Metro is showcasing the fare of a number of small suppliers that would normally never see their products in large stores, as part of a pilot project in the Lanaudière region, northeast of Montreal.
Seventy-five products from 12 local suppliers are being sold in four Metro and two Super C stores in the region for the next three months. The products include pasta sauces, syrups, flours, ground cherry jam and frozen fruit.
It’s all part of a local purchasing policy adopted by Metro last May. Pilot projects will also begin next year in the Chaudière-Appalaches and Centre-du-Québec regions.
While “the affiliates are doing a very good job with regional products,” there is room for improvement in corporate and franchised Metros and in corporate Super Cs, said Marie-Claude Bacon, senior director, corporate affairs at Metro.
The suppliers, many of whom have dealt only with small boutiques, have to be taught everything from increasing their capacity to doing billing with a large corporation. Metro is also going through a learning curve.
“So far it’s taken us more time than we expected,” Bacon admitted. “But the products are fantastic. We’re dealing with very, very small companies and their products are sometimes very innovative.”
For the Lanaudière pilot, a regional food development group suggested 38 local suppliers to Metro. The grocer met with 15 of the suppliers and chose 12.
The local products are being grouped together in stores. Products Metro identified as niche products are not being sold in the discount Super C stores.
The local fare is being promoted with in-store signage saying “Fière de supporter les produits de la région” (Proud to support regional products) and “Metro mon épicier d’ici!” (Metro my grocer from here).
Tastings will also be held on Dec. 21 and 22 in three of the six stores.
At the end of the pilot project, products that sell well will be kept on. Products with strong sales could be sold in other regions as well.
“At the end of it, hopefully, we’ll be able to come up with the best way to increase the visibility and offering of regional products on our shelves,” Bacon said.