Industry Trends

FABulous new product developments. Energizing ingredients such as guarana are appearing in more than just sports drinks. Already seen in some coffee and confectionery products, Carlton & United Brewers' Carlton G, a "trendy" beer formulated with guarana and packaged in a glass bottle, is new in Australia. Designed for young adults, the product will probably compete with flavored alcoholic beverages (FABs), rather than regular beers. Herbal enhancement also plays a role in the latest move in the U.K.'s FABs market. The new Elements line from Halewood International includes Earth, Air, Fire and Water varieties, all with a vodka base and with added herbs, fruits and spices. Inhome consumption of FABs is growing in the U.K., although pubs and bars still account for the great majority of sales. Halewood has, consequently, launched the new line in 275ml and 700ml bottle sizes.

In complete contrast to the above, an independent brewer in the U.K. has turned to a 1,000-year-old recipe for its latest product. St. Peter's King Cnut ale is a 5% ABV unhopped ale, made using fruit, roasted barley, and stinging nettles. The ale is supposedly the first unhopped beer launched commercially in 200 years.

Citrus-flavored beers from a couple of major European brewers made an appearance in time for the summer for example, Grolsch premium lager in lemon and pink grapefruit varieties, in the Netherlands. In Egypt, Sibra Rheinfeloen has launched Moussy non-alcoholic "malt beer" with a peach flavor. Flavors also are highlighted in the FABs sector. New in the U.K. is Red Square's cola-flavored, vodka-based spirit, from Halewood International. Also in the U.K. is Bulvers' spicy hard cider, presenteded under the Strongbrow brand. The product blends cider, ginger, cinnamon and juniper and is packaged in a single-serve 275ml glass bottle.

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-mail ldornbla@mintel-iis.com. Information in this column is taken from the Global New Product Database, the premier source of global product intelligence, published by Mintel International Group.

The Main Squeeze

Just about anything can go in a tube. Agrilink Foods, Green Bay, Wis., is now selling Birds Eye Squeezle Sauz Fruit-Flavored Applesauce in a tube. The product retails in a 24-ct. box of 2.1-oz. tubes (half in Very Strawberry flavor and the other dozen in Awesome Cinnamon Apple flavor) for $4.98 in supermarkets.

Clearly, the product is aimed at kids, as evidenced by the name of the product and the package graphics. Kids are urged by the planet-dwelling slug on the front of the box to try the applesauce in either a frozen or refrigerated form.

This is a clever extension of the tube food idea, as kids do like applesauce. Frozen, it no doubt makes a good substitute for more calorie-laden frozen treats.

Ingredients
Awesome Cinnamon Apple: apples, high fructose corn syrup, water, sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon, ascorbic acid (to retain color), artificial color (red 40).

Nutrition
Serving size 2 tubes (120g), servings per container 12, calories 100, total fat 0g, sodium 5mg, total carbohydrate 24g, dietary fiber 1g, sugars 22g, protein 0g.

A New Kind of Ritz

Nabisco Brands, Parsippany, N.Y., has done a terrific job of keeping some old mainstay brands alive and vital. Oreo cookies have changeable images, filling colors andnowfilling flavors. Ritz crackers have unusual designs, a variety of sizes and new fillings.

The latest change to the Ritz cracker is probably the most significant yet. Instead of the buttery savory cracker, the new Ritz Bits S'mores Sandwiches are made with a graham cracker formulation, though still in the familiar Ritz shape. The crackers are then filled with a combination of chocolate and marshmallow, to make the well-known s'mores flavor. The product retails in a 9-oz. box for $2 in supermarkets.

Changing the cracker from salty to sweet is a bold move. It may take the Ritz name just a bit outside its comfort zone.

Ingredients
Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin {vitamin B2}, folic acid), sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, graham flour, honey, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cocoa (processed with alkali), baking soda, salt, cornstarch, milk (enzyme modified), chocolate, natural and artificial flavor, malted barley flour, peanuts.

Nutrition
Serving size 12 sandwiches (30g), servings per container about 9, calories 150, calories from fat 50, total fat 6g, saturated fat 1g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 140mg, total carbohydrate 22g, dietary fiber less than 1g, sugars 10g, protein 1g, vitamin A 0%, vitamin C 0%, calcium 0%, iron 4%.

In the Pink

First, colored ketchup, now comes colored squeeze margarine. ConAgra, Omaha, has extended the Parkay name with Parkay Fun Squeeze Tinted Margarine in blue and pink, aimed at kids. The products will retail in squeeze bottles in supermarkets.

Although this fun concept is sure to appeal to kids, the product choice may not be the right one. How often do kids put margarine on their own foods? Also, will moms prefer lower-fat choices? Time will tell, but if this is a success, don't be surprised to see more colored products for children. Heinz has proven the concept with its EZ Squirt green and purple ketchups.

As a side note, in South Africa, Nestle has been testing Gloob! mayonnaise, which is not only colored blue but also bubblegum flavored (not a concept likely to make it Stateside).

Ingredients
Liquid soybean oil, water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil*, tricalcium phosphate, salt, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, vegetable monoglyceride and soy lecithin (emulsifiers), xanthan gum, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate and calcium disodium EDTA (to preserve freshness), artificial flavors, FD&C red No. 3, phosphoric acid (acidulant), vitamin E, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3; *adds a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat.

Nutrition
Serving size 1 tbsp (14g), servings per container about 20, calories 70, calories from fat 70, total fat 8g, saturated fat 1.5g, polyunsaturated fat 4.5g, monounsaturated fat 2g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 100mg, total carbohydrate 0g, protein 0g, vitamin A 10%, calcium 10%, vitamin D 15%, vitamin E 10%; not a significant source of dietary fiber, sugars, vitamin C, iron.

One Word: Plastics

A word as simple as that can change how and when foods are consumed in the new century. Pepperidge Farm, Norwalk, Conn., is not the first company to introduce snacks in a plastic canister, but this product certainly comes in a most unique package.

Goldfish Flavor Blasts Crackers are now available in a 4-oz., easy-grip plastic bottle. According to the company, this new packaging is "great in your backpack or cupholder." The canister has several unique features. First, ridges on the side are just right for finger grips. Second, that now-popular "waisted" package shape makes it easy to grab and hold and provides a very unique appearance. Third, it has a reclosable flip-top lid. Consumers peel back the safety strip and can then flip open the lid to chow down some goldfish, then flip the lid back closed.

The package makes these Goldfish portable in a number of circumstances. Imagine, for example, a paper bag of Goldfish in a backpack, for example? Or in the car? The resealability, portability and refillability of the container make it stand out. Also look for a similar-shaped container from Frito-Lay, Plano, Texas, for its Mini 3-Ds Doritos. Expect more like this from others.

Ingredients
Unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid], partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening (canola, soybean and/or cottonseed oils), cheddar cheese [(pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), water, salt], salt, contains 2 percent or less of: cheese powder [cheddar cheese (milk, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes), whey, buttermilk, disodium phosphate], yeast, sugar, yeast extract, whey, yellow corn flour, leavening (baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), spices, onion powder, autolyzed yeast, annatto (color), natural butter flavor, citric acid, garlic powder, extractives of paprika (color), lactic acid, spice extract.

Nutrition
Serving size 51 pieces (30g/1.1 oz.), servings per container about 4, calories 140, calories from fat 50, total fat 6g, saturated fat 1.5g, polyunsaturated fat 0.5g, monounsaturated fat 3g, cholesterol less than 5mg, sodium 270mg, total carbohydrate 18g, dietary fiber less than 1g, sugars 0g, protein 4g, vitamin A 0%, vitamin C 0%, calcium 4%, iron 4%.

Additional InfoInnovative Package

Let It SoBe

Pepsi, Purchase, N.Y., often is known for unusual, unique products. Sure, some don't survive (Pepsi Clear, anyone?), but products under the Pepsi umbrella often have pushed the development envelope.

The latest product from the company is a joint venture with Unilever and falls under the Lipton brand. Matika is a line of high-end teas currently testing in Arizona stores. Containing 5% fruit juice and are sweetened with cane sugar (rather than fructose), the flavors are a bit unusual, as they include Mythical Mango and Dragonfruit Potion.

However, they sound a bit familiar. Snapple Elements, perhaps? Mistic Zotics, maybe? More likely, any of the varieties in the SoBe line. Although there is no confirmation of this, this line appears to be the first example of what SoBe can do for the Pepsi beverage empire.

Ingredients
Rising Starfruit: green tea, white grape juice from concentrate, cane sugar, natural starfruit and ginseng flavors with other natural flavors, carrot juice extract (for color), citric acid, guava juice from concentrate.

Nutrition
Serving size 8-fl. oz. (240ml), servings per container 2.5, calories 90, total fat 0g, sodium 30mg, total carbohydrate 24g, sugars 20g, protein 0g.