This past week I had the opportunity (and honor) to be the first non-Puerto Rican to keynote the MIDA innovation conference. Much like Manu mainland based supermarket conferences, this one is a combination of education and an exhibit area.
All I can say is WOW!
I have not walked an exhibit floor in years that was more lively, packed, informative and fun.
Many of the same exhibitors were there: P&G, Kraft, Goya as well as the typical agricultural associations - but the difference was that these exhibitors were working the crowd!
Some say the butcher is back! And with more consumers showing interest in where their food comes from, there is much for the retailer and consumer to learn from these skilled meat artisans. We spoke with Bryan Butler an Austin, Texas master butcher with over fifteen years of experience. Formally trained at Texas State Technical College, he has worked as a butcher in a wide variety of settings. Bryan has been Austin's neighborhood butcher for well over a decade, and spent six years as the butcher at Wheatsville Coop before joining Salt & Time in October 2010. He will also be competing this year in Cochon 555, a traveling culinary competition to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs.
How did you become a butcher?
Ironically, I was raised a vegetarian till the age of 10. My joke has always been I became a butcher out of spite. I began my journey to being a butcher in 1996. I toured a culinary school that also had a very good meat fabrication and market management program which is closed now. I figured being a butcher would pay better and would give me a reliable way to support myself no matter where I went. So I spent 18 months at school. Afterwards, I apprenticed under several "well seasoned" older butchers. I was lucky that I got a formal education for modern standards and practices, like HAACP. But also I got to learn from old butchers. This experience is hard to find today. Most who call themselves butchers are self-taught. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just a sad reality. I have apprenticed four to five of my own students and gladly share any knowledge that I can.
As America's economy slowly recovers, families that consumed pasta heavily during the recession are buying a little less of it. The category is holding onto its hefty gains of the recession years so far, but the latest full-year comparisons in most segments are down by low single-digit percentages.
In America's kitchens, the pasta and sauces we eat have a decided 21st century turn - one that is quite distant from the rich Italian heritage of fine foods. Our pasta dishes frequently fill needs for convenience and value, and sometimes health. Multiple servings can be cooked once, stored easily and reheated for meals at different times for hectic households.
When the recession gripped the nation - and dry macaroni and spaghetti sales jumped by more than 22% - some 18.2% of U.S. households said they lacked the money to buy enough food. The percentage of 'food hardship' households was even higher, at 24.1%, for households with children, according to the Food Research and Action Center, cited by Reuters. These figures reflected an intensified challenge to feed families in 2009, greater than the federal government's 'food insecurity' rating of 14.9% of households in 2008 suggested.
Category management has evolved from a process for tactical planning and organization to a more holistic approach that includes shopper insights and shopper marketing.
CPG manufacturers and retailers that cohesively integrate these three disciplines are in better positions to become category leaders, suggests Kantar Retail in its 2011 Category Leadership Benchmarking Study.
Gradual shifts over about 15 years have placed consumers and shoppers at the center of category management best practices today. The Lempert Report believes this ability separates category leaders from their competitors, and helps earn them a better seat at the strategic table with retailers.
Hot dogs hit their stride this time of year when three seasons overlap: the peak of backyard grilling, the heart of the professional baseball campaign, and the start of football leagues and tailgating, a new American pastime. More than 40% of annual refrigerated frankfurter sales occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when four-week periods index as high as 142 (100=average consumption), according to Nielsen data for U.S. food stores.
On an annual basis, category dollar sales gains aren't as high as they were in the recession, but they still have some snap. Refrigerated frankfurters posted 2.7% higher sales to $1.68 billion in U.S. food stores (reporting $2 million and over in total yearly volume), excluding supercenters, during the 52 weeks ended June 11, 2011. This occurred, however, on a 0.8% equivalized unit volume dip (EUV 16-ounce basis). All data is for pre-packaged UPC-coded products only.
Maybe supermarkets are chasing consumers with the wrong marketing strategies and messages - at least where low-priced competitors are concerned.
Rather than vie for trips on the basis of price vs. Sam's Club, Walmart and similar operators - a fight they can't win - why not call these operators out for bad service? Imagine a media campaign that openly asks shoppers, "Why would you pay $50 for bad service?"
Indeed, why do wholesale club members pay annual fees to access cavernous bare bone stores that require travel to reach, tolerance to navigate, and will power to avoid overbuying large-package quantities? Are the values that compelling when the discomforts are figured in? How do savings calculate against extra time spent?
The strong association of ice cream with summer belies the truth that consumers buy this treat year-round without extreme variations in demand - at least by the sales measure of pints and near-pints in U.S. supermarkets. These package sizes of 14 to 16 ounces typically get prominent display because many are super-premiums with rich, appealing flavors and popular cookie and candy ingredients. Though they draw higher prices per ounce than larger bulk containers, these indulgences stay on shopping lists.
These packages indexed no higher than 114 in the warmest months of 2010, compared with 84 in frigid January 2011, according to Nielsen data in U.S. food stores (reporting $2 million and over in sales), excluding supercenters.
Popular specialty shops and the ubiquitous neighborhood ice cream trucks of summer probably do rob supermarkets of potential sales of pints and near pints - and curtail what could be greater peak performance in supermarkets.
Take one NY retailer, one chicken company and you get a new package that could change everything. And why it is time to stock your shelves with goat's milk, for today - Monday July 11, 2011. Exchanging unexpected pieces of knowledge.
- Fresh food packaging at supermarkets has become one of the biggest eco-challenges. According to G4 Packaging, tens of millions of foam trays are used annually in supermarkets for packaging fresh food, and for every million used, more than two tons of polystyrene end up in a landfill. In a unique partnership with D'Agostino's Supermarkets and Murray's Chicken, Eco MV is taking their 100% wheat stalk compostable, biodegradable meat and poultry trays to supermarkets.
- Goat's milk products like goat cheese and even ice cream have been around for years. Now it is the time for products like (goat's milk) yogurt and goat's milk itself? They are just finding their way into specialty stores and some chains across the country, and for good reason - as research from the University of Granada has recently revealed.
Click here or on the screenshot to watch this video.
A seven percent plummet in the U.S. birth rate - from 4.32 million births in 2007 to an estimated 4.01 million births in 2010 - may be due to rise again if the economy improves, suggests the latest quarterly U.S. Fertility Forecast from Demographic Intelligence, which supplies demographic insights to the juvenile products industry.
DI believes U.S. births bottomed out in 2010. If so, that would be good news for the $3 billion (annual sales) baby milk and milk-flavoring category, which has declined during the past two years. In U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser stores (including Walmart), dollar sales of the category overall fell 4.2% to $3.08 billion in the 52 weeks ended June 11, 2011, according to Nielsen data. This followed a 7.3% drop in dollar sales during the prior 12 months. Equivalized unit volume (EUV 16-ounce basis) was also down, by 8.5% a year ago and by 1.0% in the latest period.
The spread of speedy mobile payment systems - at gas stations, convenience stores and nearly 9,000 domestic Starbucks outlets (including 1,000 in Safeway and 1,000 in Target) - got The Lempert Report thinking about a new mobile application that would be popular.
Gift cards could be made more secure, more popular, quicker, labor-efficient and even greener. Think of how iTunes diminished tapes and records; a mobile system could make gift card payments electronic and do away with plastic bearer cards. A mobile payment system would also encourage gift card purchases because:
Greenhouse crop products are produced in some of the world's most technologically advanced agricultural environments. Usually grown hydroponically - without the use of soil - and inside climate-controlled glass-covered structures, greenhouse (or hot house) crops have the advantage of developing with fewer pest, weed and weather pressures than their conventionally farmed cousins.
But the production of high quality hot house vegetables is an intensive time commitment. It is difficult and risky to leave the greenhouse for short or long periods of time as environmental controls must be performed as needed. While some small growers have been successful in producing crops at a profit for 10 to 15 years, many others have not made a profit and have sold their greenhouses in less than three years.