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Frozen Sweet Goods

Frozen sweet goods (not including cheesecakes) were down 9.8% in dollars and 12.4% in units last year, according to supermarket data from SymphonyIRI Group, the Chicago-based market research firm.

Among the top 10 items in dollar sales, eight posted declines. There were two exceptions, however. Both scored double-digit gains and both were from Delizza Patisserie (www. delizza.us), Sarasota, Fla.

NO COINCIDENCE?
Perhaps it’s no coincidence, but the items (see chart) were the only ones in the top 10 to have average retails about $5, when the average for the category was $4.05. So what gives?

Fred Liggero, vp of sales at the company, says Delizza’s high-end products are differentiated in that they are made with a European-style recipe with real dairy cream, Belgianstyle chocolate and Bavarian fillings.

They’re thaw-and-serve, so no baking oven is needed. The quality and convenience make them ideal as entertainment items, he says. The company’s products have been in distribution for over 10 years, so consumers are familiar with their quality, pricing and promotion, Liggero adds. Recently, the company came out with a new packaging design, marketing programs and items to help grow sales further.

The relatively high dollar ring and margin have earned the brand extra facings, which have also helped the gains over the past year. SymphonyIRI Group supermarket data for the 12 weeks ended Feb. 20, 2011, show Delizza in fourth place for sales within its category — up 28.6% during the period while the category as a whole fell 9.6%.

To max out sales and profits for the category, Liggero urges retailers to give it more space during holiday periods. “We are supporting our products now with couponing during this timeframe, which draws the consumer to your sections. So why not put us on display during key time periods, mixed in with your pies and cheesecake displays? We have had some retailers do this with almost five times the normal movement when featured on displays.”

Because Delizza’s dessert items are for entertainment events, the company offers promotional programs during the key holiday seasons: Easter, Mother’s Day, June graduations, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. “Of course the last quarter is show-time for our items so we tend to go with some marketing events such as web coupons, FSIs in select markets, and retailer events to tie into their holiday programs,” Liggero says.

He adds that “We support private label but it should not be the only item on the shelf. Offer the consumer a choice and let them shop the dessert category. Most private label is priced within a dollar of our brand.”

A recent study by Mintel International, Chicago, says 68% of frozen dessert purchasers buy the products to have something on hand if they need it. Half the shoppers it surveyed said frozen desserts are a good choice for a reward or treat, and almost half say frozen desserts taste as good as freshly made alternatives. The message here: demo, then demo some more to build trial and win new users.

Other reasons shoppers buy frozen desserts: 47% say the products don’t spoil as quickly as refrigerated or RTE desserts; 47% also say frozen desserts are a good value. And 42% believe frozen desserts are a good choice for a special occasion, according to Mintel research.

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