SPRINGFIELD, Conn. — It may have started out as a Safeway private label, but Eating Right is now standing on its own outside the company as Big Y readies for the second phase of a rollout, and as Price Chopper, Hy-Vee and others start offering the line.
Big Y was the first retailer outside Safeway to start offering the brand when it rolled out 64 items in December. Current offerings include frozens, cereal, cookies, pasta and soup, said Phill Schneider, Center Store vice president.
Since then, Hy-Vee, West Des Moines, Iowa, has started selling Eating Right products in some of its stores, said chain spokeswoman Christine Friesleben.
She declined to elaborate, except to say that Hy-Vee wants to meet the needs of the growing number of consumers making more conscientious decisions when it comes to their food purchases.
“It is essential that all of us in the food industry do everything we can to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime,” Friesleben told SN.
Meanwhile, Price Chopper, Schenectady, N.Y., has introduced select Eating Right frozens. Last week's Price Chopper circular advertised Eating Right frozen entrees and waffles at $2.59 each.
Set to begin next month, Phase 2 of the Big Y rollout involves adding an additional 30 to 40 items, including frozen waffles, biscotti, soy crisps, and additional varieties of cereal, salad dressing and nutrition bars. Phase 2 will also give the brand greater presence in perimeter departments with such offerings as hummus, yogurt and lunch meats. A third wave is possible, but most likely will not happen this year, Schneider said.
The line is already resonating with Big Y consumers, with particularly strong response to zero-calorie flavored water, pasta, pasta sauce and frozen entrees, he noted.
“It's performing above expectations and is adding incremental sales,” Schneider said.
Introduced in spring 2007, Eating Right is a 250-plus-item line of better-for-you foods representing more than 20 categories. All product packaging features color-coded spots that identify dietary benefits, such as high fiber, low sodium, low fat and multi-grain.
Big Y liked the fact that the color-coded spots make it easy for shoppers to understand the dietary attributes of the products.
“Eating Right caught our eye because it states nutritional dietary needs very easily,” Schneider said.
Another selling point was that the line's unique positioning has a balance between taste, nutrition and cost.
“This is geared to consumers who want to make healthier choices, but want to have the taste they're used to,” he said.
Big Y decided to offer the line after attending a presentation about it from Lucerne Foods, a wholly owned subsidiary of Safeway that markets Eating Right and O Organics, an organics line that also originated as a Safeway private label.
Big Y liked the fact that Eating Right started out as an exclusive Safeway brand, because this meant it had a proven track record, Schneider said. Eating Right had more than $200 million in sales last year.
“[Lucerne] is not going to sell you something that won't sell,” he said.
Lucerne is a member of the Better Living Brands Alliance, a consortium Safeway formed to market O Organics and Eating Right to domestic and international retailers, as well as foodservice operations. The alliance includes manufacturing, marketing and distribution companies as brand licensees.
Along with Eating Right, select U.S. retailers are also selling O Organics, according to Alex Petrov, president of Lucerne Foods and chair of the Better Living Brands Alliance. Petrov declined to identify them.
He said both brands provide a turnkey health solution for food retailers.
“We give them access to proven brands that are supported with a full marketing program,” Petrov said.
Big Y isn't offering O Organics, because it's pleased with the success of its Full Circle private-label organics line, according to Schneider.
Petrov said the fact that Eating Right started out as a private label gives it a strong advantage in the marketplace.
“Because the brand was incubated in a retailer, we were able to gain insight and create products that fulfill unmet consumer needs,” he told SN.
Retailers like the fact that the color-coded spots concept lets consumers choose the benefits they want in a product.
“Many people are confused when shopping for health and wellness products,” Petrov said. “This simplifies the shopping experience.”