Kashi moves into the TV dinner aisle

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Double-digit sales gains for Kellogg's Kashi Co. unit have prompted the all-natural grains marketer to expand into a new category: frozen meals.

Kashi has boomed over the last year in its primary cereal category and, after expanding into granola bars and frozen waffles, has seen sales spike 23.6% to $189 million for the 52 weeks ended April 16 in food, drug and mass outlets excluding Wal-Mart, according to Information Resources figures. Armed with that success, the one-time niche player is moving to tackle new frontiers, including the nearly $5 billion frozen dinners and entrees category.

"When we do research with Kashi consumers, we know they're eating frozen foods and are dissatisfied with the current offerings," said Jeff Johnson, a nutritionist and brand manager of the new Kashi Frozen Entrees. Kashi's six-product frozen lineup that bows in mid-July includes Black Bean Mango, Lime Cilantro Shrimp and Chicken Pasta Pomodoro varieties, all paired with the original seven-whole-grain and sesame pilaf that the company was built on.

According to Mr. Johnson, there has been "an obvious gap" in the frozen section for brands that offer what he calls "positive nutrition," which focuses on putting good ingredients in rather than taking bad stuff out.

Kashi's 2006 ad campaign has made way for the brand's extension, with a focus on the overall Kashi umbrella brand rather than on separate sub-brands such as GoLean and Heart to Heart that commanded the lion's share of Kashi's $36 million 2005 media budget, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. The campaign, from Amazon, San Francisco, plays up the company's origins with the tagline, "Seven whole grains on a mission." The entrees will likely be integrated into that campaign and will also be featured prominently on Kashi's "Day of Change" mobile wellness tour.
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