General Merchandise Compliance

General Merchandise Regulatory Compliance and Quality Assurance 

General Merchandise products sold in Kroger stores are required to meet all U.S. Federal and State rules, regulations, bans and standards, as well as conform to Kroger standards for quality, safety and performance.  This website’s purpose is to help suppliers navigate Kroger General Merchandise Regulatory Compliance and Quality requirements. All suppliers are responsible to fulfill any applicable regulatory responsibility and establish their own program to ensure adherence to Kroger’s requirements as detailed on this webpage. Suppliers must designate personnel to manage product safety, compliance, quality and to facilitate the product’s progress through Kroger’s compliance and quality assurance program. You may send any question to the General Merchandise Compliance Manager at GMCompliance@kroger.com.

Contents

1. GENERAL MERCHANDISE TESTING

1.1 Testing Protocols
1.2 Testing Requirements
1.3 Testing Timeline
1.4 Periodic Testing
1.5 Unsatisfactory/Failed Tests
1.6 Testing Expense
1.7 Apparel Testing Program
1.8 Children’s Sleepwear SOP
1.9 Grouped Test

2. GENERAL CERTIFICATE OF CONFORMITY (GCC) AND KROGER GENERAL CERTIFICATE OF CONFORMITY (KGCC)
3. LAW LABELS AND MANUFACTURER REGISTRATION FOR STUFFED ARTICLES
4. CHEMICAL REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
5. CONFLICT MINERAL POLICY
6. PRODUCT INSPECTIONS
7. WERCSMART
8. KROGER RESOURCES

8.1 Tracking Label for Children’s Products
8.2 Suffocation Warning Label for Plastic Bags
8.3 Children’s Product Regulatory Compliance Checklist

1.     GENERAL MERCHANDISE TESTING

1.1 Testing Protocols

We developed testing protocols to specify technical requirements of respective product categories with the goal of delivering safe, compliant and quality products to our customers. They incorporate Federal and State laws, regulations, rules, bans and standards and also include industry standards to address essential product safety and product quality concerns.

Suppliers are expected to review the applicable protocols and adhere to specified criteria during product design, development and production to ensure the compliance of final products.

Our testing protocols are available at the following portal. Please contact the respective product developer or buyer at Kroger to gain access to the testing protocols.

https://docushare.cps.bureauveritas.com/docushare/dsweb/View/Collection-14490.

1.2 Testing Requirements

Conformity to regulatory requirements and our quality requirements must be verified through testing by an ISO 17025 accredited 3rd party testing laboratory. Bureau Veritas (BV) is the nominated testing laboratory.  All Our Brand products and direct import non-Kroger brand products are required to be tested according to our testing  protocols at approved BV lab locations prior to shipment.  Test reports are valid for one year.

Samples submitted for tests are required to be from Top Of Production (TOP).  Additionally, apparel requires fabric stage testing prior to the start of garment production as specified in Section 1.7.  Suppliers are required to establish a sampling plan to ensure proper representation of the tested sample. Labels and packages are also required to be submitted to the lab for review.

The Test Request Form (TRF) and BV local lab contacts are available at the testing protocol portal.  It is recommended to retrieve the most updated TRF from the designated website.

1.3 Testing Timeline

All products shipping to Kroger are required to be tested and receive a satisfactory/pass test report four weeks prior to shipment. Suppliers are responsible to arrange production and tests accordingly to meet the shipping window.

The standard test turnaround time (TAT) is five to seven business days at BV labs. Certain product categories may require a longer TAT during the peak season. The lab is responsible to inform the supplier if a longer TAT time is required.

1.4 Periodic Testing

An initial test is required according to Testing Requirements specified in Section 1.2. A test report is valid for one year. A change of the production may result in a retest if the change potentially impacts the test result(s). Factors that commonly trigger a retest include, but are not limited to, change of factory, material, material supplier, equipment, process, design and engineering. A supplier is required to establish, maintain and follow a periodic test plan based on CPSC and Kroger requirements.

1.5 Unsatisfactory/Failed Tests

Unsatisfactory or failed test reports must be sent to the respective regulatory Compliance Manager at Kroger or GMCompliance@kroger.com for review.

Suppliers will be informed upon the completion of the review and may be required to submit root cause analysis, corrective-action-preventive-action (CAPA) plan to bring the product to compliance and to prevent reoccurrence of failure.  Failure to resolve non-compliance issues in a timely manner may result in order delay and/or order cancellation.

If the CAPA plan is approved by the respective Compliance Manager, the revised TOP samples must be retested and rated as satisfactory or pass prior to shipment.

1.6 Testing Expense

Bureau Veritas has agreed on special prices for testing packages as well as individual test items. Testing fee for a testing protocol and individual testing items are included at the end of each test protocol. The supplier is responsible to pay for testing excluding Chemical of High Concern (CHCC) test. A test quotation can be provided by the lab upon request.

1.7 Apparel Testing Program

The Apparel Testing Program and the Testing Process Map was developed to detail the apparel testing requirements, including the sample and test request submission, test strategy on additional colorway fabrics and garments, the periodic test and General Certificate Conformity (GCC) submission.  All apparel suppliers are required to review and follow the specified process.

1.8 Children’s Sleepwear SOP

Kroger’s Children’s Sleepwear Standard Operating Procedure has specific details on requirements for manufacturing and testing children’s sleepwear. All children’s sleepwear suppliers are required to review, familiarize, and follow the requirements set forth in the document.

1.9 Grouped Test

Non-apparel products may be considered for group testing of multiple like-items. A grouped test is only applicable if multiple like-items are manufactured in the same factory, using the same manufacturing processes and same materials. Children’s products cannot be grouped.

A grouping form is required to be filled and submitted for review and approved before the grouped test is conducted.  Bureau Veritas is dedicated to review and approve group forms. The detailed conditions and instructions of the Grouping Form submission are specified in the Group Form SOP. Download Group Form here.

2.     GENERAL CERTIFICATE OF CONFORMITY (GCC) and KROGER GENERAL CERTIFICATE OF CONFORMITY(KGCC)

A General Certificate of Conformity (GCC) is a federal requirement for all children’s products and specified non-children’s products that are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). A complete list of non-children’s products requiring a GCC can be viewed here. A GCC must be based on a passing test report(s).  All Kroger imported children’s products and specified non-children’s products must have a GCC produced using the Kroger GCC template.

For products that are not regulated by CPSC, there may be Federal and State requirements, industry standards and other safety requirements applicable. A Kroger General Certificate of Conformity (KGCC)  is required for all other import products where a GCC is not applicable.

Bureau Veritas is authorized to generate a GCC or KGCC on behalf of Kroger and our suppliers  based on BV test reports.  A GCC or KGCC will be generated only if the test report is satisfactory or approved by the respective Compliance Manager at Kroger.  Required information must be submitted to BV on the Test Request Form (TRF) to ensure an accurate GCC or KGCC can be issued on time.

All direct import suppliers are required to submit a BV generated GCC or KGCC and respective test reports for each shipment and each style along with the Letter of Credit in order to receive payment.

All domestic suppliers are responsible to generate and maintain the relevant GCC and test reports for the respective products. GCC and respective test reports in English must be provided to Kroger within 24 hours of request.

3.     LAW LABELS AND MANUFACTURER REGISTRATION FOR STUFFED ARTICLES

There are various States in the U.S. requiring stuffed or filled products to carry a law label and/or manufacturer registration. Some States require a sterilization permit number for feather, down, wool and other natural filling materials. Upholstered furniture has additional flammability and flame retardant label requirements in California. These steps must be completed prior to shipping any order to Kroger.

A Guidance on Law Label and Manufacturer Registration is developed to help suppliers navigate related requirements. It is the supplier’s responsibility to ensure the most updated requirements are followed.

4.  CHEMICAL REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

The State of Washington maintains a list of Chemicals of High Concern to Children (CHCC) under the Children’s Safe Product Act (CSPA).  Manufacturers are required to report annually to the Washington Department of Ecology any CHCC chemical(s) in their products if it is above the set threshold.  Additionally, CSPA restricts lead, cadmium and phthalate in all children’s products. A summary of CSPA is available for your quick reference.  Suppliers should refer to the actual law for details.

The State of Oregon has a similar reporting requirement on children’s products under the Toxic-Free Kids Act. The first reporting deadline is on January 31, 2018.

For Our Brands:

  1. If Kroger imported, we manage the chemical reporting obligation.
  2. If supplier imported, suppliers are required to self-govern and comply with the reporting requirements under their own company. DO NOT report under Kroger or Fred Meyer. Kroger must be notified immediately if any Our Brand product contains a reportable CHCC.

For Non-Kroger Brands:  Suppliers need to self-report under their own company.

As Kroger expands business to other States, additional chemical reporting requirements under other States’ legislation may apply.

5.     CONFLICT MINERAL POLICY

Kroger supports the conflict mineral provision in Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Product Protection Act and has published a Conflict Mineral Policy. Kroger expects suppliers who manufacture Our Brand products, which may contain 3TG (gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten), to source minerals responsibly from facilities outside of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) or from facilities that have been certified to be “conflict free” if mined in the DRC.  Suppliers must perform due diligence in managing all sourcing systems.

6.     PRODUCT INSPECTIONS

To conform with Kroger quality requirements, all manufactured products must go through and pass final product inspection prior to product being packaged and shipped to Kroger.  The quality audit requirements are 4.0 AQL (Acceptable Quality Limit) for minors and 2.5 AQL for majors on defects.   The paperwork requirements are listed below for the three different types of business relationships Kroger currently has.

  • Apparel & Home Agent – The agent must provide a final product inspection audit report from either the manufacturing factory or the agent themselves.
  • Apparel & Home Domestic Importer – The domestic importer must provide a final product inspection audit report from either the manufacturing factory or the domestic importer
  • Apparel & Home Direct Import factories – The factory must provide a final product inspection audit report from either SGS or the factory themselves with Sourcing’s approval.

Apparel & Home Agents and Domestic Importers are to self-govern the final product inspection process and must ensure the products being shipped to Kroger has passed a final inspection based on the quality level required by the Kroger Co.

All Apparel direct import factories must use SGS, the Kroger Company’s designated third party final product inspector, to audit the final product before packaging and shipping to Kroger.  Please see third party Final Product Inspection Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).  This inspection process will be required for a minimum of six months to a year depending on the frequency of shipments.  At the end of said period, the supplier may request for an evaluation based on pass and failure rates to determine if the factory still requires using SGS as its auditor or if they can move onto a self-inspection program.  All audit reports should be sent to DirectGlobalSourcing@kroger.com.

All Home direct import factories without Sourcing’s prior approval must use SGS, the Kroger Company’s designated third party final product inspector, to audit the final product before packaging and shipping to Kroger. Please refer to 2017 (10) – Final inspection policy presentation for approval process to perform your own in-house inspection.  All In-house Inspection Requests, Product’s Quote Sheets, Vendor’s Quality Guarantee statement and Final Inspection reports should be sent to DirectGlobalSourcing@kroger.com.

7.     WERCSMART

Kroger utilizes the WERCSmart solution by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) to help manage regulatory compliance requirements for all chemicals, aerosols, batteries, battery operated products, pesticides, flammable items, over-the-counter health products, cosmetics, personal care items and other potentially hazardous products.  Our suppliers must carefully read Kroger WERCs Supplier letter and register affected products and formulations with WERCSmart. This requirement includes existing products sold to Kroger as well as new products. Please contact wercsinfo@kroger.com for any question.

8.     KROGER RESOURCES

8.1 Tracking Label for Children’s Products

Kroger General Merchandise tracking label format requirements are developed and all Our Brand suppliers are required to review and follow the requirements as specified.

8.2 Suffocation Warning Label for Plastic Bags

A Guide to Suffocation Warning Label for Plastic Bags is prepared to help suppliers understand Kroger’s requirements.

8.3 Children’s Product Regulatory Compliance Checklist

The Children’s Product Regulatory Compliance Checklists were developed as a screening tool to assist suppliers in identifying applicable regulations and laws for children’s products.  The applicable checklist(s) must be signed by each children’s products supplier and returned to the respective buyer or developer.

 

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