Jon Steinman, KCG Event April 13, 2023
Thank you to everyone who attended the talk on April 13 with Jon Steinman. Steinman’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his strategies provide important guidance. You can see his talk – or relive it if you were there – in the video below. We had a great deal of positive feedback, perhaps the most important being that member-owners are now using the term “we” and “our” a lot more. Yes, this is our store and not a place vulnerable to the needs of corporate shareholders or corporate entities with little to no experience in the grocery business who think they can capitalize on the profits. Think of Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods – they are learning the hard way and are evolving their approach but often not in ways that benefit food consumers or local producers.
Steinman’s research emphasizes the difference between co-ops and corporate grocery chains that are vulnerable to forces beyond their control. At least seven chains in the United States experienced store closures in 2022 and many continue to be at risk to mergers, acquisitions and closures which disrupt the lives of people in affected communities. Meanwhile, food cooperatives across the United States have held steady for the most part and have not been vulnerable to the issues affecting corporate grocery chains. See more of Steinman’s talking points on the website for his book Grocery Store.
In advising the grocery business in 2023, consulting service McKinsey & Company offers the warning that the grocery business is “volatile” due to continued challenges in supply chains, labor shortages, e-commerce and rising inflation. At the same time, McKinsey & Company says consumers want healthier food offerings, attention to sustainability in packaging, and good maintenance of the store. In addition, people want a store with good technological capability for pre-ordering, comparing prices, and flexibility at the point of payment. Thoughtful shoppers know the benefits of having experienced workers with fair labor standards and of investing in food ecosystems.
This sort of experience and value is what a member-owned food cooperative can offer. Kennett Community Grocer is your store, my fellow food ambassadors. Let’s keep our focus on making it happen!