Me and My Brand: Polly Davies of Florette

Polly Davies, Category Controller at Florette UK, talks to Asian Trader about the opportunities for the Florette leafy salad brand in the convenience channel, the growing shopper demand for salad and recent product developments.

Polly Davies

Can you please give an overview of your brand and its current performance?

We know that even the most enthusiastic salad eaters get stuck in a rut on occasion and make do with basic salads, which, whilst nice enough, aren’t exciting. They need help and inspiration to create food that they will love to eat – that’s where we come in!

Florette is the leading brand in the leafy prepared salads market (that’s salad sold in bags and bowls which is ready to eat), with over 7 million households buying our brand each year.

Already the No.1 brand in the UK’s £599 million leafy prepared salads market, Florette is going from strength to strength, encouraging shoppers to buy the brand more often (+5%). With our extensive range of products created to meet the variety of shopper needs, we are perfectly positioned to meet the growing demand for fresh, tasty, nutritious products.

How is the leafy salads market currently performing?

Leafy salads are well loved by UK consumers, with 8 in 10 UK households buying into the category. The category has performed well with +4% more packs sold so far this year, equating to an additional 5.6m packs of salad sold this year vs last year.

The impulse channel has outperformed the total market growth, with an impressive 13% more packs sold this year than last year, and this shows no signs of slowing as we step into summer.

The Leafy Salads category comes into its own in the summer months as consumers switch to lighter, fresher meal occasions and enjoy alfresco dining.

Tell us about your latest new product developments.

We’re continuing to inspire and motivate shoppers towards great-tasting, healthier food choices with the launch of our new Rainbow Crunchy bagged salad, which comprises a colourful crunchy assortment of leaves, including escarole and radicchio and vibrant crunchy vegetables such as carrot and candy striped beetroot. Not only does the product taste good, it does good too!

We launched Rainbow Crunchy in April with a charitable on-pack partnership, with Florette pledging a 2p donation to NHS Charities Together for every pack sold. We’re really proud to be able to support NHS Charities Together. Even without the extra challenges of COVID-19, the charity works tirelessly to make a big difference to millions of families when they need it most. As a nation, we’ve relied on the NHS more than ever before in the last 12 months, this partnership goes just a small way towards saying thank you.

What marketing support do you currently have for your brand?

Florette is being supported throughout 2021 with a £1 million marketing investment, including ATL press, digital and social and in-store shopper activation. Our new creative looks to inspire people to use salad more often.

How important are independent retailers to your brand?

Very! We sell around 67 million packs each year in the convenience channel, but we know many retailers look upon salads as a ‘nice to stock’, rather than a core offering, so are missing out on a major sales opportunity.

Eighty per cent of households buy leafy prepared salads across the total market, but reduced access to them in convenience has restricted that figure to just 20%. That still leaves room for significant growth. The size of the prize for independent retailers shouldn’t be under-estimated. The leafy prepared salads market in convenience is already worth over £75 million, with the market showing 10% year-on-year growth, significantly ahead of the total market.

By stocking a beacon brand like Florette, which is currently bought by one in four UK households, retailers are making a statement about their commitment to driving a fresh produce presence into their stores.

What trends are occurring in the sector?

Health is a key consideration and has been for some time, with a third of people saying they are looking to eating more fruit and veg to lead a healthier lifestyle. In spring and summer, consumers place more importance on a healthy diet and lifestyle, both from a seasonal perspective but also this year in light of the current pandemic. It’s an ideal time for convenience retailers to include bagged salads as part of a meal solution or cross category meal deal.

With the warm weather comes the great British BBQ, but long gone are the days when consumers are satisfied with just bangers and burgers! As BBQs are becoming more experimental, consumers are turning to fresh produce to add colour, texture and freshness to their plate – and that’s where brands like Florette come into their own. Offering Florette as part of a BBQ solution in store will pay dividends, with one in five BBQ occasions now including leafy salads, up 18% year-on-year.

There were a record 189.9 million barbecue meal occasions in 2020 and we predict 2021 will be as popular as consumers look for mini moments of celebration with their friends and families as lockdown eases. Leafy salad is a firm favourite in burgers or as a healthier side to add texture, freshness and colour to the BBQ plate so we have a lot of reasons to be cheerful.

What three words would you use to describe your brand?

Taste, Freshness, Inspiration.