Since joining Kroger in late 2021 from Ahold Delhaize USA, De Paoli has been leading the company’s private label operations. He spoke with Store Brands about product development, and which flavors or categories are driving trends at the grocery store, citing Kroger’s 2022 Food Trends report.
De Paoli will be speaking at Store Brands' upcoming Industry Forum on Consumer Trends event on April 27. Click here to register.
Store Brands: Juan, since we last talked, congrats on your new role at Kroger. How have the first few months been going?
Juan De Paoli: Thank you. My first few months at Kroger have been exciting and full of learning opportunities. Our 2022 Food Trends Report created the perfect moment to jump right in with the Our Brands team and understand both tastes and trends that we foresee customers flocking to in the new year, and the products that we’re developing behind the scenes to meet those needs. I’ve been so impressed with the Kroger Our Brands team, they are truly an amazing group of well-versed, best-in-class innovators and merchants. The team does a tremendous job keeping its
pulse on what our customers want and how these trends will grow and adapt moving forward.
SB: Describe the process of how these trends predictions come about: the research involved, how the various Our Brands team members play a role, etc.?
JDP: It all starts with having a finger on the pulse of our customers’ wants. Our team brainstorms around the hottest sellers, and what our customers are sharing, talking and posting about. Add in a keen awareness of the food industry as a whole and our industry-leading customer insights, and you have a pretty good baseline for understanding consumer habits and predictions.
On top of that, our team digs through consumer polls, industry data, demographics, consumer behaviors, etc. to see how these habits are likely to evolve. It’s not just about seeing what is popular today, but also understanding your consumers and the industry well enough to see how that will transform tomorrow.
SB: Among all the trends listed, what are the biggest ones to impact the Our Brands program, in your opinion, in terms of types of products and the amount of products you’ll introduce?
JDP: We are especially excited about the PLANet-based foods trends. Consumers are not only being more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies and how it impacts the planet, but they are looking at plant-based foods for comfort, nostalgia and indulgence. That means we need to offer plant-based products that are just as good, if not better than their animal-based counterparts. Our partnership with Kipster is especially exciting. With this partnership, we’re bringing the world's first carbon-neutral, cage-free eggs to retail shelves in the U.S. They’ll
be a great addition to our already stellar lineup of planet-friendly products.