Kraft Heinz’s retail plans and priorities

The company's new VP of retail sales Peter Hall wants more "consumer-led innovation, not just brand extensions."
Peter Hall_2

Last month, Peter Hall was appointed VP of retail sales for Kraft Heinz Canada, replacing former VP of sales and food service Dan Lafrance. Hall most recently led the Kraft Heinz retail sales team in the U.K. He sat down with strategy to discuss the company’s Canadian plans and priorities for the year ahead.

What are Kraft Heinz’s priorities in Canadian retail today?

I guess it’s the same as any other supplier in any other market. We’re focused on growing the business. I think we’ve got to build long-term partnerships and we need to look more into the future in the way that we do that. We know that partnerships are critical, putting the consumer at the heart of everything we do is critical. Also, leading in innovation is something that we need to do – consumer-led innovation, not just brand extensions.

How would you describe your company’s retail strategy. Has it evolved?

As an organization we are very focused on the shopper, putting the shopper and the consumer at the heart of what we do. We are dialing that up. We continue to dial up on our innovation. It’s going to be about 8% of our business this year. We are determined to make that a core sustainable pillar of our organization going forward. We know we have to innovate. We know we have to keep moving the brands and moving the organization forward.

What are your innovation plans for Canada?

Looking at our innovation path for this year through to 2020, I’m really excited about what we’re bringing. Products that are on-trend, products that are meeting consumers’ needs and products that are enhancing what we already have. I can’t be more specific [than that]. However, we are launching (Seriously) Good Mayonnaise [from the U.K.] in 2018.

You were previously head of Kraft Heinz’s retail sales in the U.K. What challenges did you face there?

The online market in the U.K. is bigger and more advanced than it is here. You’re faced with a consumer that basically wants everything now. And that puts strains on our partners, on the food that we offer and how we bring it to [our customers]. We brought two or three big meaningful pieces of innovation that were very consumer-focused and that met key trends.

We saw a trend for reduced salt and sugar. So we launched Heinz No Sugar Added Beanz. Beans is one of the three core categories in the U.K. This brought 17% incrementality in the category, drove shoppers back who had previously left the category, and drove a reappraisal. The other one was Heinz (Seriously) Good Mayonnaise, which we tested with over 5,000 shoppers over an 18 month-period. We came in as a challenger brand and we left the year with a very strong share for a brand, at about 15-16%.

Canadian retailers have been stocking fewer Kraft Heinz products on their shelves. How are you dealing with that?

Retail space is always at a premium. [But] I’m in a very enviable position. We have some amazing brands within our portfolio here: Kraft Peanut Butter, Kraft Dinner, Heinz Ketchup. We know we need to work with our retail partners on our assortment and make our space and their space work harder. We will continue to do that. We pride ourselves on our analytical capabilities and how we use data. And that’s not going to change. We’re going to do that here. We need to keep up with what the consumer wants. If the shopper wants it, then we’ll be fine.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.