AISLE STYLE

Smooth Move, SafewayWhat goes more naturally with a healthful lifestyle than fruit smoothies and fresh juices?Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., is banking that Jamba Juice locations in certain stores will remind shoppers that the national retailer is the place to go to get healthy and organic foods. It's another component of the retailer's larger health-and-wellness umbrella initiative that also includes

Smooth Move, Safeway

What goes more naturally with a healthful lifestyle than fruit smoothies and fresh juices?

Safeway, Pleasanton, Calif., is banking that Jamba Juice locations in certain stores will remind shoppers that the national retailer is the place to go to get healthy and organic foods. It's another component of the retailer's larger health-and-wellness umbrella initiative that also includes new lifestyle-format stores and the "Ingredients for Life" program.

Nine of Safeway's 1,700-plus new and remodeled stores either have or will soon be adding the 250-square-foot Jamba Juice kiosks, staffed by and licensed to Safeway. Jamba Juice, San Francisco, has more than 500 freestanding stores nationwide.

Safeway has positioned the Jamba Juice units, featuring an upscale look with bright orange and green panels and brushed aluminum, at the front of the stores near its produce departments.

The in-store kiosks - operating in Safeway and Vons stores in Henderson, Nev.; Livermore, Calif.; Boulder, Colo.; and other locations - are posting good numbers, said Paul Clayton, chief executive officer of Jamba Juice.

"The kiosks are all meeting, and in some cases, exceeding our sales expectations," Clayton said. In addition, the kiosks cater to a "more captive audience" than Jamba Juice's freestanding locations, boosting consumers' awareness of the smoothie chain, he said.

While the kiosks produce about two-thirds of the sales of a freestanding unit, they are much more efficient to run, he said.

Because of their performance, Clayton expects Safeway to add more kiosks in the next year. "The early results are very positive, and there is no reason to believe that we're not going to add a bunch more next year," Clayton said. The juicer also has kiosks in about 20 Whole Foods Market stores.

Safeway, meanwhile, would not say whether it would add more Jamba kiosks.

Guidance For Whole Grains

Supermarkets are awash in whole grains. Even white-bread manufacturers have started including them in their signature product. Following up on consumption suggestions outlined in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Food and Drug Administration weighed in earlier this month with new rules for the industry on what qualifies as "whole grain."

Products with claims must now include cereal grains that consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked fruit of the grains whose principal components - the starchy endosperm, germ and bran - are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact grain. Such grains may include barley, buckwheat, bulgur, corn, millet, rice, rye, oats, sorghum, wheat and wild rice.

Under this scenario, rolled and "quick oats" can be called "whole grains" because they contain all of their bran, germ and endosperm, but other widely used food products may not meet the "whole grain" definition. For example, FDA does not consider products derived from legumes (soybeans), oilseeds (sunflower seeds) and roots (arrowroot) as "whole grains."

The new guidance represents yet another important educational opportunity for supermarkets. And consumers could use some help, apparently. A recent Knorr-Lipton survey found that 40% of shoppers said they could not find whole-grain products at grocery stores.

In addition, 36% said they don't have a clear understanding of what whole grains are, and 35% said they don't understand the benefits of eating whole grains.

One of the simplest ways retailers can help shoppers is to point out the Whole Grain stamp program. Established by the Whole Grains Council last year, the system features three different stamps: "Whole Grain Good Source" for qualified products providing a half serving of whole grain; "Whole Grain Excellent Source" for products containing one full serving of whole grains; and "100%/Excellent" for those items that offer a full serving and are completely made with whole grains. The council's organizers monitor Nutrition Facts panels for company compliance.

All In A Day

Sure, health and wellness is big. But it can always be bigger.

That's the motivation behind some 40 supermarket chains nationwide taking part in the second annual "Go Organic for Earth Day" promotion in April, which blitzes shoppers of all ages with information about organic food and agriculture, and includes demos, literature and point-of-purchase materials.

Publix, H.E. Butt, Cub Foods, Giant/Tops and Meijer are among the chains teaming up with Hain Celestial, Earthbound Farm, Clif Bar, Country Choice and many other manufacturers in the $450,000 education and promotion campaign.

Go Organic is a collaboration between the Earth Day Network, Washington; the Organic Trade Association, Greenfield, Mass.; and Music Matters, Minneapolis, a marketing firm for organic and natural products.

The goal is to increase the number of consumers who are interested in purchasing organic foods, said Paul Howland, natural food buyer and merchandiser for Bashas', a 155-store chain in Chandler, Ariz.

"Phoenix does not have a natural food-savvy customer. It is not as strong as southern [Arizona] stores like Tucson," Howland said.

As part of the event, 2.7 million organic food coupon books will be distributed to consumers via direct mail; the Go Organic Web site, www.organicearthday.org; and in participating stores. Consumers can also download recipes and educational materials from the Web site.

Howland aims to educate shoppers unaware of the benefits of organic food via an article in Bashas' monthly health and wellness magazine, Fresh is Best, including an article on organics and recipes. During the promotion, Bashas' will demo Stonyfield Farms' Silk soymilk, Nature's Path organic cereal and its private-label Full Circle products.

"It's going to help increase sales of organic products by increasing awareness of organic products," Howland said.

Organic education is needed, said Michael Martin, president of the Go Organic for Earth Day Campaign, because "there is a huge disconnect" with consumers on the type of food they want to eat and what they think organic food is. A Natural Marketing Institute survey found that 75% of consumers polled said they want foods without pesticides, but in the same group, only about 40% stated they want to eat organic food.

One of the goals of promotions like this is to repair that "disconnect" among consumers.

To that end, it's worth noting that the percentage of U.S. adults who are aware of organics rose 8% in 2005, to 70%, he added.

Martin expects positive results from this year's campaign, after last year's promotion boosted retailers' sales of the organic items promoted during the event by 25%.