PREMIUM BABY CEREAL INCLUDES FORMULA

GLENDALE, Calif. -- Nestle here is launching a premium baby cereal in 21 states, based on what the company calls impressive results from a California pilot program.Because the cereal includes infant formula ingredients, caregivers just mix it with water to prepare.Nestle Carnation Premium Baby Cereal generated a 10% increase in the category volume and a 20% increase in category dollar growth in the

GLENDALE, Calif. -- Nestle here is launching a premium baby cereal in 21 states, based on what the company calls impressive results from a California pilot program.

Because the cereal includes infant formula ingredients, caregivers just mix it with water to prepare.

Nestle Carnation Premium Baby Cereal generated a 10% increase in the category volume and a 20% increase in category dollar growth in the eight months of the test, the company said. In addition, 60% of the first-time purchasers polled made repeat product purchases. The test was conducted in Vons, Ralphs, Safeway, Albertson's, Lucky Stores and Gelson's units.

The new cereal is now available in the West at those stores and at Stater Bros., Hughes and Fred Meyer's stores, and in the East at Food Lion, Winn-Dixie, Piggly Wiggly, Supervalu and Fleming, according to Nestle.

Food Lion, Salisbury, N.C., received several varieties of the product early last month, according to Tawn Earnest, spokeswoman for the chain. "It's too soon to gauge customer comments about the product," she said. Food Lion stores do not have any displays up, but they do have shelf tags that say, "Try me, I'm New," Earnest said.

The product is currently not organically certified, but the company is looking at the possibility of future certification.

Convenience of this transitional food is key, said Rochelle Brown, director of corporate and brand affairs for Nestle.

Other ingredients are included, to make flavors such as Wheat-Yogurt-Raspberry, Mixed Cereal and Mixed Fruit and Rice and Banana. The product also comes in plain rice flavor. Suggested retail price for an 8-ounce canister is $2.99. Nine servings can be made from one canister.

The product rolled out March 24. In the California pilot, the Premium Baby Cereal garnered a 16% category dollar share in San Francisco, and a 10% category dollar share in Los Angeles for the 12 weeks ended March 6, the company said.