Flavor Extravaganza From Abroad

Novel ingredients/ flavors play an increasingly important part in biscuits. In Belgium, Desobry has introduced (under the Biscuits Garden brand) floral-flavored biscuits in varieties such as rose, lavender and violet. In Germany, probiotic ingredients have been added to Wikana's new sandwich biscuits. They are filled with a yogurt cream containing lactobacillus and acidophilus bacteria. Also new are spoon-shaped cookies said to be ideal for stirring hot beverages or to scoop up ice cream. They have been launched in New Zealand and are called Spoon Biscookies.

Bread news this month focuses on novel ingredients. In Germany, Schnitzer has launched an organic bread with amaranth (a plant with purple flowers). In Spain, Bimbo has launched healthy breads, including a variety with “lipoactive” fiber, said to delay the absorption of fat and sugars and boost intestinal action.

Bowling for Meal Sales

Surprisingly, Nestle USA, Glendale, Calif., is the last company to enter the bowl meal market, doing so without putting “bowl” in the name of the sub-line. Its Slowfire Classics do have a flash on the package that says “new bowls,” but the name instead focuses on the slow-cooked nature of the entrees.

The flavors include Beef Stew, Homestyle Chicken & Noodle, Chicken Minestrone Stew, Chunky Beef & Bean Chili, and Cheesy Pizzatini (pasta, sausage, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce). All sell for about $2.50 for a 12-oz. size. It also is a surprise that the products appear under the Stouffer Red Box line and not Lean Cuisine. No doubt, lower calorie and lower fat versions from Lean Cuisine will be on the way. However, in the past, the company has introduced new sub-lines under both names at the same time.

Cereal Snacking

General Mills, Minneapolis, is trying again to get a cereal product into the snack aisle—this time with Chex Morning Mix Cereal. The concept has been seen before: cereal packaged in individual packets in a multi-packet box. The three flavors (Honey Nut, Cinnamon, and Fruit Nut) are promoted as being for the on-the-go breakfast crowd. The cereals don't necessarily require milk to be added before eating.

The varieties seem more similar to Chex snack mix than Chex cereal. For example, the Honey Nut variety contains granola clusters, raisins, almond pieces, and cranberries. It's not clear if General Mills will be successful with this concept; the price may be too high ($2.99 for 6.9 oz.) for the convenience.

To the Extreme

Frito-Lay, Plano, Texas, goes the distance with Doritos Extreme Tortilla Chips, extra-thick and crunchy chips blasted with flavors like Bold BBQ and Zesty Sour Cream & Cheddar. Available in 13.25-oz. bags for $2.96 in supermarkets, they follow on the heels of the company's Lay's FlavorRush potato chips.

This high-flavor concept is just one more example of a trend in the snack category—a focus on flavor and not on fat reduction. Expect more companies to follow suit and introduce very flavorful versions of existing products (such as Nabisco's Extreme Cheese Ritz Cracker Sandwiches) or completely new lines of products that promote their strong flavors and toppings.

Stop the Soup

Campbell Soup's, Camden, N.J., has moved beyond the soup aisle with a new line of meal kits called Supper Bakes. The kits include everything necessary for a casserole-type meal, except the meat. A seasoning flavor packet, can of soup and pouch of pasta/rice/stuffing is packed in a 19.8-oz. box. Chicken with Rice, Lemon Chicken with Herb Rice, Savory Pork Chops with Herb Stuffing, and Garlic Chicken with Pasta take only five minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to bake, according to the company.

They sound like translations of the tried-and-true recipes that have appeared on the boxes of Minute Rice and Stove Top for years. It's a clever move by the company, which has seen soup sales falling steadily over the last year or so. One reason soup may NOT be such good food these days is due to the impact of easy-to-prepare meal kits that could be taking the place of soup as a meal. This product keeps Campbell's on the dinner table.

Any Time is Snack Time?

The varieties aren't new or unusual (Chocolate Chunk, Banana Walnut, Golden Chocolate Chip) and the package isn't even that revolutionary (stand-up pouch). However, the flash on the package tells the real story: “3 Minutes — Package to Oven!” These Snackin' Cake Mixes from General Mills, Minneapolis, are quite economical (13.2 oz. for about $2) and require only the addition of water. Mix water and mix together in a pan, pop in the oven for about 20 minutes, and in just a few more minutes you've got a warm cake for a snack.

One more in a long procession of one-step or easy-step baking or cooking, the new line is also a step back to the original cake mixes that required only water, unlike today's mixes which require (usually) water, eggs and oil.

Chocolate Chunk: sugar, enriched flour bleached (wheat flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), semi-sweet chocolate chunks (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, butterfat, soy lecithin, and vanillin — an artificial flavoring), partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil, cocoa processed with alkali, corn starch, leavening (baking soda, sodium aluminum phosphate, dicalcium phosphate, monocalcium phosphate), wheat starch, dried egg whites, salt, modified corn starch, soy lecithin, malted barley flour, xanthan gum, artificial flavor, soy flour, nonfat milk.

Launching a New Product?

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