NEW YORK -- As benefits from Efficient Consumer Response advances surface, supermarket operators are investing more heavily in meeting consumer needs. This year, leading companies plan to sharpen their customer focus by bolstering perishables, prepared meals, private-label items and in-store service offerings and stepping up customer service and locally directed marketing, according to executives who spoke at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette's Food Retailing Conference here last week. A ...

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