Pushing deeper in the snack market

ORLANDO, FL – Produce marketers have been advised to offer their products in more places for more consumer eating opportunities, and it was clear on the expo floor of Southern Exposure, March 9, they’re putting that advice into practice.

There was a nice trend to exhibitors at the Southeast Produce Council’s annual event showing smaller-sized fruits and vegetables and smaller packs to tap into the growing “snacking” segment of the American diet.

In a March 8 education session, Anne-Marie Roerink of 210 Analytics, which creates the Power of Produce report for the Food Marketing Institute, showed how much opportunity fresh produce has in the snacking segment.

She said 58 percent of people polled in Power of Produce want to integrate produce more into their snacking routines.

Also, 38 percent said they want retail to carry more snack vegetables, and 35 percent said that of fruit snacks. Not surprisingly, millennials were the generation leading this request with 42 percent urging more veggies and 47 percent urging more fruit snack options.

Gen Z (ages about 5-20) wasn’t in the survey, but anyone who’s spent any time with them knows they take snacking to another level and often don’t eat any traditional meals.

At the expo, it was hard to miss all the citrus competitors to Halos and Cuties brand easy-peel citrus, which are usually clementines or tangerines, depending on the season.

Those two brands have paved the way in snacking citrus.

“Snack items fit today’s lifestyle, and we’ve had a good mix,” said Howard Nager, vice president of business development for Sun Pacific Marketing Cooperative, Pasadena, CA, which markets the Cuties brand.

Organic Cuties debuted at Southern Exposure.

Here are a few other products in the snacking category that stood out:

-Handy Candy showed two new snacking items, a 4-ounce ready-to-eat blueberry cup; and a 2-ounce grape tomato cup.
Mike Prather, director of sales and marketing for Flavor-Pic Tomato Co., marketer of the Handy Candy brand, said the blueberries have 18-21 day shelf-life and will be available year-round through a partnership with Naturipe. The grape tomato cup is an extension on the existing line, but Prather said the smaller size appeals more to children.

-Bland Farms, Vidalia, GA, had a soft launch of its Lil O’s small onions last year, but the item is available in large scale this year, said sales manager Sloan Lott. (mediums were on display at the expo because small onions weren’t available in early March) While onions aren’t generally known for snacking, the smaller size allows for one-time uses, he said.

-Pure Hothouse Foods, Leamington, ON, had a prototype of a new Mini Munchie Tomato Snack Pack that chief marketing officer Chris Veillon said will be on display and ready for the market by CPMA next month. It’s a 12-ounce packs with two 3-ounce packs of Juno Bites red grapes tomatoes; one Oriana Orange grape tomato; and one Bumbles Yellow grape tomato. Veillon said it’s designed to resemble yogurt cups.

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services