Lowes Foods and MDI food distributors want more local farmers to supply more local products for their businesses and their customers.. To that end they held a meeting, March 28, in Winston-Salem to get information to and generate interest among farmers.
Lowes Food is a Winston-Salem based chain with 100 grocery stores in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. MDI, is an acronym for Merchants Distributors Inc., and is a privately owned wholesale grocery distributor serving several states.
The March 28 meeting was the second of three across the state. There has been a tremendous move lately to create interest in local foods and it seems to be succeeding. Grocery stores, restaurants and food suppliers say they sense a growing consumer demand, which they hope to address. The time and location of the third meeting will be announced at a later date.
One widely recognized effort aimed at locally produced food is known as the Food-to-Table or Farm–to-Fork movement, which is aimed at linking farmers and consumers as directly as possible, as well as, sometimes, demonstrating to people the feasibility of growing their own food products in gardens, greenhouses and so forth. One interest of this movement is in preserving the smallest of farms.
The trend means new market opportunities for both farmers and food businesses. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the "buy-local" trend continues to gain momentum. More grocery stores and restaurants are using farm and farmers' names in their in-store promotional materials.
NCDA&CS marketing specialists are also working to team up farmers and food businesses in support of what they say is the state's nearly $70 billion agriculture and agribusiness industry.
NCDA&CS marketing specialists gave an informational presentation on GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) during the meeting, as well as information how to become a GAP certified producer.
The March 28 session filled farmers in on the requirements that Lowe's Foods and MDI have for purchasing products from farmers. For example, they require liability insurance and Good Agricultural Practices certification.