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Kroger Introduces Fresh, Local Supplier Accelerator

Specialty Food Association

The Kroger Co. has launched the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, a new program inviting U.S. growers and producers to apply for the opportunity to work with the retailer. Sponsored by Gourmet Foods International, the program will enable Kroger to discover new suppliers to support the continued expansion of its fresh departments, which include produce, deli, bakery, meat, seafood, dairy, specialty cheeses, and floral.

Through May 31, suppliers can apply to join the Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, which will be held in Cincinnati in August. Kroger's category management and fresh director team will review applications in multiple rounds, selecting 15 finalists (one finalist per region, per category) to attend the event. All finalists will present to a panel of judges during a pitch session, with one overall winner selected from each region.

The prize package for the five overall winners includes product placement on shelf within Kroger's Family of Companies; recommended partnerships with Gourmet Foods International; and business development coaching from Kroger merchandising and sales leaders as well as PearlRock Partners CEO Brian Kelley, a 30-year consumer product industry veteran and former president of Keurig Green Mountain and Coca-Cola Refreshments.

"At Kroger, our Fresh for Everyone mission is anchored in consistently and creatively providing fresh and affordable food to our customers," said Dan De La Rosa, Kroger's group vice president of fresh merchandising, in a statement. "We're dedicated to fostering innovation and investing in local, regional, and small businesses that make the best of food accessible to all. Our first Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator is an extension of our commitment and we're eager to invite suppliers of every size to participate, providing the potential to grow our businesses together."

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Image: The Kroger Co.