Light's Out?

Though trend forecasters predict reduced consumer demand for low-fat items, a few persevering companies are providing foods for calorie- conscious shoppers. New York Frozen Foods, for example, has introduced Lite Texas Garlic Toast, a lower-cal version of its "Texas-sized" slices of garlic toast with half the fat.

Also debuting a reduced-fat alternative, Smith Dairy Products Company has introduced Mooverse 2% Reduced Fat Vanilla Shake. The product promises to deliver the same vitamins and minerals as whole milk, minus all the fat.

Nevertheless, Procter & Gamble is looking to expand uses of its once-heralded fat substitute. Sales of Olestra have fallen short of expectations, and P&G is researching new alternatives for product surplus. Although plans are still in the speculative stage and no filings have been made with the EPA, Olestra could be used to clean up industrial pollutants, according to P&G.

A Round of Cheerios

General Mills'Cheerios has been named the "official cereal of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA)." In addition, the cereal will sponsor three of the LPGA's players--Lorie Kane, Cristie Kerr and Janice Moodie--throughout the 2001 season.

The threesome will each be featured on packages of Multi-Grain Cheerios this summer, and the agreement is an expansion of the partnership that General Mills and the LPGA formed last season.

According to Cheerios spokesperson Greg Zimprich, "Cheerios' relationship with the LPGA last season proved a mutually beneficial affiliation for both organizations. We wanted to expand our association with the LPGA this season, and we feel . . . we can create a platform that provides great opportunities."

The Cheerios agreement "validates the growing popularity of the LPGA and the sport of women's golf," says Ty Votaw, LPGA commissioner.

McJava Man

McDonald's has found a new way to expand its reach--coffee. The burger giant opened its first McCafé in the U.S. in April. Located inside a McDonald's in the Loop area of Chicago, the coffee bar sells pastries, tea, desserts and, of course, coffee.

The menu is not the only difference, however. The décor features leather couches and bistro tables that evoke notions of a French café rather than French fries. Still, doubters question whether the fast food chain will manage to lure coffee snobs and Starbucks fans.

McDonald's has already had some success with the concept, boasting almost 300 McCafés in 17 countries--each in or near a McDonald's. The rollout in the U.S. could well be swift and wide, but a competitor has a big lead.

Starbucks has roughly 3,300 outlets and opens 15 more every week, but some analysts say the coffeehouse giant has yet to master the quick-service end of the business, a trait that made McDonald's famous.

Cereal is Hot

Hot cereals appear to be making a comeback. The New Products column in Prepared Foods' May issue noted a heated version of Choice from Mead Johnson Nutritionals. Now comes word of Hodgson Mill, Inc.'s Multi Grain Hot Cereal, comprised of essential whole grains including oat bran and cracked wheat, as well as the added benefits of wheat bran, wheat germ and more.

Hodgson Mill's cereal provides "a healthy dose of soy" in addition to the aforementioned flaxseed that is valuable in lowering cholesterol, protecting against cancer, and maintaining good health.

"Many people eat whole flaxseed thinking they are getting its entire nutritient benefits," says Paul Kirby, vice president of Hodgson Mill. "However, just eating whole flaxseed may not give all of its omega-3 benefits. We use a specially milled flaxseed for our hot cereal. Unlike whole flaxseed, which cannot be digested, our specially milled flaxseed allows the body the opportunity to fully absorb the benefits of the heart-healthy omega-3 oil."