Tea Wellness

Several new teas on the market are implying they do more than just steep. A new variety pack of Tazo teas sold at Starbucks (Seattle), Visions of Tazo, includes three vials of loose-leaf tea, one of which is an herbal tea called Calm. The three varieties are designed to be used together, a spoonful of each.

Another new tea product comes from Avon Products (New York).

The new tea, part of the Avon Wellness Infusions line, is Orange Spice Tea with Antioxidants. The line is said to “soothe the soul.” Other varieties include Bedtime Bliss, an herbal tea, and Lemon Bliss, which features vitamins. Also of note is The Republic of Tea's (Novato, Calif.) Sip for the Cure line of teas. Since its creation, proceeds from the line have been donated to charity for breast cancer research and funding. The company has now expanded that line to include four additional teas, including Pink Lemonade Green Tea and Pink Lady Apple Green Tea.

Soy Nutrition

A new generation of soy products is hitting store shelves. From Naked Foods (Santa Monica, Calif.) comes a new sub-brand called Crème de Soy. These refrigerated, ready-to-drink “fruit 'n' soy” smoothies contain 10g of soy protein, no added sugar, and real fruit juice. Citrus-cicle, Berried Treasure, and Peach Me I'm Dreamin' flavors are available.

Also expanding its soymilk offerings is 8th Continent (Minnetonka, Minn.). The company, an LLC venture of DuPont (Wilmington, Del.) and General Mills (Minneapolis), launched its original soymilk in 2001. It is now adding two varieties of Light Soymilks, chocolate and vanilla. A serving provides 7g of Solae-brand soy protein and 25% less calories than skim milk, while providing a dose of vitamins and calcium.

Private Among the Public

Private label products in the U.S. are beginning to catch up to their European counterparts in terms of quality and innovation. H-E-B (San Antonio), a supermarket chain found primarily in Texas, is advancing its offerings with products that provide consumers with choice and variation.

The H-E-B line includes nearly all sections of the packaged goods market, from OTC medicines to snacks and beverages, and also includes a line of kid-themed products, called H-E-Buddy. Located in the Southwest, the company's private label provides lines of refrigerated meat products that offer consumers convenience at wallet-friendly prices.

The fully cooked sub-brand includes Appeteasers, 1lb. of microwaveable meatballs with BBQ sauce for $3.99; and Lean Beef Brisket with BBQ Sauce, which is said to be “authentic pit smoked.” It retails for $2.99 and can also be prepared as packaged in the microwave.

Carb Shows

Regardless of whether the low-carb trend has become a permanent fixture of the American diet plan or is just a flash in the pan, the amount of new low-carb products (and existing products now promoted as low-carb) is bordering on prolific. Many companies have emerged in response to the low-carb craze. CarbSense Foods has added nearly 30 new products to the market since 2002, most focusing on baking mixes. However, CarbSense Foods' Aramana line includes two soy pasta-based meal kits that are prepared in 20 minutes. The products are tagged as all-natural and have 65% fewer carbohydrates than traditional skillet mixes. Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta and Cheddar Cheeseburger Pasta varieties are available. Companies also recognize that consumers on low-carb diet plans are willing to pay premium prices for their groceries; a 7oz. box, providing five 1-cup servings, retails for about $6.99—without the meat protein.

More Made Easy

Meal kits have expanded beyond the center-of-plate. Coming to market are several kits that take the trouble out of making side dishes, desserts and salads. Leading the charge is Del Monte (San Francisco), offering Del Monte Casserole Bakes, helping time-pressed cooks make Green Bean Casserole in five minutes. The package comes with two cans of French-style green beans, one can of cream of mushroom soup, and one can of crispy onion topping. The consumer adds milk.

While naysayers may argue, “making green bean casserole only takes five minutes anyway,” the time-saving is mostly in the shopping phase, for the consumer no longer has to track down the aisle with the onion topping. The kit retails for under $3, about the cost for the components separately. Last year, Eagle Family Foods (Tarrytown, N.Y.) released Eagle Brand Chocolaty S'mores Brownie Kit, which contains the Eagle-brand of condensed milk. Gil's Gourmet Gallery (Sand City, Calif.) also helps the less culinary-inclined to make salad dressing with its Salad Lover's Survival Kit; it contains spices, 10-year old balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil to mix and prepare a perfect dressing. Have things just gotten too easy?


The premium Kettle Chips brand of all-natural, hand-cooked potato chips is making moves on other root vegetables. New in the U.K. under its Specials range are Golden Parsnips savory snacks made with select parsnips, sunflower oil and sea salt. They are said to have a unique crispy bite, and offer another alternative to the popular potato snack. Kettle Chips is a company well known for its use of interesting and unique ingredients and flavors, with past novelties including colored crisps made with a unique variety of red potato, and burgundy wine-flavored crisps.

Within the hot beverages category, new chocolate and coffee blends continue to appear, with some interesting co-branded ideas. Confectionery brands are used often, with past new product examples including Nescafé Frothy instant coffee flavored with Butterfinger brand candy (from Nestlé), and Jacobs Family Choco Cappuccino with a Milka brand chocolate flavor (from Kraft Foods). The latest chocolate brand to join the Jacobs cappuccino fold in Germany is D'aim from Kraft Foods. The new product comprises single sachets of Jacobs Choco Cappuccino with soft-melting, crispy D'aim chocolate bits.

A company in Ireland has launched a new Irish coffee designed for microwave preparation. Shannon's Irish Coffee, new from Saint Brendan's Irish Cream Liqueur Co., is made with aged Irish whiskey and double cream and contains 11% alcohol by volume. Presented in a stemmed drinking glass with a handle and sealed with a foil lid, its layers of coffee and cream are “set” until it is heated in a microwave oven for 45 seconds.

In Italy, Bonduelle has introduced a new prepared salad under the name Agita e Gusta (“shake and taste”). The salad is packaged in a plastic tray incorporating an inner tub that holds a liquid dressing; the tray should be pressed in the middle to break the seal on the inner tub, and then shaken to allow the dressing to coat the salad. The pack also comes with a napkin and a plastic fork, and has a board sleeve to carry product information. Varieties include a mixed leaf salad with sweet corn & black olives.