"It was another success," said Nevin Montgomery, president of National Frozen Food Association here. "Sales were up 3.8% over the previous year, and we had greater participation by retailers than in the past."
Though there were 500 entries this year, which was about the same as last year, there were more retail entries and fewer brokerage entries this year because of the rash of mergers and acquisitions, according to Montgomery. Still, the large brokerage firms participated, and the quality of the entries was very high, Montgomery said.
ACNielsen statistics showed that even though sales were up from last March for the second consecutive year, unit volume was down by about 0.6%. The increase in dollar sales with a drop in unit sales can be attributed to consumers buying more higher-quality -- and higher-priced -- food, according to ACNielsen.
Frozen meat, pizza and seafood showed the highest sales increases, indicating a preference toward meal replacements. Other segments showing especially strong growth were pizza-based entrees and snacks, large-size prepared meals, cheese and bite-sized snacks, seafood stir fry, waffles, toaster pastries and grape juice.
Following are profiles of four companies whose NFFM promotions won a Golden Penguin award. The winners were announced on June 13.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Harris Teeter here earned its first Golden Penguin award by "getting back to basics," according to Kevin Pruitt, frozens buyer and merchandiser.
Although the chain has won three Silver Penguins, this year's aggressive promotions helped put it over the top.
For example, the chain provided brochures to the Mecklenburg County school system. The brochures were based on the National Frozen Food Association's promotional material on "Cool Food for Kids."
"Teachers used them as a classroom activity -- to talk about the benefits of frozen food," said Pruitt. The promotion reached about 60,000 kids.
The chain used five high-volume items in a buy-one, get-one-free offer during the first week of the month. The offer was promoted in a newspaper centerfold ad.
"It was the second largest week of the year, as far as cases shipped," noted Pruitt. "The only other week that was higher was Christmas."
The chain also held about three demos weekly in each store, for a total of about 400 demos during the month.
GILBERT, Ariz. -- Smith/Smitty's NFFM display transformed its frozen-food department into an underwater scene.
"We really got behind the frozen-food program," said Michael Hines, store director of the Smith/Smitty's (store 624), a member of the Southwest division of Smith's Food & Drug Centers, Salt Lake City.
The display was built by Linda Poppin and Sue Bruner, representatives from Co-Sales Co., Phoenix, the brokerage that received the Golden Penguin along with Smitty's. According to Hines, a "spectacular effect" was created by using the gold-domed ceiling that is the roof of the frozen-food department.
"We used two upright end cases and a 4-foot well case and decorated about 30 feet with underwater [props], such as octopus and fish," Bruner said. "We had a big sunken ship and a treasure chest filled with [empty] packages of frozen food and jewels." Fish were attached to a fishing net that was hung from the ceiling.
Smitty's promoted about 70 items throughout the month, using ads and its Fresh Value Program, a shoppers' discount card program, said Hines.
LIVONIA, Mich. -- For the second year, Foodland Distributors here, a division of Supervalu, Minneapolis, captured a Golden Penguin.
"We took last year's program and enhanced it," said Tom Bloome, senior buyer/merchandiser. "The big difference this year was that we ran a full-scale contest for store-level display and decoration and gave out some really good prizes to the stores that did the best job." The two first-place awards for employees were trips to Las Vegas.
Throughout the month, consumers could get a cents-off coupon book that was worth almost $70 in savings. Each coupon was also repeated once in weekly ads.
Foodland's promotion ran from Feb. 24 to March 31, during which a special section in store ads featured different items. A total of 66 items were promoted.
Foodland also continued its four-year-old tradition of tying its NFFM promotion in with the Detroit Zoo.
"We sponsor the penguin exhibit," Bloome explained. "The first year we helped renovate the building. This year, we donated $20,000 to the zoo. There's a big penguin exhibit, called the Penguinariam, and Foodland's name is on a plaque on the wall."
Foodland also used radio and television to promote NFFM, along with kids' coloring contests, a label redemption program offered to area schools, consumer contests and the retail display contest.
ELIZABETH, N.J. -- Wakefern Food Corp. here ran its NFFM promotion for six weeks, starting a week early, according to Laura McCafferty, spokeswoman for the chain.
"We had a retail display contest, and we sent out two direct-mail pieces to our customers," said McCafferty.
Wakefern ran half-price sales during the month. Its advertising incorporated the NFFM theme and logo.
"One innovative part of the program was organizing meal events in the ads and in-store," said McCafferty. She explained that ingredients advertised meal solutions included frozen food.
"We also had character visits, like the Klondike Bear, Pillsbury Doughboy and Green Giant Sprout," she continued.