Sobeys is looking to focus on a new strategy it calls "Plaisir de mieux manger" (the joy of eating better) in Quebec to promote healthy foods and eating.
The strategy will act as the grocer's new guiding principle that will have major impacts on the company's business practices, said Claude Tessier, the president of Sobeys Quebec. "We've started a movement to improve our offering.”
An ad campaign to support the new program will roll out beginning May 1.
The grocer’s plan includes commitments to four groups: customers, employees, suppliers, and dealers.
According to Tessier, the new program is unique among the development strategies being devised and deployed by Sobeys in other provinces.
"Everyone develops strategies for their particular market," he said. "Our feeling is that we have a good one for Quebec."
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Indeed, when Tessier was named president of Sobeys Quebec two years ago, he said he came up with a strategy that would help differentiate the business from the competition and make it relevant to consumers now and in the foreseeable future.
In regards to customers, Tessier said Sobeys Quebec will work to help them make more informed and better decisions about the foods they buy.
"There are multiple ways to do that," he added, naming improved signage and product recipes as two examples.
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He said the company is also working on both increasing its organic food offerings and getting rid of genetically modified foods, beginning with produce.
According to Tessier, efforts will also be taken to develop a new foodie culture among Sobey Quebec's 30,000 employees.
In addition to providing them with specialized training on food information, cooking lessons, and even healthier food offerings in eating areas, Sobeys will also focus on hiring people with an appetite for food.
"We're looking for the right mindset," said Tessier, who recently enjoyed what he called a "food share moment" when he showed some employees at an IGA store how to open and serve a grapefruit-like pomelo.
Sobeys Quebec also wants to inspire the company's 1,000-plus suppliers to follow its lead.
"They are the ones holding salt and sugar and controlling packaging," said Tessier. “We’re sending the message that we we’re moving in this direction and that if they join us, we’re ready to work with them to turn this into business opportunities that will appeal to them.”
He added that Sobeys Quebec's 350 independent retailers "are really excited" by the new program, a vision that voted to adopt at their annual meeting in Montreal in February.
Tessier said store owners will increase sampling and training, and hold activities like food fairs to promote local wares this summer.