Kroger’s trucks roll into food deserts

Discussion
Photo: Dare to Care Food Bank
Aug 19, 2019
Tom Ryan

Kroger has partnered to bring Zero Hunger Mobile Market — described as a “single-aisle grocery store on wheels”— to Louisville neighborhoods that lack a nearby supermarket. The program looks to build on the success of a similar program launched last year in Milwaukee. 

In a statement, Kroger said the goal of the program is to provide better access to fresh food in communities where people that can’t easily reach a store for a number of reasons, including lack of transportation and physical disabilities. Food insecurity is linked to higher rates of illness and lowered life expectancy in predominantly low-income neighborhoods.

In Louisville, Kroger partnered with Dare to Care, a Louisville food bank and non-profit, and Louisville Forward, the city’s economic development arm. Louisville Forward committed $60,000 to the project, and Dare to Care spent $140,000 to purchase the truck and trailer. Kroger outfitted the truck and has three employees running it.

Customers boarding the 50-foot refrigerated trailer can find nearly 200 different products ranging from fresh meat and dairy products to produce and staple food items. Said Annette Ball, chief programs officer for Dare to Care, in a statement, “You might not find 100 percent of what’s on your grocery list, but you sure are going to be able to make great, nutritious meals for your family.”

Photo: Dare to Care Food Bank

The truck makes two stops daily, five days a week, across Louisville’s neighborhoods, including low-income housing complexes, senior living centers, schools, parks and community centers. The locations are selected by Dare to Care.

Photo: Dare to Care Food Bank

Customers pay through debit and credit cards or EBT (electronic benefit transfer). Cash isn’t accepted. Kroger Reward sale prices are automatically included.

The Louisville program seeks to build on the success of Milwaukee’s Fresh Picks Mobile Market, a partnership between the Milwaukee Hunger Task Force and the Kroger-owned chain, Pick ‘n Save. Kroger’s other divisions may also introduce a mobile market as part of Kroger’s Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative, Erin Grant, a spokeswoman with Kroger’s Louisville division, told the Louisville Courier Journal.

She said, “It does not have to be a brick-and-mortar store for us to provide access to healthy food for people.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see Zero Hunger Mobile Market as a potential market opportunity for Kroger or simply a goodwill initiative? Are there steps Kroger should take to further capitalize on the effort?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Even if this turns out to be a goodwill initiative, it is a home run in terms of demonstrating what is possible."
"Why can’t the initiative be both? I think that it is great that Kroger is leveraging its core business model for both a good cause and also as an incremental revenue stream."
"This venture is not going to add big profits, if any, but it sure is the right thing to do as a corporate citizen. Bravo."

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13 Comments on "Kroger’s trucks roll into food deserts"


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Chris Petersen, PhD.
BrainTrust

If grocers knew the answer there would be no reason to test. A key to success is local partners that know the needs and the areas. Mobile grocery stops need to be reliable and consistent. Even if this turns out to be a goodwill initiative, it is a home run in terms of demonstrating what is possible. Kudos to Kroger and Dare to Care.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

You’re exactly right…predictability would probably be the key to success. This is a great idea; I hope it works.

Bethany Allee
BrainTrust

We need more companies who embrace technology, social responsibility, and growth like Kroger. Kroger continues to innovate in a way that shows they listen to their consumers and do what’s right for their community. Zero Hunger Mobile Market is a goodwill initiative that could potentially turn into a market opportunity for Kroger – and that’s OK.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

There is nothing better than a company with a social conscience to help others. In my book, I salute Kroger and Dare to Care. This venture is not going to add big profits, if any, but it sure is the right thing to do as a corporate citizen. Bravo.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

Nothing in the article indicates the sales, margins or cost to operate. Without that information there is no way to determine if this concept can be profitable and a marketing opportunity.

The worst case scenario is that it is a great goodwill gesture. However, to keep the goodwill it is generating Kroger will have to continue operating the Mobile Market even if it is unprofitable.

Lee Kent
BrainTrust

What a great thing to do! It may not add great profits but will surely lead to gold stars for Kroger. I know this is a stretch but I remember when the Book Mobiles first rolled out and how excited we were every time they came around. It was an exciting, destination outing to go return and pick out new books. For my 2 cents.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This is a great goodwill initiative by Kroger and even if it doesn’t result in successful sales, it’s well worth the benefit to those communities. Demonstrating that the definition of a “store” is always changing and evolving, Kroger is seeing what can be done to make a difference in people’s lives independent from pure sales motivation. Of course, if this proves to be a sales success, I expect we will see more such initiatives not just from Kroger but from other brands as well. Local government agencies would do well to examine this model and find other corporate partners to create similar programs. If more companies acted this way and created similar programs, imagine what a difference could be made in so many communities in need!

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Regardless of if this is a money-making opportunity or not, the concept of the Zero Hunger Mobile Market shows that Kroger is community minded and focused on the people more than the money. This is community connection meeting convenience. Good for Kroger!

Paco Underhill
BrainTrust

Mobile grocery has worked very well in many parts of the world. Small villages, senior housing complexes, college campuses, the list is endless. The Kroger truck might also work at farmer’s markets – where the offering is non-fresh food items like soap, paper products and canned goods. It is also a way of featuring private labels. The grocery truck is an old idea ripe for reinvention.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

Like many others I hope this works well. But importantly, by partnering with like-minded organizations I believe there’s an opportunity to improve and expand. I’m sure that everyone who reads this article starts to smile and feel encouraged. To keep Kroger engaged I hope that they achieve marketing advantages as well.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

I like the grassroots approach of partnering with local organizations to offer the most relevant assortment to the communities it visits (seniors, schools, neighborhoods, etc).

Shikha Jain
BrainTrust

Why can’t the initiative be both? I think that it is great that Kroger is leveraging its core business model for both a good cause and also as an incremental revenue stream.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

A very nice goodwill effort and it provides data to see if certain areas are ripe for stores in the future. Especially if they have a small format store that can drop into the area — that is the intermediary step to a full line store.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Even if this turns out to be a goodwill initiative, it is a home run in terms of demonstrating what is possible."
"Why can’t the initiative be both? I think that it is great that Kroger is leveraging its core business model for both a good cause and also as an incremental revenue stream."
"This venture is not going to add big profits, if any, but it sure is the right thing to do as a corporate citizen. Bravo."

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