AHOLD TAKES BITE INTO SALTY-SNACK BUSINESS

CHANTILLY, Va. -- Ahold USA here has consolidated the private-label, salty-snack lines at each of its six operating companies into a new unified program.The nationwide rollout means all the operating companies will carry the same salty-snack brands. It follows Ahold's introduction of common private labels in other Center Store categories, including carbonated soft drinks and coffee.The new salty-snack

CHANTILLY, Va. -- Ahold USA here has consolidated the private-label, salty-snack lines at each of its six operating companies into a new unified program.

The nationwide rollout means all the operating companies will carry the same salty-snack brands. It follows Ahold's introduction of common private labels in other Center Store categories, including carbonated soft drinks and coffee.

The new salty-snack line is comprised of five brands: Pretzelwerks pretzels; Che-Bangos cheese puffs; Tat 'Ums potato chips; Gustados nacho tortilla chips; and Festingos corn tortilla chips. Pretzelwerks and Che-Bangos retail for 99 cents each; the others, two for $3.

Twenty-seven stockkeeping units are offered, according to Rick Stockwood, spokesman for Ahold's Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., Quincy, Mass., division. Eight of these are new items, including bite-size tortilla chips; sour cream & onion and salt & vinegar potato chips; and sourdough pretzels.

"It's key to offer the consumer a variety of choices," Stockwood told SN.

Stop & Shop and Ahold's other operating companies -- Giant Food, Landover, Md.; Giant Food Stores, Carlisle, Pa.; Bi-Lo, Greenville, S.C.; Tops Friendly Markets, Williamsville, N.Y.; and Bruno's Supermarkets, Birmingham, Ala. -- are aggressively promoting the line.

"Stop & Shop salty snacks have a brand new look and a great new taste," a store circular read, in part. "Try them for yourself and see just how good they are."

Stop & Shop also conducted a chainwide sampling event on Sept. 7

"We used in-store sampling as a way to show our customers that this is a high-quality product," Stockwood said.

The salty-snack line is one of a growing number of Center Store categories undergoing branding unification at Ahold. Last year, Ahold introduced nationwide private-label coffee and carbonated soft-drink brands.

Common private labels are also planned for other categories, although Ahold has not announced what they are.