Disney signs first-time retailer healthy foods deal

Disney Consumer Products has signed a deal with major US retailer Kroger that will see the supermarket chain stocking more than 100 Walt Disney-branded healthy foods and beverages. Called Disney Magic Selections, the co-branded items will have 12 categories including water, low-sugar juices, milk, fruit, vegetables, pasta, soup, bread, yoghurt, meat, cheese, and 'portion-control snacks' such as ice cream and biscuits.

It is the first time Disney has licensed with a food retailer for its own-store brand of products. The move comes as scrutiny intensifies over childhood obesity and the use of cartoon characters on foods marketed to children. Disney characters that will be featured on the products include Dash Parr (The Incredibles) Woody and Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story), Mike Wazowski (Monsters, Inc), Tigger, Winnie the Pooh, and Mickey Mouse.

Disney's Magic Selections will become the Ohio-based supermarket chain's private label for children in its 2500-plus US stores. It is the second biggest retailer in the US, after Wal-Mart.

"The line?will feature numerous items with significantly improved formulations offering controlled levels of calories, fat and sugar," Kroger said in a statement. "Almost all of the products during the initial launch will contain 0 grams of trans fat, and the target is for all Disney Magic Selections-branded food products to meet this goal by the end of 2007."

"This program with Kroger is especially exciting because it combines the leading grocer in the country with the world's most-popular family entertainment brand to bring an affordable product line to market that kids will enjoy and parents will trust, " said Harry Dolman, executive vice president of Disney Consumer Products for food, health and beauty.

Ken Harris, an analyst at Illinois-based Cannondale Associates told Brandweek magazine, "There's no disconnect here. What you're seeing is major properties like Disney recognising the power of retailers' private-label brands and their willingness to market their properties with them. This signals a clue of things to come."

Disney has co-branded before including a collaboration with Kellogg's on some breakfast cereals two years ago, but the cereals carried a significant premium and the partnership faltered after six months as sales flatlined. Disney Magic Selections will not carry price premiums and certain products will feature a Mickey Mouse 'thumbs up' logo such as '0 Grams Trans Fat,' 'Made with Whole Grains,' and 'No Preservatives.'

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