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Sobeys partners with Jamie Oliver


Sobeys has announced a partnership with U.K. chef and Jamie Oliver to educate Canadians on how to eat better.

The collaboration begins this fall. Oliver, a long-time promoter of better eating habits, will work with Sobeys stores to enhance food knowledge, balanced nutrition, quality ingredients and cooking skills for Canadians, according to a release.

“Providing quality food for Canadians has always been our passion and at the core of our business,” said Marc Poulin, president and CEO of Sobeys.

“We recognize the needs of our customers are changing and so we’re embarking on a journey to better meet those needs at Sobeys stores. Partnering with an advocate like Jamie only further enhances our commitment to delivering the best food retail experience," he added.

Sobeys' market research shows that 73% of Canadians say they would like to eat better.

With Oliver's help, the grocery chain is looking to "evolve" its store experience and product assortment over the next several months to meet customers’ desire for better food solutions.

Industry experts such as Dana McCauley, food trend expert and VP of marketing at Plats du Chef foods thinks this is a great move and applauds Sobeys for advocating for public education and understanding. "Jamie Oliver has an excellent reputation and lots of integrity when it comes to this topic," she said. However she said she thought Sobeys could have "found a Canadian with equally impressive skills."

Marion Chan of TrendSpotter Consulting in Toronto concurred, saying she found this partnership a bit odd. "The only way I see this being of benefit to Sobeys other than the PR potential, is if Jamie Oliver would be hosting consumer workshops," she said.

Chan even wondered if there could be a consumer backlash, particularly among "Made in Canada" advocates. "A Canadian company with access to lots of famous Canadian chefs chooses a British Chef to be their spokesperson, or consultant? The desire for local, and Canadian made is stronger than ever and I am not sure this will help."

She added however that the partnership is a novel idea and other grocery retailers have not done this before.

Oliver first gained famed as a chef on TV cooking shows, but has since become better known for his food advocacy work for better school food and food education.

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