The pandemic may have prevented the industry from gathering in person this year, but that didn't stop United Grocers Incorporated (UGI) from putting on a show and celebrating its members during its annual awards show.
"During these extraordinary times we felt strongly that we needed to continue our tradition of recognizing our valued supplier partnerships," said Jamie Nelson, executive vice-president at Save-On-Foods and UGI chairman, at the start of the virtual gala held Thursday night.
"Although not ideal, we felt it was very important to bring this group together--our members and our supplier partners--to celebrate all the incredible work that we've accomplished," said Nelson.
UGI president Michael Forgione echoed these sentiments, acknowledged the unparalleled hurdles the industry has faced during the pandemic and reinforced the theme of this year's event: Partners in Growth--Working Together and Winning Together.
"It's incredible to see the great work we have all demonstrated in this unprecedented environment to serve Canadian families and proof of what can be accomplished when working together," said Forgione.
The evening capped off with an awards presentation. UGI recognized six of its suppliers for outstanding work and service:
Best Innovative Supplier of 2020: PepsiCo Canada
Best Grocery Supplier of 2020: Nestlé Canada
Best Fresh Department Supplier of 2020: Maple Leaf Foods
Best Equipment and Service Supplier of 2020: Hussmann Canada
Best Private Label Supplier of 2020: Sager food Products
Exceptional Retail Service 2020: Kraft Heinz Canada
UGI also recognized the contributions of former president Denis Gendron, who retired last summer after more than 45 years in the grocery industry, nine of which he served with the organization. Dollarama's Neil Rossy, Metro's Serge Boulanger, CFIG's Tom Shurrie and Freson Market's Mike Lovsin were among the industry colleagues who shared words of congratulations and expressed their gratitude for Gendron's service.
In his address to the audience, Gendron said UGI is the link between suppliers and retailers and that relationship is proof that working together is winning together.