Whether actually participating in athletic endeavors or not, consumers certainly have embraced sports drinks. According to Mintel International Group, the combined sports food and drink segment grew some 48% between 2000 and 2005, among the highest growth rates in the food and beverage marketplace.

With such a dramatic increase over the years, it might seem like there could be nothing new for the segment. A new beverage company, however, has introduced a sports drink designed for athletes, active adults and children, with what it claims is an innovative sweetener.

Gone is the high-fructose corn syrup so prevalent throughout the beverage aisle. Ritorna Natural Inc. instead sweetens its LIV sports drink with rice syrup and agave nectar, which the company says, “the body breaks down more slowly, thus providing better, more balanced recovery after…activity.”

That Veggie Crunch

Soup flavors usually are augmented by the selection of vegetables they feature. Increasingly of late, manufacturers have turned to vegetables for an added boost of flavor in the crackers that frequently accompany soup offerings.

In its first line extension in three years, Ritz Crackers is having a go at combining the vegetables with the crackers. Ritz Roasted Vegetable Crackers are the first flavor introduction of the classic cracker since 2003 and promise the taste of Ritz crackers combined with the savory flavor of roasted vegetables.

Kraft Foods Global Inc. claims the crackers are made with “real vegetables,” including tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, onions, parsley and carrots, though the ingredient legend refers to these as a component of a “dehydrated vegetable blend.” The new variety joins Ritz' original, reduced-fat, low-sodium and whole-wheat offerings.

Green Machine

Snapple Green Tea, the company's new collection of “authentic” green teas, contains the natural antioxidant EGCG and is claimed to help boost metabolism. The 55mg of EGCG per bottle is one of the key reasons Snapple has made the green tea the second in its line of new products supporting a “good for you” platform. Nonetheless, a spokesperson notes consumers will have to be educated about EGCG; studies show consuming 300mg of the antioxidant a day boosts metabolism.

If product launches are any indication, manufacturers must be seeing green from all of the foods and beverages featuring "green tea" on the market—green money, that is. According to Mintel International's Global New Products Database, no fewer than 311 products mentioning green tea have launched over the past three months. Surprisingly, not all have been beverages, only 121 of them. However, many of the introductions have cosmetic purposes—90 new items for skincare and another 19 for healthcare. Clearly, going green has expanded beyond just the food aisles.

Perfect Timing

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have discovered a curious aspect relating to the timing of food consumption.

They trained mice to eat at a time they normally would not and, in doing so, found that food “turns on body-clock genes in a particular area of the brain.” Once they stopped feeding the mice, they found the genes continued to activate at the expected mealtime.

As Masashi Yanagisawa, senior author of the study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explains, “This might be an entrance to the whole mysterious arena of how metabolic conditions in an animal can synchronize themselves with a body clock.”

The discovery may play a role in confronting dysfunctional eating patterns, which have been shown to play a role in human obesity.

A Taste of Youth

An American study finds children overly sensitive to bitter tastes are more likely to eat fewer vegetables. While the sensitivities may be caused by genetic variations, it is a concern for efforts to get young people to increase their vegetable consumption.

Writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, lead author Kendra Bell explained, “These novel findings suggest that the bitter-taste phenotype contributes to the development of vegetable acceptance and consumption patterns during early childhood.”

Discovering the reasons why children favor and dislike foods might be essential for understanding some eating problems and increasing obesity rates among young people. A University College and Kings College London study recently found that a child's taste for protein-rich foods such as meat and fish is inherited; however, it also said the tastes for vegetables and desserts are influenced.

Scientists at Rutgers University examined the impact of genetic variations upon preferences. It suggests the genetic variations in a gene (TAS2R38) that controls for bitter flavor may affect a child's acceptance of bitter-tasting foods such as vegetables. The results are similar to those of a University of Connecticut study that examined “how bitterness and sweetness are negative and positive predictors of vegetable preference and intake.”

Looking for That Label

A recent poll yielded surprising, some would say seemingly contradictory, results regarding food labels. An AP-Ipsos poll found consumers are checking the labels on food at the grocery store, yet they eat whatever they want.

Almost 80% of American consumers say they do read the food labels, checking for such keywords as fat, calories and sugars; some six in 10 say they do so frequently. However, 44% of 1,003 adults surveyed admit they buy the food regardless of whether the news is “good.”

The poll found those with higher education levels tended to be more conscious of labels and health, in general. Of college graduates, 68% were more likely to check nutrition labels frequently, compared with 52% of those with a high school education or less. They likewise were more likely to place “a lot of importance on nutrition content”—41%, as opposed to 28% of those with a high school education or less.

College-educated consumers also were more likely to: look at calories when looking at the label; place a great deal or quite a bit of importance on nutrition content; check the labels; not trust the labels on the front of the package that said low- or reduced-fat; buy less foods that are “bad” for them; and pay attention to the label even on foods “bad” for them.


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* The French government recognized Colloides Naturels International with the award for best export company in 2005 in recognition of the company's global export expertise.

n Kosherfest 2006 will be held November 14-15 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York.

* Hormel Foods Corp. acquired Valley Fresh Inc.

* David Cai, PhD, joined Cognis Nutrition & Health as senior scientist responsible for managing scientific research projects in North America for Cognis' growing portfolio of health-enhancing ingredients used in functional foods and dietary supplements. The company also completed the acquisition of Napro Pharma AS, a Norwegian manufacturer of omega-3 fish oils for the nutrition industry.

* Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited announced that Good Foods Enterprises has launched three cookies with the MEG-3 logo. Ocean Nutrition's U.S.-based micro-encapsulation plant has reopened the spray dryer portion of the facility, which had been destroyed in an October 2005 fire.

* LycoRed announced its entry into the vitamin and mineral premix market in the U.S. The company also appointed Bill Murphy as director of the premix business unit that was established in June in order to serve the U.S. and Canada. Jessica Calhoun joined LycoRed Corp. as manager of technical services.

* David Michael & Co. and SPI Polyols Inc. announced a partnership to promote the use of Maltisweet IC Maltitol Syrup for no-sugar-added and reduced-sugar ice cream applications.

* Kraft Foods announced that the Economic Development Board has conferred the International Headquarters Award on its Singapore operations.

* Ebro Puleva S.A. is paying approximately $280 million in acquiring the Minute Rice brand and assets in the U.S. and Canada from Kraft Foods Global Inc. The Minute brand will become part of Riviana Foods Inc., an Ebro Puleva subsidiary. In other Ebro Puleva news, Puleva Biotech and the Wright Group announced a joint marketing and development partnership aimed at creating new products and markets for omega-3 essential fatty acids.

* FONA International hired Amy McDonald as director of sales.

* Ashley Joyce is now marketing specialist with Danisco's Probiotics Group.

* CHS Inc. named Nathan Smithson as regional sales manager.

* Treatt plc opened Treatt China in Shanghai, supporting the company's sales and marketing efforts in the region and working alongside its current agent, Ter Chemicals Hong Kong, and its local distributor.

* Vegetables Juices Inc. opened a new innovation center at the company's corporate headquarters in Bedford Park, Ill.

* Cadbury Schweppes opened its first regional Science & Technology Center (S&T) in Singapore. The S$4.3 million (U.S. $2.7 million), 920-sq.-meter innovation center will focus on creating new gum and candy products and exploring new food technology to enhance its product development.

* Anne Forristall Luke was named president of the U.S. Tuna Foundation.

* Frank Buberl was named regional account manager for Quaker Maid Meats.

* International Specialty Products Inc. announced the promotion of Martha Llaneras to senior manager, technical services, Food Additives North America.

* Sensus America LLC announced that its Frutafit inulin products have been approved as a dietary fiber in Canada.

* The American Academy of Chefs inducted Robert “Bobby” Hatoff, HAAC, of Chicago into the Honorary AAC during a formal ceremony and dinner at the 2006 ACF National Convention in Philadelphia.

* Weetabix North America named Chuck Marble executive vice president.

* The National Restaurant Association announced the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show will remain at Chicago's McCormick Place through 2011.

* Aaron Skyberg of SK Food International was elected to the Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) board of directors.

* Tate & Lyle Ventures, a new venture capital fund backed by Tate & Lyle, has been formally launched and will be led by managing partners Simon Barnes and David Atkinson. The limited partnership fund will invest in start-ups and expansion stage companies. The fund will have $45 million committed by Tate & Lyle at closing.

* Mastertaste Inc. appointed David Diaz to general manager of its flavors team in Pachuca, Mexico.

* Michael L. Minor, CEC, AAC, HGT, joined Custom Culinary Inc. as director of Culinary Services.

* International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. appointed Robert M. Amen as chairman of the board and chief executive officer.

* D.D. Williamson announced that Margaret A. Lawson will become vice president, Science and Innovation.

* The Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) announced its new leadership for 2006-2007: president Geri Berdak of The Solae Company, and vice president Ted Nordquist of WholeSoy & Co.

* UTEK Corporation and Gadot Biochemical Industries Ltd. signed a strategic alliance agreement. In line with its strategic goal to develop innovative solutions for the fortification and supplement industry, Gadot is seeking new technologies to produce new health ingredients as well as to improve its current production processes.

* TIC Gums announced Scott Riefer will now serve as vice president of science and technology and Greg Andon, formerly vice president of new business development, has been named president of TIC Gums.

* Barentz B.V. appointed BCH America Inc. as its exclusive North American distributor.

* The American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS) is awarding Solbar Hatzor Ltd. first place in two categories of analysis of protein, fiber, oil and moisture levels in soybean samples by the AOCS Laboratory Proficiency Program for excellent performance, and honorable mention for analytical determination of oilseed meal.

* Sartori Food Corporation completed the purchase of The Antigo Cheese Company and The Blackfoot Cheese Company.

* Integrated Bakery Resources celebrated the grand opening of its blending plant in Arlington, Ore.

* David Weber was promoted to executive vice president and elected to board of directors at Burke Corporation.

* Huber Engineered Materials announced the acquisition of West Coast Ingredients in Modesto, Calif.

* The American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS) presented Loders Croklaan with the “Outstanding Paper Presentation” award at the 97th AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, for the company's research on palm oil crystallization.

* Ottens Flavors announced its merger with MK Flavors & Co. Mexico based in Mexico City, Mexico. The Mexican operation will now bear the name MK Ottens Flavors. The merger will enable Ottens to increase its market presence in Central and South America.

* Faribault Foods announced it has acquired the perpetual license of S&W branded dry soaked beans for North America from Del Monte Corporation.

* Smithfield Foods Inc. will pay $575 million to acquire substantially all of the assets of the branded meats business of ConAgra Foods Inc.

New at the New Products Conference

Prepared Foods' annual New Products Conference (NPC) has grown to become the industry's premier educational event, attracting speakers and attendees from across the globe. As always, organizers seek to incorporate novel new elements to the NPC, and this year is no exception:

* The first day will see a series of pre-conference workshops, as the Product Development Management Association offers attendees a highly customized, intimate learning opportunity on such topics as Effective Brainstorming, How to Become a Learning Organization and Driving Your Creativity.

* In addition to the myriad topics discussed by speakers over the next two days, the final half-day session will boast what can only be described as an interactive culinary event. Directed by experts from the Culinary Institute of America, attendees will explore the trends gracing the culinary landscape, followed by a culinary tasting session to sample foods resulting from these influences.

For more information on attending the 2006 NPC, visit or contact Marge Whalen at 630-694-4347 or