A Bit of Bite-Sized

Smaller sizes are leading to new introductions. Mini versions of Oreos, Ritz and Chips Ahoy led to great success for the Nabisco unit of Kraft Foods, Northfield,Ill., and other companies have followed suit with their own smaller-sized versions of popular items.

In fact, Lance Inc., Charlotte, N.C., has found that bite-sized sandwich crackers have been the fastest-growing category among filled sandwich products, expanding by more than 60% in the past nine months.

Lance is capitalizing on the trend with a new line of bite-sized crackers called “Lance Poppers.” Designed for on-the-go and at-home snacking, Lance Poppers can be found in three flavors—Toastchee Poppers, a peanut butter sandwich cracker that is Lance's bestseller; Nekot S'mores Poppers, a chocolate and marshmallow flavor; and Nip Chee Jalapeno Poppers, a flavor combination of jalapeno and cheddar.

'Minor' Quibbles

Responding to concerns voiced by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CPSI), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has found no evidence to indicate that “malternative” alcoholic beverages are being marketed to minors. The CPSI has criticized beer and spirits makers for what it says is targeting teens and, last year, sent study data to the FTC suggesting underage drinkers were three times more likely than adults to be aware of such drinks and twice as likely to have tried them.

An FTC letter said it has closed its investigation of the drinks following a review of advertising, internal company marketing documents and retail placements in 10 cities. The letter from FTC director T. Howard Beales said, “We do not believe that the available malt beverages . . . are targeted to minors.”

Nonetheless, improvements might be warranted, according to the FTC. Some drinks do not quantify their alcohol content or have “inconspicuous or unclear disclosure.”

Heinz Goes Green (Organic)

With the market firmly cornered on the emerald hue of ketchup, H.J. Heinz Co., Pittsburgh, is turning its tomato-based condiment green in another way. Betting that the market is ripe for an organic ketchup with a big brand behind it, Heinz is unveiling an organic variety under its well-known name.

The company already controls about 60% of the U.S. retail ketchup market and expects Heinz Organic Ketchup to be on the shelves of mainstream and specialty supermarkets nationwide by the end of the summer.

The organic version will have different ingredients and packaging, instead using 100% certified organic vine-ripened tomatoes and will be sold in 15 oz. plastic containers. The label also will reflect an organic quality—with Heinz' traditional red label replaced with a green version. Another difference: the organic version will cost about 50% more than regular Heinz.

Happy Together

General Mills, Minneapolis, has partnered with Sunkist, Sherman Oaks, Calif., to take advantage of the Sunkist brand's reputation of sweet, juicy fruit. Their efforts have resulted in a line of Sunkist Fruit Snacks in three flavors—mixed fruit, orange lemon lime, and strawberry.

Each serving of the new snack is made with real fruit juice and provides 100% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C. Curiously, while the line would appear to be ideally suited to target children, the companies describe the snack as designed to appeal to the whole family.

According to Annie Zipfel, marketing manager for Sunkist Fruit Snacks at General Mills, “At least one-fourth of all fruit snacks are eaten by people older than 13.”

The line may be an indication of things to come from the pair, as a Sunkist spokesperson says the companies look forward to continued innovation as partners.