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New Seasons Expands Local Food Entrepreneurs Program

New Seasons Market's Local Finds Program

Portland, Ore.-based New Seasons Market has expanded Local Finds, its program that encourages small local crafters, food artisans and growers to partner with the grocer to bring their products to market. Through the Local Finds program, vendors get tailored help with everything from packaging to FDA approvals and product marketing. The program builds on New Seasons Market’s 14 years of experience helping local producers while offering a more streamlined product submission process.

Nearly 100 products were submitted to New Seasons Market during a six-month Local Finds pilot that wrapped up this spring. Most of the products submitted during the pilot phase are still on the shelves today. Local Finds products have ran the gamut from gluten-free muffins to kimchee to cycling hats, adding to the thousands of local products already available at New Seasons Market. Local Finds favorites include Missionary Chocolates, Red Duck Ketchup, Genki-su Japanese drinking vinegar and Howling Sun Sauces.

“We took everything we had learned from more than a decade of helping local cooks, crafters and farmers and developed the Local Finds program,” said Chris Tjersland, New Seasons Market’s private brands development manager. “While we are thrilled to have so many local products on our shelves, the Local Finds program is about more than that. It’s designed to work with vendors so that they get the right help at the right time so that they can grow sustainably. It’s about helping local entrepreneurs—whether they are growing pears or making cookies—succeed at a pace that’s right for them.”

Since the beginning, all New Seasons Market staff, no matter what their department, have been encouraged to champion local products and producers, according to the company. The result is a network of relationships between staff and local vendors from across the region. The Local Finds program makes that connection even easier, helping staff champion a local foodie, grower or crafter and make the bridge to company buyers.

“Chedz started as a snack I would make for my family and friends. They loved it and kept asking for more. When I decided to try to take the product to market, I knew I was going to need some help,” said Susan Hall, Local Finds vendor and creator of the baked cheese snack Chedz. “The New Seasons Local Finds program has been a very positive experience and is such a clear expression of the company’s focus on helping small, local vendors. Everyone I’ve worked with has been a champion for Chedz. We started selling at the Williams store the first week of December, and today we are in seven stores and hope to grow to all 13 soon.”

Chedz, which is sold under Hall Brands, has become so popular that the company recently added gluten-free options.

“While we are proud of Local Finds, it’s really not a new idea for New Seasons Market. We’ve been working in partnership with local farmers, cooks and crafters for the last 14 years. We created the Local Finds program as a way to maximize what we were already doing,” said John Boyle, New Seasons Market’s director of merchandising and buying. “New Seasons Market was founded with the idea of helping the regional food economy thrive—that means building long-term relationships with local family farms, helping home cooks figure out how to connect to customers, and lending a hand when one of our growers needs help getting their harvest in. We are passionate about working with local vendors, and have helped literally thousands of people and businesses succeed—there’s nothing better.”

Vendors who wish to submit a product to the Local Finds program can go to the Solutions Counter at any New Seasons Market store, ask for the Local Finds application and submit their product on the spot.

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