Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery was recently able to talk to Natalie Hagstrom, general manager, cookies, Ferrara, about their recently portfolio expansion, as well as pandemic snacking.
Liz Parker: Why did Ferrara decide to expand its cookies portfolio in the specialty cookies category?
Natalie Hagstrom: We want cookies that delight consumers in all cookie segments—whether premium or mainstream. That’s why Ferrara—a related company of Ferrero Group—continues to pursue an ambitious growth agenda across its entire cookies portfolio and will be entering the specialty cookies category for the first time.
We are excited about the plans for Delacre and Royal Dansk, as these brands are filling a space in the U.S. cookies category with authentic premium European pastry cookie assortments and varieties of unmatched quality. As of April 1, Ferrara will be responsible for distributing the #1 French and Belgian Specialty Cookie brand, Delacre, to the U.S. market. Ferrara will also be responsible for distributing the iconic butter cookie brand, Royal Dansk, as it takes on a brand repositioning in the U.S. market. Both Delacre and Royal Dansk are unique specialty cookies crafted with quality ingredients and fine European baking artistry grounded in decades of tradition and expertise.
Delacre provides the opportunity to broaden consumers’ options in the specialty cookies category. As a brand traditionally known for its super premium assortments shared for gifting and social occasions, Delacre will expand its usage for everyday enjoyment by launching two new varieties: Tentation Chocolat Assortment and Marquisette single flavor carton. The Tentation Chocolat Assortment features a beautiful selection of seven of Delacre’s signature specialty cookies. The Marquisette includes delicate European pastry cookies with elegant contours and exquisite Belgian dark chocolate. These two new product launches will be supported by a National communications campaign to drive awareness and trial.
Royal Dansk, a classic holiday product for Americans for decades, will get a new product pack to better meet consumers’ everyday needs and new seasonal offerings. The new everyday carton packaging will not only feature updated graphics, but it will also emphasize the cookies in the iconic parchment cups to elevate the Danish heritage and highlight the quality ingredients on the front of the pack. This new addition will allow cookie lovers to enjoy the original Danish butter cookie they have enjoyed at the holidays in new packaging that fits perfectly into their everyday cookie eating rituals and routines. As Royal Dansk is repositioned as a premium import cookie here in the US, it will supported with investment in communications at a level highest in the brand’s history.
Ferrara foresees bright futures for both brands with strong product introductions and communications investments at work. With the addition of distributing these brands of specialty cookies to the company’s line-up, Ferrara has further diversified its portfolio of cookies in an effort to meet a variety of consumers’ desires.
LP: What is Ferrara’s long-term growth strategy?
NH: Our focus now is on driving growth across our entire cookie portfolio, which started with the Keebler brand refresh, and is now continuing with the new Delacre distribution and Royal Dansk brand reinvigoration. The goal is to leverage the power of both brands at the holidays and expand them to bring everyday enjoyment. We are excited to see how consumers respond to initial plans, and then we can explore long-term expansion plans for the specialty cookies portfolio.
LP: How does Ferrara define “everyday eating” or “everyday snacking”?
NH: It’s simple: we define it as snacks, or in this case cookies, that consumers can eat everyday as part of their lifestyles, versus only enjoying them during the holiday season.
Recent consumer focus groups showed that, yes, consumers love the classic Royal Dansk blue tin at the holidays for gifting/entertaining, but there is also a real desire for a smaller size in a box format for everyday eating. To meet those needs, we’re proud to be distributing a new 8oz everyday carton box.
In expanding Delacre usage for everyday enjoyment, Ferrara will support the launch of two new product packs: Tentation Chocolat Assortment and Marquisette single flavor carton. The Tentation assortment features a beautiful selection of seven of Delacre’s signature specialty cookies. The Marquisette includes delicate pastry cookies with elegant contours and exquisite Belgian dark chocolate.
LP: Has Ferrara noticed any COVID-19 trends in the cookie category?
NH: As Americans continue to find comfort in snack food as they spend time at home, the Ferrara cookie portfolio has flattened declines since the acquisition. Our recent investment in the Keebler business with our “Made with Real” promise, is showing strong results with 6 percent sales growth since March, so we look forward to continuing the momentum with the Royal Dansk brand revitalization and Delacre brand introduction.
Additionally, some notable insights from the category include that cookies can be found in 90 percent of U.S. households, so we know Americans pay close attention to their cookie selections. Additionally, the Cookie category is an impulsive one—54 percent of purchases are not planned, and taste is a top purchase driver because of that we need to stand out [on the] shelf.