Friday, January 13, 2006


the big four changes

long-time readers know that i often discuss -- ok, rail -- against the large multi-national coffee roasters who supply the stuff seen in the supermarket cans and jars. they are known as the "big four": sara lee, kraft, p&g, and nestle.

these people are the ones largely responsible for the low-quality, commercial coffee much of the planet drinks. as tchibo has become more prominent in the peddling of lower-quality beans, i've also been known to use the term "big four + tchibo."

but recently, the big four has changed. sara lee has sold well-known, vintage supermarket coffee brands like chock full o'nuts, hills bros., and chase & sanborn to the italian firm segafredo. segafredo has created a new division for these products, called massimo zanetti.

segafredo is basically the folgers of italy; it's pretty much one of the largest, most popular and most marketed brands. as anyone who's been to italy can tell you, it's your average mass-market middling-quality coffee.

however, they will also tell you that most segafredo beans do seem on the whole to be a slightly better quality than what sara lee was peddling. so in one sense, this could be a small step up for these brands, and for the broad swath of american consumers who still drinks these coffees.

it's possible that segafredo could improve the quality of their supermarket cans, that they could inject a more italianate concern for coffee overall into this new division. i'm not holding my breath, but it could happen.

i suppose.

another interesting point to note about segafredo is their relationship with la san marco espresso machinery, which fairly recently became part of the segafredo group. being italian, of course, segafredo is largely about espresso.

thus their purchase of brands normally associated with drip is intriguing. do they intend to introduce espresso to these vintage lines?

do they intend to offer pod espresso and an home "la san marco" pod system to these old coffees in order to revitalize them? we coffee lovers should check back in with segafredo over time to see what direction they propose!

but from now on when i rant about the big four, you'll know that segafredo's in on it henceforth.

finally, of course, segafredo does have its own set of fairly stylish cafes here in the u.s.a (such as this one in miami). as for many years did chock full o'nuts.

so there's also a retail angle that segafredo could be considering here. . .

posted by fortune | 7:16 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 3 comments

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