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Plant-based dairy categories represent 92 per cent of total sales of dairy within the chill, frozen and grocery channels and within this, coconut, almond, oat and cashew rank as the top sellers. And while oat and cashew rank third and fourth in the contributing share percentage of these products, oat and cashew-based dairy alternatives are exhibiting the highest average growth per SKU, in part because of their ability to mimic the creaminess of dairy milk.

These are just some of the insights from the UNFI Canada Innovation Conference and Showcase, held virtually June 17 and 18, which attracted 1,300 attendees. The event featured presentations on growing health and wellness trends for retailers, insights on changing consumer tastes and shopping patterns, discussions with suppliers and retailer Healthy Planet Canada, and a UNFI Canada leadership “fireside chat” with UNFI Canada president Stacey Kravitz, vice president of marketing and supplier services Melinda Zoccoli, vice president of sales Joanne Hillion, and national supplier relationship group manager Rachel Marshall.

As part of a presentation on trends, UNFI identified some growing product innovations. Among them new products and labelling call-outs on:

  • no-sugar added yogurts
  • paleo-friendly yogurts
  • dairy-free butters and soft cheese
  • certified vegan butter and soft cheese
  • made-in-the-U.S. options in mains and sides
  • soy-free callouts on plant-based cream cheese and sour cream (within the butter and soft cheese category)
  • artificial colour-free callouts in soap, liquid and bar categories
  • “free-from” gum, stabilizers or emulsifiers
  • labeled vegan options in the frozen fruit category

The two-day event included a virtual supplier exhibition of new and emerging products.

UNFI conference

 

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