Grocery leaders on the biggest opportunities ahead in 2023

Executives from Fresh City, Kruger Products, Kraft Heinz and more on what the future holds
grocery executives 2023 trends
Left to right: Rabba Fine Foods' Rick Rabba, Fresh City's Ran Goel, Kruger Products' Dino Bianco, Adam Butler of Kraft Heinz and Sunripe's Will Willemsen

As Canada's grocery leaders close the door on 2022 – a year that brought about new challenges and opportunities for retailers and CPG companies – many are focused on the future. 

Executives are preparing for the continued impact of inflation and supply chain disruptions, shifting consumer behvaiour, changing workplace dynamics and new technologies expected to disrupt retail in the year ahead and beyond.

Canadian Grocer surveyed grocers big and small about the opportunities for the industry in 2023. See their answers below: 

Rick Rabba, president, Rabba Fine Foods: “As we face the economic realities of the coming year, many Canadians will view traditional restaurants as an indulgence and this will create opportunities for grocers to continue to expand their food service options. Continuing to bring enjoyable, high-quality meals and experiences to customers will remain critical, and will be driven by the ability of a grocer to maintain the morale, engagement and training levels of our store teams. The person serving our guests will always be a critical part of the experience.”

Ran Goel, chief executive officer, Fresh City: “We see two big opportunities in 2023. Externally, while the economic climate will be challenging, customers will be expecting higher sourcing standards. The pandemic revealed major shortcomings in how the conventional supply chain looks. Customers noticed and they have heightened their expectations. Internally, next year will be an opportunity to triple down on fortifying our front-line workforce after a very challenging few years. This means more attention to mental health, solidifying work flexibility where possible, more cross-training opportunities and leveraging technology to improve the workplace experience.” 

Will Willemsen, owner, Sunripe: “The biggest opportunities I expect in 2023 will come from communications with our customers. Social media has given us the power to bring customers in on the conversation. This allows us to keep customers informed on the ever-changing landscape of food retailing and for them to tell us what they want in our stores. For instance, we shared information on the supply shortages of lettuce recently. We were honest with customers about why the prices were rising and suggested salad alternatives. When we keep customers in the loop it helps us build trust and strengthen the relationship.”

Paul Hogan, vice-president and general manager, Conagra Brands International & Canada: “In 2023, Conagra Brands looks forward to delighting more Canadians with our diverse product portfolio inclusive of snacks, easy meal solutions, and complete frozen meals. During these challenging times, Canadian families can count on great brands such as Orville Redenbacher, VH, Healthy Choice, PAM, Hunt’s, Gardein, and Chef Boyardee. We are most excited about delivering an elevated consumer, shopper and customer experience through new capabilities. An exciting year ahead!” 

Adam Butler, president of Kraft Heinz Canada and North America Coffee: “2023 will likely be a challenging business environment, which presents an opportunity to strategically invest in our retail partnerships, Quebec manufacturing facility, and brand portfolio to help us grow amid the turbulence. We’re focused on taste elevation, on-the-go options, and quick-and-easy meals as hybrid work takes hold and consumer habits evolvea recent example being our expanded presence in the coffee category with Kraft Café Barista. Canadian consumers want convenience and valuewithout sacrificing quality and tasteand we’re accelerating innovation and leveraging our scale to maximize impact, making investments in technology to deliver operating efficiencies and richer consumer insights.”

Dino Bianco, chief executive officer, Kruger Products: “Our mission of “making everyday life more comfortable” is more meaningful than ever before. We know that Canadians are having to make important decisions for their households, and we want to ensure that our brands provide a range of choices that suit their needs and more.  We also want to continue supporting our “Made in Canada” position and leverage our new state of the art tissue plant in Quebec which makes high quality and innovative products for the market. 2023 is about connecting with consumers on an emotional and purpose-driven approach by creating unique and impactful experiences with programs like the Kruger Big AssistCashmere Collection and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.”

This article was first featured in Canadian Grocer’s December/January issue.

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