Global Groceries: News from the Front

6 Jun

On the Front Lines of Food Retail

I’ve spent the last few years as a kind of globe-trotting retail anthropologist innovating for top supermarkets and restaurants round the world. From vantage points in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, its clear the food industry is battling two fast-moving fronts: Digital and “Diabesity” (DD).  Digital technology, in the form of near 24/7 on-line shopping, meals delivery and personalized coupons, isn’t yet as bulging as waistlines, but it’s sweeping the aisles at pace. Diabesity, aka the packaged food diet, hasn’t met a stranger yet, and whilst its killing processed foodies, it’s also confounding center store merchants, beverage companies and mass manufacturers alike.

Healthy Retailing = Food + Sport

When I founded Food Sport in 2009, I set out to build a link between food retailing, restaurants and manufacturing, by addressing the emerging need to re-think business models alongside the growing imperatives in global diets and health.  I’ve learned a lot, scored successes and failed some too, but what’s become apparent to me, is that despite some cultural differences, for example the Aussies and Poms enjoy a bizarre, uni-directional trolley wheel,  the industry shares the same challenges, though the leaders are sprinting rather than power-pointing.

Responsibility to Lead

Food has the unique power to lift economies and transform health. I recently returned to Sydney from two weeks in the States discussing DD with leaders in Washington, DC, and then during panels at the Milken Global Conference in LA (#2014gc).  From coast to coast, from Whole Foods to Pepsi, Let’s Move! to G.E., CVS to George Washington University and more,  I can report that food policy is on both public and private menus, but it’ll take expertise and experience to catalyze change.

We can make the healthy choice the easy choice by designing smarter, smaller, more efficient stores and tailoring the range (Trader Joes, USA).  We can use only whole foods and native ingredients (Chef Kylie Kwong, AU). We can use web/mobile to shift the mix to higher grossing, healthy own brand (Zipongo, USA). We can make cigarettes -$2.5b harder to find (Troy Brennan/CVS, USA).  We can advocate customers, and their loyalty, by providing access to fresh food and education (Walter Robb/Whole Foods, USA/UK).  We can employ digital technology to blunt Amazon (Fresh Direct, NYC, Click & Collect, Tesco, UK, Woolworths, AU). We can pedal healthy vending machines and natural snacks (Fresh Vending, Bolthouse Farms, USA/ AU).  We can harness science and self-manufacturing for good (H-E-B Grocery, Mootopia Milk). We can combine fresh food with convenience in the city centre (Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, UK). We can champion family dinner with affordable, clean-label rotisserie chicken (Costco, Can). We can manufacture clean-label prepared foods (Bakkavor, UK).  We can grow kids who chef (Jamie Oliver, Woolworths Supermarkets, AU).

There are countless examples round the globe today that showcase the power and ingenuity of the food industry doing well, by doing good. To affect the scope and scale of reform needed to restore health in our communities and grow profits in our board rooms, learn from the best, adopt innovation, and decide to make it a race rather than a journey.

Share your ideas…and saddle up!


Suzy Monford is the President/Founder of Food Sport International. Some of the companies she’s worked with include: USA:H-E-Butt Grocery, H-E-B Central Market.  AU: Coles, Woolworths Supermarkets. UK: Morrisons. Canada: Loblaw Great Food. Contact her on linkedIn or


Questionable Sense Oz Direction

15 Jul

So two + weeks into my new Ozventure, and starting to feel a bit cheeky.  But despite this budding sense of confidence, I know better than to get a big head.  Cases in point:

1) Morning commutes to the Head Office: 6

  • Success rate with correct exits: 65%.
  • Success rate finding a place to make reasonably legal-ish U-turns: 0%.
  • Instinctive feel for which exit is the “3rd after entering round-about”: 25%.
  • Success rate not scraping left hand curbs, aka  the passenger side: 50%.

2) Good Cuppa Joe. This is hard to find unless you want coffee that is really frothy milk with bit of espresso.

  • Success rate holding up the line while asking for simple coffee–long black with cold skinny milk on the side: 90%
  • Really confused Barista repeating the exact words I said back to me but as a question: 100%

3) Learning new company’s lingo.

  • While on tour of produce warehouse I heard them make an announcement for all the Chinese to gather in the 3* room.  I naturally asked why Woolies was segregating it’s immigrant workers, and my veg cred is now is serious jeopardy.

4) Don’t Mess with Texas.

  • Had flat tire when leaving new store in Woolloomooloo. Shit. Called Aussie version of AAA and later met George the tire change man, who upon learning I was from Texas, excitedly made make-believe pistols out of his hands and yelled “bang, bang, bang, bang” and then holstered his fingers into his pants pockets. Over next few minutes, I tried to explain that not everyone in Texas is a brain-less, pro-choice for men only, gun toting yahoo.

Saddling Up in Sydney,



Leaving Comfort(able) Texas

2 Jul

Leaving Comfort(able) Texas.

Leaving Comfort(able) Texas

30 Jun

Comfort(able) Texas

Since it was my last Texas Sunday for a while, I was mindful of Dorothy’s famous quote from the Wizard of Oz, “Sometimes you have to travel around the world in order to discover your own backyard.”.  Wheels down with friends for an “exploratory ride” through Comfort Texas, we meandered, toured, and climbed the 20-ish* hills near Skyline drive, all in fun, and to earn our upcoming lunch and wine bar lounging.

For a Texas girl raised on sweaty Helotes nights at John Floores Country Store, long days at the barn training to stay in the saddle regardless of jump or horse, beer drinking and Economics at UT (hook ’em), careers in SA, Austin, Dallas and Houston,  saddling up for the move to Sydney made me appreciate Comfort every bit as much as the other beautiful towns I’ve been lucky enough to cycle through in France, Italy, Australia and the U.S. .
So wish me well as I move far from my comfort zone; one of my friends is keen to say “wherever you go, there you are”.  I believe it, because even as I sit here now, on the other side of the world, I can go to Comfort in my mind, and I’m there.
Love and Cheers Y’all!

Happy (almost) Spring 2013!

7 Mar

I realized this morning over coffee and my NYTimes, that somehow the calendars’ reached March 7 and there is a glaring lack of blog’s so far in my 2013 movie. There are heaps of things and topics to write about…the whole “new year-new you” healthy blah-blah-blah, the NRA’s woeful inability  to discern the difference between musket entitlement and AR- toting cowboys,  the President’s allergy to budgets, and the revelation that sugar, like sex, sells$!  But really, do you want me to pile on? Just wake your butt up a little earlier and do what I do…read the papers and watch Morning Joe.

So W.A.I.T.? Why am I talking? (FYI this, along with “don’t make up nicknames for your direct reports”, was the best tip from my last executive job coach.)

I’m talking because I have something valuable to say, or full disclosure, allow me to share a favorite new quote I’m stealing from a greeting card I bought at the farmer market last Saturday: ” Did you ever stop to think and then forget to start again?” (A.A. Milne 1882-1956). I’ve decided I  love, love that quote, and am proclaiming it my mantra for Spring. Yes, we all need to saddle up and engage life, but we also need to calm down, be present, do something real, add value and don’t over-think everything damn thing. With my health coach hat on I offer this: sleep more, eat clean, move as much as you possibly can, and turn off your digital friends when in the company of real ones. In short, do more–think less.  Ahh…bring on Spring.

Meditation Techniques

Rock THE Vote!

23 Oct
 Rock the Vote Dark T-Shirt
“Rock the vote!  I don’t know about you, but despite being a confessed political junkie, this election cycle has taken it out of me. Between the financial fakery agendas, flip-flopping olympics, and 1950’s sexism, I’m ready to vote for a candidate I really believe in–one that will have my back, be honest and true, and protect me as I explore the world.  Yep, I vote for health.  The foods we eat and the fitness we engage define freedom in our house of representatives. With every bite, we cast a vote for our health– for our mood, outlook and energy, positive or negative, at that very moment.
To feel fit is to feel fabulous no matter who you are or what you do. So often our habits become us, and without realizing it, we let money, jobs, and social politics become the singular partisan agendas that consume our life’s campaign resources. But really, it’s health and fitness that represent the true democratic, non-partisan ideals that enable us to be all we dream.
So I invite you to cross the aisle and stop electing the chemicalized, processed fake foods that trap you in the negative ad cycles of low energy and gloomy outlook. Cast your ballot for the candidates who will always deliver on their promise: real, whole, fresh foods, and fitness. Vote for YOU!  Plate plants first at most meals, move  a lot, lift heavy things, break a sweat  everyday and go breathless as often as you can get away with it.
The polls are open. Rock the Vote!
Suzy Monford is CEO of Food Sport International, and is a certified holistic health coach and fitness instructor.
More information can be found on

Cycling Le Tour – Poetry in the Slipstream

17 Jul

Cycling Le Tour – Poetry in the Slipstream.