Classy Private Labels

Target has begun producing and distributing several Target-exclusive lines of packaged goods. They are still private label products in the way we define the phrase, but the idea of them is contrary to what Americans have always understood and is more similar to how private label is regarded elsewhere in the world.

Target is trying to change the “generic” perception. By using B-list celebrities and savvy marketing techniques, the company is actually drawing consumers to the stores to buy these products specifically, not as an alternative to another brand. Target's newest line is Ming Tsai Blue Ginger, created by Ming Tsai, the star of the East Meets West cooking show. The gourmet-flavored, reasonably priced line includes Shallot-Soy Vinaigrette, Salt & Vinegar Rice Crackers, and Thai Style Jasmine Rice.

Dining In

American consumers have been turning to comfort foods, and manufacturers are now developing meal and packaging concepts that suit these tastes. Boston Market (Heinz), for example, released the Dinner for Two! sub-brand.

Each box contains enough food to serve two people full meals, complete with entrée and side dishes. The line includes Country Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy and Corn; and Chicken & Macaroni Cheese. The 35.5-oz. packs retail for about $6.99. This joins a similar line released last year from Emmpak Foods's Emmber Heat & Serve Dinner Entrees for Two, which also included some down-home tastes like meatloaf and carved chicken.

Battling a Snack Attack

Consumers eat at home, in the car, at the desk, and probably have the occasional snack attack at midnight, too. To battle the chip-and-dip crave, many companies are developing low fat or lower fat snack products. Glenn Foods, known for a popular brand of Soy Crispy Wispy Chips and Soy Crisps, has introduced Popcorn Chips. In original and popcorn flavors, this line of 100% organic corn chips are low in fat and have only 50 calories per serving.

Robert's American Gourmet recently added a slew of “booty” with its Puffed Rice and Corn Snacks, including Veggie Booty with Spinach and Kale, Aged White Cheddar, Wisconsin Cheddar, and Orange & Cherry. Recently introduced in Canada is a line called Skinny Sticks, a four-SKU line of low fat veggie-potato sticks that are hollow in the middle and resemble French fries. They come in Original Spud Sticks, Garden Veggie, Maui Wowie, and Island Lime Chili flavors—the latter two catering to the emerging hot and spicy trend.

Everyone Needs to Share

While not typically covered in this space, this is odd enough to warrant a mention. Petsmart, the national pet retailer, introduced a dual-functioning bottled water to its consumers: Petsmart 'Sharables' for Me & My Pal Purified Drinking Water.

Yes, it is a bottled water that both you and your pet can enjoy. The packaging makes it easy to satisfy everyone. A sports cap tops the bottle's neck, and the bottom of the bottle fits into a plastic base, which when removed, serves as a drinking bowl for your dog, cat, or bird. The 1L bottles feature triple-filtered fresh water and retails for just 99 cents.

Shaping Up

For years, manufacturing pasta shapes to cater to the whims of children and the changing seasons has been a hallmark of gourmet companies and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. (Kraft recently modified its product one level higher. Its cheese mix is blue-colored for the SpongeBob SquarePants variety.)

Now, a number of companies are getting in the act. In Canada, the Catelli brand (Ronzoni Foods) is producing kid-friendly pastas. Aliens Extraterrestres Adventure Pasta has outer space shapes and a colorfully decorative box. The Sea Creatures variety lets sharks swim in the pasta sauce. Another example comes from Uncle Ben's. As if starting the bowl packaging craze was not enough, the company is now taking the time to finesse its products to make them even more appealing. A new variety in the Mini Bowl line (sized for lunches) is Sizzlin' Sausage Pizzeria. Its pasta pieces are shaped like triangular pizza slices. Earlier this year, Pasta Shoppe, a gourmet manufacturer, introduced a pasta shaped like grape bunches and leaves. How gourmet!

Alien Extraterrestres: durum semolina, spinach powder, colour, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, ferrous sulphate

Per 85g serving (dry), energy 319cal, protein 11g, fat 1.5g, carbohydrate 64g, thiamine 41%, riboflavin 6%, niacin 22%, folacin 77%, iron 18%

Sidebar: Global Trends

Occasionally, adult drinks such as natural, caffeine-free tea products are targeted at children and even babies. In South Africa, from National Brands, Freshpack Baby's Organic has been especially developed for babies. Available in honeybush and rooibos varieties, the package warns that it should not be used as a substitute for breast milk.

Many more flavored beers in glass bottles are competing within the flavored alcoholic beverages (FABs) market. The latest novel flavors of tequila and apricot join existing lemon, pink grapefruit, apple and other varieties. The new products in question are Mixed Malt Aprikos in Norway from Kopparbergs Breweries, with 4.7% alcohol by volume (ABV) and an apricot flavor; and Salitos Tequila in the Netherlands from Salitos Beverages Overseas, with 5.9% ABV and a tequila flavoring. The Salitos line also has an interesting packaging concept—the glass bottle features a bottle opener (for twist-off caps) incorporated within the base of the glass. It can be used to open a second bottle of Salitos.

Flavors in the cider market also are increasingly interesting. The latest, cactus & lime, has been used to flavor a new Xider line in Denmark from Carlsberg. Its light green color can be seen through the transparent glass bottle. Clear and refreshing, it is also made with spring water.

The FABs market continues to grow, develop and innovate the alcoholic beverages market as a whole. Beer has started to make in-roads into the market with the addition of fruity flavors and premium glass packaging. Examples of some recent beer "alcopops" include Holsten Fusion in the United Kingdom. Now, the wine market is attempting to do the same with the German introduction of Reddy Red Wine Mix from St Catherine Weinhandel. It is made with a blend of 49% red wine and 51% cola to give it a refreshing feel, and comes in a single-serve 350ml glass bottle.

Launching a New Product?
If so, contact Allison Enright at Mintel International Group, 213 W. Institute Pl., Suite 208, Chicago, IL 60610. Call 312-932-0600, fax 312-932-0474 or e-mail Information in this column is from the Global New Products Database, the premier source of global product intelligence, published by Mintel International Group.