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    EDITOR’S NOTE: Spring Fever

    Spring arrives this month, and with it a bountiful new crop of center store opportunities. Among the occasion-based initiatives on tap are Hershey’s Easter product lineup, which includes some exciting new items; McCormick’s virtual workshop offering inventive ways for consumers to enliven their holiday celebrations; and Kraft’s big new partnership with NCAA and CBS Sports, which will begin rolling out a range of marketing initiatives during March Madness.

    Spring arrives this month, and with it a bountiful new crop of center store opportunities. Among the occasion-based initiatives on tap are Hershey’s Easter product lineup, which includes some exciting new items; McCormick’s virtual workshop offering inventive ways for consumers to enliven their holiday celebrations; and Kraft’s big new partnership with NCAA and CBS Sports, which will begin rolling out a range of marketing initiatives during March Madness.

    On the research front, a survey by New York’s Brand Keys shows that even in this age of rising private label penetration rates, brands are still important to value-seeking consumers, particularly in the realms of loyalty and engagement. In fact, the brand and customer loyalty and engagement consultancy has even dubbed this surge of interest the “Decade of the Brand.”

    And while the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest has found many food companies wanting in their policies on the marketing of sugar- and fat-laden snacks to children, The Grocery Manufacturers Association has rightly responded by pointing out all of the progress the food industry has voluntarily made in this area so far, as well as mentioning CPG companies’ ongoing and newly established partnerships with the federal government and the first lady of the United States.

    Finally, aseptic packaging continues its march into the mainstream with SunOpta’s news of the retrofit and expansion of its facility producing the cartons, in addition to its deal to manufacture a line of natural soups and broths for an international manufacturer.

    More exciting news is undoubtedly on the horizon, as the economic recovery begins to take hold in earnest on the consumer level, and shoppers steadily begin to add back some — but probably not all, given their newly learned frugality — discretionary purchases in the grocery section and elsewhere. Stay tuned, and enjoy the fruits of the season after a long, hard winter.

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