The gluten-free section is part of Wegmans Nature's Marketplace category.

Findings from a new large-scale consumer satisfaction study of more than 10,000 consumers conducted by US market researcher Market Force Information (Market Force) revealed that Wegmans is America’s favourite grocery retailer, followed by Publix Super Markets and Trader Joe’s, the first time in four years Trader Joe’s did not rank first.

After not earning enough votes to make the list in 2015, Wegmans garnered double the votes in 2016 to score 76%, enough to secure the top spot. Publix ranked second for the fourth year in a row with a score of 75%, followed by Trader Joe’s, which slipped five percentage points to 73%. Hy-Vee and ALDI rounded out the top five.

Market Force said that Wegmans, founded in 1916, is known for its fresh produce, reasonable prices and massive stores. The Rochester, New York-based chain is expanding modestly, but steadily and winning over more devoted customers along the way and has a focus on employee training to ensure customers have the best experience.

In specific operational and service categories, Publix and Wegmans led in most areas, including the ability to find desired items, cleanliness and specialty department service.

ALDI was the price leader, followed by WinCo and Costco. Trader Joe’s, known for its friendly service, ranked first for cashier courtesy. ShopRite, Meijer and Kroger offer the best sales and promotions, while Hy-Vee ranked in the top five in many categories.

Organic and local foods taking root

Shoppers are increasing seeking local and organic foods while grocery shopping. The study showed that 49% of consumers prefer to purchase organic items when given a choice. Produce, meat and dairy were the most frequently purchased organic products, followed by packaged canned foods, packaged dry foods and frozen foods.

Less popular were organic baby products, paper products and personal hygiene products. Purchases of organic options for all but two categories increased one to three percentage points from 2015, indicating a growing importance on the availability of organic selections. A majority (58%) of shoppers also indicated that locally sourced meat, produce and dairy products are important.