BOULDER, COLO. — Wegmans and Costco were chosen as the No. 1 grocery retailers in a recent consumer survey conducted by Market Force Information Inc. Wegmans was first in the supermarket category while Costco placed number one in the mass-grocer category. Both also scored well when it came to providing quality meat, in particular.

“Market Force did do an analysis by store of how consumers ranked the top 10 qualities they care about most,” a company spokesperson told “One of those is quality meat. Wegmans outscored all other supermarkets for that category by a wide margin.

“Ditto for Costco in the mass-grocer category,” she added. “Costco outscored the nearest store index ranking by more than double for quality meats. Wegmans outscored the nearest supermarket chain in quality meats by almost three times.”

The overall findings came from a survey Market Force conducted last month among its network of 300,000 independent mystery shoppers and merchandisers — consumers across the country dubbed “The Force.” Approximately 6,000 consumers responded to a series of questions designed to shed light on which grocers are preferred in the leading grocery categories and why.

When consumers were asked to select their single favorite from a list of the country’s 118 top grocery supermarkets, Kroger received the highest number of votes from consumers throughout the U.S. This initially placed Kroger atop the list with 11% of the votes. Publix and Safeway followed with 8% and 7%, respectively.

Although Kroger has almost 2,500 stores in North America, Wegmans — with just 75 stores — has less than one-thirtieth that number. Yet, Wegmans scored 3% of the total votes for favorite supermarket. Since consumers are likely to vote for retailers most familiar to them, Market Force determined which store chain would win out when the number of store locations was factored in. This analysis moved Wegmans to the top ranking position with a 9% score, followed by ShopRite with a 5% score, and Albertsons and Whole Foods each with 4%.

Answers to follow-on questions asking consumers about the characteristics they appreciated most about these leading supermarkets reinforced Wegmans’ top score. The top winner with the hearts and minds of consumers was Wegmans.

Market Force found similar results when looking at mass-grocers, such as Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target and Costco. Although Walmart garnered the highest number of total votes, with fully 42% of the total, its store count must also be factored in. When re-indexed based on the number of stores, Costco took the lead.

Costco’s lead was substantiated based on the consumer ranking of mass-grocers against the attributes they care about most. Costco scored highest on 12 of 16 attributes, and tied for first for the remaining four.

The survey was conducted in January 2010 among the Market Force network of more than 300,000 consumers. The pool of 6,000 respondents ranged in age from 19-72 and reflected a broad spectrum of income levels. Approximately half had incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Approximately 75% were women, the primary household consumer purchasers. Half had children at home.