In light of COVID-19, we are focusing all efforts on helping retailers navigate this crisis.
While we have temporarily switched gears, please rest assured that activities related to the Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards will continue. We will reassess the situation in late April and advise you of the adjusted timelines and when the finalists will be announced.
In the meantime, we encourage you to stay on top of the COVID-19 developments by regularly visiting RCC's COVID-19 update page.
Marcus A. VonAlbrecht
RCC's Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards
Marcus VonAlbrecht is a diversified specialist in the culinary and hospitality industry with over 35 years of professional experience working with clients and students from across Canada and internationally. As a Chef, he has the depth of knowledge in front and back of the house operations and has an active role in the education and development of standards in the culinary profession. He lectures in both management and professional culinary training at colleges in British Columbia. As an international ambassador of the profession, Marcus is frequently taking delegations of Chefs to other countries to showcase exportable products on trade missions for Canada and or in world culinary competitions events where he is a judge and coach for the Canadian team. He has three food publications under his name, coordinated a cookbook for the BC Chefs Association and is a featured monthly writer for several magazines. March 2003, Marcus received the “Chef of the Year for Western Canada" and in 2005, "Chef of the Year for British Columbia” and in 2016, inducted to the Culinary Hall of Fame in Ottawa. Currently he owns a food manufacturing plant, MAVA Foods Ltd and a distillery operation, XFour Vodka Company. These companies provide products for over 4000 stores in Canada. As a consultant, his experience and understanding of the industry has enabled him to set up the VIP Chalets for the Molson Indy, establish a condiment line, “Eat Fresh Eat Local Eat Healthy and Food for Life and successfully bring these Retail Meal Solutions to the BC marketplace.
Author of the book “The Complete Arthritis Health, Diet Guide and Cookbook”, Kim speaks and lectures on healthy eating choices, transforming complex scientific information into easy to understand terms to help her clients get results. Kim is often asked to comment on nutrition issues by local and national journalists and is a guest lecturer at McGill for students in dietetics and medicine. A graduate of McGill University, including an integrated internship at several major Montreal hospitals, she is a member of the Ordre Professionnelle des Dietetistes du Quebec, Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and The Canadian Obesity Network.
Founder and President
Food Distribution Guy
Richard Baker is a skilled strategic branding and award-winning marketing professional. His background stems from 25+ years in the consumer-packaged goods sector - working with some of Canada’s largest national brands such as Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce, Rich Products, and Candle Impressions, in brand development, marketing and business development roles. Today, Richard is the Founder and President of Food Distribution Guy. He helps ensure their clients success is sustainable in the long-term and to assist them in obtaining products distribution through the appropriate channels (traditional grocery, health stores, mass merchandiser, club, general merchandise, C-stores) available for retailing their product.
Director of Marketing and Trade Development
Tammy Barrett has been working within the CPG industry for 24 years and is currently the Director of Marketing and Trade Development for Carlton Cards – the number one greeting card company in Canada. Carlton Cards purpose is to make the world a more thoughtful and caring place. every. single. day. Tammy and her team work closely with the best retail partners in Canada to create dynamic and highly profitable greeting card departments selling the brands Canadians love – Carlton Cards, Papyrus, Recycled Paper Greetings and Cartes Carlton.
Independent consultant, passionate about food, Josée Bédard cumulates nearly 20 years of experience as senior manager in public affairs with recognized companies operating in the food retail and distribution sector in Canada (as LCL and Sobeys Qc). Oriented towards achieving targeted objectives, Josée has accumulated relevant expertise to elaborate and plan successful communication strategies and effective action plans. In planning and supporting change, played a leading role in coordinations internal and external communication activities supporting management strategies, as well as government and industry relations. She lead the launch of new products, managed the production of publications while assuming the role of spokesperson. Accustomed to work within short deadlines, has developed a great ability to manage issues in a demanding context with flexibility and creativity. Foodies, member of the Gourmet Press and Wine Clubs, Josée is always interested by new products.
Communication Manager North America
Marie-Eve compte plus de 15 ans d’expérience dans la gestion de catégorie, le développement de produits et la gestion de la marque au consommateur. Au fil des années, elle a collaboré étroitement avec les équipes de recherche et développement, d’assurance qualité et des ventes afin de faire croître l’offre de produits en lien avec l’évolution du marché, les besoins des clients, et les goûts des consommateurs. Afin de faire rayonner l’expertise de la boulangerie de style artisan au plus grand nombre de clients, elle travaille également à déployer la marque Au Pain Doré au détail. Elle est un membre actif du Comité qui a donné naissance au programme Clean Label chez Bridor, précurseur dans l’industrie. Aujourd’hui, elle est gestionnaire des communications chez Bridor.
Associate Publisher & National Account Manager
Robin Bradley is an Associate Publisher with Mercury Publications in Winnipeg. She has over 15 years of experience working with food and beverage manufacturers with Western Grocer and Health & Wellness Retailer Magazine. Robin has worked closely with large and small food manufacturers launching new products in the grocery and health food business. Her specific areas of expertise include: marketing and communication strategies, advertising and sales. Grateful for working in such an exciting, ever changing industry, Robin enjoys working closely with food and beverage clients to help them get their products on shelves in retailers across Canada.
Cannabis Cooking Company
David is a serial entrepreneur who loves bringing people together to make meaningful, useful, profitable programs and content. He has successfully started marketing and sales departments within top creative agencies and Fortune 1000 corporations; as well as startups in Toronto, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Taiwan. The Cannabis Cooking Company (CCC) combines David's love of quality cannabis, fine dining, business planning, and design.
Nancy began as a merchandiser for L’Oreal, where the product meets the consumer. ‘The art of the sale’ was soon added to Nancy’s skill set when she joined the Ontario food broker William Dunne and Associates. She began working with large Principles such as Kraft, Hunt Wesson, Perrier, Uncle Ben's, and Glad, eventually managing their Non-Food Division and overseeing the development of the Drug and Mass channels. Returning to her cosmetics roots, Nancy moved to Revlon as Director of National Accounts. Her passion for leading teams was illustrated by double digit results and new product launch success. Appointed VP Sales and Marketing for Sally Hansen, the company tripled in size in four short years. Nancy’s creative juices were stimulated with product development projects that she would pioneer in Canada before Global rollout. With the acquisition of Sally Hansen by Coty Inc., a global cosmetic company and the world’s fragrance leader, Nancy remained as VP marketing for the Colour Division, managing Rimmel, Sally Hansen and NYC with continued growth. Most recently Nancy finished a tenure at Clorox Canada. Working along side the Burts Bees team, she led their most successful Cosmetics launch Globally. The team established distribution and market share growth that made brand history. Additional responsibilities included Associate Director of Sales Strategy for Clorox and participation as part of the Sales Leadership Team. Nancy now enjoys consulting projects in numerous categories and is engaged in research for an upcoming book in 2020.
Christiane Chabot is an expert consultant with a strategic vision and a solid track record in the food industry, namely in retail and distribution, foodservice and industrial manufacturing. As part of senior management teams in companies such as Catelli, Loblaw Companies Ltd, Danone, she developed a strong expertise in successfully managing and building teams of professionals in areas such as Food Safety and Quality Assurance, Product Development, Crisis Management and Environment Sustainability . Christiane is now active as a consultant in order to contribute to the growth and success of her clients.
Julie Daigle been working within the agri-food industry for the past 21 years in Quebec and abroad and is currently the business development director, health and nutrition for Quebec International and the director of Quebec NUTRI, a health and nutrition cluster. Quebec NUTRI brings together stakeholders from the food industry who cares about the development and commercialization of added value products contributing to a healthier food offering. Previously, Julie been involved in setting up the food incubator of Quebec city -Mycelium and been helping food start-ups and expanding SMEs providing customized marketing expertise and mentorship for their commercial expansion. Early on, Julie has evolved in the seafood industry with Les Pêcheries Marinard, where she was in charge of markets development at an international level for their biotech by-products. She is passionate about food and packaging innovation and she believes that in our highly competitive industry, being creative and committed in pursuing excellence has to be rewarded.
Director, Product Development Corporate Brands
Metro Brands g.p.
Paula Deane is the Director of Product Development for Corporate Brands at Metro Inc. Paula has a unique combination of product development and business expertise from over 20 years combined experience in the manufacturing, retail and supply sectors. After graduating from the University of Guelph, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, Paula combined her passion for science and food to start her journey in creating innovative products for the Canadian market. Paula started her career at one of North America’s largest food manufacturers as a product development scientist, developing products from concept to commercialization. Several years later, Paula moved to a major grocery retailer as Director of Product Development, where she launched a new 3-tier, 5 sub-brand program reflecting a good, better, best strategy. Afterwards, as Director of Corporate Brands Convenience for a major retail drug chain, Paula managed the private label Convenience portfolio where she developed and launched new brands and revitalized the seasonal programs. Prior to joining Metro, Paula worked with local and international suppliers to bring innovative new products to Canadian retailers. Now at Metro, Paula and her team are focused on developing great tasting, quality products to deliver the best product experience for their customers and earn their long-term loyalty.
Pur-Logic Solutions Inc.
Mohamed graduated from York University in 1991 and articled with one of the "Big 5" accounting firms. He received his designation in the fall of 1993 and for the next 13 years, covered the gamut in the finance and insurance industries. In his spare time, Mohamed serves on Many Non Profit Boards and enjoys cooking and trying different recipes. Presently, Mohamed is Partner in a software consulting firm.
Canadian Grocer Magazine
Shellee Fitzgerald been on the Canadian Grocer team for more than 15 years and is currently Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. Read coast to coast, Canadian Grocer has been serving the grocery industry for more than 130 years. Prior to joining Canadian Grocer, Shellee, a graduate of Queen’s University, worked in communications at the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (now Restaurants Canada).
Vice President and Senior Partner
With 20 years of experience, Manon Genest has solid communications expertise in the political, association, and private sectors. She has held a number of leadership positions, where she learned to develop a strategic approach, set priorities during emergencies, and settle difficult situations quickly and tactfully. She works primarily in business communication, mainly in the agrifood industry. Manon also has a wealth of experience in government and politics thanks to over 10 years of involvement in the federal and provincial political systems. Her community involvement includes sitting on the board of directors of l’Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec
Manager, Gifting Curation
Indigo Books and Music, Inc.
Genna’s trendsetting vision and intuition for collaboration has markedly influenced industry leading assortments in specialty retail for over a decade. Her decisive curatorial style is inspired by years spent exploring markets abroad, seeking delight in craftspeople, hoteliers, restauranteurs and agricultural producers all over the world. In Toronto, she has piloted the lucrative expansions of eminent restaurant group Terroni and gourmet grocer Pusateri’s. Genna recently joined Indigo Books and Music, Inc., one of Canada’s most trusted brands, to launch thoughtfull.co, a first-of-its-kind digital gifting platform powered by emotional intelligence. Her indispensable ability to convey storytelling through visual merchandising animates joy in colleagues and customers alike. Without a doubt, her curiosity for unusual quality will identify the next big thing. Genna is an honours graduate of the University of Toronto with a Joint Specialist in Political Science and Philosophy, with certifications Practical Management, Organizational Behaviour and Baking & Pastry Theory. She is currently studying for Level 3 as a sommelier with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She serves as a judge on the Retail Council of Canada’s Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards panel.
George Guidoni is the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Packaging magazine, published 10 times a year in Toronto by Annex Business Media. George has been the editor of Canada’s only professional magazine serving the country’s packaging and related industries for the last 20 years. Prior to joining Canadian Packaging, George has also served in various chief and/or senior editorial capacities at other prominent trade magazines, is a past recipient of several awards and award nominations in various competitions dedicated to recognizing journalistic excellence and achievement.
Catherine Lefebvre is cohosting the food podcast, On s'appelle et on déjeune on Radio-Canada. She is also the author of Sucre, vérités et conséquences, a book about sugar, its history and impact on health and the environment. She also writes for food travel stories for web and printed media, such as Le Devoir, ELLE Québec and Beside magazine.
Director of Marketing
Jinny joined Lantic Inc. in Oct 2014 and is currently Director of Marketing responsible for new product development and different areas of marketing, including strategic planning, brand management, promotions, research, new concepts, grocery and packaging. Most recently, she has led Lantic Inc’s efforts into diversifying into a line of award winning nature-inspired sweeteners. Having worked in the CPG industries for over 20+ years, she has started her career as a Food Product Developer at Campbell’s, focusing on developing new technology and product innovations. With a passion for foods, consumer trends and retail launch, Jinny moved over to marketing leading product portfolios and marketing strategies for companies such as Pinnacle Foods and Bayer in various capacities. Jinny holds a degree in Food Science from the University of Guelph, an MBA from Schulich School of Business and a Culinary Baking Certificate from George Brown College.
Brand Development Manager, Western Family
Susan’s love of food led her to train in both England and Canada in professional cooking programs. After graduating from SAIT in Calgary she worked as a food stylist for a few years. Taking a move to Vancouver Susan joined Save On Foods 25 years ago. She has worked in several areas of the company. Most recently she was Category Manager Natural Foods for seven years before joining the Corporate Brand Team. Susan is a Brand Development Manager for the Western Family brand at Save On Foods.
Director, Private Brands
Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc.
Jenny Longo is Director of Private Label at Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc., a position she has held since 1998. A family-owned organization, Longo’s first opened its doors in Toronto in 1956 and now boasts 33 stores including 5 small format “The Market” by Longo’s. Grocery Gateway, the leader in online sales of home delivered groceries, is owned and operated by Longo Brothers Fruit Market Inc. since 2004. Inspired by their Founders and their commitment to a Fresh Tradition, the Longo’s team hand selects fresh produce for its stores six days a week. Longo’s food experts are dedicated to exceeding customer expectations by offering the best food experience and a great value to every customer, every time by providing Fresh & Unique Offerings, Everyday Foods & Groceries, Services for Ease, Education and Ideas. Jenny is a keen volunteer board member to a number of organizations including The Board of Directors of the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Ontario, (ICCO), The Board of Directors of Food Starter, The Peel Victim Services, Celebrity Chef Challenge, The Canadian Produce Marketing Association,National Convention Sponsorship Committee, as well as a Judge for the 2017 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence Award, and for the Retail Council of Canada’s Canadian Grand Prix and Rogers Product of the Year Awards. Jenny is the Chair of the Longo’s Family Council and a member of the Longo’s Senior Management Leadership Team. Jenny was born and raised in the Toronto area and graduated from Humber College with a Business Administration Diploma and has completed the Cornell University Food Executive Program. Jenny is the recipient of Canadian Grocer Star Woman Award in 2012. Jenny and her husband Rob have three children, Lesaundra (17), James (15), and Romina (11). In her spare time Jenny enjoys cooking, reading, hiking with her dog, boating at the cottage or watching and cheering on her children at their various sporting events.
Cumulating over 35 years of trade and generic marketing with retail experience in organizations like Dairy Farmers of Canada, Launch and Best Brands as well as CPG companies like Colgate-Palmolive and Cadbury (now Mondelez), Gilles works as a consultant for his own consulting firm, GMD Consultant, focused mainly on the retail market, helping small, medium and large companies, and their brands, with their retail and distribution strategies across Canada.
Private Brands, Product Development Manager
Walmart Canada Corp.
Manisha Nagar is the Private Brands, Product Development Manager for Consumables, Health & Wellness for Walmart Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemistry degree and has over 15 years of experience in Private Label Product Development. She has worked on the development of over 5000 Private Label products over the span of her career and is very passionate about Product Development. In a very competitive environment where Private Label strives to be the leader with all retailers, the ability to differentiate Walmart brands by offering a value-added proposition without compromising quality is what makes Manisha shine as a Product Developer. Save Money Live Better!
Food in Canada
Kristy Nudds is the editor of Food in Canada magazine, published 9 times a year by Glacier FarmMedia LP. Food in Canada is the only national magazine dedicated to food and beverage manufacturing and has helped Canadian food and beverage executives make informed decisions for more than 80 years. Kristy has more than 15 years of experience in the agrifood industry and publishing and joined Food in Canada in 2018.
Follow Me Foodie.com
Mijune is an international food personality, founder of FollowMeFoodie.com and judge on Food Network's Top Chef Canada and Iron Chef Canada. Named “Must Follow” by The Social Media Awards, and one of the "World's Most Extreme Foodies" in The Sunday Times, she is also a judge for the BC Product of the Year Award, and Vancouver Magazine Awards.
Susie Erajavic Parker
SPARKER Strategy Group
Susie Erjavec Parker is the owner of SPARKER Strategy Group, Winnipeg's first and only social media and public relations agency. Susie is a frequent speaker and media commentator on the current and future state of social media having been featured on CBC, CTV, Global News, The Globe and Mail, Moneysense Magazine, Corus Radio, and more. She consults on public relations, marketing trends, and how these intersect with consumer behaviour. Susie is also the founder and managing editor of WinnipegMom.ca, a lifestyle site for Winnipeg parents and the businesses and brands that serve them.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Joann Perron is a Senior Analyst for the food and beverage processing industry, which is one of the largest manufacturing sectors in Canada. Focusing on the economic development of the sector, one of her major responsibilities is coordinating the Food Processing Industry Roundtable, which is the primary engagement mechanism for the department with respect to the food and beverage processing industry. Joann has been working with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada for 20 years; she has also served the public as a Senior Policy Analyst and as an Economist. Joann has a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Manitoba.
Store Brands Specialist
Federated Co-operatives Ltd.
After completing a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing, Nena started her career in marketing consulting where she created business and marketing plans for small and medium sized companies. Eventually her love of food took over and she was excited to start a career in the food industry. Her career at Federated Co-operatives Ltd. (FCL) started in category management, but her ultimate passion for Store Brands and Product Development followed shortly thereafter. Nena works in a small team that creates and manages FCL’s Store Brands portfolio.
Executive Assistant to the President
Quality Foods Ltd.
Dianna has been with Quality Foods’ since their inception in 1982 in downtown Qualicum Beach, BC. At that time she had many roles in the small first store, including wrapping meat and hand-printing all of the store’s display signage. She has seen and affected change in the company’s growth over 36 years, and she’s now a member of the company’s senior executive and continues to wear many hats. She started and manages A Step Above, a unique upstairs giftware and kitchen store-within-store concept, while being Executive Assistant to the company president, overseeing the store’s Q-Card program, community event sponsorships and more.
Lead specialist strategy & innovation, deli and fine cheese
Embaucher au poste de commis au département de la charcuterie et fromage chez IGA à l’âge de 16 ans, j’ai rapidement gravis les échelons pour me retrouver gérante 3 ans après mon embauche. Mon intensité et ma persévérance m’ont conduit au poste de spécialiste de charcuterie, fromage et prêt à manger à 24 ans. Depuis maintenant 22 ans que je me passionne pour le domaine de l’alimentation. Œuvrant pour plusieurs lignes d’affaire au sein de la compagnie Sobeys, j’ai également eu le plaisir de travailler pour la compagnie Olymel. Ma passion m’a conduit à gravir les échelons dans mon domaine et j’occupe maintenant le poste de chef spécialiste de la stratégie et de l’innovation pour le département de charcuterie et fromage pour les bannières IGA et IGA Extra chez Sobeys. Mon défi est de rester à l’affût des tendances du marché, créer des innovations à la hauteur des attentes de nos clients et de transmette ma passion aux employés de la charcuterie et fromage de notre bannière.
Founder & Chief Epicurean Officer
Jusep is a self-proclaimed international foodie. Having visited over 55 countries, his passion for adventure and food culminated in the founding of his Food Tour business in 2016 called Chopsticks+Forks. With the #1 rated Food Tour Operator in Toronto, Jusep celebrates the city’s amazing ethnic diversity through food by showcasing the cuisines from around the globe on his culinary tours. Having hosted international celebrities, tourists and locals, Jusep strives to connect people to cultures through the most viable way possible… Food!
Executive Vice President, Media Strategy
Grocery Business Magazine
A 40 year veteran in the business (partner and SVP at Wm. Dunne & Associates and a member of the Sales Leadership Team at Clorox), Jim has represented well-known companies / brands, called on almost 100 different customers, sold thousands of skus, attended many trade events and represented the industry at the highest levels. He is currently Brand Ambassador at Grocery Business Magazine.
Retail Brand Consultant
Paula Zivot has always had a “feel” for food and design. Combining that innate sense with her strong work ethic, powerful intuition and tremendous foresight that allows her to connect dots others haven’t even considered, created the perfect recipe for success, and made Paula a well-respected retail brand executive. Her roster of high-powered, iconic clients for whom she has developed Premium private brand programs for giants including A&P, Dominion, Loblaws, Safeway, Stop’n Shop, Wegmans as well as Zellers and Hudson’s Bay Company. There is little in the business that Paula has not achieved, working across all categories; taking products from concept to fruition. A true trend-setter, Paula launched Martha Stewart in Canada and secured and developed the Gloria Vanderbilt home brand for Zellers, has seen her passion and dedication for “all things food” take her across the globe and back, including her role as a perishable foods consultant in Brussels, where she worked her magic for clients in North America, France and Italy. A graduate of Le Cordon Blue de Paris, Paula thinks both inside and outside of the box as her two Clio awards for packaging and design would attest. Married with 3 children, this Winnipeg native and Toronto resident, is a self-described “foodie” and cinephile who enjoys combining both passions to entertain her friends and family.