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 2023 Performance Highlight
women entrepreneurs supported in fiscal 2023 (across Canada, excluding Quebec).
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 have been a driving force behind advocating for a Grocery Code of Conduct in Canada and will continue to have a strong voice at the table until it is finalized.
We do this because it is the right thing to do, and because strengthening our supplier partnerships is critical to the successful execution of our business strategy and making progress on our 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
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 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.
inspire our customers, while never losing sight of the need to deliver compelling value and 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. Our Executive Committee also provides input and approval on strategic decisions related to ethical and responsible sourcing and receives regular updates on progress on our sourcing commitments.
Operational responsibility for supplier partnerships sits under three streams:
Our Directors of National Sourcing are 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, one of the Directors also serves a unique role as an advocate for our business on key 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 and delivering value for our customers. It’s a win-win.
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. 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.
In fiscal 2023 we continued to implement a 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. We welcomed 194 new local suppliers, an increase of 12 per cent from fiscal 2022. We also helped 20 supplier partners scale regionally so they could reach more customers, including helping to take 11 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 CFO, the team is led by our VP Strategic Sourcing.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a key focus area at Sobeys and extends to our work on supplier partnerships. We recognize and take responsibility for the impact we have on suppliers and their communities, which is why it is imperative we practice inclusive sourcing. Our goal is to better support diversely owned businesses in our supply chain and reflect the communities we serve in our business practices.
Our Supplier Diversity team is responsible for developing a supplier diversity strategy focused on equal opportunity sourcing, diverse supplier mentorship and community connectedness. Supporting diverse suppliers strengthens our supply chain by promoting innovation and addressing the needs of our customers today. Learn more about our approach to DE&I.
Working with our supplier partners is also an important way we drive innovation, helping to inspire our customers with new products and services. Over the past year one of the key areas we’ve been focused on innovating with our suppliers is controlled environment agriculture (CEA). CEA optimizes indoor growing environments, such as greenhouses or vertical farms, creating availability for locally produced fruits and vegetables all year long. CEA enables us to diversify our sourcing and build resilience in our supply chains. Our CEA supplier partners include AquaVerti and La Boîte Maraîchère on salads and lettuce, and Fraise d’hiver for fresh strawberries.
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
In fiscal 2023 IGA continued the IGA Local Accelerator program, designed to support Quebec agri-food companies launch new products that have the potential to shake up the industry. IGA has invested $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 to get their products and services to market.
Looking ahead, in fiscal 2024 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:
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, Sobeys
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