NEW YORK — Food Emporium here, in partnership with a new Italian cheese consortium, has launched a cheese promotion that is expected to roll out to other food retailers across the country.
The products involved are Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano, two hard cheeses that have European Union Protected Designation of Origin status. The two varieties had long been rivals but have come together for the new marketing consortium. Buonitalia, a Rome-based government agency that seeks to promote authentic Italian products, is supporting the promotion, along with the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.
Food Emporium, a division of Montvale, N.J.-based A&P, is launching the promotion with in-store sampling, signage and endcap displays, and will tie the cheeses into its “Taste of Italy” promotion scheduled for the first two weeks of May, Michael Corsello, senior merchant, Center Store, told SN at an event celebrating the launch of the tie-in.
“This will give us a chance to promote true Italian cheeses,” he said, noting that shelf tags will explain the authenticity of the products.
To launch the cheese consortium's efforts in the U.S., Buonitalia and Food Emporium partnered with Madison Square Garden, home of New York City's professional basketball and hockey teams. It is Food Emporium's first partnership with the fabled entertainment venue.
“We saw this as a chance to do some grass-roots marketing, and to speak to the everyday consumers who come to basketball games,” Corsello said.
The promotion of the new cheese partnership is slated to roll out to other food retailers around the country, including Costco Wholesale, Whole Foods Market and Wegmans Food Markets. About 30 chains operating more than 1,500 stores will be involved, Buonitalia said.
The effort is designed to help consumers distinguish authentic Italian products from “those products that have Italian-sounding names,” Buonitalia officials said.
Corsello of Food Emporium noted that the Italian foods promotion is one of seven “Taste of” campaigns the chain has scheduled this year. The campaigns, he explained, seek to promote unique products that are not otherwise readily available to customers and that further the banner's reputation as an authority on specialty and gourmet foods.