Tips to increase the rink for packaged nuts
With great flavors and benefits that appeal to health-conscious consumers and that tie in to America’s favorite past-times of baseball and beer, packaged nuts offer produce departments many opportunities to fill shopping carts and increase sales. Whether packaged shelled or in shell, or as an additional ingredient in a healthy snack (such as energy bars), nuts sell themselves when given the right platform and a little POS boost. The following tips from individuals on the supply side of the packaged-nut business can help produce departments increase the ring of packaged nuts.
Make The Health Halo Visible
Every product wants to wear the health halo. Nuts naturally meet these standards, but many consumers may fail to see it. Nuts are a wondrously healthy food and, as a 2013 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows, adults who add nuts to their diet do not put on weight despite the additional fat content.
Beth Sequeira, who handles sales and marketing for Keenan Farms based in Avenal, CA, says pistachios are a great way for consumers to stick to a healthy diet without sacrificing flavor. “Many health-minded consumers are searching for nutritionally abundant snacks that taste great and keep them on a healthy path,” says Sequeira. “We encourage and work with our retail partners to entice first-time purchases with special pricing or through eye-catching displays. Our goal is to make pistachios a ‘must have’ grocery list item.”
Healthy food choices grew beyond a trend and into a movement that impacted every aisle of grocery stores throughout the U.S. While consumers are aware of nuts as a natural product, the health benefits should not be taken for granted. This factor required many companies to rethink their product lines. For Howard Brandeisky, senior vice president of global marketing and customer solutions for John B. Sanfilippo & Son, based in Elgin, IL, this new approach yielded positive results.
“Our Orchard Valley Harvest brand has enjoyed exceptional success, with double-digit sales growth in our last fiscal year,” says Brandeisky. He attributes the success of Orchard Valley Harvest to the company’s repositioning of the brand to meet the needs of consumers looking for more wholesome products. “The first key trend we tapped into is consumers’ desire for less processed products and cleaner ingredient lines,” he says. “We reformulated our Orchard Valley Harvest products to have ‘no artificial ingredients’ and also to be ‘non-GMO verified.’ We also updated our packaging and in-store communication to better communicate these brand benefits to consumers.”
Eric Boonshaft, brand marketing director for Hampton Farms, headquartered in Severn, NC, recognizes this shift toward healthier offerings. “We also encourage customers to communicate the health benefits of snack nuts. For example, peanuts have 7 grams of protein per serving (more than any other nut), contain more than 30 vitamins and nutrients, and peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free. Today, consumers are looking for foods and beverages that foster health and wellness. Snack nuts are a great part of a well-balanced diet.”
For many consumers, the health benefits gained from packaged nuts are generally accepted, but there’s always room for more education. Cindy Wise, executive vice president of the Texas Pecan Growers Association headquartered in Bryan, TX, would like to see pecans gain more traction as a healthy food choice. Wise does not think consumers are as aware of these benefits as they could be.
“If they were,” says Wise, “I believe we would see a greater demand for pecans.” Work is being done to help correct this thinking however, as she explains: “The industry is in the process of implementing a federal marketing order, which will hopefully generate funding on a national basis so we can do a better job of promotion. We know pecans rank high in nutritional qualities and look forward to communicating this to consumers.”
Matthew Buckley, executive vice president, sales and marketing at Mamma Chia, sees room for improvement in education as well. Mamma Chia’s line of Vitality Bars and Granola clusters contain almonds, pecans and peanuts, in addition to the brand’s signature organic chia seeds, and have been given space in produce departments. “Many consumers understand that nuts are generally healthy for them,” Buckley explains, “but I am not sure they fully understand the specific health benefits derived from each of the different types of nuts. I think there is still a need to help educate consumers on the specific benefits of the various nuts carried in produce.”
Use Recipes For Success
Nuts have enjoyed a long history as a cooking and baking ingredient, and the John B. Sanfilippo & Son company has seen impressive results from its Fisher brand recipe nuts. “Based on our tracking of the category,” Brandeisky says, “Fisher recipe nuts has taken over as the branded share leader of the recipe nut category.” This is due to the increase in the use of nuts by consumers as ingredients in salads and as toppings on cereal and yogurt. Nuts are no longer simply relegated to the role of enhancing baked goods, they’re becoming much more ubiquitous in kitchens across the country. “That’s why we refer to that part of the category, formerly referred to as ‘baking nuts, as ‘recipe nuts’ instead,” says Brandeisky. “We’ve built the Fisher brand with our sponsorship of the Food Network and celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli, which enables us to provide our consumers with engaging recipe content and other tips from the Fisher brand.”
Sequeira at Keenan Farms sees the possibilities for the growth of pistachios as a recipe nut as well. “Both in-shell and shelled pistachios are perfect for snacking,” she says, but “shelled pistachio kernels also offer a unique, flavorful and colorful ingredient for salads, savory main dish recipes and sweet desserts.”
Appeal To Impulse
Consumers who buy on impulse are coveted by retailers, and this provides a great opportunity for sales. According to Brandeisky, “A large part of nut purchases are an impulse buy, especially in the produce section of the store. Displays that prominently feature the nuts will help drive incremental impulse sales.” Brandeisky offers a simple way to display packaged nuts. “A common but effective approach for displaying nuts in the produce section is to use wooden produce crates as platforms,” says Brandeisky. “The crates are in keeping with the feel of the produce section while reinforcing that nuts are a naturally grown product like the fruits and vegetables available in the produce section.”
Boonshaft of Hampton Farms also recognizes the impulsive appeal of packaged nuts. “Snack nuts are a great impulse purchase,” he says. To appeal to that impulse, he recommends a combination of displays, signage and special pricing. “We see almost a 200-percent volume lift when our in-shell peanuts are on feature and display.”
Sequeira recommends displays that call out to consumers as well. “Attractive displays do a great job of catching consumer attention, so they can be placed in logical locations throughout the produce section, near beer displays and at check out,” she says.
Think Outside The Shell
Eating a handful of nuts as a snack and incorporating nuts into recipes in pies and pastries or as toppings for salads, yogurt and ice cream is a good way to get the protein nuts provide, but there are other tasty and healthy alternative delivery systems available. Mamma Chia has partnered with retailers to merchandise its products in the produce department, which drives sales through multiple purchase offers and displays.
According to Buckley, placement of Mamma Chia Vitality Bars in produce departments has been one way to increase sales. “The Mamma Chia Vitality Bars utilize either store merchandising racks or dedicated Mamma Chia Destination Centers typically being waterfall in front of produce displays such as apples or bananas,” says Buckley.
Tie It In
Tie ins are another effective path that leads produce departments toward increased sales. No offense to Cracker Jack, but when most people sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” they’re thinking peanuts in the shell, and beer of course. The salty taste of nuts go great with America’s favorite adult beverage.
“We’re excited to launch a national tie-in promotion with Budweiser to kick off the 2016 Major League Baseball season,” says Boonshaft of Hampton Farms. He recommends a case stack of Hampton Farms in-shell peanuts placed in the beer aisle to bring the ballpark experience into the living room. Boonshaft says, while Hampton Farms products are typically found in the produce section, “Cross-merchandising packaged nuts with carbonated soft drinks or beer can also increase dollar ring.” Keenan Farms has seen success in sales through the use of branded displays featuring rotating themes. Sequeira says, “each themed display serves its purpose throughout the year. Sports themes tie in well with various seasons and our heart-healthy displays focus on an important health message that reignites with consumers all year long.” Consumers’ growing interest in where their food comes from also provides opportunities for tailored displays.
According to Sequeira, “We also unveiled a new farm fresh shelf display this year showcasing the farm to fork theme. Keenan Farms is family owned and California grown, something we’re proud of and happy to share with our customers.” Following these tips will help produce managers drive the sales of packaged nuts as they fill consumer shopping carts with tasty, healthy snacks and cooking ingredients.