New Canada’s Food Guide 2019 Bringing Big Changes to Grocery Industry

After much anticipation, the new Canada’s Food Guide is coming to fruition in 2019.

And it’s bringing with it a lot of changes.

Among the reforms:

  • The “four food groups” model is changing, including eliminating the “milk” category, and moving to a three food groups model, featuring “whole grain foods, plenty of vegetables and fruit, and protein.”
  • Plant-based proteins are emphasized, including beans, lentils, and nuts, rather than always choosing animal-based foods.
  • Whole grains are emphasized over refined grains.
  • A focus on reducing sugar intake, especially from beverages like pop and juice.
  • Water, milk, plant-based beverages, coffee, and tea are emphasized.
  • Vegetable and fruit options include canned and fresh tomatoes, bagged salad, and other convenient items – but no juice.
  • Serving sizes appear to be less specific, acknowledging that different people have different needs.

The guide also warns consumers to be read nutrition labels and “be aware of food marketing.”

While it’s early yet, this seems to signify big changes ahead, particularly for food manufacturers and retailers.

How to Adapt:

  • Emphasize plant-based protein.

With the Food Guide’s streamlined protein category, shoppers may be looking for alternatives to animal-based products. There may be a need for retailers to provide education around plant-based sources, like beans, lentils, tofu, and the like.

Consider: creating a display or hosting a cooking class centred around plant-based protein.

  • Less emphasis on sugary snacks and beverages.

While this trend may not be a surprise, the Food Guide is encouraging Canadians to stay away from sugar, especially in beverages. This may mean putting more emphasis in-store on alternative drinks, especially for juice drinkers, like sparkling water, plant-based drinks, coffee beverages, teas, and the like.

  • Avoid the “health halo.”

The Food Guide’s missive includes warning customers against food marketing – meaning products designed to look healthy that really aren’t. Since customers may be looking for healthier fare, you can use this to your advantage.

If you are creating or stocking a product that is healthier, point to that on the displays, or even the packaging. For instance, Halo Top publishes the number of calories per carton directly on the lids of its ice cream.

  • Change up the store layout.

Traditionally, large grocery stores have built their store layout on having the dairy section furthest from the cash registers.

But with less emphasis on milk and cheese, this planogram may not work as well anymore. If dairy sales drop, consider what items are driving more spending and think about putting that near the far corner of the store.

  • Create displays around the regulations.

For instance, you might create signage about whole-grain products, or juice alternatives, or unsalted nuts.

You could also consider signage educating consumers on how to read a food label and what to look for right in store.

  • Help customers cook more often.

One of the key recommendations in the new Food Guide is cooking at home more often. Help customers do just that by offering meal kits, recipes, or even cooking lessons in store. Making it as easy as possible for busy shoppers to grab ingredients and get food on the table could help drive sales.

While the new Canada’s Food Guide is still being finalized, it seems likely that there will be changes coming to the Canadian grocery industry. Marketsupport Canada can help you stay ahead of the trends. Contact us today for help planning your food retail merchandising. Call 1-877-421-5081 or visit

« Back to Blog