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What Retailers Looked For

Retailers I talked to at the IDDBA Dairy-Deli-Bake 2010 Seminar & Expo said they’d come this year to get merchandising ideas, and, of course, to see what’s new, and they said they hadn't been disappointed. That may not be a surprise, but what’s significant is that more than one said he was looking for manufacturers to produce private label bakery products. That reflects what we’ve seen over the past couple of years – a growing number of retailers going to private label in perishables categories.

Looking for what’s new in bakery, officials from Nash Finch said they’d noted with interest an intriguing selection of new artisan breads. And Supervalu’s people said they were looking at new breakfast items like muffins, and ready-to-go breakfast sandwiches.

A rice cake-making machine caught the eye of many show attendees. It makes a big popping sound as low-cal rice cakes sort of fly out of the dispenser, fresh and ready to bag-up. “That would make great theater,” one retailer said.

Rouse’s officials told us the most outstanding – and they did call it out standing – was a new ingredient called Qimiq, imported and distributed by Atlanta Food International.

It’s a low-cal, shelf stable item that can be whipped up into a topping that tastes just like whipped cream, or it can be used to make an eggless mayonnaise. After talking to Rouse’s Scott Miller, I went to the AFI booth at which several retailers were gathered around, tasting products made with the new item. I tasted the tuna fish salad made with Qimiq as its binder. It was really good. I was told by an enthusiastic AFI rep that Qimiq also lengthens shelf life of such products made with it.

Some retailers I talked to said they were looking at combi ovens and also at flavored cheeses. One New York supermarket man said an organic camembert had caught his eye, and others said they were surprised by the plethora of flavored cheeses on display this year. Not just flavored cheddars, but flavored Goudas and soft cheeses. One Wisconsin farmstead cheese by Marieke Gouda, I thought packed a very memorable flavor punch. It was honey clover Gouda. It won a 2010 World Cheese Championship award. So did the company’s burning nettle mélange Gouda.

The growth of flavored cheeses – in all varieties -- has boomed over the past three or four years, Marilyn Wilkinson, at WMMB’s booth, told me. “Consumers are more adventurous. They’re looking for bolder flavors.”