This year’s Grocery Innovations Canada tradeshow attracted more than 6,000 industry professionals to 550 booths from food and beverage manufacturers exhibiting a wide range of new product offerings.
The two-day show, which this year took place Oct. 26 and 27 at the Toronto Congress Centre, was hosted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). This year’s event featured a conference series running each morning, with retail industry speakers such as Galen Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Ltd., management consultant and “change agent” Tom Peters, and Pete Luckett, owner of Pete’s Frootique in Halifax and Bedford, N.S. Another popular event that was back this year was the 4th annual Canadian Best Bagger Competition, which saw 24 competitors from stores across the country showcasing their grocery bagging skills. This year’s winner was Janet Villeneuve of Battistelli’s Independent Grocer in Lively, Ont. Contestants were judged on speed, bag-building technique, weight distribution and style and appearance.
Topping off the conference and tradeshow was the 48th Annual Canadian Independent Grocer of the Year Awards Ceremony. This year’s gold winners by retail category were Denis and Debbie Moncion, management and staff of Moncion Grocers Petawawa Market in Petawawa, Ont. (Large Surface); Eric Michaud and the Longo team members, Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc. –Fairview, in Burlington, Ont. (Medium Surface); Eric, Laurie, Lisa and Wade Jennings, Masstown Market in Masstown, N.S. (Small Surface); Steve van der Leest, Gerry Olmstead, John Paisley and Jas Athwal, Urban Fare Coal Harbour in Vancouver (David C. Parsons Award of Excellence in Specialty Food Retailing); and Frank Lovsin and family, Freson IGO – Hinton Hill in Hinton, Alta. (Arnold Rands Heritage Award Winner). The awards recognize the continued success of independent retailers and their commitment to ongoing innovation and leadership. “Independent grocers are a vibrant and vital part of the Canadian business landscape, and they continually raise the bar for innovative retailing,” says CFIG president John Scott.
But the highlight of the show, as always, was the creative new products on display at exhibitor booths. Some of this year’s key trends included gluten-free and allergen-free products in a range of categories, as well as high-fibre items and convenient fresh fruit products. Other major trends on display were eco-friendly and all-natural products, organics and food and beverages with functional additives such as omega-3, antioxidants and prebiotics and probiotics in non-traditional product categories.