A new tool for grocery shoppers has hit the shelves in Saskatoon. 

Localize is a smartphone app aimed at people looking for local food. It allows customers to scan products and find out more about it. Once a shopper scans a participating item, the app lists its ingredients, who produces it, and where it comes from.

Good Food Junction in downtown Saskatoon is the first Saskatchewan store using the app. Dan Matthews is interim manager of the co-op grocer. He says he began wondering about the origins of his food after a 10-year stint working in the meat processing industry. 

'I see a lot more people concerned about where their food comes from,'
- Dan Matthews

"I was a vegetarian for about 8 years of that," Matthews said. "Seeing the processing on that level really woke me up to the importance of having food that is grown naturally, that is raised and treated properly and that doesn't have to travel very far to get to your plate."

Localize app

Dan Matthews, interim manager of Good Food Junction, scans a Localize QR code on a package of tofu. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC)

Mathews started using the app in his store last month. Producers register with the program to add details about their products. This information ends up on the product's price tag in the store, digitally embedded as a QR code that can be scanned by anyone with a smart-phone.

Participating product tags also contain a numeric score between one and 10. Items marked with '10' are made locally, with local ingredients, by local workers. 

Mathews says customers are starting to take notice.

"People are scanning the codes...I think it has huge potential," he said.

localize tag

The Localize tags are orange and are placed underneath the product's price tag at the Good Food Junction. (Madelinie Kotzer/CBC)

Eight producers with products at Good Food Junction have signed on, leaving more than 50 items in the store with Localize tags. 

Matthews says he sells about 100 Saskatoon-based products in his store, and he's adding to the number of app-ready tags each day.

For him, it matches the trends he's noticed in grocery shoppers.  

"I see a lot more people concerned about where their food comes from."