Canadian Grocer June/July

Page 1

Inside Calgary’s new Urban Fare

Conquering last- The new mile delivery face of milk


Meet our 2019 Star Women in Grocery Award winners


Back to school: how to ace sales The cashless conundrum




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CONTENTS June/July 2019




Introducing this year’s 29 outstanding winners



Volume 133 Number 4


07 Front Desk 18 Food Bytes 68 Checking Out PEOPLE

08 The Buzz

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

10 Elysia and Natasha Vandenhurk

Meet the co-founders of Three Farmers Foods



13 The end of cash? Not so fast

first Urban Fare location

15 The plastic problem


16 A waning interest in edibles

More Canadians may be going cashless, but that doesn’t mean retailers should

20  Step inside Calgary’s

Study reveals how Canadians' feel about single-use plastics

51  The stakes are high

Survey says: fewer consumers are willing to try cannabisinfused foods

for grocers to get home delivery right

17 Satisfying Canadian appetites

A Q&A with Kraft Heinz Canada’s new president, Nina Barton



57 Fuel for school

Info and tips to help grocers ace back-to-school sales

61 The new face of milk

As milk consumption declines, dairy manufacturers step up their innovation game

64 Small but mighty


Check out the seedy new products hitting the market


FOLLOW US ON @CanadianGrocer Canadian Grocer Magazine @CanadianGrocerMagazine June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer






Jennifer Litterick



Shellee Fitzgerald

The Star Women in Grocery Awards have been held annually since 2012


Carol Neshevich


Kristin Laird


Josephine Woertman


George H. Condon


Derek Estey


Michael Kimpton


Alexandra Voulu


Lina Trunina


Valerie White


Vanessa Peters


Chantal Barlow


Jacquie Rankin


Championing women in our industry is more important than ever

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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 © 2019 by EnsembleIQ, may not be reprinted without permission. Canadian Grocer receives unsolicited materials (including letters to the editor, press releases, promotional items and images) from time to time. Canadian Grocer, its affiliates and assignees may use, reproduce, publish, republish, distribute, store and archive such submissions in whole or in part in any form or medium whatsoever, without compensation of any sort. ISSN# 0008-3704 PM 42940023 Canadian Grocer is Published by Stagnito Partners Canada Inc., 20 Eglinton Avenue West, Ste. 1800, Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1K8.


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AS WE WERE putting the final touches on this issue, our Star Women in Grocery issue, I received an email from McKinsey & Company announcing new research from the firm that builds on its 2017 report, The Present and Future of Women at Work in Canada. The good news? The report—based on a survey of more than 100 organizations across all industries—found commitment to gender equality within Canadian companies is “stronger than ever" with four out of five of them considering gender diversity a priority. But (yes, there's a but), the research also revealed women face challenges in advancement and “everyday” discrimination at work. So while there’s progress, clearly there’s still much to do in recognizing the value of women in the workplace. At Canadian Grocer, we are proud to play a part in recognizing the value of women through our Star Women in Grocery Awards, something we started doing in 2012. At the time we felt there was a need to celebrate the achievements of women in our industry, and eight years later that need is just as relevant. Those of you familiar with the awards may

have noticed that we changed things up this year, breaking the awards into three categories to ensure we are recognizing exceptional women at all levels of the industry. The response to this change was overwhelming; we received a record number of nominations and from that tall stack of forms we had the tough but gratifying task of determining this year’s 29 winners. Among our 2019 winners are a dietitian-­ turned sales director, an investment banker-­ turned specialty grocer, a natural and organic foods pioneer, a fourth-generation grocer and a store manager who is not only a leader at her store, but also in her community. Read all of their impressive stories, starting on page 25. Congratulations to all of this year's Star Women in Grocery!

Shellee Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief

The grocery industry is changing rapidly. Keep up to date on the latest news by signing up for our e-newsletter. It’s free and we’ll deliver it to your inbox three times a week. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.


June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer



The latest news in the grocery biz


Empire is expanding its FreshCo discount banner in the West. The company has confirmed that by spring 2020 it will have 18 FreshCo locations in Western Canada. Five FreshCo stores are currently operating in B.C.; in July, two stores will open in B.C. and a further five locations in the province are slated to open in fall 2019 and winter 2020. Six Safeway locations in British Columbia will also close and re-open as FreshCos in spring 2020.

The grand opening of FreshCo in Mission, B.C.

In recent weeks, a third ADONIS store has opened in Ontario in the city of Mississauga. The Metro-owned chain, which specializes in Middle Eastern fare, has also relocated its Dollard-des-Ormeaux store in suburban Montreal to a larger, nearly 46,000-sq.-ft. location in that community. Adonis currently has 13 stores in Quebec and Ontario with a new location expected to open soon in Ottawa.


A 28,000-sq.-ft. SOBEYS Urban Fresh store in downtown Ottawa (at 193 Metcalfe Street) will close in early August and reopen next spring as a FARM BOY. The chain, purchased by

Sobeys last year, has been aggressively expanding in Ontario and now has 28 stores in the province. Toronto’s FRESH CITY has acquired THE

HEALTHY BUTCHER, an organic meat retailer in the city. The Healthy Butcher’s founders Mario Fiorucci and Tara Longo will join Fresh City’s senior manage­ ment team.

SAVE-ON-FOODS has also added to its store count recently with a new location in Medicine Hat, Alta. In late April, Save-On-Foods also opened an Urban Fare, it’s premium banner, in Calgary. (Read our store profile on page 20) HEALTHY PLANET, an Ontario-based health and wellness retailer, has opened four locations in the Greater Toronto Area in recent weeks in the communities of Ancaster, Cambridge, Milton and Ajax. The family-owned retailer—which sells fresh foods, organic groceries and supplements—says it has ambitious plans to have 100 stores in Canada in 10 years.

In June, Save-On-Foods presented BC Children’s Hospital with a cheque for $2.1 million. The retailer has been supporting the hospital for more than 30 years and this year’s grand total is the culmination of a year of fundraising through store-led initiatives and the Save-On-Foods Charity Golf Tournament.


June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer





Canadian Grocer’s  Star Women in Grocery Awards Breakfast will take place on Sept. 18 at The International Centre in Mississauga, Ont. Visit for tickets, and turn to page 25 to meet this year’s winners.  The Canadian Coffee and Tea Show  runs from Sept. 22 to 23 at the Toronto Congress Centre. Visit Coffeeteashow. ca for more info. The Retail Council of Canada’s  Retail West  event will take place at Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency on Oct. 16. Visit for details.

Pierre St-Laurent

Michael Vels


At a ceremony in May, DONALD and DAVID SOBEY received Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) 2019 Canadian Grand Prix Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Sobey family. The award recognizes individuals’ or families’ outstanding service and dedication to the Canadian retail industry. Since Sobeys’ inception more than 112 years ago in Stellarton, N.S., five generations of Sobey family members have been involved in building the business, now the second-largest grocery chain in Canada. In a statement, RCC president and CEO Diane J. Brisebois said: “The family has played significant roles in the growth of the company, showing exceptional and relentless passion to serve their customers, their employees and the community at large.”

Lyne Castonguay

Cori Bonina


Nathalie Lassonde

Joni Graham (centre) of Carmen’s Independent CityMarket in Toronto was crowned winner of the 24th Annual Cake Decorating Challenge at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s show in Orlando, Fla., recently. The three-day-long competition put contestants through a number of challenges including filling a bakery case and creating a special occasion cake. Jess Tatham of Publix Super Markets came in second, while Hy-Vee’s Dana Nygaard placed third.

John Jamieson

Empire has announced a number of executive changes: Pierre St-Laurent is the company’s new COO, and CFO Michael Vels has moved into an expanded role, now overseeing Empire’s information technology team. Luc L’Archeveque, senior VP, merchandising and general manager, Quebec, and Lorne MacLean, senior VP retail operations, have joined the company’s executive committee. And Lyne Castonguay, EVP store experience is leaving the company as part of a planned transition. Cori Bonina is stepping down as CEO of Stong’s Market. Bonina spent 40 years at the Vancouver-based grocery business, founded by her great grandfather. Brian Bradley has taken on the role of president of Stong’s. Bradley joined the company in 2017 as general manager following a 30-year stretch at Safeway. Lassonde Industries has a new CEO. Nathalie Lassonde replaces Pierre-Paul Lassonde who continues to serve as chairman of the company’s board. Previously, Nathalie Lassonde was assistant to the chairman of the board and to the CEO, and also served as vice-president of organizational efficiency. John Jamieson is the new president and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Food Integrity (CCFI). Jamieson has more than 25 years of senior leadership within the agri-food sector. He replaces Crystal Mackay, CCFI’s inaugural president. Greenspace Brands has appointed Stuart Pasternak as its new CFO. Pasternak takes over from Cindy Leung who had been filling the role on an interim basis. June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer



Who you need to know

The Facts Who:

Natasha and Elysia Vandenhurk Position:

Co-founders, Three Farmers Foods What’s new?

Crunchy Little Lentils snacks


The founders of Three Farmers have turned their oils and snacks into a Prairie success story By Laura Pratt Photography by Carey Shaw


SK ELYSIA AND NATASHA Vandenhurk what the secret to their success is, and they’ll jump all over each other with their answer: “Timing.” Timing that saw the sisters born a year apart, close enough to foster an intimacy that could sustain a lot—even operating a business together. Timing that saw a widespread interest in plant proteins explode in concert with the popularity of the plant-protein snack line that propelled their company, Three Farmers, into a Prairie success story. Three Farmers is the latest corporate iteration of a Saskatchewan farm— launched and long operated by the sisters’ dad, Dan Vandenhurk, and two other neighbouring farmers—that has, for years, grown wheat and flax (and children with an entrepreneurial bent). Elysia, a chef, and Natasha, an economics graduate, started their company in 2011 with the driving belief that everyone deserves access to clean, nutritious food. Today, the siblings oversee a Saskatoon-­based operation that provides just that—crunchy products that serve as healthier alternatives to the deep-fried standards so ubiquitous at snack time. They began by selling camelina oil, a newcomer to the marketplace that fit with their commitment to new, wholesome food products. This ancient seed’s hardiness thrives in Saskatchewan soil and, when cold-pressed, yields a nutrient-dense oil that’s high in omega-3. The sisters started peddling the oil at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, and when it took off there, they loaded up their car with it and drove to Toronto to knock on big-city doors. Everywhere, people loved the novelty of the camelina oil and the Three Farmers brand. The company got traction from the get-go. In 2014, fired up by a media swirl celebrating the cool new oil and the sibling-sprung farm story behind it— including a turn on Dragons’ Den and ink in Maclean’s magazine—Three Farmers branched into other crops. First came a line of Roasted Chickpeas, a product whose roasting challenged the sisters enough to push them into manufacturing (“We realized that no one in Canada could roast chickpeas for us”). The venture increased Three Farmers’

ownership of its products, extending it from field to processing. The whole roasted chickpea snack, available in flavours such as Balsamic & Cracked Pepper and Maple Cinnamon, sped past camelina oil and paved the path for Pea Pops: high-protein, low-fat, dry-roasted green peas available with bold seasonings, including Dill Pickle Pow and Sriracha Slap. Most recently, Crunchy Little Lentils hit the market in 2018—another “roasted pulse snack,” this one accommodating enough to also be a salad topper. (The lentils were a Canadian Grand Prix New Product Award finalist.) The sisters always knew they’d be involved in something together. All six Vandenhurk siblings are inclined for empire-building, after all: “Growing up on a farm, you see what entrepreneurship is firsthand,” says Elysia. When she and her sister identified the opportunity to get behind a healthy food product with agricultural roots and a transparent supply line, it was so appealing their lack of formal experience didn’t occur to them. “Ignorance is bliss in something like this,” Elysia says. Today, the three-product snack line is available at large and small grocers across the country, along with health food stores, airports, foodservice, golf courses and universities. Its multichannel presence extends to the United States, too, where the growth focus of the next stretch awaits. The snacks are popular, say the sisters, for a couple of reasons. Their clean ingredients, for one, and the smart alternative these crunchy treats offer to greasier munchies. Their transparency, for another, which was key from the start and evidenced by the traceability number the company slaps on the back of all its packages, inviting consumers to track their foods. The younger generation is hungry for brands they can trust, says Natasha. “They want a story that aligns with their values so they don’t have to compromise on environmental standpoints or a healthy lifestyle to enjoy the product. We fill the gap.” As for the original three farmers, the eponymous trio that planted the company’s seeds and still sits on its board? They’re thrilled by the growth.  CG


ELYSIA AND NATASHA VANDENHURK What do you like most about your job?

ELYSIA: Seeing how eager our employees are to be part of this and how it lines up with their values and lets them work toward being their best selves, to feel purposeful each day with what they offer and what they do.

Why is Three Farmers as successful as it is?

NATASHA: You have to have a passion for what you’re doing. You can be the smartest person in the world, but if you’re not passionate, you won’t succeed.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

NATASHA: It sounds supercheesy, but follow your dreams. A job doesn’t have to feel like a job. We come into work because we love this every day. This is our life and our passion.

What’s it like to work with your sister?

ELYSIA: Natasha and I grew up going to school together, playing sports together, with the same friends. We scrap in the business, we have our tantrums—but one minute later we’re over it. NATASHA: Neither of us ever forgets the value in the other. That’s how some partnerships fall apart.

What do you like to do when you’re not working? BOTH: To think about work.

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


It’s time to celebrate the care that goes into every Canadian egg.

The new Egg Quality Assurance (EQA) program shows your customers, right on the carton, that their eggs are produced by Canadian farmers dedicated to delivering a top-quality product that meets national food safety and animal care standards. Visit and add the EQA symbol to your cartons today!


Retailers, suppliers, shoppers, insights

After a backlash, this New York City Amazon Go, which opened in May, is the first in the network to accept cash



The end of cash? Not so fast More Canadians are going cashless, but that doesn’t mean grocery retailers should go the way of Amazon Go By Rebecca Harris


hances are, you don’t have any cash on you right now. According to Payments Canada, there are steep declines in the frequency of cash use: 42% of Canadian consumers use cash less than four times a month, compared to 20% in 2018. While digital payments will no doubt continue to grow, not everyone is ready to make the leap into a cashless future. Amazon Go—a cashier-less concept with automatic app payment—launched in the United States last year with much fanfare. But as the concept expanded, the backlash against cashless stores started to grow. Those opposed say the practice unfairly disadvantages people without bank accounts or credit cards, or who simply prefer to pay with cash. This past May, Amazon Go opened a new store in New York—the first Amazon Go in that city and the first to accept cash. While it’s tough to say if a similar backlash would happen in Canada, there aren’t a lot of retailers here rushing to adopt cashless, says Michael LeBlanc, senior retail June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


IDEAS advisor at Retail Council of Canada. “These aren’t the days when you can turn customers away. I’m not sure why you would eliminate the potential of having customers in such a competitive marketplace.” He adds that the cashless discussion is similar to that of self-checkout and automated checkout. “If you talk to three customers, you will hear three different things—some don’t find it convenient, some find it very convenient, some find it convenient occasionally. That’s not dissimilar with cash.” Andreas Park, associate professor of finance at the University of Toronto, points to the ongoing backlash against self-checkouts, with shoppers complaining they have to do the work for the retailer. “If the store passes on the savings to the consumer, I can consider it. But what this is really about is to increase shareholder payoffs at the expense of people who are already getting very low, minimum wage salaries,” says Park. “That is one of the reasons people were reacting quite negatively, too. It just feels wrong.” Justin Ferrabee, chief operating officer at Payments Canada, notes that taking away a payment method for a back-office savings has a high cost on topline sales because people make choices based on the convenience of paying. For example, 73% of Canadians will choose an online retailer based on its payment method. “When you take away



a payment option, you reduce convenience, and when you add a payment option, you increase convenience,” he says. “We are at a state in payments and commerce in Canada where adding is better than taking away.” For retailers like Walmart Canada, the digital push doesn’t mean doing away with cash or cashiers altogether. The retailer recently opened a new urban Supercentre concept featuring its “Fast Lane” technology that allows customers to use their My Walmart app to scan products as they shop. At checkout, they scan the barcode on their order and have their order charged to their credit card on file. In an email to Canadian Grocer, Steeve Azoulay, Walmart Canada’s senior director of public affairs, said the goal of Fast Lane, as well as its self-checkouts and Scan & Go system, is to help make the customer shopping experience more convenient. “These options add other choices for our customers to help them check out faster and navigate the store quickly,” he said. “[At the same time], our goal is to have a cashier option available at all times for our customers who prefer to check out with an associate.” As with most things in retail, it’s all about giving customers options. “Cash use is declining, but we still see it being needed,” says Ferrabee. “We just don’t see it disappearing, not any time soon. It is one option.”








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HOW DO CANADIANS FEEL ABOUT THE food industry’s use of single-use plastics? Dalhousie University sheds some light in its new report, “The Single-Use Plastics Dilemma: Perceptions and Possible Solutions.” Here’s what the study—released just prior to the Canadian government’s announcement to ban single-use plastics by 2021—revealed:


of survey respondents consider environmental impacts caused by single-use plastic (SUP) food packaging to be important


said they are personally motivated to reduce SUP packaging because of its environmental impacts


believe regulations to reduce SUP packaging should be strengthened



also believe plastic packaging should be changed to green alternatives, but at no additional cost


Only of respondents said they’d be willing to pay more for an item with biodegradable packaging




The plastic problem

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A WANING INTEREST IN EDIBLES Survey says: fewer consumers are now willing to try cannabis-infused foods  By Rebecca Harris CANNABIS EDIBLES will be legal to purchase in Canada in October, but Canadians’ appetite for pot-infused foods appears to be waning. In a new survey by Dalhousie University, about 36% of respondents said they would purchase cannabis-infused food products once legalized. That’s down from 45.8% in 2017, when Dalhousie



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researchers conducted a similar survey ahead of the legalization of recreational pot use in Canada. The study, titled “Edibles and Canadian consumers’ willingness to consider recreational cannabis in food or beverage products,” also found less interest on the restaurant side. This year, 25.5% of respondents said they would be willing to order a dish with cannabis at a restaurant, down from 38.5% in 2017. In addition, 15.8% agreed that a cannabis-infused dish would replace an alcoholic drink they would normally have had, down from 26.6% in 2017. What’s behind the decline in interest? “The government made [edibles] boring,” says the study’s lead author Sylvain Charlebois, professor in food distribution and policy and senior director of the Agri-food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “A few years ago, the Liberals invited the whole country to a mega party, only to end up in a dodgy cafeteria with Kool-Aid.” Charlebois believes Canadians’ enthusiasm has been affected by Health Canada’s proposed regulatory framework, which has put a damper on the food and beverage industry’s excitement about edibles. “There is a bit of a tug-of-war going on between Health Canada and industry, and I think people are feeling it,” he says. The major obstacle for industry is that under the proposed rules, cannabis-infused food and beverage products must be made in a separate facility, which Charlebois says is cost-prohibitive for manufacturers. “Two years ago, people thought everything is possible and a lot of things can happen,” he says. “And now, the regulatory framework is very restrictive, so we’re likely not going to see a whole lot of products other than illegal products.” The study also found Canadians are more wary about kids getting access to edibles. In 2019, 60.8% of survey respondents said they were concerned about the risk for children and young adults who would have more access to cannabis, up from 58.5% in 2017. More than half (54.1%) said they’re concerned about the risks for pets that would have more access to edibles. And the majority of Canadians (63.6%) believe edibles pose a greater risk to children and young adults than other forms of cannabis. A growing number of Canadians see cannabis as a healthy ingredient: 18.7% agree it’s a healthy ingredient for their diet, up from 12.6% in 2017. However, 59.7% (same as 2017) are concerned about over-consuming edibles and worry the effects would be too strong. According to the survey, the primary reasons for purchasing a cannabis-infused food product or ordering a dish infused with cannabis are: for its therapeutic qualities (31.8%), because I’m curious and would like to try it (25.8%), for its psychoactive effects (17.9), for its taste (11.7%), and because I consider it as a healthy alternative (7.9%).




Satisfying Canadian appetites The new prez at Kraft Heinz Canada talks keeping brands relevant and her penchant for Philly


By Shellee Fitzgerald After nine years of racking up experience at the company, most recently as its president of global digital online growth in the U.S., Nina Barton returned to her homeland to head up Kraft Heinz Canada in January. At a time when things are challenging for many big CPG companies, Barton is bullish on the Canadian business. We chatted with the new president about keeping brands relevant and investing in Canada. Here are edited excerpts from our interview:

Kraft Heinz is a company with many legacy brands—how do you ensure those brands remain relevant for today’s consumer? I think you have to do a number of things. You need to do things like we’ve done over the last couple of years, which is to renovate our existing businesses. A good example is the work we did on KD (Kraft Dinner) where we took a “No No No” approach, with no artificial flavours,

no artificial colours and no preservatives and also, more recently, on Philadelphia. It’s about making sure we’re listening to the consumer and renovating those businesses, which are not small undertakings for us to get them to taste exactly how they [consumers] want, but also to get to the profile the consumer wants, but it’s something I think you’re going to have to do. I think doing things like that on big businesses that are meaningful is going to pay back dividends. The second thing is that you really do need to continue to drive innovation. Innovation is pretty essential.

Can you talk about innovation in the pipeline? We’re in the process of working through [innovation] for 2020 and 2021. Mayochup [launched in May] is a mashup of our mayonnaise and ketchup that we’re very excited about; that was really born out of a consumer idea. And we have a lot of exciting innovation coming for 2020 that I can’t speak about yet.

What is the state of the Canadian business? What I can tell you is if you look at the first quarter of 2019, from a consumption standpoint, consumption is up 4.5%, which is phenomenal. What that’s told me is we have the right balance for the consumer. Consumers vote with their wallets. We are very committed to driving robust growth and we have aggressive plans for innovation for 2019 and beyond, and we’re investing a lot of money. And we are committed to the Canadian business. Over the last couple of years, we’ve actually moved a significant portion of our production back to Canada. Historically, it was 50%, but now it’s [about] 70% production in

Canada. We’re putting a capital investment of about $100 million over the next three years to really focus on modernizing our plant operations.

What is your outlook for the company? I think there is no more interesting time to be in the food business; I have a very positive outlook. I think the consumer is telling us they love our brands, but they want continued growth and development. I think the rise of e-commerce is also super interesting because it allows for us to interact with the customer in a different way. So, I’m very positive and very bullish on Kraft Heinz’s future here in Canada.

What’s your favourite Kraft Heinz product? I definitely have a favourite and, ironically, it’s the product that I worked on first [at Kraft Heinz]—Philadelphia Cream Cheese. I think it’s a phenomenal product. I eat it a lot. I love it for snacking, there’s nothing better. CG

LOSING LEGAL TENDER Some older bank notes will be pulled from circulation in January 2021 The government of Canada is removing legal tender status for several old bank notes. As of January 1, 2021, Canadians will no longer be able to use the $1, $2, $25, $500 and $1,000 notes in cash transactions. By

removing the notes from circulation, the feds say they are ensuring the notes used by Canadians are “current, in good condition, easy to use and hard to counterfeit.” The Bank of Canada says the notes will not lose their face value, but Canadians will need to redeem them at a financial institution or through the Bank’s Bank Note Redemption Service.

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer



Joel Gregoire

PRIMED FOR GROWTH New research shows broad support for plantbased alternatives among Canadians, but more transparency in the category may be needed WHEN BEYOND MEAT went public in the spring, the company smashed expectations. Originally valued at US$1.5 billion, as of late May the market cap exceeded US$4 billion. Wall Street clearly believes there’s a strong future in plant-based meat alternatives, and it is putting its money where its mouth is. Recently, Mintel published a report on plant-based food and drinks to get the average Canadian’s take on this burgeoning category. The first clear finding from the report is that a large number of Canadians are showing interest in plant-based foods and drinks. In fact, more than a quarter (28%) of Canadians say they are trying to add more plant-based food substitutes to their diet, with younger adults under the age of 44 most likely to hold

this attitude (34%), suggesting the market is primed for future growth. While vegans and vegetarians are often perceived to be the core market for plant-based foods, those operating in the space can think more broadly. According to Mintel’s research, just 5% of Canadians self-identify as vegetarians, and only 2% as vegans. Flexitarians, on the other hand, represent one quarter of Canadian adults. Flexitarians can be viewed as being less dogmatic when it comes to avoiding meat or dairy, choosing to eat meatless meals just some of the time. The rationale for limiting or avoiding meat or dairy products differs by diet type to some degree. Ethical considerations, for instance, prove to be more top-of-mind for vegans and vegetarians,


“Which of the following dietary preferences best describes you?” None of the above 16% Carnivore 48%

Other 2%

Pescatarian 2%

Vegan 2%


Vegetarian 5%

Flexitarian 25%



June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer

whereas flexitarians are more likely to point to health as being a primary motivation for limiting their consumption of animal-based products. To put it another way: one group of consumers (vegans and vegetarians) is more likely to be motivated by what can be interpreted as philosophical considerations, while more pragmatic concerns such as health serve as a stronger motivation for flexitarians. With the latter accounting for a greater slice of the population, it would be wise for makers of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives to focus on health-related considerations. Protein, of course, is a cornerstone for plant-based alternatives. The good news is that according to Mintel’s findings, over half of Canadians (55%) agree that “plant-based foods can provide all the protein (they) need,” with the same share of Canadians also agreeing “a healthy diet does not need to include meat” (54%). This translates to a broad base of support for growth of plant-based alternatives. That said, there are potential barriers to overcome. As demand for “natural” foods continues to pervade the food industry, many Canadians appear skeptical of what goes into making plant-based meat alternatives, with two-thirds of Canadians agreeing that “plant-based meat alternatives that mimic the taste and texture of real meat are overly-processed” (66%). This highlights the need for transparency in communicating how meat alternatives are made to provide a greater sense of comfort to consumers who are less familiar with the category. That said, the size of the opportunity means the payoff in investing in this area is likely worth it. Just look at where Wall Street is putting its money.  CG

Joel Gregoire is associate director, Food & Drink at Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency. Based in Toronto, Joel researches and writes reports on Canada’s food and drink industry. @JoelDGregoire

Meet Kracks


The New Potato Chip Contender A popular potato chip brand around the globe,“Kracks” is quickly expanding in the grocery channel in Canada. In this Q&A, we get all the details on Kracks from Ajay Handa, Business Head, Canada, Future Enterprises Pte Ltd. (a member of Food Empire Holdings Ltd., Singapore). What is the background on Kracks and what’s the brand all about? Kracks Potato Chips are the core snack product of Food Empire Holdings (Food Empire), an SGX Mainboardlisted and global food and beverage company. Established in 1982, Food Empire has a wide range of food and beverage products—including Café rite, Nutri rite Hot Chocolate and Cafepho—in more than 50 countries. In the summer of 2017, we launched the Kracks Potato Chips in Western Canada and are rapidly expanding across the country. There are currently four flavours in the lineup: Original, Sour Cream & Onion, Barbecue and Wasabi, and two new flavours are launching later this year. Kracks is the only canister chip in Canada that is Halal certified. The Kracks factory is BRC Grade A certified, the highest quality control standard in the world. What has consumer feedback in Canada been like so far? We have done more than 150 demos in Western Canada, as well as sampling at Toronto’s Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) last summer. The main feedback was that Kracks are crispier, crunchier and less oily than the national brand. Canadians are highly impressed with the flavour profile and pleased that Kracks Potato Chips are priced competitively.

Flavour Spotlight

What consumer trends are you seeing the chip category? In the highly competitive potato chip category, there is demand for high-quality, flavourful products that satisfy taste buds, as well as demand for Halal certified products. Consumers are also looking for alternatives and value for money. There are minimal alternatives in the canister chip segment compared to the “bagged” potato chip category. Kracks will be a strong contender in the canister segment and will fulfill consumers’ desire for an alternative with the quality, taste and price Kracks has to offer. We think of it like Coke versus Pepsi. Consumers want choice, and when there is healthy competition between brands, it spurs investment and invigorates the entire category. What are your marketing plans? We are investing heavily in marketing Kracks, including in-store promotions, in-store demos, social media, radio campaigns, and event sponsorship, such as the recent Desi Fest in Toronto. These efforts are designed to raise brand awareness and create excitement at retail. What’s next for Kracks? Our goal is to be the market leader in the potato chips canister segment. We can achieve this by providing Canadians with a high-quality and tasty product at a competitive price. We’re committed to ongoing investment in the brand to ensure retailers see a high sell through with healthy margins. This will lead to overall chip and snack category growth in both units and dollars.

Kracks Original: Lightly salted for that extra bit of flavour, Kracks Original is comfort food at its best. Kracks Sour Cream & Onion: combines a bolder flavour profile with Kracks’ signature golden, crispy chip. Kracks Barbecue: offers a smoky, zesty barbecue flavour, with just a hint of sweetness. Kracks Wasabi: combines the intense and wonderfully spicy taste of Japanese horseradish with the golden crispiness of Kracks Potato Chips. For more information, contact Ajay Handa at (403) 389-1724 or Visit Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–June 2019

STORE PROFILE SINCE FIRST OPENING its doors in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighbourhood two decades ago, Urban Fare has been serving up an exceptional food experience to B.C. shoppers with its unique assortment of local, organic and first-to-market foods. Now, with its sixth location (which opened in late April), the upscale banner has brought its gourmet goodness to Calgary. When determining exactly where to set up shop in Calgary, the store’s manager Todd McMullen says the community of Mount Royal and close proximity to the city’s popular 17th Avenue was the obvious choice. “17th Avenue is the place to be,” he says. “Drive down here

and it’s very vibrant and there are so many restaurants; it’s all about food and it was a natural fit for Urban Fare.” Mount Royal is also a neighbourhood brimming with historical charm, something the folks at Urban Fare took into account when creating the space. “We really wanted to make sure we integrated with the neighbourhood,” says McMullen. He describes the store’s design as a modern twist on the Queen Anne Revival architectural style found around the neighbourhood, like the Devenish, a heritage building located directly across the street. “The design of the store is definitely meant to complement the architecture of the area.” »

By Erin Lawrence Photography by Lindsay Ross

Urban Fare ventures outside of B.C. with its sixth location, establishing a premier food destination for Calgary shoppers

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June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


STORE PROFILE Once inside the sleek, modern store, located on the main floor of a new condo tower just off lively 17th Avenue at 906 16th Avenue SW, customers will see plenty of touches that reference the neighbourhood’s heritage, including the black-and-white checkerboard floors, ornate tilework, crown molding and elegant brickwork. But as striking and sophisticated as the design of the new store is, food is definitely the star of the show. A sign displayed prominently near the front of the store states Urban Fare’s mission, which is to provide “a unique food experience that is second to none”—an ambitious goal that the store works hard to deliver on. The nearly 27,000-sq.-ft. space is brimming with gourmet concepts including many not found in other Urban Fare locations, such as the banner’s first-ever wine and charcuterie bar. The concept was added to reinforce the message that the store is not only a place to shop for groceries, but it’s also a place where customers can sit back and relax with fine food and drink (in this case, local Alberta wines and beer). “We’ve brought a number of things we wanted to try out into the new Calgary

store,” says Darrell Jones, president of Save-On-Foods, the parent company of Urban Fare. Jones explains that when conceiving plans for the store, the company was inspired by Calgary’s vibrant local food scene. Another feature unique to the Calgary location is a fresh poke bar where customers can scoop up pre-made fish and veggie bowls to go, or have one made-toorder featuring sushi-grade fresh salmon, tuna (albacore or ahi) or tofu. “The poke bar is a brand-new program for us and we thought it’s a natural fit here. We’ll probably roll it out to some of our other stores as well,” says McMullen. Freshly prepared meals—either to takeaway or to eat at the dine-in area—are a big focus at the store. Led by executive chef Ryan McDonald, an in-house team serves up an array of freshly prepared options ranging from gourmet sandwiches to house-made Napoli-style pizza and Ocean Wise sushi. There’s also a large hot food section where customers can load up on prepared items, from samosas to pasta dishes to crab cakes. Customers shopping the store’s aisles will discover plenty of other specialties including fresh Wagyu beef, Beyond

“The whole concept of the store is ‘from Store manager Todd McMullen


June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer

gourmet to everyday’” Meat sausages and burgers, and prepared sous-vide meats. An old-fashioned butcher shop, an array of artisan breads and pastries and, according to the company, one of the largest cheese selections in the city are also part of the Urban Fare offer in Calgary. Sugarfina sweets are also available, as well as a full-service Starbucks. But Jones is quick to point out that although it is brimming with specialties, Urban Fare also offers all the everyday basics customers need. “The whole concept of the store is ‘from gourmet to everyday,’” he explains. “And what I mean by that is there’s gourmet food and a gourmet feel, but things like Tide laundry detergent are the same price as at any other store in Calgary. The prices in the grocery store are what you’d normally pay, but the environment is special.” While the company is making an investment in some new concepts at the Calgary Urban Fare, it’s also making a strong investment in the city as a whole. Urban Fare’s debut comes on the heels

of two Save-On-Foods store openings in Calgary in just the last few months, all as the city struggles to find its identity in an economy that still hasn’t fully recovered from the oil and gas downturn. “We see Calgary as a city with a bright future,” reveals Jones. “The time to invest is when times are tough. When things start to take off again, you’re already well established. It’s been a good opportunity for us to get great locations. We’ve been eyeing this location in Mount Royal for about five or six years.” Customers, too, seem bullish on Urban Fare. The store opened at the end of April and response in the weeks immediately following the opening has been so strong, more employees were hired, and Jones says sales have been better than the company anticipated. “Urban Fare is a unique banner that needs a specific neighbourhood. You have to have high density and an income level that works,” says Jones. “We will open more Urban Fares, but we need to find the right locations for them.”  CG June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Congratulations to all of this year’s 2019 Star Women

2019 Star Women in Grocery

SHINING STARS Introducing our Star Women in Grocery winners of 2019 By Rebecca Harris and Carol Neshevich SOME HAVE GROWN UP in the grocery business, others have come to it following successful careers in other sectors. Some come from big companies, some from small ones, but all of our 2019 Star Women in Grocery winners are contributing and shaping the industry in their own unique way.

In its eighth year, Canadian Grocer’s Star Women in Grocery Awards recognize exceptional women in the industry who demonstrate influence, innovation and leadership. From retailers to association and CPG professionals, this year’s winners, chosen by Canadian Grocer editors, represent all parts of the industry and have been nominated by industry colleagues across three categories: store level stars, rising stars and senior level stars. Turn the page to meet this year’s 29 winners. June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Agropur is proud to recognize

Sophie Ruel

for her leadership, passion and commitment to the grocery industry. A driven and strategic leader, Sophie is helping Agropur be the dairy partner of choice in Canada.

Sophie Ruel, Vice President Commercial Strategies at Agropur

Better Dairy. Better World.

2019 Star Women in Grocery

Metro Ontario

With 31 years at Metro under her belt, Norma Boyle has worked her way through a diverse variety of roles: parttime cashier, assistant store manager, front-end specialist, franchise accountant, store manager, and even director of retail execution, with impressive results in every role. But in 2017, she had the opportunity to become a district manager and jumped at the chance. “I always wanted to be a district manager, because of my love for the store; as a district manager, that love gets magnified by 21 stores,” she says, explaining she now manages the Southwestern Ontario area, which encompasses 21 stores from St. Catharines to Windsor. Under Boyle’s leadership, her London, Ont. stores earned Metro the title of No. 1 grocery retailer voted by the readers of the London Free Press last year—a position that had been held by the competition for the previous five years. She’s known at Metro for encouraging strong community and charitable involvement in all her stores, as well as going above and beyond to foster excellence in customer service. “For me, it’s all about listening to the customer.”

her career in consulting at Secor, with Sobeys as a client. She left Secor for an HR role at the grocery chain, and soon decided she was interested in making a shift to operations. But never having worked in a store before, she lacked the in-store knowledge that could help her succeed in operations. She credits Sobeys for taking a “gamble” on her, letting her leave HR to work in-store for a year, doing everything from making sandwiches to working the cash at an IGA before trying a manager role at a Rachelle Béry store (Sobeys’ health-­ focused banner in Quebec). The training paid off and, in 2016, she became director of retail operations for the entire Rachelle Béry banner (she now also oversees operations for the corporate-owned IGA stores in Quebec, too). She’s achieved numerous successes, notably leading the development of a new Rachelle Béry concept store in Montreal last year, which has more than doubled on its sales targets since opening. “That is one of the [achievements] I am most proud of.”


Amy Fox hadn’t even finished her exams in her final year at university when she got hired on full time at Kimberly-Clark. Thirteen years later, she’s worked her way up from account manager to her current role, director of customer development. A turning point in her career occurred, she says, when she was put into a customer replenishment analyst role and Loblaw gave her some inventory-related challenges that, she admits, scared her at first. But the team at Loblaw was so impressed with what she brought back, they asked her to work at their head office as a dedicated customer replenishment manager. “It was a great learning experience—taking something that scares you and turning it into something of great value.” She’s since created winning joint business plans, won multiple awards from Kimberly-Clark and customers, and takes great pride in what she’s achieved in her current role. “We’ve had some exceptional results—we’ve grown market share in 80% of our categories—but I think more than that, we’ve figured out a wonderful way to work together internally and with our customers,” she says.

Rising stars

NORMA BOYLE District manager, Southwest Ontario

GENEVIÈVE DUGRÉ Director of retail operations, Rachelle Béry and IGA AMY corporate stores FOX Sobeys Director, customer Geneviève Dugré has been working for Sobeys since 2013, but she’s been working development with Sobeys for much longer—she started

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Congratulations to all winners of the

2019 STAR WOMEN in Grocery Award

Kruger Products is a proud sponsor of the annual Star Women in Grocery Awards

® Registered trademarks of Kruger Products L.P. © 2019 Kruger Products L.P. ®’ Used under licence.

2019 Star Women in Grocery

TANJA FRASER Director of sales UNFI

KELLY HERDIN Food marketing manager

Federated Co-operatives Ltd. Over the past 10 years, Kelly Herdin has steadily progressed through the ranks at Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL). She started in 2009 as a university co-op student and was hired full time, as a food operations specialist, in 2011. Herdin then took on positions as research associate and consumer insights business analyst, where she helped FCL’s food department become fully data-driven. In 2015, Herdin was promoted to food marketing manager and has been instrumental in the development and execution of FCL’s local marketing initiatives, including Alberta Beef, Made By Us and Canadian Made campaigns. She was also a key driver in Co-op’s partnership with chef Dale MacKay, including tying Co-op to his 2018 appearance on Iron Chef Gauntlet. Most recently, Herdin spearheaded the launch of Co-op Table, a new in-store magazine featuring recipes, tips and culinary inspiration. “What I’m most proud of is my team,” says Herdin. “There is no mountain you can climb alone and I get to work with a great team that has passion for what they do every day.”

Rising stars

While she is a nutritionist by training, Tanja Fraser has had a steady climb up the ladder in the sales world. “When I realized the impact I could have by bringing natural foods to the masses, rather than helping people one at a time, it completely changed my perspective on what I can achieve,” she says. In 2007, Fraser joined SunOpta, a natural and organic food distributor, as a sales rep. In 2010, the company was acquired by United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) and Fraser went on to hold progressively senior sales roles, with responsibility for major retailers including Whole Foods Market, Walmart and Sobeys. In addition to growing the UNFI business at brick-andmortar stores, Fraser has grown UNFI’s e-commerce business by more than 300% over the past two years. “Going from the ground up in my career has been extremely fulfilling and rewarding,” says Fraser. “I think it’s proof that if you have good leadership behind you, and if you put in the hard work and determination toward your goals, you will be rewarded.”

CAROLYN HUNGATE Marketing manager and category team lead The Clorox Company

Carolyn Hungate has proven that doing good is good for business. She transformed Brita into a purpose-led brand with the goal of eliminating single-use plastic water bottles that could end up in landfills and waterways. To raise awareness about this issue, she oversaw the creation of a 12-ft.-high art installation in Toronto’s Union Station that was a replica of Niagara Falls made of 900 plastic water bottles. The idea was to highlight that one Brita Longlast filter can replace up to 900 single-use plastic bottles. When Hungate led Burt’s Bees, she tripled the size of the business and launched the brand’s natural cosmetics line. Hungate recently assumed additional responsibility for the company’s cleaning business, with brands such as Clorox, Pine-Sol and Green Works. What inspires her to succeed is the culture at Clorox. “One of the foundations of our culture is ‘do the right thing’ and that translates into the daily decisions that are made,” she says. “Everyone here feels very passionately about our brands and the Clorox mission to ‘make everyday life better, every day for Canadians.’”

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer



ROSA CHECCHIA on winning a Star Women Award from the team at Parmalat.

Delivering Dairy Goodness, every time. All trademarks owned or used under license by Parmalat Canada, Toronto, ON M9C 5J1. Š Parmalat Canada, 2019. All rights reserved

now available!

siggi’s icelandic skyr yogourts are made with less sugar, real fruit and 100% Canadian milk

like us! (we certainly like you)

*Trademarks owned or used under license by Parmalat Canada, Toronto, ON M9C 5J1.

Our mission is to transform the world of food. We’re proud of our very own Tanja Fraser for her contributions to transforming the grocery industry.

Congratulations Tanja and all of the 2019 Star Women in Grocery Winners!

2019 Star Women in Grocery

VALÉRIE MERCIER Director of sales A. Lassonde

Pusateri’s Fine Foods

A Cambridge University grad and U.K. native, Linda Irvine held various operational and analytics roles at retailers Tesco and Marks & Spencer before moving to Toronto two years ago. She joined Pusateri’s in January 2017 as manager, merchandising operations and analytics and was promoted to senior manager, supply chain and operations development this past March. By continuously generating new ideas to innovate, Irvine has helped take the independent grocer to the next level. Among her achievements: reducing waste and shrink at the company by up to 40%; being a lead member in the planning and launch of Pusateri’s e-commerce platform; helping automate processes for merchandising; and leading demo programs for vendors, which is generating huge volumes of sales. Irvine also created an optimized ordering process that uses better analytics to more precisely match demand and reduce waste. “What I’m really proud of is being a bridge between the technical data world and the people world,” she says. “I have the technical skills, but I can talk to people and communicate those ideas in a very simple way.”

CATHY ROUFOSSE Regional director Save-On-Foods

Cathy Roufosse started her career with Save-On-Foods 36 years ago. Working across multiple stores and banners, Roufosse has nearly every store role on her resumé, from cashier to supervisor to store manager. From July 2018 to January 2019, Roufosse was a valuable part of the Save-On-Foods’ people team, using her expertise as a store operator to help tackle challenges in recruitment and retention at store level. In February 2019, Roufosse was promoted to regional director for Save-OnFoods B.C., becoming the second woman ever to hold a regional director role with the company. Roufosse received the 2018 Anne Kidd Inspire Award, which recognizes one woman at Save-On-Foods who exemplifies the traits of the company’s only woman president, including influence, communication, dedication and leadership. “No matter what role I’ve been in, I’ve always been passionate about coaching, mentoring and training,” says Roufosse. “It’s really important for me to build relationships with my team and I love helping people within the company succeed and grow.”

Rising stars

LINDA IRVINE Senior manager, supply chain and operations development

Starting out at Lassonde in 2000, Valérie Mercier has achieved a lot during her nearly two decades with the company. She was director of marketing from 2006 until 2015, during which time she played a key role in launching the Oasis juice brand outside of Quebec “and building it as a truly national brand.” She made the shift to sales director three and a half years ago, and says, “I’m pleased to say that [in that time period] I successfully grew the business year-overyear and exceeded sales targets.” Known for being highly adaptable and solution-oriented, Mercier loves the ever-evolving nature of the business. “There are many challenges in the beverage industry these days—we’re always working hard to find items that are going to address the new consumer needs, like juice with less sugar, for example, or beverage solutions with more plant protein. Things are evolving very quickly, and it’s just so interesting to be following the trends and developing innovations.”

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Longo’s would like to recognize

Tressa Scorziello for her influence, innovation, dedication and leadership in the grocery industry.

Congratulations on your 2019 Star Women Award!

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The trademarks that appear are the property of their respective trademark owners.

2019 Star Women in Grocery

SOFIA THOMPSON Customer business lead

TRESSA SCORZIELLO Acting director, grocery, dairy, frozen Longo Brothers Fruit Markets

AMANDA SZTANEK Director of sales Greenhouse

A registered dietitian, Amanda Sztanek got her start in the grocery business in 2011. She joined Sobeys as an in-store wellbeing counsellor and worked her way up to national merchandising manager for health and wellness. At Sobeys, Sztanek led the launch of the Natural Source store-within-a-store concept nationally. In 2016, she joined Pinnacle Foods (now part of Conagra Brands), where she managed the doubledigit growth of Gardein, a plant-based meat alternative brand. Now, just one year into her role as director of sales at Greenhouse, Sztanek has brought the startup coldpressed juice brand into 250 retail stores in Ontario and Quebec and landed the company’s first national grocery retail deal with Sobeys. By year’s end, Greenhouse will be in approximately 1,000 grocery stores, including chains and independents. “Plant-based nutrition aligns with my own values,” says Sztanek. “I’m committed to working with my similarly passionate team and supportive partners so that we can continue to drive growth and awareness in such an innovative, rapidly growing space.”

Rising stars

Back in the 1980s, Tressa Scorziello’s dad owned a No Frills store in Toronto. At age 14, she started as a cashier and worked her way up to customer service manager. In 2008, she moved on to Loblaw, where she held various roles including analyst, assistant category manager, and pricing and promotion manager. At Loblaw, she was on the committee that launched President Choice’s Black Label, helping to source products and do analysis and costing. In 2016, Scorziello joined Longo’s as a category manager, and was promoted to acting director, grocery, dairy, frozen in January 2019. With a passion for healthier products, Scorziello eliminated all oil-based frozen desserts at Longo’s, opting to only carry milk-based products. She also helped launch Longo’s Living Well section last year. In her three years at Longo’s, Scorziello has made a big impact with vendor relationships. “I try to come up with solutions that are mutually beneficial because a short-term win is short term,” she says. “If we come up with longer-term solutions, it’s a win-win.”

Kraft Heinz Canada

Sofia Thompson joined Kraft 32 years ago, having been recruited on campus. “At the time, there were very few women” in food industry sales, she explains, especially in rural Southern Alberta. “They were hesitant on how a female would handle the territory. But with a drive for results, attitude and perseverance, I built their confidence—not only for myself, but I like to think for those who would follow as well.” She moved from sales rep to senior account manager in Alberta, followed by a move to British Columbia where she worked her way up through various senior sales positions to her current role as customer business lead. Since the merger four years ago, she’s managed to grow Kraft Heinz sales in her market during a time of continual change. She has received a number of internal Kraft Heinz awards, and was a key part of the team receiving the UGI Vendor of the Year award in 2016. While Thompson is proud of all her accomplishments, it’s her success in mentoring future leaders that makes her most proud. “That has been my greatest achievement,” she says.

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


We are proud to celebrate and recognize our Star Women! Stephanie Harnock Store Manager, Columbia Sobeys, ON Store-Level Star Starting as a cashier in 1999, Stephanie Harnock knew her career would be in grocery. She is determined and focused on continuously creating the best in-store conditions, store performance and customer loyalty. In 2018, Stephanie won the Ontario Sobeys Store and Leader of the Year Award for top operational excellence. Stephanie has a strong passion for developing future grocery leaders, and has mentored countless store employees to support their growth.

Heather Savidant Store Manager, Montague Sobeys, PEI Store-Level Star After 20 years in the grocery industry, Heather Savidant’s passion for her business and community is as strong as ever. Heather goes above and beyond for customers every day, regularly introducing innovative store offers and providing services they rate as “world-class”. She is committed to helping her team grow by providing leadership opportunities and also avidly supports a number of local community initiatives to help make a difference.

Geneviève Dugré Director, Retail Operations Rising Star In a very short time, Geneviève Dugré has noticeably strengthened the growth, performance, and reputation of the Rachelle-Béry and IGA banners in Quebec. She’s a natural at seeing market potential and mobilizing resources to implement exciting new programs, with a keen focus on healthy and sustainable options. Her strategic mindset, sharp analytical skills, and passion for people development make Geneviève an inspiring female leader and mentor in retail operations.

Jana Sobey Vice President, Merchandising, Thrifty Foods, Community & Field Senior-Level Star A fourth-generation member of the Sobey family and the first woman in her family to become a Vice President in grocery, Jana Sobey is a multi-talented business professional who plays to win. She demonstrates visionary strength and champions innovation to deliver exceptional shopping experiences for customers. Jana actively leads her team to deepen Sobeys’ partnerships with local growers and producers, ensuring the products that make Canada great are on our store shelves.

Congratulations and thank you to Stephanie, Heather, Geneviève and Jana from our team of more than 125,000 employees across Canada! We are so proud of your dedication to innovation and leadership at Sobeys Inc. and in the Canadian grocery retail industry.

2019 Star Women in Grocery

MICHELLE BENOIT Vice-president, commercial finance Walmart Canada

Loblaw Companies Ltd.

Melanie Agopian joined Loblaw as a project manager in 2006, and quickly worked her way up to her current position as vice-president, divisional programs & strategy, discount division. “My career has been grounded in strategy, critical thinking and large-scale program management,” she says. One of her greatest impacts at Loblaw—and one of the things she’s most proud of—is the work she’s done for the chain’s sustainability initiatives, “including our sustainable seafood commitment and the removal of chemicals of concern from various products,” says Agopian. “I’m also really proud of having run a significant portfolio of fresh businesses for our discount division during a time when we were changing our approach and strategy.” And on a more personal level, she takes pride in mentoring others at Loblaw as a way to “pay it forward” for all the mentorship she’s received in her career. “It’s amazing to see team members grow and progress in achieving their full potential.”

DIANE J. BRISEBOIS President and CEO Retail Council of Canada

“As long as I can remember, even as a young student, I was somehow connected to retail,” says Diane J. Brisebois, recalling that one of her first part-time jobs was at Eaton’s in downtown Montreal. Today, as president and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada—a role she’s held for 24 years— she takes great pride in “being able to bring a growing number of retailers of all sizes and shapes, from every region of the country, together to build a strong voice for the industry.” Brisebois is known for being a determined, driven and passionate advocate for retailers. And one of the things she loves most about her job is the constant change. “There’s always something new, something unexpected, something disruptive,” she says, noting that working on behalf of retailers is the best job there is. “Yes, you have to work hard and yes, there are high expectations, but you are highly rewarded by the feedback you get, and by the passion that the industry shows toward the effort that you make for them.”

Senior level stars

MELANIE AGOPIAN Vice-president, divisional programs & strategy, discount division

Michelle Benoit’s tremendous impact on the grocery business can be summed up with one figure: $100 million. That’s how much the industry veteran has extracted in waste at various companies she’s worked for, through process improvements and improved commercial flow. A Halifax native, Benoit began her grocery career at Loblaw in 1998, when the company expanded in Atlantic Canada. Three years later, she moved on to Nestlé and held various roles in finance and supply chain. In 2013, she rejoined the retail world as vice-president of finance for Sobeys Ontario and later vice-president of financial planning & analysis, Atlantic & Ontario business units. Last July, she joined Walmart Canada as vice-president of commercial finance. Benoit feels strongly about the role finance can play in the future of the grocery industry. “I firmly believe finance has the ability to contribute to this industry as a business co-pilot and make a significant difference to retailers,” she says.

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Congratulations to all 2019 Star Women in Grocery award winners.

Congratulations, Sofia! On your Star Women in Grocery Award

If ever there was a star in the Canadian grocery industry it is you! Thank you for your legacy of leadership, commitment to the customer and drive for results. You are an exceptional role model for all and the entire Kraft Heinz family is extremely proud of this significant achievement!

As a founding sponsor of the Star Women in Grocery Awards, Kraft Heinz congratulates all recipients on this outstanding achievement.

is proud to recognize

NORMA BOYLE and ANNA KOLAKOWSKI for their leadership, innovation, dedication and contribution to the grocery industry. Congratulations to all winners of Canadian Grocers’ 2019 Star Women in Grocery Award!

Norma Boyle

District Manager, Conventional Store Operations, West Division – Metro Ontario

Anna Kolakowski Vice President, Merchandising, Grocery – Super C

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Thank you for your leadership, passion, dedication and outstanding contributions to Freybe Gourmet Foods and the entire grocery industry. Congratulations to all the winners of the 2019 Star Women in Grocery Award!

2019 Star Women in Grocery

MICHI FURUYA CHANG Senior vicepresident, public policy and regulatory affairs Food and Consumer Products of Canada

Parmalat Canada

Rosa Checchia began working for Parmalat as a summer student 24 years ago. Now, she’s an expert brand builder whose portfolio generates more than $750 million in sales and drives nearly a third of the company’s total profit. After graduating from university in 1997, Checchia took a fulltime role in trade marketing at Parmalat and quickly moved into marketing. She worked across all dairy categories and was promoted to vice-president in 2012. As vice-president of marketing for cheese, Checchia’s portfolio includes dairy-case cheese and tablespreads, as well as deli fine cheese. One of her proudest achievements is being an integral part of the success of the 20-year-old Cheestrings brand, a Canadian innovation that has been rolled out throughout the world. Checchia is an avid supporter of youth initiatives including Healthy Active Living and the annual Kids Help Phone Walk. She is also on the committee for The Grocery Foundation’s Toonies for Tummies campaign. “I am fortunate in my life and I want to give back so others can have opportunities to realize their full potential.”

Senior level stars

After working in grocery (Sobeys) and the CPG industry (Kraft) for a combined total of nearly two decades, Michi Furuya Chang joined Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) in 2016 as senior vice-president, public policy and regulatory affairs. Here, she gets to build on her corporate achievements to help the food industry as a whole. “Being that strategic enabler, not just for one company but for the industry overall, has been extremely rewarding and satisfying,” she says, adding, “We’ve made some great strides in a lot of public policy and regulatory areas.” Much of her FCPC work has focused on Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy: ensuring Canada’s policy/regulatory proposals on front-of-package labelling, marketing to children, sodium reduction and ongoing revisions to Canada’s Food Guide are balanced, meaningful and sciencebased. As a foodie and dietitian who holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition, she’s grateful to work in a role that pulls together all of her passions: not only food, nutrition and science, but also “being able to contribute and have an impact.”

ROSA CHECCHIA Vice-president, marketing, cheese

ANGELA DORO Vice-president of operations Freybe Gourmet Foods

Since joining Freybe in 2007, Angela Doro has played an integral role in how the company’s organizational structure has shaped up as it’s grown from a small, family-run business to a much larger organization (owned by Premium Brands since 2013). As vice-president of operations, a variety of departments—not only operations, but also supply chain, product development, quality assurance, innovation, marketing and customer service—all now report to her. With marketing under her portfolio for only the past year and a half, she’s particularly proud of the role she played in the recent launch of Freybe’s first sub-brand, Freybe Wander, a line of innovative meat snacks including ham chips, chicken meat bites and mini salami sticks. Known for her supportive, motivating and team-oriented leadership style, Doro says she emphasizes being prepared for the constant disruption inevitable in today’s food industry. “Embracing and being strategic about change and how the world is evolving, and coaching the team to prepare for that in a pretty traditional industry, is a big part of my style.”

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Lassonde is proud to recognize Valerie Mercier for her professionalism, innovation skills and commitment to the grocery industry. Congratulations Valerie!

Valerie Mercier Director of Sales A. Lassonde Inc.

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2019 Star Women in Grocery Award.


Carolyn Hungate! Category Team Lead, The Clorox Company


2019 Star Women in Grocery

ANNA KOLAKOWSKI Vice-president, merchandising, grocery for Super C Metro Richelieu Inc.


One of Heidi Ferriman’s biggest achievements has been spearheading an inter-­ departmental team to create Share it Forward, a three-day fundraising event, to raise funds for food banks across Western Canada. The inaugural event, which took place in June 2018, reached its goal of $250,000. Over the years, Ferriman has also built and maintained strong philanthropic partnerships with children’s hospitals throughout Western Canada, as well as Ronald McDonald House. As a certified HR professional, Ferriman provides genuine support and mentorship to her team, which has resulted in some of the highest departmental leadership scores in the company in its annual team member survey. What Ferriman is most proud of, however, are the relationships she’s made throughout her 19 years at the company. “Relationship building is incredibly important to me,” she says. “No matter how busy I am, I’m never too busy to take the time to get to know the people I work with and show them they are valued. People are what make companies successful.”

TARA LONGO Co-founder

The Healthy Butcher Tara Longo was an investment banker on Bay Street and her partner, Mario Fiorucci, was a lawyer—but they gave all that up 14 years ago to open Toronto’s The Healthy Butcher, a store focusing on healthy, highquality meats along with organic produce, sustainable seafood, curated grocery items and more. After opening their first store in 2005, they opened another in 2008 and launched their online business in 2011. “It’s been a steady stream of growth since then,” says Longo. Year-over-year sales were up in the original Queen West store by 18.3%, and in the Eglinton West store by 13.1% in the last year. Longo has also become known for helping small food producers succeed through initiatives like her engaging YouTube videos. One of the best parts about her job, she says, is just being out grabbing a coffee and overhearing a complete stranger tell a friend about something great they bought at The Healthy Butcher. “That makes me smile every time.” (Toronto’s Fresh City acquired The Healthy Butcher at the end of May, with Longo and Fiorucci joining Fresh City’s senior management team.)

Senior level stars

HEIDI FERRIMAN Vice-president, people & communications

Anna Kolakowski joined Metro in 2001 as a category manager for the Loeb banner in Ontario, and quickly worked her way up through procurement and merchandising roles to her current position as vice-president, merchandising, grocery for the Super C banner (Metro’s discount banner in Quebec) which she took on in 2018. Her standout successes over the years are numerous: she played a key role in the implementation of Metro’s loyalty program in Quebec, Metro & Moi; and in 2016 she led a team of category insights managers called the “Maverick team,” whose objective was to create an enhanced customer shopping experience using customer data—a project so successful it’s been rolled out to other divisions within Metro. Overall, she’s known at the company for fostering successful teams by emphasizing the importance of clear communication. “I believe it’s very important as a leader to be clear in our communications as to our objectives: why we’re trying to achieve certain objectives, and how we think we’re going to get there,” she says.

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


CONGRATULATIONS Co-op is proud to recognize two members of its team for outstanding contributions in the grocery industry. Congratulations to all 2019 Star Women in Grocery.

Cindy Waytiuk Store Manager, St. Vital Red River Co-op With over 25 years’ experience in the grocery industry, Cindy Waytiuk not only leads, but she inspires. In addition to the rapport she has built with her team and store, she leads our We Care Crew, showing her genuine connection with our community.

Kelly Herdin Food Marketing Manager Federated Co-operatives Limited A Generation Next Award recipient in 2014, Kelly Herdin continues to demonstrate passion and excellence in guiding initiatives that benefit local co-ops across Western Canada.

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


2019 Star Women in Grocery

FRAN MULHERN Vice-president and general manager The Minute Maid Company Canada

SOPHIE RUEL Vice-president commercial strategies Agropur

A 22-year CPG veteran, Sophie Ruel has built a solid reputation for developing high-­performing teams, shaping strategies and integrating best practices into business processes. Ruel started out as a sales rep at Heinz, and moved up to roles in sales, customer and consumer insights and strategies at Heinz, Colgate-Palmolive and Campbell Company of Canada. In 2016, she joined Ultima Foods, which was acquired by Agropur in 2017. She held various management positions in insights and strategies at Ultima and Agropur for two years before being promoted to vice-president commercial strategies in September 2018. Ruel developed a robust business alignment process that encompasses Agropur’s key commercial departments, generating cross-functional alignment, efficiency, cost savings and increased profitable sales. She was also instrumental in transforming the sales function into being more strategic and consultative. “My role is to empower my team and support them by providing the right tools, the right direction and the right expectations to set them up for success,” says Ruel.

Senior level stars

Fran Mulhern has had countless wins in her 30+ year career in CPG, but one of her proudest achievements is becoming the first woman to lead Coca Cola’s central field sales team, which kick-started her role as a mentor to women. “There were a lot of pre-conceived notions about working in field sales for a DSD company, and it was very male-dominated,” says Mulhern, who’s been in various roles at Coca-Cola for the past 20 years. “It was an opportunity for me to break down barriers as to why women couldn’t be successful, and recruit them into believing they could have a career within field sales.” In 2015, Mulhern led the re-­establishment of The Minute Maid Company, forming a standalone, end-to-end business within Coca-Cola. Since then, she has accelerated innovation in the juice portfolio and expanded into new categories such as dairy and plantbased offerings. Another proud moment for Mulhern was Minute Maid’s 2018 Canadian launch of Fairlife, Coca-­Cola’s first dairy brand. The innovative product is lactose free, with 50% less sugar and 50% more protein than other milks.

JANA SOBEY Vice-president of merchandising, community, Thrifty Foods and field Sobeys

As a fourth-generation member of the Sobeys grocery family, Jana Sobey has been immersed in the grocery world for as long as she can remember. “I started as a cashier at the age of 14, which, at that time, was where you started in my family,” she says. Over the years, she’s worked in practically every facet of the business, from marketing to store management to HR to operations. As part of Project Sunrise, the company’s ambitious organizational transformation, she was made vice-president of field merchandising; and just this spring her role broadened to vice-president of merchandising, community, Thrifty Foods and field. She says her proudest career moments include overseeing the chain’s 100th anniversary festivities in 2007, becoming a store manager for the first time, and getting her first vice-president role in 2016. “The grocery industry is a pretty special one, indeed,” says Sobey, who is known for her friendly, genuine, and calm-yet-confident leadership style.

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Congratulations to Heidi Ferriman and Cathy Roufosse for their outstanding leadership, commitment and contribution to Save-On-Foods and the entire grocery industry. Congratulations to all of the 2019 Star Women in Grocery Award winners.

is proud to recognize Amy Fox for her

leadership, dedication and innovation to the grocery industry



Store level stars

2019 Star Women in Grocery

STEPHANIE HARNOCK Store manager Sobeys

RATANA STEPHENS Co-CEO Nature’s Path Foods

Senior level stars

Ratana Stephens is a visionary and pioneer in the natural and organic foods industry. She began her career as a college lecturer in India and moved to Vancouver after marrying her husband, Arran Stephens, who is co-founder and co-CEO of Nature’s Path. Nature’s Path, which grew out of the couple’s vegetarian restaurant, was founded in 1985. Today, the family-owned company has more than 150 products in its portfolio. In 2012, it acquired Que Pasa Mexican Foods. Aside from being trailblazers in the organic space, the Stephens are known for their philanthropic efforts. Nature’s Path has donated more than $27-million worth of food to food banks and charities across North America. Arran and Ratana have personally donated millions of dollars to organizations including the Vancouver General Hospital, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at the University of British Columbia. “I am so grateful that I am co-founder and co-CEO of a company that lives out its values,” says Ratana. “Nature’s Path operates on the triple-bottom line of social responsibility, environmental sustainability and financial viability.”

While doing a high school co-op placement in accounting, Stephanie Harnock realized she wasn’t a “sit at a desk in a cubicle” kind of person. “In grocery, I enjoy every day being different and I love the people and interaction,” she says. Harnock started at Sobeys as a cashier in 1999, and after graduating from college she became front-end manager. She climbed the management ranks and in 2015, Harnock was promoted to store manager of the Sobeys Fischer-Hallman store in Kitchener, Ont., where she propelled the store’s success, achieving significant sales increases year-over-year. In 2018, her store received Store of the Year (Central District) and Store Leader of the Year Award in Ontario. She was recently transferred to the Sobeys Columbia store in Waterloo, Ont. For Harnock, developing future leaders in grocery is paramount. “I’m very passionate about developing and empowering staff,” says Harnock, who also rallies her staff to support fundraisers for various charities and food banks.

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Congratulations to Linda Irvine on being chosen a 2019 Star Women Award Winner!

CONGRATULATIONS Michi Furuya Chang Your dedication to Canadians and the grocery industry have helped shape a healthy and dynamic food environment for all. Congratulations to all of the 2019 Star Women in Grocery Award winners.

2019 Star Women in Grocery

HEATHER SAVIDANT Store manager Sobeys


When Colemans was looking for a manager for its new store in the east end of St. John’s, N.L., in 2017, it was an admittedly unusual move for them to hire Bethany Roberts. She’s an MBA grad with more than a decade of impressive retail industry experience (most notably with The Gap and David’s Tea) but she had never actually worked in grocery. The folks at Colemans saw something special in the Newfoundlander, however, who had returned “home” after years of working in Montreal, ready to put down roots. Since the new Colemans location was in close proximity to a number of successful competitors, it was crucial to get it right. They decided to go with a “fresh market” style concept for the store, which the chain had never done before. Roberts took on the challenge with enthusiasm and skill, and the results have been fantastic. “The number of testimonials that we get from our amazing customers writing to our head office talking about the positive experiences they have with our team members— above and beyond anything else, that’s been huge,” she says.

CINDY WAYTIUK Store manager Red River Co-op

Cindy Waytiuk isn’t just the leader of her store—she’s a leader in the community. In 2018, she led a fundraiser for a local homeless shelter. Across six Red River Co-op stores, staff and customers donated more than 27,000 pairs of socks. Waytiuk also runs a Red River Co-op group called We Care Crew, which volunteers for a number of local organizations. To have some fun in the community, she spearheaded a “Brews and Bites” event, teaming up with a local brewery. On the business side, Waytiuk’s store has achieved double-digit sales increases and double-digit basket growth for two straight years. Waytiuk is a mentor to her staff and has put numerous employees through Co-op’s management training program. “I want to help others see this business as a profession, not just a side job,” she says. “I’ve reached my goal of being a store manager, but there is a lot more opportunity for me in the future.”  CG

Store level stars


Heather Savidant credits that she’s a “people person” for her success at Sobeys over the past 25 years. She started out as a cashier, working part time when her three kids were young, but it was when she became a deli manager that her leadership skills really began to shine. “As a deli manager, my team led us to being No. 1 in Atlantic Canada for sales many times,” she says. “That opened up doors for other opportunities for me within Sobeys.” Last year, she was promoted to store manager in Montague, P.E.I., where she’s earned praise for building strong customer relationships and re-energizing the store with innovative offerings. Among other things, she introduced value-added hot meals in the deli section, added an in-store seating area, and developed a program for product demos and sampling—all of which led to year-over-year sales for the small location growing by more than 3%. “I really can’t wait to see what else we can do.”

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Congratulations to all

2019 Star Women Award Winners from

Diversity and inclusion drive our disruptive food innovation, collaborative culture and energized team. We call it the Conagra Experience.


GROCERY DELIVERY By Danny Kucharsky Illustration by Gary Neill

With online grocery shopping gaining momentum, the stakes are high for retailers to get home delivery right CONQUERING THE LAST MILE June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


With the desire for convenience growing among millennials and gen-Zers, the number of Canadians ordering their groceries online has nowhere to go but up, say experts. “You’re seeing more retailers going after our money online rather than waiting for foot traffic to show,” says Sylvain Charlebois, professor of food distribution and policy and senior director of the Agrifood Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax. While grocers used to believe e-commerce would cannibalize their sales, he says, “I don’t think that’s the case anymore.” Indeed, e-commerce is increasingly important for traditional brick-and-mortar grocers, given that the majority of the growth in grocery spending is originating online, notes David Bishop, partner at strategic advisory firm Brick Meets Click in Barrington, Ill. About 40% of U.S. households buy at least some


June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer

of their groceries online, he says. And he expects e-commerce will account for 6.3% of U.S. grocers’ sales this year, compared with 5.5% in 2018, and could reach 8% to 9% in a few years’ time. On this side of the border, Charlebois estimates the food retail market to be worth about $120 billion, reasoning that if online sales in this country reached a similar percentage of total sales as those in the U.S., they would represent sales of $7.6 billion. That said, while old-fashioned home delivery has been a presence in Canada for decades, Canadians have been slower off the mark ordering groceries online for delivery. But this is changing. While online grocery orders represent about 2% of sales in Canada, those numbers are growing, says Charlebois. For example, the statistics portal Statista forecasts 9.1% e-commerce sales growth in Canada this year. “I can see Canada catching up to the U.S. in a few

GROCERY DELIVERY years in online shopping and delivery,” says Toronto-­ based retail expert Bruce Winder. “We seem to be behind the trend in terms of what’s happening in retail, but we do catch up.” Avril, Quebec’s largest organic grocer with eight stores, is just one Canadian grocer planning to up its online game. Online sales currently represent 1.5% of overall sales at Avril, but the grocer is in the process of putting a digital strategy in place, says co-owner Rolland Tanguay. “We’re going to work harder on it.” While the sales of supplements and dry goods currently dominate online sales, fresh produce will likely be added to Avril’s mix in the next few years, Tanguay says. Although grocers in Canada have been slow to adopt e-commerce, technology is improving, more people are using apps, and the online buying habit is increasing in predominance among Canadians, Charlebois says. “More people are saying ‘Why am I going to the grocery store?’” What’s more, the reluctance to having someone else choose your tomatoes and cucumbers is disappearing. Winder says online grocery sales will be propelled by the millennial and generation Z demographics, which are “incredibly comfortable with buying everything online and avoiding the store because they’re time-starved and into experiences.” Research of nearly 30 U.S. retail banners has found that average online grocery orders are significantly larger than average in-store transactions, Bishop says. It’s not uncommon to see online orders of more than $100, partly because retailers require minimum purchases of $35 or charge for deliveries under $100. Charlebois believes consumers prefer home delivery to the click-and-collect approach, which “is not overly-convenient for consumers.” While Loblaw is aggressively pushing its click-and-collect approach —widely available through its PC Express service— Charlebois believes the grocer, which has already teamed up with Instacart to handle home delivery in some markets, will increase its focus on home delivery and will leverage its successful PC Optimum loyalty program to do so. The challenge grocers face with home delivery, says Charlebois, is in trying to make money while moving product from point A to B without asking consumers to pay more. The problem, he says, is that “consumers do not want to pay for delivery.” Grocers may try to boost sales online by providing different product offerings on their e-commerce websites and apps than is available in store. “If they’re smart, grocers will actually make you work to get to certain products,” says Charlebois. “I suspect at some point bargains won’t be as plentiful online as in the store. It’s the cost of convenience. We can’t get everything for free.” To make money online—and for consumers to continue to believe they’re getting good deals— grocers will need more than intuition, says Charlebois. “You need analytics, you need some AI

(artificial intelligence)—it’s what Amazon is doing. It boils down to empowering data as much as possible, which is not something that grocers [have been] very good at for the longest time, but are getting better at.” Charlebois says Sobeys’ decision to partner with U.K. online grocery retailer Ocado Group to handle online ordering, fulfillment automation and delivery makes sense. “Sobeys is designing a program based on what consumers are looking for. Ocado has been successful in the U.K. and it was smart for Sobeys to recognize it didn’t have the expertise to focus on e-commerce and delivery.” In May, Sobeys unveiled Voilà, its new online grocery home delivery service for the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa and major Quebec cities. Instead of putting the focus on in-store personal shoppers to fulfill online orders, Sobeys will build automated warehouses in the Toronto and Montreal areas, based on Ocado’s U.K. model. “With e-commerce, if you want to become efficient you have to centralize more and that’s what Sobeys is doing,” Charlebois says. The pick and select process in store is “very challenging” because average online grocery orders can contain 40 to 45 SKUs and can take personal shoppers about 45 minutes to complete, Bishop adds. As a result, many retailers are working to improve that process with automation. “The majority of retailers will outsource delivery to a specialized third-party logistics provider that will focus on that last mile.” Bishop notes while autonomous vehicles are being touted as a solution for last mile delivery of groceries, a broad market rollout in the U.S. likely won’t come for another 10 years. “The timeline for broad market adoption is still many years away,” he says. For grocers to succeed in e-commerce, they may have to go the route of popular meal ordering apps such as Skip the Dishes and Foodora, which are “very consumer-focused” and require only about 20 seconds for consumers to complete their orders, Charlebois says. “That’s something that grocers will have to do. That’s the kind of thing that you’re going to see more. The pressure’s going to be real so grocers will be expected to execute well,” using Amazon as their benchmark, he says. He adds that programs similar to Amazon Prime, which charges consumers an annual fee in exchange for free delivery and other benefits, could be a route for grocers to imitate. The stakes for grocers in home delivery are high. Not only will they have to deal with bad public relations and a social media backlash if they don’t get delivery right, but they will also lose market share to grocers who do, says Winder. “Grocers who don’t get it right in terms of smoothness of operations, process and efficiency are going to lose money or lose opportunity costs of money,” he says. “Even if you do get market share, if you’re not doing it right, you’re going to have your net margins eroded. So, there’s some pretty big stakes here.”  CG June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


Highlights from the sial


June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer

SIAL Canada, the international food and beverage trade show, was back for its 16th edition at the Enercare Centre in Toronto. From April 30 to May 2, the unique “One Stop Shop” brought together the food industry’s professionals and major players. With Italy as this year’s country of honour, SIAL Canada’s 2019 edition was brimming with Italian charm, as well as inspiration from around the world. This year, SIAL Canada was proud to present innovative content-rich programming. With 50 business sessions and panels, and more than 25 activities and competitions, SIAL Canada continues to position itself as an industry leader and a source of innovation for retailers in Canada. SIAL Canada is held every spring, alternating between Toronto and Montréal. SIAL Canada 2020 will be held April 15th to 17th at the Palais des congrès in Montréal. To learn more about SIAL Canada and its upcoming events, visit:

Canada trade show floor

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


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Products, store ops, customers, trends



Fuel for school Providing parents with solutions for school lunches and snacks can build customer loyalty throughout the year By Carolyn Cooper


t may still be summer, but savvy grocers, and many exhausted parents, are

already turning their attention towards the busy back-to-school season. By August, consumers with children are beginning to plan what essentials they’ll need to stock up on, while watching for innovative new child-friendly food and beverages that will make the grind of daily lunch prep easier. “Back to school has become a formal season in the retail year,” says Kathy Perrotta, vice-president, Canada for Ipsos Marketing. “And anytime there’s a new season, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with consumers.” For retailers hoping to cash in on this lucrative season, it means understanding the purchasing drivers of today’s parents and meeting their demands with the right merchandising mix. Even more importantly, it’s an opportunity to position your store to parents as their one-stop solutions provider for all their back-to-school food and beverage needs, guaranteeing they remain loyal customers throughout the school year. June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


AISLES A FINE BALANCE Health is the priority when it comes to what parents are looking for in snacks and lunch foods. “Most of the parents of school-aged children are millennials, and we know they’re the most health-conscious generation to date,” says Jo-Ann McArthur, president of Nourish Food Marketing. “So what we’re seeing is a growth in better-for-you snacks with cleaner ingredient decks. For kids, it’s less about calories and more about additional functional benefits, like high protein.” That includes more satiating and nutritious versions of traditional snack and lunchbox favourites, and creative alternatives with kid-appealing flavours and parent-approved functional benefits. Convenience, appropriately-sized


portioning, and portability are also crucial for this cohort, says McArthur, who notes that “millennials are a generation of snackers.” As a result, snacks have become mini-meal options. “So they’re choosing healthier veggie-based snacks like beet chips or dried fruit like apple chips for their children.” That’s led to a rise in puffed and popped snacks over fried, savoury over sweet, and surprisingly “adult” flavours in kids’ snacks, such as jalapeño, “with the intensity levels dialled down for kids,” says McArthur. “Kids are developing an adventurous palate at a much earlier age.” Overall, says Perrotta, 48% of all items being consumed in carried-fromhome occasions for kids are now snacks. “So, the fastest way into the pantries of

today’s young, educated millennial parents is through snack foods that offer compromise between what will appeal to kids and what’s mom- or dad-approved in terms of nutrition. We know that 60% of parents read labels, and for 75% of those parents what they see on the label influences their decision to buy. They want snacks that are natural and realfood oriented, but with little or no planning and preparation time. And it’s not about depravation or going without, it’s about balance.” “Health is definitely becoming more of a focus,” agrees Julie Bednarski, founder and president of The Healthy Crunch Company, “but, ultimately, snacks have to taste good or kids are not going to eat them.” Bednarski began Healthy Crunch



Connect online Use all points of access possible to connect with parents during the back-to-school season, including through your website, social media and direct emails to offer promotions, contests and other reasons to return to the store. “These are digitally savvy parents, so digital coupons, loyalty programs and mobile rebates all make sense,” says Nourish’s Jo-Ann McArthur. “For many of them their portal to online grocery shopping was diapers, because they’re big and bulky.” McArthur suggests offering products online to be delivered on a regular basis—for instance,


Five tips for better back-to-school merchandising healthy bento box-style lunches—and positioning them as a back-to-school solution. “It may be an opportunity for grocers to further penetrate online grocery shopping, and it’s a good way to set yourself up as a back-toschool solutions provider,” she says.

Sampling can also translate to instant sales of back-to-school snacks, says Summerhill’s Christy McMullen, “because if kids sample a product and like it, you pretty much have a guaranteed sale.”

Work with manufacturers

Make back-to-school season fun with large food and beverage displays at the front of the store to catch the eye of kids and parents. “We go full force with our backto-school merchandising,” says Calgary Co-op’s Adam Tully. “We have a school bus in there, we build a school out of condiments, that sort of thing.” Remember to ensure your product mix offers parents lunchbox

solutions that simplify the back-to-school routine, and bring as many of the essentials they’re looking for into one location. It’s also an opportunity to provide value-added signage with info such as shopping tips and easy-to-follow nutritional guidelines.

3 2 4 Back-to-school season also presents a huge opportunity for food and beverage operators, meaning they will be eager to offer merchandising help through signage, or to do product demonstrations and giveaways. “Sampling and demoing is key for us,” says Healthy Crunch’s Julie Bednarski. “Once we get a consumer to taste our product, we have a repeat customer.”

June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer

Make it fun and functional

Link to local

Millennial parents put a premium on local. Linking with family-friendly events, associations, charities and schools in your neighbourhood throughout the year can attract new customers, while building brand awareness and goodwill in the community.

Crossmerchandising is key Find ways to bring all four walls of the store together by cross-merchandising food and beverages with other back-to-school products. Because of the popularity of pick-andpack type lunches, as well as zero-waste packaging policies at many schools, consider adding resealable containers, lunch boxes and Thermoses to your displays. Cross-promoting different food departments, such as fresh or deli, can present an opportunity to “help parents navigate through the store” on their search for kid-friendly options, says Ipsos’s Kathy Perrotta.

AISLES four years ago producing allergen-free kale chips, and in the past year has launched a full lineup of family and school-friendly snack foods. Last fall, Healthy Crunch launched seven SKUs of allergen-free trail mix, as well as a range of Coconut Chips in 14 flavours. Both products were launched in 225-gram packages, and will soon be available in 25-gram packs based on customer demand for pre-portioned, child-appropriate serving sizes. “In September we’re also launching our School Approved Bars, which will be 22-gram single portions for kids with a serving of vegetables, probiotics, fibre, and just one to two grams of sugar,” says Bednarski. The company will also roll out four SKUs of its new nut-free spread with two grams of sugar per serving, and jams featuring just three to four grams of sugar. NOT SO SWEET At Calgary Co-op, director of grocery operations Adam Tully says parents are looking for healthy, natural, allergen-free foods, and “they’re not willing to compromise health for quick and convenient.” Tully also sees more customers buying ingredients to make their own healthy school snacks, noting that “a lot of the schools don’t want kids to have the sugar at school—they want the sugar at home, or it has to be a natural sugar.” The demand for low- and no-sugar options is also playing out in beverages. “We’re seeing sweetness levels over time being organically dialled down in beverages,” says McArthur, who also notes the growth of alternatives like nut and oat milk. Tully has also observed a move away from juice boxes to water. Although some schools prefer children bring tap water in reusable containers, Tully says “water sales are still chugging along nicely, as consumers are buying bottled water for different occasions with their kids. We’re also seeing smaller-size formats, such as a 330-mL bottle a child can take in their lunch.” BATTLE FOR THE LUNCHBOX Traditional sandwiches have lost their place in the school lunchbox in favour of pick-and-pack type lunches that cover all the food groups. In fact, “less than a third of all school lunches for kids under 13 now include sandwiches,” says Perrotta. Instead, the top items carried from home for school lunch are fresh fruit, cheese, fresh-cut vegetables, yogurt,

crackers, dips and salsa, bars, and veggie chips of all kinds. “Traditional lunches really have gone out the window,” agrees Christy McMullen, co-owner of Toronto’s Summerhill Market. “Parents are getting more creative with lunches; they’re putting in different snacks or prepared meals like small containers of quinoa salad.” Current bestsellers, she notes, include seaweed snacks, crackers and pretzels made from cauliflower or sweet potato, and all flavours of popcorn. Naturipe Farms’ fresh-fruit line of Naturipe Snacks is ideal for adding to lunchboxes, or as an on-the-go healthy treat, according to Steven Ware, the company’s vice-president of value-added fresh. Each cup holds five ounces of fresh-fruit combinations, such as blueberries, grapes and apples, and includes a built-in spork to make it easier for little hands. The company also offers a line of snack boxes “that pair fresh fruit with specialty cheese and seasoned nuts in one portable package,” says Ware. “These snack boxes nourish and satisfy with protein, fibre, vitamin C and calcium, with no preparation time required.” PROTEIN POWER Protein is another attribute parents are looking for in school snacks and lunch items. “When we talk about protein, we mean that consumers are looking for the benefits that protein provides,” explains Perrotta. “For parents, that’s the comfort of knowing that their children’s tummies are full, and that they are energized throughout the day.” However, she adds, pre-packaged meat now comprises just 5% of all kids’ carried-from-home lunches, “so people are looking for protein alternatives.” Dairy is still a favourite for parents, who are familiar with the vitamins, calcium and protein dairy products provide. Portion control and portability are a must in this category, which means there’s a market for fun, dippable or drinkable packages like tubes for yogurt, and pre-cubed, ready-to-eat formats of cheese. “Yogurt and cheeses under the nanö brand are a perfect solution for parents,” says Véronique Boileau, vice-president of communications for Agropur Dairy Cooperative. Nanö is part of Agropur’s iÖGO family of products, all of which are free from gelatin and artificial colours and flavours.

“Health is definitely becoming more of a focus, but, ultimately, snacks have to taste good or kids are not going to eat them” The brand’s current top-selling yogurts for children include nanö drinkable yogurt and nanö yogurt with no refined sugar added. It will soon launch its drinkable yogurt in a 40% less sugar version, as well as a limited-edition cherry flavour. “Because convenient snacking is a major trend for children, nanö is also adding a new exciting cheese product—a 100% mozzarella cheese to unroll, a first in the Canadian market,” says Boileau. While granola bars are still on Ipsos Marketing’s list of top 10 items carried from home for school lunches and snacks, formulations have changed considerably, and bars are now packed with nutrients and protein. For example, says McArthur, popular protein bar brands like RXBAR and LÄRABAR have already introduced kid-specific bars “featuring the attributes parents are looking for.” In Calgary, Tully sees oat squares overtaking granola bars, while at Summerhill Market, McMullen says Mid-Day Squares (made with organic, vegan and raw superfood ingredients) are currently hot sellers at her store. Where do cookies and other “lesshealthy” treats fare during back-to-school season? “Sales are going to pick up on cookies and all that stuff, that’s never going to go away,” says Tully, although he believes parents are keeping cookies as an at-home or on-the-go treat. Perrotta agrees less-than-nutritious treats will still find a market. “We always have to ask ‘What is the job that parents are buying a product for?’” she says. “In some cases it’s as a treat component in the school lunch that’s a reward for eating the rest of the nutritionally balanced meal. But other times it’s a reward that lives in your pantry, your car or even in your purse as a secret weapon for a quick energy fill, or just to have a moment of quiet.” June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer








Sliced for Yakiniku Barbecue. Thin Slice 4 – 7mm.

Sliced for Yakiniku Barbecue. Thin Slice 4 – 7mm.

Sliced for Yakiniku Barbecue. Thin Slice 4 – 7mm.




Sliced for Yakiniku Barbecue. Thin Slice 4 – 7mm.

Sliced for Yakiniku Barbecue. Thin Slice 4 – 7mm.

Kalbi Cut for Yakiniku Barbecue. Thin Slice 4 – 7mm.




Sliced for Shabu Shabu Hot Pot. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.

Sliced for Shabu Shabu Hot Pot. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.

Sliced for Shabu Shabu Hot Pot. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.



Sliced for Shabu Shabu Hot Pot. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.

Sliced for Shabu Shabu Hot Pot. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.




Sliced for Shogayaki. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.

Sliced for Shogayaki. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.

Sliced for Shogayaki. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.



Sliced for Shogayaki. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.

Sliced for Shogayaki. Extra Thin Slice 2 – 3mm.




The new face of milk


With milk consumption on the decline, dairy manufacturers are attempting to revitalize the market through innovation  By Carol Neshevich IT’S NO SECRET that traditional milk sales have been declining. According to Statistics Canada, per-capita consumption of fluid dairy milk has steadily slipped from 81.79 litres in 2009 to 65.85 litres in 2018. As many consumers turn to alternative “milks” like almond or soy—whether for health reasons or to avoid animal proteins—and with the new Canada’s Food Guide now lumping dairy into “protein” rather than keeping it as its own distinct category, the future for dairy milk would appear somewhat shaky. But don’t count milk out just yet. Despite the decline, there’s still a huge market for milk, says Joel Gregoire, associate director of food and drink at Mintel. “Remember, dairy milk is extremely well penetrated in the market,” he says, noting 2019 Mintel research that revealed 89% of Canadians surveyed said they had purchased “any dairy milk” in the previous three months. “That said, the industry needs to adapt.” Sylvain Charlebois, professor in food distribution and policy and senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, says the industry is definitely adapting—and it’s doing so by

innovating. “As soon as you start recognizing that a market is more fragmented, it often leads to more innovation. That’s what we’re seeing right now, which is not a bad thing.” Indeed, there’s never been so much innovation in milk. New products touting attributes such as grass-fed, organic, high-protein, ultrafiltered and A2 milk are showing up in fridges, often in interesting new flavours or with innovative packaging. “I think we really needed this influx of new ideas,” says Charlebois. Higher protein is a big area of innovation, including the new “ultrafiltered” milks such as Coca-Cola’s Fairlife, which entered the Canadian market last year, and Saputo’s Joyya, which launched in November 2018. The special filtering process is what boosts the protein. “We take fresh, Canadian milk and pass it through a series of specialized filters,” explains Philippe Duhamel, Saputo’s vice-president strategic business development, cheese & dairy. “This separates the milk components to concentrate the nutrients already found in milk, while also reducing the lactose.” Joyya claims to provide 75% more protein than regular milk, and Duhamel likes to say

it’s “making dairy relevant again.” Changing consumer preferences have boosted business at Guelph, Ont.-based Organic Meadow, as the company specializes in the organic, grass-fed, premium varieties many Canadians are now seeking. “Over the last 30 years, the dairy category has changed significantly—however, so, too, has the consumer. While we’ve seen declines in overall fluid milk consumption … organic and more premium offerings like grass-fed milk have been growing steadily,” says Michelle Schmidt, Organic Meadow’s marketing manager. Still, constant innovation is key for the company. Over the last two years Organic Meadow has launched more than a dozen new products, including organic shelf-stable milk boxes and cold brew coffee milk. Brent Fewster, product category manager for meat, dairy & cheese at Ontario natural food chain Goodness Me!, agrees organic and grass-fed milks are showing strong growth, and adds that A2 milk, new to Canada, is currently making a splash at his store. “A2 milk is the most dramatic innovation, with Sheldon Creek Dairy leading the way [in Canada],” he says. “It is selling well and customers are very excited.” Where regular milk typically comes from cows that produce both A1 and A2 types of beta-casein protein, A2 milk comes from cows that naturally produce just the A2 type; and many people who have trouble digesting regular milk—even lactose-free varieties—are finding they can easily digest A2. It was first developed by the a2 Milk Company in Australia, which is where Emily den Haan of Loretto, Ont.’s Sheldon Creek Dairy first learned about it while working abroad. She brought the idea back to her sister and parents (it’s a family-run business). “We thought this seemed pretty unique,” says Marianne Edward, den Haan’s sister and operations manager at Sheldon Creek, “so five years ago we decided to exclusively start breeding our herd to only A2 cows.” Sheldon Creek’s A2 milk launched this year at select Ontario retailers such as Goodness Me!, Vince’s Market and The Healthy Butcher. Edward says she’s thrilled to be “bringing people back to milk ... It’s so exciting when people call you to say, ‘I’m eating a bowl of cereal with milk right now and I just had to say thank you, I can drink milk again.’”  CG June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer


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Small but mighty Seeds may be tiny, but their impact on the food world right now is undeniably big. “The need for seed” was the first trend on McCormick’s Flavour Forecast this year, while Women’s Health magazine listed “seed butter” at the top of its 2019 food trends. Whether pumpkin, chia, sunflower, sesame, flax, watermelon or even water lily seeds, these nutritional powerhouses are showing up in a wide range of packaged goods, from snacks and beverages to butters and bars. Check out these “seedy” innovations hitting the marketplace. MAMMA CHIA Mamma Chia offers a line of organic chia seed beverages in seven fruity flavours including Blackberry Hibiscus, Blueberry Pomegranate, Strawberry Lemonade and Coconut Mango. The California-based manufacturer says its seedfilled drinks are packed with omega-3 and contain 24% of the recommended daily dietary fibre as well as four grams of plant-based protein.

KIND Kind has launched a new bar featuring sea salt-roasted pumpkin seeds, maple syrup, and 19 grams of whole grains (oats, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa) per bar. This new snack offers a contrasting combo of sweet and salty flavours as well as crunchy and chewy textures, all in one gluten-free bar.

BOHANA While popped water lily seeds have been a popular snack in India for centuries, they’re now hitting North America via Boston’s Bohana. Available in three flavours (Soulful Spice, Himalayan Pink Salt and Wild White Cheddar), Bohana’s Popped Water Lily Seeds have been getting tons of positive press since launching in the United States last year.


June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer

DASTONY Right on trend for 2019, Illinois-based Dastony has a selection of seed butters, including Watermelon Seed Butter, Sprouted Sunflower Seed Butter, Hemp Seed Butter and Sprouted Pumpkin Seed Butter. All of Dastony’s smooth and creamy seed butters are stone ground, organic and made with raw ingredients, with no added oils, salts or sugars.

Made in Canada

HIPPIE SNACKS The Seed & Nut Clusters from B.C.-based Hippie Snacks are certified organic, gluten free, non-gmo and packed with nutrients. These crunchy snacks combine a variety of seeds such as sunflower, flax, pumpkin, sesame and chia with cashew nuts, and are available in two flavourful varieties: Crispy Onion and Sweet Coconut.


+40% -0.9%

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What’sNew NeW products iN grocery

Say hello to Yello Wake Up and Smell the Espresso Lavazza caffè espresso is a 100% arabica blend from central and south america with highly aromatic notes, fragrant flavour, and a rich body. Now available in 1kg whole beans, caffè espresso is ideal for espresso, but also suitable for use in all types of coffee makers. the long-roasted coffee beans give the blend its distinctive italian espresso taste.

yellofruit is a delicious alternative to traditional dairy ice cream, made with a banana-base instead of cream, milk or other dairy ingredients. produced in a peanut-free facility in ontario, using organic and non-gMo ingredients, yellofruit is loaded with fruit and flavour, and scoops like ice cream. exactly what canadian consumers are looking for, hello indeed!

Udderly Delicious Born out of a passion to share the pure enjoyment that goat’s milk ice cream has to offer, udderly ridiculous has developed a healthy and fresh-from-the-farm alternative to traditional cow’s milk ice cream. available in six sophisticated flavours like Vanilla Bean Lavender, Wine and dark chocolate, and Lemon cream, udderly ridiculous contains less lactose than traditional cow’s milk ice cream, making it easier to digest for consumers who suffer from lactose sensitivity.

Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–June/July 2019



sepTembeR 22-23



FRee TRade shOW pass WITh pROmO cOde: cg

CHECKING OUT George Condon

THERE IS A SOLUTION Government intervention can help end ugliness in the manufacturer-retailer relationship THERE IS MOUNTING evidence that food manufacturing in Canada—the largest manufacturing sector in this country—is at risk, which could result in more plant shutdowns, job losses and higher costs of goods for Canadians. One of the factors contributing to this situation is the lack of balance in the relationship between big grocery retailers and the manufacturers who make the foods we eat. Manufacturers say the high costs of doing business in Canada are impacting their ability to compete and threaten the long-term viability of the industry. According to the recently released Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) Industry Sustainability & Competitiveness Study, the cost of placing food, beverage and consumer products on store shelves has increased 22% between 2013 and 2017. The report points to increased consolidation among grocery retailers,


June/July 2019 Canadian Grocer

which has decreased manufacturers’ ability to negotiate with retailers, as one factor contributing to the problem. There is no point blaming the retailers for this state of affairs, because there are no rules or regulations preventing them from charging hefty fees. This was the situation in the United Kingdom when the government and the grocery industry agreed to establish the Groceries Supply Code of Practice—­ legislation that came into effect in 2009, which aims to regulate the relationship between major grocers and suppliers and prevent the unfair practices that had stifled competition, innovation and prosperity in the industry. A few years later an independent adjudicator was added, who is empowered to financially penalize retailers for breaking the code. Initially, there was some trepidation on both sides but in the intervening years

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


Manufacturers say the cost of getting food on store shelves jumped 22% during a five-year period

there has been progress. The adjudicator has pointed out a number of unfair practices and put a stop to them. It is high time Canada had a similar type of regulated body. But what we need here is a more collaborative arrangement built upon a consensus among manufacturers and retailers. This is the approach suggested by FCPC, according to its CEO Michael Graydon. He believes if all the parties got together with representatives from government, a new set of workable rules could be established based partially on the U.K. model. Graydon says there would be a need for government involvement, similar to what there was for the banking industry when credit card fees got too high. He says the government intervened and told the banks that they either had to come up with a solution themselves or the government would impose one that they probably wouldn’t like. The banks decided to fix the problems themselves. Unfortunately, the food industry has few existing rules and regulations that the Competition Bureau can enforce. The agency was initially established to protect businesses and consumers, not to regulate a broken industry such as grocery. The new rules will have to be established either by the industry itself or by government. The government does not want food manufacturing to abandon Canada, so it is open to working toward a new set of rules and regulations. It seems the next step will be to establish a collaborative body of retailers, manufacturers and government to work toward establishing these new rules to deal with retailer/manufacturer issues. It might take a couple of years, but FCPC is determined to pursue the matter. This is an issue that can’t wait too long for a resolution. Let’s follow the U.K.’s lead.  CG


InnovatIon RIght How Conagra Brands is moving its iconic and emerging food brands into the future

top-Shelf Partner Working together to help build basket size Recipe For Change Modernizing for today’s consumers Q&a: Ian Roberts talks Sustainability From left to right: Conagra Brands’ Vince Mendes de Franca, Vice President of Sales; Ian Roberts, Vice President and General Manager; Tebbie Chuchla, Head of Marketing Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–june 2019

Product Showcase A look at what’s hitting the aisles



real, simple ingredients. nothing fake. Š Conagra Brands. All rights reserved. Questions or comments? 1-800-461-4556


Source: ¹ IRI, Meat Sticks category, PE October 21, 2018 | TABASCO and the DIAMOND and BOTTLE LOGOS are trademarks of and licensed by McIlhenny Company, Avery Island Louisiana, USA 70513. TABASCO. Com.














Roasted Red Pepper & Egg White Shakshuka

Unwrapped Burrito Scramble Enjoy turkey sausage and egg whites for 13 g of protein, plus leafy greens and whole grains for a delicious start to your day.

This delicious vegetarian medley combines egg whites, feta cheese, bell peppers and a spicy tomato and pepper sauce for a bold, morning meal with 10 g of protein.

Turkey Sausage & Egg White Scramble

Pesto & Egg White Scramble Kick off your morning with this vegetarian bowl, featuring a basil pesto sauce and parmesan cheese, sprinkled atop egg whites, and white kidney beans. With 12 g of protein, it’s a bright way to kick-start your day.

Fuel your morning with turkey sausage and egg whites, cooked in a creamy avocado sauce for a satisfying 15 g of protein.

Consumers want frozen breakfast entrees for a quick, delicious and nutritious breakfast. Source: Nielsen Strat Planner, All Channels, L52 Weeks PE November 10, 2018



With a focus on innovation and a plan for sustainable growth, Conagra Brands has the recipe for success


onagra Brands may be a 100-year-old packaged foods company with a stable of iconic brands, but the organization has a modern mindset. “We want our teams to consistently challenge and disrupt marketplace conventions,” says Ian Roberts, Vice President and General Manager at Conagra Brands in Canada. “Our vision is to have the most energized, highest impact culture in food. We have been able to successfully combine our rich heritage of making great food with a sharpened focus on innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit.” With consumers’ ever-changing food preferences, Conagra Brands is modernizing its brands and expanding into new categories—all with a strategy of sustainable growth. “We need to be profitable and we need to grow at the same time,” says Roberts. “One without the other, or too much focus on one, is not sustainable in our book. “All of the actions we take are firmly rooted in data,” continues Roberts. To get the best insights, Conagra Brands has steered away from some of the more traditional research methods, as they tend to reveal the aspirational side of consumers—not their actual behaviours. “We emphasize data that is behavioural and transactional, and it’s what consumers actually do versus what they say,” says Roberts. “That information helps us determine how we better compete today and build tomorrow by reinventing and expanding.” The company’s brand-transformation process is centred on ensuring its brands have the most relevant, competitive products in their respective categories. “It’s not about leaving behind brands that have been in the portfolio for a long time,” says Roberts. “It’s about making all of our brands as strong and as relevant as they can be.” Tebbie Chuchla, Head of Marketing at Conagra Brands, adds that the company has a consumer-centric approach to building its innovation pipeline. “We don’t start by looking at a brand and asking how it can be tweaked or optimized— we start by looking externally at the consumer,” she says. “We study the growth pockets and understand the modern attributes that are driving that growth. Then, we tailor those attributes into the food products we develop so they can meet consumer needs and incrementally grow the overall portfolio.”

Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–June 2019

W NE Ready in 55 seconds

Wrapped in biscuit batter

No artificial colours, flavours or by-products

• Handhelds is the largest segment in the Frozen Breakfast category and growing +15% • 17% of shoppers explore what’s new in the Frozen Breakfast aisle and 32% went to purchase Frozen Breakfast for a child • 70% of consumers want easy breakfast meals ready in 10 minutes or less Source: Nielsen Consumer Shopping Fundamental Sept 2017: Frozen Breakfast Category Indexed to Total Frozen Source: Nielsen Strat Planner, All Channels, L52 Weeks PE November 10, 2018

With its change-maker mindset, Conagra Brands’ approach to building brands challenges standard business conventions, notes Roberts. “When you take the approach of innovating iconic brands and innovating with emerging brands or through acquisitions, it’s a fast-paced, perpetual growth model,” he says. “That has probably been the most marked change in terms of the company’s transformation.” That transformation began in 2016, when ConAgra Foods (as the company was then called) spun off its Lamb Weston frozen potato business and changed its name to Conagra Brands. “That change was important because it marked the first time in Conagra’s 100-year history where we became a singularly focused consumer branded food company,” says Roberts. “We saw it as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, modernize our brands in their existing categories, and expand into new ones—all fitting in with Conagra being a pure-play branded company.” One notable example of brand modernization in the frozen category is Healthy Choice® Power Bowls, which launched in 2018. The on-trend product capitalizes on the growing popularity of bowl-based foods, as well as the notion that every ingredient matters to consumers. Healthy Choice Power Bowls feature global flavours and nutrient-dense ingredients, and contain no preservatives, artificial colours or artificial flavours. “We’re proud of the fact that we can bring innovation across a wide spectrum of categories, but in frozen in particular, we’re very excited about where we are going with Healthy Choice,” says Roberts. The roadmap for Healthy Choice not only includes adding new products to the existing lineup, such as plant-based entrées, but expanding into new eating occasions. This July, Healthy Choice is making its first-ever entry into the breakfast category, with the launch of four varieties of All-Day Breakfast Power Bowls. The POgO® and gardein® brands are also launching breakfast options this year. gardein—a 100% plant-based protein brand— was added to Conagra Brands’ portfolio with the company’s 2018 acquisition of Pinnacle Foods—a move that is creating new opportunities to drive growth. With the acquisition, Conagra also added other emerging brands such as Udi’s®, glutino® and Earth Balance®, along with iconic brands such as Duncan Hines® and Hungry-Man®. “The Pinnacle acquisition brings scale, capabilities and access to some high-growth demand spaces,” says Roberts. “There is also a lot of potential to modernize some of these brands and create new offerings for consumers. It’s exciting to see what we can do with the combination of all our brands.” One key demand space right now is what Conagra Brands calls “modern health and wellness.” The company is focusing on in-demand attributes such as clean nutritionals, freefrom, and paleo and keto diet requirements. “We believe we can deliver on those modern health attributes through emerging brands like gardein and Earth Balance, and by renovating iconic brands in the portfolio, such as Healthy Choice,” says Roberts. “We’ve done that with our Healthy Choice vegetarian and vegan Power Bowls, as well as with our Simply Steamers® offerings.” Roberts foresees a large movement in the modern health and wellness space in the coming years, spanning across demographics. “As with all of our brands and products, it’s about providing great-tasting food that has the most relevant attributes consumers are seeking,” he says.

“We have been able to successfully combine our rich heritage of making great food with a sharpened focus on innovation.”

Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–June 2019




patties The perfect way to start your day.

• plant protein

• per serving


Consumers are lo for meat alternatives Tofu, meat and dairy alternatives are the

fastest growing FMCG category Gardein is outpacing the category

1 2

Source: Nielsen, MarketTrack, National All Channels, 52 weeks ending January 5, 2019. FMCG stands for fast-moving consumer goods. Source: Nielsen StratPlanner NAT XNFLD GB +DR +MM - All Sales l Period Ending Mar 30 19

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How Conagra Brands is helping retailers boost basket size and drive centre-of-store growth

1 “Ethnic foods and flavours Canada” – Feb 2016, 2 Mintel Spices and Condiments reports 2018


s the retail landscape rapidly changes, it’s never been more important for CPG companies and retailers to work together to achieve mutual growth. That is fundamental to Conagra Brands, which fosters strong relationships with retailers through collaboration, long-term support and a dedicated sales team. “My top priority is transforming Conagra Brands into a strategic partner that’s valued for our great brands, great food, great people and consistent results,” says Vince Mendes de Franca, Vice President of Sales at Conagra Brands. To achieve that goal, the organization prioritizes product innovation that will meet consumer needs and draw new shoppers into grocery retailers’ stores. “We do this by finding pockets of growth and developing innovations that drive centre-of-store traffic and increased basket size,” says Mendes de Franca. Conagra Brands is focused on transformative innovation in four categories: Frozen Meals, Snacks & Sweet Treats, Condiments & Enhancers, and Shelf Stable Meals & Sides. In snacks, for example, the company removed artificial colours, flavours and preservatives from Orville Redenbacher® microwave popcorn. Following the changes, the brand saw double-digit growth after a five-year decline. Also in the snack category, Conagra Brands added three protein snack brands to its portfolio: BIGS Sunflower Seeds®, and Slim Jim® and Duke’s® meat snacks, which are all made for on-the-go consumption. On the meal enhancers side, Conagra Brands modernized its VH® lineup to appeal to evolving preferences. Data shows that 72% of Canadians believe that flavour and spice-inspired meals help break the monotony of meal times and 62% of 18-to-34-year-olds use hot sauce regularly.1 2 So, the company launched a new line of Fusion VH sauces, including Pineapple Jerk and Honey Sriracha. To boost sales, Conagra is placing VH sauces in the barbecue section and creating brand pairings. “We partner VH sauces and marinades with PAM® and create a tie-in to the meat department,” says Mendes de Franca. “If a shopper is getting chicken breast, they’ll see VH on top of the bunker and a PAM display nearby so they can get all the items needed for barbecuing. We create a valuable shopping experience that in turn builds basket size.” When it comes to introducing its retail partners to new products, Conagra has shifted to a more progressive selling playbook. “We used to spend more time talking costs and feature ads. Now, it’s truly a food-first approach,” says Mendes de Franca. “One of our mantras is ‘more cutting boards and less PowerPoint.’ Our objective is to first have our customer fall in love with the food and then take the conversation from there.”

Quick Hits With

Vince Mendes de Franca How do you keep up with the changing needs of your retail customers? It’s all about the face-to-face interaction and participating in industry events. That’s key to truly understanding the evolving needs of our customers and continuously fostering those relationships. I also leverage the experience of my U.S. and international counterparts within Conagra Brands to get a view of what might be coming to the Canadian market in the future. How does Conagra use data analytics to improve sales performance? Data is at the centre of everything that we do; it drives our innovation path and the category opportunities we bring to our retailers. To build the best category solutions, our insights team uses behavioural data, store level sales, external trends and online modelling. We also use purchase and consumption data to optimize our trade investments and find pockets of growth for the categories we participate in. What big bets in innovation will deliver profitability for your customers this year? Gardein single-serve meals and Healthy Choice Power Bowls both serve a growing category of flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan options in the frozen category. We foresee it continuing to grow in demand and profitability this year.

Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–June 2019


bowls Perfect for a 100% meatless meal on-the-go!

• Easily prepared in just minutes

• plant protein

• of protein per bowl Consumers are lo for meat alternatives Tofu, meat and dairy alternatives are the

fastest growing FMCG category Gardein is outpacing the category

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Source: Nielsen, MarketTrack, National All Channels, 52 weeks ending January 5, 2019. FMCG stands for fast-moving consumer goods. Source: Nielsen StratPlanner NAT XNFLD GB +DR +MM - All Sales l Period Ending Mar 30 19

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FOR TODAY’S TASTES Conagra Brands has modernized its portfolio and launched new food products to meet the changing needs of consumers


onsumer tastes are continually changing, and smart CPG companies evolve right along with them. Conagra Brands is a leader on this front, with a sharp focus on insight-based innovation. “We know that brands are evergreen, but only if you infuse them with modern attributes,” says Tebbie Chuchla, Head of Marketing at Conagra Brands. “If you don’t perpetually look to change and evolve your brands, they’re not going to grow.” With that view in mind, Conagra Brands has modernized brands across the portfolio, whether through product innovation or renovation. “Our focus is making sure our brands truly resonate with consumers,” says Chuchla. For example, Conagra Brands has modernized the frozen category to appeal to millennials’ desire for convenient, great-tasting food. The company introduced new lineups of “bowls”—a growing food trend—to its key frozenmeal brands. New products include a Frontera® Chicken Fajita Bowl and Marie Callender’s® Tender Ginger Beef & Broccoli Bowl. It also introduced vegetarian and vegan options to its Healthy Choice Power Bowls lineup, with flavours such White Bean & Feta Salad and Mango Edamame. In June, Gardein launched a new line of single-serve meals, such as the Orange Beefless Bowl, a vegan entrée with 16 grams of protein. “The ‘flexitarian’ diet is becoming a big movement among millennials, so we’re looking at plant-based foods that resonate with this demographic,” says Chuchla. Conagra Brands is also meeting new consumer needs with its expansion into the frozen breakfast category, effectively appealing to the time-starved consumer. In July, the company is launching Healthy Choice All-Day Breakfast Power Bowls, such as Unwrapped Burrito Scramble and Pesto & Egg White Scramble, as well as POGO Breakfast, which comes in two varieties: Maple Flavoured Sausage and Smoky Bacon Sausage, both in a biscuit batter. “Through our data, we found that consumers are looking for more options within breakfast that aren’t currently found in the frozen breakfast set,” says Chuchla. “We saw an opportunity to meet specific consumer needs such as higher protein or a heartier breakfast meal—all in a convenient format.” To create buzz about its new products and drive consumers into stores, Conagra will launch marketing campaigns with a focus on digital. “Half of Conagra’s marketing campaigns are now digital because it allows us to personalize the content, especially for younger consumers,” says Chuchla. “Our new launches will follow a similar plan. We’re also leveraging influencer programs and PR to drive awareness.”

Quick Hits With

Tebbie Chuchla What are your top priorities as Head of Marketing? The first priority is to ensure that our brands “show up,” meaning they have physical availability across retail channels, both online and offline. Second is that the brands stand out with the right consumer programs. This allows consumers to recognize our brands and build stronger mental availability, all while maintaining good ROI. What is Conagra Brands’ approach to shopper marketing? We do a tremendous amount of partnering with our retailers. What has been helpful is getting access to their data via our e-commerce partnerships, which allows us to tailor our messaging to their specific retail shoppers. This personalized approach helps us achieve greater category growth overall. Why is it important to Conagra to have a strong presence at the digital shelf? As more consumers shift to making purchases via mobile devices, we need to ensure that our digital shelf is always up-to-date and is appealing to consumers. That appeal could lead to a higher rate of engagement and hence a higher rate of purchase.

Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–June 2019

Enjoy gluten free snacks, without sacriďŹ cing taste! Š Conagra Brands. All rights reserved. Questions or comments? 1-800-461-4556


Ian Roberts, Vice President and General Manager at Conagra Brands, talks about the company’s commitment to sustainability and the greater community

What do Conagra Brands’ sustainability efforts involve? One main focus area lies within manufacturing and production. Within our facilities where we make food, we’ve been recognized as leaders for reducing waste and water consumption. In 2018, our tomato processing plant in Dresden, Ontario was among seven Conagra facilities recognized as a Zero Waste Champion. That’s an internal program where we celebrate facilities that have diverted more than 95% of materials that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. It’s a great program and great recognition for our plant in Dresden. What’s involved in the zero-waste journey? It’s important to get our teams to change how they think about food and packaging materials at our plants: instead of characterizing materials as “waste,” treat them as “by-products.” It’s about considering how we can recycle, re-use or re-apply those materials. If we can get our whole team thinking that way, it strengthens our waste reduction efforts. We are having great success: in fiscal 2018, 82.6% of the solid waste generated at all Conagra’s facilities was diverted to more beneficial uses through recycling and composting, as well as animal feed and energy generation. What do your efforts around packaging involve? We are exploring ways to reduce the amount of plastics in our packaging. For example, we replaced the plastic bowl in our Healthy Choice Power Bowls with a fibre bowl made from plantbased material that is recyclable. We will continue to consider future innovations in plant-based packaging that we can use for other food products in our portfolio. How does Conagra Brands give back to communities? We’re committed to reducing hunger in our local communities, as food insecurity is a reality for millions in North America. We have a number of charitable and giving programs that help local food banks, as well as programs with the United Way. How do employees get involved in the company’s CSR efforts? April is our annual company-wide month of service, so we structure half-day volunteering sessions at local food banks. We have our cross-functional teams attend on different days and help sort and pack food for local distribution. We’ve been very happy with how successful the program was this year—the teams were able to sort and pack several thousand pounds of food. In the fall, we have a very successful fundraising program for United Way. Each year, the volunteer leaders are different members from across the team. For the three-week fundraising period, they create new and different opportunities for their colleagues to participate in. The program engenders a strong sense of team and community, and it creates some healthy competition to maximize participation and donation rates.

Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–June 2019



© Conagra Brands. All rights reserved. Questions or comments? 1-800-461-4556


From breakfast options to sweet treats, Conagra Brands is launching a number of new and exciting products, adding to its current portfolio of customer favourites

Healthy Choice All-Day Breakfast Power Bowls Consumers are looking to frozen breakfast entrées for a quick, delicious and nutritious breakfast. The launch of Healthy Choice All-Day Breakfast Power Bowls provides health-conscious, time-starved consumers exactly what they’re seeking in the morning—or anytime. Four flavours are in the lineup: Unwrapped Burrito Scramble, Turkey Sausage & Egg White Scramble, Roasted Red Pepper & Egg White Shakshuka, and Pesto & Egg White Scramble. There are 10 - 15 grams of protein in every bowl and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

Gardein Breakfast Saus’age Patties With the plant-based protein trend going strong, consumers will have a big appetite for this new meatless breakfast option: Gardein Breakfast Saus’age Patties. The product is available in three flavours: original, maple and spicy. Packed with 12 grams of plant-based protein per serving and exploding with flavour, Gardein Breakfast Saus’age Patties are also kosher, vegan and nonGMO verified through the Non-GMO Project.

POGO Breakfast POGO Breakfast is a fun-to-eat addition to the frozen breakfast category. The new product comes in two family-friendly flavours: Maple Flavoured Sausage and Smoky Bacon Sausage wrapped in a biscuit batter, and free from artificial colours and flavours. Convenient and portable, POGO Breakfast is a perfect solution for the crazy family morning rush.

Orville Redenbacher Brown Sugar & Sea Salt Enjoying popcorn just got a little sweeter. Orville Redenbacher’s new ready-to-eat flavour, Brown Sugar & Sea Salt, is made with real brown sugar to deliver a deep cooked sugar and molasses flavour and distinctive mouthfeel. Data shows sweet and salty flavours continue to see strong growth, and these authentic, classic and approachable ingredients are a great fit for the Orville brand.

Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–June 2019

Launching July

Š Conagra Brands. All rights reserved. Questions or comments? 1-800-461-4556


1 Nielsen NAT +NFLD +DR +MM, L52 Weeks PE April 27, 2019, 2 Mintel Attitudes Toward Healthy Eating – Canada, January 2017, 3 Nielsen Strat Planner, Customized Gluten-Free Defined Database, Nat GB+DR+MM, $ Share, L52W PE Mar 30, 2019. 4 Nielsen Panelviews Survey, March 2017 – Canada, 5 IRI, Meat Sticks category, PE April 21, 2019

Snack Pack® Lemon Lime The number-one pudding and gel brand in Canada1 is launching its newest flavour: Lemon Lime. With 89% of Canadian consumers looking for low-sugar options2, Snack Pack Lemon Lime is sure to satisfy with zero grams of sugar per 99g cup. The lemon lime flavour is also on trend, growing triple digits (+266%)1 in the desserts and ice cream category. Enjoyed by everyone from kids to adults, Snack Pack Gels are a hot item in the dessert aisle and the perfect reduced-sugar snacking solution.

Slim Jim, Duke’s and BIGS With more than 90% of Canadians looking to add more protein to their diets4, protein snacks from Slim Jim and Dukes are a great way to meet consumer demand. Duke’s freshly crafted smoked sausages are made with real whole ingredients, no artificial preservatives, no liquid smoke or MSG. Slim Jim, the number-one meat stick in the U.S.5, is now available in Canada. Consumers can also get their snack fix with the latest launch from BIGS Sunflower Seeds. Latest launch: Taco Bell® Taco Supreme® Sunflower Seeds—BIG seeds, BIG flavour.

Glutino: Gluten-Free Snacks Consumers who avoid gluten in their diets don’t have to miss out on delicious treats and snacks. Glutino’s Chocolate Vanilla Crème are the classic sandwich cookie—rich and sweetly satisfying—but gluten-free. Glutino is also the market leader in gluten-free pretzels3, with products in a variety of flavours and sizes. All Glutino products, including pretzels, cookies, breakfast bars, and crackers, are Certified GlutenFree. They taste delicious without sacrificing taste.

VH All-In-One New All-In-One sauces from VH have multiple uses: they can be used for dipping, stir-fry dishes, simmering or as a marinade. Trendy flavours in the line include Honey Sriracha, which combines ingredients like pure honey with a sriracha blend; and Pineapple Jerk, a unique mix of sweet pineapple, savoury allspice and mild chili peppers. These sauces are crafted in Quebec and contain no artificial flavours or colours. They’re also glutenfree. Consumers can enjoy VH All-In-One sauces with a variety of foods, including meats, seafood and vegetables.

Special promotional feature in Canadian GroCer–June 2019

Orville Redenbacher Ready-to-Eat Popcorn Perfectly popped and irresistibly delicious, Orville Redenbacher Readyto-Eat popcorn comes in a variety of flavours including: White Cheddar, made with a new recipe featuring more real cheese; Sea Salt, which is vegan certified; and Sweet and Salty, made with just five ingredients. All products in the RTE lineup are 100% whole grain popcorn, free from artificial colours and flavours, a source of fibre, and gluten-free.


L A U N C H I N G J U LY 2019

© Conagra Brands. All rights reserved. Questions or comments? 1-800-461-4556

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