business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Dallas Morning News reports that Kroger believes it has "come up with a way to successfully bring online grocery shopping to neighborhoods in southern Dallas’ that are considered food deserts … Kroger is waiving fees and tipping at three delivery destinations within walking distance of neighborhoods in southern Dallas, starting Tuesday at the South Dallas Fair Park Inner city Community Development Corporation (ICDC) building at 4907 Spring Ave.

"Dallas Bethlehem Center at 4410 Leland Ave. will be next, and Bonton Farms will get the service in the fall."

Bonton Farms is an urban farming business.  The Morning News writes that "Bonton’s Grocery Connect is a different model from Kroger’s existing store pickup and delivery. Kroger’s refrigerated delivery truck holding individual orders will be stationed at the designated building, initially for four hours, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"The program was designed to create access without the need for transportation, Madison said. About 1,000 households are within a 1-mile walk of Bonton Farms, and there’s similar density around the other buildings.

"Shoppers will fill orders online with Kroger and their groceries will come from the grocer’s e-commerce fulfillment center which opened in southern Dallas in 2022. Customers can choose from the 33,000 items found in a store and at the same prices. Dallas Innovation Alliance staff will be at the ICDC center to help customers sign up and use Grocery Connect."

KC's View:

Food companies of course will be measured by their sales and profits, and by how they treat their employees and customers.  But I think that especially at a time when there are so many food deserts in the US - which is simultaneously unimaginable and a stark reality, reflecting the degree to which there are two Americas - food companies also can be measured by how they make basic groceries and fresh food available to people who otherwise might find them inaccessible.

Make no mistake.  This is good business.  But it is something more.  it is about being part of a community.

This actually makes me wonder if there is a card that Kroger still could play in persuading the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to approve its $26.4 billion acquisition of Albertsons.  What if Kroger made a commitment to eliminating all food deserts within 100 miles of any store that it would operate?  What if its position were to say, "Yes, this will make us bigger, and better able to compete with the likes of Walmart, Costco and Amazon.  But we acknowledge that with our larger size also comes greater responsibilities to the communities we serve, and so we pledge to build stores and provide satellite delivery services to every community that qualifies as a food desert in the US and that is within XX miles of where we operate."

I'm probably crazy.  But I think that this is the kind of statement and commitment that could move the needle, at the very least creating political and community grass roots support for a business deal with enormous positive cultural implications.