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Kroger, Publix and Hy-Vee produce on list of best grocery store chains in every state

With so many chains out there, often competing for the same business, how do any of them earn customer loyalty? What makes their patrons prefer some chains to others?

Among the factors that people consider when deciding where to spend their food budget are convenience, store organization, discounts, and availability of specific products. Some shoppers also pay attention to social issues – for instance, how a chain treats its employees or how the parent company is perceived to behave in general.

24/7 Tempo’s ranking of the best supermarket chains in every state is based on data suggesting chain popularity compiled from Yelp and Google Trends. For contrast, we have also added listings of the best independent grocery store (not necessarily supermarket) in every state, based on Yelp ratings. These include only single-unit operations. Stores that are primarily delis or restaurants or that have very limited selections of food were filtered out.

To determine the best supermarket in every state, 24/7 Tempo ranked grocery stores using a combination of data from Yelp and Google Trends. From Yelp, we determined the five supermarket chains with the most reviews in each state and compared their Google search frequency for a one-week period using Google Trends. The chain with the highest search frequency in each state was considered to be the most popular, and by extension the best according to grocery customers. Listings of the best one-of-a-kind independent grocery stores are based on Yelp ratings, but exclude those that are primarily delis or restaurants or that have very limited selections of food.

Alabama.

Alabama

Supermarket: Publix

Headquarters: Lakeland, Florida

Year founded: 1930

Best independent grocery store: Manna Grocery, Tuscaloosa

With more than 800 locations in Florida and other units scattered around six other Southern states, Publix is the largest employee-owned grocery chain in America.

Alaska

• Supermarket: Fred Meyer

• Headquarters: Portland, Oregon

• Year founded: 1922

• Best independent grocery store: Co-Op Market, Fairbanks

Owned by the Kroger Company, with locations throughout the Northwest, Fred Meyer is considered not just a supermarket but a hypermarket – meaning that in addition to food and drink items, the stores sell clothing, home and health and beauty products, electronics, and more.

Arizona

• Supermarket: Sprouts Farmers Market

• Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

• Year founded: 2002

• Best independent grocery store: Power Road Farmers Market, Mesa

The first Sprouts, whose motto is “Healthy Living for Less,” was opened by members of the Boney family in Chandler, Arizona, in 2002. It subsequently merged with another Boney enterprise, the California-based Henry’s Farmers Markets, and later acquired the 37-unit Sunflower Farmers Market chain.

Arkansas

• Supermarket: Sam’s Club

• Headquarters: Bentonville, Arkansas

• Year founded: 1983

• Best independent grocery store: Tang’s Asian Market, Springdale

Sam’s Club is Walmart’s equivalent to Costco – a membership-only discount chain that has become a major purveyor of groceries along with almost every other kind of merchandise you can imagine. Founded in 1983, it was named after Walmart founder Sam Walton.

California

• Supermarket: Trader Joe’s

• Headquarters: Monrovia, California

• Year founded: 1967

• Best independent grocery store: Nick’s Super Market, San Francisco

Trader Joe’s is a California native: The first store was opened in 1967 in Pasadena, just northeast of Los Angeles, by former drugstore executive Joe Coulombe – the original “Trader Joe.” It has since grown into a chain with outlets in 41 states, known for its extensive range of house-branded products and its discount wine and beer.

Colorado

• Supermarket: King Soopers

• Headquarters: Denver, Colorado

• Year founded: 1947

• Best independent grocery store: Pete’s Fruit and Vegetables, Denver

This Colorado-born chain was actually founded by a King – grocer Lloyd J. King, who had earlier launched a small group of markets called Save-a-Nickel. There are now King Soopers stores all along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, mostly in Colorado but also in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Since 2007, the chain has been part of the Kroger Company.

Connecticut

• Supermarket: Stop & Shop

• Headquarters: Quincy, Massachusetts

• Year founded: 1914

• Best independent grocery store: Million Asian Market, New Haven

The Stop & Shop chain dates its origins back to 1914, when the Rabinowitz family opened a small grocery in Somerville, Massachusetts. Four years later, it had grown to a 32-store chain, and today includes almost 420 locations in the New York Tri-State area, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. It is credited with pioneering the superstore concept in Massachusetts in 1982. Since 1996, it has been owned by the European supermarket conglomerate now called Ahold Delhaize.

Delaware

• Supermarket: BJ’s Wholesale Club

• Headquarters: Westborough, Massachusetts

• Year founded: 1984

• Best independent grocery store: Janssen’s Market, Greenville

A membership chain selling many other items in addition to groceries, BJ’s is a smaller competitor to Costco and Sam’s Club, with just over 210 stores in 16 states. In 2014, BJ’s became the first major wholesale retail chain to begin donating unsold poultry, meat, fish, and produce to local food banks and other hunger-relief agencies.

Florida.

Florida

• Supermarket: Publix

• Headquarters: Lakeland, Florida

• Year founded: 1930

• Best independent grocery store: Bradley’s Country Store, Tallahassee

Employing more than 200,000 people, the Publix chain recorded retail sales in 2018 of $36.1 billion. It has 1,239 locations in all, as well as nine distribution centers (all but two in Florida) and 11 manufacturing facilities (in Florida and Georgia).

Georgia

• Supermarket: Publix

• Headquarters: Lakeland, Florida

• Year founded: 1930

• Best independent grocery store: Supermercado Chicago, Doraville

Publix has been recognized by Fortune as one of the country’s most admired companies every year since 1994, and has also won plaudits from that publication for being, among other things, one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” “Best Workplaces in Retail,” “Best Workplaces for Women,” “Best Workplaces for Diversity,” and “Best Workplaces for Millennials.”

Hawaii

• Supermarket: Costco

• Headquarters: Issaquah, Washington

• Year founded: 1983

• Best independent grocery store: Tamashiro Market, Honolulu

This massive warehouse-style retailer descends from a business-to-business store called Price Club, opened in San Diego, California, in 1976. The first Costco opened independently in Seattle in 1983, and ten years later the two enterprises merged. Today, there are more than 760 locations in eight countries, accounting for total annual sales of more than $64 billion.

Idaho

• Supermarket: Albertsons

• Headquarters: Boise, Idaho

• Year founded: 1939

• Best independent grocery store: Lark and Larder, Boise

It’s fitting that Albertsons is Idaho’s favorite supermarket, since the chain was founded in the state’s capital in 1939. According to the company website, in those days, “For just over 75 cents, customers [could] purchase three pounds of tomatoes, a pound of coffee and a one-pound roast.”

Illinois

• Supermarket: Jewel-Osco

• Headquarters: Itasca, Illinois

• Year founded: 1899

• Best independent grocery store: HarvesTime Foods, Chicago

Now one of the Albertsons Companies brands, Jewel grew out of a door-to-door tea and coffee wagon founded in 1899. This grew into Jewel Food Stores, and the company began acquiring other chains – including Osco Drugs in 1960. Known today as Jewel-Osco, the chain operates 188 stores in the greater Chicago area, as well as in Indiana and Iowa.

Indiana

• Supermarket: Kroger

• Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio

• Year founded: 1883

• Best independent grocery store: Wildwood Market, Indianapolis

Using his life savings – $372 – a merchant’s son named Barney Kroger opened a grocery store in downtown Cincinnati in 1883. According to the Kroger Company, which now runs thousands of supermarkets under numerous banners, as the business grew, Kroger’s became the first market to bake its own bread and the first to sell meat and groceries under the same roof.

Iowa

• Supermarket: Hy-Vee

• Headquarters: West Des Moines, Iowa

• Year founded: 1930

• Best independent grocery store: C Fresh Market, Des Moines

The small general store opened in Beaconsfield, Iowa, in 1930 by Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg (the “Hy” and “Vee” of the market’s name) has grown into a chain of more than 240 supermarkets and drugstores in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

Kansas

• Supermarket: Hy-Vee

• Headquarters: West Des Moines, Iowa

• Year founded: 1930

• Best independent grocery store: Thai Binh Supermarket, Wichita

Hy-Vee is an unusual chain in that it allows its store directors (managers) to select inventory and set prices. Directors and executive staff also meet regularly to hear presentations and vote on corporate policies – and since 1933, the chain has paid its managers on a profit-sharing basis.

Kentucky

• Supermarket: Kroger

• Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio

• Year founded: 1883

• Best independent grocery store: Frank’s Meat & Produce, Louisville

Kroger’s was not only the first chain to bake its own bread; founder Barney Kroger also made his own branded sauerkraut from excess cabbage he bought from local farmers. This was the beginning of what has become one of America’s largest food manufacturing businesses. Kroger now operates 40 facilities making everything from soda pop to peanut butter.

Louisiana.

Louisiana

• Supermarket: Rouses

• Headquarters: Thibodaux, Louisiana

• Year founded: 1960

• Best independent grocery store: Dorignac’s Food Center, Metairie

Rouses Markets – which started as a single store in Houma, Louisiana, just southwest of New Orleans, in 1960 – now numbers 63 units, mostly in its home state but with three outposts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and eight in Lower Alabama. In 2011, downtown New Orleans got its first major grocery when Rouses opened in the city’s Warehouse District.

Maine

• Supermarket: Hannaford Brothers Company

• Headquarters: Scarborough, Maine

• Year founded: 1902

• Best independent grocery store: Portland Food Co-op, Portland

Hannaford got its start as a produce cart on the Portland, Maine, waterfront in 1883. By 1920, it had grown into a major produce wholesaler, venturing into the retail grocery business for the first time in 1944. Through an expansion program and the acquisition of numerous smaller chains since then, Hannaford has grown to 167 stores. In 2009 its new supermarket in Augusta, Maine, was the first grocery store in America to be certified LEED Platinum for its environmental practices. Hannaford is now part of Ahold Delhaize.

Maryland

• Supermarket: Giant Food

• Headquarters: Landover, Maryland

• Year founded: 1936

• Best independent grocery store: Lancaster County Dutch Market, Germantown

Part of the international Ahold Delhaize company, Giant was founded in 1936 as the first supermarket in Washington, D.C. Today, the brand operates more than 150 stores in the capital and throughout Virginia and Maryland. It makes a point of its work with women’s, veterans’, and LGBTQ+ groups as part of its commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Massachusetts

• Supermarket: Market Basket

• Headquarters: Tewksbury, Massachusetts

• Year founded: 1917

• Best independent grocery store: Roslindale Fish Market, Roslindale

“Market Basket” has proved a popular name for supermarkets. There was a well-known chain of that name in Southern California in the mid-20th century, and there are currently 31 Market Basket supermarkets in southeastern Texas and Louisiana. Neither has anything to do with this Market Basket, though. This one grew out of a small food store opened in 1917 in Lowell, Massachusetts, by Greek immigrants Athanasios and Efrosini Demoulas. This grew into the DeMoulas Super Market chain, which branded one of its stores, in New Hampshire, as Market Basket in 1975. Today there are 80 Market Basket stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Michigan

• Supermarket: Meijer

• Headquarters: Grand Rapids, Michigan

• Year founded: 1934

• Best independent grocery store: Honey Bee La Colmena, Detroit

Not to be confused with the Kroger Company’s Fred Meyer market chain, Meijer has its origins in Greenville, Michigan, in 1934, when barber Hendrik Meijer and his 14-year-old son, Fred, started selling provisions to barbershop customers. There are more than 200 stores today, in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana.

Minnesota

• Supermarket: Hy-Vee

• Headquarters: West Des Moines

• Year founded: 1930

• Best independent grocery store: Tim & Tom’s Speedy Market, St. Paul

With stores in eight Midwestern states and annual sales of $10 billion, Iowa-based Hy-Vee is ranked among the top 25 supermarket chains in America and also one of the country’s top 50 private companies. The chain is employee-owned.

Mississippi

• Supermarket: Kroger

• Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio

• Year founded: 1883

• Best independent grocery store: Oriental Supermarket & Restaurant, Jackson

According to its corporate parent, the Kroger Company, Kroger’s became the first grocery chain to regularly monitor product quality, back in the 1930s, and in 1972 became the first retail grocery store to test an electronic scanner – installed at one of its units in suburban Cincinnati. The company’s merchandise and supplies reach Mississippi and other states through what is said to be one of the nation’s largest privately owned trucking fleets.

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Missouri

• Supermarket: Schnucks

• Headquarters: St. Louis, Missouri

• Year founded: 1939

• Best independent grocery store: McGonigles’s Market, Kansas City

From its beginnings in North St. Louis in 1939, the family-owned Schnucks has grown into a chain of almost 100 units in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Family patriarch Edwin Schnuck ran a wholesale meat business, and the growing market chain branded itself as the home of “Meat Masters.” It is still known for the quality of its meats today.

Montana.

Montana

• Supermarket: Albertsons

• Headquarters: Boise, Idaho

• Year founded: 1939

• Best independent grocery store: Good Food Store, Missoula

Albertsons, founded in 1939 by a former district manager for Safeway, is now the flagship of the Albertsons Companies. Its other banners – under which it operates some 2,269 stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia – include Vons, Shaw’s, Acme, Pavilions, and, yes, Safeway.

Nebraska

• Supermarket: Hy-Vee

• Headquarters: West Des Moines

• Year founded: 1930

• Best independent grocery store: Jacobo’s, Omaha

Like many other supermarket chains, Hy-Vee makes an effort to promote sustainability. This means everything from green store design and construction and energy and resource conservation to the sale of many natural, organic, and locally sourced products and adherence to a Responsible Choice Seafood program based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch initiative.

Nevada

• Supermarket: Smith’s Food and Drug

• Headquarters: Salt Lake City, Utah

• Year founded: 1911

• Best independent grocery store: Great Basin Community Food Co-op, Reno

Smith’s grew out of a dry goods grocery store opened in 1911 in Brigham City, just north of Ogden, by one Lorenzo Smith. This in turn grew into Smith and Son’s Market and then, in 1952, was refurbished and expanded to Smith’s Super Market. Today, Smith’s – which operates 132 stores not just in its Utah birthplace and Nevada, but also in New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.

New Hampshire

• Supermarket: Hannaford Brothers Company

• Headquarters: Scarborough, Maine

• Year founded: 1902

• Best independent grocery store: Janatos Market, Dover

Hannaford made the decision to expand into New Hampshire from its native Maine in 1946. It consolidated its holdings in the state with the 1990 purchase of the local Alexander’s chain and the 2004 acquisition of Victory Supermarkets of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The company chose Dover, New Hampshire, as the site of its first Hannaford To Go outlet, allowing customers to order groceries online and pick them up at the store, a program that continues to expand to other locations.

New Jersey

• Supermarket: ShopRite

• Headquarters: Keasbey, New Jersey

• Year founded: 1946

• Best independent grocery store: Piccolo’s Gastronomia Italiano, Ridgefield

The ShopRite origin story has it that the chain was born in 1946, after a group of independent Garden State grocers told a representative of Del Monte Foods that they were having difficulty getting reasonable wholesale prices for their merchandise. He suggested that they form a buyers’ cooperative, which they did, launching as Wakefern Foods. In 1951, the coop started using the name ShopRite. Today it is the largest corporate employer in New Jersey.

New Mexico

• Supermarket: Sprouts Farmers Market

• Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona

• Year founded: 2002

• Best independent grocery store: Mountain View Market Co+op, Las Cruces

The Arizona-based Sprouts chain, whose stated mission is to provide “natural” foods at affordable prices, now numbers more than 340 stores nationwide. The chain says that more than 90% of the 19,000-plus products they carry are natural or organic.

New York

• Supermarket: Trader Joe’s

• Headquarters: Monrovia, California

• Year founded: 1967

• Best independent grocery store: Rooster’s Market, White Plains

Since 1979, Trader Joe’s has been owned by a trust belonging to Germany’s Albrecht family, who also own the massive international Aldi supermarket chain, with more than 10,000 stores across Europe and the U.S. Trader Joe’s, meanwhile, is considerably smaller, with about 500 locations.

North Carolina

• Supermarket: Food Lion

• Headquarters: Salisbury, North Carolina

• Year founded: 1957

• Best independent grocery store: Tidal Creek Co-op, Wilmington

Under the umbrella of Belgium-based Ahold Delaize, Food Lion operates more than a thousand supermarkets in ten Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states. The chain was founded as Food Town in Salisbury, North Carolina, which remains its home base, in 1957. It was renamed Food Lion in 1983.

North Dakota

• Supermarket: Hornbacher’s

• Headquarters: Fargo, North Dakota

• Year founded: 1951

• Best independent grocery store: Bisman Community Food Co-op, Bismarck

Hornbacher’s was a subsidiary of the major wholesale grocery distribution network SuperValu, until it was sold about a year ago to Coborn’s Inc. It operated four Cash Wise stores in Fargo and neighboring Moorhead, just across the Minnesota border. Coborn’s continues to run the Hornbacher’s markets – all six of them in the same area, also in the Fargo/Moorhead area – under their original name.

Ohio.

Ohio

• Supermarket: Kroger

• Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio

• Year founded: 1883

• Best independent grocery store: DeVitis Italian Market, Akron

From its modest beginnings 136 years ago in Cincinnati (still its home base), Kroger has grown into the largest grocery chain in the world, not counting the big-box multi-product retailers Walmart and Costco – and is also the world’s third-largest retail company of any kind, after those two big-box firms, based on revenue.

Oklahoma

• Supermarket: Sam’s Club

• Headquarters: Bentonville, Arkansas

• Year founded: 1983

• Best independent grocery store: Edmond Meat House, Edmond

In its 36 years of existence, Sam’s Club has grown to encompass almost 600 locations in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico), and there are also stores in Mexico, Brazil, and China. Though not specifying exact numbers, the company says that it “serves millions of members.”

Oregon

• Supermarket: Fred Meyer

• Headquarters: Portland, Oregon

• Year founded: 1922

• Best independent grocery store: Cherry Sprout Produce Market, Portland

Fred Meyer, born Grubmeyer, was a German immigrant whose father ran a grocery store in Brooklyn in the late 19th century. Meyer moved to Oregon as a young man, and after some years of selling coffee to Oregon farm workers from a horse-drawn cart, he opened his first grocery store, in Portland, in 1922. Today there are more than 130 Fred Meyer markets in four states.

Pennsylvania

• Supermarket: ShopRite

• Headquarters: Keasbey, New Jersey

• Year founded: 1946

• Best independent grocery store: Groceria Merante, Pittsburgh

This retailers’ coop operates 30 stores in Pennsylvania, 14 of them in Philadelphia. Acme was once the dominant chain in the City of Brotherly Love, but ShopRite superseded it in 2011. ShopRite currently has almost 300 stores, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland.

Rhode Island

• Supermarket: Whole Foods Market

• Headquarters: Austin, Texas

• Year founded: 1980

• Best independent grocery store: Armando & Sons Meat Market, Providence

The quintessential millennials’ supermarket, Whole Foods – now famously owned by Amazon – is the world’s 58th-largest retailer and America’s fifth-largest supermarket company (not counting Walmart or Costco). Founded by four local business leaders in Austin, Texas, in 1980, it went on to acquire countless other natural foods chains, and now has almost 500 stores around the U.S.

South Carolina

• Supermarket: Publix

• Headquarters: Lakeland, Florida

• Year founded: 1930

• Best independent grocery store: Bert’s Market, Folly Beach

This Southern chain is actively involved in community issues, being ranked in 2017 at No. 1 in nationwide giving by March of Dimes and No. 2 among Top Companies for Social Responsibility by the Harris Poll.

South Dakota

• Supermarket: Hy-Vee

• Headquarters: West Des Moines

• Year founded: 1930

• Best independent grocery store: Pomegranate Market, Sioux Falls

Walmart dominates the Midwestern market area encompassing Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, and South Dakota – as it dominates the U.S. grocery business in general – but Hy-Vee is a strong competitor, following Walmart’s 32% market share in the region, with a 20.6% share of its own. The chain has 11 stores in South Dakota, seven of them in Sioux Falls.

Tennessee

• Supermarket: Kroger

• Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio

• Year founded: 1883

• Best independent grocery store: Three Rivers Market, Knoxville

While the trend in supermarkets seems to be towards smaller stores, Kroger’s newer units span typically 65,000 square feet or more. They stock as many as 50,000 items each. In addition, the almost 2,500 markets operating under various Kroger banners sell enough flowers to make the company the world’s largest florist.

Texas.

Texas

• Supermarket: H-E-B

• Headquarters: San Antonio, Texas

• Year founded: 1905

• Best independent grocery store: Jimmy’s Food Store, Dallas

The sixth-largest grocery chain in America (not counting Walmart and Costco), with annual sales of almost $20 billion, H-E-B descends from a food store opened in Kerrville, Texas, in 1905 by Florence Butt. Her son, Howard E. Butt, took over and expanded the enterprise in the 1920s, and his initials gave it its modern name. Still family-owned, it operates more than 350 stores in Texas and northeastern Mexico.

Utah

• Supermarket: Smith’s Food and Drug

• Headquarters: Salt Lake City, Utah

• Year founded: 1911

• Best independent grocery store: Kim Thành Supermarket, Salt Lake City

In the 1980s, under the third generation of Smith family ownership, the supermarket chain phased out its smaller conventional markets and superstores, replacing them with combination food and drug outlets – some as big as 84,000 square feet. In 1997, the chain merged with Oregon-based Fred Meyer, and in 1999 the combined enterprise was merged into the giant Kroger Company.

Vermont

• Supermarket: Shaw’s Supermarkets

• Headquarters: West Bridgewater, Massachusetts

• Year founded: 1860

• Best independent grocery store: City Market / Onion River Co-op, Burlington

One of the oldest continuously operating supermarket chains in the country, Shaw’s was born out of a small grocery store opened in Portland, Maine, by George Clinton Shaw in 1860. Another Maine resident, Maynard A. Davis, founded a chain called BPM in Massachusetts in 1919, and subsequently bought Shaw’s operation. The two companies were operated independently, growing and eventually, in 1979, merging. Shaw’s became part of the Albertson Companies in 2013, and there are 154 stores under the Shaw’s name today throughout New England.

Virginia

• Supermarket: Harris Teeter

• Headquarters: Matthews, North Carolina

• Year founded: 1960

• Best independent grocery store: Shields Market, Richmond

Harris Teeter grew out of two independently owned North Carolina grocery stores, W. T. Harris in Charlotte and Teeters Food Mart in Mooresville. The two merged in 1960 to form Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. Now a wholly owned subsidiary of the massive Kroger Company, Harris Teeter operates more than 230 stores and 14 fuel centers in seven states and Washington, D.C.

Washington

• Supermarket: Fred Meyer

• Headquarters: Portland, Oregon

• Year founded: 1922

• Best independent grocery store: Leschi Market, Seattle

The Fred Meyer hypermarkets, part of the Kroger Company, are huge, occupying an average of 150,000 square feet and carrying more than 225,000 products each – not just food and drink but also many other kinds of merchandise.

West Virginia

• Supermarket: Kroger

• Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio

• Year founded: 1883

• Best independent grocery store: Mountain People’s Co-op, Morgantown

The Kroger stores participate in their parent company’s Zero Hunger / Zero Waste program. Noting that while hunger is an issue for one in eight Americans, some 40% of the food produced in the U.S. gets thrown away. Through soliciting contributions, donating to food banks, and offering zero-waste recipes, among other initiatives, Kroger is committed “to ending hunger in our communities and eliminating waste across our company by 2025.”

Wisconsin

• Supermarket: Woodman’s Markets

• Headquarters: Janesville, Wisconsin

• Year founded: 1919

• Best independent grocery store: Riverwest Grocery and Café, Milwaukee

A produce stand – opened by John Daniel Woodman in Janesville, southeast of Madison, in 1919 – was the genesis of this popular Wisconsin chain. Unlike many supermarkets that started small, though, Woodman’s has stayed small. It now consists of only 17 stores, all in Wisconsin or Illinois, accounting for over $1 billion in annual sales. Though the number of units is small, the units themselves are not. Typical store size is about 240,000 square feet.

Wyoming.

Wyoming

• Supermarket: Albertsons

• Headquarters: Boise, Idaho

• Year founded: 1939

• Best independent grocery store: Grant Street Grocery and Market, Casper

This is the namesake chain of the Albertsons Companies, which operates numerous chains in 34 states and the nation’s capital, as well as the meal kit company Plated and almost 1,750 pharmacies. The Albertsons Companies Foundation is a major contributor to hunger relief, education, cancer research, and other social programs.

Kroger exits Lucky’s Market investment

  • Kroger has divested its stake in Lucky’s Market after three years, the Cincinnati-based grocer announced Wednesday. The move incurred a non-cash impairment charge of $238 million in the third quarter, with Kroger responsible for $131 million of that charge.
  • CEO Rodney McMullen said the decision followed a review of the company’s asset portfolio, noting Kroger no longer saw a pathway to creating significant value through investment in the specialty grocer. “It was really driven by narrowing our focus and the additional requirements to make it something that would be meaningful to Kroger,” he said during Wednesday’s earnings call.
  • For the third quarter, Kroger recorded net sales of $28 billion and saw gross margin rate decline 24 basis points over the year-ago period, to 22.1%. Both figures came in below Wall Street estimates, sending the company’s stock down around 4% in early trading. Kroger’s same-store sales grew 2.5% in Q3 while digital sales increased 21%.

As challenges mount, an insular industry has started recruiting technology management from other channels. Should they extend their efforts across the C-suite?

From underperforming products to middle management, Kroger is making cuts across its business in order to improve its performance in a fast-evolving industry. Now, Lucky’s Market has hit the chopping block.

Kroger announced its “strategic partnership” in the rising natural and organic chain in April 2016. Analysts saw the tie-up primarily as a way for Kroger to plant a flag in Florida — a state where it doesn’t operate any stores, but where population has exploded in recent years. With Publix commanding market share in the state, the investment sidestepped a costly real estate and marketing battle for Kroger.

But industry dynamics have shifted dramatically in the Sunshine State since then. Publix relaunched its small-format Greenwise stores, which now number five locations in the state. Specialty players like Sprouts Farmers Market, The Fresh Market and EarthFare have also moved into key markets. And Kroger itself is crashing the Florida party, announcing in March it’s building an automated fulfillment center in the town of Groveland in partnership with Ocado.

The divestment raises questions about Kroger’s Florida strategy, since Lucky’s Markets could presumably have served as distribution points for its fulfillment centers around cities like Tampa and Orlando. Kroger and Ocado broke ground on the Groveland customer fulfillment center in April, and it’s expected to be operational in 2021.

It also raises questions about Lucky’s performance. The grocer, which opened its first store in 2003 and has focused on a targeted nationwide expansion, had 17 stores at the time of Kroger’s investment and now operates 39 stores across 10 states. It currently competes with a growing array of small formats in markets like Orlando and Boulder, and traditional grocers, including Kroger, have continued to beef up their selection of natural, organic and local products.

“It’s hard to figure out that small-format model and make it work effectively,” Kroger chief financial officer Gary Millerchip said in response to a question about the Lucky’s decision.

Millerchip said Kroger will continue to learn about small-format store strategy through its Walgreens partnership, which has planted mini grocery stores inside nearly 50 Walgreens locations.

All told, Kroger plans to reduce costs by $1 billion this year and says it has reduced total net debt by $1.5 billion over the past four quarters.

In this latest quarter, Kroger’s same-store sales were the strongest since the chain launched its Restock strategy two years ago. Driving that result were strong results in produce, beverages and natural products. But net sales and profitability missed expectations, once again leaving investors questioning Kroger’s ability to compete with alternative formats as well as Walmart and Amazon.

Earlier this week, Kroger launched its first ghost kitchen in the Indianapolis area and two other markets, in partnership with ClusterTruck. McMullen said that deal, combined with its Home Chef meal kit line and ongoing efforts to improve its prepared foods selection, will make it an even stronger competitor for consumer meal dollars.

At its investors conference last month, officials expressed confidence in Kroger’s Restock strategy despite shaky results in the two years since it launched. The company also launched a new marketing campaign and tagline, “Fresh for Everyone,” which focuses on the company’s core grocery business.

Kroger expects same-store sales excluding fuel next year to be higher than 2.25% and adjusted earnings per share to fall in the range of $2.30 to $2.40.

“Restock Kroger is the right framework for our business,” McMullen said Wednesday.

Source: Grocery Dive

Chasing Amazon, Retailers Are in a Never-Ending Arms Race

Leading up to the holidays, Amazon is only getting more aggressive. It is expanding the items that it will ship free in a single day to Prime customers. According to a Morgan Stanley analysis, the typical order for one-day shipping is $8.32, and Amazon spends $10.59 to fulfill and ship it, meaning the company loses money on many sales. But Amazon may satisfy a more valuable goal: pressuring other retailers to deliver the same level of convenience to keep their customers.

Retail is a huge industry, and not every chain is being squeezed. Walmart and Target have evolved from big box stores into retailers that have succeeded at offering the same conveniences as Amazon like one-day delivery.

They have managed to thrive because they are helped by a wide range of products like food and household staples that customers have to buy on a regular basis. Their sheer size also allows them to pressure their suppliers to lower the cost of their goods, which frees up money to invest in e-commerce.

Still, Amazon seems to have most of the advantages. The company is building out its own fleet of airplanes, delivery trucks and couriers, while other retailers must contend with rising rates to ship through FedEx and UPS.

While retailers are coming through with a “very, very competitive digital shopping experience,” said Kimberly Greenberger, a retail analyst at Morgan Stanley, they are pouring money into their e-commerce operations at the same time their stores are bringing in fewer sales. Just when they seem caught up, Amazon raises the bar again.

“It just continues this vicious cycle that retailers find themselves in,” Ms. Greenberger said.

Macy’s is one retailer caught in this cycle for years. Founded in the 1850s, Macy’s spent generations expanding its reach, acquiring regional department store chains and building new stores in shopping malls.

Facing pressure from e-commerce and seeing less traffic in malls, Macy’s has spent the past few years dismantling that brick-and-mortar empire. It has sold off some of its most iconic stores to raise money to reinvest in its online business and modernize its remaining stores.

Amazon Is Planning to Open Cashierless Supermarkets Next Year

Amazon.com Inc. is preparing to open Amazon Go supermarkets and pop-up stores, an expansion of the company’s cashierless ambitions that includes the possibility of licensing the technology to other retailers.

The new store formats and licensing initiative could launch as soon as the first quarter of 2020, according to a person familiar with the project. Amazon is testing a supermarket equipped with Go technology in a 10,400-square-foot retail space in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The Go expansion is the e-commerce giant’s latest attempt to compete in the $900 billion U.S. grocery industry and perhaps other areas of retail, as well. The company already operates the Whole Foods Market chain and last week confirmed plans to launch a separate supermarket brand, starting with a location in the upscale Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. Those stores will have human cashiers. The previously unreported plan to expand Go revives Amazon’s original vision of creating full-size grocery stores without checkout lines.

Amazon opened the first Go convenience store at its Seattle headquarters almost two years ago and now operates 21 locations around the U.S.  It’s not clear how much money the company has lavished on the project, but some of the 1,000 or so people working on it were recently told their cumulative salaries have totaled more than $1 billion since the project got underway in 2012, the person said.

Customers have praised the Go stores as technical marvels. But retail analysts have wondered whether the low margins at a typical corner store chain would offset the costs of the Go technology, a complicated array of cameras and software that figures out what shoppers have grabbed and automatically charges them when they exit.

The Go team, which recently folded previously separate hardware groups and engineering support staff into a new entity called Physical Retail Technologies, has spent the past two years streamlining the technology. The efforts were aimed at making the existing Amazon Go stores more profitable and the guts of the system cheap enough to entice other retailers, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal project.

Amazon declined to comment.

People familiar with the program estimate that Amazon spent millions of dollars on the cameras, networking gear and servers in the first store alone. Newer versions of Go’s hardware feature fewer backroom servers and more efficient cameras, software and networking capabilities, substantially cutting the cost of setting up a new store, the person said.

Amazon had originally envisioned a larger Go supermarket before abandoning the concept in favor of simpler, smaller convenience stores. Most Go locations are close to 2,000 square feet and stock grab-and-go staples—cold drinks, packaged sandwiches, salads—and a smaller selection of such household items as cold medicine and phone chargers.

Now, having improved the technology, the company is getting closer to its original ambition. Amazon aims to support stores as large as 30,000 square feet, the size of a typical modern supermarket. At the Capitol Hill space in Seattle, engineers are stress-testing the camera arrays with large groups of people, the person said. (Amazon confirmed to technology news site GeekWire last month that the Go team was running tests at the site.)

The Go teams are also working on a sort of pop-up kiosk, a self-contained, miniature version of an Amazon Go, designed for faster setup than equipping leased retail space with all of Go’s hardware. Potential users include malls and sports stadiums, the person said.

The Information reported in September that Amazon Go’s operating losses had widened as the program expanded, to a projected $41 million to $58 million in 2020, and that store openings had fallen short of Amazon’s earlier projections. The technology news site also said the company was planning other store formats, including the Capitol Hill grocery location, and had considered launching more of a smaller Go model launched in 2018 inside an Amazon office building in Seattle.

CNBC, which reported in September that Amazon was exploring licensing the technology behind Go, said the company had held talks with airport concessions operator OTG’s CIBO Express brand, and Cineworld Group PLC’s Regal movie theater chain.

The person said both chains were prospective customers. OTG declined to comment. Regal didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Amazon hasn’t settled on a licensing business model. Options under consideration vary by industry and include charging an upfront fee for use of the system or a percentage of total sales of a Go-equipped store, the person said.

Amazon is famous for trying many things out—including separate supermarket chains with and without cashiers—so some analysts have viewed Amazon Go as an expensive retail experiment. Now, it’s clearer that Amazon is serious about mainstreaming the technology.

“The big question isn’t will the tech work—Amazon will make it work,” says Brendan Witcher, who tracks retail and consumer behavior at Forrester Research. “The question will be, ‘Will it work for a consumer, will they see this way of shopping as valuable?’”

Source: Bloomberg

Innovation in Grocery Retail: Lessons From Leaders

For most consumers, the process of grocery shopping has remained largely the same over the last few decades. There are exceptions of course, like the implementation of card readers and self-checkout kiosks aimed at improving the point of sale or the introduction of mobile phone loyalty apps, but widespread advancements have been scarce.

While other consumer-facing industries have been swept up in waves of technological innovation, on the whole retail grocery has remained rather traditional and utilitarian. That is, until recently.

As companies like Amazon get into the grocery business and meal kit services emerged to deliver exactly what customers need straight to their door, a new frontier of competition is taking shape.

These disruptions are propelling the industry into transformation, which will require grocers to get creative, to make adjustments, and to embrace change.

We’re already seeing this play out for physical retail through the introduction of new services like online ordering, with curbside pickup or local delivery. But there is so much more that can be done to make the in-store experience compelling and attractive, and to give customers a reason to come inside their local store.

Growth and innovation are often uncomfortable and can be tricky. So, it’s helpful to look at organizations that are leading the charge — in this case, remaking the grocery experience — and take notes.

LESSON 1: DON’T JUST INNOVATE – INNOVATE WITH A PURPOSE

Let’s start with Target. While not a traditional grocer, it is a major retailer with a growing grocery business. Target has taken a goal that many believed would be cost prohibitive —reducing its carbon footprint — and used it to improve both its bottom line and the quality of customers’ lives. In 2017, Target introduced its Chemical Policy; a strategy which now encompasses its entire value chain, from operations to the products it carries.

Target now seeks to increase ingredient transparency and reduce unwanted chemicals in the foods and products used by millions of customers. In addition, Target has invested in putting more sustainable products across its shelves.

The company has continued to debut eco-friendly programs and initiatives at unprecedented scale. Freshwater stewardship, reduction of plastic waste, in-store recycling, using Energy Star products to keep groceries cold, installing LED lights in stores, installing solar roofs and much more. Target is also working with its partners to reduce its environmental impact from “source to shelf.” Boldly, Target has accomplished all of this by designing and implementing its own plans, policies and products, rather than just joining existing initiatives.

As an increasing amount of attention is paid to global warming and the state of the environment, Target has differentiated itself as a true leader that cares not only about the people who walk through its doors, but the larger planet around them. It has innovated with a purpose far beyond the walls of its stores.

LESSON 2: PROPEL YOUR CUSTOMERS’ PRIORITIES

Raley’s has identified and acted on ways to provide customers with options to help them lead healthier lives, including initiatives like revamping its private label — Purely Made and Knob Hill Trading Co. brands — to use healthier ingredients. These foods are now free of 101+ preservatives and artificial ingredients.

Raley’s also developed an unacceptable ingredients list to help customers make informed decisions about what they choose to eat and created a Shelf Guide labeling program to give customers a better understanding of what products contain right at the moment of product selection.

And Raley’s didn’t stop at the shelf. The check lane represents the final food frontier before leaving the store. It’s easy to grab a candy bar, a bag of chips, or a sugary soda. The Raley’s team understood this all-too-familiar temptation and reduced it, introducing “better for you” snack options to the checklane assortment. Similarly, it reimagined the cereal aisle, calling out when products contain added sugar.

Raley’s also developed its Raley’s Food for Families program, which has provided over 40 million meals to local families in need through a partnership with Feeding America. Raley’s has raised more than $36 million for the program (and absorbs all of its administrative costs) so that customers know that when they give to Raley’s Food for Families, 100% goes to help members of their local community.

Raley’s recognized that consumers were prioritizing living healthier lives, and innovated their product assortment, approach to ingredients, and store footprint to support their consumers in that pursuit.

LESSON 3: NO WAITING REQUIRED

In a comparison between the consumer experiences of online versus in-store grocery shopping, one significant strike against the physical store is the ‘waiting’; whether it’s in long checkout queues or crowded aisles. While retailers have made moves to minimize the in-store wait with technologies designed to make the checkout process faster, a Wegmans’ service is one that stands out from the pack.

This year, Wegmans launched Wegmans SCAN, a free mobile app customers can use to scan and bag their groceries while they shop. The app tracks a running total for the order, so consumers know how much they’re spending, and automatically applies any available coupons or discounts. When customers finish their shopping, they simply walk up to a kiosk or register to pay.

Wegman’s has always prioritized incredible service, and it was in this vein that it decided to invest in mobile technology to help customers save even more time and shop the way they want. In this dynamic digital age, it’s innovations like Wegman’s SCAN that will lead physical retail into the future.

LESSON 4: LEVERAGE LIABILITIES LIKE ASSETS

Perhaps no company has been pushed to innovate more than Walmart. Locked in stiff competition with Amazon, Walmart is persistently looking for ways to prove that shopping in-store can be just as efficient, and potentially more rewarding, than purchasing from an online retailer.

Through its Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL), Walmart is testing ways to digitize brick-and-mortar stores to provide a more enjoyable shopping experience for shoppers, while controlling costs for operators. As such, it is conducting one of the first explorations of AI applications in physical stores.

With sensors, cameras, and processors placed throughout its pilot store, teams can easily monitor product inventory and availability, and the overall state of the store. For example, associates can be notified as the stock level for a particular product begins to dip or when spills occur so that they can react quickly to customer needs. As machines handle some of the more mundane tasks, associates are freed up to spend more of their time helping customers or creating eye-catching displays.

Walmart hopes to roll out its new technologies to an increasing number of stores, putting physical store locations at the source of their advancements — instead of viewing them as anchors or liabilities in the innovation process.

THE NEXT STAGE

As demonstrated by these initiatives, incredible innovation is now taking place in the retail industry. As the landscape continues to evolve, and online and offline worlds converge, physical grocery retailers will need to do more to attract and retain customers.

But that’s where it gets exciting — real opportunity is open for retailers to elevate what it means to go grocery shopping, to be a food consumer, and to be a responsible consumer. With a little creativity, and a little more investment, retail grocery will not only transform; it will thrive.

Source: Progressive Grocer

Ocado wages a grocery war against Amazon, Walmart and Alibaba

His patter is honed by a career battling doubters (an analyst once put him down with the quip: “Ocado begins with an ‘oʼ, ends with an ‘oʼ, and is worth zero”). Sceptics still harbour deep reservations. Though Ocado has more than tripled in value in the past two years to £7.5bn ($9.6bn), its share price has plunged recently. But his insurgency shows how the battle to dominate online groceries remains wide open. Ocado has as good a chance as anyone.

Grocery is a sadomasochistic business. Sellers can count on stable revenues but have little margin for error on sourcing, price and waste. Shoppers suffer from a retail version of Stockholm syndrome. They are lured by grocers with the promise of savings, only to be fleeced. Shops make them do the work of picking the produce and bagging it. They set traps in the aisles—in the form of strategically placed celebrity magazines or freshly baked doughnuts—to slow shoppers down. Yet customers continue to return for more, despite having ever more options to order online and have groceries delivered to their doorstep. In China and America, online grocery shopping is a miserly 3.8% and 1.6% of the total, respectively.

Mr Steiner, a former Goldman Sachs bond trader, has pulled off the rare feat of making home-delivery both tolerable for shoppers and profitable for sellers. He knows how to squeeze the last farthing out of a tomato and has turned the sorting of groceries in warehouses into a science—specifically, clever robotics— which has kept costs competitive. Partly thanks to Ocado, Britain trails only South Korea and Japan in its embrace of online grocers.

Earlier this year Mr Steiner persuaded Marks & Spencer, a British retailer, to pay £750m for a half of Ocadoʼs domestic online-grocery business. The money is helping develop his firmʼs newer, more lucrative international venture, which licenses the know-how to build modular high-tech warehouses that can be scaled up as needed. The biggest deal, struck in 2018, has been with Kroger. The American supermarket chain aims to order 20 Ocado customer fulfilment centres (CFCs, or, as Kroger calls them, sheds) by 2021, far more than the four that Ocado has so far erected in Britain (the newest burned down this year). Despite their recent slide Ocadoʼs shares still trade like a software firmʼs, not a supermarketʼs.

Lawmakers Pushing To Regulate Grocery Delivery, Saying Consumers Are At Risk

As more Californians have their groceries and alcohol delivered, lawmakers are making a push to regulate how the food is stored, including training drivers on proper handling and temperatures.

Assembly Bill 1360 passed the full Assembly in May by a 44-25 vote (11 Assemblymembers did not vote.) It then passed several Senate Committees before being ordered to the inactive file in mid-September.

If it passes, food delivery platforms would be required to train drivers about maintaining foods at required temperatures, along with requirements relating to food spoilage and adulteration. Companies would also need to maintain liability insurance.

The bill specifically applies to app-based grocery delivery services, including Instacart and Shipt, which allow customers to select grocery items on an app and then, for a fee, a personal shopper goes to pick up the items. It does not apply to grocery chains offering their own home delivery, nor to food delivery services such as GrubHub or DoorDash.

Opponents to the bill raised concerns that the provisions don’t extend to restaurant deliveries.

The bill’s author, Asm. Phil Ting, wrote, “the rapid growth of online food and alcohol delivery services has the potential to expose customers to unsafe and unregulated delivery practices. This bill establishes basic safety standards for grocery delivery services, consistent with safety requirements imposed on brick and mortar grocery stores. A growing number of Californians order groceries online and have them delivered directly to their home. Food retail establishments are subject to strict regulations regarding the handling of food to protect consumer and employee health and safety. Delivery companies expose consumer goods to the same risks as may arise for the food retailer, yet they are not subject to regulatory oversight. This bill is to ensure that consumers who choose to use a delivery service receive uncontaminated, safe food and that platform workers receive the appropriate training and certification to perform their job duties.”

If the bill becomes law, those found violating the regulations would face a fine.

Source: Good Day Sacramento

Most Popular Grocery Store In Every State

There are over 36,000 grocery stores in the United States. While some are smaller, independent stores or specialty outlets that focus on groceries from a certain area, Americans tend to buy the bulk of their food at large regional or national chains. Regional chains like Hy-Vee, Albertsons, or Publix may be a staple in some parts of the country, but they are completely unknown in others.

To determine the most popular grocery store in every state, 24/7 Wall St. ranked grocery stores using a combination of data from business directory website Yelp and Google Trends. From Yelp, we determined the five grocery stores with the most reviews in each state and compared their Google search frequency from Nov. 12, 2018 to Nov. 12, 2019 using Google Trends. The grocery store with the highest search frequency on Google Trends in a given state was listed as the most popular grocery store in that state.

Shoppers want to go to a grocery store they trust, a store that offers high-quality products like meat, produce, and more at a fair price. Grocery stores can easily lose business if they stock substandard products. These can ruin a dinner or, worse, sicken consumers who eat contaminated products. These are some of the biggest food recalls in U.S. history.

Of course, grocery stores usually do provide quality food for their customers, but perhaps their shoppers simply don’t know how to identify produce at its peak. From avocados to zucchini, each fruit and vegetable has telltale signs that shoppers should look for. This is how to pick the best produce.

Click here to see the most popular grocery store in every state. 

Source: 24/7 Wall St.

Ralphs’ pharmacists reject contract offer, authorize a strike

Pharmacists at Ralphs’ supermarket locations across Southern California have rejected the company’s contract offer and authorized its leaders to call a strike.

A tentative agreement between Ralphs, Albertsons and Vons pharmacists represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers was reached Sept. 17 and was pending ratification by some 600 pharmacists at the three chains.

Last week, the website for UFCW Local 1167 stated pharmacists at Albertsons and Vons voted to accept the contract but about 200 members at Ralphs did not.

This means the six-month cycle of often-contentious negotiations — seemingly over in September after a deal was reached between the chains and some 60,000 Southern California grocery workers — will continue.

The strike authorization vote does not mean that a walkout is imminent, but it does give union leaders the authority to call a strike if settlement talks do not progress.

“We’re reaching out to the company to go back into negotiations,” said Joe Duffle, president of Local 1167, which represents Inland Empire workers. “We’re confident we will get a meeting, and we’ll try to take some pharmacists to the table so the store can hear what they have to say.”

Union members typically follow their leaders’ endorsements and vote to ratify tentative agreements. Pharmacists at Albertsons’ and Vons were firmly in favor of the contract, Duffle said.

The contract will raise hourly pay to $67 by the end of the three-year deal and includes provisions for improved health care and pension benefits.

Ralphs spokesman John Votava said via email the company was disappointed that the fully-recommended agreement, an identical agreement passed by Vons and Albertsons pharmacists, was not ratified.

“The agreement provided wage increases, reliable and affordable healthcare coverage and pension stability,” Votava said. “We look forward to the union getting the recommended agreement ratified.”

Duffle said the profession’s dynamics have changed in the last 10 years because a number of for-profit colleges now offer pharmaceutical training, which means there is a glut of people who work in this field.

“Now guys are feeling the pressure of not having bargaining power,” Duffle said. “And these are people who do great work and have great value.”

Source: Press Enterprise

Companies pitching their values better not forget to give workers this as well

Chipotle doesn’t serve burritos, it “provides food with integrity.” Facebook doesn’t sell advertisements, it “bring[s] the world closer together.” WeWork doesn’t sublease office spaces, it “elevates the world’s consciousness” (and it might not do that for much longer).

Why do these for-profit companies insist on selling themselves as such do-gooders? In part, they want to market themselves to potential consumers. But perhaps even more so, they want to motivate their workers.

In the latest CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness Survey, 69% of workers said it’s “very important” to them to work for a company with clearly stated values, and 35% said “feeling that your work is meaningful” was the most important factor in their overall happiness at work. Humans crave meaningful relationships, and businesses have learned to capitalize on that emotion. By encouraging employees to see their work as fulfilling a higher purpose, they can try to retain workers by paying them in good vibes rather than dollars.

But trying to rally employees into a feeling of higher purpose at work misses something more fundamental: At root, people want to be compensated well for the work they do. Businesses that create a puffed-up company ethos but skimp on their most basic responsibility of paying their workforce well will end up with unhappy employees no matter how grandiose their company mission statement.

Defining happiness at work

In these latest survey results, workers ranked “being paid well” a distant second (21%) to “finding that your work is meaningful” in terms of what factor most determines their overall happiness at work. Those top two choices are followed by “having opportunities to advance” and “having control over how you do your work” (tied at 16% each), and finally “having colleagues who value your work” (11%).

Each of these five factors is one component that makes up the CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness Index; for simplicity, we refer to them as meaning, pay, opportunity, autonomy and recognition.

Source: CNBC