2024 40 Under Forty Winner: Lindsay Young

Senior Manager Produce Category Development
Federated Cooperatives Limited
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Age: 38
Hometown: Airdrie, Alberta, Canada
Hobbies: Yoga, Gardening, Skiing, Crafting
Family/Community: Married, 1 son
Motto in life: Keep on keeping on.

Young started her career at Federated Cooperatives Limited in October 2013 and has held multiple roles over the past decade. She started as a category manager, covering the dairy and juice desk. After about two years, she transferred over to the fresh side of the business as the fresh resource manager. In this position, she coached the fresh category management team (meat, deli, bakery and produce) on day-to-day activities and provided necessary training and guidance.

In 2017, the position of produce procurement and category development manager became available, and she relocated to Calgary to start her career in produce. In this role, she provided leadership and guidance to the produce procurement and category teams around inventory management and category development processes. After a restructuring in 2020, she became the produce category development manager. In her current role, she oversees the category management team responsible for product assortment negotiations, shelf management strategies, vendor support, and marketing item selection. She was awarded the Outstanding Women in Produce award through CPMA and Grocery Business magazine in 2021.

Q: How did you begin working in the produce industry?

Almost seven years ago, I joined the produce team after spending most of my career on the center store side of the grocery business. I was initially attracted to the challenge that produce offered me to grow my skills. I have since stayed because of the great people who work in this industry and make it so rewarding.

Q: What do you know now you wish you knew when you first started your career?

Every day is different. You must learn to adapt and change your plans quickly. There is very little routine in this industry, but that’s what keeps it exciting.

Q: What is the one thing in your business you are most passionate about?

I am passionate about local, whether it’s fostering new relationships with growers who are just starting or nurturing the long-term relationships we have developed with local growers across Western Canada for many years. Working with local growers to supply local produce to the communities we serve is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

Q: What are some ways we can increase produce consumption at the point of sale?

Try to get one more item in the basket through new items and varieties. Educate consumers on new and exciting varieties through ads, promos, and social media to help create understanding and excitement.

Q: What advice would you give someone new to the produce industry?

Be a sponge; ask as many questions as you can. This industry is full of passionate people who are more than happy to help you learn. If you are given an opportunity to travel to the growing regions, take it. My first trip to California was pivotal in my career — it was eye-opening and helped me gain a much better understanding of the industry.

Q: What do you see as a critical issue facing the industry in the next decade and why?

Instability in the supply chain. We are facing more concerns across the entire supply chain than ever before — labor shortages, weather events, water concerns, and port delays to name a few. I see local options and CEA continuing to gain momentum as the industry tries to control the more volatile aspects of the supply chain.