MIDWEST STORES SPROUT ORGANIC HARVEST EVENTS

Children's stories, demos and chef appearances were among the activities Byerly's, Whole Foods Market and other Midwest chains held during Organic Harvest Month.And last week, these retailers also participated in Minnesota Organic Harvest Week, a promotion designed exclusively for the Twin Cities area.Though Organic Harvest Month is a national September promotion, the Twin Cities is one of the most

Children's stories, demos and chef appearances were among the activities Byerly's, Whole Foods Market and other Midwest chains held during Organic Harvest Month.

And last week, these retailers also participated in Minnesota Organic Harvest Week, a promotion designed exclusively for the Twin Cities area.

Though Organic Harvest Month is a national September promotion, the Twin Cities is one of the most active regions because it is the subject of a three-year test to see what types of organic promotions work best. The test, scheduled to end in March 1998, will be the model on which promotions in other regions are based, said Ann Woods, director of the Midwest Organic Alliance, St. Louis Park, Minn.

Along with Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods and Edina, Minn.-based Byerly's, Rainbow Foods, Hopkins, Minn., and Cub Foods, Stillwater, Minn., participated in Organic Harvest Week, which was themed "Organic. Simply Delicious" and sponsored by the Midwest Organic Alliance.

Last week, Cub Foods promoted natural and organic products in its seven stores featuring Naturally Cub, an 18-month-old natural/organic store-within-

a-store program. The stores demonstrated products from nine different companies, including Cascadian Farm fruit spreads, Amy's Kitchen frozen pizza, Muir Glen pasta sauce, Stonyfield Farm yogurt and Garden of Eatin' chips and dip, according to Brad Willert, corporate merchandiser for grocery, frozen food and dairy.

Though Cub participated in Organic Harvest month in 1996, it promoted and advertised the event more this year. For instance, it ran articles and ads in the Minnesota and St. Paul Magazine and in Holistic Twin Cities, a bi-monthly magazine.

"We've received a lot of requests for natural and organic food from our store managers and customers," Willert told SN.

Though he declined to give figures, Willert said, "Cub is very happy," with sales.

Natural/organic food is doing so well that Cub plans to expand Naturally Cub sections, which currently are featured only in the Twin Cities, to other divisions. Within the next six to eight months, Naturally Cub, may open in Wisconsin and Colorado, including the Denver market.

Byerly's held a weeklong promotion that included demonstrations, samplings and product specials. It also had chefs from local restaurants come in and demonstrate some of their organic recipes.

On one day, Byerly's taught youngsters about organic food through stories and activities.

"Byerly's feels it's our responsibility to educate our shoppers about the sheer number of organic products available throughout the store," said Tracy Wiese, advertising and communications manager for Lunds, Minneapolis, Byerly's parent. "It's not just produce anymore."

At Whole Foods, local growers visited stores to demonstrate and explain their products.