At an all-time high, the Hispanic population in Trenton, New Jersey, now accounts for 36.4 percent of the total population. Entrepreneurs Wendy and Nestor Rodriguez have contributed to this dynamic growth as longtime residents of Southern New Jersey. With the merchandising, marketing, and financing support of ASG, the Rodriguez’s opened a modern supermarket, Compare Fresh, in the presence of community influencers, civic leaders, extended family and clientele. The ribbon-cutting celebrating the store’s debut took place on June 24, 2021. Compare Fresh provides a refreshing approach to a Hispanic food-retail format. The store is fully equipped with a hot bar and catering service, ethnic and traditional vegetable varieties, and tropical and exotic fruits. In addition, an array of Latin American products is available to meet the needs and preferences of Caribbean Latinos and Central and South Americans. The store is a flagship serving the various Hispanic consumers now living in Trenton. Pictured at the ribbon-cutting from left to right in the first row are: Wanda Rodriguez; Manny Hernandez, HVAC Home Improvement; Wendy and Nestor Rodriguez, Compare Fresh store owners; Reed Gusciora, Mayor of Trenton; Zulema Wiscovitch, ASG co-CEO and co-president; Ibis Naranjo, ASG sales counselor; Pastor; and Michelle Mendoza, ASG vice president, Marketing and Customer Experience. Pictured from left to right in the back row are: Marino Posso, Advertise It CEO; Francisco Nieves, ASG vice president, Sales; Eddie Bracco, DMS president; Jonathan D’Onofrio, ASG vice president, Merchandising; and Sean Guerrero, ASG field pricing coordinator.

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Fruit Tree Family Grocer Wins NGA Foundation’s First Diversity in Leadership Scholarship

May 10, 2021

PepsiCo endowment pays executive development program tuition for Fruit Tree Farm’s Charles Choi

Washington, D.C. – A second-generation Korean American whose work is driving the growth of his family’s independent supermarket business has been selected to receive the first PepsiCo Diversity in Leadership Endowment scholarship from the National Grocers Association Foundation (NGAF).

Charles Choi, managing director of Long Island, N.Y.-based Fruit Tree Farm, affiliated with the Associated Supermarket Group (ASG), was selected to attend the foundation’s annual Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP) at Cornell University, scheduled for June 6-10. The $5,000 scholarship will cover the cost of program registration ($2,850), with the remaining funds available as a travel stipend.

“Charles is a modern entrepreneur who understands the art and science behind merchandising as well as today’s consumer preferences,” said Michelle Mendoza, ASG VP of marketing and customer experience, who nominated Choi for the scholarship. “As the supermarket industry is transforming and the American consumer palate has an appreciation for diversity in food, Charles is at the forefront of this transformation.”

The son of Korean immigrants, Choi is following in his family’s footsteps. During the last three years, his responsibilities have increased, and he has applied his strong business acumen and approachableness to the growth of Fruit Tree’s supermarkets.

“We are honored to support Charles’ professional development efforts through this year’s ELDP event, which will provide him with additional tools to drive his family’s business even further,” said Maggie White, NGA Foundation Director.

NGAF partnered with PepsiCo to create the Leadership Endowment following the completion of the 2020 ELDP program, which due to the pandemic was successfully executed virtually. This endowment will award one scholarship each year to a deserving woman or minority ELDP candidate that covers the cost of attending the program.

See full NGA press release HERE

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As New York City faces increasing changes to everyday life due to the coronavirus pandemic, Associated Supermarket Group has added another store, Extra Jumbo, to the retail landscape. Located in the heart of Washington Heights, the modern family-size and stock-up style supermarket celebrated its ribbon-cutting on April 1, 2021. Owner, José Grullón offers consumers in the area instant savings on items that enrich local food and culture preferences. Extra Jumbo brings a much-needed fresh approach to food-retail and caters to the taste preferences of the neighborhood in a vibrant, well-designed store. Pictured at the ribbon-cutting from left in the first row are: Melanie Solano, ASG competitive price associate; Lisa Ingargiola, ASG retail technology manager; Zulema Wiscovitch, ASG co-CEO and co-president; José Grullón, Extra Jumbo store owner; Ken Scher, ASG senior vice president, Business Development; Sandra Hernández, ASG sales counselor; and Michelle Mendoza, ASG vice president, Marketing and Customer Experience. Pictured from left in the back row are: Sean Guerrero, ASG field pricing coordinator; Pete Silvestri, DMS produce supervisor; Dennis Stickley, ASG senior vice president, Credit; John Agostinelli, DMS executive vice president; Eddie Bracco, DMS president; and Jordan Rivera, ASG ISE manager.

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ASG Growth Thrived in 2020, A Win for Independents

Rising above the unprecedented challenges of 2020, Associated Supermarket Group, a retail solutions and finance company based in New York, led independent supermarket growth by adding 34 new accounts to its $1.6 billion retail network. In recent years, as regional grocery chains have filed for bankruptcy or shut down, ASG saw a shift in commitment from independents to persevere, strengthening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, to serve the public.

In 2020, ASG expanded to North Jersey, where it welcomed two new stores to the network: The Highlands Market by Shopwell in Hewitt, and Buddy’s Marketplace in Manalapan. In New York City, ASG gained 23 new supermarkets, including expansion ventures for Lincoln Market, Antillana, and Associated Fresh supermarkets, which are urban family operators. These families and the 23 new supermarkets are a lifeline to serve the needs of New York City neighborhoods at a time when grocery stores are among the few businesses allowed to keep their doors open. Fortunately, these stores serve communities that have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19’s devastating social and economic impact.

Out east on Long Island, ASG ensured that its customers, including two newcomers, met their aggressive growth plans to serve the uptick in at-home-consumption rates of suburban consumers who increasingly work and learn remotely at home during the pandemic. ASG welcomed the ninth Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace at 1170 Deer Park Ave in North Babylon and the ninth Giunta’s Meat Farm at 399 Medford Ave in Patchogue to the portfolio of non-bannered stores it powers. In addition, ASG picked up five secondary accounts.

Coupled with store growth during 2020, ASG addressed the digital divide issue for independent supermarkets. To ensure that independents have an e-commerce presence as more consumers cite time savings and safety precaution during the pandemic as two reasons for shifting to online grocery shopping, ASG established a partnership with Instacart to bridge the e-commerce gap for the 230-plus stores it serves. In addition to Instacart, ASG will continue to offer an in-house e-commerce solution with the Rosie app.

During 2021, ASG, which currently has a presence in seven states, will focus its business development resources on expansion and continue to strengthen the retail network of stores it serves. ASG is committed to increase entrepreneurship by providing the services, scale and expertise that allow independent supermarkets to thrive on their independence.

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AUA Private Equity Consummates Sale of Associated Supermarket Group to Senior Management

Port Washington, NY – January 12, 2021 – AUA Private Equity Partners, LLC (“AUA Private Equity”) is pleased to announce that it has consummated the sale of Associated Supermarket Group, LLC (“ASG”), to ASG’s senior management, led by Joe Garcia (CEO) and Zulema Wiscovitch (EVP & CAO) with financing from Freedom 3 Capital and other investors. ASG provides retail solutions to approximately 230 independently owned grocery stores in the New York Tri-State Area and other cities along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, providing distribution, marketing, merchandising, promotional services, and store financing. Under the new structure, Joe and Zulema will share responsibilities of co-President and co-CEO.

Over its hold, AUA Private Equity was instrumental in evolving ASG from a family-owned business to an institutional company providing supermarket retail solutions and services to independent grocery operators. Under AUA Private Equity’s ownership, ASG acquired four prominent New York supermarket banners, expanded its store footprint into contiguous geographies, built institutional systems and processes, and recruited a leading management team.

Andy Unanue, Managing Partner of AUA Private Equity and Chairman of ASG, stated: “I am very proud of how AUA Private Equity strengthened the value proposition of ASG during our ownership and delivered long-lasting benefits for independent grocers that operate stores in multicultural communities.”

Steven Flyer, Partner of AUA Private Equity, commented: “Our investment in ASG reflects AUA Private Equity’s ongoing strategy of investing in family-owned companies where we can institutionalize a privately-held business, expand the company’s service offerings, and accelerate growth. Our sale to the company’s management team is a very good outcome for our investors, our management team, and ASG’s customers, and positions ASG as a leading provider of retail solutions and distribution to independent retailers.”

Joe Garcia, co-President & co-CEO of ASG, added: “I have enjoyed our partnership with AUA and I am excited to begin the next chapter for ASG under management ownership. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers, expand our footprint to other areas, and offer a tremendous value that positions the supermarkets we service ahead of their competition.”

Zulema Wiscovitch, co-President & co-CEO of ASG stated, “We are thrilled to embark on this journey as we envision ASG’s future of continued growth with an emphasis on retail excellence, an outstanding value proposition and innovation for the benefit of our customers, and our mutual success in the marketplace. We have a phenomenal team of people who are laser-focused on accomplishing our goals and growth objectives.”

The sale transaction was led by Partner Steven Flyer, Vice President Jack Lin, and Associate Greg Conway. McDermott Will & Emery provided legal advice and RSM US LLP provided financial and accounting advice to AUA Private Equity. Ancoris Capital Partners acted as financial advisor to ASG management and the buying group.

About AUA Private Equity Partners, LLC

AUA Private Equity Partners is an operationally focused, lower middle-market investment firm providing strategic capital to companies in the consumer products and services sectors with a particular focus on family-owned businesses or companies benefiting from the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population. AUA Private Equity makes equity investments of $20 to $75 million in companies that generate in excess of $5 million in EBITDA. For more information on AUA Private Equity, please visit

About Associated Supermarket Group, LLC

ASG provides retail solutions to approximately 230 independently owned grocery stores in the New York Tri-State Area and other cities along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. The Company licenses its “Associated”, “Compare”, “Met Foods”, “Pioneer”, “MetFresh” and “Metropolitan Citymarkets” proprietary trade names to independent grocery store owners and provides services in the form of grocery distribution, marketing, merchandising, promotional services, advertising, and store financing. For more information on Associated Supermarket Group, LLC, please visit

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ASG welcomes the ninth Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace to its retail network

Photo Credit: David Conn.

Pictured at the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of Uncle Giuseppe’s in North Babylon are (left to right): Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly, Town of Babylon Councilman Terence McSweeny, Babylon I.D.A. board member Linda Scordino, President of the North Babylon Chamber of Commerce President Garrett Simulcik, Uncle Giuseppe’s President & Chairman of the Board Philip DelPrete, Town of Babylon Supervisor Richard Schaffer (centered – cutting the ribbon), Uncle Giuseppe’s Chief Executive Officer Carl DelPrete, Town of Babylon Deputy Supervisor Antonio A. Martinez, New York State Senator Mario Mettera, and New York State Assemblyman Keith P. Brown.

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ASG’s “We Are The Community” wins the 2020 American Graphic Design Awards for Best Motion and Illustration

ASG’s Social Media ad, We Are the Community wins the 2020 GDUSA Award for Best Motion and Illustration. The 2020 GDUSA Design Annual showcases the expansive ways in which graphic design shapes business and society.

Last spring, the pandemic took the NY metro area by surprise and all non-essential establishments were ordered to close. As at-home consumption rose at alarming rates, so did consumer panic buying. ASG recognized the crisis and modified its banner social media strategy to seek public cooperation to shop safely while ensuring both customers and store personnel remained safe.

On March 19th, 2020, a series of short motion videos on the Associated, Met Foods, Pioneer and Compare Foods social channels made sure their respective customers knew that stores were operating and adjusting practices as the pandemic evolved. This award-winning ad generated 4.3M impressions on Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, the campaign received 1.1M post engagements (including sharing) and 66K reactions (Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry) and has now earned national recognition.  

Click HERE to see and hear full ad.

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ASG works together with industry and community partners to help alleviate food insecurity

During the spring of 2020, in less than 60 days the coronavirus left 2 million New York City residents facing food insecurity. ASG is closing the year with a food donation equivalent to 571,300 meals to help feed New Yorkers in an unprecedented year, a year where we witnessed the hardships happening in our own backyards.

Feeding America reported food banks in its network distributed nearly 57% more food in the third quarter of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. Because ASG store owners are involved in their communities and through the direct relationships we have with civic leaders, food banks, media, and our wholesaler C&S, together we helped alleviate some of the food insecurity in 2020.

2020’s food donation recipients were City Harvest, Food Bank of NYC, Queensborough Community College, Rap4Bronx, and community centers in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Brookhaven.

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ASG Statement on Met Foods and Store Protocols

We have zero tolerance for racial injustice, violence, bigotry and hate and were very disturbed by what happened on June 7th.

We have discussed our position on the incident with the store owner and he has committed to taking measures, including the implementation of store protocols to ensure this does not happen again. We plan to monitor the implementation and compliance of these protocols.

ASG provides independent supermarket owners – many of whom are immigrants or first-generation families pursuing their American Dream – with retail solutions and services to help them succeed.

As part of this mission and striving to be catalysts for positive change, we will provide the stores we serve with practical training to address security and public safety issues. This training will educate store owners on how to establish procedures and strengthen existing security plans, implement a crisis management plan, and train employees on proper de-escalation protocols to help manage future shoplifting situations and other security concerns. Our objective is to prevent the mishandling of situations like these from happening in the future.

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ASG Statement on Community and Justice

We stand with the community against racial injustice, violence, and hate. We support peaceful demonstrations but condemn hostility and crime.

The independent, family-owned, and operated supermarkets we serve, are part of the fabric of the communities where they operate. During this global pandemic, these supermarkets and their essential workers are on the front lines, servicing the vital food supply needs of the community.

Diversity and inclusion matter to us inside and outside of our headquarters.  We will continue to invest in and support the diverse small businesses that operate under our trade names, Associated, Associated Fresh, Compare Foods, Met Food, Met Fresh, Pioneer, and other independent names.

ASG’s mission is to provide independent supermarket owners with retail solutions and services to succeed without compromising the freedom to run their stores, as many of them are immigrants or first-generation families pursuing their American Dream.  We continue to build community economic growth by investing in multicultural and economically diverse retail opportunities. The ASG team and its leadership mirror the multicultural world where we do business. We believe diversity drives opportunity and we are committed to stand united for justice with the communities we serve.

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