N.J. SHOPRITE ADDS ASIAN INDIAN FOODS

EDISON, N.J. -- Foodarama Supermarkets has added an extensive Indian specialty foods department to its ShopRite store here in a successful effort to court shoppers from the burgeoning local Asian Indian community.The department, which opened this summer, is located in a 400-square-foot alcove at the main entrance of the store, just before the produce department. The space was formerly used for promotional

EDISON, N.J. -- Foodarama Supermarkets has added an extensive Indian specialty foods department to its ShopRite store here in a successful effort to court shoppers from the burgeoning local Asian Indian community.

The department, which opened this summer, is located in a 400-square-foot alcove at the main entrance of the store, just before the produce department. The space was formerly used for promotional and seasonal items. It has about 250 linear feet of shelf space.

"We have about 200 dry grocery SKUs, 15-20 refrigerated items, an additional 10-12 frozen entree items and another eight to 10 specialty flavors of ice cream, including mango, rose, saffron, pistachio and cashew raisin," Craig McAteer, director, grocery merchandising, Foodarama Supermarkets, Freehold, N.J., told SN.

"This department is designed to compete against the Indian specialty stores. In the same mall as our store there is an Indian store on the lower level, and if you go down the road into [the neighboring town of] Iselin there are a lot of Indian stores right downtown. We're just doing this to market to the area, and we do this heavily in lots of other areas with other items," he said.

McAteer said the department has been well-received by the local Indian community and has even been attracting shoppers from the general populace who are trying Indian foods.

Edison has one of the largest Indian populations in the state, and Indian foods are also stocked in-aisle at Foodarama's other Edison store across town. A more limited Indian food selection is also carried at the ShopRite in nearby Piscataway, N.J.

The bulk of the department's Indian specialty items is supplied by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based House of Spices (India) Inc., which distributes the Laxmi-Shamiana and Joy brands of Indian products. A banner

with the House of Spices name is suspended from the ceiling at the entrance to the alcove to alert shoppers that its brands are stocked in the store.

McAteer said House of Spices also supplies many of the local Indian specialty shops.

Items used in Indian cooking, such as extra-hot chili powder, saffron, Chappati flour, fresh lemon pickle and thin poha (parched rice), are given prominence in the alcove. A few non-food items, including Tata's coconut hair oil, are also stocked.

Other private-label and national-brand grocery products, including rice, honey, Argo corn starch, Lekvar prune butter, apple butter and corn oil, are available in the alcove.

"Corn oil is big with the Indian community. We have Wesson corn oil, ShopRite corn oil and Mazola in there. Plus, we have our own private-label brand of rice. Apple butter and prune butter sell well in that community, so we have private-label apple butter in there as well," McAteer said.