Kellogg’s World Temptations cereal features premium packaging and three indulgent varieties.
One year ago we wrote that one of the biggest stories in European functional foods was the launch of Aviva from Novartis. This year, that story is still big news, but for another reason--Aviva was withdrawn from the U.K. market last year.

The Aviva line featured clinically proven foods with benefits for the heart, bones or digestion. Products included cereals, bars, biscuits, hot chocolate drink and juice drink.

Originally launched in the U.K. and Switzerland in late 1999, the line was rolled out during 2000 to other markets. However, poor sales prompted its withdrawal in the U.K.--there was resistance to price from both retailers and consumers.

In contrast, Unilever had significant success in 2000 with its Pro-activ cholesterol-reducing spread, launched in direct competition to Benecol. Last year saw its launch across Europe using Unilever's brands: Becel, Fruit d'Or (France) and Flora (U.K.).

The use of the leading spreads brand gave the product considerable exposure, although some industry commentators questioned the wisdom of using the brand on a cholesterol-reducing product, as regular Flora or Becel spreads had previously featured cholesterol-related health claims. Sales of Pro-activ, which retails at a significant premium over regular spreads, have enabled Unilever to market the product in a 500 g tub size in some markets, alongside the existing 250 g tub.

In Switzerland, Mars introduced a prebiotic chewy sweet under the Tunes brand.
Several new players entered the functional foods arena in the last 12 months, notably Mars. The company introduced in Switzerland a prebiotic chewy sweet using the Tunes brand, better known for medicated confectionery. The sweets are enriched with prebiotic fibers and vitamins A, C and E. They are packaged in a flip-top box with a "wellbeing" label.

In Belgium, a new functional bread was targeted at women. Retailer Delhaize Le Lion debuted private label Femina bread, a wholemeal sliced bread with vitamins and folic acid.

Bread is increasingly being used as a carrier for healthy ingredients. Two launches last year: Cult-1 prebiotic bread with inulin and oligofructose from Pals in Norway, and Lite Tofu Bread, rich in isoflavonoids, from Deganit in Israel.

Omega 3 remained a popular functional food ingredient last year, with several launches in diverse categories. In the French dairy market, Candia introduced a semi-skimmed milk with omega 3 fatty acids, claimed to be beneficial to the heart and circulation. In Spain, Dhul launched a chilled crème caramel dessert containing omega 3 and vitamin E. Also in Spain, Industrias Rodriguez introduced Biosan Activa with omega 3 plus high levels of fortification with eight essential vitamins.

Organic's March

Last year provided further evidence of the move of organic foods into the mainstream. Heinz finally entered the organic baby foods market in the U.K. with the launch of a range of organic products. The products are controlled and certified organic by Bioagricoop (Italy) and are free from GM ingredients, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

Although several players were already active in the organic baby foods segment, Heinz enjoys a significant market share in the U.K., making its entry critical to more widespread take-up of organic baby foods. Also in the U.K., Nestle introduced an organic version of its Nescafe instant coffee, alongside the regular variety which dominates the U.K. coffee market.

Play Time

A notable trend in recent months has been the popularity of convenience food products with a fun twist--products which positively encourage the consumer to play with his or her food.

The Cheestrings brand of snack cheese strings from Irish company Golden Vale was extended last year with a novel concept in "play food." Cheestrings DIY Pizza is a pizza kit for children, comprising a pizza base, sauce and Cheestrings (for topping). Children can prepare their own pizza, then cook it in a microwave oven in just one minute. Sold chilled at around £1.50 (US$ 2.60), the product offers a cheap and fun meal solution for kids.

Confectionery manufacturers also have new lines that add a fun twist. Cadbury's Creme Egg 'n' Soldiers, for example, is a creme-filled chocolate egg, accompanied by chocolate fingers to dip into the egg ("soldiers" are traditionally fingers of toast to dip into a soft-boiled egg).

Snacking Persona

Greater flexibility of mealtimes and the growing trend toward eating on the go have led consumers to snack on an ever greater variety of foods.

Kellogg's latest cereal launch in the U.K. typifies this trend. World Temptations--a line of premium, luxury cereals--is dual positioned as a breakfast item or a snack. Due to their composition, however, the products perform better as a snack than as a cereal with milk. Three indulgent varieties are available: Belgian Chocolate Dream, Caribbean Fruit Carnival, and Mediterranean Nut Medley.

As an added point of difference over other cereals, World Temptations is packed in attractive cylindrical paperboard tubs with reclosable lid. PF