Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Sandy Head, Secrets #3 and #5, Two Lists, Changing Retail Landscape, Chef Inspiration and Name Calling

Photo Source: McCormick   

Have a Lucky St. Patrick’s Day Weekend!

Here are some interesting happenings in the industry.

As many of you read this, I will be speaking to a room full of dairy processors and their suppliers at the All Star Dairy Association annual convention in Orlando. During my session, “Take Your Head Out of the Sand,” I will encourage processors to stop hiding from change and to embrace innovation, especially in the fluid milk category.

I will also share inspiration gained earlier in the week at IRI Summit 2014, also in Orlando. I was one of the few fortunate trade press editors to attend this annual convention hosted by Information Resources Inc. (IRI). The inspiration came from respected author and consultant Jason Jennings, who shared with summit attendees the five growth secrets of the world’s best-performing companies and leaders.

Space does not allow me to share all five secrets…plus, they are Jennings’ secrets to share and he does such a fabulous job at it. But I must share two of them that really hit home…and really talk to the dairy industry.

The world’s best-performing companies know how to “LET GO.”
There are many parts to letting go, but the one that stood out is “if all you employ is conventional wisdom, all you will achieve is conventional results.” Jennings said that when you let go, you are better able to deal with change. Letting go allows for innovation to take place and for you to stay focused.

This wisdom MUST be applied to the fluid milk category. Conventional wisdom is that consumers will drink more milk if we simply tell them how good it is. Processors need to do their part by offering unique flavors, packages and nutritional improvements. Do not take the “change is great but you go first” approach. Do something today.

If you want to hear more, consider attending IDFA’s Milk and Cultured Dairy Conference on May 20 to 21 in Indianapolis. I will be presenting on the second day at 1:30 and will be discussing innovations in…you guessed it…milk and cultured products.,1

For more information on the meeting, click HERE.

The world’s best-performing companies are “GOOD STEWARDS.”

Like with letting it go, there are many aspects to being a good steward. The one that stood out is “sharing information.”

This reminds me of my friend Gary Hirshberg, chairman and former president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm. When I first started writing for the dairy industry, I was impressed how Gary was one of the few dairy marketers who would talk to any and every editor, regardless if they wrote for the consumer or trade press. He had nothing to hide. He only wanted to share his passion and enthusiasm for spreading the word about the healthfulness of yogurt. I remember when he was on a consumer media tour in Chicago when the Windy City got its first Whole Foods Market in the mid-90s. We had previously chatted on the phone a few times and he wanted to make sure we met in person to further spread the word about the power of yogurt. I remember Gary saying that everyone in the dairy business wins when consumers buy more dairy, regardless of the brand. That is stewardship.

Stewardship is alive and thriving at the All Star Dairy Convention. Wednesday night at the opening reception I shared this stewardship concept with another good friend, Randy Rich, president of Rich Ice Cream Company. He agreed, citing an example of how he often solicits suggestions and recommendations from the owners of competitive brands. The brands might be competing in the marketplace, but the owners of these brands share the common interest of growing the dairy category. We all need to take this approach to business.

Other qualities of a good steward, according to Jennings, include being accessible to your employees, getting your hands dirty, standing for something, being a coach and a mentor and eliminating superficial distinctions.

“It is important to remember that knowledge is no longer power, execution is,” he said. So true!

The first list was announced at the IRI Summit. It’s IRI’s 2013 New Product Pacesetters. By now you probably have read that dairy brands fared well in this annual report.

Three of the top-10 food and beverage brands in 2013 were:
#1. Dannon Light & Fit Greek
#2. Yoplait Greek 100
#6. Müller Yogurt
You can read the complete announcement and explanation of determination of winners HERE.

The other list is quite different. It came from private-label discount retailer ALDI. In the first-ever ALDI Fan Favorites poll, shoppers selected 10 food and beverage items as their must-have, best-loved ALDI exclusive brand products. Two of them were dairy foods.

In the online poll of 4,021 respondents, Friendly Farms Greek Yogurt ranked #1 in the Best Breakfast category. This nonfat yogurt comes in 6-ounce cups and retails for 85 cents. The #1 Cheese item is Priano Fresh Mozzarella. Made with fresh milk that provides a delicate flavor with a creamy, soft texture, an 8-ounce ball retails for $2.69.

Speaking of ALDI, this retailer has big plans for the near future. Before I arrived in Orlando, I was in Mickey Mouse’s original home base--Anaheim—for the Natural Products Expo West show. At the expo,  Natural Marketing Institute and The Nielsen Company presented “Game Changers, Future Trends in Health and Sustainability.” Speakers confirmed what most food and beverage marketers have long suspected—the retail landscape is changing as consumers demand more in terms of convenience and value from the fresh and packaged foods they purchase through supermarkets and related channels.

I wrote an overview of this presentation for Food Business News, including a slide show of tables and charts. You can view it HERE.

Back to innovation, many of the new trends in dessert flavors, textures and ingredients have their roots in the kitchens of top restaurants across the country. Chefs who experiment for a living are contributing to the rapid expansion of ice cream and frozen dessert flavors and product lines.

At this year’s IDFA Ice Cream Technology Conference, you can learn what inspires Chef Christina Tosi to create the original desserts and snacks that has earned the Momofuku Milk Bar the reputation as “one of the most exciting bakeries in the country,” according to Bon Appetit.
I will also be kicking off the conference with my presentation: Ice Cream Trends for 2014 and Beyond. Please join me while I explore global research on consumer behaviors and eating habits. This session will help you identify the mega and micro trends that will influence ice cream innovations.

Ice Cream Tech will be held April 8 to 9 in St. Petersburg, FL. For more information, visit HERE.

To wrap things up, let’s do some name calling. To read more about why U.S. cheesemakers should be able to call feta cheese feta and parmesan cheese parmesan, visit HERE.

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