FMI Honors Wakefern Food Corp. President with Sidney R. Rabb Award

The Food Industry Association, known as FMI, recognized Wakefern President Joe Sheridan for his track record of leadership and success by presenting him with the Sidney R. Rabb Award for Statesmanship, a 2023 Executive Leadership Award, during FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference Awards luncheon on January 21.

“Few demonstrate a stronger love for company and career than Joe Sheridan, president of Wakefern Food Corp.,” FMI said in announcing the awards. “Much like Sidney R. Rabb, who served as chairman of his family’s grocery business for more than four decades, Sheridan has remained a proud and trailblazing employee of Wakefern for 47 years.”

Sheridan was one of seven outstanding food industry executives to receive Leadership Awards during FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference in Orlando, Florida.

“The recipients of the 2023 Executive Leadership Awards constitute a masterclass in food industry leadership,” said FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin. “Their time-tested skills and cultivated expertise promoted food industry growth and gracefully elevated the industry’s profile, even when faced with the toughest economic environment in 40 years.”

FMI noted in its awards announcement that Joe played an instrumental role over the decades in Wakefern’s continued growth and success. The cooperative today has more than 365 stores under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners.

“It is such an honor to receive this prestigious award recognizing the legacy of Sidney R. Rabb – who served as chairman of his family’s grocery business for more than 40 years,” Joe said in accepting the award from FMI. “Wakefern – at its heart – is also a family business and it’s one that has been my second family for 47 years.”

Joe said he was grateful to work alongside Wakefern Members, Store Associates, and all those in the corporate offices and warehouses.

He also thanked FMI for supporting members like Wakefern. He noted that the Food Industry Association is part of Wakefern’s larger family. “It’s an organization that works to make our industry better – and helps all of us better serve our customers and communities,” he said.

Joe began his career at Wakefern in 1976 when he was hired as a warehouse selector. He went on to assume numerous leadership roles including Vice President of Direct Store Delivery, Vice President of HBC, Non-Foods & Pharmacy, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Executive Vice President and finally President of the retailer-owned cooperative. He has worked during his Wakefern career in logistics, finance, procurement and management in grocery, direct-store delivery, bakery, health and beauty, non-foods and pharmacy divisions.

A staunch advocate of technology and innovation, he helped launch one of the grocery industry’s earliest online shopping platforms in 2002. He also launched significant investments in food retail AI to optimize product sourcing, inventory tracking and waste reduction. Additionally, under Joe’s leadership, the cooperative has expanded its banner brands portfolio, launched award-winning private label lines, and brought on new members.

In its awards release, FMI noted that Joe also helped Wakefern expand its culture of giving and volunteerism  – a commitment close to his heart – by supporting myriad charities and organizations, especially those on the front lines fighting hunger and food insecurity.

He serves on the FMI Board of Directors and is past Chairman. In addition, Joe participates in multiple leadership roles on FMI board committees: Executive Committee, Industry Relations, Public Affairs, and Chairman of the Nominating Committee. In 2020, he helped usher in a new era of governance at the association when FMI repositioned itself as the Food Industry Association.

FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference is a three-day event and premier forum for high impact industry dialogue. This year’s event was held at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.

Pictured left: Steve Smith, president and CEO, K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. and FMI Awards Chairman and member of the FMI Board of Directors, and right, Randy Edeker, executive chairman of the FMI Board of Directors and executive director, Hy-Vee, Inc., congratulate Joe Sheridan, center.