Smucker has expanded its Jif brands into new product categories.

BOCA RATON, FLA. — Authenticity, nutrient-rich and snacking are three key trends J.M. Smucker Co. is focusing on as it looks to connect to consumers, said Mark Smucker, president of Consumer and Natural Foods, of the Orrville, Ohio-based company.

Mr. Smucker, in a Feb. 17 presentation at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York meeting at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, said the company’s approach to achieving that connection is to “lead with innovation.”

As an example, he cited the company’s Jif brand.

Mark Smucker
Mark Smucker, president, Consumer and Natural Foods

“When we acquired the brand, the peanut butter category primarily consisted of creamy and crunchy varieties in a jar,” Mr. Smucker said. “Since then, we have significantly grown and transformed the category by leveraging the strong brand equity to expand the breadth of the Jif portfolio through value-added items. This included liberating peanut butter from the jar with the convenient on-the-go format of Jif To Go; providing a no-stir natural offering, which is now the No. 1 natural peanut butter in dollars and in volume according to (Information Resources, Inc.) across several measured periods; introducing snacking items with Jif Whips and Jif To Go Dippers; and providing new flavor varieties to support additional usage occasions, including the upcoming launch of maple and cinnamon flavored Jif peanut butter.

“We have also expanded the brand outside of its traditional peanut butter category by introducing Jif-branded products in specialty spreads, and more recently, in snack bars and peanut powders, all of which provide additional avenues for growth as we continue on our journey to grow Jif to a $1 billion brand.”

Mr. Smucker said the company has a similar vision for its Smucker brand. To get there, he said the company will need to continue to leverage the growth of Uncrustables frozen sandwiches, which has become a nearly $200 million business. Additionally, the company will need to take a balanced approach to growing the Smucker brand inside and outside its existing categories.

Longer term, Mr. Smucker said the company will focus on further expanding the Smucker brand into new categories, specifically those segments where consumers are looking for mindful snacking options.

“A key to our success will be leveraging how the Smucker brand is perceived by consumers — fruit, simple, authentic, trusted — and reinforcing the brand positioning,” he said.

The natural foods business is another area that holds promise for the company, Mr. Smucker said. The company’s natural foods business has annual sales of approximately $220 million, and recent efforts show the company is serious about growing that total.

Smucker recently acquired a minority interest in Numi, Inc., a maker of specialty teas.

Mr. Smucker said the company recently achieved distribution gains for its Santa Cruz Organic and truRoots offerings at conventional grocery retailers, and also acquired a minority interest in Numi, Inc., an Oakland, Calif.-based maker of Numi brand premium, fair trade, organic teas.

“Numi is one of the fastest-growing brands in the specialty tea category and is uniquely positioned as a sustainably-focused premium line,” Mr. Smucker said. “As part of our investment, we have a long-term licensing agreement that will allow us to produce and market a line of Numi-branded ready-to-drink organic teas. We are targeting a fiscal 2017 launch for this product line, which will provide an entrance into the large and growing ready-to-drink tea category. We are excited about our investment in the Numi brand and we will continue to pursue opportunities to invest in emerging companies and brands as potential new avenues for growth.”