August 03, 2015
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More than 300 products were submitted for the opportunity to pitch at Winn-Local Central Florida.​

Consumer demand for local products is increasing, and Winn-Dixie is continuing its initiative to buy locally-produced products by hosting its third Winn-Local event in Tampa, Florida.

More suppliers participated in the Central Florida pitch session than any previous Winn-Local or Bi-Local event. Of the several hundred vendors in Tampa, Orlando and surrounding areas who submitted their products, just over 60 were selected to pitch to the Winn-Dixie Merchandising & Buying Team for an opportunity to earn shelf space in more than 150 area stores. Of the suppliers vying for shelf space, more than half were diverse suppliers, said Nicole Hatfield, Winn-Dixie senior manager of local business.

“We really started to notice a trend, and our customers starting asking for us to support local,” Hatfield said. “Being a part of the communities we serve and supporting the local people and economy is very important to us.”

Many of the suppliers have large followings and are well known in their communities. Among the vendors chosen to attend the Winn-Local Central Florida event were Ashlynn’s Gourmet, Cigar City Salsa, Java Planet, Pirate Johnny’s and Javi’s Salsa, whose pitch included an appearance from a mariachi band.

The items pitched to the Winn-Dixie team included finished goods, pre-packaged products and other general merchandise, such as bakery items, coffee, salsas, sauces and spices, as well as beer and wine.

Leading up to the Winn-Local Central Florida event, Winn-Dixie representatives teamed up with the Tampa and St. Petersburg chambers of commerce to spread the word about the program and to meet with potential suppliers.

The Central Florida event is the third for the Winn-Local program, building on the previous successes in Mobile, Alabama, and Jacksonville, Florida. The initiative was created after the BI-LO banner experienced great results with a similar program called “BI-LOcal.” Events were held in Charleston, South Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and invited local suppliers to present their products for a chance to be featured in area BI-LO stores.

“When we buy local, everyone wins. We want to be able to offer locally-made and locally-sourced products, so everything is funneled back into the community,” said Hatfield. “By featuring local products in each of our stores, we hope to share and encourage the culture of the local community.”

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Winn-Dixie held informational sessions for potential suppliers at Tampa-area Chambers before Winn-Local Central Florida.

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