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Drug retailers feed consumer desires with healthful snacks

BY Barbara White-Sax

Consumers may be watching their pocketbooks, but their snack preferences still are trending toward the more healthful options.

While promotions were plentiful at one Walgreens store, healthful snacks were the highlight. On an endcap near the front entrance, Corazona’s Heart Healthy chips and Polar and Dole brand fruit cups were merchandised together. In the store’s Café W area, nuts were a big part of the mix. Frito-Lay’s new TrueNorth trial size nut clusters were being promoted on an aisle wing for 69 cents. Private-label dried fruits and trail mixes shared space with Odwalla bars and 100-calorie packs from Nabisco.

Walgreens’ mix is proof that while retailers scramble to offer consumers more value, they can’t lose sight of what consumers have been telling them they want from food.

At the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting this summer, new-product experts from Mintel International told attendees that consumers want products that have sustainability and inherent goodness of ingredients. They also want healthful choices for their kids.

“What’s in the products is important. Consumers don’t want them to be fortified with anything,” said Lynn Dornblaser, a new product expert from Mintel. “There are more products being made with whole grains, such as Frito-Lay’s SunChips, General Mills Fiber One cereal bars and Nabisco’s Garden Harvest toasted chips.”

Manufacturers are highlighting fruit and vegetable snacks, as well as protein-rich options. “Manufacturers are finding new ways of incorporating a serving of fruit and vegetables into the consumer’s diet,” Mintel’s Dornblaser said.

Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. recently introduced Let’s Grow!, a line of nutritious toddler meals and snacks backed with the company’s no-junk promise. All 19 products in the line are all-natural with added vitamins and minerals, and are made with real fruits and vegetables. They contain no artificial flavors, colors, MSG, trans fats or refined sugar or preservatives.

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Fresh & Easy slows expansion plans for the United States

BY Jenna Duncan

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. Fresh & Easy, the grocery chain operated by U.K.’s Tesco corporation that was slated to move into more California and West Coast markets by February, has announced that it will curb development of many stores, the company announced on Wednesday.

Tim Mason, chief executive officer of Fresh & Easy, said that due to the uncertainty of growth in the U.S. market for the remainder of 2008 and looking forward, the openings of 200 U.S. Fresh & Easy stores will be pushed to November 2009.

Tesco said that it had taken the decision because of the wider economy rather than because of concerns about how its stores were performing.

Tesco said that there was no doubt the U.S. economy was in a different place than it was when the company originally released plans for expansion. It said that initially its plans were to accelerate growth by the second quarter 2008, but now will delay plans for growth.

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Pepperidge Farm introduces famous Australian cookie to Americans

BY Melissa Valliant

NORWALK, Conn. Australians have been obsessed with Tim Tam, an Arnott’s-invented chocolate biscuit, for years. Now Pepperidge Farm, sister company to Arnott’s, is bringing the Australian favorite to the United States this November exclusively through Target stores. Tim Tam, which was rated the No.1 chocolate biscuit in Australia, is composed of two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, filled with a light chocolate cream filling and covered in a thin layer of textured chocolate.

Arnott’s has been making the snack for more than 40 years, selling approximately 35 million packs each year. Pepperidge Farm, a subsidiary of Campbell Soup Company (like Arnott’s), is introducing Tim Tam in Chocolate Creme and Caramel varieties with a suggested retail price of $3.39. The tasty Australian treat will be available through March of next year.

“In keeping with the tradition of our founder, Margaret Rudkin, Pepperidge Farm is thrilled to introduce Tim Tam to American consumers. Margaret searched the globe to bring back delectable cookies and crackers to the United States that are now beloved icons to Americans, much like Tim Tam biscuits are to Australians,” said Michael Simon, senior vice president and general manager of the Pepperidge Farm snacks division. “We’re certain Americans will soon understand why this scrumptious cookie is all the rage in Australia.”

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