IGA's Red Oval Family of manufacturers and service providers deliver opportunities that independents and their shoppers normally would not have through offers and promotions, but they also further IGA's mission to aid independent retailers and help the IGA brand grow and thrive. That mission especially resonates when the Red Oval partner shares IGA's 100-year history and dedication to local farmers, as our newest partner Land O'Lakes does.
"We're excited to welcome Land O'Lakes to the IGA Red Oval Family," says IGA VP of Business Partnerships Heidi Huff. "As a cooperative made up of more than 1,700 dairy farmers, they know the value that independents' customers place on quality, especially in the dairy category, and can help our retailers give their shoppers the best."
Huff spoke to the Land O'Lakes team about the business' history and members, product innovations, why they're excited to work with IGA retailers, and how retailers can inspire shoppers.
What makes Land O'Lakes products different from your competitors?
When purchasing Land O'Lakes® products (and our associated Kozy Shack®, Alpine Lace®, and Vermont Creamery brands), retailers and consumers can be assured of their high quality. Founded in 1921, Land O’Lakes has been a leader in the dairy industry for over 100 years. Since the beginning, Land O’Lakes has been a farmer-owned cooperative, and our deep roots on the farm and close relationship with our farmer-members help us maintain our promise to continually deliver high-quality products. Our customers are important to us and we’re here to answer product, nutrition, baking, and cooking questions, either on the phone, email, social media, or live chat.
As an IGA Red Oval partner, we invite IGA retailers to visit our website www.landolakes.com, which offers thousands of recipes specially developed and tested by our Test Kitchens team. Share those recipes with your shoppers to inspire their home menus, and don't forget our Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram sites for more inspiration.
How is Land O'Lakes focusing on product innovations?
Land O'Lakes has provided high quality, delicious dairy products for 100 years, and new product innovation is at the core of its strategy to drive brand resonance with the next generation of consumers as it moves into its next century. Land O'Lakes’ dedicated innovation, market research, and product development teams work to uncover trends and identify needs in today’s dynamic marketplace, so that new product innovations deliver on consumer expectations in the future.
Recent innovations have been recognized internationally and generated excitement for their uniqueness in the category. The recent launch of Land O'Lakes Butter Spread with Seeds—Flax, Chia & Hemp won the World Dairy Innovation Award for Best New Butter/Dairy Spread product in 2021. Land O'Lakes will look to build on these successes in future product pipeline development work, and establish itself as the most innovative, differentiated brand in the dairy foods industry.
As we emerge from the pandemic, shopper behavior is changing a bit. How do you think that will affect your product sales, if at all, and what can retailers do to address those changes?
As the pandemic goes, so goes the shopper. When COVID cases increase, shoppers will revert to behavior learned and developed during the peak. And as cases decrease and states reduce restrictions, those behaviors are modified a bit. What we have seen as a result is more occasions/meals at home, which drove more time in the kitchen. Early on this drove consumers to discover, learn, bake, and cook new things. As the pandemic continued, consumers started to look again for conveniences, easier ways to prepare meals, and meals that more closely resembled the food they enjoy at restaurants in normal times. From a behavior standpoint, it certainly accelerated the eCommerce channel by years and a significant portion of the population will continue to procure food in this manner.
Why is the independent sector important for your business?
At Land O'Lakes, Inc., we are proud to be a farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative. We're more than 1,700 dairy farmers strong and from day one, we've believed in working together for the greater good. This takes a dedicated team of individuals with diverse ideas, perspectives, and backgrounds, which is not too different than our independent grocery customers. The independent sector also provides us a unique opportunity to reach customers throughout the country who rely on their local grocer for their families’ needs. We want to be able to support our consumers wherever they are located in the U.S.
How can our retailers ensure shoppers know they carry your brand?
Retailers can help bring brand awareness to the Land O’Lakes brands, especially butter, by featuring and displaying products during key holiday times throughout the year. Back to baking in the fall, Thanksgiving, and holiday baking are when customers look for Land O’Lakes Butter as an ingredient in their favorite family recipes.
How do you prioritize independent retailers to ensure they have equal access to your products?
At Land O’Lakes, we value the uniqueness and importance of our independent retailers. We have a dedicated team that manages these customers to ensure they know about our core products, as well as new, innovative items we are launching in the market.