EARTH DAY DAWNS ON NEW HARRIS TEETER LINE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Linking the launch to Earth Day, the Harris Teeter chain here chose April 19 to introduce its line of Harris Teeter Naturals, a new brand of private-label natural and organic food products.The new line consists of about 30 stockkeeping units, including peanut butter, juices, cereals and canned vegetables, and will be in the chain's 141 stores by the end of this month. About 25 additional

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Linking the launch to Earth Day, the Harris Teeter chain here chose April 19 to introduce its line of Harris Teeter Naturals, a new brand of private-label natural and organic food products.

The new line consists of about 30 stockkeeping units, including peanut butter, juices, cereals and canned vegetables, and will be in the chain's 141 stores by the end of this month. About 25 additional SKUs are expected to be added to the line throughout the year. "Earth Day commemorates peace and care for the Earth. We couldn't think of a better time to launch Harris Teeter Naturals," Karen Humanik, category manager, said.

Overall, Earth Day promotions seemed a little muted this year compared to those past, but some supermarkets still remembered to remind consumers of products conducive to a healthier planet.

Wild Oats Markets, Boulder, Colo., held events in all 102 of its stores on April 20 that included in-store sampling of household and food products, lectures and eco-trivia contests.

The two Wild By Nature units on Long Island, N.Y., owned by The King Kullen Co., Bethpage, N.Y., held annual celebrations involving live music, raffles, giveaways for youngsters and in-store sampling supported by 15 manufacturers, including Seeds of Change, Nantucket Nectars, glaceau water, Vita Spelt Pasta, Parmalat, Omega Foods frozen tuna and salmon patties, Purely Decadent ice cream, Republic of Tea and Reed's Ginger Beer.

During the week preceding Earth Day, the Whole Foods Market in Manhattan's Chelsea district had Seventh Generation dishwashing liquid and laundry detergent on sale on an endcap that was unsigned early in the week, but by Sunday night carried signage showing significant savings at price points of $1.99 for the dishwashing product and $6.99 for the laundry detergent. No Earth Day link was mentioned in the signage or in the store circular, but a store associate, unprompted, told SN that the sale was indeed timed to coincide with Earth Day.

Meanwhile, in observance of Earth Day, the Organic Trade Association, Greenfield, Mass., rolled out a new Web site, theorganicreport.com, and is having a contest for parents to write about why they want their families to know about organic agriculture and products. That contest is being run with Mambo Sprouts, a Haddonfield, N.J., marketing company that specializes in in-store coupons.

Because Earth Day, which started April 22, 1970, is not coordinated on a national level, it tends to be driven by communities that have a more active interest, experts said, and since this year was not a key anniversary year, it may have had slightly less emphasis in some places.

"Earth Day at its best has always been a grassroots movement; that's why it can vary so much by community. The 20th anniversary, in 1990, was treated as a huge event," said Greg Leonard, corporate vice president of merchandising for Tree of Life, one of the two largest U.S. distributors of natural groceries, in St. Augustine, Fla.

"It's the kind of cultural event that changes from year to year," Leonard continued. "One thing's for sure: As the baby boomers continue to age, this event will benefit from the focus of the older people and their social consciousness." A huge plus this year is the pending National Organic Standard, Leonard pointed out, which goes into effect Oct. 21. It will bring gains for farmers and consumers, and likely lower prices as the volume goes up, Leonard told SN.