(Feb. 26) FRESNO, Calif. — Fourteen months after launching a fresh salsa kit in a clamshell, followed months later by a fresh peach salsa kit, Z&S Distributing Co. Inc. is making sales of fresh salsa even easier for retailers — and for consumers who prefer to let someone else prepare the zesty treat.

In a joint venture with Santa Barbara Salsa, a division of California Creative Foods Inc., Oceanside, Z&S Distributing has unveiled a delicatessen salsa, said Justin Bedwell, the company’s director of marketing.

“It’s designed to complement our fresh salsa kits,” Bedwell said.

Z&S Distributing supplies the fresh produce ingredients and Santa Barbara Salsa will process the deli salsa under the Old El Paso label, he said. The salsa comes in 14-ounce clear plastic containers, with a suggested retail price of $2.99.

“Our Old El Paso salsa is the first national brand in the fresh salsa category,” Bedwell said. “It is made without preservatives and comes with a 90-day code life from date of manufacture.”

California Creative Foods will market the Old El Paso deli salsa though the Z&S staff will help spread the word to its fresh produce customers.

Among the chains that have already ordered the deli salsa, Bedwell said, are Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark., and Pathmark Stores Inc., Carteret, N.J.