CINCINNATI, May 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) today announced notable progress and new initiatives – including the launch of its Small Business Resource Guide – as part of its Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan, featuring steps developed in collaboration with associates and leaders to accelerate and promote greater change in the workplace and in the communities the organization serves.
"In 2020, Kroger achieved $4.1 billion in diverse supplier spend, representing an increase of 21% versus a year ago and build on our commitment to reach $10 billion in diverse supplier spend by 2030. We remain committed to doing the work to advance our longstanding and nationally recognized supplier inclusion program, reflecting partnerships with entrepreneurs of color, women, and veterans as well as companies founded by the LGBTQ+ community and business operators with intellectual and physical disabilities," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "Greater racial, gender, health, and wealth equity will drive true and long-lasting change and better outcomes in our country. And as America's grocer, we're honored to play a role in driving this change as an employer, grocery provider, and community partner."
Last year, Kroger introduced 107 new diverse suppliers, a 91% increase versus 2019. Of these suppliers, five played a leading role in supplying Kroger personal protective equipment during the peak of the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Small Business Resource Guide In honor of National Small Business Week, today Kroger is publishing a Small Business Resource Guide developed to help brands and producers establish and grow retail partnerships. The free downloadable resource shares best practices on product development, pricing, supply chain, promotion, research and preparation, outreach, and partnership development.
"Through Kroger's supplier inclusion program, we support, mentor, promote, and grow diverse-owned enterprises across our thriving operation. We currently work with more than 1,600 diverse suppliers, ranging from food and beverage to health and beauty and product distributors to service providers," said Angel Colón, Kroger's senior director of corporate and supplier diversity. "As a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable, we continue to partner with diverse businesses in innovative ways, including by investing in incubators and accelerators, expanding relationships with existing partners, hosting and participating in supplier summits, and through partnerships with leading certifying agencies.
"We believe our recently published Small Business Resource Guide, featuring partnership success spotlights from companies like Cacique, 4Sisters Rice, TrueChoicePack, and True Shea, will be a useful tool for many companies and help us as we continue to seek out new partners and expand existing relationships," continued Colón.
Supplier Inclusion Innovation Summit As a part of Kroger's commitment to advance diverse partnerships, earlier this year the company hosted its 3rd annual Supplier Inclusion Innovation Summit. Prior to the event, Kroger's supplier inclusion and category leadership teams, alongside certifying agencies like the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Women's Business Enterprise National Council, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, National Veteran Business Development Council, and U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, reviewed hundreds of event applicants and invited 25 suppliers to attend. During the event, participants received coaching from Kroger merchandising, business development, and supplier inclusion leaders and the opportunity to pitch their products.
During the Summit, Kroger also announced winners for its Sustainable Business Award of the Year: Admiralty Island Fisheries, Inc.; New Vendor Award: DeeBee's Organics; and Supplier Inclusion Advocate of the Year: Kroger Category Manager Diana Krauser.
Multicultural Entrepreneurship Development Program Kroger has also recently joined P&G and MORTAR – a Cincinnati-based accelerator providing historically marginalized entrepreneurs access to resources to start and run successful businesses – to pilot the Multicultural Entrepreneurship Development program, focusing on enabling entrepreneurs to reach their fullest potential. The multi-month program launched last month and runs through the summer.
"Kroger is elated to welcome, share insights, and present industry-leading business development curriculum as well as learn from the inaugural cohort of 13 local entrepreneurs," said Tim Massa, Kroger's chief people officer. "Stronger diverse businesses create stronger communities and produces greater innovation and collaboration. At Kroger, we remain focused on continuing to grow our business to better serve our associates and customers, so it's imperative that we continue to find new ways to listen and learn, uplift other businesses, and bring in additional perspectives and products."
Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator Relatedly, later this month, Kroger will launch an open call inviting local and regional fresh food producers to participate in its search for new and innovative suppliers. Kroger will share more information about this event soon.
About Kroger At The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), we are dedicated to our Purpose: to Feed the Human Spirit™. We are nearly half a million associates who serve over nine million customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, serving America through food inspiration and uplift, and creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025. To learn more about us, visit our newsroom and investor relations site.