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05/10/2021

Kroger Releases Small-Business Resource Guide

Guide supports retailer's commitment to advance supplier inclusion
Marian Zboraj
Digital Editor
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Kroger Releases Small-Business Resource Guide
Kroger released its guide during the first week of May, National Small Business Week, as a part of its commitment to advance diverse partnerships.

As part of its initiative to reach $10 billion in diverse spend by 2030, The Kroger Co. has released its "Small Business Resource Guide," developed to help brands and producers establish and grow retail partnerships. The free downloadable resource shares best practices on product development, pricing, supply chain, promotion, research and preparation, outreach, and partnership development.

"Through Kroger's supplier inclusion program, we support, mentor, promote and grow diverse-owned enterprises across our thriving operation. We currently work with more than 1,600 diverse suppliers, ranging from food and beverage to health and beauty, and product distributors to service providers," said Angel Colón, Kroger's senior director of corporate and supplier diversity. "As a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable, we continue to partner with diverse businesses in innovative ways, including by investing in incubators and accelerators, expanding relationships with existing partners, hosting and participating in supplier summits, and through partnerships with leading certifying agencies.

"We believe our recently published Small Business Resource Guide, featuring partnership success spotlights from companies like Cacique, 4Sisters Rice, TrueChoicePack and True Shea, will be a useful tool for many companies and help us as we continue to seek out new partners and expand existing relationships," continued Colón.

The release of the guide is part of Kroger’s Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan, which was introduced last year. The plan features steps developed in collaboration with associates and leaders to accelerate and promote greater change in the workplace and in the communities that the organization serves.

"In 2020, Kroger achieved $4.1 billion in diverse supplier spend, representing an increase of 21% versus a year ago, and built on our commitment to reach $10 billion in diverse supplier spend by 2030. We remain committed to doing the work to advance our longstanding and nationally recognized supplier inclusion program, reflecting partnerships with entrepreneurs of color, women and veterans, as well as companies founded by the LGBTQ+ community and business operators with intellectual and physical disabilities," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "Greater racial, gender, health and wealth equity will drive true and long-lasting change and better outcomes in our country. And, as America's grocer, we're honored to play a role in driving this change as an employer, grocery provider and community partner."

Last year, Kroger introduced 107 new diverse suppliers, a 91% increase versus 2019. Of these suppliers, five played a leading role in supplying Kroger with personal protective equipment during the peak of the COVID-19 public-health crisis. 

Earlier this year, the grocer hosted its third annual Supplier Inclusion Innovation Summit. Prior to the event, Kroger's supplier inclusion and category leadership teams, alongside certifying agencies like the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Women's Business Enterprise National Council, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, National Veteran Business Development Council and U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, reviewed hundreds of event applicants and invited 25 suppliers to attend. During the event, participants received coaching from Kroger merchandising, business development and supplier inclusion leaders, and had the opportunity to pitch their products.

Kroger has also recently joined Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble and MORTAR – a Cincinnati-based accelerator providing historically marginalized entrepreneurs access to resources to start and run successful businesses – to pilot the Multicultural Entrepreneurship Development program, which focuses on enabling entrepreneurs to reach their fullest potential. The multi-month program launched last month and runs through the summer.

"Kroger is elated to welcome, share insights and present an industry-leading business development curriculum, as well as learn from the inaugural cohort of 13 local entrepreneurs," said Tim Massa, Kroger's chief people officer. "Stronger diverse businesses create stronger communities and produce greater innovation and collaboration. At Kroger, we remain focused on continuing to grow our business to better serve our associates and customers, so it's imperative that we continue to find new ways to listen and learn, uplift other businesses, and bring in additional perspectives and products."

Later this month, Kroger will launch an open call inviting local and regional fresh food producers to participate in its search for innovative suppliers. Kroger will share more information about this event soon.

Kroger's total company sales were $30.7 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $28.9 billion for the same period last year. Excluding fuel and dispositions, sales grew 10.7%.

Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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