Supermarket News recently posted the Top 75 largest food retailers and wholesalers in the U.S. and Canada. Together, they accounted for $893.08 billion in sales in 2008, up 7.6% over the previous year. The sales volume includes revenues from both food and nonfood merchandise in North America for the companies' current or recently ended fiscal years.

The volume increase reflects both the high levels of food inflation – estimated at about 5%-6% for the year – combined with traffic growth at the chains on the list, the article says. The 10 largest companies on the list accounted for about 68.7% of the total volume on the list, featuring combined revenues of $613.2 billion – up 7.5%, or $42.9 billion, over year-ago levels.

Meanwhile, the top 20 companies on this year's list had revenues of $732.9 billion, up about 7.6% over year-ago volume levels. Those 20 largest operators accounted for 82.1% of the total volume among the Top 75, almost exactly the same as a year ago. Go to supermarketnews.com/profiles/top75/2009-top-75/ to view the entire list.

The top five firms include:
Wal-Mart Stores – Headquartered in Bentonville, AR, Wal-Mart operates 2,601 supercenters in the U.S. and 39 in Canada, plus 146 Neighborhood Markets and four Marketside stores in the U.S., accounting for approximately $211 billion (82%) of the company’s volume in North America; and 599 Sam’s Clubs in the U.S. and six in Canada, accounting for approximately $47.5 billion (18%) of the North America total. Wal-Mart’s annual sales in 2008 are estimated at $405 billion, encompassing $258.5 billion, or 64%, from supercenters, clubs, Neighborhood Markets and Marketside stores; $44.5 billion, or 11%, from 1,164 discount stores (899 in the U.S. and 265 in Canada); and approximately $102 billion, or 25%, from 2,970 stores outside North America.

Kroger Co. – Headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, Kroger’s store base includes 2,477 supermarkets and multi-department stores, 778 convenience stores, 750 supermarket fuel centers, and 392 fine jewelry stores. Sales from convenience stores account for approximately 5% of total volume, and sales from fine jewelry stores account for less than 1% of total volume. Total sales are $77.2 billion.

Costco Wholesale Corp. – Headquartered in Issaquah, WA, 544 corporate stores generate annual revenues of $72.5 billion, including sales of $71 billion and membership fees of $1.5 billion. Groceries, encompassing food, sundries and fresh products, plus pharmacy and gasoline, account for 63% of the sales total, or $44.7 billion. Of the company’s total sales, 78% comes from 398 warehouses in the U.S. and Puerto Rico; 15% from 75 warehouses in Canada; and 7% from 39 warehouses in the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. (Volume from 31 Costco warehouses in Mexico isn’t included in the company’s reported sales.)

Supervalu – Headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, 2,491 corporate stores generate combined sales of $45 billion. Sales from 1,596 corporate stores – encompassing 1,279 conventional supermarkets and 317 Save-A-Lots – account for 75% of total revenues; the company also licenses 863 Save-A-Lots and 32 Cub Foods stores. Supervalu’s supply side division accounts for 25% of total revenues.

Safeway – Headquartered in Pleasanton, CA, 1,743 corporate stores generate sales of $44.8 billion.