Viewpoints

Buy American Is Good Community Leadership

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The refrain echoes back to the Great Depression: "Buy American."

A movement is afoot to do just that as a stimulus to jobs and the economy. Lord knows we need it after last week's wild ride on Wall Street, global economic turmoil and America's incomprehensible deficits! Even the SN Composite Index of industry stocks dropped nearly seven points with no gainers, probably the first time since the 2008 recession.

This spring ABC World News launched a series, “Made in America” (http://abcnews.go.com/WN/MadeInAmerica/), where news crews traveled across the nation to hunt for American-made goods. Families were asked to empty their houses of all imported products and replace them with goods made in the United States. Not surprisingly, all that was left was the kitchen sink.

Mull over these statistics from the series. Purchases of imports have risen from 8% in 1960 to nearly 60% today. Just think if everyone spent just $3.33 more on U.S.-made goods every year, it would create nearly 10,000 jobs. The series urges all Americans to take up the challenge to buy American-made goods.

One food retailing company, Spartan Stores, has been urging shoppers to do this since 2009 with its “Michigan's Best” campaign that labels more than 3,000 Michigan-made products that shoppers can quickly identify. Spartan Stores last year received the National Grocers Association's “2010 Best Advertising Campaign” award for its buy-Michigan program.

“We have been delighted at consumer response of our Michigan's Best campaign which affords consumers the ability to support our state economy. … Buying local helps keep Michigan residents employed. It also benefits communities by boosting the local and state economy by creating more jobs,” said Alan Hartline, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing for Spartan Stores, in a press statement last month.

In theory, the buy-American campaign appears to be a sound stimulus strategy. But then there is the impact of an economically and politically connected global marketplace. During quarterly conference calls, leading CPG executives are focused on growth in developing countries where big investments have been made in production facilities. There also is the issue of foreign politics and trade agreements that can work against the buy-American movement.

What better time — when jobless rates are approaching 10% — for food retailers to promote American-made goods. It's simply good community service.

If everyone spent $3.33 more on U.S.-made goods, it would create nearly 10,000 jobs.

Contributors

David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Jon Springer

Jon Springer has been writing about food, food retailers and food retailing for more than 10 years, and is in his second tour of duty with Supermarket News. His prior experience includes covering the...
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