Sobeys Cultivating the Next Generation of Culinary Wizards with Jamie Oliver

Fri. October 3rd, 2014 - by Kyle Braver

NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA - In the hyper competitive retail industry, Sobeys thinks that it has identified a way to get a leg up on the competition: celebrity cooking classes. According to the Financial Post, Sobeys has launched a new program through its very successful marketing partnership with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in order to teach the next generation of consumers how to cook.

Jamie Oliver

It's no secret that good cooks, by and large, make better shoppers. Confidence in the kitchen translates into confidence at wielding a much wider range of fresh produce ingredients than your average Top Ramen munching college student might work with. Having been one just a short time ago, I can personally testify to the truth of this statement.

This is where Jamie Oliver, a staunch advocate for healthy school meals and comprehensive nutrition education for young kids, comes in. The new initiative designed with help from the Free the Children, Home Cook Heroes charity, teaches kids aged 12-17 basic cooking skills and nutritional literacy. Sobeys will also be making the program available to schools across Canada, and will be marketing it in nationwide Sobeys and Safeway locations.

Marc Poulin, President and CEO“Clearly there are things we have done with Jamie that are showing up in our sales figures,” Marc Poulin, President and CEO of Empire Company Limited and Sobeys, shared during one of Jamie Oliver's cooking demonstrations. “We are improving sales of those products on a continuous basis — it shows up in the [merchandise] mix, and it shows up in our overall performance at stores. That is very encouraging.”

According to the Financial Post, the next phase of the program will bring parents into the mix, offering cooking classes for kids and adults at some Sobeys stores.

“We thought, let’s get kids cooking — they will probably teach their parents,” Marc laughed. “At the end of the day, [retailers] compete against one another, but we also compete against fast-food outlets, take-out windows, delivery. Our opportunity is to communicate to customers that we can help them make meals that are tasty and healthier.”

By teaching his students these basic cooking skills, be it how to chop an onion or wield a food processor like an Iron Chef, Jamie Oliver and Sobeys are helping to raise the next generation of avid produce consumers. Who knows, maybe one day one of these kids will be the one to come up with the next great prickly pear dish or jackfruit recipe. Where's my reservation?