Food Lion was founded in 1957 by Wilson Smith and Ralph and Brown Ketner. The first store was called Food Town and it was located in Salisbury, North Carolina, where the headquarters still resides today.
The company name was changed to Food Lion in the early 1980s after the chain was acquired by Belgian grocer Delhaize.
The chain grew very quickly during the 80s and 90s, opening over 100 stores per year for much of that period.
In 1993, the company agreed to pay $16 million in damages after violating federal laws regarding overtime pay.
Beginning in 2014, the company began remodeling 76 of their stores in the greater Wilmington and Greenville North Carolina areas. In 2015, plans were announced for remodeling of its 162 locations in the Raleigh, North Carolina market.
Although the company spent seven years attempting to establish a presence in Bangkok, Thailand, they were ultimately unsuccessful. The stores were operated locally by Bel-Thai Supermarket Co, and in 2004, Food Lion withdrew from the country, selling all branches to Tops Supermarkets.
Today, Food Lion is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ahold Delhaize. The company operates over 1100 stores in Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.