Stores
“No matter who we are or where we come from, our values pull us together and keep us together. They constantly push us forward to become a better and stronger company," Duke said.
David Dillon, Chairman and CEO, Kroger Co.
“We’re very optimistic,” Dillon told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting last month. “Our overall retail environment seems to be improving slightly. We expect earnings to be even stronger than in 2011.”
Steve Burd, Chairman and CEO, Safeway
"There are a lot of strategic things going on in the business — things I think I'm pretty good at and I really enjoy," said Burd.
Craig Herkert, President and CEO, Supervalu
“In the 12 months since we unveiled our business transformation strategy, we developed and rolled out new tools and capabilities to improve the operational side of our business,” said Herkert.
John Mackey, Co-CEO, Whole Foods Market
“We are pleased to report another outstanding quarter, producing the best results in our company’s 32-year history,” Mackey said.
Ed Crenshaw, CEO Publix Super Markets
“Social responsibility is the life blood of our company,” Crenshaw told SN.
Dick Boer, CEO, Ahold
“The biggest challenge in the U.S. is how they can lower their cost structure,” Edouard Aubin, a Paris-based analyst who follows Ahold for Morgan Stanley, said.
Pierre-Olivier Beckers, CEO, Delhaize Group
“Stores are creating real volume growth, supported by significant increases in the number of transactions and the number of items [purchased],” said Beckers.
Danny Wegman, CEO, Wegmans Foods Markets
“Wegmans continues to have a measured, but successful geographic growth,” said Bill Bishop, chairman of Barrington, Ill.-based consultancy Willard Bishop.
Craig Jelinek, Chairman and CEO, Costco Wholesale Corp
“I can’t be Jim Sinegal — I can only be Craig Jelinek.”