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Steve Luttman believes, as they say, that it's all in the sauce.

"The gold standard is a homemade sauce with fresh tomatoes," says Mr. Luttman, senior brand manager behind Van den Bergh Foods Co.'s new Five Brothers premium pasta sauce line. "We came up with the technology to pack all our sauce in the summertime."

Mr. Luttman says the brand is based on the premise that Borden's Classico, its main competitor, "is not truly differentiated from the mainstream segment."

Also, he adds, consumers want more flavor variety, such as the line's Marinara with Burgundy Wine sauce or an Alfredo sauce that doesn't need refrigeration. The latter flavor now comprises 30% of the brand's sales.

Just a year old, Five Brothers has captured a 3.8 share of the $1.3 billion sauce market, which grew overall 6.3%, for the year ended Feb. 25 according to Information Resources Inc.

The brand gets $15 million in support, through Ogilvy & Mather, New York. TV shots filmed in Italy play up the sauce's authenticity.

The 30-year-old Mr. Luttman, who started with Unilever in Vienna on Cornett Cone ice cream. In March 1994, he moved to launch the new sauce, which he and his group secretly called "Project Hockey." Mysteriously, the company changed it to "Popeye."

Says Mr. Luttman,"It had some sort of hidden meaning we were supposed to figure out, but we never did, though it was part of our evaluation."

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