PATHMARK OFFERS PREPACKED VERSION OF FRESH MEALS PROGRAM

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. -- Pathmark Stores here has introduced fresh, never frozen, prepacked meals called "Chef's Creations to Go."The line, which features eight individual meals, with an entree and side dish packed in microwavable containers, can be seen as an extension of the chain's "Chef's Creations" program available in selected Pathmark stores, said Stan Sorkin, senior vice president of public affairs

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. -- Pathmark Stores here has introduced fresh, never frozen, prepacked meals called "Chef's Creations to Go."

The line, which features eight individual meals, with an entree and side dish packed in microwavable containers, can be seen as an extension of the chain's "Chef's Creations" program available in selected Pathmark stores, said Stan Sorkin, senior vice president of public affairs for the supermarket chain, which operates 144 stores in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

"This product is applicable to all our stores while our Chef's Creations programs with in-store preparation are in a maximum of three stores," Sorkin said.

"This is chainwide. It's gearing into meals solutions. We want to capture more of the takeout meals sales," Sorkin said.

The new program's products are completely separate from those in the Chef's Creations programs. The original Chef's Creations program, launched late in 1995 at a Pathmark store on Long Island, is centered on a menu of about 40 entrees, side dishes and salads made in-store each day by a team of chefs.

Chef's Creations to Go items, on the other hand, are sourced from an outside manufacturer who has created a limited variety of products to Pathmark's specifications, Sorkin said.

At present, the lineup consists of eight meals: grilled chicken and pasta, crab cakes and scalloped potatoes, grilled barbecued chicken and mashed potatoes, grilled lemon chicken and roasted potatoes, grilled turkey patty with potato and creamed spinach, and roast turkey, roast beef and meat loaf meals.

A rollout to all Pathmark stores was completed the first week in December. An ad in Pathmark's chainwide circular for the week of Dec. 8 to 14 touted the meals with a special offer. The offer was a free 2-liter bottle of Coke with the purchase of two Chef's Creations to Go for $7.98. The ad price for the 14-ounce meals was the regular price, $3.99 each, Sorkin said. All eight meal varieties were listed.

The ad featured a color photograph of two of the meals in their heatable containers with a large bottle of Coca-Cola, and a drinking glass between them. Starbursts alongside said, "New!" and "Heat n' Serve," and a headline declared the new products the "Pathmark Smart Meal of the Week."

The latter reference was to an ongoing "Pathmark Smart Meal of the Week" program launched several months ago that ties in various grocery products as meal components. It offers them at a special price if all the meal-component products are purchased at one time.

Chef's Creations to Go are displayed in various ways, based on the configuration of the particular store, Sorkin said.

At the chain's newest s tore in Brooklyn, which was one of the first units to get the new chilled meals line, the products are displayed in a 4-foot, multideck case in line with the service deli department.

That is the optimum way to present the products, near the service deli, Sorkin said.

"It's a logical extension of the deli concept," he said, explaining that customers come to the deli to buy food for near-future consumption.