By Stephen Dafoe
Mornville – Sobeys franchise owner Stuart Trenchard is excited about a new fresh direction he and fellow Sobeys stores are unveiling for their customers this week. The company has teamed with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to bring a healthier choice to the grocery chain.
“We weren’t taking control of people’s food,” Tranchard said of the industry’s position of straddling the fence. “We weren’t giving them the healthiest options. What Sobeys chose to do is jump off the fence. They got on board with Jamie Oliver and created this Better Food For All rally.”
The initiative takes a similar approach to Oliver’s work with schools and brings it to the grocery aisle. Trenchard said the initiative includes some commitments to shoppers: 100 per cent guarantee on food that is a sustainable product that is better for consumers. “Our produce department is our big jumping off point,” he said, adding his new produce manager is working hard to ensure the store carries the freshest products possible. “He’s working hard with all our people to make sure they understand what top quality produce means. We had some issues with quality before and we’re making sure we are not leaving our shrink out on the counter. We are making sure we have the top quality produce in town and then making sure we’ve expanded our assortment so we have everybody’s cooking needs taken care of.”
Trenchard said the program continues to what they are calling their three humane proteins – pork, chicken and beef, the latter from a ranch just outside Calgary. “It’s humane meat. No growth hormones, no steroids, and the animals are allowed to do what they are built to do, to go out and enjoy just eating off the range,” he said. “Nobody was taking control of the food. Nobody was making sure that our food resources were sustainable. Nobody was taking a big stance on it and we felt somebody needed to step forward and take control of making sure people had good affordable food that was good for you. That is what Sobeys has decided to do.”
The Morinville Sobeys will now carry a larger variety of health foods, including chia seeds, hemp seeds and a variety of natural source foods. The Deli will carry a new line of Schwartz’s Montréal smoked meat sandwiches and the bakery is launching a new line of 24 varieties of Artisan breads.
Beyond the expanded offerings of healthier and fresher products, the Morinville store is taking a fresh look at local collaboration. Trenchard is partnering with local chef Mark Swerda who will come to the store on a regular basis to teach people some recipes. Those recipes extend beyond customers to Trenchard’s staff as well. “It’s about teaching our team how to cook better and how to recommend with passion,” Trenchard said.
But it is more than employee and customer passion Sobeys is catering to locally. Tranchard has partnered with Morinville Community High School teacher Neil Korotash and his new Urban Agriculture class to offer assistance and will be working with Notre Dame’s Green Team and a new program at Primeau. Trenchard said the Urban Agriculture class would grow fresh herbs for Sobeys who will sell them to help fund the program at the high school. “That’s the kind of stuff we’re doing and it fits in with the Town’s [slogan] Growing Together,” he said. “How much better can you get.”
Sobeys will be launching the new Better Food For All approach Friday at the store with a customer barbecue with entertainment and plenty of in-store demonstrations.