- To kick off the summer produce season, Giant Food Stores is introducing "PA Preferred" shelf tags in all 156 of its Pennsylvania stores, a company press release said. The tags will help shoppers identify locally grown and produced products, and also show support for the state’s farmers and food suppliers.
- PA Preferred is the state's program to promote food and agricultural products grown, produced or processed in Pennsylvania. Giant's shelf tags will identify more than 900 items including meat, dairy, produce, craft beer and wine, condiments and pet food on store shelves all year round.
- Giant is also recognizing the local agriculture community through a marketing campaign that includes special in-store displays, social and digital media, advertising and stories in the banner's Savory magazine.
"Local" can be an overused buzzword for some businesses, but Giant Food Stores has been taking the concept seriously for a while. The PA Preferred shelf tag program is a first for a retailer in Pennsylvania, according to Giant, but the store and parent company Ahold Delhaize have been celebrating local farmers for some time.
Ahold Delhaize USA produced a video series highlighting local producers across its Stop & Shop, Giant Landover, Giant/Martin and Peapod brands in 2017. Giant Food maintains a webpage dedicated to local producers so shoppers can see which farms provide their food. The company also participates in programs similar to PA Preferred in Maryland and Virginia.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts sales of locally produced foods will hit $20 billion by 2019. Food industry research firm Packaged Facts named local food as a key trend for 2019. People still want to know where their food is coming from, who made it and how it got to the store. Many of these shoppers are willing to pay more for this kind of transparency.
The effort to showcase the work of local farmers and producers helps an international company like Ahold Delhaize feel more connection to the communities in which it operates stores. These connections demonstrate shared values between businesses and their customers, ideally building a loyal following.
Local food is a big initiative for most grocers. Kroger boasts "We Are Local" with online content showcasing its relationships with farmers. Whole Foods provides state-by-state profiles of local partners and products. California-based Raley’s strives to source items from family-owned operations within 50 miles of its stores. ShopRite recently expanded partnerships with local farmers to bolster its inventory of in-season produce.
The feel-good nature of these programs is clouded a little by the definition of local. There is no consensus on how close to a store a product must be sourced to fit the label. In the meantime, programs like Giant’s shelf tags help the banner support the greater region and give shoppers a guidepost for their decisions.