Local food strategy study begins phase one
Shoppers may be approached by researchers this summer as study kicks into gear
The first phase — called the food and Agriculture Market study — begins with a series of private interviews with decision-makers about raw and prepared food retail and processing.
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Amy Bumbacco, coordinator for the Food Strategy, said the study will provide farmers and producers with more concrete information about shoppers' buying habits.
"I think that we will see that there is a big demand for locally produced food," she said. "We kind of know that through anecdotal evidence, but we just don't have anything concrete to say that."
"[The study will] really enable farmers to look at locally relevant information and see this is the demand for a certain crop," Bumbacco said. "So [a farmer] can now till up land and know that there's a demand for the product."
Farmers or food producers seeking loans for their ventures will also have more data on hand, to strengthen their case, she said.
The second phase of the project begins in June, where researchers will approach shoppers to collect data on their buying habits, opinions on the ways they like to buy local foods, and how much they are willing to spend on it.
Bumbacco said taking part in the strategy with so many different stakeholders has energized the whole project.
"It's cool to see people getting together, people from different sectors ... coming together and having this joint vision and they want it to be successful," she said. "So it's cool to see this momentum and partnerships being built, and then also to see what could happen after."
Several groups are taking part in the first phase of the project, which is expected to be completed in October. They include:
- EcoSuperior Environmental Programs
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit
- Thunder Bay Federation of Agriculture
- North Superior Workforce Planning Board
- Regional Food Distribution Association
- Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission
- Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre
- Thunder Bay Ventures
- Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce
- Northern Policy Institute
- Thunder Bay Country Market