Local, natural and sustainable. It’s a winning combination for Victoria’s Portofino Bakery.
What started in Broadmead Village Shopping Centre with baker and general manager Jaap Verbeke selling small-batch artisan bread has become a grocery staple for tens of thousands across Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
From that original storefront, Portofino Bakery now occupies 22,000 square feet in the Keating area and distributes on Vancouver Island from Victoria to Campbell River. They’ve also got five trucks a day sharing their delicious breads with customers throughout the Lower Mainland.
“I think we have a little of a different product and we’ve really listened over the years to our customers,” says Portofino’s Bridget Hennessy.
For example, emphasizing natural ingredients might mean their shelf life is a little shorter than some others, but the natural ingredients bring a great taste and for customers, a welcome knowledge of what they’re eating.
A product that is clean and sustainable, while also remaining affordable, is the goal for owners and founders Ian and Wayne Fatt, the original owners of Red Barn Market and Fatt’s Poultry, and now the team behind Islands West Produce.
“They’re really community based and have a lot of ties to the local farming community,” Hennessy says. “They really enjoy supporting local farmers and keeping this in the community.”
Portofino now bakes two loaves that use Metchosin and Saanich Peninsula wheat, which it avoids trucking to Vancouver for milling by investing in its own mill and silo right here at home.
And, by partnering with Victoria’s Phillips Brewing to use its mash in a third loaf – the Portofino “Maltygrain” – they have found a new way to use a “waste” product that further continues that local cycle.
Island made: Island Good
It’s those kind of initiatives that makes Portofino Bakery one of numerous Vancouver Island growers and producers participating in Island Good, an initiative with four Island grocers to increase consumer awareness of Island-made and Island-grown food products.
The Vancouver Island Economic Alliance pilot project, in all Island Thrifty Foods, Country Grocer (except for Country Grocer Salt Spring, Quality Foods and 49th Parallel Grocery stores through August, aims to increase demand for products made and/or grown on the Island.
Shoppers can look for ‘Island Good’ stickers, posters and other signage highlighting these Island products in all store departments.
“Vancouver Islanders believe in local, want to shop local, source local and eat locally sourced food,” says VIEA President George Hanson. “We believe that when shoppers can identify Island Good options, they’ll make more Island Good choices, and that increased demand will lead to increased production, more jobs and more production capacity.”
Look for the Island Good tags, enjoy local food and support our local economy: It’s Island Good!