The California Grocers Association is speaking with a louder voice these days following its merger in May with the California Independent Grocers Association.

CGA has traditionally voiced the viewpoints of the larger operators in the state, while CIGA spoke for smaller-store operators.

“But the merger completes our portfolio and allows us to speak for the kind of retailers many legislators really care about — the mom-and-pop businesses in the communities they represent, the ones they see and care about,” Ron Fong, CGA president, told SN.

“When these legislators look at a proposed bill, they ask themselves how it will affect the small grocers in their communities. In fact, there’s one state senator who’s been in the legislature for 20 years, and whenever we talk to him about why some proposed bill is challenging for our industry, he always asks how it will affect the single-store operator in the area he represents — and now we can speak for that operator and others like him — and we can speak more effectively with a single voice rather than in two voices with two sets of lobbyists.”

Before the merger, CGA membership included approximately 300 companies (about 80% independents and 20% chains) operating an estimated 6,000 retail stores, plus 200 supplier companies. The merger with CIGA added 126 privately-owned retailers operating several hundred stores, along with approximately 50 supplier companies.

Still missing from the retailers CGA represents are convenience stores, mass merchandisers, dollar stores and chain drug-stores, “though those are areas we are pursuing,” Fong said.

Reviewing CGA’s agenda over the past few months, Fong cited the following examples: