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The NGA Foundation student case study competition brings students from across the country to the NGA Show where they present solutions to an issue currently impacting the independent grocery industry. The program allows them to interact with an independent grocer and ground their education with real-life experience. Participants move through three rounds of judging from food industry professionals and the winners and their schools receive a cash prize!
Each year, an independent retailer is selected as the subject of the competition, providing a budget and relevant details to aid in students' presentation.
Any four-year institution, university, academic institution, or affiliate organization which currently provides teaching or research focused on the food industry may compile a team for competition. School teams may have no more than four undergraduate students present the solution at the competition. Other students may assist with the research or development phases.
Schools will submit their intent to compete in January prior to the competition. Schools must also submit a current list of program faculty and board members. This will be used to determine potential conflict of interest when filling the judge rosters.
NGAF considers funding, room availability, and staff capacity when admitting school teams into the competition schedule.
Independent grocers have a rich history of innovation, community involvement and customer-centric services. In particular, independent grocers have a distinct advantage in providing enhanced selections of produce, deli items, meat, seafood and local products. Through a strong emphasis on the quality of their fresh departments, smaller grocers have managed to stay competitive even while operating at a technological and pricing disadvantage compared to large chain, big-box and discount retailers. While fresh has been the traditional differentiator for independents, will this be enough to maintain their edge into the future? Or should independents explore other investments – such as technology, AI, retail media, private label brands, alternative store formats or other turnkey solutions designed for smaller operators – to make them more competitive amid an increasingly crowded marketplace?
See below topics from previous Student Case Study Competitions.