It’s time to tackle out-of-stocks
Changing retail spaces
THE FARM BOY WAY
Co-CEOs Jeff York and Jean-Louis Bellemare on keeping things fresh and wowing customers
NO MATTER HOW YOU SEE IT, THE NUMBERS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT.
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Visit us at subaruﬂeet.ca 1. ALG named Subaru the Top Mainstream Brand for Residual Value in the 2019 Canadian Residual Value Awards. ALG is the benchmark for residual value projections in North America, publishing residual values for all vehicles in the United States and Canada. For more information, visit www.alg.com. 2. Based on IHS Markit Vehicles in Operation as of June 30, 2018 for Model Years 2009 to 2018 vs Total New Registrations of those vehicles.
CONTENTS February 2020 COVER STORY
Volume 134 Number 01
KEEPING IT FRESH Farm Boy continues to wow
5 Front Desk 17 Shopper Sense 54 Checking Out
by constantly improving its fresh market concept
6 The Buzz
Comings and goings, store openings, awards, events, etc.
8 Oumar Barou Togola
Farafena’s co-founder is bringing African superfoods to North America
31 As the way consumers
11 Taking aim at theft
Staggering losses and safety concerns are spurring new solutions to retail theft
shop for food is evolving, so, too, is grocery store design
13 Cooling on keto
THE PERSISTENT PROBLEM OF OUT-OFSTOCKS
Survey finds Canadians who have tried the diet aren’t sticking to it
14 Craving halal innovation As expectations rise, retailers should make space for more interesting halal products
36 How can grocers tackle
43 Smooth operator
Butters and spreads are hot, thanks to diet trends and product ingenuity
this longstanding challenge once and for all?
47 New on shelf
Shining the spotlight on the latest products hitting shelves
48 It’s in the cards
Thanks to millennial appeal and high-margin potential, greeting cards are still big business
50 Jerky: Four things to know From its protein power to meatless options, learn more about this booming category
52 Oh, baby!
COVER PHOTO: JESSICA DEEKS
Nielsen data reveals how baby care products have been performing
FOLLOW US ON @CanadianGrocer Canadian Grocer Magazine @CanadianGrocerMagazine February 2020 Canadian Grocer
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AT THE END OF last year, a reader in the Greater Toronto Area reached out. In the process of renovating an old building, she stumbled upon a stack of Canadian Grocers. What’s remarkable is that these magazines (or, more correctly, “weekly papers”) were published more than 100 years ago! Generously, she offered to send them our way. When they arrived in the office a few days later—yellowed from age, but otherwise well preserved—we were fascinated. Carefully, we pored over the pages filled with stories like the “Serious sugar situation” in August 1918; the Christmas turkey shortage of 1919; and the more sobering wartime messages: “Buy Victory Bonds—we owe it to our gallant fighting men.” Reading through the “papers” again this week, I was struck by some similarities, too: how grocers a century ago were also trying to navigate a constantly changing business. While in this issue we look at how grocers are changing up store designs to lure shoppers and get them to stay longer (p. 31), in December 1918 Canadian Grocer was reporting on a Toronto merchant who found that
adding a meat department to his grocery business was “One of the most effective means of drawing trade.” The logic, behind this: “The store that meets the entire needs of the home as far as food products are concerned must of necessity be assured of a large measure of success.” These weekly papers reminded us of Canadian Grocer’s long history reporting on this industry (which we’ve been doing since 1886) and provide a fascinating glimpse into grocery at a particular moment in a time. Perhaps 100 years from now, someone will stumble upon this February issue and be confounded by the keto diet (p.13) or bemused that retailers were struggling with out-of-stocks (p. 36) or amazed that in-store vertical gardens were still such a novelty back in 2020. It’s a fun thought.
Shellee Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief
The grocery industry is changing rapidly. Keep up to date on the latest news by signing up for our e-newsletter. It’s free and we’ll deliver it to your inbox three times a week.
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February 2020 Canadian Grocer
THE BUZZ The Ontario debut of Rachelle Béry coincided with the grand re-opening of Sobeys’ Glendale location in St. Catharines
In Canadian Grocer news, VANESSA PETERS is the new publisher. Peters held key sales and s ales management roles at Canadian Grocer between 2005 and 2015 and returned to the brand in early 2017. She has been in the role of associate publisher since January 2018. “Vanessa has a passion for the grocery business and extensive experience in business-to-business media, which makes her the ideal person to lead the Canadian Grocer team,” says Jennifer Litterick, CEO of EnsembleIQ, the parent company of Canadian Grocer. “She has earned the respect and trust of both her colleagues and industry peers, and I am confident she will continue to collaborate with our clients and partners to support the grocery industry and drive growth for the business.”
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
The latest news in the grocery biz
T&T Supermarket shuttered its downtown Toronto location at the end of January. The Loblaw-owned Asian grocer was forced to close the 41,000-sq.-ft. Cherry Street location as a result of the city’s waterfront revitalization project. T&T says it is actively searching for another downtown location to serve its customers.
Sobeys’ Rachelle Béry banner made its debut in Ontario and British Columbia in late January. These first two Rachelle Béry boutiques outside of Quebec are located within a Sobeys in St. Catharines, Ont., and inside a Safeway in Vancouver. The 30-year-old natural and organic goods banner is well known in Quebec where there are 11 standalone stores and more than 50 boutiques located within IGAs. Unlike in Quebec, the two new 1,200-sq.-ft. boutiques will not sell food or private-label products but will carry an assortment of natural and organic cosmetics, beauty, and wellness items. Sobeys has not revealed plans for further expansion of Rachelle Béry, but spokesperson Cynthia Thompson told Canadian Grocer Sobeys would be watching customer response to the first couple of locations closely and that they were excited about the potential of the brand outside of Quebec. FARM BOY opened its 30th location in the Ontario city of St. Catharines on Jan. 30. (Read more on Farm Boy on page 18.) In December, the fresh market chain announced aggressive expansion plans over the next two years that will see it add five locations in Toronto, two in Ottawa (including a relocation) and one in Newmarket, Ont. GIANT TIGER has revealed plans to add to its store count this summer. The discount chain says it will open stores in the Ontario cities of North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie on July 25. The retailer is in expansion mode: it recently broke ground on a home office and flagship store in Ottawa and has stated its aim to open 10 to 15 stores per year.
COMINGS AND GOINGS DENIS GENDRON, president
of United Grocers Inc. (UGI) has announced he is retiring at the end of June, after nine years in the role. A search is underway for Gendron’s replacement. Kruger Products has announced that NANCY MARCUS, its chief marketing officer for North America, is retiring on March 1 after 19 years with the company. Former PepsiCo executive SUSAN IRVING will take over the CMO role from Marcus. STACEY KRAVITZ has been
promoted to senior vicepresident of sales at UNFI Canada. Kravitz joined UNFI in 2016 following a nearly 20-year stint at Kraft Heinz. JOANNE HILLION, a CPG veteran with experience at Mars, Reckitt Benckiser and Pepsi, has joined UNFI in the role of vice-president of sales. ERIN ROONEY is now vice-president of sales and marketing at McCormick & Company. Previously, Rooney held senior roles at Andrew Peller Limited and SC Johnson.
ROBERT ISABELLA is chief supply chain officer at B.C.based Silver Hills Bakery. Previously, Isabella spent 16 years at Weston Foods.
The San Diego Convention Center will once again host The NGA Show 2020 from Feb. 23 to 26. Visit ngashow.com for details. The Convenience U CARWACS Show will
take place March 3 to 4 at the Toronto Congress Centre. For more info, visit convenienceu.ca Seafood Expo North America returns to the
Boston Convention and Exhibition Center from March 15 to 17. For details visit seafoodexpo.com SIAL Canada will take
place at Montreal’s Palais des congrès from April 15 to 17. Visit sialcanada.com for details. The Vancouver Convention Centre East Building will host CFIG’s Grocery & Specialty Food West Trade Show and Conference from April 27
to 28. Visit gsfshow.com for info. The Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s Convention and Trade Show takes place at the
Metro Toronto Convention Centre (South Building) May 12 to 14. Visit cpma. ca for details.
GIVING BACK VINCE’S MARKET has wrapped up the second year of its Community Product Initiative, raising more than $15,000 for worthy causes in each of the four Ontario communities it serves. Holland Landing Food Pantry (Sharon), Community Living Central York (Newmarket), Loaves and Fishes Food Bank (Uxbridge) and Matthews House Hospice (Tottenham) are among the organizations benefitting from Vince’s community program, which to date has raised just over $40,000 for local groups.
ALAN GLASS Executive Chairman of EnsembleIQ Aug. 8, 1949 - Sept. 6, 2019
alan glass, venerated executive chair-
man of EnsembleIQ, the parent company of Canadian Grocer, passed away recently, after a long and courageously fought battle with cancer. His family, friends, professional colleagues and this company mourn his passing. Mr. Glass had a long and storied career spanning more than four decades in the media and information services industry. He began his career in publishing with The Wall Street Journal, and he went on to serve in senior management positions in multiple media and information services companies—including Thomson Transport Press, Primedia, Commonwealth Business Media, CFO Publishing and United Business Media. In 2000, Mr. Glass led the management buyout that created Commonwealth Business Media, which he successfully sold to UBM. Throughout his 40-year career in the information industry, Mr. Glass developed a well-deserved reputation as an astute executive, successful entrepreneur, caring mentor and loyal friend. Those of us who were privileged to work with him will miss his visionary perspective, insightful analysis, prodigious work ethic, unique sense of humor and—most of all—genuine friendship. We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Cathy, their children and grandchildren. CG February 2020 Canadian Grocer
Who you need to know
BIG PICTURE THINKER
In bringing African superfoods to North America, Oumar Barou Togola is helping transform communities By Rosalind Stefanac Photography by Adam Blasberg
The Facts Who?
Oumar Barou Togola Position:
Co-founder and executive chairman of Farafena What’s New?
New blockchainbased system that gives consumers the ability to trace Farafena products from farm to retailer
umar Barou Togola always
looks at the big picture. In starting his company, Farafena, in 2013, not only did he want to introduce sustainable African foods to Canadian palates, he wanted to ensure his products would positively impact the African farmers who helped produce them. At a time when more and more consumers are turning to sustainable, plantbased diets, Togola’s big-picture thinking proved fruitful. Today, the Vancouver-based company works with more than 1,000 female farmers in nine villages in West Africa and one village in Malawi, and has developed four products based on African superfoods—a trend currently gaining favour across North America. In fact, Whole Foods Market included “Foods from West Africa” on its list of Top 10 Food Trends for 2020. Farafena’s products include Fonio Grain (described as a cross between couscous and quinoa) and Fonio Flour, made from the ancient drought-resistant grain. The company also produces Moringa Leaf Powder and Baobab Fruit Powder, which both can provide a nutritious boost to smoothies, sauces and snacks. “Twenty years ago, no one was talking about things like quinoa or alternative grains, but now consumers are way more aware and willing to learn about products like ours,” says Togola, Farafena’s co-founder and executive chairman. That’s not to say it was easy getting retailers to carry his products. “Whole Foods in Vancouver was the first one to take us on, but my calls were ignored for three months,” he says. Showing up at head office with some treats made with his products finally did the trick. “One of the buyers gave me a few minutes to share my story and he found it compelling enough to take us on,” says Togola. This passion for Africa dates back to Togola’s childhood. Born in Mali in West Africa, he says it was his parents who inspired him to launch a business with a socially-conscious focus. “My mother was a midwife and the work she was doing in the community was amazing,” he says. Meanwhile, his father came from a family of 20 children and was one of only two siblings to get an education. “My father was a hydrologist for UNICEF for 23 years and I saw first-hand how he made community development his focus.”
In fact, after Togola graduated from university and started thinking about launching a business, it was his father who suggested they try and grow something on their family land in Mali. Togola wanted to take that a step further by collaborating with a cooperative of local farmers. “I thought it would be best to sit down with the local farmers and see what would benefit them, too,” he says. Togola targeted women farmers, specifically, believing they are the centre of family life in Africa. “Growing up I saw how much women did for the family, yet they weren’t valued for it and I wanted to change that.” After three years of working with women farmers, Togola says it was the men of the villages who came forward to express gratitude. “The money their wives were making was going towards buying land, building homes and their kids’ education,” he says. “Allowing the women to make decisions was a powerful thing.” This year, Farafena will be adding more farmers to its cooperative and plans to open a state-of-the-art North American-standard processing facility in Tabacoro, Mali, creating local jobs. And in an effort to be as transparent as possible, the company is also now using blockchain technology to give consumers the ability to track Farafena product from farm to retailer via barcodes. Meanwhile, the popularity of Farafena continues to grow. Carried in 950 retailers across Canada, including Loblaws, Whole Foods, Save-On-Foods and Bulk Barn, Farafena was recently listed with UNFI (one of the biggest food distributors in North America) which Togola says now opens the door to a slew of new retailers in the United States. The company’s African superfoods are creating a buzz in other retail sectors, too. One of British Columbia’s biggest gluten-free bakeries is using Farafena’s Fonio in one of its bagel recipes, while a well-known Canadian natural granola and breakfast cereal maker has expressed interest in using the grains for future products. Yet even with all this growth and brand recognition, Togola feels there is still much to do. “I don’t feel like I’ve done much at all,” he says. “Success to me is not about the money or number of stores we’re listed in, but seeing we’ve made a real difference in the lives of people in the communities in Africa for the long term.” CG
30 SECONDS WITH...
OUMAR BAROU TOGOLA What’s your favourite thing about Canadian culture? When I came here at 16 to attend boarding school, I didn’t speak a word of English. But everyone was kind and welcoming, and one of the first people I met is still my best friend and co-founder of the company. My parents allowing me to come here was the best decision.
What’s the secret to your success?
Staying true to who I am and where I come from, as well as making my business about more than just me.
Any advice for other entrepreneurs?
Surround yourself with people who can help you grow, but don’t let them change your vision of why you started in the first place.
What’s your favourite food, outside of Farafena products?
Japanese and Moroccan cuisines. Sushi is such a creative way to use seafood and I love the flavours in Moroccan tagine. Fried plantains are also one of my favourites.
Any hidden talents?
I love playing drums and dancing. I was in a dance group in high school that travelled across North America.
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
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Retailers, suppliers, shoppers, insights
Taking aim at theft Staggering losses and safety concerns have retailers seeking new solutions to retail theft By Danny Kucharsky
rab and go took on new meaning for staffers at Real Canadian Super-
stores in Winnipeg, who until last December were witnessing shoplifting events several times per shift, with thieves leaving stores with items like electronics, meat and Tide pods. So says Jeff Traeger, president of United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW Canada) Local 832, which represents employees at all Loblaw and Sobeys banners in Manitoba. Shoplifting was at “crisis levels,” he says, and only when Loblaw started hiring off-duty police officers in its stores in the city did the problem decline. But, he says, that’s only a temporary solution that sends shoplifters to stores without a police presence. (By press time Loblaw had not responded to requests for comment.) Traeger blames poverty, homelessness, unaddressed mental health issues and an addiction crisis (primarily crystal meth) in Winnipeg for contributing to the theft problem. “The challenges in retail are social challenges (that) can’t be solved February 2020 Canadian Grocer
IDEAS through increased use of security or policing.” In response to the concerns around theft and safety in Manitoba, the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) organized a roundtable in late January, bringing together government, businesses and law enforcement to come up with ways to combat rising theft in the province. Retail theft, of course, is not a problem unique to Manitoba. The RCC estimates Canadian retailers lose $7.8 billion a year to shoplifters. (A breakdown is not provided for grocery stores.) “We need to improve information sharing to understand what’s happening,” Michael Coladipietro, director of risk management at Longo’s, says of the roundtable. Fortunately, “collectively there’s more willingness now to share information than there ever has been.” Coladipietro says theft in the grocery industry is a growing concern. “We’re seeing an increase in theft activity for a variety of reasons,” he says. In Ontario, the introduction of sales of beer and wine in grocery stores has contributed to the problem, he says, as have higher prices and a growth in stolen products that are resold in the black market. At Longo’s, popular items for theft include meat and cheese, razors, alcohol, over-the-counter drugs, probiotics and baby formula, the latter of which is largely driven by organized retail crime. Indeed, organized retail crime has increased significantly in the last five years, says Bob Moraca, vice-president of loss prevention at the National Retail Federation in Washington, D.C. Moraca adds that the federation has been asking retailers for the last 25 years what constitutes their largest cause of shrinkage. For the first 21 years, the answer was unscrupulous employees, but in the last four years organized retail crime has taken over. There’s also been an increase in violence. Years ago, groups of shoplifters would grab multiple items off the shelf and run out the door, Moraca says. “Now, these criminals are pushing people to the ground, they’re punching our associates, they are using stun guns, mace and in some cases, unfortunately, in the last few years we’ve had one or two homicides.” In part, he blames the opioid epidemic for the increase, as it has forced people who can’t hold a job to turn to shoplifting. “You don’t need any special training to commit crimes in retail. You just have to be able to run into the store, grab the stuff and run out and then have a place to fence it.” To combat the issue, Moraca says a growing number of organized retail crime associations (ORCAs) are being formed in the United States, comprised of retailers, law enforcement and prosecutors. The ever-increasing variety of items carried by grocers has allowed them to be “one-stop shopping
“You don’t need any special training to commit crimes in retail. You just have to be able to run into the store, grab the stuff and run out and then have a place to fence it”
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
for thieves,” adds Michael Arntfield, a former police officer who teaches literary criminology at Western University in London, Ont. Compounding the problem, he adds, is that the vast majority of loss prevention investigators are outsourced from outside agencies that don’t know the retailers or their employees. The system “is more cost-effective, but not as effective in terms of asset recovery and prevention.” Another problem is that most shoplifters are not prosecuted under the criminal code, says Stephen O’Keefe, a consultant at Bottom Line Matters in Georgetown, Ont., who advises retailers on their loss management risks. One tactic retailers are employing is to sue certain shoplifters, which can serve as more of a deterrence than going through the criminal system. The shoplifters are held accountable not only for the cost of the goods but also the retailers’ administrative costs. “That has been a shock to people who think they’re getting off scot-free,” O’Keefe says. Among individual shoplifters, “reusable bags are a huge issue,” says Christy McMullen, co-owner of Summerhill Market in Toronto. “We have to put up signage that customers cannot use their own bags while shopping. We have found people fill up their bags and then just walk out.” At Circle K, a big portion of shoplifting is youth-related, says Sean Sportun, manager, security and loss prevention at Circle K, Central Canada division in Toronto. “When we start seeing a spike in theft in some stores and it’s usually because there’s a school nearby, (we’ll) reach out to the local police, talk to the school officers and meet the school faculty.” Circle K has found some success with its positive ticketing program, in which police officers distribute coupons for free drinks at the convenience store to youth who are doing positive things in the community. “It breaks the barriers between police and youth.” The use of social media as a crime prevention tool has also been effective, Sportun says. Working with law enforcement and Crime Stoppers, images of suspected Circle K shoplifters are posted on social media, and people with information are asked to call the police or Crime Stoppers. “We’ve seen up to an 89% success rate (in Ontario) for the posts that we’ve put on social media.” Similarly, in the Greater Toronto Area, Longo’s has partnered with Halton Regional Police’s Retail COP (Cameras on Patrol) program, which uploads images and descriptions of shoplifting suspects to a police-operated site. When it comes to preventing shoplifting, the solution lies in “creating a number of layers of security that deter, detect and delay theft,” Coladipietro says. While Longo’s is looking into AI (artifical intelligence) technology that would provide alerts when known shoplifting suspects arrive in stores, Coladipietro notes “99% of the people coming into our stores are good honest shoppers. I would much rather put the effort into having them enjoy the experience.”
COOLING ON KETO
Survey finds Canadians who have tried the diet aren’t sticking to it By Rebecca Harris canadians are dropping the keto diet like a hot,
banned potato. With all the “keto-friendly” labelled food products popping up on grocery shelves, the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University decided to poll Canadians about their thoughts on this seemingly popular low-carb, high-fat, medium-protein diet. The Dalhousie survey, done in partnership with Angus Reid, found that only 4% of Canadians are following the keto diet while 10% are thinking about it. Alberta has the highest percentage of people on the keto diet (6%) followed by Ontario (5%). The lowest rate is in Saskatchewan (1%). The diet is a relative unknown in Quebec, where 27% of respondents have never even heard of it. “You cannot avoid keto-friendly products these days—they’re just everywhere—and cooking shows often talk about keto-friendly recipes,” says Sylvain Charlebois, scientific director, Agri-Food Analytics Lab, Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University. “So, one would think many Canadians are actually on this diet, but 4% is a very, very low number. We were expecting a much higher percentage.” The survey results also suggest those who have tried the keto diet aren’t sticking to it. More than twice as many Canadians have tried and dropped it (9%) than those who remain with the program. While the number of Canadians on the diet is low, Charlebois says it still makes sense for grocery retailers to stock keto-friendly products. “It’s like veganism. There is a limited number of people who are vegans, but they are an influential group,” he says. “People may not follow the keto diet, but [they] are attracted to keto-friendly products.” Most Canadians on the keto diet said they want to lose weight (69%) and nearly half (48%) are generally concerned about their health and well-being. While 15% of those on the diet started it as a result of a friend recommending it, 5% said they were influenced by a celebrity or TV show. Survey respondents were also asked why they stopped following the keto diet. While 12% said they did not see any results, 37% felt the diet was too strict. Since meat can be a big part of keto, 34% of respondents felt the diet was too expensive. Finally, 24% felt the keto diet requires too much time and 10% felt the diet was too confusing.
CRAVING INNOVATION As halal consumers’ expectations rise, retailers need to make shelf space for more interesting halal products By David Brown
canadian grocery shoppers looking
for halal are more dissatisfied with their options this year than they were a year ago, according to the new Halal Consumer Insights Study. In 2018, 43% of halal shoppers said grocery chains were meeting their needs, but this year that number slid to 36% of respondents. Further, 32% of respondents this year said major food companies were not meeting their needs. Conducted for Nourish Food Marketing, the survey asked 1,000 Canadian grocery shoppers who buy halal about their shopping and media habits, preferences and tastes. Halal is an Arabic term meaning permissible or what is allowed for those following the Muslim faith, with food being one aspect of it. The size of the Muslim population in Canada will be updated next year, “but the estimate that is going around right now is 1.4 million,” says Salima Jivraj, head of Nourish Multicultural and the founder of Halal Foodie—a website that
spotlights halal food in Canada. Muslim communities are largest in urban markets, particularly Toronto. “But we are seeing a lot of growth in Alberta.” Rising dissatisfaction could be a reflection of evolving consumer expectations. “We’re seeing grocery stores stepping up, we’re seeing manufacturers stepping up and offering more [halal] products, and grocery stores making more space,” says Jivraj.“We feel that it’s consumer expectations that are going up,” she adds. “A lot of the new halal products that are coming out, they just lack the innovation they are used to seeing. They’re saying okay it is halal, but is it organic, is it gluten free, is it keto?” Shoppers know those innovations are happening on the mainstream shelves, but they aren’t seeing them in the halal sections of their grocery store. It’s up to retailers to make more space for more interesting and innovative halal products, she says. The survey also found the average Muslim household is larger and often more multigenerational. Fully 14% of Muslim homes are multigenerational compared to just 3% of the average Canadian households. “They’re eating more food, they’re preparing more food, they probably want larger pack sizes,” says Jivraj. “Multigenerational is important because it tells us that the person who is cooking is probably not the person who is purchasing food.” And the preferred grocery stores for halal shopping? The survey has Costco and No Frills coming out on top. “And they have gone up significantly,” says Jivraj. “Costco really is a favourite ... It makes sense because they’ve been strengthening their meat department over the last couple of years to give a better assortment, better variety and especially a better price.” Walmart also went up this year. “On halal specifically, we have products available at 160 stores (close to 40%) and they include fresh, processed and frozen groceries and key halal brands,” notes Felicia Fefer, manager, corporate affairs for Walmart. No Frills has also made efforts to improve its offerings and pricing in recent years, while popular mass marketing efforts have likely had a positive impact on awareness overall, including with those shopping for halal. Meanwhile, the study also showed Marché Adonis experiencing a notable drop in popularity this year. CG
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THE EVOLUTION OF SNACKING
Snacks represent a huge opportunity, but to unlock growth you need to understand your snackers
THERE’S NO RIGHT or wrong way to snack, and at nearly $6 billion and counting, the snacking category is experiencing a revolution in Canada. Considering that consumers snack beyond what is traditionally defined as “snack foods,” it becomes clear that the snack opportunity increases by nearly three times to $16 billion as how we snack evolves. But for retailers and manufacturers, how well do you know your snackers? What will their next snack be? Have they 11:58 AMalready decided or will they pick something up on a whim? Will they go for a trusted favourite or try something new?
buy a snack when they’re at the shelf and where impulsive cues and instinct, combined with price, take over as the deciding factors. However, this isn’t the case today. The snacking category is now much more expansive, and its purpose is not only to meet an immediate shopper need, but to create new shopper needs and occasions. In fact, Canadian consumers today choose, on average, 12 different types of snack foods every month. And manufacturers are giving consumers more choices than ever before. Across the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) landscape in 2018, nearly 20,000 new food products were launched, with 12% (2,439) of those products being snack foods. As expected, consumers snack for enjoyment (86%) or a reward or treat (78%), but more of us are snacking with a conscience as we look to nutrition (62%) to fuel our on-the-go lifestyles, and grab a snack and skip a meal (40%). As the reasons for why we snack evolve, so do the snack choices consumers make as they enter different life stages. With diversity in snacking preferences fuelled by gender and age, you need a variety of options in your store to meet consumer demand. Younger generations (millennials, gen Z) prefer indulgent snacks including chocolate (65%), chips (61%), cookies (59%), sandwiches (56%) and cheese (54%). Older generations (boomers, gen X), on the other hand, prefer somewhat
As the reasons for why we snack evolve, so do the snack choices consumers make as they enter different life stages Will they eat it on their own or share it with family and friends? Do they snack every day or is it more confined to a particular time of the week, maybe even just a weekend indulgence? The traditional approach to the snacking category has been widely based on the view that snacking decisions are generally unplanned and, therefore, brands need to make themselves highly visible in store to be considered. The belief is that shoppers only decide to
healthier choices of fruit (70%), cheese (67%), chips (58%), nuts and seeds (55%) and cookies (55%). As consumers make different choices, this is impacting the categories that are trending in traditional snack categories. The top five snack categories are likely what you expect (cheese, salty snacks, chocolate, yogurt and baked desserts), while the top five growth categories show there are opportunities for indulgence, convenience and health; these categories include marshmallow treats (+14%), ready-to-eat pudding (+14%), apple sauce (+14%), meat sticks/jerky (+12%) and prepared dips (+9%). The declining categories, on the other hand, tend to lean toward the more indulgent side: pudding mixes (-35%), frozen yogurt (-8%), candied snacks (-2%), yogurt (-1%) and ice cream (-1%). We have already noted that the traditional snack category is worth $6 billion, but the potential opportunity beyond the snack aisle is nearly $16 billion as consumers look to new options to satisfy their snacking desires. Consumers want variety and are always looking for something new, with innovation driving $176 million in incremental growth last year in the traditional snack category. As with every category across the FMCG landscape, consumers have myriad options to choose from when it comes to snacking. Understanding who, how, where and why shoppers choose different items for snacking can help uncover new opportunities for distribution, innovation and marketing to ensure success on an already crowded shelf. In addition, knowing how and why your shoppers make their snacking decisions and purchases can help unlock growth opportunities and better challenge the way this category is tackled today. CG
Carman Allison is vice-president of consumer insights at Nielsen in Toronto. @CarmAllison.
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
KEEPING it FRESH
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
Farm Boy brought its fresh food experience to St. Catharines in January. It's the 30th Farm Boy and the first in the Niagara region. Right: Co-CEOs Jean-Louis Bellemare and Jeff York
Farm Boy continues to wow by constantly improving its fresh market concept
PORTRAIT: JESSICA DEEKS
By Shellee Fitzgerald Photography by Nikki Ormerod
it ’ s early morning and already a crowd has formed a long, orderly line that snakes beyond the newly constructed building located just off a busy commercial strip. It’s late January in southern Ontario and it’s bitter cold, but that doesn’t seem to be dampening the enthusiasm of the bundled-up folks waiting patiently outside, some who have been queuing for up to two hours to get inside. What’s all the fuss about? Farm Boy has arrived in St. Catharines. Located about an hour west of Toronto, the new store is a bit of a milestone for Farm Boy: it’s the 30th location for the fast-growing Ontario retailer; it’s also its first in Niagara, where it is strategically placed to pull customers from all over the region who want a taste of the retailer's fresh market experience. The ringing of the cowbell—a tradition started at the opening of Farm Boy’s Burlington store in December—marks the opening of business. Customers hustle through the doors where they’re greeted with a “Welcome We’re Glad You’re Here” sign, then are hit straight away with abundant, meticulously arranged displays of berries, avocados, mangoes and gala apples. The scene reinforces the store’s produce roots. Farm Boy began its life in 1981 as a 300-sq.-ft. fruit and February 2020 Canadian Grocer
STORE PROFILE vegetable market, started by co-CEO JeanLouis Bellemare in Cornwall, Ont. “We’re pretty true to our roots and we don’t forget where we came from,” he says. “We want to continue to lead in those departments where we started.” At 24,000 sq. ft. and with an offer that extends to in-store prepared sushi, stone-baked pizza and a slew of specialties such as private-label kombucha and Himalayan Pink Salt Popcorn, the new St. Catharines store would seem a far cry from the first Farm Boy, but Bellemare says at its core it’s the same business. “It’s a business that has grown tremendously, but has never really lost its focus from day one, which was to deliver exceptional fresh products at great value. And always giving the customer a great experience—that has always been a high, high focus for us,” says Bellemare. As
Farm Boy grew and departments were added to the concept, Bellemare says the philosophy remained the same: make sure the products are super fresh, make sure the prices are always fair and always stay on top of on the trends. “When you’re all about the food [you won’t find Tide pods, toilet paper or shampoo lining the shelves at Farm Boy!] you have to have your whole team listening to what’s going on with the food trends,” explains co-CEO Jeff York. He adds that this includes closely watching the competition, following social media and, importantly, listening to the customers who are “very vocal” in letting them know what they want. York points to plant-based foods as a prime example. “It has really ramped up in the last two years, so our customers are always asking us for more product and we work very hard on trying to expand those categories,” he says. Among Farm Boy’s vegan offerings: Chicken-less proteins, Parmezzan “cheese,” a vegan mayonnaise and vegan Tikka Masala, to name a few. “You evolve with the concept and you evolve with what customers want,” says Bellemare. “If we would have introduced hot bars and salad bars 25 years ago, we would have failed miserably because the customers were not ready for that. Today, it’s all changed.” Indeed, customers shopping at Farm Boy can now grab breakfast, lunch or dinner, prepared in
An expansive private-label offering, in-house prepared meals as well as local and organic products are all part of the Farm Boy experience
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
the Farm Boy Kitchens. There are freshly made soups—about 15 kinds available hot or cold—salads, sandwiches and a large hot bar. To support its growing fresh prepared food offer, it's opening a second commissary, in Toronto, this summer. The other is located in Ottawa, where the retailer is based. You can’t talk about Farm Boy without mentioning its robust private-label offering. Farm Boy is often likened to popular U.S. grocer Trader Joe’s in its zeal for store brands. In fact, there are close to 1,000 Farm Boy-branded products currently, and Bellemare says between 150 and 200 items will most likely be rolled out this year, noting that the team dedicated to that area of the business is growing as is its “rolodex of suppliers” that want to work with Farm Boy on its store brands. “We’re always highly focused on our private label; we’re big believers in it,” says Bellemare, adding that Farm Boy’s approach to private label is not complicated: it has to be a great product, competitively priced and be somewhat unique. “At the end of the day, when we put out a product we want it to be a notch above our competitors,” Bellemare explains. “We just don’t want to do it to put our name on it; we want to do it because we can offer something that’s a little different than what the others are doing.” Indeed, the folks at Farm Boy are no fans of complacency, whether in the
Sustainable seafood is on offer and the Farm Boy Café seats about 40 and offers guests free Wi-Fi
products they sell or the stores themselves, which are always being fine-tuned. “We don’t just get a concept and stamp it out and say ‘that’s good; let’s go open a bunch of them.’ Every Farm Boy store we want to make better. It’s the Farm Boy way,” says York. “We constantly push ourselves to improve. It keeps you more relevant to the customer.” This philosophy of always wanting to improve also shapes Farm Boy’s approach to the important issue of sustainability, which Bellemare says is always top of mind. “Customers are reminding us of it every day,” he says, adding that all members of senior management at Farm Boy read every single customer email that comes through, be it complaints or positive feedback. And on the issue of sustainability, he says, Farm Boy’s customers are very engaged. “We’ve done a lot in the last year, but we need to keep working on it,” says Bellemare. He notes that in the bakery department about 80% of the plastic that was used has been removed and
replaced with cardboard. In the produce department, Farm Boy has largely gone back to bulk, ditching much of the packaging; something, he says, its customers have appreciated. And, the mesh reusable produce bags it sells for a nominal price ($1.99 for two bags) have also been a huge hit. “We have suppliers, as well, that we’ve been working with that have come a long way in the last 18 months,” says Bellemare, pointing to the best-selling coloured peppers as an example. The peppers now come in trays that are recyclable. “We’re paying premiums for all these things, but we’re doing it because we believe it’s the right thing to do.” The “Farm Boy way” is certainly hitting the right note with customers. Last November, Farm Boy topped Leger’s WOW Index for customer experience at Ontario grocery stores for the second year running, edging out tough competitors such as Your Independent Grocer, Longo’s, Sobeys and Whole Foods Market. “Farm Boy tends to be clear about who they are and what their offer is.
In Farm Boy's meat department shoppers will find a wide selection of organic beef, chicken and pork
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
The introduction of reusable produce bags has been a "huge hit" at Farm Boy
That clear positioning combined with them being a ‘local’ business seems to resonate with shoppers,” Leger’s senior vice-president Michelle Carter told Canadian Grocer at the time, adding that the customer experience Farm Boy delivers is also very consistent. “We’re really proud of that. And in the same breath, we’re concerned about always maintaining that,” Bellemare laughs. “Our people work very hard to deliver that customer experience and as you continue to grow the company, you recognize the importance of maintaining that so we’re certainly working hard with the team and HR to make sure we can deliver that kind of service for years to come.” The trick, of course, will be to maintain what makes Farm Boy special as it aggressively grows its footprint across Ontario. In December, it announced an expansion plan that will see eight new locations, which includes St. Catharines, Newmarket, Ottawa and five locations in Toronto, as well as the relocation of its Ottawa Train Yards store, all by 2021. The stores will range in size from 12,000 sq. ft. to a 38,000-sq.-ft. signature store. And that’s just the start. On a conference call with analysts in December, Empire CEO Michael Medline said Farm Boy, which Empire scooped up in late 2018 for $800 million, was “outperforming all of our expectations,” and that it, along with its Voilà e-commerce solution, would be its weapon for winning in Ontario, particularly in the province’s
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
urban markets where Empire is underpenetrated. Medline said Farm Boy is in different stages of development in more than 25 new stores in Ontario and boldly asserted: “We intend to blanket the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] and take market share from incumbents.” York, who joined Farm Boy in 2009 after nearly 20 years at Giant Tiger, acknowledged the challenge of growing experimenting with “downsizing” to too quickly and being able to maintain squeeze into urban areas, York says Farm consistency across the network. “That’s Boy is well positioned owing to its smallalways a concern, but one of the things store roots. “It’s very difficult [downsizwe’ve been doing the last two to three ing]. I’ve been in retail almost my entire years is really building out our teams life. I’ve hardly ever seen a big store in the different areas of Ontario. We’re operator [effectively] run a small store. confident that we’ve built a pretty good It’s very difficult to do the systems, the team in Toronto, and you always need way they allocate shelf space,” says York. to be adding to your team and finding “With Farm Boy, the roots of the brand are good people.” in small stores. We just happened to take When Farm Boy adds to its Toronto more space when it’s available to us—we store count (there are currently two loca- can run in any size store.” An advantage, tions in the city) later this year, it will perhaps the biggest one, of now being aim to win over urbanites with smaller owned by Empire is the access it gives footprint stores and a carefully curated Farm Boy to prime sites. “Before, we were assortment. getting the crumbs,” York says, noting “They have to get in and out fast,” says the best locations would go to Loblaw, York of its urban customers. “We’re going Metro or Sobeys. “We’re first call now.” into smaller sites where we’ll concentrate As Farm Boy readies for its big push on giving the customer what they want into one of the most competitive marin those immediate areas. That’s why the kets in the country, its focus is crystal whole fresh food, the meals that are ready clear. “What we need to continue to to eat, are really important and we’ve do is always wow our customers and built that muscle over the last 10 years. not disappoint them,” says Bellemare. So now, as we’re growing in Toronto, we “That’s how we keep going for years to have a compelling offer for that customer.” come. We’ve just got to keep wowing While many large grocers have been our customers.” CG
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Source: Nielsen, National 5 Channel, YTD p/e Sept 14, 2019 10 NEW JOLLY RANCHER Misfits Gummies Mer-Bears 182 g 10 NEW JOLLY RANCHER Misfits Gummies Uni-Sharks 182 g 10 JOLLY RANCHER Misfits Gummies Sours 182 g 20 JOLLY RANCHER Misfits Gummies 182 g 10 JOLLY RANCHER Fruity Sours 182 g 10 JOLLY RANCER Hard Assorted Candy 198 g 12 TWIZZLERS Soft Bites Strawberry 170 g 12 TWIZZLERS Soft Bites Black Licorice 170 g
Front-end confection boosts basket size and shopper happiness, and grocers can do more to maximize the category
checkout lane may be the last destination in the shopping journey, but the opportunity for one last sale isn’t over. As shoppers are waiting in line or unloading their carts, grocers can increase sales with something sweet: the high-margin, high-impulse confectionery category. Research shows that confection, beverages and snacks comprise close to 80% of checkout sales, with confection leading the way at more than 40%.1 Ranked the numberone impulsive purchase, confection represents more than one third of snacking dollar volume and is highly profitable. Making more sales at the front end is especially important given today’s changing retail environment. In an era of online shopping and meal delivery at consumers’ fingertips, fewer Canadians are making the trek to the grocery store (-2% in 2018), although they are spending more overall (+3%).2 With the number of shopping trips down, grocers have to look for smart ways to maximize their customers’ spend when they are in store. While confection isn’t a trip driver like milk or bread, it is highly impulsive and profitable, making the category an effective way to boost sales and build basket size. In addition, confectionery items drive engagement and excitement among shoppers. Grocery stores of all sizes will benefit from paying closer attention to the category and making more efficient use of the checkout area.
INSIDE CONSUMERS’ MINDS
While some grocers are expanding their checkout offerings beyond sweet treats, research conducted for The Hershey Company shows that a traditional confection assortment at checkout actually increases shopper happiness, whereas it drops (-11 points) with a better-foryou assortment.3 The reason? Shoppers have a strong emotional connection with confectionery. Purchases at checkout are driven by how they feel, for example, they may be reminded of a chocolate bar or candy they loved as a child, or they want to reward themselves with a treat. That emotional connection correlates to an increase in happiness among shoppers within their overall shopping trip. Importantly, shopper happiness isn’t just a fleeting moment—it has long-term, tangible benefits. Research by The Hershey Company found that increased shopper happiness leads to an uptick in customer satisfaction, spend, loyalty and number of trips. It also makes shoppers a bit less price sensitive and increases the likelihood that they’ll recommend the store to others. Another reason retailers should pay more attention to front-end confectionery is simple: everybody loves sweets. Research shows that 19 out of 20 shoppers purchase confection, across all age and household groups.4 Household penetration of the category is also one of the
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–FEBRUARY 2020
highest in retail, sharing the top spot with salty snacks.5 While there’s a near-universal love for chocolate and candy, the front-end confection category itself isn’t leaving consumers totally satisfied. Overall satisfaction with the category is 35% compared to overall satisfaction with all categories (55%).6 Elements such as execution, assortment, product and price all ranked below overall satisfaction with all categories. What would help increase satisfaction? Shoppers said innovation, ease of shop, shelf signage, theatre and information are the top areas retailers can improve.
HOW TO SWEETEN CONFECTION SALES
To boost total confection sales, retailers can start by understanding what will get products into shoppers’ hands—and carts. A Hershey Shopper Insights study found that among all touchpoints in the path-to-purchase, the strongest purchase drivers are displays, promotions and special offers. In store, the top drivers experienced during the shopping trip (not at shelf) are: “saw confectionery items on display,” “saw a promotion or special offer” and “saw a special offer in aisle.” At the shelf, the top purchase drivers are “saw an ad on shelf,” “saw a sign/shelf organization” and “saw it with another product I was shopping for.”7 This demonstrates that in-store interruption is critical for winning brick-and-mortar trips. Grocers can trigger sales with promotions, offers and displays within other Since confection aisles in the store. While these touch is highly impulsive points help boost total and profitable, confectionery sales, it’s important for retailers the category is an to make the distinction effective way to between the checkout boost sales and and the aisle. Shoppers think and act differently basket size when they’re shopping each of these sections. At the in-aisle section, their purchases are more rational and more concrete, so typically the items are on their shopping list. There is also greater price sensitivity and purchases are driven by goals, for example making baked goods or replenishing the treat cupboard. At the checkout, beyond the emotional and impulsive factors driving purchases, shopper behaviour is more nonlinear and fluid. They’re seeking to explore some of their favourite items and there is greater promotion sensitivity as opposed to price sensitivity. So, the important question for grocers is: are your checkouts set up to capitalize on these behaviours?”
To help retailers answer that question, The Hershey Company outlines five pillars for effective merchandising, noting that confectionery ticks all the boxes: Relevant: The items are relevant and something consumers expect to see at checkout. Responsive: Purchases are unplanned and incremental to the business. Household Penetration: The category maximizes potential buyers within the household. Frequency: The items have repeat purchases. Dollars: The assortment maximizes growth in the overall category. Of course, space is limited in the checkout area, so grocery retailers have to think carefully about what lastminute products they want to sell. Confection, beverage and snacks are the top three power categories at checkout, while magazines are on the decline within that space. The key for retailers is to allocate the right amount of space for the top categories, with a lower emphasis on magazines and general merchandise. Those items have a different home within the store and should be leveraged that way. When it comes to space efficiency, confectionery again comes out on top. Comparing Hershey’s bars with bags of chips, for example, confectionery can generate nearly eight times the sales with the same space. Confectionery drives a high amount of sales relative to the amount of space the category has, so offering up more space to confectionery can increase those numbers. Since the majority of front-end confectionery purchases are unplanned (68%)8, visibility is critical. That means retailers should think beyond the checkout racks. Confection is strongly influenced by secondary displays and has the highest display lift (+411 pt.) compared to items such as cookies (+364 pt. lift), crackers (+255 pt. lift) and salty snacks (+223 lift).9 While displays are a great way to increase sales, grocers should also be on the lookout for new confectionery products, pack sizes and formats. Merchandising vehicles can drive additional sales, but bringing new product innovation to the category is also key. Having new and different options at the checkout is critical to driving excitement and engagement for shoppers. Sources: 1 Nat. G+D+M, L52wks PE June 23, ’18 2 Nielsen, The Buying Power of Canadian Consumers, Feb. 2019 3 Kantar Millward Brown, 2018 1) Hershey Inspirational Qualitative (Brainjuicer) 2016; 2) Hershey Consumer Deep Dive (Ipsos) 2018; Hershey Canada Global Consumer Relations (Canada) 2018 4 Neilsen MarketTrack, Ontario + West C&G, TL Chocolate + TL Confection, Latest 52 Wks, Period End Jan. 5, 2019 5 Nielsen Cross Outlet Facts, L52 weeks P/E Dec. 30 2017 6 Lucros Shopper Intelligence 2016, Front-End Confection 7 Hershey Shopper Insights 2018 8 Lucros Shopper Intelligence 2016, Front-End Confection 9 Nielsen MarketTrack Dec. 2015; Shopper Pulse Study, 2015
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–FEBRUARY 2020
Introducing NEW TWIZZLERS Tongue Twisters Gummies
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20 TWIZZLERS Tongue Twister Sweet 20 TWIZZLERS Tongue Twister Tangy 10 JOLLY RANCHER Misfits Original 20 JOLLY RANCHER Misfits Sours 10 JOLLY RANCHER Misfits Mer-Bear 10 JOLLY RANCHER Misfits Uni-Shark
NEW product The Hershey Company’s latest innovations will sweeten grocers’ confection sales
The Hershey Company, innovation is a key ingredient for driving growth. With a portfolio of iconic confectionery brands, the company continues to bring excitement to the category with new products and new twists on consumers’ favourites. Grocery retailers can team up with Hershey to boost confectionery sales and give shoppers the tastes and formats they’re looking for.
REESE OUTRAGEOUS! STUFFED WITH PIECES
Canada’s number-one chocolate brand, Reese continues to delight fans with exciting new treats. New Reese OUTRAGEOUS! combines creamy Reese peanut butter, crunchy Mini Reese’s Pieces, and rich caramel wrapped in smooth milk chocolate. Every bite explodes with an outrageous combination of tastes and textures that only Reese can deliver. On top of combining the great tastes of Reese in one bar, the product delivers on consumer demand for singles, which are the number-one purchased chocolate pack-type across all confectionery trips.1
TWIZZLERS TONGUE TWISTERS GUMMIES
Consumers can’t get enough of gummies: it’s the topgrowing segment in candy, outpacing the chewy, hard and licorice segments2. On trend and in demand, new Twizzlers Tongue Twisters Gummies will satisfy the tastes and textures candy fans crave. On the sweet side, three delicious flavours include Pineapple, Passion Fruit and Mango—all with the Twizzlers Strawberry flavour consumers love. Tangy options include Grape, Lemonade and Peach—all with the Twizzlers Cherry flavour consumers love.
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–FEBRUARY 2020
showcase REESE’s PIECES PEANUT - KING SIZE
Reese’s Pieces Peanut now comes in a 75-gram king size format, bringing big taste to peanut-butter lovers. The candy delivers the ultimate crunch with the addition of a delicious peanut centre, wrapped in smooth peanut butter, and covered in a crunchy candy shell. Since king size is the top-growing pack type (+15% in grocery/drugstore/ mass over the last year3), grocers will want to stock up on Reese’s Pieces Peanut King Size.
JOLLY RANCHER MISFITS GUMMIES
Jolly Rancher Misfits Gummies are a fun new mash-up with bold, fruity flavours and shapes. Perfect for sharing, Misfits Gummies are available in two delicious combinations: Mer-Bears (mermaid bears), which come in three flavours: orange + pineapple, lemon + dark raspberry and strawberry + blue punch; and Uni-Sharks (unicorn sharks), available in lime + mango, kiwi + lychee and pineapple + pomegranate. Misfits Gummies join Jolly Rancher’s ever-expanding product line, which also includes Hard Candy and Fruity Sours in a variety of formats.
OH HENRY! PEANUT BUTTER BITES
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Sources: 1 Nielsen all channels L52wks PE Mar 2, 2019; 2 Nielsen all channels L12wks PE Mar 2, 2019
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As the way consumers shop for food is evolving, so, too, is grocery store design
Avril Supermarché Santé's newest store in Laval, Que., includes an in-store vertical farm where produce can be grown onsite, an element that appeals to environmentallyconscious shoppers
By Carol Neshevich WHETHER THEY’RE migrating to online grocery delivery and bopis (“buy online, pickup in store”), spending their food dollars at new competitors like UberEats or being more focused on the quality of their food and where it comes from, consumers’ shopping habits are changing, and the grocery store is having to adapt in many ways, including store design. “We’ve had so many shifts. We’ve had technological shifts, we’ve had generational shifts, and we have a lot of outside players coming into the market that never were in the market before,” says Kevin Kelley, principal and co-founder of Shook Kelley, a retail strategy and design firm in Los Angeles. “So we’re going into [grocery stores] and saying look, the time to be conservative, the time to try to just get short game plays is just no longer. You really have to start throwing the long ball; you have to take some big chances.” But when it comes to store design, what are the right “chances” to take? Canadian Grocer spoke with four innovative North American design firms to get their views on some of the biggest (and smartest) trends in grocery store design right now.
Making the store a hangout “The biggest thing we’re trying to do is get all the social, hangout, let’s have fun, non-chore-related things up to the front of the store,” explains Kelley. “So we’re definitely trying to put bars, restaurants, patios, any kind of lifestyle element to the front of the store—that is a really big aspect for us—and we’re trying to create separate entrances to those features.” Indeed, as online shopping and BOPIS become more popular, it’s increasingly important to create features that entice shoppers to the store—and that encourage them to linger. “The idea here is to keep them longer, because retailers
know the longer the customer stays in that store, the more they’re going to buy,” says Jean-Pierre Lacroix, president of Shikatani Lacroix Design in Toronto. While the “grocerant” concept has been around for years, it’s become a much more important part of grocery today. Stéphane Bernier, design studio director at Montreal’s Aedifica—which has won multiple awards for its design work on Quebec’s Avril Supermarché Santé chain—points out that when designing their first Avril store some 15
years ago, the dine-in section had about 20 seats. “Now, the latest store has 120 seats … and in the next store, the dining area will be even bigger. You can see where they’re putting their money and efforts, it’s a huge area of growth.” But dine-in areas, restaurants and pubs aren’t the only elements aimed at keeping customers in the store longer; grocers are also putting greater emphasis on community-building features such as cooking classrooms and meeting rooms. Big players like Loblaw have had these February 2020 Canadian Grocer
STORE DESIGN for years, but they’re now becoming pervasive. While these features may have been viewed by retailers as a nice-to-have option in the past, Vince Guzzi, managing partner at Toronto-based Watt International, says “I do see that type of functionality within the role a grocery store plays in the local community as now moving to the forefront; being something that really inextricably becomes an important thing that satisfies the needs of the consumer.” Longo’s, a client of Watt, features its Loft Cooking School at a number of locations, but the Loft is not just a place for cooking classes—it’s also a spot for meetings, events and birthday parties. “It’s the old adage: ‘If you build it, they will come,’” says Guzzi.
The “seemingly impossibles” “We have this thing that we do with every chain, if we can, where we believe innovation happens right at the edges of the constraints—whether it be the operator’s constraints, or an employee’s constraints, or a consumer’s limitations even ... and we call them ‘seemingly impossibles,’” says Kelley. He points to Harvest Market, a store owned by Niemann Foods in Illinois as an example. For Harvest Market, it was decided the overall philosophy of the store would focus on its connection to farms, the land and the local
community. “When they asked us what’s a ‘seemingly impossible’ they could do, we came back to them and said, we’d like you to churn butter in the store. And they said, yeah, that is really impossible,” Kelley says, laughing. “But we said if we could do it, it would say so much to our customer about everything we do in the store. That’s generally what we find; if we can do one really exaggerated, over-the-top sticky memorable idea, it does so much.”
Kelley pays credit to the folks at Harvest Market who spent the next six months trying to figure out how to churn butter in the store, which was challenging “because it almost becomes a separate manufacturing facility, with the health department and everything.” But in the end, it worked; Harvest Market now has a butter churning station in the store. The feature has been so popular with customers they plan to incorporate it in future locations. A unique offering or focal point doesn’t have to be as complicated as in-store butter churning; there are countless examples of innovative attractions grocers have installed to appeal to shoppers. When Watt International worked with Market 32 in New York state (a Price Chopper brand), they decided to install a Growler Bar where shoppers could bottle their own growler (jug) of beer. “It’s an experience,” says Michael Nussbacher, vice-president of business development at Watt. “It’s not just, ‘I’m going there to get my grapes and bananas;’ I’m also going to stop by and talk about which beer is the one I want to fill a jug with.” Watt’s Guzzi adds that this feature was chosen to appeal to the store’s shopper demographic: “This was also us recognizing there were more males as the primary grocery shopper here [than usual] in this particular market.” There’s also the emerging trend of installing vertical farms or rooftop gardens in stores, where retailers can grow their own produce onsite. Avril Supermarché installed one of these inside its most recent store in Laval, Que. “It speaks to passion and authenticity and quality, but it’s also a way to start finding alternate ways of bridging the production of fresh goods and offering it onsite,” says Aedefica’s Bernier. It’s good for the environment, he says, as it reduces transport, energy use and waste; but in addition to those benefits, it also helps attract environmentally conscious consumers to the store for what the vertical farm represents.
Top: The Growler Bar at Market 32 in New York state, where shoppers can bottle their own growler (jug) of beer; Bottom: Eataly's new Toronto location exemplifies the popular "food hall" design trend
Every designer interviewed for this story mentioned Eataly and the “food hall” trend as being a major influence in store design. Aedifica’s Bernier calls it “the biggest trend in food right now,” noting that at Eataly, specifically, “a lot of people dine in there because it’s great food with a fun ambiance, but also you
EATALY; WATT INTERNATIONAL
Food hall and market style
SHOOK KELLEY; LONGO'S
Top: The Corks Beer & Wine Bar at Longo's in Toronto's Liberty Village aims to entice shoppers to hang out and spend more time at the store; Bottom: Harvest Market in Illinois features an in-store butter churning station
are exposed to a highly curated, sophisticated, high-quality product offering. And, it’s kind of bringing the European public market in a smaller scale into [a] retail format.” Eataly and other gourmet food halls undoubtedly offer “experience” (in terms of dining in, hanging out, and being educated about products) but it’s also an example of the market-style design format that’s moving away from the traditional, wide linear aisles that have long been a staple in grocery design. And while Eataly Toronto may be a whopping 50,000 sq. ft., this design style could work in any size store, including small formats. Lacroix believes marché-style stores— with stations and stands rather than aisles—are the way of the future. Guzzi agrees: “We’re moving away from pragmatic, traditional linear design, for lack of a better word, and moving more towards things that are more fluid.” The prototypical linear, aisles-centric design “was built for the convenience of grocery, it was never built for the convenience of February 2020 Canadian Grocer
humans. Humans don’t like aisles, we don’t like corridors, we don’t like alleys,” adds Kelley. “We [as designers] are really just trying to break centre store down as much as we can, and get rid of the aisles as much as we can.” Generally, the traditional “centre store” is going through a period of flux. People are increasingly opting to purchase commodity-type products—think kitty litter, dog food, paper towels— online rather than schlepping it home from the store, says Kelley, but they still prefer to buy fresh items such as produce and meat at the store. “Centre store is most affected by this trend,” he notes. Lacroix concurs: “You’re going to see the centre of the store shrink when it comes to commodities, staples, dried goods, and this is going to leave room in the centre of the store for more fresh, unique offerings.”
Smaller stores, more frequent trips “Probably my No. 1 request is, can you do a 10,000-sq.-ft. store for us?” says Kelley. Indeed, store sizes are shrinking and there are a number of reasons why. “In retail in general, the growth is in urban areas,” he explains. “But the big mainframe grocery stores don’t fit in these areas. And generally in these urban areas, people are living differently.
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
Alberta's Freson Bros. regularly pulls out unique and interesting offerings to showcase in a curated station called Frank's Finds, named for Freson founder Frank Lovsin
They’re either young and don’t have kids or they’re older and empty nesters, and they’re not using a full cart—so all of this has been radically changing.” Kelley says in the case of smaller-format urban stores, he typically suggests taking out the traditional centre store and turning the locations into fresh concepts instead. “I’d say every time we do a smaller store, the retailer fights us, doesn’t want to do this. And yet when they’re done, the sales are incredible.” Going hand in hand with the smaller-sized store is the consumer’s tendency to shop more frequently with smaller baskets per shop—buying just enough food to get them through two or three days, rather than for a week or more. According to Bernier, this stems from several factors. “A lot of the younger generations are foregoing or delaying car ownership,” he says. “So they can’t go and buy 10 bags of groceries like before.” Many people are also trying to be less wasteful, he adds, and shopping for a just a few days at a time can result in less food waste. Also, the move away from plastic bags often means people are coming in and only buying what they can fit into their backpacks.
Pop-ups and flexibility Guzzi says this pattern of more frequent
store visits plays into another design trend, the “pop up,” which is making its way into grocery spaces. Nussbacher describes the concept as having different temporary merchandised sections that function like a store within a store. “The desire to rotate things in and out in a greater frequency is going to continue to increase. It’s the whole Costco thing, right? Experience it today and get it today, because it might not be here next week,” adds Guzzi, noting this fits perfectly with a consumer base that’s shopping more frequently. It adds to the treasure hunt aspect, he says, "that desire to go and go now; that drive to get people into the store.” Kelley points to a similar “treasure hunt” idea at Harvest Market where curated “modules” are set up (much like end caps) called Farm Finds, which also serve to connect shoppers to the overall mission of the brand. Here “you can find out about a small family farmer that has a certain type of eggs, or certain type of saddle soap, or certain type of bread,” he says. “Customers get really excited about these.” Shook Kelley implemented something similar at Alberta-based Freson Bros. called Frank’s Finds (named for Freson founder Frank Lovsin). “Those are just things that Frank Lovsin loves, and he’s like, ‘I think you’ll like this too.’ And he’s got a story for every kind of wacky product out there,” says Kelley. Generally, when it comes to design or re-design, recent research (2019) from McKinsey & Company suggests that retailers take an “agile” approach; one that doesn’t wait the traditional three to five years for a complete store overhaul, but instead involves updating the store little bits at a time. This could be a smarter strategy for retailers to employ, considering how rapidly consumer shopping habits are evolving. “Such an approach focuses on continually making one-off, high-impact changes rather than department-wide or storewide remodels,” explains the report titled The ever-changing store: Taking an agile, customer-centric approach to format redesign. “Indeed, retailers must adopt a mindset of ‘never being done’: format redesign should be an ongoing process of implementing solutions quickly and refining them constantly, with retailers keeping their fingers on the consumer pulse and adapting store formats to respond to evolving consumer needs.” CG
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The persistent problem of
As e-commerce amplifies inventory issues, grocers need to tackle the challenge once and for all 36
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
he days of the “ rain check ”
are long gone: today’s retailers have to give shoppers what they want, when they want it, wherever they are. Yet, many retailers still struggle with keeping products on the shelf at all times. While grocers have long sought to solve the stubborn challenge of out-of-stocks, the problem persists—and it’s a costly one. Worldwide, out-of-stocks are costing retailers across sectors US$984 billion in lost sales annually, including US$144.9 billion in North America alone, according to IHL Group, a global research and advisory firm. Its report, “Out of Stocks, Out of Luck,” notes that product availability is one of the most important customer experience components. Yet an IHL survey found North American consumers experience out-of-stocks in one out of five trips to grocery, pharmacy and mass retailers. Consumers not only define out-of-stock
By Rebecca Harris
as empty shelves (encountered by 32% of shoppers), but also include issues like failure to find staff to help (16%) and found staff, but not merchandise (17%). When customers can’t find what they’re looking for, the negative effects go well beyond lost sales for retailers. “Lost sales and frustrated customers—those are the big ones,” says Greg Buzek, founder and president of IHL Group. “The reason people go to stores is because they need it now and they expect you to have it. So, when you have an out-of-stock, you’re training them to not shop at your store. And that is the biggest risk. It’s not just missing that sale, it’s the fact that you’re no longer reliable as a supplier for them, and they will go elsewhere going forward.” Data from a 2015 report, “Solving the Out-of-Stock Problem,” by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute (now The Food Industry Association) Trade Partner Alliance, February 2020 Canadian Grocer
confirms the risk of shopper defection. The study found a “disturbing three-strikesand-you’re-out pattern” with out-of-stocks. The first time a product is not available, the shopper will substitute the desired item 70% of the time. The second time it happens, the shopper may substitute the item, not make a purchase or go to another store. Strike three: the shopper will go to another store 70% of the time. “It’s easier to switch to another brand or another store online,” says Daniel Triot, president of DHT Consulting and former senior director of the Trading Partner Alliance. “In a brick-and-mortar store, shoppers can make the switch, but it requires more work to find an equivalent product. They may come back a day later, but after two or three strikes, the consumer will switch brands or stores.” Why are grocery retailers continuing to struggle with out-of-stocks? Simply put, it’s a hard problem for them to fix, says Heidi Sax, content marketing manager at CB4, a retail software solutions company. “At the starting point, you have to pinpoint demand for every SKU at each location in a grocer’s chain to make sure you’re ordering the right amount of stock,” she says. “Traditional reporting and even modern business intelligence solutions rely on stale data and limited categorizing to anticipate and meet shopper demand.”
The omnichannel conundrum The out-of-stock problem is being amplified as retailers expand their omnichannel strategies. IHL Group’s report states that in 2015, out-of-stock levels were experiencing a decline from 2007 levels, but actually grew significantly from 2015 to 2018. “In North America, we were making great progress on reducing out-of-stocks with things like better forecasting,” says Buzek. “And then the whole e-commerce explosion with store fulfillment came into being.” That, he says, exposed retailers to previously hidden out-of-stocks. If a shopper made a substitution because of an out-of-stock in a brick-and-mortar store, the out-of-stock was unknown to the retailer. Now, with the range of e-commerce fulfillment options—buy online pick up in store (BOPIS), ship from store, and click and collect—out-of-stocks are exposed, as customers are requesting specific products that may have to be substituted by the store. “The end result is you’ve got this explosion of out-of-stocks in the e-commerce area that has more than made up for the gains that
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
have been made in forecasting,” says Buzek. Ironically, the e-comm technology many retailers are using is one of the root causes of products being out of stock in the first place. In today’s Amazon-driven era of convenience, many grocers are stepping up their omnichannel efforts, but they typically don’t have Amazon-level e-commerce platforms. Prakash Tilwani, executive vice-president of supply chain and media solutions at IRI Worldwide, knows this well. He used to work for Amazon as director and head of inventory planning analytics. At Amazon, “they literally know at every minute of the day how much inventory they have and how far down they can go with the prices without running out of stock,” says Tilwani. Compare that to brick-and-mortar retailers now dipping their toes into omnichannel. “Many retailers have very old systems and the way they built [omnichannel] is to have two systems somewhat combined on the back end, but not really integrated on the front,” he says. “What ends up happening is the e-commerce system doesn’t have a clear view into the inventory and they just don’t understand how much supply they have to create demand.” That means online shoppers don’t have an accurate view of the inventory, either. “Online inventory can be a combination of what products are in the distribution centre, the warehouse and in the store,” notes Sameer Anand, a partner at A.T. Kearney’s operations and performance transformation practice. That means when shoppers add products to their cart for a click-andcollect order, for example, they don’t know if the product will actually be on shelf when an employee fills the order. For home delivery, the challenge is compounded because the local store typically doubles as the fulfillment centre. “In the grocery world, where the delivery window is short, typically the source of inventory is only one location,” says Tilwani. “So because of the first challenge—not having visibility into your inventory—if you run out of stock, there is just no other option [to get the customer’s desired product].” At the same time, omnichannel solutions are putting more pressure on stores, which can impact manual inventory monitoring. “As stores become microfulfillment centres for things like click and collect, it creates a lot more operational demand on stores and store managers,” says CB4’s Sax. “That makes it even harder for them to walk the floors and detect out-of-stocks
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and manage their orders because they’re doing a lot more than ever before.” With e-commerce growing at unprecedented rates (20% growth in Canada in 2019, according to eMarketer), retailers have to get serious about solving out-ofstocks. “The problem is more critical … because you cannot [survive] if you’re not fulfilling the orders properly,” says Buzek.
How to prevent out-of-stocks Out-of-stocks will likely never be completely eliminated—no system is perfect. However, the problem can be greatly reduced by following best practices and investing in the right tools and technologies. Here’s a look at just a few: • Culture: Retailers that want to get serious about reducing out-of-stocks have to make the effort part of the organization’s culture. IHL Group’s report notes there are many technical solutions that assist in fixing the out-of-stock issue, but the first step for retailers is admitting they have a problem. “Simply accepting out-of-stocks as a normal part of business is business suicide in an environment where consumers used to have to shop and now must want to shop,” the report states. • Share data: DHT Consulting’s Triot says part of the cultural shift for trading partners is to be more open to sharing data, including allowing access to online, in-store and promotional sales to better understand where the product should be allocated and what is truly “on-hand.” “Retailers and manufacturers tend to, understandably, be cautious in terms of sharing data, but the most successful companies are those that believe the data belongs to both partners,” he says. “Sharing data is more of a benefit to both parties than being ‘restrictive,’ allowing retailers and manufacturers to collaborate more effectively on on-shelf availability to better anticipate consumer needs.” • Collaborate with suppliers: Poor communication with suppliers can lead to missed or delayed orders that, in turn, can lead to out-of-stocks. “Communicate with them, provide them the visibility, have the dialogue because this is a win-win,” says A.T. Kearney’s Anand. “It’s in brands’ best interests to make sure the product is on the shelf. So, have a truly collaborative dialogue with them and figure out how to work together to grow the pie.” • Computer vision: New in-store technologies use a combination of computer vision and shelf and ceiling cameras, or autonomous robots, to keep an eye on
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
the shelf. Typically, this type of system takes pictures at regular intervals, sends them to the cloud, analyzes the images to see if products are on the shelf and in the right spot, and reports back to the retailer. “Computer vision can help retailers a great deal in understanding mismatches on the shelf, where you have items that are completely out of stock but also items that are in the wrong place, or the vendor filled up the rows with the wrong thing, so it looks full but it’s not actually full,” says Buzek. • Artificial Intelligence: There is a wide range of AI applications for grocers, from demand forecasting and pricing, to loss prevention and promotions. Longo Bros. Fruit Markets is one retailer that’s investing in demand-planning technologies with AI capabilities. Rick Furtado, senior director of supply chain at Longo’s, says one of the main factors impacting out-of-stocks is multiple forecasting—from the store team, distribution centre, supplier and manufacturer. “The slight variation in forecast at each stage magnifies and generates a ‘bullwhip’ effect, which leads to out-of-stocks,” he says. The new tools have the capability to leverage not only historical sales data, but also data points like weather forecasts and social trending data. “As a result, we hope to achieve better quality forecast,” says Furtado. “It’s important for us to understand our guests’ needs, which will allow us to anticipate changes in demand, instead of traditional lagging indicators, such as historical sales to repeat future activity.” Whatever tools and technologies a retailer chooses, the most important aspect of mitigating out-of-stocks is having an accurate view of the inventory. “The connected devices, the smart shelves, the RFID tags, the robots ... It’s all about having the right visibility into your stores and your distribution centres, and having it on a more real-time basis,” says Anand. “Having that visibility is important because you need to be able to take action.” Effectively reducing out-of-stocks truly is a race for retailers. Buzek likens to it the average person racing Olympic athlete Usain Bolt in the 100-metre dash. Not only is his first step faster, but every subsequent step is faster. “There are retailers that have not only made investments [from the start], but they’re still investing more and racing ahead on the solutions,” says Buzek. “Where it gets really critical is they’re racing to this accurate inventory piece. And whoever gets there first will start destroying the competition.” CG
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BUTTERS & SPREADS
Butters and spreads are enjoying a renaissance, thanks to diet trends and product ingenuity By Michele Sponagle
utter is so hot these days, you’d think it might melt from being in the
spotlight so much. Whether traditional dairy butters, plant-based alternatives or nut/seed spreads, ingenious new offerings in the category have fuelled its current popularity, along with diet preferences and a collective change of heart about the fat content of food. In fact, it’s such a popular trend that Whole Foods Market included “Everything Butters and Spreads” as one of its Top 10 Food Trends for 2020. Traditional dairy butters are doing very well, in contrast to the slide in sales for fluid milk. Figures for butter consumption among Canadians have risen steadily since 2013. The most recent figures from the Canadian Dairy Information Centre show an average of 3.33 kilograms per capita, up from 2.8 kilograms a decade ago. In Ontario alone, Nielsen data shows that over a 52-week period (ending in November 2019), butter sales were up by 9%. February 2020 Canadian Grocer
AISLES The numbers have been robust over the last few years, agrees Rob London, director of marketing, Gay Lea Foods Co-operative; and these numbers are strong for all types of dairy butter. “The salted and unsalted types will always be the driver of the category,” notes London. “But we’ve seen some really good successes with specialty butters. Millennials are looking for high-quality, premiumized products and they’re willing to pay more.” Think European-style butters like Churn84, with 84% butter fat, from Stirling Creamery (purchased by Gay Lea in 2016) or Stirling’s flavoured butter rolls (garlic parsley and Bombay curry) and even a goat milk butter from Hewitt’s (acquired by Gay Lea in 2014). “I believe the premiumization of butter is where the future growth will come from,” he adds. “Consumers are looking for an experience with the product. I think it comes from the interest in food culture and a desire for good flavour.” Not too long ago, the thought of highfat foods would have struck terror in consumers’ hearts. “The nutritional pendulum has swung and fat is back,”explains Jo-Ann McArthur, president of Nourish Food Marketing. “It’s no longer seen as the enemy. In fact, it is seen as part of a healthy diet, especially with younger generations.” Perhaps the most notable twist is that margarine—once butter’s chief rival, only to decline in popularity once people returned to butter for its more “natural”
vegan butters lead in the U.S. market, and in August 2019, they were launched in 1,000 grocery stores in Canada. “It has been going well,” says Miyoko Schinner, a chef and the company’s founder. “When we began in the U.S. [in 2016], it was a slow start, then all of a sudden it caught on. We’ve seen triple-digit growth every year.” Schinner says she saw the need for plant-based butter that performed like a traditional dairy-based one. Her cultured butter starts with cashew milk, which is inoculated with dairy cultures. That brings down the pH and it turns buttermilk-like. It is then combined with coconut oil and churned into butter, which gives it a slight tang reminiscent of European butters. Diet trends are playing a big role in butter’s renewed popularity. “Butter is considered keto- and paleo-friendly, due to its high fat and low carbohydrate content,” says Rob Luscombe, grocery buyer for Ontario, Whole Foods Market. Keto and paleo followers are also often keen to add more nut and seed butters to their diets, and there has been a slew of new and innovative offerings to oblige. Smucker Foods introduced Adams Dark Roast peanut butter in Canada a while back and Kraft Extra Roasted Peanut Butter has just hit the market. Whole Foods’ Luscombe notes “consumers are looking for variety in their spreads,” and adds that new varieties of nut and seed butters, beyond peanut and almond, are being used in traditional ways—consumers are using them “as a spread, in baking, in shakes, or they’re adding them to meals as a source of protein and fat.” He predicts different types of seeds and nuts, such as macadamia, pumpkin and legumes, will show up in greater numbers in spreads and butters. Although these plant-based spreads are making headlines now, they aren’t a completely new phenomenon. Back in 1989 when Paris, Ont.-based Nuts to You began producing nut and seed butters, aging hippies and vegetarians were the ones buying its products. “We are still continuing to grow,” says Anne Lawrence, sales and marketing director. “Our products do well regardless of current diet trends. We don’t respond to them. We just focus on what we do.” The company’s top sellers include
“The nutritional pendulum has swung and fat is back. It’s no longer seen as the enemy” attributes—is still very much on the scene after rebranding. McArthur cites Country Crock, a popular U.S. margarine company that’s added a new “Plant Butter” line, as an example. The company has repositioned the brand, removed the word “margarine” from all its packaging, upped the price and now promotes its products’ dairy-free, gluten-free health benefits. Entering the plant-based butter sector in Canada was an appealing move for California-based Miyoko’s Creamery. Its
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
organic peanut butter, almond butter and tahini (made with sesame seeds). Newer entries include butters made from pumpkin seeds, cashews, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds (grown locally), hazelnuts and more organic varieties. “Consumers across a wide range of ages continue to buy our products,” explains Lawrence. “We are now into our third generation of customers.” Part of Nuts to You’s success also comes from its ability to merchandise well. The company offers monthly discounts to grocers on feature products. “We encourage retail partners to pass along savings to customers,” she explains. They also do on-shelf promotions, flyers, in-store floor displays and endcaps. Generally, merchandising butters and spreads in grocery has its challenges. “It can be a bit tricky as [many of] these products need to be refrigerated, so it is tough to make large displays,” says Christy McMullen, co-owner of Toronto’s Summerhill Market. “That makes using social media to promote the spreads … and provide ideas on how to serve them so important.” The effort is worthwhile. “This is a growing category for us,” she notes. “It has always been strong, but in the last couple of years our vendors have come out with many new flavours and products. We have almost doubled our shelf space for them.” At McEwan Yonge & Bloor, a gourmet food retailer in Toronto, store manager Robin Sukhram finds cross-merchandising works well. “For example, we’ll promote nut butters with artisanal baked breads to build a story for clients. They tend to pick up both when they see them displayed together. We also support plenty of sampling, accompanied by nice, big displays so clients can buy right on the spot.” Meanwhile, Gay Lea Foods is testing whether or not customers will buy its flavoured butter rolls in the deli section of supermarkets. “It’s something we’re looking at,” explains London. “It’s a different buying occasion, a different mix of products that consumers are looking for in that section.” The company has also updated its packaging and given it a contemporary look. “It’s time to update the butter category.” Given the innovation in butters and spreads of all descriptions, they’re clearly leading the way as one of the hottest food trends to start off a fresh decade.
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New on shelf 1 BREW DR. KOMBUCHA UPLIFT The ready-to-drink tea category is getting a jolt with the launch of Brew Dr. Kombucha Uplift. The new brew has 130 mg of natural caffeine per 414-mL bottle. (To compare, the company’s traditional kombucha contains less than 15 mg of caffeine per bottle.) Uplift is the first high-caffeine kombucha to market in Canada, according to Brew Dr., which describes it as “a probiotic pick-me-up with a satisfying flavour reminiscent of traditional iced tea.”
The latest products hitting shelves
2 AUGA SOUPS auga, an organic food brand from Lithuania, is launching its ready-to-eat soups in Canada that are made with vegetables grown at the company’s farms. Available in Mushroom, Beet Borscht, Minestrone, and Carrot, each soup is packed in a lightweight, BPA-free pouch. These vegan soups are shelf stable, gluten free and preservative free. 3 MAISON RIVIERA COCONUT MILK KEFIR Maison Riviera, the company perhaps best known for its Petit Pot Collection of yogurts packaged in little glass jars, is introducing coconut milk kefir to its lineup. The Quebecbased dairy company says its Coconut Milk Kefir has a smooth and creamy texture similar to drinkable yogurt and is ideal in cereal and smoothies. It’s available in plain, vanilla and raspberry flavours and sold in 946-mL bottles. 4 SWEET & SALTY CLIF BARS Made with a dash of sea salt to add a savoury twist, Clif’s new Sweet & Salty bars are now available in Canada in two flavours: Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Almond with Sea Salt. These bars are made with organic and non-GMO ingredients, including Canadian rolled oats, and help provide consumers with a good source of fibre and protein to fuel their active lifestyles, according to Clif. 5 CHEEZ-IT BAKED SNACK CRACKERS Kellogg says Canadians no longer have to head south to get their hands on its popular Cheez-It crackers. After nearly 100 years in the United States, the crackers have arrived in Canada. Made with real cheese, the crackers are available in two formats: Cheez-It Crackers in Original and Hot & Spicy flavours and Cheez-It Crunch Crackers, available in Sharp White Cheddar and Zesty Cheddar Ranch flavours.
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
It’s in the cards With increasing millennial appeal and high-margin potential, greeting cards are still big business. Here’s how to make the most of the category By Carolyn Cooper as mark twain might have said, the
rumours of greeting cards’ death have been greatly exaggerated. According to the U.S. Greeting Card Association (GCA), more than 6.5 billion greeting cards are purchased annually—roughly 80% of those by women—representing between US$7 and $8 billion in retail sales. While social media has resulted in people recognizing occasions like birthdays via Facebook and other social media sites more often than before, GCA says “they aren’t necessarily sending fewer cards as a result.” And, perhaps surprisingly, it’s younger consumers who are driving a lot of today’s card sales. While all demographics purchase greeting cards, Dana Scott, director of national account sales for Hallmark Canada, notes that “millennials represent nearly 20% of the dollars spent on greeting cards, and are growing their spending faster than any other generational segment. Millennials tell us that they love paper and tactile experiences because they are rarer and more special.” Scott says the market for cards will continue to grow, “especially as millennials
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
are moving into new life stages like marriage and parenthood, which have always been drivers of card usage.” “Gen Y loves the tradition and sentiment of hand-selecting the perfect card,” agrees Paul Werynski, director of sales and marketing at Carlton Cards. “However, they also demand product that speaks using their communication styles and their tone of voice.” Carlton has recently launched its Paper Rebel brand, for instance, including holiday cards reading “Merry whatever you celebrate,” and “This year, quit doing shit you hate.” Werynski says the line is “not your typical greeting card brand. These cards are raw and unapologetic. They range in tone from snarky and edgy to playful, witty and sweet.” What’s more, younger buyers are typically willing to pay higher prices for creative, craft-inspired greeting cards that often take the place of a gift. For example, Hallmark’s new Signature Paper Wonder line showcases “paper craft, diversity in artists, trend-forward designs and alignment with the wellness trend,” says Scott. “When opened, these cards
reveal a show-stopping, laser-cut design that can be viewed from any angle. The cards lay flat, making them displayable and the perfect keepsake.” Hallmark’s premium products can cost as much as $14.99 per card. As a small-format grocery chain, Toronto’s Rabba Fine Foods works with local and independent card makers to offer its customers unique options as well as an environmentally friendly focus. “All kinds of people come in to purchase greeting cards, so we make sure to have a good variety of contemporary and traditional options to match the personality, kindness and love of the gift-giver,” explains Rima Rabba, the company’s marketing communications manager. “We see greeting cards as a service item at Rabba Fine Foods … As a neighbourhood supermarket, it’s important to offer convenient items for customers who are on the go. If our customers are looking for a quick gift, they know they can pick up gift cards, fresh flowers and a greeting card.” Jean-Paul Michael, co-founder and publisher of Toronto-based Northern Cards, notes that greeting cards can also be a high-margin product for grocers, even with just one display. The company partners with many independent grocers and smaller chains, which often have much less floor space available for greeting cards. And by selling direct to stores Michael says they can offer “an unprecedentedly high margin.” From a merchandising perspective, visibility in different departments can lead to higher card sales. “A prominently placed, product-rich greeting card display can trigger an impulse purchase or remind the shopper of an upcoming birthday, wedding or baby shower,” says Scott. “We look for opportunities to intercept her in key spaces within the store, outside of the card department.” Standalone displays in areas that allow for browsing, as well as cross-merchandising in areas such as the floral department or at checkouts during seasonal celebrations, can also boost card sales significantly. “The greeting card category can play a key role in driving profitable basket-building sales,” says Werynski. “Grocers who maintain visible card departments along with strategic outposts and innovative merchandising solutions are seeing that translate into successful sales.”
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Jerky Four things to know
AISLES 1 A HANKERING FOR JERKY
Some credit Native Americans for creating jerky centuries ago, while others say we have an ancient Inca tribe (the Quechua) to thank; either way, as a snack, this dried meat has proven its staying power.
Canadian retailers rang up
worth of jerky sales in 2019, up 4.5% over 2018
3 AND WHAT ABOUT BILTONG?
2 DELIVERING A PROTEIN PUNCH Jerky has long appealed to its fans for its convenience (it’s portable!), tastiness, chewiness and its low-in-fat nature (jerky traditionally being made from lean cuts of meat, mainly beef). While all of those virtues still hold, today’s consumer is also wooed by jerky’s high protein content. Joel Gregoire, associate director, food and drink at market research firm Mintel, notes that while 10% more men than women reach for jerky, there’s an opportunity to appeal to the latter group as they seek to boost their energy levels. “Younger women, in particular, are more likely to view themselves as having a protein deficit,” says Gregoire. “So there are opportunities there for a meat or plantbased snack that speaks to their need for a natural protein source all day long.”
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
Biltong is having a bit of a moment. While not exactly jerky (it’s prepared differently), this marinated, air-dried meat snack is on trend thanks to its ability to fit nicely into popular diet regimes (keto, paleo) and that it offers something a little different. While biltong originally hails from South Africa, North American companies are jumping on board with companies like Chef’s Cut, Stryve and Jack Link’s launching their versions of the snacks.
more men than women reach for jerky
The plant-based wave has certainly not forgotten the jerky category. Those seeking something beyond beef can feast on meatless options that run the spectrum from soybased to banana and coconut to eggplant and tomato jerky (Bella Sun Luci created some buzz when it debuted its Tomato Jerky at PMA’s Fresh Summit last fall). There’s even an Organic Watermelon Jerky, introduced by Trader Joe’s last spring. “People are hungry for variety,” says Greg Sagan, vice-president of sales and marketing at Pennsylvania-based Giorgio Foods, which has launched Savory Wild Portabella Jerky. “We formulate our products to reflect consumers’ growing interests.” How are these alternative jerkys performing? it kind of depends on who you ask. Bethany Roberts, store manager at Colemans in St. John’s, N.L. says while there are some interesting options, she’s not seeing customers seek them out. Meanwhile, at Toronto’s Big Carrot, marketing coordinator Kate McMurray says it’s been the opposite experience. A big draw for the Big Carrot’s vegetarian and vegan customers, she says, is clean, meatless jerky that is nonGMO, such as soy-based Noble Jerky, made here in Canada. CG
— David Godkin and Shellee Fitzgerald
PIECES OF JERKY: SHUTTERSTOCK/HEKLA
4 GOING MEATLESS
Little things mean a lot, so let’s make them count.
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Baby care products - 52 weeks, ending Dec. 7, 2019 $ Sales
$ Vol % Chg
Units Vol % Chg
Baby feeding products
seems to be hitting the baby and toddler set, too—the “infant and toddler snacks” category has grown by 4.9% in dollar sales to nearly $48 million.
3. Infant & toddler snacks
4 Is the controversy
For such tiny people, babies sure do require a lot of products. Whether it’s diapers and wipes to keep them fresh, formula and cereals to keep their tummies full, or pacifiers and teethers to keep them happy, baby care products add up to a $1.47-billion business in Canada. This Nielsen data reveals how various baby care categories have been performing.
1 While diapers are
showing a bit of a decline, with a 2.6% drop in dollar sales, they’re still the biggest seller in the whole baby care category, with $387 million in dollar sales during the latest 52 weeks ending Dec. 7, 2019.
2 Sales of baby wipes
are cleaning up! “Premoistened towelettes” (also known as baby wipes) saw an increase of 3.2% in dollar sales to $185 million.
3 The snacking trend
surrounding baby powder having an effect on sales? Baby powder sales dropped by 12% in dollar sales to almost $5.35 million, with a 16.25% drop in unit sales to nearly $1.37 million units.
BABY CARE 1. Diapers Infant formula 2. Pre-moistened Towelettes (Baby Wipes) Disposable pants
Cotton swabs Infant cereal
Diaper rash products
Baby pacifiers & teethers
Diaper disposable systems
Breast pumps & accessories
4. Baby powders
Dairy beverages - toddler
SOURCE: NIELSEN, NATIONAL, ALL CHANNELS, ALL SALES, EXCLUDING N.L.
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CHECKING OUT George Condon
BRINGING THE FARM IN-STORE Grocers are experimenting with vertical farms. Is this a fad or an effective long-term strategy? AS CONSUMERS around the world increasingly look for locally sourced products, a number of grocery retailers are responding by installing indoor gardens to supplement their produce departments. Many retailers taking the plunge are partnering with vertical farming companies such as German startup Infarm, a company that is perfecting the technology. Infarm has been rolling out its units at food retailers in the United Kingdom and Europe. And just recently, Kroger, the largest U.S. supermarket chain, became the first in that country to feature Infarm’s systems in two of its supermarkets (both in Seattle) with more to come. The stores are under Kroger’s Quality Food Center banner. The gardens, called farms, are controlled remotely through Infarm’s cloudbased platform, which “learns, adjusts and improves itself continuously,” according to the firm’s website. The platform, which controls things such as lighting and temperature, enables the produce to grow optimally no matter where it is.
February 2020 Canadian Grocer
Similar vertical farm installations are cropping up in Canada, including at Avril Supermarché Santé. The independent Quebec chain installed a vertical farm in its newest store in Laval, Que. using CultiGo—a vertical farming platform developed by Quebec-based company Inno3B—and the owners say it has been quite successful. The goal “was to give customers an experience” and to overcome the “freshness challenge” of microgreens, co-owner Rolland Tanguay told Canadian Grocer last year. The installation of the vertical farm accounted for about 10% of the new store’s total cost. Vertical farming in general is not without challenges—it’s relatively new, of course, so there are bound to be hiccups. According to an article in the The Seattle Times, San Francisco-based Plenty was expected to open a 100,000-sq.-ft. standalone vertical farm, but recently announced the farm was too tall for the facility it had leased. “Some others, including Vancouver’s Local Garden and Illinois-based FarmedHere, folded
within a few years of breaking ground,” explained the article, referring to two failed standalone vertical farms. Still, vertical farms are continuing to spring up in warehouses and shipping containers as well as restaurants and grocers around the world. The jury is still out on the long-term success of vertical farms inside supermarkets. One drawback could be that the farms, so far, are typically limited to greens, which means things like kale, cilantro, parsley, some lettuce—but not much in the way of fruit, at least not yet. The attraction of the farms, however, is that they can provide fresh, hyper-local produce. And we’ve all become aware that food picked thousands of miles away loses nutrients and flavour in transportation. Vertical farming is still a high-maintenance undertaking, arguably best suited for low-maintenance, lightweight crops. “How would you vertically grow a pumpkin?” for instance, asks Persis Acworth, manager of the University of Washington’s campus farm, in The Seattle Times story. The article goes on to say: “Lack of crop diversity makes the plants more susceptible to pests, even in controlled indoor environments.” As for in-store vertical farms, grocers who have installed them seem pleased with the results. Kelli McGannon, a Kroger representative, noted in the article that she expects Kroger’s vertical farms in the Seattle stores to be very popular with consumers. “They want a one-stop shop for their fresh produce,” she says. That said, for me, “produce” also includes apples, pears, bananas, grapes, mangoes and so on. I can really only use a small amount of parsley or mint. Clearly, I must visit a supermarket with a vertical farm in order to judge whether its produce would be a draw for me or not. I imagine it will be the same for grocers, as they determine whether or not an in-store vertical farm is right for them. CG
George Condon is Canadian Grocer’s consulting editor. He’s based in Toronto. email@example.com
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