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Supercenter chain Meijer is expanding its commitment to home-grown fruits and vegetables by 20 percent this year.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer’s “Home Grown” initiative of sourcing fruits and vegetables from local producers has grown in the past five years to include more than 75 Midwestern farms and farmers. In all, Meijer expects to pump more than $60 million into local economies through its program of teaming 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 Mark Stevenson, Meijer produce director. “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 reports that local produce accounts for nearly 27 percent of all fruits and vegetables sold throughout the 195-store supercenter chain during the peak growing season.
More than 75 varieties of fruits and vegetables are sourced from area farmers and sold at Meijer stores throughout the Midwest. Nearly half of the growers the company supports through the Home Grown program deliver their fresh fruit and vegetables directly to individual stores.
Last year alone, when the grocer contracted with 65 local farms, Meijer sold over 20 million pounds of apples from Michigan. “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,” said Stevenson.