Kraft takes Jell-O into snack bars

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Kraft Foods is infiltrating the growing snack bar category for the first time with a new line of Jell-O branded bars called Dessert Delights.

Kraft has extended Jell-O well beyond its initial role as a gelatin, moving the brand into refrigerated desserts, puddings and baking mixes. But the new line of individual shelf-stable bars is the megabrand's first foray into the booming handheld snacks arena, a $1.2 billion category that has been growing by double digits.

The Jell-O Dessert Delights, cakelike crusts topped with a choice of cheesecake, lemon or chocolate fudge pudding fillings, will be launched in June in six markets -- among them Chicago, Dallas and New York -- that Kraft found had particularly high incidences of sweet snacking. Kraft will assess a possible national rollout on an ongoing basis.

"We're positioning Dessert Delights as a rich and satisfying taste of your favorite dessert in a bar that's ready to enjoy anytime, anywhere," said Kimberly Shells, brand manager for Dessert Delights. "When people think of Jell-O, they think of good-tasting and sweet snacking; and, given how our product is positioned, it's an important equity to carry along."

Unlike the bulk of Jell-O products, which are all-family oriented, Dessert Delights will be targeted strictly to adults of both sexes who are looking for an indulgent snack.

An estimated $10 million ad campaign will run on spot TV from Aug. 5 through the end of October and in regional issues of women's magazines from August through November. The ads, from Y&R Advertising, New York, will focus on communicating the taste and indulgence of the new products as well as their convenience, "the top two reasons that consumers choose a snack," Ms. Shells said. Newspaper inserts, point-of-purchase materials and kraftfoods.com's special Jell-O area will also support the launch.

The trend toward convenient, no-preparation snacks has fueled the snack and granola bar category, which grew 12.6% in grocery stores, drugstores and mass merchandisers for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 27, according to Information Resources Inc.

Kraft earlier this year acknowledged that growth with its acquisition of Balance Bar Co. Nestle followed suit with its purchase of PowerBar, and Quaker Oats Co. recently introduced a line of Gatorade-branded snack bars.

FOLLOWING KELLOGG

Kellogg Co. leads the category with sales for its Nutri-Grain and Rice Krispies Treats brand, up 10.6% to $338 million for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 27, according to IRI. Quaker Oats is No. 2, with sales for its Quaker Chewy Granola Bars and Fruit & Oatmeal bars growing 15.1% to $209 million.

Kraft spent $68 million in media against the Jell-O brand in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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