No doubt about it: The foods category is hot. The Millennial obsession with artisan and specialty foods is showing no signs of slowing down, and other age groups are likewise showing more concern with what they are eating.
In response, supermarkets, specialty retailers and big-box stores alike are jumping to keep up with consumer demands.
In the Jan. 30 episode of “Focus on Suppliers,” host Neile Jones talked with suppliers and insider experts about this category: what’s been happening, current challenges, and the future of selling foods to an increasingly knowledgeable and persnickety demographic.
“Focus on Suppliers,” produced by Bentonville-based supplier education company 8th & Walton, airs on Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5:30 a.m. on NBC affiliate KNWA-TV. The shows are always available on YouTube, Vimeo and the audio is available as a podcast on iTunes.
In the food episode, Bill Akins explains how smartphone apps can be synced with personal calendars, recipe databases and other technologies.
Akins, who serves as senior vice president of business development for Rockfish, a Rogers-based digital marketing company, goes on to assert that the technology offers huge opportunities for food suppliers to offer “frictionless buying,” by providing consumers convenient ways of composing shopping lists and ordering products.
Chocolate lovers will appreciate Jones’ interview with Ghirardelli’s James Hearn.
Hearn offers some key insights about chocolate trends, merchandising, addressing shortages, and working with Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Food suppliers might want to pay close attention to what Mike Bentel has to say about the Food Safety Modernization Act. This new federal law brings new compliance challenges and opportunities to the industry.
Bentel, a food safety expert based in Bentonville, formerly worked in quality control and food safety at Walmart and more recently served as vice president of food safety and social responsibility at Florida-based J&J Family of Farms, according to his LinkedIn page.
The episode also features interviews with representatives from CaseStack and the American Heart Association, and Jessica Hendrix weighs in on how Millennials make decisions about what they eat.
Hendrix is president of Springdale-based shopper marketing firm Saatchi & Saatchi X. What she has to say may be surprising to viewers.
The piece is part of a special feature called “Millennial Minute,” which cites case studies, research, trends and shopping habits of the Millennial demographic.
“Focus On Suppliers” has several special features that are regularly included in the show and that handle separate topics, according to the 8th & Walton website.
“In Focus” features discussions around branding, innovation, product launches, seasonality, creative marketing, lessons learned and strategies for success. Guest companies who have been part of the feature include Henkel, Mattel, Continental Mills, Dermasilk and Clorox.
“Retail Edge” explores product and tech companies that are changing retail. The feature emphasizes the importance of innovation and keeps suppliers aware of new technology. Guest companies have included Red Clay Design, Acorn: An Influence Company and The Sampler App.
“The Heart of Business in Northwest Arkansas” emphasizes the importance of suppliers’ community involvement. “The Heart of Business in Northwest Arkansas” informs suppliers how to begin to participate and highlights upcoming charitable events in the region.
“Retail Her” showcases female executives in the Walmart community. The subject of each piece shares advice, knowledge and tips for others in retail. Guests have included Fayetteville-based Mary Zettle, director of sales at General Mills, Alison Gutterman owner of consumer packaged goods company Jelmar in Chicago, and Claudia Mobley, director at the Center for Retailing Excellence at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
Finally, “60 Seconds on Social,” presented by Rogers-based marketing company Collective Bias, uses case studies, research and trends to show the viewer the power of social media.