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chew on this

How Annie’s Homegrown is Helping Shape the Future of General Mills

Posted by Dale Buss on March 20, 2015 12:08 PM

Annie's is fast becoming the tail wagging the dog. The organic startup, which was acquired by General Mills in a deal that closed in October, is leading the way for its new corporate family in areas such as product innovation and distribution.

Despite its prior efforts to overhaul its major categories, General Mills has been feeling the pinch as consumers turn toward more organic, natural and less-processed foods.

Along with the company’s other natural and organic brands—Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, Larabar and Food Should Taste Good—the Annie’s Homegrown brand is helping make General Mills' products more competitive and relevant to consumers ... even while Annie's brand loyalists may be concerned that Annie's will lose what makes it special under its new owner.Continue reading...

brand roadmaps

Pressed for Growth, Campbell Wants to Be 'More Than Just Soup'

Posted by Dale Buss on December 18, 2014 02:05 PM

Campbell's Soup Mmm Mmm Good hashtag

Campbell's Soup has come a long way from the simple days when its iconic slogan "M'm M'm Good!" meant that sales were as healthy as a steaming bowl of tomato soup. Today's internal catchphrase for the company is "Real Food That Matters for Life's Moments." And therein lies a new tale.

Under CEO Denise Morrison, who is now entering her fourth year, Campbell has tried mightily to resurrect sales of its staple product: Mainstream soups. The company has tried taking salt out and then putting it back in. It has tried riotous new flavors and uncommon packaging to attract millennials who haven't grown up on soup. It has called the stuff "Go Soup!" and come up with recipe apps for soup. Campbell also has tried various pricing and other promotional gambits.

But even the occasional wins in the soup category have turned out to be chimeras. For example, for the quarter that ended Nov. 2, Campbell's U.S. soup sales were up by 6 percent—just the second time that has happened in 15 months. But the gain was a false one, BuzzFeed reported, in that it occurred mainly because big retailers including Walmart made holiday orders earlier than usual.Continue reading...

Whole Foods Values Matter: A New Campaign Tells A Familiar Story

Posted by Darcy Newell on October 21, 2014 01:12 PM

This week, Whole Foods Market debuted its first national advertising campaign across the U.S. Though the company has been around since 1980 and has grown to 381 stores nationwide, it has previously focused on communicating at the local and regional levels, touting specific or seasonal offerings, rather than sharing a unified, high-level message.

Since its beginning, Whole Foods has held on to its share of a market it essentially defined. After all, before Whole Foods’ launch three and a half decades ago, consumers didn’t have a resource for healthy, organic and ethically-sourced food, and for a long time, Whole Foods stores were the only place to find it. 

Today, however, new options—like grocery stores, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) groups and organic food delivery services—continue to emerge to challenge Whole Foods’ market dominance. Many of these players tout an evolved proposition—giving the healthy and environmentally-inclined consumer delicious fare that satisfies his or her appetite, conscience, and—this is new—wallet.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Target, Walmart Get Behind Natural Brands in Major CSR Push

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 18, 2014 03:57 PM

Steadfast retailing rivals Target and Walmart came together earlier this month under one uniting topic: sustainability. The pair co-hosted the Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Summit in Chicago alongside Forum for the Future to help "improve sustainability performance in the personal care and beauty industry."

"We think it's the right time to have a discussion" and come to a collaborative point of view, said Christina Hennington, Target's SVP of health and beauty, the Chicago Tribune reported, adding the demand for such products over the last five years "has been staggering," but, "it's a complicated value chain."

Target has seen a 20-percent growth in natural and organic products, which 97 percent of its shoppers purchase in some form or another. Walmart, meanwhile, created a sustainability index for hundreds of product categories and has pushed its suppliers to eliminate or reduce 10 toxic chemicals from beauty products, household cleaners and cosmetics. Similar commitments have been made by Avon and Procter & Gamble.

“We need to move faster toward that goal because the expectations are changing,” said Rob Kaplan, Walmart’s director of product sustainability. “We’re looking for our suppliers to demonstrate voluntary leadership and to make commitments and to move from a conversation to action.”Continue reading...

chew on this

Kashi Moves Back to Cali as Cereal Brands Struggle to Regain Footing

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 15, 2014 05:51 PM

For the last decade, increasingly on-the-go consumers are choosing quick-fix breakfasts like energy bars, yogurt or drive-through options to satisfy their morning hunger. Add to this a shift in consumer awareness of GMO-processed foods and a move towards healthier eating habits, and the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms of yore are falling out of favor.  

While about 90 percent of American households still reportedly buy ready-to-eat cereal, sales are down to $10 billion from $13.9 billion in 2000, are are projected to fall to $9.7 billion in 2014. Post Holdings' Alpha-Bits and Grape-Nuts brands saw sales down 3.4 percent in the third quarter, while Kellogg's, the maker of once-popular Pop-Tarts, breakfast bars, beverages and cereal brands, saw a 4.9 percent sales decrease in Q2. 

"The common observation by a lot of companies facing declining cereal sales is that this is a kind of death by a thousand cuts,” Nicholas Fereday, author and analyst at Rabobank, told the Boston Globe. Contributing factors include a declining birthrate (fewer kids at the breakfast table) and a shift in demographics that has contributed to a change in flavor preferences, such as Latinos and Asians prefer other breakfast foods besides cereals. And then there's Millennials.Continue reading...

brand strategy

Still Struggling, Campbell's Hopes to Generate Buzz with 200 New Products

Posted by Dale Buss on July 22, 2014 04:12 PM

Campbell Soup already has tried just about everything in its efforts to jump-start growth in the last few years under CEO Denise Morrison. And now the packaged-goods giant says it's going to try more of just about everything in a bid to finally get over the stagnation hump—and supercharge revenues by 20 percent to become a $10 billion company within the next five years.

Morrison plans to reach that goal with a flurry of new products, greater leveraging of Campbell's recent acquisitions and the likelihood of more acquisitions ahead to counter the slow-growth "new normal" in the US packaged-goods industry and to pick up the company's uneven recent efforts to spur new organic growth.

She and other Campbell executives told an investor conference this week that, among other things, they plan a blitz of more than 200 new products in 2015 that will include protein bars and shakes to capitalize on the protein trend, the first organic varieties of Campbell Soup including flavors such as chicken tortilla and garden vegetable, and a new range of V8 flavors that seek to seize on the juicing trend with varieties such as Purple Power, a veggie blend with beets.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Big Beef: Texas Ranchers Brand Chipotle Over its Agricultural Imports

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 27, 2014 10:37 AM

Chipotle, which markets itself as selling “Food With Integrity,” has rolled itself a burrito full of bad PR recently due to it importing its grass-fed, antibiotic-free beef from Australia instead of the US, where it says the product is in low-supply.  

But the claims by the quick-serve restaurant aren't going over well with Texas ranchers. Texas Agriculture commissioner Todd Staples wrote an open letter to Chipotle founder and co-CEO Steve Ells that decries him for his “misguided and irresponsible declaration that the meat from Australia is somehow more 'responsibly raised' than meat produced by Texas ranchers," Adweek reports. "Steve Ells should get together with Texas beef industry leaders to have a real discussion about 'meating' their needs.” He goes on to encourage those who dine at Chipotle to “push Mr. Ells” to work with his organization.

As Beef Magazine puts it, “(Ells) insinuates that traditional beef is full of hormones and antibiotics, and sourcing beef that has been raised with “integrity” is incredibly difficult in the US, which couldn’t be further from the truth.”Continue reading...

brand strategy

5 Questions with Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea

Posted by Dale Buss on June 23, 2014 10:40 AM

It took 10 years for Honest Tea to sell its first 112 million beverages as a savvy but slowly growing startup out of Bethesda, Md. But since Coca-Cola purchased its first interest in the organic-tea innovator in 2008, Honest Tea has sold 888 million units.

That totals one billion bottles, and co-founder and TeaEO Seth Goldman and his crew celebrated the landmark sale this week.

Many of those were sold last year alone, when Honest Tea achieved $112 million in sales. Along with rapidly accelerated sales—thanks to a vastly expanded distribution footprint and retail presence around the United States—there have been lots of other changes at Honest Tea since Coke took a minor share and, especially, after the beverage giant acquired the company in 2011 as part of its continuing experimentation with healthy-beverage segments.

Goldman still runs the company, and Honest Tea is sticking to its tried-and-true formula of low-calorie, organic teas and other beverages with authentic ingredients. But now he’s got the resources to stretch the brand into segments and categories where it couldn’t manage to go until it came under Coke’s ownership—and even a little cushion to fail occasionally.Continue reading...

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