How Longo’s leads with local

A look into the grocer’s process for choosing and promoting local partners
longo's experience magazine
Longo’s Experience Magazine spotlights local farmers and producers, as well as their products

Many grocers tout their policy of sourcing products from local farmers and food companies, but for Longo’s, a family-operated food retailer with nearly 40 stores in communities across the Greater Toronto Area, local is part of its DNA.

“We’ve carried a tradition of working with local communities since 1956, when we opened our first store,” explains Longo’s President Deb Cravenwho was appointed to her current position in May. “From the beginning, we have worked closely with local farmers, implementing a ‘buy local first’ policy. Today, 100% of Longo’s chicken, turkey and pork is locally raised. In season, 75% of Longo’s exceptional produce is local.”

Beyond meats and produce, the grocer has instituted Longo’s Cheese Masters, which Craven characterizes as “an amazing selection of Ontario cheeses that reflect the cultural diversity of this great province,” as well as Longo’s branded products, 45% of which are locally sourced products from Ontario.

READ: Grocery leaders share their strategies for buying local

“Supporting local suppliers is not only a matter of values, but also an investment in our economy, farmers and the environment,” affirms Craven. 

On the same team

How does Longo’s choose whom it works with, however? Craven notes that “our process of selecting local partners involves identifying farmers and producers who align with our values and quality standards. We prioritize sustainability and establishing long-term relationships with these partners, continuing our legacy of multigenerational connections with family farms. We evaluate factors such as sustainable practices, product quality, reliability and proximity to our stores. Our buyers personally hand-select local produce six days a week at the Ontario Food Terminal.”

Once local products have been chosen to sit on Longo’s shelves, the job becomes making consumers aware of them.

“We believe in the power of storytelling, and that’s why our Longo’s Experience Magazine features profiles of local farmers and producers, shining a spotlight on their stories, products and invaluable contributions to our community,” says Craven. “Inside our stores, we make a point of highlighting our local partners through special signage, shelf labels and dedicated sections, all designed to draw attention to their exceptional products. Beyond our physical locations, we actively engage in community events and initiatives that celebrate local businesses and the agriculture that sustains them.”

READ: Inside Longo's new Brooklin store

She continues: “Through our marketing channels, including social media, newsletters and local advertisements, we proudly showcase the stories and contributions of our local partners, generating awareness and fostering support for these remarkable enterprises. Additionally, we have established exclusive partnerships with local vendors, offering them a dedicated platform for their products, including a special launch exclusively at Longo’s, further amplifying their presence and supporting their growth. At Longo’s, we have become synonymous with the best that local has to offer, and we take great pride in that distinction.”

Good for all

Most important for Longo’s, both in doing business with companies and in customer interactions, are the core principles of honesty, trustworthiness, mutual respect, and voglia — which Craven describes as “our passion and entrepreneurial spirit.” Backed by such values, the partnerships between Longo’s and its local suppliers have been a win-win. 

“Our emphasis on local sourcing aligns with customers’ preferences for supporting local businesses and reducing their ecological footprint,” says Craven. “These partnerships have created a unique shopping experience that sets us apart and strengthens our connection with the community, proving that at Longo’s, you can’t beat local. For our suppliers, partnering with Longo’s means gaining access to a reliable distribution channel, expanded market reach, and valuable opportunities for collaboration and growth. Together, we create a thriving ecosystem that benefits everyone involved.” 

This article first appeared on Progressive Grocer

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