Expanding Reach

With the rising popularity of Hispanic foods, Celestial Seasonings (Boulder, Colo.) has decided the audience would be well-served with its teas to accompany those cuisines. While the newest offerings from the company may not be flavored specifically with that audience in mind, the new items join the crowd of products featuring a package tailored to the Hispanic community. However, Celestial Seasonings' teas may hold an advantage: distinctive flavor blends, made with ingredients and flavors popular in the Hispanic market.

Available in honey lemon diet, apple banana chamomile, cinnamon apple and linden mint herb, the teas blend herbs and flavors the company claims deliver healthful benefits. Major Hispanic markets will notice a slight difference, however: Spanish-first bilingual copy on the package.

According to ACNielsen (New York), diet is the best-selling tea among Hispanics, and chamomile and linden teas are among the top-selling flavors.

Grains of Truth

In what appears to be an emerging trend, companies continue to expand the options for Americans seeking whole grains. General Mills' (Minneapolis) plans to revamp its cereals with whole grains were reviewed in November's Marketwatch.

However, General Mills is not the only entity with whole grain on the brain. Responding to a “soaring” consumer demand for whole-grain breads, Sara Lee Bakery (Chicago) is fortifying Earth Grains Extra Fiber breads. The company claims the line provides a “good source” of fiber, vitamin D and calcium and folic acid. Three varieties of the bread are available: 100% whole wheat, 100% whole wheat made with honey and 100% multi-grain. Two slices of the breads provide 9g of fiber, 30% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium, 20% of the RDA of vitamin D and 20% of the RDA of folic acid.

From the South

According to Packaged Facts (New York), consumers are embracing mainstream Mexican and authentic Hispanic convenience foods, sales of which have grown 103% between 1999 and 2004. The reasons are two-fold.

One, American tastes are shifting toward more flavorful items, and convenience is essential to reaching the time-starved populace. Second, more U.S. Hispanics are looking for ways to ease meal preparation. Convenience foods accounted for $505 million in 2004, while the Hispanic food and beverage market totaled $4.3 billion.

California coffee houses and restaurants may have a hint of the next mainstream item, reporting a surge in the popularity of Mexican hot chocolate, which is made with real milk, dark Mexican chocolate and such spices as vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg.

Pennsylvania State Study

A study presented by Pennsylvania State University (State College, Pa.) has found that incorporating “low-energy-dense” foods into the diet is key to calorie reduction and successful longer-term weight loss. “Low-energy-dense” foods were defined as water-rich and have fewer calories per gram; soup, vegetables and fruit were cited.

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO, Silver Spring, Md.).

In the one-year study, jointly funded by the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Md.) and Campbell Soup Co. (Camden, N.J.), subjects who incorporated two servings of soup a day as part of a reduced-calorie diet lost 16 pounds, compared with 11 pounds lost among subjects who consumed two servings of calorie-matched, higher-energy-dense snacks like pretzels or baked chips. The soup group also reported feeling “very full” and “less hungry” compared with those in the snack group.