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Searching for a recipe for success, frozen food retailing topic of talk.

Searching For a Recipe For Success, Frozen Food Retailing Topic of Talk Spar AG's Kress calls for discontinuing slow-moving products to make more room for 'high-sales and high-profit' frozens. Better maintenance of supermarket freezer cases also emphasized.

The recent designation of Spar AG as in winner of the "Deep-freeze Chain '88" award provided the West German frozen food fraternity with a forum to discuss the current state of the industry as well as contemplate future prospects. The consensus was loud and clear about one thing: above average growth rates notwithstanding, the trade should guard against complacency. Indeed, increased visibility and public relations campaigns extolling the merits of FF should be targeted at all customer segments --industrial, retail, catering and institutional.

The problem of limited space alloted to frozens during a period of rapid new product introduction was addressed. To better deal with the situation, Karl-Peter Kress, director of the fresh goods department at Spar AG, said that failed items must be culled out at the wholesale level so increased emphasis can be placed on convenience foods. He recommended the elimination of non-frozen offerings that "gather dust on the shelves" in favor of cutting in more "high-sales and high-profit frozen items."

Kress's proposals are not the first in this vein. The Edeka cooperative inaugurated a program five years ago under the banner, "Edeka Activates the FF Sales Area." The campaign was designed to boost business by installing more frozen food cabinets and island cases in retail grocery stores, thus presenting a wider assortment of bulk-sized packages, cheaper brands, additional point of purchase sales promotions, and weekly specials.

One thing everyone agreed on was that success can be achieved only by close cooperation with associated industries. Heinz Jolie, Spar's marketing and distribution director, explained that his company's program to enlarge FF space was developed in conjunction with the producers.

But the efforts of the trade have yet to bear the anticipated fruits, there are obvious reasons for it. Most conspicuous are the tightly-organized home delivery services that are taking away sales from retail store operators and caterers. Kress openly admitted that for a long time the industry couldn't unite on any counter-measures to take against "meals on wheels".

Three years ago, mega-manufacturer Langnese-Iglo made an attempt to enter the home delivery field only to be greeted with more or less lackluster results. The experience suggests that in the future, the advances of established "meals on wheels" outfits like Eismann and Bofrost will be even more difficult to turn back.

However, the retail trade itself is guilty of placing barriers in the way of FF manufacturers. Crowded, ice-crusted, sloppily maintained freezer cabinets are among the most obvious roadblocks to effective merchandising. Also, there are the drawbacks of incomplete product offerings, lack of compliance with suggested stocking plans, and failure to pay enough attention to temperature control. The latter often leads to thawed goods that turn off potential customers.

One way to begin to deal with these persistent woes, it was suggested, is for supermarketers to charge specific employees with direct responsibility for the FF section.

Taking another tact, Kress urged that the concept of freezing for food preservation be de-emphasized. Instead, the notion of FF as fresh food should be brought into the foreground.

Manfred Sassen, German Deep-freeze Institute director, maintained that the industry as a whole remains hesitant in promoting the advantages of its products. "That applies to commercial advertisements," he said. "When they should be emphasizing that frozen vegetables are frozen fresh-picked, fish is frozen fresh-caught, and poultry is frozen fresh-slaughtered, it does so too coyly or not at all."
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Title Annotation:News from West Germany
Author:Muhlberger, Oskar
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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