The Kroger Co. has launched a Small Business Resource Guide to as part of its efforts to promote more diversity in its base of suppliers.
Kroger said its Small Business Resource Guide, released Friday, aims to help brands and producers build and grow their retail partnerships. The free, downloadable resource includes best practices on product development, pricing, supply chain, promotion, research and preparation, outreach and partnership development.
Last year, Cincinnati-based Kroger introduced 107 new diverse suppliers, up 91% from 2019. The retailer noted that, of those suppliers, five played a key role in supplying Kroger with personal protective equipment (PPE) during the apex of the COVID-19 crisis.
Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Kroger, reported that the company continues to progress toward its goal of $10 billion in diverse supplier spend by 2030, totaling $4.1 billion in 2020, a year-over-year gain of 21%.
“We remain committed to doing the work to advance our longstanding and nationally recognized supplier-inclusion program, reflecting partnerships with entrepreneurs of color, women and veterans, as well as companies founded by the LGBTQ+ community and business operators with intellectual and physical disabilities,” McMullen said in a statement. “Greater racial, gender, health and wealth equity will drive true and long-lasting change and better outcomes in our country. And as America’s grocer, we’re honored to play a role in driving this change as an employer, grocery provider and community partner.”
The Small Business Resource Guide falls under Kroger’s “Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” plan, developed in collaboration with associates and leaders to spur change in the workplace and in the communities that the company serves. Via its supplier inclusion program, Kroger supports, mentors, promotes and cultivates diverse-owned enterprises across its operations.
“We currently work with more than 1,600 diverse suppliers, ranging from food and beverage to health and beauty and product distributors to service providers. As a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable, we continue to partner with diverse businesses in innovative ways, including by investing in incubators and accelerators, expanding relationships with existing partners, hosting and participating in supplier summits, and through partnerships with leading certifying agencies,” according to Angel Colón, senior director of corporate and supplier diversity at Kroger.
“We believe our recently published Small Business Resource Guide, featuring partnership success spotlights from companies like Cacique, 4Sisters Rice, TrueChoicePack and True Shea, will be a useful tool for many companies and help us as we continue to seek out new partners and expand existing relationships,” Colón added.
Earlier this year, Kroger hosted its third annual Supplier Inclusion Innovation Summit. Before the event, the retailer’s supplier inclusion and category leadership teams — in tandem with certifying agencies like the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, National Veteran Business Development Council and U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce — reviewed hundreds of applicants and invited 25 suppliers to attend. Participants received coaching from Kroger merchandising, business development and supplier inclusion leaders, as well as the opportunity to pitch their products.
Also at the summit, Kroger announced various award winners, including Admiralty Island Fisheries for the Sustainable Business Award of the Year, DeeBee’s Organics for the New Vendor Award, and Kroger category manager Diana Krauser for the Supplier Inclusion Advocate of the Year.
Kroger added that it recently joined Procter & Gamble and MORTAR, a Cincinnati-based accelerator focusing on historically marginalized entrepreneurs, to pilot the Multicultural Entrepreneurship Development program. The multi-month program kicked off last month and runs through the summer.
“Kroger is elated to welcome, share insights and present an industry-leading business development curriculum, as well as learn from the inaugural cohort of 13 local entrepreneurs,” stated Tim Massa, chief people officer at Kroger. “Stronger diverse businesses create stronger communities and produce greater innovation and collaboration. At Kroger, we remain focused on continuing to grow our business to better serve our associates and customers, so it’s imperative that we continue to find new ways to listen and learn, uplift other businesses, and bring in additional perspectives and products.”