Food retailers and their supplier partners are placing greater emphasis on data sharing and other collaborative activities, with three in four respondents to SN’s Supplier Leadership Awards survey affirming that over the past year partnerships between retailers and suppliers have improved.
A mutual interest in the shopper experience is helping forge the bond, observers note.
“As the economy continues to strengthen, suppliers and retailers are again investing in what is best for the shopper — and this requires working together to maximize the shopping experience, and thus, profitability for the retailer and suppliers,” said one respondent.
Take, for instance, the efforts of Land O’Lakes, winner of SN’s Supplier Leadership Award for Collaboration, for its work with trading partner The Kroger Co., Cincinnati.
The retailer and supplier leveraged shared data to develop a more transparent business relationship and drive sales. Together they reduced Land O’Lakes out-of-stocks by 50% at Kroger and grew butter sales at a rate faster than the industry average.
Nominations for SN’s third annual Supplier Leadership Awards were collected this summer via its Supplier Leadership Awards survey, and supplemented with suggestions from SN’s editors and industry analysts. With special consideration paid to nominations citing specific benefits to retailers, SN editors selected the winners.
The survey also found that trading partners are placing importance on product innovation, with 65% of food retail industry respondents identifying it as one of the most important initiatives on which suppliers should focus.
“Retailers are now coming to the supplier and asking for new and improved products,” noted one respondent.
Kellogg Co., winner of SN’s Supplier Leadership Award for Product Innovation, is delivering on such requests. Though cereal has long been its bailiwick, Kellogg is reinventing the cereal aisle with portable breakfast options.
Rich in fiber and protein, Special K Nourish hot cereal and Kellogg’s To Go Breakfast Shakes are designed, in part, to incite trial among the millions of Americans who skip breakfast each morning.
Sustainability (57.1%) and food safety (57.1%) are also worthy of supplier investment, according to the majority of respondents.
General Mills, winner of the Sustainability award, is blazing a trail for greener packaging. Its Cascadian Farm brand recently launched a cereal box liner made with plant sources.
The winner of SN’s award for Food Safety — Kellogg Co. — is recognized for getting out ahead of the final Food Safety Modernization Act rules with a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)-based system that will roll out this month.
Another best-in-class effort has been launched by The Clorox Co., winner of the Packaging Innovation award. A new trigger mechanism on spray bottles enables users to get every last ounce of liquid out of the bottle without a struggle.
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Likewise moving the needle on the waste reduction effort is Campbell Soup Co., which partners with the Food Bank of South Jersey on its annual Just Peachy campaign. The Community Outreach award winner’s culinary and product development teams developed a recipe for peach salsa, which makes use of 800,000 pounds of unsalable peaches that were diverted from landfills. Last year, $100,000 was raised from the sale of the salsa, and used to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Pinnacle Foods’ Birds Eye is another company assisting those in need. The winner of SN’s award for New Media Marketing launched a texting program to help low-income families — many of which are Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients — make healthier food choices.
Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program has earned the brewer SN’s Supplier Leadership Award for Cause Marketing. The initiative, which helps owners of small food and beverage companies secure the loans necessary to grow their business, is helping drive innovation in the marketplace. Take, for instance, beneficiary City Feed and Supply, Jamaica Plain, Mass., which was named one of several Outstanding Retailers of 2012 by the Specialty Food Association. Owner David Warner says the $20,000 loan secured under Brewing the American Dream was essential to his success.
Manufacturers are also pushing the envelope with innovative marketing programs. The Coca-Cola Co., winner of SN’s Integrated Marketing award, launched the Coca-Cola Young Designer Challenge in partnership with Target, and invited aspiring designers to design a Diet Coke-branded T-shirt inspired by the style of singer/songwriter Taylor Swift. The winning design sold for $9.99 in the beverage aisle in all Target stores last month.
A prefabricated display developed by POS Merchandising award winner Starbucks is also creating in-aisle excitement. Used by chains like Safeway, Starbucks’ 9-foot “Signature Aisle” display is designed to reflect the ambiance of a Starbucks cafe.
Just as the java brand is drawing attention to its grocery products with an innovative strategy, sister companies and winners of the Shopper Insights award, Mars Chocolate N.A. and Wrigley, are helping supermarkets draw attention to the highly impulsive candy and gum categories.
The two analyzed shopper insights to determine that self-checkout is an area of particular incremental sales opportunity. While almost 80% of self-checkout lanes have some merchandising, nearly one-third lack confectionary products, according to the companies.
Sales growth is also the objective of plans designed by Tyson Deli to spur deli sales. The winner of SN’s award for Category Management executes retailer-specific investigations into why performance may differ from that of other retailers, and develops a strategic plan for growth.
Taking top honors in the Support for Small Chains and Independents category is Kraft Foods, which SN salutes for its work with independent operators and their wholesalers to design programs to fit the specific needs of local communities.
PepsiCo, meanwhile, is innovating in the area of DSD logistics with a new program called GEO Box that allows it to combine delivery routes for grocery and convenience stores on a single truck, increasing the number of customers served per route by 15% and reducing fuel costs by 5%.
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