The morning briefing to a pre-budget summit at the National Capital Commission in downtown Ottawa featured a Sobeys food and general manager who had plenty to say about the future of food sales.
“Food sales in today’s world are so fragmented as to be almost meaningless,” Kelly Regan said.
“Where are people going for food?”
“Where’s their path from where they are to where they want to go?”
The grocery chain’s C3 strategy refers to the idea that people are becoming more picky about what they eat, based on the social trend of having options rather than the need to go to a restaurant.
“So, a lot of people are sitting at home, eating with their family, versus going out and eating out in the evening,” Regan said.
“Those who are going out and dining out in the evening, they’re doing it from home, in the kitchen.”
Sobeys implemented similar options for grocery shopping as soon as they realized the shift was coming, such as a standalone section at its Edmonton location called Coves, which combines fresh produce, prepared meals and groceries into one place.
It’s also working on integrating grocery shopping and delivery services together, so that the homebound customer doesn’t have to wait in lines at a store.
But in addition to food-delivery options, an area where Sobeys is working to take hold is “health food” (a big buzzword at food conferences in Canada lately).
“We see a lot of customers, particularly on the high end, but also everyday, saying, ‘Hey, I can’t eat all the dairy products that I used to eat,’” Regan said.
“This is a way for me to feel good with the food I’m eating, without putting a lot of calories.”
For Sobeys, health-food options fit into the company’s master plan, which is a multi-faceted push to become a national food retailer and one that targets a higher-end customer with better grocery options.
The Ottawa showcase featured a juice bar, raw-food sandwich shop and pizza shop at the corner of Sparks Street and the Canada Line.