Aliments du Quebec finds its niche

9/10/2012

Local food is alive and well and here to stay.

The definition of local food can drastically vary from one retailer to another or even by region, but all would agree that there is definitely a desire from consumers to support and purchase local foods whenever possible.

Some will argue that local food has no place or limited space in a price competitive environment where customers are budget conscious and pressed for time.

However I would submit that there will always be a niche for those products and that the image being conveyed goes a long way towards mitigating the current pressures on retailers by local farmer markets.

Local food can be branded differently and ranges from the local 100 km to the provincial program or the national branding of the country.

Here in Ottawa we currently work with Savour Ottawa, Ontario Foodland and the eatCanadian.ca movement.

All three programs are quite successful, but we must find better ways to harmonize and integrate all three initiatives to clearly convey one message.

In the case of the Quebec branding “Aliments du Quebec or Aliments Préparés au Québec” much can be learned from their experience and dedication to promoting local products.

Established in 1996 to promote Quebec based products or products that were manufactured in the province, they have gained support and are now a recognizable brand on the shelf of many retailers.

One of the elements that set them apart is the collaboration they have been able to establish by getting the support and assistance of all major retailers, the independent retailer network, manufacturers, producers as well as government and the established union movement within the province.

They are equally represented on a Board of Directors that manages both the brand and the message.

First the program is widely accepted and supported by the major grocery channels.

Not unlike some other programs that exist such as Ontario Foodland, or Buy BC product.

What sets this Quebec program apart is its ability to gather support and to have a cross section of products in both perishable and non perishable sides of the business.

When visiting stores within the province you will notice a clearly marked identification on the label of manufactured food supported with additional point of sale material including posters and shelf danglers.

In addition you will also see products permanently displayed on end aisles with highly visible “Aliments du Quebec” logos.

These products may not represent significant turns in inventory but they do go a long way in promoting and establishing the support for locally produced and manufactured products

These initiatives are also supported by in store communication material including product announcements on the intercom system and a clear identification within the weekly flyers of all majors’ food retailers within the province.

Other jurisdictions have certainly lots to be proud of and have significantly increased their resources and support to develop and promote their local food initiatives.  I support and applaud their efforts but sometimes there is no need to reinvent the wheel and valuable lessons can be learned and exchanged to promote and extend very successful programs.   In the end our customers will benefit and allow retailers to become better corporate neighbors.

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