With the new year in full swing, it’s a great time to reflect, albeit with a little nostalgia, on where we’ve come from, our impact in the community, and our commitment as we move forward as a socially good and for profit company.
Localize – we’re an Edmonton-based company that helps tell the stories behind the local foods you love. In a nutshell, we’re a unique grocery shelf labeling service that rapidly collects and conveys product information to consumers, making it easy for grocers anywhere to promote local, regional and domestic food in their stores. Through smartphone-enabled grocery shelf tags and a unique ‘Localize score’ that ranks ‘how local’ a product is on a scale of 0 to 10, you’re empowered with a wealth of information including the who, what, where and how behind the products you buy as you do your day-to-day grocery shopping.
In so doing, we’ve created an innovative, continually growing solution to the enormous pressure on the grocery industry to provide local food options — one of the top three consumer demands of grocery chains.
…And it all started with one question: “Where does our food come from?”
LOOKING BACK – THE LOCALIZE STORY
Amidst the rise of the ‘farm-to-table’ movement, Localize’s founder and CEO Meghan Dear realized there was something missing – the retail shelf. Frustrated by the lack of information available in store, she was determined to create a quick and easy way for shoppers to get the food facts that matter most.
The Answer? Meghan wanted to make it easy for consumers to support nearby farmers, producers and manufacturers, and in turn make it simple and straightforward for producers to expose and promote the positive realities around their products. Although most grocery stores were already offering a large selection of local food items, Meghan believed they had not yet found an effective way to talk about it. Nor was the ever-growing interest among consumers to know where their food was coming from and who was behind it being met, or better access and increased transparency around food production and process on the whole being addressed.
THE LOCALIZE LABELLING SYSTEM
Using a simple yet comprehensive rating system to credibly define and communicate ‘local,’ Meghan and our team began scoring food based on production, ownership and ingredients, delivering the very information grocers had struggled to provide their customers through the use of unique and informative shelf labels tailored to each individual store and its location relative to the item’s producer.
THE LOCALIZE LABELS GIVE YOU BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT HOW THE PRODUCT WAS MADE AND WHERE THE OWNERSHIP OF THE COMPANY LIES, AND A ‘LOCAL’ SCORE BETWEEN 0 AND 10.
The score is assigned based on the product’s performance in four categories: the location of the company’s ownership, location of production or processing, origin of the ingredients, and its overall sustainability.
To take things one step further, a QR (Quick Response) code on the Localize label can be scanned using your smartphone. From here you’re led to Localize’s online database – essentially a Wikipedia of local food, where you can view a wealth of additional information about the food item.
This month, Breakfast Television visited Crowfoot Calgary Co-op to see first hand how Localize is making it easy to shop for local and regional foods. Check out these video clips to find out how the labels can help you shop smarter.
THE STARTING LINE
Localize labels first appeared on the shelves of 24 Co-op stores throughout Calgary, Strathmore, Airdrie and High River in February 2013, highlighting more than 400 products hailing from Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
AFTER LAUNCHING THE LOCALIZE PROGRAM IN FEBRUARY 2013, CO-OP’S SALES OF LOCALIZE PRODUCTS SAW A CATEGORY SALES INCREASE OF OVER 9.6% AND GROSS PROFIT INCREASE OF 14.7%. FOR LOCALIZE, THE RESULTS ARE PROOF POSITIVE THAT CALGARY SHOPPERS WANTED A MORE DETAILED GLIMPSE INTO THE FOOD CHOICES IN FRONT OF THEM, AND THAT THE MORE INFORMATION CONSUMERS HAVE, THE MORE THEY BUY (1).
For Co-op, it confirms the appreciation their customers have for local food options, the knowledge of where that food is coming from, how it is produced and who is behind it.
Independently owned businesses tend to land the highest scores in Localize’s rating system.
The ability to celebrate and promote smaller, more regional companies that have made their way into large grocery stores and highlighting them for shoppers to see and buy is paramount in our mandate.
CERTIFIED B CORPORATION
En route to becoming a Certified B Corporation in November 2014, Localize underwent a comprehensive evaluation to determine whether our organization met a series of exceptionally high social and environmental performance standards. Certified B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, suppliers, consumers and the environment.
IN NOVEMBER 2014 IT BECAME OFFICIAL AND WE WERE HONORED TO BE THE FIRST EDMONTON-BASED COMPANY TO RECEIVE THE PRESTIGIOUS DESIGNATION. FOR OUR TEAM, JOINING THE B CORP RANKS IS A TESTAMENT TO OUR SUCCESS AS A QUICKLY GROWING, IMPACT-FOCUSED COMPANY.
This esteemed third-party title, where B stands for ‘Benefit,’ recognizes our steadfast commitment to a higher standard of performance, transparency and accountability. Unlike traditional corporations, Certified B Corporations are legally required to consider the impact of all business decisions on not only their shareholders but their stakeholders as well, from workers and suppliers, to the community, consumers and environment. Earning B Corp Certification is akin to being labeled Fair Trade across the entire business, not just one area, product or bag of coffee. It is a commitment to join a global movement that redefines success in business, so that companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world.
“IT’S A COMPLIMENT TO OUR ORGANIZATION’S VISION OF BUILDING A SERVICE THAT SHARES BETTER FOOD INFORMATION AT THE SHELF’S EDGE. WE’RE FINALLY GIVING CONSUMERS THE ABILITY TO SHOP WITHOUT WORRY, ARMED WITH THE RIGHT INFORMATION AT HAND.”
– MEGHAN DEAR, CEO & FOUNDER OF LOCALIZE
Today there are close to 10,000 registered Localize products in every department of the grocery store, and more than 250 grocery stores throughout western Canada subscribing to the Localize program, with an eastern Canada satellite office now open, and preliminary expansion into the US underway.
Localize has evolved into much more than a simple shelf labeling service, and behind it is our dedicated team with, an incredible passion for food transparency, and an unwavering commitment to deliver the straight facts that make food shopping simple.