LFPINC (Lowest Food Prices In North Carolina) was an acronym used successfully by Ralph W. Ketner, co-founder and president of Food Town/Lion, to symbolize his cutting cost theory—lowering prices on all items to sell more products and therefore make a larger profit. By the 1970s, the LFPINC concept revolutionized the supermarket industry.
The LFPINC concept was first used in 1968. Believing that customers considered prices a priority when choosing a grocery store and that it was better to “make five fast pennies than one slow nickel,” Ralph W. Ketner spent three days calculating how to implement the cutting-cost theory and eventually slashed 3,000 prices. Overall, Food Town’s prices, except for meat products (shoppers in this case equated low price with low quality), were six-to-ten-percent lower than any competitor; on some products, Food Town even lost money.
But the risk turned out to be a success, for the cutting-cost theory made the small-town operation into the United States’ fastest growing supermarket chain. At the end of its first year of implementation, customers remarked that Food Town had the “lowest food prices in North Carolina,” and Ketner happily reported that sales had increased approximately eighty-percent. Ketner remembered conversations with satisfied customers and eventually used the acronym LFPINC as an advertisement to reinforce his low-cost concept; the company, for instance, had thousands of bumper stickers printed so that customers could help promote the benefits of the cutting-cost theory. In large part because of LFPINC, Food Town’s stock split five-to-one by 1970, and the number of Food Town (and Food Lion) stores grew roughly twenty-five percent each year until Ketner retired in 1991.
Ralph Ketner (compiled by Jason Lesley and Mark Wineka), Five Fast Pennies: “We’d Rather Make Five Fast Pennies Than One Slow Nickel" (Salisbury, 1994) and Mark Wineka and Jason Lesley, Lion’s Share: How Three Small-Town Grocers Created America’s Fastest-Growing Supermarket Chain and Made Millionaires of Scores of Their North Carolina Friends and Neighbors (Asheboro, NC, 1991).