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Food Briefs

British Promotion Gets a Royal Boost

February 11, 1988|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

The Duke and Duchess of York will mix equal parts nationalism with product endorsement later this month when they tour a San Gabriel Valley supermarket during an extended visit to Southern California.

On Feb. 29, the couple will stroll the aisles of Vons' Pavilions store in Arcadia to lend support to the Food From Britain promotion, a program designed to generate American interest in British-made grocery items.

The visit, expected to yield a great deal of media coverage, is a publicity coup for the Vons Cos. Inc.--particularly so, considering the competitive local food retailing scene.

The stop, one of many during Prince Andrew's nine-day stay in the Los Angeles area, is being made in conjunction with the UK/LA Festival, an Anglo-American arts and entertainment celebration which runs through April.

While in the market, the duke and duchess are expected to sample domestic and imported foods and will be served tea in the store's coffee department.

As an adjunct to the royal visit, all Vons and Pavilions outlets will participate in the Food From Britain promotion for two weeks, beginning Feb. 22.

Vitamins' Healthy Appeal--The increasing popularity of vitamin and mineral supplements has propelled their emergence from health-food stores into the more mainstream markets, a recent survey reports. The supplements are even outselling cold remedies and shampoos in some of the more traditional retail settings.

Projections for the pills, capsules and formulas are also bullish and are getting a strong boost from the sales of calcium- and iron-fortified products, according to Frost & Sullivan Inc., the New York-based research firm which conducted the study.

At present, the three major outlets for vitamins and minerals are: drug stores, with 28% of all sales; health food stores, with 24%; and supermarkets, with 19%. Mail-order transactions also figure into the sales picture, but on a much smaller scale.

These percentages are expected to change, according to Frost & Sullivan, because food stores have identified the profit potential of supplements and will aggressively expand their share of the market.

And there's good reason for the nation's grocers to court the vitamin-conscious consumer. By 1991, for instance, the value of vitamin products--at the factory level alone--will exceed $2.4 billion, a 14% increase over 1987, the study concludes. Retail sales, however, are generally more than double the items' factory value. As such, consumers will be spending more than $5 billion annually on these products by 1991.

Multivitamin and multimineral supplements have proved the most popular, accounting for 18% of the category. Sales of these items, though, are expected to remain static.

Calcium supplements, on the other hand, will be among the fastest growing. Even though they currently account for only about 10% of total sales, their growth rate over the next four years is expected to be about 5% annually. Meanwhile, the rate of increase over the same time period for the entire vitamin and mineral supplement category is predicted to be 3.5% a year.

The publicity given to studies of osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease, has contributed to the success of calcium supplements, the report states, "as is the fact that natural sources--cheese, for example--are often avoided due to high fat content."

Iron supplements are also expected to do well as health officials focus attention on the problem of anemia, believed to be the nation's most widespread nutritional deficiency.

Calculating Calcium Levels--Frost & Sullivan, in its recent report, credits Procter & Gamble Co. for its role in heightening interest in calcium supplements. The firm's heavily advertised Citrus Hill Plus Calcium fortified orange and grapefruit juices were cited as an example of products that have raised consumer consciousness about calcium deficiencies.

In a separate but well-timed development, P&G has released the results of a study which showed that the calcium supplement present in Citrus Hill is more readily absorbed than is the naturally present calcium in milk.

The research, conducted at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and published in Calcified Times International health journal, showed that the difference between the mineralized orange or grapefruit juices and milk, in terms of calcium absorption, could be as much as 30%.

The company, however, is touting Citrus Hill as an alternative beverage for those who cannot tolerate dairy products rather than as a more nutritious replacement for milk.

The study was conducted in order to determine which types of calcium were more absorbable in light of the increasing presence of calcium-enriched foods.

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