Grocery shopping isn’t what it once was. You know, that stop and shop-on-the fly, making a pit stop on your way home from work to get dinner fixings for that night’s meal. Well that changed because of COVID in ways that we could never have imagined. First, the fear of going to the grocery store, being told to stay at home and only go out when necessary. Long wait times for the new online shopping, and supermarkets quickly figuring out ways to get food to their customers safely. Retailers were finding new ways as much as the customers were in following their lead. Since the early days of quarantine, lockdown and phase 1, we have gone back to some sort of normal patterns, with restaurants being open as well as patio dining for a while, but now where I live, we have gone back a phase and they are now closed, so pick up and take out is all we’ve got.
The one thing that hasn’t changed during all of this is the need to eat. And it never will. What has changed is our shopping habits, how we meal plan and think about our grocery habits and ways. Many started planning meals for two or three weeks, and some only managed one. Some started making foods that they never had before, and found that they enjoyed it. Some found that making meals at home actually worked out cheaper for them, and they felt better for it. Whether that was better energy, they shed a few pounds, or they got themselves and the family in a groove, there have been many positives to this forced change.
What I’m curious about is our habits, before and since COVID. What has changed other than bread making and snacking? When I go to the supermarket, I feel like I’m not doing things that differently but maybe I am.
To help answer my question and understand the impact of our ever changing ‘normal’ when it comes to shopping, cooking and consuming food, I found a trailblazer to talk this over with, so we all understand better what these changes mean for us, our lives and of course our wallets.
This week on EAT THIS with Lianne, an interview with Mary Dalimonte, a veteran in the retail grocery industry, and the woman who knows this industry inside and out, back to front and all the in-between. Mary shares with us what she knows of the changes, what she forecasted, what to focus on in the days and weeks to come to get that grocery bill down while still being healthy.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still a go-to-the-store shopper. I like to see my food, choose it, pay for it, interact with the front line workers at the check out and then bring it home and unpack it. While I’ve been doing most of my shopping at a local farmers market, the supermarket is still essential for all the rest.
I’m watching what I’m spending each week, making sure that I can make the most of my shop. It’s tough times financially for many of us, so this is one area where many of my clients are trying to still focus on healthy eating, but need to watch how much of the budget is spent on food too.
My guest today, is a total know all when it comes to supermarkets, the foods sold, and buying habits. Mary Dalimonte has over 40 years of achievement in the retail grocery industry and is recognized as the ‘Go-To’ trusted industry executive, Mary is known as a change agent and the quintessential foodie. She is recognized for her strategic and tactical leadership in the grocery and food industry. Her broad business expertise spans Merchandising, Multi Banner Operations, Private Label, Innovation Development and Process Management, Governance and New Store Concept Development and Design. Her passion for food has been the driving force of her career, whether it has been identifying new trends or championing innovation.
About Mary Dalimonte
Mary Dalimonte recently retired Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Commercial Programs for Sobeys Inc., a leading Canadian grocery retailer and food distributor.
Ms. Dalimonte joined Sobeys in 2008 as the General Manager of Sobeys Urban Fresh, responsible for stewarding the banner’s operations, merchandising and marketing teams, while building key relationships with store operators and suppliers.
Ms. Dalimonte was subsequently appointed to Vice President of Private Label and, in 2012, promoted to Senior Vice President of Merchandising and Commercial Programs for Sobeys Inc. In her most recent capacity she lead the strategic plans and drove the development and execution of customer-focused, market-leading innovations and new store concept designs for Sobeys’ Full Service banners across Canada.
Ms. Dalimonte graduated from York University with a bachelor of arts in sociology. Prior to joining Sobeys Inc., she held a variety of progressively senior retail management roles at Loblaw Supermarkets Ltd., including Senior Director of Store Operations, General Manager of Retail Operations, and Vice-President of Store Operations.
With over 40 years of achievement in the retail grocery industry and recognized as the ‘Go-To’ trusted industry executive, Mary is known as a change agent and the quintessential foodie. She is recognized for her strategic and tactical leadership in the grocery and food industry. Her broad business expertise spans Merchandising, Multi Banner Operations, Private Label, Innovation Development and Process Management, Governance and New Store Concept Development and Design. Her passion for food has been the driving force of her career, whether it has been identifying new trends or championing innovation.
An award-winning and active member of the grocery community, Mary has been awarded and recognized for her many accomplishments including the ‘2017 Star Women Award’ from Canadian Grocer, the ‘Top Women in Grocery’ award for North America in 2014, and was the first female and grocery retail executive to win the ‘Food Service Excellence Award’ from the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Ontario. Of particular note, awarded in 2018 the ‘Golden Pencil Award’, highest honor awarded by the Food Industry Association of Canada recognizing excellence through career dedication and making a significant and worthwhile contribution to the Canadian Food Industry.
Mary serves as a Board Director for Giant Tiger Stores Ltd., Board of Director for the Italian Chamber of Commerce, Board Advisor to Grocery Business, Board Advisor to Inspired Organization for MBA future leaders, Academy Mentor to Women in Food Industry Management, and Mentor Leader to the Network of Executive Women.
Ms. Dalimonte is also a keynote speaker for MBA students across various university faculties and a member of the Advisory Board for INSPIRE North, a non-profit organization that motivates and empowers Canadian youth by organizing educational events with executives who share their experiences and advice.
During this challenging time and as we head into, well we’re not quite sure where we are heading in terms of restrictions and so on, but as I said off the top, one thing that wont change is the need to keep grocery shopping.
I hope that Mary’s insight, suggestions and meal ideas help us to make some more thoughtful shopping lists that we can get through this with a full pantry, keep eating healthy and not have the worry of money curb that.
If you don’t receive my weekly newsletter, know that I send out highlights every week, including my recent Taste Canada Silver Award that I won for my book, Sprout Right Family Food. I shared the moment on social media and have had some incredible feedback and congratulations from friends, clients and colleagues. I am so grateful to be recognized, my work, my words, my thoughts and teachings. It truly means the world to me. So if you need some inspiration and are put off by the FAMILY FOOD title, don’t be. I have clients who live by my book and recipes who don’t have a family yet, or they’re all grown up, but the recipes still remain their go-to.
So with that said, as always, please remember to EAT THIS one mouthful at a time.