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Chicago-area supermarket chain Mariano’s Fresh Market is entering into a partnership with the Italian Trade Agency to bring products from southern Italy to its stores.
Mariano’s, owned by Milwaukee-based Roundy’s Supermarkets, could enter into similar arrangements with other countries as a way to boost differentiation from competitors by increasing its selection of specialty foods.
“This will serve as a template for us to work with other countries,” Robert Mariano, Roundy’s president and CEO, told the Chicago Tribune. Mariano, whose grandparents moved from Italy to the U.S., said his company could strike deals with other nations such as Canada, France and Germany.
The Italian Table
Mariano’s already promotes specialty foods, calling out international sections with flags, shelf tags and other aisle designations. The new deal would allow Mariano’s to offer exclusive products, like Agromonte tomato sauce from Sicily and Lauretana water, which are already available at the chain’s stores, the Tribune reported.
The grocer’s partnership with the Italian Trade Agency is being called La Tavola Italiana, which translates as “the Italian table.” The agency promotes Italian companies internationally, and its Chicago office works to secure placement of authentic Italian food and wines at grocery retailers. The agency also has worked on promotions with Texas-based HEB and Northeastern cooperative Wakefern, which operates supermarkets under the ShopRite banner.
Mariano told the Tribune that his company now receives several containers of products from Italy each month, compared to fewer than one every other month a year ago. Some of the products, such as panettone (an Italian sweet bread) and bottled water, are also being sold at Roundy’s stores in Wisconsin, where the company operates its Pick ‘n Save banner.