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CINCINNATI -- Following in the footsteps of such retailers as Hannaford Supermarkets, the Bigg's, supermarket chain here has earned organic retailer certification for produce from Quality Assurance International (QAI), a federally recognized independent third-party certification organization, at all 12 of its locations. The retailer says it is the first in the Greater Cincinnati area to receive such certification.
Bigg's first entered the organics arena in 2005 with its Hyde Park store, which was the first to feature the retailer's "fresh and healthy" format. Since then, the banner has remodeled its stores at Skytop Pavilion and Mason, and is currently converting the Pleasant Ridge location. The revamp includes expanding departments, stocking hard-to-find items such as Ecce Panis Baguettes, and offering what the grocer calls the largest selection of organic fruits and vegetables in the area, with over 200 varieties.
"This award of certification demonstrates to our shoppers that they are buying superior product that has undergone strict organic standards," said Bigg's president Steve Kaczynski, the former s.v.p. of sales and marketing at Wild Oats, in a statement. "With organic foods being one of the fastest-growing categories in the grocery industry, maintaining its integrity is essential."
QAI's certification verifies that the retailer handles organic items in accordance with strict national guidelines developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program. The audit process covers such factors as adherence to organic certification status of products, maintenance of an extensive record-keeping process, separation of organic products from conventional products, and on-site inspections of stores.
"Acquiring this organic certification helps move Bigg's toward the 'fresh and healthy' concept and its mission to offer customers the highest-quality products at the True Minimum Price," said Kaczynski.
As for other Supervalu banners, company spokesman Haley Meyer told Progressive Grocer that New England grocer Shaw's was considering organic certification, but as nothing has been decided yet, "there aren't any details to share."