Out With the Old, In With the New: Product Announcements
Coca-Cola has announced that it will be removing its coconut water brand Zico from the market, which has experienced a fall in growth over the past few years. In an effort to streamline its efficiency and hone in on consumer-favorites, the company will also consider discontinuing less popular versions of their Coke and Diet Coke varieties, putting more effort towards product volume and moving their most popular products through the supply chain. Likewise, General Mills is considering selling its Yoplait brand due to low earnings as the yogurt market becomes more crowded with varieties like Greek and plant-based.
Before the Butcher launched a line of plant-based burgers this week that reached an important goal for the plant-based industry: the patties are close to the same as the average price of lean ground beef. Founder and president of Before the Butcher Dan O’Malley said that the brand wanted to offer consumers an affordable plant-based option as meat alternatives become more favorable for consumers of all demographics. By making their logistics, manufacturing, and business practices more efficient they were able to lower the price of the usually-expensive product category.
Dole Packaged Foods has released several new frozen fruit smoothie varieties, bringing a keto blend to the lineup as well as a range of Dole Boosted Blends, in Protein, Energize, and Vita-C.
Food startup Eat Just will release a new version of its egg-substitute, claiming it performs better in the areas of taste, texture, and price than chicken eggs. The new JUST Egg version will launch at Whole Foods Market by the end of the year.
Siete Foods is bringing their products to Publix beginning this week, they announced on Twitter, marking an expansion of the brand’s nationwide retail footprint.
Upton’s Naturals announced its latest product, a shelf-stable vegan alternative to fish that is available nationwide beginning this week.
Target has partnered with NYC-based bakery Milk Bar to bring a selection of its cookies and cakes to locations nationwide. The brand launched in Whole Foods earlier this year and continues to grow as consumers increase their spending on sweet snacks and desserts during the pandemic.
Israeli egg-replacement brand Zero Egg will be available to foodservice operators and manufacturers, launching officially on October 9th, World Egg Day. The company recently set up their US headquarters in San Francisco, and plans to debut a consumer product next year in stores
Takis, a snack brand known for its spicy flavor portfolio, is launching Takis Hot Nuts, peanuts in a crunchy shell coated in its trademark seasoning.
Vegan brand Beyond Meat has announced the release of Beyond Breakfast Sausage Links, its second product in the breakfast category and part of an effort to expand their presence there as plant-based alternatives grow in popularity and consumers increasingly eat breakfast at home.
Cedarlane Foods is launching new vegan entrées at Publix and Sprouts, including a lasagna and two enchilada varieties, a step for the non-vegan company towards the call for vegan options that are convenient.
Brick-and-Mortar Stands Strong
Upscale market chain Erewhon is launching its sixth Los Angeles location in the Silver Lake area, securing its reputation as a pioneer in the natural foods sector.
Despite setbacks this year for physical retail locations as consumers opted for online shopping in the midst of the pandemic, chains are continuing to expand their presence across the country. 90.4% of consumers reported in a survey from Ubimo that even during the pandemic they still made at least one trip to a brick and mortar store each week, with greater planning prior to each shopping trip in order to reduce in-store time, signalling that the in-person shopping experience is certainly not unimportant.
Wegmans will open its 13th store in Virginia next month, the beginning of a plan for Mid-Atlantic expansion that will include nine more stores spread across Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington D.C., tapping into the growing market there that has drawn them to focus on that region. The grocer, which has a cult-like following, also opened its first location in New York (Brooklyn) last year.
Also next month, German grocer Aldi will open a 25,000 square foot store in Philadelphia, 50% larger than its normal store space and poised to target shoppers that live within walking distance of the location as shoppers express a willingness to pay a bit extra for a store that can be reached on foot. In 2022 it will be joined by another 25,000 square foot store in Washing D.C., putting both those locations among the largest that Aldi operates.
Sustainability Takes Over
As sustainability becomes an integral part of consumers’ shopping considerations, brands have stepped up to make strides in the eco-consciousness of their products.
Weetabix announced 100% recyclable packaging for their On The Go breakfast drink line in their U.K. market, making 92% of their products’ packaging recyclable. The company aims to reach 100% recyclability by 2025, and has been working towards this goal for 18 months already.
Giant Food will voluntarily provide information about their sourcing methods to ensure sustainability for the seafood company, joining the Ocean Disclosure Project in their efforts to promote sustainable practices in the seafood industry. The company says they have always upheld certain sustainability criteria for their in-store products, but want to open that information to the public to encourage transparency.
After launching its ‘Palm Positive Plan’ last year, US confectioner Mars has reached their goal of being deforestation-free. The company was able to achieve it by simplifying their supply chain and reducing the number of mills it sources from, bringing it from 1,500 mill to under 100. The company says it hopes to cut its new number in half by 2022, and has found that by doing so it is able to effectively ensure that all of its suppliers are meeting its environmental and ethical standards. This is a huge step for the company, and chief procurement and sustainability officer Barry Parkin says they won’t stop there, adding that with their continued efforts in conjunction with the participation of other companies, “we can reach a tipping point to drive systemic change across the entire palm industry.”
With Halloween plans up in the air, candy brands have held back on spending money to drive product sales this year as its most lucrative season approaches. While Halloween-themed candy ads are up 17% compared to this time last year, there has been a 19% decrease in dollars spent on candy marketing, and a 38% drop in seasonal candy promotions from 2019. However, candy sales are up 26% year-over-year despite the overall sentiment from consumers being that their Halloween traditions will look different in 2020.
One in three households that participated in trick-or-treating last year will not do so this year, according to a survey conducted by IRI, with half of shoppers saying they will not buy as much candy this year in anticipation of low turnout. There’s an uptick in decorations and baking as parents find other ways to celebrate the festive holiday with their young children.
Walmart Takes to the Skies
Walmart has signed deals with three drone operators to see how aviation technology could assist with product delivery and better position them against Amazon, which recently got Federal Aviation Administration approval to operate a fleet of drones for delivery purposes. As eCommerce sales grow, retailers are searching for ways to quicken turnaround time and expedite the delivery process, something which drones have tremendous potential to help with.
In addition to the speed that this method offers, in the era of Covid-19 the no-contact aspect has also become a huge benefit for shoppers and retailers alike. Amazon is currently dominating this new frontier, having conducted testing and gained the approval necessary to begin implementing drone deliveries, which has left other companies trying to catch up. However, there are a few setbacks that are still preventing drone deliveries from being the norm that Walmart may be at an advantage for overcoming, like cost. “With 90% of Americans within 10 miles of the Walmart, a drone is actually a fantastic solution that we’re uniquely positioned to succeed in,” says Walmart’s senior vice president of customer products, Tom Ward.
The presence of Walmart stores across the country may enable the chain to lessen delivery costs and make drone deliveries more accessible than Amazon, who works out of fewer large fulfillment centers that are scattered across the U.S.. Along with cost, companies still contend with consumers who feel that drones are an invasion of privacy or an annoyance, but as the benefits stack up to outweigh the drawbacks, drones may soon become a fixture of the skies.
Delivery Gets Faster
Darkstore Inc. has launched FastAF, the company’s first consumer-facing app that promises to deliver a variety of goods to users within two hours. Currently only available in Los Angeles, the app uses DoorDash to handle the physical delivery of the products, which include brands like Nike and Adidas, and has plans to launch in New York City by the end of the year. The app joins many other companies’ attempts at tapping into the growing online shopping market which has exploded since the pandemic hit.
FastAF is among the quickest for delivery time, which could help or hinder its success depending on the need consumers have for rapid turnaround time on products like sneakers or sunglasses. “Two-hour urgency is likely to be less important or less common among consumers,” says Jennifer Wise, a principal analyst at market research firm Forrester Research Inc.. The app is hoping to mimic the experience of a physical store, with consumers going through and grabbing the items they need and receiving them almost as quickly as if they’d gone to the store themselves. “If you look at other on-demand services, they’ve partnered with retailers to bring them online,” says founder and executive Lee Hnetinka. “We are creating our own version of a retailer.”
One Good Read
What Will the Post-Pandemic Store Look Like? by Kat Martin, Winsight Grocery Business