Ben & Jerry’s includes “everything but” GMOs, setting new standards and taking risks in U.S. ice cream industry

August 22 - For many Americans, Ben & Jerry's is synonymous with ice cream. Not only does the range of delectable flavor combinations appeal to consumers of all palate preferences, but many get a kick out of the often whimsical names given to the brand’s products, be they freezer aisle staples such as Cherry Garcia or limited edition flavors like the Liz Lemon frozen Greek yogurt named after Tina Fey’s iconic 30 Rock character.

Yet for all the clever marketing gambits, Ben & Jerry’s takes the responsibility of providing conscientiously crafted ice cream very seriously. In mid-2013, the company announced intentions to completely eliminate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from its products over the next few years. The switch is ongoing with several notable ingredient adjustments already in place.

Despite the national debate over GMOs, Ben & Jerry’s non-GMO commitment is not without its risks.

The Neandrathal didn’t eat yogurt, but in the age of brogurt, today’s man does

How Greek yogurt has helped pave the way for a manly yogurt

August 13 - News that Dannon Yogurt, the U.S., New York-based subsidiary of Danone, signed a new marketing contract with the National Football League (NFL) as its official yogurt sponsor may have come as a surprise to many. Food Navigator U.S.A., a food industry trade publication (July 30, 2014), reported a deal for the 2015 season, following Super Bowl ads placed in 2012 and 2014. For yogurt-makers, ongoing ad placement in front of a male-centric sport (60% male viewership, according to Scarborough Sports Marketing), like American football, is something of a recent development in the U.S.

Deconstructing “Hispanic” food shoppers

August 11 - Spending by Hispanic consumers for food at grocery and other food stores has grown more than 80% over the past decade, more than twice the growth rate registered by consumers on average.  With the continuing dispersal of Latinos into areas not traditionally known for having substantial Hispanic populations, Hispanic food shoppers now represent a rapidly growing segment of the customer base of grocers throughout the country.

While Hispanic food shoppers offer a rich opportunity for food marketers and retailers, they also present a potentially bewildering set of challenges.  As highlighted by Packaged Facts Hispanic Food Shoppers in the U.S. (June 2014), the in-store behavior of Hispanic food shoppers is the product of a complex interplay among a wide range of factors.  These include their national heritage, the extent of their affiliation with their original culture and the language they speak at home.  In short, the most important lesson for marketers and retailers looking to learn about how individual Hispanic food shoppers fill their shopping carts is that there may be no such thing as a typical “Hispanic” food shopper.

Concern over added sugars reshapes the sugar and sweetener market

August 6 - Our love-hate relationship with sugar and sweeteners is intensifying as concern about added sugars mounts and negative consumer sentiment related to zero calorie sweeteners is slow to wane.  Sugar, especially white granulated sugar, is being compared to tobacco and cigarettes in terms of the serious danger it poses to health, even being called toxic by some public health advocates.  Sugar is considered a culprit when it comes to obesity, rising rates of diabetes and, more recently, it is implicated as a factor in heart disease.  

As an indication of just how serious the concern over added sugars has become, the FDA has proposed a revision to nutrition labels that will specifically highlight the added sugars content of foods and beverages.  Generally, consumers agree that Americans consume too much sugar.  A national online consumer survey conducted by Packaged Facts in April 2014 found that 72% showed top 2 box agreement with the statement, “kids eat too much sugar” while 66% agreed that “adults eat too much sugar.”

Zurich romances Kansas City

July 18 - In the chocolate market, as in life, you never know what you are going to get—as evidenced by the announcement of Zurich-based Lindt & Sprüngli that it will acquire Russell Stover. The acquisition will firmly establish Lindt as the number # 3 chocolate candy manufacturer in the U.S. market—still well behind Hershey and Mars, but now firmly ahead of Swiss rival and global food leader Nestlé.  This development has far-reaching implications for premium chocolate in the U.S. market, particularly in the seasonal and gift-box market segments.

The deal will combine one of the U.S. market’s best-known gift chocolate companies with a global player that has been working hard to grow its presence in the U.S. market, including through the acquisition of Ghirardelli. With the purchase of Russell Stover (which also owns the Whitman's and Pangburn's brand lines), Lindt will strike a new balance between Swiss import and made-in-the-USA—with Lindt pointedly stressing its commitment to maintaining Russell Stover’s headquarters in Kansas City and domestic manufacturing plants. 

Coffee companies go green to make green with eco-friendly maneuverings

July 16 - An increasing number of U.S. businesses are concerned with managing their ecological footprint, and in recent years this dedication to going green has trickled down to the U.S. coffee market.  In particular, to have a competitive foodservice coffee platform, being environmentally and socially responsible is increasingly important, according to Coffee and Ready-to-Drink Coffee in the U.S.: Retail and Foodservice, 8th Edition, a recent report by Packaged Facts. 

But beyond efforts swirling around the foodservice coffee segment, Packaged Facts predicts in Single-Cup Brew Beverage Products in the U.S.: Coffee Pods and Beyond that improved recyclability and sustainability will become ever more important to the success of the single-cup brew market—if not a cost of entry—as the business matures. 

Restaurants tap innovation in culinary development and marketing to drive protein on menus

July 9 - Consumers are looking for foods that provide health and wellness benefits and contain ingredients that address illness mitigation. Packaged Facts data from a January-February 2014 survey notes that 57% of consumers are looking for foods with nutrients that address health concerns. Among the nutrients consumers are keying in on is protein. Protein provides many benefits, including its support of weight management and proper growth, immune, heart and respiratory function.

Beyond the kale: American foodies seek exotic, elaborate, and upscale packaged salads

Foodies seek unique and exotic salads and fruit produce products.

June 25 - Consumers’ eagerness to experiment with new foods, flavors, and world cuisines — nearly half of consumers surveyed by Packaged Facts enjoy trying out new international foods — have led to increasingly exotic, elaborate, and upscale packaged salads from a number of different marketers.

Among the more unusual ingredients contained in new products are nutty quinoa, buckwheat soba noodles, black chia seeds, zesty crunchy pumpkin seed mix, wasabi arugula, and citrus herbs.

Pet industry gets bigger by getting smaller

Dog owners have increasingly opted for smaller dogs

June 2 – Small seems to be the way to go in the pet industry. It’s happening in a number of ways.

Looking ahead, these "small" trends are having a big impact on the pet industry and will be among the factors most significantly driving growth in 2014 and beyond, according to Packaged Facts’ U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2014-2015

Bottled water goes DIY

Water enhancers have the potential to make a significant impact on sales of bottled water.

March 20 - The market for bottled water has a promising future.  As consumers continue to reject carbonated soft drinks and embrace bottled water, many beverage industry analysts and marketers are convinced that the category will soon become the dominant non-alcoholic beverage.  Health and wellness concerns, the fitness fad and the perennial struggle of many consumers with overweight and obesity have combined to make bottled water the zero-calorie/ultra-low calorie beverage of choice for growing millions of Americans.

However, as seen in Packaged Facts May 2014 report Bottled Water in the U.S., the market for bottled water is being roiled by a number of disruptive forces, even in the midst of this generally upbeat view of the bottled water category. 

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