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Kroger Expands Midwestern Reach, Bringing 80K SF Fulfillment Center To Designated Food Desert

Cincinnati-based grocery giant Kroger is coming to Chicago, with a spoke fulfillment facility set to open in western suburban Maywood, adding a delivery arm to the city’s metro. 

Located approximately 20 miles west of Chicago, the 80K SF facility in Maywood will help expand the company’s delivery service in the city, working in tandem with an existing 337K SF fulfillment center in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin

The new center will create more than 180 new jobs in a city now designated a food desert, per a Kroger release.

U.S. grocery giant Kroger is expanding its delivery services to Chicago.

“Their facility replaces a blighted area while adding new jobs and revenues that aid in the revitalization of our community,” Maywood Mayor Nathaniel George Booker said in a statement. “We are happy to welcome a partner that works to address our food desert designation and look to evolving collaboration with them.”

The company also announced it would build a 40K SF facility in Nashville, Tennessee, that will likewise work in conjunction with a larger fulfillment center, that one in Atlanta, to increase its network’s reach to customers up to 200 miles from the hub.

As part of a partnership extension between Kroger and Ocado Group, the  expansion will bring advanced robotics and automation to grocery delivery in both regions.

Using artificial intelligence and air traffic control, delivery network hubs will have more than 1,000 bots moving around “the hive,” a 3D grid that contains totes with products and customer orders awaiting delivery. The bots can retrieve groceries from the hive and arrange them in ways that consider product fragility and weight while aiming to reduce plastic use, Kroger said in its release. 

Shoppers in both Chicago and Greater Nashville will also gain access to the company’s newly launched membership program, Boost by Kroger, making them eligible for free delivery, perks and points. 

Kroger Vice President and Head of E-commerce Bill Bennett said the expansion would allow Kroger to bring its "white glove delivery service" to more consumers at a time they are watching their pocketbooks closely.

Grocery prices, which rose by a record amount in June, are up 12.4% year-over-year, according to the latest Adobe Digital Price Index report, and are not expected to come down anytime soon.

As shoppers feel the squeeze of inflation, Kroger estimates these benefits can help customers save over $1K per year on fuel and food delivery.