What Retail Buyers Want: Natural, Organic & Specialty Foods  6/21/2017

As part of their preparation for ECRM’s 60+ EPPS meetings, retail buyers complete a form on the EPPS prep site, indicating the subcategories they are buying for, and on what areas they are focusing their buying efforts.

Based on this information, collected from over 90 buyers and category managers attending ECRM’s upcoming Natural, Organic & Specialty Foods EPPS meetings, here are a few key areas of interest:

Healthy Snacks/Candy: Snacks and candy made from natural and organic ingredients, as well as “free-from” products like non-GMO, and gluten free, nitrate-free, low-salt, and low-sugar. Also noted were traditionally healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fruit bars, jerky and granola.

Functional Food & Beverages: Food and beverages with additional health benefits such as added probiotics, protein, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. This includes foods with certifications and attributes such as USDA Organic, plant-based, gluten- and dairy-free, paleo and vegan. Detox or “skinny” teas are also of interest.

Center Store: Natural and organic products aimed at the center store staples, including dry grocery items, condiments, soups, broths and noodles.

Close-outs, Off-Price, and Opportunity Buys: Extreme value items and opportunity buys that can help continually refresh assortments for those retailers looking for a “treasure-hunt” experience that keeps shoppers returning to find something new. This includes closeouts, excess inventory and packaging changes.

Private Brands: Merchandise across all candy categories that can be sold under the retailer’s brand. For most buyers, these products must have certifications such as GFSI, BRC and SQF.

Impulse Packaging & Merchandising: Products that are available on floor displays, power wings, clips strips, or other seasonal or new items that can be merchandised off the shelf or at the front end.

Ethnic Foods: While many buyers specifically are looking for items that address the Hispanic market, all kinds of ethnic foods are gaining in popularity, especially as Millennials increasingly seek out more exotic flavors.

Natural & Organic Grab-and-Go: For wellness-minded consumers, healthy portable meals they can take with them, such as fruit cups, salads and wraps.

Oh, Canada!: As with ECRM's Frozen, Deli, Meat, Dairy & Bakery EPPS, several of the buyers attending this EPPS are from large retail chains up north, and in addition to the items noted above, they also have particular requirements that are unique to the Canadian market, such as bilingual packaging (English and French) and a Canadian broker or distributor.

For more information on doing business in Canada, please see the posts below:

Sarah Davidson

SVP of Grocery

Sarah Davidson is ECRM's SVP of Grocery, and can be reached at 440-542-3033

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