New PayBright Consumer Report Reveals That Offering Deals, Flexible Payment Options, and Safety Will Be Key to Canadian Retailer Success in 2021

Payment options

A new report, The 2021 Canadian Consumer Trends Guide: Reimagining Retail and E-tail Beyond the Pandemic, predicts e-commerce retailers offering increased value and diverse payment options will attract the attention of Canadian shoppers this year.

Published by PayBright, one of Canada’s leading providers of installment payment plans, the report is designed for retailers seeking to understand and anticipate consumer behaviour in 2021, and make concrete, data-informed business decisions. This is especially crucial as Canadians gain access to vaccines and look ahead to living (and shopping) in a post-pandemic world.

The inaugural report is informed by a PayBright-sponsored survey of 2,500 Canadians across all regions, conducted in October of 2020. From their candid responses emerged several actionable insights into:

  • The products Canadians will be shopping for;
  • The payment options Canadians will want and expect;
  • Canadians’ preferred channels (in-store or online);
  • The major motivators accelerating consumers’ purchasing decisions; and
  • The psychology behind spending in a mid-and post-vaccine world.

PayBright’s 24-page consumer report reveals dozens of key insights that will help Canadian retailers make actionable business decisions this year, including the following:

  1. Canadians are most looking forward to travel, socializing, and serenity in a post-pandemic world.

    PayBright asked Canadians what they were most looking forward to post-pandemic, finding that spending time with family (56%); peace of mind (55%); and travelling (54%) topped the list for respondents. The report also found that nearly half of Canadians will likely invest in social activities (40%); mental health and well-being (38%); physical health (37%); financial preparedness and savings (34%); and home improvement (23%) this year.

  2. With deals and sales top of mind, Canadians are planning to lower their budgets and spend with more scrutiny in 2021.

    Nearly 40% of Canadians are lowering their intended budget for 2021 for several reasons, including spending less in general (38%); a COVID-specific change to their financial status (24%); a dedication to paying off current debts (17%); and a weariness around shopping during a pandemic (14%).

  3. Canadians want and expect a buy-now-pay-later option like PayBright when they reach checkout in 2021, regardless of the channels on which they shop.

    While a popular option across age groups, in particular, Millennials and Gen Z-ers overwhelmingly want and expect diverse payment options when shopping online in 2021, with 65% of 35- to 44-year-olds64% of 25- to 34-year-olds, and 61% of 18- to -24 year-olds indicating it is an important purchase driver.

“At the start of another unprecedented year, PayBright is continuing to help prepare retailers to meet the ever-changing needs and circumstances of Canadians in 2021,” says Wayne Pommen, Senior Vice President of PayBright, an Affirm company. “We are thrilled to launch this annual report and give merchants the freshest and most accurate data available for them to make actionable insights that will help them thrive during these otherwise unpredictable times.”

Gain full insight into how Canadians are planning to shop this year. Read the PayBright 2021 Trends Report here.

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Just One More – This Holiday Season, Your Time Might Be The Best Gift You Can Give

festive zoom

This holiday season The GenWell Project is challenging Canadians to make the world a happier and healthier place by reaching out and making Just One More connection

Everybody has the ability to make a difference in someone’s life this holiday season. That’s the message behind The GenWell Project’s Just One More challenge that launched last week – continuing a message it has been sharing with Canadians during the pandemic.

The GenWell Project is encouraging people to think of Just One More person, team or group that they can reach out to this holiday season. Just One More – it could be a group of old friends, an elderly neighbour, some old colleagues, a relative in another city or the extended family that you haven’t seen for a while. Whoever it is, the important thing is to take the idea and make it happen, for your health or the health of those you connect with.

We all need human connection. It is vital to our physical and mental well-being, happiness and longevity, and in a holiday season that will be defined by lockdowns and physical distancing, we need to make the effort to connect (virtually or stay connected), with others more than ever. The GenWell Project wants to be the reminder about the importance of human connection and that we all have the power to make a difference in the lives of others and in our own lives, through a simple conversation and letting people know they are not alone.

“By reaching out to that one extra person this season, you’ll not only be doing yourself some good, you will also be helping the people you connect with. Who knows, that one call, Facetime or Zoom chat might make all the difference in the world to someone who has been feeling the negative impact of this period of increased physical distancing,” said Pete Bombaci, founder of The GenWell Project. “We are asking people for their time and connection. This holiday season, they really might be the best gifts that you can give to others.”

There are plenty of ways to reach out to Just One More this holiday season – here are a few suggestions to get things started: 

  • Make your holiday cards count – along with a message of season’s greetings, include an invitation to connect (safely) sometime over the holidays or early in the New Year.
  • Leave a note to let your neighbours know you are around to lend a hand if needed.
  • Life can be pretty busy at times, so why not take the initiative and book a time to connect.
  • Simulcast a movie or game with a friend or colleague.
  • Drop off a treat – it’s a fun and thoughtful way to reach out to a neighbour or friend.

Don’t assume everyone you know feels connected. Please think of those that maybe struggling with the pandemic and reach out to them. Together we can make the world a happier and healthier place one virtual conversation at a time. Stay safe, stay healthy and stay connected.

For more information, or to connect with us online, please visit https://genwellproject.org/.

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Canada Nickel Signs Groundbreaking Memorandum of Understanding with Taykwa Tagamou Nation on The Crawford Nickel-Cobalt Sulphide Project

partnership

Canada Nickel Company Inc. is pleased to announce that the Company has signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (“MOU”) with Taykwa Tagamou Nation (“TTN”) , with the objective of establishing a long-term, mutually beneficial business relationship.

“Canada Nickel is fully committed to the responsible development of the Crawford Nickel-Cobalt Sulphide project to deliver NetZero Nickel and Cobalt products. From the very beginning, our approach has been to work with First Nations and local stakeholders as partners in order to create shared value through economic opportunities, while also being respectful and responsible stewards of the natural environment.  We welcome their innovative partnering approach and their support of our efforts to move forward on the development, permitting and construction of the project.” said Mark Selby, Chair and CEO of Canada Nickel. “Canada Nickel acknowledges TTN in their commitment to protect and enhance the land and resource-based economy within their Traditional Territory. We are grateful for the open and constructive communications we have had with them and look forward to moving forward together in the same spirit of partnership.”

TTN Electrical Transmission Project

As described in the MOU between TTN and Canada Nickel, TTN has already arranged access to capital so that it can own and develop the electrical transmission assets that will be necessary to supply Crawford with cost-effective and reliable power.  Subject to entering definitive agreements based on this non-binding MOU, Canada Nickel would rent these assets from TTN at a fair market rate over the life of the mine or twenty years (whichever comes first) and TTN would be granted an option to acquire a direct minority interest in Canada Nickel at fair commercial terms.  The Company and TTN are considering other mutually beneficial business ventures.

“Our community favours a development project like Canada Nickel’s that provides a positive economic impact, minimal environmental impacts with a commitment to deliver NetZero products, and has the foresight to engage with Taykwa Tagamou during the early stages of development,” said Chief Bruce Archibald, Taykwa Tagamou Nation. 

TTN has made similar commitments to facilitating sustainable development through its investments to bring clean hydro electric power to industry and communities. TTN has also been a keen advocate with the Independent Electrical System Operator of Ontario (IESO) for upgrading and expanding the energy transmission network on their Traditional Lands.

The Chief concluded that, “We are ready to support Canada Nickel’s Crawford project through the backing of our strong investment consortium in Canada and the US, and with the deep utility project and operation experience we have on our team.”  In 2017, TTN, through its subsidiary Coral Rapids Power, co-invested with Ontario Power Generation, in the 28 MW, Peter Sutherland Sr. Generating Station. “Through our success stories and business partnerships, we are taking a business approach to each development opportunity within the Territory that ensures us a seat at the table.  We intend on expanding our generation footprint and launch an independent network for all new and rebuilt transmission projects within our Territory. This network will be fully integrated into the Ontario power grid under the oversight of the IESO.”

Ontario Supports First Nation and Industry Alliances

Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines; Minister of Indigenous Affairs congratulated both parties on reaching such a historic agreement.

“I congratulate Taykwa Tagamou Nation and Canada Nickel on the signing of their historic Memorandum of Understanding. Our government is proud to support First Nation-industry partnerships like TTN and Canada Nickel’s that create real economic development and job opportunities in Northern Ontario,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines; Minister of Indigenous Affairs.

“Innovative partnerships like this one are outstanding examples of how First Nations and Ontario’s mining industry are leading the way in sustainable business development and corporate social responsibility. With TTN’s partnership and leadership in the region, the Crawford Nickel-Cobalt project is well-positioned to deliver the zero-carbon nickel and cobalt that the electric vehicle industry will need in the coming decades.”

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Post-pandemic, nearly half of Canadians intend to order food online weekly

online shopping

The online food boom is real—and it’s here to stay. 

The Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, in partnership with data insights firm Caddle, surveyed 7,290 Canadians in early November. The report, “The impact of COVID-19 on the food industry and e-commerce,” looks at what online food services Canadians are using and why.

The survey found that 63.8% of Canadians have ordered food online in some capacity over the last six months. A total of 31.3% have used curbside pickup or home-delivery services from grocery retailers in that time frame. That’s followed by food delivered directly from a restaurant (28.6%), a delivery app such as Uber Eats or Skip the Dishes (26.3%), meal kits from providers like Chef’s Plate and HelloFresh (12.8%), and farmers’ market items using local delivery services (4.1%).

The results indicate that Canadians’ online food-shopping habits will stick. Before the pandemic, 29.6% of Canadians said they ordered food online once a week. In the last six months, that went up to 45.4%. When asked if they intend to order food online at least once a week after the pandemic, nearly half (49.4%) said yes.

“There is a momentum and [the results] won’t come as a surprise for the grocery industry because we’re seeing more and more companies invest in this space,” says Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “Most grocers in the Canadian marketplace are looking at the long game and the long game is clearly there. If you’re spending millions or billions on e-commerce, the demand is going to be there.”

Convenience is the most popular reason Canadians ordered food online (33.8%). This is followed by concern about the virus and their health (13.8%) and mandatory self-isolation (6.9%). When it comes to what they’re buying, the most popular items are fast food (33.1%), followed by fruits and vegetables (22%), dairy products (21.5%), and bakery (20.6%).

Respondents were also asked what they dislike most about ordering food online. The top five reasons are: I can’t see the food before I purchase it (17.9%), I am concerned about the quality of the food (14.6%), unconfirmed product substitutions (9.2%), I do not like other people touching my food (8.6%), and packaging that is not environmentally friendly (3.1%).

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Global Companies Partner with Correlation One to Increase Diversity in the Data & AI Jobs of the Future

diverse office

Correlation One, a data analytics training and assessments technology company, today announced the first group of global companies who have pledged their support of the “Data Science for All (DS4A)/ Empowerment” program, a virtual data analytics training and jobs program made available for free to U.S. students and professionals from underrepresented communities, including Black, Latinx, LGBTQ+, women, and U.S. military veterans.

By sponsoring DS4A/ Empowerment, companies create fellowships that allow participants to partake at no cost and offer invaluable mentorship opportunities. Correlation One and the program sponsors together have the goal of training 10,000 people over the next three years.

The program sponsors include: Anaplan, Match Group, Citadel and Citadel Securities, Point72 Asset Management, Two Sigma, Marshall Wace, IHS Markit, Johnson & Johnson, Gilead Sciences, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Senior executives from these organizations have endorsed this program:

  • “Supporting Correlation One is aligned with our values as a company. We must stay laser-focused on tearing down systemic barriers for communities of color. Education is an important first step, but so is providing job skills training that enables people to lift themselves up,” said Frank Calderoni, Chief Executive Officer, Anaplan. “In addition, providing mentorship and empowerment are critical to helping people be successful. When one of us does better, we all do better.”
  • “Investing in initiatives that create greater opportunities for students of all backgrounds continues to be important to us at Citadel and Citadel Securities,” said Gerald Beeson, Chief Operating Officer at Citadel. “This program will empower those underrepresented in data science with the tools and confidence to help make their aspirations a reality – and will help shape the future of finance and beyond.”
  • “Point72 is proud to partner with Correlation One on their DS4A/Empowerment to help increase diversity in the data science field,” said Matthew Granade, Chief Market Intelligence Officer, Point72. “Data and AI are changing how industries operate, but ultimately these tools are only as effective as the people analyzing the numbers and building the models. We use data across our Firm and finding and training the next generation of great data scientists is critical to our success. Diversity is an integral part of that effort – our ability to succeed is dependent on people who see things other people miss and recognize developments other people do not.”

Participants in the program will receive 13 weeks of training led by an instructor team from Ivy League universities. In addition, participants will be connected with mentors from sponsoring organizations who will provide professional development and career coaching. At the end of the program, they will be connected with opportunities at leading enterprises across the business, financial services, technology, healthcare, consulting, and consumer sectors.

“Today, there is no marketplace for enterprises to find vetted, trained, job-ready, diverse talent. We are creating that marketplace, and re-imagining the education-to-jobs pathway as we do so. By training this talent in data skills and connecting them to economic opportunity, we hope to unlock diverse human potential at scale,” said Sham Mustafa and Rasheed Sabar, Correlation One Co-Founders and Co-CEOs. “Our corporate partners make this program possible and in doing so, show their strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, and eliminating barriers to accessing the jobs of tomorrow.”

 

About Data Science for All (DS4A)

The Data Science for All (DS4A) initiative was launched by Correlation One to provide data and analytics training programs dedicated to advancing women and underrepresented minorities in data science, and promoting a more inclusive global AI ecosystem.  DS4A/ Empowerment is the largest program launched to date.

The first DS4A/ Empowerment cohort commenced their training on October 24, 2020. Since launching applications for the first 500-person cohort in Fall 2020, DS4A/ Empowerment has seen significant traction on multiple fronts:

  • Over 8,300 applications were received from candidates in 48 states.
  • The diversity of accepted participants is robust, with 57% identifying as female, 58% black or African-American, 32% Latinx or Hispanic, and 21% identifying as LGBTQ+. In addition, the program will include members of additional underrepresented groups, including veterans, refugees, and immigrants.
  • The program is supported by partnerships with 30+ organizations, including the National Society of Black Engineers, HBCU Connect, The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Black Girls Code, and Hire Heroes.
  • Hundreds of individuals who have applied to the program attended or are currently attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), with representation from over 35 HBCUs nationally.
  • Applicants are alumni or current students (at the undergraduate through postdoctoral level) at over 400 different universities.

Learn more about the stories of the Fellows in this program through these video testimonials: https://blog.correlation-one.com/c1insights.blog/meet-the-class-of-fall-2020-ds4a-empowerment/

For more information about the program, please visit: https://www.correlation-one.com/ds4a-empowerment

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Canada Launches Major Initiative in Advanced Air Mobility

canada air

Transportation, research and government partners create Vancouver-based consortium to accelerate the implementation of electric and hydrogen powered, vertical takeoff flight in Canada.

The future of flight in Canada took a major step forward today with the launch of the Vancouver-based Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM), a multi-stakeholder group that will streamline research, development and commercial operations in the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) sector, globally recognized as the next frontier of commercial aviation.  AAM involves the use of zero-emission, electric or hydrogen fuel cells, and vertical takeoff aircraft to provide transportation, emergency and supply chain services for urban and rural communities. Among the many benefits of these aircraft are greater manoeuverability, less need for ground infrastructure (airport runways), less aircraft noise, reduced fossil fuel consumption, lower costs, shorter travel times and improved safety.

Initiated and created by Canadian Air Mobility and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), there are currently more than twenty partners involved in the national effort. CAAM’s key members include TransLink, Helijet International, British Columbia Institute of Technology, the University of British Columbia, Bell Textron, Iskwew Air, and many of Canada’s leading aerospace stakeholders.

“We’ve established an outstanding group of strategic members to support the design, integration, and implementation of Advanced Air Mobility in Canada,” said JR Hammond, Founder & CEO, Canadian Air Mobility and Executive Director, CAAM. “We look forward to demonstrating the economic viability, environmental benefits and social inclusivity factors of this technology and making Canada a world leader in AAM. To that end, we welcome additional members who share our vision that AAM provides the path toward a safer, healthier, and more efficient mode of transportation.”

In addition to providing transportation within urban and rural areas, AAM aircraft will play a critical life-saving role in emergency response situations by enabling faster air transportation of medical supplies, blood, donor organs, or patients to and from hospitals. It will also improve the emergency response and assessment of natural disasters such as floods and wildfires.

Factors making the Greater Vancouver Area a promising AAM market include: a strong aviation infrastructure base; an existing scheduled helicopter service, with heliports in Vancouver and nearby Victoria and Nanaimo; numerous science and transportation research facilities; the Province of British Columbia and City of Vancouver’s commitment to the decarbonization of transportation; and the Pacific Northwest’s Cascadia corridor (VancouverSeattlePortland), as one of the busiest routes for the movement of goods and people between Canada and the United States.

Among CAAM’s objectives are to create an AAM innovation hub to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow their technology from a low technology readiness level (TRL) to certification and commercialization, while also expanding the AAM sector’s connections to regulators, manufacturers, aviation operators, infrastructure developers, academia, industry, and governments in Canada and internationally.

“The National Research Council of Canada is proud to be a part of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM) consortium since the start,” said Dr. Ibrahim Yimer, the NRC’s Vice-President of Transportation and Manufacturing. “We look forward to working with our 20 partners who are lending their expertise in the Advanced Air Mobility industry to decarbonize transportation,  and create more efficient ways of moving people, goods and services and support more socially connected and integrated communities.”

The future of the new era in aviation means faster medevac services, upwards of 4.2 million AAM travellers over the next 20 years, traveling between downtown Seattle and downtown Vancouver in 1 hour versus 3, expanding connections in remote communities and more importantly, creating new jobs.

For more information, the media and public are invited to view the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility’s white paper which provides further detail on AAM’s missions and services for the Greater Vancouver Area, the Advanced Air Mobility Industry and the importance as well as why Vancouver was selected to be the first region in Canada.

In addition, CAAM hosts a quarterly Digital Open House that provides the public with an opportunity to connect with current stakeholders and learn more about the progress of AAM work in Canada. The next Digital Open House is scheduled for October 30, 2020 from 10:00-12:00 PDT. For more information, please visit the website for registration and future upcoming events. 

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Violife® 100% Vegan Cheese Alternative Products Have Arrived in Canada

violife

The Violife® 100% Vegan cheese alternative family of products has arrived throughout Canada for cheese-loving consumers, just in time for dairy-free holiday cooking and baking.

Introduced nationally by Upfield, the world’s largest plant-based food company, Violife 100% Vegan cheese alternative products can be enjoyed straight from the package; stirred, sprinkled or sliced to add to a favourite dish; or, proudly served on a vegan charcuterie board.  Non-dairy, non-GMO, and free of nuts, soy, gluten and lactose, a range of Violife products are available now in the dairy, produce and natural foods sections at major and specialty food retailers across Canada.

“We are thrilled to bring the taste and versatility of cheese to cheese-loving Canadians, but without the dairy,” said Shoshana Price, Brand Director, Upfield Canada. “Violife can be enjoyed by everyone – whether they’re vegan, dairy-free, or wanting to eat more plant-forward. As more and more Canadians switch to a plant-based diet, Violife offers the tasty indulgence of a delicious traditional dairy cheese but made with the goodness of plants.”

 

Violife to be ‘Made in Canada’

In 2021, Canada will become the first market ever to produce Violife 100% Vegan products outside of Greece, where the product has been perfected by the founding families for over 20 years.  Canadian-produced Violife will supply cheese-lovers, both nationally within Canada and in the United States, with a tasty vegan alternative to dairy cheese. It will be produced at a new state-of-the-art Upfield facility in Brantford, Ontario.

 

The Violife Story

Violife was created by three friends who wanted to make a tasty alternative to dairy cheese, one that even the biggest cheese lovers would enjoy. Violife has been a pioneer in the vegan cheese alternative industry and today the products are enjoyed by consumers in over 50 countries worldwide.  The brand continues to innovate by creating tasty, delicious flavours and new dairy-free products.

Free of nuts, soy, gluten, lactose, casein and preservatives, Violife 100% Vegan products are made using non-GMO ingredients, including coconut oil, and are kosher-certified.   They are available in the following formats and flavours in Canada:

  • Shreds  – cheddar-style and mozzarella-style
  • Slices – cheddar-style, mature cheddar-style, smoked provolone-style
  • Cream Cheese Alternative – creamy original
  • Wedge – parmesan-style
  • Block – feta-style

Violife 100% Vegan cheese alternative products are available across Canada at major grocery retailers, natural/specialty stores, and vegan shops, with suggested retail product pricing ranging from Cdn $5.79 to Cdn $6.99 per package. 

For more information, or to try Violife in delicious recipes, like Veggie Gnocchi, Raspberry Cream Pie and more, visit www.violifefoods.com/en_ca. To learn more about the Violife story, watch the Violife Epic Movie.

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Multi Listing Services Could Help Estate Agents Achieve 12% Higher Sold Prices

MLS

One feature of the soon to launch OpenBrix property portal is their MLS function, or Multiple Listing Service, and it’s a benefit that Adam Pigott and his team are unashamedly pushing. 

Why? Well simply because it works to help all parties in the property market – not just the seller or the buyer or the agent – but all of them.

 

What is a Multi Listing Service?

An MLS is a database or network established by estate agents to re details on current property stock listed for sale or let. It essentially allows member estate agents to see what stock other estate agents have on their books with the wider goal of connecting buyers and sellers.

It has become the norm in the US and Canada and allows agents to offer properties that fit a buyer’s requirements that they may have otherwise been unable to do, with the agents involved choosing how to split the commission of the sale when working together.

 

Why should UK agents adopt an MLS platform? 

OpenBrix has researched MLS data for the Canadian property market, a market that’s similar in many respects to the UK, to ascertain whether agents that use and promote the MLS actually achieve higher prices for their clients. The answer is that they do – by 12%.

OpenBrix says that Canada residential real estate is a market worth $361billion USD in sales (2019). About half the size of the UK but nonetheless the 8th largest in the world (UK $745bn USD).

In July this year, data suggests that the average Canadian house sold at a value of $571,471 CAD. Whereas those that sold via the Canadian MLS system achieved $640,800 CAD – a difference of 12.1%. This analysis was across a sample size of 42,000 transactions.

If this were translated to the UK market it would suggest that agents could achieve £28,591 more for their sellers than the average UK house price of £235,673 (HM Land Reg). And if agents wanted to look at this purely selfishly, that could equate to earning almost £430 more per sale in fees at a typical 1.5%.

 

As validation of this, leading Canadian real-estate broker Irene Kaushansky of Kaushansky Brown in Toronto offers us this exclusive comment: 

“Having not lived in a real estate world without MLS I personally cannot imagine doing business without it. We have over 58,000 realtors in our Toronto Board but whether it’s that or 5000, or even 500, no matter how connected you are, there is no other way to know all agents and buyers. The more exposure there is for a property, the more buyers have an opportunity to see it and the greater the potential sale price for our sellers.”

“I’ll give you a very current example and it’s only because it happened this week.  A property was listed at $1.439m and after one week we had 47 private showing appointments.  On offer day, we received 5 offers. Here’s the thing – the top price from one local agent was $1.6m but the final sale price we achieved was actually $1.675m from one of two agents from outside the area that I didn’t even know. While this is just one example to illustrate the above, it gives you an idea of the power of MLS exposure in dollar terms.”

 

Adam Pigott, CEO of OpenBrix in an untypically brief comment on the matter ads “Using our MLS system on the OpenBrix portal could make agents and their clients more money. The data proves it and it’s plain for agents to see once they start to be open to the power of this concept. Don’t be left behind.”

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The Future of Meat in Canada is Shifting to Plant-Based Products

beyond meat

By Lisa Kramer, University of Toronto.

The plant-based foods sector is also starting to sizzle. Consumers are increasingly following the advice of the new Canada Food Guide, which highlights the nutritional benefits of protein sources like nuts, beans, legumes, pulses and tofu in place of meat, eggs, fish and dairy products. And these eating habits are expected to stick, with a recent report anticipating that up to 60 per cent of “meat” may come from non-animal sources by the year 2040.

Consistent with these shifts in consumer preferences, plant-based meat company Beyond Meat recently saw its stock price surge almost 40 per cent, after its first performance report as a publicly traded company revealed far better-than-expected sales.

This is the same company that also enjoyed one of the hottest initial public offerings of the year, rising more than 150 per cent on its first day of trading earlier this year. Overall, the stock’s price is up about 400 per cent since its debut.

 

Restaurants, grocers offer plant-based foods

Adapting to shifting consumer preferences, several Canadian restaurant chains have introduced plant-based items to their traditionally meat-laden menus. When A&W Canada launched the Beyond Meat Burger last fall, restaurants across the country sold out within days and took months to restock sufficient supplies to ensure a smooth relaunch.

Tim Hortons now sells vegan breakfast sausagesQuesada introduced tacos made with veggie meat and Earl’s has launched its own Beyond Burger as well as a new vegan menu.

Canadian grocery stores are also catering to consumers’ predilection for plant-based meats. Last month, mainstream supermarkets across the country began carrying the Beyond Burger, with some opting to place the product not in the health food aisles but instead in the butcher section alongside steaks and ribs.

With many consumers avoiding animal-sourced protein, “the opportunity emerges to shift focus to developing and producing alternate types of food,” says DietHive.com.

And some retailers have additionally developed their own in-house varieties of plant-based foods, including the President’s Choice selection of veggie burgers, chicken-less fingers and beef-free crumble. Furthermore, shoppers now face an embarrassment of riches in the dairy section, with anyone seeking to avoid cow’s milk enjoying a choice of beverages made from soy, almond, coconut and oat.

These developments are indicative of a sea change in the market for vegan foods, with demand coming not just from vegetarians. Meat eaters, too, are drawn by the lower health risks associated with non-animal sourced proteins, a desire to reduce the environmental impact of their food choices and concerns about animal welfare.

 

A backlash

But some industry groups are attempting to push back against the plant-based food movement. In January, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency received a complaint about non-dairy products “being labelled as ‘cheese’ when they are allegedly not.”

Likewise, the Quebec Cattle Producers Federation recently expressed concern that calling veggie burgers “plant-based meat” is misleading to consumers, noting that the regulatory definition of meat is “the carcass of a food animal, the blood of a food animal, or a product or by-product of its carcass.” Yum?

But studies support the view that consumers are not the least bit confused by the use of monikers such as “milk” or “meat” in reference to plant-based foods. This makes sense, given the products’ labels tend to feature prominent information about their origins. And so prudent producers and retailers are preparing for the future by catering to consumer preferences for these foods rather than fixating on the past.

An important lesson emerges from another industry that faced a major shift in consumer demand. When digital photography was emerging as a new technology, a then-leader of the photography sector, Kodak, faced a difficult choice.

he company could cannibalize its own camera film sales to become an early leader in the digital space, which would be painful but potentially lucrative. Or it could try to postpone the inevitable and cling to a fading technology. Kodak chose the latter path, and the competition ate their lunch.

Now tech companies like Panasonic, Sony and Samsung stand alongside Canon and Nikon to dominate the world of digital photography, leaving Kodak a mere shadow of its former self.

Forward-looking meat-producing companies must reframe their thinking to recognize that they are in the protein production business. With many consumers avoiding animal-sourced protein, the opportunity emerges to shift focus to developing and producing alternate types of food.

 

Adapting to the future

The federal government stands ready to facilitate such changes, recently introducing more than $150 million in funding for the Proteins Industry Canada “supercluster,” aiming to encourage farmers and entrepreneurs in the Prairies to use new technology to increase the value of Canadian crops such as canola, wheat and pulses.

Another reason such a shift makes sense is the fact that raising animals as food is expensive. To produce a pound of animal-based protein requires many more pounds of crops and litres of water than are needed to produce a pound of plant-based protein.

With a surge in demand for commodities like peas, which are a key ingredient in products like the Beyond Burger, savvy Canadian farmers and producers are pivoting to adapt. Industry giant Maple Leaf Foods, for one, recently announced an investment of US$310 million to expand their plant-based offerings.

With all of these changes, investors in companies that are in the business of producing plant-based food stand to be winners, as does anyone who aims to enjoy the taste and texture of meat without the downsides of conventional meat.

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Foodtastic continues its impressive growth with the purchase of L’Gros Luxe and the opening of several new restaurants

food

Foodtastic Inc. is pleased to announce that it continues its growth strategy with the acquisition of le L’Gros Luxe and Rotisserie de Joliette, and its expansion into the Toronto restaurant market with the opening of its newest Big Rig Kitchen and Brewery.

Peter Mammas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Foodtastic, said, “L’Gros Luxe is a great local Quebec brand and we are excited to welcome it into the Foodtastic family. We are happy to be able to help this great concept through this difficult time, which has affected many restaurants and brands. L’Gros luxe has been a Quebec favorite for several years, serving delicious comfort food and great cocktails.  Our mission is to help the existing franchisees, through our marketing, operations, and buying power. L’Gros Luxe is the perfect conversion concept for many restaurants, and we are already looking at several opportunities in the greater Montreal area, as well as reopening several locations that closed due to COVID 19. This acquisition of a homegrown Quebec business is consistent with our strategy of acquiring quality brands with growth potential that complement our existing brand portfolio.” Said Peter Mammas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Foodtastic.

An important part of the transaction was the retention of Alex Bastide, the creator of L’Gros Luxe, who will retain an equity stake in the concept. “Foodtastic is an amazing company and I’m thrilled to continue being a part of L’Gros Luxe, and its exciting future! With the financial support from Foodtastic we can now expand our operations throughout Quebec.” said Alex Bastide

 

Rotisserie Joliette

“We are very happy to acquire Rotisserie Joliette, the first rotisserie founded in 1960 by the Benny family. The family continued its expansion throughout the province with the Au Coq and Rotisserie Benny brands, both of which are part of the Foodtastic family” added Mr. Mammas

 

Supporting Franchisees, a main concern for Foodtastic

The restaurant industry is traversing a very difficult period caused by COVID 19. Many restaurants were forced to close due to the pandemic, and when they were allowed to re-open it was with limited seating. Foodtastic quickly recognized that our franchisees would need all the support and sales they could get, and we quickly transitioned our brands to take-out and delivery. This immediate action coupled with government programs helped many locations to remain open through the early months and minimize their losses. Foodtastic also eliminated franchise fees while dining rooms were closed at all their sit-down locations.

“Deferring royalties, like many other chains did, would have only pushed the financial burden to our franchisees down the road, we felt we had to step up and help them unconditionally and that is what we did by completely forgiving royalties for 3 months.” 

 

Foodtastic continues with its expansion strategy

Although the restaurant industry is facing a very uncertain future, Foodtastic is continuing its pursuit to expand its current restaurant system. Foodtastic is very pleased to announce that 6 new restaurants have opened in the last few weeks creating over 200 jobs in Quebec City, Montréal, Gatineau and Toronto.

  • Au Coq, 7070 Sherbrooke, Montreal
  • Big Rig, 5860 Mavis, Mississauga
  • Chocolato, 2 Petit Champlain, Québec
  • Monza, 5660 Sherbrooke, Montreal
  • Monza Promenades Gatineau
  • Souvlaki Bar, 105 Ave Guindon, Saint-Sauveur

“We are very pleased with the work our entire team has done which has allowed us to continue with the opening of new locations. Currently we are focused on growing our Rotisserie Benny and Au Coq brands, and will move forward with the opening of 12 new locations over the next year.” Mr. Mammas continued “We realise that the next several months will be challenged for our dining room concepts but believe with the continued help from the government, landlords, and suppliers we will be able to support our franchisees through these difficult times”

 

4 New restaurants will be also be opening in September:

  • Au Coq Gare Centrale
  • Big Rig Richmond Hill
  • La Chambre Blainville
  • Chocolato – Delray Beach USA

 

Acquisitions a major part of the Foodtastic growth plan

Foodtastic has acquired prominent brands over the last 20 months. We will continue to pursue our strategy by investing in acquiring new brands in the next couple years, as well as supporting our existing network.” concluded Mr. Mammas

Foodtastic is the franchisor of multiple restaurant concepts including, Au Coq, La Belle et La Boeuf, Monza, Carlos & Pepe’s, Souvlaki Bar, Nickels, Rotisseries Benny, Chocolato, Big Rig and Bacaro. Foodtastic is a leader in the restaurant franchising business with over 95 restaurants and $180 million in annualized sales.

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