Plant W∑ nderful products in your stores, and see proﬁts grow.
We’re your one-stop shop for W∑ nderful products. • W∑nderful has invested $1 billion in brand building over the past 10 years • 200+ dedicated in-store merchandisers, and cart-stopping displays • Half of the U.S. has purchased a W∑nderful product
Visit us at booth #4137 © 2019 The Wonderful Company. All Rights Reserved. WONDERFUL, POM, POM WONDERFUL, POM POMS, ANTIOXIDANT SUPERPOWER, FIJI, HALOS, PURE GOODNESS, JUSTIN, the triangle logo, JNSQ, Landmark, Overlook, the accompanying logos and trademarks are owned by The Wonderful Company or its afﬁliates. WM190711-07
Special Section: Wine-pairing opportunities for grocers to drive store visits
FIRST THINGS FIRST How to capitalize on the changing breakfast occasion FRESH AND FAMILIAR Branded produce snacks pique consumer interest ROBOT REVOLUTION Make room for new tech to maximize ecommerce efficiencies
Convenience Meal Solutions
Clean Label Wellness
Innovation accelerates among new product contest winners
New and Bold Flavor Profiles September 2019
Volume 98, Number 9 www.progressivegrocer.com
WHATS NOT TO LOVE? Your customers will love everything about Paneraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new 16 oz Mac & Cheese with Creamy Cheddar-Veggie Sauce. A take on an enduring favorite, this Mac & Cheese is simmered with a three veggie blend of carrots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Mac & cheese lovers can enjoy the cheesiness they crave while getting less sodium and half the calories of regular Mac & Cheese For more info, contact your Blount sales representative at 800.274.2526 or visit www.blountfinefoods.com/panera-retail for all Panera has to offer.
LOWER SODIUM LOWER FAT 1/2 THE CALORIES (Per Container- Compared to our Regular Mac & Cheese)
TERNUT S BUT QU
CARROTS • S W
TATOES • T PO EE
E G GIE B L E N
TRY OUR OTHER FLAVORS!
Mac & Cheese
Asiago Mac & Cheese with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
© 2019 Panera Bread. All Rights Reserved. Blount Fine Foods, Inc. Exclusive Manufacturer & Partner of Panera Retail Soup, Mac & Cheese, Chili, and Stew. See what clean means to Panera, by visiting PaneraAtHome.com
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Volume 98 Issue 9
PROGRESSIVE GROCER ’S EDITORS' PICKS
Something for Everyone
As one of the most influential categories in grocery, wine is helping to drive store visits and increase basket size through the purchase of aligning products.
Clean labels, plant-based ingredients and bold flavors dominate among the winners of our annual new products contest.
Departments 8 EDITOR’S NOTE
Who’s It All About?
10 IN-STORE EVENTS CALENDAR
November 2019 12 MENU TRENDS
Get Creative at Breakfast With Customization 14 NIELSEN’S SHELF STOPPERS
16 MINTEL GLOBAL NEW PRODUCTS
Pest Control 18 ALL’S WELLNESS
Promoting Produce 122 TECH TALK
“Look, a Robot!”
PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
Volume 98 Issue 9
8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone: 773-992-4450 Fax: 773-992-4455
PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672 email@example.com
Dawn of a New Day
Grocers provide increasingly diverse breakfast solutions that fit with shoppers’ changing tastes and habits.
EDITORIAL EDITORIAL DIRECTOR James Dudlicek 224-632-8238 firstname.lastname@example.org MANAGING EDITOR Bridget Goldschmidt 201-855-7603 email@example.com SENIOR EDITOR Gina Acosta 813-417-4149 firstname.lastname@example.org
96 TOTAL MEAL SOLUTIONS
SENIOR DIGITAL & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Abby Kleckler 773-992-4405 email@example.com
Ask a Chef
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS D. Gail Fleenor, Kathy Hayden, Bob Ingram, Lynn Petrak and Barbara Sax
Robert Danhi, of the American Egg Board, discusses the food’s popularity in globally inspired dishes for breakfast and beyond.
SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Maggie Kaeppel (NEW ENGLAND, SOUTHEAST) 708-565-5350 firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Judy Hayes (CA, PACIFIC NORTHWEST) 925-785-9665 email@example.com
98 FRESH FOOD
SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER Theresa Kossack (MIDWEST) 214-226-6468 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brands on the Run
REGIONAL SALES MANAGER Tammy Rokowski (SOUTHWEST) 248-514-9500 email@example.com
Portable produce at retail sports a range of familiar names to draw consumers to healthier onthe-go snacks.
ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING Terry Kanganis 201-855-7615 • Fax: 201-855-7373 firstname.lastname@example.org CLASSIFIED PRODUCTION MANAGER Mary Beth Medley 856-809-0050 email@example.com
98 106 TECHNOLOGY
Macro Effects of Micro Fulfillment
ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS
EVENTS VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS Michael Cronin firstname.lastname@example.org MARKETING MARKETING MANAGER Carly Kilgore 201-855-7601 email@example.com AUDIENCE LIST RENTAL MeritDirect Elizabeth Jackson 847-492-1350, ext. 318 firstname.lastname@example.org SUBSCRIBER SERVICES/SINGLE-COPY PURCHASES 847-564-1468 or email at PG@Omeda.com PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART VICE PRESIDENT OF PRODUCTION Derek Estey email@example.com
Making room for robotics in an existing store footprint could help maximize the efficiency of both click-and-collect and home delivery services.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR Colette Magliaro firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING/PRODUCTION MANAGER Jackie Batson 224-632-8183 email@example.com ART DIRECTOR Bill Antkowiak firstname.lastname@example.org REPRINTS, PERMISSIONS AND LICENSING Wright’s Media email@example.com 877-652-5295
112 EQUIPMENT & DESIGN:
On the Level
Supermarket shelving solutions can significantly influence store profitability.
CORPORATE OFFICERS EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN Alan Glass CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Jennifer Litterick
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Dan McCarthy CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Joel Hughes
Standouts in the category include surface cleaners, natural products.
CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER Tanner Van Dusen
CHIEF HUMAN RESOURCES OFFICER Ann Jadown EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, EVENTS & CONFERENCES Ed Several
EDITOR’S NOTE By Jim Dudlicek
Who’s It All About? t’s easy to get caught up in one’s personal preferences and forget the bigger picture. Take Progressive Grocer’s Editors’ Picks contest. Every year, it dominates our summer. And it’s overwhelming, the number and variety of products that show up at our door, in ever-increasing numbers throughout the entry period. We enthusiastically throw ourselves into this veritable smorgasbord, and since we’re pretty much all foodies, we quite literally eat it up. But admittedly, we’re not all universally enamored with every new food trend. So we’re careful to remember that it’s not all about us — we’re merely a handful of consumers to whom these products are trying to appeal. So that’s why we may not all personally embrace every product that wins our contest, but we recognize their value as trendsetters, category drivers and basket builders. Ultimately, the concern has to be for the consumer. Such is the case for the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the CPG trade group now in its second rebuilding year. GMA is trying to regroup and redefine its mission and message after some major defections from its ranks over the past couple of years. Leading the charge is Geoff Freeman, now a year into his job as president and CEO of the 111-year-old trade group, of which he took the helm last year, just days before its annual leadership forum, an event I again attended last month, at the historic Broadmoor resort, in A sharper focus Colorado Springs, Colo. Freeman promised a on consumers’ year ago that the 2019 values is a good bet event would be different, and he was right. This for boosting your year’s agenda was tight relevance, growth and on target. Gone were the scattered concurrent and standing in sessions, golf tourna- the marketplace. ments and retro rock band at dinner. Presenters hit hard on issues like packaging sustainability, consumer trust, technology, branding, the state of the global economy, and the view from Wall Street. And Freeman said that he won’t shy away from presenting contrary viewpoints, the tough love his members need. As he recalled a member telling him, no one needs to hear another 60-year-old CEO of a company with flat growth explaining how to sell to Millennials. Freeman’s promising an even better event next year, along with a rebranded organization, complete with a new name, to be unveiled in 8 progressivegrocer.com
the coming months. That’s not surprising, since the GMA name and logo were noticeably absent from the general session stage and presentation materials. The dominant message: by manufacturers, for manufacturers. So don’t be surprised if “CPG” and “consumers” are prominent in the new identity, as Freeman made it clear that the group will be paying a lot more attention to them. “Consumers are expecting more and more of us,” Freeman said. “In a day and age when so little is getting done in Washington, they’re turning more and more to American business for solutions. That’s a great challenge for us as an industry. And it’s one that we absolutely have to respond to.” He continued, “We’re not the shield for the industry to hide behind. We should be the best depiction of what this industry is all about.” To that end, Freeman revealed the four pillars that will guide the organization moving forward: Enhancing sustainability, especially in packaging, the common thread through all CPG companies; championing “smart” regulation that’s uniform and science-based, and doesn’t hinder innovation; creating frictionless supply chains; and, perhaps most important, building trust in CPGs, because, as Freeman asked, “How do we demonstrate to consumers that we share their values when it comes to labor issues, when it comes to sustainability, when it comes to affordability?” It’s a strong message and a strategic move for an organization that represents a significant chunk of the U.S. economy. Whether it’s enough to lure back ex-members like Campbell’s, Nestlé, Tyson and Unilever remains to be seen. CPG companies already focus product development on what consumers want (as demonstrated by our Editors’ Picks winners, starting on page 20), so why not on the other aspects of how they conduct business? As retailers have discovered, a sharper focus on consumers’ values is a good bet for boosting your relevance, growth and standing in the marketplace. Jim Dudlicek Editorial Director jdudlicek@ensembleIQ.com Twitter @jimdudlicek
Banana Pudding Lovers Month Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month National Diabetes Awareness Month National Fun With Fondue Month
National Peanut Butter Lovers Month National Pepper Month National Raisin Bread Month Spinach and Squash Month
S M T W T F S
All Saints Day
National Deviled Egg Day
National Calzone Day National Vinegar Day National Deep-Fried Clams Day
For National Sandwich Day, hold a competition among deli associates for who can make one the fastest.
For National Vanilla Cupcake Day, feature them in the in-store bakery.
On National Candy Day, run an online poll to find out which confections are your shoppers’ favorites.
Since National National Doughnut Day Nachos Day and National Love Your Red Hair Day coincide, why not offer a discount on the deep-fried treat for all carrot tops, natural or not?
For National French Dip Day, have shoppers weigh in with their preferred recipes.
National Indian Pudding Day
For National Men Make Dinner Day, remind avid grillers that no barbecue is allowed.
Your retail dietitian can lead a store tour spotlighting appropriate items for World Diabetes Day. National Pickle Day
National Sundae Day
National Baklava Day Provide step-by-step instructions and all necessary ingredients for nervous first-time bakers on Homemade Bread Day.
National Sardines Day
National Vichyssoise Day
National Bittersweet National Chocolate With Cappuccino Day Almonds Day
National Scrapple Day
Offer out-of-theordinary recipes on Cook Something Bold Day.
America Recycles Day Share tips in observance of National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day.
Promote your friedchicken program for National Fast Food Day. Why should shoppers go to KFC?
National Spicy Guacamole Day
National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day. Despite declines in recent years, this drink category isn’t dead yet.
National Peanut Butter Fudge Day
For this year’s Great American Smokeout, offer those trying to kick the habit a spicysweet incentive to mark National Gingerbread Cookie Day.
National Nut Day On National Cranberry Relish Day, ask customers for their favorite ways to prepare this traditional side ahead of Turkey Day.
National Cashew Day National Espresso Day
National Chocolate Cupcake Day
National Parfait Day. Poll shoppers to find out what they like in theirs.
National Cake Day. Position your in-store bakery’s offerings as the perfect holiday desserts.
National Bavarian Cream Pie Day For National Craft Jerky Day, have a wide array of these popular snacks on display.
Encourage shoppers to indulge in the timehonored breakfast on French Toast Day, before they tuck into their Thanksgiving feasts.
Black Friday. National When the doors close, Mousse Day congratulate your associates for having made it through the event.
WHAT’S HOT Consumer preferences are varied and ever-changing. The J.M. Smucker Company oﬀers a diverse portfolio of trusted and emerging brands, with products and forms designed to meet today’s demand. Contact your J.M. Smucker Company rep to stock the right mix for your shoppers — and keep your proﬁts ﬂowing.
Keurig, K-Cup, and the K logo are trademarks of Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., used with permission. © 2019. DD IP Holder LLC (as to Dunkin’, Dunkin’ Donuts and all other trademarks, logos and trade dress of DD IP Holder LLC) used under license. ©/TM/® The J.M. Smucker Company
Research & Analysis
Get Creative at Breakfast With Customization Breakfast has moved beyond grabbing a slice of toast as you run out the door. With international influences beginning to make their mark and classics getting a modern refresh, breakfast is an area that can be the starting point for safe experimentation. The key to nailing it is letting customers embrace customization. From creative toppers to unique grains appearing in familiar formats, breakfast is an opportunity to inject new life into the perimeter in the morning hours. Congee MAC stage: Inception — Ethnic markets, ethnic independents, and fine dining. Trends start here and exemplify originality in flavor, preparation and presentation. Congee is a Chinese dish commonly found throughout Asia and beginning to appear on U.S. menus. It’s a classic comfort and breakfast dish made by boiling rice until it breaks down into a pudding consistency — think of it as a kind of rice pudding. Congee can be either sweet or savory, and customization is only limited by what can fit in the bowl. On 0.6% of U.S. restaurant menus Up 20.6% on menus over the past four years 22% of consumers know it/ 4% have tried it Menu Example Mott St. Congee Thai-style rice porridge, Issan sausage, fish sauce, ginger, cilantro, lime
Porridge 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. Today’s porridge is more than plain oats. This quintessential breakfast bowl is getting an update on menus with the inclusion of ancient grains and trendy toppings. Safe experimentation is easy with porridge — pair interesting grains with classic toppings, or take traditional oats and try out novel toppings that embrace texture and flavor. On 0.9% of U.S. restaurant menus Up 4.5% on menus over the past four years 65% of consumers know it/ 24% have tried it Menu Example Blue Duck Tavern Harvest Grain Porridge Steel-cut oats, rolled oats, farro, cinnamon, banana
Yogurt Parfait MAC stage: Proliferation — Proliferation-stage trends are adjusted for mainstream appeal. Often combined with popular applications (on a burger, pasta, etc.). Yogurt parfaits are a hallmark of breakfast. Creamy yogurt is layered with crunchy granola and fruit to bring a bit of sweetness to breakfast (and sometimes an afternoon snack). Generate interest through texture with creatively flavored granolas and nuts, or explore fruits that go beyond the expected. Let customers take control of the experience and customize their parfaits to build their best bowls.
Toasts MAC stage: Ubiquity — Ubiquity-stage trends have reached maturity, and can be found across all sectors of the food industry. Though often diluted by this point, their inception-stage roots are still recognizable. This beloved breakfast staple offers the greatest amount of customization for consumers to top their toasts in any way they please. From the variety of bread to the spreads, nuts, seeds and fruit placed on it, toasts are the perfect carrier. For trendier takes, play with earlier-stage items like avocado and ricotta, and pair with ubiquitous fruits and spreads. On 30% of U.S. menus
On 3% of U.S. restaurant menus Up 15.8% over the past four years 82% of consumers know it/ 57% have tried it Menu Example Au Bon Pain Yogurt Parfait Greek nonfat vanilla yogurt and strawberries with house-made honey granola
Up 12% over the past four years 95% of consumers know it/ 90% have tried it Menu Example Le Pain Quotidien Strawberry Toast Cashew butter, sliced strawberries, poppyseeds, agave, mint and lemon on organic superseed bread
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
Frozen Vegetables TOTAL FROZEN VEGETABLE SALES REACHED $2.97 BILLION IN THE PAST YEAR
(52 weeks ending April 2, 2016) General Merchandise
Total Department Performance General Merchandise
Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 06/15/19
Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 06/16/18
Latest 52 Wks W/E 06/17/17
Top General Merchandise Categories by Dollar Sales Home and School Office Supplies Storage and Space Management
Kitchen Accessories Batteries and Accessories Food and Beverage Containers
How much is the Consumers chose average American frozen broccoli over alternatives for household a variety of reasons: spending per trip on various general merchandise 12% because it’s categories? quick and easy
because it tastes great
Storage and Space Management Products
Spotlight on Frozen Broccoli 1,000,000,000
WHEN ARE CONSUMERS EATING FROZEN BROCCOLI? Broccoli as an ingredient is most commonly consumed at dinner, followed by lunch.
Frozen broccoli is most often used in a side dish, followed by as a main entrée.
0 Latest 52 Wks 2 YA W/E 06/15/19
Latest 52 Wks YA W/E 06/16/18
3% Latest 52 Wks W/E 06/17/17
35% Source: : Nielsen Retail Measurement Services, inclusive of Nielsen’s Total Food View
because it’s low in calories, fat and sugar
Total U.S. xAOC (all outlets combined) – includes grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, select dollar stores, select warehouse clubs and military commissaries OCCASION (DeCA) MEAL ITEM 29% 15, 2019 Period: Latest 52 weeks, week ending June five categories TYPE— top 62%
because it’s healthy and nutritious
Batteries and Accessories
We are seeing a consistent in general merchandise SIDE products the store,OTHER DINNER decline LUNCH OTHER DISH across MAIN ENTRÉE and this is an issue that has persisted over the last few years. Just this past year alone, the overall department has seen a contraction of nearly 3 percent in dollar sales. But despite some challenges, there are pockets of opportunity within some of the top categories in this space. Party supplies (up 12 percent in annual sales), trash and recycling products (up 6 percent), and hair removal products (such as shaving cream and razors, up 4 percent) are among such growth drivers. Where general merchandise categories can appeal to personalized needs of consumers, they have been able to succeed in trying times.”
$8.05 Kitchen Accessories
—Lauren Fernandes, Manager-Strategy and Analytics, Nielsen
Which cohort is spending the most on average per trip on meat?
Home, School and Office Supplies Millennials
The Greatest Generation
Source: Nielsen Homescan Data Total U.S., 52 weeks ending June 29, 2019
Source: Nielsen Homescan, Total U.S., 52 weeks ending June 29, 2019
Our full line of GOYA® Refried Beans gives your shoppers a true Mexican taste experience right from their pantry. Your shoppers are looking for authentic ﬂavors, and these versatile products let them easily add homemade taste to any Mexican meal. Stock your Hispanic and Tex-Mex sections with Refried Beans from the premier source for authentic Latino cuisine - GOYA®!
Visit goyatrade.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
©2019 Goya Foods, Inc.
Give Your Shoppers The Authentic Taste They Crave
MINTEL CATEGORY INSIGHTS
Global New Products Database
What Does It Mean?
Global retail sales of pest control products grew 5 percent in 2017 to reach $10 billion, thanks to moderate to high growth in all regions. The United States remains the largest single pest control product market. In the United States, 42 percent of pest control product users are influenced by the clear labeling of ingredients when selecting such products.
There’s a growing need for pest control products that are specifically designed to be used on and around children. Forty percent of American pest control product users increased their usage in 2018, rising to 53 percent of parents with children under 18.
The most important claim made on new pest control product launches continues to be “environmentally friendly product,” with one-third of launches in the United States touting eco-friendly credentials in 2018. This represents a 15 percent increase from 2017. Aromatherapy is an unmet insect repellent opportunity. Essential oils with aromatherapeutic benefits offer a natural alternative to synthetic insect repellents; however, just 1 percent of pest control and personal insect repellents currently carry an aromatherapy claim. Fifty percent of Americans express interest in mobile apps that would help them get rid of pests, indicating a strong desire for automation in this category.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.MINTEL.COM OR CALL 800-932-0400
Pest control products that enable a cleaner, safer environment, and are promoted as such, will create new marketing opportunities. A clean-label approach has huge potential for pest control marketers as consumers increasingly want to purge their homes of unwanted chemicals.
ALL’S WELLNESS By Diane Quagliani
Promoting Produce RE TAIL DIE TITIANS HELP SHOPPERS BRIDGE THE NUTRITION GAP. onsumer knowledge about nutrition varies widely, but just about everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are nutritious, healthful food choices. Knowledge doesn’t necessarily translate into action, however. The vast majority of Americans fall far short of consuming recommended amounts for their age and gender: Nearly nine out of 10 (87 percent) don’t eat enough vegetables, and three-quarters (75 percent) don’t eat enough fruit, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, an array of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A and C, folate, and potassium. They also offer potential health benefits such as reduced risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. The minimum amounts recommended to begin reaping these benefits aren’t all that big — about 2½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily for someone eating 2,000 calories a day. And those amounts include not just fresh produce, but also frozen, canned and dried versions, as well as 100 percent juices. So why do so many Americans fail to consume even the minimum amounts? Retailers, in partnership with retail dietitians, can address several common obstacles to boost fruit and vegetable intake — and the bottom line.
Cost and Time
When consumers are asked why they don’t eat more fruits and vegetables, they frequently cite perceived high cost and lack of time to prepare them. To target cost-conscious shoppers, offer promotions, recipe ideas and nutrition information for less-expensive seasonal produce, “ugly” produce and options that tend to cost less throughout the year (for instance, potatoes, cabbage and carrots). Budget shoppers likely will skip more expensive value-added items but still feel the pinch when it comes to preparation time. They might appreciate tips and recipes for simple produce-based meals and snacks to batch prep at home and enjoy throughout the week, as well as new ideas for using economical, quick-to-prepare frozen, canned and dried fruits and vegetables. Your retail dietitians can provide messaging that assures shoppers about the nutritional value of these
Retailers, in partnership with retail dietitians, can address several common obstacles to boost fruit and vegetable intake — and the bottom line. items as well as less-pricey conventional produce versus organic varieties. For shoppers with bigger budgets but little time, there’s no shortage of prewashed, -sliced and -diced fresh produce. Work with retail dietitians to provide quick but unique usage tips and recipes in-store and through social and traditional media. Feature samplings of more unusual produce to encourage shoppers to branch out from their typical choices. Take advantage of interest in plant-based foods by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into prepared foods and meal kits.
Nutrition Education Can Play a Role
Some consumers fall short on fruits and vegetables because they lack specific knowledge about their own eating habits. For example, they don’t know how much they should eat, don’t realize they aren’t meeting recommendations or erroneously believe that they already meet them. In addition, groups such as picky kids or elderly people with small appetites face special challenges. Retail dietitians are experts at developing nutrition education programs and communications for targeted audiences. Call on their expertise to bridge gaps in shopper knowledge and drive more fruit and vegetable sales throughout the store.
Diane Quagliani, MBA, RDN, LDN, specializes in nutrition communications for consumer and health professional audiences. She has assisted national retailers and CPGs with nutrition strategy, web content development, trade show exhibiting, and the creation and implementation of shelf tag programs.
Something for Everyone Clean labels, plant-based ingredients and bold flavors dominate among the winners of our annual new products contest. Introduction by Jim Dudlicek Reviews by the PG Staff
he level of innovation from new product developers never ceases to amaze us. After all, you can’t spell innovate without A-T-E, and that’s exactly what we did, yet again, with hundreds of new products, from meal solutions and snacks, to sweets, beverages and condiments. In all, more than 200 individual food and nonfood products crossed our desks this year, vying to be chosen as one of Progressive Grocer’s Editors’ Picks. What did the winners do to stand out from the pack? The products we liked best leveraged the key trends motivating consumer purchases, among them clean label; free-from, low or no; protein; plant-based ingredients; and new and bold flavor profiles. They offered solutions to key consumer need states. And above all, they had to taste good. (Well, except for the nonfood products — they got a pass on taste but were held to a higher standard for utility.) This year’s contest brought our first CBD and hemp products — W+ CBD Sparkling Water and Elmhurst creamers — which we felt were unintimidating ways for folks interested in the herbals category to get their feet wet with otherwise familiar products. We were impressed by the increasing quality of vegan products, like those from Follow Your Heart and Upton’s Naturals. We were intrigued by efforts to add extra servings of vegetables to traditional products like hamburger patties (Applegate), snack chips (Real Food From the Ground Up) and frozen pizza (Spinato’s). 20
We embraced flavor combinations like turmeric sweet potato, Meyer lemon, blackberry mojito, maple fig, sugar cookie confetti, blood orange and Cuban mojo. We were quenched by functional beverages like GT’s Alive adaptogenic tea, Odwalla Smoobucha and Zyn Curcumin. We marveled at convenient meal solutions like Applegate charcuterie plates, Hormel snack packs, Little Potato side dishes, Mann’s breakfast bowls, Mountain House freeze-dried meals, and Skippy PB&J Minis. And we were amazed by how far cookies continue to go, with options available for consumers seeking less sugar, no sugar, no wheat, no dairy — even a cookie with healthy fats for keto dieters. Despite the continued rise of products made with or including plant-based ingredients, products made from or including meat made a fine showing as well this year. That’s still reflective of the current market. According to recent data from Nielsen, 98 percent of meat-alternative buyers also purchase meat, and they do so more than the average meat buyer. Flexitarians, defined by Nielsen as medium and heavy buyers of meat and meat alternatives, account for 37 percent of meat-alternative buyers, spending $643 on meat every year. The average meat buyer, meanwhile, spends $478 per year. The percentage of U.S. households buying meat alternatives increased 1.6 percent in the past year, to 21.6 percent. According to the Nielsen study, 62 percent of consumers surveyed said that they’re willing to reduce meat consumption due to environmental concerns, and 43 percent said that they would replace meat-based protein with plant-based protein. Still, meat accounted for $95 billion in sales over the past year, whereas meat alternatives are still shy of crossing the billion-dollar mark, coming in at $893 million, Nielsen reports. But all indications are that the latter figure will continue to grow. Like the results of our contest, that’s plenty to chew on.
Wellness Plant-Based Ingredients
New and Bold Flavor Profiles
PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
Angelic Bakehouse Garden Wraps
34 Degrees Sweet Crisps
$3.49-$3.99 www.34-degrees.com Offering a texture somewhere between a cracker and a cookie, 34 Degrees Sweet Crisps are available in 4-ounce bags in four varieties: Chocolate, Vanilla Crisps, Sweet Lemon and Cinnamon. The guilt-free crisps are made with only a handful of simple premium-quality ingredients, including coconut oil; provide a satisfying alternative to sugar- and fat-laden treats; and are ideal for convenient snacking or sharing on the go. The brand also donates 1 percent of all of the crisps it bakes to causes that fight hunger. At PGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s offices, all four flavors disappeared within a sinfully short amount of time.
$4.99 www.angelicbakehouse.com These vegan veggie wraps are made with seven non-GMO whole grains that are sprouted and fresh-pressed into the dough to maintain nutrients. We were impressed with the unique flavor combinations: spicy and warm Tumeric Sweet Potato, fresh and green Spring Kale Spinach, and bold and earthy Vibrant Beet. Each variety offers a minimum of 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving, making for an elevated option compared with traditional tortillas.
Alter Eco Superdark Double Chocolate Coconut Clusters
$4.79 www.alterecofoods.com Enrobed in antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and crispy coconut flakes, Alter Eco Double Chocolate Coconut Clusters contain just 4 grams of sugar per serving, making them a toothsome treat for health-conscious consumers seeking a low-sugar, plant-based chocolate option. Additionally, the USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Carbon Neutral Certified, Non-GMO Project Verified and certified gluten-free item is made with no soy ingredients and no refined sugars, so those craving a delicious yet wholesome snack should go right ahead and indulge.
Amazing Grass Green Superfood Detox Effervescent Tabs
$7.99 www.amazinggrass.com Available in Lemon Charcoal and Orange Turmeric flavors, these travel-friendly tablets are packed with farm-fresh alkalizing greens, along with detoxifying superfoods, including lemon peel, ginger, cayenne, dandelion root and turmeric. To consume, drop a tablet into 8 to 10 fluid ounces of water. As might be imagined, these came in handy after a long, hard day of tasting a wide range of products.
Applegate Naturals Charcuterie Plates and Snack Packs
$4.49 (Charcuterie Plates); $3.49 (Snack Packs) https://applegate.com Charcuterie is all the rage, and even better when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s made more convenient. Applegate is raising the bar with handy portions and cleaner labels. Claiming to be the cleanest meat-and-cheese snack on the market, this product includes Applegate humanely raised antibiotic-free pork and Non-GMO Project Verified cheese made with milk from pasture-raised cows. Two varieties team Genoa salami with medium cheddar, roasted almonds and dark chocolate chunks, or pepper jack cheese, sesame sticks and dried cranberries. The snack packs have a similar provenance, with regular or turkey pepperoni, cheddar cheese, and crackers made with natural olive oil and sea salt.
The Cle n Revolution Why Consumers Support The Right To Shower Customers who purchase premium bath and body items know, first-hand, how recuperative and empowering a good shower can be. This is the impetus behind The Right To Shower — a new social enterprise owned and operated by Unilever — that draws customers to the personal care aisle who are passionate about community-first and take pride in shopping locally. It’s also a Progressive Grocer Editors’ Pick for 2019! With rave reviews in over 50 publications to date!
Empowering Shoppers to Make a Difference On any given day, more than half a million Americans experience homelessness and don’t have regular access to a clean, safe shower.* Invested in the belief that basic cleanliness is a fundamental human right, The Right To Shower partners with nonprofits — like Californiabased Lava Mae — that are making mobile showers available to America’s homeless population. In 2019, The Right To Shower is donating 100% of its profits to build a nationwide network of organizations providing hygiene and dignity to anyone experiencing housing instability.
Serving the Ethically and Environmentally Conscious Consumer
The Right To Shower head-to-toe cleansers are sold as 7 oz. bar soaps and 16 oz. body washes.
Let your customers help bring showers and dignity to all each time they visit your store.
All items are made with naturally derived ingredients and formulated to be multipurpose, as well as mild and gentle on the skin. They’re also:
Order The Right To Shower bar soaps and body washes direct from Unilever or through any UNFI warehouse. Email email@example.com with any questions.
• Clean Label: sulfate-, paraben-, and phthalate-free • 100% vegan and vegan-action certified
To learn more about the products as well as The Right To Shower mission, visit therighttoshower.com.
• Packaged in 100% recycled and recyclable materials • Made in the USA
Stimulating Fragrances That Nurture and Cleanse The product line is available in four fragrances formulated to trigger powerful f l emotions, ti each h with ith diff different benefits tb fit ffor your customers’ t ’ skin-cleansing needs.
* US Department of Housing & Urban Development 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment
tangerine & honeysuckle
red ginger & currant
aloe & dewy moss
charcoal & cotton blossom
Applegate Organics Great American Blend Burger
Bake’n Joy Foods Freedom Gluten Free Doughnut Minis
$9.99 https://applegate.com Somewhat overshadowed by all of the hype over meatless plant-based burgers is the blend, a great way for meat eaters to incorporate more veggies into their diets. Applegate offers a new twist on the traditional burger by combining organic mushrooms with humanely raised meat. We think it’s a great idea, and a tasty one, too. Available in turkey and grass-fed beef varieties, these patties are not only juicy and flavorful, but also boast less fat and fewer calories than traditional burgers. What's more, for those like some of our testers who don’t normally care for mushrooms, they don’t taste overly ’shroomy. All told, they’re a great way to add more veggies than can fit between patty and bun.
$5.99 www.bakenjoy.com These doughnuts, free from gluten, soy, dairy, nuts and tree nuts, aren’t just good for customers with dietary restrictions. Even with hundreds of food options, some PG staffers went back for seconds. They’re available in Devil’s Food and Old-Fashion varieties, with six mini doughnuts in a sealed container. The products are designed to be sold on shelf in the bakery department instead of in the frozen specialty food aisle, although we enjoyed them cold.
Aunt Fannie’s Microcosmic Probiotic Power Liquid Hand Soap and Multi-Surface Cleaner
$8.99 (either product) https://auntfannies.com Probiotics are hot right now, and not just in food products: Aunt Fannie’s Microcosmic Liquid Hand Soap delivers the clean of conventional soap and the skin-softening properties of beauty products, with the power of probiotics. Featuring safe, plant-based surfactants, the Microcosmic Multi-Surface Cleaner works as well as its conventional counterparts, which often contain harsh antibacterial and antimicrobial ingredients, and allergenic preservatives like MIT and BIT. The nontoxic, dermatologist- and allergy-tested products contain nothing but probiotic and plant-based ingredients, including 100 percent essential oil scents, and their pH is designed to align with the pH of human skin. Our testers found them to be effective at cleaning both surfaces and hands, without being hard on either.
Babybel Mini Rolls
Bare Strawberry Banana Chips
$2.99 https://baresnacks.com Combining two favorite fruits in one satisfyingly crunchy chip, this line extension is made with real ripe bananas that are baked rather than fried and lightly dusted with crushed strawberries, with no added oil or sugar. As plant-based and clean-eating lifestyles move into the mainstream, consumers are gravitating toward simple snacks, and with just two ingredients, Bare Strawberry Banana Chips fit the bill, either straight from the resealable bag or as a topper for smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal and more. We enjoyed ours by the handful.
$3.89 www.belbrandsusa.com Convenience and excitement can be a winning combination, and that’s certainly the case with this new snack cheese, an extension of the popular Babybel line loved by all ages. Mini Rolls come in a fun spiral shape — basically, coiled string cheese — in handy peelback portions. Perfect for on-the-go snacks and lunchboxes, the cheese is mild, creamy and delicious, with 45 calories and 5 grams of protein in each of the five multipack servings, and no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. A solid win for Bel Brands!
Irresistible Profits Welcome to Baker Boy’s Line of Magic Ring® Donuts
hen North Dakota-based bakery manufacturer Baker Boy recently began considering expansion beyond its 18-state region, its leaders knew they needed a uniquely superior treat that could make inroads across the continent. Lightning struck when they discovered the secret to injecting ring donuts with scrumptious fillings. Using the signature donut recipe perfected by Baker Boy’s late founder Marvin Moos, the Magic Ring Donut line was born. In August 2018, Baker Boy became the first (and only) bakery manufacturer in North America to sell yeastraised ring donuts that are injected with filling. And now, thanks to a massive investment in new donutmaking equipment, Baker Boy is ready to fill orders for donuts from coast to coast. Grocers everywhere have the opportunity to reap the benefits.
Donut Line Expansion Launches a New Era Baker Boy has just completed the $11 million modernization of its donut manufacturing line, installing state-of-the-art equipment that will expand its donut-making capacity from 5,000 per hour to 22,000 per hour. The upgraded machinery brings a new level of automation to the process, perfecting the donuts’ shape and reinforcing the already high-quality taste standards. Magic Ring Donuts, in particular, are injected with an eight-point filling system engineered specifically for Baker Boy. The donuts are sold frozen, undecorated and bulk packed in 60-count cases. Grocery stores, convenience stores and restaurants then decorate these ready-to-ice delectables to suit their customers’ tastes.
Enchanted Fillings Can anyone resist a Magic Ring Donut? The company offers five Magic Ring Donut flavors: > Raspberry Jelly > Blueberry Jelly > Bavarian Crème > Dual-injected Chocolate & Bavarian Crème > Dual-injected Strawberry Cream Cheese Voted a Progressive Grocer Editors Pick for 2019, the Magic Ring Donut line is gaining plaudits and fans everywhere it is sold. And the innovations continue. This fall, Baker Boy will introduce the Magic Ring Apple-Filled Donut with Whole Grain. Aimed at the K-12 school market, it’s actually a tremendous treat for all ages and all market segments.
Beyond the RTI Products In addition to its ready-to-ice donuts, this fall Baker Boy will be marketing an array of thaw-and-serve Magic Ring Donuts as the centerpiece of a new line of fully finished donuts that create an attractive option for grocers and convenience stores of every size. These donuts will be sold in cases with five six-pack trays that can be labeled with Baker Boy’s renowned “The Donut Hole®” brand, or labeled at the site in store-specific containers. Among the latest thaw-and-serve entrants is an apple-filled fritter, injected with delicious apple filling similar to the Magic Ring Donut process, that breaks new taste barriers!
BRINGING THE BLISS TO NACS Visit Baker Boy at NACS in Atlanta this October — Booth #1011. Discover how their product line can boost revenue for your business. They’ll be happy to give you a taste of things to come. To learn more about Magic Ring Donuts, The Donut Hole Thaw-and-Serve Donuts and other Baker Boy products, visit www.bakerboy.com, call 1-800-437-2008 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beanfields Cheddar Sour Cream Bean Chips
$1.19-$3.79 www.beanfields.com Beanfields’ better-for-you, plantbased bean chips really delivered with the Cheddar Sour Cream flavor. The chips, which contain brown rice, had a good crunch that left us wanting more. With 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber in each serving, they were filling and wholesome. The chips are also vegan, certified gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified and kosher.
Beetnik Organic Grass Fed Beef and Chicken Meatballs
Bob’s Red Mill Better Bars
$1.99 www.bobsredmill.com Bob’s Red Mill has brought its whole grain foods to the snack aisle with Bob’s Better Bars, offering up to 7 grams of protein for quick breakfasts, afternoon snacks or meal replacements. They combine rolled oats, peanut butter and honey with five other ingredients depending on the bar — chocolate, jelly, coconut, banana or apple spice. Additionally, the bars are Non-GMO Project Verified and free of soy, dairy and eggs.
$8.99 www.beetnikfoods.com These frozen meatballs hit the mark on taste, quality and convenience. Certified organic and gluten-free, they’re available in 12- and 16-ounce resealable pouches. Both varieties are touted as low in sodium as well as substantial in protein; the beef meatballs boast 12 grams of protein per serving and the turkey, 16 grams, with no MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavorings, hormones, or antibiotics. Microwave prep was a snap. They’d be a handy way to add meatballs to a quick pasta dinner on a busy weeknight.
Blissfully Better Organic Thin Mints
$5.99 www.blissfullybetter.com Blissfully Better brings to market the second vegan flavor in its line of certified-organic confections, Original Mint Thins. Made from minimal ingredients, the flavorful treats feature 72 percent organic dark chocolate and mint, sweetened with coconut blossom nectar or coconut sugar. They’re also low-glycemic and have only 4 grams of total sugar per serving. Priced like gourmet treats, Original Thin Mints are handmade in the United States in copper kettles.
BrightFarms Happy Beet
$3.49 www.brightfarms.com BrightFarms has been helping drive the local produce movement, giving consumers better access to locally grown fresh vegetables, with less impact on the environment. The company also offers some inventive products to make salads a little more exciting. For example: Happy Beet, an innovative leafy green variety, is a delicious combination of sweet and juicy beet greens mixed with baby spinach. While the edible, nutritious greens from the tops of beets are typically a little bitter when fully grown, they’re delightfully sweet and juicy at baby size. And the ones from BrightFarms are non-GMO and pesticide-free.
Let’s make today’s challenges yesterday’s news Our mission is simple: an unwavering commitment to deliver you the best in products and services in the industry — no matter where, no matter what. The Tyson Fresh Meats Team has 41,000 experts operating out of six beef plants, six pork plants, three case ready plants, three value added facilities and five Service Center Hubs with a total of 24 Field Sales Representatives spread across the U.S. Wherever you are, we’re here and ready to get to work.
™/© 2018 Tyson Foods, Inc.
Brownie Brittle Chocolate Chip and Meyer Lemon Blondies
$3.99 www.browniebrittle.com You’d be hard-pressed to find any treats by Sheila G that we — or most folks — don’t like. Case in point: The brand’s new Blondies are thin, crispy, buttery and sweet. And at just 130 calories per 1-ounce serving, they’re a perfect sweet snack that’s guilt-free (at least if you don’t see the bottom of the bag after one sitting). You can’t go wrong with either the Chocolate Chip or the Meyer Lemon flavor; our testers seem to be split on which was their favorite. Even more sweet, a portion of all Sheila G’s sales go toward pediatric cancer research.
Budweiser Reserve Copper Lager $13.99 (case) www.budweiser.com/en/copperlager.html For fans of Budweiser looking for a new brand experience, or nonfans who prefer more robust brews, this beer may be just the ticket. A first-time collaboration between the iconic brewer and a historic distiller has given birth to Budweiser Reserve Collection Copper Lager, aged on Jim Beam bourbon barrel staves. With 6.2 percent ABV, this beer offers a toasted oak aroma; nutty taste with caramel, rye and vanilla notes; and a smooth finish. Since the time this beer was released, Anheuser-Busch has boasted higher incremental sales and over-indexing among African-American and Hispanic consumers.
CandyRific Marvel Avengers Fanimation
$5.99 www.candyrific.com From novelty candy purveyor CandyRific comes a truly innovative item: Brand-new technology lets Marvel Avengers fans enjoy an animated LED light show right in their hands. A press of the button reveals a variety of the popular franchise’s characters and icons moving and morphing through a sequence, providing entertainment long after the included candy has been consumed, as one tester’s enraptured young acquaintance can heartily attest.
Canyon Bakehouse Gluten-Free English Muffins
$5.49 https://canyonglutenfree.com These aren’t what you’d expect an English muffin to be – no nooks and crannies in evidence. That aside, they’re one of the best gluten-free bakery products we’ve tasted. Halved and toasted with some butter or jam (or both), they’re lightly crunchy on the outside and delightfully fluffy inside – just some highly satisfying bready goodness. Available in Original and Honey Whole Grain, they boast 4 grams of protein per serving and are made with all-natural ingredients and whole grains, as well as containing no GMOs, dairy, casein, tree nuts, peanuts or soy. Canyon Bakehouse sets a new standard for gluten-free products.
Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails
$13.99 www.capeline.com Sparkling cocktails are hot right now, so it’s no surprise that MillerCoors has joined the market, targeting its Cape Line beverages to women and men age 25 to 44. The drinks have just six ingredients — carbonated water, alcohol from real cane sugar, real cane sugar, lemon and/or lime juice concentrate, natural flavors, and fruit juice added for color. They’re also 120 calories per serving with an ABV of 4.5 percent in three flavors: Margarita, Hard Strawberry Lemonade and Blackberry Mojito.
Carrington Farms Organic Crounons
$5.99 https://carringtonfarms.com Carrington Farms Crounons have created a new category in the salad and soup topper market. They’re marketed as the “non-crouton,” but still provide the perfect crunch for such dishes. Crounons are made with organic, vegan, gluten-free puffed quinoa and seasonings in a dense, nutrient-packed form, and come in four flavors, two of which — Garden Herb and Garlic & Parmesan — were submitted for Editors' Picks and received praise from PG testers.
Certified Angus Beef Burgers from Wahlburger At Home
$9.99 www.certifiedangusbeef.com This is just one of the products under the celebrity brand that impressed us this year. Leveraging the cachet of their popular restaurant chain, the Wahlberg brothers teamed up with ARKK Food Co. on these Certified Angus Beef brand burgers to satisfy consumer demand for great-tasting beef in easy-to-serve meal solutions. Boasting a 17-day shelf life, the burgers are made from fresh beef cuts and delivered fresh to stores. The onethird-pound burgers are available in house blend, chuck brisket blend and craft blend, and the line also includes 2-ounce sliders and 1-pound ground-beef packages.
Coombs Family Farms Maple Stream
$7.99 www.coombsfamilyfarms.com Technology has made it as easy as it’s ever been to enjoy real maple syrup at home: Coombs Family Farms, a seventh-generation producer and packer of pure and organic maple syrup, created Maple Stream, the first sprayable maple syrup. Pushing a button delivers organic Grade A rich amber syrup. Less mess, portion controlled — but beware, you can’t see how much is left in the container, so go easy and stock up. Maple Stream comes in a recyclable can with no flammable propellants.
Country Archer Original Mini Beef Sticks
$24 per 28-count bag www.countryarcher.com This product impressed a lot of people around the office, especially those looking for convenient snacks for purses, lunchboxes and after school. The tasty on-the-go snacks are made with 100 percent grassfed beef, garlic and black pepper. What puts this over the top, though, is that each meat stick is individually wrapped, versus the unwrapped bites available in most comparable products. Perfect for road trips, kids’ lunches and gym bags, as well as for those into keto, Paleo or just eating more protein, the sticks are free of nitrites, MSG, gluten, antibiotics and added hormones.
The Country Butcher Pure Premiums Pure Meat Slices
$5.99 www.thecountrybutcher.com Available in two flavors, 100% Chicken and 100% Turkey, these premium single-ingredient, high-protein dog treats are made only from natural chicken breast and turkey breast meat raised, sourced and manufactured in the United States, and make a tasty, wholesome snack for man’s — or woman’s — best friend. PG’s resident canine tester was one such happy snacker.
Duke Foods Dippin’ Delights
$3.99 https://dukefoods.com Dippin’ Delights are Duke Foods’ take on the classic sweet dip — perfect for parties or just snacking. Better for you than icing or ice cream, these light, fluffy dips are perfect as an accompaniment to fresh fruit, and come in flavors that make them ideal as a stand-alone treat to bring to a group gathering. Vanilla Bean was a popular flavor for us, but the line is also available in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Turtle and many more flavors.
Diestel Family Ranch Fresh Ground Turkey
$2.99-$8.99 https://diestelturkey.com Diestel Family Ranch scores for making a pantry staple better and more on-trend. Available in certified-organic and no-antibiotics-ever varieties, the line includes 99 percent lean ground turkey breast, 94 percent lean ground turkey and quarter-pound turkey burgers made from butcher-quality whole-muscle cuts. Diestel’s “thoughtfully raised” turkey is 100 percent vegetarian fed, Non-GMO Project Verified, and free of antibiotics, artificial ingredients, preservatives and gluten. It’s also Where Food Comes From certified, appealing to consumers’ growing interest in farm-to-plate products. Additionally, items are packaged in recyclable trays covered with clear, BPA-free plastic wrap to enhance freshness and shelf life.
Elmhurst 1925 Hemp Creamers
$6.99 https://elmhurst1925.com The plant-based beverage company is tapping the growing market for hemp products with this line of creamers. Available in three flavors — Original Unsweetened, French Vanilla and Hazelnut — they’re made with just four to five ingredients, without added gums, emulsifiers, carrageenan or oils. They also contain 350 milligrams of omega-3 ALA per serving. The Original variety contains no added sugar, while the flavors contain only 1 gram of sugar per serving. Like their nut milk cousins, the creamers are certified vegan, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified, dairy-free, OU kosher, and made without artificial flavors, carrageenan, gums or other emulsifiers.
Elmhurst 1925 Unsweetened Line and Elmhurst 1925 Barista Editions
DNX Grass Fed Beef & Uncured Bacon Jalapeño Bar
$2.99 https://dnxbar.com This item purports to be the only keto-compliant bar on the market that doesn’t use supplements, whey or soy protein powders, and is free of artificial sugars and sugar alcohols. The bar features just 1 gram of carbs, 14 grams of protein and 9 grams of healthy fats from high-quality animal sources. It’s fortified with grass-fed beef collagen to deliver added health and nutritional value. We enjoyed this meaty bar’s savory and spicy taste profile. It’s also Whole30 Approved, high in omega-3s and CLAs, and completely free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, fillers, antibiotics, hormones, added nitrates and nitrites, GMOs, MSG, dairy, soy, and gluten.
$6.99 https://elmhurst1925.com For consumers avoiding dairy, Elmhurst is leading the way with its line of plant-based beverages made with a patented process requiring minimal ingredients. Newest to the table is its unsweetened range of Milked Cashews, Milked Walnuts and Milked Oats. They’re Non-GMO Project Verified, kosher, vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free, and made without added sugars, artificial flavors, gums, emulsifiers or oils. Delivering hefty quantities of whole grains and omega-3s depending on variety, these aseptically packaged beverages are appropriate for drinking or cooking. For coffee lovers, Elmhurst offers Barista Editions of its milked oats and almonds, offering thicker consistencies for beverage blending.
PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
Enjoy Life Fruit & Oat Breakfast Ovals
$5.99 https://enjoylifefoods.com Breakfast Ovals are baked with four types of purity-protocol certified gluten-free rolled oats, with more than 20 grams of whole grains per serving and 12 percent of the recommended daily value of fiber. Although the bars crumble easily, they’re notable for being flavorful — the line’s varieties are Apple Cinnamon, Chocolate Chip Banana, Maple Fig and Berry Medley — as well as Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, palm oil-free, kosher, halal, vegan and free from 14 common food allergens.
Enstrom Milk and Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee
$1.79 (1.5 Ounces); $3.49 (3 Ounces) www.enstrom.com Enstrom’s all-natural almond toffee is crafted from a blend of fresh California almonds, sweet cream butter and pure cane sugar, covered in a generous layer of rich chocolate. Enstrom’s Almond Toffee Petites are individually wrapped 0.5-ounce pieces that make the perfect bitesized treat — although some of us found it difficult to stop at just one. The toffee is covered in either decadent milk or dark chocolate.
Eva’s Kitchen Cantina Style Salsa
$3.98 www.evalongoriaskitchen.com These are some of the most delicious and fresh-tasting salsas we’ve ever had. They’re the recipes of actress, producer, philanthropist, cookbook author and Texas native Eva Longoria, who partnered on them with FoodStory Brands, a family-owned Arizona-based company. Eva’s Kitchen Cantina Style Salsa, available in mild and medium heat levels, packs a rich and smoky bite derived from chipotle, jalapeño, cayenne and Anaheim peppers; fresh vegetables; and vine-ripened tomatoes that are specially charred and roasted to bring out their most robust taste. The higher-heat variety delivers a satisfying kick.
$17.09 https://fatsnax.com With the number of people adopting keto or carb-free lifestyles or diets on the rise, FatSnax has brought out Double Chocolate Chip and Lemony Lemon cookies that have zero sugar, contain healthy fats, and are low in carbs and gluten-free. The lemon is a delectable citrusy treat, while the double chocolate is supremely rich. Each cookie has either 1 or 2 net carbs. The above price is for a 6-pack with two cookies in each pack (12 cookies).
Fody Low FODMAP Sauces and Marinades
$5.99 www.fodyfoods.com Regardless of whether you follow a low-FODMAP diet, Fody’s line of sauces and marinades offers a range of mouthwatering but gut-friendly flavors: Green Enchilada, Taco, Korean BBQ, Sesame Ginger and Teriyaki. Each SKU is certified low FODMAP by Monash University, credited with developing the specialized diet, which can relieve IBS symptoms in up to 75 percent of the 45 million Americans who live with the condition. The products are also gluten-free certified, dairy-free, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan certified, and made with carefully sourced real ingredients promoting digestive health, including avocado oil and Himalayan pink salt, while excluding high-FODMAP ingredients like onion and garlic. Best of all, consumers with IBS don’t have to sacrifice taste for health.
Leading the Way with
Strong Innovation MillerCoors is honored to earn Progressive Grocer’s 2019 “Editor’s Pick - Best New Product” award for Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails. Available in Margarita, Hard Strawberry Lemonade and Blackberry Mojito – and crafted with only six simple ingredients – consumers and retailers quickly embraced this brand and we realized we had a hit on our hands. Cape Line has consistently been a Nielsen top 10 growth brand since June. The brand has been the No. 2 new item overall in the total U.S. alcohol beverage category during the summer, and it’s the No. 1 above premium new item in 2019.
“Tapping into consumer insights to deliver smart innovation that has the ability to scale quickly is a key component of our approach to the category,” said Jeff Long, MillerCoors chief commercial solutions officer. “We firmly believe that consumer choice is driven by occasion. With its great taste, six simple ingredients, eye-catching instore tools and memorable marketing, Cape Line is a perfect fit for the social occasion. We’re confident this brand has a bright future. The beer category has undergone several changes over the past few years. While core brands remain integral to the industry’s success, we look forward to continuing to delight
A Quick Q&A with Sofia Colucci, MillerCoors Vice President, Innovation Q: How does MillerCoors approach innovation? Sofia: The MillerCoors innovation strategy is built to support our vision of delivering brands focused on modernizing and growing our portfolio. There are a wide range of macro trends impacting MillerCoors and the beer category overall – from health conscious to multi-cultural to premiumization. It’s through this lens that we focus on delivering winning innovation. Additionally, we’ve changed our approach significantly in the past two years. We’re moving much faster, often cutting our time to market in half - or in the case of MOVO (our canned wine spritzer brand), going from concept to in-market in just four months. We’ve also tripled the amount of innovation we’re working on, all while committing to more test and learns to seed new products, learn and optimize. Q: Why do you think Cape Line has resonated so much with consumers? Sofia: Cape Line is a perfect example of our innovation strategy coming to life. Identifying an insight and delivering an amazing product that fits that need. Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails are naturally gluten free, made with 6 simple ingredients and nothing artificial. And at 100-120 calories, they have half the calories
consumers and our retail customers with innovative new brands. Thank you to Progressive Grocer for recognizing Cape Line as an Editor’s Pick for Best New Product.”
and sugar of leading flavored malt beverages. Those attributes have helped Cape Line attract a diverse audience of fans, and it’s helped bring incremental shoppers into the category. Q: How will MillerCoors build on its recent innovation success in the future? Sofia: We are modernizing and premiumizing our portfolio with exciting new innovation across our core beer brands. In addition, we are tapping into adjacent spaces and expanding beyond beer with completely new offerings like MOVO Wine Spritzers and La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffee. Q: Can you share a little bit about these new products? Sofia: Sure… Saint Archer Gold is the ultimate light beer. It’s a light-bodied lager that checks in at 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving. It’s aimed at active, health-conscious 25- to 44-year-old men and women. MOVO is a modern take on vino. Made with wine, sparkling water, real fruit juice and natural flavors. It’s only 100 calories, with no sugar added and gluten free. It will be available in Blood Orange Sangria, Peach White Blend and Raspberry Rose. La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffee is a delicious blend of premium Colombian and Brazilian cold brew coffee, alcohol, cane sugar, and natural flavors. It’s the perfect drink for brunches, afternoon outings with friends, and evening pick-me-ups. It comes in two familiar flavors: Black Coffee and Vanilla. And I promise we have some additional very exciting news to share on our core brands - that will all be launching early 2020!
AVAILABLE SOON cApe LIne BeVerAGeS, MeMpHIS, tn MoVo Wines LLc, Wilmington, de La colombe coffee roasters, norton Shores, MI
Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Yogurts
$1.99 https://followyourheart.com Dairy-free yogurts continue to raise the bar for taste and texture. Though partial to milkbased products, we really liked Follow Your Heart’s latest offerings. Made with organic coconut milk, they’re smooth and creamy, with a variety of flavors that are on point but not too sweet: plain, peach, vanilla bean, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, raspberry, strawberry rhubarb, key lime and piña colada. And with more than 1 billion CFU (colony-forming units) per serving, they’re great for gut health. Further, Follow Your Heart’s dairy-free yogurts are produced at a solar-powered, zero-waste facility.
$6.69 http://foodiesvegan.com You know that the business is changing when you start seeing alternatives to alternatives. Soy-based tofu was long a go-to meatless protein choice, but what if you’re avoiding soy? Enter Pumfu, an organic soy-free alternative made with pumpkin seeds. Rolled out at this year’s Natural Products Expo West, Pumfu offers 17 grams of plant protein per 320-calorie serving. Use Pumfu in recipes just like you’d use traditional tofu. It’s a great option for those eschewing soy but still pursuing plant-based diets and clean, transparent eating.
RW Garcia Cheesy Crackers
$4.99 https://rwgarcia.com Gluten-free Cheesy Crackers are made with real cheddar cheese, stone-ground corn and cassava. They’re lower in sodium, fat and calories than traditional cheese crackers, but with all of the flavor, and they have no added sugar. The crackers are great for parents looking for a healthier alternative for kids’ snack cravings, and are made in peanut- and tree nut-free facilities.
Fresh Cravings Organic Salsa
$4.48 www.freshcravings.com Whether your palate is tender or cast-iron, there’s a salsa for you from Fresh Cravings. Mild, medium or hot, this non-GMO organic salsa delivers a fresh, crisp, vibrant, homemade taste. Its rich red color from vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh vegetables shouts authenticity. In addition to the 16-ounce container size, Fresh Cravings offers a single-serve option, complete with tortilla chips, in mild- and medium-heat varieties that are perfect for grab-and-go snacking.
RW Garcia Organic Corn Chips
$4.49 https://rwgarcia.com The family-owned and -operated snack brand has launched a line of Organic Corn Chips for everything from school lunches to tailgates and picnics. The Bar-B-Q Corn Chips have a nice barbecue flavor and good crunch, while the organic, non-GMO Yellow Corn Chips have flavor on their own, but are particularly nice paired with salsa. They also have fewer calories, and less fat and sodium, than many of their conventional counterparts.
Giusto Sapore All Natural Infused Balsamic Vinegar
Halo Top Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream
$11.99 https://www.facebook.com/GiustoSapore This premium infused balsamic vinegar of Modena P.G.I. from Just Ryt Foods combines the purest wine vinegars, with grape must straight from the city’s harvest that undergoes the “Mother” process. Each of the six flavors — Raspberry, Fig, Strawberry, Pomegranate, Apple and Mango — are quite versatile and boast a delicious infusion of fruit flavor, which can be cooked down for a nice glaze.
Giusto Sapore Italian Risotto
$6.99 https://www.facebook.com/ GiustoSapore Make cooking risotto less time-consuming with these packs from Just Ryt Foods. Some flavors, such as Truffle, had more flavors than others, but they’re being recognized for their one-pot, gluten-free solution for three people, featuring the finest-quality carnaroli rice. Just add broth — the PG testers’ recommendation — or water, olive oil, salt and pepper. The seven flavors are Asparagus, Vegetable, Truffle, Seafood, Saffron, Cherry Tomato and Porcini Mushroom.
$4.99 https://halotop.com We enjoyed the latest addition to Halo Top’s line of premium better-for-you ice creams, which delivers a healthy dose of protein at fewer than 400 calories for an entire pint. The new Peanut Butter & Jelly variety offers peanut butter ice cream with swirls of strawberry flavoring sprinkled with cannoli bites. The dairybased version of this flavor was a hit with our testers. The variety also comes in a non-dairy vegan version, which we didn’t like quite as much, although it will probably be embraced by those shunning dairy products while seeking a nostalgic treat.
GoGo SqueeZ BlastZ
$2.99 www.gogosqueez.com Even if you’re not actually a child, fun GoGo SqueeZ BlastZ pouches will make you feel like a kid again. Made from 100 percent fruit, the snack comes in three surprisingly sophisticated flavors that will titillate your taste buds, regardless of your chronological age: Raspberry Rush, Berry Madness and Tropical Burst. Plus the vivid packaging pops on shelves, creating in-store interest.
GT’s Alive Adaptogenic Tea
$3.99 https://gtslivingfoods.com Today’s conception of wellness encompasses mind as well as body. Adaptogenic products, which improve the body’s ability to adapt to stress by imparting strength, energy, stamina, endurance and mental clarity, seem perfectly aligned with this idea. Also a perfect fit: GT’s Alive sparkling teas made with a trio of adaptogenic mushrooms, select varieties of loose-leaf tea, and raw apple cider vinegar. A light and refreshing beverage, GT’s Alive offers an easy and flavorful way to help fight stress and promote balance within.
Classic favorites in Organic
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Reese’s Pieces Candy
Happy Egg Free Range Blue & Brown Heritage Breed Eggs
$7.99 https://happyegg.co Coming from two distinct Heritage breeds of hens — the Copper Maran and Speckled Legbar — these eggs have deep-amber yolks, a result of the feed and the 8 acres of pasture on which they roam, according to the company. We found these American Humane Certified eggs, especially the yolks, to be richer in color and flavor than conventional eggs. The hens’ feed is a specially formulated vegetarian, nutrient-rich, all-natural, hormone-free diet primarily of premium corn and soy, vitamins, and minerals. Although they’re a bit pricey, the eggs are a great treat with a clean pedigree.
99 Cents www.thehersheycompany.com The No. 1 and No. 2 chocolate franchises have united for a sweet collaboration: Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Reese’s Pieces candy. The bar combines two iconic favorites — a smooth Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar infused with Reese’s Pieces candy and chopped peanuts — to create the ultimate mashup. PG testers’ general consensus was that it had to be delicious, and it didn’t disappoint.
Hormel Natural Choice Snacks: New Global Flavors
Harvest Snaps Salad Toppers
$2.99 https://calbeena.com Harvest Snaps Salad Toppers Green Pea Crisps come in a 3-ounce package and offer an option other than croutons for salads. Farm-picked green peas are the No. 1 ingredient and provide a natural source of plant protein and fiber while being gluten-free. The baked product has 30 calories per serving and comes in three savory flavors: Garlic Butter, Italian Herb and Chipotle. The toppers are free from artificial flavors, colors, cholesterol and common allergens.
$1.79 www.hormel.com We love simple and tasty eating solutions, and have always been fans of Hormel’s line of meat-and-cheese snack packs. The company has taken the line a step further by leveraging consumer demand for bold, robust flavors to add two new varieties, Mediterranean and Chipotle. Mediterranean-style chicken is paired with bruschetta jack cheese alongside garlic and herb pita chips, and chipotle chicken is matched with queso quesadilla cheese and flaxseed corn chips. The 100 percent natural, minimally processed deli meats are made without artificial preservatives or ingredients.
Harvest Snaps Southern Style Barbecue Black Bean Snack Crisps
$5.69 https://calbeena.com These Black Bean Snack Crisps feature farm-picked black beans as the first ingredient, setting them apart from other veggie snacks on the market, which typically are made primarily from potatoes or corn. These baked snack crisps tout 50 percent less fat than regular potato chips and contain 130 calories per serving of 22 crisps. The new Southern Style Barbecue Flavor is available in a bigger 10-ounce bag size compared with the typical 3-ounce bags found in the produce aisle.
“I and Love and You” Baked & Saucy
$14.99 (4-pound bag); $34.99 (10-pound bag) www.iandloveandyou.com Baked & Saucy enables pet parents to introduce variety at mealtime. The holistic veterinarian-approved dog food is coated in a bone broth gravy and can be served dry as a kibble, or as a wet food by simply adding water. Baked in small batches, the grain-free kibble contains only non-GMO produce and protein, along with prebiotics and probiotics to support healthy digestion, and added nutrition from vitamins A, D and B12. The clean-ingredient product line comes in two flavors, Chicken + Sweet Potatoes and Beef + Sweet Potatoes, each made with farm-raised meats and real vegetables. Baked & Saucy is touted as suitable for all breeds, sizes and ages, but we can only go by the response of one tester’s pooch, who gave the kibble a decided “paws up.”
$7.99 www.ju.st/en-us/stories/egg For those who love scrambled eggs but want to avoid animal products, Just Egg may be exactly what you’re looking for. Created by Michelin-starred chefs, this liquid product is made from mung beans and designed to cook and taste like chicken eggs. It's dairy-free, non-GMO, cholesterol-free and free of artificial flavors; contains no saturated fat; and claims to have a lower carbon footprint than that of chicken eggs. We were impressed by the way Just Egg performs in the pan just like real eggs. The taste is very close, although we thought it worked best scrambled with veggies or other add-ins.
“I and Love and You” Top That and Feed Meow Meal Enhancers
$1.49 www.iandloveandyou.com These superfood meal enhancers give pets a delicious new mealtime experience, upgrading their dry food into something special. Feed Meow (for cats) and Top That (for dogs) each come in three varieties offering the following functions: a superfood boost, added benefits for a shiny coat, and added probiotics for digestive support. The carrageenan-free items are made with real ingredients and contain no grains or fillers such as corn, wheat, rice or soy, while packing in omega-3s and -6s. Further, convenient single-serve BPA-free recyclable pouches make it easy to give an animal companion a great meal on the go. Furry friends of PG testers were suitably impressed by the dinners resulting from the enhancers’ use.
Jurassic World Chicken Nuggets
$8 www.foodstorybrands.com These tasty chicken nuggets are made with 100 percent all-natural chicken with no antibiotics ever and whole grain breading. Boasting less sodium than other leading nuggets, these contain no fillers, preservatives, thickening agents or artificial ingredients, and are nut-, dairy-, peanutand soy-free. And it doesn’t hurt that they have a more generous chicken-to-breading ratio than other comparable products. Inspired by the popular movie franchise, the nuggets come in such shapes as tyrannosaurus rex, stegosaurus, brachiosaurus, a raptor claw and a dinosaur footprint.
Kodiak Cakes Chocolate Chip Power Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix
$4.99-$5.50 www.kodiakcakes.com Chocolate chips already in the mix? Cool! But we were even more impressed by the cooking options: You can just add water, or you can add an egg or milk, or both, depending on how much of a boost you want to give the 14 grams per serving of protein. For a mix made with 100 percent whole grains, it cooked up pancakes that were light and fluffy as well as flavorful. Cheers to Kodiak Cakes for delivering a convenient and delicious breakfast option that’s also better for you.
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Food Coatings • Seasonings • Sauces • Stuffing Crumb & Croutons • Food Safety & Functional Ingredients
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Kodiak Cakes Homestyle Power Waffles and Maple & Brown Sugar Power Flapjacks
$4.99-$5.50 www.kodiakcakes.com Even more convenient than its new pancake and waffle mix are these frozen breakfast items from Kodiak Cakes. The company says that its toaster-ready flapjacks and waffles are “crafted from a frontier-inspired recipe” that uses 100 percent whole grains and non-GMO ingredients, with each serving delivering 12 to 14 grams of protein. We enjoyed the ease of prep and the Maple & Brown Sugar flavor of the flapjacks, which some of our testers felt didn’t need any extra syrup. Quick, simple and tasty make for an on-target meal solution.
Kodiak Cakes Mint Chocolate Brownie Unleashed Cup
$1.99-$2.25 www.kodiakcakes.com Kodiak Cakes hit a trifecta with us this year, with a common thread of convenience. How much easier can a brownie be to make than to microwave it in its own cup? What’s more, these sweetly delicious brownies can be enjoyed with less guilt: They’re made with whole grain wheat and whey protein to give each cup 10 grams of protein. Also, they’re nonGMO and have no artificial preservatives. Dessert or snack, this brownie cup is a winner.
LET’S CREATE A MIND EXPANDING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. There’s a reason the foodservice industry depends on us for signature tastes. Our customized approach to seasonings, sauces, food coatings and food safety ingredients helps create a unique experience customers love. Whether it’s a build your own pizza station, deli chicken program or anything in between, Newly Weds Foods has the imaginative solutions to make it stand out. Totally.
Litehouse Apple Cider Vinaigrettes and Pourable Vinaigrettes
$3.99-$5.99 www.litehousefoods.com Count on the folks at Litehouse to deliver flavorful salad dressings that are mindful of both good health and good taste. Among its latest: a reformulated Vinaigrettes line in response to growing consumer demand for lower-sugar options. At 50 calories or under per serving, they now have reduced fat and less sugar; don’t contain artificial preservatives, colors or flavors; and are made without high-fructose corn syrup or added MSG. The varieties are Red Wine Olive Oil, Poppyseed, Sweet Onion, Parmesan Caesar, Raspberry and Balsamic. Meanwhile, the brand’s Apple Cider Vinaigrettes deliver unique flavors in the trending apple cider vinegar product category. At 15 calories or fewer per serving, the varieties are Maple Apple, oil-free Lemon Ginger Turmeric, oil-free Cranberry Orange and oil-free Spiced Fig.
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Loacker Quadratini Matcha Green Tea
$4.49-$5.49 www.loacker.com/int/en Leveraging the popular ingredient matcha — otherwise known as green tea powder — Loacker’s latest creation offers irresistible bite-sized goodness in the form of five light and crispy wafers alternating with four layers of matcha-flavored cream. The delicate confection contains no added flavorings, colorings, preservatives and hydrogenated fats — only the highest-quality ingredients. We dare you to eat just one.
Litehouse Organic Pourable Dressings and Organic Spoonable Dressings
$4.99-$5.99 www.litehousefoods.com As Millennials gravitate toward healthier foods with cleaner ingredient panels and free-from claims, Litehouse has reformulated its Organic Pourable Dressings to be dairy-free as well as Certified USDA Organic, gluten-free and non-GMO; without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives; and sweetened with honey, agave and juices. The line’s flavors are Balsamic Vinaigrette, Caesar, Ginger with Honey, Lemon Herb Vinaigrette, Ranch, and oil-free Raspberry Vinaigrette. Litehouse also developed Organic Spoonable Dressings to offer thick and creamy options that are rare in this category. The line comes in classic glass jars, in Ranch, Blue Cheese, Caesar and Coleslaw varieties.
Louisiana Hot Sauce Dips Little Potato Oven|Grill Ready Roasted Red Pepper & Onion and Microwave Ready Tomato Basil Kit $3.49-$4.99 www.littlepotatoes.com Little Potato nails it in delivering flavorful, easy-to-prepare side dishes for folks who like to cook, inside or outdoors. The new oven-/grill-ready variety includes creamer potatoes in a ready-to-use roasting tray with a seasoning pack. Prep is 30 minutes in the oven, or just toss them on the grill before you start seasoning your steak so they’re ready by the time that perfect ribeye is done. Even more convenient is the Microwave Ready Tomato Basil kit, prepared in five minutes. Each kit contains four servings of vegetables, with no artificial colors or flavors, and is gluten-free and laden with fiber, iron, magnesium and vitamin B6.
$5.49 https://dukefoods.com These dips from Duke Foods take snacking up a notch. Co-branded with popular Louisiana Hot Sauce, these premium cream cheese-based dips are poised to be the hit of your tailgate party or any occasion when you want to impress. The dips taste great either hot (after a few seconds in the microwave) or cold, scooped generously onto chips and crackers. PG’s testers loved their zing and the freshness of the ingredients. The varieties are Spicy Buffalo Chicken, Fiesta Beef Taco Dip, Zesty Chicken Enchilada, and Chorizo Sausage and Cheese.
McClure’s Pickle Snack Packs
Magic Ring Donuts
$1.19 www.bakerboy.com; www.magicringdonuts.com A doughnut with filling in every bite? Brilliant! We loved these yeast-raised doughnuts from Magic Ring, which offers them as a unique item for the service bakery. The doughnuts come bulk packed and undecorated, so in-store bakery associates can work their creative magic. Magic Ring Donuts come in five flavors: Raspberry Jelly, Blueberry Jelly, Bavarian Creme, and dual-flavored Chocolate & Bavarian Creme and Strawberry Cream Cheese, which contains both strawberry jelly and cream cheese fillings. Reportedly, they’ve already been a hit at Midwestern independent grocers, and they wowed attendees of this year’s IDDBA show, where our testers first encountered them.
$2.79 https://mcclures.com Who doesn’t like pickles? (There are actually a few people, which blows the mind of this tester.) McClure’s takes an already great snack and makes it more convenient — portable and less messy to enjoy away from home. Each pouch provides a peck of bite-size baby dill pickles with signature McClure’s flavors, including Dill, Sweet & Spicy, and Sweet. No refrigeration is necessary prior to opening, so feel free to toss these pouches into lunchboxes, purses and briefcases, and enjoy these little morsels of briny goodness far and wide.
Meat District Gourmet Patties
$7.99 www.gwfg.com Golden West Food Group never fails to create ever-classier ways to enjoy meat. Need an example? Golden West’s new butcher-crafted premium burger line features patties made from a mixture of muscle cuts like brisket, chuck, short ribs and tri tips. These burgers cooked up great on the grill, delivering succulent beef flavor after just a few minutes over the flames. The line also includes turkey, bison Wagyu, grass-fed, organic, sliders and Angus burgers, available both fresh and frozen.
Mighty Organic Beef Jerky and Chicken Bars
Mann’s Nourish Bowls Breakfast
$4.99 www.veggiesmadeeasy.com Mann Packing Co. continues to build upon its solution-focused Nourish Bowls line, which we’ve honored previously. Their latest offering taps the breakfast category, which is flush with opportunities for grocers. Mann’s Denver Scramble and Fiesta Scramble bowls feature vegetables like kale, sweet potato and cauliflower, along with ham and cheese in the Denver variety and chicken chorizo in the Fiesta SKU. Add one or two eggs, microwave for four minutes and voilà: a healthy breakfast that’s delicious and convenient. The bowls offer up to 25 grams of protein and top out at 330 calories.
$3.87 (beef); $1.99 (chicken) www.organicvalley.coop It’s no secret that we love meat snacks around here, and brands continue to impress us with new and tasty ways to deliver doses of protein. Organic Valley scores with its new protein snacks. Hit No. 1: organic beef jerky, made from grass-fed beef. Pineapple Chili was a favorite flavor, but it also comes in Chipotle Lime. Hit No. 2: organic chicken bars, made with humanely treated hens, in bold Black Pepper and zesty Sweet Chili flavors. Both varieties are portable, clean-labeled and robustly flavored.
PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
$5.99 https://eatmikeys.com At a time when plant-based products are all the rage, Mikey’s comes in with a hybrid product: a Paleo-friendly pocket meal that has real meat but is dairy-free. The flaky crust encases combos like Cheese Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza, Ham & Cheese, Sausage & Pepper, Cauliflower Curry, Egg & Cheese, and Egg, Ham & Cheese, featuring melty nondairy "cheese" made from potato and tapioca starches, and coconut oil. These convenient, microwaveable pockets passed the “quick, handy breakfast for teens” test. They’re also gluten-, grain- and soy-free; non-GMO; and certified Paleo.
Mountain House Simple Sensations
$5.99 www.mountainhouse.com Remember when freeze-dried meals were just for campers and astronauts? These tasty meals from Mountain House are truly the next generation of just-add-water convenience. The company says that it makes each meal from scratch, and then uses a gentle freeze-drying process to preserve freshness and lock in nutrients. We really enjoyed these easy-to-pack entrées that contain up to 18 grams of protein and fewer than 280 calories per serving. They’re ready in 10 minutes, either in the microwave or by adding water directly to the pouch. The varieties are Chicken Fajita Bowl, Italian Pepper Steak and Southwest Skillet.
Sour Big Chewy Nerds
$1.09 (4.25-ounce concession box); $1.99 (6-ounce medium peg bag); $2.99 (10-ounce stand-up bag) www.ferrarausa.com For those who enjoy sour with their sweet, Nerds, the brand known for its tiny, tangy, crunchy candy, has expanded its Big Chewy Nerds line with Sour Big Chewy Nerds, featuring a sour chewy center inside a sweet, crunchy candy shell. The item offers a variety of sour flavors, including Brainiac Blue Raspberry, Streaming Strawberry Lemonade, Wiki Watermelon and Blood Orange Byte. So if tart’s your thing, go for it.
Ni Armor’s Sweet BBQ Marinade and Dipping Sauce
$4.95 https://b-m.facebook. com/NiArmor Designed as an all-purpose item, Ni Armor’s Sweet BBQ Marinade and dipping sauce can also be pressed into service for baking, basting, stir-frying and sautéing, in addition to being used as a condiment. Not usually a fan of barbecue sauces, our tester nevertheless found the unexpectedly subtle-tasting product to go well with just about anything.
Nutiva Squeezable Organic Coconut Oils
$6.99 www.nutiva.com Packaged in innovative 12-ounce squeezable pouches, Nutiva Squeezable Organic Virgin Coconut Oil and Squeezable Organic Steam Refined Coconut Oil are portable, mess-free and allow for better portion control when dispensing. They’re great for sautéing, baking and replacing vegetable oil in some recipes. The virgin product has more of a coconut taste, while the steam-refined item blends well. Both coconut oils are certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, keto, naturally gluten-free and vegan.
O2 Caffeine Free Sports Recovery Drink
$3.49 https://drinko2.com O2 Sports Recovery Drink is meant as a post-workout beverage blending seven times the oxygen of tap water with electrolytes to help the body process toxins and recover faster. What really stood out for PG testers, however, were the nonbcarbonated beverage’s delicious flavors: Lemon Lime and Blackberry Currant. They’re caffeine-free — as an option after night workouts — low in sugar and Non-GMO Project Verified.
Once Again Nut Butter Squeeze Packs
$2.99 www.odwalla.com Some folks might feel intimidated by the mysteries of the fermented beverage kombucha, but we think this hybrid offering by Odwalla may open the category to a wider audience. Odwalla’s Smoobucha combines the taste and texture of fruit smoothies with the boldness of pasteurized kombucha, in three distinct flavors: Citrus & Guava, Berry & Ginger, and Apple & Greens. In addition to claiming 40 percent less sugar and fewer calories than leading smoothies, this beverage contains “good” bacteria, offers a source of fiber that helps support digestive health, and delivers 100 percent RDV of vitamin C. All three varieties contain two servings of fruits and vegetables, and are vegan and gluten-free.
Olivio Chocolate Buttery Spread
$4.99 https://olivio.com We thought this spread was neat for its potential as a snack and an ingredient. It combines real chocolate with the convenience of a buttery spread that’s gluten-free and nondairy, with only 2 grams of sugar per serving. The spread is made without partially hydrogenated oils – it’s a blend of canola, palm and olive oils – and can be used as a replacement for butter in any sweet recipe. Or spread it on toast, pastries or anything that deserves a burst of chocolate flavor. Heck, we even dunked crackers in it. Don’t judge.
$1.69 https://onceagainnutbutter.com Once Again’s Amoré hazelnut- and almond-flavor nut butters with cocoa are now available in squeeze packs, perfect for a kid’s lunchbox, portion control, an on-the-go snack option or a way to try the product. The certified-organic nut butters have a smooth texture and high-quality sweet taste, with 30 percent less sugar than leading brands and 100 calories per serving. They’re also free of cholesterol and trans fat.
Ozery Blueberry Morning Rounds
$4.99 https://ozerybakery.com We’re fans of Ozery Bakery and its talents with whole grains. Its Blueberry Morning Rounds are a delicious, plant-based, on-the-go breakfast or anytime snack. Made with 7 grams of whole grains, 5 grams of real fruit and 2 grams of fiber, the toastable fruit-and-grain buns are GMO-free and made with chunks of real dried fruit. They’re a great alternative to bagels or English muffins at any meal or daypart.
Ozery Organic Lavash Multigrain & Seeds Cracker
$4.99-$5.99 https://ozerybakery.com Multigrain & Seeds Organic Lavash Crackers from Ozery Bakery are filled with wholesome, delicious and vegan ingredients free of artificial preservatives and GMOs. The plant-based crackers are individually wrapped for freshness, easy accessibility and on-the-go convenience. They’re thin with a nice crunch, and pair well with cheeses or jams, earning them a central spot on any well-stocked charcuterie board.
Pamela’s Mac N’ Cheese
$3.79 www.pamelasproducts.com Delivering a rich, cheesy flavor in either the regular or vegan versions, Pamela’s Products makes one of the better boxed mac and cheeses we’ve tasted. The pasta meals are made with certified-organic gluten-free pastas and real cheeses (The vegan version’s sauce is made from a combination of ingredients such as pumpkin and sweet potato powders). Like previous offerings,these pasta meals contain at least 10 grams of protein per serving. Our only beef is that the serving size seems a bit smaller than suggested on the box, precluding the meal being enough for more than one person. Not that we’d want to share anyway.
ParmCrisps Brick-Oven Pizza
$2.99-$3.99 https://parmcrisps.com The newest ParmCrisps flavor aims to satisfy the late-night pizza cravings of any keto dieter. The Brick-Oven Pizza variety is a 100 percent cheese, oven-baked snack featuring a unique blend of parmesan, mozzarella, turkey pepperoni and tomato. It has no sugar, no gluten and low carbs, making it keto-friendly. Whether keto or not, PG testers kept going back for more of this superbly crunchy snack.
Pear’s Gourmet Snack Nuts
$2.99-$5.99 https://pearsgourmet.com Past offerings from Pear’s have impressed us, and so did these new flavors. The gluten-free Salted Caramel Churro Flavored Almonds are inspired by Latin American street food, the Cocoa Dusted Truffle Peanuts are decadent yet gluten-free, and we found it hard to put down the sweet and crunchy Sugar Cookie Confetti Cashews. All of Pear’s snacks are free from artificial preservatives, flavors and colors. These are all great follow-ups to a line of innovative, fun and flavorful varieties like the Everything Bagel Flavored Cashews honored here last year.
$2.49 https://theprobar.com Protein and probiotics are key trending ingredients, and this new snack bar hits them both squarely on target. Probar Live bars are made with real nuts and seeds, and zero added sugar. Minimally processed to emphasize the texture and flavor of every ingredient, each bar contains 10 grams of plant-based protein and 1 billion CFU (colony-forming units) of live probiotics. Sold in the refrigerated section and best enjoyed cold, they are made without any preservatives or emulsifiers. The Non-GMO and gluten-free varieties are Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Coconut Cashew, Almond Butter and Almond Butter Chocolate Chip.
Quest Nutrition Tortilla Style Protein Chips
$2.09 www.questnutrition.com These savory chips contain at least nine times the protein of conventional chips and about 75 percent lower net carbs, giving health-conscious consumers a crave-worthy snack that they won’t regret eating. Baked, not fried, and made with less than 1 gram of sugar and no soy, the product replaces potato with milk and whey protein isolate, thereby offering 18 grams of protein and only 4 grams of net carbs per bag, while still providing the texture and taste that snackers want. The chips come in three flavors, Nacho Cheese, Chili Lime and Ranch, all of which PG testers found good to the last crunch.
Real Food From the Ground Up Cauliflower Cheddar Crackers
$3.99 www.fromthegroundupsnacks.com These Cauliflower Cheddar Crackers aim to reinvent kids’ favorite cheesy snack crackers, but they feature cassava flour for equal parts taste and nutrition. The veggie-based, non-GMO, gluten-free-certified crackers proved to be a hit with both PG testers’ children and the testers themselves – even those without offspring. Although the vegan cheddar flavor was most popular, the product is also available in sea salt and nacho varieties.
Real Food From the Ground Up Cauliflower Sea Salt Stalks
$3.99 www.fromthegroundupsnacks.com These airy, crunchy cauliflower-based stalks, whose first ingredient is actually cassava, satisfy the need for something crunchy, but they’re also gluten-free and non-GMO. We had a tough time putting down the sea salt flavor, but they also come in a cheddar variety. One serving size is a generous 24 stalks, guaranteeing satiety at just 140 calories.
Real Food From the Ground Up Cauliflower Sea Salt Tortilla Chips
$3.99 www.fromthegroundupsnacks.com These grain-free, cauliflower-based tortilla chips from Real Food From the Ground Up feature cassava flour for the perfect dippable, scoopable, healthier snack chip. The sea salt variety got the most attention from PG testers, but they’re also available in nacho and lime flavors. The non-GMO, gluten-free-certified snack contains only 130 calories per 10 chips. Last but not least, they have a great crunch.
$2.49 (small bag); $4.09 (sharing bag) www.hersheys.com/reeses/en_us/home.html It’s fun waiting to see which legacy brand will be next with a line extension aimed at driving category excitement and incremental sales. This time, The Hershey Co. put its Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on a diet to create Reese’s Thins. They’re 40 percent thinner than regular cups, with 170 calories for a serving of three thins, versus 110 calories per regular cup. They were a hit among our testers, especially the milk chocolate variety. Actually, our dark chocolate fans were disappointed in the execution of that variety, but still, any day with peanut butter cups is a good one.
$3.99 www.rightrice.com Replacing carbs with vegetables is hot right now, practically creating a new category unto itself. One of the latest is RightRice, made with 90 percent vegetables, including lentils, chickpeas and green peas plus rice. With more than double the protein, five times the fiber and almost 40 percent fewer net carbs than a bowl of white rice, RightRice also cooks up faster than traditional white rice. We enjoyed the ease of prep as well as the taste and texture. Available in Lemon Pepper, Spanish, Garlic Herb and Thai Curry varieties, RightRice is non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan and kosher, and boasts a low glycemic index.
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Rust-Oleum Concrobium Duo Blast Mold & Mildew Deep Stain Remover
$7.97 www.rustoleum.com It takes two, as the old song goes, and Rust-Oleum has proved that with its Concrobium Duo Blast Mold & Mildew Deep Stain Remover, which features a unique dual-chamber trigger spray formulated to remove the toughest embedded stains on most surfaces, indoors and out. The product is particularly good for restoring the look of hard surfaces such as bathroom tiles and grout, lumber and drywall, and concrete and cinder block. Unlike bleachbased mold cleaners, however, Duo Blast’s powerful cleaning formula is also safe for fabrics. One of our testers made the most of the spray’s varied uses during a thorough weekend-long scouring of her home, with sparkling results.
RxBar Peanut Butter & Berries
$2.49 www.rxbar.com RxBar’s protein bars are known for their “No B.S.” labels with a few simple ingredients like egg whites, dates and nuts; each bar has 12 grams of protein and no added sugar, preservatives or artificial ingredients. The Peanut Butter & Berries item is a take on the classic sandwich that didn’t disappoint. We found the creation, blended with real bits of raspberries, both sweet and delicious as an on-the-go breakfast or snack.
Sahale Snacks Coconut Snack Mixes
$4.29 www.sahalesnacks.com Featuring the flavors and textures of crispy toasted coconut chips, dry-roasted nuts, spices and dried fruit in carefully crafted combinations, Sahale’s Coconut Snack Mixes boast thoughtfully sourced ingredients that our testers frankly couldn’t get enough of. Another plus is the highly attractive pouch packaging, showing off the contents in all of their glory. The line’s varieties are Pineapple Rum Cashew and Cherry Cocoa Almond.
SaltWorks Smoked Sea Salts
$5.49-$7.74 www.seasalt.com Designer salts are on-trend, and this range from SaltWorks offers a world of flavor possibilities for recipes or post-prep seasoning, created through a cold-smoking process. Durango Hickory Smoked Sea Salt adds a hint of umami to sweet and savory dishes; El Dorado Mesquite is a natural partner to spice-heavy barbecue rubs and sauces, due to its strong, straightforward flavor; Fumée de Sel Chardonnay Oak imparts a crisp, ripe elegance; Salish Alderwood offers an adaptable flavor profile that enhances meat, poultry or vegetables; and Yakima Applewood has a subtly sweet fragrance smoke that pairs well with lighter meats such as chicken and pork.
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Sanissimo Salmas Oven Baked Corn Crackers
Siggi’s Simple Sides
$4.29 www.sanissimo.com Sanissimo’s oven-baked corn crackers are made with a mere four ingredients, including 100 percent whole grain corn. We were impressed with the convenient individual packages that come in boxes of eight — made of 100 percent recycled materials — for great portable snacks or as a canvas for delicious dips. The crackers are Non-GMO Project Verified and gluten-free, with no artificial preservatives, colors and flavors; added sugars; or trans fat. Further, they boast a light, crunchy texture with a good amount of flavor.
$1.99 https://siggis.com In keeping with the brand’s commitment to provide lower-sugar, high-protein Icelandic yogurt with easy-to-understand ingredients, Siggi’s Simple Sides brings together the brand’s 2 percent milkfat skyr and no-added-sugar add-ins to create a nourishing, wholesome item. The all-natural product line has no artificial preservatives, sweeteners or flavors, while packing 15 grams of protein and containing just 12 grams of sugar. It’s also convenient to have all of your fixings at hand when enjoying a cup of yogurt for breakfast or as a snack.
Saucy Company Salsa
$6.49 www.saucycompany.com Sensitive eaters are benefiting from a host of new products geared to their needs, whether driven by preference, intolerance or allergies. These salsas deliver robust flavors with fire-roasted tomatoes, as well as tropical fruits and green chiles, but without onions or garlic. The varieties are Mild Fire Roasted and Spicy Chipotle. They’re full of flavor but won’t cause the tummy upset and bad breath that some folks may experience with onions and garlic.
Serenity Kids Ethically Sourced Meats
$3.99 https://myserenitykids.com Low-sugar, high-protein Serenity Kids offers the only pouched baby food to use ethical meats like 100 percent grass-fed beef and wildcaught Alaskan salmon that provide vital nutrients that breastmilk starts to lose as a child is weaned. The brand supports American farmers by using only homegrown ingredients, donating a portion of company profits to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, and its pouches are also free to recycle through a partnership with Terracycle. All that, and it’s a great hit with its target group, too, if the reactions of PG testers’ young ones are anything to go by.
Simply Protein Baked Bars and Crunchy Bites
$5.99 (baked bars); $1.99 (crunchy bites) https://simplyprotein.com Now consumers can get their protein on the go in convenient clean-ingredient formats featuring non-GMO ingredients. Simply Protein Baked Bars provide consumers’ desired nutrition, along with high fiber and low sugar, wedded to a home-style, soft-baked texture. The brand’s low-sugar, vegan Crunchy Bites, meanwhile, satisfy salty-snack cravings with their namesake texture and savory flavor. Both are simply yummy.
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Smart Flour Three Meat Pizza
Skippy PB&J Minis
$6.99-$7.49 www.peanutbutter.com Convenience continues to be king among many new-product developers, and it’s a perfect fit for this iconic brand that’s part of the Hormel Foods family. Skippy PB&J Minis bring some excitement to the frozen food department with this handy snack for kids of all ages. Toss one of these mini sandwiches into a lunch bag, briefcase or purse, and it’ll be ready when you need it – as is or toasted. With 230 calories and 7 grams of protein, it’s great as a snack, or as part of a lunch or small meal. Two varieties team classic Skippy peanut butter with either strawberry or grape jelly.
$6.99-$7.99 www.smartflourfoods.com Smart Flour has been on the cutting edge of making frozen pizza better for you while still making it taste good. Its latest score is Three Meat Pizza, the newest addition to its lineup of ancientgrain-based, certified gluten-free pizzas. Focusing on simple yet premium ingredients, this pizza pairs sweet Italian sausage with nitrate-/nitrite-free, spicy uncured pepperoni and bacon, and is then topped with a blend of mozzarella, provolone, parmesan and romano cheeses. The Non-GMO Project Verified crust is made with a blend of sorghum, amaranth and teff flours. Further, the pizza is free of preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, along with common allergens like wheat, nuts, tree nuts, soy and eggs. A recent packaging redesign lends further pizzazz.
Smartwater Sparkling Flavors
$2.29 www.drinksmartwater.com For those that want to up their consumption of water but are bored by the taste, there are Smartwater Sparkling Flavors, available in Strawberry Blood Orange, Fuji Apple Pear and Raspberry Rose varieties. Each is designed using premium ingredients to create an exotic, unexpected flavor combination that can’t be found in any other sparkling product on the market. Best of all, you get your burst of flavor without any sugar or calories, but with plenty of fizz and flavor.
Southern Recipe Cuban Mojo Cracklins
$3.99 https://southernrecipe.com The demand for protein that’s driving the meat snack revolution is bringing excitement to some mature category offerings such as pork rinds or, more specifically, cracklins. Southern Recipe describes its Cuban Mojo Cracklins as having bold flavor, and we’re hard-pressed to argue, given the citrus notes and powerful crunch. This is definitely a robust snack that aligns with consumers’ desire for big, authentic flavors. And the item fits right in with current eating trends like high protein and the keto diet.
The Spice Lab Nashville Hot Chicken Seasoning
$5.99 https://spices.com Music City’s one-time bestkept culinary secret now seems to be sweeping the country: Nashville hot chicken – basically fried chicken that’s aggressively spiced — is everywhere lately. Now the Spice Lab makes it possible for home chefs to incorporate that fiery profile into their own recipes. This spice blend starts out fierce, but is tempered with some sweetness and a mustardy tang. Our testers used it to kick up some supermarket fried chicken, to great effect. The company also suggests using it on ribs or chicken-fried steak, or even roasted cauliflower.
ONE OF THE
BEST CHEESES IN THE WORLD Spinato’s Broccoli Crust Pizza
$8.99 https://spinatos.com As cauliflower muscles in on carbs, Spinato’s has decided to try the same with its green cousin. We really enjoyed this new line of frozen plant-based broccoli-crust pizzas, each handmade with locally sourced ingredients. Each pizza is Beyond Celiac certified gluten-free and boasts higher levels of carotenoids, vitamin D and calcium than other plant-based pizza crusts. Additionally, the toppings are delicious and fresh-tasting. There are four varieties: Primavera (zucchini, red onion, mushroom and red pepper); Mediterranean Style Supreme (chicken sausage, red onion, feta cheese, green peppers and Kalamata olives); Margherita (chopped basil, slow-roasted tomatoes and whole-milk mozzarella); and Aged Asiago, Romano & Mozzarella.
HANDCRAFTED. FARMSTEAD. SUSTAINABLE. AWARD WINNING CRAVE BROTHERS MARINATED FRESH MOZZARELLA
PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
Line-priced with regular Sprite products www.sprite.com Frankly, our testers were divided on this one. Some felt it was just a lemon-heavy Sprite. But its fans, who won out, enjoyed its crisp, cool taste and boost of citrus. Coca-Cola wins further points for finding new ways to leverage its legacy brands for new audiences – in this case, one that has been enjoying steady year-overyear growth. Plus Coke’s Freestyle machines in the foodservice channel are turning out to be consumer-driven test labs, as folks have been infusing Sprite with lemonade on their own. Sprite Lymonade also taps the fast-growing sparkling-lemonade category and keeps a well-known brand on the cutting edge.
SweeTarts Mini Chewy Berries & Cherries
$1.49 (4-ounce share pack or 3.75-ounce concession bag); $2.99 (12-ounce stand-up bag) www.ferrarausa.com An extension of the Mini Chewy line, SweeTarts Mini Chewy Berries & Cherries offers the classic SweeTarts flavor fusion in a chewy, coated candy that floods the taste buds with tangy flavor. Capitalizing on the current consumer trend toward berry-flavored options, the product offers Raspberry, Blackberry, Blue Berry Punch, Dark Cherry and Mixed Berry varieties. OK, we know it doesn’t count as a fruit serving, but we can dream, can’t we?
St Pierre Cinnamon Rolled Crepes
$3.49 www.stpierrebakery.com St Pierre Cinnamon Rolled Crepes are individually wrapped and available in packs of eight for the perfect grab-and-go snack that’s in shelf-ready packaging for the deli, bakery, snack aisle or wherever grocers see fit. The crepes are made in the heart of France using traditional recipes, and are rolled around a cinnamon filling. We found their thin texture incredible, and the flavors decadent. They’re also available in a Chocolate & Hazelnut Filled Crepe flavor.
Sweet Loren’s Place & Bake Cookie Dough $4.99 https://sweetlorens.com Sweet Loren’s Place & Bake Cookie Dough is certified gluten-free, vegan, Non-GMO Project Verified, nut-free, 100 percent whole grain and kosher pareve. It’s a delicious option for anyone with dietary restrictions, but makes a tasty cookie even if you don’t traditionally gravitate toward clean, simple ingredients. Merchandised in the refrigerated-dough section, the item is available in Chocolate Chunk, Fudgy Brownie, Sugar and Oatmeal Cranberry varieties.
Tessemae’s Pantry Line
$4.99-$5.99 www.tessemaes.com Tessemae’s traditionally creates refrigerated dressings, but Pantry is a new line of shelf-stable, clean-label dressings and marinades. They have no gums, fillers or artificial flavors, and there are seven varieties: Classic Italian, Lemon Pepper, Buffalo Ranch, Classic Ranch, Cilantro Lime Ranch, Classic Balsamic and Ranch Vinaigrette. Many of Tessemae’s products are Whole30 approved and follow keto guidelines, making them a guiltless pleasure.
GET READ EADY FOR A IN YOUR M EAT DEPARTMENT. Meat District Butcher Crafted Premium Burgers drive sales AND trafﬁc.
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The O.G. – Angus Brisket, Chuck & Short Rib Beef Patties
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PREMIUM BURGERS ARE THE TH
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Trolli Sour Brite All Star Mix
$1.25-$4.99 (various-size packages) www.trolli.com Nonchocolate candies are driving a lot of growth in the confectionery category, and within that subcategory, sours are a popular flavor profile. So no wonder Trolli is having success with its Sour Brite All Star Mix, which brings additional excitement and fun to the category. Trolli, the inventor of the gummi worm, put its most original shapes in a single bag with five of the most iconic Sour Brite shapes: crawlers, sloths, octopuses, llamas and tiny hands. It might look like you’re eating something from the bait shop, but, hey, these shapes are driving a huge chunk of Trolli’s growth this year.
RELIABLE FOOD PROCESSING EQUIPMENT
Truly Grass Fed Cheese
$5.99 www.trulygrassfed.com Truly Grass Fed is a premium cheese line imported from a select co-op of small family farms in Ireland. The cheese is Animal Welfare Approved, which has the most rigorous standards for animal welfare and environmental sustainability globally. It’s also Non-GMO Project Verified, rBST-free and substantiates the 95 percent grass-fed claim. Both flavors — Natural Aged Cheddar and Natural Sharp Cheddar — were wolfed down by PG testers, who described them as creamy and delicious.
Inspiration from The Spice Lab
Model AFMG-24 Auto-Feed Mixer Grinder Size 32 Knife & Plate Hopper Capacity, 145 Lbs (66 kg) Grinding Capacity, 68 Lbs (31 kg) per minute Stainless Steel Hopper, Frame, and Paddles
• 50+ All-Natural Spice Blends and BBQ Rubs • Private Label and Custom Blending See Literature for options.
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Tuttorosso Italian Inspirations Tomatoes
$1.79 https://redgoldtomatoes.com This new line of canned tomatoes from Red Gold is right on target for making life easier for home cooks. From whole to diced to purée, straight or seasoned, the line presents a host of recipe options. One of our testers used the diced tomatoes with her instant-pot chicken and raved about the flavor without the need to add additional seasonings: “It sped up the prep time not having to measure seasoning or having to search for a recipe.” Additionally, Tuttorosso tomatoes are preserved using the brand’s Steam Sealed Flavor-Loc system.
Unilever The Right to Shower Head to Toe Cleanser and Bar Soap
$11.99 (cleanser); $6.99 (soap) Moved by the plight of the more than 550,000 Americans living on the streets without regular access to clean, safe showers, Unilever created The Right to Shower, a line of naturally derived head-to-toe gel cleansers and small-batch bar soaps. This year, the company is donating 100 percent of the items’ profits to organizations around the country that are converting trucks and buses into mobile shower services for homeless people. The products are 100 percent vegan, not tested on animals and packaged in 100 percent recycled paper carton, with scents specially crafted to evoke Joy, Hope, Strength and Dignity. Online publication Bustle wrote of the line, “Never has taking a shower felt so good.” PG couldn’t agree more.
PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
Watkins All Natural Original Gourmet Baking Vanilla Upton’s Naturals Jerky Bites
$4.99 www.uptonsnaturals.com This one turned out to be the shocker of the year, earning a thumbs-up from the most carnivorous meat-snack lovers on our panel of testers. Made with wheat protein, the 100 percent vegan jerky offers 8 to 10 grams of protein per serving; is an excellent source of vitamin B12; and comes in creative, tropical-inspired flavors. At no more than 100 calories per serving, Upton’s Jerky Bites offer a texture and chew very similar to traditional beef jerky; contain no GMOs, soy, trans fat and cholesterol; and are low in fat and carbs. Further, as far as inventive flavor options go, the line comes in Smoky Original, Tarragon Ginger Lime, Tamarind Pepperoni and Pineapple Pink Peppercorn varieties.
$5.99 www.watkins1868.com Watkins’ new All Natural Baking Vanilla Extract is the first all-natural alternative to pure vanilla on the market. It’s made with the best grade of Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, imparting a rich aroma. Unlike high-alcohol vanilla extracts, this low-alcohol, bake- and freezeproof formula retains flavor that doesn’t evaporate when baking or freezing. With extra-rich gourmet flavor, this extract enhances recipes like chocolate chip cookies, cakes and more. Among a range of flavor extracts recently released by Watkins, this one impressed us the most.
W+ CBD Sparkling Water
$5 www.welleryou.com It seems like CBD is everywhere, from foods and beverages to health and beauty products. Consumers might be curious to try it, but where do they start? A nonthreatening entry point — we hesitate to say gateway — might be this line of flavored sparkling waters. Each serving contains 25 milligrams of broad-spectrum CBD (no hallucinogenic THC). CBD’s active phyto-compounds are believed to have potentially powerful therapeutic benefits, and with the popularity of sparkling waters, this is a great product to find out if it’s for you. The sparkling water is sugar-free and has zero calories, and comes in three natural flavors: Tangerine, Watermelon and Black Cherry.
Wahlburgers Frozen Patties
$11.99 www.gwfg.com Golden West Foods scores again in bringing a taste of this growing celebrity-driven burger restaurant chain to home kitchens. This new line of frozen patties includes actor Mark Wahlberg’s favorite — all-white turkey with herbs and stuffing — definitely a unique offering among the burgers in the grocery freezer case. The other two Wahlberg brothers involved in the Wahlburgers chain have their tastes represented as well: singer-songwriter Donnie’s choice is an Angus beef brisket-chuck blend with bacon, cheddar and jalapeño, while chef Paul’s favorite is a classic brisket-chuck blend. Grilled or thrown on the griddle, these burgers cook up easily and are a great meal solution component.
Whisps Tomato Basil and Bacon BBQ Cheese Crisps
$3.99 www.whisps.com The Bacon BBQ and Tomato Basil cheese crisps — baked 100 percent real cheese in bold flavors — were both PG tester favorites. The straightfrom-the-garden spice blends provide versatility that’s great for on-the-go snacking, or in soups and salads. The cheese crisps are high in protein, a great source of calcium and contain only 1 gram of carbs per serving, which is a substantial 23 crisps at between 150 and 170 calories.
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Wisdom of the Ancients Organic Yerba Mate Hibiscus Tea
$6 https://wisdomofancients.com/ Hibiscus is a beautiful tropical flower, of course, but it also provides powerful nutrition. Wisdom of the Ancients’ proprietary blend of hibiscus, yerba maté and stevia offers more than 400 nutrients to nourish the body, and is USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and kosher. It also makes a pleasant cup of tea. As one of our intrepid testers noted: “I enjoy the sweetened taste that the stevia provides, and love how that creates a tea that is sweet without any sugar at all. It seems to boost my energy, so that must be the yerba maté, I imagine. It also helps my allergies, which must be the hibiscus.” Who could ask for anything more?
Zoup! Good, Really Good USDA Certified Organic Veggie Broth
$7.99 www.zoupbroth.com This premium broth aims to kick up the options in the category. It’s packaged in a glass jar to showcase its golden color and is a good option for vegans, vegetarians or people looking to consume more plant-based foods. Zoup! started as a restaurant concept and now has 100 brick-and-mortar locations. The broth is kettle-cooked in small batches, low in calories, Paleo-friendly with zero carbs, and free from hormones, gluten, GMOs, fat, trans fat and saturated fat.
Zyn Curcumin Holistic Wellness Beverages World Centric FSC Certified Kraft Paper Straws 100% Compostable and 9-Inch Disposable Plates
$3.49 (straws); $3.99 (plates) Care about the environment but love the convenience of disposable straws and plates? World Centric products are for you. Made from FSC Certified paper from sustainable sources, the BPA-, phthalate- and PVC-free straws provide durability unavailable with traditional paper straws, which tend to disintegrate quickly in liquids, and the eco-friendly straws will compost in two to four months in a commercial composting facility. Meanwhile, the microwave- and freezer-safe plates are made of wheat straw (the remaining plant fiber after the grain has been removed), an annually renewable resource guaranteed to break down in two to three months in industrial facilities. What’s more, World Centric offsets 100 percent of its carbon emissions by planting trees, protecting forests and supporting indigenous communities, and donates 20 percent of its profits to social and environmental causes, so consumers have additional reasons to feel good about choosing the company’s products.
Yoplait Go-Gurt Dunkers
$3.99 www.yoplait.com Remember Dunkaroos? They were cookies you dipped in icing, made by General Mills in the 1990s. Apparently, Gen Xers see these Go-Gurt Dunkers as a better-for-you update of that dear, departed snack. Of course, Yoplait had a different demographic in mind for this product, since nearly half of all kid yogurt-eating occasions are as a snack. In any case, we thought this was a neat nosh that’s convenient and fun, with a healthy profile. Made with no artificial colors, flavors or high-fructose corn syrup, Go-Gurt Dunkers come in three flavors: Strawberry Yogurt + Honey Graham Sticks, Vanilla Yogurt + Chocolatey Graham Sticks, and Cotton Candy Yogurt + Honey Graham Sticks.
$2.99-$3.49 https://drinkzyn.com Curcumin is the bioactive compound responsible for turmeric’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant healing powers. Zyn aims to harness those powers in this first-tomarket beverage made from simple, clean ingredients and featuring more than 200 milligrams of curcumin plus piperine, a black-pepper extract known to increase absorption of curcumin. With only 2 grams of sugar, 3 grams of carbs and 10 calories per serving, these beverages are refreshing and clean-tasting when served chilled. They contain no high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors or preservatives, and come in four flavors: Lemon Ginger, Mixed Berry, Mango Lychee and Pomegranate Cranberry.
Wine Pairing As one of the most influential c ategories in grocery, wine is helping to drive store visits and increase basket size through the p urchase of aligning products.
“The discovery of wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. The universe is too full of stars.” —Benjamin Franklin
A Toast to Great Couples GROCERS WHO GE T CRE ATIVE WITH WINE AND FOOD CAN LE VER AGE THE POWER OF PAIRINGS. By Lynn Petrak
he wine world may be compared to a constellation, but there’s also a veritable galaxy of food pairings out there to be explored and enjoyed. Wine makers, beverage manufacturers and grocers can get inventive — and reap the rewards of expanded sales across many parts of their business — by providing pairings, and ideas for pairings, that go well beyond traditional combinations. “Food-and-wine pairings are continuing to evolve and grow, from the popularity of the celebrity chef, food and TV, and now consumers have a plethora of ideas and solutions at their fingertips via cell phones,” says Todd Templin, certified wine specialist and VP of center store, at Dorothy Lane Market, in Dayton, Ohio. While Ben Franklin espoused the wonder of wine back in the 1700s, wine was celebrated by ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as by others, going back to the first wine made from fermented grapes several millennia ago. Today, the myriad ways to make and enjoy wine aren't lost on consumers, as the universe continues to expand with new types and packaging of wine (suddenly, cans are trendW2
ing!) and intriguing pairings of wine with a whole host of foods. The wine market is as robust as, say, a red Shiraz. In the United States alone, people drank an average of 2.95 gallons of wine per person in 2018, for a total of 966 million gallons. That’s more than in the previous year, when consumption was 2.5 gallons per person and 958 million gallons a year. To Ben Franklin’s point, there is indeed a constellation of products on the market. According to a report by market research firm Nielsen, more than 3,500 wine items have been added to store shelves, representing 14 percent of all category items. At the same time, the pace of new food product launches at grocery continues at a rapid clip. The Global New Product Database published by Mintel shows that food and beverage product introductions in retail outlets have continued on an upward trend since the late 1990s, exceeding those of nonfood grocery items for nearly a decade. The hunger and thirst for new products is accompanied by a parallel interest in combining wine and food for an enjoyable experience. According to the most recent survey of the American Wine Consumer conducted by Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute, the leading reason that Americans like to drink wine is to “[enjoy] the taste,” at 79 percent, followed by relaxation and pairings with food, tied at 59 percent. While they’re savoring and experimenting with pairings, consumers are also savvier. The American Wine Consumer Survey reveals that half of respondents describe themselves as having “intermediate” knowledge about wine, with 15 percent characterizing themselves as being advanced and 3 percent defining themselves as connoisseurs. That said, nearly a third (32 percent) admit that they know little about wine, thus opening the door to new opportunities for education and sampling. Within the wine-drinking shopper base, there are some discernible differences. According to Wine Intelligence, a global group of wine industry experts, there are six segments of the wine-buying public today: Engaged Explorers, Premium Brand Suburbans, Contented Treaters, Social Newbies, Senior Bargain Hunters and Kitchen Casuals. Some of
WILD ALASKA SEAFOOD In general, sustainable seafood from Alaska is best paired with lighter styles of wine, including whites, rosés and reds, and beers in a variety of styles. Aromatic and crisp wines and beers tend to better flatter the flavors of wild Alaska seafood, more so than the weight of oaky, malty beverages. While there are really no wrong pairings (drink what you want, eat what you want!), the matrix here offers some suggestions as to particularly well-suited wines, beers, and even a few cocktails that help seafood from Alaska show its best character.
ALASKA SALMON: pairs well with sparkling, light whites, rosé, light low-tanin reds
ALASKA WHITEFISH: pairs well with medium bodied aromatic whites
Gamay/Beaujolais, California Sauvignon Blanc Fruity acidity highlights the rustic and rich flavor of the salmon.
Pinot Grigio Both fish and wine have understated but complex flavor and do not overpower each other.
White Bordeaux, Australian Chardonnay/ Sémillion blends, Golden or Blonde Ale Apple, pear and stone-fruit flavors match the rich and wild flavor of the fish.
Rosé, especially those made with Garnacha/Grenache or Pinot Noir, Belgian style, especially those with Brettanomyces Bright tart, fruity flavors in the wine accentuate the light and easy-going personality of pink salmon.
Medium body Italian whites such as Soave, Sherry based cocktail The herbal stone-fruit aromas pair particularly well with the balanced character of the fish.
California Sauvignon Blanc, Medium body Italian whites such as Vermentino, Wheat/white beer Playful acidity matches the subtle and nuanced flavors of halibut.
Sancerre, or Aromatic Italian Whites, such as Fiano di Avellino, Falanghina or Greco di Tuffo, Gose Nutty, floral flavors in these wines and beer accentuate the sweetness of the fish.
Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Pilsner
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Kölsch
The incredible richness of the fish is complemented by a counterpoint of acidity and crispness.
The soaring aromatics of the wine or beer brings the sweet brine flavor of the fish to the fore.
SOLE/ FLOUNDER: Unoaked Chardonnay
The lean character of the fish is flattered by the tart green apple flavor in a lighter style Chardonnay.
Viogner, Rosé, especially those from Provence, Amber Ale This broad category of fish compares well to the full flavored and aromatic vigonier or contrasts with the fruity acidity of a light rose or Amber beer.
BARTON SEAVER is one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading sustainable seafood experts and educators. After an illustrious career as
ALASKA SHELLFISH: pairs well with medium bodied, aromatic, slightly acidic white wines
an award-winning chef and certified sommelier, he became an Explorer with the National Geographic Society. His expertise has garnered him positions with the United States Culinary Ambassador Corp, the
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Lambic Sweet and salty brine in the crab finds equal match in the soaring aroma and crisp texture of these heavier styles of Sauvignon Blanc and fruit-forward beers.
New World Riesling, such as those from Washington State and Oregon Czech Pilsners Floral fruity aromatics and racy acidity accentuate the mild sweetness of the crab.
SHRIMP/ SPOT PRAWN:
Pinot Grigio, Dry style Sherry, including Manzanilla and Fino, Gin & Tonic
Sparkling wines, especially Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava, Tequila and lime juice spiked Bloody Mary, Stout
Shrimp are so flavorful and sweet that they pair best with nutty or cool flavors such as the herbal personality of a gin and tonic.
Classic, fun, and different: the slightly bitter smoky flavor of stout contrasts the sweet salinity of the oyster.
New England Aquarium, and
the Harvard School of Public
Cool aromatics and rich texture give the crabâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sweet and complex flavor a stage upon which to truly shine.
Health leading initiatives to inform
WEATHERVANE SCALLOPS: Oaked Chardonnay, Wheat Beers
These two complement each other as they are buttery and rich in flavor and texture.
consumers and institutions about how food choices can promote healthier people, environment, and thriving communities.
Wine Pairing those groups also consider themselves foodies, including Premium Brand Suburbans and Engaged Explorers. On that note, many consumers want to know more about what they're eating and like being considered foodies. In its report on 2019 trends, Innova Market Insights puts “the adventurous consumer” at the top of its list, noting that consumers are exploring bolder flavors and multisensory food experiences. They enjoy the unexpected and are looking for “heightened sensory delivery,” according to Innova’s insights. This sense of adventure, along with the interest in new or different types of wine, sets the stage for more opportunities for wine-and-food pairings at grocery, whether it’s an in-house wine bar, a grocerant offering wine pairings and dinners, instore classes on the topic, or a display cross-promoting wines and other adult drinks with a variety of foods. The winemaking process may require a bit of patience, but the time may be ripe — pun intended — to capitalize on consumer demands and preferences.
"Anything that makes it fun and interesting elevates the shopper experience." —Christina Anderson-Heller, Lynfred Winery
A Changing Landscape at Retail
As an ever-competitive marketplace and consumer demands continue to evolve, grocers are changing up their wine and adult-beverage displays and ways in which they present wineand-food pairings to their shoppers. Many, if not most, stores that sell alcoholic beverages still have a dedicated section for those products, including aisles and shelves dedicated to wine. Those sections, known for years as liquor departments, have increasingly broader wine selections. Wine offerings are typically divided up by variety and, often, production origin. Some grocers have created special areas within their adult-beverage departments, described as in-store wine cellars or wine caves, which are also places for samplings and tastings that can include foods to go with various wines. The rise of grocerants and foodservice-at-retail programs has paved the way for wines (and craft beers) to be added to
Shoppers can immediately tell wine is a point of attraction at Dorothy Lane Market, which has created a separate wine area with its own unique, inviting look.
menus in stores that have secured licenses to sell adult beverages. In an effort to differentiate their stores even more, some grocers have built wine bars in their locations, with a menu of small bites to accompany the drinks. The ecommerce space is another way that supermarkets and specialty markets can connect with their wine-loving customers and, in turn, connect them with foods that go well with certain varieties. From selling online to offering suggestions for pairings to getting into home delivery, retailers can lead shoppers down these new paths to purchase. By providing wine, food and suggestions for pairings, grocers can attract customers to boost sales while also delivering the all-important experiences that bring people back. “Anything that makes it fun and interesting elevates the shopping experience,” agrees Christina Anderson-Heller, market director for Lynfred Winery, a winemaker based in Roselle, Ill., that sells its wine to grocers and teams up with store for special events like tasting tables.
The State of Wine Sales
As many grocers rev up wine-andfood pairings, there are restrictions on adult-beverage sales in some parts of the country. Following the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution authorized states to make their own rules for the sale of alcoholic beverages. According to information from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), there are still several states that don’t permit wine to be sold in grocery stores. As of 2017, the states allowing supermarkets to sell wine, beer and spirits are Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming. Beer and wine can be sold by supermarkets in Alaska, Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Montana, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pennsylvania (in stores with restaurant licenses), South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont and Texas. The states of Kentucky, Minnesota and Florida require grocers to have a separate entrance to sell liquor.
Get on Board MORE POPUL AR THAN E VER, CHARCUTERIE IS A PERFECT MATCH FOR WINE AND BEER PAIRINGS.
harcuterie may be trending right now on restaurant menus, at grocerants and in retail displays of specialty foods, but it’s hardly a new concept. The tradition of charcuterie is said to have begun more than 6,000 years ago, when people had to preserve meat by curing, and was later elevated as other foods like cheese, nuts and fruits were added to the broad category. As culinary trends tend to do, this one has boomeranged a few times, and charcuterie is currently big again in the foodie world. Charcuterie and cheeseboards are trending terms on Pinterest and Instagram. Charcuterie platters are one of the hotter wedding reception trends this year. Whole Foods Market pointed to another iteration of charcuterie as a top 2019 trend: smaller-format charcuterie snacks such as cheeseboards for one or packages that combine 1-ounce portions of cheese with demi baguettes. Cured meats and an array of cheeses are charcuterie staples, and grocers can go for the tried and true by offering
charcuterie plates and cheeseboards paired with select wines and even beers, both as offerings in their in-store tasting bars or foodservice areas that sell adult beverages and in displays in the deli or liquor departments. Manufacturers of traditional charcuterie items like cured meat products and cheeses make it easier for consumers by providing ideas for creating charcuterie trays at home. Austin, Minn.based Hormel Foods, for example, has put together a “Charcuterie 101” page on its website, a guide that covers everything from complementary flavors, to how to make labels for a board, to tips for incorporating different textures. In addition, Hormel provides recipes featuring classic charcuterie meats like cubed ham, pepperoni, Black Angus roast beef slices and hard salami; cheeses such as goat’s milk cheese, buttermilk blue cheese, goat’s milk brie and vintage cheddar; and other accompaniments like nuts, dried and fresh fruits, pickles, capers, crackers, and crostini. Philadelphia-based Dietz & Watson also provides a bounty of charcuterie recipes for consumers, including holiPROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
Wine Pairing day trays with just cheese selections, and other antipasto trays with meats like chorizo medallions and salami. The meaning of charcuterie may be derived from the French words “cooked” and “flesh,” but it’s not just meat companies that provide ideas for charcuterie plates. Saputo Specialty Cheese, based in Lincolnshire, Ill., has a beverage-pairing guide on its website, including suggestions for teaming wines and specialty cheeses. Packaging an actual charcuterie assortment for consumers is another way to make it more convenient for consumers to savor charcuterie with wines. The Columbus brand, owned by Hormel, has put together a pre-packaged charcuterie sampler, with multipacks like Calabrese salami, Genoa salami, Italian dry salami and soppressata. Dietz & Watson offers a line of charcuterie bites, including pepperoni. In addition to meats and cheeses, charcuterie boards that complement a variety of wines often contain crackers or crostini, for crunch, texture and a palate cleanser of sorts. Hearty breads are a go-to for charcuterie, too, and are a nod to the long history of charcuterie in France and Italy. And, at a time when plant-based eating is buzzworthy and heralds a permanent shift in eating, charcuterie trays can forgo traditional components and be built from plant-based or vegan foods. Just as a charcuterie plate can comprise different foods, some of which are complementary and some of which are distinctly flavored, there’s a range of wine varieties that can be recommended for charcuterie. Generally, full-bodied red wines are recommended for charcuterie with various red meats, such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Shiraz. That said, sparkling wines can be a refreshing complement to charcuterie trays teeming with meats and cheeses, including Prosecco or even Champagne. Madeline Triffon, master sommelier with the Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Plum Market group of specialty stores, says that there’s definitely a balance to be struck with wine and charcuterie. “At our events, we normally have a charcuterie selection and will change it according to what wines will be served. It’s being conservative-creative, so it doesn’t interfere with the wine,” explains Triffon, who leads the wine program in Plum Markets, which consists of five locations in Michigan and one in Chicago. On a personal level, she enjoys charcuterie with more mild meats — “Prosciutto, which is more compatible with a wide range of wines”— because stronger flavors on a charcuterie board can take away from the taste of the wine, if it’s the wine that’s the focus of the experience. “If there are herbs and spices, they shouldn’t be overt or strong, based on the wine,” Triffon says. “Strong fragrances are also intrusive in a tasting.”
One of the appealing things about charcuterie is the variety of components, which can be reflected in a range of tastes, textures, appearances and colors. While there’s an element of fun to charcuterie, there’s also an art to creating a board, whether it’s made by a store employee or the consumer at home. According to an article published earlier this year in Wine Enthusiast magazine, a charcuterie board should have three to five items that include meats and cheeses of varying richness levels, species (i.e., pork and beef), and some spreadable items. Meats in charcuterie typically include sausage, salume/salumi W8
“At our events, we normally have a charcuterie selection and will change it according to what wines will be served. It’s being conservativecreative, so it doesn’t interfere with the wine.” —Madeline Triffon, Plum Market Group
(salted meats) and spreadable meats like pates or terrines. Wine Enthusiast recommends 2 ounces of meat per person, and suggests that beginners should start with meat varieties like prosciutto, soppressata and chicken liver mousse. The balance in taste from these often-rich meats comes with accompaniments like cheeses, dried fruits, crudites and crackers/ breads. Cubed cheeses are easier to pick up and eat on a charcuterie plate, versus “chunky” cheese portions, the article notes. It’s also commonly recommended to offer 2 ounces of cheese per person. Because charcuterie is about eye appeal as much as taste appeal, a little color can be added via a foundation of greens like arugula or garnishing sprigs of herbs that won’t overpower the other flavors of the charcuterie and wines. If entertaining, putting labels on the board makes it look artsy while also providing helpful information on what’s being served. As for wine pairings, Wine Enthusiast recommends light to medium-bodied red wines for classic charcuterie. Boards with bolder flavors call for wines with “vibrant acidity” and fruit flavors, like Riesling and Chardonnay. Beer pairings also offer possibilities. For example, West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, on its website, gives pairing advice such as hot soppressata balanced with dark, creamy porters and stouts, dry salamis with crisp pilsner beers, or India pale ales to cut the fattiness of mortadella.
Protein and Pours WINE WITH ME AT, POULTRY, SE AFOOD AND PL ANT-BASED FOODS.
ines and meats have gone together since cured meats and fermented wines were first created, based on the dual need for sustenance and preservation. The composition of wine and meat make it a classic and frequent pairing. More than a century ago, author Alexandre Dumas opined, “Wine is the intellectual part of a meal, while meat is the material.” On that note, wine tends to bring out the flavor of meat, and vice versa. The generally accepted rule for years was red wines for red meats and white wines for seafood and poultry. That adage held true because red wine and red meat inherently complement one another, due to the tannins in red wines that balance out the richness of red meats. In a similar way, white wines with a higher acidity go well chicken and fish, which tend to take on the flavor of seasonings. While those characteristics still hold true, that rule isn’t as hard and fast anymore, and for a variety of reasons. Today’s wine-and-
Plum Market, a Michigan-based group of specialty stores, regularly holds wine events and takes care to thoughtfully pair — and present — wines and foods like this Piedmontese New York Strip and a 2011 Gaja Sori San Lorenzo bottle of wine.
food world has opened up more choices based on the nuances of particular proteins, flavorings and wine varietals. Flavor is the basis for deciding which wines best go with particular proteins. Wines should enhance the flavor of the meat and meal: A fuller-bodied wine pairs up well with heavier foods, for example, while lighter wines are a palate match with lighter fare. In the same way, a piece of meat seasoned with citrus notes, like a lemon chicken, would go nicely with a wine with citrusy notes, while an earthy red wine is an excellent choice for a grassfed steak or portobello mushroom. Veronica Hastings, founder and managing partner of fine-wine importer and wholesale distributor H2Vino, in Chicago, underscores the importance of choosing wines for dishes that are made with protein as an ingredient, compared with, say, a grilled ribeye that generally matches up nicely with a full-bodied red wine. “When you are matching wine, technically, for a dish, we look at everything that’s in the dish,” Hastings explains. “You may start with an idea of red wine, but you can go one way, if it’s grilled, or another way if the flavors are simple like rosemary. You look at the dish as a whole.” PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
CHARCUTERIE If you haven’t gotten “on board” with the charcuterie trend, now is the time to drive consumer interest and boost deli sales with Columbus Craft Meats
“Charcuterie.” The word may not exactly roll off the tongue, but your customers have developed a sharp taste for it — and they’re only getting hungrier. What is it? The French word, pronounced “shar-koo-tuh-ree,” describes a wide range of meat products, many of which are cured, and it’s a category that is fast growing in the United States. From grocery store shelves to restaurant menus to social media, charcuterie is having a renaissance as the kind of authentic, experiential meal that today’s consumers are yearning for. Five years ago, a consumer heading to the grocery store for cold cuts or a party platter might stop by the deli for some sliced Swiss cheese and Virginia ham. Today, that consumer might be looking for organic ﬁg spread, Provencal olives and Columbus Craft Meats’ Calabrese salami made from whole cuts of handtrimmed pork and slow aged at least 21 days. Charcuterie and the deliciously gorgeous boards used to serve it have become so popular that Instagram inﬂuencers are quitting their jobs to design colorful charcuterie boards full-time. Behind much of this renaissance of charcuterie is a centuryold company in California that helped put craft meats and charcuterie on the map in the U.S. all those years ago, and continues to delight consumers to this day. Columbus Craft Meats, founded by Italian immigrants Peter Domenici and Enrico Parducci in San Francisco in 1917, offers an array of premium craft products that can transform any retailer’s deli into exactly the kind of charcuterie destination that today’s shoppers are seeking.
“Almost every new American restaurant is putting charcuterie on menus because of the artisanal qualities, the vibrant amount of colors and items you can put onto a board. All of that is captivating to today’s consumer,” said Evan Inada, “Master Charcutier” and Customer Marketing Manager at Columbus Craft Meats. “Charcuterie is a great way to draw more customers into the deli.” According to the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s “What’s in Store 2019” report, “The deli department shines as a true growth engine for the store.” And the growth engine for all of that deli department growth going forward might well come from premium products such as charcuterie. That’s because today’s consumer is looking for premium food products that deliver on the three key factors that charcuterie is known for: experential: Charcuterie creates a memorable and positive experience that can be shared with loved ones or on social media; convenience: Charcuterie is a portable or snackable food that travels well for the on-the-go consumer; and authenticity: Charcuterie, with its history and traditions, is seen as simple and “real food” with an authentic story.
Consumers, and especially younger shoppers, are increasingly willing to spend extra for experiential, convenient and authentic foods — and this is pushing the charcuterie category toward major growth and opportunity. Columbus Craft Meats makes products that not only meet but exceed all of those consumer expectations. The brand, with its story of authenticity and craftsmanship and its reputation for unsurpassed quality, excels at helping retailers offer these kinds of on-trend solutions for their customers. “As retailers continue to push toward more of a food-ﬁrst orientation and try to upscale their delis, charcuterie is a great way to do it,” said Holly LaVallie, Vice President of Marketing for Hormel, which owns Columbus Craft Meats. “Sections can be created at retail where the consumer can purchase different types of food pairings, and even pairings with craft beers. That’s where we really see the next generation of the category going.” LaVallie says Columbus Craft Meats works with retailers to bring charcuterie and pairings to the forefront and then give retailers ways to be able to bring these to life in-store. Columbus Craft Meats charcuterie can solve many problems for shoppers, from serving as a lunchtime snack, to functioning as a starter course for a formal occasion, to being the centerpiece at a casual gathering. “We want to help retailers create a one-stop shop for customers’ charcuterie needs,” Inada said. “People want to ﬁnd foods for entertainment, and they want to have the grocerant experience. So creating a charcuterie destination in-store really allows the customer to make a restaurant-quality charcuterie board at home.” Creating a charcuterie destination in-store where retailers can cross-merchandise can also help drive sales across categories. “Once you break it down into a charcuterie set or section, it can help retailers upsell the basket price to at least $50,” Inada said. “Consumers who shop for a small charcuterie board might spend about $50 to $60. A large charcuterie board for 10 to 12 people will cost at least $70. So that higher basket price really adds to the beneﬁts of creating a charcuterie destination in-store.” While there is a learning curve with charcuterie meats, hand selling and sampling removes barriers for shoppers. Columbus Craft Meats has an army of charcutiers who help shoppers sample the products and listen to the story behind the history of charcuterie, the artistry of curing, and the brand. The efforts help connect shoppers to the products in a meaningful way that adds to the Columbus story of authenticity. The company even offers an innovative module on its website that teaches consumers how to build the perfect charcuterie board. To leverage the growth opportunity in the charcuterie movement, retailers should look at partnering with Columbus Craft Meats. “Part of what we are trying to do at Columbus is make charcuterie easier for the average consumer. We have created a charcuterie experience for retailers that is easy, exciting and inviting for the consumer to absorb. By sharing our recipes, portfolio of charcuterie layouts, and overall knowledge of expertise around charcuterie, our customers have all the tools they need to make a beautiful charcuterie board at home.”
Evan Inada Master Charcutier for Columbus Craft Meats Can you explain how you define “charcuterie” and how it has evolved into the “craft charcuterie movement” of today? A: I have always respected charcuterie as the ultimate culinary platform to highlight artisan craftsmanship. Charcuterie has evolved from its traditional French appreciation for cured and cooked meats to become a culinary art form focused on ﬂavor, pairings and eye appeal. A dynamic charcuterie board becomes a visual showstopper that sparks conversation, eating and further sharing of charcuterie through social media’s foodie culture. The focus of charcuterie is still centered on the meat and cheese but the options of accoutrements that play a supporting role on the board have evolved to a beautiful combination of ﬂavors and textures that take on the personality of the charcutier.
How much is consumer demand growing for salame and charcuterie in general in the U.S.? A: Consumer demand is constantly growing as shoppers understand that charcuterie is the perfect item to entertain at any occasion. When shopping for charcuterie, the craftsmanship and ﬂavor that specialty salami brings to a board justiﬁes price point in the consumer’s mind. I love the role that salumi plays in charcuterie because every slice of cured meat is showcased in its purity during the eater’s ﬁrst bite and quickly becomes a catalyst that builds ﬂavor bridges to everything else on the charcuterie board. Since salami is dry cured, the consumer continues to enjoy the ﬂavor of the salame while building additional layers of ﬂavor when paired with the perfect cheese, nut or olive. Sales have increased by over 10% in the last year at locations that put a focus on charcuterie in their deli and specialty cheese departments.
How are you educating your customers about the charcuterie movement? A: Our Columbus team works hard to educate our customers about the charcuterie movement by being masters of our craft. By sharing our understanding of all the delicious elements that make up a charcuterie board, customers can enhance their consumers’ charcuterie experience when shopping for the right mix of specialty products. By educating our customers on the ﬂavor notes each charcuterie pairing highlights, we advise our customers how to understand the meat, cheese, fruit and olive pairings that complete the perfect bite. By educating through ﬂavor, our customers understand the structure needed to build their own charcuterie masterpiece to further the charcuterie movement to the masses.
Visit www.columbusmeats.com or call 510-921-3400.
Farm to Carafe, Ranch to Glass Somewhere in the middle of rigid rules for red meats and red wine, seafood/poultry and white wines and making pairing decisions based on flavor, there are still some basic suggestions for pairing proteins with wines. Below are some tips, based on advice from the Wine Folly, Vivino and Plant and Vine websites:
Beef Top sirloin, top round, or eye round: Light or mediumbodied red wines with a higher acidity that balances the texture of lean meats 2, 3 Porterhouse, T-bone or ribeye: Full-bodied wines with high tannins, to cut the fattiness 1, 2 Lamb Medium-bodied wines that balance the delicate flavor of the lamb 2, 3, 4 Veal Lighter red, rosé, and white wines that go well with the delicate flavor of veal 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 Pork Medium-bodied and light red wines with low tannin counts are a match with the underlying sweetness of cooked pork
Light-meat chicken and turkey White wines 6, 8, 9 Dark-meat chicken, turkey and duck Medium-bodied red wines Of course, cooking methods and accompanying seasonings and sauces affect wine choice, too. Barbecued chicken, for example, is complemented by a richer red wine 2, 3, 4
Shellfish Light-bodied white wines 8, 9 White-fleshed seafood Medium-bodied white wines 8 Dark-fleshed seafood Versatile enough for both red and white wines, based on the cooking method. Earthy sauces work with red wines, for example, while brighter, citrusy flavors in dark-fleshed seafood go with lighter-bodied wines. Or go with a neutral rosé 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9
Green vegetables like broccoli, green beans and kale Light or sparkling wines 7, 8, 9 Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes Full-bodied white wines, rosé or light red wines 3, 4, 5, 6
Acidic fruits/vegetables like tomatoes Rosé, medium red or aromatic white wines 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9
“When you are matching wine, technically, for a dish, we look at everything that’s in the dish. You may start with an idea of red wine, but you can go one way if it’s grilled, or another way if the flavors are simple like rosemary. You look at the dish as a whole.”
Mushrooms Full-bodied white wines, medium red wines or full-bodied red wines 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8
—Veronica Hastings, H2Vino
2, 3, 4
PLANT-BASED/ VEGAN DISHES
Oh, Tannin-Baum HOLIDAY PAIRINGS PROVIDE SOLUTIONS FOR CELEBR ATING CONSUMERS. The approaching holiday season is high time for wine selling, especially the stretch between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. Research from Nielsen confirms that Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the biggest holidays for wine sales in the United States. If it’s beginning to look a lot like peak consumption time, it’s also a good time of year for grocers to share holiday wine-pairing tips with their customers. What goes well with turkey on Thanksgiving? Experts seem to agree that turkey is a versatile protein, with white meat that can go with white wines or delicate red wines, and dark meat that works with robust red varieties. As with other meal pairings, the ideal pairing depends on how the turkey is cooked and with what sides and gravies it’s served. Other traditional holiday foods have their own traditional pairings. Beef briskets that are popular on Hanukkah, for example, would be well served by a tannin-rich red like Syrah or Malbec. Likewise, a rich standing rib roast on Christmas would be balanced by a Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. If a crown roast of pork is the star of the holiday dinner, it would work well with a Chenin Blanc, Riesling or rosé. New Year’s Eve, of course, is all about champagne, which goes with just about anything that night. To share wine-pairing ideas and encourage shoppers to pick up wines when shopping for holiday groceries, stores can hold special tasting events, in addition to other merchandising techniques that are part educational and part promotional.
As the holiday season approaches, grocers can get more basket rings by suggesting holiday wines for celebrations, and foods that go with those varieties, from appetizers to proteins to desserts. As with other sampling efforts, tastings are effective this time of year.
Why Not? UNUSUAL AND FUN PAIRINGS CAN CRE ATE SOME SERIOUS BUZ Z. Charcuterie and wine. Red meat and wine. Cheese and wine. Skittles and wine. While that last, admittedly playful pairing may not be top of mind among shoppers, it may generate some excitement for wine and for candy during high candy consumption times of year like Halloween, Christmas and Easter. Halloween-themed wine pairings won’t scare off customers if done in a fun way. The Wellesley, Mass.-based Roche Bros. grocery chain, for example, has promoted certain match-ups for Halloween candy and wines, like sparkling wine and Sour Patch Kids, and Candy Corn and Chardonnay, to name some examples. Another example of a grocer having fun with wine pairings is Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets. For National Doughnut Day (June 7), Publix proposed such duos as sparkling wine and old-fashioned sour-cream cake doughnuts, and Pinot Noir and filled long johns. Houston-based Specs, a 100-store chain that sells wines, spirits and gourmet foods in Texas, dedicated one of its blogs to unusual pairings. The ideas for mashups included scrambled eggs and Muscadet, with the creamy, soft eggs balanced by the dry wine with apple, citrus and mineral notes, and French fries and Champagne, with the salty, crunchy fries meeting their match in bubbly Champagne. Specs also shared tips for elevating more ordinary meals, like teaming mac and cheese with Chardonnay, and tacos with Sauvignon Blanc. In that spirit of thinking outside the box — or charcuterie board, as the case may be — there are other ways to mix up matchups of wine and food. In the spring, some inventive retailers have matched Girl Scout cookies with wines when the cookies arrive for fundraising season. Meanwhile, since people seem to like bacon combined with just about anything, it shouldn’t be a surprise that people might belly up to a bacon-and-wine pairing. PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
SponS Sored content
Talking with... Brad Panarese Director of Marketing, Saputo Cheese USA Inc.
How would you describe ongoing interest in cheeseboards and wine and cheese pairings?
Saputo Cheese USA Inc., which offers a beverage pairing page on its website for ideas on using its cheeses including the legacy Stella® brand, has a long history of helping people match their favorite varieties of wine, spirits or beer with complementary cheeses. You might say it’s like the aging process for a fine wine or a flavorful cheese: taking the time to create the best possible experience. Part of that process includes providing new and interesting concepts that resonate with market trends, one of which is the new twist on classic cheeseboards.
With over half a million posts on Instagram bearing the tag #cheeseboard, we’ve really seen the interest to create gourmet cheeseboards continue to grow. What’s so great about cheeseboards is how easy they can be to assemble yet look visually complex. You can really let your creativity shine when you assemble a cheeseboard and ease into knowing there is no right or wrong way. All you need are a few of your favorite cheeses and go from there. With such a broad range of offerings, Stella® cheeses add a touch of gourmet to everyday meals with a rich heritage of Italian cheesemaking since 1923.
How do you make it easy for people to find suggested pairings with your cheeses?
We try to make it as easy as possible when it comes to wine and cheese pairings on stellacheese.com. Whether you already have a cheese in mind or vice versa, our beverage pairings page can help guide you through our best recommendations.
What are some examples of perennially-popular cheeseboard arrangements and pairings, and what are some examples of inventive newer ideas? One of the appealing things about cheeseboards is how they can be customized for preferences and tastes, allowing for some creative and flavorful pairings. Here are just a few examples:
ItalIan Cheeseboard Stella® Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, Stella® Aged Asiago Cheese, salami, gherkins (mini pickles), cherry tomatoes, basil, olives, breadsticks. Pair with a dry Pino Gris.
FruIty Cheeseboard Stella® Fontinella® Cheese, Stella® Bourbonista™ Fontinella® Cheese, dried mangos, fresh strawberries, blueberries, dried cranberries, pistachios, crackers. Pair with light bodied Pinot Noir.
dessert Cheeseboard Stella® Gorgonzola Cheese, roasted cashews, dark chocolate squares, fresh raspberries, sliced pears, pita crackers. You can pair this dessert cheeseboard with a crisp Riesling. For more ideas and to browse the beverage pairing guide, visit www.stellacheese.com
Saputo Cheese USA Inc. One Overlook Point, Suite 300, Lincolnshire Corporate Center, IL 60069 • (800) 824-3373
Just Desserts WINE PAIRINGS FOR SATISF YING ENDINGS. Dessert is another way to enjoy the wine-pairing experience. The key with wines as part of the ending to a meal, or for a dessert-only gathering, is to navigate the sweet flavors with notes that will enhance the taste, not take away from it. “Frankly, I think that’s the trickiest pairing on the plate,” says master sommelier Madeline Triffon, of Plum Market. “Usually the dessert is sweeter
Form, Function and Fun GRE AT WINE CAN BE HAD BE YOND THE STANDARD BOT TLE. Pairing wine and food is often part of a gathering, whether at a family holiday, group picnic, or a repast with friends. As such, incorporating unique types of wine can also involve mixing up the type of wine to be savored, including the package format. To that point, the once-eschewed canned wine has become hip, following an explosion of craft beers sold in cans. Veronica Hastings, of Chicago-based H2Vino, says that such formats have their place. “In my smaller world, I married into a family of hikers, and we’re also drinkers,” she says. “We used to carry a bottle of wine on our back, then went to boxed wines. But if you go to boxed wines, why not cans?” There are plenty of examples of these types of wine products hitting the shelves and ready to be teamed up with all kinds of foods. Bonterra Organic Vineyards, for example, recently introduced organically farmed wine in cans. Fusing the on-trend attributes of limited-time seasonal flavors and canned wine, Social Sparking Wine has unveiled new cans of Pumpkin Chai sparkling W16
than the wine and flattens it out.” That said, there are some pairings that work well with particular desserts. Publix, for example, suggests various pairings for cakes and wines on its website: devil’s food cake with Cabernet Sauvignon, hummingbird cake with a dessert Riesling ,and coconut carrot cake with cream sherry, among other combinations. Ice cream and wine can also happily co-exist, depending on the coupling. Publix also shares pointers for this kind of food-and-beverage pairing, calling out combos like peach ice cream and dry Riesling, strawberry ice cream and rosé, chocolate ice cream and red blends, and vanilla ice cream with sweet Riesling. When it comes to actual dessert wines such as sparkling dessert wines (including ice wines), port, sherry and Madeira, Triffon also cautions against sweetness overload. “I think dessert wines are best with cheese,” she notes. One way to have your cake and eat it with wine, too, is to stagger the servings. “Delay the service of dessert, so people have a chance to appreciate the wine solo,” recommends Triffon. Another suggestion is to incorporate savory notes in desserts — think salted caramel — as a way to cut through any overly sweet flavors.
wines in time for fall merchandising. In addition to cans, other packaging innovations have affected the wine category, with implications for convenient food pairings. Tussock Jumper, for example, has rolled out new 6.32-ounce single-serve wines in recyclable plastic bottles with a pop-off tab, in varieties like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.
It's a can-do attitude with wine varieties carried in grocery stores these days, including items like cans of organically farmed wines from Bonterra Organic Vineyards.
Pairing Pros HOW GROCERS CAN BE A GO-TO RESOURCE FOR WINE AND FOOD E XPERIENCES.
he link between wine and food is one type of connection. The tie between grocers and their customers to help them create those pairings is another, as retailers provide complementary products and serve as knowledgeable, helpful experts. There’s a significant opportunity for grocers to be a resource for wine-and-food pairings and to reap the benefits in sales and repeat sales. According to research from Nielsen, more than 60 percent of wine decisions are made at the shelf. As they’re figuring out what wines to buy at the point of sale, shoppers can be encouraged to pick up foods that match up well with the beverages they’re buying.
Winning Displays for Wine and Food
Merchandising at the point of sale is a traditional, reliable way to share ideas for wine-and-food combinations. Grocers can bring small refrigerated cases into the adult-beverage and wine area, space permitting, and fill them with a variety of cheeses, including cubes, wedges, slices and dips. Charcuterie meats that need refrigeration can be added to those cases as well. Bringing in baskets of produce, including both fruits and vegetables that match up well with wine varieties, is another helpful point of interest and a chance to gain incremental sales. Because the eating and drinking experience is so dependent on the respective flavors of the wine and food, retailers play an important role in providing information. Dayton, Ohio-based Dorothy Lane Market, for example, embraces the opportunity to be a go-to source. “Rather than put-
ting scores or ratings on shelf tags, our teams are often putting food-pairing suggestions on the signs describing the wine, and, conversely, many food items throughout the store would have a wine-pairing suggestion,” says Todd Templin, VP of center store and a certified wine specialist. Veronica Hastings, co-founder and managing partner of Chicago-based wine importer H2Vino, agrees that consumers are thirsty for more details when they’re browsing. “I’m always surprised I don’t see more of the small shelf-talker signs for food as I see for wine, especially as you get into specialty foods,” she points out. “Why not put something in the beef section that says, ‘Choose heartier reds for this type of meat,’ and name a few that you have in the store?” Hastings also underscores the reliable method of cross-merchandising, citing the setup of wine stacks by the meat counter.
Tastings, Classes and In-Store Wine Bars Todd Templin, a certified wine specialist and VP of center store for Dorothy Lane Market, emphasizes the importance of staffers' understanding the wines they carry and pour, and educating consumers on pairings throughout the store.
As grocers make their wine departments idea-rich, information-focused destinations, they can also make them gathering spots, not just for buying wine and food, but also for enjoying them on-site. Standard Market, a specialty grocer in Westmont, Ill., is one example of a retailer that has married wine and food displays and an on-site experience. The store features a dedicated space called “The Cube,” a wine, beer and cheese bar that offers wine flights, wine by the glass, and craft beers, along with displays of adult beverages, cheese and charcuterie, and a gastropub-style menu of bites and cheese boards. Special events, like happy hours and wine classes, are held in The Cube, too. Dorothy Lane Market also recognizes the importance of experiential retailing. “Oftentimes, our in-house demo team pairs either beer or wine with a food item that is being sampled in the
“Oftentimes, our in-house demo team pairs either beer or wine with a food item that is being sampled in the store to help the consumer think of the whole meal experience." —Todd Templin, Dorothy Lane Market
PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
Wine Pairing store to help the consumer think of the whole meal experience,” Templin says. ”We also do a lot of different food and wine classes in our Culinary School that are extremely popular, whether it is a winemaker dinner or an in-depth class on Burgundy. We find these classes are usually the first to sell out.” Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Plum Market, with locations in Michigan and Chicago, offers weekly ticketed wine tastings at four of its venues. “The execution is exactly the same as a dining room, in terms of glassware, setup, food, expertise of the pourers,” notes Madeline Triffon, master sommelier. ‘These events generate significant revenue with no push, meaning the sell is soft.” In addition, Plum Market frequently hosts sit-down tastings with guest speakers and popup events during the week. “In terms of food pairing, the staff all are familiar with the principles and employ them when working with our kitchens on events — appropriate specific munchies for Champagne, Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc, and the like,” Triffon adds. Along with classes and tastings, a grocer can create larger events based on wine and food. Ohio-based Heinen’s, for example, is holding a Fall Winefest at its Cleveland store this year, with more than 20 wines that pair well with fall feasts and entertaining. A number of large chain grocery stores are engaging their consumers by holding special events and offering in-store pours, if their states and licenses allow that service. West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, for instance, offers wine-andcheese tastings spotlighting new wine varieties that can be teamed with gourmet cheeses from the store’s deli. Such events can add other elements to the fun of wine and food. Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets, which also has in-store wine bars at some locations and often puts on tasting events with winemakers, is offering wine-tasting and trivia events. No matter the scale or size of the wine-pairing program, having a knowledgeable staff is paramount. “There are a number of CSWs [Certified Specialists of Wine] on our wine teams and most of our team, whether parttime or full-time, have had some wine country education trips, whether on the West Coast, Europe, South Africa or South America,” Templin notes. “Of course, food is a big part of this education, and pairings are natural — we are a food company after all.” According to Triffon, the wine team at Plum Market is extensively trained in a master sommelier introduction course on service standards. “We have staff who have passed the first-level through third-level master sommelier programs at the stores,” she explains. “The wine buyer in Chicago is an advanced sommelier. Three members of the team at our West Bloomfield store are certified sommeliers. Education is supported by covering the cost of [master sommelier] programs once passed, and supporting tastings with visiting experts.” W18
It’s rosé all day at this Dorothy Lane Market store, which often creates wine displays that incorporate other store SKUs, like crackers that pair well with that wine style, and even some serving items.
Ecommerce, Delivery and Online Channels
It’s not a virtual vineyard, but grocers are increasingly using the ecommerce space to connect customers with foodand-wine experiences. For one thing, online ordering and delivery is becoming more popular and making the food-and-wine experience easier for consumers. St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets, which also reaches out to shoppers via a digital platform called The Proof that features recipes, event information, selection tips, and more, recently expanded its partnership with San Francisco-based Instacart to include alcohol delivery in areas of Missouri and Illinois. The Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati, has also expanded its grocery delivery capabilities through a collaboration with Glendale, Calif.-based wine delivery service Drinks Holdings, which enables the chain to deliver wine in 14 states. Meanwhile, digital platforms open up new ways of communicating information and sharing ideas for buying complementary wine and food, either in store or online. German deep-discounter Lidl, for example, has introduced a “bot” named Margot that recommends wines via the international retailer’s social media page. The online tool is available through Lidl’s U.K. Facebook page and provides suggestions for choosing wines by food pairings and other filters.
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Dawn of a New Day GROCERS PROVIDE INCRE ASINGLY DIVERSE BRE AKFAST SOLUTIONS THAT FIT WITH SHOPPERS’ CHANGING TASTES AND HABITS. By Lynn Petrak Is it a good morning for the breakfast category? As the saying goes, it depends on which side of the bed you get up on. On the one side, people’s evolving habits and tastes are affecting traditional breakfast consumption. According to research from Chicago-based Mintel, half of consumers agreed in 2018 that breakfast is more important than lunch or dinner, down from 55 percent in 2014. Another recent survey, conducted by OnePoll UK in conjunction with White Plains, N.Y.-based hummus brand Sabra, found that the average American eats breakfast only three times a week. On the other side, there’s a sunny side up to the a.m. meal: a report on breakfast trends from Geneva, Ill.-based flavor company FONA International showed that breakfast enjoys 91 percent positivity among consumers. Additionally, even as sales of some traditional items
Key Takeaways People aren’t approaching breakfast the same way anymore, but they're still eating it, providing opportunities for grocers to grow this category across the store. Interest in healthier items has led to a proliferation of plantbased breakfast products; other consumer trends affecting the daypart are the rise of snacking, and inventive flavors and formats. Retailers shouldn’t neglect the prepared food department in their breakfast strategies, as the area can deliver excitement as well as convenience.
stagnate or decline, others are waking up, and the overall push for wellness and convenience is opening up new opportunities. “While the morning meal occasion may not be as popular as it used to be, it’s still important from a wellness point of view,” points out Bill Bishop, chief architect at Brick Meets Click, in Barrington, Ill. “It’s also important because breakfast food is increasingly being eaten at all times of the day.” These concurrent trends can be taken in context together to underscore the ways that manufacturers and grocers can meet consumers where they are when it comes to breakfast, providing products, dishes and drinks that meet their needs for morning meals, or their taste for breakfast foods and beverages all day long. It isn’t as much about the elimination of breakfast as it is about the redefinition of this daypart eating occasion. “Ultimately, finding future success in the breakfast market will require greater innovation that combines consumer focus on healthier food options with their need for portability and on-the-go breakfast products,” asserts David Sprinkle, research director for Rockville, Md.-based Packaged Facts, which recently released a report on the subject, “Breakfast: Retail Product Trends and Opportunities in the U.S., 2nd Edition.” One indication of the evolving nature of breakfast comes from the American Egg Board (AEB). According to Phaedra Ruffalo, senior director, market development, for the Chicago-based organization: “We used to have a section on our website called ‘Incredible Breakfast Trends’ that highlighted culinary and consump-
Ultimately, finding future success in the breakfast market will require greater innovation that combines consumer focus on healthier food options with their need for portability and on-the-go breakfast products.” —David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts
tion trends focusing on egg dishes in the breakfast daypart. As we revised the platform with trendsetting chefs showcasing egg dishes and egg trend information based on the highlighted themes such as bowls, global cuisine [and] plant-forward, we realized these recipes were not just for breakfast, because of the versatility of eggs that could extend to all dayparts. We thus rebranded the platform to … ‘Incredible Egg Trends.’ Egg dishes can come in so many different formats, such as with bowls, wraps, sandwiches [and] frittata bites, which all fit well in the breakfast daypart.”
PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
New or redefined breakfast products and concepts can be invigorating for shoppers as well as CPGs and retailers, notes Bishop. “There have been some exciting innovations in breakfast foods,” he says. “This opens the way for more treasure-hunt experiences – the trek is to target customers who eat breakfast food. When that happens, growth can be exciting.”
Well, Well, Well …
While the adage about breakfast being the most important meal of the day may not be taken the same way it used to be, a morning snack, meal or drink that promotes some form of wellness is important to today’s consumers, who are searching for interesting foods that also meet their lifestyle and dietary needs. One aspect of wellness is health, and to that end, providing healthy breakfast solutions is a strategy for broadening retail sales, both in store and in the ecommerce space. “Additional segments to consider include consumers who increasingly prefer healthier options or have necessary or voluntary dietary restrictions,” suggests Michael Jaszczyk, CEO of GK Software, an omnichannel retail company in Raleigh, N.C. An article published on breakfast trends earlier this year by Mintel emphasized the importance of healthy breakfast items, noting that consumers are looking for “healthy breakfast foods that are high in protein, contain fruit and are low in sugar.” On that last note, the new Packaged Facts report on breakfast also highlighted the greater focus on low/no sugar or low/no added sugars. The report pointed out that sugar is a common ingredient in many breakfast foods, including cereals and breakfast pastries. To meet the growing demand for lower-sugar items,
manufacturers and grocers are offering various solutions. SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener, for example, has introduced a line of Non-GMO Project Verified breakfast syrups in blueberry, cinnamon and maple varieties, made with the plant-based sugar alternative stevia and containing just 70 calories per serving. “Stevia has become an important sweetener in the U.S. market because there is a desire for consumers to reduce added sugars in their diets, some for calorie reduction in order to manage weight, and others to prevent identified health risks,” observes Carol May, CEO of Gilbert, Ariz.-based Wisdom Natural Brands, the manufacturer of SweetLeaf products. Meanwhile, wellness is an umbrella term that also encompasses the concept of freshness. The demand for fresh food at breakfast is another notable trend in the category, according to experts. “Grocers and their CPG suppliers are adding more fresh-based ingredients as customer preferences shift toward fresher foods and cleaner ingredients,” notes Steve Towarnicki, VP, CPG engagement for Dallas-based Symphony RetailAI. “Retailers and CPGs are also meeting the needs of shoppers by introducing pre-packaged, freshingredient meals that require only a few simple steps for preparation, like ‘just add water’ for oatmeal, or ‘add yogurt and blend’ for smoothies.” Research from the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI) bears out the flourishing interest in fresh, beginning with the morning meal or snack. According to FMI’s "The Power of Produce 2019” report, shoppers are consciously trying to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables across most meal occasions, an effort that has intensified since 2017. In particular, the report found that nearly half (47 percent) of consumers are trying to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables with breakfast.
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Egg dishes can come in so many different formats ... which all fit well in the breakfast daypart.” —Phaedra Ruffalo, American Egg Board
The traditional omelet is still a favorite morning meal, but egg dishes like fritattas and sous vide bites are changing up breakfast.
Plant it Here
The takeoff of fresh food for breakfast syncs with the other general movement toward more plant-based eating. “Plant-forward meals are growing, and we see more restaurants that are incorporating more vegetables and grains on their breakfast menus,” says AEB’s Ruffalo, citing dishes like avocado toast topped with eggs and the complementary combination of mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and eggs that imparts a fresh and umami flavor profile to quinoa bowls with vegetables topped with a poached egg. Towarnicki points to the veritable explosion of plant-based brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods that can affect breakfast consumption. “A large number of fast-food chains, restaurants and even stadiums are now offering plant-based meat alternatives for all meal occasions, and grocery is no different,” he explains. “To accommodate this demand, grocers have had to allocate space on the shelf, reducing inventory for other categories that have either been over-allocated or are decreasing in popularity. For example, over the last decade, frozen juice sales have been in free fall, allowing retailers to reallocate the already limited frozen space to meatless, plant-based options across all meal occasions.” In the breakfast category, Towarnicki notes the emergence of items like pork-less breakfast meat, plant-based smoothies and pre-portioned breakfast smoothie ingredients. Many manufacturers, major companies and smaller, specialty and startup brands alike, are getting into plant-forward breakfast fare. Irvine, Calif.-based Before the Butcher offers an Uncut Breakfast Sausage patty as part of its line of plant-based meats. The Just Egg plantbased egg alternative from San Francisco-based Just Inc., made from mung bean, which is said to have the texture of
chicken eggs, continues to gain in popularity: According to point-of-sale data from Chicago-based market research firm SPINS, Just Egg has captured 40 percent of the refrigerated liquid egg market in the natural channel. Plant-based yogurts, including varieties from Chobani and Danone, are having an impact on the ever-expanding yogurt category. Grocers have options for carrying heat-and-eat plant-based breakfast foods, too. Vancouver, British Columbia-based Daiya, for instance, recently added new plant-based breakfast burritos, made with an “egg-style” scramble, meatless crumbles and cheddar-style shreds, among other ingredients.
Another hallmark of the redefined breakfast eating occasion is the impact of the modern snacking culture. According to the recently released “Future of Snacking” study from The NPD Group, based in Port Washington, N.Y., indulgent snacking has been growing for morning occasions, when people tend to be on the go and looking for portability and convenience. Several food and beverage companies are offing snack solutions that can be merchandised for breakfast. Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Packaged Foods, for example, has rolled out a line of Dole Spoonable Smoothie bowls that can be eaten as a snack or breakfast, or, for that matter, a snack-breakfast. San Francisco-based Del Monte is also getting into this kind of hybrid product, with its Fruit Crunch Parfaits, nondairy parfaits that are rich in probiotics and packaged in a snack-sized 6.25-ounce cup. For its part, the venerable Tastykake brand, based in Philadelphia, now offers Muffin Juniors billed as suitable for breakfast or snacking.
New Flavors, Formats for Favorites
As manufacturers and grocers strive to distinguish their offerings in a competitive marketplace, putting the proverbial twist on breakfast classics is another way to engage today’s shoppers as they seek new experiences with just enough familiarity. For instance, the egg segment includes newer formats, at least for
grocery. “Egg innovation is expanding into various formats, from bite-size to wraps,” notes Ruffalo. “For example, we’re seeing the transition of sous vide egg bites from foodservice to the grocery store. Why? Because consumers are seeking more on-the-go breakfast offerings in formats that are easy to reheat and with a clean-label positioning with the use of real eggs. Overall, with these innovations, such as sous vide bites or egg wraps, these egg-based products create a fantastic carrier of flavor.” One example of such a product is a line of all-natural sous vide egg bites from Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Les Trois Petits Cochons. The high-protein bites are available in Bacon & Swiss, Prosciutto & Gruyère, Ham & Espelette Pepper, and the vegetarian Spinach & Feta. Other favorite breakfast foods have been elevated or updated in some way as well. The Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co. introduced Off the Grid protein waffles earlier this year, offering 12 grams of protein and nine essential amino acids, and made with 100 percent whole grains and cage-free eggs. The longtime breakfast brand also is mixing it up in the granola segment with a new line of HI! Happy Inside granola featuring probiotics, prebiotics and fiber, aimed at improving digestive health.
Rise and Dine
In addition to items in the center store and refrigerated sections, grocers can deliver breakfast solutions to their shoppers through foodservice-at-retail programs. That approach is also an effective way to extend grocers’ own all-day sales. The prepared food area is a key location that can accommodate breakfast solutions. “Despite the prepared foods section of grocery stores being strongly associated with dinnertime, there is a significant opportunity for retailers to cater to morning meal occasions as well,” advises Hannah Spencer, foodservice analyst with Mintel. “A look at Mintel data on breakfast and brunch consumption by location shows that consumers are already purchasing popular breakfast foods, including breakfast sandwiches and smoothies, more often from retail than foodservice.” According to Spencer, 57 percent of consumers already purchase prepared sandwiches from stores that sell groceries, and 27 percent currently purchase juices/smoothies, leading to a significant opportunity to tailor these prepared options for the morning daypart. Symphony RetailAI’s Towarnicki agrees that prepared foods and delis can be used better in the morning hours. “Many grocers are also using the deli pre-made section for breakfast options, leveraging the otherwise slow time of day for the section typically used for rotisserie chickens, sandwiches at lunch, and a variety of dinner options,” he observes. “By taking advantage of the deli,
grocers can maximize the space in the morning, with products like breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos and home fries, giving customers options for an on-thego breakfast alternative.” For a certain segment of consumers, the dining experience at grocery stores involves more than just food choices. Ruffalo cites an AEB study showing that flavor and visual appeal are consistently important factors for today’s consumers. “They want to be entertained; they want to be excited,” she says. “You’re seeing that with grocery stores, who know they have to excite consumers with different flavors but also keep that true comfort appeal.” Generating such excitement is possible, adds Ruffalo, with menu ideas like a “walking omelet” that’s been popular on college campuses, or a waffle bubble cone, a warm waffle cone filled with scrambled eggs and other ingredients. “It’s still a breakfast profile, but with sweet-savory notes, and it has that visual appeal that consumers are seeking,” she points out.
Along with what items supermarkets offer shoppers, how stores deliver breakfast solutions is important for how retailers can optimize their breakfast products and programs. “Breakfast, especially during the work week, is a notorious on-the-go action for many shoppers, so grocers should prioritize convenient items and an overall convenient shopping experience,” recommends GK Software’s Jaszczyk. Going forward, that convenient experience should include the ability to quickly check out and pay in any part of the store, he adds. “Consumers will always have their phone with them, but might not want to carry cash or bring their wallet when running into the store for a few items,” he explains, adding that fast and easy checkout options are available in different formats, including traditional checkout, self-checkout kiosks, mobile checkout via shoppers’ devices, self-scan, and click-and-collect for larger orders.
Despite the prepared foods section of grocery stores being strongly associated with dinnertime, there is a significant opportunity for retailers to cater to morning meal occasions as well.” —Hannah Spencer, Mintel
TOTAL MEAL SOLUTIONS
Retail Foodservice Q&A
Ask a Chef ROBERT DANHI, OF THE AMERICAN EGG BOARD, DISCUSSES THE FOOD’S POPUL ARIT Y IN GLOBALLY INSPIRED DISHES FOR BRE AKFAST AND BE YOND. By Kathy Hayden
reakfast has been at the top of foodservice performance and growth for the past four years. According to industry experts, the early daypart will continue to shine, especially if foodservice operators keep finding innovative ways to deliver delicious and nourishing meals and snacks. Chef Robert Danhi, consulting chef for the Chicago-based American Egg Board, is a chef, educator, TV host and author of “Southeast Asian Flavors” and “Easy Thai Cooking — 75 Family-Style Dishes You Can Prepare at Home in Minutes.” Danhi thrives on traveling around the globe — 35 countries and counting — and he’s encountered plenty of global ideas that are ready to wake up breakfast tastes here in the States.
Progressive Grocer: Breakfast and breakfast all day have been big business for the foodservice industry over the past three to four years. Is that still the case, and how do the next two to four years look for breakfast momentum? Robert Danhi: Breakfast is the one daypart that continues to see consistent growth. In fact, NPD reports that “[m]orning meal (breakfast and a.m. snack) has shown consistent traffic growth over the last several years, the only foodservice daypart with year-over-year growth.” And according to the National Restaurant Association, 55 percent of consumers say they would order breakfast items more often if restaurants offered them all day.
PG: What channels — QSR, family dining — of foodservice have the best breakfast sales? What are some strategies that grocery stores’ prepared food programs can use to compete with these channels? RD: According to NPD/CREST data for the year ending December 2018, QSR breakfast traffic was up 2 percent, retail breakfast traffic rose 4 percent, and fast-casual breakfast traffic increased 5 percent. People want breakfast on the go, especially during the week. So grocery stores need to offer grab-and-go items such as protein boxes featuring hard-boiled eggs, as well as other handheld breakfast items —
sandwiches, burritos, flatbreads, muffins, frittatas, etc. — that can be quickly heated in the store or at work. Consumers want nutritious breakfast options without a lot of fuss. Some c-stores are doing a great job meeting this breakfast on-the-go need with their own brands of breakfast sandwiches and handhelds. They’re convenient and satisfying.
PG: What are some recommendations for ways that prepared food programs can bring new ideas and upgrades to grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches? RD: Consumers expect egg sandwiches to be part of the breakfast lineup, and consumers are looking for new exploration of flavors, such as Roti John, a Malaysian-inspired breakfast sandwich, where the egg is cooked onto the bread, making it an ideal portable breakfast, also known as a “walking omelet.” It’s filled with julienned carrots, cabbage,
Using eggs in place of bread is not a new concept, yet what is new is the availability of eggbased wrappers. Specifically, egg-white wrappers have become readily available to use in place of gluten-rich bread.” —Robert Danhi, American Egg Board
scallions, herbs, and zesty flavors from lime and sriracha, so it’s a fresh way to interpret a breakfast sandwich.
PG: What are some global flavor and format influences you’re seeing in the breakfast daypart? RD: There are more global interpretations of flatbreads and other egg-fortified sandwiches that can inspire U.S. breakfast menus. For instance, Vietnamese banh mi has been popularized for lunch and dinner, but this baguette sandwich filled with meats, vegetables and pickles is also a great breakfast option. Banh Mi Op La, the traditional fried-egg banh mi, is easy to prepare and has a low food cost. Instead of the classic pork headcheese, operators may opt to add other global meats with more mass appeal, such as ham or breakfast sausage, or the mortadella featured in a Cheesy Egg Banh Mi.
PG: As more people limit or avoid gluten, how can chefs and operators innovate around eggs, portability and convenience in the breakfast daypart? RD: Using eggs in place of bread is not a new concept, yet what is new is the availability of egg-based wrappers. Specifically, egg-white wrappers have become readily available to use in place of gluten-rich bread. Low cost, fewer calories and no gluten — these wrappers are ready for prime time!
PG : How about egg menu ideas beyond breakfast — what are some top trends there? RD: Eggs are so versatile, we see them being used across all dayparts. Salads with eggs are familiar items on both lunch and dinner menus. We’ve also seen lots of menus with “add an egg” options for burgers, sandwiches, bowls, salads, ramen, and more. Plant-forward cuisine is another place we’re seeing eggs used beyond breakfast. Eggs and vegetables are a great pair, and they appeal to vegetarians as well. Global cuisines feature eggs beyond breakfast — think shakshuka from the Eastern Mediterranean/North African and Middle Eastern regions, Korean bi bim bop, or the egg on top of a steaming bowl of Japanese ramen.
From breakfast bowls to egg-fortified sandwiches, there are plenty of global influences that can inspire U.S. breakfast menus. For recipe ideas, retailers can visit www.aeb.org/foodservice/recipes. PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
Brands on the Run PORTABLE PRODUCE AT RE TAIL SPORTS A R ANGE OF FAMILIAR NAMES TO DR AW CONSUMERS TO HE ALTHIER ON-THE-GO SNACKS. By D. Gail Fleenor
nacks used to be only candy or chips, but advances in the marketing of fresh produce have helped to break down that sugary, salty wall. Many fruits and vegetables are easily eaten as snacks; many are packaged and sold for that purpose. Branded snack packages of produce may be small, but the sales boom is huge. Snackable fruits and vegetables accounted for sales of $16.3 billion in the year ended May 27, 2017 (“Nielsen: On the Go Produce Snacking”). When iffy items that could be used as ingredients and not just snacks, such as bananas, were subtracted and an “on the go” subcategory was developed, sales over the same period were $1.1 billion. On-the-go snacks posted a compound annual growth rate of more than 10 percent every year between 2012 and 2016.
Key Takeaways Customers want more branded produce snacks available for quick purchase. All ages appreciate snackable produce, not just kids. Snackable produce should be convenient, healthy and portable.
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Manufacturers and retailers have introduced 900 new snacking items during this period, with 600 being individual servings of fresh-cut fruit — with and without additional items. “I think we will see continued expansion of snack-size produce items,” affirms Michael Prather, director of food safety and sustainability for Helena, Ala.-based Alex Kontos Fruit Co./Flavor Pic Tomato Co. “I think the challenge will come with gaining shelf space for these ever-increasing offerings.”
The New Way to Eat Healthy
The typical produce snack customer is female and either a Baby Boomer or Gen Xer. Snacking draws the second-highest numbers behind dinner as a meal occasion when shoppers want to consume produce. Up from 15 percent in 2017, 38 percent of shoppers want their produce department to carry more snacksize vegetables, and 35 percent want more fruit snack packs, according to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) report “The Power of Produce 2019.” As customers try to add more produce to their diets, snacking is a highly important and simple way to fulfill this purpose, with 58 percent of those surveyed by FMI saying they use produce snacks to achieve this goal. Dinner, snacking and lunch are key avenues to increase fresh produce consumption across all demographics, according to "The Power of Produce
Health, convenience, and snacking are three components that continue to grow rapidly in the produce business.” —Steven Ware, Naturipe Farms
2019.” Customers want convenient, timesaving and portable solutions for their healthy snacks. This is seen in the growing demand for branded and value-added produce. The number of snacks that consumers eat has increased from 3.9 per day in the 1970s to 5.6 in 2010, according to the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey. This number includes chips, candy or any other snack. Top reasons for snacking other than being hungry include “I need energy” and “I want something nutritious.” Fresh vegetables for snacking include cherry tomatoes, radishes, celery sticks, carrot sticks or slices, cucumber rounds or spears, sugar snap peas, snow peas, bell pepper slices, jicama sticks, and zucchini spears. Fruit snacks consist of apples, oranges, pears, plums, grapes, berries, mango, pineapple and melon. Dried fruit and nut packs are also popular.
It’s OK to Snack Fresh
Branded cups of diced or sliced fruits and vegetables line refrigerated cases, and customers grab them because produce snacking is Mom- or Dad-approved for the kids and for themselves. For kid lunches, after school or just a quick healthy snack, this segment appears to be a new staple in the produce department.
SERVE GOODNESS Believe it or not, serving goodness isn’t just what you put on the plate. It’s not one thing or one person. It’s all of us, coming together to serve a greater good. To serve goodness is to serve people; to
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“We sell Chiquita apple snacks and slices,” says Terry Esteve, produce director at New Orleans- and Baton Rouge, La.-based Robért Fresh Markets. “The apple snacks do best when school is in [session]. They are lunchbox-sized and offer apples and grapes in the same pack, or just sliced apples.” Robért Fresh Markets introduced more lines of branded snack vegetables in 2019, Esteve notes, adding, “We offer individual serving-size packs of mini cucumbers with grape tomatoes or mini sweet peppers, as well as a snack-sized grape tomato package. All do very well when schools are in.”
I think we will see continued expansion of snack-size produce items. I think the challenge will come with gaining shelf space for these everincreasing offerings.” —Michael Prather, Alex Kontos Fruit Co./Flavor Pic Tomato Co.
“Apples are a popular snack, and three out of four apple-eating occasions are for snacking,” says Brianna Shales, communications manager for Wenatchee, Wash.based Stemilt Growers. “Our Lil Snappers brand of 3-pound apples or pears is perfect for snacking occasions, as it’s a ‘kid-sized’ piece of fruit and a great onthe-go snacking item. But really, any apple is a great portable snack.” Produce snacks aren’t just for kids or for a particular occasion. Robért Fresh Markets offers Sundia single-serve fruit cups, which Esteve observes have been “gaining traction lately. Folks are grabbing something quick for breakfast.” Steven Ware, VP and general manager of Naturipe Value Added Fresh at Naturipe Farms, a grower-owned partnership based in Salinas, Calif., notes that his company’s snacks are “easy, convenient and great for all snackers, from students and professionals to kids and families.” According to Shales, meanwhile, people want to eat healthy but don’t always have time to do so. “Highlighting the portability and convenience produce offers people
and coming up with new portable packs are great ways to keep customers enjoying more fruits and vegetables,” she says.
Handy Candy is Dandy
Handy Candy is the fitting name of Flavor Pic’s snack-size grape tomatoes, which come in 4- and 2-ounce sizes. The “candy” part of the product’s name comes from the company’s test of its tomatoes, which must pass the company flavor profile and the Brix sweetness scale before being so labeled. The product containers are display-ready, with resealable and biodegradable cups, and can be located wherever retailers need them to be, according to Prather. Also available from Flavor Pic are Handy Candy Blueberries, which are packaged in Corona, Calif., by the company’s partners at Veg-Fresh Farms. Naturipe Farms is known for its wide variety of berries, avocados and organic
Branded Smoothies Go Anywhere Smoothies continue to grow in popularity. These healthy drinks are portable and can serve as a fast liquid snack or meal replacement. Health-conscious customers prefer fruit smoothies over other types, according to Technavio Market Research, whose U.S. office is in Elmhurst, Ill. The global smoothie market is poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 9 percent by 2022. Branded smoothies are big business. Some of the top smoothie brands include Bolthouse Farms, with carrots and other vegetables; Odwalla, which calls its smoothies the original superfood and is owned by The Coca-Cola Co.; Naked Juice, owned by PepsiCo; and new Simply Smoothies, also owned by Coca-Cola. Bottled smoothies add to the convenience and portability of produce snacks, since there’s nothing to chop or blend. Flavors can vary — at least two of the smoothie brands mentioned offer limited-edition Pumpkin Spice varieties during fall. According to the Food Marketing Institute’s “The Power of Produce 2019” report, produce-based beverages merchandised in the produce department are a still small but rapidly growing market. Half of shoppers purchase them, primarily younger, male and higher-income consumers.
items. “Naturipe Snacks is our healthy and convenient snacks line that pairs fresh-picked strawberries and blueberries with specialty cheese and seasoned nuts in a portable package,” Ware notes. “Naturipe Snacks are the ideal snack option for consumers looking for a ready-to-eat snack that nourishes and satisfies with protein, fiber, vitamin C and calcium.” The line's four varieties are Sweet & Crunchy, Sweet & Zesty, Classic & Sharp, and Bold & Spicy. “Health, convenience, and snacking are three components that continue to grow rapidly in the produce business,” asserts Ware. “Demand grows as consumers focus on healthier, convenient options. We developed our snacks with health and portability in mind.”
Another portable snack is in most grocers’ produce departments: shelled nuts. Wonderful Pistachios has launched new flavors for those who want something sweet or spicy. The new no-shells offerings are bagged Chili Roasted and Honey Roasted for on-the-go snacking. “Snacking in 2019 is all about flavor; it’s a key factor considered when we select any type of snack, and we also know that people eat more nuts when they’re flavored,” explains Adam Cooper, SVP of marketing at the Los Angeles-based Wonderful Co.
Most supermarkets also package their own value-added snack packs. “We’ve recently started doing a 12-ounce cup of chunked melons or pineapples, and a cup of grapes ready to eat,” says Esteve. “We put them in stainless ice bins by the front end for the lunch crowd. So far, it is working well. We do a big prepared food lunch business, and our salad bars do really well, so this offers customers something healthy to go along with their lunch. It’s a small serving with an attractive retail and does well.” As healthy diets become even more popular, branded produce snacks should continue to see healthy sales increases. As noted in “The Power of Produce 2019,” the only barrier to growth among all shoppers of snackable produce appears to be the price differential.
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Macro Effects of Micro Fulfillment MAKING ROOM FOR ROBOTICS IN AN E XISTING STORE FOOTPRINT COULD HELP MA XIMIZE THE EFFICIENCY OF BOTH CLICK-AND-COLLECT AND HOME DELIVERY SERVICES. By Abby Kleckler
ot that long ago, customers were content or even overjoyed that they could order something online and it would arrive at their doorstep in a week or so. The expectation today, however, is much different. Amazon Prime launched memberships in 2005, and then a few years later really stepped up its offerings, making two-day delivery commonplace. Fast-forward to a short time later, and there’s now a whole generation of online consumers who haven’t known anything but this speedy service. As two-day delivery turns into same-day or even one-hour delivery — now offered by some grocers as well as Amazon, Walmart and Target on certain items — the pressure is on for retailers to satisfy consumer demands in a cost-effective manner. “Right now, delivery is too inefficient, and the manual labor of walking up and down the aisles to do it is sucking all the life and all the profit out of their
Key Takeaways The pressure is on for retailers to satisfy consumers’ ecommerce demands in a cost-effective manner. Automated micro fulfillment centers, using artificial intelligence and robotics, can help maximize the efficiencies of online grocery delivery and pickup. Speed, productivity and better control over inventory are among the advantages of micro fulfillment for grocers.
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Where You Already Are
Takeoff Technologies installs the robots and provides the software as a service for the micro fulfillment ecosystem to work. In execution, robots and humans are working hand in hand to increase efficiency.
grocery business,” says Steve Hornyak, chief communications officer of Israel-based CommonSense Robotics. “With them using third parties or even themselves, fundamentally they’re losing money on every online transaction that they’re fulfilling.” Enter one solution: automated micro fulfillment centers. Combining artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics at a location already close to the consumer, such as an existing store, can help maximize the efficiencies of online grocery delivery and pickup. Some grocers have already embraced micro fulfillment centers, or are in the process of building them: Miami-based Hispanic grocer Sedano’s; Wakefern Food Corp. banner ShopRite, operating in the Northeast; Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons; and Ahold Delhaize USA banner Stop & Shop are just a few. “The demand is definitely there from the end shoppers,” says Max Pedró, co-founder and president of Waltham, Mass.-based Takeoff Technologies. “We don’t think getting groceries online is a luxury anymore. It is a necessity. Some shoppers are going to be lost if you don’t have that format to serve them.”
Traditional grocers have one major advantage over strictly online businesses: their brick-andmortar locations. These buildings are often referenced as one of the differentiators between Walmart and Amazon in their fight over shoppers’ online purchases, and it’s not just true for the big guys. Grocery retailers have already done the work to determine where their customers are — that’s why they built a store there — so why not leverage this for ecommerce? “They own real estate, all their stores, and they’re close to their customers because they already did all the math, and they know they can service enough people with food, [who] are a very short drive to their facility,” Hornyak says. “If we carve out, say, 15,000 to 20,000 square feet inside that building and take a lot of the stuff that is repetitious to buy or purchase or otherwise, and automate it, you now can have a multipronged value proposition.” This value proposition includes being able to service click-and-collect because that’s a strong proposition for grocers, as well as on-demand delivery. Both operations can be primarily automated, meaning that the retailer doesn’t need to worry about hiring additional staff for the services or handling any surges in orders. The initial investment and timeframe for execution of a robotic micro fulfillment center are less intense than those of a traditional fulfillment center. “One option you have today is automated picking at a big facility that is very efficient, but it’s very expensive for the commitment, meaning millions of dollars, many years and a very expensive last mile,” says José Vicente Aguerrevere, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Takeoff Technologies. “The beauty is we combine the proximity of the store with the automation of a large facility, and between signing a deal and going online, it’s only three months, as opposed to three years.” Instead of making space in an existing facility, micro fulfillment centers can also be dark stores, but the key is the proximity to customers. “In order to make it profitable, you have to use it,” Hornyak advises. “If you build it and people don’t use it, it won’t be profitable. So as long as you have enough volume to support that, we really don’t care where it is.”
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CommonSense Robotics installed a micro fulfillment center in an underground parking garage in Tel Aviv to prove it can work in the hardest of conditions with the hardest of products, groceries.
the case of both CommonSense Robotics and Takeoff Technologies — so like purchases are close together to be able to pick them faster. “The robots will merge at the end to fulfill one order,” Hornyak explains. “If it’s going to be delivered and it’s going to be sub-hour, it may be able to go out as it is. If it’s going to go to a centralized distribution place, we may have to pack some ice in it or other packing.” The different packing options are all part of the operational process, which combines technology with human strengths where appropriate. “So many people have the concern that robots are taking jobs, and we actually see the opposite: It’s humans and robots working together, but adding the humans to do what we do best,” Aguerrevere says. “It is an art and
An automated micro fulfillment center combines robotics with AI to create an efficient system. There are automated totes or cubes in three separate zones — ambient, chilled and frozen — that handle only those items. After an online order is made and all three types of items are pulled, the totes come together at the end of the system to be packaged in one order. Each tote holds a specific number of SKUs — up to eight in
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science coming together on sorting the right inventory into each of those totes, and then the entire facility.” The major advantages of the automated micro fulfillment center are speed, productivity and overall efficiency. According to Takeoff Technologies, this system is at least 10 times more productive than roaming supermarket aisles to assemble orders, while CommonSense Robotics notes that an order of 60 items is picked in less than 10 minutes.
The Customer Experience
Speed isn't the only advantage customers will see when ordering from a grocer that employs an automated micro fulfillment center. One of the most prevalent complaints from customers is SKU substitutions. They’ll order their groceries only to find out that a certain type of peanut butter they were expecting is out of stock. This difficult, and often annoying, conversation about what substitutions to allow, or even what items you’re then willing to go to the store to buy later, is eliminated with a robotic fulfillment center. Online inventory matches actual inventory.
“In a micro fulfillment center, you’d have real-time knowledge of your shelf, because the only way somebody can buy it is through the system,” Hornyak says. “Now, will you have stuff that’s out of stock? Yes. But when they place the order, you know, not an hour later, when they want to pick it up.” The system can also improve how a grocer handles its inventory, providing AI to look at patterns and purchases to determine when to order more of a certain item. Eventually, grocers could almost fulfill their inventory in real time or on a daily basis, instead of on a weekly basis. “Customer satisfaction is going to go through the roof,” Hornyak adds. “More and more and more, you can convert a store into something that looks more like online.” Hornyak describes the current grocery landscape as a perfect storm brewing, with winds about to converge into a massive twister, which is efficient same-day or one-hour delivery. Customer demands are leading the charge, although somewhat influenced by other retailers, and grocers need to figure out how to profit. “There is a vacuum coming from the market for what we do like I’ve never seen before in my career,” Hornyak admits. “I’ve never seen such a quick tornado of activity that’s being driven by the market before.”
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EQUIPMENT & DESIGN
On the Level SUPERMARKE T SHELVING SOLUTIONS CAN SIGNIFICANTLY INFLUENCE STORE PROFITABILIT Y. By Bob Ingram ega-brokerage Acosta’s recent “Shelf Management Report” reveals that more than half of grocery buying decisions are made at the shelf, and that manufacturers spend $100 billion annually on promotions, versus $300 million on shelf management, which actually represents 66 percent of sales and 85 percent of profits. The Acosta study also notes that “fixing the shelf” achieves a sales lift of 6 percent, while there has been a decline in lift from promotional tactics in the past several years. At Landover, Md.-based Giant Food, shelving selection is a collaborative effort based on the specific needs of design, color and strength, says Bob Bennett, director of operations support. Selection is made along with the NFR (not for resale), category management and format teams. According to Bennett, Giant is considering electronic shelf labels (ESLs) and routinely researches how this technology is developing. He believes, however, that there are a couple of aspects of ESLs that still need resolution before wide-scale development.
Key Takeaways Shelving is evolving to accommodate new technologies in regard to ordering, inventory control, merchandising and advertising, and retailers must keep pace with such advances. With retailers increasingly focused on finding ways to fit more selection into smaller footprints, shelving solutions that maximize space become ever more necessary. Creating a digitally connected environment, through such means as electronic shelf labels that display pricing, promotional and product information, allows retailers to better blend their virtual and physical experiences.
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“For one,” Bennett offers, “the cost is still significant here, so ROI can be a challenge. Additionally, in most sets, you will lose a shelf, so you could be looking at losing a number of product SKUs. This is because they are larger than regular shelving strips, so fewer items may fit on the shelf with the electronic shelf labels.”
Attention Must be Paid
Retailers must pay attention to more than their shelving solutions, advises Bill Bender, sales VP at Corona, Calif.-based Uniweb Inc. – they must perfect their display and storage solutions as a whole. “For example, many stores are going to a pickup service, where people order online, arrive at a parking station in the store’s parking lot; then employees bring the product out to the customer,” Bender says. “Merchants must create an efficient pickup service by having a shelving system to stock the orders and make it simple enough for employees to easily distribute the product.” If the customer decides to come into the store to pick up the online order, he adds, having a pop display area in case the customer wants to grab something additional would be “ideal.” Uniweb’s most popular shelving product, according to Bender, is the Variety Panel, an all-steel fixture with continuous horizontal channels and no upright interruptions. “High concentration can dramatically increase profit potential and increases product facings by a minimum of 17 to 25 percent, and in some cases up to 50 percent,” he says. The Variety Panel provides an extensive variation of shelving and hook options, including placing hooks over panel seams and placing shelves and pegs side by side; thus the product can be easily reconfigured and updated. “Depending on the type of retailer and the retail environment, shelving will continue to play an integral part [in] store merchandising,” Bender observes. “With the introduction of new technologies, or ‘smart shelves,’ retailers will be able to affect ordering, inventory control, merchandising and advertising through the use of RFID technology, and we may see shelving evolve to accommodate these new technologies.”
With increased pressure on the retail experience, retailers are focusing on maximizing the merchandising effectiveness of existing space. “Retailers like that they have a durable, cost-effective American system that automatically faces products for improved impulse sales and labor reductions,” asserts Craig Weiskerger, director of sales and marketing at Trion Industries Inc., in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., referring to Trion’s newly developed Zip Track system, which can accommodate a variety of single-serve beverages; its adaptability has also been demonstrated store-wide. But the company’s most popular shelving product, Weiskerger notes, is the WonderBar system, which helps retailers maximize available space by gaining space for more products. “It replaces the shelf with a tray and bar that keep products forward-faced, reducing labor and improving product presentation,” he says. Scott Weakley, president of STM Display Sales, in Mississauga, Ontario, which distributes the Zip Track and WonderBar systems in Canada, observes: “We have found that retailers, especially in larger urban markets, are being hurt with the increasing value of land and the property tax increases, which have led to big increases in overhead leasing costs, and thus are paying more attention to store size and product mix, and are trying to find ways to fit more selection into a smaller footprint.”
Bryan Stirle, president of San Diego-based gondola shelving manufacturer Creative Store Solutions Inc., says shelving is typically one of the last purchasing decisions to be made by a store owner. “Unfortunately, once the retailer gets to the point of a focus on shelving, they quickly realize that the purchase is not as straightforward as they thought,” Stirle says. “For the typical client I work with, when I tell them that the average lead time is four to six weeks for the shelving to be manufactured and shipped, it can seem overwhelming," he adds. "This is why I suggest that all store owners or project managers contact us once the plans have been put on paper, even if the plan set is not the final draft. We can always make changes to the shelf runs once the final draft has been approved.”
With increased pressure on the retail experience, retailers are focusing on maximizing the merchandising effectiveness of existing space.” —Craig Weiskerger, Trion Industries
EQUIPMENT & DESIGN
While the core components of the systems have not changed, recent years have brought new finish colors, shelving-back panel types and shelving accessories, along with new and less expensive lighting kits. For example: “Replacing the typical pegboard back panels with slatwall allows our clients to cross-merchandise much more easily because of the accessories available for slatwall,” Stirle says. “The retailer can now hang clothing at one end of the store on the same type of shelves that are displaying canned-food products at the other end of the store.” Plus, adding under-shelf lighting is more widely available due to the lower cost of LED lighting. Further, the custom finishes now available allow retailers to include company branding in the shelving purchase. “The days of only being able to answer the color question with ‘grocery store beige’ have now been replaced with, ‘Sure, you can have red and black shelving to match your logo,’” Stirle notes. “Personally, I do not see the shelving itself changing much in the grocery industry, nor does it really need to,” he says. “What I do see changing is the way products are displayed on the shelving throughout the store. Technology will definitely play a big role in this area. The use of club cards and other tracking sources will allow the retailer to be able to offer specials, brand promotion and other types of direct marketing to the customers while they are shopping. The use of TV screens, shelf lights and electronic signage placed on or near the shelves will be used to direct consumers to their products of choice, based on the data collected from the tracking sources.”
As the market for ESL picks up speed, the technology driving these devices has also evolved, with customer and in-store associate features to
improve sales and margins, and free up labor, says Paul Milner, marketing director at Displaydata, a U.K.-based company with an office in Atlanta. Ensuring price accuracy isn’t easy, especially for grocers, where as much as half of stock is on promotion at any given moment, Milner acknowledges. Displaydata’s research with London-based operational and management consulting firm Planet Retail emphasizes the need to showcase the right price, as this factor can make or break an in-store sale for 80 percent of respondents: Only 43 percent of shoppers surveyed said that they trust the price on a display shelf will be the same at checkout, while 53 percent believe that in-store prices are occasionally inaccurate. The research confirmed that “improving pricing and promotional strategy” is the top strategic priority for nearly half of respondents, with 65 percent of retailers not able to implement all of the price changes and promotions that they want. “Managed centrally, Displaydata’s ESLs allow retailers to control and change in-store pricing and promotions with speed, consistency and accuracy,” Milner says. “This consistency helps retailers avoid price errors and associated queues at customer service desks.” Reducing waste is also a strategic focus for grocers, Milner notes, adding that by using ESLs and dynamic pricing, retailers can strategically price perishable items throughout the day, encouraging shoppers Shelving to purchase those items before they spoil. will continue to play “We provide our ESL solutions to Kaufland, one of Europe’s biggest grocers, an integral part [in] store merchandising.” operating in seven countries with 1,270 stores and over 48,000 employees,” he —Bill Bender, Uniweb observes. “Kaufland strived to find a more agile way to promote offers, react to competitors’ changes, and increase the frequency of price markdowns to protect margins and reduce waste.” After Kaufland implemented Displaydata’s ESLs, operational costs associated with paper-based labeling were reduced, and the grocer transformed how it operates its fruit and vegetable areas, as well as improving service. “Displaydata’s ESLs also add value for the customers,” Milner notes, “with more detailed product information available on each label, such as nutritional values and source of origin, while the assurance of price accuracy builds trust, boosts loyalty and upholds the reputation of Kaufland.” Creating a digitally connected environment gives retailers the opportunity to meet many evolving consumer expectations. “As ecommerce sales continue to grow,” he concludes, “moving the store from an analog to a digital environment will help retailers to better blend their virtual and physical experiences and find new ways to ensure the store remains a fresh, engaging and rewarding place to visit.”
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Spotless Sales STANDOUTS IN THE CATEGORY INCLUDE SURFACE CLE ANERS, NATUR AL PRODUCTS. By Barbara Sax
he household cleaning category has been flatlining for a number of years, but a few bright spots exist in the sleepy category. While Chicago-based market researcher Mintel notes that a significant percentage of consumers — 32 percent — say they’re cleaning more often than they did a year ago, a trend the firm believes is motivated by “various health and emotional drivers, like reducing stress,” many retailers report stagnant sales. “Boomers can afford housekeepers, and Millennials require them,” observes Perry Hallett, buyer at Seabrook, Texas-based Arlan’s Market chain. “More consumers have disposable income, and housecleaning services are where the growth is.” While manufacturers continue to deliver innovation to the category, Rebecca Cullen, senior household care analyst at Mintel, maintains that “most categories have experienced minimal to no sales growth over the past five years.”
On the Surface
Innovation and specialization in surface-cleaning wipes have allowed that segment to contribute most of the category’s growth over the past year. “Wipes are evolving to deliver better scrubbing power and reduced lint, and brands are adding new fragrances and task-specific variants for specific surfaces like granite, glass and stainless steel,” notes Cullen. Dollar sales of household cleaner cloths were up more than 6 percent across all channels, according to data from Chicago-based IRI for the 52-week period ended July 14. All-purpose cleaning products are also driving growth as consumers favor products that deliver on convenience and simplify cleaning. All-purpose cleaner/disinfectant dollar sales significantly outpaced the category, with dollar sales up 4.7 percent. “We are seeing even more surface cleaners promote their ability to be used on a wide variety of surfaces, and this not only simplifies shopping, but also the usage of products,” says Cullen. Mintel’s research shows that 76 percent of consumers prefer multipurpose products, compared with only 24 percent who prefer specialized products, and manufacturers are taking notice. For instance, Stamford, Conn.-based Henkel North America recently introduced Soft Scrub Multi Surface cleanser, which can be used on more than 25 household surfaces.
Key Takeaways Despite minimal to no household cleaning category sales growth of late, the surface wipe and all-purpose surface cleaner segments are performing well, due to their innovation, specialization, convenience, and ability to simplify shopping and cleaning. Consumers are also embracing cleaners featuring natural ingredients that have less harmful effects on the environment, and branded and private label product formulators alike are taking note. All-new product attributes from emerging green brands include probiotic offerings that contribute to a healthy microbial balance by removing “bad” bacteria and leaving “good” bacteria in their place.
Benckiser launched Lysol Daily Cleaners, a line of cleaning products made with just three ingredients: water, salt and hypochlorous acid, which forms when chlorine dissolves in water. A powerful sanitizer, the acid is nontoxic, since it leaves behind no other residue other than salt when dry. “We are seeing brands coalesce around hero ingredients such as electrolyzed water (Lysol Daily Cleaners), plant-based ingredients and cabinet ingredients (Aunt Fannie’s vinegar-based products), to name a few,” says Cullen. Since major brands have been acquiring natural cleaning niche brands, distribution has been widening, pricing has become more competitive and promotion is more common in the category. In a 4-foot section it devotes to natural brands, including Mrs. Meyer’s, GreenWorks, Method and Seventh Generation, Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford Supermarkets, an Ahold Delhaize USA banner, uses shelf tags to highlight its “real savings every day” pricing on those products. Even private label brands are offering products with natural ingredients and aggressively promoting the category. Malvern, Pa.-based Acme, an Albertsons Cos. banner, recently promoted its Open Nature organic house-
It’s the innovations that make household-cleaning product formulas healthier and safer, with minimal impact on efficacy that’s “showing potential to really jump-start market growth around new attributes,” says Cullen. The influx of natural cleaning products that may offset concerns about harmful chemicals is another factor in the spike in cleaning products reported among consumers, according to Mintel. “The category is really hot when new products come out; then sales slow,” admits Judy Harris, assistant to the buyer at Edmond, Okla.-based Crest Foods. “We do pay a lot of attention to new items, so when the next big thing comes out, we’ll try it out.” Consumers are embracing cleaners with natural ingredients — among them baking soda, orange and vinegar — that have less harmful effects on the environment. Last year, Parsippany, N.J.-based Reckitt
PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
hold-cleaning products in a buyone-get-one promotion, featured its cleaning vinegar in an end cap display, and used in-aisle shelf tags to spotlight its natural toilet bowl cleaner and cleaning wipes. While the proportion of sales of natural cleaning products to traditional products depends on the demographics at each of Crest Foods’ eight stores, Harris says that the grocer is including natural cleaning options in all locations. “We try to offer two to three natural cleaning brands in the assortment,” she points out, including Mrs. Meyer’s and Seventh Generation. Harris has seen an uptick in sales of all-purpose natural cleaning products.
New Kinds of Clean
For her part, Cullen notes that a handful of green brands entering the market and bringing all-new product attributes to the category is doing a good job of aligning with ingredient interests or highlighting the use of recycled or biodegradable ingredients or packaging. For example, Counter Culture recently introduced a line of probiotic cleaning products that contribute to a healthy microbial balance by removing “bad” bacteria and leaving “good” bacteria in their place. “What sets our brand apart from others in the market is our commitment to pure, nontoxic ingredients,” says Michelle Perkins, founder of the Solana Beach, Calif.-based company. “Each product is made of
The niche probiotic cleaner segment will be one to watch as manufacturers find new ways to differentiate natural cleaning products in an increasingly crowded space.
Sweet Smell of Success Air fresheners and potpourri are segments that have seen an uptick in sales. All-channel data from Chicago-based IRI shows that air freshener dollar sales were up nearly 3 percent and potpourri/sachet sales were ahead nearly 7 percent across all channels for the 52-week period ended July 14. A number of new products are helping drive sales. Hoboken, N.J.-based Newell Brands’ Yankee Candle label, which had dollar sales increases of more than 60 percent this past year, according to IRI data, recently launched the Farmers Market Collection, a line of new fragrances for fall 2019. Another key category addition was Renuzit Snuggle, launched early this year, which includes four new scents and an expanded variety of product formats, including cones, oils, fabric sprays and automatic air fresheners. “Continued innovation, in both scents and formats, is key for growth
beneficial bacteria created through a natural fermentation process. The strategic grouping of 13 probiotic strains produces beneficial compounds that break down dirt, grease, grime and odors.” The line is currently carried in a number of Whole Foods Market locations as well as in other natural food chains. Product packaging is becoming a bigger focus, since state governments are beginning to mandate ingredient disclosure. “Some forward-looking brands view next-generation transparency as an opportunity and have launched their own voluntary programs,” says Cullen, noting that Racine, Wis.-based SC Johnson’s What’s Inside initiative goes beyond basic ingredient disclosure to discuss the purpose of each ingredient and its known health impacts. “The move recognizes that consumers are getting better at ingredient research and are looking for forthright honesty as a decision-making tool,” she observes. “What’s Inside makes SC Johnson a partner in this effort.”
in the air care category,” says Patrick Davis, SVP, marketing-laundry and home care at Stamford, Conn.-based Henkel North America. “We also know that the category is impulsive, driven by scents, and that there is cross-purchase behavior between air care and fabric finishers.” The new line brings together two well-known brands, offered in multiple scents and formats, adds Davis. “Ensuring this variety is in a highly visible location for the shopper, leveraging end cap opportunities and our merchandising support, will help drive impulse purchases and maximize retailers’ sales,” he notes. “We’re working with retailers on a variety of merchandising programs and tools, including digital and printed coupons, and in-store floorstands.” Malvern, Pa.-based Acme recently featured Henkel’s Renuzit Snuggle floorstand, as well as a floorstand featuring Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble’s Febreze sprays and solids in its household-cleaning aisle.
UNITED STATES MARKETS • Convenience • Grocery/Drug/Mass Store Brands • Specialty Gourmet Technology • Hospitality • Apparel CANADIAN MARKETS • Convenience • Pharmacy • Foodservice ADVERTIS ING SALES & BUSINES S STAFF EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN Alan Glass firstname.lastname@example.org CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Jennifer Litterick email@example.com CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Joel Hughes firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHER John Schrei 248-613-8672 email@example.com SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER (NEW ENGLAND, SOUTHEAST) Maggie Kaeppel 708-565-5350 firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER (CA, PACIFIC NORTHWEST) Judy Hayes 925-785-9665 email@example.com SENIOR MARKETING MANAGER (MIDWEST) Theresa Kossack 214-226-6468 firstname.lastname@example.org REGIONAL SALES MANAGER (SOUTHWEST) Tammy Rokowski 248-514-9500 email@example.com ADVERTISING MANAGER Jackie Batson 224-632-8183 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute W4-W5 Atkins Nutritionals Inc. 35 Bake’n Joy Foods 39 Baker Boy 25 Bascom Family Farms 95 Biro Manufacturing 62 Blount Fine Foods Inside Front Cover-3 Calico Brands 63 Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, LLC 59 Curaleaf Hemp 9 Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc. 99 Domino Foods 13 E&J Gallo Winery W19 Elmhurst 1925 65 Enstrom Candies Inc. 41 FoodStory Brands 47 General Mills Marketing, Inc. 93 Golden West Food Group 61 Goya Foods Inc. 15 Hormel Foods W10- W11 Inline Plastics Corp. 17 Iovate Health Sciences Int’l Inc. 55 Jasmine Vineyards 54 Jensen Meat 50-51 Litehouse 37, 101 Loomis 4 Mann Packing Co., Inc. 103 Mars Chocolate NA/ Wrigley 7 MasonWays Indestructible Plastics 110 Materne North America 49 Mettler Toledo 107 MillerCoors LLC 33, W3, W20 Nastar Inc 115 Newlyweds Foods 42-43 New Pig 109 Organic Valley Family Of Farms Back Cover Premier Nutrition 19 Private Label Manufacturers Association 117 Produce Marketing Association 104 Saltworks 57 Saputo Cheese W14-W15 Siffron 113 Stemilt Growers, Inc. 58 Supervalu Inc. 111 The Food Group 29 The Happy Egg Company 91 The J.M. Smucker Company 11 Thermal Technologies Inc. 105 The Spice Lab 62 The Wonderful Company Cover Tip Truly Good Foods 102 Tyson - Brand Solutions 27 Uncommon Flavors of Europe 53 Unilever North America 23 Uniweb Inc. Inside Back Cover PROGRESSIVE GROCER September 2019
By Abby Kleckler
“Look, a Robot!” IN-STORE ROBOTS CONTINUE TO SHIF T FROM NOVELT Y TO NORMAL. arlier this year — Memorial Day Weekend, to be precise — I was in New Jersey for a family reunion and had to run to the grocery store. I pulled into the nearest Stop & Shop, walked through the doors, rounded the corner to the chip aisle, and that’s when I saw him. Marty, the in-store robot, was there to greet me with his googly eyes and tall stature. If you remember from a handful of months ago, this was right around the time I joined Progressive Grocer, and I knew that instore robots existed, but I hadn’t seen one in any of my Chicago-area stores. I refrained from creating a spill on the floor just to hear Marty mention a hazard and notify employees, but I did witness a child following him around wherever he went and another customer clearly embracing the novelty factor and snapping a photo. Of course, I know now that Marty is in more than 500 Ahold Delhaize USA banner stores, and robots are in place at other grocers such as Midwest-based Schnuck Markets, as well as Target Corp. and Walmart. They have varying capabilities, from identifying out-of-stock products to validating prices to cleaning up spills. Progressive Grocer recently posted a video of a stock-checking robot in action at Walmart’s flagship store in Rogers, Ark., and responses varied from “What?! This is amazing!” to “Pain, and they are finding ways to take jobs away.” Both responses are valid, but the bigger picture is the value proposition of what these robots can do, versus the labor rate. “Robots work; people rule,” Erik Nieves, founder of San Antonio-based Plus One Robotics, asserted at a Zebra Technologies event I attended this past summer. “Any time you’re dealing with variability, there will be people. It’s not one robot in and one person out.” Nieves was specifically referring to a warehouse setting (see more on automation in micro fulfillment centers on page 106), but the equation is the same with in-store robots. Robotics can help mitigate the effects of a 122
labor shortage and increasing wages, but they can also free up employees from monotonous tasks to do more valuable work.
An Attractive Component for Shoppers
Marty the robot roams the aisles of more than 500 Ahold Delhaize USA banner stores to address spills and messes before they become hazards for shoppers.
In addition to offsetting labor, robots must help grocers differentiate themselves as a better shopping experience to complete the value proposition. Dan Rasmussen, SVP at Germantown, Md.-based Hughes Network Systems, works with companies to establish a higher level of wi-fi connectivity and bandwidth that extends into the furthest corners of the store, a necessity when implementing robots in grocery. In a recent conversation, Rasmussen laid out when a company can really make a case for the success of a robot. “The goal of automation drifting into just being part of the scenery and not noticed is where you’ll really get a feel for if it is delivering the benefit,” says Rasmussen. “Then, does that robotic infrastructure enable the customer experience to grow from the merchant perspective of making it better because inventory is in the right place and priced correctly, and the customer just comes in and out very quickly? Or is it safety and security and a cleaner environment, because you’ve got a tool that’s always keeping things clean?” Inventory and store cleanliness ultimately become part of the consumer experience, and in a world driven more extensively by online shopping, this experience becomes part of the draw of a physical retailer. Marty doesn’t require much bandwidth to recognize and notify employees of a spill. When you get deeper into computer vision and robots that can recognize exactly what’s on the shelf, how many of the products there are, and that they are in the right place with the right shelf tag, that can get more demanding.
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