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Chiquita Tropicals Free Fruit Chips Sample Offer

Chiquita Tropicals, the tropical fruit ingredient group for global Chiquita Brands in Cincinnati, launched a new landing page that offers free product samples of their new, 100% all-natural Fruit Chips featuring bananas, mangos and pineapples. The site is targeted at food manufacturing R&D, product developers and research chefs looking for innovative tropical fruit solutions to enhance their product applications. These chips are just one of the many fruit ingredient products that Chiquita Tropicals provides for its commercial customers. Click here for your free Fruit Chips sample.

STEP1

The landing page provides direct links to information on products and application ideas for food developers and manufacturers. The sample request function offers a simple, direct connection for customers to receive a free sample. This tactic is a great tool to get customers interested and engaged in what Chiquita Tropicals can do for their products.

Chiquita Tropicals launched the new Fruit Chips sample offer at the Anuga trade show, held in Germany in early October. The new Fruit Chips landing page is supported by email, social media marketing and collateral pieces that feature a QR Code for quick access to a full mobile version of the landing page.

Mobile

The multiple platforms and integrated support makes this campaign very user friendly for customers. Chiquita Tropicals has given their customers and prospects a real reason to connect and engage with their new Fruit Chips sample offer.

ConAgra Mills’ Efforts Raise Awareness on Childhood Hunger

ConAgra Mills has been hard at work, raising money and spreading a message to increase awareness of childhood hunger. Six custom-designed rail cars were created in partnership with General American Transportation Corp. and Feeding America. The rail cars read, “1 in 4 children in America struggles with hunger. Join us and donate at feedingamerica.org.” Each rail car will travel across the United States on more than 25,000 miles of track.

Mills Rail CarAs these rail cars provide advertising to raise awareness and funding, scale-model replicas are also on display in The Great Train Story, an exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

In other fundraising efforts, Mills hosted its second annual summer charity golf tournament. The tournament raised $100,000 for Feeding America and will specifically support the food bank’s BackPack Program, which provides weekend meals to children in need.

Mills hopes that their fundraising events and custom rail cars will urge others in the industry to join their efforts to fight childhood hunger and become involved in solution efforts.

Mills Rail Car

As these rail cars provide advertising to raise awareness and funding, scale-model replicas are also on display in The Great Train Story, an exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

In other fundraising efforts, Mills hosted its second annual summer charity golf tournament. The tournament raised $100,000 for Feeding America and will specifically support the food bank’s BackPack Program, which provides weekend meals to children in need.

Mills hopes that their fundraising events and custom rail cars will urge others in the industry to join their efforts to fight childhood hunger and become involved in solution efforts.

Watson Uses Email Blast to Introduce New Product Line

e-mail-headerWe recently received an email blast from Watson, Inc., promoting their new gluten-free ingredients product line.

The email blast opens by asking the audience to consider Watson as their gluten-free problem solver, offering various mixes for bread and muffin products, superior flavor and texture, technical assistance and product innovation, as well as alternatives to the ordinary.

Specifically, this email blast focuses on Watson’s gluteNONE™ product line, showcasing their bread and muffin mixes. With nice photography and strong, supportive bullet points for each gluteNONE™ mix offering, the reader learns that each mix meets celiac associations’ requirements, is adaptable to various types of bread products, and requires that very few additional ingredients be added to achieve the finished creation.

Also included in the email blast is clear, client-to-company contact information, promising users that Watson will aid your company in cross-contamination issues, labeling, and even marketing strategies. With links to their Twitter feed and “About Us” section of their website, Watson makes it easy for an interested prospect to take the next step. You can even reply to the email blast for more information or to request a sample.

Email blasts such as this one, are great examples of promoting a product successfully. This tactic allows Watson’s new product introduction to land in the email inboxes of prospective clients and current customers. Email blasts are a very successful way to generate new sales leads, increase product awareness, and by requesting a sample offer—allow the sales team to follow-up with closely targeted messages to those interested customers.

Gluten-free: Trend or Fad? – UPDATE

Gluten-Free

Last March, we ran a blog post that asked the question “Gluten-free—Trend or Fad?” The post received hundreds of comments and responses on our blog, Twitter page, and on a couple dozen different food groups on LinkedIn. The passion on this issue runs high and opinions cross the spectrum from seeing gluten-free as a mainstream market trend, to thinking it’s just a foodie-centric fad du jour. That passion continues among hard core supporters, but the spike in media attention that gluten-free received in 2010 and early 2011 has recently shown signs of decline.

There continues to be new gluten-free products introduced and there is also aggressive market activity, as seen in last month’s announcement that Smart Balance will acquire Glutino Foods Group for $66 million. Nonetheless, several major CPG food manufacturers have reported during recent analyst calls that they have failed to see significant commercial volume for gluten-free products and still consider the category a niche market. Reprinted below is our original post on the subject that summarizes many of the primary arguments and sources for the gluten-free debate. What do you think? What is your update on the question “Gluten-free: Trend or Fad?”

Originally posted March 21, 2011
Author: Jennifer Scott

In a February article on foodproductdesign.com, it appears the gluten-free food trend is still on the up-and-up. In fact, the sector is projected to grow to $6 billion by 2015. The article also suggests that this rise in popularity has to do with a few factors:

  1. An increase in diagnosis for Celiac Disease (CD)—In a medscape.com article dated July 2010, Mayo Clinic research confirmed CD diagnosis was up four-fold worldwide, thus dramatically increasing the number of people who were recommended a gluten-free diet for medical purposes.
  2. Evidence suggesting a gluten-free diet can relieve autism in children and adult rheumatoid arthritis—According to a webmd.com article, while very little research has been done, parents are incorporating a gluten-free diet and reporting improvements in their autistic children’s symptoms. And a study was conducted a couple of years ago by Arthritis Research & Therapy concluding a gluten-free diet helped reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. The belief that gluten-free is a “healthy” way of life—The gluten-free diet is something that a lot celebrities have been adapting, and is believed by many to help people lose weight. The ABC network did a special feature in November of 2010 on gluten-free as a health trend, highlighting both the positives and negatives of a gluten-free diet. Click here to check it out.

Not everyone is convinced the gluten-free trend will stick around. For example, Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides—a site devoted to tracking industry movements and its influence on food, flavor and health trends—believes that gluten-free followers who have chosen a gluten-free diet based on the belief that it is a healthier option are likely to stop purchasing and consuming gluten-free products—and she predicts it will happen quickly. Read more here. Also, in a U.S. News Healtharticle, the gluten-free diet is believed to be “a cure for some” and “a fad for most.” Read the entire article here. While it looks like the gluten-free trend is still alive and well, keep in mind that what you could be seeing is a fad. And, as we all know, fads die. And most often quickly.

QR Codes Grow Up at Food Trade Shows

The use of QR codes at food ingredient trade shows and manufacturer expos has increased dramatically over the past year. Mobile apps offered and promoted by the actual show presenters and producers have proliferated. More mobile use overall has increased the audience demand for apps like QR code readers, and as a result, more food ingredient marketers have begun to use the Quick Response codes to drive traffic to their traditional websites and to new mobile sites and landing pages.

Last June, the 2011 IFT Show in New Orleans showcased IFT’s latest generation trade show app with IFT11, which allowed users to access all the conference information, schedules and literature on one easy platform. Yet despite featuring convenient conference access and tools for managing appointments and exhibitor contact info, the IFT11 app only attracted about 500 users from a conference with over 15,000 attendees.

One reason for the low numbers may be slow adaptation of mobile app technology by many corporate IT customers. Our firm introduced a QR code promotion at IFT with limited results. Many food company executive told us that their corporate IT department didn’t support iPhone or smart phone technologies, or told us, “My IT guys won’t let us have apps like QR code readers.”

However, at the August PMA Food Service Conference and Expo in Monterey, it seemed like nearly everybody had a smart phone with a QR code reader app. The produce industry has been more active in using bar code and QR code technologies on their packaging and in their traceability systems, so it makes sense that there would be greater adoption of mobile technology in the produce channel.

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IFT and PMA, and nearly every other food expo this year, have also seen an increasing number of exhibitor booths using QR codes on their trade show literature and even on their booth designs. Charles Shafae, of dProduce Man Software from California, has a large QR code prominently displayed on his booth. dProduce Man Software sells packaging codes and software for the produce industry. Shafae said that having the QR code on his booth helped customers “go straight to all our information online.”

As adaptation of mobile technologies continues to grow among executives and professionals in the food ingredient industry, the use of QR codes, landing pages and other mobile apps will continue to gain traction and quickly grow to become important marketing communication tools for ingredient marketers.

Celebrity Chef Engages Customers for Sunkist

Celebrity chefs are everywhere these days. From the crowded Internet to the televised food networks, to our book stores and kitchens, innovative chefs with great stories to tell continue to capture the attention of all of us who work in the food business. And well they should with all they bring in terms of culinary knowledge and experiences, as well as creativity and innovative talent.

Leading chef and culinary stars have become more and more engaged in the business of marketing commercial brands in the food ingredient channels and helping ingredient marketers present their products to their customer companies. Chefs are used to create, prepare and present finished applications that utilize the marketer’s ingredient and showcase its benefits for customer products. R&D, food science and new product developers from customer enterprises are drawn to the chefs for their applications and the insights.

IMAG0083A great example of this was on display at the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) conference and expo in Monterey this summer. Celebrity Chef Robert Danhi’s appearance at the Sunkist booth created a lot of buzz on the trade show floor. Chef Danhi is well known with his involvement on the board of directors for the Research Chef’s Association (RCA) and for his travels across Asia searching out great local foods.

Chef Danhi created, prepared and served Grilled Sunkist Lemon Planks, an intriguing new use of sliced lemons grilled and presented with salmon, green tea and jasmine oils. Not only did it taste great, but it also led to engaged conversations with Sunkist customers and prospects on new and different ways to utilize lemons in their products and applications. Those types of engaged conversations will always lead to more sales for Sunkist.

Expect to see even more celebrity chefs working with the leading ingredient companies over the next year.  It should make for some really terrific new samples at the food trade shows, as well as some exciting new products.

 

Social Media for Food Ingredient Marketers

Over the past year, we have seen more and more food manufacturers and ingredient marketers starting to use social media.  In fact, we have connected online with hundreds of food industry executives, marketers, R&D professionals, research chefs and innovative culinary types through sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.  And yet we still hear from many food ingredient companies that they are hesitant to get started in social media and have concerns about how to use social media sites and tools.

The-Thank-You-EconomyIn his wonderful book on social media interaction, “The Thank You Economy,” Gary Vaynerchuk addresses many of these concerns head-on.  Here is our take on some of the more relevant concerns for food marketers.

Are you concerned that someone in the B2B space is never going to interact with you online? Why not? They are still human beings—with the desire for emotional connections, strong relationships and quality engagement. Business transactions are ultimately about goodwill and trust. And social media is one of the best channels to display this. Your customers have smart phones, and personal Twitter and Facebook pages. So why wouldn’t they interact with you online?

Are you stuck because your boss needs to know the ROI and you aren’t able to measure this? Consider this: can you measure the ROI of a handshake, of a first impression, of an employee who went out of his/her way to make something right for a customer? No, but do you expect this level of interaction to take place in your business? Of course!

Are you concerned that you don’t have the time to manage or monitor it?  Think about how you are currently allocating your resources.  Can you identify somewhere you aren’t spending your money wisely?  Consider taking that money and hiring a firm like Anderson Partners to help you with strategy and execution.

Ultimately, you can’t afford not to invest in a social media strategy. The benefits may not be noticed immediately but will be noticed long term; you will have greater brand awareness, stronger brand loyalty, increased word of mouth, improved understanding of your customer needs and direct access to customer feedback. Plus, it’s your customer’s access to the authentic you. Get out there and get started already.

New Clean Label Campaign From IFC

Isn’t it nice when you are flipping through a familiar publication and a refreshing ad catches your eye? This print ad from International Fiber Corporation (IFC) uses a soft and airy color scheme to draw you in. And then, in a single headline, it introduces a common nutritional problem manufacturers face, and offers the solution.

IFC

The ad focuses on a basic visual of nutritional labels for an array of applications and easily demonstrates how calories are reduced when insoluble fiber is added. It’s interesting to note that the ad neglects to callout the two ingredient brand names that IFC offers. Whether intentional or not, this approach becomes less of a sales pitch and more of an acknowledgement of a nation-wide consumer and governmental trend toward decreasing our caloric intake.

This creative is seamlessly carried into a landing page found at www.reducecalorieswithfiber.com. The site does a great job of setting up the issue and addressing the problem with the benefits of insoluble fiber. The ingredient names are found on this site, although they aren’t described in detail. To learn more about them, you have to click to the main IFC website and conduct your own search.

All in all, IFC made it very easy for its audience to understand the unique value of insoluble fiber and how it can clean up nutritional labels.

LinkedIn Groups Offer Industry Networking

imagesLinkedIn groups are typically created in an effort to provide a forum for like-minded people to interact and network. What if an ingredient company created a group open to the public that was specific to its company (products/services) or was specific to a product category (like flour)? I haven’t seen any companies taking this approach, but I think it’s a great opportunity.

This is the idea behind our successful LinkedIn group, Food Ingredient Marketing Communications (FIMC). This group has attracted hundreds of industry professionals, including senior marketing executives, R&D leaders and culinary innovators.

The content for these groups is endless. Post about new product introductions, recipe and application ideas, how to address technical issues, benefits of specific ingredients, etc. At first the group may be more of a push strategy, but eventually, as potential customers join the group your customers will start to participate in the conversation. Ideally they would post on a problem they’ve been experiencing, an ingredient they’ve been looking for, an application solution they’ve been missing, etc.

Not only will you build a database of quality potential customers you will be able to respond to them one-on-one, make an acquaintance and hopefully create some business. Like any social media approach ROI will not be immediate. By addressing your audiences’ needs, you prove to them that you are transparent and reachable. And you will probably learn something you never knew about your product/service, allowing you to either come up with something even better or decide to fix the issue.

New Ingredients Web Portal Has Social Connections

seewhatsworking2Anderson Partners Food Ingredients has launched a new web portal that connects online industry content with rich social media connections and delivers a valuable new resource for food ingredient marketing executives. With both standard and mobile versions, the portal provides a convenient way to access ingredient news, trends and discussions—all in one place.

We created our first portal as a landing page to support a QR-code promotion that we launched at IFT 2011. The response was very positive, so we built the new portal to provide our clients and our industry friends with even better access to our content.

The industry news feeds follow all the biggest food manufacturing customer companies. Our blog tracks important trends, and features examples of recent marketing communication programs from the major ingredient suppliers. Social media channels offer robust discussions with marketing executives, R&D leaders and culinary innovators.

The portal links multiple platforms together. There are two Twitter feeds, one from @APFI that features industry news, while @markhughesfood offers trends and commentary. Our LinkedIn discussion group Food Ingredient Marketing Communications (FIMC) connects to hundreds of industry executives. The main website provides a library of industry best practices and examples. Our goal is to provide a rich resource that ingredient marketers can use to make their programs work even better.

Take a look and let us know what you think. You can access the portal at http://www.andersonpartners.com/seewhatsworking/.

New Functional Egg Site Showcases Videos

FunctionalEggHome2High five to the American Egg Board and Shelly McKee, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Poultry Science at Auburn University, their new website found at functionalegg.org! This website features six videos for food formulators that highlight the functional properties of egg products, including aeration, coagulation, emulsification, foaming and crystallization control. Videos can be such an engaging and informative tool in your marketing mix, and they are often overlooked. Which is why I’m excited to see a food ingredient company utilizing them.

Here is my honest analysis of the site.

Positives:

  • Great use of a mini-website to distribute a targeted message.
  • The site is very clean, easy to follow and not bombarded with text.
  • The video content itself is great, with great intent.
  • Good production quality.
  • Good use of quick links back to the main site for additional information.

Opportunities:

  • Ms. McKee, the narrator of the videos, appears stiff, as if she is reading from a monitor. This could be addressed by giving her bullet points to speak from as opposed to a script to follow.
  • To break up the monotony of having the camera on one person narrating, work in more demonstrations, graphics or video with voiceover, or consider adding another personality.
  • Some of these videos are 8-10 minutes long. It’s hard to hold someone’s attention for that long through an online video. I’d recommend 5 minutes or less.

According to the website there are six more videos on the functionality of eggs that are coming soon! That’s exciting news and great for food technologists; hopefully, the American Egg Board will consider ways to make these videos even more engaging.

Back to Scratch Baking

Hobart, Traulsen and Baxter—which offer a full line of food equipment, from flight-type warewashers to countertop food processors—launched a new B2B campaign at the 2011 National Restaurant Association (NRA) show called “Back to Scratch.” These partners recognized a growing demand for scratch baking and utilizing fresh ingredients. The target audience of this campaign was foodservice professionals, including bakers, schools and institutional bakers.

Hobart Corp. teamed up with Buddy Valastro from TLC’s “The Cake Boss” to help spread the message. Buddy is a big supporter of the Hobart mixer and scratch baking, and therefore was a perfect fit. Buddy and other chefs conducted baking demonstrations during the NRA show. Attendees could also take pictures with Buddy and were given a web address to view them at, creating further engagement.

Beyond the show, Horbart Corp. created a website at www.getbacktoscratch.com. This website allows foodservice professionals an opportunity to talk to other bakers and share photos of food items. Bakers can also put themselves on the map by submitting their location, allowing consumers to find them. A contest for a Hobart mixer, that goes until August 21, 2011, has been generating a lot of buzz on the site as well. Bakers can enter the contest by submitting their signature scratch-made item for others to vote on it.

GetbacktoscratchBV-2

Other channels utilized to connect to bakers included Facebook and Twitter:

www.facebook.com/getbacktoscratch

twitter.com/#!/back2scratch/

This campaign was done very tastefully. The focus is on the bakers and the recognized trend toward going back to scratch. Nowhere in this campaign are Hobart, Traulsen and Baxter hard selling any of its equipment. Obviously, the goal long-term goal is that bakers will remember them when purchasing equipment, but it goes to show that B2B companies can create real connections with their audiences without trying to sell something.

Here is some additional earned media the campaign achieved:

www.foodchannel.com/blogs/entry/cake-boss-takes-cake/

www.zshare.net/audio/91400631bdbf9e1d

 

Because Feeling is Believing

Gingerpedia_masthead

The Ginger People have created a blog, using WordPress, that is titled GingerpediaThis blog is very specific to the one ingredient it produces—ginger. The blog covers topics on ginger supply, applications, ingredients and industry trends. It targets food service operators, manufacturers and development professionals.

The idea of a blog seems to scare a lot of ingredient manufacturers only because they don’t think that they can find the time to write. But if you weigh the time spent against the value you will receive, it’s a tactic worth considering. Any ingredient company can have a blog, just like this, with a similar focus. Blogs (and other social media tools) show a softer side of a company. They show the human side. Sometimes we forget that people do business with people they like. Just like with a consumer brand, your company should be building emotional connections with those you interact with at every touch point. Try to get into their hearts and minds. If you can show you have a personality and have great ideas, you instantly qualify yourself as someone a prospect could do business with.

With a plan and schedule in place that identifies topics to cover, who can write them and when they should post, a blog is definitely doable. Believe me. Here at Anderson Partners Food Ingredients, we went through the same conversations, decided to dive in and it has been one of our most successful tactics to date. You’re reading our blog now.

King Arthur Flour Gets Engagement

This post was originally going to be about King Arthur’s new “Our Farmers” videos. But after I watched the videos, I toured the website further and the post has taken a different turn. King Arthur is doing some really great things in terms of engagement, and I’d like to touch on a few of those.

King_Arthur_Flour_logo_older_a

Videos
King Arthur recently launched videos covering the following topics: Families, Life of a Farmer, Preserving the Land and the King Arthur Flour (KAF) Connection. Each topic category has an all- encompassing recap video and individual family farmer video testimonials. The production quality of these videos is great. KAF effortlessly captures the emotion of the farmers and the connection that they have to their livelihood. The videos are very honest and nonscripted. The charm of the videos remains intact because of KAF’s tasteful choice to have minimal branding in the lower right corner.

My one criticism would be that had I not seen this link in a press release I’m not sure I could find the videos on the website. My personal opinion is that they should be highlighted on the homepage.

Community
KAF has built its own social network on its website, and people are actually participating in it. Bakers are posting recipes using KAF flour, problems they are experiencing while baking, questions on tips and much more. To post comments, users sign in with their account that they set up to receive email blasts from KAF. If users don’t have an account, they can create one. What a smart way for KAF to capture a database of potential customers.

Blog
The blog features awesome food photography and a clean design. I don’t even bake, but it makes me want to because of the food shots alone. The tone is conversational and includes recommendations on recipes to try. Each post actually shows, through photography, the step by step process that the recipe calls for.

Our Flours
The product pages titled “Our Flours” also use enticing food photography but go a step further by pulling in customer testimonials from posts in the community forum. Is there any better way to sell a product than to have a positive customer endorsement? Genius!

I’d have to say my KAF video experience took a turn for the better, and KAF’s website provided a fresh look at how to be more engaging. If you haven’t noticed a theme lately with my posts let me reiterate … IT’S ALL ABOUT ENGAGEMENT.

How to Qualify a Sample Request

Kraft-eblast

As a food ingredient company, one of the issues you will most certainly run into with a sampling program is qualifying those who place online orders. It’s not financially beneficial for you to send samples to companies or organizations that aren’t going to produce relevant business for you. So how do you qualify customers?

Kraft Food Ingredients (KFI) recently redesigned its online sample ordering system. To announce this to its customers, it distributed an email blast. The email drives you to the website to register and then place your sample order. The registration is pretty typical—asking for contact information and what products you would like to sample. What I found interesting about this system is what I received after I registered.

I received an email with an attachment that included a letter. The letter was sent from a generic “info” email address. KFI requests that you provide additional information about your company, the trade your company services, how KFI products would be applied to the products you manufacture, and an estimated annual quantity of pounds the project or company would require. This approach is unique and will surely solve the challenge of qualifying customers. What I would have liked to see done differently is for this letter to appear to come from and be signed by an actual person at KFI. (Note: the email address could still be a pseudo person for this purpose.) It may have also felt more personal and real if the text of the letter was in the body copy of the email, instead of in an attachment. We are often asked if requiring so much information from the customer will hinder them from requesting a sample. It depends how detailed you try to get. We think that if a customer is truly interested in your products then they will not hesitate to provide this information. One way to streamline this process is to request all this information at registration, and provide field boxes and dropdowns for completion as often as you can.

Kraft-Response

Anderson Partners Launches QR Code at IFT

Here’s an example of how we will be using QR codes at this year’s IFT Show. Go ahead. Scan the code. It will take you to a landing page that includes real time Twitter feeds for IFT, Anderson Partners and our president’s own Twitter feed. It also includes a brief description and links to our website, blog and group on LinkedIn.

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Show attendees receive so much collateral at tradeshows that it is important you find a way to stand out. So, instead of handing our prospects pages of information on us, we decided to compile all of that information in one handheld place—a unique URL address that our prospects could visit via their phone by snapping a picture of our QR code. This functionality also allows them to bookmark our page to review at a later time, or instantly share the page via email or text message which will extend our reach.

We built this landing page in-house so there were no costs involved except for our time. Even so, we are excited to determine our ROI and the success of this tactic. To measure this, we have set up tracking on our landing page and will be checking in during and after the show to see how it’s working. We’ll be sure to share these results with you when they come in. This test is also important to us because we are curious to see how many food ingredient-ites are familiar with and already have the capability to scan QR codes. It may be more than you think! Stay tuned …

QR Codes Put Information in the Hands of Your Customers—Literally

What if you could get information into the hands of your customers quicker? QR codes are short for quick response codes. When you scan one of these codes with your cell phone, it can do a number of things. It can provide you a contact’s information for download, take you to a web address or social media page, or download a PDF to your phone. Smartphones are becoming increasingly popular; therefore, mobile marketing tactics should be considered in your overall mix.

Consider these ideas and know that the possibilities are endless:

  • If you are hosting a customer event, use QR codes to create personalized name tags for each person. Place the code in an e-blast invitation to the event. The e-blast instructs attendees to register online. Then they immediately receive a personalized name tag with a QR code, which they can print out and bring to the event. Instead of exchanging business cards, every one can just scan one another’s name tags and capture the information that way.
  • Place the code on any promotional collateral piece and have people scan it to enter themselves into a contest or sweepstakes.
  • Place a code in a quarterly newsletter and link it back to a customer survey.
  • Place a code in a print ad and drive customers to your website or a unique landing page.
  • Place a code on a product sample. It could link to a recipe, ingredient and/or nutritional information.

Learn More!
Here’s a Mashable article on how QR codes are being used: http://mashable.com/2011/03/04/qr-codes-infographic/

Here’s a comprehensive list of available QR code generators. Most are free and offer some form of tracking: http://qrmedia.us/qr-code-generators-with-tracking/

QR code scavenger hunts are pretty common. Check out how Starbucks used QR codes to that end: http://mashable.com/2011/05/19/srch/

And lastly, QR codes don’t have to be ugly. Here’s how you can dress them up: http://mashable.com/2011/04/18/qr-code-design-tips/

Using QR Codes for Instant Sampling

While most companies understand the importance of social media, and have incorporated it into their marketing plans, figuring out how to use it to increase sales still remains a challenge. Which Wich Superior Sandwiches—a customized sandwich shop, and the fastest growing quick service chain in the U.S. in 2010—is known for its gourmet sandwiches, but wanted to increase add-on sales by encouraging its current customers to purchase a Which Wich cookie when purchasing their sandwiches. And they used Facebook and QR codes to do it.

It started with a Facebook post on the Which Wich wall saying:

It’s time for a BUN-NY Hunt! Open your QR Code reader and search your fave Which Wich location for the hidden “code.” Scan it and follow the directions for a free treat! The code could be anywhere in the store (where you guys are allowed – no kitchens, etc!) The hunt ends this Saturday, 4/23 🙂

Once inside the Which Wich shops, customers would find the QR code, scan it and be directed to a landing page that listed the steps the customer had to take in order to receive their free cookie (basically filling out a quick info sheet and turning it in at the counter).

This example is social media in its greatest form. With this sampling tactic, Which Wich not only engaged its current customers in a fun way, it encouraged additional add-ons for their future visits, thus increasing customer loyalty and increasing sales in one blow. It’s a business/customer win-win.

Make Holiday-themed POS: Help Your Customers Increase Sales

sweetstreets

A reoccurring theme throughout our blogs is educating your customers, and giving them the tools and information to fully benefit from your products. Sweet Street Desserts—a gourmet dessert distributor—has dedicated an entire portion of its site to its customers, offering product information, new and featured products, merchandising tools and much more. And now, with graduation season upon us, Sweet Street’s latest email blast promoted graduation-themed POS.

At its online Sweet Shop, Sweet Street customers can create POS and product cards that can be customized, encouraging additional or last-minute dessert purchases for graduation celebrations. Sweet Street is a great example of how continuing to find opportunities to help your customers sell can be beneficial for you, and it reminds us that POS is great at tempting customers to buy.

Smartphone Apps are the Smart Thing to Do

United fresh

With smartphone consumption on the rise, phone applications (apps) are still hotter than ever. And more and more food industry companies are taking advantage, as well as the food industry trade shows and conventions. United Fresh 2011—an expo for every segment of the produce industry—just took place May 2-5.

And to capture its audience beforehand, the expo sent an email blast encouraging attendees to download the United Fresh App for their mobile devices (also viewable on any internet-capable device). With this app, attendees were able to view an electronic version of the event schedule, and break it down into specific market segments, such as grower-shipper, wholesaler-distributor, fresh-cut processor or retail-foodservice.

While this app offered attendees convenience on-the-go at the show, an interesting feature about this app is that, even after the show, the app is still functional, allowing people to stay connected with United Fresh year-round. The app offers member alerts, news updates, United Fresh events and programming bulletins, as well as other new features to help extend the value of United Fresh membership. United Fresh has done a great job at capturing its audience with an initial benefit, and then making the most of that captured audience by offering information that will keep them around and up-to-date on its future endeavors.

Quick-service Connections Through Crowdfunding

An interesting and newer form of social media is what is known as crowdfunding. Similar to crowdsourcing—the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by employees or contractors—crowdfunding reaches out to individuals within the online community.

The process is quite simple. Entrepreneurs register and promote his or her concept on a crowdfunding site where investors can look through the opportunities. Once an investor finds a business concept of interest, he or she looks at the business plan, evaluates the risks, and decides whether or not to invest. Many restaurant operators are using this method to launch new locations.

For example, Jon Rubin is an entrepreneur who operates Conflict Kitchen—a quick-service operation that serves food from countries in conflict with the U.S. Rubin actually got his start by going to Kickstarter and raising $4,000. Like Rubin, many of the entrepreneurs utilizing crowdfunding are quick-service operators.

These sites could offer a great opportunity for you to find up-and-coming talent, ideas and even opportunities for additional sales or sponsorship of one of the up-and-comers. A couple other crowdfunding sites to check out are Kiva and ProFounder.

Kickstarter Kiva

Co-branding: The Food Industry Goes to the Movies

AMC Smart snackWe continue to see major brands partnering with other major brands as a way to gain extra marketing power. And now some of the food industry’s biggest brands are partnering up with AMC Theaters. Chiquita, Dasani, Odwalla Ba and PopCorners will all be part of the new AMC Smart MovieSnacks bag—a comprehensive snack pack that includes Chiquita Fruit Chips, a 20 oz. Dasani water, an Odwalla Bar Chocolate Chip Trail Mix and PopCorners popped corn chips. The Smart MovieSnacks are an attempt by the leading theater and entertainment company to offer its customers a healthier snacking option while viewing movies. These healthier options are now available at all AMC locations in the U.S., and are being sold for $7 each. Read more about the products included in the Smart MovieSnacks bag, in addition to what each company has to say about this new partnership, here.

Customizing Ingredients Becomes the Norm

A recent FoodProcessing.com feature was headlined “Ingredient Suppliers Specializing in Custom Mixes of Ingredients.” The article described how many ingredient suppliers have begun to focus on creating customized ingredient blends and mixes for specific customer applications. We have seen and heard the same message from the ingredient manufacturers at the major trade shows over the last few months. Nearly every ingredient company we’ve talked to this year has touted the fact that they make customized application-specific ingredients for their customers, as if this made them unique or differentiated them from other ingredient marketers.

flourbin1aIn fact, being able to provide customized ingredient products has become the expected norm in food manufacturing channels. Customer companies are demanding more support from their suppliers, and want resources and information that can help their products succeed. Ingredient suppliers are responding with marketing with an increased focus on their capabilities to provide application-specific ingredient products, mixes and blends.

“Custom ingredients” has almost become a generic term in the industry. Many ingredient suppliers have adopted the term into their corporate name, as well as their marketing. An example is Grande Custom Ingredients Group.

Many ingredient companies are focusing their customization message on individual food channels and category-specific applications, like dairy products. MCT Dairies offers formulated dairy and specialty ingredients, customized for manufacturing customers.

Several ingredient companies are using their customization capabilities to get customer R&D, product development and culinary executives engaged in working with their products. Companies are offering assistance and new online tools to help customers formulate custom ingredients for their specific product applications. Tate & Lyle has launched a new site, called “Your Food Systems,” that provides customers with resources to help support customization.

The focus on customization of ingredients will always be an important marketing message for food ingredient companies. Engagement with R&D and marketing departments will continue to be a key to long-term ingredient sales.

The Added Value in Customer Exclusivity

With food ingredient companies, a great way to keep your customers happy, and your sales up, is to continuously provide your customers with information on your products, the benefits they offer, and innovative ways to incorporate them into new recipes. And what better way to supply that information than directly on your website?

Bakemark

BakeMark is a bakery product supplier, and has rolled out a new online component called Bakers Row, accessible only to BakeMark customers. Through this exclusive section, customers have access to information such as seasonal ideas and frequently asked questions, as well as tips on how to get the most from their baking equipment and BakeMark ingredients. The interesting part about Bakers Row is its exclusivity. What a great way to make your customers feel they’re getting added value, while also encouraging them to purchase additional products. It’s definitely a win-win.

10 Most Innovative Food Companies

From making products healthier to incorporating sustainability to implementing advertising and marketing initiatives, more and more food companies are finding ways to get creative with their products. Fast Company recently released its 2011 “50 Most Innovative Companies” issue that highlighted the 10 most innovative food companies. These companies were recognized for thinking outside the conventional box, taking risks and reprogramming consumer perceptions.

The following are the Top 10 Most Innovative Food Companies:

1)  PepsiCo—for recently opening a clinical research center focused on making its products healthier by reducing fat, sugar and sodium by as much as 25 percent over the next 10 years, without compromising taste.

2)  Trader Joes—for its commitment to stocking 4,000 specialty products, compared to the large inventories of typical grocery stores. The smaller inventory allows them to sell twice as much as Whole Foods.

3)  Madécasse—for building a bean-to-bar chocolate company in West Africa (while 70 percent of cocoa comes from West Africa, only one percent of the world’s chocolate is made there) to keep more economic benefit within the island nation.

4)  Cargill—for perfecting process to grow and refine sweet leaf extracts from stevia that is eco-aware and health-friendly.

5)  Foodhub—for creating an online tool to connect local food producers to food buyers big and small. Wholesale food buyers log on to access thousands of small and regional producers, as well as info on varietals sold, minimum orders, insurance, and delivery options.

6)  Current Energy—for creating smart sensors to help fast food restaurants cut their energy use. The sensors can ping restaurant managers with text messages if a walk-in refrigerator is left ajar for too long, or coordinate pizza-oven temperatures based on real-time sales.

7)  Chipotle—for its in-house advertising that included replacing wacky promotions with on-message marketing. The company’s “Boo-rito” giveaways for Halloween were replaced this year by a campaign to promote how truly scary other fast food is, with sales of discounted meals going to support Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

8)  McDonald’s—for investing $2.4 billion in changing consumer perception about the fast food giant. McDonald’s is launching first total makeover campaign since the Carter administration, redoing at least 400 domestic outposts, refurbishing 1,600 restaurants abroad and building another 1,000.

9)  Bolthouse Farms—for its goal to double the $1 billion baby-carrot business by using snack food marketing tactics. The move propelled baby carrots from a flat industry to a hotly marketed snack food, from adrenaline-fueled ads to snazzy grab-and-go bags.

10)  Max Burger—for being the first carbon-footprint fast-food chain. Max Burger prints the carbon emissions of each sandwich on the menu.

To view the entire 2011 “50 Most Innovative Companies,” click here.

Triscuits Uses Social Media to Feature Home Farming

TriscuitTriscuits cracker brand has created a new social media site built entirely around home farming. Members of this social network can track the progress of their home farms, upload pictures and videos, connect with other home farmers, and even receive rewards. With more than 17,000 members, the social site is taking off. In addition to posting about their farms, members have access to a great deal of farming information, guides and tips, including how to get started, how to store your harvest, and vegetable and herb guides. Those with specific questions can “Ask the Community” and get instant feedback from their fellow home farmers. Click here to check out Triscuits new home farming site.

Caravan Ingredient’s New and Improved Website

Caravan

Caravan Ingredients—a leading provider of functional food ingredients, nutritional supplements and baking supplies—has just launched a new website. From the high quality images to its product search, this new site has all of the components to properly inform Caravan’s customers of its product offerings and capabilities. In addition to, the site also features how-to baking videos and easy-to-use resource forms. Click here to check out the new site for yourself.

Damage Control in the Form of Marketing

Products in the food industry can be rather temperamental, forcing companies to not only fix the problem, but relay that fix to its customers. Big question is: how does one best do that? A great example of what to do in this situation is Chiquita’s Chiquita To Go. Recently, Chiquita experienced some customer dissatisfaction with the short shelf life of its bananas. In response, this international marketer, distributor and producer of fresh fruit came up with a new marketing solution to help its customers sell to their customers.

chiquita

Thus came Chiquita To Go. Chiquita positioned bananas as the perfect grab-and-go snack for its customers’ shoppers. They created new Chiquita To Go merchandising to make it easy for its customers to position, as well as created a website to explain all of the details, including informational videos and testimonials from satisfied customers. This marketing approach, in conjunction with the Web component, has already been successful for Chiquita. Not only has the company made its customers happy, it has generated a new way to position its product and increase overall sales.

 

What’s the Best Low-Sodium or Sodium-Reduction Ingredient Product?

salt-demon

Our recent blog post included a dozen links to different ingredient companies with low-sodium or sodium-replacement products.

Click here to read a Food Processing article about “America’s Assault on Salt.”

What do you think is the best ingredient product on the market to customers looking for low-sodium or sodium-replacement ingredients?

Comment and share here. We will review the best of the marketplace in a future round-up post on our blog.

Image courtesy of Food Processing, a Putman Media property.

The Power of Crowdsourcing for Food Companies

Crowdsourcing is a tool more and more companies are incorporating in their marketing efforts. One form of crowdsourcing entails outsourcing duties traditionally performed by employees or contractors to a group of people or a community. A recent Mashable article takes a look at three crowdsourcing campaigns from some pretty recognizable food and beverage companies.

Ben---Jerry-s-ben-and-jerrys-613380_1469_405The first is Ben & Jerry’s and its “Do the World a Flavor” campaign. Ben & Jerry’s was trying to raise awareness for its new fair trade ingredients. To do so, they created a virtual “Creation Station” where fans could invent their own B&J creations and “tap into [their] passion, creativity and their own interpretation of ‘Peace, Love and Ice Cream,’” said Sean Greenwood, public relations for B&J. The campaign was a success, with more than 10,000 new flavor suggestions from the U.S. alone.

dunkin-donutsThe second is Dunkin’ Donuts’ “Keep it Coolatta 2: Flavor Boogaloo.” Dunkin’ Donuts has asked fans previously to create the next Dunkin’ donut, but they tried something different for their new line of Coolatta drinks. Fans were asked to create a playlist of songs that summarized each flavor. The campaign netted 300,000 new Facebook fans, while over 40,000 Pandora users added “The ultimate Coolatta summer music mix!” to their list of stations, and spent nearly 14,000 hours listening to the station.

water

And last, but definitely not least, is Coca Cola’s Glaceau vitaminwater with “Flavor Creator.” Coca Cola wanted to come up with a brand new flavor for a drink, so they created the Flavor Creator, allowing their fans to vote for their favorite flavor, play games and answer quizzes to help determine which “functional benefit” the beverage should offer. They even had their say on the design of the label. The campaign was a success, according to Matt Kahn, senior vice president of marketing for vitaminwater. “The vitaminwater flavor creator was a three month, three step program that allowed us to have a two way conversation with our consumers. We gave our fans the tools to help develop something they were passionate about. In the end, we heard loud and clear what it was that they wanted when it came to vitaminwater.”

With social media, marketing opportunities have never been better. Consumers are practically at your fingertips, and for a more-than-reasonable cost. Incorporating a crowdsourcing campaign, allowing those consumers to test out and help develop new products and flavors, can result in immediate feedback and can even help you save money in the preliminary stages of development. Not to mention the fact that involving consumers in the product development process will most likely up the chances that they become customers once your product hits the shelf. Leading us to agree that crowdsourcing is a win-win for both consumer and company.

GlutenFreely.com: A One-stop-site for Gluten-free

GlutenFreely

With the gluten-free craze in full force, I’ve seen a lot of sites dedicated to promoting the popular trend. But not yet have I seen a site incorporate so many components, quite so well as Gluten Freely. While glutenfreely.com is not a new site, it has revamped its look, as well as added additional gluten-free content. From articles and blogs to coupons and recipes, this site is a great resource for both those who choose to, or are medically advised, to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle. The site also has medical content available, and an online store offering more than 400 products sorted by category—breads, desserts, meals and entrees and more. Gluten-free fan or not, this site is sure to impress. Check out all Gluten Freely has to offer here.

Webinar Use Grows for Food Ingredient Industry

If you’ve yet to host or sponsor a webinar—online presentations via the internet that you can listen to and view from the convenience of your own home or office—it’s about time you revisit the idea. The food industry is no stranger to the world of webinars, and many of the big hitters are taking advantage. For example, Food Business News, so far, has six to eight webinars planned for 2011, increasing that from three to five in previous years, and both Food Product Design and QSR Magazine webinars continually increase in number, year over year. Each webinar has a specific focus, geared toward helping companies improve in customers ranging from sales, to trend-awareness, to manufacturing tips.

Here is an assortment of recent webinars that we have attended:

“Whole Grains – A Winning Strategy for your Core Menu”
Sponsored by ConAgra Mills and hosted by QSR Magazine.

“Trends and Opportunities for New Sweeteners”
Hosted by Food Product Design.

“Growth & Opportunity in the Gluten-Free Market”
Sponsored by RC Fine Foods and hosted by Food Management and Restaurant Hospitality.

There is a great demand for webinars, as they are a cheaper and more convenient way of gathering information, and it could be just the thing to put you in contact with current, and possibly new, customers.

Facebook: The New Focus Group

pitapitIt’s no secret that focus groups are an effective approach to determining what your customers want, prefer and expect from your product/brand. They’ve been an important tool for many companies, for many years. But, although they can be effective, they’re not always cost-effective. If you don’t necessarily have the budget for a focus group, an alternative is to utilize your company’s Facebook page. For example, Pita Pit is a nationwide quick-service restaurant that is asking its Facebook fans to “Name That Pita.” The fans are encouraged to come up with names for its new, limited-time Prime Rib and Provolone Pita, and then vote on their favorite submissions. Like a focus group, this approach offers Pita Pit direct feedback from its target demographic, opening up conversation, while also engaging them and generating buzz and brand-loyalty. It’s customer feedback at a low cost; yet again, another fantastic perk to social media. Read more about Pita Pit’s contest here.

New Dietary Guidelines Bring Opportunity for Food Ingredient Companies

The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released in January 2011 and focused industry attention on the need for food manufacturers and food service operators to continue improving the health and nutritional profiles of their products to keep up with the new standards. Food ingredient marketers that sell ingredient products to these customers will have several opportunities to help their customers develop products that meet the goals of the new Guidelines.

  1. Reduced salt and sodium– Manufacturers are continuing to reduce sodium levels in their products and food ingredient marketers have the opportunity to create real value for customers with replacement products and solution systems that deliver lower sodium while maintaining taste and manufacturing efficiency. Successful sodium reduction products have focused on specific applications like bakery or processed meats where the emphasis is on the customer’s brand.
  2. Reduced sugars and sweeteners– Opportunities are abound for ingredient and flavor companies that can help customers develop new approaches to sweetening food and beverage products. The focus will be on applications that help customers improve their overall nutritional profiles while simplifying their labels and ingredient statements.
  3. Healthy school lunch programs– School food service providers will be highly motivated by new federal support programs that reward them for getting healthier products into their lunch menus and snack programs. Expect to see increasing use of stealth ingredients to meet the higher standards without telling the kids they are eating “healthy” foods.

Savvy food ingredient marketers and flavor companies are already expanding their product portfolios to take advantage of these new opportunities. Expect to see an increase in aggressive trade marketing as ingredient companies fight for the attention of the major food manufacturing and food service customers.

To read the specific recommendations in the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, click here.

 

Can Frito-Lay Soften the Complaints of Its Biodegradable Bags?

SunChips_0If you listen closely, you can almost hear the sounds of Frito-Lay’s new, revamped compostable SunChips bags hitting store shelves soon … or can you? In April of 2009, Frito-Lay introduced a biodegradable packaging concept with its brand of SunChips. And with the big vamp on going green, it was a “natural” move on their part. But after a huge out roar from consumers complaining about the loud and obnoxious noise made by the bags, Frito-Lay took them off of the shelves in an attempt to fix the problem. And now they’ve created what they believe to be the solution. The new bags will feature a rubbery adhesive between the two layers that make up the bag to help reduce the noise. This redesigned, still-biodegradable bag will be hitting shelves in a few months, so keep your ears open and listen for yourself.

Gluten-free: Trend or Fad?

In a February article on foodproductdesign.com, it appears the gluten-free food trend is still on the up-and-up. In fact, the sector is projected to grow to $6 billion by 2015. The article also suggests that this rise in popularity has to do with a few factors:

  1. An increase in diagnosis for Celiac Disease (CD)—In a medscape.com article dated July 2010, Mayo Clinic research confirmed CD diagnosis was up four-fold worldwide, thus dramatically increasing the number of people who were recommended a gluten-free diet for medical purposes.
  2. Evidence suggesting a gluten-free diet can relieve autism in children and adult rheumatoid arthritis—According to a webmd.com article, while very little research has been done, parents are incorporating a gluten-free diet and reporting improvements in their autistic children’s symptoms. And a study was conducted a couple of years ago by Arthritis Research & Therapy concluding a gluten-free diet helped reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  3. The belief that gluten-free is a “healthy” way of life—The gluten-free diet is something that a lot celebrities have been adapting, and is believed by many to help people lose weight. The ABC network did a special feature in November of 2010 on gluten-free as a health trend, highlighting both the positives and negatives of a gluten-free diet. Click here to check it out.

Not everyone is convinced the gluten-free trend will stick around. For example, Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides—a site devoted to tracking industry movements and its influence on food, flavor and health trends—believes that gluten-free followers who have chosen a gluten-free diet based on the belief that it is a healthier option are likely to stop purchasing and consuming gluten-free products—and she preditcs it will happen quickly. Read more here. Also, in a U.S. News Healtharticle, the gluten-free diet is believed to be “a cure for some” and “a fad for most.” Read the entire article here.

While it looks like the gluten-free trend is still alive and well, keep in mind that what you could be seeing is a fad. And, as we all know, fads die. And most often quickly.

Malt Products Corp. Pushes Malt as a Sweetener Alternative

A Bagel Without Malt

Much of the current discussion around sugar, centers on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) versus pure sugar—the similarities, the differences the benefits. But what about using malt as an alternative for sugar?

Here’s an ad I found in Milling & Baking News, advertising Malt Products Corp., that says a lot by saying very little. Their point? A “real,” more authentic bagel, has malt extract in it.

Further research on using malt, unveils:

  1. Malt can be substituted for or paired with HFCS or sugar and achieve the same taste.
  2. Malt is a healthier sweetener to add, as compared to sugar. Malt is 100% natural, making it a green extract. You essentially take whole grains and turn them into a sweetener.
  3. Using malt in whole grain applications mellows bitter taste.

There are definite obstacles to overcome, however, when utilizing malt. The biggest obstacle being price. Malt is a considerably more expensive sweetener alternative.

What do you think? Can the benefits outweigh the costs? Weigh in on the malt, sugar, HFCS debate.

 

Top 3 Trends at Research Chef Conference

RCA’s 2011 annual conference always attracts the leading food ingredient manufacturers and marketers who want to showcase their wares to the research and R&D chefs that are designing new foods for the major CPG and food service customer companies. It’s a great place to talk to the ingredient companies about the major trends and issues they are hearing about from their customers.

Here are three top trends I heard about from nearly every ingredient company I spoke with:

  1. Low-Sodium and Sodium-Replacement Products: Nearly every exhibitor at the Culinary Expo had some type of low-sodium or sodium-reduction ingredient or solution to offer. The focus has shifted to development of application-specific ingredients that perform in commercial scale operations. Customers are inundated with different ingredients and claims and want to know what will work with their products and processes.
  2. Customization for Customer Applications: The need to offer customizing services to fit specific customer needs in product development and manufacturing, seemed to be a consistent message from most of the ingredient companies. Customer companies are demanding more support from their suppliers and want resources and information that can help their products succeed. Engagement with R&D and marketing departments continue to be a key to long-term ingredient sales.
  3. Clean Label and Simple Ingredients: Ingredients that can help simplify product profiles and label statements continue to draw a lot of customer attention. Sugar and calorie reduction are also gaining more attention in new product development.

One other trend being talked about was gluten-free products. The pace of gluten-free new product introductions has slowed considerably, as many of the earlier product intros failed to gain broad consumer acceptance. Ingredient marketers say customer companies still ask about gluten-free, but disappointing sales volumes are slowing new development.

Chefs Samples and Brand Marketing Highlight RCA Culinary Expo

The food ingredient company booths at the 2011 RCA Culinary Expo in Atlanta offered some tasty treats and some terrific brand marketing from several of the industry’s leading ingredient manufacturers.

As always, a huge variety of foods and new product samples were upon offer, always a good reason to skip lunch. Most of the samples were demonstrations of how particular ingredients performed in different applications. National Starch had a delightful Georgia peach upside down cake made with its Ultra-Tex and N-Dulge branded ingredients.

The best sample at the show by far, was Garlic King’s Black Garlic Sauce. The Garlic King booth samples included whole black garlic that was smooth, sweet and full of garlic all at the same time.  The sauce was presented on small pieces carved from perfectly presented tenderloin. It all added up to be a great sampling experience and had myself and others coming back for more.

RCA 8

One of the best booth presentations with strong brand marketing was Tree Top’s “We Know Fruit.” The display featured beautiful, oversized food photography with standard logo and slogan designs.

There was no official on-site social media feed or display screens featuring online messaging similar to those at recent IFT and IBIE shows. However, several food ingredient companies used Twitter to promote their booth locations and sample offerings including Garlic KingTIC Gums and Integrative Flavors.

Research Chefs Have Fun with Food and Fish

RCA 3
The opening reception of the 2011 Research Chef’s Association conference was held inside the Georgia Aquarium. Corporate chefs, culinoligists, and patrons enjoyed the night amongst the Aquarium’s huge salt water tanks. The event was sponsored by Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings and ConAgra Mills. The sponsors and nine local Atlanta restaurants put on cooking demos and served small plates to a crowd of several hundred of the toughest food critics around. A few of the offerings were instant hits and seemed to echo many of the food and ingredient trends that highlighted the chef’s conversations.

Spicetec had fun with a play on popcorn shrimp, by combining tiny rock shrimp with fresh popcorn in an intriguingly textured pesto seasoning. ConAgra Mills Chef Stephen Hodge updated a 19th century southern classic and served chicken on a waffle with maple syrup. The waffles where a 9-grain whole wheat flour blend, and the chicken had a coating made from Ultragrain white whole wheat flour. The competing textures went together superbly for a very interesting treat. The local restaurants attracted a lot of attention as well. Two standouts were Rosebud, with pickled liver toast, and the Sweet Auburn Bread Company with a charming sweet potato cheesecake.

The most curious collision of culinary trends came together with King of Pops. A food cart business that posts daily cart locations on social media sites, the King of Pops makes artisan, hand-crafted popsicles on a stick that are an absolute explosion of flavors and styles. Two of the favorites seemed to be a fiery sweet mango habanero and a delightful chocolate sea salt for yet another low-sodium flavor blend. There was a line at the King of Pops cart all night long.

The RCA Annual Conference and Product Expo is a great source of information on the leading trends in food and food ingredients, as well as a chance to see many of the latest applications and newest product offerings. Look for our follow up blog posts on the top trends and the best marketing tactics at one of the most important culinary events of the year.

Tips for B2B Marketing on Social Media

 

Tips for B2B Marketing for Social Media

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Industry News – Anderson Partners Food Ingredient Marketing

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