PLMA SHOW SPURRED SEVERAL NEW PARTNERSHIPS

CHICAGO -- An informal survey of exhibitors at the nineteenth annual PLMA show held here last month turned up some new partnerships between vendors and retailers.For example, Tetley USA's private-label division, based in Marietta, Ga., will be producing green tea for supermarkets. The tea will roll out under the Finast label in Tops Markets, Williamsville, N.Y., and in Giant Food Stores, Carlisle,

CHICAGO -- An informal survey of exhibitors at the nineteenth annual PLMA show held here last month turned up some new partnerships between vendors and retailers.

For example, Tetley USA's private-label division, based in Marietta, Ga., will be producing green tea for supermarkets. The tea will roll out under the Finast label in Tops Markets, Williamsville, N.Y., and in Giant Food Stores, Carlisle, Pa., in January 1999. The tea will also debut at Price Chopper, Schenectady, N.Y., early next year.

According to Ed Smith, director of national accounts, green tea is the fastest growing category in the specialty tea market. Tetley has been testing its flavored green tea under the Tetley name in the Northeast since last June, he said.

Harris Teeter, Matthews, N.C., redesigned and relaunched its private-label liquid laundry detergent program in September, according to Robert Kaminska, vice president, marketing, for Kleen Brite Laboratories, Brockport, N.Y., which supplies the product to the retailer.

Savvy retailers are moving toward a superpremium or upscale laundry detergent line, Kaminska said. KBL also produces Wegmans' private-label liquid detergent line, recently repackaged in clear bottles. In the last six months, Wegmans, Rochester, N.Y., has also refined its five-step approach to laundering, which is meant to encourage consumers to widen their purchases in the laundry aisle, Kaminska said.

One of these step numbers and names is clearly marked on each bottle in the newly packaged detergent line.

Flavor Kist, Des Moines, Iowa, which makes private-label breakfast pastries, will introduce its product under the Heritage Farms brand to Quality Food Centers, Bellevue, Wash., early next year. The product has recently been introduced to Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich., Steve Podracky, marketing manager, told SN. The company also debuted a new product at the show, called S'mores, which has already started shipping to a few accounts, including Weis Markets, Sunbury, Pa., and Kroger, Cincinnati.

Bariatrix International, Toronto, Ontario, introduced nutrition bars, under the President's Choice label, to Jewel-Osco, Melrose Park, Ill., last month. The company, which has an office in Buffalo, expects to add Tops, Harris Teeter, Star Market, Cambridge, Mass., and Glen's Markets, Gaylord, Mich., to its roster of accounts in 1999.

"We refined [this energy bar] so that it has the taste and texture of a candy bar, but it's geared to the mass market palate without leaving out the fortification," explained Warren Blatt, a company representative.

Cantisano Foods, Fort Lee, N.J., is making new premium private- label pasta sauces available to supermarkets in smaller 16-ounce sizes, according to James Rinaldi, director, sales & marketing.

The six stockkeeping units will be available next year, and the company expects to introduce them in American and Acme stores, Salt Lake City, in the Spring, and in some of the Ahold divisions, under the Sensational label, in August. The six new sauces are vodka, clam, Alfredo, Alfredo with mushrooms, tomato Alfredo, and carbonara.

Pet Life Foods, Willowbrook, Ill., expects to extend the reach of its soft, moist jerky treats for dogs next year. According to Randy Berendt, region manager, soft, moist treats now occupy about 35% of the shelf space allocated to treats, and return about a 35% margin.

The treats will show up in Roche Bros., Wellesley Hills, Mass; Weis; Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kansas, (under the Best Choice label) next year.

Associated Brands, Toronto, introduced its boxed snack mix under the Healthy Indulgence label this year to Kroger stores. The boxed product, which is now sold in a bag in Canada, under the Nuts 'n Bolts brand, has about 1 gram of fat per serving.

Six months ago, the company repackaged its puffed wheat and rice cereals for Loblaw's chain, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. Although still in a bag, the rich, four-color packaging gives the cereal an eye-catching, upscale look. According to John Currie, president of the company, sales increased 30% or more following the package redesign.

Heinz U.S.A.'s private-label soup division introduced its new Italian Classics premium soup to Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh, Pa., and Dillon Food Stores, Hutchinson, Kansas, this fall, where it is doing very well, according to Heinz representatives who were at the show. This year's PLMA trade show boasted 1,800 exhibit booths.