Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed.
The merger could prove to be a lucrative one as the specialty cheese market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.5%, reaching $20.7bn by 2020, according to a Packaged Facts report.
The business relationship between Kroger and Murray’s Cheese began in 2008 with a partnership that brought the specialty cheese retailer’s products to the grocery store chain’s store shelves.
"When the Kroger and Murray's relationship started in 2008, we wanted to figure out how to bring the finest cheese and charcuterie to more people," Daniel Hammer, Kroger's vice president of culinary development and deli/bakery merchandising said.
Today, there are more than 350 Murray’s Cheese shops in Kroger retail locations across the US.
Murray's former owner and president, Rob Kaufelt, will remain affiliated with the business as a strategic adviser. Nick Tranchina will continue to lead the Murray's Cheese team in New York and will report to Daniel Hammer at Kroger.
Murray's Cheese shops in Kroger stores aim to replicate the customer experience at its Greenwich Village flagship store through its “store-within-a-store” concept, which sets aside dedicated space for a particular retailer or brand to display and sell its products.
Within each Murray’s Cheese shop at Kroger locations are hundreds of cheeses, charcuterie, olives, crackers, and specialty food items. Murray's will continue to be involved with product selection, staff training and development, as well as merchandising and promotions.
“In 2008, we pioneered a store-within-a-store concept at a handful of Kroger stores. Between 2008 and 2012, we opened 38 stores, and in 2016 we opened nearly 100,” Kaufelt said.
Emphasis on cheese education
Since Murray’s Cheese began in 1940, the company has placed an importance on educating customers about its domestic and imported artisan cheese. Through its relationship with Kroger, Murray’s staff has trained thousands of cheese mongers and certified cheese professionals.
Between the two companies, the American Cheese Society named 62 staff members as Certified Cheese Professionals after passing the ACS Certified Cheese Professional Exam. The exam was in 2012 by the ACS to encourage high standards of comprehensive cheese knowledge and service for all areas of the industry.
Testing encompasses a range of topics, including raw ingredients, the cheesemaking process, storing and handling cheese, marketing and communications, regulations and sanitation, and nutrition.