Not only is Sobeys taking action to be a more sustainable business, we are making it possible for our customers to adopt more sustainable lifestyles through the products and services that we offer. Together we can support our communities with local sourcing. And we can support healthier choices through our Compliments private label products, fresh food offerings and the advice we offer in Inspired magazine and at Compliments.ca.
Our commitment to the communities that we serve, including local growers and producers, is part of a heritage that dates back 103 years to our roots as a small meat delivery business in Stellarton, Nova Scotia.
While we are proud of our Buy Local progress across the country, we are continually working to expand our assortment of locally grown or produced products. And we know now more than ever, customers have a strong desire to understand more about the food they buy. To promote these products and our local suppliers, we use our flyers and in-store point-of-sale materials to communicate where in the region local food is grown, how it is grown and who is growing it.
Consistent with this commitment, in 2008 Sobeys Atlantic introduced the Choose Atlantic program, a multifaceted campaign aimed at strengthening our relationships in the communities where we live, work, learn and play by expanding our local supplier network, and building awareness of locally grown and produced products. In its first year, this program helped Sobeys Atlantic increase purchases of Atlantic Canadian produce by more than 25%. Today, Sobeys Atlantic works with hundreds of local growers and producers, and purchases hundreds of millions of dollars worth of locally produced food annually. Currently, more than 2,800 products are promoted throughout our Atlantic store network as part of the Choose Atlantic program.
Sobeys Québec proudly champions Québec products with a new IGA in-store signage program identifying Québec products listed in the Aliments du Québec database. Product origin is a strong determining factor in our customers purchasing choices, and with the new blue shelf labels it is now much easier for them to make choices that encourage Québec producers.
Aliments du Québec is an organization whose mission is to promote Québec agri-food products. Through promotional and branding activities, Aliments du Québec contributes to substantially increasing market shares of Québec agri-food products on the domestic market.
In addition to purchasing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Ontario grown or raised products every year, Sobeys Ontario works closely with Foodland Ontario, the province’s program to promote Ontario producers, to develop marketing and merchandising programs for Ontario products. To further increase consumer awareness and knowledge of Ontario products and build upon Foodland Ontario’s efforts, we have introduced the “Ontario Fresh Pick” program into the region’s Foodland stores and launched a “Grown in Ontario for Sobeys” program.
Through such efforts, Sobeys Ontario is helping Ontario growers provide their products to Ontarians and capture opportunities to expand their products into other regions.
The Thrifty Foods "We Pick B.C. First" program demonstrates to our customers the substantial commitment we have to pick British Columbia suppliers and producers first. In-store "We Pick B.C. First" product identifiers help customers easily identify products that are grown, made or processed in British Columbia.
Our relationship between Pentlatch Seafoods, a shellfish aquaculture company wholly owned and operated by the K'ómoks First Nation allows our customers exclusive access to the 'Komo Gway' brand of premium oysters and clams at all 26 Thrifty Foods stores in British Columbia.
The shellfish are traditionally harvested from the nutrient-rich waters of Baynes Sound, Vancouver Island, by the K'omoks First Nation using traditional and sustainable harvesting practices to ensure the sustainability of the seas and its creatures for generations to come.
All of our regions have programs in place to promote locally grown or produced products and continuously seek new ways to increase their assortment of locally sourced products. We buy local first when we can be sure that our food safety and quality standards are met and the supply is consistent, reliable and competitively priced.
We know through our own research that local sourcing is an important factor for our customers in purchasing fresh foods, such as fruit and vegetables, bread and bakery products, freshly prepared dishes, milk, eggs, meat, fish and poultry. At the same time, our customers are becoming increasingly conscious of the importance of sustaining local economies, especially small producers. Buying local also reduces the environmental impact of transporting goods long distances.
To ensure we continue to increase our sales of locally produced goods, we are in the final stages of developing an integrated sourcing strategy within which each operating region will build more local opportunities into their individual business plans.