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Innovation for Dry Grocery: A Private Label Opportunity

CHICAGO – With three independent areas of its North American business, Baxters Food Group is using this year’s PLMA show to demonstrate its full breadth of Store Brands capabilities – delivering on innovation and inciting interest in what’s to come for Dry Grocery Store Brands programs.

Unlike its tailored innovation for its co-manufacturing partnerships through its Wornick co-manufacturing business, the Baxters Store Brands team is narrowing its focus on what it sees as the big bets for the industry. “In order to be successful in this industry, you really have to have a focused base business on which to innovate, so I am really pleased with the work we’re doing in that space,” said Mark A. Fields, Vice President of Store Brands. “We were the first to invest in private brands ‘on-the-go’ RTS Soups and have a long-standing capability in pouched 90-Second Rice and Infant Feeding. We’re doubling down on the ‘why’ and ‘where’ when it comes to how we position and partner to bring these categories to life with innovative Private Brand solutions.”

This is especially true when it comes to the supporting data steering that vision and focus. “We’ve invested our resources and capabilities in the right areas, and we’re eager to partner with Retailers to do the same,” said Sharvari Dayal, Product Marketing Manager. “When you look at the data for many legacy, shelf stable categories, they have had a tendency to remain flat or even declining. However, there are really bright spots – and that’s where we’re focusing.” Dayal elaborates, “The most compelling reasons we hear that Retailers are partnering with us is that our capabilities lend them a first mover advantage for their Private Label brands where National Brands and Niche Brands are seeing growth, too – even in struggling categories. But, the twist is the absolute price value delivered by Private Brands. That’s the really compelling part.”

Fields builds, “Exactly. When you look at the growth opportunity for Private Brands in historically stagnant categories – like RTS Soup – our solutions really are reflecting changing consumer and Shopper attitudes. To be part of the wave of innovation with value priced solutions is key to success across the private label industry.”

But it’s not just about innovating a value price for the Baxters Store Brands team – it’s also about remaining on the cuttiing edge of trends, even when gradual. “When you look at the data, it cannot be ignored that Organic will remain a key focus of Consumers, Shoppers and Retailers in the coming years. So, naturally, we’re focusing there now and will continue to focus there,” said Ms. Dayal.

This year’s PLMA won’t just showcase Baxters’ core areas of capability, but also announces the introduction of its full range of Conventional and Organic products. “Commanding a leading role in the innovation of RTS Soups in a microwave convenience format is something we take great pride in. But we know it’s not enough to just fast follow the brand. Private Label has become so much more, so we have to be ahead of that curve to capture the opportunity with our Retailer partners.”

“This year, we’re announcing the launch of our new line of Organic, RTS Soups in microwaveable bowls. Unlike our conventional line, this product line focuses on vegan and gluten free formulations in some of the top-ranking Organic RTS Soup flavors on the market. The twist is the value story and the ability to enjoy that goodness on the go,” elaborates Dayal.
“As a long-standing manufacturer of premium products, we wanted to really listen to the voice of consumers and Retailer strategies to inform where we went next. And, it’s a complete nod to our heritage. We started with a ‘farm to table’ approach and we continue to deliver that experience to Shoppers across the Private Label landscape today. It’s not enough anymore to focus on just great taste and best price – consumers are relying on Retailers to deliver more. We have to go the extra mile and we’re excited to do that with our expanded capabilities across Soup, Rice and retort fitment pouched Baby Food to align with emerging consumer needs. It’s not just who we are, it’s the foundation of where we’re going”, Fields summarizes.

With a 150-year long story, Baxters continues to focus on its future – relying on a legacy of ingredient integrity enabled by culinary and technical capability. And, with a rich heritage and strategic outlook, that future looks pretty ideal and a little more real.