Instore - August 2018 - 20
It's one thing to buy products made by local suppliers. It's another to take
the next step and directly invest in the production of those products.
That's exactly what one retailer and one baker are doing to help differentiate their bread programs.
In Ohio, Dayton-based retailer Dorothy Lane Market partnered with a
local chicken farmer to develop and grow an ancient grain, turkey red
wheat, that, after being harvested, is milled locally and used to bake
breads sold in Dorothy Lane stores, says Carrie Walters, the retailer's
corporate chef. This year's crop was harvested in early July.
In a 16-minute video posted on its website, Dorothy Lane outlines the story
of how farmer Ed Hill learned about growing turkey red wheat from another
Ohio farmer, Dale Friesen, whose family grew the variety when Friesen was
growing up in Henderson, Nebraska. The Friesens and other Mennonite
families brought turkey red wheat seeds over from Europe when they immigrated to the U.S.
Dorothy Lane bakery officials were skeptical at first, assuming that turkey
red wheat could only grow in Plains states. But Hill, Friesen and other
farmers made it work, and the result is a bread with a sweet, nutty flavor
no other grain can produce. After being harvested, the wheat is milled at
Bear's Mill, a water-powered 19th century Ohio mill.
"It's been one of the highlights of my professional career, and I believe it's
the beginning of something huge," Jennifer Clark, director of coffee and
bakery merchandising for Dorothy Lane, says in the video.
In Vermont, meanwhile, Middlesex-based artisan bakery Red Hen Baking
Co. bought its own mill to mill rye grown by a local farmer as a cover
crop. The company now mills rye grown on several local farms and sells
five different products that use local rye.
Currently, the ingredients list is the only place on the breads' packaging
where consumers can learn that it's made with locally grown and milled
rye. But Red Hen's baker/owner, Randy George, says that will change
soon - the next batch of labels for the five breads will prominently advertise its locally grown and milled status.
Rye remains a small percentage of Red Hen's total bread output, but its
share is growing - and the added local angle will only help.
20 * AUGUST 2018 * instore
"Local -and I mean truly local -is very important to us and to our
customers," Tilden says. "We hear and see lots of claims of being
or supporting local because we recognize that it's important to our
customers and can influence their shopping choices. Local is and
should always be better, and it's something the big box retailers cannot
replicate -though claims of such are often made."
Customers see local on two fronts, Tilden says. One, they want to
support their local merchants. Two, local signifies the freshest product
available, which equates to a better eating experience and longer life.
"It adds a new level of freshness and taste that our customers love."
"I find that you really have to
announce it boldly. Just saying that
it's local on your ingredients list
captures just a fraction of consumers."
Randy George, Red Hen Baking Co.
In addition to those two drivers, there's also a practical dimension to
local, Tilden says. "Local is quality and freshness at a value - much to
do with it being closer to market rather than across the country, and
that is important to everyone."
A commitment to local runs deep at Balls Foods, Tilden says. "It
goes back to our beginnings, when our founder traveled into the
Red Hen mills some of the local grains it sources in-house.