IGA Urges More Baking Innovation

AVENTURA, Fla. -- Declining performance in some commercial baking [4]categories is leading IGA to urge suppliers to embrace more innovation.

Mark Batenic, CEO of IGA Inc., told the American Bakers Association Convention here that in some cases space commitment to the category may be more than its contribution to profit, which creates a challenging situation in an important segment for the retailer.

"Commercial bakery products appear to be largely undifferentiated, and our independent retailers question how many suppliers are really necessary to supply their stores," he said.


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"What we need at IGA from the bakeries is innovation," he said, defining that as "exciting new items that are good for you."

He added that "beyond innovation lies the advertising and merchandising of the category, which is absolutely paramount as well."

That "needs to improve with some brands to justify their positioning on the shelf."

IGA has approximately 1200 stores in the United States, and operates globally as well.

Batenic added, "What we see lacking is a commitment to our retailers' IGA brand, and how it's allocated to the shelf, and how new products are developed to include the development of 'better for you,' upscale brands which are healthy."

Read more: Low-Carb Trend Stills Packs a Punch: NMI [6]

Batenic said IGA retailers also need to take more leadership in the baking category to help spur growth.

In the same conference session, John Elstrott, chairman, Whole Foods Market [7], told bakers that understanding his company's structure was essential to growing business with the natural foods chain.

Whole Foods has some 350 stores across 12 regions, and each of the 12 is independently run and customized for local and regional needs.

"We're looking for you to help us find our weak spots, to fill a need," he said. "Ask us which products we're searching for. You may get various answers, depending on which region you're dealing with."

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