One can't pick up a food magazine or watch a cable food show without seeing the wonders of quinoa explored. Often it is paired with vegetables and now a clamshell pack of quinoa is available in some retail produce departments.
The Nunes Co. has licensed the "Foxy" brand to Mother Nature's Farm, a Little Falls, NJ-based company that markets grains to the supermarket industry. Under its sister company - Nature's Earthly Choice - the principals in the firm have been riding the quinoa sales boom for the past few years in center store.
"For the last several years, we have been marketing ancient grains under the Nature's Earthly Choice label in the specialty rice and grains department of center store," said Chuck Watson, president of both operations. "Now we are taking these grains to the produce department in a variety of options."
The company licensed the "Foxy" brand because it is a well-known brand in the produce department and has helped give the product instant credibility in supermarket produce divisions.
"It's a great brand with a terrific reputation," he said.
The original offering has four grains and three quinoa snack packs. The four grains - quinoa, flax seed, chia and wild rice -- are sold in 12-14 ounce clamshell containers. The snack packs are nine-ounce gusseted pouches in three flavors: original, honey almonds and blueberry. In addition, two of the grains - the quinoa and flax seed - are offered as organic versions as well.
Each of the packs feature a number of healthy items from the following list: quinoa, flax seed, chia, wild rice, hemp and oats. And of course, the two flavored snack include almonds and blueberries, respectively.
"These grains are often paired with fresh vegetables, so it seems natural to sell them in the produce department," said Watson. "It's a very complementary item. I think most consumers are eating vegetables with the quinoa and grains when they prepare them."
He rattled off a handful of stores in several regions of the country from California to New England that are currently marketing the quinoa lineup in their produce departments.
"I'd say it's about 50-50 right now," said Watson. "When I try to sell these packs into produce departments, I am getting about a 50 percent success rate. Most understand the connection but some don't quite see it. What we need to do is publicize some of our success stories. We have a number of retailers where they are doing quite well. In California, Lucky Stores and Save Mart are handling it in produce and here in the Northeast we have Price Chopper, A&P and Roche Bros. And we have also got them into at least one Albertson's division."
Watson said the line is moving through the approval process in several other chains with some first orders on the near horizon.
Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing for The Nunes Co., said that grower-shipper is very enthusiastic about this partnership.
"We are always looking at new opportunities to expand the 'Foxy' offerings for consumers," said Seeley. "The more we looked at and learned about the ancient grains category, the more we thought it was a very good fit with our other healthy products."
Additionally, Seeley said the opportunity to work with Watson was compelling.
"I've known Chuck Watson for 20 years and he has done a masterful job bringing new products to market," he said.
In 2014, Seeley said The Nunes Co. is anticipating doing some cross-promotions with Mother Nature's Farm tying in some fresh commodities with the ancient grain line.