Kraft Heinz looks to Oprah to boost sales

Com­pany hopes Win­frey can break it out of slump

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - ZLATI MEYER

Oprah Win­frey, whose en­dorse­ment and in­vest­ment has breathed new life into Weight Watch­ers, is branch­ing out into food branded un­der her own name.

Win­frey is be­hind a new line of re­frig­er­ated soups and side dishes in con­junc­tion with Kraft Heinz that will come with a clever name: “O, That’s Good.” The prod­ucts start com­ing to store shelves this week.

Mar­keted as healthy riffs on com­fort food, the in­au­gu­ral offerings in­clude mashed pota­toes with cauliflower mixed in, creamy Parme­san pasta with white bean purée re­plac­ing some of the cheese and broc­coli ched­dar soup in­fused with but­ter­nut squash.

Win­frey was in­volved in the recipe devel­op­ment, in­clud­ing a trip to the Kraft Heinz test kitchen in Chicago. An ad cam­paign fea­tur­ing Win­frey launches Oct. 2.

“It all started with the idea for the cauliflower mashed pota­toes — the twist is re­ally what sparked this whole idea,” Win­frey said. “I was sit­ting at my ta­ble in my own home and had whipped up some cauliflower, try­ing to make my­self think I was eat­ing mashed pota­toes, but it was not work­ing. So I thought, ‘What if I used a por­tion of the mashed pota­toes and added the cauliflower? Then, I would have a sub­stan­tive mashed pota­to­cauli dish.’”

Re­frig­er­ated foods add another di­men­sion to Win­frey’s em­pire that spans ev­ery­thing from en­ter­tain­ment and O, The Oprah Mag­a­zine, to her in­volve­ment as an in­vestor and pro­moter for Weight Watch­ers. Win­frey be­came a ma­jor stake­holder in Weight Watch­ers in Oc­to­ber 2015 and has served as a com­pany booster. Last week, the com­pany re­ported sec­ondquar­ter prof­its of $45.2 mil­lion US and 67 cents in earn­ings per share — al­most 50 per cent higher than what it’d been a year ago.

Win­frey’s name and im­age could help bol­ster Kraft Heinz at a time when su­per­mar­kets “are de­creas­ing for the space for cen­tre store and in­creas­ing space for re­frig­er­ated. That’s where the growth is,” ex­plained an­a­lyst Phil Lem­pert of su­per­mar­ket­guru.com, an in­dus­try web­site.

All eight items in the line will have no ar­ti­fi­cial flavours or colour­ing and 10 per cent of the profit will go to char­i­ties work­ing to re­duce hunger.

“O, That’s Good brings to­gether the three things the con­sumer re­ally wants — great tast­ing food, con­ve­nience and nu­tri­tion they can feel good about,” said Nina Bar­ton, se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing, in­no­va­tion and re­search & devel­op­ment for the U.S. busi­ness at Kraft Heinz.

Sug­gested prices will be $4.99 for soups and $4.49 for sides.

“I’ve been asked over the years to at­tach my name to many prod­uct lines and would turn them down, be­cause it re­ally has to feel au­then­tic to me,” Win­frey said. “In this case, ev­ery­one knows I love healthy foods and cook­ing with food straight from my gar­den.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Oprah Win­frey is be­hind a new line of re­frig­er­ated soups and side dishes.

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