- Meijer announced it will virtually hold its "Lift Local Supplier Event," a summit for local suppliers to pitch their products to company buyers, on April 1, according to a press release published Wednesday.
- The summit will hone in on the categories of grocery, baby, beauty and personal care, over-the-counter and wellness. Suppliers of retail-ready products in the six states where Meijer has store locations – Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin – may apply to be included in the event by Feb. 19.
- Meijer will partner with sourcing firm ECRM and its subsidiary software tool RangeMe to host the event, which aims to piggyback off of the success of its Supplier Diversity Summit last November in evolving relationships with local businesses.
Meijer’s latest push for locally sourced products falls in line with a trend across the grocery industry of signaling to customers their support for local businesses. Shoppers associate locally sourced products with environmental sustainability, high quality and ethical farming practices.
For Meijer, the greater focus on local and small-scale producers further differentiates its assortment and burnishes the retailer's image as a socially responsible company. Meijer has made significant investments into developing community-minded, small format stores over the last two years. Summits such as the upcoming April event work to bulk out its local supplier base, especially after such a tumultuous year for the food supply chain.
Meijer said its buyers met with nearly 250 diverse suppliers during its Supplier Diversity Summit in November.
National and regional grocers are recognizing the growing importance of supplying local and forging connections with cottage suppliers. Missouri-based Schnucks launched a local supplier diversity initiative in November, while Hy-Vee, announced four virtual local brands summits over this year where it will use the same sourcing software company, ECRM, as Meijer.
According to recent research, shoppers are especially eager to purchase products by women- and minority-owned local businesses. To Meijer, the summit provides an opportunity for the grocery chain to “accommodate what [local suppliers] can do now, while also building a partnership to help them grow in the future”, said Meijer's Group VP of Global Sourcing, Indirect Procurement, Supplier Diversity and Product Quality Jamie Akemann, in a statement.