Retail Council of Canada Grand Prix Awards!

The Canadian retail sector is extremely competitive given the choices consumers have. This is especially true for new brand entrants who face the daunting challenge of generating word of mouth and promoting their brand through open public relations (PR). Not all brands can be like Beyond Meat which has been in the headlines the past 6-9 months on a consistent basis. Yet, what type of PR could these brands generate if their new product entrant won a prestigious new product award? For the past 3 years, I have had the honour to be a juror for The Retail Council of Canada Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards, prominent recognition new product entrants covet.

The Retail Council of Canada is The Voice of Retail™ representing over 45,000 independent, regional, national mass and specialty retail businesses and online merchants in general merchandise, drug, and grocery. Their mission “is to advance the interests of the retail industry through effective advocacy, communications and education”.

They commenced the Canadian Grand Prix Awards in 1993 to provide retailers and businesses with the unique opportunity to showcase their new products in the food, non-food and private label categories. The products entered must have been introduced and made available in Canada for the first time between January 1 and December 31 of the previous calendar year.


Under the guidance of Ms. Stephanie Lear, Ms. Saaloni Sharma and, Chef Marcus Von Albrecht, a jury of industry experts judge the entrants against the following evaluation criteria:

  1. Innovation and Originality – 25%. How is the product new and different and to what extent is it different from other products in this category?
  2. Product Characteristics – 25%. The functional and informational aspects of the product are evaluated. i.e. appearance, taste, texture, and overall sensory appeal.
  3. Presentation and Packaging – 25%. Instructions on how to use the product. Is the packaging user-friendly and adequately designed? Is it environmentally friendly or environmentally innocuous?
  4. Overall Consumer Value – 25%. Is there good value to the dollar for the consumer?
2020 Canadian Grand Prix Awards Juror War Room

To reach the finalist status a product must have achieved a cumulated average score of 70% or more. This past month 116 products were evaluated over 4 days. The final declaration of the winners is revealed at the Grand Prix Gala on September 15, 2020, in Toronto.


The expert jurors come from diversified industry backgrounds, including but not limited to the food, publishing, greeting card and Government food agency sectors. One of the jurors is a judge on Top Chef Canada.


This is an industry-leading event that provides benefits to all product entrants that include but not limited to:

  1. Product feedback on new product launches from industry experts.
  2. Product exposure to industry experts in their field.
  3. Prospective winner of a prestigious award business can communicate to customers, retailers, brokers, and distributors.


To learn more about the Retail Council of Canada Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards, please visit their website:


The past 3 years to be a juror for the Canadian Grand Prix Awards is an experience beyond words.


Not only has it given me a greater appreciation for retail business as a whole, but also the time and energy these brands take to provide us with new innovative food products. Finally, to my fellow judges thank you for the memories, your insights, and friendship. I look forward to 2021. A special thank you to Stephanie Lear for her invitation to become a juror for this prestigious award.