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IDDBA 2016 Show Coverage: Growing the Future


From store associates to shoppers, the common thread running through the top issues facing food retailing today is people.

That’s according to Mike Eardley, president and CEO of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, in his address to IDDBA expo attendees Monday morning in Houston.

“People are our future,” he said. “We need to be able to engage the next generation that’s going to lead our industry.”

Eardley focused on three key areas of importance for the industry: omnichannel, food safety and the future of food.

The continuing move toward omnichannel requires retailers to shift their focus from the product to the outcome of purchase, Eardley said. Retailers must deliver “a consistently superior customer service experience,” he asserted.

“Digital intermediaries” such as social media, click and collect and other online services engage consumers to assist with decision making all along the path to purchase. But, Eardley warned, such disrupters may be grocers’ competition, so they must take charge to “make the experience for our customers simpler.”

A key strategy should be to drive engagement around celebrations, Eardley said, noting that the 10 most “re-pinned” words on Pinterest are related to food.

“Social media is not optional,” Eardley warned, as it’s crucial to reputation management, in regards to review sites such as Yelp.

Eardley hammered away on the importance of food safety, following up on Phil Lempert’s presentation from the previous day that revealed the results of IDDBA’s latest food safety initiative concerning allergens.

With allergies affecting 15 million people – 6 million of them children – 60 percent of consumers have said they would be more likely to shop in a store at which associated have had certified allergen training.

“As an industry, we have not moved fast enough,” Eardley said. For example, a federal study revealed that only half of stores follow guidelines for slicer cleaning designed to prevent allergen cross-contamination. “We can all win, or we can all lose,” Eardley cautioned.

Meanwhile, the future of food as it affects the deli and bakery departments relies on appealing to the oft-ballyhooed Millennial shopper.

For example, Eardley said, Millennials are not strong purchasers of in-store bakery bread. This group overwhelmingly is interested in fresh, organic, natural and free-from foods, yet only 5 percent of in-store bakery breads have declared benefits, he noted.

“We can capture this audience by calling out things like ancient grains and organic ingredients,” Eardley advised.

Food manufacturers have gradually been moving toward simpler ingredient labels and dropping artificial ingredients. “Communicate to shoppers how you meet their needs – help them understand your products and processes,” Eardley said.

Consumers also want to see evidence of sustainability, which in their minds runs the gamut from “local” and “responsible” to “natural” and “non-GMO.”

And grocerants, Eardley said, should be built around “great designs … and excellent menus and ingredients.”

In all, retailers need to be aware of the six key influencers of our industry: community, people, food safety, competition, technology and consolidation. And, in doing so, show themselves to be “people passionately presenting great food with pride.”

No Reservations

Also among the morning’s key speakers was celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who discussed how chefs are perceived by the public in the “pre-Emeril and post-Emeril” worlds.

The rise of this “cult of personality” among chefs has helped to drive a greater interest in food as well as the transformation of supermarkets from mere stores selling food to showcases of culinary prowess, Bourdain said.

In a question-and-answer session led by Albertsons Safeway’s Jewel Hunt, Bourdain identified what he sees as the current key culinary trends: heat; “funk” and “rot” (e.g. fermented foods); “stinky cheeses”; organ meats; slow cooking; and spices.

“We are catching up with the great food cultures of Europe, Latin America and Asia,” Bourdain said.

On the Show Floor

Here’s a roundup of my Monday booth visits, not including random samples and quick bites grabbed on the run:

Arla Foods debuted a line of cream cheese in original, light, herbs & spices, peppercorn and blueberry; along with sliced Muenster, Havarti, Medium Cheddar, Gouda and Fontina; and snack bars in Gouda, Cheddar and Havarti.

Butterball premiered its new deli ham in three varieties: honey, Virginia and Black Forest.

Dawn Foods showcased new products following eight general consumer trends it has identified: Luxury Revalued, That’s Eater-Tainment, Throwback Thursday Every Day, No Passport Required, Mashup Mania, Mealtime 2.0, My Food’s Backstory and The Best of Both Worlds. New products on deck included Greek yogurt coffee cakes added to its Weight Watchers branded line of snack cakes; triple-layer cakes in French vanilla, cookies and crème, salted caramel and strawberry; “Waterfall” cakes using high-end ingredients like Madagascar vanilla and chocolate liqueur; mousse tortes in flavors like pumpkin spice, and lemon Greek yogurt; and brownies in flavors like peppermint, peanut butter and turtle.

Fortun Foods samples its line of fresh soups featuring, “real vegetables, real cream, real wine” and other authentic ingredients, in varieties including 3 Bean Chili with Kobe Beef and Ultimate Gourmet 3-Clam Chowder.

Hissho Sushi demonstrated its turn-key sushi solution for grocery stores and samples some new, fresh-made varieties, including Crispy Crab and a Sunset Roll.

Kitchen Table Bakers sampled its ParmCrisps, oven-baked, gluten-free parmesan cheese snacks including one of its newest flavors, sesame parmesan, which added some excellent texture and crunch.

Perdue, which sampled such products as Asian-seasoned breaded wings and General Tso’s chicken breast chunks, continued to deliver its “no antibiotics ever” message. “We want to bring these attributes to the masses,” said Perdue’s John Moore.

Reser’s displayed a variety of new products for the cold case and service deli, including Hatch green chile macaroni & cheese and mashed potatoes; deli case salads with innovative flavors; and salad kits for deli operators to assemble with their own product. Reser’s is also cleaning up its ingredient labels, reducing the number of ingredients and taking high fructose corn syrup and artificial ingredients out of its Stonewall Kitchens line of dips and bread bowls.

Robbie Flexibles showed a new bag designed for retailers to pack vegetables in to allow consumers to steam them in the bag at home. Robbie also showed new smaller pouches designed for snack portions in fresh departments. “Snacks don’t just have to be in center store,” Robbie’s Penny Sweeney said. “Promote your fresh bakery.”

Sandridge Food Corp. displayed several new hot bar concepts, such as Lifestyle Solutions, offering “sensible choices” including vegan items and recipes using beets, kale and goat cheese; Global Flavors, featuring Latin and Indian items; Tasteful Treats, including bison chili, pork belly and burgers with red onion jam; Culinary Freshness, a line of pouched recipe kits mixed by the deli operator; and a Mexican hot bar concept featuring beef barbacoa, pork verde and chicken chipotle.

Wynn’s Grain and Spice showed off its Chicken on a Stick designed for snacking alongside its Natural Crimson Breading for fried chicken, featuring a cleaner ingredient label.

Follow our live show coverage on Twitter at @pgrocer, @jimdudlicek, @JoanPGrocer and @KatieIndyGrocer.

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