Grocery chain and local food

Helena Burden, Sobeys Ontario Customer Care, wrote in response to an email asking how they plan to increase the amount of locally grown food in their stores.

"Sobeys Merchandising Team reviews our product offerings in each category on a regular basis. Our objective is to always offer the optimal mix of products to suit our customer's shopping needs and keeping in mind the shelf space available. We regret due to limited space we are unable to supply all products.

Sobey always support local growers in Ontario. When the product is available, we have it in our stores. All our banners promote local produce throughout the year through flyer advertisements and in-store displays. We work closely with Foodland Ontario, a division of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture that markets locally grown produce. Foodland Ontario outlines Ontario grown product availability which is consistent with product offerings in our stores."

Steve Runnalls, manager of Foodland, Stirling said local producers have to fill out a very detailed form before he can stock their products. Sobeys requires imformation about how they farm and whether or not they meet environmental, health and hygene standards.

"This puts many local producer off," said Runnalls. He said these requirements came in after e.coli was found on spinach.

There does need to be some way of standardizing the different certification standards so the grocery chains can access local producers and local producers don't have to meet a whole series of unrelated certification,

This is one of the benefits for both producers and retailers of theLocal Food Plus certification and distribution system.