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Okanagan food suppliers make the pitch for 'buy local'

Growing local food market

The Micro Food Expo took place in Kelowna Tuesday, connecting local food producers with local buyers.

Close to 60 food producers took part in the event, ready to build relationships with restaurants, retailers and consumers.

"It’s been high quality engagement. Specifically for me as a food producer, these are exactly the types of clients that I’m interested in connecting with, so we’ve had Okanagan College, UBCO, a bunch of different wineries and private chefs,” said event organizer Martin Rivard.

The pandemic and now inflation has put the squeeze on many local producers, making for a challenging past few years.

"People are cutting back more and more and food has gone up," said Myrna Selzler of Myrna's Foods.

"Transportation costs have gone up dramatically, and that’s really impacted us as vendors and suppliers… That’s a big component of our expenses, is getting food to market. So if people can buy local, we can deliver it… So, save on transportation, save on distribution fees, and support local people.”

While shopping local may cost a little more money, local producers agree there’s more to shopping local than just the price point.

“I think the stronger the eco-system that we can foster as a community, the better off we are. Like, yes, when it comes to a price perspective, working with small local producers will likely be more expensive, but there’s an extra value where you can know the person," said Rivard.

“You know where your product comes from, you know how it’s made, and you know it’s made with love," added Roch Fortin of Summerland-based Maple Roch.

It is hoped the Micro Food Expo held on Tuesday will become an annual event moving forward.

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