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    Makers of Dips, Dressings Highlight Health, Convenience, Flavor

    High-quality, clean ingredients rank high on consumers' check lists

    By Bridget Goldschmidt, Stagnito Business Information

    There’s no doubt about it: Americans are eating differently. Not only are many turning from traditional meals to snacks, but they’re choosing to fill up on more nutritious items, which they’d frequently prefer to eat on the go. But the products still have to taste great, too.

    The intersections of these trends are where manufacturers of refrigerated dips and dressings see opportunities to expand their segments, which are already looking up: refrigerated salad dressings’ dollar sales were up 6.1 percent, according to Nielsen figures for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 19, 2015, while those of refrigerated dips had grown 1.9 percent, after several years of flat to negative sales.

    “These days, consumers are looking for dips that are made with high-quality, clean ingredients, but still pack bold flavor combinations,” asserts Stephanie Robbins, director of brand development at Union City, Calif-based La Terra Fina, which offers various dips and quiches. “They want their dips to complement not only chips, but also a range of dippers like crackers, vegetables and fries, as well as sandwiches and wraps. We think this can be largely attributed to consumers’ busy lifestyles and the trend of healthy snacking over large sit-down meals. [Shoppers are] increasingly turning to versatile products that are both convenient and healthy.”

    Continues Robbins, “At La Terra Fina, we’ve always kept our consumers’ shifting lifestyles in mind — which is why our dips and spreads are made without artificial preservatives and we use only clean, recognizable ingredients.”

    Stacey Miller, senior brand manager at Sandpoint, Idaho-based dressing and dip maker Litehouse Foods, affirms, “Consumers are looking for healthier, cleaner foods for themselves and their families,” pointing to the explosive growth of organic products, led by fruit and vegetables, and shoppers’ rising interest in such other attributes as non-GMO and gluten-free. “As a company, we are moving towards providing natural-channel consumers with the healthy products they are looking for,” she adds, while noting, “The consumer’s appetite for new flavors continues to grow, and according to Packaged Facts, 53 percent of consumers are seeking bolder flavors.”

    None of this is news to Lynn Stachnick, brand manager at Taunton, Mass.-based Tribe, who observes that consumers, while seeking better nutrition and ease of preparation/ portability, “know they like regular hummus, so now they’re on the hunt for new, standout flavors to serve as their snacks. Exciting flavors are really driving the category.”

    Continuing Innovation

    Recently introduced products from all three companies strive to meet these consumer needs.

    “We’re seeing consumers looking for more ways to increase their plant-based food intake as well, so we have varieties such as Spinach, Artichoke & Parmesan Dip & Spread and Spinach & Kale Dip & Spread made with Greek yogurt,” says La Terra Fina’s Robbins. “Not only do our products offer a yummy way to enjoy more vegetables, but when you scoop with carrots, sweet peppers, cucumber, celery and the like, it’s a very satisfying eating experience with tons of veggies.”

    Another on-trend offering is the company’s segment-straddling Organic Ranch Dip & Dressing, introduced last year. “This is made with organic Greek yogurt and was created with our health-conscious consumers in mind,” explains Robbins. “We were very mindful that ‘healthful’ cannot be without deep, rich favors. With just 50 calories per serving, this new product offers naturally delicious flavor, coupled with the kind of ingredients and nutritionals consumers are demanding.”

    Litehouse, the top-selling refrigerated organic salad dressing brand, has been similarly busy in the realms of product and packaging innovation. For instance, the company recently refreshed its bottle design and launched two additions to its Organic Dressings & Vinaigrettes line. “The new look reflects the fresh goodness of the product and features the certifications that consumers are seeking: USDA Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified and Gluten-Free Certified,” notes Miller. “The new flavors, Rosemary Balsamic and Ginger with Honey, join the Litehouse Organics family of award-winning dressings made with care by its employee-owners.”

    Further, in answer to consumer demand for clean ingredients and transparency, Litehouse last year rolled out Green Garden, which Miller describes as “a line of wholesome, clean, refrigerated dressings that are Non-GMO Project Verified, USDA Certified Organic and Gluten-Free Certified.” The dressings feature USDA Certified Organic ingredients such as extra-virgin olive oil, pomegranate, lime and orange juice, and are seasoned with rosemary, cumin and hibiscus.

    What’s more, on the Greek yogurt front, the manufacturer expanded its successful OPA by Litehouse Greek Yogurt Dressings line to include the industry’s first pourable Greek yogurt-based dressing, and grew its Opadipity Greek Yogurt Dip line with three new options: Spicy Asiago Artichoke, Greek Olive and Cinnamon Swirl. “Since launching Opadipity in 2014, the dip quickly became a category leader,” notes Miller, citing IRI data that the brand “is responsible for fueling 48 percent of the veggie dip category growth in the U.S.”

    She adds: “Litehouse continues to innovate to meet consumers’ desires for innovative tastes, convenient packaging and healthy products.”

    Last summer, Tribe introduced Tribe Swirl, which Stachnick calls “a first-of-its kind hummus innovation that takes the topping out of the middle of the hummus and instead weaves it throughout the entire bowl. Having a product that is both bold in flavor and packaging has done really well for us. Tribe Swirl has been a great seller since it hit the market.”

    Also new from the company — as well as another segment mash-up — is Tribe Ranch Hummus. “Ranch is America’s most popular salad dressing, and since it has successfully moved from a salad dressing to a dip, we decided to add it to our lineup,” explains Stachnick. “Tribe Ranch Hummus blends the popular, herb-filled taste of ranch with the creamy texture of traditional hummus to create a smooth, dairy-free dip.”

    Overcoming Challenges

    By Bridget Goldschmidt, Stagnito Business Information
    • About Bridget Goldschmidt In addition to serving as Progressive Grocer’s Managing Editor, Bridget writes many print and digital features encompassing a range of grocery and fresh categories across the store. Bridget also enjoys on-site reporting assignments at such key industry events as the New York Fancy Food Show and the International Boston Seafood Show, in addition to visiting stores for PG’s prestigious Store of the Month feature. In her years with the magazine, she has developed into a knowledgeable voice on grocery industry trends, sought by such distinguished publications as The New York Times.

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