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Environment, social media among topics at A.D.A. conference


The Association des détaillants en alimentation du Quebec’s 56th annual conference took place this past weekend at Fairmont Tremblant in Mont-Tremblant, Que.

With the theme of “Jouons tous nos atouts” (playing on our strengths) there was plenty of issues discussed over the course of the weekend.

At the retailers’ roundtable on Saturday afternoon, topics covered included coming up with a system for store inspections. Among propositions, some grocers liked  DineSafe, the Toronto Public Health Food Premises Inspection and Disclosure system, while others were concerned about a history of reports being available online for consumers. “Not everyone will understand what the reports’ findings mean,” argued some grocers. One thing is for certain, outgoing A.D.A. president Christian Jasmin noted, that there is a need for a uniform system in Quebec and that its grocers need to be involved in its creation.

Another topic of discussion was the issue of recycling of beer and wine bottles. Grocers in Quebec are having to deal with brewers not accepting the empty bottles as well as having to allocate valuable space to storage of these empty bottles.

Lastly, grocers talked about the growing importance of carrying local goods in their stores and promoting them. Some suggested putting pictures beside produce of the farmer who grew the product as well as better promotion in flyers to get the word out about Quebec’s local bounty. Caroline Bouchard, of Marché Centre-Ville (AXEP) in Chicoutimi said that more and more, when it comes to beef products, her customers want to buy local. “I dedicate space in my weekly flyers to promoting local products carried in my stores, and have found this extremely effective,” she said.

Earlier in the day, conference sessions focused on trends and issues impacting the grocery business.

Laurence Zert, director general of the sectoral committee for the food trade in the province presented the online training programs for grocery departments that are avialable free of charge for grocers. “Each lesson has revision questions and an exam to improve employee performance and reduce turnover,” she said.

Jean Gattuso, president and CEO of A. Lassonde Inc., offered his best practices on creating an environment where innovation thrives. “You must control your own future before others control it,” said Gattuso. He said his company’s strengths are about: innovating/differentiating; being fast/first to market; increasing consumption of health drinks per capita to the detriment of other competitors; and favouring sustainable development.

Social media is the buzzword in all sectors and grocery isn’t alone. Ad agency TouchéPHD’s Stephane Hue and Carlos Pacheco presented an overview of the growth of social media and why grocers need to be tapped into it. Hue said that social media has replaced e-mailing in terms of popularity for chatting. “Social media will allow your customers to be your brand ambassadors,” he said. It can help your company’s PR, client service and grow loyalty. Pacheco added that Twitter is becoming key to CRM(customer relations management) due to its interactive and timely nature.

The surprise speaker of the day was Quebec Environment Minister Pierre Arcand who spoke about how a green Quebec will make a more prosperous Quebec. Some suggestions he made to the grocer audience included carrying more eco-friendly products, and working with suppliers to be more respectful of the environment.

Grocers that were honoured for being more environmentally responsible were: Supermarché IGA Coaticook and Metro Plus St-Grégoire Marché Port Royal.

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