Dollar General believes it can compete on 'freshness'


The fast growing chain is increasing its fresh produce options

In the consumer world, there’s not one single company that doesn’t want to own at least one advantage.

“Biggest” is pretty easy and Kroger’s pretty much got that competitive edge nailed down. But Kroger’s got a lot of traffic in its rearview mirror and one of those chains thinks it can own the “freshness” advantage.

Focusing on 5,000 of its stores nationwide, Dollar General (DG) thinks it's more geographically ready than it has ever been to realign its distribution. Plus, it claims it has a vast network that can efficiently distribute perishable goods like fruits and veggies.

The difference maker

To make gains on Kroger’s, Dollar General says it’s going to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) to provide shoppers with the freshest food they can find in at least 5,000 of those stores. The company's plan to offer fresh produce in that many stores means it will have more individual points of produce distribution than any other retailer or grocer.

DG is partnering with Shelf Engine, allowing DG to forecast and order perishable food more efficiently. Having access to that advantage will help automate the ordering process. the company believes.

Thus, customers will – or should – get the freshest food possible. DG says that every store that carries tomatoes, onions, apples, strawberries, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lemons, limes, or salad mixes can beat any large competitor on 80% of the items that the big brands like Kroger or Giant Foods carry. 

Doubling down on underserved communities and value shoppers

In’s recent review of grocery store traffic, it’s evident that DG is investing in the right things. “Less affluent consumers, perhaps, [are] more likely to seek out lower-cost grocery alternatives like dollar stores,”’s Lila Margalit wrote.

And you can expect more where that came from, says’s Ethan Chernofsky, senior vice president of Marketing, who tells ConsumerAffairs that alongside DG will be Grocery Outlet, Aldi, and Lidl, all jumping on the low-cost grocery bandwagon.

Individually, they may not be a dragon slayer, but collectively they will give consumers breaks that the big grocers can't, but may be forced to if their heels get nipped at enough.

“The ultimate success will come down to creating a retail experience that presents true value to the consumer. Critically, it is not a binary situation where these chains rely on a full shift in shopping patterns to succeed. Simply carving out more or the visit share should suffice to drive steady and ongoing success.”

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