Quality Market and the Nutrition North Program offers choices for Northern Ontario


Apples priced at over $5 a pound from a Northern communityTHUNDER BAY – Business Now – The move by Quality Market into the world of online grocery sales and offering Thunder Bay pricing, with a reasonable handling charge is generating excitement across the region on First Nations communities. Prices in the north are often far higher than in Thunder Bay and other southern centres.

The price for a three pound bad of apples in northern Ontario communities can be as high as $16.39 as shown in the picture. By contrast a kilogram of apples at Quality Market is $4.39, that works out to $5.70 for three pounds of apples at Quality Market.

The federal Conservatives have re-vamped the shipping program to get groceries into Northern communities. Nutrition North offers breaks on the shipping of healthier items into the north.

The online store isn’t simply for people in the north, it is geared for people in Thunder Bay as well. However in the north, the option to shop online for groceries is likely to make for wider choices, and save money too. In many cases it is likely to bring competition into the picture where in many cases there has not been a great deal of competition.

For Quality Market, talking with co-owner David Stezenko, one quickly gets the idea that their new online store is an extension of their company motto, “Let Our Family Take Care of Your Family”.

Chicken Thighs
Price from a Northern community for a pack of Chicken Thighs

David has been on journey learning about conditions and realities in the north. He believes that by offering his new service that it will be a little piece of the puzzle that solves some of the problems faced in northern communities. He has been working with Nishnawbe-Aski Grand Chief Stan Beardy to learn what is needed in NAN Territory.

Some of the effort has been in getting Quality Market certified by the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (AANDC). That process is paperwork intensive and means shipping quite of bit of paperwork, electronically to the federal government.

Nutrition North Canada is a retail subsidy program focused on increasing access to perishable healthy food in isolated northern communities. The program is new and was developed by the federal government as a replacement for the Food Mail Program.

Foods are listed and the most nutritious foods receive the higher subsidy level.

Northern Communities

communities 2

Prices in some communities can range from as high as $16.39 for a three pound bag of apples. Fresh fruit in the north at those prices is a luxury that few would purchase on a regular basis. That price tag is with the subsidy in place at one of the stores in a northern community. What is different for shoppers in the north, using the online store at Quality Market is that first the prices are far better, and second the selection is far greater.

Same goes with the price of milk, and fresh meats. Those high prices are seen as somehow ‘normal’ in the north. Likely in Thunder Bay or any other major centre in Canada had the same prices as northern communities there would be food riots.

Shipping of orders of food and other grocery items into the north under the new program is the responsibility of the recipient, however the Quality Market program has set up strategic partnerships to make that part of the process easier.

Quality Market first developed what was a 70 page document listing all of the groceries that the company offers for sale. That document was not as user-friendly as possible. The company, in partnership with their point of sale system provider worked together to create the new online store. That new “business within a business” as David describes it, features all of the items as pictures. It makes it easier to shop, and the set up for the new service is just like shopping the aisles of the grocery store.

In this video featuring Marie Mishenene, shot by Nathan Ogden a high school student at Sir Winston Churchill High School, you can get a glimpse of what kind of selection there is at the Quality Market. The video was shot at the Campus Hill store.


In this second video, David Stezenko the co-owner of Quality Market shows Marie how the online store works.


For more information visit www.qualitymarket.ca and Nutrition North.

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