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Meijer and the Michigan State University Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources are teaming up to strengthen the state’s economy by supporting Michigan small businesses through a “Made in Michigan” initiative slated to launch in select Meijer stores later this month.
“Meijer is always pleased to support Michigan businesses,” said Meijer Co-Chairman and CEO Hank Meijer. “Also, there is tremendous interest from our customers to buy local and to support local businesses. That is why we continuously increase the amount of products we purchase from local suppliers and companies. This partnership with the MSU Product Center presents a great opportunity to enhance our selection of Michigan made products and produce, further making Meijer the place for one-stop shopping.”
The Made in Michigan initiative will launch the week of Jan. 29 when 49 new grocery items – including marinara sauce, blueberry butter, gluten-free baking mixes and gourmet seasoning – fill designated areas within 33 Meijer stores from Grand Rapids to metro Detroit, and Gaylord to Ann Arbor. These new items will join dozens of other Michigan products available throughout the store, including locally grown produce.
The initiative is expected to be an ongoing feature within the supercenter chain retailer, and is expected to have a $400,000 economic impact statewide, said Matt Birbeck, High Impact Venture Action Team project manager for the MSU Product Center.
“Working with Meijer to implement a dedicated Michigan section for its customers is a win-win situation for everybody,” Birbeck said. “MSU Product Center clients have a unique opportunity to be seen on a larger scale and increasing the selection of fantastic Michigan products at Meijer. Customers can truly buy local in their neighborhood Meijer stores.”
Meijer worked with the MSU Product Center for about a year to bring the project to fruition. Meijer selected 22 Michigan vendors to participate in the inaugural launch with the help from the center to ensure all the suppliers had the right food protocols and supply chain procedures. The items are expected to remain on the shelves for a year, and will have an opportunity to branch out chain-wide. The Michigan items will further be promoted to Meijer customers in weekly ads.
The opportunity to work with Meijer fits the mission at Food for Thought, said Tim Young, president and chef. Meijer will carry the Honor, Mich.-based business’s line of low-sugar premium tart cherry and cherry-raspberry preserves, organic cherry honey mustard, salsas and organic fruit juice.
“Our mission requires us to source, produce and distribute locally first,” Young said. “Therefore, the Meijer commitment to offer more shelf space to Michigan-made products opens up an opportunity for small food artisans like myself.”
The MSU Product Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources was established in spring 2003 with funds from the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and Michigan State University Extension to improve economic opportunities in the Michigan agriculture, food and natural resource sectors.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer Inc. operates 197 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.