W.J. Clark & Co. is introducing its seven-item Kitchen del Sol line to partake of the growing popularity of Mediterranean restaurants and prepared food items.
"This product is going to help us shoot through the roof," said VP-Marketing Ann McBeth.
The line consists of a three-flavor line of rice dishes, to be introduced Oct. 1, and four flavors of couscous, on sale since midsummer. The products are priced at about $2.49 for a box that makes six half-cup servings, and are borrowed from Italian, Spanish, Greek, Moroccan and other Mediterranean cuisines. They include Aegean Citrus Couscous with red bell pepper, parsley and spinach with a lemon vinaigrette, and Tomato Basil Pilaf Rice.
Marketing support consists primarily of peel-off coupons and in-store demonstrations, Ms. McBeth said. She said the package's design, created in-house with assistance from free-lance package designer Sarah Fisher, is the line's chief marketing vehicle.
Clark is moving in at a time when sales in the couscous and rice pilaf categories are booming.
Sales of prepared couscous dishes last year rose 34% to about $5.7 million, while rice pilafs boomed nearly 50% to $39 million, reported Information Resources Inc.
Quaker Oats Co.'s Near East brand is among the leaders in the two categories, but Ms. McBeth said Clark has an advantage with a mix of more unusual flavors and a "wet pouch" of ingredients added to each box.
Ms. Gallagher is an associate editor with Crain's Chicago Business.