UPDATE 1-Clorox plans include Hidden Valley Ranch "ketchup"
BOCA RATON, Fla.
BOCA RATON, Fla. Feb 23 (Reuters) - Clorox Co is bringing a thicker version of its leading Hidden Valley Ranch dressing to the ketchup aisle, hoping to entice consumers who top hamburgers and pizza with the regular version, its chief executive said on Thursday.
The company is also working on whether it can further compact bleach, a process it already did back in 2000, making bottles smaller and lighter and allowing it to fit more bottles onto store shelves, where big bottles of bleach sometimes sell out during a busy weekend.
"We think it's technically feasible to do it, we're working on it, but we don't have any timetable yet," Chairman and Chief Executive Don Knauss said in an interview at the annual Consumer Analyst Group of New York, or CAGNY, conference in Boca Raton, Florida.
This year's lineup of new products includes an updated version of one of Clorox's top sellers, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. Clorox knows that diners put ranch dressing on many more foods than just salads and vegetables. Some people like a bit of ranch on their burgers, french fries and pizza, Knauss said.
"Since consumers are using it as a ketchup, let's give them a ketchup viscosity," he said.
The product, in both a regular and a salsa variety, will hit stores in April, pitting Hidden Valley Ranch directly next to competitors such as H.J. Heinz Co.
"As one retailer said to me, 'Don't you know, the new color of ketchup is white,'" said Knauss.
Ranch dressing is already a strong seller, and Hidden Valley Ranch is by far the biggest brand in the category.
The overall ranch dressing category was about 10 percent bigger in dollars than ketchup was last year at grocery stores, Knauss said.
The new Hidden Valley is already being tested in a number of restaurants. Knauss brought it along while dining at a Nation's burger restaurant in California.
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