Meijer has expanded its program that supports Michigan small businesses to feature 55 new Michigan-made grocery products in all its stores statewide, Meijer Co-Chairman Doug Meijer says.
“Meijer is committed to supporting Michigan businesses, and the Made in Michigan initiative is a great opportunity to highlight some fantastic small businesses throughout the state,” Meijer says. “The response we received from our customers last year about this initiative was overwhelming, which is why we decided to further invest and expand this selection into all our Michigan stores.”
Grand Rapids-based Meijer launched the Made in Michigan initiative in January 2012 with the Michigan State University Product Center for Food-Ag-Bio. Its goal is to help strengthen the state’s economy by supporting Michigan small businesses. The initial offering of 49 grocery items—including marinara sauce, blueberry butter and gluten-free baking mixes—resulted in an estimated economic impact of $400,000 statewide.
This year’s lineup of 55 Michigan-made grocery products will be more visible in all of the 102 Meijer stores in Michigan. Items including barbecue sauces, cherry butter, salsas, guacamole and kettle chips are expected to have an estimated economic impact of $900,000 statewide, says Matt Birbeck, High Impact Venture Action Team project manager for the MSU Product Center.
“It’s been a fantastic opportunity for all Michigan businesses to have this local section at Meijer; many of them see amazing results,” Birbeck says. “Now that it’s in every Michigan Meijer store, everybody gets to see and taste the diversity of this great state.”
Meijer worked with the MSU Product Center and its HI-VAT initiative to expand the program and ensure that all the suppliers had the right food protocols and supply chain procedures. The items are expected to remain on the shelves for a year, and will have an opportunity to branch out chain-wide. Of the initial items that were featured in 33 Meijer stores last year, a few products are under consideration to be mainstreamed onto the shelves as part of the retailer’s regular grocery offerings.
After losing his job in 2010, Tarek Abouljoud decided to start Teta Foods, a Michigan-based company specializing in manufacturing healthy Mediterranean foods. He learned about the retailer’s Made in Michigan initiative through the MSU Product Center, and was thrilled when all five of his products were approved by Meijer.
“The biggest challenge that small food manufacturers face is reaching the inflection point where they become a well-recognized and successful company with a great brand,” says Abouljoud, president/owner of the Clinton Township-based company. “We believe this is going to be the turning point for our company in becoming a great Michigan business success story. We are grateful to have Meijer as part of our success story.”