Supermarket partnerships with well-respected, locally owned artisan bakeries can help elevate the quality of the grocers’ bakery offerings and boost their connections with the community.
For many chains, partnering with local bakeries allows individual stores to tailor their offerings to the particular preferences of their customer bases, whether that means offering fresh baguettes from a well-known bakery across town or rounds of rye from a bakery elsewhere in the region that has a strong reputation.
At Parsippany, N.J.-based Kings Food Markets, for example, individual store managers in the 25-store chain can select from a list of approved items supplied by local bakeries, most of which are based in New York City.
“We leave it open to the stores to select what they will offer, based on what consumers are asking for, and what they think they can sell,” says Michael Batta, director of bakery sales and merchandising at Kings.
In addition to partnerships with New York City bakeries Eli Zabar, Grandaisy Bakery, Tom Cat Bakery and Balthazar, Kings also sources product from some well-known bakeries in New Jersey, including Anthony & Sons; Calandra’s Bakery; and Pechter’s Baking Co., a Harrison-based enterprise known for its rye breads; and from Bread Alone, a café chain based in Lake Katrine, N.Y., that also supplies Fairway, Whole Foods Market and others.
“These are some nice local bakeries that do very well for us,” says Batta.
Kings uses a third-party distributor that picks up bread from the bakeries very early in the morning and then distributes the product starting at about 6 a.m. to the Kings locations in New Jersey and to some of the Balducci’s locations that are managed by Kings.
Kings, which is known for its upscale presentations and high-quality product offerings, also has an in-store frozen, par-baked bread program, which it tends to promote in its ads, leaving the more upscale bread offerings at full price.
“First and foremost, it is about quality — being able to offer a quality product that we might not be able to produce at store level,” says Batta. “We are offering unique items that otherwise we might not be able to offer, and that people in New Jersey might not be able to get at their local store.”
At Northwest Grocers, a Seattle-based network supporting independently owned supermarkets in the region, partnering with local bakeries also helps the operators provide a high-quality product that has local appeal.
“People like being able to buy fresh, local product,” says Cheryl Smith, deli/bakery merchandiser at Northwest Grocers, which includes stores under the Thriftway, Red Apple, IGA and other banners. “Especially here in the Northwest, people really look for local products.”
Individual store managers have the autonomy to decide which products they carry, selecting from a range of items offered by such well-known Seattle bakeries as Alaska Silk Pie Co., Schwartz Brothers Bakery and Alki Bakery.
Some stores are supplied directly by the bakeries themselves, and others through the wholesale warehouse. The individual stores can also promote their local bakery offerings in the ad circular and though other channels. The West Seattle Thriftway, for example, on its website touts its partnerships with The Essential Baking Co., a Seattle-based organic specialist, and Macrina Bakery, also based in Seattle, in addition to its offerings from Schwartz Brothers and Alki.
“It is a pleasure doing business with the local bakeries,” says Smith. “They do a great job supporting us at our open-house holiday events and sampling events. They are always happy to promote their own business.”
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