United for the consumer

At this year’s United Fresh, the talk was about making the produce aisle an easier and more inviting place to shop.

By Seth Mendelson

It is all about convenience and value for the consumer,” said one retailer walking around United Fresh 2010 in Las Vegas in late April. “And it appears that the suppliers and producers are completely onboard with it. There is a tremendous amount of innovation here and I think they get it.”

That may have been the overall feeling from the three-day show. The key, many say, is getting products on retail shelves that consumers want and make their shopping experience more pleasant and productive.

Here is a sampling of some items introduced at the show:

Ready Pac
Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac is offering Ready Snax, three-compartment tray items that feature a fruit or vegetable, dip and cheese. There are eight SKUs in the line and they are priced at $1.99 each. The company is also offering Bistro Salads, an 8-SKU line featuring single-serve salads with fresh lettuces, protein toppings, dressing and a fork. Both products have less than 300 calories per serving. The company added two varieties: cherry almond crunch with feta cheese and smokehouse barbeque-style chicken with beans and spicy cheese. The salads are priced at $3.99.

Ready Pac is also offering the Ready Snax fresh fruit parfait, featuring fresh fruit, granola and yogurt. The five SKUs have a suggested retail price of $2.99 each. “Our goal is to let retailers know that Ready Pac has the snacking and quick meal solutions to fit their needs,” says Ali Leon, senior director-strategic business development for the company. “Snacking has become the second most popular meal. Retailers need to have solution available to help drive impulse sales.”

Potandon is offering Green Giant fresh potato steamers in a sauce in four flavors: 4-cheese, roasted garlic, mesquite bacon and 3-chili. The potatoes can be prepared in about four minutes in a microwave. They are priced at $2.99 each.

The company is also re-introducing five SKUs of Klondike potatoes as well as offering Klondike Express, which are shelf-stable potatoes that can be quickly prepared.

“We think that by introducing new potato products to a relatively flat category we can help generate additional interest in the category,” says Steve Ottum, COO of the Idaho Falls, Idaho-based company. “It is all about coming up with quick, nutritious healthy side dishes.”

The Garlic Co.
The Garlic Co. is introducing a 30-ounce stand-up bag with half-ounce individually-sealed pouches to ensure greater freshness. According to Corinne Pettit, retail sales manager for the Bakersfield, Calif.-based company, there are three to four cloves per pouch, which is the amount of garlic called for in most recipes. The product has a suggested retail price of $2.29. “It will provide longer shelf life and more consumer-friendly packaging,” she says.

The company also introduced Garlic Bits, which are all-natural garlic that is roasted and sautéed. The product is available in three sizes: 2.5 ounces, 4 ounces and 12 ounces.

“It is great on everything, including salads and pizza and can be used as an ingredient when preparing a meal,” Pettit adds.

Wholly Guacamole
Whollly Guacamole in releasing Wholly Queso, a  mix of cheddar cheese, vegetables and spices, in two SKUs: yellow (classic) and white (blanco). The product is offered in 14-ounce packaging and is priced between $3.99 and $4.99.

“We think this is a unique item to add to the produce department,” says Jay Alley, vice president of sales for the Saginaw, Texas-based company. “Also, we think this will nicely complement the guacamole items and help to create a destination department within the overall section. It will help boost retail sales.”
Wholly Guacamole offers more than 100 SKUs, including salsa, guacamole and queso products.

Prime Time International
Officials at Prime Time International want retailers to know that they have them covered—at least as far as peppers are concerned. The Coachella, Calif.-based company has developed a supply line that allows them to offer fresh peppers throughout the year. It uses land that extends across California and into Mexico.

Mike Aiton, dir­ector of marketing for the company, says the company uses hothouses, mesh houses, integrated pest management, drip irrigation, third-party testing and five state-of-the-art packaging facilities to make sure the product reaches retail shelves in excellent condition.

“Retailers know that when they use Prime Time they will have a consistent supply line of product,” he adds. “We have complete control over the entire process and that translates into a better product at retail shelves.”

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