Viroqua Food Co+op Blog

Inclusive Trade

Posted by Jan Rasikas, General Manager on Tue, Feb 15, 2022 @ 09:33 AM

1-up_DEI_CoolhausShopper demographics are always changing! Even in our rural community. According to the Census Bureau, racial and ethnic groups who are referred to as minorities today will make up a majority of the US population by 2043. 

Recently, VFC participated in a National Cooperative Grocers training that explored what supplier diversity is and how co-ops can begin to create change. We learned that, through a supplier diversity system, we can provide shoppers with more varied offerings and better information about the people behind the products they purchase. Our co-op has similar programs that identify cooperative, regional, and local products that reflect our values and that we know owners and shoppers appreciate. 

The initiative to identify and increase the representation of diverse suppliers in our supply chain is called Inclusive Trade. To qualify for the Inclusive Trade designation, a business must be at least 51% owned and operated by an individual or group that is part of a systemically underrepresented or underserved group. This includes businesses owned by people who identify as women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+, persons with disabilities, and veterans.

The Inclusive Trade designation includes many national brands that you already know and love. It also encourages partnerships with qualifying suppliers unique to VFC’s 100-mile local food shed.
As local brands self-identify as diverse, it opens a conversation about the benefits of certification and support available to their business through this designation.

Just like organic, fair trade, or non-GMO, diverse suppliers engage in a process to become certified. Certifying agencies include:

Federal & State Government
National Minority Supplier Development Council 
Women Business Enterprise Network Council
National LGBT Chamber of Commerce
National Veteran Business Development Council 
Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce
Disability:IN – leading nonprofit resource for worldwide business disability inclusion 

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Every day we work to connect our owners and shoppers to the people behind the products at VFC. We believe that supplier diversity promotes greater innovation, a healthier competitive environment, and more equitably distributes benefits among all community members. Our Inclusive Trade Program is designed to identify and increase the representation of diverse suppliers on our shelves. 

We are committed to doing our part to create a more just society. By cultivating partnerships with systemically underrepresented or underserved groups, we create a more inclusive environment for
all while enjoying good healthy food together.

Jan Rasikas, General Manager


Tags: Inclusive Trade, Minority Owned