The breakfast boom
How Mike Dean’s is filling a niche in cottage country
STAR WOMEN IN GROCERY
Tackling the mental health challenge JUNE/JULY 2021
INTRODUCING OUR 2021 WINNERS
2021 TRANSIT Count on the dependable and versatile Ford Transit to help make building your business easier. We’ve also loaded our cargo vans with an available suite of smart driver-assist technologies*, so when you’re ready to get to work, you can be condent behind the wheel.
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As a business owner, you know there’s no such thing as a day off. That’s why you need tools you can rely on to get the job done – day in and day out. With the Ford Transit and Transit Connect family, we’ve created tough, dependable cargo, crew, and passenger vans that are completely customizable to suit the needs of your business.
Big Thinking for your Business. When it comes to your unique business, we know that one size doesn’t fit all. With the 2021 Ford Transit, you have the option to choose from three different body lengths, three roof heights, two engines, and two wheelbases. This versatility gives you multiple ways to configure your Transit to fit the needs of your business. The Transit cargo van offers a payload range of 3,550 lbs.(1,610 kg) to up to 4,550 lbs.(2,063 kg)*. A power-sliding door feature is available on medium and high-roof cargo van models to make it easy to access your payload. The Transit is also available with All-Wheel-Drive capability, and Ford Co-Pilot360™^ a comprehensive suite of advanced driver-assist technologies. So, when you need to get to work, you can be confident your Transit will get you there.
innovative features like Pro Power Onboard™ – 2.4 kW of exportable power that gives you the ability to power up your tools on the job or on the go.
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When you own a business, it’s nice to know that you have support when you need it. Our large national network of Ford dealers means that help is always close by. So whether you’re looking for sales, service, or access to our extensive network of custom upfitters, we’re here to help your business succeed.
Need a more compact solution for your business? The 2021 Ford Transit Connect offers versatile cargo and passenger configurations, and is well-designed for custom upfitting. Despite its smaller size, the Transit Connect provides a maximum 145.8 cu.ft. (4,129 litres) of storage** and max. payload of 1,610 lbs. (730 kg) *. We’ve also loaded it with available smart technology like voice-activated SYNC®3 with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ Compatibility†, plus Ford CoPilot360™^ - a suite of advanced driverassist technologies, to help you stay
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With a full suite of services, expertise, and flexible configurations, Ford makes it easy to upfit and customize your vehicle to create a mobile space that is an exact fit for you. No matter the size of your business, the right-sized solution can be found in the 2021 Ford Transit and Transit Connect family of vans.
Coming soon, we’re ready to lead your business into the future with the 2022 Ford E-Transit. This all-electric work van features 3,880 lbs.* of maximum available payload, plus available
* When properly equipped. ^ Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology features are supplemental and do not replace the driver’s attention, judgment and need to control the vehicle. ** Cargo and load capacity limited by weight and weight distribution. † Available feature. Don’t drive while distracted. Use voiceoperated systems when possible; don’t use handheld devices while driving. Requires phone with compatible version of Apple iOS or Android Auto, and active data service. SYNC does not control CarPlay or Android Auto while in use. Apple and Google are solely responsible for their functionality. Message and data rates may apply. Apple and Apple CarPlay™ are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Android, Andorid Auto, Google are trademarks of Google LLC. ©2021 Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited. All rights reserved.
7 || Front Desk 25 || Food Bytes 27 || Eating in Canada 29 || Behind the Trends People 9 || The Buzz
Comings and goings, store openings, awards, events, etc.
12 || Lezlie Karls, Jake Karls & Nick Saltarelli
Meet the trio behind functional chocolate brand Mid-Day Squares
Ideas 15 || Goodbye to masks?
As vaccine rates climb, when might we relax COVID protocols?
18 || Big on bakery
20 || Fighting food insecurity
COVER BACKGROUND: GETTY IMAGES/MFTO. THIS PAGE FROM TOP:CHANTALE LECOURS, GETTY IMAGES/ELINAMANNINEN, JESSICA DEEKS
22 || Consumers in the post-pandemic era
New Deloitte research explores which consumer habits will stick
Aisles 71 || The breakfast boom
74 || Boosting booze sales
As drinking patterns shift, find out how to tap into the trends
79 || Kombucha: Four things to know
Learn more about this fizzy, fermented beverage Shining a spotlight on the latest products hitting shelves
Express Lane 82 || Diversity matters
The Diversity Institute’s Wendy Cukier on where we are with DE&I
KING OF COTTAGE COUNTRY 62 Mike Dean Local Grocer shows how filling a niche can be a strong strategy for independents TACKLING THE MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGE 65 As the pandemic drags on, it’s taking a toll on workers. How can employers help?
More eating at home and category innovation are re-energizing the morning meal
81 || New on shelf
31 Meet Canadian Grocer’s 2021 Star Women in Grocery Features
A new Bakeology report reveals what consumers are craving in baked goods Arctic Fresh and The Growcer bring affordable groceries to Nunavut
June/July 2021 || Volume 135 - Number 4
62 Follow us on
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June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 5
Congratulations to all winners of the
2021 STAR WOMEN in Grocery Award
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It’s hard to believe that 10 years have elapsed since we launched the Star Women in Grocery Awards. Back then, introducing the awards was our way to recognize the incredible contributions of women working in all corners of the grocery industry. Our very first group of winners were an impressive bunch that included Stacey Kravitz (then at Kraft Canada, now at UNFI), Cori Bonina of Stong’s Market, Cindy Lee of T&T Supermarket and Jenny Longo of Longo’s—all women that have most certainly left their mark on this industry. A decade later, we couldn’t be prouder to see the awards continue to grow, resonate and have an impact on the grocery industry. Again this year, we received a record number of nominations across all three categories: senior, rising and store-level stars. Our 2021 winners hold positions that run the gamut from chief financial officers, general managers and presidents to e-commerce, human resources and supply chain leaders to local development managers and outstanding store managers working on the front lines from coast to coast. In our Star Women coverage in this issue (starting on page 31) our winners tell us about the challenges they faced (many naming this past year as particularly tough) but they also share with us what they love most about their jobs. From their responses it's clear this year's Star Women have a passion for what they do and it's also clear, as
it is to us each year as we put together the Star Women issue, that talent runs deep in our industry. To all of you who have taken the time to nominate colleagues and support the awards over the past 10 years, we can't thank you enough! And, of course, big congratulations to our our 2021 Star Women in Grocery. We hope you can join us as we celebrate this year's winners at our awards ceremony on October 20. See you next time!
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 canadiangrocer.com to subscribe June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 7
Congratulations to all of the 2021 Star Women whose leadership and vision have played an essential role in shaping the Canadian grocery and retail industry!
The Buzz OPENINGS
The latest news in the grocery biz president Darrell Jones in a release. “It was only a few years ago, back in 2016, that the store was forced to close because of a wildfire, but these natural disasters have not stopped our team.”
Quebec's Avril Supermarché opened its ninth location in May, with its 10th scheduled to open this summer
In May, AVRIL SUPERMARCHÉ opened its ninth location at CF Promenades St-Bruno on the South Shore of Montreal. The chain’s owners spent $9 million to open the 41,500-sq.-ft. store, the second-largest in its network (Laval being the largest). Similar to the Laval location, St-Bruno features a vertical farm that overlooks the store as well as a 132-seat bistro and 68-seat outdoor patio area. Sylvie Senay, Avril’s co-founder and co-owner, told Canadian Grocer Promenades St-Bruno has not had a supermarket since the closure of Steinberg in 1992. “I’m convinced it will become one of our strong stores,” she said. Avril’s 10th location and its first in Montreal is scheduled to open this summer.
T&T SUPERMARKET is planning to return to downtown Toronto this fall. Located on College Street near Spadina Ave., the new 27,000-sq.-ft. store is in the heart of the city’s Chinatown neighbourhood in a space once occupied by an Independent City Market. T&T CEO Tina Lee told Canadian Grocer that the company had been searching for a replacement for its popular Cherry St. location—which shuttered to accommodate redevelopment of the Port Lands district—even prior to that store’s closure in January 2020. While the new store has a smaller footprint than a typical T&T, Lee believes improved accessibility will result in more walk-in traffic. “We expect smaller basket sizes, but more frequent shops,” she said. The opening of the downtown Toronto location will coincide with the opening of a new store in Langley, B.C., bumping up the retailer’s store count to 29.
AVRIL SUPERMARCHE, CP IMAGES
The community of Tottenham, Ont., about an hour north of Toronto, will soon be getting a NO FRILLS. Scheduled to open this fall, the Loblaw-owned discounter will be located on Mill Street. Tottenham is already home to grocery stores Vince’s Market and Foodland. In June, SAVE-ON-FOODS officially reopened its downtown Fort McMurray, Alta., store, the location closed in April 2020 when high waters in the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers resulted in a mandatory evacuation order and severe flooding. Prior to reopening for business, the store underwent major renovations to repair damage as well as to update and renovate the location. “I am so incredibly proud of the resilience of this team and of this community,” said Save-On-Foods
T&T has found a downtown Toronto replacement for its shuttered Cherry St. location (above)
Empire announced the opening of three new FRESHCO locations in Alberta. Two of the stores will be located in Edmonton (Jasper Gates and Lewis Estates) with the third location slated for downtown Fort McMurray. The stores will replace existing Safeway and Sobeys stores, which are expected to close in the second quarter of fiscal 2022 and reopen as FreshCos by the end of the fourth quarter. With the announcement, the company has now confirmed 40 of its approximately 65 planned FreshCo locations in Western Canada.
Last chance to nominate! Get recognized by nominating a company or
individual for Canadian Grocer’s Impact Awards. We want to hear about the great work you’re doing to make a positive impact in the grocery industry and your communities. If you’ve launched initiatives around supporting your workers, community service/giving back, sustainability, or diversity, equity and inclusion, take a few minutes to tell us about it. Canadian Grocer’s Impact Awards are open to retailers, suppliers and solution providers. There is no fee to nominate and honourees will be featured in Canadian Grocer this fall. Visit cgimpactawards.ca before July 15, 2021 to nominate.
June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 9
The Food Industry Association of Canada has announced that Joey Longo, chief operating officer/chief development officer at Longo Brothers Fruit Markets, and Steve Fox, the recently retired chief customer officer at Nestlé Canada will be the recipients of the 2021 Golden Pencil Award, the grocery industry’s highest honour. Presented since 1957, the prestigious Golden Pencil Award recognizes individuals who have made significant and worthwhile contributions to improving the Canadian food industry as well as their communities. Both Longo and Fox will receive their awards at a ceremony in November.
At its recent GSF West Live Retailer Connect virtual event, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers named the winners of its 2020 CANADIAN INDEPENDENT GROCER OF THE YEAR AWARDS . Presented since 1962, the awards recognize Canada’s outstanding independent grocers. The National Gold Award winners for Top Independent Grocer of the Year were: LONGO'S—MOUNT PLEASANT, Brampton, Ont. (in the large surface category); BATTISTELLI’S YOUR INDEPENDENT GROCERY, Lively, Ont. (medium surface); and VINCE’S MARKET, Tottenham, Ont. (small surface). YUMMY MARKET of Maple Ont., won the David C. Parsons Award of Excellence in Specialty Food Retailing. Each store was evaluated for retail excellence and rated on its customer service, staff, department management, store layout, merchandising, creativity, cleanliness, and community involvement. VILLAGE FOOD MARKETS in Sooke, 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, Brooke and Linda Kynoch and the team at SAFETY MART FOODS in Chase, B.C., were recognized with the Hall of Fame award. REAL TREAT NABS A GOLD SOFI AWARD! Cochrane, Alta.’s Real Treat has become the first Canadian brand and first organic product to win a prestigious Gold SOFI award in the Cookies & Sweet Snacks category. Real Treat’s LEMON SABLÉS WITH HERBES DE PROVENCE secured the prestigious award after being tested by a group of expert judges comprised of chefs, culinary instructors and specialty food buyers. Presented by the New York-based Specialty Food Association, the SOFI Awards have honoured excellence in specialty food and beverage products since 1972. 10 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
ON THE MOVE
Danone Canada has announced several executive changes recently. Iannick Melançon has been appointed senior vice-president, sales, replacing Paul Hogan who is moving to the company’s North American operations. Melançon has held various sales leadership roles during his 14 years with the company. In other Danone Canada news, Jeremy Oxley, previously the company’s vice-president of marketing, strategy and insights, is now vice-president marketing, e-commerce and shopper activation. And Natalie Holloway joins the company’s leadership team in her new role as vice-president, insights, strategy and transformation. Holloway has been with the company for more than 18 years. Denis Michaud has moved into an expanded role at Weston Foods as its vice-president, retail Canada sales. In his five years at the company, Michaud has held progressively senior roles. Meanwhile, the company has announced that Guy Burton, who has been with Weston Foods for nine years, will become vice-president of foodservice. At Advantage Group Inter national, Dan Doulos has been promoted to the role of country manager, Canada. Doulos joined the company in 2019, and prior to that he was director of industry relations at GS1 Canada.
Real Treat of Cochrane, Alta., won a prestigious Gold SOFI award in the Cookies & Sweet Snacks category
REAL TREAT, NESTLE CANADA, LONGO'S
Golden Pencil Winners 2021 announced!
People THE TRIO AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY With their healthier, functional version of a chocolate bar, the founders of Mid-Day Squares are taking on the snack world By Danny Kucharsky Photography by Chantale Lecours
Who you need to know
t all started when Lezlie Karls decided to make a healthier version of a chocolate bar to quell the afternoon munchies of her Oh Henry!- loving roommate-turned-spouse, Nick Saltarelli. “At that point, we thought nothing about it,” explains Karls. Little did they know that this would turn out to be an early version of Fudge Yah, the first product of their Montreal-based snack company Mid-Day Squares. Now, five years later, the company is forecasting $10 million in sales this year with ambitions to become a snacking staple. Prior to the launch of Mid-Day Squares, Karls, who had been running a luxury women’s ready-to-wear clothing line called Hektor, and Saltarelli, who had a software company, had decided to team up and work on a new company. They opted for the food business and initially started a hot cereal line, but it never quite caught on. But after Saltarelli came across data showing the plant-based and real chocolate markets were growing exponentially, “he had this ‘aha’ moment in the shower,” Karls recalls, and realized the chocolate bar she had been making for him fit perfectly. Still, the product didn’t yet have marketable attributes for grocery, Karls says. The goal was to “change the way people eat chocolate” and make Mid-Day Squares “functional,” with protein and fibre benefits, good fats and to satiate hunger between meals. So Karls reached out to the food science department at Montreal’s McGill University, where they received guidance on reducing the sugar, increasing protein and adding fibre to their product using ingredients that include unsweetened chocolate, pumpkin seeds, hemp protein concentrate, sacha inchi protein, maca and dates. Having a good product wasn’t enough, though, explains Saltarelli. They also needed to make some noise. Problem was, Saltarelli and Karls are “super introverted” and needed help creating hype around the product. Enter Jake Karls, Lezlie’s brother, who was running a clothing brand called Chase & Hunter, which was hugely successful at generating social media buzz, but was losing money. Jake Karls joined the team and immediately decided, “Let’s show the real ‘good, bad and ugly’ of what it is to start a business. We ended up filming everything.” They started broadcasting on
Instagram in August 2018, and sales soon started coming in. To get the bar into people’s bellies, Mid-Day offered Fudge Yah for 50 cents in a money-losing sampling program. Along with the bars, the founders included “wacky” Polaroid pictures of each other with personalized captions. That “automatically set us apart from every other brand out there,” Jake Karls says. Since the founders initially couldn’t afford shipping, they hand-delivered the product. “We got to go into people’s homes and have tea and get to know who our actual customers were,” Jake Karls says. Their shocked customers would post about it online. Those customers started asking stores to carry the product, and the rest, as they say, is history. Mid-Day is now sold in 1,200 stores across Canada, including Sobeys and Metro, and that number is expected to grow to 1,800 by late summer when Loblaw begins carrying them. The bars are also in 600 U.S. outlets, and the brand aims to enter mass grocery down south by next year. Online currently represents 40% of sales. The sales potential is much higher, says Jake Karls. Canadian grocery stores “are not used to refrigerated snacking” and are placing Mid-Day in the dairy section, where impulse buyers don’t often venture. Instead, Mid-Day is trying to convince grocers to follow the U.S. example and stock its product in the produce department alongside cut-up fruit and pressed juices. There are now three flavours—Peanut Butta and Almond Crunch! followed Fudge Yah—and a fourth is coming this fall. And while Mid-Day was initially made in Karls’ and Saltarelli’s condo kitchen, they quickly outgrew the space. After visiting co-packers, who tried to get them to vastly alter their recipes, they decided to build their own plant. Eighteen months and $1 million in R&D later, Mid-Day now has its own 11,000-sq.-ft. plant that can produce 90,000 bars a day. A loan from Investissements Québec funded the plant and two series of financing have raised US$6.5 million. CEO Lezlie Karls, COO Saltarelli and rainmaker Jake Karls own 63% of the 42-employee company. “Our goal is to become a household staple in the snacking space,” Jake Karls says. “The end goal here is not to sell this company, but to build [it to] the magnitude of a Hershey’s in the better-for-you chocolate snacking space.” CG
30 seconds with …
LEZLIE KARLS, NICK SALTARELLI & JAKE KARLS What makes Mid-Day unique? lezlie karls: It has to do
with [telling our] story of entrepreneurship [on social media]. The story means anything that happens is fair game. We show crying, breakdowns. We show successes, we show weight loss journeys, we show everything.
What’s some of the best advice you’ve received? nick saltarelli: Even though it’s
counterintuitive, because no one’s going to want to work with you, start with one SKU. We almost started with three SKUs. We got this advice and it was dead on. One SKU forced us to go above and beyond to get attention.
What are some of the things you like doing outside of work? lezlie karls: I recently started
trying to cook on the open fire. I would like to eventually really master the art of cooking on open flame with burning wood. jake karls: I go through like a book a week—history, memoirs and entrepreneurship. I play roller hockey at 6 p.m. every day with friends to clear my mind.
What do you like the most about your job?
saltarelli: I was obsessed with
chocolate and Willy Wonka growing up, and the Nesquik commercials where the bunny would touch things and they would turn to chocolate. For me, the fact we have a manufacturing plant and you can go to one of the pipes and open the thing and literally chocolate comes out, that’s mind blowing that my life has come full circle.
June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 13
Congratulations to all 2021 star women award winners from
RETAILERS || SUPPLIERS || SHOPPERS || INSIGHTS
GOODBYE TO MASKS? Vaccinations are picking up speed, but grocers are still looking to public health officials for guidance on covid safety protocols By Chris Powell
The in-store grocery experience has been transformed during the pandemic, with retailers spending millions putting measures in place aimed at both limiting the spread of COVID-19 and assuaging customer fears about contracting the disease. Grocers have taken multiple steps to safeguard their stores, from installing Plexiglass shields separating customers and employees, to introducing “deep cleaning” processes and placing floor decals instructing shoppers how they are supposed to move through the aisles and how far apart they should remain from fellow shoppers. But there has been no more visible—or contentious—manifestation of how significantly brick-and-mortar retail has changed in the past year-anda-half than the requirement that employees and customers wear masks. Now, with vaccination rates rising, there is some debate about when Canadian grocery stores might drop the so-called “mask mandate” and
June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 15
Ideas perhaps ease up on some of the other safety measures they’ve implemented in the past 18 months or so. It is already a major topic of discussion in countries including the United Kingdom, where retailers are petitioning government to consider easing some of the restrictions; or the United States, where mask mandates have been dropped following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding fully vaccinated citizens. U.K. grocers have been engaged in talks with the government to end the most significant social distancing rules, specifically the one-metre rule and mandatory mask wearing. According to the British Retail Consortium’s BRC-Sensormatic Footfall Monitor, footfall in British retailers had fallen by 40% compared to pre-pandemic levels, which it attributed, in part, to consumer unease over some of the safety protocols. Tesco, the U.K.'s largest grocery retailer, however, recently said it was in no rush to remove social distancing measures, with CEO Ken Murphy saying customer and staff safety remains a priority. The company has reportedly accrued extra costs of £900 million (about $1.54 billion) through a combination of PPEs, safety screens, closing cafes and hiring additional staff. Following guidance from the CDC, several major grocery chains in the United States—including Aldi, Costco, CVS, Publix, Sprouts and Target—have already removed mask mandates for people who are fully vaccinated. What’s unclear, however, is just how retailers will determine which shoppers can safely shop maskfree. Costco, for example, said that it would not require proof of vaccination, instead asking for its members to demonstrate “responsible and respectful co-operation." But the approach has raised the spectre of store employees, many of whom have already borne the brunt of so much customer anger over mask mandates, now being thrust into yet another unwelcome role: “vaccine police.” For now, it seems Canada is some distance away from stores beginning to seriously contemplate easing safety measures. As of the time of this writing, less than 10% of the population (8.38%) had been fully vaccinated (compared with about 42% of the U.S. population), although there are estimates that number could reach 90% by as soon as September. 16 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
So, it seems as though it will continue to be business as “not-so-normal” for Canadian grocers, with several suggesting they have no immediate plans to loosen rules around mask wearing or ease up on other safety restrictions. Karen White-Boswell, director of external communications for Sobeys, says the company’s mask guidelines currently remain unchanged, and that customers should expect the Plexiglass barriers it has installed to “stick around for an extended period of time.” She explains, “The health and safety of our customers and our teammates has been our top priority since day one of this pandemic, and we are in no rush to roll back our protocols without proper public health guidance.” Daniel Bregg, president of B.C.-based grocer Buy-Low Foods, says the next steps for his company are “still under discussion,” and the company is seeking guidance from WorkSafeBC and the provincial health officer. And Teresa Spinelli, president of the Alberta specialty grocer Italian Centre Shop, says while her company hasn’t made any decisions on next steps, Plexiglass shields are likely “here to stay,” and the company would follow guidance from public health on masks. Dr. Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says it’s hard to predict what will happen with masks, but he wouldn’t be surprised to see stores “fully open” (i.e. no mask mandates) by as early as September, although he theorized there might still be restrictions on the number of customers permitted to enter the store. He says Plexiglass shields offer physical safety for both customers and employees and could be left in place indefinitely (a decision no doubt facilitated by the enormous cost to grocers of installing them), while lingering shopper fears about touching food items such as produce means shoppers might also continue to see produce wrapped or bagged for the foreseeable future. Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at Dalhousie University, dismisses the “deep cleaning” measures at grocery as unnecessary, and warns it’s ultimately going to be customers who pay for the costs associated with the measures put in place. “We have a better understanding of the risks,” he says. “And the illusion created by staff cleaning everything won’t change the risks consumers are exposed to.”
Best in show AT ITS VIRTUAL GSF West Live Retailer Connect conference in May, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers announced the Top 10 in Grocery award winners for 2021. Conference attendees voted to determine this year’s top products. Here are the winners:
Kiju Organic Fruit Bites, A Lassonde
World Taco Kit – Korean BBQ Inspired, General Mills
Shredded Feta, Saputo Dairy Products Canada
Candied Salmon Jerky, Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish
• Water Kefir Strawberry Rosehip Flavour, Kindred Cultures • Compostable Produce Bags, leaf Environmental Products • Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, Sustainable Health Foods • Angostura Cocoa Bitters, Tree of Life • Watkins Organic Garlic & Herb Seasoning, Acosta • BinBreeze – Lavender, BinBreeze
DELIVERING BETTER, TOGETHER. Congratulations to all 2021 Star Women award winners! Together we will Transform the Future of Food.
BIG ON BAKERY
It’s no coincidence that Weston Foods, with brands such as Wonder Bread, Ace Bakery and D’Italiano, released a new consumer trends report just over a year into COVID-19. “The pandemic had such an impact on the way people consume baked goods,” explains Luc Mongeau, the company’s president. “Our eating habits and cooking habits have changed. We wanted to help everybody in the industry understand what consumers are looking for in these rapidly changing times.” The Bakeology report was released in May. One finding that stood out to Mongeau was that “people are looking for integrity in ingredients,” he says, noting 26% of survey respondents indicated they’d be more likely to purchase a bakery product if it included a claim to be made with non-GMO ingredients. The report also found 33% said they’d be more likely to buy “all-natural” baked goods; 30% said they’d be more likely to buy baked goods that are “high in fibre and protein”; 25% said a “made sustainably” claim would make them more likely to buy a baked good; and 35% said they’re now eating more nutritious foods in general. ad July 2021.pdf 1 2021-06-10 12:22 PM At the same time, indulgent baked goods are still
in demand (33% said they are currently eating more indulgent meals and treats, and 29% of respondents are eating more desserts during the pandemic)—and when consumers do indulge, they want the experience to be worthwhile. “Consumers turn to sweet goods for indulgence and they’re telling us, ‘It better be worth the splurge,’” Mongeau says. “They’re looking for really elevated cakes, elevated doughnuts, cookies, pies and so forth.” The increased desire for more refined bakery products also extends to savoury goods. “We found that people are seeking more restaurant-style solutions to elevate their meals, like artisanal burger and sausage buns,” Mongeau explains. In fact, the report shows 24% of survey respondents said they would be more likely to buy a bakery product if it included an artisan-style claim. Post-pandemic, Mongeau believes consumers will continue to demand artisanal baked goods that are sustainably made. “We’ve been in the pandemic now for well over a year,” he says. “These habits of creating elevated meals at home, we see these continuing in the future.” To meet consumer demands, Mongeau encourages grocers and producers to provide a wide assortment of sustainable, artisanal, better-for-you products. “For us, we’ll continue to refine our portfolio so that consumers can continue to elevate their meals with restaurant-style experiences and ensure that we elevate the enjoyment of our sweet goods,” he says.
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Weston Foods’ first-ever Bakeology report reveals what consumers want from baked goods By Andrea Yu
FIGHTING FOOD INSECURITY
How Arctic Fresh and The Growcer are teaming up to bring affordable groceries to Nunavut By Jordan Whitehouse It’s no secret that food insecurity is a education for entrepreneurs. But those serious issue across Canada, but in Nun- programs, along with the grocery delivavut, where almost half of households ery business, can be expensive. To pay for are food insecure, the situation is espe- them, Arctic Fresh generates capital in a cially concerning. One company trying variety of ways including through conto do something about it is the Nun- sulting work and partnering with comavut-based social enterprise Arctic Fresh. panies like airlines. “We’re kind of like an Although the online retail octopus,” says Cendou. “We’ve store specializes in delivering got tentacles all over, and it affordable groceries to the ter“We’re kind all funnels into the middle— ritory, it’s now partnering with of like fighting food insecurity.” container farm manufacturer an octopus. The modular containers The Growcer to bring modular We’ve got being developed by The Growbricks-and-mortar stores and tentacles cer could be one more of those community gathering spaces all over, tentacles. Although The Growto the region. and it cer specializes in building The two companies came all funnels hydroponic farms out of shiptogether at a trade show in into the ping containers, the company Ottawa a couple of years ago. middle— was open to building modular It was a natural fit, says Silfighting bricks-and-mortar stores for vano Cendou, vice-president, food Arctic Fresh. So, Arctic Fresh operations at Arctic Fresh. “We insecurity” went back to Nunavut to ask realized that we had the same customers what they wanted in goal: food insecurity. They a store. The answers they got had an expertise in one area, we had it varied widely. Some communities wanted in another, and we said, ‘Hey, if we work bulk food stores where people could buy together, it would be less expensive and small quantities of items at a time rather we would save a lot of time.’” than having to purchase the unaffordable Rhoda Angutimarik and her partner larger quantities through Arctic Fresh or Merlyn Recinos launched Arctic Fresh other stores. Others were interested in from their garage in Igloolik in 2017. Cus- butcher shops for the country food (traditomers from 13 communities in the Baf- tional Inuit food) they gather on the land. fin Island area can now order everyday Some wanted coffee shops or community groceries from the online store and have gathering spaces to pass on traditions. them delivered from Ontario within a Arctic Fresh took those responses to few days. Arctic Fresh’s initial goal was The Growcer and now the two companies to offer more affordable groceries to Nun- are developing modular options—called avut residents. “health hubs”—that communities can Combatting food insecurity isn’t as select based on their needs. The pansimple as just lowering grocery prices, demic has slowed progress, but the hope however, says Cendou, which is why the is that the prototypes will be ready by company also invests in social programs next spring and testing will begin in a few such as cooking classes and mentorship communities next summer. 20 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
Which pandemic shifts are here to stay? A new Dalhousie/Caddle study looks at how the pandemic may reshape grocery for years to come Yes, the pandemic will come to an end, but some consumer shifts are likely here to stay. The Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, in partnership with Caddle, surveyed more than 10,000 Canadians in May 2021 with an aim to better understand how the pandemic could impact the grocery experience over time. Some key findings: The virtual/bricks-and-mortar dilemma: The use of online delivery and curbside pickup surged during the pandemic, and the survey found that online purchases would continue to generate more sales for the grocery sector. However, bricks-and-mortar stores are by far the favoured channel. Nearly 79% of consumers plan to buy in-store in the next six months; 23% plan to buy online and pick up in-store, and 18.5% plan to have online groceries delivered. Loyalty programs are more critical: Loyalty programs will become even more critical in years to come. Nearly threequarters of Canadians (73%) are likely to be influenced by loyalty programs when purchasing food products. The ‘local paradox’ lives on: Canadians say they want to see more local products in their stores—but that doesn’t mean they’ll buy them. While 75.2% wish large grocery store chains carried more local products, only 47.4% say they plan to purchase more local products in the next six months. Discount is king: Bargains are a top purchase driver—a trend that will intensify over the next year or so. When asked which (from a list) is most likely to attract them to purchase a grocery store product in the next six months, 70.2% said promotions and deals. Self-checkouts are making a comeback: It appears the pandemic has helped Canadians overcome self-checkout hesitancy. Nearly 40% of Canadians intend to use self-checkouts most of the time in the next six months and 55.2% plan to use cashiers most of the time. Store design for physical distancing: Canadians are in favour of grocers redesigning their stores to accommodate physical distancing. A total of 54.7% of Canadians think grocers would offer a better experience with a redesigned store that allows for more physical distancing. —Rebecca Harris
EUROPE HOME OF CHEESE: TASTE THE AUSTRIAN ALPINE LIFE Imagine the stunning landscape of the Alps with cattle grazing on the alpine pastures and tiny huts with beautiful mountainous backdrops. In the Land of the Alps, where the mountain pastures benefit from clean air, soil, and water, comes some of Europe’s finest cheeses. When you have Austrian mountain cheese, you get a taste of the alpine life: the life of farmers who spend the summer months to produce milk and cheese, seven days a week from early morning to late evening. 500 to 600 years of tradition passed down by farmers for generations as a way to preserve alpine pastures and alpine traditions for the future.
85% 70% 100%
OF THE LAND IS SUPPORTED BY AN ENVIRONMENTAL MEASURE OF AUSTRIAN TERRITORY IS MOUNTAINOUS. OF THE MILK PRODUCTION IN AUSTRIA IS GMO-FREE.
In a way, alpine cheese is nature, craftsmanship, and art in one, a guardian of culture.
The content of this promotion 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.
Consumers in the post-pandemic era
New Deloitte study looks at consumer habits that are here to stay and how grocers can maintain the covid-19 sales boom By David Brown The grocery industry underwent massive change during the pandemic, but a new report from Deloitte looks at what life for Canadian grocers could be like as vaccination rates climb across the country and the end of the crisis, hopefully, draws near. The focus now should be on maintaining the momentum gained during the pandemic, identifying which consumer trends of the past year are permanent, and adapting and responding to life after the pandemic, according to Deloitte. The study, “The conflicted consumer: 2021 food consumer survey,” is based on research conducted by Deloitte between March 2020 and May 2021, including a quantitative survey in March 2020 and again in 2021 (with an average of 1,000 respondents) as well as qualitative research across age groups and in-depth interviews with industry executives. One of the most obvious trends in the last year has been what Deloitte refers to as the “rise of the epicurean” or, put another way, the surge in home cooking while people were forced to stay at home more and go out less. According to Deloitte: • 66% of all respondents—and 72% of those age 35 to 54—say they’re cooking meals at home more than in the previous year. • 63% prepare dinner from scratch four to six times a week; 85% spent more on fresh produce. • 79% spent more on plant-based milks and other non-dairy products; while 72% spent more on meat alternatives. 22 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
• 40% are spending less on baked desserts, prepared ingredients and hot ready-to-eat meals. “The big question is how much of that will stick afterwards,” says Marty Weintraub, national retail leader at Deloitte Canada. “We believe quite a bit of it.” One reason for that is cooking more from home intersects with previous trends that had been growing pre-pandemic, he says. Increased interest in health and wellness, being sustainable, and reducing waste all align with cooking more at home. According to the report, the expected increase in dining out when restaurants reopen will not reverse the increased interest in home cooking. “Consumers will continue to add new recipes to their rotations, looking to grocery stores for meal inspirations and expecting more from in-store associates than speedy checkouts,” the report reads. But the important unknown variable will be how much time grocery shoppers will have to cook post-pandemic, and that will depend on factors like the shift in how, where and when people do their work after the pandemic. Increased interest in meal kits is almost certainly another permanent change caused by the pandemic and an important factor for grocery retailers to contend with, says Weintraub. One in 10 Canadians tried a meal-kit delivery service for the first time during the pandemic, and 65% of that group will continue to use meal-kit delivery in the next 12 months. The growth curve for meal kits was pretty steep; the question will be how long that growth curve continues its upward trajectory, explains Weintraub. “There won’t be a tremendous amount of pullback,” he says. “I think it’s a real threat, and we’ve seen some grocers respond with their own meal-kit services. But I do think this will be a bit of a battle coming out of the pandemic.” The pandemic also led Canadians to try new food shopping options for the first time including: • 25% tried curbside pickup. • 15% tried grocery delivery. • 15% tried third-party food delivery services. • 10% tried meal-kit delivery. However, just 23% of respondents said they are satisfied with online delivery or pickup, which may explain why respondents still buy 89% of their groceries in brick-and-mortar stores instead of online— though this drops to 84% for those age 18 to 34. Canadian grocers did a lot of business online over the past year, but to hold onto that business they need to improve their online offer, says Weintraub. They shouldn’t assume their online business will simply move back in-store when the pandemic is over. “They need to continue to innovate that online experience, and keep that profit online,” he says. Grocers shouldn’t be thinking about one replacing the other, they can be complementary to the overall shopper experience and done right can help grocers maintain the expanded basket they’ve enjoyed over the past year. “Find that balance between in-store and online, because there is a balance.” CG
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FOOD BYTES || Joel Gregoire
In unpredictable times, Canadians are focused on looking after their health
SOURCE: MINTEL GLOBAL NEW PRODUCTS DATABASE (GNPD)
Companies must tread carefully and not make claims that over-promise; focusing on how a product can support the body’s natural immunity offers a more nuanced approach
One of the most influential fables I was told as a kid was the story of The Three Little Pigs. It is, of course, a simple story with a clear lesson, which is to do your best to be prepared. While the story is meant to be a children's tale, it continues to hold relevance for adults, too. The importance of being prepared has perhaps never been more important than it is today. The uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought to the world shows how unpredictable things can become in short order. We were caught flat-footed as the pandemic took hold, and this drove home the importance of preparing for the unexpected. For many Canadians, this is true in terms of both their finances and their health. New viruses are emerging frequently and as the planet’s population grows, the potential for new zoonotic diseases—diseases transmitted from animals to humans—increases. This concern, along with COVID-19 mutating into different variants, means it
The launch of Kellogg's Special K Immune Support cereal in the U.K. is an example of how a prominent brand is putting immunity into focus
is exceedingly difficult to predict whether we’ll have to endure another pandemic in our lifetime. Faced with such uncertainty, the importance of looking after one’s own health has become more important. Immunity, for instance, is gaining attention. At Mintel, our research shows that Canadians are looking to boost their immunity through the food they eat. A third of Canadians say they have become stricter about making healthy choices for themselves since the pandemic began. And in a separate question, half of the Canadians we surveyed stated they are “more interested in boosting their immunity through food (than they were) a year ago” (as of September 2020). For consumers, making food and drink choices to boost their immunity is a part of being prepared for potential future events. Of course, outright immunity to COVID-19 or any virus cannot be provided by what we eat or drink; only vaccines can achieve such a thing. That said, much has been written about the impact of comorbidities (two or more medical conditions existing simultaneously) such as obesity and diabetes, and how they have led to worse outcomes among those who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. Preliminary studies also show that those who exercise regularly have fared better in the pandemic. How should makers of food and drink respond? Mintel’s global research team has identified multiple products enriched with vitamins, folic acids, minerals and probiotics to support people’s immune systems. Consumer packaged goods companies must tread carefully and not make claims that over- promise; focusing on how a product can support the body’s natural immunity offers a more nuanced approach. Suffice it to say, local regulatory considerations need to be considered with any product claims that are made. The launch of Kellogg’s Special K Immune Support cereal in the United Kingdom, picked up by Mintel in February 2020 (just before the pandemic) is an example of how this prominent brand put immunity into focus in this market. The packaging for this cereal that highlights “nutrients that matter” to “support normal function of the immune system” added further context to the positioning. We can’t know what the next decade, year or even week has in store for us. Regardless, if the events of 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it’s the importance of being prepared, particularly from the perspective of one’s personal health. In this regard, the lessons The Three Little Pigs taught us continue to have implications well into adulthood, particularly when we’re unsure of which way “the wind will blow.” CG
Joel Gregoire is associate director, Food & Drink at Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency. Based in Toronto, Joel researches and writes reports on Canada’s food and drink industry. @JoelDGregoire
June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 25
CONGRATULATIONS Julie Fluelling
for her leadership, passion and dedication to excellence in the grocery industry.
McCormick would like to congratulate all the winners of the 2021 Star Women in Grocery.
In honor of Canada Day, the French’s “Wear Your Pride” movement celebrates all things local. The idea of getting a ketchup stain on your shirt is – well, normally – mortifying. In this case though, it’s a sign of food well enjoyed, and even pride, especially if it’s French’s Ketchup made with 100% CANADIAN TOMATOES.
EATING IN CANADA || Kathy Perrotta
What about lunch?
Breakfast and dinner have been winners over the course of the pandemic—but what’s happening with the mid-day meal, and what’s the opportunity?
Fewer than two-thirds (60%) of daily respondents in our Ipsos FIVE daily consumption tracking report indicate that lunch is extremely or very important to their daily routines
IT WOULD BE A considerable understatement to say Canadians' consumption habits and needs have shifted over the past year. They’ve shifted dramatically and the data is clear: our shared COVID-19 experience has driven many changes in eating patterns including where we eat, who is present when we eat, and how we are sourcing and planning our meals, not to mention the amount of cooking and shopping we’re doing. Our needs and choices have been altered by our homebound circumstances. Some of these changes may be shorter term, while others will have staying power beyond the pandemic. One of the most significant changes has been our re-prioritization of meals. Canadians have returned to “three squares a day” or the eating pillars that are, once again, defining our daily routines. In fact, over the course of the pandemic consumers skipped 8% fewer meals than they did in pre-pandemic times. Breakfast has been a big winner in these new consumer eating patterns, while dinner, of course, remains the least-skipped and most prioritized meal of the day. But what about lunch? What changes have been key to redefining Canadians’ new mid-day meal habits? Here’s what our research is telling us: DE-PRIORITIZATION OF LUNCH Fewer than two-thirds (60%) of daily respondents in our Ipsos FIVE daily consumption tracking report indicate that lunch is extremely or very important to their daily routines. Compare that rating with the importance they place on dinner, which tracks at more than one in eight Canadians (84%) indicating it is extremely or very important to their daily routine.
FEWER SOCIAL OCCASIONS Undoubtedly, a key contributor to the decline in lunch's importance (-4%) is that we are dining solo more frequently. The “lunch for one” occasion has increased (2.2%) compared to the pre-pandemic period; this is driven by fewer school occasions and more working from home. DECLINE AT FOODSERVICE Homebound lunch habits have also proven to be challenging for foodservice operators trying to re-ignite traffic. Ipsos’ FSM (Foodservice Monitor) study details sector losses of more than 30% in both sales and traffic over the past year (April 2020 through March 2021). For the first time, the dinner traffic share was higher than at lunch. This dramatic shift was highly influenced, once again, by the work-from-home movement, which negatively impacted urban lunchtime traffic, while delivery and drive-through use positively impacted off-premise dinner traffic results. DECLINING DEMAND FOR PORTABILITY Key to shifting needs at lunch is the decline of the lunch box. In fact, carried-from-home lunch occasions have dropped by more than 40% versus the pre-pandemic era. Declining demand for portable solutions has negatively impacted eat rates of items such as sandwiches and granola bars (to name just a few). While convenience, hunger and taste remain point of entry spaces to winning at lunch, targeting needs to unique situations and time of day are also key. The role of both emotional and functional drivers such as comfort, energy, on-hand availability, value and balanced nutrition are all rising in importance. MORE ASSEMBLY LUNCH AND LEFTOVER LUNCH ITEMS Despite less prioritization of lunch, fewer foodservice occasions and the loss of sandwich relevance, almost 38 million Canadians consume three food and beverage items daily, culminating in a huge dollar opportunity for business. What Canadians are reaching for to fill the mid-day food gap reflects a vast and varied selection of food and beverage options (cheese, fresh fruit, vegetable dishes, salads, etc.). Successful lunch strategies need to be positioned to unique occasions, with distinct needs and choices such as easy assembly lunch for one, return to school social or leftover value fill. Though habits, situational dynamics and needs may have evolved over the past year, and with more change to come, there are rekindled or newly discovered behaviours and relationships that have defined a new “lunch love.” These factors serve as a silver lining and it will be key to integrate them into any strategies to win at lunch, particularly as we look ahead to the post-pandemic era. CG
Kathy Perrotta is a VP of Market Strategy at Ipsos Canada and leads the FIVE service, a daily diary tracking of what individuals ate and drank yesterday across all categories/brands, occasions and venues. Kathy.email@example.com
June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 27
BEHIND THE TRENDS || Matt Godinsky
Seizing the data opportunity
Expanded consumer datasets are allowing grocers to better manage inventories and woo consumers through more attractive, personalized offers
Brands that experiment with personalized offers are also more likely to see enhanced consumer engagement through loyalty programs
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a wide variety of changes for Canadian consumers and grocery retailers alike. Many existing trends within the industry have been accelerated by the pandemic, and retailers have had to quickly adapt to the rapidly shifting shopping habits of Canadian consumers. Some of the most prominent trends in the industry throughout the past 18 months include the explosive growth of grocery e-commerce, and with it the vast expansion of grocery delivery, as well as the many changes to the in-store shopping experience. While some trends such as social distancing and contactless shopping experiences are likely to fade away in time, one that is likely to become a permanent fixture in the grocery industry in years to come is the availability of vast quantities of consumer data, acquired primarily through the expansion of grocery e-commerce. While tracking and analyzing the purchasing habits of consumers is not a new concept in grocery retail, the explosive growth of e-commerce has greatly expanded the amount of data that is available to grocery retailers. This expanded access to data also comes at an opportune time; throughout the pandemic, consumer shopping habits have changed out of necessity as people adapt to a new way of life. Consumers are cooking at home more than ever before, and after more than a year of doing so, they are growing increasingly adventurous in their food preferences. After growing tired of purchasing cooking staples and preparing basic meals at home, consumers are expanding their horizons by more frequently purchasing exotic ingredients and preparing
more adventurous meals at home. While such trends are clear when reviewing inventory data in hindsight, the increasing availability of data from digital purchases is enabling grocery retailers to view and analyze emerging trends in near real-time. Having access to this data is allowing grocery retailers to better manage inventories and provide more attractive and personalized offers to consumers. Canadian grocery retailers have taken note of this opportunity and are working to expand their digital capabilities to better compete within an increasingly digital industry. One example of a brand seizing on this opportunity is the November 2020 acquisition of technology company Eyereturn Marketing by Loblaw Companies Limited. Loblaw hopes to use Eyereturn’s technology and expertise to enhance its marketing strategy through the use of targeted ad campaigns and personalized promotions. The initiative is also likely to increase consumer engagement by providing more attractive offers to consumers and strengthening the relationship between consumers and grocery retailers. Personalization is a growing trend in the retailing industry at large, and consumers are increasingly seeking out brands that they feel understand them and cater to their needs on a personalized level. Brands that experiment with personalized offers are also more likely to see enhanced consumer engagement through loyalty programs. This will, in turn, advance the cycle of consumer data acquisition, allowing grocery retailers to continue to build more informative insights into consumer behaviours and offer more attractive deals to shoppers. Grocery retailers are working harder than ever before to adapt to evolving consumer preferences. While there are still (legitimate) consumer concerns about privacy and data security, the increased digitalization of grocery retail is likely here to stay, and it will only continue to evolve in the future as grocery e-commerce continues to expand. Grocery retailers are also taking privacy concerns seriously, and they are working to ensure consumers that enhanced data availability and analysis will serve to enhance the shopping experience for consumers and retailers alike. While grocery retailers are almost certain to benefit from the additional insights into consumer behaviour, shoppers are also likely to benefit from a better shopping experience through products and offers that more closely meet their ever-evolving needs and preferences. CG
Matt Godinsky is an analyst at Euromonitor International, an independent provider of strategic market research. Euromonitor.com
June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 29
Sr Director Human Resources – International and Food Service
for her leadership, innovation and contribution to the grocery industry.
Conagra Brands would like to congratulate all the winners of the 2021 Star Women in Grocery!
Our vision is to have the most impactful, energized and inclusive culture in food. We have a passion for new ideas and a collaborative spirit, and harness the power of D&I to accelerate innovation and growth. We call it the Conagra Experience.
Apply for a career with us at careers.conagrabrands.ca
Star Women in Grocery
Introducing our 2021 Star Women in Grocery winners
By Carolyn Cooper, Shellee Fitzgerald, Rebecca Harris and Carol Neshevich While the jobs they do may vary—running the gamut from company president to department director to store manager—this year’s crop of Star Women in Grocery winners all have one important thing in common: excellence. Each of the 2021 winners has demonstrated strong leadership, innovative ideas, hard work, and resilience in a year where the pandemic has continued to present challenges for the grocery industry. These women have consistently risen to those challenges, shaping and improving their companies and the industry as whole—and for that, they deserve to be celebrated! In its 10th year, Canadian Grocer’s annual Star Women in Grocery Awards honours the achievements, influence, innovation and leadership of women in grocery. Nominated by their industry peers, winners were chosen by Canadian Grocer’s editors in one of three categories: senior-level stars, rising stars, and store-level stars. Read on to learn all about the 46 impressive Star Women of 2021.
Visit CanadianGrocer.com to read extended Q&As with our 2021 winners June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 31
Annie Rochefort VICE PRESIDENT CATEGORY FRESH PRODUCTS, AGROPUR DAIRY COOPERATIVE
Agropur is pleased to recognize Annie Rochefort for her inclusive leadership As the cofounder of Agropur’s LIFe (Inclusive Women’s Leadership) program, Annie has made it a personal mission to help women grow at Agropur. Throughout the pandemic, Annie and her team demonstrated impressive agility and played an important role in Agropur’s continued success as a Canadian industry leader
Senior Level Star Women in Grocery Tatiana Bossy
Co-Founder & President
SVP, Format Development and Real Estate WALMART CANADA
Best advice received? Obtaining breadth of experience as early as possible in your career will serve you well as you gain more senior roles. Don’t always think you need to move upwards in an organization— lateral changes can be far more enjoyable in the short term and beneficial in the long term. How did you get into the grocery business? By chance! I obtained my finance degree at the University of Manitoba and had just started my CMA, when I was hired by Westfair Foods as an internal auditor. After three years touring the stores and distribution centres, I decided retail looked pretty interesting and I joined the merchandising team in Calgary. I was hooked! What’s your leadership philosophy? I’ve had the good fortune to be on several high performing teams. I strive to create an environment where this is possible—through clear communication, being approachable, providing feedback and helping to remove barriers. Listen, ask questions, empathize and empower. If things don’t work out as planned, be there to support. Create a trusting relationship, and then enjoy watching people succeed. Favourite part of your job? I love working on initiatives that improve our customer proposition. Whether that is about driving down prices, or in my current role, improving the experience when our customers shop today, or by developing innovations for their omni shop in the future.
How did you get into the food business? I love food! While in university, I started taking food classes at night and then I met my partner in life, Bernard, who had a health food company that was before its time. He was healing people with food more than 30 years ago and I was interested in making his mission-driven business a commercial success. Career highlights/greatest achievements? My biggest career highlights are building a company and product lines that stand the test of time—building our new factory in 2013 allowed us to expand in the plant-dairy category and bring all these new amazing products to market, and building an amazing team that I’m excited to work with every day. However, I would say our greatest achievement is that we stood our ground and never sold out. At LeGrand, we truly believe food heals and eating real food is essential to fuel your journey (you should understand what every ingredient is on your food labels)! It’s extremely important to us that our products reflect that. What’s your leadership style/ philosophy? My last name is Bossy so what can I say! I’m intense and have tons of energy (I don’t even drink any caffeine). I show up every day with my A game and expect the same from those around me. I love and recognize excellence. I have a deep appreciation for people who have character, who are hardworking, curious and open.
SVP, Human Resources What are you proudest of in your work? I am most proud of the part I am able to play in helping people at all levels of the organization leverage their passion, purpose and strengths to reach their potential and achieve their goals.
Chief Financial Officer LONGO’S
How did you get into the grocery business? I have been very fortunate to have worked at wonderful companies (Purolator, Nike, Canadian Tire, Deloitte) where I learned a lot about logistics, retail, problem solving and agility. That set me up well for a call from the Longo’s team, whose CFO was retiring. It was a big decision as my husband and I were living in Calgary at the time, but it felt like a great way to weave together all that experience and knowledge, while learning about an entirely new-to-me industry. What’s your leadership style? Caring, collaborative and focusing on opportunities—hopefully with some laughter and lightness as part of the mix. We all work so hard and if this past year has taught us anything, it is that family and our lives outside of work are the core of who we are. While I missed seeing team members in person, the silver lining was the chance to get to know them a little better by meeting children, significant others, pets (and the occasional delivery person) over video calls. We all have a better sense of the whole person each of us brings to work each day now.
Career highlights? Having the honour of being the head of HR at tremendous companies in Canada like Kraft, Aramark and most recently Kruger Products, has definitely been the highlight of my career. Life is all about perspective and I feel that my greatest achievement has been to be able to realize my career aspirations without compromising any other important aspect of my life and being present in all that I do. Being a wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend means the world to me and I can honestly say I have not missed a special moment in my family’s life. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? The pandemic has been the most challenging experience I’ve ever had to lead through. For heads of HR, this was undeniably the moment to step forward and lead, and there were definitely some days when it felt like my hair was on fire. As the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19 grew, so did our commitment to being open, transparent, simplifying complexity, staying connected and communicating often, even when we didn’t have all the answers. Leading through this challenge has opened my mind and heart to all that we have and what matters most.
What is one of the highlights of your career? This past year, learning about the grocery industry during a pandemic while also working on a new partnership between Longo’s and Empire was exhilarating, all-consuming and so rewarding. Playing a role in setting up the next chapter for Longo’s growth has definitely been a chance to stretch and grow, which is what I love.
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Wendy Outram, Bimbo Canada’s North American Vice President of Procurement for her leadership, passion and commitment to the grocery industry and for being recognized as a Star Woman in Grocery!
Wendy is passionate about the quality of our products. She plays a key role in keeping our bakeries running by sourcing high-quality ingredients and packaging at the most competitive and sustainable prices, to ensure that customers and consumers have the best assortment of d delicious and nutritious baked goods and snacks in stores across the country.
Congratulations to all 2021 Star Women in Grocery!
Nourishing a Better World by building a sustainable, highly productive and deeply humane company. MD
Senior Level Star Women in Grocery Marie-France Gibson
VP, Corporate Brands
Head of Sustainability KRAFT HEINZ CANADA
Proudest career moments? My proudest moments have always been seeing the work I do come to life in market and the impact it has. In my current role, I am particularly proud of Kraft Heinz Canada’s decision to join the recently launched Canada Plastics Pact as a founding signatory to help eliminate plastic pollution and drive a circular economy in Canada. Favourite part of your job? I love that I am working on building a more sustainable Canada that I can feel good about leaving to my children. As a large food company, making even small changes to our packaging, resource use, transportation and products can have a big impact, so it makes everything I work on impactful and meaningful. I am inspired every day by our employees’ passion for sustainability, our consumers who are demanding sustainable options, and the collaboration taking place across the industry to drive sustainability in Canada. Best advice you’ve received? To own my own development, both personally and professionally. This means taking a proactive role in identifying the projects, opportunities, experiences and jobs that you want to build your toolkit and going after them. As one manager once told me, “No one else is going to do it for you!” It often requires you to step out of your comfort zone, put your hand up, and stretch yourself beyond what you might have thought was possible, but the growth you will experience will be worth it.
What’s your best quality? One of my strongest assets is my creativity. This skill is essential for product and brand development, as it is for problem solving and building financial models for new projects. It is complemented by my strong work ethic and resiliency when presenting new opportunities or projects to build a stronger retail offering to enhance our customer experience and build customer loyalty. Biggest career challenge? Having been in leadership positions for the last 30 years, my biggest challenge is maintaining a work/life balance. Making sure I spend time taking care of my family, while at the same time being on top of my projects and deadlines and being a good leader for my teams. I am happy to say I set a good example for my sons, at least that is what they tell me; I have the love and support of my partner; and the respect and support from my teams. What’s your leadership style? I would describe my leadership style as collaborative or synergistic. I rely on the expertise of my experienced and diverse team and that of our supplier partners to achieve our mutual corporate objectives. What do you like most about your job? I enjoy all the new and exciting challenges the retail business has to offer. From the constant product innovations, evolution of trends, and consumer needs and wants, to the leadership required to invest in new creative vendors to make consumers’ lives easier and more exciting—the inspirations are endless.
VP, Centre of Store Replenishment & Space Planning LOBLAW COMPANIES LTD.
How did you get into the grocery business? I went to school for industrial engineering and knew I wanted a career supporting a company as opposed to consulting work, which was common in my field. From there, it came down to pursuing retailers I had a vested interest in. I chose to start my career at Weston Bakeries because of its strong Canadian roots and my passion for food; from there, moving to Loblaw was the natural choice. Biggest career challenge? This past year challenged me in ways I’d never expected. There is no guidebook for how to operate during a pandemic; so many things were uncertain and we learned how to adapt in real-time. COVID-19 affected all aspects of our supply chain, including vendor supply and employee attendance, and caused extreme changes in demand patterns. Ultimately, succeeding under these circumstances has been a team effort. Identifying our priorities and what’s important to our customers helped guide us, and as the year progressed and we learned more, we were able to support our customers through recurring waves with more precision.
How did you get into the CPG business? I have to admit that it was not particularly planned! I studied genetics in university and my classmates invited me to a wine and cheese event hosted by P&G. At the event, I learned that P&G’s values were closely aligned with mine, especially in the area of diversity and inclusion. I felt that my contributions would be equally valued, I would have equal opportunities to advance and I would have an opportunity to make a difference. Proudest moments? I’m proud of P&G’s commitment to be a force for growth and good. As a business that is accountable to shareholders, we must deliver growth but we are equally committed to make a positive impact for our communities, for society, and for our planet. This year, as part of our Lead with Love campaign, P&G has committed to 2,021 acts of good in 2021. Recent actions include committing to distributing 70,000 P&G hygiene kits to Canadians in need including to First Nations communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID. Leadership style/philosophy? When I joined the company more than 30 years ago, the leader was supposed to have all the answers, but that has totally changed now. Any leader who thinks they do have all the answers will fail. The world is moving and changing too quickly for any one person to have all the answers. As leaders, we need to use our teams and resources, we need to have a growth mindset, be open to advice, and keep learning.
How would you describe your leadership style? In a word: collaborative. I try to be the type of leader I would want to work for, which is one who trusts their team, gives them latitude to learn and make decisions, and one who supports their growth and development.
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Congratulations to Geraldine Huse, President, P&G Canada For her passion to be a Force for Growth and Good! Since joining P&G Canada amidst COVID-19, Geraldine and her team has successfully served consumers and customers with P&G products and also made a positive impact to the community. Under her leadership, P&G has donated $4 million to help frontline workers and Canadians in need, committed $1.8 million to support racial equality and announced a carbon neutral goal by 2030.
Congratulations to all the Winners of the Star Women in Grocery Award!
Senior Level Star Women in Grocery Nelm Khangura
VP, Store and Colleague Solutions
VP, Human Resources LACTALIS CANADA
LOBLAW TECHNOLOGY, LOBLAW COMPANIES LTD.
SVP, Ecommerce SOBEYS
Best advice received? Before leaving Stanford from my MBA, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Oprah Winfrey and she provided perfectly-timed career advice. She reminded us that when faced with career path decisions, just focus on making the right next move, then the right next move after that. You don’t have to have it all planned out. It will often work out better than you could have planned it anyway. Another important reminder from that conversation is to not lose yourself in the process: who you are being is more important than what you are doing. Biggest challenge of your career? We launched Voilà by Sobeys to customers in the Greater Toronto Area in June 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. We had been working on the launch for two years (that’s how long it takes to build robotic automated warehouses!) and, all of a sudden, we had an opportunity to become an essential service to Canadians when they needed it most. We accelerated and adapted all elements of the plan, including: enhancing all safety protocols to keep customers and teammates safe, working with our supplier partners on revisions to our assortment, hiring more teammates and doubling our delivery fleet. What do you like most about your job? What I love about e-commerce is that there is so much room for growth. We are never standing still. We are constantly looking at data to ensure we continue to evolve, innovate, and stay “best in class.” Everyone on the team embraces this mentality. It is so inspiring to see!
How did you get into the grocery business? It was a combination of the Loblaw reputation and the energy of the retail industry that attracted me. With an undergrad in mechanical engineering, an MBA and experience in steel and manufacturing industries, I was ready for a change. I was presented with an opportunity at Loblaw and decided to take it. Fifteen-plus years later, the grocery business has provided me with amazing experiences to work on some truly transformational initiatives. Leadership style? I focus on collaboration, transparent communication and timely feedback to develop teams and people to be successful, today and in the future. I believe in fostering a positive and inclusive environment where everyone feels motivated, engaged, encouraged and empowered to do their best. Equally, I will always act with integrity, ownership and accountability and I expect the same from the leaders on my team. Best part of your job? The people I work with and the impact that we make. The people: Loblaw has so many amazing leaders. I enjoy working with and learning from them every day. We have large, complex problems to solve and we manage to have a lot of fun while doing so! And the impact: providing technology solutions for around 200,000 colleagues and 14 million customers daily, across Canada, provides me and my team with an opportunity to make an incredible impact.
What are you most proud of in your work? The development of my team. Seeing my team members develop, grow, thrive and shine makes me extremely proud. If I end up working for someone that grew through my leadership one day, what a gift that would be.
General Manager/CEO BEL CHEESE CANADA
Best part of your job? I love the autonomy that I have as the leader of a growing business unit, and I feel empowered by our global organization, which supports my decisions. I learn every day, and I develop new projects and ideas. I am also challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone by inspiring people. The culture of our organization is team spirit, energy, trust and solidarity. Biggest career challenge? In 2008, Bel Cheese Canada changed its business model, going from an approach with an external distributor to a fully autonomous model. This daring change led us to create a sales department with direct contact with our retailers, and the set-up of a supply chain function to distribute and deliver our products in record time. It was an undertaking like no other, which required agility, resilience and a change in leadership style. It made us stronger and closer to our partners and retailers, while developing the skills and engagement of our people. What are you proudest of in your work? When I took over the general manager’s position [at Bel], one month prior the COVID crisis, the challenge was to ensure business continuity while taking the lead of the business unit, and communicate my vision and ambition to engage the team in this new adventure. Now, more than a year later, we have reached historical sales on all of our brands. We have established our long-term goals and the teams are delivering more than ever, with passion and care.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? Facing a global pandemic after six months of being promoted to lead the HR team is no doubt the biggest challenge I have faced in my career. While it has been challenging, it has been extremely fulfilling and rewarding and I have grown tremendously as a leader. What is now interesting is what we will take forward following this period of unprecedented adaptation. What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest achievements? Being entrusted with the opportunity to lead and drive the HR strategy for Lactalis Canada after growing my career with the organization for 10 years is absolutely my greatest achievement. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in this role during the company’s period of growth and transformation. What is your leadership style/ philosophy? Simply put, I would say my philosophy is servant leadership. One of my favourite sayings to my team is “help me help you.” Bringing out the strengths of the great talent we have within the organization, empowering them to make decisions, opening pathways to bring out their potential, and paving the way for career growth is what I live for!
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Senior Level Star Women in Grocery Gabby Nobrega
KRAFT HEINZ CANADA
Penney McTaggart Cowan
VP, Marketing & Member Experiences Chair, Calgary Co-op Foundation CALGARY CO-OP
How did you get into the grocery business? I’m passionate about marketing and retail, and I love to eat, so grocery is the ideal place for me. I love everything about it. Calgary Co-op has always been attractive—a fantastic history, great brand, unique assortment and strong connections to the community. To be part of this organization is a privilege, and I am excited to contribute to its growth and to shape our future. Your best quality? Resilience. Not only being resilient, but also demonstrating resilience, which is always key to ensuring that others are also able to adapt. The past year has been all about resilience. We have had to make many changes and adapt in ways we never thought possible, all while working remotely, but we did it and we are emerging stronger for it. Biggest career highlights? I am most proud of the work we do to engage our members and the community to support those who need it the most. Being a co-operative, we have always had strong ties to the community and throughout the pandemic we engaged our team, the larger organization, and our members to support those most directly impacted by the pandemic. The results were stunning, and together with our members in 2020 we contributed $2.2 million in food and funds directly back to the communities we serve!
Career highlights/greatest achievements? I’m fortunate to have had several highlights both in and outside of the grocery industry, having worked on Fortune 100 brands, SMEs, not-for-profits and foundations across virtually every sector. On the grocery side, one of my greatest achievements is raising money for hungry children with the annual Toonies for Tummies campaign, in collaboration with many industry partners. I’m indebted to The Grocery Foundation, its board of directors and the community of companies that support this vital work. Another achievement is helping to create the Toronto chapter of the Network of Executive Toronto (NEW). Best part of your job? The scope. One day I’m working with a brand team on reinvigorating a key product or launching their newest innovation, the next day I’m helping an executive team and their legal counsel manage a crisis, which is followed by a celebrity red carpet event or influencer campaign. It’s never dull, and I’m able to leverage my strengths and interests across a range of sectors. Your best quality? It all boils down to big ideas and solving issues. A CEO in the CPG industry and former chair of FCPC (now FHCP) referred to me as an integrator: I can see the big picture inside out and move throughout the entire enterprise. Whether it’s executive coaching, internal/engagement-focused communications, or marketing communications, if you can see the big picture and pull the right levers, that’s when the magic happens.
VP, Brand & Innovation
VP, North American Procurement BIMBO CANADA
What makes you most proud? When I step back and watch my team shine. When those who you work with knock it out of the park, and they no longer need your guidance, that’s the most rewarding. I love developing our future leaders and am very proud of the culture we’ve developed. Biggest career challenge? The one that many of us face: how to balance it all. There’s times when I feel I can’t do it all, but I remind myself that I can’t do it all “right now.” The one great thing COVID has taught us about work is that we can work from anywhere. My team knows my approach—family and life outside work is important; face time in a physical office space is less important. Career highlights/greatest achievements? This past year has been a year of professional growth for me. I had been leading the procurement team in Canada for more than four years until fall 2020, when I worked with the leadership teams of Bimbo Canada and our sister company, Bimbo Bakeries USA, to develop plans to bring together the U.S. and Canada in a centralized North American Procurement organization. I’m very proud to be promoted to this role to lead our North American efforts. This is a significant challenge as we become a highly efficient shared-services organization, but a challenge I’m very proud to lead through.
How did you get into the CPG business? My parents would probably say that after age 10 they knew I was destined for a career in business when I (very confidently) pitched them a business case on the merits of “investing” in a Nintendo console for the family (true story). As I got older, my marketing classes in university typically got my best attendance records and wired me to dissect the strategy and creativity behind the work I was seeing in the world. I was always curious and wanted to have a hand in building brands that people connected with every day, so after graduating I set my sights on working in CPG. Biggest career challenge? Trying to drive transformation on the business during an unprecedented pandemic is one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced, but I am an optimist and I love a good challenge! Having the right combination of talent and partners around you who are passionate, resilient and big thinkers has been proof that even in the toughest of circumstances, anything is possible. Best part of your job? I think it’s a privilege to be able to drive creativity and growth on some of the most iconic brands in Canada, but it’s an even bigger win when you can do it surrounded by really smart, collaborative teammates who are full of passion and also share your desire to make big things happen. I’m so passionate about the work and seeing the results, but the people I work with make the ride a lot more fun.
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to Julie Dickson Olmstead, Dawn Haig and Mara Merlin for their influence, innovation and outstanding leadership at Save-On-Foods and in the grocery industry. Congratulations to all of the 2021 Star Women in Grocery Award winners.
Principal, Breakthrough Communications on being named a 2021 Star Women in Grocery Award winner.
Your dedication and passion for helping feed hungry Canadian children inspires us daily.
Senior Level Star Women in Grocery Annie Rochefort
VP Category – Fresh Products
President, Ice Cream Division NESTLÉ CANADA
How did you get into the CPG business? I studied food science at the University of Guelph and took a co-op position at Nestlé Canada. I never left! Career highlights/greatest achievements? I have had the honour to lead some incredible businesses at Nestlé, including infant nutrition, beverages and now ice cream. A big highlight for me has been the incredible growth of our ice cream business driven by consumerbased innovation, our strong retail partnerships and the strength of our iconic brands. With that growth, we have been able to secure more than $50 million in investment for our London, Ont. factory that is home to all of our ice cream manufacturing for Canada. That has meant additional employment opportunities, increased support for our local farming communities and increased purchasing of ingredients and packaging from more than 90 Canadian suppliers. We have also just announced an additional $41-million investment in another expansion, which I am super proud of—this will continue to support economic growth. Favourite part of your job? I love this industry! It’s fast paced and always challenging so there’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure. But what I enjoy the most is the opportunity to coach and mentor others and to help them to grow in their own professional and leadership journey. I’ve had the opportunity throughout my career to learn from the best, and now it gives me a lot of satisfaction to help other future leaders grow and succeed.
Career highlights? Most recently in the COVID context, my team and I managed to improve Agropur’s fluid business to make it more sustainable while demonstrating impressive agility during the pandemic. The fluid business, which includes Natrel brand products, represents close to half of Agropur’s business in Canada. I was fortunate enough to manage a remarkable cross-functional team, a group of dedicated people with different expertise working toward a common goal. This matrix environment allows for more agility and efficient alignment. It has helped us elevate our game to quickly respond to our customers and consumers’ needs within a chaotic period. Over the last 10 years at Agropur, I am also proud to have negotiated major accounts and established business strategies that helped drive sales. Favourite part of your job? I like to help people reach their highest potential and to see them grow. I had the chance to have excellent coaches along my professional life and my goal is to give that back to others. My role is to lead multifunctional teams, achieving targets and strengthening our business. My team is the most dedicated one and I really enjoy spending time with them every day. Best advice you’ve received? Where there is a will, there is a way! This is the advice I got from my parents, and I’m trying to pass it on to my kids and also my colleagues. Whatever mountain you face, you will find your path. Finally, I learned over time that we need to be bold, to believe and to be ourselves!
VP, Information Technology and Digital
Myriam Tremblay VP, Replenishment SOBEYS
Best advice received? “Take your time, Rome was not built in a day!” Be patient; this valuable advice was once given to me and it’s something I have to keep reminding myself! How did you get into the grocery business? A university friend saw my CV and referred me for a buyer’s position. I had an interview and got the job! I’ve been with Sobeys for 20 years now. Biggest challenge faced in your career? And how did you overcome it? I would say when we made the SAP [software] transition in Quebec, that was a pretty difficult time for me. I was not expressing that I was overwhelmed. I was working crazy hours with two small children (a two-year-old boy and a four-yearold girl) that I didn’t get to see much at the time. I got through that hectic period because of good friends who were working on the project with me. Despite the massive workload, we managed to have fun. I realized, however, during the first phase of the transition that asking for help and assistance makes one stronger. Although training new people could be very intense, once you have effective support, the less pressure you feel and more can be achieved.
Biggest career challenge? Supporting Farm Boy and our customers through the pandemic has been the biggest challenge of my career. At the start, all the teams worked together tirelessly through a whirlwind of critical requests to continue to provide the best and safest customer experience. In IT, we tech-enabled a traditional workforce to work from home or safely distanced, supported new operational requirements in retail stores and production sites, and launched an e-commerce service with a customer support centre in three weeks flat. We went on to support a year of highest retail store growth to date through the waves and challenges of the pandemic. This has been a challenge like no other, but also a most rewarding experience to see everyone rise to the occasion and innovate under unprecedented circumstances. Best advice received? Perfection gets in the way of progress. My time at Farm Boy has taught me not to be afraid to trust my judgement and make decisions with the best information available at the time, rather than wait for things to be perfect—which they never are. Proudest career moments? When I joined Farm Boy there was no IT project delivery team. Working together we built up a strong, crossfunctional team that complements the existing talent and together delivers the next generation of IT services. The moments I feel most professional pride are when I get to see the team flowing in unison, delivering value and watching individuals reach new heights.
What do you like most about your job? Replenishment is key to the supply chain. I very much appreciate the collaboration and the interaction with all stakeholders of the supply chain, from distribution centres, merchandising, operations to suppliers. Furthermore, I have an amazing team that I can rely on and that can count on me as well. “One for all and all for one” is my motto.
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Empire is proud to recognize our Star Women! Congratulations and thank you to Jenna, Courtney, Sheri, Sarah, Vicki, Myriam and Sandra from all 134,000 of your teammates at Empire. We are so proud of your dedication to driving innovation, inclusivity and excellence at Empire and in the Canadian grocery retail industry.
Jenna Benn Store Manager, Farm Boy College & Bay - Toronto, ON Jenna is a true brand ambassador for Farm Boy, ensuring her team understands and shares the importance of the Banner’s farm-to-table creed with their dedicated and growing customer base. Even through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jenna’s commitment to the community and her team led to a successful launch of the first Farm Boy location in downtown Toronto. She has also proven to be a great mentor within the business and believes in sharing her knowledge in the industry to help many talented teammates pursue leadership opportunities.
Courtney Burokas Store Manager, Safeway Lindenridge - Winnipeg, MB Store leaders across Canada have had to deal with unprecedented circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtney Burokas is certainly no exception, leading the Safeway Lindenridge location in Winnipeg with passion and dedication to her team’s well-being, while maintaining evolving COVID-19 safety precautions to the appreciation of customers in the Linden Ridge community. She is supportive in the growth of women through her role in the regional Sobeys Inc. Women’s Inclusion Network, representing Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Northern Ontario. Always one to pay it forward, Courtney has also supported the development of numerous Assistant Managers and Management Trainees, helping to further their careers.
Sheri Evans Local Development Manager, Ontario - Mississauga, ON Sheri is an experienced specialist with a long, successful history working in the retail industry. As Local Development Manager, she is the ‘face to local’ in Ontario for Sobeys Inc. and routinely delivers a high level of service and support to local suppliers. During a year when the supply chain experience was incredibly strained, the relationships Sheri fostered coupled with her support for local suppliers, was critical. Sheri also invests a great deal of her personal time to help educate the industry on the importance of local suppliers, enhance sustainability opportunities for local businesses, and support the growth of women in grocery.
Sarah Joyce Senior Vice President, Ecommerce - Mississauga, ON As Senior Vice President, Ecommerce at Empire, Sarah has spurred transformational change at the Company since her tenure began in 2018 by helping to revolutionize the face of online grocery home delivery in Canada. With a disciplined focus, Sarah oversaw the implementation of U.K.-based Ocado Group’s cutting-edge technology to develop Voilà by Sobeys, Empire’s unique ecommerce platform, delivering a superior, scalable ecommerce solution completely new to the Canadian grocery market. Sarah took Voilà from conception to execution, growing from a team of one into a cross-functional team of 650 employees. Thanks to Sarah’s efforts, Empire delivers the most exceptional online shopping and home delivery experience available in Canada.
Vicki Kinsella Store Manager, Sobeys Howley Estates - St. John’s, NL Known for her friendliness, community spirit and positivity, Vicki is a proven leader at Sobeys Howley Estates. Vicki’s deep knowledge of the Sobeys business makes her a natural teacher; her instruction is frequently sought-out by others and has guided the careers of multiple Store Managers/Department Managers in training while ensuring her own team is also mentored and supported. Vicki and her team do everything they can to support the local community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vicki’s ‘can-do’ attitude and empathy for others has created an environment where everyone is driven to learn, develop and succeed.
Myriam Tremblay Vice President, Replenishment - Montreal, QC Myriam is a visionary leader with an ability to deliver on long-term strategic plans while executing against short-term priorities. As Vice President of Replenishment at Sobeys Inc., Myriam plays a critical role in managing supplier relations and continuously improving the supply chain across the organization. Through Myriam’s leadership, strong supplier relationships and ability to work collaboratively with supplier and distribution partners, Sobeys Inc. was able to keep shelves stocked through the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic posed. Myriam is also passionate about the value of mentorship. One of her greatest leadership qualities is her investment in developing her team, identifying growth opportunities for teammates and enabling them to thrive in their roles.
Sandra Veledar Vice President, Information Technology & Digital, Farm Boy - Ottawa, ON As Vice President of IT and Digital, Sandra has been instrumental in scaling Farm Boy’s IT operations and service delivery to meet the rapidly growing needs of the business. She helped launch Farm Boy’s ecommerce service, Fresh Online, and led the execution of the Company’s digital strategy to ensure it remained innovative and efficient. Sandra is an admirable leader who has grown the IT and Digital departments to be more diverse and inclusive. Her positive attitude, work ethic and enthusiasm for the industry are infectious and foundational to her team’s success. Sandra is also known for her openness, honesty and approachability. She has the keen ability to mentor and support anyone in the business needing assistance.
Longo’s would like to recognize
Heather Pereira, SARAH RoMano & DEB CRAVEN for their dedication, leadership and voglia in the grocery industry.
Congratulations on your 2021 Star woMen awards! 5377535 - 2021 Star Women in Grocery Ad.indd 1
2021-06-10 12:21 PM
Congratulations SUZY MAHARAJ! Sr. Finance Manager, The Clorox Company
2021 AWARD WINNER
Rising Star Women in Grocery Lori Bodden
Julie Dickson Olmstead
LOBLAW TECHNOLOGY, LOBLAW COMPANIES LTD.
Senior Director, Store Solutions Delivery
Director of Sales – Western Canada A. LASSONDE
What are you proudest of in your work? I love working with crossfunctional teams to make ideas reality. It takes a lot of departments to make things happen: marketing, trade, category management. Working with customers to then execute these plans is so rewarding. It’s pretty cool to see something in a store that you have made happen.
How did you get into the grocery business? As they say, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. When I was 18 years old, I was searching for a summer job and my father, who worked for Loblaw as a truck driver, was able to connect me to an exciting role within the Chatham, Ont. warehouse. The overnight role in the shipping and receiving office was truly an insightful experience for me, as I learned to balance receiving documents, input inventory into legacy systems, and run overnight jobs in the computer rooms. It became that defining role that started my legacy here with Loblaw.
Your best quality? Building lasting relationships within the industry has always been important to me and something that I work hard to maintain. I love going to industry events and seeing people I have met and worked with along the way. Treating everyone with respect, even though you may not always be aligned, is important to maintain these relationships.
Biggest career highlights? I am happy to share that my biggest career highlight has been my current role, being the senior director of store solutions for Loblaw Technology. This role has granted me the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing people I have ever met while leading crucial initiatives to their fullest success. But what’s really brought everything together to make this the greatest achievement is the relationships that have been built while in this role, resulting in winning the Loblaw Technology Most Collaborative Team Award for two years in a row.
What do you like most about your job? I love leading and inspiring people. It’s so fun working with my team to execute plans from the account level as well as the retail level. Bouncing around ideas and helping with issues drives me and my team to constantly strive to achieve our goals.
Best part of your job? There are way too many factors that make me love my job, but at the end of the day it’s that I get to work with people and solutions that matter to me. Developing a project from concept to implementation, then watching it change lives, is the best feeling in the world.
Best career advice you’ve ever received? My grandpa was a vicepresident of sales at a large steel company. When I was about to start my career, I asked him if he had any tips for me. He said to show respect to all, know your stuff, always dress one level higher than is required, and it’s better to be an hour early versus five minutes late. I still try to live up to this advice more than 20 years later.
Managing Director, Public Affairs and Corporate Responsibility
How did you get into the grocery business? I was hired as a service clerk (pushing buggies and packing groceries) at my local Overwaitea Foods store a month before I graduated from high school in 1988, and I’ve basically been in the business ever since.
Trade Marketing Manager LACTALIS CANADA
Career highlights/greatest achievements? In my previous role, I was responsible for driving co-pack and private label new business development with all Canadian customers across the entire Lactalis manufacturing portfolio of cheese, tablespreads, fluid and cultured products. When I assumed the role in 2016, it was the start of the private label department with myself as the sole member. Opportunity was endless and I set out to evolve Lactalis from a transactional private-label partner to a strategic one with our customers. Over three years, I was able to secure multiple new businesses, deliver an average growth contribution of $47 million in turnover annually and launch more than 120 new products to the Canadian market. Favourite part of your job? I love the ability to play a key role in creating the vision for our business and implementing the stepping stones to get there. I’m fortunate to work with amazing quality products and brands like Astro, Siggi’s and Stonyfield, but with growing downward pressures on manufacturing and difficulties in the grocery landscape, it’s extremely challenging to build a thriving business for the long term. Finding ways to overcome these challenges brings opportunity for growth and development every single day.
Proudest career moments? I have been so privileged to work on so many fantastic projects over my career and I am always so proud of how quickly our company can mobilize to achieve a goal. One recent example was when I realized that we had hit our stated five-year goal of reducing food waste by 50% within six months of announcing it. We committed to redirecting the surplus food to best and highest use … and along the way, we have provided for more than 20 million donated meals to people in need; and provided ongoing support to more than 1,100 local charities and hundreds of small family farms. I was also very proud and honoured to be invited to be part of the National Food Policy Advisory Council earlier this year. What is the best career advice you've ever received? There are three pieces of advice that have guided me: 1) You should be excited to get up and go to work every day. If you aren’t, you’re in the wrong job; 2) Go big or go home; and 3) Be part of the solution.
What is your best quality? My positive outlook. It is so important to bring a positive mindset to the workplace so that I can be the best version of myself and bring the best out in others.
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for their leadership, innovation and commitment to the grocery industry. We see your greatness!
S E N I O R L E V E L S TA R
R I S I N G S TA R
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, HUMAN RESOURCES
CORPORATE DIRECTOR, MARKETING, PAPER TOWELS & NAPKINS
As a proud sponsor, Kruger Products congratulates all of this year’s Star Women in Grocery. www.krugerproducts.ca
©2021 and ® Registered and TM Trademarks of Kruger Products L.P. | ®’ Kimberly-Clark registered trademark used under license.
Rising Star Women in Grocery Sheri Evans
Local Development Manager, Ontario Field Merchandising
The Canadian Grocer team congratulates all of the 2021 Star Women
Greatest career achievement? Working with and building relationships with small local suppliers, guiding and nurturing them to be ready for retail and watching them grow and succeed. It is amazing to receive a phone call from a supplier celebrating the launch of their product in our stores or hearing their excitement behind their newest creation. I have helped create an environment of trust and enablement that is very rewarding. This year for International Women’s Day, I championed and curated the launch of our Fab Female Local Entrepreneur Box to celebrate, elevate and highlight some of our Female Entrepreneurs from Ontario. This was an amazing experience to work alongside these incredible women and come together to create something so incredible for our customers. Biggest challenge faced in your career? My biggest challenge was becoming a grocery manager and always thinking I had to prove myself and work harder than anyone else. Most grocery managers were male and, in fact, the department was predominately male. Over time, I proved I was capable; I had built a strong team and began to understand success is not measured by one person but the entire team and I was the driver behind this! What do you like most about your job? The ability to bring ideas to life, support and mentor like-minded people and local entrepreneurs all while making a positive impact on our economy.
Director, Supply Chain Canada Commercial
North American Customer Service Manager MCCORMICK & COMPANY
Your best quality? My best quality is probably problem solving. I enjoy figuring out why issues are happening, identifying root causes and streamlining processes. I think that’s why I’ve found success in supply chain and project management roles—I have a continuous improvement mindset, and problem-solving feeds right into that. What are you proudest about in your work? The work I do to increase awareness and employee engagement with diversity and inclusion. I have the privilege of being the co-chair of our Canadian Diversity and Inclusion Committee (CanDi), which has created many initiatives to support movements such as Black Lives Matter, and the emphasis on women in leadership roles. Our vision is to enrich the lives of McCormick employees at home and at work through awareness and engagement initiatives that celebrate all ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations.
How did you get into the food business? My father owned and operated a deli and meat shop. I grew up in the business and I saw how he worked and how he managed all aspects of the business. From a very young age, I understood the importance of freshness, logistics and income generation. I was always passionate about the industry and being a part of it, and I am extremely grateful for the way my career has evolved. Favourite part of your job? My favourite part is that it is constantly evolving. There is never a dull moment or a chance to get bored, especially if you take into account the past year. Many of us were forced to immediately adjust our ways of working, both within our organization and with all of our partners as we managed through the impacts of COVID-19. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the pace of change this past year. As challenging as it was and still is, it has also brought an intense degree of learning and that’s what I love most. The speed of change in our industry and within the supply chain is quite astonishing, which means you’re continually acquiring new skills. Your best quality? I would say my best quality is my positivity. I genuinely enjoy working and have always been excited to get up and go. I try to bring that energy to my team every day.
Best part of your job? The people I work with. McCormick has such an inclusive culture and even though my background was not in CPG [when I joined the company], I felt so welcome right from the beginning. In my current role as North American customer service manager, every day is different, which I really enjoy. Especially as we continue to navigate the pandemic, nothing is predictable so there is opportunity to learn and improve each and every day.
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2021 We are proud to celebrate the hard work and dedication of these three strong leaders who drove industry changing solutions for our colleagues and customers — to help Canadians Live Life Well®. Congratulations to all the Canadian Grocers’ Star Women in Grocery esteemed winners this year!
Wendy Hui VP, Centre of Store Replenishment & Space Planning
Star Women in Grocery
Nelm Khangura VP, Store & Colleague Solutions
Lori Bodden Senior Director, Store Solutions
Michelle Blair Store Manager, Metro
is proud to recognize four of its team members for their leadership, innovation, dedication and contribution to the grocery industry.
Marie-France Gibson Vice President, Corporate Brands
Stéphanie Marando Merchandising Director, Grocery, Super C
Jennifer Newton Store Manager, Food Basics
Congratulations to all the winners of Canadian Grocers’ Star Women in Grocery Awards!
Rising Star Women in Grocery Danika Johansen
Director of eCommerce and Emerging Channels
Sr. Finance Manager, Forecasting & Business Analysis – Specialty/npc/vms
Christine Honeybrown Director of Category Sales Development, Retail Sales MAPLE LEAF FOODS
How did you get into the CPG business? I graduated with an electrical and biomedical engineering degree. In order to get to know myself better, I took some time travelling and working on farms in Australia, which I loved. In 2009 I made my way back home, and Nielsen took a chance on me because of my engineering background, and that was my first introduction to the CPG industry. Three years later I joined Maple Leaf Foods, where I have been ever since. Best career advice you’ve ever received? When I was promoted to director, I struggled with imposter syndrome. Around the three-month mark, a vice-president who has always been very supportive took me out to lunch to see how I was doing. When I shared my headspace with him, he listened patiently, and when I finished, he said simply, “You were promoted because of what you have already brought to the table. Be yourself, and trust the team that promoted you to be smart enough to know what the implications of your skill set are.” I was promoted to be me—it may seem obvious to others, but it was empowering for me. What is the best part of your job? The people. Maple Leaf is a fastpaced, challenging environment, but I can look across levels, teams and departments and there are good people who I truly enjoy working with. In my current role, I get to work with and learn from so many of them.
Career highlights/greatest achievements? My greatest career highlight has been leading the Dove masterbrand for Canada. Managing Dove is a true privilege: the brand is synonymous with purpose. It was a career highlight to be given the responsibility to grow a worldrenowned brand that not only says the right thing, but does the right thing. I loved being able to see the purpose come to life, leading a Dove Self Esteem Program through our employee-led volunteer program for school-aged children. It was a career highlight to grow both sales and market share for Dove, all while reinforcing the brand’s purpose. Biggest challenge faced in your career? Learning to embed more calculated risk-taking into my work. Leading e-commerce for Unilever, I am challenged each day to think differently, question traditional ways of working, and invest in new proof-of-concepts that could lead to significant future growth. I have to make decisions with much less information than I would have in other business functions, and it often feels uncomfortable. Almost a year into this role, I am finally starting to feel comfortable with feeling uncomfortable! What is your best quality? I always try to consider other peoples’ views. I try to approach challenges and decisions with empathy for individuals first, and be flexible in my own understanding and preconceived notion of problems that I may face. This quality has led to a high level of trust with the teams and cross-functional partners that I work with.
THE CLOROX COMPANY OF CANADA
Kristina Koprivica Corporate Director, Marketing KRUGER PRODUCTS
What are you proudest of in your work? I have always enjoyed working with brands and products that fulfil an everyday need or solve an everyday problem for consumers, and I’m proud to work in this industry. CPG and grocery are key parts of our lives. When you work in CPG, no shopping experience is ever just “shopping,” and even in my personal life I am always on the lookout for incredible displays, category progress and updates, new products and packaging and more. Your eyes are always peeled. Your best quality? Everything starts with my passion and drive. I’m very proud of those two qualities that fuel the work that I do every day— they inform all parts of the job and make me the person I am. Best career advice you’ve ever received? To follow my intuition. If something doesn’t seem right, chances are it’s not. It took me a while to fully embrace it, and I still find myself in situations where I question my gut. But I do believe that curiosity and human intuition should always inform final insights, even in the most data-driven organizations. Intuitive thinking may just be the secret to the next marketing breakthrough.
Career highlights/greatest achievements? Over the course of my 11 years at Clorox, I have now worked on every brand and segment in our extensive portfolio. Being able to successfully transition from several financial roles, from consolidation to reporting; working with the various business teams on different product categories and brands; and working with so many great leaders and team members has been very rewarding. I love a challenge and I’m very passionate about what I do, whether it is a small initiative or a major groundbreaking project. Best part of your job? The opportunity to have a voice and influence in decision-making, whether it’s advising on strategy, new product launches to meet the needs of the Canadian consumer or leading a capital expansion project to expand capacity at our local Glad plant in Orangeville, Ont. My role allows me to think strategically, looking at internal customers as well as the external end-consumer. I thoroughly enjoy working with cross-functional teams and my global colleagues. Best advice you’ve received? “The mature mind does not rail at the inevitable, it merely adjusts itself.” Change is inevitable, and we can embrace the change and adapt. This has served me well and I constantly challenge the status quo, looking for improvements, cost savings and reimagining new ways of working.
Favourite part of your job? My team. There is no replacement for a great team and there is no way to make up for not having one. Working for an amazing company and great brands is that much better when you have a team of incredible people around you.
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Nestlé Canada recognizes and thanks:
Business Executive Officer, Ice Cream Nestlé Canada Inc.
Senior Level Star
Congratulations, Jayne on your Star Women in Grocery Award! Proudly guided by our values rooted in respect, and our commitment to enhancing female empowerment.
Rising Star Women in Grocery Theresa Ijeoma Opurum
Director, Human Resources – Store Operations
Merchandising Director – Grocery SUPER C/METRO
Greatest achievements? I have led different projects and have a list of achievements that I’m proud of. Included among them are the sellthrough of seasonal confectionery at the McMahon warehouse (Metro’s pharmacy distribution arm) during the first few months of a SAP implementation. All in-andout products were purchased and shipped out completely to stores, leaving the inventory at the McMahon warehouse exactly on target. I have also developed, along with IT, a business tool that helped facilitate all distribution to stores. And having managed dairy products throughout the years, I generated the largest growth in sales and in revenue year over year and managed to bring up the refrigerated grocery ratio to 27% of total grocery sales. Proudest career moment? I have just recently gone through my proudest career moment: I got promoted to merchandising director for the grocery department at Super C. I had been longing for this position for a while, and I count myself very lucky to have accomplished it. Favourite part of your job? Being a foodie, I can relate to the products being sold on shelves. We work every day on making assortment and pricing suit our customer’s needs. I love that merchandising is very fast paced, and that we need to be quick on our feet to react to market trends. The food industry is also essential, and volume driven, and it’s fun to get weekly reports that help us better understand and analyze results.
Favourite part of your job? I’ve always considered myself to be creative—I’m intrigued by why things work the way they do and how I can make them better regardless of existing conventions. What I love most about my job is the creativity needed to resolve customer issues and that I get to leverage technology to design customer experiences that are impactful, consistent and considerate. Career highlights/greatest achievements? One key highlight would be identifying an opportunity for PepsiCo to become more agile in the way we interacted with our customers, which helped increase our service levels, while leveraging technology to automate some of our business processes. As I continue to drive PepsiCo’s technology agenda, I also rolled out the Robotic Process Automation initiative, which decreased the amount of time spent on recurring tasks while also decreasing error rates. Another key highlight would be winning two PepsiCo global awards earlier this year. The first was the Chairman’s Winning with Purpose Award for teaching a STEM camp to 55 kids in Grades 2 to 12 and the second was The Harvey C. Russell Award for creating strategic and tactical plans to advance PepsiCo’s racial equality journey through MOSAIC, our Black employee resource group. Your best quality? I’m a community builder at heart. I believe my best quality is being able to inspire trust and action, allowing different people to come together in a safe space to grow.
Your best quality? I think it’s important to help local businesses and give them guidance. As a buyer, I see a lot of new products made with passion and care by local people. They often have a great product, but struggle with getting customers to try it. Working in retail, particularly in a small store where I have a more intimate customer experience, gives me the unique opportunity to really understand what customers are after and share that with local producers. Greatest achievements? Being part of the new store opening for Summerhill was a big achievement for me. I had never opened a new store, and didn’t really know what to expect when the project began. The number of problems that we had to resolve was quite astounding; challenges that had to be overcome included everything from the inability to get new products into the store because of COVID-related shortages, to setting up and organizing the store, to building the team for the store—and it was incredibly rewarding when we overcame those challenges. It was a personal high for me to experience that first opening day, and the response from the community was exceptionally positive.
How did you get into the grocery business? As a new graduate, I was eager to begin working full time. I was blessed to be given an entry-level role in HR at a national grocery company. I met many wonderful people and thoroughly enjoyed travelling all over Southern Ontario meeting our store teams. My passion for retail, and specifically grocery retail, grew quickly—and when an opportunity with Longo’s arose, I was very excited to continue my career path with a different organization, but still focused on grocery retail. Best advice you’ve ever received? To ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” It’s easy to get caught up in focusing on negative outcomes and worrying about “what ifs.” I’ve seen and experienced missed opportunities when we spend time overthinking things. During a period of formal coaching, my coach would often encourage me to think about “what’s the worst that could happen?” … if something doesn’t go as planned, be committed to learning from it—showing the courage to make the attempt means you are growing. Asking “what’s the worst that could happen?” has certainly helped me refocus and take some chances. Leadership style? Being in service to my team and others is something that is very important to me. I believe my role is to support and elevate those I interact with. I also think, now more than ever, a leader’s purpose is to be truly aware of how people are doing and how we as leaders can support them.
Best part of your job? I’ve always been passionate about food and new products, and so being able to do that for my career is certainly wonderful. I’m the kind of person that spends a good chunk of their weekends going to other grocery stores just because I like to explore new food products. Being able to do that for my career as well is very rewarding.
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Christine Honeybrown Director, Category Sales Development
Maple Leaf Foods is proud to recognize Christine Honeybrown for her passion, leadership and commitment to the grocery industry. Maple Leaf Foods embraces a strong, values-based culture, where dedicated employees take pride in doing what’s right for our consumers, our customers and our communities. Christine exempliﬁes each of our Leadership Values at Maple Leaf, but in particular: High Performance, Do What’s Right, and Transparency and Humility. Congratulations to Christine and to all winners of the Canadian Grocers’ Star Women in Grocery Awards!
Rising & Store Level Star Women in Grocery Lindsey Williams
Senior Director, Human Resources, International and U.S. Food Service
Store Manager, Metro, Bowmanville, Ont. METRO
National Sales Director COCA-COLA CANADA
Career highlights/greatest achievements? Consistently delivering on our company objectives over the years, while building a strong industry network and long-term partnerships is certainly my proudest achievement. Most recently, in 2020, I was able to deliver results that were well ahead of the company, despite a challenging year with the disruptions of COVID. While I am results-oriented and focused on growing our joint businesses, I have a passion for building high-performing teams—and those two are absolutely connected! I’m a champion of diversity, including diversity of thought, experience and background. The talent of the team that surrounds me continues to inspire me day after day. Your best quality? Authentic leadership is part of who I am and what my values are. I strive to build honest relationships, show transparency, be open and stay true to who I am, while being respectful of others. What is the best advice you’ve received? ”The only one who stops you is yourself. Go for it!” I believe we can achieve anything we want with hard work, passion, and being purposeful in our choices. Women tend to wait to be fully ready before raising their hands, sharing opinions, or expressing the desire for a promotion. A turning point earlier in my career was when I realized how hard I was on myself, and how that was slowing my ability to grow and explore my full potential. I learned to better trust myself and accept that it is okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from it!
What are you proudest of in your work? I’m proud of how our leadership team and entire organization pulled together and managed through all the unexpected challenges brought on by the pandemic. By focusing on our people first, we were able to achieve our goals. Both individually and collectively, we demonstrated agility and were able to pivot our focus as required to continue servicing our customers’ needs, all while keeping our people safe and healthy. Biggest challenge faced in your career? There have been many challenges in my career, from moving to a new country, to leading the organization through significant organizational change, to successfully navigating a team through the pandemic, all while keeping our folks safe, engaged and connected. I think one of my biggest strengths is the ability to apply a growth mindset and focus on turning challenges into opportunities. I have learned from each and every “challenge” that has come my way and remain focused on applying these learnings for the future. Favourite part of your job? I’m passionate about leading change by building capacity through people. I’m the most energized when I can provide challenging assignments to grow and empower our team. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing a team member grow their skills and thrive.
Store Manager, College and Bay, Toronto FARM BOY
How did you get into the grocery business? My first job at 15 was at A&P as a courtesy clerk pushing carts and helping bag groceries. I always dreamed of having my photo at the front of the store. I strayed to the world of clothing for a while but was swayed back with Farm Boy’s delicious ways and great opportunities to grow. What are you proudest of in your work? I’m most proud of the people I mentor and help grow. It’s so exciting to hire someone and have them reach out to you to share their accomplishments. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? COVID. I’ve been a manager for over 15 years, and the past year has been the hardest yet. It has also helped me grow the most. Being a woman [in this industry] has also sometimes proved to be difficult, but nothing gives me more pleasure than changing opinions one at a time. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s not the mistakes that define you, but how you learn and how you correct them.
How did you get into the grocery business? I’ve been with the Metro family since 1992 and my first job was at a Save-A-Centre location. I was 15 and hired as a part-time cashier and continued working that job throughout college. When I completed college, I was asked to help at a new store opening to train cashiers and front-end staff, and from that experience things really just took off. While I was training at the opening, I was approached about an assistant manager position. It’s funny how things work out because it definitely was not my plan, but I can say I have been very lucky to have worked for the same company and continue to progress with Metro throughout my career. Career highlights/greatest accomplishments? Over the years, I have had many career highlights, from becoming a store manager in 2007 to winning various merchandising competitions, to leading a team to win the Platinum Award for Foodland Ontario eight years in a row. In 2017, one of my accomplishments was winning a customer service excellence award at our store managers conference, which was a pretty amazing experience as I believe that is the heart of what drives this business. Best advice? Stay positive. This is something that I continue to preach and pass onto others including my own children. It is easy to get caught up and take the other path in certain situations, but if you can stay positive in any situation I really do believe you win all around.
Career highlight? Opening the door and greeting my first customer at the College and Bay location was an amazing moment I will never forget. All my hard work and dedication over the years has brought me to where I want to be.
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Calgary Co-op would like to recognize Penney McTaggart Cowan VP, Marketing & Member Experiences
We appreciate your dedication to delivering exceptional customer experiences, products and services. Your commitment is making a positive impact on our business, people and the communities we serve.
Congratulations on your Star Women in Grocery Award!
MELANIE RIOUX Senior Sales Director
Store Level Star Women in Grocery Dawn Haig
Store Manager, Save-On-Foods Cottonwood, Chilliwack, B.C.
PEMBERTON VALLEY SUPERMARKET
How did you get into the grocery business? My mother worked for Overwaitea Food Group (Save-OnFoods) for over 20 years, so it only seemed natural to follow in her footsteps and start my first job out of high school in a grocery store.
Store Manager, Lindenridge Safeway, Winnipeg SOBEYS
What are you proudest of in of your work? Being a young female in the industry, I am most proud of the personal growth and selfconfidence that I have gained over the years. I have been managing and leading people since my early 20s, which forced me to grow up quickly. If I hadn’t chosen this career I’m not sure I would have developed into the confident woman that I am today. Biggest challenge faced in your career? Being a retail manager throughout a pandemic has been a challenge, to say the least. With all of the hurdles we’ve had to cross over the last year, the Lindenridge team has come out stronger than ever thanks to their camaraderie, strength and resilience. Best career advice you’ve ever received? The best career advice I’ve received is that no matter how big, make your goals and aspirations known. Say yes to opportunities that get you out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to put your hand up. Favourite part of your job? I enjoy motivating people and encouraging them to see their full potential. A big part of my job is to be a mentor to those looking to advance their career within the company. I have had so many great mentors who have helped me along the way and I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish my goals without their support. Now it’s my turn to pay it forward.
What’s your proudest career moment? It would have to be the ability to lead the team in our Mission, B.C. location through a four-year journey that created a big financial turnaround, improved morale and finally had the store removed from quarterly review. I led the team through an extensive remodel, and brought the team together to improve the store’s offerings and operations to be competitive in the marketplace [as it was] up against the opening of a new competitor in the community. Best advice you’ve received? Listen more and talk less. Always have respect for others and have integrity in whatever is being asked of you. Career highlights? The day Darrell Jones called to promote me to store manager in 2015 was definitely a major highlight. I also take a lot of pride in participating in community support events. My team and I have helped many local schools, organizations and groups throughout the Fraser Valley. Favourite part of your job? To put it simply, helping people—whether it’s customers, team members or vendors. I love having the ability to create a solution to a problem, and having a platform to always improve.
Store Manager, Sobeys Howley Estates, St John’s SOBEYS
What are you proudest of in your work? I take great pride in being selected as a store manager trainer. It warms my heart to see the people that I have had a hand in training over the years learn, grow and succeed in their career. Best career advice you’ve ever received? When you’re leading a team it’s important to remember that your decisions are not understood by all. You will be judged, so don’t take things personally, it’s business. Career highlights/greatest achievements? When I was promoted to store manager and took ownership of my store. Another highlight is that I manage 150-plus employees and that I am looked at as a leader, mentor, delegator, communicator, developer and so much more. I love going to work every day as there are never two days that look alike, and there are always challenges. Favourite part of your job? When I get to spend my time on the sales floor interacting with both customers and employees. I enjoy getting to know my people and focus on their strengths to help them learn and grow and to better serve our customers. I love it when I hear the sound of laughter and positivity in people’s voices. Having fun in the workday is good for the mind and soul. It keeps you grounded, alert and focused, especially in these challenging times where so much attention is required from the team to keep our store clean and safe for everyone.
What are you proudest of in your work? I am proudest of the team we have built at the store. This industry is busy, and a good working team is imperative to the success of moving forward with projects, and to the overall advancement of the store. The owners of the store truly believe in building trust with employees and blending the complementary strengths of team members. Biggest career challenge? Managing a grocery store through a pandemic. At the beginning, we were faced with panic buying, manufacturing shortages, staff shortages, and implementing safety protocols on our own. This is where teamwork really paid off, as without everyone working together we would not have been able to accomplish all that we did. Our team came together with creative ideas and made decisions effectively and efficiently. Career highlights/greatest achievements? The positive and respectful relationship our store has built with our surrounding communities. The Pemberton Valley Supermarket is known and respected as a business that contributes financially to support community events, fundraisers and not-for-profit groups. Over the years there have been many community initiatives from volunteer groups that have needed support, and I’m proud that the grocery store can do this for them. I’m also proud of our new online ordering system for curbside pickup and delivery, which provides a service our community has not had and which has been very helpful during COVID.
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Store Level Star Women in Grocery Jennifer Newton
Store Manager, Food Basics, Simcoe, Ont. METRO
Biggest challenge faced in your career? Starting out so young within the company, I’ve had to work hard to show my dedication and determination through the years. I’ve shown my wide range of capabilities as I worked my way through every job and department within the store.
Store Manager, Save-On-Foods Jagare, Edmonton SAVE-ON-FOODS
How did you get into the grocery business? My mom demoed for Save-On-Foods 22 years ago. She loved the stores and thought very highly of the company. One day she came home and told me, “There’s a new Save-On-Foods opening soon” and that I should apply. Mom knows best, and the rest is history. Career highlights so far? I have loved working at Save-On-Foods for 22 years. The highlights of my career have been my friendships and lasting memories from all of the stores I have worked at: Jagare, 50th Street Market, Lewis Estates, Strathcona, and 9th & Jasper. A specific achievement, though, would be winning the Customer Service Excellence Award in 2018. This internal award goes out to one store team every year with the highest customer service rankings in all service areas measured, including customer service and greet score. My team and I at Save-On-Foods 50th Street Market won out of 170 stores, which was a huge achievement. My success at that store, including outstanding customer service, great team member engagement and strong financial results, also led to a big career step: being selected to open our newest Save-On-Foods at Jagare in Southwest Edmonton. Best part of your job? What I love most about my job is getting to know all of my team members. They are my family away from my family. We spend more time at work than at home, so I value making everyone feel special, appreciated and excited to come to work, every day. 60 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
Career highlights? During my third year being an assistant manager, I was unexpectedly put in a position to act as store manager. There were many long days, late nights and a lot of homework to figure out what needed to be done to keep the store running smoothly. At the time a promotion was the last thing on my mind, so to be promoted to store manager and have all my hard work and passion seen and acknowledged felt even more rewarding. Best career advice received? Don't take things too personally, and don’t be so hard on yourself. Favourite part of your job? Being able to bond with my customers while providing the best shopping experience in my store. Another is overcoming the day-to-day challenges with people I can rely on and who make everything I do worthwhile. I know I have people in my corner that I can count on, like my specialists, district manager and wonderful staff. They make working together enjoyable and efficient.
Assistant Store Manager, Longo’s Liberty Village, Toronto LONGO’S
How did you get into the grocery business? I started working at Longo’s as a part-time student when I was 15. After quickly realizing I enjoyed the grocery business, I decided to pursue the job full time. I started in the bakery department and from there trained and worked in several other departments. I discovered I had a passion for produce and worked my way up to produce manager. As I continued to develop my skills and learn more about the grocery business, I was promoted to an assistant store manager. This new role has given me the opportunity to train and develop people, which is something I am also passionate about. Career highlights/greatest achievements? Some of my proudest achievements include winning several Foodland Ontario Retailer awards for merchandising and winning the Joe Longo Sr. Legacy Award of Creativity at the store level. Being recognized amongst other Longo’s stores and grocers in Ontario is tremendous. Career highlights include having the opportunity to be a part of two store openings, and achieving operational success consistently. Favourite part of your job? My favourite part of the job is the people part. I enjoy working with my team and helping mentor and coach them—I love to watch them advance their careers. It made all the difference when somebody believed in me and if I can pass that on and make others enjoy coming to work every day, I feel like I have truly succeeded. CG
Join the celebration on October
For more information and registration details visit starwomen.ca
Danika Johansen Director, Ecommerce & Emerging Channels
on winning a 2021 Star Women Award. from your Unilever Canada family.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS OF THE 2021 STAR WOMEN IN GROCERY AWARD.
Lassonde is proud to recognize Jennifer Allchin for her leadership, passion and dedication to the grocery industry. Congratulations, Jennifer!
Jennifer Allchin Director of Sales Western Canada at Lassonde
KING OF COTTAGE COUNTRY Mike Dean Local Grocer shows how filling a niche can be a strong strategy for independents
By Rosalind Stefanac Photography by Jessica Deeks
62 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
Retailer spotlight A KEEN SENSE of finding the gaps and knowing what customers are going to want has made Mike Dean Local Grocer a small but mighty force among Canada’s independent grocers. Not only is this ruralbased, family-run business still going strong after 45 years, the grocer is opening a fourth location in the midst of a pandemic. The latest Mike Dean Local Grocer location is set to open in Campbell’s Bay, Que., in June. And while it has a smaller footprint than the other locations in the Eastern Ontario towns of Chesterville, Bourget and Sharbot Lake (3,700 sq. ft. versus 12,000 sq. ft.), it aims to replicate their winning formula: cater to the cottage and camping crowds, while also becoming a hub of the community. “We’ll be limiting our assortment given the space, but we’re still sticking to the course when it comes to the products that move,” says owner Gordon Dean. “The fact we’re in a prime location as people are coming to their cottages and provincial camping grounds means we’ll be right under their noses.” The grocer switched its focus from bigger suburban markets to cottage country in 2015, and over the years has become adept at anticipating what visitors to rural Ontario and Quebec will want most. “For example, we ramped up for the season by bringing in 288 can openers … and 300 cases of marshmallows,” says Dean. “And with simple stuff like chocolate bars, we probably sell three times the number that traditional grocers would.” Even during the winter, when the number of visitors drops, Dean says he’s mastered how to move inventory around his stores to meet local community needs. “There is opportunity in cottage country because there aren’t many people who have an interest in running these small-footprint stores,” he says. “You really have to know what you’re doing with the seasonality [of items] to make it work.” By working directly with brand manufacturers and eliminating “the middle man,” the grocer can also offer many unique local product lines. And with its own warehouse and two trucks, Mike Dean Local Grocer stocks substantial inventory that can be easily transported to its various locations as needed.
Heading to Canada’s Far North Never one to ignore opportunity, the grocer seized another chance to expand in 2019 by partnering with Arctic Fresh, an online grocer, to supply groceries to remote communities in Nunavut. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought we’d be sending boxloads of groceries to different airports to be delivered thousands of kilometres away, but when opportunity knocks and the economics make sense, you take it,” says Dean. Arctic Fresh takes food orders from grocery stores in Nunavut, while Mike Dean Local Grocer handles the operations. That means using its warehouse in Chesterville to prepare and package grocery supplies 52 weeks of the year, all while handling the
logistical complications that are inevitable when transporting items such far distances. “It’s a matter of understanding the business, plus we already had warehouse space and were buying in volume from suppliers, so the synergies worked well for us,” explains Dean. While the Artic Fresh partnership is proving successful so far, Dean says the path to his company’s expansion “wasn’t always a straight line and things didn’t always work the way we wanted them to.” For 10 years, he says, the focus was on volume, topline sales and getting into larger markets, which proved unsustainable. After selling some properties to a larger competitor, the grocer got out of the suburbs entirely to focus on cottage country areas with population densities that were too small to attract big competitors. “I’d take going into a small town any day [rather] than trying to compete with Walmart,” says Dean.
All in the family That’s not to say becoming profitable in a small market is effortless, he adds. To succeed in a rural setting, Dean says his stores have to serve as the everyday convenience shop, fresh food market and big box store, too. “If we do our jobs right, we have pieces of all those pies as the other players don’t exist here,” he says. Earning the loyalty of locals also requires becoming truly entrenched in their communities. “Obviously I spend on sponsorships and donations, but more importantly they want to see my face at events and that I have a vested interest in their communities,” says Dean. That could mean attending dinners at the local Lion’s Club or loaning a five-ton truck to the fire department. “It’s about showing interest in helping out in ways that aren’t just economic, too.” Dean also credits the company’s long-standing success to the tight-knit family running the show. His father started the business in 1976, but Dean and his sister worked right alongside him from an early age. “I was working 40 hours a week by the age of 15,” says Dean. “My father taught me to work hard and never be afraid to fight with suppliers to get the best you can from them.” Today, both siblings and their spouses are involved in the company’s daily operations. “Everybody has their own hat to wear and I think that’s important, as it gives everyone a sense of purpose and something they can call the shots on,” says Dean, noting that all four of his children work part-time in the business as well. Best of all, at the age of 41, Dean is still as passionate about the grocery business as he was when he first started—and he expects to keep on expanding if the economics make sense. Despite the fact the big chains are getting bigger, he says Mike Dean Local Grocer proves that independents can keep thriving. “Forget about being a big-picture grocer and stick to what niches you’re good at,” he advises. “Then, keep adding pieces to make you different from a corporate grocer and make sure you’re awfully darn good at what you do.” CG
June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 63
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Employee mental health
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Tackling the mental health CHALLENGE As the pandemic drags on, it’s taking a toll on workers. Here’s how employers can help By Rosalind Stefanac
AS VACCINATIONS roll out across the country, glimpses of a pandemic-free future are finally on the horizon. But for some grocery store and other front-line employees still in the thick of these uncertain times, going to work is just as anxiety-inducing as ever—especially as threats of new virus strains linger on. Many employees in the grocery sector don’t have the luxury of working from home so they have increased stress from dealing with PPE, lack of sick benefits and “the exhaustion that comes from working longer hours,” explains Donna Koop, executive human resources (HR) relationship manager at ADP Canada, who works with grocery stores to offer HR expertise. “In addition to their own stressors, grocery staff may experience confrontations with customers since they, too, may be
June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 65
Employee mental health generally more agitated, impatient and assertive.” Heidi Ferriman, senior vice-president, people & corporate affairs at Save-On-Foods, says over the past year and a half, retail team members have persevered through ever-changing guidelines, massive alterations to work processes and the uncertainty of the future. “I think we can say that safety has been the biggest concern for retail workers, as well as for our customers,” says Ferriman. “In particular, team members have faced the added pressure and stress of issues around mask mandates and regulations changing almost daily earlier on in the pandemic.” Preliminary results from the COVID Economic and Social Effects Study out of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., reveal employees are just more anxious overall. “There’s this feeling of being exposed to more unsafe workplaces, but also that the burden of work is increasing,” says one of the study’s lead researchers Stephanie Ross, director and associate professor, School of Labour Studies at McMaster. “Our data shows that people are working harder, with more tasks to do, and that combination is creating a lot of mental stress.” Ross says the external threat from the pandemic coupled with employees feeling like they can’t say no to excess workloads is leading to a breaking point. “They reported feeling stress, exhaustion and physically ill thinking about work,” she says. “These are the kinds of indicators that are very concerning.”
“According to one of our Workplace Insights Surveys conducted earlier this year, 37% of men and 45% of women report that working during the pandemic has had negative impacts on their mental health. It’s also clear that organizations are struggling to provide support”
Earlier this year, business leaders from across Canada (including leaders from grocery store chains), participated in a discussion hosted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) on mental health and the future of work. “What became pre-eminently clear throughout the conversation was the need for authentic and vulnerable leadership from the top,” explains Chris Ide, vice-president of corporate and community partnerships at CAMH. Even with good intentions, many leaders recognized that they hadn’t created a culture of inclusion for people struggling with mental illness. “It didn’t really matter if they had the best mental health resources and programs available to their team members because there was such stigma associated with putting your hand up, disclosing your own personal status and asking for help.” Ide says it’s important for leaders to share their personal experiences with mental health and allow themselves to be vulnerable when communicating with their employees. “When you do that, employees will be more likely to be more vulnerable with their own disclosure and accept the help they need when they need it.” In addition to mandating mental health training for all managers, Ide says organizations should tailor their mental health supports because there is no one-size-fits-all solution. “And don’t confuse an employee’s return to work with them being fully recovered,” he says. “This is actually a critical part in the support process and employers really need to pay attention to that.”
Mounting mental health issues
Building long-term employee health
It’s no secret that the pandemic has significantly affected mental health for countless Canadians, says Andrea Wynter, head of human resources at ADP Canada. “According to one of our Workplace Insights Surveys conducted earlier this year, 37% of men and 45% of women report that working during the pandemic has had negative impacts on their mental health,” she says. “It’s also clear that organizations are struggling to provide support.” A survey conducted by ADP in August 2020 found that 60% of Canadians, aged 18 to 34, reported that supporting employee mental health has been among the top challenges for organizations. Fortunately, she says the research also indicates that as organizations continue to adapt through the pandemic, they have taken a more active interest in their employees’ mental health and well-being. ADP’s latest Workplace Insights Survey, conducted in April 2021, showed almost half (46%) of employees stated their employers created initiatives to support mental health in the workplace during the pandemic.
On a positive note, even amid escalating anxiety and mental health struggles during COVID-19, a KPMG survey conducted in April 2021 showed that 59% of Canadians felt more motivated and engaged, and found more purpose in their jobs today compared to pre-pandemic times. In fact, 36% felt their employers better recognize their contribution to the organization. With more than 23,000 employees in Save-OnFoods retail stores across Western Canada, Ferriman says the organization’s COVID-19 response has certainly evolved over time. In addition to being vigilant in maintaining safety protocols and new operating procedures initiated during the onset of the pandemic, a dedicated COVID19 Response Team is “available every hour of every day of the week to support the needs of our teams,” she says. This means answering questions and managing sick and isolated team members in the event of a COVID-19 positive case, as well as working closely with a COVID-19 Task Force made up of representatives from operations, pharmacy, government
66 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
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Employee mental health relations, communications and health and safety. “We have also collaborated with our external partners and created a dedicated space on the company’s internal team member website with COVID-19 resources for mental health support,” says Ferriman. “We have and continue to share with our teams the outpouring of thank-you messages, gifts and cards from our extremely supportive customers.” Others like Maple Leaf Foods have taken steps to encourage their leaders to talk about their own experiences with mental health challenges, while also completing a three-hour training session on mental health and how to support their teams. In 2020, the company also launched its “You Are Not Alone” program—featuring a video speaker series of experts, clinical psychologists and others—to address employee questions and provide tools on mental health and wellness topics. (Speakers have ranged from healthcare experts to Canadian Olympian Marnie McBean.) While the program was initially developed to address the needs of employees with acute mental health challenges, the company quickly revamped it within a few weeks to make it accessible to all team members potentially struggling during COVID-19. “We didn’t know how it was going to go, but we had 700 people join that first session,” says Peter Neufeld, vice-president of leadership at Maple Leaf Foods. “It was a simple design, but the feedback was tremendous—even in a call of that magnitude, people still had a sense of connection and had a feeling of support.” The sessions are also posted on the company’s intranet, so employees can watch them when convenient. At the end of March, M&M Food Market initiated an anonymous 1-800 line for its head office and corporate team members so they could call any time with questions around health, finance, family etc., along with a mobile app and onlinebased employee assistance program they could use for all kinds of resources. “When we realized how many people were using it, we now want to introduce it to all our franchise partners as a benefit opportunity for their people,” says M&M’s vice-president of people Pegi Klein Webber. “We’re a pretty nimble organization so we pivoted quickly and took our HR and training team and turned them into a resource centre.” While it’s been a very challenging time, she says it’s also been a catalyst for rethinking workplace practices to support employees better. “It’s about creating a workplace that is going to sustain itself long after COVID-19 is behind us,” says Klein Webber. CG
68 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
“Don’t confuse an employee’s return to work with them being fully recovered. This is actually a critical part in the support process and employers really need to pay attention to that”
HELPING EMPLOYEES COPE While it may sound pretty basic, communication with your team is paramount during these times, says ADP Canada’s Donna Koop. “Employers need to take a hard look at what they can do to improve the flow of communication throughout their organization.” To that end, she says something as simple as scheduling socially distanced floor huddles at certain times of the day (i.e., store opening, shift changes and store closing) is a way to recognize the great work the team is doing, and identify any uneasiness or areas for improvement. Koop says retailers can also help by encouraging staff to take advantage of vacation time and allotted breaks. “Using terms like ‘staycation’ and ‘mental health days’ can be a motivator for employees who associate vacation with travel and, therefore, are reluctant to take the time they need,” she says.
Other tips for helping employees cope include:
Encouraging staff to • use company-provided
• • • •
employee and family assistance benefits Offering virtual counselling/ therapy, and extending it to part-time employees Providing online and digital tools for stress-relief strategies (e.g., meditation and mindfulness) Providing manager training on how to recognize signs of stress and employee burnout prevention Leveraging workplace mental health campaigns run by the Canadian Mental Health Association
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THE BREAKFAST BOOM The morning meal has been re-energized, as more people eat breakfast at home and innovative new products abound By Jessica Huras
Breakfast is often described as the most important meal of the day, and that adage is now proving truer than ever with consumers. Breakfast consumption at home has increased by 5.7% over the past year, says Christine Jakovcic, vice-president, marketing & nutrition, Kellogg Canada, citing Ipsos FIVE data. Leigh Fenwick, senior marketing manager for Bimbo Canada, notes the bagel category grew by 19.4% in dollar volume in 2020 (according to NielsenIQ data), while Egg Farmers of Canada reports that one in three Canadians is eating more eggs now compared to last year. “There was definitely a COVID effect last year and a lot of those trends are still holding right now,” says Giancarlo Trimarchi, partner atOntario’s Vince’s Market. He says Vince’s locations have seen a big sales boost in eggs, bacon, sausages, prepared fruit and other breakfast foods. Trimarchi believes the sales growth in breakfast foods is largely due to consumers
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Aisles spending more time at home amid the in consumer breakfast choices. “Morning pandemic. “People are consuming the occasions tend to be our most health-orimajority of their breakfasts at home, ented occasion,” says Balanko. “We tend when they used to be doing it through to start the day off with the intention to quick-service [restaurants],” he says, eat healthy.” Egg Farmers’ Caron adds adding, “A lot of people probably weren’t that health is an important reason why even having breakfast at all before.” many Canadians turn to eggs at breakfast. Without the time crunch of the morn- “Canadians know that eggs are an affording commute to the office, many Cana- able source of protein and really part of an dians working at home over the past year overall nutritious diet,” she says. have had more time to spend making Consumer desire for better-for-you breakfast. “We noticed that breakfast breakfast options is also driving strong came back in style during the pandemic,” growth in the plant-based breakfast says John Mastroianni, general manager foods segment. Ellen Osborne, category at Toronto’s Pusateri’s Fine Foods. “It was manager at Summerhill Market, says no longer grab a bar and run out the door.” vegan, liquid egg products are among the More time to prepare breakfast is also retailer’s breakfast bestsellers. “They’re driving consumer interest in new flavours becoming more mainstream and more and creative preparation techniques. popular for us,” she says, but notes Sum“When you’re at home more, there’s more merhill’s stores haven’t seen the same time to cook at a higher quality level,” says kind of growth in plant-based meat alterMarty Weintraub, partner, national retail natives for breakfast, such as sausages. leader at Deloitte Canada. “We’re seeing At Pusateri’s, Mastroianni says they’ve this rise of the epicurean home chef. The recently introduced Simply Eggless (a idea that ‘I can do better than I’ve done plant-based “egg” product) at their stores before, because now I have the time.’” in response to the burgeoning plantShelley Balanko, senior vice-president based breakfast food trend. “In the first at The Hartman Group, says week we brought it in, we pracconsumer desire for discovery “We tically sold out,” he says. and newness in their foods is noticed that Andrew Maida, founder of a driver behind many current breakfast Flourish Pancakes, says many breakfast food trends. “Keepcame back consumers are now looking for ing it interesting and eating in in style added better-for-you benefits a more global way allows conduring the from their plant-based prodsumers to feel a sense of advenpandemic. ucts. Flourish offers high proture,” she says, “especially in It was no tein and plant-based pancake the last year, when we haven’t longer grab a mixes, with a keto-friendly been able to travel and explore bar and run line set to launch soon. “Plants and have those experiences.” out the door” alone aren’t good enough for Sarah Caron, director of plant-based shoppers,” says marketing and nutrition for Egg Farm- Maida. “We’ve found that when planters of Canada, says breakfast boards and based is combined with gluten-free and platters are one way consumers have got- certifications like non-GMO, it improves ten more creative with morning meals. the purchase power of the product.” “They’re really popular among both milBetter-for-you cereals and granola lennials and gen Z. It’s basically a collec- are also emerging as a favourite among tion of various foods—proteins, pastries, health-conscious consumers. “We’re fruits and veggies—all displayed on this noticing a lot of innovation in healthier beautiful large serving board.” cereals, particularly when it comes to graBimbo’s Fenwick says the Dempster’s nola and gluten-free cereals,” says Vince’s and Pom Signature Bagels lines, which Market’s Trimarchi. At Pusateri’s, Maslaunched in January, also address con- troianni says the grocer is about to roll sumer interest in new flavours (with Par- out its own line of granola in response to mesan Garlic & Herb, Four Cheese, and consumer demand. “One of the big surges Banana Chocolate Chip as part of the new this year was granola,” he says. lineups). “We are looking at this as an Osborne says Summerhill will soon be opportunity for consumers to enjoy the debuting Three Wishes, a cereal that’s premium bagel experience in the comfort high-protein, low-sugar, grain-free and of their own home,” she says. plant-based. “We also do really well with Health also continues to be a key factor keto cereals like Catalina Crunch.” 72 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
Breakfast meal kits and boxes are a potential area of opportunity for grocers, predicts Deloitte’s Weintraub. “Right now, they’re pointed at dinner and maybe lunch, but no one has really touched breakfast yet,” he says of the meal kit trend. “I would hypothesize that breakfast is maybe the next meal to be disrupted by some of these behaviours.” Pusateri’s recently launched a series of breakfast boxes that include a plantbased box and a full breakfast box packed with more traditional items such as double-smoked bacon and free-run eggs. “We wanted to make life easy for people and convenient, giving them choices and eliminating the guesswork out of that first meal of the day,” says Mastroianni. “We wanted to curate boxes that would offer those solutions for consumers and help them switch it up every once in a while.” Egg Farmers’ Caron says prepackaged breakfast boxes can be another way for grocers to tap into the breakfast board trend. “Grocers can jump on that trend by creating their own,” she says. Similarly, Kellogg’s Jakovcic suggests grocers can also help inspire customers with breakfast-themed displays that highlight different products together such as cereals, milk, juice, coffee, yogurt and fruit. In the frozen aisle she suggests pairing frozen waffles with frozen fruit. Bimbo’s Fenwick says off-shelf displays offer an additional way to pique consumer interest in breakfast products. “That’s especially true within the fruit bread category,” she says. “It’s largely an impulse-driven category, where the majority of our sales are actually purchased on display.” With the growth of the category primarily attributed to more Canadians working from home, it’s unclear what the gradual shift into post-pandemic life will mean for breakfast. “The really interesting data collection is going to be once we return to normal—what happens to these volume categories, if they hold or if they start to retreat,” says Trimarchi. “That’ll be indicative of [whether] the different routine changes really hold or not.” Pusateri’s Mastroianni believes the pandemic has shifted the way consumers think about breakfast. “Mornings during the pandemic have really brought people back to how important it is to start the day off on the right track,” he says. “It’s energizing your body for the rest of the day—and your mind and your soul.”
Farming a more sustainable future
SUSTAINABILITY STARTS WITH CANADIAN EGGS
Boosting booze sales
Drinking patterns and alcohol-buying behaviours are shifting. Here’s how grocers can tap into the trends By Michele Sponagle While we’ve all seen those memes about people drinking their way through lockdown, are consumers actually drinking more alcohol these days? Or are they just drinking differently? And how are their alcohol-purchasing patterns changing? Kathy Perrotta, vice-president, market strategy and understanding at Ipsos, has been doing a deep dive into the subject using Ipsos’s Alcohol Consumption Tracker (ACT). “We’ve been in the field every day, 365 days of the year, since 2012,” she says. “We can really see a shift in the data from April 2020 to March 2021. People aren’t drinking more; they’re drinking
Vince’s Market has dedicated refrigerators so shoppers can easily access chilled wine, beer and cider
74 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
differently.” Of course, this has much to do with alcohol sales being limited through the usual out-of-home channels (bars and restaurants) during lockdown, prompting a shift to home consumption. “Wine and RTDs [ready-to-drink cocktails] are the big winners,” says Perrotta. “They’ve taken their share away from beer. That’s driven by a shift among younger consumers’ drinking habits, especially females, who are moving to things like hard seltzer.” Despite this, beer still dominates at grocery, making up 66% of beverage-alcohol sales. Demand for beer has “softened, but not declined,” Perrotta notes. Sales of alcohol at grocery (where it’s permitted, in provinces such as Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia) are up about two to three percentage points. The impact is considerable as more shoppers put wine, beer and cider on their regular grocery lists to limit the number of stores they visit during lockdowns. For grocers, this pivot in buying behaviour represents a great opportunity, especially around pairing. “When you source something from a grocery retailer, it’s most often consumed at meals,” Perrotta explains. “There’s a built-in pairing mindset the consumer has. They are looking for alcohol options to serve with dinner. And they’re wondering what goes with the wine they just bought.” With that in mind, grocers can be strategic about product placement and promotions, building out adjacent selections for related merchandise like barbecue-related goods, utensils, attractive plastic glassware, napkins, cedar planks and spice rubs. “Grocers have a unique, but limited opportunity with a captive audience who are buying more alcohol in their stores now,” says Perrotta. “But it’s not going to last forever.” Vince’s Market locations have seen a bump in alcohol sales during the
pandemic. “Our customers are buying beer and wine from us much more frequently,” says Mallory Myers, the Ontario retailer’s alcohol specialist. “The convenience factor is key for consumers to make Vince’s their one-stop shop. We’ve seen a marked sales increase in large volume containers for wine.” Myers finds consumers are drawn to limited-time offers and bright, colourful labels, which inspire trial and repeated purchases are dependent on product quality. This summer, Vince’s expects robust sales for ciders, sour beers, Pinot Grigio and rosé wines. Its locations have dedicated refrigerators so shoppers can easily access chilled wine, beer and cider. Myers also notes consumers are seeking hyper-local craft beer more than ever. “If the brewery is within a smaller radius to a location, we see significant performance bumps,” she says. On the beer front, the folks at Wayne Gretzky Craft Beer say lager still leads, but customers are also gravitating to hoppier offerings, such as its Hazy IPA. According to Chris Wei, category manager, Andrew Peller Limited (which owns Wayne Gretzky Craft Brewery), while consumers are willing to try new styles such as sours and stouts, the brewer has noticed loyalty to existing favourites. To support sales at grocery, strong connections between grocers and vendors pay off. Corby Spirit and Wine’s sales team works with local stores two to three months out on programming, ensuring adequate stock and POS displays to generate excitement in the wine aisle, says Gerald Whitley, the company’s regional trade marketing manager for Ontario. It also focuses on staff education at the store level. “Our goal is to create some simple tools that front-line staff can utilize,” he says, “to not only develop their wine knowledge, but also help them engage confidently with shoppers and make informed suggestions.” Whitley foresees the role of grocery retail in the wine and spirits industry undergoing a massive transformation. Overall alcohol trends, including a desire for light and fresh options (such as Sauvignon Blanc), large-format sizes, wines that offer value, no- and low-alcohol brands, and sparkling wine enjoyed any time, will be even more relevant to grocers. “I think some of those trends will start to make their way to grocery store shelves over the next 12 months,” he says.
Somersby 4 packs now available in ontario. isn’t that wonderful. EXCLUSIVE TO GROCERY. PRODUCED LOCALLY.
Somersby is donating $0.40 from every Somersby 4 Pack sold in Ontario from May 23 rd until July 17 th towards funding programming with The Get REAL Movement. Learn More at Somersby.ca/StepsOfPride
Must be legal drinking age. Please enjoy responsibily.
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WHAT’SNEW NEW PRODUCTS IN GROCERY
New from Lavazza Made of 100% USDA organic Arabica coffees, ¡Tierra! Organic For Planet is hand-picked from Africa and Central and South America. Mild and fruity with refreshing floral notes, this blend supports education on proper agricultural techniques to manage climate change through the Lavazza Foundation.
One out of every 3 Ciders sold in Ontario is a Somersby
Relaunch with 100% Recycled Plastic Bottles ESKA is relaunching ESKA Sparkling using 100% recycled plastic bottles. For ESKA, this marks the complete elimination of all first use plastic bottles across its entire product line – a commitment made with the transition of its natural spring water bottles to recycled plastic in 2020. In fact, ESKA will be the first leading Canadian brand to make carbonated water bottles with recycled plastic. ESKA Sparkling is carbonated natural spring water available in Original and natural Lemon, Lime and Orange fruit flavours.
Somersby is the best selling Cider in Ontario. Now NEW to the grocery channel, is the Somersby Mixer Pack which is the fastest growing 6 pack cider in Ontario. Inside the mixer pack your customers will find the most popular and refreshing flavours, including Somersby Apple, Watermelon, Mango & Lime, and Rose. Produced LOCALLY in Ontario and made from real Canadian apples, this new offering is just what consumers are looking for.
Hello Halal! New to grocery store shelves this Spring, Shahir sets the standard for quality, taste, and tradition in Halal meats. Proudly certified by the Halal Monitoring Authority (HMA) and made with quality ingredients, Shahir sets the standard for quality, taste, and tradition in Halal meats. Fully cooked and naturally wood smoked for a delicious flavour, this line of six products offers Muslim consumers additional convenient halal food choices. Shahir will be an essential addition to your halal meat selection. Learn more at shahirhalal.com
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–JUNE/JULY 2021
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Product of the Year Canada
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1 A KOMBUCHA FOR EVERYONE
Early adopters swear by kombucha’s health claims, particularly the gut-benefiting probiotics it produces during fermentation. But kombucha isn’t just for the healthobsessed, explains Shelley Balanko, senior vice-president at The Hartman Group. “What’s great about the category is there is a kombucha for everyone, even those looking to wean off soft drinks, as it can provide some of that sweetness and fizzy mouth-feel.” These offerings add fruit juice and a bit of sugar to offset kombucha’s natural acidity, and come in a rainbow of colours. Toronto-based Greenhouse Juice Co. offers an Ultraviolet Kombucha in a bright purple hue (thanks to blue matcha) that is made with organic pineapple, giving it a tropical flavour. While “during the pandemic we’ve seen a rise in beverages formulated with functional benefits in mind,” Greenhouse’s co-founder and director of community Hana James says “taste remains the No. 1 reason a customer repeat shops.”
Kombucha Four things to know By Chris Daniels
2 LATEST BUZZ Because it’s fermented, kombucha contains traces of alcohol. By extending the fermentation, some brands are upping the booze content, bringing kombucha to the liquor store with a hard ciderlike offering. In the U.S., for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 26, 2020, NielsenIQ data shows offpremise hard kombucha sales surged 128%; and Whole Foods Market ranked “boozed-up booch” as a top 10 trend for 2021. Canadian makers are getting in on the party, too. Calgary’s Wild Tea Kombucha launched a kombucha cider line with 5% or 6% alc./vol in ginger lime, blueberry hibiscus and mango passionfruit. “We want to show people kombucha can also be fun,” says co-founder Emily Baadsvik.
4 GROOVY HISTORY
Fizzy and functional, kombucha is made by adding a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts” (called a “SCOBY”) to sugared tea and letting it ferment. During this process, the sugar converts into ethanol and acetic acid, giving kombucha its tart tang. While its origins are debated, one popular bit of folklore says it’s named after Dr. Kombu, a Korean physician
Aisles 3 SALES SURGE Once a small percentage of the single-serve drink category, kombucha has become the largest at some natural grocers. “Demand for it has skyrocketed over the past decade,” says Digs Dorfman, founder and co-owner of The Sweet Potato in Toronto. “We now sell more of it than single-serve soda and juice combined.” With eight feet of refrigerated space (and 50 linear feet of shelving) dedicated to kombucha, the top SKUs sell “just shy of 2,000 units a year,” says Dorfman. The Sweet Potato has shifted strategy in its bi-weekly flyer, from education about the fermented beverage to price promotion. “We see a big uptick when we put a top brand on sale, as customers purchase a few weeks’ worth of it,” he says. Greenhouse Juice Co.’s Hana James says retailers should consider merchandising kombucha alongside fruits and vegetables, rather than only in the refrigerated drinks aisle. “This space makes the product more accessible to a wider variety of customers and is a natural basket build for those shopping fresh, organic produce,” she says.
who made the “cha” (tea in Japanese) as a curative for Emperor Inkyo of Japan in 414 A.D. In the 1960s, kombucha was part of the hippie food movement, with home brewers in California giving it the nickname “groovy tea.” But manufacturers have only become interested in the beverage in recent years, amid rising consumer interest in digestive health.
June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 79
Call for nominations! We know Canada’s grocery industry is filled with examples of companies and individuals making a positive impact. We’re asking you to shout out about these efforts. The Canadian Grocer Impact Awards 2021 will recognize initiatives introduced by retailers, suppliers and solution providers that are making a meaningful difference in a range of areas from helping the planet to supporting employees and communities. No matter if your company is big or small (we recognize that companies of any size can make a positive impact) we encourage you to take a few minutes to nominate a company initiative in the following areas:
•• •• •
Sustainability (food waste, ethical sourcing, energy efficiency initiatives etc.) Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Supporting Employees Community Service/Local Impact/Giving Back Plus Individual Impact Award (recognizing those individuals within an organization going above and beyond to make an impact in any of the areas listed above) Tell us about the amazing work being done at your company. Honourees will be featured in Canadian Grocer this fall.
Submit your nominations at cgimpactawards.ca DEADLINE TO ENTER: JULY 15, 2021 Have questions? Please contact Shellee Fitzgerald, editor-in-chief, Canadian Grocer at email@example.com
New on shelf!
Aisles The latest products hitting shelves
1 HUNGRY BUDDHA KETO BARS Hungry Buddha Keto Bars are available in four flavours: Triple Chocolate, Chocolate Chip, Coconut Cocoa and Espresso Brownie. Each bar contains only one to two grams (or less) of sugar, nine grams of plant protein, and four grams of net carbs. The bars are certified keto, vegan and non-GMO, and are free from peanuts, sugar alcohols, gluten, dairy and soy.
2 SNACKCONSCIOUS BITES SnackConscious Bites are a functional, high-protein, high-fibre and low-sugar snack available in three flavours: Peanut Butter & Jam, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, and Chocolate Brownie. Using a unique adaptogenic blend of cordyceps, reishi, lion’s mane and maca, these snacks can help promote sustained energy and focus, according to the Torontobased company. All three flavours boast clean ingredients and are gluten free, vegan and free from refined sugars. 3 PERRIER ENERGIZE Whether your customers need to get through an afternoon of Zoom calls or they’re looking for a boost before a morning workout, Perrier Energize is a carbonated, plant-based energy drink that provides the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Perrier Energize is available in three flavours: Pomegranate, Grapefruit and Tangerine; and each 330-mL can has only 35 calories and seven grams of sugar. 4 WHOLLY VEGGIE PIZZA, TACO AND CREAMY SPINACH BITES Wholly Veggie has once again put a plantbased spin on some classic tastes. The Toronto-based company’s new Bites come in three flavours: Cheeze Pizza, Creamy Spinach, and Taco Style—each with a creamy, soft filling stuffed inside a crispy veggie crust. The Bites are gluten-free, non-GMO, soy-free, and make it easier for anyone to eat more veggies.
5 3 4
5 MY LITTLE CHICKPEA CAULIFLOWER BITES Ideal as an appetizer, snack or side dish, My Little Chickpea Cauliflower Bites are plant based with a crispy gluten-free coating and come with a creamy garlic sauce. They’re made with 10 simple ingredients including cauliflower florets, sunflower oil, rice flour, sea salt, onion powder, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. CG June/July 2021 || CANADIAN GROCER 81
The Diversity Institute’s Wendy Cukier on where we are with diversity, equity and inclusion By Shellee Fitzgerald AS HEAD OF Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute (which she founded in 1999), Wendy Cukier, also a professor of entrepreneurship and strategy, has spent her career advancing diversity and helping companies understand the business case for more inclusive workplaces. We recently spoke to Cukier about the progress being made on the issue and why building a DE&I strategy isn’t rocket science. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:
We hear a lot about diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) these days as many companies state it’s a business imperative. Is progress being made? Sometimes it feels like two steps forward, one step back. But, if you look at the numbers, there’s no question, there are more women in leadership roles. And workplaces have improved. Are they perfect? No, but there are more protections in place. And I think really over the last year, in part because of the killing of George Floyd, there’s been a very heightened awareness. We’ve seen corporate Canada step up in ways that we had never seen before. And I think we’re seeing a similar shock to the system as a result of the discovery of the mass graves of 215 First Nations children in Kamloops. This tragedy seems to be moving people in a way a lot of other things have not. Now, you have the commissioner of the RCMP acknowledging the RCMP has a problem with systemic discrimination. You have the prime minister talking about our treatment of Indigenous people as genocide. Those are significant signs that people are at least willing to name the problem in a serious way. 82 CANADIAN GROCER || June/July 2021
And I think we’ve seen some really interesting movement. We do work with some of the grocery chains and other consumer goods organizations. Some are actually committing to setting aside procurement dollars to say, “We are going to devote shelf space to women entrepreneurs. We are going to devote shelf space to Black entrepreneurs. We are going to make a deliberate effort to find products and services from Indigenous entrepreneurs.” So I think, for me, following the money is always a way to try to figure out if people are serious. And I’m seeing more evidence of that now than even a year ago.
What advice do you have for companies building their DE&I strategy? It’s not rocket science. We do diversity assessments for organizations to look at where their priorities are. So, you can look at governance, and there’s “The 50-30 Challenge” right now, which is encouraging organizations to aspire to gender parity (50%) and increased representation (30%) of under-represented groups in their leadership and their boards. But obviously you can’t do a lot with your leadership team if you don’t have the pipeline in place with recruitment and promotion and all those things. So human resources is another obvious place to look. And metrics—where are you now? Where do you want to get? What gets measured gets done, and anyone in the retail business knows how important that is. So, there’s that piece—digging into what your workforce looks like and what you’d like it to look like. There are a lot of different components, but it’s just like any other aspect of corporate strategy. You just break it down. And I’m a big believer in the idea that your diversity and inclusion strategies should map exactly to your corporate strategy; so you have a marketing plan, you have an HR plan, you have a research and development plan.
What’s the business case for inclusive workplaces? Look at the changing demographics in Canada! Workforce growth is coming through immigration. If you don’t have a strategy for recruiting, hiring and promoting immigrants, you’re missing out on a lot of talent. Diversity and inclusion is also tied to improved organizational performance—if people feel they have opportunities, they’re likely to stick around. And there’s good research that links having good diversity and inclusion policies to improving employee engagement and satisfaction. Then there’s the link between diversity and innovation and creativity. Obviously if you open your supply chain to more diverse product makers, you’re able to better serve those more diverse segments of the population. The business case is just as plain as the nose on our face, because Canada is changing. You have to be equipped to take advantage of those opportunities and it’s very difficult if you don’t have people in your workforce making decisions who share experiences with the people you’re trying to serve. CG
Kraft Heinz drives growth through transformation and collaboration
Q&A: Meet Diana Frost, Kelly Fleming & Jim Kelly GOING FOR GOLD Teaming up with Team Canada ahead of Tokyo 2020
GREEN MATTERS Steps to leave a lighter footprint
On-trend innovation hitting store shelves in
(L-R) Kelly Fleming, Chief Category and Brand Officer; Diana Frost, Chief Growth and Sustainability Officer; Jim Kelly, Vice President, Retail Sales, Kraft Heinz Canada
CANADA’S FAVOURITE CREAM CHEESE,
DRIVING GROWTH IN
Dear Colleagues, At Kraft Heinz Canada, our North Star is to “Spark Happiness at Every Canadian Table.” We strive to provide delicious, high-quality food products to Canadians for all meal occasions. We bring our North Star to life by continually developing a pipeline of exciting innovations, leveraging the power of data to understand consumer behaviour, and seeking solutions to important issues facing our community such as climate change and food insecurity. In 2020, we brought outstanding innovations to the market, including Kraft Hazelnut Spread, we continued to revitalize the premium Frozen category with CRAVE, and we successfully rebooted the Infant aisle with a renewed Heinz By Nature line. And we’re just getting started! As a leader in the Canadian CPG industry, Kraft Heinz Canada has the iconic brands, the deep expertise and the strategic capabilities to drive profitable growth for our retail partners today – and for years to come. With our North Star as a guide, in this special supplement we’ll share the details on our plans to drive growth, including: • Bringing to market must-have innovations that Canadian consumers want such as 100% compostable Nabob and Maxwell House coffee pods, the latter of which was just announced as a Grand Prix New Product Winner; additional varieties of our popular Kraft Hazelnut Spread; our new fresh Renée’s Dips with no artificial ingredients or preservatives; the introduction of PürGrains, a ready-to-serve-in-90-seconds side dish powered by ancient grains; and a new way to enjoy our iconic KD, with new Flavour Boost packs, including unique offerings like Cotton Candy, Butter Chicken and Poutine, and so much more.
• Continuing our strong support for Food Banks Canada and responding to food insecurity in communities across Canada with the second year of the impactful Kraft Heinz Project Pantry in-store program. • The exciting inroads we are forging in digital transformation that will bring deeper insights to data regarding shopper trends and behaviours. • Our progress on sustainability, including our recently announced partnerships with Loop and the Canada Plastics Pact as we use our scale and agility to promote a more circular economy. The COVID-19 Pandemic over the past 15 months has brought unprecedented challenges to our industry and throughout this period Kraft Heinz Canada has proudly supported our retail partners and Canadians from coast to coast. With our North Star to guide us, we are on an inspiring journey of transformation and our goal is to find more opportunities to profitably grow with you. I hope you are as excited as we are about the many initiatives we have underway to deepen our partnership and drive mutual growth now -- and for the future! Regards,
Bruno Keller President Kraft Heinz Canada
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–JUNE/JULY 2021
Kraft Hazelnut Spread Made with
. Low in Saturated Fat.
Now available il bl in i C Crunchy and d 45% LLess Sugar!*
*Than Original Kraft Hazelnut Spread Absence of palm oil does not imply a product is more sustainable than products with palm oil.
KRAFT HEINZ CANADA PARTNERS WITH CANADIAN
m a e T c i p m Oly
Committee. “We are thrilled to partner with passionate people who provide Canadians with high-quality taste and nutrition everywhere we go.” In addition, the Canadian Olympic Committee will play an active role in raising awareness for Kraft Heinz Pantry Day, a 5-year, $20-million food donation initiative in partnership with Food Banks Canada to reduce food insecurity across the country.
ith its recent partnership announcement with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Kraft Heinz Canada is looking to bring Canadians together around the passion for sport. In May, Team Canada welcomed Kraft Heinz Canada to its family with a four-year Official Supporter partnership. The agreement is effective as of April 2021 and will run through the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. It also includes the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing and Tokyo 2020, which are fast approaching.
Fueled by passion and purpose, the new partnership connects Kraft Heinz Canada – and by extension its customers – to an exclusive and powerful platform. Knowing that 81 per cent of Canadians are fans of Team Canada, Kraft Heinz Canada is looking forward to teaming up with grocery retailers to solidify their commitment to Canada’s elite athletes in their pursuit of sporting excellence.
KRAFT HEINZ PRODUCTS HAVE BEEN A PART OF OUR LIVES FOR SO LONG THAT THE BRAND HAS BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH BEING CANADIAN
“We are so proud to be partnering with the Canadian Olympic Committee,” says Bruno Keller, President, Kraft Heinz Canada. “Cheering for athletes during the Olympics brings all Canadians together and feeds our passion for sport. At Kraft Heinz Canada, our passionate people aim to spark happiness at every Canadian table by helping to feed Canadians every day.” Kraft Heinz Canada is united in the COC’s vision to transform Canada through the power of sport. The partnership comes at a time of need for athletes, coaches, and the entire sport community as they make their final push towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The partnership will be activated this summer through iconic Canadian brands Kraft Dinner and Kraft Peanut Butter. “Kraft Heinz products have been a part of our lives for so long that the brand has become synonymous with being Canadian,” says David Shoemaker, CEO & Secretary General, Canadian Olympic
Through this partnership, Kraft Heinz Canada will have exclusivity in several categories, with the aim of taking top spot in consumers’ grocery baskets. Canadian favourites, Kraft Dinner and Kraft Peanut Butter will both be activating with integrated marketing campaigns this summer, in support of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. With its products found in more than 97 per cent of Canadian households, Kraft Heinz Canada is the country’s largest food and beverage company and has been part of the fabric of Canada for more than 100 years. This is a strong place from which to go for gold – for the company, customers, consumers, and Team Canada!
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–JUNE/JULY 2021
Kraft Heinz Canada’s Diana Frost, Kelly Fleming and Jim Kelly discuss transformational change at the company and how it’s committed to driving retailers’ businesses and delighting consumers What are the top consumer trends and tastes driving change in the food sector?
Kelly Fleming: The rediscovery of cooking and the meal experience during this past year has continued to put convenience at the forefront, whether it’s the rise of the digital grocery shopper or those seeking a meal solution without having to make tradeoffs. On top of that, Canadians want customized products and experiences with even greater emphasis on positive nutrition. What excites me the most is how the growth in immigration and diversity is heightening consumers’ desire to experience culture through food.
How is Kraft Heinz responding to these trends in terms of new product innovation?
Kelly: We’re consumer obsessed, so these trends are at the forefront of our innovation approach. For example, our new platform PürGrains is a plant-based line of single-serve dishes powered by the goodness of ancient grains and available in bold, global flavours. Understanding these trends and insights combined with shopper-based research has allowed us to create a brand that will help us, and our retail partners, drive business. Diana Frost: In terms of overall consumer growth spaces, we put them under three pillars: Nutrition (for example, alternative diets and holistic health); Taste (for example, expanded palate and texture); and Planet (for example, sustainability and reusability). We’re excited to have a consumer-centric lineup to deliver on all these growth spaces in 2021. In addition to PürGrains, for example, we are launching Hazelnut Spread line extensions, which deliver on taste and nutrition with a crunchy texture and 45% less sugar. They also deliver on Planet, as they are prepared right here in Canada.
How do you infuse consumer insights into product development and brand strategy?
Diana: As part of our digital transformation, we have partnered with a technology and data science company that helps us understand and analyze more than eight million consumer
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–JUNE/JULY 2021
Diana Frost is Chief Growth and Sustainability Officer at Kraft Heinz Canada. A senior executive with more than 15 years’ experience, Diana oversees strategy and whitespace, research and development, digital transformation, consumer insights, and sustainability for Canada’s largest food and beverage company. Kelly Fleming is Chief Category and Brand Officer at Kraft Heinz Canada. Since joining Kraft Heinz Canada in 2010 as an associate brand manager, Kelly has held several progressive roles working on some of Kraft Heinz Canada’s most successful and iconic brands such as Heinz, Philadelphia, and Kraft Dinner. Jim Kelly is Vice President, Retail Sales, at Kraft Heinz Canada. He is a resultsoriented, agile sales leader with a proven track record of delivering topand bottom-line growth for some of Canada’s most iconic brands. With over a decade of experience in the CPG industry, Jim leverages data to build high-performing teams that deliver results.
conversations in the food space. This allows us to accurately predict and understand signals around emerging trends, benefits, claims and brands to fuel our pipeline. In turn, that enables us to be a better partner for retailers, as we can help them understand their customers better and what brands and products they’re looking for. On the product development side, we have started agile and focused innovation teams working on key projects and priorities to drive speed and quality.
What can retailers and consumers expect to see from Kraft Heinz on the marketing and engagement front?
Kelly: We’ve changed the way we connect with consumers to help our brands engage in more conversations. Last year, we created an internal digital arm called “The Kitchen,” focused on delivering relevant, highly engaging content at the speed of culture. Data driven and personalized, we’re able to shorten the time between idea and execution to insert our brands into conversations that consumers care about. This level of agility has helped generate meaningful buzz that drives brand awareness and purchase intent. We’re putting our money where our mouth is—increasing our investment with consumers by +30% to deliver a seamless omni-channel experience across the physical and digital space.
What is your approach to building successful partnerships with grocery retailers?
Jim Kelly: As we embark on our transformational journey, our Canadian “North Star” guides everything we do: we will spark happiness at every Canadian table. For Kraft Heinz, that means becoming an indispensable partner to retailers. To do that, we’ve identified three key focus areas. The first one is collaboration, which is critical to building and executing plans that are agile, reliable and trustworthy. The second area of focus is communication. We will be even more deliberate and structured about how we communicate with our partners. We’ve defined a mission to be responsive, transparent and proactive through all of our interactions. The third area of focus is commitment, which means becoming a best-in-class service provider, committing to driving category value, and simplifying how we do business. Customer partnerships are core to our transformational journey, so we’re very excited about what lies ahead.
Kelly: Successful partnerships are built on transparency and trust. To deepen our partnerships with retailers, we are open about our long-term strategies in order to co-create a joint long-term vision. Collaboration across the entire value chain is also key to ensuring we’re providing solutions that are mutually beneficial. For example, we’re improving our collaborative forecasting by implementing new technologies that will amp up our demand-planning capabilities to help us rapidly predict and solve for potential pinch points. When it comes down to it, we are approaching our partnerships with a value creation mindset.
What are the benefits of collaboration for both sides?
Jim: The ultimate goal is to delight the consumer by helping them find the brands they love—when and where they want to shop. By partnering together, we believe there are opportunities to create value throughout the entire value chain. That can range from bringing innovation to market faster, to sharing local or global consumer insights, to finding new and agile ways of connecting with consumers.
What would you most like grocery retailers to know about what’s in store for Kraft Heinz Canada?
Kelly: Our new platform approach puts the consumer at the centre of everything we do. We’re able to address consumer and shopper trends more effectively while fully taking advantage of our scale. It didn’t take a global pandemic to realize agility is part of our DNA, but we are harnessing that power in our transformation journey to ultimately bring solutions to the market with speed and accuracy. Diana: We are excited to partner with our retail partners to spark happiness at every Canadian table and drive mutual top- and bottom-line growth. As a consumer-first organization, understanding consumers now and in the future fuels everything we do with our portfolio and how we engage with our retail partners. Jim: As we continue on our journey of transformation, our mindset is to engage and collaborate with our retail partners by bringing value with every interaction. We are a consumer-first organization that will look to harness the power of data and insights to help consumers find the right product at the right store, in the right space and at the right price.
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–JUNE/JULY 2021
D U CING O R T IN MASHUPS 2021:
Careful what you post,
Hot Sauce + Ranch
Heinz might turn it into a sauce.
Wasabi + Garlic Aioli Tartar Sauce + Ketchup
AVAILABLE FOR LIMITED TIME ONLY
a d a n a C o Back t
HEINZ KETCHUP COMES
The anticipation is finally over, and now the pouring can begin!
of Quebec's business expansion program. The project will create 30 new jobs and help maintain approximately 750 more at the Mont Royal facility.
raft Heinz Canada has completed the installation of its new production line for Heinz Ketchup to be prepared and sold in Canada. The original ketchup repatriation announcement was made in November 2020 to much fanfare and, in late June 2021, the first official bottle of Heinz Ketchup proudly prepared in Canada came down the line at Kraft Heinz Canada’s flagship Mont Royal plant in Montreal.
"We are pleased to be investing in our people and our Mont Royal plant in bringing ketchup production back to Canada from the U.S.," says Bruno Keller, President, Kraft Heinz Canada. "Canadians are passionate about Heinz Ketchup, and returning production of this iconic product back to Canada for Canadians is part of our long-term strategy to prepare more of our products here." The new line is expected to produce over 100 million pounds of Heinz Ketchup for Canadian consumers in the first two years alone as production ramps up. The project is a joint investment between Kraft Heinz Canada and the Government
The Mont Royal line will produce almost all of the ketchup for sale in Canada and, as a result, will receive the Aliments du Québec (ADQ) certification, which helps promote products made by the Quebec agri-food sector. In the longer term, Kraft Heinz Canada will be exploring the feasibility of processing tomatoes in Canada, however, the first step is to have ketchup manufacturing and bottling at the Mont Royal plant. Kraft Heinz Canada continues to be a significant consumer of local tomatoes from Leamington, Ont. In 2020 alone, the company used more than 176 million pounds of Leamington tomatoes to make Canadian favourites like Classico Pasta Sauce, Heinz Tomato Juice and Heinz Beans. Heinz Ketchup has also been a busy brand in Canada since the pandemic began, including 2020’s award-winning All-Red Heinz Ketchup Puzzle campaign, which featured a 570-piece puzzle consisting of only red pieces and intended to help Canadians pass the time at home during COVIDrelated lockdowns. Proceeds from the sale of a limited run of puzzles went to Food Banks Canada. "This is a game-changer for our company and for Canadian consumers," says Kelly Fleming, Chief Category and Brand Officer for Kraft Heinz Canada. "We've listened to consumers who have told us they want their ketchup prepared in Canada. As the market leader, and with increased demand in the marketplace, the time was right to bring production of this iconic product back home."
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–JUNE/JULY 2021
Zero Waste*. Zero Effort. 100% Compostable†. Introducing Maxwell House and Nabob 100% compostable coffee pods. The same consistently good coffee you love, now in a plant-based pod that leaves zero waste. The pod continues to work hard for the planet long after you’ve finished your cup of coffee.
Brew a delicious and convenient cup of Maxwell House or Nabob coffee.
Simply toss the pod in the compost bin and it goes back into the soil that grew it, helping to protect the health of the earth.
The pod helps enrich the soil and continues to work hard for the planet long after you’re done with it.
Made from paper, water-based inks and other compostable materials.
Ring Made from a blend of compostable materials including coffee bean skins, which make up over 20% of the ring.
Filter Made from plant-based materials.
† For collection in Municipal programs, where approved. / Pour la collecte dans les programmes municipaux, là où ils sont APPROUVÉS. Cert #10528537
Maxwell House and Nabob 100% compostable pods are proudly made locally in Ontario, Canada
* For you †Certified by BPI
y t i l i b a n i a Sust
From compostable packaging to new partnerships, Kraft Heinz Canada is reducing its environmental impact while meeting consumers’ needs
tackle Canada’s plastic waste and pollution problem, with a vision for a circular economy for plastics. “Packaging waste can have a significant detrimental impact on the environment and is an industrywide challenge that we must all do our part to address,” says Fischer.
n tackling the world’s biggest environmental issues, even small steps can have a big impact.
Earlier this year, Kraft Heinz Canada was among the first CPG brands to join Loop, a new circular reuse platform by TerraCycle. Shoppers can buy a range of grocery and household items in durable, reusable packaging. Using a milkman-style system, consumers can have their empty packages picked up, sanitized, refilled and reused. Kraft Heinz first launched Heinz Ketchup on Loop and Ethical Bean coffee is coming soon.
Reducing plastic and packaging waste also fulfills ever-growing consumer demand for more planet-friendly options. In a December 2020 survey commissioned by Kraft Heinz Canada, 78% of Canadians said they want zero-waste packaging on grocery products and 65% said they make an effort to choose brands whose products come in sustainable packaging, meaning it’s recyclable, reusable or compostable.
“Our beloved Heinz Ketchup has always been available in a recyclable glass bottle, but now, thanks to the partnership with Loop, it’s also reusable,” says Nicole Fischer, Head of Sustainability at Kraft Heinz Canada. “We know Canadians seek more sustainable options they can feel good about and we are pleased that through this partnership, we can make sustainable options possible.” While it might seem like a relatively small step in addressing the planet’s environmental problems, it’s an important one for Kraft Heinz. The partnership with Loop is part of a broader sustainability goal at Kraft Heinz to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025. As part of this global commitment, Kraft Heinz Canada was also a founding signatory to the Canadian Plastics Pact. The pact brings together businesses and other stakeholders to collectively
For CPG companies like Kraft Heinz, the challenge is marrying consumers’ desire for sustainable packaging with their need for convenience. That’s particularly true with single-serve coffee pods. While research shows that Canadians believe the sustainability of food and beverage packaging is important, they’re not willing to sacrifice the convenience or taste for an environmentally friendly coffee pod. With the launch of Maxwell House and Nabob 100% compostable coffee pods, Kraft Heinz is able to offer consumers a convenient offering they can also feel good about. Made entirely from plant-based materials, all pod components and its inner bag are 100% compostable, and the outer carton is 100% recyclable, leaving zero waste for the consumer. While there are other recyclable pods on the market, one challenge for consumers is they’re messy and require time and effort to properly recycle, including removing the lid, ring, mesh filters and coffee grounds. With Maxwell House and Nabob 100% compostable coffee pods, this tedious process is eliminated as all components are formulated to break down into compost. “With sustainable
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–JUNE/JULY 2021
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Within Healthy Living & Community Support, Kraft Heinz has a nutrition compliance target of 85% across its global portfolio of products based on nutrition guidelines from the World Health Organization. Kraft Heinz will achieve this target by reducing sugar across its portfolio and reducing salt in key categories, increasing its plant-based offerings, and simplifying its ingredients. The company’s efforts are sure to resonate with consumers globally and in Canada. In a Kraft Heinz survey on sustainability, 83% of Canadians said they expect large companies like Kraft Heinz to take responsibility for making our world more sustainable. “Not only are our consumers, customers and shareholders demanding it of us,” says Fischer, “it’s also the right thing to do.” packaging from beginning to end, it is a simple one-step process,” says Fischer. “Consumers can simply toss the pod into the compost bin and it will decompose.” Consumers can expect more compostable solutions from Kraft Heinz in the future. Kraft Heinz Canada is a proud member of the Compost Council of Canada, the central resource and network for the compost industry in Canada. As a member of the Council, the company will work to advance packaging innovations to reduce food waste and single-use plastics while advocating the importance of compostability across Canada. The steps Kraft Heinz Canada is taking on its sustainability journey are part of the company’s new global approach to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). At Kraft Heinz, these efforts line up under three pillars: Environmental Stewardship, Responsible Sourcing, and Healthy Living & Community Support. Within Environmental Stewardship, one focus area is operational efficiency—reducing waste, energy, greenhouse gases and water, as well as incorporating sustainable packaging into its products. Responsible Sourcing is the company’s commitment to holding itself and its suppliers accountable for continuous improvement. For example, Kraft Heinz is making progress on its commitment to switch to exclusively cage-free eggs, and has a commitment to sustainably source 100% of Heinz Ketchup tomatoes by 2025 in accordance with its Sustainable Agricultural practices.
Greener Operations At Kraft Heinz Canada, sustainability success is found at all levels of the organization: • At the company’s headquarters in Don Mills, Ontario, employees led the elimination of the majority of non-recyclable, single-use cups and utensils used by 400+ employees at the office every day. The initiative diverts more than 120,000 single-use cups from landfills yearly and nearly 10,000 pounds of singleuse plastic waste. • The Kraft Heinz sales office in Dartmouth Nova Scotia is a LEED-certified building with sustainable features, including a green roof, electric vehicle charging stations, solar power panels, rainwater collection, geothermal heating, motion sensor lighting, shuttle bus service, and more. • At the Mont Royal manufacturing facility, dedicated employee teams for water, energy and waste optimization work towards achieving the company’s sustainable manufacturing targets. The efforts include everything from water reduction in the boiler room, to LED lighting in the warehouse, to diverting a large portion of waste to animal feed. • Over the past year, the Milton Distribution Centre has diverted more than five million pounds of product from landfill.
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER–JUNE/JULY 2021
to the Table
WELCOMING EVERYONE At Kraft Heinz Canada, diversity, inclusion and belonging are major drivers of creativity, innovation and growth
uilding a diverse and inclusive workplace culture isn’t about simply writing a policy — it requires action. Kraft Heinz, which was named one of the World’s Best Employers 2021 by Forbes, is a shining example of a workplace that is taking meaningful action on diversity, inclusion and belonging globally. The company’s commitment is one of six core values, all of which start with “we:” “We demand diversity.” “Kraft Heinz Canada is committed to building a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture, where everyone is welcome at our table,” says Andrea Scott, Employee Lead for Kraft Heinz Canada’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging committee, which tackles education, awareness, ally-ship and programming. “We foster a work environment that embraces differences and values the unique perspectives and lived experiences of our global workforce.” Kraft Heinz believes diversity, inclusion and belonging are not just the right thing to do, but are also major drivers of creativity, innovation and growth for its business because people can be their full and best selves at work. Globally, the company’s diversity, inclusion and belonging commitment focuses on three strategic areas: hiring and growing talent from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, developing inclusive leaders, and tracking and reporting on its progress. How does this come to life in Canada? Kraft Heinz Canada supports several local initiatives and partnerships that put that commitment into action: • Being a signatory to the BlackNorth Initiative’s CEO Pledge against systemic anti-Black racism. Actions to date include partnering with local
organizations like the Ethnic Food Incubator, spearheaded by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce and delivered by Spring Activator, and outreach to Black student organizations at universities. • Recruiting partnerships with organizations such as Ready, Willing & Able and Lime Connect to support job seekers with disabilities. • A partnership with the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management’s “Return to Work” program for people returning to work after career absences (e.g., mothers). • Partnering with the Hockey Diversity Alliance to grow the game with young Canadians from underrepresented communities who may experience barriers to playing. • Flying the multi-coloured Pride flag every June and participating in employee-driven Pride events to support and celebrate the LGBTQ2+ community. • Training for People Managers to help support employees who may be struggling with mental health issues and to foster a more inclusive workplace. • Local days of learning associated with topics such as International Women’s Day, Emancipation Day, Orange Shirt Day, International Day for People with Disabilities, and more. “As an employee of the company for 25 years, I’m proud to say I work for Kraft Heinz for a variety of reasons,” says Scott. “That includes the quality products we make for Canadians, the passionate people I work with every day, and because we welcome everyone at our table.”
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KRAFT HEINZ CANADA’S PANTRY DAY INITIATIVE HELPS
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s Canadians struggle through a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kraft Heinz Canada will be there to partner with Food Banks Canada on the second year of its Pantry Day program to help feed Canadians experiencing food insecurity. In May 2020, Kraft Heinz Canada stepped up to support those in need by donating 1 million meals to Food Banks Canada as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for volunteers working on the frontlines of Canadian food banks. In October 2020, Kraft Heinz launched Kraft Heinz Pantry Day. An annual event occurring on October 16, World Food Day, where 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. It’s the largest one-day food matching program in Food Banks Canada’s history. “Food Banks Canada has seen an increase in food bank use as more Canadians experience financial hardship and food insecurity amid COVID-related closures,” says Matt Bruce, Senior Brand Manager, Community Programming and Corporate Partnerships at Kraft Heinz Canada. “We knew we had to do our part to support Canadians during this time of need." In May alone, Canada lost 68,000 jobs and the unemployment rate rose to 8.2%, according to Statistics Canada, as lockdowns intended to curb the third wave of COVID continued to weigh on the economy. Kraft Heinz Pantry Day marks another chapter in Kraft Heinz's history of supporting food banks in Canada. Through the Pantry Day initiative Kraft Heinz has committed to donating $20 million of food over the next 5 years to support Food Banks Canada, which serves about 650 affiliated food banks across the country.
“No one should ever have to wonder where their next meal is coming from," says Bruno Keller, President of Kraft Heinz Canada. “That's why our commitment to Food Banks Canada is so important. Today, 1 in 8 Canadian households experiences food insecurity. This is an issue that affects all of us and, as the largest food company in Canada, we believe it's our responsibility to help." The Pantry Day initiative is proudly supported by the efforts of more than 1,400 employees across the country, including about 1,000 at our Mont Royal plant who have been working 24/7 since the pandemic began to ensure we meet the increased demand from Canadian consumers and food banks. For more information about the program, including a full list of participating products and retailers, please visit KHPantryDay.ca
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KRAFT HEINZ CANADA BRINGS EXCITEMENT TO STORE SHELVES WITH CROWD-PLEASING New Kraft Hazelnut Line Extensions
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After the breakthrough launch in 2020, Kraft Hazelnut Spread is back with two new offerings. Crunchy is filled with real hazelnut bits adding the extra crunch that consumers crave. With sugar as the principal barrier for consumers buying this category, new Less Sugar offers the same delicious taste, with 45% less sugar than original Kraft Hazelnut Spread. Made with no palm oil and low in saturated fat, both are proudly prepared in Canada
Kraft Heinz Introduces PürGrains
Kraft has introduced a plant-based line of single-serve dishes powered by ancient grains and bold, globally inspired flavours. Ready to serve in 90 seconds, the line is non-GMO-certified and rich in essential nutrients like fibre and iron. There are no artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives. This new line bridges the gap between wellness and enjoyment. Crafted with real and simple ingredients like quinoa, barley, and whole grain rice, it is available in three flavours: Thai Style Garlic Chili, Aztec Chipotle, and Santorini Lemon Dill.
Introducing KD Flavour Boost At Kraft Heinz we are continually developing impactful innovation we know Canadian consumers will love. Our priority is to bring new products to the shelf that will drive consumer interest, basket size and profitability. – Diana Frost
Canada’s #1 Mac and Cheese brand is bringing a bold new twist to the same cheesy taste consumers know and love from KD. New add-in KD Flavour Boost packets deliver an exciting taste experience. Available in five limited-edition flavours: Buffalo Wings, Jalapeño, Poutine, Butter Chicken and Cotton Candy. This will drive a premium basket add-on by offering bold and buzzworthy flavours that resonate with Millennials and Gen-Z.
Chief Growth and Sustainability Officer
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Heinz Introduces CROWDSAUCED
Consumers are seeking flavoured inspiration to add sizzle to their favourite meals. So, Heinz is leveraging on-trend flavours shared by Canadians on social media to bring exciting and disruptive news to the category with the launch of three outstanding mash-up combinations: Tarchup: a perfect combo for fish and chips and seafood; Wasabioli: ideal for sandwiches and burgers; and Hanch: a perfect duo for wings and pizza. The fastest growing segments in sauces are comprised of bold and internationally inspired sauces. These exciting mash-ups are available for a limited time only, so get yours today!
Lactose-Free Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Spread the word! The #1 cream cheese in Canada has expanded its lineup to include new lactosefree offerings. The expansion by Philadelphia comes as the lactose-free segment is growing across all categories, given that 1-in-6 Canadians consider themselves lactose-intolerant and 37% are looking to reduce lactose. Proudly made with 100% Canadian milk, Philadelphia lactose-free is available in brick and tub format for consumers to enjoy as a spread or in baking and cooking.
CRAVE All-Day Breakfast Offerings
Breakfast is available all day with new, ridiculously good CRAVE frozen breakfast entrées! Introducing CRAVE Double Sausage Bacon-Loaded Tots and CRAVE Steak ‘N Eggs with Loaded Potatoes to provide consumers with the high-quality premium flavours and taste that have made CRAVE the top brand in the premium frozen segment. And joining the breakfast flavours, CRAVE has also launched Pesto Ravioli with Italian Sausage and Baked Chicken and Ham Macaroni and Cheese. So, go ahead, show your mouth a good time with new CRAVE line extensions!
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AHEAD OF THE
k c a P l a t i g Di At Kraft Heinz Canada, a digital transformation puts consumers at the centre of the business
“Not only are we investing in how we use data to communicate and engage with consumers, but the back-end infrastructure is also incredibly important,” says Frost. “Without it, you don’t have the ability to flex to the demands that are constantly changing, both from the consumer and the retailer perspective.”
o the lucky people who got their hands on the "world’s slowest puzzle” from slow-pouring Heinz Ketchup, with 570 identical, all-red, ‘H-shaped’ pieces, the activity was an amusing way to pass some time during last year’s lockdown. For Kraft Heinz Canada, the puzzle was the buzzgenerating result of a new marketing capability called “The Kitchen,” an internal agency dedicated to understanding and acting on inflection points in culture, based on social insights. And it was just one example of the company’s world-class digital transformation brought to life. While a digital transformation had been underway for the past couple of years, Kraft Heinz accelerated its plans given COVID-19 and rapidly shifting consumer needs. “First and foremost, we are a consumer-obsessed organization, and ultimately, the purpose of our digital transformation is to deliver on consumer needs,” says Diana Frost, Chief Growth and Sustainability Officer at Kraft Heinz Canada. “All of our digital transformation goals are focused on putting the consumer at the centre of our decisions.” Driving growth by focusing on consumer needs is the first of three interconnected pillars in the digital transformation plan. It includes personalized, relevant campaigns and content; marketing measurement and optimization; digital engagement (e-commerce); portfolio innovation and renovation based on consumer insights; and more. The second pillar is strengthening its retailer relationships through operational efficiencies and engagement. This includes leveraging artificial intelligence, so Kraft Heinz can better deliver on its sales forecast accuracy; developing a “perfect store” strategy for an omni-channel consumer experience; and leveraging digital for pricing and promotional trade planning and monitoring.
The third pillar involves establishing advanced data capabilities to inform its business decisions, made possible by investments in modern infrastructure. Last year, Kraft Heinz was able to decommission its on-premises data warehouses in just nine months, moving half a trillion records into the Snowflake platform running on Microsoft Azure. Kraft Heinz now has a single, unified data hub that drives its day-to-day operations globally. The data hub is also scalable and flexible enough to support new digital transformation projects.
An additional benefit of the new data platform is having access to data from first-party data sources. Having first-, second- and third-party data is critically important for Kraft Heinz to deliver on personalization and engagement, says Frost. “Gone are the days of averaging consumer demographics like the 25- to 34-year-old suburban mom,” she says. “We are focused on understanding not only demographics, but psychographics, including behaviours and interests, and then serving up more personalized conversations with consumers.” Ultimately, the digital transformation and its advanced capabilities enable both Kraft Heinz Canada and its retail partners to better understand and serve consumers. “We are aiming for strong engagements with consumers by building unique and varied content and focusing on creating unique experiences that resonate with our audiences,” says Frost. “It’s only through this engagement that we’re able to learn more about our audience and develop those deeper connections to ultimately partner with our retailers and continue driving mutual growth for our categories together.”
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Combining the goodness of real ancient grains with bold global flavours in one convenient package.
Start Ship September 6, 2021