Our customers count on us to provide the products and services that nurture them and their families. Meeting this commitment takes partnerships with suppliers, processors, manufacturers and all the people involved in getting what our customers need from field to table. Fostering respectful supplier partnerships where we work together to deliver value has always been part of our approach to business—and it is more important than ever during the sector-wide transition required to tackle climate change.
Fiscal 2022 Performance Highlight
350+ women entrepreneurs supported in fiscal 2022*.
*Excludes produce and SKUs listed in Quebec only
Working in partnership with our suppliers is part of what sets our business apart. We believe everyone in our industry deserves to be treated fairly—which is why we are helping to lead efforts to create a Grocery Code of Conduct in Canada.
We do this because it is the right thing to do, and also because strengthening our supplier partnerships is critical to the successful execution of our business strategy and making progress on our bold new Climate Action Plan. We work with our suppliers to drive innovation, support local products and producers, tackle major shared challenges and better serve our customers.
Strong supplier partnerships are a critical component of our national, functionally led organization. Supplier engagement, feedback and support ensure we successfully build growth plans for key categories, find opportunities to create efficiencies, and provide quality products and value to our customers.
Working with our supplier partners, we find new ways to support our stores and inspire our customers, while never losing sight of the need to deliver compelling value and to build cost and margin discipline. This process allows us to streamline our business to focus on investments and resources that add real value to us and our customers.
Given the interdependencies between our business strategy and supplier partner relationships, our Board of Directors and Executive Committee have high-level oversight of this area as part of their focus on our strategy and growth.
Operational responsibility for supplier partnerships sits under three streams:
(under Field Merchandising)
Our Director of National Sourcing is responsible for creating a national sourcing strategy on which all supplier negotiations, policies and procedures will be based. Reporting to our SVP National Sourcing & Own Brands, the Director is also an advocate for our business on all related industry and government issues.
In fiscal 2022 we created a new National Sourcing Team to strengthen our partnerships and increase collaboration between our supplier partners and all our merchandising teams. The National Sourcing Team is responsible for negotiating supplier contracts on behalf of all our banners and overseeing cost negotiations, revenue agreements and internal merchandising policies. This national approach means we collaborate more efficiently with suppliers while also securing greater investments from them, delivering value for our customers. It’s a win-win.
In addition to the great work we’re doing with national suppliers, we take great pride in sourcing from local farms and businesses across the country. This area of our business is led by our VP Merchandising—Community & Field Merchandising, with the support of dedicated teammates who are part of our National Merchandising Team.
We remain focused on supporting local supplier partners in the communities and regions where we live and work, helping them serve local customers and scale their offerings to reach more customers across Canada. In fiscal 2022 we developed a new strategy to foster local products and local entrepreneurs, with goals including improving food security, reducing transportation-related impacts and empowering customers to buy sustainable, local products. Last year we welcomed 258 new local suppliers, who accounted for almost 15 per cent of local sales in our stores. We also helped 51 supplier partners scale so they could reach more customers, including helping to take 14 companies national. In addition to our five regionally based and dedicated Local Development Teams, we support local supplier partners through an annual product roadshow and intake events, and by rolling out portals on our banner websites that make it easier for small companies to engage with us.
Our Strategic Sourcing Team focuses on growth and cost discipline, helping us serve more customers in more places with even better value. Reporting to our Chief Development Officer, the team is led by our SVP Real Estate & Strategic Sourcing and our VP Strategic Sourcing.
Working with our supplier partners is also an important way we drive innovation, helping to inspire our customers with new products and services. For example, we were the first national grocer to partner with a vertical farming provider, joining forces with Infarm in 2020. In fiscal 2022 we strengthened that partnership which will make it possible for even more of our customers nationwide to access sustainable and environmentally friendly produce grown right in our stores or in nearby growing centres. Infarm is building new large-scale growing centres in Calgary, Halifax, Winnipeg and Hamilton. The Hamilton centre will be the largest of its kind in North America, with a growing capacity of 37,000 square feet. In combination with existing growing centres, this expansion will supply more than 1000 of our stores nationally by 2023.
To help our supplier partners grow as entrepreneurs, we partner with a range of initiatives including:
- Venture Park Food Accelerator: Non-profit supporting early-stage entrepreneurs in food and wine industries
- iLaunch Her: Program supporting Black women, racialized women and immigrant women
- R-Purpose MICRO: Business bootcamp focused on sustainability and innovation
In March 2022 IGA launched the IGA Local Accelerator program, designed to support Quebec agri-food companies launch new products with the potential to shake up the industry. The IGA team is investing $1 million annually in this project to support approximately 10 local companies each year. Entrepreneurs receive a combination of practical advice and access to business partners in order to get their products and services to market.
Looking ahead, in fiscal 2023 we are committed to continue building the capacity of our sourcing and merchandising teams around sustainability-related issues relevant to their areas, and we are empowered to work with our supplier partners to improve sustainability along our entire supply chain.
Partnering With Local, Innovative Suppliers
We know our customers want to enjoy and support locally sourced food and products—and we do too. Since 2018 we’ve hosted a series of cross-country roadshows to engage local growers and producers to bring their products into our stores. The roadshows use informative and interactive presentations to illustrate our commitment to local growers, celebrate our existing local partnerships and build new relationships. Some of our most recent winning suppliers include:
A favourite phrase of mine is that it takes a village to raise a child. We can leverage the entire grocery ‘village’ to support sustainability efforts using our passionate experts as guardians. Our opportunities are rooted in connecting and collaborating with key stakeholders, including our own stellar merchandising teams and dynamic supplier partners. I am proud of the leading role we play in fostering better partnerships in our industry, specifically with suppliers. I look forward to advancing all of the good work done to share perspectives, align on goals and spread the knowledge to influence significant positive change for all of us. It is simply the right thing to do.”
Steve Denny, Director National Sourcing
As a family nurturing families, we want to ensure Canadians are taken care of today, tomorrow and in the future. By doing OurPart™ for the environment, we hope to inspire our customers to do theirs. Every step we take together—big or small—can make a difference.Learn More