Grocery Foodservice


Q4 2022

GS1 Canada is pleased to bring you the Q4 issue of Food for Thought. With every edition, we provide the latest insights, news and trends across the grocery and foodservice industries.

We want to hear from you! Please fill out our short survey found at the end of the newsletter. This will help us provide the content you’d like to see in future issues.

What's Happening at GS1 Canada

Variety is the Spice of Life for One Entrepreneur

Christian Horner was influenced from childhood by two seemingly diverse interests: food and firefighting. “Every single morning, we woke up to that buzz of the coffee beans,” Horner said, remembering his mother. “And then we knew that's when the ovens were going on, and that's when she was going to start cooking.” Kristina Goodwin was a self-taught cook and fine food caterer, and her son helped her with food prep from the age of seven. But Horner was also enamored by the fire hall across the street. He grew up dreaming about becoming a firefighter and eventually saw this as a viable job. The 24-hour shifts would allow him to pursue one passion while keeping up with the other on the side. “I started a career with Toronto Fire in 2008, and I was catering at the time as well,” said Horner. So how do firefighting and culinary combine to become a successful small business? Therein lies the rub.

Fire in the Kitchen was launched in February 2009. Inspired by his mother’s ingenuity—she once mixed burger meat for a large corporate event in wheelbarrows—Horner took some positive feedback and came up with a business idea. When catering a birthday party for a friend, guests were blown away by the rub he used on chicken wings. His friend asked for the recipe and Horner said, "You know what? I'm going to market this. I'm going to start a spice company.” That was the entrepreneurial spark that’s led to an entire line of rubs plus a marinade.

The specialty seasonings venture had humble beginnings, like so many other small businesses. Horner approached his local butcher with a sample of his first product. He laid it all on the line and said, "Ali, I've come up with a spice rub. And I don't know what I'm doing here, but I'd love you to try it. And if you like it, maybe you'd think about selling it?” Two days later, the butcher asked for a case of One Rub.

In the first two years, Horner was able to double his business earnings working with smaller shops. Grocery retailer Longo’s was his first major deal. “Our focus was direct-to-retail,” said Horner. “We just found that there was more margin, more money . . . We didn't have an infrastructure set up for fulfillment on the online side.” Fire in the Kitchen now has a website, but Horner remains dedicated to retail, drawn to the tangible nature of walking through an aisle and interacting with products. It aligns with his hands-on philosophy of building trust. He told us, “I think that would be my key to success, is build a relationship, not just a service contract.”

Recently, the company got seven top-selling products listed with Metro through a local vendors program. Horner related that one of the first questions he was asked was about GS1: “They asked me, ‘Are you GS1-registered? Are you GS1 compliant?’ And I was thankful, I said, ‘Yes, I am’.” Horner acknowledged that having an existing relationship with GS1 Canada allowed him to list with Metro. “I understand and realize the value of GS1,” he said.

“Don't be scared to be yourself, and don't be scared to show vulnerability and say, I don't know what I'm doing here. I really need some help.” - Christian Horner

Horner left the fire department in September and is dedicating his undivided attention to growing his company. He’s thinking about the future of his business and hopes to recapture some of his former markets and build on current momentum. Plans include getting back into the US and expanding to the west and east coasts of Canada, where Fire in the Kitchen has minimal distribution.

From the early days in his mother’s kitchen to listing products with major grocery retailers, Horner has relied on a love of food and confidence in his product. Even at the fire hall, he recalled, “I was the Fire in the Kitchen spice guy, and everybody would sit me down and ask me about the business, ask me about the spices.” His enthusiasm and dedication, not to mention lessons learned over the years, make Horner a small business success story.

Fire in the Kitchen produces speciality seasonings and spice blends to enhance a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. These fresh, flavourful, unique blends are all free of MSG and gluten with no fillers or preservatives. To shop products and learn more, visit Fire in the Kitchen Spice Company.

Important Information and Updates for Small Business Owners

Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy and the heart of our communities. Did you know that according to the government of Canada, there were 1.2 million small businesses in our country in December 2020? More than half are in Quebec and Ontario, but Prince Edward Island actually has the largest concentration of small businesses by population. To put the numbers in perspective, consider that almost three out of four Canadian businesses have between one and nine employees. Cleary, this workforce has a huge impact across the nation, affecting the individuals who own and work for small businesses as well as the national economy.

GS1 Canada understands that running a small business is no easy job and we have the trusted tools and resources to help you grow. With the support of community, government partners, board members and an extended network, GS1 Canada is committed to helping Canadian small businesses with initiatives and resources. Here are two new programs open to small businesses that can help you reach your goals.

  • Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP)

    CDAP can help get your business online, give your ecommerce presence a boost or digitalize operations. The program offers two grants: Grow Your Business Online and Boost Your Business Technology. By enrolling in this program, you will work with a government-approved solution provider or digital advisor to build the right strategy for your business. When you request and include specific GS1 Canada tools and services in your strategy, you will be eligible to have all, or a portion of, your fees reimbursed through the available grants.
    Learn more.
  • Small Business Education Program

    Take advantage of webinars and other resources created for small businesses. These are backed by the expertise of partnering with industry globally for over 50 years and offer online training, modules and videos that equip small business owners with the knowledge to help their businesses soar.
    Log in to learn more.

Don’t forget to check out our small business subscription offerings, including GTIN 10-packs and Small Business Bundles.

We love to celebrate small businesses and highlight inspiring success stories in our Small Business Spotlight series. This month, we’re focusing on one company that’s spicing things up from their homebase in Ontario. Be sure to read about Fire in the Kitchen Spice Company to learn how this small business is thriving with the help of GS1 Canada.

Finally, we want your input! If you’re a small business that has experienced big benefits from working with GS1 Canada, why not share your story? You could be featured on our website, newsletters and social media outlets. You can also get involved as a small business advisor, helping others learn from your experience.

Join Our Community of Small Business Advisors

Help develop future GS1 Canada initiatives, offers, resources and programs to help support Canadian small businesses.

Join Now

To learn more about exciting new small business programs, visit our small business web page and be sure to follow us on social media.

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Deadline for Health Canada’s Food Labelling Requirement December 14

In 2016, the Government of Canada introduced new food labelling regulations in support of Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy. These changes are designed to make improvements to the nutrition facts table and list of ingredients on food labels so Canadians can make healthier, more informed choices. The initial deadline to comply was extended from late last year due to the challenges imposed by COVID-19. The deadline is now December 14, 2022. Effective December 15, 2022, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will be verifying compliance with the new requirements and using enforcement discretion in cases where non-compliant companies have detailed plans showing how they intend to meet the new requirements and timelines for doing so. For more information, visit the CFIA guidance web page.

This initiative requires Canadian organizations to make food labelling changes to their products’ Nutritional Facts Tables and ingredient listings. Full details are outlined in the Amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations Related to Nutrition Labelling, List of Ingredients and Food Colour Regulations.

We’re interested in hearing from you! Take this short survey to share your organization’s progress in meeting Health Canada’s Food Labelling requirements.

The survey will take about five minutes of your time. We ask that you complete it before Friday, December 23, 2022 and that you complete it only once.

These labelling changes require updated packaging. If you haven’t done so already, once you’ve updated your product labels to meet the new requirements, make sure you resubmit your products for image and data capture. Then, certify your nutritional content to ensure your trading partners have uninterrupted access to your updated, compliant nutritional information.

You can book time now to have your updated product packaging captured. For further assistance, email

New Trade Certification Program to Help Small Businesses

Canadian Agricultural Partnership Government of Canada

Financial support was provided through the AgriAssurance Program under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

With funding through the Government of Canada’s AgriAssurance Program, we are proud to launch GS1 Canada’s first Trade Certification Program. This initiative was created to educate small businesses so they can meet trading partner requirements across grocery and foodservice channels as well as provide guidance and resources through the product listing process.

More than 80% of GS1 Canada subscribers are small businesses; they are at the core of our Trusted Strategic Partner vision and the operating principle of supporting businesses of all types and sizes. A new small business team has been created to reinforce our commitment to this project. This specialized group will help support growth, deepen engagement and improve the journey for all GS1 Canada small business subscribers.

The Trade Certification Program is just the latest effort to support our small business subscribers. We also offer new, cost-effective subscription options developed to provide flexibility based on small business needs and educational resources to help small business understand how to get started, meet trading partner and regulatory requirements, and grow their business. More to come!

For more information on the Trade Certification Program, eligibility requirements and how to apply for the program, visit the Trade Certification Program web page. For further assistance, email

Understanding GTIN Management

Is it time for a new GTIN? This is a question the GS1 Canada team hears often, and we have just the thing to help you figure out the answer. Our Decision Support Tool asks a series of questions to determine whether or not you need a new GTIN. Even better, the tool is available in multiple languages.

The questions are based on these 10 Global Trade Item Number (GTIN) Management Rules:

  • New product introduction
  • Declared formulation of functionality
  • Declared net content
  • Dimensional or gross weight change
  • Add or remove certification mark
  • Primary brand
  • Time critical or promotional product
  • Pack/case quantity
  • Pre-defined assortment
  • Price on pack

The GTIN Management Standard is designed to help industry make consistent decisions about the unique identification of trade items in open supply chains using GTINs. The following points should be considered by any brand owner when introducing changes to an existing product, or when developing a GTIN assignment strategy for a new product. At least one of the guiding principles must apply for a GTIN change to be required:

  • Is a consumer and/or trading partner expected to distinguish the changed product from previous or current products?
  • Is there a regulatory/liability disclosure requirement to the consumer and/or trading partner?
  • Is there a substantial impact to the supply chain, such as how the product is shipped, stored or received?

For more information about GTIN Management please refer to When to get new GTINs – GTIN Management Standard.

What's Happening at GS1 Globally

GS1 Celebrates 50 Years as a Global Organization


In February 2023, GS1 will observe 50 years as an association promoting the use of global standards for a common language of business across the world. With 116 Member Organizations (MO), over 2 million user companies and 6 billion transactions every day, GS1 has a lot to celebrate! A global forum is taking place February 13 to 16, 2023 to align the organization’s strategy, strengthen GS1 staff around the world and recognize this milestone anniversary.

The forum will feature three highly anticipated segments: the opening plenary, the retail plenary and a networking night. The opening plenary will explore how the barcode revolutionized retail and healthcare globally. The role GS1 MOs have played from the past to the present will be discussed with an emphasis on strategic perspectives. The retail plenary will focus on the future of barcodes with a spotlight on how 2D barcodes, such as the GS1 DataMatrix, can further support global standards. Finally, the networking night will feature a GS1 talent show with a sing-along finale. The gathering is set to feature MO participants playing instruments, singing, dancing and bringing their energy to join in the fun. This includes GS1 team members who are invited to record their performances and send them in to be part of the show.

The forum will be held in Brussels and online, so everyone has a chance to celebrate. Over 900 participants are expected from more than 90 countries. Along with GS1 MOs, guests representing industry, key trade associations and board members are also invited. You can find out more about the 50th anniversary celebration and forum on the GS1 global website.

TrueSource™ Dashboard

Good Business Requires Great Data

TrueSource™ Dashboard is a value-added data excellence tool that provides visibility to the status of your product image and data content across all industry solutions in one place.

TrueSource™ Dashboard gives you the ability to:

  • Quickly identify and address gaps in your product image and data content.
  • Manage your product catalogue to 100% completion.
  • Use the Deleted/Discontinued report to help you maintain an up-to-date marketing and planogram repository.
  • View the status of your GTIN Discrepancy Report to help address and resolve any pending discrepancies with your trading partners.

Get Started Today

Subscribers to any of the ECCnet Industry Managed Solutions (IMS) have access to TrueSource™ Dashboard as part of their subscription. You can access TrueSource™ Dashboard under the My Tools section of your myGS1 home page.

To learn more and view the full list of data recipients currently using this tool, visit the TrueSource™ Dashboard web page.

New Data Recipients at GS1 Canada

Pet Valu Canada Inc.
Dex Medical Distribution Inc.
Skip Express Lane

Your Questions Answered

What is the value of a getting a GS1 barcode?

GS1 barcodes, created using GS1 licensed Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), are recognized around the world and play a key role in supply chain efficiency. Organizations can identify, track and trace products (and even their components) as they move from their origin to their destination. Barcode numbers purchased from other sources could be subject to duplication or fraud and may not be linked to your product or business.

GS1 licensed GTINs are the global standard endorsed by most Canadian and global retailers, foodservice distributors and online marketplaces to do business. When you get your barcodes from GS1 Canada, your products have a unique identification tied to your company. Online, in retail stores and around the world, that number speaks volumes. Moreover, GS1 licensed barcodes are maintained in a global registry. This registry is used by retailers and distributors to authenticate ownership of GTINs.

Barcodes are the actual lines and spaces that you see on a label that can be read by a scanner at point-of-sale. The barcode is the symbology that holds the unique data associated with your product. GTINs are the numbers you see below the lines of a barcode.

Industry News

Sustainability More Than Just a Trend

As we look ahead to a new year, experts are predicting what we’ll see more of in the foodservice and grocery industries in 2023. One of the biggest drivers behind these upcoming trends is sustainability. According to Mintel’s Sustainability in Food 2022 Report, Canadians feel the personal effect of environmental issues, and four in five agree that what they eat and drink has a meaningful impact on the environment. Shoppers are also worried about rising food costs. Together, these concerns bring interest to food products that capitalize on cost savings and are easier on the Earth.

In the Food Report 2023, Austrian nutritional scientist and food trends researcher Hanni Rützler identified three major food trends for the coming year. Each trend is connected to sustainability. The first trend goes by the global-local portmanteau “glocal”. The trend predicts there will be a move to shift the balance of food consumption from global imports to more locally produced food. Rützler believes shorter and more transparent supply chains, domestic markets and regional agricultural structures will be an emerging focus. Regional and sustainable farming will become a priority. Second, Rützler identifies the veganizing of recipes, removing meat from meals and using meat substitutes, as something to watch for. According to the David Suzuki Foundation, meat and dairy production account for 83% of all agricultural land use, take up 30% of the planet’s land surface, and are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases. Eating more plant-based meals has been suggested as one of the most important ways we can reduce the environmental impact of our diets. The third trend identified in the Food Report is regenerative food, or food that comes from sustainable agriculture. This kind of land use focuses on biodiversity and soil regeneration and can have a positive environmental effect for generations to come.

More support for the sustainable food push comes from the Whole Foods Top 10 Food Trends for 2023. Number seven on the list is environmental awareness. Whole Foods predicts that we’ll see a growing number of food labels with information on manufacturing, production and distribution. Consumers want to know where their food comes from and how its production impacts the environment. For more on carbon footprint packaging, check out the article on ecolabels in our Q3 newsletter. GS1 Global has even started talking about how industry can understand ecolabel certifications as they relate to traceability and sustainability since consumers have shown an interest in this information.

The sustainability trend will also see familiar foods repurposed or given a new twist. Progressive Grocer predicts environmentally friendly foods will take the form of mushrooms, seaweed and jackfruit as replacements for traditional meat ingredients. The organization says, “companies will increasingly focus on regenerative agriculture, more localized and biodynamic food systems, carbon farming, and indigenous farming practices”.

In her Food Report, Rützler notes that the retail sector has become the most important player when it comes to influence over human nutrition. For the foodservice and grocery industries, Canadian Grocer identifies two main challenges: a shift to more sustainable production methods and alerting consumers of these efforts to build trust. Shoppers are clearly asking for more information about sustainability and that’s reflected in the predicted food trends of 2023. From retailers to restaurants, providing that transparency is an excellent way to engage with the public.

Store Apps Embraced as Part of In-Store Shopping

How many retail-owned apps do you have on your phone? Do you ever look at those apps while you’re shopping in-store? If so, you’re not alone. New research conducted by Kantar for Google found that 78% of consumers surveyed use retailer apps to shop, including 30% who use them when they’re in store aisles. Mobile and retail are merging to create a digital experience for in-store shoppers.

When a customer is walking through a store and looking at products, what compels them to pull up the store app? The number one reason, according to the Kantar study, is to find a deal. Or the shopper could be checking on product availability. But they’re also reading product reviews and making real-time decisions based on feedback from other shoppers. Whether the goal is to learn more about a product or find a promotion, using the app can improve the overall consumer experience.

A store-owned app is an excellent way for retailers to engage with customers and keep them coming back. In fact, the Kantar survey identified the top two app development goals of retailers as improving customer experience and adding new features and functionality—both of which can improve the aforementioned customer experience. Retailers are looking to meet customer needs, build first-party data through relationships and drive usage and engagement. They’re achieving this by learning more about customers and serving up targeted promotions and providing rewards with loyalty programs.

When retailers observe how shoppers interact with apps and listen to feedback, they can offer features that enhance omnichannel shopping. Loyalty programs that offer points, discounts and specials are a no-brainer. But some brands have gone further with free shipping options on certain products and scan-and-go mobile checkouts. Customers can locate and scan items, build a shopping list, download coupons and more. All of these features cater to shoppers who use the app while they’re in the store and help build loyalty so customers are more likely to return.

How does GS1 Canada fit into the picture? Connecting the physical act of shopping with the digital act of shopping takes an understanding of customer needs and access to product information. Global standards ensure product information is uniform and reliable so the customer can recognize their brand, whether they’re looking at an app or pulling it off the shelf. Retail apps can further augment the shopping experience with GS1 Canada tools and services, including Enhanced Assets—a service that provides lifestyle images, videos and other collateral shoppers may want to reference while considering a purchase.

Connecting with consumers allows retailers to learn more about their customers and communicate with them directly. Shoppers today expect their in-person experience to seamlessly align with their online experience. Using an in-store app allows them to make that connection.

The Green Wave—What’s Next in Cannabis

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than four years since the Cannabis Act legalized the consumption and sale of recreational cannabis in Canada. Since that October day in 2018, we’ve seen the proliferation of cannabis stores and changes in the products offered to the public. With that in mind, we’re checking in on the fastest-growing classifications and how GS1 Canada is supporting the cannabis category.

The popularity of edibles is growing in our country. The Canadian government classifies edibles as foods and drinks containing extracts of cannabis. From December 2021 to February 2022, the edible category captured 6% of all Canadian cannabis sales according to data from Headset. In 2021, edible sales grew by 118%, almost twice as fast as the total market. Most of the sales are attributed to gummies, perhaps because of their shelf stability and mass appeal. However, beverages are predicted to be the next cannabis darling with the “fastest growth rate over the last couple of years” according to Diana Eberlein, VP of Sales & Marketing at Sōrse Technology.

To sell cannabis and cannabis-related products in Canada, licensed producers need to use GS1 global standards to identify products and enable supply chain traceability. GS1 Canada has been working with provincial cannabis authorities and representatives from the cannabis business community since the beginning of legalization to ensure those involved can identify and track products as they move through the supply chain. The Canadian Cannabis stakeholders and Cannabis Work Group participants have collaborated to ensure a unique barcoding standard is utilized across the Canadian cannabis industry. An important part of this harmonization is the move to the GS1 DataMatrix by January 1, 2025.

The GS1 DataMatrix is a type of 2D barcode capable of carrying a vast amount of information in a small footprint. Detailed product data can be contained and used on all packaging sizes. Plus, the GS1 DataMatrix uses error correction technology that makes it easier to properly read the barcode even after it has been damaged or otherwise compromised. As the cannabis market continues to evolve and trends come and go, the GS1 DataMatrix is poised to keep retailers and consumers informed and protected.

Upcoming Events

Stay informed and involved with webinars and events from the grocery and foodservice industries.

GS1 Global Forum
February 13 to 16, 2023
Brussels and online
The GS1 Global Forum is the global annual event held to align the organization’s strategy, inspire Member Organizations and strengthen the GS1 staff around the world.

Conference: March 30 to 31, 2023
Trade Show: April 1 to 2, 2023
Vancouver, B.C.
Grow your business and connect directly with retailers from across the country.

Product Enhancements

As part of our commitment to improving our subscriber experience and delivering to industry needs, we are continually enhancing our industry-directed solutions, services and tools.

Visit our Coming Enhancements page regularly for more detailed information on past and upcoming product updates.

Join a Work Group

Feedback and input from our users, including the ongoing review of attributes and solution requirements, are key elements in ensuring solutions continue to deliver value to subscribers and meet industry needs.

Every GS1 Canada subscriber has an opportunity to represent industry interests through active participation in a community work group.

Visit here for more information.

Any Questions?

We’re here to answer questions about your GS1 Canada account, barcodes, product images and more!


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