Next-generation organics Butter bonanza AUGUST 2019
Avril Supermarché Santé’s newest Quebec store is its most ambitious Avril founders Rolland Tanguay & Sylvie Senay
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CONTENTS August 2019
Volume 133 Number 5
15 Front Desk 18 Eating in Canada 50 Checking Out
Avril Supermarché Santé’s new Laval store is the Quebec chain’s most ambitious yet
16 The Buzz
Comings and goings, store openings, awards, events, etc.
18 Johnathan Bonnell and David Gaucher
How the guys behind Wholly Veggie are carving out a unique space in the plant-based market
GROCERS AS HEALTH AND WELLNESS GURUS
11 Meals Made Easy
Longo’s tests new meal kiosks that cater to consumers’ changing needs
26 Consumers are increasingly
13 Telling his story
looking to grocers to guide their path to wellness
A Sobeys worker with autism shares his experiences in a new book
14 Adding more local flavour
AND THE WINNERS ARE…
Teaming up with local restaurants is helping one Calgary Co-op give customers more choices
31 See what products earned a
15 Global grocery
Grand Prix new product award
News and ideas from the world of food retailing
LEADERS IN SUSTAINABLE THINKING
16 Where are they now?
We catch up with past Gen Next award winners to see how their careers have been shaping up
37 How can we overcome
barriers to making mainstream products sustainable?
43 Next-generation organics
With organic foods now firmly mainstream, consumers seek more innovation
47 Better butters
As butter consumption increases, there’s also a boom in new butter offerings
48 Wooing today’s bakers
COVER IMAGE: CHANTALE LECOURS
To meet the evolving demands of home bakers, innovative new ingredients are hitting shelves
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Health and wellness is a big focus at Quebec’s Avril Supermarché Santé
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HELPING WITH HEALTH
Consumers are aspiring to eat and live well, and they want your help achieving this goal
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CHANCES ARE YOU KNOW someone, maybe even within your household, who is either attempting to follow some sort of healthy eating regime (the word diet has gone out of fashion), exercise more or get a handle on their stress? Your customers, growing numbers of them, are certainly aspiring to do all of these things, and according to current research on the matter they are increasingly seeking help at the grocery store. This presents a big opportunity for retailers who step up and deliver on this need. Given how important it is to you and your customers, we’ve given a lot of space to health and wellness in this issue. In “Grocers as Health and Wellness Gurus” (page 26), correspondent Rosalind Stefanac talks to the experts to find out exactly what today’s consumers expect from their grocers. She also looks at strategies—ranging from simple to sophisticated—some retailers are employing to support their customers while at the same time creating a point of differentiation for themselves. According to at least one expert, those retailers who aren’t proactive on health risk losing customers to those that are.
Also in this issue, we go to Quebec to visit Avril Supermarché Santé (page 20). The natural and organic chain puts health and wellness front and centre and its newest location in Laval is truly impressive. We also meet the guys behind Wholly Veggie (page 8) who are carving out a unique space in the plant-based foods market. On another note, the health of our industry relies on a steady stream of new talent. We want to recognize the best up-and-coming talent out there with our Generation Next awards. If you know of an outstanding person, under age 40, working in the retail food industry we’d love to hear about them; simply visit canadiangrocer.com/generation- next to nominate. But don’t wait too long— nominations close on Sept. 20.
Shellee Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief
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August 2019 Canadian Grocer
The latest news in the grocery biz
In late June, Costco celebrated the grand opening of a 182,000-sq.-ft location in St. John’s, N.L., the largest of its warehouses in Canada. (From left to right): Pierre Riel, senior vice-president & general manager, Costco Wholesale Eastern Canada; Gino Dorico, district vice-president, Costco Wholesale Eastern Canada; Jerry Renda, general manager of Costco St. John’s Warehouse; St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen; Nancy Healey, CEO, St. John’s Board of Trade; Brenda Croke, assistant warehouse manager, Costco St. John’s Warehouse
AWARDS/RECOGNITION At its annual Business Summit in Toronto recently, DCI handed out its Star Awards, which recognize key partners and independent retailers. Among this year’s winners (clockwise from top left): Christy McMullen, Summerhill Market (Innovation Award); Jim Bexis, Sun Valley Market (Lifetime Achievement Award); Giancarlo Trimarchi and Nigel Oliver, Vince’s Market (Retailer of the Year); Neil and Martha Kudrinko, Kudrinko’s Ltd. (Social Responsibility Award); Jeff O’Neill, Weston Foods (Leader of the Year); and Bob Brema, William M. Dunne & Associates, who accepted the Partner of the Year Award on behalf of Chapman’s Ice Cream.
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
COSTCO CANADA, SOBEYS, DCI
The 2019 Golden Pencil Award winners have been revealed. The Food Industry Association of Canada has announced that CHRISTIAN BOURBONNIÈRE, executive vice-president and Quebec division head at Metro; CHERYL SMITH, former general manager of Lactalis Parmalat Canada; and TOM BARLOW, former president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers are this year’s recipients of the coveted award. Bourbonnière, Smith and Barlow will be honoured at a ceremony on Nov. 19 at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel.
Sobeys has introduced its CHALO! FRESHCO discount banner to Western Canada. Two stores in Surrey B.C. (Newton and Strawberry Hill) opened in July in former Safeway locations. Chalo! FreshCo, which debuted in Ontario four years ago, offers an expansive South Asian product assortment.
The Anuga food and beverage show will take place Oct. 5 to 9 in Cologne, Germany. For more information visit anuga.com
call for nominations!
We want to hear about the best and brightest individuals working in our industry. If you know a rising star under the age of 40, please take a few minutes to nominate them for Canadian Grocer’s 2019 Generation Next awards at canadiangrocer.com/ generation-next. Don’t delay! The deadline to nominate is Sept. 20.
The Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit runs from Oct. 17 to 19 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif. Visit pma.com for details. Grocery Innovations Canada, presented by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, returns to the Toronto Congress Centre, running Oct. 22 to 23. For more info, visit groceryinnovations.com The Convenience U CARWACS Show heads to Greater Vancouver in 2019, running from Oct. 29 to 30 at Tradex, Abbortsford, B.C. Visit convenienceu.ca for details.
(From left to right): Alain Brisebois, strategic advisor at FoodHero; Carl Pichette, vice-president of marketing for Sobeys Inc. and Jonathan Defoy, founder of FoodHero
IGA has partnered with startup FoodHero to launch a mobile app to fight food waste and offer Quebecers discounts on food approaching its expiration date. After a successful pilot in its Langelier store in Montreal, the program is being introduced at five more stores with a plan to eventually expand it to all of its Quebec stores.
Canadian Grocer’s Thought Leadership CEO Conference plus the Golden Pencil Awards take place on Tuesday Nov. 19 at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Visit canadiangrocer. com and goldenpencil award.com to purchase tickets.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
PepsiCo Foods Canada has announced a leadership change. CARA KEATING, previously the food and beverage giant’s vicepresident of customer development, has been promoted to the role of president. Keating, who has been with the company 15 years, replaces longtime Pepsi exec JASON MCDONELL. PepsiCo Foods Canada has also appointed MIKE LUST as vice-president customer development. Lust has been with the company for 26 years, having held a variety of field and divisional sales and customer roles across Canada and the United States. CLAIRE BARA is joining the management team at A. Lassonde as its executive vice-president and general manager, marketing, trade and product development. Bara, who has previously held positions at Sobeys and Molson Coors, takes over the role from PIERRE L’HEUREUX who is departing the company at the end of August.
Giant Tiger has a new president and COO. PAUL WOOD, previously the discount retailer’s executive vicepresident and CFO, succeeds THOMAS HAIG, who retired in August. LESLIE MACKAY is the new vice-president of sales at Conagra Brands Canada. Most recently, Mackay was director of market development at the food company. Mackay replaces VINCE MENDES DE FRANCA who is now the vice-president of sales at General Mills.
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
Who you need to know
The Facts Who:
Johnathan Bonnell and David Gaucher Position:
Co-founders, Wholly Veggie What’s New?
A new line of upcycled products in partnership with Greenhouse Juice
The founders of Wholly Veggie are carving out a unique space in the burgeoning plantbased foods market By Rebecca Harris Photography by Brooke Schaal
hy is this stuff brown?” That was the question posed to Johnathan Bonnell and David Gaucher by celebrity chef Ted Reader, a.k.a. The Barbecue King, back in June 2016. The budding entrepreneurs were looking to develop a line of plant-based foods, and had asked Reader to lend his culinary expertise. On this particular day, the chef was trying out various plant-based foods Gaucher and Bonnell had bought, and his questioning about why there is texturized soy in everything got them thinking. “Why are brands afraid of putting veggies at the fore of the product? Why are they trying to make them into fake meat?” recalls Gaucher. “Our thinking started shifting towards doing something that is not so highly processed— something that doesn’t take plants and make them into something they’re not meant to be.” Not that they see anything wrong with fake meat. “What companies like Beyond Meat have done is incredible,” says Gaucher. “But we thought we could carve out our own space and go in a different direction, where the product really is just vegetables.” The duo worked with Reader on product development, with the goal to create products that would “celebrate vegetables and make it easier for people to get vegetables on their plate,” says Bonnell. “Our thinking was that if we could convince a meat chef to make a [veggie] product that was edible and tasty to them, we would have won over the toughest critic.” After eight months of recipe testing, the co-founders landed on the final product: “veggie-full patties” in three flavours: Southwest Beet, Sweet Curry Carrot and Herby Garlic Greens. The colourful patties are non-GMO and free from soy, gluten and artificial colours, flavours and ingredients. In February 2017, Wholly Veggie debuted at the CHFA West show in Vancouver—and it was a hit. “Person after person came by and tried our products and said ‘I love it, I want to list it,’” says Bonnell. Today, Wholly Veggie products are sold in 1,500 stores nationwide including Metro, Sobeys, Loblaws, Whole Foods, Goodness Me! and Nature’s Fare Markets. The inspiration behind Wholly Veggie
came, perhaps not ironically, from the meat industry. Bonnell’s career background is in advertising, where he held various strategy roles at top-tier agencies. Gaucher worked as a process mechanics engineer in Laval, Que. before spending five years in Mexico working on his family’s condo-hotel development project. In 2013, Gaucher moved to Toronto and joined an organic meat company. Bonnell joined the following year. “David and I spent the better part of five years working together ... and being on the frontline of the meat business gave us the inspiration to start something that we felt would have a more positive impact for the planet,” says Bonnell. Gaucher gradually went from being a meat eater to becoming vegan during that time, and says one of his main reasons was realizing the environmental impact of meat production. “Prior to that, I just never had the consciousness that eating meat was driving all these challenges for the planet,” he says. Vegans, though, aren’t Wholly Veggie’s main target market. Their core consumer is “flexitarians”—people who are mainly vegetarian but occasionally eat meat. “Our brand is all about being colourful and having fun with vegetables, and not being one of those companies that shames you for eating meat,” says Gaucher. “That would be very hypocritical given our backgrounds and our journey.” Since launching, the company has added two product lines: Veggie Bites in three flavours; Vegan Pizza in three flavours, all made with cauliflower crust; and Vegan Cauliflower Crust for those looking to create their own pizzas. This September, Wholly Veggie is launching a new line of products in partnership with Toronto-based Greenhouse Juice Co. Wholly Veggie is “upcycling” vegetable fibres (which are usually discarded) from Greenhouse’s cold-pressed juice operations, and using them in products such as low-carb pizza. As for the future, Gaucher says, “Wholly Veggie is not a project anymore—it’s a real business and it’s growing quite fast. We don’t know exactly how things will play out, but our goal is to do something positive, have fun doing it, work hard and create a culture where people are happy to be part of that mission.” CG
30 SECONDS WITH...
JOHNATHAN BONNELL & DAVID GAUCHER What was most challenging about starting Wholly Veggie?
GAUCHER: Lack of sleep! Wholly Veggie came to life at the same time as my second daughter Chloe. Like any newborn, a startup doesn’t follow any specific schedule and always has you on call.
What do you like most about being an entrepreneur? BONNELL: The ability to shape your own company culture. I’ve always wanted to create a workplace that people felt good going into every day. At Wholly Veggie, our culture is a living thing that is constantly changing, and having the ability to guide its development is what I find most satisfying.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
GAUCHER: Hakuna Matata. Being an entrepreneur, business will get challenging and emotionally draining, but in the end, you should keep your emotions under control. So long as you keep pushing forward and execute your plan, things tend to come together.
What do you like to do when you’re not working? BONNELL: I like to be in nature. What helps me cope with the stress that comes with being an entrepreneur is going for runs in parks where it’s just me and Mother Nature.
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
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Retailers, suppliers, shoppers, insights
Meals Made Easy Longo’s is testing new meal kiosks that cater to consumers’ changing needs
By David Brown
nspired by the popular meal-in-a-box trend, Longo’s
is testing new “meal based” shopping kiosks at its Maple Leaf Square location in downtown Toronto. Called “Meals Made Easy,” the kiosks provide shoppers everything they need for a complete meal that is healthier than fast-food options, explains John Fiorino, who is leading the kiosk project for Longo’s. However, the kiosks also give shoppers more power to choose the ingredients themselves rather than taking everything that would be included in a boxed meal kit option. According to the Ontario-based grocer, the program was developed in “strategic response” to the changing needs and behaviours of shoppers, and provides a unique and August 2019 Canadian Grocer
The kiosks offer recipe cards shoppers can take home with them
and recipe options. There are also recipe cards shoppers can take home with them. At the moment, Longo’s is posting four options a week: a vegetarian, a fish and a meat option for most of the week, with one of those replaced by an option suited to serving at a dinner party. Currently the program, which launched in late June, is being tested at just one location, but Longo’s has plans to expand the concept across its network
of more than 30 stores by spring 2020. “This program seeks to prepare us for the future of retail,” said Rosanne Longo in a release introducing the new kiosks. “As we carefully examine consumer trends, we know that customers are certainly seeking convenience, but we firmly believe that they also want a human-centred experience where they can browse, see, feel and compare ingredients before purchasing.”
personalized style of grocery shopping. At the kiosks, shoppers can review the recipes and choose the ingredients—produce, meats, starches and garnishes— based on how many people are eating, whether it’s a meal for one or a large dinner party of 10. “In a box, you don’t even see what you are getting sometimes,” says Fiorino. Or else you may not need everything in the box if you have some of the ingredients at home already. There is no additional cost to using the kiosks since the ingredients are priced the same as anywhere else in the store, just brought together for the sake of convenience. “You are shopping the store, but all in one spot,” he said. The three kiosks are each about four feet by nine feet, and located near the prepared foods section of the store. Each kiosk is equipped with a refrigerator on the bottom with shelving to hold more ingredients, while a digital screen sits above the kiosks that presents the menu
IDEAS INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY
TELLING HIS STORY Michael Jacques is a long-time Sobeys worker. He also has autism and an intellectual disability, and he’s written a book about his experiences By Carol Neshevich michael jacques loves his job at Sobeys
so much, he’ll often come in on his days off to help out. “They’re like a second family to me,” he says of his co-workers at the Fonthill, Ont. Sobeys store where he’s worked for nearly nine years. The 27-year-old Jacques, who has autism and an intellectual disability, travelled to various Sobeys locations in Ontario and Nova Scotia this summer promoting his book, Can’t Read, Can’t Write, Here’s My Book. Written using speech-totext on an iPad, it tells his life story with a particular focus on the importance of inclusion and hard work. Accompanying him on the tour was father Marcel, who was quick to praise Ron Kore, the store’s franchisee, for taking the time to learn Jacques’ style to get the best from him. “When he first started out, they showed him what to do and how to do it, because with Michael, you can’t just tell him, you’ve got to show him,” he explains. Jacques says he does “everything at the store except for [things involving] knives and money.” He admits he can sometimes be a bit clumsy so working with knives would not be a good idea, and that he has no concept of money. “It doesn’t mean anything to me. So if I worked the cash, the store would be bankrupt,” he jokes. Heather DeBlois, Sobeys’ director of diversity and inclusion, says accommodations like this are common at the retailer. “When we hire individuals with disabilities, we look at what they are able to do, not what they can’t do,” she says. “We focus on their abilities and their strengths.” And in Jacques’ case, by focusing on his strengths, Fonthill Sobeys earned his loyalty. “I couldn’t ask for a more loyal and dedicated employee than Michael,” says Kore, in a media release. Sobeys encourages hiring individuals
Michael Jacques (right) with father Marcel Jacques
with disabilities, something DeBlois says is driven organizationally and at store level. “Stores across our network actively promote and demonstrate inclusive hiring practices. They partner with community organizations to understand individual abilities, and how Sobeys can accommodate and support successful employee experiences,” she says. “Then organizationally, we share those stories across the organization to raise awareness and encourage managers and leaders to hire diverse talent.” The benefits of such hiring practices are many, she adds, including lower employee turnover and improved customer satisfaction. “We know that hiring people with disabilities helps improve our store environment and the customer experience,” she says, “so it’s a win-win scenario for the store and for the valued employees.” Jacques’ book is available at Sobeys stores throughout Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and he is donating part of the proceeds to Special Olympics Canada and Community Living Ontario.
High expectations In the run up to the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada last October, there were big expectations for the market and big investments along with it. Most Canadians (78% according to Ipsos research) believed legal ization would boost consumption of cannabis. But nine months down the line, “we see penetration didn’t take off as the capital markets expected,” said Michael Rodenburgh, executive vicepresident, Canada at Ipsos on its “A future with Cannabis” webinar recently. About 16% of Canadians are using cannabis each month, according to recent Ipsos figures. That’s up from 13% to 14% at the time of legalization. As we approach the legalizing of edibles (this fall), Ipsos looked how that market might shape up. Here are a few insights on edibles:
12% of the time cannabis
is consumed, the format used is edibles, representing an uptick (these are edibles either made at home or illegally obtained) Preferred categories Ipsos surveyed consumers in the U.S.—considered ahead of Canada in terms of adoption—to get an indication of the cannabis products that might appeal to Canadian users. “Other” beverages, soft drinks, food/baked goods, coffee/ tea and water were among the preferred mediums to consume CBD for health benefits, and recreational THC for an altered mental state
47% of Canadian cannabis users
say they choose edibles because they believe they’re healthier (than smoking), while 40% think edibles are a more convenient format SOURCE: IPSOS
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
Adding local flavour A Calgary Co-op has teamed up with local restaurants to serve up more options for customers By Erin Lawrence enticing customers to stay in a store
longer is good business. Many grocers are stepping up their game and investing in the right decor, lighting and food products to deliver a shopping experience that will keep customers coming back. One Calgary Co-op store is aiming to do this by collaborating with two of the city’s popular restaurants. The West Springs Calgary Co-op has partnered with the restaurateurs behind
popular fried chicken joint Cluck N Cleaver and Spolumbo’s Fine Foods and Deli, opening two standalone kiosks inside the store in July. “By partnering with local businesses, we are able to uniquely differentiate ourselves and provide our members with convenience, an outstanding assortment of products, and exceptional experiences,” says Penney McTaggart-Cowan, vice-president, marketing and member experiences at Calgary Co-op. The Spolumbo’s and Cluck N Cleaver kiosks will both operate independently from the grocery store. Each will have its own unique decor, and both will maintain their own cash registers. “Co-op wanted to offer great quality local food to their clientele, things that people can grab quickly, but that are still good quality,” explains Francine Gomes, a co-owner of Cluck N Cleaver. At the Cluck N Cleaver counter, Co-op customers can find all the favourites they’d expect from the restaurant’s flagship location. “It will be a true Cluck N Cleaver,” with offerings like fresh
French-style rotisserie chicken and crispy fried chicken, she says. The restaurant collaboration is a first for Calgary Co-op, but McTaggart-Cowan says supporting local is part of Co-op’s spirit. “When we approached these two local entrepreneurs it was with the knowledge this would be a fantastic fit,” she explains. “With recent trends in the food industry there is a consistent focus on unique offerings for consumers. This partnership will allow for a more engaging customer experience and will help move our brand forward.”
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News and ideas from the world of food retail MEAT-FREE BUTCHERS
To mark World Meat Free Week in June, Sainsbury’s launched what
it called the U.K.’s first meat-free butcher. The London shop served up roasts, sausages and “meaty” cuts derived from 100% plantbased alternatives. The grocer says it has seen a 65% increase in sales of plant-based products year-on-year with sales doubling in the last year. The butcher shop was designed to highlight how far vegan food has come and the breadth of choice now available.
TRANSPARENCY AT THE SHELF U.S. grocer Raley’s has taken the guesswork out of label reading. The chain has expanded its Shelf Guide program, intro duced in 2017, to include 23 health and lifestyle icons that help shoppers easily recognize whether a product meets their criteria in terms of ingredients, nutrition or processing. Raley’s partnered with Label Insight to evolve the Shelf Guide program.
Good Cause bags
SAINSBURY’S, RALEY’S, WAITROSE, GIANT FOOD, TESCO
BREAD’S SECOND ACT Surplus bread is a big source of waste at grocery, with food waste action group WRAP estimating unsold bakery items account for nearly a third of the U.K.’s total retail food waste. Tesco has devised a plan to cut bread waste by turning its surplus baguettes and batons into new products such as bread pudding and crostini. The upcycled bread items are being sold at 24 of the chain’s stores, and if successful will be rolled out across its network of nearly 4,000 locations. Tesco says the move has the potential of cutting its waste of those breads by 40%.
Giant Food has launched a simple, yet inspired initiative to help local communities and the planet. The U.S.-based grocer’s Community Bag Program aims to “empower” customers to support local nonprofit organizations while reducing single-use paper and plastic waste. For each Community Bag they purchase (for $2.50), customers can designate a $1 donation to a local nonprofit by locating a unique code on the Giving Tag attached to the bag and entering it at mygiantfoodcause.com. Customers can select from 2,500 nonprofits active in the areas Giant Food serves.
Waitrose Unpacked refill zones
At one of its London locations, Waitrose & Partners is testing a dedicated refillable area where shoppers can buy a range of package-free goods. Among the items offered in the Waitrose Unpacked zone are 160 loose fruit and vegetables, detergent and dish soap liquid refillables, coffee refills, as well as a range of everyday essentials such as pasta, rice and cereals. Shoppers also have the option to borrow a box for their refills. Packaged products will remain available at the store, allowing Waitrose to study how shoppers will behave when offered the two choices: unpackaged or packaged. The pilot program is part of the U.K. retailer’s efforts to eliminate unnecessary plastic and packaging and help it “determine how customers might be prepared to shop differently in the future.” August 2019 Canadian Grocer
Where are they now?
Canadian Grocer launched its Generation Next Awards back in 2011 to recognize the rising stars, under age 40, in Canada’s grocery industry. Recently, we caught up with a few past winners to see what they’ve been up to since winning their Gen Next awards By Shellee Fitzgerald MATTHEW FEAVER
Shopper Insights Manager at Campbell Company of Canada
Vice-president of product and customer at HelloFresh Canada and Chefs Plate
What’s changed in your career since winning the Gen Next Award?
So much! After winning, I went to the University of Michigan Ross School of Business where I earned my MBA, and from there, I joined McKinsey and Co. as a consultant. At McKinsey, I learned how to handle C-suite level challenges while being data-driven and focusing on getting to results quickly. I went on to join BMO, where I led the rebuild of their customer experience measurement system. From there, I was afforded the opportunity to rejoin the food industry, my first love in business, with HelloFresh ... Since our acquisition of Chefs Plate in November of 2018, I’ve been fortunate enough to lead the product across two of the leading meal kit providers in Canada.
Describe what you do?
I lead a diverse team whose roles range from chefs to data scientists. We use all the feedback from our customers to develop and refine our recipes so we are constantly improving and innovating with new product offerings.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“Perfect is the enemy of done.” Make a decision and execute it; don’t wait to have perfect data and a 100% proven plan.
Store manager, Metro Humber Bay Park, Metro Ontario
E-commerce operations director, Metro Ontario
What’s changed in your career since you won the Gen Next award?
About a year after winning the Generation Next Award I was presented with an opportunity to enter the world of online grocery with Metro as director of e-commerce operations.
What do you do in your current role?
I monitor day-to-day operations to continually improve order fulfillment performance, reduce costs while building the long-term strategy and capabilities of our program. I also oversee all operational areas of the online grocery business including in-store fulfillment, replenishment, and store-related e-commerce operations.
What do you like best about your job?
Having the ability to build a program from day one has been unbelievable. Being a part of Metro’s entrance into online grocery has been an amazing growing experience.
What career advice would you give to someone starting out today?
Jump in with two feet, make mistakes, and learn every day. Grocery retail is a fast paced and exciting environment; there is no better place to work!
Founder and CEO of Fresh City Farms
Still CEO of Fresh City Farms, which recently acquired Toronto specialty food retailer, The Healthy Butcher
What’s changed since you won the Generation Next Award?
We have doubled down on creating an in-house agile capability to make our own products. We now make a full spectrum of fresh natural and organic products stretching from salads, to snacks, to smoothies, to baguettes. And whereas in 2016 we were online only, we are now in the midst of an aggressive push into omnichannel retail with eight stores and counting under our umbrella.
What career advice would you give to someone starting out in the business? In business being successful is often less to do with how smart you are than whether you survive long enough to learn from your mistakes.
What’s your favourite thing about working in this industry?
It is very dynamic. Most people think grocery is boring. But in many ways it is a pinnacle of human achievement if you think of what has to happen to keep our stores stocked. It is both an art and a science. And I think food retailers can and must be at the forefront of so many of our society’s challenges over the coming decades. You name it, grocery will need to be involved—good jobs, climate change, plastic packaging, biodiversity.
GENERATION NEXT 2019 – CALL FOR NOMINATIONS! Do you know a rising star in the grocery industry? Nominate at canadiangrocer.com/generation-next 16
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
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EATING IN CANADA
GETTING TO KNOW LOWER-INCOME CONSUMERS
Understanding the needs of these value-seeking Canadians has never been more critical WITH A VARIETY OF socioeconomic factors placing pressures on Canadian wallets, it’s critical to the future success of retailers, manufacturers and foodservice operators to understand the evolving needs of value-seeking consumers. Higher interest rates, skyrocketing real estate prices and a record-high debt burden are taking a toll on Canadian spending patterns. However, despite the now larger proportion of Canadian consumers living in lower-income households (up 1% versus 2015), the trend towards local, organic and less processed points to a shift in their importance in the re-defining of Canadian food values. Ipsos’ tracking studies FIVE and Foodservice Monitor (FSM) provide a unique view of how lower-income Canadians* are navigating choices in the ever-changing food and beverage marketplace. Maturing millennials, many of whom have young kids, represent the largest share of lower-income households and represent considerable opportunity for marketers to appeal to “family” needs. Visible minority Canadians, many of whom are in the process of establishing roots in the community, are also more likely to be in lower-income households. A common misconception is that those in lower-income households are less likely to prioritize health, nutrition and quality in their food and beverage choices. In reality, these consumers are as likely to opt for food and beverage options that meet requirements of being healthy and nutritious, fresh,
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
less-processed and locally-sourced as their more affluent neighbours. Not surprisingly, these thrift-conscious consumers do opt for products that provide cost savings and value, but they are also seeking options that satisfy multiple purposes, align with weight loss goals or alleviate boredom. Lower-income consumers are also less likely to consume organic and premium options with higher price tags. And they are more concerned about calories and protein attributes than they are about sugar and salt/sodium content. When evaluating the top food choices in Ipsos’ data, lower-income household consumers report eating less than their fair share of fresh fruits and vegetables but more than their fair share of frozen and packaged/canned options, perhaps motivated by heightened concerns over cost and perishability. Lower-income consumers eat similar rates of meat protein compared to the total market, led by chicken, and also similar rates of protein alternatives, led by eggs, confirming this group’s focus on protein. They’re also more likely to treat themselves with snack-oriented choices like chocolate, potato chips and candy. Compared to the total population, lower-income consumers—particularly those in non-senior households—drink more carbonated soft drinks, fruit juices and iced tea, and consume less beer and wine. This shift in alcohol consumption, together with this group’s rising use of cannabis for recreational purposes,
could pose future challenges for the alcohol beverage industry. Looking at food preparation habits, those in lower-income households are less likely to prepare fully-homemade dishes, even at the all-important dinner occasion, opting instead for partially homemade solutions and ready-made heat-and-eat options. Providing a wider assortment of value-priced nearly-ready to eat dishes specifically targeted to dinner is a significant opportunity. Today, one in five meal occasions among lower-income household consumers are sourced from foodservice establishments and, similar to the eating habits of all Canadians, the movement away from home is a growing trend within this group (+2% versus 2016). Finally, when evaluating where and how lower-income consumers shop for food and beverages, we see they are more likely than other consumers to shop at mass merchandisers, dollar stores and ethnic grocery stores. With a propensity to buy more unplanned items, especially during spur of the moment trips, these consumers are more likely to engage in multiple re-stock or emergency trips throughout the week rather than a weekly major grocery shop. As the Canadian economy continues its rocky path, understanding and meeting the needs of value-seeking consumers in lower-income households has never been more critical. The business of thrift, frugality and economizing is alive and well and is increasingly important to lower-income consumers. They should not be overlooked or discounted. CG * LOWER-INCOME CANADIANS ARE DEFINED AS INDIVIDUALS FROM 1-PERSON HOUSEHOLDS <25K + 2-PERSON HOUSEHOLDS <$35K + 3+ PERSON HOUSEHOLDS <$45K.
Kathy Perrotta is a VP of Marketing with Ipsos Canada and leads the FIVE service, a daily diary tracking of what individuals ate and drank yesterday across all categories/ brands, occasions and venues. Kathy.email@example.com
The fast-growing natural and organic chain’s Laval store is its most ambitious customers need only look up when they enter
the Avril Supermarché Santé in Laval, Que. to determine they’re in no ordinary grocery store. Once they do, they’ll see an automated vertical farming platform with multiple superimposed trays on which a number of microgreen varieties grow in-store. Grown year-round, the microgreens are for sale at the store and used at the in-house restaurant. Avril is the first Quebec retailer to create the suspended greenhouse. The goal “was to give customers an experience” and to overcome the “freshness challenge” of microgreens, says co-founder and co-owner Rolland Tanguay. It’s just one of the ways the natural and organic grocer is differentiating itself from its mainstream competition. Located in suburban Montreal’s Centre Laval shopping mall in a space formerly occupied by Target, the 44,000-sq.-ft. store, which opened last year, is Avril’s eighth and biggest yet. The store’s inspired design has also been racking up awards from the likes of U.S.-based Retail Design Institute and PID, a design promotion agency. Avril has come a long way from the tiny, 1,000- sq.-ft. store Tanguay and his partner and wife Sylvie Senay opened in Granby, Que., 24 years ago. Back then the store was called Panier Santé (health basket). By the time they were ready to launch a second location, its founders were seeking a more original and free-spirited name for the stores, so they hired a communication firm to come up with one. The
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
Rolland Tanguay and Sylvie Senay opened their new est and largest Avril location in Laval, Que. in June 2018
By Danny Kucharsky || Photography by Chantale Lecours
NATURAL WONDER August 2019 Canadian Grocer
COVER STORY Avril name (April in English) “evokes springtime and renewal,” Tanguay explains. “We couldn’t have a better name. Everybody remembers it.” When the couple opened the first store as a hobby, while Senay was taking a break from her banking job, they discovered they were a bit ahead of their time. “We were a bit marginal.” In those days, there was little in the way of organic produce, aside from carrots. “People looked at us a bit sideways,” Tanguay recalls. Such reactions, he adds jokingly, shouldn’t have surprised them. “In the past, we thought we were eating well if we had a coffee and a muffin at Tim Hortons,” he jokes. But as the business approached its 10-year mark, Tanguay recalls that Quebecers had become much more interested and knowledgeable about organic food. And today, the appetite for organics continues to grow. The independent grocer has plans to open one new store a year and “we could open stores every week, there’s so much demand,” says Tanguay. The Laval store is about double the size of a typical Avril location and represents a $10-million investment for the company, which generates $130 million in annual sales. Tanguay says 10% of the store’s cost went toward research and development for the impressive vertical farm. “It was a bit challenging to build it. It was quite a process to start from zero and to create a finished product.” However, the greenhouse is a
The Facts Location
Laval, Quebec Size
44,000 sq. ft. Specialties
Organic and natural items; vertical farming platform; electronic shelf labels; 130-seat restaurant
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
At 44,000 sq. ft., the Laval store is double the size of a typical Avril location; (left) it’s the first Avril to have a fresh fish counter; (below) the 130-seat grocerant features vegetarian fare, pizza and more
(Above) Avril’s controlled lighting, func tional layout and other impressive design features have earned it awards from the Retail Design Institute and PID, a Quebec-based design promotion agency
big hit with customers and has contributed to an excellent in-store ambience, he says. The Laval location represents a new concept for the retailer, one that took three years to create. “We entirely changed the furniture, the lighting, the restaurant,” explains Tanguay. “It took several consultants in restaurants, design and lighting to create a model that will serve [us] for the next 10 years.” Aside from the vertical farming platform, the biggest difference from the chain’s other stores is the 130-seat “grocerant,” which also features a patio with 48 seats for customers to enjoy in the warmer months. “It’s an important step in our growth strategy.” The restaurant features vegetarian fare, pizza, roasted chicken and more—all organic and all made in-store. “It’s rare for a grocery [store] to have this,” says Tanguay. But he sees investments in these areas now are key, believing that in the coming years the battle at grocery stores will be won with in-store restaurants, ready-to-eat fare and house brands. Located close to the Laurentian Autoroute (Highway 15), the restaurant fills up quickly at lunchtime. “That’s how we’ll succeed. We’ve created an atmosphere where you feel good. Even when it’s full, you can hear one another talk.” From top to bottom, the bright, airy store is all about the special details, from its electronic shelf
labels to LED lighting and heated vinyl flooring that looks like hardwood. The floors are heated entirely with energy generated from the store’s refrigeration system. “It provides customers with comfort in the winter and helps control humidity in store.” At the exit, the store has established a single lineup system at the cash where waiting customers are directed to the first available of the nine cash registers. “It’s the best system,” says Tanguay, noting it’s proven so efficient that it will be instituted across all of the locations. Avril’s owners have also invested in its private brands, including the Rolland Naturellement line of French and Spanish wines; the Naturellementbio line, which includes everything from nuts to figs to canned tomatoes; and Naturellement Gourmet, which includes specialty products like gelato, balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. Tanguay says organic fare at Avril costs less than it does at competing stores. “We’re the biggest buyer of organic fruits and vegetables in Quebec,” he says. “Quality products with very competitive prices—that’s our battlefront.” The Laval store is the first to have a fresh fish counter, featuring sustainably sourced fish. Gelato and dessert counters are also new features, with gelato made using traditional Italian techniques August 2019 Canadian Grocer
and gluten-free pastries among the offerings. While the store sells chicken, there is no butcher shop. “It’s less and less a trend,” Tanguay says. “When I was young, we ate meat five times a day. Today, I eat it maybe once a week.” Tanguay says expectations for the Laval store were conservative but have been easily surpassed. The outlet is Avril’s best performer. Avril’s next store, scheduled to open next year at Promenades Saint-Bruno on the South Shore of Montreal, will be the same size as the Laval store. Avril has yet to open on the island of Montreal, with Tanguay citing the city’s high taxes, lack of parking and proximity of the Laval and South Shore stores as reasons. However, he insists Montreal will have an Avril store within the next five years. Avril will likely open one new store in Quebec annually for the next five years and will then look to the Ontario market (with Ottawa being the first target). The fact Senay and Tanguay maintain 100% ownership of Avril is key to its success, he says. “We’re two people with different qualities. My wife is very customer service [oriented], very public, a perfectionist, detail-oriented. I’m an entrepreneur, a bit of a visionary. When you put it together, it makes for a recipe that you can’t recreate. I think that’s the Avril secret—the combination of our two characters, our two strengths.” CG
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
Gelato and dessert counters, a selfserve kombucha station, and a natural and organic cosmetics section are all highlights of Avril’s Laval location
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In seeking better health overall, it’s the grocery store consumers are turning to
TA L H E ALT
GROCERS AS HEALTH By Rosalind Stefanac
EX keto, paleo, low-sugar and vegan diets are just
a few of the trends garnering media attention for their health benefits in 2019. In 2020, there are bound to be others. But while Canadians may be fickle with their food fads year to year, the one constant theme they keep coming back to is much more holistic: finding a balanced lifestyle that incorporates health and wellness. According to the second annual Health and Wellness in Canada survey, produced by Toronto-based Pearl Strategy & Innovation Design Inc., eating healthier, aging well, staying mentally sharp and exercising more are top of mind for Canadians in 2019. Aligned with these findings are the latest reports from U.K.-based IGD, which show that 94% of shoppers have an interest in health generally and 88% are actively looking to improve their diet in some way. This means eating more fruits and vegetables, reducing sugar and drinking more fluids. Best of all, 70% of shoppers say they would like more information from food and grocery companies to inspire them to make healthier choices. Once the domain of specialty health stores and fresh food markets, consumers are turning to grocery stores more than ever before to fulfill their health and wellness needs. The question now is whether grocers are up to the challenge. “Health and wellness is vitally important for shoppers, governments and retailers … but aspirations
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
E RCI SE
don’t always translate into action,” says Nick Gladding, IGD’s senior business analyst. That’s why supporting shoppers to fulfill these goals will continue to be a major priority for both retailers and suppliers, he says. “Retailers and brands are looking to differentiate themselves by helping shoppers and consumers live healthier lives through advice both online and in-store.” In fact, he says, retailers who aren’t proactive on health risk losing customers to those that are, simply because healthier choices are becoming increasingly expected by consumers. And when customers feel supported in their overall health, they’ll keep coming back. Gladding also notes there are a number of ways the industry, as a whole, can better address consumers’ unmet needs related to health and wellness. These include helping consumers better understand nutrition labels, working on portion sizes and making healthy foods as affordable as possible. Susan Weaver, managing director at Pearl Strategy, believes the health and wellness category presents enormous potential for grocers. “Food is the No. 1 category for health and wellness so grocers have a very big opportunity here—even more so
HEALTH & WELLNESS
U C AT I O N
AP P S
& WELLNESS GURUS I N G C L AS
than doctors,” she says. “Plus, only 20% of Canadians are very or completely satisfied with their personal health and wellness, which reveals a big gap that retailers can help them with.” Beyond just nutrition, the re search shows an increasing focus by consumers to nurture their mental health. Weaver points to survey results that show millennials, in particular, are putting greater emphasis on avoiding/reducing stress and improving mental health compared to other demographics. “I think the younger generation gets it because they’ve been exposed to these messages a lot more and see lots of stars and influencers talking about mental health,” explains Weaver. “We also know there are foods and supplements that are good for mental health, promote sleep, etc., that [grocery retailers] could be focusing on.” With the millennial set, Weaver says it’s critical for grocers to have a solid website because this demographic is looking to retailer sites as sources of information more than any other. “Retailers need to ensure any promotion or communication of healthy products is shareable, particularly on social media,” she says.
TARGETING THE NEXT GENERATION Another area where analysts say grocers could have a huge impact is in overturning the perception of health as boring, especially as a way to encourage children to eat better. IGD’s Gladding points to Australian grocer Coles partnering with Healthy Kids Australia to offer a collection of 24 fruit- and vegetable-themed figurines. One Strikeez character is offered for every $30 spent and the promotion includes a “Rainbow Challenge” checklist to encourage families to track their fruit and vegetable intake. To that end, Ontario-based natural food chain Goodness Me! is rolling out a program this fall that targets students. Its Healthy Living Educators (who are holistic nutritionists, dietitians and educators) will be visiting schools and communities to talk about cooking skills, menu planning, organic farming and sustainability. This initiative complements the grocer’s already robust in-store education offering of innovative cooking classes, yoga and other wellness sessions on topics such as how to boost your mental health. Beyond even food and wellness, the grocer is looking to implement classes that touch on other topics impacting health such as budgeting and future financial planning. “We have a reputation and brand now that says we are consistently growing everyone’s understanding of what it takes to be healthy,” says CEO Bruce Beacham. “There’s something here August 2019 Canadian Grocer
HEALTH & WELLNESS to learn for everyone, even those who have already been eating healthy for the last decade.” For those grocers who are only starting to put health and wellness on their radar, analysts and grocery veterans say there are still a number of ways to meet consumers’ unmet needs without breaking the bank or exhausting resources [see opposite page for examples]. “Trends come and go, but consumers are increasingly more vested in their health and that’s not going away,” says Longo’s category manager Lisa Warszawski. “If you stand in a store and watch consumers, they’re not just grabbing a package and putting it in their cart anymore—they’re looking at the grams of sugar, sodium and carbohydrates they’ll be consuming with this product.” It’s this heightened focus on health that prompted Longo’s to launch its Living Well initiative. A clearly marked section within several of its stores, it features more than 1,000 health and wellness products, ranging from plant-based proteins to “better for you” snacks. Living Well is now available in six stores with more on the horizon, and the size of the space varies by location. At Choices Market in Vancouver, free store nutrition tours have become a popular service, says the grocer’s nutrition operations manager Hanna Rakowska. “Customers will sign up online or in store and get a 60-minute tour with our dietitian or nutritionist around all sections,” she says. “We
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cater to what they want to focus on, such as gluten-free options or cancer prevention.” Rakowska says the demographics on these tours vary widely and most definitely influence the focus. She notes, for instance, that there are a large number of people living in British Columbia who are 35 years or younger that identify as vegan or vegetarian, while “the 40-year-old with a family is athletic and looking for healthy ‘grab and go’ options.” Rakowska believes there is still a huge gap in knowledge that grocers can help eradicate when it comes to healthy eating. “It’s really interesting that our leading cause of death in North America is chronic diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer), and that the No. 1 risk factor for all of these is diet,” she says. To that end, Choices will be working with the City of Vancouver this year in developing future food policies that focus on sustainable, healthy diets. Price, too, is another aspect of the health and wellness category that grocers can play a part in. “Our latest research shows that the biggest barrier for even those consumers committed to health and wellness is price,” says Shelley Balanko, senior vice-president at The Hartman Group, which recently released a report and podcast on trends in health and wellness. “Retailers have the power of private label and that’s a strong avenue to connect [with shoppers],” she says. “More consumers appreciate private label now and they recognize that it can be an option for high-quality, healthy food.” Finally, overall store design can even be a factor in consumers’ health and wellness needs. Beyond providing dedicated spaces for products and staffing healthcare experts to guide shoppers, Balanko says grocers should be thinking about how to make the entire shopping experience less mentally taxing. “In the U.S., for the first time ever, stress and anxiety have overtaken weight management as primary concerns,” she says. Those [grocers] doing it right don’t have beach chairs crowding the front entrance, or bulky end caps creating barriers to movement, she notes. Balanko advises grocers to consider what might be causing stress in the shopping experience and then do whatever they can to minimize it. “You want to provide a nice store flow and experience, and If you have a point of view about health and wellness, consider curating products category by category and being transparent about why you’re choosing them so consumers don’t have to do as much thinking,” says Balanko. “Sometimes even too much choice is overwhelming.”
• Waitrose in the United
Kingdom has been experimenting with ways to support healthier lifestyles, including training staff to be healthy eating specialists, hosting in-store yoga classes, producing a health-focused magazine, and introducing its own nutritional Good Health marque on products.
• Raley’s in the United States
is giving prime placement to cereals with less added sugar, and relegating cereals with 25% of total calories coming
from added sugar to the bottom shelf. Clear, colourcoded labelling has been developed so shoppers can easily identify different cereal types.
• Colruyt’s SmartWithFood app
in Belgium lets shoppers enter their personal health goals and requirements. When the shopper scans a bar code in-store, the app tells them if it’s suitable—or provides healthier alternatives. The app is free via Google Play and the App store.
• ICA Sweden champions
healthier choices around seasonal events. That could mean offering samples of “scary” fruits and vegetables around Halloween or bringing products to life by making them into fun characters.
If you build it • Consider implementing a 21-day healthy eating and promote it, challenge, providing healthy they will come food options, recipe ideas and I f you’re thinking supplement options that will about making your get shoppers excited about retail space more of making a change. Promote this a health and wellness on your flyers and website. destination, here are some ways to • When communicating a health get started: theme, use big categories to
GRAPHICS FOR THIS FEATURE: GETTY IMAGES/ENIS AKSOY
• Merchandise healthy food
options at key “reset” times of the year, such as January, June and September. Feature eye-catching displays, sales and samples to get shoppers inspired to try new things and eat healthier.
• Connect with a local nutritionist or dietitian (if you don’t have one on staff) to provide store tours and workshops to help shoppers plan healthier meals and address other health and wellness needs. Promote these activities in-store and on your website well in advance.
draw people in (e.g., pasta, rice, cereal) but then educate them on other categories such as vegetables, pulses or nuts that they can incorporate into their meal planning.
COLOGNE, GERMANY, OCT. 5-9, 2019
Supporting a healthier lifestyle A sampling of what grocers abroad are trying in-store to woo health-conscious consumers:
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• Ensure your grab-and-go
meals have plenty of healthy options, including plant-based foods—and provide prominent signage to highlight them.
Secure admission tickets at www.anuga.com/tickets
• Consider sponsoring a local
sports team or sporting event to show your support for active living; encourage school tours in store. CG
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Grand Prix winners
the best of THE BEST
A pizza crust made of cauliflower, vegan smoothies packed with protein and a dark roast peanut butter are among the 40 products that have earned the distinction of becoming winners of the 26th edition of the Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards. Presented by the Retail Council of Canada, the coveted annual awards celebrate innovation and excellence in consumer goods. NATIONAL BRANDS FOOD Duncan Hines Perfect Size for 1 CONAGRA BRANDS winner: Baking Needs & Dried Bakery Apple & Eve Vegan Protein Smoothie A. LASSONDE INC. winner: Beverages Adams Dark Roast SMUCKER FOODS OF CANADA CORP. winner: Condiments & Sauces Grab & Go Collection CHOCOLAT LAMONTAGNE INC. winner: Confectionery & Shelf Stable Desserts Nordica Smooth Dips GAY LEA FOODS CO-OPERATIVE LTD. WINNER: Dairy — Milk, Yogurt, Cheese & Spreadables » August 2019 Canadian Grocer
Grand Prix winners
NATIONAL BRANDS FOOD cont’d Organic Sliced Chicken and Turkey Deli YORKSHIRE VALLEY FARMS winner: Deli Meats and Cheeses Cauliflower Pizza Crust OGGI FOODS INC. winner: Frozen or Refrigerated Prepared Foods & Entrees Riced Cauliflower BONDUELLE WINNER: Fruits, Vegetables and Produce — Fresh, Refrigerated or Frozen
NATIONAL BRANDS NON-FOOD
Sous Chef Kits CEDAR BAY GRILLING COMPANY WINNER: Meat, Egg & Seafood — Fresh, Refrigerated or Frozen
Papyrus - Gemmed Thank You CARLTON CARDS winner: General Merchandise
The Spice Tailor Daal THE SPICE TAILOR LIMITED winner: Shelf Stable Prepared Foods & Entrees
Live Clean Mineral Clay Rebalancing Shampoo & Conditioner HAIN CELESTIAL CANADA winner: Hair Care
Sanissimo Chia & Flax BIMBO CANADA winner: Snack — Savoury
GUM Activital Sonic Deep Clean SUNSTAR AMERICAS INC. (CANADA) winner: Health Care — Oral Hygiene
Kashi JOI - Nut Bars and Energy Nut Bars KASHI COMPANY winner: Snack — Sweet
Biosync 24h Continuous Release NAMËNA BIOSCIENCES winner: Health Care — OTC
SPECIAL AWARDS Cauliflower Pizza Crust OGGI FOODS INC. winner: All Canadian
SodaStream Black Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water Maker SODASTREAM winner: Household Products Easy-Blends Fruit & Vegetable Mix WALMART CANADA winner: Overall Consumer Value
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
Nordica Smooth Dips GAY LEA FOODS CO-OPERATIVE LIMITED winner: Innovation and Originality
The Spice Tailor Daal THE SPICE TAILOR LIMITED winner: Innovative Packaging
Alcan Non-Stick REYNOLDS CONSUMER PRODUCTS CANADA INC. winner: Paper, Plastic & Foil Beyond Natural Pet Food NESTLÉ PURINA PETCARE winner: Pet Needs »
Grand Prix winners
PRIVATE LABEL FOOD
Great Value Greek Yogurt Dips WALMART CANADA winner: Dairy — Milk, Yogurt, Cheese & Spreadables Irresistibles Ice Cream Bars METRO INC. winner: Desserts — Fresh, Refrigerated or Frozen
Irresistibles Tree-Shaped Log METRO INC. winner: Bakery Fresh — Par-baked
Co-op Gold Potstickers FEDERATED CO-OPERATIVES LIMITED winner: Frozen or Refrigerated Prepared Foods & Entrees
Irresistibles Carbonated Spring Water METRO INC. winner: Beverages Sensations by Compliments Spirited Mickie BBQ Sauce SOBEYS INC. winner: Condiments & Sauces
Great Value Easy-Blends Fruit & Vegetable Mix WALMART CANADA winner: Fruit, Vegetable & Produce — Fresh, Refrigerated or Frozen
Our Finest Fudge Selection WALMART CANADA winner: Confectionery & Shelf Stable Desserts
2 6 T H
Co-op Gold PURE Fillets FEDERATED CO-OPERATIVES LIMITED
winner: Meat, Egg & Seafood —
Fresh, Refrigerated or Frozen
Sensations by Compliments Extra Crunchy Kettle-Cooked Potato Chips SOBEYS INC. winner: Snack — Savoury Irresistibles Naturalia Granola Cereals METRO INC. winner: Snack — Sweet
Personnelle Microfilter Nasal Wash System METRO INC. winner: Health Care — OTC PADERNO Dutch Ovens, 6.2L CANADIAN TIRE CORPORATION winner: Household Products
PRIVATE LABEL NON-FOOD Personnelle Teething METRO INC. winner: Baby Care
NOMA Advanced Constant-Lit Cluster Lights (Light Show) CANADIAN TIRE CORPORATION winner: General Merchandise
Co-op Gold PURE FEDERATED CO-OPERATIVES LIMITED winner: Personal Care Pure Balance Freeze Dried Treats for Dogs WALMART CANADA winner: Pet Needs
A N N U A L
• • • • •
VEGAN GLUTEN FREE DAIRY FREE GREAT FRUIT TASTE NO SUGAR ADDED
The Canadian Food Guide recommends
consuming plant-based more often.1
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
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MAKING MAINSTREAM MORE GREEN
Sustainable product innovation needs to be less niche and more mainstream, but how do we overcome barriers to making it so? By Carol Neshevich || Photography by Roger Yip August 2019 Canadian Grocer
ow do we make mainstream products
truly sustainable? This was one of the key questions guiding the discussion at the 2019 Leaders in Sustainable Thinking event, held recently at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Created by Kruger Products and Canadian Grocer and hosted annually since 2012, this year’s event was an intimate half-day discussion involving a dozen sustainability leaders from grocery and consumer packaged goods. Retailers attending included Loblaw, Sobeys, Longo’s and Walmart Canada; manufacturers were represented by Coca-Cola, Kruger Products and Danone; and industry associations Retail Council of Canada (RCC) and Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) also participated this year. Ashish Pujari, a marketing professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., whose research focuses on the intersection of sustainability and product innovation, kicked off the discussion. His talk touched on how technology might be integrated into sustainable product development, the benefits of pre-competitive collaboration, and the importance of looking at what the next generation of consumers expects. Pujari stressed that “sustainable product innovation is really primed for mainstream now,” with opportunities for both retailers and manufacturers to get in the game. “Authenticity and transparency are essential things consumers will look for,” he said. Following Pujari’s talk, Ted Ferguson, president of The Delphi Group (a consultancy that helped organize and facilitate the event), asked the group to share ideas on the necessary conditions for making mainstream (as opposed to niche) products more sustainable. WASTE MANAGEMENT ALIGNMENT Michelle Saunders, vice-president of provincial affairs and sustainability at FCPC, raised the challenge posed by inconsistencies in municipalities’ recycling systems across the country, and how this can hinder sustainable innovation. CPG manufacturers will often go to great expense to innovate new recyclable or compostable products and packaging, she said, but then “municipalities will
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
1. Carol Patterson of Sobeys 2. Sustainability thought leaders gathered to share ideas at Toronto’s Rotman School of Management for the 2019 Leaders in Sustainable Thinking event 3. Kruger Products’ Steven Sage 4. Dave Mastroieni and Pat Pesotto of Longo’s 5. Coca-Cola’s Ron Soreanu and Retail Council of Canada’s Andrew Telfer 6. Jennifer Barbazza of Walmart Canada
“Authenticity and transparency reject them city by city” because they simply don’t have the technical capabilities to properly recycle or compost them. “It’s [a] real risk to [the potential for sustainable innovation] for the products and how they’re perceived by the public,” she said. “We can have definitions and standards for what industry needs to do, but if the equipment the municipality owns doesn’t work to that standard, then it’s all for naught,” she added. “The great debate in Ontario for the last 20 years has been, ‘Is this cup recyclable?’ Well, it depends if you’re in Toronto or Windsor. I think that is really impacting the public understanding of what our industry is trying to do and convey for their products, and it absolutely is adding to the confusion and frustration about investing in those innovations.” CLEARING UP CONFUSION Steven Sage, vice-president of sustainability and U.S. marketing at Kruger Products, agreed there’s general confusion among consumers about what is and isn’t recyclable. “And I think the other part of this is potential mistrust; the idea of, “If I take an action [to recycle something], is this really going to end up where I intended it to end up?” he said. And while third-party certification related to sustainability can be important, there are currently hundreds of different certifications, leaving consumers uncertain which to trust. Most in the room agreed a
SUSTAINABLE THINKING 3
are essential things consumers will look for” more streamlined third-party certification system would help. Andrew Telfer, vice-president of health and wellness and industry relations at RCC (and former sustainability lead at Walmart Canada) added there are also a lot of consumer misperceptions about what types of innovations are actually making the greatest impact. People are so focused on eliminating plastics right now, he said, that they sometimes fail to see the bigger picture. He brought up the example of a plastic sleeve on a cucumber. “A plastic sleeve on a cucumber really elongates the shelf life and saves resources,” since a longer shelf life means less frequent deliveries, for example, which leads to decreased energy use. It reduces food waste overall, he added, “yet with that packaged cucumber, it’s all about the consumer perception that plastic packaging is bad.” In examples like this, balancing food waste versus packaging can be tricky, especially when communicating decisions to the consumer. “How do you tell that story holistically? That it’s not just about plastics or just about food waste; how do you tell the whole story to consumers? It is essentially an exercise in marketing and knowledge share,” said Jennifer Barbazza, sustainability manager at Walmart Canada. Carol Patterson, Sobeys’ director of sustainability, agreed, noting we need to be “thoughtful in considering the whole lifecycle, and understanding where the plastics issue intersects with the food waste issue,
and how we’re going to talk about that.” At the same time, several participants said they sometimes hesitate to share incremental achievements in sustainability with the public, because for every small victory they share, they will often be asked, “Why aren’t you doing more?” Dave Mastroieni, vice-president of central procurement and facilities management at Longo’s, noted the importance of remaining thoughtful and not being reactionary when faced with criticism that you’re not going far enough, or that you’re tackling the wrong problem. “Like everyone’s said here today, you can’t tackle everything all at once.” NGO PRESSURE, RETAILER POWER The role of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) was also discussed. “Sometimes NGO pressure can elevate these issues and we do see increases in the number of corporate commitments because of some of these kinds of August 2019 Canadian Grocer
SUSTAINABLE THINKING pressures,” said Jennifer Lambert, senior manager of sustainability at Loblaw. This prompted Ferguson to ask whether NGO pressure typically tends to create change, or resistance, or both. “I think it can do both,” said Walmart’s Barbazza. “I’m seeing and experiencing more and more opportunity for sort of a friendly critic—an NGO that is willing to work with you to say, ‘Here’s where we want you to be [on a particular issue]; however, we also acknowledge the challenges in getting there, so let’s talk about what we think your priorities could be.’” Kruger’s Sage added that in addition to NGOs, retailers wield a lot of power in pushing for sustainable innovation. “When it was [sustainable] seafood and Loblaw and Sobeys made their stand, or Walmart with packaging ... those big initiatives, I think, made clarity for the industry,” he said. “I also think it really helps from a supply chain perspective, too. When those bold stances are made, there’s usually a nice timeline associated with it—it’s not happening tomorrow— and that helps get [everyone on board] all the way down the supply chain.”
7. Arthur Sylvestre and Fiona O’Brien of Danone Canada 8. Loblaw’s Jennifer Lambert 9. Michelle Saunders of Food and Consumer Products of Canada 10. Retail Council of Canada’s Andrew Telfer
PRE-COMPETITIVENESS AND LEADERSHIP “Pre-competitive” thinking was also brought up several times. This means realizing collaboration will help everyone’s business, so sometimes it is necessary to collaborate with a competitor for everyone to win. Ron Soreanu, vice-president of public affairs and communications at Coca-Cola Canada, said this was something Coca-Cola was doing on a global scale. “Coca-Cola participates in a number of alliances that include our competitors to answer some key questions about, ‘how do we fix this system, how do we innovate from a pre-competitive perspective?’” Soreanu added that we shouldn’t discount the power of senior leadership in re-orienting a culture around sustainable innovation. “It’s critically important for everyone in an organization to see that senior leadership is making these issues a priority,” he said. Arthur Sylvestre, media and digital lead at Danone Canada, pointed to his company’s CEO as a positive example of this: “The leadership at Danone, with Emmanuel Faber as the global CEO … he really pushes his vision, which is ‘One Planet, One Health,’ for the entire company.” As the session wrapped up, Kruger’s Sage said it had left him with a sense of hopefulness. “This is important work and we all have important roles to play,” he said, “so I appreciate the discussion and the work that everybody is doing, both individually and collaboratively.” CG
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Products, store ops, customers, trends
With organic food and beverages now firmly mainstream, consumers look for more variety and innovation By Carolyn Cooper
rom what consumers are telling us, it’s a good news story for organics,”
says Joel Gregoire, associate director of Food & Drink at Mintel, referring to the company’s Natural/Organic Shopper Canada 2018 report. “In the last year we saw that 28% of Canadians were buying more organic food and beverages.” That makes sense considering organics now comprise 2.6% of all grocery food and beverage sales, according to the Canada Organic Trade Association, and two-thirds of Canadian consumers now purchase organic products each week. As organic food and beverages increasingly move from a niche category to the norm, selling through mainstream grocers and reaching a much wider audience, consumers are already looking for the next wave of innovation in organics. And they’re demanding more variety and value-added attributes. “Everyone buys organics now,” says Tara Longo, co-founder of The Healthy Butcher and chief retail officer of Fresh City Farms, which acquired the Toronto grocer August 2019 Canadian Grocer
AISLES in May. “One of our biggest groups of consumers is aged 60 and above. They’re having health issues, and are now going back to basics with their food.” Parents with children at home also tend to buy more organic food and beverages, adds Gregoire, as do consumers between the ages of 18 to 34. Canadians buy organics for different reasons, but generally they associate these products with health, “natural” and “free from” claims. “In addition, we found that the statement people are most likely to agree with, with respect to organic and natural claims, is that they are safer,” says Gregoire. According to Euromonitor International’s 2019 Health and Nutrition Survey of 20 worldwide markets, the top five reasons consumers choose organics are: they are better for me (57.6%); they make me feel better (52%); food safety concerns (50.1%); digestive health (49.1%); and environmental concerns (45.8%). “A primary driver is the avoidance of harmful synthetic pesticides and herbicides,” says Maureen Kirkpatrick, quality and standards program manager for the Big Carrot Community Market in Toronto. “People increasingly see organic agriculture as a refuge. The desire for transparency is also a factor—people want
“Consumers are doing much more research into what ingredients they’re putting in their bodies, ultimately becoming more intentional about choosing foods that carry the Certified Organic seal” more transparency in their food system. A regulated, third-party verification system such as Certified Organic provides that transparency and increases trust.” Stan Smith, co-founder, co-owner and president of Abbotsford, B.C.-based Silver Hills Bakery, agrees. “Growing consumer awareness and interest in cleaner and transparent labels is certainly helping to drive demand for the organic food and beverage industry as a whole,” he says. “Consumers—millennial consumers in particular—are doing much more research into what ingredients they’re putting in their bodies, ultimately becoming more intentional about choosing foods that
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
carry the Certified Organic seal.” All food and beverages making an organic claim and sold interprovincially must be third-party certified according to the Canadian Organic Standards. Products that contain at least 95% organic ingredients may also display the Canada Organic logo. Multi-ingredient products can make organic claims on their label or in ingredient lists depending on the percentage of organic ingredients used. Certified organic production prohibits the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics or hormones, animal cloning, GMOs, biosolids and irradiation; and certified organic products must be free from artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners and preservatives. According to Gregoire, fresh fruit and vegetables are still the top-selling organic food and beverage items, followed by meat. Organic confectionery has fallen in popularity, as consumers increasingly avoid sugar and understand that not all organic products are equally nutritious. Euromonitor’s March 2019 Organic Beverages in Canada report cites organic coffee, which grew by double digits in 2018, as “the most dynamic” organic beverage category, with organic tea close behind. As organic categories mature, more processed products are entering the market to meet consumer demand for variety, as well as additional benefits such as convenience, portability, and more sophisticated, sustainable packaging. Overall, the retail value of the packaged organic food and beverage market in Canada jumped 43.4% between 2013 and 2018, according to Euromonitor. At the Big Carrot, several grocery categories are now almost entirely organic, including produce, bulk, baby food and coffee. Kirkpatrick says organic dairy is a huge seller, while in the centre aisles canned beans and tomatoes, pasta and cereals are all strong performers. She sees healthy fats and plant-based foods gaining ground within organics, adding that “you see both coming together in a third notable trend, which is nutrient-dense convenience food.” Longo believes there will be more acceptance of prepared and processed organic products as more suppliers come on board and the cost of organic ingredients continues to fall. “The industry is really catching up. Now you’re seeing whole lines of awesome organic pastas … and clean protein snacks like beef jerky,”
she says. The Healthy Butcher has had great response to its organic quinoa salad, organic steel-cut oat breakfast cup, and organic jerky. Longo also sees growth potential in grab-and-go items like freshly prepared organic juice, cut-and-packaged organic fruits and veggies, and grass-fed, certified organic meat. Julie Lamontagne, communications advisor for Les Viandes du Breton, agrees that with wider distribution through mainstream supermarkets, “sales volumes make prices more affordable.” The pork producer “completed the transformation of all its farms to organic, Certified Humane and GAP 5-step standards in 2018 in order to meet the growing consumer demand for organic products,” says Lamontagne, noting the duBreton brand’s organic sales reached double-digit growth in the past year, led by its top-sellers—sausages and ground pork. While organic meat may still be more expensive, “Our consumers are sensitive to animal welfare and are willing to pay more for a responsible and ethical agri-product,” says Lamontagne. Du Breton’s newest organic offerings include specialty prepared foods like “cretons” (a popular meat spread in Quebec), shaved ham, liver pâté and country-style pâté. At Silver Hills Bakery, 14 of its 22 products are certified organic, while the other eight are made with 75% to 95% organic ingredients. And since 2017, all Silver Hills Bakery products have also been certified glyphosate residue free and have displayed the BioChecked Non Glyphosate Certified seal. “We think the next evolution of organics will be the glyphosate-free movement, an added assurance of the avoidance of pesticides,” says Smith, who explains that glyphosate, an ingredient in conventional weed killers, “is considered ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ by the World Health Organization.” For grocers considering adding prepared organic products, The Healthy Butcher’s Longo suggests doing lots of demos, discounts and sampling so consumers can develop trust in the products. And be prepared with merchandising messages that inform customers of the healthy attributes of organics. “We do a lot of community education to build awareness of the Canada Organic logo,” adds Big Carrot’s Kirkpatrick. “Giving shoppers the tools to know what to look for goes a long way in growing the market and building a loyal customer base.”
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Turning plodding progress into a quantum leap Female CEOs and board members continue to rise, but not fast enough
my travels lately, I’ve heard a lot of discussion around the latest Fortune 500 report. The headline: 33 female CEOs now sit in Fortune 500 ranks. I applaud progress—that’s more women than ever—but without taking a breath, the next words out of my mouth are: “That’s 6.6%. About 43.4% too low, if we are striving for 50%.” When I was a young girl, I didn’t dream of becoming a nurse or a teacher. Both are honourable professions, but they weren’t in my wheelhouse. I wanted to be in business. And not just in the rank and file—I wanted to be a CEO. I didn’t have female CEO role models, though, because there were so few. There still are too few. Even as our societal demographics continue to shift, the seats of power within global companies have remained stuck decades in the past. Now that I am a CEO, I can look back on the road travelled. And I’m determined to be an executive who smooths the road for the women that come after me. If progress in the CEO ranks has been slower than desired, progress for women at
Senior women are heading for the exits at a far higher rate than men the board level has also been sketchy. This year’s board representation numbers for the Fortune 500 show a trend: the same small group of women are being tapped for multiple boards. We’re not expanding in number, more so in number of board positions held by the same women. Seven
women serve on four Fortune 500 boards. Thirty-four women serve on three. Boards want experience. They want C-suite experience. Yet women only comprise 6.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs. And my organization’s research shows a female leadership crisis: senior women are heading for the exits at a far higher rate than men. Female higher-level managers, executives and C-suite members leave their jobs nearly four times as often as men (26.9% vs. 7.3%). The future could be so bright. It turns out I was far from being a unicorn in my 12-year-old aspirations. Almost three out of four women (74%), early in their career, want to become executives, according to the Leaders & Daughters Global Survey of 7,000 women in seven countries on five continents. My question is: What happens to change that? From my experience, it’s potholes in the road to the executive suite. NEW research shows a few issues across the board cause women to leave companies in droves. Just a few key actions could help them stay: Confronting bias. Combine a lack of female role models in executive management with the sense of isolation that can come from being the only woman in the room—add in a lack of sponsorship—and you have a recipe for female leaders heading to the exits. Only 36% of women surveyed agree there is minimal favouritism within their company. The similar-to-me bias, unless addressed head on within corporate culture, means many executives will hire and promote candidates with similar interests, backgrounds and experience to them. Offering transition support/ career pathing. When females report on the support they receive from those above them
in the corporate hierarchy, only half say they receive support when they accept a new challenge or job. And while six out of 10 women say their supervisor entrusts them with a range of assignments that help prepare them for their next role, the remaining 40% are not receiving the stretch roles and breadth of experience necessary to place them in contention for positions of higher responsibility and authority. This leaves women either stagnating in current roles, feeling passed over or promoted without sufficient development or support. None of these situations bodes well for women reaching the C-suite successfully. Modernizing work schedules. While the world has changed dramatically from the years when men worked and women stayed at home to take care of children and domestic duties, work schedules have not, to the detriment of women with children. As Melinda Gates wrote, “We’re sending our daughters into a workplace designed for our dads.” As institutional investors push for greater diversity on boards and C-suites because of the business case for it, I think we’ll see more progress. And I do think we’ll reach the tipping point sooner than later, where plodding progress becomes a quantum leap. My 12-year-old self certainly hopes so. And my present self is committed to playing a key role in making it happen as rapidly as possible.
SPECIAL INFORMATION FEATURE IN CANADIAN GROCER — August 2019
Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, a learning and leadership community representing 12,400 members in 22 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at newonline.org.
Better butter While its companion in the dairy case, milk, has been declining, butter has been on the rise in recent years. In fact, per capita consumption of butter grew from 2.80 kg in 2009 to 3.33 kg in 2018, according to Statistics Canada. And along with that rise in consumption, we’re also seeing a boom in new butter offerings. Whether it’s premium quality, grass-fed, cultured, higher butterfat content, flavoured or even plant-based butter that tastes (and cooks) like the real thing, here are just a few butter innovations hitting the market. THORNLOE CHEESE
MAISON RIVIERA Maison Riviera’s line of butters is inspired by fine French cuisine and the renowned butters of France, according to the Quebec-based company. These butters come in a 100% recyclable glass ramekin, in three varieties: salted cultured butter, unsalted cultured butter, and goat milk butter.
Thornloe Cheese has branched out into butter with its Grass Fed Temiskaming Valley Butter, launched last summer to appeal to the growing demand for grass-fed dairy products. Made from the milk of grassfedcattle from the Temiskaming Valley in Northern Ontario, the company proudly touts that it won the grand champion award at last year’s Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.
EMERALD GRASSLANDS Available in salted and unsalted varieties, Emerald Grasslands butter is made from grass-fed, organic Jersey cream, with the salted variety also using Vancouver Island Sea Salt as an ingredient. Carefully churned to 84% butterfat (higher than most Canadian butters), the Clarksburg, Ont.-based company says its butter is “remarkably clean and creamy tasting.”
New York-based Fora is getting tons of media attention for its innovative dairy-free FabaButter. Made from aquafaba—the leftover water after cooking chickpeas— FabaButter is not only vegan, but also non-GMO, soy free and gluten free. Fora says its Faba Butter has such a similar taste and consistency to dairy butter that even top chefs approve.
STIRLING CREAMERY Stirling Creamery has launched two new flavoured butters: Garlic Parsley and Bombay Curry. The Stirling, Ont.-based brand (now owned by Gay Lea Foods) says the product is made by mixing barrelchurned butter with seasonings and spices to create a flavoured butter that’s ready to use in cooking sauces, with meat or seafood, or as a simple spread.
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
Wooing the modern baker To meet the demands of today’s enthusiastic home bakers, a variety of new and innovative baking ingredients are hitting store shelves By Risha Gotlieb HOME BAKING is hot, with the trend being fuelled by everything from popular TV shows such as The Great British Bake Off and YouTube channels that offer stepby-step instructions, to food blogs and Instagram feeds featuring home bakers’ proud postings of their latest creations. “We’re seeing a huge increase in selftaught bakers and cake decorators, many of whom bake to express their creativity,” says Jo-Ann McArthur, president of Nourish Food Marketing. “And there are [also] those who bake because they want more control over the ingredients that go into their food.” And when it comes to those ingredients, more Canadian consumers are looking for “authenticity and real ingredients” in their baked goods, according to a 2018 Sector Trend Analysis Report by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, including real sugar and real butter. At the same time, large global brands are working to add healthy or functional elements to their home baking ingredients, while new, smaller brands are also cropping up to meet the demands of today’s consumers—whether that’s premium quality, organic, vegan, packed with protein, gluten free, non-GMO, or all of the above. What are the current trends in baking
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
ingredients? “The top three trends are alternative flours with sprouted grain flours coming into demand; vegan alternatives (such as nut milks and vegan “butter”) and superfood add-ins such as chia, matcha, and acai berries,” according to Charmian Christie, a Guelph, Ont.based culinary instructor and author of The Messy Baker. Indeed, today’s home bakers have access to a wide array of flours. While gluten-free, unbleached and whole wheat varieties have been around for some time now, these flours are being joined by almond flours, spelt flours, rice flours, sorghum flours and even flours from unexpected sources such as insects. Moreover, nutrient-rich ancient grains such as amaranth, buckwheat and kamut are making a comeback. Healthy baking has been the mission of Bob’s Red Mill since the mid-1960s when its founder, Bob Moore, discovered stone- grinding flour mills as a way of making whole grain flour. “No modern technology can match the old-world engineering of a stone mill,” says Matt Cox, the company’s vice-president of marketing. Today, the Milwaukee-based food company offers more than 400 products, including 59 varieties of baking flours.
MERCHANDISING STRATEGIES Effective merchandising of baking ingredients starts with understanding what customers want and offering quality products—along with signage and displays that draw attention. For instance, one Metro location currently features some of its alternative flours on a standalone display among other “locally sourced” products. Metro also inspires baking ideas by including recipes in its flyers and stores. “We support all the traditional baking holidays,” says Alan Dunn, a category manager at Metro. “And we try to inspire additional occasions such as baking with fresh produce in the summer, and less traditional baking holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Halloween.” Furthermore, you may want to try organizing products according to lifestyle. This could mean creating a gluten-free section, a gourmet section, a vegan section, a dietary restrictions section, and perhaps even dividing organic and non-organic items. “This makes it easier for consumers to shop,” explains Nourish’s McArthur. CG
ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS/KKOLOSOV
HOME BAKING TRENDS
“We continue to see an increased interest in home baking ingredients, particularly gluten-free and grain-free flours,” says Cox, noting “our top baking ingredients in Canada are our gluten-free and paleofriendly flours (like almond, brown rice, coconut and tapioca flours), and new grain-free flours like cassava.” Bob’s Red Mill also offers innovations like a gluten-free vegan egg replacer, reflecting the plant-based trend. Another example of this trend is a new vegan butter out of New York called FabaButter. Fora, the company behind it, has been getting a lot of positive press for the butter, which is made from aquafaba (the brine water leftover after cooking chickpeas) and is said to be close to the real thing in terms of taste and consistency. Chocolate chips are also evolving to meet the demands of today’s consumer, with numerous fair trade, organic, dark chocolate (which has a health halo) and/ or sugar-free options hitting the market. Ottawa’s La Siembra Co-operative’s Camino brand, for instance—known for its certified organic and fair trade chocolate—offers a wide array of baking chocolate products, including unsweetened (sugar-free) chocolate chips that are 100% cacao, launched late last year.
NEW ON SHELF! Whether your customers are looking for chips, beer, cold-brew coffee or tea, here are some exciting new product innovations hitting Canadian stores.
STEAM WHISTLE PALE ALE New premium-positioned ale from Toronto brewery After 19 years of brewing just one style of beer, its pilsner, Toronto-based Steam Whistle Brewing has launched Steam Whistle Pale Ale. Like the pilsner, the new premium-positioned brew is made to the same strict standards of the Bavarian Purity Act of 1516, which dictates that only water, barley, hops and yeast be used in the beer-making process.
BALZAC’S NITRO COLD BREW Café chain’s freshly roasted cold brew in a can Balzac’s Coffee Roasters has introduced Nitro Cold Brew in a can: a new packaged product that features the Ontario-based café chain’s freshly roasted coffee, slowly steeped in cold water and available in three flavours: classic black, mocha and vanilla. Balzac’s worked with Toronto’s Station Cold Brew Coffee Co. on co-packing the product, which hits select grocers this fall.
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VIBE ORGANIC ELECTROLYTE BLACK TEA Ready-to-drink tea with wellness and sustainability focus
Cheryl L. Smith
With VIBE Organic Electrolyte Black Tea, MindFull has brewed up a readyto-drink tea blending artesian spring water, USDA-certified black tea and organic honey. Its makers say it appeals to wellness and sustainabilityfocused consumers. Featuring organic and ethically-sourced ingredients, the tea is available four flavours: mint, lemon, peach and pomegranate.
General Manager (Retired) Lactalis Parmalat Canada
MISS VICKIE’S SIGNATURES New limited-edition, gourmet potato chip line Miss Vickie’s has gone gourmet. The Frito-Lay produced kettle-cooked potato chip brand has introduced a limited-edition line it says delivers a “unique sensorial taste experience with modern ingredients.” Called Signatures, the collection is available in three premium flavours: Apple Cider Vinaigrette & Shallot, Citrus & Black Peppercorn and Hickory Smoked Salt.
Christian Bourbonnière Executive Vice-President and Quebec Division Head Metro Inc.
Thomas A. Barlow President & CEO (Retired) The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers
CHECKING OUT George Condon
ALDI SETS ITSELF APART When will the German hard discounter set its sights on Canada? GERMAN GROCER ALDI is on track to become the third-largest supermarket chain in the United States, trailing only Walmart and Kroger, according to CNN Business. While Aldi has 1,800 stores in 35 states today, it wants to expand to 2,500 stores by the end of 2022. In 2017, it was widely reported that Aldi planned to spend US$3.4 billion to achieve the goal. This will not be surprising news to those in the Canadian grocery industry who have been following Aldi’s tremendous growth in the United Kingdom (it’s now the fifth-largest grocer in that country) over the past five years and its rapid penetration in every country it has entered to date. Its hard discount format, limited assortment and impressive (in fact, award-winning) private-label offering has certainly found favour with a growing number of consumers. Several years ago, there was high expectation within Canada that Aldi (or its German no-frills rival, Lidl) would soon be coming to Canada. Lidl even had an office here for a couple of years.
August 2019 Canadian Grocer
However, the speculation faded when neither Aldi nor Lidl appeared to show further interest in Canada. Canadian grocers, however, should remain vigilant. Aldi’s growth in the United States and Lidl’s determination to follow suit can only boost their interest in Canada. Of course, the Canadian and U.S. marketplaces have differences that probably make the U.S. more appealing than Canada, but both Aldi and Lidl have shown they can successfully set up shop in almost any retail environment. One difference between Canada’s grocery industry and that of our U.S. neighbours is that our discount chains already keep prices very low. That may give Aldi and Lidl executives some pause before jumping into Canada, but they are also aware Canadians are extremely price sensitive and may see that as an opportunity to establish themselves here. Another possible barrier for the German hard discounters entering Canada might be the lack of reasonably-priced real estate. That fact, however, has been
George Condon is Canadian Grocer’s consulting editor. He’s based in Toronto. email@example.com
Germany’s Aldi has had rapid growth in every country it’s entered so far
mitigated by the departure of Sears and the growth in condominium construction, which is providing opportunities for retail on their lower levels. It is interesting to observe the similarities between shopping at a U.S. Aldi and Canadian discounters such as No Frills, FreshCo and Food Basics. Aldi charges a quarter to rent a shopping cart, charges a fee for paper or plastic bags, displays product in its shipping boxes and forces customers to bag their own grocery order. Canadians would not find those cost-cutting measures particularly onerous or unusual. It’s also interesting to note that in the United States, Aldi has built a cultlike following. When it enters a new town it’s not uncommon for hundreds of people to turn out for the grand opening. The allure is all in the rock-bottom prices. That low-price position would likely grab Canadians’ attention too. Another thing that distinguishes Aldi is that it only stocks around 1,400 items, compared to 25,000 at traditional supermarkets and three times that at Walmart supercenters. Aldi stores also have simple layouts and wide aisles, as well as its predominately private-label offer. Aldi is able to save massively on labour costs by having only three to five employees at each store at any one time, and only 15 to 20 on the entire payroll. Katrijn Gielens, marketing professor at the University of North Carolina’s KenanFlagler Business School, estimates Aldi’s operating costs are about half those of mainstream retailers. And in the United States, its profit margin is lower than competitors. According to CNN Business, Aldi is investing $1.9 billion in remodelling its U.S. stores. Clearly Aldi is enjoying great success in many markets. Although there is no sign Aldi is interested in Canada at the moment, it would be folly for retailers here to ignore it. CG
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