The Kroger Co. on Wednesday announced the second year of its Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, a program designed to enhance and accelerate the selection of local items sold in Kroger stores. The country’s largest supermarket operator, Cincinnati-based Kroger operates more than 2,700 stores throughout the United States.
The Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator program provides a pathway to entry for local businesses of all sizes by allowing American-based growers and producers the chance to work directly with the retailer, according to Kroger.
Starting Wed., May 4, and through May 23, 2022, at 11:59 PM PDT, suppliers can apply to be considered for the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, a two-day event held in Cincinnati in August. In collaboration with ECRM and RangeMe, Kroger's category management and fresh director team will review applications in multiple rounds, selecting 30 finalists to attend the event. Finalists will be given the opportunity to show off their products and interact with category managers, leaders and entrepreneurs at various stages throughout the selection process. The Top 15 finalists will be invited to present to a panel of Kroger executives where five winners will be named. The prize package for those winners includes product placement on Kroger shelves; recommended partnerships with sponsors; and business development coaching from Kroger merchandising and sales leaders.
“Kroger is fully committed to supporting a diverse group of innovative, local suppliers who can bring a great assortment of fresh products to our customers,” said Stuart Aitken, Kroger's chief merchant and marketing officer. “Kroger committed to investing $10 billion in diverse suppliers by 2030, and the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator is a successful way to catapult Kroger closer to that goal. We are excited to meet this year's suppliers who will help us advance our commitment to fresh in our nearly 2,800 stores."
Growers and producers are invited to apply to the following categories:
Located in-state or the immediate market;
Community-inspired and locally relevant items;
Merchandised in less than approximately 100 stores.
Cross state and division boundaries;
Still locally relevant to customers;
Merchandised in approximately 100 or more stores.
"Last year, the Go Fresh and Local cohort brought fresh ideas and innovative new products to the table that blew our judges away," said Dan De La Rosa, Kroger's group vice president of fresh merchandising. "Every single one of last year's cohort has now seen their products on Kroger shelves, helping us bring the tastes and flavors our customers love straight to local stores. We look forward to building on last year's success and are excited to bring in new suppliers to participate in the opportunity to join the Kroger family."
To apply and learn more about the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, interested producers can visit TheKrogerCo.com/GoFreshLocal.
“As a member of the Billon Dollar Roundtable, we see the importance in partnering with many small, regional and diverse businesses in creative ways to enable the freshest, highest-quality food,” said De La Rosa. “We do this by investing in incubators, expanding relationships with existing partners, hosting and participating in supplier accelerators much like this one, and through partnerships with leading organizations like the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.”
He continued, “Through the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, we look forward to using this platform to discover new U.S.-based small- and diverse-business enterprises to bring Fresh local and regional products to our shelves.”