Convenience and health the focus of this year's I.D.D.B.A.

by Editorial Staff
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New products focusing on the trends of health and convenience dominated the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s (I.D.D.B.A.) Dairy-Deli-Bake 2007 seminar and exposition, held June 3-5 in Anaheim, Calif.

In-store delis and bakeries have become a mainstay for many supermarket operators. The departments allow retailers to provide a variety of fresh meal options that position them to compete against the growing food service segment. Driving the trend, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2007 survey, are consumers demanding greater convenience, higher quality products, more variety and better nutrition. Shoppers are most interested in ready-to-eat solutions, such as rotisserie chicken, made-to-order sandwiches, hot food bars and salad bars.

The F.M.I. report also noted consumer interest in meal solutions has been driven by demographic changes. Currently, more than 95 million Americans aged 18 or older are single or unmarried, according to the F.M.I. This group heads up nearly 53 million households, or nearly half of all American homes.

The F.M.I. survey found the shopping attitudes and behaviors for households headed by singles to be different from multi-person households. Per-person spending on food is higher and they tend to prefer foods prepared away from home. The growth of in-store delis, which offer a variety of convenient meal solutions, are proving to be a fit for the singles demographic that also is looking for food choices that resonate with their desire for healthier options.

Carol Christison, executive director of the I.D.D.B.A., noted a significant difference exists between a food fad, which may be ignored, and a food trend, which is worth studying because it may change a company’s business "for better or worse." The key to being part of the "money-end" of any food trend, she said, lies in being a product innovator rather than playing catch-up or offering "me-too" products or ideas.

"The entire better-for-you food group and food-as-medicine trends are still gaining ground," she said.

Scores of innovative products were featured at the I.D.D.B.A. exposition, which attracted a near-record 8,190 attendees and showcased more than 1,500 booths from manufacturers and suppliers in the supermarket bakery, deli and dairy business.

On the deli side, "natural" products continue to take center stage. At the show, Tyson Foods, Inc., Springdale, Ark., announced that starting in mid-July all of its Tyson rotisserie chicken will be "raised without antibiotics," as well as with no hormones administered. Eric Le Blanc, director of marketing for Tyson Deli, said those two specific claims resonate highly with consumers.

"Consumers are looking for a better feeling about the food they get at the supermarket," Mr. Le Blanc said. "For retailers, we know this will be an added benefit. We are spending $70 million in advertising to promote this nationally."

Jennie-O Turkey Store, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods, Austin, Minn., noted its new line of Natural Choice Deli Meats, introduced last year, allows retailers to capitalize on the natural foods trend.

During the I.D.D.B.A., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Pittsburg, Texas, promoted its new EatWellStayHealthy product line of chicken products designed to provide a healthy option for today’s health-conscious consumers. The line includes traditional chicken salad, fully cooked chicken breast fillet, rotisserie chicken, and fully cooked chicken nuggets and popcorn chicken.

Sara Lee Deli, a division of the Sara Lee Corp., Chicago, also introduced a new all-natural line of deli meats called Gourmet Selections, marking the company’s first venture into the high-end deli meat category. The line includes oven roasted turkey breast, honey turkey breast, honey ham, smoked ham, and smoked Angus beef.

"As we dove into the data, the entire deli category is shrinking 1% to 2%, but the category that is growing is whole muscle, ultra premium deli meats," said Ric Herrera, director of portfolio planning, deli, for Sara Lee Food & Beverage. "Consumers want super quality products."

Bakers respond to health concerns

Convenience and health issues commanded great attention among bakery exhibitors at the I.D.D.B.A. event. Frozen desserts offer another opportunity for in-store bakeries to capitalize on the convenience trend. Flavor Right Foods introduced two new products, an ice cream mix and ready-to-serve desserts.

"Flavor Right’s response to this trend includes a new focus on an innovative, all-natural line called Olde World ice cream, which is a liquid mix of high end, gourmet, all-natural ice cream that offers the advantage of being able to be whipped on a stand mixer, common to most bakeries," said Jonathan Gilbert, director of sales and marketing for Flavor Right Foods, Columbus, Ohio. "Flavor Right is also in the process of launching Olde World gourmet pre-made ice cream cakes and truffles, which will be launched later in 2007."

Addressing both health and convenience issues, General Mills Bakeries & Foodservice, Minneapolis, unveiled new Heart Healthy Muffins, 2-oz thaw-and-sell muffins that come in six-count clamshell packages.

"We know consumers are looking for products that easily communicate health messages to them," said Christine Biondi, marketing manager for General Mills Bakeries & Foodservice.

H.C. Brill introduced a new line of thaw-and-sell cookies that are packed with high counts of premium ingredients like chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, raisins, walnuts and macadamia nuts. The cookies contain zero grams of trans fat per serving.

Dawn Food Products displayed new Classic and Indulgent Cookies with zero grams of trans fat per serving in a variety of flavors, such as peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and double chocolate chunk.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, June 26, 2007, starting on Page 37. Click here to search that archive.

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