Prepared Foods September 6, 2005 eNewsletter

Betting that the appeal of nutraceuticals will grow, convenience store chain 7-Eleven Inc. is launching Formula 7, a proprietary line of functional foods and beverages.

Fortified with various vitamins, minerals, herbs, antioxidants, amino acids and other ingredients, the chain's "first wave" of new products falls under the following four profiles:

-- Energy: Consists of Formula 7 Energy Drink in 16oz. can, available in two flavors, Cherry Lime Lightning and Super Citrus Charge, and featuring B vitamin complex, gingko biloba, inositol, taurine and caffeine; and Formula 7 Chocolate Crunch Energy Bar, featuring B vitamin complex, bee pollen, green tea polyphenols and kola nut extract.

-- Energy/Mental Focus: Formula 7 Energy Beverage in 20oz. bottles, available in two flavors, Blood Orange and Raspberry Mint, and featuring vitamins B and E complex, gingko biloba, green tea polyphenols and Siberian ginseng.

-- Endurance: Formula 7 Chocolate Mocha Caramel Endurance Bar, featuring essential B vitamins, whey and soy proteins, and green tea polyphenols.

-- Fitness: Formula 7 Fitness Beverage in 20oz. bottles, available in Apple Rose and Natural Peach, and featuring B vitamin complex, green tea polyphenols, HCA and chromium.

The suggested retail price for both the bottled beverages and bars is $1.79, and $2.49 for the canned energy drinks. Graphic icons representing the nutritional benefits provided by the products appear on the packages and also on in-store signage, the retailer said.

In a statement, 7-Eleven cited several reasons for the new functional foods line, including consumers' balanced approach to diet and nutrition, an aging population, rising healthcare costs and an ever-growing number of studies linking the importance of diet to health and disease prevention.

"Consumers are looking for ways to improve their health -- whether it's changing their diet, lifestyle or looking to vitamin supplements," said Debbie Wildrick, product director for processed foods. "Formula 7 provides a great platform for us to develop additional items with specific attributes to enhance energy, endurance, wellness, strength and maybe more."

Defined by the International Food Information Council as any food or food component that may have health benefits beyond basic nutrition, functional foods are the top-selling category of packaged consumer health and wellness goods, with sales reaching $23.4 billion in 2004, according to the National Marketing Institute.

In a poll of food industry executives by Reuters Business Insight, functional foods were predicted to be the most successful healthy food products through 2009, with America following the lead of Asian-Pacific countries, which have the greatest consumer acceptance of the role of nutritional and functional foods and beverages, according to 7-Eleven.

7-Eleven said the energy drink category has achieved double-digit sales growth in its U.S. stores for several years. In addition, nutritional bars continue to grow in popularity.

"Formula 7 further expands our assortment of better-for-you offerings," Wildrick said. "These new items deliver distinctive flavor profiles like our cherry lime-flavored energy drink, or the energy bar, which contains interesting ingredients and tastes great. Formula 7 provides performance products for mainstream consumers by offering value, taste and benefits."