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MNB continues our newest feature: "The BIG IDEA Beat" Contest, in which the thought-leaders who make up the MNB community have the opportunity to share their perspectives on critical issues facing the industry and win a signed copy of Agentry Agenda: Selling Food in a Frictionless Marketplace, by Glen Terbeek.

Each week, we offer both a Premise and a Challenge to MNB users. The Premise will seek to state either a fact of life for the food industry as it currently exists, or a trend that seems to be developing as retailers and manufacturers seek a better way of conducting business.

Your Challenge will be to respond by identifying the best ideas and examples that typify where the industry ought to be heading.

Entries should be emailed to

"The BIG IDEA Beat" contest will be featured each Monday, and repeated Tuesday and Wednesday…answers must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday. Winners will be picked and featured on MNB by Friday. Some weeks there may be single winner…other weeks, there could be multiple winners. Selection of the winners will be solely at the discretion of Glen Terbeek and MNB Content Guy Kevin Coupe.


The supermarket industry grew up through leveraging central buying and distribution to a "standard" store in a Greenfield marketplace. However, the marketplace dynamics have changed, through the saturation of like stores and products, exasperated by a slow growth marketplace (population growth of less than 1 percent a year) that make this model less effective. Accordingly, significant false economics have developed using the current business processes, often estimated at 15% of the manufacturers' sales or 7.5% of retailers’ sales. And new "alternative format" competitors have taken market share by exploiting these discontinuities. It therefore can be concluded that the current organizations, measurements, and business processes are out of touch with the marketplace realities of today and tomorrow.


Focus on the organization issue. What are your ideas for the organizational design of the future supermarket chain that will enable it to compete successfully in the very competitive marketplace of today? (Hint, you might want to review the responses of the first two Big Idea Beat Challenges.)
KC's View: