The Kroger Co. said it would complete the transition of milk it processes and sells in its convenience stores and supermarkets to a certified rBST-free supply by February 2008. The Company said its decision was based on customer feedback in the markets it serves. Earlier this year, Kroger transitioned the milk it sells in the western half of the U.S. to a certified rBST-free supply. This move includes milk it processes and sells in its City Market, Dillons, Fry’s, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s divisions and Kroger stores in Louisiana and Texas.
By February 2008, milk the Company processes and sells in its stores throughout the Midwest and Southeast will also be certified as rBST-free. This includes Kroger banner stores in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
“Our customers’ increasing interest in their health and wellness is the basis for our decision,” said William Boehm, senior vice president and president of manufacturing for Kroger. “We appreciate the willingness of dairy cooperatives across the country to work with us to make this transition in the next six months.”
Recombinant bovine somatotropin (“rBST”) is given to cows to help increase milk production. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded there is no difference between milk derived from cows treated with rBST and those that have not been treated. For the past 10 years, Kroger has informed its raw milk suppliers that the company prefers milk from cows that have not been given rBST, based on consumer preference. Recently, a growing number of dairy farmers have started to offer certification that the milk they produce comes from cows not treated with rBST.
As a result of these certification programs and growing customer interest in this issue, Kroger has informed its raw milk suppliers that it will only procure raw milk from dairy cows that are certified rBST-free beginning early next year.
Kroger operates 15 dairies and three ice cream plants in the U.S. that produce all varieties of fluid milk and other dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream and novelty treats. Kroger’s private label milk is the brand of choice for the majority of its customers.
Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,458 supermarkets and convenience stores in 31 states under two-dozen local banners.