March/April 2016

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March / April 2016 Vol 6 | No 2 $9.95

Waites ’ WORLD PM # 42211029

Jim Waites | Overwaitea Food Group

Night to Nurture Gala

+produce MANAGER

w e N

Grocery Business March | April, 2016 Volume 6, Number 2


Jim Waites, Overwaitea Food Group




Front End


People & News

Open Mike Cater to your community


Perspective John Scott’s thoughts on two captivating retailers

76 4

March | April 2016


Launch It, List It


It Figures


Perry’s Point of View

New & now discoveries

Buying behaviour

Taking stock


20 Waites’ World

Jim Waites’ fresh take on produce


76 47

FEATURES 31 Hemp for Health

73 Business Succession

33 Bricks-and-Mortar or

75 Trends with Taste

And four other top trends


35 Stocking the Aisles 36 Lidl Makes Landfall 38 2016 Best New Product Award Winners

It’s a plan!

From Grocery Innovations Canada

Digital Game

52 Van Dyk’s:


Berry Healthy

Night to Nurture Gala

55 Advancing Sustainability 71 BBQ Season

39 Freshpoint Vancouver 49 The Power of Peers 51 Time to Up Your


Spring into summer



March | April 2016


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Front End

Transitions Sobeys Inc. veteran Yves Laverdière (left) is the new president of the Quebec business unit. Laverdière was most recently the senior vice-president, merchandising, for the IGA banner. He replaces Claude Tessier (right), who left the grocer to join Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. as chief financial officer. Loblaw Companies Ltd. has made a number of changes to its senior leadership team. Tina Murrin (left) assumes the role of SVP, Market Division, Grocery & HABA. In the Discount Division, Jocyanne Bourdeau (right) now oversees the merchandising portfolio for corporate stores, in addition to her current responsibilities as EVP, Discount Operations and Promotions. Shaun Halstead is transitioning to the position of SVP, Central Merchandising & Costing COE. Jeff Leger was recently promoted to the position of EVP, pharmacy and health care, for both Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart Stores. Previously, he was SVP Loblaw Pharmacy and pharmaceutical partnerships.

Fred Schaeffer is the new president of Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee Inc. Schaeffer has held several executive positions in the industry, including president of McCain Foods Canada, and president of Kraft Canada. Marc Guay has joined the Metro Inc. board as an independent director, and will serve on the Corporate Governance and Nominating committees. Guay recently retired from PepsiCo Foods Canada Inc. Alan Blundell has joined Lowe’s Canada in the newly created position of divisional vice-president, merchandising. Most recently, Blundell was vice-president of merchandise operations at Walmart Canada. Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada has appointed William (Bill) Schultz as president, following the retirement of John Guarino. Schultz has held a number of senior roles with the company, including president and CEO of Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages India.

NSF-GFTC has appointed Paul Medeiros as managing director of consulting and technical services, North America, and of Canadian Agriculture Certification Services. Medeiros returns to NSF International after serving as the director of quality assurance for Compass Group Canada. Brian Parker, president and CEO of Distribution Canada Inc., has announced his retirement. Parker will remain in his current role until a new president has been hired. The Campbell Company has appointed Greg Shewchuk as senior vice-president, chief marketing and commercial officer of the Americas Simple Meals and Beverages division. Previously, Shewchuk was global head of marketing and chief marketing officer at Mead Johnson Nutrition.

March | April 2016


Front End

RECOGNITION It’s awards season, and two of the Canadian grocery industry’s top companies have been recognized for superior business practices.

OVERWAITEA FOOD GROUP was named one of British Columbia’s Top Employers for 2016 by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. This special designation recognizes the B.C. employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional workplaces. Winners of this award were scored on eight criteria, including health benefits, vacation time, communication, community involvement and skills training.

“ FCC is key to our company

growing.” Meb Gilani, President, Gilani Group Food Processing and Distribution

Let’s talk business Work with the leading lender to agriculture, agribusiness and agri-food in Canada.


AURORA IMPORTING & DISTRIBUTING was recognized as Canada’s Top Importing Company by the Top Choice Awards, an international market research firm. The organization’s annual survey accepts nominations from the public, who vote in a variety of categories for their favourite businesses. This year’s survey was conducted in 26 cities across North America, and received responses from more than 880,000 participants.

Front End Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne

Agents of Change Summit Longo’s spokesperson Rosanne Longo with Kevin Flynn, Ontario Minister of Labour

The inaugural Agents of Change Summit took place in early February as part of The Grocery Foundation’s Toonies for Tummies program. Hosted by the Foundation and the Ontario Student Nutrition Program Network, this first-ofits-kind event brought together 11 student ambassadors – representing student nutrition agencies from across Ontario – with leaders from the consumer goods and retail industries. The Summit explored ways to engage youth on the pressing issue of student nutrition and related awareness building.

What’s on Tap Hot on the heels of its decision to allow the sale of beer in Ontario grocery stores, the province is authorizing a total of 300 independent and large grocers to also sell wine, fruit wine and cider, starting with 70 stores this fall. In February, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement at a Longo’s grocery store in Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood. Earlier in the month, Longo’s unveiled its new “Beer Fridge” section at two Oakville, Ont., grocery stores where it is selling a diverse range of craft beers as well as products from larger breweries. Meanwhile, in Kelowna, B.C., Orchard Plaza Save-On-Foods in February became the first grocery store in the Okanagan to begin selling BC VQA wine since the province amended its liquor laws in early 2014. The Orchard Plaza store is the Langley, B.C.-based chain’s fifth location to carry BC VQA wine in-aisle. The store offers over 900 varieties of wine from more than 150 wineries in the province.

Pictured above, making the opening remarks, is Tom Gunter, executive vice-president and general manager, Fiera Foods, and Grocery Foundation Board member.

In Memoriam

Vernon Dyck

Joseph Brewda Vernon John Dyck of Falcon Lake, Man., passed away at the age of 79 on December 18, 2015. Dyck had a long career in the grocery business, including as a long-time member of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, where he served on the board of directors.

On February 2, 2016, the industry lost a well-known sales veteran with the passing of Joe Brewda, owner of Brewda Food Sales & Marketing. Brewda began his career at Hershey Chocolate in 1969, and over the years, also worked at Cavendish Farms and Catelli Foods, holding a variety of sales and management positions. Brewda launched his own brokerage firm in 1985 and quickly grew it to 15 employees and 10 principals, representing beverage lines such as Fairlee Fruit Juice and Fernbrook Bottled Water. Brewda continued to be active in the food brokerage industry up until his passing in February. March | April 2016


Front End Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation donates $500,000 to hospital In celebration of Longo’s 60th anniversary, the Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation donated $500,000 to a Burlington, Ont., hospital. Last fall, the Longo’s Foundation challenged the community to support the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation through a community gift program. Longo’s committed to match all donations to the hospital’s Our New Era redevelopment campaign, up to $500,000.

Longo family members representing the Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation, along with Longo’s team member and store manager Maria Condello (second from left), presented a cheque to representatives of the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation. P H O T O : C O U RT E S Y O F M E T R O L A N D M E D I A G R O U P


Nourish Your Family with Ours

Nourish Every Body



Open Mike

Cater to your community A cookie-cutter approach to store operations, buying, merchandising and marketing won’t build sustainable customer loyalty in our diverse marketplace. By Michael Marinangeli

Today, the battle for consumers’ dollars is being fought locally. After you have clearly defined your overall value proposition for your store or banner, you must then overlay the tactical programs that cater to the demographics and ethnicity of the community that they serve. There are elements of your offering that will be standard regardless of location. However, time, talent and resources need to be allocated to initiatives tailored to the needs of the neighbourhood surrounding each store. For larger chains, it is almost impossible to manage this segmented marketing approach from head office. Great independent grocers don’t have this challenge. They are entrepreneurial and are actively involved in their communities. They know their customers, and are visible both inside and outside their store. On the other side of the coin, grocery chains’ corporate store managers need to be empowered to influence the assortment, pricing and services that their store provides. Obviously, parameters need to be established so that consistency, standards and accountability are maintained. Managers who are visible in the selling area of the store, and who dialogue with their customers on a regular basis, are most effective. Customers will tell you what you are doing right and what areas require improvement. Suppliers are also a great source of information. They sell to your competitors, and can provide insight on what works and what doesn’t in

competitors’ stores. Regularly visiting your competitors’ stores yourself is extremely important. You need to stay abreast of what they are doing right and capitalize on what they are doing wrong. Your staff plays a role as well. Your department managers are experts in their area of the store, and can provide valuable input. Knowing that they can influence sales and margins by better serving the local clientele is fulfilling and rewarding, and is also good for their morale. We are starting to see new retail concepts emerge from the major retailers across Canada that address the need for market segmentation. Recent examples include: • Save-On-Foods in Surrey, B.C., has opened a 74,000-sq.-ft. store in which half is mainstream groceries and half is foods from around the world. • FreshCo Chalo in Brampton, Ont., caters to South Asian customers. The 50,000-sq.-ft. store is larger than other FreshCo locations to accommodate conventional assortment as well as an extended assortment of South Asian foods and services. • Loblaws Real Canadian Superstore in Mississauga, Ont., incorporates merchandising practices, labels and foods from its two ethnic banners, T&T Foods and Arz Fine Foods.

March | April 2016


Open Mike

Tailoring your store to the trading area goes beyond the realm of ethnic merchandising. Other tactics worth exploring: 1 C ATERING TO SENIORS If your store has a high proportion of seniors, developing programs that cater to their needs, for instance, busing, senior discounts, smaller packages and a broad assortment of health and wellness products will be welcomed. 2 W ELCOME TO THE COMMUNITY Reach out to your new neighbours before your competitors do. Send them a letter introducing yourself and telling them about the attributes of your store. Give them an introductory coupon for a free gift on their first visit. 3 C OMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Get involved in the local community. Sponsor local events, festivals and sports teams. Be visible and show that you give back to the community.

Retailers and manufacturers must invest in winning products and store formats, with closer attention paid to consumer behaviour, lifestyles and needs. We have polarized our stores between conventional and discount. But it’s not that simple. Their overall positioning needs to be flexible to reflect the needs and wants of the communities they serve. Those that succeed in doing so will stand out from the crowd and will be rewarded with a loyal clientele, as well as stronger sales and increased profits. Painting all stores with the same brush is a losing proposition.

Michael Marinangeli is a principal at MIDEB Consulting Inc. and a retailing veteran with more than 40 years of experience. Contact: Michael is a founding member of the Grocery Business Advisory Board.

4 S TORE HOURS Make sure that your hours of operation accommodate the lifestyle and time constraints of working families. 5 S ERVICES Catering, extended HMR programs, pharmacy, baby club, delivery, etc. These are just suggestions. The possibilities are extensive.

March | April 2016 Volume 6, Number 2

Co-Publisher and Executive Editor Karen James 416-561-4744

Co-Publisher and Content Director Kevin Smith 416-569-5005


March | April 2016

Executive Vice-President Content and Market Development Dan Bordun 416-817-5278 Contributing Editors Angela Kryhul, Sally Praskey Contributors Birgit Blain, Michelle W. Book, Perry Caicco, Errol Cerit, Mary Del Ciancio, Mike Furi, Joanna Gibbons, Paul Hamam, Ron Lemaire, Michael Marinangeli, John F.T. Scott, Virginia Zimm

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How Two Stores

Captured this Shopper for Life By John F.T. Scott

Every speaker’s nightmare is to be confronted with an unexpected showstopper question following a successful presentation. And so it happened that, roughly 15 years ago, I was answering queries at an Ottawa venue when an audience member asked, “what makes you such an expert in grocery?” “Well,” I replied, “that’s been my field of focus in economics both during university and through my career.” “But,” she said, wagging her finger, “when was the last time you shopped?” She had me there – I didn’t shop. I just studied shopping patterns and the strategic response of stores. Licking my wounds, I went home and announced, to my spouse’s delight, that, from this point forward, I would be doing all of the grocery shopping for our family. I bravely set forth, with no list in hand, to procure food for a family of five. I had no shortage of stores to visit, as there were several CFIG (Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers) members in the area and it was incumbent on me to sample each offering, as well as to compare with the plethora of corporates. It was a revelation to discover that each of the five people in our home had certain product and quality preferences, all of which I couldn’t find at any one store. So I started to ask questions, and that was the point at which my dedication to shopping in all stores began to significantly change. As I probed, three realities stimulated me to repeatedly turn to two particular stores.

First: every time I posed a question about a product, these stores could produce someone who could explain ingredients, origin and the people behind the food. Second: I learned the difference between an average and a quality product, and how that quality could often be secured for a comparable price. I gravitated to quality and had confidence that in those two stores, it could always be attained. Third, and most important: the more I asked questions in those stores, the more I came to know the people. As time went on, they talked about things in their lives and, in return, I often shared glimpses of my own. Because there was virtually no turnover in either store, these folks became a part of my community, and I began to look forward to my visit with them every week. Eventually, these two stores earned all of my business. We left Unionville, Ont., three years ago, but when I’m in the area, I still pop in and pick up favourite quality products at my two stores – the Village Grocer and Longo’s Markham (Hwy 7 & Woodbine Ave.). I enjoy catching up with my old friends. So that’s it – the achievement of a customer for life based on knowledge, consistency and community. A terrific formula for any store. And yes, in my mind I often thank that audience member for inspiring me to start my shopping experience!

John F.T. Scott speaks, writes and consults on the food distribution sector. He is the author of “Perspectives on the Retail Food Industry,” an itinerant publication that explores various aspects of the industry.

March | April 2016


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J I M W A I T E S ’… FAVOURITE BUSINESS QUOTE “The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.” BEST BUSINESS ADVICE RECEIVED Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it. AWARDS Overwaitea Food Group Leadership Excellence Award, 2012; OFG Business Leader of the Year Award, 2013; Giving Hearts Award nominee (a program that recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations who exemplify the true spirit of philanthropy), 2014. CAREER HIGHLIGHT Attending the Global Food Summit in Paris in 2013. FAMILY Wife Lori Ann, son Justin, daughter Amy Webster. Jim’s passion for his work and his family have often dovetailed, since several members of his immediate and extended family work, or have worked, for OFG. FAVORITE BANDS BTO (Taking Care of Business) and Boston (More Than a Feeling)


WORLD By Sally Praskey

Jim Waites’ roots in the grocery business are deep. Waites began his career at Overwaitea Food Group (OFG) in 1975 by packing groceries and making home deliveries in Kimberley, B.C., using his dad’s old pickup truck. Over the years, Waites eventually worked in virtually every department of the store. “I even ran the till because back then, like today, you do whatever you need to do to look after the customer.” It was during these years that Waites began to develop a keen interest in the produce side of the business, taking on his first role as assistant produce manager in 1979. Since then, his career has followed a steady upward trajectory to his current position as director, produce/floral merchandising, for OFG. “I have truly loved every minute of it,” Waites says. But while produce is a passion for Waites, he says it is only one of three in his life. He cites his close family and his philanthropic work for the British Columbia Children’s Hospital as part of the work/life balance he believes is essential. Impressively, Waites and his team, along with produce industry partners, have raised more than $2 million for the Hospital over the past five years. Waites recently took time from his hectic schedule to share his views on trends, challenges and changes in the produce industry.


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What trends are impacting the produce department? We’re seeing three strong trends: • Organics are surging, especially as people look for healthier options, so we carry an average of 130 organic lines throughout the year. There is also increased demand for super greens – nutrient-dense greens such as kale, Brussels sprouts, chard, wheat grass (living), and spinach – and a greater interest in juicing. • Since many of our consumers are time-starved, the desire for convenient solutions, such as fresh hand-cut fruits and veggies, continues to grow. Locally sourced produce has also become increasingly important. • Ethnic is growing in popularity, and so we often tailor our offering demographically by region or even community. How has produce consumption evolved? People are living healthier lifestyles and are watching what they consume more closely, but convenience is still key. They want us to make it easier for them to prepare healthy meals. Consumers are also trying a variety of produce items that, in the past, they might not have. Is organic still growing at double digits, and is supply keeping up with demand? Yes, it continues to grow at double digits, and I don’t think that, as an industry, we are keeping up with the current demand. Organics account for about 12 per cent of our total produce sales, but we have some stores where it is 25 per cent. How have you seen the industry evolve over the years? Produce wasn’t sourced globally years ago – when strawberries were in season, they were in season; you weren’t able to offer them year-round. Proteins were the centre of the plate, whereas nowadays, produce has earned a more starring role on the dinner plate. Also, you didn’t see convenience products like cut veggies, cut fruit, or bagged salads 40 years ago, or meat alternatives like tofu. And because we weren’t as readily able to source produce globally, ethnic sections were limited.

FRESH ADVICE Jim Waites’ essential guide to produce industry success PASSION People who have a passion for what they do will love to go to work every day.

HYPER-AWARENESS You have to have your finger, not only on the pulse of the local markets, but you also need to know what is happening globally; factors such as weather, trends, taste profiles, etc.

CUSTOMER-CENTRICITY Everything you do should be for the customer; treat your customers like guests.

BENCH STRENGTH Coaching and mentoring team members and retaining good talent are key. This is essential because you need to identify future leaders in order to grow your business.

BALANCE Produce is a very fast-paced and rewarding business to work in, so maintaining a work/life balance is very important.


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“I have spent my entire 41-year career with OFG, because it is a company of team members that go the extra mile for their customers. This deep-rooted culture is the reason our great company was able to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2015.” — Jim Waites

What are the biggest challenges facing the industry? The three main ones that come to mind are: • The declining Canadian dollar, which is affecting price and demand. • Supply issues are becoming more pressing as we deal with many challenging environmental factors such as El Niño. Will we have enough food to feed the planet in 20 years? • GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and the stigma associated with them, is also generating controversy. Are you seeing consumer buying behaviour change in response to higher prices? Yes, we are seeing consumer shopping habits adapt to the new reality. For instance, some customers are adjusting the commodities they traditionally purchase, such as cauliflower and asparagus, and are opting for less expensive vegetables, like cabbage. And, due to high costs and availability challenges, there has been a shift from some fresh commodities to frozen items such as blueberries and strawberries. What distinguishes OFG’s produce offering from its competitors? We are a big supporter of local growers and producers when in season. When local is

available, we’ll switch over. In 2015, I participated in two Canadian Produce Marketing Association Town Hall meetings in Alberta and B.C. to discuss opportunities for local growers and producers to get their products to market. We also tailor our product offerings to the unique demographics in each neighbourhood that we serve. For example, in Richmond, B.C., we cater to Asian customers; in Delta, we cater to the South Asian community; and in Nelson, we cater to our organics-seeking customer. What has been the most rewarding thing about your career in produce? The people I have met over the past 40 years, and the numerous friendships I have made. Also, being able to give back to the local communities we serve by volunteering, fundraising, etc. Did you have a mentor? Jimmy Pattison (owner of The Jim Pattison Group, which owns OFG). He has shown that hard work, integrity and trust are the keys to success in business, and that is what I try to live by every day. When I graduated from school, I wrote in my yearbook that my ambition for the future was “To be president of The Jim Pattison Group.” Everyone has to have a goal to shoot for!

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hen Shirvan Bakhtiari moved to Canada from Kuwait nearly 30 years ago, little

did he know he would become the patriarch of one of Vancouver’s top producers and marketers of that singular, versatile fruit, the tomato. A builder by trade, Shirvan had worked in construction in Kuwait, and continued to do so upon immigrating to Canada in 1988.

Over the next 11 years, Shirvan toiled in construction – travelling between his home and business in Vancouver, B.C., and his construction company in Kuwait. He also bought and sold properties in the Lower Mainland in an effort to stay afloat during an economic downturn that led to a slow period in the local construction industry in the mid-1990s. In the spring of 1997, he and his wife took a quick detour during a vacation in The Netherlands that would result in a new trajectory for their personal and professional lives. While on this trip, they spent a life-changing afternoon visiting a colourful tulip and fruit market. After seeing rows upon rows of bright, fresh fruit, Shirvan was smitten. Inspiration hit: he had a healthy parcel of land full of possibility waiting for him in Delta, a suburb of Vancouver. Upon returning home, and with no experience with greenhouses or commercially growing fruit or vegetables, Shirvan set out to consult with his team of advisors. The consensus? It was possible to begin a greenhouse venture but, in order to initially meet B.C.’s minimum quota for commercial growing, he would need to partner with another local grower. Two years later, in 1999, Millennium Pacific was officially created. The company’s name came

Shirvan and Reza

logically to Shirvan, based on the approaching millennium (and the ubiquitous buzz around Y2K)

Bakhtiari proudly

and Vancouver’s geographical positioning on

displaying their tomatoes

the Pacific Ocean. Of all the abundant choices of greenhouse fruit and vegetables, Shirvan’s decision to grow tomatoes also came very logically. Simply put, “he loves them,” explains his son Reza.

Continued on next page

Shirvan chose the tomato for another reason. He saw this fruit that

By the following year, the company had acquired a wholesale license

sometimes masquerades as a vegetable as the great unifier of cultures,

under a newly formed parent company, Country Fresh Agency, enabling

the kind of produce that threads and connects various cultures and

Millennium Pacific’s tomatoes to be sold directly to grocery stores

ethnicities. And by 2002, Millennium Pacific’s output was so strong and the

throughout British Columbia.

company so self-sufficient that it ventured out on its own – able to meet B.C.’s growth quota for commercial sales. “Everyone eats tomatoes; every culture uses them in cooking or in

Four years later, in 2009, personal tragedy struck in the Bakhtiari home with the sudden death of Reza’s younger brother at the age of 29. At this devastating loss, Shirvan made the decision to scale back his

their cuisine for one thing or another,” Reza adds. “And we only stuck to

involvement in the company and allow Reza to take over much of the

tomatoes because we wanted to focus on growing just one thing, and

day-to-day operations and sales.

growing that thing as perfectly as we could to deliver the best and freshest product possible to our customers – whoever they may be.” In the company’s earliest days, Shirvan and his team had no say on how his product was handled, managed or sold, as it was all done through marketing agencies. Five years later, Reza sat down with his dad one

With the title of vice-president of sales and marketing, Reza’s reach in the company now extends beyond these two roles. He’s also involved with purchasing, operations and any other responsibilities and tasks that may arise on any given day. In 2010, Millennium Pacific took a step beyond its fresh and prized

afternoon to talk strategy. Reza’s goal was for the company to conduct its

tomatoes. After some brief consultations with the Overwaitea Food Group,

own sales, and sell product directly to small and large independent grocers

with whom the company has a strong history, and other top retailers

and retail chains.

across the country, it considered importing some specialty Middle Eastern

“I was tired of us not having any control over how our product was handled and how it was sold,” says Reza. “So I said to my dad, ‘Let’s see if

and Persian foods that were not readily available in the Lower Mainland. “Our relationship with Overwaitea began in 2008, and it has been

we can do our own sales,’ and in this way, I thought we could have more

growing every since,” Reza says. “We knew we could provide them and

control over our destiny.”

other retailers with unique hard-to-find products that their customers would want to buy. All of the retailers were very supportive.”

Millennium Executive Team

A FRESH START AND A GROWING FUTURE And so the company’s import business was born a few years later.

“We’ve recently opened a large warehouse in Markham, Ontario, to

But it was still very much in the Bakhtiari wheelhouse, as many of Reza’s

help us better service our East Coast customers with more imported

aunts, uncles and cousins in the Middle East have been exporting foods to

products,” Reza explains. “Though we only opened this warehouse in

different regions around the world for the past 70 years.

August 2015, we’re already looking forward to working with our

This natural leap to importing foods has led to the company’s current line of products, some of which are from the company’s very own Almas

eastern-based customers, both big and small.” Over the next five years, Reza and his team plan to open two more

brand. As a result, Millennium Pacific now has upwards of 200 imported

warehouses, in New York and Bakersfield, Calif. (roughly two hours north

items on its roster, including Bahraman Saffron, Chika ready-to-eat meals

of Los Angeles). These warehouses will be home to fresh produce and a

and Chokoliva – a unique chocolate, hazelnut and olive spread. The

range of imported Middle Eastern and Persian products to better serve the

company also happens to be the exclusive agent for many of these brands.

company’s partnered retailers and other customers.

While Millennium Pacific currently services some half-dozen grocery

As a modest company started less than 20 years ago with not much

chains and independent grocers throughout Canada, Reza’s plans for the

more than a parcel of land and a few hearty plans and plants, Millennium

future include both eastern and southern expansions.

Pacific has grown steadily to become a local powerhouse known for providing superior produce and quality products at every turn. For this, Reza is quick to acknowledge the many contributions of his executive team. “We couldn’t do what we do without our people – like Theo, who works in the greenhouses and has more than 25 years of experience; or Afshin, our assistant grower; Ali in our sales department; Vali, who leads our operations; and Moe, who’s in charge of all the imported products, including documents, programs and all the promotions,” Reza adds. “It’s through the hard work and support of everyone here that we have grown… and will continue to grow.”

Your Global Flavour Headquarters

Hemp for Health

and 4 other top trends

Michelle W. Book is the director of communications at the Canadian Health Food Association By Michelle W. Book

In consultation with experts from across the country, the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) identified the top five natural health trends of 2016. These trends allow retailers to identify, anticipate and, ultimately, stock their shelves to accommodate the increasing demand for these products


Hemp for health. Canadians can find hemp as a raw seed, ground into flour, sprouted, as hemp milk or juice, in lip balm, as a protein or fibre supplement, and in other products, including clothing and paper. Hemp is also a great vegan protein alternative for those with nut allergies. Studies show that hemp offers the ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids and is another way to stay heart healthy. Canada has a thriving hemp industry, so not only are many products Canadian-grown, they’re also easily available.

2. Fibre is the new protein. In 2016, all the experts will be buzzing about the next big health craze – fibre. We all know fibre is good for digestive and intestinal health but, in certain cases, an increase in fibre intake can help maintain weight better than a restrictive diet plan. It also boasts heart-health benefits and has been shown to lower cholesterol. Canadians will be learning more about the benefits of fibre and making the switch to a high-fibre diet.

3. Sea vegetables can help reduce sodium intake while supporting thyroid health, as these unique vegetables are rich in naturally occurring iodine. Iodine is a key player in regulating metabolism, weight control and energy levels. More and more people are turning to sea vegetables to help sustain the environment, as well as a healthy lifestyle.


New sweets and savouries with a health kick. In 2016, Canadians will be ditching traditional potato chips and looking to get their crunch on with bean, lentil and root veggie chips. We will also find new ways to satisfy our sweet tooth with natural health food stores brimming with sweet snacks that pack a healthy punch, from dark cocoa, to gummies and tea pops.


New applications for Vitamin C. Vitamin C supplements can help with the duration and severity of our cold symptoms, but it can also be used in skincare. Creams rich in vitamin C have the ability to protect the skin from sun damage and promote cell renewal and skin turnover. Lesser-known winter veggies like squash and Brussels sprouts are loaded with vitamin C. We will see increasing demand for these products as Canadians’ desire to achieve a healthy, balanced lifestyle is becoming more important. The demand is there – is the supply?

March | April 2016


Advertising in


was the natural choice. Ken Berger Canadian Sales Manager, Natural Delights Medjool Dates

“ We’ve been advertising in the magazine and using the Grocery Business e-mail program for less than a year, but the results have been stellar. Each time one of our ads or e-mail announcements comes out, I’m contacted by retailers and wholesalers interested in learning about our newest products.”

Natural Delights Medjool Dates offer a caramel-like taste and chewy texture, amazing versatility and lots of antioxidants. The biggest and sweetest of the date family, they are grown in the Bard Valley in the southwestern U.S. and are available in 40 different skus. Visit

BRICKS-AND-MORTAR OR DIGITAL? You can’t have one without the other By Errol Cerit

Building your brand through various channels continues to be a critical theme for retailers and CPG companies, as many experts expressed at this year’s Food & Consumer Products of Canada Digital Insights event. Yes, digital is an investment, but it can increase sales, provide more engagement and improve customer loyalty and satisfaction, as conference highlights prove:


43% of customers have used their mobile phone while shopping at retail Source: Marc Saltzman

“For Canadian Tire, bricks-and-mortar is not dead. We continue to add square footage every year.” Davies showed the audience how Canadian Tire is reshaping retail with its fully digital and interactive showcase store in Edmonton. By creating a digital playground and delivering experiences that online cannot provide, they prove the physical store is here to stay. Micheline Davies, vice-president, store design and merchandising, Canadian Tire

“Technology is transforming both the retail and online shopping experience – the two are coming together. We need to rally behind the customer and cater to how they like to research, shop and experience the purchasing process. Today’s global consumer is an omnishopper: eight out of 10 consumers use a computer, phone, tablet or in-store technology when shopping.” Marc Saltzman, broadcast technology expert in consumer electronics

“The compounded annual growth rate for online purchases in Canada over the next four years is estimated at over 10 per cent, compared to just over three per cent for brick-and-mortar purchases.” Robin Sherk, director of retail insights, Kantar Retail

Key Takeaway Customers want a seamless experience with your brand, whether they are shopping online from a computer or mobile device, by phone, in-store, or through a combination of these channels. Omni-channel is about closing the sale on the buyer’s terms, offering the touchpoints they want so that you own these important relationships with your customers.

Errol Cerit Vice-president, Industry Affairs Food & Consumer Products of Canada

March | April 2016


Our 65+ members follow the OCB Brewing Philosophy. Which means that our over 350 beers are naturally brewed in small batches using no chemical additives, ďŹ llers or preservatives. That means your customers get fresh, great-tasting beer from real people that are passionate about their craft.

REAL PEOPLE. REAL CRAFT BEER. Please enjoy our products responsibly.



Few things are more annoying for shoppers – and costly for grocers – than empty shelves. Out of stocks cost retailers four per cent of annual sales, according to Panasonic System Communications Co. of North America. Enter two cutting-edge technologies designed to alert staff when shelves are running low on inventory. Panasonic’s Powershelf Smart Retail Labels combine batteryfree, wirelessly powered electronic shelf labels (ESLs) with out-of-stock sensor technology, as well as beacon-activated mobile advertising capability and price-management software. Weight sensors in the ESLs immediately detect out of stocks and notify store personnel in real time. The system can be installed on existing shelving units. Whole Foods Market in the U.S. has rolled out the technology in 40 stores to date, while Giant Eagle is testing it in four stores, says Dayna Bernard, chief of staff, Compass Marketing, Inc. One large retailer in Canada, as yet unidentified, is also planning to implement the technology. Also policing the aisles for out of stocks is the industry’s answer to RoboCop – the Tally robot from San Franciscobased Simbe. Billed as the world’s first robotic autonomous shelf auditing and analytics solution, 38-inch-tall Tally rolls

The Tally robot

through the aisles, capturing high-resolution images of product labels as it passes by. It records which items are out of stock, low in stock, or incorrectly placed, compared with the store’s planogram. Tally then returns to its charging dock, and the information it has gathered is fed to staff who use it to restock and reorder. The company is renting out Tally for a monthly fee, claiming it is cheaper and faster than using human employees to carry out the repetitive task of taking inventory. According to company officials, the robot can capture data on 15,000 to 20,000 products an hour, and could scan a small grocery store in 30 to 40 minutes.

March | April 2016



LIDL FACTS HEAD OFFICE Neckarsulm, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany OWNERSHIP Schwarz-Gruppe, which is privately held by billionaire Dieter Schwarz, ranked by Forbes as the world’s 24th wealthiest person. SALES US$88.3 billion PRODUCTS Mix of branded and well-regarded private label MAIN COMPETITOR Aldi


March | April 2016

Back in 2003, executives from German deep discounter Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG undertook a reconnaissance mission to Canada, going so far as to set up a head office in Mississauga, Ont., and recruit employees. According to reports at the time, the retailer planned to eventually grow to 200 stores. But a scant few months later, it quietly pulled up stakes, likely spooked by intense domestic competition and a lack of suitable real estate. Now, a dozen years later, Lidl is crossing the pond again, this time to the U.S., where it intends to begin opening stores in 2018. Grocery Business examines the Lidl deep-discount model – which has proven highly successful across Europe and beyond – and weighs the feasibility of future entry into Canada. WHAT IS LIDL? Founded as a grocery wholesaler in Germany in the 1930s, Lidl opened its first stores in 1973. During the 1990s, it expanded beyond Germany, and now operates more than 10,000 outlets, with estimated global revenue of approximately € 63 billion (C$124 billion). WHAT DIFFERENTIATES IT FROM OTHER DISCOUNTERS? As a deep discounter, Lidl focuses on low prices, limited selection (maximum 2,500 SKUs) of both private-label and national brands – including non-food items – and convenient locations. The chain also strongly supports local products. In a typical Lidl store, products are stacked on removable pallets for easy restocking. Recently, however, the retailer began to open new-concept stores, featuring bakeries, wider aisles, restrooms and baby-changing facilities, among other amenities. The revamped format is designed to appeal to a more upscale clientele, but has led some to charge that the stores are becoming more of a supermarket and less of a discounter. In Germany, the retailer recently purchased a fresh food delivery start-up, adding yet another dimension to its offerings.

WHAT ARE LIDL’S PLANS FOR THE U.S.? Lidl is expected to open some 50 stores in the U.S. in 2018. Headquartered in Arlington, Va., it plans to build 36,000-sq.-ft. standalone stores in eight East Coast states between New Jersey and Georgia. Future launches will reflect the chain’s recent evolution to more attractive stores, while maintaining its discount formula of a smaller product range at lower prices. It will go head-to-head with its no-frills competitor, Aldi, which has been in the U.S. for 40 years and has over 1,000 stores. Lidl recently launched a website detailing real-estate criteria and guidelines for potential suppliers in the U.S. COULD CANADA BE NEXT? As the Canadian discounters inch closer to the conventional supermarkets in pricing, selection and promotion, some believe there is room for a hard discounter like Lidl or Aldi to move in, especially with more square footage now available due to store closings. While Canadian discounters originally began, like Lidl, with limited SKUs, they have since added more items and become more promotional, notes Michael Marinangeli, a principal at MIDEB Consulting Inc. “They are not as much everyday low price (EDLP) anymore,” he says. Perry Caicco, former managing director at CIBC World Markets, agrees. “The price gap between discount and conventional has shrunk over the past five years,” he says in the company’s recent report Glory Days. “Discount stores have added SKUs,

categories, premium private labels, ambience and loyalty programs. This has boosted the average ticket at discount stores, but at the expense of traffic.” As a result of this evolution, “I think there’s a tremendous opportunity in Canada,” says Marinangeli. “They don’t have to try to be a national player like Target did. Pick one market and do a good job.” HOW LIKELY IS IT THAT LIDL WILL COME TO CANADA? “We believe that one or both of Aldi or Lidl will enter Canada in the next two or three years, and possibly sooner,” says Caicco. “Given the damage they have done to grocers in the U.K. and Australia, this is of prime concern. However, starting from scratch, and with small stores, it would probably take them five to seven years to even dent the productivity of existing players.” WOULD THEY SUCCEED IN CANADA? It’s entirely possible, given the developments in Canadian discount retailing since Lidl’s last foray into this country. “It only makes sense that if you have 10,000 stores and you’re successful, wouldn’t you be successful in Canada?” asks Marinangeli. “The concept is portable; it works. And there’s nothing like that in Canada.” EDLP makes inventory patterns much more predictable, as it eliminates spikes, he adds. “It’s very cost-efficient. [Deep discounters] carry fewer items, have lower costs and wield more clout with suppliers. I think they could come in here and make some noise.”

Who is the discount shopper?





What is the discount shopper looking for?

52% Lowest everyday prices

44% Close proximity to home

31% 25%

One-stop shopping

Brand name items on sale

Source: BrandSpark, Canadian Shopper Study


Have one or more children living at home with them

Have no children living at home with them

50+ years old Source: BrandSpark, Canadian Shopper Study

March | April 2016


Best New Product Awards


To the 2016 Best New Product Award winners! Now in its 13th year, the BrandSpark Canadian Shopper Study provides comprehensive insights about Canadians’ habits when they shop for everyday consumer packaged goods. More than 39,000 Canadians participated in the 2016 study, and the results are used to determine the winners of the Best New Product Awards (BNPAs).

2016 BEST NEW PRODUCT WINNERS FOOD & BEVERAGE CATEGORIES »» Strongbow Apple Ciders Gold »» Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce »» Duncan Hines Strawberry Flavoured Cupcake Mix »» Villaggio Toscana Extra Soft Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns »» Werther’s Original Soft Crème Caramels »» Unico No Salt Added Red Kidney Beans »» Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Cinnamon Cereal »» Laughing Cow White Cheddar »» Snack Twix Bites »» Farmer’s Garden by Vlasic »» Bertolli 100% Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil Spray »» Dairyland Cottage Cheese combo »» Maple Lodge Naturally From The Farm Chicken Bacon Style Hickory Smoked »» Marie Callender’s Three Meat Lasagna »» Casa di Mama Bacon »» Magnum Double Peanut Butter Ice Cream Bar »» Chapman’s Premium Maple Walnut Ice Cream »» Simply Orange with Coconut Water »» Old El Paso Tortilla Bowl »» Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains Pasta »» Stiegl-Radler Grapefruit »» Deli Naturally! »» Triscuit Balsamic Vinegar and Basil Crackers »» Nature Valley Nut & Seed Crisps »» Philadelphia Jalapeno Cream Cheese »» Philadelphia Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Cream Cheese 38

March | April 2016

»» Pure Leaf Real Brewed Tea »» Hunt’s ‘Reseal & Reuse’ Tomato Sauce with No Salt Added »» Astro Athentikos Greek Yogourt HEALTH & BEAUTY CATEGORIES »» Reach Complete Care Triple Angle Pro Toothbrush »» Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion Sheer Hydration »» Dove Purely Pampering Shea Body Wash »» Trojan Studded Bareskin Lubricated Condoms »» Freeman Charcoal & Black Sugar Mud Mask »» Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Eventone Tone Correcting Face Oil »» Bioré Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser »» Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes Pink Grapefruit »» Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream »» Amopé Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File with Diamond Crystals »» Revlon Photoready Insta-Fix Makeup »» Vidal Sassoon Salonist Hair Colour »» Nexxus Humectress Encapsulate Serum »» Veet Natural Inspirations Hair Removal Cream »» John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Salt Spray »» John Frieda Luxurious Volume 7 Day Volume In-Shower Treatment »» Burt’s Bees Lip Crayon »» CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom Mascara by LashBlast »» Gillette Power Beads Power Rush Antiperspirant/Deodorant

»» Dove Men+Care Deep Clean + Face Scrub »» Trojan Lubricants H20 Closer »» Centrum Prenatal + DHA Now Easy to Swallow »» Head & Shoulders Full & Strong Shampoo »» Vitafusion SleepWell »» Crest Complete Whitening + Scope Minty Fresh »» Rub A535 NightTime Balm »» TUMS Chewies Orange Rush »» Vitafusion Men’s and Women’s MultiVitamin Gummies »» Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant »» Gillette Venus Swirl Razor HOUSEHOLD CARE CATEGORIES »» Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter »» Milk Bone Brushing Chews »» SodaStream Source »» Resolve Gold Oxi-Action Laundry Stain Remover »» Pyrex 4-Lock Food Storage Containers »» Scrubbing Bubbles Mega Shower Foamer with Ultra Cling »» Charmin Ultra Soft »» Purex PowerShot Detergent »» Scrubbing Bubbles One Step Toilet Bowl Cleaner KIDS & BABY CATEGORIES »» Benylin For Children All-In-One Cold and Fever Nightime Syrup »» Spinbrush Kids My Little Pony Battery Toothbrush »» Bear Paws Dipped »» Minions Minigo Drinkable Yogurt


years 80 & COUNTING



years 80 & COUNTING

Freshpoint employee — Jorgia Maata

By Mary Del Ciancio

It was 1936 when three brothers launched a small produce distribution company in Vancouver called Pacific Produce. The idea was simply to bring fresh produce to local retailers and provide jobs for local workers. Their vision took off and, as time went on, the company grew — significantly. Today, that company is Freshpoint Vancouver, a division of North America’s largest fresh produce distributor. Eighty years have passed since the company’s birth, and much has changed in the produce industry. Customers are demanding greater selection, and prices have soared. Food safety, too, has become critical. But the company has adapted

to every change, broadening its selection and adopting strict food-safety standards. As the organization evolved, it grew. In an effort to respond to increased demand, Freshpoint Vancouver spawned other divisions and opened additional facilities, which now make up Freshpoint Canada — a head office, wholesale division and foodservice division in Vancouver, a wholesale division in Nanaimo, and FreshCuts processing plants in Richmond, B.C., and Vaughan, Ont. The organization has gone from 17 employees when it launched in 1936 to more than 650 today as Freshpoint Canada. Though the company has had several owners in its lifetime, it was acquired by Sysco, the number one foodservice distributor in the world, in 2000, and remains a wholly owned subsidiary today. These days, Freshpoint Canada offers a wide selection of locally and globally sourced fresh produce, from basics to exotics, and local to organic. Its growing list of customers includes small, independent retailers, retail chains, hotels, restaurants, schools, retirement homes and cruise ships. So what’s the secret to the company’s longevity? The answer is simple, says Bryan Uyesugi, president of Freshpoint Vancouver, and regional vice-president of Freshpoint Canada. “It’s the people.”

Freshpoint employee — Mary Chan

Looking Back


Henry Sung family MARCOPOLO 1977


A company, particularly one in the competitive produce industry, can’t experience such sustained growth without a strong team behind it — one that values quality, integrity, open communication, and customer and vendor relationships. Henry Sung, one of Pacific Produce’s original owners, led the company for many years and helped build that team, which also included his two sons, Randy and Gerry. Both Randy and Gerry played an instrumental role in the business when their father became ill and passed away. Randy took over as president until he suddenly passed away in 2001, while Gerry worked in the purchasing department and then as vice-president until his retirement. Uyesugi leads that team today, and understands what it takes to achieve success in the produce industry. After all, he’s been in it for 45 years. In fact, it was Henry Sung who hired him back in 1970. Working his way through the ranks alongside the Sung family, Uyesugi has seen first-hand how the company has evolved. And, more importantly, he understands what it takes to perpetuate its success’.” It’s not about being the cheapest, because Freshpoint is not the lowestpriced option, he admits. It’s about quality, reliability and building strong relationships. And that starts with the employees. Each of Freshpoint Canada’s 650-plus employees plays a role in the company’s success. The company has earned a

Picture from 1986 featuring (from left to right): Gerry Sung, Randy Sung, Quon Sung (Mrs. Henry Sung), Lorraine Sung, Cindy Sung, Linda Sung (Mrs. Gerry Sung)

Henry Sung cutting watermelon at one of the infamous Pacific Produce summer picnics

Pacific Produce Chinese banquet MARCOPOLO 1977

Pacific Produce

Aldergrove, BC, Canada

To learn more about Sunkist, visit Sunkist is a registered trademark of Sunkist Growers Inc., USA. Š2016

Congratulations on your

80th Anniversary

Thank you for the many decades you have supported locally grown produce

80 years



Meet Freshpoint’s

Freshpoint employee — Milagros Gaspar


NO “I” IN TEAM reputation for treating its employees well, which is why 54 of them have been with Freshpoint Canada for 25 years or more. The company offers a good benefits program, a pension plan, an employee-of-the-month program, and various other incentives. The executive team is easily accessible, and keeps the lines of communication open, regularly updating employees on how the company is doing and where it’s going. The result: When you have happy employees, you have happy customers. “I was talking to a customer the other day and he said...‘What I like about you is that when your drivers come to me, they’re always happy. They’re smiling. When I talk to your salesmen, they’re cheerful and they’re happy to talk to me’,” Uyesugi explains. “I keep preaching to everybody that will listen to me that this is what we have to do. We have to make this a place where people want to come to buy.” And, he adds, employees must stick to their word. “We do what we say we’re going to do, and that’s important to us,” says Uyesugi. “I tell my customers, ‘You’ve got all these different produce houses up and down the street you can buy from, but I’m hoping you deal with me can rely on me day in, day out to know that your success is our success’.” But it’s not just about the customers and the employees. The vendors play a huge role in the company’s success, too. That’s a value that’s been passed down from Henry Sung, who told Uyesugi that vendors should be treated no differently than customers — with respect and a strong sense of fairness. He also emphasized that purchasing is the “heart and soul” of an organization, and that “you only sell as good as you buy.” “Those words stay with me every day,” says Uyesugi. “And that’s what keeps me understanding what we have to do to be successful.”



Bryan Uyesugi has been with Freshpoint Vancouver for more than 45 years, longer than anyone else currently with the company. Today he is the president of Freshpoint Vancouver, and regional vice-president for Freshpoint Canada, but he held a much different role when he was first hired back in 1970. “I was the janitor,” he says. Uyesugi was 17 and a recent high-school graduate when he took to the streets of Vancouver in search of a job. “I walked probably about eight blocks and I came across the company Pacific Produce,” he explains. “I walked in and I asked the man there if I could have a job. And it just so happened to be the owner of the company who was standing on the dock at the time. He handed me a broom and said, ‘You can start now’.” Through the years, Uyesugi held many roles and responsibilities. He picked orders, loaded and unloaded trailers, and even drove the delivery truck. He was assistant day shipper, he ran the night shift, and was day shipper before being promoted to sales. After that, Uyesugi moved on to the purchasing department, and excelled in that role before he was promoted to president of Freshpoint Vancouver in 2002, and regional vice-president of Freshpoint Canada in 2011.

March | April 2016


Congratulations on 80 years from your friends at Mountain View Fruit 100 95 75

25 5 0


Happy 80th Anniversary, FreshPoint!

from your friends at Sysco Dole is a proud supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to FreshPoint Vancouver. DOLE AND RELATED MARKS ARE TRADEMARKS OF DOLE FOOD COMPANY, INC.

80 years



a closer look

A “FORWARD LOOKING” COMPANY Freshpoint Vancouver’s strategy has always been to know its marketplace, and to identify what’s next in terms of trends and product lines. It’s this “forward looking” approach that’s helped the company evolve along with the industry as it grew into Freshpoint Canada. “In an industry like food, any longevity that you have is amazing, because food changes so quickly, and what people want, and the cost of it, changes so quickly,” says Colleen Goto, the company’s vice-president of sales and marketing. Goto has been with the company for 25 years, and says it used to be that a cherry tomato was exotic. But now Freshpoint is outsourcing products like dragon fruit and salsify because that’s what customers want. And that’s largely due to the increasing popularity of cooking shows and the advent of the Food Network, she says. “The Food Network now makes it that almost every consumer is an expert,” Goto explains. “People are [asking], ‘I saw this on Food Network; do you have this?’, or ‘I’m looking for fresh turmeric. I saw it in a recipe. Do you have that’?” To keep on top of the latest trends, Goto and her team do extensive online research, and follow social media. In addition, they travel, watch the Food Network, and read new cookbooks and magazines. Another source they watch for produce trends is restaurants, which are constantly challenged to update their menus. “In order for us to stay in this game, to stay ahead of everything and to be around for another 80 years,” says Goto, “we just have to make sure that we stay relevant.”

Freshpoint Canada, based in Vancouver, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sysco, the number one foodservice distributor in the world. It’s one of 27 Freshpoint companies in North America, with five operating facilities in British Columbia and Ontario. The foodservice division in Vancouver services major hotels, white tablecloth restaurants, schools, the University of British Columbia, and retirement homes in the greater Vancouver area and Whistler. It provides fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh-cut product, as well as specialty produce items, to its customers. The FreshCuts division in Richmond, B.C., and Vaughan, Ont., services several major retail chains across Canada, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, White Spot and Costco. Its products include coleslaw, mixed salads, hand-cut fries, cut vegetables, sliced onions and tomatoes. This division also services many independent hotels and restaurant chains through Sysco Canada and the Freshpoint foodservice division. The wholesale division supplies a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that it sources globally to its customers across British Columbia, including smaller, independent retailers, wholesalers, and cruise ships in season, as well as the Sysco operating companies in Western Canada. This division is based in Vancouver, with another facility in Nanaimo.



80 years


FUTURE GROWTH Freshpoint Canada’s most significant growth has occurred since 2004, and has come through support from Sysco and its core group of retail and foodservice businesses in British Columbia. The company plans to cultivate this growth, and look for new opportunities at the same time. Over the next 80 years, Freshpoint Canada intends to uphold the values that brought it to where it is today — being customer-serviceoriented, quality-oriented and value-conscious. “Everybody here is part of that,” says Uyesugi. “Everybody should get the credit for where we are today. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Did you know? In its early days, Pacific Produce was a support system for major chains like IGA, Safeway, Super Valu and Woodwards. At one time, it added import and export services to its roster, and even had its own chain of retail stores. But in the end, the company dropped its import/export services and sold off its retail stores to focus on what it does best — distribute fresh produce to customers, and offer value-added services. Freshpoint employee — Fred Xie

Snoboy celebrating over 90 years



Amerifresh & Snoboy want to congratulate Freshpoint Vancouver on your 80th Anniversary

March | April 2016


Produce Manager

THE POWER OF PEERS Ron Lemaire President, Canadian Produce Marketing Association

We are well into 2016 and already we have dealt with the impact of Mother Nature on supply, and a weakening Canadian dollar that has created a rollercoaster ride for many produce prices across Canada. During times like this, I am regularly asked two questions: “What can we do as a sector?” and “what can we do to adequately respond to consumer questions and concerns?” The first is easy to address by ensuring you have built a strong relationship with your trading partners, maintain open communications through the supply chain and adjust supply location if possible. The consumer question is more difficult, as we have cultivated Canadian consumers to expect a year-round supply of fresh produce at affordable prices. To inform such a large group requires multiple communication channels, such as flyers, in-store and social media, the latter being the most difficult channel to penetrate. Engagement in social media is crucial, however, because conversations in that space can either fuel consumer concerns or address them. So, how best to reach Millennials, who are so attuned to the food they consume? How can our sector adapt as our social media space transfers consumer influence from the “power of one” to the “power of peers?” And how does the produce industry become a positive part of the more private peer conversations? Through our Half Your Plate program, our goal is to start discussions within peer groups about the ease of adding more fruits and vegetables. We are accomplishing this goal by working with bloggers and influencers to create recipes and tools to facilitate online engagement.

There is no counting, portioning or worrying – we instead simply encourage consumers to fill half their plate with produce at every meal as a first step towards better health. This key message is bolstered with a visually simple logo that appears in retail stores across Canada and on certain produce packaging. By reinforcing a clear message, our goal is to increase consumption without asking consumers to dramatically change their lifestyle. More information on the program is available at So, as 2016 begins with a rollercoaster ride, the produce industry continues to grow, adapt and change to meet consumer needs and demands. We also continue to educate around the diverse range of products available within the produce department and how best to store, prepare and consume them. The ability to enjoy a year-round global supply of fresh fruit and vegetables may fluctuate from time to time, but overall there is always a range of items that consumers can purchase to satisfy both their budget and their taste buds. After all, if customers are willing to spend $5 on a specialty coffee, why not spend the same amount on a favourite fruit or vegetable that will not only taste great but also contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Think about it!

March | April 2016


Produce Manager

ATTENTION PRODUCE MANAGERS AND STORE OWNERS! Canadian Produce Marketing Association board chair Mike Furi, of The Grocery People, invites you to attend the Retail Produce Manager and Store Owner session at CPMA’s April, 2016, Calgary show and conference. Mike Furi

Wednesday, April 13 & Thursday, April 14, 2016 at the BMO Centre.


The event includes: • Free educational seminars • Lunch • Access to the trade show

Grow stronger in 2016! Join us in Calgary for Canada’s largest event dedicated to the fruit and vegetable industry. The Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s 91st Annual Convention and Trade Show provides a unique and effective forum for industry professionals to develop and leverage business opportunities in Canada and globally. Tuesday, April 12 to Thursday, April 14, 2016 BMO Centre, Stampede Park Calgary, Alberta


March | April 2016


Besides the educational components, produce managers and store owners attending will have the opportunity to network, meet with key suppliers and learn about new products. The morning educational session will focus on produce commodity groups like bananas, celery and leafy greens, hothouse and exotics. In addition to the Calgary sessions, the CPMA has responded to member requests for industry training, Furi says, by facilitating the development of other cost-effective training programs and a set of comprehensive educational tools. This includes monthly podcasts, webinars, a Produce Basic Certificate for those new to the industry, and the Passion for Produce program, which is designed to accelerate the professional development of the rising stars in our industry. In 2016, the CPMA will be launching a Produce Essentials Credential aimed at professionals with an in-depth working knowledge of the industry. More information about all of the Education Program components can be found at To register or learn more about the Retail Produce Manager and Store Owner sessions at the 91st CPMA Convention and Trade Show in Calgary, visit:

Produce Manager

TOP 10

TREND DRIVERS ($ Vol % Change) Okra........................... +44 Dates......................... +39 Tangerines Clementines

Mandarins................. +28 Artichokes................ +23 Persimmon............... +22 Salad – Bagged........ +20 Lettuce/Greens........ +20 Kiwi............................ +19 Eggplant.................... +17 Garlic......................... +17 Nielsen Market Track, National all channels, 52 wks ending 12/12/15



Customarily, Canadians still like to see, touch, feel, smell and hand-select their fresh produce. And because consumers can be creatures of habit, they tend to purchase from a familiar list of staples, often resisting new products because of lack of knowledge about how to select, store and prepare items off their grid. So how do we, as an industry, entice today’s shopper to enjoy more and varied produce items? The answer may be at hand. Canadians are enthusiastic users of technology, spending 80 per cent of their time on mobile devices engaged with apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to research products, compare prices and make purchases. This presents an opportunity: could produce marketers use social media to change behaviour and encourage consumers to try items outside of their comfort zones? Because produce tucks in nicely with the very popular trend to health and wellness, marketers have a unique opportunity to influence and change produce consumption habits. The digital tools are there, providing an

efficient channel to introduce new fruits and vegetables, and ways of preparing them. Primed by the deluge of interesting food and recipe information they now have access to, consumers have never been more receptive to learning about what’s exciting and new in their local grocery produce department. In the U.S., a Deloitte 2015 study suggested that 64 per cent of all in-store retail sales would be influenced by digital technology. So now is the time to ask: if the produce industry was to self-assess its digital capabilities, would its offering be advanced enough to handle that level of consumer demand, or would we miss this once-in-a-generation chance to educate and engage our customers?

Virginia Zimm is president of the Ontario Produce Marketing Association

March | April 2016


Produce Manager



At a time when many people’s thoughts turn to retirement, Casey Van Dyk embarked on a new venture in the forefront of the healthy food movement. At age 65, he founded Van Dyk Health Juice Products Ltd., which produces juice made from Nova Scotia-grown wild blueberries. The juice contains no additives or sweeteners – just 100 per cent wild blueberries. Casey and his wife Henrica immigrated to Caledonia, N.S., from The Netherlands in 1954, and started Ons Genoegen Farms,

branching into several lines of business. They had been harvesting wild blueberries for almost 40 years when Casey decided to find a way for customers to reap the health benefits of the berries, and for local workers to secure employment year-round. In 1999, he partnered with a team of agricultural scientists to develop a proprietary process to produce a pure wild blueberry juice that is shelf-stable and retains a high level of antioxidant activity from the original fruit. And so was born Van Dyk’s 100% Pure

Wild Blueberry Juice, a product unlike any other on the market at the time. Back then, few grocery stores had a health food section, so the juice was sold in independent health food stores until two major national grocery chains picked it up. The award-winning juice is now sold throughout Canada and around the world. Producing the juice is a fine art that guarantees the product’s freshness. Workers at the plant start pressing the frozen berries at about 7 a.m. each day. By 1 p.m., the juice

Brandspark’s 2016 Shopper Produce prices have popped

+12.4% Statistics Canada, 12-month period, Dec. 2014-Dec. 2015


March | April 2016


consumers say a strong % of produce selection is key to where they shop


% of consumers are willing to pay more for organic products



of shopping trips include multiple stores

Produce Manager

HARVESTING HEALTH Van Dyk’s harvests 600,000 to 700,000 pounds of blueberries annually on about 500 acres. Wild blueberries, commercially harvested only in Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Maine, cannot be planted or genetically manipulated; they can only be “managed” by ensuring conditions are optimum for them to spread, for example, by weeding, pruning and burning, as well as resting crops every other year. Wild blueberries are smaller, sweeter and higher in antioxidants than their “high-bush” cultivated counterparts.

has been bottled, and by 4 p.m., the labels have been applied and the juice is boxed and ready for shipping. It takes one-and-a-half pounds of wild blueberries to produce one 500-ml bottle of juice, says business manager Randy MacDonald, who was hired originally to help with the research into the production process Although Casey is now in his 80s, he still goes to the juice plant a few times a week. He and Henrica have nine children, some of whom work in various branches of the farm, and a number of grandchildren who are involved in the blueberry harvest.

“There is a succession plan in place where at least one, if not more, of the immediate children will assume ownership of the company,” explains MacDonald, and there are plans for product line extensions and possibly other wild blueberry products developed using a new, and as yet undisclosed, technology. It all stems from a tiny native plant and an astute Dutch farmer who recognized – and seized – an opportunity. “I give Casey great credit for having the foresight to see the health movement manifesting,” says MacDonald. “We were in the right place at the right time with the right product back in the early to mid-2000s.”

Study reports:

High in nutrition, canned fruit is also economical WE’VE ALL READ THE STORIES AND SEEN THE TV REPORTS: fresh fruits and vegetables are selling for unprecedented prices. The reason: a 13-year low in the Canadian dollar. All of this is a boon for Canadian exports, but can be expensive for Canadians who love their fruit and are looking for alternatives. Consumers are checking out their options, and there is relief in the shape of a can. Canned produce is a low-cost, convenient alternative selling at about half the price of comparable produce, plus there’s no sacrifice in nutrition. Canned fruit, such as California cling peaches, are picked and packed usually within 24 hours to ensure they retain their appearance, texture, flavour and nutritional content. The result? Canned peaches are: • higher in antioxidants and vitamin A • nearly four times higher in vitamin C • 10 times higher in folate than fresh peaches


Source: Brand Spark Shopper Study 2016

March | April 2016


Taste Two Shows ws in One Trip Now you have twice the number of reasons to be in the U.S. this June. The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Specialty Food Association (SFA) invite you to attend both of their events as part of a special international program.

At FMI Connect in Chicago, you can explore all the trends in food retailing—from consumer engagement technology to store equipment to store-chef-prepared foods.

June 20-23, 2016 | Chicago, IL

2 Days Apart 2-Hour Flight 2 Great Food Retail Events

Afterward, head to New York City for more than 180,000 specialty food and beverage tastes from an exciting array of companies around the world—at the Summer Fancy Food Show!

June 26-28, 2016 | New York, NY

Interested? Email us at

Foreign Agricultural Service 2016




Sustainability: 100 Years of Growth

The United States is Canada’s preferred supplier of safe, high-quality foods as well as innovative high-value food products. This trust is the foundation to the most enviable trading relationship in the world. As the two countries strengthen their ties, the U.S. has a compelling story to tell as a leader in sustainability. By Angela Kryhul

March | April 2016


Foreign Agricultural Service SPECIAL REPORT

A Robust Partnership Canadian consumers recognize U.S. products as safe, fresh, innovative and sustainably produced. Jeff Zimmerman talks about the future of this unique partnership.

Jeff Zimmerman Agricultural Attaché Foreign Agricultural Service United States Department of Agriculture

Why did U.S. food exports to Canada remain steady in 2015, even though there was a dip in exports to America’s next biggest trading partners? Trust in the relationship is what drives U.S.-Canada trade. Sustainable practices have resulted in the United States and Canada becoming integrated food suppliers to the world. Canada remains the top destination for highvalue U.S. food products, importing over $17 billion in 2015, which is double and triple the value of our next largest export markets, Mexico and Japan, respectively. How are U.S. exporters addressing the challenge of a strong U.S. dollar? Innovative products distinguish themselves and thrive in cyclical markets, and no one does innovation better than North Americans.

In a recent 2015 survey, Canadians preferred, by more than double, food imported from the United States over the next country, and for five years straight, the U.S. has ranked as the top import choice of Canadians. Given the Canadian consumer preference, we know U.S. growers and food manufacturers are working hard with their Canadian partners. Our U.S. exporters are keenly aware of the dollar fluctuations, and closely monitor the market conditions in Canada. And U.S. food companies are working closely with their distributors and brokers to continue to build their brands through investing in advertising and trade promotion. Other companies are seizing opportunities in private-label business contracts, and yet others are spending more time to expand their market reach in other regions in Canada.

“Agricultural trade has always been a feature of our shared vibrant relationship, and is increasing through sustainable production practices by good stewards of the land and natural resources.” — Holly Higgins, Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, United States Department of Agriculture


March | April 2016

Foreign Agricultural Service SPECIAL REPORT



How is the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) educating its stakeholders on the anticipated changes under the Safe Foods for Canadians Act? The entire U.S. food value-chain is committed first and foremost to product safety. This is recognized in Canada, with nearly 70 per cent of Canadians surveyed in 2015 being confident in U.S. food safety. The FAS provides clear, accurate and timely information to the food industry and consumers on cross-border food safety modernization. The upcoming implementation of both the Safe Foods for Canadians Act and the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act is monumental. Unprecedented transparent and open stakeholder consultations continue to ensure these regulatory changes do not disrupt trade in one of the most aligned and integrated food trading systems in the world. FAS Canada will continue its educational outreach on these new regulations through the amplified reach of our State Regional Trade Groups. We recognize these regulatory changes will impact how business is done here in Canada. Rest assured that U.S. exporters remain committed to Canada’s food safety requirements – a trusted attribute to buying U.S. origin.

The United States is the Country of Honour at SIAL Canada Montreal (April 13 – 15, 2016). Be sure to visit the U.S. pavilion, where dozens of innovative U.S. products will be showcased.

“The strong U.S. dollar has an impact on all imports and even domestically produced goods and services in Canada. And while shoppers may have to cut back on their least essential purchases, groceries will always be the last to be sacrificed – especially fresh and healthy family choices. With a large and diverse selection of foods from all over the world available in every supermarket in Canada, U.S. cooperators know that they must continue to promote, especially now.” —Ken Berger, Canadian representative, tasteU.S.

$45 billion

Annual two-way agricultural trade between the U.S. and Canada

$17 billion The annual value of U.S. high-value food and beverage exports to Canada

March | April 2016


Foreign Agricultural Service SPECIAL REPORT


by the handful Demos and sampling programs put the goodness of fresh U.S. produce right into the hands of consumers. We spoke to Ken Berger, Canadian representative, tasteU.S. initiative, about what’s happening in-store. Describe some of the successful retail programs taking place under the tasteU.S. initiative. We’ve spread our wings and had some very enthusiastic and supportive retailer buy-in for our in-store sampling initiatives: Save-On-Foods and Loblaws Superstore in Western Canada; Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro and Longo’s in Ontario; and Sobeys in the Atlantic region, all participated. We sampled everything from fresh pears, apples, cherries, blueberries and watermelon, to medjool dates, pecans, U.S.-grown rice, and orange and grapefruit juice. We’ve offered many of these as an out-of-hand snack or have incorporated them into an easy preparation. The demos were usually supported with advertising in the store flyers. From last summer through to February 2016, we worked with 10 different cooperators to offer nearly 1,000 days of in-store sampling events. Most cooperators realized a demo week versus pre-demo week lift of more than 75 per cent. How do you find synergies when demonstrating U.S. products? We try to feature more than one cooperator where it makes sense. In December, we did Washington Apple demos at Sobeys and Metro stores in Ontario. And during the holiday period, we sampled USA Pears together with various cheeses at Sobeys stores across Ontario. It was also an opportunity to launch new products, such as a new Natural Delights Medjool Dates pecan pumpkin pie spiced date roll, as well as a dark chocolate orange date roll, which were sampled in several Save-On-Foods stores. Through demo table signage and consumer take-home pieces, the tasteU.S. brand was exposed to more than 75,000 shoppers across Canada.

The tasteU.S. initiative works with more than 40 U.S. cooperators to bring quality and nutritious food, beverage and pre-packaged goods to Canadians.

FAS(T) Facts

68% of Canadians are confident in U.S. food safety

62% of Canadians prefer fruits and vegetables from the U.S. if produce is not available from within Canada Source: “FAS Consumer Survey,” LegerWeb, October 2015

March | April 2016


Focus on State Regional Trade Groups STATE REGIONAL TRADE GROUPS (SRTG) The Federal Agricultural Service supports four SRTGs whose members include producers of high-value food and agricultural products. Representatives of the SRTGs work to connect export-ready U.S. companies with Canadian buyers, brokers and distributors that are looking for unique, innovative and hard-to-find products. Food Export USA Northeast Food Export Association of the Midwest USA Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA)

Well Connected

Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA)

Trends, new players and a quickly evolving retail landscape combine to keep Kathy Boyce and Alison George ahead of the curve. Both Canadian reps work tirelessly on behalf of their respective State Regional Trade Groups to facilitate meaningful business connections. Here’s just a taste of what they do. Inbound Missions Boyce and George each host their own inbound missions that give U.S. packaged food producers the opportunity to visit major cities such as Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Well before the missions take place, the Canadian reps do their homework to research the market and prescreen qualified U.S. producers. “We talk to them about what their priorities are, and, in some cases, we determine whether they really are ready for export,” George explains. “We ask for product samples and develop company descriptions that we will share with certain buyers here in Canada. It’s very selective.” Once here, the U.S. producers get a thorough understanding of the Canadian market (including export regulations and package labelling). They visit some of the major chains as well as specialty retailers, and they participate in pre-arranged one-on-one meetings with interested Canadian brokers and distributors. Where synergies exist, Boyce and George will sometimes combine efforts and co-sponsor missions to cities like Toronto and Vancouver.

KATHY BOYCE Canadian representative Food Export Midwest and Northeast 416-523-1470


March | April 2016

Outbound Missions George’s SRTG group will bring Canadian buyers and distributors to states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and to horticulture, produce and seafood trade shows. Boyce, meanwhile, arranges outbound missions to such markets as Boston, New York and Philadelphia, as well as to mid-western states. This year, Food Export is adding a new buyers’ mission to Chicago. Says Boyce: “Whether we’re bringing producers to Canada or we’re taking buyers down to the States, it’s all about education and one-onone matching to find potential business opportunities.” Trade Shows The SRTGs have hosting programs that assist qualified Canadian buyers wishing to visit major U.S. trade shows where they will meet one-on-one with packaged food producers. Key trade shows include the Fancy Food Shows, the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit, the annual seafood show in Boston, the Private Label trade show, and the Expo East and Expo West shows.

ALISON GEORGE Canadian representative – SUSTA 416-968-7311 ext 230

Foreign Agricultural Service SPECIAL REPORT

This is

my Vision.

Great restaurant sensibility

translates to revolutionary

grocery store foodservice.

Around every corner at NRA Show I find new products, familiar faces, and unexpected ideas that inspire me to keep pushing the envelope. This is my roadmap.

This is

my show. gary Zickel | Chicago, IL Manager of Food Operations


The U.S. Sustainability Alliance The U.S. Sustainability Alliance is a diverse group of American agriculture, fishery and forestry organizations that are committed to developing and continuing innovative sustainable practices. The Alliance came together in January 2013 after a number of agricultural cooperators realized that sustainability had become a requirement for doing business in the European Union food industry, says Alliance director David Green. “Sustainability is no longer a trend, but is a fact of life which could impact U.S. agricultural exports. We needed to be able to tell our story,” he says. The foundation of America’s sustainable practices and sustainability policies can be traced to the 1930s Dust Bowl, which was made worse by misguided farming practices, Green explains. The Alliance works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a central organization to keep tabs on the sustainability issue and to act both as a resource and an educational platform on the U.S. approach to conservation and sustainability, he says. The Alliance wants to bring its message of sustainable development to all of its trading partners, including Canada. Green will represent the Alliance at the SIAL Canada show in Montreal this April to educate attendees and to discuss industry challenges and best practices. Says Green: “The overall message is to say that sustainability is something we are all looking at, we are moving toward the end goal, and here’s the way we do it.”

Attendee since 2001

And if you’re in retail foodservice, this is your Show too. For 96 years, NRA Show is where the restaurant and foodservice industry has gathered to discover the latest advancements, ingredients, concepts and know-how that keep operations profitable and keep customers coming back for more. And these days our industry has grown to include grocery store operators like you. Food safety, inventory management, culinary techniques, commercial equipment and supplies—you’re in the restaurant business now. Welcome to your Show.

RegiSteR todAy at

©2016 National Restaurant Association. All rights reserved.

To learn more about Sunkist’s family growers, visit Sunkist is a registered trademark of Sunkist Growers Inc., USA. Š2016

Foreign Agricultural Service

Focus on State Regional Trade Groups


NASDA celebrates 100 years

TWO KEY TRADE SHOWS American Food Fair Pavilion National Restaurant Show Chicago, May 21-24


USA Pavilion Americas Food & Beverage Show Miami, September 26-27

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) marks its 100th anniversary in 2016. As a long-time advocate for American agriculture, this Barbara Glenn milestone is an excellent opportunity “to roll up our sleeves and do some great policy work, and to realign with our partners under the theme of Agriculture Amplified,” says NASDA CEO Barbara Glenn. The organization has big plans for 2016, with a special focus on international trade. “We will be elevating international trade and harmonization to be a priority for NASDA in 2016 and beyond,” Glenn explains. High on the agenda is the new 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, as is the

Tri-National Agricultural Accord, whose members – Canada, the U.S. and Mexico – will meet in Niagara Falls, Ont., this year to work on agricultural trade and development issues. NASDA has a new strategic plan designed to enhance its impact and influence on agricultural policy. “One of our main purposes is to be a united voice representing the State Departments of Agriculture,” Glenn says. “Another major priority is to focus on growing partnerships with the food industry for the betterment of providing safe and affordable foods for all.” As it embarks on its second century, NASDA looks forward to working closely with the food and agricultural industry in Canada, says Glenn. “I think our new strategic plan puts us in a good place to do so.”

Foreign Agricultural Service SPECIAL REPORT

Meet Our Agricultural


NATIONAL SUNFLOWER ASSOCIATION Sunflower oil offers a key point of difference for food manufacturers looking to create clean labels and healthier products for their customers. Not only is sunflower oil naturally free of trans fat, it is also non-GMO, says John Sandbakken, executive director of the National Sunflower Association (NSA). One of the reasons Neal Brothers Foods uses sunflower oil in many of its “better for you” snack foods is the oil’s clean light taste, Sandbakken says. “It is also very stable at the high temperature needed for cooking potato chips and popcorn. Neal Brothers also uses sunflower oil because it is a non-GMO oil and thus assures customers that the company is creating premium snacks with the best-quality ingredients.” Sol Cuisine is another leading food manufacturer that uses non-GMO sunflower oil in its premium frozen and refrigerated vegan and vegetarian foods, Sandbakken adds. “Sunflower oil provides longer shelf life than other oils, and it assists in creating the proper texture for vegetarian burgers and meatless chicken products.”

The National Sunflower Association and the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute are just two of more than 40 U.S. cooperators and agricultural partners. Find out more at 64

March | April 2016

AMERICAN SWEET POTATO MARKETING INSTITUTE Canada has developed a taste for sweet potatoes. A new research survey indicates that 15 per cent of Canadians purchase fresh sweet potatoes every week, and 14 per cent are purchasing sweet potato fries, says Sue Johnson-Langdon, marketing consultant for the American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute (ASPMI). U.S. imports account for a whopping 95-per-cent share of the Canadian sweet potato market. Ontario is the largest importer, followed by Quebec, Johnson-Langdon says. “With our new marketing program, we hope to increase these numbers… by creating greater awareness and educating consumers and members of the grocery retail, foodservice and food processing industries about the taste, nutritional benefits and the versatility of American sweet potatoes.”

SWEET POTATOES 101 People often confuse sweet potatoes with yams. Here’s the difference: Sweet potatoes have a thinner, smoother skin, and the flesh can vary in colour from white to orange and even purple. No matter the shape, sweet potatoes will always taper at the ends. A true yam is a starchy edible root with a rough and scaly exterior, primarily grown in South America, Africa and the Caribbean. Unlike the sweet potato, yams must be cooked to be safely eaten.

Foreign Agricultural Service SPECIAL REPORT

Behold the

Mighty Peanut U.S.-grown peanuts are a naturally sustainable crop. In Canada, peanuts are a much-loved snack. And while this staple is found in 95 per cent of households, most Canadians probably take peanuts for granted. For one thing, peanuts are not nuts… they are legumes. And they are among the world’s least expensive sources of plant-based protein. While peanuts are already a sustainable crop, U.S. growers are continually working to improve best practices. Less than 40 per cent of the U.S. peanut crop requires irrigation, and peanuts are a nitrogen-fixing crop, which means they put nitrogen back in the soil and therefore require minimal or no use of synthetic fertilizers, says Patrick Archer, president, American Peanut Council. The Council has created a task force representing all segments of the U.S. peanut industry to measure the carbon footprint and other indicators of sustainability for the entire supply chain. Increasing crop yields is of particular interest to Council members. “We have been mapping the peanut genome to find markers that increase yield and other quality aspects, and we do this by finding species of peanuts that use less water, that are more drought tolerant,” Archer says. To be clear, this is not about genetically modified peanuts. “It’s just a way of identifying those markers that naturally occur in the peanut species,” Archer explains. As research helps farmers address challenges related to climate change, and unlock the promising future of plant-based protein, it is the humble peanut’s time to shine.

97% of Canadian households consume peanut butter

The American Peanut Council, based in Alexandria, Virginia, represents all segments of the peanut industry. North of the border, the organization is represented as the Peanut Bureau of Canada.

More than 85% of the peanuts consumed in Canada come from the U.S.

March | April 2016


SATISFY CONSUMER DEMAND 2 /3 of Canadian consumers believe that field-grown Florida Tomatoes are superior in taste, flavour and quality when compared to hothouse tomatoes.

Canadian Consumers Prefer Field-Grown Florida Tomatoes From now through the end of May, Florida is your only U.S. source for safe, outdoor-grown, hand-picked tomatoes. Give your customers what they demand and contact the Florida



Tomato Committee at (407) 660-1949 to connect with a supplier!

of Canadian shoppers are actively looking for a trusted and safe field-grown tomato year-round.

*Leger Marketing, Canadian Consumer Survey 2015

Foreign Agricultural Service SPECIAL REPORT

Fresh Florida Tomatoes

Ready for Takeoff How Atlas Brand Management helps unique export-ready brands soar in the Canadian market. Nick Alexantonakis knew he’d found a winner when he discovered the WOW Baking Company. Trend-wise, the Kent, Wash., baked-goods company was right on the money: premium all-natural ingredients, wheat free and certified gluten free, and no hydrogenated oils, refined sugars or artificial flavours. But it was the flavour that hooked Alexantonakis, founder and president of Calgary-based Atlas Brand Management: “There aren’t many glutenfree cookies that taste like these. It’s one of those rare brands that takes off like wildfire.” Atlas represents all natural, organic, non-GMO and gluten-free products. With a background in consumer packaged goods, Alexantonakis keeps ahead of trends in this fast-growing category by attending a number of trade shows, including the Specialty Food Association’s winter and summer Fancy Food shows; CHFA West and CHFA East shows; and Gluten Free Expo, Vancouver. “We always try not to bring ‘me too’ products into the market,” he says. “We look for unique products that offer a point of differentiation for our retail customers.” Alexantonakis has also made valued connections within the State Regional Trade Groups (SRTG). He participates in one-on-one meetings with pre-qualified U.S. producers that the SRTG Canadian reps have brought to Canada on trade missions. And he travels to the States on missions where he has the opportunity to tour farms and manufacturing facilities, and to meet producers who are keen to explore opportunities north of the border. Says Alexantonakis: “The vast majority of the brands we’ve brought to Canada had no previous history of sales in our market. So we’ve gone through true pioneer brand management to help them build from the ground up in this market.”

Florida field-grown tomatoes certainly pack a punch. Nutrient-rich and bursting with flavour, it’s no wonder that Canadian shoppers have made tomatoes a destination category. • Nearly 4 in 10 Canadian shoppers specifically prefer the taste and flavour of field-grown tomatoes • 75% of consumers purchase tomatoes weekly • Canadian shoppers are four times more likely to purchase U.S. field-grown tomatoes versus tomatoes imported from Mexico Source: Leger 2015 Canadian Consumer Study


Preserve the texture and flavour of whole tomatoes by always storing them above 13° C. Display stem up, and no more than three layers high, to avoid bruising.


Increase incremental category sales by building a small standing display next to packaged salads.


I ncrease the shelf space of red, round field-grown tomatoes by offering them in bulk and prepackaged tubes and trays.

Canada is the #1 importer of Florida tomatoes

March | April 2016


Foreign Agricultural Service SPECIAL REPORT

U.S. Showcase

Luke’s Organic multigrain chips

GoMacro macrobars GoMacro believes in feeling good about what we eat. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip macrobars do not contain soy, gluten or dairy, and are sourced from 100 per cent plant-based ingredients from the top organic and non-GMO certified growers. Distributed in Canada by Planet Foods.

Inspired by a family member with celiac disease and multiple food allergies, the Luke’s Organic line of Made-in-California snacks includes multigrain chips that are gluten free, organic, non-GMO and free of the most common allergens.

Let’s Talk

Meet us at SIAL Canada and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association show – two excellent opportunities to get to know the many dedicated people representing innovative food products from the U.S.


April 13-15, 2016 Palais des congrès, Montreal A listing of USA Pavilion Exhibitors USDA/U.S. Consulate General Acai Roots, Inc. Bard Valley Date Growers Coffee Holding Company Cordoba Foods Doux South Specialties, LLC

A listing of U.S. cooperators, firms and organizations affiliated with tasteU.S.

Farm Fresh Produce

Imagilin Technology

Safie Specialty Foods Company

Fire and Flavor

Jimmy Luv Enterprises, LLC

Savannah Coffee Roasters

Food Export - Midwest and Northeast

Kontos Foods Inc.

Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA)

* An exhibitor at CPMA 2016 Calgary

Steuben Sales, Inc.

American Peanut Council* Booth #629


La Preferida

Ford’s Gourmet Foods

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Front Porch Pecans (Division of Lamar Pecan Co.)

North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Georgia Department of Economic Development

North Dallas Honey DBA Nature Nate’s Natural

Greater MSP (Minneapolis, St. Paul Region; Economic Development Partnership)


Sunny Sky Products Sweet Harvest Foods The Tru-Nut Company U.S. Sustainability Alliance

Almond Board of California

American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute Bard Valley Date Growers Blue Diamond Almond Growers California Agricultural Export Council

Foreign Agricultural Service SPECIAL REPORT

Madagascar Bourbon vanillas

USA is SIAL Canada’s Country of Honour

Nielsen-Massey vanillas start with premium, hand-selected beans cultivated on the Bourbon Island of Madagascar. Pure, aromatic vanilla beans, extracts, and bean pastes offer a creamy mellow flavour with velvety after-tones.

With more than US$2 billion in goods crossing the Canada-U.S. border every single day, it’s no surprise that the United States will take the spotlight as SIAL Canada’s Country of Honour 2016. Several special events and activities are planned, among them: Opening ceremonies: VIPs from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service will speak at SIAL Canada’s opening ceremonies. Networking: Organized in partnership with the Association of Food Industries (AFI) and the National Grocers Association (NGA), SIAL Canada will, for the first time, offer exhibitors the opportunity to meet with hosted U.S. food buyers and food importers. Education: The U.S. will sponsor a seminar on sustainable food production in America. (April 13, 3:30 p.m.)

Dulce de Leche Dip Rich and decadent Gaucho Ranch Dulce de Leche dip comes in a convenient snack pack together with crunchy bread sticks. It’s a perfectly satisfying indulgent treat.

California Cherry Marketing Research Board

Chefs’ Challenge: In partnership with SIAL Canada and Montreal’s La Tablée des Chefs, the U.S. will donate a basket of homegrown ingredients as part of an on-site event challenging chefs to prepare a unique meal to feed 1,000 people in need.

National Sunflower Association

Synergistic Hawaii Agricultural Council

California Cling Peach Growers Advisory Board

National Watermelon Promotion Board* Booth #308

Hawaii Coffee Association

California Pear Advisory Board

Northwest Cherries

Florida Department of Citrus

Pear Bureau Northwest* Booth #328

Florida Tomato Committee* Booth #631 Food Export Midwest & Northeast, USA Ginseng Board of Wisconsin

Southern United States Trade Association Sunkist Growers, Inc. * Booth #425

Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association Hawaii Papaya Industry Association U.S. Apple Export Council

Washington State Fruit Commission* Booth #730

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

Western United States Agricultural Trade Association

Florida Department of Agriculture* Booth #805

Wine Groups New York Wine and Grape Foundation

U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

Northwest Wine Promotion Coalition

U.S. Rice Federation

Wine Institute (California)

Washington Apple Commission

The Wonderful Company * Booth #105

State members of NASDA

North Carolina Department of Agriculture* Booth #405

Canadian Produce Marketing Association Convention & Trade Show April 12- 14, 2016 BMO Centre at Stampede Park Calgary, Alberta

r e m Sum

BBQ Season


With winter behind us, nothing warms a Canadian’s heart more than rolling out the barbeque in preparation for warm summer evenings sharing a meal with friends and family. But with meat prices rising, what retail strategies will work to drive sales this summer season? The Food Marketing Institute’s recent report, The Power of Meat 2016, offers insights:

Promotions drive sales among primary shoppers

What’s at “Steak”? Customer service


Check out promotional activity


Compare prices across multiple stores


Decide on their meat/poultry choices pre-trip

Consumers rate their knowledge of meat/poultry preparation as moderate, and they are researching digital resources for solutions. This void creates an opportunity for knowledgeable meat associates to provide a needed service and increase basket size.

A growing consumer desire for product transparency is driving sales gains. Segments such as antibiotic-free, grass-fed, hormone-free, natural and organic meat/poultry recorded high growth percentages.

CONSUMERS BITE BACK: THEY’D LIKE TO SEE MORE…. Affordability Better pricing and promotions

Variety A wider selection of meat types, cuts and package sizes

Transparency Provenance and product attributes such as organic and antibioticfree are important

Customer service Improved shopper outreach

Availability More in-stock positions more regularly March | April 2016




82 ND

Don’t Miss This Food Industry Tradition! FRIDAY, JUNE 3RD, 2016







• Nobleton Lakes Golf Club • Copper Creek Golf Club • Eagles Nest Golf Club

In Support of NEW

Independents’ Day

The key to successful business succession?

Start planning early By Joanna Gibbons and Paul Hamam

Canada’s food and beverage sector faces a period of significant change as a generation of owners transition out of their businesses. Approximately $1 trillion in small-business assets are expected to change hands by 2022, according to a 2012 Canadian Federation of Independent Business report. And yet a Deloitte study of 120 family-owned Canadian companies found that just 17 per cent had formal succession plans in place. Whether you’re transitioning your business to family or the management team, recapitalizing it or selling it to a third party, early planning can greatly improve your chance of a successful succession. It’s never too early to take a big-picture, long-term view of your company and its place in the business lifecycle. Here’s what to consider.

Determine your objectives. What are your transition priorities? Maximizing value? Preserving a family legacy? Maintaining the corporate culture? Is timing important? Use these priorities to guide you. Step back. If you’re the critical link in your business, it’s time to reduce the company’s dependence on you. Recruit experienced management to assume responsibility for key business functions and relationships. Investors or buyers must be confident you’ve built a business whose success will continue after you’ve left. Improve your financial management. Being able to produce high-quality, accurate, timely financial information is vital to a successful transaction. Hiring a dedicated CFO or controller and investing in the right financial systems and technologies can improve financial management overall and help you better explain your company’s performance to investors or buyers. Articulate the growth story. Be prepared to articulate a clear, credible growth story and vision for your company. Start talking about – and running – your business with a focus on the value propositions that set you apart and drive your success.

Joanna Gibbons, managing director Deloitte Corporate Finance Inc.

Paul Hamam, executive director Deloitte Corporate Finance Inc.

Be realistic about valuations. Many factors that influence your company’s valuation are simply beyond your control. Understanding your company’s value drivers, key economic and market trends, and industry benchmarks will give you a sense of what you can reasonably expect before the transition process begins. Don’t neglect tax planning. Headline purchase prices get attention, but after-tax net proceeds matter more. Tax planning and structuring are critical in determining what you pocket when the deal’s done. Here, too, an early start is vital – some tax structures must be in place for a specific period of time for you to realize their advantages. Get professional advice. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions are complex, time-consuming and often once-in-alifetime events that can distract management from keeping the business on target. Emotions can interfere with decision-making, leading to mishandled deals. An experienced M&A advisor can help you identify suitable investors or purchasers, navigate issues and ultimately achieve your optimal outcome. And specialized transaction tax advisors can help you make the most of any transaction. When it comes to effective succession planning, an early start can be the key to success. Now is a great time to begin.

March | April 2016


Trends with Taste By Birgit Blain

From healthy to indulgent, here’s a taste of trending new products that we spotted at Grocery Innovations Canada.



Solar Raw Food Ultimate Kale Chips deliver a healthy snack. Organic kale is dressed with a special cashew and sunflower seed sauce, and then dried in a facility powered by the sun.



Wicked pickles and asparagus, from Fire in the Kitchen Spice Co., offer heat with a crunch. Canadian-grown and processed, the cucumbers are fermented according to a family recipe. Generate impulse sales in the deli or meat department with the rustic wood merchandising unit. TREND


Neale’s Sweet n Nice ice cream evokes the flavours of the Caribbean with four fruitful varieties: coconut, guava passion fruit, mango, and rum and raisin.

Birgit Blain is president of Birgit Blain & Associates Inc., a packaged foods consultancy specializing in strategy, brand and packaging development.

March | April 2016


NIGHT TO NURTURE GALA 2016 Celebrating its 37th year, the Night to Nurture Gala took place January 30, 2016 in Toronto. The annual event offers the grocery and food industry a unique opportunity to come together to make a significant and positive difference. Funds raised through the Gala benefit children’s initiatives such as Kids Help Phone and breakfast programs in Ontario schools. The sponsors’ banners

Michelle Scott, The Grocery Foundation

Jim and Johanne Slomka, Bobby and Savita Ramnarine, Clorox Canada, Theresa MacDonald, Kimberly-Clark, and Mike Renton, Hershey Canada

Lucka and Bill Ivany, Marsham International

Bonnie and Galen Shaw, Parmalat Canada


March | April 2016

Original art created for the silent auction

Night to Nurture Gala

Sue and John Violin, Irving Consumer Products

Chrissie and Dave Iacobelli, Clorox Canada

Ryan Tedder, OneRepublic

Fredrik and Lesley Carlberg, Boomerang Art + Design

Photos: Rodney Daw; The Grocery Foundation

Harjot and Gagan Dhaliwal, Kyle Findlay and Kayla Gouthro, Metro Ontario

The grocery industry gathers to support a great cause

Sweet treats for guests

Brenda and David Wilkes, Retail Council of Canada

Tina and Kevin Smith, Karen James and Dan Bordun, Mike and Debbie Marinangeli, Grocery Business Media

Kay and Mikael Schaltz, Sobeys Inc.

Charles Brown and his guests from The Source

Eva Iacobelli, Ian Longley, Bizerba Canada

March | April 2016



NEW & NOW DISCOVERIES A new thin spin on a classic Just launched! Oreo Thins deliver a new snacking experience for consumers looking to enjoy a sweet moment in their busy day. And with only 140 calories in four cookies, Oreo offers a thin spin on a grownup treat.

Go with the Flow Nurtured for thousands of years in a deep artesian aquifer in southwestern Ontario, Flow’s naturally alkaline spring water collects essential minerals. The introduction of the new 1L format complements the original 500-ml pack and meets the growing demand for convenient and eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bottled water.

Bee intense Burt’s Bees introduces a 100 per cent natural, moisturizing and intense colour lipstick in 14 vibrant shades. The distinct packaging is made from 60 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic.

Introducing a quality classic High-quality Basso olive oil has arrived in Canada. This aromatic brand has been produced in Italy by the Basso family since 1904, and adheres to ISO Environmental, Food Safety and Quality system standards.

What’s for dinner? With Jane’s ultimates whole, white meat chicken fillets and hand-cut fish options in your freezer case, you can provide your customers with a delicious and convenient meal solution.

Balsamic vinegar reductions = delicious Nonna Pia’s Balsamic Reductions are made with 100 per cent balsamic vinegar imported from Modena, Italy, and infused with fresh fruit and herbs for smooth flavour. A perfect condiment to drizzle over grilled meats, fish and salads, these reductions are all non-GMO, gluten free, and have no thickening agents added.

March | April 2016


it figures

Buying Behaviour 39%

of consumers search the Internet for information about fresh grocery items, but only 3% click the “Buy� button Takeaway Savvy retailers take an integrated and engaging approach to drive sales for consumers who are ditching the car and splitting their grocery trips between stores and online platforms.


of consumers have purchased beauty and personal care categories online Takeaway Beauty and personal care are well suited for online, but engagement is the skill to master. Offering a value exchange model in which consumers receive a tangible, personally relevant benefit for their time and attention is key.


March | April 2016





Carman Allison is vice-president


Product Info

Price Comparisons

in Canada, and is responsible for

of consumer insights for Nielsen creating thought leadership insights for CPG manufacturers and retailers.

Takeaway Even when items aren’t suitable for online purchasing, consumers will still go online to research, read reviews and check out coupons or discounts.


Urban consumers are

1.2 X more likely to grocery shop online

Takeaway Online purchase rates for consumables are currently low, but full of potential. If well executed, retailers who get the assortment, convenience and online experience right will see frequent purchases and increased loyalty.


(% of consumers who have purchased)

17% 7% 5% 4% 3% Beauty & Personal Care

Baby & Young Children’s Products

Packaged Grocery Food

Household Products

Fresh Groceries

March | April 2016


Perry’s Point of View

TAKING STOCK You will note that my title below is now “former” managing director for CIBC World Markets. That’s because I have decided to pack up my calculator and move on to a third career. No doubt it will involve the food industry in some way. If worst comes to worst, all readers will get a 10 per cent discount at my new frozen shawarma stand. My first career comprised 15 years in the food and general merchandise industry, proving the old saying “all things end badly or else they wouldn’t end.” My second career – 18 years on Bay Street – has, oddly enough, ended well, despite my best efforts. So maybe we should talk about the stock market, and what it takes for retail and consumer stocks to do well in that daily mosh pit. Bay Street is not unlike the food business. The street develops products, which are basically research and opinions. The street markets those products – mutual funds and pension funds – to customers, and hopes they buy or sell through the trading desk, i.e. the store. Why any individual stock actually goes up or down is an inexact science, pitting technical analysts against fundamental analysts against hundreds of exogenous forces (including interest rates, currency, portfolio construction, commodity costs, unemployment rates and chicken entrails).


March | April 2016

But among the retail and consumer companies whose stocks have generally beaten the market over a long period of time, there are some common threads. In retail, great real estate is critical; it’s an asset that cannot be duplicated. Inside that real estate, there needs to be a relatively simple and focused – but always relevant and improving – consumer offering. Great products at a great price are still king. If the store is well operated, revenues should grow faster than costs, and operating cash will be generated. The next most important element involves the decisions companies make about deploying that operating cash. The three acceptable uses are: re-investing capital in the business at a very high rate of return; paying down debt; or giving cash back to shareholders in the form of share buybacks and dividend increases. All are acceptable, but the first requires faith in management, and markets are nothing if not skeptical. But when should these stocks be bought or sold? For most investors, the answer is, “as infrequently as possible.” But if you must buy, then look for cheap valuations. Multiples such as price/earnings ratios, or calculations such as Net Asset Value, become critical. When selling stocks, the reverse is true. The

valuation on stocks can become expensive, or the company can make dubious decisions, or external factors could hammer margins. But even with all that diligence, the markets could just decide to flock one way or another into or out of an entire sector, and all that great analysis is deemed worthless. In other words, for a stock to do well, it is not good enough that a company executes strong consumer offerings in great locations. The broader stock market must behave correctly, and management must make intelligent decisions regarding capital. For instance, capital should not be deployed against frozen shawarma stands.

Perry Caicco is the former managing director for CIBC World Markets. His experience includes 15 years in the supermarket, general merchandise, and packaged goods industries. Perry is a founding member of the Grocery Business Advisory Board.

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