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    EDITOR’S NOTE: 2010: A Center Store Odyssey

    A new year offers a fresh start. This idea holds as true for the center store as any other part of the supermarket. To begin with, grocers can expect forward-looking CPG manufacturers to really step up to the plate in terms of making their businesses more effective, streamlining their supply chain practices and bringing their marketing strategies more decisively into the digital age.

    A new year offers a fresh start. This idea holds as true for the center store as any other part of the supermarket. To begin with, grocers can expect forward-looking CPG manufacturers to really step up to the plate in terms of making their businesses more effective, streamlining their supply chain practices and bringing their marketing strategies more decisively into the digital age. According to the partners of the Consumer, Media and Digital Practice at Booz & Co., a New York-based global management consulting firm, manufacturers that fail to deal constructively with these issues do so at their peril.

    And, with private label making ever more inroads in the grocery section, A&P’s updated Preferred Pet product line seemed particularly timely. For the successfully rebooted line, the New Jersey-based grocer teamed up with New York branding expert CBX, which was able not only to freshen the products’ appearance and positioning, but also situate them for further growth as trends in the pet category continue to evolve.

    Of course, health and wellness isn’t going away anytime soon as a major driver of consumer purchases, and food makers such as General Mills, Campbell Soup Co. and Sara Lee are committed to keeping pace with shopper desires in this area, by unveiling new better-for-you formulations such as reduced sodium and sugar contents, and more essential nutrients per serving. Speaking of health and wellness, PepsiCo has joined forces with Yale University to foster research that will lead to the development of next-generation healthier food products.

    In the realm of packaging, GreenBlue’s Sustainable Packaging Coalition has released a new framework to help CPG companies gauge the environmental friendliness of their packaging, with the aim of providing consistent guidance across the industry. When the results of pilot testing of the framework’s metrics become available, expect the next version to incorporate them.

    Finally, since higher efficiency and profitability are always in fashion, Sunny Delight Beverages Co.’s successful expansion of its trade promotion management (TPM) solution from MEI throughout all of its finance, product supply and logistics operations is bound to inspire other manufacturers to do likewise.

    All of these ideas should have a real-world, positive impact in grocery sections across the country and globally, both this year and beyond. In terms of creative thinking that leads to the promise of practical, tangible results, the future has never looked brighter in center store.

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