ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Organic Alliance here is teaming up with Kroger and A&P to launch a pilot program that aggressively markets organics in mainstream supermarkets.
The pilots will be run in 30 stores in Kroger's Atlanta division and in all of A&P's Food Emporium stores in New York and New Jersey.
"We're very excited to be partnering with two very high-profile retail chains," said Angela Sterns, marketing director for the alliance.
Andy Carrano, a spokesman for the Montvale, N.J.-based A&P chain, commented that "Food Emporium is a natural fit with the Organic Alliance. We carry a wide variety of organic products, and we think [the program] will make us even more outstanding in this category."
As reported is SN, the Organic Alliance, formerly the Midwest Organic Alliance, went national this year when its grant was renewed for 18 months by the Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia. The alliance's mission is to promote organic products nationally.
"We plan to kick off in October and do a large-scale, week-long promotion that highlights organic products," said Sterns.
She said this event will likely include product demos and special deals on items like chips, sauces, pastas, salsas, canned goods and so forth.
While the alliance is still in the planning stages with Cincinnati-based Kroger and A&P, Sterns explained that the alliance's model has three components: identifying organic products at the shelf, promoting products with the help of vendors and retailers, and educating customers and employees.
Some of the point-of-purchase materials include colorful yellow and purple signage with the alliance's logo. Also to be displayed at the shelf are fact cards that explain what it means to be organic and certified as organic, how organic foods do not use chemicals that are environmentally harmful, and how organic foods offer variety and convenience.
The alliance has also produced a 10-minute video on organics, in conjunction with a manual, which can either be distributed to retail associates or used as part of a more extensive training program. Sterns said her organization will provide whatever level of support retailers request. Facilitation can be across a spectrum of doing the actual training of either employees or trainers, suggesting trainers or simply providing information.
"One of the goals of our program is that we want the retailer to be happy with it and to replicate it in other stores," Sterns explained.
"Kroger will be measuring sales of products in setting its own success criteria," she went on to say. "We hope that after the year [the time period for the pilot project] that they will continue the program and implement it in other stores."
The alliance also plans to work with retailers to build awareness of organics through media coverage in the local press.