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Retailers Give Warm Support to Frozens

Jewel-Osco, Safeway and Publix are hot when it comes to the coldest section of the supermarket. All three are among the 32 Gold and 46 Silver winners of the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association's best ice cream and novelties display contest. About two dozen brands participated in the nine-week June/July promotion, designed to boost category sales during the summer months.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Jewel-Osco, Safeway and Publix are hot when it comes to the coldest section of the supermarket.

All three are among the 32 Gold and 46 Silver winners of the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association's best ice cream and novelties display contest.

About two dozen brands participated in the nine-week June/July promotion, designed to boost category sales during the summer months.

Retailers, sales agents, manufacturers and local associations competed by building displays containing multiple ice cream and novelty products of the sponsoring brands.

A $100,000 online instant-win game for consumers was also included.

NFRA provided point-of-sale materials that incorporated a “Summer Favorites” promotional theme and the instant-win game information.

Award winners will be recognized Oct. 16 at NFRA's annual convention in San Antonio. The winning stores include a Safeway in Pine Top, Ariz.; Jewel-Osco, Bolingbrook, Ill.; Publix, Jacksonville, Fla.; Elmer's County Market, Escanaba, Mich.; Weis Markets, Lewisburg, Pa.; Bashas', Mesa, Ariz.; Albertsons, Los Lunas, N.M.; and Hy-Vee, Belton, Mo.

The promotion comes at a time when ice cream and novelty sales are flat to declining. For the 52 weeks ending Aug. 12, frozen novelty sales slipped 0.27% to $2.5 billion in food, drug and mass (excluding Wal-Mart), according to Information Resources Inc., Chicago. Ice cream sales, meanwhile, fell 0.59% to $4.5 billion.

Promotions like the ice cream and novelties event can help change that, said Nevin Montgomery, NFRA president and chief executive officer.

“We're doing a lot to create excitement in the frozen food aisle,” he told SN.

The ice cream contest was part of NFRA's “Frozen Foods — Fresh Ideas, Great Taste” promotional effort, introduced in 2002 to bring more consumers into the frozen food aisle and increase usage/sales across all product lines by promoting the convenience, quality, taste and meal solution aspects of the category.

NFRA also sponsors several other annual promotions, including March as National Frozen Food Month and the October Frozen Food Festival.

“As an association, we're trying to get retailers and manufacturers to work together to promote frozen foods year-round,” he said.

This year's October promotion will include a Sept. 30 freestanding insert in newspaper supplements sent to 15 million homes. The FSI will feature the 25 sponsoring brands, the promotion's “Fresh Ideas in Frozen Foods” message and a $7,500 sweepstakes.

The sweepstakes provides an opportunity for increased consumer involvement in the October promotion, as well as increased interaction among sponsoring brands, participating retailers and local associations. Consumers can enter online at www.EasyHomeMeals.com.

Along with NFRA's efforts to boost frozen food sales, retailers are taking steps to promote ice cream, too. Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover in Quincy, Mass., partnered with Edy's Grand Ice Cream recently to host a Free Scoop Day. The event was part of the retailer's Triple Winner Program to raise funds for pediatric cancer.

Visitors who donated $1 to the Jimmy Fund, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center or Children's Cancer Foundation received a free scoop of ice cream. This is the second year that Edy's and Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover hosted Free Scoop Day. Edy's Triple Winner Neapolitan ice cream, which is only available at Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover stores, will also help generate a maximum donation of $25,000 from Edy's to benefit the foundation.

Likewise, Publix has put its private-label ice cream in the spotlight with what it calls the “Mobile Ice Cream Parlor,” a mobile marketing unit that's designed to look like an old-fashioned ice cream truck. The vehicle has visited community attractions in Florida, including the Miami Seaquarium, South Beach and the Orlando Science Center. Once the mobile parlor arrives at an event, a cart is set up to give away samples and coupons.

In other NFRA news, the association honored dozens of retailers for best merchandising efforts for the fifth annual June Dairy Month promotion. It included a tie-in with Sony Animations' movie “Surf's Up.” NFRA offered promotional resources, including themed POS materials incorporating the “Surf's Up” characters. The industry was also encouraged to promote the new “Cool • Tasty • Wholesome — Refrigerated Foods” logo, and to direct consumers to the www.EasyHomeMeals.com website to enter a $7,500 “Catch the Cool Wave” sweepstakes.