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In a bid to boost local economies throughout the Midwest by purchasing even more fresh produce from local farmers, Meijer, Inc. is expanding its sourcing of local produce with an increased emphasis on homegrown fruits and vegetables.
“Meijer has always been one of the largest purchasers of locally grown fruits and vegetables during the peak growing seasons,” said Hank Meijer, co-chairman and CEO of the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based family-held chain. “This year we plan to expand our Home Grown initiative by working with more than 65 local growers throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.”
With more than 75 locally grown fruits and vegetables in its produce procurement pipeline, Meijer’s homegrown campaign pumps more than $50 million into local economies. What’s more, nearly half of Meijer’s growers deliver fresh fruits and vegetables directly to the supercenter retailer’s stores throughout the Midwest.
Meijer’s locally sourced produce accounts for nearly 30 percent of all of the fruits and vegetables sold by the 189-store retailer during peak growing season. The grocer will back the expanded campaign with several in-store events celebrating its “Home Grown” commitment.
“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 Mark Stevenson, Meijer’s produce director. “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 alone, the grocer sold more than 20 million pounds of apples from its home state. It also sold more than 9 million ears of homegrown sweet corn and 1 million pounds of Michigan asparagus. Also last year, Meijer purchased more than 45 million pounds of locally grown potatoes.
“So much of what we do is aimed at giving back to our local communities through our philanthropy programs and community outreach efforts,” said Hank Meijer, noting that the chain’s Home Grown program is a dynamic part of that effort. “By sourcing from local farms and farmers, we not only help put money in local farmers’ pockets, but we [also] help bring their farm-fresh, local produce straight to the tables of neighboring families so that they can enjoy the local bounty.”