For many supermarkets on the West Coast and in the Southwest, Cinco de Mayo was an occasion this month to sponsor festivities while promoting Center Store items.
Although it isn't the most important date on the Hispanic-American calendar, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory over the French at Puebla on May 5, 1862 and symbolizes the end of European domination in Mexico.
Certified Grocers of California, Los Angeles, had 21 retailers and 130 stores officially participate in the Cinco de Mayo celebration, held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The extravaganza included an afternoon fiesta, complete with vendor booths, Mexican food and music by local talent. The day was topped off with an evening concert, performed by well-known Hispanic artists.
The stores promoted the brands on deal with displays, ads, demos and point-of-sale material, according to Chris del Rey, director of ethnic advertising, marketing and promotion for the California co-op. About 80,000 tickets to the Coliseum event, held on Sunday, May 4, were distributed to the stores, which then gave them away to customers.
Featured items, which are being displayed on endcaps, include Cheerios and Kellogg's cereals; General Mills La Pina flour; Mott's Clamato and Clamato Picante juices; Sun Vista and S&W canned beans and vegetables; Mazola corn oil; C & H cane sugar; Skippy peanut butter; Best Foods mayonnaise; La Costena jalepeno peppers; Jumex fruit nectars; and Ortega salsas and beans. Certified's private-label brand, Springfield, is also being promoted. Some of these products will be featured through May 23.
POS materials provided to the stores included 2-foot-by 3-foot window banners to flag items as official sponsors of the Coliseum celebration.
Food Markets Northwest, Seattle, which operates three independent Thriftway stores, celebrated the holiday with festivities that included demonstrations, cook-offs and a pinata party.
"We are demoing foods of Mexico and South America and demonstrating the influence Mexican food has had on the rest of the world," said Ilga Westberg, demonstration coordinator for the Thriftway units.
Festivities in all three stores culminated in a cook-off, in which customers were served Camerones Cinco de Mayo, a traditional Mexican dish of a shrimp-stuffed tortilla garnished with cilantro, garlic and olive oil.
A flamenco guitarist entertained customers amid daylong demonstrations and a feast of grilled prawns prepared at the store's permanent cooking kiosk.
Among the items demoed were a number of jarred salsas, including Coyote Cucina, Timpone's and eight kinds of Simple Time flavored salsas; Borders Margarita Mix (sans alcohol); and El Rey chocolate from Venezuela, which was also featured at the checkstands.
At both the Queen Anne Thriftway in Proctor, Washington, and the Admiral Thriftway in west Seattle, the major festivities and demonstrations were held on Saturday. Some Center Store items featured and tasted were Fior Fior olive oil, Abarra Cocoa, a number of salsas, including Southwest Specialties, Goya juices and Fran's chocolate.
The stores also brightened up endcaps used to feature the promoted products with the colors of the Mexican flag. Checkouts were also decorated, and demo stations were covered with tablecloths with Southwestern designs.
Whole Foods Market in Austin, Texas, also celebrated the holiday with a "huge" salsa sample program, according to Scott Price, grocery coordinator for the southwestern region. The retailer also sampled Garden of Eatin' chips and its own private-label brand.