STATER BROS. ADOPTS 'HEARTLAND' BRAND FOR SUBSIDIARY

CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. -- Santee Dairies here, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stater Bros. Holdings, Colton, Calif., said last week it has changed its name to Heartland Farms.The new name "better describes the marketing focus of the company as we prepare for our future," Paul Bikowitz, president and chief operating officer, explained.The use of the word "Heartland" reflects one of the advertising

CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. -- Santee Dairies here, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stater Bros. Holdings, Colton, Calif., said last week it has changed its name to Heartland Farms.

The new name "better describes the marketing focus of the company as we prepare for our future," Paul Bikowitz, president and chief operating officer, explained.

The use of the word "Heartland" reflects one of the advertising reference points for Stater Bros. Markets, which said its stores -- located primarily in the area of Southern California known as the Inland Empire -- are in "the heartland."

Bill Finstermaker, chief financial officer for Heartland, told SN the company plans to use the Heartland name on products, "but that possibility is still somewhere down the road."

Heartland supplies private-label products to Ralphs under the Ralphs and Mountain Dairy labels and to Stater Bros. under the Stater and Valu-Time labels, Finstermaker said.

The dairy produces 70 million gallons of milk and juices per year, including milk under the Knudsen and Foremost labels, refrigerated juices under the Sunkist label, and iced tea under the Arnold Palmer TEE label. Santee also is under contract to produce Welch's grape juices, Trader Joe juices and Newman's Own lemonade for West Coast customers, Finstermaker said.

Santee was established in 1986 as a partnership between Stater Bros. and Hughes Market, which took over a dairy facility in downtown Los Angeles that had been operated by Knudsen, which had gone out of business. The operation was named Santee Dairies because Santee was one of the cross streets of the facility, Finstermaker said.

The dairy moved to a new facility here in 1998.

Over the years, Ralphs Grocery Co. acquired Hughes, and Ralphs was ultimately acquired by Kroger Co., which sold its interest to Stater last February.