Vancouver Island has long been a haven for independent thinkers, creative entrepreneurs, and advocates for all things local. Whether we look at arts & crafts, fresh produce, preserves or beer, we are intensely proud of anything and everything produced within the region.
In “The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local”, by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, the BC-based authors share their experiences while restricting their diet for one year, to include only foods grown within 100 miles of their home. While in many parts of the world this may seem inconceivable, here on Vancouver Island we really can make it a reality.
In 2017 the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) took on a self-appointed challenge to serve only foods made or grown on Vancouver Island for a luncheon. Finding the task more complicated than it should have been, the Island Good pilot project was launched to help local producers promote their products in retail markets. Working with four strategic partners – Country Grocer, Quality Foods, Thrifty Foods, and 49th Parallel, Island Good is a point of sale campaign that provides signage and marketing tools specifically designed to help locally produced items compete with imported goods.
The pilot project, which ran from March through September of 2018, identified 802 Island-grown and Island-made products, and then promoted them as such with clear shelf markers and signage. The grocers submitted monthly reports to compare year-over-year sales of those products, showing an average increase of 16.4% over those 6 months.
The Island Good campaign has surpassed all expectations and taken on a life of its own. This is no real surprise to us at Edible Vancouver Island, who prefer to support local whenever possible, but the opportunities really are endless. George Hanson, president and CEO of VIEA, has now completed the process of registering Island Good as a brand trademark, with a management and marketing plan in the works to support future growth. VIEA will continue working with food producers and retailers to expand the brand, as part of an overall plan to increase food processing facilities and export opportunities for Vancouver Island producers. Island Good licensing is now available to everyone in the Island’s food and beverage value chain (including wineries, breweries, distilleries, liquor stores).