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    Published on: May 11, 2004


    • Reuters reports that the growers who make up the Ocean Spray Cranberries cooperative are considering a joint venture with Pepsi that would give the coop a badly needed infusion of capital.

      The goal is to revive the brand and help the growers deal with sagging cranberry prices that have affected their profitability.


    • Ahold-owned Giant of Landover, Md., reportedly laid off 270 headquarters employees last week as part of its consolidation process with Stop & Shop.


    • New World Pasta Co., which has Prince among its brands, has filed for bankruptcy protection, attributing the move to the impact of the low-carb diet craze and accounting errors.


    • Target has announced that for five weeks this spring, it will open a boutique store in Bridgehampton, New York, selling summer items such as housewares, linens, grills and barbeque accessories, backyard games, beach towels, and patio furniture. The chosen location for the “Bullseye Inn” will be the Bulls Head Inn.

      The move follows what has become a tradition for Target – opening temporary stores in appropriate locations to sell seasonal merchandise, therefore making up for its dearth of stores in the region.

    KC's View:
    In other words, to quote a familiar MNB mantra, Target is going where the customer wants it. When the customer wants it, how the customer wants it, with the merchandise that the customer wants at a price (presumably) that the customer finds to be appealing.

    Published on: May 11, 2004


    • Ahold reported on Tuesday an 11.3 percent drop in first quarter sales to the equivalent of $18.2 billion (US). Sales at its American stores were off 1.2 percent to $8.2 billion, with same-store sales down 1.6 percent.


    • Arden Group, which owns Gelson’s Supermarkets, posted first quarter sales of $148.4 million, up almost 48 percent from $100.4 million during the same period a year ago. Net income for the period was $8.5 million, up from $2.8 million during the same period in 2003. The company attributed the dramatic increase to the effects of the four-month grocery strike in Southern California.


    • 7-Eleven, Inc. reported that total April 2004 sales were $987.9 million, an increase of 12.6 percent over the April 2003 total of $877.1 million. Total merchandise sales for April 2004 were $647.7 million, an increase of 8.7 percent over the April 2003 total of $596.1 million. U.S. same-store merchandise sales for April 2004 increased 8.2 percent, on top of a 0.6 percent increase in April 2003.

      Gasoline sales for April 2004 were $340.2 million, a 21.1 percent increase compared to $281.0 million in the prior-year period. Average gallons sold per store increased 8.8 percent in April 2004 compared to the April 2003 result. The average retail price of gasoline for April 2004 was $1.84, compared to $1.64 in April 2003.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 11, 2004


    • Wine.com has appointed George Garrick, the former CEO of both Information Resources Inc. (North America) and ACNielsen, as its CEO and president.

      Garrick’s appointment, according to a company statement, is designed to help “spur dramatic growth and profitability.”


    • Dollar General Corporation announced that David M. Tehle, the CFO at Haggar Corp., will join the retailer as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer effective June 7, 2004.


    • The US Small Business Administration (SBA), which is charged with strengthening the economy by promoting the interests of small businesses, has named Tom Haggai, CEO and chairman of IGA, and Murray Raphel, chairman of Raphel Marketing, to serve two year terms on the SBA Advisory Council.

    KC's View:

    Published on: May 11, 2004

    Commenting yesterday on a story about how some retailers are banning consumers from using cellphones while shopping or ordering, we wrote:

      Whatever happened to “the customer is always right”?

      We find cell phone ubiquity to be as annoying as anyone, though we have to admit to an unhealthy reliance on ours. (Hey, it’s just the reality of being the Content Guy.) But if we’re the customer, isn’t it our right to use one while shopping?

      Customers give retailers the privilege of taking care of them. Since when do retailers set the terms by which they are willing to serve customers? (Other than “no shirt, no shoes, no service.”) Betcha Wal-Mart is happy to serve people who are talking on their cell phones.


    Well, we know when we’re out numbered…

    MNB user Susan Kemp started the avalanche of email:

    Have to disagree with your comments on this one, Kevin.

    Whomever you are speaking to in person should be the focus of the conversation. In retail settings, if a phone rings while you are assisting a customer, the customer is supposed to take priority.

    Certainly, you can answer the phone and ask them politely to wait a moment as you are serving a customer--can't cell phone users interrupt their conversation for the moment or two that it takes to say hello, order a bagel and say thank you?

    By the way, I am not anti-cell phone. My whole family "is connected". However, I fear we are becoming a society of faceless communication--not good for anyone.


    MNB user Dan Raftery wrote:

    Whoa cellboy.

    Since when did it become ok to be rude? And what about confidentiality? I am repeatedly amazed at the information I pick up at airports and on planes just because someone thinks his or her personal space extends toward infinity. Hellooo. I can hear you. And I don't want to. Or maybe you don't want me to.


    One MNB user wrote:

    I agree with retailers putting up similar signs, but only in those places where the customer is wanting/needing interaction with an employee - i.e. bakery, deli, checkout. I've worked in a supercenter deli and found consistently that dealing with customers who are on cell phones while at the counter, is very difficult. The personal conversation is not private and delays/interrupts the ordering process while a line forms behind them.

    It is tough to interact with the customer and to greet them, take their order, have a brief conversation and everything else required to make the experience pleasant (and repeatable) is nearly impossible when the customer is conversing with people unseen.

    Shopping and cell phone use is about as good a mix as driving and talking on the cell phone - both are rude and distracting.


    MNB user George Morrow wrote:

    I could NOT let you skate on this one. When I am in a store, or pretty much anywhere, I do not care one iota what some strangers little kid is doing. People on cell phones always talk too loud and they are invading MY space with their blah, blah, blah!!

    They should not drive on the phone, either, you should see how bad California is getting, nobody is concentrating on the road!! If I need the phone, I pull over so as not to endanger my fellow drivers. How did the world ever exist before cell phones??


    Another member of the MNB community wrote:

    If you are the person behind the person on the cell phone waiting to get waited on, it is very annoying to:

    1: Hear their personal or business conversation.
    2: Having to wait while they repeat their order because they were not ready when they got up to the line.
    3: While in line at Wal-Mart waiting for them to get their money or card out to pay while they are on their cell phone.

    I could go on but I won't. I do have a cell phone.


    MNB user Alana Greenberg wrote:

    Talking on your cell phone while shopping at store, in this example a supermarket, is fine but when you approach the checkout hang up. This is common courtesy. Think about the person standing behind the checkout, they are coached (or at least should be) to greet the customer, ask them if they have a store discount card, coupons or what have you. How are they supposed to do their job when the customer in front of them is basically ignoring them. If you want to talk on your cell phone while checking out, check yourself out (but then again you may need to hands, unless you have the hands free set up) then you won't have to deal with the real world. Sorry for the rant but this is one of my pet peeves.

    MNB user Louise Olson wrote:

    Since when do retailers set the terms by which they are willing to serve customer? When other customers in the store are highly annoyed by the rude behavior. There is nothing more frustrating and annoying than waiting in line behind a customer that is on a cell phone while the retailer is attempting to complete a transaction. I find great restraint from ripping the phone from the customer's ear. As a customer, I am offended by this behavior and applaud those retailers that have taken this stand.

    MNB user Jim Duban wrote:

    I look forward to the day that "Please, for the courtesy of others...no cell-phones" joins the public signage along with "No Smoking....No Fire-Arms.....No Profanity....and Good Manners Appreciated" posted in churches, restaurants, libraries, bookstores, funeral parlors, grocery stores, theaters, etc., etc., etc.

    Another member of the MNB community wrote:

    You spoke about the customer always being right when it comes to cell phone use. What about the right to refuse service to anyone?

    Well, maybe those retailers are actually serving the wishes of the other customers not glued to their phones - I believe they were referred to as those that are numb with rage. Maybe the retailers are serving customers who appreciate their service instead of customers who rudely bark orders in the middle of their most important cell phone conversations (last night while in line for a ferry, I heard "So did she really puke into the to tub!?" come loudly from a passing cell phone user. It really complimented the setting sun over the Puget Sound.)

    Manners started dying out long ago. With the birth of the cell phone, they've only continued to fade away. Have a little respect for you fellow shopper/customer/drivers. We don't need to know if she really puked in the tub, or if little Bobby had a successful trip to the potty, or if the repair estimate for your car went $200 over. We really don't.

    I've found that local businesses that limit or do not allow cell phone use (mostly restaurants) actually have a great and most appreciative following.

    So it's not that the customer is always right, it's which customer is always right?

    Oh and I do own and try to respectfully operate a cell phone.


    MNB user Ronny Daigle chimed in:

    The statement, "the customer is always right," is never always right and becomes less and less right based on my shopping experiences.

    Your view is a very self-centered one, one that is also very evident when people use cellphones in public. Can businesses have people removed who are being a nuisance? Yes, and that is the issue with public cellphone usage. The question that should be asked is whether it is reasonable for businesses to operate without customers using their cellphones within their stores. Pure and simple. In my opinion, the answer is yes. Many people appear to be adequately aware of their surroundings when they use a cellphone, thereby interfering with both businesses and other customers in their presence. Technology can be wonderful, but cellphone usage has gone to an extreme. Public cellphone usage is simply disrespectful to others in the vicinity, and your rights end where mine begin. As one who does not use cellphones in public, I would gladly shop somewhere cellphone usage is not allowed.


    Yet another MNB user wrote:

    Should the retailer put up with anything because the customer is always right? I think not. Within the last ten years I have had several experiences with retail clerks talking personal business on the company phone WHILE waiting on me. One of the times involved buying a personalized item. Amazingly when the ordered item arrived, it was totally correct. I could not believe it, because of the emotion involved on the part of the clerk in the argument she was having on the phone with what I assume was her boyfriend. I was extremely irritated by this behavior.

    Rudeness is so rampant in our culture today that it needs to be brought to the attention of the offender. A retailer has the right to expect participation on the part of the customer. Involvement is necessary to complete a transaction. Other customers behind this one in line suffer because this customer is otherwise involved.

    Waiting in line encourages a person to be otherwise involved to pass the time. Perhaps a sign stating, "Please excuse yourself from your cell phone conversation while we serve you by completing your order" might wake up some of the dumb dumbs.

    My son overheard someone in the next bathroom stall at work answer his cell phone and respond with, "Oh, nothin'." How important is such a conversation in the first place? Once while attending a funeral, the person in the pew behind us got and answered a phone call in the chapel. Disrespect in that situation is unbelievable. "I'll call you back" is a pretty simple solution, but that does not even occur to these people.

    Obsession with using this new gadget seems to be more important than anything.


    Another MNB user offered:

    Cell phones may be a way of life. However, the practice of talking anywhere, at any time, at any tone level underlines the complete self-absorption and lack of propriety prevalent in today's society. It may further underline something more serious in that these folks can't seem to spend one minute with their own thoughts without being "connected" to someone via the phone.

    I'm all for progress and cell-phone use. However it is obvious that their need to stay "connected" for reasons other than emergency or necessity is far greater than any need many of us have to be a party to these annoying conversations!


    And, from Denise Remark, another member of the MNB community:

    With all due respect, the customer is NOT always right. Rude behavior, whether associate-to-customer or customer-to-associate is inappropriate. And regarding use of cell-phones in Wal-Mart: I doubt whether WM execs give a rip about whether customers are rude to each other or their employees, as long as customers are spending money there!

    From personal experience, I have had people on cell phones in supermarkets & department stores run into me with carts (or themselves) while in conversation that sounds like nothing more than inane drivel: "Where are you? Oh, at home? What are you doing?" What about that can't wait?

    Civility and respect are taking a beating from cell-phone users. Kudos to establishments that ban their use!


    And MNB user Renée J. Fontenot wrote:

    I enjoy reading MNB, but today you have caused me to doubt your senses.

    Talking on a cell phone in a retail environment goes beyond the customer on the phone and the sales person. Everyone around you suffers through your conversation. I have seen you (or others like you) talking on your cell phone: talking louder than you would if the person were beside you; looking around to see who is noticing how important you must be that you have a cell phone and/or someone else that is interested in talking with you; talking in extreme animation to make sure that the person at the other end of the store can hear every detail of your “oh, so important phone call”; dropping names or places as if others may real care who, what or where you have been or may be going; and, making sure that your exaggerated laugh is heard by all.

    I have news for you: I don’t want to hear your monologue; I would never have noticed you had you not been shouting into your cell phone but now that I cannot help but know you are present I can’t help but thinking what an unfortunate, insecure, and pathetic human being you are; your animations make me think that you must suffer from some debilitating nervous system malfunction and I fear that you may lose control of your bladder at any moment; who you know and where you have been or are going are of no interest to me – I just want to know if the clerk can get me this in my size; and, your laugh reminds me of the bray of a male farm animal that produces a mule.

    Retailers shouldn’t have to remind you of proper etiquette and manners. While you are trying to impress your friend in Fargo that you have made it to the mall and are standing in front of a sales clerk; you are interfering with that clerk’s ability to provide service to others in a timely fashion. So though “customers may give retailers the privilege of taking care of them”, I as a fellow customer do not want to relinquish my privilege of not having to listen to your conversation nor to be slowed in my retailing experience by the service delay you cause as a result of not giving the clerk the attention they need to best serve you in a timely manner.

    Please do take your business to Wal-Mart, it seems to be a breeding ground for rude behavior. Meanwhile, I can only hope that more retailers following the example of those places in CA. Maybe my local supermarket can set aside a special aisle for cell phone users.

    Hang up the phone.


    And this was only a few of the emails we got…

    Yikes.

    For the record, we were only trying to raise a point about customer service, not defend rudeness.

    We find those people on line, in theaters, in restaurants and in bathrooms who use cell phones to be terribly annoying. (Never ran into one at a funeral yet.) And when we bring our mobile phone with us to the movies and out to dinner, we always try and excuse ourselves before talking. (When our kids were younger, however, we would not turn off our phone when the movie began…after all, it was because we wanted to be available to the babysitter that we brought the phone to begin with.)

    The other interesting thing was that a lot of people who wrote in basically assigned Wal-Mart all the rude customers who talk on the cell phones. Which is fine, and we might not even disagree with you. But here is the bigger question that this raises. Is there a kind of class warfare taking place between Wal-Mart and much of the rest of the retailing business? Does that serve other retailers? (It seems to be serving Wal-Mart just fine, by the way...)

    We still think the issue of how far customer service goes is worth considering. Though certainly the opinion shared by members of the MNB community seems clear – because nobody, absolutely nobody, agreed with the point we made.

    Ah, well…



    On to a couple of other issues…

    We wrote yesterday about how Krispy Kreme is dealing with the low-carb craze, we suggested that “it seems myopic to view the low-carb craze as the reason for a sales shortfall at Krispy Kreme. The fact is that the doughnut isn’t just bad for you if you’re on Atkins or South Beach – there’s no diet that we know of that lists Krispy Kremes on the ‘allowed’ list.

    Apparently we were wrong on this one, too.

    One MNB user wrote:

    Weight Watchers does allow it on their diet. Since they count points on the WW diet.

    Original is 5 points
    Cinnamon Twist, 1 is 5 points
    Fudge Iced Glazed is 7 points

    Of course if you are on 23 points per day, now you are down to 17 points if you eat an Original.


    And another MNB user agreed:

    I just wanted to let you know that there is a fabulous diet which would allow Krispy Kremes. Weight Watchers! In Weight Watchers it is all about choices. If I choose to have a Krispy Kreme it is 1/4 of my total "points" for the day - or it is 1/6 of my "flexible points" for the week. I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers - but all that means is that I make choices each day. If I make good choices I have no problem maintaining a healthy weight. Every now and then I choose to have a Krispy Kreme - but they are not going to get rich off of me.

    MNB user Scott D. Drews had some additional thoughts:

    Surely Krispy Kreme has created themselves to be the monster of the donut world. Or at least they are in mine, as well as my workplace.

    I was just sharing with a co-worker on Friday about how the Krispy Kreme name sells itself because, it's a Krispy Creme. I further shared how KK just needs to lower their carbs, and they're in the "game."

    Last week Krispy Kreme indicated how their sales were forecasted to drop something like 2.4 million/+ because of the low card trend. It wasn't going to take rocket science for Krispy Kreme to figure out that if they hop on the low carb bandwagon...perhaps their sales won't have to drop as low as they think.

    I make chili sometimes with venison meat rather than regular beef. Typically they say that venison is more healthier that beef, or visa versa. Sometimes I even use low fat ingredients rather than regular. Even though one way is healthier than the other, it all practically tastes the same. Low carb or high carb the "Wal Mart" of the donut industry (Krispy Kreme) will prevail.




    We did, apparently, get one thing right yesterday – when we quoted the great passage from “Jaws” in which Quint describes his experience on the USS Indianapolis as a metaphor for retailing in 2004.

    You all seemed to love the scene and the metaphor. Thank goodness.

    And thanks for all the email…
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 11, 2004


    • It was just yesterday that we were joking in this space about Wal-Mart being so good that it could sell refrigerators to Eskimos. So we were amused when a story came across the wires about a new Wal-Mart store opening in Fairbanks, Alaska…

      This 169,000 square foot supercenter, which has proven to be wildly popular with local residents, is generating traffic in part because of low prices and in part because of a special buying group that is tailoring the SKU selection to local interests.

      The company also is working overtime to establish strong relationships with members of the local community.


    • The Tampa Tribune reports on the heightened supermarket competition taking place in Florida, as Wal-Mart has opened two Neighborhood Markets to compete with Kash n’ Karry, Winn-Dixie, and Publix, forcing the mainstream supermarket chains to become more niche players as they endeavor “to stay out of the Wal-Mart price steamroller.”

      While Kash n’ Karry and Winn-Dixie are perceived as being more vulnerable, even Publix may be feeling the pain, as some customers react to the real or perceived savings available to them at a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

      Winn-Dixie, of course, is responding to the pain inflicted upon it by Wal-Mart by shrinking the company, selling or closing as many as 156 stores; Kash n’ Karry is being more aggressive, creating a new format, Sweetbay Supermarkets, that it believes will be more competitive with the cookie-cutter Wal-Marts by emphasizing local flavors. And Publix is, well, Publix – dominant in both word and deed, and building new stores to respond to the challenge.

      As for Wal-Mart, it is building on the success and image of its supercenters and using the Neighborhood Market format to reinforce its bargain-based image.

    KC's View:
    It probably makes sense to take a moment here and share with you an email that we received yesterday:

    I'm so bored of your sick obsession with Wal-Mart that I'm even getting tired of skipping over the diatribes.

    How about cooling it for a while? I think you've made your point . . . not that it will accomplish anything other than irritating your readers.


    Well, we certainly didn’t mean to bore you. And we’re a little concerned that what we thought of as being “thoughtful analysis” you thought was a diatribe…

    Ah well. Another MNB user – a Wal-Mart employee- blasted us in another email yesterday for what he called “biased reporting.”

    Well, yeah. We’re biased. Never tried to hide that. (Sort of gave it away by putting the phrase “retail news with a point of view” at the top of our home page.) In fact, we do our best to wrestle with our biases in public – not always a pretty sight – and come to reasoned, thoughtful conclusions. Or at least try to ask thoughtful questions.

    The difference may be that we know we’re biased, but try to keep an open mind about both sides. (Some people continue to think we’re too pro-Wal-Mart, and some think we’re too critical of the folks from Bentonville…which seems like a pretty good endorsement of the process.) Some of the folks on either end of the argument don’t appear to be willing to concede any legitimacy to any other position…which is probably why the debate gets so rancorous sometimes.

    As for our “obsession” with Wal-Mart…

    The problem is (and we honestly don’t know how to deal with it) that Wal-Mart is in the news virtually every day...and we’re not sure how to do a daily news site without addressing these stories and the issues they raise.

    We try to keep it in perspective, and try to make sure it isn’t always the lead story. But if you think Wal-Mart isn’t worth paying attention to every day…well, then, we simply view the world in different ways.

    Published on: May 11, 2004

    The Seattle Times reports that Haggen-owned Top Food & Drug has struck a deal with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) that will allow more than 800 employees at nine of its stores to continue working under their current contract until negotiations with the area’s top four chains - Safeway, Albertsons, QFC and Fred Meyer – are successfully completed.

    A similar deal is in place covering some Thriftway stores, plus Metropolitan Market, Red Apple, Market Place and Town & Country stores.

    Employees at these various stores will still have a vote on whether they want to accept the terms agreed to by the major four chains and the UFCW.
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 11, 2004

    The Denver Post reports that Chipotle, the McDonald’s-owned Mexican fast food chain, is moving in the direction of natural and organic foods as it attempts to define “the soul of the new burrito.” And taco.

    The company already uses free-range, naturally raised pork in its dishes. About a tenth of Chipotle's beans are organic today, a figure expected to rise to 25 percent next year. And the company is aiming for a day when all of the chicken and beef in its units are naturally raised.

    Chipotle CEO and founder Steve Els says that “we have this belief that there's a better way of doing things. It's first and foremost driven by taste.” And he says, it is no less than a food revolution, in which customers “are willing to pay more for better-quality foods. And that, in turn, could revitalize dying family farms, allowing them to make a living by raising animals and crops without factory farm techniques.”

    Of course, Els’ commitment could be challenged by a fast food tradition in America that favors speed over flavor, and low cost over high health. And, he’s opening 200 new restaurants over the next two years, which could put a strain on his supply chain.
    KC's View:
    We said this yesterday in our commentary about a different story – we believe in Els’ vision, and we believe in Chipotle. The food is great, the prices are fair, and the chain seems to have a clear-cut differential advantage.

    In Europe, they would refer casually to Els’ notions about better food revitalizing family farms and encouraging more natural techniques as “sustainable development.” Here in the US, you say those words and sometimes people look at you like you have three heads.

    This isn’t snob appeal. This is good food and good sense. Works for us.

    Published on: May 11, 2004

    Business Ethics magazine has come out with its annual list of “100 Best Corporate Citizens,” basing rankings on quantitative measures that identify companies that excel at serving a variety of stakeholders well. Those stakeholders include: shareholders, employees, customers, the community, the environment, overseas stakeholders and women and minorities.

    Among the familiar food industry names on this year’s list:

    • Procter & Gamble (# 2)
    • JM Smucker (# 15)
    • Adolph Coors Co. (# 31)
    • Clorox Co. (# 33)
    • Wild Oats Markets (# 39)
    • Starbucks Coffee Co. (# 45)
    • Church & Dwight (# 61)
    • Weight Watchers International (# 68)
    • Whole Foods Market (# 70)
    • Kellogg Co. (# 82)
    • Sara Lee Corp. (# 87)
    • Gillette Co. (# 90)
    • Pepsi Bottling Group (# 95)
    • Wendy’s International (# 99)

    In describing how Procter & Gamble came in second this year, the magazine wrote that the company “excelled in service to minorities and women, and to the community. The firm has donated to help disadvantaged youth in Vietnam, to combat childhood malnutrition in India, and to provide earthquake relief in Turkey. ‘Over 2 million children in developing countries die each year from water-borne diarrheal diseases,’ said P&G spokesperson Terry Loftus. ‘We have developed a technology that allows people in the developing world to clean and disinfect water in their homes at low cost.’

    “P&G also makes deposits in nine minority-owned banks, has placed substantial insurance with four minority-owned insurance companies, and is an investor in venture-capital funds for minority businesses. ‘Diversity is a matter of ethics,’ said Loftus. And it’s also a ‘fundamental business strategy,’ since P&G offers over 300 brands in more than 80 countries. ‘Our success depends entirely on our ability to understand these diverse consumers’ needs,’ he said.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 11, 2004

    Merisant, the company that manufactures Equal artificial sweetener, announced that it will be bringing out a version of the product that is half sugar, with the remainder a mix of aspartame and other flavorings and ingredients, giving it half the calories of sugar.

    The new product, Equal Sugar Lite, is expected to be on the market by fall.

    The company said that it has done research suggesting that eight out of ten Americans are interested in using such a sweetener. The product introduction announcement comes as both Pepsi and Coca-Cola will shortly be bringing out mid-calorie products that have half the sugar of their regular colas.
    KC's View:

    Published on: May 11, 2004

    An Austrian supermarket chain has launched four new supermarkets designed specifically for older shoppers.

    Adeg, a 700-unit Austrian supermarket chain, reportedly has opened four stores designed to appeal to older shoppers – with larger print on labels, magnifying glasses at the service counters, non-slip floors, and wide aisles with low shelving.
    KC's View:
    Fine. Except that these guys are defining “older” as 50+.

    Which is utter nonsense.

    Anybody in the US opens a store for people 50 years of age with these kinds of modifications, and we’re boycotting them.

    Published on: May 11, 2004

    USA Today reports that Brown-Forman will introduce a new wine line next week – low-carb wines that will be known as One.6 Chardonnay and One.9 Merlot, names that reflect the grams of carbs per five-ounce serving. The wines have half the carbs of regular wines, and will be priced at $9.99.

    The wines should be on store shelves in time for Memorial Day; Costco and Wal-Mart reportedly already have placed big orders.

    According to the story, the development of these products was driven by the success of low-carb beer, and a $5 million ad campaign will be targeted at carb-counters, not wine connoisseurs.
    KC's View:
    The ad campaign reportedly will have as its tag line, "Life is full of compromises. This isn't one of them."

    We’ll be the judge of that.