Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 40

Deli: Cheese sampling
Post-COVID,
expect to see fewer
retailers offering
cheese samples on an
open board or tray for
consumers to grab.
the many ways in which cheese sampling is coming back.
Instead of the traditional table with a platter of cheese cubes with
toothpicks sticking out of them for consumers to grab, the Madison
store had a plastic screen over the table, and the deli clerk was handing
out the samples to consumers individually.
The cheese wasn't prepackaged, but that doesn't mean other retailers
won't go the prepackaged route, Richard said.
Raising awareness
Whenever sampling does come back on a large-scale basis, and
whatever forms it takes, can't come soon enough, Moran said.
" We believe sampling is an important component of creating
awareness and familiarity with specialty cheeses, " he said. " We continue
to hear from consumers that flavor is the number one attribute they
look for in specialty cheese. Consumers want to buy specialty cheeses
that taste great. "
The best way to introduce new cheeses, he said, is to give consumers
the opportunity to try it instore.
Richard agrees with Moran on the importance of instore sampling.
" It's still a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to
cheese, " he said.
BelGioioso works collaboratively with its retail partners to sample the
company's family of cheeses.
" We believe that those who try our cheeses, will buy our cheeses, "
Back, but different
Publix, Winn Dixie and The Fresh Market are among the retailers that
have started to provide cheese samples on request, said Michael Landis
of Michael Landis Food & Beverage Educational Services .
One cheese-related marketing go-to, however, has yet to make its
return post-pandemic, Landis said.
" I haven't seen the cheese domes out yet. "
And those retailers who are doing sampling, Landis said, have
adopted some different techniques. Many, for instance, are using cover
sampling cups with the cheeses inside them.
" I haven't seen any cheese handed over the counter. "
For retailers who haven't resumed sampling, Landis's message is
clear: what are you waiting for?
" We have run a safe sampling program for years in the stores and
there's no reason that we can't continue, " he said. " Our sanitation has
always been exceptional, as we are working with products that need to
be handled with the utmost care. So product sampling is already steps
ahead in customer safety. "
During the pandemic, the fate of instore cheese sampling was
comparable to that of salad bars, hot food bars and other self-serve
parts of the fresh perimeter, said Eric Richard, industry relations
coordinator for the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy Deli Bakery
Association (IDDBA).
And the bounce back from COVID, he said, is following a similar
pattern.
" Some have been open since last fall, others that have been under
stricter measures, often due to local food ordinances, still haven't, "
he said.
A retailer in Madison, where Richard lives, provides one example of
40 - AUGUST 2021
Moran said.
BelGioioso's roster of snack cheeses retained its popularity during the
pandemic, he added. Even with more people stuck at home and fewer
people " on the go, " the company found that consumers saw its snack
cheese as a wholesome and satisfying snack to eat between Zoom calls.
Much uncertainty surrounding cheese sampling remains, but IDDBA
believes the overall forecast is a positive one.
" There's a lot of factors, but we're definitely headed in the right
direction, " he said. " I think we're definitely getting back to where we
were pre-pandemic when it comes to sampling. "
One COVID-related change that will likely remain post-pandemic is
suppliers working with retailers to include sample-sized products free
with online orders.
" It's a great way of getting the product out there, and I think it's
something we'll continue to see, regardless of where we are with
vaccinations and with COVID in general. "
Another option some retailers may choose is to hold samplings
outside, which turns it into more of an " event, " Richard said.
" We haven't seen it in action but we've definitely heard of it, " he said.
Prepackaged is also a viable option, but Richard said that can be
difficult to do successfully because impulse sales are so important in
the instore cheese category. If you don't open the prepackaged product
until you've left the store, chances are you're not going to take the time
to go back in to buy it.
Even without sampling, Richard pointed out, cheese had a good year
in 2020. Retail sales totaled more than $22 billion last year, and more
than $8 billion of that came from deli sales - up 16.6% from 2019.
Much of that was due to stuck-at-home shoppers desperate to try
something new. Going forward, retailers won't be able to rely on that,
and sampling will again play a vital role in boosting instore sales.
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Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021

Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - Intro
Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 1
Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 2
Supermarket Perimeter - August 2021 - 3
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