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The Chicago Tribune reports that Roundy's-owned Mariano's Fresh Market, which has been expanding all over the Chicago area and now has 29 stores there, now is expanding its geographic connections by establishing "a new partnership with the Italian Trade Agency to bring products from southern Italy to its stores, a move it could replicate with other countries as the growing grocer hopes such specialty fare will help it stand out from rivals."

According to the story, "Mariano's already promotes specialty international foods in its stores. Aisles filled with foods from Italy, Mexico and other countries typically feature flags and other decorations. Now, the chain is taking the effort a step further, starting with the Italian partnership, as it tries to procure products that shoppers might not be able to find at other grocery stores … Mariano's has sent executives to Italy and has hosted Italian companies in Chicago as it tries to build relationships with Italian producers. The process also can cut out the need to work with middlemen and help the chain keep a lid on costs." The company reportedly "now receives several containers of products from Italy each month, up from perhaps fewer than one every other month a year ago."
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