DEL MONTE COOKING UP PASTA SAUCE;D'ITALIA FORGOES BROAD CAMPAIGN FOR IN-STORE AND FSIS

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Del Monte Foods is stirring the pasta sauce market with a new line called D'Italia.

D'Italia reaches stores in March and, in a somewhat unusual move, will receive no broad consumer advertising, relying instead on in-store promotion and newspaper free standing inserts.

In another novel idea, a Lands' End promotion for its Corporate Sales catalog appearing today in The Wall Street Journal will feature Del Monte VP Ed Bernegger in a testimonial. It resulted from Del Monte's use of the Lands' End corporate catalog for D'Italia's introduction to the retail trade.

McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco, is the Del Monte agency.

The Del Monte product-in cans rather than jars-goes up against ConAgra's sagging Hunt-Wesson and other value-price brands. But the line goes upscale a bit with such varieties as Spicy Red Pepper, Four Cheese, Tomato & Basil and Classic Marinara, all with fresh crushed tomatoes.

"There's a lot of action in the value segment," said Paul Kelly, president, Silvermine Consulting.

The $1.3 billion pasta sauce category grew 6.6% for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 3, according to Information Resources Inc. Del Monte showed the second-highest growth, up 22.4% to $36.3 million and a 2.8% share.

Prince Co. led in growth, with a 26% increase to $125.9 million and 10.7% share; while Hunt-Wesson fell 7.5% to $136.5 million and a 10.7%.

RAGU LEADS THE WAY

Unilever's Ragu Foods is far and away the market leader, with 35.9% share and sales growth of 6.6% to $458.7 million. Despite that, an agency review for the $20 million Ragu ad account has begun, with Ammirati Puris Lintas and Ogilvy & Mather competing with incumbent J. Walter Thompson USA, all New York.

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