Western Canada, 2014-8-28 — /EPR Retail News/ — Buying local food items and supporting local businesses has never been easier thanks to new in-store labels and an innovative local scoring system being introduced in 210 Co-op stores throughout Western Canada.
Co-op is launching its new At Home campaign (www.athomewithcoop.ca) this week in Alberta and British Columbia. It will be introduced in Saskatchewan and Manitoba beginning in mid-September.
The At Home strategy has three components:
- Grown at Home – highlights fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Raised at Home – highlights sustainable, quality meat products.
- Produced at Home – highlights local processors developing new and innovative products.
As part of this campaign, Co-op has partnered with Localize, an Edmonton-based company that will help identify products local to each individual store and generate a local score for each item that will appear on the shelf labels. Products are scored out of 10 based on the location of product, location of ownership, and source of ingredients. This means products made in British Columbia will score higher for stores in that province than they will in Saskatchewan stores. Only products that rate 7.0 or higher on the Localize rating system will be called out in the stores as Grown at Home, Raised at Home, or Produced at Home local products. Shoppers can scan a QR code on shelf labels that takes them to www.localizeyourfood.com, which provides detailed information about the product.
“Co-op has a long tradition of sourcing local products and supporting local farmers, ranchers and producers who grow, raise and produce our food,” says Ron Welke, Associate Vice-President of Food at Federated Co-operatives Limited. “The availability of local products remains a key differentiator in today’s highly competitive retail food industry. Consumers want to know where their food comes from and the story behind it. By partnering with Localize, we have an unbiased rating system to bring enhanced credibility to just how local a product actually is in an easily understandable format for consumers.”
The At Home campaign is the next evolution of a pilot project undertaken last year between 35 Co-op stores in southern Alberta and Localize.
“We built Localize to help shoppers, grocers, and food producers better understand the stories behind where their local food products have come from, presenting credible information on grocery shelves and beyond,” said Localize Founder and CEO Meghan Dear. “With this announcement, Co-op further demonstrates its leadership and commitment to the very communities it serves, by making it easier for its members to find and purchase local products.”
Ed Berney, North Central Co-op General Manager, is looking forward to offering consumers an easier way to identify and buy local products.
“Shoppers’ interest in buying local products has increased significantly in recent years,” said Berney. “While competitors try to be local, we truly are local. We are owned by local members, our profits stay here and we support other local businesses and causes important to our community. Many local growers, ranchers and producers are Co-op members and together we have supported each other for years and in turn, as neighbors, have helped strengthen our communities.”
Siwin Foods, an Edmonton food manufacturer established in October 2005, exemplifies the relationship that Co-op has with local suppliers. Co-op has been instrumental in launching new products, with Siwin Foods progressing from sausage rings to stir fry sizzlers, smokies, specialty frozen meat, dumplings and potstickers, including a private label version for Co-op.
“Co-op and Siwin Foods have a natural bond, both being Western Canadian-based companies and both supporting local first,” said Doug Gordon, Director of Sales and Marketing for Siwin Foods. “Siwin Foods only buys Alberta meat ingredients to use in our products and source our ingredients locally first. So naturally Localize is the perfect fit for our company.”
Product availability will be based on producer supply and will vary across the Co-operative Retailing System. Co-op continues to work with producers and businesses in Western Canada to prepare and introduce food products into stores.