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    Better for You, Better for Center Store

    Free-from products are in high demand, and that’s good for center store

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    PG's Jim Dudlicek with organic strategist Dan Lohman at Expo West

    Free-from products are in high demand, and that’s good for center store.

    I saw plenty at the recent Natural Products Expo West that grocers can leverage to drive interest in center store, such as:

    • Calbee: Black Bean Harvest Snaps, in Mango Chile Lime and Habanero, the latest additions to Calbee’s growing line of snap pea and lentil-based crunchy snacks.
    • Eureka Baking: New organic breads – Saaa-Wheat, Top Seed, Sweet Baby Grains and Smooth Wheat, in 18-ounce loaves at 90 calories per slice.
    • Ginnybakes: A great line of allergen-free cookies with three new varieties: Cranberry Pistachio Bliss, Sweet Cinnamon Love and Ginger Crisp Love.
    • Good2Grow: Juicy Waters, organic flavored waters with no added sugar at 30 calories per 8-ounce serving, out since January, in grape and fruit punch varieties.
    • La Croix: Two new line extensions – La Cola, s a clear, light cola-flavored drink, available in 8-packs of 12-ounce cans, as well as 8-ounce cans; and La Croix Jardin, a sweet and spicy sparkling water in Strawberry Chile, Pineapple Cilantro and Carrot Cinnamon flavors, in 4-packs of 12-ounce glass bottles.
    • Nature’s Path: Love Crunch Bars, an extension of its flagship granola line, along with oatmeal and bars as part of its Qia superfood cereal line, plus a premium version of its Que Pasa tortilla chips, a thicker, boldly flavored chip made with quinoa, chia and other ancient grains.
    • OneCoffee: A 99 percent compostable K-cup, launching in United States  later this year in Southern California.
    • Pasta Chips: Veggie Pasta Chips, the first variety made with spinach, broccoli and kale; roasted pepper & sun-dried tomato is coming soon (a Rosemary variety is joining the core line in May). Along with a recent packaging refresh, the brand went non-GMO and lowered the sodium across all its products.
    • Popchips: Two new flavors, Crazy Hot and Sweet Potato Cinnamon Twist.
    • Snyder’s Lance: The market’s first gluten-free sandwich crackers, available in peanut butter and cheddar cheese varieties.

    Organic Growth

    While at Expo West, I had a chance to chat with organic strategist Dan Lohman, who offered his own thoughts about how to revitalize center store with natural and organic products.

    “Retailers looking to compete more effectively in any channel and in any economy need to remain laser-focused on meeting their shopper’s needs,” Lohman says. “There are a lot of untapped opportunities to grow center store sales and make shopping there an adventure. Natural products provide an excellent way to drive shopper foot traffic and to grow sustainable sales at retail.”

    You can read more from Dan Lohman in my article on center store category management, coming in PG’s April 2015 issue.

    Meanwhile, read more about opportunities in the free-from category on page 46 of our March issue.

    Follow me on Twitter: @jimdudlicek

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editorial director of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing.

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