MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- Jewel Food Stores here, which has been testing a new line of Sara Lee fresh entrees, side dishes and sandwiches at 10 Chicago stores, will roll the test out to another 45 stores within the month.
"We're happy with the results in these 10 stores, but they're not really enough to get a good reading on the products," said Karen Ramos, Jewel Food Stores' manager of public relations.
Sixteen products were introduced in 10 Jewel stores between late January and early February.
Jewel officials weren't concerned that the prepackaged entrees and side dishes would compete with deli or hot food items already available in their stores, Ramos said.
"These complement what we already have. Customers can buy our rotisserie chicken and a Sara Lee side dish," she said.
Called Sara Lee Today's Selection the home-meal replacement line was developed "based on recommendations that this kind of product is something supermarkets would be interested in. So far, every response from consumers has been very positive," said Marc Legrois, group product manager for Sara Lee Today's Selection.
Packaged in domed, microwave-only plastic containers, the single-serve portions are being merchandised adjacent to in-store delis.
Sara Lee is also marketing the new products through in-store demonstrations and with high-profile point-of-sale information and signs that capitalize on the Sara Lee brand, said Legrois. Sara Lee's brand visibility and equity are considered an advantage for these products, he said.
The company anticipates testing the products in more stores in Chicago and other areas. Legrois said Sara Lee had no deadline for final evaluation of test marketing results, but said the company is currently charting sales and interviewing consumers about the products, and will continue to do so as they become more widely introduced.
The products are never frozen, but Legrois wouldn't reveal details about packaging atmosphere.
The four entrees in the Sara Lee Today's Selection line are rotisserie turkey breast, pasta primavera, lemon herb chicken breast, and smoked ham with pineapple honey sauce.
The eight side dishes are oven-roasted seasoned potatoes, seasoned long grain and wild rice, three-cheese macaroni, garlic mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, glazed carrots, steamed vegetable medley, and cheesy broccoli and rice.
The sandwiches are peppered turkey and natural Swiss cheese on a multigrain hoagie roll, honey ham and natural Swiss cheese on a rye kaiser roll, ham and turkey with natural smoked provolone on a focaccia bun, and smoked turkey and natural cheddar cheese on a sesame kaiser roll.
Bil Mar recommended price points for the items were $3.99 for the entrees and sandwiches, and $1.99 for the side dishes.
The entree weights range from 6 ounces to 10.75 ounces. Sandwich portions weigh between 7.5 ounces and 8.75 ounces. Side dishes weigh between 4.25 ounces and 5.25 ounces.