As some companies say goodbye to smaller, specialty suppliers, companies like Kroger Co are seeing dollar signs. Through a newly-launched webiste program called Kroger.Com/WeAreLocal, the retailer plans to welcome emerging and local brands into the Kroger family.
"Kroger has always had a commitment to supporting small-business owners and local vendors," explained Executive VP of Merchandising Mike Donnelly. "Our business has a track record of successfully blending centralized and decentralized decision making to promote local products while also enjoying economies of scale. Since Kroger's day one, we have had a longstanding, 365-day-a-year commitment to support and source from local farmers, ranchers, food producers, wineries, breweries, and product makers. There are tastes and products that are unique to every region."
The site launched Friday, September 22, right on the heels of Whole Foods' announcment that it would be backing away from its traditional small brand buying tactics into a more centralized, corporate strategy for choosing what products end up in store.
Kroger said in a press release that it recognizes the importance of carrying local and regional brands that are meaningful to the nearly nine million customers served in its family of stores daily, adding that it currently sources from thousands of local suppliers.
"Kroger has led the way for over a decade in making local, natural, and organic products more affordable and accessible to America–especially for shoppers on a budget," added Donnelly. "We've always believed that our customers shouldn't have to pay higher prices just because a product is local, natural, or organic. There are a lot of headlines about making local, natural, and organic foods more affordable. The truth is, we've always been affordable. That's why we developed our Simple Truth brand, which today is the biggest natural and organic brand in the country by volume."
The retailer cited a number of benefits of promoting and sourcing local brands. In addition to expanding its product portfolio, stimulating the local economy, and enhancing product freshness, Kroger said the buying method supports its sustainability commitments like the recently-launched Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative.