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A&P Kids' PL and Beyond

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Give today’s kids some credit. According to a recent restaurant report from the NPD Group, they’re turning down unhealthy kids’ meals (orders are down 11%), and the toys that come with them, in favor of healthier, more sophisticated fare. Sure, they still love pizza and hamburgers and French fries; but they’re also coming around to things like yogurt (+21%), fruit (+6%) and grilled chicken sandwiches (+26%).

bagels.jpgThis specific report reflects restaurant habits — but the results apply to the entire food industry, and supermarkets like A&P are getting the message loud and clear. The Montvale, New Jersey-based retailer just rolled out a new riff on its America’s Choice private label line called “America’s Choice Kids”, developed in cooperation with registered dietitians. The products, all of which are low in saturated fat and high in vitamins and fiber and whole grains, are a mix of healthy twists on the typical snack and drink box favorites, and more grown-up items like whole-wheat bagels and soy butter.

Me, I’m trying to imagine childhood without a Happy Meal. But for A&P, all of this represents another step in the right direction. After 150 years in business, the chain has undergone some major changes, the most recent being its private label expansion. This spring, the chain debuted its new Green Way natural and organic line of sauces, condiments and produce. There are several sizes of reusable bags, including lunch totes.

In a recent earnings call, A&P CEO Eric Claus emphasized that the company is rebranding and repositioning its private label line — getting it into fighting form, in other words. That’s crucial for the company, given the economy and the steps their competition has made.

Now, A&P sells 2,500 private label products across its 10 store brands. A bit late to the game, sure, but never too late to succeed.

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