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Safeway's Better Living Brands Alliance takes private labels national

In late April, Pleasanton, CA-based Safeway Inc. announced that it had formed Better Living Brands Alliance to market its "O Organics" and "Eating Right" brands to other retail channels in the United States.

James White, president of Safeway's Lucerne Foods Inc. division, will lead the newly formed alliance. He has a lengthy background in the consumer packaged goods sector. Lucerne Foods is a top food manufacturer with programs for private label, co-packing and foodservice.

Both the "O Organics" and "Eating Right" brands are slated for a fall 2008 national rollout. "O Organics" is a multi-category lifestyle brand that features more than 30 categories and more than 300 organic items certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "Eating Right" is a multi-category brand with more than 30 categories and over 200 items. "Eating Right" focuses on great taste and products that are "better for you," Mr. White said.

"O Organics" fresh produce will include packaged salads, carrots and other produce items. Fresh produce items also will be available under the "Eating Right" brand.

Irwindale, CA-based Ready Pac Produce Inc. is the only licensed fresh produce partner.

"Produce is an entry point for both brands," Mr. White said, adding that fresh produce is "critical" to healthy eating and that he is "delighted to have Ready Pac as a partner."

Better Living Brands has thrown the gauntlet down: It wants to be the "complete health and wellness solution" for consumers nationwide, Mr. White said. In the process, Better Living Brands "simplifies the shopping experience," he said.

"We can satisfy all organic needs with one single brand," Mr. White said, adding that Better Living Brands believes it will "satisfy unmet needs." Better Living Brands' products will be competitively priced, Mr. White said. To date in 2008, "O Organics" has $400 million in sales this year just within the Safeway retail chain. During that stretch, the "Eating Right" brand has done $200 million in sales.

Mr. White said that it is important for the Better Living Brands sales team to be "thinking about expansion."

He added, "We have a strong brand, driven by consumers."

Lucerne Foods is a stand-alone subsidiary of Safeway that has a history of partnering with other firms. Partners in the deal are Lucerne Foods, Ready Pac, Schreiber Foods Inc. and Overhill Farms Inc. Green Bay, WI-based Schreiber Foods is among the world's larger customer-brand dairy companies, and Vernon, CA-based Overhill Farms is a leading value-added supplier of custom-prepared frozen foods.

Also in the mix as an interface for the Better Living Brands national initiative is Plano, TX-based food brokerage Crossmark Inc. Southern California-based Neighbor Agency is on board to help with the national marketing campaign. Sysco Corp. is involved on the foodservice side. Colleges and universities are a focal point of Better Living Brands' foodservice component.