There is a story in "Retailing Today" and some other news outlets that Kroger is planning to stop fulfilling its Michigan stores from its Detroit-area warehouse (owned by Supervalu), and will instead begin to service us from Delaware, Ohio, which is near Columbus. While extremely picturesque, Delaware does not seem like a good place to serve Michigan from. It is nowhere near I-75, making transportation difficult. It does have ready I-71 access, making it easy for Kroger to move from Delaware to Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Louisville, and maybe even Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, it will increase the "food miles" traveled by products eaten in Michigan, which seems counter-intuitive in a time of rising fuel prices and increased consumer preference for local foods, even given the efficiencies inherent in consolidating distribution.
So why should you care? Because what we all should keep an eye on now is the quality of the food. Kroger in the Detroit area is already inconsistent - there are some great ones (Birmingham), but there are others with real issues regarding selection and store condition. A box of crackers will probably still be a box of crackers, but what about milk, juice and curly endive? If it is fresh, how is it going to like being trucked an extra 190 miles over who knows how many days? If the quality of the food suffers, the extra efficiencies will be more than offset by the lack of foot traffic.