Crowdfunding campaign aims to remedy ‘insane’ Arctic food prices

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Global News | | Aug 12, 2015

NunavutTORONTO — Sick of the sky-high cost of food in Canada’s North, one man is taking action to transform the way northerners shop.

A crowdfunding initiative is underway to help start the Nunavut Online Store, with the goal of cutting residents’ grocery bills by 20 to 40 per cent.

Merlyn Recinos, originally from Guatemala, has lived in Nunavut for the last seven years. He and wife Rhonda have three children, and the family’s grocery bills average around $2,000 to $3,000 per month. Recinos calls the food prices “insane.”

“You might be shocked to find out that some of those prices exist here in Canada,” said Recinos, citing $12 bacon and $100 for a case of 24 water bottles.

Crowdfunding solves

Data recently released by the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics shows the price of food in Nunavut as double the Canadian average.

Recinos has worked in the grocery industry in the very region he is now trying to service. He wants to cut out the middle man — the physical grocery store — and allow people to order groceries online.

“Having had the opportunity to work in the Arctic gave me a wide range of experience and know-how and now I want to put the experience to good work,” said Recinos.

It’s no small feat. The endeavour will require an office and refrigerated warehouse in Ottawa, and another office in Nunavut. Recinos will need an agreement with a main airline to ship in the products. The store will also need to be enrolled in the Nutrition North Canada (NNC) program. Recinos has a wholesaler lined up to provide the product. And finally, a website will need to be created.

Recinos is trying to raise $160,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to get the online store up and running by November 1.

He plans to charge 10 to 15 per cent on wholesale prices, plus a shipping cost. He said the service will pass along the full NNC subsidy to customers, something he said not all retailers do.

Packages will be delivered three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, when weather allows. The service will offer all daily household essentials. His customers will not be required to buy in bulk; they can make a grocery list just as they would if they were going to a store, and each package will be individually packed.

He said while poor weather can often be the culprit behind bare store shelves, businesses waiting to order in bulk can also cause a lack of supplies. The result is inconsistency on store shelves, further frustrating customers already paying a premium.

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There are other stores that ship to remote areas in Canada, such as Costco, London Drugs and Amazon. Amazon even had free shipping for a while, but that was discontinued earlier this year. Recinos said the shipping from those large retailers is often inconsistent, or not available at all, with steep shipping fees.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country.  NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support and networking opportunities to over 1100+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada.  Learn more About Us or visit www.ncfacanada.org.

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