Last updated on July 23rd, 2015 at 04:43 pm
The theme of the Federated Group’s 2015 Summer Buying Show July 19-21 was “Driving Success Through Winning Practices.”
According to Federated Group VP of Category Management Jen Linke, face time is among them.
“One of the best things about the show is people meeting face-to-face and that winning practice of human interaction,” Linke told The Shelby Report’s Geoff Welch. “We all get caught up in emails and even telephone calls are going by the wayside now. So here, taking even 15 minutes to meet with a supplier really is something that makes a huge difference, because you have a better connection with someone. Looking into someone’s eyes—it makes a difference.”
Among the speakers at the show, which was held in Chicago at The Drake Hotel, was Food Marketing Institute (FMI) VP of Private Brands Doug Baker.
“He spoke about changes that are going on in Washington and potential regulation changes for labels and food products,” Linke said. “That will impact every single one of our attendees here, whether they’re on the retailer side, wholesaler side or the supplier/manufacturer side of the business. It answered a lot of big questions that people have.”
The show was very busy, Linke said. She’d heard from suppliers talking about their new items and customers already picking them up.
“It’s really proof that the show works and proof that business is being done and there’s success coming out of that,” she said.
Also during the show, Federated Group announced the relaunch of its Seven Farms product line. Macaroni and cheese is the first of many organic items that will be part of the lineup. It was early in the morning when Linke spoke to The Shelby Report, and she’d already had suppliers interested in Seven Farms come to her about specific opportunities.
“We’re going to have canned vegetables that are going to be rolling out very soon, so organic canned vegetables—peas, corn, beans—that’s obviously going to be a big hit as well,” Linke said. “We know those are mainstays in the organic line.”
Most of the products in the line are organic, which is where the “farms” in the name originated, but the lineup will grow to encompass products that have other healthy and popular attributes, like gluten-free, “which is definitely something that people are aware of,” Linke said.
“It could be non-GMO project-verified. That’s something that’s very important to customers,” she said. “They want to know if their products are genetically modified. This is a brand that really communicates and is transparent in regard to all of those things. We’re excited about the launch.”
All told, there are 43 Seven Farms products in development. Some were available to order at the show, and others should be ready for orders beginning mid-August to September. Linke said another 70 items are close to development.
The Seven Farms line has been in the Federated family for a while, but its redesign was built around more recent trends in consumer demand, according to Charley Orwig, SailPointe Creative Group VP of marketing services. He called them the “seven pillars,” and in addition to organic, gluten-free and non-GMO, they include vegan, fair trade, no preservatives and no sugar added.
Orwig previously was with Kraft Foods for 14 years, both on the package design side and marketing as well.
“I grew up on the branded side of the business, and, while I’m relatively new to private label, I find the industry fascinating, and it’s been a great first year in the business,” Orwig said. “This show has been fantastic—very, very, busy.”
This was his first summer show as part of the Federated Group. SailPointe is a division within the group that provides design for all Federated brands and its managed-brand customers, and also works outside the group primarily in brand and packaging design.
“The design of the products themselves, the labels are intended to look more natural or recycled,” he said. “It’s a place where we hope to take them in the future, once the brand gets up to scale. The textures are printed and designed to look as if that were the type of packaging that we’re using on-shelf.”
Linke also is relatively new to Federated, having joined the company about 18 months ago.
“The people are just great to work with,” she said. “I’m hearing a lot of good things from suppliers about how ‘Federated is continuing to grow our business,’ and we’ve had a lot of success with some suppliers who have also shown growth with Federated this last year, and it’s been fun to celebrate that with them.”
Go here to see photos from the show.