- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 29, 2006

The two largest grocers in the D.C. area are touting their organic product lines in advertising campaigns for the first time.

Safeway Inc. supermarkets rolled out O Organics, its new organic-product line, this month with store signs and radio advertising.

Safeway’s organic line includes 135 items, from pasta and peanut butter to ice cream and frozen lasagna.

Giant Food Inc., the biggest grocer in the area, began selling organic products under its Nature’s Promise line in late 2004, but began its first advertising campaign, including television spots, for the products in the fall.

Nature’s Promise includes about 200 organic items.

Giant spokesman Barry Scher says the timing of the Giant advertising campaign did not purposely correspond with the start of Safeway’s organic-product line.

“There’s a heavy emphasis these days on healthy and organic foods,” Mr. Scher said.

The Nature’s Promise commercials were part of a package that included holiday recipe commercials that ran through December.

Safeway’s O Organics line is intended to be a more affordable version of Safeway Selects, the store’s older organic-product line, said spokesman Craig Muckle.

“This is more in line with our ‘Ingredients for Life’ positioning,” Mr. Muckle said.

Ingredients for Life is Safeway’s latest advertising campaign, which includes softer lighting in remodeled stores, better beef selections, prepared meals and the organic products. It is designed to convey that Safeway not only has ingredients for dinner, but for life.

Organic-food sales have grown 20 percent or more each year during the past decade. Sales were expected to top $15 billion in 2004, the last year statistics were available, up from $3.5 billion in 1997, according to industry estimates.

Serving up coffee syrups

• Mayorga Coffee, a Rockville coffee importer, released a line of custom flavor coffee syrups, such as Irish creme, raspberry and almond for commercial and home use.

“The problem is that no syrup manufacturer makes syrups solely with coffee drinks in mind. … We finally decided to sit down with a manufacturer to formulate the ideal flavor profiles [for] coffee beverages,” said owner Martin Mayorga.

Mayorga has five shops in the Washington area.

In other news …

• Cafesano, a Mediterranean fast-food restaurant, opened its first location in Reston, this month. The restaurant, in South Lakes Village Shopping Center, serves Italian, Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine, including hummus, baba ghanouj, panini sandwiches and kabobs in a pay-at-the-counter and carryout format.

• The Westin Arlington Gateway on Wilson Boulevard is slated to open March 1. The $75 million property is the first luxury hotel built in Arlington in 13 years.

• Strategic Hotel Capital Inc., a Chicago hotel-management company, announced it plans to purchase the Four Seasons Washington hotel, a 211-room hotel in Georgetown, for $168.9 million. The deal is expected to close early this year.

Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4836.

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