New Product Announcements & Partnerships
Beyond Meat will launch two new burgers in early 2021, including one that it’s calling its “most nutritious patty yet”. The announcement comes after several new product launches in 2020, including Beyond Breakfast Sausage and Beyond Meatballs, diversifying the brand’s offerings and expanding it into several new categories.
Graeter’s Ice Cream, America’s oldest family-run ice cream maker, is teaming up with food tech company Perfect Day to debut a line of vegan frozen desserts using Perfect Day’s animal-free dairy protein.
Oreo has announced the development of two gluten-free varieties of the classic cookie, both Oreo Classic and Oreo Double Stuff, which will be permanent members of its lineup and will be available in stores nationwide in January.
Investments & Acquisitions
Mars Inc. will acquire Kind North America, the companies announced this week. The agreement comes three years after Mars took a minority stake in the food company, and will help continue efforts to lead growth across 35 countries. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a report in the New York Times valued it at approximately $5 billion.
Whole Earth Brands has acquired keto and zero-sugar sweetener and baking mix brand Swerve for $80 million.
Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize will take a majority stake in grocery delivery service Fresh Direct, expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.
Peter Harf, executive chairman of Coty Inc., is purchasing an additional $150 million in shares in the company, giving it a boost of confidence as it navigates the shifting market as the pandemic changes consumer tastes.
Instacart is preparing to go public as early as the beginning of 2021 with a valuation of $30 billion, which comes after a meteoric rise for the delivery service as online shopping and delivery became staples of 2020.
Watermelon Road has been acquired and will operate under a new owner Cortney Rhodes, who will take the reins on day-to-day operations for the fruit jerky brand while founder Jamie Melzer stays on as a consultant.
Premium Brands and Reasonable Prices
Despite the challenges and shifts that the market has seen this year, a new report from IRI is showing that grocery consumption for American has moved toward high-end brands, with sales in premium and super-premium categories up 1.7% YOY in the 26-week period ending in early October. Alcohol, meal kits, and spices are among the subcategories that have particularly benefited from this growth, and the overall uptick in high-end sales sets this pandemic and subsequent economic recession apart from earlier ones that have driven households to value brands. This interest comes in part from the marketing of certain premium products as trendy, but according to experts, is “pandemic-sensitive,” and not expected to last long-term.
When it comes to holiday shopping and preparing for this year’s celebrations, IRI says it will be a different story, predicting that price will be a deciding factor for many consumers when shopping for holiday groceries and will drive them towards value brands. A survey from Chicory in September had the same conclusion, with 70% of participants indicating that they will be more price-sensitive this year compared to previous ones. This will leave name brands to catch up and find ways to draw consumers back to them, a task that is not impossible according to reports that although price is a priority this year, quality is the primary consideration for 52% of shoppers. Convincing consumers that a certain, pricier product cannot be substituted for a cheaper version will be key to encouraging sales for more expensive brands, as well as altering marketing strategies to appeal to the current times which will be marked by smaller, at-home gatherings.
Taking the Lead on Plant-Based
Unilever PLC publicly voiced its goal this week to hit $1 billion in plant-based meat and dairy alternative sales within the next five to seven years, which will be spread out among its brands including Hellmann’s, Magnum, and The Vegetarian Butcher. The company noted the health benefits that come with a diet that relies on fewer animal products, and has taken responsibility as a leader in the food and beverage world to help lead the charge. In the past few years its plant-based profile has expanded, notably with the acquisition of The Vegetarian Butcher (which has since spread to 35 countries and is the supplier of Burger King’s plant-based meat in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East), and will continue to offer more options across more of its brands. This is not the first of Unilever’s “better-for-you” goals, which also include halving its operations’ food waste by 2025, and doubling its number of positive nutrition products by the same year. Says Hanneke Faber, president of Unilever’s Foods & Refreshment Division, “It’s not up to us to decide for people what they want to eat, but it is up to us to make healthier and plant-based options accessible to all. These are bold, stretching targets which demonstrate our commitment to being a force for good.”
Getting Holiday-Ready with Walmart
As the holidays roll around, stores are getting creative with the ways they’ll nurture holiday sales in 2020. Walmart has launched Walmart Cookshop, a video platform that features celebrity guests including Jamie Oliver, Sofia Vergara, and Patti LaBelle, to bring viewers content ranging from innovative, healthy recipes to strategies for how to set the perfect Thanksgiving table. Israel-based company Eko gives the content an interactive aspect, allowing watchers to control the ingredients and flavors as they follow along.
Walmart is also gearing up for an influx of in-person interactions, hiring over 157,000 associates, more than twice last year’s number, of personal shoppers to put together online orders for delivery and pickup. While the program started six years ago, this year will be its largest by far due in no small part to the effects of Covid-19 on the shopping experience. Nordstrom, Target, and Amazon will also be upping their seasonal help to meet demand, with Q3 already having shown a significant increase in eCommerce sales compared to previous quarters.
How grocery categories have fared during the pandemic by Catherine Douglas Moran, Food Dive
By the numbers: Examining the cost of the pandemic on the meat industry by Lillianna Byington, Food Dive
How 6 chains expanded pickup during the pandemic by Jeff Wells, Grocery Dive
Why the $91 Billion Pet Food Industry Is Still Open For Disruption by Jaron Lukas, Entrepreneur