Hy-Vee, Inc. is meeting the growing demand for more locally-made products in its aisles by hosting quarterly “Best of Local Brands” summits in 2021. The summits will help expand and enhance the product offerings at its more than 275 retail stores in eight states.
The West Des Moines, Iowa-based retailer is currently accepting submissions for “Best of Brands” online at www.rangeme.com/hyveelocalsummit in the following categories of retail ready products: grocery, produce, deli, general merchandise, frozen, dairy, and health and beauty care.
“An increasing number of Hy-Vee customers would like to be able to purchase from local vendors during their grocery shopping process — whether in store or via our Aisles Online grocery pickup and delivery service,” said Darren Baty, Hy-Vee’s EVP and CMO — a role he stepped into earlier in the year. “Supporting small, local businesses is important to us, and these quarterly summits will enable vendors in our eight-state region to present their products directly to our purchasing team, and — in return — will ensure our team is aware of all of the incredible, locally-made products that we can share with our customers.”
The 2021 summits will be organized by the eight states Hy-Vee operates in (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin) and will consist of 15- to 30-minute virtual presentations from selected suppliers. Summit dates are: Feb. 10-12, May 11-13, Aug. 4-6 and Nov. 3-5.
ECRM, which stands for Efficient Collaborative Retail, and RangeMe are helping Hy-Vee source, qualify and connect suppliers with the appropriate buyers. All sourcing and product submissions will be made through the RangeMe platform, while ECRM will qualify suppliers, create curated meeting schedules and facilitate face-to-face meetings with Hy-Vee buyers via its virtual ECRM Connect platform. Suppliers not chosen will still be accessible through RangeMe and may be reviewed by Hy-Vee merchants again in the future as business needs change.
The pandemic has certainly accelerated shoppers’ interest in locally produced products. Other grocers like Mansfield, Massachusetts-based Roche Bros. Supermarkets have also made an effort to make local food more easily available for shoppers. Roche Bros. recently joined forces with digital procurement platform Forager. Forager’s relationships with local farms, artisanal producers, fishers and ranchers give suppliers more direct access to nearby food retailers. With Forager’s technology, the grocer’s Roche Bros., Sudbury Farms and Brothers Marketplace banners can easily source and expand local food offerings.
Hy-Vee’s announcement of searching for more assorted suppliers follows national wholesale food distributor KeHE Distributors LLC’s recent Diversity TrendFinder event. Similar to Hy-Vee's future summits, KeHE's virtual event gave more than 100 diverse suppliers a chance to pitch products directly to a category management team to fast-track the chosen items into distribution.
With sales of $11 billion annually, the employee-owned Hy-Vee, the parent company of Vivid Clear Rx, operates more than 275 retail stores across eight Midwestern states. The company is No. 33 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.