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PRIVATE LABEL Safeway

Safeway, the nation's fourth-largest food retailer behind Wal-Mart Stores, Kroger and Costco Wholesale, is also in the top tier when it comes to health and wellness initiatives. The chain is midway through converting all of its stores to its extremely successful format, which includes higher-quality perishables, more service and a larger selection of natural and organics. Among the mix are two multicategory

Safeway, the nation's fourth-largest food retailer behind Wal-Mart Stores, Kroger and Costco Wholesale, is also in the top tier when it comes to health and wellness initiatives. The chain is midway through converting all of its stores to its extremely successful “lifestyle” format, which includes higher-quality perishables, more service and a larger selection of natural and organics.

Among the mix are two multicategory private labels devoted to wellness: O Organics and Eating Right. O, introduced with 151 products in early 2006, most recently expanded to the baby aisle in March, with products for infants and toddlers, bringing the total under the label to more than 250 items.

“O Organics is USDA-certified organic products that are produced without the use of pesticides, hormones or artificial preservatives,” noted Teena Massingill, a spokeswoman for the Pleasanton, Calif.-based chain of more than 1,700 stores.

In reviewing the market, officials have continued to look for opportunities. They found it in the middle ground, among a sizeable contingent of mainstream consumers.

“Eating Right is a line of better-for-you foods created to help consumers address specific nutritional needs,” said Massingill. “The Eating Right packaging has our ‘Spot Your Needs’ system to communicate the attributes of the product.”

As such, one package might have a blue spot on the package with the words, “Low fat” or a red spot with the words, “Made with whole grains.” Other attributes in the Spot Your Needs system currently include low cholesterol, no sugar added, high in protein and high in fiber.

“Eating Right targets specific consumer dietary needs,” Massingill added. “Therefore, the products must meet a specific criteria, which prohibits the use of trans fats and have at least one of the Spot Your Needs nutritional benefits.”

Safeway's lifestyle stores heavily promote both lines, marketed under the chain's “Ingredients for Life” campaign, launched in 2005. The labels will continue to be integrated throughout the store, providing multiple consumer impressions with their presence as a healthful food option, as well as a store brand representing — and reinforcing — the Safeway name.