United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI) is relaunching its Wild Harvest free-from private brand with an updated logo and packaging and new items, starting with a plant-based meat collection.
Providence, R.I.-based UNFI said Tuesday that the Wild Harvest refresh brings a modernized look to the brand to enhance its shelf appeal — especially for entry-level organic food shoppers — and highlights qualities such as taste, family-friendly and ease of understanding what’s inside.
Along with natural color tones and softer fonts, Wild Harvest’s new package design emphasizes the brand’s commitment to organic farming and use of sustainable and safe ingredients. Also on the updated packaging to reinforce consumer trust in the brand are the “Our Harvest Promise” seal and all applicable health callouts, such as gluten-free and Non-GMO Project Verified, according to UNFI. More than 70% of Wild Harvest products are certified organic, and the food products are made without over 140 “undesirable” ingredients, the company said.
“We’re announcing a rebrand for Wild Harvest, which is our second-largest own brand at UNFI, and we’re really thrilled about it,” Amanda Helming, chief marketing officer for UNFI, told Supermarket News in an interview. “There’s a real opportunity with this brand in particular, which has the trifecta of meeting the consumers’ needs when it comes to finding great-tasting, quality products at a great value. And in this particular case, it’s free from a lot of stuff you don’t really know how to pronounce and don’t really want in your products.”
"This brand has legs. There’s plenty of room to grow across the UNFI customer base and retailer base." — Amanda Helming, UNFI chief marketing officer
Transparency played a pivotal role in the update for Wild Harvest, which is the top-selling health-and-wellness edible grocery brand within UNFI’s conventional trade area, according to Helming.
“It’s about making it even more transparent,” she said, noting that the brand hasn’t had a significant update since 2014 and that guidelines for product certifications and claims have changed. “So it’s about keeping up the quality of the products but communicating it more effectively and making it clear and easy again for parents and families to make that choice, versus having to read and guess.”
Overall, the Wild Harvest line has 600 SKUs, including 400 food items. Grocery categories include baking, beverages, canned goods, cereal and oatmeal, dairy and eggs, fresh produce, frozen food, meat, pantry staples, sauces and condiments, soup and broth, snacks and treats, baby food and pet food. Nonfood offerings include bath and body care, household cleaning products and paper goods, among other items.
“We did a Nielsen audit on the brand, and we also did follow on consumer research with regard to the packaging itself,” Helming said. “And we heard from consumers, ‘Look, we love your brand. We want to choose this brand. We want to continue to choose it. You can make it even easier for us.’ And then for consumers who maybe who hadn’t tried it before, they got very excited about some of the new look and feel and the concepts we were developing. They felt like it really fit their lifestyle and and their needs.”
Plans call for current and new Wild Harvest products to transition to the new brand look over the next 18 months, UNFI reported. The first products with the refreshed branding will be new plant-based protein items including burger patties, breakfast patties, grinds and meatballs, slated to begin hitting store shelves in April.
Making their debut at the 2022 Natural Products Expo West Show, the plant-based protein collection marks Wild Harvest’s entry into plant-based meat segment, UNFI said. The products are made with pea protein and non-GMO Project Verified ingredients and are free of soy, gluten and palm oil. What’s more, the new offerings are priced 5% to 10% less than their national-brand plant-based meat counterparts, Helming noted.
“These patties have pure ingredients. It’s a shorter ingredient deck than any national brand out there, and they’re non-GMO Project Verified. And we know pea [protein] is trending in frozen,” she said. “So the goal is to make sure we’re continuing to deliver the quality across the portfolio, and this was a specific category that the consumer was looking for. And there are retailers looking to us to offer wallet-friendly options to national brands in this space.”
UNFI’s second-largest own brand behind Everyday Essential, Wild Harvest is carried at about 3,300 grocery retail locations as well as at 1,200 Rite Aid drugstores.
“This brand has legs. There’s plenty of room to grow across the UNFI customer base and retailer base,” said Helming. “We’re certainly sitting in a good spot as far as being No. 1 in that health-and-wellness edible space, but we also have room in produce. I think that’s an area where you’ll continue to see innovation from us.”
Other food and beverages in UNFI’s private-label portfolio, dubbed UNFI Brands+, include Woodstock, Field Day, Shoppers Value, Culinary Circle, Super Chill, Arctic Shores, Springfield, Asian Gourmet, Stone Ridge Creamery, Mt Vikos, Tumaro’s and Koyo.
“We have 5,000 SKUs across 18 brands in 250 categories. It’s the equivalent of a top 40 CPG [company],” Helming said. “It’s an interesting portfolio, too, in that it’s got something for everyone. And by everyone, I mean our retailers. It’s about helping them be stronger.”