Scope IV: How are you progressing in the United States? We asked Andrea Montana, CEO of Bonduelle Fresh Americas. The US has always been an important indicator of consumption. What happens abroad often also happens in Europe after some time. So let’s try to understand what the current trends are.
FreshPlaza (FP): What is the current state of fresh cut production in the US?
Andrea Montana (AM): In general, the current environment for the new classes is very positive. We’re seeing more consistent levels of service across the category than in the past. Also thanks to inflation, the power mobilized reached a four-year high in dollar terms, with +5% compared to LY in the past 13 weeks. Overall consumption decreased slightly (-4%) over the same period, with part of the growth due to year-on-year inflation. However, although consumption is slightly lower than last year, unit volume is still above 2019-2020 levels.
FP: What are the best selling products?
A.m: Over the past two years, we haven’t seen any major changes in our bestselling products, as major flavors have continued to dominate market share. Caesar, Santa Fe, Cobb, Chef. These four flavors still account for 71% of US salad sales over the past 13 weeks.
FP: Has the Fresh Cut market returned to pre-Covid levels?
A.m: We haven’t seen a significant decrease during the pandemic. Despite the initial two-to-three month decline, the category has been growing since May 2020.
Andrea Montana in a file photo
Magazine: Are consumers ‘wealthy’ or are they suffering as in Europe?
A.m: I don’t know if we are “rich,” but the data shows that there are two factors that influence how consumers want to spend their money. First, Covid continues to affect where consumers intend to spend, with Nielsen data indicating that a home lifestyle means less spending on experiences outside the home, such as dinners and events. The second factor is inflation. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real disposable income has declined since January 2022. As the cost of goods, from gasoline to groceries, rise, consumers are becoming more budget-conscious and planning to allocate more of their discretionary spending to these basic necessities. Over the next 12 months, consumers expect to spend more on groceries, utilities and basic bills around the home, while many report they will spend less on discretionary items and bargains on the go.
Foreign Policy Review: What strategies does Bonduelle Fresh Americas pursue?
A.m: We will continue to follow our path by focusing on long-term changes in consumer behavior, bringing meaningful innovations to new categories to meet unmet needs, and making sure consumers know what our brands stand for. One strategy is to anticipate consumers and continue to offer products that meet their needs as consumer behavior will change over the next 3-5 years. At the same time, we will continue to introduce innovations (such as new taste profiles) that are increasing class and that increase home penetration. For example, we relaunched our Ready Pac Bistro brand and introduced two new consumer-tested flavours. In addition, our new label demonstrates our commitments to health and sustainability more clearly.
Foreign Policy: In terms of environmental issues, what is your concern?
A.m: Perhaps most importantly: we know that consumers are concerned about the effects of climate change (66%) and we want companies to act responsibly towards the environment and society (65%). That is why we are working on becoming a certified B company by the end of this year. We want consumers to know that we are the answer to their needs for fresh, plant-rich foods that are healthier and more affordable, and that we positively impact people, food and the planet. And that our products are better for them and the planet.
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