Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2009 - (Page 176)

RET AIL SUPPLIER Axium Foods This snack food manufacturer looks to grow both its own brands and private label products by bringing first-class, inexpensive products to the market. Quality and G et one foot in the door of a convenience store or supermarket, and it is easy to see just how massive the snack food market is in America. Axium Foods is looking to grow its stake in the market because the company believes today’s consumers are willing to put down the national brands in favor of snacks of equal or superior quality at a much better price. Based in South Beloit, Ill., Axium Foods is a division of McCleary Inc., which was founded in 1960. It is still a familyheld company and has been making snack foods primarily in the private label and co-pack business since it was founded. Value “In private labeling, our target customers are relatively well known and in a relatively small niche,” he said. “They are primarily the retail chains, some of which are represented by brokers and others by organizations like Topco Associates or Federated Group.” Often, working with retailers represented by an entity like Topco, which provides services like procurement, quality assurance, and packaging to retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice companies, allows Axium to end up working with several different constituents. For example, the company has a relationship with Hy-Vee, which is based out of Des Moines, Iowa, and has more than 225 retail stores located in seven Midwestern states. Topco represents Hy-Vee, and, as a result, Axium has a primary relationship with Hy-Vee, a secondary relationship with Topco, and a tertiary relationship with Damon, a private label food broker. By successfully serving all of the parties in relationships such as these, Axium secures the future of the relationship while enhancing its reputation in the industry overall. Whether the company is producing private label or branded products, the goal is to compete with the mega-brands by offering a comparable product at a better price. To do this, the products have to simulate the leading brand’s quality and produce a comparable, if not better, product than the leading brand offers. To stay on top of the market, Axium monitors the products and flavor varieties the leading brands are creating. Stokely said there aren’t many new corn-based snack offerings coming out from the category leaders, other than new flavors. Axium works with flavor houses to ensure it can match with new flavors. Stokely said Kerry Ingredients has been an important partner for Axium in that area. “When it comes to our R&D on new products, that is really more for our own branded products because private labelers really just want to emulate the national brands,” said Stokely. “With our own brands, we can push the envelope and experiment.” Providing choice The Axium division focuses entirely on corn-based snack foods. Private label business has accounted for the majority of Axium’s operations over the years. About 80% of its business today consists of private labeling. However, the company has ventured into the market with its own branded products at times as well. Successfully pushing out its own brands into the market would provide the security of diversification for the company while simultaneously giving consumers a reasonably priced, quality snack option. One Axium brand, Pajeda’s, offers tortilla chips and Cheetos-type snacks, but that isn’t the end of the line for Axium when it comes to its own branded products. “We’ve recently done a significant amount of consumer research, and we are on the cusp of releasing our new brand, Fiesta Crunch,” said Jerry Stokely, president. “We’d like to see our branded products eventually become closer to 50% of our overall business.” PROFILE Axium Foods Jerry Stokely, president HQ South Beloit, Ill. Services Manufactures private label and branded corn-based snacks For now, however, private labeling remains Axium’s bread and butter. The responsibility for establishing and maintaining relationships with private label partners lies with Axium’s sales force. Stokely said his sales team has been successful with private labeling because of its emphasis on constant contact and responsiveness to customer needs. Internal improvement Axium Foods has recently been investing in several areas to make the business more efficient and sustainable. It rebuilt and W W W. R E TA I L - M E R C H A N D I S E R . C O M R E TA I L M E R C H A N D I S E R http://WWW.RETAIL-MERCHANDISER.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2009

Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2009
News and Notes
The Look
Best Practices
Leading the Charge
Safe Advice
Brookshire Grocery Company
Scolari's Food and Drug
Top Star Express
Fantastic Sams
Dollar Giant Store
Richard's Foodporium
Ricker Oil Company
The Pantry
Urban Brands
Family Pharmacy
Adams Wholesale
Crest Foods
Fleming Oil Company
Wi-Not Stop
Pets United
One Way Furniture
Coca-Cola Company
Joester Loria Group
Beanstalk Group
Shandiz Natural Foods
Distant Lands Coffee
Henry's Foods
Plainville Farms
Chino Valley Ranchers
KC Store Fixtures
Mister Cookie Face
Office of Agricultural Affairs, Royal Thai Embassy
Mr Williams
Royal Buying Group
Federated Group
Azium Foods
Tasty Bite
New and Notable

Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2009