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What's Newsworthy in Store Brands.

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'Consolidating existing store labels into one recognizable brand will allow Walgreens to focus its investments in Nice!'

Moe Alkemade, divisional vice president and general merchandise manager, Walgreen Co.

Walgreens Launches Nice! Brand

In August, the Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, Ill., officially unveiled its Nice! brand in stores nationwide. The new brand includes more than 400 high-quality grocery and household products at prices up to 30 percent less than other national brands, the retailer said.

Nice! features a bold, clean design aimed at being easily recognizable and simplifying the shopping experience, said Moe Alkemade, Walgreens' divisional vice president and general merchandise manager for private brands.

"We believe it will appeal to a wide range of consumers, and our consumer research studies conducted before the launch confirmed this," he told Progressive Grocer's Store Brands.

Walgreens said it will phase out and rebrand many existing store brands - including Cafe W, Deerfield Farms and W - under Nice! The retailer plans to have most of the new brand's products on shelves by early 2012.

"Consolidating existing store labels into one recognizable brand will allow Walgreens to focus its investments in Nice! through product development, marketing and merchandising," Alkemade said. "Also, streamlining our offering makes it even easier for customers to identify high-quality everyday essentials at a great value."

Walgreens also said it will conduct an integrated marketing campaign to communicate the brand's message around quality and savings compared to other national brands.

Not all existing Walgreens brands will disappear, however. The retailer said it plans to retain the Good & Delish brand. Previously named DR Delish, the brand debuted in New York's Duane Reade drugstores, which Walgreens acquired in 2010. The company also will continue to offer its recently expanded petshoppe brand of pet supplies and the Walgreens brand for health and wellness products.

- R. Hofbauer

ALDI Debuts MyPlate Campaign

Through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Batavia, Ill.-based ALDI Inc. launched a campaign that aligns with USDA nutrition messages and the MyPlate icon to encourage consumers to fill half of the plate with fruit and vegetables. ALDI said the campaign, launched in September, will reach more than 20 million customers each month.

The campaign features flyers and in-store signage heralding fresh-produce "Picks of the Week," which feature even deeper price reductions than can be found on ALDI's other produce. It also includes online recipes and nutrition tips incorporating the retailer's own fresh, frozen and canned fruit and vegetables, an ALDI spokesperson told Progressive Grocer's Store Brands.

"ALDI consulted a registered dietitian to provide tips to help consumers fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables," the spokesperson said.

The initiative coincides with ALDI's mission to provide the highest-quality products at the lowest possible prices to shoppers, said Chuck Youngstrom, ALDI's co-president.

"We want to play our part to help Americans fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables," he stated.

Dr. Robert Post, deputy director of the USDA Center for Nutritional Policy and Promotion, said partners such as ALDI help the agency "amplify the reach" of its nutrition messages and prompt people to consider building a "healthy plate" during mealtimes.

"MyPlate is an uncomplicated symbol that reminds people to think about their food choices in a way that leads to healthier lifestyles," he said.

- K. Canning

Supplier Side

Xylitol USA Launches Xyla Brand

Thanks to its versatility, as well as its dental and diabetic health benefits, xylitol is attracting the attention of many of today's consumers and product developers. To help meet anticipated growing demand, Xylitol USA, a subsidiary of Xylitol Canada in Toronto, recently launched the Xyla brand of xylitol for both tabletop applications and as an ingredient in finished products.

According to Nancy Rhodes, Xylitol USA's chief operating officer, Xyla xylitol is truly a "made in the USA product." Sourced from U.S. hardwood trees, the xylitol is processed within the states as well.

"Most other xylitols are either manufactured in China or made from corn cob - or both," she said.

The xyla brand covers bulk sweeteners in 4-gram packets and 1-pound, 2-pound, 5-pound and 55-pound options, Rhodes said, as well as candy, mints and gum in a wide variety of flavors. To accommodate growth, Xylitol USA recently moved its processing operation to a state-of-the-art facility in Aurora, Colo., Rhodes noted. The new facility - the largest xylitol specialty product production facility in the United States - features advanced research and development capabilities and significant production capacity increases.

"We manufacture all the candy, gum [and] mints here in the plant and can customize products for retailers very easily," she explained, "as all final packaging occurs at this facility. We are working on getting the plant organic certification, but already have kosher certification."

Although Xylitol USA offers retailers contract packaging services for any of its Xyla brand products, Rhodes noted that it requires that the Xyla name be used on the packaging so consumers are assured they are getting North American hardwood xylitol. The company also offers organic coconut palm sugar under the Pure Palm label, she added.

- K. Canning

JTM Foods To Grow Through Acquisition

Back in January, Cleveland-based private equity firm Blue Point Capital Partners, in a joint venture with snack food industry veteran Angelo Fraggos, said it acquired JTM Foods LLC, an Erie, Pa.-based manufacturer of single-serve snack pies and marshmallow crispy treats under the JJ's brand and for retailers' store brands. At the time of the acquisition, Blue Point said it was excited to partner with Fraggos and invest in "a leading player within a niche snack food category."

Fraggos - who has served with such companies as Ecce Panis, New World Pasta and Nestle - has been involved in a number of revamping projects throughout his career. His experience makes him the perfect person to help with the "fairly major revamp" of JTM, Byard Ebling, JTM's vice president, sales and marketing, told Progressive Grocer's Store Brands.

Since the acquisition, JTM and Blue Point have focused on beefing up JTM's staff and capabilities, Ebling said. They established a regional sales force for JTM and currently are in the process of appointing brokers for both the national brand and private label sides of the business.

JTM and Blue Point also are increasing JTM's market research capabilities, which Ebling said will allow the company to better understand the current marketplace and consumer behavior.

"We really want to be the experts to our customers," he noted.

In their next phase, JTM and Blue Point plan to invest in R&D capabilities to expand product offerings over the next year, Ebling said. Blue Point also will be on the lookout for other acquisitions that could increase JTM's capabilities and efficiency.

"It's really an exciting time - we're getting all the pieces in place, and ... we're really looking to make some noise in the private label arena," he noted.

- R. Hofbauer
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Publication:Progressive Grocer's Store Brands
Date:Oct 1, 2011
Words:1322
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