EDISON, N.J. — Wakefern Food Corp.  is pleased with the way its new ShopRite blog site, blog.shoprite.com  has helped the company connect with Internet foodies and raise the profile of their ShopRite private label brand, officials told SN.
The company, which supplies more than 230 ShopRite banner stores in six states, has hundreds of private label products — including eggs, milk, fresh pasta and deli items — that consumers may not know about.
“We thought it would be a good way to familiarize people with the many private label products we have,” said Liz Loeb, Wakefern's corporate communications manager.
“So we recruited a panel of bloggers. We send them a box of products each month and ask them to create recipes, using the products as ingredients. If there's a perishable product we want them to use, we send them a gift card which they can use to get the product at their local ShopRite,” Loeb said.
The process of developing the blog began with a planning team, which had its members go out and read any blogs they could find that focused on food.
Then, they chose 12 bloggers who represented market areas in which ShopRite stores are located.
“First we did some research, talked to the bloggers, asked if they were ShopRite shoppers. Most recently, we took them all on a tour of different ShopRite stores,” Loeb said.
Now, these food writers are regularly creating original online content featuring ShopRite's private label products.
“We named the blog site Pot Luck because everybody brings something different to it,” Loeb said.
This month, Wakefern sent the bloggers ShopRite brand kosher products, as well as a gift certificate to buy ShopRite eggs.
“Our idea was to get them to create some recipes using hard-boiled eggs. Because, what do you do with all those colored boiled eggs when Easter day is over?” Loeb asked rhetorically.
SN had a chance to talk to some of the bloggers about their experience working with Wakefern and ShopRite
Deborah Smith, a New Jersey resident, said she had already had a working relationship with ShopRite through her own blog, Jersey Bites.
“I've worked with them on ShopRite Partners in Caring, which helps to raise funds for local food banks.”
Smith said that one of the favorite recipes she has created for the ShopRite blog, was one she created with ShopRite's private label refrigerated pasta, shrimp and fresh cherry tomatoes. And one of her favorite products is a new ShopRite imported basting oil.
“I might never have tried it, had they not sent it to me,” she said.
Another blogger, Keeley Powell, also mentioned the basting oil. She created a white pizza with bacon and seasoned it with the herbed basting oil. Powell also had praise for ShopRite brand, refrigerated mini cheese ravioli.
“We love getting this box of food each month. It forces me to be creative,” said Powell.
Emily Malloy, who had been blogging for two years when Wakefern contacted her, said it's a good and productive relationship.
“I love doing this because it's a challenge to come up with something different. I don't want to give them just a standard recipe.”
Loeb said recently she took the 12 bloggers on a road trip, introducing them to different ShopRite stores.
“Each store can be a little different because they're owned by different people,” Loeb said. “But at all of them, the panelists were impressed. We could point out services that they didn't know were offered.
“They didn't know, for instance, that ShopRite seafood departments would debone fish, and even cook fish and shrimp for customers.”
Powell said she discovered two items in the meat department that she hadn't been familiar with — chicken rubbed with curry and chicken marinated in jerk seasonings in the store.
“We showed the bloggers things they didn't know, and they could tell their readers,” Loeb said. “They mention their own blogs on our site and mention our site on their own personal blogs. It's a good way to communicate what we have, and customers tell us they appreciate it.”
Visitors to blog.shoprite.com  are invited to comment.
“We do get a lot of comments from ShopRite customers about the site, but most of the comments are made through our Facebook or twitter,” Loeb said.