The Challenge of Getting Listed in Grocery Stores

Each year, thousands of ambitious food entrepreneurs start new businesses. In 2018, 11% of small business start-ups were in the food/restaurant business.[i] These entrepreneurs feel bright and full of hope and have the dream of having their products listed by a major grocery retailer. What once may have been a slam dunk, today the challenge of getting listed in grocery stores is becoming increasingly more difficult given the following:

  1. Retailers carried 4% fewer products in 2018 than they did in 2017.
  2. The number of new products launched in 2018 (43,524) represented a 12% decline from the previous year.
  3. The number of products de-listed was 10.5% higher than the number of new products listed. [ii]

grocery store listing

As consumers’ eating and shopping habits continue to evolve, grocers are responding by changing up the way they allocate space. The 2018 U.S. Grocery Tracker report from JLL noted that “grocers are focusing on online shopping, grocery delivery, and click-and-collect digital platforms.” “As the online presence of stores gets bigger, the physical store footprints are shrinking, and retailers’ priorities are changing”.[iii] Across Canada, 89% of retailers are planning increases in the allocation for fresh prepared, grab-and-go sections in the next two years, taking advantage of shoppers’ demands for meal solutions. Additional categories anticipated to gain more space at grocery stores:

Categories Anticipated to Gain More Shelf Space[iv]

Grocery Store Listing Chart

Note: Figures above indicate % of retailers planning to give these categories more space

With limited shelf space and the number of de-listed products outpacing new introductions retailers seek innovative new products that capitalize on the fastest-growing food categories that include: 1. Plant-based, 2. Organic, 3. Halal certified, 4. Allergen-free, and 5. Digestive health. When presenting to a retailer come prepared to discuss:

  1. What makes your brand unique?
  2. What do you bring to the category and why will it contribute to an increase in category sales?
  3. Will your brand be competitively priced?
  4. Your brand’s manufacturing facilities credentials?
  5. How do you intend to support the brand’s launch internally and externally?

Keep in mind when you are successfully listed, grocery retailers provide new brands entrants a short probationary period to prove themselves. Come prepared to hit the ground running. For support in how to get listed and stay listed in grocery stores, contact me and we’ll have a chat.




[i] Start Up Statistics, The Numbers You Need to Know,, March 2019

[ii] The Store of Tomorrow, Less Can Be More, Nielsen, Carman Allison, November 2019

[iii] How is the Grocery Store Footprint Changing,,

[iv] How Spaces are Changing at Grocery Stores,, December 2019