Smucker seeks growth with healthy innovation

by Monica Watrous
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Smucker introduced Pillsbury Purely Simple baking mixes this year, which contain no colors, preservatives or artificial flavors.

ORRVILLE, OHIO — In the fiscal year ahead, the J.M. Smucker Co. plans to launch more than 100 new products to meet consumer demand for simple ingredients, healthy snacks and convenience. Innovation has been a significant growth driver for the company, which said products introduced within the past three years contributed 7% of sales in fiscal 2015.

“… in every given year, it’s not about the number of new products that we want to launch; it’s about making sure that we launch the right new products,” said Mark Smucker, president of consumer and  natural foods, during a June 4 earnings call. “So some years we may choose to focus on fewer bigger ideas.”

Smucker is betting big on Folgers Perfect Measures, which are premeasured tablets of 100% roast and ground coffee with no additives. Scheduled to ship this summer to select markets, the product is positioned as a more convenient and sustainable solution for consumers who use traditional coffee machines.

“That’s a concept that we’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money in research and development,” said Steve Oakland, president of coffee and food service. “And we want to make sure that we get the right read on that. So the marketing spend, even though it’s a lead market launch, will be at national weight levels… It will ship this summer, and if we get the results that we’re hoping (for), we will roll it as quickly as we can.”

Snacking is another hotspot for the company, which is targeting the occasion across a number of platforms, from peanut butter to pet food.

“We now have a new line of Jif bars, which are actually outstanding,” said Richard Smucker, chief executive officer.  “So we’re pushing on all those areas … and healthy innovation is really key to us.”

Smucker's new line of Jif bars has helped the company grow in the snack category.

Like many other leading food manufacturers, Smucker has hopped on the clean label trend. This past year, the company introduced Pillsbury Purely Simple baking mixes, which contain no colors, preservatives or artificial flavors. Smucker also recently launched a line of fruit spreads sweetened with honey.

“So actually you see a lot of our innovations throughout being driven by better ingredients, simpler ingredients…” Mr. Oakland said. “And we’re trying to do that in our main line, too, and most of our main line, whether it’s coffee or peanut butter, are pretty good products for you. In fact, coffee has got a new halo, and the more coffee you drink, it’s better for your health, and we like to see those reports that come out and those medical studies.

“So we feel really good about our portfolio, and those products that we can improve in terms of simplifying ingredients, we are. But we’re pushing in those areas.”
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