Get Adobe Flash player

Conventional Grocers Losing Ground with Millennials

Revamped grocery store environments and new food shopping formats prove that Millennials are having a profound impact on the food shopping landscape. According to the report, “Food Shopping in America,” by MSLGROUP and The Hartman Group, Millennials’ food purchase decisions are driven by their unique consumption patterns, constraints on budget and spontaneity. These factors differ from older generations and offer brands major challenges and big opportunities to attract these shoppers.

“Millennials are more spontaneous and adventurous than previous generations in their interactions with food and beverage,” says Laurie Demeritt, CEO of The Hartman Group. “Millennials’ strong ties to technology and new ways of engaging with food and beverage occasions make this generation’s shopping and dining habits worth watching, not just for clues about what young adults want but for ways that Millennials are influencing changes across generations.”

The report finds that traditional grocery’s less differentiated positioning is gradually losing ground to the better value and convenience often found in mass/super channel. Among Millennials, mainstream grocery’s position is particularly precarious. Less than 10 percentage points separate the two channels (63 percent of Millennials shop at mass/super vs. 69 percent at mainstream grocery). Millennials are also more likely than older generations to shop two or more stores on each visit to purchase all of the items they need.

“Brands must adapt to connect directly with the Millennial shopper,” says Steve Bryant, MSLGROUP Director of Food and Beverage Marketing. “Millennials value companies that are authentic and transparent, and are more willing to connect with companies that try to address their needs. Marketing efforts should focus on carefully tailored, personalized communications, with a focus on both convenience and affordability.”

Understand and Attract the Millennial Shopper

Budget Limits Choice
Millennials face more budget constraints than Gen X or Boomers+. Nearly half (49 percent) said household budget limitations were the top issue making shopping more difficult. Millennials’ median household income ($37.5K) is significantly lower than that of Gen X ($62.5K) or Boomers+ ($72.5K).

Connect with Millennials on Mobile Devices
Millennials are active and connected shoppers – most (70 percent) use their mobile devices while shopping for tasks like checking a shopping list kept online or on their device, contacting another family member, searching for a coupon and finding a recipe. This creates an opportunity for brands to connect with them via mobile commerce.

Personal Recommendations are Key
While price has the most impact on Millennials’ food choices, they also highly value personal recommendations from friends and family as well as peer reviews when making purchase decisions. Personalized marketing efforts that leverage referrals from Millennials’ own social networks will be more effective than endorsements from an outside source.

Unique Mix of Items in Their Cart
Millennials tend to purchase a unique mix of prepared, convenience items, such as frozen pizza, as well as specialty items, such as baby and pet foods, organics, dairy alternatives and sports drinks.

About the Report
“Food Shopping in America” is a nationally syndicated report published by MSLGROUP and The Hartman Group. The report is an in-depth exploration into how consumers plan, decide, shop and divide their loyalties in the era of unlimited choices and blurring of channels.

Raymond W. Kelly Joins Hain Celestial Board of Directors

Raymond W. Kelly has been elected to the board of directors of the Hain Celestial Group, Inc. effective August 13, 2015.  Kelly, who served as the Police Commissioner of the City of New York for 14 years, has been President of Risk Management Services for Cushman and Wakefield, Inc. since March 2014, which offers clients tailored solutions to manage and mitigate risks around the world.  In his role he focuses on helping clients identify potential vulnerabilities to prepare and manage risk across critical areas including physical and cyber security, crisis management, due diligence and site selection as well as emergency preparedness.

“We are honored to have Ray join our board of directors,” commented Irwin D. Simon, Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Hain Celestial.  “Ray’s worldwide range of experience and insight into critical issues facing companies today will make Ray a valuable addition to our board of directors.”

Prior to joining Cushman and Wakefield, Kelly had a 50-year tenure in public service, as one of the worlds’ most well-known and highly esteemed leaders in law enforcement.  In New York City, he established the first counterterrorism bureau of any municipal police department in the country as well as a global intelligence program and established a real-time crime center, a state of the art facility using data mining.  He also served as Commissioner of the U.S. Customers Service and as Undersecretary for Enforcement at the U.S. Treasury Department, where he supervised the department’s enforcement bureaus including the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.  He holds a BBA from Manhattan College, a JD from St. John’s University School of Law, an LLM from New York University Graduate School of Law and an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in addition to numerous honorary degrees.

With the addition of Kelly to Hain Celestial’s Board of Directors there are now eight board members.

Kroger Announces Creation of Two Supermarket Divisions in Texas

The Kroger Co. has announced the establishment of two new supermarket divisions, a Dallas division and a Houston division. Previously, both markets were served as part of Kroger’s Southwest division.

Kroger also announced that Dana Zurcher has been promoted to serve as President of the company’s new Dallas division. Bill Breetz, who has been serving as President of the Southwest division since 2002, will continue to oversee operations in Texas and Louisiana for the remainder of the year, and serve as President of the new Houston division.

“Kroger is committed to growing and serving our customers in the great state of Texas, and in our important Louisiana markets,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO.

The company has previously outlined capital investment plans of approximately $700 million in Dallas-Fort Worth and $500 million in Houston over the next three years.

“We see opportunities for growth in both Dallas and Houston thanks in large part to Bill’s leadership the past 13 years,” McMullen added. “This move will bring resources closer to our store teams, customers and communities.”

Kroger’s new Dallas division includes 105 stores in the Dallas and Fort Worth markets and in the Shreveport and Alexandria, Louisiana area. The new Houston division includes 109 stores in the greater Houston region, as well as stores in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Dana Zurcher Named President of New Dallas Division

Dana Zurcher, currently Vice President of Operations for the Southwest division, has been promoted to President of Kroger’s Dallas division, effective October 1.

“Dana’s experience spans several retail divisions, and she understands nearly every aspect of our business,” said McMullen. “She is an exceptional leader who is known for helping associates discover their full potential. We are excited to have Dana lead our team inDallas.”

 Zurcher brings 30 years of leadership experience to her new role. She began her Kroger career in Indianapolis store management in 1985. She served in a number of leadership roles in the Central division, including store manager and district coordinator. In 2002, she was named a district manager in the company’s Fry’s division in Phoenix. In 2008, she was promoted to director of operations for the Ralphs division in Los Angeles, where she served until she was promoted to vice president of operations for Kroger’s Mid-South division in 2011. She has served in her current role since 2013.

Kroger, one of the world’s largest retailers, employs nearly 400,000 associates who serve customers in 2,626 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.  The company also operates 780 convenience stores, 327 fine jewelry stores, 1,342 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S.  Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and community organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 200 million meals a year through more than 100 Feeding America food bank partners. A leader in supplier diversity, Kroger is a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber’s Million Dollar Club.

Sir Kensington’s Announces $8.5 Million in New Funding

Condiment company Sir Kensington’s has announced the completion of a $8.5 million Series A equity financing round. In five years, Sir Kensington’s has become the fastest growing condiment brand in Whole Foods and is the ketchup of choice for hundreds of restaurants and hotels nationwide, including the Ritz Carlton, Bareburger, PJ Clarke’s, and The Spotted Pig.

All of Sir Kensington’s ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard products are Non-GMO Project Verified and are made with simple, whole ingredients. Funds will be used to accelerate distribution growth in the North American natural grocery and foodservice channels, expand product offerings and make key hires.

Led by Verlinvest, the investment demonstrates the continued commitment of Verlinvest to early stage growth capital investments in emerging consumer businesses. Verlinvest’s previous investments in the U.S. include innovative consumer product brands, including category pioneers vitaminwater, Vita Coco, popchips, Hint, and Sambazon.

“We’re excited to support Sir Kensington’s growth ambitions in the US and internationally,” said Verlinvest’s Chairman, Frederic de Mevius. “We look forward to furthering this brand’s reach as the leading premium condiment company.”

Alongside Verlinvest, private investors in the round include individuals with entrepreneurial experience in consumer products, restaurant hospitality and consumer marketing. These investors include Mike Kirban, Founder of Vita CocoDavid Barber, Co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns; the Co-founders of Sweetgreen through SWTLF Ventures; Andrew Essex, Founder of Droga5; and Chris Burggraeve, former Global CMO of AB InBev. Burggraeve will also join the company’s board to provide strategic marketing guidance to the growing brand.

“With Verlinvest’s investment, we’re looking forward to continue bringing choice to the condiment market.” said Mark Ramadan and Scott Norton, Co-Founders of Sir Kensington’s. “Through this partnership, we’ll be able to take what we’ve done at a small scale and bring it to more people than ever.”

America’s Pig Farmer of the Year Competition to Award Humane Treatment

Building on its commitment to grow consumer trust in all aspects of U.S. pork production, the National Pork Board announced an expert judging panel that brings a new, broad-based and transparent approach to selecting its first-ever America’s Pig Farmer of the Year.

Members of the five-member panel include Dr. Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane Association; Carlos Saviani, Vice President of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) U.S. food team; Mitzi Dulan, a registered dietitian and nationally recognized nutrition and wellness expert to the Kansas City Royals; Chris Soules, a Farmer from Arlington, Iowa, and television star from “The Bachelor” and “Dancing with the Stars;” and Dr. Jodi Sterle, an Associate Professor of Animal Xcience at Iowa State University and nationally known youth advisor in livestock exhibition.

“We are very pleased to have such a diverse and impressive group of experts to judge the finalists in the very first America’s Pig Farmer of the Year Award,” said Derrick Sleezer, National Pork Board President and Pig Farmer from Cherokee, Iowa. “It was important to our farmer leaders that we create a unique judging panel that was not only objective, but brought a whole new level of diversity of views to the table. And with this group, we think we accomplished that goal.”

Looking forward to the finalist judging slated for September 1, Ganzert said, “As an animal lover and the leader of the country’s first national humane organization, I am honored to have been asked to serve as a judge for America’s Pig Farmer of the Year. American Humane Association celebrates all those, including our nation’s farmers, who care for animals and work hard to ensure they are treated humanely. Today, more than ever it is important not only to point out where progress is needed, but to recognize when we get it right. I look forward to learning about these farmers who are working to give America’s families food that is safe, affordable, abundant and in line with their values.”

Joining Ganzert on the judging panel will be WWF’s Saviani, who said, “I’m really excited for the opportunity to participate in this new award and to learn more about how the pork industry and pig farmers are concerned, dealing with and addressing sustainability.”

The entire expert panel of judges will gather in Chicago to fulfill their duties. They will judge an on-farm video produced at each of the four finalists’ farms and then conduct an in-person interview with each one. The public can view each finalist’s video and cast its vote for its favorite farmer from Sept. 1 through 10 by going to The final winner will be announced October 7.

McCrea’s Candies: Sophisticated Flavors from Simple Ingredients

By Lorrie Baumann

McCrea’s Candies is a small New England candy maker with a product line exclusively composed of high-quality caramels elegantly packaged for gift-giving. Founded almost five years ago by husband-and-wife team Jason and Kate McCrea, McCrea’s Candies are made without corn syrup or artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

“Our flavors are done just like you’d do it in your own kitchen,” Jason says. “For ginger, we juice the root and add the juice to our candy. For our Single-malt Scotch flavor, we use real single-malt Scotch and pour that right into the batch.”

The McCreas were research biologists before they decided to start their candy company, and they use that scientific bent as they develop new flavors of their caramels today. “Understanding food chemistry helps enhance the flavors, and I use chemistry to understand how flavors come together and how to make nice balances. That’s really what we do,” says Jason. The McCreas currently offer 14 flavors, including Irish Coffee, Cafe Noir, Dark Roasted Mocha, Ginger Fusion, Rosemary Truffle Sea Salt, Highland Scotch and Tapped Maple.

McCrea’s Candies are now elegantly packaged for the gift trade after the McCreas learned from their customers that they loved the candies so much that they wanted to share them with their friends, so they were buying them as housewarming and hostess gifts, to send to children away at college or to present to dads on Fathers Day. “We do a lot of farmer’s markets around here, and customers would tell us,” Jason says. “They’d say, ‘I bought three sleeves and we ate them all, but I’d meant to give them to my son when he comes home from school, so now I need more.’ There’s no substitute for being out and talking to customers and listening to them telling you what they want. They’ll tell you the truth; ‘I like this; I don’t like that.’”

“We thought that was very interesting,” he continues. “We never had been going to gift shows – we had been going to food shows, but we decided to listen to our consumers and what they want to have and how we can accommodate them.”

As a result of those conversations the McCrea’s recently redesigned their packaging to focus less on the candy’s all-natural simplicity and more on its sophisticated flavors and high quality – without changing the recipes for the candy inside the packages. The product line’s packaging now includes two sizes of cylindrical sleeves plus a new-to-the line pillow box and a large party box that’s popular with customers who take them to dinner parties instead of a bottle of wine or present them as corporate gifts.

The Mill Fudge Factory Offers Mouth-Watering Gifts for 2015 Holiday Season

In time for the 2015 holiday season, the family-owned and operated Mill Fudge Factory & Ice Cream Café is now offering its delectable line of hand-crafted fudge nationally through its online shop at the The Bristol, New Hampshire-based small business, founded by the Munro family in 2006, uses the family’s secret Scottish recipe and 100 percent natural ingredients to create authentic fudge unlike any that can be found on this side of the Atlantic.

The Mill Fudge Factory fudge is available in an assortment of classic and inventive flavors, including Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate Walnut, Natural Peanut Butter, Scottish Whiskey, Pure New Hampshire Maple, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Pumpkin Pie and much more. The Factory also offers an assortment of decadent truffles and toffee. All confections are available in gift baskets and elegant sampler boxes.

“We take pride in creating fudge true to the recipe of my grandfather in Scotland and we do it right here in New England,” said Mill Fudge Factory Co-Owner and General Manager Noah Munro. “People tell us they can taste the care we put into our fudge. We’re so happy that we can now share it with folks across the U.S. Our fudge makes for a unique Halloween treat, a great addition to the Thanksgiving table and a fabulous Christmas or Hanukkah gift.”

Report: Non-GMO Products Growing in the Marketplace

In a global food and beverage market with retail value in U.S. dollars of more than $5 trillion, non-GMO products accounted for $550 billion of that total in 2014, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts. With sales of $200 billion for non-GMO foods and beverages, the United States accounts for 36 percent of the overall global non-GMO total.

In the U.S., there is a steady, ongoing increase in the number of products identified as non-GMO, notes David Sprinkle, Research Director for Packaged Facts. New non-GMO product launches in the U.S. have been estimated to be about 2,000 per year, up from just a few hundred a decade ago. This is taking place in both the retail market and in foodservice. Driving the market is an expanding consumer desire to have healthier foods with fewer added ingredients or an aspects that are not “natural,” even though that term has not been officially defined by either the Food and Drug Administration or by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Organic and natural foods accounted for the lion’s share of domestic non-GMO sales at 60 percent of the U.S. market last year. Packaged Facts projects that this share will increase to about three-fourths of overall non-GMO retail sales by 2019. The increase of organic/natural as a part of non-GMO reflects:

  • 1) the increasing popularity of organic food specifically and natural foods more generally with American consumers;
  • 2) the linkage between organic and non-GMO in consumer understanding;
  • 3) and the probability that there will be no resolution on a national level regarding mandatory GMO labeling on food and beverage products.

Looking ahead on a larger scale, Packaged Facts forecasts the total global market for non-GMO foods and beverages will almost double by 2019 due to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 percent between 2014-2019, outpacing the CAGR for U.S. non-GMO sales. Nevertheless, the U.S. share of the global non-GMO market will hold at about one third.

Marie’s Dreams Seedless Cloudberry Preserve


marie'sAs A1 Tradehouse Corp., a Finnish Quality Product Company, launches its Marie’s Dreams brand made for the U.S. market, it wants to take us “back to the ’50s in a positive way.”

“The core of Marie’s Dreams brand is quality and enjoyment, but our vision is also to offer people something their parents and grandparents got in the 1950′s,” says Pekka Rantajarvi, CEO at A1 Tradehouse Corp.

“When people buy a Marie’s Dreams product, they know they get the real thing,” tells Rantajarvi. “Like in the ’50s, when the things were what they were supposed to be. Those days a scooter was made to last more than three months, and you didn’t need to read the small print to make sure you were not fooled. Today’s consumers face a much harder reality. We want to turn back the clock in a positive way!”

The first product out is Marie’s Dreams Seedless Cloudberry Preserve with 45percent wild cloudberries from the clean Arctic nature of northern Finland. “It’s delicious with ice cream, cheese, whipped cream, waffles!” says Rantajarvi.

“I know somebody can launch a product with much less berries for a better profit, but that’s not what Marie’s Dreams is about. We want to give people the real stuff when they buy a Marie’s Dreams product,” says Rantajarvi. “Marie is a young American woman who wants to enjoy real things. She also wants to share her love for quality with all Americans who want to have real stuff. I encourage everybody to visit to learn more about Marie and her dreams.”

Marie’s Dreams Seedless Cloudberry Preserve is available at selected specialty stores and quality food groceries starting in October.


Celestial Seasonings Unveils Refreshed Tea Packaging

Celestial Seasonings new logo Celestial Seasonings®, a brand of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., has unveiled its fresh new brand look and feel–including refreshed tea packaging that highlights the brand’s heritage and a new, contemporary logo.

“We’re excited to introduce our refreshed packaging to consumers since we think the new boxes are an even better reflection of the Celestial Seasonings® goodness inside,” said Tom Arcuri, vice president of sales and marketing at Celestial Seasonings, Inc. “We kept the elements that our consumers loved from our previous boxes and built upon them to appeal to an even wider audience.”

The refreshed packaging blends many of the heritage elements for which the brand is known–including commissioned tea box art featuring iconic characters like Sleepytime® Bear–with a contemporary design. Consumers will find the same high-quality teas inside–the brand has not changed any of its recipes and continues to source its ingredients and blend its teas according to its strict “Blended With Care: From Seed to Sip” standard for purity and quality.

Celestial Seasonings maintains its strong belief in social responsibility, so its refreshed packaging will continue to feature an earth-friendly design. The brand’s cartons are still biodegradable and recyclable, and its signature tea bag omits strings, staples and individual wrappers–saving 3.5 million pounds of material from landfills every year.

The first Celestial Seasonings teas in refreshed packaging are available on store shelves now, with the full new shelf set expected to be in place by the fall. All items will also available at the Celestial Seasonings Online Store.

Gourmet News

Follow me on Twitter