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McGuinty wants ‘buy local’ campaign expanded to eggs, milk and meat


April 17, 2008
By By Keith Leslie Canadian Press

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April 17, 2008, Toronto – Buying Ontario produce shouldn't just mean picking up locally grown fruits and vegetables, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Wednesday as he told farmers he also wants consumers to consider buying more Ontario-produced meats, milk and eggs.

 
McGuinty said the government's marketing campaign to promote the province's foods – including television commercials featuring a man with a guitar singing “Good Things Grow in Ontario'' – has been effective with fruits and vegetables, and he wants to know if it's helping with other agricultural products.

“If I sing that song one more time in my house, I'll be sleeping in the garage,'' McGuinty told farmers, food processors and retailers gathered for the fourth annual Premier's Agri-Food Summit in Toronto.

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“The ads were everywhere, and that's what we wanted, because it's not enough to produce quality – you've got to promote it as well.''

Conservative Leader John Tory supports the idea of marketing Ontario food products, but said Wednesday he's not impressed with the current round of TV commercials.

“I think if you surveyed people who watched those ads … most of the people watching would have no idea what that's meant to make you do,'' Tory said.

“You need ads that are going to motivate people to go to the store, look for the Ontario produce, demand that the grocers carry it, and buy it – not ads that make people feel good and want to sit around a campfire singing 'Kumbaya.'''

McGuinty said farmers know the quality of Ontario agricultural products will keep consumers buying locally, adding that there are a lot of benefits for the entire province.

“(Consumers) understand local foods are good for their families, the environment, our farmers and rural communities,'' he said. “We want shoppers buying Ontario because they understand and buy into
the advantages of doing so.''

McGuinty gave the summit attendees details of last month's budget
allocation of $56 million for a four-year program to help promote
Ontario food products, including $4 million for farmers' markets.

“No Ontario government has ever committed so much money over
such an extended period of time to promote Ontario foods,'' he said.

“It's time to track progress in agriculture by measuring how
much Ontario food is actually making it to Ontario tables.''

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture said the funding puts the
province well ahead of other provinces and states that are running
similar campaigns to promote local produce, and is confident the
Foodland Ontario campaign is hitting home with shoppers.

“Farmers, regardless of what they produce, have been struggling
to differentiate themselves at the retail level, and the Foodland
Ontario label is a feature that all Ontario consumers recognize,''
said federation president Geri Kamenz.

“Within the scope of five minutes, you can run up and down every
aisle at the grocery store and fill your cart with products that are
grown in Ontario.''

All Ontario government buildings in the legislature complex in
Toronto serve locally grown food in their cafeterias and
restaurants, something Conservative Leader John Tory promised in
last year's election campaign to expand to all government buildings
across the province.

McGuinty said Wednesday he was open to adopting the idea and
expanding the availability of local produce in all provincial
facilities.

“We're looking at that very closely,'' he said. “We're going to
have to lead by example, obviously.''