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Truearth Healthy Foods

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Isabel Eckstein strode toward her office, inhaling the aroma from the test kitchen where the product development team was trying new recipes for TruEarth, maker of gourmet pastas, sauces, and meals. Her team had been working hard for the past year on a fresh whole grain pizza. The final market research results had arrived, and it was time to make a decision on launching the product.
In 2006, Eckstein, a brand manager, had led the introduction of Cucina Fresca, a fresh whole grain pasta meal kit sold through supermarkets. By the end of 2007, sales had reached $23 million, making it the most successful product launch in company history. However, growth had slowed in 2008 as competitors began offering similar products. Sustaining a competitive edge in the fresh Italian food category required continual innovation and, as a result, TruEarth had invested heavily in its pizza offering. Eckstein observed:
We were aggressive in launching Cucina Fresca. We made a significant investment in new manufacturing equipment and the distribution infrastructure required to get fresh food to shelves quickly. Being a small company competing against Nestle and Kraft is not easy, but we do not make rash decisions. The success of Cucina Fresca was a calculated risk based on significant research. We think we can achieve similar success with pizza, but we will need to take a hard look at the numbers.
Company Background
TruEarth was founded in 1993 in St. Louis, Missouri, by Gareth DeRosa, a young entrepreneur. DeRosa saw an opportunity to market healthier gourmet pastas and sauces made from superior ingredients:
In the 1980s, demand for healthy, gourmet products grew sharply. We saw a segment of the market shift away from mass-produced, highly processed foods toward greater quality and authenticity. It was a special opportunity for us because we knew we could deliver what more and more...

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