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Almost Showtime

Almost Showtime

As the health and wellness editor here at SN, it might seem strange that I am going to the IDDBA show. JoJo potatoes! Rice pudding! Donuts!

Granted, not everything is health-related at this particular show. But there’s plenty of healthy stuff going on in the three categories that make up the event.

In deli, there are organic ingredients, more meatless options and better labeling of prepared foods; dairy, besides being a gateway category for organic, is where you’ll find probiotic yogurts and kefir; while over at the bakery a fair amount of items are made with whole grains.

It’s not just about health, however. Companies are using sustainable packaging and authentic ingredients, as well as communicating better stories about products. Because all but a tiny portion of the foods at the IDDBA show is fresh, these elements take on a tremendously important role in supermarket merchandising.

Merchandising prowess is always a key component of the annual show. The Show & Sell Center is where retailers, manufacturers and fixture suppliers come together to develop witty, but effective, displays. This year is no different. The theme — Rock Star Food — will be sure to elicit some entertaining, compelling responses. Some of the hot trends to be depicted include food mobility, “wellthy” eating, artisan foods and food customization.

Speaking of stars, the annual cake decorating competition is always fun to check in on. The three finalists, each representing their supermarket, work the entire show to create beautiful cakes that fill the case. Last year’s winner, Rebecca Woodard from Harp’s Food Stores in Lincoln, Ark., competed against equally talented compatriots from Town & Country Markets and Hy-Vee.

In the aisles, the talk will be about value — and price. The CEO of the Dollar General chain of dollar stores boasted during his company’s quarterly conference call this week that a self-audit showed Dollar General’s prices are on average 22% lower than those found in the supermarket channel. The company also said it was able to maintain a $1 price point on more than 200 items, despite inflation.

As we all know, mainstream foods retailers haven’t been as lucky. Cost increases are cutting into margins, and the push for value at a decent price continues to be the goal.