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SAFEWAY LINE OFFERS DINNERS FOR TWO

DENVER -- Safeway has extended its Safeway Select Gourmet Club brand to cover healthier meal options in the frozens case.The chain has been rolling out a line of frozen dinners for two under its Eating Right label, taking a better-for-you approach by prominently displaying fat grams and calorie counts on the front of the ice-blue package.For example, the Chicken Basil Sausage Pasta dinner has nine

DENVER -- Safeway has extended its Safeway Select Gourmet Club brand to cover healthier meal options in the frozens case.

The chain has been rolling out a line of frozen dinners for two under its Eating Right label, taking a better-for-you approach by prominently displaying fat grams and calorie counts on the front of the ice-blue package.

For example, the Chicken Basil Sausage Pasta dinner has nine grams of fat and 330 calories, and was priced at $4.99 for a 21-ounce box during a recent visit by SN to a unit in Colorado Springs, Colo. Customers using the Safeway card when purchasing the products get a dollar off, according to a store circular from the Washington, D.C., area.

Executives at Safeway could not be reached for comment.

Along with the new products is a sweepstakes that will award a $20,000 wardrobe for two, which runs through the end of the year. Consumers are automatically entered when they buy a dinner-for-two using the Safeway card.

The new dinners come in eight flavors, each with five to nine grams of fat per serving. "It's clear they are trying to address the Lean Cuisines of the world, so in that way it's nothing really new," an industry source familiar with private-label products told SN.

"It's aimed at today's professionals who both get home at 7:30 at night," he continued. "The jury is still out on a lot of this stuff. Frozens is a great category because you can experiment, and if you find a winner, great. You're good for a year or so until the next thing comes along."

The dinner-for-two trend is not necessarily new territory in frozens. Bertolli, owned by Unilever Bestfoods, also makes frozen dinners for two, but with no attempt to reduce fat or calories. The Italian dishes, also in eight varieties, cost more, at $6.99 to $7.49 for 24-ounce pouches.