Canadian Grocer November 2020

Page 1

Rethinking the front of store   Private label ramps up NOVEMBER 2020

GO LD EN Meet the

Golden Pencil


of 2020: Margaret Hudson,  Jeff York and Jean-Louis Bellemare

Hallmark Canada is thrilled to announce our partnership with Calgary Co-op, Calgary’s most local grocery store. As the exclusive provider of greeting cards, we are looking forward to inspiring the members of Calgary Co-op to live caring, connected lives full of meaningful moments.

Š 2020 Hallmark Licensing, LLC

Contents Cover Story

Opinions 5 || Front Desk 20 || Shopper Sense 24 || Behind the Trends 50 || Checking Out People 6 || The Buzz

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

8 || TJ Galiardi

Outcast Foods’ co-founder is turning food waste into vegan nutrition

Ideas 11 || Private label ramps up

The pandemic has accelerated the trend toward store brand innovation


27  Meet this year’s winners: Jean-Louis Bellemare, Margaret Hudson & Jeff York


14 || Uber’s grocery journey

Uber Eats Canada’s GM Lola Kassim talks grocery delivery


Spending on organic food continues to climb in Canada

Aisles 41 || Hip dips and sassy sauces Innovative sauces and dips can help save customers from meal-prep burnout

As more Canadians make their coffee at home, opportunities to perk up sales abound

48 || Flour: Four things to know Learn all about this ancient yet in-demand baking staple


RETHINKING THE FRONT END 34 Is it time to reinvent the front of store? GROCERY’S GREAT CONSUMER SHIFTS 37 As part of our Generation Next Thinking series, we explore lasting changes in shopper behaviour

17 || A growing appetite for organics

46 || Home brewed

November 2020 || Volume 134 - Number 7



49 || New on shelf

Shining a spotlight on the latest products hitting shelves

Follow us on     @CanadianGrocer     @CanadianGrocerMagazine     Canadian Grocer Magazine

November 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 3

7 Grocery Visits. 3 Nights Ordering Amazon. 1 Favourite IPA. Another Moment Shared.

Numerator. There’s a Deb Behind the Data. A new era of consumer insights with visibility into what in�luences people on their path to purchase, their omnichannel purchase behaviour, and the opinions that shape those behaviours.

Know More. Grow More.

Front desk PUBLISHER

Vanessa Peters


Shellee Fitzgerald


Carol Neshevich


Kristin Laird


Josephine Woertman


George H. Condon


Michael Kimpton


Donna Kerry


Derek Estey


KEEPING UP WITH CONSUMERS As shopper behaviour rapidly changes, this issue explores how grocers can adapt

Michael Cronin

Printed in Canada

The final stretch of 2020 is upon us and as the pandemic drags on with no end in sight, it’s tempting to think longingly about the “before times” and when we’ll get back to them. But what if we never quite get back to the lives we led in the good old days of 10 or so months ago? Many grocery industry observers are examining this very question—looking at what longterm consumer behaviour shifts may linger long after the threat of COVID-19 retreats. Lockdowns, isolation and economic uncertainty, it seems, are changing us in profound ways. In “Grocery’s great consumer shifts” (page 37) writer Rebecca Harris delves into the topic and finds that contrary to the expression, old habits don’t always die hard but, in fact, die pretty quickly when confronted with an extraordinary disruptor like COVID-19. Harris talks to the experts who identify five consumer shifts that are expected to endure, as well as the opportunities for retailers that accompany these shifts. In his column, Nielsen’s Carman Allison also looks at consumers’ changing ways and how their behaviours are being defined by an economic reset as they rethink how they shop and what they buy (page 20). And in “Private label ramps up,” Danny Kucharsky reports on how private label is having a bit of a moment as value-seeking consumers embrace these brands (page 11) and retailers step

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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Lina Trunina


Valerie White


Katherine Frederick

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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.

Rapid adoption of grocery pickup and delivery is one of the big consumer shifts

up their game with products that rival the national brands. Finally, we are delighted to feature the recipients of this year’s Golden Pencil Award on the cover of this issue. Turn to page 27 to see for yourself why Burnbrae Farms’ Margaret Hudson and Farm Boy’s Jean-Louis Bellemare and Jeff York are so deserving of this honour—the Canadian grocery industry’s most prestigious award. Stay well! See you next time.

Shellee Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief

November 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 5

The Buzz

The latest news in the grocery biz COMINGS AND GOINGS

Paul Wood

Alessandro Natola

OPENINGS FARM BOY continues its Ontario expansion with the opening of its 33rd store in early October. Located at 777 Bay Street, the 17,407-sq.-ft. store is Farm Boy’s first location in Toronto’s downtown core. Three more store openings are planned this year (in Toronto, Ottawa and Waterloo) and parent company Empire announced this summer that it expects Farm Boy’s store count to hit 43 by the end of 2021.

Saint-Hubert, Que. is home to a new 132,000-sq.-ft. COSTCO BUSINESS CENTRE; it is the warehouse club’s second Business Centre in Canada. The location offers more than 3,200 items targeted to offices, restaurants, convenience and grocery stores, including bulk food and commercial kitchen ware. Costco opened its first Canadian Business Centre in suburban Toronto in 2017. SAVE-ON-FOODS has opened a 42,000-­sq.-ft. store in the North Vancouver neighbourhood of Lynn Valley. The new store replaces an older, smaller Save-On-Foods nearby. The grocer is also expanding its presence in Alberta with the October opening of a new Edmonton location in Jagare Ridge, the grocer’s 22nd store in the Edmonton area. Save-On-Foods is also preparing to open a store in Calgary’s Trinity Hills development this year.

Diana Frost

David Blackmore

Jim Leish

Brian Rafuse At the grand opening of Save-On-Foods’ new Lynn Valley store in North Vancouver

Stephen Kouri 6  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

Alessandro Natola is the new president at Ferrero Canada. Natola, who has been with the company for 14 years, was most recently managing director of Ferrero Scandinavia. He replaces Rudy Sequeira who is taking on an international assignment with the company. Diana Frost has joined Kraft Heinz Canada as chief growth officer. Frost brings more than 15 years of marketing to the role. Most recently she served as head of portfolio transformation at Mars Wrigley U.S., and prior to that she was head of marketing for Mars Wrigley Canada. P&G Canada has announced that David Blackmore is stepping into the role of vice-president of sales. Blackmore joined P&G in 2000 and recently returned from the U.S. where he led the company’s sales organization for North America home care. Blackmore succeeds longtime P&G Canada exec Jim Leish, who announced he will retire in February 2021 after more than 36 years with the company. Brian Rafuse has joined Acosta Canada as vice-president, business development. Rafuse brings more than 20 years’ experience to the role and has previously held positions at Advantage Solutions and Crossmark. Stephen Kouri, vice-president sales and trade marketing at Smucker Foods of Canada, is retiring. Kouri, who has spent more than 30 years in the industry, will remain with the company through November to help with the transition. Corby Spirit and Wine has a new vice-president of marketing. Caroline Begley returns to Canada to take on the role; most recently she was vice-president of Pernod Ricard USA in New York.


Farm Boy opened its first location in Toronto’s downtown core in early October

At Giant Tiger, former president and COO Paul Wood has been promoted to CEO. Wood, who has been with the discount chain for 17 years, takes over from company founder Gordon Reid who has assumed the new role of chairman emeritus.


The winners of the 13th edition of the SIAL INNOVATION competition were revealed recently at the SIAL Canada virtual expo. Taking the top prize was ART KOMBUCHA, which won the 2020 Gold Grand Prize for its beer fermented using kombucha culture. Other companies recognized were IDEAL ALUMINIUM, which won silver for its 100% compostable box for roast chicken; and LOC INDUSTRIES, which won bronze for its vegan butter, made with a mixture of vegetable oil and aquafaba (and no palm oil). All three companies are based in Quebec.


Products from Art Kombucha, Ideal Aluminium and LOC Industries were honoured in the SIAL Innovation competition

Metro chief ERIC LA FLÈCHE was recently named Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year for 2020. Presented by Bennett Jones LLP, Caldwell Partners International Inc., the National Post and BNN Bloomberg, the award recognizes the company’s performance over time in several categories: vision and leadership, corporate performance, global competitiveness, innovative business achievements and corporate responsibility. “Under La Flèche’s guidance, Metro has increased revenues to over $16 billion annually and employs 90,000 Canadians,” according to the Outstanding CEO of the Year website. STEVE TOMS of Fortinos Hamilton took home the title of Ontario’s Finest Butcher in a competition hosted by Meat & Poultry Ontario (MPO) in September. According to MPO, Toms secured the win after a head-to-head meat cutting battle with finalists Dave Vander Velde of VG Meats, Stoney Creek, and Frank DiGenova of Toronto’s Butcher by Nature.



Grocery Connex , which brings together Canadian Grocer’s Gen Next and Thought Leadership con­ferences as well as the Golden Pencil Awards into one virtual event, will take place on Nov. 30. For infor­mation and tickets, please visit

The return of centre store Grand Prix finalists JUNE/JULY 2020


Eric R. La Flèche Metro’s chief on customer expectations, e-comm and responding to a pandemic

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Who you need to know


Former hockey pro tj Galiardi turns food waste into sustainable SCORE ONE FOR SUSTAINABILITY vegan nutrition Former hockey pro TJ Galiardi turns By Carolyn Cooper Photography by Brooke Schaal

food waste into sustainable vegan nutrition By Carolyn Cooper Photography by Brooke Wedlock

30 seconds with …


t’s an interesting story,” says TJ Galiardi, co-founder and CMO of Halifax-based Outcast Foods, about his path from NHL hockey player to food waste champion. “I kind of fell into it,” he says, “but I really love what I’m doing.” In 2017, Galiardi’s professional hockey career was winding down and he was looking for new opportunities. At the same time, Darren Burke, an entrepreneur and supplements expert who had sold his sports nutrition company in 2013, was ready to re-enter the high-­performance nutrition market. The two had been friends since Galiardi’s early years in the NHL, and both recognized the growing demand for nutritional supplements that were vegan and sustainably sourced. “The big thing we wanted to do was find a way to take some of our personal experiences and lifestyle choices and bring them into our business,” explains Galiardi. “I try to live a very sustainable life, especially being vegan, and a big part of my choice to have a plant-based lifestyle is around sustainability.” One thing they wanted to target was food waste, he says. The pair figured they’d partner with an ingredient supplier that was already using surplus produce and incorporate that in their powder formulations. But after searching around for a supplier already converting food waste into whole fruit and vegetable powders, the co-founders decided to instead take on the challenge of “upcycling” the still-­ nutritious produce themselves. “It was such a big opportunity that we couldn’t turn away from it—this simple idea of taking surplus produce and dehydrating it to give it a two- to three-year shelf life,” recalls Galiardi. Outcast’s raw material includes “ugly” but edible fruit and vegetables—that may be misshapen, for example—from a network of 18 local farms, and by-products such as discarded cuttings from food processors. The company also recently entered into a partnership with Sobeys to take unsellable produce from the grocer’s Debert, N.S. distribution centre, as well as select Nova Scotia stores. Galiardi says they’ve worked hard to develop a system that doesn’t interrupt Sobeys’ process, while saving the grocer

money on things like tipping fees. “Grocers are working in a fast-paced environment, so we had to find a way within their current system to make it work,” he explains. “Now that it’s finally past the goal line I think it’s impressive, and there’s true potential there to really revolutionize the food waste system in all of grocery.” Produce is shipped to Outcast’s 5,000-­s q.-ft. facility, where it is dehydrated using patent-pending, high-efficiency technology. This keeps the process “as energy-efficient as possible,” says Galiardi, “but also makes sure that we dehydrate the fruits and vegetables in a gentle way, because you want a truly highvalue product at the end.” In addition to selling the resulting pow­d ers to food companies, Outcast turns them into products such as its own high-performance Plant Strong protein powder, formulated by Burke and sold in flavours such as Chocolate Smoothie, Vanilla Smoothie, and the soon-to-belaunched Lemon Meringue Pie, Fruit Explosion and Mint Chocolate Chip. “We built that brand as a case study around upcycling to see how consumers would react to it, and it’s been great, and it’s growing well, especially within Sobeys,” says Galiardi. “It’s really nice to see that full circle of taking produce that was supposed to end up on their shelves and didn’t, repurposing it, and putting it back on the shelves in a different fashion.” The company also produces a line of vegan vitamins, and this fall introduces Super Greens+, made with upcycled organic greens, organic lion’s mane, reishi and chaga mushrooms, and naturally flavoured with pineapple and coconut. Additional dehydrating plants are already in the works. “We’re planning on having a new facility just outside of Nova Scotia in early 2021, and there are a couple of unique things that we’ve been working on in Southern Ontario; joint ventures with some companies that are synergistic with our business,” says Galiardi, adding that a facility located near Calgary is also currently on the table. “Now that we’ve been in it for a few years and are seeing our idea come to life, we’re more optimistic about the impact we can really make on the planet.” CG

TJ GALIARDI What are the rewards to working in this industry?

I’ve seen what [a plant-based diet] has done for myself, and to be able to have a small part in other people’s nutrition and their health journey is tremendously rewarding. And then there’s the food waste piece—it’s hard to not get excited about that.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I have a daughter who’s two years old, and a son who’s almost two months old, so to run a business and have a family and work that balance is tricky; but at the end of the day family is so important to me, and it’s been amazing to be able to do both.

What changes are you see­ing in the supplements market? The biggest thing is the trend toward plant based. I think people are realizing that drinking whey protein is essentially drinking a milk­ shake, so they’re starting to say, “Why can’t I have a plant-based option that’s made of fruits and veget­ables and is going to be healthier on my gut and body as a whole, and tastes just as good?”

What’s your favourite Outcast product?

We have new Plant Strong flavours coming out, and probably my favourite is Fruit Explosion. It’s so good!

Do you still play sports?

When you do something for so long you’re ready to move on, so definitely not hockey! But I love tennis.

November 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 9

THE ORIGINAL ‘MALTED’ DRINK, IS OFFICIALLY BACK IN CANADA! Aimia Foods (sole owners of the brand licence in Canada) has relaunched into Canadian retail with fully compliant Horlicks malted milk and malted chocolate products through our exclusive distribution partner, Demand Planners Inc. Horlicks, an iconic British brand and the Original Malted Milk drink, dates its origins back to 1873, developed by two British brothers, William and James Horlicks. Horlicks is a global household name and a multibillion dollar brand! Today, the unique taste of Horlicks remains as delicious and comforting as it ever has been, and can be enjoyed hot or cold or even used as an ingredient in scrumptious home baking or sprinkled on ice cream.

If you are interested in growing your sales and putting the only Canadian compliant Horlicks product range in your stores, please contact





PRIVATE LABEL RAMPS UP The pandemic has accelerated a trend toward store brand innovation that was already well underway By Danny Kucharsky

Private label is experiencing a new lease on life, with grocers revamping their store brands and launching innovative new products. And the timing is opportune, as the coronavirus pandemic has pushed more cash-conscious consumers toward private label, accelerating a trend that was already underway, experts say. “The economics for private labelling are getting better and better, mostly as a result of COVID,” says Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. Consumers are looking for bargains, but these are increasingly hard to come by, particularly during the pandemic. This, he says, is leading to increased interest among grocers to design and control their own brands and sell product at reasonable prices. According to Nielsen, COVID-19 has increased private label’s share of market. During the first wave of the pandemic, from March 1 to July 11, 2020,

November 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 11

Ideas private label’s market share grew to 18.2% its Compliments brand. The grocer has compared with 17.2% in 2019. As COVID-19 been revamping its Compliments brand tightens consumers’ spending and the after finding there was “a significant economy falters, consumers will continue opportunity” to improve its assortment, to increase their private-label purchases, according to Seanna Rishor, vice-presisays Aslam Ghori, vice-president of client dent of private label at Sobeys. Compliservice at Nielsen. “Economic recessions ments has expanded into new categories are a big driver of private-label growth such as Greek yogurt, organic baby food, as shoppers need to make cost savings.” plant-based dips, family-size bathroom Post-pandemic, he expects these con- tissue and paper towels, goat cheese and sumers will maintain their habit of seek- coffee with single-serve K-Cups. ing and expecting better value. A survey conducted for Sobeys by Interestingly, Nielsen research shows Har­ris/Decima that was released in July many consumers now see private-label found 83% of Canadian grocery shoppers brands as being equivalent in quality to buy private-label brands and 49% do so national brands. Furthermore, consum- frequently. And with shoppers cooking ers are willing to spend more for premium from scratch again, so-called “COVID catprivate-label products, primarily “when egories” have seen a marked uptick in the product boasts a point of differenti- sales, Rishor says, adding that “consumation,” Ghori says. “The value for money ers are really gravitating towards frozen continuum, from premium through to and we’ve seen a resurgence in centre of budget private label, is being stretched store” private-label sales. and retailers are innovating quickly to Ken Keelor, CEO of Calgary Co-op, hopes meet shopper expectations.” its new private-label brand will soon be a Jenny Longo, director, private brands household name in the Calgary area. In at Longo’s, agrees. Consumers are defi- April, the 23-store retailer launched its nitely more open to trying a store brand new private-label program after its distriproduct right now, she says. “I feel private bution and private-label deal ended with label will continue to grow and flourish Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL). as store brands really allow an opportu- Calgary Co-op’s curated Cal & Gary’s nity to differentiate and offer fresh and store brand aims to represent Calgary, unique products.” while its Founders & Farmers brand is a Longo’s is revamping its entire private-­ national brand equivalent for everyday label portfolio, with the introneeds and value. duction of three new tiers, new “The value The goal of Cal & Gary’s is packaging and several new for money to combine quality and a disproducts, many of which are continuum, tinctive personality and create sourced from family-run com- from pre­mium an emotional connection with panies. “We take great pride in through to Calgarians, Keelor says. “It our private brand products and budget private would be so easy for us to just only put our name on products label, is being create a line of me-too items, we would serve our own famstretched and but we wanted to do something ily,” Longo says. retailers are a bit different.” Charlebois says Loblaw’s innovating Each Cal & Gary’s product President Choice has long been quickly to con­­t ains a “Calgaryism”—a a benchmark for private label meet shopper “fun but meaningful” tag line in Canada, with a strategy that expectations” that will resonate with Calgarhas been “impeccable.” Given ians, says Chris Gruber, senior that the address of Loblaw’s Brampton, director of private brands at Calgary Ont. head office is 1 President’s Choice Co-op. For Cal & Gary’s Organic eggs, Circle, “you can tell that they live and the “ism” is “Ready to crack, like your breathe for that brand,” he says. “It’s a windshield,” for example. “If you’re from super-important component of their Calgary, you will fully appreciate what business, whereas for other grocers I don’t that means,” she says. The Calgaryisms think it is yet. But it’s coming. The pan- also aim to cheer up people who are going demic has accelerated that process.” through tough times, adds Keelor. “It’s a Sobeys is another grocer that Charle- great time to bring a little smile or conbois says has recently been “getting its act nect with someone’s heart, and not just together around private labelling” with their wallet or their purse.” 12  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

Although Calgary Co-op now has fewer private-label offerings than when it was with FCL, Gruber says there were “unproductive products” in the mix before. “The right number for us is less around the number and more around what the consumers are looking for.” Gruber says both of Calgary Co-op’s new brands are “in ramp-up mode” and are expected to take about two years to reach the market average for private-label sales. “This brand is going to take years to build,” Keelor says. “Brands are not built overnight.” While most grocers have had their own private labels for years, the goal is to convert those private labels into true brands, Gruber explains. “This is really where the retailer is going to win and build confidence with consumers.” To boost its own private-label mix, Saskatoon-based Federated Co-operatives is focusing on “unique and different offerings” for its Co-op Gold Pure brand, many of which are sourced from the Prairies. There is significant potential in product innovation because “your margins are a lot higher,” says Sav Bellissimo, store brands manager at FCL. “There’s not a lot of competition to drag the prices down.” In October, FCL teamed up with Indigenous groups in northern Saskatchewan to launch two blends of loose leaf teas: Co-op Gold Pure Restoration (containing fermented fireweed and wild mint) and Relaxation (a mix of nettle, goldenrod and Labrador tea). It’s also buying fish from Indigenous communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan for its Co-op Gold Pure Northern Pike, Walleye and Lake Trout brands. “Those are all products that we’re proud of and hopefully have a halo effect,” Bellissimo says. FCL recently took the jam category, “which was basically stagnant,” and introduced a homestyle Co-op Gold Pure line with five varieties of Western Canadian fruit, including Saskatoon berries. As a home for the jam, it’s launched the new Co-op Gold Croissant Loaf, which combines bread and croissants. FCL is now working on private-label projects ranging from oat milk to hemp. As with any innovation, it can be good to take a few risks. Bellissimo notes that grocers who seek to be innovative in private label “are not going to hit it out of the ballpark every single time. You’re going to have to have a mentality that if you fail, it’s for the good of the category.”


Collaborate. Innovate. Activate. 68%

of Gen Z consumers expect their grocery delivery lead-time to be within 24 hours*


feel comfortable returning to shop in a physical store*


are likely to defer purchases rather than forming new habits.*



of customers agree that shopping for groceries online is easier than in-store*

Gen Z shoppers want a reason to make the trip to a store.*

Scan here to find out how we can help!

There is a real opportunity for companies to re-invent and optimize in-store and online journeys to ensure a better overall integration of the customer experience.** *Source: PWC 2020 Study – Canadian Consumer Insights **Source: Leger + lg2 2020 Study – The Commercial Shift

The united in-store marketing team Spanning premedia and digital assets, specialty packaging, direct mail solutions, promotion signage printing and kitting, POP display, retail fixture and full store design-build capabilities, we offer Canada’s most comprehensive set of in-store marketing solutions. We combine the strengths of TC Transcontinental, Holland and Crosby, and Artisan Complete to bring you maximum value and expertise. We are a collaborative group of experts, comprised of specialized teams sharing resources, learnings and best practices. We’re here to help you bring your brand to life, engage with your customers and tell your story.


UBER’S GROCERY JOURNEY Canadian Grocer chats with Uber Eats Canada GM Lola Kassim about the tech company’s foray into grocery delivery  By Carol Neshevich When ride-sharing app giant Uber announced last year that it was acquiring a majority stake in Cornershop, a Chile-based grocery delivery startup, it was clear it was only a matter of time before we would see Uber entering the grocery delivery space. This July, Uber launched its new grocery delivery service in Toronto and Montreal (with retailers including Walmart, Metro, Organic Garage, Galleria, Costco and Longo’s signing on with the service), followed by August launches in Ottawa, Gatineau and Quebec City. Here we chat with Lola Kassim, general manager of Uber Eats Canada, to learn more about Uber’s entry into the Canadian grocery delivery space.

Why did Uber decide to get into grocery delivery?

When Uber started out it was really about trying to help move people at the tap of a button. Press a button, a car comes, and then you get to where you want to go. Over the years, the ambitions have expanded. So you’ve seen things like Uber Eats being launched, which is really about helping connect people to food, at the tap of the button, from their favourite restaurant. And this [grocery delivery] is just an extension of that—how can we help people connect to great food in their communities? But now it’s not just food from a restaurant, but also grocery stores.

What makes your grocery delivery offering unique? We’re excited about bringing Uber and Cornershop together—Cornershop is a very established player in Latin America, and then you’ve got Uber, a great brand, a great network. I think for us what’s exciting is that we’ve really been able to make this kind of product offering seamless. So whether you’re opening 14  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

up your normal Uber rides app or you’re opening up your Uber Eats app, you’re also able to connect to the grocery experience right from the get-go. So for us, it’s quite exciting to start to see Uber as somewhere that’s really a one-stop shop for local commerce needs.

How’s it going so far?

The growth globally has been pretty great. I think something else that I haven’t mentioned is, what we’re trying to do is make this local e-commerce as simple as possible for people. We recently launched a membership service on Uber Eats in Canada that we call Eats Pass—so with a simple membership fee, you get access to free delivery. So it just makes it easier. You don’t have to think, every single time, “How much delivery fee am I going to pay?” And we’ve been able to extend this benefit to grocery. So, if you’re a member of this service, when you make a grocery order over $40, you also don’t have to worry about that delivery fee. We’re trying to make it as easy as possible.

Have there been challenges since launching?

Overall it’s been a success. With all e-commerce businesses, I think the level of growth that everyone saw towards the beginning of the pandemic was unexpected. So there’s always challenges when it comes to the logistics, etc., and just making sure that you’re able to fulfill orders, but nothing too overwhelming.

Do you think grocery delivery is a consumer habit that will stay strong post-pandemic?

Oh, certainly. I think the pandemic may have accelerated some people’s desire to look for these kinds of options, but I think once people see the convenience, and the safety, they’ll be hooked. I will say from my personal experience... I mean, getting groceries delivered has been around for a while, but I, personally, was the biggest skeptic. I like going to the grocery store, I like browsing. But even I’ve been converted.

What’s next for Uber in the grocery space?

Stay tuned for an increasing selection of merchants. What’s exciting is that, of course, the focus here is grocery, but we’ve got things beyond grocery available as well. So you’ll see things like Pet Valu if you’re looking for pet food, you’ll see things like Rexall from a pharmacy perspective. So I would say stay tuned for greater categories and offerings beyond just that pure grocery experience.

What would you like to say to Canada’s grocers?

Everybody’s realizing that you have to be online. You have to be digital. In this day and age, and especially with the pandemic and folks being at home, you need to make sure you’ve got a presence and that you’re able to deliver via e-commerce. I think that’s just table stakes. And, of course, we’re excited to continue expanding our merchant base.




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For the athlete in us all,

California Prunes are a champion snack choice. Alex Scott Canadian K-1 200m Sprint Kayak Olympic Athlete


of Canadians believe that





WOULD BUY PRUNES MORE OFTEN, if they were more available (or more prominent) in the stores where they shop.*

California Prunes: A snack for life.

“Start taking care of your body now, it will thank you later. California Prunes – a snack at any age.” Alex Scott

California Prunes are packed with nutrients. Your shelves should be packed with California Prunes. If you are interested in purchasing California Prunes or obtaining product information and prices, visit for a list of California Prune handlers. | @CAprunesCAN *Based on an independent survey conducted by Rose Research in June 2020 among 1,500 Canadians (primary grocery shoppers).


of Canadians reported they would LOOK FOR CALIFORNIA PRUNES the next time they buy prunes.*

Ideas Consumer research

CANADIANS KEEP ON COOKING Despite what you may have heard about the onset of meal-prep fatigue, home cooking isn’t going anywhere. According to a new BMO survey of 1,000 Canadians, home cooking is here to stay. Why? Consumers are watching their wallets. The findings bode well for grocers who “will continue to benefit from the ongoing cooking-at-home trend.” Some key points from the survey:


of survey respondents said they intend to cook at home “very frequently”* after covid-19. Before covid, 87% indicated doing so


of those surveyed said the main reason they think they’ll cook more after covid is to save money, while 29% said they feared a lingering covid risk, and just 28% said they enjoyed cooking at home during covid


Restaurants with “a high •proportion” of dine-in sales

will continue to be negatively impacted even after covid, the survey’s authors conclude, as the number of respondents intending to “not frequent” dine-in restaurants increases to 55% post-covid, up from 40% before the virus SOURCE: BMO CAPITAL MARKETS, HOME COOKING IS HERE TO STAY; SAVING MONEY KEY TO COVID CHOICES SURVEY, 2020 *“VERY FREQUENT” IS DEFINED AS EVERY DAY OR A FEW TIMES A WEEK


A new survey shows spending on organic food has climbed to $6.9 billion as Canadians focus on health By Rebecca Harris The hunger for organic food continues to grow. New research from Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) shows that organic products sold in Canada now account for 3.2% of all grocery sales. Consumers are spending $6.9 billion annually on organic pro­ducts, up from $5.4 billion (or 2.6% of all grocery sales) in 2017. In August, COTA commissioned Leger 360 to poll 1,000 consumers nationally to gauge the appetite for organic food. The survey found that the younger generation is the largest consumer group for organics, and spending declines with every age group. For centennials or gen Z (18-24), organic products comprise 46% of their weekly grocery purchases. That’s followed by millennials 25-34 (32% of weekly purchases); the 35-44 cohort (25%); gen Xers 45-55 (20%); baby boomers 55-74 (15%); and seniors 75+ (10%). Tia Loftsgard, executive director of COTA, says the research shows consumers are making choices that align with their health priorities and values, including avoiding exposure to pesticides and supporting higher animal welfare standards. In addition to that, during the global pandemic, Loftsgard says, “people are trying to make sure they have strong immune systems and are feeding their bodies well during this time where health is such a priority.” Of those who buy organic groceries, fruits and vegetables are purchased most

often—78% of respondents say they usually buy organic fruits and vegetables. Nearly a third (32%) buy organic meat and poultry, up from 26% in 2016—the largest increase of any product categor y. “The standards for organic meat are quite strict, not only just from the way [the animals] are raised, but the way they’re slaughtered and the fact that everything is extremely traceable,” says Loftsgard. The survey also found more than half of Canadians (55%) say they trust products with the Canada Organic Certified logo (regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency), this is up from 39% in 2016. Where are we buying organics? According to the survey, 82% of Canadians who buy organic food do so at traditional grocery stores, up from 75% in 2016. And 45% shop for organics at mass retailers such as Walmart and Costco, up from 39% in 2016. One-quarter (25%) say they purchase organics from natural health stores, up slightly from 24% in 2016. But in Quebec, 39% of organic shoppers say they buy from natural health stores. For retailers, Loftsgard stresses the importance of proper in-store merchandising. “Certain retailers take it quite seriously to make sure there is no confusion between what is organic versus other claims such as natural or grass-fed,” she says. “If [retailers] are going to merchandise, they should do it well and make sure there is no question mark around what is organic or not.”

November 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 17

Canadians Love Italy’s Most Loved


The 27th Canadian Grand Prix Jurors said:

*based on refrigerated pasta sales

“Looks homemade and tastes fantastic!” “A very inspired product, a credit to Italian cuisine.” “Better than others on the market!”

For more information about how to grow your refrigerated pasta category please

visit or contact

A PASSIONATE ITALIAN PASTA MAKER IS SHARING HIS REFRIGERATED PASTA WITH THE WORLD Since 1962, when Mr. Giovanni Rana started making filled pasta by hand in Verona, Italy, the Rana Family has been guided by the same principles. From selecting only the finest ingredients to utilizing the most updated, patented technologies, we put love in everything we do. That’s how Rana refrigerated pasta has quickly become Italy’s favourite. For over 3 generations, the Rana Family has produced and brought the finest pasta first to Europe, then to the USA and now to Canada. For us, great flavour comes from great, authentic ingredients. That’s why we don’t use preservatives, artificial flavours, artificial colours, GMO ingredients, nor powdered eggs. Our commitment to high quality is a difference you can taste and share with those you love.

In 2012 Giovanni Rana launched in the USA. Since then, Rana grew the category by 39% in that last 9 years and is now the market leader with 46% share. Our investments in premium quality, innovation, distinctive packaging, advertising & promotion have driven the category growth and we can do the same in Canada. Giovanni Rana is proud to share his brand with Canada, and to have been recognized with the Canadian Grand Prix Award! Buon Appetito!

SHOPPER SENSE ||  Carman Allison demand can dramatically impact sales. What’s at risk? If the product is not on the shelf, you will lose the sale 66% of the time.

Four consumer behaviours shaping future growth Consumers are rethinking how they shop and what they buy. To win, retailers must continually evolve to meet changing needs

As we head into phase two of the COVID-19 crisis, not planning for future consumer demand can dramatically impact sales. What’s at risk? If the product is not on the shelf, you will lose the sale 66% of the time

The force of COVID-19 continues to spark creative ways to conduct business and meet consumers’ demands. Shopping behaviours are a testament that our “new normal” is a never-ending evolution, which makes the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) landscape more interesting than it’s ever been. While the future may be uncertain, we do know there is a behavioural shift unfolding, which is being defined by an economic reset as consumers rethink how they shop and what they buy. The impact isn’t equal, as many of us reset our household needs and expectations. In Nielsen’s The Two Sides to Every Dollar You Sell report, we’ve highlighted four consumer trends defining future growth opportunities. SUPPLY CHAIN STRUGGLES ARE REAL—AND COSTLY Initially, consumer demand caught the FMCG industry off guard with sales the week of March 21 increasing 55%. Faced with unprecedented demand, retailers and manufacturers quickly adapted. However, there is room for improvement as the supply chains for some categories still struggle, and this can be costly. Items topping the shopping list during the pandemic that have been impacted by out-of-stocks include hand sanitizer, antibacterial cleaners, paper products, fresh food, bread and baked goods. While FMCG sales have stabilized, retailers and manufacturers still have plenty of work ahead of them to meet demand levels; for instance, 60% of shoppers faced out of stock items in July, down 11 points versus May. As we head into phase two of the COVID-19 crisis, not planning for future consumer

20  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

CONSUMERS ARE DOING MORE WITH LESS For the majority of Canadians, spending control is their new reality, with 66% of consumers limiting their overall grocery spend. Since the pandemic has impacted consumers differently, this aspiration is polarizing. For example, 89% of constrained consumers (those negatively impacted by COVID-19) are focused on spending less on groceries, compared to 58% of insulated consumers (those not impacted). Retailers and manufacturers must continue to reward those consumers who need to manage their spend control, but don’t promote too aggressively and risk cannibalizing sales from big spenders. We need to promote with a purpose, and not use promotions as a primary growth strategy. RISE IN D-I-Y The do-it-yourself (DIY) approach Canadians have adapted in their daily routines has fuelled a new homebody economy. When we asked consumers about which food meal planning and preparation activities they had done more of in the past month, we found: more are cooking (+46%), trying recipes (+43%), baking (+30%), using meal deliveries (+11%), purchasing grocery-prepared meals (+10%) and ordering meal kits (+5%). With consumers across Canada expecting to spend the majority of their time at home for the foreseeable future, manufacturers and retailers can help by proactively providing them with inspiration, entertainment and recipe ideas to make their stay-at-home situations more enjoyable. E-COMMERCE IS FOR EVERYONE The most staggering shift has been increased trial and reliance on e-commerce for groceries, which has seen an impressive 86% increase over last year. Fuelling this dramatic shift were increases in household penetration, frequency of shopping and basket sizes. Consumers are avoiding the stores and trying out online grocery shopping out of safety concerns and as a convenience play. COVID-19 has forced many retailers to quickly adapt and offer various delivery options. As online shopping becomes more routine and satisfaction continues to grow, retailers need to provide seamless online shopping platforms and delivery options to fuel future demand. COVID-19 has redefined growth opportunities across Canada. Though the future is uncertain, more changes are inevitable. Retailers and manufacturers who can continually evolve to meet future consumer demand will win in the Canadian market. CG

Carman Allison is vice-president, consumer intelligence at Nielsen in Toronto. @CarmAllison

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Top Shelf Picks Honey Brown Lager: Brewed with natural honey for a rich, smooth flavour, Sleeman Honey Brown Lager is a fullbodied lager with a rich copper colour.


Original Draught: An easy-to-drink lager, Sleeman Original Draught has a distinctive floral hop aroma and refreshing finish. Since it’s unpasteurized, beer lovers can enjoy pubquality draught beer at home.

Grocers can tap into Canadians’ thirst for unique beer styles and flavours—and increase basket size


remains a nation of beer lovers, so there’s plenty of opportunity for grocers to brew up sales. Here’s a look at key stats, growing trends and must-have products in this important category: By The Numbers: Canadians spent $23.6 billion on alcohol at retail outlets in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019. Beer led the pack, with $9.4 billion in sales. Beer fans are big on made-in-Canada brews: 84% of beer sales were domestic, while 16% were imports. Lager dominates the beer market, while ale, flavoured beer, stout, wheat beer and dark beer round out Canadians’ preferences. New Shopper Mindset: Beer has the power to influence where consumers choose to shop. With Canadians now making fewer trips and wanting a one-stop shop, there’s even more reason for grocers to offer a great beer selection. Retailers should ensure a variety of beer options are available for stock-up missions and different consumer occasions, such as seasonal and holiday. Match Makers: Beer and food pairings are popular in foodservice. Now, this trend has taken its rightful place at the dinner table, presenting a perfect opportunity for grocers to increase basket size. While there are limitations on merchandising, grocers can educate shoppers on pairings via digital channels, flyers and in store. Some popular pairings are IPAs and spicy foods; brown ales with full-bodied cheeses; and lager with light seafood or pasta dishes.


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BEHIND THE TRENDS  ||  Matt Godinsky

covid-19 could

revo­lutionize the instore experience, too Investments by retailers and growing consumer interest in new tech is a sure sign a reimagined in-store experience is on the way

Enhancing the in-store shopping experience does not just benefit consumers. Grocery retailers have as much, if not more, to gain from upgrading their infra­ structure with smarter technology

The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated consumer interest in e-commerce and has made clear that the shift towards online grocery retail has staying power. The vast sums of capital that leading grocery retailers are pouring into investments in technology, fulfillment centres and omnichannel strategies are evidence enough; Walmart Canada plans to invest $3.5 billion over the next five years. Loblaw accelerated the opening of its micro-fulfillment centre in Toronto and expanded capabilities for its PC Express delivery service. Empire, owner of Sobeys and associated brands, launched Voilà, its online grocery delivery service ahead of schedule. While these investments indicate substantial commitments to the evolution of online grocery retail, the ways in which the pandemic accelerated what will be lasting changes to the in-store experience is less obvious. But this does not mean that Plexiglass barriers and abundant hand sanitizer stations will necessarily become permanent fixtures. More important than these stop-gap measures are the underlying trends that are pushing grocery retailers towards developing a quicker, more efficient and (especially now) more contactless in-store shopping experience. What are the trends driving grocery retailers to revamp the in-store shopping experience? Transitioning to digital payments has been building for several years now, all in an effort to limit human-tohuman contact. According to the latest consumer finance data from Euromonitor International, cash transactions in Canada have declined by 58% in 2020. In comparison, last year these transactions

24  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

declined just 9.7%. As a result, grocery retailers have made self-checkout lanes more accessible and have encouraged contactless payments. Grocery retailers have also sought to make the in-store experience more efficient and enjoyable for consumers through next-generation technology. In 2019, Sobeys began a pilot of smart carts that allow customers to shop, pay, apply coupons and even weigh produce right at the cart—no need to visit the checkout line. While Sobeys’ pilot is limited in scope, smart cart creator Caper claims that since the pandemic started, consumers are utilizing smart carts more than ever. With the traditional in-store shopping experience being hampered by necessary safety precautions, retailers need to innovate in ways in which consumers are already expressing interest. Enhancing the in-store shopping experience does not just benefit consumers. Grocery retailers have as much, if not more, to gain from upgrading their infrastructure with smarter technology. With online grocery retail taking off, and particularly with the rise of third-party grocery delivery services, consumer data is now top of mind for retailers. The same type of information war has already been playing out for several years now in the foodservice industry between third-party players and restaurant operators. Retailers want the same ability to compile and analyze consumer shopping data that third-party services are privy to when consumers order groceries online. Doing so would allow retailers to better craft personalized advertising, offers and deals that are likely to attract and retain customers. Grocery retailers have made substantial progress towards this goal due, in part, to direct-to-store online grocery ordering as well as expanded loyalty programs. However, there is still ground to gain through the in-store shopping experience by leveraging technology, such as smart carts and systems like Amazon Go’s cashierless checkout. Again, the pilot programs for such technology have been limited in scope, and there are many naysayers within the industry who feel high costs and potential theft are barriers too steep to overcome. The acceleration of consumer trends, the rise of data-driven marketing and the financial strength of grocery retailers as a result of the pandemic is a perfect storm causing a major shakeup in grocery. The implications for the growth and success of online grocery retail are already clear. While the specifics of a fully reimagined in-store experience are somewhat less clear and could develop more gradually, the investments being made by grocery retailers and the growing consumer interest in new technologies are a sure sign that they are on the way. CG

Matt Godinsky is an analyst at Euromonitor International, an independent provider of strategic market research.

A special thank you to our sponsors for supporting the 2020 Star Women Awards GOLD SPONSORS




Congratulations to Margaret Hudson For Receiving The Grocery Industry’s Highest Honour – The Golden Pencil Award Burnbrae Farms is extremely proud of our company President, Margaret Hudson, who has been chosen as one of this year’s recipients of The Golden Pencil Award. The Golden Pencil is the Canadian grocery industry’s highest honour for lifetime achievement. Margaret’s father, Joe Hudson, was selected for this honour in 2001. Joe and Margaret Hudson are the only father daughter combination to have won this prestigious industry award in its 63 year history. This award recognizes her on-going dedication to the Canadian food industry and reflects Burnbrae Farms’ commitment to collaboration and growth – both in the industry and in the community.

Cover Story

GOLDEN PENCIL AWARDS 2020 By Shellee Fitzgerald and Carol Neshevich

One is president of a long-standing egg business known for its sustainability and innovation; the other two are leaders of a rapidly growing and successful fresh market-style grocery chain. All three, of course, are shining examples of excellence in the grocery and CPG industries. The Golden Pencil Awards have been presented by the Food Industry Association of Canada since 1957 to recognize individuals who have made lasting contributions to the Canadian food industry and their communities. Read on to learn more about 2020’s winners: Jean-Louis Bellemare, Margaret Hudson and Jeff York. THE GOLDEN PENCIL AWARDS WILL TAKE PLACE (VIRTUALLY) ON NOVEMBER 30  ||  VISIT GROCERYCONNEX.COM FOR INFO

November 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 27

Cover Story


Bellemare President & general manager || farm boy 28  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

Nearly 40 years later, Farm Boy now has 33 locations across Ontario, with another 10 locations slated to open by the end of 2021. In 2018, the grocery chain was acquired by Sobeys’ parent Empire Company, which has let Farm Boy continue to follow its own special formula for success, without making any major changes to the brand—a brand that’s become well known for its fresh market experience and highly sought-after private-­label offerings. Bellemare says Farm Boy’s growth in the past decade or so (and particularly its expansion outside of the Ottawa area to other Ontario markets such as Toronto, Kingston, London, Kitchener, Whitby, Burlington and more) is something he’s immensely proud of. “We were a little local company, and then we pushed ourselves … We eventually said, ‘Well, we have to take this model and bring it to cities that are further out than Ottawa or Cornwall,’” he says. “I’m proud of that. I think it was something that pushed me out of my comfort zone, going to markets that were further out, without losing what Farm Boy was. I think that was a big accomplishment.” When asked what’s kept him engaged and working hard at Farm Boy’s success for all these years, Bellemare credits his passion for the industry. “When you’re really passionate about something, I think the work ethic comes a lot easier,” he says. “It’s a very fast-paced business. It’s a very colourful business. I love going into the stores and being surrounded with all the food and the colours and the people. And it’s exciting. It’s vibrant. It’s alive, and it’s something that has always kept me interested.”


jean-Louis Bellemare grew up in the world of produce. His father owned a wholesale produce business, so he was immersed in it from a very young age. In 1981, while still in his teens, he opened his own business: a 300-sq.-ft. produce-­ only grocery store in Cornwall, in Eastern Ontario. “At the age of 18 years old, I started my first Farm Boy store with my wife—who was back then my girlfriend— and from there, my career path has been all about growing the Farm Boy business,” says Bellemare.

Congratulations Jean-Louis & Jeff

From our founding roots in Cornwall, Ontario in 1981, Farm Boy’s sole purpose has been to deliver the best fresh local produce to families in our community. Thank you Jean-Louis and Jeff for keeping the team grounded as we continue to grow, and for making our communities better along our 40-year journey! Congratulations on your Food Industry Association of Canada 2020 Golden Pencil Award. From the Farm Boy Team

Cover Story



President || burnbrae farms

30  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

Continual investment and a focus on innovation have contributed to Burnbrae’s long-standing success. And Hudson says one of the things she’s most proud of is the innovation that has helped transform the egg case. Among the innovations she’s ushered in: omega-3 eggs (in 1996), free run/cage-free eggs (1998) and organic eggs (2000). Liquid egg whites were launched in 1997 as a clever way to use egg whites left over from mayonnaise production (which only required yolks). More recent innovations include flavoured hard-boiled eggs and Egg Bakes! Innovation under Hudson’s watch also extended to sustainable solutions. In 1996, Burnbrae launched a 100% post-­consumer recycled egg carton. “It was a really beautiful moment for me when I realized that some of those ambitions I had early on, to have an impact on the environment in a positive way, could actually play out at work,” says Hudson, who studied environmental science at university. Last year, Burnbrae opened Canada’s largest solar-powered egg farm near Woodstock, Ont. and received Ontario’s 2020 Excellence in Agriculture Award for the innovative project. Hudson credits her upbringing and both parents for her work ethic. “Growing up on a farm, everybody worked,” she says. “Both of my parents were very hard working and driven; my dad (Joe, who received his own Golden Pencil Award in 2001) clearly for the business, and my mother for her family and the community,” she says. Hudson will admit that working within a family business can carry its own unique set of pressures. “You get held to a higher standard and there are a lot of eyes on you,” she says, but on the other hand, “there are a lot of people who want you to see you do well.”


“I had two ambitions,” says Margaret Hudson of her earliest career goals. “One was to carry on the family business, and the other was to do something positive for the environment.” Over her 30 plus years at Burnbrae Farms, Hudson has doggedly pursued both goals. Family owned and operated since it was founded in 1891 on an Eastern Ontario farm, Burnbrae Farms today is one of the leading producers and marketers of eggs in Canada with operations in five provinces.

Congratulations Margaret Hudson, Jean Louis Bellemare and Jeff York on your 2020 Golden Pencil Award!

from your friends at

Cover Story

jeff York likes to say he’s an “accidental grocer.” A graduate of Princeton University with a major in economics, he got into retail in 1989 after working as an auditor for Giant Tiger in Ottawa. “Giant Tiger needed to fix a problem with its warehouse and they wanted a person to come in who was impartial, so I came in on a contract to help,” says York, adding with a laugh, “And then I stayed.” In fact, he stayed at the discount retailer for 20 years, working his way up through the ranks, eventually becoming the company’s president.


Partner & special advisor || farm boy/empire 32  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020



York grew Giant Tiger from a regional discount chain with $250 million in sales to a large national brand with locations across the country and $1.3 billion in sales—something he calls one of his greatest career achievements. So when Farm Boy was looking for a new CEO to grow its business in 2009, York seemed a natural choice. With York at the helm, Farm Boy grew from a nine-store chain in the Ottawa region to a 33-store chain with locations across Ontario today, and another 10 set to open by the end of 2021. He’s now partner and special advisor for Farm Boy and its parent company Empire, which acquired Farm Boy in 2018. As a leader, York favours a positive approach. “I like to get people to believe in themselves and help them become better managers and leaders, and then push them to have a say,” he says. “I like to get them to discuss issues and bring forward their ideas, and get them to feel good about those ideas.” And while he may have “accidentally” fallen into retail all those years ago, his passion for the grocery industry today is palpable. “I love the resilience of the grocery industry,” says York. “It’s always changing and you’re always adapting to where you think the consumer is going to be, and I love that—getting ahead of the consumer and providing that ‘wow’ in the store. That’s how we do it at Farm Boy; we want to have a great customer experience and great food. It’s not about ‘good.’ It’s about ‘great.’” CG

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Front of store

RETHINKING THE FRONT END As shoppers change, it’s time to reinvent the traditionally impulse-driven front of store By Rosalind Stefanac

There was a time when the front end was the it spot in the grocery store: a prime place for impulse purchases and a good way to get consumers to increase their basket size. But with the rise of self-checkout and online shopping—not to mention a global pandemic that’s reducing the time people want to spend in-store—those once lucrative front-end margins are steadily declining. “This change [to the front end] has been happening for a long time now, but the pandemic is just accelerating it,” says Anne Stephenson, a partner at Explorer Research in Mississauga, Ont. “We’re telling our clients it’s important to start testing different options now in terms of how to manage this fundamental change that’s already in progress.” Indeed, research shows the consumer mindset around checkout is evolving. A recent study from Explorer revealed 48% of shoppers want to exit the checkout as quickly as possible and 40% don’t want to touch or pick up a product at the front end on their way out. Furthermore, Stephenson says 48% of impulse purchases are triggered before a shopper enters the checkout lane, so staff directing consumers to a particular checkout lane (a standard practice during the pandemic) is interrupting this trigger. “We’re not giving up on the front end, but now that shoppers’ ability to browse and demonstrate old impulse behaviours has been eliminated, it’s about how to reinvent this area,” says Stephenson. That could mean adding impulse zones before shoppers even get to the checkout, or simplifying the process for them and focusing on best-selling SKUs. “The time pressures we’re facing means shoppers are that much more organized and driven going into the grocery store, so retailers have to figure out new strategies to regain sales and drive impulsivity.”

Finding the right front-end fit Adam Tully, senior director of grocery at Calgary Co-op says now that social distancing is the norm, 34  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

there is physically less space for items at the front end, and the need for “the right products at the right time” is essential to tailor to customers’ needs. At his stores, that could mean masks and hand sanitizers at the height of a COVID-19 wave and Halloween treats in October. “In some of our centres, we’ve created lines that snake past confectionery and PPE items,” he says. “If the right things are up there that customers need, they will put it in their baskets.” That many of us are turning to snacking now more than ever is another opportunity to drive purchases at the front end. “Canadians are increasingly turning to snacking for comfort and a sense of emotional well-being, and our research indicates that snacking has increased by as much as 60% in recent months,” says Julie Sirois, vice-president of sales at Mondelēz Canada. To this end, Mondelēz has been working closely with its customers on ways to convert shoppers at front of store. “Our focus is to attract new shoppers in the queue line, front-end cap areas and through self-checkout as we see evolving consumer behaviours,” she says. “Additionally, as self-­ checkouts become more prevalent, there are real opportunities to reimagine the queue as a key place for purchases.”

Changing the experience In addition to a front-end product overhaul, retailers are making investments to enhance the checkout experience to address shoppers’ increasing need for speed and safety. According to the 2018 Consumers Cringe at Slow Checkout report from Forrester Consulting, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. grocery shoppers, short lines and a fast, accurate checkout experience are as important as location, price and assortment. In fact, the checkout experience was more important than customer service, ongoing sales or store layout. Walmart is giving customers myriad options when it comes to checking out. Along with traditional and self-checkout, customers can do online and curbside pickup, as well as check out with a roaming employee who scans items on a mobile device. The retail giant is also experimenting with cashier-less stores with self-checkout kiosks. “We’re seeing customers making fewer trips to our stores, but when they are shopping it’s with a larger basket,” says Lee Jeyes, innovation director, customer experience at Walmart Canada, noting that more checkout options make customers feel more comfortable. “It’s about making it as contactless as possible, while maintaining speed and service,” he says. “We’re prioritizing safety even above merchandising.” Meanwhile, advances in artificial intelligence are promising to further revolutionize checkout by eliminating it entirely. Standard Cognition’s AI-powered autonomous checkout solution, already live in several U.S.-based convenience stores, is a prime example. Shoppers simply download an app, press the check-in button when they enter the store, grab

walk up to a shelf and it will point me to something of interest to me,” he says.

So where does online shopping fit in? Analysts say grocers should be taking better advantage of the front-end component of online shopping too, especially now that the pandemic has pushed more people to shop at their virtual grocery stores. “Now [grocers] can provide a contextual checkout experience that takes advantage of who you are, what your order is, where you live and your historical purchases,” says Peter Hughes, partner and national leader, customer, for KPMG in Canada. “The ability to leverage that to customize that last mile experience for shoppers is far greater than what an in-store experience ever could.” In addition to curating the right kinds of impulse items at checkout, Hughes stresses the importance of the right language and ease of design to get shoppers clicking on impulse purchases online. He points to the airlines that have been doing this well for years, giving travellers the ability to book flights, pick seating and buy third-party offerings online. “The grocery industry is a bit of a lagger but with so much customer intelligence already, there is so much potential,” says Hughes. “I really think that now is a tremendous opportunity for grocers to reinvent what the impulse buy is.” CG

New autonomous checkout solutions (like the one pic­ tured below, from Standard Cognition) are among the many factors reshaping the front of store


what they want and walk out, without ever dealing with a cashier. A receipt comes by email and a shopper can refund any purchase within seven days if there are discrepancies. “Autonomous checkout will definitely change the impulse purchase dynamic, because it eliminates those [checkout] lines,” says Jordan Fisher, co-founder and CEO of Standard Cognition. In fact, his company is working closely with retailers and brands, such as Circle K and Mars Wrigley, to rethink store layouts and merchandising strategies to better understand the buying behaviour in a checkout-free world. “We’re exploring avenues such as in-store and in-app promotions. It’s still early, but we’re starting to collect data on what works best.” Smart shopping carts like Amazon’s Dash Cart, which uses sensor technology to track purchases so consumers can avoid checkouts, are slowly catching on as well. “I definitely see chains experimenting with these kinds of technologies,” says Marty Weintraub, partner and national retail leader at Deloitte in Toronto. “And now that we can take advantage of shopper data, we can better personalize the offerings.” He says grocers have to recognize that impulse shopping doesn’t have to happen “in the final mile of the store,” but can also be an indulgence that’s triggered throughout the aisles. “We’re going to see a lot more digitization where eventually I’ll be able to

November 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 35



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Generation Next thinking

GROCERY’S great consumer shifts

Five lasting changes in shopper behaviour and the opportunities they present for grocers


By Rebecca Harris

Old habits die hard, the saying goes. But when a deadly pandemic rips around the world and droves of North Americans suddenly start buying groceries online, take up home cooking and baking, and finally start paying with tap, it’s evident that old habits can, in fact, die pretty quickly. As grocers well know, COVID-19 has ignited big changes in shoppers’ habits and behaviours. While the pandemic will end at some point, that doesn’t mean consumers will suddenly spring back to their pre-crisis ways. In an uncertain world, what’s “normal” is getting a reset and experts say several consumer shifts will stick. “We’ve effectively seen a decade of change—in the way people live, work and shop—in a period of weeks,” says Robin Sahota, a managing director at Accenture who leads its retail practice in Canada. “Customer habits have changed and we would say these changes are here to stay.” Here’s a look at five consumer shifts that are expected to endure, along with expert advice on how grocers can adapt to meet consumers’ new needs:

1. Online grocery shopping has arrived Canada’s lockdown orders this past spring, coupled with people’s fears of catching coronavirus at the grocery store, led to a surge in online shopping. A July survey of 1,000 Canadians by BMO found the percentage of respondents using online grocery as their primary shopping channel tripled during the height of the pandemic, from 10% to 30%. The results also suggest that 22% of respondents—or double the pre-COVID level—will stick to online grocery shopping in the post-COVID world. A June survey of more than 4,000 Canadians by Leger and lg2 ranked online shopping services people interacted with for the first time, such as buying groceries, ordering prescriptions or getting alcohol delivered. “Groceries with in-store pickup” came out on top, with 13.5% of respondents using this service for the first time, followed by “groceries with home delivery” at 9.7%. For many online shoppers, there’s no turning back. “When people discovered cars, we did not go back to horses,” says Christian Bourque, executive

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vice-president of Leger. “When it comes to online shopping, it’s a bit the same ... Some of the grocery shopping in Canada has moved online and will stay online because of the convenience factor and the fact that people like doing it.” To adapt to the online shopping world—and make a profit—Sahota’s advice to grocers is to focus on order-picking automation and efficiency, such as micro-fulfillment facilities in store, or automating distribution centres. “They also need to scale lastmile fulfillment to drive delivery costs down, and that’s quite crucial to the overall cost model for e-commerce,” he says. Retailers also have to keep in mind that the customer experience isn’t just in-store. “During this pandemic, for some retailers it was challenging to manage the pickup scheduling and volume of pickups that were happening outside,” says Sahota. “You have consumers who are frustrated that the online experience doesn’t mirror the store.” To that end, grocers should look at how they can enhance the online experience, including ease of use of the website, the search function, navigation, ease of checkout and queue management.

2. The need for clean Canadians’ new hygiene habits will be hard to break. Leger’s survey asked respondents which in-store health and safety measures they think should be permanent. The results point to a squeaky clean future: 71% said the availability of sanitizer inside the store (to be used at the customer’s discretion) should be permanent. This was followed by disinfected shopping carts and baskets (63%); mandatory hand washing at the entrance (49%); Plexiglass panels at the cash desk (49%) and no longer distributing printed flyers (40%). “If at any point governments start relaxing some of the measures, I don’t know if retailers should hurry back to the old normal,” says Bourque. “People will expect that until we all get vaccinated, these safety measures will be around.” To draw customers back into stores, grocers need to keep focusing on cleaning house. “We’re back to the basics in retail operations,” says Sahota. “Cleaning and hygiene in the store is the most effective way to improve consumer confidence in returning to stores—showing people the store is clean, demonstrating cleaning in progress, and adhering to guidelines around physical distancing.” Hand in hand with back-to-basics is, oddly enough, a focus on in-store technology. The Accenture survey, for example, found that 54% of Canadians increased their use of contactless payments, and among those, 87% expect to sustain their increased level of usage. “From a tech perspective, contactless payments and self-checkout were already important topics pre-COVID, from an efficiency standpoint and allowing shoppers to shop in the way they want to shop,” says Sahota. “Now, there is increased urgency 38  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

“If at any point governments start relaxing some of the measures, I don’t know if retailers should hurry back to the old normal. People will expect that until we all get vaccinated, these safety measures will be around”

for contactless payments and self-checkout given consumers’ desire and retailers’ need to limit person-to-person contact.” There’s also a high-tech opportunity for CPG brands in the “clean” space. For example, manufacturers can communicate via QR code what they’re doing to ensure their products are safe, their facilities are clean, and their employees are healthy, says Dana McCauley, director, new venture creation at the University of Guelph’s Research Innovation Office. “In particular, I think it’s a great opportunity for meat [brands], which have already done a good job highlighting farmers on their packages, given the tiny amount of real estate they have there,” she says. “This is a way to refresh that messaging and have a QR code so that a consumer can pull out their phone and instantly see a video of this incredibly pristine factory that’s being used to create the item that’s going into their cart.”

3. Functional foods, with a twist While shoppers are doing their best to defend against COVID-19 in store, they’re also looking for foods that fight back against the virus. That means immunity-boosting foods and ingredients will play a significant role in the coming year. According to new research from Mintel, 60% of Canadians would like more information on how to boost their immune system, and 53% are more interested in boosting their immunity through food compared to a year ago. While it might be tempting to jump on the immunity-boosting bandwagon, there’s a bigger picture to look at. “For grocers and food manufacturers alike, I would say don’t be like the horse with the blinders and think ‘we have to address physical health because it’s COVID-19,’” says Carol Wong-Li, associate director, lifestyles and leisure at Mintel. “When we think about functional foods, it’s not just about physical well-being, but also foods to address things like elevated anxiety and lack of sleep, as well as foods that help relax you and bring you joy.” Wong-Li cites two U.S. examples that cleverly touch on these well-being elements. Nightfood is a line of ice cream made with “sleep-friendly” ingredients—not drugs or sleep aids, but minerals and amino acids the company says can support sleep quality, as well as less sugar and fat than regular ice cream so it’s not hard on the digestive system. “The message is, ‘we know you need comfort food now, but we’re going to make sure it doesn’t interrupt your rest because that’s so important,’” says Wong-Li. Another example is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, which launched its Sunshine flavour this past spring. The ice cream itself is grey but the flavours are citrus and tropical fruit—the message being these are grey times, but the sun always shines again. “Because we’re not going out for experiences to the same degree that we were, any sort of playfulness that we can get inside the home is even more important than before,” says Wong-Li. “These two examples showcase that yes,

Generation Next thinking there is function, but let’s think a little broader.” Grocery retailers themselves can also innovate in this space. “It’s about how to make functional fun,” says Wong-Li. For holidays and celebrations, she suggests grocers put together meal kits that can be delivered to two or more households, so family and friends can partake in the meal even if they can’t be together.

4. Squeezed spenders and the gen Z conundrum Add “financial health” to the list of things people are worried about during the pandemic. According to Nielsen, two sets of consumers have emerged from the pandemic: those whose spending habits are constrained because of layoffs, unemployment or other COVID-related challenges, and those with insulated levels of spending who are still employed and remain shielded from day-to-day economic impacts. Aslam Ghori, vice-president, client service at Nielsen, says in the longer term, constrained spenders will seek out cheaper alternatives, downgrading to value brands and private labels, mostly in staple categories. Insulated spenders, meanwhile, “may choose to supplement home cooking with prepared meals and meal kits, adding back [takeout foods] and home deliveries,” he says. However, eventually everyone will be watching their wallets. “As horizons expand, even [insulated consumers] will become increasingly cautious with their spending, thinking they may be next,” says Hanif Mohamed, SVP retail services at Nielsen. This will result in a focus on savings and cutting back on higher-­value discretionary spend, he adds. Mintel research found that 22% of Canadians are very concerned about their financial situation right now, and 27% are worried about their financial situation over the next three months. While the lockdown measures severely impacted the labour market, Wong-Li says the impact was particularly severe for gen Z (18 to 25) in terms of job losses and limiting future job prospects. This, she adds, will have a cascading effect on the retail market for years to come. “A lot of gen Zs have moved back in with their gen X parents, so there will be a delay in transfer in terms of who is going to be your primary household shopper,” says Wong-Li. “And because gen X parents are the ones buying for the household, gen Zs aren’t necessarily going to be learning how to cook or buy groceries for themselves until they move out.” The unique challenge for retailers will be how to appeal to gen Z as the end users of products and services, while appealing to gen X parents as the actual buyers. “Obviously, we know that gen Z is a very tech-savvy group and that’s where they live, so that’s how [retailers] should think about engaging them,” says Wong-Li.

5. Help for homebound consumers Many Canadians cooked their way through quarantine, and now that everyone has a sourdough starter,

“People are now looking for shortcut ingredients, pantry-raid solutions and hack-style recipes.” In other words, it’s OK to use ready-to-use pastry or store-bought rotisserie chicken as part of a recipe. With these shortcuts, “people can feel like they have variety, while getting a bit of a break”

it’s time to move on. “I think everybody is sick of expressing themselves through the culinary arts,” says the University of Guelph’s McCauley. “People are now looking for shortcut ingredients, pantry-raid solutions and hack-style recipes.” In other words, it’s OK to use ready-to-use pastry or store-bought rotisserie chicken as part of a recipe. With these shortcuts, “people can feel like they have variety, while getting a bit of a break.” For grocers, there’s a big opportunity to merchandise convenient meal solutions. “They don’t want people lingering in the store, but they do want people to have a full basket when they check out and they’d love to see everybody spend a little more on each trip,” says McCauley. “So, make it easy for people.” For example, they could create a meal planner that’s highlighted in the online flyer and then merchandise some of the items together in store or online. “The idea is, buy these baking potatoes, this pre-marinated chicken, this bag of salad and this salad dressing and you’ve got your Monday night dinner,” says McCauley. Mintel’s Wong-Li identifies two big opportunities to appeal to homebound consumers. One is offering meal kits geared towards kids, which is a way to offer both a meal solution and keep kids engaged. The second is grocers teaming up with restaurant brands to create frozen food offerings, since many people miss eating out at restaurants. “[Brands] could position it as a treat or reward, but it’s also a time saver,” says Wong-Li. Homebound consumers are also putting local stores and products into sharp focus. In Accenture’s survey, 54% of Canadians say the pandemic has caused them to shop in closer-to-home neighbourhood stores, with 75% saying they plan to continue doing so long term. In addition, 54% say they’re buying more locally-sourced products, with 86% of those saying they plan to keep doing so long term. Accenture’s report notes that consumers’ renewed focus on their local community will be long term, bringing about the “decade of the home” and forcing retailers and CPG companies to tailor their products and services to drive a more local experience. “For retailers, sourcing local is important, but equally important is tailoring that local assortment based on the needs, preferences, buying behaviour of local consumers,” says Sahota. “In this case, analytics is going to be king, so that [the assortment] is tailored to customers at a specific store.” Beyond data, think delight. “Surprising and delighting consumers with partnerships with local vendors and restaurants, and other ways to create excitement at store level, will also be important to building greater engagement and encouraging customers to shop beyond their shopping list.” Local or otherwise, Sahota says because leisure shopping is on the decline, “finding ways for consumers to try new products and services and grow their basket with you will be equally important in standing out in the years ahead.” CG

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HIP DIPS AND SASSY SAUCES Offering a wide array of innovative dips and sauces can help save customers from meal-prep burnout By Michele Sponagle

Earlier in the pandemic, consumers in lockdown fully embraced home cooking. They dusted off old cookbooks in search of meal ideas and adopted a “let’s try it” attitude in the kitchen. More than half a year later, however, pandemic and cooking fatigue has kicked in and for many, meal preparation has become a chore again. “Enthusiasm for trying new recipes has waned,” says Dana McCauley, director of new venture creation at the University of Guelph’s Research Innovation Office. “Many people have realized they don’t have as much time as they thought they would. They are looking for convenience when they shop. Dips and sauces offer new ways to keep meals interesting and take them in a new direction.” That bodes well for continued growth in the category. Sauce sales have hit double-digit growth over the last year—Asian sauces are up 19.5%,

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Aisles Sauces by type  52 WEEKS, ENDING AUG. 15, 2020 baking and cooking sauces rose by 20.4%, pizza sauce is up by 29.8%, and pasta sauce sales grew by 17%, according to Nielsen data. Prepared dips are doing well, too, with an overall 5.1% increase; with guacamole, garlic, dill, and herb and spice flavours leading the pack. McCauley says strategic planning will help grocers take advantage of the sauces and dips trend, including introducing their own house brands. Single-serving samples could be distributed by mail, included with flyer bundles delivered to homes, or tucked into bags with a delivery or pick-up order. In-store placement also plays a role—putting an array of baking sauces right next to the chicken section in the meat department could spark impulse purchases and trial, for instance. Consumers are also seeking packaging that offers longer shelf life, and smaller sizes so items don’t sit in the fridge too long and go bad. A trend within the trend is the boom in healthier options. Consumers are hyper-aware of the need to stay well these days, so they’re looking for clean products with more real ingredients and fewer preservatives, as well as plant-based choices. Canadian company Mother Raw has found success across Canada and the United States with its healthier positioned dressings/marinades and dips, including its popular vegan quesos, which can be used as a “cheese” sauce poured over pasta, as a dip or as a spread in wraps. “They are accessible to almost any lifestyle, diet or allergy/sensitivity,” says CEO Kristi Knowles, noting the quesos satisfy cheesy cravings without any dairy or nuts. Mother Raw offers another option to dips that can be highly processed and contain refined canola oil, additives, preservatives, fillers and refined sugars. “We like to say that we are made by nature, not in a lab,” adds Knowles. The company continues to add new products to its roster, including a ranch and a French onion dip. “Along with regular promotional programming in store, our focus on digital media allows us to reach consumers living around retail locations to promote the availability of [our products] at a store near them,” explains Knowles. It also works with retailers on digital programs with sponsored listings on their online stores and customized recipes featuring Mother Raw. Another Canadian sauce success story is La Dee Da Gourmet Sauces, created in Ontario by the “Sauce Queens”—Mary Marino, Jo Anne Torrance and Marlow Italiano. They’ve focused on healthy gourmet sauces with four SKUs, including savoury mushroom basil and butternut squash beet. They credit the versatility of La Dee Da products (the sauces can be used as anything from a soup base to a pizza topper) for the brand’s loyal customer following. The company’s new cauliflower Alfredo sauce is both vegan and keto friendly. In conjunction with retail partners, La Dee 42  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

$ Sales

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Da creates yearly promotion calendars so consumers can take advantage of savings. Big-name brands are also ramping up with new entries. This August, Campbell Company of Canada introduced a sodium-reduced variety of Pace chunky salsa with 30% less salt than the regular offering. The new salsa is also gluten free and has no added sugar. It joins other newcomers to the company’s salsa lineup—a peach mango salsa and a salsa verde brought to market last year—providing customers something beyond standard red salsa. To showcase the salsa’s versatility, new recipe ideas in the digital space provide inspiration for home cooks. “Our salsa and pasta sauce businesses have seen strong growth in demand over the latest six months, led by the Pace and Prego brands,” says Mieka Burns, vice-president, marketing, Campbell Canada. “Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the percentage of meals sourced from home. The fastest growth has come from those meals designated as ‘quick-scratch cooking,’ which take no more than 30 minutes to prepare and contain pre-prepared and homemade components. Salsas and pasta sauces fit well into these occasions.” Tree of Life Canada, which distributes the Mrs. Renfro’s brand, is a big believer in the staying power of the Mexican salsa category. It has remained steady and strong throughout COVID, and Mike Cunningham, the company’s team lead for marketing insights, credits shoppers craving quick and easy snacks and salsa’s ability to pair well with a multitude of other categories (crackers, chips, vegetables, etc.) for those healthy sales. Cunningham cites the 2019 Mintel report Dips and Savoury Spreads Canada that shows Canadians love dips because they add excitement to familiar foods. “In other words, they allow consumers to explore or try new and unique flavours with their favourite

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Aisles Prepared dips by flavour/type  52 WEEKS, ENDING AUG. 15, 2020 $ Sales

$ Vol %



accompaniments (crackers, tortilla chips, etc.).” Chg Vol % Though salsas rule for Mrs. Renfro, founded in 1940, Chg the brand recently added a nacho cheese sauce that 433,251,629.00 5.1 135,081,814.90 7.18 PREPARED DIPS - TOTAL can be served warm over nachos or scooped straight 14,005,520.00 11.6 4,060,046.80 5.46 DILL out of the jar. “The dips and sauces category is usually tied to the 40,782,806.00 6.0 11,560,161.80 4.03 GARLIC success of the salty snack category,” Cunningham 31,374,760.00 8.3 13,816,825.80 7.38 GUACAMOLE explains. “The two segments pair well together, and 9,105,928.00 9.1 2,626,675.00 3.64 we see seasonal spikes and lifts in sales whenever HERB & SPICE key celebrations occur—Christmas and New Year’s, 44,925,396.00 5.2 11,526,155.00 -0.40 ONION Super Bowl weekend, etc. Accordingly, any opportu252,270,107.00 4.9 79,209,690.40 11.51 OTHER nities to co-promote or tie promotions together” are beneficial, he says, such as buy three bags of tortilla 330,565.00 -4.7 38,339.50 -6.50 PICANTE chips and get a free jar of salsa. “[These types of pro24,407,532.00 -0.5 7,476,351.00 -3.85 RANCH motions] really ramp up awareness of the brands and 16,049,015.00 1.1 4,767,569.60 -9.22 VEGETABLE segments and enable consumers to mix and match, or try some unique flavours with their favourite SOURCE: NIELSEN, NATIONAL, ALL CHANNELS, ALL SALES, EXCLUDING N.L. chips, crackers or tortillas.” Since the start of the pandemic, independent customer-specific programs, leveraging its retail team grocer Vince’s Market, with five Ontario locations, to activate displays to drive sales for the brand. has enjoyed robust sales in salsa, guacamole and Some shoppers crave elevated takes on traditional hummus. “Anything that pairs well with chips,” says sauces and dips—comfort food in uncertain times. Sabrina Greco, category manager. Canadian brand In response to a demand for high-quality jarred and Mad Mexican has been a standout performer, thanks fresh tomato sauces, Italian Centre Shop (with three to its all-natural ingredients. “With many locations in Edmonton and one in Calpeople working from home and spendThere’s no gary) created its own house brand, Masing more time indoors, they are naturally rule that simo’s, offering a classic pomodoro and prone to snacking,” she says. “Chips and sauces and an arrabbiata with a zesty kick. For luxudip is a great ‘go-to’ when you need a little dips can’t rious twists, the retailer also sells a truffle something between meals. With a variwander sauce to put an elegant spin when added ety of healthy options available, you don’t into sweet to aioli, and an ajvar (a red pepper spread have to feel guilty about grazing.” territory. from southeastern Europe) to add sophisNext up, expect things to heat up as hot Chocolate tication to paninis, according to general dips that can be popped into a microwave hummus has manager, Gino Marghella. will become a go-to selection. In January, developed Through promotion on social media, Vince’s will be stocking these for shoppers a following, new products and store favourites genlooking for something different in time for displayed erate plenty of buzz. Those with attracSuper Bowl. The retailer will run promoat grocery tive packaging are catching the eye of tions with bundle pricing and encourage stores next consumers and inspiring buying because mix-and-match buying. Knowledgeable to its savoury they can be repurposed once empty: staff will also help support sales. sisters—and “We’ve had customers post pictures on In a time when opportunity to travel is doing well social media of the prettier jars and botlimited, international flavours are bringtles being used as vases for florals and ing a taste of the world to consumers. VH (part of large, colourful cans as plant pots and storage.” Conagra Brands) has seen an uptick across the full And there’s no rule that sauces and dips can’t range of its multi-purpose sauces, including fla- wander into sweet territory. Chocolate hummus has vours like teriyaki, honey garlic and pineapple jerk. developed a following, displayed at grocery stores “With the unique assortment of VH sauces currently next to its savoury sisters—and doing well. At Italian offered, consumers are able to be creative with their Centre Shop, pistachio cream and dulce de leche usage and meals,” says Zora Crowder, marketing serve as dip for chopped fruits, pretzels and cookdirector & grocery team leader, Conagra Brands. ies. Meanwhile, fruity sauces, like the grocer’s new Seizing on the sweet-plus-heat trend, VH is adding Amarena cherry, are expected to be a holiday hit as a a new a lemon herb peri peri sauce to its lineup. “We topping on pancakes, waffles, cake or gelato. are finding that sweet and spicy are emerging flavours Whether sweet or savoury, there’s no question that that consumers are showing interest in to experience dips and sauces are enjoying star treatment at many multi-textural foods,” she says. To build those bigger retailers as consumers continue to look for new ways basket sizes, Conagra partners with grocers to develop to jazz up their snacking and meal occasions. 44  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020


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More Canadians are making coffee at home, providing a strong opportunity for grocers to perk up sales  By Dilia Narduzzi Countless Canadians would agree: there’s nothing better than that first cup of coffee in the morning. In fact, Canadians are drinking 5.5 kg of coffee per capita in 2020, according to Statista, making our coffee consumption the 5th-highest in the world. But, interestingly, our coffee drinking habits are changing as a result of the pandemic. With much of the population working from home more and heading out to coffee shops less, grocery sales for coffee made and consumed at home have grown significantly. In fact, Nielsen data shows an increase of 8.2% for roast and ground coffee, with sales reaching $1.47 billion for the 52 weeks ending Aug. 15, 2020. During the same period, instant coffee sales saw an increase of 19.7% reaching $216 million. “For a change, coffee isn’t happening in a to-go cup, which is completely new to some consumers,” says Jo-Ann McArthur, president and chief strategist at Nourish Food Marketing. As consumers increasingly brew coffee at home, the biggest trend seems to be bags of whole bean and ground coffee, as people are making big pots of coffee in the morning to see them through the workday. There’s been a move from “pods to pots,” says McArthur. Coffee sales are definitely increasing at Colemans outlets in Newfoundland and Labrador, says store manager Bethany Roberts, and local producers appear to be winning. “We’ve seen a big increase in 46  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

people supporting and buying local, in particular when it comes to coffee,” she says. Her store makes sure to stock a good selection from local producers, including Jumping Bean, a premium Newfoundland coffee company started in 2005. Jeff LeDrew, CEO of Jumping Bean, says the company has seen year-over-year growth, including through COVID-19. One of the big winners for the company is bulk ground tins. People want to be stocked up with their favourite brands, he says, and Jumping Bean’s fair-trade, organic, low-carbon coffee hits the eco-conscious segment of the market. In Toronto, “as soon as the pandemic hit, people went back to their staples,” says Ellen Osborne, category manager at Summerhill Market. Osborne found that while people were still willing to spend money on good coffee, they were “sticking with the brands they knew.” Summerhill has seen good sales with brands that have a strong presence in Toronto coffee shops, including Balzac’s. Who should grocers be catering to in the coffee aisle? There are “two different customers” in Canada right now, McArthur says: those who are on tighter budgets and will be buying more affordable brands and private-label offerings, and those who kept their jobs and have more discretionary income than usual due to a lack of travel, sports or kids’ activities. Either way, coffee is often considered

an “affordable indulgence.” This means there are opportunities to upsell, perhaps with slightly more expensive or premium brands, or single-bean roasts (for example, a coffee from the Dominican for those who usually travel there), or packaged Starbucks or Tim Hortons blends for those who miss their favourite cafes, says McArthur. That said, Colemans’ Roberts does see a trend toward the more value-conscious products due to tighter budgets, with customers who are making online orders often requesting that no substitutions be made with higher-priced product. In terms of demographics, it seems just about every group buys coffee. Among adults aged 18 to 79, 70% will purchase coffee in Canada, with older adults leaning to ground coffee and younger adults towards ready-to-drink cold brews or lattes, says Adam Zitney, vice-president of marketing for the J.M. Smucker Company ( the parent company for the Folgers brand). In general, “most consumers dabble in different coffee products depending on their need,” though Zitney notes that historically in tough economic times, “large trusted brands with a long history of value and quality tend to do better.” Folgers has seen “double-digit growth” since the pandemic, he says. Merchandising should be about making it as easy as possible for the coffee consumer, says Zitney, since shoppers want to get in and out quickly these days. “Retailers need a good mix of mainstream and premium offerings in both small and larger sizes” on shelves to meet demand, he says. Make sure the section is always looking full, adds Roberts, and pay attention to customer requests. More local offerings were brought in at Colemans, for example, because customers were asking for them. At Summerhill Market, Osborne says popular shelf-stable plantbased milks are being placed alongside the coffee products, especially oat milks, which go well with coffee. Coffee is certainly among the “important items” on an average customer’s grocery list, especially now. “We haven’t seen category growth like this in quite some time,” says Zitney. This includes the curbside pickup or delivery consumer. “Coffee is a top three food category bought online,” says Zitney, who notes that “ensuring that assortments and promotion work for both bricks and mortar and e-comm will be critical” moving forward.





When the coronavirus pandemic first hit, flour became a wildly in-demand item. “Consumers were stocking up on ingredients like flour over fresh, perishable items,” explains Jane Dummer, registered dietitian and president of Jane Dummer Consulting. “Buying flour in large quantities was to limit grocery store visits.” Consumers in lockdown were baking from scratch to pass the time, which, of course, required a lot of flour. “People were looking for gratifying and comforting activities for all their senses, like baking, to give them a delicious feeling of accomplishment in their home.” According to Dummer, comfort baked goods such as muffins, cookies and cinnamon rolls were popular at this time, along with fresh-baked breads—sourdough, in particular. 48  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

Flour Four things to know 2  ANCIENT GRAINS For more than 30,000 years, flour has been made from grinding or milling grains, using a mortar and pestle in the earliest days and later using animal-powered mills and watermills. Today, flour manufacturers remove the germ layer of wheat before milling to increase its shelf life since the germ layer spoils quickly, and the flour is enriched with additional vitamins and minerals to replace those lost in the germ layer.

3  SUPPLY AND DEMAND The rush in flour-buying at the start of the pandemic took everyone by surprise, including grocers and flour manufacturers. This led to creative solutions, with some grocers portioning out smaller bags from industrialsized packages. The J.M. Smucker Co., which owns the Robin Hood flour brand, had supply challenges with its iconic Robin Hood yellow bag. As a solution, the company temporarily used a generic white bag, informing customers of the change via social media, says J.M. Smucker Canada vice-president and general manager Aurelio Calabretta. With successive waves of the pandemic looming, manufacturers like J.M. Smucker are doing what they can to ensure supplies meet consumer demand. “We have prioritized production of the most in-­ demand products and defined an equitable allocation process across stores and regions to ensure wide availability of our products,” Calabretta explains. Grocers like Ontario’s Vince’s Market are also keeping a close eye on inventory to prevent empty shelves. “To prepare for a second wave and increase in demand, we continue to monitor the inventories of our suppliers on a daily and weekly basis,” explains Vince’s grocery category manager Nigel Oliver. “If we think inventory will be hard to find, we’ll look to order in larger quantities to hold us through. But it’s tough to find a balance between over-ordering and sitting on product for too long.”

Data from Nielsen Canada shows sales of white flour increased by a whopping 45.6% from Aug. 15, 2019 to Aug. 15, 2020, while sales of almond flour increased by 37.9%.

4  FLOUR POWER Alternative flours have been trending since before the pandemic. At the end of 2019, Whole Foods Market named alternative flours—such as teff, cauliflower, banana and tiger nut—as one of its top 10 food trends for 2020. According to Nigel Oliver of Vince’s Market, a younger demographic (aged 20 to 40) is most likely to purchase these kinds of alternative flours. He has also noticed increased interest in local and unbleached flour. “We try to source product

from Ontario first and then look to other parts of Canada as that is what our customers are looking for,” Oliver explains. Grocers are also welcoming products that make use of these alternative flour products, such as protein bars made out of cricket flour or tortilla chips made from tiger nut flour. Gluten-free flours such as coconut flour, and better-for-you flours such as whole wheat, continue to grow in popularity, says Oliver.—Andrea Yu



New on shelf! 1  WALTER CRAFT CAESAR MIX– EXTRA SPICY The makers of Walter Craft Caesar mix are bringing the heat with the latest addition to the lineup. The new Extra Spicy Caesar Mix packs a kick­with its unique blend of ancho, habanero, Tabasco and fire-roasted jalapeno chili peppers. Walter Craft Caesar mixes are proudly made in Canada using only premium, all-natural ingredients.

Aisles The latest products hitting shelves



2  BUDWEISER ZERO Budweiser has launched a non-alcoholic, sugarfree, 50-calorie beer. Though brewed from a brand new recipe, the company says Budweiser Zero has the “full-flavoured, smooth and crisp taste that beer lovers expect from Budweiser.” Budweiser says it launched Budweiser Zero to help meet the demand for non-alcoholic beer and healthier drink options, especially among millennial consumers. 3  GOLDFISH FLAVOUR BLASTED CHEDDAR JACK’D Campbell Company of Canada has added a little oomph to its popular fish-shaped cheese crackers. Manufactured by Campbell’s Pepperidge Farm division, Goldfish Flavour Blasted Cheddar Jack’d crackers have been “blasted” with the bold flavours of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. Baked with real cheese, these crackers are also free from artificial flavours and preservatives. 4  NATREL FINE-FILTERED CREAMS As Canadians increasingly look for foods with simple and recognizable ingredients, Agropur is serving up more options. Under its Natrel brand it has introduced 5% and 10% fine-filtered creams made with only two ingredients: finefiltered milk and cream. These new creams are made with 100% naturally sourced ingredients and are free from antibiotics and artificial growth hormones.


5 4

5  GOOD TO GO SAVOURY NUT & SEED BITES Best known for its Keto Certified soft baked bars, Good To Go is now launching Savoury Nut & Seed Bites across Canada. The new Savoury Bites are available in four flavours: Zesty Pecan, Almond & Sea Salt, Herb & Garlic, and Everything. Made with simple, premium organic ingredients including an assortment of nuts and “super seeds” like sunflower, pumpkin, hemp and chia seeds, these no-sugar-added snacks are also keto friendly.  CG November 2020 ||  CANADIAN GROCER 49

CHECKING OUT ||  George Condon

With heartfelt thanks As I say farewell to a wonderful industry, there are many people I am grateful to have met

If you ever ask anyone leaving the food industry what they will miss the most, they will always say the people. And yes—I, too, will miss the people

As this is my last contribution to Canadian Grocer after 43 years, I must thank the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of grocery industry people I have had the privilege of meeting over those years, many of whom contributed immensely to my knowledge and understanding of this wonderful, yet complicated industry. I could fill dozens of pages with all their names, but instead I will name just a few of the people who had a significant impact on me. Early on, there was Paul Higgins Sr., president of Mother Parkers, who shared much with me as we dined in his pride and joy, the private railcar called The Pacific. Much later there was Eric Claus, president of Co-op Atlantic, who hosted me and some Canadian Grocer colleagues to an overnight stay in a cottage on a New Brunswick lake before taking me on a tour of Co-op Atlantic supermarkets. We stayed in touch when he was appointed president of A&P Canada, followed by his presidency of A&P North America. There was also Alex Campbell, the brilliant independent grocer who was president of Thrifty Foods, who became a friend, particularly after we spent a week together in Paris for the biennial SIAL exhibition. A visit to SIAL also firmed up my friendship with Tommy and Gus Longo, founders of Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc., and with Eric Hellstrom, a true giant of a man in every sense, who was with Pillsbury. Eric even arranged to have Pillsbury in France throw a wonderful five-course dinner party for our entourage. Besides Alex Campbell and the Longo brothers, I was able to befriend dozens of wonderful independent

50  CANADIAN GROCER || November 2020

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


George Condon (centre) receiving the Golden Pencil in 2000, with Loblaw’s David Williams (left) and Mother Parkers’ Paul Higgins Jr. (right)

grocers including Norman Newman, president of Capital Stores, who once took me to his smallest store (I believe it was Oxford Street in Halifax) which was noted for having the highest sales per square foot in Canada. Canada’s discount giant Steve Stavro of Knob Hill Farms also became a friend. His stores were so large they were called food terminals; one even had a rail spur line running into it. He was always welcoming at his office, which was filled with treasures he had collected. Other independents I befriended were Jim Penner of Penner Foods in Steinbach, Man., who also became a member of the provincial legislature; Frank Lovsin of Freson Brothers in Alberta; Frank Coleman of Colemans Food Centre in Newfoundland; and Pierre Lessard of Metro Richelieu, who was always forthcoming in our interviews. At the retail CEO level, there was Fred Kennedy, president of A&P Canada, a true gentleman; Richard Currie, the brilliant leader and visionary who was president of Loblaw Companies Ltd., who met me on several occasions at his office and later invited me to his anniversary/retirement party on the lawn at Spadina House; Tom Bolton and John Toma of Dominion Stores, who invited me for lunch at their head office and then to tour the 1920s fully mocked-up store in the company basement; Frank and David Sobey of Sobeys; and Al Graham, the highly respected CEO of The Oshawa Group—a great source of information and advice, who also proved the grocery industry was a great place for a career, having started in the meat department and worked his way up. (He’s one among many who have done something similar: Darrell Jones, president of SaveOn-Foods, started as a bagger!) Of course, I cannot forget the tremendous leadership provided by women in the industry. Irene Rosenfeld went from CEO of Kraft Foods to CEO of Mondelēz International; then there’s also Louise Wendling, the powerhouse behind Costco Canada; Christi Strauss of General Mills; and this year’s Golden Pencil winner Margaret Hudson, president of Burnbrae Farms. Brokers, too, had a major influence on me, including William M. Dunne, Charlie Trimble, B.K. Sethi and Peter Singer. It’s unfortunate I don’t have the space to name the hundreds of others who I would love to thank, but one group that today deserves all of our thanks is the front-line store workers serving during the pandemic. If you ever ask anyone leaving the food industry what they will miss the most, they will always say the people. And yes—I, too, will miss the people. CG

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CAPTAINS An Industry Leadership Supplement from Canadian Grocer


! W E N *

available in Maxwell House & Nabob

100% Compostable


Made with plant based materials and coffee bean skins.

The same great coffee consumers know and love, now in zero waste* packaging!

COFFEE Coffee is the largest sub-segment of the total beverage category ($1.4B) , and the number one beverage in Canada, even above water2. For over a decade, Canadians have consistently consumed an average of 2.8 cups of coffee per day, with 75% of those cups being consumed at home.2 While coffee consumption has remained flat, coffee dollar sales have consistently grown year-over-year (+4.3% CAGR P5Y); driven by the single serve or “on demand� category.1 The single serve brewer ownership in Canada is 46%3, and in retail, single serve is the second largest coffee segment

with 38% share1. Pods is the largest format in single serve coffee and continues to demonstrate growth at a +8.5% compound annual growth rate (5yr CAGR).4 More than ever, Canadian consumers are concerned about their environmental footprint, particularly of the environmental impact of pods consumption and the plastic waste they are contributing. The #2 barrier of purchase, after price, for single serve pods is waste.5 The opportunity to grow the coffee pods category is by serving this consumer need with compostable coffee pods.


Tassimo $82MM, -20% Pods $433MM, +14%

1% 6%

Roast & Ground $662MM, +13%



On Demand $526MM, +7%

Coffee Association of Canada, 2019 Canadian Coffee Drinking Trends


Coffee Association of Canada, 2018 Canadian Coffee Drinking Trends


Nielsen MarketTrack,, NAT XNFLD GB +DR


IPSOS KHC Study +MM, Sales $ MM, 2019



Instant $197MM, +18% Nespresso $9.9MM, +52%

Nielsen, MarketTrack, National GR+DR+MM, All Coffee, L52 Weeks, Period Ending August, 22 2020




Ground $515MM, +9% Whole Bean $145MM, +22%

Source: Nielsen Market Track, NAT XNFLD GB +DR +MM, Last 52 Weeks, Period Ending August 22 2020

56% of consumers

40% of Canadian adults who drink coffee and/ or tea agree that pods should be compostable.7

actively shop for food with non-plastic packaging6




Mintel, 2019

Compostable pods have 70% lower processing emissions and 85% less petroleum-based plastic vs. recyclable pods8

York University, Technical White Paper exploring end of life management of compostable and plastic coffee pods study by Author Dr. Calvin Lakhan




Pods* are Growing +5% (4 Yr CAGR)

1,600 1,400 1,200 1,000











800 600 400 200 0



Source: Nielsen Market Track, NAT XNFLD GB +DR +MM, Last 52 Weeks, Period Ending August 22 2020






*Pods excluding Tassimo and Nespresso


favourite dressings

Kraft Salad Dressings make Salad Magic.

Renee’s Gourmet Salad Dressings elevate your everyday salad with only fresh tasting ingredients. Available in the produce section at your local grocery store!

Proudly Prepared in Canada

CONDIMENTS Sales of condiments and dressings have seen continuous growth in recent months driven by increased demand with Canadians eating more at home due to COVID 19. Mintel expects the market will lose some of the gains made in 2020 in 2021, but only some of them. Encouraging more use of products both in cooking and with meals remains relevant for brands, particularly during a COVID-19 recession. 1 According to Ipsos, 40% of Canadians report that they are eating healthier to boost their immune systems to add in wellness as a result of the global pandemic. Salads in particular rank in the top 10 for simple and easy prep meal options to be consumed at lunch/dinner occasions at home. As a result, the Dressings category is +13% this year driven by Refrigerated Dressings as consumers shift behaviour towards refrigerated, homemade & premium shelf stable options with “real” ingredients and clean labels.2 Consumers are also spending a bit more time on meal prep with stove top remaining the top appliance but use of BBQ is on the rise up +3%. One of the top items grilled on the BBQ is burgers. Consumers are still adding familiar flavours to their burgers, but also exploring different flavours & textures via toppings & sauces inspired by food service trends & regional preferences.3




19.8 19.3 22.3

20 0


<15 min

15–30 min

Ipsos Path Forward Covid-19 Behaviour Tracker Wave 3 April 30


Ipsos FIVE Monthly Data Period – % Food Occurrences Sourced from Home; Top Grilled Items R’12M Ending April 2020.


Top Items Grilled on BBQ

Feb ‘20

66.9 64.1



Mar ‘20

9.1 7.9

30–45 min

Steak Hamburger Chicken Breast Sausages Hot Dogs Pork Chops

Apr ‘20

2.6 2.4 3.2

1.2 2.3 2.6

45–60 min

60+ min

Sources: Ipsos FIVE Monthly Data Period – % Food Occurrences Sourced from Home; Top Grilled Items R’12M Ending April 2020




Source: Stargazer Review – Ipsos Marketing May 2016


55% 35%

Familiar Flavour



New Flavour

Healthy tension between new and familiar flavours across age cohorts 23%




• Philly is made with REAL milk and cream

• Brand Equity is 10x stronger than the next leading competitor1

• Proudly prepared in Canada • No artificial colours or ingredients • Philly Frosting responds to consumers need for fresh and time saving • Philly Brick delivers on the preferred tasty and creamy texture1

• Philly ranks as the highest against Trust, Quality, Taste & “Good for Baking” vs its leading competitor1 • Philly is the #1 brand household penetration in the category, maintaining 76 $Shr in Cream Cheese2

Cream Cheese 2019 BVC Equity. Nielsen MarketTrack, L52 Weeks, PE 22 August 2020.



CREAM CHEESE Cream Cheese is a mature category ($267MM)1, with a 2-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +7.6%1. The category is made up of three key segments: Soft, Brick, and Whipped cream cheese. Soft cream cheese is the largest segment in dollar sales (57%)1, focusing on the breakfast spreading occasion. Brick is a unique and highly seasonal segment delivering against the baking occasion, while Whipped sees steady growth and focuses on the consumer snacking and entertaining occasion. The Cream Cheese category has been significantly impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, as shopping habits have evolved, and consumers have been spending more dollars per trip in the Refrigerated Dairy category (+113% vs PY)2. Soft Cream cheese continues to increase in LB Sales (+5% vs PY3) as consumers upsize during the pandemic driving larger format growth (+11%3). The Brick segment has seen major spikes (+25%3) as Canadians have been reigniting their baking behaviour during the pandemic. Mintel reports that a second wave of baking is on the horizon as it provides a feeling of comfort during uncertainty, and emotion is a key driver for the 60% of Canadians who enjoy baking4.

$ SALES 300,000,000

Nielsen MarketTrack, National All Channels, L52 Weeks Latest 2 Years, All Sales, Period Ending August 22, 2020.


Nielsen Homescan, National All Channels, TL Tracked Sales, Period Ending June 13, 2020.


Nielsen MarketTrack, National All Channels, LB Sales, L52 Weeks MarchAugust $ Sales, Period Ending August 22, 2020.


Mintel, Butter and Home Baking Will see a Second Holiday Wave, Dasha Shor, August 12, 2020.





250,000,000 200,000,000











100,000,000 50,000,000















Source: Nielsen MarketTrack, National All Sales, Period Ending August 22, 2020.

Source: Nielsen Homescan, National, L52W Period Ending June 20th, 2020 vYA, 2YA




Cumulative LBs Change YTD

1,350,000 900,000 450,000 0




Source: Nielsen MarketTrack, National All Sales, Period Ending August 22, 2020.








Good service. Good insights. And most importantly, good food. Our approach is simple: connect retailers with the foods Canadians are craving, fueled by market trends and delivered with a smile. With one of the highest fill rates in the industry, we keep your shelves stocked and your most profitable customers satisfied.




Tree of Life Canada

FROZEN ENTRÉES Frozen entrées have a come long way from their “tv dinner” reputation and continue to be a familiar staple for Canadians. The Frozen Dinners and Entrées category is worth $1.8B and is growing at +8% in dollars and +3% in unit volume.1 This increase in dollars is driven by innovative, value added brands as well as better-for-you versions of classic frozen items. While frozen entrees have been brought up to date with modern packaging and premium options, its ease of prep continues to be the central appeal. More than ever before, Canadians are prioritizing health and nutrition; manufacturers have been listening. Recognizing health related innovation in the frozen entrée space, 58% of Canadians feel that frozen pre-packaged meals have gotten healthier in recent years.2 Health-related considerations remain important but do vary by age. Sodium content is a greater concern for consumers aged +45 years for example, while organic resonates more so with 18–44 year age group. Even though frozen entrées have improved, consumers continue to demand more. Quality and natural ingredients continue to be desired, while majority of Canadians are prioritizing environmental considerations for their frozen entrées: 84% of Canadians feel that frozen entrée packaging should be recyclable. Key trends that will continue to drive growth in this space include a combination of globally inspired flavours with diet-sensitive variations such as plant based and gluten free, the use of nutrient dense superfoods and, as always, no preservatives or artificial ingredients. Consumers will continue to use frozen entrées as convenient nourishment for their families, exploring new culinary styles now and into the future.




Refrigerated side dishes

30% 25%

Frozen side dishes

“I would eat more if they were less processd.”


Singles-serve refrigerated meals

Base: 2,000 internet users aged 18+

Base: 2,000 internet users aged 18+

Source: Lightspeed/Mintel

Source: Lightspeed/Mintel


Sodium content



Provides full serving of vegetables

28% 18%



Fat content








Fits into a diet







The packaging should recyclable

They should have less packaging

The packaging should be reusable


Base: 1,390 internet users age 18+ who have eaten pre-packaged meals/ side dishes in the pas three months Source: Lightspeed/Mintel

Percentage who agree... Recognizing health-related innovation in the space, over half of Canadians perceive pre-packaged meals to be getting healthier. While attitudes are trending in a positive direction, the perception that pre-packaged meals are processed persist, meaning hurdles remain in terms of positioning the category as a healthy and natural go-to.


40% 21%


“They have gotten healthier in recent years.”


Multi-serve refrigerated meals




Single-serve frozen meals

Multi-serve frozen meals

Nielsen Canada, Category Performance, National All Channels, 52 weeks ending March 28, 2020


Base: 2,000 internet users aged 18+ Source: Lightspeed/Mintel



Good service. Good insights. And most importantly, good food. Our approach is simple: connect retailers with the foods Canadians are craving, fueled by market trends and delivered with a smile. With one of the highest fill rates in the industry, we keep your shelves stocked and your most profitable customers satisfied.




Tree of Life Canada

HEALTH & WELLNESS Healthier products are at the heart of the conversation around convenience foods such as snacking, healthy grab-ngo and meal kits . This is primarily due to the evolving values of consumers who are changing their focus from heavily processed, calorie-laden products to healthier alternatives.1 Transparency is key; consumers want to know where their snacks come from, how they are produced, that they contain no artificial colors and flavors and are focused on simple ingredients that are easy to understand.2 In today’s health-conscious society, consumers are turning to snacks that also contain better-for-you ingredients without sacrificing taste or function. Focus has turned to habitually reading labels and seeking out portable products that are minimally processed with clean ingredients.3 While price is important for Canadians when purchasing snack foods, this does not negate interest in high quality offerings. Among the options presented to consumers, snacks with gourmet

flavours ranked as the top area of interest along with plant-based snacks. 4 Interest in plant-based snacks reflects the broader interest in plant-based foods. A recent study saw 28% of Canadians trying to add more plant-based foods substitutes into (their) diet, which is identical to the 28% of Canadians who also show interest in plant-based snacks.5 Restaurants are also offering innovative options in response to consumers demands for healthy convenience - especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With consumers’ dining and social habits transforming, operators have adapted their businesses to meet these new needs and demands, hoping to gain a competitive edge. As a result, some restaurants are not only offering healthier take out fare but they are also debuting meal kit versions of popular menu items or even items not traditionally on menus. The focus has moved to ensuring customers feel more safe in their food preparation and adding the convenience of home delivery.6


28% 25%

Ethically sourced


Snacks that promote skin health




23% 18%


Snacks that support relaxation


Snacks with cannabis*

Keto snacks

Canadian Food Service Digest – May 2020




Plant-based snacks

Hemp-based snacks

Mintel - Plant Based Food & Drink – Canada, May 2019



Gourmet flavours

Snacks with CBD oil*

Mintel – Snacking Eating Habits, Motivations & Attitudes – May 2020


16% 15%



Women 18–34

Base: 2,000 internet users aged 18+/*1,960 internet users aged 20+

Base: 2,000 internet users aged 18+

Source: Lightspeed/Mintel

Source: Lightspeed/Mintel



Canada’s #1 Deli Cheese Manufacturer!* Arla® is a farmer-owned global dairy company present in Canada since 1960. Animal welfare, the highest milk quality and state of the art production are fundamental to our existence. Our ambition is to be at the forefront of sustainable dairy farming and bring health and inspiration to the world, naturally. In Canada, Arla® imports, manufactures and markets cheese using traditional craftsmanship, only the finest, natural ingredients and rigorous quality controls to provide great tasting cheeses for every occasion!

*Source: Nielsen MarketTrack, All Sales, National GB+DR+MM, YTD PE Aug 8, 2020

NATURAL CHEESE Natural Cheese is extremely versatile and a household favourite for cooking – in fact, and not too surprising, cheese types that consumers usually cook with are driving deli cheese growth year to date. With 97%1 of Canadian households buying cheese and 80%1 of them enjoying cheese that is primarily used for cooking, the deli cheese category has exploded with the increase in cooking at home in 2020 as a result of the COVID pandemic. When shopping for deli cooking cheeses, consumers are more likely to pre plan their purchases than they would with deli specialty cheeses. With a specific meal solution in mind, consumers are also looking to make sure their core needs for assortment are taken care of. Shoppers are motivated by ease of self-navigation. Initially they are looking for cheese type, then brand, price offers and finally an in store price comparison check before finalizing their choice. Deli operators need to ensure that their deli segmentation guides their shoppers to a satisfying purchase, both in store as well as online.

Nielsen Homescan, National Tl Outlet, L52W Period ending Feb 29, 2020



National Brands represent

43 39

38 30 26


24 22







JAN 20

34 30

7 6

5 4

7 6

FEB 20










22 18 13


12 6






31 31 32

30 30



20 19 19 19 19 20 18 18 18 19

23 18



15 14






of the Deli Cooking Cheese category


MAR 20


Cheese used primarily for cooking contributes to



of the Deli Cheese category

MAY 20

JUN 20

JUL 20

AUG 20






Mozzarella Feta Bocconcini

22% 20% 19%


Nielsen Homescan, National Tl Outlet, L52W Period ending Feb 29, 2020


Custom Hierarchy based on Nielsen MarketTrack, All Sales, National GB+DR+MM, Deli Cooking Cheese for the YTD Period Ending Aug 8, 2020

PEANUT BUTTER Peanut Butter is the main driver for consumers shopping the spreads grocery section1, reaching $308 million in annual sales.2 Over the past year, the category has grown in dollar sales +9% and tonnage volume +9%, the result of key brands, strong performance and COVID-19 pantry loading2. Regular (Stabilized) Peanut Butter is the segment with the largest share (80%) of sales in the category, which should be the focus of shelf space and promotions.2 Natural Peanut Butter is the second largest segment.2 In line with the total category, the main subsegments are all growing, including Creamy (+8%), Crunchy (+13%), Dark Roast (+244%) and Light (+4%)2. With a household penetration of 87%, the peanut-based spread continues to be a staple of Canadian pantries.3 Almost 8 out of 10 Peanut Butter consumers eat it weekly or more often with Breakfast and Snacking as the most popular occasions.3 To disrupt auto-pilot shopping behaviour of the Spreads sections, a horizontal planogram layout with Peanut Butter on the lower shelves can result in a +7% Category Development Index and increased Spreads cross-category purchases.4 Retailers should ensure a proper shelf assortment of value and premium Peanut Butter brands to satisfy consumers’ taste preference and cater to different types of Peanut Butter shoppers: Value options for larger households in search of cost-savings products, Premium options for smaller households in search of healthy and quick snack and meal solutions.



L52W 2YA


Erikson Research, 2020

Smucker Foods of Canada, Spreads POG Study 2018, Virtual Reality Qualitative and Quantitative


308 +9%

56,700,264 (+3%)

55,305,549 (-5%)

Nielsen MarketTrack, National All Channels, L52 Period ending Aug 8, 2020


Tonn Vol (KG)

282 +9%

260 -3%

IMI JJM/PB Aisle Review Shopper Intercepts March 2018


61,714,105 (+9%)



Source: Nielsen MarketTrack, National All Channels, L52 Weeks Period ending Aug 8, 2020

20% 80%

Natural PB $61,640,745 +15% Regular PB $246,001,562 +8% Total PB $307,642,310 +9%

Source: Nielsen MarketTrack, National All Channels, L52 Weeks Period ending Aug 8, 2020




248 +8%

100 0

59 +13% Creamy


41 +4% Light

35 +244%

Source: Nielsen MarketTrack, National All Channels, L52 Weeks Period ending Aug 8, 2020


m b



® *

b m

m m



PLANT-BASED In Canada, more than 40% of the population is actively trying to incorporate more plantbased foods into their diets. Their compatibility with vegetarian, vegan and “flexitarian” lifestyles is now putting the spotlight on plant-based protein sources. According to research conducted with online Canadian members of the Angus Reid Forum, close to half (43 per cent) of Canadians indicated to be more likely to make the switch to a more flexitarian lifestyle – a less strict diet when compared to vegetarian or veganism. Indeed, as more consumers think about their health, shifting towards healthier eating habits, while scrutinizing where products come from and how they were produced, the demand for animal-protein alternatives and dairy replacements has rapidly increased. Cultural, health and environmental changes have all combined to create favourable market conditions for the rise of plant-based protein. While the total protein demand will double to 943.5 million metric tons in 2054, the market for alternative proteins, including plant-based proteins, is expected to grow at 14% annually by 2024 — up to a third of the protein market.

MARKET DRIVERS for health reasons


for ethical reasons


for environmental reasons


to save money



Non Dairy Danone 38%


for weight loss

Base: 618 internet users aged 18+ who limit or avoid animal products Source: Lightspeed/Mintel


Competitor #1 27.7% (+0.7%)

$ Share Source: Nielsen Market Track, L52W, Period Ending Sept. 5, 2020

















Competitor #2 4.4% (-0.3%) Competitor #3 2.0% (-0.0%) Competitor #4 1.1% (-0.2%) Other 4.6%

$ Share ($ Shr Chg YA)

Source: Nielsen Market Track, L52W, Period Ending Sept. 5, 2020

Source: Nielsen Homescan Data, Period Ending June 20, 2020


500 mL Bottles

4x200 mL Bottles

8x150 mL Cans


TO ORDER, CONTACT: TFB ASSOCIATES LIMITED 905.940.0889 | 1. Client Calculated Custom Hierarchy based on Nielsen MarketTrack for the periods ended June 20, 2020 and June 22, 2019 2. Nielsen Canada Last 12 Weeks to June 2020

FeverTreeCanada #mixwiththebest

PREMIUM MIXERS Premium Mixers are an exciting and quickly growing category with +57% growth YOY1 to $19.1 million in 2020, driving all-important value and margin back into the beverage category that has become razor thin. The premiumization trend has translated over to the Mixer category as Canadian consumers are mixing premium spirits with high-quality mixers such as tonics, ginger beers, ginger ales, and sodas, to create world-class restaurant quality drinks that are delicious and easy to make at home. Premium Mixers have catapulted to represent 8% of the total mixer value up from 6% in 2019, with retail value growing more than 6 times faster than Mainstream Mixers. There is potential to continue to grow the Premium Mixer segment to match Premium Spirit’s 25% share of the Spirits category. Consumers are eager to treat themselves, so it is critically important that retailers designate premium shelf and display space to a fast-growing category to earn more profit.

$ Sales in millions


Two Nielsen Total Canada Mixer Market Reports, L52W Period Ending June 20, 2020 and L52W Period Ending June 22, 2019



Compound Annual Growth Rate +55% $12.1m $7.9m




Source: Client Calculated Custom Hierarchy based on Nielsen MarketTrack for the periods ended June 20, 2020 and June 22, 2019



Mixers Market $231 million

Premium (and above) +3%


Standard & Value (-3%) 75%


YoY Growth $ Sales

Premium +57%

Standard & Value (+9%) 92%


Source: Client Calculated Custom Hierarchy based on Nielsen MarketTrack for the periods ended June 20, 2020 and June 22, 2019


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Silk’s pioneering range of plant-based beverages, yogurt alternatives and coffee creamers encourages Canadians to make small changes that are good for themselves and the planet. Formats: 8 x 100g & 650g Flavours: Our plant-based beverages, yogurt style and coffee creamers are offered in Almond, Cashew, Coconut, Soy & Oat bases

Formats: 8 x 100g & 650g, 12 x 100g, M8X92ml, 145g, 24 x 100g Flavours: 20+ Also available: Activia Shot, Activia PlantBased, Activia Chia, Activia Source of Fibre, Activia Fat Free, Activia No Added Sugar, Activia Lactose Free & Activia Touch Of

Danone is Canada’s first flavoured yogurt made with 100% natural source ingredients and no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Formats: 8 x 100g & 650g Flavours: Blueberry & Cherry, Strawberry & Vanilla, Peach mango & Raspberry (100g) – Vanilla, Strawberry (650g)

Oikos adds a thick, creamy dose of protein to virtually any recipe, swapping out less healthy ingredients. Formats: 4 x 100g, 650g & 750g Flavours: wide variety Also offered in: 0%, 2%, limited edition, Lactose Free, Triple Zero, High Protein, Pleasure & Organic

Danone Light & Free uses a unique ultrafiltered process to offer more of the protein that builds you up and less of the sugar that can bring you down. Formats: 4 x 95g & 710g Flavours: Mango & Passion Fruit, White Peach & Rapsberry and limited-edition Cucumber, Watermelon & Lime (95g); Vanilla Bean & Apple, Grilled Pineapple (710g)

YOGURT Yogurt in Canada is known as a nutrient dense food, has a household penetration of 90%1 and is the 13th item in Canadians’ grocery list (3rd in dairy). Flexitarianism is on the rise in Canada: 25% of Canadians identify themselves as being Flexitarian - not eating meat some of the time2, and sales of non-dairy yogurts are set to increase year-on-year, now making plant-based a mainstream category. In fact, 36%3 of Canadian consumers purchase both dairy and plant-based products. Consumers are now building a new relationship with food, shifting towards healthier eating habits, while scrutinizing where products come from and how they were produced. In fact, there has been a lot of production innovation in the yogurt category in recent years. Non-dairy yogurts are more accessible than ever and are predominately made from cereal grains and nuts. Plant-based yogurt SKUs have been added to brands’ portfolios, while probiotics and probiotic-containing foods have been growing in popularity over the last several years, and the global market is expected to reach nearly $106 billion by 2025.






Active health Greek Skyr Plant-based Kids Regular Light Organic



Source of calcium


Source of protein


Promoting stronger bones

2.1% 2.2%


6.4% 3.1%











Natural ingredients



Source of vitamin D


Low in sugar

Nielsen – NLR Analysis, January 2020



Help with digestion

Low in calories

Nielsen, Homescan, L52W Period Ending Mar 2, 2019


Source: Nielsen Market Track, NAT + NFLD, GB+DR+MM, 52 week Period Ending Sept 5, 2020


Helps control appetite

Mintel, Plant-Based Food & Drink, Canada, May 2019



Source: Nielsen Homescan Data, Period Ending June 20, 2020

Low in fat

Nielsen Homescan L52W Period Ending June 20th, 2020


18% 15%


Source: Nielsen Homescan Data, Period Ending June 20, 202