Bonduelle adds Canadian salad line with tech innovation

Plant-based food maker goes protein with new salads and seal technology.
Bonduelle Fresh Picked Greek Inspired Salad with Chicken

In a popular episode of The Simpsons, Bart and Homer mock Lisa’s foray into healthier living with an impromptu song and dance routine, “You don’t win friends with salad.” However, French multinational Bonduelle is hoping to win more friends north of the border with its new line of ready-to-eat salads tailored to Canuck taste buds, called Bonduelle’s Fresh Picked. The company is also touting its Fresh Air Seal technology, which it claims extends the shelf life of its salads to 15 days without preservatives.

Bonduelle products are sold in 100 countries under various brand names and distribution channels although domestically it is perhaps best known for producing frozen and canned food, both in the retail and the food service markets.

The company is promoting its new five-salad “Fresh Picked” line – which includes turkey, chicken bacon and ham options – in a 360 campaign (including TV) launching mid-May.

According to Priscila Stanton, VP of marketing, Bonduelle is taking a “reverse funnel” approach to marketing the line, which was actually available for purchase in Canada back in November, 2018.

Because the brand is not very well known in Canada, Bonduelle focused on POS and partnered with retailers through couponing and loyalty programs, says Stanton. Stanton tells strategy that its chief rival north of the border and one of the largest players for longer shelf life product is Fresh Attitude. Fresh Attitude, a Vegpro International brand, is a two-decade-old stalwart in the fresh salad and vegetable market in Canada.

According to Stanton, Bonduelle’s competitive advantage is two-fold: packaging and protein.

With packaging, she says its sealing proprietary technology extends shelf life so that consumers can buy 4-5 salads and have them ready for the week. The ability to “stock up” will be a key part of the brand’s messaging. But’s not just an issue of freshness, according to Stanton.
Stanton could not provide specifics, but says marketing campaigns will “demystify the technology behind bowls being able to last 15 days.” It’s a technology spearheaded by its Ready Pac brand, Stanton says.

She says that a second important factor is that Bonduelle’s salads, unlike competitor Fresh Attitude, have meat options.

“We stumbled on something that would differentiate ourselves in the marketplace” Stanton says, and she says that based on its insights, Bonduelle will be emphasizing its high-in-protein claims in the campaign.

According to Professor Sylvain Charlebois of Dalhousie’s Rowe School of Business, the ready-to-eat sector has shown tremendous year-over-year growth, over 10 percent, driven by younger demographics. Charlebois says what’s spurring single serve salad sales is the growing demand for fresh, high quality, nutritious plates. In the produce section, salads in particular, waste eats up a lot of products, he says: “The incentive for grocers is shelf life.”

When it comes to the competitive landscape, Charlebois says Loblaw will be pushing back with its President’s Choice salad brands.

Canadians are quite concerned about food safety, Charlebois says, with recent high-profile cases making the news. In February, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall of ready-to-eat Eat Smart kale salad in three provinces, amidst listeria concerns.

Charlebois adds that with vegetable prices on the rise, according to the latest CPI report, consumers may be swayed by “healthier” options that are perceived to be cheaper, fresher, and longer-lasting alternatives to at-home prep.

Bonduelle is working with lg2 to promote its brands in Canada, “to get a pulse on the Canadian market” according to Stanton, and also because of the agency’s ability to run campaigns in both official languages.

Consumers can find Bonduelle salads in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes at Loblaw and Zehrs stores, and Loblaw brand Provigo in Quebec, as well as discount grocer Maxi & Cie.