Food Industry Finest Luncheon


BIRMINGHAM, AL— The Alabama Grocers Association held their annual Food Industry Finest Luncheon on Wednesday, October 27 honoring their industry award winners. 

Speakers included Governor Kay Ivey

Governor Kay Ivey was keynote speaker at the Alabama Grocers Association Event at The Club Wednesday October 27, 2021 in Birmingham, Ala. The event is held annually to gather grocery retailer, wholesalers and vendors from around the state to hear about the state of the grocery industry, honor our retailer, wholesaler and vendor of the year and receive a legislative update. (Governor’s Office/ Hal Yeager)

And President and CEO of FMS Solutions Robert Graybill.

The food retail industry in Alabama provides over 70,000 jobs with over $2.2 billion in annual wages paid.  Grocers pay over $1.2 billion in state taxes and have a total economic impact on the state’s economy of over $12 billion. 

More than 150 people attended the event at The Club to discuss the work of the Alabama Grocers Association in 2021 and those in the food, beverage and grocery profession here in Alabama. The Alabama Grocers Association honored the following individuals with their year awards.

The Retailer of the Year Award was presented to Bill Davis, Owner and Vice President of A&R Super Markets.

“It was an honor to represent our family and our company in being recognized as Retailer of the Year by our peers in the Alabama Grocers Association,” said Davis. “We appreciate everything AGA does for all of us retailers and our industry as a whole.”

To view the Retailer of the Year Video Presentation, please click here.

The Wholesaler of the Year Award was given to Kirk Clark, Director of Merchandising for Mitchell Grocery Corporation.

“What an absolute honor for Mitchell Grocery to be recognized as Wholesaler of the Year in the State of Alabama,” said Clark. “Our entire team has a unique passion and determination to serve the independent retailer. The retailers depend on us to provide the goods and services needed as they serve and make a difference in their local communities.”

To view the Wholesaler of the Year video presentation, please click here.

The Vendor of the Year award recipient was Bo Taylor, Vice President of Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED’s Central Region. 

“This award from the Alabama Grocers Association is one of the personal and professional highlights of my career,” said Taylor. “However, this is truly a recognition of the hard work and dedication of our entire Coca-Cola UNITED team and affirms that we exist and excel for the benefit of our associates, consumers, customers and our communities.”

To view the Vendor of the Year video presentation, please click here.

The Alabama Grocers Association has been honoring professionals making an impact in the grocery industry with these awards since 1996.

“Each of these fine individuals exemplify leadership and excellence in Alabama’s grocery industry.  They are committed to growing and improving the grocery industry in Alabama,” said Ellie Taylor, President Alabama Grocers Association.  “We are thankful for the opportunity to honor them and their commitment today.”

AGEF Fall Clay Shoot Press Release

BIRMINGHAM, AL – October 15, 2021—The Alabama Grocers Education Foundation held their Annual Fall Clay Shoot on Thursday, October 14, 2021 at Selwood Farms in Alpine, Alabama. The event raised funds for the Alabama Grocers Education Foundation to provide scholarships to employees and children of employees of Alabama Grocers Association companies. To date, AGEF has awarded over 1.3 million dollars because of the tremendous support of our members at golf tournaments such as this one.

The winners of the clay shoot were as follows:  First Place Team: EdLinco/Rudolph Foods Team. 

Second Place Team: Bunzl Distribution Team. 

Third Place Team: Post Consumer Foods Team. 

The Alabama Grocers Education Foundation Clay Shoot would not be as successful without the many companies that sponsored this event and contributed their goods. The Presenting Sponsor for this event was Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc. Additional sponsors of the AGEF 2021 Clay Shoot included Alabama Power Company; Associated Grocers of the South; Associated Wholesale Grocers; Buffalo Rock / Pepsi; Bunzl Distribution; Byars | Wright Insurance; Cobbs Allen; EdLinco/Rudolph Foods; Federated Insurance; Keurig Dr. Pepper; Merrill Lynch; Mitchell Grocery Corporation; Piggly Wiggly Alabama Dist.; Post Consumer Brands; Red Diamond Coffee & Tea; Retail Data Solutions Mid-South; Sell Ethics; Smucker’s; Sunset Farm Foods and United Johnson Brothers (3 Teams). 

We appreciate the companies that donated their products for the goody bags and beverage cart. Companies included: Bevco Beverages; Bud’s Best Cookies; Buffalo Rock Company; Campbell Snacks; Chattanooga Bakery/Acosta Sales; Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc.; Figi Water; Frito-Lay; Flowers Baking Company; Golden Eagle Syrup; Golden Flake/UTZ Snacks; Merrill Lynch; Milo’s Tea; Perfect Hydration; Post Consumer Foods; Southern Recipe/EdLinco; Stratus Group and United Johnson Brothers. 

A special thanks to AGA Vice Chairman Bob Crawford of United Johnson Brothers and AGEF Trustee Member Bubba Lindley of EdLinco for running a new shooter seminar and the AGEF Trustee Member Mr. Mike Hanson of Milo’s Tea for helping with the beverages and running the beverage cart.

Mike Hanson, Milo’s Tea & AGEF Board of Trustee Member with Jessica Brown, Event Coordinator;
Ellie Taylor, President and Katie Hunt, Membership Communications of AGA

Please mark your calendars to join us next year at Selwood Farms on October 13, 2022.

Buy Alabama’s Best Retailer Luncheon

The 2020 Buy Alabama’s Best Retail Campaign Launch Awards luncheon was recently held at The Club. The Alabama Grocers Association, the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, and the Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association were all in attendance.

Presentations were made by Assistant Commissioner Bob Plaster, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Mrs. Ellie Taylor, President, Alabama Grocers Association; Mr. Johnny Collins, Dean Foods and Chairman, Alabama Grocers Association; Mr. Mike Hanson, Milo’s Tea and President, Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association; and Ms. Laura Lester, Executive Director, Alabama Food Bank Association.  Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association members, as well as retailers and wholesalers throughout the state of Alabama, were also in attendance.

Assistant Commissioner Bob Plaster, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries; Mr. Mike Hanson, President, Alabama Food Manufactures and Producers Association; and Mr. Johnny Collins Chairman, Alabama Grocers Association, presented Display Contest Award Certificates to Gardendale Foodland for First Place Dry and First Place Wet, Food Giant Hueytown for Honorable Mention, Food Giant Leeds for Honorable Mention, and Piggly Wiggly Homewood for Honorable Mention all for the 2019 year.  These displays featured participating Alabama food products to help consumers identify which products were headquartered, produced or manufactured in the state of Alabama.

The Alabama Grocers Association was also proud to announce a new partnership with the Alabama Food Bank Association.  According to Feeding America, the food insecurity rate in Alabama is over 16.5%.  Children and seniors are at the greatest risk of food insecurity.  One in six children may not know where they will get their next meal.  When children experience food insecurity, they often experience developmental delays and impairments in areas like language and motor skills, have more social and behavioral problems and often have to repeat grades in school.  For Alabama seniors, 19.3% are marginally food insecure, 12.8% are food insecure and 5.0% are very low food insecure.  Alabama ranks sixth in senior hunger.  

“We are really excited for changes in the new year, especially our new partnership with the Alabama Food Bank Association,” said Mrs. Ellie Taylor, President, Alabama Grocers Association.  “As a food organization, we meet people’s most basic needs by feeding them, so raising funds for food banks across our state could not be more appropriate.”

Laura Lester, Executive Director, Alabama Food Bank Association, gave the group an overview of the importance of food banks across the state of Alabama.  She extended her thanks for the support of these important community organizations made possible through impactful partnerships throughout the state of Alabama.  

“We could not be more thankful for this opportunity to partner with the Alabama Grocers Association,” said Laura Lester, Executive Director of the Alabama Food Bank Association.  “Alabama has a high need food insecurity rate, but this partnership will give us the opportunity to directly impact those in need and change food insecurity throughout our state.”

The purpose of the Buy Alabama’s Best Campaign is to identify Alabama food products, raise awareness of those products, and increase sales for those products. Alabama food product sales have a $2 billion impact on Alabama’s economy, and along with the food service industries, employ one out of every four Alabamians.

The food retail industry in Alabama provides over 70,000 jobs with over $2.2 billion in annual wages paid.  Grocers pay over $1.2 billion in state taxes and have a total economic impact on the state’s economy of over $12 billion.

2019 Convention Press Release

Alabama Grocers Association Holds Annual Convention

The Alabama Grocers Association recently held their 29th Annual Convention at the Sandestin Beach Resort in Destin, Florida.  The Association brought members from all aspects of the grocery industry together to promote the growth and success of the food industry throughout the state of Alabama.The convention kicked off with the Larry D. Eddleman, Sr. Golf Classic at the Baytowne Golf Club.  First Place golf winners included Gene Phillips, Truno, Josh Ray, Shop Hero, and Brad Conner, Birmingham Beverage (pictured below);

Second Place winners included Greg Rains, Alabama Crown, Andrew Virciglio, Piggly Wiggly Birmingham, Lance Smith, Mark Twain Brewing, and Ronnie Ellis, Southern Champion; and Third Place winners included Don Richardson, Birmingham Coca-Cola United, Greg Waldrop, Gateway Foods, Kyle Butler and Dana Bowen, Frito-Lay.  The Closest to the Pin was Greg Rains, Alabama Crown and the Longest Drive was Brad Conner, Birmingham Beverage. The evening followed with a silent auction and casino party.

A silent auction and raffle were held Monday night which raised more than $28,000 for the Alabama Grocers Education Foundation. This year the Alabama Grocers Education Foundation awarded 61 scholarships valued at more than $57,750, and to date has awarded more than 1.28 million dollars in total scholarships.

The business forum was held the following day and included Keynote Speaker, Shawna Suckow who discussed how to create and keep customers in a culture saturated with marketing messages.  Commissioner Rick Pate and Ellie Watson, Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, spoke on the new agriculture program – “Sweet Grown Alabama” – which will be rolling out in stores soon.  A Local Product Retailer Panel moderated by Dr. Glenn Richey, Auburn University, outlined how retailers large and small source and promote local products.  Featured on the local panel were Mr. Mike Tanner, Director of Merchandising, Publix Super Markets, Jacksonville Division; Mr. Austin Virciglio, Vice President, Piggly Wiggly Birmingham; Mr. Rob Renfroe, Vice President, Renfroe’s Market; and Mr. Glen Wilkins, Director, Public Affairs, Wal-Mart (pictured below).  A 2019 Legislative Overview and 2020 outlook was given by Mr. Patrick McWhorter, AGA Legislative Consultant and Mr. Paul DeMarco, Parsons, Lee and Juliano, P.C.

Tuesday afternoon also included an exhibit hall with more than 70 booths with vendors from all aspects of the grocery industry. Featured in the exhibit hall was our Alabama State Best Bagger Contest sponsored and run by Bunzl Distribution.  Miss Jessica Stevens, Publix Super Markets, Inc. will represent AGA in the National Grocers Association Best Bagger Contest on February 24, 2020 in San Diego, California. Bagger winner pictured below.

On Tuesday night, the Chairman’s Banquet was held with renowned comedian Henry Cho as the celebrity entertainment.

Several Awards were given including the Spirit of Alabama Award, presented to Mr. Reed Ingram, Alabama House of Representatives, District 75 for his work this legislative session in the passing of our Sunday Sales bill that will allow any wet county or municipality by resolution or ordinance to permit and regulate the sale of alcohol on Sundays.

New Officers and Directors were installed. Mr. Frank D’Amico, III, BTC Wholesale, was given the Chairman’s Plaque of Appreciation for his dedicated work during his two-year term as Chairman and the gavel was transferred to Mr. Johnny Collins, Organic Valley Fresh, who will serve as Chairman until 2021.

About the Alabama Grocers Association: The Alabama Grocers Association is a state trade association representing the grocery retail industry since 1990. With more than 135 retail members operating over 850 stores statewide, as well as over 225 manufacturers, brokers, wholesalers and other members, the AGA is the voice of the industry in the state of Alabama. The food retail industry in Alabama provides over 70,000 jobs with over $2.2 billion in annual wages paid. Grocers pay over $1.2 billion in state taxes and have a total economic impact on the state’s economy of over $12 billion. For more information, go to