Going Tropical

Plenty of dried fruit snacks can be found on the market, in all varieties and flavors, but an increasing number of fruit snacks contain tropical fruits. In the U.S., one of the major marketers of dried fruit and dried fruit snacks is Sun-Maid Growers of California (Kingsburg, Calif.), which has recently introduced several more varieties in its dried fruit line.

Interestingly, the company is marketing its pitted dates as dried fruit snacks, which is not often the case with other companies. The Tropical Trio sells in a 7oz. stand-up resealable pouch for $2.49. Expect more products on the market in the months to come that focus on the natural goodness of fruit, and also on flavors with a tropical or international origin.

A Little Bit Sweet, A Little Bit Salty

General Mills' newest snack mix is Sweet 'n Salty Caramel Crunch. Featuring the usual suspects for Chex mix (Chex cereal and pretzels), the product also contains sweet cinnamon-roll shaped crunchy bits. The company positions it uniquely, prominently mentioning 60% less fat than regular potato chips. It probably could be more favorably compared to Crunch 'n' Munch or Poppycock, which are two of the original sweet-and-salty snacks on the U.S. market. The bag of Chex Mix can be purchased in 8.75- and 20-oz. packages; the smaller package sells for $2.59.

Pouring It On

General Mills (Minneapolis), which has one of the mainstay ready-to-use frosting brands (Betty Crocker), has made the product even simpler for consumers. With other ready-to-use frostings, consumers must stir up the product to lighten it a bit, and then use a knife or spatula to spread it on cake, cupcakes, cookies, or other foods. Its newest product, Pour & Frost, is intended to do just what it says.

It is a convenient, pourable frosting specifically designed for the microwave. Just heat, pour and spread easily across a 13 x 9-in. cake. The product comes at a good time, as consumers bake and tote cakes to picnics, family reunions and various summertime parties. It comes in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and milk chocolate. A 15-oz. container retails for $1.79. Now all we need is a cake that cuts itself.

The All-natural Route

As companies seek to capitalize on the high-protein nature of peanut butter (tying in to low-carb diets), there has been some renewed interest in the savory spread. Kraft Foods Canada (Don Mills, Ontario) has introduced an all-natural peanut butter.

Kraft, not always known for the perceived healthfulness of its products, takes a different approach with its peanut butter. There is one unique point of difference, however. Most natural peanut butters are geared to an adult audience, who might be more willing to forego the sweetness of traditional peanut butters. This one, judging by its graphics, is positioned toward kids. The company says it is made from quality peanuts that are roasted to perfection before being blended and sealed in the jar. A close look at the ingredient statement reveals just one ingredient--peanuts. The 750g jar sells for C$4.49 ($3.30) and, like other all natural peanut butters, must be refrigerated after opening.

Fully Cooked and Ready To Go

Increasingly, food products that normally would appear in the freezer case or in the refrigerated cabinet are appearing on store shelves. A perfect example is shelf-stable, pouch-packed ground beef. More shelf-stable cooked bacon slices can be found on the market, as well. The first one to come across our desks was a private label product sold through Super Valu (Minneapolis) outlets, but now Tyson (Springdale, Ark.) has elected to brand its own bacon in a shelf-stable format.

This bacon comes in a resealable pouch, so consumers can take out as much or as little as they would like and simply refrigerate the remainder. Consumers who are accustomed to seeing their bacon through a see-through window and choosing it based on fat content will miss this feature on the new packaging. Also significant is the price. Consumers will definitely pay for the convenience of storing their bacon next to their canned tuna: a 6.6-oz. pouch retails for $6.99.


In continental Europe, there has been much new product development for United Biscuits' BN biscuits brand, moving into the confectionery market and also into interesting formats including mini breakfast biscuits (cookies). The brand has diversified again: a new Jumpy product in France comprises a dip-and-spread concept whereby the dual-compartment pots hold finger biscuits in one section and a hazelnut/chocolate spread in the other.

Italian rice company Riso Scotti is entering other areas to heighten brand awareness and to better market the health benefits of rice. The company offers a range of Riso Scotti branded, 100% rice-based, gluten-free “pasta” products in the Italian market, available in standard pasta shapes such as spaghetti, linguine, rigatoni and fusilli.

The mature cheese market has been enlivened in recent years though a number of initiatives. These have included snacking propositions with introductions such as peelable stringy cheese sticks for children (e.g., Cheestrings in the U.K. from Kerry Foods), individually wrapped hand-held cheese bars and ice-lolly style cheese-on-a-stick. In the U.K., the Cheestrings line is facing some competition with the entrance of Dairylea Rippers from Kraft Foods. It comprises “seriously straight stringy sticks” of Dairylea cheese. They are ideal for lunchboxes and are available in multipacks of four or eight sticks.

The notion that women have a stronger desire for chocolate than men may be wavering, as evidenced by more chocolate-based products (confectionery and ice cream) for men. Targeting chocolate to men has focused on offering bigger sizes for larger appetites. This remains a key feature of the new Yorkie bar for men.

Breakfast cereal and bread have collided with two new offerings from Kellogg Canada. Two Scoops Raisin Bran Bread and All-Bran Loaf Bread are packaged with the same brand logo as the cereals and offer more attributes than traditional bread. Two Scoops Raisin Bran Bread offers 7g of fiber per serving and is made with 60% whole wheat flour, while the All-Bran Bread is low in trans fat and saturated fats, and provides 9g of fiber. Look for them on shelves throughout Canadian supermarkets.