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IRI Report: Shoppers Want Even More from Convenience Products

CHICAGO --It looks like consumers are demanding even more robust convenience-based products than ever, with attributes such as better nutritional benefits, according to a study released yesterday by Information Resources, Inc. (IRI).

"Yesterday's consumer was content with purchasing a product that promised to be quick and easy," said Janet Eden-Harris, e.v.p. and global chief marketing officer, IRI. "Now, consumers expect those same offerings to also provide significant nutritional benefits, as well as greater portability, quality, and value."

The study, "Times & Trends: Beyond Time Savings: The New Face of Convenience," said as more Americans are allotting less time for dinner preparation, the demand for convenient meal solutions remains great. Refrigerated meals and meal components is one category in particular that seems to be faring well with health-conscious, time-starved shoppers. Shoppers perceive these items to use fresher ingredients and contain fewer additives than their frozen and shelf-stable counterparts, according to IRI.

The report encourages traditional grocers to protect and grow their footprint in the high-growth refrigerated meal solutions segment through targeted marketing and merchandising initiatives.

Additionally, frozen convenient meal solutions, namely multi-serve frozen meals, are selling well, particularly with the Baby Boomer segment.

Portability and portion control appear to be the primary benefits driving strong growth in the convenient snack segment. With indulgent snacks, sales of single-serve and/or multi-packs of single-serve products, such as Nabisco's 100-Calorie Packs, have risen steadily in the combined supermarket, drugstore and mass merchandiser retailer (excluding Wal-Mart) outlet.

Within health-based snacks, several key categories continue to push strong growth, including yogurt, in both single-serve cup and drink formats; granola bars and rice snack squares; and soups.

The report also outlines potential growth opportunities for manufacturers and retailers with regard to on-the-go beverages, which have experienced strong sales growth across major categories within food, drug, and mass merchandise channels (excluding Wal-Mart). Retailers should strive to ensure that consumers have easy access to such beverages at multiple locations throughout the store, according to IRI.
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