For the second year in a row, the nation’s oldest grocery chain invited local and regional growers and producers to apply to be part of a program to bring more, and more diverse, items to its shelves. Kroger’s Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator, which launched in 2021, reflects the grocery chain’s wider efforts to expand the fresh offerings shelved in departments across its stores. In a press release, Kroger anticipated that the accelerator program would help “catapult” the company toward its goal of investing $10 billion in diverse suppliers by 2030. In response, accelerator hopefuls had to submit their applications by May 23, and then 30 finalists would be chosen to participate in a two-day bakeoff in August. Of these, five winners would see their products go up for sale in Kroger’s nearly 2,800 stores. Last year’s winners included Maazah, a woman-owned chutney brand; Simply Southern Sides, a Black- and woman-owned spice and seasoning kit business; and Soupergirl, a woman-owned business making heat-and-serve soups and chilis. Hungry for more? Well, a good idea is an idea worth borrowing, and in February, Whole Foods announced it was launching an accelerator program of its own.

Source: George Anderson, “Kroger Wants to Accelerate Its Go Fresh and Go Local Push,” Retail Wire, May 6, 2022; “Kroger Announces Second Year of Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator,” ir.kroger.com, May 4, 2022; Catherine Douglas Moran, “Kroger Pilots a Digital Farmers Market in Atlanta,” Grocery Dive, June 3, 2022; Melissa De Leon Chavez, “Kroger Announces Winning Brands of 2021 Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator,” Deli Market News, August 13, 2021; PYMNTS, “Whole Foods Launches Accelerator as Grocers Compete for Shoppers,” PYMNTS.com, March 1, 2022