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Grass-fed movement takes on mac and cheese

GreenSpace Brands introduces line of all-natural macaroni and cheese product

The first product under a new brand launched by a small Ontario food company is being billed as a healthier alternative to a Canadian classic.

Nudge brand's Mac and Cheese is being rolled out across Canada this month by Loblaws and a fast-growing list of other food retailers.

Like traditional segment super-weight Kraft Dinner, the new product features cut macaroni and a packaged cheese mix in a 170-gram cardboard box, and is prepared the same way.

Unlike the newly-rebranded KD, which has been called Canada's de facto national dish, and reportedly outsells all other grocery items in Canada with weekly sales of 1.7 million units, Nudge's Mac and Cheese is made with grass-fed, organic, and gluten-free ingredients, and has no artificial colours and flavours.

"We're getting a lot of interest from retailers here and in the United States," said Aaron Skelton, vice-president brands and development of GreenSpace Brands.

The publicly-traded company develops and sells premium natural food products under a half-dozen brands, including Live Choices, which produces meat that is grass fed and/or pasture-raised, and Rolling Meadow Dairy, which produces grass-fed milk.

In addition to the new Nudge, the company this week announced the acquisition of Love Child Organics, a Canadian producer of 100% organic food for infants and toddlers.

According to Skelton, a nutritional expert who spent a decade running Loblaws' national health foods product lines before joining GreenSpace last year, Nudge's Mac and Cheese, which retails for $3.99, has roughly 25% less sodium than KD, and features a "softer" orange colour once prepared.

READ: Moving onto grass-fed pastures

He compared it to the Certified Organic Mac & Cheese made by of Annie's Homegrown, which was recently acquired by General Mills.

"We didn't reinvent the wheel," said Skelton.  "We just tinkered with it until we got it just right (and) we ate a lot of mac 'n cheese to get there."

He added that several online marketing efforts, including a social media contest that came up with the name of Mac for a cheese character, have generated a buzz for both the new brand and product.

"It's a great start to what we hope will soon become a whole family of products for Nudge, which is a lifestyle brand for healthy foods and snacks," said Skelton.

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