Dollar General is making its way toward food deserts

Illustration for article titled Dollar General is making its way toward food deserts
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Back in 2018, The Takeout reported that Dollar General was planning to become a more aggressive combatant in the Grocery Store Wars by expanding its grocery offerings and rolling out a “Good & Smart” line featuring healthier products. And now, here we are, two whole years later, to report that there are more than 9,000 Dollar General locations where DiGiorno’s three-meat pizza isn’t the healthiest food in the entire store.

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Dollar General officially launched DG Fresh—a plan to migrate to self-distribution of fresh and frozen foods—in January 2019, with the intent of building four new distribution centers over the course of the year. By May of this year the company declared the program to be a resounding success, with 9,000 of its 16,500 stores receiving regular deliveries of milk, cheese, deli meats, and fresh produce. On August 5, the company announced it will be building three new cold storage distribution facilities in Bowling Green, Kentucky; Ardmore, Oklahoma; and West Sacramento, California, which will service another 1,500 retail locations each.

According to Business Insider, many have questioned Dollar General’s intentions of becoming a major player in the grocery game, citing the “notoriously thin profit margins” in the discount retail industry. Dollar stores have traditionally served lower income communities, where there is often limited access to grocery stores. So what has suddenly inspired Dollar General to start supplying fresh food for its customers? As Christopher McGovern, senior consultant at Numerator, told Business Insider: “Middle and higher income groups are electing to shop at dollar stores, as they recognize the lower price points for similar quality products that they would find in their regular grocery or big box store.”

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This means that Dollar General is looking to appeal to the widest customer base possible, vying for the same sorts of shoppers that Walmart has drawn in with its grocery program in recent years. If we all let ourselves be collectively wooed by the DG Fresh line, it could mean better access to fresh and affordable produce, meat, and dairy for everyone—especially those who currently have to take several bus transfers to reach the nearest grocery store.

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, author of three books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Questions about recipes/need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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DISCUSSION

manicotti
Manic Otti

We don’t have DG where I live, but I have noticed that Dollar Tree, which I think is owned by the same company, has installed cold cases in their stores, so at least they offer some cold and frozen items and not just canned everything. Sometimes I guy the frozen pot pies there and they suck compared to my childhood memories of them, but, nostalgia.