Center Store Evolves to Meet Lifestyle Needs

Consumers flock to food made with wholesome goodness
Photograph: Shutterstock

Consumers have never been more educated about the ingredients and processing methods that go into the food they buy than they are now. They are increasingly making purchasing decisions only after reading the front and the back of product packaging. According to Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eatingreport, 29% of consumers say that when they want a way to eat healthier, they integrate at least one healthy item in their meal, and 64% of consumers say they are eating more food because of its specific nutritional benefits than they were two years ago.

This is creating new challenges for grocery retailers, who are facing center store sales growth struggles and are wondering how to keep the center store category relevant. The question then is: How can retailers revive center store and meet consumers’ healthy lifestyle and ingredient-based preferences?

The newer, emerging center store

A new generation of brands and subcategories are available to reinvigorate center store by appealing to consumers’ healthy lifestyles and ingredient-based preferences, such as gluten-free, no additives, non-GMO, high in protein, not heavily processed, organic, all-natural and more.

Beyond ingredient-based preferences, there is also terminology consumers associate with healthy food. According to Technomic’s Healthy Eating report, 59% of consumers say they perceive food and beverages labeled clean as slightly or much healthier, and 57% say the same about food and beverages that are labeled as real. 

There are a number of options that grocery retailers can stock shelves with in center store. These products offer more of the wholesome goodness consumers want, meet the ingredients and processing methods they desire and provide new eating experiences. Some of these products include:

  • Muir Glen, a line of 28 tomato products, is USDA-certified organic, non-GMO project verified, are processed from field to can in eight hours or less, have zero grams added sugar and are gluten-free. They are available in BPA-free lined cans in a variety of sizes. Muir Glen also offers nine pasta sauces that are USDA-certified organic, non-GMO project verified, have zero grams of added sugar and are available in 25.5-ounce glass jars. The brand also produces four salsas that are USDA-certified organic and non-GMO project verified and are available in 16-ounce jars.
  • Epic’s low carb Performance Bars, which are made of non-GMO ingredients and cage-free egg whites. Flavors include almond peanut butter chocolate, lemon, peanut butter and peanut butter chocolate. The bars are ideal snacks for athletes, adventurers and anyone seeking a healthful option. Each bar has 12 grams of protein.
  • Annie’s products source organically grown ingredients for its expansive line of center store items, such as cereals, soups, canned meats, snacks, mac and cheese, condiments, sauces, dressings, baking products, yogurt and frozen items.
  • Cascadian Farm offers 21 varieties of organic cereals and granolas and 15 different varieties of organic granola bars, as well as more than three dozen different organically grown frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • Liberte USA’s 10 organic whole milk yogurts are made with live, active cultures that add a layer of deep flavor that is punctuated with bold flavors of real fruit, and they include no added gelatins, sugar substitutes or preservatives. Some flavors include Nicaraguan coffee bean, sweet cream and Washington black cherry, as well as a rotating selection of limited-edition flavors.

Grocers are becoming more and more dedicated to offering products that suit consumers’ changing priorities. Products such as these and others that fit shoppers’ desire for clean, better-for-you food and beverages, are sure hot sellers in grocery stores.

This post is sponsored by General Mills