The Eat Canadian pilot project was a success. Submitted photo
A federal pilot project that prominently identified Canadian food in three Newfoundland grocery stores was so successful that Powell’s Supermarket wants to continue the project full-time.
In February, Eat Canadian slapped maple leaf stickers on food produced in Canada being sold in Powell’s Supermarket locations in Carbonear, Harbour Grace and Bay Roberts — Newfoundland and Labrador was one of three provinces where the project was run — to see if people preferred to buy Canadian products. Both government and store representatives are calling the project a success.
“We’ve continued it in our stores,” said Brent Bugden, Powell’s Supermarket general manager. “We had some good numbers, primarily in the meat, dairy, deli, cheeses.”
Bugden said the stores experimented with labelling different products — pork one week, beef the next, poultry after that — and saw corresponding boosts in sales of whichever meat was labelled.
“We thought it was a good success,” said Bugden, who said the store is working out the details with the federal government on continuing to use the same logos involved with the program. He added that customers were also intrigued by the program. “We had a lot of people asking questions. You’d be surprised the number of people who actually didn’t realize, ‘ Oh, I didn’t know this was made in Canada,’ that type of thing.”
Government officials were likewise pleased with how the project went in Newfoundland.
“We were very pleased with how things went. We saw increases in sales overall throughout the store, and we got positive feedback both from consumers as well as in-store staff,” said Jason Baillargeon, a senior research co-ordinator for Canada Brand, part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which developed the Eat Canadian tagline for the project. Baillargeon said they compared sales during the promotion to sales the previous year during the same period. “In the case of the produce department, we saw an increase — across all three stores — of 72 per cent of produce, products that were found in the produce department. In the meat, we saw an increase of 21.6 per cent.”
Baillargeon said there was a slight decrease in sales of processed foods during the experiment, but he chalked that up to a few storms during the project that caused an overall dip in processed food sales.
Still, the overall boost to sales of Canadian products is enough for Canada Brand to determine the pilot project a success, said Baillargeon.
“Given the numbers, I think it’s probably safe to say that the increases in the Canadian food products were more than what one would expect just based on a yearly increase.”