The Greater Toronto Area grocery landscape is about to get more competitive.
Farm Boy, the fresh food market that describes itself as “all about the food” has announced big plans to open several stores in the region this fall. The retailer currently has 24 stores in Ontario, and has been in business for over 35 years.
While other grocers have evolved into “superstore” formats offering convenient one-stop shop locations in which to buy a variety of household and pharmacy items as well as groceries, Farm Boy has remained focused on their food products. It is this focus that ultimately could lead to growth.
In an interview with the Toronto Star, CEO Jeff York explains this focus on food as a move to be a fresh food experience rather than a supermarket, since household items such as toothpaste can be ordered online through Amazon. He describes Farm Boy as place where customers can discover new products and learn cooking as well as healthy eating.
The brand is centred around fresh, offering “wholesome, healthy, and tasty” products that are traditionally located around the periphery of a supermarket, such as produce, deli, and bakery items. There are also convenient ready-to-eat prepared food sections, such as the “Farm Boy Kitchen” and “My Farm Boy Salad Bar.” With the current customer demand for fresh products, healthy eating, convenience, and experiential shopping, it is a model that is especially relevant at the present time, and may lead to a successful expansion strategy within the next few years.
For grocery players within the Toronto market, this new entrant could pose a threat. Consideration and improvement of fresh food sections within major and specialty grocery stores could help them remain competitive, however. Integrating technology into the experience (i.e. pick up and delivery) and creating more experiential moments within stores such as sampling, foodservice in-store, and education also would be key strategic moves to keep up with emerging players like Farm Boy.