Shifting Focus in Packaged & Prepared Foods

Shifting Focus in Packaged & Prepared Foods

By Angela Altass

The study used results gathered in 2015 and as the world has experienced a pandemic since then, many people have started to shift their thinking towards healthier food options and the trend towards healthier eating has also reached the packaged and prepared foods market. 

“We are seeing consumers continue to shift towards better-for-you brands with low to no sugar or artificial ingredients, non-GMO, free of the top allergens and gluten-free, to name a few,” notes Murray Bodnar, national business development manager, Marsham International Food Brokers. “Products with natural ingredients and a high source of protein continue to lead category growth. It’s important that today’s convenience stores place items in easy to find locations or with a dedicated merchandising space for a one stop better-for-you selection.”

 Today’s consumer is placing a high value on their health and wellness, says Bodnar.

“Brand recognition, loyalty, and trust continue to play a major role in consumer decision behaviour,” says Bodnar. “However, we also know today’s shopper wants personalized or new and innovative products that fit their personal needs and wants.”

One of the fastest growing segments of packaged foods in the convenience store is shelf-stable meat items, says Michael Cronin, executive director strategy and partnerships, The Great Canadian Meat Company.

“Brand recognition is very important for packaged foods because a strong brand will communicate trust and confidence in quality,” says Cronin. “Independent convenience stores in particular can benefit from having strong Canadian brands on their shelves and in their coolers. The Great Canadian Meat Company pepperoni and jerky do very well in convenience stores as they satisfy the customer’s hunger craving, are low in sugar and are high in protein.”

Great Canadian Meat Company products are available to be displayed within their own rack or can be incorporated into a store’s planogram, says Cronin. 

“Make meat snacks, or other high margin, high-basket items, clearly visible and be sure to train your staff to take advantage of the opportunity to bundle packaged, prepared foods with other items, such as beverages,” says Cronin. “Customers looking for a protein snack may be looking in various areas of the store. Be sure that high protein snacks are visible in the candy, cooler, and meat snack areas of the store.”

Dan Glendinning, country manager, Canada Foodservice, Hormel Foods Canada, notes that using ready-to-eat foodservice bulk packed products provides convenience stores with consistency and safety.

“Whether at multiple locations or from day-to-day, ready-to-eat foodservice prepared items provide consistency no matter who is preparing the finished goods,” says Glendinning. “Using fully cooked product is easier to handle and safer than raw product and since all our Hormel foodservice products in Canada are fully cooked, the safety and consistency aspects are covered.”

Hormel provides pizza toppings, such as pork and beef crumbles under the Premoro brand and Hormel Pepperoni, including Hormel Rosa Grande Pepperoni. 

“For sandwich applications, we can provide the evolution of cooked bacon with our Hormel Bacon 1 Perfectly Cooked Bacon and Hormel Fast ‘N Easy Cooked Bacon,” says Glendinning. “Both products provide a bacon that replicates cooked from raw, replacing the thin, brittle fully cooked bacon that has been in the industry for many years.”

These foodservice products must be kept refrigerated or at the proper temperature, notes Glendinning.

“Even though ready-to-eat products are safer than raw, those working in the store must know proper food handling techniques to avoid cross-contamination,” says Glendinning. “If being kept in a heated environment, you must make sure the product is at the proper holding temperature and is rotated throughout the day. Leftover product that has been used at a heated temperature must be disposed of at the end of the day.”

Whether selling packaged food items from the shelves of your store or using prepared foods in a foodservice program, keeping up-to-date on consumer trends will help make sure your store is providing customers with what they are looking for when they enter your store. 

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