The introduction of Uncrustables into four test markets by leading jams and jellies marketer J.M. Smucker Co. is an attempt to compete directly with pre-prepared lunch kits, especially leader Kraft Foods' booming $600 million Oscar Mayer Lunchables franchise.
FOUR TO A PACKAGE
Uncrustables, Smucker's first foray into frozen foods, comes in boxes of four peanut butter and grape or peanut butter and strawberry sandwiches that carry a suggested retail price of $2.39 to $2.59.
The sandwiches, with crimped edges to seal in the toppings, are intended to ease busy moms' hectic mornings by allowing them to throw the frozen sandwiches directly into lunch boxes, where they thaw in 30 minutes to an hour.
Smucker's will support the launch with TV advertising from Noble & Associates, Chicago, that begins airing in the initial markets in August. Smucker's $10 million consumer account was awarded to Chicago Creative Partnership in January after Smucker's and Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, parted ways in October. Noble, which handles foodservice ads for Smucker's, took on Uncrustables, in the interim. The product is also available through foodservice.
Uncrustables advertising will employ the long-running theme "With a name like Smucker's, it has to be good," to ease the guilt of time-pressed moms with the promise of convenience and a nutritionally sound lunch.
CHEAPER THAN LUNCHABLES
Priced at less than 65› a sandwich, Uncrustables charge convenience-seeking moms far less of a premium than Lunchables, which retails at prices higher than $3 for a complete lunch.
"When you see all these other items in the meat department and what they're charging, who's to say this one won't sell as well?" said one retail executive.
Like most food companies these days, Smucker's wants to contemporize its traditional package-goods products to meet consumers' increased demands for healthy, easy-to-prepare foods and to increase profit margins while doing so.
Smucker's jam and jelly brands saw sales grow less than 1%, to $265 million, for the year ended March 26. Its peanut butter brands grew more than 5% during that time, but totaled only $24 million, according to Information Resources Inc.
The popularity of Lunchables has sparked a variety of copycats in the $670 million refrigerated lunch category, which grew 3.3% during the last year. ConAgra's Eckrich Lunchmakers grew 64% to $50 million. Private-label refrigerated lunch kits fell 21.1% to $22 million, according to IRI.