BOSTON — Health and wellness is a trend Pinnacle Foods Inc., Parsippany, N.J., has identified as a key to its future growth. With a rejuvenated Birds Eye brand and such recently acquired businesses as Gardein and Boulder Brands, the company is focused on expanding its position in the market for better-for-you foods.
|Mark Clouse, c.e.o. of Pinnacle|
“… Health and wellness is the single biggest consumer trend affecting food purchases,” said Mark Clouse, chief executive officer, during a Sept. 6 presentation at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference in Boston. “But its definition can cover everything from wheat management to organic to clean ingredients. Focus is critical in unlocking an effective health and wellness strategy. As we look where growth is really happening in health and wellness, we’ll focus on three leading trends.”
The first trend will involve capitalizing on consumers who choose foods based on their lifestyle, Mr. Clouse said.
“This may be managing disease or food intolerance or simply matching a lifestyle choice,” he said.
Pinnacle Foods has strong positions in the markets for plant-based, vegetarian and gluten-free foods with the Birds Eye, Gardein and its gluten-free brands.
“…We’ve created three consumer-driven strategies that are the foundation of the health and wellness plan,” Mr. Clouse said. “First, to take advantage of the growing lifestyle trend, it is important to have brands that can cross occasions and formats to truly create a destination for consumers that are living with specific dietary needs or choices.
“On plant-based, with Gardein and Earth Balance we believe we can bring a unique combination that goes well beyond a veggie burger to really meet the broader need of these consumers and be a leader in the No. 1 growing lifestyle trend.
“ … With the top two dedicated (gluten-free) brands in Udi’s and Glutino, we are already the clear leader. Although gluten-free may not sustain the 50%-plus growth rate we’ve seen, it’s expected to remain in double digits, fueled by a growing awareness of celiac’s or gluten intolerance, which affects roughly 18% of the U.S. population, as well as nearly one-third of consumers who are simply selecting in and out of gluten-free for broader health and wellness goals.”
With the EVOL brand, Mr. Clouse added the company has an opportunity to expand Pinnacle’s position in what he described as the “clean convenience lifestyle.”
“Millennials continue to live with time constraints but still want to follow a cleaner ingredient food regimen,” he said. “EVOL provides the solution that does not require compromise on taste or experience.”
With the Birds Eye brand, Pinnacle Foods is aiming for “vegetable ubiquity,” Mr. Clouse said. The challenge of achieving management’s goal is eliminating the barriers that prevent consumers from getting more vegetables into their diet, including taste, availability and value.
“To drive this strategy, we plan to increase support behind the Birds Eye platforms, one of our highest R.O.I. and margin businesses,” Mr. Clouse said. “Next will be to expand availability and affordability to include price-size architecture, channel expansion and really fixing the mix to make sure all of our core s.k.u.s (stock-keeping units) are on shelf. Finally is the opportunity to continue to expand new occasions and segments like we did with Voila.”
The Voila product line is a portfolio of skillet meals that features combinations of vegetables, protein and carbohydrates. Varieties in the line include shrimp scampi, beef lo mein, chicken Florentine, chicken and pasta in a Parmesan sauce and others.
The third strategy outlined by Mr. Clouse is a “better center of store.”
“The goal here is not to make everything health and wellness, but to be selective in places where we can bring news and value to our brands and to the center of store,” he said.
Products that fit into this category include Wish-Bone EVOO salad dressing, G.M.O.-Free Log Cabin syrup and Perfect Size Duncan Hines products that tie into the better-for-you trend of portion control.
A key to implementing the plan is protecting the culture and capabilities of the Boulder business, which was acquired by Pinnacle Foods in November 2015.
“The fact is, running a faster-growth consumer-leading business is different than our core business today,” Mr. Clouse said. “This is why we recently hired Michael Allen (as president of Boulder), who knows how to run these types of businesses. Getting the right balance of synergy and integration, paired with the focus and specific capabilities to ensure we are driving the Boulder business going forward, is truly an amplifier for our playbook.”