Skip to main content

It's Time to Jam (and preserve)

Jams are going all-natural and healthy as consumers look for just-like-mom-made-it products

Jams have come a long way from the sugar-laden, peanut butter sidekick you remember from your youth. Consumers are turning to jams and preserves in an effort to save money and take advantage of an abundance of fruit flavours accessible long after the harvest season is over. Manufacturers, for their part, are responding with an array of all-natural, low-sugar options in the category.

Marion Chan, principal of Toronto-based TrendSpotter Consulting, says these products provide consumers with a bit of luxury during tough economic times. “They may not be able to treat themselves to a fancy meal very often, but they can buy a nice loaf of bread and a fancy jam and it will feel like a treat,” she says.

Jam sales are consistent over last year but preserves have gone up 113 per cent, according to the latest stats from Nielsen. Though most people don’t know the difference between the two products, they are at least paying attention to the packaging. Some 80 per cent of shoppers reported reading the label and trying to make healthier choices. “They’re looking for natural ingredients they recognize with little sugar or preservatives,” says Chan. “I’ve seen retailers go the way of having dietitians and food seminars in their stores to help educate customers on what to look for on labels.”

Some retailers are even making the products themselves. Emerie Brine, brand manager and chef at Jarden Branded Consumables Canada, says sales in canning products at his company are increasing by 12 to 15 per cent year over year. “Canning isn’t just a seasonal event; people are doing it all year long,” he says. The reasons? “A chance to relive the past the way grandma did it, support the local economy, reduce your carbon footprint and be absolutely sure of what you’re feeding your family,” says Brine.

Melissa Abbott, senior director, Culinary Insights at The Hartman Group, adds that retailers should be taking advantage of this burgeoning trend. “Have the canning products on display in the produce section rather than by the shelves of sugar,” she says. “Even having canning classes to boost interest and inspire consumers is a great opportunity.”


EXOTIC NEW FLAVOURS are taking jams and preserves well beyond their old role as toast toppers. Preserves combining fresh fruit and wine, like the Tishbi line, are being paired with cheese, meats and even desserts such as ice-cream. Some retailers  nd these products perfect add-ons to their cheese and meat counters, says Stacey Kurtz, vice-president of marketing for Fruit of the Land. Her Toronto-based company distributes Tishbi and other gourmet lines of jams and preserves. She says the greater exposure to new foods via the Food Network, the more customers are willing to try new  avours. “Pomegranate is still a big trend, but they’re also responding to mango, passion fruit and kiwi,” she says. “People are also travelling more and condiments are a fabulous way to bring the culture and flavours they’ve tasted in other parts of the world to their own table.” Trend watchers are also seeing a resurgence in a variety of berries. The evidence is in the  avour offerings from leading manufacturers such as J.M. Smucker Co., which has recently released products with blackberry-raspberry, seedless boysenberry and Northwood blueberry preserves. “Customers didn’t see these types of berries for a long time but now there’s been a revival,” says Melissa Abbott of the Hartman Group. “There’s certainly a more diverse set of flavours out there now.”

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds