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Jones Soda fighting tough times with new business plan

BY Melissa Valliant

SEATTLE Even the Jones’ are struggling to keep up these days.

Jones Soda will be eliminating 40 percent of its 110 employees this week in a plan to save $2.6 million annually. The 21-year-old company, known for its bottled, carbonated soft drinks and their unique flavors, recently announced a drastic drop in sales.

Last year proved a tough year as well, with an $11.6 million loss when founder Peter van Stolk led the company in an expansion plan that backfired. Jones Soda began producing canned sodas that were hoped to rival PepsiCo and Coca-Cola products.

Former Coca-Cola marketing executive Stephen Jones then replaced van Stolk with the initial strategy of increasing the number of distributors and increasing canned soda sales. This plan crashed and burned this year, and Jones now plans to revert back to the company’s original roots by focusing on selling the sodas at more independent delis and pizza places, cutting back on the canned soda initiative and reducing the amount of distributors. The company has even made a deal with independent graphic novel publisher Dark Horse Comics to add cartoon images to the soda bottle labels.

“Consumers are looking for variety, something unique in this huge market,” Gary Hemphill, managing director at the Beverage Marketing Corporation, said. “Growth in this industry is coming from the smaller niches of the market, where I would include Jones Soda.”

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HEB, Food Lion help families plan meals for $10

BY Jenna Duncan

SAN ANTONIO, Texas Studies have shown that more people are eating at home to save money, instead of going out to restaurants. To respond to the growing number of home-cooked meals, HEB and Food Lion have both launched a line of budget meals designed to save customers time and money.

HEB’s “Feed a family of four for less than $10” is a program running on HEB’s Web site and in an email newsletter that presents seven different meal plans to feed a family four for under $10 with its “Fully Cooked” as the centerpiece. Recipes include a fajita Santa Fe chicken dinner, popcorn chicken salad dinner, spaghetti and meatballs and Texas ranch burger entrees.

Similarly, Food Lion has launched a “dinner for under $10” program to help families budget meals. Help in planning on a budget can be found on Food Lion’s Web site as well as with in-store signs.

“Our customers recently could find in one place all the ingredients for a spaghetti dinner for four for under $10,” Gene Faller, Food Lion’s vice president of the dry category said. “The next featured meal was a chicken biscuit dinner for under $10.”

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Missouri Price Chopper stores, Homeland Food to become Apple Market stores

BY Jenna Duncan

ST. LOUIS, Mo. Three grocery stores in the St. Joseph area will convert to Apple Market stores, local reports have said. The changeover expands Apple Markets’ presence in the Missouri area.

Two Price Chopper stores and a Homeland Food store, all owned by Oklahoma-based Homeland Foods Acquisition, will transition to Apple Market stores. Apple Market is a part of the Associated Wholesale Grocers retailer-owner cooperative.

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