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Oprah Winfrey joins Kraft Heinz in new supermarket food venture

    Oprah Winfrey, whose endorsement and investment has breathed new life into Weight Watchers, is branching out into food branded under her own name.

    Winfrey is behind a new line of refrigerated soups and side dishes in conjunction with Kraft Heinz that will come with a clever name: "O, That's Good." The products start coming to store shelves this week.

    Marketed as healthy riffs on comfort food, the inaugural offerings include mashed potatoes with cauliflower mixed in, creamy parmesan pasta with white bean puree replacing some of the cheese and broccoli cheddar soup infused with butternut squash.

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

    "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% higher than what it'd been a year ago.

    Winfrey's name and image could help bolster Kraft Heinz at a time when supermarkets "are decreasing for the space for center store and increasing space for refrigerated. That's where the growth is," explained analyst Phil Lempert of supermarketguru.com, an industry website.

    All eight items in the line will have no artificial flavors or coloring and 10% 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 the U.S. business at Kraft Heinz.

    Suggested prices will be $4.99 for the soups and $4.49 for the sides.

    "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.

    Kraft Heinz stock closed at $86.16 Tuesday, down 86 cents or 0.99%.