How do you keep consumers in your store?
Convince them you’re concerned for their well-being as well as their needs as a grocery shopper.
These were among the themes explored during the opening day of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s annual expo, held June 5-7 in Houston.
“Industry best practices are constantly being redefined,” said IDDBA Chairman John Cheesman in his opening address Sunday morning, outlining how the group and its members are commitment to “working together to be the leading innovative source” for deli, bakery and prepared food retailing.
A big part of that is delivering solutions consumers want, as discussed by Sherry Frey of Nielsen Perishables in “Merchandising, Marketing and Innovating for Entertaining Occasions,” in which she noted strategic cross-store connections for special occasion shopping.
“If we don’t have total store connectivity, we’re setting ourselves up for long-term failure,” Frey asserted.
Frey laid out “a new road map for looking at categories.” For example: for “fresh and fancy entertaining,” key categories like steak, deli snacks and specialty cheeses are natural tie-ins for fruit and vegetables, herbs and seafood.
Consumers wants “convenient solutions for turn-key entertaining,” Frey said, noting that deli is a key driver for such purchases. “Digital is really critical” to the equation because it touches consumers along the path to purchase beyond the store with recipes and pairing suggestions, she said, and it’s a “big equalizer in the store” in helping smaller companies connect with shoppers.
Transparency is Key
Retailers also need to strengthen the trust consumers have in them regarding food safety, as outlined by “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert in his “Focus on Allergens,” the latest installment of IDDBA’s ongoing food safety initiative.
“If we’re going to continue to build trust with shoppers, we need to be more transparent,” Lempert said, citing survey data indicating that only 15 percent of consumers have confidence in free-from product label statements. Further, 85 percent of shoppers think companies don’t care about their dietary needs.
“We need to change and build confidence with these shoppers,” Lempert added, noting that only 5 percent “strongly agree” that they’re satisfied with the answers they’re getting from store associates about allergens.
Further statistics show a strong need for store associates to be better trained to handle products and be better educated about allergens in food products: food allergies among children rose 18 percent between 1997 and 2007, four in 10 claim food allergies or avoidance of certain ingredients, and the number of people with allergies is doubling every 10 years.
“This is not a fad, it’s not a trend,” Lempert said. “It’s a reality.”
Cheesman called out some strengths of the IDDBA and the industry: membership in the 53-year-old organization rose 13 percent over the past five years, despite industry consolidation; the biggest gains have come in bakery, with no category decreases; distribution/importing/exporting has shown the strongest category market growth.
With record attendance expected for this year’s expo, Cheesman announced the locations of the next four events: Anaheim, Calif., in 2017; New Orleans in 2018, Orlando, Fla.; in 2019; and, in a return to the Midwest, Indianapolis in 2020. Cheesman noted that the group is looking into East Coast locations for the years beyond.
Cheesman closed out his remarks by presenting the 2016 IDDBA Chairman’s Award to Doug Wittich for his years of dedicated service to the bakery industry, as a pioneer of frozen bakery products, and his leadership at George Weston Ltd. and Maplehurst Bakeries.
Rounding out the morning sessions were Lori Greiner, inventor, entrepreneur and member of TV’s “Shark Tank”; and comedian Jerry Seinfeld, whose hour-long standup set brought down the house.
On the Show Floor
Among the highlights of my tour of expo exhibitors:
- American Foods Group launched a line of single-serve proteins, including meatloaf, meatballs and Salisbury steak, that the company’s Jennifer Dibbern called a “beef solution to the rotisserie chicken.” American’s recent acquisition of King’s Command gave the pasture-to-plate operation an entry into the foodservice business.
- Bakerly offered a glimpse of its soon-to-be released sliced brioche, alongside its clean-label snack cakes and filled crepes already in stores and all GMO-free.
- CSM showed its new Cinnabon branded line of cookies, filled muffins and pound cake; Reese’s and Hershey’s muffins and brownies; and innovative solutions for in-store bakeries.
- Deli Express displayed two new additions to its popular Market Sandwich Artisan Style wrap sandwich line: Southwest Chicken Salad and Turkey Club.
- Dietz & Watson sampled Italian charcuterie additions to its Originals line, featuring “super rustic” slow-cured pepperoni, sopressata and others made from antibiotic-free meats, as well as a new line of imported cheeses and a sriracha chicken sausage that packs a punch.
- The booth at JJ’s Bakery displayed products including its new Duos snack pies in Boston cream and strawberries & cream, as well as a seasonal pumpkin pie variety.
- Litehouse sampled its cool new shaker jar cheeses, Simply Artisan Reserve Seasons in feta and blue cheese varieties. The folks at Litehouse also shared details of its new campaign to promote premium fresh salad dressings over shelf-stable varieties, aimed at shoppers making small changed to improve their lives, such as eating more fresh foods.
- Nestle Professional displayed heat-and-eat meal solutions, including entrees and sides, in a merchandiser that urged consumers to “skip the restaurant wait – take, heat and eat”; flavor and ingredient solutions to help deli and grocerant chefs create unique dressings and sauces; and a suite of restaurant insights and trends to help retailers tailor selections to local demographics.
- Sealed Air demonstrated its modified atmosphere bakery packaging designed to deliver 30-plus-day shelf life for bread; Flexlok resealable packages, shown applied to candy and nuts; and Simple Steps microwaveable plated entrees.
- The Wisconsin Cheese pavilion showcased several new products, including Yellow Door Creamery Brilliant Blue, blue cheese in mini cubes (in a deli cup with a flip-up shaker top) and slices, from Arthur Schuman; Sincerely Brigitte’s snack sticks and party trays in flavors including garlic basil, tomato olive and orange ginger; Carr Valley’s robust, washed-rind, cow’s milk Red Abbot by master cheesemaker Sid Cook; Burnett Dairy’s Wood River Creamery Alpha’s Morning Sun, a mild, buttery cheese in sophisticated flavors like Mango Habanero and Espresso Brava; and Swiss Valley Farms’ grass-fed gouda and Swiss.
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