UGI celebrates a year of collaboration at 2021 Supplier Awards gala

The national procurement organization handed out six Supplier Awards Thursday evening

The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of collaboration in tackling complex issues. So, it was apt that United Grocers Incorporated (UGI) picked “Collaborating for Success” as the theme for its annual awards show.

Held virtually for the second year, the 2021 Supplier Awards gala celebrated the work and coming together of supplier partners and retail members, during what can only be described as another challenging year for the grocery industry.

“When everyone is working in harmony towards the same goal, the accomplishments make the hard work very worthwhile,” said Jamie Nelson, executive vice-president at Save-On-Foods and UGI chairman, during the hour-long event held Thursday evening.

Consumer needs and expectations are changing—health and wellness products are growing in popularity, private-label products and locally sourced items, too, and expectations around a seamless shopping experience, said Nelson. Industry partners need to stay connected to meet these needs and “continue to grow our mutual business.”

UGI president Michael Forgione echoed these sentiments, stressed the key role collaboration had played in successfully navigating the challenges brought by the pandemic and the subsequent changes in consumer habits. "This is proof of what can be accomplished together by collaborating with a common goal to serve the needs of Canadian families every day," said Forgione. 

Throughout the evening, suppliers and retailers shared "collaboration stories" of how working together helped them overcome specific business challenges faced this past year.

The evening capped off with an awards presentation. UGI recognized six of its suppliers for outstanding work and service:

Best Grocery Supplier 2021: Coca-Cola Limited Canada

Best Innovative Supplier 2021: Mondelēz Canada Inc.

Best Fresh Department 2021: Sofina Foods 

Best Equipment and Services Supplier 2021: Grand & Toy

Best Private Label Supplier of 2021: Ice River Springs Water Co. Inc.

Exceptional Retailer Services 2021: Nestlé Canada Inc.

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