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Kroger explores wellness pathways at inaugural natural foods innovation summit


CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday hosted its first natural foods innovation summit, in partnership with 84.51°, here with keynote speaker Joy Bauer, the founder of Nourish Snacks and the health and nutrition expert on NBC's "The Today Show."

"Kroger is proud of the role we've played in making natural and organic products more affordable and accessible to America," stated Jill McIntosh, Kroger's VP of natural foods. "This category was a $16 billion business for us in 2016, and today's company-produced expo is an innovation platform that allows us to continue to expand our natural foods product portfolio by partnering with emerging brands on micro and macro levels."

Top trends in natural foods are holistic health, convenience and sustainability. Consumer insights show that customers are adopting a 360-degree approach to health and wellness, including greater consumption of natural foods to prevent illnesses. A growing number of customers are seeking healthier on-the-go snacks and meals, and nutritional drinks are increasingly becoming meal replacements.

Kroger's team of buyers continuously look for regional purchasing opportunities that allow the company to expand its product portfolio for customers, stimulate the local economy and enhance product freshness. Sourcing locally also supports the company's sustainability commitments, including Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste initiative launched last month. Recently, Kroger joined the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a membership-based collaborative of like-minded companies striving to advance sustainable packaging.

"Kroger is leading the way to redefine the food and grocery customer experience as one part of our Restock Plan announced yesterday in New York at our annual investor conference. Customer lifestyles are evolving, and as America's grocer, we understand the importance of carrying relevant products at affordable prices that are meaningful to the nearly nine million customers we serve daily in our family of stores," McIntosh added.

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