Meijer Tastes Sweet Success With Denali’s Moose Tracks

November 27, 2007
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WAYLAND — Denali Flavors Inc. has been enjoying the sweet success of its signature Moose Tracks flavor of ice cream for more than 20 years.

Earlier this year, Meijer Inc. joined the party with an agreement with Denali Flavors to sell Moose Tracks and its offshoots under the Meijer brand name in the retailer’s 181 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

Now the two companies have captured honors from trade magazine Frozen Food Age as one of the top 10 new products of 2007.

“Obviously it was a huge success for them (Meijer), as well,” said Denali Flavors President Neal Glaeser. “It’s one of those flavors that comes along once in a lifetime. As soon as it gets introduced to consumers, they fall in love with it.”

The combination of vanilla ice cream shot with fudge and mixed with peanut butter cups has proved to be a winning one wherever it’s been introduced, said Glaeser. Denali Flavors licenses with 80 North American manufacturers to produce Moose Tracks and other flavors named with an Alaskan theme, such as Bear Claw and Caramel Caribou.

For about 10 years, Moose Tracks has been marketed across the country, although when the company started 21 years ago, the flavor was available primarily in the Midwest. Since 2000, the privately held Denali Flavors has been owned by Wally and June Blume.

Denali Flavors uses a cartoon moose character to promote the flavor. The company’s blog features photos of a stuffed animal version of its logo at various national parks, and merchandise such as shirts, hats and the stuffed animal are for sale at the company’s Web site.

Since April, under the agreement, Meijer has sold Moose Tracks in vanilla and chocolate, in regular and low-fat options, as well as four stick novelties, under its own brand name.

“Meijer takes great care with their own label brand. The timing was right for them this past spring to introduce it,” Glaeser said. “We’re thrilled to be associated with Meijer and with the performance of the product.”

The Frozen Food Age awards were presented in October at the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Convention in San Antonio, Texas. Honored in the top 10 along with Moose Tracks were two products from Battle Creek’s Kellogg Co.: Kashi All-Natural Pizzas and Morningstar Farms Breakfast Starters.

Last year, Denali Flavors purchased a 70,000-square-foot plant near Milwaukee for $9 million from CoolBrands International. The plant, which made 30 million pounds of ice cream ingredients over the past year, marks Denali Flavors’ first venture into manufacturing.

“We make not just ingredients for our products, but for lots of other ice cream-related products that don’t have our brand on it,” Glaeser said.

U.S. production of ice cream and related products amounts to more than 1.5 billion gallons annually, the International Dairy Foods Association reports on its Web site. Vanilla has a 26 percent market share, trailed by chocolate at 12.9 percent, Neapolitan at 4.8 percent, and cookies and cream, 4 percent. In 2005, consumers spent more than $8 billion on ice cream products consumed at home.

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