Grocers Cultivate Relationships With Local Farmers Markets

Regional, national chains offer more fresh produce choices in-store and online
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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Instead of viewing them strictly as competitors, some grocers are collaborating with farmers markets to offer shoppers more selections and to support the community.

In addition to touting their own fresh fruits, vegetables and plants, some grocers are teaming up with local farmers markets.

Earlier this month, Festival Foods reported that it is hosting farmers market events in several of its stores’ parking lots throughout Wisconsin. Most of the pop-up farmers markets are slated to begin in June and run through mid-October, the typical end of harvest season in the Midwest.

[Read more: "Festival Foods Modernizes Communications With Zipline"]

In announcing this year’s dates and locations, Festival Foods noted that the onsite farmers markets help support local growers and businesses. The partnership also expands customers’ choices for fresh products, including flowers, the retailer added.

In the Pacific Northwest, PCC Community Markets has likewise found mutual success in supporting farmers markets. The company continues its “Growing for Good” program that began during the pandemic as a way to connect farmers with local food banks. PCC partners with the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets organization and with the nonprofit group Harvest Against Hunger to provide 197 varieties of crops from 17 growers to 22 food pantries in the area.

The Kroger Co. has also worked to sustain local farmers while offering shoppers greater produce variety in the omnichannel space. The retailer recently expanded its pilot program with online farmers market startup Market Wagon to offer customers direct access to more than 1,150 local food products. Customers can order from local farmers and artisans in their area and have their items delivered through Kroger.

As farmers market season kicks off in earnest, shoppers in the Columbus, Ohio, market can now take advantage of that service. “The digital farmers market experience eliminates barriers for those eager to support local businesses by making it easy to order fresh goods online and have them delivered straight from farm to doorstep. We are excited about the expansion of the collaboration to Columbus where it will be available to 2.4 million people in 14 counties,” said Dana Zurcher, Columbus division president. Kroger and Market Wagon continue their digital farmers market pilot program in the Atlanta and Knoxville, Tenn., markets. 

Grocery stores remain the top retail destination for fresh produce purchases, according to the "2023 Power of Produce" report from FMI – The Food Industry Association. According to that report, supermarkets get 72% of produce purchases, followed by mass/supercenter stores at 50%, club stores at 34%, hard discounters at 30% and dollar stores and natural/organic stores, each with 17%.

De Pere, Wis.-based Festival Foods is No. 93 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Celebrating its 70th year in 2023, the Seattle-based community-owned PCC Community Markets operates 16 stores in the Puget Sound area, including the cities of Bellevue, Bothell, Burien, Edmonds, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond and Seattle. Cincinnati-based Kroger has almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 4 on The PG 100. 

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