Meijer ‘Plants’ More Than $60 Million Into Local Economies by Sourcing Fruits and Vegetables From Area Farmers
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., July 26 /PRNewswire/ — Midwest grocer Meijer, which began by selling locally produced foods from area farmers, is substantially expanding its commitment to home grown fruits and vegetables by 20% this year, it was announced today by Mark Stevenson, produce director at the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based supercenter chain.
Meijer’s “Home Grown” initiative of sourcing fruits and vegetables from local producers has grown considerably the past five years to include more than 75 Midwest farms and farmers. In total, Meijer expects to pump more than $60 million into local economies through its program of partnering with farms throughout Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky, up from $50 million last year.
“Our roots go back 76 years to when we would sell the freshest foods from local farmers,” said Stevenson. “Today, we continue that commitment to working hand-in-hand with local farmers to offer the freshest and most delicious produce from neighboring farms. We’ll be sourcing considerably more locally grown items from neighboring farms this year. It’s good business for them, and is a tremendous benefit to local economies, the environment and our shoppers.”
Currently, Meijer is one of the largest buyers of locally grown produce in its five-state region. The company states that local produce accounts for nearly 27% of all the fruits and vegetables sold throughout the 195-store supercenter chain during the peak growing season.
More than 75 different fruits and vegetables are sourced from area farmers and sold at Meijer stores throughout the Midwest. Nearly half of the growers Meijer supports through its “Home Grown” program deliver their fresh fruit and vegetables directly to individual stores.
“With ‘just-picked’ fruits and vegetables arriving daily to our stores, we like to think that we provide our shoppers with a farmer’s market experience,” said Stevenson. “We’re not only putting money in local farmers’ pockets, but we help bring farm-fresh, local produce straight to the tables of our shoppers. And there’s nothing quite like farm-fresh food from the Midwest.”
Whether it’s cabbage from E. Miedema in Benton Harbor, MI; honeyrock melons from Frey Farms in Indiana; green beans from Michael Farms in Urbana, Ohio; or blueberries from Midwest Blueberry Farms in Holland, MI; Meijer’s commitment to local farmers was first planted in 1934 when Hendrik Meijer took delivery of local, farm-fresh eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables for his newly opened grocery store in Greenville, Michigan. Last year alone, Meijer sold more than 20 million pounds of apples from Michigan.
“What makes our sourcing of local produce different is the fact that we strive to work directly with local growers to purchase locally grown products,” said Stevenson. “Our produce teams meet with the farmers, inspect every item that is delivered to our doors and work with the local farms to ensure that it’s a relationship beneficial to all.”
Last year, the grocer contracted with 65 local farms and farmers. This year, it is working with 10 additional local suppliers. Throughout the year, Meijer’s produce buyers are working with local growers to source an even greater number of locally grown products that traditionally are purchased from California or internationally.
Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer that operates 195 stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. As the inventor of the “one-stop shopping” concept, Meijer stores have evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, comprehensive electronics departments, garden centers and apparel offerings. Additional information on Meijer and the ability to shop for more can be found at www.meijer.com.