Windsor food show looks to connect with Meijer and Kroger

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Windsor Star/Sharon Hill

he development corporation’s first food show Thursday put local growers and food processors together with buyers from Meijer and Kroger and invited U.S. food processors to take a closer look at investing in Essex County.

“That’s big business,” WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation CEO Sandra Pupatello said of contacts with major U.S. distributors and food chains. “The beauty is that we have invited our own local companies in because it would take them a long time to get access to that same level within those chains and here in one room we give them access to people that would take them forever to get to.”

About 150 people came to the development corporation’s Agri-Business and Food Showcase at Caesars Windsor.

The more markets and sales our local food processors land, the more they will need to process and expand here, Pupatello said. And the region is pitching itself as an ideal spot for large U.S. food processing companies looking at expanding into the Canadian market.

Pupatello said Essex County has cheaper costs for land, rent and labour and sits between two large food markets: Toronto and the northeastern United States.

“We’ve done outreach to the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) because we think they belong here and we’ve done outreach on the U.S. side because we think they belong here. The Americans need to know there’s a huge market, the GTA, and the best place to do that work is from Windsor,” Pupatello said.

“And we also know that the GTA should be doing more work with America and the best way to do that is from Windsor. So you can see our approach and why strategically we’re in the best spot. Now we just need to tell everybody.”

She told the group of the supply chain that already exists in Essex County and the work local businesses have already done to develop markets as far away as China. “We think Windsor Essex is actually your ticket to the world.”

Ashley Aveiro, a marketing assistant from Mucci Farms in Kingsville, was showing off some of the greenhouse’s tomatoes and peppers. Aveiro said it’s nice to talk to local customers and see what products they are seeking. The greenhouse vegetables from Mucci Farms are already in the major Canadian grocery stores and are regularly sold at Kroger.

“I think it’s pretty good exposure,” she said of Thursday’s event. [Read More and See Sandra Pupatello's video interview]