Smucker venturing into new categories

by Monica Watrous
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Clean label and convenience are key trends driving innovation at Smucker.

 

BOSTON — J.M. Smucker Co. is poised to deliver on consumer demand for convenience, customization and clean labels. New products from the Orrville, Ohio-based company were developed on these key platforms.

“We anticipate launching a wide variety of new items this fiscal year that coincide with consumer demand for simple, natural ingredients, additional protein options, convenient snacking items and products providing sweet indulgence and flavor varieties or in some cases a combination of all the above,” said Richard Smucker, chief executive officer, during a Sept. 3 presentation at Barclays Back-to-School Consumer Conference in Boston. “We expect these efforts to continue our successful history of innovation. With a desire for this to play a greater role in achieving our growth objectives, we now target new products to contribute 2 percentage points of our annual sales growth, and we have exceeded this expectation the past several years.”

New Folgers Flavors liquid coffee enhancers allow consumers to customize their cup of joe.

In the coffee category, Smucker plans to build on its successful Dunkin’ Donuts line with two new roasts.

“We continue to see solid growth supported by our innovations efforts with Dunkin Donuts,” said Mark Smucker, president, U.S. retail coffee. “Overall volume was up 7% in fiscal 2014 and another 3% in the first quarter of this year. These results were partially driven by the Dunkin’ Donuts Bakery Series Coffee line launched last year, which continues to provide incremental sales for the brand.”

The company also is launching Folgers Flavors dosable liquid flavor enhancers for coffee, designed to meet consumer desire for convenience and personalization. Varieties include vanilla, hazelnut, caramel and mocha.

“What these products are, this first wave of products is essentially liquid sweetener and flavoring, so if you have a black cup of coffee you can make it hazelnut, whatever,” Mark Smucker said. “So, we obviously think there is a place for that. There isn’t a major brand in that space right now, and so although it’s not going to take over the category we clearly think there’s a nice little spot for that within our portfolio.”

Smucker is set to launch fruit preserves sweetened with honey, as demand for natural sweeteners intensifies.

 

Fruitful innovation

The clean label trend also is influencing innovation efforts at Smucker, which last year launched Smucker’s Natural Fruit Spreads and plans to add tart cherry and blackberry varieties this year.

“Looking ahead, we will be introducing fruit and honey fruit spreads, which we believe will resonate with consumers looking for alternative natural sweeteners,” said Paul Smucker Wagstaff, president, U.S. retail consumer foods. “Honey has shown the most growth among sweeteners with many consumers using it every day as a substitute for sugar.”

Smucker also looks to carry its flagship brand into new categories, as it did this year with the introduction of Smuckers Fruit-Fulls pouch products.

“Fruit pouches are projected to grow to a $300 million category by 2015, up significantly from about $1 million in 2009, reflecting consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for a wholesome snack that is convenient and shelf-stable,” Mr. Smucker Wagstaff said.

Jif To Go Dippers delivers on consumer desire for convenience and protein-rich snacks.

 

Getting nutty

In response to an increased focus on protein-rich snacking, Smucker recently debuted Jif To Go Dippers, which are portable peanut butter cups packaged with pretzels.

“While delivering on our objective to grow peanut butter beyond the traditional items, we are also participating in the fast-growing specialty nut butter category with Jif hazelnut spread, Jif almond and cashew butters,” Mr. Smucker Wagstaff said. “This category has shown significant growth with dollar sales increasing nearly 25% over the past year now exceeding $460 million.”

The recent acquisition of Sahale Snacks fits within Smucker’s strategy to expand in the category of what it calls “mindful snacking.” In August, the company agreed to buy the Seattle-based maker of nut and fruit mixes for an undisclosed amount.

“Combining our fruit and nut expertise with Sahale’s snack category knowledge will allow us to further develop this profitable business,” Mr. Smucker Wagstaff said. “We are excited to reach new consumers with the innovative gluten-free and non-G.M.O. products found within the Sahale portfolio and look forward to the future contributions from this line.”

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