April 21, 2017

Signs of spring, Central Park ~ April 2017

Spring has sprung and the signs of change are everywhere.
These days, it seems every morning is a wake up call.
Amazing things can happen overnight so it’s time to embrace, engage and explore.

Natural Products Expo West-Anaheim

This March we made our annual journey to Expo West. First on the agenda: to hear the key note from Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell’s. Years ago on the agency side I led the Campbell’s soup packaging design refresh, so I was curious to hear how one of America’s oldest food companies (148 years old, founded 1869) and most iconic brands would participate in a show becoming known for the new, stylish and breakthrough.
The tone was wise and studied:

We live in an interdependent world.

The future of food is complex and challenging.
 It’s being transformed by consumer’s search for well-being and sustainability.
It is and will be powered by technology.

The answer is strategic foresight.

She offered a genuine commitment to supporting entrepreneurs who have disrupted the industry and shared that the exec team has been participating for quite some time now (with acquisitions of Bolthouse Farms & Plum Organics in 2012-2013).
Campbell’s has worked with key influencers-academics, chefs, nutritionists, etc. to look ahead and imagine the future, thinking beyond brick and mortar partners to  e-commerce platforms to supply meal kits, recipe programs and more. Imagine…a connected kitchen that tracks inventory in your fridge and refills commodities! She called for a

“longer term focus on functional benefits” to support e ndurance, m ood enhancement and c ognitive function for a “Better Me” (tracked biometrically), all while making foods more clean (removing BPA’s from cans and embracing non-GMO) and making
organic food more accessible.

And 2016 saw two valuable partnerships with HABIT,  a startup started by the founder of PLUM offering personalized food recommendations (think of it as your personal nutritionist or coach) and more recently, with  The Soulfull Project,

a non-profit founded by former Campbell’s execs that gives a serving of hot cereal to regional food banks for every serving purchased.

With a vision of making good food accessible and in reach, Campbell’s aspires to be the biggest “small” food company, to not only make a profit, but also make a difference.

Seen here from PLUM, a cornerstone brand in Campbell’s future forward portfolio.

Other Observations from the Show

It’s Like …
Foods that look, feel and taste like the familiar standard, but reimagined with better- for-you ingredients, like milk made with proteins from yellow chick peas, monk fruit that tastes like sugar and a dairy-free alternative to Greek yogurt.
From terroir (now shorthanded as “plant based”) to merroir (spirulina and seaweed) what was once exotica is now becoming mainstream. We can now
eat and drink our way to beauty with:
edible insects
parsnip chips
chickpea snacks
jackfruit, monk fruit
and MORE

What’s next at Expo?

When I was in the Champagne business, we used to sponsor the Sundance Film Festival.
It started in 1978 and by the time I started attending in 1997, it morphed into something quite different than its insider, indie-vibe culture. I couldn’t help but think the same of Expo West this year. It’s inevitable the show would also explode and attract the big fish. “There’s a broader push by Big Food makers to place small bets on disruptive foodie startups at a time when consumers are increasingly interested in newer brands”. Campbell’s, Kellogg’s and General Mills have all set up venture capital arms as a way to participate. With 400 startups receiving $8BB in revenue, the future has never been brighter for entrepreneurs with big ideas and plans. Read more about this trend here: Fortune: Campbell’s Invests in Habit. 

And this is a wake-up call for traditional CPG companies, according to Forbes: Death of Brand Loyalty: “Maintaining ongoing connections between consumers and their brands is becoming less and less realistic. Instead, those companies must continue to transform their offerings to treat each and every purchase occasion as a victory.”

joyful plate is here to help

joyful plate is your strategic positioning and research partner for brands big and small- we help big brands stay relevant and help small and mid sized brands envision a path for growth.

joyful plate celebrates its seventh year in June.

We’re thrilled to have partnered with many wonderful companies in the space- big and small, food and wine, human and pet, U.S. and EU. Our mission today remains the same as when we started: sharing the joy that good food brings to our lives everyday. Stay tuned for what’s next: like any brand, it’s time to embrace, engage and explore all the magic that’s ahead.
Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime booth
Couldn’t resist stepping into one of the best displays at #naturalproducts 2017 #expowest!#anaheim my former client @celestialseasonings #sleepytimetea #adorable #photobooth#greatbranding @natprodexpo @celestialtea  #magicoftea #joyfulplate

Please contact us at michelle@joyfulplate to chat more. We’d love to spark some strategic insights and creativity into your business plans for 2017!

Ask us about how to quantify your opportunity in the natural space: joyful plate partners with NEXT Data & Insights: A Division of The New Hope Network: Proprietary data, intelligence and insights into what’s next in Natural.