After finding success in its first Natural Foods Innovation Summit in October, The Kroger Co. hosted its second event, in partnership with 84.51, in its hometown of Cincinnati. Dr. James Rouse, a naturopathic doctor, award-winning author, media personality and speaker, presented at the event.
The retailer said it plans to host another summit in June, and that it would participate in the Natural Products Expo West event in March to help further expand its better-for-you portfolio.
Jill McIntosh, Kroger's VP of natural foods, said the fact that Kroger's private label Simple Truth natural and organic line has achieved $2 billion in annual sales and its organic produce sales have reached $1 billion annually since the first summit demonstrates shoppers' desire for these products. Kroger officials said the company plans to aggressively grow its own brands portfolio this year behind Simple Truth, its Kroger brand national-brand equivalent, and Private Selection, its profitable premium brand.
"Kroger's Summit is an exciting innovation platform that promotes discussion about natural food trends and provides a stage for emerging brands to get their products in front of our buyers and category managers," McIntosh said in statement.
More than 40 suppliers participated in the initial Summit, and that number has now climbed to more than 50, representing different U.S. regions and categories including snacks, beverages, yogurts, vitamins and supplements, and protein bars and powders.
"New brands and products are key components of Kroger's growth strategy," McIntosh said. "In 2018, Kroger will continue to focus on developing new partnerships at micro and macro levels and sourcing locally and regionally. These are just a few of the ways we are redefining the customer experience as outlined in our Restock Kroger plan."
Local and natural foods brands can visit kroger.com/WeAreLocal to learn how to join Kroger's family of suppliers. Sourcing locally also supports the company's sustainability commitments and its Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative, launched last September.