The Kroger Mid-Atlantic division, which includes 122 stores in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, this week announced that it is ramping up its efforts to stock locally grown produce.
In our neck of the woods (Roanoke and New River valleys; Alleghany Highlands), that means we can buy fruits and veggies grown by Layman Family Farms in Blue Ridge. Farmer Eric Layman said he is currently selling peaches, summer squash and zucchini to Kroger, and when tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and fall apples are in season he may provide those items.
To be clear, this is not the first time Kroger has stocked local produce. Layman said he has been dealing with Kroger for about four years. But York said the company is trying to increase these efforts and is improving signage that will help customers find local products.
York also said the pricing of local produce will be handled the same way pricing of other grocery items is done, taking into account what they pay for the product and what they need to sell it for to make a profit. Some of this local produce might be cheaper because it costs less to transport it from farm to store.
To find this produce in your local Kroger store, look for special signage that indicates it was grown locally. York said they also have signage that “calls out” their local producers. Also, take a look at the weekly Kroger sales ad, which should include more information about what locally grown produce is available at that time.
Proponents of the slow food movement will no doubt rejoice when they hear this news. It costs a lot for a small, independent farmer to grow, market/advertise and sell their goods, which often accounts for slightly higher prices at the farmers market. Layman confirmed that when a big company such as Kroger takes on the marketing and advertising, the local farmer can concentrate on what he or she does best: growing food.
“We’re always excited to deal with Kroger,” Layman said. “It’s not many places around here that you can sell 700 boxes of peaches to in a day.”
This announcement makes me realize that I need to check around at other grocery stores and see whether they sell locally grown produce and if so, how much do they sell and where exactly is it coming from. I’ll be working to answer those questions for you guys. Meanwhile, if you’ve seen local produce in a grocery store around Southwest Virginia, please feel free to leave a comment and let us all know.