Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG), Kansas City, Kan., announced its successful unification with Affiliated Foods Midwest (AFM), Norfolk, Neb. With its first shipments to stores out of its newest divisions in Norfolk and Kenosha, Wis., the combined cooperative will operate singularly as AWG with over 1,000 independent members.

This combination of retailers dubs AWG the largest wholesale grocery cooperative in the United States supplying groceries in 35 states. Coupled with the expanded retailer member base and geographic footprint, the combination enables AWG to expand its offerings to retail members with the addition of a retail accounting subsidiary and a digital marketing subsidiary.

“From the moment Barry Queen (AWG’s chairman of the board) and I started our discussions with AFM’s president and CEO Martin Arter and his chairman John Clarke, we knew our companies were a great fit,” says David Smith, AWG’s president and CEO.

This new region of AWG will be led by new senior executive Martin Arter, the former president and CEO of AFM.

This combination also allows AWG to better serve retailers in northern states such as North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

“The expansion of our collective distribution areas into several new adjoining states, where there remains a large number of independent grocers but few wholesale options, is already paying dividends, as retailers in those states are already making inquiries and asking how soon we can onboard new customers,” adds Smith. “With the current enthusiasm we are witnessing, our new Great Lakes division in Kenosha may top $1 billion in annual sales sooner than we initially anticipated.”

The combination also allows AWG to expand its footprint west to service independent grocers in Wyoming and Colorado.

“We are so thankful for the support of our membership, our dedicated employees and our fantastic vendor partners,” adds Smith. “It takes all three of these constituencies working together in unison to become and remain successful. We have that going for us, and believe that we will accomplish great things as we are truly stronger together. ”