DIVERSE STOCKS

an in-store visit.Publix goes out of its way to make Hispanic customers feel at home by offering two different circulars, one printed in English; one in Spanish. Publix's entrance/exit and service-desk signs are also bilingual.In grocery, Publix stocked a wide variety of Hispanic foods which were merchandised in-line next to their American counterparts. For example, 4 feet of the 20-foot canned fruit

an in-store visit.

Publix goes out of its way to make Hispanic customers feel at home by offering two different circulars, one printed in English; one in Spanish. Publix's entrance/exit and service-desk signs are also bilingual.

In grocery, Publix stocked a wide variety of Hispanic foods which were merchandised in-line next to their American counterparts. For example, 4 feet of the 20-foot canned fruit section was devoted to the Ancel and Conchita brands of canned guava, papaya, grated coconut and other Hispanic specialties.

During SN's visit, a nearby endcap was devoted to Edmundo golden cooking wine, which was featured at $1.39 a 750ml bottle. Publix stocked 56 linear feet of Mexican foods, merchandised on seven shelves in an 8-foot section. The same amount of shelf space was devoted to olives, while 24 linear feet was devoted to Spanish marinades and barbecue sauce. Twelve linear feet on two shelves was devoted to canned milk.

In the cereal aisle, Quaker oatmeal imported from Venezuela was stocked next to its American counterpart, while in another aisle 120 linear feet was devoted to rice.

Publix, like the other Miami supermarkets visited, stocked a wide variety of detergents and household cleaners geared specifically to Hispanics. For example, 40 linear feet was devoted to Mistolin cleaner in lavender and floral scents, featured at $4.19 a half-gallon.

The Hispanic influence was easily seen in the baby care aisle, where 20 linear feet in a 4-foot section were devoted to Hispanic baby aids, including shampoo, swabs, soaps, baby perfume and Mennen products imported from Costa Rica.

On the day SN visited the store, Publix was sampling Quaker FrescAvena, a malt-based instant drink mix in strawberry and cinnamon flavors that is imported from Venezuela. It was featured at $3.09 a container.

During SN's visit, Quaker FrescAvena was also being sampled at a nearby Winn-Dixie, located in the Park Hill Plaza shopping center. The demonstrator spoke only Spanish.

Like Publix, Winn-Dixie tends to meld its Hispanic foods in with the mainstream selections. An 8-foot section with six shelves was devoted to Hispanic barbecue sauces and marinades in the same aisle where the Heinz, Kraft and Open Pit sauces were sold. In Winn-Dixie, 60 linear feet were devoted to olives and capers.

Winn-Dixie devoted 11 linear feet to canned milk, and 4 feet to Hispanic teas. In a 4-foot section, Winn-Dixie stocked 21 SKUs of Hispanic coffees, including Que Buen Cafe from A&P's Compass Foods subsidiary.

One area where Winn-Dixie's effort to cater to Hispanics really shone was in the juice aisle, where it stocked 17 SKUs of canned nectars in 12-ounce, 6-ounce six-packs and 46-ounce sizes. In addition to the mainstay peach, apricot and pear nectars, Winn-Dixie also stocked banana, mango, papaya, guava and guanabana. The 12-ounce cans were a two-for-$1 Power Buy, and shoppers who bought 10 cans received a Checkout Coupon good for $1 off their next order.

Further up West Flager, a Food Value independent supermarket paid a lot of attention to rice, with 6-foot-high stacks of 20-pound bags located at the rear of the first aisle.

Unlike Publix and Winn-Dixie, the store is smaller, older and not as brightly lit as its competition. Throughout the store signs in English and Spanish urged shoppers not to open packages and to ask for assistance. In the paper-goods aisle, a descriptive sign from Scott was written solely in Spanish.

Directly across the street, Sedano's in West Flager Plaza has perhaps the most extensive selection of Hispanic groceries of all the chains surveyed. As in the others, the Hispanic offerings are more integrated with their American counterparts, only on a much broader scale.

Sedano's stocks a large variety of products in certain categories. For example, it stocked 14 SKUs of canned coconut milk, spanning 12 linear feet and having 45 facings. On another aisle there were six shelves in a 12-foot section devoted to canned beans, and 96 linear feet devoted to dried beans. And Sedano's had 28 SKUs of canned and jarred pimentos.

In addition, the store stocked 14 SKUs of hot sauce, and in the salty snack aisle a 12-foot set was devoted to fried plantains and pork cracklings (chicharrones).

Sedano's had a larger assortment of Hispanic coffees than the other stores surveyed, with 35 SKUs available in canned, brick and instant varieties.

During SN's visit, an 18-foot by 10-foot display of 20-pound rice was located in a front alcove toward the end of the shopping pattern.

One of the most impressive Hispanic influences at Sedano's was evident in the canned-fish aisle, where more than 120 SKUs of canned sardines, pickled mussels, octopus and assorted other sea creatures were merchandised.

Although Albertson's at 7800 Bird Road (SW 40th Street) does not have as great a selection of some Hispanic foods as the other stores, it had an impressive merchandising program.

Upon entering the store shoppers are greeted with a series of 4-square-foot pallet displays of Hispanic foods. Items merchandised at the entrance included Limpito cleaner, 99 cents a bottle; Iberia cooking wine, 79 cents a bottle; Iberia condensed milk, $1.09 a can; Conchita black beans, two cans for $1, and Rio Maria cookies imported from Spain, three tubes for $1.09. There were also three pallets of 20-pound sacks of rice.

During SN's visit, in the rear of the store stood a floor stack of El Sembrador Mojo Criollo Spanish barbecue sauce, which was a Bonus Buy at 79 cents a bottle. Albertson's pays special attention to beverages, offering 8 feet of Goya bottled sodas in 12-ounce bottles at two for $1. Flavors available were guava, strawberry, mandarin orange, fruit punch, coconut, lemon/lime and cola champagne.

NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY

Along with maintaining a strong Japanese consumer base, Yaohan is attracting a growing number of American customers.

Los Angeles-based Yaohan U.S.A. Corp. has established nine supermarket outposts in the United States that cater to Japanese, Korean and Chinese nationals, Asian-Americans, and a mainstream American population that is rapidly becoming more cosmopolitan in taste. Yaohan is an independently operating sister company of the Japan-based Yaohan, a supermarket and retailing conglomerate.

Seven of Yaohan's U.S. stores are in California, one is in Chicago, and the New Jersey store, which opened a decade ago on the banks of the Hudson River in Edgewater, N.J., is directly across the river from upper Manhattan. To serve Manhattan shoppers, Yaohan operates a shuttle bus from New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal, with a one-way fare of $2 for adults and $1 for children under 14.

Tomoaki Nakamura, assistant manager of administration at Yaohan in Edgewater, estimates that 60% of Yaohan's customer base is Japanese, with 20% Korean, 10% Chinese and 10% American. The Edgewater area has a population of Japanese nationals who are living in the United States on long-term assignments at various Japanese-owned banks, real estate and electronics firms in New York and Bergen County, N.J.

"For the younger [Japanese] generation, it is easier to adapt to a new culture, but the older generation is used to the Japanese food. That is why there is a need for this store. Surprisingly, we have customers from Washington, Boston and Pennsylvania," Nakamura said.

He told SN the number of American customers shopping Yaohan for specialty foods has increased over the past year, and got an extra boost when Martha Stewart did cooking segments during the Winter Olympics from Nagano, Japan, this year.

"Some customers said they saw Martha Stewart and she was making Japanese food. They wrote down the ingredients and came here to shop," he said.

The 49,000-square-foot Edgewater building is divided, with half the store devoted to leased specialty shops, and half to a supermarket specializing in Japanese groceries.

Merchandising is largely left up to the store managers and grocery buyers who meet with vendors and decide on new products and demonstration items.

A full 24-foot-long aisle was devoted to instant Oriental noodles in brick packs, cups and multi-unit cases. On the tea aisle there were more than 50 stockkeeping units of loose teas and tea bags in varieties that included green tea, oolong tea and brown rice tea. Across the aisle a 24-foot section was devoted to dry roasted seaweed, which is a key ingredient in sushi. A large selection of ready-to-drink canned and bottled teas was also available.

Yaohan stocks a Japanese version of Gerber baby food, whose ingredients include ground sardines and whose label is printed in Japanese. The baby food, imported from Japan, retails for $2.99 to $3.89 a 4-ounce jar.

There were also many Japanese candies and treats for children. A six-shelf aisle set spanning 12 linear feet was devoted to gummy candies, while during SN's visit one endcap featured Pocky pretzel sticks that were dipped in chocolate, strawberry and milk flavors. Another 9 feet was devoted to children's candy, including pegged items, loose bars and several milk-based confections.

Yaohan also had an aisle of wine and liquors, featuring many Japanese specialty items, including several SKUs of sake and imported and domestic plum wines.

Nakamura said Center Store products account for 20% to 30% of store receipts. To stimulate sales, items are often sampled.

Yaohan also plays up traditional Japanese holidays. When SN visited the store in early March, for example, a display was set up near the cash registers for Girls Day, a national holiday in Japan that honors girls.

"In honor of girls, we eat certain confectionery and so we sell those, but only in this season," Nakamura said.

A sprinkling of American staples, such as Nabisco cookies, Del Monte canned goods, bottled water, beer, paper products and soft drinks are sold at Yaohan. Krasdale is used as the private label in items such as paper plates.

In the frozen-food aisle, five doors were devoted to Haagen-Dazs ice cream, largely because the brand is also very big in Japan. By comparison, three doors were devoted to imported Japanese ice cream.

"People come here because they want to buy Japanese products. They don't come here to buy domestic groceries. They can go to Pathmark or A&P, which is cheaper. You can compare the price of domestic grocery. We are much more expensive. We don't buy many, so our cost is higher. Just for convenience we carry these items," he said.

As another convenience factor, Yaohan also has a convenience store-type grocery aisle in a Daikichi Sushi Bar restaurant on New York's 42nd Street, across from Grand Central Station, which stocks rice and canned and packaged Japanese specialty food products. The Daikichi chain is a sister operation to Yaohan.

"Three times a week we ship some of our product to that store," Nakamura said, adding that the convenience store opened last year.

Although no new stores are currently in the works, Nakamura said Yaohan eventually would like to open other U.S. outlets, and is interested in suburban White Plains, N.Y., where there is a large Japanese population.