Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's Old is New Again

About a year ago, I wrote about the retro trend. From old school cereal packages to beverages returning to classic recipes, when it comes to foods in the supermarket, everything that was old is new again. We're seeing another resurgence of retro this year. Here are just a few of the announcements from food manufacturers in the past couple of weeks.

Be on the lookout for old-school cool from Hostess. The snack cake maker will be offering a variety of sweet treats encased in nostalgic packaging for a limited time, including Chocolate Cup Cakes, Ding Dongs, and Ho Hos. In addition, the company is temporarily bringing back the original banana-filled Twinkie recipe in boxes starring Twinkie the Kid.

Hostess isn't the only company turning back the clock. After last year's huge response to the throwback versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, PepsiCo announced the drinks would be a permanent addition to its portfolio.

Frito-Lay, another PepsiCo-owned brand, is also getting in on the act, offering classic taco-flavored Doritos in retro packaging.

After rumors that Cap'n Horatio Magellan Crunch (better known as Cap'n Crunch) was sailing into retirement, cereal maker Quaker Oats, yet another PepsiCo-owned brand, denied the report. Not only is the Captain here to stay, but he's also back with a new line of flashback 60's packaging, complete with collector cards on the back of every box. Find Peanut Butter, Crunch Berries, and Original Cap'n Crunch flavors at a grocery store near you.

Finally, expect to see Heinz Ketchup bottles of yesteryear lining store shelves this summer. The 14-ounce octagonal glass bottles are making a comeback after being replaced by squeezable plastic containers in the 1990s.

What vintage packaging have you recently found in stores?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Save the Date

Spring is upon us! It's time to get out your planner, find your frequent flyer mile numbers, and redeem your hotel's conference season! If you're looking to learn more about the numerous aspects of food and beverage consumer packaged goods or retail, mark your calendars for these educational conferences, expos, and events.

20-23: Snack Food Association SNAXPO, the world's premier event for the snack food industry
23-24: Institute of Food Technologists Wellness11 Conference
26-30: 2011 American Bakers Association Convention
27-31: Food Industry Environmental Council 41st Annual Food and Beverage Environmental Conference
28-29: Western Michigan University Food/CPG Marketing Program Food Marketing Conference 2011
28-30: SymphonyIRI Group Summit 2011
31-April 1: Food & Beverage Marketing & Advertising

3-6: Food Engineering's Food Automation & Manufacturing Conference and Expo
5-7: Food Packaging Technologies Summit
10-12: National Retail Federation Global Supply Chain Summit
10-13: Juice Products Association Annual Meeting
11-13: Iconosphere 2011 presented by Iconoculture, a leading global consumer research and advisory company
11-13: Quality Conference
19-21: Food Safety Summit Expo & Conference

1-4: Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association Annual Convention
24-26: SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO® sponsored by the National Confectioners Association

11-14: Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo
21-24: National Restaurant Association Restaurant Show
22-23: International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event 2011 at the NRA Show
24-26: World Tea Expo

10-12: National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Summer Fancy Food Show

11-14: Prepared Foods' 2011 New Products Conference
12-14: Annual Summit (the digital division of the National Retail Federation)
19-21: 2011 International Dairy Show hosted by the International Dairy Foods Association
20-22: Sustainable Packaging Forum
21-24: Natural Products Expo East
26-28: PACK EXPO - North America's proven show for packaging and processing innovations

6-7: Brand Packaging: Packaging that Sells Conference
16-19: National Beer Wholesalers Association Convention and Trade Show
18-20: Coffee Tea & Water Show, presented by the National Automatic Merchandising Association
22-25: National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association Convention

1-4: Food Processing Suppliers Association's Process Expo 2011

January 8-14: Penn State Ice Cream Short Course
January 15-18: Retail's Big Show, the National Retail Federation's 101st Annual Convention & EXPO
February 12-15: National Grocers Association's Annual Convention & Supermarket Synergy Showcase
February 18-22: The American Frozen Food Institute Frozen Food Convention

In addition, be on the lookout for programming and special events from St. Joseph's University Center for Food Marketing and the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota throughout the year.

Will you be attending any of these events, or have you been to these conferences in the past? Please leave a message; I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Even those who aren't Irish are on St. Patrick's Day! Everyone wants to take part in St. Patty's Day celebrations, and tomorrow is the one day of the year to celebrate in style. Consider these recipes from top food and beverage CPG companies to add to your fun!
Of course, you can always enjoy a big bowl of General Mills' Lucky Charms at any point during your day!

Enjoy your St. Patrick's Day, and tell me, what special foods will you eat to celebrate this Irish holiday?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Winner Take All

Last weekend, stars took center stage at the Oscars, but award season has only just begun! Recently, several media outlets announced honors for a number of retail companies and food and beverage consumer packaged goods manufacturers in a variety of prestigious categories.

Last week, Working Mother Magazine unveiled its first-ever list of Best Companies for Women's Advancement. According to the publication, the companies named "are dedicated to helping women secure the mentoring, networking, and training they need to make it to the highest levels." General Mills topped the list for its commitment to women, with more than 12 mentoring groups and women's networks from which employees can choose. Women also lead 71 percent of the company's major retail divisions.

Corporate Responsibility Magazine also revealed its 12th annual 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, acknowledging the world's top corporate responsibility programs. The list, based on publicly-available information and recognized by PR Week as one of America's top three most-important business rankings, incorporates a wide variety of inputs and viewpoints to compile its rankings.

Among food and beverage CPG companies, Campbell Soup leads the pack this year, coming in at number two. Landing at number 12, General Mills made CRM's list as well. Coca-Cola entered the standings at number 14, while snack maker PepsiCo came in at number 25. Sara Lee, the company behind such brands as Ball Park and Jimmy Dean secured the number 27 spot on the list.

Also making the top 100: Hormel Foods – #30; Heinz – #31; Coca-Cola Enterprises – #49; and ConAgra Foods, makers of Healthy Choice, Reddi-wip, and Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn – #70.

Among retailers on the list, Target entered the list at number 42, while Wal-Mart and The TJX Companies, Inc. earned spot numbers 95 and 96, respectively. Food services companies were also recognized for their corporate social responsibility efforts. Starbucks landed at number 39 on the list, and Red Lobster/Olive Garden operator Darden Restaurants came in at number 75.

Finally, Fortune Magazine published its list of the World's Most Admired Companies, with many familiar names gracing the register. To create the standings, Fortune administered a survey to businesspeople, asking them to vote for the companies they admired most from any industry. The top 50 have been identified, and include CPG, retail, and food service companies, including:
Congratulations to all the recognized companies, and be sure to check back in the coming months for additional award winners!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ice Age

March is here, and while spring and warm weather is on most people's minds, the frozen food industry is focused on the cold; March is National Frozen Food Month!

In 1984, Congress declared March 6 "Frozen Food Day" by Senate Joint Resolution 193, and authorized and requested President Reagan issue a proclamation upon the occasion. More recently, the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association made a commitment to frozen food companies and manufacturers to promote frozen foods during the month of March and increase year-round sales by:
  • Educating consumers on the attributes, benefits, and value in frozen foods
  • Encouraging family mealtime and healthy lifestyles by providing recipes and solutions for every meal occasion
  • Promoting convenience, quality, variety, and taste of frozen foods
  • Promoting new and innovative products within the industry
In 2010, Americans spent $56 billion on frozen food, up $13 billion since 2005. Today, 23 percent of home dinners are frozen entrées. With ever-growing profit, the industry has responded to consumer demand, developing better manufacturing processes, offering more ethnic choices, and creating healthier options.

While the freezer is certainly a hero this month, so is Clarence Birdseye, who is credited with inventing the flash-freeze method for foods in 1924 that we still use today. Birdseye's quick-freezing process led to the creation of 168 patents that included not only the freezing technique, but also packaging and related innovations. The process also led to the creation of Birds Eye, the Pinnacle Foods-owned maker of vegetables and frozen meals.

When you're eating a frozen waffle for breakfast, enjoying a frozen meal for lunch, or microwaving a frozen pizza for dinner this month, say thanks to frozen foods! Throughout March, learn more about the frozen food industry from the American Frozen Food Institute and read all about freezing and food safety.

Leave a comment and tell me: What are your favorite frozen foods?