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08/24/2021

Kroger accelerates local, diverse supplier partnerships

Retailer named five winners of its Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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This spring, Kroger launched a supplier discovery program called the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, working with the ECRM and the RangeMe platform to find regional growers and producers of fresh food products in the United States — five suppliers have been selected to hit shelves in early 2022. 

The Cincinnati-based retailer saw more than 1,000 applicants — the suppliers were open to working with the retailer’s own brands —  and 15 were invited to pitch their products. In the end five suppliers have been selected into Kroger’s first Go Fresh & Local Accelerator cohort. The company said the products will not be under the Kroger private brand portfolio or be exclusives.

The suppliers are local and advance the company’s mission to work with a more diverse supplier base.

“We invented the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator to discover the best, most innovative, and freshest local and regional products — and our group of winners is just that," said Dan De La Rosa, Kroger's group vice president of fresh merchandising. "We are proud to partner with these extraordinary suppliers to bring exciting new products to our stores across the country – and introduce customers to more locally made favorites."

The winners are:

  • Maazah (Minneapolis) – A balanced Afghan-style chutney made of fresh cilantro, ginger, garlic, zesty lemon, apple cider vinegar and jalapeno pepper from a women-owned brand. Maazah, meaning "flavor" in Farsi, is inspired by family and culture — and its signature chutney is inspired by a family recipe.
     
  • Nona Lim (Oakland) – Refrigerated pad thai & Asian noodle kits from a women-owned brand. Inspired by the namesake founder's Asian heritage, Nona Lim is committed to bringing fresh, bold Asian flavors to the table using only clean ingredients.
     
  • Queen Charlotte's Pimento Cheese Royale (Charlotte) – Four flavors of gluten-free, keto-friendly premium pimento cheese from a husband-and-wife team in Charlotte. Queen Charlotte's Pimento Cheese Royale is a family-owned and operated business that handmakes, packs, and ships every tub of pimento cheese.
     
  • Simply Southern Sides (Macedonia, Ohio) – Spice and seasoning kits for homemade soul food from Booker's Soul Food Starters, a Black and woman-owned business from Kroger's home state of Ohio. This brand of all-natural seasoning mixes allows customers to experience and prepare personalized portions of traditional African American family dishes like collard greens and peach cobbler. 
     
  • Soupergirl (Washington, D.C.) – Readymade heat-and-eat soups, chilis and gazpacho made from farm fresh local produce by a women-owned business. Soupergirl believes in real, responsible food, supports local farming, fights food waste, and cooks healthfully – so the planet, the consumer, the community and the farmers win.

"Kroger's Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator has allowed us to identify additional growers, producers, and suppliers across regions, categories, and verticals – helping us diversify our product offering and our supplier relationships and create new ways for small businesses to partner with the largest grocer in America," said Stuart Aitken, Kroger's chief merchant and marketing officer. "Just last year, Kroger invested $4.1 billion in diverse suppliers — a 21% increase versus the previous year — and we aim to scale that number to $10 billion by 2030. This year's inaugural cohort is an intentional and impactful step toward achieving that bold goal."