CINCINNATI — Kroger today hosted its first natural foods innovation summit in partnership with 84.51° with keynote speaker Joy Bauer, MS, RD, CDN.
“Kroger is proud of the role we've played in making natural and organic products more affordable and accessible to America,” said Jill McIntosh, Kroger's VP of natural foods. “This category was a $16 billion business for us in 2016, and today's company-produced expo is an innovation platform that allows us to continue to expand our natural foods product portfolio by partnering with emerging brands on micro and macro levels.”
Top trends in natural foods are holistic health, convenience and sustainability. Consumer insights show that customers are adopting a 360-degree approach to health-and-wellness, including greater consumption of natural foods to ward off illnesses. A growing number of customers are seeking healthier on-the-go snacks and meals, and nutritional drinks are increasingly becoming meal replacements.
Kroger just launched a new local supplier initiative to increase its local and regional supplier base. It’s a move that can expand its product portfolio for customers, and that also supports the company's sustainability commitments — including its Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative. Kroger also recently joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a membership-based collaborative of like-minded companies striving to advance sustainable packaging.
“Kroger is leading the way to redefine the food and grocery customer experience as one part of our Restock Plan announced yesterday in New York at our annual investor conference. Customer lifestyles are evolving, and as America's grocer, we understand the importance of carrying relevant products at affordable prices that are meaningful to the nearly nine million customers we serve daily in our family of stores,” McIntosh added.
Kroger plans to host these natural foods summits a few times per year, but will also be leveraging its new portal, Kroger.Com/WeAreLocal, to connect with potential local suppliers. The Natural Foods Innovation Summit is just part of a broader 13-point transformation initiative that the retailer announced this week, along with plans to exit the c-store and gas arena. Click here to read sister publication Drug Store News’ coverage.