Progressive Grocer Independent

OCT 2016

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October 2016 | Defining the Independent Market | 25 Georgia; Georgia Grown, which de- notes product from within the state; and hyperlocal, or product sourced within 50 miles of the store. Still others, like Oliver's Market, have an even stricter definition of local, limiting the term to products produced or companies headquartered within its home county. Oliver's Market has a geo- graphical advantage in its location that may make retailers located elsewhere unable to duplicate such a definition. What's not up for debate is the growing importance of locally sourced product. It's one of the top demands among consumers for several reasons, according to Paul Lightfoot, CEO of BrightFarms, a New York-based sup- plier of hydroponic produce. Consumers equate local product with better prod- ucts, and they also trust local products more, especially Millennials, whose trust in, or loyalty to, national brands isn't as strong as that of previous genera- tions, he notes. Additionally, perhaps of lesser concern but still important, local has less of an environmental footprint than products sourced nationally or globally, and consumers want their dollars to stay within and support the community, Lightfoot adds. Sourcing Locally Farmview Market, in Madison, Ga., sources the majority of its product line from local producers. "We saw a growing opportunity and a growing market for local production and local agriculture," says Brad Kelly, business development and farm operations manager. "We saw that there were a lot of farmers who had a desire to get into that realm in our area, but there weren't a lot of ready markets for them to sell at and market their products." But it's not just produce or farm- raised product that Farmview sells. To find local producers and manufactur- ers in all departments of the store, the grocer contacted the state agricultural department, which in turn put it in contact with the Georgia Grown program. Many states have a "locally grown" program, which works to connect retailers with producers and manufacturers in the state as well as provide merchandising support, often in the form of logos to designate local products. e programs are either run through the state's agriculture department or the grocers association. e Buy Alabama's Best cam- paign is a joint effort by the Alabama Grocers Association, its Alabama Food Manufacturers and Producers Association arm, and the state's De- partment of Agriculture and Industries to identify and increase awareness of Alabama food products. e campaign has targeted two months of the year — March and September — for sponsor- ing special events and helping retailers develop merchandising programs to promote local products. "We ask retailers to put up displays, and we do display contests," says Ellie Taylor, president of the Birmingham- based Alabama Grocers Association. "We ask them to do special advertis- ing with Alabama companies. What the campaign is all about is consumer awareness about what products are from our state." Independent Promotions Many retailers have developed their own systems for advertising and pro- moting local products, however. Mitch Eveland, owner of Lake Mills Market and Capitol Centre Market, both in Wisconsin, uses a specific logo featur- ing an owl to denote all the products the stores carry that are produced in Wisconsin. e state also is home to some larger corporations, which Eve- land promotes with the owl tags as long as the company can assure him that the products were actually produced in a Wisconsin facility or sourced from Wisconsin. While local is often associ- ated with small produc- ers or manufacturers, Eveland doesn't shy away from embracing the larger companies, provided that they stay true to the values that make buying local so appealing in the first place. Eveland admits that sourcing locally can be a larger headache than simply turning to a wholesaler, with which it's easy to place an order by simply punching in what you want on a computer. He further cautions that local products may have a lower margin and be more expensive for consumers. "But don't let that be the reason not to try it," Eveland urges. "People are willing to pay more because of the story and because of the fact they are supporting somebody nearby." PGI "People are willing to pay more because of the story and because of the fact they are supporting somebody nearby." —Mitch Eveland, Lake Mills Market and Capitol Centre Market CELEBRATE LOCAL Lake Mills Market holds an annual local sale and promotes 36 items in its ad. On a daily basis, the store promotes its local products with the easily recognizable Wise Buy owl logo.

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