Local foods have been one of the hottest trends in food retailing during the past decade. For logistical reasons, produce departments were the first to embrace the trend, and can still usually boast the largest selection of locally raised items in the typical store.
But the trend is spreading to other departments. For example, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spartan Stores recently expanded it's “Michigan's Best” campaign to include more than 600 items produced in its home state — many of them in the grocery aisles. In January, SN reported on an extensive locally raised program at Hen House Markets in Kansas City. And in April, SN reported on Fresh Madison Market, a new, independent retailer hoping to make its mark in downtown Madison, Wis., by offering a wide range of local products including local cheeses, coffee from a local roaster, pastas from a small local supplier, salsa from a popular local catering company and baked goods from two local bakeries.
Even for a store with a focus on local products, a partnership with local bakery might have seemed unlikely five years ago. When a supermarket buys local produce, meats, cheeses or pasta, there's still a traditional supplier/retailer relationship in place. Independent retail bakeries, on the other hand, have long viewed supermarkets as competitors.
That may be changing. In this week's Fresh Market section, Roseanne Harper takes a look at some of the partnerships being forged by the in-store bakeries at Kings Super Markets, a 24-unit chain headquartered in Parsippany, N.J. There, Kenneth Downey, director of bakery sales and merchandising, has searched throughout New Jersey, New York and beyond to find the best specialty items to complement his ISBs' full-line of fresh bakery products.
“The thing about dealing with retail bakeries is that the good ones are usually famous for something,” Downey told SN. “The key, the big key, is to bring in the best item each bakery makes. So, we might buy one line each — their best — from 10 different bakeries, and, all of a sudden, Kings is selling the best things they could be selling.”
The New York metro area offers plenty of opportunities for these types of arrangements. Kings' in-store bakeries now offer popular specialty products from 15 independent bakeries, specialty stores and restaurants in the region, including cookies from David's Cookies in Fairfield, N.J., breads from Zabar's in Manhattan and cheesecakes from Junior's in Brooklyn.
This offers Kings' shoppers “the convenience of getting their favorite New York bread, for instance, in their own neighborhood,” Downey explained.
The competitive dynamic between ISBs and retail bakeries is going to vary from market to market. But when a retail bakery is producing something that really stands out locally, a partnership with a local supermarket could be a mutually beneficial option.