PORTLAND, Ore. -- Fred Meyer Inc. here is using shelf-stable Mexican foods as an ingredient to fuel home-meal replacement growth in its stores.
The chain has teamed with Kraft Foods to promote Kraft's 24 stockkeeping-unit line of Taco Bell meal kits, salsas, hot sauces and components, like canned refried beans and taco shells. The line was introduced to Fred Meyer last June and has been backed with massive in-store displays, as well as cooperative ads that tie in other, ancillary Kraft products, including cheeses, sour cream and Minute Rice.
"Mexican food items are an important home-meal replacement item," said Mike Ellis, vice president of merchandising at Fred Meyer. "It encourages the customer to shop the whole store."
Ellis refers to simple-to-prepare Center Store items like the Mexican foods as "stretch items" because they help to expand the customers' shopping basket with related purchases.
Ellis said the supermarket industry needs more simple-to-prepare packaged foods if it is to remain competitive with HMR forces.
Lance Friedman, vice president of marketing and strategy at Kraft's Northfield, Ill., headquarters, said Kraft is working to further simplify the HMR process by placing easy-to-follow picture directions on its boxes. Kraft is also developing point-of-sale materials that will help consumers better understand the components of a Mexican meal.
"The kind of easy meal solutions our Mexican dinner kits offer drive growth for both Center Store and the perimeter. That is where the opportunity lies," Friedman noted.