Publix, Trader Joe’s near top of supermarket survey; Wal-Mart near bottom

Publix supermarket ranked No. 2 on Consumer Reports’ latest survey of 68 major grocery chains in the nation.

Publix and Trader Joe’s rank high in Consumer Reports’ new ranking of 68 major grocery stores. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, came in nearly dead last.

The consumer journal scored chains based on freshness, cleanliness, employee courtesy, and quality of produce, meat, baked and store-prepared goods.

Nearly 63,000 responses were collected, representing more than 111,000 shopping visits between March 2013 and July 2014 for the 2014 Supermarket Survey. The top score a chain could earn was 100.

Publix ranked No. 2, Trader Joe’s came in No. 3. Wal-mart Supercenter approached the bottom at No. 67. Waldbaum’s, a subsidiary of A&P serving the New York City area, came in last. A&P ranked just ahead of Wal-Mart.

At the No. 1 spot was Wegmans, an upstate New York-based food chain that operates mainly in the northeastern U.S. It was the only chain to pick up across-the-board top rankings in all categories with a score of 90.

Consumer Reports said people used to consider low prices, checkout speed and variety when considering which store to shop. Now, freshness is a key factor.

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The average shopper makes about 83 grocery shopping trips a year, spending about $5,400, and more and more they want fresh and local, the report said.

“He or she is demanding a wider-than-ever choice of healthy, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, meat and fish — as well as more organics and local produce,” Consumer Reports said. “The clamor for ‘fresh’ also extends to freshly prepared meals that can be taken home.”

The article continued, “For many Americans, food is the new medicine. We believe we can eat our way to good health. As a result, consumers have become increasingly savvy label readers, wary of preservatives, chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients.”

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.