Following World War II, the end of food rationing and the lifting of price controls marked the beginning of a challenging time for the independent grocer. During the war, customer loyalty to independent grocers was strong, but afterward, the bigger self-service supermarkets were offering a wider selection at lower prices, and frugal shoppers took notice.
In 1946, in an effort to assist these struggling grocers, a sales representative from Del Monte Foods introduced eight independent grocers from Newark, New Jersey, to the concept of cooperative buying. Collectively purchasing products in large quantities at a lower cost allowed these grocers to offer their customers the same goods at a competitive price. Pleased with the results, on December 5, 1946, this cooperative relationship was formalized. Each of the grocers invested $1,000, and Wakefern Food Corp. was born.
Today, Wakefern is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, comprising 51 member companies who independently own and operate 354 retail supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market and Gourmet Garage banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Virginia markets.
Wakefern in the Community
While our corporate mission is to help independent retailers compete in a big business world, Wakefern Food Corp. believes in nurturing and sustaining healthy communities. We are invested in improving the lives of our associates, customers and neighbors in many ways, from reducing our impact on the environment to fighting hunger and promoting healthy lifestyles. Visit our Sustainability page and learn how Wakefern is striving to make its communities a better place to live, work and shop.
Wakefern at a Glance
- Founded in 1946
- Family owned or operated for four generations
- 51 members — the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the U.S.
- 354 supermarkets — ShopRite, Price Rite, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market and Gourmet Garage
- More than 70,000 total employees
- $50 million donated since 1999 through ShopRite Partners In Caring program