The food retail/wholesale industry consists of companies involved in the distribution of food to consumers through grocery retail outlets and wholesale operations. These companies include large supermarket chains, small independent grocers, and specialty food stores.
The industry is experiencing rapid change under global competitive pressures and shifting consumer preferences. Many grocery merchants have expanded their operations to include general merchandise (e.g. clothing and electronics) and professional services (e.g. photographic labs, pharmacies, home meal preparation, etc.) in their stores. Business processes are also evolving quickly with advances in information technology, logistics and operations.
Working in Food Retail/Wholesale
The industry offers flexible hours, competitive wages, pensions, job and income security, and excellent benefits. Most large employers have unionized workforces.
A wide range of occupations is available, in areas as diverse as store management, store design, marketing, information technology, real estate, merchandising, logistics, finance, and more. Careers can develop in retail stores or distribution centres, as well as in regional or national offices.
The industry is known for a strong practice of training and promoting from within, and provides one of the few remaining business pathways where “working your way up” is a realistic and achievable goal.
Possibilities for job growth are endless! From working as a part-time clerk, one can progress to the job of supervisor, store manager, trainer, driver, accountant, human resources professional, logistics specialist, communications coordinator, and the list goes on. Many of today's leading grocery managers and senior executives started their careers bagging or ringing up groceries before they rose through the ranks.
Skills & Training
The industry has opportunities for people with every level of education, from high-school to post-secondary to skills training. Many Canadian colleges, universities and training institutions offer programs, including apprenticeships, in areas like retail management, food and nutrition, meat cutting, baking and more.
The industry is looking for “people skills” (the ability to interact effectively with customers), and skills in teamwork, problem solving, decision making and computer use. Employers often provide employees with opportunities for professional development, training and skills enhancement.