Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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72 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | January 2017 Soup Grocery Our soups are great on their own, or as a base for additional creativity." —Roger Galloway, Progresso thing from simple tips to expert advice to help home cooks of all experience levels. Fellow major soup brand Progresso, part of Minneapolis- based General Mills, has also been busy addressing the trend "towards wellness and greater transparency in areas that include ingredients and production quality," as Progresso Senior Market- ing Manager Roger Galloway puts it. Accordingly, the brand's recent moves include Progresso Good Natured Soup, a line of three vegan items containing three-quarters of a cup of vegetables per serving, and a switch last September to antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken in all of its chicken soups, making it the first mainstream soup manufacturer to make such a claim. "We believe that soup provides a great option at mealtime, combining vegetables, grains, and protein in one easy-to-eat format," Galloway says, adding that "our soups are great on their own, or as a base for additional creativity. To increase the awareness about all the great options at mealtime that our soups can provide, we have introduced 'Up a Notch,' a section on the Progresso website dedicated to taking our favorite soups and creating new mealtime options in minutes by adding fresh and unexpected flavor combinations." Extending Opportunity "Consumers are looking for products that are a natural extension of their lifestyle," notes Kelly McCann, brand manager for Tualatin, Ore.-based Pacific Soups. "is means soups that fit in with their dietary needs, whether they're looking for gluten- free, plant-based, low-sodium or high-in-fiber foods. Having a prod- uct that can help consumers with portion control … is key." is past summer, Pacific ex- panded its creamy soup line with Roasted Garlic & Potato and vegan Organic Tomato Basil, and also added two new hearty soups, Organic Vegetable Masala Stew and dairy-free Hearty Coconut Curry. "Consumers continue to show interest in more complex, vibrant flavors, and many are also starting to include more plant-based meals in their diets," observes McCann. In the area of meal solutions, the company aims "to formulate soups that work on their own as a meal or pair well as part of a larger meal," she says. "Soups can also be especially useful as an ingredient in casse- roles or pasta dishes to help reduce meal preparation time while still providing healthy options for busy individuals or families." Mix and Match Noting that soup "has proven to be very popular among Millen- nials who view it as a healthful and affordable meal option," Trisha Anderson, founder of Gurnee, Ill.-based Frontier Soups, observes that the company has ex- perienced growth related to such attitudes among that coveted demographic, as well as the current interest in "assembled 'fast-scratch' or 'speed-scratch' meals" like those offered by online delivery services. "is is essentially what Frontier Soups has done for many years, providing the basis for a meal with all the dry ingredients and spicing in the mix, while the home cook adds broth and other grocery ingredients to create the soup," she says. Among Frontier's newest launches are Montana Creekside Classic Chili Mix and Southwestern Sausage & Chickpea Stew Mix, expanding the company's highly popular Southwestern portfolio. e company actively encourages consumers to customize its soup mixes to meet their own specific wellness needs. "Soup's health benefits and ability to be adapted to individual tastes are important, and we think emphasizing those features helps educate consumers about the important role soups can play as a practical meal solution," asserts Anderson. "Frontier Soups' con- sumers ... like that our mixes have no salt added, so they can control the amount of sodium. We also [encourage] them to modify our recipes to substitute ingredients their families prefer, or to add more nutrition." Frontier's website now offers nutritionist recom- mendations for each of its soups. For the new Classic Chili, consumers are advised "to cut saturated fat by substituting ground turkey, extra-lean ground beef or bison for the ground chuck, or to go vegetarian by using a mix of onion, red pepper, zucchini and mushrooms to replace the meat," she notes. Further, merchandising that brings together all of the makings for a meal has been beneficial for the brand. "When our mixes are merchandised with ingredients used to prepare or accompany our soups, we have experienced a sales lift, such as in an end cap or off-shelf display with broth and crackers," says Anderson. "We have this done recently at e Fresh Market stores." e company has also teamed with a broth company to hold demos at Albertsons stores. Whether as a supporting player or the main event, soup can amply solve consumers' meal dilemmas, but good nutrition must remain uppermost. As Redner's White asserts, "Manufacturers will need to continue to update their healthy message if they want future consumers to purchase their product." PG For more about soup, visit progressivegrocer.com/soup.

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