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Cheerios’ reading program puts 5 million books on grocery shelves

BY Tara Smith

MINNEAPOLIS For the sixth year running, Cheerios is putting 5 million children’s books inside boxes of Cheerios cereal as part of its Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program, which kicked off Monday for National Children’s Book Week, Nov. 12-18.

The company is once again working with First Book, an award-winning children’s literacy non-profit, to give a year’s worth of children’s books to 50 reading programs serving disadvantaged children throughout the United States. Over the past six years, Cheerios, a General Mills company, has donated more than $2.5 million to support First Book.

This year’s book offering from Cheerios feature five titles from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing: “The New Girl … And Me” by Jacqui Robbins; “Everybody Needs a Rock” by Byrd Baylor; “Things that are most in the world by Judi Barrett”; “Do YOU Have a Hat?” by Eileen Spinelli; and “Jakers! Piggley’s Treasure Hunt” adapted by Catherine Lucas. “The New Girl . . . and Me” will be specially printed in both English and Spanish. The books are written for children ages 3 to 8.

One of the paperback books will be available inside each Cheerios cereal box marked “Spoonfuls of Stories,” which will be available on shelves until early spring 2008. The books are specially sized to fit inside the cereal boxes and feature original content and illustrations. Families can seek which book is inside the box through a special cut-out window so they can pick the book they want or collect all five titles. The boxes also will feature information on how to make an online donation to First Book.

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New beverage company gets celebrity spokeswoman

BY Allison Cerra

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Entertainment legend Chaka Khan has been named the celebrity face of a new health beverage.

Purple, the antioxidant beverage chock full of rich berries, will be launched in the winter of 2007.

Chaka Khan will serve as a spokeswoman for the company and work directly with The Purple Beverage Company to develop musical events that benefit The Chaka Khan Foundation and The Purple Beverage Company’s various charity initiatives.

The announcement coincides with an additional announcement: Khan’s debut in the Broadway musical “The Color Purple.”

Purple is available in health food stores, restaurants, delis, drug stores, supermarkets and convenience stores in select cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

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Marketers are predicting sales of low-salt foods will increase

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Food marketers believe that reducing the salt in their products will ultimately boost up to more sales.

With baby boomers reaching their 60s, BrandWeek reported, marketers are being lead to believe that consumers are becoming more health-conscious.

The report also suggests, however, that the changing tastes of consumers is being overlooked, citing that Datamonitor Productscan Online reported that only 4.1 percent of foods today are making low-sodium claims, up from 2.5 percent in 2002.

While the low-sodium category is a slow-growing one, some companies, such as Campbell’s Soup, have invested millions in their campaign to cut sodium content in its food and beverage categories.

“We are focusing on how to lower sodium across our entire portfolio,” said Juli Mandel Sloves, senior manager of nutrition and wellness at Campbell. “The soup sales have exceeded our expectations and have been incremental to sales of our base brands.”

Food and beverage maker Del Monte introduced organic products three years ago, which has improved sales of low-sodium items. The company has 25 low-sodium or no-salt-added products across its portfolio. “The low-sodium/no salt business is small, only about 5 percent of our sales, but it’s growing,” said Apu Mody, senior vice president of consumer products.

As an accompaniment with the rapid increase of low-sugar products (specifically, cereals) that premiered on store shelves three years ago, this glacial-paced market may have consumers saying they want one thing and actually crave something else. But naturally, only time (and sales) will tell.

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