Meijer has found that going local is good for its business. So good, in fact, the Grand Rapids-based chain is expanding its 'Made in Michigan' initiative to add 55 new grocery products manufactured in the state.
"Meijer is committed to supporting Michigan businesses, and the Made in Michigan initiative is a great opportunity to highlight some fantastic small businesses throughout the state," Doug Meijer, co-chairman of the family owned chain, said in a statement. "The response we received from our customers last year about this initiative was overwhelming, which is why we decided to further invest and expand this selection into all our Michigan stores."
The supercenter operator first launched 'Made in Michigan' in January 2012 in an attempt to support small businesses in its home state. The company initially offered 49 local grocery items for sale in 33 of its stores. The resulting impact on the state economy was $400,000.
Meijer worked with the Michigan State University Product Center to expand the program, which will have the products prominently featured at all of the chain's 102 stores in Michigan.
"It's been a fantastic opportunity for all Michigan businesses to have this local section at Meijer; many of them see amazing results," said Matt Birbeck, High Impact Venture Action Team project manager for the MSU Product Center. "Now that it's in every Michigan Meijer store, everybody gets to see and taste the diversity of this great state."
Tarek Abouljoud, one of the local suppliers to Meijer, first started Teta Foods, a company specializing in healthy Mediterranean foods, after losing his job in 2010.
"The biggest challenge that small food manufacturers face is reaching the inflection point where they become a well-recognized and successful company with a great brand," said Mr. Abouljoud. "We believe this is going to be the turning point for our company in becoming a great Michigan business success story. We are grateful to have Meijer as part of our success story."
How important is a clear commitment to local products in how consumers feel about a given retail store?