Castellini Co. revs up volume in NASCAR deal

03/19/2004 12:00:00 AM
Jim Offner


Castellini Co. has signed a licensing agreement with NASCAR and is shipping selected packs, bags and boxes of tomatoes, potatoes, onions and citrus that bear the NASCAR logo.

(March 19) Its longtime association with the tobacco industry now gone, NASCAR is shifting gears into a new arena: produce.

Castellini Co., a produce distributor in Wilder, Ky., a Cincinnati suburb, has signed a multiyear licensing agreement with the stock-car racing association and is shipping selected packs, bags and boxes of tomatoes, potatoes, onions and citrus that bear the NASCAR logo.

The first shipments went out to Food City stores in Bristol, Tenn., March 15. Shipments were scheduled to go to Wal-Mart Supercenters shortly afterward.

Thanks to agreements with Blackfoot, Idaho-based Nonpareil Corp./Idaho Potato Packers and East Coast Brokers and Packers Inc., Castellini soon will ship NASCAR logo-adorned products to retailers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, said Jack Bertagna, a sales and marketing representative with the distributor.

“We expect to do some pretty big numbers with this thing,” said Bertagna, who declined to provide specific volume projections. “We’ve gotten some pretty good feedback from the retailers all across the country.”

The deal is about 2½ years in the making, he added.

“I don’t know if it was a change from going from Winston Cup to Nextel Cup and all the sudden they got a change of heart or whatever, but they started talking to us last October,” he said. “We put the deal together and worked the contracts and came to an agreement and we’ve got an exclusive contract.”

STARTING SLOWLY

Castellini will start slowly with the program, including only certain commodities at first, Bertagna said.

The items include all bagged potatoes, grapes, 4-pack tomatoes, all bagged onions and selected citrus products.

Items will have specially designed bags in various colors.

The NASCAR logo is a powerful magnet to consumers, Bertagna said.

From a survey NASCAR conducted in February of last year, 89% said they think quality when they see NASCAR on a product, Bertagna said. Eighty-two percent said NASCAR products are a good value, and 72% said when they see NASCAR’s name on a product, they will buy that product before another similar item.


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