A $3-million jointly funded industry and government campaign supporting local food kicks off April 25
Manitobans can now clearly identify local food on store shelves with the launch of a new Buy Manitoba campaign at Canada Safeway stores in the province.
The three-year local food promotion will see 33 stores decked out with sign-age and product identifiers encouraging shoppers to choose the more than 1,000 grocery products, including meat, fresh produce, bread, milk and further processed products whose ingredients are sourced or processed here.
The Buy Manitoba Campaign is a way of connecting urban and rural Manitoba, something consumers have asked for, said Premier Greg Selinger who was at River East Canada Safeway in Winnipeg April 26 to launch the $3-million campaign jointly funded by the province and industry contributions.
“The public has been ahead of us on this for a long time,” said Selinger.
“They’ve been asking at their retail outlets, ‘how can I buy more local products, and which products are local?’ This marketing program moves us a long way down that road.”
About 50 Manitoba Food Processor Association members are participating to start off but they’re aiming to have at least 200, said Dave Shambrock, executive director of the MFPA. It has hired staff to co-ordinate and administer Buy Manitoba.
The program will directly support and benefit local food processors and the farmers while helping consumers who want to buy food grown and raised closer to home, Shambrock said.
The program is modelled after a similar Quebec program that’s been running for about five years and has demonstrated significiant economic returns.
“What we’ve found by studying similar programs in other provinces is that each dollar invested in these buy local and support local programs results in about a two to three per cent increase in the sale of local products,” he said.
Shambrock said the distribution networks should enable them to expand this campaign to also include other independent and specialty grocery stores and to farmers’ markets as well.
The Buy Manitoba campaign includes a website — www.buymanitobafoods.ca — listing all grocery products included in the campaign. To be eligible for participation the product must be either made entirely from ingredients sourced in Manitoba or composed of 85 per cent of main ingredients or entirely processed and packaged here.
Safeway has a long tradition of supporting Manitoba-made food and “we are thrilled to be partnering in the Buy Manitoba program,” said Scott Chollak vice-president of retail operations for Canada Safeway. Canada Safeway’s own Lucerne dairy products are included in the campaign.
“Buy Manitoba will showcase nearly 1,000 offerings and highlight many Manitoba success stories,” Chollak said.
Craig Evans, CEO of Granny’s Poultry Farmers Co-operative said the company is pleased to be part of the campaign.
“More and more often consumers want to know who is producing their food,” he said. “They are seeking quality products from companies that operate with honesty, transparency and integrity. They place their trust in local companies and we take this responsibility very, very seriously.”
Several participating processors offered visitors a taste at River East last week, including Shoal Lake Wild Rice, which buys wild rice from First Nations harvesters, Nature’s Farm, a specialty egg and pasta processor employing nearly 20 at Steinbach and Winnipeg Old Country Sausage Ltd.
Winnipeg Old Country Sausage is celebrating its 100th year in business this summer, said Nina Brown, company sales representative, adding it has been a local processor all these years exclusively sourcing meat raised in Manitoba. It looks forward to a new way to tell that story.
“We’ve been around so long,” she said. “We’re hoping that this will be a good way for us to showcase our products.”
The Manitoba Made MFPA trademarked logo, exclusive to MFPA members, was developed in 1994. It will also appear on all Buy Manitoba promotional materials and communications.