Target (NYSE:TGT) will be selling locally sourced food products in the 25 stores it plans to open in Quebec this fall, the chain announced on Wednesday (June 5). The foods—including dairy products, baked goods, snacks, beverages, perishable and frozen foods—will be certified through the Aliments du Quebec program, which must be made from at least 85 percent Quebec-sourced ingredients. The prepared food must be processed and packaged in Quebec.
That's not based on quite the same motivation as Walmart (NYSE:WMY), which announced on Monday (June 3) that it will double the sales of locally grown produce in its stores by the end of 2015, and buy directly from farmers so that food gets to the stores faster. In fact, the two approaches to "buying local" could hardly be farther apart.
In Walmart's case, it's purely a matter of efficiency and cost management. Local growers tend to be at the mercy of big agribusiness companies—they're already being squeezed, so the idea of being squeezed just a little less by Walmart probably sounds very appealing. On the customer side, few probably care much where their produce comes from. Walmart may be making an effort, but its customers are not the typical "buy local" types.
Target, on the other hand, is an outsider in Canada—and especially in Quebec, the Canadian province that considers the rest of Canada to be outsiders. The fact that the chain is announcing its embrace of Quebec-local food months before its first Quebec store opens pretty much defines this version of "buy local": At this point, it's public relations. But let's be fair: It's also what a lot of Quebecois want. As different as the Target and Walmart approaches are, they both get their payoff the same way: Selling their respective customers what they want.
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