- Kroger plans to hold a competition to expand the number of local and regional growers and producers it sources fresh products from across a range of categories, the grocery chain announced on Wednesday. The deadline to enter the competition is May 31.
- Fifteen companies selected to participate in Kroger's Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, set to occur in August in the grocer's hometown of Cincinnati, will pitch a panel of judges for the chance to have their products stocked by Kroger banners. Five winners will get placement on Kroger shelves as well as ongoing business development from the company and its affiliates.
- Kroger's latest effort to build ties with new suppliers coincides with the retailer's ongoing initiative to expand the number of diverse companies it works with to obtain goods for its stores.
The newly announced program goes beyond providing participants with access to Kroger's shelves. In addition to selling products from the five winners, the grocer plans to provide them with coaching and connect them with food distributor Gourmet Foods International, which is sponsoring the competition.
Kroger's goal is to identify and support new suppliers for departments including produce, deli, bakery, meat, seafood, dairy, specialty cheese and floral, according to the press release.
The company's category management and fresh director team will work with Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM), which connects suppliers and retailers, to choose applicants for the pitch event. ECRM unit RangeMe, an online platform that helps retailers identify emerging products, will also play a role, Kroger said.
Kroger is dividing the accelerator into categories that reflect its five geographic regions. Applicants will also be grouped based on criteria including where they are based, their size and the local relevance of their offerings.
The grocer intends to provide the five winners with business development coaching from its merchandising and sales staff. They will also receive advice from Brian Kelley, a former Keurig Green Mountain and Coca-Cola Refreshments executive who is the CEO of PearlRock Partners, a joint venture between Kroger's 84.51° data analytics unit and private family investment firm Fremont Macanta.
As part of its 10-part plan announced in October to advance diversity, equity and inclusion across the company, Kroger outlined several steps to boost supplier diversity, like investing up to $10 billion in diverse suppliers by 2030, hosting supplier summits, and offering incubators and accelerators. Previously, Kroger launched an online portal in 2017 to allow suppliers to pitch products directly to company buyers.
Other retailers also run programs designed to expand the breadth and diversity of their offerings and the suppliers they source those products from. Walmart plans to host virtual pitch meetings to allow entrepreneurs to vie for selling space, while ECRM and RangeMe worked with Meijer to host a virtual summit for diverse suppliers last week.