Progressive Grocer

JUN 2016

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Italian cuisine most frequently. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said they eat Italian food at least once a month, the NRA reports. The Appeal of Authentic Stocking grocery shelves with Italian items is nothing new. Stocking authentic pastas, sauces and more, however, has become more important for retailers seeking to capture a larger share of the Italian products category. While it is easy to fnd products that look Italian, many of them are not authentic items from Italy; instead they are products masquerading as Italian at premium prices. But because consumers know more about Italian food from traveling and from watching food tv shows, they are more aware of what authenticity means. Most important for retailers, they want authenticity from the foods they buy. As Louise Kramer, communications director of the SFA, says in a post at "Italian cuisine represents tradition and authenticity and there is growing demand in America for genuine food." Te NRA's "Global Palates" study confrms those fndings. "American consumers place value on authentic experiences," the report says. In even better news for food retailers, it appears price does not stop those consumers from putting authentic products in their baskets. "More than ever before, U.S. grocery shoppers associate value with attributes that go well beyond price, taste and convenience," stresses Doug Baker, vice president of private brands and technology for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). "We know from our research that they want to connect with products and understand how that product came to the retail shelf." Consumers' response to Wakefern's Tutto Italiano promotion underscores those fndings. "Te results and the response were fantastic. Te program raised awareness about our authentic imported Italian brands and let people know that we carry these great items in store," Magistrelli says. "Customers don't always realize we have these authentic Italian items in store, but when we put them on display and really marketed the line with consumer-friendly recipes and coupons, we saw a big lift in sales and an increase in the number of people buying Italian products." So successful was the program that the National Grocers Association (NGA) also noticed. "Te Tutto Italiano campaign captured the NGA Creative Choice Award for Best Private Label Marketing Event in 2015," Magistrelli says. "We are very proud of that!" Golub also expressed excitement about boosting the profle of its authentic Italian items. "We recognize that customers are looking for authentic products with which to make traditional 'old-world' and new classic Italian dishes for their families," Jerry Golub, CEO of the Golub Corporation, says. "We're confdent that this partnership will help us to provide the best assortment of genuine Italian products available." How ITA Can Help Grocery retailers interested in boosting their image as destinations for authentic Italian products do not have to do it alone. Te ITA's program can help in myriad ways. Buyer's delegation trips to Italy's prominent food areas, dedicated trade missions to Italy's most important food-related trade exhibitions such as CIBUS in Parma and Tutto Food in Milan, culinary training for chefs in Italy and in the U.S., educational materials, and access to co-promotional funding are components of the ITA's program to increase the availability of "Authentic Italian" products on the shelves of U.S. retail chains. Tat kind of collaborative efort is key to succeeding with trade promotions, the FMI's Baker says. "FMI forged a partnership with the Italian Trade Agency in 2015 to help demonstrate the buying power of international foods," says Baker, who calls that partnership "a testament to the importance of collaboration across the aisles. "U.S. shoppers are enjoying more diverse cuisines and culinary experiences, and grocery stores have responded by ensuring international foods are an integral component of every category in the aisle," he continues. "Our partnership with the Italian Trade Agency has helped facilitate a more seamless path to accessing authentic Italian products and ensure Italian manufacturers understand the U.S. marketplace and requirements of doing business within the U.S. that don't exist anywhere else in the world."

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