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    PG Web Extra: Grilling’s Grasp Grows

    Convenience, strategic marketing pushes outdoor cooking beyond traditional boundaries

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ

    According to the latest consumer trend studies, savvy grocers should cast a wider net with their grilling promotions.

    “The grill is not just a summer pleasure anymore,” asserts the 2015 edition of Acosta Sales & Marketing’s “The Why? Behind the Buy” report. The 12th installment from Jacksonville, Fla.-based Acosta reveals that 61 percent of shoppers who grill reported that they’re doing so eight or more months of the year, with that figure jumping to 68 percent for the all-important Millennial demographic.

    And outdoor cooking enthusiasts are looking beyond the steaks, burgers and chicken that historically dominate most grills.

    “We are excited about the momentum that we see building for ground turkey, turkey tenderloins, turkey sausage and cutlets,” says Keith Williams, VP of marketing and communications for the National Turkey Federation (NTF), in Washington, D.C.

    NTF is planning to partner with Weber Grills and Kenwood Vineyards for an in-store pizza grilling promotion that will include a mail-in rebate and instant-rebate coupons for turkey products. “We are also reaching out to retail dietitians through events, conferences and social media to provide them with the materials they can use to educate consumers about how turkey is also a delicious and sometimes overlooked star of the grill,” Williams notes.

    Retailers should remind customers that “grilling is easy, convenient and perfect for a weekday meal solution,” he adds. “Packaging ‘grill meal’ kits that have all of the ingredients needed for a complete meal will appeal to customers and also be profitable. Retailers should include inspiring meal recipes that feature hot trends in their loyalty magazines and promote these on their social media and websites as well.”

    NTF offers retailers a free turkey grilling “tip sheet” that they can provide to shoppers who may not be familiar with the best methods for grilling different cuts of turkey.

    “Retailers need to be thinking about reaching the consumer before they even get in the store,” asserts NCBA’s Kearns. “Checkoff-funded research shows that most shoppers, particularly Millennials, go to the store with meals in mind.  If it’s not on their list, it’s not likely to get in the cart.  Opportunities like digital partnerships, social media and digital advertising are all ways to make an impression and draw customers back to the meat case.”

    Grilling gadgetry

    While outdoor cooking enthusiasts “ooh” and “ahh” over the latest grills down at the home center, accessories can enhance the experience as well.

    “We think the hottest trend in grilling is high-tech grilling tools going mainstream,” says Tracy Sinclair, chief marketing officer for Chicago-based Pre Brands. “In particular, we love the iGrill2, a connected thermometer that remotely monitors the temperature of meat on the grill. This is a particularly great tool for grilling Pre’s 100 percent grass-fed steaks and burgers, as our meat is naturally leaner and cooks faster. Having a meat thermometer that communicates through your iPhone ensures your burgers are cooked perfectly every time, and you can still enjoy your party while they cook.”

    Pre Brands works closely with its retailers to ensure they have materials to support the grilling season, Sinclair adds: “We provide exciting seasonal recipe content from our bloggers, extensive sampling events at new stores, price promotions to drive trial, social media support, and direct mail or digital.”

    Ethnic twists

    San Francisco-based Ramar Foods offers the flavor of the Philippines to the world with its Turo-Turo Gourmet BBQ skewers.

    A family business, Ramar Foods pioneered the original frozen Filipino BBQ skewers in 1998. Turo, which means “point” in Filipino, became “turo-turo,” referring to one of the multitudes of roadside cafes and restaurants in the Philippines where customers choose from an array of dishes and simply point to the one they want.

    Available in barbecued pork and chicken, Ramar’s skewers come pre-seasoned with sauce and spices, ready for the grill. Available in packs of 10 sticks for $8.99 at participating retailers, they also come as appetizer packs of 6 sticks for $5.99. Ideal for kids and adults alike, these flavorful BBQ skewers step up the taste factor and hit the spot for summer.

    Upper crust

    While most people think of English muffins as a breakfast staple, Bimbo Bakeries USA’s Thomas’ brand suggests the crunchy muffins as an alternative to a traditional hamburger roll.

    Thomas’ offers such recipes as California Style Grilled Turkey Burgers and others to put a unique spin on outdoor eating.

    Thomas’ also offers a Sandwich Size English Muffin, available in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States, as an option for grilling recipes.

    Read about merchandising opportunities for summer grilling in PG’s April 2016 issue.

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editor-in-chief 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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