- Wegmans has partnered with Row 7, a seed company led by celebrity chef Dan Barber, according to an Civil Eats. Row 7 states on its website that it develops seeds for new produce varieties, trying to emphasize greater flavors and nutrition. They are also certified organic and non-GMO.
- Row 7’s produce will make its way to Wegmans after this year’s harvest, with all 101 Wegmans stores planning to carry the company’s orange badger flame beets to start. The grocer will test Row 7’s squash next, per Civil Eats.
- Barber said Wegmans was a natural fit to carry Row 7 produce due to its strong reputation among consumers and its selection of fresh, healthy foods.
While a more mainstream grocery store, Wegmans could get an advantage over its natural and organic retail competitors with this new partnership, which will expand its produce line into items often carried by places like Whole Foods.
In fact, Row 7’s honeynut squash has been sold at Whole Foods, as well Trader Joe’s, though the company doesn't appear to have official partnerships with either grocer. In October, the company also teamed up with New York City’s FreshDirect, which will carry a squash variety and a habanero pepper from Row 7.
Working with Wegmans in particular though could enable Row 7 to get its products to market faster, something it proved with the test of its badger flame beets, Civil Eats reported. The two companies did extensive testing prior to rolling out their full partnership. With its own organic farm, Wegmans had the ability to test how the beets grow before asking its own network of 34 organic growers to plant them.
The grocer also tested the beets in-store to see how customers would respond. To educate consumers, Wegmans used special signage and in-store displays, and the grocer had 70 “produce ambassadors” to help educate customers about the product and emphasize the story behind the veggie.
In addition to Wegmans’ organic farm network, the grocer partners with about 400 other regional farmers to source produce, meat and eggs nearby. It also seeks out local and regional bakers and creameries to source baked goods and dairy products.