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    Category Captain: Value-added Vegetables: Mann Packing Co.

    Leveraging category management and consumer research, Mann Packing Co. brings innovation to the growing value-added vegetable category.

    Leveraging category management and consumer research, Mann Packing Co. brings innovation to the growing value-added vegetable category.

    Since 2006, the category’s sales have increased steadily as more and more consumers seek out healthy snacking options. A leader in the value-added vegetable category, this third-generation, family-owned company contracted multiple research projects throughout the past year to ensure its product line met consumers’ needs. The goal was to understand gaps in the category so that Mann Packaging could create innovative products to meet consumers’ needs and drive category sales at retail.

    Among the key findings, research revealed household penetration and sales of prepared vegetables are on the rise, and snacking vegetables are a primary driver of this growth. Volume sales of value-added snacking vegetables increased 7.8 percent in the 52 weeks ending April 30; this increase was greater than vegetable side dishes, meal preparation items, trays and the value-added vegetable category overall.

    Results from a custom study of consumer snacking habits indicated there’s even more opportunity to expand the snacking vegetables category. While 70 percent eat raw fruits as snacks, only 40 percent of consumers eat raw vegetable as snacks.

    At the store level, Mann Packing conducted consumer interviews to gather more knowledge about what consumers want from snacking vegetables. Combined with the custom study results, Mann Packing concluded that consumers, especially children, are particular about the types and cuts of vegetables they prefer as snacks. Most consumers value carrots and celery for snacking, and they prefer them to be in single-serve packages with low price points. The research discovered that children prefer carrot chips over baby carrots, despite the fact that most vegetable snack packs have baby carrots.

    Galvanized by this extensive research on the trends and consumer needs surrounding value-added vegetables, Mann Packing identified opportunities for more snacking options within the value-added vegetable category. In June 2011, the company introduced 12 new Snacks on the Go! items in three package types. The platform is a full line of fresh-cut vegetable and fruit packaged in multiple convenient combinations.

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