WhiteWave in the 'sweet spot'

by Monica Watrous
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Sir Bananas, dairy beverage featuring reduced-fat milk and real bananas in chocolate and original varieties, WhiteWave Foods
WhiteWave recently introduced Sir Bananas, a premium dairy beverage featuring reduced-fat milk and real bananas.

BOCA RATON, FLA. — The WhiteWave Foods Co. is in the “sweet spot of where consumers are going,” said Gregg Engles, chairman and chief executive officer.

Gregg Engles, WhiteWave
Gregg Engles, chairman and c.e.o. of WhiteWave

“More consumers than ever are looking for products with simple and clean ingredients,” Mr. Engles said during a Feb. 18 presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York meeting at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. “At WhiteWave we constantly strive to understand what motivates consumers across multiple trends and categories. We’ve built a portfolio that is aligned with these trends and provides consumers with innovative, great-tasting food and beverage choices that meet their growing interest in nutritious, flavorful, convenient and responsibly produced products.”

Nearly 75% of the company’s portfolio is non-G.M.O. or organic, said Blaine McPeak, chief operating officer of the Denver-based company, whose brands include Silk, Horizon, Earthbound Farm and International Delight. WhiteWave maintains leading positions in the premium dairy, fresh foods and plant-based food and beverage categories, he said.

Blaine McPeak, Whitewave Foods
Blaine McPeak, c.o.o. of WhiteWave

“But to stay ahead of this curve we need insights, we need creativity, and we needed a much better facility,” Mr. McPeak said. “So in 2015, we completed the buildout of our new R.&D. center; we refer to it as the Green House. This is where we nurture ideas into successful commercial innovations.

“We tripled the size of the facility. We enhanced our development in pilot plant capabilities, and it was built with the mind toward creativity as well as collaboration.”

A recent innovation from the company is Sir Bananas, a premium dairy beverage featuring reduced-fat milk and bananas in chocolate and original varieties.

Kevin Yost, WhiteWave Foods
Kevin Yost, U.S. Group president of Americas Foods and Beverages

“This innovation provides the sweet, creamy taste that kids love and the wholesome nutrition that parents love,” said Kevin Yost, U.S. Group president of Americas Foods and Beverages. “We just launched this product in test markets, so it’s very early in its roll-out. We’re encouraged by the initial results, and the opportunity is sizable. You see, bananas are a $2 billion category. They’re the most-consumed and popular fruit in the United States; 94% of households with kids purchase bananas monthly.”

New products from WhiteWave’s Earthbound brand include cooking vegetable blends, slaw blends and salad blends.

New products from WhiteWave’s Earthbound brand include new cooking vegetable blends, slaw blends and flavorful salad blends.

“And we’re pushing Earthbound beyond salad,” Mr. Yost said. “We see sizable, near-in opportunities in frozen. The frozen organic category has been growing almost 40% over the last year, and it still has a very low penetration rate, at 3% of the overall frozen category.

“With Earthbound now under the Americas Foods & Beverages segment, we will combine WhiteWave’s C.P.G. capabilities with Earthbound’s fresh produce expertise and build out more innovation and more growth.”

WhiteWave is expanding its International Delight coffee creamer portfolio with new Simply Pure varieties, featuring five simple ingredients, including sugar, milk and cream.

WhiteWave is expanding its International Delight coffee creamer portfolio with new Simply Pure varieties.

“Our overall broad coffee creamer portfolio satisfies all coffee occasions,” Mr. Yost said. “We deliver on the growing consumer demand for personalization in their coffee experience, from plain whitening to organic to plant-based to flavored and even premium creamers.”

The latest addition to the Silk lineup is Nutchello, a line of nut-based beverages in three varieties, including toasted coconut and cashews, rich dark chocolate and walnuts, and caramel almonds and cashews.

“Did you know that today over 60% of Silk consumption is in the cereal bowl?” Mr. Yost said. “We’re pushing beyond the bowl with the introduction of Nutchello. Three unique flavors make this beverage indulgent; but it’s nutritious and low-calorie.”

Nutchello is a line of nut-based beverages in three varieties.

Beyond innovation, building stronger retail partnerships also is a priority of WhiteWave.

“With our premium brands and high-growth categories, the average WhiteWave shopping basket is worth 82% more than the average shopper's basket,” Mr. McPeak said. “So we clearly have retailers’ attention.”
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