The pending sale of Supervalu to United Natural Foods (UNFI) is now leading to uncertainty over the future of Cub Foods.
After announcing the $2.9 billion purchase of Supervalu on Thursday, UNFI confirmed that in time it would be selling off some of the company's retail assets, including the Minnesota grocery store chain.
With more than 70 stores, of which around 50 are company-owned and the rest by franchisees, Cub has a significant presence in Minnesota and particular the Twin Cities.
The Star Tribune reported last year that Cub has 47 stores across the metro area, where with a 23.7 percent market share it remain the Twin Cities' most popular grocery store.
But this share has been eaten away over the years by low-cost challengers like Walmart and Aldi, as well as new entrants to the market such as Hy-Vee and Fresh Thyme.
With UNFI now shopping for a Cub buyer, who are the possibilities?
Retail expert David Livingston told MPR News that among the potential buyers could be Ohio-based Kroger, which is the 2nd largest supermarket company in the U.S., behind Walmart, and has a presence in 22 states.
Another possibility is Idaho-based chain Albertsons, Livingston said. Supervalu used to actually own more than 1,100 Albertsons stores after buying them in 2006, only to sell them five years ago.
Meanwhile the Twin Cities Business Journals is reporting that Lidl, the Scandinavian, low-cost retail chain that is increasing presence in the U.S., is also being mentioned as a potential buyer.
It also suggests that the sell-off of Cub properties could present another opportunity for Hy-Vee, the Iowa retailer that has been adding stores in the Twin Cites metro.
Earlier this week, Hy-Vee confirmed that it will be opening its next store in Plymouth, taking over the Cub Foods store that closed on July 11.