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Doing local differently

Federated private-label products on a table

Local is at the heart of the Co-op brand—it is part of our DNA. Co-op was built on the idea of local, community and coming together to support one another. We take a grassroots approach based on a century of locally-owned businesses trying to respond to what their communities need. That helps us do local in a truly authentic way. So, it makes sense that Co-op does local differently.

Local is great, but what do consumers say?

Local has always been important to consumers, but demand for local businesses and products has grown since the pandemic, and there is a "reconnection to local" that is happening globally. Mintel’s 2023 Global Consumer Trends report highlights “International Localism” as a top trend. According to the report, “buying local will be a way consumers can protect themselves financially, environmentally and psychologically, and feel that they are giving back.” We all watched local businesses close their doors and some to never re-open in the post pandemic world—supporting local is a way for consumers to re-build their communities and make a meaningful difference where they work and live. The Mintel report points out that “brands could benefit from collaborating with local artists or coming up with schemes to support the specific needs and behaviours of local communities.”

PWC’s Canadian Consumer Insights Pulse Survey June 2022 confirms that Canadians are looking to support their local economies by shopping at local businesses and purchasing local products. According to this survey, Canadians say they will pay a premium for products produced or sourced locally (75%) or domestically (66%). This support for shopping local continues to remain strong amid challenging economic conditions and rising inflation impacting consumer spending.

How do we do local differently?

Our recent launch of Co-op Gold Bison in collaboration with Wanuskewin Heritage Park is one example of how we at Co-op are doing local different.

Not only is the product local—with bison sourced from Alberta and processing taking place in Saskatchewan—it is a true local story built on like minded values and community impact. The artwork on the packaging was created by Linus Woods, a Dakota/Ojibway artist from the Long Plain First Nation in Southern Manitoba. Furthermore, a portion of proceeds support cultural education programs at Wanuskewin.

This is a product line that not only celebrates Indigenous culture, but also celebrates Western Canada with local businesses and expertise from three Western Canadian provinces to collaborate and develop a truly Western Canadian product for our customers.

Darlene Brander, CEO of Wanuskewin Heritage Park, notes: “Whether you are in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba, you'll see our products, you'll eat our products, and then you'll be able to learn a little bit more about Wanuskewin. You’ll also see reconciliation in action—that coming together in innovative, creative ways to elevate the understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures.”

Co-op Gold Bison is one of many examples of how Co-op is working with local producers and growers to celebrate Western Canada in a way that resonates with our members—making it easy for them to support local.

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