Food Processors Anxious To See Buy Local Program Roll Out

The Manitoba Food Processors Association is welcoming a provincial commitment in last week’s throne speech to launch a “buy local” program.

“We’ve been pushing for this for literally eight to 10 years,” said Dave Shambrock, MFPA’s executive director. He also heads up an ad hoc committee that began meeting nearly two years ago to plan strategy for a Buy Local program in Manitoba. “We’re all ready to get to work on this real quick,” he said last week.

Shambrock said he’d initially hoped a program would be in place already, but consultations with restaurant owners, chefs, grocery retailers and food service distributors took time. Support for a program among the food industry is strong, Shambrock said.

A survey done this past spring also shows keen interest among Manitoba grocery shoppers in buying local foods.

The steering committee is seeking a longer-term program to be jointly funded by both government and Manitoba’s food industry, Shambrock said.

“What we have asked for is a multi-year plan, a serious commitment by the province. So once we know what we’ve got to work with, it will not take long to put it together. We’ve got a lot of people anxious to do this.”

Other provinces have had “buy local” programs in place for several years, including Eat BC!, which targets marketing messages about local foods to restaurants, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and universities.

Smaller Buy Manitoba initiatives are already underway in this province, including the Eat Local, Buy Local Project of Food Matters Manitoba, formerly known as the Manitoba Food Charter. That project has involved grocery store shelf signage of Manitoba-grown and -processed products, store front displays featuring educational materials on the benefits of eating locally, and local food request cards. Buy Local Manitoba logos offered through that program are found on foods in just over a dozen stores throughout urban, rural and northern Manitoba. [email protected]

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Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.

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