Natural Foods Merchandiser

Newmans Own Organics tosses up produce line

Newman?s Own Organics of Aptos, Calif., has jumped into the ring of organic bagged produce, a category that grew 75 percent between 2001 and 2003, according to the company.

The line, called Newman?s Own Organics Fresh Produce, will sell in major naturals, conventional and specialty retail chains throughout the United States. According to company spokeswoman Sally Shepard, once this line takes hold, ?New salads and other fruit and vegetable organic products will be introduced on a regular basis.?

The bags will sport the American Gothic image of Newman?s Own Chief Executive Officer Nell Newman and her ?Pa,? Paul Newman, next to the U.S. Department of Agriculture organic seal.

?[This is] good for the industry to have increased offerings within the [organic foods] category. Increased competition is good, and promoting organic is a win-win for everybody,? said Steve French, principal at the Natural Marketing Institute in Harleysville, Pa. Still, there?s not a lot of room for differentiation among produce brands.

But Newman-branded products offer added value, French said. ?Consumers are trying to identify their morals and ethics with brands that stand for something. Consumers realize that [with Newman?s Own], thousands of dollars go back to charitable causes.? Since 1982, Paul Newman has given away all his profits from the original Newman?s Own line, plus his after-tax royalty payments from Newman?s Own Organics, which is a separate company. All told, the senior Newman has donated more than $150 million to educational and charitable groups, according to the company.

Newman?s Own Organics has partnered with FoodSource Organics, a division of Monterey, Calif.-based FoodSource Inc., which will private-label the produce. Additionally, the company is working with NatureWorks PLA of Minnetonka, Minn., to provide compostable packaging tubs made from non-GMO corn. The complete line of produce includes baby spring mix, baby spinach, herb salad mix, baby romaine, baby arugula, chopped romaine, Italian salad, sweet baby lettuces, hearts of romaine, cut and peeled baby carrots, and regular-size carrots. Products began arriving in select stores in January.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 2/p. 10

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