SpartanNash and its Our Family brand of products recently unveiled a partnership with Molly Yeh, star of Food Network's “Girl Meets Farm,” as well as a food blogger and best-selling cookbook author. Under the partnership, Yeh will feature recipes on her blog that incorporate her favorite Our Family ingredients.
Progressive Grocer caught up with the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer/distributor to find out more about the effort.
Progressive Grocer: How did this partnership come about?
John Paul, VP, Private Brands, SpartanNash: The first season of Molly’s show, “Girl Meets Farm,” premiered this summer, and we noticed that Molly was already using Our Family products in her recipes. Given her home base of Grand Forks, N.D., and the fact that we have several valued independent customers within that market, we knew this was an opportunity we wanted to seize. Traditionally, a private brand does not have a spokesperson, but we found the synergies were too closely aligned not to pursue it.
Molly is a fantastic spokesperson for the Our Family brand because she demonstrates the pillars that the brand stands for – a fierce commitment to quality and family values.
Progressive Grocer: How were the featured recipes chosen?
Molly Yeh: I chose these recipes because they were perfect for the seasons and highlighted Our Family products, and while they were approachable, they also had a lot of meaning to me. I’m always looking to tell stories through my recipes, so I was happy that I was able to do that with these three recipes.
Paul: They’re also flavors that resonate with our customers, while also featuring the new and unique twists that make Molly’s recipes so popular.
Progressive Grocer: How do you expect this effort to drive sales?
Paul: We believe the partnership with Molly will benefit the Our Family brand in three ways: In Michigan, where Our Family is a new brand on many families’ tables, having a well-known chef and food blogger like Molly endorse the product adds excitement to the brand. The Our Family brand has been a family favorite since 1904, but distribution in Michigan was limited to a small number of independent customers until 2018, when we introduced it to all of our Michigan customers. Many of these store guests and independent customers are still discovering all there is to love about the Our Family brand and its commitment to high-quality, budget-friendly items. As a long-time fan of Our Family, Molly shines the spotlight on our product to a whole new audience and demographic.
In the additional regions in the Our Family footprint, the partnership with Molly is a boost to our existing efforts to bring the Our Family name to the forefront. Molly’s recipes provide us with an opportunity to re-energize our customers and reintroduce them to their favorite products – or showcase new items we offer through the Our Family brand.
Molly’s recipes also appeal to a younger demographic, attracting Millennial fans of her blog and her show and showcasing all that Our Family has to offer them.
Progressive Grocer: What reaction have you received from shoppers so far, and why do you think that is?
Paul: People love Molly, and the feedback we’ve received from this partnership has been nothing but positive. As a result, we’re planning to extend the relationship in 2019. Her recipes have just scratched the surface of all there is to love about Our Family, and we’re looking at ways to further engage our consumers – both our store guests and our independent retailers – on multiple platforms in the coming year.
Progressive Grocer: What other kinds of partnerships do you envision with Molly Yeh or other food bloggers?
Andrea Anson, Director, Quality Assurance and Food Safety, SpartanNash: Over the past several years, the Our Family brand has been working on a Clean Ingredient Initiative, focusing on providing clean products to our customers by removing synthetic colors, MSG and other unnatural ingredients. The Clean Ingredient Initiative’s purpose is to not only provide products that cater to an evolving consumer, but to educate the consumer in an environment where information and product options are numerous and overwhelming.
The Clean Ingredient Initiative includes more than 300 private brands items, and some items have undergone more extensive reformulations than others. Our Family sour cream for instance – which is featured in Molly’s recipe for garlic and onion latkes and sour cream – went from 10 ingredients to three – cultured cream, nonfat milk and enzyme.
Paul: We envision Molly assisting with the communication of our Clean Ingredient Initiative. These reformulations are timely and important to her as she becomes a first-time mother, and we think she’ll be a great spokesperson to help us educate the consumer that healthy modifications don’t need to equate to a reduction in quality or flavor.
Molly got her start as a food blogger, and we want to give other bloggers like her a chance to experience our products in 2019. Each month, up-and-coming food bloggers will receive products and share their thoughts with their fans. We want to continue to leverage these types of influencers to encourage them to try the brand, and we can’t wait to see how we can continue to grow the Our Family brand as a result.
One of the country's top grocery wholesalers and distributors, SpartanNash provides products to various independent grocers and chain retailers, its corporate-owned retail stores, and U.S. military commissaries and exchanges, along with fresh produce distribution and fresh food processing. SpartanNash operates 139 supermarkets, mainly under the Family Fare Supermarkets, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery, Dan’s Supermarket and Family Fresh Market banners. The company is No. 35 on Progressive Grocer’s 2018 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.