leaner and healthful protein-rich shelf-stable
snacks and meal replacements are poised to
make center store a destination for the well-ness-minded on-the-go shopper. But maximizing sales in the shelf-stable protein category may
hinge on strategic merchandising and multiple points of
At West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee stores, healthful protein snacking trends are changing the face of center
store, endcaps, checkout and more.
“With the trend of smaller meals and grazing continuing to rise, center store needed to follow the trend by
making more portable options,” says Hailey Boudreau,
a registered and licensed dietitian who works for Hy-Vee
East in Iowa City.
Boudreau says that nearly all shoppers have made
the move away from three squares to healthy snacking
throughout the day. But with the proliferation of pro-
tein-powered bars, cookies, chips, cakes, cups, kits,
drinks, bites and more, shopping for healthful snacks can
be overwhelming for some customers.
Hy-Vee dietitians such as Boudreau make sense of
the category and educate shoppers through store tours
and informative displays. “In-store signage and endcap
displays are great for providing education, but when a
customer is ;on a store tour with me;, they have my full
attention to ask any questions they have,” she says. “It
also gives us an opportunity to review their lifestyle and
day-to-day activities together, and brainstorm where and
when some of these products would be most appropriate.”
From oatmeal in a cup to protein-packed bars, desserts
and water, Hy-Vee has healthful, satisfying snacking cov-
ered. “I always promote eating both protein and ;ber,” she
says. “You feel fuller, longer with a combination of the two.”
Throughout Hy-Vee’s fresh departments, Boudreau con-
veys this nutritional message by calling attention to new
protein shelf-stable products near fruits and vegetables.
“Checkout aisles are known for their impulse snacks, so
whenever I can add a clip strip of nuts near the candy bars
or protein bites on top of the soda case, I will,” she says.
For customers looking to refuel after a workout, Boudreau further recommends looking at a product’s protein-to-carb ratio: “Although protein is important after working out, many bars and drinks have a great protein-to-carb
ratio, ideal for refueling.” In turn, she advises shoppers to
look for ; grams of carbs to ; gram of protein. “As a retail
dietitian, it’s important to have a plan for how you want
to promote these items that will lead to customer adoption and product sales,” she says. “Promoting some of my
favorites on store tours, pairing new items with already
sampled items and using signage to call attention to the
product are often in my plan.”
The market researchers at London-based Mintel continue
to see strong performance from the nearly ;;; billion salty-snacks market, of which meat snacks, popcorn and cheese
snacks are driving category growth. According to Mintel’s
March ;;;; U.S. Salty Snacks Market Report, nearly half of
consumers who read ingredient lists are seeking preservative-free meat snacks and grass-fed meat snacks.
“People want to know more about where their meat
comes from. They’re looking for grass-fed and grass-;n-ished, and they want to know how the animals are treated,”
says Matt Tolnick, founder and CEO of Lawless Jerky in
Santa Monica, Calif.
Lawless recently rebranded its line of jerky to emphasize the quality in the packaging. “We put ‘;;;; grass-fed
beef’ on the package. It stands for a healthier brand,” he
Tolnick sees the entire jerky category moving in a cleaner
direction. “Even legacy brands have cleaned up some of
their ingredients,” he says. “MSG, nitrates and corn syrup
Protein in a Pinch
Healthful shelf-stable products made with sought-after
ingredients are stealing the spotlight in center store.
By Jennifer Strailey