Friday, April 16, 2021

Refrigerated Desserts—Dairy and Non-Dairy—are poised to do well in the post-COVID marketplace


Photo source: Pots & Co

The time is right for refrigerated desserts. Two major marketers—Kraft Heinz and General Mills--are vested in their success and will drive consumers to this supermarket space. I’ve written many times that refrigerated desserts are one of the most underdeveloped categories in the U.S. marketplace. Hopefully, that is changing. Throughout most of Europe, and in developed regions of South America and Asia, puddings, parfaits, cheesecakes, flan and more have been booming for years. The time is right for the U.S.

With consumers entering the revenge spending period of the pandemic, they want to play and they are willing to pay. There’s a lot of pent up energy to explore. There’s money to be spent and consumers want to indulge to make up for lost time. 

While more than 20 million jobs were lost during COVID-19, the stimulus payments, unemployment checks and the simple hoarding by those who have been working overtime, have made around 80% of Americans flush with cash. They want to premiumize their diet. They are trading up. They are experimenting. 

That’s why it is time for dairy foods marketers to pivot once again, to reinvent the refrigerated dessert space. This includes offering dairy and non-dairy based indulgent desserts, so that there is something for every consumer who discovers this small—but growing—retail space typically sandwiched between yogurt and cookie dough. 

General Mills gets it. This week, 301 INC, the venture capital arm of the Minneapolis-based company, led a multistage investment of up to $20 million in Pots & Co, in partnership with other investors. Pots & Co, the London-based food company best known for its extensive range of hand-crafted potted desserts in the U.K., will leverage the investment to propel its growth strategy. This includes expanding its product range and distribution in the U.S. 

While Pots & Co’s U.S. packaging is different than what’s in the U.K., the product concept is the same. All of the refrigerated desserts are handmade using only ingredients you can pronounce and contain no preservatives. They are carefully crafted by Michelin-trained restaurant chefs using only the finest ingredients, with each concept having unique depth and a creamy texture. 

The investment into Pots & Co is supported by increased retail distribution in the U.S. focused on the West Coast and Rocky Mountain region. Pots & Co will initially supply its range of unique potted desserts and has longer-term plans to also offer its new savory, Mezze-style dips range.

All products distributed in the U.S. are currently handmade in Pots & Co’s London-based factory. This investment will also enable the business to explore manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. as well as invest further into marketing and distributing the brand.

“We want to create one of the world’s leading food brands and we are thrilled that General Mills has invested in Pots & Co, enabling us to speed up the growth of our business and creating fabulous products for the American consumer,” says Julian Dyer, founder of Pots & Co. 

John Haugen, founder and managing director of 301 INC, says, “Our mission is to discover new and emerging food brands with a remarkable offering. Pots & Co fulfils that mission with its focus on natural ingredients to create desserts of restaurant quality. As our first overseas investment and first investment in a U.K. company, we believe Pots & Co will deliver substantial growth with an increasing range of desserts and with its move into savory products. We’re excited to partner as the brand expands its presence in the U.S. market.”

Don’t believe this is an opportunity for you yet? The numbers speak for themselves. Pots & Co has generated rapid growth since it was founded in London in 2012. It produced sales of nearly $2.8 million in 2014, which increased to $19.5 million in 2020, a 700% increase over six years. Pots & Co currently produces 16 million handmade desserts a year. In the U.K., it is also famous for its signature ceramic pots spun by a family business in Valencia, Spain.

Kraft Heinz gets it, too. Earlier in the year, the company introduced Colliders. The new line of dairy-based desserts comes in three different formats, each offering a unique texture and flavor combination. In total, there are 12 varieties, all of which sell in packs of two. Some are available as single containers.

Chopped: The four varieties include a flavored dairy dessert with candy pieces. Varieties are: Hershey’s Chocolate (chocolate dessert with dark chocolate pieces), Hershey’s Mint (mint dessert with dark chocolate pieces), Hershey’s S’mores (marshmallow dessert with milk chocolate pieces and graham cracker crumbles) and Reese’s (peanut butter dessert with milk chocolate pieces).

Layered: The four varieties are a layer of candy-flavored dairy dessert with a layer of rich milk chocolate topping. Varieties are: Mounds (coconut), Reese’s (peanut butter), Rolo (caramel) and York (peppermint).

Twisted: The four varieties are all based on a vanilla-flavored dairy dessert and include crumbles of candy. Varieties are: Heath, Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream, Kit Kat and Reese’s.
The company also rolled out Philadelphia Cheesecake Crumble. Each 6.6-ounce boxes contain two single-serve cheesecake dessert cups. Varieties are: Cherry, Chocolate Hazelnut, Original and Strawberry. With Philadelphia-brand cream cheese the number-one ingredient, these desserts come complete with a graham crumble in a dome top, which mimics a graham cracker crust. The separate container prevents it from getting soggy.

Reina Desserts, a refrigerated desserts company from Houston, Texas, has long been a player in this space and with much success, especially with the many authentic international products offered. To stay current with the evolving consumer, the company now offers two plant-based desserts: Chocolate Pudding and Rice Pudding. 

St. Benoit Creamery is known for its Pots de Crème (“poh-deh-krem”). These rich, spoonable clean-label puddings have only 200 calories (or less) in each jar and are made without fillers or excessive sugar. The desserts come in sustainable glass packaging for a healthy, convenient treat that’s delicious and fun for kids and adults. Flavors include elevated versions of nostalgic classics like Vanilla and TCHO Chocolate, which won a 2020 sofi Award (specialty outstanding food innovation) for best new product in the other dairy category. Snickerdoodle captures the taste of the classic buttery cinnamon cookie without the gluten and carbs while Salted Caramel combines richly flavorful caramel with a savory hint of sea salt.

To view more refrigerated dessert concepts introduced the past few years, link HERE.

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