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Consumers snacking healthier through the day

BY Barbara White-Sax

Consumers are blurring the lines between meals and snacks, and are increasingly choosing healthier options. In response, retailers are increasing refrigerated space devoted to fresh sandwiches, as well as precut fruit and vegetable selections, particularly in high-traffic locations.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

They also are bringing in smaller brands with innovative products once found only in specialty stores and Whole Foods, and they are using the products to support their health-and-wellness positioning by giving those products prominent placement in the front of the store and at checkout locations.

In its new store format, which rolled out in 2015 to roughly 500 stores across the country, CVS has positioned refrigerated units packed with healthy, on-the-go snacks in the section once occupied by photo. More than 500 items have been added to the section, including Chobani yogurt, Kind snacks and Panera soups. In many stores, the front aisle of bagged candy has been converted to healthy snacks like nuts.

“We know that customers are changing how they shop, behave and eat. They are no longer sitting down for three meals a day but are snacking through the day, and they want a place that is convenient where they can snack in a healthy way,” Helena Foulkes, EVP CVS Health and president of CVS/pharmacy recently told DSN.

Research from The Hartman Group found that 64% of consumers said that they are eating fruits and vegetables as a snack more often; 61% said they are choosing healthier snacks.

“There’s very little distinction between snacks and meals,” said Susan Viamari, editor of IRI New Product Pacesetters. “Forty percent of consumers are snacking three or more times a day, and they are looking for snacks they can eat in the car or on the go.”

Walgreens also is responding to evolving consumer needs by offering fresh fruits, cheeses, snack trays, pasta salads and sandwiches in its high-traffic locations. Some Walgreens’ stores in Washington, D.C., and New York City offer frozen yogurt and sushi.

Yogurt, a category that continues to show strong growth, is given prominent placing in a refrigerated set in the front of the store with well-established brands like Chobani sharing space with boutique brands, such as Siggi’s, Liberté, Dreaming Cow and Alpina. The selection also includes Powerful Man’s Powerful Yogurt, which contains 21 grams of protein and is targeted to male consumers.

“In the yogurt category, we’re seeing targeting to more specific niches, such as calorie-controlled, indulgent, kid-friendly and frozen products,” said Viamari. Nondairy yogurts also are becoming a bigger part of the category. “Non-dairy milk has been growing, and we’re seeing that trend migrating to the yogurt category with the addition of Silk dairy-free yogurt alternative, So Delicious cultured coconut milk and Almond Dream non-dairy yogurt.”

Indulgent snacks also are becoming healthier, with new options flooding the market. “Consumers are very open to veggie chips, kale chips and other varieties of healthier chip options,” said Viamari. Hartman research showed that 28% of consumers said that they are open to exploring and/or sampling new foods and beverages.

Walgreens’ Washington, D.C., Penn Quarter store recently featured kale chips from The Kale Factory, dry roasted eda-mame from Seapoint Farms and Enlightened Chips veggie chips on the endcap facing the store’s entrance. At a nearby CVS, the front endcap featured Bobos Oat Bars, Naked’s granola cookies and NuGo Nutrition’s Fiber d’lish bars.

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VMS sales to continue upward trajectory

BY Michael Johnsen

Sales of dietary supplements and meal replacement bars were up pretty significantly for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 1, 2015, according to the latest IRI data. VMS sales were up 4.1% to $6.6 billion across total U.S. multi-outlets, and sales of bars were up 9.3% to $2.2 billion.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

Heading into 2016, that sales trend will continue on an upward trajectory of between 5% and 6%, according to several category analysts. That sales trajectory will be fed not only by traditional drivers like the aging of the baby boomers, but other macroeconomic factors like the continued migration of healthcare costs to consumers.

“Preventive is going to be as important as [acute care],” said Andrew Archambault, NBTY chief customer officer, and that’s placing a greater emphasis on education on shelf. “[Create] a compelling education section in categories that consumers want to enter but don’t have the info — when you do that, … more and more households take the product. That’s proving out.” Clearing sales-per-square-inch hurdles are still important, Archambault added, but there’s more insight today that it can be accomplished through signage.

That’s because the entryway for new consumers to the supplement category is through brick-and-mortar. Retailers who place a greater emphasis on successful planogramming and shelf education will be positioned well.

“There is usually an ingredient or product, for example lately probiotics, that tends to bring in people into the category,” Kurt Jetta, CEO Tabs Group, said. “That speaks to the importance of innovation and just keeping an eye on what’s emerging as far as brands and manufacturers. For vitamins in particular, the drug channel has done a good job of making sure they’re well represented with some of the niche players.”

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Matcha green tea powder picks up on new trend

BY Michael Johnsen

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. — Piping Rock has brought a taste of traditional China to the United States with its introduction of Nature’s Truth Stone Ground Matcha Green Tea. Use of Matcha green tea extends all the way back to the Tang Dynasty. Made from the stone-ground leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea has been attributed both to healthy brain function and metabolic health.

(To view the full Category Review, click here.)

According to the Sage Group’s market analysis on Matcha products released earlier this year, sales of products containing Matcha green tea are expected to grow 25% annually between 2015 and 2018.

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