- Arizona supermarket chain Bashas' has partnered with Forager, a technology company that links retailers with local food suppliers, to support the grocer's efforts to bring more locally produced items to its stores, according to a Tuesday press release.
- The companies plan to work together on a pilot to deliver food from local grocers directly to certain Bashas' stores. The chain plans to eventually expand the program to all of its more than 100 locations, which operate under the Food City, AJ's Fine Foods, Eddie's Country Store, Bashas' and Bashas' Dine banners.
- The partnership between Bashas' and Forager furthers a trend that has recently gained momentum among grocers of providing shoppers with food from farmers and other producers located close to their stores.
Forager's deal with Bashas' reflects a growing effort by the supermarket industry to make their businesses more sustainable and better aligned with consumer demand by stepping up their relationships with suppliers within a closer range of their stores. The Portland, Maine-based company aims to further this movement by providing online tools that make it faster and less costly for retailers and suppliers to work together.
In the press release, Forager said it has doubled both the number of stores and food suppliers that use its technology since mid-2020. The company, which currently works with retailers in 13 states and has built a network of hundreds of farmers, fishers and other suppliers, said it expects to grow further as 2021 progresses.
Forager also cited a survey of 1,000 consumers it conducted showing that 93% of consumers believe grocery stores play an "important role" in channeling business to local farmers and other food suppliers.
Forager's deal with Bashas' follows its announcement in October that it had entered a similar partnership with Roche Bros. Markets. Through that arrangement, 20 stores operated by the New England grocer under its Roche Bros., Sudbury Farms and Brothers Marketplace banners gained access to Forager's system.
In June, Schnucks announced that it had formed a partnership aimed at boosting its purchases of produce and other locally produced products with Foodshed.io, another company that helps connect retailers with suppliers located near their stores.
In addition to looking for ways to streamline relationships with local growers, grocers are also stepping up their efforts to stock their stores with produce grown sustainably. This month, Kroger and Albertsons both announced that they had expanded their relationships with produce suppliers that use indoor farming techniques to grow food under conditions designed to use less water and land than traditional methods.