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Lactalis Canada Announces 2023 NEXT Ventures Innovation Competition Winning Project

December 4, 2023

Digital innovation at the forefront of this year’s competition focused on continuous improvement

December 4, 2023 – Toronto, ON – Lactalis Canada, the Canadian dairy leader behind iconic brands like Cracker Barrel, Black Diamond, Balderson, Astro and Lactantia and a subsidiary of France-based Lactalis Group, is pleased to announce the winners of Lactalis Canada NEXT Ventures – the company’s second annual internal innovation competition designed to bring new ideas to the forefront by reimagining and rethinking processes, technologies, products, and business models through future thinking, creativity and digital transformation.

With the 2023 theme of Continuous Improvement, the internal crowdsourcing program saw close to 100 innovative and creative submissions from employees at all levels and areas across the organization. A range of submissions were underscored by emerging digital technologies including AI and Machine Learning to enable process enhancement and efficiency, automation, enablement of value-added tasks, service level improvement, innovative packaging and optimized collaboration.

“I am thrilled to congratulate the winning team, the finalists and all of the innovators who have truly epitomized the spirit of our NEXT Ventures program. The range and calibre of submissions for this year’s program demonstrates, yet again, the incredible talent, innovative spirt and intrapreneurship that exists within Lactalis Canada,” said Mark Taylor, President and CEO, Lactalis Canada. “Interestingly, digital transformation was a common theme throughout this year’s program and we look forward to leveraging the expertise and leadership of Lactalis Canada’s digital lab, LLabs, in mentoring, driving and incubating both the winning project and other ideas on a go forward basis.”

Aptly named DemandSense, the winning project focuses on improved forecasting accuracy for customers through digital transformation using enhancements such as AI technology. The project team comprises of members of Lactalis Canada’s Yogourt & Cultured Division Amanda d’Halluin, Trade Marketing Director, Diego Avendano, Category Insights Analyst, Philippe-Olivier Provencher, Revenue Growth Manager, Rozenn Juguet, Supply Planning Manager, and Patrick Belgar, Category Information Manager.

As a key component of the NEXT Ventures program, the winning project will now go into multi-year incubation with a dedicated project team, key resources, tools and internal and external expertise to build and implement this technology.


Lactalis Canada NEXT Ventures

First launched in April 2022, Lactalis Canada NEXT Ventures is an annual program designed to spur and accelerate future thinking, innovation, and creativity by empowering our people and leveraging internal crowdsourcing to explore ideas and bring to market new products, processes, digital technologies or business models. With a new theme every year, contributors with the most inventive and potentially viable proposals have the unique opportunity to participate in a comprehensive program to further explore and develop these new ideas from inception to implementation through the facilitation of mentorships, collaboration, resource support and external partnerships.

Following an open call to all employees in April 2023, this year’s edition of Lactalis Canada’s NEXT Ventures program saw close to 100 submissions from across the organization. In alignment with the theme of Continuous Improvement, the top 20 finalists submitted video proposals. Of these, the top three innovative ideas were selected based on the potential impact and feasibility of each proposal. The top three finalists, who were all awarded a cash prize, participated in the Lactalis Canada Next Ventures Pitch Day held in Toronto, Ontario where they presented their proposed projects to the NEXT Council panel comprised of a cross-functional team of leaders from across the organization, including Lactalis Canada’s President and CEO. Each idea was carefully evaluated by the panel based on innovativeness, sustainability and viability to determine the Lactalis Canada NEXT Ventures winner.

Lactalis Labs (LLabs), Lactalis Canada’s new innovation hub dedicated to enabling digital transformation through technology solutions, AI, Machine Learning and data science capabilities, will serve as a partner to many of the ideas coming out of the Lactalis Canada NEXT Ventures program.

Since the program launched in 2022, Lactalis Canada NEXT Ventures has received more than 200 ideas from across the organization and in addition to the winning team, many other project ideas continue to be explored due to their viability and value to the business.


About Lactalis Canada Inc.

With 140 years of brand heritage, Lactalis Canada is committed to enriching and nurturing the lives of Canadians by producing nutritious and great tasting dairy products. Named on Forbes list of Canada’s Best Employers, Lactalis Canada directly employs more than 4,000 employees, supports hundreds of farming families and contributes to the livelihoods of thousands of Canadians who provide essential services to Lactalis Canada’s more than 30 operating sites including 20 manufacturing facilities. The company’s iconic brands include Cracker Barrel, Black Diamond, P’tit Québec, Balderson, Cheestrings Ficello, aMOOza!, Astro, Khaas, siggi’s, IÖGO, IÖGO nanö, Olympic, Lactantia, Beatrice, Marie Morin Canada, Galbani, and Président. Lactalis Canada is part of Lactalis Group, the world’s leading dairy company, headquartered in Laval, France.



Media Contact:

Sarah Sutton

Manager, Corporate Communications, Lactalis Canada