US natural foods supermarket Wild Oats has launched a programme to encourage its customers to choose products sourced from local farmers and growers.

The programme starts this month and will operate in all 113 Wild Oats stores across North America. It is intended to showcase fresh, organic products from local growers, farmers and artisans.

Perry Odak, president and CEO of Wild Oats Markets, explained: “This local focus boosts area economies, reduces negative environmental impacts and supports sustainable agriculture. Our commitment to these efforts is long-term; it’s part of our mission.”

To help browsing shoppers easily identify local products, the company will mark these items throughout its stores with “Choose Local” shelf tags. Some tags will profile local farmers and vendors, to allow customers to learn more about the local businesses they are supporting with their purchase.

Odak said the programme would also inform customers about the benefits of purchasing local products, which he said included better taste, less environmental damage, greater sustainability and support for local economies.