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Alcoa's new foil aims to end sticky messes

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

By Len Boselovic, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Pittsburgh, the city that revolutionized convenient dining with H.J. Heinz's ketchup bottle cap that thwarts watery buildup, is about to -- as cable TV chef Emeril Lagasse perpetually promises -- kick it up another notch.

This month, Alcoa will unveil Reynolds Wrap Release, a nonstick aluminum foil that will make for easier cleanups in the kitchen. The new foil will be available in 12-inch wide, 35-square foot rolls, at a suggested retail price of $2.49 -- a premium to the price of Reynolds' conventional foil.

Release is designed for pizza, lasagna, frozen ground beef, chicken nuggets, battered fish fillets and other foods that stick to conventional foils. One side of Release -- the one embossed with the words "non-stick side" -- is coated with a proprietary, food-safe, nonstick surface that makes using grease or nonstick sprays unnecessary, Alcoa said.

For competitive reasons, Alcoa isn't disclosing what the coating is made of, but says it has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The foil is safe at temperatures from minus 40 degrees to 650 degrees Fahrenheit, the company said. Release is kosher (it meets Jewish religious standards) and recyclable.

"Our research ... indicates strong purchase intent and broad appeal," said Ruth Mack, president of Alcoa's Consumer Products business.

She says consumers will use Release when they don't want their food to stick and Reynolds Wrap's traditional foil "when the nonstick benefits aren't as pressing."

Alcoa said more than 96 percent of the consumers it polled said they would use Release in the oven and 83 percent would use it on a grill. The most common foods they'd use it for were chicken, other meats and desserts.

While restaurants use relatively little aluminum foil, Release should be a pretty big deal in home kitchens, said Mark Botts, associate editor of Pizza Today, a monthly magazine for pizzeria operators. Botts uses baking stones instead of foil to reheat his pizza, but said he'd give the new foil a try on lasagna.

"Mozzarella is notorious for sticking to foil. You get mozzarella around foil and it's like a magnet," he said.

Alcoa's marketing plan for Release includes national television advertisements featuring Pat and Betty, home economists from Reynolds Kitchens.

Alcoa acquired the Reynolds Wrap business when it purchased Richmond, Va.-based Reynolds Metals in 2000.

The foil is part of Alcoa's packaging and consumer products business, which accounted for about 10 percent of the $27.3 billion in sales the company reported last year and 9 percent of its $20 billion in aftertax operating income.

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