Kroger's second annual Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator program is currently open to growers and producers.
The Kroger Co. is going in for round two of its Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator. The program will help U.S.-based suppliers gain a direct path to getting their products on the retailer’s shelves, and will encompass all fresh departments, including produce, deli, bakery, meat, seafood, dairy, specialty cheeses and floral.
The accelerator will be held in Kroger’s hometown of Cincinnati this August, and producers can apply to be considered for the program now through May 23. The Local category will cover small producers or growers located in-state or in the immediate market with community-inspired and locally relevant items. The Regional category encompasses larger producers that cross state and division boundaries but still offer products locally relevant to customers.
Working collaboratively with ECRM and RangeMe, the grocer will choose 30 finalists to attend the event, and the top 15 finalists will be invited to present to a panel of Kroger executives who will then name five winners. Those five winners will receive shelf placement within Kroger's multiple banners, recommended partnerships with sponsors and business development coaching from Kroger executives.
"Kroger is fully committed to supporting a diverse group of innovative, local suppliers who can bring a great assortment of fresh products to our customers," said Stuart Aitken, Kroger's chief merchant and marketing officer. "Kroger committed to investing $10 billion in diverse suppliers by 2030, and the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator is a successful way to catapult Kroger closer to that goal. We are excited to meet this year's suppliers who will help us advance our commitment to fresh in our nearly 2,800 stores."
The 2021 Fresh & Local Cohort included Maazah Afghan-style chutney and women-owned Nona Lim, which makes refrigerated pad thai and Asian noodle kits. Other participants were Queen Charlotte's Pimento Cheese Royale with four flavors of gluten-free, keto-friendly premium pimento cheese, Simply Southern Sides and heat-and-eat soup company Soupergirl.
"Last year, the Go Fresh & Local cohort brought fresh ideas and innovative new products to the table that blew our judges away," said Dan De La Rosa, Kroger's group VP of fresh merchandising. "Every single one of last year's cohort has now seen their products on Kroger shelves, helping us bring the tastes and flavors our customers love straight to local stores. We look forward to building on last year's success and are excited to bring in new suppliers to participate in the opportunity to join the Kroger family."
Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.