Check It Out! | Jan-Feb 2021

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Just Sayin’

Here’s one retailer’s candid thoughts on what vendors should know about new item presentations.

First of all, don’t come in with a 90-page presentation. Come on, nobody wants to read 90 pages. I’ve taken some of those and just thrown them in the barrel without even looking at them. Keep them short and relevant, and don’t forget the price page. Imagine going through 20 pages and finding nothing about pricing.


Actually, you should be able to cover everything in 10 pages. If questions come up, like where you source your sugar from, we can deal with that at the time. But don’t put every little detail in there. Who has time for that?

Keep in mind that I’m not interested in national data. I want to see my own marketplace, and how we compare against our competitors. And I don’t need a list of 500 SKUs and where you rank. It’s not helpful. Give me category information. How am I doing in the market? If we aren’t performing as well as our competition, what are we doing wrong and how can we do better?

I don’t want to hear about your company’s passion, or the owner’s passion to succeed. Where’s the price? It’s so frustrating. Just stop. And don’t ever ask me about my “margin requirement.” It makes me feel like I’m buying a car, and they ask me what size monthly payment I can handle. Just give me the best price you can, and I’ll figure out what the margins are.

If your company is offering slotting to my competition, I expect slotting. But above all else, I want a program where we can be successful and make some money. I don’t want to see big slotting for an item that’s not going to sell.

With this pandemic, it’s difficult. I don’t do face-to-face calls. I’d like to, but I can’t. And I don’t do Zoom. Some opening chit-chat is fine, but get to the point pretty quickly. Whatever you do, don’t sit there and read me a presentation. I can tell.

If you’re going to email me a presentation, do it 24 hours before our phone call. I had a conference call with a broker last week who sent me his presentation five minutes before he called me. Our email filtering system held it back, so I had nothing. If you can get me package flats in the mail ahead of our phone meeting, please do. It’s a huge help. I’ve been at this for many years, and can pretty much tell right away if something is going to sell or if it doesn’t have a prayer in the world.

Do your homework and be sure you have the right data. I had a business manager, kind of new, who wanted me to discontinue my third-best item and bring in an 8th-ranked item. My guess is that he was looking at national numbers from the vendor. Every market area is different. You won’t believe how often that is ignored.


And remember that nothing beats a good program. Be flexible to negotiate and trade some things out. Don’t come in and say “That’s the price and this is the program,” and that’s it. Work with me to try to reach a hot price, or tailor a program to me. Maybe I can give you a free ad, or extra space in the planogram. You’ve got to give me something that’s going to work.

Want to sound off about something in the industry? Email [email protected].


  1. Keep it short and relevant.
  2. Have local/regional data.
  3. Forget “passion.” Talk “price.”
  4. Forget “margin requirement.”
  5. Do NOT read me a presentation!
  6. Send your presentation at least 24 hours before the call.
  7. Send package flats if you can.


Survey by Suzy reveals where shoppers believe there should be more space and selection.

Shoppers would like to see more space devoted to frozen foods — particularly veggies — as well as to produce, dairy foods, meat, seafood and vegetarian foods. That’s according to an exclusive survey of 1,000 shoppers in January by Suzy ( for Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer.

Consumers seem satisfied with relative space allocations in the categories they were asked about. But if they had a preference for “more” or “less” space, they generally chose “more.” The widest gaps here, by percentage point, were: Produce, 23 (23 point difference between “more” and “less”); frozen foods, 16; and frozen veggies, 14. Not in our chart, but categories shoppers considered over-spaced were soft drinks and beer/wine.

Some 41% of respondents said there is less selection of products in supermarkets now than at the start of the pandemic, with 36% seeing no change and 23% believing there is more selection today.


There are big opportunities to drive more plant-based sales, especially in lunches, snacks and desserts. Here’s why.

Changing behavior is one of the most difficult tasks in marketing. To change behavior, we need to understand and address motivations for purchase and occasions for use.


Plant-based alternatives are not yet a routine purchase for most households. While plant-based sales have accelerated during the pandemic, there has been a broader focus on fewer, bigger trips, and more stocking up. On average, only 37% of plant-based buyers purchase these products on a weekly basis. This is driven by more involved buyers who purchase both dairy alternatives and meat alternatives.

Purchase behavior is clearly driven by consumption. While 70% of shoppers state that they or someone in their household consume plant-based products weekly, this falls to 56% of those who purchase only meat alternatives. If we look more specifically at daily consumption, the numbers drop to 30% for dairy alternative consumption and only 16% for meat alternatives. Plant-based consumption is not yet part of the daily diet for most consumers, but rather an alternative or replacement for conventional products.

We analyzed when shoppers would consider purchasing plant-based alternatives and for which occasions they would be most likely to consume. The latter question had mutually exclusive responses, which is helpful to focus on the relative size of the gaps.

Shoppers consider consuming plant-based alternative products at all major meals, with the majority of shoppers indicating either plant-based dairy or plant-based meat at mealtimes. Plant-based meat is clearly driven by dinner (85% consideration) and plant-based dairy has a breakfast bias (86% consideration).

Plant-based dairy and plant-based meat sales are driven by meals. But emerging categories, such as snacks and desserts, could provide additional opportunities throughout the day. Plant-based products can meet healthy snacking and healthy indulgence needs as well!

Dinner is clearly the “most likely” occasion for consumption of plant-based products, and this is driven heavily by plant-based meat. Further emphasis on proper placement of plant-based alternatives in the meat section and continued focus on good taste, texture, and satisfaction will be essential for success.

Dairy is driven strongly by breakfast, which is no surprise given the usage of milk, yogurt, and other products at this daypart. Lunch is still relatively untapped and may be a function of product types, convenience, or communication.

Plant-based snack consideration is in the 50% range across most dayparts. However, for consumers who identify as “most likely” to consume, it is in the single digits. This is an untapped opportunity.

The broader prevalence and growth of snacking represents a huge opportunity. Nearly everyone snacks, with 98% penetration and 94% of consumers snacking daily. Most consumers snack 3+ times a day, either between meals or as mini-meals, and snacking represents 20% of all eatings. This core behavior is driving growth much faster than the total store and snacking represents more than $125 billion annually.

The essence for a successful snack is to deliver on taste, healthfulness, and convenience. While many plant-based alternatives taste great and may be healthy, convenience is an opportunity. 77% of snackers prefer ready-to-eat snacks, and 60% of consumers wish there were more healthy options. Plant-based items can convert those looking for better-for-you snacking. Developing new plant-based products in the snack arena is essential. Some of the categories that are gaining traction include yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. Others have not yet emerged. Can we envision plant-based meat sticks, string cheese, or protein packs? These may be right around the corner, but they need to deliver on taste, healthfulness, and convenience.


Dessert is driven primarily by dairy alternatives, including non-dairy ice cream/novelties, yogurt, and other products. With focused innovation and new products, occasions will explode, thereby increasing trips and consumption. Will you be positioned to win with plant-based alternatives across all occasions? Don’t forget the core — breakfast and dinner — but also ensure you have the products and messaging to deliver on lunch, snacking and dessert.

Don Stuart is managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group ( with offices in Wilton, Conn., and Evanston, Ill. He can be reached at [email protected].


Here’s how to translate insight into results at your stores.

  • Capitalize on the proper placement to win with core dairy and meat alternatives.
  • Expand to other occasions and dayparts — more aggressively promote plant-based breakfast meats and yogurt.
  • Innovate with new plant-based snacks beyond cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.
  • Place all plant-based snacks with their conventional counterparts.


Virtual event offers one-on-one meetings and enhanced education sessions.

By late January, more than 150 companies had already registered for the American Frozen Food Institute’s Frozen Food Convention (AFFI-CON), set for Feb. 17-26. The virtual platform will feature business meetings and enhanced education programs, according to the Arlington, Va.-based organization (

Keynote speaker Duncan Wardle, former head of innovation and creativity for The Walt Disney Company, will kick off AFFI-CON by sharing real-world stories and lessons learned from his more than 25-year career in leadership roles at Disney.

Also on tap is the unveiling of the 2021 Power of Frozen in Retail. The latest research from AFFI and FMI – The Food Industry Association examines consumers’ frozen food purchasing behavior to deliver insight on how to maintain double-digit gains and optimize purchasing beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

A presentation of the research, moderated by AFFI president Alison Bodor, will be made by Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of 210 Analytics (, San Antonio, and Sally Lyons Wyatt, exec vp and practice leader of client insights for IRI, the Chicago-based market research firm. Highlights will include understanding the core frozen food shopper, exploring the needs and expectations of consumers who are new to the aisle as well as what consumers want in terms of package size and variety, new/seasonal flavors, and e-commerce/online food purchasing decisions.

Meetings and educational insights will focus on topics including global trade, food safety and e-commerce. Also featured: A searchable event platform that makes it easy to find new buyer/suppliers and meet with prospects in secure, private meeting rooms; an Executive Leadership Certificate program in partnership with Cornell University; and opportunities to build brand awareness and showcase companies.

For more information and to register visit




Warren Thayer

Warren Thayer

Warren is the Editorial Director & Managing Partner for Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer.

Leave a Reply

Got News?

Let us know!

Email Warren at

[email protected]

On Key

Related Posts

Lineage Acquiring Marc Villeneuve

Lineage Logistics is acquiring Quebec-based Marc Villeneuve Inc. Last year it acquired Ontario Refrigerated Services. When the acquisition closes, Lineage will employee 150 people in

Frozen Desserts Hit Sweet Spot

Mini cheesecakes and novel refrigerated SKUs lead frozen desserts innovation. Thanks to strong growth in the cheesecake (+27.6%) and sweet goods (+20.0%) segments, the frozen

Amazon Beats Alabama Unionization

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has successfully won a union election at its Bessemer, Alabama fulfillment center. There were 1,600 votes against unionizing and 650 in favor. Amazon


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

subscribe to Get industry data

Are you a retailer?

Login or sign up

Not an existing user?

contact us

Or reach us directly:

Paul Chapa, Co-Founder & Managing Partner
913-481-5060 or [email protected]

Warren Thayer, Co-Founder & Managing Partner
603-252-0507 or [email protected]