Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday Morning Java

News, Facts, Fun and Information to Start Your Week Off With a Jolt

Super Donuts and NFL-Themed Milk
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Super R Foods, owned by former NFL football great Franco Harris, and Kroger Co. are introducing Super Donuts and Super Buns to Kroger stores this week just in time for the start of the NFL football season. Super Donuts and Buns are a new line of nutritionally fortified baked goods marketed by Harris' baking company. The company has been selling them to schools, health care institutions and the military since 1990 but never at retail until now. The super baked goods will be sold exclusively by Kroger, beginning first in the chain's Ohio and Pennsylvania stores.

Franco Harris was a star running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The products are the only nutritionally fortified baked goods certified by the USDA to be sold in U.S. school districts. The Super Donuts and Buns are frozen and come in 12oz packages. The packages sold in the Ohio stores will feature a picture of Cincinnati Bengal's Safety Madieu Williams. Williams will be blitzing Ohio Kroger stores making personal appearances tied-in with the super baked goods introduction. The packages sold in Pennsylvania will feature the likenesses of famed Penn State coach Joe Paterno and Pittsburgh Steelers reciever Hines Word for a local marketing angle.

Not to be outdone in the NFL theme and marketing front, the Midwest Dairy Association, based in Overland, Kansas, is rolling out a line of NFL-themed milk products called Gridiron brand. The milk is packaged in 8oz plastic resealable containers and features all 32 NFL team marks/logos as well as themes from, the NFL's interactive website for kids. Omaha, Nebraska-based Roberts Dairy Co. is handling the distribution of the Gridiron line to retail food stores and schools.

The NFL-inspired milk line includes regular milk , chocolate and strawberry flavors in fat-free, 1 %, 2% and regular butter fat gradations. The milk is being marketed to food retailers throughout the Midwest. The Midwest Dairy Association represents dairy farmers in Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and eastern Oklahoma.

The NFL season got underway in full earnest on television yesterday. Does anyone else see a cross-promotion with the Super Donuts and Buns and NFL Gridiron Milk? We think the Midwest Dairy Association needs to call Franco Harris and Kroger, or vice-versa.

Monday Morning News Briefs

Specialty Soda Beverage Sales Booming

Coca Cola and Pepsico still control 80% of the carbonated soda pop market. It's a huge market however and as such the remaining 20% makes for serious business. It's within this 20% where more and more consumers are looking for alternatives to the basic cola product. And an increasing number of specialty or new age beverage companies (and the big guys too) are marketing a vast array of soda options to these consumers. Every thing from exotic flavors to all natural and organic to retro varieties from decades past. And retailers are making more room on their shelves for these beverage products as they see the demand growing for them. You can read more about the exploding specialty soda pop market in this article from today's Chicago Tribune here.

Super Chilled Coca Cola

Smaller, specialty beverage companies may be nipping at Coca Cola's marketing heels but the beverage giant is far from being asleep. Coca Cola has come up with an innovative new way to keep their sodas in the can ice cold. The technology is called "super chilled" and it makes ice cubes right in the can. Read more here.

A Devil of a Micro-Brew

Canada's Great Lakes Brewing company is having a Devil's good time with its latest specialty beer--Devil's brand Pale Ale. The new brew completes the Satanic theme by being packaged in a black can which features a 666 road sign on it and the tag line..."The Devil Made Me Brew It." The company promises they aren't influenced on a day to day basis by the forces of dark. And in fact they do have a number of other brands, none of which mention Satin either in name or even in passing. Read more here.

Is There a Market For Pizza and Wine?

Speaking of beer, it's been the favorite companion to millions of consumers internationally when it comes time to choose a beverage to have with pizza. In fact the words "pizza and beer" almost go together as one. However, Ohio-based JZ wine Company believes pizza and wine is a pretty good choice as well (as do many French and Italians) and the company is introducing the Pizza Vino wine brand. The new pizza-friendly wine line consists of three single grape varietals (Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. The bottle labels have humerous and catchy phrases that reinforce the idea of pairing the wines with pizza.

An Austrailia winery also is joining the "pizza and wine" marketing movement. The australia Pizza Wine Company has introduced Pizza Red, a red wine the company says is the perfect companion to pizza. You can read more about both wine companies and their marketing efforts to make wine at least a part-time consumer companion to pizza here.

Consumer Research Briefs

The Supermarket as the Medium and the Message

The retail store may some day soon replace television and other media as the primary place for advertising by food and grocery manufacturers and marketers. A research project being conducted by Proctor & Gamble, 39 other companies and Kroger CO. supermarkets could lead the way. Over the past five months the companies have placed infared sensors throughout supermarket aisles in an attempt to track and document how likely shoppers are to buy packaged foods, health and beauty aids and other grocery products influenced by in-store media messages. The results could not only effect where and how companies advertise but also how stores are laid out and designed. Read more about the fasinating research and its possible marketing implications here.

Ethnic Marketing: Hispanic Influence

Culture and ethnicity goes far beyond our personal lives. Our ethnic background and cultural traditions not only represent who we are but we influence others based on our nationality, where we were born and the cultural traits and behaviors we carry from our ethnic backgrounds. The recently just released Yankolovich Monitor Multicultural Marketing Study points to these fact calling them the "commercialization of culture." For example the study shows that in 2004 34% of non-Hispanic whites thought Hispanics were influencing everyone's lifestyle. Today, just three years later in 2007, the study shows that number has increased considerably to 44%. These "influencers" also increase consumer behavior dramatically the study says. You can read a full summary of this important annual study here. This is the fourth year Yankolovich has been studying this phenomenon.

U.S. Chocolate Market Growing Upscale and Natural

With U.S. total sales of $16 billion dollars this year, the chocolate market is predicted to grow by $2 billion in the next five years, for total sales of $18 billion by 2011. This rapid growth will be primarily increased consumer demand for premium and all natural, organic and Fair Trade chocolate and increased merchandising of these products across all retail channels, according to a new report from market research firm Packaged Facts. You can read a complete summary of this growing chocolate market, fueled by premium and natural confection products here.

Premium Chocolate Maker Lindt Sweet Record Profits

One of the largest premium chocolate and confections companies in the world, Lindt & Sprungli, is cashing in on the growing demand for premium chocolate products in the U.S. and elsewhere. The confections company recently reported sweet profit growth for it's first half 2007 sales. The company reported its U.S. sales were particularly strong and said that although premium chocolate sales worlwide are flat they continue to grow in the U.S. You can read more here.

Manufacturer Says New Chocolate Bar Heart-Healthy

In a bid to take advantage of the growing market for fortified chocolates, Innovative Life Sciences Co. has developed and introduced the "The Heart Chocolate," which is claims benefits people with Type-2 diabetes or high cholestrol. The chocolate bar contains a combination of cinnamon and bitter melon (the fortification) which the company claims can lower blood sugar and lower cholesterol. You can read more here.

Food Retailing Briefs

Research Report: Retailers Ready For Trade Promo Changes

This year retail trade promotion spending it at an all-time high after beginning to drop in 2005. However according to a new research study from Cannondale Associates, Inc. This isn't such great news. Rather the research report says manufacturers and marketers tend to use trade promotion spending to achieve short term sales gains rather than part of an overall marketing program--and this is frustrating retailers. You can read a summary of this new study here.

Wal-Mart Expanding Green Goals to Suppliers

Wal-Mart announced today its launching a detailed program and will set out how it plans to cut its carbon emmissions chain-wide. The retailer also plans on including its numerous suppliers in this green process. The mega-retailer will ask many of its suppliers to detail to Wal-Mart how much and what types of carbon is used in producing the companies products for sale at Wal-Mart stores. The retailer will begin this as a pilot program called the carbon disclosure project but grow it over time adding more suppliers. This article from today's Financial Times describes Wal-Mart's announcement and plans regarding their own carbon emmissions as well as the supplier pilot program.

C-Stores Include Going Upscale in Expansion Plans

With supermarkets elbowing in on the traditional C-store features like gas stations, Convenience store operators are looking for ways to create new categories for their stores as a way to be able to expand and grow. Two such positioning points for C-store industry leaders Wawa Markets and Sheetz are to create more upscale looking stores that feature more specialty product offerings and fresh prepared foods. Wawa already is the leader in upscale C-store retailing and Sheetz isn't far behind. And of course there's the multi-store gorilla Tesco lurking in the wings with its Fresh & Easy convenience-style format ready to begin operating in the U.S. in November. You can read what these C-store retailers are doing in the areas described above as well in other areas to expand and grow their businesses here.

Cape Cod Independent Grocer to Turn Waste to Energy

Ring Brothers Marketplace, an independent grocer on Cape Cod, has recieved a $195,00 grant from a group called the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative's renewable Energy Trust for an energy system that breaks down organic wastes using anaerobic digestive technology. The new system creates renewable energy to power the store by using waste as its fuel. The system also will allow the independent retailer to sell the renewable power to the local power company when production exceeds the store needs at any given time. Read more here

Monday Morning Feature

Is Ecological Farming the Future Ag Paradigm in the U.S.?

Jim Cochran, owner of the Swanton Organic Berry Farm near Santa Cruz in coastal Northern California, says today's traditional, coventional farmers--those who take government subsidies and use chemicals in growing their crops--are going the way of General Motors and Ford. Cochran says Organic and sustainable farming are the future paradigms in American agriculture, and like Toyota and Honda passed up GM and Ford without the auto giants even realizing what happened, ecological agricuture will do the same to conventional, subsidized farming, and those still practicing it haven't realized it yet. But it's not too late.

"It's parallel to the sea change that took place in Detriot in the 1970's," Cochran told the San Francisco Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead for a series of articles she wrote in yesterday's paper about federal farm subsidies, conventional agriculture, and ecological and organic farming. "They laughed at Toyota in the same way the people in (Washington) D.C. laugh at organics," Cochran says. "And the same way they laughed at the first Whole Foods store. And they are about to get the daylights knocked out of them."

In her main Sunday piece here Lochhead discusses the U.S. farm subsidy payment system. Among numerous other points, She sights the fact that even though California is the nation's largest agricultural producing state by a huge measure, it ranks near the bottom in recieving federal farm subsidy payments. This is because California produces a diverse array of fresh food crops (including organic) rather than focusing just on commodities like wheat, corn and cotton which are the top three crops the U.S. government pays out for in cash assistance to farmers.

Lochhead also has a couple companion pieces to the main feature linked above. The story featuring Jim Cochran quoted below if here. A second companion piece here piece talks about cotton subsidies in the U.S. and how cotton farmers get paid for what they don't grow as well as grow. Both of these pieces go with the main feature. The theme of the special report is the status of federal farm subsidies and whether or not they have outlived their usefulness in light of the changes in modern farming, particularly the growing movement towards sustainable and organic farming methods, food production and retailing. The report is excellent and we suggest it as important reading for our readers regardless of what segment of the food industry you are involved in.

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