LAKE CITY, Minn. ― Fiesta Foods has been a staple in Lake City for over 30 years, and co-owner Phil Nyberg said that supporting locally produced products has always been a priority.
Fiesta Foods was one of the six Minnesota grocery stores given the Retailer of the Year award by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown program in conjunction with the Minnesota Grocers Association.
Thom Petersen, MDA commissioner, announced the winners coming from six regions in the state, at a Minnesota Grocers Association webinar held this month.
“We recognize the vital food security role local grocers have played during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways that grocery employees have really come through for their communities,” Petersen said. “Even without COVID-19, local grocers play a crucial role in promoting fresh, nutritious, Minnesota-grown foods.”
The retailers each received a commemorative plaque and exclusive rights to use the “Minnesota Grown Retailer of the Year 2021” logo in their ads and displays.
The winners were: Chris’ Food Center, Sandstone; Central Market, Detroit Lakes; Lunds & Byerlys, St. Cloud; Jim’s Market, Canby; Fiesta Foods, Lake City; Kowalski’s Market, Oak Park Heights.
Nyberg said he and co-owner Roger Teal opened Fiesta Foods, which lies along Lake Pepin, in 1990. The site has been remodeled a couple of times since then, he said.
Supporting locally grown products in the store benefits both customers and producers, Nyberg said.
"Just for the fact that we have agriculture all around us, and that's a lot of our customer base as well," Nyberg said. "So it's important that we support them because, in return, they support us."
Fiesta Foods buys all of its sweet corn from local producers in the summer, he said, along with a lot of other products.
He said especially since the pandemic, Fiesta Foods customers are interested in products raised closer to their community.
"I think Minnesota products are a little more hardy than other products, so they're growing in this area," he said. "I think people realize how important it is to buy local, especially to support the farmers and everything else."
Nyberg said customers can count on Minnesota-grown products to be better in quality.
"Anything we can buy local, we do, because it's a lot shorter distance for traveling, so they can grow them to be a lot riper when we get them in, plus they're usually more organic type of products," Nyberg said.