Shelf-stable foods continue to be a growing product category for many gourmet housewares stores, as the ever expanding selection of oils, barbecue sauces and rubs are providing additional sales opportunities and proving to be traffic drivers for independent retailers.
Leading this growth is olive oil, a product segment that continues to evolve in terms of flavor profiles and gain popularity with consumers.
“There are tons of unique flavor profiles coming out all of the time and it’s a great way for retailers to compete,” said KC Lapiana, owner of Pittsburgh-based In The Kitchen.
The trend is also drawing in new customers, Lapiana explained, as entire stores based around the good are popping up around the country. From creating designated shelf space to a small stand dedicated to olive oil refill programs, it is quickly becoming an offering that is worth an investment, she said.
Denise Lindbo, owner of Minot, ND-based Gourmet Chef, has both an olive oil and vinegar refill station in her store. While the first bottle is more expensive, refills are $9.99, which bring customers in more often, she noted. Additionally, she carries a few flavored oils her cooking instructors use, which help the offerings sell.
“After [the products]get used in one of our classes, they almost fly off the shelves,” she said. “It is really a great way to get people interested in the product.”
David and Mary Weldy, owners of Culinary Apple in Chelan, WA, have a robust, private-labeled olive oil and vinegar program that Dave Weldy said was gaining the store noticeable repeat business. However, Weldy explained that Culinary Apple takes the way the store employees sell the products up a notch.
“We have a lot of sampling and a lot of tasting going on here,” he said. “We display all of the olive oils and vinegars next to the cash wrap very nicely and we offer customers a taste with spoons and pieces of bread. We insist on that one-on-one contact because it forces the customer to be engaged.”
And that tactic is working. Weldy told GOURMET INSIDER® that customers usually buy two or three bottles of the oil or vinegar after sampling. The fact the goods are private-labeled and because Culinary Apple is in a vacation location, customers order online or by phone because they can’t find the oil anywhere else.
“The private-labeled program definitely helps because they can’t find us anywhere else,” he said. “So, people end up calling the store or ordering through the website from us.”
To find out what else is making gains in the shelf-stable category, see the July/August issue of GOURMET INSIDER®.