SALT LAKE CITY -- In an agreement as good as gold, Smith's Food & Drug Stores has been awarded a high-profile sponsorship as the official dairy milk supplier for the 2002 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, to be held here, announced officials.
The pact also extends the supply agreement to cover the 2004 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, officials said.
The 116-store retailer, a division of Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., operates a pair of dairy facilities in Layton, Utah, and Tolleson, Ariz. Both will be used to produce more than 15,000 gallons of milk required for the course of the two-week competition. The deal is worth more than $5 million, according to published reports.
"It's primarily a value-in-kind sponsorship," said Marsha Gilford, assistant vice president of public affairs for Smith's, which operates stores in eight Western states. "In return for the milk, Smith's is the local ticket outlet for both games."
The retailer is to supply all percentages of white fluid milk to both the Olympic Village -- the athletes' residence area -- as well as the media village. Both locations have reserved space for "mini-Smith's" stores as well, according to Gilford.
The Layton plant, Smith's primary milk-producing facility, houses 10 production lines. Besides fluid white milk, the plant also produces ice cream, sour cream, yogurt and juices, among other items, she said. It's one of 18 dairy-processing facilities within Kroger's network of 42 food manufacturing and processing plants throughout the country.
Smith's was chosen in part because of the ability of the facilities to turn out the thousands of gallons required for the athletes, their support staff and all catered events held during the games.
Meanwhile, the retailer has just begun working to develop a promotional plan around the chain's selection. One of the primary perks is the retailer's ability to advertise its milk using the official Salt Lake City Games logo. Another key aspect will likely include some sort of tie-in between milk purchased at Smith's stores and tickets to Olympic events, which the retailer is also selling.
"One of our priorities going into this was to try to bring our local customers to the games," Gilford told SN. "We wanted to find a way to make tickets to the medals plaza and events both accessible and affordable."
The agreement designates Smith's Utah stores as the official local ticket outlet for the Olympic and paralympic events, in conjunction with Tickets.com, the official ticketing services supplier for the games. Smith's officials anticipate tickets will go on sale in stores this fall.
Besides supplying fluid white milk, the retailer is also setting aside warehouse space for food supplies of Olympic proportions.
Published reports also noted Smith's Food's former ties with Tom Welch, who left his position as corporate lawyer for the chain in 1989, to launch Salt Lake City's bid to become an Olympic host site. Welch and another person were indicted last year on bribery charges for allegedly plying International Olympic Committee officials with $1 million in gifts, travel, cash and scholarships.
Smith Food sells milk in its own stores under two labels, Smith's and Mountain Dairy. The latter is also shipped to stores in another Kroger division, Fred Meyer, in select states.