NEW YORK — More affordable imports are supplementing last year's best-sellers at The Food Emporium's second annual “Taste of Australia” event.
Australian nuts, oils, cheese, chocolate and premium meats are being highlighted on endcaps and at in-store demos at A&P's 16 Food Emporium banner stores. Supported by the The Australian Made, Australian Grown Campaign, the promotion runs through Jan. 30.
Foods that fit the budget of adventurous shoppers who can't afford to travel are a new addition in 2010.
“Based on the economy, we were more sensitive to price points and we brought in more basic merchandise than we did last year,” Michael Corsello, Food Emporium's senior category manager for grocery, dairy, frozen, general merchandise, specialty foods and HBC, told SN.
Go Natural fruit and nut bars, Cocoa Farm Wine Chocolate and Darrell Lea Soft Eating Liquorice are among the more affordable items making their debut.
Although products imported from halfway around the world “tend to be on the expensive side,” according to Corsello, the retailer minimized shipping costs by ordering large inventories in advance.
The strategy only applies to shelf-stable Australian fare — not just due to its long shelf life — but since it's harder to come by than its perishable counterparts, said Corsello.
He explained that since Australian beef, lamb and barramundi fish can be sourced through existing importers, placing piecemeal orders isn't as costly. “Taste of Australia” nuts, oils, beer, water and crackers, on the other hand, aren't as readily available.
“On the grocery side we're the exclusive, or one of the exclusive, importers of these items,” Corsello said.
The products were specially selected for Food Emporium by Australian Made, Australian Grown, a non-profit organization that promotes the Australian Made and Australian Grown logos in export markets.
AMAG works with the Australian Trade Commission, known as Austrade, to identify Australian items suitable for distribution through U.S. retailers.
In order to be eligible, products must qualify for either the Australian Made or Australian Grown green logos, which feature a kangaroo. An item can be called Australian Made if it is made in Australia and more than 50% of its production costs are incurred in Australia. Australian Grown items must be grown in the country.
AMAG helped bring similar promotions to retailers like Andronico's Markets, Albany, Calif., and Bristol Farms, Carson, Calif.
“Many people want to visit Australia, but most won't ever make that trip,” said Ian Harrison, chief executive of AMAG. “A promotion likes this give U.S. consumers the opportunity to get a taste of Australia.”
Food Emporium shoppers have already grown accustomed to certain Australian items that gained popularity during last year's promotion.
“It was very well received,” said Corsello.
Products including Redisland extra virgin olive oil; Leather-wood honey and Meadow honey from Tasmania; and Majans Bhuja snack mix did well enough to gain permanent placement on Food Emporium's shelves. The retailer was so impressed with one particular item — Murray River Pink Salt Flakes — that it will soon become part of its private-label collection of salts.
Popular products from last year are once again taking center stage during this year's event. They'll join Cobram Estate and Pinnaroo Hill olive oil; Coopers Sparkling Ale and Pale Ale; and Balance Water's functional water with extracts from flowers native to Australia.
Even underperforming items from last year were considered for this year's event.
“We're an atypical retailer in that we will go back and do something again even if it was unsuccessful the first time, if we believe in it,” explained Corsello.
Food Emporium hopes to renew interest in items from Oz.
“We kind of gang everything together and use this event to create a lot of buzz,” said Corsello.
The retailer is spreading the word about “Taste of Australia” in-store with endcap banners, shelf tags, shelf talkers, flags and balloons. “We invest a lot in POP materials,” noted Corsello. AMAG also helped fund Food Emporium's promotional effort, noted Harrison.
The retailer is using an in-store stand-alone flier, and will feature a page promoting the event in next week's in-store circular. An ad might also appear in Food Emporium's seasonal magazine, Corsello told SN.
He plans to carry all of the items featured in this year's promotion for at least six months. Finding available space for them once the promotion is complete will be the biggest challenge. Located in Manhattan, Food Emporium's stores are between 8,000 and 17,000 square feet.
“It takes as much time to place an item for six days as it does for six years, so the intention is permanent placement,” Corsello said. “Obviously, as a retailer not everything you do is successful. We'll test these for a minimum of six months. But ultimately it's up to the consumer.”
Food Emporium's flagship Bridgemarket store is its only location featuring an international food section. Once Taste of Australia has run its course, the Australian fare will be merchandised in the Australia section.
Shoppers who buy two or more Australian Made foods from this location will receive a limited edition Donna Hay tea towel designed by the renowned Australian cook. Her cookbook featuring simple and seasonal recipes is sold at Food Emporium.
All other Food Emporium locations organize imports alongside domestic products by category.
“Specialty jams will go with the jams,” Corsello explained.
The Taste of Australia promotion comes at a time when the U.S. dollar is performing better against the Australian dollar than it is the euro. Food Emporium has also hosted promotions featuring foods from Austria, France, Italy, Quebec and Morocco.