Key Trends Observed at United Fresh Show and FMI Connect 2016
Fresh gets more convenient and diversifies varieties
Fresh food producers continue to adapt their new product developments in response to the need for convenience. On display were a variety of portable on-the-go product offerings with healthy, minimally processed fresh food components.
Single serve snackable combo packs were prominent. PRO²snax showed off sliced apples with nuts and cheese cubes promoting the healthy combination of produce and protein. Good Foods showcased cups of mango quinoa salad with edamame. Some fresh products touted the simplicity of single ingredients while using packaging to help increase consumption occasions. Fruit purées aimed at children featured Buddy Fruits’ flexible plastic tubes or Crunch Pak’s Blendz squeezable pouches.
Also, there was a greater emphasis on fresh foods applied in minimalistic recipes of shelf-stable packaged foods. Crunchies freeze-dried beets in a resealable, flexible stand-up pouch and Kitchen22’s cold pressed soups stood out as innovative and attractive offerings. Convenient meal solutions such as The Little Potato Company’s microwave and grill ready packs of seasoned potatoes help respond to the need for simple meal preparation. Dole’s soon-to-be launched Caesar salad kit recommends grilling the romaine lettuce before topping with the remaining ingredients.
Variety was again on display as well to help boost consumption. Tomatoes, citrus fruits, peppers and potatoes were showcased for various uses – salads, sandwiches, grilling, juicing, cocktails etc.
Checkouts in Focus
Front-end impulse sales were another important topic for food retailers at the event. For many, impulse sales at store checkouts are a channel under siege, with the proliferation of self-checkouts and the rise of internet retailing representing major threats. Self-checkouts have much less shelf space for candy, gum or other impulse items, and also require the active attention and participation of the consumer. Both of these factors limit impulse sales relative to traditional checkouts. At the same time, a small but rapidly-growing e-commerce channel eliminates the physical checkout process entirely, making impulse sales almost irrelevant.
For this reason, FMI Connect explored potential solutions for this important section of the store. One presentation by Bill Dusek, Ron Hughes and William Romollino encouraged retailers to optimise their front-end merchandise mix to maximise sales. While some retailers experiment with a more diverse mix of products at the front-end, a careful analysis of household penetration, purchase frequency, share of front-end sales and product impulsiveness revealed that retailers should devote at least 80% of shelf-space to three “power categories” – namely beverages, confectionery and magazines. Consumers are most likely to purchase these categories if they are present, and retailers that move too far from this product “core” found that front-end sales actually suffered. Several exhibitors at the event also showcased technological innovations like bright LED lighting or high-tech beverage coolers that capture the attention of consumers during the self-checkout process. At the checkout, most consumers have finished the “shopping” portion of their trip and are looking to leave. For this reason, exhibitors at FMI showcased innovations that can capture consumer attention and drive that final impulsive decision to buy at the checkout. The pictures below showcase several of these innovative new concepts.
Good fat, good sales
Consumers’ negative perception of fat has dramatically changed in previous years, and now many consider foods high in “good fats” such as avocados and nuts as a key element of a healthy diet. This trend was clear in The United Fresh Show were manufactures showcased avocados in a variety of presentations.
Nowadays, many consumers can’t afford to sacrifice health nor convenience, and both small and big manufacturers of fruits and vegetables have understood this need. As a result, in addition to fresh avocados presented in the large stand of “Avocados Mexico”, manufactures also showcased more convenient formats. One example was the guacamole brand “Wholly Guacamole”, which was exhibiting its already popular Classic flavor in addition to other varieties including Hatch Chile and Three Chile. In the exhibitor the brand highlighted the “home made” taste and the convenience of the product as key selling points. As the healthy fats trend continues gaining relevance, fruits and vegetables that contain them, have a lot of potential for growth among the increasing segment of health conscious consumers. These products have an even large opportunity when the convenience factor is added.