GROCERY: Industry doing well in spite of increased competition

Times Board of Economists - Report from Dave Wilkinson, president Strack & Van Til
2014-05-04T00:00:00Z 2014-05-04T07:52:07Z GROCERY: Industry doing well in spite of increased competitionJoseph S. Pete, (219) 933-3316

The grocery industry is prospering, even though the greater Chicago market is crowded with competition, Strack & Van Til president Dave Wilkinson said. 

Expanding chains like Aldi and Wal-Mart appeal to cost-conscious consumers who are carefully watching how much they spend, Wilkinson said. Mariano's Fresh Market only opened in Chicago in 2010, and already has 34 stores. Fresh Thyme, which is like Trader Joe's but with more fresh fare, is opening in Mount Prospect.

Specialty grocers that focus more on fresh and organic foods have thrived within the city and the northern and western suburbs, Wilkinson said. And Strack & Van Til is adapting to the changing tastes of more health-conscious consumers.

The Highland-based chain has been remodeling its Munster location to make room for more fresh offerings, including organic produce and sushi. 

"People are buying more fresh products, and want healthier meal options to take home," he said.

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