JEWEL ADS PROMOTE PRESIDENT'S CHOICE PREMIUM PET FOOD

MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- Jewel Food Stores here is heavily promoting its new President's Choice Nutrition 1st line of super premium pet foods.The line of dry and canned foods was developed by West Seneca, N.Y.-based President's Choice as an option for shoppers who normally purchase pet-shop exclusive brands, such as Iams and Hill's Science Diet. President's Choice is a division of Loblaw Cos., Toronto.Sources

MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- Jewel Food Stores here is heavily promoting its new President's Choice Nutrition 1st line of super premium pet foods.

The line of dry and canned foods was developed by West Seneca, N.Y.-based President's Choice as an option for shoppers who normally purchase pet-shop exclusive brands, such as Iams and Hill's Science Diet. President's Choice is a division of Loblaw Cos., Toronto.

Sources familiar with the program told SN the line has been available in Canada for about two years, but wasn't introduced to the U.S. until late last year. It was launched at Jewel in November 1996.

"So far the line is doing pretty good," one local observer told SN. "Jewel has been using point-of-sale materials to set Nutrition 1st off from the rest of the pet-aisle offerings."

Officials at Jewel did not return phone calls seeking comment, but a local observer told SN the most recent ad appeared in early January, when the chain devoted a full page of its weekly circular to Nutrition 1st. The ad was identical to one that ran last November when the line was initially introduced.

The ad showcased the four varieties of dry dog food and three varieties of dry cat food that are available in the line. Bright yellow star bursts proclaimed "compare our quality to Iams and Science Diet" and "complete and balanced nutrition."

Dry dog food in puppy, adult dog, light adult dog and lamb meal and rice formulas was $10.99 for a 20-pound bag for shoppers with a Jewel Preferred Card, and $12.99 for shoppers without a card. For all shoppers canned foods in beef, chicken, turkey, lamb and rice, light and puppy formulas were two 14-ounce cans for $1.19.

Dry cat food in kitten, adult cat and light adult cat formulations was $3.29 a 4-pound bag for shoppers with the frequent-shopper card and $3.69 for those without. Canned cat food in catfish, chicken, lamb and rice, turkey, chicken and beef varieties were five 6-ounce cans for $2.00 for all shoppers.

The ad also offered shoppers a guarantee: "If you are not completely satisfied that President's Choice Nutrition 1st performs as well as the pet food you are currently buying, we will refund your money."

An industry observer in Buffalo told SN that Nutrition 1st has also been introduced into Tops Markets, where it has been advertised periodically in one of the two half-page columns in the weekly circular that is devoted to the President's Choice line.

Larchmont, N.Y.-based D'Agostino Supermarkets is also testing the Nutrition 1st line in two of its "country stores" in New York's suburban Westchester County, according to the observer.

Officials at Tops and D'Agostino's could not be reached for comment.