NABISCO USES KNOX GELATIN TO JUMP INTO NUTRACEUTICALS

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Count Nabisco Foods among the major marketers scrambling to embrace nutraceuticals.

Nabisco's rollout of Knox NutraJoint, a powder dietary supplement aimed at strengthening joint and bone cartilage, will be the first of several such products from the company.

Encouraged by the rapid growth of its SnackWell's low-fat snack line, Nabisco said it intends to "move beyond wellness" with nutraceuticals, the term for foods that deliver health benefits (AA, Dec. 2).

"We're looking at an aggressive push" into nutraceuticals, said a spokesman, noting that Nabisco plans a few similar line extensions this year and at least two major launches in 1998.

He said most of the company's brand groups are now engaged in finding nutraceutical product opportunities but wouldn't give specifics.

BENEFITS OF GELATIN

Nabisco's maiden launch into the category was actually fortuitous, the spokesman said, noting that the benefits of gelatin for bones and joints have long been known. It took merely a slight reformulation to its gelatin line and application of existing science.

Knox NutraJoint will be the first product marketed with this particular positioning in the U.S., Nabisco claimed, though similar products exist in other countries.

Initially, the product is aimed at seniors, though Nabisco later will target athletes.

The marketing push will be the first behind Knox since Nabisco acquired the brand in 1994 and starts with a print effort this spring from the Senior Network, Stamford, Conn. TV will be added in the fall, the spokesman said, and the brand will sponsor activities such as senior-center walks.

With the new line, Nabisco is hoping to add distribution in new outlets including health food stores and pharmacies, he said. In grocery outlets, the company is aiming for shelving near its flagship gelatin.

Nabisco is but one of several mainstream marketers trying to tap "wellness" products and nutraceuticals, a market it estimates at $71 billion in 1995. Campbell Soup Co. blazed a trail with its frozen Intelligent Quisine meals for people with heart disease. Mars Inc. is marketing a high-octane energy bar called V02 Max and Kellogg Co. formed a functional foods division late last year.

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