It started as an experiment in March of this year and six months later, the Island Good initiative is a raging success.
There’s been so much success the program will launch its first phase of expansion at this month’s Vancouver Island Economic Summit in Nanaimo. More than 600 grocers, retailers, distributors and food producers will gather for the 12th annual event, which sells out annually.
The Island Good program started as a conglomeration of Thrifty Foods, Quality Foods, 49th Parallel Grocery and Country Grocer. Island-made foods are given a prominent display in grocery stores. The program has surpassed all expectations and will expand, though the newest members won’t be announced until the economic summit at the end of the month, said George Hanson, president of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance.
“It was an experiment to see if consumers could locate the local products,” Hanson said. “We went into it as a thesis and an experiment, unsure what to expect, and we were blown away by the consumer results of the program.”
The experiment was based on the presumption that mainstream grocery stores carried a fair number of Island products, and we thought people were predisposed to buying local but, identifying those products in the store proved difficult to do.
Participating grocery chains compared their sales of Island products to the same months last year and the sales lift through the six months since March was very impressive, Hanson said.
It’s no longer an experiment. It’s now a growing point of sale campaign that’s less about marking the products and more about marking the locations in the store so people could find them.
“We will share the specific results at the summit, and they are beyond anything we could have imagined,” Hanson said. “We are making Island Good a permanent fixture in the market place, to give market share advantage to Island made products.”
Since the program started VIEA has been inundated with requests from others to join it.
Alll the major ingredients for the meals of the economic summit are produced here on the Island, meats, veggies, cheeses, wine, beer, soft drinks, and more.