March 29, 2018
Sobeys hosts Local Vendor Information Day for local food entrepreneurs
Food Island Partnership was invited to speak at a well-attended invitational information session at Delta Prince Edward on March 15, 2018. The event, hosted by Sobeys, was held to educate new vendors in Atlantic Canada about how the grocery giant determines which local products are added to their store inventories. This was one of fifteen sessions held from Nanaimo, BC to St. John’s, NL. The invitees included both primary producers and value-added product developers from PEI, as well as local supports like Food Island Partnership and BioFoodTech.
Sobeys initiated these meetings as they are reorganizing their structure to have better and faster response to unique products developing at a local level. Field merchants were identified as new facilitators to create and maintain the goal of an authentic, local offering to their customer base.
A number of speakers, including Steve Read, local business development manager for Sobeys Atlantic, gave presentations on how food entrepreneurs can work with Sobeys. Read highlighted the 4 major pillars of consideration for their buyers, food safety, quality, cost & availability.
BioFoodTech’s Joy Shinn spoke directly to ways that the food research facility can help with formulation and small scale manufacture, assisting food entrepreneurs with developing new pilot products and scale-up/efficiencies of existing products. The emphasis was on how BioFoodTech and Canada’s Smartest Kitchen can be integral partners in meeting the four pillars Read outlined in his talk.
Kent Thompson, Director of Finance and Food Tourism, presented on behalf of Food Island Partnership. He spoke about his direct experience with Lucky Fox Snack Co. and getting their products on the shelf in the stores.
Attendees were briefed on all of the supports available to them through Food Island Partnership, through our mandate to grow the food industry on Prince Edward Island. Thompson outlined how Food Island Partnership works typically with value-added products, from finding the right resources needed for their next step in business development, and also maintaining and growing the sales once a product is accepted into a retail location like Sobeys.
He touched on the major components that FIP assists with, emphasizing the ability to give one-on-one food company development sessions, finding an individual product’s place within the larger food cluster development happening with Canada’s Food Island, and marketing and communications.
A recurring theme throughout the day was how local vendors can support their products once they’re accepted into a store(s), like developing unique in-store demonstrations and tastings.
Written by Laura Weatherbie, Salty.