Grocery Trends to look for in 2022

Consumers are continuing the search for meals that are prepared ethically, have high nutritional value and can be delivered in an eco-friendly fashion, but preferably in less than an hour or it’s free. These five trends are all on-brand for 2022:

Vegetarian, But Make It Flex

Flexitarianism (flexible vegetarianism) is a mostly plant-based diet that claims to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health. Flexitarians have mostly vegetarian values but still enjoy meat every now and then. It is the perfect diet for “plant-curious eaters” who feel it’s better for them to not completely give up meat. The rise in popularity of the philosophy is due to people choosing a more ecologically friendly  approach to what they consume by limiting the amount of meat they’re eating and replacing it with plant-based sources. It’s important to note that this trend may offer ample opportunity to the plant-based market, but flexitarians are still more concerned with quality over quantity of meat and plant-based sources alike. 


Make Room For Shrooms

Next on the list are mushrooms, partially due to the previous trend, partially because mushrooms are a versatile and amazingly sustainable nutrient-dense resource. Think thick coins of king oyster mushrooms being used as a replacement for scallops, mushroom powder adding punchy flavour to alternative meats, to varieties like Lion’s Mane adding functional benefits to beverages. Just an 80g portion of mushrooms counts as one of your five-a-day. Full of vitamin B, zinc, potassium and selenium, mushrooms contain a soluble fibre called beta glucan. This compound activates parts of the immune system and can boost the body’s ability to fight infection. The number of small urban farms growing mushrooms is also expected to bloom, and mushroom fibres will even start to proliferate as a cheap, compostable medium for packaging. 

CJR Wholesale Grocers and DairyCentral takes a look at top trends of 2022 for the grocery industry, grocery distributors and dairy distributors

Emphasis On Empathy

Everyone struggled in 2021 in one way or another. After a year of supply chain shortages and sheer confusion, a lot of people are choosing patience and understanding towards each other and some workers who were unfortunately mistreated by customer’s demands prior.  A growing interest in the historical and cultural nature of food and its impact on the climate will only add to what forecasters (optimistically) say will be a new emphasis on kindness. As Jennifer Zigler, the associate director of food and drink at the research firm Mintel, put it: “We’ve all gone through this stressful, anxious couple of years, and there’s that willingness to have some empathy and understanding.”

Spice Up Your Life

The last couple years have really put a focus on home cooking and with that comes the experimental home chef. Adding a variety of herbs and spices to bland old meals or trying something completely new is predicted for many of those who have been stuck in their comfort zone in the kitchen. From traditional spices like garam masala and cardamom to South East Asian flavours like gochujang or American-style barbecue rubs, consumers are showing a growing interest in adding a pop of flavour to their dishes. In fact, sales of herbs and spices have increased this year after a strong 2020. 


Plant-Based Milk, Can You Dig It?

With so many choices of alternative milk available, from almond to oat to rice to soy, the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The plant-based milk following has dug up a new one, however: potatoes. Potato milk is rich in nutrients and creamy in flavour, and another valued addition to the sustainable plant-based product line-up.

The new year is ringing in with another new variant of Covid-19 that continues to fuel economic uncertainty. There are social-justice issues that many are conscious of, as well as concerns for the ever-changing climate. These matters are important and will affect how food is grown, packaged and distributed, all of which is crucial information to the keen consumer of 2022.



Minimum Wage to Increase in New Year

CJR Wholesale Grocers and DairyCentral takes into account the increase in minimum wages of people of Ontario

The Ontario government, by way of Premier Ford, announced they plan on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour come the new year. This change will include servers and other occupations who make regular tips that are traditionally paid in a separate category. 

“Liquor servers have previously received below the general minimum wage, based on the belief customer tipping can make up the difference,” the government said in a news release Tuesday. “However, many of these workers have increasingly seen their tips pooled and redistributed among many staff, making it harder for them to make ends meet.”

Jerry Dias, the Present of Unifor, stood with Doug as he announced,

“For many Ontarians, wages haven’t kept up with the increasing cost of living making it harder than ever to make ends meet,” Ford said. “The least the government can do is ensure we’re making life more affordable for them by putting real dollars in their pocket.”

Quick facts from the government:

  • Due to the pandemic, there have recently been higher than usual increases in the cost of living.
  • The October 2021 annual minimum wage increase was based on the 2020 annual Consumer Price Index increase, which does not reflect the recent increases.
  • A full-time worker making the general minimum wage could see an annual earnings increase of $1,350 in 2022 under the proposed legislation.
  • From January-August 2021, there were 763,500 workers at or below the proposed general minimum wage of $15 in Ontario 
  • Most minimum wage earners are women and nearly 73 percent of working 15 to 19-year-olds are at or below the proposed general minimum wage of $15 per hour.
  • The industries employing the most minimum wage earners are accommodation and food services, and retail trade.
  • Nearly 37 per cent of workers at or below the proposed general minimum wage of $15 per hour are in retail trade and almost 24 per cent are in accommodation and food services.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the announcement comes at a horrible time.

“Many businesses are still grappling with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, including cashflow constraints and the increased cost of doing business,” the chamber’s president and CEO Rocco Rossi said in a statement. “This is no time to add to their costs.”

Dias added that a living wage can vary widely from $16.20 an hour in London, Ontario,to $22 an hour in Toronto which is much higher than the minimum wage coming into effect in January.

“So do I think $15 is wonderful? The answer is no,” Jerry says. “But do I think it’s a good start? The answer is yes.”


CJR Wholesale Grocers and DairyCentral takes into account the increase in minimum wages of people of Ontario

CJR welcomes Ontario’s Minister of Labour and Mississauga-Malton MPP

Hon. Monte McNaughton, Deepak Anand MPP, Rick Rabba, Inder Chohan and Rima Rabba at CJR Wholesale Grocers distribution warehouse


Hon. Monte McNaughton, Deepak Anand MPP, Rick Rabba, Inder Chohan and Rima Rabba at CJR Wholesale Grocers distribution warehouse
Minister of Labour, Trade and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton (middle left), and MPP Deepak Anand (middle right) joined president Rick Rabba (left), marketing director Rima Rabba (right) and CEO Inder Chohan (left), Wednesday, September 8, at CJR Wholesale Grocers and Dairy Central in Mississauga, Ontario, to visit the growing company and meet with its employees. The visit is part of a provincial tour to maintain close dialogue with Ontario’s workers and labour force as all parties work together to support a recovery from the protracted pandemic period.

Eating Right and Early

Analysis on innovation creation by grocers and food service industry for health and wellness packed mornings

Breakfast is back in style, and with it, innovative creations made for mornings.

As predicted, the first meal of the day is once again becoming the most cherished. With people still working from home, many by choice at this point, a lot of folks are finding they have more time to cook with less time commuting, and are taking advantage of this opportunity to nourish themselves. This creates a whole new environment for innovative products for those who are taking part in the breakfast boom.

More time to prepare breakfast is also ramping up consumer interest in new flavours and creative preparation techniques. Marty Weintraub, partner, national retail leader at Deloitte Canada, says “When you’re at home more, there’s more time to cook at a higher quality level.” He goes on to say “We’re seeing this rise of the epicurean home chef. The idea that ‘I can do better than I’ve done before, because now I have the time.’”

Shelley Balanko, senior vice-president of The Hartman Group says “keeping it interesting and eating in a more global way allows consumers to feel a sense of adventure, especially in the last year, when we haven’t been able to travel and explore and have those experiences.” She also notes that consumer’s interest in novelty in their foods is a motivation behind many current trends in the breakfast department. 

Apparently, breakfast boards and platters are one way customers have become more creative with morning meals. Sarah Caron, director of marketing and nutrition for Egg Farmers of Canada says “they’re really popular among both millennials and gen Z. It’s basically a collection of various foods—proteins, pastries, fruits and veggies—all displayed on this beautiful large serving board.” She believes prepackaged breakfast boxes can be another way for grocers to tap into the breakfast board trend, adding “grocers can jump on that trend by creating their own.”

Shoppers hoping to eat healthier also continues to be a key factor in consumer breakfast choices. “Morning occasions tend to be our most health-oriented occasion. We tend to start the day off with the intention to eat healthy,” says Balanko. Egg Farmers’ Caron notes that health is a major reason why many consumers choose eggs in the morning. “Canadians know that eggs are an affordable source of protein and really part of an overall nutritious diet,” she explains.

Experts at Wholefoods forecasted breakfast making a comeback earlier in the year, saying “there’s a whole new lineup of innovative products tailored to people paying more attention to what they eat in the morning.” From big brunches to healthy breakfast boards, mornings are taking back their rightful spot as the most important meal of the day, giving food retailers and advertisers alike a chance to really tap into this market. 



CJR Wholesale Grocers receives prestigious Partner of the Year award

CJR Wholesale Grocers, Ontario-based wholesale grocery distributor recognized by Distribution Canada

Mississauga, Ont., July 13, 2021 – CJR Wholesale Grocers, a prominent, Ontario-based wholesale grocery distributor, was recognized as Partner of the Year at Distribution Canada’s 40th Anniversary Star Awards Gala held virtually on Wednesday, June 23.

Employees at CJR Wholesale Grocers celebrate the company’s recognition as Partner of the Year at the 2021 Star Awards, June 23, 2021, organized by Distribution Canada and Canadian Independent Grocery Buyers Alliance.
Organized by Distribution Canada Inc. and Canadian Independent Grocery Buyers Alliance, the Star Awards celebrate those who make an impact in the independent grocery channel.

“We are honoured to be recognized by our peers,” says Jack Rabba, president and founder of CJR Wholesale Grocers. “Our team is committed to providing highest quality products and services and receiving this award is a testimonial to our team’s dedication in an unprecedented and difficult year.”

The winner of this prestigious award is selected by a committee comprised of representatives from across the country for making a difference in the industry and community.

“Congratulations to the entire CJR team,” says Barry Lanteigne, president of Distribution Canada Inc. and Canadian Independent Grocery Buyers Alliance. “Our members noted – CJR was a go-to partner that helped them meet the critical needs of their consumers throughout the pandemic. The reliable service and perseverance the CJR team demonstrated, even through numerous obstacles, is remarkable and worthy of recognition. It’s what front-line work is all about.”

About CJR Wholesale Grocers

As an independently-owned business serving Ontario’s retailers for 30 years, CJR Wholesale Grocers prides itself in providing retailers and the foodservice industry with a one-stop shop for its grocery, refrigerated, dairy, freezer, and specialty item needs. CJR Supply Chain Solutions is an industry leader in providing customized solutions to leading CPG partners. For more information on CJR Wholesale Grocers, visit

About Distribution Canada Inc.

Distribution Canada Inc. (DCI) was formed as a buying group for “Independent Canadian Grocers”​ in 1981. To date, membership has grown to include independent grocers, small grocery chains, wholesalers, distributors, and convenience store chains. For more information on Distribution Canada Inc., visit

About Canadian Independent Grocery Buyers Alliance

In 2019, Distribution Canada Inc. (DCI) commenced a restructuring for the purpose of ensuring that DCI’s business practices are aligned to current and future changes in the market, as well as to explore potential new growth opportunities. For more information on Canadian Independent Grocery Buyers Alliance, visit


For more information:
Samiha Fariha
Torchia Communications
Cell: 647-268-6687

CJR Wins Partner Of The Year!

DCI, in association with the Canadian Independent Grocery Buyers Alliance (CIGBA), celebrated its 40th Anniversary Mix & Mingle and Star Awards last Wednesday with a virtual gala presented by Howell Data Systems. Its retail members and supplier partners were recognized for significant achievements in the industry within the last year, especially notable due to the COVID-19 crisis. 


CJR Wholesale Grocers won partner of the year award by DCI and Canadian Independent Grocery buyers alliance

Taking the Partner of the Year category was none other than CJR Wholesale Grocers, with many members stating that they were the tried-and-true partner to be of service to during these unprecedented times.

CJR would like to thank our trusted partners, extraordinary employees and loyal customers for their unwavering belief in our consistent ability to provide quality products while being steadfast, unfailing, and calculable.

”Our industry relies on the efforts of our members and partners every day, and I am proud to work with an amazing group of professionals that are passionate about the work they do supporting their teams and communities they serve,” says Barry Lanteigne, DCI/CIGBA President and Director of Operations, “I would like to give special shout out to all the members and partners that submitted nominations, and thanks to our events committee for selecting the winners! I look forward to seeing everyone in person in 2022!”

The CIGBA/DCI Star Awards Gala is part of the annual CIGBA/DCI Business Summit where independents learn, engage, network and celebrate the industry nationwide. For more information, please go to:


Loading vehicles at CJR and DairyCentral Distribution Center servicing the GTA and Southern Ontario.


Ontario’s Post-Covid19 Grocery Industry

Grocery industry trends during pandemic observed by CJR Wholesale grocers and DairyCentral distributors

COVID-19 has brought to light aspects of food retail that most consumers had formerly taken for granted. The period of panic-buying has curbed as consumers have become accustomed to the “new normal” of grocery shopping. New shopping patterns, with higher reliance on online and delivery options, have become commonplace. With customers’ expectations in grocery shopping forever changed, the bar to “thrive” is now set high for all grocery retailers. 

New reports from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) and Deloitte explore trends in Canada’s grocery industry, from customer’s changing habits to the rise in online shopping since the pandemic.  

Customers of all ages, especially the older demographic, have successfully made the shift to online shopping. This has helped generate a rapidly changing landscape for food retail that could be long-lasting. The post-COVID consumer’s focus on health and safety combined with a hectic return to schedules will likely mean the continued high volume of online grocery shopping and curbside pickup. These shifts have produced an economic climate ready for alteration, with a call to “realign supply chains, redefine what parts of the food workforce are essential, and gain a deeper understanding of how to connect with loyal customers through social media.”

 According to Deloitte:

  • 66% of all respondents—and 72% of those 35 to 54—say they’re cooking meals at home more than in the previous year;
  • 63% prepares dinner from scratch four to six times a week; 85% spent more on fresh produce;
  • 79% spent more on plant-based milks and other non-dairy products; 72% spent more on meat alternatives; and
  • 40% is spending less on baked desserts, prepared ingredients and hot ready-to-eat meals

Cooking more from home is in alignment with previous trends that had been growing pre-pandemic, such as consumer’s increased interest in their health and wellness, environmental concerns around being sustainable, and reducing waste. 

According to the Deloitte report, the expected increase in dining out when restaurants reopen will not reverse the increased interest in home cooking. “Consumers will continue to add new recipes to their rotations, looking to grocery stores for meal inspirations and expecting more from in-store associates than speedy checkouts,” the report reads.

The pandemic also led Canadians to try new food shopping options for the first time including:

  • 25% tried curb-side pickup;
  • 15% tried grocery delivery;
  • 15% tried third-party food delivery services; and
  • 10% tried meal-kit delivery

The transfer to buying online both in the last few years and as a result of the pandemic has led to a rise in loyalty program memberships and with them, corresponding information. Even if a customer is not officially part of a loyalty program, transactions made online still expand the data of food retailers, as well as its benefits and capabilities. However, explicit rewards programs remain important, especially for larger retailers. 

As a result of these programs, acquisitions, and membership growth, retailers have been able to capitalize on direct contact and access to most consumers in Canada — creating actionable business insights while also developing an offering of a number of services outside grocery. Such a large and loyal platform has the potential to create a new form of competition between the brands that it stocks.

With a shift away from traditional shopping habits, the grocery shopping environment is going to shift dramatically. These changes mean grocery stores have to be ready to evolve and explore how they can meet the needs of their consumers. The focus now should be on “maintaining the momentum gained during the pandemic, identifying which consumer trends of the past year are permanent, and adapting and responding to life after the pandemic”, according to Deloitte. 

Several grocery stores such as Rabba Fine Foods have partnered with delivery platforms to make shopping more accessible to their customers. Check it out here.

Supermarket Heroes

CJR & DairyCentral studies the grocery industry and distributor trends amidst the global pandemic

Many grocery workers, once hailed heroes, are struggling with anxiety as they continue to go to work as stay-at-home orders are in place. Called essential workers at the start of the pandemic, now supermarket employees are feeling forgotten. The vaccine rollout is scheduled but workers are still eager to get their shots, which aren’t due until mid-June. On top of that, working in hot spots is a safety concern, and some customers are still ruffling feathers. 

Having to work in hotspot areas with no vaccine is a daunting task. Grocery store employees from across the country have been wondering when it’s their turn since before the vaccine came out. 

“I wish I could get the vaccine tomorrow,” said Karen Ekstrom, a Real Canadian Superstore employee in Calgary, who has worked as a cashier for 22 years.

“There’s a lot of stress and anxiety that they have to deal with in terms of going to work. We get reports everyday of workers who are getting sick with COVID-19,” agreed Tim Deelstra, a spokesman for the United Food & Commercial Workers union.

Vaccine administration is set for high-risk, critical and low-risk retail workers in mid-June, reports CTV.

“The second batch of essential workers will get their shot around mid-June. This includes high-risk and critical retail workers, restaurant workers, remaining manufacturing laborers, social workers, courts and justice system workers, lowest-risk retail workers, transportation, warehousing and distribution, energy, telecom, water and wastewater management, financial services, waste management, mining, oil and gas workers.” 

However, officials said that the schedule could change depending on supply of the vaccines.

The Government of Ontario also states “Starting April 20, 2021, select pharmacies across the province are booking appointments for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for eligible people ages 40 or older in 2021.”

On top of quicker access to the vaccine, Ekstrom wishes enforcement authorities would patrol stores more often to increase safety as customers continue to push boundaries. 

The supermarket worker has been assigned a responsibility they never signed up for: health & safety enforcement. Not only are they obligated to ask customers to wear their masks properly (or one at all) and keep their distance, but they are also expected to continue to implement these rules to individuals who are terrified, angry or just over this pandemic. 

From one end of the industry to the other: packaging facilities to truck drivers to grocery stores, some customers have been giving the grocery industry a hard time, not making the job feel any safer. 

Fortunately, though, the amount of disrespectful shoppers is 1-2%; the majority of customers do express deep gratitude to their local grocery stores, truck drivers and distributors, for their continuous efforts to keep them stocked safely. 

Grocery store employees are deemed heroes for a reason. They provide essential supplies and food in the presence of a global pandemic and are still showing up despite the risk and having to handle the public in such challenging times.