Progressive Grocer - September 2018

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Leverage key consumer eating trends to boost sales of breakfast foods STAY SAFE Ensuring food safety in grocerant operations BETTER LIVING ONLINE Retailers share healthand-wellness content via the web BRAND-NEW PRODUCE PROFITS Fruits, veggies from a familiar name sell

ng owi h s ng stro t a e s mak conte o t ts e tinu produc n o c ods al new o f sed r annu a b u t in o Plan

September 2018 • Volume 97, Number 9

$10 •

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Contents 09.18

Volume 97 Issue 9

24 68




Day Break

Morning meal choices abound for today’s shoppers, who are expanding their breakfast repertoires.



Bumper Crop Innovation continues to create excitement in plant-based foods. Traditional proteins still impress. Brand stories help products shine.

Departments 8 EDITOR’S NOTE


Breakfast Bakery

Forward Together



Health and Beauty



Join the Healthy Breakfast Club

November 2018 12 CONSUMER INSIGHTS

Caloric Transparency Leads to a Change in Prepared Food Purchase Behavior

Pest Control



Meal Kits: When the Digital Needs the Physical PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2018


Contents 09.18

Volume 97 Issue 9

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 800-422-2681 Fax: 978-671-0460



Safety First

EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR James Dudlicek 224-632-8238

As grocery stores move into the foodservice space, food safety becomes an even greater priority. 86 PROGRESSIVE GROCER’S FOCUS ON THE HEALTHY SHOPPER

Social Services

Retailers take to the web to weave their wellness message.

MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603 DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Randy Hofbauer 224-632-8240 SENIOR EDITOR Kat Martin 224-632-8172





The Name’s Familiar

MARKETING MANAGER Mike Shaw (MID ATLANTIC) 201-855-7631 • Mobile: 201-281-9100

Produce shoppers are buying more branded items than ever.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373 CLASSIFIED PRODUCTION MANAGER Mary Beth Medley 856-809-0050



From Food Safety to the Last Mile

How five top grocers are modernizing through automation, robotics.

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Howland Blackiston, D. Gail Fleenor, Kathy Hayden, Lynn Petrak and Barbara Sax

MARKETING MARKETING MANAGER Carly Kilgore 201-855-7601




106 6



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EDITOR’S NOTE By Jim Dudlicek

Forward Together ith a new leader hitting the ground running, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is looking ahead to a rebuilding year. “My promise to you is that we are going to build an organization that you are remarkably proud of — an organization that is indispensable to the industry and that everyone in the industry wants to be part of,” declared Geoff Freeman, on the job for barely two weeks as GMA’s new CEO when he addressed some 300 senior food industry executives during the group’s annual leadership forum, held last month at The Broadmoor, in Colorado Springs, Colo. With the defections of several major industry players thinning GMA’s ranks over the past couple of years, Freeman is aiming to rebuild the organization’s membership through increased advocacy and taking an offensive stance rather than a defensive one. “Advocacy to me is more about a campaign. You have to put your issue on the radar screen, because if you want something solved, you have to convince people there is a problem,” he said. “What you will see from GMA is a very integrated public-affairs approach that is aggressive and active. You will see us quite publicly have a point of view.” In doing so, GMA will need to better reflect the dramatic changes in the ways that people obtain, eat and view food, which have evolved over the past decade. “You have to have an inclusive and transparent organization that accurately and effectively represents the totality of the industry,” Freeman said. “One area where this association has come up short is driving an accurate, and therefore favorable, perception of the food and beverage industry. We just haven’t been out there with the economic-impact data, the social-impact data and information about the contribution that our industry is making every day.” GMA needs to take back control of the discussion from its critics, Freeman contended, heralding a heightened emphasis on research. “My focus right now is developing an action plan for 2019 that builds a good organization and prepares us to be a great organization in 2020 and beyond,” he added. Long-term success is also going to require closer collaboration between suppliers and retailers. To that end, no less a retailer than The Kroger Co. offered a road map for manufacturers to more effectively collaborate with it — a recipe that all grocers might want to follow. In his keynote address to forum attendees, Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and CEO, offered this advice for companies aiming to be a good supply chain partner: 8

Retailers and their supplier partners should be pushing each other to create something neither has done before.” Be an investor with us. “Invest in the user experience. Drive customers to your brands and products with promotions.” View us as an ally, not a competitor. “You’ve had the benefit of sustained growth with Kroger as your partner, and, as all of us know, a rising tide lifts all boats. Over the last 12 years, together, we’ve grown our businesses for nearly every quarter. We’re going to need a lot of focused and tenacious rowing to pull off that next run.” Remain committed to the FMI/GMA Trading Partner Alliance. “We view this alliance as a vehicle for partnership and a platform for large-scale transformational industry change.” Use our service offerings to be mutually successful. “Try things like Kroger’s best customer communications, 84.51°’s data-driven insights. Use your brand dollars to try out Kroger precision marketing, our hyper-targeted approach to reaching our customers.” McMullen continued: “We want to partner with you to help you be successful, because we believe together, we will be successful. Help us with your own insights and knowledge and experiences. When you see something that doesn’t make sense, give that feedback to us. And don’t ever be satisfied. Both of us should be pushing each other to create something that neither of us have done before.”

Jim Dudlicek Editorial Director Twitter @jimdudlicek

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Calendar S



World Vegan Month National Fun with Fondue Month National Peanut Butter Lover’s Month National Stuffing Month





World Vegan Day Go Cook For Your Pets Day


National Candy Day Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Post signs to remind staff to reset their clocks.


For National Doughnut Day, create unique varieties and set up a special display in the bakery.



Veterans Day. Welcome the troops with discounts and special treats.

Veterans Day (observed). Offer the troops those discounts and treats again today.



National Vichyssoise Day

International Men’s Day. Demo and promo maleoriented grooming products.



National Sundae Day

National Apple Cider Day

National Parfait Day National Eat with a Friend Day. Offer BOGO deals on meal kits or grab-and-go entrées.


National Tongue Twister Day

National Macchiato Day

Cyber Monday National Cake Day

National Raisin Bread Month National Pepper Month National Georgia Pecan Month



National Deviled Egg Day



National Sandwich Day

Begin celebrating National Fig Week.

National Men Make Dinner Day is great opportunity to encourage men to shop in your store(s) with special promotions.





Election Day

National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day








National Nachos Day

National Indian Pudding Day

National Guacamole Day National Pickle Appreciation Day

National Cappuccino Day. Show off your baristas’ skills in the in-store coffee shop.

National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day National Bundt Day

National Greek Yogurt Day

Great American Smoke-Out Day. Offer incentives that will help your staffers kick the habit.

National Vanilla Cupcake Day

National Baklava Day

National Raisin Bran Cereal Day









Collect donations for a local children’s charity in honor of the United Nations’ Universal Children’s Day.

National Bavarian Cream Pie Day

National Gingerbread Cookie Day

National French Toast Day. Offer breakfast specials featuring various versions of the bready treat.

Thanksgiving is a perfect time to celebrate National Cranberry Relish Day.

National Chocolates Day National Lemon Creme Pie Day National Rice Cake Day

To help recover from all of that turkey and to gear up for Black Friday, offer specials in the coffee shop in honor of Espresso Day.

National Mousse Day

National Sardines Day

Holiday Baking means Brown Sugar Sweetening. Stock Your Shelves with the Quality of Domino® and C&H® Brown Sugars. Consumers start early with seasonal baking of gingerbreads, cakes and cookies for gift-giving. And when baking for special occasions, they rely on the highest quality ingredients for the best results. Wherever consumers are, Domino® and C&H® are the brands they trust. Domino® Light Brown and Dark Brown Sugars are key to adding moisture and a delicious molasses flavor to baking, as are C&H® Golden Brown and Dark Brown Sugars. Be prepared for volume sales by providing holiday bakers the best in class.

Expanding our Portfolio

Creating Innovative Products

Meeting Consumer Needs


Market Research

Caloric Transparency Leads to a Change in Prepared Food Purchase Behavior EIQ Research Solutions, Progressive Grocer ’s sister company, and ProdegeMR surveyed shoppers who were asked to participate in an online activity in which they purchased dinner from a menu of prepared food items at a supermarket. Half of the shoppers were given names, serving sizes and prices, and half were also presented with the calories of each item.

While shoppers don’t turn to healthier food options when presented with calories, they purchase fewer items in general.

When shoppers are presented with the calories in supermarket prepared food options …

Total number of items decreases by


Shoppers purchase meals with fewer calories. Total calories decrease by

Dessert calories decrease by


Number of individual items decreases by


In turn, shoppers spend less money on prepared food options.


Total spend decreases by


Side dish calories decrease by


Entrée spend decreases by


Impact on Purchase Protein




Vitamins and minerals


Trans fat

28% 28%

Sodium Saturated fat

27% 25%

Total carbohydrates

24% 22%

Cholesterol Total fat


Dietary fiber


Calories from fat Calories

18% 5%

Source: Progressive Grocer market research, 2018







As caloric transparency becomes more prevalent, we expect to see more changes in behavior, as shoppers indicate that calories are less impactful on purchase decisions than other nutrition-label items. 35%




Research & Analysis


Is your store’s bakery experimenting with new flavors and ingredients? Whether for the service bakery, grocerant or coffee kiosk, adding fresh flavors to classic bakery items will intrigue customers. Datassential has tracked new breakfast bakery flavors, along with some of the classics. Here are four from each stage of Datassential’s Menu Adoption Cycle (MAC) on Breakfast Bakery flavors:


Mascarpone MAC stage: Inception — Ethnic markets, ethnic independents, fine


Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation, and presentation. This soft, mild Italian cheese is used in traditional Italian tiramisu, breakfast items like french toast, and even on pizza. The cheese is also beginning to appear as a cream or icing for breakfast bakery items. Consider it for a sweet roll or scone — and you can keep some around for breakfast entrées like breakfast flatbreads. On 9% of U.S. restaurant menus +7% over the past four years 45% of consumers know it 24% have tried it Menu Example Fresh Scones and Cream — M’tucci’s Italian, Albuquerque, N.M. Market-fresh scones, fresh fruit, mascarpone cream, marketsmoked Italian bacon.



Apricot MAC stage: Adoption — Ethnic aisle at supermarkets, casual independents, fast casual Adoption-stage trends grow their base via lower price points and simpler prep methods. Still differentiated, these trends often feature premium and/or generally authentic ingredients.


Coconut MAC stage: Proliferation — Grocery deli, casual chains, QSRs

Proliferation-stage trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal. Often combined with popular applications (on a burger, pasta, etc.), these trends have become familiar to many.

On 10% of U.S. restaurant menus +6% over the past four years

Coconut has seen a resurgence in recent years, thanks to its perceived health and beauty benefits. The tropical fruit is used in numerous ways and can be easily incorporated into morning eats and treats. Consider adding it as a topping for a muffin, or a flavoring for doughnuts or cookies, or as an ingredient in a breakfast pastry.

92% of consumers know it 69% have tried it

On 3% of U.S. restaurant menus +6% over the past four years

Menu Example Farmer’s Cheese Doughnuts — Bohemian House, Chicago Dried apricot and bavarian cream.

59% of consumers know it 33% have tried it

Apricots lend a sweet, slightly tart fruit flavor to both sweet and savory breakfast items, and can be used in versatile ways. They can be added to bakery items as a dried fruit or a jam, or used fresh.

Menu Example Coconut Mango Roll — Triple Crown, Chicago


Zucchini MAC stage: Ubiquity — Available everywhere — convenience stores, cafeterias, family restaurants, etc. Ubiquity-stage trends have reached maturity and can be found across all sectors of the food industry. According to Datassential TrendSpotting, “to promote a more ‘vegetable-centric’ menu, produce workhorses like zucchini are appearing across the menu, from breakfast to dessert.” The summer squash’s mild taste allows it to be applied in many ways. It’s a seasonal veggie worth trying in baked goods. On 27% of U.S. menus +3% over the past four years 95% of consumers know it 78% have tried it Menu Example Carrot and Zucchini Muffin — Market Table, New York Carrot and zucchini muffin with whipped mascarpone.

Carry the olive oil that’s won the prestigious ChefsBest® Excellence Award since 2014. GOYA® Extra Virgin Olive Oil delivers exceptional quality at an everyday price. This bold-flavored, single-origin oil is cold-pressed in Andalusia, Spain, and is never blended with olive oils from other countries or with other types of oils. With 67% of shoppers more likely to choose a ChefsBest® award winner,* GOYA® Extra Virgin Olive Oil is primed to succeed in your olive oil section. Stock the full line today! *uSamp ChefsBest® Custom Research (2014) The ChefsBest® Excellence Award is awarded to brands that surpass quality standards established by independent professional chefs.

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Wow Your Shoppers With Award-Winning Taste


Shelf Stoppers

Shelf Stoppers

Frozen Vegetables TOTAL FROZEN VEGETABLE SALES REACHED $2.97 BILLION IN THE PAST YEAR (52 weeks ending April 2, 2016)

Health and Beauty


Cosmetic Sales Growth vs. Year Ago






2.3% -0.9%

-1.3% Spotlight on Frozen Broccoli


WHEN CONSUMERS EATING FROZEN BROCCOLI? Cosmetics Free From Natural Cosmetics and NaturalARE Cosmetics Parabens Frozen broccoli Free From often Parabens Broccoli as an ingredient is most commonly is most used in a side consumed at dinner, followed by lunch. dish, followed by as a main entrée. 3% 9%

More than any other consumer industry, beauty and personal care OCCASION MEAL ITEM are by trends. Now trending 29% TYPEdriven CLASS 62% 35% 61% ingredients, formulations, colors and brands come around every season. Walk into your averageDINNER retail store, and you’ll see this reflected LUNCH OTHER SIDE DISH MAIN ENTRÉE OTHER on shelves. Here in the United States, there are more products on shelf in the average cosmetics aisle than in any other category across the fastmoving consumer goods.” —Jordan Rost, VP Consumer Insights, Nielsen

Data Points In 2017, products featuring natural claims represented 3.1 percent of the U.S. personal care market, generating $1.3 billion in annual sales last year.


Over the past three years, distribution of beauty and personal care items with charcoal has nearly quadrupled.





alternatives for a variety of reasons:

Natural: Consumers are flocking to more natural and objectively simpler products. because it’s While sales of cosmetics quick and easy have with natural claims declined over the past year, sales of cosmetics free from parabens becauseespecially it tastes have grown, great when combined with a natural claim.



3 Trends Driving Beauty and Personal Consumers chose frozen broccoli over Care



Personal: Today, because there’s noit’s averhealthy and nutritious age consumer, and products need to authentically reflect that individuality. The beauty because it’s low in aisle is a good example: calories, fat and sugar The number of unique color combinations of foundation has grown three times as fast as the rate of general new-product development across foundations. Across all makeup categories, color is the new product, with color ranges growing seven times as fast as the product lines as a whole.



Connected: Authenticity and personal relevance are quickly becoming table stakes. While the traditional skills for successful merchandising — product, pricing, promotion, place — are still relevant, so, too, are the skills of modern merchandising, like digital shelves, social media, video and search platforms.

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Global New Products Database

Pest Control

What Does It Mean?

Market Overview

The United States is the largest market for insect killers/repellents globally, and is one of the top three countries leading in per capita spend.


Key Issues

Environmental claims are the most common claim on new product launches in the Americas, followed by convenience claims such as time/ speed and ease of use.

Brands are tasked with finding a balance between communicating effectiveness while still assuring consumers of product safety, as three-quarters of pest control product/service users worry about the chemicals used in pest control products.

While effectiveness and ease of use are important among pest control consumers, the majority of users are unlikely to sacrifice safety for efficacy.

62 percent of U.S. pest control users believe that natural pest control products are healthier than conventional ones, but most don’t believe that natural versions are as effective. Consumers are willing to sacrifice speed for the promise of getting rid of pests completely, as seven in 10 U.S. pest control users agree that lasting protection is more important than speed.

With many consumers looking for products that are environmentally friendly, products that claim to protect people and animals, and that promote the sustainability of habitat/resources, are an emerging segment of “ethical” pest control. While consumers are interested in efficient, long-lasting action, natural formulas are on the rise. Packaging for naturally positioned products could feature softer, less “deadly” imagery to strike a chord with these consumers. As more consumers are looking for natural products, water-based products are likely to gain wider appeal, with many brands globally launching new waterbased formulas.

Despite the fact that natural is on the rise, most packaging for pest control products is explicit in showing the product’s efficacy through imagery of dead insects.


PG 018-019 Mintel bgJIM.indd 18

9/3/18 3:01 PM

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ALL’S WELLNESS By Molly Hembree


ften regarded as “the most important meal of the day,” breakfast, for those who operate under a normal wake/ sleep cycle, quite literally “breaks” our “fast” from the night before. It’s a fresh opportunity to set the tone for that day, and that starts with good nutrition. Retailers are tasked with providing appealing yet familiar options on the shelf and in the grab-and-go case, with breakfast ideas a top priority. Most consumers are demanding portable and satisfying breakfast solutions with minimal effort. One way that retailers can answer this call is to offer grab-and-go meals like burritos, smoothies, granola bars or breakfast sandwiches. Another way to address this need is to offer simple recipes or products that can be thrown together by the shopper in the morning, or even assembled the night before. One popular idea is “overnight oats,” in which dry oats, plain or mixed with a combination of sweeteners, cinnamon, fruit or nuts, are submerged in water or milk and left to sit overnight in the fridge or a crockpot, with the aim of retrieving them in the morning on the way out the door to eat on the go. Another is that of “egg cups,” in which eggs are cracked and added into muffin pans with a mixture of cheese, vegetables and milk; baked in the oven; and then chilled in the fridge as a handheld breakfast bake for the week. Cold cereal has stood the test of time as a top pick for breakfast; however, other contenders have seen mounting interest from consumers. Eggs — especially organic and brown varieties — have gained traction over the past several years per 2016 Nielsen data, while new takes on old favorites, like avocado toast, specialty coffees, grain bowls, protein pancakes and yogurt parfaits, are also attracting many shoppers. Or consider elevating your cereal game with concepts like Kellogg’s MyBowl tool that take the guesswork out of a balanced breakfast by encouraging a three-quarter cup of cereal with a half cup of dairy or nondairy milk and a half cup of fruit. Visitors can even build a cereal selection on Kellogg’s website to calculate a particular breakfast’s nutrition facts.


of independent shoppers said they expect their retailer to support them with healthy living.

Source: 2018 National Grocery Shoppers Survey, Harris Poll and Nielsen


Consumer Support

In the recent 2018 National Grocery Shoppers Survey by Harris Poll and Nielsen, 63 percent of independent shoppers said they expect their retailer to support them with healthy living, such as cooking instructions for certain foods (28 percent), help with label reading (25 percent), and general advice to maximize food dollars (23 percent). The efforts of your retail nutrition team can help respond to these requests via “rise-and-shine” nutrition demos and recipe cards, better-for-you breakfast store tours, or highlighting basic breakfast fare that’s also covered under food assistance programs. 2016 Nielsen data suggests that foods with health attributes like being made from fruits or vegetables (62 percent), high in protein (61 percent), and high in fiber (57 percent) are main influencers of food purchases. Consider drumming up excitement about products with these positive characteristics through social media platforms with hashtags like #eatyourfruitsandveggies, #proteinpower, #fiberup, #breakfastclub or #breakfastgoals. Efforts to boost breakfast sales can be focused on merchandising the basics, marketing the trendy, simplifying the new and engaging with retail dietitians. Key breakfast messaging should empower consumers to balance optimal nutrition with the rush of common morning routines. Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian coordinator for The Little Clinic and Kroger.

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at e n e r o i at oc t v o s Inn tinue t in s. d n n o e fo co tem ns i d e i e t exc t-bas l pro n a pla ition ss. d elp e a r h r p T im ories . l l i st nd st shine Bra ucts d ff pr o Sta th By



aste will always reign supreme. If no one finds a new product appetizing, it doesn’t stand a chance. But taste just isn’t enough anymore. Consumers are increasingly being drawn to products that reflect their feelings about how food should be made, and how the folks who made it behave as citizens of the world. A product that tastes great but isn’t sustainably sourced may alienate enough consumers to doom a launch to failure. This is being demonstrated in greater numbers by the entries in Progressive Grocer’s Editors’ Picks contest, with packaging claims like non-GMO, free-from statements and environmentally conscious brand stories among the hundreds of SKUs that crossed our desks this year. And the tide of plant-based products continues to rise. While animal proteins are still making a strong showing, innovation around plant-based foods is accelerating. For example: Just, whose new plant-based mayos are a 2018 Editors’ Pick, is exploring the world’s plants, seeds and roots to learn how they might best be applied to mainstream food products, in addition to venturing into lab-grown meat. Products like yogurt, cream cheese and salad dressings are acquiring plant-based counterparts that rival, or in some cases equal, their traditional counterparts for taste and texture. And it’s not necessarily because veganism is growing. In fact, the demand for plant-based products is largely being driven by a rise in the number of flexitarians — consumers who historically eat animal proteins but are looking to reduce their consumption of meat and traditional dairy for various reasons, including health and concern for the environment. Rising sales of plant-based foods, without a corresponding increase in the percentage of Americans who identify as vegan or vegetarian, likely indicates a greater overall interest in such products, meaning that U.S. consumers want to incorporate more plant-based options into their diets, but are unwilling to give up animal proteins altogether, according to the findings of a recent Gallup poll reported by Sales of plant-based foods rose 8.1 percent in 2017, surpassing $3.1 billion last year, with plantbased alternatives to dairy products soon expected to account for 40 percent of dairy beverage sales.

Among the plant-based products that made an impression on us this year: Bare carrot chips, Bolthouse Farms plant protein milk, Café Spice entrées, Field Roast corn dogs, Kite Hill cream cheese, Lantana hummus and Peatos pulse-based snacks. But being the omnivores that we are, animal proteins impressed us as well, including cheeses from Applegate and Cabot, rotisserie beef and pork roasts from Golden West, Sauder’s hardboiled eggs, Country Archer meat bars, and several new offerings from the Jack Link’s family. Winning points for convenience were products like Barilla Ready Pasta, GFB Power Breakfast and LoveTheWild seafood bowls. And solution-centric items, like Hidden Valley’s breading kit, Molly & You’s cake mixes, and Wholly Guacamole snack cups, won a special place in our hearts. Of course, many products embrace multiple trends, making them even more powerful to retailers for driving sales. But they still all came back to great taste, which is what will keep shoppers coming back to them, over and over again. Some trends among food products are impacting nonfood products as well, such as clean labels: “Simpler” ingredients abound in nonfoods, even in mainstream brands like Pampers and Febreze. Meanwhile, we’re seeing more alternative brands among cleaning products and pest repellents, while air care products such as odor eliminators and room sprays were popular this year. This year’s food entries were evaluated by PG Editorial Director Jim Dudlicek, Senior Editor Kat Martin and Digital/Tech Editor Randy Hofbauer, with the able assistance of Advertising/Production Manager Jackie Batson and several other Ensemble IQ teammates from across our Chicago office. Nonfood products were evaluated by PG Managing Editor Bridget Goldschmidt, in the Newark, N.J., office. In all, we selected 105 food products and 15 nonfood items (some grouped for review purposes) as our favorites. Read our impressions on the following pages …




Creamy Jalapeño & Crispy Tortilla

Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil & Croutons

Blackberry & Granola

MIX IN THE GOOD STUFF Give your customers something new to crave. This year we introduced DairyPure Mix-ins® Cottage Cheese, an innovative, on-the-go addition to our portfolio of premium products. Now we’re setting the stage for three fresh combos, designed to reach new consumers and occasions— available nationwide January 2019.

©2018 Dean Foods.

1915 Organic Protein Beverages

$3.99 Plant-based foods are growing increasingly popular with Americans, including several members of Progressive Grocer’s staff, so the 1915 Organic line from Bolthouse Farms was well received, especially considering how clean and simple its ingredient lists are. We found the cold-pressed drinks refreshing and nourishing, without the slightly sour or funky flavors that can come with some cold-pressed juices, while the plant-based protein beverages — all containing almond milk and 12 grams of plant-based pea protein — were delicious and satiating.

Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Coconut Clusters

$ 4.79 Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Coconut Clusters provide conscious consumers enlightened indulgence without the guilt. Alter Eco brings the 46 percent of Americans who snack more than three times a day a next-level, nourishing option crafted with superior Fair Trade ingredients and featuring mind-blowingly delicious flavor. Available in Original, Cherry + Almond Butter, and Seeds + Salt varieties, the clusters enable snackers to use their purchasing power to make an impact.

True or False? Shoppers always read labels for nutritional information. That’s false. While shoppers do care deeply about nutrition, they also read labels for quality and sourcing information. In fact, today’s shoppers are seeking foods that are free from antibiotics (32%), artificial growth hormones (32%) and GMOs (30%). When it comes to the trend toward clean, higher-quality products, DairyPure® has been leading the way since 2015—exemplified by the standards of our 5 Point Purity Promise®. We have been focused on purity since day one. And our ever-expanding portfolio of innovative products connects discerning customers to more on-trend options in more categories across your store.

It’s time to rethink dairy.

Source: Source: 2018 FMI & IRI Top Trends in Fresh Foods; © 2018 Dean Foods Company | All Rights Reserved. DairyPure®, TruMoo®, and Dean’s® are registered trademarks of Dean Foods Company. Friendly’s® is a registered trademark of Friendly’s Manufacturing and Retail, LLC. Mayfield® is a registered trademark of Dean Intellectual Property Services II, Inc. Caribou Coffee® & design is a trademark of Caribou Coffee Company, Inc., used under license. Organic Valley® is a trademark of Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools, used under license. DairyPure Mix-ins™ is a trademark of Dean Foods Company. Copyright © 2017-2018 Uncle Matt’s Organic®. All Rights Reserved.

Alvarado Street Bakery Sprouted Wheat Hemp & Hops Bread

$4.99 This is a USDA Organic sprouted whole wheat loaf featuring hemp seed and hop flowers. The bread is made with a variety of organic seeds and grains, including hemp seeds that are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fiber aids in slowing digestion, which can help prevent spikes in blood sugar and sustain the body’s natural energy. The hop flowers, meanwhile, impart an aromatic, slightly bitter but pleasant flavor. It tastes great toasted and makes a hearty sandwich.

American BBQ Co. Porktisserie Pork Prime Rib Roast

Always Discreet Boutique

$11.99-$18.99 Offering maximum incontinence protection that’s actually pretty, Always Discreet features a super-absorbent core hidden inside that turns liquid to gel to absorb even the heaviest leaks. Meanwhile, the curve-hugging, feminine design is made of silky-soft fabric with delicate, lacy prints, so it looks, fits and feels like underwear. Kudos to manufacturer Procter & Gamble for its work toward reducing the stigma of the condition by creating an appealing product in the incontinence protection segment.

$10 We loved this concept for expanding the selection and value of the rotisserie beyond mainstay chicken. These marinated and netted pork roasts are delivered ready for back-of-house cooking, with all of the packaging included for the retail display. It’s a great way to boost the utility of, and add variety to, heated display kiosks and offer consumers an extra grab-and-go option at mealtimes, as well as providing new ways for retailers to offer meal packages.

Amazing Grass Organic Protein & Kale

$32.99 Some of PG’s staffers love kale, but let’s face it: The greens’ flavor doesn’t always mix well with certain foods or beverages. Enter Amazing Grass Organic Protein & Kale powder, in Simply Vanilla and Smooth Chocolate flavors, which tasted the same as their names, one boasting a clean, simple vanilla flavor we loved, and the other smooth, rich and chocolaty — neither with a strong taste of kale. Each one offers a healthy serving of plant-based protein (20 grams) and kale (1 cup of greens) in each scoop — a nice boost of energy, indeed.


Applegate Naturals Cheeses

$4.99 Well known for its line of natural and organic luncheon meats, Applegate — owned by Hormel Foods — now has a range of natural cheeses. The milk used to make the cheese comes from a traceable milk pool, from pasture-raised cows not treated with antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones. Also Non-GMO Project Verified, the product line’s varieties include Provolone, Medium Cheddar, Muenster, Mozzarella, Pepperjack and Baby Colby American Style, all sliced, plus shreds in Cheddar, Italian Blend and Mexican options.

Applegate Naturals Peppered Genoa Salami

Aunt Fannie’s Ant Remedy

$4.99 This charcuterie offering is a welcome addition to Applegate’s range of natural deli meats. The robust Genoa salami is rich in flavor, with a hint of garlic and a black pepper coating. The item is uncured, with no added nitrates or nitrites. We loved it right out of the pack, but it would be great on a party tray teamed with sharp Italian cheeses, olives, peppers and crusty bread.

Arla Cream Cheese Squeeze Tube

$2.99 This is a great concept that we felt deserved recognition despite a few bugs to be worked out: The cream cheese is a bit runny unless you shake it up, and you’ll need to dig inside for the last of it. Still, it won points for overall convenience. Arla says that it designed this with kids in mind: The tube is curved to fit a child’s hand, making it easy and fun to squeeze. The product is available in Original and Strawberry.

Atkins Plus Protein & Fiber

$7.99 Aunt Fannie’s Ant Remedy gets rid of ants and other pesky insects without excessive chemical pesticides. Users can keep their living spaces free of pests by spraying around windows, doors, cabinets, appliances and even directly on bugs. The easy-to-use product contains safe, nondisruptive ingredients that come from nature, and is free from dyes, phenols, formaldehyde, neonicotinoids, pyrethrins and petroleum propellants. What’s more, it works!

Bare Carrot Chips

$4.29 Bare Carrot Chips, in Sea Salt and Ranch varieties, enable consumers to get more real vegetables in their daily diets with a convenient, nonperishable snack. Unlike similar products, which are often fried or made with starchy powders and oil, these delightfully crunchy chips are made from real carrots that are sliced, lightly seasoned and baked — never fried — with no added oil and no artificial ingredients. So, not only do they taste good, they’re good for you, too.

$6.99 High fiber and high protein are where it’s at in snacking today, as many folks need a good source that’s easy on the waistline. So we were intrigued by Atkins Plus Protein & Fiber shakes, which provide both 30 grams of dairy protein and 7 grams of fiber, along with 20 vitamins and minerals — but contain only 2 grams of net carbohydrates and 1 gram of sugar. We tried one as a midday snack and another at the gym, enjoying the smooth, silky texture and rich flavor — and felt satiated in the hours to come.


Barilla Ready Pasta

$1.99 Convenience at its finest: All-natural, fully cooked pasta that’s ready in the microwave in 60 seconds. Made with three simple ingredients — olive oil, sea salt and al dente pasta — Ready Pasta has no preservatives and is non-GMO Certified. Simply heat and add your favorite sauce. It’s labeled as containing two servings, which we felt would be right for a side dish — more realistically, it’s a meal for one.

Blue Hill Bay Smoked Fish Poke Bowls

Blount Noodle & Rice Bowls

$5.99 Made with wholesome ingredients like chicken raised without antibiotics, and meeting popular dietary benchmarks like being high in protein, vegan and gluten-free, these new rice and noodle bowls cater to different palates and lifestyles, offering vegan and gluten-free options. The ready-to-heat bowls come with separately packaged and shelf-stable noodles that are easily added to the broth, making for a substantial meal in just three minutes. The four varieties are Chicken Ramen Bowl, Hibachi Chicken & Rice Bowl, Thai-Inspired Coconut Chicken & Noodle Bowl, and Asian-Inspired Vegetable & Rice Bowl.

$7.99 The Hawaiian dish poke is taking the country by storm, and it’s no surprise why: It’s protein-rich, customizable and convenient. So we were intrigued by Acme Smoked Fish Corp.’s Blue Hill Bay Smoked Fish Poke Bowls, the first we’ve seen of their kind. Available in two varieties, sashimi-grade Ahi Tuna and sustainably sourced Smoked Salmon, the fish cubes are lightly salt-cured and slowly cold-smoked with the company’s signature blend of natural hardwood. They come with a microwave-ready rice packet, poke sauce and original poke seasoning, and make for a lean, filling — and creative — lunch.

Blue Diamond Crafted Gourmet Almonds

$4.79 Blue Diamond Crafted Gourmet Almonds are a premium offering for a new occasion in the almond category — social gatherings and “sharing food” occasions enabling consumers to showcase their love for — and expertise in — food with friends and family. This is a snack that complements a variety of savory and sweet items to create shareable plates, boards and bowls for numerous dining and entertaining events. The line’s four flavors are Pink Himalayan Salt; Black Truffle; Garlic, Herb and Olive Oil; and Rosemary and Sea Salt.


Bolthouse Farms Plant Protein Milk

$4.99 Pea protein is in a lot of our favorite plant-based alternatives these days, and Bolthouse Farms Plant Protein Milk has become one of them. Available in four varieties, the refrigerated nondairy milk contains 10 grams of pea protein per 8-ounce serving and has 50 percent more calcium than traditional dairy milk. We enjoyed how rich and creamy the different varieties of the vegan, non-GMO milk are — though Vanilla was by far the favorite among our testers. The milk contains no gluten, lactose or common allergens such as dairy, nuts or soy, and is also fortified with vitamin B12.

50% less sugar * than other yogurts New

*Chobani a hint of: 9g sugar; other yogurts: 18g of sugar per 5.3oz serving Š2018 Chobani, LLC

Bos Iced Tea

$1.99 (per can) It’s been a long, hot summer, so our tasters were glad to cool off a little with a new iced tea from South African brand Bos. While so many iced teas can taste too similar to each other, these teas were different, made from rooibos, which is rich in antioxidants, electrolytes and essential minerals. The tea line didn’t have any varieties we disliked, but we definitely found the Lime & Ginger to be the standout flavor. The other flavors were Lemon, Peach, Berry, and Green Rooibos & Yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit).

Boulder Canyon Foods Himalayan Pink Salt Rice Bran Oil Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

$3.49 Boulder Canyon Rice Bran Oil Kettle Cooked Potato Chips are cooked in 100 percent pure rice bran oil, hailed for its balance of heart-friendly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. The unique oil is extracted from the hard outer brown layer of rice after the tuff. Its high smoke point allows for high-temperature cooking that results in an extra-crisp chip with a mild oil flavor. Meanwhile, the Himalayan Pink Salt flavor provides the perfect “less-is-more” approach to premium kettle-chip snacking.

Brownie Brittle Chocolate Almond

$3.99 Want to combine the healthfulness of almonds with the rich decadence of chocolate? Chocolate Almond Brownie Brittle, the line's newest flavor, is the answer, combining the decadent crispy edges of a brownie with toasted almonds and rich chocolate chips. Sheila G's somehow never fails to please; we've enjoyed Brownie Brittle since its launch and are happy to award it more brownie points!


Brownie Brittle Thindulgent Sandwich Cookies

$4.99 Thindulgent Sandwich Cookies combine hand-crafted coconut or caramel cookies with a thick layer of fudge for an outstanding treat offering a superior flavor and crunch. This is the first non-chocolate based cookie product from Sheila G’s — a departure from the signature Brownie Brittle line, but for the PG taste testers, the cookies live up to the standards set by Brownie Brittle for yummy indulgence with little guilt.

Cabot Cracker Cuts

$2.89 This is Solutions 101 for snacking or entertaining: Cabot’s popular cheeses cut into 26 cracker-sized slices and delivered in a resealable tray. The product delivers great taste and convenience for a quick snack, as part of a cheese board, as a recipe ingredient, or to top burgers or sandwiches. Cracker Cuts are offered in multiple varieties, including Seriously Sharp, Extra Sharp, Vermont Sharp, Pepper Jack and Colby Jack.



• Time Saving with Hand Trimmed Portioned Meat • Rotisserie Ready for In-Store Roasting • Serve on sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups & more • Restaurant Quality Flavor • Innovative Retail Ready Packaging


Café Spice Refrigerated Meals

$6.99-$7.99 Created by the company’s culinary director, Chef Hari Nayak, Café Spice’s Aloo Gobhi Curry, Bombay Dal Palak and Butter Chicken Meatballs refrigerated heat-and-eat meals offer restaurant-quality authentic Indian fare at reasonable prices. They’re also designed to accommodate on-trend dietary preferences: Two are vegan (Aloo Gobhi Curry and Bombay Dal Palak) and two are Certified Gluten-Free (Bombay Dal Palak and Butter Chicken Meatballs), while the meat dish is made with humanely raised antibiotic-free chicken.


$19.99 The unique design of CharGon, a barbecue grill cleaner made of T-304 stainless steel and featuring a rosewood handle secured by four rivets, allows users to clean the top, bottom and sides of every grill rod, and the item is safe to use on hot grills. Further, according to the manufacturer, Gulf Shores Creations Inc., CharGon is the only grill cleaner available that’s guaranteed for 500 cleanings — reason enough for ardent grillers to buy it.







Certified Angus Beef Beeftisserie Beef Sirloin Roast $15 As a companion to its rotisserie pork roast, Golden West Foods teamed up with Certified Angus Beef on this sirloin roast, beef’s answer to the supermarket deli rotisserie chicken. Like the pork version we’re also honoring, the beef roast is marinated and netted for back-of-house cooking and hot-case display. With this item, consumers now have beef, pork and poultry to choose from as a grab-and-go meal solution.

Certified Angus Beef Bravado Burgers

$13.99 Certified Angus Beef scores again with these burgers, a delicious blend of chuck and brisket. Teaming this time with Jensen Meat Co., the brand delivers four half-pound patties per box. Cooked from frozen, the burgers go from stovetop or grill to plate in minutes. The blend of cuts used in this grind adds flavor and variety to the frozen meat case, making the item a winner for us.




Chobani “A Hint Of”

$1.49 We were impressed by this concept, which offers a cleaner, more subtly flavored Greek yogurt. Using only natural sweeteners (containing 8-9 grams of sugar) and delivering high protein (12 grams per serving), “A Hint Of” packs a satisfying nutritional punch, with only 120 calories. The packaging is elegant, inspired by ancient clay bowls and vintage dairy bottles. Launched with five flavors — Madagascar Vanilla Cinnamon, Wild Blueberry, Monterey Strawberry, Gili Cherry and Alphonso Mango — the line will soon add two more, Clingstone Peach and Willamette Raspberry.




























Crest Gum Detoxify

$6.97 Crest Gum Detoxify is a specially formulated toothpaste with Activated Foam technology that reaches below the gum line to significantly improve gum health. In addition to seeking out bacteria by penetrating hard-to-reach places, the Activated Foam gently cools gums during and after brushing and provides lasting gum protection. This effective addition to Procter & Gamble’s Crest lineup comes in Deep Clean, Extra Fresh, Gentle Whitening and Two-Step varieties.

Cocktail Artist Premium Mixes and Bar Ingredients

$3.47, mixes; $2.87, bar ingredients Maybe we’re missing something, but it seems like there’s little differentiation in the mixer category — whether we’re talking bloody Marys or cosmopolitans, so many taste the same. That’s why we loved FoodStory Brands’ Cocktail Artist line: 15 premium cocktail mixes and bar ingredients, all designed by award-winning mixologists from across the nation. When mixing a cocktail, our testers liked seeing a picture of each product’s creator — along with info about the person — on each bottle. It also helped that the line uses only natural fruit juices and flavors, pure cane sugar, and organic blue agave nectar instead of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors.

Columbus Antibiotic-Free Salame

$5.99 As aficionados of charcuterie, we’ve been fans of Columbus’ products for quite some time. Its latest item didn’t fail to impress, being delicious as well as on trend. This sliced salami is made with pork from animals not treated with antibiotics (no meat can contain antibiotics when sold), as well as no added nitrates or nitrites. Clean ingredients and delicious — a recipe for success in today’s transparency-conscious marketplace.

Dawn Hydration Bottle Cleaning Kit

$3.99 Bradshaw Home has come up with a clever cleaning kit — marketed under the trusted Dawn dishwashing liquid brand — for consumers’ hydration bottles. The long, flexible cleaning brush fits through the narrowest openings and even works around curves and in tight areas like mouthpieces. Additionally, the bristles won’t warp, allowing users to clean reusable straws and water bottles. This is one of those products you don’t even know that you need until you see it for sale.

Country Archer Meat Bars

$2.99 Jerky that’s good for your complexion? Well, not exactly. These beef, pork and turkey bars are made with collagen peptides, known to aid skin and hair health, boost energy output, and improve overall gut health. They’re made with grass-fed beef, antibiotic-free pork and turkey, dates for natural sweetness, and herbs and spices, and contain no MSG, gluten, soy or preservatives. With 15 grams of protein and 120-140 calories per bar, they come in such flavors as Cayenne Beef, Sweet BBQ Pork and Herb Citrus Turkey.


We are Coca-Cola and so much more, offering the preferred categories and leading brands that are driving the most dollar value growth of any company across the total convenience store.* To learn more about driving your sales and profit growth with the #1 traffic driver for in-store sales,** contact your Coca-Cola representative, call 1-800-241-COKE, or visit

*Nielsen Planners, YTD 2018 thru June 30th, Total US Convenience Retail **Coca-Cola 2017 Macro Trends Shaping the Industry, Total channel historical and projected revenue growth – RNG, NARTD & KO historical revenue growth – Nielsen Databank ©2018 The Coca-Cola Company

Dietz & Watson Landjaegers

$4.99 This tasty, protein-packed traditional meat snack has the added bonus of not needing refrigeration until after you open the package. A mildly seasoned, naturally smoked and dry-cured German-style beefand-pork sausage, it has become a favorite low-fat, high-protein energy snack of hunters, hikers and campers — or anyone else on the go. Another winner from the meat masters at Dietz & Watson, the product line comes in Turkey and Maple Honey varieties.

Dove Chocolate-Covered Dusted Nuts

$1.99, 1.6-ounce Slim Pack; $3.99, 5-ounce and 5.5-ounce stand-up pouches Dove Chocolate-Covered Dusted Nuts from Mars Wrigley Confectionery come in three varieties: cashews dipped in milk chocolate dusted with sea salt, almonds dipped in dark chocolate dusted with cinnamon, and cashews dipped in dark chocolate dusted with cocoa. Each bite is perfectly balanced between the crunch and nutty flavor of cashews or almonds and the silky-smooth texture of Dove Chocolate. Finished with a kick of spice, these delectable bite-size treats will have snackers reaching for more.


$3.99 The DishFish family of products from Foamtec International LLC offers powerful, non-scratch scrubbing and “single-swipe” cleaning in and out of the kitchen, while also resisting bacteria odors, mold and mildew. While the long-lasting, nontoxic DishFish Scrubber resists bacteria odors naturally and is designed to release water, food and particles quickly, the durable, super-absorbent DishFish Dual Scrubber Sponge incorporates a scrubber on one side and a bacteria-odor-resistant sponge on the other. Both work like a charm.

Dry Zero Sugar Stevia-Sweetened Sodas

$1.29, 12-ounce can; $5.99, 6-pack Dry Soda Co.’s Dry Zero Sugar line, said to be one of the industry’s first USDA Organic sodas, gave our testers just what they wanted: a refreshing, better-for-you soda that’s not too sweet and can be enjoyed on its own or as a mixer. Flavors include Cola, Peach Tea, Island Fruit and Mountain Berry, with our testers especially loving Peach Tea. Each flavor is lightly sweetened with organic stevia leaf extract and made with just five to seven ingredients. Among the varieties, Cola and Peach Tea contain 45 milligrams of caffeine per can, while Mountain Berry and Island Fruit are caffeine-free.

EcosBreeze Fabric & Carpet Odor Eliminator and EcosBreeze Room Spray

$4.99, for either product Developed using green science technology, Earth Friendly Products’ EcosBreeze Fabric & Carpet Odor Eliminator, available in three scents, bonds with and breaks apart bad-odor molecules instead of masking them. Meanwhile, the company’s EcosBreeze Room Spray uses natural fragrance blends to set the mood in any room, with each 4-ounce bottle delivering 840-plus sprays. The two non-aerosol product lines are affordable natural alternatives to mainstream air care items and offer pleasant fragrances that last but don’t overpower.

Now With 21-Day Shelf Life! EXCITING NEW VARIETIES! ● Spicy

Chicken ● Albacore Tuna Salad


©2018 E.A. Sween Co.

Febreze One

$5.99 products-by-type/febreze-one In a clever upscale extension of an already trusted product, Febreze One performs the same odor-elimination duty as other Febreze products in what manufacturer Procter & Gamble describes as a “simpler offering.” Product attributes include a two-in-one formula that gently cleans away odors in the air and on fabrics; no dyes or heavy perfumes; brand-new non-aerosol sprayer technology; a fresh, light mist in Orchid, Mandarin or Bamboo scents; and a refillable package.

Field Roast Chao Creamery Mac ’n Chao

$7.49, Creamy variety; $7.99, Chili variety A couple of PG’s staffers dub themselves proud “flexitarians,” so “chao”-ing down on some of Field Roast’s Chao Creamery Mac ‘n Chao sounded quite appealing to them. Made with tender noodles in a sauce created with Field Roast’s Vegan Chao Creamery nondairy cheese slices, the dish had a distinctly creamy texture and delicious umami flavor, which our testers enjoyed. The product comes in two varieties: Creamy, which comprises tender pasta covered in the Creamy Original Chao Slices sauce, and Chili, which is made with a sauce using Tomato Cayenne Chao Slices and a spicy bean chili made with the brand’s FieldBurger vegan patties.


Md. VTS-42

Md. VTS-46 Md. VTS-44

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Field Roast Miniature Corn Dogs

$7.99 Our flexitarian staffer who tasted these vegan corn dogs said that Field Roast nailed the taste of the classic American corn dog: slightly sweet on the outside and pleasantly savory on the inside. Texture-wise, the breading was crispy on the outside and soft inside, while the Field Roast Frankfurter, made from vegan grain “meat,” had a truly meaty texture. These were good with ketchup or mustard — or even on their own — and were almost indistinguishable from a traditional corn dog.

Follow Your Heart Organic Vegan Coleslaw Dressing

$3.99 Made with organic ingredients, this dairy- and eggfree dressing — said to be the only plant-based alternative of its kind on the market – features a classic blend of sweet and tangy flavors and a rich, thick texture that will ensure coleslaws prepared with it are enticingly creamy. As one of our vegan tasters noted, “They nailed the flavor exactly right; plus, since it’s premade, it makes food prep very simple.”

Fresh Wave Lavender Odor Removing Packs

$9.99 Marketed as a safe, natural air care option, OMI Industries’ Fresh Wave Lavender Odor Removing Packs employ simple science, natural ingredients and plant oils to seek and destroy odor molecules. Infused with the light scent of real lavender oil, each pack is filled with powerful odor-absorbing crystal beads. PG particularly appreciates the convenience of these no-mess packets that can go anywhere that nasty smells are likely to arise: gym bags, trash cans, closets and the like.

Hershey’s Gold

GFB Power Breakfast

$2.49 This is a cool handy breakfast. Flat for easy portability, it becomes its own bowl when you tear off the top, fill with water and microwave for 90 seconds — eat, then recycle the packaging when finished. This high-protein oatmeal with no added sugar offers a healthy mix of add-ins, including sun-ripened fruit, nuts and seeds. It’s non-GMO Project Certified, Certified Vegan, soy-free, dairy-free and Certified Gluten-Free. Varieties include Coconut Cashew; Fruits, Nuts and Seeds; PB+J; Apple Cinnamon; and Maple Raisin.

99 cents Hershey claims to have created a fourth flavor in the chocolate family, joining milk, dark and white: gold. While we wouldn’t call this chocolate, we do call it delicious, as would anyone who enjoys sweet plus salty flavors. This confection features a rich caramelized crème that delivers a buttery, sweet flavor, with a combination of salty, crunchy bits of peanuts and pretzels. It’s definitely a cool new arena, and we’ll look forward to eating more Hershey’s Gold and watching for more variations on the brand.

Hellmann’s/Best Foods Real Ketchup Sweetened Only with Honey

$2.99 One of the latest legacy brands to move toward clean labels, Hellmann’s (known as Best Foods west of the Rockies) has now reimagined ketchup. This take on the favorite tomato-based condiment is sweetened with honey instead of corn syrup or refined sugar. With nothing artificial, there are only six ingredients: tomato purée, honey, white wine vinegar, salt, onion powder and spices, all nonGMO sourced. The ketchup lovers in our extended tasting brigade enjoyed this product's tangy flavor.

Herdez Taqueria Street Taco Sauces

$3.99 We at PG appreciate authenticity, and we found it in these taco truck-inspired sauces from Herdez, a partnership of Hormel and MegaMex Foods. The sauces offer clean ingredients and robust flavors. Some fresh tortillas, carnitas or carne asada, pico de gallo, queso fresco, and these sauces, and you’ve got tacos the way they should be eaten. Available in roja, verde, habanero and chipotle varieties, the line comes in convenient squeeze bottles.


Hershey’s Popped Snack Mixes

$4.49 Popped Snack Mixes from Hershey’s provide a delicious blend of creamy and crunchy textures with sweet and salty flavors. Hershey’s Popped Snack Mix contains mini milk chocolate bars plus chocolate-drizzled popcorn, almonds and pretzels. The Cookies ‘n’ Creme mix combines mini Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme Bars, mini chocolate cookies, pretzels and chocolate-drizzled popcorn. Reese’s Popped Snack Mix blends mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Reese’s candy-covered peanuts with chocolate-drizzled popcorn and pretzels. All are satisfying snacks that do well in extending these heritage brands.

Hershey’s S’mores Crunchers Candy

$3.49, 6.5 ounces; $1.99, 1.8 ounces From the brand synonymous with s’mores comes a new way to enjoy the delicious treat: Hershey’s S’mores Crunchers Candy. The confection features mini graham cookies, mini marshmallows and graham pieces covered in Hershey’s Milk Chocolate for a deliciously crunchy snack, anytime and anyplace. The sweet, small bites full of texture and crunch are a great marriage of classic tastes and easy on-the-go eating.

Hidden Valley Simply Dinners Breading Prep Kit

$3.49 This product takes some of the effort out of creating a breading assembly line on your kitchen counter. The kit includes a pack of seasoned panko breadcrumbs and two interlocking, recyclable trays. Beat an egg with a little water in the first tray, dip your protein, dredge it in the crumbs and bake it in the oven. Our test produced chicken that was tender and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The line is available in Classic Ranch and Parmesan, and Three Herb Ranch.

Hormel Black Label Real Bacon Bits Singles

99 cents What could you possibly do to bacon to make it better than it already is? Make it portable. Leave it to the bacon scientists at Hormel to come up with this: bits of the brand’s popular Black Label bacon in a single-serve pouch. Offering portion control and portability, the item is perfect for recipes or adding zip to salads on the go. We tossed some in with scrambled eggs. So simple, and nicely done!


Hormel Natural Choice Stacks

$1.99 Hormel offers the perfect pick-me-up for afternoon snacking with its Natural Choice Stacks, available in several combinations: Uncured Honey Ham & Cheddar, Pepperoni & Cheddar, Turkey & Cheddar, and Uncured Salami & Cheddar. The combination of cracker, protein and cheese is ideal for between-meal treats. All varieties have 11 grams of protein, with a range of 13 to 23 grams of fat and 210 to 300 calories.

I Heart Keenwah Toasted Quinoa Flakes Hot Cereal

$ 5.99 I Heart Keenwah Toasted Quinoa Flakes Hot Cereal takes breakfast to another level. Substitute toasted quinoa hot cereal in place of quick-cooking rolled oats, quinoa flakes or hot cereal mix for both breakfast or in baking. The single-origin organic Bolivian Royal Quinoa flakes cook up creamy in just one to two minutes. Additionally, the cereal provides 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, and contains no added sugar.

Flavor & Convenience #FTW!

Leading Growth F RO M F R I D G E TO F R E E Z E R Š General Mills

Jack Daniel’s BBQ Bucket of Ribs

$20 To quote one of our testers, “They had me at ‘bucket of ribs.’” This latest product from Golden West Food Group’s line of Jack Daniel’s branded meats is quite simply a galvanized steel bucket filled with 4 pounds of shrink-wrapped, fully cooked, sauced pork ribs. The item is perfect for tailgating or game-day parties: Just heat (microwave, oven or grill) and eat. Then find other uses for the bucket, emblazoned with the Jack Daniel’s logo (sorry, no refills).

Java House Authentic Cold Brew Coffee Pods

Jack Link’s Beef Steak Strip

$1.99 Continuing its innovation in protein snacks, Jack Link’s gets in on the bar category by turning to its core strength: meat. The brand’s Beef Steak Strip embraces three essential trends: great taste, high protein and real food. All beef and packed with 8 grams of protein, these strips offer a tender texture that’s an easier bite than traditional jerky. They're also a great on-the-go option for active consumers looking for a snack that delivers a protein boost.

$8.99 Our coffee-loving staffer normally prefers not to get his coffee from pods, so he was a little reluctant to try the Java House Authentic Cold Brew Coffee Pods. However, he was pleasantly surprised to find a smooth cup of coffee without any harsh or bitter notes, hot or iced — although he did prefer the iced version. The liquid concentrate contained in each pod is made with just two ingredients: 100 percent air-roasted Arabica coffee beans, sourced through responsible practices, and cold water. Grounds are steeped 12 hours in small batches with no preservatives, coffee additives, coffee derivatives or reconstituted coffee.

Jack Link’s Cold Crafted

$3.99 We were impressed by Jack Link’s foray into refrigerated snacks. Its Cold Crafted line, pairing seasoned, smoked beef sticks with real Wisconsin cheese, makes it the first national brand with a line of fully refrigerated beef and cheese sticks. Each SKU offers 10 grams of protein per serving and zero to 1 gram of sugar. Varieties include beef sticks stuffed with cheddar or pepper jack, sticks with cheddar or pepper jack block cheese, and beef bites with cheese curds.


Jennie-O Premium Peri Peri Chicken Breast

$6.99 Robust, exotic flavors are all the rage now, and Jennie-O brings some of that heat to the deli case with its peri-peri-flavored chicken breast. The white-meat chicken is seasoned with chili pepper and citrus, which will amp up any sandwich, salad or other dish. Ready for slicing to order in the service deli, the chicken breast is 98 percent fat-free and made without added hormones or steroids.

Just Mayo

$3.69 The innovation team at Just is pursuing a plant-based food system on many fronts. Its latest success is a line of egg-free mayos made predominantly from yellow peas. These impressed even the omnivores and non-mayo eaters among our tasters, accurately replicating the flavor and mouthfeel of mayonnaise while being free of animal-based ingredients. Just Mayo also boasts 40 percent fewer calories and less fat than traditional mayo. Varieties include Original, Truffle, Awesome Sauce, Chipotle, Sriracha and Garlic.

Kite Hill Jalapeño Cream Cheese Style Spread

Lantana Hummus

$4.99 We love what Lantana is doing to make snacking more exciting. Perhaps most impressive is its Strawberry hummus, a rare sweet variety among mostly savory spreads, but well executed, with strawberries, basil and white balsamic vinegar. This fruit-forward variety pushes hummus into the breakfast daypart. We were impressed with all of the flavors submitted for our approval, though, particularly the Hatch Chile, a nice blend of creamy and smoky with a unique kick.

Lillie’s Q Buttermilk & Sweet Onion Kettle Chips

$5.99 Dairy alternatives continue to expand with this latest offering from Kite Hill. It combines fresh-pressed almond milk with traditional culturing methods to create a deliciously creamy spread. One of the vegans among our tasters admitted to being “obsessed” with this product for its taste and similarity to dairy-based cream cheese, and it was hard for the omnivores to disagree. A bit pricy but very tasty, with a satisfying kick of jalapeño.

$3.99 Lillie’s Q is probably best known for its barbecue sauces, but adrift in a sea of sauce offerings, we found satisfaction in these chips, which offer a southern twist on the traditional sour cream and onion variety. They’re made with all-natural ingredients, including buttermilk and sweet onions, and deliver a hearty crunch. A great snack by themselves, or a nice side item to a plate of ’cue.

Kumana Avocado Sauces

$7.99 One of our flexitarian staffers enjoys vegetarian Taco Salad Tuesdays at home, so he and his avocado-adoring wife welcomed Kumana’s plant-based Avocado Sauces with open arms at the dinner table. Said to be the first shelf-stable avocado sauces that are plant-based, non-GMO and gluten-free, the products tasted fresh and bold, hardly like something sold in the center store. While each variety’s blend of creamy avocados, fresh onion, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic and vinegar were thoroughly enjoyed, Be Hot’s addition of mango purée and habanero made for a spicy twist to a weekly favorite.


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$2.99 Unilever has a refreshing new Lipton Iced Herbal Teas line, available in two varieties: Strawberry Watermelon and Mango. What’s more, given that more Americans want refreshing, healthful alternatives to sugary beverages, these products are pretty on-trend. While our tea-loving staffer who tried them found both varieties delicious and refreshing, he couldn’t get enough of the Strawberry Watermelon, which — brewed hot and poured over ice — was the perfect refresher for a hot summer day, providing a slightly sweet flavor without any sweeteners, and no caffeine.

Lorissa’s Kitchen Beef Stick

$1.99 Part of the Jack Link’s family of meat snacks, Lorissa’s Kitchen continues to roll out ontrend items that appeal to a wider audience. These 100 percent grass-fed beef sticks are a sustainably sourced, nutrient-rich, clean-ingredient snack. Each stick offers 6 grams of protein, without added hormones or antibiotics, MSG, nitrites, or gluten. They’re perfect for on-the-go snacking, lunchboxes, briefcases and duffle bags. Varieties include Original, Smokey Sweet and Jalapeño.

Lorissa’s Kitchen Original Beef Steak Strips

$5.99 Another hit from Lorissa’s Kitchen are these steak strips, a clean-label snack made with grass-fed beef. Each tender strip contains 9 grams of protein and 80 calories, delivered in 2.25-ounce bags. The new Original variety offers a sweet and smoky profile — a great, approachable flavor joining a line of more exotic combinations. Lorissa’s Kitchen has done a great job helping to elevate jerky from a lowly truck-stop snack to a protein-rich solution that everyone can enjoy.


OUT? YEAH, WE’VE GOT MORE THAN A FEW. There’s a reason the foodservice industry depends on us for signature flavors, seasonings, sauces and food coatings. We help drive traffic and loyalty with custom-built solutions – at no additional cost to our customers.

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LoveTheWild Microwaveable Bowls

$5.99 We were previously impressed with LoveTheWild’s responsibly raised frozen seafood entrées, so were pleased to see this new meal solution. LoveTheWild creates more occasions to enjoy seafood with these affordable, restaurant-quality microwavable bowls. With no prep, planning or cleanup required, the bowls empower people to eat more fish, whether for lunch, dinner or even a hearty snack. The available varieties are Hawaiian Style Tropical Bowl with Barramundi, Sweet & Spicy Korean BBQ Bowl with Salmon, Baja Style Fish Taco Bowl with Barramundi, and Craft Ale Scampi Bowl with Shrimp.

Market Sandwich Artisan Style

$4.79 These upscale sandwiches from E.A. Sween Co. would be a great solution for retailers looking to stock a grab-and-go case but that don’t have the bandwidth to assemble them. The Albacore Tuna Salad comes on hearty dark wheat bread and got the thumbs-up from a tuna sammie aficionado on our extended testing panel; also tasty was the spicy smoked chicken breast with pepper jack cheese and sriracha aioli on chipotle brioche bread. Packaging gives the sandwiches a fresh-made look while maintaining a 21-day shelf life via MAP (modified-atmosphere packaging).

Molly & You Microwave Single Serve

Maker Overnight Oats

$6.99, single-serve glass jar; $11.99, package of 5 single-serve pouches Overnight oats are currently all the rage, and this item from Maker does all of the hard work for you. It combines thick-cut oats; unique fruits, nuts and seeds; and sophisticated pairings in an easy-to-use pouch or reusable glass jar. Just add your milk of choice, mix and refrigerate overnight. The three flavors — Mulberry & Chia, Apple & Cinnamon, and Coffee & Banana — are organic, non-GMO and vegan, with no added sugar, salt, flavorings or artificial ingredients.

$2.29 Looking for a small, sweet treat? Molly & You’s Microwave Single Serve products will hit the spot by going from zero to indulgence in 90 seconds. Simply add water and the mix to a coffee mug, microwave, and enjoy a perfectly portioned brownie, cake or muffin. Varieties include Ooey Gooey Chocolate brownie, Double Chocolate Chip brownie, Salted Caramel brownie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough cake, Celebration cake and Cinnamon Coffee Cake muffin.

Mann’s Veggie Pasta Nourish Bowls with Plant-Based Protein

$4.99 Mann’s award-winning Nourish Bowls now include Basil Pesto and Tomato Bolognese, billed by the company as the first-ever warm veggie meals to feature plant-based protein, with vegan Chick’n in the pesto sauce and vegan sausage in the Bolognese. Kohlrabi, shredded kale and shredded carrots are among the vegetables showcased in the bowls, complemented by tasty sauces and grated parmesan cheese. Additionally, both low-calorie meals are ready to eat after just four minutes in the microwave.


Nutiva Organic MCT Powder

Noosa Mates

$2.49 We’ve been fans of Noosa’s rich Australian-style yogurt for quite some time, so we were impressed by this new variation that ups the brand’s game with mix-ins to create a heartier snack for any daypart. The three varieties are decadent yet better for you: Blueberry Walnut Granola combines blueberry yogurt with ancient-grain granola, currants and walnuts; Coconut Almond Chocolate pairs coconut yogurt with dark chocolate chunks, toasted coconut crisps and almonds; and Coffee Chocolate Almond teams cold-brew coffee yogurt with dark chocolate chips, coffee crunchies and sliced almonds. Well done!

$29.99 OK, the price is a little steep — but this supplement earns its keep by providing pure, clean fuel in a convenient, on-the-go format. Crafted from 100 percent young organic coconuts and gut-supportive prebiotic acacia to rapidly supply the brain and muscles with sustained energy while supporting the metabolism, the creamy alternative to traditional MCT oil is gentler on the digestive system and blends into smoothies, coffees, shakes and more as a between-meals energy booster, or pre- and post-workout support.

O’Dang Hummus Buffalo Ranch Dressing

$4.99 This is an interesting variation on hummus, and one that allows salad to keep its healthy halo that otherwise might be smothered by heavier dressings. At just 35 calories per serving, the item is made from pressed chickpeas. Our tasters appreciated this most as a dip; the maker also suggests it as a marinade. Claiming to be the best of ranch without any “fake” ingredients, O’Dang products are a great addition to grocery stores’ growing lineups of clean-label products.

Oikos Triple Zero Pineapple Flavor

Numi Organic Holistic Teas

$7.99 Our tester enjoyed three varieties in particular: A bright, citrusy flavor enlivened the Bamboo tea, along with a hint of mint for a calming effect; the Mate, meanwhile, featured rich cacao, creamy rooibos and piquant ginger, as well as a spicy finish from coriander, cardamom and black pepper, and the well-blended Tulsi replaced any bitter flavor with a delicate spiciness from maca, turmeric and licorice, along with the warming serenity of chamomile.


$1 / We liked this latest addition to Dannon’s Oikos line of blended Greek yogurts. Not only is it delicious, but it also delivers 15 grams of protein and 6 grams of dietary fiber in just 110 calories. What was launched as an exclusive product in Kroger-owned supermarkets has since been rolled out to all channels, where it should find many appreciative fans as it does battle with the growing presence of plant-based yogurts.

Oui by Yoplait

$1.49 General Mills aims to create what it calls a “simply better” segment for the yogurt category with Oui by Yoplait. The product is individually cultured in each glass pot to deliver a uniquely thick and creamy texture. Eating this yogurt felt like an occasion, and those in the mood for something a bit more upscale should enjoy this. Made with whole milk, cane sugar, fruit and yogurt cultures, Oui contains no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. With fruit on the bottom, flavors include Strawberry, Blueberry, Black Cherry, Vanilla, Coconut, Lemon, Peach, Blackberry, Raspberry, Key Lime, Mango and Pineapple.

Pampers Pure Protection

$11.99 Made with 0 percent chlorine bleaching, fragrance and parabens, Pampers Pure Protection diapers from Procter & Gamble offer a standout choice for parents searching for options in the natural category who don’t want to sacrifice performance. The diapers are crafted from premium cotton and other thoughtfully selected materials, boast stylish prints, and provide the Pampers protection already relied on by generations of parents. LAP_ProgGroc_GF_08-2018_PRINT.pdf



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Pear’s Gourmet Snack Nuts

$2.99-$5.99 We were impressed by the creative diversity of flavors in this line of snack nuts. The unique combinations tap consumers’ desire for complex tastes and textures. Our favorites from among the dozen varieties included the Everything Bagel Cashews, Maple Cinnamon Apple Walnuts, Wild Blueberry Ancient Grain Pecans and, naturally, the Maple Bacon Cashews. The line earned high marks for taste and for being free from artificial preservatives, flavors or colors.

Pearls Olives to Go! Infused Large Ripe Olives

$3.49 Pearls Olives to Go! Infused Large Ripe Olives are innovatively flavored California-grown olives in messfree, easy-open 1.2-ounce cups that keep their contents as fresh as the day they were packed until they’re ready to be used as a snack or to add a little kick to a range of dishes. Sold in 4-packs, the product line from Musco Family Olive Co. comes in three exciting varieties: Italian Herb, Sriracha and Taco.

Purell Multi Surface Disinfectant


$2.99, 3-ounce stand-up pouches; $1.29, 1-ounce single-serve bags The folks at World Peas are aiming to clean up the world of cheese-flavored salty snacks, and we think they’re on the right track. Peatos are a pulsebased crunchy puffed snack that boasts twice the protein (4 grams) and triple the fiber (3 grams) of traditional snacks, with no artificial flavors, synthetic colors or added MSG. Made from peas, lentils and beans, they’re non-GMO and gluten-free, in Classic Cheese, Chili Cheese, Fiery Hot and Masala.

$3.99 It makes perfect sense that the most trusted U.S. hand sanitizer brand now offers a surface spray. Safe to use around kids, pets and food, Gojo Inc.’s Purell Multi Surface Disinfectant kills 99.99 percent of germs. The patented alcohol-based formula, which requires no water rinse, disinfects and cleans a wide range of surfaces, and even works on soft surfaces like pillows and children’s toys, leaving behind only a refreshing scent — no harsh chemical residue, streaks or fumes.

Quinn Whole Grain Pretzels

Picnic Time Legacy Beer Caddy Cooler Tote with Opener and Mickey Mouse Cooler Tote

$33.95, for either Picnic Time’s deluxe soft-sided Legacy Beer Caddy Cooler Tote, which holds six bottles securely, has a removable padded divider, an adjustable shoulder strap and, best of all, an integrated bottle opener. Capable of carrying 24 cans, the company’s roomy insulated Mickey Mouse Cooler Tote features a water-resistant liner and a zippered pocket, along with a striking black-andwhite retro design scheme. Consumers seeking both performance and good looks in a cooler shouldn’t mind shelling out for either item.

Probar Live

$1.99 Probar Live is a delicious live probiotic nutrition bar made with real nuts and seeds and no added sugar, with 10 grams of plantbased protein and 1 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of live probiotics. Although best when cold, the gluten-free, non-GMO bars can also be enjoyed out of refrigeration for a few days, making them ideal for lunchboxes, running packs and gym bags. Varieties include peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate chip, coconut cashew and almond butter.


$3.99 Gluten-free pretzels keep getting better, and Quinn’s offerings are a big part of that progress. Even the pretzel freak among our tasters was bowled over by the flavor and crunch of these whole grain, non-GMO snacks. They also score high on transparency, carrying a “farm-to-bag” promise with a batch code that allows consumers to learn the source of every ingredient. Also corn-, soyand dairy-free, the snacks come in five varieties: Sea Salt Twists, Sea Salt Sticks, Touch of Honey Sticks, Maple Oat Twists and Deli Rye Style Rods.

Rayovac Hearing Aid Battery Packaging

$7.99 hearing-aid-batteries/ discover.aspx While Rayovac’s previous hearing-aid battery packaging dated all the way back to the mid-1990s, Spectrum Brands’ new and improved package features a secure dial that prevents unintentional spinning, and an easy-toopen, forward-facing door providing full visibility of each battery. The door is also reclosable to keep the remaining batteries secure and protected, while a longer, wider tab makes it easier to handle them. The result is a handsome and handy update for a necessary item.

Ready Pac Fresh Prep’d Wrap Kits

$4.99 These fun assembly kits feature bold flavors and come with everything needed to create a fresh wrap, including high-quality lean meats and cheeses, yummy sauces, fresh vegetables, and, of course, a soft tortilla in which to wrap all of the other ingredients. The product line enables consumers to build their wraps at home just before eating them, allowing for made-to-order taste with vegetables that are still crisp and a triumphantly un-soggy tortilla.

Ryan’s Rub All Natural Chicken Seasoning

$8.99 Amid the long line of similar products that come across our desks, this one stood out for its simplicity and versatility. Positioned primarily as a poultry seasoning, Ryan’s Rub — a blend of spices, salt, garlic, onion, ground mustard, dried chile and sugar — also works well on a host of proteins and vegetables, whether prepared by grill, stovetop or slow cooker. And it’s free of GMOs, gluten and MSG.

Sahale Snacks Banana Rum Pecans Nut Blend

$4.29 Inspired by the flavor of iconic New Orleans dessert Bananas Foster, this delectable nosh features a vanilla-rum glaze over crunchy whole dry-roasted pecans and cashews, sweet banana dices, and sliced crisp banana chips. Like all Sahale Snacks, the item is Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free and kosher, with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, so you can feel appropriately virtuous as you devour these by the handful.


Shindigs Dips

$3.99 One of the categories where consumers tend to favor brands over private label is dips, because they want to impress their party guests. Well, these cream-cheese-based dips from Duke Foods were designed to impress. They’re thick and will likely defeat anything but the most robust cracker, so they’d work well as a sandwich spread, too. They’d also be a great part of any retailer’s special-occasion merchandising solution. Varieties include Bacon Cheddar Ranch, Beer Cheese, Spinach Artichoke Four-Cheese Blend, Jalapeño Artichoke, Feta Greek Olive and Buffalo Chicken.

Sauder’s Buffalo Cage Free Hard Boiled Eggs

$3.79 Hard-boiled eggs continue to make inroads into snacking, with this notable boost from Sauder. The company’s cage-free eggs are brined in buffalo wing seasoning, which imparts that classic vinegary bite that’s cooled by the creaminess of the yolk. You can use them for deviled eggs or other recipes, but the 2-pack pouches of peeled, ready-to-eat eggs are perfect for lunchboxes and other grab-and-go snacking occasions. This product scores for protein, convenience and taste.

Simple Mills Almond Flour Cracker Snack Pack

$5.99 The Simple Mills Almond Flour Cracker Snack Pack is made for onthe-go snacking, allowing for healthier noshing anytime, anywhere. The gluten-free crackers are made from simple ingredients, including a flour blend consisting of almonds, sunflower seeds and flax seeds. Available varieties are Paleo-friendly Fine Ground Sea Salt, and Farmhouse Cheddar, a better-for-you version of your favorite cheesy childhood crackers.

Strongbow Rosé Apple Hard Cider

ThinkThin Protein Cakes

$8.99 Heineken USA’s Strongbow Rosé Apple is a semi-dry hard cider with a touch of red-fleshed apples for a clear, light-coral-pink appearance. Offering a light, refreshing, fruity taste and 5 percent ABV, this newest addition to Strongbow’s award-winning variety of flavors is reminiscent of a rosé wine, but with 50 percent less sugar than leading U.S. hard ciders, and contains no artificial flavors or colors. Strongbow Rosé Apple is available in a 6-pack of 11.2-ounce bottles.

$2.49 ThinkThin Protein Cakes are protein-rich snacks in classic cake flavors that provide a balanced way to satisfy sweet cravings. The snacks provide 12 grams of protein with only 1 gram of sugar, while satisfying that need for something sweet. Available in three flavors — Birthday Cake, Chocolate Cake and Red Velvet — the line offers a package consisting of two small round cakes with a decadent center filling, a creamy coating, and a chocolate drizzle or colorful sprinkles.

Sweet Earth Frozen Pizza

$ 6.99 Say hello to pizza enlightenment: bold flavors with attitude. Each of Sweet Earth’s frozen pizzas is handcrafted to deliver remarkable flavors and the functional benefits of fiber. Truffle Lover’s, earthy and indulgent in every bite, is a premium mushroom pizza with velvety caramelized onion sauce, gruyere cheese and spinach layered atop a bouncy, chewy whole wheat crust that’s flavorful and fortified with organic psyllium. The other varieties are Protein Lover’s, Veggie Lover’s and Herb Lover’s.

Sweet Earth Quesadillas

$4.99 Sweet Earth Quesadillas are filled with premium cheeses, veggies, beans and plant-based proteins, making them the perfect snack that moms can feel good about buying for their kids. The quesadillas are available in five varieties, including Aloha BBQ Quesadilla, a vegan spin on a Hawaiian Classic, featuring barbecued savory grounds with pineapple, pinto beans, jalapeño peppers and vegan cheddar cheese. Another standout is Diablo Quesadilla, consisting of vegan Harmless Ham with red bell peppers, white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, green onions and mozzarella.

Teavana Unsweetened Craft Iced Teas

$2.39 Bright, citrusy and refreshing, Teavana Unsweetened Meyer Lemon Black Craft Iced Tea is an excellent example of an iced tea that appeals through its natural flavors, rather than through sweetness, while Teavana Unsweetened Strawberry Apple Green Craft Iced Tea offered a crisp, reviving fruitiness without any sweetness from added sugar, making it the perfect choice to enjoy over ice on a hot summer day. Whether you desire a good midday pick-me-up or a guiltless “guilty pleasure,” these teas are for you.


Plant-Based Odor Removers

Tillamook Sauce Starters

$4.49 We imagined many possibilities for this innovative product that harnesses the great quality and wide recognition of the Tillamook brand. Consumers add the shredded cheese and spices provided to milk, heat and serve. Use it as a sauce or a dip; we enjoyed it as a base for macaroni and cheese. Enterprising home chefs could take this product in many directions, while savvy retailers could build clever solution-based displays to inspire them. The line's varieties are 3 Cheese, Creamy Alfredo, Spicy Queso and Aged Cheddar.

Tribali Foods Beef and Chicken Patties

Traina Organic Sicilian Ketchup

$3.99 We liked Traina’s original sundried tomato ketchup, and now they’ve taken it up a notch: This Sicilian version delivers a wonderful flavor — with a blend of garlic, fennel and spices — that not only dresses up ketchup’s usual partners, but also opens up a host of recipe applications for the creative home chef. According to Traina, there are more than 4 pounds of tomatoes in every bottle of this ketchup, which also is kosher, gluten-free and vegan.


$11.99 We first encountered these at Natural Products Expo West and were impressed by them and their brand story, created by a former longtime vegetarian now committed to humane, sustainable organic meat. The beef is pasture-raised and grass-fed, the chicken is free-range, and all are delicious. The Mediterranean-style beef patties contain fire-roasted garlic, onion and tomato, plus rosemary, spearmint and citrus; the Umami beef patties feature garlic, onions and Shiitake mushrooms; and the Chipotle chicken patties are blended with poblano salsa, garlic, onion, peppers and spices.

Wholly Avocado Simply Avocado Dip and Spread

$3.99 For those whose affection for avocados stops short of guacamole, Simply Avocado is for them. Use it as a dip, a spread or as the foundation for more complex recipes. Great for home or on-the-go snacking, the item is basically Hass avocados and not much else, making it a model of simplicity. It comes in four varieties: chunky avocado, sea salt, roasted red pepper and garlic herb.

Wholly Guacamole Snack Cups

$1.99 Answering the demand for wholesome, convenient and satisfying snacks, these snack cups deliver. It’s guacamole on the go — guac while you walk? — conveniently packed with tortilla rounds for no-hassle snacking with no preservatives. Available in classic, spicy and homestyle varieties, the item is perfect for lunchboxes, taking to work or enjoying at home.

Zico Coco-Lixirs

$3.99 The Coca-Cola Co.’s Zico Coco-Lixirs line fuses the brand’s Chilled Organic coconut water and organic cold-pressed juice. Naturally low in sugar and calories while loaded with electrolytes, coconut water is combined with the nutrient density and greens-in-a-bottle goodness of cold-pressed juice. The item comes in three flavors: For Lemon’s Sake (organic coconut water, lemon juice, pineapple juice, ginger and turmeric); Unbe-leaf-able (coconut water, cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, lemon, parsley and ginger); and Turn Up the Beet (coconut water, carrot, blueberry, apple, beet, lemon and baobab).



Day Break MORNING ME AL CHOICES ABOUND FOR TODAY’S SHOPPERS, WHO ARE E XPANDING THEIR BRE AKFAST REPERTOIRES. By Lynn Petrak n a 21st-century twist on what’s old is new again, there’s a type of hunting and gathering going on in the breakfast category. While animal-sourced proteins like eggs, bacon, sausage and dairy-based yogurt remain morning meal staples, plant-based foods are gaining in popularity among health-conscious consumers. Even the catchphrases are throwbacks, from “paleo” to “ancient” to “forager.” Despite that conscious embrace of “ancient” eating styles, evolution is a pretty apt description of the breakfast market right now, which encompasses longtime favorite foods, new formats, varying portion and serving sizes, and mobility-driven choices, to name a few of the splintered breakfast segments. It’s also an important market for food marketers and merchandisers: According to a recently released study, “Breakfast: Retail Product Trends and Opportunities in the U.S.,” from Rockville, Md.-based market research publisher Packaged Facts, more than half of households agree that breakfast is more important than lunch or dinner.


Key Takeaways The breakfast market is evolving to encompass old favorites, new formats, various portion and serving sizes, and conveniencedriven choices. In particular, better-for-you items, as exemplified by organic/ natural, free-from and plant-based options, are rising in popularity. The popularity of grab-and-go breakfasts can be leveraged in grocery stores with foodservice areas.





Driving the evolution in the breakfast category, of course, are today’s discerning consumers, who are seeking products that meet their respective interests and lifestyles. While that has always been true, today’s shoppers increasingly seek customization that suits their needs at the time. Some mornings, a busy commuter downs a smoothie on the go and calls it breakfast. A wellness-oriented shopper scans the shelf and looks for natural, organic and non-GMO foods that meet her personal criteria for morning food consumption. Another head of household is propelled by convenience and value in package size and product type. Sometimes, these preferences cross: That same time-strapped commuter whips up a traditional egg dish in the kitchen on a slower-paced weekend morning. While personalization is contributing to the fragmentation of the breakfast food and beverage market, there are some overarching trends. Packaged Facts, for instance, cites factors such as population trends, family household dynamics, economic influences, health and wellness, and retail industry trends. When it comes to population, the Packaged Facts breakfast report points to aging consumers and Hispanic shoppers as important demographics for manufacturers and food retailers. The report notes that the fastest-growing age group comprises those over 65, while the Hispanic consumer population is expected to grow 9.3 percent through 2020. Those who provide breakfast foods may also want to take note of another new report, “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018?” from the Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, which found that Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2012) and Millennials (born between 1981 and 1995), are seeking fresher breakfast foods that they can prepare or help cook. Those foods include eggs, cereal and center-of-the-plate proteins.

The Health-and-Wellness Effect

In addition to demographics, there are other key drivers of shoppers’ breakfast food preferences, including, prominently, health-andwellness trends. Packaged Facts notes that innovations in better-for you-breakfast products are “quite prevalent in the grocery aisle.” Organic and free-from claims are a major area of focus, according to the Packaged Facts report. Examples range from a line of gluten-free breakfast bowls from the Dr. Praeger’s brand, to protein-packed Stonyfield Farm Plain & Simple yogurt, to Boomin’ Berry organic bagels from Dave’s Killer Breads, among many others. “Free-from” is a broad term, covering everything from gluten to artificial ingredients to animal-based proteins. In that last segment, burgeoning consumer interest in meat alternatives and in plant-based proteins is a significant driver of food trends, including breakfast foods. In fact, the New York-based consulting group Baum + Whiteman called “plant-based” the food trend of the year for 2018. That assertion is echoed by Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for The NPD Group.


This is as good as the real thing, but made from a plant.” —Ben Roche, Just

Lehi Valley Trading Co.'s car cups of superfood-rich Simply Forage granola allow consumers to eat a healthy breakfast on the go.

“When you talk about what’s going on in the home in plant-based alternatives, people are looking at dairy alternatives like almond milk and soy milk,” he says. Plant-based products provide an alternative for morning favorites, particularly when they’re easily and conveniently prepared, adds Seifer, who’s quick to note that it’s a different kind of meatless eating than in the past. “It’s not about an increase in vegetarianism or veganism,” he explains, “it’s about ‘How do I add this to my repertoire?’” Whether bought by flexitarians, vegetarians, vegans or others seeking to mix up their food intake, plant proteins are often marketed as alternatives to traditional breakfast proteins. Meatless breakfast links and patties are one example. While still a niche product with a lower incidence of use, according to Packaged Facts, some items are geared to breakfast eaters, such as Amy’s veggie breakfast sausage, Lightlife Gimme Lean veggie breakfast patties and MorningStar Farms veggie bacon strips. Other examples are products with a dairy look and feel, but not sourced from dairy animals. “The refrigerated yogurt category, a $7.9 billion annual market, is down overall by 2.8 percent since last year, but refrigerated plant-based yogurts are up in sales a notable 58.3 percent,” observes Jill Failla, research analyst for Chicago-based Spins LLC, a provider of retail consumer insights, analytics reporting and consulting services for the natural, organic and specialty products industry. She cites plantbased brands such as The Coconut Cult, which offers probiotic-packed coconut yogurts, and brands like Coyo and GT’s CocoYo. “We’ve also seen innovation stem from alternative nut-based yogurts such as [products made with] cashews, and pea-based yogurts,” adds Failla. Just is a San Francisco company inno-

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Eggs are enjoying a boost in sales year over year, thanks to lower prices and once we saw the end of the bird flu epidemic, not to mention the consumer demand for healthful, vegetarian-friendly proteins.”

Made from mung beans, Just's liquid egg product is designed to cook and taste like traditional animalbased scrambled eggs.

—Jill Failla, SPINS

vating in another segment that’s been a central part of morning meals: eggs and egg replacements. An alternative to traditional eggs, Just Eggs is made from the 4,000-year-old legume known as the mung bean, which scrambles like an egg. The product is available in 12-ounce liquid form sold in the fresh case alongside traditional eggs and egg products like egg whites and hard-boiled eggs. “There really wasn’t a compelling product available to the average consumer that tastes really good and is [an] alternative” to eggs, explains Ben Roche, Just’s director of product development. “We think it’s possible to do that — this is as good as the real thing, but made from a plant.” Just Eggs is expected to be in more than 1,000 stores by the end of September, adds Roche’s colleague Matt Riley, VP of retail partnerships. “For the consumer, the buzz is that it’s a new product, it’s better

for you and better for the planet. There is also the incrementality it brings — in a retail setting, we have a have a response of 90 percent of consumers who have an allergy or aversion saying it’s an incremental purchase,” notes Riley, adding that the product is also garnering interest among consumers who just want to try something different. The company is currently working on a frozen egg-replacement patty for the retail market, to complement its frozen patty already available to foodservice operators.

Traditional Animal-Sourced Proteins

Even while Just Eggs is catching on with consumers interested in health, wellness, sustainability and unique products, whole eggs and traditional egg products continue to be strong breakfast performers, meaning that there’s room in the market for different product types. “Eggs are enjoying a boost in sales year over year, thanks to lower prices and once we saw the end of the bird flu epidemic, not to mention the consumer demand for healthful, vegetarian-friendly proteins,” says SPINS’ Failla. SPINS’ data supports a strong market for eggs. According to Failla, refrigerated eggs are a $5.8 billion annual market and have seen sales increase 17.5 percent year over year. Data from Chicago-based market research firm IRI, meanwhile, shows that sales of fresh eggs rose more than 17.4 percent to more than $5.64 billion in the past 52 weeks ending July 15. Also, Packaged Facts’ recent breakfast report reveals that eggs have a 93.7 percent usage rate, reaching more than 115 million households. The egg market, too, is evolving with




Among the latest RTE cereals from Post is this icecream-flavored Malt-O-Meal cereal co-branded with Cold Stone Creamery.

today’s consumers, reflecting the strength of health-and-wellness interest. “Eggs have been available in natural and organic formats with elevated animal welfare standards for many years, and now some natural brands are getting creative with grab-and-go, highly convenient, protein-packed products such as Vital Farms’ new Pasture-Raised Hard-Boiled Eggs,” notes Failla. Meanwhile, on the breakfast-meat side of the animal protein business, traditional morning meats, including bacon and sausage, remain a core part of many American breakfasts. According to the Packaged Facts breakfast report, bacon has 79.8 percent household penetration, while sausage has 71.3 percent household penetration. The use of bacon rose 2.6 percent from 2007 to 2017, according to the report.



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Waves of Grain

For decades, cold cereal was king in the breakfast market, before a cooling-off started a few years back. Packaged Facts pegs the loss of household usage of cold cereal at 5.5 percent over the past decade, while IRI reports a 1.52 percent decline in cold-cereal sales for the last 52 weeks ending July 15. Despite the sales slide and various factors affecting cold cereal, like the move to plant-based proteins and people’s propensity to eat on the go, this product type still has a strong foothold. According to Packaged Facts, cold cereal reaches 84.7 percent of households — the strongest household penetration of any packaged breakfast food. Indeed, IRI’s data shows that cold cereal still racked up more than $8.44 billion for the year ending July 15. Major cereal brands continue to reinvigorate their lineups; for instance, Post Consumer Brands, based in Lakeville, Minn., came out with several cereal products earlier this summer. Those items fit the different demands of today’s consumers, reflecting a mix of favorites, like the reintroduction of Honeycomb’s original flavor and size, as well as newer launches such as a new ice-cream-flavored bagged cereal that’s a co-branded product from Malt-OMeal and Cold Stone Creamery. “The cereal landscape is constantly changing as moms continue to look for brands that meet their family’s diverse needs. For us, that means providing a wide variety of cereals for consumers that meet the better-for-you, health-conscious consumer, to brands that feel more nostalgic and deliver great taste and family fun,” notes Roxanne Bernstein, CMO at Post Consumer Brands. “The constant, however, is that cereal must taste good," adds Bernstein. "Taste leads everything we do, and then from there, we look at expanding the portfolio to meet different lifestyle groups.” She continues: “Just a few years ago, you saw a major push to remove artificial ingredients. At times, this was at the expense of taste, and consumers responded. Now, some of those brands are offering their reformulated version alongside the ‘classic’ version, as consumer preferences are all over the board.” Meanwhile, hot cereals are — no pun intended — hotter than they’ve ever been

in the breakfast category. IRI’s data reveals that sales of hot cereal climbed 4.05 percent from July 2017 to July 2018, while Packaged Facts’ breakfast report notes that hot cereal consumption increases

Post is also relaunching old favorites like the original flavor and size of its Honeycomb cereal.

with age, something that food companies and stores can keep in mind as the population, led by Baby Boomers, ages. In addition, overnight oats have become popular among consumers, including Quaker’s line of single-serve overnight oats. “Shelf-stable hot non-instant cereal is growing 15.2 percent year over year, with some quick-growing brands, including Mush’s cold-soaked, ready-to-eat overnight oats and thinkThin’s Protein & Probiotics Hot Oatmeal cups,” observes Failla. Granola is another hub of innovation. One company evoking the newfound appeal of the ancient practice of gathering nuts and berries is Mesa, Ariz.-based Lehi Valley Trading Co., which has introduced small-batch soft-baked granola infused with superfoods. Varieties include Simply Forage and Cranberry Orange Pistachio. “Granolas are easy for a breakfast meal, especially for those on the go, because there is little to no preparation required, there are a multitude of options to choose from, and they can easily be incorporated into other breakfast options such as toppings for yogurts, blended into smoothies or maybe even eaten as a ‘cereal’ with milk,” says Jacque Taylor, Lehi’s director of marketing. “With convenient/resealable packaging options like our car cups, granolas are easily portable and stay fresh for consumers to enjoy while on the go.” On the subject of trends within the segment, Taylor notes: “With many offerings today, including all of ours, featuring hearty

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Miscellaneous Morning Foods Fitting in an era of blurred dayparts and all-day snacking, breakfast now spans a greater diversity of choices in 2018 and going forward. Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at The NPD Group, underscores the ongoing embrace of fresh food among today’s shoppers. “Fresh fruit is a growing breakfast category, with fruit that you can grab and run out the door,” he observes. “The banana, in particular is naturally ‘packaged’ — it’s so easy and fresh.” Breakfast beverages are another area where grocers can appeal to morning-meal shoppers looking for portable solutions. Packaged Facts’ breakfast report shows that refrigerated drinkable yogurt smoothies have one of the highest compound growth rates — that of 12.5 percent projected through 2022. Grocery stores with in-house foodservice operations, including smoothie and juice bars, have tapped into this area of opportunity. Grocerants can also entice their buying base with breakfast meals such as bowls, bakes and various forms of hand-held sandwiches. Seifer says that in the restaurant business, graband-go breakfasts are an industry bright spot, something that can be leveraged in grocery stores with foodservice areas. “Off-premise breakfast occasions are growing, with consumers going in, grabbing something and leaving,” he remarks. “They want to get out of there as fast as possible.” Further, grocers can get creative with such dishes: As the Packaged Facts breakfast report points out, breakfast bowls and breakfast hash “welcome all kinds of global flavor influences, such as Asian and Hispanic ingredients.” Another idea might be to offer brunch options, something also in tune with consumers’ mindsets. The American Egg Board’s most recent “Incredible Breakfast Trends” report noted that brunch has moved beyond traditional hotel restaurants and buffets to become a part of menus in chain restaurants, QSRs and retail grocerants.


Fresh fruit is a growing breakfast category, with fruit that you can grab and run out the door. The banana, in particular is naturally ‘packaged’ — it’s so easy and fresh.” —Darren Seifer, The NPD Group

rolled oats, select nuts, plump dried fruit, and less-refined sweeteners such as agave, cane juice and honey, granolas offer consumers a more wholesome choice in breakfast food. Additionally, we have seen in the last few years a growing trend towards … nutrient-rich/dense food additions such as quinoa, blueberries, almonds, flaxseed [and] chia seeds … that consumers are seeking out not only as a way to enhance their better-for-you need, but also as a way to stay more satiated between meals.”

A Hot Part of the Frozen Market

Meanwhile, there are other examples of breakfast food innovations in the grocery freezer case. Sure, frozen waffles are a daypart hallmark — with new launches like new Thick & Fluffy Belgium-Style Waffles from Kellogg Co. — but there have been other areas of innovation and perception in frozen breakfast foods. One such area is in natural/organic and other frozen breakfasts deemed better for you. According to SPINS, natural frozen breakfast foods have increased 21.4 percent year over year, compared with 6.5 percent growth in conventional frozen breakfast foods. At NPD, Seifer notes that slowly but surely, manufacturers are reaching consumers to break through frozen-meal stereotypes. “One of the common misconceptions is that they are loaded with preservatives,” he says. “Some are, but for many, the freezing method is [an effective preservative]. Frozen can’t become fresh again, but many manufacturers have shown how they are natural, organic foods that are preserved through freezing.”

Food Safety / Menu Strategy / Ask an Expert


here’s good news and bad news when it comes to retail food safety concerns. First the good news: More consumers have more confidence in the safety of the food bought in grocery stores (88 percent) compared with restaurant food (75 percent), according to the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Now the bad news: As many grocery stores’ fresh food sections continue to transform into grocerants, food safety will become a more daunting challenge. Also of note: 59 percent of consumers believe that a supermarket has to be open and honest about food safety issues and recalls. With lengthening lists of fresh salad-bar options, more demands on deli slicers, and time-sensitive prepared food offerings, the deli/grocerant section is at greater risk than ever for cross-contamination and bacteria exposure. Every piece of lettuce or slice of cheese is a potential risk. What’s more, FMI finds that shoppers hold stores to higher standards than


other places where they source their food, with 81 percent asserting that freshness of perishable items is a top priority.

An Industry Priority

“Food safety is a No. 1 priority for food retailers, and our industry remains committed to developing best practices that keep customers safe,” says Heather Garlich, FMI’s VP, media and public relations. Garlich notes that FMI’s recent “U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2018” analysis fnds that grocery stores continue to enjoy a broad level of shopper trust when it comes to food safety. Ninety-three percent of onsumers say that they trust their store to ensure that their food is safe — a high bar to reach, and one that’s consistent with the past several years. Hilary Thesmar, chief food and product

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Food Safety

safety officer and SVP of food safety programs at FMI, has led the group’s Food Protection Committee on developing initiatives to advance food safety knowledge throughout the food retail industry. The top priorities are as follows: Cleaning and sanitation Listeria prevention Produce safety Traceability technologies Ill food workers Here’s something else for the good-news column: Despite the complexity of today’s food safety issues, safeguarding comes down to good, old-fashioned best practices, according to FMI experts. Thesmar preaches the basics: Proper handwashing, keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot, eliminating cross-contamination and cross-contact, maintaining consistent and effective cleaning and sanitation schedules, keeping food safety’s significance top of mind, and continuously training and retraining employees and management.

Mitigating Risks

FMI focuses its food safety efforts from the supplier, and every point in between, to the shopper. At the supplier level, FMI offers the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) to ensure that the food supplied to retailers is safe. A division of FMI,

With lengthening lists of fresh salad-bar options, more demands on deli slicers, and time-sensitive prepared food offerings, the deli/ grocerant section is at greater risk than ever for cross-contamination and bacteria exposure.

SQFI has been instrumental in raising the level of awareness of the need for, and benefits of, credible, consistent third-party supplier certification. Most bacteria and viruses are passed by food handlers who neglect to wash their hands with soap and hot water. Vigilance and proper training, signage, and handwashing facilities can keep the passage of listeria, hepatitis A and norovirus to a minimum, however. Equipment contact is another contamination point; in many cases, vendors can help with training and resources. Julie Heinrichs, product line manager for food machines at Troy, Ohio-based Hobart, explains that her company provides client training for a single store or for large management meetings. She notes that most blade exposure — to bacteria and to possible user injury — comes when slicer covers are off and the equipment is being cleaned. Here, the safest-case scenario is a blade that can be completely removed and run through a high-heat dishwasher. “Not only do removable parts and fully encased blades protect operators, but they also reduce the risk of bacteria settling into grooves, cracks and crevices in the machine,” observes Heinrichs. Ultimately, the easier it is to remove parts for clean-

ing, the more likely that kitchen employees will do it frequently. Regular, thorough cleaning protects customers from cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses such as listeria outbreaks. “You don’t want staff to be flossing and wiping around intact blades and getting things stuck, which greatly increases risk of injury,” says Heinrichs. “I was just reading through some Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports and saw that 20 percent to 30 percent of injuries happen when people are cleaning and sharpening slicers. In fact, the more removable components, the easier access is for cleaning. Other options for removable slicer components include removable top covers, ring guard covers, feed grip arms and product trays.”

Mitigating Cross-Contamination

The deli is also rife with cross-contamination threats. Most operators use dedicated slicers for cheese and for meat, and many stores dedicate one machine to messier ingredients and another to dry, delicate charcuterie. Other criteria for separate machines include kosher-certified and allergy sensitivities. Heinrichs urges even more safeguarding against cross-contamination: “Sharp, well-maintained blades also ensure less ‘spitting’ when slicing, so that you don’t have juicier products spraying onto nearby products, like salad-bar components,” she explains. “You want to take this into consideration when deciding where to place slicers, too.”


Menu Strategy L


rocerants are a relatively young segment in the foodservice world. Many are still experiencing growing pains from the basics such as carving out space in a crowded retail setting, creating menu specialties and training staff. Thinking about menu strategies can fall to the bottom of the “to-do” list, but it’s worth moving to the top. Establishing your menu priorities begins with asking some questions that won’t just help create a menu, but will also guide your foodservice business model. Here are some questions to clarify your foodservice strategy: Has each menu item been prioritized based on its importance to your grocerant brand? Do you have an action plan for how each menu item will contribute to the brand’s business performance? Do you have details in place to execute the plan? Do you have goals and measures to evaluate results? Has the menu strategy been shared throughout the organization? Is the menu strategy understood throughout the company? As grocerants vie for more of consumers’ prepared food dollars, their operators need to go toe-to-toe with restaurants, especially those in the QSR and fast-casual segments. The most successful QSRs and fast-casual brands can answer “yes” to most, if not all, of the above questions. Grocerants can learn a lot by borrowing a page from their playbook.

Do Your Menu Strategy Homework

Getting to “yes” on the list of menu strategy questions requires some homework from all interested parties, but it’s time well spent. Here’s where to start:

1 2

Review your current menu strategy and results Do the math. How many items do you offer? What percentage of sales does each item contribute? Where are best-sellers located on your menu real estate? How often do you change the positioning of your menu listings? Establish your business objectives Some examples: We want to increase morning coffee sales, we want to be known for nightly pasta specials, or we need to increase sales between the lunch and dinner dayparts. Once you have prioritized your objectives in order of greatest potential, establish targets and metrics for each.


Identify and prioritize your food platforms Are beverage sales more important than sandwiches? How often do you sell a beverage with a sandwich? Are sides more profitable than desserts? How do your menu items work together and independently?



Understand critical weaknesses Menu measurement and strategy can identify and correct weaknesses, such as knowing your slowest hours of the day and identifying your lowest-selling items. This step can also help you identify threats and risks, like having a competitor with similar or better menu offerings.


Recognize critical success factors Track sales of best-sellers and signature items to measure what differentiates you from the competition.


Identify and prioritize key opportunities Provide specific examples of how you will accomplish your most important business objectives. Examples: We will develop “combo” offers to grow check averages, or we will offer free coffee refills with bakery purchases during slow afternoon hours. Knowing and sharing your homework will guide a menu strategy and create a unified vision that will help dissolve any cultural resistance within your organization. You might have individuals with their own ideas about the importance of a pizza topping or a weekly special. A menu strategy quantifies your grocerant goals and outranks any opinions and vested interests.

Howland Blackiston is principal of Westport, Conn.-based retail consulting and design firm King-Casey.

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Ask an Expert: Josh Onishi THE SUSHI VISIONARY ANSWERS PROGRESSIVE GROCER ’S QUESTIONS. slew of recent consumer research shows that sustainable spells fresh for many shoppers. Information Resources Inc. (IRI)’s 2017 Fresh Food Shopping Trends Survey found that 44 percent of consumers believe that social and cultural factors have gained in importance in the past few years, and 26 percent of consumers are motivated by sustainably produced/grown foods. Moreover, Chicago-based IRI’s “FreshLook” report noted that strong sustainability programs are continuing to sell more seafood, boosting fin fish sales by 3.3 percent.

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Grocerant innovation is moving at hyper-speed as restaurateurs and supermarkets work to find the magic recipe.” —Josh Onishi

Josh Onishi, CEO and president of Philadelphia-based Peace Dining Corp., is ahead of this curve. His sushi and other fresh prepared Japanese specialties are featured in more than 250 Whole Foods Market stores across the United States and the United Kingdom. He’s also a thought leader on seafood sustainability, and is committed to leading the way in sustainability through state-of-the-art caught and farmed fishing practices, as well as maintaining sustainable practices in the industry’s packaging and delivery systems.

Progressive Grocer : What are some sushi-related trends — such as ingredients, hybrid styles, etc. — that customers want to see in retail settings, and how can you help grocerants deliver on the latest trends? Josh Onishi: For sushi, sustainability will be the key driver within the retail setting. Many of the largest supermarket players, like Kroger and Albertsons, are committing to sustainable-seafood programs within the next five to 10 years. Whole Foods Market, where many of our grocerants are located, is already there. As the No. 1 supplier of sustainable sushi in a retail setting, we are leading the sustainable revolution of this industry. For consumers, this means higher-quality ingredients that are sourced responsibly and that create better end products. Sushi trends are also about fun and familiarity. Buzzworthy innovations like sushi burritos, sushi doughnuts, sushi tacos and sushi pizza are fun and exciting new ways for consumers to enjoy sushi in different formats they know and love. PG: Tell us about some new ingredients you see being used in sushi. JO: Dietary inclusiveness is an increasingly important component to every menu. Vegan, gluten-free and Paleo diets continue to grow in popularity each year. For instance, there are Paleo-diet-friendly sushi versions with cauliflower rice. The rice is bound with crushed cashews; crushing the nuts creates some oil, which makes it a bit sticky for binding. It’s not our best-selling item, but it keeps the Paleo customers pleased. Poké bowls are popular, and you can take a bowl approach to sushi and

maybe use quinoa and brown rice as the base. People associate sushi with healthy, not-fried food, and it’s great to incorporate more healthy ingredients into sushi programs. Menus designed to appeal to the spectrum of consumers ensure that everyone in the family can enjoy dining at our grocerant concepts.

PG: What do you see as emerging and ongoing trends for grocerant sushi? JO: Consumers want grocerants to provide everything they can get in a fine sushi restaurant, which means more complex sushi rolls that use upgraded, creative fish-and-vegetable combinations; different sauces; and innovative toppings. Grocerant innovation is moving at hyper-speed as restaurateurs and supermarkets work to find the magic recipe. We are seeing culinary influences from all over Asia gain in popularity in the U.S. It’s difficult to say that one is trending more than another, but Americans are open to global flavors now more than ever before.

For longevity, adapting authentic foods like ramen, sushi and Hawaiian poké has worked best for us. More and more supermarkets are valuing how relevant grocerants can grow their business and their brand. Choosing the right concept for each market is mostly about knowing your customers and what they’re exposed to in their local restaurant space. A concept may work in one market but fail in another, so it’s important to do your homework. Creating theater — food preparation in front of customers — is a consistent trend driving traffic within grocerants. We’re also seeing success with operators adding technology to add convenience, whether it be from touchscreen ordering or ordering through mobile apps.




ellness has long been a buzzword in the grocery channel. To offer consumers a onestop marketplace for healthand-wellness information, supermarkets are staffing their stores with nutritionists and leveraging the expertise of their pharmacy departments to provide their customers a full range of health-and-wellness services to that are hard for the competition to beat.


Increasingly, grocers are using their websites and harnessing the features of social media platforms to keep consumers up to date on information they need to lead healthier lifestyles and to position the chains as go-to sources of healthand-wellness services. Nutritional wellness information is a natural fit for supermarkets. As such, The Kroger Co. uses its Wellness Your Way platform to educate customers throughout the year about nutrition and Dietitians’ Pick recipes, as well as seasonal wellness and the retailer’s pharmacy and The Little Clinic services. “The website complements our in-store marketing and overall integrated communications approach,” says Kristal Howard, head of corporate communications and media relations at Cincinnati-based Kroger. “The chain keeps information relevant and fresh for consumers — and keeps Kroger

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top of mind as a health resource — by tying into timely events.” For National Nutrition Month in March, Howard explains, “we spotlighted different ways customers can improve their day-today nutrition intake with easy changes, and provided tips on how nutrition can improve sleep quality, which is relevant to the change to Daylight Saving Time.” St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn’s, which operates 54 stores under the Coborn’s, Cash Wise, Marketplace Foods and Save-ALot banners, features a “Dietitian’s Corner” page on its website that highlights its three staff dietitians and includes recipes and recipe videos, as well as information on grocery store tours, personal consultations, classes and community presentations. The retailer recently launched a weekly Facebook Live Healthy Tip Tuesday program in which dietitians show consumers how to make healthy and nutritious options easier, and hopes to include pharmacy wellness topics in future Facebook Live programs. “We partner with vendors to give consumers tips and recipes,” says Ashley Maurer, social media and creative specialist at Coborn’s. “We’re positioning ourselves as a health option for consumers.” In February, during Heart Health Month, Coborn’s teamed up with Quaker Oats and California Walnuts for wellness programs. A “Make it a Meal” blog, launched in January, features how-to videos. “While we offer a printed recipe online and in circulars, we try to include video to make it more interactive,” notes Maurer. The chain also posts Dietitian’s Choice recipes every Thursday. “We’ve been translating our programs into all platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter,” says Maurer. “We’re even experimenting with Snapchat.” Pharmacy also gets a high profile on the website, with tips on staying healthy, helpful resources, links to a variety of health articles, and highlights of upcoming programs and screenings featured on the pharmacy page. Additionally, Coborn’s Wellness Wednesdays, offered each month and featuring pharmacists and dietitians,


The website complements our in-store marketing and overall integrated communications approach … and keeps Kroger top of mind as a health resource.” —Kristal Howard, The Kroger Co.

are advertised on the site. “We geo-target the audience for these programs, using Facebook,” explains Maurer. A pharmacist blog is updated with timely health information on vaccine updates, blood pressure machines, asthma alerts and allergy updates. Chandler, Ariz.-based Bashas’ Family of Stores recently began partnering with internal experts from the Wellness Council of Arizona on health-and-wellnessfocused social media videos. “We cover topics from heart health to superfoods to gluten-free,” observes Ashley Shick, spokeswoman for Bashas’. “We found our followers on social media really respond well to the information. “As a family-owned and -operated grocer,” Shick continues, “it’s important for us to not only provide great quality and affordable grocery items, but to help our customers be the best selves they can and be a resource for them as well. The addition of these videos is a great way for us to share some additional knowledge with our customers.” Last year, West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee


Inc. launched Hy-Vee Balance, a monthly magazine that includes a mix of health-and-wellness topics and tips, as well as culinary expertise and family-friendly recipes. Those articles can also be found on the grocery store chain’s website. Each month, Hy-Vee health and wellness focuses on a specific theme and ties in store promotions, recommendations and product demonstrations, when appropriate, to that theme to help the customer experience a holistic approach to wellness with preventive immunizations, healthful food/drink choices and vitamins/supplements. “Our No. 1 goal with health-and-wellness-related website content is that it is a valuable tool for readers,“ says Kristin Williams, Hy-Vee’s SVP and chief health officer. “In addition to the main website, we send occasional health-and-wellness emails to customers who have expressed interest in receiving this kind of information. We are in the process of developing a gluten-free microsite that will be a dedicated resource for people who either have celiac disease or choose to live a gluten-free lifestyle.” Hy-Vee also uses its social platforms to promote specific health-related events/information such as flu shots, shingles vaccinations and biometric screenings. Albertsons stores’ websites include information on common consumer health issues such as allergies, GERD and eye health, as well as specific areas of men’s and women’s health. The site also provides

information on vitamins and supplements offered at banners operated by the Boise, Idaho-based company. To let consumers know that it’s committed to its customers’ health, Wegmans Food Markets recently added the specialty pharmacy services of a dedicated pharmacist with special expertise in specific disease areas to serve as a personal support for customers, apprising them of any available discounts, helping them to manage side effects, deal with self-injecting

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and understand their medication, along with addressing any other concerns they may have. The Rochester, N.Y.-based supermarket chain’s website outlines these features, as well as other pharmacy services, positioning it as a full-service pharmacy health provider.

We partner with vendors to give consumers tips and recipes. We’re positioning ourselves as a health option for consumers.” —Ashley Maurer, Coborn’s In addition to information about its nutritionist and pharmacist services, Wegmans includes information on its website about its innovative Hit the Trail Passport fitness program. In a partnership with a community near Wegmans’ headquarters, Penfield, N.Y., whose officials encourage exploration of local nature trails, Wegmans offers a pocket-sized trail “passport” with easy-to-read maps, fitness tips, and motivation in the form of prizes for trails hiked and recorded in the booklet. More than 60 Wegmans stores team with town and city recreation programs, park conservancy groups and fitness programs to bring the program to consumers.

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More exhibitors. More categories. More products. It’s hard to believe but PLMA’s 2018 Private Label Trade Show will be bigger and better than ever. Why? Because store brands are setting records for consumer popularity and sales. Whether it’s bricks-and-mortar or online, big chains or small specialty retailers, store brands are the way to go. Food, snacks, beverages, health and beauty, household and GM. Plus, the show has added kitchenware and housewares, self-care wellness and now private label wine. As the man says “You ain’t seen nothin yet!”

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The Name’s Familiar


hiquita bananas, along with Del Monte and Dole pineapple and bananas, paved the way for branding in the produce department. Today, Cuties and Halos brand mandarin oranges have met with great success. Purchase of produce brands is driven by consumers’ familiarity with the brand, as well as their belief in safety, freshness and quality products that will last longer. Brands haven’t always played a large role in produce sales, but things have changed. Produce brands are now appearing in more shoppers’ carts and increasing the department’s profits.

Key Takeaways Brands are increasingly important to many produce shoppers, trusted for their quality, safety and freshness. Local or regional brands are particularly popular, and signage detailing where produce is grown can attract customers who may feel these brands are fresher. Grocers can use websites and social media to let customers know about new produce brands or varieties, and to inform shoppers when a fresh crop is in. PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2018




The Power of Brands

Shoppers are embracing produce brands, according to “The Power of Produce,” a report from the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Among consumers who expressed a brand preference for produce, many noted their habit of buying brands that they know. The report finds that while unbranded produce still makes up the majority share, it’s down from 62 percent in 2011 to 51 percent in 2016. Brands are also fueling growth, the report notes, while Chicago-based Nielsen finds five-year dollar growth for national brands up 12 percent (five-year compound annual growth rate 2011-16). Branded produce, according to Nielsen, has taken charge of the produce snacking category, a $1.1 billion market. Branded produce snacks account for a 72 percent dollar share of the total produce snack category, the market researcher finds, amounting to $44 million in growth from the previous year. “The continued growth in consumer demand for healthier meal solutions and/or snacks makes produce

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attractive for branded companies,” affirms David Bishop, managing partner at Balvor LLC and partner at Brick Meets Click, both based in Barrington, Ill. “Brands, whether it’s a store or manufacturer, can create a positive halo effect for the store that’s associated with quality and value. And manufacturer brands help drive consumer demand via advertising and promotional support.” Industry consultant Ron Pelger, owner of RonProCon, in Reno, Nev., agrees. “Consumers want fresher and safer foods these days, and they identify it with a strong trust in popular branded produce,” he says. “Branded produce represents a premium value to customers who seek the very best in quality and taste. All indications point to more companies starting to build branding into their products. With this in mind, fresh branded produce will continue to increase its future growth.” Josh Padilla is on the front line in his stores, merchandising produce and witnessing changes in the department and increases in consumer demand for brands, as produce and floral director for grocery distributor Krasdale Foods, which serves the greater New York metropolitan area. According to Padilla, a large number of the independent grocery stores served by White Plains, N.Y.-based Krasdale have embraced produce brands in ads. “Many customers are familiar with these brands: Dole, Green Giant Potatoes, Pretty Lady Grapes, and brands from growers Andy Boy and Mucci Farms,” he observes. “In addition, many brands spend an enormous amount of R&D on new items and innovation, which helps our stores stay ahead of competition, since they’re more inclined to take on new items than chains will. Our stores are learning that having brands in produce product assortment is a differentiation for us from some of our competitors.”

Local Brands, Local Flavor

Within the general trend toward branded produce, local and area brands are increasing in popularity, possibly because consumers feel that the brands are fresher, due to less distance traveled. In FMI’s report, 30 percent of those who cited a brand preference when purchasing unprocessed (loose, bag-yourself) produce named local or regional brands.

The local/regional produce brand purchaser is a profitable customer. According to the FMI report, 38 percent of local/ regional produce brand consumers can be influenced by promotions, 36 percent have incomes of greater than $100,000, 48 percent are core organic produce shoppers, and 34 percent are mid-high grocery spenders, at $100-$125. These are all indicators of a strong growth group that brings profit.

Brands, whether it’s a store or manufacturer, can create a positive halo effect for the store that’s associated with quality and value.” —David Bishop, Brick Meets Click In some supermarkets, consumers look forward to the time of year when certain locally branded produce will be available. One example is Amaize corn at Tops Markets LLC, based in Williamsville, N.Y. Noted for its taste, crunch and sweetness, Amaize is a rare type of white corn created using traditional hybridization methods and grown in limited supply in the United States. The grocer is the exclusive vendor of Amaize in its marketing area. “Tops prides itself in working with local growers like the Zittel family at Eden Valley Growers, who we’ve had a relationship with for over 55 years,” notes Jeff Cady, director of produce and floral for the retailer, of its successful partnership with one Amaize grower. “New York is an agricultural smorgasbord,” Cady adds. “We have lettuces, squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, corn, peaches,





cherries, strawberries, blueberries, apricots, plums, apples, cabbage, cooking greens [and] onions, just to name a few.” Tops is also the main seller of New York Bold brand onions, which are popular locally. Cady uses in-store point-of-sale materials to call attention to such local brand items, noting, “We also use the digital world to get the message across.” Tops teams with more than 200 local growers and has a “Homegrown” page on its website to detail item availability and where different items are grown. Over a broader geographical area, state branded produce such as Florida oranges have strong selling power. One example of a strong-selling state brand is that of California avocados. “Most avocado consumers do not recognize ‘brands’ of avocados, but they do have some understanding of, and preferences regarding, origins,” explains Jan DeLyser, marketing VP for the California Avocado Commission, in Irvine. “California

is the brand/origin most recognized and preferred across the U.S.” When the fruit is in season, the commission encourages retailers to treat California avocados as a brand, not just an origin, notes DeLyser. While California avocado marketing has wound down at this time of year, she observes that autumn is a good time for retailers to take advantage of tailgating and nontraditional holidays for avocados, like Halloween and Thanksgiving, to encourage year-round purchase of the fruit.





Branding helps retailers win on so many levels, and especially in building consumer trust to keep people enjoying fruits or vegetables from stores.” —Brianna Shales, Stemilt Growers

Why Branded Produce?

A brand label can communicate directly with produce customers who believe that brands offer quality, freshness and safety. “We’ve seen how successful CPG companies have been with brands, and it’s fun to see a rise in branding come to the produce department,” notes Brianna Shales, communications manager for Stemilt Growers, based in Wenatchee, Wash. “Branding helps retailers win on so many levels, and especially in building consumer trust to keep people enjoying fruits or vegetables from stores.” Adds Shales, “Branding is a big focus at Stemilt because it allows us to achieve our goal of offering shoppers transparency.” Since the company’s beginning, Stemilt has wanted shoppers

to know where their fruit came from and how it was grown. “Brands also help us market intent to shoppers in order to drive purchases,” notes Shales. For example, Stemilt’s Lil Snappers kid-size apples and pears are available in a 3-pound pouch bag. “The fruits are the right portion size for kids,” she says. “Parents love this pack because there are enough apples to include one in two kid lunches every day for a week.” Noting that Lil Snappers offers convenient items for parents to make their busy lives easier, Shales continues: “We’ve had great success with this brand, which also includes a full line of Artisan Organics apples and pears. Using a brand like Lil Snappers has given retailers a new drive behind promoting smaller fruit, and most importantly, it’s led to category increases.” Stemilt has been growing organics for nearly 30 years, Shales notes, and the fall 2018 organic apple crop will see another increase in volume in Artisan Organics. About 30 percent of the company’s apples are grown and certified organic. Because of this increase, Stemilt has expanded its 5-pound Artisan Organics pouch bag line to include additional consumer-favorite varieties, including Gala and Fuji. “This bag allows retailers to promote organics and


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ring more volume through the register,” asserts Shales. Meanwhile, the category leader in grapes, Sun World International, of Bakersfield, Calif., will offer a record number of proprietary grape brands this coming fall, including its “late-season trio”: Scarlotta Seedless, Autumncrisp and Adora Seedless brand grapes. “We have seen tremendous growth in the last three years,” affirms Sun World VP of Domestic Sales Jason Fuller. “This year, we are marketing the largest crop in our history. Because of this, we will have a record amount of promotable product to help our retailers grow.” Grocers can plan on aggressive brand promotions from mid-September through mid-November. Sun World’s grape brands have differing flavor profiles. Adora Seedless brand grapes are crisp and sweet with a 1-inch diameter, according to the grower, observing that Adora is sometimes called a two-bite grape. Autumncrisp brand grapes are said to be sweet, with a hint of Muscat wine and a crunch, while Scarlotta Seedless brand grapes are red, with an aromatic flavor, the grower notes. Another brand grower, Savor Fresh Farms, based in Yuma, Ariz., offers Kiss Melons, a popular brand with its customers. The company grows hundreds of melons in test trials each year to deliver flavors that will appeal to those customers. Savor Fresh is growing more Sugar Kiss melons and organic melons this year, in response to customer request.

Our stores are learning that having brands in produce product assortment is a differentiation for us from some of our competitors.” —Josh Padilla, Krasdale Foods

Snow Kiss Melons, with a white exterior and flesh, are being added to the Kiss melon line this year. According to Savor Fresh Farms President Milas Russell III, the new melon’s flavor is sweet but not overpowering. The Kiss melon harvest begins the first week of May and lasts through October in the United States, transitioning to Australia over the winter.


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COURT-APPROVED LEGAL NOTICE If you purchased Broiler chicken directly from a Broiler Chicken Producer for use or delivery in the United States from January 1, 2008 through August 18, 2017, a class action settlement may affect your rights.



Para una notificación in español, llame gratis al 1-866-552-1178 o visite nuestro website A settlement has been proposed between Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs and Fieldale Farms Corporation in a class action antitrust lawsuit about Broiler chickens sold in the United States between January 1, 2008 and August 18, 2017. This Court-ordered notice may affect your rights. Please review and follow the instructions carefully. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois authorized this notice. Before any money is paid, the Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the Settlement. WHO IS INCLUDED? For settlement purposes, Class Members are defined as all persons (including businesses and companies) who purchased Broilers directly from any of the Defendants or any co-conspirator identified in this action, or their respective subsidiaries or affiliates, for use or delivery in the United States from at least as early as January 1, 2008 until August 18, 2017. If you are not sure you are included, you can get more information, including a detailed notice, at or by calling toll-free 1-866-552-1178. Specifically excluded from the Class are the Defendants; the officers, directors, or employees of any Defendant; any entity in which any Defendant has a controlling interest; and any affiliate, legal representative, heir, or assign of any Defendant. Also excluded from the Class are any federal, state, or local governmental entities, any judicial officer presiding over this action and the members of his/her immediate family and judicial staff, any juror assigned to this action, and any co-conspirator identified in this action. WHAT IS THIS ABOUT? The lawsuit claims that Broiler chicken producers including Fieldale Farms combined and conspired in restraint of trade, the purpose and effect of which was to suppress competition and allow them to charge supracompetitive prices for Broilers during the Class Period, in violation of federal law. Fieldale Farms vigorously and affirmatively denies it did anything wrong, and denies that it in any way conspired with competitors to restrain trade or suppressed competition to charge supra-competitive prices. The Court did not decide which side was right, but both sides agreed to the Settlement to resolve the case. The case is still proceeding on behalf of the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs against all other Defendants. WHAT DOES THE SETTLEMENT PROVIDE? Fieldale Farms will pay $2,250,000 as a monetary payment. In addition to this monetary benefit, as part of the Settlement Agreement Fieldale Farms has also agreed to cooperate in good faith with Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs and Settlement Class Counsel in regard to the ongoing litigation against the non-settling Defendants. This cooperation includes producing relevant documents, making current or former employees available for interviews and depositions, and providing a description of certain facts known to Fieldale that the Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs contend are relevant to the conduct at issue in the litigation. Class Counsel are not seeking to recover attorneys’ fees and do not plan for distribution of settlement proceeds to the Class Members at this time, but may do so at a future date subject to further notice. WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS AND OPTIONS? You do not need to take any action to remain a Class Member and be bound by the Settlement. As a Class Member, you may be able to participate in any future settlement or judgment obtained by Direct Purchaser Plaintiffs against other Defendants in the case. If you don’t want to be legally bound by the Settlement, you must exclude yourself by October 15, 2018 or you won’t be able to sue or continue to sue Fieldale Farms about the legal claims in this case. If you exclude yourself, you can’t get money from the Settlement. If you stay in the Settlement, you may object to it by October 15, 2018. The detailed notice explains how to exclude yourself or object. Details may also be found on the FAQs page of the settlement website. The Court will hold a hearing in this case (In re: Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 16-cv-08637) on November 13, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. to consider whether to approve the Settlement. You may ask to speak at the hearing, but you don’t have to. This notice is only a summary. You can find more details about the Settlement at or by calling toll-free 1-866-552-1178. Please do not contact the Court.

Branded Promotion: Free and Effective

Who knew that the day would come when produce would be advertised by brand? Since people are connected online more than ever, produce brands have the chance to talk directly to consumers. According to a 2017 Nielsen report, “When it Comes to Branding, the Produce Department is Ripe With Opportunity,” even though branded produce generates a significant dollar share across the total fresh department and has driven department growth over the past five years, media spend on fresh produce is highly disproportionate. Produce growers and retailers have several ways to capitalize on the growth of brands, Nielsen points out. Produce brands can leverage the reach and loyalty of customers who are in stores shopping for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands, while these brands can take advantage of the growth and frequency of produce shoppers. Developing branded produce items can help expand consumer education regarding label claims, which fulfills one reason that customers often choose branded produce: information. Krasdale’s Padilla notes that this familiarity with brands has helped his retail customers increase sales, because they’re tapping into brand marketing that includes television, print ads, coupons and online.

Apple Names are Apple Brands Customers know the names of apples as well as they know the crunch. Some choose Honeycrisp, while others want Gala. To shoppers, these are apple brands. Consumers associate certain varieties with uses such as salads, baking, preserves, grilling and more. Industry experts think that as apple brands continue to expand, so will shopper purchases. Apples currently claim three times more display space than other produce. Americans consume, on average, 28 pounds of fresh, canned, dried, frozen and juiced apples annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hands down, apples are the country’s most popular fruit: The United States grows nearly 200 varieties of apples, according to the U.S. Apple Association, in Falls Church, Va., and more than 100 varieties are available at retail. The top 10 varieties sold in the United States are Gala, Red Delicious, Fuji, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Cripp’s Pink/Pink Lady, Braeburn and Jazz. New varieties are introduced on a regular basis, such as Stemilt’s new Rave, Piñata and SweeTango. Give your customers recipes to use apples in more ways, to increase sales. For meal ideas, try the U.S. Apple Association, at


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Walmart’s Alphabot picking system automates key pieces of the online grocery pickup service using autonomous mobile carts to gather items from a high-density storage system located in the back of the store.


s today’s top grocers seek to find ways to cut costs and allow their associates to focus more directly on attending to shoppers’ needs, they’re employing automation and robotics throughout the store, improving efficiency and accuracy in operations from food safety all the way to the last mile of delivery. While many grocers have gone on record to share noteworthy ways that they’re working internally and externally to integrate these new technologies — and even more are keeping their lips sealed — here are five noteworthy food retailers and the areas in which they’re employing the latest in robotics and automation solutions.


Walmart and Ecommerce Picking

When online grocers ramp up ecommerce operations, it’s important that they add technology to make floor associates’ lives easier in the order-building and -fulfillment process. Walmart arguably has experienced such growth more than any other traditional brick-and-mortar operator in recent years, so, in partnership with North Billerica, Mass.-based startup Alert Innovation, it launched Alphabot to assist in the picking process. Said to be the first of its kind, the solution helps store pickers speed up the process of filling online grocery orders, using automated mobile carts that work behind the scenes by picking products from the storage area and delivering them to one of four picking stations, where pickers consolidate the items into customers’ orders. Pickers can spend less time walking the aisles for center store items and more time selecting such fresh items as meat and produce. “With the aid of Alphabot, our associates will have more time to focus on service and selling, the two things they



With the aid of Alphabot, our associates will have more time to focus on service and selling, the two things they often tell us are the most enjoyable part of the job, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks.” —Mark Ibbotson, Walmart

often tell us are the most enjoyable part of the job, while the technology handles the more mundane, repeatable tasks,” said Mark Ibbotson, EVP of central operations, Walmart U.S., at the time of the launch. “Although this is a small pilot, we expect big things from it. We have a lot to learn about this new technology, and we’re excited about the possibilities of how we can use it to make the future of shopping — and working — even better.” The innovation is being introduced in the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer’s Salem, N.H., Superstore as part of the location’s grand reopening, so it should be up and running by the year’s end. A 20,000-square-foot extension was built onto the store to house the technology and serve as a dedicated grocery pickup point with drive-thru lanes for customers.

Amazon and ‘Just Walk Out’ Shopping

Scan-as-you-shop technology is one of the hot new technologies for easing the shopping experience. The problem here, though, is pushing customers to do more work by downloading an app and scanning every product as they put it into the basket — which is arguably why Walmart’s solution of this kind failed.


Amazon Go uses computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning to detect what shoppers put in their baskets, and then charges them automatically upon exit.

Ecommerce giant Amazon sought to change this earlier this year with the public debut of its Amazon Go format, which uses “just walk out” technology to create a truly grab-and-go experience requiring no additional effort on the shopper's part. To give a quick overview of how it works: The store uses technology similar to that powering self-driving cars, employing computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning to automatically detect when products are removed from, or placed back on, shelves. To use the “just walk out” technology, patrons download and check in via a mobile app, take what they want, and walk out the door, where they are charged for the products they take with them. There are no lines or barcodes to be scanned in the process. Granted, the store’s public debut came 10 months late due to technical difficulties. During a March presentation at ShopTalk in Las Vegas, Amazon Go VPs Dilip Kumar and Gianna Puerini revealed some of those issues, which included pulling off the “just walk out” technology in a way that makes it seamless and effortless, developing algorithms that are beyond state-of-the-art for computer vision and machine learning to solve the problems of who took what, and creating the robust hardware and software infrastructure to support everything. Even retraining customers’ behavior when shopping and leaving a typical grocery store presented a challenge. The technology appears to be fixed now, as Amazon has since revealed new locations in San Francisco and Chicago, and even a second spot in its hometown of Seattle, where the original is located. It’s not just Amazon seeking to open stores with this technology, though. Albertsons Cos. could be the next major retailer to roll out “just walk out” technology similar to Amazon’s, according to business journal Specifically, Shane Sampson, chief marketing and merchandising officer of the Boise, Idaho-based retailer, said in a May presentation that the retailer is experimenting with “Amazon Go-like technology” specifically for use with a “limited set of products, like Plated” meal kits and other prepared offerings. Customers would be able to grab what they want and leave the store without having to scan a barcode or go through traditional checkout.

Ahold Delhaize USA and Out-of-Stock Robots

It’s been said that adding googly eyes to any plain object makes it fun. This definitely was the case with Ahold Delhaize USA and Marty, whose purpose is to detect hazards, out-of-stocks and more — and who reportedly has become quite popular with selfie-snapping shoppers. In April, Marty the Robot debuted in a La Follette, Tenn., Food Lion store, where it clean-sweeps the store a dozen times daily to identify slip-and-fall hazards on the floor, to which it alerts associates and also warns nearby shoppers. It also scans shelves for out-of-stocks and ensures that shelf pricing is aligned with the front end registers. In the future, Marty’s developer — Lexington, Ky.based Badger Technologies — hopes to improve the technology to also check and report temperatures, allowing store managers to focus on other activities.

At Food Lion, Marty the Robot clean-sweeps the store a dozen times daily to identify slip-and-fall hazards on the floor, scan shelves for out-of-stocks and ensure shelf pricing is aligned with the front end registers.

Sporting the aforesaid googly eyes, a name tag, and a Shop & Earn ribbon, the robot has become popular with customers, some of whom come by the store with friends and family just to see it. Numerous postings and selfie photographs with Marty have also appeared on social media. The La Follette location’s robot isn’t the only one being used by an Ahold Delhaize USA banner. At the time of Marty’s debut, four Giant and Martin’s stores in Pennsylvania were using similar robots, and the parent company had plans to roll out robots to all 171 Giant and Martin’s stores by the year’s end. Also, Ahold Delhaize USA isn’t the first food retailer to test such robots in stores: Last July, St. Louis-based grocer Schnuck Markets partnered with San Francisco-based automation solutions provider Simbe Robotics and Irvine, Calif.-based Advantage Solutions’ digital technology division to begin piloting similar robots at three stores, where the devices scanned shelves over a six-week period three times a day to ensure proper stocking and product placement.

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Kroger and Autonomous Delivery Vehicles

Leveraging Advantage’s deep client relationships, the robot’s computer-vision technology captured and analyzed a wide range of data on behalf of three leading global manufacturers, including an understanding of local market needs and how to optimize for the future; the root cause for the lack of product on shelf; visibility into share of shelf, price and promotion trends across categories; and more. Moreover, Minneapolis-based Target Corp. performed a similar pilot in 2016, and last year, Walmart filed a patent for drone technology to be used in its stores for similar purposes.

Hy-Vee and Product Traceability

Midwestern grocer Hy-Vee is conducting a trial of a new solution to help automate farm-to-fork traceability of fresh produce coming to its stores. Partnering with San Jose, Calif.-based software company Zest Labs, the retailer is using the Zest Fresh solution to make sure that it provides a vast assortment of high-quality natural, organic and locally sourced products — and also to ensure that customers understand the sources of the food they purchase. The solution is claimed to reduce grocers’ waste from spoilage by more than 50 percent. Zest Fresh uses the Internet of Things to autonomously track and report product freshness from harvest to store in real time, in its work with a premium supplier of seedless Holiday grapes. Leveraging what is said to be the industry’s first dynamic freshness metric — the ZIPR Code — the solution can give West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee traceability data and continuous real-time visibility of the remaining freshness capacity of the grapes. “We are excited to work with Zest Labs to determine how Zest Fresh can help both monitor and improve freshness while providing complete traceability through the cold supply chain,” said John Griesenbrock, Hy-Vee VP of produce and Health Markets, when the trial began. “With traceability support, we will become even more invested in bringing the freshest and highest-quality produce to our customers.”


Partnering with Nuro, creator of the world’s first fully unmanned road vehicle, Kroger is working to make the convenience of grocery delivery accessible and affordable for customers everywhere through the developer’s solutions.

The Kroger Co. is piloting a delivery program that uses unmanned road vehicles to fulfill online grocery orders. Partnering with Nuro, the Mountain View, Calif.-based developer of the world’s first fully unmanned road vehicle, the Cincinnati-based grocer is working to make the convenience of grocery delivery accessible and affordable for customers everywhere. Through the innovative partnership, customers can place same-day delivery orders via Kroger’s ClickList grocery ecommerce system and Nuro’s mobile app, which will be fulfilled by Nuro’s fleet of on-road autonomous vehicles. “We are incredibly excited about the potential of our innovative partnership with Nuro to bring the future of grocery delivery to customers today,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer, at the time that the partnership was revealed. “As part of Restock Kroger, we have already started to redefine the grocery customer experience and expand the coverage area for our anything, anytime and anywhere offering. Partnering with Nuro, a leading technology company, will create customer value by providing Americans access to fast and convenient delivery at a fair price.” The grocery ecommerce pilot marks the first application and deployment of Nuro’s hardware and software. Its market, Scottsdale, Ariz., will begin receiving service in the fall. “Unmanned delivery will be a game-changer for local commerce, and together with Kroger, we’re thrilled to test this new delivery experience to bring grocery customers new levels of convenience and value,” said Dave Ferguson, co-founder of Nuro, when the pilot was announced. “Our safe, reliable and affordable service, combined with Kroger’s ubiquitous brand, is a powerful first step in our mission to accelerate the benefits of robotics for everyday life.”

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Sahale Snacks


Sato of America


WESTERN REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Rick Neigher (SOUTHWEST) 818-597-9029 NORTHEAST, MARKETING MANAGER Mike Shaw (MID ATLANTIC) 201-855-7631 • Cell 201-281-9100 ADVERTISING MANAGER Jackie Batson 224-632-8183

Dean Foods Co.


Dietz & Watson Inc.


Domino Foods


E.A. Sween


Enjoy Life Natural Brands, LLC Inside Front Cover FoodStory Brands


Sauder’s Eggs

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 800-422-2681 Fax: 978-671-0460

General Mills Inc.



Giorgio Foods, Inc.



PROGRESSIVE GROCER (ISSN 0033-0787, USPS 920-600) is published monthly by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Single copy price $10, except selected special issues. Subscription: $135 a year; Canada $164 (Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40031729. Foreign $270 (call for air mail rates). Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, IL 60631 and additional mailing offices. Printed in USA. POSTMASTER: Send all address changes to Progressive Grocer, P.O. Box 1842 Lowell, MA 01853. Copyright ©2018 EnsembleIQ All rights reserved, including the rights to reproduce in whole or in part. All letters to the editors of this magazine will be treated as having been submitted for publication. The magazine reserves the right to edit and abridge them. The publication is available in microform from University Microfilms International, 300 North Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.

Golden West Food Group


Stemilt Growers, Inc.


Goya Foods, Inc.


Heineken USA Inc.


Sweet Earth Natural Foods


Inline Plastics Corp


Iovate Health Sciences Int’l Inc. IRI Italian Trade Commission

107 3

Cover Tip 91

Thermal Technologies Inc Tracy Locke



Trion Industries Inc. Unilever North America


Insert 51 9 79

Item Master Inc.


United Fresh Produce Association


Java House


Viking Cold Solutions





By Randy Hofbauer

Meal Kits: When the Digital Needs the Physical CHEF’D’S DOWNFALL IN JULY ONLY PROVES THAT GROCERS WILL INE VITABLY OWN THE ME AL-KIT SEGMENT. ne of the hottest topics in grocery technology over the past year has been the rise and fall of meal-kit brands. From Home Chef and Plated’s acquisitions by increasingly omnichannel grocers to the fall of Blue Apron and the rise of HelloFresh — and Blue Apron’s attempts to correct its course through physical partnerships — there’s rarely been a week without something interesting happening to at least one of these ecommerce kitchen-helpers. Then Chef’d, the gourmet-style brand that also pioneered brick-and-mortar partnerships, suddenly shut down. Experts’ suspicions were only further confirmed: The future of meal kits belongs to the grocers. (Chef’d’s assets have since been acquired by True Food Innovations.) While the El Segundo, Calif.-based service sold its kits in some stores — and several other brands have since followed suit — it still based much of its operations off a subscription-based online-ordering model, meaning that, just like other pure-play providers, it was somewhat lacking in two key assets that grocers with physical operations possess: proximity and connection. These two assets — being closer to the consumer and having an established relationship — help reduce the distribution and marketing expenses that pure-play meal-kit providers struggle to overcome, according to David Bishop, partner with Barrington, Ill.-based retail consultancy Brick Meets Click. “Chef’d deserves some credit for moving quicker than rivals in partnering with grocers and integrating new products online and in-store,” Bishop says. “Unfortunately, the move wasn’t enough to offset the extraordinarily high cost related to the direct-to-consumer sales model.” Pure-play meal-kit services have always been a challenging and expensive proposition relative to other online grocery-shopping options, from both the consumer’s and the operator’s perspectives, Bishop notes. As consumer interest has grown, so has the level of competition — and with it, expectation and perceptions related to the various value propositions. “Saving time and money and offering more control and choice are all appeals of shopping online for groceries, and this applies to the meals segment, too,” he says. “What started out as pre-assembled kits of ingredients that take 20 to 30 minutes [to prepare] now compete against pre-packaged meals that are ready 114

in less than five minutes. Instead of receiving meals once a week, you can now get them delivered the same day from your local grocery provider. And why buy more than you need when you can shop a la carte, and even make substitutes here and there?” In the end, grocers have to understand how to respond if their partner meets a similar fate or begins developing an alternative plan that transitions to a more stable source. As for meal-kit providers, they must continue to remember that consumers shop online very differently for fresh food compared with packaged food. They also shouldn’t count on consumer loyalty — as expectations and competition continue to increase, these companies must focus on improving consumer outcomes. “Chef’d isn’t alone, as others continue to wrestle with similar challenges as grocers refine their own meals offering,” Bishop stresses. “While these realities hurt Chef’d, they also should help grocers in developing more sustainable strategies in this area.”


We’re making shoppers’ fall routines easy.

FOOD This Back-to-Routine season, families need convenient, affordable, and healthy meal solutions as they get back into their dinner routine. Our brands offer a breadth of real food that fits your shoppers’ needs.

INSIGHTS Knowing that 67% of shoppers say, “eating dinner together as a family is a priority for me,” we can partner with you to make sure your store is their first choice when it comes to stocking up on groceries.

SOLUTIONS We go further than just providing healthy & affordable options. We are investing in advertising, innovation, and in-store promotional support to make your shoppers’ trips easier.

GROWTH We have top brands that families love across multiple categories. By partnering to leverage the power of the Campbell portfolio, we can drive your sales as families get back into their fall routine.

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