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C-stores and grocery turn to foodservice to stand out

Consumers on the go are turning to quick and easy food options outside of restaurants



Supermarkets and convenience stores are turning to foodservice to drive growth and keep pace with multitasking consumers looking for easy meals on the fly. And it’s paying off.

On-the-go is no longer an eating occasion, it’s a lifestyle, which means consumers are searching for food solutions beyond restaurants, said Donna Hood Crecca, a principal at Technomic, during a session this month at Restaurants Canada’s annual trade show and conference in Toronto.

“They want prepared food and beverages wherever they happen to be,” said Crecca.

Herein lies the opportunity for convenience and grocery store channels, each of which is currently faced with its own set of economic challenges. Convenience is looking for strategic growth opportunities as tobacco sales continue to decline, while grocery stores contend with the ongoing consumer shift to online.

Retail foodservice in the U.S. pulled in $72 billion in sales in 2019, said Crecca. Grocery foodservice accounted for half of that figure ($35.6 billion), convenience stores accounted for approximately one third ($24 billion) while drug stores, warehouse clubs and mass merchandisers made up the balance, she said. And sales will continue to grow.

Total foodservice sales is projected to increase in the U.S. by 3.6% in 2020, said Crecca. “When we look at the growth rates for retail foodservice it’s really driven by that grocery or supermarket segment, which actually is the second fastest growing segment of foodservice in the United States, growing at twice the overall rate.”

New build convenience stores in the U.S. are now foodservice centric, and many operators are upping their game in terms of the quality of food they’re offering and also the restaurant-type equipment they’re adopting, said Crecca.

Supermarkets are further along in the process and focusing on the consumer experience, she said. “[Supermarkets] are getting into open kitchens, they’re leveraging the theatre of food to make it inviting, to make it a destination. So, a lot of investment, a lot of excitement, a lot of prioritization, this is what they need to do to grow their business.”

The commitment to providing restaurant-quality food is paying off for both sectors. In a recent poll conducted by Technomic, 50% of consumers said C-stores are just as capable as restaurants in offering fresh food and beverages, and 41% said convenience store private-label food items are as high in quality as food from a restaurant.

And with supermarkets, 77% of consumers said the prepared foods department was really important in determining which store would become their primary destination. “Obviously this is where these supermarket operators are going to put their money as it goes to the long term growth and viability of their stores overall,” said Crecca.

Though foodservice enhances a store’s relevance, drives visits and spend, it’s important to build initiatives around the brand’s core competency, said Crecca. “Make sure what you’re offering is something the consumer gives you permission to do,” she said. “Play to your strengths–don’t offer full-service menu if you’re good at grab and go.”

Originally published at Canadian Grocer. 


Plant-based goes mainstream

Foodservice success means adding alternative proteins on the menu

Pat Brown could well be the Steve Jobs of protein alternatives. 

Under Jobs, Apple’s mission statement was “to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.”

Pat Brown

Pat Brown

Like Jobs, Pat Brown is a man on a mission. Brown’s company, Impossible Foods, is working “to completely replace animals in the food system by 2035.”

This is worth paying attention to. The impacts of the market shift to protein alternatives are not theoretical and they will significantly affect the convenience sector in 2020 and beyond. They’re also happening in real time.

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 3.56.11 PMUnique data from Tastewise, a food and beverage insights and trend tracking company, confirms the explosive growth of plant-based meat. Its AI technology harnesses billions of data points from social media, recipe websites and restaurant menus, to provide an early read on consumer interests and motivations. In 2019, Beyond Meat experienced a +225% growth on menus and +95% growth in social media mentions.

What’s on the menu?

In Canada, many leading foodservice providers are adding plant-based proteins to the menu. 

A&W Canada created a splash when it introduced the Beyond Meat burger in 2018, and followed with a Beyond Meat Sausage & Egger in 2019. A&W reported record same-store sales in quarters three and four in 2018, corresponding with the launch. In the second quarter of 2019, A&W same-store sales were up +10.3%, compared with +6.6% in the same quarter in 2018.

Several other QSR chains got the message and started down the plant-based path. Burger King embraced the Impossible Burger and the Impossible Sausage debuted in its Impossible Croissan’wich in January. Subway, Quesda, Mucho Burrito, and Tim Hortons all introduced Beyond Meat items to their menus (despite positive consumer response, Tim Hortons announced a pullback in September 2019, only offering its Beyond Sausage sandwiches and burgers on menus at restaurants in B.C. and Ontario).

Screen Shot 2019-12-13 at 9.44.42 AMAs convenience stores embrace foodservices as a means to attract busy consumers and grow sales, plant-based proteins are key. In August of 2019, 7-Eleven Canada introduced The Beyond Sausage and Roasted Veggie Pizza in select locations. At the end of 2019, Sheetz, a large U.S. chain of restaurants and convenience stores across the mid-Atlantic, announced the introduction of Beyond Meat plant-based burgers at all 597 store locations. 

With companies like Nestlé—the world’s largest food company—recently adding pea protein-based Sweet Earth sausages to its growing range of meat substitutes in an effort to secure a position in the booming market for plant-based foods, all indicators are this is the tipping point. 

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 3.56.59 PM

Size of prize

Foodservice operators are well advised to differentiate their offering to capture the expanding slice of consumers, who, for health and//or ethical reasons, are drawn to premium plant-based meat alternatives. 

Data shows per capita meat consumption is declining, particularly when it comes to beef and pork. Conversely, a Dalhousie University study recently reported that vegetarians and vegans now account for nearly 10% of Canada’s population; that’s more than 2.3 million vegetarians and 850,000 vegans. People under the age of 35 are driving this trend and they are willing to spend more for food that satisfies their tastes. 

According to the Ipsos Canada, strict vegan/vegetarians spent close to $500M at foodservice in 2018, with an average eater cheque of $11.01 versus the industry average of $8.75. Flexitarians (those who have a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eat meat or fish) though harder to quantify, could account for at least another $5B annual foodservice sales.

 According to the Ipsos FIVE & Foodservice Monitor:

  • Alternative proteins are growing at a faster pace at foodservice than meat proteins
  • Vegan burgers are the fastest growing burger type in foodservice (up 15%)
  • Protein inclusion at lunch on the rise, with alternative proteins now on par with meat proteins.

What’s behind this consumer behaviour? Technomic’s 2019 Canadian Centre of the Plate Consumer Trend Report details that consumer satisfaction with meat-alternatives is growing and objections are fading (Exhibit 1). In other words, companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat are raising the bar with great-tasting beef and pork alternatives.

The outlook for chicken and seafood

 Next up for disruption? Chicken and seafood. 

Sunfed Chicken-Free-Chicken, a New Zealand start-up food manufacturer, claims to have developed a product with the taste and feel of poultry, as well as double the protein of chicken and triple the iron of beef. It is free of gluten, soy, cholesterol, trans fats, preservatives, diary, GMO, palm oils, antibiotics and hormones. It also features a relatively clean label—water, pea protein, rice bran oil, pea fibre, pumpkin, natural yeast extract and maize starch. Sunfed’s products are currently available through two large chain supermarkets, but a broader distribution is only a matter of time.

Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 3.58.15 PMSwiss-based Planted makes its “chicken” with just four ingredients—pea protein, pea fibres, sunflower oil, and water. It’s founders focused on plant-based chicken because of the high and growing global demand for chicken (it’s the only meat where consumption is actually on the rise). The company was motivated to mitigate several negatives associated with real poultry, including the consumption of antibiotic resistant bacteria by those eating it and the environmental impact of greenhouse gas emissions involved in production. 

Given the depletion of ocean resources generally, growing global demand for shrimp and seafood, as well as environmental and sustainability concerns associated with farmed aquaculture, plant-based seafood is a logical area of opportunity. (Canadians have a big appetite for shrimp and import about $700 million in shrimp every year, with the majority of it coming from India, Vietnam, China and Thailand.)

Unknown-3California-based New Wave Foods, the latest player in plant protein, is about to take a bite out of this demand with its “Shellfish, evolved” seaweed-based vegan shrimp products. Industry giant Tyson Foods, which continues its expansion into convenience stores with a variety of foodservice offerings, sees the potential here, having recently purchased a minority stake in the company. 

Doing the impossible

UnknownWhen Steve Jobs held a press conference to introduce the iPhone in 2007, he said: “Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.” 

The breakthrough for the iPhone was to make smartphones more user friendly. As Jobs explained at the time, “We’re going to use the best pointing device in the world. We’re going to use a pointing device that we’re all born with—born with ten of them. We’re going to use our fingers.” 

The challenge that the new wave of plant-based protein companies are embracing is equally simple and impossibly complex—offer protein alternatives that fully replicate the experience of eating beef, pork, chicken and shrimp.

 Jobs understood that user experience rules the day. Now, with protein analogues well on their way to seamlessly mimicking the taste and mouthfeel of traditional protein, we may be on the cusp of a sea-change disruption in the protein that we eat. 

Is 2035 a realistic timeframe to be fully switched off animal protein? Single lens reflex digital cameras with an image sensor first hit the market in 1991: By the end of 2009, Kodak announced that it would cease selling its iconic Kodachrome color film product. To paraphrase Mark Twain, change comes slowly, at first, and then all at once. 

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Darren Climans is a foodservice insights professional with close to 20 years’ experience partnering with broadline distributors, CPG suppliers, and foodservice operators. His practice is to understand issue-based decisions by taking a data-driven approach to strategic decision making.

 Originally published in the May/June issue of CSNC.



Food delivery services brace for COVID 19 with non contact options and sanitizer

Unknown-1When users of the Chanmao Inc. food delivery service log into the company’s app next week, they’ll notice a new option: non-contact drop-offs.

The feature – triggered by user demand and a desire to combat the recent outbreak of a novel form of coronavirus – will allow customers to request orders be left at front desks, with building security or on a doorstep.

“For the past couple of weeks, a lot of our customers have been writing in the notes saying, could you leave the order at the front of the door or could you leave it at the security or can I meet you outside instead?” said Ivy Chen, the co-founder of Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Chanmao, which services the Greater Toronto Area, Waterloo, Hamilton, Halifax, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

The no-contact service is part of a slew of precautions food delivery companies operating in Canada have undertaken amid the outbreak, which has infected at least 60 Canadians and more than one hundred thousand more globally.

With increasing numbers of Canadians working from home or self-quarantining after travelling to coronavirus hotspots abroad, delivery apps are bracing themselves for high volumes of orders, while facing pressure to up their safety protocols given that their couriers are handling food and coming into contact with customers.

Chanmao decided to make health and safety materials available to all of its couriers in the wake of the new coronavirus known as COVID-19, Chen said.

“We made sure all of our delivery drivers have hand sanitizers with them in the car, so that when they’re getting the food from the restaurant or after they finished a delivery, they are keeping good hygiene,” Chen said.

Latex gloves are hand for couriers to pick up from the company too.

At Uber Technologies Inc.’s Eats service, when couriers logged into their app to begin accepting orders in recent weeks, they were met with a message reminding them to wash their hands frequently, disinfect their vehicles often and if they feel sick, to stay home.

The company is also encouraging employees to make use of its Law Enforcement Response Team, which runs a 24/7 portal that helps with safety and public health concerns encountered while using the platform.

Uber has yet to detect any coronavirus cases spread through its users or couriers, but put restrictions on employee travel to China, northern Italy, Iran and South Korea.

Meanwhile, competitor Foodora Inc. has set up a committee to streamline instructions and implement processes ensuring the health and safety of its couriers and customers.

“Our teams have already issued a series of informed measures, including work-travel restrictions to affected regions and a work-from-home policy for those who’ve travelled recently to areas with outbreaks,” spokesperson Sadie Weinstein wrote in an emailed statement to The Canadian Press.

“We’ll continue to monitor the development of COVID-19 and implement further measures, if deemed necessary.”

Food service numbers were down in China in January, when the virus hit the country hard, but its delivery data was up, said Vince Sgabellone, a food industry analyst at the NPD Group.

It’s hard to tell if that spike was caused by COVID-19 because delivery services in the country were seeing immense demand and growth before the virus.

Whether the same trends will be replicated Canada is also unknown, Sgabellone said.

“It is still very early going to suggest that anyone has or will make changes in the way they will frequent any retail outlets or food service,” he said.

“I have not heard anything. My customers are telling me it is business as usual and they are being careful and diligent as always.”


Coffee sellers stop accepting reusable cups amid coronavirus



Tim Hortons and McDonald’s Canada are the latest coffee purveyors to stop accepting reusable mugs brought in by customers amid concerns about the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and plan to reintroduce the policy at a later time,” wrote McDonald’s Canada spokeswoman Veronica Bart in an email.

Tim Hortons said in a statement that it has made the change after listening to its restaurant owners and comments from its customers, even though health officials have not recommended any changes to its current procedures.

The temporary move follows similar decisions by Starbucks and The Second Cup Ltd. announced earlier last week.

All four chains indicated they are taking extra precautionary measures. These include increasing the number of times cafes are cleaned each day, restricting business-related air travel until the end of March, recommending that areas people touch frequently such as kiosks are cleaned more often, and purchasing extra essential cleaning materials that may be needed in the coming months.

Tim Hortons has also put on hold plans it had to give away 1.8 million reusable cups for free as part of its Roll Up the Rim contest this year.

The coffee-and-doughnut chain will delay the distribution of the reusable cups that were planned to be given away next week until later this year.

It will honour the three digital rolls described in its campaign for any customer that brings in a reusable cup during its Roll Up the Rim contest and buys a hot beverage scanning their Tims Rewards card or app, however the drink will be provided in a single-use cup.


Parkland expands foodservice offering with Triple O’s restaurant deal

UnknownParkland Fuel Corporation is entering into a multi-year agreement to strengthen its range of freshly prepared and quality meal options by expanding its long-standing relationship with Triple O’s restaurants.

This exclusive agreement builds on the success of Parkland’s existing network of On The Run and Town Pantry convenience stores that already feature Triple O’s in British Columbia – Parkland is an independent supplier and marketer of fuel and petroleum products and a leading convenience store operator. This paves the way for more restaurants in British Columbia, as well as Triple O’s entry into Alberta and Ontario.
Screen Shot 2020-02-25 at 10.04.23 AMTriple O’s Restaurants is a division of White Spot Hospitality – a Canadian restaurant chain since 1928 – that operates more than 60 quick service restaurants throughout British Columbia, Alberta and Asia. The quick service burger restaurant currently operates at select Parkland Town Pantrys in British Columbia.
“We look forward to working with Triple O’s to expand their presence in B.C. and launch their high-quality food brand and award-winning menu into Alberta and Ontario,” Ian White, Parkland’s senior vice-president of strategic marketing and innovation, said in a release. “As part of our organic growth strategy, our goal is to include a high-quality food offering in every new and retrofitted On the Run convenience store.”
The combination of Parkland’s network of fuel brands with Triple O’s freshly prepared breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options complement Parkland’s existing food offering and is a natural extension to its On the Run convenience store brand.
“This is an exciting day for the Triple O’s family,” said Warren Erhart, president of White Spot Hospitality. “We have a longstanding and successful partnership with Parkland in British Columbia and look forward to expanding on this success in new markets. With consumers’ evolving needs for convenience and premium quality food, it is with great pride and passion that we are now able to share our delicious and craveable taste of Triple O’s with our signature burgers, fresh-cut Kennebec fries and hand-scooped milkshakes, to so many more Canadians.”

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Consumers thirsty for better-for-you beverages 



In 1886, Atlanta pharmacist John S. Pemberton came up with the most consequential new consumer packaged good product idea in recorded human history—Coca-Cola. The key to this innovation was the mixing of uniquely flavoured syrup with carbonated water, creating the first Carbonated Soft Drink (CSD).

A single serving of Coca-Cola in 1886 sold for 5 cents per glass and daily consumption was approximately nine glasses per day, making for an annual revenue of less than $200. From this humble start, the Coca-Cola Company has grown during its 100-plus years to a market cap of roughly US$230-billion. Current global consumption of all types of Coca-Cola beverages is close to 2-billion servings per day.

 Trend is your friend, until it ends

Despite its market dominance, there are storm clouds gathering on the horizon for traditional Coca-Cola. 

 According to Euromonitor International, a leading independent provider of strategic market research, North American sales by volume of CSDs have shrunk by approximately 1% per year since 2014. In contrast, during the same period, sales of better-for-you health and wellness beverages have increased nearly 30%.

In a recent presentation, Beverage Marketing Corporation noted: “Carbonated soft drinks… declined slightly for the 14th consecutive year, and declines have continued into 2019… more declines are likely to come in the years ahead (as) consumers are migrating to healthier options and want more variety.”

CSDs, while still a significant slice of the beverage pie, are trending down in mature Western markets.

 The rise of functional beverages

Technomic’s 2018 Canadian Beverage Consumer Trend Report details important shifts in the beverage market:

Screen Shot 2020-02-14 at 9.22.12 AM   

Functional beverages defined

 There are many terms that can be applied to beverages under the umbrella of better for you (BFY) or health and wellness .

 Broadly speaking, they cover naturally occurring or essential additives that offer the potential of enhanced health and/or reduced risk of disease. So-called healthy beverages generally tend to:

Screen Shot 2020-02-14 at 9.30.44 AM 


What’s new in functional beverages?

The Innova New Product Database is the world’s largest database tracking new food and beverage product launches. The top ranked beverage health claims as a percentage of total new launches (2018) include:

  1.   Antioxidant
  2.   Energy / alertness
  3.   Digestive / gut health
  4.   High source of protein
  5.   Probiotic

Claims of digestive/gut health, high protein and probiotics are all trending up. Significantly, the global trend on new soft drinks launches with a kombucha claim tracked 68% growth. (See below for examples of new products.)

Be thirsty for change

Screen Shot 2020-02-14 at 9.23.04 AMTechnomic’s 2018 Canadian Convenience Store Consumer Trend Report states: “Healthy eating trends are creating opportunities for c-stores. Increasingly, consumers are seeking not just healthy options, but foods and beverages that provide meaningful benefits.” Global consumer demand for functional beverages is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% from 2019-2023, with 36% of the growth coming from North America (Exhibit 1).

And there’s even more on the line when it comes to owning the beverage space. For instance, using beverage offerings to achieve broader consumer reach is exactly what McDonald’s did a decade ago when it set out to target Starbucks and Tim Hortons with a fully revamped coffee program.

McDonald’s recognized that breakfast was the fastest growing part of the day for foodservice. According to research company NPD Group, breakfast sandwiches make up a third of all orders placed during that time of day. Combine that with the interest of GenZ consumers in premium coffee offerings, and McDonalds strategic path was clear—grow coffee consumption as a means to win the breakfast wars.

In 10 years, McDonald’s has tripled its drip coffee sales and more than doubled its market share to north of 13%. Its newest streetfront McCafés outlets extend the café experience with an eye towards capturing even more away-from-home food dollars.

The bottom line for your bottom line

Screen Shot 2020-02-14 at 9.32.59 AMAfter a century of unparalleled growth, shifts in consumer tastes away from CSDs have primed a reorientation in the beverage space. Fortunately, convenience stores can leverage competitive advantages to profit from this change. The opportunity is at hand to translate c-store strengths—diverse channel affiliations, large refrigerated and ambient shelf-space, and deep category knowledge—into the taking of a bigger slice of the pie. 

Increasingly fragmented consumer demand for better-for-you beverages should be seen as a welcome challenge, an opportunity to leverage a c-store point of difference, and grow your bottom line.


Darren Climans is a foodservice insights professional with close to 20 years’ experience partnering with broadline distributors, CPG suppliers, and foodservice operators. His practice is to understand issue-based decisions by taking a data-driven approach to strategic decision making

Originally published in the January/February issue of Convenience Store News Canada. 


Amazon Go expands foodservice offerings

Amazon-Go-walking-in_500-x-400Amazon is to sell to hot food and espresso at select Amazon Go locations in the United States.

Its store in San Francisco’s Financial District is closed for renovations, as the company prepares to expand its foodservice offering beyond grab-and-go options, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

It appears Amazon is rolling out new offerings at other locations, too. One of its Chicago sites is also closed for renovations. According to its website: “This Amazon Go location will be temporarily closed for renovation. We’ll be back with new features and flavors in the Spring.”

Amazon Go operates 25 locations in major urban centres, including New York, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco. Another is slated to open soon in Seattle.

When it introduced the concept, Amazon laid out ambitious plans, targeting 3,000 Amazon Go convenience stores by 2021.


Tim Hortons pulls Beyond Meat breakfast sandwiches from B.C., Ont. menus

Unknown-1Tim Hortons has pulled Beyond Meat products off the menus in the last provinces where it still sold the trendy plant-based protein, less than a year after a national roll out.

The coffee-and-doughnut chain will no longer sell Beyond Meat breakfast sandwiches in Ontario and B.C., said Sarah McConnell, a spokeswoman for parent company Restaurant Brands International.

“Ultimately, our guests choose to stay with the meat option in their breakfast sandwiches,” she wrote in an email.

The company first piloted the plant-based offering in May. Select locations added three Beyond Meat breakfast menu items and based on consumer demand, the company said it hoped to roll them out nationally by summer’s end.

In mid-June, Tim Hortons added two Beyond Meat breakfast sandwiches and one wrap to menus at almost 4,000 of its Canadian locations. About a month later, the chain announced its first burger offering with two Beyond Meat burgers nationwide.

In September, the company pulled the burgers from all locations, but said it would still sell the plant-based protein breakfast sandwiches in Ontario and B.C. thanks to a “positive reaction” from customers.

That enthusiasm eventually waned.

“We will keep an item on the menu if it’s favoured by our guests,” wrote McConnell. “In this case, we did not see enough demand to keep it as a permanent item.”

RBI CEO Jose Cil referenced the products as “a limited-time offer” in an October conference call with analysts _ about a month after the company scaled back Beyond Meat availability.

A Beyond Meat spokeswoman did not respond to emailed questions, but sent a one-line statement.

“We partnered with Tim Hortons on a limited time offer. We are always open to collaborating with our partners and may work with them again in the future,” Emily Glickman wrote in an email.

Other chains have seen greater success with alternative-protein items as consumers, including those who eat meat, flock to plant-based proteins for health, environmental and animal welfare reasons.

A&W became the first national restaurant chain to serve Beyond Meat patties in July 2018. Initial demand outstripped supply and the fast-food chain temporarily ran out of stock.

The burger chain has since added a plant-based nugget to its menu for a few weeks, and CEO Susan Senecal has said demand for the veggie burgers has “stayed remarkably stable” since the launch.

Tim Hortons doesn’t seem to be shutting the door completely on the trend.

“We will continue to explore plant-based options as part of our regular menu innovation pipeline,” McConnell wrote.

“But there is nothing new planned for the restaurants in the immediate future.”


Plastics ban can’t be instant, restaurants warn Ottawa



Canada’s restaurant owners are eager to do their part to curb this country’s addiction to plastics, their association says, but they want the government to leave time for them to adapt to a ban on plastic take-out containers.

Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Thursday Ottawa’s promised ban on many single-use plastics is coming in 2021 after a scientific assessment of plastic pollution released Thursday found that the waste is harmful to the environment.

The list of what will be banned is still in development.

Carol Patterson, national vice-president at Restaurants Canada, said the industry needs a reasonable time to find and procure alternatives that are both affordable and better for the environment.

“We are really calling on the government to have an approach that takes into account the full life cycle of products but also providing those reasonable timelines for safe and functional alternatives to enter the market,” Patterson said.

At the same time as restaurants are grappling with finding non-plastic options, they are seeing a surge in demand for take-out containers from the explosion of online food-delivery services. Restaurants Canada reports between 2017 and 2018, ordering via apps and websites grew 44 per cent.

The Ipsos Foodservice Monitor found in 2018, sales via food delivery grew 54 per cent and take-out grew 18 per cent. While in-person dining is still a majority of restaurant sales _ 79 per cent in 2018 _ there is no growth in that segment of the market.

Patterson said restaurants need to make sure alternatives are also safe and accessible for customers. She said the government has been open to hearing from the industry so far.

Chelsea Rochman, an assistant professor of ecology at the University of Toronto whose lab specializes in water pollution caused by people, said when it comes to deciding what products to ban there is some “low-hanging fruit” like plastic grocery bags and straws. The bags, said Rochman, are easily replaced with reusable options and plastic straws can be eliminated for most people entirely. Many stores and restaurants have already replaced or eliminated both.

Paper-based take-out containers are already popular and are better for the environment than plastic or Styrofoam versions, even if the paper ones end up landfilled, she said.

Other items, like cutlery, may be harder to figure out, at least in the short term, because most people aren’t carrying around their own reusable forks and spoons.

“It’s a huge societal switch,” said Rochman.

She said questions is what is likely to happen to a product at the end of its first use. Some compostable plastics might be able to go industrial composting facilities in cities but there are few cities that offer that service, and there are no standards nationwide for what can be called “compostable plastic.”

The scientific assessment on plastic pollution released by Environment Canada found there was little evidence most packaging labelled as biodegradable will fully break down.

Plastic products that are really hard to replace with reusable options, like much of the packaging for shelf-stable foods such as condiments, need to be standardized so they can be recycled, said Rochman. It is hard for one recycling facility to turn bottles into plastic pellets for reuse if every bottle is made of different kinds of plastic polymers.

Only about a dozen firms across the country constitute Canada’s recycling industry. Policies that require more things be made using recycled materials are also needed to spur action, said Rochman.

Wilkinson said the plastics ban is only part of the government’s plan to eliminate plastic waste by 2040, noting standards and policies to make producers responsible for the full life cycles of their products are also in the works.

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Food for thought: A Q&A with Kathy Perrotta of Ipsos Canada

Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.49.27 PMKathy Perrotta is vice-president at Ipsos Canada and leads the company’s FIVE Food and Beverage tracking service, which examines the behaviour, attitudes and motivations of 20,000 Canadian consumers. Research shows that busy lifestyles, long daily work commutes and hyper-connectivity are influencing daily food and beverage choices. During the recent Star Women in Convenience Awards Event, Perrotta delivered a keynote outlining this evolution. She also spoke with Convenience Store News Canada’s Quick Bites columnist and foodservice insights professional Darren Climans about how the convenience and gas channel performs against these drivers to establish a framework for growth and future success.   


Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.50.24 PMDC: What are the key socio-economic and macro trends shaping consumers’ current consumption choices? 

 Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.49.46 PMKP: We’re definitely in a period of flux in terms of the Canadians’ food and beverage choices. Compared to even five years ago, when we started the FIVE Food and Beverage tracking service, the changes are significant. The biggest single factor is the shift in Canadian demographics, which includes an aging population, shrinking household sizes, urbanization, growth in representation of specific minority groups, and the rising influence of the aging millennial cohort.

These are manifested in the so-called trends that we see at the consumer level. Increased attention given to health and wellness is creating new food priorities. It is a function of both aging boomers and better-informed younger consumers. Similarly, consumers’ growing focus on convenience and personal/customized food and beverage solutions is another example of a trend that is being driven by a number of factors across demographic groups.


Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.50.24 PMDC: How has technology been a driver of change for consumers?


Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.49.46 PMKP: The false promise of technology was that it was supposed to save us time. While the advent of technology and social media in our everyday lives certainly provides a plethora of benefits, it also makes us mindfully aware of and contributes actively to the reality of daily time constraints.  Bottom line is that we have become very time challenged.

As a result, time is, in many ways, the new currency. This isn’t going away—it will continue to be the focus of retailers, manufacturers and foodservice operators alike. 


Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.50.24 PMDC: What are some examples of how these changes are being expressed in Canadians’ daily food and beverage choices?

Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.49.46 PMKP: The long-term trend over the last half-century has been a slow movement of consumer eating occasions from at-home to away-from-home options. The data shows that this gradual shift continues to express itself in the decisions of younger consumers.

The rise of ‘snacking culture’ and its prominence in our daily routines has ultimately reformed the traditional meal regime, which is now simpler, with fewer components than in the past, consumed alone and requires less time to prepare.

This dovetails with trending in HMR (home meal replacement), meal kits and home delivery. Though still very small, our FIVE data shows increases in sourcing from both HMR and home delivery services to meet convenience-oriented needs. The emergence of meal kits is driven by more than convenience. It helps consumers satisfy their need for fresh, less processed foods while enjoying ‘no fail’ culinary exploration.


Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.50.24 PMDC: You say in your keynote that ‘Canadians want convenience without compromise’—what are the recommendations that you have for the convenience and gas channel to build a framework for growth and future success? 

Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.49.46 PMKP: There’s no doubt that overall growth and future success in retailing will be fueled by convenience. That’s a good foundational fit for the C&G channel to emerge as a food-forward destination. But consumers’ ideas of what convenience means have evolved and matured. With time being the new retailing currency, there are many more options. Consequently, consumers’ desire for quick and easy is increasingly matched by their unwillingness to sacrifice needs for healthy, fresh, less processed, high quality products and unique experiences.


Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.50.24 PMDC: Are there any competitors or disruptors on the horizon that C&G operators should keep an eye on?


Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 3.49.46 PMKP: One emerging concept is the micro-market, which combines the convenience of a vending machine with healthy, daily stocked options more typical of a grocery store or quick-service restaurant. These micro-markets don’t have any staff. They leverage cashier-less vending technologies—automation, firmware and payment systems—with the core elements of convenience retailing.

Micro-markets present a potential disruption threat to all immediate consumption channels given their relatively low-cost set-up; ability to locate in the buildings where people live and work; and high margin—zero labour cost—appeal.  In absolute terms, this segment is still very small but it has grown over the past three years and could evolve to become a future competition to the C&G channel.

This article appeared in the November/December issue of Convenience Store News Canada.