The Kroger Co. has launched the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, a new program that furthers its commitments to building and investing in a diverse network of local, regional and small businesses and to making fresh food available to everyone.
The accelerator program, sponsored by Gourmet Foods International, invites American growers and producers across produce, deli, bakery, meat, seafood, dairy, specialty cheeses and floral categories to apply now through May 31 for the opportunity to work with the Cincinnati-based retailer.
In collaboration with Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing and RangeMe, Kroger's category management and fresh director team will review applications in multiple rounds, selecting 15 finalists (one finalist per region per category, outlined below) to attend an event in August in Cincinnati. All finalists will 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 shelf within Kroger’s Family of Companies; 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.
"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 VP 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."
In 2020, Kroger invested $4.1 billion in diverse suppliers—a 21% increase from the prior year—as it works to increase this number to $10 billion by 2030. "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,” said Stuart Aitken, Kroger's chief merchant and marketing officer.
As it aims to sign on even more diverse suppliers, the grocer earlier this week debuted a guide that offers tips for small businesses on securing partnerships with retailers.
Kroger is encouraging growers and producers to apply to the relevant regional categories below, in alignment with the following regional vs. local grouping criteria:
- 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 and Kroger Columbus
- Region 5: Kroger Atlanta, Kroger Mid-Atlantic, Kroger Louisville, Harris Teeter and Kroger Cincinnati-Dayton
- Small producers
- Located in-state or the immediate market
- Community-inspired and locally relevant items
- Merchandised in less than approximately 100 stores
- Larger producers
- Cross state and division boundaries
- Still locally relevant to customers
- Merchandised in approximately 100 or more stores
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