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Kraft’s arabica coffee enters market

BY Allison Cerra

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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Organic movement bursts into mainstream due to consumer demand

BY Tara Smith

CHICAGO According to the latest report from Mintel, a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media research, Organic food sales have grown 132 percent since 2002, aided by health and food safety concerns, in addition to consumers seeking healthier, natural food options. In the same period, organic beverage sales nearly doubled (97 percent.) Together, the organic food and beverage markets make up a nearly $6 billion industry.

Manufacturers have jumped on the organic bandwagon, with the Mintel Global New Products Database showing 1,600 new organic products launched in the United States in 2006, more than twice the number released in 2002 (732). Retail grocers also have welcomed organics, featuring more than 300 private label products and dedicated entire departments to organic foods.

According to Mintel, 52 percent of Americans purchased organic foods in the past year, with 26 percent purchasing organic beverages—an increase from the 34 percent of consumers who bought organic products in 2002. Additionally, 32 percent of adults report purchasing organic products “as often as possible.” And the market is expected to continue growing. By 2012, organic food sales are expected to rise 59 percent, while organic beverages are projected to grow by 65 percent.

Mintel’s consumer survey also revealed that two-thirds of American said they would buy more organics if the products cost less. This suggests potential interest in private label brands, which offer cheaper prices than traditional brands.

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Cheerios’ reading program puts 5 million books on grocery shelves

BY Tara Smith

MINNEAPOLIS For the sixth year running, Cheerios is putting 5 million children’s books inside boxes of Cheerios cereal as part of its Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program, which kicked off Monday for National Children’s Book Week, Nov. 12-18.

The company is once again working with First Book, an award-winning children’s literacy non-profit, to give a year’s worth of children’s books to 50 reading programs serving disadvantaged children throughout the United States. Over the past six years, Cheerios, a General Mills company, has donated more than $2.5 million to support First Book.

This year’s book offering from Cheerios feature five titles from Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing: “The New Girl … And Me” by Jacqui Robbins; “Everybody Needs a Rock” by Byrd Baylor; “Things that are most in the world by Judi Barrett”; “Do YOU Have a Hat?” by Eileen Spinelli; and “Jakers! Piggley’s Treasure Hunt” adapted by Catherine Lucas. “The New Girl . . . and Me” will be specially printed in both English and Spanish. The books are written for children ages 3 to 8.

One of the paperback books will be available inside each Cheerios cereal box marked “Spoonfuls of Stories,” which will be available on shelves until early spring 2008. The books are specially sized to fit inside the cereal boxes and feature original content and illustrations. Families can seek which book is inside the box through a special cut-out window so they can pick the book they want or collect all five titles. The boxes also will feature information on how to make an online donation to First Book.

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