Supermarket Perimeter: What are you excited about heading into winter?
Matt McMillin: December means fresh root. It’s harvest season in the world of horseradish, and winter is a great time to stock up on horseradish roots. We’ve seen an uptick in demand for our shrink-wrapped root. Around the June or July timeframe our shrink-wrap line gained momentum. It could point to more retailers looking for a retail-ready product, as it adds a modern packaging element to the root vegetable space. We’re excited because this packaging line goes hand in hand with our retailer marketing efforts. Shrink-wrapped horseradish might be our most “retail friendly” line of packaging because of its smooth wrap, PLU display, and private label options. J.R. Kelly Company is hoping this trend continues into 2022 and beyond.
SP: As COVID continues to cast a shadow, how have consumers' attitudes toward their health and using foods to boost health changed?
MM: Probably the most natural and common way to boost health is to move to a healthier diet. COVID brought health from the back of mind to the front. Whether we loved or hated thinking about health, COVID changed the game and made everyone consider it. It’s definitely changed some people’s mindset to be more thoughtful about what they put in their body.
SP: How do you get the word out to customers and consumers about the appeal and benefits of fresh horseradish?
MM: We get it —we know horseradish is a niche item. It looks and tastes different than most produce items on the shelves. Niche items are less well-known than the staples, so this year we’ve put much more of a focus on not just communicating with our wholesale customers, but also trying to dive a layer deeper by educating retailers on some of the talking points of horseradish. This additional layer just guarantees more eyes on horseradish information, giving it a better chance of reaching a wider range of consumers. Keep an eye out for more horseradish information, content, and recipe videos in 2022.
Matt McMillin is the business development specialist for Collinsville, Ill.-based J.R. Kelly Co., the country’s largest supplier of horseradish root.