Week of April 19, 2010



New Credit Card Code of Conduct Tougher Than Expected
The Canadian retail community has applauded the release of a Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry in Canada. The new conduct code was announced by The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Federal Minister of Finance, last Thursday (April 16). “Businesses have voiced real concerns about the lack of choice they’ve had in accepting debit and credit card payments, and about the costs involved,” Flaherty said, of the March 29 legislation filed in Parliament to implement certain provisions of the Federal Budget called the Payment Card Networks Act, which gives the Minister of Finance the power to regulate the market conduct of the credit and debit card networks and their participants. “These added business costs are borne by merchants and may be passed on to consumers, which makes this an issue of importance to all Canadians. The Code of Conduct encourages choice and competition. It gives merchants the freedom to choose which card networks they use, helps them control their costs and allows them to pass on savings to their customers,” he said in a press release.

“It’s a huge victory for us,” said Diane Brisebois, president and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada. “We got almost 95 per cent of what we wanted,” said Catherine Swift, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. When it was introduced two weeks earlier, the Canadian Restaurants and Foodservices Association (CRFA) commented, “The Act goes a long way in addressing CRFA’s concerns about unfair business practices and lack of transparency and accountability by card-payment systems in Canada.”

Highlights of the new Code include: merchants who accept a company’s credit card can’t be required to also have to accept their debit product; merchants can cancel contracts without penalty should fees rise or new fees be introduced; merchants have the freedom to accept credit payments from a particular network without the obligation to accept debit payments and vice versa; and merchants will be given new tools to promote competition. Another highlight is the fact that credit card companies will not be allowed to enter Canada’s low-cost debit market by “piggybacking” on the existing Interac Association network.

Sportscene Revenues/Earnings Down in 2010
Montreal-based Sportscene Restaurants, parent company of La Cage aux Sports, announced quarterly net earnings of $1.1 million, period ending Feb. 28, versus $1.2 million last year. Total sales declined 7.8 per cent to $27.6 million for the quarter. EBITDA was recorded at $2.5 million, versus $2.9 million the previous year. Six-month earnings were $2.6 million on revenues of $39.4 million, compared with earnings of $2.7 million on revenues of $42.9 million in the first half of the previous year. President and CEO Jean Bédard commented, “Overall, the La Cage aux Sports banner has succeeded so far in weathering the economic slowdown and defending its competitive position through targeted and effective marketing initiatives. In addition, despite a decrease in Sportscene’s revenues, the efforts made since the beginning of the recession to further focus on value-added activities and optimize operations enabled us to preserve the profitability of La Cage aux Sports’ network and Sportscene Group as a whole.”

Seafood, Fruit Flavours, Popular Additions to U.S. Menus — Technomic
The increased presence of seafood on U.S. restaurant menus is a strong trend across all restaurant segments, from quick-service chains to fine-dining restaurants, according to Chicago-based Technomic, Inc. Also being showcased are citrus and fruit flavours such as lemon, lime and peach, part of a drive to add lighter ingredients to menu offerings. The trends are apparent in Technomic’s ongoing examination of menu additions to more than 1,000 leading independent and chain restaurants’ menus, which are collected bi-annually and available on Technomic’s searchable online MenuMonitor database. “We found that restaurants have begun rolling out a number of new seafood dishes, especially entrées incorporating grilled shrimp, salmon or tilapia,” says Bernadette Noone, director of Product Management. “We believe that the higher incidence of seafood dishes is the direct result of a fall in seafood’s retail price points.” For information: contact Pat Noone: (312) 506-3929 or [email protected].

Le Clos Jordanne Lauded as ‘Best New World Red Wine’
Le Clos Jordanne 2006 Pinot Noir from Niagara, Ont., was named the ‘Best New World Red Wine’ in the May issue of England’s Decanter magazine, written by acclaimed wine writer and critic Steven Spurrier, the man who hosted the famous Tasting of Paris in 1976. Le Clos Jordanne winery first caught the attention of the world’s wine community last spring at the “Judgment of Montreal,” a blind tasting held in Quebec for Cellier magazine, when its 2005 Claystone Terrace Chardonnay captured top spot for Chardonnay in the experts’ tasting. Le Clos Jordanne wines are collaboaratively produced by Vincor Canada and Boisset, La Famille des Grands Vins, in France. Using traditional Burgundian methods, wines are crafted to exemplify the distinct Niagara terroir. Located in the town of Jordan Station on the Niagara Escarpment, the winery is comprised of four distinct vineyards: Le Clos Jordanne, Claystone, La Petit and Talon — for a total of 75 acres. Exclusively planted with Burgundian varietals of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the vineyards are farmed using organic and biodynamic techniques.

OHI Gold Awards Dinner Honours New OHI Fellows Scholarships
The 20th Anniversary Gold Awards Dinner of the Ontario Hostelry Institute (OHI) was a grand success. Hosted by OHI president, J. Charles Grieco, the event, which was held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, featured a festive dinner prepared and served under the direction of Jesse Hansen, executive sous chef, Carl Baptista, banquet chef and Philippe Valladares, executive pastry chef. The evening also featured a live auction, a silent auction and various fundraising activities, including a balloon-break and cash draw. Honorary co-chairs for the event were Mary Beaton and William Bennett, owners and managers of Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa in Cambridge, Ont. The evening also introduced the 2010 student award winners, represented as spokespersons by Lars Friedriszik and Leanne Ciacone.

The evening honoured new inductions for the Fellows of the Ontario Hostelry Institute, presented to: Anthony John, owner, Soiled Reputation Farm; Jonathan Gushue, executive chef, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa; Michael Steh, executive chef, Reds Bistro; Scott Vivian, executive chef and co-owner, The Wine Bar & Hanks; Sasha Chapman, food writer; Jason Bangerter, executive chef, Auberge du Pommier; Lorenzo Loseto, executive chef, Verity, George Restaurant; Mark Cutrara, executive chef, Cowbell; Dick Snyder, president and editor, City Bites; Tawfik Shehata, executive chef, Vertical; Rebecca LeHeup, executive director, Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance; Nigel Didcock, executive chef, Granite Club; Bettina Shormann, pastry chef, Ancaster Old Mill; Mario Pingue, general manager and co-owner, Pingue Prosciutto; Elizabeth Driver, curator, Campbell House Museum; Owen Steinberg, Chef School Faculty, George Brown College; Nicolette Novak, proprietor, The Good Earth Cooking School & Food Co.; Yasser Qahauish, owner, Artisanale Café & Restaurant; Martha Wright, chef de cuisine, Frank Restaurant; and Jennifer Agg, co-owner, Black Hoof.

Four Foodservice Firms in ‘Best Places to Work’ Listing
One foodservice operator and three suppliers have been named in the 2010 Great Place to Work Institute of Canada listing. General Mills Canada was ranked 20th, followed by Cadbury, Joey Restaurant Group and Diageo Canada Inc. The fifth-annual competition, organized by Environics Communications Inc., sifted through more than 200 company nominations and 40,000 employee surveys. Debra Kelly-Ennis, president and CEO of Diageo Canada commented, “Our people…bring our corporate culture and values to life every day, and this award is a testament to the commitment, dedication and contribution of all employees.” For more information, click here.

Costs for London’s Savoy Hotel Reno Soar to £200M
For a fourth time, the reopening of the Savoy Hotel in London, England, has been delayed as cost for its refurbishment soars to double the £100 million (CDN$154.1 million) that was originally estimated. Closed since December 2007, the property, which is managed by Toronto-based Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, is expected to open this fall, almost a year and a half late. The 121-year-old building was purchased five years ago for £230 million by Saudi Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Holdings and government-controlled bank HBOS. The per-room cost of the hotel and reconstruction is expected to be £1.6 million (CDN$2.47 million). Kiaran MacDonald, the Savoy’s general manager, said, “The state of building was a lot worse than we had envisioned. When we closed the doors and peeled back the layers, it became clear that everything from the electrical cables to the plumbing was in very poor repair. We’ve had to carry out very invasive work, including installing a sprinkler system throughout the whole hotel. That’s the reason behind the delay.”

Breadless “Sandwich” Joins KFC’s U.S. Menu
Louisville, Ky.-based KFC, a division of Yum! Brands Inc., introduced its new Double Down “sandwich” last week across the U.S., creating quite a stir in the process. The double down is comprised of two slices of cheese, the Colonel’s-own sauce and bacon sandwiched between two white-meat chicken fillets. Customers can chose either grilled chicken or fried chicken fillets. “The Double Down created such buzz as a test-market item, and it already has such high consumer awareness, we toyed with the idea of making a commercial that just said, ‘It’s here!” explained Javier Benito, executive vice-president of Marketing and Food Innovation for KFC in a press release. “We expect the Double Down to be in great demand.”

Thierry Busset to Open Pastry Shop in Vancouver
Noted Vancouver chocolatier-pâtissier Thierry Busset will be opening a new 220-square-metre atelier in the city’s downtown core on Alberni St. The store is slated to open in the Autumn, in partnership the Top Table Group. Under a bright awning that simply says Thierry, and reflecting the storefront pâtisseries of his native France, the store will highlight a wide selection of hand-crafted French pastries, cakes, chocolate and one of the hottest menu item from Paris — the macaron. “The shop will realize a longtime dream of mine,” Busset says. “Everything will be made on premises and we will work in the style of the atelier, with our work space open to the retail area.” The store will be designed by Marc Bricault, who worked with Top Table on projects at CinCin and Araxi, and who designed the wine room at Blue Water Café. Busset studied the art of pastry in France and has worked alongside some of the world’s best chefs, including Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsay. Most recently, he was pastry chef at Top Table restaurants West and CinCin.

Organic Food Trend Slowing, Local Food Growing — Nielsen Company
New market research from The Nielsen Company, based in Toronto, indicates that organic food sales are slowing after several years of rapid growth. Conversely, separate research shows “local” food is becoming increasingly important. Sales of organic fruit and produce are still climbing but at slower rates than in previous years, according to a report by Nielsen’s director of Consumer & Industry Insights, Carman Allison. The report called Keeping it Fresh in the New Economy suggests the recession has been a factor — organic fruits and vegetables are, on average, 50 per cent more expensive than similar conventional products. Instead, Canadians are turning to locally grown foods.

A similar locavore conclusion was reported in the Nielsen study dubbed, Safe for Your Plate, A Canadian Perspective. The report was part of Nielsen’s Global Omnibus Survey, conducted in December 2009 in 54 countries. When it comes to the safety of organic food, the study found Canadians were split, with only 29 per cent agreeing it’s safer than conventionally produced food. However, almost six in 10 Canadians (58 per cent) agree that food grown in Canada is safer than imported food. “The locavore attitude has taken hold,” commented Allison. “More and more consumers specifically look to buy food that is grown close to home, and retailers have responded by prominently calling attention to their support of local producers through in-store displays.”

Clearwater Launches New Foodservice Website
Clearwater Seafoods Limited Partnership, based in Halifax, has launched a more interactive and information-rich website, clearwater.ca. It is geared to restaurant chefs and retail businesses looking for wild, natural, sustainable and reliable seafood. Rick Betz, Clearwater’s executive vice-president of Sales and Marketing, explained. “It isn’t enough to sell them a product. For true customer relevance and customer sustainability today, you have to provide ‘solutions.’ This means providing culinary and promotional support, including menu solutions for how to add our products to [restaurant menus].” The new site features interactive areas such as the Ask the Chef page, where Clearwater’s culinary consultant, chef Stefan Czapalay, responds to questions. It also includes a Vessel Tracking tool, which allows users to access a global map, tracking Clearwater’s fleet of 14 vessels in real time with information on sailing and landing dates. “We think it provides value in a couple of ways. First, for the families and loved ones of our crew, it provides a sense of connection,” explains Mike Pittman, vice-president of Fleet Operations. “Secondly, it’s a good reminder to our customers that we are vertically integrated.”

45-Year Industry Veteran, Wayne Hein, Retires
Wayne Hein, who has represented VGM Club Canada since its formation 2003, has announced his retirement after 45 years in the foodservice and hospitality industry. While serving as a vice-president of VGM Club, which is based in Waterloo, Iowa, Hein’s Oakville, Ont.-based operation expanded the purchasing group’s services across Canada as a member service and marketing organization for membership-based clubs, including golf, tennis, yacht, city and athletic clubs. During his career, Hein held positions with Versafoods (Aramark), Hospital Dietary Service, and founded Ontrak Services Inc, a group-purchasing organization subsequently sold to Sodexo in 1993. Hein plans to continue his involvement on boards, assisting suppliers and contributing to foodservice educational events.


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