• Fortification and dietary trends cater to consumers' common health concerns.
  • Products target children.
  • “Hybrids” have sweeter aspirations.
The baked goods industry lost steam in 2002 with fewer product introductions in virtually every category. A few areas of potential growth exist, however, including products with functional ingredients, low carbohydrate content, and portable containers. Key players are also creating playful products to cater to fickle youngsters and “hybrid” products that blend baked goods with confectionery and salty snack products.

Nabisco went indulgent with a microwaveable chocolate chip cookie, while Quaker Oats went more convenient by putting several of its cookie varieties in a portable plastic container.

Functional and Fortified

Functional food products, which claim to enhance bodily functions and maintain the body's overall health, are moving into mainstream markets, including the bakery category.

Nature's Health, Chicago, introduced a line of Herbal Health Cookies with functional benefits, including a Skin Beauty Cookie, to promote healthy and clear skin, a Double Resolve Cookie, to improve immune function and resolve stagnation, and a Happy Stomach Cookie, to support spleen and stomach functions. For the growing child, new snack products include calcium fortification to promote healthy bone formation. Examples include Kraft Foods', Glenview, Ill., Teddy Cheddy's and Keebler's, Elmhurst, Ill., Sesame Street Barnyard Buddies Animal Crackers, both claimed to be good sources of calcium.

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats expanded its reach into a new home—Mondo Fruit Squeezers Snack Kit.

The Carbohydrate Taboo

After the low-carbohydrate diet gained momentum, a number of products entered the market to boost sales. Atkins Nutritionals, Hauppauge, N.Y., the driving force behind the trend, led the charge by creating an entire line of products with low carbohydrate content, dedicated to dieters in search of bakery products. A number of similar products have entered the market, but a majority of the action stems from smaller, niche marketers such as Morico Foods, Evansville, Ind. The company introduced Pure D-Lite cookies for low-carb dieters, claimed to be the “the first oven-baked, high-protein, sugar-free cookie” in the U.S.

According to the American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, Va., more than 16 million Americans have a form of diabetes, creating a substantial market for sugar-free bakery products for this segment. For instance, D-Liteful Bakery, Miami, formulated its Heavenly Desserts Sugar Free/Fat Free Meringue with sucralose to give all consumers the chance to indulge in decadent desserts. HKS Marketing, Brooklyn, followed suit with a large selection of sugar-free products under the Sweet 'N Low brand, including Choco Chip Cookies, Morning Crunch Bars, Vanilla Wafers, and Amaretto Biscotti.

For Here or To Go?

Many consumers are eating frequent snacks throughout the day rather than three large, sit-down meals. The trend, known as “grazing,” has focused a large portion of new product development on convenience and portability. Breakfast foods, in particular, must be extremely portable, evident from the popularity of breakfast bars and meal replacement shakes. To capture the busy consumer, Pillsbury, Minneapolis, introduced Waffle Sticks to its lineup, complete with syrup “Dippin' Cups” that can be warmed in the microwave in just eight seconds. Aurora Foods, St. Louis, had a similar idea in launching a product that incorporates a plain bagel, cream cheese and plastic spreader in one convenient package under the Lenders to Go! label. Finally, for the consumer in search of a portable snack in the middle of the day, Frito-Lay, Plano, Texas, added Quaker Oats Cookies to its line of Go-Snacks products. The sturdy crush-proof packaging is ideal for lunches and backpacks while the serving lid gives children and teens the opportunity to share with friends.

Blurring the Lines

Experimentation in the baked goods category led to hybrid products that cross the line into the confectionery and salty snack categories. For example, in 2002, Masterfoods USA, Hackettstown, N.J., introduced its “Cookies &” line, claimed to be the “next generation of cookies.” The new product features individually wrapped cookie bars topped with M&M's, Snickers, Twix, and Milky Way toppings. Kraft Foods introduced Ritz Bitz S'mores, an indulgent treat that features two graham crackers with chocolate and marshmallow cream filling for more “Mmm in the Middle.” A gourmet line from a company called the Immaculate Consumption, Flat Rock, N.C., has a number of unique cookies, including a special product for the consumer who appreciates a sweet and salty crunch, the Route 11 Potato Chip Cookie.

Products for Children

Snack time is a cherished ritual for many children, making it a daunting task to find acceptable products that taste great, are readily available, and still maintain an element of fun. Jel Sert, West Chicago, Ill., introduced an extremely convenient product, the Mondo Snack Kit, a snack and beverage combination that features a Mondo fruit squeezer and a Kellogg's, Battle Creek, Mich., Rice Krispies treats bar. The duo can be found in mass merchandise, drug, club, convenient and even toy stores—making it impossible for parents to avoid the classic arm tug at the checkout counter. For the young artist, Color-A-Cookie, Plainview, N.Y., introduced a novel new product that gives children the chance to literally play with their food, an Edible Coloring Cookie. The cookies are imprinted with different themes and can be colored with the fruit-flavored food coloring markers included in each package.

Children are finicky consumers, and in the never-ending struggle to stop the kids from whining, Sara Lee, Chicago, introduced IronKids Crustless Bread. On top of ridding children from the pesky crust, the product provides a number of nutrients, including iron and 25% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium.

Extensions Ahoy!

Without a doubt, Kraft Foods wins the award for building a brand. The company's Oreo and Chips Ahoy! products have crossed over into a number of areas including snacks kits, breakfast cereals, ice cream products, cheesecake mixes and pudding snacks, to name a few. Recent activity includes the launch of Oreo and Chips Ahoy! Cookie Barz, Oreo's Cereal with marshmallow chunks, and the ultra-indulgent Chips Ahoy! Ooey Gooey Warm 'n' Chewy Triple Chunk Cookie—designed to be warmed in the microwave in 15 seconds for a fresh-out-of-the-oven taste.

The information in this article was derived from Mintel International's Global New Products Database, www.gnpd.com, 312-932-0400.

Website Resources

www.kraft.com— Kraft Foods
www.keebler.com— Keebler
www.dliteful-bakery.com— D-Liteful Bakery
www.pillsbury.com— Pillsbury
www.aurorafoods.com— Aurora Foods
www.fritolay.com— Frito-Lay
www.masterfoods.com— Masterfoods USA
www.immaculatecomsumption.com— Immaculate Consumption
www.jelsert.com— Jel Sert
www.kelloggs.com— Kellogg's
www.coloracookie.com— Color-A-Cookie
www.saraleebakery.com— Sara Lee Bakery

Sidebar: Going Global

Bakery goods with functional ingredients such as the Herbal Health Cookies mentioned earlier are far more prevalent in countries outside the U.S. In fact, the range of functional bakery goods in foreign markets is quite extensive—ranging from beauty enhancers to digestive aids. In addition, a number of new products included age-specific fortification ingredients to cater to the specific health needs of consumers.

Products for young children often include calcium, iron and vitamin C to maintain the immune system and ensure proper development. However, products such as United Biscuit's Chiquilín Energy Biscuit in Spain claim to “maintain physical and intellectual energy” with an overabundance of fortification ingredients including zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, D & E.

On the opposite end, functional baked goods for older consumers often focus on more “adult” issues. For example, Biocentury launched a line of soy-based biscuits in Spain with selenium, zinc and vitamin A, C & E fortification to help preventcell damage. Products fortified with omega-3 fatty acids also were found in a number of countries (to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and blood circulation).

In Singapore, Gardenia Bakeries introduced Choc-A-Lot Twiggies Cakes with omega-3 fortification, and, in Malaysia, Hwa Tai Industries Berhad introduced Luxury Cereal Crackers with vitamin E, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids.