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The rising relevance of mobile retail

Retailers are optimistic about location-based services – 57% consider them a great opportunity for physical stores, with more benefits than costs.

What are the top trends in retail? To find out and gain important insights into formats, internet sales, and location-based services, GfK, Germany’s largest market research institute, surveyed more than 500 people from 60 countries, including members of the retail sector and relevant experts.

In 2013, the top 3 trends in the retail sector were internet, price competition and the concentration of distribution. But by last year they had changed to convenience, internet and mobile communication. And more importantly, in the future, the key trends are expected to be mobile communication, ahead of convenience and internet, then seamless multi-channel retailing and transparency.

Thus, factors such as price competition, which is significant now, are expected to lose importance in future, while others, such as seamless multi-channel retailing, gain relevance, and mobile communication – which Gfk says is “very promising” – moves to the top. “Retail formats incorporating mobile retail solutions are expected to be most successful in future,” GfK said in its Retail Trend Monitor 2015 report. It also said that the pure internet players of today are expected to be lower on the scale of success in future.

Location-based services an opportunity

GfK surveyed the retailers and experts on their opinion of using location-based services to attract customers and/or study customer behavior in stationary (bricks-and-mortar) stores through mobile apps. An example is using beacon technology so that as a participating consumer moves through the city, nearby retailers can send them targetted offers such as coupons, discounts, and alerts to their mobile device (localised via GPS) to attract them into the store. They can also use the mobile devices to track the movement and buying behaviour of consumers participating in the service.

GfK’s main findings on use of location-based services are that:

  • Retailers are optimistic about location-based services – 57% consider them a great opportunity for physical stores, with more benefits than costs;
  • Increasing the awareness of these services still holds potential – 24% are still not familiar with them.

Source: GfK Retail Trend Monitor 2015: Nino Kereselidze, junior marketing consultant, and Markus Tuschl,global director of Digital Retail.

Image: geralt via Pixabay

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Patent sought for award-winning watermelon pouch

According to the andnowuknow website, the ‘ready-ripe watermelon pouch’ won the 2015 Innovation Award for Best New Packaging at United Fresh Produce Association trade show and has since been endorsed by America’s National Watermelon Association (NWA) for its ¼ sliced watermelon program.

A resealable, anti-fog watermelon pouch which comes with a handle for easy carrying is the subject of a United States patent application by Wisconsin-based grocery wholesaler The Fresh Group, Ltd.

The application says the zip-lock bag has a gusseted floor to accommodate a large watermelon slice. A transparent window allows consumers to see the watermelon inside the pouch, which also features an upwardly concave interior volume – to orient and stabilise a watermelon for best presentation and least damage – and sturdy sidewalls to support the pouch on a flat surface.

The packaging was developed to keep larger sliced produce, such as watermelon, viable, at a high quality level and freshness for consumption, and easy for the consumer to carry home, the document says.

In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) earlier this year, Maglio product manager Joseph Delgadillo said an 11-day shelf life had been consistently achieved with watermelon in such a pouch. He said that in a trial in the US, the bags proved popular with consumers, who liked the added convenience, and retailers, who particularly appreciated the extended shelf-life. Delgadillo said the bag was attracting interest from other countries and markets and was a concept that would apply to other kinds of fresh produce, the ABC said.

The patent application has also been published by the World International Property Organization.

According to the andnowuknow website, the ‘ready-ripe watermelon pouch’ won the 2015 Innovation Award for Best New Packaging at United Fresh Produce Association trade show and has since been endorsed by America’s National Watermelon Association (NWA) for its ¼ sliced watermelon program.


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Some of the drawings included in the patent application.

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Waitrose banks on omnichannel strategy

Last year Waitrose opened another 20 ‘little Waitrose’ convenience shops and 13 new core shops. It now has 339 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience shops.

Upmarket grocer expanding in online and convenience as it braces for more pain in the world’s toughest food market.

In February, Waitrose regained its crown as the best UK supermarket after a year in which its like-for-like sales increased 1.4%, it had an average 400,000 more customer transactions a week, and its slice of the UK grocery market largely stayed above 5%, rising from 4.8% two years before.

Even so, a deflationary market and fierce competition from the fast-growing discounters Aldi and Lidl – forcing it to cut prices and invest in improved service – saw its operating profit tumble 23.4% to £237.4 million. And Waitrose expects returns for the grocery sector “to be materially lower for a period of time.”

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The UK grocery market is rapidly fragmenting and the ‘big four’ – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – are being squeezed at one end of the price and quality scale by Aldi and Lidl, and at the other end by upscale rivals Marks & Spencer and, particularly, Waitrose.

According to Kantar Worldpanel data on Great Britain’s grocery market, Waitrose’s share has risen from 4.6% in the 12 weeks to October 14, 2012, to 5.1% as at this June 21, while Lidl went from 2.8% to 3.9% and Aldi, overtaking Waitrose, from 3% to 5.5%.

Novel ‘Pick Your Own Offers’ scheme

Fighting back amid the unrelenting price war in the UK, in June Waitrose introduced a new scheme offering loyalty cardholders 20% off their favourite 10 items from an initial list of almost 1,000 lines.

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Waitrose CEO Mark Price described the ‘Pick Your Own Offers’ scheme as ground-breaking but admitted it would be expensive for the grocer. Cherry vine tomatoes have been among the most chosen products so far.

Building online and convenience offer

Being “Britain’s leading omnichannel retailer” is now one of Waitrose’s key strategies, according to the John Lewis PLC financial statements for the year to January 31. The priorities listed under the goal include building Waitrose’s online presence, broadening its convenience offer, and developing compelling reasons to visit shops.

In order to grow its online grocery business, in March Waitrose opened a 90,000 sq ft bespoke e-fullfilment centre in Coulsdon, South London.

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Waitrose e-fullfilment centre in Coulsdon, South London

In regard to its convenience offer, last year Waitrose opened another 20 ‘little Waitrose’ convenience shops and 13 new core shops. It now has 339 shops in England, Scotland, Wales and the Channel Islands, including 61 convenience shops.

Central London was the focus for the new ‘little Waitrose’ openings last year but this year Waitrose has said it will go further afield in Greater London for its planned 7 new ‘little Waitrose’ shops.

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The ‘little Waitrose’ shops range from 3,000-7,000 sq ft, in comparison to an average sales area of 20,000 sq ft for traditional Waitrose branches. In August last year, in a bid to attract ‘transumers’ – the fast-growing market of travelling consumers – Waitrose opened the first of its railway station outlets, a 2,500 sq ft ‘little Waitrose’ store at King’s Cross in central London.  

And among measures to encourage visits to stores and respond to changing shopping habits, Waitrose has introduced new services, hospitality – such as opening more in-store cafes – and grazing areas where shoppers can try food and drink. “Branches like Salisbury are tapping into growth in casual dining with a wine and tapas bar.”

Responding to food trends

In its Food & Drink Report 2014, Waitrose reported on its response to food trends including “a huge surge” in flexitarianism – where someone follows a plant-based diet but occasionally eats meat products.

“Shoppers are choosing a ‘hero’ vegetable – such as a stuffed mushroom or a spiced aubergine – and adding a sprinkling of bacon chunks or chorizo pieces. To meet this growing demand we have launched new vegetable meals, such as our mushroom and spinach filo parcel and a new baby kale and butternut squash microsteam pack to save time for our flexitarian shoppers.”

Waitrose also said consumers’ taste buds are demanding new, exotic flavours and increasingly there’s a mix-and-match approach, using ingredients associated with one country in dishes from another. “Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, is now often used in French dressings, and Kimchi, fermented cabbage from Korea, is employed as a burger dressing.”

The same report said that compared to 2013:

  • Exotic fruit online sales were up 81%
  • Stuffed mushrooms sales were up 22%
  • Stuffed pepper sales were up 17%

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Inside Waitrose, Canary Wharf

Summer brings higher salad, fruit sales

According to recent weekly trade updates by Waitrose, it is seeing strong increases in its sales of salad bowls and British asparagus, which for the week to June 6 were up 43% and 41% respectively on the same week last year, while frozen fruit surged 26% and soft fruit saw an 11% uplift. And for the week to July 3, it said the start of Wimbledon saw strawberry sales up 15%. Amid the good weather, its ‘food to go’ range was up 10%, with salads proving particularly popular, at 21% higher than last year​. Waitrose has also reported that with the bumper UK cherry harvest this year it has 20% more of this fruit on sale.

sources: various, including Waitrose, Kantar Worldpanel


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Expansion in Ireland’s prepared fruit and vegetable market



Growth in the fruit and vegetable convenience category is highlighted in a recent article from Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board.

Horticulture Division Manager Mike Neary writes that Kantar Worldpanel market research values Ireland’s prepared fruit and vegetable sales at €84 million at the retail point.

The growth in the prepared fruit and vegetable category in the retail market in recent years is evidence of the important role that convenience plays in the purchase decisions of households, he said.

According to Kantar, since 2008 the volume of sales in this category has grown 8%. “One of the drivers of this trend is the number of households that are now purchasing from this category, which has reached over 92% of all households. This is a 1.5% increase since 2012. The purchase frequency is 24 times per annum,” Neary said.

Fruit salad products performing the strongest

Private label products dominate the prepared fruit and vegetable category, with a 77% market share. Key lines in this category include vegetables, fruit, leafy salads, mixed tray salads and chilled salads, with the latter accounting for two fifths of the volume sales. However, in the last year it was fruit salad products that performed the strongest.

Neary said the Kantar research also showed people in the ‘pre- family’ stage are more likely to buy mixed tray salads, while retired shoppers are more likely to buy prepared fruit.

Prepared fruit & veg market benefits from convenience trend

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Primaflor tapping growing demand for prepared salads

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Spanish company Primaflor reports high retail demand for new products in its continually-expanding range of packaged fresh salad. The brightly-coloured 100g Capriccio, Delicious and Luxure bags “have increased sales both for us and for our clients,” it said. Capriccio blends red and green baby salad leaves, Delicious combines six kinds of tender shoots, and Luxure is a mix of lettuce, rocket and red baby leaf. Another launch proving popular is the lower-priced, bi-color Duo range of 70g baby leaf packs, one of which combines lambs lettuce and rocket leaves. Primaflor, which plants about 5,000ha with a wide range of vegetables and lettuce varieties, specialises in leaf products and strives to “adapt to consumers’ needs in terms of tastes, textures, formats and colors, always with a distinctive touch.”“Another important innovation is the launch of our ‘Delicias de Trocadero Rojo’, with tender Multileaf lettuce, meeting the growing demand for buttery, tasty leaves. We are constantly testing new mixes at our clients’ requests, particularly for the restaurant sector, and are already working on new prepared salad products for next season.”

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Linea Verde in Europe and Russia

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La Linea Verde has penetrated beyond the European Union markets to enter those of Eastern Europe. “In 2013 we achieved good results in our international activities, particularly in Russia, Belgian and Poland. Exports made up 27% of the total turnover of the group, which reached €186 million in 2013. For 2014 we are again looking with interest beyond our country’s borders and aim to raise our turnover by 5%”, stated Massimo Bragotto, the commercial and logistics manager of La Linea Verde. This is a realistic objective, as La Linea Verde’s professionals have a profound knowledge of the sector and the Battagliola brothers have over 40 years of experience ‘in the field’. As a result, they have been able to capitalise, upgrade and develop the family’s traditional passion for agriculture, which is now leading them to co-pack the DimmidiSì products, not only to satisfy the home market demand but also, thanks to the firm’s considerable reefer transport and logistics know-how, to achieve recognition beyond the borders of Italy. La Linea Verde exports high-quality products to many countries, including Austria, Belgium, Spain and Russia. The firm’s achievements, nationally and internationally, are underpinned by investments in processes and organisation that achieve a high standard of quality. La Linea Verde uses technologies that give it a significant competitive advantage in terms of the freshness and food safety of a very delicate product such as fresh-cut salads. Quality is the key that has consolidated La Linea Verde’s position at the peak of the home market, enabled the firm to conquer and gain the loyalty of new markets such as Belgium and Poland, and will allow it to garner major new international successes while at the same time expanding its market in Italy.

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DimmidiSì launches new container for Foodservice range


Vegetales Línea Verde has launched a new pack for the Foodservice range of its own international brand, DimmidiSì, comprising a wide assortment of products, all natural, delicious and very fresh, ideal for the Ho.Re.Ca. Channel. 
As of this year, all products in their Brotes Tiernos (Tender Shoots) Foodservice line will hit the market in a new and practical container designed with cutting-edge technology. This way, the Brotes Tiernos varieties are presented in practical, smart containers manufactured using the latest techniques. The trays come in an “open-and-close” format with fully transparent lid, allowing us to appreciate the product’s freshness more clearly. In addition to its smart design and new dimensions for customer convenience, the renewed container incorporates advanced anti fog technology and ultrasound lock, protected by a warranty seal. This new packaging was developed in cooperation by Vegetales Línea Verde and the supplier. In addition, the company has the exclusive use of this pack for 18 months. In the Foodservice range we also find the Classic Salads line, which keeps the traditional format transparent bag.