Welch's allots $30 million for shelf-stable juice push

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Welch Foods will spend close to $30 million in marketing this fall as it looks to build its shelf-stable juice business.

At least $15 million of the expenditures will be put into TV ads for the grape-juice brand featuring a yet-to-be-named spokeschild. Havas' Arnold Worldwide, New York, handles the campaign set to break in October. In 2002, Welch spent only $4.5 million on measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, but Ross Elkin, VP-marketing for the cooperative, said this year's budget represents a "significant increase" in spending to build the shelf-stable juice business, which makes up as much as 65% of Welch's sales. Welch's is the food processing and marketing arm of National Grape Cooperative Association.

Gary Stibel, CEO of The New England Consulting Group, Westport, Conn., said Welch's, along with PepsiCo's Tropicana unit, is doing the "best job in the industry to drive innovation in the shelf-stable aisle, where there hasn't been much."

An East Coast retail executive welcomes the new initiatives, saying that while Welch's is a "consistent, steady partner ... they're not amongst the upper echelon when it comes to creativity or aggressiveness." He said he hopes these new items will help change that pattern.

Among the initiatives Welch's will support is the relaunch of its 100% white grape juice blends with new packaging and new varieties, including White Grape Cherry and White Grape Strawberry. Over the last six months, Mr. Elkin said sales of Welch's 100% juice brand is up anywhere from 12% to 14%, "significantly better than the category."

In addition, Welch's will change label graphics and introduce an updated bottle for its cocktails line, which will also include a new Mountain Berry flavor, featuring what Mr. Elkin said is a "lighter, more refreshing look."


To tap the growing convenience trend, Welch's will roll out six-packs of its 10-oz., resealable, single-serve bottles of a variety of flavors from grape drink to fruit punch. The single-serve bottles have been "extraordinarily successful" in initial limited-availability markets recently, as Mr. Elkin said the convenient sizes are "becoming more a mainstream item, part of weekly shopping trips vs. something people might grab at a convenience store."

Similarly, competitor Ocean Spray Cranberries will introduce four-packs of single-serve bottles of such varieties as Ruby Red Grapefruit, White Cranberry Peach, Cranberry and Cran-Grape. The line will be positioned to "women on the go" for use during exercise or to fit in a car cup holder in TV advertising scheduled for September through December.

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