A well edited chilled and frozen offering could help increase higher value sales and broaden your store’s appeal
Many smaller health food and wholefood stores wrestle with the question of whether to add a chilled or frozen section. Space is often seen as the biggest issue, with purchase and running costs second.
Those retailers who get beyond this stage will usually tell you that the investment pays dividends in increased sales – often of higher margin products – and by helping the store to appeal to a wider cross-section of consumers. A good chilled and frozen range will be especially welcomed by vegan and special diet customers.
Really small stores will struggle to find space but many will be able to liberate enough for one of the more modern, space-efficient chiller or freezer units on the market. That’s been the experience of Green & Pleasant Wholefoods in Leicester, which has just added a second chiller unit (and proudly posted a photo of it on its Facebook page!).
Broaden your appeal
Green & Pleasant’s Jack Mockford told us: “We’ve noticed that chilled foods attract a broader clientele. We particularly wanted to expand our range of vegan foods – tofu, meat substitutes and so on. And we wanted to include more organic and quality foods. We’re increasingly seen as good food shop, as opposed to a traditional wholefood shop. So we wanted to have a wider range of fresh pasta, Mediterranean foods, dips, local cheeses and things like coconut yoghurt – demand is growing for these types of food.
“In terms of space, we effectively made use of some dead space in the store – an area where we had been selling ethically made gifts. We decided to expand chilled rather than frozen mainly because you can experiment more easily with chilled – and turnover is quicker with chilled too.”
Grampian Health Store in Aberdeen has also just invested in a new chiller cabinet – and for a very specific reason. Co-founder and owner Callum Eddie explains: “We have a large chiller selling mainly food – Vegebites, the V-Bites range, Taifan tofu, Coyo and local eggs. But we realized there was an opportunity to grab some of the lunchtime trade, which we were missing out on. So the new chiller is mainly there to capture the food-to-go customer.”
Gary Trickett has just opened his third Healthy Route store in Derby (Leicester and Nottingham stores complete the ‘Trickett triangle’!). The two existing stores have done very well in recent years in chilled and frozen, and very soon his Derby store customers were coming in with requests for vegan, vegetarian and special diet foods – exactly where chilled and frozen excels.
Order and collect
But while the Derby store has a fairly tight shop floor selling space it does have storage space upstairs. And that is where Trickett has installed the freezer and chiller cabinets that enable him to offer his customers an ‘order and collect’ service for chilled and frozen. He explains how it works: “It’s pretty straightforward. We’ve created a list of products that customers can see and make a selection from. We order the products in and the wholesaler delivers on either a Tuesday or Friday, and we contact the customer to tell them the products are in.”
Trickett is convinced the opportunity offered by chilled and frozen will make running an order and collect scheme worthwhile. “Sales of these products are often being driven by the growing awareness of special dietary needs – gluten- and dairy-free and so on. What we’ve seen is that stocking a good range of the products can broaden the appeal of the shop and bring in new customers. Of course, it’s an area that the supermarkets have got into but they don’t offer the depth of range of speciality products that a good independent will have. And it’s a category where customers are quite particular. They’ll say, ‘actually, I want Swedish Glace’ – and if Sainsbury’s or Asda don’t stock it, or have delisted it, they’ll come to us.”
Premium price points
Lots of these products have relatively premium price points too, notes Trickett: “We are often talking about indulgent and luxury products where it’s as if price is no barrier – it’s a case of ‘I want that’! So you can find that you get some very useful sales. Take one of our big sellers, Shambhu mini cheesecakes. They’re between £3-4 a go. If someone is having a small event or party you can pick up a £25 sale very easily. But we also do well with vegetarian and vegan foods too – the Amy’s range and things like Violife vegan cheeses are really popular.
Handmade, dairy-free cheesecake in single portion sizes – what could be sweeter! Shambhu’s popular cheesecake range offers great taste and texture combinations and imaginative recipes. Our favourite: intense Lemon & Coconut.
Tideford’s organic soup range puts the emphasis on health and flavour. Full of delicious seasonal vegetables that provide a nutritious meal for any time of the day, they’re gluten- and wheat-free and low fat. Expect great recipes and a lovely fresh finish.
Let’s go loco
Made in a dedicated factory by an Edinburgh-based social enterprise, Engine Shed tofu products – wholesaled by Greencity – are proving to be a big hit north of the border.
Out of the blocks
Dairy-, lactose-, and gluten-free, Violife’s vegan cheese range come in blocks and slices and are available in 12 flavours.
Jolly good too
Jollyum is a luxury organic ice cream-style frozen dessert that is free from dairy, gluten and refined sugars. There are currently four flavours in the range: Double Chocolate, Maple & Pecan, Passion Fruit & Chocolate and Summer Strawberry, all available in 125ml and 500ml tub sizes.
Food Focus Listings
Tideford Organic Foods award winning soups and sauces are all gluten free and low salt with many recipes suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Their Spring/Summer range includes delicious Beetroot with Dill, a Pea & Mint and a Classic Gazpacho. All cooked like you would at home. No additives, No preservatives. Just the Good Stuff!
An independent, family-run business based in North Yorkshire, Jollyum is a new entrant into the luxury ice cream alternative market, making their delicious premium frozen dessert with creamy organic soya and the finest natural ingredients. Certified organic by the Soil Association, Jollyum is free from dairy, gluten and refined sugars. There are four yummy flavours in their range: Double Chocolate, Passion Fruit & Chocolate, Maple & Pecan and Summer Strawberry. Available in 500ml and 125ml tub sizes, Jollyum is distributed by Stratford Fine Foods and, as of July, Suma Wholefoods.
Plamil’s top selling egg-free mayonnaise is truly delicious. The smooth, light and creamy award winning mayos are great additions to any sun drenched meal but fortunately also taste great anywhere. There are plain, garlic, chilli, and tarragon with chives plus Organic plain and lemongrass varieties. Made to the highest vegan standards, Plamil combine ethics, environmental credentials and free-from, powering their factory on 100% renewable energy. Available from wholesalers and their online trade website at www.plamilfoods.co.uk.
Bute Island Foods is dedicated to making Vegan alternatives to dairy products. BIF produces many tasty flavours of Vegan hard “Sheese” including Mozzarella, Blue, Smoked, Strong & Red Cheddar Styles. Try the delicious Melty Cheddars – perfect for melting onto pizza, pasta or making wonderful “Sheese” toasties! The award winning Creamy Sheese comes in 6 mouth watering flavours including Cheddar Spread, Garlic & Herb and the new, exciting Spring Onion & Cracked Black Pepper. This Vegan range is Kosher certified, gluten free and lactose-free. So if you’re suffering from milk allergies – or just love animals – smile and say “Sheese!”
Bio-tiful Dairy’s organic cultured milk drinks – Kefir and Riazhenka – use the best of organic British milk and authentic, centuries-old recipes. The founder, Natasha Bowes, like everybody around her, grew up on these super healthy and delicious dairy drinks that were a core part of highly nutritious diet during her athletic past. But when she moved to the UK, she could not find any of proper taste and quality, so she created her own range – Bio-tiful Dairy. Deliciously natural, these drinks are full of essential vitamins and minerals, nutritionally balanced and indulgently light – live Bio-tifully!”