Monday, March 5, 2012

A Lesson On Local and Regional Foods

Only one left. Mid's Spaghetti Sauce, a pasta sauce made just up US62 in Navarre, Ohio, is nearly gone from the shelves at Newark's Meijer this past Sunday morning.

Wal-Mart carried Mid's until, inexplicably, they just stopped all of sudden recently.  What a shame.  It's their loss.  Clearly, as the near-empty shelves show, it's Meijer's gain.

Though I spread my grocery budget around, I'm more often a Wal-Mart shopper who goes other places only when certain things aren't found there.

I've written before about my fondness for Wal-Mart.  In my past career, I helped Wal-Mart pick Steubenville for a grocery distribution center.  The same DC that distributes food to Newark.

However, Sunday proved what's wrong with Wal-Mart's lack of stacking more regionally-made foods on its shelves. I may be typical.  Sunday, I went to Meijer for Mid's and looking for some other bargains.  I left, though, with a grocery cart full from my entire list. No stop at Wal-Mart this time.   If Wal-Mart, in this case, had stacked Mid's, I would have had no reason to go to Meijer.
The arguments for grocers to stack more local and regional foods run the gamet.

There's a more liberal argument.  Some people argue for regional foods because it's more eco-friendly to distribute food shorter distances.

There's also a more conservative argument.  I've heard effective arguments for the economic development value of buying more regionally-sourced foods.  The region that manufactures and exports out of its region more food than it consumes is the one that economically benefits the most.

For me, the more pragmatic argument is best.  Wal-Mart should stack more regional brands for their own bottom line--more sales. 

Much like the rest of my Gen X generation, I'm a cost-conscious shopper who rarely has much brand loyalty. However, I'll seek out Nickles bread, Sugardale bacon, Smucker's jelly, Velvet Ice Cream, Brewster swiss cheese, Kroger milk, and other regionally-produced brands. I'll even pay a little bit more for those brands too, though, often, it's not a cost issue.

So, I guess this column is all about delivering a lesson for Wal-Mart's store manager.  Time to stack Mid's again, Steve.  It's for your own good, and ours.

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