Canadian Grocer September/October

Page 1

How grocers can take action on diversity & inclusion SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020

The independents


Gary Sorenson

Anthony Longo

Sylvie Senay

Giancarlo Trimarchi

Darrell Jones

We talk to five indie leaders about resilience, evolving consumers and standing out from the crowd

+ Holiday report—time for some cheer! + Keeping staff safe + Grand Prix winners

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Contents Cover Story

Opinions 5 || Front Desk 18 || Food Bytes 20 || Eating in Canada 54 || Checking Out People 6 || The Buzz

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

Sept/Oct 2020 || Volume 134 - Number 6


23  Perspectives from five great independent grocers

8 || Alain Ménard


The Green Beaver Company’s co-founder is on a mission to build a healthier world

CHAMPIONING INDEPENDENT GROCERS 30  Tom Shurrie & Ron Welke discuss some indie pain points CFIG is working to ease

Ideas 11 || When customers misbehave As the pandemic persists, grocery staff are paying the price

14 || Vacation flavours hit home

Grocers are offering travel-focused promotions to appeal to Canadians stuck at home


16 || Catching up with Michael Forgione

Canadian Grocer chats with ugi’s new president


Aisles 45 || Selling an unusual season

Celebrations may be smaller this year, but grocers’ holiday season sales don’t have to be!

50 || Mushrooms: Four things to know


Time to get familiar with this trendy, healthy ingredient

52 || New on shelf

Shining a spotlight on the latest products hitting shelves

Follow us on     @CanadianGrocer


TAKING ACTION ON DIVERSITY, EQUITY  & INCLUSION 33  Best practices to create DE&I strategies that actually work (part of our new Generation Next Thinking series) A CUT ABOVE 37  Check out the winners of the 27th edition of the Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards

@CanadianGrocerMagazine     Canadian Grocer Magazine

September/October 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 3


55% of consumers prefer spending time in person with friends or family in the ‘new normal world’ making our charcuterie pack perfect to create those special moments The sliced meat category saw $35.8M of growth in 2018 and 2019 that stemmed from mixed snack-pack innovations Charcuterie products in 100g-250g pack sizes recorded double-digit growth in sales (Nielsen 52 Wk PE February 1, 2020)


Sources: 1. Nielsen Survey: Impact of COVID-19 on Consumers - March 13-20, 2020 – Canada 2. Nielsen MarketTrack, National XNFLD GB+DR+MM, Latest 52 Wk ending Aug 17, 2019


3. Nielsen; Sliced Meat; Italian, Salami; Sliced Tray National GB+DR+MM; 52 Wk PE February 1, 2020

A Taste of Europe

Front desk PUBLISHER

Vanessa Peters


Shellee Fitzgerald


Carol Neshevich


Kristin Laird


Josephine Woertman


George H. Condon


Michael Kimpton


Donna Kerry

DOING THE RIGHT THINGS In this issue, we turn the spotlight on some of Canada’s resilient independent grocers


Derek Estey

Printed in Canada

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Periodical Fund of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

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Michael Cronin


Alexandra Voulu


Lina Trunina


Valerie White


Katherine Frederick

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Team members deserve “huge accolades” says Save-On-Foods’ Jones

retail is a tough business, and no one knows that better than independent grocers. Even at the best of times, the challenges—from staffing issues to supply headaches and rising costs, to name but a few—are considerable. Throw a pandemic into the mix and the pressures only get amplified. But while the last several months of 2020 may not be the best of times, they’re not exactly the worst of times for grocers either, as we’ve discovered putting this issue together. For our cover story, our writers spoke to five grocers, some of the most admired in the business, and what comes through is the continued resilience of Canada’s independents. Their connection to community, customer focus and keen attention to what makes them unique has pulled them through challenging times before and there’s no reason to believe these things won’t sustain them this time around. As Save-OnFoods’ Darrell Jones says, while there is a lot to be concerned about just now, “if you focus on the right things, you’ll be OK.” (Read all of the interviews starting on page 23). Of course, doing the right things includes looking after your people. In this issue writer Rosalind Stefanac looks at how grocery store staff are being confronted with abusive customers (page 11). While such incidents have been on the rise during the pandemic, thankfully it remains a small number of customers behaving badly. She talks to the experts

Contents Copyright © 2020 by EnsembleIQ, may not be reprinted without permission. Canadian Grocer receives unsolicited materials (including letters to the editor, press releases, promotional items and images) from time to time. Canadian Grocer, its affiliates and assignees may use, reproduce, publish, republish, distribute, store and archive such submissions in whole or in part in any form or medium whatsoever, without compensation of any sort. ISSN# 0008-3704 PM 42940023 Canadian Grocer is Published by Stagnito Partners Canada Inc., 20 Eglinton Avenue West, Ste. 1800, Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1K8.

and learns what independent grocers like Rabba and Longo’s are doing to tackle the problem and keep staff safe. We also look at diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace (page 33). It’s a hot, complex topic and the story, part of our new Generation Next Thinking series, looks at how businesses are working to get it right and create meaningful DE&I strategies that actually work. Happy reading!

Shellee Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief

September/October 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 5

The Buzz

The latest news in the grocery biz


Store manager Matt Millar and VP of Prairie operations Ben Harrack cutting the ribbon to open SaveOn-Foods’ new University District store in Calgary

Calgary is also home to a new SAVE-ON-FOODS. A new store opened its doors in the city’s University District in late August; it is the grocer’s first location in Calgary’s West End. Unique to this location is the Urban Fare kitchen with a restaurant featuring a full menu with options for dine-in or take-out.


T&T is expanding its footprint in Western Canada with the addition of two new stores. A 50,000-sq.-ft. store will open in Calgary’s Deerfoot Meadows retail development this winter (it will be the retailer’s third location in the city), while a new 40,000-sq.-ft. store in Langley, B.C.’s Willowbrook Shopping Centre is slated to open by mid-2021. T&T CEO Tina Lee told Canadian Grocer the search continues for a new Toronto location, following the closing of its popular Cherry St. store due to the City of Toronto’s plans to redevelop the Port Lands area. The two new locations bring T&T’s store network—stretching from Vancouver to Ottawa—to 28.


Jamie Nelson

Wayne Currie

This summer Costco opened its seventh location in Calgary, its first on First Nation land

In late August, COSTCO opened its seventh location in Calgary and its first on First Nation land. Located on the Tsuut’ina reserve, the new warehouse in Southwest Calgary is 151,000 sq. ft. and offers signage in both the English and Sarcee languages. And WALMART CANADA broke ground on its “next generation” distribution centre in Vaughan, Ont. in mid-August. Upon completion in 2024, Walmart says the 550,000-sq.-ft. facility will be able to handle more than 70 million cases of general merchandise and food each year—the highest volume of any of the retailer’s facilities in the country.

Paul Hazra

Mike Olson



Get ready to tune in to three can’t-miss virtual grocery industry events this October. First up is the  Grocery Innovations Canada  trade show and conference (GIC Live! @Home – running Oct. 27 to 29), followed by Canadian Grocer’s  Star Women in Grocery Awards  (taking place the morning of Oct. 29); and  UGI’s Supplier Awards Gala  (starting on the afternoon of Oct. 29). For more info and tickets visit groceryinnovations. com, and

Brenda Kirk

Vincent Timpano

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

Don Crowe

Save-On-Foods recently announced a number of organizational changes that come into effect Oct. 1. Adding to his current responsibilities as EVP, Jamie Nelson will oversee all of the company’s digital and analytics activities. Wayne Currie, currently SVP of IT, supply chain, who plans to retire next spring, will assume the role of SVP special projects. EVP, finance Paul Hazra will become CFO, adding IT and the development of an enterprise planning function to his portfolio. SVP, merchandising Mike Olson will take on the new role of SVP, business development, supply chain and innovation. And SVP of health, wellness and our brands Brenda Kirk will take over the role of SVP merchandising, leading the merchandising functions for the company. Save-On-Foods also announced several promotions: Dan Hansen, general manager of centre of store will become VP, centre of store. Paul Cope, VP of Save-On-Foods B.C., will assume the role of SVP, retail operations of all banners (Save-On-Foods, Urban Fare, PriceSmart Foods and Bulkley Valley Wholesale), while also overseeing e-commerce operations. VP of Prairie operations Ben Harrack will move into the role of VP SaveOn-Foods B.C. operations, and VP of people and communications Heidi Ferriman has been promoted to SVP of people and corporate affairs. Mona Kragh, managing director of finance will become VP finance and enterprise planning, while managing director of data and analytics, Andy Donaher, will take on the role of VP digital analytics. Lassonde Industries has named Vincent Timpano president and CEO of Lassonde Pappas and Company (LPC). Timpano will over­­see strategic development and growth for all operating activities of LPC, the largest manufacturing and sales subsidiary of the juices and ready-to-drink beverages of Lassonde Industries. Timpano has previously held senior roles at Aimia, Coca-Cola Canada, and The Minute Maid Company Canada, where he served as president and CEO. Don Crowe has stepped into the newly-created role of vice-president, client, innovation and growth at Crossmark Canada. Crowe comes to Crossmark with nearly 30 years’ experience at CPG and software companies. Most recently he was Canadian GM and country manager at Sunstar Americas. Maple Leaf Foods has announced that Nadia Theodore will become senior vice-president of global industry and government relations on Oct. 13. Theodore succeeds Rory McAlpine, who is retiring, in the role. September/October 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 7


Through its all-natural personal care products, The Green Beaver Company is on a mission to build a healthier world By Carolyn Cooper Photography by Jessica Deeks

Who you need to know


lain Ménard laughs when he recalls the early days of The Green Beaver Company, more than two decades ago, when he and his wife Karen Clark first began formulating their idea. “We basically started a hobby, but it burst into a company,” he says. “Because, really, this company wasn’t born with a business plan, it was born on a mission—for us to go out there and promote healthy, natural living in a sustainable world.” At the time, Clark and Ménard were planning to start a family, but as scientists working in the pesticide and pharmaceutical industries, they were concerned with all the chemicals they saw in household cleaners and body care products. “This was 20 years ago, so the natural versions of products were harder to find,” says Ménard. “So, we bought a few heating plates, mixers and we converted part of our kitchen into a small laboratory. And then we started making our own stuff.” Eventually Clark, a biochemist, decided to fully commit to the endeavour, quitting her job to focus on the arduous task of formulating the organic products. It was not long after, when Ménard’s 32-year-old sister was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, that he realized how important their products could be if they were made without harmful ingredients. “I finally clued in and said, ‘I agree … Let’s start this company, let’s go out there and educate people.’ So that was our mission: we were using the products as a means to show that there are alternatives that could be better for you and the environment.” It was a team effort, says Ménard (who now helms the company, as Clark has stepped back from day-to-day operations). “Karen would do the base formula, and as a microbiologist I’d come in and see how to preserve the products without any chemical preservatives.” When Green Beaver officially launched in 2002, it was one of a few Canadian natural product companies in a market dominated by U.S. and European brands. To distinguish themselves, the duo focused on innovation and sourcing Canadian ingredients whenever possible. Their first products were an aluminum-free deodorant made with sage oil and Labrador tea, and a fluoride-free toothpaste featuring vitamin C, calcium, and coconut and fruit extract. “Then, of course, the challenge was convincing people to try it,” recalls Ménard. “I remember being

at consumer shows and people would look at you like you were from Mars!” A breakthrough came in 2011, when Green Beaver launched Canada’s first certified organic mineral sunscreen. “It attracted a lot of attention, and all our other products started picking up as well,” says Ménard. From its 20,000-sq.-ft. facility in the Eastern Ontario town of Hawkesbury, Green Beaver now produces a wide range of popular items including all-purpose cleaning soaps, body lotion, lip balm, hair care, as well as lines for babies and children. All products made by the company are organic, Ecocert-certified, vegan, biodegradable, and free from GMOs, chemical preservatives and potentially harmful ingredients like plastic microbeads. The brand is available in most major health food stores, grocery and pharmacy chains across Canada, and the company recently began exporting to the United States. Notable new innovations include Canada’s first aluminum-free antiperspirant (as opposed to deodorant), and Naturapeutic Toothpastes made with xylitol, which have Health Canada’s approval to include a cavity-prevention claim. The company also introduced a 100% natural hand sanitizer at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there has been sustained high demand for it as well as the company’s hand soaps. Ménard believes it’s a sign that demand for chemical-free alternatives has reached a tipping point. “The natural market has grown all these years, but in the last five years something has been happening. Demand is increasing significantly,” he says. “And I think it’s primarily the millennial moms—they’re changing the market.” The company is currently working on more sustainable packaging, as well as what Ménard calls a zero-plastic line featuring concentrated versions of products. He doesn’t rule out adding new categories as consumers request them. “In the future, you’ll see that the majority of products in any category are going to be natural. That’s what people are going to demand, especially because the efficacy of natural products now matches—if not exceeds—the conventional products,” he notes. “And I think somehow we contributed, [through] all the conferences we did and the social media, to educating millennial parents about natural products. That makes me feel good, because if you get the parents you’ve got the future generation, too.” CG

30 seconds with …

ALAIN MÉNARD What do you like most about working in this industry? It’s always changing. There’s always an opportunity to bring out something new. People are always looking for better or different, so there’s always an angle to innovate.

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

I had somebody once say to me, “Don’t work in the weeds—get out of it.” Stop working in the business by putting your nose into every­ thing; train [your employees] how to do it. Work on the business, and think long term. You know, what is the next innovation, how can we improve? Because it comes to a point where you are being pulled left and right and it drains you.

What’s new in the natural product industry?

When we started out, sustainable packaging wasn’t a big thing at all, but in the last couple of years the packaging game has really heated up. I think there will be a lot of [packaging] innovation in the near future from suppliers.

Do you have any hobbies?

Most people don’t know this, but I’m a little bit “overboard” when it comes to gardening. I grow some of everything. And I do a lot of hiking in the Laurentians, and mountain biking—everything to do with nature, that’s what I like. It grounds me.

What’s your own favourite Green Beaver product?

It changes from year to year. Right now, I love the new aluminum-­free antiperspirant in the “Freedom” scent, because it was a hot summer!

September/October 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 9




WHEN CUSTOMERS MISBEHAVE As the pandemic persists, grocery staff are paying the price GETTY IMAGES/ANDRESR

By Rosalind Stefanac

Verbal attacks and physical aggression aren’t what employees bargained for in taking on grocery jobs. But a slew of videos have gone viral depicting violent behaviour, proving that customers are lashing out and frontline grocery staff are often bearing the brunt of it. As the pandemic lingers on, a combination of frustration, mental health issues and general “COVID fatigue” is contributing to more and more customers behaving badly, says Diane Brisebois, president and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada. “It’s a still a minority (1% to 2%) but you only need a small number to rattle employees and create angst and concerns,” she says. “Our retailers, including grocers, are the storefront to society and unfortunately have to deal with customers who don’t appreciate the health and safety measures currently in place.” In the last month, Brisebois says her organization has been hearing from

September/October 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 11

Ideas an increasing number of retailers reporting belligerent customers shunning masks and refusing to leave the premises, giving staff no choice but to call law enforcement. “We’ve heard of customers going so far as to spit on the Plexiglass separating cashiers,” she says. “These are very difficult times.” Jack Minacs, who has more than 20 years of experience as an occupational health and safety professional at Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS), has been assisting several large grocery retailers since the pandemic started. “Violence is always a concern in the services/retail sector, but COVID has taken that to a whole new level,” he says. “There was an incident in my town where a grocery employee followed a customer trying to get them to put on a mask, and the person screamed at [the employee] and coughed in their face.” Contributing to the issue is having grocery staff take on security/safety roles without the support and training needed to handle difficult people and potentially violent situations, says Kristy Cork, health and safety consultant at WSPS. “Managers should either hire for that role specifically, or have protocols in place so staff know what to do when customers get aggressive,” she says. People in these kinds of policy enforcement roles also benefit from having certain

soft skills, says Cork, such as being able to listen, stay calm, have empathy and use humour. “Most people aren’t violent by nature, but there are triggers that can set them off and escalate a situation.” Jan Chappel, senior technical officer at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, says employers need to be clear about what staff should be saying to frustrated shoppers. “Have a strategy for addressing customers who are upset, and provide training in mental health, conflict resolution and similar topics to those who will need to address the person who is upset,” he says. At Rabba Fine Foods, it’s a head office supervisor’s full-time job to train staff on proper procedures such as these. “He makes sure that our staff has the tools and the knowledge that they need to enforce the laws,” says Rick Rabba, president. Being part of a chain of stores that are open 24 hours a day in densely populated urban areas, he says Rabba employees are accustomed to calming down customers who may be irate or uncooperative. “If there is truly a problem, we will rely on our security people and, ultimately, the police, but by de-escalating the situation our staff is usually able to calm the person down and resolve the issue.” Earlier in the pandemic, Rabba recalls witnessing

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two grown men shouting and shoving each other out of frustration over social distancing issues. “I was able to de-escalate the situation before there was any violence, but not before yogurt had been splashed all over the aisle out of anger,” he says. RETAILERS GETTING CREATIVE With no resolution to COVID-19 in the foreseeable future, retailers around the globe are getting creative in helping their employees deal with escalating customer anxiety and abuse. In Australia, Woolworth and Target employees are wearing buttons reminding customers they are someone’s mother, father, son or daughter. In Finland, grocery cooperative HOK-Elanto put together a documentary with staff talking about their current concerns and the ways they are helping their customers stay hopeful. At Ontario retailer Longo’s, where customers were asked to wear masks before it was mandated by municipalities, there is a four-step process that gives shoppers multiple options, says Liz Volk, chief human resources officer. Those who don’t want to wear a mask are offered a face shield they can keep, which may feel less restrictive. “Or we offer to shop for them on the spot or have their groceries delivered online,” she says. “Because we started this early

on, our guests expect it now and those that refuse all these options are probably not guests who suit our culture anyway.” Along with adhering to new protocols inspired by COVID, Volk says staff are encouraged to help make the grocery store experience as pleasant as possible for anxious customers. “We continue to go back to basics with eye contact and smiling, even through the mask,” she says. “It’s about recognizing that everyone is in a different place [when they come into the store] and you can make their day brighter and better.” RCC’s Brisebois points to grocery initiatives currently underway that are helping de-escalate frustration while customers are shopping or even before they enter the store. “With in-store pre-recorded announcements, instead of just reminding people to wear masks and social distance, the messages are about thanking people for being thoughtful and helpful, which is a subtle difference,” she says. There are also retailers who are using signage to explain how following guidelines will help everyone keep their jobs so they can support the local economy and get back to normal sooner. As Brisebois explains, “It’s about trying to get to people’s hearts instead of appearing like a police state.”


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Like many Canadians, chef Mark McEwan was missing the flavours of one of his favourite travel destinations: Prince Edward Island. Each fall, he would head there to participate in the Fall Flavour Festival. Due to COVID-19, that won’t be happening this year. But grocers have been responding to the lack of travel opportunities with the next-best thing: inventive travel-themed promotions. McEwan Fine Foods launched its premium PEI Patio Party Boxes in mid-July. Each of the three meal kits serves four and requires minimal prep. They showcase the best of “Canada’s Food Island,” including grass-fed beef, lobster, mussels, and oysters, plus those famous potatoes. “We’ve put our spin on our kits by elevating them,” says Jessica Rodrigues, director of communications for The McEwan Group. “They have extras like truffle compound butter, a brush made of fresh herb sprigs, McEwan’s own mignonette and cocktail sauce.” Though they start at $360, the kits have been selling well. So much so, that the chef-led food retailer is looking to expand with a second phase that will see PEI meal kits available for two people. “Ideal for date nights,” notes Rodrigues.

Grocers shouldn’t hesitate to promote items with a higher price tag, according to Jo-Ann McArthur, president and chief strategist, Nourish Food Marketing. “There’s a ton of opportunity for retailers,” she says. “Virtual travel through food fills a void while we aren’t able to take off anywhere on vacation, attend concerts or go to the theatre.” She notes for those Canadians who are getting through COVID without losing

Mark McEwan of McEwan Fine Foods is offering premium “PEI Patio Party Boxes” as the next-best thing to travelling to P.E.I..

14  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

employment, many are likely to have more disposable income than usual since they have spent less on things like vacations or child care. “They’re desperate to entertain and to create memorable experiences,” McArthur says. For grocers, the time is right to offer customers solutions. Farm Boy, for example, promoted a French-inspired heat-andserve dinner for two for $59.99. And Metro is taking a global approach with its World of Flavour promotions, focusing on popular holiday spots like Italy and Mexico. “This pandemic has been tough on every­one—from restaurants closing doors to travel plans being cancelled or postponed,” says Frank Jaja, director, category management & ethnic, Metro Ontario & Food Basics. “Our World of Flavour ads have made international brands and cuisine available right at home. Customers are now able to recreate international cuisine right at home where they may have previously tried a new dish at a restaurant.” The initiative—which is promoted primarily through ads and flyers, some in-store merchandising and, more recently, digital flyers—has proven popular with customers, thanks to its strong focus on authentic brands, competitive pricing and product assortment. McArthur suggests thinking big to satisfy Canadians’ unquenched wanderlust. “There’s more they could be considering,” she says. Perhaps a virtual cooking class focused on Thai cuisine, or a virtual tutored tasting of Quebec cheeses, hosted by a cheesemaker. She points to IKEA’s Vacation in a Box program with themes like Tea Time in Japan as something grocers could create and offer online, which could also include general merchandise they sell—anything from chopsticks to tea towels and kitchen gadgets. “Pent-up consumer demand for these themed experiences opens a door for grocers to provide solutions,” she says. “Food always tastes better with a great story attached to it.”


Grocers are offering travel-focused pro­motions to satisfy homebound Canadians  By Michele Sponagle


AN EVENING SO SPECIAL YOU ARE STILL GOING TO WANT TO DRESS BLACK TIE. When the world as we knew it came to a stop in March 2020, childhood hunger did not come to a stop. It is forecasted to double. Youth mental distress did not stop either. It hit record highs. Distress among Canadian youth is now greater than ever. In the Grocery Industry we faced multiple difficult challenges in adapting our business to unprecedented change. But our industry has shone and remained strong. And with this new grocery landscape has come a renewed willingness and ability to help. After 41 years and over $70 million raised, Canada’s largest fundraising gala isn’t going anywhere. The Night to Nurture is continuing stronger than ever. From chaos comes an opportunity to reinvent this important event with an amazing new concept and format.


A Virtual Live Comedy Extravaganza


Laugh with Canada’s best-known comedians and get ready for surprise celebrity appearances. And there’s more! From an online raffle to engaging competitions and of course, the Silent Auction. Plus, a new way to include colleagues: Buy ticket lots and share the laughter. Reward your entire team! For everyone who’s been there for you this year from factory employees to sales people to the suppliers who’ve kept this industry going. This event is a great way to support Canada’s youth while saying ‘Thank You’ to your front line. Please join us whether in your PJ’s or in Black Tie – because it promises to be a very special evening.



We talk to Michael Forgione about his plans for the organization and what it’s like to lead in these extraordinary times  By Shellee Fitzgerald

After serving long stretches at Sobeys and Longo’s, Michael Forgione stepped into the top job at United Grocers Inc. (UGI) this summer. No stranger to UGI, Forgione previously served on its board (representing Longo’s), even taking on the role of Chair. When Denis Gendron announced he was retiring at the end of June after nine years as president, Forgione took on the opportunity to lead the 48-yearold organization. Canadian Grocer recently had a chance to speak to Forgione; here are edited excerpts from that interview.

As you stepped into your new role, what was the best advice you received?

I received much advice. I’d say the advice that sticks with me has been tried, true and tested, which is: “immerse yourself in the business.” Really, get your insights from everyone and everywhere—our members, suppliers, industry experts, the UGI team and, of course, customers. Then balance out what you find with your experience and intuition to create a strategy to build programs that are creative and innovative. So that’s what I’m in the process of doing.

What’s it like leading an organization in these extraordinary times?

It’s an exciting time to lead. There are so many changes occurring in our industry—consumers, the environment, the economy—everything has been challenged in terms of how we traditionally have operated.

UGI has been around close to 50 years. What is its mission today? 16  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

How does UGI stay relevant?

The key is to ensure the partnerships we built between UGI members and suppliers continue to deliver benefits. That’s why our supplier partners continue to stay with us. We’re all focused on generating benefits for all parties. It’s a win-win.

What are your priorities for UGI?

First and foremost is building on the success the team has created and ensuring we remain focused on what’s made UGI successful over the past 48 years; and making sure we’re agile and always adapting to changing consumer behaviours and making sure our members’ and suppliers’ needs are met. So really looking for and unearthing new opportunities for growth, leveraging best practices and continuing to innovate while always being focused on unlocking value for our partners is critically important.

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing the industry right now?

I’d say it’s adapting to this rapidly-changing environment and ensuring we’re able to meet the evolving needs of consumers. This is not a new challenge, but it has been accelerated by the pandemic, which has brought changes around e-commerce, the amount of time spent in-store, even newly created categories. We have gone through wave one and we had some supply chain bottlenecks; now the question is will there be a wave two? If so, how do we plan appropriately for that?

What do you like most about your job?

The people—the relationships I’m building in my new role and the rekindling of past relationships. I’ve been in the industry a long time. The people in this business are so passionate and focused on trying to do the right thing and being better and doing more; it’s such a great industry. Also, a thing that I really do enjoy is change. It’s something that keeps me getting up and being engaged in our business.

Anything else?

I would like to get the word out about our upcoming Supplier Awards Gala, which is going to be virtual this year. Our theme is “Partners in Growth” and it will take place on Oct. 29 with opportunities for attendees to network through video chats prior to the awards ceremony. I’m excited about the event and the platform. CG



UGI started out with a group of Western-based retailers and wholesalers pooling their buying efforts to better compete with the large grocery chains. It has evolved today to become a united national procurement organization and we represent a very diverse group of retailers with a combined share of 34% of the Canadian grocery industry with $39.5 billion in annual sales.


Oct 15: Retailer & cpg Leadership Panel Oct 22: Mentoring Event Oct 29: Award Ceremony & Winners Panel Space is limited – Buy your tickets today! PRESENTED BY






FOOD BYTES ||  Joel Gregoire

A decade of disruption for the 2020s From integrating technology into the shopper experience to new developments in lab-grown meat, covid-19 is accelerating disruptive innovation

Even as the attention paid to COVID-19 recedes in the coming years, its impact will likely continue to be felt through the innovations it accelerated

There’s no doubt about it, 2020 has been a year where the ground has shifted. If there’s ever been a time when it’s difficult to look beyond the present to the future, it’s now. That said, taking some time to consider what disruptions may take place in the post-COVID-19 world can provide some perspective on how grocery will change in the years to come— and what consumers may come to expect. Two areas of innovation that will likely be transformative over the next decade relate to the integration of technology into the grocery shopping experience, and a more dramatic shift to eating alternative proteins (including plant-based and lab-grown options) for reasons related to sustainability and availability. COVID-19 will likely accelerate these movements. How people shop was already being impacted by technology even prior to COVID-19. Amazon Go may be the best example of how technology is becoming more deeply integrated into the shopping experience. The concept’s “Just Walk Out” tech allows shoppers to pick their items and leave the store without ever having to interact with a cashier. With this innovation, Amazon gets to reduce its labour costs and customers save time by limiting interactions with staff, which now also equates to a safer shopping experience. As COVID-19 leads to an increased desire for fewer in-store touchpoints, look for seamless technology such as this to scale up. Perhaps the biggest shift in shopping behaviour during COVID-19 has been the acceleration of online

18  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

shopping. Mintel’s findings suggest many of the gains realized during the pandemic will not dissipate, and this is for a couple of reasons. First, shopping online is now more readily available due to recent investments by retailers. These investments will likely lead to more sophisticated platforms that will make online shopping more relevant for consumers. Walmart’s interest, along with Microsoft, in acquiring TikTok—while initially surprising— offers a glimpse of a future where retailers look to further integrate with social media platforms to better identify and meet consumers’ wants and needs. Secondly, with Canada’s population aging, older consumers represent a key demographic for online shopping. COVID-19 has undoubtedly helped expose more boomers and seniors to this space, and accelerated their adoption for reasons related to safety and ease. In short, online shopping is no longer just for younger adults. The 2020s will also likely see the rise of cell-based meat—meat produced in a way that involves harvesting cells from a living animal and replicating them to grow in a lab. Sounds tantalizing, right? Before you dismiss this outright, consider that the population of the world is nearing eight billion. The planet continues to warm and COVID-19 has resulted in more awareness of zoonotic diseases (diseases which are transmitted from animals), leading to a greater understanding how one’s lifestyle not only has ramifications for the planet on a broad level, but our day-to-day lives as well. Even though lab-grown meat is still in its infancy and barriers related to technology and cost remain, innovation in this space is progressing at a staggering rate. The development of gene-editing tools such as CRISPR offers the potential to create cellbased meats that are both tastier and healthier by increasing the quality of cell growth. While consumers will need time to adapt, the rise of cell-based meat will surely have profound implications for the broader food industry. Even as the attention paid to COVID-19 recedes in the coming years, its impact will likely continue to be felt through the innovations it accelerated. It’s impossible to know what the 2020s will bring at this point, but what is certain is that the innovation we’ll see will be truly disruptive. CG

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

EATING IN CANADA ||  Kathy Perrotta

Safety sells

Retailer health and safety regimes are now at the forefront of grocery’s in-store experience

There are benefits to purposely putting sanitizing activities in full view of customers as a way to promote confidence in all of the many steps being taken to make the shop­per experience safer

With food sampling, cooking demonstrations and many other in-store experience initiatives now on hold, there is a new entertainment element rising in importance in the shopper journey: watching people clean. While safety has always been top of mind for gro­ cery retailers and foodservice operators, it’s recently become a big component of the consumer decision process about where to spend their food dollars. Ipsos’ new Health & Safety Check-up study, which tracks a wide range of issues but focuses on hygiene and safety practices at a variety of Canadian retail outlets (including grocery stores), reports an interesting new twist on the importance of cleanliness. Before COVID-19, staff typically made every effort to shield shoppers from seeing their daily cleaning protocols. But this new data suggests there are benefits to purposefully putting sanitizing activities in full view of customers, both live and online, as a way to help promote confidence in all of the many steps being taken to make the shopper experience safer. It’s important to note that while Canadians now largely recognize they have a role and a responsibility to ensure the safety of our shared out-of-home environments, they still expect businesses to step up and take the lead. “At least one in five Canadians reports they would stop visiting essential service providers such as grocery stores (21%), gas stations (22%), banks (22%), pharmacies (24%) and home improvement stores (24%) if health and safety regimes weren’t up to their expectations, placing great pressure on businesses to get it right,” reports Becky Harris, Health & Safety Check-up study lead at Ipsos. Important metrics tracked among shoppers in the new COVID-19 environment include measures such as mask requirements, customer size limits, in-store temperature checks and dedicated entrances and exits, as well as in-store efforts such as contactless pay­ments, visible sanitizing of high-touch areas and directional

20  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

signage to manage traffic flow, just to name a few. Staff-related protocols are also critical, since employee interaction with shoppers remains a key element in the overall shopping experience. While new habits such as wearing gloves and masks and following social distancing guidelines, together with the presence of Plexiglass, continue to be important, it should not be forgotten that a staff member’s warm smile can’t be seen from behind a mask—so store staff still need to find ways to demonstrate to customers that they remain valued, particularly as fewer shopping trips are being made and online shopping is ramping up competition in the food retail arena. GROWING APPETITE FOR FOOD SAFETY Under the theme of safety, COVID-19 has also heightened consumer concern around food safety. The Ipsos FIVE consumption tracking study reports that more than two-thirds (69%) of Canadians prioritize food safety as an element of importance in deciding where to shop. Food safety needs and personalizing choices to one’s own specific safeguards may also be a contributing factor in a consumer’s preference for in-store shopping. SAFE SHOPPING ADVANTAGE About eight in 10 Canadians (83%) believe grocery stores are currently taking all the necessary precautions to ensure a safe shopping environment. It may surprise some to learn that discount grocery retailers outperformed many full-service retailers in their efforts to make the store environment safe, according to the report. The combination of value-orientation and strong health and safety assessment could be a hard-to-beat combination looking ahead. SAME RULES, DIFFERENT GAME As the pandemic wears on, and foodservice options continue to re-open, day-to-day health and safety protocols will, undoubtedly, be front and centre. While the entrenched rules of food safety, such as regular handwashing, preventing cross-contamination and time/temperature controls remain a key focus, communication of additional efforts in progress to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will be critical. Despite all the attention focused on e-commerce and the variety of delivery services available in our new COVID-19 reality, retailers need to ensure they don’t take their eyes off their store locations by continuing to invest in in-store safety, particularly while the overwhelming majority of consumers still prefer to shop in-person. CG

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



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THE By Rebecca Harris, Danny Kucharsky and Carol Neshevich

independents Independent grocers might not have all of the advantages of the national giants, but through their connection to community, relationships with customers, and staying focused on what makes them special, they compete with the big chains on their own terms. Canadian Grocer recently caught up with five indie grocers from across the country: Darrell Jones of SaveOn-Foods, Gary Sorenson of Georgia Main Food Group, Giancarlo Trimarchi of Vince’s Market, Anthony Longo of Longo’s and Sylvie Senay of Avril Supermarché Santé. Find out what makes their businesses unique, what keeps them up at night, how they’re tackling today’s changing retail landscape and what excites them most about the grocery business right now. Read on for edited excerpts of our interviews (and visit for extended versions of the Q&As). September/October 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 23

The independents

President Save-On-Foods SAVE-ON-FOODS is a fixture in Western Canada, with 180 locations and nine more slated to open within the next 18 months. Back in 1976, a young Darrell Jones got an after-school job as a grocery bagger at one of the company’s stores, at the time called Overwaitea, in Cranbrook, B.C., and he rose through the ranks to become president of Save- OnFoods by 2012. We chat with Jones about going the extra mile, what keeps him up at night, and why independents need to focus on what makes them special. Save-On-Foods was named B.C.’s Most Loved Brand for 2020 (by Ipsos and BC Business). Why does the brand resonate with consumers? We’re focused on our customers and our communities. Those are the big things. If you’re going to be the “most loved brand,” it’s about more than just selling groceries. It’s about how you interact with your customers in multiple ways. For example, with our e-commerce, we deliver it ourselves with our own vans. We’re not using a separate company to shop the groceries and to deliver them. We think it’s critical that we do it ourselves, because that’s the expectation our customers have, that we’re going to deliver that kind of service. You have to go the extra mile. It’s also about being involved in the community. For British Columbians, the Children’s Hospital is critical, and we’ve been involved in that for 30-plus years. It’s about [being involved with] food banks, it’s getting into schools for the lunch programs— all those kinds of things that really build on having strong social values and being more than just a place to buy groceries. What excites you most about the grocery business right now? Well, I think the thing that excites me most about the grocery business hasn’t changed a lot from three or four years ago. What excites me is the opportunity 24  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

What are the things keeping you up at night? I really worry about our ability to get the products that we need with the supply chain today. Obviously, the whole COVID issue keeps me up at night. I worry about the safety of our team members and our customers. Right now, that’s really paramount—are we doing enough? Are we doing the right thing every day? Are we taking the right precautions? I worry about small businesses having a tough time. I worry about what the economics of the country are going to look like over the next 12 to 36 months. There’s a lot to be concerned about. But if you stay focused on doing the right things for your customers and really listening carefully to them—I cannot stress that enough—and reacting to them, I think you can get through even these economic downturns, because people always want a place they can go to and trust to get their food. If you focus on the right things, you’ll be OK. How can independents best tackle the changing retail landscape? Here’s what I think: the smaller independents, in particular, need to find a way to partner with other companies to lower their cost of goods. Because as the big companies get bigger, the smaller companies can easily get squeezed. As far as I can see, the best way forward is to figure out how to work together and partner more. We’ve done that with Calgary Co-op and we’ve done it with other companies. That’s the way, from our perspective, for smaller companies or even individual stores [to thrive]. Now, the advantage smaller players have is they can do a good job focusing on the customer and community—that’s where independents have the big advantage. If they focus on being unique, don’t chase after the big guys, don’t follow anybody, but do the things that make them special and make them great, they’ll do well. A lot of independents know that, and they’re very good at it. That’s the reason they survive. Any final thoughts? The grocery industry is critical to our country, and our team members within our company—and all companies—deserve huge accolades. These people are great. And the vast majority have done it with a smile on their face, wanting to do the right thing. So I guess my final thought is, I just want to congratulate all of the people, not only in the food business, but in all the critical services that have helped us on the front lines through COVID. They truly are our heroes.—By Carol Neshevich



for us to continue to grow our business by focusing on the customers, what they want and how they want it. Our whole growth plan is around focusing on customers’ wants and needs. I don’t think there’s been a better time for people in the grocery business who truly focus on their customers.


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The independents

President & COO Georgia Main Food Group GEORGIA MAIN Food Group has roots that stretch back as far as 1903, when Hok Yat Louie, an immigrant from China, opened his first store in Vancouver. Since those early days, the Louie family business has grown to include 24 IGA stores and five Fresh St. Markets, all in B.C. The company, originally the H.Y. Louie Co., underwent a restructuring in 2018, with Gary Sorenson being named president and COO of the newly-renamed Georgia Main Food Group. Here, Sorenson chats about being a regionally-focused grocer, why size matters and the importance of staying true to who you are. Georgia Main/HY Louie has been around for 117 years. To what do you attribute its longevity? Being a privately-held company that operates within the province allows us to make quick decisions in the direction of innovation. And our owners truly care about the employees and the communities we operate in, and I think that just reflects well on the Louie family and how they’ve approached the business for over 100 years. What makes you stand out from other grocers? We’re a regionally-focused grocer, and our grocery stores serve the community and are truly part of the community. We support local and provincial initiatives where it matters most, and we play an important role in supporting local growers … we can go to market with some of the smaller producers that the bigger chains can’t, and it’s just because of size— they need very large volumes in order to support [at the larger chains]. So, we can sneak in and develop really good relationships with the smaller suppliers and truly be more focused on local. How have you been able to respond to recent changes in consumer demand? Well, with COVID, nobody was really prepared for 26  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

What excites you most about the grocery business right now? The excitement is in the unknown. The industry is evolving all the time. E-comm, online—the changes are fast and furious, and the grocery stores are evolving, too. And it’s not just the store, but also the home meal replacement offerings. We’ve talked about [HMR] for years in the industry … but it’s really only been in the past few years I’ve seen grocery stores develop products that are absolutely as good as—or better than—restaurant-quality home meal replacement products. That’s exciting! How can independents best tackle today’s changing retail landscape? You have to be true to who you are. Don’t try to be something your banner is not prepared to be. And I think the independent has to be nimble and react to their community, and the demands of the consumers within the community. If they do that, I think they’ll be successful and continue to grow and deepen the relationship with consumers. The other thing that we have to really keep going on, as an industry, is technology. We had a three- to five-year plan for e-commerce, and COVID arrived and that took it to a three- to five-month plan. We had to adjust quickly. Fortunately, we had e-comm set up. We were working on developing our e-commerce platform … so we were already down that road and ready to react. E-commerce is growing exponentially; I don’t think that’s going to change. I don’t think it will continue to grow at the pace it is right now, but it’ll definitely continue to grow through the next decade for sure. What are some of your company’s greatest strengths and opportunities? Our ability to react quickly, be nimble and be humble, and work at developing our relationships with those local producers. I think there’s always going to be room for the independent amongst the giants. —By Carol Neshevich



that. Nobody had a playbook that said, “This is where we’re going to go. This is what we’re going to do.” You look back at SARS in 2002, and you say to yourself [that was] completely different. We went through those scares and bad times before, but it was nothing like what we’re facing now. Our IGA stores are smaller [in size] and I think that has been beneficial for us [during the pandemic]. Same goes for our Fresh St. Markets. Their size allows consumers to do their shop quickly and get out. And I think, for a lot of customers, that has been a plus because they can avoid the bigger crowds, and they can do a grocery shop a little bit faster, because it’s easier to navigate a smaller store than it is trying to get through some of the bigger stores that we compete with.

The independents


Partner Vince’s Market

VINCE’S MARKET’S history runs deep: the independent grocer opened its first store in Toronto in 1929. Nearly three decades later, the Vince brothers moved the store to Sharon, Ont., as an open-air fruit market; and in 1986, the Vince family sold the company to Carmen Trimarchi and his business partner. Today, Vince’s Market is operated by Carmen and his son Giancarlo, and currently has five locations in Sharon, Newmarket, Uxbridge and Tottenham, Ont. Here, we chat with Giancarlo Trimarchi about keeping employees happy and engaged, the challenges of operating an in­d e­p endent grocery business these days, and being prepared for a second wave of COVID-19.


How do you account for the staying power of Vince’s Market? I think it comes down to being consistent in our operations and delivering on our value proposition to our customers, day in and day out. We’re able to build trust with our customers that we will serve them to the best of our abilities, and if we don’t, we’ll make it right. Another factor is we’re pretty riskaverse as a family and as owners. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to open new stores and take chances, but we’re going to make sure we do our homework before we do. How do you keep up with changing consumer demands? This starts with our management team: we have to be open to changing consumer demands, and that comes first by having a passion for this business and industry. It also goes back to that risk aversion—we often don’t participate in fads, but look to develop an offering around longer-term trends. We will work changing demands into our offering slowly and steadily. What I’ve learned is that we cannot force a trend on our customers. We let it grow organically.

What is the biggest challenge in operating a grocery business today? Building a competent and engaged team, and attracting and retaining high performers who are passionate about this industry. It is tough sledding out there, attracting people who are interested in pursuing a career in retail at the store level. As an independent, it’s tough to nurture store employees and give them new opportunities. Unlike a more conventional corporate chain environment, the opportunities to move to a different store or up to head office are more limited. How do you keep your employees engaged and happy? It starts with developing their trust that we value each and every one of them. We start with a robust onboarding and training experience, giving employees ample opportunity to learn about our company and their role. We commit to regular reviews to ensure we have open lines of communication and are providing constructive feedback and positive reinforcement. We also communicate with our staff daily through our “Daily Banana” newsletter, where we share what’s going on in the stores and pass along messages of encouragement. We recognize the “Best of the Bunch,” a monthly award to a team member at each location. My father Carmen and I write birthday cards to each team member and provide a store gift card. We recognize and encourage our employees all the time instead of once a year at their review, or randomly at a store visit. As an independent, we don’t have a big HR department or people who specifically oversee employee engagement, so we have to make it part of our everyday business. How are you preparing for a potential second wave of COVID-19? From a health and safety protocols standpoint, we are prepared. Product availability is the area we continue to prepare for. I don’t know that we’ll see another toilet paper wave if everything shuts down again. What I’m more concerned about is the supply of fresh products, particularly around produce, poultry, beef and pork. We know that if manufacturing facilities have outbreaks, that can greatly change supply and price, and it can happen quickly. So, we continue to establish new product supply sources to ensure we have access to the products customers need during a full shutdown. How can independents best tackle the changing retail landscape? It comes back to the same ways independents have survived and thrived through any period of change: staying aware of your value proposition to your customers, evolving and adapting with your customers, staying passionate about the business and executing each and every day.—By Rebecca Harris

September/October 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 27

The independents

President & CEO Longo’s STARTING OUT as a small fruit market in Toronto, opened in 1956 by Italian immigrant brothers Joe, Tommy and Gus Longo, Longo’s has since grown to a network of 36 stores in Ontario. Still a family affair, the current president and CEO is Anthony Longo (son of Tommy). Here we chat with him about the importance of a level playing field for independents, bringing the joy back to food, and why grocers need to be agile and ready to pivot, pandemic or not. Longo’s has been around since 1956. Why does it have such staying power? We’ve stayed true to who we are and what we stand for all these years. We’ve consistently delivered against our quality service and value promise to consumers. And then I’d say, most importantly, we’ve evolved our offering over time to meet consumer needs. Our purpose is to fuel happier, healthier lives, and we’ve kept that in the forefront of what we do. So we make sure we do that with our team members, our guests and our supplier partners, too. What’s the core business philosophy of Longo’s? We did a bunch of work a number of years ago to really capure what our “DNA” is ... and it really came down to “treating you like family.” That’s really our culture, the essence of who we are. What are some challenges for independents right now? Industry structure disadvantages independents, in my opinion, and there are a couple of key things that jump out. One is that there’s been so much consolidation. The top five or six retailers in the country really dictate terms around suppliers, minimum shipments and those sorts of things ... so sometimes we’re at a disadvantage in trying to buy competitively in the marketplace. I think an industry code of conduct is required. And the other big one is credit card fees are 28  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

What currently excites you most about the grocery business? What’s really exciting is that people have found their kitchens again. We really see a big opportunity in bringing joy back to food … and also helping people with their meal solutions. I think that’s really exciting because you can only make so many meals [from scratch] until you say, “OK, I need a little break from this.” So helping them with meal solutions, new ideas, making it easy for kids to play a role in the kitchen—really just bringing the joy back. What issues keep you up at night? There are two big things. The first is the emotional toll this pandemic has taken on our team. It’s been tough because while [the pandemic] brought out the best in some people, it’s also brought out the worst in some people. Thankfully, it’s been a very, very small minority of people that it has brought the worst out in, in terms of how our team gets treated—and we’re not going to put up with consumers who belittle our team, or harass them in any way at all. [Staff] have the authority to ask people to leave the store, but it’s been difficult to hear some of the stories that they’ve had to deal with. I worry about their mental health and the emotional toll. The second thing, of course, is the second wave [of COVID-19]. Is it going to come? When? How bad is it going to be? I think we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. How can independents best tackle a changing retail landscape? Always do the right thing for the long term. You can’t be shortsighted to try and chase profit and sales for today; it’s about what does my business look like five years from now? What’s the reputation that I’m building? Because as independent grocers in our communities, we live and work in those communities, so our reputation is everything. You want to do the right thing, always. And you have to be agile. I get really proud of how everyone pivoted when this pandemic hit; but it’s the same thing in non-pandemic times, you have to pivot. If veganism and vegetarianism are becoming more and more popular, we’ve got to do more in that area; or [if] health and wellness is more important, we have to focus on that. Or if people are becoming more value-conscious, how do we provide better value? It really depends on where the consumers are, but it’s just continuing to be innovative, and continuing to be the best at understanding your customers.—By Carol Neshevich



a major cost now for independents. We know credit card fees are much higher for independents, so we’re fighting hard through CFIG and the Small Business Coalition to try to get government to reduce them. We can compete with big chains any day of the week, but we need a level playing field to do so.

The independents


Co-founder/Co-owner Avril Supermarché Santé IN 1994, Sylvie Senay and Rolland Tanguay launched Avril Supermarché Santé, an organic and natural foods store in Granby, Que. With organic fare exploding in popularity, Avril has expanded to eight stores in the province. A ninth, just south of Montreal, is planned for next year. Avril co-founder and co-owner Senay spoke to Canadian Grocer about COVID challenges, the company’s expansion, and the growing enthusiasm for natural organic foods.


What’s the biggest challenge operating a grocery business right now? It’s the COVID crisis, undoubtedly. We have had to make adjustments on a daily basis. Government regulations changed continuously, almost every day. We had to make our stores safe for shopping: install Plexiglass, disinfect shopping carts, terminals and counters, provide hand sanitizer, etc. Given the fear that was instilled in the population and among our staff, it required constant management. Many employees did not want to or could not come to work, either out of fear or because their children weren’t going to school and daycare wasn’t available. With the closing of our restaurant-bistros, we were able to relocate employees to make up for the lack of staff. We developed phone orders for in-store pickup and a delivery service. Our online orders have exploded. How do you account for Avril’s success over the years? Twenty five years ago, there were few natural product stores and they were very marginal. We started very small by buying a 1,000-sq.-ft. store. As we were already consumers of natural foods, the field excited us. Over time, we saw growing enthusiasm for natural organic foods. The demand was there. So, we decided in 2007 to launch our expansion plan. We created a hybrid concept that is a cross between traditional grocery, fine grocery and a pharmacy.

Given that my husband and I were already informed consumers, we created a store concept that we loved and clients responded in kind. What is the “essence” of your business? Our employees are at the heart of Avril and customer satisfaction is our priority. Our stores are designed and thought out to showcase natural products— they’re the star products in our stores. Organic products often come from small companies whose owners have put their hearts and souls into producing them. We wanted to create an environment that would highlight them. How do you keep up with changing consumer demands? As we’re in the heart of the action every day, we’re very much in tune with our clients. We always try to be on trend. We follow what’s happening elsewhere in the world to always keep a step ahead. How have you had to pivot your business this year? We’ve accelerated our IT development. What was originally planned for the coming years, we did in a few months. For example, before COVID, two to three people worked on online orders. During COVID, up to 40 people have filled orders and worked on improving processes. We’re also seeing a strong trend toward in-store phone orders. We are developing a click-and-collect service to meet this growing need. Two years ago, we opened our distribution and logistics centre to support our expansion. Luckily, our distribution centre allowed us to supply stores during the COVID period. How are you preparing for a potential second wave of COVID-19? Everything is in place. Our information systems have been strengthened and we continue to develop new procedures. We’ve redone our website as well as our transactional site, which will be launched this fall. To respond to the growing demand, we’ve reviewed our assembly line for online orders. What keeps you up at night? This is the fourth recession we’ve gone through. Our experience allows us to confront any challenge. Nothing really prevents us from sleeping, unless it’s answers to problems that come to us during the night and ideas swirling endlessly in our heads. What’s the status of your new CF Promenades St-Bruno store (near Montreal)? We will open our ninth store in the mall’s Marché des Promenades at the beginning of May 2021. It will be based on the model of our Laval outlet. We are also working on an urban concept that will see the light of day in 2021.—By Danny Kucharsky

September/October 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 29

The indie landscape


INDEPENDENTS IN THIS, THE MOST challenging of years, independent grocers have been tested again and again and more often than not they’ve risen to the challenge. This doesn’t surprise Ron Welke, associate vice-president, food at Federated Co-operatives Limited and chair of Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). “Their resiliency, their innovation, their desire to serve their communities really shined through and they rose to the occasion,” he says. “They [independents] are making a big difference in the communities they serve.” But things could be better for independents. We recently spoke to Welke and Tom Shurrie, president and CEO of CFIG (an organization representing some 4,000 independent grocers) about some of the big pain points CFIG is working to ease. Here’s what they had to say: LEVELLING THE PLAYING FIELD —The pandemic has raised new awareness of a not-so-level playing field among Canada’s grocers. The big guys can make demands of suppliers that indies simply can’t, cultivating an unfair retail landscape, says Welke. Recently, there have been renewed calls for a code of conduct for the industry, similar to codes adopted in Australia and the United Kingdom. “We’ve talked about the total industry coming together to create the code. If that’s with government, that’s one thing, but on the other side, it would be good to have a [voluntary] code like there already is established within the payments industry in Canada,” says Shurrie. Such a code would constitute a new rulebook for the industry that would help ensure transparency and fairness. “We encourage everyone to work with us on that,” he says. COVID’S IMPACT ON CASH —Consumers seeking fewer touchpoints in store and retailers opting to go cashless—in an effort to curb the spread of the virus— along with the rise of e-commerce, has all brought about a change in the payments landscape. “We’ve 30  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

CFIG’s president & CEO Tom Shurrie (top) and Ron Welke, associate VP, food at FCL and CFIG chair

seen increased credit card use versus cash, and that’s obviously causing retailers some incremental fees,” says Welke. CFIG’s position is that the fees charged by card companies are not reasonable and it has been working for years with other trade groups to lobby credit card companies and the federal government to lower the fees. “When we look at other jurisdictions across the globe, our interchange fees are quite high, so it continues to be an issue for grocers.” PREPARING FOR A SECOND WAVE —Anyone following the reports of COVID-19 spikes across the country might think a second wave is imminent. If it does happen, Welke says changes that independents have put in place in the first wave will set them up well for what comes next. “We’ve learned a lot over the last six months.” That said, he wants independent grocers to get their share of product this time around. Shurrie agrees: “We’re asking suppliers in advance to work with us to ensure there’s a constant supply [of products] to independents.” He sees the reliable supply as a food security issue for his members in remote and rural communities across Canada. “It’s critical that these communities have the products they need so there’s not food insecurity.” SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITIES, TOO—While the grocery shopping environment has been challenging over the last several months, there’s an opportunity to gain customers. “Independents have seen some new customers and there’s an opportunity to retain those customers,” says Welke, so long as grocers “continue to make the shopping environment one that customers are going to enjoy and feel comfortable in, both in the stores and by providing improved online platforms, too.” Another opportunity lies in “cracking the nut” on what consumers will be looking for from a foodservice perspective, he says. With food bars likely not making a return in-store anytime soon, the opportunity lies in finding ways to provide busy customers with those meal solutions they’re used to.  CG


CFIG’s Tom Shurrie and FCL’s Ron Welke on levelling the playing field and helping indies prepare for what comes next  By Shellee Fitzgerald

MAKING A DIFFERENCE NEVER FELT SO GOOD Canadian-made Bathroom Tissue Couture returns to the runway this October in support of the breast cancer cause and Canada’s fashion design community. A seventeen-year tradition, the Cashmere Collection has featured more than 200 original gowns crafted from luxuriously soft Cashmere Bathroom Tissue. Nothing feels like making a difference. Nothing feels like Cashmere®.

Generation Next thinking


TAKING ACTION on diversity, equity and inclusion

Time’s up on ineffective workplace DE&I programs. Here are some best practices to create strategies that actually work  By Rebecca Harris

The need for diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace isn’t new, but it’s having a massive moment in the spotlight. With growing global racial and social justice movements, sparked by police killings of Black Americans, many business leaders are speaking out against systemic racism and bolstering DE&I efforts in their organizations. “Change sometimes comes gradually, but sometimes things can shift dramatically,” says Wendy Cukier, professor of entrepreneurship and strategy and founder of the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University. The outrage around George Floyd’s killing “created an opportunity we haven’t seen in many years, where large companies are stepping up and committing not just to address diversity

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DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION DEFINED generally, but anti-Black racism specifically.” While many organizations want to step up their efforts, DE&I across sectors has a tepid track record and studies suggest progress has been slow. For example, McKinsey & Company’s report, “Women in the Workplace 2019,” found that representation of women in senior leadership has increased, but women continue to be under-represented at every level. The Diversity Institute’s recent “Diverse Representation on Boards” study found that women occupy 41% on boards of directors in the cities studied, 10% are racialized, and just 0.8% are Black. “What we’re seeing in the research, at least, is that women are making progress ... but there is a lot less progress when it comes to racialized people, Indigenous people and certainly Black people,” says Cukier. When it comes to fostering inclusive cultures, there’s a perception gap between what leaders and employees think of their organizations. Accenture’s global report, “Getting to Equal 2020,” found that while 70% of leaders feel they create empowering environments—in which employees can be themselves, raise concerns and innovate without fear of failure—just 40% of employees agree. “Year after year, businesses have been speaking about equality and culture in the workplace, but some organizations haven’t actually taken action,” says Zahra Jadavji, managing director of inclusion & diversity for Accenture in Canada. Despite recognizing the importance of culture, she adds, leaders consistently rank it as a low priority for their organizations. That’s one of the main reasons DE&I initiatives often fail. “Historically, companies haven’t given diversity and inclusion strategies the right priority and the right budget,” says Karlyn Percil-Mercieca, CEO of KDPM Consulting Group, which specializes in leadership, equity, diversity and inclusion. “It’s really just a box that you’re trying to check off, and now you can see the results of that approach.” On a human and societal level, the need to prioritize DE&I has never been clearer. At the same time, the business benefits are increasingly important. A diverse and inclusive workplace can attract top talent, drive employee engagement and retention, and lead to more profitable and innovative organizations, notes Andrea Wynter, head of HR at ADP Canada, a payroll and HR solutions firm. For grocery retailers in particular, a diverse workforce helps them better connect with their customers, who come from all different backgrounds, races, genders and cultures. “Retailers that build and promote diversity in the workplace reflect a company that is representative of the customers they serve, and make it easier for many different people to relate to their company and brand,” says Wynter. 34  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

Diversity refers to psychological, physical and social differences among individuals, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, age, gender and sexual orientation. Equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all people, while striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Inclusion is the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported and valued to fully participate. SOURCES: THE NATIONAL MULTICULTURAL INSTITUTE, UC BERKELEY INITIATIVE FOR EQUITY, INCLUSION, AND DIVERSITY

For those wanting to do better and do more, here are some best practices to build DE&I in the workplace and create meaningful change:

1  Lead from the top and embed DE&I into all aspects of the business. To create diverse and inclusive workplaces, business leaders have to believe that it matters—and make it a business imperative. “Diversity and inclusion start at the top,” says Wynter. For HR professionals, “getting buy-in from senior leadership starts with providing a vision that they can understand and get behind.” Bringing the vision to life means prioritizing diversity and inclusion alongside other business objectives and embedding it into the overall business strategy, she adds. One grocery retailer doing just that is Sobeys (and parent company Empire). Over the last two years, its DE&I strategy focused on gender diversity. The company has made strides, such as increasing the representation of women in leadership positions (35% growth rate at the vice-president level, for instance). Sobeys also introduced a diversity, equity and inclusion council comprised of senior leaders from across the organization, who lead specific DE&I initiatives. “Ensuring any DE&I program is leader-led, not an HR program, is so fundamental and that’s where you really make that meaningful difference,” says Kerry Tompson, vice-president of talent & inclusion at Sobeys. While the company will continue its work on gender diversity, it’s now shifting to a broader strategy focused on creating a fair, equitable and inclusive environment for everyone. The idea is “to embed diversity, equity and inclusion in everything we do,” says Tompson. “Fundamental to that is continuing to move forward with our leader-led approach where we can take a systemic approach to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

2  Reduce hiring biases and support broad recruiting initiatives. Biases in systems, processes and behaviours can seriously impede progress on recruiting and hiring diverse teams, so companies need to look hard at this. “With Black Lives Matter, anti-Black systemic racism and anti-Indigenous systemic racism [coming to the forefront right now], we’ve really amplified our focus on equity,” says Tompson. “In the near term, we have prioritized doing a robust review of our systems and practices, specifically in HR, to ensure that we are mitigating bias and systemic bias within our systems.” ADP Canada’s Wynter says there are several ways companies can reduce human bias and foster more inclusive and diverse recruitment techniques: use inclusive job descriptions to attract diverse

Generation Next thinking candidates; leverage technology to reduce human bias, such as using software to automatically apply screening criteria to resumes; use blind hiring methods, such as anonymized resumes; ensure your recruitment team is sensitive to unconscious bias, which could be related to race, age, gender, income and more; and broaden talent sourcing to a variety of different places. Business leaders themselves also have to look in the mirror and reflect on how they hire other senior leaders. “This is how leaders often pick successors or high-potential folks in their organization: they see someone who reminds them of themselves,” says the Diversity Institute’s Cukier. That can mean they went to the same school, enjoy the same hobbies and look the same. “And so, you have to really unpack your processes to make sure that the way in which you’re hiring and making decisions is not distorted by these traditions where, ‘We’re doing it this way because this is how we’ve always done it,’” says Cukier.

make a difference with our customer experience and it will help us make better decisions.” Longo’s, an Ontario grocery retailer known for its strong workplace culture centred on “treating you like family,” is currently developing a new DE&I strategy and is identifying gaps and opportunities. The company is in the early stages of the journey, but chief human resources officer Liz Volk also stresses the importance of having an open dialogue. “I know a lot of organizations, especially during the civil unrest earlier this summer, have had a lot of open listening sessions,” she says. “I think that’s so important—to make sure you’ve got your ear to the ground, to make people aware that [these issues] are important to your organization, and let them know where you stand on a lot of these matters. So, I think that’s going to be a big learning for us: opening the dialogue and letting people know it’s important to us.”

3  Listen and learn—and make sure employees feel psychologically safe.

ADP’s Wynter notes that diversity and inclusion metrics provide an understanding of how an organization is performing. “Data should be used to make decisions that may affect the health of an organization, and issues of diversity and inclusion are no exception,” she says. According to Wynter, the types of data organizations should focus on include: hiring and promotion statistics for women, people of colour, veterans, LGBTQ employees, and employees with disabilities; retention rates by demographic; engagement level scores and results from culture surveys reviewed by demographic and geography; and employee demographic data, with a focus on reviewing the differential between majority and non-majority populations. While data is important, it may not tell the whole story. “While establishing and tracking goals and targets is essential, leaders need to go beyond the data to fully understand the perception gap [in workplace culture],” says Accenture’s Jadavji. Some ways to get feedback are face-to-face meetings, focus groups, town halls, online listening, employee networks and chat groups to check in on employees. For organizations embarking on a DE&I journey, Percil-Mercieca says there’s one major pitfall to avoid: don’t be afraid to mess up. “I think there is so much stress around ‘will I say the right thing? I might say the wrong thing,’ and I get it ... Your brain is designed to ensure that you don’t step outside of your comfort zone,” she says. “You will stumble, you will fail, you will be learning a lot, you will be messing up a lot. Don’t let that get in the way of taking the right action and continuing to do the work. It’s a marathon, so pace yourself.” CG

For KDPM Consulting Group’s Percil-Mercieca, creating an equitable, inclusive workplace culture starts with listening. “You have to see the human at the centre of the struggle. You have to understand the lived experiences. You have to know what they’ve been through. You have to also understand how they experience your culture.” She explains that many organizations attempting to create a workplace of inclusion haven’t really fully understood the impact of that on Black employees or racialized employees, for example. When you look at the decision makers, says Percil-­ Mercieca, they largely all look like each other— namely white and male. “But the decisions and the policies that are being made are not being signed off by the people who have been impacted the most.” So again, listen to your staff. “Have you created space for you to truly hear from them and to hear what they’re going through and what the struggles are? And what do they need in order to have psychological safety in the workplace?” By that, Percil-Mercieca means creating a culture where employees feel safe enough to give feedback and communicate what they need to thrive at work. For Sobeys, creating a respectful and inclusive environment has long been a strategic priority. As part of its new DE&I plan, the company is committed to “continuing to listen, learn and improve,” says Tompson. “We know that diverse teams and inclusive environments perform better. Creating an environment where team members can thrive, where everyone is treated equitably, and where we bring those diverse perspectives to the table will

4  Use data to inform DE&I efforts ... and then go beyond the data.

“Have you created space for you to truly hear from them and to hear what they’re going through and what the struggles are? And what do they need in order to have psychological safety in the workplace?”

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A CUT ABOVE Grand Prix Winners

the best new

grocery products have been revealed. In all, 41 Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards were handed out at a virtual gala presented by the Retail Council of Canada in late July. The 27th edition of the awards recog­ nized the most impressive food and consumer goods

to hit the Canadian market in 2019, as determined by a jury of industry experts. Among the notable winners: Montpak International’s Ready to Cook Veal and a veggie burger from MorningStar Farms— both companies nabbed two trophies each for their innovative products. Read on for the full list of winners:

National Brands  FOOD Gluten Free Loaf Fancy Pokket Corporation winner: Bakery Fresh (Par-baked) Goodums Bake Mix Goodums Food Inc. winner: Baking Needs & Dried Bakery Oasis Infusion A. Lassonde Inc. winner: Beverages Jif Dark Roast Creamy Peanut Butter Smucker Foods of Canada winner: Condiments & Sauces


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Grand Prix Winners Food

continued Milk Chocolate Pistachios with Pink Himalayan Salt Chocolat Lamontagne, Inc. winner: Confectionery & Shelf Stable Desserts Olympic Organic Kids Agropur winner: Dairy (Milk, Yogurt, Cheese & Spreadables) Bon Secret Quality Cheese winner: Deli Meats & Cheeses Udderly Ridiculous Goat’s Milk Ice Cream Udderly Ridiculous Inc. winner: Desserts (Fresh/ Refrigerated or Frozen) Giovanni Rana Refrigerated Filled Pastas Rana Meal Solutions Canada Inc. winner: Frozen or Refrigerated Prepared Foods & Entrees MorningStar Farms Veggie Burger MorningStar Farms winner: Fruits, Vegetables and Produce (Fresh, Refrigerated or Frozen) Ready to Cook Veal Montpak International winner: Meat, Egg & Seafood Fresh (Refrigerated or Frozen) GoGo Quinoa Puffs GoGo Quinoa winner: Snack (Savoury) Planet Hemp Superfood Super-Seeds Hempco Canada Superfoods winner: Snack (Sweet) Apple Sweet Potato Multigrain Cereal Baby Gourmet Foods Inc. winner: Baby Care

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National Brands  NON-FOOD Papyrus – Royal Butterfly Carlton Cards winner: General Merchandise Hefty Ultra Strong Waste Bags Reynolds Consumer Products winner: Household Products Nova Sea Atlantic Sea Cucumber Akso Marine Biotech Inc. winner: Health Care — Over the Counter Live Clean Natural Deodorant Hain Celestial Canada winner: Personal Care Nature’s Recipe Chewy Bites Treats Smucker Foods of Canada winner: Pet Needs

Grand Prix Winners

Private Label  FOOD & NON-FOOD Food: Irresistibles Roti Flat Breads Metro Inc. winner: Bakery Fresh — Par-baked Compliments Mocktail Sobeys Inc. winner: Beverages

Special awards

Great Value Salt-Free Spice Blend Grinders Walmart Canada winner: Condiments & Sauces

Ready to Cook Veal Montpak International winner: All Canadian Great Value Salt-Free Spice Blend Walmart Canada winner: Overall Consumer Value Free Range Solar Power Eggs Green Valley Farms, a div­ ision of Burnbrae Farms Ltd. winner: Innovation and Originality MorningStar Farms Veggie Burger MorningStar Farms winner: Innovative Packaging

Selection Premium Belgian Chocolate Cups Metro Inc. winner: Confectionery & Shelf Stable Desserts Irresistibles 2% Strawberry Skyr Yogurt Metro Inc. winner: Dairy (Milk, Yogurt, Cheese & Spreadables)

Irresistibles Naturalia Gluten-Free Pasta Metro Inc. winner: Shelf Stable Prepared Foods & Entrees Co-op GOLD PURE Kettle Cooked Potato Chips Federated Co-Operatives Limited winner: Snack (Savoury) Be Better Dark Chocolate Covered Whole Almonds Dusted with Real Raspberries Rexall Pharmacy Group Ltd. winner: Snack (Sweet)


Our Finest Manchego Walmart Canada winner: Deli Meats & Cheeses

Personnelle Wipes with Saline Solution for Stuffy Noses Metro Inc. winner: Baby Care

Co-op Gold Cookie Cake Federated Co-Operatives Limited winner: Desserts (Fresh/ Refrigerated or Frozen)

Paderno Pre-Seasoned Smooth Release Cast Iron Skillet Canadian Tire Corporation winner: General Merchandise

Sensations by Compliments Ultimate Dutch Apple Pie Sobeys Inc. winner: Frozen or Refrigerated Prepared Foods & Entrees

Be Better Age Defying Overnight Mask Rexall Pharmacy Group Ltd. winner: Personal Care

Irresistibles Organics Frozen Fruit for Smoothie Metro Inc. winner: Fruit, Vegetable & Pro­­duce (Fresh, Refrigerated or Frozen)

40  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

100% Canadian Angus Square Beef Burgers Save-On-Foods winner: Meat, Egg & Seafood (Fresh, Refrigerated or Frozen)

Western Family Functional Dog Treats Save-On-Foods winner: Pet Needs Equate Beauty Dry Shampoo Walmart Canada winner: Hair Care




The Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards are a registered trademark owned by the Retail Council of Canada. ©/TM/MC Big Heart Pet, Inc.


Giving Bread a Boost Fleischmann’s®, the trusted name in baking, has launched Bread Booster™, a dough enhancer designed to be added to the flour on yeast recipes, in addition to the yeast called for. Consumers should add 1½ teaspoons of Fleischmann’s Bread Booster™ dough enhancer for every cup of flour in their recipe in addition to the amount of yeast stipulated. The result is faster and higher rises, tastier and fluffier bread that stays fresh longer.

European Inspired Piller’s has introduced snacks inspired by the delicious flavours of Europe. These meat snacks have a firm salami bite, are naturally wood smoked and high in protein. With three varieties for consumers to choose from and no refrigeration required, these salami snacks are perfect for any occasion. Guten Appetit! Buon Appetito!

Making Meatless Delicious Food is about enjoyment – if only the good stuff was healthier! At the Meatless Farm that’s what they do. They make the good stuff consumers love, better! Meatless Farm meat free ground is 100% vegan, gluten-free, high in protein and is a source of fibre. Meatless Farm ground looks, cooks and tastes just like beef ground, making it the perfect swap from meat without sacrificing taste or texture.


Ultra-filtered, UltraPūr Lactantia UltraPūr is pure, fresh milk from Canadian farms that is ultra-filtered to concentrate its natural goodness to give consumers more of what they want…. 50% more protein, 25% less lactose (Sugar), and 10 essential nutrients. That’s a lot of wholesome goodness in a glass.I

New Launch from CRISPERS CRISPERS has launched a new Cheddar Flavour, the first innovation by this brand in over a decade. Cheese has been identified as a best performing flavour in the category1. Available in Canada only, CRISPERS Cheddar Flavour has the crunch of CRISPERS, topped with Cheddar flavoured seasoning baked right here in Canada. The new Cheddar flavour is a tasty snack, and a great choice for consumers as they consider snack options this fall. 1 Source: McCormick, Mintel GNPD (January 2015-August 2017), Savory Biscuits/Crackers Canada

Award Winning Cookie Mix by Goodums™ Goodums™ are new wholesome bake mixes made only with clean and simple premium ingredients, without additives and preservatives. Each bake mix features a quality fruit or vegetable and is packed with whole grains. Goodums™ can help grow the premium bake mix category and meet shopper demand for healthy choices. Available in three flavours and an excellent addition to your baking aisle!






TIME FOR SOME CHEER! Celebrations may be smaller this year, but seasonal sales don’t have to be. Here’s how to make the most of the 2020 holiday season By Michele Sponagle

The pandemic might be playing the role of Scrooge for the upcoming holiday season, but before the snow flies, it appears retailers, manufacturers and distributors still seem cautiously jolly about sales. Despite the fact the 2020 holidays will look and feel different than years past, the festive spirit prevails with grocers still hopeful that celebrations around Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas and New Year’s will be profitable. They have a lot riding of the holidays, which are typically responsible for a significant chunk of annual sales. “This is the biggest shopping period of all,” confirms Jeff Doucette, general manager, Field Agent Canada, based in Calgary. “Sales may be down in some categories, but not on core items related to the main holiday meal.” He predicts consumers will “go all out” and splurge on premium items, since they will likely be celebrating on a smaller scale, with fewer

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Aisles guests at parties and dinners. And size will matter, expected to continue. And e-commerce continues to with shoppers looking for items available in scaled- grow at Quality Foods. “The pandemic has fast-fordown individual servings. Think cupcakes and tarts warded shoppers five years in the future,” he adds, instead of cakes and pies. “although it still remains a small percentage with How will consumers be shopping? “Online shop- less than 5% of grocery purchases being online.” ping is here to stay,” says Doucette. “People will be Schley believes products that will perform well will trying to avoid crowds, especially closer to Christ- be snack foods (thank you, stress eating!), baking-remas.” To navigate the surge in online orders, he lated items, and organic alternatives. suggests grocers should make sure In many ways, it’s business as usual they are well-staffed to cope and to “There’s also an for the B.C.-based grocer. “We aren’t promote an “order early” message opportunity for planning anything different per se,” to their customers so they avoid disretailers to provide he says. “We will just try to make the appointment. “It also gives grocers a a layer of positivity. shopping experience as comfortable better sense of demand, which helps They aren’t just and relaxing as possible while makwith managing inventory,” he adds. selling food. They ing people safe.” COVID -19 and winter weather are helping to build In Ontario, Denninger’s Foods of remain the wild cards. “It’s hard to holiday spirit” the World expects to have a good holpredict what will happen,” says Syliday season, which typically makes up vain Charlebois, director of the Agrifood Analytics about 40% of its core business. Less dining out means Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “We’ve seen more dining in and at-home entertaining. Denmajor holidays over the last six months undermined ninger’s anticipates high demand for fixings for meat by the pandemic.” The good news, as he points out, is and cheese charcuterie boards, prepared foods, and consumers now have experience on how to cope with frozen entrees. “We’re introducing a limited number the uncertainty and follow store protocols. of new products,” notes Nathalie Coutayar, merchanThat opens the door for grocers to spread some fes- dise and marketing manager. “It’s not the time to take tive cheer to their customers, with positive messaging on new challenges.” Instead, the retailer will stick to around the importance of creating happy memories tried-and-true products customers already love. with new traditions. “There’s also an opportunity As a grocer that has relied heavily on customer for retailers to provide a layer of positivity,” explains sampling to promote sales, these are tricky times. Charlebois. “They aren’t just selling food. They are Without sampling, Denninger’s will rely on its staff helping to build holiday spirit.” That could help offset to serve as culinary ambassadors. It is investing more consumer disappointment in finding fewer brands funds towards training so staff can make recommenon the shelves as manufacturers rationalize their dations and share in-depth product knowledge. product lines. He’s hoping to see more collaboration between gro- Trends to watch cers and local farms. It’s something consumers seem HIP TO SIP to have a growing appetite for as they seek to support Bland non-alcoholic beers of the past may have local businesses. That has been true for some time, gotten a frosty reception, but innovation has transbut COVID-19 has made the shop-local movement formed this category in a big way. “In many cities front and centre. An American Express Canada sur- around the world, millennials and gen Z-ers are vey found 76% of respondents said they were “deter- driving the growth in the market for non-alcoholic mined to shop local more than in the past.” beer,” says Anna Potter, key accounts, Ontario, with The only constant during COVID? Change. “The Premier Brands Ltd. “The importance of health and marketplace is shifting more than ever, more than it wellbeing while not sacrificing taste is a key reason has in the last 20 to 30 years,” Charlebois points out. for non-alcoholic beer consumption, according to a study from GlobalData. It’s a movement and a lifeNAVIGATING THROUGH UNCERTAINTY style option for millennials, and the industry will “It will be an interesting holiday season,” says Justin continue to blossom over the next decade.” Schley, vice-president, Quality Foods. It’s one that Growth in this category is estimated at 7.5% in could hold its share of surprises—including pleasant the next four years, according to data from Statista. ones. He predicted that turkey sales would be down Premier Brands is on trend with two new products for Thanksgiving, for instance, but they’re up. “I joining its roster of zero-alcohol European beers feathink eating at home and gathering with your imme- turing the popular Clausthaler brand. diate bubble could prove the same, and we could In provinces where grocery stores can sell wine see greater sales than one would expect around the and/or beer (including Ontario, British Columbia, holidays,” he explains. “With families spending less Quebec and New Brunswick), consumers are thirsty. in restaurants, they typically will spend more in the They’re stocking up on adult beverages and buying store and on premium products.” larger-size formats in Ontario, according to Gerald Schley also notes that distribution of local Whitley, regional trade marketing manager, Corby and better-for-you products is on the rise and is Spirit and Wine. “When in stores, browsing and trial 46  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020


BEEF UP YOUR BUSINESS The Canada Beef and Veal team has a steak in your future!





National, regional and independent operator promotion and sales building programs

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Branded and co-branded support programs

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Value added program development

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Yield and financial performance analysis

New product or specification development

Food safety system training

Gate-to-Plate experience

Canada Beef marketing library

E-learn Canadian Beef 101 education

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Custom and generic educational video productions

Beef buyers guides, wall charts and reference materials

Food Safety and Quality Assurance

Education, Training resources: • Beef Butchery video • Canadian Beef value chain process • Beef cuts by cooking method

Partner programs

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For more information about promotion and marketing : Duane Ellard, Director, Channel Marketing

For more information about education and training: Mathieu Pare, Executive Director, Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence

* Access to CBCE facilities will be in accordance with current COVID-19 health guidelines.

Aisles Dairy Milk Advent Calendar and Cadbury Dairy Milk Mousse Snowman. “The ongoing pandemic will also mean that the ‘sharing’ element this year will mainly be within their own households; therefore, there is an opportunity for retailers to make the most of larger-format products,” says Julie Sirois, vice-president of sales, Mondelēz Canada. For example, the new holiday-inspired Maynards Sour Patch Kids Red & Green come in shareable bags and a 100-gram theatre box.

of new brands is reduced as consumers play it safe, going with established brands,” he says. One star that continues to rise in Corby’s wine portfolio is Jacob’s Creek, which has achieved triple-digit sales growth in the last 12 months, according to the company. In time for the holidays, Corby has introduced Jacob’s Creek Classic Shiraz Cabernet (1500 mL). Whitley is suggesting grocers ensure adequate stock levels, given recent growth trends. Several Corby SKUs will available on a limited-time-only basis. The holiday push starts in October with Jacob’s Creek’s new “reconnect with what really matters” campaign, backed by advertising and store-level contests. RETRO INDULGENCE Warm and fuzzy holiday feelings will be rooted in nostalgia for many Canadians, so a couple of new yuletide products from well-known names under the Mondelēz Canada umbrella are timely: Oreo White Fudge Covered Cookies, and two fresh SKUs from Ritz crackers—snowflake designs and fudge-covered for the holidays. For chocoholics, there’s a Cadbury 48  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

SENSE OF ADVENTURE Some consumers may be more willing to venture out of their comfort zones as they seek unique experiences through food. Paul Blake, president, Finica Food Specialties, says virtual wine and cheese parties “will be the hot ticket with COVID still upon us and everyone social distancing.” Trying the latest gourmet cheeses to arrive in the deli section brings people together. Highlights from Finica’s latest offerings include: Beemster Premium Dutch Gouda with Truffles, Snowdonia Welsh Cheddar Truckles with truffles, paired with new chutneys like pear, date and cognac, Colliers Powerful Aged Cheddar Hand-Smoked over oak and applewood, Bellavitano infused with chardonnay, and Sartori’s BellaVitano infused with Tennessee whiskey. These are ideal for customers looking for “bragging rights” with products that are best-in-class selections, notes Blake. Whether at a virtual meet-up or a small in-person gathering, consumers can also pair artisanal cheeses with charcuterie salami packs from Freybe called “A Taste of Europe” featuring the greatest hits of German deli cuts—a nod to the company’s heritage. “Amongst a sea of Spanish and Italian options, we felt our German-style salamis offered consumers


BAKING IS BACK “While scratch baking already enjoys strong penetration across all demographics, the pandemic has led to a consumer behaviour shift to increased baking frequency,” says Stephen Kouri, vice-president, sales and trade marketing, Smucker Foods. “As we enter the festive season, we expect continued double-digit growth in baking as light bakers bake more, and that familiar holiday feeling takes hold.” But will consumers be stocking up on flour at a feverish pace again? He says the company is “laser-focused” on ensuring supply and building inventory of key items in its portfolio, which includes Robin Hood (now offering an organic 100% Canadian wheat version) and Five Roses flour, Carnation Evaporated Milk and Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk. Kouri recommends grocers plan for inventory levels to reflect increased consumption over the holidays. Watch for new offerings that include Jif dark roast peanut butter, ideal for added flavour in baked treats. Also new, 1850 Coffee, a premium line of bold-tasting coffees based on Folgers blends dating back to 1850, which pair nicely with dessert at the end of the family meal.

something really unique,” explains Freybe’s marketing director Michelle Harper. “For retailers, there’s a real opportunity to promote items that capture the essence of experiences consumers might not have been able to have this year.” Even a go-to main such as beef can go in new directions with preparations that are out of the ordinary. Instead of pulled pork, holiday entertaining could feature pulled beef, slow-simmered in a CrockPot. Duane Ellard, director, channel marketing at Canada Beef, is encouraging retailers to let consumers know about Canada Beef’s free “The Roundup” app, which answers questions like “How do I cook that?” and inspires experimentation through innovative recipes. “Retailers should be taking a consultative role,” he says. “Consumers need help. Set them up for success.” Ellard also recommends that grocers stock up on higher-end cuts such as strip loins and prime rib, as well as budget-friendly chuck roasts and ground beef. SWEET NEWS Dufflet Pastries is taking smaller holiday gatherings into consideration for its latest launches that include cakes that serve four to six people. It also taps into our desire for nostalgic comfort flavours; case in point, Burnt Toffee Simple Layer Cake and Pineapple Banana Brown Sugar Cake with cream cheese frosting. Returning faves include classic yule logs, single-serve pastries and plant-based cakes. Marketing manager Heather Chu suggests grocers try to attract gen Z and millennials, who are more willing to shop in-store during the pandemic. To encourage impulse buys, she recommends a “Don’t Forget Dessert!” message near the check-out. COVID has made it clear that consumers are more interested than ever in local products and ones that have a story. Peace by Chocolate delivers on both fronts. It was founded by the Hadhad family who, as refugees, came to Nova Scotia to start again after a bomb destroyed their chocolate factory in Syria. They opened Peace by Chocolate in the town of Antigonish in 2016 and have been crafting artisanal chocolates ever since. The Hadhad family’s success is a feel-good tale about resilience, love and peace— something reflected in their chocolate-making. The packaging features a range of languages and a portion of sales goes to non-profits that focus on international peace projects, local homelessness issues, mental health and Indigenous organizations. “We are all about inclusivity,” says CEO Tareq Hadhad. “All religions, all cultures. No one should be left out.” In time for the holidays, Peace by Chocolate will add 18 fresh flavours, like a pistachio/cherry combo, and mixed boxes with half milk chocolate, half dark (popular in these health-conscience days), along with an innovative new type of gold chocolate, created by blending roasted caramel into the chocolate. Hadhad adds: “We hope our messages will be uplifting for everyone living in these hard times.”



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Shoppers trying to avoid crowds will be shopping earlier than ever before. Be ready!

OPTIMIZE YOUR CHECK-OUT AREA. With browsing and leisure shopping a thing of the past, you’ll want to make sure every square inch near your check-out offers customers grab-and-go impulse items. THINK CORPORATE GIFT GIVING. In the

absence of big holiday parties, employers will be looking for ways to say thank you to their staff. Offer gourmet baskets to attract big business orders.

SCALE DOWN. Feature smaller roasts,

turkeys and hams that are appropriate for more intimate at-home entertaining and focus on individual servings for pre-prepared appetizers and desserts.

STAFF UP. Disappointing customers during the holidays is not an option. Make sure you’ve got enough employees on hand to ensure lines go quickly, to answer questions and to make sure online grocery pickups happen without hiccups.


Include detailed product descriptions, quick check-out and secure payment capabilities, intuitive search functions, and an easy-tonavigate search function.

OFFER SOLUTIONS TO HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING CHALLENGES. Whether it’s what to serve a vegan or last-minute drop-in guests for dinner, provide your customers with practical advice.


consumers are craving positivity. Emphasize the idea that celebrating the holidays with friends and family over a good meal is what is meaningful right now and you’re there to help make it happen. September/October 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 49


White, cremini and portabella are the most popular mushrooms consumed in Canada, according to Marianne Muth, project coordinator for Mushrooms Canada. But specialty mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster, king oyster, maitake and enoki are quickly gaining popularity. Laura Mortimer, produce manager for Albertabased Blush Lane Organic Market, says the diversity of mushrooms available today is in response to customers pushing their culinary boundaries. “We now carry an extra eight lines of gourmet mushrooms and work with three new small-scale growers of specialty mushrooms,” she says, noting Blush Lane’s topselling specialty mushrooms are pink oyster, chanterelle, chestnut and morels.

Mushrooms  Four   things   to know

2  A FUNGUS AMONG US Mushrooms grow naturally in forests, at the base of trees and on wood. In ancient times, Romans, Greeks and Chinese cultures consumed mushrooms for medicinal purposes, both for strength and to improve their health. But it wasn’t until the 1700s that mushrooms were first cultivated for culinary consumption in underground quarries. Nowadays, mushrooms are grown indoors, year-round on a substrate such as peat moss.


The growing popularity of meat-free diets has prompted companies to develop innovative plant-based products using mushrooms. Pennsylvania-based Giorgio Foods, for instance, has created a jerky using portabella mushrooms. “Mushrooms have that special ‘umami’ taste quality that’s delicious, savoury and meaty,” says Angela Crouse, business manager at Giorgio Foods. “Portabella mushrooms lend themselves well to being a meat substitute.” But mushrooms aren’t just a substitute for meat—they can complement it, too. Producers like Applegate Organics have created a “blended burger” patty made up of meat (beef or turkey) and mushrooms. Blended meat products appeal to flexitarians and eco-conscious consumers aiming to reduce their meat consumption. As for adaptogenic mushrooms, they’re increasingly being incorporated into products such as teas, coffees, lattes and even fudge. Digs Dorfman, founder and co-owner of Toronto grocery store The Sweet Potato, estimates the number of products offering medicinal benefits from mushrooms has increased by 300% at his store in the past five years. “We have many items in supplements including mushroom According to powders, which get added to Research and Markets, smoothies and mushroom teas,” the North American mushroom Dorfman explains. “People market accounted for US$1.85 who are interested in the latest health trends seem to billion in 2018 and will grow at be our biggest customers for a compound annual growth mushroom supplements, and rate (cagr) of 7.7% between that includes a lot of fitness 2019 to 2027. By 2027, it’s buffs and people in the 35 to predicted to be worth 50 age range.”

US$3.51 billion.

4  THEY’RE GOOD FOR YOU Mushrooms are high in protein, low in fat and are a source of B complex vitamins, minerals, fibre and vitamin D. The ancient healing properties of medicinal mushrooms have also recently returned to the spotlight. “Millennials and gen Z are engaging with mushrooms for culinary and health and wellness reasons,” says Shelley Balanko, senior vice-president of The Hartman Group. Adaptogenic mushrooms, often used in herbal medicine, have become

50  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020

especially popular. Trendy adaptogenic mushrooms include reishi, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties; chaga, which boosts energy and supports digestion; and cordyceps, which improves energy, libido and stamina. The Hartman Group’s study “Functional Food and Beverage and Supplements 2020” reveals 37% of consumers are interested in adding medicinal/adaptogenic mushrooms to their diet.—By Andrea Yu




1:00 pm - 3:30 pm (edt)

Exclusive GenNext Partner

GenNext Awards Ceremony • Winners Panel

Leadership Panel • Data • Insights • Networking

2020 Honourees • Awards Ceremony • Networking Margaret Hudson

Jean-Louis Bellemare

Jeff York

President Burnbrae Farms Limited

President & General Manager Farm Boy

Partner & Special Advisor Sobeys (Farm Boy)

Space is limited – Buy your ticket today! Networking Sponsors:


New on shelf!

The latest products hitting shelves

1 1  CATHEDRAL CITY CHEESE Saputo has brought its popular U.K. cheese brand to Canada. Cathedral City Cheese is made at Davidstow creamery in Cornwall using farm-assured milk from 330 local West Country dairy farms. The cheese is matured and packed in England before it’s shipped to Canada. Cathedral City Cheese is available in the Mature Cheddar block (200 g), Extra Mature Cheddar block (200 g) and Mini Cheddar nets (6×20gram formats).


2  KRAFT HAZELNUT SPREAD Kraft Heinz Canada has launched a “rich and silky” hazelnut spread it says is made without palm oil and is low in saturated fat. Made with real roasted hazelnuts and cocoa, Kraft Hazelnut Spread is sold in 375-gram tubs and is ideal for both breakfast and snack occasions or even for baking, according to the company. 3  PIPCORN HEIRLOOM SNACKS U.S. snack brand Pipcorn is now available in Canada. Pipcorn uses heirloom corn as the base for all of its products to create what the company calls “sustainable, cleaner versions of classic snacks.” Pipcorn’s Canadian offerings include Truffle and Sea Salt Heirloom Popcorn, as well as Heirloom Cheese Balls in Cheddar and Cheddar Jalapeno varieties, both made with organic dairy.

3 4


4  ARTERRA WINES’ BASK Arterra Wines has launched BASK, a fullflavoured wine with zero grams of sugar per serving, meeting the growing consumer demand for “better-for-you” options, according to the company. BASK’s nutritional information is available directly on the bottle, and the wine is available in three varietals: Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Crisp Rosé.  5  DEL MONTE CANNED VEGETABLES Del Monte has introduced canned, ready-to-eat Diced Beets, Shredded Carrots and Shredded Celery Root that can help jazz up any salad, soup, sandwich or burger. Sold in 398-mL cans, the new Del Monte vegetables contain 20 to 35 calories per 125 mL. And, each can has a pull ring, which makes it easy to pack for picnics, camping or even lunch boxes.  CG

52  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020







Checking out


Canadian Grocer chats with consulting editor George Condon as he prepares to retire AFTER AN astonishing 43 years at Canadian Grocer, our consulting editor George Condon—long a fixture on this back page—is retiring soon. Before he leaves us, we thought we’d take the opportunity to ask him about his career, where he thinks the industry is headed and what has been his favourite part of the job. Here are edited excerpts from our interview:

How did you get your start at Canadian Grocer?

I was a journalist and broadcaster from the East Coast when I interviewed with Maclean Hunter [John Bayne Maclean launched Canadian Grocer in 1886] for an editor position. I was offered a position at four different magazines, but the only one that interested me was Canadian Grocer. I started as news editor (in 1977), but within about six months I was editor and about a year and a half after that, I was editor and publisher.

Over a 43-year career, what are you most proud of?

Personally, the highlight was receiving the Golden Pencil Award in 2000. It’s the highest honour the food industry bestows, and the fact that it was members of the grocery industry that voted for me makes me very proud.

What was your favourite part of the job?

I think if you ask that question to anybody who has ever worked in the grocery industry, they will always say “getting to know people,” and I would say that has been my favourite part, too. Getting to know retailers, suppliers and brokers personally and

getting to understand them [and] their business was definitely my favourite part of the job.

What was your goal with the Checking Out column?

It stemmed from my belief that if you worked at Canadian Grocer, you were part of the grocery industry so you had to think like a grocer. I wanted my staff to be that way, too. Checking Out became one of my ways of getting to some of the issues that were not often talked about in the industry, but needed exposure. I thought if I could write about those problems and be provocative, then we might be able to get to some solutions.

You’ve visited grocery stores all over the world. What is one of the more interesting things you saw on your travels?

One thing that keeps coming back to me is a JUMBO store in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a hypermarket, so a gigantic store, but it had this in-store bakery with a very large clock positioned over it, which would show the time when the next hot loaves of bread would be coming out of the oven. This would create lineups of people—and it would happen about five times a day; the clock would go off and the bread would come out of the oven, and every time there would be something like 100 people lined up for it. It was fascinating.

Care to predict where grocery is headed?

I remember someone, I can’t remember who, at a conference more than 20 years ago saying that in time there will probably only be a handful of manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Now I think that’s a definite exaggeration, especially about retail, but consolidation concerns me and it’s going to keep happening, only because we’re forcing companies to get bigger in order to save money, in order to make a bigger profit. So, there’s no question that we’re going to go through some more hard times in the next two or three years. It will probably be harder on manufacturers than retailers, but on the other hand, independent retailers are going to have a harder time, because of the power of wholesalers. And the wholesalers, in Canada of course, are the big grocery distributors. I fear more consolidation—I don’t think it’s going to be good for the industry to have too much of it.

What do you want people to know about you?

Despite the fact that I’ve lived in Toronto for well over 40 years, I am a Bluenoser [hailing from Nova Scotia] through and through. My wife has just retired from teaching and I have a wonderful little pug named Sparrow (a nod to the nickname of singer Édith Piaf). CG —Shellee Fitzgerald

Come back to this page next issue for George Condon’s final column 54  CANADIAN GROCER || September/October 2020






In an industry known for its innovation, there has been no other time when we have seen this innovation at its best than during these extraordinary times. From in-store health and safety measures to supply and operational inventions and modernizations, the grocery sector has done so much incredible work to ensure Canadians are fed during this challenging period. The inaugural Grocery Innovations Canada LIVE @ HOME recognizes the heart of innovation that is integral to grocery, and is the first-of-its-kind virtual trade show and conference designed to bring the grocery business the opportunity to gather again safely at a time when the sector is being reshaped. The virtual platform will bring together customers and sector stakeholders from all around the globe and provide a way for both small and large face-to-face meetings, networking, and relationships to take place using ground-breaking technology. GIC LIVE @ HOME’s biggest draw is the ability to offer a premium experience that is affordable and accessible from any home or office desktop (Apple or PC), laptop (Apple or PC), tablet (Android or Apple) or phone (Android or Apple). There is no travel, or hotel fees for your teams, no stress, no borders to cross, and no lost time away from the office. Retailers will enjoy free access to the trade show, while rates for exhibitors’ virtual booths reflect the accessible, and value-added philosophy of the event. Exhibitors will be able to work with their account manager to design their immersive and engaging booth, with the wellproven technology. Truly reflecting the event’s theme, “A World of Opportunities. More Trade. More Tastes. More Trends.” both local and international exhibitors will be able to engage with retailers from around the world with a simple click, while engaging in virtual live chats in over 100 languages! No downloads of apps or additional software necessary. This pioneering event provides even more engagement opportunities complete with keynotes, workshops, trade show, Interac Insights & Innovations hub (immersive engagement area). The trade show booth isn’t a one-dimensional image on your screen, in fact it’s a virtual experience where attendees will be able to immerse themselves in exhibitors’ curated environments showcasing their latest products and services, and where sales can directly take place. Digital samples and swag bags will also be made available. Online retailers and buyers from around the world will access videos, download sales sheets and information, and chat with vendors live, in a multitude of languages. GIC LIVE @ HOME scheduled for October 27, 28, 29, 2020 is part of the industry’s Grocery Week wherein other key stakeholders will all gather online to grow their networks, discover innovations, and engage online. Partnering with leading business intelligence firm EnsembleIQ, and our media partner Canadian Grocer, grocery’s first virtual expo and event is being driven by leading technology that allows highly customizable environments, booths, and ondemand content, lead generation and engagement. With commitments already from leading retailers and suppliers to bringing their buying and decision makers to the event, GIC LIVE @ HOME is the grocery’s must-attend virtual event. We look forward to welcoming you all virtually October 27, 28, 29, 2020 at!

Tom Shurrie, President & CEO







2020 CFIG BOARD OF DIRECTORS The Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG) is governed by a Board of Directors elected from the membership and reflecting a regional distribution. A national office consisting of the President and staff implement the federation`s operations in a manner consistent with the policies established by the Board. The Board and the President also receive ongoing input from advisory committees consisting of members established across Canada.




BREGG Buy-Low Foods, Surrey, BC

PIERO CARBONE Garden Foods Bolton Ltd., Bolton, ON

BILL COLEMAN Colemans, Corner Brook, NL

ANTHONY GRECO Concord Food Centre & Oak Ridges Food Markets Thornhill, ON

ERIN HIGDON Powell’s Supermarket Ltd., Bay Roberts, NL

BROOKE KYNOCH Safety Mart Foods, Chase, BC

CHRISTOPHER LEE Southside Market AG Foods, Revelstoke, BC


LONGO Longo Bros. Fruit Markets, Vaughan, ON



NELSON Save-On-Foods, Langley, BC

RICK RABBA The J. Rabba Company Ltd., Mississauga, ON

JUSTIN SCHLEY Quality Foods, Errington, BC

CRAIG SOLLITT The Bownesian Grocer, Calgary, AB

ISABELLE TASSÉ Marché Tassé (Provigo), Gatineau, QC


TOM VESELY Westlock Sobeys, Westlock, AB


TRIMARCHI Vince’s Market, Newmarket, ON ✷EXECUTIVE

MCMULLEN Summerhill Market, Toronto, ON

WELKE Federated Co-operatives Ltd., Saskatoon, SK







ASSOCIATE MEMBERS’ COUNCIL Co-operation and communication between supplier and retailer have become increasingly important in grocery retail. CFIG’s Associate Members’ Council (AMC) has in turn become more integral to the direction of the federation as a whole. The Associate Members’ Council is a group of senior executives representing a variety of Canadian grocery product companies. The AMC meets quarterly, and provides professional guidance to the Board of Directors on industry news and trends.

DOMINIC BOMBINO Sr. VP Retail & Foodservice Sales, Saputo Dairy Products Canada

STEVE FOX Chief Customer Officer, Nestlé Canada Inc.

NANISS GADEL-RAB VP Customer Development, Unilever Canada

PETER HALL VP Sales, Kraft Heinz Company

TODD JOHNSTON Sr. VP Sales, Lactails Canada

STEPHEN KOURI VP Sales & Trade Marketing, Smucker Foods of Canada Corp.

JIM LEISH VP Sales, Procter & Gamble Inc.

SCOTT LINDSAY Sr. VP, National Sales & Customer Marketing, Coca-Cola

SCOTT LORIMER Sr. VP Retail Sales Maple Leaf Foods Inc.

MIKE LUST VP Customer Development, PepsiCo Foods Canada

SAM MAGNACCA VP, GM, Acosta Canada

MICHEL MANSEAU Past Chair, Sr. VP & GM Consumer Business, Kruger Products LP

VINCE MENDES DE FRANCA VP Sales, General Mills Canada

CHRIS POWELL Chair & Sr. VP Business Development Tree of Life Canada

KEVIN RIESCHI Director, Client Solutions and Partnerships, Interac Corp.

ERIN ROONEY VP Sales and Marketing, McCormick Canada









1:00PM – 2:00PM | AGM

Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau of Canada





12:00PM – 12:30PM | KEYNOTE

2020 Disruption: A World of Opportunities, Shawn Kanungo, Queen & Rook


Professor, Food Distribution and Policy, Faculty of Management, and Faculty of Agriculture, Dalhousie University; Scientific Director, Agri-Food Analytics Lab, Dalhousie University

Retail Meetings | Interac Insights & Innovations Sessions

2:30PM – 4:00PM | 30-MIN WORKSHOPS


2:30PM – Food Trends | 3:00PM – Conducting Effective Disciplinary and Termination Meetings, Steve Mendelssohn, Watershed Law Professional Corp. | 3:30PM – Supply Chain Panel

President & CEO, FMS

6:00PM – 7:00PM | MERCHANDISING EXCELLENCE AWARDS Master Merchandiser Winners | Top 10 in Grocery Winners


WED. OCT. 28

12:00PM – 12:30PM | KEYNOTE

SHAWN KANUNGO, Innovation Strategist, Queen & Rook

Mark Petrie, CIBC Capital Markets

12:30PM – 1:15PM | KEYNOTE

Matthew Boswell, Commissioner of Competition, Competition Bureau, Q&A with Gary Sands, CFIG

1:00PM – ONWARDS | VIRTUAL TRADE SHOW Retail Meetings | Interac Insights & Innovations Sessions


Retail Expert, Harold Lloyd Presents

2:30PM – 4:00PM | 30-MIN WORKSHOPS

2:30PM – Payment Updates | 3:00PM – Sustainability | 3:30PM – 30 Impactful Ideas for Store Managers, Harold Lloyd, Harold Lloyd Presents




Principal and Owner, Watershed Group of Companies,Watershed Law Professional Corporation, Watershed Labour Relations Consultants and Watershed HR Solutions Inc.

12:00PM – 12:30PM | KEYNOTE

COVID-19 happened. Now what? The pandemic’s messy but real legacy at the grocery store, Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Agri-Food Analytics Lab.



CFA, Executive Director, Institutional Equity Research, CIBC Capital Markets

Retail Meetings | Interac Insights & Innovations Sessions

2:30PM – 4:00PM | 30-MIN WORKSHOPS

2:30PM – HMR | 3:00PM – Highlights from FMS’ Annual Financial Survey of US Independents, Robert Graybill, FMS | 3:30PM – Boosting Staff Moral. Harold Lloyd, Harold Lloyd Presents







GIC LIVE @ HOME ATTENDEE HOW-TO Participate in Grocery’s Most Immersive and Interactive Virtual Event October 27, 28, 29, 2020. It’s easy-to-use, and accessible with one-click. Here’s a quick guide on how to discover a World of Opportunities. More Trade. More Trends. More Tastes using GIC LIVE @ HOME!

HOW TO GET INTO GIC LIVE @ HOME REGISTER at Once you have registered, your email will act as your key to log into the virtual platform. Before October 27, 28, 29, 2020, you will receive an email – ONE CLICK gets you into your virtual gateway onto Canada’s grocery shelves!

INNOVATIONS TO DISCOVER VIRTUAL NEW PRODUCT SHOWCASE GALLERY will provide an instant look at the most exciting innovations hitting the market through an immersive lens. Click on a product in the case, and get instant information about it. Connect with the company representatives directly at their booth or chat 1:1 to get it into your stores. From these ground-breaking innovations will come the Top 10 in Grocery – chosen by an esteemed group of sector experts to see what the future will hold for grocery!

Register today at








You will enter into the GIC LIVE @ HOME lobby, from there you can select to go to the exhibit hall, catch speaker sessions or demos by clicking on the appropriate sign.


Three Ways To Explore GIC LIVE @ HOME with the Official Show Guide: 1. Available at HYPERLINK 2. Quickly find it on the navigation toolbar inside every area of GIC LIVE @ Home 3. Access it via email in our Show Guide link sent in an email each day of the show EXHIBIT HALL


In the exhibit hall, there will be various booths to explore, and get materials, information, and more in your digital show bag. Connect with industry peers through chat (in 100 languages). Attendees will have the ability to Interact 1:1 with suppliers, vendors and other delegates. There is the capability to exchange contact information and interact with attendees. Attendees click on booth screens and logos for information and resources.


Looking to EXHIBIT/SPONSOR at GIC LIVE @ HOME? Contact: Clicking on Exhibit Hall will provide a bird’s eye view of the trade show floor, organized alphabetically for attendees to explore. Exhibitors are ready to engage and chat live. Also see the various pavilions to view even more products and services at your fingertips. Click on the screens featuring company logos to visit the booth, innovate and connect!


There are a multitude of company booths to check out and discover. By clicking on logos or screens, you will be able to get more information and resources and speak with representatives.







Keep on top of trends and the latest data through live or on-demand keynotes, workshops and expert demos over 3 days, 24/7. After the event, the trade show exhibitors and presentations will be available for 30 days to view at your convenience.


There are workshops for attendees every day – covering topics that are top of mind in your business. From HR, to tech, to food trends, and economic and socio-demographic trends to watch. These are must attend sessions for anyone in the grocery sector. Bring your entire team – watch on demand, on any device, desktop (Apple or PC), laptop (Apple or PC), tablet (Android or Apple) or phone (Android or Apple), with one click. The industry will also gather together to celebrate the best merchandising displays from across the country and the grocery sector as a whole in the virtual auditorium, where attendees can celebrate the achievements this year. There will also be opportunity to network with colleagues during these events.


Programs such as Retailer Connect, or the 1:1 Chat functions allow attendees to engage and conduct business any time, any where, on any device, desktop (Apple or PC), laptop (Apple or PC), tablet (Android or Apple) or phone (Android or Apple). Retailer Connect allows for dedicated meetings with retailers from across Canada to get your product/service on grocery shelves.

Catch demos and education sessions throughout the event – listen and learn to find out next steps in your business, and overcome challenges in the marketplace.

WANT TO MEET WITH KEY BUYERS, OR HOLD MEETINGS AT THE EVENT? There are virtual meeting rooms that can facilitate growing your business.


Three Ways To Explore GIC LIVE @ HOME with the Official Show Guide: 1. Available at HYPERLINK 2. Quickly find it on the navigation toolbar inside every area of GIC LIVE @ HOME 3. Access it via email in our Show Guide link sent in an email each day of the show






THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS* Grocery Innovations Canada 2020 thanks the following sponsors for their support.*As of Sept. 14, 2020









A: YES. It works on desktops and laptops (PC & APPLE), Tablets (Apple & Android) and mobile phones (Apple & Android).


A: Go to to register with your email. Use the same email to log into the GIC LIVE @ HOME screen.





A: CFIG Retailer Members get access to trade show, conference. For non-retailers there is a fee. Go to A: Type in the company in the search bar at the top, or use the navigation arrows (companies are listed alphabetically). In addition, explore the GIC LIVE @ HOME with the Official Show Guide: Available at HYPERLINK; Quickly find it on the navigation toolbar inside every area of GIC LIVE @ HOME; Access it via email in our Show Guide link sent in an email each day of the show.


A: Yes, there is a virtual New Product Showcase. Each display will feature 9 total new products. There will be 3 shelves on each display and 3 new products per display.


Messages appear at the top of the environment and include links to highlighted agenda items, specific content, or booths/sponsors. Add GIC Show Bag, specific documents, links, videos and other content to your show bag.


A: Over the three-day event, October 27, 28, 29, speaker sessions will be live starting at 12noon EST. There will be workshops and keynotes from expert leaders in the industry that will be available on-demand 30 days after the event for those registered for the conference. Afternoons, starting from 1:00pm EST, attendees can explore the immersive, interactive trade show visiting various booths and chatting with exhibitors. There will also be demos and education sessions throughout the afternoon available on-demand. Schedule: https://virtual.

A: To enter any booth, simply click on that booth's sign. Hover over the booth sign for additional information. Enter the booth for useful content, chat with representatives, and more. You can also enter the booths by clicking on the Exhibit Hall navigation bar icon. This will display a list of all the booths in the Exhibit Hall. Clicking on the booth name will take you into that booth.





- Search for content site wide. - Search for attendees site wide or by location you can also initiate a 1:1 chat.


Chat with reps 1:1 or enter a group chat. View a list of reps or open the public chat.


Watch for a variety of promos offered at different times during the event.


A: The exhibit hall is “open” 24/7 during the live Show days and for 30 days post-event. The live exhibit hall hours start from 1:00pm EST – and go until recommended time of 6:00pm EST. Exhibitors will be able to be contacted by retailers, and attendees at any time via the platform chat. A: During the live show days of October 27, 28, 29, all conference sessions start at 12pm EST. All speaker and workshop sessions will be available online for 30 days post-event.


A: Retailers from grocery, specialty, C-store, independents, chains and franchisees, mass merchandisers and more will be in attendance. Along with retailers, there will be distributors, agents, wholesalers, and manufacturers – all facets of the grocery sector will be present.


A: The Technical Help Desk will be the location for the support for attendees for all technical and navigation issues.