Chris Van Parys, president of W. Lee Flowers, Kj’s/IGA, was elected CFIC’s 19th president at the…
The Pictsweet Company was named CFIC’s 2022 Supplier of the Year. CFIC president Tim Lowe presented the award at the 18th annual convention. An annual award, CFIC’s retail members nominate and select the outstanding supplier based upon excellence in innovation, customer service, and involvement with CFIC. The Pictsweet Company has been a supporter of CFIC for several years and their support of CFIC and retailers, especially during these difficult times, has been greatly appreciated.
CFIC reached out to Pictsweet to learn more about the company, trends, and innovation.
Tell us about the company’s history and legacy and how that shapes how the company does business today.
The Pictsweet Company is a fourth-generation family-owned frozen vegetable company. Headquartered in Bells, Tennessee, Pictsweet has been growing and distributing frozen vegetables since 1945 and is committed to providing wholesome, nutritious, and affordable vegetables for families throughout the United States.
What trends are you seeing in the marketplace?
People are definitely cooking at home more, and this “trend” appears to be a long-term shift in consumer behavior. The Pictsweet Company recognized the changes in consumer behavior well before the onset of COVID, and we have launched several categories new to Frozen Vegetables that align with how shoppers want to cook and eat at home. Beginning in 2018, we have introduced Pictsweet Farms Vegetables for Roasting, Vegetables for the Skillet, and Vegetables for Grilling. Our most recent introduction – Vegetables for the Air Fryer – is continuing the success of meeting these new consumer needs and driving incremental sales and households in the Frozen Vegetable category.
Out of all Pictsweet’s products which ones do you find to be most popular in the Carolinas? How does that compare with national trends?
Pictsweet Farms Southern Classics like Cut Okra, Breaded Okra, Field Peas with Snaps, Butter Beans and Lima Beans are all very popular in the Carolinas; our Farm Favorites Edamame, Vegetables for Roasting, and Vegetables for Grilling also are trending very well in the Carolinas, which is on par with national sales. We truly offer the widest variety of vegetables to meet the needs of the Carolinas’ broad consumer demographics and local preferences.
In terms of branding and promotions, what are some of the events Pictsweet may be planning for the Carolinas over the next 6-12 months?
Pictsweet enjoys connecting with customers on a local level which is why we will continue to utilize our retailer partners’ proven and effective marketing and advertising tools, especially to create new item awareness and impact trial and repeat purchase behavior.
Criteria for the CFIC Supplier of the Year include consistent and responsive customer service, and also innovation. Does Pictsweet have core principles that are integrated into your corporate culture to address these?
At Pictsweet, we maintain a strong focus on both our retail partners and the end consumer. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Pictsweet Company made a commitment to maintaining the highest service levels and fill-rates possible to ensure that our retail partners can satisfy their shoppers. During these times, Pictsweet also continued our focus on frozen vegetable innovation, which is essential to bringing new consumers into the category while increasing interest from existing shoppers. Pictsweet has been a leader in creating excitement in the frozen vegetable category with items that are both convenient and delicious, elevating the consumer cooking and eating experience.
As a long-standing member and supporter of CFIC, what would you say to other suppliers that are not involved with CFIC to encourage them to join and participate?
It is obvious that the retailers and wholesalers in the Carolinas support CFIC…and suppliers should want to participate in the programs and events that our customers and retail partners know to be valuable. Aside from CFIC promotional activities, the Convention itself makes it worth joining, and Pictsweet has enjoyed the opportunity to meet and interact with our customers in such an open and fun environment for many years.
What advice would you give to a young person interested in entering the retail food industry?
Employment in the retail food industry offers the satisfaction of knowing that you are providing a community service by helping to feed the Carolinas…and the world. The retail food industry offers unique and diverse opportunities for a young person to grow and succeed. Working on a farm or for a food producer offers great knowledge about growing, harvesting, and processing advancements, as well as experience in the constantly changing supply-chain environment. Working in a retail store or wholesaler distribution center reveals the other sides of the supply chain and provides experience in helping and interacting with consumers, which can be a training ground for developing customer service skills applicable to all professional and personal life experiences. It’s an important thing we all do…we help feed people.