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Just Sayin’ Debuts

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Want to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable? Read on…

Here’s your opportunity to sound off on what’s bugging you about our beloved industry. Yeah, anything you choose. Starting this month, there’s a new guest column — open to everyone — called “Just Sayin.” Check it out on page 20. A retailer, who has chosen to remain anonymous, (as I expect nearly all of you will prefer), has his say on why the typical manufacturer’s new product presentation is painfully wretched. He also has some suggestions for improvement. (That latter part will be mandatory.)

So why are we calling it “Just Sayin’?” Well, when perturbed with someone for not accepting my wisdom, I often append my remarks with “just sayin’.” It’s meant to cause annoyance whilst making the recipient wonder if I just might have a point after all. This new column’s purpose will be “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”

That time-honored phrase, attributed to everyone from Reinhold Niebuhr to probably Oprah for all I know, especially appeals to those who get to decide who’s “the afflicted” and who’s “the comfortable.” As an editor, I’ve long gotten to decide, and you might as well know it is delightful.


Okay, so how do you start? First, identify a problem that needs fixing. SKU rat? Efficient merchandising? Slotting? BOGOs? Deductions? Brilliant deductions? Category mismanagement? Next, send me an email: [email protected].

I’ll get back to you, promise you anonymity if you want it, and we’ll chat for 15 or 20 minutes about your topic. Then I’ll send you rough copy to look at; we’ll play around with it to our mutual satisfaction, and it’ll go to print. See? Not so hard, is it?

Well, I can’t let this opportunity pass without a few of my own snarky observations, can I? First, I am really tired of hearing about how the industry is stronger than ever because of the pandemic. Seriously? Because it depends on where you are in the food chain. I suppose if your main competitors have gone belly-up, you’re stronger now by default. But many of you are hanging by your fingernails. Despite what industry Pollyannas are saying, covid has been a major kick in the ass for nearly everybody. So, the pandemic has made you stronger? Then how about another kick in the ass? Would that be even better?

IRI (which always insists that I call it “the Chicago-based market research firm”) notes that Big Food is continuing to feel the pain worse than small brands and private label. “Of the CPG industry’s $933 billion of total U.S. sales in measured channels in 2020, large manufacturers collectively lost 1.3 share points, or $12.1 billion in sales, to smaller players due to channel shifts, supply constraints and category shifts,” IRI’s newest research says.

In 2020, the CPG industry grew 10.3%, with smaller manufacturers (cross-channel sales below $1 billion) collectively capturing nearly one-third of that growth, and private label products accounting for roughly 18% of growth. Large manufacturers have lost market share in each of the past five years, but still represent 46.7% of total U.S. sales in measured channels. So covid hasn’t made everybody stronger. Just sayin’.

Warren Thayer

Warren Thayer

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

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