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Monday, July 29, 2013

Worldy Snack Tracking: Brazilian Brigadeiros

Move over Parisian macarons and Pennsylvania Amish whoppie pies: Brazil’s beloved brigadeiro (pronounced bree-gah-day-ro) may be next in line as America’s latest sweet snack trend. A traditional treat at Brazilian social events, this humble confection is made with chocolate, condensed milk and butter that are slowly cooked down to a smooth, creamy consistency. Once cool, the chocolate is scooped into rounds and rolled in toppings such as chocolate or multi-colored sprinkles, nuts or coconut.

Brigadeiros boast the kind of simple recipe that makes it a family classic, sort of a cross between an easy fudge and chocolate truffles.  This confection, also well known in Spain, Chile and Portugal, is often enjoyed with a cup of coffee or paired with a glass of dessert wine.

These Brazilian sweets began hitting the CCD Innovation radar several years ago, spotted on media lists of top sweets and chocolates around the country, including Oprah’s blog in 2012. This year, they have been featured on the Cooking Channel’s Taste in Translation and as a Valentine’s treat on Epicurious’ blog.  With Brazil and its cuisine moving into the spotlight as the 2016 Olympics and World Cup host, this signature snack is ready for a global close-up.   

Brigadeiros became wildly popular after Eduardo Gomes, a Brazilian Air Force brigadier general, ran for president in 1945. His female campaign volunteers whipped up batches for fundraisers. The candy ended up being a bigger hit than the politician, in that Gomes lost the election; however, the treat took its name from his impressive rank, leaving him a confectionery if not presidential legacy.

In the continued economic doldrums, it's worth noting that brigadeiros sprang up as sweet snacks for hard times:  this trend took off during wartime shortages, when imports such as confections and nuts were scarce. During this same era, NestlĂ© introduced its cocoa powder and condensed milk into the country, setting the stage for the success of this simple bonbon that’s easy to make, easy on the budget, and easy to customize for adults or for kids will different roll-ons.
For more information on the recent Worldly Snacks: Culinary Trend Mapping Report from CCD Innovation and Packaged Facts, see

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Prune Juice Power

When defined in terms of overall dollar sales and volume consumption, the market for fruit juices and juice drinks has remained remarkably stable for years.  Packaged Facts estimates that between 2007 and 2012 dollar sales of fruit and vegetable juices and juice drinks barely budged, and that the volume of juices and juice drinks consumed by households hardly kept up with population growth.
Yet, underneath its apparently placid surface, the market for packaged juices and drinks has been roiled by undercurrents of constant change.  Traditional consumption patterns are dying on the vine as consumers continue to turn away from products such as frozen orange juice. 

As they reject the traditional, consumers are embracing new juices and juice drinks with wildly innovative forms and flavors.  Many of the products achieving the highest growth rates are riding trends driven by juice bars and smoothie chains, which quickly impact on the habits of health-focused juice consumers. 

As a result, the market for packaged fruit and vegetable juices has been upended.  No longer do consumers need to frequent juice bars or natural and specialty gourmet retail channels to find novel blends and flavors.  They only need to cruise the aisles and perimeter of their nearest supermarket to find cutting-edge products such as exotic blends of fruit juices, unexpected combinations of fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, coconut water, aloe vera juice, and juices made from a new exotic antioxidant-rich “superfruit.”

Even so, consumers still make room in their refrigerators and pantries for tried-and-true juices and juice drinks.  As Packaged Facts' Fruit and Vegetable Juices: U.S. Market Trends points out, despite the rush to create new and exciting flavors and textures for juices and juice drinks, many of the most old-fashioned flavors and products still have a hold on American consumers.  Apple is a juice flavor used most by 65 million households, and orange juice still reigns as king of the mass market. 

As might be expected, when it comes to traditional juice flavors, there are significant differences between the preferences of younger and older consumers.  For example, consumers 55 years old and over have a higher likelihood of preferring cranberry juice and cranberry juice blends, while consumers under the age of 35 are more likely to favor tropical, pineapple, lemonade, lemon/lime, grape, fruit punch and cherry flavors.

There is just one fruit juice flavor with the power to fully bridge generational boundaries.  Younger Millennials (those in the 18- to 24-year-old age group) are about as likely as those in the 65+ age group to say that prune is a juice flavor they use most. 
For more information on Fruit and Vegetable Juices: U.S. Market Trends (April 2013), please see

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Horsegate, Pink Slime, and the Locavore/Farmers Market Movement

Horsegate is the name given to the scandal currently rocking the global meat industry, in which horsemeat has been mixed in with beef in everything from prepared frozen meat dishes to packaged ground meat to the Swedish meatballs served up in Ikea furniture stores.
Horsemeat is not unhealthy and is eaten in many countries including Italy, France, and Belgium. But horsemeat intended for human consumption is only supposed to come from animals that have not been given certain chemicals thatcan be harmful to human health, especially the types of drugs used to euthanize horses.  But even if the horsemeat found so far in the foods in question came from horses that were drug free, there is still plenty of scandal simply on the basis of the mislabeling.

To date no horsemeat has turned up in the U.S. meat supply.  But we did have our own meat scandal in 2012 when the news media reported on the widespread use of lean finely textured beef (LFTB) as a filler in ground beef. LFTB had been approved by the Department of Agriculture a decade ago despite the use of ammonia to process the ingredient. While there are health organizations that disagree with the USDA as to the safety of that process, the real problem was the nickname given by meat inspectors to this legal ingredient: pink slime.  But as the news reports came out, that description alone was enough to turn off the public, leading many foodservice companies and retailers to drop the use of any ground beef that contained the filler and driving at least one LFTB manufacturer into bankruptcy.

So what do these scandals have to do with farmers markets and the locavore movement? Survey after survey indicates that consumers are increasingly concerned about the safety of the foods they eat, including meat and poultry. According to Packaged Facts survey data reported in our Meat and Poultry Trends in the U.S. report,  food safety/contamination is a major concern for nearly 60% of consumers when they buy fresh meat, poultry, or seafood.
And while many producers of meat and poultry are launching lines that stress their products were raised naturally, without the use of antibiotics or other chemicals, as well as under humane conditions, nearly half of the Packaged Facts Survey respondents indicated they simply don't trust a lot of the "natural" labeling.

These concerns have been a contributor to the growth of the locavore movement that has consumers seeking out foods and other products that come from local producers. There is no firm definition of what local means in this context, although some sources place a 100-mile limit to it.
While the movement has been motivated by environmental issues, food safety has also become a major motivator in buying locally and especially at farmers markets, where the farmer or rancher is standing across a table from you, able to answer your questions about how the meat or poultry you are purchasing was raised and perhaps even inviting you to come see for yourself.  For many consumers, knowing the producer as a neighbor, being able to meet him or her face-to-face and look them in the eye has a value that transcends an advertising claim on a package label. 

Some locally produced foods can be found in independent grocery stores, and even some chain supermarkets are promoting their locally grown sections. But farmers markets are the mainstay of the locavore movement. According to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the number of farmers markets in the U.S. has more than doubled over the past decade, from 3,137 in 2002 to 7,864 in 2012. The increase from 2011 to 2012 alone was nearly 10 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control has made it clear that foodborne illnesses have dropped dramatically in recent years thanks to the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act and the food industry’s positive response to the act. Nevertheless, large groups of American consumers--including many who were sideswiped by the financial system meltdown and resulting economic recession--are increasingly wary of large institutions, whether they be government bodies, banks, or corporations. It is not hard to imagine additional food safety scandals, however isolated from the bulk of our food supply, driving the further expansion of the locavore movement and the growth of farmers markets.

For information on our Meat and Poultry Trends in the U.S. (April 2003) report, please see

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Competition Thickens in Greek Yogurt

For years, the yogurt industry has made a splash with its advertising.

In the 1970s, Dannon ran its famous “In Soviet Georgia” commercials, sometimes credited with revolutionizing yogurt sales in the U.S.  In the commercials, an announcer would explain some variation of the following:  “In Soviet Georgia, there are two curious things about the people.  A large part of their diet is yogurt, and a large number of them live past 100.”  (One example from the campaign can be viewed here:  

Next came Yoplait’s introduction into the United States in the late 1970s, calling itself The Yogurt of France.  The two brands have fought for yogurt supremacy in the U.S. – and worldwide – ever since.

And without much of a challenge from anyone else.

Until late 2007.  That was when an upstart Greek yogurt brand Chobani first began appearing in stores.  At that time, Greek yogurt barely had a presence in the market.

Fast forward to the evening of February 5, 2012.  With a Greek yogurt craze in full swing in the U.S., Dannon decided that it had better signal its reaction on the biggest stage possible:  The Super Bowl telecast.  It launched “The Tease,”   a commercial starring John Stamos that is said to be the first yogurt commercial to air during the Super Bowl telecast.

And for the last year, while the market for Greek yogurt has continued to grow, reaching 35% of the overall yogurt market by the end of 2012, a period of frantic competition for share of voice and share of wallet has ensued.

For information on Packaged Facts' report on The Yogurt Market and Yogurt Innovation: Greek Yogurt and Beyond (March 2013), see

--George Puro

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why Profit Margins Are Trending In The Dairy Industry

What a better way to say goodbye to the chilly, wet spring that most of the country experienced than by jumping into June—Dairy Month—with some great research on profit margins.


As Americans become increasingly concerned about the negative health effects of certain foods or food ingredients, manufacturers are introducing a greater variety of healthier products. This includes lower-sugar flavored milks and reduced-fat cultured products.

This move has expanded profit margins throughout the food industry because health-conscious consumers are generally willing to pay more for food that they believe is healthy for them. (Think Greek yogurt.) In particular, large companies that have been providing Americans with foods for years have established brand loyalty, so when they introduce healthier, more-expensive products, they typically do not experience significant declines in demand for their products because people view them as high-quality brands, according to a recent industry report. As such, these companies can realize higher profit margins than companies that do not have well-established brands.

Food processors must purchase a variety of commodities, such as feed, corn, milk, wheat and sugar, to produce their goods. The prices of these commodities help determine how processors in a variety of food industries price their goods. So when the price of a commodity fluctuates rapidly from year to year, the cost of manufacturing products becomes volatile. (The dairy industry knows this very well.)

Volatility, in turn, leaves processors less able to anticipate cost increases. They will often pass these costs on to consumers in the form of higher product prices, or, as in the case of ice cream, by reducing package size. Although this move does not bode well for consumers, many will still pay the higher prices, or accept the smaller package, especially for foods that are staples in their diets. Processors end up benefiting because the higher input prices aren’t eating into their profit margins, while demand from consumers stays steady.

And here’s some good news on commodity prices. They are expected to be less volatile during the next five years, which presents even more opportunity for processors to expand their profit margins. Most notable is the price of corn, which is an input in all 10 of the most profitable food industries, one of which is ice cream.


Food processors aim to strike a balance between providing Americans with the food that they love at a reasonable price and maximizing company profitability. During the next five years, profit margins in these already-profitable food product industries are expected to expand as commodity prices become less volatile and operators cut costs associated with production. In addition, if prices do rise, they will be better able to pass off cost increases in the form of higher product prices to consumers because disposable incomes are improving in line with the economy.

In particular, larger and well-established companies produce brands that millions of Americans are familiar with and loyal to. Still, Americans will look to their favorite brands to introduce healthier food products as they strive to live healthier lives. Processors that introduce and advertise healthier products are likely to be rewarded with greater sales, thus benefiting margins further.

To get a full dose of Dairy, go to to learn about new featured dairy products every day. Read about our new Blog contributor, Donna Berry and see samples of her featured dairy products here. 

Minority Market Study Shows Consumer Optimism Despite Tough Economy

America is nothing if not a nation of resiliency. Our economy's dynamic convalescence during and after the recession has added to America's long, storied history of triumph amidst adversity. Consumer market studies echo that sentiment.

Nevertheless, we are not without mementos of leaner days that weren't even that long ago and that for some linger as daily obstacles. We at times cope with these persistent socio-economic challenges by therapeutically referring to them with feel-good phrases such as "the new normal". For retailers in the U.S., the realities of the new normal have them operating in a climate where unemployment is high (especially among minorities) and disposable income is lower for the average American family than in pre-recession years.

Though Facing An Unemployment Crisis, A Potent Consumer Demographic Remains

The high unemployment rate among African Americans has been at the epicenter of concern nationwide. In a market study from The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Economic Situation Summary for April 2013 reveals that the unemployment rate for African Americans is 13.2%. With the exception of teenagers, African Americans have a higher unemployment rate than any of the other "major work group" classified by the BLS, with a percentage almost equal to the combined unemployment rate of two other major minority groups: Hispanics (9.0%) and Asians (5.1%).

Though Obama's time as president hasn't yielded (for a variety of reasons) the fiscal and vocational utopia for African Americans that some envisioned, the demographic segment remains a potent part of the consumer landscape. Market research firm Nielsen estimates the buying power of African Americans will be $1.1 trillion by 2015, ahead of Nielsen's estimates for Asian consumers in 2015 and comparable to estimates made by market research firm Packaged Facts regarding the Hispanic community's present-day buying power. Considering that when African Americans spend, it is often on high quality, trendy, and brand name products, this demographic has the potential to be retail industry game-changers under the right circumstances.

Economic Optimism Still Strong

Consumer optimism is naturally an essential component to generating economy-boosting consumer spending. An upcoming market research report by Packaged Facts on African Americans reveals that compared to other consumers, African Americans are three times as likely to strongly agree that the economy will be significantly better off in the next 12 months--a positive sign for retail industry players.

Perhaps just as important, African Americans' optimism about the future is inexorably pinned on their continued support for the president. According an April 2013 article published by lifestyle website MademNoire, African Americans in general are confident about life and the economy under Obama. The article includes a poll indicating that 91% of African Americans view President Obama favorably, and 72% say that Obama's ascension to the White House has helped them compared to 4% who say the opposite. From a financial standpoint, the poll reveals that 30% of African Americans claim to be better off financially than they were four years ago, while 48% say their financial status is unchanged. Only 19% say they are worse off financially.

Regardless of our optimism or enthusiasm, we typically can't spend money that we don't have--especially with noticeable shifts we've witnessed in how consumers utilize forms of credit post-recession. The high unemployment rate among African Americans presents a disconcerting conundrum for retailers as the demographic's willingness to spend is tempered by the relative shortage of disposable income.

I may lack a soothsayer's clairvoyance, but I suspect that we will see a resurgence in employment figures that will help African Americans reach--and perhaps even surpass--their $1.1 trillion projected buying power.  The windfall is nigh. Smart marketers will continue to advertise to African Americans even in this economically bleak hour. Those who have money spend, and those who presently are on fixed or no income budgets will be eager to spend once their financial status improves--assuming they aren't already finding small luxuries to splurge on to retain some level of normalcy.

-- Daniel Granderson
   Market Research Analyst