NESTLE LIMBERS UP FOR POWERBAR'S LATIN AMERICAN LAUNCH

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(June 1, 2001) SAO PAULO -- Swiss-based food marketer Nestle is debuting the energy bar PowerBar simultaneously in Brazil and Mexico as it prepares to roll out the brand through Latin America.

Nestle claims the energy bar, bought with the U.S. PowerBar company in March last year, is the world best-seller in its category.

Countries targeted for the launch program within the next two months are Argentina, Chile and Venezuela.

In Brazil, PowerBar will be backed by a $2 million marketing budget, directed at sponsorship of athletes and sports events, plus a print ad campaign and a Web site.

It will sponsor 16 national sports events and a team of Olympic athletes, including mountain bikers, runners and triathlon champions. The Web site (www.powerbar.com.br) will provide tips and information on the main sporting competitions in Brazil and across the world.

This is a similar strategy to the one Nestle adopted for PowerBar in the U.S., where, for example, the brand sponsors runner Michael Johnson and the U.S. Woman's Soccer Team, as well as events such as the New York City Marathon.

Andrei Rakowitsch, director of the Food division at Nestle, said the product is entering a small market in Brazil with potential to grow.

"Our worldwide strategy is to invest in new markets. After consolidating in the infant and clinical nutrition segments, we'd like to focus in what we consider the future trend: performance nutrition," he said. "PowerBar is a strong brand internationally and is recognized in the sports segment. This will help us enter the market in Brazil."

Nestle's market research found there are 17 million people between the age of 18 and 54 in Brazil who undertake physical exercise.

PowerBar will mainly be sold in health food shops, gyms, drugstores and bike shops. A print campaign via Publicis Groupe's Publicis Norton, Sao Paulo, will only appear in specialist sporting magazines such as Aventura & Acao and Contra o Religion.

Over the next five years, Nestle hopes to sell 8million bars, the equivalent of $9 million.

A Canadian athlete, Brian Maxwell, created PowerBar in 1983, after he lost a competition in due to lack of energy when he still had 42 kilometers ahead of him.

Nestle will initially launch in Brazil four products in the PowerBar range: the bars Performance, Protein Plus and Harvest, and a liquid PowerGel, to be drunk before physical activity. The four products will be available in five different flavors. -- Claudia Penteado

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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