By: Sydney Duhaime
Here at GoBarley we get a lot of questions about where to find barley products. So to assist all of you foodies and barley enthusiasts, I ventured out into the wilderness that is Calgary, Alberta, to find where barley products were available.
Over the course of two days I went to 10 stores—seven grocery stores and three specialty stores. At each store, I hunted for barley flour and flakes, pot and pearl barley, and specialty items that feature barley, such as barley salad.
I gave each store a “Barley Score” that rates the level of barley product availability and number of locations across Canada from one to five—one being not so good and five being excellent!
So without further ado, here are the results of my “Hunt for Barley.”
Barley Score: 3
I started off Day 1 by going to Walmart. With close to 400 locations across Canada, I was optimistic that Walmart would carry at least a few barley items.
After searching the aisles I found two barley products: Pot barley for $1.36 a bag and dried soup mix also for $1.36 a bag. The soup mix contained barley and beans, and makes a great addition to any soup, stew or casserole recipe.
I gave Walmart a Barley Score of three—one point for the selection of barley products available and two points for the number of locations across Canada.
Barley Score: 4
Next I went to Superstore. I decided to hit this grocer up for barley products because they are reasonably priced and have over 110 locations across Canada.
Luckily, I found they carried pot barley for $1.29 a bag when you buy three bags, and dried soup mix for $2.59 a bag when you buy two bags. In the bulk section, I also found pot ($0.27/100 grams) and pearl ($0.39/100 grams) barley. Great deals!
Superstore gets a Barley Score of four—two points for the selection of barley products available at a great price and two points for the number of locations across Canada.
Barley Score: 3
Following Superstore I went to Co-op, a grocery chain with over 200 locally owned retail locations across Western Canada, hoping it would carry a larger variety of local barley products.
All together, I found Bob’s Red Mill soup mix for $5.79 per bag and both pot and pearl barley for $1.59 per bag. I also found barley flour, which is amazing for baking. The Co-op location I visited had about six bags of Hamilton’s barley flour for sale at $8.79 per bag.
Co-op gets a Barley Score of three—two points for the selection of barley products available and one point for the number of locations in Western Canada.
Barley Score: 4
Safeway has over 200 stores in Western Canada. After browsing the aisles, I discovered that my local Safeway carries all the essentials including pearl barley for $1.59 per bag, Hamilton’s barley flour for $7.69 per bag and soup mix.
As an added bonus, you can find the Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain cookbook at your local Safeway.
When shopping for barley at Safeway, call ahead for product availability. Safeway Canada is now a subsidiary of Sobey’s and is slowly transitioning from Safeway-brand items to Sobey’s Compliments-brand items. This means that some products may be low in stock or completely out of stock. This was the case for Safeway-brand soup mix—when I returned to double-check its price, it was sold out
Safeway gets a Barley Score of four—two points for the selection of barley products available and one point for the number of locations across Western Canada, plus a bonus point for carrying our cookbook!
Barley Score: 4
Sobey’s, the second-largest grocery chain in Canada, manages over 1,500 grocery stores (under multiple brand names) from coast to coast, 250 of which are Sobey’s-brand stores.
Sobey’s carries pot and pearl barley each for $2.29 per bag. As well, I found a great-looking barley salad in the deli section priced at $16.90 per kilogram, which works out to about $3 per container. They were running low on their supply of salad, so call before you go searching at your local Sobey’s. Other than that, this location was a success!
Sobey’s gets a Barley Score of four—two points for the selection of barley products available and two points for the number of Sobey’s locations across Canada.
Barley Score: 3
Save-On-Foods has over 100 locations in British Columbia and Alberta. While browsing the store, I found packaged pot barley for $2.29 per bag and organic bulk pearl barley for $0.45 per 100 grams.
Save-On-Foods gets a Barley Score of three—two points for the selection of barley products available and one point for the number of locations across Western Canada.
Community Natural Foods
Barley Score: 4.5
Community Natural Foods is a local health food chain with four locations across Calgary.
I have one word to describe this store: jackpot! No really, I hit the barley jackpot at Community Natural Foods. From pot and hulled barley, to quick-cooking barley and barley flakes and flour in the bulk section, to bags of barley flakes and flour in the aisles, this store had it all—including specialty items such as barley malt syrup and barley grass juice powder.
Pricing for bulk items
Pot barley: $0.39/100 grams
Hulled barley: $0.39/100 grams
Quick-cooking barley: $1.49/100 grams
Barley flakes: $0.59/100 grams
Barley flour: $0.39/100 grams
Pricing for specialty items
Eden barley malt syrup $8.69 per 560-gram container
Green Magma barley grass juice powder $37.99 per 150-gram container
Bob’s Red Mill barley flakes $3.79 per 510-gram bag
Fun Fact: In whole and flaked form, barley is a great option for breakfast. Click here for an easy overnight breakfast dish made with barley flakes.
Community Natural Foods gets a Barley Score of 4.5—3.5 points for the selection of barley products available (seriously did you see that list of barley products? It is massive!) but only one point for the number of locations across Canada.
Barley Score: 4
Planet Organic has six locations across Canada, two of which happen to be in Calgary.
Though smaller than previous stores, Planet Organic has an offering of multiple organic barley products, including bulk pot and pearl barley each for $0.49 per 100 grams, barley flakes for $0.69 per 100 grams as well as barley flour for $10.49 per two-kilogram bag.
Planet Organic gets a Barley Score of four—three points for the selection of products available and one point for the number of locations across Canada.
Barley Score: 5
The next day I visited Bulk Barn, a bulk food retailer with over 200 stores across Canada.
The location I browsed carries bulk pot and pearl barley, both for $0.27 per 100 grams, soup mix for $0.38 per 100 grams as well as stone-ground barley flour for $0.31 per 100 grams.
Bulk Barn gets a Barley Score of five—three points for the selection of barley products available and two points for the number of locations across Canada.
Barley Score: 2
The last store I visited on my “Hunt for Barley” was Costco. There are more than 80 Costcos across Canada. Unfortunately, the location I visited did not sell any barley products, but this may change as early as spring 2015.
Troy Aardema, the HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) co-ordinator from Inovata Foods (the maker of many products including Bassili’s Best lasagna), told me that in early spring Costco is releasing Inovata Foods’ fresh barley and fruit salad. Keep an eye out for barley salad coming to your local Costco deli soon.
Costco gets a Barley Score of two—one point for the potential of barley products in the near future and one point for the number of locations across Canada.
All in all, I was successful in my “Hunt for Barley.” A total of nine out of 10 locations I visited carried one or more barley products, but out of the 10 stores I visited there can only be one winner. In my opinion, the store with the greatest selection of barley products as well as a sizable number of retail locations across Canada is . . . Bulk Barn!
Conclusion: Bulk Barn offers the greatest product variety to the greatest number of people across Canada.
Remember, after you pick up barley from your local store, check out Go Barley: Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain. This cookbook features more than 100 healthy, flavourful and simple barley recipes, so go on—get hunting!