Kraft's arabica coffee enters market

NORTHFIELD, Ill. Kraft Foods’ new coffee made with 100 percent arabica beans has entered the market in full force.

Between its full-bodied flavor and heavy promotion, the Maxwell House coffee has become the company’s prime product, as hardier-variety robusta beans, grown mainly in Asia, have been removed from Maxwell House’s flagship brand.

Part of their quality overhaul, new television and print ads for Maxwell House, begun this fall are part of the company’s campaign, Kraft spokeswoman Bridget MacConnell said Tuesday.

MacConnell added that the slogan “It’s a New Morning. Brew Some Good,” reflects the full-flavor of the new product.

Several New York coffee traders questioned the move, however, saying robusta beans are generally less expensive than arabicas and can add flavor to arabica blends.

On Wednesday, Nov. 21, P&G will hand out its new Maxwell House coffee at tollbooths on several U.S. highways, said MacConnell. At these said booths, the company plans to distribute sample packages of Maxwell House brand - enough to make a pot.

“In New York City, we’ll be paying subway fares at select stations” on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, MacConnell said. She also said from Black Friday through Sunday morning, Maxwell House coffee would be given away at shopping malls in 15 U.S. marketing regions.

In late July, Kraft said it intended to eliminate robusta usage in its Maxwell House regular blend by the end of the year under a quality initiative. Procter & Gamble, meanwhile, is sticking with robustas in its Folgers arabica blend coffee, while continuing to innovate blends.

Kraft controlled about 30 percent of the U.S. retail coffee market as of September, while P&G Folgers had 36 percent, according to market researchers A.C. Nielsen.

Kraft Foods in late October hiked its list prices for Maxwell House and Yuban ground, roasted coffee, after increases by Procter & Gamble’s Folgers unit and by Massimo Zanetti Beverage USA, owner of Chock Full o’ Nuts.

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