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We’re starting to hear back from Snow Birds returning from the US. People returning from abroad, or exhibiting symptoms must self-isolate. This means NOT coming to the grocery store. Click here to use our shop from home option. if possible place your orders 24 hours prior to your return. Also, please make sure to order enough food for the week. Due to high demand we may not be able to accommodate more than one online order per week. Thank you for your assistance in this challenging time.
Check our our new Flyer on our Specials Page. Sale runs from February 10th to February 23rd.
Local food advocates have surely taken notice of Loblaw Executive Chairman Galen Weston’s comments regarding farmers markets this week. To quote the affable junior Weston grocery magnate, “Farmers’ markets are great… One day they’re going to kill some people though.” This statement is a far cry from the image that Loblaw likes to portray of their chairman walking through farmers’ fields and joining in locavore indulgence.
I think it’s time to pull the curtain back on Canada’s large corporate grocers proclamation of support for local growers and have a hard look at the realities of national procurement strategies and how we support local economies.
The first reality is that our climate does not allow all products to be grown commercially in all parts of our country. Varying soil types, length of growing season, and proximity to consumer markets are all factors that will influence to varying degrees the success of market gardening and farming operations in Canada. You simply cannot grow certain crops in certain areas and expect to make a living. Fair enough.
The second challenge is getting enough production capacity on farms to support a consistent supply of product to the wholesale market. Farmers’ markets are great, but they’re not the entire answer to a sustainable agriculture industry in Canada. More than having farmers selling directly to consumers once a week, we need to develop systems and operations that allow local farmers to access consumers through retail establishments that are serving the vast majority of the public seven days a week.
What price should farmers expect for their produce? Farmers will always derive the highest price and the biggest profit margin selling directly to consumers. Selling direct allows them to capture the value absorbed by the supply chain between the farmer’s gate and the dinner plate. Trucking, warehousing, operating stores all cost money.
That said, selling at the farm gate has its limitations. Farmers don’t pay for the waste at my store (the farmer gets paid for the product whether I sell it or not). They don’t pay for the flyers, advertising and promotions that drive customer traffic through my doors. And they aren’t called upon nearly as often to support local sporting clubs, schools, community groups and charitable causes. A food system that allowed for easy access for farmers would also allow them to benefit from increased volume while leaving grocers to serve the public demand for their products.
Taking this concept to the extreme, large corporately driven supply chains make their money at the distribution level. Stores are simply vehicles to move product through warehouses. With this knowledge in mind, one can understand how a locally based food system would be a threat to the large retailers like Loblaw, Sobeys, Metro and Walmart. Head offices’ control of procurement and the ability to leverage the best price by partnering with the largest growers allows the big corporate grocers to maximize their profit margins. Even under the various corporate grocers’ “franchise” banners, decision making on procurement must reside at the national level in order to support the business model.
Independent grocers operate differently. Our procurement decisions are made at the store level. Consistency of supply and quality are still concerns but for farmers and growers who approach their business on a professional basis the benefits are huge. Partnering with growers like Sun Harvest Greenhouses we’re able to provide top quality, premium tomatoes to our customers on a consistent basis for eight months of the year. Other crops are more difficult to source, and a lack of technology with some smaller growers means that in some cases the farmer may lack the necessary equipment needed to provide value adding treatments like hydro cooling of produce. These are areas where investment and aggregation of supply could allow farmers to work together to build a cooperative business model.
Now getting back to Mr. Weston’s comment about farmers’ markets, I don’t think there’s a lot of evidence to support his claim. Granted food safety and traceability are of concern to the food industry and we’re working hard to make sure that these gains benefit consumers with respect to the confidence that people have in the food supply. However, if there’s anything we’ve learned, it’s been that the greater aggregation of the food supply, not support of local growers, that has led to more widespread food-borne illness.
The reality is big grocers want to support big agriculture because they want big profits. In November I was sitting in a conference where Mr. Bill McEwan, CEO of Sobey’s said that while they support local agriculture they weren’t in the business of propping up local economies. His view was echoed by the heads of Metro and Walmart, Mr. Weston did not attend but it’s fair to presume that he’d also agree.
So is Galen Weston really concerned about farmers’ markets? What’s more likely is that he’s jealous of the relationship that consumers are enjoying through these venues; as well as through progressive independent grocers who understand the value of locally based agriculture. That’s a value that you can’t replicate in a 100,000 sq ft. “superstore”.
Ontario Local Food booster and writer Lynn Ogryzlo has released her second issue of her $10 Challenge E-Magazine. Continuing her fine work from her book The Ontario Table, Lynn’s monthly e-magazine explores seasonal local food opportunities brought to by Ontario growers, producers,and retailers. Kudrinko’s is proud to be featured in Lynn’s February issue. Click on the January and February icons below to read each month’s e-magazine. The Ontario Table is available at Kudrinko’s and Rosie Yumski’s Fine Foods.
Well, not really, but with QR Codes we can do really cool things with our smart phones. I’m not a huge techie but I’m intrigued by the use of QR Codes and their application to the retail world. QR Codes are a 2 dimensional bar code that are able to store an immense amount of information. You can link them to web sites, phone numbers, virtual business cards (v-cards), or attach text to them.
Smart phone users simply have to download a free QR Code scanner to their phones. The applications are simple to use. For instance if the QR Code is linked to a website, when you scan the code your phone’s browser will automatically open up to the page that is embedded in the QR Code.
One of the coolest applications for QR Codes in the grocery industry to date was implemented in South Korea. QR Codes are very popular in Asia, and Tesco took advantage of the high rate of QR Codes to create a virtual grocery store in the country’s subway. Check out the video below:
As much as I would love to implement something as cool as Tesco’s virtual grocery store here in Westport, I’m thinking we might have a hard time getting town council to approve the construction of a subway system. That’s not to say that we can’t find useful ways to adapt this technology even in a village of 700 people.
I’ve just finished ordering 1000 fridge magnets that we’ll be distributing here in the store to our customers. I was speaking with one customer the other day who told me that she loves being able to access our specials on-line through her smart phone. These fridge magnets will have a QR Code on them that will link the user directly to our Specials page on our website, kudrinkos.com.
So next time you go the fridge to start planning your next shopping trip to Kudrinko’s you might well be looking at your kitchen appliances in a whole new light. Fridge magnets will be available at the cash starting in early February.
With the passing of each year, one of the measurements that we like to use to gauge our success as a business is our effectiveness in reducing our impact on the environment. Five years ago we inputted our first set of measurements using the Carbon Counted website. Taking the unit consumption of energy from our utility bills, as well as, the quantity of refrigerant required to replenish our refrigeration systems in the event of leaks allows us to review our success in implementing conservation efforts here in the store, and plan for improvements in the future.
This year we are pleased to have reduced our carbon foot print yet again. Carbon Counted measures our performance using two scopes. Scope 1 measures our fuel consumption as well as our refrigerant loss. Scope 2 measures our electricity usage. On Scope 1, our store measured an amazing 71.56% below the industry average (as measured on a per square foot basis). When it came to electricity we measured 39.63% lower than the average.
Our ability to measure 71.56% lower than the industry average on building energy is due in large part to our success in reclaiming our heat from our refrigeration system to heat our store, as well as our excellent track record of three consecutive years without a refrigerant leak. While our grocery store used 22352L of propane in 2011, creating carbon emissions of 34.51 metric tonnes of CO2 (we don’t have access to natural gas in Westport), comparable stores on average used 31906 cubic meters of natural gas with emissions of 60.4 metric tonnes of CO2.
With respect to our electricity usage, we measured a significant 39.63% lower than the average, thanks to our strategic investments in modern equipment and improved humidity controls in the store. Improving air quality is key to reducing refrigeration costs as compressors must work harder, consuming more electricity than necessary when humidity levels are high. Further energy savings are anticipated as we continue to replace smaller fan motors with electronic motors and our florescent case lighting with LEDs.
Prior to our renovation and retrofit which began in 2008, our annual emissions were 16.60kg of CO2 per square foot. Today we continue to improve our results, this year reducing our output again down to 10.57kg/sq ft. You can have a look at our complete report for 2011, along with comparative analysis here: Kudrinko’s Carbon Footprint Report 2011.
We’re proud to announce that we are now carrying the Flora family of natural supplements products at our store. As part of our continuing effort to make top quality food products available our our customers we decided that it was time for us to include natural supplements to our product offering.
Why did we choose Flora? Well, for starters our family has been using the product a number of years now. We know the quality Flora, Salus, and Udo’s offers it users and we didn’t want to mess around carrying inferior brands. Because we have experience with the products ourselves we feel confident in making them available to you.
Joanne Rothwell will be taking the lead for us with respect to our supplements department. Joanne is eager to share information with our customers about the products and we have enrolled her in the Canadian Health Food Association’s Certified Natural Foods Products Advisor Course. This is a year long course that Joanne will complete through distance education from here at the store. We’re thrilled that Joanne has taken on this challenge and we know she’ll do a great job.
Within the Flora family of products you’ll find great vitamins and supplements under the Flora label. Udo’s enzymes, oils and probiotics provide great health and digestive benefits too. If you’re looking for a great Calcium/Magnesium supplement look no further the Salus brand. Salus offers a great herbal cough syrup too. And looking for a great tasting multivitamin for kids? Salus’ liquid Kindervital Multivitamin tastes great so your kids will happily take it.
A great way to learn more about natural health products, ask experts for advice, get great healthy recipes and keep informed through Flora’s Inspiring Health magazine is to sign up for the Flora Community. It’s free!
Kudos to good health!