Carlos Castro, the owner of the Hispanic grocery store Todos Supermarket, joined a group of major retail chain leaders at the White House for a roundtable discussion with President Joe Biden on America’s supply chain challenges.
Castro, a member of the National Grocers Association (NGA) Board of Directors, represented the more than 21,000 independent grocers across the country.
President Biden, along with Director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, and Cedric Richmond, Director of Office of Public Engagement, hosted the roundtable Monday with a diverse group of company leaders to discuss their outlook for the strong holiday shopping season, and the steps companies large and small have taken to meet consumer demands.
“The business leaders we gathered here today represent a broad swath of American shopping: brick and mortar and online stores, national and local grocery chains, our nation’s largest retailer, and makers and sellers of toys, electronics, and health supplies,” the President said.
The meeting also highlighted steps companies have taken to overcome supply chain bottlenecks and the progress they are seeing at the Ports of LA and Long Beach due to the work of the Biden-Harris Administration.
The business leaders noted the strength of their supply chains, especially for seasonal items, and highlighted ways they had planned ahead, diversified their supplier base, sourced new products, and partnered closely with suppliers to be ready to meet the seasonal demand.
In the discussion, Castro emphasized the resilience and flexibility of the independent grocer and the competitive challenges that independents face while procuring high-demand products in short supply.
“I was honored to represent Todos and America’s independent community grocers during today’s White House roundtable discussion on supply chain challenges,” Castro said. “Although independents are resilient and our customers can rely on us during the holidays, independent grocers, unfortunately, continue to face competitive disadvantages when sourcing products in short supply. We appreciate the President’s leadership in helping to address the major issues facing retailers and consumers.”
Todos Supermarket, a 4-store Hispanic grocery chain from Woodbridge, Virginia, was founded in 1990.
The White House roundtable was attended by Corie Barry, CEO of Best Buy; KS Choi, CEO of Samsung; Carlos Castro, CEO of Todos Supermarket; Meg Ham, President of Food Lion; Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Mattel; Karen Lynch, President and CEO of CVS Health; Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart; Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger; David Rawlinson, President and CEO of Qurate Retail Group; Josh Silverman, CEO of Etsy.
Regarding Castro’s remarks at the roundtable at the White House, NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara said, “Independent supermarkets, such as Todos Supermarket, serve as the cornerstone of their communities in both the products and services they provide, as well as the jobs and local economic benefits they create.”
Ferrara noted that the pandemic and sustained supply chain challenges “have underscored the important role independent grocers play in America’s communities and the innovative ways in which they navigate difficult times to serve their customers better.”
Participants noted that the backlog at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has decreased, and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon highlighted a 51% improvement in his company’s throughput at the ports due to the work of the Biden-Harris Port Envoy.
In addition to discussing the holiday shopping season, the President also noted the progress made at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which have seen an over 40% drop in the number of long dwelling containers, an important sign that velocity and fluidity are coming back.
For his part, Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger, thanked the Biden Administration for its efforts to alleviate ongoing supply chain concerns. “We remain focused on providing a full, fresh, and friendly experience for our customers by attracting and retaining workers with Kroger’s opportunity culture, providing affordable Our Brands products, partnering with suppliers to plan for increased demand, and increasing our safety stock on more than 70 of our most critical categories,” said McMullen.
Black Friday sales were up 30% compared to last year, and we are in the midst of a retail boom, with retail sales up double digits every month in 2021 compared to the previous year. In October, retail sales were up 15 percent compared to last year.