M&M Food Market celebrates 40 years of putting meals on Canadians’ dinner tables amid the COVID-19 pandemic
By Stefanie Ucci
Since 1980, M&M Food Market has been putting delicious and nutritious meals on Canadians’ tables from coast to coast, becoming a trusted dinner guest and the country’s leading retailer of frozen foods.
Four decades later in 2020, M&M Food Market celebrated reaching 40 years in business. However, while commemorating this milestone, they were hit with the unexpected and challenging journey of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through the difficult and changing times, the brand came together to implement new protocols to protect franchisees, staff, and customers while staying top of mind for hungry Canadians. They continuously evolve to keep up with dynamic and ever-changing needs, as seen through their “The Future is Frozen” mindset, which focuses on providing quick and easy frozen meals for customers to serve their families.
The future is frozen for health-conscious Canadians
In recent years, M&M Food Market has transformed to keep up with Canadians’ changing eating habits. Consumer insights identified key needs that helped shape the brand positioning of “Helping Make Real Food for Real Life,” which acted as the foundation for changes to more than half of their product offerings that were either newly created or reformulated.
Additionally, spring 2018 marked M&M Food Market’s success as the only food retailer in Canada with an entire portfolio of products that contain no artificial colours, flavours, or sweeteners, remaining a key differentiator that sets them apart from their competition. In addition to that promise, the brand offers more than 35 gluten-free products spanning across all of their frozen food categories.
A new shopping experience
If you’ve visited an M&M Food Market in the past few years, you likely noticed that many aspects of the shopping experience have recently changed. The M&M Food Market team worked together to reinvent the company through one of the most transformative rebranding efforts in the Canadian retail industry which began in 2016 after Searchlight Capital acquired the brand and changed the name to M&M Food Market and innovated virtually every aspect of the business. This included a variety of changes to the in-store experience to appeal to more people and stay top of mind for existing customers.
The new store design includes features such as a modern “kitchen” layout, no more counters, reach-in and easy-to-shop freezers enabling self-serve shopping, inspiring menu boards showcasing their products, full-colour packaging featuring appetizing product photos, and new uniform and training programs for in-store Meal Advisors.
In addition, M&M Food Market also created a fresh website for customers to shop online for products and schedule in-store pickup, curbside pickup at every store, or home delivery to most markets in the country.
Facing the unexpected challenges
As nearly every franchise across the country has experienced, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced its own changes and challenges to M&M Food Market. Fortunately for this brand, they’ve seen a spike in demand for their products and a significant increase in traffic and sales since March 2020.
Using quick planning and working closely with their valued suppliers and distribution partner, the M&M Food Market team managed to maintain a steady stream of products to all of their locations across Canada. They’ve even seen an influx of new customers along with old customers who have been re-introduced to their brand.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, M&M Food Market saw a significant spike in sales from their eCommerce channels during the pandemic as more customers shopped online to comply with social distancing protocols.
M&M Food Market’s number one priority is protecting the health and safety of their customers and in-store teams. They have introduced numerous safety protocols and changes, including a corporate sanitization program and employee diagnosis protocols, suspended in-store sampling, limiting the number of people in stores, curbside pickup, and more.
They’ve also recognized the need to support children, families, and seniors in their communities and did that through donating more than $300,000 in masks, gift cards, and food to hospitals, Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, and HelpAge Canada programs.
Supporting their franchisees
With more than 300 locations across Canada, the M&M franchise is a well-known and trusted Canadian brand that has positioned itself as a household name.
Franchisees have support from the moment they join the franchise, as they’re provided with the tools, training, and assistance they need to build their business. Franchise Partners benefit from joining an established brand with regional and national advertising, public relations campaigns, and more than three million weekly flyers sent to customers.
The M&M Food Market team is looking for new franchisees who are passionate about the brand and excited to grow their business with the backing and support of the franchise. As active members of their communities, Franchise Partners get to know their customers and get involved with local charities, non-profit organizations, and community groups.
As for training, each Franchise Partner goes through comprehensive in-class and on-site training from experts in all areas and is offered ongoing support from head office and regular communication with Area Managers.
During the pandemic, M&M Food Market also introduced Real Academy, a new online training platform that replaces in-person training which normally takes place at head office. The M&M team hosts training sessions and webinars in a virtual classroom to efficiently train team members regardless of where in the country they are located.
Prospective franchisees who are considering joining the franchise community right now should be prepared to work hard but can also look forward to the rewards that are well worth the grit.
A key to M&M’s 40 years in business is their ability to never stand still, innovate, and adapt to the challenges of everyday while preparing for a brighter tomorrow.
A lot has changed since the first M&M store was opened, but their dedication to offering customers top-quality, simple-to-prepare foods, and best-in-class personalized customer service remains at the heart of everything they do. REAL Food for REAL Life. A Real Opportunity. Visit their website for opportunities they have available nationally at www.mmfoodmarket.com