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Misionero Vegetable Sales has launched a new salad kit line that looks to provide consumers with a restaurant-style salad experience at home.

The line, which shares the name of the company's popular "Garden Cuts" brand washed and trimmed heads of lettuce, contains four items: Iceberg wedge, Romaine leaves, Cosmopolitan and Butter wedge.

The Iceberg wedge contains bacon and bleu cheese and ranch dressings in addition to wedges of Iceberg lettuce. The Romaine leaves contains Romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, croutons and parmesan cheese. The Cosmopolitan contains cosmopolitan lettuce, shredded cheese, spicy tortilla chips and salsa ranch dressing. And the Butter wedge has Butter lettuce, dried cherries, toasted almonds and tangy citrus dressing. Each kit contains approximately 2.5 servings.

"The decision to launch the line came from the success we experienced with our 'Garden Cuts' products," Dan Canales, vice president of sales and marketing for Salinas, CA-based Misionero, told The Produce News Feb. 24. "A lot of customers we had spoken to were looking for a different kind of salad kit. We didn't want to come out with something that was already available."

Mr. Canales said that when the company was developing the salad kit line, the fact that more people are shopping at retail and eating out less frequently was a main factor taken into consideration. "People often want to emulate what they get at restaurants, so we decided that we wanted to give them a restaurant-style experience with our salads. We realized we already had a good base with our 'Garden Cuts' line, so we just looked to put a little twist on it."

The hallmark of Misionero's salad kit line is fresh, minimally processed lettuces. "The initial feedback we have received is that the salads taste fresher without the overprocessed flavor experience," he said. "We've had some salad kits in the past, but there had been some lukewarm pull through, so we decided to attack it in a different way. We thought this was different than what was out there, and it is a way to differentiate ourselves."

Mr. Canales, who was traveling around the country the week of Feb. 22 in support of the product debut, said that Misionero had some initial concern about launching a new product in a difficult economy, "but the feedback we have been getting from retailers is that the timing has been good because they are looking for some items that offer consumers the restaurant experience. Retailers are really liking that this is something different -- it's not just the regular chopped up lettuce."

The salad kits will carry a retail price of $3.99 to $4.49 and will be available nationwide. Mr. Canales said that Misionero expects to release more products in the line in the next 60 to 90 days.