Oprah ties up with Kraft Heinz for new line of comfort foods

Media mogul and former talk show host Oprah Winfrey is headed for the supermarket aisles with her own line of refrigerated soups and side dishes in partnership with food giant Kraft Heinz, after creating a joint venture earlier this year.

The new brand, called 'O, That's Good!', will offer comfort foods with added vegetables, such as mashed potatoes with cauliflower mixed in. A broccoli cheddar soup has butternut squash to replace some cheese, and creamy parmesan pasta with white bean puree again replacing some of the cheese.

Marketed as healthy riffs on comfort food, the Oprah-branded offerings, priced below $5 each, will arrive at some supermarkets this week and be available nationwide by October, the company said.

''This product line is real, delicious food with a twist,'' Winfrey said in a statement Wednesday.

Winfrey was involved in the recipe development, including a trip to the Kraft Heinz test kitchen in Chicago. The ad campaign featuring Winfrey launches 2 October.

Kraft Heinz said the new brand has no connection to Winfrey's deal with Weight Watchers. Winfrey's endorsement and investment earlier breathed new life into Weight Watchers, an American company that offers various products and services to assist weight loss and maintenance since 1963, but was flagging till Oprah's involvement.

"It all started with the idea for the cauliflower mashed potatoes - the twist is really what sparked this whole idea," Winfrey said. "I was sitting at my table in my own home and had whipped up some cauliflower, trying to make myself think I was eating mashed potatoes, but it was not working. So I thought, 'What if I used a portion of the mashed potatoes and added the cauliflower? Then, I would have a substantive mashed potato-cauli dish.'"

Refrigerated foods add another dimension to Winfrey's empire that spans everything from entertainment and 'O, The Oprah Magazine', to her involvement as an investor and pitchwoman for Weight Watchers. Winfrey became a major stakeholder in Weight Watchers in October 2015 and has served as a company booster. On Thursday, the company reported second-quarter profits of $45.2 million and 67 cents in earnings per share - almost 50 per cent higher than a year earlier.

Winfrey's name and image could help bolster Kraft Heinz at a time when supermarkets "are decreasing the space for 'center store' and increasing space for refrigerated. That's where the growth is," said analyst Phil Lempert of supermarketguru.com, according to The Chicago Tribune.

All eight items in the line will have no artificial flavours or colouring and 10 per cent of the profit will go to charities working to reduce hunger.

"O, That's Good brings together the three things the consumer really wants – great tasting food, convenience and nutrition they can feel good about," said Nina Barton, senior vice president of marketing, innovation and research & development for US business at Kraft Heinz.

"I've been asked over the years to attach my name to many product lines and would turn them down, because it really has to feel authentic to me," Winfrey said. "In this case, everyone knows I love healthy foods and cooking with food straight from my garden. I am always looking to make my meals more nutritious, without compromising on the comfort elements I love. Kraft Heinz approached me with a food line and they mentioned the idea of making nutritious food accessible to everyone ... and I was hooked."

Kraft Heinz brands include Oscar Mayer, Grey Poupon and Jell-O, apart from its cheese that is perennially popular in markets like India.