With its membership collectively representing thousands of locations and billions in sales volume, Topco Associates LLC is a company that has made its mark in the retail food industry. Privately held and giving business solutions to its member-owners, Topco offers a variety of services to help them gain a competitive advantage.
Topco provides packaging, quality assurance and procurement, among other solutions exclusively to member-owners. The member-owners include food service firms, food wholesalers and supermarket retailers. Earnings of the company are re-distributed back to member-owners in relation to participation levels.
Topco began as a cooperative in September of 1944, established to supply members with paper goods and dairy products. The goal was to enable them to operate despite shortages caused by the war. The name was Food Cooperatives Inc. and the products were sold using Elna and Food Club labels. A few members of this cooperative were also part of Top Frost Foods, another cooperative.
Top Frost supplied frozen foods and had a notable quality program whose specifications were higher than the leading national labels/brands at the time. The two cooperatives combined in December 1950 and formed Topco Associates, as it is known today. While some say Topco means “top companies,” other say it’s the ‘top’ in Top Frost with ‘co’ coming from ‘cooperatives’ in Food Cooperatives.
Benefits to Members
The specific advantages include:
- Aggregation – enabling member-owners to compete effectively against top retailers
- Networking – sharing best practices
- Leadership – influencing the industry standards
- Efficiency – eliminating redundant services
- Pricing – low prices due to aggregation of knowledge and volumes
Some of the member-owners include Wegmans, Weis, Roundys, Raleys, Pueblo, Piggly Wiggly, Marsh, Food City, Giant Eagle, Price Chopper, Coborn’s, Bashas, and Amber Pharmacy, among others.