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Meijer rolls out new branded natural foods line

BY Allison Cerra

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Two years after introducing its successful organic line of products, Midwest grocer Meijer is set to unveil another health-focused brand that does not contain any artificial ingredients or additives.

Meijer Naturals, which will begin appearing on store shelves April 19, was created to provide a healthy and tasty alternative for customers who seek wholesome foods that are minimally processed and contain nothing artificial.

“Meijer Naturals is a natural fit for us, and a great fit for those who lead a smart and active lifestyle where healthy living and eating are paramount,” said Ralph Fischer, group VP foods at Meijer. “This is an exciting brand that we feel today’s shopper will embrace given that it’s delicious, wholesome and a great value.”

With 75 different items comprising its product lineup, Meijer Naturals is a sister brand to Meijer Organics.  Positioned as a natural alternative to processed mainstream products, the new brand will include everything from snacks and sauces to desserts and beverages.

This health-oriented brand contains no genetically modified organisms, no high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, no added hydrogenated oils or trans fats, no artificial food colorings or flavorings, and no artificial preservatives.

A sampling of some of the products that fall under the Meijer Naturals brand include Chocolate Chip Pancake Mix, White Cheddar Popcorn, Roasted & Salted Almonds, Ketchup, Apple Sauce, Pomegranate Juice, Triple Chocolate Chip & Key Lime White Chocolate Chip Cookies, Multi- Grain Crackers, Tomato Sauce and Corn & Bean Mild Salsa.

“We‘re committed to helping our customers and their families eat healthier, and Meijer Naturals is certainly a smart choice,” said Shari Steinbach, Healthy Living manager at Meijer. “Coupled with our Meijer Organics line, this new product furthers our reputation as the pre-eminent health and wellness brand among grocers.”

Meijer is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer that operates 185 supercenters throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky.

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PepsiCo sues Coca-Cola over new Powerade ion4 ads

BY Allison Cerra

MILWAUKEE PepsiCo Inc. has sued Coca-Cola over its new ad campaign for Powerade.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based company asked the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York on Monday to stop Coca-Cola’s campaign of Powerade. PepsiCo said the ads for Powerade ion4 are false in saying it’s the “complete” sports drink, better than Gatorade because that drink is missing two electrolytes — magnesium and calcium. The company said there was no evidence the new Powerade is better than Gatorade, and that the Coca-Cola-made drink has the extra electrolytes only in trace amounts.

Scott Williamson, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, said the company has to review the case before it can comment.

Gatorade, which PepsiCo acquired as part of its purchase of Quaker Oats Co. in 2001, is an important one for the company, said John Sicher, editor of the trade publication Beverage Digest.

PepsiCo, with brands like Mountain Dew and Pepsi-Cola, is the second-biggest soft drink maker behind Coca-Cola. But in the sports drink category, Sicher said, Gatorade dominates with a 77.2 % share of the category’s volume and was a big reason PepsiCo bought Quaker.

“Gatorade has driven a lot of PepsiCo’s North American beverage growth for many years,” he said.

Powerade is a distant No. 2 player, with a market share of 21.7 % last year. The sports drink category was worth about $7.6 billion in retail sales in 2008. By comparison, the entire U.S. carbonated soft drinks market was worth than $72.7 billion in retail sales last year.

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Major brand names marketing products to Hispanics

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Major consumer product manufacturers are marketing their products at Hispanics through television.

Just last month, Coca-Cola launched “Destapa Tus Suenos” or “Unleash Your Dreams.” The campaign was the central message for “Destapa La Felicidad,” the Hispanic adaptation of “Open Happiness” – the new global integrated marketing campaign for Coca-Cola that was introduced in January.

Despite the fact that unemployment among Hispanics shot up in March to 11.4%, compared with 8.5% for the U.S. population as a whole, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hispanic consumers typically like to buy products and services from brands advertised on TV, and rely heavily on basic packaged goods. By combining the two, the product integration successfully reaches this niche.

Business Week cited a TNS Media Intelligence report which indicated that General Mills tripled its spending on commercials on Spanish-language TV to more than $35 million last year.

“We’ve gone aggressively into Hispanic marketing, because we’re getting double-digit sales gains,” said General Mills chief marketing officer Mark Addicks.

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