How Clover Leaf is disrupting shelf stable seafood

From Shopper Marketing Report: New Bistro Bowl flavours aim to bring more full meals to an aisle full of fish-in-a-tin products.


Clover Leaf is swimming against the tide in the centre aisle, pushing its ready-to-eat Bistro Bowls as an affordable, healthy and filling lunch option.

The Clover Leaf shelf stable seafood sub-brand is emphasizing ease of prep in its messaging on shelf blades, promoting it as a quick meal solution for at home or on the go, while also calling out its 15 grams of protein and driving trial with a buy/save tearaway sheet.

Clover Leaf currently has three new Bistro Bowls in market: Mediterranean Pasta, Spanish Medley and Mexican Rice, and the shopper program is in 2,400 stores from now until July across key retail banners, says Rachelle Kennedy, senior director marketing, Canada and international markets at Bumble Bee Foods.

She tells strategy consumers are focused on finding sustainable healthy protein and shelf stable seafood and seafood more generally, delivers on that need.

“What’s more important is to help consumers understand what is already available,” Kennedy adds. The shopper program, she says, is about understanding and demystifying its offerings, which have a clean ingredient deck of tuna, water, sea salt, but also mixed vegetables, whole grain rice or pasta.

On pack, Kennedy says it’s got strong appetite appeal and attempts to convey to consumers that it’s a full balanced meal, something that’s amplified in supplemental messaging. It’s about inspiring usage occasions too, as people don’t necessarily think of a tuna in a salad or prepared meal as a feasible lunch options.

It’s also about reinforcing the health benefits, but also adding an element of culinary credentials – hence the “Bistro Bowl” name, an effort to convey it’s an alternative to a quick serve restaurant.

Portable and with a fork included, Bistro Bowl products cater to the convenience consumer. Also, refrigeration is not required before opening, even though it contains no preservatives and contains tuna that’s wild caught.

“Our key objective is to drive trial,” Kennedy says, while the broader masterbrand positioning is to bring out the seafood lover in everyone. It’s a handy and healthy innovation which provides the goodness of its lean protein and all the other healthful product elements.  To further drive trial, it’s also got an with digital couponing platform Checkout 51, which will continue throughout the year.

“We have high hopes for this innovation, so stay tuned,” Kennedy says, adding that lockdowns meant people were more reliant on eating at home meal occasions, and were more inspired to use things from their pantry they’d previously perhaps overlooked.

The brand partnered with Neptune and MetroSpot to create and roll out the shelf blades.

Shelf stable seafood is seeing other shakeups as well, with the likes of Scout Canning taking seafood out of centre store, and merchandising its premium offerings by the fresh department.