IGA PLANS TO EXPAND OWN LABEL OF PRODUCE

CHICAGO -- IGA plans to expand a recently introduced line of private-label commodity produce, after the first items in the line met with a warm reception on the West Coast.The line is called IGA TableFresh. Its fourth product, a 5-pound bag of navel oranges, is scheduled to be in the stores of participating IGA retailers by Christmas, according to Don Goodwin, director of category management, produce

CHICAGO -- IGA plans to expand a recently introduced line of private-label commodity produce, after the first items in the line met with a warm reception on the West Coast.

The line is called IGA TableFresh. Its fourth product, a 5-pound bag of navel oranges, is scheduled to be in the stores of participating IGA retailers by Christmas, according to Don Goodwin, director of category management, produce and floral, for the Northwest region of Supervalu.

Supervalu, based in Minneapolis, is supplying the TableFresh items to IGA retailer members through several distribution centers in the Northwest.

A fifth item, either bagged carrots or onions, will be joining the lineup early next year, Goodwin said.

The initial three items in the TableFresh line -- 3-pound bags of red and gold delicious apples, and 10-pound bags of russet potatoes -- debuted in October to good reviews, Goodwin said.

"They're selling very well," he said. "The IGA label has a really good name, and produce was just a natural extension." Goodwin said about 30 IGA stores were originally being supplied with the TableFresh items out of Supervalu's Tacoma, Wash., distribution center. More recently, distribution centers in Spokane, Wash., and Great Falls and Billings, Mont., began supplying products.

Goodwin estimated that at least 120 IGA stores will be carrying TableFresh products within six months.

So far, only retail members in the Northwest are carrying the products, but IGA would like to see the program expand across the country, said Pat Sylvester, IGA's director of marketing.

"All our programs are voluntary," he said. "Now that we have a program that has proved successful, we're hoping it will catch on."

IGA registered the brand name TableFresh several years ago, in the hope that members would pick up on the program, Sylvester said.

West Coast members were the first to show interest, he said.

Goodwin said he presented the TableFresh concept recently to the IGA retailer group Supervalu supplies out of the Tacoma facility, and got positive feedback. "They seemed very willing to support it, so we started putting together a few items," he said.