Dollar General Invests in AI as it Doubles Down on Fresh Food Commitment  

Dollar General (DG) now offers fresh produce in more than 5,000 U.S. stores, giving the company more individual points of produce distribution than any other mass retailer or grocer in the country. DG stores that carry fresh produce are stocked with the top 20 produce items typically sold in traditional grocery stores, including tomatoes, onions, apples, strawberries, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lemons, limes and salad mixes.  
 
“We are constantly looking for ways to better serve our customers and one of our top priorities is to ensure the communities we call home have access to fresh, affordable and convenient food options,” said Emily Taylor, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Dollar General in a statement. “We have exceeded our goal of having 5,000 total stores with fresh produce by January 2024. We’re proud to leverage our footprint to meet the need for healthy food options in more communities than any other retailer across the U.S.” 
 
To ensure consumers have fast and convenient access to fresh foods, DG has partnered with Shelf Engine to roll out AI-powered automated ordering technology in approximately 3,000 stores. The platform is designed to improve perishable food forecasting and optimize in-stock levels so only the freshest produce options are available. As a result, DG will be able to improve operational efficiency and margins while also supporting the its broader “Food First” initiative

“Adopting Shelf Engine’s AI solutions aligns seamlessly with our mission of serving others, helping our teams enhance value and convenience for our customers,” said Allen Warch, VP and Division Merchandise Manager with leadership of fresh merchandise at Dollar General in a statement. “This collaboration is a strategic step toward improving our operational efficiency while serving our customers with improved in-stock levels of fresh produce.” 

Putting Food First 

DG first unveiled its “Food First” initiative in July 2023, emphasizing its commitment to building out its Clover Valley private-label brand. Through a robust customer feedback-gathering exercise, Clover Valley added more than 100 new items to shelves, including new entrees, sides, sauces, condiments and snacks. The ultimate goal for “Food First” is to provide more affordable food options to local communities that rely on DG for groceries and everyday essentials, such as milk, eggs, bread, canned vegetables and lean proteins. 

DG also partners with local and national nonprofit organizations, including food banks, as part of its ongoing efforts to help alleviate food insecurity. For example, the retailer’s operational partnership with Feeding America provides in-kind food donations from stores and distribution centers across the U.S. with a goal to contribute up to 20 million meals each year. To date, DG has donated more than 23 million meals and over $3 million to Feeding America. 

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