Welcome to Wakefern Food Corp, the biggest employer in New Jersey
By Elaine Watson
- Last updated on
Our next stop was Keasbey, New Jersey, to visit Wakefern Food Corporation, the biggest employer in the state and the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the US (it is owned by 50 members), distributing groceries to 258 ShopRite, 57 PriceRite and 6 The Fresh Grocer stores in the North East, generating revenues of $14.1bn in 2013.
It also has a growing wholesale business supplying stores under other banners, including Gristedes and Morton Williams in New York City and Heinen's Fine Foods in Ohio, and a growing private label business (ShopRite and PriceRite), which generates more than $1bn in annual retail sales.
Like Goya, Wakefern has invested a significant amount in its operations over the past 12 months, recently opening a $50m, 524,000sq ft dry goods warehouse and distribution facility in Elizabeth.
So where is growth coming from, and what are the biggest challenges it faces?
Growth is coming from attracting new members and helping existing members open new locations, said VP Logistics & Warehousing Peter Rolandelli, who said the biggest challenges for many members has been transitioning from generation to generation.
From a distribution perspective, voice picking using the vocollect system (warehouse staff are directed to each bay via a headset) ensures high levels of accuracy, while maximum use of backhauling (trucks returning from store deliveries pick up goods from suppliers and take them back to Wakefern warehouses) has minimized empty running. A greater degree of information sharing throughout the supply chain has also helped to reduce inventory levels and free up working capital.