As shoppers question where the food they buy comes from, retailers have needed to step up their game when it comes to traceability programs.
Colemans grocery chain, based in Corner Brook, N.L., is the latest Canadian retailer to give their customers the opportunity to trace their seafood to the source. It partnered with the Food and Fishers Allied Workers Union to launch the program last Saturday.
More than 300 west coast Newfoundland fishers are participating in the program with two species: lobster and halibut.
The process is simple: when customers purchase a tagged product they can scan the orange tag, which will automatically bring them to the website thisfish.info. Once you enter the identifying number on the orange tag, shoppers have access to a full profile of the fisher with details on where the lobster or halibut was caught.
Judy Bennett, public relations manager with Colemans, said the retailer launched the program with the vision it would be great for the Newfoundland community, but found it also had international appeal. A chef at a restaurant in Switzerland emailed one fisher to tell him he had served Newfoundland lobster to his guests that evening, said Bennett.
Colemans hopes to eventually expand the program beyond halibut and lobster, extending it to crab and other species as well.
But Bennett says adding the traceability initiative was an inevitable step for the retailer to take. At the launch of the program, which took place at Colemans at the Gardens in Corner Brook, Bennett remembered one group of teenage girls who were particularly entranced with the lobsters.
“I dug out a few live lobsters and within two seconds they all had their smartphones out and were scanning the tags and reading about the fishers – it was amazing how quickly these 12-year-olds new what to do with the technology,” she said. “When these young people get older, they’re the ones who are going to want to know where their food comes from.”