SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Taste, freshness and creative marketing will drive consumers into the dairy aisles of savvy retailers, according to a panel of food experts at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's annual seminar and exposition here.
hat all consumers are striving for, and cutting back on fat is the most important thing on their 'to do' list, when it comes down to actual purchases, taste is still the primary consideration for choice," said Neu, speaking as moderator for a panel discussion entitled "Lighter Lifestyles = Heavier Shopping Bags."
Neu used the recent revival of butter consumption as an example of taste and performance preferences triumphing over low-fat considerations.
"Taste is really important, and price is No. 2, in many cases," concurred Linda West Eckhardt, a freelance writer and author of nine cookbooks.
"People will pay for good taste, they will pay for full flavor," Eckhardt said. "So it's important to show people the very best way to get that."
Retail dairy managers should not be afraid to promote full-fat items, agreed Pat Baird, a panelist who is a registered dietitian and cookbook author.
"I'm going to offer what may be a very surprising suggestion, coming from a registered dietitian," she said. "I suggest that you take your customers beyond no- and low-fat items, to full-flavored
and full-fat cheeses.
"The idea is that people tend to use less of these items, since they have such a strong, rich, intense flavor.
"Unfortunately, because of their high fat content, they're frequently one of the first items that gets dropped from the market list.
Baird added that merchandising should take into consideration opportunities offered by in-store demos.
Combining these health concerns with inventive meal ideas for tired, busy shoppers can spell success for the dairy department, said panelist Eckhardt. "While preparing for this presentation, I went to Albertson's in my home town in Oregon. In Albertson's, I couldn't help but notice all the people reading labels."
She said that shoppers were telling the dairy manager that "shopping for food is no fun any more" and asking questions like "Can I substitute nonfat cheese for regular cheese in this recipe?"
"I think as manager of a dairy department, you can really make this work for you. You can do things to attract kids."