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Under the agreement, KeHE will provide NCG’s 148 member co-ops with an alternate source for natural, organic, specialty and fresh products.

KeHE Distributors partners with National Co+op Grocers

Supplementary supply deal bolsters retail food cooperative service provider

KeHE Distributors has inked a national secondary distribution pact with National Co+op Grocers (NCG), a business services cooperative for retail food co-ops across the United States.

Under the agreement, KeHE will provide NCG’s 148 member co-ops with an alternate source for natural, organic, specialty and fresh products. NCG’s co-ops operate more than 200 storefronts in 39 states and have combined annual sales of nearly $2.1 billion.

Naperville, Ill.-based KeHE described the deal as a “first-of-its-kind supplementary supply agreement” and said it will reinforce NCG’s supply chain capability. 

An employee-owned, B Corp-certified company, KeHE supplies natural food stores, supermarket chains, independent grocery stores and other specialty retailers across North America through its 15 distribution centers.

“Our partnership with KeHE will support new growth opportunities for our members and secure an alternative source of supply to support high in-stock levels,” C.E. Pugh, CEO of National Co+op Grocers, said in a statement. “KeHE has demonstrated the ability to enable independent natural retailers of all sizes to thrive and grow, and our members are excited to have access to KeHE’s support and portfolio of unique, innovative and regional items.”

With more than 1.3 million consumer-owners, St. Paul, Minn.-based NCG brings together food co-ops to create more scale that optimizes their operational and marketing resources, bolsters their purchasing power and, in turn, enables them to offer more value to natural food co-op owners and shoppers.

“Since its founding 21 years ago, NCG has been a pioneer in the natural food industry and a leader in natural food retailing,” stateed Brandon Barnholt, CEO of KeHE Distributors. “Our companies are both B Corps and share many of the same values, including a commitment to serve customers and feed communities across the nation. We are honored NCG has chosen KeHE to help them build on their success.”

Over the past couple of years, KeHE has steadily expanded its client roster. In February, the company landed a four-year primary distribution pact with Northwest Grocers (NWG), which provides advertising, marketing, merchandising and other services to independent grocery retailers in the Pacific Northwest. Last October, KeHE expanded its partnership The Save Mart Cos., becoming its primary distributor for perimeter categories and renewing its natural, organic and specialty product distribution pact with the grocer. And in September 2019, KeHE entered into a primary wholesale deal with better-for-you grocery chain MOM’s Organic Market.

In June 2019, KeHE was named as the primary U.S. wholesaler of the Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA) cooperative, and that February Albertsons Cos. renewed its supply agreement with KeHE as its primary wholesaler for natural, organic and specialty products. The previous year, KeHe added online natural/organic grocer Thrive Market as a primary distribution customer and renewed its distribution pact with Sprouts Farmers Market through 2025.

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