Moosewood Launches Packaged Foods

Hoping to capitalize on a rapid growth trend in natural and organic foods, Moosewood Restaurant will roll out a line of canned and frozen products early next year. A substantial trade and consumer campaign is expected to roll out with the brand.

The Moosewood Restaurant, located in Ithaca, NY, has long been a Mecca of vegetarianism and has published several successful cookbooks. Its first foray into packaged goods will be handled by Fairfield Farm Kitchens. It will preview the line of “heat and serve” soups at Natural Products Expo East in Washington, D.C. October 4th-6th. Fairfield CEO Frank Carpenito said he’s aiming to distribute the products at specialty health food stores, supermarkets as well as selected institutional accounts. He said an ad campaign is in the works. Fairfield does not currently have an agency of record.

“Consumers are more concerned about what they’re eating,” Carpenito said. “So not only are the stores doing well with organic products, you’re seeing supermarkets like Shaw’s, Wegman’s and Krogers devote more space to this category.”

Carpenito says natural and organic food sales have been growing at a 25 percent clip over the past three years. Standard packaged goods foods have been maintaining a one to three percent growth rate over that time period.

Industry sources estimate that organic food sales reached $7.8 billion in 2000. According to the US Department of Agriculture, conventional grocery stores began integrating a wider selection of organic products in the late 1990's and now account for 49 percent of total organic sales, about the same as natural food stores (48 percent). Direct markets, such as farmers markets, captured 3 percent of total organic sales to U.S. consumers in 2000.

After the soup products are rolled out, Carpenito expects that frozen entrees and dinner products will follow. “This brand has been well-received at every level,” he said. “We’ve been working behind the scenes with them for a long time, and now this brand is ready for a broader reception.”