Unified Grocers has just introduced a healthful line of private-label deli meats and cheeses to its more than 2,000 member stores located on the West Coast. In doing so, it hopes to give a healthful boost to some traditionally indulgent prepared-food items.
Labeled Kitchen Chef Healthy Deli, the products are all low-fat, low-sodium and contain no cholesterol or MSG. The Los Angeles-based wholesaler worked with deli manufacturer Hansel & Gretel of Glendale, N.Y., for more than a year in developing the offerings, and then unveiled everything at its June food expo in Long Beach, Calif. Unified is currently working on signing up member stores for distribution of the new products.
According to Dan Murphy, senior vice president of sales and marketing and retail support services, this is a healthy, one-of-a-kind promotion for its members and the industry as a whole.
“We wanted to offer them great quality at a value, and we're keying in on the health and wellness needs of the consumer,” Murphy said. “Flavor is very important, and this is a high-quality product that eats as well as Boar's Head or any of the other premium lines out there.”
For Hansel & Gretel, this marks the latest addition to its more than 60 deli meat products, nearly half of which meet or surpass the American Heart Association's qualifications for a heart-healthy diet. For Unified, the Kitchen Chef Healthy Deli line is another step in elevating its health and wellness profile. In May, the company introduced Natural Directions, a natural and organic private-label line that includes 120 frozen, refrigerated and dry grocery products. Unified hopes to expand selection and distribution of Natural Directions in the coming months.
The time could be right for both the Healthy Deli and Natural Directions lines to take off. According to the Private Label Manufacturers Association, sales of private-label products grew by $600 million last year for a total of $45.5 billion.