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Safeway Expands Its Local Food Focus

The grocery retailer is highlighting locally grown fruits and vegetables in its supermarkets, saying that almost a third of its produce sections come from nearby farms.

Just in time for the start of summer, Safeway has launched a campaign to highlight the amount of locally grown food it stocks in its produce departments.

Safeway's "Locally Grown" campaign aims to promote the company's partnerships with regional farmers, helping meet the growing demand from customers for more detailed knowledge about where their food comes from.

Safeway says that "nearly a third" of its produce across its stores comes from local growers, and in heavily agricultural regions like California, where the company is based, that number can be as high as 45 percent.

Although the company does not spell out the range that counts as "local" for any one store -- Safeway's website simply says "regional growers" -- the campaign also highlights how much competition supermarkets are facing from farmer's markets.

Local food has become a highly desirable item in recent years, in part due to concerns about food safety in the wake of numerous food-borne pathogen outbreaks. As's Sarah Terry Cobo reports today, a growing number of "locavores" are harnessing technology to help track local and sustainably produced foods.

And Safeway is not the first supermarket to have jumped on this trend. Whole Foods, the certified organic natural foods chain, has long touted its relationship with farmers, local or not, to put a face on the foods that shoppers are browsing.

Safeway's locally grown food campaign follows on another impressive recent achievement from the company: in May, Safeway announced that it had achieved an 85 percent recycling rate in their stores, diverting hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage from landfills. Similarly, news out of London today finds that Wal-Mart subsidiary Asda has achieved a 95 percent waste-diversion rate in its Liverpool supermarket.

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