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05/13/2021

Kroger seeks fresh food suppliers

The retailer opened an online application process for suppliers looking to join its first Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator that will occur in August in Cincinnati.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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Kroger has kicked off a supplier discovery program sponsored by Gourmet Foods International, aiming to add new and diverse suppliers across produce, deli, bakery, meat, seafood, dairy, specialty cheeses and floral. Suppliers can apply through the end of the month for consideration.

American growers and suppliers apply online in collaboration with ECRM and RangeMe for a chance to attend Kroger’s Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator being held in Cincinnati in August. Kroger's category management and fresh director team will review the online applications over the course of multiple rounds, selecting 15 finalists (one finalist per region per category) to attend the event. Finalists then present to a panel of judges during a pitch session, with one overall winner selected from each region. The prize package for the five overall winners includes product placement on shelves within Kroger's banners, recommended partnerships with Gourmet Foods International, and business development coaching from Kroger merchandising and sales leaders as well as PearlRock Partners CEO Brian Kelley, a 30-year consumer product industry veteran and former president of Keurig Green Mountain and Coca-Cola Refreshments.

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"At Kroger, our Fresh for Everyone mission is anchored in consistently and creatively providing fresh and affordable food to our customers," said Dan De La Rosa, Kroger's group vice president of fresh merchandising. "We're dedicated to fostering innovation and investing in local, regional, and small businesses that make the best of food accessible to all. Our first Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator is an extension of our commitment and we're eager to invite suppliers of every size to participate, providing the potential to grow our businesses together."

Kroger welcomes growers and producers to apply to the relevant regional categories below, in alignment with the following regional versus local grouping criteria:

  • Regions:
    • Region 1: QFC, Fred Meyer, Ralphs, and Food 4 Less
    • Region 2: Fry's Food Stores, Smith's, King Soopers, City Market, and Dillons
    • Region 3: Kroger Houston, Kroger Dallas, Kroger Delta, and Kroger Nashville
    • Region 4: Mariano's, Metro Market, Pick 'n Save, Kroger Central, Kroger Michigan, Kroger Columbus
    • Region 5: Kroger Atlanta, Kroger Mid-Atlantic, Kroger Louisville, Harris Teeter and Kroger Cincinnati-Dayton
  • Groupings:
    • Local:
      • Small producers;
      • Located in-state or the immediate market;
      • Community-inspired and locally relevant items;
      • Merchandised in less than approximately 100 stores.
    • Regional:
      • Larger producers;
      • Cross state and division boundaries;
      • Still locally relevant to customers;
      • Merchandised in approximately 100 or more stores.

"Kroger is committed to offering the best assortment of fresh products enabled by an innovative portfolio of suppliers. In 2020 alone, we invested $4.1 billion in diverse suppliers — a 21% increase versus the previous year — and we're working with intention to scale that number to $10 billion by 2030," said Stuart Aitken, Kroger's chief merchant and marketing officer. "The Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator will help us achieve our goal as well as advance our freshness commitment in our nearly 2,800 stores and across our Kroger.com e-commerce services, including Pickup, Delivery, and Ship."