Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market 'Bags' the Humble and Nutritious Plantain For A New Snack Chip Item

Private Brand Showcase

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is introducing a new bagged specialty snack food item under its fresh&easy private brand - fresh&easy Deliciously Crunchy Plantain Crisps - in its 168 fresh food and grocery stores in California, southern Nevada and Metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona.

The new all-natural bagged snack item (pictured at top) features roasted dried plantains, which are similar to bananas and used like potatoes throughout the world, including in South and Central America and Africa, in chip form, along with Sunflower Oil and salt. That's it.

Plantains, which originated in Southeast Asia, are highly nutritious and eaten steamed, cooked or as a snack in the mostly tropical regions throughout the world where they're considered a food staple. Due in large part to the many immigrants from Latin America in the U.S., along with creative chefs who've been featuring plantains for a few years now, more an more Americans have been discovering the plantain in its many forms as well.

The fresh&easy brand plantain snack crisps (chips essentially) are made without the use of any artificial preservatives, flavorings or colors.

In fact, the package designer, United Kingdom-based global design firm Pemberton and Whitefoord (P&W), intentionally plays up that message on the package in both graphic design form and by using this simple on-package message: "Our [fresh&easy brand] Plantains are roasted to crispy perfection then lightly salted for a snack that's not your typical chip."

The' not your typical chip' message is in reference to the many commercial brands of potato chips that contain artificial preservatives, flavors colors and other similar artificial ingredients, according to a spokesperson for the packaging design firm.

In terms of the inspiration for the package's graphic design, the P&W spokesperson says: "The hand-painted playful typography and exotic shades of green applied to a wood-textured background helped us to achieve a design suggestive of a tropical fruit stand. Offering this unique product in an appropriately skinny bag will hopefully peak the interest of consumers, and secure it’s spot as a highly marketable item.

"The unusual nature of plantain crisps required a novel design treatment that would differentiate it from more conventional snacking products, while giving strong provenance cues. We were really pleased with the solution, which is simple, original and eye catching. The structure of the design offers plenty of scope for range extensions if it is decided to expand into flavored SKUs."

Plantains, both fresh and in dried (roasted and not roasted) chip snacking form, have become increasingly popular in the U.S. over the last few years. For example, numerous specialty and ethnic supermarkets, along with natural foods stores now offer fresh plantains in produce. Ten years ago few did.

Additionally, dried plantain chips, along with dried banana chips, are available at numerous U.S. natural foods stores and supermarkets in bulk bins in the bulk foods department.

More recently, a number of branded food companies specializing in ethnic and natural food products have introduced packaged plantain chips similar to what Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is introducing with its fresh&easy private brand item on the market, offering the snack chips for sale in U.S. stores. A few brands have been available for many years at ethnic grocery stores, as well as from ethnic grocers that operate online grocery stores.

For example, the Samai brand offers seven different varieties of plantain snack chips in bags, ranging from its pacific sea salt and garlic flavored SKUs, to one it calls Jungle Chili.

Other packaged plantain snack chip brands include: Mariquitas, Chifles and Chippies. There are others.

Additionally, the Terra Chips brand, which is owned by Hain-Celestial, and is the brand that popularized alternatives to dried potato chips in the U.S. starting in the early 1990's, offers plantain chips in one of its mixed vegetable chip SKUs.

When it comes to private brand plantain chips, Tesco's Fresh & Easy isn't the first grocer to introduce such an item. Trader Joe's has had packaged plantain chips in its stores -Trader Joe's Roasted Plantain Chips - for at least a couple years.

What next? Cassava chips would be a 'natural'

In terms of new product development in the packaged snack foods category (often called salty snacks), If Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is looking for its next specialty snack chip item it might want to take a close look at coming out with a packaged dried cassava (also referred to as tapioca or yucca) chip item or two under its fresh&easy brand.

The cassava, which is similar to the plantain and like plantains has has more fiber and potassium than potatoes, is a mainstay in numerous African and South American diets. It's also gluten-free, which is a key selling point in the U.S.

Cassava chips are super-popular in Cuba and throughout South and Central America.

We recently tasted two brands of cassava chips, Joseph Banks brand and PAPA Cassava Chips, which are from Australia. Both companies, along with a couple others, were pitching the chips to American retailers at the Summer Fancy Food Show in June.

The Chifles' brand, mentioned earlier for its plantain chips, also offers a packaged cassava chip variety. Additionally, Terra Chips also mentioned earlier, includes cassava chips in its 'Exotic Harvest' mixed chip SKU. Lastly, Arico Natural Foods Company has introduced a multi-SKU line of bagged cassava chips, which is gaining placement in numerous grocery stores.

Recent Private Brand Showcase Stories

October 16, 2010: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's Private Brand Kids' Cereal Wins Bronze 'Pentaward' in 2010 Packaging Design Competition

October 9, 2010: 'Use Me': Should Reusable Packaging Be Part of Tesco's Sustainable Private Brand Offering? A Student-Designer Thinks So

September 27, 2010: First Items in Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's 'eatwell' Brand Frozen Foods Line Arriving in Store Freezer Cases This Week

September 4, 2010: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Unveils New fresh&easy 'goodness' Brand Items and Packaging

August 29, 2010: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Expanding its fresh&easy 'goodness' Co-Branded Line; Launching Numerous New Items

August 18, 2010: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Extending 'eatwell' Healthy Foods' Private Brand Into Dry Grocery Category

July 21, 2010: 'Sipsational' & 'Quenchtastic': Safeway Introduces New 21-Flavor Line of Soft Drinks Under 'refreshe' Private Brand

July 17, 2010: New Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market Clock-Shaped Private Brand Candy Line Hits the Shelves at Fresh & Easy

July 12, 2010: Tesco Launches Private Brand 'Lasagne Sandwich' in the UK Today...With No Apologies to The Earl of Sandwich

June 24, 2010: New Fresh & Easy Clock Logo-Shaped Candies Are A Pretty Sweet Idea

May 11, 2010: Tesco Might Want to Get 'fresh & naked' at 'fresh & easy'

April 2, 2010: Fresh & Easy's New 'EatWell' Healthier Fresh, Prepared Foods Brand to Hit Stores on April 7

April 11, 2010: When it Comes to Fresh, Prepared Foods, New York City's Duane Reade is Simply 'deLish' for Walgreens

February 22, 2010: Food, Drug Retailers With Stores in California, Nevada & Arizona Honored for Private Label-Store Brands' Excellence

May 18, 2009 piece - Strategy Session: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Needs to Move From its One Store Brand Fits All Strategy to A 'Three Brand' Store Brand Strategy

March 9, 2009: An English Village, A British Fresh Chicken Brand and Tesco Fresh & Easy's New 'Buxted' Discount Fresh Meat Brand: What Do All Three Have in Common?

[Private Brand Showcase is a regular feature of Fresh & Easy Buzz. In it we report on, write about and offer analysis on the fast-growing private or retailer brand (sometimes called private label) movement, along with featuring various private brand products being offered by Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, along with those of other grocers and retailers operating various types of formats.]

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