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NEW YORK, June 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Amazon's $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market is a bombshell with potentially massive reverberations for both food brands and the world of brick-and-mortar retailing, said branding and retail experts at CBX.

"For starters, this acquisition promises to shake up pricing, the ecommerce space, the trajectory of retail automation in the United States, and the already considerable competitive pressures faced by existing food retailers," said Todd Maute, a Partner at the New York-based brand agency and retail environments consultancy. "When it comes to making bold moves aimed at disruption, Amazon never disappoints."

Amazon, Maute noted, has already dipped its toe into brick-and-mortar retailing with the likes of its Amazon Books bookstores and ongoing experiments with small-format grocery stores. Snapping up Whole Foods, however, marks its most serious commitment to date.

"The possible effects on Whole Foods alone are interesting to contemplate," said Maute, a nationally known expert on private label products. "For example, the consumer perception of Whole Foods is that it is overpriced. But given its massive buying power, Amazon could actually leverage its economies of scale to bring down prices in the aggregate and change this perception in ways that would make Whole Foods a lot more competitive."

In terms of inventory and infrastructure, Maute said, acquiring Whole Foods could give Amazon a solid foundation for ramping up online grocery sales and delivery via Amazon Fresh. "My guess is that Whole Foods will become a launching pad for Fresh. But at a minimum, this move could get Whole Foods into the online space much faster, in theory, than any other retail competitor. That would clearly have big ramifications for the likes of Walmart, Kroger and Publix, all of which are racing to develop their own capabilities for online ordering and click-and-collect." 

In addition, the holy grail of voice-assisted ordering through the likes of Amazon Echo or Google Home is to be in the customer's kitchen, Maute noted. "Now Amazon can give its Prime Customers a lot of new options," he said. "They could get discounts on popular Whole Foods products just by saying 'Alexa, order me some more Whole Foods 365 peanut butter, organic, creamy.' It's a potentially big step forward in this fast-growing space."

Whole Foods' brick-and-mortar real estate, moreover, could potentially be of use to Amazon as it seeks to grow its distribution capabilities, Maute added. "This is real estate that could be used for pickups, returns, warehousing, you name it. And think about this: the Amazon Go test store uses sensors, cameras and machine intelligence to eliminate cashiers and checkout lines. Now Amazon has a national brick-and-mortar footprint with which to rollout this game-changing technology. It's still speculation, of course, but this acquisition could be a big first step toward the automation of U.S. retailing."

For his part, CBX Managing Partner Gregg S. Lipman pointed to the darker side of such moves, citing the ever-growing juggernaut of Alibaba Holding Group Limited, the Chinese-based conglomerate. "Over in China, the great Alibaba is doing the same thing as Amazon is here," Lipman said. "They fly under the banner of benefiting the consumer—and, to be sure, some of these changes could be good for consumers—but in the end, it is all about the bottom line."

As Amazon flirts with disparate businesses ranging from prescription drugs to real estate brokerage, the fallout is hardly a win-win for everyone, Lipman explained. "The pressure they exert on suppliers is stifling," he said. "Their buying power, which is growing by the day, can be seen as forcing unfair or unreasonable practices on suppliers. The net effect is that the rich get richer."

Increasingly, Lipman added, Amazon's private-label initiatives are giving it the ability to either participate in or actually dominate various retailing categories. "At what point do they own the entire food chain, whether in equity or buying power?" he said. "Remember, Amazon is willing to lose money to win market share and kill off competitors. This should be a concern, not only for food retailers, but also for food brands."

Fortunately for its competitors, Amazon's private brands have struggled in some categories, like clothing, Lipman said. "We'll see what happens now that Amazon will have Whole Foods shelf space to experiment with, IRL."


Toronto, May 2, 2017 – Today, in the SIAL Innovation space at 10:30 a.m. during the first day of the show, the winner of the prestigious SIAL Innovation contest was unveiled in front of visitors and journalists!

Congratulations to Saffron Sugar Cube, Taj Food, Minami Inc. – Canada/Sri Lanka, booth #1219 who brought home the SIAL Innovation 2017 Grand Prize! Why this product? Saffron and sugar combines an interesting mix of flavours. Saffron Sugar Cube is 100% natural and sold in highly convenient re-sealable packaging!


The SIAL Innovation Contest: Exceptional Visibility for Businesses


A $120,000 value made available to winners:

  • Nielsen will      provide winners with a project worth $30,000 to help them get their      product to market.
  • The SIAL Network      will provide an exhibition space for free at all the SIALs, including      Paris 2018.

The winner will have the chance to travel around the world as they visit all of the SIAL network’s shows, which will be held in Canada, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Paris and Abu Dhabi.


SIAL Innovation is the only international contest with a presence in the four corners of the world. Made up of food professionals, managed by SIAL Canada 2017 food-innovation ambassador Dana McCauley, and presided over by Xavier Terlet and the XTC World Innovation firm, the jury rewards 10 finalists (refer to the list below for the 2017 results) and hands out one Grand Prize. All these products can be found at the SIAL Innovation space, booth #727.

Recap of the 10 Finalists:

  1. Le      Moulin à champignons, SABAROT – France, booth #2327

A select blend of mill-dried mushrooms. A truly convenient way of using mushrooms when cooking at home.

  1. Le      Petit Quinoa, SABAROT – France, booth #2327

Another product by this French company has been noted for its convenience as well as its health benefits: Le petit Quinoa, a blend of grains and quinoa sold in the shape of a sausage, is designed to be sliced and pan-fried in minutes. High in protein and gluten-free, this product combines enjoyment, health, and convenience.

  1. Turbana      Plantain Chips, Turbana – United States, booth #1110

Consumer health benefits pop up again, along with novel taste, in these plantain chips, which are free of cholesterol, saturated fat, and gluten.

  1. SAUCE      MAC & CHEESE, Les Aliments O’Sole Mio – Canada, booth #649

This product is a fresh, readymade mac-and-cheese sauce sold in a spouted container. The product scored well with the jury for its convenience and time-saving nature.

  1. 29      FEVRIER MAPLE-IN-A-TREE, Groupe 29 février – Canada, booth #851

29 Février (“February 29”): What a novel name for a Canadian classic – maple syrup. The jury had great things to say about its “bag-in-tub” configuration, which protects the product and allows it to keep longer.

  1. Saffron      Sugar Cube, Taj Food, Minami Inc. – Canada, booth #1219

Saffron and sugar combine in an interesting mix of flavours. Saffron Sugar Cube is 100% natural and sold in highly convenient re-sealable packaging.

  1. VERMOUTH VINEGAR, Vinagrerias Riojanas – Spain,      booth #2000

Is it still possible to innovate in vinegar? Of course, as demonstrated by this Spanish company with vermouth vinegar. A product that reacquaints consumers with vinegar through a novel, premium taste.

  1. Quinta Quinoa, Katan – Canada, booth #1543

Did you know quinoa grows in Ontario? Get ready to rediscover it as a local product. High in protein and iron, Quinta Quinoa is sold in a freestanding re-sealable bag.

  1. Crispy Dill Pickled Carrots, Safies Speciality      Foods Company – United States, booth #1028

While this may look like a traditional product, these spice- and vinegar-marinated Safies carrots, with their elegant packaging, are as innovative as they are delicious.

  1. Patty Fresh, Tiffany Gate Foods – Canada, booth      #2033

Many vegan products will be exhibited at the show. One of those, Patty Fresh, is a fresh, vegetarian pre-cooked roll that is meant to be sliced by the consumer for added convenience.

Jury President:

Dana McCauley, innovation expert and CEO of Blue Unicorn Innovation

Xavier Terlet, President and Founder of XTC World Innovation

The members of the 2017 SIAL Innovation Jury:

  • Dana McCauley, CEO, Blue Unicorn Innovation and Innovation      Expert at SIAL Canada
  • Karen Proper, Technical Manager, Product & Process      Development, Consulting & Technical Services, NSF International
  • Marie-France Gibson, Vice President, Private Brands, Metro Inc.
  • Birgit Blain, President, Birgit Blain & Associates Inc.
  • John Placko, Culinary Director, Modern Culinary Academy and      Powder for Texture
  • Jane Dummer, Principal and Founder, Jane Dummer Consulting
  • Laura Calder,      Writer and James Beard Award-Winning Television Host
  • Brian Hircock, President at Raining Communications

SIAL Innovation 2017


Unveiling of the SIAL Innovation 2017 Finalists!

Toronto, April 20, 2017 – The exhibition space is now fully booked! For its 2017 edition, SIAL Canada has registered a record-breaking 1,000 exhibitors, who will be exhibiting from May 2 to 4 at Toronto's Enercare Centre. In preparation for this long-awaited record-breaking edition, SIAL Innovation's international jury met at a secret Toronto location on April 13 to select the 10 finalists for the SIAL Innovation Grand Award 2017.

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Read more: Unveiling of the SIAL Innovation 2017 Finalists!

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