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Our top five stories in 2023
Created on 12/22/2023 11:11:33 AM

December 22, 2023 — From grappling with the ongoing impacts of inflation, responding to regulatory pressures, and navigating shifting consumer behaviours, 2023 was a landmark year for Canada’s food, health, and consumer products industry. Here are our top five stories in 2023:

#5 — Our annual, premiere event wows a sold-out crowd 
Designed to offer a rare opportunity for senior leaders to pause from the chaos of their everyday operations, connect with peers, and gain fresh perspectives on our ever-evolving industry, our annual CEO & Executive Leadership Conference, hosted each October in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, never fails to impress. This year’s conference was enjoyed by a sold-out crowd, a testament to the deep engagement of our industry leaders. 

The conference, spanning two days, celebrated the resilience and adaptability of our industry leaders. A diverse array of speakers, from tech experts to economists to an Olympic gold medalist, brought their unique perspectives to the theme of riding the “Waves of Change.” Attendees were also given the opportunity to honour the industry contributions and leadership of Dino Bianco, CEO of Kruger Products Inc., as he received FHCP’s Award of Distinction.  

Complementing the insightful keynotes, our talented events team provided top-notch culinary experiences, influenced by McCormick’s flavour forecast, and unparalleled networking opportunities, which have become a cornerstone of the event’s appeal.

To reminisce on all the fun from this year’s event, or check out what was missed, please view the post-conference magazine or highlight video

#4 — Industry-led rules on food advertising directed at children take effect
Introduced in June 2021, the Code and Guide for the Responsible Advertising of Food and Beverage Products to Children took effect on June 28, ensuring that only food and beverages that meet specified nutrition criteria may be advertised in a manner that is primarily directed to children under the age of 13. 

Developed by the Association of Canadian Advertisers, FHCP, the Canadian Beverage Association, and Restaurants Canada, together with government and a diverse group of stakeholders, the Code achieves the shared goal of protecting children in a direct and cost-effective way across all media platforms. It meets or exceeds the government’s stated aim of protecting children by setting out rules for advertisers of food and beverage products, ensuring a responsible approach to child audiences. 

Advertisers are encouraged to submit all food and beverage advertisements that might reasonably be seen as primarily directed to children, in any media, for review and preclearance by Ad Standards, an independent, non-profit that has been responsible for upholding the standards of the advertising industry for over sixty years. 

The collaborative development and launch of the Code showcase our industry’s commitment to ensuring Canada’s children have continued access to wholesome, nutritious, and affordable food, advertised in a responsible manner. 

#3 — Sustainability pioneers: paving the way for EPR across Canada 
Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy approach where producers are responsible for the end-of-life management of their materials. FHCP continues to lead in advancing a circular economy for plastics, uniting key players with common, collaborative goals on sustainability initiatives. We are closely engaged with the federal government on the pastics agenda, which relies on effective provincial EPR programs. Simply put, there cannot be recycled content without effective recycling programs, and residents cannot recycle materials that are either not recyclable or captured by recycling programs.  

With 2023 marking the official transition to full EPR in Ontario, new EPR regulations in Alberta and New Brunswick, and engagement on program introduction or expansion in almost all provinces and one territory, we offered experiential learning opportunities for our members to see the scale and complexity of recycling systems firsthand, hosting tours at various Material Recovery Facilities in Ontario and Quebec. 

As our industry faces growing regulatory and cost challenges, we continue to seek efficiencies in program delivery and cost containment with industry partners and members, aiming for regulatory harmony and enhanced environmental outcomes.

#2 — Rising food prices require strategic solutions
The rising cost of living in Canada continues to force consumers to make hard choices when they get to the check out, resulting in decreased consumer demand. Our thought leaders have spoken extensively about treating the root causes of inflation as opposed to bandaging the visible symptoms, citing the need to address the constraints that have long held back the full potential of our industry and the risk of losing our existing brands to a more attractive market south of the border.

In its June report on grocery affordability, the House of Commons’ Agriculture and Agri-Food Committee noted that the “relationships in the food supply chain have a major influence on how prices are transmitted along the supply chain and ultimately to the consumer,” stressing the need to increase transparency and ensure fairness to help ease the complicated factors impacting our grocery bills. 

Recently, our CEO, Michael Graydon, appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculure and Agri-Food. He expressed concerns about the retailer-focused approach in current discussions and the effects of government overregulation on food inflation, highlighting manufacturers’ increased operational costs. Most importantly, Graydon underscored the urgent need for a universally implemented Code of Conduct, advocating for government intervention to ensure full participation. 

#1 — At the verge of industry transformation: Adopting a Grocery Code of Conduct 
The newly developed Grocery Code of Conduct is a crucial step towards a more fair and competitive grocery sector in Canada, addressing the consolidation issue where five companies dominate over 80% of grocery and drug store sales. This power imbalance has long curbed competition and innovation, negatively impacting both consumers and industry alike. The Code, born from extensive negotiations and compromises, aims to correct this imbalance.

It's been nearly three years since our inaugural proposal with Empire Company Limited, and the path has not been without challenges. Some retailers have lost sight of the Code's fundamental intent, or have sought amendments that risk diluting its purpose, perpetuating the very imbalances the Code aims to resolve and threatening the mission laid out by the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers

The recent statement of support by Ministers MacAulay and Lamontagne for a universally adopted Code — with 2 in 3 Canadians believing a Code is a good idea and 70% supporting government enforcement on non-compliant retailers — are promising signs. A successful Code and implementation require a cultural shift across the entire supply chain. We remain committed to ensuring this takes place.