MONTVALE, N.J. -- A&P here is boosting the profile and sales of selected grocery items at its upscale Food Emporium units by using color-coded shelf talkers that label them as "natural" or "organic."
The shelf talkers were first introduced to the New York-area Food Emporium chain about six months ago, and have been gradually expanded. They are now used to identify about 600 grocery items throughout the store, said A&P officials.
"We decided to install [more of] the natural and organic tags after observing customer reactions and our sales," explained William Vitulli, vice president of government and community relations at A&P.
"Our customers are very concerned about the food they eat. There is an aversion to additives, and people with high blood pressure don't want sodium in their diet. Given today's climate we just feel that this is another necessary service."
Vitulli said the chain turned to specialty vendors as resources for the program. "The merchandising comes in from many sources, like health food suppliers. People that manufacture products that are 100% natural or organic give us confirmation in writing that the product is indeed organic."
Grocery products bearing tags vary widely, but tend toward specialty items. In a Food Emporium unit in midtown Manhattan, for example, the red shelf tags designating "organic" were used for products such as Gerolsteimer mineral water, Master Choice Woodland Berries Granola, Muir Glen canned tomato juice and four different varieties of Eden canned beans.
Products sporting a yellow "natural" tag include Anne's Original 1850 salad dressing, Love Snacks assorted nuts and seeds, Dessaux wine vinegars, assorted Pastillines and Go Lightly candies, Master Choice granola, Mother's instant oatmeal and oat bran, Kashi puffed cereal, Bell anchovies fillets, Carr's Table Water crackers, Royal Blend rice, Dutch Gold honey, Chambord preserves and Wilkin & Sons Ltd. preserves.
"In the jams and jellies sections there are products that have sugars and preservatives added, and then there are products that are 100% natural with just the juice to give it sweetener. We can then say that those products are natural," Vitulli said.
He said the tags have been well-received by Food Emporium shoppers.
"We talked to the store managers and asked them for comments and observations, to see if customers do favor that kind of information and how the sales react to it, and it has been favorable," he said.
"The Food Emporiums are upscale stores where we have many gourmet items that other stores don't carry. People that shop there are very cognizant about this kind of information," he added.