- Kroger is growing its partnership with 80 Acres Farms in a deal that will bring fresh produce from the indoor farm operator to 316 Kroger supermarkets in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio beginning March 15, according to a press release on Tuesday.
- The arrangement will give Kroger shoppers year-round access to pesticide-free produce grown in controlled environments.
- Kroger is stepping up its partnership with 80 Acres Farms amid a broader effort by the company and the grocery industry to improve sustainability and waste-reduction in their operations.
The expanded deal between Kroger and 80 Acres Farms, which builds on a pilot that began in 2019, falls under the umbrella of Kroger’s multi-year Zero Hunger Zero Waste program.
In the press release, Kroger underscored the fact that it will be able to cut back the amount of energy needed to bring produce to its stores because 80 Acres Farms has locations within a reasonable distance of partner stores. The grower takes its name from the fact that it can grow the same amount of food indoors as a traditional farm, which usually needs about 80 acres of land, and operates four farms in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Produce sold by 80 Acres Farms includes salad blends, herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers, according to its website. In addition to Kroger, 80 Acres Farms sells its products in conjunction with other grocers, including the Dorothy Lane Market chain, which operates three gourmet supermarkets in Ohio.
80 Acres Farms touts its ability to grow food in controlled conditions. The company’s methods also require a fraction of the water required by traditional farming, according to the company.
The growing techniques 80 Acres Farms uses also help its products have longer shelf lives, according to Mike Zelkind, CEO and co-founder of the company. That capability could help Kroger achieve its goal of eliminating food waste as part of the Zero Hunger Zero Waste campaign, which it launched in 2017.
Kroger is part of the 10x20x30 initiative, an effort by almost 200 food manufacturers, suppliers and retailers to cut food waste in half by 2030. The grocer is also focused on using more sustainable packaging for its private label products.
On the same day that Kroger and 80 Acres Farms made their announcement, Plenty, a California-based vertical farming company, said its products would become available at 17 Albertsons-owned supermarkets in Northern California, pushing the number of partner stores in the region to 53. The technology-focused produce supplier, which has raised more than $500 million from investors, entered an agreement with Albertsons last year to stock Plenty products at more than 430 of the grocer’s California stores.
Kroger's boosted sustainability efforts come at a time when the grocery industry is increasingly turning to greener initiatives. Aldi announced on Wednesday new sustainability goals that include reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, operational waste and plastic packaging materials by 2025 and halving its food waste by 2030.