Wisconsin Web site lures local meats and more

by Bryan Salvage
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MILWAUKEE – Thanks to a new Web site that links farmers, meat processors and others with retailers, Wisconsin consumers could see more local foods in their grocery stores, according to The Associated Press. Grocers listed on the Web site, GrocersBuyLocal.com, indicate whether they are interested in buying meat, fruit, vegetables, cheese and other dairy products.

Meat processors, farmers, cheesemakers and others can check the Web site for places to sell their items and contact store buyers.

Several months ago, the Wisconsin Grocers Association launched the Web site. Brandon Scholz, WGA president and chief executive, described it as a simple but good tool for local producers.

Many grocers have carried a few local foods, such as cheese or in-season vegetables, for years, but interest in expanding such offerings is relatively new, Mr. Scholz said. Grocers also have just started to understand that local food goes beyond summer vegetables, Scholz said.

"It's also meat, it certainly is cheese and other dairy," he said.

The state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Buy Local Buy Wisconsin program provided about $23,000 for the W.G.A. to develop the Web site. A recent D.A.T.C.P. review of that program found each dollar invested produced $2 in sales of local foods.

Several grocers listed on the Web site said they welcome referrals because they are interested in carrying more local foods even though they haven't made an effort to find them.

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