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The Market at the Pinehills, a newly named “Healthy Market” by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, is taking its duties seriously.
“Our focus is to provide local products; healthy food options, including gluten-free, low-sodium and low-fat products; as well as comply with all tobacco and alcohol regulations,” explains Sue Blackington-Harris, general manager of the Plymouth-based grocery store, whose August launch as a Healthy Market (above) was covered in a recent PG news story.
“Both in our store and bakery departments, we constantly look for local suppliers,” she says. “Fancy Pants, a distributor in East Walpole, Mass., sells us gluten-free, nut-free cookies, and MB Bakery, in Rhode Island, supplies us with delicious scratch-made cakes like ‘Better Than Your Mama’s’ chocolate cake and flourless varieties to add to our gluten-free repertoire.”
Also in keeping with its better-for-you brief, The Market is teaming with Boar’s Head as one of the first independent grocers on Massachusetts’ South Shore to offer a low-sodium-focused menu of cold cuts and provide customers with perks and lower prices for purchasing those products regularly. “Details are still being worked out, but it will probably be tied into our Rewards Card program,” which rolled out in 2013, notes Blackington-Harris.
In the bakery, along with whole grain and gluten-free items, The Market features such exclusive “scratch-made specialties” as “our very popular key lime pies, Whoopee Pies, and our own cupcake program featuring flavors like pink lemonade, Boston cream and our own rendition of the chocolate cupcake with creamy white filling,” she says. “In addition, we make our own buttercream frosting used on our cakes.”
Further, through the store’s loyalty program, customers can receive a coupon for a free Market birthday cupcake, which can be redeemed during the month of their celebration.
The Future of Deli and Bakery
Beyond the winter holiday season, what are those who know best pinpointing as emerging trends in the deli and bakery departments?
Scott Moses, a senior brand manager in the deli category at Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods, is noticing “a lot of regional ethnic ingredients. Shoppers want flavors and ingredients beyond Tex-Mex and Chinese buffet standards. Anything new and with a story is good.”
Additionally, he notes: Anything that communicates freshness continues to drive packaging design. Functionality also continues to be important – for example, packaging that keeps hot foods hot, and microwave-friendly packaging or product that can be eaten from the packaging, for minimal cleanup.”
Further, consumers’ preoccupation with eating better hasn’t bypassed the deli. “With all the activity in foodservice on making ingredient statements and nutritional information more transparent to the consumer, there is emerging demand for products with cleaner ingredient statements and lower-calorie options,” Moses says. “We still need to keep in mind, however, that taste, freshness and appearance are the major drivers of prepared foods purchases.”
Meanwhile, Mark Van Iwaarden, director of marketing at Denver-based Legendary Baking, enthuses: “It’s an exciting time in the bakery business right now. One of the big trends we see is using fruit blends. The beverage industry has been on the forefront of putting fruits together in interesting combinations and the baking industry is following suit.”