PORTLAND, Ore. -- Fred Meyer Inc. here has introduced a line of premium-quality soft drinks under the new Fred's Choice name.
Fred's Choice is initially available in 12-ounce cans in cola, diet cola, black cherry, root beer, orange and lemon lime flavors. It was introduced in Fred Meyer stores in Idaho, Utah, Oregon and Washington in late May. In June the rollout was extended to Fred Meyer stores in Alaska, California and Montana.
Curt Lerew, senior vice president and director of the food division at Fred Meyer, told SN Fred's Choice has been doing "extremely well" since its introduction.
He described Fred's Choice as "an absolutely good, quality product. It is a Cott Beverage formula, which matches up well with the branded soda pops."
Fred Meyer also carries the President's Choice line of premium private-label grocery products, which are licensed and sourced by Loblaw Cos., Toronto. President's Choice includes a line of soft drinks created by Cott.
"Fred's Choice is a new, value-added addition to the pop section. We still carry President's Choice," Lerew said, adding that the addition of Fred's Choice hasn't put a damper on sales of President's Choice soft drinks.
"The majority of the sales of Fred's Choice is coming from the branded sales. It actually didn't impact President's Choice," he said, noting that Fred's Choice is priced below President's Choice and the national brands.
"Fred's Choice has a low-end, bare bones price point of under $1 a six-pack every day, and under $4 a case."
The brand is designed to take a swipe at national soft drink manufacturers, some of whom have been making fun of private labels in their television commercials.
"Some big brands are trying to convince consumers that 'social sensitivity' should replace 'value consciousness' and use advertising targeting corporate brands as being cheap and unbelievable. So I decided to bring Fred's Choice to life and let consumers see for themselves what it's like to save money and still get fabulous taste. After all, here's a case where 'a penny saved is a penny earned' without sacrifice. The upside potential is unlimited," Lerew said.
"We had in-store product demos, where we compared it against Pepsi. We had drawings and gave away baseball caps. It is all kind of focused around a baseball motif, as the can is designed. It is sort of like a 'Field of Dreams,' " he said. On the cans the Fred's Choice logo is in a diamond that is set against a striped background reminiscent of an outfield fence.
To further support Fred's Choice, "we're going to launch a promotion for tickets to the World Series," Lerew said.
Fred Meyer plans on eventually expanding Fred's Choice soft drinks to 2-liter and 16- or 24-ounce bottles, although there are no current plans to expand the name to other product categories in the store, Lerew said.