- Hy-Vee will begin hosting quarterly virtual summits in 2021 across its eight-state region to connect local vendors with the its buyers, according to an announcement on Thursday.
- Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM), a marketing company that links brands to retailers and also owns online product discovery software RangeMe, will facilitate the supplier selection process for the "Best of Local Brands" virtual summits.
- Local businesses can now submit their products to Hy-Vee’s purchasing team for consideration to get shown at a summit, which will include 15- to 30-minute virtual presentations from suppliers. Hy-Vee is using the summits to support small businesses and integrate their products into the grocer's in-store and online shopping experiences as consumers increasingly seek out local brands.
Hy-Vee, a regional grocery chain with more than 275 stores across eight states in the Midwest, has put substantial effort into keeping its stores relevant and building its reputation for innovation.
Its latest move to bring more local suppliers to its stores comes as shoppers are looking to invest more in locally owned as well as women- and minority-owned businesses, according to recent research. Darren Baty, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for Hy-Vee, said in the announcement that the grocer is seeing increasing customer demand for local vendors.
With its upcoming summits, Hy-Vee joins Instacart, Giant Food and Food Lion in featuring more products from small businesses. Hy-Vee is sourcing local brands across the retail categories of grocery, produce, deli, general merchandise, frozen, dairy, health and beauty care. Summit dates are set for Feb. 10-12, May 11-13, Aug. 4-6, and Nov. 3-5.
Hy-Vee is taking a technology-forward approach to seeking out new products with ECRM and RangeMe, whose software helps connect retailers with relevant small-scale producers. Walmart, Target, Ahold Delhaize USA and Albertsons all have used RangeMe to find new suppliers.
Some national grocers have found during the novel coronavirus pandemic that supporting badly-hit local businesses can extend beyond stocking their products. The Giant Company, for example, has offered $500,000 in emergency grants given to small food-related businesses in Pennsylvania with special designations for minority-, women-, LGBT- and veteran-owned businesses.