If you shop at Country Grocer you will likely notice the signs.
The “Island Good” brand identifies food grown or produced here on Vancouver Island.
“Around the board table, we all intuitively thought that if we built an island brand that we could sell more products both on the island and off the island would sell,” said Dan Dagg, of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance. “But no one had ever proven that point so it was hard to get support behind it.”
Country Grocer, Thrifty Foods, Quality Foods and 49th Parallel Grocer joined forces to test the branding idea for six months starting in March.
The results turned out better than they hoped. Sales of Island Good products jumped an average of 16 percent.
“I was shocked at the results,” said Dagg.
A 16 per cent increase is a big bite out of Vancouver Island’s estimated annual $5.4-billion retail grocery business.
“So if you could get a one percent lift in that it would be $54 million increase in sales so the potential for economic growth and improving our food security and supply is really significant,” said Dagg.
At Country Grocer the results were even more impressive.
“It was phenomenal,” said Tory Dillabough of Country Grocer. “Not only in store but customer feedback has been incredible as well and like I said we’re a local company. People love that fact. The increase from Country Grocer alone has been over 45 percent with this initiative so it’s been outstanding.”
And it’s not just island grocery stores that are benefiting. The “Island Good” label is also paying off for food producers.
Sidney based Melinda’s Biscotti has seen the Country Grocer sales of its biscuits jump by nearly 300 percent.
“Kind of hit home as to where we are,” said Alun Hodgson. “Rather than just bring in a product from off island from the mainland and to really point out what’s on island is special to us.”
Customers say they love being able to tell what food is local.
“I think it’s great,” said Michael Thompson, a Country Grocer customer.
“I do everything I can to support local business and getting something that you know is grown here on the island, it’s wonderful.”
There are plans to expand the Island Good brand to more island retailers, producers and processors. A program its backers say will pay dividends to everyone living on Vancouver Island.