Vitacress Real recently introduced a new herb brand for certain European food professionals - Vitalicious. In this interview, brand manager, Renée Peeters, tells us more. More about the new label's positioningn and about how the coronavirus is affecting herb sales. "With Vitalicious, we aim to get more value from herbs. That's in collaboration with food entrepreneurs and professionals."
"For Vitacress Real, the coronavirus's effect on herb sales meant growth in the retail channel. There was hoarding behavior in the lockdown's first weeks. That wasn't only positive for categories such as toilet paper and canned foods. A lot more people started cooking at home and making it fun. That positively affected our herb sales. However, COVID-19 did have a significant impact on our foodservice channel. That's where we saw sales drop," says Renée Peeters.
"Vitacress Real's idea was to put Vitalicious on the market as a label directed at the foodservice sector. That stemmed from the time when there was no coronavirus yet. Vitalicious was still 'in the making' when COVID-19 broke out. Nevertheless, it didn't stop us or make us postpone development. In fact, the coronavirus has a side effect."
"Healthy eating has become more important for many people. And herbs and spices as natural flavors, fit in perfectly with this trend. Food professionals are also working on it. We also didn't change the Vitalicious launch date of early September. We deliberately chose that time. It's the beginning of autumn and winter. People order more tea again," says the brand manager.
"Supply reliability is becoming an ever-bigger theme too. Availability in the winter has always been a greater challenge than in the summer season. That'll only become tougher, given the second COVID-19 wave. The first wave's experience shows we have consistent delivery reliability. Even when flights are limited or the harvest in certain European regions is disappointing. That's due to awful weather. Our cultivation network's breadth means we can always find and deliver a solution."
Herb concepts for the out-of-home market
"With Vitalicious, we're focusing on professional kitchens. These are in hotels, restaurants, cafés, and caterers. So, food professionals and food entrepreneurs are our direct target group. We serve them through, among other options, the wholesale channel. This fresh herb line is also specifically for that market," continues Renée.
"But this concept makes the Vitalicious brand visible to consumers, in front-of-house. They're the foodservice outlets' guests. Vitalicious is our brand for out-of-home consumption. Vitacress Real also supply herbs for home use. These are sold as a private label in supermarkets. We have organic herbs in our assortment too. Moreover, we are PlanetProof certified. That means our herbs are sustainably grown and packaged."
When asked if Vitacress Real intends to expand elsewhere in Europe, Peeters answers, "Foodservice is a completely different world than retail. We want to achieve targeted growth in the foodservice market. We've, therefore, designated the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany as focus countries. We've also set up a team for that purpose. But we haven't ruled out conquering the rest of Europe with Vitalicious in the future."
"Our goal, however, is to unlock the full potential of herbs. That's for the foodservice market in these three countries. To this end, we're creating concepts that allow us to get more value from fresh herbs. That's together with food professionals. These are herb concepts that are attended to from start to finish. For example, a youngster being able to serve a perfect cup of herbal tea or spicy cocktail. They do so by using a bar book with instructions," Renée concludes.
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