Who says that growth in the supermarket industry only comes from the top players?

The Fresh Grocer – a seven store independent supermarket operator based in the Philadelphia area – announced plans to open five new full-service supermarkets over the next five years as part of its commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA). The PHA’s mission is to increase access to healthy, affordable food in underserved “food desert” communities, and the Fresh Grocer’s new store plans were announced at the organization’s Inaugural Childhood Obesity Summit in Washington.

The Fresh Grocer is no stranger to the ‘food desert’ dilemma. In 2009, under the patronage of Pennsylvania’s Fresh Food Financing Initiative (FFFI), the retailer opened two new supermarkets in Philadelphia, one near La Salle University and the other at Progress Plaza. At the time, these areas were considered two of the city’s largest food deserts.

According to the company, the five new Fresh Grocers will sell a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, dairy, and fresh prepared food products. As part of its commitment to eliminating food desert areas, the new stores will provide access of fresh food to approximately 795,000 people and create approximately 1,000 jobs. In 2012, The Fresh Grocer will open its first new location – a 48,000-square-foot store – in the New Brunswick Wellness Plaza in New Brunswick, NJ, which is a neighborhood that has been void of a full-service supermarket for over 20 years.