A Growing Premium Trend?

There appears to be an increase in products geared to upscale consumers, and the products have upscale price points. In fact, low-price stores, such as Price Chopper (Schenectady, N.Y.), are offering more-upscale lines than they have in the past.

Price Chopper's line, Central Market, includes a variety of products, including entrées, side dishes and hors d'oeuvres. Most are frozen and microwaveable; many are single-serve. All have the word “premium” in the name. More-recent products under the brand are the company's French onion and cream of mushroom soups. Both come in two-count boxes of single servings. They are frozen and go into the microwave for just a few minutes before being ready to eat. Compared to other soups, they are not cheap--$4.99 for the box of two 20oz. portions.

Live Cultures for Baby

Stonyfield Farms (Londonderry, N.H.) has done a very good job with its YoBaby yogurt line for small children. Now, it has extended that brand with a drinkable yogurt variety. Like the spoonable yogurt, this drinkable one also is organic and targets infants and toddlers.

Unlike so many yogurts for older children and for adults, these are made with whole milk rather than low-fat or fat-free milk, resulting in a product with more calories and fat than other drinkable yogurts. The banana and peach flavors are sweetened with organic sugar rather than artificial sweeteners, making them more attractive for mothers to give to their children. Like other Stonyfield products, they also contain active cultures.

Tea for Travelers

Continuing the theme of seeing more gourmet and upscale products on the market, tea also is seeing unique developments. Normally, the U.S. sees most unique developments with coffee and very upscale or exclusive brands of loose tea. Harney & Sons Fine Tea (Salisbury, Conn.) certainly is not a company that sells its products in all outlets, but it is more mainstream than some teas on the market.

While this concept is not completely new or unusual, it is significant to see travel tea tins appear from more companies. Harney's latest traveler tins contain just a few teabags in a metal tin that pops open when its center is pressed. What stands out about the tea is the high quality of the ingredients. The Chinese flower variety, for example, has fairly large flowers and buds as part of the tea. Other flavors in the traveler tins include hot cinnamon sunset and mid-summer's peach decaf. The 0.27oz. tins retail for a not-insignificant $3.50.

Sliding into a Younger Market

Quaker Oats (Chicago) has expanded its Gatorade offering into smoothie drinks geared specifically to kids. Called GSlide, the concept is a good one--a drink brand with a strong nutritional focus for a younger market. These drinks are different than regular Gatorade in that they are smoothies and contain whey protein. As a result, the drinks contain a balance of protein and carbohydrates. Promoted specifically as being “uniquely designed” for growing athletes, the line is a good source of calcium and protein, to help build strong bones and muscles, the company says.

The product comes in 8oz. four-packs of bottles that have a curvy shape that is easy to hold. The smaller size, too, is very suitable for younger consumers. They come in strawberry, blue raspberry and watermelon.

Girl Power

Of late, more products on the market are geared specifically to women. These are not, however, strictly in the skincare and cosmetic categories. Rather, products that would not normally be focused specifically to women now have a distinct feminine twist. Two such products are shown here.

Pasta Shoppe (Nashville, Tenn.), the gourmet company that really put unusually shaped pasta on the map, has introduced its “girlfriend” pasta. What makes the pasta specifically for women are the shapes: handbags, cell phones and shoes. In addition, the pasta is colored pink or white to further reinforce the feminine nature of the product.

Unusual shapes also appear on sugar cookies from Girlfriend Confections (Milwaukee). So Girlfriend cookies come in similar shapes: mirror, lipstick, nail polish, tiara and, of course, cell phones and purses. In addition, the cookies come in a purse-shaped box.

Condiments Scorecard

Total introductions by various categories

Jan-November 2004 2003
Dressing/vinegar/mayo 145 144
Oils 80 81
Pickled condiments 72 111
Sauces 249 225
Seasonings 130 187

Derived on 11/23/04 from: Mintel's Global New Products Database,

www.gnpd.com/Ph: 312-932-0400/PF


The U.K. retailer Somerfields now retails its cheese selection in convenient, ready-to-eat portions in a tub. The Mini Snacking Cheese Selection is a pack of individually packaged mini cheeses, designed for snacking. The selection comprises: Mexicana Cheddar (cheddar cheese with Mexican chili and jalapeño peppers); Double Gloucester; Red Leicester; Applewood (smoke-flavored cheddar); and Farmhouse Cheddar. Each portion features a cheese strength guide that varies from 1 (mild) to 5 (vintage/reserve). Like other products on the market, these portable dairy products are meeting the dietary and instant gratification needs of grab-and-go consumers.

More cheese news comes from Fuchs Gewürze, the manufacturer of seasonings and spices. Just launched in Germany is Parmesanwürzer, a range of grated parmesan cheese ready-mixed with selected herbs and spices. The varieties in the range are suitable for pasta, salads, gratin dishes, vegetable preparations and tomato and mozzarella dishes. The range comprises: Kräuter Parmesan (herbs & parmesan); Knoblauch Parmesan (garlic & parmesan); Basilikum Parmesan (basil & parmesan); and Tomate Parmesan (tomato & parmesan).

Tins or cans are becoming a thing of the past. Sainsbury's, the U.K. supermarket chain, is using Tetra Pak's Tetra Recart retortable cartons for its chopped tomatoes. This modern form of packaging offers consumers a format that is convenient, lighter to carry and opens easily, using a perforated tear strip along the top of the carton itself. The carton is recyclable in the same waste stream as traditional beverage cartons and provides ease of storage in the fridge or cupboard. The Sainsbury's range of chopped tomatoes in tomato juices are available with: Onion & Basil; Sliced Green & Black Olives; Olive Oil & Roasted Garlic; and Basil & Oregano.

Give the Japanese some credit for their never-ending quest for innovation. First, it was green tea cereal. Next, it was sweet potato and azuki granola. This latest from Calbee Foods is a fusion between porridge and granola. Crispy rice and oats are garnished with sweet potatoes, azuki beans (small, russet-colored beans with sweet flavor) and pumpkin seeds, and topped up at the end with milk.

Launching a New Consumer Product?
If so, contact Lynn Dornblaser at
Mintel Group, 351 W. Hubbard St., Floor 8,
Chicago, IL 60610.
Call 312-932-0600,
fax 312-932-0474 or e-mail
lynnd@mintel.com. Information
in this column is from the Global New Products
Database, the premier source of global product
intelligence, published by Mintel International Group.