Canadian Grocer June/July 2022

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star WOMEN

Squeezed! The impact Sweet on The lowdown on of rising prices chocolate! carbon neutral foods






6 x 340mL format available in 4 flavours: Cranberry

Cranberry Mango

Pink Cranberry

Lite Cranberry © 2022 Ocean Spray International, Inc.

Cheers to all the

“SPARKLING” WINNERS Of the 2022 Star Women in Grocery Award!



June/July 2022 || Volume 136 - Number 4

Cover Story



7 || Front Desk 21 || Food Bytes 23 || Eating in Canada People 9 || The Buzz

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

12 || Spice queen

Shivani Dhamija is bringing quality Indian spices and sauces into Canadian kitchens

Ideas 15 || Shifting priorities


IBM’s new survey reveals climate and cybersurity is topof mind for Canadian CEOs

17 || Empire’s new loyalty play

Aisles 75 || Thirsty for more

Canadians are seeking something a little extra from their beverages Innovation spurred by consumer interest in health and indulgence is helping chocolate to sweet sales



81 || Carbon neutral foods: Four things to know

We cut through the confusion surrounding this food claim

82 || New on shelf

Shining the spotlight on the latest products hitting shelves

Express Lane 84 || Prioritizing mental health camh’s Dr. Donna Ferguson

on how to better support employees and build a better workplace


A RED ALERT ON RISING FOOD COSTS 61 With inflation on the rise, grocers need to get creative to keep customers coming and margins manageable

Execs Michael Medline and Sandra Sanderson explain the strategy behind joining Scene+

79 || Raising the bar

25 Meet our incredible 2022 Star Women in Grocery winners!


WHAT’S UP WITH E-COMM? 65 Experts weigh in on the trends at play and what the future might hold for online grocery Follow us on     @CanadianGrocer     @CanadianGrocerMagazine     Canadian Grocer Magazine

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER




Front desk PUBLISHER

Vanessa Peters


Shellee Fitzgerald


Kristin Laird


Josephine Woertman


Michael Kimpton


Sandra Parente


Megan Judkins


Lina Trunina


Valerie White


Katherine Frederick


Karishma Rajani


Juan Chacon

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EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, OPERATIONS Derek Estey EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, CONTENT & COMMUNICATION Joe Territo MAIL PREFERENCES: From time to time other organizations may ask Canadian Grocer if they may send information about a product or service to some Canadian Grocer subscribers, by mail or email. If you do not wish to receive these messages, contact us in any of the ways listed above. Contents Copyright © 2022 by EnsembleIQ, may not be reprinted without permission. Canadian Grocer receives unsolicited materials (including letters to the editor, press releases, pro­ motional items and images) from time to time. Canadian Grocer, its affiliates and assignees may use, reproduce, publish, republish, distribute, store and archive such submissions in whole or in part in any form or medium whatsoever, without compensation of any sort. ISSN# 0008-3704 PM 42940023 Canadian Grocer is Published by Stagnito Partners Canada Inc., 20 Eglinton Avenue West, Ste. 1800, Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1K8. Printed in Canada


It’s time to celebrate our industry’s remarkable women There is no disputing working women in Canada have had a tough time of it these past few years. The early days of the pandemic saw women’s participation in the workforce plunge to a 30-year low. And while RBC Economics recently reported “women have surged out of the pandemic” and are now participating in the labour force at a rate that surpasses pre-pandemic levels, challenges remain. Indeed, a stubborn wage gap and chronic underrepresentation of women in executive-level jobs persists, the report concludes. A few weeks back, the results of another survey showed working women in Canada are worried the flexibility they’ve enjoyed during the pandemic will soon disappear. As women attempt to juggle career and home responsibilities, The Prosperity Project’s report revealed an astonishing 45% of women surveyed said they would quit their jobs if asked to return to the office full-time. In a post on The Prosperity Project’s website, founder Pamela Jeffery wrote that we must continue to heed the important lessons about workplace flexibility learned during the pandemic to keep women working. With so many challenges facing working women, we feel it’s more important than ever to shine a light on their achievements. We are thrilled to reveal the 49 outstanding women who are our 2022 Star Women in Grocery winners. It was a privilege to put together this issue and be reminded of how much women contribute to this industry and how deep the talent runs. Among this year’s winners there are women who have reached the c-suite, there are

innovation and supply chain leaders, there are women working hard to make their workplaces more inclusive, and those who are finding truly meaningful ways to give back to the communities they serve. Not only are these women smart and accomplished, as you read their interviews (starting on page 25) you’ll see they’re also resilient, passionate about their work, and they’ve got lots of great advice to share, too. We’re excited to be celebrating this year’s winners, in person, at the Star Women awards breakfast in Toronto on Sept. 28. We hope you can join us!

Shellee Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief

Keep up to date on the latest news by signing up for our e-newsletter. It’s free and we’ll deliver it to your inbox four times a week. Visit to subscribe June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Congratulations to

Margaret Hudson on receiving the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix Lifetime Achievement Award We couldn’t be prouder of Margaret’s demonstrated leadership and the family business’ continued success in offering innovative and quality eggs and egg products. For more than 130 years, Burnbrae Farms and the Hudson family have always focused on sustainability, proudly working to make a positive difference for Canadian families.

Learn more about Burnbrae Farms and our sustainability efforts, visit

The Buzz

The latest news in the grocery biz

OPENINGS PROVIGO marked the grand reopening of its Provigo Le Marché Kirkland store in suburban Montreal in early June. After extensive renovations and an investment of $5.6 million, the completely revamped store features an improved design and layout, which at 61,000 sq. ft., is smaller than the original store. Provigo says its customers want a smaller, friendlier store that’s easy to shop. Despite the smaller footprint, the retailer says it has managed to increase its assortment by redesigning the layout and reorganizing shelf space. With the new store, Provigo has also launched its new concept that emphasizes restaurant-quality, ready-to-eat meals as well as local products. Provigo says it has added 2,500 local Quebec products, across all departments, to its existing local assortment. “More than ever, buying local is an important part of our strategy,” said Pascal Lauzon, the retailer’s senior category director, Quebec, in a statement. “We are proud to expand our local product offering and to highlight the expertise and know-how of Quebec businesses.”

Aburi Restaurants Canada has moved into the grocery business. In June, the company unveiled ABURI MARKET, a premium Japanese grocery store in West Vancouver. The 4,000-sq.-ft. shop is located at 1350 Marine Drive in a space previously occupied by Meinhardt Fine Foods. Aburi’s chief operating officer, Noriaki Okubo told Canadian Grocer many of the store’s products are sourced directly from Japan, with an emphasis on items new to the Canadian market.


The owners behind Aburi Market are offering West Vancouver shoppers restaurant-quality Japanese fare

Provigo has unveiled its revamped Kirkland store in Montreal. Along with the new design, the store offers more restaurant-­ quality meals and local products

Drawing on its restaurant expertise, Aburi specializes in prepared foods (accounting for about 65% of its assortment) offering fresh sushi, made-to-order bowls, sliced-to-order Iwate Prefecture A5 wagyu beef, desserts and more. “Customers can now have a high-end Japanese restaurant experience in their home,” says Okubo. Aburi’s restaurants include Miku and Minami, with locations in both Vancouver and Toronto.

Pitchfork Market & Kitchen is planning a second location in Saskatoon, this time downtown

Saskatoon’s PITCHFORK MARKET & KITCHEN has announced plans to open a second location in the city’s downtown in early 2023. Like its first store, which opened last June, the grocery/restaurant concept will have a chef-inspired kitchen that will be “the heart and soul of the store.” At 18,000 sq. ft., the new Pitchfork will be larger than the first (which is 7,500 sq. ft.) and will feature a 100seat restaurant. Chris Brychun, director of retail operations, told Canadian Grocer the long-term plan is to expand Pitchfork’s footprint across Western Canada. “Our ownership group’s vision of this is [for it] to become a chain,” he said. Pitchfork is owned by Arbutus Properties. Okanagan Falls, B.C., finally has a grocery store. BELICH AG FOODS has set up shop in the town that has been without a grocery store for three years. The 12,000-sq.-ft., full-service grocery store occupies a space that previously housed an IGA. The new store is operated by father-and-son duo Mike and Kyle Belich, long-time grocers who most recently ran a SuperValu in Burnaby, B.C. COSTCO WHOLESALE opened its second location in Oshawa, Ont., in June. Located at 100 Windfields Farm Drive East, the 161,391-sq.-ft. warehouse has an optical centre, large food court, a self-checkout area and an adjoining gas station with 24 pumps.

Kyle and Mike Belich at their new store in Okanagan Falls, B.C.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER



Walmart Canada announced changes to its leadership team as part of its “journey to transform the customer experience.” Nabeela Ixtabalan is now chief operations officer—she was previously the company’s EVP of people and corporate affairs; Sam Wankowski has shifted from chief operations officer and is now chief merchandising officer; Laurent Duray has stepped into the role of chief e-commerce officer—he was previously SVP of fresh, grocery and consumables; and John Bayliss has taken on the newly created role of EVP, transformation officer. Bayliss previously held the role of SVP of logistics and supply chain.

Nabeela Ixtabalan Darrell Jones

Margaret Hudson


Sam Wankowski

At its recent STORE 2022 conference, the Retail Council of Canada presented DARRELL JONES of Save-OnFoods/Pattison Food Group and Burnbrae Farms’ MARGARET HUDSON with its CANADIAN GRAND PRIX LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. The award recognizes senior executives who have demonstrated outstanding service and commitment to Canada’s grocery industry. Fresh St. Market’s Vancouver House location won a Gold in the 2021 Shop! Design Awards

Laurent Duray

M&M Food Market has announced that after eight years at the helm, CEO Andy O’Brien is departing the company at the end of July. In addition, Allan Lindsay, SVP marketing & operations, will become the company’s new president.

John Bayliss

Photography by Chantale Lecours

30 seconds with …


THE LONGO FAMILY FOUNDATION has gifted Toronto’s Humber College $5 million. The funds will be used to provide scholarships and seed funding for new businesses, while also supporting mentoring and skills development. The College says its Faculty of Business and Centre for Entrepreneurship will be renamed the Longo Faculty of Business and Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship. 10 CANADIAN GROCER

|| June/July 2022


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.

Silver Winner

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


20 22

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


Canadian Grocer was recognized recently by the NATIONAL MAGAZINE AWARDS: B2B! We nabbed a Silver Award in the Best Column or Regularly Featured Department category for our People profiles. (Turn to page 12 to check out this issue’s profile of the Shivani Dhamija, founder of Shivani’s Kitchen)

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


By Danny Kucharsky

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


With their healthier, functional version of a chocolate bar, the founders of Mid-Day Squares are taking on the snack world


2B :B


Who you need to know



2B :B

Anthony Longo, president and CEO of Longo’s, at the unveiling of Humber College’s Longo Faculty of Business and Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship in June


Andy O’Brien

FRESH ST. MARKET’S Vancouver House location wins Gold at the 2021 SHOP! DESIGN AWARDS in the supermarket/grocery category. Winners of the prestigious award are recognized for excellence in design, originality in use of space and materials, and quality of concept execution. The Fresh St. Market team worked with its longtime partner King Retail Solutions to come up with the winning design.

Congratulations Darrell Jones

On behalf of all 22,000 team members at Save-On-Foods, we congratulate you on the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix Lifetime Achievement award. Thank you for always going the extra mile for our teams, our customers, and our communities, and for all you have done to shape the retail food industry for more than 46 years.


Who you need to know

SPICE QUEEN Shivani Dhamija is bringing quality Indian spices and sauces into Canadians’ kitchens By Rebecca Harris Photography by Aaron McKenzie Fraser


hivani Dhamija, founder of Halifax-based Shivani’s Kitchen, didn’t learn to cook until she left home for university. “I was that student who would call their mom and ask, ‘I have added the dal, how much water should I add?’” says Dhamija. “It took me three years to make an okay dish everyone could tolerate.” Late blooming aside, Dhamija has fond food memories from her childhood in a small town in India shopping at the bazaar with her mother, buying everything fresh: produce, chicken, eggs. And her mom and aunts were always cooking at home, using classic Indian spice blends. “When I was young, my mom would buy bulk spices from a wholesaler,” recalls Dhamija. “I would ask her, ‘why are you not just buying a chana masala packet? Every time you make chickpea curry, you’re making a fresh blend.’ And she would say, ‘I don’t know what they’re adding. I’m not going to buy that.’” Her mother’s passion for quality ingredients inspired Dhamija’s approach to her food business, which produces a line of authentic Indian spice blends in six varieties: butter chicken, curry, tandoori, vindaloo, chai and garam masala. The spice blends are 100% natural and contain no filler like garlic, ginger or salt. Shivani’s Kitchen also makes frozen, preservative-free, ready-to-use Indian sauces available in five varieties: butter chicken (vegan and vegetarian), curry, korma and tikka sauce. The sauces have no salt or gluten, and contain ingredients produced by local farmers. In Canada, she tried different brands of Indian sauces and felt they were too tangy compared to what she’d make at home. For the Shivani’s Kitchen lineup, “We make my homestyle sauce and as soon as they are made, we freeze them in tubs because they have no preservatives,” she says. “I’m no professional chef—I’m just a consumer who wants their products to be great quality.” While Dhamija has found a recipe for success in the food business, it’s not a career path she envisioned. In India, Dhamija got her BA in sociology and went on to study public relations. In 2011, she moved to Canada, enrolling in the PR program at Fanshawe College in London, Ont. After graduating, she moved to Halifax, but couldn’t find a job in her field. So, she got a customer service job at a recreation and sports centre. While working there, Dhamija was

asked by a friend if she could make Indian food for her brother, who was missing food from home. That sparked the idea to launch an Indian meal-delivery service in 2014, which Dhamija ran for four years under the name Shivani’s Kitchen. Along with the meal-delivery business, Dhamija held cooking classes. Her students would ask where she got her spices, as they had trouble finding them. (Answer: India and Toronto, always buying in bulk and blending them herself.) Dhamija sensed a new opportunity. “There is a need and a demand for Indian spices as people are looking for new food and cooking experiences,” she says. Dhamija began selling her spice blends to her cooking class patrons and then at farmers markets. In 2018, she opened a takeout restaurant at Seaport Farmers’ Market, a popular Halifax tourist spot. Dhamija wasn’t looking to get into the restaurant business: The market wanted to give her a permanent spot, but an $80,000 investment was needed for the space; she’d have to sell more than spices. The location gave Dhamija the space to run the restaurant business and produce a retail product line. In 2019, Sobeys became the first major retail partner for Shivani’s Kitchen, selling the spices at its Halifax stores. However, Dhamija would soon have to pivot yet again. When the pandemic hit, suddenly “there were no cruises, there were no tourists and we were very far from the locals,” explains Dhamija, who had to close the restaurant. “Those times were very hard.” Dhamija’s next move was born out of necessity but also her tenaciousness. “I think I have a bug in me that I don’t give up,” she says. “And whatever opportunity is there, I grab it.” Dhamija poured her efforts into her spice and sauce business, opening a production plant near Windsor, N.S. The products are now sold in Sobeys, Foodland and Supercentre stores throughout Atlantic Canada, at a growing number of natural grocers in Ontario, and online in Canada and the United States. The plan is to export the Shivani’s Kitchen lineup across North America in the next two years. The company recently developed paneer for grocers’ HMR offer and is launching a line of ready-to-eat meals. Although her path has taken her in different directions and has had its difficulties, Dhamija is not easily discouraged. “I love challenges,” she says. “That’s probably one of the reasons why I’m here.” CG

30 seconds with …

SHIVANI DHAMIJA What do you like best about your job?

I like everyday challenges. Even if they don’t allow me to sleep. I am really pumped up every morning and I just love that there is something new that day.

What inspires you or keeps you passionate about what you do?

I have made so much investment into the business; I cannot give up right now. So, I have to be passionate about it.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? You’ll probably see me in the gym; I cannot miss my workout. I like being outside, spending time with my kids, and walking my dog.

What would you say is your favourite food? I love nachos. People ask me all the time, “What is your favourite Indian restaurant?” And I tell them I eat Indian all day. I don’t go out to eat Indian. I go out to eat burgers and nachos.

What’s your favourite Shivani’s Kitchen product? My most popular spice blend is garam masala and I say it’s the queen of my pantry; I cannot live without it. I add it in everything. It’s like my salt and pepper.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER






SHIFTING PRIORITIES In the latest edition of IBM’s Institute of Business Value annual CEO study, 3,000 CEOs in 43 countries were surveyed to better understand their priorities in today’s complex environment. For the first time, the majority of Canadian respondents (56%) ranked sustainability as a high priority, a giant leap from 31% in 2021. “It’s not entirely clear why there was this increase, but there are a few things to consider,” said Jean-François Barsoum, senior innovation executive at IBM Canada, in an email interview with Canadian Grocer. The first is the number of extreme weather events in Canada over the past year. “There’s also been evidence that consumers’ concern over environmental issues has grown,” added Barsoum. The study notes that pressure to act on sustainability is mounting. CEOs in Canada report receiving the greatest pressure from board members (79%) and investors (68%) as opposed to consumers (17%). Additional pressure comes from regulators (56%), government (55%) and ecosystem partners (52%). Pressure from employees came in at just 12%. Barsoum noted another factor

could be that most CEOs (80%) believe sustainability investments will not only accelerate business growth but will also improve business results within the next five years. Notably, cybersecurity was the only challenge weighing more heavily on Canada’s CEOs than sustainability. It was cited as a top priority by 57% of Canadian CEOs in 2022, up from 46% in 2021. “Cybersecurity awareness appears to be growing ever more important in the face of increasingly costly and frequent attacks, the cost of which rose to $6.75 million per incident on average last year, an all-time high for Canada,” said Barsoum. In the face of these challenges, what’s a CEO to do? “Although most organizations are building this plane while flying it, there is a strong case for optimism—as long as business leaders remember that this is not a ‘one and done’ process,” said Barsoum. “Transformational sustainability does not end once leaders have built and integrated certain capabilities. Anticipating the need for new capabilities and approaches is an important part of driving continued progress.”—Rebecca Harris

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


DOES YOUR BEEF PROGRAM MAKE THE GRADE? Canadians are looking for the good stuff.

Grade Expectations

Promotion and Marketing Support

When your customers bite into a juicy steak or roast, they want to enjoy high-quality beef produced in Canada. The Canadian beef grading system helps ensure the beef offered will meet expectations every time. Here’s how to choose a beef program with the right combination of quality and value your customers are looking for.

To learn more about the Canadian beef grading system and for more information about the programs and services available from the Canada Beef team to promote and expand your Canadian beef category contact: Nick Chirichella, Director Channel Marketing





A good value choice offering lower levels of marbling and typically fewer calories than Canada AAA and Prime Grades. Canada AA beef can be tender and flavourful and performs well with all popular cooking methods.

Canadian beef brands that include only the most marbled (Top Tier) beef within the Canada AAA grade are an excellent choice for steakhouse-quality beef. These brands offer beef with the very best marbling, flavour and juiciness within the AAA grade.

Canada and the U.S. use the same marbling thresholds to define high-quality beef grades. The above illustrations are reduced reproductions of the Official USDA Marbling Photographs prepared for the U.S. Department of Agriculture by and available from the American Meat Science Association.

A great choice for high-quality beef. Canada AAA offers higher levels of marbling than Canada AA and is well suited for all popular cooking methods. Canada AAA will become a delicious family favourite when grilled, broiled, simmered or roasted to perfection.

An extraordinary choice for exclusive steakhouses, hotels and serious home chefs. Canada Prime is selected for maximum marbling, flavour and juiciness and only available in limited supply. |


Empire’s new loyalty play


Execs Michael Medline and Sandra Sanderson explain the strategy behind joining Scene+ By David Brown When it comes to grocery loyalty click on one of their websites or programs in Canada, Loblaw has place an order through Voilà. been the clear front-runner for “There are 10 million members years with its PC Optimum proof Scene and we know over 40% gram—and it wasn’t even close. of them don’t shop our banners But in early June, Empire Comtoday,” said Sanderson. “That was pany Limited, the second-biggest a huge new customer acquisition grocery business in the counplaybook. And Scene members try with banners that include skew younger customers, younger Sobeys, IGA, Foodland and othfamilies, and that’s great for [the] ers, announced its intention to at grocery business.” least challenge Loblaw with a bold The value of the data is clear move to take an ownership stake in the cost to Empire to become a in the Scene+ loyalty program co-owner: nothing. alongside co-founders Scotiabank “We had many suitors,” said and Cineplex. Medline of interest from possible Challenge yes, but can they loyalty partners who want data (L to R) Brian Porter, Scotiabank; Tracey Pearce, Scene+; Michael Medline, Empire; Ellis Jacob, Cineplex overcome Loblaw? on Empire’s regular customers. “Yeah sure,” said president and “Unlike hard goods and soft goods CEO Michael Medline in an interview [for Scene+] with customers and it was a where you might have a great customer with Canadian Grocer. “I don’t think right resounding success across every banner [that] comes in four to six times a year. Our away that will happen. But I think that, across the country [and] without excep- best customers come in more than once a with this program, we’ll be well on our tion across every age group, every gender. week. So, loyalty plays a greater role.” way to building the most dominant loy- We do think this is exactly what they’re Medline has been leading a years-long alty program for Canadians.” looking for.” process to overhaul Empire Company, Business leaders tend to make grand Beyond that, the deal speaks to just and in some ways this deal signals the statements when announcing their ini- how much big businesses—and retail near completion of the process. “The last tiatives. But in this case, it’s hard not to businesses, in particular—value cus- piece of the infrastructure of all that was see the significant impact the deal with tomer data today, enabling them to build loyalty and personalization,” he said. “I Scene+ could have. stronger bonds with existing customers. always knew that would be probably the Canadians love loyalty programs, “We’re going to be creating one of the last piece that would click into place.” and Scene+ is one of their favourites. most valuable and diverse datasets in It’s the last piece, but an important piece It already has a strong user base of 10 Canada,” said Sanderson. Scotia’s bank- and Medline thinks it will be impactful. million, which will certainly grow once ing data on its clients, combined with “Our competitor has done a nice job on Empire starts rolling it out to its custom- entertainment and dining data, will [loyalty], and that’s why I said this was ers in August. And while Scene+ started now have grocery data added to the mix. the piece of the puzzle that allows us to as a movie theatre loyalty program, it now “Bringing all of those diverse datasets compete and win,” he said. And while includes Expedia (for travel), Apple, Best together allows us to have a much better PC Optimum is believed to have about Buy, and more than 700 restaurants. understanding of our customers beyond 18 million members, Medline said the When Empire—which has been offer- the walls of our store,” she said. “That membership number, while important, ing customers Air Miles—was exploring allows us to deliver much more person- isn’t the only number he’s focused on. “I new loyalty program partners, customer alized communications and much more think there’s numbers and then there’s research revealed three key demands, relevant offers to them. We think that’s a experience,” he said. said Sandra Sanderson senior vice presi- game changer that’s going to be a source “The plan is not [about] how many dent of marketing for Sobeys. They want of competitive advantage for us.” members you have,” said Medline. “It’s to earn points easily and at several differBut joining Scene+ will also let Empire how thrilled your customers are and how ent places, have a variety of rewards, and reach new customers with offers to entice you excite them… And I’d rather actually be able to redeem those rewards easily. them to walk through the doors of their win on the second, which is excite cus“We tested out the value proposition nearest Sobeys (or IGA or Foodland) or tomers and thrill them.” CG

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER




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Piller’s Small Diameter Salami These charcuterie salamis come in three delicious new flavours, are conveniently pre-sliced, and perfectly snackable. They’re made for summer patio gatherings or picnics in the park. Available now, your customers can enjoy the delicious taste of Pepper Coated, Red Wine, or Roasted Garlic & Asiago.


|| June/July 2022

FOOD BYTES || Joel Gregoire

Food fight

As the pandemic’s impact wanes, competing with foodservice will again become critical The first part of 2022 has seen the pandemic enter a new phase with life, arguably, feeling more “normal” than at any other time over the past two years. For restaurants and the service industry more broadly, which bore much of the economic pain since 2020, the return to “normal” is undeniably a welcome relief. Following a long period of having to keep our distance from one another, breaking bread together at restaurants feels particularly gratifying. Since 2020, there have been businesses that have benefited and those that have suffered as a result of the pandemic. Lower sales at foodservice translated into gains at grocery retail. Even when dealing with a virulent virus, people still need to eat, and grocery

ATTITUDES TOWARDS HMR VS. FAST-FOOD RESTAURANTS 2022 “Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?” % agree

69% 66%

When deciding on takeout, I’m as likely to consider ready-made meals from grocery stores as I am takeout from fast-food

was the obvious go-to for all those meal occasions. With COVID-19 now prompting less fear, restaurants are well-positioned to claw back their share. For the grocery industry, the question is how to maintain these gains in a post-pandemic world. Home meal replacement’s (HMR) and grocerants’ importance have grown in recent years. Once regarded as a “nice-to-have” side business for grocers, there has been a qualitative expansion in the range of offerings at HMR across a range of banners. Indeed, three-in-five Canadians claim they buy prepared/made-to-order foods from HMR with half of these consumers doing so at least once a week, according to Mintel’s report on Home Meal Replacement & Grocerants in Canada. For many, HMR not only offers an alternative to cooking from home, but also to getting meals from restaurants and particularly from quick-service restaurants. Of those who use HMR, seven out of 10 agree that “when deciding on takeout, [they’re] as likely to consider ready-made meals from grocery stores as [they are] takeout from fast-food.” In other words, HMR programs not only make mealtime easier by providing an alternative to cooking, but for many they are also an alternative to restaurants. When asked what they saw as the main advantages of HMR compared to fast-food restaurants, having options available on site when grocery shopping was the most cited reason by those surveyed, followed by offering better value for money. In an era of surging inflation, the second reason undoubtedly holds added importance. Providing meals that are comparable to what one can get from either quickor full-service restaurants and at lower prices can bolster a grocer’s reputation for being a culinary destination that is easier on the wallet. Investing in HMR can also help drive in-store traffic, with two-thirds of HMR consumers indicating they are “more likely to shop at grocery stores that have a wide selection of ready-made meals available,” thereby providing an added point of differentiation compared to other grocers. As Canadians’ lives increasingly resemble what they looked like prior to the pandemic, grocers will undoubtedly experience more competition from foodservice. Through HMR and grocerants, grocery retailers offer Canadians an alternative to restaurants and an added incentive to shop and spend at their store as the pandemic winds down. CG

I feel better about getting ready-made meals from grocery stores than meals from fast-food restaurants


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 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Congratulations to all the

2022 STAR WOMEN ©From Unilever, a proud Gold sponsor of Star Women in Grocery Awards.

EATING IN CANADA || Kathy Perrotta

Inflation nation

Consumers are on the hunt for value. How will this impact where they eat? AS PANDEMIC concerns ease and consumer mobility returns, how will dine-at-home behaviours and needs influence meal and snacking choices against the backdrop of surging inflation? The size of the consumption prize has never been bigger. As Canadians continue to carve a pathway to the kitchen to meet a variety of meal and snack needs, it may surprise some to learn that the average Canadian consumes an item of food 12 times in an average day (up +1.2% versus pre-pandemic period). And while there’s a whole lot of eating going on, Canadians are also increasingly mindful of value.

Given the current pressure on consumers’ wallets, retailers should consider the opportunity to re-tool their home meal replacement offer and store experience to compete for out-of-home dollars

The consumption value trigger When evaluating consumption choices, the value trigger metric measured in Ipsos FIVE evaluates two key aspects: wanting to save money versus wanting good value for money. Today, good value for money factors into twice as many consumption decisions as compared to saving money. However, wanting to save money is up by 5% since January 2022. With more than eight in 10 meal occasions still prepared at home, more than a third (34%) of dinner choices are motivated by the value trigger. While most meals continue to be prepared from scratch, easy meal solutions have increased in popularity, giving consumers new ideas, easy access to new cultural cuisines and an expanding repertoire of meal options, which is particularly important as cooking fatigue continues to set into some households. It should be noted that eat rates of meal mainstays such as fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, bakery items and most meat proteins like chicken and burgers held steady in year-over-year tracking, while beef, pork, fish and seafood consumption all declined. Meanwhile, snacking has increased once again with afternoon and evening dayparts continuing to grow. Daily noshing habits remain driven by hunger, craving, comfort, ease, treat, indulgence, habit, health and good value for money.

Even with inflation as one of the new drivers of this reality, retailers should keep in mind that while meals and snacks are for functional sustenance, they are also an emotional anchor for consumers. More than two-thirds of consumers report that they treat themselves with items they buy, seeking small indulgences in difficult times. Retailers should be sure shelves are stocked with the categories and brands that their customers not only love but need during challenging times. And offer easy meal solutions targeted to specific households in appropriate pack sizes. Consider bundled solutions of foods, beverages and desserts that complement one another and offer value. Pent-up demand for foodservice Inflation has long been associated with a decline in restaurant dining as consumers avoid eating out to stretch their budgets. However, in these unique times, pent-up demand to return to restaurant dining has emerged. Out-of-home dining has increased share (compared to food retail) over 2021 and is up +12%. This annual share growth has stalled somewhat over the past couple of months; However, on-premise dining, which was decimated during mandated pandemic lockdowns, led gains. In the coming months, it will be critical for retailers to track foodservice performance to defend the certain return to out-of-home experiences. If the past two years has revealed anything, it has surely highlighted the interconnectedness of both channels. Given the current pressure on consumers’ wallets, retailers should consider the opportunity to re-tool their home meal replacement offer and store experience to compete for out-of-home dollars. Consider featuring meals prepared by chefs specializing in unique multicultural cuisines to authenticate the offer and drive in-store traffic. Affordable pleasures We’ve long been tracking the rise of premiumization in modern food culture and during lockdown we saw consumers prioritizing premium foods, along with foods providing comfort and satisfying cravings. While value and affordability is increasingly important, consumer demand for quality experiences, real food options and fresh, not processed solutions, also remains strong. As consumers continue to eat at home at much higher rates than during pre-pandemic times, they are also willing to treat themselves with value always top of mind. The sweet spot for retailers in this new reality is to ensure your consumers remain at the centre of your strategies to be able to offer the right products at the optimal balance of costs and benefits. CG

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

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER





For her leadership, passion and contributions to the grocery industry Ariane is an inspiring and dynamic Marketing leader, possessing both exceptional business acumen and a passion for imbedding the consumer at the forefront of decision-making. She creatively combines digital technology with more traditional marketing science to deliver both meaningful brand connections and business results. She acts with curiosity, passion, a sense of urgency and is frequently challenging the status quo. Ariane is an energetic agent of change and a respected leader not just at Clorox, but by agency and industry colleagues alike.

Star Women in Grocery

SUPERSTARS By Carolyn Cooper, Shellee Fitzgerald, Rebecca Harris and Kristin Laird

Meet the women making a difference in Canada’s grocery industry! a chief marketing officer, a sustainability pro, and a store manager with more than 30 years under her belt—these are just a few of the 49 winners of our 2022 Star Women in Grocery Awards. Canadian Grocer launched the Star Women in Grocery Awards back in 2012 to celebrate the remarkable women shaping Canada’s grocery industry. Nominated by their colleagues and selected by Canadian Grocer’s editorial team, this year’s winners are women who demonstrate leadership, get results and have a passion for what they do. Read on to learn about this year’s winners and prepare to be inspired! The following Q&As have been edited for length and clarity.Visit to read extended interviews with this year’s winners!

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER






Star Women in Grocery



Maple Leaf Foods


Biggest challenge faced in your career? Being a working mom. From the nervousness of planning for and going on maternity leave, to the return to work and now juggling two jobs: work and being a mom. I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself and accept that I can’t be in two places at once, and that I need to make and keep the boundaries that help me find the right balance. I make sure I’m 110% present and make the time count when I’m at work, and the same when I’m with my family. Thankfully, Maple Leaf Foods never makes me feel I need to sacrifice one for the other.

What's your proudest moment? One standout moment for me is the day, early on in my tenure at Sobeys, when I had the opportunity to tour the Safeway where I first worked at in Richmond, B.C. (Seafair) with Pierre St-Laurent, Empire’s COO. It was a surreal moment given that I had spent eight years of my life as a cashier and bakery clerk at this store. It was super fun to recognize the team members at this location and shine a spotlight on their efforts.

VP, eCommerce

How would you describe your leadership style/philosophy? I believe in servant leadership and providing my team as much freedom as possible, especially in the entrepreneurial (e-commerce) space we operate in. My most important job is to define our collective ambition, with the team’s input, of course, and then break down any barriers that get in their way. When they succeed, I succeed. What do you like most about your job? The people I get to work with every day, and the fact that we are building a business unit from the ground up. I’m surrounded by incredibly talented people who are equally as curious and ambitious as I am. What more could I ask for?

SVP, Retail Operations

Biggest career challenge? I’ve been exceptionally fortunate throughout my career. Sure, I’ve faced many of the challenges that, unfortunately, most women face at some point along the way including harassment, patronization, undermining, etc.—but thankfully nothing too damaging. Frankly, my biggest repeated challenge has been when I’ve thought I was ready for the next step in responsibility and/or challenge and my manager/ boss hasn’t necessarily agreed. As a result, I’ve had to leave some great organizations with amazing people and cultures, not because I necessarily wanted to, but because I felt the need to push myself to that next level. How would you describe your leadership style? My point of view is that a position of leadership is truly a position of servitude. It’s about removing barriers and bringing out the best in others, so they can show up and make their optimum contributions. Sure, at times, I can be tough when required, but I prefer to be approachable, provide open and honest feedback, and build people up.


Brandt Meats How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? When my father passed away in 1977, I was there to help my mother, Ida Brandt, after school. We had three retail deli stores in malls and a budding manufacturing and wholesale business. Together, with the help of our great management teams and staff, we have grown our business into what it is today. What is your leadership style or philosophy? I lead by example, and it trickles down through the rest of the company. Get up every day with the right attitude, work hard and celebrate our everyday victories, small or large. This makes it easier for us to hold ourselves to a high standard, and it is displayed in the products that we make. Do not be afraid of change, and never stop learning! What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest career achievements? Next year we will celebrate our 65th anniversary. It is hard to imagine where we have come from to now. I was 16 years old when my father passed away; my mother, an immigrant to Canada, and I were left to manage a young business in what was at that time a male-dominated industry. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish, and excited to see where we will go. I am happy to now work alongside my children, Melissa and Richard— our third generation—and continue to grow this family tradition.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER



Eileen Mac Donald

2022 Star Women in Grocery Award Winner!

I’m humbled to be acknowledged as a Star Woman in Grocery – what a distinguished award this is. I’ve worked across multiple sectors and the grocery sector is where I have felt most at home. This is a sector that emulates GS1 Canada’s foundational value of integrity always with a shared mindset of wanting to do the right thing and consistently deliver to their customers. I’d like to also congratulate all the 2022 and historical Star Women in Grocery Award winners - what an incredible group of women to be included in!

Eileen Mac Donald

CEO & President, GS1 Canada

Congratulations from your GS1 Canada Family Eileen, throughout your 20+ year tenure at GS1 Canada, your strong leadership has forged trusted industry partnerships and a peoplefirst culture. Thank you for being an authentic, inspiring leader who embodies our core values.



Kraft Heinz Canada


What are some of your career highlights? Since starting in CPG 20 years ago, I have had 17 different career experiences, from sales rep and account management all the way up to VP of sales and country lead. You name the role, I have done it!

How did you get into the grocery business? After university, I started the journey towards achieving my CA designation. I started with E&Y, but I knew that would be short term as I wanted to be part of a finance team that was ingrained in and supported business operations. I left E&Y after gaining valuable technical experience and worked for Mars Canada. There, I learned so much about the CPG industry and when an opportunity at Longo’s arose, the thought of learning the “other side” of the grocery world was intriguing.

Customer VP, Sobeys

Biggest challenge faced in your career? Being in a situation where I did not feel valued. I think it is safe to say we have all been there at some point in our lives either personally or professionally. It can be incredibly hard to stand up for yourself when you are in that situation, but it can also be the most rewarding thing you will ever do for yourself…Trust me, you are worth it! If you are not happy, only you can fix it. What is your leadership style? As a leader, I used to spend a lot of my time micromanaging. As I moved on to more senior roles, I have learned to step back—not only because I simply could not be everywhere at once but because I was also crushing my team. Empowering colleagues to run their business and allowing them to make mistakes while also having their backs is one of the most important things a leader can do to develop their people. How do you spend time outside of work? I have two small children who keep me very busy. We have a family cottage on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, which is where you will find us in the summer entertaining family and friends.

VP Finance

What keeps you passionate about your work? The fast pace and constant growth and innovation. I have been with Longo’s for eight years, always working in the finance function and can honestly say that every year has been so different and so fulfilling. I have been privileged to have been involved in many initiatives and projects over the years, supporting business growth and developing so much as a finance leader and professional throughout this time. What is the best career advice you've received? Trust your instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Never hesitate to speak up or challenge something. Sharing opinions, challenging perspectives and stimulating different points of view are often what gets us to the best results. What do you like to do for fun? I enjoy spending time with family and friends, being outdoors and staying active.


Star Women in Grocery




Kraft Heinz Canada

What is your biggest career achievement? Being able to navigate through the ever-changing environment that was created by the pandemic. I'm really proud of being a member of our corporate pandemic team, representing Ontario. [Our team] was able to be nimble in the midst of a lot of unknown factors, while being pragmatic and able to adjust, as needed, and execute and support the implementation of the various initiatives to ensure we provided a safe environment. We made sure all our decisions were at the forefront of overall health and safety for our employees and customers.

Biggest challenge faced in your career? Working from home throughout the pandemic has certainly been one of the most challenging times, but also one of the most important times in terms of personal growth and evolving my leadership style. Adapting to online meeting requirements led me to become more vocal in establishing boundaries for myself and the team to ensure we could successfully deliver results within business hours.

VP Human Resources Ontario and Health & Safety

How would you describe your leadership style/philosophy? My style is about focusing on collaboration and taking the time to get to know the people you work with. Whether it's your colleagues or whether it's your team, being able to understand what we all bring to our roles is important. I think in management, as a leader, regardless of what one's title may be, we need to focus on building strong teams that work well. And that doesn't mean working the same, but that we work well with each other and can communicate well with each other to achieve our objectives. What do you like to do when you’re not working? I wish I could say that I jump out of planes or something like that, but I don't! Fun for me means spending time with my family and creating those family moments and those opportunities to connect more deeply with each other.

Head of Marketing & Strategy – Taste Elevation

Greatest career achievement? My greatest achievement to date was being part of the team that brought together the strategic transformation plan for the company in 2020 as we shifted our portfolio management from category to consumer-driven platforms. Having the opportunity to collaborate as a North American and global team to deliver the strategic growth plan has been a one-of-a-kind experience that was exciting to see come to life. And that was just the beginning of our journey to deliver sustainable growth. What do you like most about your job? I feel privileged and honoured to work with such an amazing and talented group of individuals who are all passionate and committed to achieving our business goals together. The people on my team are my No. 1 priority, and that’s why I’m committed to helping them achieve their respective growth potential and career ambitions through coaching and/or mentoring. I now have the opportunity, and responsibility, to help develop the next generation of great leaders within our organization.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Calgary Co-op would like to recognize Susan Walters Food Operations Director 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!


Star Women in Grocery





Kruger Products

GS1 Canada

M&M Food Market

P&G Canada

What keeps you passionate about your work? I absolutely love marketing for its ability to move people and fuel business growth. I’ve never shied away from a challenge and love identifying opportunities or issues to create new, groundbreaking business solutions. Some days are tougher than others and what gives me inspiration and passion is attending conferences, reading industry articles or listening to podcasts. I also do more than my fair share of industry judging. It really helps me think of our business in a fresh way to drive creativity and growth.

What would you say is a career highlight? I believe there has been no bigger test of leadership than through this global pandemic. GS1 Canada was identified as essential to our constituent’s supply chain during the pandemic, which challenged us all both professionally and personally. It has been a real test of resilience and I am proud of the team for persevering during a time of personal and professional challenge.

What are you most proud of in your career? I'm going to say the team that I've had the good fortune to work with and how we've been able to pivot and address concerns, particularly during the COVID situation.

How did you get into the CPG business? They say you can never plan the future by the past! Growing up in a family of engineers, I had my sights set on an engineering career. After working for a couple years, I decided to complement my skills with an MBA. While at school, I came across a P&G sales internship posting that looked interesting. I was lucky enough to get in and have been at P&G for 19 remarkable years!

How would you describe your leadership style? I am a peoplefirst leader and I learned that the most important asset to any business is the team. It doesn't matter what your strategy is, what your budget is, who's on your board etc. You are not a leader if you don't have fellowship. To be privileged to work with incredibly bright, committed, focused and aligned team members is the best part of my job. My focus on people is reflected in the core of who I am as a person. GS1 Canada is a notfor-profit association; everything we achieve/deliver is based on our ability to garner trust. The speed of trust starts with the team.

Has mentorship been important to your career? It has. And I think what’s been most important regarding mentorship is knowing when you have to adjust or adapt your mentors. For instance, the mentor you had at the start of your career may not be the one you need in the middle or at the end of your career, because you’re growing. I’ve been so fortunate to have a lot of great mentors along the way.

Chief Marketing Officer

Best career advice you've received? The best career advice I ever received was about identifying my core strength or superpower and continuing to build on that strength versus focusing too much on other areas of opportunity. From there, I could surround myself with diverse thought leaders and a great team to help round out those other areas of opportunity, enabling me to deliver the best thinking and results. If you constantly surround yourself with similar people, you will never get diverse ideas. What do you do for fun? As an avid sports fan, I can often be found in a hockey rink, at a ski hill or on a football field. While my two boys, Alexander (15) and Andrew (13) love to watch live sporting events together as a family, my favourite pastime is to watch both of my boys in their chosen competitive sports. Sport teaches you so many lifelong lessons that will set you up for success.

CEO & President

How do you like to spend your time when you're not working? I'm very fortunate; I come from a family of seven girls and my sisters are my closest friends. I also enjoy spending time with long-term friends, my children and grandchildren, but most of all I enjoy the time I spend with my husband.

VP Innovation & Supply Chain

What keeps you passionate about the work you do? My MBA is in food and agri-business, and I just love everything there is to do with food—creating it, delivering it to customers. I just love it!

How would you describe your leadership style? Collaborative. My approach is that I don’t know everything, that’s why I hire great people. I’m a collaborative leader that lets people run the play, I don't micromanage. And I’ll never let somebody hang, I’ll be there to catch them. When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time? Oh, this is easy. I’m a cruiser. I have more than 50 cruises under my belt. I’ve been on two since COVID19 restrictions lifted this year and I’ve got a third one planned for later this year.

VP, Sales

What is your leadership philosophy? A great piece of advice I received many years ago was: “Lead in a way that other people want to follow you.” I approach leadership in an inclusive way. People always come first—I focus on building connections and trust and hold myself accountable to supporting and inspiring them. How do you promote DE&I in the workplace? From mentoring to supporting to leading several networks and initiatives at P&G, I have driven progress on key issues such as unconscious bias of Asian professionals and Francophone representation. During the peak of the pandemic, with rising anti-Asian sentiment, I sponsored anti-discrimination programs including a corporate match to the CanadaHelps Asian Solidarity Fund and Anti-Racism Fund, which has raised almost $900,000. What are you passionate about outside of work? I spend as much time as possible with my family, enjoying the outdoors. I have also rediscovered my passion for reading as my kids are finally old enough to let me have some time to myself!

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Alison Mcfarlane Private Label Product Manager, Farm Boy Ottawa, ON Congratulations and thank you to the incredible Empire teammates recognized by Canadian Grocer in this year’s Star Women in Grocery Awards. We are so proud to celebrate your accomplishments in driving innovation and excellence in the Canadian grocery retail industry and as part of the Empire family of companies.

Alison is a strong leader who has successfully launched more than 350 new products under the Farm Boy Private Label during each of the last three years. Her ability to deliver new product innovation to market with record speed is one of her many talents. In addition to new product management, Alison has launched multiple items from inception, all without ever compromising freshness or quality. Alison always ensures that the customer experience is at the forefront of everything she does.

Lucy Antonacci

Joumana Sida

Senior Category Manager, Deli & Prepared Foods, Longo’s - Toronto, ON

Director E-commerce Replenishment, Voilà Toronto, ON

Lucy is a tenured team member that every day lives the Longo’s culture of honesty, trustworthiness, and respect. Throughout her 25 years of service at Longo’s she developed an immense amount of industry experience through several roles. She is always learning and finds the thrill in hunting for new products, trends, industry changes, merchandising ideas, and store events. Lucy is well respected in the grocery industry for her expertise, collaboration, and ability to execute on plans.

Since joining Sobeys Inc., Joumana has not only driven successful business results, but she’s also proven herself to be an exceptionally strong leader. She was vital in launching and executing the ecommerce business Voilà by Sobeys in partnership with Ocado and was instrumental in establishing a wide product assortment, ensuring the available inventory is culturally driven. Joumana’s keen understanding of who our customers are is a true testament to her dedication to advance diversity and inclusion efforts in the grocery industry.

Jacquelin Weatherbee VP Communications & Corporate Affairs, Sobeys Toronto, ON Since joining the Sobeys team in 2015, Jacquelin has significantly strengthened the company’s communication portfolio and brand reputation. As the youngest member of the Executive Committee when appointed in 2019, Jacquelin was in the role of Vice President for only two months when the COVID-19 crisis began. Her focused response in a period of deep uncertainty led the brand to emerge as an industry leader. Jacquelin is also a Board of Trustees member at Strong Minds Strong Kids, an organization committed to promoting the mental well-being of children and youth.

Bonnie Birollo SVP Retail Operations, Sobeys - Calgary, AB As a member of Sobeys’ Executive Management Team, Bonnie is known for her expert decision-making and motivational leadership. Joining the team in March 2020 as the Senior Vice President of Operations in Western Canada, Bonnie was instrumental in keeping stores open during the first months of the pandemic. Additionally, she improved labour control, produced positive trending in sales, and achieved record-breaking fundraising. Known for her positive attitude, Bonnie’s thoughtful, people-first leadership inspires her teammates to always strive for their best.

Myra Dwyer

Sung Jo

Store Manager, Sobeys Mount Pearl, NL

Store Operator, Safeway Calgary, AB

Myra is a natural-born leader who prioritizes the career development of her team. Myra always looks for opportunities to improve and adopts data-driven strategies to find the best way forward for teammates, customers, and her community. Myra has made significant advances for the Mount Pearl store and for Sobeys Inc. since she joined the company 12 years ago. As a community ambassador, Myra ensures that her business plays a positive role in the community.

Sabrina Eels VP Finance, Longo’s Toronto, ON As Vice President of Finance at Longo’s, Sabrina is a trusted business leader and an indispensable member of the executive team. In addition to her regular duties and the increased workload related to COVID-19, Sabrina expertly navigated the Longo’s/Empire partnership agreement with finesse, efficiency, and agility. She lives and breathes the Longo’s culture, has a passion for mentoring and does what it takes to push both her peers and team to achieve greatness. Sabrina’s professionalism, dedication and relationship building sets an example to all those across the industry.

Sung Jo continually builds her business acumen, executes on deliverables, and exhibits exceptional team and customer-engagement skills. Community investment is also important to Sung and she has spearheaded several fundraising initiatives of significant benefit to the community. Sung contributes positively to the grocery industry not only by her commitment to community service but also by building an exceptionally strong team culture. She personifies what it means to lead with Sobeys values.

Eli Browne Director Corporate Sustainability, Sobeys Toronto, ON As Director of Corporate Sustainability, Eli has established Sobeys as a national leader in its commitments to a more sustainable future. Thanks to Eli, Sobeys was the first national grocer in Canada to eliminate plastic checkout bags – an achievement that diverts 800 million plastic bags from circulation annually. She’s also influenced other areas of sustainability including developing industry guidelines for animal welfare and ethical sourcing in the supply chain. One of Eli’s greatest qualities is her belief in the value of mentorship and her commitment to empowering her team.

Congratulations to Shilpa Mukhi, Vice President – Sales, P&G Canada For being a Leading Force for Growth and Good! Over her 19 year career at P&G, Shilpa has worked across the Canadian market in customer and strategy roles, with a track record of delivering strong growth through joint business planning and envisioning new opportunities beyond the core business. She is a people-first leader and makes an effort to connect people and ideas in ways that build trust with everyone she works with. As a mentor, leader and executive sponsor for several employee affinity networks and initiatives, Shilpa is a true champion for equality & inclusion and giving back to the community.

Congratulations to Shilpa and all the Winners of the Star Women in Grocery Award!



SVP, Supply Chain Operations & Digital Business Transformation

ADRIENNE PAGOT-GERAULT GM, Yogurt and Cultured Division

Nestlé Canada

Lactalis Canada

What do you like the most about your job? I have described this role as the best playground I have ever played in, and I do view it that way. I find it fascinating to navigate the ongoing twists and turns across the value chain, especially over the last few years. What I love the most is the “team sport” element—internally and externally. I learn from incredibly talented colleagues, industry partners and peers every day.

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? I’m curious by nature and driven by a need to really understand how things work, and it is this curiosity that inevitably led me to pursue science, specifically food science as a career. My journey to the grocery and CPG industry started with my passion for food and supporting nutrition with quality products that also taste good. I started out with a focus on infant and children’s nutrition, which naturally led me to dairy given its key dietary role and nutritional benefits. With this background, moving to yogurt and cultured was a natural fit for me.

Greatest achievements? I have had a lot of personal and team accomplishments that I am proud of. I hope the greatest achievement will be that I’ve been a positive role model for my two teenage children about career choices, loving what you do and believing you and your team(s) are capable of anything. What’s the best advice you’ve received? I have received so much great advice over the years. A few that have resonated with me are: As a leader you don't need to have all the answers, but rather have some really good questions. And be authentic, be you. Don’t be too focused on the illusive aspiration of “balance.” It is a dynamic thing. Just stay tuned-in to yourself to know where you are on the scale versus where you feel you should be for the moment. Anything else? I would encourage people to take chances professionally. Invest the time to listen, to better understand people and experience the joy of helping unlock the capabilities of individuals and teams.

Best advice you’ve ever received? Surround yourself with people who both support and challenge you and cut out the noise. How do you guide future leaders in your organization? I love coaching and over the years I have learned that by giving your team autonomy and empowering them to learn by experience only strengthens team collaboration and leads to successes and wins. What do you like to do outside of work? Admittedly, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie and I love race cars! I’m also a “horse whisperer” so to speak. I am passionate about horses and have not only raced them my entire life, but I have taken courses in learning about their behaviour as well as their relationship with humans. They are fascinating animals and have taught me so much.

Star Women in Grocery



Loblaw Technology/Loblaw

Fresh City

What keeps you passionate about your work? I am truly passionate about data. With data-driven insights we are redefining how Loblaw can advance its competitiveness in the market and make more vendors, products and services available to customers. It gets me excited that we’re improving the onboarding experience for vendors and reducing the time it takes to get their products on our shelves, creating both a better vendor experience and greater value for the customer.

How did you get into the grocery business? It was 2010 and I had just finished a continuing education program in Food Security & Urban Agriculture at Ryerson University. I was looking for ways to get involved in food and farming in Toronto. When I met our CEO and founder, Ran Goel, I knew I had found a unique opportunity. I became Fresh City’s first employee!

VP Retail and Merchandising Data Products and Services

What is the biggest career challenge you've faced? After taking eight years away to start a family and run my own business, I wanted to return to the corporate world and had trouble finding a role that didn’t discount all my previous experience. Prior to leaving, I had been an executive in a large consulting firm’s global retail practice, but when I started working with recruiting agencies, they were suggesting entrylevel jobs. I couldn’t believe it! I knew I needed to be a part of changing how women re-enter the workforce, and advocate for hiring based on tenure, not dates. I am proud to share my story to help break down bias against women (and men) who take a pause in their career for child or elder care. Best career advice you've received? Ask for help—early and often. Rather than viewing asking for help as a weakness, I was encouraged to view it as taking advantage of all the experience and perspectives from those around me.

Chief Curation & Production Officer

What do you do in your current role? As chief curation & production officer, I lead a team of 110+ passionate foodies. The production teams include our hot and cold kitchens, pastry, bakery, butchery and product development across four different sites. I also lead our curation team, which focuses on sourcing fresh organic produce and groceries for our retail stores and the thousands of customers we deliver to weekly. What is your leadership style? My leadership style is participative and collaborative. I welcome my team’s opinions and constructive criticisms because I believe they yield creative solutions and better outcomes. As an omnichannel retailer and vertically integrated business, I find it especially important to be collaborative cross-functionally. How do you like to spend your time outside of work? As a newish mom, I spend most of my time outside of work with my wife and one-year-old twin boys. We love to cook, and the twins love to eat, so introducing new foods is something we all enjoy!

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER



Star Women in Grocery


Agropur Cooperative How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? After completing a degree in biological sciences, I continued my studies at the graduate level with a master’s degree in industrial microbiology. Already my fascination for the dairy industry, Agropur Cooperative in particular, was growing. But it was an opportunity to join the pharmaceutical industry that first presented itself. After a successful 25-year career assuring the compliance, purity, effectiveness, and safety of life-saving products, I made the transition to the food industry with great enthusiasm in 2015 as a quality leader with Agropur. What is your leadership style or philosophy? My leadership style is democratic and participative. I value collaboration, communication, and trust within my team to raise engagement, so everyone feels valued. The importance of having a clear vision and realistic path to achieve it, is the foundation of high-performing teams and ensures continuity. I am a firm believer that encouraging individuals to deliver their very best every day makes organizations successful and allows people to learn and grow faster. What are you passionate about outside of work? I’m passionate about anything that relates to nature. I love fishing, growing a small garden, and transforming it into healthy meals shared with my family and friends. It is very important for me to maintain close relationships with my friends, many of whom I met at work, and often enjoy a great wine and cheese with them.


VP Communications & Corporate Affairs


How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? Early in my career I was looking for something completely new—I decided to give food retail a try and have never looked back. The pace of our industry is addicting and really rewarding! What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? Learning how to juggle the balance between being an executive and a mother. I think I will always be learning and likely never be perfect in either department. I’ve come to learn that work-life balance is an unreachable target; there are ebbs and flows to make it all work. I feel like I can bring my full self to work at Empire and that’s made the difference for me to build my version of a rewarding life. What’s your proudest moment? Becoming a mother will always be number one. Workwise, I’m proud of how we have turned around our business and culture at Empire. It has been an incredible honour to be on this team, work through this transition and move back into offence. What’s your leadership style/ philosophy? I always try to find new ways to challenge myself and my team. It is so important to keep your team dynamic, fresh and strong. I’ve learned that it's very difficult to pull a team out of complacency and stagnation. Best advice received? Focus on the work and the rest will follow.




Senior Category Manager, Deli and Prepared Foods


How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? I have always loved working in the grocery industry. Coming from a traditional Italian household, I grew up with a love of deli meats and cheese; my dad was always curing something in our basement! It was a natural path to combine something that I loved and had passion for into a rewarding career. Career highlight/greatest achievement? It was always our dream to have an authentic Italian line of charcuterie and our line of sliced cheese. We had started these projects many years ago, but there were always roadblocks to volumes, supply and quality of offerings. We held out until we could find the highest quality meats and cheese to carry our name. It is satisfying after so many years to see these award-winning products finally on shelf! What do you like most about your job? I believe the promotional element is the most exciting and rewarding part of my job, especially when it involves a private-label item or something unique to Longo’s. From the inception of an idea with our vendor partners to working with cross-functional teams to bring the promotion to life, it is very rewarding to be involved in the entire process. When it finally comes to life, the excitement, execution and positive feedback from our guests always gives us the satisfaction that we’ve done the right thing.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


is proud to recognize four of its team members for their leadership, innovation, dedication and contribution to the grocery industry.



Store Owner, Metro Plus Lachine

Store Manager, Metro Chapman Mills



Vice President, Human Resources Ontario and Health and Safety, METRO

Principal Director, Financial Services and Corporate Projects, METRO

Congratulations to all the winners of Canadian Grocers’ Star Women in Grocery Awards!



Floral Development Specialist


How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? Sixteen years ago, I was working with my parents near Save-On-Foods Ironwood in Richmond, B.C. My stepdad was grabbing lunch one day and noticed a sign outside saying, “Hiring, floral clerk.” I had just finished college and received my certification in floral design. I applied and was hired on the spot, and the rest is history. What do you like most about your job? The specialist role in Save-OnFoods is the best job! This allows me to visit all our stores to support, coach, mentor and, from time to time, lend an ear to the great people working at our company, with the goal of supporting them to becoming successful leaders. What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest career achievements, so far? If I must narrow it down to one, it was becoming a specialist in the produce and floral division of our company. When Jim Waites, director of produce at the time— and now general manager for Sun Rich Foods Canada—paid me a visit one night at our Sardis Save-OnFoods store and offered me the job of a specialist, it was the fastest yes to a career change. I would have started that night, if I could. Anything else you’d like to add? The only constant is change. If we are not changing, we are not growing. Be prepared to get uncomfortable to be comfortable again.

CHIRINE BEN AMOR-AMSTERDAM Director, Corporate Strategy & Process

Lactalis Canada

What do you like most about your job? My role is focused on future thinking and continuously driving the company’s long-term vision. In this fast-changing environment, this means challenging the status quo, repositioning our priorities, and being able to pivot to best enable the business. Every day I am met with new challenges, opportunities, and exciting new developments. No two days are alike! What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Be an endless learner. I try to approach every day as a new opportunity to get better at what I do and learn from those around me. I have always found that no matter how much we know, we can continuously develop and gain perspective from anyone, which drives my passion for my job. What do you think is your best quality? I would have to say my curiosity. I am curious about the people I work with and the potential impact of our decisions within the organization. As someone who has lived and worked in four different countries, I think it’s critical to understand the global landscape and societal and cultural shifts around the world. I love to follow international politics, read up on industry news, and listen to subject matter experts in their respective fields. I have found that these learnings and knowledge help inspire and inform me to drive new opportunities in my role.

Star Women in Grocery



Unilever Canada


What do you like most about your job? As the Canada lead for Unilever’s net revenue management team, I love that I get to work with a multitude of teams across the business that span accounts, brand and strategy. I can influence so many aspects of our business and have exposure to so many smart and inspiring colleagues.

What keeps you passionate about your work? Growing up, I always had a love of animals and nature. In grade five we did a project on whales and that sparked an interest in marine sea life. I took that all the way to university, following that childhood passion for marine wildlife to obtain my first degree, which was in marine and freshwater biology. Currently, what keeps me passionate is the human impact that we have with the work that we're doing. So, one thing I can point to is our food rescue program, which we launched over the last year [in partnership with Second Harvest] where we are donating surplus food from our stores. There's a real human impact to that. That's the kind of stuff I'm really motivated by.

Canada Team Lead, Net Revenue Management

What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Earlier in my career, I thought my work would speak for itself. I was given great advice that in large, fast-moving organizations we need to actively make others aware when we, or our teams, have a significant achievement. As women, where research tells us we aren’t as vocal sharing our successes, we need to find our voice and actively speak about our work with both pride and humility. What has been a career highlight, so far? A career highlight was winning a peer-voted award for courageous leadership. The award was created in honour of a longtime leader in the business who was known for speaking up and asking respectful but tough questions of leadership when most others wouldn’t. I was truly flattered to have my colleagues nominate and choose me as exemplifying these behaviours, because I admired that leader for those same qualities! What do you like to do when you’re not working? I am a mom to three young kids, so I have a busy household. Outside of work I like to be active with our family outdoors.

Director of Corporate Sustainability

What role has mentorship played in your career? I've enjoyed a lot of informal mentorship opportunities. I’ve had one formal mentorship in my career; unfortunately, it didn't last too long because that person ended up leaving the company (this was with my previous company). But I've learned a lot informally, certainly from the people I've reported in to and I've learned a tremendous amount from the people that I work with who are senior leaders. How do you like to spend your time outside of work? I’ve got two energetic young boys and they definitely keep me busy. I also love to spend time with family and friends, and I love trying new foods from different parts of the world. And when I can, getting out in nature.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER



Congratulations to

Sylvia Sicuso, Bimbo Canada’s Director of Corporate Affairs for her leadership, passion and commitment to our associates as well as the food industry, and for being recognized as a Star Woman in Grocery! Bimbo Canada would also like to applaud all of the winners of the 2021 Star Women in Grocery.

13025 Lisa N Award HR F rev.pdf



12:08 PM

Nourishing a Better World by building a sustainable, highly productive and deeply humane company.


Lisa Nanakdewa Business Unit Lead, Snacks

on your 2022 Star Women Award Y O U R G E N E R A L M I L L S F A M I LY I S I N C R E D I B LY P R O U D O F Y O U AND ALL OF YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS.



NATIONAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER FOR HER CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS AND INCLUSIVE LEADERSHIP Marie-Eve is the leader of the ‘LIFT’ (Leading and inspiring Female Talent) Employee Resource Group, committed to highlighting and supporting women’s leadership in Danone Canada, in the professionnal market and in our greater community.


CONGRATULATIONS Co-op is proud to recognize Debbie Unick for outstanding contributions in the grocery industry. Congratulations to all 2022 Star Women in Grocery.

Debbie Unick Director, Centre Store Food Federated Co-operatives Limited Debbie has been a part of the FCL team for 21 years. She has worked in a variety of progressive roles and is currently the Director of Centre Store Food. She leads a diverse team that is responsible for Category Management, Supply Chain, Store Brands, Pricing & Promotions, Retail Operations, as well as leading our Liquor and Pharmacy teams. Debbie is a passionate leader who prides herself in supporting her team in their personal development and achieving their goals. Congratulations Debbie!

WWW.FOOD.CRS CO-OP and design trademark are registered trademarks of TMC Distributing Ltd., Saskatoon S7K 3M9.


Trusted Supply Chain Partner Since 1993


Star Woman in Grocery for 2022

Rabba is proud to recognize RIMA RABBA Head of Marketing for her leadership, passion, and dedication to the grocery industry.

CONGRATULATIONS to all the WINNERS of the 2022 Star Women in Grocery!



Regional Manager, Pharmacy Operations


Customer Sales Executive, Walmart


Hershey Canada

What do you like most about your role? I look after 22 stores across B.C., and my role entails supporting my pharmacies in day-to-day operations, merchandising, clinical practice and management. As you can imagine, this job is never dull. I like the variety this job offers and the freedom to help develop new programs. I am always doing something different and constantly learning. I like that this job allows me to push my comfort level. I enjoy working with new people, mentoring them and watching them grow.

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? For most of my childhood, my mom worked in CPG with Nabisco Brands. I loved how people lit up when she talked about her work, how excited they were to tell her about their favourite item or nostalgic memory. It’s a business that can elevate everyday moments into special occasions. After trying out a few industries during university, I realized I wanted to get back into the world of much loved (and delicious) brands and landed a role at Hershey as a field sales representative. Since then, I’ve had several roles in sales, insights, e-commerce and marketing.

Biggest career challenge? The pandemic was definitely a challenge. I played a key role on Save-On-Foods’ COVID-19 response taskforce, helping to establish numerous protocols, including developing new store operating procedures and keeping the company current on health updates. Although it was a challenging time and we were under immense pressure, having a strong support system at home really helped us decompress. Working as part of a team and being able to lean on one another for support also helped a lot. What is your leadership style? My leadership style centres on team building, figuring out people’s strengths, and listening to everyone’s input before making decisions. What do you like to do outside of work? Cooking and baking helps me relax, and I enjoy walking our dogs. My husband and I are foodies, so we enjoy eating out and trying new wines.

What are you known for at work? I think every colleague knows me for my positive energy, big smile and ability to make my teams laugh, even in the face of tough challenges. Being able to bring levity and lightness into serious conversations keeps the energy high, the situation in context, and the focus on the next step. Best advice you’ve ever received? Everything we do is a work in progress. We don’t need to be perfect right away—we have room to grow, to change and adapt as the world and our goals change. All you need to do is get started. Anything else you’d like to add? I am incredibly grateful that my Hershey leaders nominated me and am honoured to have been chosen with such a talented and driven cohort of women. Thank you to all those who invested the time and energy in raising us up.

Star Women in Grocery


Associate Marketing Director, Ecommerce & Digital Marketing

The Clorox Company of Canada How did you get into the CPG business? I started as a parttime sales representative for companies such as P&G, Labatt and Sony BMG. My first corporate job was for Reckitt in the U.K.; I left Canada three weeks after graduation and started working in the media division. There, my passion for CPG/FMCG only grew as I realized just how fast-paced this industry truly is. What are some of your career highlights, so far? My career highlights include moving around the world for roles that excite me, from my beginnings in the U.K. and then Hong Kong, and now having returned to Canada to build our e-commerce and digital marketing team. I always say I’ve seen the future of e-commerce in Asia and there are exciting things to come for Canada. Best advice you’ve ever received? Speed over perfection. Perfectionism can be a huge barrier for some of us as it can slow us down or even limit great work from going out at all. Nothing will ever be perfect, but it can be great; learning and optimizing as you go is the only way to move forward. What is your proudest moment? I won the Clorox Leader of the Year award when I was 37 weeks pregnant with twins. (Funny story: they walked the award over to me so I wouldn’t have to climb the stage to receive it.)

DONNA JANTZI Account Manager

McCormick Canada What do you like most about your current role? I work in food and flavour so there are many aspects of my role I truly enjoy. My role feeds my curiosity and creativity, and places me at the forefront of new and emerging trends. In addition to enjoying the creative side of my role, I am incredibly passionate about analytics— translating facts and data into meaningful information to solve a problem. What are some of your greatest career achievements? I think my greatest achievements thus far have been tied to volunteer work and giving back. While working with The Home Depot, I sat on the board of directors for Anago, a not-for-profit social services agency for at-risk youth and vulnerable adults. In recent years, while working with McCormick, I’ve volunteered with Ronald McDonald House and chair McCormick’s CanDEI (Canadian Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) committee. What are you known for at work? The feedback I hear most often is that I genuinely care. My authenticity allows me to build trusting relationships and I have a natural ability to make others feel valued. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” This advice was given to me in the midst of a significant life decision. By removing the fear, I realized my decision remained the same and, ultimately, the right decision to make.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Jessica Armstrong VP, e-Commerce Sales

Anna Miarczynski-McDonald Director, Category Sales Development

Maple Leaf Foods is proud to recognize Jessica Armstrong and Anna Miarczynski-McDonald for their 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. Both Jessica and Anna exemplify each of our leadership Values at Maple Leaf and we are proud and honoured to have them as part of the Maple Leaf family. Congratulations to Jessica, Anna, and to all winners of the Canadian Grocers’ Awards!

Learn about what Maple Leaf is doing to fight climate change:


MANON LAVALLÉE Zone Sales Director

PepsiCo Foods Canada How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? As president of my marketing class, my objective was to create a corporate event with local businesses to ensure all my peers and myself were able to find an internship, which was required to obtain your diploma. PepsiCo Beverages attended the event and offered me an internship in their marketing department. I loved the culture and the industry right away and my three-week internship became a full career going on 23 years! What are some of your career highlights? One highlight that stands out is working with a great global R&D innovation team to launch the first bottle made from 100% recycled plastic in 2010 called 7Up EcoGreen. We were pioneers and I learned so much during the entire process. I was the marketing manager at the time, and I was so proud to be able to actively participate in such a great innovation. How do you support the industry’s future leaders? I am a mentor to younger leaders within my company and am committed to supporting the development of those around me. I’m involved in various events where I speak about my career path and share my knowledge. I think it’s incredibly important to share our knowledge and give advice to the next generation of leaders. I was lucky to meet great people at the beginning of my career who trusted me despite my lack of experience.


Principal Director, Financial Services & Corporate Projects


How did you get into the grocery business? After my first maternity leave, the mutual fund company I worked for at that time was purchased and the accounting positions were terminated. While searching for a new opportunity, I wanted to work in a field that was fulfilling. I had the choice between a full-time position in a clothing company or contractual maternity leave replacement for a food retailer. Although there was no guarantee that the maternity leave replacement would secure me a full-time position after 12 months, I took the gamble to go for the contract opportunity because I strongly believed that if I worked hard enough, somehow, they would find a place for me. And they did! What do you like most about your job? Every day is different, and I get to be involved in a variety of business case analyses to support Metro’s strategic decisions in diverse fields such as logistics, distribution, pharma, retail food banners and e-commerce to name a few, as well as for our independent owners. Biggest challenge you've faced in your career? Myself! As a former athlete and Canadian National Team member, I am a perfectionist and very demanding of myself. I have a hard time recognizing my accomplishments and I tend to easily focus on what I could have done differently. On the other hand, I tend to recognize this same behaviour in other people and will always do my best to help them see things differently, and to release some of the pressure they impose on themselves.

Star Women in Grocery



Danone Canada

Agropur Cooperative

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? While I was in university, I got a part-time job on the sampling team of a large energy drink company. The focus was not only on sampling the product, but also to educate consumers on its ingredients and benefits. This experience spiked my interest in the food and beverage industry, and I knew I wanted to be part of this dynamic and ever-evolving industry. I joined Danone 13 years ago as a retail representative based out of Vancouver, and I’ve since had the opportunity to grow within the sales organization.

What do you like most about your job? I contribute to building the future of Canadian food. My team develops and launches products—frozen treats in our case—that respond to the evolving needs of our retail customers and consumers. My favourite part is to do this through a collaborative approach with our cross-functional teams and our customers. That’s how we find relevant solutions that are win-win-win for us, our customers and consumers.

National Business Development Manager

What do you like most about your job? Having a direct impact on the business. I am empowered every day to make decisions to win in the market and serve the community by bringing healthy and delicious products to grocery stores. Finding an organization linking closely with my values and beliefs has been highly motivating, and it makes me proud to be part of a company that uses its business as a force for good. What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Experience cannot be bought. The best way to learn and evolve is by experiencing different situations and getting through the ups and downs yourself; every role you take on adds to your skill set. Identify different projects and opportunities that are out of your comfort zone—those will bring high-value development experiences.

Director of Marketing, Innovation and Product Development—Ice Cream

What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Confidence doesn’t come from knowing what will happen, it comes from knowing you can adapt no matter what happens. It’s with this mindset that I’ve been able to take on atypical career opportunities, from R&D to marketing. I think that truly helped me bring value to the organizations I’ve worked for, as I was able to capitalize on my strengths, be true to myself and develop my potential. What has been one of your greatest career achievements, so far? Natrel Mochis. My team was responsible for the development and industrialization of this ice cream treat wrapped in rice dough. It’s a unique product in the Canadian ice cream category, and Agropur is the only manufacturer of ice cream mochis in Canada. I’m also very proud to have positioned Agropur as the No. 1 private-label ice cream supplier in Canada, thanks to our ongoing and strong innovation roadmaps, as well as collaborative processes with our customers.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Congratulations We are proud to celebrate our Star Women, Victoria Archbold, Livia Chan, Nicole Koveos and Naomi McLeod for their influence, innovation and outstanding leadership at Save-On-Foods and in the grocery industry.

Victoria Archbold Floral Development Specialist

Nicole Koveos Store Manager, Save-On-Foods Lynn Valley Livia Chan Regional Manager of Pharmacy Operations

Naomi McLeod Store Manager, Save-On-Foods Pemberton Plaza

Congratulations to all of the 2022 Star Women in Grocery Award winners.


ALISON MCFARLANE Private Label Product Manager

Farm Boy

Biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? The recent supply chain issues have brought forward a number of challenges that have really forced us to come together as a team and adapt. There has been a lot of time and effort put into the growth of the private-label brand in recent years; however, with raw material shortages, increased lead times and in some cases, indefinite hold on products, we’ve had to take a hard look at our processes and continue to adapt them, working with suppliers to understand each situation and plan accordingly. I’m appreciative to be working with a team of people who are constantly looking for solutions and creative ways to overcome challenges. What is the best career advice you ever received? Trust yourself and your intuition. Make decisions based on the information available at the time and don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way, as long as you learn from them. What do you like most about your job? There are so many facets about my job that I like but, at the end of the day, the most rewarding part is watching customers shop our products to feed their families and friends. Playing a role in that and doing it with a team of people who are just as passionate about these products makes it that much more enjoyable.

Star Women in Grocery



Maple Leaf Foods

Smucker Foods of Canada Corp

Loblaw Technology/Loblaw

How did you get into the CPG business? I have an undergraduate degree in English literature, but business always intrigued me. In my last year of undergrad, I read an article on the competitive advantages of business leaders— one of which was coupling an English literature degree with an MBA. That insight struck a chord with me and shortly thereafter I enrolled in an international marketing MBA program in Spain. After graduating, I was offered an opportunity at Danone, and my passion for the CPG industry grew quickly from there.

What’s the biggest challenge faced in your career? I was the marketing lead for the Canadian integration of our most complex acquisition—Big Heart Pet Brands. My focus was to rally the teams around a clear vision to drive growth. We had an amazing cross-functional team that was passionate about the opportunity to grow a business we believed in, but upon acquisition had been experiencing declines. Through compelling marketing plans, strategic retailer relationships, and category-building innovation, we revived our iconic Milk-Bone brand and built the premium dog food business, Nature’s Recipe. The overall pet portfolio has achieved 27% growth in the four years post acquisition.

What is your proudest career achievement? The day I got promoted to senior director, contact experience centre is my proudest career achievement. Although the journey to get there was rewarding, that moment showed me that all my years of hard work and dedication had paid off. Doing things the right way is hard, and often goes unnoticed. When leadership recognized me for everything—my work ethic, my integrity and my skills, it was the best feeling in the world.

Director, Category Sales Development

Best advice you’ve ever received? Anyone who has worked with me will laugh, but the best advice I received was “baby don’t cry, baby don’t get milk.” For me this represents advocating for what you want and not giving up, whether it’s a great category pitch or a professional ambition. Regardless of the situation, you need to find a way to be heard and be agile enough to change the tone of your “cry” depending on what the situation requires. What is your best quality? I believe my best quality is my collaborative approach to business, which also happens to be fuelled by a desire to succeed. The reality is that no one can win alone and, quite frankly, it feels better to win as a team and to bring others with you on that journey.

Director of Marketing and Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Lead

What is your best quality? I’ve been told my best quality is my strategic agility. I think that comes from my background in a variety of generalist and specialist roles across a range of industries, which allows me to take a more holistic view of any situation. I believe change is constant and I enjoy looking at an issue or opportunity from all angles and hearing different points of view to arrive at the best possible solution. What are your passions outside of work? My family—especially my nine-year-old son Conor. Being a mom and wanting him to grow up in a better world has made me want to take those life lessons to the next level, which is why I was inspired to take on a leadership role for our inclusion, diversity and equity efforts.


Sr. Director, Contact Experience Centre

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? It’s always a challenge whenever I have to prioritize resources for the greatest impact to stores. However, I stay positive, and always come up with solutions. I’m a firm believer that the “impossible is always possible.” It keeps me going and motivated until I’m able to solve the issue. What’s the best career advice you’ve received? One of the best pieces of advice I received was to really get to know your team. Take care of them and do what you would want your leaders to do for you. Build reciprocity through authenticity. How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working? Going for runs, trying new restaurants, spending time with my friends and family, and working on home projects where I need to plan and work on things from beginning to end.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


STAR WOMEN in Grocery


Loblaw Technology & Analytics is proud to celebrate the hard work and dedication of these strong leaders who drove industry changing solutions for our colleagues and customers – to help Canadians Live Life Well®.

SENIOR STAR Janet Rickford VP, Retail & Merchandising Data Product & Services

RISING STAR Nastran Najafi-Fard Senior Director, Contact Experience Centre


Star Women in Grocery





General Mills Canada

Conagra Brands

UNFI Canada

Rabba Fine Foods

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? I completed my bachelor of business administration at Wilfrid Laurier University, where I was fortunate to land three incredible co-op placements at Novartis Consumer Health, The Hershey Company and Mattel. During that time, I fell in love with working on brands I knew could make a difference in people’s lives. I get so much joy out of not only getting to physically see the products I work on, but from hearing stories from consumers about how they’ve played a role in their lives.

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? After graduating university, I spent a year working in Japan. As I pondered how to officially launch my career, a senior business executive recommended I start in sales. Upon my return home from Japan, I applied for a sales role at Pepsi Beverages placing vending machines in businesses across Toronto. I am fortunate to have spent my entire career in CPG at great companies including PepsiCo, Nestlé and now Conagra Brands.

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? I’ve worked in consumer packaged goods for more than 30 years and have loved every minute of it! I love the food industry and have enjoyed working within both retail and foodservice.

Career highlight/greatest achievement? This recognition is a career highlight. Being promoted to head of marketing in 2019, however, opened a breadth of opportunities for me to accomplish incredible things. I introduced a robust, multi-level digital and in-store marketing program, I built up our audience reach substantially, enhanced our program strategies, brought to life initiatives in which our vendor partners have become highly engaged, and optimized digital and traditional methods of promotion that have resulted in considerable sales lifts. We’ve also taken phenomenal strides in consumer engagement and created an interactive space that focuses directly on our target market.

Business Unit Director, Snacks

What’s the best career advice you’ve received? Run your own race. There is no use comparing yourself to others or thinking there is a “right” career path to follow or timeline for advancement. Your journey should be based on your learning/development needs and goals for where you want to go in the future. Stay true to that and success will come—you are not ahead or behind, but exactly where you need to be. What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest career achievements, so far? I was awarded the highest honour in General Mills Canada with the Team Canada year-end award to recognize my leadership over Team Canada Culture. I formed initiatives and plans across the organization to fuel performance and positive culture, which contributed, in part, to General Mills Canada earning the highest engagement scores in North America.

Director, Market Development

What do you like most about your job? First, it’s having a voice in decision-making no matter who you are with or what situation is being discussed. Thoughts and opinions are encouraged and respected at Conagra Brands, which makes it a great place to work. Second is my team and colleagues. I am fortunate to work with people who are passionate, smart, candid and hardworking, which is a key factor in making my job great. Best career advice you’ve received? Early in my career, a manager I respected said to have confidence in myself. Knowing this individual had confidence in me, encouraged me to have confidence in myself. Many people are pushed to focus on their opportunities; however, I have focused on leveraging my strengths as much as developing my opportunities. What do you like to do when you’re not working? With three kids who play competitive hockey, I have had the luxury of visiting almost every arena in Southern Ontario!

Director of Sales

What do you like most about your job? I get the most job satisfaction out of developing people and helping them achieve their career goals. What’s is the best advice you’ve received in your career? Be curious and be open to new roles and opportunities. Also, don’t ask your team members to do something you would not be prepared to do yourself. What do you think is your best quality? I think my best quality is my collaborative style. I’m always looking to find solutions that work for all parties—internally and externally. Can you tell us about a career highlight or one of your greatest career achievements, so far? I’ve had a lot of highlights over my 30-year career so it’s hard to pick just one. However, if I had to pick one, it would be the success I had with engagement scores within my team. Of more than 100 leaders within North America, I had the highest engagement score. What do you like to do when you’re not working? I love spending time with my family, and I love cooking, travelling and hiking.

Head of Marketing

Best advice received? Just take the step. We will never make progress if we remain in the same place. I urge women reading this today to find your balance, make your moves and keep in mind the glass ceiling cannot break without the brave, bold strides of women. What do you like most about your job? I am most passionate about the Rabba Roots Community Program. We provide resources to some of our most vulnerable communities, often in partnership with our wonderful vendors. I am proud to work with community organizations like The Mississauga Food Bank, Trillium Health Partners, and The Good Shepherd Centre. Compassion, charity and goodwill are values practiced in my everyday life, so I am honoured to be part of a family business that has the same consideration for humanity.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Nestlé Canada recognizes and thanks:

Leslie Nicholson

Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Operations & Digital Business Transformation

Congratulations, Leslie on your Star Women in Grocery Award!

Congratulations Alex Fitzgerald Customer Sales Executive, Walmart Account

on winning a 2022 Star Woman Award from your Hershey Canada Family

Unilever Canada

is proud to recognize

Tracie Bick

Net Revenue Management Lead

for her passion, leadership and contributions to the grocery industry. Your light is shining bright! As a proud sponsor, Unilever congratulates all of this year’s Star Women in Grocery.

The J.M. Smucker Co. is proud to celebrate Nicole Murray as a 2022 Star Women in Grocery winner! Nicole’s passion for our people, brands, and the industry has helped shape our strong organization.

Congratulations Nicole on this well-deserved recognition!



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.


Flavour-up your Fries.

Simply sprinkle, cook and serve.




Director of Corporate Affairs Bimbo Canada How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? Food isn’t just about nourishment—it’s what people connect over. They share their cultures, lives and celebrate momentous occasions over meals. Ever since I can remember, I have loved to spend time connecting with people over food, and when it came time to choose a career path I knew I wanted to work in this industry and contribute to nourishing people’s lives. Feeding Canadians during the pandemic has only served to reinforce that this was the right career path. What do you like most about your job? In university, I read a quote from Peter Drucker that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It stuck with me because no matter how good a company’s business plan is, without associates who know the plan and are engaged in it, they will not be successful. In my role, I work with leaders across the organization to inform and engage associates in our business objectives and build our culture of nourishing a better world. I also get to tell consumers and customers about who Bimbo Canada is, the great work that we are doing in the communities that we live and work in, and our sustainability initiatives, which I am very passionate about. What is your best quality? I am curious about everything, which leads me to being solutionsoriented and finding new, innovative ways to do things.


Star Women in Grocery




CJR Wholesale Grocers

Federated Co-operatives Limited

How did you get into the grocery business? I started out in grocery wholesale procurement and quickly developed a passion for supply chain. From there, I entered the retail world where customer satisfaction became a professional obsession for me to meet and exceed every day. I joined Sobeys in 2019 and was privileged to be tasked with building the procurement and replenishment function for Voilà.

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? My background in personal training was the launchpad for my keen interest in what ingredients my clients were consuming. This evolved into a mission to identify and use products with better ingredients. I started creating my own body butters, natural deodorants and lip balms using high-quality ingredients that were free from harsh chemicals. This passion led to my first role in the CPG industry, working for a natural distributor.

Director of Forecasting & Replenishment

Greatest career achievement? Throughout my career, I have established new business units and built new teams. Efficiency and improvement optimization has been a repeated achievement throughout my career, increasing fulfilment rates, shelf availability and reducing food waste and procurement costs. Thanks to the freshness guarantee policy I established for Voilà, the cherry on the top of my achievements is winning Voilà customer confidence in the quality of fresh food we pick on their behalf and deliver to their doorsteps. What is your best quality? When my head is in the cloud of aspiration, my feet don’t leave the ground of reality. In other words, while I’m envisioning big strategic goals, I don’t lose sight of important details that can take the business there. What do you like to do outside of work? I enjoy indoor gardening, baking and reading world literature. Long road trips take my mind off daily rush routine and the never-ending competing priorities.

Category Manager, Natural Grocery

What’s the best career advice you’ve received? To never stop learning, and to be continuously developing your skills. The world moves at a fast pace, industries change, and there is a strong need to be able to pivot and adjust to current trends and new practices in grocery. Seeking knowledge through teammates, networking events, conferences and trade shows can help keep a pulse on the market, and will lead to career success and a passion for what you do. What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest career achievements, so far? I was awarded Excellence in Sales by the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) in 2018. Standing next to my peers and in front of our industry was a cherished moment that solidified my belief in natural products, and that reminded me how I can make a difference in my community.

Director, Centre Store Food

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? I started working for a grocery chain in high school as part of the career and work education program. I found that I thrived in it and had a passion for the fast-paced grocery industry. What do you like most about your job? The best part of my job is the people. I have the opportunity to make a difference not only for my team, but for our local Co-ops and the communities they serve. Every day is different and provides an opportunity to learn and continue to develop. What do you think is your best quality? My authentic leadership style. This means being aware of my strengths and weaknesses, being results-focused, inspiring, and having empathy when supporting my team. I truly believe that if I bring my whole self to work, I can empower my team to be their best. What has been a career highlight or one of your greatest career achievements, so far? My greatest career achievement was being promoted to director of centre store in our food department. I began working for Federated Co-op more than 20 years ago. I started in an entry-level position and advanced my way through various roles, including customer service, procurement, category management, business analysis, and then two years ago I had the opportunity to become the director of centre store.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER






Owner, Metro Plus Lachine, Que.


How did you get into the grocery business? I began my professional career in retail at age 22 and quickly became interested in the food industry. Curious and passionate, I was constantly looking to improve my knowledge in food management and develop my entrepreneurial skills. In September 2016, I proudly joined the great Metro family as a franchise owner. What are some of your greatest career achievements? One great achievement is that I negotiated and drafted with union representatives and our human resources team a new collective agreement for the Metro Plus in Lachine. This agreement promotes flexibility, mobility and adaptability for employees. An ongoing training program, much appreciated by my team, was also born from this approach: Employees can work in different departments of the supermarket and switch from one task to another, which is quite unique in the industry. How do you promote diversity and inclusion at the store? My in-store management is focused on hospitality, openness, respect and acceptance of differences. I have on-the-job training for an individual with autism to become a master butcher (PMAT). I have hosted interns in the workplace as part of a social reintegration program. I also offer the accessibility of supermarket jobs to retired people and newcomers from Ukraine and other countries.

Star Women in Grocery





How did you get into the grocery business? I got into the grocery business in 1990, when I was 16 years old, and never left. I started part-time in the deli department at LOEB when I was living in Gatineau, Que. Ten years later, I moved to Ontario and started my career at Metro as a deli manager. In 2011, I was promoted to assistant store manager. Since 2014, I have been store manager at four Metro stores, including my current location in Chapman Mills.

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? I started as a part-time bakery clerk in 1989 at Miracle Foodmart in Georgetown, Ont. Our two children were in school full time, so I was looking for a job to fill my time. It was perfect because I could work flexible shifts and I loved it immediately, even though I had no experience in baking.

Store Manager, Metro Chapman Mills, Ottawa

What are some of your greatest achievements? My achievements started at LOEB when I won “Deli Manager of the Year” in 2005. And in my career as store manager at Metro, I won the “Most Improved Store Operation” award in 2018, just six months after being transferred to a new store location. What are your strongest qualities? Having integrity and a strong work ethic. I’m open to the opinions of others, willing to try new ideas, and supportive of new initiatives. Biggest challenge you faced? Personally, in 2016 I was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. I was off work for 10 months while I fought for my life. Professionally, my biggest challenge was working through the pandemic and adapting to a different way of doing business. What is your proudest moment? My proudest moment was kicking cancer to the curb! My proudest moments professionally are when I see employees I have guided and mentored succeed and advance in their careers.

Store Manager, Sobeys Mount Pearl, N.L.

What do you think is your best quality? My ability to plan in the spur of the moment. Whether it is a weather situation, a staffing crisis, COVID-19 or an emergency request to help the community, I can always successfully pull together the resources needed. What do you like most about your job? I love the seasonality of retail, and that my team is always excited about changes in merchandising, whether it is a new planogram or new fixtures. I love identifying potential in employees and helping them grow to become leaders, especially when they haven’t discovered it in themselves yet. What has been the proudest moment of your career so far? In May 2022, I was one of 12 leaders in the Atlantic region to receive the Empire Retail Impact Award, which recognizes the exemplary efforts of store, warehouse and e-commerce teams throughout the pandemic. I was chosen for my store’s support of healthcare workers at a nearby outdoor COVID-19 testing site in February 2021. We provided warm meals for them every day.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER




Store Manager Mission Safeway, Calgary


How did you get into the grocery business? My journey with Safeway started in 2008 when I was looking for a part-time summer position. After working in the deli department for just one day, I knew this would be a special place to be. After a week, I knew I was here to stay! I’ve always been passionate about food, health, and business. But, this was a time when I was still grieving the loss of my mother to cancer. Being surrounded by a diverse team of ladies with common passions, along with a hard work ethic and love for making the best of every moment, I was able to heal and grow with the support of my work family. Best advice received? When success is generated, it becomes a repeatable process. Until then, create daily wins with a positive mindset, with intentions for growth and instilling successful habits. Never limit yourself. Do what feels right. Invest in your wellbeing and growth. What are your passions outside of work? I enjoy travelling and, aside from spending time with people I love, I enjoy learning and taking on new hobbies such as fencing. It has been a personal tradition to select a simple yet meaningful theme on my birthday to dedicate the year to accomplish. As this year’s theme is ‘letting go of fear,’ I’m finally planning on multiple skydiving trips in British Columbia.


Store Manager Save-On-Foods Lynn Valley, North Vancouver

Star Women in Grocery


Store Manager Save-On-Foods Pemberton Plaza, North Vancouver



How did you get your start in the grocery business? When I was 18, I was in a serious car accident. I made the decision to take a year off from school before continuing on to become a registered nurse. I was on the hunt for a part-time job, and I noticed a Save-On-Foods was opening near my house. As my mom and I were driving by one night I remember saying, “I should apply there.” Eighteen years later, I am the store manager at Save-OnFoods Lynn Valley.

How did you get into the grocery business? At 16 years old, my brother in-law arranged an interview for me at a new grocery store being built in my hometown of Prince Rupert, B.C. I dug into my mom’s closet and borrowed one of her business suits so I could dress to impress. I got the job! I can still remember putting on that crisp polyester uniform and nametag and feeling accomplished.

Career highlight/greatest achievement? In 2019, when I was on the management team at Save-On-Foods Kerrisdale, we introduced sensory-friendly shopping. We wanted to make a difference for our shoppers on the spectrum, but it turned out more members of our community also benefited from the peaceful shopping experience. We dimmed the lights, turned off our music, turned our phones to vibrate and eliminated any noise we could during the designated hours. What is the best advice you’ve received? I was talking to my mentor about some career opportunities and telling her I didn’t think I was ready to take the next step. She said to take the plunge and figure it out as I go because no one ever has it all figured out. She encouraged me to be fearless. I took her advice and looking back it was one of the most pivotal moments in my career.

Proudest moment? Reflecting on the past 10 years as a store manager, the proudest moments I’ve experienced are when the people I have worked alongside experience success. Recently, a former assistant store manager of mine was promoted to store manager. Knowing all the hard work she put in, I felt so proud of her. What is your leadership style? I set the standard high and would never ask of my team something that I wouldn’t expect of myself. I make sure I always include everyone’s opinion and viewpoints. I encourage diversity of thought, so we can push creativity and vision. What are you passionate about outside of work? I am passionate about my Indigenous history, culture and arts. My dad was a Northwest Coast Indigenous artist, and my mom hand-sews authentic Indigenous regalia. Anything else you’d like to add? I would like to congratulate all the other Star Women in Grocery, past and present. I’ve always felt inspired reading their stories.


Operations Director, Food

Calgary Co-op

How did you get into the grocery/ CPG business? My mom and aunt worked at Calgary Co-op, so I grew up around the grocery business. I started working as a cashier. I thought it would be a great job while I was going to school and would help pay for university. My intention was to be a lawyer; however, I ended up loving the retail food business and remained working at Calgary Co-op in a variety of roles over the past 38 years. What do you like most about your job? The variety. There is something new and interesting happening every day. It is a very dynamic business. I love working with a great team of people, the daily interaction with customers, and all the other variables of the business. There is never a dull moment and I enjoy all the different aspects of what it takes to operate the business. What has been the proudest moment of your career, so far? It hasn’t been any one moment, but a combination of all the steps and roles I have taken over the course of my career that has led me to my current position. I am proud to be part of a company that has given me a great career, stability for my family, as well as lots of opportunity for personal growth and development. I am also proud of the teams I have worked with and all the goals we have achieved over the years. CG

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


tomato ketchup 1l


Transition to Canadian production expected to be completed in 2022














Rising prices

A RED ALERT ON RISING FOOD COSTS With inflation on the rise, grocers need to get creative to keep


customers coming and margins manageable SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES, labour shortages and threats of war overseas are creating a perfect storm for rising food costs—hurting customers and the grocers who rely on them. “Even prior to the war in Ukraine, we had droughts in Western Canada and elsewhere so we’d seen the price of grains shoot up significantly…and then a big increase in the price of oil, which has an impact on pretty much everything,” says Pedro Antunes, chief economist for the Conference Board of Canada. “We haven’t seen this kind of inflation for 30 years or so and it’s essentially eroded consumers’ purchasing power very quickly.” While other sectors have been stabilizing, he says grocery and food prices are continuing to increase on a month-to-month basis, with no relief expected anytime soon. “Even when the situation in Ukraine settles, I think there will be a continued move away from Russian supply chains, which will continue to keep prices elevated,” says Antunes, adding that he’s still hopeful we’ll see inflation eventually peak and start to decline in the next few quarters. “The good news for Canada is that we are essentially producers,

By Rosalind Stefanac

so while inflation is affecting consumers, it’s also bringing in higher incomes to our producers.” In the United Kingdom, several grocery chains have been cushioning the blow of rising prices for consumers by offering discount incentives. At Iceland Foods, customers over 60 years of age get 10% off their food order on Tuesdays, regardless of how much they spend. Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s has pledged close to CAD$800 million in price freezes and matching schemes through to March 2023. British supermarket chain Asda has also lowered prices on more than 100 of its food items starting this spring. In North America, some larger chains have been using their profit cushions to absorb higher costs from food producers, while large discounters like Walmart have increased their volume of money-­ saving rollbacks. Natural Grocers, a U.S.-based organic grocer, has implemented exclusive discounts to its loyalty program members, including a good4U Meal Deal once a month that has everything needed to create a healthy meal for a family of four for an average of US$14. Meanwhile, with exorbitant gas

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Rising prices prices, shoppers in Quebec are taking advantage of gasoline coupon discounts offered by IGA (a saving of 3 cents per litre for every $70 grocery purchase).

“The metrics show that we’re not spending less time than Americans online but we’re spending less on grocery,” says IRI’s Ryan Harris. “Sure, the U.S. has economies of scale that can help cut down on delivery fees, but our processes here area still too cumbersome”


Changing shopping habits Not surprising, elevated food prices are impacting shopper behaviour. According to the report from McKinsey & Company, Navigating the market headwinds: the state of grocery retail in 2022, 45% of consumers plan to explore more ways to save money, and 29% will actively research the best promotions more frequently. There is also a 21% bump in the number of people who plan to buy private-brand products in place of name brands. The 2022 Consumer Outlook Survey from NielsenIQ groups today’s shoppers into five categories based on their inflation-related shopping habits. For example, “Strugglers” have suffered financial insecurity and continue to do so, while “Rebounders” have experienced income loss but are back on track. If a price isn’t acceptable on a preferred product, Strugglers will select the cheapest alternative or do without, while Rebounders will wait for a promotion. As a result, the survey shows that grocers need to really understand their customer base to be able to navigate this new food shopping terrain. Gordon Dean, owner and president of Mike Dean Local Grocer, with three stores in rural Ontario and one in Quebec, says more and more customers in his stores are taking advantage of flyer and “lock-down” deals as well as multi-buys offering discounts on bulk purchases. “They are less demanding regarding brands, but that comes with the caveat that they won’t overpay,” he says. “They will buy whatever brand provides the best offer.” Ryan Harris, principal at market research firm IRI (Canada), says current times are also prompting “a polarization in human behaviour,” where shoppers will buy private label/discount for certain items (for example, toilet paper) and then reward themselves with other premium products, such as wine or coffee. “They’ll treat themselves as a reward for making all these other rational choices,” he says. That people are still working at home will continue to impact behaviours, too. Harris says those at home won’t be gravitating as readily to single-­serve items as they would have when commuting to work. “Cooking at home has also become more habitual so there’s an opportunity [for grocers] to capitalize on ways to make that simpler by having all the components ready for meal prep,” he says. “For those who can’t compete on price, it’s about finding creative ways to add value and drive consumer loyalty.” Harris also believes Canadian grocers have a lot more they can do in the e-commerce space to drive loyalty. “The metrics show that we’re not spending less time than Americans online but we’re spending less on grocery,” he says. “Sure, the U.S. has economies of scale that can help cut down on delivery fees, but our processes here are still too cumbersome.” As

|| June/July 2022

an example, Harris points to a large Canadian retailer where online returns are made in-person. “Why go back to the store when I was shopping online [so as] not to go into the store in the first place?” Survival strategies for grocers While big chains are banking on keeping cost-conscious consumers happy with their lower-cost private label offerings, smaller independents are relying on what they can do best— being nimble in changing product/format as needed. Dean says for independent grocers to survive this challenging period, they have to be constantly negotiating with suppliers. “The most important thing we can do to protect our bottom line is to buy correctly and keep our pencil very sharp with our supply partners,” he says. “Whether that means only buying in on deals or buying larger volumes at a time to take advantage of cost savings, we will do what is needed to squeeze a bit more margin through good decision-making.” He says today’s fluctuating supply chain can actually be a good thing for smaller grocers who are able to make quick decisions. “Suppliers in a market like this often have inventory in the wrong place so they’re looking to move excess product and we small- and mid-size grocers offer them a place to push out excess on a moment’s notice,” he says, noting that his stores will have at least 10 to 20 discount offers on the table for customers at any given time. “Yes, input costs are going up, but a good grocer is finding many one-off deals available to offer our customers and keeping them happy.” Grocers in more densely populated areas are customizing food quantities to be more affordable and reduce waste, while encouraging customers to shop locally. In January, Ontario’s Vince’s Market started using its weekly blog and social media postings to encourage shoppers to purchase products in season to get both value and optimum quality. The grocer is now working on a video series to teach shoppers how to get maximum use of their fresh produce. “We know there is a huge food waste problem in Canada and independents can solve that because we’re local…you can make multiple trips to the grocery store to get what you need instead of over-purchasing,” says Giancarlo Trimarchi, managing partner. “Sometimes when you buy something at a better cost but throw out 25%, you’re really not saving.” Along that same vein, Vince’s Market makes sure it is “right-sizing” all of its offerings. “If we are serving older, smaller-household clientele for example, we want to have a variety of options/sizes so they can get what they need,” says Trimarchi. Same goes for the fresh or meat counters, where he says staff is making sure to cut products to the right specs. “We’re moving our regular steak cuts down a half inch and offering a lot of thin-cut, fry-size options,” says Trimarchi. “What we’re looking to do is not have people fully replace what they enjoy but giving them an option where the sticker shock won’t be as burdensome.” CG

Congratulations to all 2022 star women award winners from





Experts weigh in on the trends at play and what the future might hold for online grocery GETTY IMAGES/BARANOZDEMIR

By Danny Kucharsky

GROCERY DELIVERY in Canada exploded during the pandemic as social distancing drove people online. Now that the pandemic is waning and once-hesitant shoppers are returning to supermarkets, does grocery delivery have a strong future? Absolutely, insist industry observers like retail analyst Bruce Winder. “People are on a sort of honeymoon with brick and mortar again, so you’re seeing e-commerce across all channels soften a bit. But e-commerce isn’t going anywhere; it’s just taking a bit of a break.” Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food

Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University forecasts that by 2025, 10% of food sales in Canada will occur online, an almost six-fold increase compared to around 1.7% of food sales prior to the pandemic. The Maru Group’s Feel, Behave, Think tracking survey, commissioned last July by PayPal, found 21% of Canadians say they will do more grocery delivery after COVID than before. “What grocery delivery does is really save consumers a lot of time and convenience, which is really hard to measure sometimes,” says Joey Diaz, executive vice-president and chief merchant at Giant

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


E-commerce Tiger. “Grocery delivery will continue to be strong.” However, Mike von Massow, associate professor of food agriculture and resource economics at the University of Guelph, believes the current period of high inflation will make it more difficult for delivery to grow as consumers seek ways to cut costs. What’s more, with the hybrid model that combines workfrom-home and in-office still going strong, people are commuting less and aren’t as time-pressed, which lowers incentives for delivery, he says. Going forward, consumers can expect to see a mix of models for grocery delivery, says Shash Anand, vice-president of product strategy, at mobile solutions provider SOTI. Consumers “will want flexibility in the way they can order and what they get delivered.” Here’s a look at some of the trends that will affect grocery delivery in the months and years to come:

Instacart and third-party deliveries

“The current period of high inflation will make it more difficult for delivery to grow as consumers seek ways to cut costs”


Earlier this year, discount chain Giant Tiger partnered with third-party delivery company Instacart to make same-day delivery accessible to many of its customers. The service is available in Instacart service areas, representing more than 180 of Giant Tiger’s 260 stores in Canada. Customers are time-starved and are looking for delivery as fast as an hour, depending on the market, says Simon Rodrigue, senior vice-president and chief digital officer at Giant Tiger. “Not all Canadians can have access to us in our physical footprint. The Instacart platform or digital business, in general, gives us an opportunity beyond the physical footprint in our stores. For us, it’s an opportunity to extend our reach and introduce the Giant Tiger brand to customers who haven’t had that opportunity,” he explains. Rodrigue says deliveries of Giant Tiger products have been strong in downtown Toronto and Montreal where the retailer does not have a presence, as well as in more remote areas, like Thunder Bay, where the discount retailer’s brand is strong. Giant Tiger prices for Instacart purchases are the same as in store, but online shoppers pay Instacart delivery fees, about $7 for Giant Tiger orders. Von Massow believes grocers will become less interested in third-party delivery services once they realize they cannot afford to share margins with another company. Instead, they will build their own delivery infrastructure. “You’ve got another player in there taking margin from what is a relatively low-margin business.” Grocers also risk losing customers if there’s a delivery problem. “If I use Instacart in partnership with Loblaw and it goes poorly, who do I blame? If Instacart screws it up, that’s compromising my ability to keep that customer,” von Massow says. By bringing in delivery internally, grocers will be able to manage and optimize the customer experience from start to finish, he says.

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Instacart was seen as a low-risk, high-reward path to pursue when Amazon bought Whole Foods Market back in 2017, and many grocers who did not have e-commerce programs were caught off guard, explains Mark Fairhurst, vice-president, marketing at Mercatus Technologies. Third-party services come between grocers and the customers they’ve worked hard to acquire, he says. Fairhurst cites a Barclays Bank study out of the U.K. that found retailers are losing connections with consumers, as those who use Instacart as the first point of purchase often perceive Instacart as the retailer. Fairhurst says retailers need to have leverage over companies like Instacart and DoorDash and not sign exclusivity deals with them. “If you’re a retailer, your ideal situation is to be able to foster competition among these delivery providers, so you get the best price and service.”

15-minute delivery

Ultra-fast delivery companies that promise delivery in as little as 15 (or even 10) minutes, cropped up during the pandemic. Companies operating in the Canadian market include Ninja and Tiggy. Consumers are increasingly expecting rapid execution and “these ultra-quick services are really going to raise the bar,” says Charlebois. Rapid delivery companies tend to operate in densely populated metropolitan areas. The product range is typically narrow but “sometimes that’s all people want,” Charlebois says. “It’s a bit of a work in progress,” but he expects to see some successes in Canada’s major cities. However, Fairhurst says consumers don’t necessarily want or need groceries within 15 minutes. “What they really want is certainty. It’s more about precision and control than it is about speed of delivery.” The Grocery Retail 2021 Digital Maturity Benchmark by Incisiv found less than 10% of U.S. shoppers found value in paying for two hours or less delivery. Fifteen-minute delivery orders are typically akin to convenience store basket sizes. With low average order values and impulse purchase frequencies, it’s questionable as to how ultra-fast delivery companies can make money, Fairhurst says. Von Massow sees rapid delivery as a niche market for when people need groceries quickly. “Fifteen-minute delivery is not going to become the standard for grocery delivery.”

Curbside and in-store pickup

Contrary to belief, North America is a pickup first, not delivery first market, says Fairhurst. He maintains much of the attention on delivery has been fuelled by venture capital and private equity money. “Our research has shown that, post-pandemic, online grocery is heavily weighted to pickup if you’re buying online.” Curbside is the most popular option at about 45%, followed by delivery at about

35% and the remainder for ship to home. Pickup services are most popular with four-person households, which are also the most profitable to grocers, says Fairhurst. Going to the local grocery store for pickup typically costs less than delivery and, he says, is often just as convenient. “You can get a 30-minute time slot, you have control over the fulfilment experience as opposed to sitting at home waiting for a delivery.” Curbside and in-store pickup represent “a big part of our business,” says Giant Tiger’s Rodrigue. “It’s all about convenience.” “Often, mom is coming home from work or she’s picking up kids from school. Having that curbside offering allows her to get in and out without getting out of the car and getting the products she needs,” he says. It’s counterintuitive, but some customers pre-order their pantry items for pickup, says Rodrigue, which then frees up time for them to browse apparel and other items in store. According to Brick Meets Click-Mercatus figures, the number of monthly active users for delivery fell by 8.8% in April in the U.S., while pickup fell by only 2.5% In 2021, Canadians preferred online order and in-store pickup over online order and delivery by a 31% to 21% margin, according to Statista. Not everyone is on side with click and collect. Charlebois calls it “a half-baked sort of solution” that’s more convenient for grocers than for consumers, but he says most grocers will continue to operate the service given its low cost.

Drones and autonomous vehicles

Drone delivery received a lift in the United States this year when Walmart announced its drone deliveries could reach four million households in six states by the end of the year. The retail giant says it will be able to deliver more than one million packages by drone in a year. What does Walmart’s drone service look like? Customers can order items totalling up to 10 pounds online. Orders are loaded at the store and flown remotely by a certified pilot to the customer’s home. A cable on the drone slowly lowers the package. David Guggina, senior vice president of innovation and automation for Walmart U.S., noted in a blog post that people have, so far, used drones for convenience. Top sellers for drone delivery include Hamburger Helper, batteries, trash bags, laundry detergent and Welch’s fruit snacks. In Canada, however, drone delivery “appears to be a few years away, with the main impediments being regulatory roadblocks” by Transport Canada, says Anand of SOTI. Regulations governing drone use in populated areas “really need to be modernized a bit to make this a reality.” According to SOTI research, 41% of Canadian consumers would consider delivery drones to deliver small packages and 47% would consider autonomous

vehicles to deliver larger packages to their home. Labour shortages and labour costs will drive retailers to try to adopt technology such as autonomous vehicles, Winder says. If autonomous vehicles reach a point where they’re considered safe, “they will be a game changer.” In the United States, Walmart is expanding a self-driving delivery pilot project. Closer to home, Loblaw signed a multi-year partnership deal with technology company Gatik in 2020 to test autonomous delivery vehicles in Toronto. “The idea of an autonomous vehicle is an amazing one, but what it doesn’t do is manage the point of contact with the customer and it’s the same with the drone,” says von Massow. “We often think about the technology and not enough about the customer experience and it’s going to be really about getting that customer experience right,” he explains. “The technology we’ll figure out eventually.” CG

“The idea of an autonomous vehicle is an amazing one, but what it doesn’t do is manage the point of contact with the customer and it’s the same with the drone”

Join the celebration on September


the international centre || mississauga || on

For more information and registration details visit

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Sol Cuisine Hot N’ Spicy Chik’n Wings

Angie’s BOOMCHICKPOP® Salted Maple Flavoured Kettle Corn

L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Noir Balm Mascara

Live Right Cran-Cherry Cashew Dark Chocolate Fruit & Nut Bar


Sunlight Rinse Aid

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Compliments Smoked Gouda Cheese Beef Burgers Stuffed Dempster’s Chickpea Tortillas

Sol Cuisine Cauliflower Burger

Ziploc Recyclable Paper Bags

Voilà by Sobeys Heinz Crowdsauced

Boursin Minis Garlic & Fine Herbs Philips One by Sonicare


Hamilton Beach FlexBrew® TRIO Coffee Maker

Vector Maple Crunch Cereal Dempster’s Signature Bagels

Compliments Maple & Aged White Cheddar Popcorn Mix

T-fal Easy Fry Grill & Steam XXL Air Fryer

Dove Hair Therapy Breakage Remedy Range Boursin Dairy Free HOYA MiYOSMART Lens

Blender Bites 1 Step Organic Smoothie Pucks

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum Casper Wave Hybrid Snow

SpongeTowels UltraPRO Paper Towel

Takis® Dragon Sweet Chili™

Neutrogena Bright Boost Overnight Recovery Gel Cream

Cocoon™ by Sealy Classic Mattress

The Laughing Cow® Mix Chickpea with Herbs

Sara Lee Little Bites Party Cake Mini Muffins


Campbell’s® Concentrated Broth

Oasis Health Break with collagen

T-Fal Platinum Hard Anodized Cookware The Endy Sofa


*Survey of 4,000 people by Kantar


Product of the Year Canada

2021 Master

Merchandiser Winners


he Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers’ (CFIG) Master Merchandiser Awards Program honours and recognizes best point-of-sale merchandising in the grocery industry. It enables retailers and supportive manufacturers the opportunity to stimulate purchase by building effective displays, promotions, and events. A total of 15 prizes were awarded in 2021 (3 different store size groupings and 5 different merchandising categories). A record total of 11,880 displays were entered surpassing our 2020 goal by almost 4,000 displays. “The program helps create an impactful and changing shopping experience for customers resulting in incremental sales and customer loyalty”, said Tom Shurrie, president and CEO, CFIG. A panel of experienced industry judges determined category winners based on: creativity & visual appeal; effective use of signage; display shopability; effective cross-merchandising; and supporting manufacturer compliance. The 2022 Master Merchandiser Winners will be announced at the Grocery Innovations Canada exhibition and conference event in person and live on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at the Toronto Congress Centre. Deadline for entries for 2022 is August 12, 2022. Register at to attend.

First To Market – New Product Small Surface Gold

South Hill Fine Foods, Moose Jaw, SK Perry Chambers and Store Team Supplier: Cary Bailey, Saputo Description: Shoppers had no trouble finding new Armstrong Shreds in this colourful Easter display.

Medium Surface Gold

Colemans Food Centre, Mt. Pearl, NL Coleman Family Supplier: Jacqueline Stanford, Kruger Products Description: “Let’s take this outside” was the theme of this Cashmere display. Shoppers who peeked into the outhouse saw a traditional Newfoundland Mummer reading a Coleman’s flyer.

Themed Event Small Surface Gold

South Hill Fine Foods, Moose Jaw, SK Perry Chambers and Store Team Supplier: Carey Bailey, Saputo Dairy Products This Christmas display helped shoppers get ready for holiday entertaining.

Medium Surface Gold

Save-On-Foods, Revelstoke, BC Brian Clark and SOF, Revelstoke Team Supplier: Lorie Mills, Acosta Canada, Campbell’s Description: This partnership in support of local Food Banks continues to raise awareness of local hunger issues and inspires the community to help alleviate hunger. Now in its 14th year, the program is exclusive to Save-On-Foods.

Large Surface Gold

Save-On-Foods #980, Orchard Plaza, Kelowna, BC Todd Ryder, Eric Falkenberg and Orchard Plaza Team Supplier: Cory Morash, Coca-Cola Description: This Christmas tribute to the childhood classic Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer had Rudolf and Clarice kept warm with Coca-Cola scarfs and put smiles on shoppers faces.

Large Surface Gold

Longo Bros. Fruit Markets, Woodbridge, ON Frank Sangirardi and Longo’s Weston Team Supplier: Heather Frenette, Nestlé Canada Description: Highlighting the innovations of Kit Kat Chunky Popcorn and Coffee Crisp Double Double single bars at Longo’s. The new products were a hit with customers.


|| June/July 2022

Multi Manufacturer Small Surface Gold

Sun Valley Market, Scarborough, ON Jim Bexis and Store Team Supplier: Mark Stire, Weston Foods, Vincent Tedesco, Maple Leaf Foods Description: Bringing buns and meats together for this tempting summer cookout display.

Perimeter Display

Medium Surface Gold

Small Surface Gold

Turtleford Co-op, Turtleford, SK Turtleford Store Team Supplier: Carol Rissling, Kraft Heinz Description: High praise for Turtleford Co-op’s Summer Barbeque display! With very limited space, this small store ordered as much product as stores three times their size. Sales were great!

Medium Surface Gold

Sharpe’s Food Market, Campbellford, ON John, Mike and Steve Sharpe and Store Team Supplier: Annette Chiodo, Maple Leaf Description: The store ran a flyer ad featuring all the products in the bunker, and with some key crossmerchandising, this two-week Canada Day display paid off in increased sales.

Large Surface Gold

IGA Extra, Marché Gagnon et fils inc., Pointe-Claire, QC Yves Gagnon et Marc Thériault Supplier: Catherine Gougeon, General Mills Description: « Faites une soirée tacos ! » was the theme for this display. This display included a free avocado promotion, had all the ingredients for the perfect Super Bowl Taco.

Co-op Food Store, Chappelle, Edmonton, AB Tyler Cranshaw and Store Team Supplier: Brian Karst, Kraft Heinz, Coca-Cola, and Smucker Foods Description: This cart-stopping display at the entrance of Co-op Food Store Chappelle featured everything shoppers needed for a summer cook-out, including the barbeques!

Large Surface Gold

Save-On-Foods #980, Orchard Plaza, Kelowna, BC Todd Ryder, Eric Falkenberg and Orchard Plaza Team Supplier: Cory Morash, Coca-Cola, Kevin Olexson, Old Dutch and Nestlé Canada Description: For Halloween, Save-On-Foods Orchard Plaza attacked shoppers with a Zombie hand rising from the Monster graveyard.

Single Manufacturer Small Surface Gold

South Hill Fine Foods, Moose Jaw, SK Perry Chambers and Store Team Supplier: Corey Bailey, Saputo Description: Retailer and supplier studied hard and aced this Back-to-School display featuring a variety of Saputo lunch box products.

Medium Surface Gold

Powell’s Supermarket, Bay Roberts, NL John Mercer and Powell’s Bay Roberts Team Supplier: Wade Tetford, A. Lassonde Description: This colourful summer display is showcasing a large variety of Fruite offerings. The eye-catching inflatables were a big hit with customers.

Large Surface Gold

Freson Bros. Stony Plain, AB Annette Lee and Team Members Supplier: Lisa Lafonde, Tree of Life Description: This massive display was called Master of Mixes – with everything needed for summer patio parties.


|| June/July 2022


beers to you! Value, convenience and great taste are top of mind for beer

picks in the grocery store


Breweries. “They’re buying premium but looking to larger pack sizes to add value.”

Here are some things for grocers to consider when stocking up on their summer beer offerings:

Getting in and out of the grocery store as quickly and efficiently as possible is still a priority for shoppers, which means keeping beer sections well organized. Shoppers say they appreciate when grocers group all-brand products together for easy navigation. They’re also apt to try new flavours from brands they trust. Food and beer pairing suggestions on signage or in flyers and digital promos are also appreciated for entertaining inspiration. Don’t forget about beer promotions on your website either, as those now accustomed to online shopping continue to go this route for their grocery purchases.

ot only is Canada home to more than 1,200 breweries, but some of our breweries have earned global recognition with top honours in some of the most coveted categories in the 2021 World Beer Awards. This year, while the alcohol category may be softening across the board, Canadians’ taste for beer certainly isn’t. In fact, beer sales contribute $14 billion to Canada’s GDP annually.

Value is important With food prices at record highs, consumers are looking to save at the grocery store—even when it comes to beer. While they’re still turning to local beer more often than export, and experimenting with single cans in craft beers especially, they’re also looking for value. “We’re seeing some of the top SKUs are increasingly the six-packs in the craft category where that was traditionally led by the macro brands,” says Scott Davies, key account director at Muskoka

Convenience is still key

Flavour is the spice of life As more Canadian beer drinkers seek new flavour profiles, they’re finding favour with IPAs. Many new IPAs offer unique citrus tastes thanks to a variety of hops used during the brewing process.

Top Shelf Picks

Lazy, hazy days Whether it’s a juicy IPA or a refreshing pale ale, Muskoka’s Hazy brews are a perfect complement to any barbecue on a hot summer’s day.

Loud and proud This crisp, pale IPA is full of aromatic hops and bright flavours. The fact that 10 cents from every can sold is donated to the Get REAL Movement, which is helping to combat discrimination and promote acceptance for all, is even more reason to indulge!


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Canadians want something a little extra from their bevvies By Jessica Huras

Canadians are a thirsty bunch, with figures from NielsenIQ showing cold beverage sales grew from $4.46 billion in 2021 to $4.78 billion for the 52 weeks ending May 14, 2022. So what are they drinking? Matthew Rogge, general manager of Toronto’s Summerhill Market, has noticed his customers are increasingly curious to try the new generation of premium sodas, seltzers, functional beverages and better-for-you drinks. “I’ve seen the category grow, since last year, at least double,” he says. Whether it’s a low-sugar alternative to a conventional soda or an adaptogenic drink that promotes relaxation, the beverage category is dominated by better-for-you products that claim to benefit consumers’ health and wellbeing. Pascale Larouche, Quebec-based Loop Mission’s public relations manager, describes the brand’s typical juice and soda customer as a “healthy indulger.” “They choose a product because it tastes great but also because it

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER




Freybe Smoked Salami Sticks Elevate snack time routine with Freybe Smoked Salami Sticks. One bite and Canadians will be delightfully whisked across the globe. With four unique European flavours to choose from, the new Freybe Salami Sticks are hardwood smoked in the time-honoured tradition to create a classic German dry cure salami, using only premium cuts of pork, no fillers added. A new adventure is waiting – no boarding pass required.

Lavazza Qualità Oro A unique combination of six varieties of Arabica beans from amongst the finest of Central and South America, expertly crafted and perfectly blended. The perfect symphony for a superior taste every time, since 1956. Rich and aromatic, this blend has a smooth, refined flavour, and is delicious as an after-dinner coffee. Qualità Oro is available in an 8.8oz ground can, 8.8oz ground brick, and 2.2lb whole bean bag.

Armstrong Combos Twice the snack in just one pack! Convenient and delicious Armstrong Combos make the perfect snacking pair. New Armstrong Cheese Combos are a hearty snack containing cheese sticks and naturally smoked meat sticks. Available in two flavours and individually wrapped for convenience, these sticks are a source of protein and calcium, and contain only 90 calories or less per stick. They are great for a quick, on-the-go snack.


|| June/July 2022

Aisles does something else,” she explains. In 2021, Canada Dry launched its Premium Light Tonic Water, which has 43% fewer calories than the brand’s original Premium Tonic Water, in response to this thirst for healthier beverages, according to brand manager, Erika Maddox. “One key trend that continues to grow and evolve is the interest in better-for-you beverage choices, which might include seeking more natural claims, lower calorie or lower sugar options, and the inclusion of functional ingredients,” she says. HEALTHY HYBRIDS Summerhill’s Rogge says beverages with both low sugar and low caffeine content are a high priority for customers at Summerhill Market. “Health and wellness is playing a crucial role now,” he says. Kris Linney, co-founder of Toronto cafe and retail shop GoodGood, points to WakeWater as an example of a product that offers several of the better-for-you benefits consumers are seeking. “It’s a caffeinated, sparkling water,” he says. “It has zero calories, zero sugar, zero sweetener, and it gives you that caffeine boost that you would get from a Red Bull or Monster but they use green tea.” Like WakeWater, many new beverages hitting the market promise multiple better-­for-you and premium ingredients, which, in some cases, means the line between beverage segments is becoming less clearly defined. Chrisoda is an example of a hybrid beverage that doesn’t fit into a single segment. Co-founder James Houston describes Chrisoda as a premium soda, but the beverage also promises betterfor-you benefits through its apple cider vinegar content. “People are looking for functionality or they’re looking for a clean ingredients deck or they’re looking for lower sugar—and our beverage ticks all of those boxes,” he says. Indeed, Rogge says some of the most interesting releases in the beverage category are coming from existing brands creating product variations that offer new or added benefits. Rise Kombucha, for example, launched a low-sugar kombucha two years ago, followed by a line of adaptogenic sparkling tea beverages this year. GoodGood’s Linney has observed that consumers are looking to see an immediate benefit from their beverages, whether it’s a no-crash caffeine kick or

the gratification of choosing a low-sugar sipper. He notes that a lot of new beverages touting ingredients such as collagen or adaptogens have some obstacles to overcome. “The biggest challenges some of those beverages run into is it’s something you have to drink consistently over time to actually see the benefits,” he explains. Products with amazing benefits but that require consumers to drink them for a specific amount of time, he says “are kind of fading out a little bit but the ones that you are getting that instant benefit from tend to do quite well.” A NEW KIND OF ALTERNATIVE Some consumers are starting to choose premium or better-for-you beverages over purpose-made non-alcoholic alternatives as substitutes for their go-to tipples. “People are replacing those beverages with stuff that doesn’t necessarily taste like beer or wine—it can be any type of beverage,” says GoodGood’s Linney. “I think that’s why this category is growing so fast.” Summerhill’s Rogge says that although non-alcoholic alternatives remain in high demand, he’s also noticing many customers are opting for beverages that aren’t designed to mimic the taste of alcohol. “I would say a lot of people are switching over,” he says. “Instead of having a glass of wine at night, they’ll have a functional beverage; or instead of cracking that beer in the afternoon, they’ll have an ice-cold sparkling water.” Canadian craft breweries are tap ping into this trend, producing sodas, sparkling waters and seltzers as their non-alcoholic alternatives, rather than non-alcoholic beer. Linney points to breweries like Ottawa’s Dominion City Brewing Co., which has an offshoot called City Seltzer; and Toronto’s Henderson Brewery, which produces a cream soda. Adam Tully, senior director of grocery for Calgary Co-op, has noticed a similar trend, noting their stores carry Annex Soda, which is produced by local brewery Annex Ale Project. “I think we’re starting to see that more and more for two reasons: One, they have a lot of equipment to be able to produce this type of stuff. And two, I think they’re also wanting to provide the community alternatives to alcohol beverages, and it doesn’t need to be a non-alcoholic beer,” says Linney. “People aren’t always striving for that beer profile or taste.”

FAVOURITE FLAVOURS L o op Mis sion’s Larouche says some of her company’s bestselling flavours feature less common drink ingredients like beets, Swiss chard and watermelon. “Since we work with overstock, we have access to more fruits and vegetables that other juice and soda companies cannot afford based on profit margins,” she explains. Linney agrees that consumers are interested in adventurous flavours. “People are definitely trending towards flavour profiles that are a little bit more unique,” he says, adding the popularity of sparkling water brand Barbet, for example, can in part be attributed to its creative flavours, which include ingredients like ginger, jalapeno and juniper. In contrast, flavours that remind consumers of their childhood sodas are also trending, according to Linney. “You’re seeing these ‘90s, early 2000s throwback flavours come to life quite a bit,” he says, noting high sales of flavours like cream soda, orange cream and cherry cola. Larouche has also noticed demand for nostalgic flavours, with Loop poised to launch a line of lemonades within the next year. “I feel like the lemonades are going to be something people are really going to enjoy because of those childhood memories,” she says. In terms of merchandising, Calgary Co-op’s strategy is to mix the new with the traditional. “In my stores, I have a 12-foot specialty beverage set that contains a lot of craft soda—and that’s plugged right in between my Coke and Pepsi,” says Tully. “We know Coke and Pepsi will drive the traffic, but give them an alternative at the shelf to purchase.” Eytan Eliahoo, Rise Kombucha’s director of sales, on the other hand, says its products perform best when placed near fruits and veggies, since health-conscious consumers often won’t venture down traditional soda and juice aisles. “Retailers who have moved these beverages to the produce section have seen their sales significantly increase,” he says. Chrisoda’s Houston thinks the innovations we’re seeing in premium and betterfor-you beverages are only the beginning of what’s to come for the subcategory. “We’re in a real boom, which is a huge advantage to the consumer,” he says. “I think it’s going to really change like snacking changed. It used to be just pretzels and chips, but you can get anything now.”

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


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Michael MEDLINE talks Voilà, private label

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Darrell Jones The SaveOn-Foods president talks expansion, e-comm and always going the extra mile for customers


CEO Ken Keelor on making his stores the most trusted places to shop and putting more “Calgary” in Calgary Co-op

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Innovation spurred by consumer interest in health and indulgence is helping chocolate to sweet sales By Michele Sponagle DURING THE darkest days of the pandemic, consumers turned to chocolate— sweet, creamy, and unapologetically indulgent. Sales were robust, making producers and retailers happy. But what is happening with this sweet confection now? It’s time to look at category trends. Canadian figures from NielsenIQ reveal the chocolate category is continuing to perform well. Sales for the 52-week period ending May 9, 2020, exceeded $1.9 billion. Fast forward a year; sales increased by 9%. And in May 2022, there was another jump of 6% over 2021 figures, with total sales of $2.2 billion. “Consumer demand for indulgence and affordable luxury remains strong, especially during the four new waves of the pandemic that forced many to stay home in 2021, and this demand continues into 2022,” says Mark Strobel, research manager, Euromonitor International. Strobel says the home-snacking trend will benefit the category as more workers forego returning to an office. “Overall, 2022 is looking to experience growth at a faster rate than 2021 for chocolate confectionery,” he adds. Boosted by growing awareness of immunity and self-care, health-minded consumers will be seeking better-for-you indulgences, says Strobel. This trend has contributed to the popularity of portion-­ controlled product formats, such as minis, bites, squares and blocks.

The big news, he says, is that “the plant-­ ­ ased food craze is also taking over the b category.” Lindt introduced vegan chocolate into Canada in early 2022 as did Barry Callebaut with its Plant Craft range. It’s a trend that Goodness Me! has witnessed. The Ontario-based natural food market saw a spike in chocolate early in the pandemic and it continues to perform well. “We’ve always carried traditional, high-quality dairy milk chocolate, but we’re seeing an increase of alternatives made with ingredients like oat milk and keto bars sweetened with Stevia or coconut sugar,” explains Robin Langford, the grocery retailer’s category manager. She credits innovation in the alternatives category for its growth. “The vegan chocolate you would have had five or more years ago is nothing like what is available today,” Langford explains. “You couldn’t taste the difference between the vegan bars we carry and the regular ones [today]. The technology has advanced so much.” Vegan chocolate is among Goodness Me!’s top 10 chocolate SKUs. The grocer also takes care with chocolate merchandising, placing it in multiple locations, including end aisles, near check-outs, and close to snack food aisles. “It’s 100% about location,” Langford says. “It’s an impulse buy. If a customer sees a beautiful chocolate bar, it will end up in their carts more often.” The quest for healthier options has also

pushed the trend for chocolate bars with high percentages of cocoa. “Consumers are looking for the indulgence, but with a health slant,” says Susan Hooper, senior brand development manager, Tree of Life. “This could also be sugar-free options, or healthy inclusions like fruit and nuts in their chocolate bars.” She suggests grocers keep well stocked with a diverse selection to please a range of customer preferences. Samuel Bussieres, senior director, confectionery, Mondelēz, thinks consumers in the post-lockdown era crave new experiences, which is driving consumers towards indulgent products that stimulate their senses, such as chocolate infused with interesting textures and unusual flavours. “That said, with inflationary pressures heating up, it’s important we can deliver against their indulgence needs without breaking the bank,” he says. The home nesting trend has also created significant growth in shareable chocolates. Mondelēz has been focusing on expanding its portfolio of larger pouches with bite-sized/mini-chocolate formats. And consumers are also seeking ways to reduce their environmental impact. “For us, this means buying products with sustainably sourced cocoa,” explains Bussieres. “That’s why we remain committed to ensuring that all Cadbury Dairy Milk products are made with 100% sustainably sourced cocoa through the Cocoa Life program.” To support chocolate sales, Bussieres says retailers should develop solutions to capitalize on the significant consumer demand that exists for impulse chocolate, with new in-store display vehicles that catch the eye of the shopper, while making efficient use of space in-store. In terms of merchandising, Liv Glazebrook, marketing manager at Whittaker’s Chocolates, a New Zealand brand that launched in Canada in 2015, adds that chocolate needs to be displayed at room temperature and kept out of direct sunlight. Whittaker’s, too, has experienced an increased interest in its ethical sourcing and Rainforest Alliance certification. “We’re delighted that Canadian chocolate lovers are just as passionate about ethical sourcing as we are,” she says. So what’s the outlook for chocolate? Euromonitor International estimates sales growth from 2021 to 2026 in Canada will be 11% and reach USD$3.25 billion. Sweet! CG

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER



In association with The Golden Pencil Award, Canadian Grocer is accepting nominations for the 2022 Generation Next Awards, which recognize emerging leaders (under age 40) in the grocery and consumer packaged goods industries

NOW ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS Deadline to enter: September 16, 2022 For full details, visit: Presented by

Exclusive GenNext Partner



When the carbon it emits into the atmosphere is balanced by the emissions it absorbs through investments in sustainability projects, such as tree-planting or solar energy, a company can claim to be carbon neutral. But that doesn’t make its food products so, if its suppliers (of ingredients, packaging, transport, etc.) are not carbon neutral. Maple Leaf Foods, for instance, was certified as the world’s first carbon neutral food company in 2019. However, some of its suppliers are not carbon neutral. As a result, it cannot label its food with the designation. “Because we don’t yet neutralize all of our [supplier emissions with an offset carbon program], we don’t claim that our products are carbon neutral,” the company explained in an email. To meet sustain­ ability goals, Maple Leaf and others are working to offset the carbon emissions of their suppliers. “Complete carbon neutrality is the Holy Grail,” notes Innova Market Insight’s director of innovation, Luann Williams.

Carbon neutral foods Four things to know By Chris Daniels

2 GLOBAL TREND As companies reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, product launches with a carbon reduction claim are on an uptick. Innova Market Insights calculated a compound annual growth rate of 30% in such product launches globally from 2017 to 2021. “The claims in food and beverage are flourishing and becoming stronger,” says Innova’s Luann Williams. “We saw claims jump the most year over year in 2021—by 83%!”

“Complete carbon neutrality is the Holy Grail”

Aisles 3 SHOPPER EDUCATION KEY “The need for education behind what it means for a food to be carbon neutral is huge,” says Robin Langford, product category manager at Goodness Me! an Ontario-based natural foods grocer. “Consumers don’t understand all the facets right now, and because of this, they question what to believe.” Adding to the confusion? The myriad third-party carbon offset certification bodies, as well as other sustainability labels. The majority of global consumers are invested in environmental labelling, according to an Innova study. However, 55% of those surveyed said “there are too many environmental labels, so I don’t know what to look out for.” Education is a big challenge for the carbon neutral food movement, concurs Kallie Culbertson, associate brand manager at Conagra Brands. Still, seeing a desire by shoppers to make more sustainable food choices, Conagra introduced eight Carbon-free Certified Carbon Neutral single-serve frozen meal options to its Evol brand in the U.S. in June. (No plans yet to launch them in Canada.) “One of the biggest hurdles is not so much, ‘How do we make the consumer care?’ because in most cases they already do want to shop more sustainably, but rather ‘How do consumers identify what is/isn’t sustainable?’” explains Culbertson. She is calling for “innovative ways to educate consumers in-store on what it means to be carbon neutral,” and suggests “sustainable” endcaps or freezer shelf space could drive interest and education.

4 CANDY LAND Confectionery is a category creating momentum for carbon neutral foods. Take Vancouver’s Healthy Hippo. In April, its gummies were certified Carbon Neutral from Planet FWD, a carbon management platform for consumer brands. “Achieving our certification has seen us through a cradle-to-grave lifecycle assessment for all of our products to better understand our impact on the planet,” says the company’s founder and CEO Ashley Paterson.

“The brand has really taken off since we started carrying it,” says Langford at Goodness Me!, Healthy Hippo’s first retail customer in Ontario. “Shoppers who dislike the taste of stevia in other low-sugar candy options really like Healthy Hippo, and the carbon certification is an added benefit.” Meanwhile, Mars Wrigley Canada has promised every Mars bar sold in Canada will be certified as carbon neutral by Jan. 1, 2023.

June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


New on shelf!

The latest products hitting shelves

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2 EVIVE MUFFIN BITES Evive Muffin Bites are easy to make; all customers need to do is pop the frozen cubes into a non-stick mini muffin pan and bake. Available in two flavours—Banana-Choco and Carrot—each wheel of mix makes six plant-based muffin bites that are also gluten free, dairy free and packed with vitamins and fibre.


3 PURPLESFUL SNACKING Purplesful Snacking is an artisanal popcorn brand made with purple kernel corn for a product that the company says is tastier, creamier, fluffier and healthier than its classic counterpart. Gluten free, plant based and rich in antioxidants, Purplesful Snacking is available in Sea Salt and Vegan Cheddar.

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1 NOTCO NOTBURGER Food tech company NotCo has launched its second product in the Canadian market. Following the debut of NotMilk last fall, the company has introduced NotBurger. The 100% plant-based NotBurger was created using the company’s patented A.I. tech to create a product that it says tastes, feels and cooks just like the real thing.

4 VAN HOUTTE DULCE DE LECHE LIGHT ROAST COFFEE Van Houtte Dulce De Leche Blend is a smooth and creamy full-bodied brew with notes of caramelized brown sugar and swirls of sweetened condensed milk. Also launching is Van Houtte Belgium Chocolate Blend. 5 FERRERO ROCHER CHOCOLATE BARS Inspired by the iconic Ferrero Rocher chocolate and hazelnut praline, Ferrero Rocher 90-gram premium chocolate bars are made with crunchy hazelnut pieces, smooth chocolate, and creamy fillings. They’re available in four flavours: Milk Hazelnut, Dark Hazelnut, White Hazelnut and Dark Hazelnut & Salted Caramel.



6 NAIRN’S GLUTEN FREE CHUNKY OAT COOKIES Made in Scotland, using simple ingredients sourced from local farmers, Nairn’s Gluten Free Chunky Oat Cookies are all natural and contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. They’re available in apple cinnamon, raspberry, chocolate mint, and dark chocolate and coconut. 7 HENRY’S TEMPEH CRUMBLES Made from Canadian organic soybeans, Henry’s Tempeh Crumble is a seasoned, ready to cook, protein-rich fermented crumble that can be used as a pizza topper, in tacos or mixed into pastas and salad. It is minimally processed, gluten free and contains 8 grams of fibre per serving.


8 SILK NEXTMILK Silk Nextmilk is a plant-based beverage from Danone Canada that it says closely mimics the taste and texture of traditional milk. It contains only three grams of sugar per 250-mL serving and is free from gluten, carrageenan, and artificial colours and flavours. 9 NUTELLA B-READY Customers love it in a jar, now give it to them in a bar. Nutella B-ready is an on-the-go snack bar with a crunchy wafer shell that’s filled with the hazelnut taste of Nutella and sprinkled with puffed crisps. Each package contains six individually-wrapped bars. 10 DAIYA CHEEZE BLOCKS From Daiya Foods comes two new plant-based innovations. The B.C.-based company has launched its Daiya Grilling Cheeze Block, which it touts as being the first plant-based grilling cheese made with oats and chickpeas. Inspired by traditional Halloumi cheese, the Grilling Cheeze forms a crispy outer crust when grilled or fried. Also new to the lineup is Daiya’s Feta Flavour Block, which can be easily crumbled for use in hot or cold recipes. CG

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June/July 2022 || CANADIAN GROCER


Express Lane


CAMH’s Dr. Donna Ferguson on how to better support employees and build a better workplace By Shellee Fitzgerald THE PANDEMIC THRUST the issue of mental health into the spotlight as large numbers of working Canadians reported struggling with things like burnout, stress and anxiety. We recently spoke to Dr. Donna Ferguson, clinical psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s (CAMH) Work Stress & Health Program about what’s threatening workers’ mental health today and how employers can take meaningful action to address the problem. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

We’ve heard a lot about workplace stress and burnout, especially in the last few years. What are some of the main factors contributing to worker stress currently? With burnout, much of it stems from people feeling like they don’t have control over what they do. Sometimes it’s a job demand, it’s hours feeling overwhelmed, and not getting much work-life balance. I think all of that still applies today, as it did during the [height] of the pandemic. In addition to that, there’s the uncertainty over going back to the office, whether part time or full time. Some people may still have anxieties about the virus. I think all these things taken together can be quite stressful and have played a role in people’s mental health, anxiety, mood issues, depression—all of those things. As well, people working from home sometimes feel they’ve got to put more hours in; that they’ve got to show they’re working. This has caused a lot of stress and burnout—the longer hours you work, the less breaks you take, the less time for self-care—It’s a huge, huge problem.

A lot of companies are now talking about mental health, but surveys also tell us few Canadian workers feel they’re getting enough support from employers. How can employers more effectively address mental health? 84 CANADIAN GROCER

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It really starts with creating a workplace strategy. How do you improve employees’ mental health and wellbeing? Not just their mental health, but their physical health as well. You must ensure they have access to resources. And people will say, ‘Well there’s EAP’ [Employee Assistance Program] and I’m not saying that’s not a good resource, but there should be a lot more than that. We need to cater to what their mental health and physical needs are at this point and there’s no one-size-fits all solution. We must see what works for people and look at the options out there to make mental health be more accessible.

What are some common missteps companies make when attempting to tackle this issue? Not checking in with employees. Regular checkins where you’re asking: ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Is there anything you need? It can go a long way, and people will feel cared for. In addition, if employers don’t build or encourage a stigma-free environment, sometimes things like bullying and harassment can occur. Employers need to pay attention to those things. And then, having a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work; you need to have a broader choice of resources for people. Also, not allowing flexibility and not building a work culture that includes a work-life balance. Pushing people beyond their limits is a big problem.

Are attitudes towards mental health changing? I do think there’s some progress being made. It’s slow, but I think the pandemic has helped in a weird way. Organizations/employers have had to adjust and be more flexible and build more resources around mental health. Obviously, there’s been an increase in anxiety for some people; for example, mothers who have been in lockdown at home with their kids. That was a huge stress and employers have had to respond to things like that. The conversations are happening.

Anything else? Building and creating a stigma-free work environment is extremely important. When I’m trying to help people get back to work, I’ve seen that if they feel they’re not supported by their employer, or they feel they can’t talk about their mental health issues, or feel ashamed because of how people will view them— it’s such a barrier to returning to work and sustaining work. It’s something, I feel, is important for employers to pay attention to and work on. And I need to mention equity, diversity and inclusion as it has become increasingly important. And it’s something we should continue to focus on and incorporate into the workplace in different ways, not just piecemealing it with ‘okay, here we go, we’ve got a workshop on EDI.’ It should be more about ‘how do we incorporate it into everything that we do?’ And these things should be led from the top down. If it starts there, then it really does trickle down and creates a better work environment. CG



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