Loblaw to carry locally sourced Ontario Corn Fed Beef at 46 additional stores, bringing total to 200 stores, as part of chain's 'Canadian First' commitment

Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen

May 4, 2012 – CNW

BRAMPTON, Ontario , May 4, 2012 (press release) – Based on the positive reception from customers and a commitment from Ontario farmers to beef up supply, Loblaw Companies Limited (Loblaw) today announced that Ontario Corn Fed Beef (OCFB) will be available at 46 more Ontario Loblaw grocery stores, bring the total to 200 of its stores. This program involves 500 Ontario beef farmers, with more producers expected to join the program to meet growing market demand.

In 2011, Loblaw introduced the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Program in 158 Your Independent Grocer™, Zehrs Markets®, Zehrs greatfood™, and Valu-mart® locations. This year the program includes Ontario grocery stores Loblaws®, Loblaw great food®, Loblaws® store at Maple Leaf Gardens* and Bloor Street Market™.

Today's announcement reinforces Loblaw's "Canadian First" commitment. This is a pledge to buy Canadian first, placing a priority on local and regional fresh products when the safety, quality, availability and value are right for customers.

In store, customers can look on pack and signage to identify Ontario Corn Fed Beef. Customers will be able to sample and learn all about this top quality product straight from the farmer's mouth when they participate in the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Association's barbecue tour travelling across Ontario with stops at participating Loblaw banner stores along the way. Local stores will promote each stop in advance. This year the expanded distribution also includes the introduction of AAA Beef exclusively available in 46 Loblaws® stores.

"The beef products from the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Program are well-suited to meet the growing demand for local food," says Ron Bennett, Bennett Farms, Gorrie Ontario. "The protocols are in place for this branded product to keep its consistency and high quality. To me this is a natural fit for the consumer. And since the product is Ontario grown, we know that good Ontario farmers are producing a good Ontario product."

Cattle raised through the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program results in beautifully marbled, rich, full-flavoured and tender top quality beef and contains 14 essential nutrients. All of the cattle in the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program have been fed a balanced diet with oversight for the development of the rations being handled by an Animal feed Nutritionist who ensures a balanced diet of nutrient-rich grains such as corn, wheat, barley and soybeans and seasonal forages such as hay and grass. Farmers participating in the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program must adhere to the strictest of Quality Assurance standards.

"It's great that that even more Ontario families will have a chance to enjoy Ontario Corn Fed Beef," says the Honourable Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "This is exactly the kind of collaboration we like to see among farmers, food processors and retailers to build the value chain."

As Canada's second largest beef producing province, Ontario's cattle and beef sector supports more than 11,000 jobs and contributes approximately $4 billion dollars to the provincial economy.**

"We know our customers want to buy locally sourced products, so continuing to strengthen our ties to Ontario farmers is a natural step for us," says Rodney Koning, vice-president of Meat and Seafood, Loblaw Companies Limited. "Working with local farmers through the Ontario Corn Fed Beef program delivers a taste and quality that meets our high standards at great prices for our customers, and by expanding our distribution to include more than 200 corporate and franchised stores this year in Ontario, we are meeting the demand for the product too."

"Canada Beef Inc. was excited to partner in bringing this project to life," says Peter Vasil, Market Development Manager, Canada Beef Inc. "We applaud Loblaw's commitment to Ontario's beef farmers and are glad to see Ontario families will be able to serve the high quality, nutritious, local Canadian beef they have been asking for."

Canadian First

At Loblaw Companies Limited, we are committed to buy Canadian first, placing a priority on local and regional fresh products when the safety, quality, availability and value are right for our customers. As the largest grocery retailer and food distributor in Canada, Loblaw is proud to offer safe and healthy foods from across the country. Since our inception in 1919, we have taken pride in working with local farmers, fishermen and producers, helping them grow their businesses and contributing to the growth of local economies. Loblaw enjoys long standing, deep relationships with a wide assortment of Canadian suppliers and we are proud to continue the tradition and commitment to buy Canadian first.

Among the most visible symbols of Loblaw's commitment to local sourcing are the annual Grown Close to Home™ and Savour the Season campaigns. The campaigns feature wholesome, summer-fresh produce grown by Canadian farmers and Loblaw aims to maximize the amount of fresh Canadian-grown produce available year-round in Loblaw banner stores.In 2011, 30 per cent of Loblaw's annual produce purchases were Canadian. Furthermore, up to 40 per cent of produce sold in-store during the peak growing season were sourced from Canadian growers.

Among the innovative initiatives the Company believes will serve as building blocks for its long-term vision to improve the sustainability of our food, Loblaw granted a $3 million gift to the University of Guelph to establish the Loblaw Companies Limited Chair in Sustainable Food Production, and took a leading role in the development of the Conference Board of Canada's Centre for Food in Canada, which aims to develop a framework for a national food strategy.

Loblaw's approach to business is guided by five corporate social responsibility principles: Respect the Environment, Source with Integrity, Make a Positive Difference in our Community, Reflect our Nation's Diversity and Be A Great Place to Work.

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