Kroger's Louisville division, which includes Central Kentucky stores, said Wednesday it has lowered prices on nearly 10,000 items, saying it is investing millions of dollars to reduce thousands of prices in its stores.
Cincinnati-based Kroger, the nation's largest traditional grocery chain, said in a news release that its merchandisers started cutting prices June 11 and continued over the next several weeks.
The company said it selected items "that are frequently found in most customers' shopping carts to ensure all customers would benefit from the price reductions over time."
The company released prices on a few select items but would not provide a more comprehensive list.
The company also would not discuss whether pressures in a crowded competitive situation played into its decision.
In the Lexington market, for example, Whole Foods Market is planning to move into a larger store on Nicholasville Road, and the Costco warehouse store chain recently opened its first Lexington store near Hamburg.
Kroger said the price-reduction program "includes a significant number of lower prices in produce, natural foods and organics, reinforcing a rapid increase in natural foods sales over the last decade."
Natural foods sales have more than doubled at Kroger stores in the past four years, according to the news release.
"With the economic downturn in 2008, the Kroger Co. responded by reducing prices throughout our stores, benefiting both our customers and associates," Kroger spokesman Tim McGurk said. "We continue to leverage our scale as one of the largest retailers in the world to work with suppliers to reduce costs, and in turn pass those savings along to our customers."
A handful of examples offered by Kroger of the new pricing include:
■ Head lettuce, 99 cents, down from $1.29.
Roma tomatoes, 99 cents a pound, down from $1.29.
Kroger premium coffee, $5.99 for a 34.5-ounce can, down from $8.29.
Kibbles 'n Bits 'n Beefy Bites dog food, $9.99 for 16 pounds, down from $11.99.
Wisk Original laundry detergent, $4.99 for a 50-load jug, down from $6.78.
"Price continues to be an important factor as customers are deciding where to shop," McGurk said. "Now our customers are going to save even more on the items that they buy every week."
Kroger operates dozens of stores in Central Kentucky, including 10 in Lexington. It is rebuilding its store on Euclid Avenue. Overall, it operates 2,640 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states under several names.
During its most recent earnings report last month, Kroger reported a 4 percent increase in profit and raised its forecast for the year, crediting the acquisition of grocer Harris Teeter Supermarkets for its better-than-expected earnings. The company said it earned $501 million, or 98 cents a share, up from $481 million, or 92 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose 10 percent to $33 billion.