In the shelf-stable food realm, dips and salsas have been mainstays as the category has grown. Basic mix-your-own dip kits have given way to ones with more unique flavors, while the variety of sweat-inducing salsas that have made their way onto the shelves in the independent gourmet housewares channel continue to thrive.
GOURMET INSIDER® recently spoke to Susan O’Brien, owner of Sacramento, CA-based The Kitchen Table; Tony Curtis-Wellings, owner of Faraday’s Kitchen Store located in Austin, TX; and Becky Moore, store manager of Murphy’s Department Store in Stillwater, OK, about what’s on-trend in the dips and salsas arena.
Local Brings Benefits: O’Brien said that she has seen rewards with locally made foods, including dips and salsas, while hosting in-store events.
“Many of the food producers are happy to come in and do tastings and talk about their products. I listen carefully so I can relay that information later when talking with customers about the products. I often ask producers if they can give me sample jars or bottles so that I can offer a taste if some-one is interested but on the fence or the flavor is unusual,” she explained.
Moore added that local dips and salsas have been top-sellers in the shelf-stable category, as each gives independent retailers an edge over local grocery and big box chains.
Bring The Heat: Moore noted that when it comes to salsas, customers have only one thing in mind — heat. “Products that are made with ingredients like ghost pepper are top-sellers,” said Moore. Additionally, she noted that unusual salsa blends are beginning to catch the eyes of her customers. She explained that unique fruit salsas that are also blended with an ingredient that adds heat have been selling well lately.
Make It Easy: When it comes to dips, especially mixes, Moore explained that customers tend to gravitate to those that have complex flavor but simple instructions and prep. She explained that most customers want to make an impression with their entertaining without having to spend too much time getting the food ready.
“We have dabbled in foods for decades and what has always remained true is complex flavor or intense flavor with minimal prep and ingredients. When we branch out from that, in regards to dips, the products tend to not turn as frequently because the typical customer purchasing these items likes the idea of gourmet and being a foodie, but isn’t necessarily looking to bring their culinary skills to the next level,” said Moore.
Merchandising Matters: Whether its dedicated displays or creative merchandising ideas, the way that the shelf-stable food is displayed is a factor when it comes to sales. Curtis-Wellings of Faraday’s Kitchen Store told Gourmet Insider that he recently began displaying food in a different manner — as part of an overall display which told a story to his customer. This, he said, made a difference in his bottom line as he was not only able to sell more food as part of a bundle, but he was able to save space by removing a dedicated food section and merchandising the goods interspersed with product.