Meghan Dear was frustrated with grocery shopping. Like a growing number of consumers, she wanted to know where the food in the store originated. Although the question seemed simple, the answer proved elusive. Meghan’s entrepreneurial side decided to take action to answer this question and from there, Localize was born.
Localize provides customers with a quick and easy way to get information about the food in stores, by identifying products that are grown and produced locally. This difficult, time consuming work can be complex and daunting for many grocers.
Grocers participating in Localize are provided with labels that display product information as well as unique Quick Response (QR) codes. These labels can be placed on the shelves beneath their products. Customers can view the product’s location of origin on the label, and can scan the QR code with their cell phones for more information. This allows customers to get a product’s full story within seconds, enabling them to make more informed choices as they shop. The result is win-win-win for food producers, grocers and customers.
In 2011, Meghan produced a prototype Localize label and visited some local grocers. After contacting Sobey’s Nottingham in Sherwood Park (known for supporting local producers), Meghan was asked to start implementing her labels the following week. Five labels in one store eventually grew into thousands of labels in hundreds of stores.
Localize has since won awards for the Best Social Business Case at the Social Enterprise World Forum, and the Grand Prize Fast Growth in the TEC Venture Prize competition in Alberta.
An Alberta success story
Today, hundreds of grocers utilize Localize’s labels to help customers make more informed choices. Localize is now on track to increase its influence by leveraging data collection and analytic capabilities. It’s also looking to expand across Canada (expanding the service in Ontario) and into the U.S.
“One of our greatest assets has been starting Localize in Alberta,” explains Meghan. “There’s energy here for new solutions and momentum for new ideas.” Localize is an amazing, Alberta success story that started out with a simple idea and grassroots engagement.