My guess is that reserve San Francisco '49ers quarterback, Steve Young, invested a share of his new contract salary with his New England neighbors, Ben and Jerry's premium ice cream.
Who else but a confirmed chocolate chip cookie dough lover like Young, or maybe my son, Jared, would have thought to add cookie batter to ice cream?But "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough," not to be mistaken with the kind you bake, was the new flavor of the floor at the annual meetings of the Food Marketing Institute, Chicago. Ben and Jerry's environmentally conscious marketing direction must intend consumers conserve the energy required for baking the cookies by scooping up the dough in combination with vanilla ice cream.
The Food Marketing Institute show provided a format for more than 1,000 companies to exhibit grocery products, perishables, general merchandise, pharmacy products, equipment and supplies, services and data processing. More than 35,000 grocery retailers and wholesalers attended educational workshops and examined more than a million square feet of displays at McCormick Place.
Environmental awareness claimed attention of exhibitors who have flooded the grocery markets with "green" or environmentally friendly products and packaging.
H.J. Heinz covered its display floor with carpet manufactured using recycled "enviropet" ketchup bottles.
Contadina invited grocers to consider net fabric shopping bags, while Gaylord introduced a brown paper bag with handles.
Bob Bradshaw, Boon Edam Inc. of Murray, invited retailers to consider his energy conserving revolving door. The door system is popular in Europe where energy issues claim a high priority but is beginning to sell in this country.
"We have doors installed at the University Park Hotel and at Primary Children's Medical Center," Bradshaw explained, "but we are in the initial stages of marketing to the grocery industry."
Another Utah firm, Mrs. Fields Cookies, is hoping to tap the upscale deli concept in groceries with the addition of in-store licensed bakeries.
The bakery option is available in three concepts: a cookie shop, Mrs. Fields Express, cookies plus muffins, croissants and Danish or a complete bakery including specialty breads and bagels.
Norbest Turkey marketing vice president, Steven Jensen, used the convention floor to introduce two additions to the company product line: turkey breast steaks and turkey breast cutlets. Both products are processed and packaged in the Moroni, Sanpete County, plant.
"It's a great time to be in the turkey business," Jensen acknowledged. "Coming to F.M.I. gives us an opportunity to have personal
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contact with our large retail customers. We also get a peek into the food industry itself and see the new products and packaging. It's a fact-finding trip, but we're here to sell turkey."
And the samples of marinated turkey breast made the sale easier.
Easy identification of a product is critical to consumer recognition. That's why so many new products borrow a familiar brand name and extend the line with a new flavor.
Take the "Ultra Slim-Fast" line, for example. With only one product available in 1988, the fiber-filled shake, the company line mushroomed to more than 100 diet-related products in 1991.
Conagra's "Healthy Choice" line is another example of a successful single line expanded to cover a multitude of health-conscious prepared products.
Another trend evident in the floor displays was the increase in marketing directed toward children.
Familiar characters like Ninja Turtles cover cookies, lunch bucket dinners, crackers and snacks.
Melissa's, a specialty produce supplier from California, introduced a fresh pack, a handy lunch box containing a "healthful alternative to fast foods in a box."
The fastest growing segment of the grocery market is the focus on fat-free and fat-reduced products.
Haagen-Dazs, the long-recognized premium ice cream manufacturer, introduced a 96 percent fat-free frozen yogurt.
"Our challenge was to create the ultimate frozen yogurt eating experience," explained Ken Snider, vice president of research and development. "We had to guarantee consumers a yogurt with a superior, rich and creamy taste, one not compromised by artificial ingredients."
Kraft General Foods displayed a myriad of products covered with health-conscious labels.
Light or reduced-fat cheeses, salad dressing and mayonnaise shared booth space with Enten-mann's fat-free, cholesterol-free pastries and cakes.
Louis Rich, a division of KGF, introduced a turkey breakfast sausage link.
F.M.I. provides the wholesale and retail industry with an opportunity to fill its grocery cart with exciting new products and innovative technologies.