Competition undermining B&G’s Rickland Orchards brand

by Keith Nunes
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PARSIPPANY – Launched in 2012 and acquired by B&G Foods in late 2013, the Rickland Orchards brand of nutrition bars and bites is struggling to gain traction in the marketplace. The brand recorded $7.1 million in sales during B&G Foods’ second quarter of fiscal 2014.

“This result is below our expectations,” said David Wenner, president and chief executive officer of B&G Foods, in a July 17 conference call with financial analysts. “The brand is having difficulty maintaining traction in retail distribution and has been underpriced by competition in warehouse club channels. We are working on new offerings and concepts for this brand to restore momentum in both channels.”

The Rickland Orchards business was launched in March 2012 and achieved sales exceeding $50 million by the time B&G Foods bought it in October 2013. Rickland had established a strong presence in the club, retail, mass and convenience channels, and differentiated itself by being a marketer of Greek-yogurt coated products, according to B&G Foods.

“We did a little over $15 million on that brand in the first half of the year,” said Bob Cantwell, chief financial officer for B&G Foods. “We expected that to be substantially higher.”

Mr. Wenner noted Rickland Orchards was not a “significant retail brand” with a lot of shelf space devoted to it when B&G bought it.

“But having said that, the shelf space it had is being challenged hard, and we are in some competitive categories, like the bars, where we're having to work hard to maintain our presence in supermarkets and places like that,” he said. “The brand was, by and large, a warehouse club brand and still is, but it's core product line, the yogurt bars, have been copied and underpriced significantly by others in the clubs, and that's put a dent in that business.

“Now, we've been innovating and going beyond those bars with things like trail mixes, and we believe that we can still do a good job with that brand and, if you will, create a posture around the brand that this is all about innovative snacking, on trend snacking with consumers, and especially quick to market and responsive to what warehouse club consumers want to see in terms of snacking. That's the role we see for the brand going forward right now. And to the extent we can build up the brand and get consumers used to the Rickland Orchards name, then you can successfully build a retail business as well.”
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