Kroger wants to accelerate its go fresh and go local push

Discussion
Kroger 2021 Go Fresh & Local candidates - Source: Kroger promotional video
May 06, 2022

Kroger is bringing back an accelerator program designed to help local fresh food suppliers from across the country gain access to the supermarket giant’s store shelves.

The Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator is part of Kroger’s ongoing expansion of its fresh departments across the store.

Kroger is encouraging suppliers to apply for the program between today and May 23. Those selected will be invited to a two-day event to be held in Cincinnati in August. Kroger will invite a total of 30 finalists to attend with the top 15 getting the opportunity to present to the chain’s executives. In the end, five winners will be named.

Winners will get their products on store shelves at Kroger-owned chain stores. They will also get recommended partnerships with sponsors and business development coaching from leaders drawn from Kroger’s merchandising and sales teams.

“Kroger is fully committed to supporting a diverse group of innovative, local suppliers who can bring a great assortment of fresh products to our customers,” Stuart Aitken, Kroger’s chief merchant and marketing officer, said in a statement.

Suppliers seeking consideration for the accelerator program are welcomed to apply as local or regional suppliers. Kroger distinguishes firms by the following criteria:

Local:

  • Small producers;
  • Located in-state or the immediate market;
  • Community-inspired and locally relevant items;
  • Merchandised in less than approximately 100 stores.

Regional:

  • Larger producers;
  • Cross state and division boundaries;
  • Still locally relevant to customers;
  • Merchandised in approximately 100 or more stores.

“Last year, the Go Fresh and Local cohort brought fresh ideas and innovative new products to the table that blew our judges away,” said Dan De La Rosa, Kroger’s group vice president of fresh merchandising. “Every single one of last year’s cohort has now seen their products on Kroger shelves, helping us bring the tastes and flavors our customers love straight to local stores. We look forward to building on last year’s success and are excited to bring in new suppliers to participate in the opportunity to join the Kroger family.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are accelerator programs such as Kroger’s a good way to onboard local and regional suppliers? What do you see as the appropriate roles for central buying offices and local stores when it comes to bringing on new suppliers?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Localization is hot in the mind of consumers. Attendance at farmers markets is through the roof and Kroger is smart to exploit that trend."
"As climate concerns and supply chain snags continue to plague retail, accelerator programs offer a compelling solution."
"Certainly what’s old is new again when it comes to local sourcing. Kroger’s commitment to supporting local, innovative suppliers is to be applauded."

Join the Discussion!

17 Comments on "Kroger wants to accelerate its go fresh and go local push"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

There is a stack of innovation among smaller CPG companies with some phenomenal products and innovation. Retailers need to do more with these younger, often local brands to bring excitement and newness to their offers which, in turn, helps them to differentiate. This is especially true of big retailers, like Kroger, which are not always the best at range innovation. It is also important for Kroger to support micro-firms’ scaling up should they be chosen to work with the retailer.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Perfectly said Neil. Your comment is spot on and says it all.

Christine Russo
BrainTrust

Yes, of course this is a good way to onboard local and regional suppliers. It shows Kroger being curious and putting new options out there to their customers and also shows them as responsive – if their customers are asking for particular items, flavors, or products. Its definitely a win.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Accelerator programs in fresh differ from other categories in that many products will be unbranded. Therefore, Kroger will get the credit for any improvements to its fresh assortments and quality. Suppliers that participate gain volume and the potential for a longer-term relationship with a major grocer. Programs like Go Fresh and Local allow Kroger to compete more aggressively with regional grocers that already cultivate relationships with local suppliers. As climate concerns and supply chain snags continue to plague retail, accelerator programs offer a compelling solution.

Dave Wendland
BrainTrust

Certainly what’s old is new again when it comes to local sourcing. Kroger’s commitment to supporting local, innovative suppliers is to be applauded. Not only is local appealing to shoppers, it provides other benefits: 1.) differentiation; 2.) community support; 3.) eco-friendliness; 4.) speed to market; and 5.) supply chain efficiencies.

Local stores – within established central buying office guidelines – will exercise an increasing amount of autonomy. Accelerators such as this are an excellent way to attract suppliers, explain criteria, and create a scalable program that can extend to other categories.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Localization is hot in the mind of consumers. Attendance at farmers markets is through the roof and Kroger is smart to exploit that trend. Fresh is truly fresh when it’s local. Maybe buying tomatoes by how high they bounce (a true story) isn’t the way to go. Kroger’s move to offer home delivery, leveraging Customer Fulfillment Centers (CFCs), where they don’t operate stores gives them a gigantic playing field in which to operate.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This sounds like a great way to encourage and support localized initiatives. But I don’t understand the winnowing process. Thirty finalists, 15 presenters (to centralized execs?) and five winners. Why limit the number of winners if more participants meet Kroger’s standards? I would think they would want as many winners as possible, and be able to tell a localized story in that many more markets. Last year they were blown away, but this year there can be only five winners?

storewanderer
Guest
4 months 29 days ago

Yeah, how many divisions does Kroger have? It sounds like some stores may get one or two new products out of this initiative.

Regional chains and independents have hundreds of local products already.

This initiative sounds good but the results are basically symbolic and not material.

Brad Halverson
Guest

Exactly my thought. The goal should be to get many more launched with solid support. Why? Because many more successful launches will change/improve brand perception.

David Spear
BrainTrust

Sounds like Kroger’s version of Shark Tank for local products. But why only do this once a year? If Kroger were really serious about innovation and always looking for new, fresh, cool products, why not have at least a quarterly version of this instead of just doing it annually? And why does the corporate Ivory Tower get to make decisions? If this is truly a “go local” program, shouldn’t the regional offices be leading the decision-making for their regional stores?

Mohamed Amer, PhD
BrainTrust

Brilliant program by Kroger to bring fresh ideas and locally-influenced flavors into the company’s fresh categories: produce, floral, deli, bakery, specialty cheese, dairy, meat, and seafood. Innovative products create customer excitement and greater loyalty while expanding the size and value of the basket. The accelerator complements the central buying group by giving Kroger the benefits of a decentralized model within a centralized buying construct.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Accelerator programs strengthen local suppliers — and consumers — by nurturing in-demand products, unique brand and resilient supply chains. Climate change and supply chain risks pose growing threats to food security; now local food networks are imperative.

Working with new suppliers, central buying offices often focus on speed-to-market, cost savings and innovative products with national appeal. Local stores reflect their communities with assortment variety from diverse suppliers for more personalized tastes.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Accelerators may be the only effective path-to-market for the majority of local and regional suppliers. As to what the appropriate roles are, it’s a delicate balance and varies significantly between categories. Local and regional brands may be the frosting on a multi-regional or national retail chain’s cake, but you can’t live on a diet of frosting alone.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

I’d rather see a more locally- and consumer-led approach as opposed to a contest with only a handful of “winners.” Why place limits when one can be much more inclusive in store offerings as well as creating programs in understored areas where there is need?

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

I like the theory of this program. What doesn’t add up is how picking 5 suppliers within a national business makes anything “local.”

storewanderer
Guest
4 months 29 days ago

What was more effective was when each Kroger division office handled this sort of thing. Back as late as 2014 this was handled by each division.

Many divisions have a bit over 100 stores. To limit local vendors to less than 100 stores vs. an entire division as they once had access to seems limiting.

Too much centralization at Kroger. Reminds me of Safeway in 2010 before they shrunk and ended up sold to Albertsons.

Brad Halverson
Guest

I loved the idea to lift and promote small/local vendors like this, but impact, and brand recognition could be so much more for everyone involved.

Limiting winners to five and thirty finalists presenting to corporate executives?

With twenty divisions in Kroger, the goal should be to launch 100 to 200, eventually 500 of these product winners per year. Driving the process down to division, regional levels will help, so local stores and employees are involved.

Local products like these are proof of differentiation in each market and a solid way to bring more customers towards brand loyalty.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Localization is hot in the mind of consumers. Attendance at farmers markets is through the roof and Kroger is smart to exploit that trend."
"As climate concerns and supply chain snags continue to plague retail, accelerator programs offer a compelling solution."
"Certainly what’s old is new again when it comes to local sourcing. Kroger’s commitment to supporting local, innovative suppliers is to be applauded."

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