Kroger CEO Discusses the Constant Evolution of the Grocery Industry

Kroger’s chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen joined Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO, for a conversation on Feeding the Human Spirit at the NRF Big Show last week. McMullen discussed how Kroger operates with excellence and continues to serve customers and associates in an ever-changing and competitive grocery industry.

McMullen shared that the constant evolution of retail makes the industry so interesting and dynamic, observing, over the last four decades, shopping habits have gone from weekly trips to the store to the myriad of options customers toggle between today.

“Fundamentally, we know the grocery business will only ever become more competitive—that has proven true for the last century,” said McMullen. “At Kroger, we succeed by giving a great experience to the customer, investing in associates, and making an impact in the communities we serve. When we do that really well, we succeed in living Our Purpose to Feed the Human Spirit.”

McMullen explained that Kroger seeks to deliver a convenient, seamless experience that molds to customers’ daily needs—with zero compromises on value and convenience, promising fresh products that help customers stretch their dollars.

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The pandemic accelerated the digital shopping and delivery trend from a three-year horizon into a two-week period. These options remain a necessity for customers as they continue to cook at home and look for savings under the squeeze of inflation.

“A lot of people learned to cook during the pandemic, and when we talk to our customers, they are telling us they really like it, both in terms of eating together and showing off for their family and friends,” said McMullen. “When families eat together, it improves so many aspects of their lives. As customers’ lives begin to fill with soccer games, band practices, and the busyness of daily life, we still see them making time to cook at home.”

McMullen credited Kroger’s more than 420,000 associates for the grocer’s outstanding customer service and community impact—especially their commitment to support the mission to create communities free from hunger and food waste through Kroger’s signature Zero Hunger | Zero Waste plan. Since the launch of Zero Hunger | Zero Waste in 2017, Kroger has donated billions of meals to help end hunger and millions of pounds of surplus fresh food to avoid waste.

Shay and McMullen also discussed Kroger’s recognition by Newsweek as one of “America’s Most Responsible Companies” for 2023. Companies are selected based on publicly available key performance indicators derived from Corporate Responsibility Reports, Corporate Citizen Reports, or Sustainability Reports, as well as an independent survey.