Skip to main content
The largest online newspaper archive
A Publisher Extra® Newspaper

The Bellingham Herald from Bellingham, Washington • 52

Bellingham, Washington
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

E6 The BellinghamHeraId Sunday August 1 1999 VBUSINESS Popularity of Lunchables lifts Kraft plant out of doldrums SHAWN 00W0 PHOTOS SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT: Dawn Dennis pushes Lunchables packages onto a conveyor belt at the Kraft Foods Plant in Avon NY Lunchables are marketed as a convenient alternative lunch for the children of busy parents the Birds Eye business and saw the failure of its Novelties line which primarily made Pudding Pops got caught in the middle of Manning said From 771 workers in 1982 employment at the plant plunged to less than 200 by 1993 Then in 1994 there were indications Kraft was going to close the plant altogether "Management their union Niagara Mohawk the municipalities all partnered together to improve the competitiveness of the said county Economic Development Director Patrick Rountree Kraft was able to get a better rate on its electric bills The county helped cover the costs of new water lines And the plant also got a freeze on property tax rate increases for several years With those agreements in place Kraft decided to keep the plant which by then was employing about 200 people all in the production of Cool Whip Then came Lunchables By 1997 Lunchables machinery was running pretty much 24 hours a day seven days a week In mid-1998 the company added a third conveyor line this one high speed The plant the sole source of Cool Whip now employs about 600 full-time workers more than 400 of them on the Lunchables line Manning said he anticipates that number will climb by as much as 100 by the end of the year The Lunchables manufacturing process is labor intensive Three long assembly lines sit side by side in one wing of the plant Workers do everything from feed log-sized plastic tubes of nacho cheese into machinery to manually placing a small candy bar in each of the Lunchable Fun Pack boxes based group included Lunchables on its list of 10 foods to be avoided based on such things as fat and sodium content And earlier this year it was highly critical of pizza Lunchables One lean turkey breast Lunchable Fun Pack has nearly half of the daily recommended allowance of fat and nearly 60 percent of a recommended allowance of sodium in favor of making food fun for center spokeswoman Colleen Dermody said a great idea But it would be better to give kids a nutritious lunch The problem is what they put in the The addition of the Lunchables line was part of a reversal of fortune for what had been an ailing plant from the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s In 1982 and 1983 Kraft sold off Sun which also is a Kraft product A list of innovations followed: A low-fat line pizza taco and nacho Lunchables All-Star burgers and hot dog Lunchables Earlier this month Oscar Mayer also unveiled breakfast Lunchables waffles or pancakes produced at a Kraft plant in Virginia And later this fall Kraft will debut another lunch foods line of Lunchables that the Avon plant will be involved in making While Lunchables are proving popular with kids they do have their critics The Center for Science in the Public Interest a nutrition advocacy group best known for criticizing movie theater popcorn and fat substitute Olestra has been very critical of its nutritional value In 1995 the Washington DC- facturers of America The industry group which represents a number of nujor food manufacturers such as Kraft Nestle SA and Coca-Cola Co anticipates the popularity of meal kits will keep climbing said spokeswoman Lisa McCue have to think about shopping for ingredients slicing and dicing cooking she said nowadays people spending a lot of time in the kitchen The whole convenience trend just is going to continue I think anybody de-bones a chicken themselves The first Lunchables were pretty modest boxes containing slices of meat cheese and crackers In late 1992 and early 1993 came the Fun Pack a Lunchables with a beverage included usually a Capri dren returning to school The basic idea for Lunchables was to provide convenience for parents and allow kids to have a hand in personalizing their lunches said Jeff Meyer Oscar brand manager for Lunchables from his office at the Oscar Mayer division headquarters in Madison Wis want to be in he said created a nice balance around food kids love and convenience for The overall trend of pre-packaged meals including Lunchables is booming Known as in industry lingo products such as Lunchables bags of pre-tossed salad and TV dinners were a $12 billion industry last year up from $600 million in 1994 according to the Washington DC-based Grocery Manu WBnarfi wooJdl yono dlo wiftHu am FOOD: Critics of prepackaged meals cite high fat and sodium content GANNETT NEWS SERVICE AVON NY Kraft Foods Inc maker of child favorites such as Kool-Aid and Jello has nearly tripled employment at its Avon plant since 1996 and continues to hire workers And it has voracious appetites to thank The plant once on the verge of being closed is on track to exceed its high of 771 workers set in the early 1980s thanks to booming demand for Lunchables a line of finger foods no reason why we surpass where we were plant manager Gregg Manning said tremendous growth in Lunchables a wide open With flashy colorful packaging and contests to win trips to amusement parks Lunchables are aimed dead center at the child consumer And they have become huge business for Kraft and its Oscar Mayer division since the product line was introduced in 1988 Last year the lunch category of prepackaged meals was a $660 million industry with Lunchables claiming more than three-quarters of those sales according to Kraft an Illinois-based division of Philip Morris Cos maker of Marlboro cigarettes Miller beer and Maxwell House coffee Lunchables sales alone have climbed about 15 percent a year for the last six years the company says The Avon plant ships more than 60 million individual Lunchables units a year The later summer months are the busiest for the line as it gets inventory ready for chil- Stores try Web-assisted shopping GANNETT NEWS SERVICE Traditional retailers are making their World Wide Web sites accessible in their stores to sell goods that are not carried in their typical inventories have taken the idea of the kiosk and Internet and put them together" says Tom Rauh management consulting partner at Deloitte Consulting Called Web-assisted the goal is twofold: keep customers from leaving empty-handed and provide a new level of selection for customers especially those who may not otherwise have access to the Internet Bricks-and-mortar stores can display only a limited amount of merchandise often forcing customers to go elsewhere when their desired size style color or model is not available The average of people visiting a store who actually purchase something is 25 percent a recent Deloitte Consulting survey of specialty retailers shows Consumers now accustomed to the instant gratification fostered by electronic commerce are less willing to shuttle from store to store for an item Consequently they are increasingly abandoning stores in favor of the immense selection on the Internet But retailers are betting that they can compete effectively by offering consumers the ability to surf their Web sites while still in the store They believe consumers -will tolerate a couple of delay for a confirmed order trying to further energize retailers to take advantage of the unique store channel that they have as they enter the e-commerce says Cathy Hotka head of information technology at the National Retail Federation Among those trying it: Gap The casual apparel giant set up in its New York Chicago and San Francisco flagships as well as stores in Los Angeles and Aspen Colo Some have as many as four computer terminals did it because we wanted to create a snapshot of the Gap store of the says spokeswoman Rebecca Weill another way to experience the brand and inject online store carries about three-quarters of the merchandise stocked in flagship stores which are the largest and have the most comprehensive product lines Kmart The discount Kmart Solutions system allows shoppers to buy items and brands that the company does not ordinarily stock in its stores and receive them directly from the manufacturer The computers are posted at the service desks and electronics and sporting goods counters in 625 stores With a Seafirst Option 15 Term Loan Take a look at the chart Compared to a traditional 30-year mortgage our Option 15 Term Loan with a 15-year term can save you tens of thousands of dollars In Interest Plus you build equity faster and are mortgage-free in half the time And that makes sense the possibilities are endless Find out how much you can save Stop by one of our banking centers or call us at 1-800-243-4778 Best of all you can save time and effort because less paperwork to complete than a traditional mortgage! So apply for a Seafirst Option 15 Term Loan and let your imagination run wild The possibilities you only i dream about today can become a reality tomorrow 2 SEAFIRST BANK Example assumes an 80 loarvtovalue ratio Chart shown is an example only based on simple Interest rate a loan fee of $500 and no other fees and or closing costs As of July 15 1999 the rate is 7875 with a $500 loan fee reflecting the APR of 7891 Rates are subject to change Amounts In the example are rounded Loans are subject to credit approval Flood andor property Insurance may be required A Bank of America Company wwwseafirstcom LENDER i.

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 300+ newspapers from the 1700's - 2000's
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Bellingham Herald
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

About The Bellingham Herald Archive

Pages Available:
Years Available: