REFRIGERATED MEAL LINE RECEIVES COOL RESPONSE

GLENDALE, Calif. -- Nestle USA's attempt to inject its Stouffer's brand into the refrigerated take-home entree market is reportedly getting a cool reception from consumers.The new line, called Stouffer's TakeHome Entrees for Two, is available in either the deli or meat departments. Dallas, Denver, Houston, New Orleans and San Antonio, are the test markets, said Nestle spokeswoman Julie Thomas-Lowe.According

GLENDALE, Calif. -- Nestle USA's attempt to inject its Stouffer's brand into the refrigerated take-home entree market is reportedly getting a cool reception from consumers.

The new line, called Stouffer's TakeHome Entrees for Two, is available in either the deli or meat departments. Dallas, Denver, Houston, New Orleans and San Antonio, are the test markets, said Nestle spokeswoman Julie Thomas-Lowe.

According to industry sources, the program is installed at chains that include Gerland's Food Fair and Randalls Food Markets, Houston; Schwegmann Giant Super Markets, New Orleans; and Albertson's North Texas division in Fort Worth.

Retailer representatives contacted by SN said the line is priced between $4 and $6, packaged in cardboard boxes resembling Chinese restaurant take-home containers.

Although the items are tasty, they have not been selling well, said the supermarket executives. They blamed a lack of trade support from Nestle, as well as high price points.

"Unless they start selling a lot better, we won't keep them for very long," said an executive at one of the chains testing the program in the Southwest. "They are excellent products, but I don't think [Nestle is] doing very much in the way of educating the public that there's enough in there for two people."

An executive at another Southwestern chain said he has been carrying the entrees for about three months, but with little in the way of positive results. "They didn't have any kind of consumer acceptance. Maybe they're perceived as being a little too expensive," he said.

The entrees are available in eight varieties: sweet and sour pork, kung pao chicken, ginger chicken, chicken and garlic risotto, shrimp primavera, seafood gumbo, shrimp creole and chicken and sausage jambalaya.