Local is firmly engrained in the collective consciousness of Boise, Idaho-based retail giant Albertsons.
“We know that buying locally sourced and grown products is very important to our customers, so it’s important to us and is a key initiative in all areas of our store,” says Kris Staaf, Albertsons’ director of public affairs. “Driving loyalty through local offerings is a key initiative in all areas of our stores.”
Albertsons’ Safeway Denver Division has supported local growers for more than 60 years. The division partners with local ranchers, famers and producers throughout Colorado and the states surrounding it. During the prime summer growing season, the company works especially hard to highlight local produce growers as our customers really like to support their local farmers.
“Sharing stories of our local partners has become an important way to communicate with our customers,” Staaf says. “Local extends much broader than fresh meat and produce. We also actively search the market looking for innovative, locally produced items through the entire store. It’s really about supporting the communities that support us.”
As a retailer, Staaf says it’s incredible to hear the stories of hard work, success, and obstacles that growers navigate each season and their dedication to providing its stores with the finest, freshest products. Featuring those families in its POS materials and advertising really puts them front and center before Albertsons’ customers.
“We’ve incorporated local growers into community events and store events to interact with customers,” Staaf says. “Imagine the look on a customer’s face when they realize the person merchandizing the cantaloupe display and answering questions is the actual grower from Hirakata Farms in Colorado.”
Albertsons also brings in ranchers from around the country with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to tour its stores and see how the company markets local beef. Staaf says Albertsons is always looking for unique ways to show “farm to fork” within its stores and to engage its customers. And the company’s Denver division recently renewed its commitment to supporting local with the launch of major initiatives.
One was changing its beef program to only sell Colorado Angus Choice Beef. In another, company-wide initiative, Albertsons added thousands of local products to its grocery aisles.
Albertsons has taken local to a new level in recent years with its commitment to “hyper local” programs, Staaf says.
“We now feature local growers that are specific to a store’s region and showcase them within the store. We share stories of our local growers through POS, displays and stores events. Customers like to put a name and face to a product and they feel good about supporting the local producer.”
For Albertsons, “local” goes beyond the products the company sells and the local growers and ranchers it supports, Staaf says. It’s about knowing your communities, being close to the stores that you manage, and supporting causes and groups that are important to your customers.
For example, Staaf says Albertsons is proud to support the Colorado region’s top college and university football teams. Through partnerships with local schools, the company has a great opportunity to sample local products to fans, things like stadium signage, community events and even a locally-produced, college-specific ice cream to support a local rivalry (the University of Colorado and Colorado State University).
In addition to the University of Colorado and Colorado State, Albertsons has partnerships with the Air Force Academy, the University of Denver and the University of Wyoming. A portion of all sales from local promotions go back to each school.
A commitment to local can be seen throughout the Albertsons family of retail chains. In the Chicago area, Jewel-Osco has long supported locally grown and produced foods in its bid to represent the region, says Jewel-Osco sales manager Jim Seidler.
“We regularly showcase our locally grown produce during the summer months and during our annual Black History month celebration in January,” he says. “Many of our local African American vendors participate by handing out samples to Jewel-Osco customers in a number of our stores.”
Jewel-Osco’s commitment to local dates back more than 20 years, Seidler says. Customers can now typically find hundreds of locally produced items instore that are identified with tags, signage and advertised events.
That said, the chain must always find a balance between locally and nationally sourced items, Seidler says.
“Customer demand has prompted more locally manufactured items. However we will always carry thousands of nationally manufactured items.”