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Wild Fork is breaking into the Canadian retail market

Company opens new storefront in Whitby, Ont.
Kristin Laird
Wild Fork Whitby Ontario

After introducing Canadians to its brand of frozen, premium-cut meats and seafood through e-commerce and home delivery earlier this year, Wild Fork has set up shop in Whitby, Ont. – a suburb an hour east of Toronto.

The company, which also has omnichannel operations in Brazil, Mexico and the United States, opened the doors to the 4,000-sq.-ft. space (including a 500 to 600- sq.-ft. back-of-house freezer) in May.

Sherryl Woodward, head of brand experience at Wild Fork, says the store’s product assortment mirrors what’s currently sold on its e-commerce site. The offer includes affordable, premium cuts of beef, Berkshire pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, fish, specialty meats such as bison, elk, boar, duck and venison as well as ready-made sides such as truffle mashed potatoes, lemon orzo salad and roasted acorn squash. Wild Fork also offers spices and sauces as well as frozen fruits, vegetables and desserts.

Wild Fork blast freezes its protein at prime freshness, which the company says seals in vitamins and minerals to keep the product fresher for longer. In-house chefs test each product to ensure the grade and cut meets company standards.

“All of our products are frozen and that’s to maintain that product integrity so it locks in freshness in a super-fast amount of time,” explains Woodward. “The first time something is defrosted is when you are going to have it for dinner.”

At its core, Wild Fork is a “protein company,” says Woodward, with a product offering that is “complementary” to what a grocery store sells. 

“We don’t offer all the same selections that your standard supermarket does,” says Woodward. “We see ourselves as complementary. We have a great protein selection. We don’t think of ourselves as purely just a frozen food company.”

READ: How retailers and producers can boost meat sales

Visually, the store is an extension of Wild Fork’s e-commerce site. The space has a clean, modern feel with natural light, soft paint colours and food photography will play a particularly important role in the physical store.

“We’re selling food. It’s different than selling fashion,” says Woodward. “You want people to say, ‘Oh man, I want to eat that.’ So, we do great photography of all our products, whether that’s showcased on the website or on the walls of our store to drive that.”

Max Izen, head of real estate and construction at Wild Fork, says Whitby is an ideal market to open its first store in Canada. The store is located along Taunton Road, which is an arterial road running east and west through Whitby and the surrounding cities of Ajax, Pickering and Oshawa.

“We like the demographic there and we believe that it’s a good foray into the Canadian market,” he says. “We like the co-tenants and we liked that opportunity. I felt that was a good one to start with.”

In terms of expansion, Wild Fork will focus on growing its physical presence in the Greater Toronto Area over the next couple of years and hopes to introduce e-commerce in Western Canada in 2024 with bricks-and-mortar locations to follow.

This article first appeared in Canadian Grocer’s May 2023 issue.

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