GUADALUPE, Calif. — With three shredded-broccoli based products in its Eat Smart salad kit line, Apio Inc., is among the companies pushing consumer and retailer awareness of packaged salads beyond just leafy greens.
The kits — broccoli, Asian and chipotle –— also feature shredded carrots and cabbage plus dressings, and toppings that include dried cranberries, sliced almonds or cheese.
“We would consider them a vegetable salad with julienned broccoli,” said Cali Tanguay, director of marketing and technology at Guadalupe-based Apio. “This salad kit category offers a nice alternative to a traditional leafy green salad kit.”
“It’s a good way to get vegetables in your diet without steaming or adding another dish. Consumers are looking for new ways to eat vegetables.”
Eat Smart sales are up 67% in over last year and 54% by volume, Tanguay said.
With the arrival of chipotle salad kits at retail in September, it seemed natural to give the whole line a new look.
Brighter colors and more prominent ingredient lists appear on the broccoli, Asian and chipotle kits. Salad recipes are there, as is the traditional Eat Smart logo.
“We’ve updated the design for our salad kits primarily because they included some ingredients consumers were less aware of, that the prior design didn’t highlight as much,” said Tanguay.
The kit line came out in 12-ounce retail sizes in 2009. They’re also offered in larger sizes, mostly around 30 ounces, for club stores.
Apio, a subsidiary of Menlo Park, Calif.-based Landec Corp., chose the chipotle flavor based on restaurant trends.
“We added that in response to the flavor profiles going on with a lot of dishes people are eating away from home,” Tanguay said. “Dishes and recipes flavored with peppers are very popular.”
“We’re growing and expanding our offerings.” Tanguay said “In order to better serve our customers we’ve recently expanded our facility.”
The salad kits are part of a larger growth curve at Apio. Its facility in Guadalupe, Calif., has expanded in the last two years and totals 184,000 square feet.
“We’re growing and expanding our offerings,” Tanguay said. “To supply as many retailers as we now have requires elbow room.”
At Fresh Summit 2011, Apio introduced Fresh Gatherings trays that feature apples and grapes with dips. Vegetable products that have performed well in the last year include butternut squash and brussels sprouts.