Earlier this year, Kroger invited producers and growers to participate in its first Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator as it looks to broaden its supplier network. Now, the retailer has pulled back the curtain on its inaugural cohort, adding five beloved brands to its portfolio.
"Kroger's Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator has allowed us to identify additional growers, producers, and suppliers across regions, categories, and verticals—helping us diversify our product offering and our supplier relationships and create new ways for small businesses to partner with the largest grocer in America," said Stuart Aitken, Kroger's Chief Merchant and Marketing Officer. "Just last year, Kroger invested $4.1 billion in diverse suppliers—a 21 percent increase versus the previous year—and we aim to scale that number to $10 billion by 2030. This year's inaugural cohort is an intentional and impactful step toward achieving that bold goal."
The 2021 Go Fresh & Local Accelerator Winners include:
According to a company release, Kroger reviewed over 1,000 applications in collaboration with Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing and RangeMe, selecting 15 finalists to participate in a pitch competition in Cincinnati, Ohio. This competition was judged by Milen Mahadevan, President of 84.51°; Valerie Jabbar, Senior Vice President of Retail Divisions at Kroger; Nick Tranchina, President of Murray's Cheese; Patrick Vihtelic, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Home Chef; Dan De La Rosa, Group Vice President of Fresh Merchandising at Kroger; and Brian Kelley, Chief Executive Officer of PearlRock Partners.
During the event, finalists were grouped by region, and each business presented a 10-minute pitch and samples to the judging panel. The judges were then invited to ask questions to explore the brands and their founders, and then narrowed the list down to this year’s winning brands.
"We invented the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator to discover the best, most innovative, and freshest local and regional products—and our group of winners is just that," said De La Rosa. "We are proud to partner with these extraordinary suppliers to bring exciting new products to our stores across the country and introduce customers to more locally made favorites."
The cohort’s products will hit Kroger’s shelves by Q1 of 2022, and each member will receive business development coaching and collaboration opportunities to help expand their business. Details for the 2022 Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator are expected to be announced early next year.
As more retailers look to diversify their network of successful suppliers, what new strategies will pop up next? Keep reading Deli Market News as we report.