Maple leaf labels flagging products throughout Black Diamond’s grocery store have customers thinking twice about what they’re buying.
Two weeks ago, Country Food Mart AG Foods owner Mark Muller and his staff began flagging products that are Canadian owned, sourced and made.
Muller said his consumers have been curious about the origins of the food for years, but making his customers aware of which products those are is now more important than ever.
“People are much more conscious of it than they’ve ever been with COVID and the hit the economy is taking right now across the country, and Alberta in particular,” he said. “COVID has pushed it home that now is the time to step up and try to support these local companies.”
Muller said he feels it’s his duty to make it easier for shoppers to identify what groceries are sourced and manufactured in Canada.
Flagging products is not new for AG Foods.
Staff have been flagging gluten free, organic, low sugar and salt-free products for years, Muller said.
“It’s been our experience that anything that we flag brings extra attention to that product and then the consumer or customer makes their own choice,” he said.
Muller’s newest initiative, like the others, has been well received by his customers.
“We’re all proud to be Canadian and we want to support our Canadian-owned companies,” he said. “For years we’ve been talking about shopping local. It’s taken on a new importance, whether it’s thinking about the store you’re shopping in and keeping the money in your community, where the product is made or even the ownership of that company and where those profits go to.”
Flagged products that are Canadian owned aren’t always sourced in Canada, Muller said.
“Coffee beans, obviously, aren’t grown locally, but if the company is owned locally and it’s roasted locally that deserves a Canadian flag as far as we’re concerned,” he said.
Canada-made products are also flagged, but the company isn’t always Canadian, Muller said.
“Local businesses are owned locally, the profits are spent locally and they hire locally, whereas these large corporate companies the profits go somewhere else,” he said. “They might go to Toronto or the States.”
For instance, French’s mustard is made in Canada but it’s not a Canadian-owned company, Muller said.
The maple leaf project is an education for not only AG Foods customers, but for Muller and his staff as well.
“More products are Canadian than I thought,” he said. “Associated Grocers, our main supplier, stocks what people want, whatever the buying trends are, but we also buy from a couple dozen small suppliers. Many are locally or Canadian made.”
Muller said he’s trying to source as many Canadian products as he can.
“Our meat counter is mostly Canadian and our beef is Alberta only,” he said. “Our produce is seasonal. Right now we’re getting produce out of B.C., but come winter that produce has to come from afar. It comes all the way from Peru sometimes.
“We’re always on the lookout for local stuff, whether it’s made here in our Diamond Valley, Okotoks and High River area or made in Alberta.”
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