KING KULLEN IS PROMOTING ITS ORGANICS WITH SAMPLES

WESTBURY, N.Y. -- King Kullen Grocery Co. here decided to trumpet the fact that it sells organic fruits and vegetables in a recent promotion that included free samples of salad served with health-oriented dressing and a message to eat more fruits and vegetables.The salad, given to customers on slices of pita bread, was made from organic lettuce, with a nonfat honey mustard dressing.The promotion,

WESTBURY, N.Y. -- King Kullen Grocery Co. here decided to trumpet the fact that it sells organic fruits and vegetables in a recent promotion that included free samples of salad served with health-oriented dressing and a message to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The salad, given to customers on slices of pita bread, was made from organic lettuce, with a nonfat honey mustard dressing.

The promotion, called "5 a Day the Organic Way," was held last month at the retailer's unit in Massapequa, N.Y.

"We decided it was time to promote our organic program and get customers familiar with how to eat five fruits and vegetables a day," said Dana Conklin, assistant to the vice president of government and industry relations for the retailer. The store also tied in its healthy heart recipes in the deli and provided other nutritional information.

Conklin said she used organic romaine lettuce, red tip lettuce, pea sprouts, bean sprouts, parsley, mushrooms, tomatoes and celery in addition to other organic salad items in the salad.

"It helped educate people that they can use salads in the 5-a-Day program, and people just loved it," Conklin said.

Customers were "amazed" at the freshness and taste of the organic produce, Conklin added. While Conklin didn't have statistics of sales increases as a result of the two-day promotion, she did say she saw an increase in organic produce sales during and after the promotion period.

"The program is strengthening week by week, and people are buying more and more organic -- especially on Long Island," she said. King Kullen launched its 48-store organic program in September of last year and has seen strong results, Conklin said. "We are very proud of the work we've done with organics, and promoting 5 a Day is a philosophy of ours. We also want to promote organic," Conklin said.

The organic salad was advertised in King Kullen's mailed circular, which was sent only to homes in the Massapequa store's marketing area.

The chain normally carries between 20 and 25 organic fruits and vegetables, and has established an "organic hot line" to respond to customer requests.