Retailers, manufacturers improving 'center store' sales

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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CHICAGO — For the year ended Aug. 12, "center store" product sales grew 3.1% across food, drug and mass channels, including Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., according to "Center Store Revival: Retailers and Manufacturers Stage a Comeback," a new Times & Trends report from Information Resources, Inc.

"Retailers have rediscovered the ‘center store,’ realizing that a robust center store strategy complements the fresh food focus recently implemented by many grocers to differentiate their stores," said Thom Blischok, I.R.I. president of retail solutions, strategic consulting and integrated solutions. "Product, packaging and merchandising innovation, coupled with price increases to recoup rising ingredient costs have been at the center of this revitalization."

According to I.R.I., new health and wellness products, focused private label development and improved localized assortment of center store items has driven the rebound.

Consumer packaged goods manufacturers also have developed strategies to improve center store performance, including product and packaging innovation, merchandising innovation and price increases.

Grocers typically have faced center-store share losses to supercenters, club stores and drug stores in the past decade, but this year grocers were able to defend the center of the store. The next form of competition grocers face will come from small format stores that focus on fresh foods but also offer a limited assortment of center store products.

In addition to high-growth snack and beverages with wellness benefits, ready-to-drink tea, energy drinks and trail mixes also are contributing to growth.

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