Canadian Grocer March/April

Page 1

Adding oomph to the produce department

Right on ‘cue: Summer grilling guide


Mike, Ken and Doug Lovsin

FOR THE LOVE OF LOCAL Freson Bros. serves up a “unique Alberta food experience”


2020 TRANSIT • Max. cargo space of 487.3 cu ft (13,795L)* • Max. payload of 4,550 lbs^ • Max. GVWR of 10,360 lbs^

Vehicles may by shown with optional features. *Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and weight distribution. ^ When properly equipped. ©2020 Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. All rights reserved.


Volume 134 Number 02




5 18 20 67

With a focus on craftsmanship and local fare, Freson Bros. serves up the best of Alberta

Front Desk Eating in Canada Behind the Trends Checking Out


6 The Buzz

Comings and goings, store openings, awards, events, etc.


8 Julie Poitras-Saulnier and David Côté


Loop Mission’s founders have a juicy way to tackle food waste


11 Amazon Go Grocery

46 Fruit and veggies are

Amazon reveals its latest push into brick-and-mortar retail

the star of store, but it may be time for a refresh

12 Food delivery may be booming, but …

To stay successful, these services have some hurdles to overcome


14 Enabling innovation

Arlene Dickinson’s District Ventures helps food entrepreneurs get product to market

55 Our new survey reveals

the pressure points of selling fresh fruits and veggies

15 Adding some Italian flavour


Walmart Canada inks an exclusive deal with Coop Italia


59 Thrill of the grill

A grocer’s guide to adding sizzle to the summer barbecue season

64 Brewing up business

How can grocers boost their beer, cider, and “near beer” sales?

66 New on shelf


Shining the spotlight on the latest products hitting shelves

66 8

FOLLOW US ON @CanadianGrocer Canadian Grocer Magazine @CanadianGrocerMagazine March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer


Nomination deadline extended 3 AWARD CATEGORIES TO ENTER: Senior-Level Stars Rising Stars Store-Level Stars


To nominate and for full award details, visit: GOLD SPONSORS




Vanessa Peters


Shellee Fitzgerald



Carol Neshevich


Kristin Laird


Josephine Woertman


George H. Condon


Michael Kimpton


Donna Kerry


Derek Estey


Michael Cronin


Alexandra Voulu


Lina Trunina


Valerie White


Chantal Barlow


Does this important department need some help?


Katherine Frederick

SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES Subscriptions: $85.00 per year, 2 year $136.00, Outside Canada $136.00 per year, Single Copy $12.00, Groups $59.00, Outside Canada Single Copy $16.00. Email: Phone: 1-844-694-4422 between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST weekdays Fax: 1-844-815-0700 Online:

REPRINTS, PERMISSIONS AND LICENSING Please contact Wright’s Media 1-877-652-5295


mail preferences: From time to time other organizations may

ask Canadian Grocer if they may send information about a product or service to some Canadian Grocer subscribers, by mail or email. If you do not wish to receive these messages, contact us in any of the ways listed above. Contents Copyright © 2020 by EnsembleIQ, may not be reprinted without permission. Canadian Grocer receives unsolicited materials (including letters to the editor, press releases, promotional items and images) from time to time. Canadian Grocer, its affiliates and assignees may use, reproduce, publish, republish, distribute, store and archive such submissions in whole or in part in any form or medium whatsoever, without compensation of any sort. ISSN# 0008-3704 PM 42940023 Canadian Grocer is Published by Stagnito Partners Canada Inc., 20 Eglinton Avenue West, Ste. 1800, Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1K8. SHUTTERSTOCK/THAIVIEW

Printed in Canada

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

WHEN IT WAS unveiled last year, many applauded the new Canada’s Food Guide and its simple message to Canadians: eat a variety of healthy foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables! As it happens, the government’s nudging of consumers to eat better was well timed; soon after, the University of British Columbia released a study showing a considerable 13% drop in fruit and vegetable consumption among Canadians over an 11-year period. Then came The Food Industry Association’s (FMI) warning in The Power of Produce report that although supermarkets are still the prime destination for consumers’ produce purchases, grocers are facing greater competition from alternative channels like specialty stores and farmers markets. Given the make-or-break importance of produce sales at grocery, we decided to take a closer look at it in this issue. In “Adding oomph to the produce department” (pg. 46), writer Rebecca Harris reports that although fruit and veggies may be the star of the store, pressures on the department suggest it might be ripe for a refresh. From creating an “open market feel” to installing

in-store gardens and juice bars, she shows ways grocers are adding excitement and providing a better shopping experience in the section. We also present findings from our inaugural Produce Operations Survey (pg. 55). Earlier this year, we asked retailers to tell us about their produce departments, and what stood out were the challenges they’re facing—from shrink and waste to labour and changing consumer needs, we delve into some of the pain points and look at how they’re being tackled. In this issue, we also talk to Loop Mission (pg. 8), a company doing cool things with produce. Loop makes cold-pressed juices and wellness shots from fruits and vegetables that would otherwise get tossed into landfills, teaming up with Quebec produce distributor Courchesne Larose on the enterprise. Loop’s story is an inspiring one—we hope you enjoy it!

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.


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer



The latest news in the grocery biz


Fresh St. Market’s fifth B.C. location is in a mixed-use development in Vancouver’s Beach District

Fresh St. Market has opened its fifth British Columbia location in Vancouver House, a mixed-use development in Vancouver’s Beach District. The 15,000-sq.-ft. store is focused on fresh and local, and features Fresh St. Market’s first restaurant, the 50-seat Fork Lift Kitchen & Bar.

Sunterra Market’s newly revamped Bankers Hall location in Calgary features expanded culinary offerings and an 85-seat dining area with charging stations and Wi-Fi

In February, SUNTERRA MARKET revealed its completely revamped Bankers Hall location in downtown Calgary, a site it opened 30 years ago. “We were space-constrained throughout our years here. It’s always been a very successful location for us,” Sunterra president Glen Price told Canadian Grocer. “When [a neighbouring restaurant] vacated, it allowed us to look at what might be possible in terms of expanded offerings and at the same time, do a whole redesign and redevelopment. It wasn’t just a renovation—we demoed the entire space and basically started from scratch.” The new Sunterra Market & Café has been expanded to 7,400 sq. ft. to accommodate more culinary offerings and an 85-seat dining area complete with charging stations and Wi-Fi.

Calgary is now home to a SEAFOOD CITY. The California-based supermarket chain opened its third Canadian location—its first in Alberta— in late February. Seafood City is known for its wide array of Filipino specialties, fresh seafood and in-house restaurants serving up Filipino fare. The first Canadian location opened in 2017 in Mississauga, Ont., followed by a store in Winnipeg last year. Next up: Edmonton.

At the Metro Plus Lachine grand opening (L to R): Robert Cardin, senior director, legal affairs, Metro; Guy Girard, retail operations director, Metro; Marie-Josée Bernard, owner; Denis Brisebois, VP retail operations, Metro; Enrico Ciccone, Member for Marquette, Quebec Liberal Party; Julie Pascale Provost, borough councillor; Maja Vodanovic, mayor of Lachine


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

News to share? Drop us a line at


A new METRO PLUS store made its debut in the Montreal borough of Lachine at the end of February. The 39,000-sq.-ft. store took six months to complete and an $8.3-million investment. With an emphasis on fresh, the new store features a robust produce department and more than 100 ready-to-eat meals.


David Singer

Anthony Carter

Minerva Acevedo

promoted to president of Thomas, Large & Singer (TLS); previously he was senior vice-president of the family owned and operated company. Prior to joining TLS seven years ago, Singer held positions at Pepsi Bottling Group, Acosta and Kimberly-Clark. Former TLS president PETER SINGER is now chairman and ANTHONY CARTER has been promoted to chief client officer at the Markham, Ont.-based company. Labatt Breweries of Canada has named MINERVA ACEVEDO vice-president of grocery. Acevedo joins Labatt after several years in senior sales roles at McCormick Canada and prior to that at Johnson & Johnson. JENNIFER CARLSON, has been appointed CEO of Baby Gourmet by the company’s Board. Carlson founded the food company in 2005.

Jennifer Carlson

Matt & Steve’s, known for brands such as The Extreme Bean, has promoted JAMIE GRIFFITHS to vice-president of retail and foodservice for North America. Griffiths is a former recipient of Canadian Grocer’s Generation Next Award who has also held senior roles at SC Johnson, Walmart Canada and Sobeys.


The National Confectioners Association’s  Sweets and Snacks Expo  returns to Chicago’s McCormick Place running May 19 to 21. Visit for details.  Store 2020, presented by the Retail Council of Canada will take place May 26 to 27 at the Toronto Congress Centre. For info, visit The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s  IDDBA 20 heads to Indianapolis this spring, running from May 31 to June 2 at the Indiana Convention Center. Visit for info.  United Fresh 2020 will take place at Chicago’s McCormick Place, running from June 16 to 18. For details, visit The Specialty Food Association’s  The Summer ­  Fancy Food Show returns to New York City’s The Javits Center from June 28 to 30. Visit specialtyfood. com for details.

News to share? Drop us a line at sfitzgerald@


Jamie Griffiths

AWARDS/RECOGNITION LINO SAPUTO JR., head of dairy giant Saputo, has been recognized as Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year for 2019. An advisory board selected Saputo Jr. for the honour for his “outstanding leadership,” and identified the Montreal-based company as being a highly-regarded organization that has experienced stellar growth and has built a significant global presence. Saputo Jr. has been the CEO for the last 15 years. The prestigious award has been handed out to 30 recipients since it was established in 1990.

Whole Foods Market awarded Quebec’s­ LES VIANDES DU BRETON with its National Supplier of the Year and Organic Commitment awards in Austin, Tex. The awards recognize suppliers who exemplify a commitment to environmental stewardship, quality, organic integrity and innovation. DuBreton president, Vincent Breton (pictured) accepted the award.

STAR WOMEN IN GROCERY Last chance to nominate! If you know an outstanding woman working in the grocery industry, please take a few minutes to tell us about her at The deadline to nominate is April 3 and winners will be revealed in our June/July issue.

March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer



Who you need to know


The founders of Montreal’s Loop Mission are tackling food waste, one cold-pressed juice at a time By Danny Kucharsky Photography by Chantale Lecours


ulie Poitras-Saulnier and David Côté met while going in circles on a ferris wheel at a Montreal business conference, but say it’s only a coincidence that their company is named Loop Mission. It’s actually named Loop be­ cause its goal is to promote the circular economy in the food industry; to find ways to reduce waste by repurposing surplus food. But it’s still fun to think about the double meaning. “It sounds like a magic story, but that’s actually how we met,” says Côté. It was only after they named the company that the couple realized “we actually met in a loop.” Montreal-based Loop Mission sells coldpressed juices made from produce that would otherwise go to landfills. Available in eight varieties, the juices are sold at about 2,000 points of sale in every province at grocers such as Sobeys, Loblaw, Metro, Safeway and Whole Foods Market. The company also sells wellness “shots” with cold-pressed juice and ingredients like turmeric and cayenne; sour beer made from discarded bread; and gin using surplus potato scraps. And the company has just launched soaps made with surplus oil from a fast-food chain as well as a “milkshake” beer containing byproducts from the dairy industry. When they first met, Côté had already launched Rise Kombucha, a fermented tea company, and vegan restaurant chain Crudessence, which now sells ready-to-eat fare. And Poitras-Saulnier, after completing a master’s degree in environment and sustainability at the Université de Montréal, had worked as a sustainability specialist at Keurig Canada as well as at organic products firm Prana, creating programs to improve their environmental impacts. “We were both talking about starting a project together,” Côté says. “I wasn’t necessarily happy having those two businesses to manage. I was becoming more of a manager than a creator and I felt that my strengths were not put at the highest level.” As for Poitras-Saulnier, her dream was to create a business that sold products that had a positive impact on the environment. Enter Frédéric Monette, vice-president of operations at Courchesne Larose, a century old, family-run fruit and vegetable distributor in Eastern Canada. In 2016, Monette called the couple and told them “we throw away 16 tons of fruits and vegetables every single day, 365 days a year,” Côté recalls. “That was kind of the aha moment where we knew that we had something there.” As of February, according to its website,


Loop had saved 3,467 tons of produce and 914,240 slices of bread, and avoided 2,792 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Loop Mission is 50% owned by Courchesne Larose and 50% by Poitras-Saulnier and Côté. Loop gets its juice supplies at a reduced price using Courchesne Larose’s overstock, while the distributor saves on landfill costs. Loop’s juice factory is also set up at Courchesne Larose’s warehouse in Anjou, Que. Although Loop began as a juice company, the founders quickly realized they could do much more. “We can actually make so many products because there is so much waste out there,” Côté says. With the juices selling well, Quebec grocery chains were quick to stock Loop Beer, made with unsold bread from St-Méthode Bakery. “When Metro learned that we were launching a beer, they didn’t wait for the branding to see it; they just listed it,” Côté says. That’s because “most banners actually want to have a good story to tell their consumers.” The gin, made with excess potatoes from Krispy Kernels’ Yum Yum chips brand, also quickly made it on the shelves at the SAQ, Quebec’s liquor board. Loop recently also partnered with Quebec dairy cooperative Agropur to create Loop Milkshake, a creamy “milkshake” beer made with permeate, a byproduct from cheese production. “It’s a very interesting liquid because it’s full of minerals, calcium, magnesium, but it’s just thrown away,” explains Poitras-Saulnier. Interestingly, part of Loop’s own waste is also used by other companies. Some of the fibre and pulp from juicing goes to make vegan dog treats for Montreal-based pet food company Wilder Harrier, for instance. “For us that’s really the vision of the circular economy: to connect businesses together to ensure the concept of waste doesn’t exist,” says Poitras-Saulnier. Loop, which now has about 30 employees, plans to start exporting to the United States this year and Europe in 2021. The soap and gin will likely be exported from Montreal while the beer and juice will be made abroad, working with different produce suppliers to use their own overstock. “We don’t actually look for overstock,” Côté says. “People call us and it’s always people that heard of us from the media. Every time somebody calls us with a good volume of overstock, we end up finding a solution for it.” Adds Poitras-Saulnier: “It’s fun because we see that we can make a difference. We adapt to the market and adapt to what’s being wasted.”  CG

JULIE POITRASSAULNIER & DAVID CÔTÉ What is the biggest challenge of being an entrepreneur? CÔTÉ: When I had my other businesses, I always felt so alone. The fact we’re actually partners in this [and in a romantic relationship] and working together makes me feel like I’m never alone anymore. Plus, the partnerships we’re creating (with other companies) make us feel like a huge community.

What’s some of the best advice you’ve received? CÔTÉ: Don’t start a business out of a desire of just success, but out of desire to solve a problem. Often the first motivation is to make money. That’s the wrong path because you get exhausted and not really excited about what you’re doing.

What do you like the most about working the food and beverage industry? POITRAS-SAULNIER: What really motivates us is the mission behind Loop. We can’t say no because people contact us now and we’re seen as a reference in food waste. That’s what we wanted from the beginning, so we’re really happy about that.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? CÔTÉ: We live an hour north of Montreal and we have a lake and a sauna. We actually like to plunge in cold water. We cut a hole in the ice and we go in there for a minute or two. It makes for really good blood circulation and it’s amazing for the immune system. It sounds crazy, but you kind of get addicted to it.

March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer


©2020 Jelly Belly Candy Company

Introducing the Fiery Five™.

The hot and spicy category continues to grow and grow. Now we’re fanning the flames with new BeanBoozled® Fiery Five™. This new take on everyone’s favourite challenge features five increasingly hot flavours ranging from spicy sriracha to the downright blazing Carolina Reaper. Available in multiple packaging types, it is perfect for everyone who enjoys playing with fire!

AVAILABLE SUMMER 2020 Contact us today Kosher Certified


Download the BeanBoozled App


Retailers, suppliers, shoppers, insights At 10,400 sq. ft., Seattle’s new Amazon Go Grocery is much larger than Amazon Go stores


Introducing Amazon Go Grocery


mazon has revealed its latest

push into brick-and-mortar retail with the debut of Amazon Go Grocery in Seattle in late February. At 10,400 sq. ft., the new grocery store is much larger than the company’s compact Amazon Go stores, but features the same “just walk out” cashier-less technology that caused such a sensation when the smaller format was unveiled in 2018. Like Amazon Go, shoppers use an Amazon app to enter the shop, they grab

what they want and walk out. A network of overhead cameras and sensors tracks what they take and the items are charged to their Amazon accounts. According to the retail giant, Amazon Go Grocery offers “everything you’d want from a neighbourhood grocery store.” The shop offers an assortment of “everyday ingredients and essentials” (about 5,000 items) that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, local artisanal baked goods and cheese, frozen foods, ready-to-eat and

ready-to-cook meals, snacks and even beer, wine and spirits. Amazon has been steadily expanding its presence in physical grocery since 2017 when it scooped up Whole Foods Market for US$13.4 billion. In 2018, it started rolling out Amazon Go (now at 26 locations) and while the behemoth will not reveal whether more Amazon Go Grocery stores are in the works, it is widely reported that Amazon will be introducing a conventional grocery format in Los Angeles later this year. March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer




To remain successful these services must overcome big hurdles (price, over­packaging), says survey  By Rebecca Harris canadians are crazy about food delivery.

In 2019, Canadians ordered nearly $1.5 billion in meals using a food delivery app (such as Uber Eats and Skip the Dishes), according to Restaurants Canada. The meal kit industry, with services such as Hello Fresh and Chefs Plate, has roughly tripled in five years and is expected to exceed $400 million in sales in 2020, according to NPD Canada. While business is booming, a new Angus Reid/Dalhousie University study suggests service providers must address major issues if they want to remain

successful. In a survey of more than 1,550 Canadians, nearly two-thirds of respondents (64%) believe the prices are too high. The temperature of the food delivered was an issue for 45% of respondents, followed by over-packaging (32%). Price and over-packaging were also issues for meal kit users (42% and 39%, respectively), which may be why meal kit providers struggle to convert consumers into regular users. The survey found 21% of Canadians have used meal kits, but only 4% order them regularly. “I think the price is a big challenge,” says

Sylvain Charlebois, scientific director, Agri-Food Analytics Lab Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University. “And what comes up a lot is the packaging issue. It turns a lot of people off ... Both issues are going to be very difficult to resolve [for meal kit providers].” However, Charlebois believes meal kits are still an attractive solution for consumers. “It reduces food waste because you basically cook what you need, and it’s convenient,” he says. The penetration rate for food delivery apps versus meal kits is much higher, according to the survey. A total of 67% of Canadians under 34 have used a food delivery app, versus 15% for Canadians 55 and older. Provinces with the highest user rates are Manitoba and Saskatchewan (both at 48%), followed by Ontario and Alberta (both at 44%). Quebec has the lowest penetration rate at 26%. Given these food delivery apps are a $1.5-­­­billion business, Charlebois believes grocers will be interested in taking a piece of the action. With a “grocerant” concept, a grocer can create a new brand exclusively for meal delivery, similar to what restaurants are doing with “ghost kitchens,” which can involve creating a new brand or menu items that are only available through a third-party service. “A ghost kitchen would support a brand owned by a grocer, so a grocer wouldn’t have to necessarily invest in a kitchen and infrastructure,” says Charlebois. “As soon as you see that amount of money [going to food-delivery apps], you have to pay attention.”








NO 83% YES 17%

NO 73% YES 27%

NO 80% YES 20%

NO 86% YES 14%

NO 83% YES 17%

NO 77% YES 23%

NO 72% YES 28%



March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer


Have you had meal kits delivered to your home yet?

Enabling innovation

It’s tough scaling a new product and getting it to market. Through District Ventures, Arlene Dickinson is working to change that By Shellee Fitzgerald it’s not uncommon to hear industry

folks lamenting the lack of innovation in Canadian consumer packaged goods, but entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den star Arlene Dickinson doesn’t share that view. In fact, one of the things that surprised her most when she started the District Ventures accelerator five years ago was

Arlene Dickinson, District Ventures and Jana Sobey, Empire/ Sobeys

how many people out there are innovating in the food and beverage space. A bigger issue, she contends, is the number of co-packers who will take on small businesses—“that’s more of a hole in the market than innovation,” she says. Since its inception in 2015, more than 60 companies—including the likes of Drizzle Honey, Zak Organics and Chickapea Pasta—have passed through the not-for-profit Calgary-based accelerator, which helps participants grow and scale their businesses. During the five-month program, held twice a year, cohorts—selected from hundreds of applicants—get sales, distribution and marketing support with the ultimate goal of getting products on shelves. So, who makes the cut? “We’re looking for companies making products that we think are on trend and we’re trying to put cohorts together that complement each other so they can learn from each other,” says

Dickinson. “We’re also looking for entrepreneurs that have got some traction.” Just like the retail industry, Dickinson says District Ventures is always evolving. Last year, for instance, the program established significant partnerships such as its first-in-Canada collaboration with Calgary’s Sunterra Market. Under the arrangement, the retailer gives precious shelf space to products coming out of the accelerator; it also serves as a testing ground where Sunterra is able to provide immediate feedback to the entrepreneurs on things such as pricing and packaging. In May, District Ventures struck a similar partnership with Circle K, where products developed in the accelerator were listed in more than 400 of the convenience chain’s Ontario locations. Last fall, District Ventures announced it was taking over Toronto’s defunct Food Starter (nearly a year after it abruptly shuttered), renaming it District Ventures Kitchen. Dickinson says the space, which gives early-stage food companies access to a commercial kitchen, among other supports, was the last piece of the puzzle in ensuring participants have support from beginning to end. Again, partnerships were key, with Sobeys and Chartwells Canada supporting the launch. And in February Empire Company— and its banners including Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Farm Boy, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods and Rachelle Béry—became the title sponsor of both the District Ventures Accelerator program and District Ventures Kitchen. Through the unique partnership, the program’s early stage food and beverage companies will receive support and coaching from the grocery giant as well as an opportunity to get their products on the shelves of Empire’s grocery stores. “We have forged relationships that actually add real value to these companies so they can get distribution, retail shelf space, which is always such a hard thing to do and, of course, the trend now is that grocers are looking for innovation, too—so it’s a win-win.”




Adding some Italian flavour Walmart Canada’s exclusive deal with Coop Italia includes more than 40 products By Chris Powell


walmart canada has partnered with

Italian grocery retailer Coop Italia to bring products from its premium private-label brand Fior Fiore to Canada. It’s one of a growing number of retail tieups that reflect the industry’s continued pursuit of differentiation. A Walmart exclusive, the Fior Fiore line includes more than 40 products spanning pasta and pasta sauces, pesto, bruschetta and pates. It is expected to grow to more than 100 products by the end of the year. Walmart’s senior category manager, grocery, Ivo Petroff describes the product line as “top-quality Italian food, sourced directly from local, family businesses in Italy.”

Walmart Canada approached Coop Italia about a partnership last spring, with the first wave of products hitting shelves less than 11 months later. “There is great alignment on level values and corporate culture,” says Sourabh Malik, Walmart Canada’s senior director of omnichannel grocery, noting Walmart’s customer proposition “save money, live better” resonated “exceptionally well” with Coop’s leadership. “Common values open the door to tremendous business opportunities,” he says. Coop is Italy’s largest grocer with more than 2,100 stores and a 14.8% market share. It established an international division called Coop Italian Food in 2015 with the goal of distributing its private-label products around the world. It

now boasts some 4,000 SKUs sold under the Fior Fiore, Vivi Verde, Bene.Sì, Solidal and Crescendo brand names. The Walmart/Coop partnership is one of a growing number of international tie-ups undertaken by North American retailers. The deals tend to be built around exclusivity, providing a point of differentiation from their competitors. In 2017, for example, Save-On Foods partnered with U.K. retailer Tesco to bring about 100 SKUs from Tesco’s private-label brands to its stores, while U.S. grocery retailer Ahold Delhaize also partnered with Coop Italian Food to bring its products to the Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s and Stop & Shop banners, and its online grocer Peapod. Retail analyst Bruce Winder says the deal’s exclusivity could help Walmart attract shoppers that might otherwise take their dollars elsewhere. “What they’re doing is becoming more relevant to select consumer segments.” Winder says the Fior Fiore products’ exclusivity will also allow the company to achieve higher margins than it does on widely distributed products. “You can take a premium margin because it’s a hard-to-find item that’s only available in your stores,” he says.  CG

RELIABLE FOOD PROCESSING MACHINES Md. PRO-9HD 3/4 HP Tenderizer Strip Cutters Available Md. 346 Size 32 Manual Feed Grinder

Md. 109PCM Horizontal Slicer Boneless Whole Muscle Md. AFMG-52 Size 52 Auto Feed Mixer

Md. 8-22 Size 22 Table Top Grinder

Md. B350A 13 3/4”(350mm) Semi-Automatic (10 Stroke Speeds) Slicer

Md. 1056 Size 56 Manual Feed Grinder

Md. 22SS 12” Power Cutter

Md. B300M 12”(300mm) Gravity Feed Manual Slicer

Md. 55 22”(559mm) Power Cutter

Md. BCC-100 Table Top Poultry Cutter

Md. VTS-42 Vacuum Tumbler

Md. VTS-44 Twin Tank Vacuum Tumbler

Md. MINI-32 Size 32 Auto Feed Mixer Grinder

Md. B350Comfort 13 3/4”(350mm) Semi-Automatic (40 Slices/Min) Slicer

Md. F2000N Food Former

Md. B350M 13 3/4”(350mm) Gravity Feed Manual Slicer

Md. 44SSFH (Fixed Head) 18”(457mm) Power Cutter

Md. EMG-32 Size 32 Auto Feed Mixer Grinder

Md. 922SS Size 22 Table Top Grinder

Md. AFMG-48 Md. MINI-22 Md. 3334-4003FH Size 32 Size 22 16”(406mm) Auto Feed Mixer Grinder Auto Feed Mixer Grinder Power Cutter

Md. 6642 Size 32 Md. AFMG-24 Table Top Grinder Size 32 Auto Feed Mixer Grinder


Dedicated to

Way of Life!


Real Deal A game changer in the gluten-free category, Promise Gluten Free is bringing tastier, healthier breads and baked goods to consumers


round the globe, demand for gluten-free products continues to rise, and consumers have a much better range available to them in grocery stores than ever before. However, the term “gluten free” often means “taste free.” That’s especially true for gluten-free breads, which have earned a reputation for being bland, dry and dense, as well as high in fat and low in fibre. Enter Promise Gluten Free, a family-run bakery changing the game in the gluten-free category. Launched in 2011, the brand has spent years perfecting the art of gluten-free baking so consumers no longer have to compromise on taste or quality. Now Ireland’s top gluten-free bakery brand, Promise Gluten Free continues to expand in grocery stores internationally, including Canada, the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

What’s the Promise Gluten Free difference? The brand, which has a range of gluten-free breads, cakes, brioche, buns and rolls, achieves its superior taste and texture through the use of high-quality, natural ingredients. But the real point of difference is the slow fermentation process, which allows the ingredients gel together slowly and naturally and the great flavours to shine though. The process also eliminates the need to use fat and sugar as a binder, which many other gluten free bakers use to compensate for the absence of gluten. “Promise Gluten Free bread packs a strong nutritional punch: not only is it dairy-free and delicious, it’s lower

in fat, sugar and higher in fibre compared to some other gluten-free breads,” says Mohamed Safieddine Commercial Director at Promise Gluten Free. “With healthier and tastier products, the brand is changing perceptions about gluten-free breads, and most importantly, is putting smiles on people’s faces.” The combination of lower fat, lower sugar also mean lower calories. With a huge proportion of gluten free consumers motivated by healthier living and weight loss, Promise Gluten Free really delivers in a way that no other gluten free bread brand does. With a focus on world-class innovation, Promise Gluten Free continues to improve and perfect its product range. Right now here in Canada, Promise Gluten Free is just launching its new larger slices in our loaves, after global market research found consumers want larger slices for sandwiches. Promise Gluten Free also removed eggs as an ingredient in its white loaves and rolls, so these great breads are now vegan. The brand also packs a visual punch with an updated brand identity, new logo and artisan-style packaging, creating a stronger impact at shelf. All of Promise Gluten Free products proudly carry the mark of the Canadian Celiac Association. Promise Gluten Free, which has been baking bread for 50 years made its Canadian debut four years ago, launching in Metro Ontario. In 2019, Promise Gluten Free expanded into Sobeys nationwide (including Sobeys, Thrifty’s Foodland and Safeway banners) and continues to roll out at major grocers and independent food retailers across the country such as Avril Montreal and Whole Foods Ontario. “We’ve had great success in the Canadian market so far and we’re excited to bring our healthier, delicious gluten-free products to even more Canadians,” says Safieddine adding that Promise Gluten Free expects to launch with other major Canadian retailers in the coming months.



Kathy Perrotta


To win over conscious consumers, companies need to be transparent and authentic in their actions CONSUMERS CONTINUE to be engaged and purposeful in their food and beverage choices. This shouldn’t be surprising given their seemingly insatiable desire to know more about their choices as they now see foods and beverages as cultural products to be discovered and shared. As a result, consumers expect food and beverage companies to innovate and effect change with transparency and integrity that reflects their commitment to ethical action. Ipsos’ recently-released Canada CHATS 2020 trends study reports that a third of adults (33%) seek information on a daily basis to inform decisions about what to eat and drink, who to buy

Ipsos reports that more than 9 in 10 adults prioritize product quality, product freshness and product makeup as key to daily decision-making, with the vast majority of those consumers indicating they are willing to pay more for these specific benefits. With half of daily food and beverage choices prompted by a health-related need, today’s consumers are also willing to put the work into these decisions. Among those reporting regularly reading labels to determine how healthy an item is, more than two-thirds (67%) report this impacts their purchase decisions. Manufacturers, retailers and foodservice operators will, however, need to be mindful that how consumers define healthy foods and beverages has evolved over the past five years. Individuals have moved beyond solely looking for specific quantities of nutrients and are now also seeking targeted benefits (energy, mental focus, satiety). There is also a growing focus and awareness on food and beverage lifecycles and their societal impact on individuals and the environment. Almost two-thirds of Canadians (63%) report that environmental impacts influence their consumption choices, with a similar share of consumers (67%) reporting that sustainable packaging (recyclable, compostable) and sustainable sourcing influence what they eat and drink. The CHATS 2020 Trends study also reports that while attributes such as fair

Identifying your target product consumer and keeping a watchful eye on their evolving needs, beliefs and practices will enable you to measure the voracity of edible ethics factors these items from, where to buy them and also how to prepare them. Canadians’ rising consciousness is bringing about “edible ethics criteria” defined by focusing on what is healthy; product and ingredient quality; and sustainability and environmental practices. These needs reflect consumers’ dedication to deeper, more salient values when deciding what to eat and drink.


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

treatment of workers, animal welfare and fair trade also remain key decision-making factors, the gap between aspiration and action still varies. There remains a notable gap among those concerned about these credentials in their willingness to pay for benefits, particularly among consumers over the age of 40. As such, identifying your target product consumer and keeping a watchful eye on their evolving needs, beliefs and practices will enable you to measure the voracity of edible ethics factors and gauge their importance relative to other priorities. With younger consumers (under 40) placing a higher importance on sustainability and the environment, it will be important to take cues from those most heavily invested to identify rising opportunities for messaging. In addition, rising availability of a variety of digital technologies is providing real-time access to information from anywhere and at any time, fuelling the need to know. It’s likely that QR code technology or some blockchain applications will continue to evolve so consumers can instantly learn about what they are both buying and consuming. These types of emerging technologies enable the consumer to feel a sense of quality control over what they choose and where they spend their money, and their engagement allows those in the food and beverage industry to engage in an ongoing dialogue with them. Winning with consumers today will not only require transparent communication about product benefits; to be successful, companies will also need to deliver a passionate message detailing their authentic commitment and ongoing plan of action for meeting ethical demands around food.  CG

Kathy Perrotta is a VP of Marketing with Ipsos Canada and leads the FIVE service, a daily diary tracking of what individuals ate and drank yesterday across all categ­ories/ brands, occasions and venues.



audited* audience/month


total impressions/month

54,578 audited* unique


#1 PUBLICATION FOR THE GROCERY INDUSTRY IN CANADA For more information and advertising inquiries, please contact: Publisher, VANESSA PETERS 437.889.0446 *AAM, ALLIANCE FOR AUDITED MEDIA



Convenience has been and likely always will be a significant driver in the evolution of grocery GROCERY RETAILING has certainly always been a dynamic industry, constantly evolving to meet the needs of consumers and win their loyalty. As a result, grocery stores have undergone vast changes since they first emerged in Canada. While the stores themselves have changed, the guiding light for grocery retailers has been relatively consistent: grocers seeking to provide convenience to consumers in one form or another. Offering convenience is essential to the success of the grocery industry for several reasons. Many grocery items are perishable, making freshness a strong driver of consumer preference. Excluding housing and transportation, consumers spend more on food and non-alcoholic beverages than any other individual category

the imminent threat of convenience stores in the grocery space, etc. Many of these “new” concepts, however, are not actually all that new. Delivery, self-service shopping and a convenience-focused experience have all been in play since the early 1900s. In fact, customers of that era often purchased groceries from roaming peddlers and merchants without ever needing to leave their homes. Today, shoppers can order a wide variety of goods from national grocery chains through services such as Instacart, Inabuggy or through a chain’s own proprietary service. Many of these services offer quick and convenient delivery options, sometimes even within the hour. Loblaw Groceterias introduced the self-service grocery model in Toronto back in 1919 to the resounding approval of consumers, who enjoyed the benefits of quality goods at low prices. J.W. Sobey began as a meat and vegetable delivery service in 1907 and eventually became a multibillion-­ dollar empire. Today, Sobeys is exper­imenting with “Smart Carts” through a partnership with U.S.-based Caper, which allows customers to access nutrition information, recipes and even payment options right from their shopping carts—a modern example of reducing friction in the shopping experience. In the 1930s and 1940s, many growing grocery chains in Canada began to consolidate their operations under one roof, offering full-service meat and produce sections and merging with other small independent grocers. These

The guiding light for grocery retailers has been relatively consistent: gro­cers seeking to provide convenience to consumers in one form or another of goods; almost 10% of total consumer expenditure in Canada goes toward groceries, according to Euromonitor International. And groceries are purchased frequently—according to Euromonitor International’s Lifestyles Survey, 42% of Canadians purchased groceries at least weekly in 2019. In the contemporary grocery industry, the leading topics of discussion are almost all related to convenience: delivery, click-and-collect, cashier-less stores,


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

developments culminated in the creation of the modern supermarket. This new model of grocery retail offered a range of goods in one store, at lower prices than the competition. Skip forward a few generations and a similar theme is playing out today. Walmart, for example, did not begin to sell grocery items until 1988 (and did not operate in Canada until 1994), but is now the largest grocer in the world. The ability to offer a variety of consumer goods under one roof at discount prices propelled Walmart to prominence in the grocery world. The takeaway here is not that history repeats itself (although that may be true), but rather that convenience has been and likely always will be a significant driver of evolution in the grocery industry. Today’s leading grocery brands now operate a variety of different convenience-oriented models, and it is clear that new features and services are based, in part, on long-held traditions of innovation in the industry. The difference between the two eras is in the ability of technology to overcome difficulties associated with innovation. Data-driven insights, artificial intelligence and payment innovations are allowing companies to market to consumers more effectively, streamline operations and provide the convenient shopping experiences that have attracted customers for decades. While it is impossible to see into the future, past precedent and contemporary trends show the grocery industry will likely never settle on a one-size-fitsall shopping solution. Instead, embracing technological innovations that chip away at the remaining friction points will further evolve the industry.  CG

Matt Godinksy is an analyst at Euromonitor International, an independent provider of strategic market research.





THIS YEAR, WHY NOT BE THERE IN PERSON? Join us at two of the best networking events for the independent retailing community!


Flavours of the World

95 annual TH



• Network with industry leaders • Learn about innovations in sustainability


• Hear from keynote speaker Chef Massimo Capra • Experience the Flavours of the World!


supply chain fanatics. s, which means we’re also atic fan h fres re we’ it— p We can’t hel s. atics. Food safety fanatic fanatics. Sustainability fan lity qua And s. atic fan And innovation ours. g your business along with And fanatics about growin



Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc

©2019 Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc.





he 2020 CPMA Convention and Trade Show is only a matter of weeks away and we’re eagerly awaiting the start of the 95th edition of this event! It is my pleasure to be welcoming those who will be in attendance and to extend a sincere invitation to all others to join us from May 12 to 14, 2020, as leaders from across the produce supply chain and across the world gather in Toronto, Ontario. Toronto, and its surrounding areas, are home to some of Canada and North America’s largest produce companies, and the city itself is an epicenter of Canadian multiculturalism. Boasting various ethnic neighbourhoods and having visible minorities account for over 50 percent of its citizens, the character and heartbeat of Toronto living are suited perfectly to represent the “Flavours of the World,” this year’s Convention and Trade Show theme. We’re eagerly awaiting this year’s show, where thousands of attendees representing Ron Lemaire, President well in excess of 1,000 companies from across the world will congregate to establish and Canadian Produce grow their professional connections. CPMA’s primary goal of the event is to drive business Marketing Association development for all attendees, and with that in mind, each aspect of the event focuses on this goal, with the Trade Show being the focal point. We offer numerous networking opportunities outside of the Trade Show, with the Chair’s Welcome Reception, After Party and Annual Banquet accentuating each day as our evening programming. Full Delegates can take advantage of meal functions including the Delegate and Companion Breakfast, Delegate Lunch with The line can be extended on either side of the skyline in o keynote speaker Chef Massimo Capra, and Awards Brunch honouring CPMA’s primary goal of the event the best in our industry, integrating the Flavours of the World with The orange colour used for typography and crests in is to drive business development valuable networking opportunities, education and sampled exceptional for colours from the specific commodities t ie. green for cucumber, red forinstrawberry and blue for b entertainment. On Wednesday, we offer two unique gatherings the for all attendees, and with that in mind, each aspect of the event form of our Fresh Drinks for Young Professionals event and Women in Produce Reception. focuses on this goal, with the This year’s educational programming will examine prevalent issues Trade Show being the focal point. in the produce sector through the lens of the “Flavours of the World,” intertwining our global industry with evolving flavours. Between the Business Sessions for Full Delegates, Learning Lounge on the Trade Show floor, Retail Tour, Retail Produce Manager Session, and Dietitians’ Session, we hope to impart valuable knowledge on each and every attendee. We would like to thank Canadian Grocer for sponsoring the New Product Showcase. Their support and passion for innovation in our industry aligns seamlessly with the CPMA Convention and Trade Show. I hope everyone takes the opportunity to read the New Product Showcase preview in the coming section. We look forward to welcoming the produce community to Toronto in May!


Ron Lemaire President, CPMA





Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Room Level 600

7:30 am - 6:00 pm

Registration Area Open

MTCC South Building

8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Retail Tour

Off site

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

CPMA Annual General Meeting

Delta Toronto

Kensington A&B

4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Half Your Plate Hockey Classic

Ford Performance Centre (400 Kipling Ave, Etobicoke, ON M8V 3L1)

Off site

8:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Chair’s Welcome Reception

CBC Toronto Broadcast Centre (250 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3G5)

Barbara Frum Atrium



7:00 am - 6:00 pm

Registration Area Open

MTCC South Building

Level 600

8:00 am – 9:45 am

Delegate and Companion Breakfast

MTCC South Building

Hall F

9:00 am – 11:15 am

Retail Produce Manager Session

MTCC South Building

Room 602

10:00 am – 11:15 am

Business Sessions

MTCC South Building

Room 801 A/B

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Companion Program

Off site

11:30 am – 1:15 pm

Delegate Lunch

MTCC South Building

1:20 pm – 1:30 pm

Trade Show Opening Ceremony

MTCC South Building

1:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Trade Show

3:45 pm – 5:00 pm

Learning Lounge

The orange colour used for typography and crests in MTCC South Building Halls D/E for colours sampled from the specific commodities t ie. green for cucumber, for strawberry MTCC South Building Trade red Show Floor and blue for

Hall F

The line can be extended on either side of the skyline in

Hall D Foyer

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Fresh Drinks for Young Professionals

MTCC South Building

Room 801 A

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Women in Produce Reception

MTCC South Building

Room 801 B

9:30 pm – 1:00 am

After Party

Delta Toronto

Soco Ballroom



MTCC South Building

Level 600

Thursday, May 14, 2020 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

Registration Area Open

9:30 am – 11:30 am

Awards Brunch

MTCC South Building

Hall F

9:45 am – 4:30 pm

Dietitians’ Session

MTCC South Building

Room 801

11:30 am – 4:30 pm

Trade Show

MTCC South Building

Halls D/E

12:30 pm – 4:15 pm

Learning Lounge

MTCC South Building

Trade Show Floor

6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

CPMA Annual Banquet Reception

MTCC South Building

Hall F/G Foyer

8:00 pm – 11:00 pm

CPMA Annual Banquet

MTCC South Building

Halls F/G

*Program subject to change



Crop that Started it All Duda 1926 Andrew took his first cart of celery to market.

Duda officially launched the DandyÂŽ brand.



Duda expands to offer celery, citrus, radishes, sweet corn, lettuce and more. We have more generations of innovation coming your way!

The Future

407-365-2111 |


Bonduelle Fresh Americas Fresh Picked salads come with leafy greens, seasoned meats, dressings and toppings like cheese, vegetables, crumbled bacon. Salads are available in five options: Caesar Salad w/Chicken and Bacon Cobb Salad w/Turkey and Bacon Santa Fe Style Asian Style Cranberry Walnut ?category=salads Booth #1004

CF Fresh, LLC Our Portabella Mushroom Jerky is 100% whole food and plant-based, vegan-friendly and comes in five unique flavors: Smokehouse Bacon, Hot & Spicy Cajun, Roasted Garlic & Black Pepper, Sweet Balsamic & Golden Fig and Sesame, Ginger & Korean Chili. Booth #1338

Del Fresco Produce Ltd.

Canadawide Fresh fruits and vegetables offered in consumer packs. We have come up with packaging that use more sustainable material. Booth #731

Cascades Part of the new Cascades Fresh brand and product line-up, new eco-friendly trays and unique basket-type designs are now offered as alternatives to traditional clamshells and other packaging type. Among the featured products is the first tray in North America to use a water-based coating which enhances the packaging performance while maintaining its recyclability. Booth #1403

DelFrescoPure® greenhouse grown Organic Sweet Rainbow Peppers are vibrant and deliciously sweet. Integrate the array of colour and sweet flavour into your everyday meals. Try eating them as an appetizer or sliced up as a delicious, healthy pepper snack! Booth #1711

EarthFresh Baby Potatoes in Paper Packaging. EarthFresh is offering Organic & Conventional Baby Potatoes in 1 lb & 1.5 lb paper bags that are made with renewable resources, free from plastic, and naturally light blocking. Visit EarthFresh at booth 913 to hear how they are moving to a sustainable future. Booth #913 Booth #1711

Dole Food Company Dole’s Chopped Bacon Caesar: This everyday classic includes parmesan cheese, garlic crouton crumbles, romaine and Dole’s Savory Caesar Dressing, making this a feast for the senses.

Leave the guilt behind with rainbow carrot chips! Their ridged edges and flexible, flat surface are the perfect match for your favorite dip and they’re naturally low-calorie and fat free. These carrot chips add color and crunch to any plate! Booth #1233

Emerson Canada Using next-generation cellular technology, the GO Real-Time 4G/Cat-M Tracker can monitor in-transit conditions including temperature, location, light and humidity for up to 20 days of continuous operation. Receive realtime via text or email if any adverse conditions arise during shipment. Booth #839

Del Fresco Produce Ltd. DelFrescoPure® greenhouse-grown Mini Crunchers Cucumbers® are a candy bar sized cucumber. They are rich in texture and despite their size, pack a big crunch. Enjoy our new Mini Crunchers Cucumbers® eco-friendly packaging!

Grimmway Farms

Houwelings Group

We are ditching plastic wrap, not the shelf life. Visit Houweling’s Booth 213 to find out more about how we are The line can be extended on either side of the skyline in saving 3.5 million water bottles worth of plastic per year. The orange colour used for typography and crests in Booththe #213specific commodities t for colours sampled from ie. green for cucumber, red for strawberry and blue for

Isabelle Inc Fresh Direct This Mushroom Medley includes savory King Oysters, earthy Shiitake, and mild nutty flavoured Shimeji. Enjoy this exciting mixture of tastes in a stir fry, risotto or your favorite curry dish. Also excellent as a side dish with salmon or steak. Booth #701 Booth #601


It’s a 10lbs paper potatoes with paper 100% compostable. Booth #1301

La Huerta Imports WanaBana exotic flavored100% pure fruit pulps are selected from the best fruits found in Ecuador. The Pulp is extracted and packed in very convenient ready to use containers that maintains all the natural properties without refrigerate up to 12 months. Booth #1910

PURE. BELGIAN ENDIVE FROM THE HEART OF EUROPE For those who embrace freshness. Who welcome quality. And who simply love endive—one of the most eminent representatives of Belgium’s delicious fruit and vegetables. Find your supplier at

Visit us at CPMA Toronto May 12th – 14th Booth 307 Th e c o n te n t o f t h i s ad ve rt i s e m e n t r e p r e s e n t s t h e v i ews o f t h e au t h o r o n ly a n d i s h i s / h e r s o l e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y. T h e E u r o p e a n C o m m i s s i o n a n d t h e C o n s u m e r s , H e a lt h , A g r i c u lt u r e a n d F o o d E x e c u t i v e A g e n c y ( C H A F E A ) d o n o t a c c e p t a n y r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r a n y u s e t h at m ay b e m a d e o f t h e i n f o r m at i o n i t c o n ta i n s .



La Huerta Imports WanaBana exotic flavored 100% Organic fruit purees are selected from the best fruits found in Ecuador. The puree is extracted without adding anything, no preservatives and no added sugar, only the fruit! Packed in packets without refrigerate up to 12months. Booth #1910

Lakeside Lakeside is committed to operating mindfully, with extra care ingrained in everything we do – from our products to our packaging. Not only is this packaging plastic-free, but our tomatoes were grown with recycled water and pollinated naturally with bees. It’s just one of the many ways we continue to grow with care.

Marzetti Dips, accelerating growth in the Produce Category. The relaunch of Marzetti Veggie Dips is centered around a dramatic reformulation to improve taste and deliver a cleaner label. Improved nutritionals with Marzetti Veggie Dips new formula, without sacrificing taste. Booth #221

Mastronardi Produce Tomato artistry from around the world culminates in this delightful array of colors, shapes, and flavors—now certified organic! Once you try them all, you will never experience tomatoes the same way again. You might even become a tomato aficionado. Booth #1021 Booth #1601

LOC Industries/ Alternative Kitchen Organic veggie alternative for Parisian Ham slices. Meatless: perfect for vegetarians and meat-reducers. Made from pea and wheat proteins, GMOfree, nitrite-free. Use them as a tasty meatless alternative on cold or hot sandwiches, pasta, salads, wraps.The only Organic certified meatless cold cut range available in the market! Booth #214

Mucci Farms

Mastronardi Produce We’re always growing for the future. That’s why we’re so excited to introduce our latest range of sustainable packaging solutions. From our Backyard Compostable Packaging to our new recyclable paperboard packs, we’re continuing to innovate with Mother Nature in mind. Booth #1021

Mastronardi Produce We’ve got something sweet to delight your tastebuds. WOW™ is the word, and it’s all about berries: Deliciously sweet, incredibly juicy and bursting with flavor, these extraordinary berries are unlike anything you’ve ever known. Introducing WOW™ - Berries Elevated™.

Introducing… Teeny Tiny SmucciesTM! Mucci Farms’ Award Winning Strawberries are adding a bite-sized version of a crowd favourite. If good things come in small packages, these Ontario grown baby berries are sure to impress! Booth #720

Mucci Farms Mucci Farms’ Natural Organics seedless cucumbers are #GreenhouseGrown365 under grow lights in Kingsville, Ontario. Certified Organic by Pro-Cert, our cucumbers are cool, refreshing and grown with care. Booth #720

The line can be extended on either side of the skyline in

The orange colour used for typography and crests in for colours sampled from the specific commodities t ie. green for cucumber, red for strawberry and blue for Booth #1021

Mastronardi Produce Sweet-like-honey with the perfect crunch, Honey Bombs™ is the latest addition to the SUNSET® Bombs™ lineup of on-the-vine snacking tomatoes. Honey Bombs™ offer the same highimpact Bombs™ taste experience that consumers crave, with a golden-hued color and fruit-like flavor. Booth #1021

Mucci Farms We are doubling down on our existing sustainable package with a new, innovative solution to reduce plastic even more—Introducing, Paper Top Seal! Available in multiple formats and Mucci Farms products, this pack is now completely 100% Recyclable. Booth #720


Mucci Farms Mucci Farms’ Zingers Shishito Peppers are mild finger-length peppers that are sure to #SurpriseYourTastebuds. Greenhouse Grown to perfection, 1 in 10 peppers has a kick so be on your guard…you might get zinged! Booth #720

Why does the world come to California for prunes? REASON NO. 2

Reliability It’s about meeting expectations, certainly. It’s about the peace of mind that comes with sourcing from generations of experts, absolutely. It’s about consistency in quality, size, and taste — no question. Because “sometimes” is no way to grow a business.

But that’s just one reason. Choose California Prunes for yours. | @CAprunesCAN


Pure Flavor Nature Fresh Farms Nature Fresh Farms Red and Orange Cherry on-the-Vine are delectably sweet and hand-selected with care. Indulge in one of the world’s finest tomatoes. With a candy-like sweetness, these grower’s choice Tomatoes are vine-ripened to provide an unforgettable flavor experience. Booth #301

Naturipe Farms Healthy, convenient and indulgent, Naturipe Snacks combine freshpicked fruit with delicious specialty ingredients in one portable package. A perfectly paired treat that nourishes and satisfies with flavor, fiber and Vitamin C, at snack time or for dessert. Booth #1513

naturSource Inc. naturSource mixed nuts boast intense flavour and easy-to-pronounce ingredients thoughtfully sourced from the world’s best farmers. With new flavours like Crunchy Coconut, Pecan Pie, and So Smart®, the brand is offering consumers an opportunity to indulge - guilt free! Booth #227

Okanagan Specialty Fruits Arctic® apples are nonbrowning, presliced and have a fresh-picked taste. Retailers and foodservice operators experience less prep, less waste, and longer shelf life. Arctic® apple fresh slices come in 5 oz., 10 oz. or bulk 40 oz. bags.

Bursting with rich, majestically sweet flavor, RedRoyals™ are a worthy complement to every eating occasion from a bite sized snack to a garnish with your favorite meal. Booth #1821

Pure Flavor Bursts of sweet flavors in perfectlysized portions for quick, easy and healthy snacks! Our favorite snacking tomatoes are ready-to-go in convenient single-serve portions. Busy parents can quickly pack the perfect lunch and kids love the juicy bursts of sweetness!

Sinclair Systems International, LLC

Saladexpress Florette’s salad kits are a delightful match between crisp lettuce and a clever topping, crafted from all-natural ingredients that are cooked together sous-vide to enhance flavours. Offered in recyclable packaging, they are prepared in Canada from local vegetables almost year-round.

Sinclair EcoLabel® is a food-safe and fully certified compostable labeling solution for the fresh produce industry. Independently certified by TÜV AUSTRIA under OK compost Industrial and Seedling certification, the label meets European Standard EN13432 for compostable and biodegradable packaging. Booth #1409 Booth #1201 Booth #1821

Pure Flavor

Savoura-Savoura Bio

Star Produce/The Star Group

With no more seeds to interrupt your snacking, these naturally seedless mini be extended on either side of the skyline in peppers are The littlelineincansize, but BIG on super sweet flavours. Grill, chop, or Thebite-right-in orange colour typography and crests in to seeused whyfor these minis for colours sampled from the specific commodities t truly have Big Taste! red for strawberry and blue for ie. green for cucumber,

With every color and shape, naturally brilliant flavor shines through. Mix things up at lunch and enjoy this organic medley as a fresh snack. Our Organic Sangria Medley Tomatoes come in all the naturally radiant colors kids love!

SAVOURA becomes the first Greenhouse Grower in the country to offer major distributors Organic Cherry on the vine tomatoes without any packaging this approach fits with our objectif to reduce progressively overwrapping of the packaging of our products offered to consumers Booth #1821 Booth #1139

Red Sun Farms


The Little Potato Company

Sev-Rend’s Recyclable IRC Film is the ideal way for produce focused marketers and retailers to profit from cross promotion programs within the fresh fruit & vegetable industry. The Instant Redeemable Coupon approach helps retailers drive sales for fresh produce. Booth #1001

Our family just got a little sweeter! Introducing The Sweet Family: Sweetpops, Sweetpeps and our newest member Sweetpeaks. From snacking to culinary creations, our scrumptious family has creative, eye catching packaging with quirky messages for all veggie connoisseurs. Booth #503 Booth #1530 foodservice Booth #1239


Finally, a solution to your shoppers' meal planning dilemma! Easy Sides are seasoned, fully cooked Creamer potatoes, hot and crispy in 7 minutes, and available in four culinary-inspired flavours. Premium, eye-catching packaging highlights pairing options for a complete meal solution!


The Little Potato Company

Vegpro International Inc.

Inspired by bright, fresh flavours of the Mediterranean, our new Lemon & Garden Herb is a complement of garden herbs, with hints of lemon. With our convenient line of Microwave Ready products, dinner is on the table in 5 minutes! Booth #1001

Thomas Fresh

Vegpro International and Cascades are going green: by the end of 2021, all Fresh Attitude plastic containers will be made from 100% recycled material while still being 100% recyclable. These containers will start being introduced to the market this spring. Booth #1201

Try our Easy-Open Young Coconut with biodegradable plastic packaging and a bamboo straw used to push through the husk effortlessly. Save yourself the work and fuss of opening a coconut and enjoy fresh coconut water - it’s easy! Booth #1313

Veg-Pak Produce At Harvest Fresh we know our Kale, and we’ve perfected a delicious blend of fresh Kale, Carrots and Cabbage with absolutely no preservatives or artificial flavours! One taste you’ll be hooked on our crunchy Harvest Fresh Kale Slaw.

Windset Farms Fresco® Baby Cucumbers are the ultimate snacking cucumbers! They may be tiny in size, but they have everything our other bigger cucumbers have to offer; nutrients, taste, texture and freshness! Just wash and pop them right in your mouth! Booth #1321

Windset Farms This colorful greenhouse party tray contains sweet Concerto® Grape Tomatoes, bright Dolce® Mini Peppers, and crunchy Fresco® Baby Cucumbers. A healthy, sustainably-grown, and super convenient veggie tray from our farm to your table. Booth #1321

Wonderful Pistachios Wonderful Pistachios No Shells Honey Roasted are kissed with honey, sugar and a pinch of salt for a sweet snack. Wonderful Pistachios No Shells Chili Roasted are bursting with big, bold flavors to tingle your tongue. Less crackin’, more snackin’! Booth #1221


This season Zespri Kiwifruit is introducing custom packaging to the We are thrilled to retail shelves! This unique pack will welcome the newest The line can be extended on either side of the skyline in increase stopping power at the retail member to the Wonderful shelf, better protect our fruit, and is family tree - Wonderful Seedless Themade orange colour used for materials. typography and crests in from 100% recycled Lemons! They’re juicy, zesty, naturally for colours sampled from the specific commodities t zesprikiwi.comm Booth #804 ie. green for cucumber, red for strawberry and blue for seedless and Non-GMO Project Verified. Wonderful Seedless Lemons are everything consumers love about lemons, minus the pesky little seeds.

Wonderful Citrus

Westmoreland Topline Farms HUGE Crunchers® a snacking mini cucumber packed with a HUGE Crunch and a HUGE Flavor. A one or two bite sized mini cucumber ready to snack on. Booth #511 Booth #1221 Booth #1031

Flavours of the World 95 annual TH


Top Chef Massimo Capra






Tangelos by

PART GRAPEFRUIT, PART TANGERINE. With family roots like that, Minneola tangelos can’t help packing a ton of flavor into every bite. So tangy. So juicy. So easy to peel. There’s nothing quite like these snackable varieties. To share the fruits of our labor, contact us at, 661-290-8800, or visit

Sunkist is a trademark of Sunkist Growers Inc., USA. © 2020

(Left) The Lovsin family, left to right: Frank, Mike, Agnes, Ken, Dan and Doug; (Right) Freson Bros. offers an array of hot meals for dining in or taking home

With a focus on local food and craftsmanship, freson bros. prides itself on offering “a unique Alberta food experience” it’s lunchtime, and the 90-seat restaurant in the

Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Freson Bros. grocery store is bustling. Three older men sit together eating lunch, having a beer, laughing and catching up. They don’t look like they’re in any hurry to leave. At another table, two women sip on coffee, chat, and eat icing-covered sourdough cinnamon buns; at another, a dad and his two young kids dig into their fire-cooked pizzas. Everyone glances up from time to time to check out the large TV screens broadcasting a big curling event, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The scene described above is a far cry from the first Freson Bros. (then called Freson Market) that was established in 1955. Opened by Frank Lovsin


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

and Leo Resik, the original store, a butcher shop, was located in Hinton, Alta., a small town that hadn’t even been surveyed yet. Not long after opening, the pair realized that to thrive they would need to expand beyond just selling meat, and were soon stocking produce, baked goods and grocery items. Today, 65 years later, Freson Bros.—helmed by the Lovsin family with Frank’s three sons, Doug, Ken and Mike, in executive positions—now operates 15 stores throughout Alberta. The Fort Saskatchewan location is the independent chain’s newest, opened in 2018. This 42,500-sq.-ft. store won the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers’ Gold Award for Top Independent Grocer of the Year (large surface) in 2019,


for the love of LOCAL

By Carol Neshevich || Photography by Roth and Ramberg

March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer



(Top right) The restaurant area is a comfy spot that encourages people to sit and hang out; (Bottom left) Banj’s Smokehouse showcases Freson’s famous in-house smoked meat products


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

and it exemplifies the rebranding/redesign that’s been underway at Freson Bros. over the past decade. “The new format store, we liken it to a hybrid store—and we call it a hybrid because it’s really a compilation of a restaurant and a fresh market store, filled with unique ‘store within a store’ concepts. So the candy shop [Sweet Treats] is a store within a store, and our Baker’s Pantry is a store within a store, and our Granny’s Wisdom area is a store within a store,” says Doug Lovsin, president & COO of Freson Bros. “And we’ve also tried to address the needs of the consumer to hopefully solve some meal solution problems, with our restaurant and our prepared foods.” Designed by Los Angeles-based retail design firm Shook Kelley, the new format was prototyped in 2013 with Freson’s Stony Plain store. The Fort Saskatchewan location is the next evolution. Unique to Fort Saskatchewan, for instance, is the Father Dough Pizza station where thin crust, Italian-style pizzas are cooked in a woodstone oven featuring Freson’s made-in-store sourdough as the crust. Fort Saskatchewan is also the first location to offer beer and wine in the dine-in area, featuring Alberta craft beer from local brewers like Norsemen Brewing Co. and Troubled Monk Brewery. A focus on local is, in fact, a cornerstone of the Freson Bros. identity. “Our slogan is that we offer a ‘unique Alberta food experience,’” says Doug, stressing that Freson Bros. only sells Alberta beef, pork and chicken in the store and in its restaurant dishes.

Saputo congratulates Freson Bros. on 65 years in business! ! e n o d ll We

For recipe ideas


COVER STORY “With the Freson Bros. brand, we’ve got some ‘brand felonies’ that we just don’t do,” explains Ken Lovsin, the company’s chief information & marketing officer. “We wouldn’t get beef from outside of Alberta because that’s a brand felony, right? We have some of the best quality protein in the world here and we want to celebrate that.” They also aim to stock as much Alberta produce as possible, “and in our bakery, we only use Alberta flour,” notes Doug. Alberta-made packaged goods also occupy a lot of space on the shelves at Freson Bros., from craft sodas by Canmore’s Grizzly Paw Soda Company to kombuchas from Alberta companies such as True Buch Kombucha and Wild Tea Kombucha. Sampling stations also tend to feature local offerings: on this day, Calgary-based Jenny’s Delectables offers samples of its Gourmet Stuff’d Potatoes. And the Frank’s Finds kiosk (curated

(Top left) Freson Bros. only sells Alberta beef, pork and chicken; (Right and bottom) Hot meals can be enjoyed in the restaurant area, which also serves wine and beer


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

“treasure hunt” type stations where unique products are showcased) also highlights local items. Specialty salsas and tortilla chips from Calgary’s El Gringo, for instance, are featured as Frank’s Finds on the day Canadian Grocer popped in for a visit. Fostering strong relationships with Alberta suppliers is key to this locally-focused strategy; and it’s these relationships that boost the company’s ability to offer the best in local meat, produce and grocery brands. “A good example is, we deal with a company called Leffers Brothers Organics, a family-based business in southern Alberta,” says Doug. “They have a carrot that’s grown in perfect soil conditions to create Alberta’s sweetest carrot. And we have an absolutely wonderful relationship with that family. We’re well into six, seven years of building strong relationships with them, and it’s the same story with many, many others.”

Congratulations to Freson Bros. on

65 great years!


Wondering how or where to get a custom ice cream mix, base or butter made for your business? Looking for a production facility that can create a private label for your brand? Foothills Creamery can create recipes and solutions for your co-packing and butter needs! For more information visit us at or call us at 1-800-783-8577. • Ice Cream • Soft Serve • Premium Butter • Whipped Butter • Retail • Food Service


Foothills Creamery Ltd.

The store’s bakery, the Mother Dough Bread Co., features in-store made sourdough bread items; while the Father Dough Pizza station (bottom) uses Mother Dough bread as its crust


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

Among the “store-within-a-store” elements of the new-format store, the Mother Dough Bread Co. grabs attention. In this bakery section, Freson’s now famous sourdough—first created in Stony Plain in 2015 using just flour, water and salt—is used to make a variety of baked goods. “Our ‘mother dough’ is really the foundation of all the yeast products in our bakery … it’s basically a three-day process to make the Alberta sourdough product,” explains Doug. “We’re very proud that our bakers are fermentation bakers, they understand the art of fermentation.” Then there’s Banj’s Smokehouse, where in-house smoked meat products are sold (jerky, meat sticks, sausage, smoked pork bones); the Root Cellar, a cool, darkened alcove where root vegetables and potatoes are attractively merchandised; and the Sweet Treats section, set up to look like an old-fashioned candy store. There’s also Granny’s Wisdom, “our take on a natural health and wellness section,” says Doug. The Baker’s Pantry, according to the Lovsins, has become one of the more popular “store-within a-store” features. The section feels like a whole other store, one where shoppers can find all kinds of high-end baking-related products—ranging from chocolate chips, flour and cake toppers to designer oven mitts, aprons and teapots. “It’s a real slowdown zone, where people are inspired by all of the kitchen tools and unique items in there,” says Doug, “so when they go back into their home kitchen, they can create something special for their family.” In the restaurant, in addition to grabbing a Father Dough Pizza and a local craft beer, other options include the salad bar, a sandwich station, a dessert bar, and the Butcher’s Cookhouse, where customers can order items such as beef on a bun, a quarter chicken, pulled pork, in-store made sausage, and smoked beef short ribs, served alongside a variety sides including mac & cheese, onion rings, steamed veggies and mashed potatoes. There’s even an allyou-can-eat brunch every Saturday and Sunday featuring pancakes, waffles and French toast (all made from Freson’s own sourdough) and the brand’s signature in-store made sausage. Freson Bros. has worked hard to make the dine-in area a place where people want to hang out. “Something grocers have to come to terms with is, if you’re going to be a restaurant you need to behave like a restaurant,” explains Doug. “I think in the past, a lot of grocers just put out tables and chairs and thought people would be comfortable sitting there—but we have a restaurant. It doesn’t just look like a grocery store with tables and chairs. People can slow down and feel like they’re eating in a restaurant, because it is a restaurant.” Doug says the family is also especially proud of how they’ve nurtured the idea of in-store craftsmanship at Freson Bros. “We have everything from Red Seal chefs in our kitchens to cheesemakers to sourdough bread bakers to butchers and smokers and sausage makers,” he says. “We’ve focused on

Congratulations to Freson Bros. on celebrating 65 years! We are proud to be a supplier and look forward to many more years with you.

Quality Meats. Quality Ingredients. Proudly Canadian.

HISTORY, HERITAGE, AND PASSION… that’s our story. Our products are hand-crafted from family recipes using premium ingredients and natural hardwood smoke. We’ve been doing it this way for over 90 years.

HARVEST MEATS… made with pride in Yorkton, SK.



on celebrating

65 years

of growth and success


The “store within a store” elements include Granny’s Wisdom, focusing on natural health; Baker’s Pantry, a baking “slowdown zone;” and the Root Cellar, a darkened alcove for root veggies


developing this kind of talent and skill to create distinction in our stores. I think maybe where other [grocers] have removed labour, we’ve focused on developing skill to create distinction in our brand.” He notes that attracting talent into retail is one of grocery’s biggest challenges these days, as the younger people are often looking for something more glamorous when it comes to work—and “grocery” and “glamour” haven’t traditionally been two words that go together. But with high-quality, artisanal foods increasingly being viewed as “cool” by the younger generation, Freson’s strategy of focusing on craftsmanship is paying off in terms of attracting younger workers. “We’re seeing a resurgence in young peoples’ interest in high-quality meat, produce, baking and cooking,” explains Doug. “So we’re working on helping them develop their skills [in those areas] so they can achieve their own goals, and hopefully those also align with ours.” For too many years, he adds, “with the rush to create efficiency and remove labour from stores, [grocery] chased away a whole generation of individuals that may have considered working in our industry. I think now we’re bringing them back with their interest in working with high-quality food.” Until now, Freson Bros. has located its stores in smaller towns and suburbs, but in 2021, a new store in Edmonton is set to open. “This is our first foray into a major metro area,” says Mike Lovsin, chairman & CEO of the company. “That’s a big change for us. We’re excited about it. It’ll be a new chapter

March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

for Freson Bros. without a doubt, but it’s a challenge we’re up for.” The Edmonton location will be approximately the same size as the Fort Saskatchewan store, with most of the same features plus a few new twists (but the brothers don’t want to spoil the surprise by revealing those just yet). They have no doubt the urban crowd will love it. “It continually surprises me when we’re in Edmonton doing business, or talking to people from Edmonton, that they’ve seen our stores, they like what they see, and they’re really excited about having this store in southwest Edmonton,” says Mike. Adds Doug: “I think Edmontonians are really looking forward to some of the products that they can only get at our stores, whether it’s our famous Ivan’s sausage or Alberta sourdough bread, or our 18-hour hardwood-smoked pork ribs.” While at first glance the 2020 version of Freson Bros. might look unrecognizable to a Freson Market customer from 65 years ago, the heart of the brand is still much the same. “Our dad started this company in 1955 as a small meat market, and the principles that we follow today are the principles that he built and created 65 years ago,” says Mike. Ken agrees: “Our focus on family and our focus on community has remained the same, and will continue to remain the same. As we celebrate our 65th anniversary, we’re very excited to move in new directions and continue to innovate, and to show our customers what we can do to solve the problems they have when they come to us.”  CG

Congratulations Freson Bros. on 65 years! Wishing you continued success in the future! From your friends at Fresh Forward Inc. Toll free: 1-844-450-6545 -



Canadian Linen and Uniform ServiCe is recognized as the largest uniform rental and linen supply company in Canada and one of the largest in North America.



Adding oomph to the produce department Fruit and veggies are the star of the store, but it may be time for a refresh By Rebecca Harris a major profit centre and a main attraction for

consumers, fresh produce is viewed as an important (if not the most important) department in a grocery store. However, pressure on the category is rising and growth is losing momentum, which means the fruit and vegetable section is ripe for a refresh. According to The Power of Produce 2020 report by The Food Industry Association (FMI), supermarkets remain a produce stronghold, but they are experiencing increased competition from other channels. These channels include specialty/organic stores, as well as alternative channels such as farmers markets and subscription services—a draw for younger consumers in particular. On the sales-growth front, the produce department has gone from outpacing the store to being flat, says Jonna Parker, principal, Fresh Center of Excellence at IRI, a Chicago-based big data, analytics and insights firm. Back in 2014 and 2015, the dollar sales growth rate for produce was in the 3% to 5% range nationally in the United States, but at the end of 2019, the growth rate was only 1.4%. While produce is still a powerhouse, “it’s certainly underperforming relative to what it could be,” says Parker. In Canada, it seems consumer consumption of fruit and veggies could use a boost. According to a University of British Columbia study released in 2019, Canadians’ consumption of fruit and vegetables dropped 13% in 11 years. In 2015, Canadians


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

reported consuming an average of 4.6 servings of total fruit and vegetables daily, down from 5.2 servings per day back in 2004. To stay on top, grocers need to constantly reimagine their produce departments, says Rick Stein, vice-president of fresh at FMI. “Produce is the visual star to most stores, and consumers say they will go out of their way to shop at a store with a reputable produce department,” says Stein. “Also, produce consistently remains one of the primary reasons consumers shop where they shop, so when retailers continually ‘freshen-up’ their produce departments, [they’re doing so] in their most critical department.” Here’s a look at how grocers are adding more oomph to the produce department:

Putting the ‘market’ in supermarket Walmart is taking a page from old-school fruit-­ and-vegetable markets with a redesigned produce department it’s currently rolling out. The retailer describes the key features as an “open market feel” and more space for shopping, with low-profile displays and wider aisles. In a blog post, Charles Redfield, executive vice-president of Walmart U.S. Food, said the new bins allow customers to see everything available in the department right when they walk into the store. “We’re using colourful, abundantly filled displays to highlight freshness and the quality of our items—for example, large bins of ripe red

PRODUCE tomatoes and sizeable displays of seasonal items like squash and pumpkins,” he explained. B.C.-based Fresh St. Market, which first opened in 2013, was built on the market feel. Departments are made to look like the individual vendor shops seen in public markets and are categorized with their own names. For example, the produce section at Fresh St. Market’s new downtown Vancouver store is called “Welcome to our Garden in the City” and at the Whistler store, it’s named “Welcome to our Garden in the Mountains.” To display produce, the retailer uses all-natural materials such as plywood bins made to represent orchard bins from farm stands. Fruits and veggies are also displayed in baskets and barrels for a more rustic, earthy feel. “This really lends to letting the produce feel more natural, and it brings warmth to the department,” says Aaron Usher, produce category manager at Georgia Main Food Group, which owns Fresh St. Market. There’s not a lot of signage either: Fresh St. Market wants to minimize clutter “and let the produce speak for itself,” adds Usher.

Growing greens Another trend is grocers growing their own produce, adding an element of theatre as well as sustainability to stores. Kroger is partnering with Infarm, a German urban farming network to bring modular living-produce farms to 15 of its QFC stores in Washington State. The in-store farms, which use a hydroponic farming method, grow varieties of lettuce and herbs. The plants are stacked vertically in glass cases in a controlled environment, which is monitored by Infarm through a cloudbased platform. When mature, the living plants are sold to customers. (At press time, Empire Company also announced a partnership with Infarm to bring the in-store farming platform to select Sobeys, Safeway and Thirfty Foods stores in seven Canadian cities.) The Avril Supermarché Santé in Laval, Que. features a vertical farming platform that can grow a variety of organic micro-greens on site all year round. The greens are for sale at the store and used at the in-house restaurant. And in Turin, Italy, French supermarket chain Auchan is trialling the installation of a 7-metre by 4-metre greenhouse in the produce section, with an external self-service counter. The fresh herbs, lettuce and micro-vegetables such as arugula and radish are grown by aeroponics: the roots are exposed and misted with a nutrient solution.

merchandised loose in traditional pallets, while berries and soft fruits are available on compostable pulp containers. Paper produce bags are used in place of plastic ones, and reusable produce bags are available for heavier items like potatoes. As part of the trial, the retailer has brought trained greengrocers to the shop floor to encourage customers to choose the loose produce, help them pick and weigh it, and give advice on how best to minimize food waste at home. Fresh St. Market is also trying to take more plastic out of the produce department. The retailer is working proactively with suppliers and packers to develop more sustainable packaging materials. “This is very important to us and we are experiencing increasing buy-in from the suppliers we work with and positive feedback from the consumer,” says Usher.

Pairing up produce Cross-merchandising isn’t new, but it’s becoming increasingly important to help busy consumers find meal solutions. Longo’s, known for its super-fresh seasonal produce, pairs up items from within the produce department and from other departments. For example, fresh store-made mozzarella is paired with tomatoes and basil, cheese is displayed with grapes, and olive oil and balsamic vinegar


Letting (fruits and veggies) loose Also on the sustainability front, grocers are trying to take the plastic out of the produce department. In the United Kingdom, Marks & Spencer is trialling a reduced-plastic produce department at its Tolworth store in southwest London. The retailer has launched more than 90 lines of loose fruit and vegetables completely free of plastic packaging. Most selections are

The downtown Vancouver Fresh St. Market calls its produce section "Welcome to our Garden in the City"

March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer


PRODUCE Top merchandising tips

Fresh produce has a household penetration of close to 100%, so driving growth isn’t about finding more buyers, according to FMI’s The Power of Produce 2020 report. It’s about increasing spend per buyer, spend per trip and buying fre­ quency. Rick Stein, vice-president of fresh at FMI, shares three ways retailers can do just that.

•  Convenience-driven sol­

are displayed near salad ingredients. “Most of our guests are time-starved, so our solution-based merchandising helps them take the thinking out of shopping,” says Mimmo Franzone, director, produce and floral at Longo's, which has 35 locations in and around the Toronto area. With new food trends always on the horizon, it’s smart for retailers to think beyond individual departments. IRI’s Parker notes that a huge trend right now is people blending their meats with vegetables—for example, adding mushrooms to beef burgers—to boost the flavour and nutritional value (and cut back on meat consumption). “Is the produce department working with the meat department to promote those types of options?” she questions. “That is just one example of how we’ve got to think beyond our own department to get more produce in the basket.”

Feeling the squeeze The juicing trend is taking off and grocers can quench consumers’ thirst—and squeeze more sales—by having juice and smoothie bars in or near the produce section. Andrew McFarlane, founder of Los Angeles-based juice bar consultancy Start A Juice Bar, says there are a couple of key ways in-store juice bars are appealing to consumers. “In grocery stores, because there is such a small distance between where the produce arrives and where it travels to be juiced, it creates the experience of a deeper level of freshness,” says McFarlane. There’s also the experiential element. “People love to witness how juice is made,” he says. “Just from an entertainment standpoint, they love to see something go from being a whole fruit or vegetable to a creative concoction that they can drink immediately.” For retailers, one big benefit is they can reduce spoilage by using up fruit and veggies that are close


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

to their expiration date. “It gives them another avenue to leverage inventory that they already have,” explains McFarlane. Beyond that, there’s brand strength. “If they want to be viewed as a quality and health specialist, the more specialty products they offer, the more they can position themselves against competitors.”

Lending knowledge While consumers are becoming more educated about new-to-them fruits and vegetables, there’s always going to be some who don’t know a jicama from a jackfruit. Education in the department is critical, as employees can help expand shoppers’ fruit and vegetable vocabulary, and teach them how to prepare certain produce items. “Your produce staff are probably the most important part of your produce section,” says Ron Lemaire, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA). “We encourage produce staff to be educated and engaged, and even when they’re done [stocking] the department, to be present and available to answer customers’ questions.” Product sampling, dietitians and information at point-of-sale all round out the in-store education piece. “Whether it’s talking about plant-based foods or showcasing a new product, really customize that message and drive it home,” says Lemaire. “You don’t have to make the produce department look like a yard sale, but you do need appropriate signage to educate the customer.”  CG


Walmart's produce departments are being redesigned to embody an "open market feel"

for more details. Creative utions are a way to delight merchandising, combined shoppers with visual appeal with an enticing array of and give them the timeproducts, will be key to saving solutions they seek. sustaining and growing the The share of households produce category. buying value-added •  Visual appeal will boost produce is 6%, so there’s unplanned buys. The Power ample room for retailers of Produce findings show to encourage greater that 83% of shoppers uptake of value-added who plan their produce produce. purchases before their trip •  Today’s shoppers want to also buy unplanned items, know more about how fresh and 58% of those shoppers produce is grown, and often attribute their pickup of look to in-store signage or unplanned items to eyeon-package information catching displays.

A Special Thanks To Our Gala Sponsors The Grocery Foundation and Kids Help Phone would like to thank the following sponsors for their ongoing support of the Night to Nurture Gala:

Platinum Sponsors ™

Corporate Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Beverage Sponsors

Food Sponsors

The industry comes together to help kids


decked out in their finest, more than


3,200 members of Canada’s grocery industry turned up in early February to attend the annual Night to Nurture Gala in downtown Toronto. Presented by The Grocery Foundation, the popular event raises crucial dollars to fund breakfast programs in Canadian schools as well as to support the work of Kids Help Phone. Shaun McKenna, executive director of the Foundation,




March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

1 Sports memorabilia and more in the silent auction  2 Emcee Howie Mandel entertains the crowd  3 Arkells weave their way through the crowd to take the stage  4 Time to give to two important causes: The Grocery Foundation and Kids Help Phone  5 Max Kerman of Arkells performs with “Dancing Queens”  6 Attendees walked the red carpet and were stopped for photos by the paparazzi  7 A 2020 Lexus NX 300 was up for grabs in the raffle!  8 Howie Mandel discusses the need to support the two causes with Shaun McKenna, executive director of The Grocery Foundation and Katherine Hay, president of Kids Help Phone  9 Pre-dinner reception  10 Ruffino Prosecco is poured for guests during the reception THE GROCERY FOUNDATION

says when all tallied, the evening will have raised close to $1.7 million, noting the event achieved its best year in sponsorships in the last 10 years. (The Gala marked its 40th anniversary last year.) “It is gratifying to see the collaboration that takes place each year between our industry’s retail and manufacturing leaders in support of such an important cause. The planning, the ticket sales, and the overall coordination of the Night to Nurture is a massive body of work,” says Tom Gunter, the Foundation’s chair. “What makes it all worthwhile is seeing the positive impact in supporting child nutrition and wellbeing through school breakfast programs and Kids Help Phone.” Contributing to the success of the 2020 Gala were rousing performances from comedian Howie Mandel and Hamilton, Ont. rock band Arkells. Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a silent auction and buy raffle tickets for a chance to win a Lexus, all adding to the fundraising effort.

Night to Nu





urture 2020




Isn’t that special!

Plant-based meats aren’t the only plants capable of generating buzz at the grocery store. Specialty items have long brought excitement to the produce department, so we asked the experts: what’s hot in specialty produce right now? By Shellee Fitzgerald BLACK LIMES While black limes certainly wouldn’t win any beauty contests, they are winning over chefs, according to a recent article on where the trendy citrus is described as resembling “Ping-Pong balls that have been marinated in mud.” In reality, black limes are created by taking a small variety lime, boiling it in salt water and then drying it out (in the sun or an oven). Long used in Middle Eastern cuisine, black limes are gaining wider popularity by chefs who are using them (either whole or ground) to impart a sour, tangy note to dishes and also by bartenders who are finding creative ways to use the limes in cocktails.

YELLOW PITAHAYAS (aka yellow dragon fruit)


SWEET POTATOES & YAMS (purple, Jamaican and Japanese)

ATEMOYAS Susan Leung, senior import and export manager at Fresh Direct Produce says to watch out for atemoyas. These heart-shaped tropical fruits have a green bumpy skin with creamy, custard-like juicy white flesh and are sweet enough to eat like a dessert. Atemoyas are a hybrid of the sugar apple and the cherimoya. These fruits are available from Brazil, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Florida and California.

March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

“We see increased offerings and consumption of a wider variety of sweet potatoes and yams,” says Davis Yung, president of Fresh Direct Produce. These include purple sweet potatoes from Hawaii and Vietnam, Jamaican yams and Japanese sweet potatoes. “They all offer a unique texture or flavour,” says Yung, noting these root veggies can be boiled, mashed, roasted, baked or fried, making them one of the most versatile produce items. As a bonus, they’re rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre.

CHARENTAIS MELONS “Charentais melons have gained great distribution in the last year as they are now available year-round,” says Robert Schueller, director of public relations at Melissa’s/World Variety Produce in Los Angeles. This small, orange-flesh melon is distinct for packing a lot of flavour and emitting a flowery aroma. Schueller says Charentais melons are especially popular in the fall to spring period, when other good-tasting melons are out of season.


This brilliantly coloured fruit “has been a really popular item lately,” says Samantha Chan, a marketing and food safety expert at Van-Whole Produce in Vancouver. Chan describes this cactus fruit as being a lot sweeter and juicier than the more familiar red-skinned dragon fruit. It’s also high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Sourced from Ecuador and Vietnam, she says the yellow pitahaya has become a staple in Vancouver’s Asian markets where they’re often sold by the case when on promotion.




GET 50% OFF YOUR BADGE! With the promo code 2020SIALCG

Montreal APRIL 15-17, 2020 PALAIS DES CONGRES - MONTREAL SIAL, a subsidiary of Comexposium Group



MAY 26- 27 2020

I N R E TA I L I N G AWA R DS MAY 26, 2020


2 7 T H


MAY 27, 2020



The challenge of PRODUCE By Shellee Fitzgerald what are the big issues confronting grocers in

their produce departments? Labour/training? Getting your hands on a consistent supply of quality product? Reassuring shoppers after the umpteenth food recall? Shrink? How to nudge Canadians into eating (and buying) more fruit and veggies? Competition? All of the above? No question, the business of selling produce at retail is no walk in the park, as Canadian Grocer’s inaugural Produce Operations Survey reveals. Conducted earlier this year, our survey asked retailers across the country about what’s going on in their produce departments. The good news is that more than half (59%) reported their produce sales had increased in the last six months of 2019 and 64% are optimistic they’ll see a bump in their produce sales in 2020. But there are challenges, and plenty of them in this crucial section of the store. Let’s take a look at a few of the pain points revealed by the survey and how they’re being tackled: Waste/Shrink—“Shrink, that’s the killer of produce departments,” says Mike Medwid, a longtime produce manager at Askew’s Foods in British Columbia. Indeed, about three-quarters of survey respondents indicated some level of concern regarding shrink-related loss—shrink being the difference between what is delivered to the store and what actually gets sold—with 26% reporting it to be a “very serious” issue and 60% reporting that the shrink rate in their produce department was unchanged from the previous year. Retailers have long contended with shrink, especially in fresh departments filled with highly perishable product, and have devised strategies for minimizing it such as first-in first-out rotation, competitively pricing items and reducing prices early enough so they

continue to turn. At Calgary Co-op, produce category director Lawrence Wright says such efforts are effective, but require vigilance. “We’re constantly reviewing it. We work with the teams on a weekly basis and give them action items to hit as we’re all involved in overseeing where shrink is coming from; it’s having an impact.” Other efforts retailers are taking to tackle produce shrink and waste revealed by the survey: selling items off as “Ugly” produce (33%), donation to food banks (42%) and using as ingredients in prepared foods (49%). In January, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) launched an Online Waste Efficiency Tool (free for its members) to address the problem of waste by helping identify exactly where the challenges are. “If [retailers are] seeing shrink in their produce department, it could be due to storage, it could be due to product handling, but by going through the online tool they can identify where the problem is, find solutions and put a plan in place,” says CPMA president Ron Lemaire. CPMA says those businesses using the tool have improved their bottom line by about 10%. Labour—With a low unemployment rate and the rise of the gig economy with its flexible jobs, grocers continue to find competing for workers a big challenge. In fact, nearly 80% of survey respondents identified labour/recruitment costs in their produce departments as a serious issue with about the same (82%) seriously concerned about training of staff. And training in this section of the store is critical. “If you don’t have well-trained people, then obviously you’re not going to be as successful as you need to be,” says Wright, adding that at Calgary Co-op, courses in areas ranging from customer service to product knowledge are offered so staff at all levels are equipped with the tools they need to “be the best in their roles.” Of course, there’s the ongoing apprehension that once new recruits are trained they won’t hang around and all that time and money invested in the new employee is for naught. At Metro, Ian Leaf, category manager, produce, says having a collaborative work environment is key to keeping staff engaged. “We also know the importance of celebrating success,” he says, be it recognizing teams or individuals. “We want our store staff March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer


PRODUCE to know there are future opportunities available within the company.” It’s a strategy more and more retailers are embracing as they seek to convince employees that retail is a viable long-term career. Calgary Co-op’s Wright agrees. “They [team members] need to feel this isn’t the end of the road for them,” he says. “We provide numerous avenues for people wishing to take on more responsibility, or learn a new role or develop their skills.” Boosting consumption—According to a 2019 University of British Columbia study, Canadians’ fruit and vegetable consumption dropped 13% over an 11-year period and that’s a worry for folks selling produce. In fact, 40% of survey respondents

said “how to increase produce consumption” was a very serious concern. Although the new Canada’s Food Guide, released last year, calls for Canadians to eat “plenty” of fruit and vegetables, “a question for us as a sector is how do we make it easier for them [to eat more]?” says CPMA’s Lemaire. You can start, he says, by removing barriers to consumers buying produce by ensuring product is priced right (price being the No. 1 perceived barrier) and is of good quality, and by educating customers on handling and preparing the produce once they get it home so it isn’t wasted. And, by having eye-catching displays and leveraging signage to encourage cross-promotion, retailers can capture

On a scale of “not serious at all” to “extremely serious,” how would you rate the seriousness of the issues facing your produce department? NOT SERIOUS AT ALL




Quality of product Shrink/spoilage How to increase consumption Outbreaks/recalls Traceability (point of origin) Price perception of fresh produce Competition from other supermarkets * Competition from other channels Employee training Labour/recruitment costs Wholesale prices ** Produce department overhead * (Farmers markets, natural food stores, etc.)  ** (incl. energy costs, equipment)

Over the next 12 months do you plan to implement any policies reducing plastic packaging/waste in your produce department?  yes 73% no 27% SOURCE: CANADIAN GROCER


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

Compared to last year, is shrink more this year, less this year, or about the same as last year? MORE THIS YEAR LESS THIS YEAR ABOUT THE SAME AS LAST YEAR

15% 60%


What efforts are you making to reduce shrink/ food waste in the produce department?

impulse sales. “While produce is traditionally a planned purchase,” says Lemaire, “it’s also a significant impulse opportunity.” It’s also important to keep on top of food trends to ensure you’re meeting changing consumer demands. In this regard, Lemaire says “social media is your friend.” Indeed, tastes and preferences are always changing and paying close attention to what consumers want now is crucial for growing sales in all parts of the store. Produce is no exception. “Today’s customers are curious,” says Metro’s Leaf. “They want to try different flavours and combinations.” Askew’s Medwid agrees, noting organics and local are an important part of his department’s offer as that’s what his customers want. Convenience and specialty items are also an important part of the mix. “Offering variety and giving [customers] choices is hugely important,” he says. And let’s not forget the growing importance consumers are placing on sustainability. “Consumers are very focused, as we are, on trying to reduce their environmental impact,” says Calgary Co-op’s Wright. With plastic packaging waste in the spotlight, many retailers are seeking ways to curb the use of single-use plastics. In fact, 73% of survey respondents said they plan to implement policies aimed at reducing plastic packaging waste in their produce department over the next 12 months. “We’ve brought in reusable bags in produce and we’re looking to source packaging products that are recyclable, biodegradable and compostable, all the time to minimize our [environmental] impact,” says Wright. Although fraught with difficulties, produce departments are important to the success of most grocers, as it’s a store’s fresh offer that keeps customers coming back. “While it can be challenging,” says Metro’s Leaf, “part of my job that I enjoy so much is figuring out how we stay ahead of the trends to anticipate where we need to be tomorrow to meet our customers’ needs.”  CG




29% 12%


Projecting for the entire year 2020, do you expect same-store produce sales to increase, decrease or stay the same? INCREASE





For the six months ending December 2019, did your company’s total produce sales increase, decrease or stay the same?


42% 42%

32% 49%






SWEET. SMOKY. BOLD. Made with Canadian mustard seeds No artificial colours or flavours TRY NEW French’s Sweet & Smoky BBQ Mustard 325 mL

Get great recipe ideas at ® Reg. TM/MD The French’s Food Company LLC.


Products, store ops, customers, trends


Thrill of the grill A grocer’s guide to adding sizzle to the summer barbecue season GETTY IMAGES/FILO

By Michele Sponagle


ith the first hint of warm weather, Canadians will do two things: put on a pair of shorts (chilly knees be damned) and dust off their outdoor grills. We’re a country that is mad for barbecues. Ownership rates here are higher than they are in the United States, according to a study conducted by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. For grocers, the arrival of a new grilling season means oodles of opportunity to ignite sales across

many departments, from meat and veg to extras like BBQ utensils, paper plates, non-stick spray and the like.

Right on ’cue: Hot trends in grilling Consumers could be looking to change up their barbecue habits this season. “We see that consumers are more adventurous in what they grill,” says Leya Abramson, senior marketing manager at Pusateri’s in Toronto. ‘Barbecue’ is a big season for us in Canada and at Pusateri’s. Smoking and slow cooking are becoming March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer


AISLES more popular. Consumers are exploring different cuts of meats. Barbecue season is our opportunity to showcase higher-end cuts. Because we dry age our beef in a 28-day process, the best cuts to really promote tenderness are steaks and fillets.” Summer grilling also presents an opportunity to sell more items to complement what’s on the grill, she adds, like fresh, local produce. International flavours are as strong as ever, but new influences are coming from countries further afield on the culinary scene. Marinades and spices are giving consumers new ways to shake up their current repertoire of go-to meals, with new products paying homage to the culinary traditions of places like Peru, Ethiopia, Korea and Morocco. And grocers know well that plantbased products are becoming far more prevalent. “Veggie burgers and dogs are becoming a mainstay, but some companies are also exploring plantbased chicken, steak and fish options,” Abramson notes. Global investment firm UBS predicts worldwide sales for meat alternatives/plant-based foods will leap to US$85 billion by 2030, up from US$4.6 billion in 2018. That said, despite the buzz around these products, sales still represent just 1% of total retail meat sales, as reported by the non-profit group The Good Food Institute. In Canada, vegans and vegetarians represent less than 10% of the population, according to research from Dalhousie University. Grocers should take note that consumer attitudes toward barbecuing have evolved. “It’s not just about making dinner,” explains Ted Reader, chef, author and barbecue expert known as the “Godfather of the Grill.” “It’s about outdoor entertaining and a way to spend more time outdoors, eating and cooking together with family and friends. We have such a short window to barbecue in Canada—about four months—so we want to make the most of it.” That’s why he says Canadians are expanding their grill repertoire, buying smokers and charcoal grills in addition to their gas grills. With these new cooking toys, consumers will be looking more for cuts like beef brisket and pork shoulder, ideal for producing tender,


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

low-and-slow smoked meat. And they’ll want interesting marinades and spices to put on them, especially Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours. Reader also says grocers should stock plenty of cauliflower over the summer. “It’s versatile and ideal for grilling and roasting. What we’ll have less of are those extreme, fatty foods, like meat covered in strips of bacon.”

Hooked on classics “People are itching to get outside and start grilling,” says Andrew Flint, butcher at The Healthy Butcher in Toronto (two locations). In early May, his customers are already thinking about what they want to be barbecuing. “When they shop, they usually choose beef and chicken, our top sellers. They mix it up by buying a flattened chicken, chicken burgers, house-made sausages, pork ribs or lamb kabobs.” Education is a key component for getting consumers to wander away from the tried and true. The Healthy Butcher offers hands-on classes onsite to teach people how to break down a side of pork and cut up a whole chicken. “There’s more available than just rib-eye and tenderloin,” notes Flint. “We try to make meal planning really easy for customers. We ask what they’ve got in mind, how many people, budget and how much time they have. Often, they resort to familiar cuts instead of buying something new.” Research from Canada Beef backs up this tendency. Its data shows 83% of consumers buy the same cut of beef over and over again and that 51% stay away from unfamiliar cuts because they don’t know how to cook them. Being overwhelmed by a wealth of meat choices underscores the need to simplify consumers’ buying decisions through education. Canada Beef says only 31% of shoppers are aware of the three main steak types—grilling, marinating and simmering. Derrick Ash, Canada Beef’s senior manager of business development and technical services, says he would like to see retailers’ on-package labels include cooking instructions along with easy-to-understand icons. Meat department staff can suggest consumers download

• •

TOP-TIER BARBECUE SALES DRIVERS   Create a grilling destination in-store that brings together all the key products for a great barbecue to the centre of the store. Grillers currently shop multiple categories and multiple aisles of the store. A grilling destination inspires and encourages impulse buying for the consumer and helps drive basket size with less frequently purchased items—especially important during the stock-up period at the beginning of the summer and before long weekends. – Deborah Sharpe, McCormick   Get the staff involved in making your store a destination for all things barbecue. Challenge employees to create an eye-catching display for grilling season. Position it as a contest and encourage participation. – Derrick Ash, Canada Beef   Make it easy for customers to get barbecue essentials. The Healthy Butcher offers cottage packs that contain steaks, bacon, burgers and sausages. We find customers will buy them for themselves for their barbecue gatherings and as gifts to take to friends when visiting their cottages. We also have whole rib-eyes and burger boxes with a variety of burgers, including bison. – Andrew Flint, The Healthy Butcher   Endcaps always work great, but what would make it unique would be to merchandise the barbecue sauces with the produce, showing people how easy it is to convert a humble mushroom or cauliflower into a delicious summer meal. – Richa Gupta, Good Food For Good



Independent Retail Operators Program is a new point-of-purchase merchandising tool kit brought to you by Canada Beef and Canada Veal through partnership with Ketchum Manufacturing. IROP is a turn-key solution that clearly communicates your commitment to providing 100% local product to your customers. Developed by Canada Beef and Veal, we’re pleased to provide a FREE start-up kit. Point-of-Purchase (POP) is important! 70% of consumer shopping decisions are made at the retail shelf. Key benefits of POP marketing are: • Cost effective • Brand recognition

• Influences buying decision at the point-of-purchase

• Tailored message

• Boost impulse purchases

• Attention grabbing

• Increase sales

• Increase awareness & exposure

• Real-time results

Order your FREE starter IROP kit: contact Canada Beef at

AISLES Canada Beef’s Roundup app for expert advice on cut selection, recipes and preparation tips. “Grocers need to be a source of knowledge and inspiration,” says Ash. “Millennials, for example, are keen to recreate restaurant experiences at home, but they don’t know how.” “There’s a lot of room for Canadian grocers to innovate,” he adds. “Barbecuing is an event. There’s romance in firing up the grill—something you don’t get with turning on the oven. Barbecuing should not be a chore. Retailers can help make it fun.” Ash encourages grocers to differentiate themselves with signature programs. “Why just offer one or two different types of burger patties?” he asks. “Why not have a wide assortment of flavours? Really own it and become a destination for those who love to barbecue.” Meat is definitely not taking the summer off. Data from Statista shows more than 80% of Canadians eat all types of meat but they are consuming less. About 85% say they make at least one main meal without animal protein each month, according to a University of Guelph survey. For grocers, that’s an invitation to find a happy middle ground for omnivores by stocking appetizing plant/meat blends. Think housemade burgers that mix ground beef with legumes or mushrooms, or pork tenderloin stuffed with herbed quinoa.

Sauces, condiments and tasty extras With consumers increasingly looking for nutritional components in their food, new options in the condiment aisle are answering the call. “More and more Canadians are trying to add plant-based [options to their diets] while reducing processed carbs and sugars,” says Richa Gupta, founder, Good Food For Good. “The mass market is flooded with plantbased meat alternatives that tend to be highly processed. We want to show Canadians how they can have an absolutely delicious barbecue with real whole ingredients and no added sugars.” The company has launched organic ketchups (regular and spicy) sweetened with dates, along with barbecue sauces (regular and sweet and spicy) that have earned a place on the table as vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb options. Its organic cooking sauces, which can double as marinades for grilled foods, tap into international flavours with


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

three showcasing Indian classics (Tikka Masala, Coconut Curry and Butter Chicken) and two with Mexican flair (Taco and Spicy Taco). Meanwhile, McCormick Canada is feeling the heat with a spicy roster. It has introduced a new Sweet & Smoky BBQ Mustard from French’s, ideal for grilling, cooking, dipping, glazing or as a condiment. Its popular Frank’s Red Hot sauce now has a tangy Buffalo Wings flavour for extra kick. French’s Crunchy Toppers can elevate salads and burgers, and come in three SKUs: Jalapeno, Fried Onion and Dill Pickle. Consumers can also shake up their barbecue with Club House La Grille Maple Bacon Seasoning and Club House La Grille Montreal Steak Spice Seasoning. “Consumers enjoy discovering new twists for their everyday meals and are looking for unique flavours that they can’t easily create on their own,” says Deborah Sharpe, the company’s group marketing director. McCormick continues to do well with condiments featuring a healthy edge. Last year, French’s launched no sugar added and low-sodium ketchups. “We saw double-digit sales growth in the better-for-you ketchup segment in 2019,” she notes. Interestingly, the drive toward plant-based eating and meat alternatives is having an indirect influence on the success of condiments. “The highest barrier to consumption of these is that plant-based alternatives don’t taste as good as the foods they replace, said 67% of consumers surveyed [as per Mintel data from May 2019],” she explains—so to address this concern, condiments and flavour enhancers can step in and play a larger role in giving plant-based options broader appeal.

Great beginnings As customers focus on the main event (whatever masterpiece is planned for the grill), they’ll likely be looking for easy appetizers that can land on the table without a lot of fuss. Summer Fresh has a new solution with the launch of plantbased, gluten-free, vegan Nutty Dips in three flavours: Spicy Thai, Caramelized Onion and Queso-Style. They’re made with cauliflower and almonds for a creamy taste without dairy.

To warm up a crowd, consumers may choose to serve chicken wings—a little something before the mains arrive—but that can leave out the vegetarians and vegans. Toronto-based Wholly Veggie, makers of popular meatless burger alternatives, are bringing plant-based “wings” to the market, including Buffalo Cauliflower Wings and Ranch Cauliflower Wings.

Bun-derful news For many years, the bun section might have felt a tad, um, stale with few truly new innovations. That has changed with the introduction of new products. Just two years old, Toronto-based Unbun Foods is already experiencing rapid growth, thanks to its lineup of certified keto, grain-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly buns (including a vegan version), pizza crust (ideal for putting on the grill) and baguettes. Kathryn McIntosh, vice-president, marketing at Unbun, says the company will be expanding its offerings to include tortillas. They’re ideal for stuffing with everything from roasted veggies to chicken strips and allow consumers to stick to their chosen diet regimes even at summer barbecue time. U.S.-based Martin’s Potato Rolls has recently rolled out its hugely popular burger buns in stores in Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario. “We were getting many requests from Canadians who had tried them,” says Julie Martin, co-owner, social media manager and the granddaughter of Lois and Lloyd Martin who began selling the buns to Pennsylvania locals in 1955. While the pillowy-soft potato rolls were known stateside, they were new to many Canadians, prompting in-store sampling and social media awareness campaigns. “The rolls sell themselves once people taste them,” adds Martin. She says they are a natural fit for barbecues since the buns (also available in slider size) are sturdier than average buns. They won’t turn crumbly even when piled with saucy pulled pork. Standard sized buns have as much protein as an egg, courtesy of their high-protein wheat content, feeding the needs of customers looking for a nutrition boost—an underlying theme to the barbecue season of 2020.









Brewing up business Through smart merchandising and the right assortment, grocers can boost their beer, cider and “near beer” sales  By Carolyn Cooper as provincial liquor boards continue to

open up the sale of alcohol, consumers are enjoying the convenience of picking up their favourite tipple while they shop for food. Beer and cider are available at licensed grocers in a growing number of provinces (most recently New Brunswick) and brisk sales show consumers are indeed regularly adding alcohol to their shopping baskets. In fact, grocery is becoming an impor­ tant sales channel for many beer and cider breweries, especially independents. “Grocery is about 8% of our business overall, and growing rapidly,” says Jim Manz, vice-president, sales and key accounts for Ontario’s Waterloo Brewing. He says Waterloo’s “portfolio grew overall in grocery by 60% in 2019.” But while grocers are seeing strong beer sales, they’re also still figuring out how to maximize profits. “It’s a difficult issue,” says Espo Ariganello, store manager of one of Starsky Fine Foods’ three Ontario locations. “It’s expensive to carry beer due to the licensing fee and the labour costs—the certifications needed for staff, especially with staff turnover— so that cost burden, plus thefts and accidents, sometimes outweigh the benefits. We carry it for the convenience of our customers. It’s something that you have to bite the bullet on.” Although he says restrictions around sales make marketing a challenge,


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

offering customers the right mix is essential. “Our thinking is that if you do carry beer, it has to be well presented, it can’t be a shambles.” Starsky’s carries a lot of European beers, reflecting customers’ preferences, and Ariganello says selection is currently “at a comfortable level.” “It’s really about managing your inventory, making sure you’ve got your best-selling brands, and then managing their assortment,” agrees Manz. He also suggests arranging products by brewer rather than flavour, noting that brandloyal customers will look for the brewer first and the type of beer second. More beer is sold in Canada than any other alcoholic beverage—but while annual average beer sales growth was just 1% in 2018 according to Statistics Canada, sales of ciders, coolers and other refreshment beverages grew by 7.2%. “While beer isn’t going away, younger consumers show clear interest in new and different formats of alcoholic beverages,” says Joel Gregoire, Mintel’s associate director of food & drink, Canada. In addition, consumers aged 20 to 24 are more likely to agree that “beer’s flavour is too bitter,” according to Mintel’s Beer, Craft Beer and Ciders—Canada, February 2017 report. Fruit-flavoured beer and radlers (beer blended with juice) are among some of the notable current beer trends, says Gregoire, especially among consumers

aged 20 to 34, a group also more likely to drink cider. Manz says his company’s Seagram Cider did well at Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) outlets in 2019, and notes it will be a growing focus for grocery. “It’s got a great flavour profile—it’s all natural, gluten free, and made with Ontario apples—and we’re committed to working on innovation.” Waterloo Brewery also recently added a pineapple flavour to its popular line of 2.5-alc./vol. radlers made with real fruit juice such as grapefruit and raspberry, and is test marketing a strawberry rhubarb flavour. “Beverages that are lower alcohol and lower calories are certainly dominating the scene at the moment,” Manz says. He predicts we’ll see more innovation in the space, as well as lower-alcohol, lower-sugar cider. Mintel data shows “38% of Canadians claim they typically drink low-alcoholic beer, which rises to 48% among 20 to 34 year olds.” Healthier lifestyles, the keto diet, and alternatives like cannabis are just a few reasons consumers are looking for lower-alcohol, lower-calorie options. And, says Gregoire, “there’s a general consensus in the industry that younger consumers are drinking less alcohol.” Ted Fleming, owner and CEO of Partake Brewing, says his non-alcoholic beer brand has captured a much younger audience than he originally expected. Younger millennials, he says, “are saying we can make up our own minds about what is fun and socially acceptable.” Fleming expects over half of Partake’s sales in 2020 will be through grocery, as the brand continues to be picked up by the major banners. For grocers, one big upside of non-alcoholic beer is that it can be sold in every province. And because there are no rules around merchandising, grocers can get more creative with displays, offer samples, and cross-merchandise with other departments. Partake offers four varieties (each 10 calories per can), and this fall will offer its Red variety to grocery. Fleming says the company will launch a radler and a gose (a light, sour beer) just in time for summer merchandising. “We’re now working with grocers on activities, like an outside beer garden, that highlight the fact that not only does our product taste great, but you can have Partake in situations where you can’t, or don’t want to, have alcohol.”



Nestled in the heart of Muskoka, Ontario, Canada, Muskoka Brewery handcrafts premium beers as unique and refreshing as the region they’re from.

1964 Muskoka Beach Rd., Bracebridge, Ontario FIND OUT MORE: MUSKOKABREWERY.COM


New on shelf 1  HIGH LINER FISH WINGS High Liner is adding a little spice to the frozen boxed fish section. The frozen seafood manufacturer has partnered with Frank’s Red Hot sauce to create High Liner Fish Wings. Made with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce Buffalo Wing Seasoning and 100% sustainable wild Alaska pollock, the fish wings are sold in 454-gram boxes. Easy to prepare, the wings are ready in as little as 18 minutes.

The latest products hitting shelves

2 1

2  MUSKOKA BREWERY KEY LIME PALE ALE Muskoka Brewery and Kawartha Dairy have come together in what they call a “quintessential cottage country collaboration.” Muskoka Brewery Key Lime Pie Pale Ale combines the flavour of beer with notes of creamy key lime and sweet graham cracker (with a 5.6% ABV). The brew’s launch coincided with the debut of Kawartha Dairy’s Key Lime Pie ice cream. 3  UNCLE BEN’S BRAND BEANS Uncle Ben’s is full of beans. The well-known rice brand is diversifying its product assortment with the introduction of microwaveable beans in four varieties: Southern Chili Style Beans (two bean chili style with green peppers), Zesty Mexican Style Beans (black beans with peppers and corn), New Orleans Style Beans (red kidney beans with green peppers) and Sweet & Smoky Flavour (baked beans with onions and bacon). Each comes in a 227-mL BPA-free pouch. 4  RED BULL THE SUMMER EDITION WATERMELON Red Bull is injecting its classic energy drink with the flavour of summer. According to the company, new Red Bull The Summer Edition Watermelon “has an initial cool and crisp profile, which then blooms into a refreshing watermelon finish.” Available nationwide on April 1, the drinks come in multiple formats: 355 mL, 250 mL and 250-mL 4-packs. 5  SPROUD PLANT-BASED MILK ALTERNATIVE Developed in Sweden, Sproud is a pea protein-based beverage aimed at consumers seeking a sustainable alternative to dairy milk. The drink is becoming increasingly popular in Sweden and across Europe, according to the company, and it’s about to launch in the United States and Canada in four varieties: Original, Unsweetened, Chocolate and Barista (a professional formula developed for and by baristas), all in 1-litre packages.  CG


March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer

3 5 4

CHECKING OUT George Condon



Grocers should be extra cautious when using social media to avoid pitfalls

AS MORE GROCERS turn to social media to promote their stores, advertise upcoming events and talk about popular products on such sites as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, they would be wise to use caution and make certain there’s nothing in their posts that could be misinterpreted. Tim Hortons recently learned this the hard way when a Tweet backfired spectacularly. Tim Hortons clearly was enthusiastic about the potential move to Canada by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and tweeted the following: “No pressure, Meghan and Harry, but if you do choose to move to Canada, free coffee for life. Think about it.” Twitter users, according to the Huffington Post, jumped in to point out how inappropriate was the offer to one of the world’s most privileged couples, especially in view of Tim Hortons’ recent history of labour disputes. Said one Twitter user: “They can afford to buy the company. Your employees can’t afford rent.” And another: “Um … You have employees who have to go to the food bank

to put food on the table and you want to offer an already incredibly wealthy family this perk.” One more: “You’re allowing tables and chairs to be removed from stores so paying patrons cannot sit and you’re offering royalty free coffee? Take that thought and set up a homeless free coffee/water station with a sign on it that says ‘please help yourself to our restroom’.” Obviously, these were not the responses Tim Hortons was expecting. Tims is certainly not alone in making such a blunder. And while the fast pace of social media posting has made these kinds of gaffes a more frequent occurrence, history is full of ill-conceived communications and marketing schemes. Companies unintentionally have caused themselves waves of controversy and backlash by overlooking or ignoring faulty creative over the years. Malaysian Airlines, for instance, launched a contest asking its passengers to share their “bucket list” ambitions not long after the tragic crashes of two of its flights (MH17 and MH370) in 2014.

The airline failed to connect the disasters with the connotations of death—a bucket list, of course, means things you want to do before you die. Another example: the CEO of LifeLock was so confident about his company’s identity fraud protection software that he featured his own social security number on its website and billboards. This backfired big time when the CEO’s identity was stolen 13 times and loans were taken out in his name without his knowledge. Not limited to social media are all the infamous translation errors that became unintentionally hilarious. For instance, Coca-Cola’s name, when first marketed in China, was sometimes translated as “Bite the Wax Tadpole.” Coors’ slogan “Turn It Loose” was translated into Spanish, but in that language it’s a colloquial term for having diarrhea. Ford messed up when marketing the Pinto in Brazil because in Brazilian Portuguese, pinto means “tiny male genitals.” KFC left Chinese consumers wondering when “finger licking good” was translated as “eat your fingers off.” And Mercedes-Benz made a big-time faux pas when it entered the Chinese market under the brand name “Bensi,” which means “rush to die.” Many of these were a part of larger marketing campaigns or branding initiatives that would surely have had time for thoughtful vetting, and yet they still made big errors. Social media’s instantaneous nature has made these kinds of blunders more likely than ever. So many Twitter or Facebook posts are made in the spur of the moment, with little thought to possible interpretations. So, grocers, if you’re going to use social media for marketing and promotions, take a few minutes to make certain your post has been carefully vetted for any possible misunderstandings, poor translations or unintentionally offensive ideas. There’s nothing worse than embarrassing your brand or accidentally angering your customers!  CG

George Condon is Canadian Grocer’s consulting editor. He’s based in Toronto.

March/April 2020 Canadian Grocer


the choice is clear 80 CALORIES & 2 GRAMS OF CARBS* le 473mL ca ng



*per 341mL serving.





to Ontario Grocery 25



@SLEEMANBEER SLEEMAN.CA Must be legal drinking age. Please drink responsibly.

2 D,


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.