Canadian Grocer May 2022

Page 1

Taking action on DE&I • Beefing up meat sales • Grand Prix finalists

MAY 2022



5 trends shaping grocery store environments



May 2022 || Volume 136 - Number 3


Cover Story


5 || Front Desk People 6 || The Buzz

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

25 Five ways grocers are shaking up their spaces today and what the store of tomorrow might look like

8 || Claudia Poulin & Dominic Dubé

How Evive’s founders turned a kitchen smoothie hack into a thriving business

Ideas 11 || Psychological safety at work

New adp survey reveals how valued and comfortable workers are feeling

12 || Extending healthcare for trans employees

One grocer’s new benefits plan provides extensive gender affirmation coverage

13 || Skip Express Lane’s mission


VP Steve Lee on how the company is delivering a better grocery service


14 || Don’t let it go to waste


How rescuing surplus food can be both a social and financial benefit


16 || Best in show

Retailers share their top picks from Grocery & Specialty Food West

17 || Q&A with Teresa Spinelli

The specialty grocer on why it’s important to always put people first

19 || Upcycled Certified comes to Canada

New seal helps shoppers identify upcycled ingredients and products

Aisles 47 || Making ends meat

To stretch dollars, Canadians are changing-up their protein purchases

55 || A growing appetite for cheese Experts “whey” in on the state of fromage in Canada

59 || Hot sauce: Four things to know


DE&I: PUTTING POLICY INTO ACTION 31 While a work in progress, grocers are taking steps to make both workplaces and store shelves more diverse and inclusive TOP SHELF 35 Meet the contenders of the 29th Annual Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards

What’s new with this fiery condiment?

60 || New on shelf

The latest products hitting shelves

Follow us on

Express Lane 62 || Taking the pulse of retailers


Deloitte’s Marty Weintraub on what issues are preoccuping retailers

@CanadianGrocerMagazine     Canadian Grocer Magazine




November 21, 2022 Fairmont Royal York • toronto Check out our website for more information!


Front desk PUBLISHER

Vanessa Peters


Shellee Fitzgerald


Christine Hogg


Kristin Laird



Josephine Woertman


Michael Kimpton


Donna Kerry


Craig Lowes

Showing employees you value them, is more important than ever


Megan Judkins


Lina Trunina


Valerie White


Katherine Frederick


Karishma Rajani

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I certainly don’t have to tell any of you that grocery is a people business. Ask ask any leader what they like most about working in grocery and they’ll likely tell you it’s the people. And they’ll add that it’s people who determine the success or failure of a business. With Canada in the grips of a labour shortage—and one that isn’t going away anytime soon—it has become crucial for businesses to do what they can keep their good people and attract new talent. In this issue, we talk to Deloitte’s Marty Weintraub about his firm’s 2022 Canadian Retail Outlook. The report’s aim was to determine the issues most likely to preoccupy retailers over the next 12 months. It’s no surprise that the “war for talent” ranks high among them. Weintraub says talent “disproportionately” is a challenge for grocers who require high staffing levels to operate their stores. “That’s a lot of people to have to hire, retain, keep busy and happy.” (read more on page 62) We also bring you the stories of two grocers that are doing right by their employees. Italian Centre Shop’s Teresa Spinelli explains her “people first” philosophy and how staff at her five Alberta stores are treated like family (page 17). And Neil Kudrinko, a grocer who already enjoys strong staff retention at his Westport, Ont., store, has gone further to support trans/ non-binary employees by introducing a new benefits plan that provides extensive gender affirmation coverage (page 12).

Staying on the subject of people, writer Rosalind Stefanac checks in on the progress Canada’s grocers are making to create workplaces that are more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Beyond workplaces, she looks at how much traction supplier diversity is gaining at Canada’s grocery stores (page 31). On that note, if your company is taking action to make a positive impact on issues like diversity and inclusion, sustainability, supporting employees, or community service, there’s still time to shout about it by submitting a nomination for Canadian Grocer’s Impact Awards. Visit cgimpact­ by May 30 to nominate! CG

Shellee Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief

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 four times a week. Visit to subscribe May 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


The Buzz

The latest news in the grocery biz


Next year, Walmart will open a new Supercentre in Montreal with many sustainable features

OPENINGS WALMART CANADA has announced plans to open a state-of-the art Supercentre in Montreal next year that will have a “special focus on sustainability.” With a price tag of $20 million, the 140,000-sq.-ft. store at Marché Central will feature a green roof, LED lighting with advanced controls throughout the store, ultra-low-flow lavatories and natural refrigerants for store refrigeration with a transcritical C02 system. Cyrille Ballereau, the retailer’s regional vice president for Quebec, said in a release that the sustainability features were being implemented because “Walmart’s goal is to make as light a footprint on the planet as we can.”

The team from 49th Parallel Grocery, Ladysmith with The Arnold Rands Heritage Award

At its Grocery & Specialty Food West show in April, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) presented the 2021 CANADIAN INDEPENDENT GROCER OF THE YEAR AWARDS to some of the country’s finest retailers. The awards are presented to outstanding independent grocers in four categories: large surface, medium surface, small surface, and specialty. Each store was evaluated on such things as retail excellence, customer service, merchandising and community involvement. The National Gold Award winners are: SAVE-ON-FOODS—Scottsdale Centre, Delta, B.C. (in the large surface category); LONGO’S —Liberty Village, Toronto, Ont. (medium surface); URBAN FARE—Mount Royal, Calgary, Alta. (small surface); SUNRIPE SARNIA—Sarnia, Ont. (specialty category, David C. Parsons Award). 49TH PARALLEL GROCERY in Ladysmith, B.C. was also a big winner, taking home The Arnold Rands Heritage Award, which is presented to the year’s best privately owned, multi-generational store that has been in the same family for a least two generations and in the same community for 35 years. And, James Inglis, Doug Nakano and the team from BLIND BAY VILLAGE GROCER in Blind Bay, B.C. were recognized with the Hall of Fame Award. Sunripe Sarnia with the David C. Parsons Award

News to share? Tell us about your openings, comings and goings, etc. by dropping a line to 6 CANADIAN GROCER

|| May 2022

Urban Fare Mount Royal, Calgary won best small surface store


The Longo’s team nab a win for the Liberty Village location in Toronto

over the position from Scott Banda who retired after 12 years in the role. Ryan joined FCL in 2013 and most recently served as its vice president, supply chain.


Longo’s has announced changes to its executive structure, which it says is part of an “ambitious 10-year plan that will require investments in people, technology, and processes.” To ensure quality customer service across all channels, chief operations officer Deb Craven is now also responsible for Longo’s e-commerce service, which operates under the Grocery Gateway brand, in addition to in-store operations. Joseph Longo, vice-president real estate and general counsel will focus on the company’s real estate strategy as it looks to enter new markets and solidify its position in existing markets. As chief experience officer, Alex Green will lead and execute the omnichannel experience, while overseeing integrated marketing communications and loyalty. KC Shendelman has been promoted to vice-president, marketing, and Mark Sheehan becomes the senior director e-commerce and digital. Longo’s has also made changes to its merchandising team: Mimmo Franzone and Joey Bernaudo have both been promoted to vice presidents of merchandising. Franzone will add grocery, dairy and frozen to his portfolio, while Bernaudo oversees the meat and seafood team. They will report to Mike Longo. Brian Langley, director meat and seafood is retiring at the end of May, after 32 years with the company. Roger St. Onge has been promoted to senior category manager, meat and seafood and George Maia has been promoted to director merchandising, grocery, dairy and frozen. Maple Leaf Foods has announced a “phased leadership transition” that will see CEO Michael McCain exit his role in 2023. Curtis Frank, currently president and COO at the company, will become CEO next spring. The company also announced that McCain has been appointed executive chair of the board. At Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL), Heather Ryan has been promoted to CEO. Ryan took

Deb Craven

Mimmo Franzone

Curtis Frank

Heather Ryan

At Lactalis Canada, Stephane Chatel is now vice president, quality assurance. Chatel has more than 30 years of food industry experience working at Danone Canada and Weston Foods. He replaces Jennifer Boyles who has retired. Ali Davies is now vice president of sales at United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI). Davies brings more than 20 years of CPG experience to the role, having racked up experience at Kraft Heinz Canada, Mars Canada/ Effem and most recently at The Clorox Company. Jess Spaulding has joined PepsiCo Foods Canada’s executive ranks as its new chief marketing officer. Prior to landing the role, Spaulding was on the marketing team at PepsiCo Foods North America in Plano, Tex.


SAVE THE DATE! Canadian Grocer’s Star Women in Grocery Awards is returning to a live event on Sept. 28, 2022 at The International Centre in Toronto. Visit for more information and make sure to check out our June/ July issue where we will be revealing this year’s winners.


Stephane Chatel

Md. VTS-42

Ali Davies

Md. VTS-46 Md. VTS-44

Jess Spaulding

Md. VTS-100


People SHAKING THINGS UP How the couple behind Evive turned a kitchen smoothie hack into a thriving business By Andrea Yu Photography by Chantale Lecours

Who you need to know

30 seconds with …


h e n C l au d i a P o u l i n switched to a plant-based diet, she started a morning routine of making smoothies for herself and her partner, Dominic Dubé. “They were very, very complex smoothies with 10 to 15 ingredients: superfoods, protein, veggies, fruits,” Dubé recalls. “At some point, we just had the idea of making it simpler by pre-making them in little cubes.” In the morning, Poulin and Dubé would pop the smoothie cubes in a shaker bottle or a mason jar, add plant-based milk or water, let the cubes melt, then shake it up. The frozen cubes were only meant to make Poulin and Dubé’s mornings easier. But they saw the potential for others to benefit from their clever hack. They started a Facebook page in May 2015 to sell smoothie cubes to friends, neighbours and locals in Sherbrooke, Que., where they were based. At the time, Poulin was pursuing a master’s degree in psychoeducation while Dubé had just finished a degree in mechanical engineering. Neither had intended to start a food business, but Dubé jumped in full-time to handle production and delivery. By the fall of 2015, they landed their first grocery client—a small independent market in Sherbrooke. Recognizing the opportunity to expand into more grocery stores, Poulin decided not to return to school, meaning they were both all-in on Evive. The risk they took paid off. By mid2016, Evive had about 25 grocery stores on board to sell their smoothie cubes and Poulin and Dubé had raised $200,000 from angel investors to buy more inventory, hire employees and scale up their operations. But Evive’s growth also came with its hurdles. Previously, Dubé was cutting slabs of frozen smoothie into cubes with a knife, but the technique was causing repeated injury to his wrists. They worked with a manufacturer to build a cutting machine, investing significant funds in its development, but the machine didn’t work. “We really [hit] a wall of ‘I don’t think we should continue doing this,” Dubé recalls. “We thought there was no way to scale it, and I was feeling tired.” The failure of the cutting machine led Dubé and Poulin to develop a better solution—recyclable trays that are easy to fill

and dispense. It was a turning point for the company’s growth and expansion. By the end of 2016, Evive’s smoothie trays were available in 120 stores in Quebec. In 2017, they launched in Ontario and hired their first employee. A year later, Dubé and Poulin got the chance to debut their product on Dragons’ Den, which brought lots of new traffic to their e-commerce store that launched in January 2018. Evive’s product lineup expanded around this time as well, growing from three core smoothie flavours to seven in total. A protein smoothie line was added in 2019. And in that same year, Dubé and Poulin attended a pivotal trade show in Ontario hosted by the Canadian Health Food Association. “We had an amazing reception and got confirmed to be in Farm Boy, Longo’s, and so many other natural food stores,” Dubé says. “It is, to this day, one of the best memories for Claudia and me.” Evive had just launched a line of frozen curries, sold in their signature trays, when the pandemic hit. But this didn’t slow Poulin and Dubé down. Grocery store sales were steady, and e-commerce grew with the demand for home delivery. They delayed their e-commerce launch into the U.S. market from March to August 2020. By March 2021, they made their U.S. retail debut, mostly in small chains of natural, independent grocers. They’re now available in 500 stores in the United States, mostly in the northeastern part of the country, in addition to 1,500 stores in Canada. Evive currently has 50 full-time staff helping to run the business. This year, Dubé and Poulin have plans to relaunch their frozen curries as meal kits, pairing the cubes with a side, like rice or quinoa. In May, Evive will also debut a new lineup of plant-based muffin bites—frozen cubes of dough that can be baked anytime. Dubé and Poulin had never planned to open a food business, but they’re both incredibly excited about what they’ve grown and the positive impact their products have. “Evive is about fuelling people’s well-being,” says Poulin. “For me, discovering my well-being started with eating healthy. [It] had a tremendous effect on me, mentally and physically, which was really fantastic. I wanted to share that with the rest of the world.” CG

CLAUDIA POULIN & DOMINIC DUBÉ What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

POULIN: Surround yourself with people who are better than you, not only within your team but your mentors as well. It helped us tremendously to have mentors that were there for us and who were also familiar with the food industry and business in general.

What’s your favourite product from Evive’s lineup?

POULIN: I love green smoothies. If it were up to me, we’d have a lot! Pure is my favourite. DUBÉ: A year ago, we launched a protein lineup with 18 grams of vegan protein. For me, it was perfect because I was already adding a scoop of protein to our [other] smoothies. The Mocha Cashew is my favourite.

What do you like to eat when you’re dining out?

DUBÉ: We love having plates that are supposed to be meat but are actually really, really good plantbased [versions]. For example, we were in Austin, Tex., recently, and there was a place that did vegan chicken and waffles. It was just unbelievable. I like discovering foods like this that surprise you.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

DUBÉ: Spending time with my family. And I love sports. Last year, my best friend and I set a goal to run 100 kilometres. So, I spent a crazy amount of time training. POULIN: Being with my son and my family. Doing yoga, meditating and being outdoors.



Call for nominations! Save-On-Foods We know Canada’s grocery Rehan's Your Independent Grocer industry is filled with examples of companies making a positive impact whether it is improving the planet, supporting employees or helping local communities. The second annual Canadian Grocer Impact Awards is now open for nominations to recognize initiatives Unilever Canada introduced by retailers, suppliers and Here are just some of our 2021 solution providers that are making winners. To see all the winners a meaningful difference in four visit: categories: Sobeys Sustainability (food waste, ethical sourcing, energy efficiency initiatives etc.) McCormick Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Supporting Employees Community Service/Local Impact/Giving Back Tell us about the amazing work being done at your company! Winners will Rabba Fine Foods be featured in the August issue of Mother Parkers Canadian Grocer.

• • • •

Submit your nominations at DEADLINE TO ENTER: MAY 30, 2022 Have questions? Please contact Shellee Fitzgerald, editor-in-chief, Canadian Grocer at





PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY AT WORK As employers put their diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into action, there’s a big focus on psychological safety—the belief that employees won’t be punished or humiliated for speaking up, sharing ideas, asking questions or making mistakes at work. To find out how employees themselves are feeling, ADP Canada polled more than 1,000 workers across the country this past March. The survey found that close to nine in 10 working Canadians are comfortable being themselves at work, and eight in 10 feel they can bring concerns to their manager or senior leadership team. In addition, most employees say they feel valued at work, with 82% of respondents noting their unique skills and talents are used and appreciated. “Having these indicators that most Canadians are feeling valued and comfortable at work, which reinforces the fact they feel psychologically safe, is really good news,” says Heather Haslam, vice-president of marketing at ADP. “We know psychological safety … is critical. It’s important because it has the ability to impact so many aspects of the workplace, including relationships, career advancement, and the bottom line.”

While there were some positive results, the findings show Canadian employers still have work to do. The data reveals racialized and Indigenous respondents are nearly twice as likely (36%) as white respondents (21%) to say they feel their colleagues may deliberately act in a way that undermines their efforts at work. This was particularly true for respondents in these groups who identified as men (40%). In addition, nearly half (49%) of racialized and Indigenous workers agreed with the statement that making a mistake at work will be held against them. Respondents in these groups were also more likely (35%) to say it is difficult to ask colleagues or a direct manager for help. How can employers create psychologically safe environments? Haslam says it’s important to recognize microaggressions—subtle or unintentional acts of discrimination—can occur in the workplace and psychologically impact employees, often leading to feelings of not being connected. “If [employers] understand microaggressions and those potentially unconscious biases, then they’re more likely to change them,” she says.—Rebecca Harris




Extending healthcare for trans employees Through Sun Life, one grocer’s new benefits plan provides extensive gender affirmation coverage

Neil Kudrinko


When Westport, Ont., grocer Neil Kudrinko made the decision to come out last year, he fretted about how the news would be received, worrying it would have a negative impact on the business that bears his name. His fears were unwarranted, as people were wholly accepting of one of the town’s best-known figures—someone who provides playby-play for the local Perth Blue Wings hockey team, and whose store, Kudrinko’s, is a mainstay of the small village of 700 people. “There’s been nothing but positive feedback and support from my community,” says the married father of two teenage sons. “Nobody would have known had I chose not to say anything, but my thought was that it was an opportunity to create a more open and safe community for others.” But as Kudrinko began making more contacts within the LGBTQ+ community, he also started learning more about some of the challenges they face, particularly around issues such as healthcare. That was particularly true around obtaining benefits coverage for specific issues such as gender reassignment surgery, where the cost for female to male surgery can range from $10,000 to $12,000, and the cost for male to female surgery can be as much as $18,000. The findings felt particularly pertinent to Kudrinko given the well-documented challenges faced by companies in attracting and retaining talent. “There’s no question that this new generation of workers are looking for progressive employers whose values match theirs,” he says. So, when it came time for Kudrinko to renew his employee benefits program, he asked his long-time broker to look into what kind of coverage was available that specifically addressed the needs of the trans/non-binary community. His new plan, which took effect on May 1, is currently offered through Sun Life Financial, which began offering gender affirmation coverage through extended health care plans in 2019. At the time, the

|| May 2022

company noted that while many medicare plans cover basic surgical procedures for transitioning, many don’t cover surgeries that feminize or masculinize someone’s features. “We all know if a person’s physical attributes do not correspond to how one feels, it has impacts on [their] physical and mental health,” says Marie-Chantal Côté, senior vice-president, group benefits at Sun Life. “As we were looking at our product suite and ensuring we meet the needs of all Canadians, it was important for us to embark on this journey.” Sun Life launched the extended health care plans in response to what Côté describes as “growing interest” from employers. “We have employers that have very diverse employee populations, and are looking to keep offering solutions that meet their diverse needs,” she says. Sun Life has seen a steady increase in the number of policies offering this coverage: 233% between March 2020 and March of this year. Recent Census Canada data shows that only 0.33% of Canadians over the age of 15 currently identify as transgender or non-binary, but Kudrinko says he’s aware of two former part-time employees who have transitioned since leaving the store. “Employees and businesspeople might think ‘I’ll never have anybody [requiring that type of coverage].’ But I run a grocery store in a village of 700 people. We weren’t actively going out trying to recruit people we thought were members of the LGBTQ+ community, but it just so happened we ended up with two employees that I know were trans,” he says. “Had they stayed as full-time employees, the support would have been there.” Kudrinko prides himself on employee retention, with many of his 20 full-time employees having been with the store for many years. Offering programs such as these, particularly when complemented by a fair compensation package, go a long way to ensuring that employees stay with the company, he says. “It’s not just that I’ve added benefits for trans people. I think it’s about equity in our healthcare system, and addressing a gap in the coverage, which is what benefits are supposed to do. It’s a signal to the queer community who are my customers and potential customers, saying ‘You’re welcome here, and we hope you’ll join us.’”


By Chris Powell


Skip Express Lane’s sustainable mission

VP Steve Lee on the company’s ambition to build a better grocery delivery service By David Brown While many Canadians came to know SkipTheDishes as one of the more popular restaurant delivery apps during the pandemic, the company expanded its business late last year to include grocery delivery. Skip Express Lane offers between 1,500 and 2,000 grocery products sourced from a network of microfulfilment centres and delivered in 25 minutes or less. It’s what Skip Express Lane vice-president Steve Lee calls “instant gratification delivery.” Right now, there are 11 Skip Express Lane locations across eight cities in four provinces. By the end of the summer the company plans to have 38 microfulfilment centres, which will service about 70% of addressable customers. That convenience and extensive selection makes Skip Express Lane different than the competition, says Lee. But, it was also built with another key differentiator: a more sustainable model. Canadian Grocer recently spoke with Lee about how, and why, Skip has built a more environmentally-friendly option for Canadian grocery shoppers.

What makes Skip Express Lane a more sustainable grocery delivery model?


It’s really attributed to the efficiencies that we get from our real estate … and how we move products. If you think about traditional grocery, it generally requires a larger footprint because the customer-­ facing storefront requires high-energy consumption to display and sell the product. For example, you generally need to ensure customers can reach for products, so the maximum height you could display would be about six to seven feet. But in our environment of microfulfilment, we actually work with cubic volumes instead of square feet … we generally require only about one square foot per SKU, with the right height. Every inch of the space is used to maximum efficiency, which brings down the overall energy consumption for the site.

So it’s about using the space vertically?

Exactly. And because we’re a fulfilment centre and warehouse at the same time, we don’t need

warehouses for products to be stored and then transported by vehicles to the sales floor. It’s similar to IKEA where the sales floor is their warehouse floor, and with this, we don’t have to put vehicles on the road from site to site.

What can you tell me about packaging?

We’re looking into fully biodegradable and compostable when it comes to some packaging; [for instance] the produce bags … we don’t even want that to go to recycling. Whether recyclable or not, I just don’t like creating waste. [We want] a produce bag that’s compostable. The beauty of quick commerce is I don’t need elaborate packaging to sell the product, and the benefit of delivering something in 15 to 20 minutes is that I don’t need to have extensive Styrofoam to protect the product from cold or hot because we get there so fast.

Do you know if customers will be more apt to shop with you because of these things?

I think today’s generation is more cognizant about the environment, and I firmly believe the brand they choose has to resonate with the values they have. I think it’s more than just providing product. I think it’s a social responsibility that every retailer has to preserve the planet, but at the same time, I firmly believe it is a competitive advantage.

You used the term “instant gratification.” Isn’t that inherently bad for the environment? Isn’t having three or four deliveries a week worse than customers making one trip to the store per week?

When we look at consumer behaviours in terms of how this type of service is used, it often becomes complementary to their existing grocery schedule. Ideally, we’d be able to make a single trip to the grocery store and be done for the week, but I think we’ve all needed to grab a few extra things beyond that. Skip Express Lane then becomes a more efficient choice and more environmentally friendly when you compare it to someone needing to visit a store, or multiple stores, a few additional times a week. It also ensures that people aren’t idling in their cars waiting for their groceries if they choose a “pick-up” option. We also like to look at our impact on the environment holistically and understand how the other eco-conscious aspects of Skip Express Lane compare to a traditional grocery store, so delivery itself is just one piece of a much larger picture.

How important was this to you personally to make sure this was the model you were working with?

I’ve always had a keen interest in sustainability and how we do business, because we have one chance to make it right for the planet. But it really changed a lot when I started having kids. I want to make sure that I—as a parent—actually leave behind a planet that they could preserve and enjoy as much as I did.




DON’T LET IT GO TO WASTE When perfectly edible food is thrown out because it’s cosmetically imperfect or is past its best before date, it’s a big waste of the natural resources, labour and energy that went into producing and getting the product to shelf. But that is not all that is being wasted. An opportunity is also being thrown away that would strengthen the financials of the food industry, including retailers, while helping those facing issues of food insecurity in Canada and around the world. That is the conclusion of Wasted Opportunity, the newest report in a collaboration between food rescue organization Second Harvest and Value Chain Management International (VCMI). The two organizations spent a year conducting research on the problem of food waste in the industry. Their findings are shared across three reports. The first, The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste, was released in 2019 and revealed the food industry to be responsible for almost nine of the 11.2 metric tons of food unnecessarily lost or wasted every year. It estimated the value of this food at $49 billion. The second report, Canada’s Invisible Network, was shared last year and counted the number of non-profits providing food to Canadians at more than 61,000—four times the number of grocery stores in the country. This illustrated the massive need for food to be provided at no or low cost to vulnerable populations. Wasted Opportunity quantifies the gap between how much surplus food the industry donates and the human need. Of the edible product left as surplus by the food industry, only 4% of it gets donated and redistributed for human 14 CANADIAN GROCER

|| May 2022

consumption. Meanwhile, an Angus Reid poll found almost 60% of families in Canada are struggling to put food on the table because of financial constraints. The poll was conducted in January 2022, as inflation was soaring. Speaking about the disparity in April, Second Harvest CEO Lori Nikkel says it boils down to the industry’s perception of surplus food as being a “budget item,” or a necessary cost of doing business. “The likelihood of waste occurs when there is no appreciable financial benefit,” she says. “Canada’s food industry makes profits from production, distribution and the sale of food. It is natural for industry stakeholders to view the donation of surplus food as less important to their commercial interests.” To change that, Wasted Opportunity calls for the government to incentivize food donations with tax credits. In the U.S., businesses, including retailers, can deduct up to 15% of their taxable income for food donations. The deduction is based on the lesser of either twice the value of the donated food, or the value of the donated food plus onehalf of the food’s expected profit margin. But Canada has no such tax relief, which the study says would shift the industry’s perception of surplus food towards being a source of both societal and financial good. During the height of the pandemic, the federal government created the Surplus Food Rescue program. It provided $50 million in funding for non-profits to purchase surplus food at wholesale cost or less from processors and producers

(grocers were excluded, however). But the program was only a temporary measure. “Businesses’ willingness to give changed immediately after the program ended, because they had no financial incentive to donate,” says Martin Gooch, CEO of VCMI. Tax incentives, while simultaneously increasing disposal fees to landfill, would change the math. There are additional financial benefits to keeping food out of landfill, given the rotting of it spews methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. Donations can boost “social capital,” not to mention financial market capital. That is because of the consumer and investor attention on what corporations are doing about climate change. As Wasted Opportunity points out, “reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a key element of corporate social responsibility metrics, which are important to institutional and private investors. In turn, this impacts share prices and consumer purchasing habits.” Gooch says BMO Wealth Management has been measuring grocers Loblaw, Metro and Empire on their “ESG impacts.” And in a 2022 report shared with him, investors in Loblaw, for instance, ranked “food waste” as “very high” in importance, ahead of impacts like “local sourcing” (“high”) and “water“(“moderate”). “It shows the importance of reducing food waste to investment decisions for the major grocers,” says Gooch. “They are now looking at their vendor base to meet their ESG commitments, making it both an issue for publicly-owned and private companies.”


Rescuing surplus edible food can be both a social and financial benefit, says report By Chris Daniels

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From new plant-based items to indulgent European confections and bold functional beverages, innovation was on full display at the recent Grocery & Specialty Food West show in Vancouver. But don’t take our word for it; here, we’ve rounded up a few retailers to get their take on what trends and products stood out.

alike to get behind these innovations and put them in front of our customers.

Most interesting products at the show? One product that stood out for me from Houweling’s Group was their extensive line of live herb and lettuce plants that live and grow at room temperature. The breadth of the selection was very appealing, as well as their ability to supply year round. The lineup from Nutjar was very interesting in that they have taken the basics of nut butters and really taken taste and texture to the next level. They have done this without compromising with additives. Very impressive product. What trends stood out? A few of the trends that stood out to me was the move to sustainable packaging of CPG products and the increased availability of sustainable packaging options for in-store usage. I also saw a lot of innovation on natural packaged foods, with minimum processing as part of the value proposition. I feel like these are areas of our business that will move from a trend into the norm of our industry in the coming years. What products will resonate with your customers? Any of the products I mentioned above I believe are what customers are looking for today and tomorrow. Customers are wanting to support natural products with sustainable packaging, so it is critical for both the supplier community and retailers 16 CANADIAN GROCER

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JASON VESELY Supervisor, Westlock Sobeys Most interesting product? The Fan Tasty line of baking mixes carried by Tree of Life was one of the products that stood out the most. They’re health-based baked goods that taste just like the real thing and will attract more than the health-focused customer.

ERIN HIGDON VP at Atlantic Grocery Distributors What trends stood out to you from the show floor? New (to me) tasty offerings in plant-based offerings were a wonderful find. They’re not yet available on the East Coast. We’ll be watching for their entry to the Newfoundland marketplace. What products will resonate with your customers? It was great to see offerings of sustainable, compostable packaging at the show. Product offerings to reduce our carbon footprint and environmental impact willresonate with environmentally-conscious Canadians. Any surprises at the show? After a lengthy hiatus [due to COVID] to see our community together again sharing new products, information and ideas was inspiring.

What trends stood out? Health conscious products being placed in a conventional offering. The progression of how these types of products have made their way from a health food customer to a mainstream customer makes perfect sense. What products will resonate with your customers? COVID made people cook again, but cooking needs to be simplified or expedited for some. Throughout the show there was a great offering of not only loose ingredients but value-added items to make the sometimes daunting task of cooking easier. These types of products will resonate with our customers and their busy lives. Did any stories stand out from the show floor? Not necessarily one story, but the amount of new startups that have emerged even through COVID is incredible. I believe it shows the strength of the industry.


GIANCARLO TRIMARCHI Partner, Vince’s Market

Any surprises? The energy at the show was amazing. There was definitely a buzz and excitement that I have not felt before at a trade show. Definitely a little of ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ tied in with the fact we really did work together so well as an industry during such a challenging period.



Putting people first Teresa Spinelli on always doing right by staff and customers By Rebecca Harris

What are some other ways you keep morale up with your staff?

We’re like a family. If you’ve got 10 kids and you can’t feed 10 kids, do you get rid of the 10th kid? No, you eat a little bit less so the 10th kid eats. We very much live that here. For example, there was an employee at our Southside store who was working part-time hours and she had lost her other job. We would have done our best to give her more hours, but she never came to us. She just told her co-worker and he gave her his hours, which is pretty amazing. We take care of each other.

How do you make sure your stores stand out from the crowd?

We’re not just a grocery store: we definitely are a cultural experience. What makes us different is our team. We are a gathering place and we’re a community. Our cashiers know our customers and they ask questions about their families. In turn, our customers are very connected to our staff. I’ll give you an example, which is another big highlight; during COVID, one of our customers who did curbside pickup called me one day. She said, ‘You guys are doing a really great job. I want to give you $5,000 to give to your staff in Little Italy.’ I talked to her for a long time to make sure she knew what she was doing. [She did, and the $5,000 was spread amongst staff.] That’s just one example of how we have a real sense of community happening.

TERESA SPINELLI’S father Frank, an Italian immigrant, opened the first Italian Centre Shop in Edmonton in 1959. Teresa took over the business after her father passed away in 2000. Today, Italian Centre Shop has five European-style markets in Edmonton and Calgary featuring its signature deli, with a huge selection of cheese, meats and antipasti; bakery; grocery; and café. Canadian Grocer spoke to Spinelli about putting people first, standing out from the crowd and what’s next for the specialty grocer.


Tell us what the last few years have been like.

I’m proud to say that although our cafés and wholesale department closed during COVID, we never laid anybody off: we just repurposed people. That added a lot of morale in our stores. It also helped our team learn different parts of the store that they otherwise wouldn’t have. For example, a barista would have never known how the warehouse works. In terms of new stores, just before COVID hit, we were in negotiations with a space in Calgary. With COVID and some other issues, it felt like it was a sign not to move forward. When things got better, we started negotiating again, so in the coming weeks, we hope to have things finalized.

What is your business philosophy?

People first. We always put people first and all decisions in our company are based on people—not just our internal staff, but also our external customers. We focus on what they need and how we can make their lives better. I always say, ‘we do whatever we can.’ Whether we’re making a decision on a product, or talking about adding a role or deleting a role, we always think about what’s best for the people in our organization as well as our customers.

Is it a good time to be an indie/specialty grocer?

I don’t know that there is ever a good time for anything. You do the best that you can. Like everything, it’s got its challenges and it’s got its strengths and then you have to decide what’s best for you and what makes that work. So, for me, it is a really good time. Every job has a struggle, every business has a struggle, and it’s just what you make it. So, it’s a good time to be wherever you choose to be.

What’s next for Italian Centre Shop?

We currently have five stores: four of them in Edmonton and one in Calgary. We’re hoping to open two more in Calgary and then possibly Saskatoon and then we’ll see.



CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2021 CANADIAN INDEPENDENT GROCERS OF THE YEAR SMALL SURFACE CATEGORY GOLD Urban Fare - Mount Royal, Calgary, AB SILVER Greco's Fresh Markets - Oak Ridges, Richmond Hill, ON BRONZE Belbin's Grocery, St. John’s, NL

MEDIUM SURFACE CATEGORY GOLD Longo's - Liberty Village, Toronto, ON SILVER Powell's - Bay Roberts, Bay Roberts, NL BRONZE Stong's Markets - Northwoods, North Vancouver, BC

LARGE SURFACE CATEGORY GOLD Save-On-Foods - Scottsdale Centre, Delta, BC SILVER Longo's - Yonge & Sheppard, Toronto, ON BRONZE Metro Plouffe de Sherbrooke – boul Bourque, Sherbrooke, QC

DAVID C. PARSONS AWARD OF EXCELLENCE IN SPECIALTY FOOD RETAILING GOLD Sunripe - Sarnia, Sarnia, ON SILVER Market By Longo's - Imperial Plaza, Toronto, ON BRONZE Summerhill Market – Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON





New seal allows shoppers to identify upcycled ingredients and products By Rebecca Harris

Following a successful U.S. launch, the Upcycled Certified program is hitting store shelves in Canada. The program was developed by the Upcycled Food Association (UFA), a Denver-based trade association for the upcycled food industry. Upcycled foods contain ingredients procured and produced with surplus food or food by-products from manufacturing. These ingredients would otherwise not have gone to human consumption. “The certification is a consumer education tool that allows manufacturers to communicate to consumers that some of the ingredients in a given product contain food that would have otherwise gone to waste and, ultimately, helps them prevent food waste,” says Ben Gray, co-founder and chief innovation officer at the Upcycled Food Association. “It’s really about putting all food to its best and highest use.” The program certifies both ingredients and products. “It’s consumer-facing with the [on-package Upcycled Certified] mark, but it also helps ingredient suppliers add value to their ingredients in the supply chains,” explains Gray. The Canadian launch builds on what UFA says is the “rapid adoption” of the program in the United States. To date, the program has already certified more than 200 food, beverage, cosmetics, pet food, cleaning and home care products and ingredients, representing 35 companies. Collectively, UFA says this will prevent 820 million pounds of food waste in the next year. In Canada, Impasta is one of the first using the Upcycled Certification mark on its packaging. The brand makes veggie-based pasta from spaghetti squash that would be deemed unfit for store shelves because of cosmetic scarring. Upcycled Certified is administered by a third-party certification body, Where Food Comes From. In terms of requirements, upcycled ingredients (not sold directly to consumers) have to be 95% upcycled content by weight. Upcycled products must have a minimum of 10% upcycled ingredients by weight, or meet a specific threshold for tonIn the U.S., nage diverted. Regrained’s new baking mixes “Effectively, it’s a supply chain audit, bear the Upcycled making sure that the ingredients had at Certified seal some point been going to waste,” says Gray.

To be clear, he adds that upcycling does not take ingredients from waste and put them in products. “It’s keeping those ingredients in the supply chain for products that are meant for people and showing it was once going to waste and now it’s not.” While interest from brands is growing, Gray says few consumers know what upcycled products are. But, citing a 2021 study published in Food and Nutrition Sciences, he adds that once consumers are educated about what upcycled foods are, 80% say they would seek them out. As for the role grocers can play, Gray says retailers are the gatekeepers for the upcycled foods movement. He says they can bring in more upcycled foods to their stores, work with suppliers to incorporate more upcycled ingredients, and look for private label opportunities. Kroger, for example, has a line of baking mixes that use upcycled ingredients, under its Simple Truth store brand. In 2021, Kroger launched a US$2.5 million grant program to fund upcycled food startups. “We see retailers as the key to helping educate consumers and hope we can continue to engage with even more retailers in the future,” says Gray. CG



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Product of the Year Canada

As a leader in the Canadian CPG market, Kraft Heinz has shown a strong commitment to advancing the goals of sustainability. Canadian Grocer checks in with Nicole Fischer, the Head of Sustainability for Kraft Heinz Canada, to discuss their progress.

What is the Kraft Heinz approach to sustainability and what motivates it? We are committed to responsible, sustainable practices extending to every facet of our business. Kraft Heinz’s Environmental Social Governance (ESG) strategy prioritizes the issues that matter most. We recently released our 2021 Global ESG Report, Stepping Up to the Plate, at The report details our ESG initiatives and how we are working to improve our impact on the environment – from renewable energy to packaging and other innovative solutions. The report outlines three key pillars: Healthy Living & Community Support, Environmental Stewardship, and Responsible Sourcing. We’re setting ambitious environmental goals: reducing waste from landfill, supporting our community with food donations, and leading the charge for plastics recycling. We also recently committed to Carbon Neutrality globally by 2050.

How is Kraft Heinz Canada addressing food waste? On our mission to reduce and eliminate food waste from landfills, we partnered with NorthStar Recycling to ensure any product that is not sold will be diverted from landfills for alternative purposes. These include composting and animal feed. Since we started working with them in mid-2020, we have diverted over 7 million pounds of waste from landfill and will continue to work towards our commitment of reducing food waste by 50% by 2025.

How is Kraft Heinz Canada supporting communities? In addition to landfill diversion, Kraft Heinz Canada has also made a focus of increasing our donation rates to ensure all Canadian tables have access to food. In 2021, we increased our donation rates from 2020 by roughly 1 million pounds – more than tripling the previous year. This drastic improvement has been led through the coordinated efforts of Food Banks Canada, through Kraft Heinz Pantry Day, as well as partnering with Second Harvest to ensure we are providing food to as many as possible.

On October 16, World Food Day, Canadians can join the fight against food insecurity by purchasing a participating Kraft Heinz product at their local grocery store, which will then be matched with a donation to Food Banks Canada. Started in 2020, the scope and donation effort of Kraft Heinz Pantry Day makes it the largest one-day donation matching event for Food Banks Canada.

How is Kraft Heinz Canada addressing sustainable packaging? Our most recent initiative has been the launch of the Ethical Bean Coffee and HEINZ BY NATURE recycling programs with TerraCycle. Through these programs, Canadians can collect and ship in difficult-to-recycle coffee bags of any brand or our baby food pouches and lids to TerraCycle for free,

earning them redeemable points and contributing to recycled materials projects. We’re proud of these programs as they show our commitment to recycling, no matter the challenges involved. We’re committed and on track to 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025. Other packaging initiatives include partnering with NorthStar Recycling as discussed and partnering with Loop – a state-of-the-art circular reuse platform – for glass Heinz ketchup bottles.

What can we expect from the future of Kraft Heinz Canada sustainability? Canadians can expect us to follow through on our commitments. We’re aggressively pursuing sustainable packaging and manufacturing, improving the nutrition and sourcing of our food, and giving back to the communities that support us. Details of our commitments can be found at Aside from these commitments, we are also helping to lead the charge for a circular economy for plastics through our involvement in organizations like the Canada Plastics Pact and Circular Materials. We joined the Canada Plastics Pact as a founding signatory in January 2021, and together with over 40 partners across the plastics value chain, we are working collaboratively towards ending all plastic waste and pollution in Canada. Circular Materials is a not-for-profit, producer-governed organization established to support Kraft Heinz and other producers with meeting their obligations under extended producer responsibility regulations across Canada. In Ontario, they support us with the province’s Blue Box Regulation.

Launched in 2021, the Canada Plastics Pact (CPP) is part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s growing global Plastics Pact Network. By uniting businesses, government, and NGOs, CPP works to achieve a circular economy for plastics in Canada. Kraft Heinz is proud to be a partner of CPP. See more at

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WHO’S WHO 2022

Annual directory of chains and groups in Canada

Store design


THE BOX Wow factor! This stunning EDEKA Hundrieser supermarket in Essen, Germany won a 2022 EuroShop Retail Design Award. (Design by Kinzel Architecture)


Five ways grocers are shaking up their physical spaces today, and what the store of tomorrow might look like By Shellee Fitzgerald

NOT SO LONG AGO, reports foretelling the demise of physical stores were prevalent in news cycles. Fortunately, those predictions have not come to pass. Physical stores continue to be relevant places that have even had their status bolstered in recent years. According to Martin Campbell, creative director at design firm Interstore | Schweitzer, the younger generation, in particular, “are connected more with stores” today than before the pandemic. Canadian Grocer talked to retail analysts and design experts to learn how grocery retailers around the world are changing up their spaces in compelling ways to ensure they stay relevant to customers so they can future-proof their business. Read on about five trends shaping in-store grocery environments (with some stunning real-world examples, too). »



Store design

From abundant produce displays to food counters and restaurant—fresh is front-and-centre at Fresh St. Market at Vancouver House. Last year, King Retail Solutions (KRS) won a Retail Design Institute award for its work on the downtown Vancouver store. Sarah Luker, a senior designer at KRS who worked on the Fresh St. project, describes the fresh-focused store is an energetic fresh marketplace with a “farmer industrial chic vibe”

Central Food Hall in Bangkok is a sprawling food destination where shoppers can get their groceries and dine at the dynamic Central Eatery located in the middle of the store’s fresh departments


1. Fresh forward

While grocers’ focus on fresh is nothing new—the fresh-filled perimeters have long been the more compelling areas of the store—the pandemic has changed some dynamics. Online grocery accelerated through the COVID crisis, allowing consumers to conveniently click-and-collect or have groceries delivered to their homes, eliminating the need to enter the store. To entice customers back to the in-store environment, get them to stay longer, and spend more dollars, grocers are upping their fresh game. “Retailers are using fresh to drive footfall, differentiate their stores and showcase quality,” says Toby Pickard, head of Innovations and Futures at IGD in the United Kingdom. To further stand out, Pickard says grocery retailers will step away from traditional store layouts and that fresh food and food counters will play a more significant role going forward. We’ll also see a further blurring of foodservice and retail and stores will use partnerships to strengthen their offer and provide locally relevant solutions, he says. Boosting their fresh food offering is also a strategy to maintain some of the gains made during the pandemic when grocers were able to grab share from restaurants that were shuttered or operating at a limited capacity.

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Jean-Pierre Lacroix, president at Shikatani Lacroix Design (SLD) says the foodservice opportunity will continue to grow, especially in urban areas filled with condo dwellers. “They don’t have room for storage and cooking,” he says, pointing out that kitchens in condos are shrinking. And yes, there will still be plenty of condo dwellers. Lacroix discounts the notion that Canada’s urban areas will be emptied out as people shift outside the cities to buy homes. “That’s a short-term situation,” he says of the pandemic-era trend; downtown condos are still being built “left, right and centre. It’s not stopped.” So if they can, retailers should beef up their foodservice offering at their stores and borrow from restaurants, bringing in some of their more beautiful attributes. This is a great way to introduce a customer to a new recipe idea that they can try in the store, says Lacroix. Grocers can then provide a list of all the ingredients and tell shoppers where to find the items in the aisles.

2. Local connection

Another trend that gained steam during the pandemic was consumers’ desire to support local—local businesses and local communities—and grocers are responding.


Designed by Interstore | Schweitzer, this Dunnes supermarket in Dublin, Ireland includes a collection of fresh food specialists under one roof

“The emphasis on local connection is huge,” says Sarah Luker, senior designer at Oregon-based King Retail Solutions (KRS) whose grocery clients include B.C.’s Georgia Main Food Group, Whole Foods Market and Albertsons. Brands, says Luker, are wanting to demonstrate—and consumers are wanting to see— that they are aware of local needs and are reflecting that local need not only in their product offerings but also through store design. “One of our major clients right now is trying to figure out how to bring that localization into all of their stores, so that it doesn’t feel like you’re walking into the same store in California that you may be walking into in Maine,” she says. “They want it to feel familiar and like you’re at home, but you’re walking into a localized version of that store.”


3. Sustainability on show

Consumers’ desire to do better by the planet has grown in recent years. Studies tell us consumers expect businesses to be more responsible and they’re looking to support those that are taking action on sustainability. “Sustainability is not a nice to have anymore,” says Interstore | Schweitzer’s Campbell, “It’s an integral part of what you’re about.” Retailers are demonstrating their commitment to sustainability on a number of fronts—from the products they sell to food waste and plastic reduction initiatives, and by setting ambitious goals around reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That goes for the physical stores themselves; there have been some impressive examples of sustainable store designs in recent years. Discount grocer Lidl introduced what it called “the most sustainable supermarket in the Netherlands” last summer. Touted as the first C02 and carbon neutral grocery store in the country, it was constructed using sustainable and circular materials and features solar panels to minimize its environmental impact. REWE, Germany’s second-largest supermarket chain, also debuted its super-sustainable “Market of the Future” in the city of Wiesbaden last year. Designed by U.K. architectural firm ACME, the store is a prototype for what is calls a “new adaptable and sustainable market concept.” The unique supermarket construction boasts sustainable materials and also functions as a “resource saving” urban farm housing a fish farm (capable of producing 20,000 perch/tilapia, annually) and a rooftop modular farm where 800,000 pots of basil are grown to be sold in REWE stores. By bringing food production front and centre, ACME says the “Transparency of the food-making process is celebrated.” Closer to home, Longo’s launched what was described at the time as “Canada’s first near net-zero supermarket,” in Stouffville, Ont. a few years back. And Walmart Canada just announced plans for a $20-milion, sustainability-focused Supercentre in Montreal next year. Among its planned features is a 125,000-sq.-ft. green roof. “To be really sustainable we have to be continually

In Germany, this REWE prototype store in WiesbadenErbenheim is billed as a “Market of the Future.” The state-of-the-art green building is constructed of timber and features a basil farm as well as a fish farm under its glass roof

evaluating all the ways we do everything,” says KRS’ Luker, because there are new learnings emerging all the time. “It’s a continual race.” This means looking at everything from designing a more efficient space to using more sustainable materials. And the challenge, she says, is “how do we design something that’s effective, beautiful and that will last? “

Touted by the discount chain as the “most sustainable super­ market in the Netherlands” this Lidl, which opened in Almere last year, was built using sustainable and circular materials and is energy and CO2 neutral

4. The tech edge

Retailers are continuing to experiment with technology, of course, to enhance their operations as well as the customer experience. “Consumer expectations continue to ramp up,” says Tom Ertler, SVP creative director at Miller Zell, an Atlanta design firm that counts Whole Foods Market, Kroger and Walmart among its clients. And digital integration is one of those expectations. Ertler points to Amazon Fresh and its Just Walk Out technology as the pinnacle of this. “It’s not just cool technology; it actually helps the shopping experience.” Even if you’ve not set foot in an Amazon Go or an Amazon Fresh, given all the buzz these stores have received in recent years you probably have some grasp of how the tech in these stores works: enter



In 2022, Japanese chain Uny opened this grocery store in Hong Kong. Among its features is Pet Korner with more than 1,000 products to delight pet lovers

The wine department, complete with its industrial chandelier, is a showstopping feature of the EDEKA Hundrieser supermarket in Essen. Sommeliers are also on hand to dispense recommendations to shoppers


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This Philadelphia Riverwalk GIANT store, which opened in 2021, features a beer garden along with a self-serve tap wall with 40 different beverages

5. Experiential spaces

“Frictionless stores that we’re seeing with Amazon are fantastic. I think they have a need and a niche,” for those who want to get in and out quickly, says Interstore | Schweitzer’s Campbell. “But there are still a lot of people who just like to go and shop.” Rather than fixating on providing a frictionless experience, consider the “friction full” experience— where customers can stop, engage and connect, he says. “As humans we respond to a space that’s created around us, and great interior design makes us question what we believe a space can do and I think we ignore them if they’re too deeply conventional,” says Campbell, adding, shoppers “tend to embrace those spaces that are distinct.” People want to discover something new when they go into a store, he says. “Discovery is fundamental.” Campbell notes that some supermarkets are changing their thinking and bringing back marketplaces. The store “can’t be just aisles and aisles of product.” Others are introducing distinct restaurant experiences, pubs and even on-site breweries, vertical farms in-store, as well as unique/exclusive partnerships with popular brands. Retailers that want to stand out “will dedicate space and theatre to categories where they can build an emotional and experiential connection that cannot be replicated online,” says IGD’s Pickard, pointing to areas such as health, pet, and beer, wines and spirits as examples. And grocers will upgrade design, the range of goods on offer, merchandising and service to drive traffic around the store and encourage frequent visits. Today’s consumers are busy and spoiled for choice; you’ve got to give them a reason to come to the store and spend time there. “It has to be some kind of compelling experience,” says Miller Zell’s Ertler. CG


Amazon brought its Just Walk Out technology to Washington D.C.’s Glover Park Whole Foods Market in February

the store with your Amazon app, take what you want from the shop and as you exit you are charged for the goods through the app. A slew of retailers are aiming to rival Amazon by rolling out their own checkout-free stores—notably Tesco with GetGo and Aldi U.K. with its Shop&Go banner. But it’s not all about removing the friction of the checkout; grocers are also deploying less pricy digital solutions to improve the shopping experience. “We expect to see more retailers using digital displays in store to drive sales, and using technology like wayfinding technologies that are incorporated into shopper smartphones in stores to drive loyalty and sales,” says IGD’s Pickard. In the U.K., retailer M&S launched its List and Go app earlier this year. The app offers shoppers easyto-follow, real-time navigation so they can quickly locate items on their shopping lists. At the time of the launch, the company said it had seen an uptick in customer use of digital, interactive shopping over the past year and a half and were launching a wave of new initiatives to make shopping quicker and easier.

Store design


STORE OF THE FUTURE Speculating on what grocery stores might look like in some distant or not-sodistant future is always an fascinating exercise. Shikatani Lacroix Design (SLD) brought together futurists, graphic designers, brand strategists, retail designers, digital scientists, A.I. and robotics experts, and asked them to think about what the supermarket will look like five, seven, 10 years from now. Get Unboxed! (right) is the concept the team came up with. “A lot of these elements, they’ve already been done— rooftop gardens, drones, self-driving delivery vehicles— but they’ll become the norm,” says Jean-Pierre Lacroix, president of SLD. “The future is a lot closer than it looks; now is the time to experiment,” he says. Look at where the friction points are and leverage some of these technologies and ideas to differentiate and drive loyalty to your store.



5 3


1 Charging Stations Plenty of spots for shoppers to charge their electric vehicles

2 Solar Panels Grocers will make efficient use of their sizeable rooftops by adding solar panels

3 Vertical Gardens Grocery stores will house vertical gar­ dens to grow their own food and provide some in-store theatre

4 Drones The future store’s rooftop will also serve as an airport for delivery drones

5 Pickup Areas Designated grocery pickup areas will add convenience for customers

1 Zero waste Sustainability-­ minded shoppers will gravitate to the zero waste, bulk goods area

3 2


2 Centre store Centre store is the main attraction— the “theatre of the store” where customers will discover new products and meal solutions through demonstrations and experiences 3 Bakery & deli These departments will incorporate robotics and offer more self-serve kiosks



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Generation Next thinking

DE&I: Putting policy into action While a work in progress, grocers are taking steps to make both workplaces and store shelves more inclusive and diverse


By Rosalind Stefanac IN THE WAKE of growing awareness around diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), many grocery retailers have publicly committed to offering employees a diverse work environment where their individual skills and differences are respected and valued. According to the 2021 U.S. Food Retailing Speaks analysis from the Food Industry Association (FMI), 73% of food retailers have policies in place to promote diversity in hiring, and 70% have targeted goals for their DE&I efforts overall. The good news for Canada’s grocery sector is that several chains have already taken steps in following through on their DE&I policies. Both Walmart Canada and Loblaw were named among Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2022. Loblaw requires all its leaders to complete mandatory training on inclusive hiring and uses DE&I questions in its selection

process when partnering with recruitment agencies. It has also set measurable goals to improve the gender, racial and ethnic diversity of its leadership teams within the next two years. Last year, Metro added a dedicated resource to develop programs to promote equity, diversity and inclusion among its employees, which has enabled the rollout of several initiatives already. The grocer launched a voluntary self-identification questionnaire to all employees to better understand their diverse backgrounds and is currently in the process of training employees on inclusive writing. In addition to its already existing women’s leadership group, Metro has also started two new employee-run resource groups: the LGBTQ2+ Leadership Network and the Metro Black Community Leadership Network. Hélène Rainville, Metro’s diversity and inclusion



advisor, says participation in Diversity Week—an annual week to celebrate diversity launched by the company six years ago—doubled compared to last year. “The increase in engagement we saw in 2022 proves the value and significance Metro employees feel” towards DE&I, she says. Metro has also partnered with Ready, Willing and Able to give employment opportunities for individuals with autism. “So far, the program has led to 12 hires in our e-commerce fulfilment facility and stores,” says Rainville. “The program has been a real success and we look forward to hiring more successful candidates with diverse backgrounds.”


“It’s one thing to sign onto the BlackNorth pledge (a commitment to remove antiBlack systemic barriers) and another thing to actually change your hiring practices”


Wendy Cukier, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy, Ted Rogers School of Management, and director of the Diversity Institute, says there is no question that the focus on DE&I in Canada has increased dramatically over the last few years, especially as it relates to awareness of issues in the Black, LGBTQ+ and Indigenous communities. “I think in most of Canada there is also much more sensitivity around religious diversity and finding ways to accommodate people of different faiths in the workplace,” she says. “But, in looking at the numbers, change is still pretty slow.” A part of that is simply the length of time needed to change “who’s at the top of the house,” says Cukier. “It’s one thing to sign onto the BlackNorth pledge (a commitment to remove anti-Black systemic barriers) and another thing to actually change your hiring practices.” Even with the gains Metro has already made in promoting DE&I in its workforce, Rainville says reaching as many employees as possible to raise awareness and encourage all to adopt more inclusive behaviours is an ongoing challenge. “While the events and employee resource groups have been a success, we are currently developing training capsules to be deployed company-wide so everyone can learn more,” about the main concepts related to DE&I, she says. “We know Metro is strong when our employees represent the communities we live in and serve.” Ivona Hideg, associate professor and Ann Brown Chair in Organization Studies at the Schulich School of Business at York University, believes COVID-19 has significantly undermined some DE&I initiatives, especially as they relate to advancing women in the workplace. In the grocery sector, where lower-paying, front-line positions are predominately filled by women, she says they were the ones forced to reduce work hours to care for children when schools were closed, or take time off to deal with illness in the family, often without compensation. Even women in higher-paid positions were often forced to step back to balance demands at home during the pandemic. “Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic, but women had to shoulder all these additional responsibilities, so I

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don’t think we’ve seen a lot of movement forward or even the full impact of COVID yet,” says Hideg. “But I do think this is an opportunity for grocery stores to really take a look at what they can do better to support women and remove the hurdles preventing them from moving up in management positions.” Data from Deloitte’s 2021 Future of Work series, in partnership with FMI, reinforces this notion that progress is lacklustre when it comes to advancing women and other minority groups. The representation of women and other historically marginalized people on boards in consumer staples (food) grew 4% in two years, compared to 11% in non-food consumer staples. More than half of industry executives surveyed for the report cited identifying and increasing the visibility of these groups as one of the top-performing ways to bridge the gap between DE&I promises and progress. Based on their experiences in the workplace, they also felt building and cultivating a strong pipeline of diverse leaders that are two and three tiers below the most senior ranks can help ensure the right talent is available when senior positions open up—and create more career mobility for historically marginalized groups otherwise trapped in an organization’s lower ranks. Not surprising, experts say real change stems from the top. While individual store owners can certainly make hiring decisions and workplace practices to improve their operations, Cukier says overall corporate commitment is “hugely important” because change cannot occur from the bottom up. “I’m also a big believer in what gets measured gets done, so you need to be prepared to do the audit and see what the representation is within your workforce at different levels,” she says.


Aside from DE&I in the workplace, Cukier says another real indicator as to whether grocers are embracing diversity is procurement and shelf-space. “How committed are they in supporting women and diverse entrepreneurs?” she says. “We certainly do see evidence of increasing diversification in products and services, which to me signals that they recognize the markets are changing and they have to keep up.” There’s certainly been more talk in retail sectors about the importance of diversifying supply chains—particularly considering pandemic-induced supply issues and ongoing growth in multicultural markets. But whether actions so far among grocers are significant enough is still in question. Cukier and other experts say those who aren’t already on board in sourcing diverse suppliers will have to catch up soon if they hope to stay relevant. A diverse supplier is one that is at least 51% owned/ operated by a group or individual from a traditionally underrepresented group. This could be a female-run business, or those coming from minority

Generation Next thinking groups such as the LGBQT+ and First Nations communities, or people with disabilities. The United States still far outpaces Canada as a global leader in supplier diversity initiatives, but the fact the awareness and demand for diversified supply chains is so prominent these days bodes well for everyone, believes Hideg. She says “the movement” is here to stay and is enabling a better playing field for all suppliers who were traditionally ignored or disadvantaged in the grocery sector. Big box U.S. retailers like Sam’s Club have done open vendor calls to source more diverse brands, while supermarket giant Kroger introduced 107 new diverse suppliers in 2020 totaling US$4.1 billion in diverse supplier spend. The company says it’s on track to reach its goal of US$10 billion in spend by 2030. Last year, Kroger also launched a Small Business Resource Guide to encourage more diversity in its supplier base. The free, downloadable guide offers best practices on product development, pricing, supply chain, promotion, research and preparation, outreach and partnership development. This spring, FMI is planning to launch its own Supplier Diversity Best/Next Practices Guide, which will serve as a resource for both large and small industry members. It will feature a compendium of current best practices—and projected next practices—in advancing supplier diversity. “In addition to investing in [diverse] talent, supplier diversity is integral to our business and meeting consumer demand,” says FMI’s Heather Garlich, senior vice-president, communications, marketing & consumer/community affairs. “The goal [of this initiative] is to provide the foundation for FMI’s leadership in advancing supplier diversity, racial equity, economic justice and community transformation in America.” It’s no secret that early adopters of supplier diversity programs are expected to see the greatest impact on their bottom line. “Even if it’s not happening as fast in our country, this next generation [of grocery shoppers] has a more global view and will demand it,” says Schulich’s Hideg. “It’s becoming too large to ignore for any sensible business.” Hideg says millennials, in particular, are conscious about their social responsibility and are demanding that organizations bear the brunt of sourcing equitable suppliers. “They are entering the workforce and becoming customers and are a dominant force,” she says. While Canada lags behind the United States, the fact more and more retailers here are making concerted efforts to source diverse suppliers is a promising sign. Last year, Walmart Canada became the first and exclusive provider of Klemtu Spirit Hot Smoked Atlantic Salmon, produced by B.C.’s Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation in partnership with Mowi Canada West. “We’re incredibly proud to be able to support Indigenous people by exclusively carrying this new product in more than 330 Walmart Canada stores,” says

Robert Pereira, senior director of merchandising for meat and seafood, Walmart Canada. “This is only the beginning of Walmart’s commitment to the Kitasoo/ Xai’xais as we’re exploring ways to use our size, scale and expertise to create further ties and partnerships in the community.” Pereira says the partnership between Mowi and Walmart Canada has been developing for the last 18 months. “This exclusive product launch has been a win for all involved,” he explains. “Our customers are getting 100% Canadian, locally-sourced smoked salmon while supporting Indigenous communities and jobs.” Walmart counts others such as Ohh! Foods, Verka and Amira among its growing list of diverse suppliers, too. “We recognize the diversity within Canada and are committed to addressing systemic barriers to equity and inclusion; we’re stronger as a company when everyone is included and empowered,” says Pereira. At Sobeys, an initiative called Fab Female Local Boxes launched in Ontario in 2021 and featured 17 products (ranging from granola bars to hand soap) from 12 women-owned businesses. Even the box was designed by a woman-owned business called Nature Knows and shipped by a Black-woman-owned logistics company called Simplify Supply Chain Solutions. Each box contained a card with an overview of the products and a QR code linking to the Canadian Women in Food website, which helps support women-owned food and beverage businesses. Sheri Evans, Sobeys’ local development manager in Ontario, says the idea came about during the pandemic when in-store demos were no longer available. “We thought this was a great way to showcase the entrepreneurs we work with aligned with International Women’s Day,” she says. “We wanted to give these women-owned brands more of a spotlight.” The challenge in getting other, smaller Canadian grocers focused on diversifying their supply chain really comes down to scale, says Cukier. “When you think of supplier diversity, it really is the big names that typically come to mind and in Canada, we have far fewer large retailers compared to the U.S.,” she says. Not only are some of these small- to medium-sized grocers just struggling to survive, she says, many don’t have the same kind of resources dedicated to a diversity and inclusion strategy. That said, Cukier also points to the fact Canada’s younger generation, regardless of demographic, is more concerned about diversity and inclusion than any generation prior. “An organization that has a reputation for not being inclusive—in their workforce and supplier base—will not only miss out on tapping into diverse skills and labour, but I think no one will want to work for them.” CG

“How committed are they in supporting women and diverse entrepreneurs? We certainly do see evidence of increasing diversification in products and services, which to me signals that they recognize the markets are changing and they have to keep up”

Generation Next Thinking is an ongoing series that explores the cutting-­­edge topics that are impacting grocery retail today and in the future.



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september 28 The International Centre || Mississauga || Ontario GOLD SPONSORS






TOP SHELF Meet the contenders of the 29th Annual Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards

Despite the challenges wrought by the pandemic, product innovation was in full swing in 2021 with scores of new items hitting store shelves. From plant-based alternatives to specialty cheeses and items that emphasize sustainability, 121 items were selected as finalists in the 29th Annual Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards. “We hear from retailers, restaurateurs and food influencers that Canadians are looking for ways to recreate restaurant-like meals at home, while also looking for healthier plant-based options, and more environmentally-­ friendly packaging,” said Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO of Retail Council of Canada, which presents the awards. A jury of 34 food and grocery industry experts evaluated food and non-food products based on innovation, taste, texture, consumer value and packaging. Here’s a look at this year’s finalists:

Grand Prix Finalists

A. Lassonde | Kiju Organic Made from a blend of organic fruits and vegetables, Kiju Organic juice is available in a Pomegranate Berry blend and a Mango Carrot blend, both packed with polyphenols and multivitamins.

AB World Foods | Al’Fez Shawarma Marinade Inspired by the fragrant ingredients of the Middle East, Al’Fez Marinades require just 30 minutes to marinate, making it easy for consumers to make shawarma at home.

Food Finalists

Agropur Dairy Cooperative | Monsieur Gustav Gouda This firm, lactose-free cheese from Quebec’s Laurentians region has been ripened for six months, resulting in a distinct roasted caramel taste that’s both strong and sweet.





Grand Prix Finalists MORE FOOD FINALISTS AGROPUR DAIRY COOPERATIVE •  Agropur Grand Cheddar A. LASSONDE •  Oasis Health Break •  Rougemont Orchard Collection

Bel Canada | Boursin Minis Offering the same creamy taste and texture as the Boursin pucks, Boursin Minis come packaged in small, convenient bites and can be used to enhance sauces, salads and more.

Food Finalists

Bridor | Sliced Croissant Loaf Bridor took its authentic, 100% all-butter dough croissant recipe and turned it into a loaf. The result is a sliced croissant loaf with a melt-in-your mouth crumb.

BCC FOOD BRANDS •  Nutybite BEE MAID HONEY •  Li'l Honeys BEL CANADA •  Boursin Dairy-Free BIMBO CANADA •  Bon Matin No Fat, No Sugar Added Protein Loaf •  Oroweat Organic Thin Sliced BONDUELLE CANADA •  Veggie Made Pasta CARBONAUT •  Carbonaut Low-Carb Gluten-Free Bread

Biscuits Leclerc | Go Pure Oat Bars Made from authentic, 100% Canadian whole grain oats, these super soft, no-bake oat bars are a great source of fibre and are naturally sweetened with a slight addition of fruit or honey.

CHOCOLAT LAMONTAGNE •  Tuxedo Inspiration Triple Chocolate Cake Bites CONAGRA BRANDS •  Angie’s Boomchickapop Salted Maple Flavoured Kettle Corn COASTAL COFFEE •  Coastal Coffee The Traveller, Single Serve Coffee, Pour Over DARE FOODS LIMITED •  Realfruit Gummies EAT JUST •  Just Egg Folded, Plant-Based Egg

Bimbo Canada | Stonemill Bakehouse Roasted Garlic & Sea Salt Bread Free from artificial flavours, colours or preservatives, a sprinkle of sea salt brings out the aromatic flavour of roasted garlic in this naturally fermented bread.

EGGSOLUTIONS •  Homestyle Omelettes FINICA FOOD SPECIALTIES •  Rock Star •  Roussas Barrel Aged Feta

Cavendish Farms | Waffle Fries Lattice cut with a crispy coating, these restaurant style waffle fries come salted with the skin on and can be served on their own or as a side. May 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER




The Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards are a registered trademark owned by the Retail Council of Canada.

Grand Prix Finalists MORE FOOD FINALISTS continued ISLAND ABBEY FOODS (HONIBE) •  Honibe Honey Drop KELLOGG’S •  Pop-Tarts Bites Mini-Pastries MAPLE LODGE FARMS •  Maple Lodge Farms Ultimate Chicken Sausages

Conagra Brands | PAM With their non-stick capabilities, both PAM Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and PAM Avocado Oil cooking sprays can be used directly on food to help lock in flavour and texture.

MIGIGI FOODS •  Vegan Organic Pizza Crusts

Conagra Brands | Healthy Choice Power Bowls Conagra’s new line of meatless bowls are available in Be’f Stir Fry and Chipotle Chick’n. Both use plant-based alternatives, wholesome ingredients, and are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Food Finalists

MIMI FOODS ARTISTIC DOUGH PRODUCTS •  Crokkia: A True Roman Style Pizza ORGANIC MEADOW •  Organic Meadow Whole Milk Kids Yogurt PATIENCE FRUIT & CO •  SourCran Real Dried Cranberries PREMIER FOODS •  Mr Kipling Slices •  Sharwood’s Cooking Sauce PROMISE GLUTEN FREE •  Soft White Loaf

Eat Just | Just Egg, Plant-Based Egg With zero cholesterol and similar protein levels, Just Egg cooks and tastes like real eggs, and can be used for a variety of cooking and baking applications.

SAPUTO DAIRY PRODUCTS CANADA •  Armstrong Natural Cheese Slices SIWIN FOODS •  Plant Based Chicken Flavour Dumpling SODASTREAM •  Pepsi & 7Up for SodaStream THE NOT COMPANY •  NotMilk

Honey Bunny | Peace River Hot Honey Created by the Wolfe family, Peace River Hot Honey is made using 100% pure Canadian honey and natural flavours. The new line includes hot, bourbon hot, and pineapple jalapeno.

VILLAGE BREWERY •  CR*FT ZOGLO'S INCREDIBLE FOOD •  Classic Touch Foods with Zoglo's Plant Based •  Zoglo's Incredible Plant Based Prepared Meals

GoGo Quinoa | GoGo Quinoa Breakfast Cereal Part of GoGo Quinoa’s new line of breakfast cereals, the Crispy O’s and Strawberry Pops are peanut-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly, and contain no artificial flavours or colours. May 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER



Food Finalists

CARLTON CARDS | Papyrus – Quilling Card, Hummingbird Using the ancient paper art of quilling, this intricate birthday card by Papyrus uses fine, rolled paper to create a beautiful portrait of a hummingbird.

CARLTON CARDS •  Magic Moments •  3D Unicorn Scene CASCADES TISSUE GROUP •  Cascades Fluff & Tuff ISLAND ABBEY FOODS (HONIBE) •  Honibe Travel Gummy

Oggi Foods | Tartufo - Detroit Style Pizza The Tartufo is a gluten-free, Detroit-style pizza that features a thick, rectangular crust that’s crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside, topped with truffles and cheese.

Lactalis Canada | Balderson Truffle Cheddar Balderson Truffle Cheddar is a mild and flavourful cheddar that is infused with real pieces of truffle, making it a great addition to a cheese board or pasta recipe.

KILNE •  6-Piece Steak Knife Set KRUGER PRODUCTS •  SpongeTowels UltraPro MILLENNIA TEA •  Superfood TEA Cubes REYNOLDS CONSUMER PRODUCTS CANADA | Alcan Recycled Aluminum Foil Alcan’s newest food-safe premium aluminum foil is made from at least 98% recycled aluminum and provides the same strength and quality as other Alcan products.

WHIRLPOOL CANADA •  Swash Laundry Detergent


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Organic Meadow | Organic Meadow Zero-Carbon Milk Carton From Organic Meadow comes North America’s first zero-carbon milk carton. The cartons are made from natural and unbleached paperboard and use 18% less materials than traditional cartons.

Grand Prix Finalists The J.M. Smucker Co. | Robin Hood Specialty Flour Robin Hood’s new Almond Flour and Organic Coconut Flour are certified gluten-free and contain no preservatives or additives. While the almond flour has a dense texture and the coconut flour is a lighter alternative, both specialty flours can be used in a multitude of baking and cooking functions.

The J.M. Smucker Co. | Jif Squeeze Creamy Peanut Butter This creamy peanut butter is now available in a handy, 375-gram squeezable pouch.

PRIVATE LABEL – ­ FOOD FEDERATED CO-OPERATIVES LIMITED •  Co-op Gold Chocolate •  Co-op Gold Flat Tail Pale Ale Alcohol-Free •  Co-op Gold Salami •  Co-op Gold Pure Plant Based Frozen Dessert •  Co-op Gold Pure Plant Based Protein Twists LONGO BROTHERS FRUIT MARKETS •  Longo’s Curato Hazelnut Crostata

•  Longo’s Frozen Chicken Souvlaki •  Longo’s Original Almond Thins METRO •  Discovered by Irresistibles Cheeses •  Discovered by Irresistibles Sauces •  Invitations Alcohol Free Wine •  Irresistibles Fruit Cake •  Irresistibles Dips •  Irresistibles Frozen Fruit •  Irresistibles Gingerbreadman Ice Cream Sandwich •  Irresistibles Shrimp Appetizers •  Irresistibles Spices •  Life Smart Crispy Rice Bars •  Life Smart Flours •  Life Smart Instant Oatmeal •  Life Smart Naturalia Frozen Fish Fillet •  Life Smart Organic Rice

•  Life Smart Organic Seeds •  Life Smart Plant-Based Iced Bars •  Selection Premium Truffles

•  Compliments Plant-Based Blue Cheese-Type Dressing •  Panache Bumbleberry Crisp

REXALL PHARMACY GROUP WALMART CANADA •  Nosh & Co. Everything Bagel •  Great Value 100% Almond Flour Cashews Super Fine •  Nosh & Co. Lavender Lemon Cookies •  Great Value BBQ Protein Trail Mix •  Great Value Laksa Cooking Sauce SAVE-ON-FOODS LIMITED •  Great Value Sliced Kiwi PARTNERSHIP •  Our Finest All Butter Double •  Bacon Wrapped Prawns Extra Large Chocolate & Espresso Cookies •  Ice Cream Waffle Sandwiches •  Our Finest Chocolate Chip •  Macaroni & Cheese Bites Cookie Cake •  Our Finest Luminoso Medium SOBEYS Roast Pods •  Compliments Naturally Simple •  Our Finest Red Leicester Cheese Rice Pilaf •  Your Fresh Market Kitchen Table •  Compliments Smoked Gouda Ricotta & Spinach Ravioli Cheese Beef Burgers Stuffed



Grand Prix Finalists

Three Farmers | Roasted Fava Beans These dry-roasted fava beans make for a nutritious, crunchy snack. Available in three flavours using natural ingredients, each serving contains 13 grams of plant protein and eight grams of fibre.

The Spice Tailor | The Spice Tailor Biryani Kit by Anjum Anand Available in three flavours, these spice kits are inspired by authentic Indian recipes and are free of artificial preservatives, colours and flavours. Vegetarian-friendly, they can be used to expertly season meat, seafood and vegetables.

PRIVATE LABEL –­ NONFOOD CANADIAN TIRE CORPORATION •  Paderno Classic Non-Stick Cast Iron Frypan •  Vida by Paderno Essence Series 4-Burner Convertible Gas Barbecue METRO •  Home Exclusives Cauliflower Ricer •  Home Exclusives Ice Cream Maker •  Irresistibles Biscuits •  Personnelle Cosmetics Eyebrow Liner •  Personnelle Liv Cup REXALL PHARMACY GROUP •  Be Better Meal Replacement Bar •  Be Better Scented Epsom Salts WALMART CANADA •  Great Value Disinfecting Wet Mop Cloths •  Special Kitty Flavour Cat Treats


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Von Slick's Finishing Touch | Von Slick's Finishing Touch - Made with Real Butter This quality compound finishing butter (available in six flavours) can be used to complement high-quality cuts of meat, pasta dishes, seafood, rich desserts or to season side dishes.

Zoglo’s Incredible Food | Zoglo's Plant Based Appetizer Zoglo’s new heat-and-serve, plant-based pub style tenders and plant-based meatballs are lactose-free, made from non-GMO ingredients and contain no soy, cholesterol or trans-fat. CG

Food Finalists Grand Prix winners will be revealed in June








Crowdsauced Tachup (tartar sauce and ketchup), Hanch (hot sauce and ranch), and Wasabioli (wasabi and garlic aioli) – are three niche sauces that are distinctly Canadian and based on consumer data and insights.


Sunlight Sunlight Rinse Aid Dishwasher removes stubborn water spots and residue, and features a pourable nozzle to prevent mess and waste.

Spongetowels SpongeTowels UltraPro Paper Towel product uses less fibre and are softer and more absorbent. They can be used for a variety of household functions.

Blender Bites

Live Right

Available in three flavours made from fruits, vegetables and plant-based vitamins and minerals, Blender Bites 1 Step Organic Smoothie Pucks are frozen pre-portioned organic smoothie pucks that are certified organic, plantbased, soy-free, and have no added sugar.


Salty and sweet, Live Right CranCherry Cashew Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bar is plant-based, gluten-free, and made using 70% organic ingredients.

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PuraVida Foods’ Flame Grilled Fajitas Rajas PuraVida Foods’ Flame Grilled Fajitas Rajas is a colourful blend of poblanos, red and yellow bell peppers, and red onions tossed in extra virgin olive oil, Himalayan pink salt, cracked black peppercorns and aromatics spices. Packed in 10 oz. microwaveable steam pouches, it is ready-to-eat in under 5 minutes. Its flame grilled to add a subtle hint of smokiness making it the perfect addition to any meal, just in time for grilling season!

Mutti: POLPA Mutti’s history is marked with innovation and, this June, their star product, Polpa, is turning 50! Did you know it takes 5 kilos of tomatoes to make 1 kilo of Polpa? The patented cold processing technique captures all the flavour of 100% sun-ripened Italian tomatoes. Chopped and preserved in a rich sauce with only a pinch of Mediterranean salt, Polpa is so fresh, you can enjoy it straight from the can.

Starbucks Non-Dairy Coffee Enhancers For customers wanting to keep their morning cup of Joe creamy, but without the help of milk, Starbucks and Nestlé are expanding their portfolio of coffee enhancers to include non-dairy options. Starbucks Non-Dairy Coffee Enhancers are made from a blend of almond and oat milk with no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners. They’re available in two flavours -- Caramel Macchiato and Hazelnut Latte – and contain only 30 calories per 15-mL serving.


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To stretch dollars, Canadians are changing-up their protein purchases By Jessica Huras

Growing food price inflation and the wider availability of plant-based meat alternatives could represent the makings of a perfect storm for meat sales in Canada. Data from NielsenIQ shows a 4% decline in fresh meat sales for the 52-week period ending March 19, 2022. Beef and pork saw dips of 5% and 7%, respectively, while chicken stayed steady with a 0% change in sales. It’s far from good news for meat manufacturers and suppliers, but the industry is attempting to adapt with new strategies that address the cost and sustainability concerns dampening meat sales, as well as with products that make meat easier than ever to enjoy. In the United States, the story is a little different. Meat sales have risen 3.9% compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the North American Meat Institute’s annual Power of Meat 2022 report. The report attributes



Aisles the steady sales of meat to shopper trends created by the pandemic, including increased home cooking, record-high online shopping, and a shift to digital sources for recipe inspiration. As consumers look for ways to reduce their grocery budget and incorporate more plant-based alternatives into their diets, can sales of traditional meat hold their own in 2022?

“Value is becoming an important driver of purchase intention, although taste and product quality remain key attributes for consumers in the meat department”

BUDGET BITES Inflation is impacting food prices across all categories and meat is no exception. “Inflation is lifting up so many things throughout the whole supply chain for businesses and retailers,” says Craig Klemmer, a senior economist at Farm Credit Canada (FCC). “We’re seeing higher meat prices across the board that are rising more than overall food inflation.” Research from Mintel suggests price is the top consideration for Canadians when choosing which foods to buy when grocery shopping. Meat typically comprises a large portion of a consumer’s food budget, which can make it a target for cost-cutting strategies. “Many consumers are looking for creative ways to stretch their food dollar without sacrificing eating experience,” says Kevin Mosser, senior director of global marketing for Canada Pork . “Value is becoming an important driver of purchase intention, although taste and product quality remain key attributes for consumers in the meat department.” As consumers begin to feel the strain of rising food costs, budget-friendly cuts like chicken and ground beef continue to perform well. Kate Beresford, vice president of marketing for sustainable meats at Maple Leaf Foods says poultry has been a steady growth category for the brand since 2019. Julie Gleizer, co-founder of grocery delivery service Inabuggy, says chicken quarters, drums, and breasts are among the top orders from the brand’s grocery partners. “People are mindful of their budget and trying to stay frugal in their dinner-making, so I think chicken continues to be the leader because of that,” she says. “Ground beef was always a good seller and that has remained stable.” Canada Pork recently launched a retail merchandising program focused on pork stir-fry, which aims to make pork even more accessible for consumers with

varied grocery budgets for meat. “It’s built upon some of the most common Chinese stir-fry styles—pork strips, pork slices, and minced pork,” explains Mosser. Cory Van Groningen, co-owner of VG Meats in Ontario, says they are also examining how to appeal to more budget-conscious shoppers by making affordable cuts more enticing. “We’re working on trying to decrease the impact of inflation on families,” he says. “Instead of maybe a $30 steak dinner per serving, there’s a Miami short rib.” VG Meats will be releasing a yet-to-benamed thin-sliced short rib designed for grilling, as well as kebabs, as part of the lead-up to the summer grilling season. Indeed, there’s hope that inflation won’t dramatically impact meat sales during the profitable barbecue season. “With spring and summer just around the corner, consumers are getting ready to fire up their grills and will be looking for cuts that can deliver on both value as well as flavour,” says Canada Pork’s Mosser. Inabuggy’s Gleizer says the brand typically experiences a summer seasonal boost in sales of certain cuts. “We have steak leading the sales in the summer. The trend does seem to be influenced by weather,” she says. FCC’s Klemmer believes the full effect of inflation on consumers’ purchasing choices has yet to be seen. “Families will eventually—if they’re not already—start to look at their value proposition,” he says. “Does that mean changing products from meat to another source of food, such as plant-based protein? We could see some more of that happening. Or it could just mean shifts within products. Instead of barbecuing pork chops are we barbecuing a wiener?” WHOLE IN ONE In addition to driving consumers to purchase more affordable meat categories and cuts, inflation is fuelling increased interest in whole animal purchases. “A popular cost-saving strategy for consumers is the trend of home butchery, which involves buying whole muscle cuts of pork which consumers can then cut and prepare the way they like it at home,” says Canada Pork’s Mosser. Andy Sedlak, a butcher at Vancouver’s Greens Organic + Natural Market, says that whole animal sales are doubling every year, which he credits in part, to



SWEET & HEAT. Share and Savour in the irresistible combination of sweet & heat. Available now, Hot & Honey Pepperoni adds a unique new avour to our existing meat snack assortment. With no refrigeration required, these meat snacks are perfect for any occasion. Get Inspired at


EASY DOES IT A 2020 Mintel report found that a quarter of Canadians claim to eat meat snacks when asked what snacks they ate in the past month. “Over the past two years, we’ve seen tremendous consumer demand growth in convenient protein snacking, lunch kits, and meal solutions,” says Maple Leaf’s Beresford. Maple Leaf recently released a number of new snack and convenience meat products in response to this trend, including prepped and ready shredded chicken and Mina Halal’s frozen meal kits, which focus on Middle Eastern and South Asian-inspired meat dishes like chicken shawarma and butter chicken. Maple Leaf is also set to roll out another meat snack this year, with Schneiders Pepperettes launching three new snacksize meat sticks this spring. Maple Leaf ’s Mina frozen meal kits also tap into a trend of convenience meats that draw inspiration from global flavours. “Customers are exploring new

worldly unexpected flavours—travel for their tastebuds,” says Paolo Pusateri, brand marketing manager at Toronto’s Pusateri’s Fine Foods. “These influences are a big source of inspiration for the Passport by Pusateri’s integrations in the meat department this summer.” Passport by Pusateri’s is a program that invites customers to discover new ingredients and menu items from around the world from the comfort of their local grocery store. Customers can enjoy a selection of in-store, bi-weekly regional menus and products inspired by destinations like Israel, Greece, France, the Philippines, Jamaica, South Korea, Mexico and more. The program will feature meats with marinades and rub pairings that draw on Argentinian, Korean and Southern barbecue flavours. “Ready-made meals are probably our fastest growing area,” says Cynthia Beretta, founder of Beretta Farms, which offers convenience meat items like coq au vin, steak pie, and Moroccan apricot chicken. “During the pandemic, and now coming out of the pandemic, for so long everyone was cooking everything for themselves because you couldn’t go out. It was a nice alternative to have something prepared in your freezer that you can just throw in the oven or on the stovetop.” Although Beretta says the brand is feeling the impacts of inflation, it has managed to maintain its current consumer pricing so far. Beretta adds that consumers also seem receptive to paying a premium for ready-made meat meals. “I think they are willing to pay for the


“I always show: this is what it would cost if you bought all of these things off of our shelves and this is what it’ll cost if you buy it all at once. People are definitely seeing the value in that”

cost-conscious consumers. “I always show: this is what it would cost if you bought all of these things off of our shelves and this is what it’ll cost if you buy it all at once,” says Sedlak. “People are definitely seeing the value in that.” He adds that since many people living in a city like Vancouver don’t have the capacity to store large volumes of meat at home, he’s seeing some customers band together to split the cost of a whole animal and share the meat. “You need a freezer, or you need a group of people,” he says.



Aisles convenience and also knowing that we make everything from scratch,” she says. Inabuggy’s Gleizer has also observed that convenience meat products continue to be popular with its customers as well. “Our convenience meat is constantly growing in comparison to the same period last year,” she says. “Pre-marinated meat is starting to trend this year.” Gleizer also says meat snacks, particularly jerky, are also seeing a growing consumer demand. “We’ve definitely seen elevated interest in the preserved meat and snacks category,” she says, noting that standard beef jerky is Inabuggy’s bestseller in the category, followed by Korean Island BBQ Pork Jerky. Beretta Farms’ meat snacks, which include antibiotic- and hormone-free jerky and salami sticks, continue to be a growth area as well. “For people who are conscious of their health and working out and their calorie intake, it’s a healthy source of calories and protein for them to refuel, with little filler,” Beretta says. TO MARKET, TO MARKET Grocers can consider taking a cue from Inabuggy when it comes to strategies for increasing meat sales in-store. Gleizer advises not to underestimate the power of social media campaigns to drive consumers towards certain meat products. “We do some great marketing online that seems to be somewhat of an influencer,” she says. “If we post a recipe for a hearty soup, for example, and it requires a certain beef cut, that definitely influences our sales.” Canada Pork’s Mosser stresses that education is essential, particularly when it comes to encouraging consumers to experiment with new cuts. “Especially for consumers who make their meat-buying decisions while at the grocery store, it’s crucial that grocery retailers remove the barriers to purchase through the availability of educational or informative point of sale material that boosts consumer confidence with cooking and preparing pork products,” he says. He notes that Canada Pork’s Slice & Save program offers retailers support in teaching consumers about whole muscle utilization. “It offers home processing knowledge to help develop consumer confidence for Canadian pork products, along with delivering affordable choices and access to a variety of new cuts,” he explains. Greens Market’s Sedlak agrees that 52 CANADIAN GROCER

|| May 2022

education is key to the success of the market’s whole animal program. “It’s about giving the customers the understanding of what to do with each piece,” he says. Sedlak adds that word-of-mouth marketing can also be surprisingly effective, particularly for unique meat products, explaining that he offers discounts to customers who refer friends to the market’s whole animal program. KEEPING IT LOCAL Even as budget becomes top of mind for many consumers, sustainability also remains a primary concern for shoppers. A 2020 report from Mintel found more Canadians said they were eating meat less often compared to three years prior (22% versus 10%). The report suggests this dip was driven by concerns related to the rising cost of meat, but also a desire to eat healthier, as well as environmental consciousness and ethical matters. Choosing locally-sourced meat offers one way for consumers to feel better about the environmental impacts of their meat purchases. “Many [shoppers] are focused on locally-sourced products,” says Pusateri. Beretta says showcasing local meat can help grocers appeal to shoppers with sustainability concerns. “Have a Canadian section so people can be aware and make a conscious choice,” Beretta suggests. “It touches several things that people are aware of—whether you want to support a local farmer or reduce your carbon footprint. I think it’s important for grocers to be able to call that out for consumers.” Greens Market’s Sedlak notes that, for many shoppers, the rising price of conventional meat is reaffirming the choice to pay a little more for local, sustainable meat options. “I find people are coming towards our style as the conventional price is starting to rise,” he says. “Organic is moving better because the price gap is shortening between conventional versus organic.” The outlook for meat is somewhat uncertain but FCC’s Klemmer thinks, despite rising costs, overall Canadian demand for meat isn’t going anywhere. “I think the good news story ... is that Canadians’ savings rates are fairly high coming out of the pandemic and people are demanding some high-quality protein,” he says. “I think there’s a willingness to pay, to some degree, to continue to purchase meat.”

“Choosing locally-sourced meat offers one way for consumers to feel better about the environmental impacts of their meat purchases”

The European Picnic Regardless of the year, after a long winter cooped up at home, Canadians embrace the warmer weather and rush to spend more time outdoors, walking, running, relaxing and yes, eating.

Building on these out-of-doors dining occasions, Icons of European Taste recommends introducing your customers to The European Picnic as a great way to inspire them to try new products and bring attention to the authentic and premium selection in your fresh deli case.

No European picnic would be complete without great cheese. Naturally lactose free, a mature Grana Padano PDO cheese offers rich aromas and flavours, and pairs perfectly with anything sweet, like fruits, honey, as well as nuts and works well with cured meats.

Recommend a selection of finger foods. Pairing fresh and seasonal cut veggies like slide peppers, grape tomatoes and celery or fruits including melons, apples, grapes. Other great and simple add-ons include nuts, olives, pickled beans or asparagus and a crusty breadstick.

And adding to the guaranteed authenticity of the experience, each product is fire branded with their own distinct icons and carries the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) seal. PDO is the European Union’s guarantee of quality and authenticity, so your customers will know they are buying genuine products from Europe that are created using traditional techniques that have set the standard of culinary excellence for generations.

At the core of any great European picnic is the protein. Either Prosciutto di Parma PDO or Prosciutto di San Daniele PDO or both are a great recommendation, pairing well with both fruits and vegetables and breads. Both come from separate regions in Italy and draw unique flavour attributes from their traditional preparation methods and local microclimates.

The content of this promotional campaign represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission and the European Research Executive Agency (REA) do not accept any responsibility for any use that may be made of the information it contains.















A GROWING APPETITE FOR CHEESE Retailers and suppliers “whey” in on the state of fromage in Canada By Michele Sponagle


CANADA’S LOVE affair with cheese shows no sign of waning. Over a 10-year period (2010 to 2020), consumption increased by 15% with the average Canadian enjoying 12.5 kilograms per year—with gains in the last couple of years, according to Statista. Its data shows Canada sits in the fifth spot among cheese-nibbling nations. In 2022, unprocessed cheese sales in Canada are expected to hit US $3,38 million, and processed cheese sales will earn another US $801 million, with several factors driving market growth. PLANT-BASED INNOVATION The plant-based cheese market may be small, but it is mighty and growing. As health-conscious consumers embrace newer trends like flexitarianism (a diet that focuses on plant-based foods and moderate meat consumption), suppliers and grocers continue

to add more products that taste and perform like their dairy-based counterparts. Daiya was the first to market plant-based cheeses in Canada back in 2008. Its latest formulations for its cheese blocks have amped up their creaminess factor, thanks to the introduction of ingredients like oats and chickpeas. A variety of SKUs, including Medium Cheddar, Jalapeño Havarti and Monterey Jack, dressed in their new packaging, have found their place alongside regular dairy choices. Daiya has also added a spreadable Garlic & Herb Cream Cheeze made with coconut cream to its roster. Big names have opted in, too. The Laughing Cow, a 100-year-old brand under the Groupe Bel umbrella, now offers The Laughing Cow Mix line, a hybrid of real cheese, legumes and herbs. New flavours include one with paprika and red beans and another with herbs, packaged in the traditional round box. The company has also introduced a dairy-free Boursin and its plant-based Nurishh line. Future of Cheese, a plant-based food company owned by Toronto-area grocer Organic Garage, is getting noticed for its dairy alternatives. Run by co-founders chef Craig Harding and maître fromager (cheese master) Afrim Pristine, the company’s first production run of ripened brie, which launched



Aisles last December, was quick to sell out and exceeded expectations. Jen Wojtaszek, company president, says there are more product in the pipeline, but is mum on what’s next. “Although we keep our upcoming products confidential, we can disclose that our focus is to develop plant-based variations of dairy products that have been traditionally in high demand by consumers, such as mozzarella and cheddar,” Wojtaszek says. Wojtaszek credits the high demand for plant-based cheeses to health-conscious consumers who are interested in sustainability, and notes there is also a huge population suffering from lactose-intolerance and dairy allergies, which further drives sales. Another company to watch is Betterland Foods. Though it has yet to launch plant-based cheeses, its sustainable products are gaining traction. Its creamy cow-free milk has received much attention for its cutting-edge technology, which uses a whey protein identical to what’s found in cow milk. Founder Lizanne Falsetto says the company is currently testing out a ricotta made with the gluten-free milk. “Homemade ricotta really does have better texture and flavor with Betterland milk,” she says. “It’s also much more sustainable for the planet.” Consumer focus on health is also inspiring new launches at Lactalis Canada. Acknowledging that roughly 44% of Canadians experience some form of lactose intolerance, the company’s Black Diamond brand introduced a lactose-free range with Marble Cheese Shreds, Marble Natural Cheese Slices and Mozzarella Natural Cheese Slices, which started shipping in April. SNACKS AND COOKING KITS Snacking and a preference for home cooking continue to keep the cheese category ripe. “Cheese snacks were growing pre-pandemic,” says Sabrina Zollo, vice president, marketing—cheese & tablespreads at Lactalis Canada. “They accelerated throughout the pandemic and continue to be strong today.” Launched in 2021, Black Diamond Cheestrings Probiotic caters to little snackers. The company says it’s the first kids’ cheese snack with one billion active probiotics per serving. Meanwhile, the cooking-at-home trend is fuelling growth of large and value-add formats, as well as new products, Zollo points out. Cracker Barrel Cheese Sauce Kits is a first-to-market, 100% natural cheese sauce kit with a unique blend of Cracker Barrel shredded cheeses and special seasoning. It takes less than 15 minutes to make and is available in 4 Cheese Italiano, Mexiqueso and Creamy Alfredo varieties. More cooking and snacking innovations from Cracker Barrel, Black Diamond and P’tit Quebec are due to retailers in August, according to the company. NEW & NOTABLE CHEESES Whole Foods Market continues to expand its selection of cheeses, with new entries like a feta from 56 CANADIAN GROCER

|| May 2022

Kourellas made from sheep and goat’s milk. “Their values are in line with Whole Foods Market and their feta tastes incredible,” says Kristin Payne, the grocer’s senior Canadian cheese buyer and American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional (ACS CCP). Payne predicts a rise in the popularity of grassfed, organic, local, artisan-made cheeses. Cheeses that use other types of milk, like sheep, buffalo and goat, are trending, she says. In fact, data from Aritzon estimates a year-over-year growth of 8% in goat milk products alone, including cheeses. New and notable cheeses are a focus at Metro, too. “Hard grana-style cheeses, such as our Irresistible Reggiano and 20-month Reserve Grana Padano have consistently shown growth, while aged Canadian cheddar has always reigned supreme amongst our Ontario customers,” explains Andrew Moulton, senior merchandising manager, fine cheese, Metro. The grocer curates its cheese selection based on country of origin, production style and milk type. Moulton says this allows for flexibility in creating appropriate homes for new cheeses. Metro has found success with its Locally Sourced program, highlighting makers such as Mountain Oak, St-Albert and Stonetown Artisan Cheese. It is also working with European partners to bring in new seasonal offerings later this year. “Our customers are looking at assortment and seasonal cheeses that they cannot find elsewhere, and attractive pricing on everyday cheeses such as Havarti and cheddar,” says Moulton. He notes that the cheese counter experience at Metro prioritizes consistency, clear communication on promotional items and appropriate training for store staff. At Lactalis Canada, Zollo says the Balderson and Galbani brands will be introducing new products later this year, which will appeal to those seeking fresh offerings in fine cheeses. To promote sales of fine cheeses and customer trial, it’s important to have knowledgeable staff to explain how to use them. “In many of our Whole Foods stores, you’ll find a Certified Cheese Professional,” says Payne. “Our Certified Cheese Professionals have a comprehensive understanding of all that is cheese. This level of expertise gives our customers comfort knowing help is available to choosing the best cheese for their needs. It’s a level of trust and assurance that is hard to find.” With rising prices and inflation utmost on the minds of shoppers, grocers will need to maintain the momentum in cheese sales by offering exciting selections, promotional pricing and a cheese-savvy staff. A recent Statistics Canada report saw fresh milk prices rise at the fastest month-over-month rate of 5.8% since April 1994. Cheese indexes were up 3% in February alone and some estimates say dairy, including cheese, may see a 15% price jump. Grocers and suppliers will need to collaborate closely to keep cheese sales on an upward trajectory.

“Cheese snacks were growing pre-pandemic,” says Sabrina Zollo, vice president, marketing— cheese & tablespreads at Lactalis Canada. “They accelerated throughout the pandemic and continue to be strong today”


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Consumers are familiar with hot sauces from North America, including Mexico, but other varieties are growing. Carmen McCracken founded Toronto’s Firecracker Pepper Sauce with her husband Dave to share her family’s Indo-Trinidadian recipes. “Our products are Trini-style pepper sauces, which have been passed down from my Indian ancestors who came to Trinidad as indentured labourers back in the late 1800 to early 1900s,” she says. “Their spices and peppers, combined with the already culturally diverse Afro, Hispanic and British influence on the island, created a unique and distinctively Trinidadian sauce.” Mitch Yeatman, category manager at Longo’s, says Carib­ bean hot sauces have long been popular with his customers. “We also have a lot of success with Asian hot sauces, such as sriracha.”

Hot Sauce Four things to know By Andrea Yu

3 A HANKERING FOR THE HOT STUFF The global hot sauce market reached a value of US$4.5 billion in 2020, according to a report from ResearchAndMarkets. And sales of the fiery condiment are expected to have moderate growth over the next four years, fuelled by the popularity of Pan-Asian and Latin American cuisines.


If retailers are eager to encourage more hot sauce sales, Joel Gregoire, associate director of food and drink at Mintel, suggests offering guidance and inspiration to customers for creative uses. “Provide direction on how hot sauces can be infused into meals or snacks as a topping or ingredient,” he explains. From a merchandising perspective, Gregoire says this means placing hot sauces next to foods that they can be paired with, when practical. Grocers can also try creating a “hot sauce destination” within their stores, something


2 SPICING THINGS UP Hot sauce fans are seeking more than just heat, says Deborah Sharpe, group marketing director for McCormick Canada, which produces Frank’s RedHot and Cholula brands. “There’s an increased interest in new flavours and varieties that experiment with new chilies, peppers and other sources of heat and ingredients,” Sharpe says. Consumers are also using hot sauce to enhance flavour during cooking and, she says, hot sauce enthusiasts often purchase more than one flavour. New and unconventional ingredients and flavour combinations (like pineapple jerk, guava and passionfruit) and sweet additions like maple syrup and honey are finding their way into today’s hot sauces. These options are often marketed as higher-end, artisanal options. “Consumers who lean towards artisanal sauces are not afraid to spend a little more on curated sauces that offer unique and exciting flavours,” explains Longo’s Yeatman. “In the past, you used to see a lot of cheaper products. Today, we have hot sauces selling for over $10 and these are some of our faster moving products.” While Yeatman has noticed vendors mixing hot sauces with other condiments to create new products like a spicy ketchup or hot mayonnaise, he says that these products have not typically sold well. “I think end-users like having the ability to mix the sauce in themselves with a product of their choice,” he explains.

Longo’s has experimented with. “We moved all hot sauces to an off-shelf location and listed roughly 40 new ones,” Yeatman says. “The goal was to set us [apart] from other conventional retailers,” that don’t provide such an extensive hot sauce offer. “This allowed us to test new brands and products in the market, which we typically wouldn’t have had space for in the past,” he said. Longos’ pilot also features many local products—a further selling point for customers, and a great way to promote local businesses as well.



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3 BREYERS CANADIAN Breyers is celebrating local taste profiles across different provinces with its new Breyers Canadian Desserts flavours. This national range includes flavours inspired by classic regional desserts from coast to coast: Nanaimo Bar (inspired by British Columbia): Dark chocolate base with coconut flakes and a graham cracker ripple, swirled with a creamy custard base; Butter Tart (inspired by Ontario): A vanilla base layered with luscious caramel swirl and buttery pastry pieces; Sugar Pie (inspired by Quebec): A vanilla base ribboned with a maple swirl and maple crunch pieces; and Blueberry Grunt (inspired by the East Coast): A vanilla base ribboned with a blueberry sauce and buttery pastry pieces. 4 HERSTAT NATURAL COLD SORE TREATMENT Herstat Natural Cold Sore Treatment provides fast and effective relief from the unwanted symptoms of cold sores. Made in Canada, Herstat is free from sulphates, phthalates and harmful parabens. It’s also gentle on the skin. 5 CHRISODA Blend cold-pressed fruit juice with light bubbles, a touch of fair-trade cane sugar and infuse it with organic apple cider vinegar and you have Chrisoda, a fullflavoured premium soda beverage from Manning Canning Kitchens. This beverage is available in raspberry, pear ginger, and rhubarb vanilla varieties.


|| May 2022


6 MOTT’S CLAMATO RESERVE – CUCUMBER BASIL Made with natural ingredients and no artificial flavours or colours, Mott’s Clamato Reserve - Cucumber Basil offers a fresh spin on a classic Caesar. This product is available for $5.99 at select retailers across Canada.

6 7

7 BLACK DIAMOND CHEESTRINGS PROBIOTIC Black Diamond Cheestrings Probiotic offer one billion active probiotics, 125 milligrams of calcium and six grams of protein per serving, all while providing the same taste as the traditional Cheestrings product. Black Diamond Cheestrings Probiotic are sold in packs of 12 individually wrapped cheese sticks. 8 WALL’S ICE CREAM Wall’s, Unilever’s global ice cream and frozen desserts brand, is launching in Canada with a lineup inspired by international flavours. Consumers can choose from Bubble Tea (Taiwan), which features milk tea ice cream with a brown sugar swirl and chewy tapioca inclusions; Ube (Philippines), which is a purple yam ice cream flavoured with ube puree; or Malai Kulfi (India), which showcases thick kulfi-style ice cream flavoured with cardamom and saffron and enhanced by crunchy almond pieces.

8 9

9 NESCAFÉ SWEET & CREAMY ICED ORIGINAL Nescafé Sweet & Creamy Iced Original combines rich coffee, creamer and sugar in a single-serve sachet. Each box comes with 16 sachets. Consumers can simply pour one sachet into a glass with cold water and stir. 10 OLIVIERI SKILLET GNOCCHI As a main, a side dish or even a snack, Olivieri Skillet Gnocchi has a crispy outer texture and soft tender inside that can be prepared in the frying pan in as little as five minutes. New to the lineup is Cheddar Bacon Skillet Gnocchi in family size, Basil Pesto and Italian Mozzarella Skillet Gnocchi and Cauliflower, and French Emmental Cheese Skillet Gnocchi. CG




Express Lane


Deloitte’s Marty Weintraub on the issues likely to preoccupy retailers over the next 12 months By Danny Kucharsky

It is. It would manifest itself a little differently in grocery because a grocery store is not the most attractive career historically, let alone now, with what’s happened in the last two years with frontline workers and the fatigue and exhaustion they’ve had to navigate through. Even right up through to head office, we’re seeing that fight for talent. We’re talking about new and different skill sets—digital marketing, data science, analytics, even artificial intelligence. The old playbooks may not apply as much as they used to.

What do retailers believe will happen with the supply chain in the coming months? The concern level is still pretty high. Food is a little bit different because a lot of food is domestically purchased and moved as opposed to some of the challenges if you buy and import from overseas. From a food perspective, there’s a lot of substitution. The substitution effect is viewed a little bit differently than it was two years ago. If Brand A is not there, I’ll take Brand B or private label because it’s better than nothing. The consumer may not have been so patient or forgiving two years ago as they are now. There’s a lot more flexibility.

What were the key insights from the report?

The report mentions retailers now have a chance to catch their breath and plan more strategically for the future. Can you elaborate on that?

What findings surprised you? Fifty-four per cent of executives think revenue growth is going to be up to 5% (in 2022) and 32% think that growth is going to be 5% or more. I was a little surprised that over half of executives are feeling pretty good about growing up to 5%, because of the demand shocks we’ve seen in the last couple of years. There’s still a pretty kind of rosy outlook there. And we’ll see if that actually holds true as people start to resume pre-pandemic types of behaviour,

|| May 2022

Is the fight for talent seen at all levels in grocery?

ALMOST TWO years into the pandemic, Deloitte Canada surveyed more than 30 Canadian retail executives, including grocers, at companies reporting at least $300 million in annual global revenue. The result is the company’s recently released 2022 Canadian Retail Outlook. Marty Weintraub, national retail lead at Deloitte Canada, spoke to Canadian Grocer about its findings. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

There were five key things. No. 1, there’s a fairly optimistic outlook on revenue growth going out a year or so. No. 2, supply chain complexities continue to present challenges. The third one is the war for talent. In food, that is disproportionately a challenge. The reason is that the average grocery store has 100-plus employees. That’s a lot of people to have to hire, retain, keep busy and happy. Obviously, ESG and climate (change) are hitting retail and executives are doubling down or tripling down on investments. Lastly, retailers must focus on their brand and what it stands for relative to what consumers are expecting these days.


like taking vacations or spending on experiences versus products and maybe going back to restaurants versus cooking so much at home. Things grocers may have benefited from in the last couple of years, we’re seeing slip away, so trying to hang on to as much of that as you can is pretty important.

Over the past couple of years, retailers were forced to deal with everything from opening stores, closing stores to capacity restraints and protocols. All the stuff they had to react to wasn’t in the playbook two years ago. We forget what the first three, four months were like—people having to wipe down their groceries or lining up to go to a store or putting shields up on the till. All these things that you had to do to stay open or stay alive, are, for the most part, behind us. We’ve figured out how to work in that environment, so now let’s get back to business. We were forced to invest in a bunch of things we weren’t planning on, so what I mean by taking a breath is a little bit of an opportunity to reset in terms of ‘What does the next couple of years look like?’ because consumers have shifted how they buy.

Where should grocers be focusing their efforts in the years to come? Continuing the focus on profitability because there’s been no shortage of surprise costs hitting P&Ls, in the form of labour, technology and investments, so focusing on the bottom line of profitability is super important. CG



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