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Miller Brewing’s MGD hopes 64-calorie version will fatten sales

BY Tara Smith

CHICAGO The Miller Brewing Co. last prepped an aggressive regional rollout of a 64-calorie, female-targeted version of Miller Genuine Draft in a move it hopes will revive one of the most moribund franchises in domestic beer. The new line’s calorie count is a little more than half MGD Light’s 110 calories.

MGD 64, which had been test marketed in Madison, Wis., late last year, sold well enough to persuade Miller executives to greenlight it in major Midwestern markets starting March 1. There, it will be backed by print, radio and outdoor advertising from MGD’s agency of record, WPP Group’s Y&R, Chicago.

Miller chief marketing officer Randy Ransom said MGD 64 would actually replace MGD Light in the marketplace, and would be aimed at stealing women drinkers from rival brands such as Michelob Ultra, Bud Light and Coors Light. At 64 calories, the brand is the lowest-calorie mass-marketed domestic beer to date. By contrast, full-calorie MGD has 143 calories and Miller Lite has 96 calories.

As for marketing, there will be a clear focus on placing ads in and around health clubs, executives close to the situation said, noting that the tagline used in the trial market, “As light as it gets,” was well-received by women. “It’s a niche brand with a specialty target,” Ransom said. “We want to be very focused and targeted with the media we use for it.”

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Kraft Foods expands contract with DHL

BY Tara Smith

PLANTATION, Fla. DHL announced Tuesday that Kraft Foods has renewed and expanded its contract with DHL as its primary U.S. express carrier.

DHL will provide U.S. express shipping services for Kraft Foods. The express carrier has also been chosen by Kraft Foods as a provider for U.S. ground delivery and international express services for Kraft’s letters and small package shipments, including delivery of food product samples, point-of-sale advertising, inter-office documents and payroll, and product-sampling items for Kraft vendors, plants, distribution centers and its corporate offices.

“Kraft has been a valued partner for nearly 20 years,” said Charles Brewer, executive vice president of sales. “We are seeing many of the largest multi-national companies enhance their operations by leveraging DHL’s flexibility, customer-focused commitment and ongoing U.S. network enhancements.”

Founded in San Francisco in 1969, DHL generated worldwide revenues of $80 billion in 2006.

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Giant Eagle invests in own products; reopens former LeNature’s plant

BY Tara Smith

PITTSBURGH Bottled water is being produced again at the former LeNature’s plant in Latrobe, Pa., thanks in part to Giant Eagle—and the new owners expect to add flavored water, iced teas and even soft drinks.

Currently the plant is producing Giant Eagle-labeled “Purified Water,” which is being shipped to area Giant Eagle stores. The plant plans to produce other bottled drinks for Giant Eagle, which comprises ready-made market of 158 corporate, 65 franchises and 138 convenience stores in the Pittsburgh region, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland and owns 1 percent of the operation, before branching out to outside customers.

The beverage plant had closed in November 2006, when LeNature’s was forced into bankruptcy. Giant Eagle bought the plant and its state-of-the-art bottling equipment for $22.3 million in September in a bankruptcy court auction, having outbid Cadbury Schweppes. Manufacturing its own products is a new direction for Giant Eagle, the region’s dominant grocer, moving from a competitive business to a more competitive field.

The 300,000-square-foot plant will make flavored waters by the end of the month, iced tea brewed from tea leaves in mid-February and carbonated soft drinks in March, according to Charley Price, company president. The company has not decided yet which flavors it will produce, Price said.

To bring the plant into full production, the company expects to spend about $4 million for clean-up, repairing and recommissioning the equipment, plus adding a line for soft drinks, Price said. He believes that, with the equipment on hand, running 24 hours per day, seven days a week, the plant could make nine million bottles of beverages per year.

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