SEWELL-ALLEN SETS CANNED ORGANIC LINE IN PRODUCE

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Sewell-Allen Piggly Wiggly will start merchandising canned organic vegetables and other organic products in the produce department of one store here as a test, betting that consumers will make the link in their minds between fresh produce and canned. The test will start in April and last at least six months.If successful, the concept will be applied to the five or six other stores

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Sewell-Allen Piggly Wiggly will start merchandising canned organic vegetables and other organic products in the produce department of one store here as a test, betting that consumers will make the link in their minds between fresh produce and canned. The test will start in April and last at least six months.

If successful, the concept will be applied to the five or six other stores in the Sewell-Allen group that make sense, said Barry Maddox, director of marketing for the 12-store group, which includes two price-impact stores and 10 Piggly Wiggly units. The Midtown store that will inaugurate the test is the largest in the group, with 70,000 square feet total.

The organic products will be "mainly a pretty good line of Eden; then we're going to add things like soup in meal cups and probably even natural snacks," Maddox said. Communicating the news to customers will be done primarily with in-store elements such as signage and shelf talkers as well as ads in the circular. The canned goods will be merchandised on Metro racks in the produce department, and some subtle decor changes may be made. "This store layout begins with produce, so people will be funnelled toward it," he said.

Currently, almost all these products are being carried, but integrated in traditional sections, and they tend to get lost in this particular store, Maddox said. Some rice mixes and certain side dishes from other manufacturers will most likely be included, too, he said.

The stores are supplied by Fleming.