StarKist Introduces a Breakthrough - StarKist Tuna in a Pouch `Uncanny` New Product Delivers Firmer, Fresher-Tasting Tuna; StarKist Expects Pouch to Transform Tuna Category

NEWPORT, Ky.--()--June 15, 2000--StarKist Seafood today introduced StarKist Tuna in a Pouch, a breakthrough that's expected to make a big splash with consumers this fall. The vacuum-sealed foil pouch delivers firmer, fresher-tasting tuna with no draining. Unlike canned tuna, the easy-open pouch contains virtually no liquid.

"StarKist Tuna in a Pouch is the biggest wave of innovation in tuna since StarKist pioneered canned tuna in the 1920s," said Don Binotto, managing director of StarKist Seafood, a unit of H.J. Heinz Company's Star-Kist Foods, Inc. "We believe this fresh new idea will transform the tuna category and propel StarKist tuna consumption."

Consumers who tested the pouch in home trials conducted by StarKist preferred the new product 5 to 1 over canned tuna. Consumers rated StarKist Tuna in a Pouch significantly higher in quality, fresh taste, texture, appearance and convenience. The product is fresher-tasting and firmer because shorter cooking and processing is required when tuna is packed in a pouch and vacuum sealed.

"Based on the strong consumer preference for our pouch, StarKist Seafood expects the pouch to expand the U.S. tuna category by 4 to 5 points over the next two years with this exciting product launch," Binotto said. "We're confident StarKist Tuna in a Pouch will hook consumers and rejuvenate the category."

The national product launch begins this September. Consumers will be able to reel in StarKist Tuna in a Pouch in three healthy and nutritious 7-ounce varieties: Premium Albacore in water; Chunk Light Tuna in water; and Chunk Light Tuna in sunflower oil, which is low in saturated fat and high in vitamin E. The suggested retail price is $1.99 for the chunk light varieties and $2.79 for the albacore. The 7-ounce pouch is designed for families and provides enough tuna for four sandwiches.

"After introducing tuna in spring water and our dolphin-safe policy, StarKist is taking its commitment to quality and innovation to the next level," said Peter Bowen, president and chief operating officer of Star-Kist Foods. "StarKist Tuna in a Pouch is going to make waves in the grocery aisle. It's tuna like consumers have never tasted before, in packaging that will change the way people think of, and use, tuna."

StarKist tuna, the No. 1 brand of tuna, holds a 45.1 percent U.S. market share for the current 52-week period, double its closest competitor. StarKist Tuna in a Pouch will leverage StarKist's strong brand recognition and the 90 percent household awareness of the brand's popular animated icon, Charlie the Tuna.

The company plans to invest more than $20 million in a national advertising and marketing campaign to support the product launch, Bowen noted. The campaign will feature television commercials starring Charlie the Tuna, as well as print advertising, freestanding inserts and in-store promotions. StarKist Seafood has selected Cincinnati-based advertising agency Northlich to create the advertising campaign.

"The StarKist Pouch is the latest example of how Heinz is driving category growth by introducing innovative products that anticipate the changing needs and dining preferences of consumers around the world," said William R. Johnson, president and chief executive officer of the H.J. Heinz Co. "Tuna has worldwide appeal because it's versatile, nutritious and convenient. This innovative product enhances that appeal."

PACKED WITH NUTRITION

StarKist Tuna in a Pouch does more than revolutionize the way tuna is packaged for more convenient consumer use. It delivers the same health benefits associated with the StarKist brand. StarKist tuna is an excellent low-fat source of protein and a natural source of niacin and B-12 vitamins, as well as Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been cited in scientific studies as effective in reducing the risk of heart disease.

The new tuna pouches sport a dynamic blue graphic design and feature Charlie the Tuna prominently on the front. On the back of the pouch, consumers will find terrific tuna recipes and nutritional information.

StarKist Seafood, an affiliate of the H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ), is the leading producer of canned tuna and the category leader in innovation. StarKist represents a 60-year tradition of quality and consumer trust. StarKist was the first to introduce spring water, a dolphin-safe policy and portable tuna lunch kits. Around the world, other leading Heinz brands of tuna include John West, Greenseas and Petit Navire.

Web site: http://www.heinz.com

    

Contacts

Star-Kist Foods, Inc.
Michael Mullen, 606/655-5634
or
Ketchum, for Star-Kist Foods, Inc.
Patti Jo Lambert, 412/456-3868

Contacts

Star-Kist Foods, Inc.
Michael Mullen, 606/655-5634
or
Ketchum, for Star-Kist Foods, Inc.
Patti Jo Lambert, 412/456-3868