A Different Kind of Bowl

While most bowls are frozen, a few shelf-stable offerings can be found. Most notable is General Mills', Minneapolis, Betty Crocker Bowl Appetit line. The shelf-stable mixes require water and a microwave to make a line of meals and/or snacks that focuses mainly on pasta or potatoes. Although the line is not specifically geared to kids, much of the advertising appears to target teenagers.

So, while it seems the kid part of the bowl market may be neglected, Williams Foods, Lenexa, Kan., has stepped in with its Munch-a-Roni Pasta Bowls. The same concept—add water and microwave—has kid-focused graphics and names. Taco Roni and Mac & Cheese sell for $1.49.

Untapped Potential?

The U.S. certainly has its share of yogurts with fruit, flavor and crunchy bits. The market also has several cottage cheese products with fruit on the bottom. However, rice pudding with these features is still a novelty.

Kozy Shack now offers a clever extension to its current packaged rice pudding—Rice Pudding & Fruit on the Bottom. It is a combination of rice pudding and rich fruit preserves. A 3-lb. paperboard carton contains 12 4-oz. cups: six original flavors, three apple cinnamon flavors, and three strawberry flavors. It retails for $6.72 in club stores and supermarkets nationwide. Rice pudding, while popular in some ethnic cultures in the U.S., does not have the wide acceptance of yogurt or other snacks or desserts. Perhaps the added fruit on the bottom will aid its expansion.

Adults Only

Vodka and chocolate finally meet with First Drink Brands' latest entry, Stolichnaya Vodka Shots, sold in Canada. Contained in a silver paperboard tube, these milk chocolates are filled with Stolichnaya Russian vodka. Varieties include Stoli Vanil, Stoli Razberi, Stoli Ohranj, and Stoli Blue, and are found on supermarket shelves.

The tubes (95g) sell for C$11.99 in Canada. Each tube contains each of the four flavors in six-count bags. Plenty of alcohol-filled chocolates have made their way to market, but this treat's name very clearly conveys the convenient and indulgent nature of the products. Don't be surprised to see competitive products appear with other flavored spirits.

Play with Your Food—Please

Mom always told you to not play with your food. Now, Regal Confections wants you to. The company is offering chocolate versions of two very popular games, available only in specialty stores in Canada. If the game of Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly isn't going quite your way, just eat your opponents' hotels or question cards. These chocolate versions won't last as long as the real thing, but they are priced lower—about C$10.

Increasingly, products have some sense of participation and interaction—through the package functions, the assembly required, etc. This product line is a bit of a twist on that concept, in that you play the game with chocolate pieces.

Bowl-a-Rama

Some really great things can be said about the abundance of bowl-style meals on the market. They are outstanding regarding convenience, and have reliably good flavor. Most bowls have aimed at lunch or dinner occasions and are frozen. Surprisingly, Uncle Ben's, Hackettstown, N.J., brought bowl meals to mainstream stores in 1998. (Cascadian Farm had an offering in health food stores the prior year.)

Uncle Ben's now has expanded the concept into breakfast. Its Breakfast Bowls have varieties such as Bacon, Egg & Potatoes; Egg, Cheese & Salsa; Ham, Egg & Peppers, Peach & Pecan Pancakes, French Toast & Sausage, Egg & Biscuit, Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes, and Seven Grain Cereal & Fruit. It's hard to know if this concept will work. The lunch and dinner bowls focus on foods usually served in bowls (chili, stir fry, etc.), which makes sense. However, customers may not be as receptive to breakfast offerings in the bowl format. Time will tell.

Nestle's Stouffer's Lean Cuisine is finally weighing into the bowl market as well, with six varieties of entrees, such as Chicken Fried Rice and Chicken Teriyaki. It may be too little too late for the line, though. These are the very last ones on the market (preceded by Uncle Ben's and Healthy Choice, plus other smaller brands).

Other bowl additions this month include an Asian-style sub-brand called YuSing Bowls, from Luigino's Italian-style brand Michelina's; the line also features Teriyaki Chicken. In addition, Verdelli Farms' Harvest Select line has introduced two salad bowls that will be sold, in part, at convenience stores.

Global Trends

Drinking up trends. Vodka continues to appear in flavored alcoholic beverages (FAB), waters increasingly offer fortification, and hot drinks in France are enhanced with unusual ingredients.

The FAB market has a new contender in Australia. Ruski Orange, available through Guinness UDV, is a 5% alcohol by volume (ABV), orange-flavored beverage made with genuine Russian vodka. That “genuine Russian vodka” just happens to be Stolichnaya, the world's best seller, so the name appears—unsurprisingly—on the bottle's label.

The main trend in the packaged water market has been to add value through the use of flavors, ingredients or packaging. In some cases, companies have added health-oriented ingredients to water to create a “functional” segment, or have positioned fortified waters as energy drinks. In Belgium, for example, Coca-Cola extended the Aquarius sports drink brand with Aquana Sportwater, a lemon-flavored water with mineral salts and vitamins. North America still awaits the launch of new, enhanced waters from both PepsiCo (Aquafina Essentials) and Coca-Cola (Dasani Nutriwater).

Increasingly, products are marketed under names to evoke “flavors of the world.” In hot beverages, Tilmann in France has used the term “Saveurs du Monde” as the brand name for a new line of infusions. Four varieties are available: North, a tonic infusion with red fruits; Chine, a “harmony” infusion with green tea and cinnamon; India, a relaxing infusion with citronella and cardamon; and Sahara, a digestive infusion with green tea and mint.

Launching a New Product? If so, contact Lynn Dornblaser at Mintel/GNPD, 213 W. Institute Pl., Suite 208, Chicago, IL 60610. Call 312-932-0600, fax 312-932-0474, or email ldornbla@mintel.com. Information in this column is from the Global New Products Database, the premier source of global product intelligence, published by Mintel International Group.