More businesses have cut ties with an Alberta food company after the owner sent a transphobic email to the organizers of Canmore Pride. The company now said that its "priority is regaining the community's trust," and that they are implementing new employee training.
Canmore Pride had reached out to Valbella Gourmet Foods to ask about possible sponsorship for a Pride BBQ it is holding in September. In response, owner Jeff von Rotz responded with an email targeting trans communities.
In a statement following the incident shared with Narcity, Valbella said the employee who sent the email "has been removed from the company and its operations."
The business received immediate backlash from other companies including the Banff Centre, CultivatR and the Fairmont hotels at Banff Springs, Jasper Lodge and Château Lake Louise — all announcing they would no longer work with Valbella.
More businesses have now announced plans to stop working with the company, including hotels and grocery stores.
Grocery store Sunterra initially said it was having "discussions to determine a path forward" after von Rotz was terminated from the company.
However, in a later statement, the store said it had decided to "cease all business relationships with Valbella" and said it would be pulling products from its shelves "immediately."
Hotel group Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts said it was working through its inventory of Valbella products to avoid being "wasteful" but said it was "looking for alternate suppliers."
\u201cWe are disappointed in the recent comments made by Valbella.\u201d— CRM Resorts (@CRM Resorts) 1658936769
On the same day as the initial incident was being reported, Canmore Folk Fest announced it had returned sponsorship funds in full to a local business due to an "unacceptable display of bigotry."
Following backlash from both individuals and companies, Valbella released a second statement saying once again it is "deeply sorry for the hurt" it caused.
The company said it had started reaching out to LGBTQ+ communities to extend its apologies and said it was reaching out to experts in the community to implement new training and education.
Internal policies will also be received including implementing new equity, diversity and inclusion policies and support will be made available to all employees, Valbella said.