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Local grocery chains committed to buying local

Summary of Story by Jonnelle Davis, THE NEWS & RECORD, 3/30/14

Local FoodsLowes Foods, a Winston-Salem-based grocery chain with more than 100 stores in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, is increasing efforts to buy food directly of small to midsized local farmers. Richard McKellogg, Lowes Food’s director of produce merchandising, shared they have always tried to buy locally when possible, but with the help of N.C. A&T, N.C. State and the state Department of Agriculture, they have quadrupled the number of small and midsized farmers they buy from over the past six years.

Through their partnership with the universities and the department of agriculture, Lowes Foods has conducted several workshops to help educate smaller farm operations about what they need to do to sell their products in retail environments. These workshops also teach small and midsized farmers about food safety, food packaging and other essential standards recognized in the food industry. Over the past two years during North Carolina’s peak growing season, Lowes’ purchases of local produce have represented more than 30 percent of the chain’s total produce purchases.

Grocery chains buying local is not a new trend. Stores such as Whole Foods purchase foods such as sweet potatoes, chestnuts and pasture raised beef from farms in Guilford, Stokes and Caswell counties. Small farmer and former director of Rockingham County’s cooperative extensive office Brenda Sutton, said there are other grocers across the state, such as Piggly Wiggly, who have a good reputation for working with local farmers. “I think it’s growing in importance,” Sutton said of buying locally.

Link to Original Story: http://www.news-record.com/business/local_business/article_02c3feb2-b84f-11e3-903a-001a4bcf6878.html

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