FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 6, 2020) — Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles is praising the nation’s largest supermarket chain for its increased commitment to selling Kentucky Proud farm food.
“As Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner, my administration is focused on increasing the amount of Kentucky Proud foods on grocery shelves across the Commonwealth and the nation,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles. “Due to the hard work of our administration, Kentucky farm families, and Kroger, Kentuckians can now find more local protein products than ever before. On behalf of our family farms, I want to commend Kroger for their commitment to supporting Kentucky agriculture, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Kroger began selling Freedom Run Farm ground lamb in 25 Kentucky stores on March 31. Greg Osborn, meat and seafood merchandiser for Kroger’s Louisville Division, said sales got off to a good start. Racks of lamb and porterhouse loin chops are also available in select stores.
“Buying local is important to our customers, and several years ago, we began working on sourcing products from our family farmers in the Commonwealth,” said Osborn. “The sales show the support people have for local food, and we are thrilled to be introducing lamb just in time for Easter.”
Freedom Run Farm is a consortium of shepherds across Kentucky who work together to bring pasture-raised lamb to market under one brand. The breed of lamb is classified as Katahdin lamb, an Appalachian heritage breed, known for its mild flavor quality.
“I would like to thank Kroger and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture for their tireless work supporting local producers and agribusinesses like myself,” said Valerie Samutin of Freedom Run Farm. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Kentucky shepherds are concerned by a sudden loss of market access. The fact that the Kroger family and Commissioner Quarles and his team stepped up to the plate to make this happen is welcome news for all the producers Freedom Run Farms represents.”
Kroger’s debut of Freedom Run Farm’s ground lamb builds on previous Kentucky Proud protein product partnerships between the grocer and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
In 2018, Kroger began selling Kentucky Cattlemen’s Ground Beef in Kentucky and has since expanded the product line to Tennessee. Kentucky Cattlemen’s Ground Beef is fresh, natural beef raised by Kentucky farm families. The beef is ground and packaged by Creation Gardens of Louisville. The ground beef is a product of Beef Solutions, a limited liability company owned by the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association who has worked with over 123 farmers from 44 counties across the Commonwealth.
“The numbers speak for themselves: Kentucky Cattlemen’s Ground Beef is an overwhelming success,” said Beef Solutions Chairman and cattleman Jeff Pettit. “Since beginning production in March 2018, our producers have seen more than $1.2 million in farm gate sales from this product, and that number is only going to go up. I thank Kroger, Commissioner Quarles, and the entire Kentucky Department of Agriculture for their commitment to Kentucky cattle producers.”
In November 2019, Kroger launched pasture-raised pork sausage products in select stores from central Kentucky-based Marksbury Farms. Locations were quickly expanded, and now Marksbury’s breakfast sausage, bratwursts, Italian sausage, and ground chorizo is sold in Lexington, Louisville, Danville, Nicholasville, Somerset, Richmond, Winchester, Mount Sterling, Shelbyville, Elizabethtown, Frankfort, Georgetown, Versailles, and Bardstown. Marksbury Farms opened in 2010 in Lancaster with a vision to maximize the value of Kentucky’s pasture land by producing high quality local, grass-fed meat through a partnership of family farms that all comply with the company’s strict production standards.
“Kroger has opened up doors for us and our partners that were previously closed,” said Cliff Swaim of Marksbury Farm. “We are so grateful to them, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and Commissioner Quarles for putting a spotlight on local food, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope many consumers will make a habit out of buying local, and of course, we hope they consider picking up Marksbury Farm products in select Kroger stores around the state.”
Kentucky Cattlemen’s Ground Beef and Marksbury chorizo are currently available to preorder on Kroger’s ClickList pick-up service, and Osborn expects Kroger to add Freedom Run ground lamb as well as Marksbury sausage and brats soon. Once a store sells the product, he said it should be available to order from that store on ClickList.
“We are grateful to the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund for continuing to support the Kentucky Proud brand,” said Commissioner Quarles. “We thank Kroger for their commitment to Kentucky Proud. We have other projects in the works and we hope Kentucky consumers will stay tuned for the next big Kentucky Proud food item.”
For more information about Freedom Run Farm’s ground lamb product, go to www.FreedomRunFarm.org.
For more information about Kentucky Cattlemen’s Ground Beef, go to www.KentuckyCattlemensBeef.com.
For more information about Marksbury Farm’s pork products, visit www.MarksburyFarm.com.