Indies' update: Grocers land in D.C. for NGA's Fly-In for Fair Competition, South Dakota independent grocer honored

RF Buche receives NGA Spirit of America Award, recognizing his commitment to the independent grocery industry and work in his community. 
National Grocers Association
From left: Christopher Jones, NGA SVP of government relations and counsel; RF Buche of GF Buche Co.; and Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO. / Photo courtesy of National Grocers Association

The Local CheckoutGrocery stores are like people—they come in all different shapes and sizes. And here at The Local Checkout, I’ll be taking a closer look through a wide lens of independent grocery stores. Because just like people—they all matter. 

Fairness fight

Competition policy was one of the items at the top of the agenda for nearly 200 meetings held during the National Grocers Association (NGA) Fly-In for Fair Competition, held on Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C. 

Advocating for independent grocers on a variety of issues, NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara said, “Over the last two days, America’s independent, community grocers sent a resounding message to lawmakers on Capitol Hill: It’s time to level the playing field to prevent big-box retailers from rigging the rules in their favor to squeeze out smaller competitors.”

South Dakota independent grocer RF Buche honored

During the two-day event, NGA also honored South Dakota independent grocer RF Buche, who was presented with the prestigious NGA Spirit of America Award, recognizing his commitment to the independent grocery industry and work in his community. 

Buche, a fourth-generation grocer and president of South Dakota-based GF Buche Co., is no stranger to the fairness fight for independent grocers and food access for all. He has testified before the House Rules Committee detailing efforts by his company to tackle food insecurity.

Also, Buche has worked to boost access to fresh food in rural communities, stocking a trailer with healthy foods as well as essential products for communities on tribal lands and other areas where there are few means of transportation. 

Credit card competition

Another area where independent grocers are looking to level the playing field is credit card payments. In any game, competition is good. So this week FMI-The Food Industry Association welcomed House and Senate introduction of legislation increasing credit card competition.

“Due to a lack of competition, credit card companies have been able to exponentially increase hidden processing fees that grocers are forced to pay for accepting credit cards as payment,” FMI Chief Public Policy Officer and Senior Vice President of Government Relations Jennifer Hatcher said this week. “Card processing fees in the U.S. are some of the highest in the world, totaling $160.7 billion in 2022, according to Nilson Report. Excessively high credit swipe fees that exceed grocers’ profit margins force grocers to have to increase prices. These fee increases disproportionately impact lower income Americans, those who rely on cash and those who do not have access to high credit-card rewards.”

Webinar on changing trends

John Ross, CEO of IGA, the world's largest group of independent grocery retailers, is slated to join Tammie Hetrick, president and CEO of the Washington Food Industry Association, for a live webinar next month to discuss the changing trends in the independent grocery industry. The webinar is scheduled for July 11 and all are welcome.

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