Global Trends

Drink it up. Unusual drink flavors dominate this month, with a health drink in Japan flavored with pomegranate, honey and royal jelly, plus a U.K. beer flavored with kiwi.

Pomegranate, still the functional flavor of the moment in Japan, is believed to be beneficial to women's health. Among recent launches is Zakuro Honey Drink from Yamada Yohojo, a health-oriented drink made with concentrated pomegranate juice, honey and royal jelly.

Other novel health drinks include a new Snapple variety in South Africa. The Sun Starfruit Orange flavor blends juices infused with echinacea, beta-carotene and rosemary herbal extract. Also featuring herbal extracts is a new water-based beverage in Turkey, from Arifoglu. Its oregano leaf and flowers reputedly have healing qualities.

Some brewers are becoming adventurous by adding novel ingredients to their beers. French brewer Brasserie Morbraz has introduced L'Oceane, a 4.6% ABV beer made with seawater, said to have a "maritime" taste and aroma. Wychwood Brewery in the U.K. has added an exotic kiwi flavor to its organic ale.

Can't Beat these Beets

When one thinks of pickled beets, thoughts don't usually turn to variety or creativity. That's why Seneca Foods, Pittsford, N.Y., gets a hats-off. The company took a staple item one would never think of modifying and made it different. Its Aunt Nellie's Pickled Beets now come in a raspberry flavor. Though not the kind of flavor combination that comes readily to mind, it certainly does extend this mainstay product.

The flavored beets are packed in a 15-oz. glass jar and are available in supermarkets for $1.09 nationwide. Perhaps this is the beginning of a line of unusual flavored products--dill pickles that taste like hamburgers, or pickled onions flavored with gin, or the like.

Cookies in a Cup

Not very often do mainstream products have dual-language labeling, and even less seldom is that second language in Chinese, Japanese or Taiwanese. New Choice Food, Irwindale, Calif., offers its Choco Wafer Cubes cookies in such packaging. They are imported from Taiwan and are similar to many wafer-type cookies on the market.

In addition to the unusual labeling, the package is unique by U.S. standards. It is shaped like a paper drinking cup, with a paper seal. The cream-filled wafer cubes come in two varieties: Hazelnut Chocolate and Milk Chocolate.

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It's What Consumers Krave

Kellogg, Battle Creek, Mich., has joined the ranks of companies offering not only granola-type bars but also snack or energy bars. The main difference: the snack bars or energy bars usually are fortified in some way or promote their healthfulness. Often, too, they are meal replacements.

The Krave bars from Kellogg are billed as "refueling snack bars" but come in candy-bar flavors: Chocolate Peanut and Chocolate Delight. They are fortified with 11 vitamins and minerals and are a good source of protein and calcium. The bars retail in supermarkets in 6-ct. boxes for $3.19.

A Logical Choice

The number of products geared just to diabetics is growing. Mead Johnson Nutritionals, Evansville, Ind., has extended its Choice line to now include hot cereal. The company previously had introduced snack bars and drinks under the Choice label. This hot cereal retails in supermarkets and is priced at $4.49 for a box of six 1.4-oz. packets.

This is the first time we've seen a hot cereal just for diabetics. One big problem with all these products for diabetics: you can only find them in the pharmacy part of the supermarket. Sooner or later, they should start showing up with all the other grocery products on store shelves.

Coke Goes Beyond Cola

Coca-Cola, Atlanta, has been in the news lately, with its recent purchases and upcoming expansion into juice drinks. That--as well as its upcoming partnership with Procter & Gamble to market snacks and juices (executives have just been named; we likely won't see products for six or more months)--makes it clear that all kinds of things go better with Coke.

Perhaps in a move to compete with PepsiCo's South Beach Beverage products, or more simply to cash in on the growing Red Bull phenomenon in the U.S., Coke has come out with its own energy drink. This one is called KMX. Like the others, it is jazzed up with ginseng, guarana and caffeine. Unlike the others, it does not contain taurine. Perhaps the company is simply being careful, anticipating possible objections by the FDA to taurine in food products. The company is very cleverly marketing the new drink in areas with high concentrations of college students and other Generation Y users. Just watch--it won't be rum and Coke, it will be KMX and vodka.

KMX is testing in Miami, New Orleans, Boston, Oregon, southern California, Washington and two major college towns in Illinois (Champaign and Carbondale).

On the other end of the spectrum, Coke is selling, through its Minute Maid division, a line of orange juices that do not carry the Minute Maid brand name. It apparently is doing this to help it compete against PepsiCo's Tropicana. The line, called Simply Orange, is the first from the company that is not-from-concentrate and has plenty of pulp. It comes in original, calcium-fortified and grove-made (with even more pulp). Watch for it soon in the Northeast.