Any shelf is not the right shelf - SKUFood
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Any shelf is not the right shelf

Any shelf is not the right shelf

It is a lot of work to develop a product; you want to give it the best chance for success. It takes considerable time, resources and money to get a product to market. You want to give your products the best chance of success.

Unfortunately, there are many products that are introduced that never stay on the shelf. There are a variety of reasons. Two we see most often are the shelf is not the right shelf and the processor does not have enough money left for the sales and marketing program to drive demand and deliver sales.

Define the right shelf

When we say the right shelf there are a few factors you should consider:

Your target market

You should have a great definition of who is most likely to purchase your products. Are they shopping in this store?


It is great if you attend a trade show and a retailer wants to put your product in their store. Awesome but you need to cover this market with your sales and marketing tactics. If you have no presence and consumers are not aware of your product you need to really be confident you can drive awareness and create sales. If this is not realistic this is not the right shelf.

Store format

Retailers have different format stores to appeal to different segments of the market. If your product sells itself and delivers good value discount might be the best format where as if you need a person to cut it, package it or check short shelf life, then conventional stores and specialty stores might be your best options. Store format will also determine the margin your customer needs to make. This should be part of your consideration for finding the right shelf.


The reality is some retailers are better to work with than others. Brokers, distributors and other suppliers can help you decide which customers are the best to work with. This can include fees, complicated processes, flexibility and the opportunities they have for a business like yours.

You cannot determine all of these factors until you work directly with a retailer, but you can do your research to learn as much as possible.

The first choice might not be the right shelf

Some processors get excited to jump onto the first shelf they can find. If it is not the right shelf it can be a big challenge and drain your business of a lot of resources. Some indications it is not the right shelf:

Your sales estimate and the retailers sales estimate are not close.

You have to invest too much in discounts to generate the sales you need to stay on the shelf.

You are running into code date issues frequently which means your product is not selling through quickly enough.

Your customer is not giving you opportunities to promote your products and drive sales.

Prioritize the retailers

Once you have considered all of the options in the markets where you want to sell your products, we recommend you prioritize them. Make a list of the attributes and consider each customer. If you are struggling with prioritizing the list, you can use a weighted average where you assign a weight to different attributes.

Use your priority list to target the best opportunities. You might not always get on the shelf in your top 3 but you need to focus on them first. If you don’t succeed the first attempt circle back after a period of time. Category managers change and priorities change. If you know it is the right shelf you will need to be persistent and convince them you have the right plan to create demand and deliver sales.

It is great to get on the shelf; make sure it is the right shelf.


SKUFood Recipes for Success Podcast

We are super excited to announce we have launched our SKUFood Recipes for Success podcast. We have been working on this project for a while and it is finally ready to share with all of you. Our intention is to share the stories of food businesses and others in the value chain while also providing insights that are interesting and helpful to people in the food and beverage industry.

In this episode we are joined by Cheryl Donnelly, Senior Market Development Officer at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). With 14 years of experience in international affairs at AAFC, Cheryl has been instrumental in driving market development strategies and initiatives in regions such as the EU and the Middle East. Her expertise extends to leading the modernization of AAFC's Canada Brand Program, aimed at promoting Canadian agri-food and seafood products on the global stage.

Cheryl has a proven track record of success, having led e-commerce and digital marketing campaigns in Japan and Vietnam as part of launching the Canada Brand internationally. Currently, she's focused on the Indo-Pacific region, devising strategic approaches to help companies capitalize on export opportunities.

Join us as Cheryl shares her insights into export trade, market
development strategies, and the importance of the Canada Brand in promoting
Canadian products globally. Whether you're a seasoned exporter or new to
international trade, this episode offers valuable lessons and strategies for
success in the ever-expanding global market.

Listen and subscribe where ever you get your podcasts.

Where is Peter Speaking?

Perception is reality

When I worked at Loblaw Richard Currie was the president of the business for many of the years I was there. Believe it or not, we used to talk a lot about food inflation and Canadian prices, relative to the other countries. Yes the conversation has been going for many years. One thing he used to say after we debated the facts was ‘perception is reality’. If consumers think we have higher prices or Sobeys have better meat, that is what they think. We can stop talking internally about the facts and start making material change and talk to consumers about it.

Despite food inflation at retail starting to really slow down people still think it is too high. People are still blaming retailers.