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How can grocers get Millennials to buy more bread? And how can they show shoppers they care about their food sensitivities?
These were among the issues explored during the final day of the annual International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Expo this week in Houston.
The first Tuesday morning session looked at how to boost sales of in-store bakery bread, which have been flat or in decline despite the overall strength of the fresh perimeter (nearly 37 percent of total store sales), where meat leads the way with 39 percent of sales and bakery trails with 8 percent.
Despite the clean, simple profile of bakery bread, it’s often a victim of diets, noted Scott Fox, bakery operations director of Dorothy Lane Market, who presented the session with Eric Richard, IDDBA’s education director. “When people want to lose weight, the first thing they cut out is bread,” Fox said.
With most of the in-store bakery’s customers aged 65 and older, “we need to find ways to get younger people” into the bakery, he said.
Through education, sampling events and trendy flavors, grocers have a shot at bringing Millennials around, Scott said. Sprouted and ancient grains are a hot trend, yet 95 percent of all in-store bakery breads have no declared health benefits, compared to 80 percent for branded products.
And bread is one of the simplest products made in the store, fulfilling consumer desire for local products with clean labels, so grocers need to trumpet this. “Focus on what bread is, not what it isn’t,” Richard said.
Drawing on an earlier presentation about total store connectivity, the speakers noted opportunities to drive bakery sales by cross-merchandising with other departments, in particular for special occasions. IDDBA research shows bakery breads are often sold with deli dips and specialty meats, as well as other bakery products like sweet goods. And for healthy meal solutions, the bakery can effectively cross-merchandise with products like fresh salmon and value-added vegetables.
“A win for bread is a win for the store,” Richard said.
The next presenters – Mary Kay O’Connor, IDDBA VP of education, and Kristi Grim of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) – continued IDDBA’s emphasis on in-store allergen awareness as an asset for shopper loyalty.
With one in 25 shoppers having food allergies or shopping for those who do, and federal, state and local regulations trending toward greater controls, grocers have a vested interest in improving their associates’ allergen training.
“Providing accurate ingredient information is critical,” Grim said. An IDDBA survey of consumers noted that only 5 percent knew their local store had staff trained in allergens, yet more than 60 percent said they’d shop there if that were the case – “a very strong marketing opportunity for us,” O’Connor said.
Staff education, signage and training, including programs available through IDDBA, will go a long way toward creating a safer environment for shoppers and strengthening the confidence of consumers.
The morning’s presentations were rounded out by Randy Zuckerberg, CEO of Zuckerberg Media, author of “Dot-Complicated” and sister of Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, speaking on how retailers and leverage digital and social media to better engage consumers; and Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn, speaking on how never to give up in the face of adversity.
And the Cake Decorating Challenge Winner Is…
Near the close of the expo floor’s last day, IDDBA presented awards to the winners of its 21st annual Cake Decorating Challenge, in which in-store bakery artists competed to create the most creative and innovative cake designs for different occasions.
Taking home the top prize was Sara Vanderheyden from the Hy-Vee store in Ames, Iowa. Second place went to Nielly Cruz of Albertsons Vons-Pavilions in Carlsbad, Calif; followed by Paige Thornton of Green Valley Marketplace in Elkridge, Md.