IGA's Red Oval Family brings together a wide range of manufacturers and service providers to aid IGA independent retailers and help the IGA brand grow and thrive. Today, we continue that over 30 year tradition as we welcome The Pictsweet Company to the IGA family as a Red Oval Partner.
"We're excited to welcome The Pictsweet Company, maker of Pictsweet Farms products, to the IGA Red Oval Family," says IGA Senior Director of Red Oval Partnerships Heidi Huff. "As a family-owned and family-run business for four generations, The Pictsweet Company is a perfect fit for IGA stores and shoppers, providing frozen vegetables picked from their own farms and other family-run farms."
Huff spoke to The Pictsweet Company's VP of Branded Sales, Chris Wilkerson, to learn more about The Pictsweet Company's local and family focus, product innovations, why they're excited to work with IGA retailers, and how they're helping stores and shoppers during COVID-19.
Can you tell our retailers what makes Pictsweet products different from your competitors?
We’re a frozen vegetable company—that’s all we do, which is unique in our category. We are a 75-year-old family-owned, fourth generation company, which also differentiates us. We’re able to offer more products than competitors, which means we can cover all of our consumers’ needs and preferences. We offer the broadest assortment of products in the Frozen Vegetable and Frozen Potato categories, from basic core items like Cut Corn and Green Beans, convenient recipe helpers like Seasoning Blend and Soup Mixes, Steam’ables, value-added items like Asparagus Spears and Edamame, to more regionally-relevant items like Lima Beans, Breaded Okra, Turnip Greens, and Blackeye Peas.
And, when we say “regionally-relevant,” we’re really talking about being “local.” It has always been important to us to grow on our own farms and work with family-owned farms across the U.S. to provide as many products as possible from here in the U.S. This fall, we’re committed to sourcing ALL of our Pictsweet Farms vegetables domestically, so look for the “100% Grown on American Soil” seal on Pictsweet Farms packages.
How is The Pictsweet Company focusing on product innovations?
Our company is committed to bringing new solutions to the category that truly resonate with consumers. We were the first frozen vegetable company to introduce “shelf ready packaging” (customized shelf trays) for in-store labor savings, better merchandising, and improved consumer satisfaction/shopability. Recently, we launched truly unique new products in the category, like the first-ever frozen vegetable products for roasting in the oven and cooking on the grill, and seasoned sweet potato fry varieties like Brown Sugar, Cinnamon & Honey, and Nashville Hot. All products deliver on consumer convenience, great taste, quality, and reduced waste. We place a high emphasis on discovering unmet needs and developing new products that truly help today’s consumer.
Why is the independent sector important for your business?
Independent grocers have always been a key part of our company’s history, and we really built our business with independent retailers throughout the southern U.S. As a family-owned and operated company since 1945—and being based in rural Bells, Tennessee with a population of just under 2,500 people—we know the challenges and share a lot of the same beliefs that many U.S. independent grocers have. In fact, the only full-service grocery store in our town is an independent, wholesaler-supplied store, and our employees rely on it. We value the independent retailer much more than our branded competitors; we always have, and always will.
What is The Pictsweet Company doing to help retailers and shoppers during the COVID-19 pandemic?
As a company, we have gone to great lengths to ensure our employees—and products—are safe during this time, as always. We have initiated extra levels of safety internally. In addition, given the strength of our supply chain, we have been able to increase our product supply greatly, which has helped our customers meet the strong demand for frozen vegetables—and the continued trend of cooking at home.
How do you plan to help IGA retailers increase their sales in the frozen vegetable category?
This may seem basic, but one of the most important parts of our plan is to have products available to ship to your wholesalers, so you can have product on the shelf for your shoppers. That’s not necessarily as easy as it sounds or should be, but you can’t increase sales revenue if you don’t have something to sell. As mentioned before, we’re a frozen vegetable company, truly working to get seeds in our ground to get products on your freezer shelf, and in your consumers’ baskets.
We’ve developed our brand’s broad product assortment in a lot of independents for many years, and we have some of our longest-standing relationships with independents in the country. They seem to feel like they have to fight harder to get their fair share, but they don’t feel that way with The Pictsweet Company. We’re in tune with the operators that are servicing the IGA stores; they are the lifeblood of where our brand began.