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Save-On-Foods: Challenges ahead

save on foods produce department

When it comes to facing obstacles large and small, Save-On-Foods BB #:153831 is no different than its rivals.

“This is just a challenging business,” says David Karwacki, CEO at The Star Group BB #:134817 in Saskatoon, SK. “Staying relevant, nimble, and cutting-edge is so important to continue capturing the imagination of consumers. One day you have the right recipe, and the next day you don’t.”

Stewart Samuel, program director for Canada at IGD, based in Watford, U.K., agrees.

“In the short term, the business will have to work harder than its competitors to shout about value. An increasing number of consumers are turning more to discount stores given the pressures many household budgets are feeling. But Save-On-Foods has strengths it can draw on, including a recognized promotional program and a well-developed private label.”

Most supermarkets followed Save-On-Foods into home delivery, where it was an early player in the region, with some success during Covid. Post-lockdown, it has been more difficult to find the right balance in this space.

“Home delivery and ordering online will be key to the produce department in the future, and it will be a challenge for everyone,” posits Karwacki. “Digital marketing in this space is different from what traditional retailers might be used to, and it’s changing more rapidly than expected. Whoever is able to find the magic in this space will be a real winner.”

“Longer-term Save-On-Foods is going to see more online capacity come on-stream in the region, challenging its channel share,” adds Samuel. “Sobeys will expand its Voilà proposition following the completion of two new customer fulfillment centers in the region as part of its partnership with Ocado over the next two to three years.

“But Save-On-Foods was an early adopter of online shopping and is already putting initiatives in place to protect its business,” Samuel says, “including the opening of its first automated micro-fulfillment center.”

For the most part, our experts view Save-On-Foods as well positioned for continued success.

“The company doesn’t cut corners or settle for diluted efforts,” says Carole Spieckerman, president of Spieckerman Retail in Bentonville, AR. “Save-On-Foods is a great example of how taking a holistic approach pays off over time.”

This is an excerpt from the March/April 2023 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine’s Canada Supplement. Click here to read the whole supplement.