ELIZABETH, N.J. -- Wakefern Food Corp. here is using in-store sampling, cross merchandising, front-end coupons and food service sell-through to promote its new brand of Melitta bulk coffee.
Wakefern, the cooperative wholesaler that serves as the distribution and merchandising arm of ShopRite Supermarkets, switched to Melitta from Brothers Coffee in April. Melitta coffee is currently being stocked in the produce section of some 150 ShopRite stores.
Officials at Wakefern could not be reached for comment, but Victor Altadonna, national sales manager for Melitta North America, Clearwater, Fla., said the company has signed a three-year contract with Wakefern.
Melitta, which has been in the coffee business for more than 30 years, began rolling out its whole-bean program in earnest during the past two years, Altadonna said. In addition to ShopRite, Melitta's bulk coffees are also sold in Meijer's, DeMoulas/Market Basket, Treasure Island, Food City and Albertson's stores in Florida.
Wakefern displays more than 70 stock-keeping units of bulk coffee, whole-bean coffee in 9-ounce bags, 1.75-ounce ground mini-bricks and Melitta flavored coffee syrups. The merchandising unit also houses a self-service grinder. In most ShopRite stores, Melitta coffee is sold out of the produce aisle.
"For the past 11 years that ShopRite has sold bulk coffee, it has been merchandised out of the produce aisle," Altadonna said. "Consumers are used to shopping it there, so it's not a problem."
He further noted that for the first time, Melitta will be cross merchandising coffee with its paper coffee filters via Catalina Checkout Coupons.
"The promotion will be something like 'buy two boxes of Melitta filter paper and you receive a Checkout Coupon off the coffee," Altadonna said.
Additional promotion will be provided by a Melitta sampling van -- which will visit new store openings -- and a fresh-brewed coffee by-the-cup in the food-service operation.
"We'll aggressively go after the food-service business," Altadonna said. "We'll also be installing kiosks that sell espresso drinks, iced coffees and specialty coffee drinks. We're in the final stages of negotiations, and they'll be placed in four stores."
The presence of the food service is expected to funnel sales back into the grocery end of the business through increased sales of specialty coffees and flavored syrups, Altadonna said.