The list, published in Fortune’s March 16 issue, is based on voting in late 2008 by company executives worldwide. It includes 363 companies in all, arranged by industry.
Companies were scored in nine categories. In addition to its No. 1 ranking among food wholesalers, Sysco ranked in the top 10 among all companies in the following categories:
• Use of Corporate Assets (#3)
• Management Quality (#4)
• Product Quality (#4)
• Long-Term Investment (#8)
• Financial Soundness (#9)
In a note on Sysco’s financial soundness, Fortune noted “Oscillating commodity prices and cutbacks in dining hurt the company last year, but Sysco still earned profits of over $238 million and offers a 4 percent dividend. The company is renowned for its supply-chain efficiencies and has a return-on-equity ratio of 33 percent, compared to an industry standard of 19 percent.”
Other scoring categories included Innovation, People Management, Sustainability and Global Competitiveness.
In addition to Sysco, which had a composite score of 7.98, and CHS, which scored 7.34, other companies named as most admired in the Wholesalers: Food and Grocery category are United Natural Foods (5.98) and Unified Grocers (5.69). Companies named as “contenders” include Core-Mark Holdings (5.23), Nash Finch (5.19) and Spartan Stores (5.12). The last contender listed is Performance Food Group (PFG), the country’s third-largest foodservice distributor. PFG had placed third in the category behind Sysco in both 2007 and 2008, with scores of 7.32 and 7.13, respectively, but this year dropped to eighth with a score of 4.99.