Vice President of Meal Solutions, Loblaw
As we navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, meal solutions are gaining traction as consumers continue to search for easy, sustainable, customizable, and convenient options for dinner. Nick Kuriya, Vice President of Meal Solutions at Loblaw, shares his thoughts on this industry trend, the restaurant industry, and PC Chef, Loblaw’s new meal solutions venture that’s focused on solving dinner for Canadians.
Where do you see the future of food headed?
A few key macro-trends are likely to have an impact on the future of food:
- Meal solutions will continue gaining traction, as consumers seek to ease the mental load associated with the daily dinnertime dilemma. Easing the journey from inspiration to fulfillment will be critical. The distinction between grocery and foodservice will likely continue to blur.
- Increasing digital adoption and innovation will change shopping behaviours, ranging from helping Canadians make better food choices and manage shopping lists, while delivering on convenience.
- Increasing focus on sustainability of our food delivery system. As global population increases, we will need to feed more mouths while being kind to the Earth.
How is Loblaw helping shape the future of food?
A few of our recent initiatives align well with some of the macro-trends we are observing. For example, we recently launched PC Chef, which offers a range of meal kits and prepared meals in-store and for delivery within the Greater Toronto Area. We continue to innovate with our PC Express online grocery service, which continues to experience strong growth and is a go-to digital solution for Canadians. In addition, we are continuously exploring ways to migrate to more environmentally friendly packaging.
Why is it important to support local restaurants as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic?
Local restaurants are vital parts of our community and serve a key role in feeding Canadians. They are led by passionate entrepreneurs and often shape the character and culture of our neighborhoods. Some estimates suggest that 30–50% of these local restaurants will have trouble surviving the economic impacts of this pandemic. It would be a shame to lose that many restaurants. We need to find a way to support them or we will lose a big part of our history and community.
How is Loblaw helping local restaurants recover and thrive?
We recently expanded our PC Chef delivery service to include meal kits prepared by restaurants. We partnered with seven top local restaurants (Burger’s Priest, La Carnita, Fresh, Kinton Ramen, Sala Modern Thai, Fat Lamb Kouzina, General Assembly Pizza) so that customers can re-create their favourite restaurant dishes in the comfort of their homes. Restaurants can expand their reach beyond their local area and capitalize on PC Chef’s expanded delivery zone covering most of the Greater Toronto Area. It also provides a new revenue stream to help restaurants offset the impacts of reduced dine-in capacity driven by the pandemic. We believe this is the first restaurant meal kit marketplace in the world and are thrilled with the results so far.
What is PC Chef, and how does it differentiate itself from other meal kits?
PC Chef is a provider of meal kits and prepared meals available in our stores or online at pcchef.ca. Unlike traditional meal kit services, we offer a range of different meal types to suit different occasions, like one-pan meal kits that minimize dirty dishes and are ready in under 10 minutes, and slow cooker meals kits that you can set and forget in an Instant Pot. There is no commitment or subscription. You don’t need to decide a week in advance, orders can be placed as late as noon the day before delivery. Ice packs and extra packaging are optional — we believe it’s a win-win, lower costs for the consumer and less waste for the environment.