Learning about the Grocery Industry

News, Research 03.29.2017

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An ample aspect of innovation at BCLC entails exposure to the expansive ecosystems our enterprise exist in.

Thanks to Angelo DiLiello and Haida Lane from the Strategic Relationships group at BCLC, we were afforded passes into the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers two day event, the Grocery & Specialty Food West marketplace floor in the Vancouver Convention Centre East Building.

On that densely packed, sample laden showroom floor we were able to learn about the brick and mortar extents of the grocery business, from manufacturers of foodstuffs and consumables big and small, to packaging solutions, marketing methodologies, replete with farmers, importers, shipping, refrigerating, scanning, weighing, cooking, baking, shelving, and displaying in all forms and fashions.

The BC-made jellies and cheeses I tried left me a rabid fan of a number of new brands. I’d not realized learning how cardboard shelving could be custom printed and die-cut would be so engrossing. Getting a free baseball themed hotdog in the homestretch could not have been more appreciated. Discovering that there might actually be such a thing as too much candy is profound. And if you enjoy puns as much as I do, you’d’ve appreciated the fella dressed up as an absorbent paper towel who, when asked for a picture, would strike a “dab” pose for you.

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Not to sound biased, however my favorite part of my time on the floor had to have been hanging out with Angelo and Haida discussing our relationships with our retail partners who carry our products and help us to, in turn, help British Columbia. From national chains to local franchises on Vancouver Island and dotting the mainland, keeping these relationships healthy is imperative for all parties involved.

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As I got to stand back and see how Angelo and Haida knew representatives from our retail partners on a comfortable, sociable first name basis as they discussed upcoming promotions and events, I thought about how with all the innovations around technology in the retail space, what really moves things along is the face to face relationships built over time and experience between suppliers and sellers. Perhaps there is room for innovation around interpersonal professional relationships as well.

On the whole, the Grocery & Specialty Food West is a worthwhile visit, and I wish enterprising students were in attendance here as they had been at the BC Tech Summit. At the least, I felt I’d gone to school and through an educational field exercise that proved totally worthwhile.